A Door into Evermoor is now up on Nook and all avenues available through Smashwords!

Just an FYI: A Door into Evermoor is up on Nook and all avenues available through Smashwords premium catalog! (Kobo, Overdrive, Scribd, and a bunch of others).

I’ll leave it up until the end of the month, then take it down so I can put it up on Kindle Unlimited.

45 thoughts on “A Door into Evermoor is now up on Nook and all avenues available through Smashwords!

      • I’ll tell you why I say this. I unpublished with one place that did multi places. After closing my account and waiting a month, I still was finding it up. So, not just blowing smoke…I literally could have gone Kindle Select, but after looking got nervous. I would suggest putting up clean e-books (never published) to go Select. I literally had a horrible time to get the old copies down. It was horrible and I decided to go with Amazon and Smashwords as I couldn’t trust it was totally down. Not just saying it to cause issues. Saying it because I had issues. If I decided to go Amazon Kindle Select, I’d do it before doing other stuff and take it off Kindle. Hope this makes sense and helps.

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  1. If I would have known this was going to be available on nook or kobo, I would have waited a few days to purchase this, lol! That’s my personal issue though… that’s awesome, and I hope your stuff continues to be available on more platforms 😊

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    • Sorry—due to the low sales on those, I only publish on them if someone specifically requests it, then I leave it up for a month and take it down so I can go Kindle Unlimited. Just let me know if you’re interested in another platform when I release a new book, and I’ll happily accommodate! 🙂

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      • I understand! It’s for me just one of those things where I’m not trying to be petty, but if an organization that I’m spending that kind of money at is going to accuse me of something I didn’t do (writing reviews for compensation), and I feel like I didn’t cross into the zombie b**** wasteland when I challenged them on it, and one of their supervisors tells me initially if they said I did it then I did it after I get upset because they tell me they’re not going to give me any information or respond to me if I asked them about it again (and literally my life at the time was so boring it would have been super easy for me to prove that I wasn’t)… I feel like if they can’t have a process in place that allows for somebody to challenge them and prove what’s going on, and if they’re going to tell someone who’s spending their own money that they’re not going to respond to them if they challenge them, I feel like they don’t deserve *my* money. But I will occasionally break down and purchase something if there is an artist I want to support that only uses that platform. I understand that due to the size of that platform it is one of the smarter places for an independent publisher to put their stuff. If I am the only one who would want to see something on one of the other platforms, I wouldn’t expect you to go out of your way for me, because I don’t know if you’re having to pay fees or other things to get it up on those platforms and I am not so petty about what happened as to insist that you do that just for me. But I appreciate what you said about it…😊 Ari

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      • Yep, I understand—I was in the military. As a small cog in a big machine, my problems didn’t matter as long as the gears kept turning. I definitely appreciate the support, but I’m having fun regardless, so my main hope is that I pass some of that onto you through a good read. At the same time, no worries if you don’t finish or move on to another book. I’m flattered that you gave my stuff a try in the first place! 😊

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      • I am working my way through, though definitely at slower pace than I would have at a point in my life where I had less going on (lots of holidays, lots of appointments, lots of therapy the next two months). I am at the part of the book where Jon has encountered the albino looking elves (I really can appreciate the distinction you made there, because in traditional D&D and fantasy realms, historically the evil elves were often given dark skin which is actually quite racist) and has just typed out that he wants to be carefree. I personally have been having one of those fabulously rare weeks where I’ve had more opportunities to get out of my proverbial cage and do things with other people, happiness factor is really high about that, but reading time is definitely lower. I think you have some creative ideas… have a great day 😊

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      • Interesting you bring that up! You probably already noticed, but I wanted to make Evermoor (and the whole story) racially inclusive, but I didn’t want it to be a main plot point; I just wanted it to have a solid rationale and an organic part of the story. If younger people read this, I want there to be an unquestioned sense of inclusiveness. (Growing up Asian in Wisconsin and in the nineties, it kind of sucked to think I was unattractive just because of race; I didn’t realize I looked good until my early thirties. I actually wanted Jon to be full Asian, but it was hard to reconcile that with his last name—Dough—which has a lot of symbolic weight with the whole unidentified dead body thing, so I decided to write that his mother’s genes were stronger to the point where he could easily pass as full Asian) The Elves were kind of an accident, though—I didn’t intend to make them a counterpoint against Dark Elves/Drow. I didn’t realize there was a racial component to them until I read an article a couple days ago (months after I wrote that scene) talking about Drizzt and how even though he was black, he was the only good one out of an entire race. Kind of shocking what you accept as a kid—I read tons of Drizzt and he was probably my favorite character, but even though I was acutely aware of racial misrepresentation in the media, I never once questioned if his storylines were racist. It’s weird when something completely obvious is brought to your attention, but you haven’t questioned it your whole life.

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      • And, just briefly, in regards to Amazon…as a business of that kind, they are always optional to the customer. It behooves any business in that position to remember that. I used to work for Service Merchandise along time ago (Service who you say? They were once a big and flourishing company that is now completely buried under water). One of the lessons the business world teaches you is that what once was massive and thought to be insinkable can eventually strike a customer service iceberg if they are not careful and how they handle all of those little cogs. The wealth of a billionaire is built up one cog at a time, and it can vanish that way too…

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      • That’s funny, because I had such a book-crush on Drizzt when I was younger (I first started reading R.A. Salvatore when I was in sixth grade, so that feels like forever ago). I am sorry, and I probably don’t even have the right words for the experiences that you had. There’s a lot of internalized racism, patriarchy, other things that can be insidious and unrecognized by the impacted group. This is not something I publicly discuss generally, and only a few close friends and I have really ever had this discussion, it is nothing I have ever claimed in terms of applications, census, etc, though it is not something I am ashamed of. My siblings and I each have a certain amount of indigenous/native ancestry, though only my sister and I had the same father. You could tell for both my brother and my sister, though my brother had a higher percentage because his dad was half. For me, I look so freaking pasty pale I practically glow in the dark. And I want to be clear, ancestry is not the same as tribal affiliation, and I have none, and have never sought that. I wasn’t even told about it until I was in elementary school.

        Life is a sword that people can try to slit you apart on. My brother never wanted anything to do with his father, and since I feel the same about my dad , you know, when we were younger, we never talked about it. People can judge you either way, for not wanting to know, for not disclosing, for looking so damn white…there’s no end of ways I feel like people can be judgmental. At this point in my life, I am in a place where my life is tied to Arizona and that part of my blood line is not from one of the local tribes, so it’s a moot point as far as I’m concerned. i was raised white, I look white…but for some people, the blood I have does matter. And it shouldn’t. But I see little things like how members of other minority groups treat me with so much more kindness when they see me and my son together (he’s Mexican), and how sometimes other white people are a wee bit nastier when they see us together, and I reflect on my background, and the backgrounds of people I know, and I just feel sad. And then you add the component of religious groups saying that darker skin is a mark of being cursed for sin…and I am at an even further loss. My love is and always will be color and gender blind, and to me, it just feels like I don’t know why we as humans, have created so much atrocity and pain around the appearance of our skin. It has been misused and abused in a fight for resources and supremacy, and my heart just breaks.

        Again, I am sorry that was your experience. Our society can be tough on most people when it comes to feeling attractive or not. I was always told I had a pretty face, but my large frame and busty barmaid physique has been out of vogue for many decades…so I felt deeply criticized in other areas and that is a hard feeling. Attractiveness fades, and though I am aging well thanks to genetics, I am aging still and for me personally, I just want someone to value me for something other than how pretty they think I am because that is going to be the most lasting part of me. Sorry for the long response, sometimes I just do that…wordy girl and all. Take good care of yourself!

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      • No worries—gotta get those thoughts out!

        Don’t feel sorry for any of my past stuff—all of it turned out great for me! Took a little while for the women to come around, but that was more my mentality than any real racism, in most cases. Nowadays, the only racism I experience is hilarious and welcome. By that I mean that every so often, I’ll sleep with a lady and she’ll give my girthy, upcurved nether parts a disbelieving stare and say something along the lines of, “You are NOT Asian.” And I. LOVE IT. 🤣 Still—there’s a reason I live in CA and not in the south or midwest.

        That part about your son, though…as much bullying as I experienced as a kid, it always weirds me out when people are racist to others’ faces. Up close and personal is something way different, and at that age, it’s especially impactful.

        I agree—everyone has something that messes with them, and while I’m not a judgy, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstrap type, I do think that at some point it is up to me to focus on the stuff I like rather than the stuff I don’t. But it’s fine if others aren’t with me on that—I like to give benefit of the doubt and help anyone that asks, but I found it’s impossible to help someone who truly doesn’t want to be helped, no matter how much pain they’re in. Everything is just a temporary, unsatisfying fix until they truly decide they want to move into a different space. That’s my experience with myself and my friends, at least.

        I don’t know about the bustier, thicker ladies being out of vogue—seems like they’re coming into vogue, if anything. But definitely still a lot of hate out there.

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      • Thank you for, again, for being so gracious about my wordiness!!! I figure if I try and answer now, when I’m leaving in a few minutes for a dance class with a friend, I might be less likely to ramble 😉 Maybe.

        So yeah, people can say some really hurtful and offensive things, especially as regards to Tony’s disabilities. And oh my gosh, some Karens in the wild have gotten ugly with a certain member of our therapy team, which has always been a diverse group. I used to need a punching bag on a regular basis, because the things people would say to our Tony and me in his presence would make me oh so very angry. I do a lot better at blowing it off now. And I don’t know how much he internalizes the racist stuff at this point…I know he’s much more aware and much smarter than most people realize, but he absolutely does not want to communicate about anything other than his needs or wants right now. The only thing I can do is try to be a safe space for him.

        And yes, you can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves, I have discovered that also. And, in regards to society’s views on the curvy girls, you are right that currently that is starting to change a bit. But during my formative years, it really wasn’t so. And, I don’t want to trauma dump, but sometimes life can be a real bitch and some of my experiences did a lot of damage, to the point that I had subzero confidence in my appearance by the time I hit my late teens. It took a lot of years, healing, and work to get to the point where I am right now, where I feel comfortable and confident with me and all the aspects of my sexuality. I wish I had that when I was younger, but you know, it’s great to have it now and I can’t go back to then and fix me and differently than I did. So…it is what is.
        Wishing you every fabulousness in life and today… 🙂 Ari

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      • “Karens in the wild” 🤣 Priceless!

        I too, have been maddened by the infuriating Karen superpower that keeps me up in bed, seething with anger, but I can’t imagine how pissed I would be if they were Karen-ing at one of my children. Punching bag seems like a must-have!

        I feel for you—it can definitely take a toll on self-worth if people disapprove of or turn their noses up at your appearance. I’m glad you were able to get some reconciliation.

        Honestly, dance class sounds better than the punching bag! During one of my injuries, I started learning hip-hop dancing off YouTube, but I had to start from scratch—I had no idea what a snare was, or what it meant to groove, so every one of my moves was stiff and flavorless. Some day I’ll get back to it; I would love to dance like Techno Viking or BTS, LOL!

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      • I was cracking up when I saw your commentary about being stiff. I had the same conversation with my friend, T, when we left that class yesterday. She asked me if I’d be up to going with her, and I told her I’m always down to make a fool of myself in public. But, the dirtylicious dance class she took me to was using hip hop moves, and I’ve never danced that style before, the choreography was fast paced, and I had to pay attention to making sure my right foot was always placing well because my Achilles tendon on that side has to be treated carefully because of my birth defect. So I modified a couple of the moves because I wasn’t familiar enough with them to pull them off and make sure I didn’t injure my tendon. So I definitely felt like a robot at points, more than having a smooth feel to my movements that would have looked better for the dancing. I think that sort of thing comes with practice for most people…

        It can be intimidating I think, especially when you look at the other people around you. There were at least 3 instructors from that program in the class itself as participants, so…I’m grateful our instructor said we should look at the people around us as inspiration and not competition, but I had a blast and that is all that matters. I agree a dance class is way more fun than a punching bag!!!

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      • Nice! Yeah, imo dancing is the exercise that’s most geared toward fun.

        I tried going to a class before, but it was basically just monkey see, monkey do. The instructor would do it slow, we’d follow, then it’d be to a count, then to music. Then it’d be another mini-sequence, and then we’d eventually start chaining the mini-sequences together into a full sequence.

        But I didn’t know you had to bounce or hit with each snare—they really should teach that in beginner’s class, dammit! I felt like I was doing some kind of cult movement until I learned those concepts on youtube, lol!

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      • Sometimes fun is relative I think…I like to hula hoop a lot also, and I find hiking fun, but I agree dance is a joyful thing! And yeah, a lot of classes that are geared towards fitness, and not lessons per se, don’t go over some very necessary basics. So I think YouTube or other videos produced by someone who knows what they are doing can be super helpful!

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      • I love hula hooping! But I couldn’t sustain the motion when I was a kid, and because my brother and sister would laugh and tease me for it, I moved on to other things… But I as an adult who decided she did not want to be defeated by anything in her life, decided to watch some YouTube videos and practice my ass off. And I grew to love it! I hula hoop almost everyday, and I read books or practice one of the languages I’m trying to be better at on Duolingo, etc while I’m doing it… Almost every moment in my world is multitasked… Have a fabulous day 😊

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      • Same with me for dancing. I grew up around a bunch of insecure guys who would laugh and shoot down the suggestion that we should learn how to dance (even if I said girls would like it). Now it’s like “Why not?” Gotta have fun while you can! 🙂

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      • Thank you for taking the time to give such a thoughtful and thought provoking answer to my question. My wordy girl heart just outgrinched the Grinch growth zone that someone actually took the time to be that wordy in response to something I asked 😀 Thank you for taking that time out of your morning, I really appreciate it.

        Firstly, while you are very welcome on the review, I didn’t write it to be thanked. I don’t ever do reviews upon requests. Especially not for friends (though if I knew the friend was open to a full and honest critique I might), because that can complicated. I had to write up (as in a disciplinary thing) a friend whose parties I used to bartend for because she broke a company policy (this was more than a couple decades ago) and I had to be fair to everyone, and technically I was her supervisor there. She just turned and looked at me and said, “but cuddlebunny, I thought we were friends…” No, we weren’t intimate- the nickname is a long story. But it taught me a valuable lesson. Sometimes when you have to be critical about something, people you are friends with can expect an unfair advantage that comes with the privilege of passing over things that shouldn’t be because of their relationship with you. And so can people who give you free things to review in return for your “honest opinion.” I have had people email me requests that included the verbiage for exactly what they thought those opinions should be, and that’s never going to be a gig I take up.

        And, I’m glad even part of it made you laugh. She whose bodacious D cups overflow can’t ever skip that particular undergarment if she has to do any running…it’s past the point of uncomfortable, merging into the downright painful running without the proper support. And I have to run after Tony multiple times a day, though he’s running off less than he used to.

        Thank you for sharing your perspective. There was a lot of depth there, and I may want to ponder what you said more before I answer with any follow up questions. I promise I am not going to debate you, I am just curious, but I have a busy stretch I am heading into, and I want to do more processing on what you said. And, I do know what DMT is, though I have no personal experience with it. I recognized though, the influence of that type of experience when it came to the episode with Crazy Cal. I appreciate that you can recognize the value of using “at least” to try and find something positive to focus on. Wishing you a fabulous day! 🙂

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    • True, My philosophy about these things is that I may be 45, but I am not dead yet, and if it sounds fun to me, I am going to try it…

      If I may change the subject and ask a question about something. I am curious to hear a few more insights as to what your views are when it comes to the “at least” philosophy in handling some of life’s uglier realities. The way that is written in your most recent book gives the feel that it is your voice speaking through the action and the character. For me personally, I find the “at least” game to be a useful mind trick when I’m emotionally hemorrhaging out from one too many bad things happening at once…it helps me focus on anything positive I can find, which to quote Jon briefly, keeps me from turning into a “cynical dickhead.” Sometimes life just doesn’t play nice, and I’d rather not try to crown myself Queen of the bad luck over the land of she who suffers most…so it helps me see the positives when I’m feeling like maybe there aren’t any. But I get the sense that you might feel differently, so I was just curious because I always like to hear other people’s perspectives… This isn’t something I’m trying to be proven right on, just interested in the differences in thought.

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      • Before I answer, thank you Thank You THANK YOU for the review! LOLed at “these girls don’t go anywhere without a holster.” 🤣

        This is a somewhat convoluted one. But long story short, I think the base of my philosophy comes from two things: the fact that I worked much, MUCH harder than people more talented than me who surpassed me anyways, and my desire for life to have an overall fairness to it.

        After years in the military (and a meditation cult which had me meditating an hour or two a day to increase my “power” so good stuff could happen to me), I tried drugs for the first time (early thirties) with the sole purpose of smoking DMT, which my vet buddy said I could get from a safe source. (smoked DMT, if you don’t know, is reputable for being short, never giving a bad trip, and having the strongest ego-dissolution/God-merging “breakthrough” experience out of all drugs). That allowed me to finish Echo, which—no spoilers—but basically ends with the summation that we are all love, laughter and dreams.

        After I got out out of college, I continued the ruthless emphasis on logic and discipline; I busted my ass trying to be a worker/writer, (I would wake up at 2:45am, work out, write, work, sleep, repeat). Obviously, this began to wear on me.

        My vet buddy during this time sends me some law of attraction stuff, which I scoffed at, but gave a listen to because it was my buddy. As time passed, I realized the one thing I had never tried was a consistent focus on positivity.

        I shifted from my vet buddy’s LOA (law of attraction) recommendation over to Esther Hicks, who, though she claims to channel spirits, has pretty much all her material up for free on youtube (which she jokes about) and also comments on how redundant she is (she jokes you can learn everything by listening to one or two videos, you don’t need to pay a few hundred to go on one of her cruises and see her in person).

        Most importantly, she frames LOA so that it doesn’t imply victim-blaming (in my opinion) and in a way that doesn’t constantly require you to focus on the positive, but on lack of resistance to the entirety of your being. Her contention is that we came as pieces of a creative omnipotence so that we could enjoy the narrative of limitation (this is reflected in other philosophies—the only parameter omnipotence lacks is limitation, so it can’t create a story because a story requires time and space but a god-analogue is everywhere and past present and future all at once) and create unexpected plots within our own stories (thanks to the parameters given by limitation).

        Unpleasant experiences are labeled “contrast” in her paradigm (contrast between the entirety of self and the limited self) which serves as clarification for what kind of narrative we wish to manifest. We can manifest unpleasant narratives by continuing to focus on contrast, but once we die, we get sucked back into Source (her name for God, which comes with too many sticky connotations for her preference) and sink back into bliss/omnipotence/whatever you want to call it. There’s a few more intricacies to this (basically, our emotions are indicators as to what kind of manifestations we are summoning, but the buffer of time gives us plenty of time to clarify what we want). I eventually made my decision to adopt this philosophy because of personal anecdotes: despite being overall negative and way too uptight, good things seemed to happen when I just relaxed and stopped caring. (I have experienced some good fortune 20 years earlier than I had initially planned, turning work into a choice and not a requirement) I didn’t even have to be positive—I could just be chill. (Which is in line with her “lack of resistance”). Once again anecdotal, but as I continued to focus on being positive—or being apathetic, if that felt forced—better and better stuff happened to me. One thing I love about her philosophy is that she says you don’t need to know anything about it for it to work; if you pay attention to your “inner guidance” (basically being emotionally aware) then things will turn out well. She also says in the greater context, you can never get it wrong and you can never get it done (meaning contrast just provides greater desire and clarification, which is held in escrow until you relax resistance, and it also means creation is ever-expanding into new desires and iterations). I get great peace from that as well; there is no static “perfection,” I simply enjoy the moment, or—if i’m feeling resistance—reach for whatever thought gives me the feeling of relief (reach for anger when I’m afraid, reach for revenge/boredom/hate/frustration/apathy when I’m angry, etc.)

        I also began to question why I exist. Did I (or anyone else) come here to pay the price or fill out some abstract checklist before I could finally enjoy myself (which might not even be scheduled for this life in judeo-christian religions) or did I come here to revel in weirdness and adventure and create my experience in unexpected and spontaneous ways during my brief time here?

        Long story short, my anecdotal experiences have guided me to this thought process, along with my desire for everyone to have an equal ability to create their own narrative in a no-lose game. (Otherwise it is so damn depressing!) Hope that wasn’t too wordy! 🙂

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      • Also, as far as “the spell of At Least:” I understand that for many people, it can help them stay positive, and I think that’s great. It’s just that in Jon’s mind, it doesn’t have a positive connotation at all, especially when he’s caught in the Trance.

        Personally, I don’t have anything against someone using gratitude (although for me I would rather appreciate things, as gratitude is more conditional; you are grateful FOR something, where I can just appreciate the blue sky or my hot coffee, it’s the difference between justification and visceral focus). Whatever makes you feel positive and empowered is awesome, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just with Jon, it comes with negativity and the eventual feeling of being trapped and powerless. Hope that explains it better. 🙂

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      • Initially, I misread the “a few more insights as to what your views are when it comes to the ‘at least’ philosophy” to just ‘”a few more insights as to what your views are.” Sorry for the giant info dump! 😅

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  2. Ok, I’m just going to call this part 2 of my earlier response, which ended up posting above my question that you responded to…got to inadvertently contribute to blogging chaos when I can 😉 And, I’m going to try not to word bomb you in return…and I may fail abysmally (so apologies up front). First of all, you don’t need to apologize for what you consider to be an info dump. I find it to be a fascinating conversation. I don’t have an official answer to what happens when we die that I accept as having the hallmarks of irrevocable truth, so all I feel that I can do with integrity is sit and listen in non-judgement to the views of others. She who does not have an answer she 100% knows is true should never try to lead someone down a path she only thinks might be truth. I appreciate you sharing your views, I find much to contemplate in them!

    I am going to tell you something I believe. Hard work can trump any amount of innate talent, especially if it is fallow or even squandered. My mother had an IQ of 169, officially. I got regaled with stories of how important such intelligence was and how much better anybody was who had it as I was growing up…and she made a train wreck of a lot of things. All of her relationships were abusive. I’m not even going to drag you down the road of what it was like for me growing up. And sometimes, there are people with amazing gifts that are never really given an opportunity to actualize them because of their circumstances and status within their culture or community. Life often isn’t fair. I am one who would always like it to be fair…but that’s not how it goes.

    I like your emphasis on the difference between being grateful for something and appreciating it. I can appreciate a lot of things, but I also do like to be grateful for them. But appreciation is often on a more primal level, where I just feel the joy of being present in a moment of life that has enveloped me in so much beauty. Color in particular is always something that I respond heavily to, I see so many minute variations in color that being in nature is often a feast of bliss.

    I can understand to a certain extent being trapped and feeling powerless, as Jon did in that spell. I had this conversation a bit with another blogger. I have so much in my life to be thankful for, and I know that I do. In so many ways, the life I have now is not one I could have imagined when I was just trying to make it to 18. But I also never imagined having a kiddo with such profound disabilities, and it wasn’t a position I expected to be in. I sacrifice every day what I would want for some personal dreams so that I can do what I think is right, the thing that allows me to feel whole on the inside, because my heart cannot put him in a facility so that I can be free to see if I can be just a little bit smarter than Icarus while trying to manifest my dreams at this point in my life. My personal dreams would become a poisoning inner death if I did that. I know some day he may need a facility (and my tender heart flinches away and can barely even look at that thought because I know how bad those places can be and he is so innocent on the inside), and some day I will become too old to provide everything he needs. But I look into his eyes and I see how happy he is and I think, you know, it is a great thing to bring love and joy into someone else’s world. And I try to reimagine my dreams into something smaller that will fit in my current life. And I just don’t know what that looks like yet, and some moments, I feel that powerlessness. It comes I think to all of us who have a loved one who is suffering in ways we cannot fix.

    I decided not to pepper you with any follow up questions, unless you feel like there was something else you wanted to add. I am choosing to just listen to what you wrote, and think about it for now. Again, I am honored you took the time to share all of that with me.

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    • I have held very much the same views as you at a different point in life, and I greatly respect them, especially since they come from personal experience. That to me indicates you aren’t trying to be anyone other than yourself, which is where progress happens. I recently heard that we view our experiences autobiographically, and I think that’s accurate.

      My take on where are differences meet is that we have to do what resonates with us. If your belief and faith lies in hard work, I think it’s admirable and genuine to work hard and be proud of it. I also think that you are right to engage in actions and beliefs that allow you to hold your head up high and see yourself as a good person.

      I don’t mean to condemn or judge with Jon’s point of view or the implied difference between our beliefs (you probably already knew that, but just want to make it clear on such a weighty subject). My entire focus for awhile was cobbling together a portfolio of rental properties so I could support my mom in retirement, because there was no way in hell my flighty brother was going to do it. She too, sacrificed greatly to raise me in the US when my dad left early. Her own family turned against her when she needed them most, which, somehow, she let go of and made amends with them. I was willing to grind myself into the dust to make sure I was able to help her.

      Thanks for not taking offense with my point of view! I know with this kind of thing, judgment can fly fast and furious, so I was a little surprised when you asked for an insight into my perspective, then I mentally kicked myself when I reread your request and it was specifically an insight into my perspective regarding Jon’s view of the at least thing. Once again, I believe in merging with any train of thought that gives you relief and hopefully moves you toward joy.

      Jon’s thought process in the trance parallels a victim of abuse in that he rationalizes himself into staying in a situation that isn’t good for him. I have real-life friends who are a bit closer (though not as dramatic) in example to Jon. They continually tell me what they’d like to do (unlike you or past me, they have no obligations that would hold them back from acting on their dreams) but things don’t change, and then they feel bad about it. It used to frustrate me at first, but then I realized my personal quest to help them only works when the folks I was trying to help wanted to be helped. My door is always open, I always try and give the benefit of the doubt (already have some plans for charity on the off-chance I make lots of money, because given my simple lifestyle, I would fast reach a point where I would just be hoarding it and engaging in scarcity mentality despite being wealthy), but for a while I was weirded out because I actually pissed friends off by continually trying to assist them. Come to find out, they would prefer the comfort of the familiar over the fulfillment of expansion (which, to be clear, is not at all the case with you from what I’ve read). I made my peace with their choice by realizing it’s not a bad thing! Sometimes, people have to talk about something for a while before they do it. Sometimes, they just like talking about it, which is fine as well. I’ve dithered and held myself back at certain points in my life, so my judgment in those situations was hypocritical, I later realized.

      Anyways, even though it’s totally fine that they use “at least” to stay where they are and tread water, that doesn’t sound like that’s the case with you. I know what obligation feels like from family and military, and in your case, it’s even heavier, as none of my experiences compare with the level of care and duty when it comes to a parent raising a child; you have all the power, and they’re still trying to find theirs.

      Jon is in a completely different situation, and he’s facing the choice of using “at least” to keep himself from moving toward fulfillment. Even though it’s fine from an outsider’s perspective, he is realizing that it’s not at all what he wants, so it really hurts him.

      I’m being redundant, but I feel my next point really needs to be hammered in: just because Jon and I have run afoul of bad examples of “at least” doesn’t mean you are doing the same. It sounds like it’s doing you good, and that’s what matters!

      Liked by 1 person

      • At this point, I don’t have time or energy to be anybody but myself. Anybody else who wants me to be anything different isn’t having to live my life, and I’ve given up far too much space for those considerations when it comes to the past. Even when I’m coming across a wee bit crazy, that’s just how it is…I’m just an occasionally messy person whose heart is almost always in the right place trying to do the best she can.

        And, you know, I understand how fast judgement can fly. I’ve had plenty of it flung my way. I’m actually pretty hard to offend, and even if someone does manage to succeed, if they apologize and make things right with me in a manner I consider actually addresses the issue, I’m a believer in moving on unless the person becomes a repeat offender or crosses one of my safety lines. When I was a child, I had no choice in some things, but as a grown woman, I am not willing to stay in any situation that is unsafe for me or my children. So truly, I wasn’t offended by what you said. It was all said in a respectful manner, and I don’t need people to think exactly like me in order to have a discussion with them. In fact, I actually really like it when someone has a different perspective, because it gives me something to listen to and possibly learn from. If I just talk to people who echo me in every respect…well, that’s kind of what group think looks like, and it doesn’t generally lead to the best outcomes.

        I appreciate your explanations into what shaped Jon’s view of the situation. You know, when I was younger I really wanted someone to save me from my circumstances. I grew into a woman who learned she could save herself. But I remember thinking I was going to be that person who reached out and tried to help people…it was a real shock to my system and way of thinking the first time I had a friend show up on my doorstep after being hit by their significant other and this person didn’t want any help to leave. I know my mom never wanted to leave, so I should have recognized it as being that way with people. But I just thought, hey, if they have someone they are comfortable with trying to help them they will want that…nope. It is a true thing that until a person wants to help themselves they can’t really be helped.

        I think that is a beautiful thing that you have that relationship with your mom and that you have been able to do that for her. I too have run afoul of bad examples of “at least,” and I thank you for recognizing that I am not trying to use it in the same way. Again, I really appreciate the time that you have given in communicating with me on this. I have to get going for now, but again, thank you. I do appreciate that you made that time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely! And even though it’s good for the plot, I get it that at the heart of Jon (and to be honest, my older self’s) view on suburbia and the corporate world, there’s a lot of naivete and implied judgment, whether he means it or not. For awhile, I was stuck in similar positions to what he dreads, and obviously it’s not as clear cut as just follow your dreams and run off into a fantasy land.

        The irony is that the responsibility he’s facing now is a billion times heavier; he went from the prospect of a first world slog to being the savior of all Evermoor. At least he got the girl, lol!

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      • This is just something to consider from those of us who live in the land of suburbia😂…just because he gets the girl doesn’t make it easy or ensure he keeps the girl. I have been married over 18 years now. I’m not a believer in automatic happily ever after…the weight of a world can put a lot of stress on a relationship. It can take an intensive amount of work to keep a relationship going in difficult or stressful circumstances…I understand the YA genre in general comes with happy endings. But perhaps Jon’s path might be bumpier at points… because in real life, it’s not always as easy after the initial phase of the romance. Just my thoughts, feel free to ignore them, it won’t offend me 🙂

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      • It definitely gets bumpy for Jon (even though he’s the hero, I felt his background allowed me to write him as the traditionally jealous damsel in distress in many instances, whereas his gf gets to be the action hero badass—sometimes I think of him as the helpless love interest in Temple of Doom, while his gf is Indy) but a lot of it in his head, at least until the end. I have a pretty good idea of how to finish the series, and no spoilers, but I believe in a painful middle and a happy ending, like you said. I generally dislike stories where where the hero gets screwed and their only takeaway is a bittersweet lesson.

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      • Oh, I was also married for ten years as well. By the end, me and the wife were basically roommates. I think my preferences for a relationship now are an independent lady who would have enough hobbies where she wouldn’t feel threatened by mine, probably separate beds (maybe even separate houses right next to each other) and DEFINITELY separate bathrooms, LOL!

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      • One of the things I loved about your book is that dynamic where you created such a strong female character. When I was dating my husband, a med school student walked up to us as we were holding hands and said “you’re a better man than I am. If I were dating her, I’d be curled up in a fetal position.” Our society hasn’t historically valued strong women, hasn’t celebrated women for intelligence, and tends to paint an assertive woman as pushy and a bitch. I was never flattered to be told I had a pair of brass ones, because I have never been trying to be a man and I don’t want to be compared to one anatomically to describe my behaviors. And, it’s a hard thing to become roommates with your spouse, that’s all I am going to say there. Separate bedrooms are an undervalued thing, in my opinion. It’s hard on someone easily woken up by noises to share a bedroom, and many people want that to feel fulfilled in a relationship. I hope you are able to find what you are looking for there…

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      • Thank you! Doubt it though—being a Man Whore is far too enjoyable! 🤣

        Since I’m ultimately writing through my own guy-shaped lens, I most likely will always see more nuance on the male side of things (I don’t want to overreach and make things fake or pandering—I doubt I could pull off a novel through first person female), but I like to try and be as inclusive as possible while preserving the flow and excitement of the story. Originally, when the book was just a vague concept in my head, I had been envisioning scenes with just Jon and Ren, so for a long time I assumed it was going to be a buddy-cop fantasy with all the contrast and humor arising from Ren’s sour-faced badassedness versus Jon’s charming ineptitude. Then I decided to make Gyrax more consistent, and I also wanted a love interest for Jon who could hold her own against the rest of the party, so she’d obviously be able to kick his ass…etcetera etcetera. It made for a great opportunity to turn the damsel in distress stuff on its head. (Can’t remember, but I think in the super early concept stages, Ren and Jon were supposed to go back to earth, not Erany).

        Also, it gave me an excuse to throw in a dramatic kiss. I’m a giant fan of kissing (to the point where I really wouldn’t be interested in sex without it), so in all my stories thus far I’ve included a Big Moment Kiss where everything’s going haywire and the kiss signals some kind of resolution or positive turn of events. Even Echo has one in book 3, LOL!

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      • Well, I will be interested to see what you do with the rest of the series! And as that is the case, have fun being a man whore🤣🤣🤣🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      • And, big moment kisses are nice and all, but sometimes the kiss *is* the moment, and all the moment should be. Even in books. Just my opinion… feel free to ignore it as you like 😜

        Liked by 1 person

      • I get it. But I’m a chronic “escalator” (meaning I like to try and push the bounds of concept and drama as much as I can) so I try and throw everything in and the kitchen sink, if it doesn’t disrupt the flow! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • It sounds like a woman would need to live in fear of your sheets, that for sure 😱💀👻🤣 And, that is one of the great things about writing. You can do it just to please yourself if you like. Happy writing to you 😊 Ari

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