Cover Reveal & Other Ramblin’s

The cover reveal for Crown of Storms hit social media a little over a week ago, and if I was on top of my game, I would’ve posted it to my blog. But… life happens, and sometimes, we’re stuck choosing what we need to focus our energy on. Obviously, my blog did not make the cut. And hasn’t for a while.

Here’s the cover:

Crown of Storms will be released on every platform on 11.2.2022. The date was chosen as a nod to my deceased Grams. She passed away in the month of November several years ago, and her birthday fell on the second of a month, so this was a way for me to capture the beginning of her life, and the end of her life.

Because this one woman was pivotal in the trajectory of my life. She believed in me even when I didn’t. And I’ve held onto this story about a woman fighting to find her place in the world for several years. I tweaked it here and there, adding layers as I brought the main character to life and told the story in a way that did her justice. In a way that maybe, just maybe, would touch someone’s life.

As I went through this journey, I questioned myself. My abilities. My dreams. My worth. But then, one day, I realized I was leaving it to others to decide that for me. So I paused, I reflected, and I took a different direction.

Sometimes, as young people, we kinda know what we want, but… not really. As we move through life, those goals and aspirations solidify as we continue to learn who we are instead of who the world wants us to be.

You don’t have to be anyone but you.

Read that last sentence again.

You are enough. Know it. Believe it. Live it. Life is too short to live a life according to someone else’s rules. Do what makes you happy and shine your light. Always.

Tiff

Frozen Memories

Time has slipped by, and no matter how hard I try to reach back and hold on to it, I can’t. Sleepless nights with crying infants… gone. Toys scattered across the floor… gone. Sticky fingerprints on the refrigerator door… gone.

And I don’t know where the time went.

My baby, my beautiful boy, is now a young man. And as he closes out his last year in middle school, I have mixed emotions. Pride. So much pride for the smart, kind young man he is. But it’s bittersweet because I know one day he will spread his wings and venture out into the world… without me.

There’s a fear that once he leaves, he won’t come back. That he’ll be gone forever. But I push that fear aside because I know no matter what path my son takes, he will always come home. He will come home because our house was built on a strong foundation. A foundation of acceptance, of love, of hope, of dreams.

So I take a deep breath and I blink back the tears as I stroll around my home, stopping at one frozen memory hanging on my wall for a moment before moving on to the next.

Painted faces.

Sunshine-filled laughter.

Chocolate-ringed mouths.

One tear slides down my cheek, then another. Because no matter what the future holds, the past was beautiful. It was ours. And the future? It’s his. And I have no doubt that greatness awaits him. He is going to take life in the palm of his hand and own it.

But his mama? She will be here on the sidelines, cheering and snapping new frozen memories.

Death’s Near

Death whispers.

Its voice wraps around my heart and squeezes. Soon, another loved one will pass, and a piece of my heart will leave with them. Because no one left behind loses someone and goes unscathed.

Death stays with them.

Forever.

As time slips away, wrinkles form, hair grays, joints creak. And with every wrinkle, with every gray hair, with every squeaky joint, I am reminded of how precious time is. Because as I get older, my loved ones get older—grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles. And hiding in the shadows, Death is waiting and watching.

Sometimes I can feel Death closing in, and the fear is debilitating.

A world without my mom… without my dad… is unimaginable. Even though I know one day, Death will come, and I will be without both. So I cherish today. I cherish every moment. And when the time comes for them to leave this world, I will not have any regrets. Because although I have failed many times throughout my life at many things, I have never failed to tell them I love them. That I appreciate them. That I am thankful for them. Because without them, I would not be the woman I am today.

A woman who is relentless in pursuing her dreams, no matter how unattainable they may seem. And most of all, a woman who loves her children and always puts her family first.

Death’s near, but so is life. So is love. And that’s what I hold on to. Today. Tomorrow. Always.

Al Cinder & Princess Charm WIP

Rays of the morning sun filter through mangled blinds, and Al turns onto his side, blocking the annoying sunlight with his arm. A breeze taps him on his backside, and he grumbles as he sits up. His blanket was a size meant for an infant, not a young man on the verge of adulthood, but complaining to his stepfather or his bull-like half-brothers was pointless. Even though they lived off of the money from his mother’s death, they did not share it with him, nor did they use it on the house.

A rat pushes hole-riddled slippers towards the foot of the bed. As Al tries to get up, the mattress sinks further in the middle until his eyes are level with his toes. Pink beady eyes peer over the wooden rail followed by another. Pinky and The Brain had been with him for years. Most of the time, they were helpful creatures. Today…not so much.

Al reaches for the rail, smiles when his fingers fold over it. “Aha!” But his victory is short-lived as he tries to pull himself up, and the mattress sinks until his hind end is on the floor. “Really?” he grumbles. 

Pinky and The Brain squeak at one another, then dart off. 

“Where are you going?” Al fights with the mattress, but he can’t quite get in a position that will allow him to pull himself out. 

A few minutes later, just as Al’s grumbling under his breath, a short, balding man waddles into the room. Not far behind is Pinky and The Brain. The cigar almost falls out of the man’s mouth as he chortles. 

“What’ ave ya gotcha yourself into, Al?” He wiggles his caterpillar-like eyebrows. “You’ve been tossin’ in the sheets with a lady?” He grabs Al’s hand. “It’s about time if you ask me.”

“No one’s asking you, Leo,” says Al as his feet finally hit the floor. 

Leo tucks his thumbs underneath his suspenders, stretches them out. “Maybe they should.” His eyes scan the room, stopping on Al’s slippers. He picks one up, waves it in the air. “Is this the best they’ll do?” Al doesn’t say anything as he snatches it out of Leo’s hand and slips it on. His big toe peeks out, and Leo’s rugged face turns crimson. “Those no-good, sons of a pig. Your mama would be appalled! I bet she’s a-rollin’ in her grave, God rest her soul. After everything she did to make sure you were taken care of, and this,” he grabs the small, hole-ridden blanket off the bed, “is how they honor her memory?”

“It’s fine, I—”

Leo’s brown eyes turn black as he rolls the blanket into a haphazard ball and slams it onto the bed. The bed shimmies and groans, then the headboard caves in as the rails smack the ground. “That’s it,” Leo says, “I’m callin’ the Godfather. And you, my friend, are going to the ball.”

Fear’s icy fingertips crawl down Al’s spine as he sputters. “B-b-but you c-can’t do that! Riccardo will have my head, and probably yours, too.”

Leo shrugs, unconcerned. “It’s a masquerade. They’ll never even know it’s you. Trust me, Signorino.”

Before Al can protest any further, Leo leaves the room, whistling a merry tune as if he wasn’t angry just moments ago.

 

Later that morning, Al urges Murray forward with a light click of his tongue. The mule brays as it tosses its head in annoyance. The red-clay field was hard as a rock, the rusty cast-iron plow didn’t slice easily through it, and when it did, the soil stuck to the moldboard, which Al then had to cleanout. It was a long, slow process, and the sun shows no mercy as it heats up the back of his neck. The straw hat he’s wearing is useless. There are more holes than a strainer. But he doesn’t complain. Not like Murray. Instead, he methodically tills the ground until the sun begins to lower on the horizon. And with it, so does his stomach. There are still several rows remaining. Rows he’ll never finish before dark.

As he takes a drink from his canteen, he almost jumps out of his skin as a voice breaks the silence.

“What’re ye doin’, Carrot Top?”

To Be Continued…

I decided to start sharing short stories as I wrote them. They’re nowhere near to being perfect. But I wanted to start writing down fairytale retellings where the princess doesn’t need to be saved by a prince. And no, Al is not going to be saved by Princess Charm. Just wait for me to finish the story. I promise, it’ll be worth it.

~Tiffany~

💥Crashing & Burning🔥 Hello, Thirties

If you’re in your twenties, enjoy your youthful looks and resilient body, because one day, that shit’s gonna be gone, and no matter how much you fight to get it back, your metabolism, AKA Beth, is gonna straight up laugh in your face and add a flab of fat underneath your neck and give you a whole new perspective on the word ‘jowl’. To add icing to that ham-hock neck of yours, if you try to run like you used to, your once-upon-a-time resilient muscles, AKA Jane, is gonna make you think you have it in you, then she’s gonna shred your muscles like it’s pulled pork, and you’ll be out of commission for weeks… if not months.

Getting older is painful. Beth and Jane don’t cooperate like they used to. If you even look at a cupcake Beth slows down, pops five pounds on your right ass cheek, and wipes the sweat off her forehead like she performed some great mission that saved mankind. Jane isn’t much better. If you lift your leg in an attempt to use a stepstool, Jane freaks the f*ck out, and yanks on your hamstring. You land with a resounding thud on your derriere as you scream like a toddler clinging to a toy they can’t have. 

Shit gets real when you creep toward your forties. 

Your medicine cabinet, the one you barely used, gets crammed with medicines and ointments you’d never heard of before. The Pepto commercials you laughed at… that pink shit’s now your right hand girl. Tums turns into a nightly event. Bengay becomes a new, smelly friend you use like deodorant. 

The funny thing is… if you’re reading this and you’re in your twenties… you think it’ll never happen to you. 

You run five miles a day. 

You eat healthy.

You drink water.

You’re invincible. 

Bwah ha ha ha…saddle up, cowgirl. 

I used to be you. Then Beth and Jane showed up and showed out. Now, I’m hitting up a swimming pool to avoid Jane rupturing my muscles. I’m eating Built Bars and tracking my food on an app as I try to out maneuver Beth’s fat-adding wand that she swishes around like it’s magic fairy dust.

Your thirties are the years you began crashing and burning. You realize how frail you truly are. You’ll have dumb nights where you think you can drink like you did in your early twenties, then Ronda shows up and smacks the shit out of you, giving you a hangover like you’d never had before. Your stomach’s on fire and churns twenty-four hours later, your head pounds, your freakin’ eyeballs hurt. 

So, I’m going to enjoy the last few years of my thirties with Beth, Jane, and Ronda as I try to mentally prepare myself for what’s to come in my forties. 

If you’re in your twenties, live it up, y’all.

~Ms. Write Life~

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