PSST…The Alex Conner Chronicles Crew Is Coming

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As promised, here is part two of the adventures of a newbie author, and it’s all about–Street Teams.

What is a Street Team?:

  • You may already have your team set-up and you don’t even know it.
  • Your team is comprised of your die-hard fans who like and share all of your social media           posts.
  • They pass out info to people about you, and your books.
  • They’ve read everything you have written, some of them may have been your beta readers, and they write awesome reviews!
  • They attend your events passing out swag, wearing your gear (t-shirts, buttons, stickers),           and talking to future fans.
  • They get lots of free stuff!  Books and other cool swag.
  • They truly go above and beyond to help spread the word about you and your books.

How do I make my Street Team Legit?

  • I’m so glad you asked!  That is what I am doing, right now!
  • First: Come up with a catchy name! Mine is PSST! The Alex Conner Chornicles Crew
  • The name should reflect your books or a certain series. Since I am going to write a wide             range of books, I made this one Alex Conner Specific under the larger umbrella of PSST             (Parker Sinclair Street Team).  My new book, The Eve of the Exceptionals will have the Eve’s       Ryzing Stars.
  • It’s all in the name! These are the loyal fans who help you get to the top, don’t the deserve a     sweet name?  Exactly!
  • Once you have the name and you’ve spoken to some members, blog about the new Team         so you can get even more members.
  • Share the blog with everyone and to everyone.

What to send your team:

  • I am currently working on a lot of cool swag for me team: t-shirts, I’ve had buttons made,         and I plan on making stickers and     buttons to provide each member.
  • I have lots of cards to pass out, and codes for discounted books.
  • Before a major event that they will be attending with you,  stock them up on all of the swag       items.  Maybe you pre-make goody bags for them to hand out, or let them do their thing.
  • Free books!  Whether its eBooks or paperback, your team gets them when they first come         out, sometimes even earlier!

So there it is, in a nutshell.  I love my Street Team! You know who you are, and if anyone would like to join The Alex Conner Chronicles Crew, please comment below or message me.

Parker

Author of TrustThe Alex Conner Chronicles Book One, TruthThe Alex Conner Chronicles Book Two, &Forbidden: An Alex Conner Chronicles Novella adult contemporary fantasy under the name Parker Sinclair.

My Webpage: http://www.parkersinclair.net
Purchase &Sample my bookshttp://www.parkersinclair.net/buy-a-good-book
Like me on Facebook: ParkerSinclairbooks
Instagram:  @parkersinclairauthor
Twitter:  Parker_Sinclair
My Goodreads Profile
My Smashwords Profile
Blog: https://parkersinclairbooks.wordpress.com

Links/where to buy/ social media

Available now on Amazon, iBooks, Kindle, Nook, & Barnes & Noble

 

The Author Takeover

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Becoming an author with aspirations to make it my life’s work comes with a quite a bit of internal drive, research skills, social media savvy, networking, time, and a lot of patience.  In the last month I have realize how new I am to all of this by researching how to do an author takeover, what a street team is, and unfortunately being one of many authors and sponsors scammed by the hopes of a author signing  event in Richmond, Virginia.  I am happy to report that the event was thankfully raised from the ashes by some determined, and heart broken authors.

If you are anything like the me from last month, you may be asking what in the world an author takeovers or a street teams are anyhow.  Well you are in luck!  I finally feel educated enough to share my knowledge in hopes of helping other budding authors, and to spread the word about the awesome Parker Sinclair Street Team (PSST), The Alex Conner Crew.

This will be a two part blog, so let’s start with the Author Takeover.  What is this exactly?  Where are these events that you are being invited to, asked to do, and how do you do them? I promise to cover all of these questions and more.

The Author Takeover

What is it:

  • When an author posts information about themselves and their written works of art on a Facebook page.  Most authors post excerpts from their books, where readers can buy, their social links, inspirational quotes, games, images, and giveaways.  Be sure to add links to your images, book titles, and your name.

Where:

  • An author takeover occurs virtually on a Facebook page of a book promoter, signing event attendees, publicist, another author, blogger, or your own.  It may be one day with multiple authors in time slots, or over a certain period of time leading up to a major book event.  The goal is to highlight each attending author to help them gain exposure, get their books into hands of readers, and to meet new fans.

How long:

  • Most time slots designated for each author are 1/2 to 1 hour in length.  Authors can expect to provide 5-10 posts during the takeover.

Essentials with examples:

  • Author photo & introduction of your work
    • Greet your guests and host, include genre(s), story about how you started to write, anecdotal/funny stories, etc.

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Hi everyone! My name is Parker Sinclair & I’m excited for this awesome author takeover!   I find myself genre confused since lovers of paranormal romance, adult contemporary fantasy, & adult urban fantasy enjoy my books. I am a scientist turned counselor turned writer who now believes I was the writer first, but I had lost her path. The great thing about destiny is that you’ll always find your way back to where you’re meant to be, and you pick up cool experience and lessons that make you even all the better for it all.

  • Social media, preorder forms (if you have an upcoming event) & how/where to buy links.

My Webpage: www.ParkerSinclair.net

Google doc preorder form for RVA Romance Readers Event: http://goo.gl/forms/CJZl9Xe6pL

Purchase &Sample my books: http://www.parkersinclair.net/buy-a-good-book 

Like me on Facebook: ParkerSinclairbooks

Instagram:  @parkersinclairauthor

Twitter:  Parker_Sinclair

My Goodreads Profile

My Smashwords Profile

** Pre-order forms were new to me as well.  Many signing events encourage posting them for authors to get a good idea of how many books to bring.  Google forms has tons of templates to choose from. https://www.google.com/forms/about/

  • Cover photos and description of book(s)
    • Book cover posts give you a good jumping off point to list giveaways & the rules.
    • Giveaway verbiage example:  Tonight I am delighted to giveaway one ebook of Trust.  Change your profile picture to the book cover of Trust, and comment on this post with a sentence including the word Trust.  Winner based on creativity.  Contest ends 11:59pm/date and the winner will be notified via PM.

Trust: The Alex Conner Chronicles Book One

Alex Conner’s nights of event planning and partying in San Diego, California have taken a turn for the worse as nightmares invade her mind on a daily basis. The memories of the vile man she exiled using the powers inherited from her mother and grandmother are all but breaking into her living hours, and nothing is working to keep her nightmares at bay. Will she ultimately be the one responsible for bringing this horror back into her life? Who can she trust and how is she to deal with the draw she has towards a new man in her life – a man who is definitely more than meets the eye? Visit www.ParkerSinclair.net for a sample and where to buy!

  • Excerpts from book(s):
    • Images are shown to be more popular than lengthy excerpts.
    •  Try small excerpts on an image, and perhaps more within the post.

Excerpt from Trust:  The Alex Conner Chronicles Book One

I couldn’t find her at first as my eyes followed the trunk of the tree all the way up its thickness. Legs began to form, followed by a waist, breast, and her head. The branches and leaves above became a beautifully, horrifying sight as they flowed from her head creating a mesmerizing image of gorgeously intertwining curls of hair. She looked at me, her eyes glowing emerald green for the first time. They were an exact reflection of my own, and I stumbled back a step sensing the power in them, knowing her power was a part of me.

 

  • Games
    • Get your audience engaged with games
    • I enjoy posting a quote or image, and then giving instructions.
    • quote1.png

    ~    Share one brave and daring thing you’ve done in your life that you are super proud of.

  • Close out the Author Takeover Event:
    • Close the event with thank you’s to your host, fans, supporters, and other authors. A collage of your books, all of your social media links, and asking for any questions or comments are fantastics additions to your final post.  Poster_NoDate
  • I want to thank Vicki Drane for setting up todays author takeover.  Winners: I will notify each winner by private Facebook message as well as post on my FB fan page ParkerSinclairbooks . Your ebook prizes will be gifted through Amazon and the paper back of Trust via snail mail—good luck to all of my awesome new fans.

    Before I go, here are my links one more time:

     

My Webpage: www.ParkerSinclair.net

Google doc preorder form for RVA Romance Readers Event: http://goo.gl/forms/CJZl9Xe6pL

Purchase &Sample my books: http://www.parkersinclair.net/buy-a-good-book 

Like me on Facebook: ParkerSinclairbooks 

Instagram:  @parkersinclairauthor

Twitter:  Parker_Sinclair

My Goodreads Profile

My Smashwords Profile

So there you have it!  The basics of what an author takeover is folks. I hope my experiences and research aid you in your own takeovers. Don’t be afraid of them, and check out other author’s takeover events from time to time to get lots of great ideas, and a chance to win free books and swag.  This blog is only the tip of the iceberg, so keep creating and writing!  Next up, The Street Team.

Please follow my blog by adding your email to the right on your desktop computer, or by scrolling to the bottom on your device.

Have a wonderful day, evening, life!  Stay positive, stay focused, and keep loving what you do each and every day.

Parker

www.ParkerSinclair.net

A Healing Heart and Mind

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As I have gone through grief, and now watch, listen and feel others go through it as well, I have been thinking about how I would help them professionally. What is the best way to let a parent, friend, or loved one of someone who has lost someone close to them know about some of the therapeutic ways to find happiness. About the ways to live with the pain. Because there is no complete removal of the pain, in some cases that isn’t even the desire. To fill no pain is to not feel at all, to not miss, to not mourn and then you are not keeping your loved one alive in your heart and mind enough. But what if that pain paralyzes you endlessly? What if you can’t keep it within you? This sadness that is now a part of you, a shaper of who you are. But, you are drowning in your sorrow, forever missing and longing for someone who is no longer there, can no longer physically be there with you…for you. Is it your destiny to cease to be as well? Will you then be another loss to those who have already lost this person, you all love? And how long will you feel what you are feeling? It may be anger, denial, a disconnection with reality. No, there isn’t a timeline for grief, even though I do believe in steps and phases, but there isn’t a set amount of time for each of them. And, not everyone experiences all of them in my opinion. I was stuck in anger for most of the time since my mother has passed…denial was not an option. I was somewhat prepared for her passing, more so than I think a lot of people are given the nature of the medical professionals in my family. No, I don’t necessarily think it should be that or even can be that way by any means, just my experiences, and the way things happened for me.

There are different reasons for grief and mourning…sometimes it isn’t a person at all; it may be a pet, or a place you have loved and cherished. My grandfather lost his home in Katrina and all of the memories of my grandmother along with it- washed away into the Back Bay as his refrigerator floated in the ruined garage. All of the pictures, clothes, knick-knacks, jewelry, memories…gone, and there was grief and despair along with that loss. We all felt that for him and through him. The loss of memories and of a home that we all shared during holidays and visits. Pieces of my grandmother that were still able to keep her close washed away with the raging waters that racked the gulf that year. I had thought this would break us all, but my grandfather moved through his grief, wave and after wave wracked this quick as a whip pilot, doctor, and psychiatrist. Father of four, grandfather of three…militarily strict but funny as hell. Oh, how I miss him every day as well.

My thoughts on grief are more of my thoughts on a happy life. It all relates when you lose sight of your happiness. When you lose your course, your strand of the web you were on with such sure footing and then blown off. Then you have to try and find some happiness and rational for moving forward. To shed the anger, the jadedness, the loss of faith and find a way to continue in their spirit, in their memories, yet without them. I don’t claim to heal intense levels of depression with these suggestions. In those cases, it is imperative to seek professional help, and if you know someone you think is depressed or suicidal, don’t fear asking them right out about their safety. You won’t inadvertently put that idea in their head, but by asking you may just save their life.

There are four things I believe can lead to happiness, spiritual growth and a path to healing.

Journaling: Finding the time and a way to get the racing thoughts out of your head on onto paper, a computer screen, a napkin, what have you is very therapeutic. It doesn’t matter if those words ever see daylight again. Sometimes it can be cathartic to read it or even destroy what you have written, sending it back into the universe (safely for goodness sakes, no living room bonfires please!). Journaling is also a wonderful technique for anger when you put down what you wish you could say to someone and then safely destroy it, thus ridding yourself of what is eating away at you. Journaling can often help recall forgotten and beautiful memories about your loved one. It can allow you to be raw and unfiltered (make sure you keep it private if that is your wish), and can also lead to incredible levels of creativity and wonder.
Empathy: Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is incredibly medicinal. It allows us to step away from your worries and concerns for a while, which our souls need a break from, and feel compassion for someone else. Being empathetic can lead to helping a fellow person in need which is also very healing and helpful for everyone involved.
Mindfulness: This technique saved me from what I think was a complete paralysis in my anger. I had lost my creativity and the future of my writing, and I just knew I was seconds away from panic attacks. Those seemed inevitable as work became increasingly demanding and stressful for not only me but everyone around me. I read about the technique in a book for mothers that focused on the need for me to be happy in order for my family unit to be happy as well. It isn’t an obvious notion for most of us to think about taking care of ourselves first as the best way to take care of others. Some are whispering “selfishness” in dark corners right now. No, we think doing more and more, pushing and spreading ourselves thinner and thinner so that our loved ones lives are fuller and busier are the answers to their happiness but it isn’t. Our children, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, partners, lovers, friends and co-workers won’t be truly happy if we are suffering. Our mental and physical health is of the utmost importance if we are actually to help others around us. Mindfulness allowed me to take a break from everything and focus on only myself. Sometimes I know it is hard to find the time, sometimes I forget I need it, but it is refreshing, mind opening and essential. A free link to the technique is below from UCLA as well as a link to the book I read to get me on that track.
Nature: Enjoying the outdoors, the environment around you, tree hugging, dog petting, walking, biking, exploring, traveling, it is all incredibly therapeutic. Taking the time to watch a sunset, to go for a walk in your neighborhood, to count flower petals and practicing colors with your children outdoors is my last but not least recommendation. Most of us may be cooped up inside working all day, not feeling the warmth of the sun or the chill of the rain. Whether you like to paddle board, walk, skate, or even taking a drive with the windows down along a back country road. Taking your time and exploring, it is all therapeutic, and I believe necessary. Our history stems from being one with nature to the give and take, ebb and flow, the web of life. We are all connected, the earth, soil, water, animals, plants, bees, and trees; it’s important commune with it all once in a while. So go pick strawberries, body surf in the ocean or hike along that beaten path. It is cleansing and enlightening.
Right now I am in the midst of watching those around me experiencing intense levels of sadness, and I thought this is something I know about. Grief is something I have been trained on, lived through and utilize myself. My main character in the Alex Conner Chronicles overcomes a series of various levels of grief and utilizes many of these suggestions herself. Alex may be damaged, perhaps even broken, but she sought to make her life better despite it all. And if what you are currently doing is not working it is time to make a change, time to try something new. Looking to heal and be happier didn’t change the amazing parts of the person Alex is, and the same goes for me and hopefully for each of you.

If you would like to read more about Alex, please visit http://www.ParkerSinclair.net for a 3 chapter sample of her first book Trust and to join my mailing list. Be Well, Be Happy and Be You!

Parker

Mindfulness information and free guided practice: http://marc.ucla.edu/default.cfm

The book that led me to mindfulness: http://www.amazon.com/Buddhism-Mothers-Approach-Yourself-Children/dp/1741140102

The Making of a Muse

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Music has always been a source of inspiration for me. Those of you who have read my first book, Trust, and those of you who know me are well aware of my affinity for dancing and addiction to music. My range is expansive as my father was a DJ at one time in his life. Numerous albums lined the walls in my parents bedroom as the loud thumps and tones could be heard across the house even thru the closed door of my room. Whether it was reggae, primarily by the transcendent Bob Marley, but also from the talented Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, and Gregory Isaacs, to the hard-hitting punk rock of the Dead Kennedy’s and new wave Roxy Music; I’ve been raised on it all. My family and friends continue to share music every day, Facebook, Pandora and YouTube being favorite ways to find and watch new videos and listen to songs.

For me, it isn’t always all about that bass though I do love the deep, pulsing tone of it, but the treble is just as important. However, the lyrics truly have the ability to transport you into a song, bringing your existence into being that person with the sizzling, desirable vocal cords, or who is being sung about.

Last week I needed an inspiration, as I do off and on with the business of life. I hadn’t hit my goal for Book Two and was floundering in Chapter 3 even though I have it fully outlined. Knowing where the book is going to go may be easy but filling that pathway with feelings, emotions, humor, intensity and passion is another story. Anyhow, Ed Sheeran has had great success with his latest album X, and after my friend from Colorado posted the video for “Don’t”, I knew I needed to check out his album. I downloaded it for my daughter, and in one of those rare times when I was able to head out solo to do a little shopping and visit a friend,I was allotted time to really listen to the entire album. The 30 minute drive allowed me ample time to listen to most of it and I knew I was instantly inspired and the chapter started to lay itself out in my mind.

While listening to “Afire Love”, “Photograph”, “Nina”, “Bloodstream”, “Don’t”, and “The Man” from Ed’s album are all amazing songs that had my mind drifting into scenes of my characters. They had me reliving moments in my life as his words played a movie in my head. Such a great album and as I listened to Ed wondering if so many people use music as a muse. Artists of all types of media from theatre to ceramics, from writers to graphic designers, we all use music to help us shape our visions, to create our masterpieces. So what are the muses for musicians? Other musicians are a must as they shape and influence each band, solo artist, songwriter and producer, but their own lives may be the biggest muse of all. Their relationships, the love, pain, happiness, sadness and moments of darkness and weakness in themselves and those around them make intense lyrics, realism to their performances and in many cases freedom of the experiences. Art truly is life, pieces of it, things we’ve heard, experiences, watched from a foot away to afar, it’s all about how we react, perceive and move thru it all.

From Rihanna’s “Diamond”, Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain”, Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” and “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris and Florence Welch, all incredible songs that move me into the musician’s life, allowing me to dance, cry, hope, and persevere. Music moves all of us.

What are some of your favorite songs and artists? I’d love to hear from all of you and maybe we can find a way to insert some of your favorite songs and lyrics into Alex’s second book, Truth.

Enjoy the music of life and thank you for joining me on the adventure!

Parker

Check out my website for information on my first book, a three chapter sample and where to buy: http://www.ParkerSinclair.net

Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ParkerSinclairbooks?ref=bookmarks

Creativity Can’t Survive with Doubt

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There have been many days when I can sit at this computer and blast off thousands of words, flying through chapters and piecing together a story. Honestly getting positive feedback and useful criticism catapults me into creative mode. The best thing I ever did when I opened Trust after five years void of key clicks and chicken scratch journaling was to have others read my work. I knew these ladies loved the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal genres. Oh, and who didn’t mind the adult language and situations my characters thrived in, so I sent the first three chapters to them under the guise that a “friend” in San Diego had written it and asked me to get some feedback. I know that they are voracious readers who would tear thru her pages quickly and provide me with some honest feedback. This idea was a leap of faith; one that I felt would either lend to me finally finishing the book or that if could mean the end for Trust, for Alex Conner.

What I didn’t expect was their reaction. Each of them came to me asking about the characters by name, wanting to read more, and showing me that they have made some real connections with my writing. I let them off the hook at once letting them know it was me, tears threatened my eyes with joy after hearing the feedback, especially since I hadn’t even worked through the major edits whatsoever- let’s just call it a rough, rough draft.

I chose one person to read my book as I wrote it. As soon as I would write a few chapters I’d email them to her, and she gave me near immediate feedback being a super fast reader. She’s been a best friend since our daughters were one, and I trust her fully and completely. She taught me how to take criticism, how to get past doubt when to rearrange, pull back and add more. I admit I hated parts of it. I would get angry, annoyed, filled with self-doubt when she pointed out errors. I was incapable of not opening her feedback and read it during dinner, time with my family, inappropriate times of course. So I had to learn to wait to open the emails and to breathe thru the desire to want to, and before I dove into it. I worked hard to not let book stuff take away from family time or stay up too late fixing everything quickly. It was hard for me, letting things go, getting back to them later. It’s a process that has been hard for me, something that was even more difficult as the editing process went full throttle once I found an editor.

It comes down to trying to not be an immediate fixer all of the time, which even though one may think fixing it now and fast is the most efficient, it was getting in the way of my life, my children and causing me added stress. Trust worked those kinks out of me, thru relentless repetition, well somewhat, it’s hard to change. It isn’t impossible, but hard. Shaking off doubt may be the most difficult part of it all. I had to realize that even though I was making errors, and causing both my friend and my editor to question the flow or suggest a change. Both of which led to either quick fixes or hours of rewrites, my biggest obstacle was myself. I’d take their feedback hard sometimes, thinking I couldn’t do what they asked. This is part of the whole writing process as well, there were many times I doubted my ability to get to where I wanted to go in the book, not knowing how to state something or whether or not anyone would be able to visualize my scenes, be surprised, laugh, cry, really feel anything at all. I can say that I did laugh, cry, and sometimes shake as I typed, washed away by waves of emotion while the characters reminded me of pieces of people I have met and knew. The were also manifestations and of my ability to empathize with everyone, even fictional characters who I was tormenting and ripping away parts of their made-up souls and hearts. Yes you actually become invested in the world you create as a writer. So criticism, even the best and most needed will force you to doubt, to worry, to slam shut the laptop, or push away from your desk in disgust.

As I said it is part of the process, but if you give in to it, if you let yourself live in the doubt, make it seep into your being, your creativity will sputter out. It will be bound, gagged and smothered by doubt. My mother and I talked a lot about the feeling of guilt; I have coined it the evil twin of doubt. She said guilt was a useless emotion, paralyzing and parasitic. Hanging on to guilt in your life will keep you from forgiving yourself, letting anyone love the real you. Indeed, it can stop you from living. Not clinging to guilt isn’t the same as not caring about making mistakes or hurting someone, but without forgiveness or oneself and others, how do you continue? The same goes for the doubt that ate away at me. There were many times I couldn’t see the end in site, didn’t think I would ever get there, that I would never make my story work, let alone be read and enjoyed. But I got out of those sink holes of doubt over and over again. Yes, they still creep in, ask my friends as I let myself fester over a 1-star rating with no comments as to why. Yes, I have fives and great comments, but that one sad star tried to gnaw at me, poisoning me with doubt.

The best thing I can suggest is to not take it all on alone, find who you can talk to, rely on to hear you, not to fix it, but to listen. Holding on to the doubt alone is setting you up for succumbing to its siren like ways. It can shut down your creativity, starve it, and block the channels from letting the words, pictures, and music in. So whatever you are striving for in your life, don’t let doubt block your way. Put yourself out there, or your made up friend from San Diego, and take the feedback and suggestions. They will make you even better than you already are, use it to fuel your creative mind rather than use it to build a wall of doubt.

Thank you as always for walking through my mind with me and please check out my first book Trust today. Visit http://www.ParkerSinclair.net for a sample and where to buy as well as liking Parker Sinclair Books on Facebook.

Live, laugh, create and reach for the stars!

Parker

Dancing In the Rain

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I am asked to explain what Trust is about multiple times a week. I change up my description from time to time since the book dives into the multiple genre’s so it is hard to pigeon-hole it into one. Some of my favorite authors and biggest sources of inspiration, such as Kim Harrison, are adult, urban, fantasy writers so I gave my book that tag, but it is also considered a paranormal fantasy, a psychological thriller, a comedy, a spiritual journey, scientific, and, of course, a romance. But not only in terms of the main character and her love interest, interests? No this book was also started when I lived in San Diego and is a love story to that city, to the west coast as a whole. When Alex digs her toes into the sand refusing to leave, I felt that same pain and loss as I headed back East. I was leaving behind over five years of my life, my best friends, and what soon became the only coast my family belonged to.

I didn’t feel like an active part of my new life in Virginia. Days, weeks, years went by, and I didn’t let go of San Diego, of my friends, my years growing up there after college. I couldn’t make friends, meet people like me, I didn’t make people laugh like I could make my friends laugh back west, there weren’t the same types of places to go to…the same feeling of a big town. The coasts were different, the sun rose instead of set and I blamed the east coast as a whole and I blamed being not from here. Culture shock was my excuse, and I pined for a place that was on the other side of the continent that I chose to leave.

All this moaning, groaning and bitching gave way over the last few years. Bad things happened to my family; we lost 3 of our close nit clan, and I grew more cynical. I felt like I wasn’t raising my children with the best parts of me, and I had to change something about all of it. I am not ashamed to say that I went to counseling, I needed help after my mother, grandfather and grandmother passed, I needed a guide and I did find someone who was just that. She told me yes I need to give a bit more to create my life here; I needed to let go of my firm hold on a place I can only now visit but always love. So I tried harder, I reached out and attempted to meet new people, put myself out there to make friends at work, through my daughter and her friends, I didn’t let life pass me by and only latch on to my friends and family back West who were moving on with their lives, making new friends, being happy; oh they will always be my best friends, the ones I call with the craziest of stories that only they would appreciate as they have a permanent place in my heart. My daughters needed other good, loving, funny and smart people in their lives; they needed good influences since we don’t have any family here, so I did.

I am now part of a crazy, quirky movie/book group with some awesome ladies, I have 2 real, solid best friends here that I can call and laugh, joke with, make plans and bitch to, and we have play dates, dinners out and parties. I live in a great neighborhood where I continue to meet amazing people from all over and make new friends. Life has opened up to me finally because I broke down some walls and realized I can love San Diego and still be happy making a life for myself here in Virginia.

The other night after a couple of cocktails, some good food and conversation with one of my best friends and her friend since high school, we cranked up the music in the car as we waited for their ride. It was a balmy 45 with drizzling rain and the three of us jumped out of the car and danced, laughed and took turns playing DJ. I felt the freedom of being myself and allowing myself to be happy. I had finally found a way to give and receive love, friendship and acceptance of this beautiful place I now call home and it all clicked as I felt my life come full circle, smiling and dancing in the rain.