Posted in Uncategorized

Snowmageddon 2021

Living in East Texas, we don’t typically see much snow accumulation. We usually see an ice storm or two and temps that dip into the 20’s or upper teens. This results in a day or so off from work, maybe a power outage or two, and then nlife goes back to normal. Being so far south, Texas doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle these major changes in temperatures for extended periods of time. Nor does it prepare to treat the roads for excessive ice and snow accumulation. They don’t have snow plows here. We don’t usually need them. This week is definitely different though.

Valentine’s Day was normal but we had the “Winter Weather Advisory” coming through on the phone and weather apps. People went out and got the usual inclement weather supplies. I know we did. We stocked up on fuel for our kerosene heater, batteries, and even left the water trickling to ensure that pipes weren’t freezing and bursting. We’ve had enough plumbing issues. Also, keep in mind we had the usual spring temps in the 70’s last week. Honestly, I bought gear for walking and then got stuck by rain and this mess. So, the weather here is just crazy. Now, Monday, we had about 7-9 inches of snow on the ground. So much so that we ended up having to go rescue our tenacious little chihuahua who got stuck trying to go do the usual potty routine. Pip was smart and stayed by the porch where a roof covers so the depth wasn’t too bad for him. Under the porch was a good option too.

Warming My Car Up

Living in Texas for going on 20 years (give or take a few), I’ve never seen it like this. We lost power for about 11 hours. Many people have it far worse though. I know people who have been days with no power, have pipes bursting, and are running out of firewood for fireplaces or alternative fuel for other heaters. Last I heard, 5 in our area have lost their lives due to the extreme cold that we’re ill-equipped to deal with. We’ve had sub-zero temperatures that broke records.

My mom came and asked me if I would be okay driving my Dad to town to see if we could get more kerosene. Why? Well, the fact is, I spent time driving in these type of conditions when I worked for a transportation company. I was sent to Wisconsin for about eight weeks to supplement their crew. So, I have more experience driving in it than my Dad who is a native Texan. So, I bundled up like I used to when I grew up in Kentucky and trudged out to my little SUV. I didn’t have anything to clean the ice off my windshield though so it took a while to warm up enough so we could drive. Dad took a broom to the windows to speed up the process. And off we went. I didn’t scare him too badly but it was definitely slow going.

Our goal was to pick up some additional supplies for food, drinks, and kerosene for heating. Most stores were shut down. (Understandable, given the road conditions.) There was no kerosene to be found at any of our stops. I wanted to take the time to fill my car up too. I was at half a tank and I didn’t want to run the tank dry if we got stuck and had to wait for a tow. Only one of the 5 gas stations in town had gas to buy. Our local grocery store was packed and Dad said the shelves were looking awfully barren. We made it home before dark, but we had issues getting back into the driveway. I managed to maneuver into the bottom of the drive and get out of the main road. Getting back up the hill into my usual parking spot wasn’t going to happen though.

I count us very blessed right now. We still have power and so we have electric heaters to knock the chill off the house. I was able to get a hot bath this morning without feelilng like I was going to catch my death of a cold in the process. For now, I’ll accept a nap under three blankets, snuggles with my pup, and a good book to read to keep warm when I need to. And I’ll wear actual slippers and fuzzy socks instead of my flip-flops. I’ll try not to complain and I’m keeping busy with planning, journaling, and working on things while the electric is still on. We may lose it again at any minute thanks to… well let’s not talk about that right now. I keep my devices charged, my favorite candle burning for the moment, and I’m frequently checking on my pup here in his little bed beside me (which is fluffy and warm) to make sure his blanket is all tucked in to conserve heat as well. We will get through this week. It will likely be back to the 60’s and 70’s next week and life will resume.

In the meantime, I’m making plans for some exciting things. I’m cleaning up categories here on the blog and planning some awesome content. I’m also looking at coordinating a YouTube channel to go along with this that will have more interactive content as well. I want to do some documenting of various changes in my life. I also want to interact more with other aspiring authors, artists, and readers. So, I may invite some friends for some productivity sessions where you can write with us live and ask questions. I think sometimes, things come across better when you can hear and see the person trying to communicate them. I also need to get over the block I have with getting myself on camera. So keep an eye out for that soon, I’ll be announcing the details for everyone and I want to kick it off with some sort of giveaway. We’ll see what I come up with.

Keeping things productive even in the midst of this Snowpocalypse. But seriously y’all. Pray for Texas right now. We aren’t cut out for this kind of weather. We’ll get through it but, I’m praying that we can do it without anymore lives being lost.

Keep your chin up and tell me in the comments what your favorite way to warm up on a cold winter day is.

Posted in Family Life, The Writer's Life

What A Difference A Year Makes

It is hard for me to believe that a year has gone by like it has. So much has happened for me and yet, so much hasn’t yet and I’m still waiting on so much of it. And then there is so much that is going to be happening that I don’t even know where to begin to put all of this down.

Fair warning folks, this is going to be one of those “bear your soul” sort of posts. Likely to get someone personal, spiritual, and maybe even a little TMI. But I am going to write it anyway.

A year ago, I was unaware of the things happening in my own home. It seemed that things were just starting to come together for my ex and I in many ways. But there were issues. At the time I didn’t think that it was something we wouldn’t work through but, when he revealed that he was having an affair on the night before our fifth wedding anniversary, I knew it was over between us. He walked out the door to be with her and I got stuck trying to pick up the pieces.

October 6th would have made 6 years for us. Now, I’m in a sort of limbo having to come up with the extra money to pay costs that he agreed to pay in court if I want our divorce to be final so I can go on with my life. I also have to find a way to pay for the truck I was awarded in that divorce (that he was supposed to pay for) and the money to pay off a major debt incurred by his spending spree with his mistress (oh excuse me, his fiancee since the September before he left me). Just so glad I’m getting stuck with the bill for him to go and play sugar daddy. It isn’t like I ever got anything out of our marriage. Not sure why I should care, I’m actually quite accustomed to being used and dumped when I no longer serve a purpose. Don’t know why I expected that relationship to be any different. But, I digress.

I met Charles later in November as I was trying to get myself out and about to have some sort of social life again. I’d been a virtual hermit for most of the 6 years that my ex and I were together. I wanted that to change. So I started trying to make that happen. In December we started to date and in May we got engaged with the intention of being married in November. That won’t happen unless there is a miracle financially and we come into about $800.00. So, we’ll likely be sometime next summer getting married like we want. It will happen eventually though.

Here we are coming up on October 6th again. No doubt, that day will forever be etched in my mind. Now, however there will be a different reason for that.

When I was married to my ex, despite my own personal struggle with spirituality, I felt like I was forced into things I didn’t really agree with anymore. He was not Christian and my belief in something bigger than myself was a big source of issues in our relationship.

A couple weeks ago, I attended church services at a church that Charles and I started to attend while we were dating. I wanted to start going more regularly. And I have been going for a few weeks now, since we got the truck fixed. I realized that it was time for me to hand over this life and start fresh. I walked to the front and knelt at the altar and poured out everything weighing on me. I handed it over, asked to be forgiven of whatever I did in the past and for fighting against what I knew for so long. And I was saved that Sunday.

This Sunday, I take another step in my faith. I’m going to be baptized and then join the church. It is definitely a new chapter in my life. I’m closing the book on so many chapters that have been full of stress and unhappiness.

When I called the pastor to set the date for this, I didn’t even realize what Sunday was. It wasn’t until I called my mother with the news that she pointed out that Sunday will be the 6th of October. So, it will now stand out in my mind for another reason entirely and that, in my opinion, is a very good thing.

I have been contemplating this journey in my life for more than two years. I’ve spent years rebelling against what I knew to be right. Too many of those years have been in dark and shadowy places where I couldn’t begin to understand what I was doing most of the time. Going through this won’t make me perfect or any sort of judge of anyone else. I still believe that a person’s spiritual walk is between them and God (however they may view him). It isn’t about what I think of them or their life. But, it is about what I believe about my own life and how I choose to relate to God. Still, I know this decision is likely to cost me several relationships with people that I considered friends. While I will be sad to see them go, I understand that I have to do what is best for me and if they have to go on their own path without me, so be it. I’ll pray for them and wish them the best.

What a difference a year makes though. God has healed so many areas of my life already. He’s given me a peace about so many things. At the same time, he’s given me new challenges and ways to grow. I’m no longer unnerved at what my future holds. But, I do think I need to learn to listen to my gut more.

I know that this holiday season will be different for me. That’s a good thing. Somehow, everything has a little deeper meaning for me now. So, here’s to another year of growth, change, and life being incredible.

Posted in The Writer's Life

Life Events & The Writer…

It’s no secret that writers keep journals. We have them everywhere; online, in our purse, in our car, in our backpacks, our desk drawers, and you can even bet that there is likely one hiding in the bathroom. Yes, we’re odd like that, keeping pen and paper within arms reach at all times. But, this little habit serves us well. It allows us to capture our thoughts, put down ideas for characters or plots, and it even allows us to record life events that we don’t want to forget. I had such an event happen to me this past weekend and I was so excited that I had my handy-dandy planner with me so that I could write the details down while it was fresh in my mind.

The month of May is turning out to be pretty eventful for me. Not only will I be releasing my first novel under my pen name (Anne Belle) but I also got engaged this past weekend on Mother’s Day. All these changes in my life are one of the main reasons that I decided to write under a pen name to begin with. I think that readers need consistency so, a fictional name is ideal given the fact that I don’t want to put my career on hold. In fact, I am very motivated to forge ahead with my plans to build up a readership and get this show on the proverbial road.

just-engaged-bridgette-bartlett-op-ed-on-black-bridal-bliss-1I took the time to write down my account of the proposal. It really was memorable and the roses that my ring was tied around are still beautiful in a vase where I can see them. And while I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, I still wanted it on paper so I could read it all over again and smile. And now, I’m signed up on http://www.theknot.com and thinking about planning a wedding and getting things organized while trying to start promoting the new book being released this weekend.

The truth is, I don’t know where to start. I’ve set up all these accounts and am feeling overwhelmed that there are so many things for me to update. I came upon Hootsuite once and then I promptly forgot about it during all the craziness that was the end of last year for me. Now that I’m back to trying to build my writing career and organize my life in general, I find that Hootsuite might just be the marketer’s best friend. I certainly intend to make good use of it. I am starting to live by my planner again. That’s very likely a habit I should have never gotten out of in the first place.

TSOTS COVER ADSo, in other news, the book is about to release in print and ebook format. So I am rushing about to finalize all the little details and create some sort of plan to market it. I’ll be doing a major post on the book in the next few days just to commemorate the release. But, I’m sort of just jumping in feet first to figure out the best way to reach potential readers.  I have read all sorts of things on platforms and marketing but the fact is that most of what is out there is information geared for non-fiction work.

It is easy to build a platform when you have a set subject. To write a book on a particular topic you have to be something of an expert in your field or have some unique perspective on it. I don’t claim to be an expert in anything. I have too many interests to really be an expert in any one thing. If I am well-versed in any one topic it would be the paranormal. That topic shows up quite often in my work but, every piece is different.  For example, this book is about a woman with a supernatural power and a mystery to uncover with a bit of romance thrown in. My next book/series deals with apocalyptic scenarios and angels. While another project is more steampunk. I’m sort of all over the map and I don’t want to hinder my creativity for the sake of putting myself in a marketing bubble. So, I’m going to have to start somewhere and just build on it and see where I end up.

I am excited though. There is so much happening all at once for me. There is a wedding to plan and an amazing man by my side to share the journey with me in all of this.  It seems like things are really taking off and I find myself wondering if I dare try to get back into singing on top of it. I think that might be a bit much on my time though except for the occasional karaoke night or singing at church. But, you never know with me. We’ll just see.

At any rate things are going super in my neck of the piney woods of East Texas. We’ll see what else comes my way in the weeks to come. So, stay tuned!