LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM is set to be released MAY 17, 2023!
Book 3 of the Earth and Sky Series is on its way!
Look for cover reveal and pre-sale information!
Not everything is black and white when it comes to love
LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM is set to be released MAY 17, 2023!
Book 3 of the Earth and Sky Series is on its way!
Look for cover reveal and pre-sale information!
Available at Amazon Barnes and Noble and Soul Mate Publishing!
Candles lit at Imbolc, representing Maiden, Mother, and Crone.
In early November, I began a transformational journey by choice. This journey stripped me naked to my soul and bared all my broken bits. It was raw and painful, but I knew in order to experience complete healing, I had to embrace my pain and accept it as a part of who I am. I willingly went into the winter of my soul, where darkness shed light on the transformation I began to embrace shortly before my 60th birthday.
December came, and part of this transformational nudity made me realize my self-worth, a worth of self I only pretended to believe I possessed. This part of the journey helped me understand the loss of power that came with silence, the fragmenting of my being that came with putting others needs always before mine. It showed me how holding on to guilt and shame for things committed against me, led me to erroneously believe I was responsible for all negative actions taken against me throughout my entire life.
That end of the year also brought the very thing I’d sequestered myself from for three years: COVID. The day after David and I opened our celebration of Winter Solstice to the public, we came down with COVID.
Sunrise on Winter Solstice, 2022
It took him about a week and a half to recover. It took me about a month. I was fortunate enough to not have to be hospitalized, but the headaches and fatigue and body aches are still lingering. But that’s okay compared to what could have happened if we’d contracted it three years ago.
Having COVID for a month provided me the time to purge. It helped me release all the anger, the depression, the sadness, the useless emotions I’d been collecting my whole life. I slept a lot, with everything and everyone in my life being put on a back burner while I used all the energy and mindset I could muster to focus on healing. I couldn’t write, read, text, listen to music. Most of all, I could not focus on anything other than resting and rejuvenating my spirit.
By February, I was ready to emerge from the chrysalis I’d remained hiding within for the previous three months. Imbolc was a celebration of light, the light that shone bright as I emerged from the darkness. The life I embraced as I shed the last vestiges of ill health- physical and mental.
But as I stepped out into the light I realized I’d left something behind. I’d shed so much baggage I’d forgotten who I was. I didn’t look familiar anymore. I couldn’t identify with me. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t market. I couldn’t read. I didn’t have favorite music anymore. I had no energy to socialize.
The light was too bright, the understanding of what I’d shed was too stark. The familiarity of it all was gone and all I could do was stare into the void that was left.
The void was me.
Last week, I met with one of my dearest friends and a spiritual mentor, a wise woman who forges paths for people who have wondered off course.
This week, I’ve gathered with a group of women who are like healing muses, in the haven we call our writing home. I came to Thistle Dew plagued by the phrase most writers dread: Writer’s Block.
I’m leaving tomorrow morning refreshed, rejuvenated, and writing again.
I’ve heard that using the word ‘tribe’ to define people you hold close is now considered cultural misappropriation. What word do you use for people who know the right amount of laughter, silence, margaritas, chili, salad, breakfast casserole, chocolate covered nuts and fruits, and popcorn to share, and who honor your boundaries without malice or ulterior intentions?
The thesaurus offers alternatives: family, clan, sept, group, crowd, gang, company, band, bevy, pack, herd, flock, drove, horde, mob, bunch, crew, posse, gaggle, load. None of those work. Sisters in Arms? WordSoulies? Blockbreakers?
I don’t know.
What I do know is that Life awaits me. There are good times coming. My healing is continuing, and I’m writing again.
Thanks to everyone in my life whose intentions are aligned with the ulterior purpose of lifting one another up, and who understand and respect my needs.
I’m not who I was a year ago, six months ago, six weeks ago. I’m not even who I was six hours ago. None of us should be.
These last few months have taught (and continues to teach me) that life is a journey that should never be completed. That transformation is a state that should never find its end.
I learned a song many years ago that sums it up perfectly.
Everything that ever was, will be. Everything that will be has always been.
Changing, changing, ever the same. Changing, changing, around again.
Everything that ever was, will be. Everything that will be has always been.
So my thoughts for today are simple. If you are stuck, if you are alone, if you are lost, beaten, weary, confused, foggy headed, unmotivated… face your fears. Find out why you feel like this. It’s not easy. It takes time. It’s painful.
Once they’ve been identified, once you’ve figured out why you willingly carry these feelings around, choose to let them go. Blow those feelings out, burn them, flush them down the toilet.
Then look around you and give thanks for every moment you have.
Most importantly, make the most of the life you’re living. Start experiencing the greatness of YOU.
A sunset shared long distantly with my son while we chatted on the phone.
Just follow the QR code and it will bring you to the site where you can just download the digital copy of BOOK 1 of the Earth and Sky Series- LOVE IN THE FOREST- for FREE.
This offer ends December 13! (Lucky 13!)
by Janina Grey
This morning I awoke and went about my normal routine of starting my day. Opened the curtains, started coffee, showered. And as I surveyed myself in the mirror I noticed something other than gray hairs and wrinkles.
I saw peace.
Today I am 60 years and a day. Today I am embracing the autumn of my life.
As I write these words the harmonies of Celtic Harp, Sun Theory, fills my brain through my ear buds. The above image taken two autumns ago at Eighth Lake fills my vision on my desktop. Out my window I see fallen leaves scattering my yard, a grey and pale peach dawn is breaking over the blueberry farm across the road. Black coffee fills a Christmas mug handed down to me by my mother, who passed at 70 years young. It’s warm in my belly and heart, filling me with its rich sweetness and happy memories. And I truly am filled with peace.
One of the last conversations I shared with Mom was on her back porch in early August, sitting on her glider, admiring a maple tree she’d planted as a seedling that now towered over her yard, providing shade in the summer and homes for the little creatures she liked to feed seed and corn. She never feared growing old. But that conversation provided me with a bit of wisdom I did not know she possessed.
Motioning toward the tree she told me, “Life is like that tree. We go through seasons. I am in the autumn of my life. And I’m good with that. I get it now.”
She died a few weeks later, unexpectedly to us, but I think there was something in her that was preparing her for the moment when she would pass from autumn to winter, slipping into the cool folds of The After, to rest and rejuvenate in preparation of what’s to come.
I am in the Autumn of my life. But I’m not preparing to pass. I’m looking forward to the next turn of the Wheel of the Year. I’m looking forward to wrapping myself in the snows of Winter, weathering the dark nights, the dark mornings, the bundling up in sweaters and mittens, the holidays and getting together with loved ones. I’ll think about Spring when the time comes. For now I am embracing the days as they present themselves to me like gifts waiting to be unwrapped.
So many people fear growing old. They run from it. They try to hide from it. So it’s difficult for me to understand why I am so at peace with turning 60. My mother died at 70. My older sister, Janie, died at 47. My paternal grandmother died at 60. My age. Sixty.
But my maternal great grandmother lived to be 100 years old. A Centenarian. My maternal grandmother is looking at celebrating 99 years of life this summer. I plan to be there with her, by her side.
She is growing old with grace, sharing wisdom and laughter and love. As did my mom. That’s what I have inherited from them, from life.
At 22 years old, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. We didn’t think I’d live to see 30. But I’d just gotten married and not only did I live to see 30, but throughout the next two decades, I had two beautiful babies, bought a house, built a career, and eventually relocated to my dream life. It was a full good life.
At 40, I lost one of my kidneys to cancer. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to 41. I asked for one more year, to see my daughter in her ballet recital in the spring. To see my son perform in his first musical. My request was so simple. Over the next couple decades I was given so much more, but lost so much as well. My first marriage ended. I lost my sister Jane. I lost my career path as a journalist. My babies grew up.
But the voids created by those losses were filled with so much more. I lived beyond my requested one year. I watched my children grow into amazing human beings. I found the love of my life. I found a new career path where I help people find their life and purpose and empowerment. I fulfilled my dream of becoming a writer. I found myself and healing in my spiritual journey.
I was given so much more. So much, much more. A lifetime of love, filled with new people, new chosen family, new memories.
At 58, I faced a third bout with cancer, endometrial/uterine cancer. I didn’t know if I’d see 60.
But here I am. Not only seeing 60, but rocking it. Yeah, I take more naps, I am adjusting to slowing down a little (a little). I like the quieter times, the easier pace. Sometimes I overbook, and I have to scale back, but I’m learning not to overbook in the first place. I’m learning new things everyday. About myself, life, the people I hold close. About love.
Life is changing, and its for the better. It’s always for the better, if you give yourself permission to let it be so.
I don’t consider myself old. I feel younger today than I have at other times in my life. But life is different. I’m not in the same place I used to be, and that’s okay. For me, the key to happiness is to embrace the changing seasons, let life flow, and don’t worry about the things we can’t control.
Surrounding myself with goodness, people who love me and appreciate me, who respect me and all my quirks, who don’t make unnecessary demands on me is my goal. Filling my days with purpose, but also with time to do nothing, slowing down, not overbooking myself, all of this is the self care I have been putting in place the last couple years as I prepared for this cyclical turn of my life.
This is long and rambling, and I’m sure not everyone will read it, but I wanted you all to know that embracing your autumn will bring you peace. Understanding we are like a Maple Tree, going through the seasons, celebrating life, resting when we can, is all a part of life.
I want to grow old gracefully, like my mother. Like my grandmother and my great grandmother. Fill my days with love and laughter, with hugs and tears of happiness. Let my eyes rest on sights that fill my heart with awe. Let my ears tap into sounds of nature and music and peace. Let my body be filled with goodness. Let my head rest on my soft pillow, snuggled with my husband as I drift off to sleep, only to rise refreshed and ready to face the new day.
There are no worries of wrinkles, or gray hairs, or a few extra pounds. I’ve earned these trophies. These are things to lift up and wear with a smile and laughter.
And when the time comes I want to be remembered as a kind, strong woman, who understood herself and loved herself-every bit of her self-and lived her life unashamedly and without reservation, all the while embracing life, peace, and eventually, embracing her autumn.
Many thanks to everyone who made it possible for me to be a featured author in the Uncaged Books November/December issue!
Check it out at Uncaged Books! You’ll see a ton of other great offers and books galore!
Music, muses, and me.
It’s no coincidence that computers and pianos both have keyboards. Keyboards serve as the bridge guiding the artist and/or author along the path of creation that connects their soul to the completed work of art, be it a musical composition or written word.
Which is why, possibly, music is such a major motivator when I sit down to write, compose, create. It feeds my soul and provides the sustenance needed to move along the arduous journey my writing leads me.
My keyboard and a reminder from my son, Anthony.
I used to be able to sing really well when I was younger. I even made it to District Chorus in high school—huge surprise if you’ve ever heard me sing as an adult. But I was labelled the bookworm and writer and brainiac growing up, and my older sister, Janie, was the singer. So anytime I tried to sing I was shut down. It was almost sacrilegious to try to break out of the molds that each of us had been cast into. She sang. I wrote. Her keyboard was a guitar. Mine was a pen and paper.
Janie and her guitar in 8th grade, Selden, NY.
Music has motivated me throughout my life. Janie and I would write poetry and songs together as kids. As we grew up and lived our own lives, she would call me and sing songs over the phone. I would mail her poetry (yes, pre-email!). We were always linked in this way. Growing up, my big sis also proved to be a great influence on my musical choices. She introduced me to all the greats especially Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks.
So, four years ago, when I started working on TEN BUCKS AND A WISH, I tapped into my musical muses. My greatest motivator for my first contemporary romance released by Soul Mate Publishing was Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album. I still possess this well-worn, memorized album of my youth. I knew it inside out, as did Janie. Someone Saved My Life Tonight was a song we’d belt at the top of our lungs. I still do, when no one is home.
Elton’s collection of songs depicting his early days and the struggles they went through as starving artists must have been played thousands of times via Apple Music as I created the final version of TEN BUCKS AND A WISH. I relived my youth by listening to and singing the lyrics I’d memorized more than four decades ago, while writing the scenes born from my days of growing up in Selden, Long Island, New York (aka Olde Westfield in TEN BUCKS AND A WISH).
For LOVE IN THE FOREST, I played a mix. This was my attempt at a Pagan romance, so I played a lot of Omnia, Damh the Bard, Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac. But good ole Elton crept back in when I hit brick walls and didn’t know where to go with the story. It seems BITTER FINGERS and WRITING off of Captain Fantastic is the key to unlocking my muse. “Will the things we wrote today sound as good tomorrow?” (Elton John and Bernie Taupin) Someone Saved My Life Tonight was playing when I wrote Brooke’s death scene, which came about very unexpectedly and heralded the beginning of four tumultuous years of self discovery and salvation and transformation. Very fitting. But that’s another blog.
I immediately jumped into Book 2 of the Earth and Sky series and this is where things got weird. Which is weird in itself because everyone who knows me kind of categorizes my whole life as weird. So for me to say things get weird, it’s off the charts weird. In LIFE IS FOR LIVING, Barefoot Dan and Jayde TOLD ME what to play. I’d never been a big fan of Coldplay, but apparently these two lovers were diehard fans. So I checked out Coldplay and much to my surprise, the music coincided with the story line. Songs like DADDY, and LIFE IS FOR LIVING, and quite a few others helped me stay in the head of the characters as I struggled with their angst, turmoil, heart break and finally their healing. It was an amazing journey. Crazy thing about this book was that I’d created the title before I even knew who the characters were going to be, way before they even told me about Coldplay. Life is for Living is a mantra I’ve followed since my sister Jane passed in 2007. I even had a column called this with the newspaper I used to work for, Richfield Springs Mercury back then. It was synchronicity, serendipity maybe, that Dan and Jayde brought me together with Coldplay.
As I wrapped up LIFE IS FOR LIVING/Earth and Sky Series Book 2, the concept for LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM came to me. I couldn’t wrap up Book 2 fast enough. The characters for Book 3 were banging on the door, demanding attention. I continued listening to Coldplay as I introduced myself to Liza and Jack, but it turned out they did not really like Coldplay. They were really into Imagine Dragons. In fact, I soon learned Jack had done an internship with them while he was studying music. I’d never really listened to Imagine Dragons before. My husband and Research Assistant (You know David from previous blogs) had tried to turn me on to this band years ago, but I wasn’t into them.
So when I learned that Liza loved them, I had to give them a try. Not gonna lie, it took me a while to adjust to this selection of music, but after a few weeks of playing their songs repeatedly as I grappled with the outline and details of the story, I realized they were a perfect fit for Jack and Liza, and ultimately LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM Book 3 of the Earth and Sky Series.
Dangerous, Dancing in the Dark, Monday, Polaroid, Hopeless Opus, Smoke and Mirrors… these are a few of the songs that provided inspiration. It was difficult since I had not followed Imagine Dragons, to make sure Liza and Jack did not reference songs that did not sync up with the timeline of the story, but they helped me out.
LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM was the most difficult story to write thus far. I was writing totally out of my element, about characters I really did not relate to, who had journeys that were fairly similar to things I’d dealt with but way beyond anything I knew well. In fact, my love of drumming, my own battles with cancer and depression, and loving the idea of love were the foundation of our relationship. I’d vowed to my readers that this was going to be the hottest book of all, and it was. But I had to make sure the sex scenes weren’t gratuitous or forced. In the end, I cut a few scenes out completely because I felt they just didn’t work.
I had the cover picked out the same time I picked out the cover art for LIFE IS FOR LIVING. I knew this was what I wanted, even though previously I agonized over the cover art selections of each release with Soul Mate Publishing.
So here I am, waiting for my publisher to get back to me after her first read. She’s either going to tell me “this one rocks,” or “rewrite the whole damn thing because it sucks.”
I really hope it doesn’t suck.
So, yeah. This is how music serves as my muse.
I’m now focusing on marketing, getting LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM ready to roll out, and figuring out what my next writing project will be. I have a few ideas, but at this point my brain is fried and I have real life telling me to take a break for the holidays. I’ve tried warning everyone (in my real life) that depends on what the next characters want to do.
If they start waking me up in the middle of the night to introduce themselves I have to listen. If they beckon, I go. If they summon, I obey. I will give you a hint though. I’ve been introduced to a man named Ambrose Morgan, a cowboy who comes to Earth and Sky and sweeps E&S counselor Mandy off her feet. (You’ve met Mandy in all three E&S books). Cowboys are NOT Mandy’s type. She goes for the city slickers like Derek or Armand in Books 1 and 3. You’ve been warned. I imagine that sound track will have a lot of music clash – country vs techno maybe? Hm. We will see. I don’t really listen to either, but then again, it’s not about me, is it?
As you can see, once my characters start playing their music for me, I have no choice but to sit down at my keyboard and be their accompaniment as we weave our next composition of music and words, telling a tale of dreams, heartbreak, healing, and happily ever afters.
Speaking of music, if you want to check out the playlists I created for each of the Earth and Sky Series books, click on the links below:
LIFE IS FOR LIVING – Barefoot Dan’s Playlist
LIFE IS FOR LIVING – Jayde’s Playlist
As I finish this blog, Elton John is singing “And just like us, you must have had a once upon a time…”
See? Muse. Always there. Always willing to lend a hand. Always calling me, beckoning, beckoning. And, as Imagine Dragons sang, “there’s nothing left to say now…”
The Spotlight is on Domestic Violence as it shares OCTOBER with Breast Cancer Awareness
Women have a lot to worry about, but we do it. We meet things head on, we conquer, we keep going. We hold down jobs. We raise kids. We balance relationships. Often times we do all this at the expense of ourselves, our mental, physical, and emotional well being.
While Breast Cancer takes front and center in October, Domestic Violence has shared this month for decades in search of raising awareness in the hopes of keeping women safe. And while I know a few women who have struggled with breast cancer (my own grandmother passed from breast cancer back in the early 70s), I know way more women who battle domestic violence. And like cancer is often undetected and silent, many women don’t realize they are in a domestic violence relationship.
I write romance. I love happily ever afters. I believe that there is someone for everyone. I know that in order to find love we do not have to compromise. We deserve kindness, respect, truth, commitment, if that is what we are seeking.
But. There is the god-forsaken BUT.
Sometimes we think we’ve found true love, but once we become invested in the relationship we realize things aren’t as we were promised it would be.
ONE IN THREE WOMEN WILL EXPERIENCE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN HER LIFETIME.
ONE IN THREE WOMEN MURDERED WILL HAVE HER LIFE TAKEN BY HER LOVER/HUSBAND/BOYFRIEND/SIGNIFICANT OTHER.
ONE IN THREE WOMEN WILL BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IN HER LIFE.
We are led to believe Domestic Violence is broken bones, black eyes, busted lips, and missing teeth. That’s where that one in three statistic comes in. Most women only report the physical violence. But Domestic Violence destroys women in so many other insidious ways.
Mental, Emotional, Physical, Psychological, Verbal types of abuse are actually more common than physical abuse. These abuses usually injure women in ways that never heal. Invisible wounds that last forever can even eventually manifest in illness and disease. Mental health illnesses like depression and anxiety, physical illnesses like fibromyalgia, cancer, auto-immune diseases ravage our bodies and minds. Psychological constructs like believing we deserve the pain being inflicted on us, or that all relationships suck so this is normal, or worse, we caused the abuse, become a way of life.
If you’re unhappy, look at your life. Look at the person you think you love. Is he kind? Is he respectful? Is your relationship balanced?
He doesn’t have to hit you to be abusing you.
Here is what a healthy relationship should look like.
Communication. You talk openly about problems and listen to one another. You respect each other’s opinions.
Respect. You value each other’s opinions, feelings, and needs. You give each other the freedom to be yourself and be loved for who you are.
Trust. You believe what your partner has to say and don’t feel the need to “prove” each other’s trustworthiness.
Honesty. You’re honest with each other but can still keep some things private.
Equality. You make decisions together and hold each other to the same standards. You and your partner have equal say about major decisions within the relationship. All partners have access to the resources they need.
Boundaries. You enjoy spending time apart, alone, or with others. You respect each other’s need for time and space apart. You communicate with each other about what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
The National Hotline for Domestic Violence is: 800-799-7233
If you are in Oneida County or Herkimer County, New York give the YWCA Mohawk Valley a call on their hotline at: 315.797.7740.
Also, check out the Y’s website at http://www.ywcamv.org
Stay safe. Stay happy. Never stop believing in healthy love.
Where did the summer go? As I sit at my desk, looking at the spattering of yellow leaves on my still very green lawn, I know that winter is not too far off. But right now, I want to celebrate Autumn with a quick look back at where the summer actually went!
Summer roared to a very quick-paced, jam-packed end with an unexpected trip to Tennessee to help care for my sick grandmother. At 98 years young Mother is healthier than I am, but an unexpected fall laid her up for a bit. She is doing really well, getting back to normal, and looking forward to her 99th birthday come June, 2023!
We said farewell to August with a much anticipated Barnes and Noble Book Signing/Meet the Author event that was a huge success!
I spent the afternoon surrounded by loved ones, family, old and new friends, and a great supportive B&N staff that made sure everything went smoothly. LIFE IS FOR LIVING is now in print at B&N, Alabaster & Ash, Amazon, and Soul Mate Publishing! If you’ve not read it yet, grab a copy. Since it’s Book 2 of the Earth and Sky series, you may want to pick up Book 1/LOVE IN THE FOREST. Both have been well received with lots of great reviews.
September was filled with rainbows, a very cool wedding I had the honor to officiate, spiders (my spirit totem and the bane of my existence. Definitely a love/hate relationship there!) end of summer bonfires, our first in person Pagan Pride Day since the pandemic, experimenting with meal plans, and prepping for autumn and winter!
October started off with a Cheese Festival in Little Falls, a family gathering to celebrate a milestone in my great-nephew Hunter’s life (again in Little Falls) and decorating for Samhain!
Peppered in between those fun times, I got my butt in gear and finished LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM! Jack and Liza’s story is complete! I’m wrapping up the final first read through before I send it off to Soul Mate Publishing for it’s 2023 release!
So while this was a quick recap, I promise to add more pics and better explanations. My days have been filled with edits and rewrites as I try to get LOST IN YOUR RHYTHM ready to send out, so bear with me.
We’ve got announcements coming up regarding possible additional book signing dates, raffle winners (still haven’t been drawn yet!), and exciting news about a Featured Author spot in a romance trade publication that is due out in November/December!
I’ve got some holiday decorating to finish, and a very cool conference I’ll be attending this coming weekend. More details on that to follow! in the meantime, enjoy some Halloween fun times below!
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