Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Itsy Bitsy Firefly

My apologies to the spider ...


The itsy bitsy firefly
Knew not what life’s about.

Down came Mr. A
Who tried to take her out.

In came Beau
With the dead but not alone.

So the itsy bitsy firefly
Is now in search of bones.


Sarah, Beau and T.J. ...
Showing Syd life among the dead.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Dreaming - We're not in Kansas anymore

As Syd faces the dangerous mysteries waiting for her in the mistakes of her past, she must leave the comforts of her world behind her in book two, Bone Dressing: The Dreaming. The time for best friends and midnight escapes to her hiding place, the cemetery she calls home, is over. Now she must find a way to embrace her destiny, her future … and her past.

Leaving everything she knows, Syd puts her life on the line, sailing from the shores of sanity through the rocky waters of the unknown. Little does she know the dangers awaiting her throughout the journey to the sleeping grounds of her next past life. Taken on a roller coaster ride through mysterious cultures, rogue mercenary pirates, past loves and new-found abilities, Syd must listen to her heart, she must right past wrongs.

But, how can she possibly change what she still doesn’t understand? What chance does she have to survive against an evil that has hunted her for lifetimes, much less hope to defeat it?

Help continues to come through the unlikely team of Sarah and T.J., Syd’s own personal dynamic duo. Too bad they were time-challenged, blipping on and off her radar at the worst times. If only they were front and center when she really needed them.

And Beau … when would she be able to function, to breathe, in his presence? What was her connection to him? And why couldn’t he get over himself and admit his attraction to her?

Off on a race against time, against evil-incarnate, against her own fears and passions, Syd must turn to the strength within. To the strength she gains from Bone Dressing.

Bone Dressing: The Dreaming is planned for publication in December 2011 and is the second book of seven in the Bone Dressing series. For updates, follow this blog.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First Breath

I'm in the midst of a wonderful adventure writing Bone Dressing: The Dreaming (book 2). That's one of the things I love most about writing, I feel it all, the happy, the sad and all the shiver-me-timbers in between. But, sometimes, in the midst of living, loving, working and writing, life steps in. And mine did just that, here's a taste of something a bit different from Syd ...

A breath slips slowly in ... a shiver traces its way through my body not liking the cold intrusion it brings.

I adore my life. I really do. It's a most perfectly wonderful, marvelous life and I couldn't wish for anything more.

Except when it isn't perfect. When it hurts and my hands get dirty. Or perhaps, better said, except when I let myself see the cracks instead of the whole ... The what's yet to be, instead of the already is ... The broken bits, instead of the unique perfection of this day, just the way it is ...

Another breath, just to keep the tears at bay. But with it comes a hope that makes my heart cry out in pain.

Still, the "already is" is exactly what I've always wanted, always needed, always held highest in priority. So, why am I so damn set on standing here dancing all alone in the cracks? Why is it so difficult to feel the life beneath my feet, the life breathing all around me, the life breathing ... and bleeding, within me?

Happily ever after ... sharp, cold, empty cracks ... happily ever after ... sharp, cold, empty cracks ...

Seems like such an easy choice to make. So incredibly simple. Perfectly clear.

But, the simple route is always so cluttered with all those who find themselves tempted by it ... And sometimes, the hurt feels good. Sometimes it's the hurt that speaks louder than the noise surrounding me. Telling me in no uncertain terms that this moment is real. Comforting the ache of hope with the ache of reality.

One more breath breaks in ... and I let it.

So. What next?

Nothing quite so dramatic as, "to be or not to be," as Master William would so very eloquently say. Still, perhaps no less important. Maybe even more so ... to choose happiness in this moment, today, just the way it is, or not?

I think that's one of the most difficult times to smile, when you think the day, your day, is broken. That it somehow needs fixing.

Maybe "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is more than skin deep. Maybe it rests somewhere in the soul.

I guess life is just that simple, after all. So, Mr. Kleenex box, you're fired. Feet, you're on, take me where I need to go. I have a life to live, and a love to give.

And I'm taking my very first breath of it, now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Syd: Queens & Jacks on Love and Loss and Roots and Wings

She looked so helpless, so lost, so much the little girl waiting by the window for the rain to stop, for the sun to peek through the clouds and brighten her day, set her free…

Only, there was no rain, there were no clouds, the sun ruled the sky and children were running barefoot through the grass.

He eased up behind her, slipping his arms gently around her waist, pulling the curve of her body into his, cradling her in the comfort of his warmth, his strength, his love. Instinctively he nuzzled his face into her soft hair and his special place, the tender skin of her neck, just below her ear.

“Mmm. Hey, Honey, how ya’ doin’?”

Her chin dropped slightly as she smiled a small, fleeting smile. “Good. I’m good.” It took three swallows for her to choke the words out, to give the lie room to breathe.

The strings of love drew tightly around his heart. Suddenly his own breath hung painfully in his throat, not ready to suffer the weight of his pain. “Jackie, Baby, she’s gonna be just fine. Syd’s a big girl now. She can take care of herself.” His arms tightened imperceptibly around her body. She’d never felt quite so small, never quite so fragile.

“I know. I know. It’s just that I … well, I wish I’d done more for her. I wish I could have filled their cup for her. And now it’s too late. Now, she’s gone. I guess eighteen always seemed light years away, so terribly far off. But it came so fast. Too fast. Yesterday she was just a little girl. Then I blinked, and now it’s done. She’s gone. And I’m not ready. Not yet. I’m not done.”

“Honey, you did great. Every day. The good days and the bad. You gave her love, you gave her you. No one could ask for a better Mom. And no, you didn’t fill Lily’s and Rémy’s cups. But you couldn’t, no matter how hard you tried. Those were their cups to fill, no one else’s, not even yours, no matter how much you might have liked for them to be.” She tucked her chin sideways as the tears slipped silently down her cheeks, spilling onto his chest.

His thumb stroked along her cheekbone, searching for the key to her happiness, her laughter and smiles. “But, I also watched you make your own cup inside Syd’s heart. And I watched you fill it until it was overflowing every single day she was with us. Lily and Rémy gave Syd life, they brought her into this crazy, messed up world, and they loved her as no other parents could. But you, Baby, you loved her when there was no one to love her, you loved her when her world turned dark and stormy. And you only loved her more the days she was hard to love. You gave her a love that asks for nothing in return. A love that goes beyond blood and bones and birthrights. And now, because of us, because of you, Syd’s able to go out into the world, make her own way, find her own true self. Her destiny.”

She tipped her head back, smiling through the lingering tears. My God, she was so beautiful all wrapped up in her humble, sweet, uncompromising love for a little girl left behind, alone and afraid. “I know, Quince. I know you’re right. But, I still see that defiant little ten-year-old ready to fight the whole entire world, afraid to ever love anyone again, to ever need anyone again. She still has so much to learn, there’s so much I didn’t get to show her, to explain to her. And now she’s gone. She doesn’t even know she graduated, for heaven’s sake! How will she take care of herself? Get a job? Go to college?”

He gently guided her head back onto his shoulder, turning it towards him, and smiled down into her warm brown eyes. “Jackie, there’s a time to love and a time to let go. Syd said her goodbyes on the dock that day. You know that. She’ll always be a part of us. And we’ll always be a part of her. She couldn’t cut us out of her, even if she wanted to. But children aren’t possessions, they’re … loaners, gifts you have to give back. We get to enjoy them for a time, get annoyed as hell with them for a time, love them, maybe even hate them from time to time, but there comes a day when we have to set them free. It’s a fine balance of helping give them roots to grow and wings to fly all on their own.”

“Yes. Of course, you’re right. But, knowing that doesn’t ease the pain.” A single tear traced its way down her silky skin, slipping onto her lips, then easing slowly over her chin, staining his boots with the blood of her love. “It doesn’t stop the ache, or fill the empty space in my heart. Syd’s space. Maybe I wasn’t so one-sided with my love after all. My cup aches to be filled by her. I miss her. I miss the three of us.”

“I know, Honey.” His hands moved to her shoulders, turning her into his chest. Then slowly, his hands slid gently up her throat and came to rest on her jaw, cupping it tenderly, but firmly. Lifting her chin up, he captured her eyes with his own. God, how he loved her! “Baby, I know you’re still in a state of mourning over Syd, I am too. But, we need to get to bed. It’s already ten and we’ve got a big day tomorrow. We have an appointment first thing in the morning.”

Eyes as warm as Sunday coffee blinked up at him incoherently, trustingly. That was one of the things he loved most about Jackie. Her ability to love him, to believe in him, no matter what the day held. “What are you talking about, Quince? We don’t have anything going on tomorrow. It’s not even grocery day.”

“Actually, yes, we do. 9 am sharp. Downtown. There’s a shelter there needing good homes for kids with none. I spoke with the director today. There’s a baby, a boy named Russell, who was just admitted Friday. I think he may need us almost as much as we need him.” He slid his hands down to her arms, not sure if she’d be able to remain standing all on her own.

“What?!” Quince, are you serious? A baby? A boy? When did you …? How did you …? Oh my goodness! I … I … I can’t believe this! What do you do with a boy?! Oh my God! I’ve got to go make a place for him. We’ve got to clean out Syd’s room tonight!” She pulled back from him, turning for the door, half-running in her excitement.

“Oh, no we don’t! He’s a baby for heaven sake, he’s not gonna care if it takes us a few days or a few years to get his room ready.” Jackie turned back to face him at the door, a protest at her lips. But he didn’t give her a chance to speak as he started towards her. His love, his life. “Russell’s cup will be full the minute he’s in your arms. But tonight? This night, our last baby-free night? Your sweet little ass is mine! I’m the only one who’ll be in your arms.”

She squealed, turning and running for the stairs. Smiling, he swatted her soft, round bottom as he followed close on her heels. He’d found her happy button. He’d filled her cup when no one else could. Yes, Syd was gone. And he knew there would be more tears. But he also knew they’d be okay. Syd had given them their own set of wings.

When exactly had that happened … ?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blowers of Horns and Blowers of Kisses

Some people are needy … and they’re greedy. And, really, it’s simply because they don’t know what they want, they don’t have a clue. Still, they spend all day going after it … single-mindedly ... blowing their horns at everyone around them so they can keep their foot on the gas and never have to think about where they’re going … or why. Then at the end of the day their cup is empty because they weren’t going after anything important. Funny thing is, they’re just as clueless about that as well ... their accidental life. Problem is, death is a sure thing. Shouldn’t life be?

I do know what’s important to me and I do go after it every day. I know that I want the people who fill my heart, my days and my nights with love and laughter and tears, to be happy and to have whatever it is they need. I know I want to write, I need to write.

So, I work a job that actually pays to help accommodate our family’s needs and a few wants. I put food on the table, laughter in their hearts, and kisses on their lips. I might not have as much time as what I’d like to spend on the people who live in my heart or on my writing, but at least I know at the end of the day that I have spent some time on each of them.

I bicycle to and from work whenever possible to save money, keep my body from squeaking at me, and do my little bit for the world around me. Yes, there’s no AC and it’s hot … this is Houston, after all, pushing 100 degrees or more some days. Yes, there’s no radio, no phone calls, no texting. Yes, it takes me a little longer to get home, but only a little.

And on my way, I let go of the day … the stress at work, the need to be in a different moment. I feel the wind slide around me, brushing through my hair. I hear the soft swoosh of my tires against the pavement, the birds chattering in the trees, men mowing lawns, a dog barking. The sun plays through the trees, sprinkling light around me, leading me home … and I can see them all smiling and laughing, filling the evening with hugs and kisses, the highs and lows of their day. William will hand me an ice cold margarita, ask about my writing, kiss me, and never quite stop touching me until I leave again the next morning.

My intentional life … it’s as sure a thing for me as breathing. I don’t have a big house, a fancy car or tickets to the Caribbean in my back pocket. But I’m truly happy with my life, as little as it might seem to others. For me, my cup is overflowing with all the right stuff.

So there they are in their Lexus half a block down from the intersection and I come up to the same intersection from the right on my bike. But here’s this person honking their horn at me from half a block away because they’re not willing to lift their foot and push on the brake to let me go through … because they’re so focused on pushing on that gas pedal to get to a place that they don’t even want to go.

I smile to myself, wave at them … blow them a kiss. It’s kind of crazy. Because I have a place I do want to get to … every day.

I think, even if I had a horn, I’d still blow a kiss …

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who is Syd?

Syd, as seen through the eyes of her childhood friend, Patricia:

Who is Syd? Well, she’s my best friend. She’s absolutely amazing. She’s beautiful, she’s smart, she’s strong, she’s not afraid of anything or anyone. Well, anyone except maybe herself.

I think if you asked her, she’d say no one really likes her ... that they just kind of tolerate her presence, well, everyone except me, of course. She knows I pretty much worship the ground she walks on. But, the truth is, people are just a little afraid of her. They’re intimidated by her. It’s frightening to get too close to someone like Syd, someone so ready to look life, and death for that matter, straight in the face and not blink an eye or turn away.

Syd’s just that way, though. It’s like she puts so much effort into living, that the dying just doesn’t even matter. Or the possibility of failing, either. Or anyone else’s opinion, especially if it’s not a good one. All that normal stuff everyone else spends their days and nights stewing over and worrying about, it just doesn’t even enter into Syd’s take on reality.

One of her biggest gifts is her ability to just sit down at the table and drink this moment down. She may sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it to give it a little kick, but then she just takes it in one bite at a time. And when she’s done, she just pushes her chair back, gets up from the table, and walks away. No excuses. No need for seconds. No worries about when or where her next meal will be.

Yeah, it probably sounds a little lame, but Syd’s my hero. She’s my “Life-101” mentor. That’s the me I’d like to grow up and see looking back at me out of the mirror one day.

Who is Syd? She’s my best friend ... Thank God!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

"How , Oh How, Will We Get To Sydney? Throw More Salt Water Now!" Sung to the tune of, "Where oh where did my little dog go? Where, oh where, can he be?"

Now calling all Bone Dressing Fans... Can you help keep Syd busy while I write the next book? I'm dripping wet, my keyboard's soaked in salt water, and Syd's looking for her bucket as I type!

Situation: Syd's official travel agent, Michelle, has completed Syd's itinerary. Syd and Beau will be traveling by boat through the Panama Canal en route from Houston, Texas to Sydney, Australia in book 2 of Bone Dressing. But, as you know, Syd has almost zero patience and way too much imagination!

Question: Do you have any cool, creative travel ideas Syd can stay busy dreaming about for the next few months while I wrap this book up?

Syd's call for help: "Surely, there are more creative possibilities! Michelle is driving me up the wall, and if I drown her, we'll never get to Australia! Please! This is YOUR chance to save my sanity! I need something to fill my head with while she writes the next book. I need your ideas, NOW!" Syd & Beau want to hear from you! Your comments, no matter how "far out," are welcome ...

Why Should You Care???: This is totally and completely for fun! Syd would love to hear about readers' creative ways to get from Houston to Sydney.

Are you up for the challenge??? Syd and Beau are counting on you! As am I! I'm really tired of them dousing my keyboard with salt water while they wait, by no means patiently, on yours truly to write the book!!! And while I love lap-kitties, T.J. is gettin' a little warm now that summer's bearing down on us here in Houston!

Michelle I. Brooks (Full-time lover, kisser, mom, habanero-eater, and writer; part-time cook, dancer and chauffeur; current-day travel agent for the Bone Dressing Express!)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What a Wonderful World ...

OUCH! Sorry - didn't mean to type so loudly in your ear! But, I just had to pinch myself to make sure this was real. Life is real. Things are ... crazy at the moment, a little unreal. Funny how even the good stuff, the really good stuff, can be almost as stressful as some of the bad ...

Change, even when it's for the better, can be challenging. Intriguing, exciting, invigorating, but challenging none the less. I guess that's what we're here for though - to play this funny little game called life. And sometimes we get our hands a little messy. Not the kind of messy you can reach for a bar of soap to wash off though ... No, more like when you used to color with markers instead of crayons and they'd smear ink all over the side of your hand. It would take forever to wear off. Didn't matter how much you scrubbed, it was staying put until it darn well decided to go. Then you'd wake up one day and suddenly realize your hands were clean again.

Guess that's how it is with change, I keep wanting to be able to just go wash my hands and get back to normal. To status quo. But change settles into you in its own good time. And the more you struggle with it, the longer that takes ... but no matter how long that is, you never quite get back to the normal you that you once were, because it no longer exists. You're someone new, someone a shade different from the you that you were before. Someone you have to get to know all over again.

Still, at the end of the day, each and every day, the good and the not so good, I'd have to agree with Louis Armstrong ... What a wonderful world! Don't you think so? Take a quick peek ... we could all use a free hug every now and again.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Book Trailers R Us!

Wow ... just wrapped up the book trailer for Bone Dressing, unbelievable! I still have chills creeping up and down my spine! It is exactly what I had all wrapped up in my head while I was creating Syd's world in Bone Dressing. It couldn't be any more perfect.

This is one of those times though, that I'm glad I had absolutely no idea what I was in for before I started! Oh, I knew it would take some time, some effort, some learning, some help ... but, oh my God! I had no idea just how much time, effort and help it would take to get me from where I was (knowing absolutely nothing other than I wanted to make my own book trailer for Bone Dressing) to where I am (still knowing very little, but having one pretty damn cool book trailer in my back pocket to show for it).

I also know that I absolutely, positively adore my kids and my brand spanking new husband, without whose help I couldn't have done this!

So, book trailer done. Check. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Well, time for this little puppy to get back to writing ... can't wait to have to do this all over again for book two in the Bone Dressing series!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

O, How I Love A Thursday ...

God, I love Thursdays! Always have. I can remember sitting at my desk when I was ten, listening to the birds singing their hearts out just outside the window as the teacher droned on and on ... and being really, really happy.

Mondays have a pretty bad rep, but I don't think they're so bad. Each one is a new beginning, a slow little side-step into the week, comfortable, easy ... filled with the promises of possibility. Now, Tuesdays on the other hand, I could definitely live without. They aren't the bginning, the end, or even the middle. What you did over the weekend has pretty much faded and the next one still seems ages away. Humpday Wednesdays are usually pretty good, upbeat, and by the end of the day you've got a sense of accomplishment for all you've done so far ... and the light is twinkling at the end of the tunnel.

Skipping to Fridays ... hmmm ... Fridays can be any number of things ...  frenzied and frustrating if you didn't get enough done, fun if you did, and more often than not, frantic. Saturdays are much the same as Fridays, only better. By then you've given up caring if you didn't quite finish everything on your plate and you're actually ready to let loose and have a good time. The only day that's really changed for me as I've swung through the years is Sunday. As a kid, didn't much care for them, now they're nice. Slower than all the other days, and that's really not such a bad thing. A day for relaxing, rejuvenating, walking barefoot in the park ... or on the beach ... or just around the house in your pj's.

But Thursdays. Thursdays are almost always absolutely and positively magnificent. Maybe it's because you don't really walk into them expecting anything special, they tend to be humble days. Maybe it's because you're past half-way through the week and the weekend is a bright, shining beacon calling you home. Maybe it's because they tend to be low-key, relaxed, light-hearted days without all the chaos that Fridays and Saturdays carry. Whatever the reason, I'm a "Thursday girl" for better or for worse. Will be til the day I die.

Now I'm gonna go out and wrap my arms around this one, hope yours is one huge slice of sweet, warm perfection!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Retake On Life 101

Have you ever had that feeling where you can feel the wind beneath your wings, lifting you, subjugating you, hijacking you, without your consent? You know, that feeling that you're being lead in the right direction ... but you have absolutely no idea which way your heading, much less where you're going or if you even want to go there.

That's my day today. Don't have a clue what's up. Know it's all going according to some master plan, just the way it should be. Wish to hell I knew who's plan it was so I could tell them to back the hell off!

I'm so excited about Bone Dressing and most of the beautiful, magnificent creatures in my life, but so bruised and beaten by others that I could hardly breathe tonight. I slipped out on the balcony, hoping to find ... space, peace, a bit of air to call my own. Instead, I found a perfectly beautiful, peaceful, starry night, a soft cool breeze, and strong arms pulling me up against the most magnificent, soothing, comforting chest. A love that filled my soul, spilled over the top,  and splashed my toes with tear stained laughter.

Sometimes life is perfectly wonderful. And sometimes life throws us a curve ball. And sometimes that curve ball feels like it hits us at 90 miles per hour right in the middle of our chest, stealing the breath right out of our lungs. But still ... on the other side of the clouds ... life is perfectly wonderful.

The day is done. Thank God. Tomorrow is a breath away. And it will be perfect. See you on the other side ...