Two Hearts: Beyond Control

Beyond Control Hearts

I am so excited!

My debut novel is back from my editor and ALMOST ready to share with the world!

Two Hearts: Beyond Control is set to release in October. It is the first book in the Two Hearts Trilogy that I’ve been working on . . . forever.

Okay, maybe not quite that long. But I’ve put in a LOT of hard work, and we are only two short months away from seeing my dream come true!

So far, I am getting GREAT responses from early readers, and I can’t wait to share this sexy story with everyone!

In the meantime, here’s a little tease of what’s to come . . .

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Two Hearts: Beyond Control

Danielle DeLaney will do whatever it takes to reclaim the heart of the only man she’s ever loved.

Her marriage has gone stale, her husband barely notices her, and her boring sex life . . . well, let’s just say that’s about to change.

Armed with a new attitude, some sexy lingerie, and a few special surprises for Will, Danni has a plan to spice things up in the bedroom—or whatever room they happen to be in—and discover the soul-searing passion she’s always longed for.

Of course, things never go as planned.

Will’s erratic behavior and lack of cooperation challenge Danni at every turn, leaving her frustrated and alone . . . until she meets Nico. Tall, dark and sinfully sexy, his playful charm is impossible to resist.

Determined to honor her commitment to Will—that promise she made to be faithful—Danni attempts to deny her uncontrollable attraction to Nico. But his persuasive powers and sudden presence in every aspect of her life can only lead to trouble.

The harder Danni fights to save her marriage, the more Will seems to push her away, and the deeper she falls under Nico’s addictive spell.

Torn between the love of her life and the man of her dreams, Danni struggles to make a choice she can live with . . . despite what it means giving up.

When it comes to love and affairs of the heart, some things are Beyond Control.

 

black-heart-trio-th  © CJ Andrews, Daydreamer Press, 2016. All rights reserved.
Interested in being a Beta Reader? Send me a message! (limited spaces available)

 

Who’s Afraid of the Big Blank Page

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We’ve all been there before. Whether writing a novel, a report, a blog post, or a menu for the week when you don’t feel like cooking. You find yourself staring at the dreaded blank page. The one that’s supposed to capture your brilliant thoughts and ideas as they flow from your fingertips.

The curser sits there, waiting impatiently . . . blinking  . . . blinking . . . still freakin’ blinking. You’re sure it’s laughing at you. Mocking you.

~ Okay, maybe that’s just me. ~

My point is, sometimes the words don’t come. At all. And you begin to wonder if you’ll ever finish your project. Reach your goal.

When that happens, you have two options:

1-You can give up and tell yourself you just don’t have what it takes—which can be a very tempting option at times.

2-Or, you can dig deep and push through, doing whatever it takes to make it to the end.

If you’re wondering which path I chose, you need to get to know me better . . . and I look forward to that.

Failure is my greatest fear, and it’s never an acceptable option. So I’m fortunate to have people around me who won’t let me settle for being less than I can be. Won’t let me give up on my dreams.

I’ve been quiet for a while—too long—but that’s what it took for me to focus solely on my goal and accomplish what I set out to do when I began this crazy journey as a writer. With the amazing support and encouragement of my family, I’ve been able to chase down my dream and turn it into a reality.

Which means, I have exciting news to share! 

I am very thrilled and proud to announce that my debut novel, Two Hearts: Beyond Control, is (finally) with my editor and is planned for release in October.

So what’s next? Plenty of hard work!

While my editor performs her magic, helping me put the last coat of polish on my manuscript, I’m tackling two very important aspects of my book—the cover and the blurb. Sounds easy enough, right?

*sigh* Wrong.

After a week of wrestling with these two beasts, I’ve decided that writing my book may have been the easy part. At least it’s all fun, no matter how big the challenge, because I’m doing what I LOVE to do!

I have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. And I’ll continue to share my adventure with you right here, so stick around. Our journey together isn’t over yet!

And, of course, I’m still writing and have several exciting projects under way!

  • The second book in my trilogy, Two Hearts: One True Love, is coming along nicely with an anticipated release in Spring of 2017.
  • I’m in the early stages of writing and developing a novella series that will debut next year.
  • And I’m working on a web-based series that will run on this website … watch for that in the very near future.

So far this has been an amazing journey for me, and I’m so happy to have you along for the ride! Hold on tight . . . We’re just getting started!  ~CJ

black-heart-trio-th  © CJ Andrews, Daydreamer Press, 2016. All rights reserved.

Kiss Me!

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Pucker up! Today I have a hot little flash-fiction story to share with you.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to have some fun when I saw this week’s Flash Fiction Challenge prompt on Dan Alatorre’s blog: “Write a Kiss.”

Hope you enjoy! 

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An Unyielding Passion

I tossed and turned, unable to find a comfortable position that would allow me to drift off to sleep. With each second that ticked by, I became more aware of Hunter’s presence. I imagined him standing outside my door, wondering if he should come in.

I wished he would.

Every touch, every stolen glance, every moment I’d spent in his arms earlier tonight only left me wanting more. So many years had passed, but my body ached with the need to be his again. 

I threw off the covers, swung my legs over the side of the bed, and hopped to my feet. Confident, determined, and fueled by desire, I grabbed my robe and rushed down the empty hall. A girl on a mission to get her man.

Without pausing to think, I tapped lightly on his door, whispering his name. I pushed on the lever with a trembling hand. Locked. Dammit.

The latch clicked; and the door opened, revealing a bare-chested Hunter.

“Were you waiting for me?” I bit my lip, glancing up at him through my lashes.

He’d looked sexy as hell in his suit at our engagement party, but now … wow, what a shame it had been to cover this magnificent body.

“I—I couldn’t sleep.” He dragged a hand through his already messy hair and leaned into the door frame.

Perfect. The way he looked. The way I felt. The perfect opportunity.

“Me either. But since we’re both awake . . .” I stepped closer and tugged on the sash around my waist, letting my robe slide from my shoulders and fall to the floor. “We might as well have a little fun.” I slid one hand down his chest, over his navel.

Hunter let out a slow hiss, the muscles of his torso flexing. His lounge pants sat low on his hips, the fabric straining across his growing erection. I skimmed the top of the silky fabric, imagining how he looked beneath them. Anxious to find out.

He grabbed my wrist, fingers flexing on my racing pulse. “Skye.” His grip tightened, halting my exploration. Broad shoulders rose and fell on several ragged breaths, his inner struggle palpable.

“What’s stopping you?”

“A hell of a lot of self control, right now.” He took hold of my left hand, stroking my palm before raising it between us. The light from his room reflected off the diamond solitaire—the ring that branded me as Matt’s.

Ignoring the momentary flash of guilt, I pressed Hunter’s hand to my chest. “Maybe I just need someone to make me forget about him. Someone who makes my heart race like it used to. Like it is now.” Watching his face, I moved closer and wrapped my arms around him. “Before it’s too late.”

His dark eyes betrayed him, revealing the same passion and desire that burned inside me. Emotions that had laid dormant far too long.

I’d missed him, more than I dared to let anyone know. And I needed him. More than I’d realized myself, before today.

Hunter’s head fell forward. His stubbled jaw scraped my cheek as he nuzzled my neck and dropped a trail of kisses to my throat. Each one sent a shot of electricity straight to my core.

A sweet sigh slipped past my parted lips. I struggled to catch my breath amid his sensual assault.

He cradled my face, mere inches from his own, his heated gaze searching my soul. Did he see the empty space that only he could fill?

I brushed my lips across his, tentative at first—warm, soft, exactly as I’d remembered them. “Mmm … I’ve missed these lips.”

The corner of his mouth lifted. “You miss all the wicked things they can do to you.”

I bit back a smile and lifted my shoulder, trying to play it cool. “That too.”

Hunter’s mouth covered mine, claiming me in one swift move. His tongue swept inside, caressing and exploring. He let out a satisfied hum that vibrated through me.

Every cell in my body seemed to come to life after years of hibernation. Pulsing sensations I’d long forgotten rolled through me in waves. I clung to him, gasping, pleading for more.

Hunter gripped my waist, catching me as my knees grew weak. His fingers dug into my flesh as he pulled me toward him, tugging me into his room.

My skin tingled under his touch as his hands skimmed my torso, his thumbs brushing the underside of my breasts. He guided me backwards and pinned me to the wall, our clasped hands raised above my head. His hips pressed to mine, rocking at a slow steady rhythm.

Lost in the whirlwind of sensations he created in me, my body melted into his. I was so close to going over the edge, and he’d barely even touched me. My grip on his hands grew tighter the higher I climbed. My uncontrollable cries of pleasure echoed in his mouth as he continued to kiss me with unyielding passion.

Hunter released my arms. He pulled away, licking his swollen lips, a dazed look in his eyes. His chest heaved on heavy breaths. “What the fuck am I doing? Skye, we can’t—” He shook his head, scrubbing his knuckles across his troubled face. “You’re marrying my best friend. It’s already too late for us.”

His jaw flexed as seconds ticked by in silence. “I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anyone, but we missed our chance. I missed my chance.” He rested his hands on my shoulders, his eyes locked on mine. “I’m sorry. For then and for now.”

I turned away, hiding the pain that threatened to consume me. We were meant to be together—I felt it in the depths of my soul. Settling for Matt had seemed like my best option at the time, but … well, I never expected to see Hunter again. Never expected to feel so alive again.

“Skye, please don’t make this harder than it already is. Saying, ‘no’ to you is killing me.”

“Then don’t.”

He placed a finger under my chin, coaxing my gaze back to his. “I’ll spend the rest of my life wishing I’d held onto you when I had the chance.”

Hunter pressed his lips to mine in a tender kiss that ended too soon. “Good-night, beautiful.”

“Good-night.” But not good-bye. Not by a long shot.

black-heart-trio-th  © CJ Andrews, 2016. All rights reserved.

You can “kiss me back” by sharing your thoughts in the comments section. And…If you enjoyed my story, don’t forget to “share” the love with your friends by clicking your favorite social media button below. Thanks! ~CJ

Thanks, Dan for a fun challenge! (Click here to pop on over to the original post on Dan’s blog to check out the other great entries.)

 

Still in the Race . . . A Brief Update for All You Inquiring Minds

FullSizeRender 11I know I’ve been quiet for a few weeks, but I’m still here.

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of authors, some wildly successful, say that the hardest part of writing a book is actually finishing the story. Following their advice, last month I changed my normal writing process and set out to finish writing my story without “tidying it up as I go” . . . just dumping the words on the page to get to the end.

In order to eliminate distractions and focus on writing my book, I put myself in a “timeout.” That meant no blogging, no chatting with friends and fellow authors, and no playing on social media.

It’s been lonely, but the results are proof that the sacrifice was well worth it.

Did I meet my goal and finish my first draft by the end of January?

No.

Did I finish it by the middle of February?

Still, no.

Am I discouraged about not finishing my book? Definitely not! I managed to write more in five weeks than I wrote in the previous eight months.

I have two scenes left to write—two stubborn scenes that I can’t seem to figure out. But I’m not worried. I know what needs to happen, and I know the right words will come to me . . . eventually.

Giving up now would be like running a marathon and lying down two feet before the finish line. I can’t imagine any runner would work so hard, only to give up and do something so foolish; and neither will I.

I’m almost there . . . so incredibly close.

But, you know what? As excited as I am about the progress of my book, the most important thing I’ve accomplished the past six weeks is remembering why I wanted to write in the first place. And that’s because I love it.

I write every day. 

Not because it’s a habit. Not because it’s what I’m expected to do.

I stopped putting unnecessary stress on myself with unrealistic expectations and self-imposed deadlines that took the fun out of writing. Because that’s what writing is to me. Fun. Creative. Making up people and stories, writing them down, then reshaping them until I create something I’m proud of and want to share with the world.

I write, because it’s what I want to do. It makes me happy.

So, while my last two scenes get into shape, I’m working on my favorite part of the creative process—revising the chapters I wrote so far this year. The last chapters of my debut novel.

I’m still here. I’m still in the race, and I have no doubts that I’ll cross the finish line. Very soon. —CJ

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© CJ Andrews, 2016. All rights reserved.

A New Year, New Goals, and a New Plan of Attack

IMG_1423Happy New Year! . . . and good riddance to 2015. Yeah, I know I’m a week late. I have a really good excuse though!

I’ve been busy writing.

I never make New Year resolutions—those things most people toss around casually with no real intention of following through on.

Anyone can throw out a general statement: This year I’m going to eat healthier. This year I’m going to exercise more. This year I’m going to . . . well, you get the idea. They’re great ideas—great resolutions, but they don’t have a plan to support them. As a result, they’re often a distant memory by noon on January 1.

Instead, I prefer to set goals and make plans.

If I say,  “I want to eat healthier, so I’m going to cut out processed foods and have one vegetarian day each week.” Now I have a goal and a plan, so I’m more likely to follow through. Right?

The same principles apply to writing. Last year, my goal was to finish my book. Period. Did it happen? Um, that would be a big, fat NOPE! Instead chaos, disorder, and distractions reined.

NOT this year. I have a list of solid goals for 2016, and plans on how to achieve them. First up is my goal to finish the first draft of my novel by January 31. IMG_1425

That’s right, you’re not seeing things . . . I’ve attached a date for finally finishing.

The last few chapters will still need polishing before I run them through my critique group, and then there’s the whole revisions and editing phase; but those things will all fall into place once I have a finished story to work with.

This is a huge goal for me, a personal challenge. I need to nail this one to prove to myself that I really am a writer.

I know what needs to happen yet in my story and how many chapters are left to write. I can estimate about how many words it will take to write each of those scenes. Breaking it down, I know how many words I need to get on the page each day in order to reach my goal . . . and it’s a lot more than I’m used to writing.

That means I need to make a few changes in my life. The biggest change: writing my story is now a top priority in my day . . . EVERY day. To make sure that happens, I began getting up early to write first thing in the morning.

Keep in mind that I am not a morning person. The sight of me dragging myself out of bed at four am . . . well, let’s just say it’s not pretty. It’s a price I’m willing to pay though, and the results have been good so far—I am on target to meet my goal.

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January is off to an exciting start, and I’m racing toward the finish line. I can see “The End” in sight. —CJ

2015: The Year of Lessons Learned…and the End of the Foolish Dreamer

 

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I started my blog about six months ago. Since then, I’ve written several posts that talk about my dream of becoming an author. I even wrote a post solely devoted to the idea. (Chasing A Dream) But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize about dreams: most times they’re unrealistic fantasies, things we wish for that will never come true.

Today, that all stops . . . the dreaming, that is. Imagining myself as a writer—seeing myself doing all the things I know a writer needs to be doing—is never going to get me anywhere.

Now, that’s not to say I’ve been foolish enough to think I could sit back all this time, just waiting to watch a miracle happen. I’m saying that I need a different mindset, a better approach, in order to avoid becoming a life-long dreamer.

Looking back on 2015, I’m not at all satisfied with what I accomplished. I’ll even go so far as to say I’m disappointed in myself. The book that I dreamed would be flying off the shelves by the end of the year? . . . well, I’m still not finished writing it.

You can’t win the race before you even leave the starting block.

It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of talking to other authors and learning all that they’re willing to share … which is far more than I’d ever expected when I first entered the indie community.

It’s also easy to let all of that become a distraction. With too much energy focused on new opportunities or on preparing for the future, you can forget to focus on the present—for a newbie author, that means getting down the words for my story.

This is where I failed.

At least I managed to learn a lot of valuable lessons this year that will help me reach my new goals:

  • I leaned I can’t do EVERYTHING I want to do, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. More importantly, I learned to accept that and to prioritize so I can focus on the big pieces of the puzzle.
  • I learned to say no. This is huge, because saying yes to everything other people want or expect me to do for them—or things they think I should be doing for myself—means there isn’t enough time to do the one thing I need to do, which is finish writing my book.
  • I learned that words may sting, but they can only hurt me or kill my spirit if I give them permission to. Having a thick skin is an absolute MUST for authors. While we’re all entitled to our own opinions, people may not always voice their’s in the kindest of manners. I realize this is something I’m bound to run into more as my audience expands, especially after the release of my book. Being able to search for any value in their messages and letting the rest fall away is vital.
  • I learned to believe in myself. I had plenty of refresher courses in trust, honesty, and dependability this year. Some were painful lessons, but they made me a stronger person. They taught me to be confident enough to trust my own judgment and stand up for my ideas and opinions. They taught me to fight for what I want. I won’t be foolish enough to make the same mistakes again.

I can’t change the past, but the future is mine to command. Dreams don’t come true . . . I need to plan and work hard to make them become a reality.

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With the start of the new year closing in, my dream of being an author no longer exists. Instead, I’m eager to move into 2016 with a new set of values and a list of goals, and plans on how to achieve them. —CJ

The Joy of Christmas Distractions

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I love Christmas: the traditions, the decorations, the scents, and the general feeling of cheer that emerges all around.

For my family, the holiday season begins with a trip to the tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition we began over twenty years ago, when my sons were toddlers. I have so many fond memories of snowball battles, playing hide-and-seek, and chasing the dog as we spent hours searching for the perfect tree.

Our trip always ended with giant mugs of hot chocolate to warm us from our time out in the cold.

Later that evening we’d decorate the tree as a family while listening to Christmas music. After our sons were in bed, my husband and I would snuggle together on the couch to watch White Christmas by the light of the tree.

My sons are grown and living out of state now, but we still manage to keep the tradition alive to some degree . . . usually with the aid of modern technology.

FullSizeRender 5Christmas is also the only time of the year that my house is actually decorated—it’s something I’ve never acquired a knack for, so I usually settle for more of a minimalistic approach. Every year I look forward to unpacking one special box. It contains my favorite collection affectionately named The Snowman Family by my family. I’ve amassed quite a collection of the adorable little guys over the years, and seeing them always makes me smile.

But . . . as much as I love my snowmen, my most prized decoration is a gift my sons made for me when they were eleven and nine—a wooden Santa, personalized with our names and the year. They secretly dug into my hobby supplies and tools (not the power tools, thankfully) and followed the steps they’d learned from watching me . . .  it really touched me, because I never realized how closely they paid attention to what I did and enjoyed.

To my eyes, their creation is perfect and well deserving of the most prominent spot at the center of the mantle, where it has sat every year since. It is a gift from their hearts and made with love.

This time of year can become rather stressful though, as I’m sure you already know. There is so much that needs to be done. Besides all the decorating,  there’s shopping, and wrapping.

And don’t forget about the cookies! Gotta bake cookies for Santa . . . and my sons.

There are holiday get-togethers with friends and parties  with co-workers.

And . . . of course, all of this merriment takes a lot of time. That’s a big bite out of the already insufficient time available for writing. Trying to resist it is useless—and ignoring it doesn’t work either—so I’ve given in to the holiday spirit and put writing on hold until after Christmas.

As I sit writing this post by the light of the tree, in a room filled with the warm scent of cinnamon candles, I think back over Christmases gone by—some from my childhood, but mostly of my years as a parent.

I can hear the laughter and excitement of my sons as they discovered their gifts under the tree.

I remember the years with our crazy dog, who tried to sneak downstairs for his toys more than our sons did.

And I feel the absence of loved ones who are no longer with us, but their spirits live on in my heart.

I have one wish for Christmas, and it almost didn’t come true . . . I can’t wait to have my sons back home and my family together, even if only for a few precious hours. They are the greatest gifts of my life.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness. —CJ

Cracking The Mystery Of “Goodreads For Authors,” Part Two: READERS

This week I’m excited to share a guest post I wrote for Dan Alatorre’s popular blog. (Thanks, Dan!) Follow the link below to pop on over and check it out. –CJ

A Timely guest blog post by my friend, critique partner and fellow author CJ Andrews – Dan. Sunday afternoon Dan and I were chatting about his post on how authors can use Goodreads. As I rambled on about my thoughts on the topic, we (okay, Dan) realized that a lot of authors may struggle with this […]

http://danalatorre.com/2015/12/14/cracking-the-mystery-of-goodreads-for-authors-part-2-readers/

You Need to Build an Author Platform

 

social-media-961769_640Every writer has heard this phrase. We know it’s a crucial part of our career, whether we choose the indie or traditional publishing route. But what does it really mean?

I could tell you to go ask my good friend, Google. He knows everything and can point you to tons of books, blogs, videos, webinars, and so on that are dedicated to the subject. But . . .

Well, that would leave me with a really short blog post. Instead, I’ll share what I’ve learned over the past year and a half. More importantly, what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

The first time I heard about building a platform, I was reading a book on successful e-book publishing . . . long before I even started chapter one of my debut novel. At the time, my mind tried to conjure up the image of a physical structure, and it looked like some rickety old wooden tower—something that would easily collapse in a mild breeze.

Looking back, that fragile structure was a pretty accurate representation of my writing venture in the early days. I didn’t have any contacts or friends in the field to lean on for support. No critique partners to make me a stronger writer and storyteller. No mentor to guide me and shove me back on course when I strayed.

There was no internet presence, which should make up the largest portion of an author’s platform. No one even knew I wrote, so there weren’t any readers. And honestly, the idea of someone reading my thoughts back then terrified me, so I didn’t mind.

That’s no longer the case.

Now, a year and a half later, I have a pretty good idea what an author’s platform should look like. From here, it’s just a matter of acquiring all the necessary tools and continually working to build it bigger, better, and stronger every single day.

So, what is this platform stuff all about?

Simply put, it means developing your author brand and image. It means you need to make yourself visible as an author. It’s about networking and making connections—the same key principals that apply to every other business in the world.

That’s right . . .  we need to communicate with other authors, editors, bloggers, artists, readers—

Hold on . . . I need to talk to people? Like . . . strangers? I’m, um . . . I’m pretty sure my parents warned me against that . . .

A lot of writers tend to be introverts, and I’m no exception. We usually have enough characters roaming around in our heads to have long, detailed conversations without needing to bring another actual person into the mix. We’re content to sit quietly on the sidelines of life and listen in, always filing away the information we gather for use in a future story.

Some people, the non-writer types, insist on calling that eavesdropping, but we all know it’s just research. Honest!

Okay, so I finally know what a platform is and what I need to do. That’s progress.

So why haven’t I been doing it? That’s a great question!

I wish I had a good answer. Maybe I was feeling a little insecure, maybe something shook my confidence, maybe the dog ate my homework.

The reason doesn’t really matter. Everyone falls. Everyone screws up. What matters is what we do after the fact—how we learn from our mistakes and use that knowledge to move forward.

I’ve been down the rabbit hole. It’s dark. It’s lonely. And hiding down there is no way for an author to build a successful career. I’d taken the right first steps and set up social media accounts in multiple outlets, but I neglected to actively participate and missed out on so many opportunities to connect with members of the amazing indie community and a plethora of avid readers searching for a new book or a new favorite author.

Big, big mistake! Huge!

But it’s never to late to do things right, so now it’s time for all of that to change!

My journey is back on track. I’m writing every day. I’m focused, and I’m feeling confident and strong. I have a book to finish writing, and I need to build a strong platform that will support it and carry me on to a successful writing career.

The experts all say that a website and blog are the most important building blocks for any platform. You can use the buttons on the sidebar to follow my blog and to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

See ya ’round the internet. —CJ

Finding My Way

hawaii-240191_640I’m really bad with directions and get lost almost every time I go somewhere new. So it only makes sense that I’d make a few wrong turns on my journey as an author.

Okay, it was more than a few . . . and they were major detours.

I could sit here and make up all kinds of excuses for my recent absence, some probably valid—family vacation, a new job, holidays, misunderstandings—but the bottom line is that I dropped the ball. I lost focus on my goals and nearly allowed my dream to fade away.

Writers write, right? Or at least we’re supposed to. We talked about that before. (click here if you missed it) But so many things, real and imagined, can mess with a writer’s head. Suddenly, the writing stops, and the downward spiral of self deprecation and fading confidence ensues.

I’ve been lost for several weeks, wandering around the great abyss of a blank page and feeling totally disconnected from anything writing-related. It’s a personal hell that I’m ready to escape.

Over the course of several long conversations, a friend helped me realize where I went off course and dragged me back . . . making sure to bang my head on every rock along the path in an attempt to knock some sense into me.

It worked.

So what’s next? It’s time to get back to work and finish writing my novel, of course! That means committing to set aside designated writing time every day . . . No excuses! And it means finally getting serious about building a strong platform to support my novel when it’s ready to release.

With a new plan in place and a renewed energy, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal—or my fingers to the keyboard—and resume my journey. I’m off to embrace the return of my passion for writing I’d temporarily lost along the way. —CJ

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