Romance Roundup

The lovely Jade C. Jamison has organized this awesome contest for romance readers! One-click your way to a happily ever after, then enter to win one of three Amazon gift cards (or the equivalent at the ebook store of your choice).

Check out the Romance Roundup. Click here!

As part of the Romance Roundup, Twisted Broken Strings (South of Forever prequel) is FREE. Grab your copy now!

If she lets him into her band, she’ll have to let him into her heart.

Koty Jackson wanted to be a rock star, not a singer in the boy band ESX. When he finds out that Jett Costa is looking for a new guitarist and vocalist for her band, Perpetual Smile, Koty is determined to get his demo to her label. But his agent thinks he’s crazy, and when he runs into Jett for a late-night television interview, she tells him that she’ll never allow him in her band.

Jett Costa wasn’t looking for love. After losing the love of her life and the man who helped her build Perpetual Smile from the ground up, all she wants to do is get through their tour in one piece. She never thought she would let a boy band singer in her band—and she also didn’t think she would fall in love with him.

But if things stay the way they are, neither of them will ever get ahead in their careers. Somehow, they’ve got to come to an agreement—or they’ll both fall into obscurity.

Twisted Broken Strings is the PREQUEL to the South of Forever series.

Get Your Copy Now

Read Twisted Broken Strings for FREE

If she lets him into her band, she’ll have to let him into her heart.

Koty Jackson wanted to be a rock star, not a singer in the boy band ESX. When he finds out that Jett Costa is looking for a new guitarist and vocalist for her band, Perpetual Smile, Koty is determined to get his demo to her label. But his agent thinks he’s crazy, and when he runs into Jett for a late-night television interview, she tells him that she’ll never allow him in her band.

Jett Costa wasn’t looking for love. After losing the love of her life and the man who helped her build Perpetual Smile from the ground up, all she wants to do is get through their tour in one piece. She never thought she would let a boy band singer in her band—and she also didn’t think she would fall in love with him.

But if things stay the way they are, neither of them will ever get ahead in their careers. Somehow, they’ve got to come to an agreement—or they’ll both fall into obscurity.

Twisted Broken Strings is the PREQUEL to the South of Forever series.

Read Now for Free

Twisted Broken Strings is now FREE everywhere ebooks are sold. Grab your copy now!

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Get Diving Into Him, the first book in the South of Forever series, for FREE when you join my email list. Click here now!

Read Diving Into Him for FREE

Jett might be sober, but she can’t kick her addiction to Koty.​

Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll—that was Jett Costa’s old life. After her wildly popular band falls apart, she’s determined to remain sober and rebuild her career. There’s just one problem. The only person who still has any faith in her is her ex-boyfriend Koty, and Jett isn’t sure that she can keep her hands off him.

Maybe living together wasn’t such a great idea after all.

She may have been sober when she made that decision, but she definitely wasn’t when she agreed to play a show on behalf of a band that no longer exists at one of the biggest bars in Boston. Now she has less than three weeks to get her new band together. Can she ignore the sizzling sparks that fly between her and Koty every time they play?

Diving Into Him is the first book in the South of Forever series, a steamy contemporary romance that follows a fledgling rock band on its way to the top.

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  • series extras (such as teasers, song lyrics, character profiles)
  • excerpts from upcoming books in the series
  • news about my other novels
  • exclusive discounts, promotions, and giveaways
  • and more!

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This Book Will Be the Death of Me

via Unsplash

I’ve scrapped and restarted Cruising with the Blues, the fourth and final book in the South of Forever series, more times than I can count now. I don’t even want to think about how many thousands of words I’ve thrown out and how many outlines I’ve crumpled up because this damned book just isn’t working.

Sometimes that happens.

It’s super frustrating, especially when you can’t figure out why. It was driving me absolutely bonkers, and I was thinking about it so hard that I swear smoke was coming out of my ears. Being a chronic over-thinker is simultaneously one of my worst and best traits. I can get in so deep that I think myself all the way into a state of woe, or I can think my way out of a complex problem in seconds.

This time things started to go the woe way—until I started talking things out with my friends J.C. Hannigan and Molli Moran. I’ve noticed that I’m much more productive if I start thinking out loud with someone who will listen and let me bounce ideas off them. Both of these ladies are super good at that, and it didn’t take long until it dawned on me.

The reason I’ve been having so much trouble with SOF4 is because I’d strayed from my brand.

I write stories starring strong belles who chose a different path.

That’s my brand whether I’m writing YA or NA, romance or suspense—women who do things they aren’t supposed to, who are strong in many different ways. In each draft so far, Krista wasn’t conflicted about her path. When I compared it to the other books I’ve published, each of my heroines did something she wasn’t supposed to. I couldn’t find any place where Krista railed against her expectations of herself or someone else’s expectations of her. So I grabbed my book of writing ideas and scribbled down some questions.

What does Krista think she should do or is supposed to do? Which path does she take instead?

I’m still trying to find the answers to these questions—especially since I also “have to” wrap up the series with this book. In the meantime I’ve decided to put it aside and work on something else, rather than make myself crazy. I might realize that there might not even be a fourth book. At the end of What Happens on Tour, the band has defeated their rival and strengthened their bonds. They’re planning on organizing their own tour and continuing recording and playing. That’s a pretty good happy-for-now ending; I might need to let go of the idea that I “should” write a fourth book.

That’s the not so exciting part of the writing process. Sometimes you have to let things simmer on the back burner. Sometimes you think you know something, but then everything changes because art. The creative mind is a beautiful but mysterious thing. It can also be kind of a jerk.

Plus, let’s face it: I tend to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, rather than going with the flow or letting my instincts guide me. I tell myself I “should” do something, even when I don’t necessarily have to, and stubbornly cling to the idea until it dawns on me that I can let it go.

So, for now, I’ve decided to let the South of Forever series be. Things are stable enough that there’s no cliffhanger to resolve but I can also come back and write more books later if need be. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on some other projects.

Treat Yourself to 10 Romance Ebooks for $0.99 Each!

I don’t know about you, but here in Connecticut, it’s been cold and windy, and Mother Nature keeps dumping snow on us. This Valentine’s Day, I’m collaborating with nine other authors in an exciting $0.99 sale. Diving Into Him (South of Forever, Book 1) is only $0.99 through February 18th.

Warm up with 10 romance ebooks for $0.99 each—and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Click here to get started »

Here and Queer: On Writing a Bi Romance Heroine

via Unsplash

*deep breath* There’s something you might not know about me.

I’m queer.

As in, LGBTQIA+. As in, bisexual (but I prefer queer). I’ve blogged about it before, and I’ve been out for years, but it’s not something I talk about often. Even though I’m proud as fuck to be bi—to be me—there’s another part of this story that is painful. Well, a few parts actually:

  • When I tried to come out to family, the first person I told said to me that there’s no such thing.
  • When I came out to my then-boyfriend (who was a complete scumbag anyway), all he could talk about was threesomes.
  • More recently, when discussing my sexuality with someone, they were all “Hold up. You can’t be queer. You married a dude!”

Thankfully, I had a fantastic support system when I came out: a whole bunch of queer people in my high school. We may have all drifted apart, as people tend to do after high school, but I’ll never, ever forget my friends Lisa*, Lacie*, Joy*, Phoebe*, and Starr*, who were all super supportive during the great LGBTQIA+ coming out party. (By the way, I’ve been searching desperately for Phoebe on Facebook, with no luck. I can’t remember her birth name or last name. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately. I was one of very few people that she shared her name with and told she was trans, and I would love to know how she’s doing, how her story after high school unfolded.) This was before Twitter, so I can appreciate how very lucky I was to have such a support system.

Not many people are so fortunate.

via GIPHY

I’ve been thinking about my sexuality a lot lately. A lot. It’s extremely important to me that I don’t lose that piece of me. That it doesn’t get lost in my heterosexual marriage or these strange, dark times we’re living in.

Being queer is an extremely big part of who I am.

I knew that Krista, the heroine and main character of my work in progress Cruising with the Blues, would be queer. I also knew that she and Perry were meant to be. I’ve struggled so much with this novel, writing tens of thousands of words only to scrap them because I just couldn’t get it right. I think I was trying to do too much with one book: play matchmaker, address a few social issues, wrap up the series… You know, nothing major. 😅

In the very first draft I wrote, Krista was a bi woman struggling with depression. I wrote something like 5,000 words and then tossed it because it just didn’t feel right.

In my second try, Krista was a spoonie like me, only living with Lupus. (My disease is possibly pre-Lupus.) She was also bi. Again, I was trying to squeeze too much into one book. I threw away over 16,000 words, which stung.

With my third shot, I wrote another 6,000 or so words, cutting the mental and chronic illnesses. This time I approached the story from another angle, matchmaking Krista and Perry by using their shared desire to get their band mates into rehab. Once again, though, I was focusing too much on things outside of Krista, rather than on Krista herself. So I scrapped those words, too.

Altogether I’ve thrown out something like 20,000 words. Can you say ouch?

But fourth time’s the charm because this time around, I understand Krista a bit better. I now totally get why she’s so upset with Poppy for ditching their plans to share a cabin during the cruise.

Krista is in love with her best friend.

She’s also got a thing for Perry.

There have been two times in my life when I was in love with two people at the same time. It doesn’t seem fair that the heart can be so conflicted, but it happens. It’s a painful experience, something that you can’t just turn off—just like Krista’s and my sexuality.

While I’m still incorporating other elements into SOF4—getting Krista and Perry together, wrapping up the series, getting Jett and Max help—I’m focusing more on bisexuality and the stigma from all sides.

How non-queer people just don’t get how you can have feelings for and be attracted to both the opposite and the same gender.

How queer people often exclude bisexual people, writing us off as “confused” or “looking for attention.”

How you just don’t feel like you fit in with either the straight or gay world sometimes, or all the time.

This kind of erasure—from two opposite parts of your life—can be heartbreaking and confusing, to say the least.

By exploring Krista’s feelings for both Perry and Poppy, I’m hoping to give other bi people a safe haven where they can find characters they relate to. There are so few books out there with bi characters, and the few that do usually have them in same-sex relationships. I’m writing the book that I’ve desperately needed for years, damn it.

I wonder all the time if I’ll someday regret marrying a man. I love my husband with all of my heart, and I’m happily monogamous. Making the choice to be in a heterosexual relationship despite my still-very-much-alive attraction to the same sex is conflicting enough, without other people saying things like “But you’re married. You can’t be queer!”

To which I reply, “The hell I can’t!”

I’m over 6,000 words into Cruising with the Blues now. It’s both painfully and proudly #ownvoices—written based on my own experiences as a marginalized person.

(Side note: I feel kind of weird using the word “marginalized,” but I also feel that it’s important to call it like you see it. A lot of my bi friends have purposely assimilated into heterosexuality, because even though gay people are for the most part accepted by our culture, our society just doesn’t understand or accept bi people. And trans people, and ace people, and… *neverending sigh*)

The first 5,000 words came slowly, but now that I’ve realized where Krista is coming from, man am I on a roll.

Letting her shoulders relax, she melted back into the music. Perry moved with her, letting her set the pace and tone. His hands never wandered—even though she desperately wanted them to—and he kept a respectable distance between them. Still, he was close enough that she could feel the heat radiating off his body.

And something else.

Something like desire.

Or maybe she was just projecting.

via GIPHY

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

“South of Christmas” | A South of Forever Holiday Story

This year I put together another Holly Jolly Blog Hop with other authors. I’d like to do more collaborations in the future, because they’re always so fun!

Anyway, this year’s theme is “The Wrong Gift.” Every author participating in the hop posted a free short story on their blog. This is a great way for you to discover new authors or enjoy some bonus scenes with your favorite characters, so be sure to check out the entire list here.

And now, without further ado…


“South of Christmas”
A South of Forever Holiday Short

Koty tugged open the oven door and peered inside. The pre-cooked Christmas roast he’d bought was faring well—meaning he hadn’t burnt it. If nothing else went right, he’d consider the holiday a win just for the roast.

Jett—his girlfriend and the lead singer of South of Forever, the band he played in—padded into the kitchen. She lifted a meaningful eyebrow at him. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

He nodded. “I know how rough the holidays are for you. I wanted to make it special.”

“Yes, but . . . inviting the entire band over?” She grimaced, exaggerating the face. “This can’t go well.”

Koty said nothing. It was going to be awesome—especially the gifts. Thanks to Poppy, the band’s manager, he’d scored the perfect present for Jett. He still couldn’t believe it.

The doorbell rang, and Koty marched toward the front of their condo. He pulled open the door, not sure who to expect. The entire band crowded on his front stoop. “You’re . . . all on time,” he said, shocked.

“That’s because I told them to be here an hour earlier than what we’d planned.” Poppy beamed.

Griff, her boyfriend and South of Forever’s bassist, kissed her temple.

“Wait a second.” Max shot Poppy a glare. “So you made me think I was running late when I’m actually perfectly on time?”

“Exactly.”

“Devious,” he muttered.

“Come on in, guys.” Koty waved them inside.

They crowded into the living room, making the ordinarily spacious condo seem so much smaller. Chloe, Max’s daughter, threw herself into Koty’s arms at full force.

“Uncle Koty!” she exclaimed. “Look what Santa brought!” She held up a kids’ palette of watercolor paints. “So I can paint like Mommy—I mean, Na Na.”

Across the room, Savannah—Max’s girlfriend and the band’s graphic designer—exchanged glances with Max. “Should I correct her?” Koty heard her whisper.

“Nah,” Max said. “You are her mother.”

“You’re going to make my mother childless if we don’t eat soon,” Perry, the bassist, complained.

Krista, South of Forever’s music blogger, swatted at him, rolling her eyes. “When was the last time you even talked to your mother?”

“Food’s ready,” Koty said. He gestured to the kitchen. “If you guys all wanna sit down, we can get started.”

They filed past him, somehow managing not to stampede through the condo. As Poppy neared, he drew her aside.

“Did you get it?”

“Of course. What do you think I am?” She pressed a small, wrapped box into Koty’s hands.

Relief washed through him as she sashayed into the kitchen. He bent and tucked the little box under the tree, then joined the band at the table.

Somehow Jett had set the table and laid out the food without breaking into hives. He grinned. Perhaps she could be domesticated, despite the jokes she always cracked.

The knowing glare she shot him from across the table said otherwise. He bit back a smile. His girl was amazing just the way she was—whether she was into homemaking or not.

Dinner flew by. None of the band members argued, and several times Koty noticed a contented smile on Jett’s face. He’d been determined to make this holiday season a warm one for her. Too many in the past had broken her heart—and he’d had enough bad Christmases of his own to last a lifetime.

When everyone was stuffed, he ushered them into the living room. He could take care of the kitchen later.

“Thank you all for coming,” he told them, making his way to the tree. “We really wanted this Christmas to be special. You guys are like our family, and—”

“Gross,” Perry ribbed. “I’m going to need a shower now.”

“Yeah, cut it out,” Griff said. “This is not very rock ’n’ roll.”

“Speak for yourselves! I love you too, bro,” Max said, clutching at his chest and making crazy eyes at Koty. The other guys cracked up.

With a shrug, Koty reached under the tree. Clutching the box, he held it up for Jett. “I don’t want to make a big deal out of this, but . . . I think you’re going to love it.”

The entire room fell into hushed awe. Both Savannah’s and Poppy’s eyes were glued to the box, and Jett eyed it as if it might explode.

He pressed it into her hands. “Just open it.”

Her lips were a tight line as she peeled off the paper. The velvety black box she held in her hand held so much more weight emotionally than physically. He steeled himself for her reaction. Her brown eyes darted up to his, eyebrows lifting in question.

“Go on.”

The wrapping paper fell to the floor as she flipped the box open.

A grin tugged at his lips. He couldn’t wait for her to see it. He’d spent days perfecting it, standing over Poppy’s shoulder while she sketched.

“Gah!” Jett dropped the box as if it were a spider. It tumbled to the floor.

“What? What’s wrong?”

She stared at him accusingly. “Why? Why would you do this? I thought we agreed!”

Koty blinked. He tried to remember if they’d made a no gifts pact. His brow wrinkled. “What do you mean?”

Jett snatched the box up from the floor. She thrust it in front of his face. “This!”

A sparkling diamond ring nearly blinded him.

“Gah!” He jumped back, pushing the box away. “I didn’t do this!” Horrified, he scanned the room until his eyes met Poppy’s. “What is this, some kind of sick joke?”

The band manager cocked her head at him. When he held the ring up, understanding dawned on her face. “Sorry,” she said with a laugh. “I must’ve mixed up the boxes.”

Griff stared at her, his fair complexion even paler. “I didn’t do that either,” he sputtered.

“Of course not.” Poppy plucked the box from Koty’s hand. “I designed it for myself. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, you know.” She slid the ring onto an index finger. “Ooh, and it fits perfectly!”

“Yeah, that’s great,” Koty said, “but where’s my gift for Jett?”

“Oh!” She reached into her bag, digging around. She tossed Koty another box—this one unwrapped.

Pressing his lips together, he handed it to Jett. “I promise,” he said while throwing a glare toward Poppy, “that there’s no engagement ring in this one.”

“It’s not an engagement ring,” Poppy muttered.

“Are you trying to tell me something?” Griff asked.

Jett considered the box for a moment, the expression on her face unreadable. Koty thought she might be amused, but also slightly embarrassed. He made a mental note to never put Poppy in charge of gifts again.

“Go ahead,” he told Jett, voice gentle. Sometimes his tough girl could be like a startled deer, crashing through the woods at the first sign of being caged. He knew she loved him, and he had no complaints about what they had.

Jett opened the box. As she took in his real gift, her eyes softened. She turned toward him. “This,” she said, “is perfect.”

“Well? Hold it up!” Savannah called to her.

Jett lifted the white gold necklace from the box, dangling the diamond-encrusted guitar pick so that it caught in the light. On the back, Koty’d had the jeweler engrave their initials: JC + KJ. It’d been expensive, but even without South of Forever, Koty was set for life. Every penny he’d put toward that necklace had been worth it.

Turning, Jett threw her arms around his neck. “Thank you,” she whispered into his ear.

“Merry Christmas,” he whispered back, his arms twining around her.

Mission accomplished.


Thanks for reading “South of Christmas”! You can now read the entire South of Forever series for free in KU. Click here to get started.

Don’t forget to check out the other free stories in the hop! Click here to read them all.

Read the South of Forever Series FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Extra, extra, read all about it—the South of Forever series is now available on Kindle Unlimited! It’s also got some updates.

  • The prequel novel is now a free bonus when you join the South of Forever email list. I’ve long struggled with finding the proper place for this story; it’s important to the SOF series, but I think a lot of readers were confused. No more! Readers get it free. Click here to get your copy.
  • I’m testing new cover designs. What do you think? My favorite is SOF3. Poppy looks like she’s having the time of her life! And her rockin’ hair is love. 😍
  • Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the entire series at no additional cost. Learn more about KU and sign up here! You’ll also get the first 30 days for free.
  • I’ve resumed working on SOF4. More info on that soon!
  • Paperbacks back in stock in 2017. More details soon.

Start binge-reading the South of Forever series now!


Book 1: Diving Into Him

Jett might be sober, but she can’t kick her addiction to Koty.

Read a Sample: Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3 · Chapter 4 · Chapter 5

Buy Now: Amazon US · Amazon CA · Amazon UK


Book 2: Savannah’s Song

Savannah’s forever has a secret that could destroy them—and the band.

Read a Sample: Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3 · Chapter 4 · Chapter 5

Buy Now: Amazon US · Amazon CA · Amazon UK


Book 3: What Happens on Tour

South of Forever’s first tour is about to begin, and so is Poppy’s career—if she can keep all her lies straight.

Read a Sample: Chapter 1 · Chapter 2 · Chapter 3 · Chapter 4 · Chapter 5

Buy Now: Amazon US · Amazon CA · Amazon UK


Happy reading!

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Wrap-Up!

via Unsplash
via Unsplash

The first week of NaNoWriMo is officially behind us now! I have a lot going on in my personal life (nasty flareup, financial stress, very sick relative I’m worried about), so I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to. Still, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

Title: Twisted Broken Strings
Series: South of Forever, Book 4
Word Count Goal: 75,000
Current Word Count: 9,078 10,021

Admittedly, I’d written about 4K before NaNo started. Listen. Every month is National Novel Writing Month for me, okay? My production schedule waits for no NaNo, and all that. I’m just grateful that things fell this way so I can actually participate this year.

😂 I’M A PUBLISHED AUTHOR I DO WHAT I WANT DON’T JUDGE ME 😂

That said, my word count goal for this book is high. 75K?! I tried to whittle it down, I really did. The other SOF books are about 60K each, give or take. But Krista and Perry’s story, well, it needed a little more than that. There’s no way I’ll write 75K by the end of this month, though. Not with the condition my wrists—and the rest of my joints—are in. I do think I’ll hit the NaNo goal of 50K, though. Slow and steady wins this race, my friends. Hell, I’ll even write 54K, just to make up for that 4K I wrote before the official start. 😉

With every novel I write, I try to learn a new technique. Here’s what I’m doing with Twisted Broken Strings! (Possible spoiler alerts, so reader beware.)

  • Giving an antagonist a “save the cat” redeeming quality or two. So far, we’ve come to hate Saul (lead singer of King Riley), and we have a lot of reason to. But we’ve barely gotten to really know him—the real Saul. Krista gives us that perspective. Saul is her brother, and he’s made a lot of mistakes, but she knows he isn’t all bad. She’s just as concerned for him as she is for Jett and Max. I’m hoping that softens him a bit in my readers’ eyes. Krista reflects on good deeds he’s done and her worry for his sobriety (and safety).
  • “We’ll never speak of this again.” I can’t remember the name of this writing technique—brain fog, the horrors!—but basically something happens that the reader and/or other characters aren’t aware of that no one wants to talk about. Between SOF3 and SOF4, South of Forever goes on a regional headliner to promote their EP (and to shake off the disastrous tour with King Riley). This happens off-screen, and during that time, a thing happens that affects the plot of SOF4—a lot. It’s hinted at a couple times, and eventually revealed to the reader so that the reader can commiserate with Krista. This wasn’t part of my original outline, so I’m pantsing the big reveal. After talking with my CP, I determined that I definitely don’t want to reveal it too early… but also don’t want to wait until the very end, either.
  • #OwnVoices. Twisted Broken Strings is my very first #OwnVoices novel—my MC Krista is disabled, like me, dealing with similar struggles I had in college and have now. There’s no magic cure for her at the end; where I’m still undiagnosed, I’ve diagnosed her with Lupus (since that’s a possibility for me), which is an autoimmune disease with no cure. Krista’s Lupus isn’t the main plot, but it impacts the story a lot. It’s simultaneously cathartic and really freakin’ hard to write about this. I really want to show people that just because you don’t “look” sick, it doesn’t mean you’re not struggling—and you can also lead a fulfilling life. I’ve had #OwnVoices supporting characters before, and included bits from different areas of my own life in several novels, but never like this.

So despite gimping along, I’m pretty satisfied with this week’s progress.

How many words have you written so far this week? Tell me where you’re at in the comments below!


ED: I ended up doing some writing today, so I’ve updated this post to reflect my new word count for the week!

This Is My #Paingry Face

photo-on-10-12-16-at-4-24-am

It’s five in the morning. My joints are bright hot fireballs of throbbing death. I’m exhausted and have been all day, but the pulsing ache in every single joint of my body is like an alarm clock blaring in my ear. When I’m in pain like this, all I can focus on is the pain. All I want to do is whimper. The only thing I can talk about is how much pain I’m in.

My chronic pain runs my life.

The thick gray smudges under my eyes, the tangled nest of curls bundled up on top of my head, the inward curve of my shoulders—all of it a portrait of the pain I live with when I don’t have a DMARD combatting the inflammation in my joints/tendons. And I’m frustrated all over again, because I’ve been denied those medications. And I’m really feeling it.

I got comfortable. I’d been on SSZ and maybe I took it for granted. Constant headaches and a perpetual metal taste in my mouth seem easy compared to what I’m feeling right now. Maybe I shouldn’t have complained. Maybe I should have kept swallowing the pills and taken what little relief they gave me. I was ungrateful, and now I’m paying the price. The warm summer months rolled in, easing my transition off SSZ. I went swimming. I ran errands. I cleaned my house.

Now I’m lucky I can move at all.

I hate the cold months. I know everyone is reveling in fall right now, but all I want to do is give those who are celebrating sweaters and Instagramming photos of leaves the stink eye. Because for me, October through May is hell unleashed.

If it hurts to die, this is exactly what it feels like.

I don’t mean to be melodramatic. It is five in the morning and I should be sleeping. I’m usually sleeping at this hour. I have places to go and things to do during normal morning hours, yet I will have to choose between resting and getting blood work done. My knees and hips hurt so badly, I feel like I need a wheelchair.

I’d go to the emergency room if I thought they could do anything.

What I need is a different DMARD and a hefty dose of Prednisone to get me through until it starts working. I need a doctor like the ER attending who knew that inflammation was my issue, even if my blood work said otherwise. I need someone like the PA I used to see, someone who listens and won’t give up. Dr. M was becoming that someone, but she left the practice. And now I just feel so fucking lonely and depleted.

I don’t know how I keep doing this. Living with this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, hands down. And I’ve been through a lot of difficult things. I’m not saying I’d rather go through them again—they were eviscerating enough on their own, thank you—I’m just saying that this is so hard and I’m so tired. I’m out of spoons—emotionally, mentally, and physically.

I’m done yearning to be normal. It’s been nearly a decade. At this point,  it’s not going to happen. I just want some kind of quality of life. I don’t want to burst into tears because I’ve dropped the cap to my water bottle and can’t physically make it across the kitchen floor to retrieve it. I don’t want to feel lonely at almost 5am because my husband went to bed hours ago. I don’t want to slap a temporary painkiller Band-Aid on my gunshot wounds, hoping that Tramadol will bring my pain down to a 8/10. I don’t want to feel like I’m missing out while my husband, brother-in-law, and niece hang out at a gallery and I stay home because I feel like microwaved zombie.

I’m just so fucking tired.

I’m not going to do anything more drastic than smoking a cigarette, but I need all of the love, strength, and support that I can get right now. I feel almost cheesy asking for this, but if you can even just leave a comment with hugs, that would be so helpful.

This probably goes without saying, but I’m taking Wednesday off.

On the bright side, I wrote 400ish* words for SOF4, and it’s officially #OwnVoices because I’ve given Krista my enthesitis related arthritis. Tonight’s—this morning’s?—session was basically just a long description of how much everything hurts her, AKA me. Here’s a little snippet:

Hot twinges buried themselves in Krista’s knees, bringing the world into razor sharp focus. She winced, then quickly smoothed the expression on her face.

“We’ve got to do something,” Perry repeated. “The entire band’s gonna implode if we don’t handle this.” A large curled fist lightly smacked the palm of his other hand, punctuating his last few words.

Her cheeks twitched into an involuntary smile. His passion was endearing. “I’ll let you know,” she said softly, her shoulders curling inward. Sliding her phone from her pocket, she glanced at the time. Shit. It was time to get to class. She swallowed hard. She barely had the energy to walk there, never mind sit through the lecture.

“Hey,” Perry said, his voice low and soothingly warm. “You all right? Your cheeks are kinda flushed.”

Great. She inhaled through her nose, gathering her strength. “I’ve got to go.” With every ounce of energy, she pushed up from the bench. “I’ll talk to you later?”

He shrugged. “Sure thing.” He raised his coffee in a salute.

Turning, she forced herself to walk away like a normal person. Her joints protested, the ache deepening. If that was even possible. She gritted her teeth, stifling the scream rising in her throat. She was so tired—tired of being in pain, tired of trading her life for more rest. And now, with South of Forever in such a bad position, she was going to be even more tired.

* * *

Krista was in a bad mood when she finally got out of class. For one thing, it’d run fifteen minutes over. The pain in her knees had increased, as well as taken residence in her elbows and wrists. For some reason, the knuckle of her left thumb was aching, too—a hot, pulsing flare. Yet, from the outside, her body looked completely normal.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket. Stepping off to the side of the hall she was walking through, she fished it out and read the text from Poppy.

Where are you? We need to start recording. xx

The double exes were like a haphazard “LOL,” thrown in as insurance. Their sole purpose was to placate the terse, demanding tone of the other words. Krista was fluent in girl speak.

Sighing, she texted back a simple “OMW,” and resumed her trek toward the building exit. Her body protested with each step, hinges stuttering when they should have bent smoothly. By the time she got to the double doors, she’d made up her mind.

She opened the Uber app with a quick swipe and a tap, not even bothering to look at the screen. She knew her iPhone better than she knew her own body—a fact that was twice as true, since said body was constantly rebelling. She longed for the warm summer months when she’d have little pain.

Her heart whispered “Soon,” and she shuffled through the double doors and into the sunshine.


*I initially thought I wrote like 600 words, but I just checked the word count and was kind of disappointed. But something is better than nothing, right?