Archive by Author | SAHealey

From Self-Loathing to Self-Love

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She often speaks of love
But what of the ador
She owes her own
Seasoned body and soul
The extraordinary simplicity
Of a moment
When conceding to her age
Becomes a gift and not a crime
When clock-stopping
Loses its baby-soft appeal
When big browns snagging
On those department store panes
Fail to spur misadventures
In self-upgrading
When ‘girl’ rings true
To a past she outgrew
And the woman at hand
Is the queen who shines
Despite abs that no longer behave
In a concave way
Her wash-n-go coif
And Mom Squad garb
Agreeable garnishes
To a half-century (just two years shy)
Worn under her eyes
Like a badge of honor
Because this is a life
She has truly lived

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: unsplash.com – Daria Nepriakhina, photographer

 

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Book Review – Joshua’s Island by Patrick Hodges

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After reading the synopsis of Joshua’s Island (James Madison Series Book One) by Patrick Hodges, I was compelled to download the book and give it a go. Even so, initially I wasn’t sure how captivating a story about middle schoolers would be for an older reader like myself. But with each increasingly eager page-turn, I became all the more invested in the story and the plight of the characters.

The story centers on Joshua and Eve, two eighth grade students on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum: he, a small-for-his-age social outcast; and she, a beautiful A-crowder, newly minted by the school’s it-girl Rhonda.

My heart immediately went out to Joshua, a victim of bullying—something that has plagued him for his entire middle school existence. The psychological effects have been relentless and lasting, not only from living in constant fear of the next assault (courtesy of chief tormenter Brent and his band of cronies), but also from having been ostracized by the entire student body, including those he had once considered friends.

Joshua’s and Eve’s worlds are forced to collide in Science class, where much to their dismay, the teacher pairs them up as lab partners. Beyond horrified with the arrangement, Eve is none too subtle in her vocal objections. As expected, this sets off their teamwork experience (or lack thereof) on rather uneven, uncomfortable footing.

But neither of them would be prepared for the life-altering journey on which they were soon headed.

Always a glutton for a good love story, the one that gradually buds and then all-out blossoms in Joshua’s Island had me smiling my head off every step of the way. There’s just something about young love, and the way it’s written here in particular, that tugs at the heart strings like no other. The honesty. The awkwardness. The innocence. The sweetness. The sigh-inducing, chest-panging “awwww” moments that I’ll admit had me tearing up on more than one occasion.

Although Joshua and Eve are the driving force of this story, there are several supporting characters that also become crucial to its impact and momentum. Deservedly, some of these stand-outs get their own story in subsequent books in the series, and I look forward to reading them all.

When it comes down to it, Joshua’s Island is much more than a love story. It’s about friendship, family, loyalty, forgiveness, righting wrongs, good versus evil, and standing up for your convictions no matter the consequences. The lessons to be learned are invaluable, and you will walk away from this book not only contemplating how you treat others, but inspired to pay it forward.

Bullying is an issue that hits close to home for many, including myself, and based on the depth and authenticity of the characters and plot, I would imagine that Patrick Hodges was writing from a very personal place. In doing so, he has undoubtedly given hope to others who have experienced similar harassment and abuse, as well as the comfort in knowing they are not alone.

Needless to say, I adored this book and will be passing it along to my teenage daughters to read next. I just know they’ll love it too.

Please do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Joshua’s Island today.

Get in on your Kindle

Get it in Paperback

Get in on Audible

And don’t forget to leave a review. 🙂

To find out more about Patrick Hodges, visit him on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!

~ Sue

 

Image source: Amazon.com

 

My 5 Fave Films for Seasonal Swooning

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To me, there’s just something about the holiday season that screams, “Romance!”

Granted, by February my penchant for flip flops and beach-combing has me cursing winter’s frost with a teeth-chattering “damn you!” vehemence.

But, in December…

There is magic to be had.

Specifically, yuletide movie magic. The heart-swelling, tummy-tumbling, butterfly-inducing variety.

Of course, this doesn’t in any way diminish my overwhelming love for all things bookish. Still, holiday-themed romantic movies always manage to hit me right in the ol’ ticker. Between the elaborate sets, twinkling lights, pirouetting snowflakes, hearthside snuggles, hot cocoa mustaches, trees trimmed to ooh-aah perfection, and the lip locking powers of mistletoe…

I am in holiday hog heaven.

And if spending the twelve days of Christmas perched in front my DVR is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.

So, with that in mind, here are my…

5 Fave Films for Seasonal Swooning

(warning: may cause intense warm fuzzies)

5. Bridget Jones’s Diary

Swoon-worthy quote: “I like you very much just as you are.”

One word… Colin Firth. No wait, that’s two words. One name? No, that’s not right either. Oh, never mind. My brain is mush.

See? This is what Colin does to me. As soon as he graces the silver screen (or any screen for that matter), I am a puddle of goo on the spot. He’s got the brooding, respectable, good-guy routine down to a tantalizing T.

Oh, right. There are other people in the movie too. Renée Zellweger and Hugh Grant round out a well-crafted cast.

This film is a clever, hilarious, modern-day take on Pride and Prejudice. Does it resort to outrageous, cringe-worthy silliness at times? Yes. Is it terribly realistic? Not exactly. Yet, somehow, it all works with a certain je ne sais quoi, to the point where I’ve practically worn out my DVD from repeat viewings.

4. The Holiday

Swoon-worthy quote: “I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives.”

As far as movie roles go, Kate Winslet sure knows how to pick ’em. I honestly can’t think of a single film she’s appeared in that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.

(Hums the score to Titanic)

Anywho, The Holiday is so undeniably charming that even my husband likes it (and he usually rolls his eyes while simultaneously blowing raspberries during “chick flicks”). It stars (along with Winslet) Cameron Diaz, Jude Law (those eyes!), and Jack Black—who is, to my pleasant surprise, utterly sweet and appealing here.

In a nutshell, the story follows two women in the thick of guy-problem suffrage, who swap homes (and countries) in order to clear their heads and, with a little luck, embark on journeys to healing.

From the get-go, you pretty much know how the story is going to end. But, trust me, you wouldn’t want it any other way.

3. Serendipity

Swoon-worthy quote: “Maybe we’re lying here because you don’t wanna be standing somewhere else.”

Fate. Does it really have the power to guide us toward the people we’re meant to be with? I believe it does. As a matter of fact, I know it does.

John Cusack (whom I’ve fawned over since The Sure Thing) and Kate Beckinsale (how adorable is she?) play Jonathan and Sara, who, despite obstacles of time and space, are unable to quell a mutual longing forged from a single, magnetic, chance encounter.

These would-be lovebirds are so wholesome and endearing that you can’t help but teeter on the edge of your seat, rooting for them every step of the way.

Passion vs. predictability. Which would you choose?

If you’re keen on uplifting, enchanting, seasonal whimsy, then this movie is right up your alley.

2. Love Actually

Swoon-worthy quote: “To me, you are perfect.”

Though touted by many as being the most romantic movie in the history of lovey-dovey cinema, I was initially skeptical. Not typically a fan of ensemble-cast, multiple storyline theatricals, I almost skipped this production altogether. But, then I remembered…

Colin Firth is in it.

Need I say more?

So I gave it a go and, holy swoonmuffins, was I ever glad I did!

This is holiday escapism at its finest, not to mention a prime example of movie-casting gold. Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson (love her!), the-man-can-do-no-wrong Firth, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman (RIP), Keira Knightly (on whom I have a slight girl crush), Rowan Atkinson, Bill Nightly, Martine McCutcheon, January Jones, Elisha Cuthbert, Billy Bob Thornton, Denise Richards, and Rodrigo Santoro all lend their acting chops, resulting in a cinematic experience for the ages.

If you are a hopeless romantic like me, you will love this movie with every fiber of your being. Prepare to run the full gamut of giggles, tears, full-bodied smiles, accelerated heartbeats, and dreamy sighs.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

Swoon-worthy quote: “What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”

Sigh. I love this movie so much.

When it comes to unforgettable, cinematic-romantic chemistry, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are in a class all their own.

Each time Jimmy appears on-screen as George Bailey, you feel his words and the breaths that propel them. You join him on his quest for the American dream, through all the highs and lows—joy, hope, despondence, and desperation.

I seriously cannot watch this movie enough, or without getting a lump in my throat. Maybe it’s because I’ve been where George has been. Maybe we all have.

But there is redemption.

And Mary.

She is his rock, his safe haven, his home … though he doesn’t always realize it.

Yet her love for him never wavers.

And when George finally alights upon an angel-guided epiphany…

Well, I don’t know a person alive who doesn’t feel compelled to reevaluate their own existence and count their blessings as a result.

***************

So there you have it. Do you agree with my list?

Honorable mentions go out to Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged, While You Were Sleeping, and Happy Christmas.

With so many wonderful romantic holiday flicks to choose from, I’m sure you have your own favorites.

So nuke up some popcorn, hunker down for a yuletide movie marathon, and enjoy. 🙂

Copyright © S. A. Healey
Image source: pixabay.com

Back From Hiatus: What I’ve Learned

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I can’t believe 2017 is already nearing the finish line. Soon, bubbly-fueled, pitchy renditions of Auld Lang Syne will fill the air, and I’ll feign familiarity with the lyrics by humming and grunting the melody with my family and friends, poised to hit the ground running in 2018.

Actually, I’m already itching to get this show on the road. After taking a multi-month respite from social media, I feel refreshed and focused with a close-to-crystal vision of where I’m headed and how I’m aiming to get there.

Going off-grid wasn’t something I initially had any intention of sticking out for more than a spell. I simply wanted to spend a bit of concentrated time in manuscript-immersion mode as opposed to perpetually stuck in the eyes-to-the-phone-screen position.

One day unplugged would be doable, I thought. Two, tops.

But one day became one week, which had somehow morphed into three months. Three months fully present and finally—yes, finally—hitting my authorly stride. I wrote books…plural. And outlined others. And tweaked my business plan. And established a second brand for my mature adult fiction. It was like a whole new me had surfaced and taken over— the frantic, urgent, impassioned writer I always knew was buried inside.

I’d have been crazy to fight it.

The words kept coming and I wasn’t about to disinvite them by answering my phone’s seduction call and becoming lost in an abyss of selfies, subtweets, and hashtagery.

Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t miss those things. Because I did. A lot. Nor am I condemning social media, smartphones, or the internet at large. Because I love ’em! I do! Heck, if it weren’t for a little platform called Wattpad.com and the encouragement and support I’d received there when I was starting out, I would never have published my first book.

However, the lessons learned during my time offline have been invaluable, leaving me indelibly prepared for a more fulfilling and productive New Year and beyond. Especially this golden nugget of wisdom…

Writing comes first—always.

(Side note: We all know that family in fact comes first, but within the context of this blogspace I’m strictly talking from a career-longevity standpoint. Okay, I’m glad I got that off my chest.)

So, writing, eh? What a revelation! Not.

I mean, really—it couldn’t be more obvious. Yet we still tend to forget, don’t we? How many of us have poured our blood, sweat and tears into writing and publishing that one book only to become consumed immediately thereafter with things like algorithms, sales rankings, sponsored ads, page likes, social media shares, and wondering if one needs to sacrifice their first born in order to get reviews?

Just me? Well, never mind then. 😉

In all seriousness, though, nothing is more vital—more necessary—than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and churning out those stories. Its importance is paramount. It has to be. Otherwise, word counts remain stagnant, which is a real mood killer. Trust me.

Try to think of it this way: The more time you spend online, the less time you spend writing, and the longer it takes to build a loyal readership. You want followers? Great! Retweets? Fantastic! Shares? Who wouldn’t!?

But if you want to experience steady career growth, touch the lives of others with your stories, and find readers in increasing numbers who’ll stick with you for the long haul…

Then write more books.

Speaking from my own experience, I knew the only way I was ever going to get my groove back was to forget trying to be everywhere all at once. To stop obsessing over rankings. To reunite with my phone only after I’d met my daily word count goal and not a moment before.

It was challenging at first. We are, after all, creatures of habit. But gradually, the more I left the phone aside, the more it freed up my imagination, and the more words filled my pages. The result is three books I’ll be bringing to you in 2018.

Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me!

Maintaining a social media presence while keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the publishing industry should be a part of every writer’s platform-building and marketing strategy. Not to mention that it’s also a wonderful way to engage with readers and show support for other writers whose work you enjoy.

But if you’re a writer who spends more than a fair amount of time online (don’t we all?) while consistently drifting in and out of states of creative inertia, then scaling back on scrolling-n-posting, even just a little, could make all the difference in your bookish output.

So that might mean updating your Facebook status 2-3 times a week instead of daily. Or scheduling your tweets ahead of time so that they’ll automatically post at chosen intervals (there are many useful apps for this purpose). This is perfectly acceptable and more than sufficient. Because honestly, when it comes right down to it, your posting frequency won’t translate to much if you’re not actively expanding your catalog of work by…

Say it with me…

Writing.

And if you need to go off-grid like I did to get those creative juices flowing, then that’s okay too. Just keep in mind that when you lay low for a stretch of time, people will unfollow you. That’s to be expected. But don’t worry. Your genuine internet friends and supporters will not only have your back, they’ll be right there waiting upon your return.

So write first, scroll-n-post later. Your career (and your readers!) will thank you for it.

Oh, and Happy Holidays to you and yours! 🙂

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pixabay.com

 

More (A Poem/Short Story)

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She kept the bouquets
Given in bloom
Before reverence was a ghost
Rancid lilies
On the bedside table
Patronizing her
With their shelf-life devotion

“Never again will I love,” she proclaimed
“Never again will I give,” she explained
“Never again will I chase the chaser”
“Stroke the ego”
“Be led by reins made from frays of detachment”

She told herself
Life was brilliant, easier
When she kept her heart guarded
Though at the point of sale
She didn’t buy
What she was pushing

Yet she existed without living
Thought without reasoning
Reached for tomorrow
Inside ancient history
Plagued by its confines
As the floor met the ceiling
And the walls closed in

She took to sand and sea
Cloud gazing in the dunes
Spongy beds beneath her spine
Bursts of freckles just a sun-kiss away
As she finally came to

Her fractured fairytale
Still pierced her mind
But its jabs were brief
And its frequency was fading

Oh, but she was slow
To usher in…him
A knight without the armor 
Bold and uninvited
Extracting her from that comfy corner
Of complacency

She took his attention
With a side of suspicion
Despite emotions upending
Without permission
Blending then curving
In all directions

Ah, but it felt too good

Too rare
Too risky
Too scary
Too much
Too fast
Too soon

She charted an escape
A path to resistance
Right there for the taking

She clung to it
Bathed in it
Slept in it
Woke to it
Gorged herself on it
And wore it
Like a second skin

But damn
If he wasn’t persistent
And beautiful
And so easy to adore

But surely
Her surrender
To that exquisite ache
Adhering to her frantic pulse
Was merely a prelude
To a greater pain to come?

No
Yes

Predictions were tangled
And often convoluted
So she took a leap of fate
For this joy was worth
Every maybe

When he showed her the stars
She was infinite
When he opened his arms
She fell home
When he pulled her close
Her body remembered
What she told it to forget
Its artful formation
Both courageous and kind

When he held out his heart
She slipped it on for size
Its perfect fit
Impossible to ignore

And when she let out her crazy
He took out his scars
And when she let down her hair
He caught all her fears
And when he kept coming back
She stopped asking why
And when he loved her
She loved him more

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pixabay.com