Going Forward.

I’ve been down for the count the past 3 weeks. I’ve been to the doctor twice; the second time showed the crap I had turned into an infection. Strong antibiotics were prescribed for me and my kids. (It was a family affair.) I’m happy to report that my kids are better, but, while I’m marginally better, I’m still far from 100%, which, frankly, just plain stinks. I’ve never been one to just lay around and do nothing. I need to feel productive by the end of each day. I need to feel like I didn’t waste precious time, time my children’s grandmother would have loved to have. But that’s where I’ve been the past 3 weeks: in bed. I struggled to read a mere 2 books. I kept coughing and losing my spot on the page/screen until I eventually gave up. (The same with writing. – Fun fact: I tend to cover my mouth with my dominant hand, a.k.a. my writing hand.) So, I’ve spent most of the last 3 weeks watching over 150 episodes of Bones. I’ve never been so sick that I couldn’t read before. Even recovering from surgery, I’ve always been able to read. It was foreign and scary. It drove me bonkers. It’s still irritating me. Just typing this paragraph, I’ve stopped multiple times to cough. Fingers crossed this post isn’t a jumbled mess.

I’m up because I’m tired of being in bed. I’m up because my to-do list has doubled in the weeks I’ve been recuperating. I’m up because I’m done letting this crud kick my rear asset. I’m up because I have books to write and work to do. I’m up because I’m done being down. I’d rather hack up a lung every couple minutes but accomplish something, even if in bits and pieces, and feel productive than to continue to let everything pile up. (Side bar. – Do you know how messy a house gets, particularly with 3 kids and 2 dogs, when you’re not cleaning it every single day because you’re too sick to? It’s not pretty.)

Now that you know why I disappeared this time around, let’s get down to business.

I’ve always been open with y’all, and it’s about to get real.

Kindle Unlimited changed the game, and then Kindle Unlimited changed.

Like every other author I know, I am both an author and a reader. Since I enrolled all of my titles in Kindle Unlimited, I’ve been a KU customer myself. In the beginning, I was excited. Who doesn’t love the idea of being able to borrow and read an unlimited number of books anytime they want for as long as they want? That first month I borrowed more than my fair share of titles, most of which I’d been eye-balling for some time but couldn’t bring myself to spend beyond my book budget to purchase. The second month, I began reading authors I’d never heard of. I was more comfortable taking risks on newbies because there was no financial gamble. (Fun fact. – I’ve never returned a book, even if I didn’t enjoy it.) By month three, I returned to my top authors, some old and a couple new, and began to comb through their newer content.

And this is where it went downhill.

Authors I’ve always enjoyed were no longer enjoyable. Titles have shortened in length. Authors are writing less in each book to produce more books. (Note. – Many readers aren’t aware, but Amazon has algorithms that affect marketing and promotion of an author’s title(s). For instance, authors who publish more frequently are better represented in recommended buy lists than authors who take their time and publish full-length titles a couple times a year. The magical number? 30 days. Amazon wants authors to publish a new title every 30 days to remain in their good graces and receive visibility.) Knowing the industry giant, I’m totally fine with shorter books. In fact, I prefer them most of the time. (Fun fact. – I love nothing more than indulging in a juicy short story before bed each night.)

What I don’t prefer is more options with little-to-no quality, little-to-no substance.

Since the dawn of self-publishing in the e-book industry, there has been a battle, a long drawn out disregard for self-published titles under the notion that they often lack in quality. I won’t argue that point. Frankly, a lot of titles I’ve read needed an editor, needed a solid proofread before publication yet didn’t receive one. There is no such thing as a perfect book, though. I don’t expect perfection, but I do desire an escape, an indulgent fictional vacation, and, sadly, I haven’t received that since month two in KU.

The KU library of choices has multiplied exponentially these last few months, yet I find myself lacking the patience to sift through countless options seeking something that intrigues me, that captures my attention from the sample onwards, and doesn’t lack in quality. 90% of the authors I used to be able to count on have disappointed me. Kindle Unlimited changed the game, and then Kindle Unlimited changed. In the beginning I was ecstatic at the array of quality options at the top of the lists, at the forefront. Now, I grow weary from searching, from sifting, and typically either read an old reliable title I already own or find some sort of drivel to watch on Hulu.

This is what I’ve noted, what I’ve experienced as a reader with Kindle Unlimited: I’m a desperate yet exhausted reader who is crying out for something decadent to devour on my Kindle, but I don’t have the patience to locate it, to seek and find that luxurious morsel of fiction. The genres are cluttered with sub par partial stories that have made me want to throw my Kindle in the trash, curl up in a ball and sob with disappointment.

As an author, what started out as a way of rejuvenating my sales and rankings has now become the polar opposite; it’s now the detriment to my income. (Note. – Authors who participate in Kindle Unlimited contract titles into the program for 90 days. This contract is typically auto-renewed every 90 days by Amazon unless the author goes into their back office and alters this. During those 90 days, the author cannot publish the content on any other platform without consequences.) (Note. – No matter the price of the title enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon pays a flat fee per borrow to the author. The scary part? The amount to be paid out per borrow isn’t announced until 15 days past the end of that month’s sales.I didn’t find out how much my March borrows were worth until April 15th.) Currently, my borrows are at an all-time low and my sales are at an all-time low, despite consistently releasing new content. My conclusion? As a KU reader, I was overwhelmed and became disengaged. As an author, I can only assume that my readers feel the same way.

So now what?

My titles are locked in for 90 days from their last date of enrollment or auto-re-enrollment. I can’t change that until my KU contracts end. But, when they do, I will be cycling everything out. Almost every industry continually evolves, continually changes. Few things ever remain the same. Admittedly, though, I’m disappointed that KU didn’t pan out long-term for me as a reader and as an author.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely dismissing Kindle Unlimited. It’s a great idea, a genius concept, but, it’s far from perfect. Any book platform, retailer, and/or publishing model that encourages the sacrifice of quality should be ashamed. Think of the classics. If the greats were forced to publish every 30 days to satisfy an algorithm, they would likely no longer be great. Inside and outside of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon practically demands consistent new content to achieve any margin of success with its customers.

I’ve never been comfortable rushing. I’ve never been (morally and ethically) able to relinquish quality for quantity. That’s why some of my titles have been delayed with the publisher: I refuse to lower my standards from where they currently are. I’ve grown exponentially as a writer in four years. I’m not the same author I used to be. I string words differently, better. I would be doing everyone a disservice by releasing old content that is now below my current par.

As my contracts end with the Kindle Unlimited program, my books will once again be available through all vendors, including many new ones, such as Google Play. Going forward, I probably won’t enroll my new titles in Kindle Unlimited until their sales have stagnated across all other vendor sites. I believe this is the most ethical way to utilize Kindle Unlimited. When it comes to politics, I’ve never chosen sides. I take everything in, weigh the pros and cons to their proposals, each candidate’s proposed solutions, and then decide, not based on red or blue, but based on hard truth, on plausibility and on fact. The hard truth is, I doubt my sales and borrows will recuperate during the remainder of my contracts with Kindle Unlimited. Do I regret participating, as a reader and/or an author? Absolutely not. Experience is everything. You can’t beat first hand knowledge. Admittedly, in the beginning KU saved me financially after a difficult year, both personally and professionally. I’m grateful for it.

But every good sailor knows when to jump ship, and every good businessman knows when to adjust his approach.

I’ve learned so much in the four years that I’ve been published. Like every industry, publishing is full of ups and downs. Like any commission based job, my income has fluctuated all over the chart. My single victory? I’ve survived it all. (Fun fact. –  I’ve always been stubborn. Once I set my mind to something, there is no altering my course.) I will never stop writing. I will likely never stop publishing what I write either. Every author is a business owner. And every business owner knows that complacency is the first sign of their demise.

Kindle Unlimited was merely the first of many changes I’m certain will come in the publishing industry for the e-market. It’s a valiant, triumphant effort on Amazon’s part in many ways. But, like most things in life, it’s far from perfect. For me, KU has officially become a passing fancy. I will likely switch reading platforms for the time being and only purchase titles on Kindle from authors that haven’t disappointed me, authors I know by name to seek out. As an author, I will be branching back out and no longer contributing to a monopoly on the e-book market. The fact is, I doubt anyone will ever trump Amazon. The best part of that? To this day, there are far more Windows computers in use than Macs, despite Macs being far less susceptible to malware, viruses, and general breakdown over time. Apple isn’t secondary in quality. They never have been. The difference between Windows and Mac to a user? Preference.

Success is based on (customerpreference in the majority of industries.

As a customer, I no longer prefer KU, and, as an author, I feel the same.

If you are a KU subscriber, borrow my titles while you can. Several books will be removed from the lending library on April 27th with the others following sporadically through July. By July 30th, 98% of my titles will no longer be participating in the Kindle Unlimited program. Again, if sales drop off for a title across the board, I’m not opposed to (re)enrolling it in the program, but, as of right now, that will likely be the only exception.

Final fact. It’s taken me 3 hours to type this…because I’ve coughed more times than I can count. My work station is pleading to be doused in Lysol.

Here are a few title updates:

1. Unbreakable is no longer available as a 4-part serial. It is only available as a single book option, however, I did enroll it in Kindle Unlimited as a courtesy for those who borrowed any of the first 3 parts since its original release.

Slide1

Buy or Borrow it Now:
AMAZON

2. Each title in the Alpha Doms series is no longer available individually. The box set is the only purchasing option at this time. Again, as a courtesy to readers who have borrowed a few of the (individual) titles already, I enrolled the box set in Kindle Unlimited.

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Buy or Borrow it Now:
AMAZON

3. My most recent series, Military Quickies, will continue. I have more titles in the works, however, they will not be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited upon release. So borrow these while you can.

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Buy or Borrow it Now:
AMAZON

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*A FUN AND SPICY READER FAVORITE!*
Buy or Borrow it Now:
AMAZON

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Buy or Borrow it Now:
AMAZON

4. One Cajun Night Part 2 is still in the writing phase due to being sick. It is coming, though, along with Karley’s Surrender, Wolf Charming (tentative title for Cade’s story, from Two Times the Charm) and many more.

5. Print release(s) have been pushed back by the publisher to 2016. As of right now, the only definitive print release date I have is for the One Soldier series. The revised and updated version of One Letter, One E-mail, One Christmas and One Note (new!) will be bound together and released in bookstores on March 18th, 2016. As soon as I know any other release dates, I will pass them along.

6. Every year I’ve released a new Christmas title. By July, you will see those holiday books bundled and offered at a discounted rate for purchase. (Christmas in July, anyone?)

Side Announcement:
If anyone will be attending the Innocence Network Conference in Orlando April 30th – May 2nd, I will be speaking and participating in a panel on publishing at the conference. Feel free to say hi! You can find a full list of speakers here: CLICK ME. – I will be attending other conferences and conventions later this year. I’m working on creating an events page to share these dates. Check back soon for that.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it again and again. THANK YOU! Thank you to each and every one of you who have purchased and/or borrowed any of my titles. Thank you for continuing to support me, and in turn my family, for four years now. Thank you for your patience, your loyalty, particularly as I wade through the ever-changing market. I adore you. I appreciate you. I would not be where I am without you. I wouldn’t have survived for four years without you. And I won’t survive the next four without you. I’m hyperaware of that, and will forever be humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude because of that fact. You’re invaluable. Thank you, thank you, thank you! – Christin

It’s Spring.

It’s officially spring, but it already feels like summer in Florida. We’ve touched 90-degrees many times already. The heat and humidity are darn near unbearable in the afternoon. It has me hibernating more than usual, devouring more iced coffee than usual, and longing for the “winter” days behind me. Admittedly, I’m not dreading summer quite as much as I usually do this year. That’s because I have a multitude of swimsuits and plan to rock them all in the pool in our backyard – it’s only a slight upgrade from a kiddie pool, but does the job – and the beach. I plan to cool off every chance I get. I plan to soak up as much vitamin D as possible, work on my tan, and really try to make summer a positive experience rather than something that sends me into a full-on vampire panic. Plus, there is nothing more relaxing than writing a fun beach romance while lounging in the sun.

I’ve been reminded on more than one occasion lately to enjoy every single minute I’m blessed with.

March 18th was my children’s grandmother’s birthday…or it would have been. They say the first one is the hardest. Every year we did something for her birthday. I took her out, created a good memory with her, memories I now cherish dearly. It doesn’t erase the hollow pit of sadness in my chest from not being able to create any more new ones. Some days are harder than others; some days are easier than others. It’s hard to forget someone that was such an integral part of your life.

But life does go on. Time continues to pass, whether we’re making the most of it or not.

They say that on your death bed, you don’t regret the things you did; you regret the things you didn’t do. I don’t want to have a laundry list of regrets come that fateful day. I want to look back and smile, to feel a sense of peace, to embrace nothing but pride when I look back.

Which means living each day to the best of my ability. Accomplishing as much as I can without sacrificing too many moments with my family.

It’s a hard balancing act that, quite frankly, I often feel like I’m failing at. The beauty of working from home is no commute. The curse of working from home is there is no distinct separation from career and personal time. Everything blurs together and I’m constantly carrying around a bag of guilt. If I’m playing with my kids, I feel guilty because I have a mountain of titles that could use my attention, a slew of characters itching for me to write their stories. If I’m working, I feel guilty that I’m not spending time with my kids, making as many good, happy memories as possible for them.

The hard truth is, though, you don’t look back and regret not working more; you regret not spending more time with your family. There’s knowing that truth, and then there’s living that truth. It’s all about your priorities, and how you arrange them.

This is a lesson one set of characters has down pat, and another must learn the hard way in my newest releases. They’re definitely a reflection of my thoughts lately, my dreams, my wishes, my ambitions, my constant struggle for this beautiful, ever-elusive thing called balance.

I hope you enjoy them! – Christin

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HER MARINE
Military Quickies #2

One extra curvy author.
One extra ripped Marine.
Four years of marriage.
One day of passion.

Logan Wilde is a moderately successful mystery thriller author, a military wife, and a well-loved curvy girl.

Sergeant Russell Wilde, aka Rage, doesn’t do soft or sensual. He’s a hard man, a hard soldier, and a hard lover. He doesn’t share and he doesn’t believe in mercy, but he does believe a real man puts his woman first. Always.

BUY OR BORROW IT NOW:
Amazon

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HER RANGER
Military Quickies #3

One extra curvy blogger.
One extra feisty Army Ranger.
One chance at redemption.

Catherine Celli is a military wife, an Army-spouse-lifestyle blogger, and a full-figured woman whose world comes crashing down when it’s announced that her husband is MIA. She’s forced to do the only thing she can: cling to hope.

Master Sergeant Ronaldo Celli is one hell of a soldier, one hell of a fighter. He never gives up on making it home to his wife. But when he finally returns, neither of them is the same.

For weeks, all they had was hope. Now that they have each other again, they find that hope is still required, because all wounds need time to heal.

BUY OR BORROW IT:
Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Unbreakable

It’s release day! And, surprise! All 4 parts of Unbreakable are available TODAY. That’s a total of 6 titles from me for the month of February with more coming in March. I’ve been a busy bee.

I am still in North Carolina. I have a ton of titles due to my publisher this month, with four more due next month. I’ve been running on a lot of coffee and very little sleep. The weather is wonderful here, though. I’m in love! We even got a bit of snow yesterday morning. I wish I could get this in Florida. (Have I mentioned how much I loathe the heat, the humidity, and the lack of any other season but hot in Florida?) I’m dreading going back already. (I will be heading back down on Sunday, March 1st, going from a high of 52-degrees to a high of 82-degrees.)

For those of you asking specifically about these things:
1. One Cajun Night Part 2 should be releasing in March.
2. I’ve updated the Vamp Chronicles page to further answer/explain about the series, specifically the final book. (I have no control. The publisher has the titles.)
3. Cade’s story (Two Times the Charm) will be coming likely in summer of this year. I’ll nail down a specific date as I finish up his title.
4. Karley’s Surrender will be re-released for certain this spring. I’m aiming for the end of March or the first week of April.

To be honest, I’ve been struggling with keeping up with my indie works and my publisher titles. I don’t think I’ve ever worked this much. I eat, sleep and breath words, books, story after story. I refuse to sacrifice quality, though, so I’ve been slow to release (my indie stuff) until I get a chance to proof read after the titles pass through my editor. It’s so easy to miss things when all of the words are blurring together.

As a heads up, February 28th will be the FINAL day you can borrow/purchase any title in the One Soldier Series. One Letter, One E-mail, One Christmas, and One Note (not yet released) are being passed over to the publisher this month. The publisher will be doing new artwork, a fresh edit and bundling the stories for a print release hopefully during the holiday season this year. I know they will be (re)releasing the e-books sooner, but I’m not certain about dates yet. I have confirmed that pricing will be about the same as it is now, however the titles won’t be available in Kindle Unlimited for borrow. So borrow them while you can!

Thanks for all of your patience and support as I work through the first part of this year. I knew it was going to be crazy and hectic, but it’s equally exciting. I’m amazed at all I have to look forward to this year, and hope you’ll stick by me until you can see the fruits of the labors I’m doing now. There is so much coming your way!

For now, here’s a recap of what’s released in February and the buy/borrow links for them.

Slide1One Cajun Night, Part 1
A BBW Navy SEAL Cougar Romance

One extra curvy woman.
One extra sexy Navy SEAL Officer.
One night of fun, on the best night to be in New Orleans: Fat Tuesday.

At forty, plus size Samantha Baker was still trying to figure her life out, and then, along came Hardy Johnson – Navy SEAL, big flirt, and the best kisser she’d had the pleasure of kissing. He broke her out of her corporate shell and rocked her world.

The problem? His ship is only docked for thirty-six hours, which isn’t long enough to fall in love…or is it?

This Mardi Gras, there’s more than parades, music and beads; there’s magic, love and possibility…and those are the things that turn strangers into friends, friends into lovers, and lovers into so much more.

*Please note that One Cajun Night is a two-part serial.*

Buy or Borrow it Now: AMAZON

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Slide1Her Soldiers
A Military BBW Contemporary Menage

One extra curvy woman.
Two extra sexy soldiers.
Seven months of waiting.

Savannah Sullivan kissed her men good-bye seven long months ago. They’d missed the holidays and her birthday, which meant they had a lot of making up to do.

Ben and Brody Sullivan returned from deployment ready to make up for lost time. But a lot can happen in seven months, and one of them comes home with scars and a secret.

Every military wife knows what she’s signing up for, but signing on the dotted line and facing the reality of it are two totally different things.

Buy or Borrow it Now: AMAZON

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Slide1Unbreakable, Parts 1-4
A BBW Contemporary Romance Serial

Plus size Dayna’s world fell apart when her husband was killed. Three years later, she’s still struggling to put the past behind her. She’s lived her entire life trying to meet other people’s standards, but, with a son to raise, her career in jeopardy, and her happiness still missing, she’s cracking beneath the pressure.

Except when one man is around: Wes.

Wes has tried to be what Dayna and Duncan needed, but a demanding job that takes him away for unknown periods makes it impossible for him to be a stable support for them. With each day that passes, though, his desire for Dayna increases, forcing him to make decisions he’d been avoiding, decisions about his career, his life, and her.

But all is not as it seems. Secrets will be revealed, challenges will be faced, and triumphs must be made.

Someone once said that, “Love conquers all,” but how much can love truly conquer?

*Unbreakable is a 4-part serial, and together it makes book 1 of the Precaution Series.*

PART 1
Buy or Borrow it Now: AMAZON

PART 2
Buy or Borrow it Now: AMAZON

PART 3
Buy or Borrow it Now: AMAZON

PART 4
Buy or Borrow it Now: AMAZON

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Have a great Wednesday! – Christin

February Releases

Here is what you can look forward to the rest of February. All titles are complete. All release dates are set in stone.
*Please note that ALL titles are 18 & older only.*

Slide1ONE CAJUN NIGHT, Part 1
Available Now!

One extra curvy woman.
One extra sexy Navy SEAL Officer.
One night of fun, on the best night to be in New Orleans: Fat Tuesday.

At forty, plus size Samantha Baker was still trying to figure her life out, and then, along came Hardy Johnson – Navy SEAL, big flirt, and the best kisser she’d had the pleasure of kissing. He broke her out of her corporate shell and rocked her world.

The problem? His ship is only docked for thirty-six hours, which isn’t long enough to fall in love…or is it?

This Mardi Gras, there’s more than parades, music and beads; there’s magic, love and possibility…and those are the things that turn strangers into friends, friends into lovers, and lovers into so much more.

*Please note that One Cajun Night is a two-part serial.*

Buy or Borrow it Now: Amazon

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HER SOLDIERS
February 19th, 2015

One extra curvy woman.
Two extra sexy soldiers.
Seven months of waiting.

Savannah Sullivan kissed her men good-bye seven long months ago. They’d missed the holidays and her birthday, which meant they had a lot of making up to do.

Ben and Brody Sullivan returned from deployment ready to make up for lost time. But a lot can happen in seven months, and one of them comes home with scars and a secret.

Every military wife knows what she’s signing up for, but signing on the dotted line and facing the reality of it are two totally different things.

Buy or Borrow it February 19th!

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Slide1UNBREAKABLE, Part 1
February 25th, 2015

Plus size Dayna’s world fell apart when her husband was killed. Three years later, she’s still struggling to put the past behind her. She’s lived her entire life trying to meet other people’s standards, but, with a son to raise, her career in jeopardy, and her happiness still missing, she’s cracking beneath the pressure.

Except when one man is around: Wes.

Wes has tried to be what Dayna and Duncan needed, but a demanding job that takes him away for unknown periods makes it impossible for him to be a stable support for them. With each day that passes, though, his desire for Dayna increases, forcing him to make decisions he’d been avoiding, decisions about his career, his life, and her.

But all is not as it seems. Secrets will be revealed, challenges will be faced, and triumphs must be made.

Someone once said that, “Love conquers all,” but how much can love truly conquer?

*Please note that Unbreakable is a three-part serial.*

Buy or Borrow it February 25th!

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UNBREAKABLE, Part 2
February 26th, 2015

Plus size Dayna’s world fell apart when her husband was killed. Three years later, she’s still struggling to put the past behind her. She’s lived her entire life trying to meet other people’s standards, but, with a son to raise, her career in jeopardy, and her happiness still missing, she’s cracking beneath the pressure.

Except when one man is around: Wes.

Wes has tried to be what Dayna and Duncan needed, but a demanding job that takes him away for unknown periods makes it impossible for him to be a stable support for them. With each day that passes, though, his desire for Dayna increases, forcing him to make decisions he’d been avoiding, decisions about his career, his life, and her.

But all is not as it seems. Secrets will be revealed, challenges will be faced, and triumphs must be made.

Someone once said that, “Love conquers all,” but how much can love truly conquer?

*Please note that Unbreakable is a three-part serial.*

Buy or Borrow it February 26th!

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UNBREAKABLE, Part 3
February 27th, 2015

Plus size Dayna’s world fell apart when her husband was killed. Three years later, she’s still struggling to put the past behind her. She’s lived her entire life trying to meet other people’s standards, but, with a son to raise, her career in jeopardy, and her happiness still missing, she’s cracking beneath the pressure.

Except when one man is around: Wes.

Wes has tried to be what Dayna and Duncan needed, but a demanding job that takes him away for unknown periods makes it impossible for him to be a stable support for them. With each day that passes, though, his desire for Dayna increases, forcing him to make decisions he’d been avoiding, decisions about his career, his life, and her.

But all is not as it seems. Secrets will be revealed, challenges will be faced, and triumphs must be made.

Someone once said that, “Love conquers all,” but how much can love truly conquer?

*Please note that Unbreakable is a three-part serial.*

Buy or Borrow it February 27th!

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I hope y’all enjoy each of these! – Christin

Dear Anonymous

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I’ve openly discussed body image many times in the past, specifically speaking to confidence. (A couple recent ones can be read HERE and HERE.) Major corporations have run campaigns as of late regarding body image, entire conferences are dedicated to body positivity, movements have been made in size acceptance, and, the bottom line is, our bodies are being talked about, discussed and dissected more than ever before.

But not always the way they should be.

It’s no secret that I’m fat. I’m not just pleasingly plump. I’m extra curvy with a side of extra curvy. I shop strictly in the plus size section, although I absolutely avoid the granny plus size section. And, I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not ashamed of my body. Every imperfection is a story, a tale of strength and triumph. How could I hate a body that has carried me through 29 years, 25 of which I hated it, I abused it, I even cut it on purpose? Very few people know this, but I used to cut myself because I hated my body that much, because I was that angry, that upset, that depressed. Because I felt trapped. I didn’t look at my body as a beautiful vessel that had gotten me through surgery after surgery as a child; I looked at my body as the enemy, the reason why I wasn’t popular, the reason why everyone hated me and spewed horrible words at me. I victimized myself in the worst way, and, instead of healing, I only caused more harm, more damage.

Often, we make the mistake of assuming that thin equals healthy. Likewise, we make the assumption that fat equals unhealthy. For instance, did you know that Halle Berry and Nick Jonas – thin, fit, “healthy” people – have diabetes? Further “proving” the point, Penn & Teller’s show, Bullshit!, did an episode on obesity. (You can watch it HERE. – Warning: they curse… a lot.) In it, they did something they referred to as the “Fat Olympics.” They put men who were all over the obese side of the BMI chart against someone at the top of the normal range. Guess what? The “fit” guy lost every single time.

Judging a body is like judging a book by its cover. Just because the cover is pretty doesn’t mean the story is, the pages inside are. Reversing, just because the cover is awful, (and, sweet cherry pie, have I seen some horrifying covers), doesn’t mean the story isn’t worthwhile, isn’t engaging, captivating, and awe-inspiring.

Your cover may not be what the world deems as ideal, as perfect, but that doesn’t mean your story isn’t worth reading, that you’re not worthy enough, undeserving, of popularity, of acceptance, of love. You shouldn’t be condemned to the dark, cobweb filled corners of society simply because you don’t meet the standards of others.

The funny part? They are so self-absorbed, so vain, that they don’t even stop to consider that they may not meet our standards. Because, yes, I am fat, I’m not what society believes to be healthy, beautiful or acceptable, but you’re darned right that I have standards, standards that not everyone will meet.

The difference? I don’t condemn them for it. I don’t alienate them for it. I accept that their standards are not my own, that their moral compass points to a different North. It doesn’t mean they aren’t worth knowing, aren’t worth a conversation. It just means that, while I could love them, I would never want to be them.

That’s the other shocking part of it all. I don’t want to be anyone but me.

For twenty-five years, I was angry. I was upset and hurt that my family hurled fat curses at me on the regular, that the ones that were supposed to love me the most, didn’t. I wasn’t good enough. My size cancelled all merit. My thinner sister was a troublemaker, but she wasn’t the one they punished. Because she wasn’t what they feared the most; I was. It took me twenty-five years to realize that they didn’t hate me, they hated what I represented. Everyone in my family is body conscious. They chronically sought, and still seek, the perfect size two illusion, and because I didn’t join them in the quest, because I didn’t strive to follow their manic example, I wasn’t worthy of their adoration, because being a successful fat student still made me a failure because of a single adjective. Still to this day, I’m loved, my accomplishments are acknowledged, but I’m not loved unconditionally, because I don’t fit their mold, because I don’t walk through the store admiring the thin women more than the products around us, because I dare to love myself as I am rather than to withhold love until I’m a size two. Because I’m the one who stands out in the family photos, twice the size of any other woman around me, and yet I hold my head the highest.

It wasn’t easy to get here. The journey is hard. It’s difficult to rewire your brain, to change what you were taught to think, to feel, and to believe. It’s hard to stop believing a lie you’ve held as truth your entire life.

Where do you start? How do you start? How do you turn your back on all you’ve known? How do you defy the people who raised you? Where do you gain the courage to give them the middle finger, to ignore every single back-handed compliment, every single negative slur, every single dirty look?

It starts in the mirror.

I grew up in church. We bounced around, never staying long enough for me to get too comfortable in a single congregation, but I learned enough at each one to build the solid faith-based foundation I hold tight to today. Every church preached the same scriptures, but they spoke of different truths in the same words, forcing me to decipher them for myself. Beauty is the same way. It’s perceptive; everyone interprets it differently. My family will always attach a ‘but‘ to my beauty: she would be so much prettier if she lost weight, if she did this, if she did that. My ex-husband said I looked nice, but then asked if I would ever lipo my thighs. What they all forget, what I had forgotten even after spending hundreds of Sundays in a pew, is that the Bible says that our body is a temple, and we are to treat it as such. What isn’t explained in verse, or gone into extensive detail about, though, is the definition of the ideal temple.

Look around you. No church looks the same; they all vary in size and structure. No temple is draped the same; they all vary in opulence and decor. No religious gathering place is treated with an equal level of respect. Synagogues have been burned to the ground, not because they weren’t pretty enough, but because they represented, they promoted, difference. Meaning, those that worshipped within those walls went against what others deemed ideal, sensible, believable, praiseworthy.

Being fat, having stretch marks, having a body full of flaws does not mean that I don’t treat it like a temple. Likewise, it doesn’t mean that it should be burned alive either.

Because beauty is perceptive. Jessica Simpson’s show The Price of Beauty took her and her friends to a remote village in Uganda where they deemed fat beautiful. The fatter you were, the prettier you were in their eyes. (You can watch that episode HERE.) In China, if you are over 30% body fat, not only are you a disgrace, you are not eligible to adopt a child in need and have other restrictions. (What polar opposites!)

So, which one is right and which one is wrong? Which continent’s beliefs, perceptions of beauty, are justifiable, are acceptable?

Both.

We are all entitled to our own opinions. We’re all entitled to our own perceptions.

But that doesn’t mean they always need to be voiced, need to said aloud. There is a time and a place for everything. Additionally, I grew up hearing the phrase, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” Even though my family doesn’t always practice what they preach, I take their wisdom with a grain of salt and then dissect it for truth, for beauty. These days, I try to find the positive in everything, even in the negative.

It’s rare that I don’t find the beauty in people. I seek out the beauty the same way I sought out the beauty in myself: one by one, piece by piece. My journey began in front of the mirror. Bit by bit, day by day, I chose something new to love about myself. It could be as small as a freckle or as big as the span of my hips. Study something long enough and you’ll find something to like about it. Study something long enough and you’ll see things you didn’t at first glance, you’ll see details that were dismissed, details that change everything.

When a child begins to lose their baby teeth, they are left with gaps in their mouths, gaping spaces that show caverns of darkness and tarnish what is deemed as perfect. We don’t yell at the child, curse them, admonish them for a temporarily imperfect smile. No, we often find it cute. Their temporary imperfection adds to their endearment.

Slowly, I realized that uniformity strips away individual identity. How could I find my child’s imperfections worthy of adoration, deem my imperfect children worthy of love, of praise and of acceptance, how could I find my children beautiful while still acknowledging their flaws, yet I couldn’t do the same for myself? For twenty-five years, I held tight to a prejudice against my own body. I hated the very things that made me unique, that made me who I was. I didn’t find my identity in my fat, nor is my identity tied to my fat, but, my beauty is. I’m not saying that if I lost hundred pounds tomorrow I wouldn’t be beautiful, that I wouldn’t love myself the way I do today. I’m saying that I would be a different kind of beautiful, and my perception would have to change with it.

You can love someone and not accept them as they are. My family does. What I’ve done is I’ve learned to love myself, as I am. I’ve learned to accept myself, as I am. Does it mean I am perfect? Does is mean that I have met my own standards? No. I’m ambitious and want to achieve so much more than I have, do so much more than I have. It simply means that I refuse to punish myself for not being more than what I am capable of being today.

I’m not going to lose a hundred pounds by next month. In fact, I don’t plan to lose weight at all (and my doctor says that’s alright for now; my prescriptions say that’s not possible right now.) My worth, my beauty, is not tied to a number, though. It’s tied to what I see in the mirror each day. And today, I saw an extra curvy woman who pays all of the bills, supports three children, two of which are special needs, three adults, and a handful of pets. I saw an extra plush woman who has stretch marks, who has fat everywhere, and not-so-perky boobs anymore; I saw a woman who has a thousand flaws, but doesn’t let them stop her from accomplishing what she sets her mind to, a woman who doesn’t allow what others think to stop her, stop her from loving herself, stop her from doing more, stop her from being more, stop her from rising above. I saw a woman who doesn’t allow anyone else’s flaws, anyone else’s hatred, to stop her from loving them, from accepting them; a woman who doesn’t allow others to change who she is or how she is, who she loves or how she loves.

Because my standards are not everyone’s standards, but I don’t allow my standards to be the reason they cut themselves. I don’t allow my standards to be the reason they cry at night. I don’t allow my standards to be the reason. I allow my standards to simply be my standards.

The same way the Bible doesn’t define the perfect size of a temple, I don’t define the perfect size of any human being, including myself. The Bible doesn’t tell me to go to Him, doesn’t tell me that I will finally be worthy of His love, His mercy, when I’m a size two. The Bible tells me to come as I am, and He will love me as I am. The Bible was the first to tell me that I am worthy; my God was the first to tell me that I was worthy as I was. My religious doctrine states that I am to liken myself to Him, that I am supposed to be as Jesus was and do as He did, that I am to follow His example. He didn’t loathe his physical form. He didn’t despise the scars on his palms or on his feet either. He didn’t cast Himself down, nor did He deject others. You can read every word He said in red. Not once will you find him calling a woman fat, deeming her undeserving of common courtesy and shutting her out of His home. Not once will you find him shunning the poor, shouting slurs at those with disabilities, challenging the meek with his strength. Instead, you will find Him taking a stand against the sinners casting stones, the imperfect people casting stones at imperfect people. You will find Him loving everyone, including those that betrayed Him.

On my Instagram, I post pictures of myself all the time. (HERE is a link to my profile.) I don’t hide my flaws. I don’t hold the phone high and angle the camera from above to slim myself. I show myself as I am. I come, as I am, and encourage others to do the same. You may hate what you see, but what you see is an empty battlefield full of stories, full of victories, full of reasons to be in awe of yourself. If you simply look long enough, look hard enough, I guarantee you’ll see what you didn’t at first.

I don’t hate those that bash my body. I don’t roll my eyes at those who voice “concern.” Is someone judging a book by its cover offensive? Yes. But I don’t punish them for it.

The truth is, most of the time, they are already punishing themselves. We project ourselves in everything we say and do. Their words are no reflection on me. Their words are a reflection on them. And to them I say, look in the mirror. Don’t glance. Stop and look. Look hard. Look long. Look and look again until you can let go of that fear, until you can let go of that hatred, of that bitterness in your soul. I am not you and you are not me. Don’t allow my presence to send you spiraling; likewise, don’t treat my presence as a reason to spiral.

No one is perfect, and the sooner we begin accepting that truth, the happier we’ll all be. My imperfection shouldn’t anger you. Your imperfections shouldn’t anger you. My imperfections shouldn’t anger me, shouldn’t make me want to create more imperfections on my body. Your imperfections shouldn’t anger me, shouldn’t make me want to rebuke you. Beauty is perceptive, and the sooner we start to perceive everyone as beautiful in some way, perceive ourselves as beautiful in some way, even an unconventional way, the sooner we can let go of the social pressures tied to size, tied to something only photoshop can offer. And the sooner we can move on to the more important things, like what I’m going to eat for dinner. I say that, because not everyone will have a meal to eat tonight. We’re over here complaining, arguing, admonishing each other over frivolous things, things that have no bearing on our capabilities, our accomplishments, or our worth, while children are dying of starvation, while IEDs are going off right and left in the Middle East, and while others are facing challenges that are affecting them in more prominent ways than the offensiveness of a stranger’s waistline.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to the body that has fought day in and day out to get you where you are. Even if it didn’t come through perfectly, it came through. Likewise, be kind to others. Be kind to them and their bodies, because, likewise, they’ve fought to be where they are today, even if where they are isn’t where you think they should be. We all have to move at our own pace, and we all will have to face mortality eventually. But casting stones, judging and dejecting never prolonged anyone’s life, nor did it change what was.

If you haven’t been told today, allow me to be the first to tell you. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are wonderful, just the way you are. Whether you meet society’s standards or not, whether you meet my standards or not, has no bearing on the way I feel, on what I think of you. We are all here for a reason, and that reason is never to be the villain, the failure or the trash of the world. It is to be the light in a dark room. It is to be beautiful, to be loving, to be kind, even when you don’t always feel like you are, like you want to be. It is to be more than we are deemed, more than we believe, and to do more than we fathom. And, newsflash, you can do it all in whatever body you have, even if that body may need a few tweaks to do some of those things, because you only get one body, and pounds gained or lost won’t change the body.

And, just know, even if you need to lose a few pounds before you can go skydiving, or whatever else you want to do, it doesn’t mean you are any less worthy of love today. It doesn’t mean your body is any less deserving of praise for getting you through the past x-number of days of your life. Celebrate it. Celebrate your imperfections for all the reasons you ought to celebrate your successes. Love your imperfections for all the reasons you love your child’s, your niece’s, your sibling’s imperfections: because they make you who you are, and who you are is worthy of love. My Creator told me so. My Creator said that I am worthy, as I am. And if I’m worthy as I am, then so are you.

xoxo – Christin

Cajun Blog Hop Winner

The winner of the Cajun Blog Hop is:::

CHERYL – “Can’t wait to read your new stories. Love that they are about women who are above size 18. Real love for real women.

*Cheryl, please e-mail me at: christinlovell@gmail.com.*

Sorry to be so absent lately. I knew the beginning of this year was going to be hard, tight, and well, full of all work and little play. I have a ton of stuff going on behind the scenes! I’m writing what feels like ten books at the same time. I have a solid 4 titles that are waiting to be proofed and edited. (Editors need a vacation too, I guess. hehe) Tomorrow, I am traveling to North Carolina to hopefully get even more accomplished. I have 3 titles that will be going off to the publisher soon, and plenty more to write. The timing is a goal as of right now, but my publisher is aiming to have the One Soldier series, including one title that has yet to be released, available in bookstores (in print) this holiday season, with a tentative release month of November. The stressful part is that means everything has to be done from start to finish by the end of this month. (Insider Note: Bookstores buy their holiday titles in Spring. They buy a title 6-9 months before they sell it, hence the delay from when print books are written to when they are available for purchase.)

In other news, I will be attending Indie Book Fest  on August 7th & 8th, 2015. I will be participating in the book signing and many of the sessions. You can get more information about it: HERE.

And lastly, I come to plead, on behalf of my daughter, to please help her raise funds for the American Heart Association. Her donation page is: HERE. If you don’t feel comfortable giving out your information, you may send your donation to me via PayPal at christinlovell@gmail.com. I will then submit a paper payment on your behalf. She’s really taken this cause to heart, so any amount would be greatly appreciated. –insert adorable heart-shaped emoji

I know this is short. It feels short. To be honest, I’m a bit scatterbrained lately, trying to juggle everything. I haven’t even packed the first article of clothing for my trip tomorrow! Sweet cherry pie, I need three of me.

I hope y’all have a wonderful week.  –Christin

Red Hot Cajun Nights Blog Hop

Red Hot Authors Present:

Red Hot Cajun Nights Blog Hop

February 1 – 7

This Mardi Gras Season, Let the Sinful Good Times Roll!

Let your imagination take you all the way to New Orleans for Carnival season as eight sexy romance authors bring you eight fabulous $.99 books to warm your winter.

~ Our website: http://redhotauthors.com/red-hot-cajun-nights/

~ Our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RedHotAuthors

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One Cajun Night
Releasing February 17th, 2015.

One extra curvy woman.
One extra sexy Navy SEAL Officer.
One night of fun, on the best night to be in New Orleans: Fat Tuesday.

At forty, plus size Samantha Baker was still trying to figure her life out, and then, along came Hardy Johnson – Navy SEAL, big flirt, and the best kisser she’d had the pleasure of kissing. He broke her out of her corporate shell and rocked her world.

The problem? His ship is only docked for thirty-six hours, which isn’t long enough to fall in love…or is it?

This Mardi Gras, there’s more than parades, music and beads; there’s magic, love and possibility…and those are the things that turn strangers into friends, friends into lovers, and lovers into so much more.

Prizes you can win on this blog:
1 Free e-book copy of One Cajun Night.
1 Free e-book copy of choice.
1 autographed bookmark.

To enter to win these prizes, just leave a comment on this blog post below. Thank you, and good luck!

Want to win even more prizes? We’re having a huge Mardi Gras Facebook Party on Tuesday, February 17. Click on the link then Join the party to hang out with us on Mardi Gras Day. You know we’re going to have some sinfully awesome giveaways! https://www.facebook.com/events/1401340946828665/

Come and read about our brand new Mardi Gras books as well as every book from each of our Red Hot holiday collections at our website: http://redhotauthors.com/red-hot-cajun-nights/

Now be sure to hop to each of these other Red Hot Authors’ blogs to leave a comment for your chance to win that author’s prizes:

Desiree Holt at www.desiremeonly.com

Magen McMinimy at http://www.magenmcminimy.blogspot.com/

Jodi Redford at http://jodiredford.blogspot.com

Randi Alexander at www.randialexander.com

Rene Folsom at www.renefolsom.com

Sable Hunter at http://sablehunter.com/

Shyla Colt at www.shylacoltsstraightshot.wordpress.com

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Giveaway begins at midnight EST February 2, and ends at midnight EST February 7. Winner of the prize will be chosen and notified by February 10.