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

Roaring Women

The world is always changing folks, but sometimes, there are people who do not change with it. It isn’t always a bad thing. I personally think we are entitled to our beliefs, our thoughts and our feelings as long as we are not leaving a wake of damaged souls behind us. I was raised to think for myself. To be independent. To chase after my dreams – no matter how crazy they seem. I needed a man at my side who was willing to be my partner. My equal in all things. A man who wasn’t afraid to let me dream and to let me chase those dreams. A man who supported my decisions, even if others thought they were completely insane. Women are roaring, ladies and gents. We are in the music industry, entertainment industry, the corporate world, and so many other places. And guess what? We’re here to stay.

As a woman, I am proud of how far we have come. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a stay at home mom and taking care of your children. That’s a choice we now have the ability to make instead of it being made for us. If that’s what makes you happy, then I am happy for you. I watch strong women making their mark on music, and my heart soars. Sometimes we have to be loud in our actions because the business world can be a cutthroat business. Taylor Swift stood up for herself. I don’t know all the details. I guess no one really does besides Taylor and her former label, but there are still some men out there who want to put women under their thumb. We are not here to be controlled and tamed, and we have a right to take a stand for ourselves.

I read an article about the movie Hustlers where all of the producers and people involved were all women. I haven’t seen the movie, but I respect the fact that there are women paving a way for themselves in an industry where they didn’t always have control or equality.

Then, there is the corporate world of business where women are becoming owners, CEOs, and rising into leadership positions. Climbing that ladder isn’t easy. It takes a ton of work and a strong backbone. I have seen a select few men still try to bully women into their way of thinking because they had an issue with a woman being their boss. I have been there and dealt with it as well. Part of me was kind of naïve and shocked when it occurred because I didn’t think there were still men lingering around that thought that way. I like to think most men are willing to treat women as equals.

At the end of the day, whatever a woman chooses to do with her life at least it is her choice. We are not put in a box with our life path already defined for us based solely on our gender.

Cheers to the roaring women out there. I see you. I hear you. I am proud of you.

~Tiff~

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Straight Up Sucka

Y’all want to know something about me that I’m just kind of accepting about myself? I’m a straight up sucka when it comes to furry little creatures and kids selling random junk. I. Can’t. Say. No. It’s a serious problem that I’m unable to correct. You’d think my husband would help curb it. He doesn’t it. He just looks at me and smiles because he knows what’s coming.

My entire life I’ve been a dog person. They’re my spirit animal. They’re the blackberry jelly to my biscuit. They bring me happiness, and I enjoy having them around. Maybe part of it is because I get to be the leader of a pack. Makes me feel a like badass for a few seconds, then it sinks in that I have Shih Tzus and my badass meter drops down to zero. They’re happy balls of fur. If someone came into my house, they would be attacked by tongues…that’s about it. Fierce little creatures, right? So, when a kitten showed up on my deck one day, I stared at it in a stupor. What is this thing? Why is it here?

I immediately went to social media and posted a picture of the critter. Lost a kitten? Want a kitten? Come get ‘er. Right. Now. And…zero response. I live in an area where houses are not stacked one on top of the other. I live in cow country. Fields and cows with a house here and there. That’s pretty much it. I told my youngest gremlin not to touch the kitten, not to look at the kitten, do not talk to the kitten – ignore it and it will go away. Great advice, right? Well, guess what? That shit did not work. She stayed, and my heart wept a little as I heard her poor, pitiful meows. I caved. Completely, utterly freakin’ caved. I fed her. I gave her water. That pretty much sealed the deal.

A few weeks passed by, and we bought her a house. Then treats, toys, a scratching post, other senseless things. Catch a glimpse of the intruder here:

Yeah, she got me. She’s now been vaccinated, and I just had her spayed this week. I’ve never been a cat person, but this kitten pushed her way into my life, and I bowed to her wishes. The thoughts of her never finding a home or being euthanized ran rampant in my mind, and I ended up taking on the responsibility of caring for another animal. Maybe that’s why I have dogs that try to follow me home after going for a run? It’s like they have a sucka meter ingrained in them that points directly at me.

I am a straight up sucka, y’all. When there are kids standing outside of a store selling awful popcorn, I shove my money at them and tell them to keep the popcorn for themselves. They receive so many noes from people that I can’t be another. They’re putting themselves out there, and I think we should encourage them. Lift them up. So on and so forth. You get the picture.

So, I now have a cat and less money. See – furry little creatures & kids = Tiff’s weaknesses.

~Tiff, AKA Straight Up Sucka ~

Slipping Time

Most days, I feel young. Like run across a field, dance in the flowers, young. That wasn’t the case yesterday. My eldest offspring, the eldest of my Gremlins, turned seventeen. He probably thought his mom was back to being a whack job as I stared at him with a mixed look of love and trepidation. I know he doesn’t get it but some of y’all might as I tell you what was going through this lovely brain of mine.

At first, I thought about the first moment I held him at the ripe ol’ age of nineteen. I knew I was going to do whatever I needed to do to create a life this mewling, scrunched-up face baby deserved. It was a pivotal moment in my life. That’s the moment I began to learn what it meant to love someone unconditionally. As a later-in-life Christian, I’ve heard the preaching about being gay is a sin and all that jazz, but you know what? If my son told me he was gay, I wouldn’t banish him from my home. I wouldn’t stop loving him. I would hug him and be the mom he needs me to be. Who am I to judge? I’ll leave that for our Father when the time comes. There is enough hate and judgement in the world that I’m not going to cast any stones. I don’t believe that’s why we’re here. How can we preach to people about the gospel in one breath, then spew judgement and hate in the next? It doesn’t align, folks. It. Just. Doesn’t.

I learned to love because of my child. It made me re-evaluate every decision in my life. I was with a man who didn’t value me. Who made me feel small and question my self-worth. Did I really want to raise my child with the relationship I was in as an example of what people in ‘love’ looked like? I didn’t. Maybe some people judged me for walking away, but as I sit here typing sixteen years later – it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I met a man who valued what I had to say, who treated me like I was worth more than what I even thought I was worth, and he treated my child like he was his own. We’ve been married fourteen years, and we’re still going strong. Our house is filled with laughter and love, which is how it should be. I may fail at everything else in life, but my family life isn’t one of them.

So, that’s why I had the silly, love look on my face before it turned to trepidation. Trepidation because the thoughts started flying through my mind of what I was doing when I was seventeen. Man, we’re so dumb at that age. We think we have life figured out when the reality is we don’t have the first clue. Next year, he’ll be stepping into this vast world as an adult, paving his own way through life. That is scary.

I thought about my children growing up. I thought about how fast time slipped past me like a thief in the night. I’m trying to soak in every single moment with my kids before they leave my nest to create their own. We can chase the dream of rising to the top of a corporate ladder or of building an empire, but no matter how much money you make, you can’t buy back time. You can’t buy back the moments you missed while you were traversing across the country for your job. Moments are precious. Cherish them. Always.

~Tiff~

Raising Gremlins

Right now, school is out due to the flu running rampant, so the gremlins are at home. I opened my teenager’s door to make sure he was doing his schoolwork for the day, and y’all, I almost died. Breath knocked out of me, fell to the ground and grabbed my chest, kind of died. The smell of sweat mixed with something akin to crushed corn chips and other gross odors didn’t just slap me in the face, it gut-punched me. My hand shook a little as I managed to grab the handle and shut the door.

Seriously, what is wrong with boys? I mean, I’m appreciative of the fact my teenager bathes daily, but the smell coming out of his room is straight up gag worthy. He doesn’t smell bad, so what’s up with his room? It has probably seeped into the paint and flooring. Might have to condemn it. IDK. Whatever. I’ll be mean and let my husband pop his head in there later when he gets home from work because I’m sweet like that. Happy Valentine’s Day, baby. Bwah ha ha.

I then staggered my way to the bathroom to wash my face and my singed nose hairs, and I turned on the light to find this:

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Seriously, y’all, why can’t boys hit the laundry basket? They spend their entire lives learning to aim their ‘toys’ at the hole in the toilet bowl and successfully discharge urine into it, but they can’t manage to get a t-shirt into a massive rectangle? C’mon, man. C’mon.

To add salt to the open, putrid wound … I went to move the shower curtain, and I picked up one of their shampoo bottles off the rim of the tub and guess what … it’s empty. I grab another one … it’s empty. I almost lost my shit as I jerked them up and tossed them into the bathroom trashcan that’s literally two feet away from it.

I washed and dried my face, did a cycle of the Navage to rinse the stench out of my nose and moved on. As I entered the living room, still mumbling to myself about how lucky I was to be the mother of gremlins, when I stubbed my pinky toe on a shoe. I turned on the light and there’s a trail of shoes to the shoe rack by the front door. You see this?

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It’s a shoe rack. Do you notice all of the girly shoes that are placed on the so-called shoe rack? Those are mine. The only female in this household.

So, dearest future significant others of these gremlins, please know that their momma tried, and is continuing to try, to turn them into a mogwai (Gizmo).

~Tiff~

Write On

Listen, y’all, have been in a little bit of a funk over the last few weeks. The cold – it slices right through me, and I just want to burrow under a blanket while ignoring the outside world. Don’t get me wrong. I like people. Ok, ok … stop laughing. I’ll change the sentence. I like most people. With that being said, I’m just not one of those folks that adores winter and dreams in snowflakes. Spring and summer are my jelly. Yeah, equivalent to blackberry jelly. If you haven’t had decent blackberry jelly, I’ll send a prayer your way. You haven’t lived until that sweet deliciousness has hit your tongue. Just sayin’.

Even though I’m wrapping myself in a million soft, fuzzy blankets with hideous designs and staying mostly inside, I am still managing to click away on the keyboard. I’m still sending queries out for my latest novel. It’s not a fast process. It’s a slow, methodical process. Being in a corporate environment where everything is moving at lightning speed, I can imagine what literary agents face every time they open their inbox, and personally, I don’t envy them. It has to be tough because every rejection they send out is dashing someone’s dream and quite possibly ruining their day.

As a writer, I try not to let the querying process get to me. For the literary agents, a rejection isn’t sent out to hurt someone. It’s just a business and they can’t accept every query they receive. Use those rejections as a motivator to learn more and become even better. Life is a journey, y’all. We need to continue to learn from our mistakes and grow as human beings.

I have also officially started outlining my next novel, so I probably won’t be sleeping as well until I have it completely hammered out. Once it’s in my head, it takes over. So, I plan on being done with the outline over the next month, then finish my first draft by June. For me, it helps to have a goal. Once I start writing, I keep a running record of what my wordcount is each day. I try to range between 1,200 and 1,500 per day, but I don’t beat myself up if one day is shorter or if I miss a day because I know there will be days where my brain is like a brand new machine and I’m churning out more than my goal.

If you’re feeling deflated as a rejection enters your inbox, don’t let it get you down. Chin up, ladies and gents, and write on. Greatness rises from rejections.

~Tiff~

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