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Robyn Nyx

Words for Women who Love Women

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Relationship, writing, editor

It’s release day!

It’s upon us, lovely readers. The big day for our FREE eBook, LesFic Eclectic. You’ll find the link to all versions of the book on my website here, and other authors will let you know if they’re hosting the book too. I’m afraid I haven’t been able to sort a proper Smashwords link: I ran out of time before our vacation, sorry! I’ll look to sorting that in November (it is on there, but the contents page is royally buggered!).

We hope you’ve enjoyed the run up to this book and that you like what we’ve put together for you.

Thank you and good day! I’m off to the States. Hope to see in P’Town for Women’s Week next month.

Hugs,

Robyn Nyx

LesFic Eclectic: Meet the Authors, part five. Release Day!

Today is the day! In just two hours, there’ll be another blog with the link to download our free eBook anthology, LesFic Eclectic from my website. Some authors also have the link on their websites if you want to grab your copy from them.

We round off our blog run with Emma Nichols, Carla David, and myself!

1) Established authors only…What made you want to be involved in this project?

Robyn Nyx: It started with a little conversation and ended up something entirely different. Authors have come and gone, and the project nearly didn’t get off the ground at all, but there were a number of unpublished writers that I really wanted to see reach the lesfic audience. I also wanted to give a big thank you to the readers out there who are so supportive of what we do. So I took the project by the scruff of the neck, widened the search for talent and established authors, and here’s the result. I really hope you all like it.

Emma Nichols: Initially to support EllCon in the hope that it would continue. I also like the idea of doing something collaborative, in so far as hopefully some of my readers will read it and discover new authors they want to read, and of course that works both ways, too.

2) New authors only…How excited are you to be involved in this project?

Carla David: I’m thrilled to be included, especially as it’s my first story in this genre that I’ve submitted for publication. I’ve strayed from usual lesfic conventions and it can be hard to get someone to take a chance on something (and someone) different.

3) What’s your story about and what genre does it fall into?

Robyn Nyx: Heart Halfway Gone is a romance, pure and simple. Hot neighbour moves in, friendship begins, and my butch cop comes to the rescue.

Carla David: It’s a romance, but not what you might expect. It follows a relationship from the time the characters first meet as teenagers to their contemplation of what they are to each other twenty years later.

Emma Nichols: My story is titled The Fan. It’s based on a woman attending an event where a famous author is doing a reading of their latest work. It’s in the romance genre.

 

4) What kind of fiction do you like to write and why?

Robyn Nyx: I love to write all kinds of genres. Plots interest me most. The what if question. What would this kind of character do if she were placed in this kind of situation. I really like to pose those questions and then see where the characters take me. And I like to address the deeper and darker sides to humanity, our unceasing battle with ourselves and what society expects of us, and the idea that no one is beyond redemption.

Carla David: I enjoy exploring different genres with queer themes, as in my reading, but always with a focus on character. I find the internal world of the characters the most interesting part of any story. I write about people living outside our expected social norms, and I hope readers will connect with my work who, like me, struggle to relate to most stories currently out there.

Emma Nichols: I prefer to write romance with a twist or two, suspense, or something unexpected along the way. I want the stories I write to be interesting and engaging for readers, with deep characters, and a strong story line. I have written contemporary and historical romance and romcom. I also like to challenge myself with my writing. I figure if I’m challenged and do a good job, readers will enjoy it too!

5) Tell us something about yourself that readers might not already know..

Robyn Nyx: At sixteen, I was picked to play volleyball for the UK team but passed on the opportunity to concentrate on my studies.

Carla David: My first love was my cello, which got me through those difficult teenage years. I connected with others through music and performed with my orchestra in many wonderful venues including the Royal Albert Hall and random towns across Spain. I still hear an old teacher’s voice telling me off if I let my fingernails grow too long.

Emma Nichols: I’ve written poetry in the context of peak performance and death and dying! Yep. Odd, I know, but true.

 

LesFic Eclectic: Meet the Authors, part four

Excitement abounds! Only one more day to wait until you can download our free eBook anthology, LesFic Eclectic. In case you’re late to the party, I’m Robyn Nyx, and I’ve been responsible for bringing this project together, including the editing and cover and production design.

Who have I got for you today? Would you believe I have Jeannie Levig, Valden Bushand Lise Gold?

1) Established authors only…What made you want to be involved in this project?

Jeannie Levig: 

First of all, I always enjoy doing what I can to help promote new authors just getting started, and I think a project like this is a wonderful way to do that. In addition, it gives something fun and free to the lesfic readers. A win-win all the way around.

Secondly, I have a lot of respect for Robyn Nyx, her writing, and the non-profit work through writing that she and Brey Willows do. I am happy to help with that whenever I can.

Lise Gold: It was great to meet so many lovely fellow authors at Ellcon last year, and when the idea of an anthology came to life, it seemed like a lot of fun to be involved. This anthology will give readers worldwide a chance to discover British authors who they might not usually read, and since it’s free, there’s no excuse not to!

2) New authors only…How excited are you to be involved in this project?

Valden Bush: Hanging off the chandelier excited! Some of my writing heroes are in this anthology and to be able to write words alongside them is awesome.

3) What’s your story about and what genre does it fall into?

Jeannie Levig: My story is called Turning Point, and it’s a work of general lesbian fiction. It’s about a woman who is at a turning point in her life and has to choose between living in the past or letting that go to take her life into a future with the woman she loves.

Valden Bush:My story is all about love against the odds both now and in the past. I’d classe it as general Lesfic.

Lise Gold: In one word, my story is about destiny, and the genre is romance. The backdrop is Dublin, where I wrote it last year, and it’s set in a bar where, by coincidence, two women meet. They discover the universe might have thrown them together for a reason.

4) What kind of fiction do you like to write and why?

Jeannie Levig: I’ve written several different kinds of fiction—general lesbian fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and erotica—and I’ve enjoyed them all. If I have to choose only one, though, I think I enjoy writing general fiction the most, because there’s a lot more freedom in writing it without any genre rules to follow.

Valden Bush: I’m learning to write with emotion, and I just love creating those feelings in other people with my words.

Lise Gold: I write romance as I’m a romantic at heart and a sucker for a happy ending. My books are always set in exotic places, and I like to start writing them on location so I can soak up the atmosphere, get inspired, and research the setting. It’s the best part of the process 🙂

5) Tell us something about yourself that readers might not already know..

Jeannie Levig: I’ve done volunteer work as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in the foster care system. It involved visiting with the children on a weekly basis and getting to know them, being in communication with their teachers if they were school aged, and reporting to the judge on their behalf on a regular basis so more informed decisions could be made in their best interest by the court. It was challenging and extremely rewarding, and I’d like to write a book at some point with a main character that’s a CASA so more people can learn about it.

Valden Bush: I once showed Prince Charles around a toilet. It was…historical.

Lise Gold: I’m completely obsessed with travel and research, and I have a talent for finding the cheapest flights and the most wonderful affordable places all over the world.

 

LesFic Eclectic: Meet the Authors, part three

It’s day three of our little blog run in the week, which means you’ve only got two more days to wait until you can download our free eBook anthology, LesFic Eclectic. In case you didn’t know, I’m Robyn Nyx, and I’ve been responsible for bringing this project together, including the editing and cover and production design.

So who would you like to read about today? How about Jen Silver, plus new authors, Lee Haven and Rachael Byrne? Well, okay then…

1) Established authors only…What made you want to be involved in this project?

Jen Silver: The initial idea was to produce an anthology of stories written by authors who were at the inaugural European Lesfic Literary Conference held in Bristol in August 2018, with the premise of helping to provide funds for the next ELLCon. I loved the event and wanted to contribute so I started writing a story. When it became clear that there wasn’t going to be another ELLCon, Robyn Nyx (our editor), asked if I would be happy to have my story included in a restyled anthology, broadening the range of contributions to include new and established authors. I thought this was an excellent idea, and I’m also pleased that the anthology is being offered free of charge.

2) New authors only…How excited are you to be involved in this project?

Lee Haven: I’m absolutely honoured to be part of such an amazing project and can’t wait for it to see the light of day.

Rachael Byrne: I’m extremely excited to be part of this project. I think I’m still in shock that my story got picked!

3) What’s your story about and what genre does it fall into?

Lee Haven: The story is set in a private sex club and follows a sex worker on her night off. She introduces a newcomer to the scene and the pleasures of the flesh. It’s erotica but is very much focused on body image.

Jen Silver: My story is called Feathers and was inspired by a statue in the bar of the conference hotel. I’ve described the story’s genre as magical realism with a touch of romance as my main character finds herself attending the conference with a non-binary penguin in tow.

Rachael Byrne: My story is called Home to Stay. It’s an erotic romance and follows the story of the accidental meeting of Jay and Dani. Dani is the Managing Director of a lesbian escort company, and Jay uses the escort service when she’s home from working offshore. Jay’s escort cancels last minute, and Dani steps in with one proviso: it’s just dinner, not sex…

4) What kind of fiction do you like to write and why?

Lee Haven: I like to write romance with some real life problems and real people mixed in. I think everyone should be able to find part of themselves within the romance genre.

Jen Silver: I like to write contemporary romance because those are the kind of stories I want to read.

Rachael Byrne: I love to read romance and erotica, so my natural go-to was to write an erotic novel. I also love butch/ androgynous characters in my Lesfic, so I enjoyed creating Jay, the hot butch I’ve always dreamed about.

5) Tell us something about yourself that readers might not already know…

Lee Haven: I really suck at remembering names and faces, but I’m brilliant at remembering a voice.

Jen Silver: Asked to provide a fact about myself that readers might find interesting is a difficult question for me to answer. I don’t think my life features that many interesting things. One thing though: most people who meet me think I’m a calm, gentle soul. However, once a week I attend a boxercise session and really enjoy pounding the hell out of a punch bag. I’m told I have a powerful right hook…

Rachael Byrne: I review Lesbian fiction on my review website called Les Rêveur! I live and breathe two things; my son and reading lesbian fiction… Maybe next time I answer this question, it will be three things, because writing this short story has stirred a new passion I didn’t know was there!

LesFic Eclectic: Meet the Authors, part two

It’s day two of our little blog run in the week leading up to the release of our free eBook anthology, LesFic Eclectic. In case you didn’t know, I’m Robyn Nyx, and I’ve been responsible for bringing this project together, including the editing and cover and production design.

So who do we have for your reading pleasure today? How about Jenn Matthews, plus new authors, E.V. Bancroft, and AJ Mason? Sounds good to me…

1) Established authors only…What made you want to be involved in this project?

Jenn Matthews: I hadn’t written a short story recently and certainly not one I thought would be good enough to get published. I found one from a while ago, after Robyn asked, and tweaked it slightly, then sent it over!

2) New authors only…How excited are you to be involved in this project?

E.V. Bancroft: Very excited. You hope you can write, you think you can write, but it’s great to have it affirmed. What a great project to be part of. I take my Trilby off to you for organising it.

AJ Mason: Excited and elated! I was so shocked to have my submission accepted. I know what an amazing opportunity it is for an unpublished writer like me to get a story published alongside such well known authors.

3) What’s your story about and what genre does it fall into?

E.V. Bancroft: Bees is a short story about a singer who has fame and adulation, but who finds it hard to have that special connection. I guess it would fall into romance.

Jenn Matthews: It falls into contemporary romance but I’d subgenre it into “comfort/hurt” and “grief.” It’s about Jessie and Laura who, months after losing a baby, find a way to cope with it all one day. In my head it’s a sort of platonic threesome situation.

AJ Mason: It’s just a simple, sweet romantic tale about a woman driving hundreds of miles to spend time with her girlfriend. The catch is that her girlfriend is a genius who loves conspiracy theories, and the latest one is the most challenging yet.

4) What kind of fiction do you like to write and why?

E.V. Bancroft: I like to write literary fiction, for the very simple reason that is what I enjoy reading most. Who knows, I might be tempted to explore other genres.

Jenn Matthews: I like to write lesbian contemporary romance with the element of slow burn. But I have a particularly like writing about invisible people, those with who don’t have their stories told often.

AJ Mason: I write science fiction mostly. I read a lot of it, both classic and new. I love the way it challenges me to look at the world from a different angle and to reflect on the human condition while enjoying fantastical worlds and creatures. I’ve also dabbled in writing some horror, again because it challenges our perspective of reality.

5) Tell us something about yourself that readers might not already know…

E.V. Bancroft: I once took part in an off-road driving competition in the desert in Morocco. The first night we were caught in a thunderstorm that washed away the tracks and created new river beds. That made for interesting navigation.

Jenn Matthews: I just brought home a new puppy. I’m currently standing outside at 2.20am waiting for him to go to the look. I vlog on YouTube too – usually about my writing but also about the fur-kids!

AJ Mason: I shoot precision air pistol. It’s one of the Olympic disciplines and requires high levels of focus and discipline. I spend happy hours just trying to shoot the perfect shot at a card ten meters away. The challenge of it is what keeps me coming back.

 

LesFic Eclectic: Meet the Authors, part one

Hey there, and welcome to our little blog run in the week leading up to the release of our free eBook anthology, LesFic Eclectic. I’m Robyn Nyx, and I’ve been responsible for bringing this project together, including the editing and cover and production design. You’ll also find me between the electronic sheets of this lovely book with my story, Heart Halfway Gone. 

Shall we begin? Let’s kick off our first teaser of the week with Brey WillowsGill McKnight, and Kitty McIntosh.

1) Established authors only…What made you want to be involved in this project?

Brey Willows: I love writing short stories, and it’s a great way to showcase new work or stories you haven’t put out in the world yet. And I loved the idea of being in an anthology with such a great variety of established, new, and aspiring authors.

Gill McKnight: I’ve been a friend of Brey and Robyn for yonks, as so was very pleased to be asked to contribute. Unfortunately, I had no short story to hand, but they were gracious enough to take a slice of my WIP. Love working with you guys.

2) New authors only…How excited are you to be involved in this project?

Kitty McIntosh: I’m extremely excited to be involved in Lesfic Eclectic. It’s such a thrill to be published alongside some amazing established authors and other new authors. I can’t wait to read the other stories.

3) What’s your story about and what genre does it fall into?

Brey Willows: This is a work in progress, and I might turn it into a novel at some point. I wanted to play with gothic tropes (scary house, fog, mysterious folks), and this was my first venture into it. So it’s a subtle, ghosty, romantic-ish story that probably wouldn’t fit anywhere but in this anthology!

Kitty McIntosh: My story is set at the Ellcon Conference in Bristol in 2018. Kerry has some major responsibilities at home making it difficult for her to ever get away. When her best friend steps in as a fairy godmother she is free to go, and finds more than just books and author talks there. It’s a contemporary romance and a sweet love story.

Gill McKnight: I suppose this is General Fiction, in that it’s a pseudo journal about life as a taverna owner in Greece, lesbian style. It depicts the quiet, gentle sway of the days here and then the fun, fast paced party nights.

4) What kind of fiction do you like to write and why?

Brey Willows: I like spec fic. I love otherworldly elements, where characters are pushed out of their comfort zones. That includes dystopian fiction, because those stories push characters out of their comfort zones too. And I like a bit of humor in with my work. Life is too serious as it is.

Kitty McIntosh: I enjoy writing short stories and am now branching into novellas and novels. I love writing romance, erotica, mystery and paranormal/fantasy. I read all of these genres and have been so inspired by some of the great books I’ve read. I want to write my own too.

Gill McKnight: I write whatever catches my imagination, but I am mostly known for Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

5) Tell us something about yourself that readers might not already know…

Brey Willows: There’s not much interesting about me…I’m incredibly clumsy and extremely accident prone. As my mother-in-law says, I could trip over the pattern in a carpet. Oh, and I once ate so much pineapple in Hawaii that I ended up allergic to it for years after.

Kitty McIntosh: I’m a total politics geek, and the famous psephologist Professor Sir John Curtice, who turns up regularly on TV analysing election statistics, was one of my professors at the University of Strathclyde. I am that person who stays up all night watching the results come in for every election!

Gill McKnight: While on holiday here I rescued a 7 week old puppy. I ended up adopting him only to realise my working life as an IT contractor did not fit around owning a dog. This made me reassess my life and I subsequently changed career so I could move into my holiday home in Eressos permanently and live there with Wally (the puppy). That’s how I became a full time writer and part of the Dirt Road Books collective, a dog made me do it.

 

When your life IS the romance novel…

It took the best part of seven years to write my first complete novel. Another three of submissions and rejections from publishers. Then, fate took over. I was working with an LGBTQ youth group in the city when Bold Strokes Books author, Amy Dunne, emailed to tell us about the launch of a book at Waterstones from older LGBTQ people. On top of that, she wanted to let us know about an LGBTQ book festival taking place the following month, also at Waterstones (tickets for the 10th annual festival available here).

I looked it up. Could it really be? The chance to pitch my book to a publishing company dedicated to the voices of LGBTQ authors? And in my home town?

I emailed the person organising the pitch slots (and the whole festival, in fact) and got my slot. I spent the next two weeks on my pitch; writing, re-writing, and writing it again. I spent the morning before the pitch deciding, re-deciding,  and deciding again on my outfit (I went with a black & purple striped shirt and black jeans, should you be interested in that level of detail). I spent the hour before the pitch going, not going, and then going again.

I womanned up and attended. And it’s a damn good job I did. The woman I pitched to was an American (score on the sexy accent). She was beautiful and blonde. And so funny.

I pitched (trying hard to be charming and interesting), I stayed for some of the festival, and I went home and waited.

There are a lot of details I won’t go into here, for lots of different reasons, but that woman became my wife. She’s my soul mate. My world. And we met through words. Through my first novel, Never Enough.

Words can be so incredibly powerful. They can be used for hateful purpose, for the propogating of narrow minded bigotry. And there are so many places all over the world where exactly that is happening.

But words can be full of love, full of promise, full of light. They can lift us. Console and support us. Bring us together. Foster understanding across cultures and perceived difference.

I take comfort in that. In our lesfic community, words bind us. They give us a common purpose. A chosen family (especially important when our own might not have been supportive of our very being). My wife (fellow author, Brey Willows) and I came together through words. We became part of this wonderful lesfic community through words. And on this inaugural blog hop, organised by the amazing Amanda Radley, celebrating words seemed to be the way to go.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Next up in this blog hop:

Read how Petrina Binney started out at a dinner party with friends, and gradually told herself a story about what would have happened if they’d hated each other and resorted to threats over the cheeseboard. Petrina Binney is the author of the Sex, Death and Dinner series, and hopes one day to be notorious for it. If the notoriety could come sooner rather than later, she’d be delighted. www.binneyblog.wordpress.com

Tattoos: what and why…

It’s coming to three years ago when my wife, Brey Willows, told me she had a book in her head; a trilogy actually, the Afterlife Inc., series. The trouble was, whilst she was a pretty prolific writer of short stories, she’d never got beyond thirty thousand words on a novel. She’d tried, but she’d shelved everything when she hit 30k. She told me about Alec, who would be the first Fury sister to be featured, and about her ebony black diamond snake tattoos which would come alive and wreak vengeance. I was hooked, and I told her she had to write it.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “No one will want to publish it, and no one will want to read it.”

“That doesn’t matter,” was my response. “I want to read it.” I wanted her words; I wanted her fabulous Fury fantasy to be on paper. But she needed a little motivation…

My girl loves tattoos. HUGE fan. So I said that if she finished the books, I’d have Alec’s snake tattoo. That was all the motivation she needed, and she got to writing. It was hard but she knocked it out of the park, and five months after that conversation, she was given a contract for it by our wonderful publisher, Bold Strokes Books (and you can buy the whole trilogy from their webstore, starting with Fury’s Bridge and Alectho).

So now I had to fulfil my end of the bargain. All of the tattoos I’d had up to that point were done in the States, and I’d just come back from getting my feather tattoo on my right arm (I designed it to represent Brey and I, and our two very different, but complementary personalities). Brianna was an amazing tattooist and I said that she had to be the one to ink Alec’s snake. Problem is, we weren’t going back to Seattle for another couple of years.

In the meantime, I wrote the first in my Extractor trilogy, and Landry has a tattoo that I designed in my head and wanted on my bod. Around the same time, a friend had some work done to cover her self-harm tattoos by an amazing artist called Harry Townsend, at the Old Forge Tattoo Collective in Sheffield, UK. I was so impressed by the work, and I’d done the design myself, that I decided to give the guy a shot.

I’m glad I did, because his work and line drawing was fantastic, and I started to think that maybe he could do my snake. Anyhoo, fast forward six months and a planned trip to Seattle. Yay, it’s snake time! But Brianna had moved on so I decided to get in touch with Harry to discuss what was in my head and how he could make it come to life.

What you’re seeing above is the result. But this is only the start. I’ve given my whole back to Brey’s words. As she writes a new book, so a primary character will have a tattoo. That tattoo will find its way onto a page and onto my back. At the base of my back will be an open book from which the pages have been torn. It’s going to be EPIC!

Anyhoo, back to the meaning. I’ve only ever had tattoos that resonate, that mean something. I’ve never had the urge to look in a design book or pick something off the wall. I want my tattoos to tell a story of my life. I want to see them and be reminded of my history and my present. I want them to be proof of my love for my wife (who is prone to doubting it, and if you’ve reading my blog, “Listening and Hearing,” you’ll know why). And I don’t give two craps as to what they might look like when I’m seventy—I’ll probably be too blind to see them anyway if current eyesight deterioration is anything to go by!

So, that’s the (very long) story behind the newest addition to my body art. Why do you have tattoos? Thanks for reading 🙂

Listening and hearing…

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week so Brey and I decided to share our story. Not because we’re looking for attention, but because somewhere out there, there could be a person who just might benefit from hearing us be truthful about our experience. To read that they’re not as alone as they might think.

When I met Brey, I thought all my Christmases had come at once. I’d always been a massive Yankophile, and as soon as I heard her voice, I was hooked. Then I saw her and everything else followed suit. How we got together is a long story, and not for this blog, but all you need to know is that it didn’t take me long to fall head over heels, I’d do anything for you, I want to make all your dreams come true, in love.

But there was a problem. Brey had already decided she was checking out of this world. She’d chosen a date. She had a method to escape. She’d picked a place. She’d been methodical in her preparations. A date nowhere near anyone’s birthday, anniversary, or other celebration. A place away from home so home wouldn’t be forever marred with the discovery of her body. A painless method that required no messy clean-up for the people who would be called to the scene.

I’ve been lucky in my life. Almost charmed. I’ve never suffered from mental health issues. My dad has, and still does, but he did the parental thing and never shared his pain and suffering with us as I grew up. Thankfully, he does now, and it’s helped him enormously to have Brey in his life. To share his experience and feelings with her. To feel free of judgement and not have to put on that face that the world expects around us.

But I’m jumping ahead. Let me rewind. I’m an eternal optimist. I’m a glass half-full kind of woman. I love life and all it has to offer. I love colour. I love birds and animals. I love women (though now, just the one). I find delight in the smallest of things, and I wake each morning, glad to be alive and wondering what the day will bring (sure, I’ll give you a minute…here’s a sick bag). When Brey and I smashed together, our worlds collided like a meteor into an already existing crater. Everything changed in that fluffy romantic novel kind of a way. This was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The rest of her life.

Problem was, Brey had already decided before we’d met, that the rest of her life was only going to be another six months (she was waiting until after a particular wedding before she departed). I had a maximum of twenty-six weeks to convince her that life really was worth living, and a life with me would be worth hanging around for.

I’m writing this over three years after that fateful date—which still hangs heavy on our calendar, and every year we do something special to mark what we’ve termed, Brey’s Re-Birthday. The day she chose to give her life another chance. So yes, I convinced her to stick around, and every day I’m thankful for her willingness to make that incredibly brave decision to be open to a different kind of life than she’d been used to.

But Brey’s depression isn’t all about the life she was or is leading. In fact, it has very little to do with that. It’s a black tar, as she calls it, that threatens to pull her down and never relinquish its grip. It’s an angry, vicious, and hateful presence inside her mind that tells her she’s worthless, ugly, and insignificant. It tells her that I’d be better off without her, that I should be with someone far more intelligent, sexier, and thinner than she is. Whether that presence is borne from life, from abuse, from the complex firing or misfiring of synapses in her brain is largely irrelevant. She sought therapy for a good number of years, and her last therapist told her she could no longer help her and sent her away (that therapist should’ve been struck off and never allowed to sit with a vulnerable person ever again). None of it helped.

I tell her every day that she is beautiful, that she’s the sexiest woman in the world, that I feel so lucky to be with her, to have found her, to have this amazing life we share. We play with words as our job and as published authors every day. For me, it can get no better. Some days she hears me. Those moments have increased over the years. But a lot of the time, that tar and that hateful presence is louder than I am. And we all know how hard the bad stuff hits and how easy it is to dismiss the good.

But for Brey, the battle is daily. Yes, she opened her heart and mind to the possibility of a life she thought impossible. Yes, every day she wakes and throws herself into my arms (I’m an early riser and have usually worked two hours before Brey rises from her bed-swamp!). Yes, if you meet her, you’d probably have no idea how hard she has to work to not run away and hide. But still, that depression attacks with merciless abandon. A lovely woo-woo lady, who practically reads your body like a set of Tarot cards when she gives you a massage, told Brey she had to love that part of her that tells her these things. Love it and it will quieten. She’s working on that.

So what about people on the other side of this kind of depression and mental health issue? How do they cope successfully and live with a partner who has to fight for every unhindered breath of a good life? I can only speak to how I handle it, and I’m no expert, but this is how I see it:

1)   I don’t take it personally. It is NOT about me (unless I’m being an asshole, and then some of it might be about me). It’s really easy to think that it is about you. Who reads those Facebook posts that are “anonymous” but directed at someone and immediately thinks, “They’re talking to me” ? When someone is upset in a room and you had a conversation with them three hours ago, who thinks that it was you who probably upset them? It’s human nature. We automatically assume the world revolves around us and our actions, good or bad, egotistically and non-egotistically. I have to park that. Let me say again, it is NOT about me.

2) I’m there. I hear the same things I’ve heard over and over again but every time, I try to hear them with fresh ears. I say the same things. Sometimes she hears them. Sometimes she doesn’t. But she always listens.

3) I make every day the best I can possibly make it. No, it’s not about me or the life I’m providing, but I may as well do my damnedest to make it the best life in the world.

4) When it hurts too much or if I’m struggling to cope, I talk to Brey. I don’t pretend I’m some super hero who’s so strong and like an island and doesn’t need to vent my emotions and feelings. I let them out because otherwise, I fear it might eventually turn to resentment. I don’t think, “She’s not strong enough to hear my pain.” Instead, I think, “We have to share my pain too.”

5)   I love her. I adore her. It’s my life’s mission to show her that she didn’t make a mistake when she chose to stick around and enhance my life. I tell her every day that she’s beautiful. I bring her flowers every week to show her that she’s loved. I stop and make time, no matter what I’m doing. I share myself—all of me. I don’t hold back. I give her everything, good and bad, and she makes me stronger because of that.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and we’re sharing our private and very personal experience because we’re not ashamed. There are hundreds and thousands of people out there suffering every day in silence because nobody listens. That’s all I ask. Listen and hear. Or hear and listen, whichever way that works, do it. When you ask a friend or partner or family member if they’re okay, don’t do it in passing and not really hear the answer. Take the time. Be aware.

To hear Brey’s side of the story, click here.

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