BLOGMAS RECAP!

Before we roll into the new year I just wanted to do a little reflection/recap on #BLOGMAS.

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I actually did it!!!! 25 days, 25 posts- a post a day, everyday!

There were many times I doubted if I would stick to it. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know there are many times I let life sidetrack me from my blogging goals. 

However, this was something I set out to do, to see if I could actually meet the challenge. 

In the beginning, I felt it was pretty easy to post, because I had a few posts already scheduled and ready to go. It was just a matter of checking in on things and then posting to social media. So it was a breeze- then it got harder as I had to post in real time. Every day, I had to set aside time to make sure I could write, edit, and post all in one day. And this is when I realized just how difficult it could be.

With all the holiday things going on- the shopping, the planning, and other things in life like friendships, family, and work, it was difficult to stay on track. Towards the end, I was uploading minutes before midnight! But I made it!

I even blogged ON Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day. I had planned to schedule those ahead of time, but it just got so stressful and so busy, with baking and last minute shopping for the little things. This Christmas was absolutely insane, a lot of traveling around, and it just felt like I was going and going non-stop. I have a new little niece so we had a lot of new special traditions this year. 

So in between all that, I was typing up posts on the go, on my crappy cell phone. Making myself slightly car sick! Lol. Hey, at least you can’t say that’s not dedication! Right? 

Needless to say not only was my cell phone giving me trouble, my laptop decided to die on me too! So in the face of this challenge I had given myself, it felt like there were a lot of obstacles against me. But I pushed past every one. I borrowed my mom’s computer, my aunt’s computer, to continue the journey, I typed notes into my cellphone, I excused myself on Christmas Eve and Day to upload on my brother’s computer, all on minimal hours of sleep and holiday stress. Just so I could prove to myself that I could do this. And I did. Wherever I went I had BLOGMAS on the brain. 

I know it may not be a big deal to some of you reading this, but to me, it’s a huge deal. I often let this blog slide, when I have a lot going on in my life, because it’s my blog, I can pick up whenever or wherever I want. But giving myself a challenge, made me feel like I was  being held accountable for something. Don’t get me wrong I felt rude at times sneaking away to write or sneaking off to work on a post/use someone else’s computer to post. (NOT THAT I USED WITHOUT ASKING PERMISSION, lol, because that would just be rude.) I just mean that I did feel bad doing something for myself in the middle of the holidays where your supposed to be sharing it with others. But it was important to me, and I think they all (or at least I hope they all) understood. I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying time with my family. I did what I had to do for BLOGMAS and shut the computer down and resumed my family time. 

Another thing I had to come to terms with when posting daily, (because I didn’t always have time to plan and pre-write) was that I couldn’t over-analyze my ideas for my posts. I got an idea, if it was feasible in a day, I ran with it. It usually will take me hours to write, edit and post. Especially if it’s a short story. But with BLOGMAS I was in a bit of a constant time crunch. So I had to leave my perfectionism behind. At times it was hard, because I felt like it wasn’t my best work, but BLOGMAS was a learning experience. You don’t have to love what you write, everyday, but writing everyday is great for a writer to do. 

My posts were all Christmas related, which was not my initial intension. But it kind of just happened that way, I guess I was inspired by the season. 

Another thing that was new to me, was posting regularly to my social media websites for this blog during BLOGMAS. In case you didn’t know michelleleighwrites is on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram! Come follow along! I’d love to chat with you! 😉 And as someone who personally doesn’t post to social media everyday, it took some getting used to. But it was a cool experience.

I know I also mentioned this to you guys at some point, how my WordPress account needs updating and I haven’t been able to do that yet, so my photo memory is extremely limited, and so it was a challenge to post without images. I always like to have an image accompany my writing, I feel like it adds a visual aspect. I had to go in and delete images to make room for the few new ones I needed, or work with images I already had. There were many weird obstacles during BLOGMAS, and usually when things like that have happened in the past in life, I would just be like “Oh well, it’s not working, I can’t do it.” But not this time. I set a goal and I met it! I think there was only one day where I posted to social media a few minutes late, but it was posted on the blog, on time, so I was in the clear! Lol. 

It was a long BLOGMAS journey, but it kind of flew by and the more the time passed, the days grew and the numbers on the calendar kept climbing, and I kept posting and it just started to become part of my routine and it started to feel really good. There were times I thought to myself, “I’ve got this,” and there were times where I was like, “Oh no, I’m going to miss my deadline!” But I did it, I posted every day from December 1-25 and I am super proud I was able to commit to it and complete the task I set out to do. For myself, but also for all of you. 

Thank you for reading… (and if you missed any days of the MLW #BLOGMAS series, I will link them all down below for you to browse.)

BLOGMAS -Day 1- Christmas Bucket List

BLOGMAS -Day 2- Christmas Playlist

BLOGMAS -Day 3- Christmas Movie List

BLOGMAS -Day 4- A Broken Heart For Christmas Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 5- My VLOGMAS Favs

BLOGMAS -Day 6- (Mini) VLOGMAS 2016 Update

BLOGMAS -Day 7- Single in Season

BLOGMAS -Day 8- A Christmas Story

BLOGMAS -Day 9- A Christmas Morning Memory

BLOGMAS -Day 10- Winter Wonderland

BLOGMAS -Day 11- The pressure the Holidays put on us

BLOGMAS -Day 12- Snowed Inn Christmas

BLOGMAS -Day 13- “A Husband for Christmas” Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 14- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 2] Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 15- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 3] Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 16- Cynical Shopping

BLOGMAS -Day 17- My Perfect Winter Day

BLOGMAS -Day 18- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 4] Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 19- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 5] Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 20- Give me your Light, Oh Lord.

BLOGMAS -Day 21- Winter [2017] Favorites

BLOGMAS -Day 22- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 6] Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 23- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 7] Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 24- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 8] Short Story

BLOGMAS -Day 25- “A Husband for Christmas” [Part 9] Short Story

 

*STAY TUNED!

My 2017 Highlights/Memory Jar post will be up tomorrow!!! 

Have a very Happy and safe New Year’s Eve and if your feeling the romance tonight- check out some of my New Year’s Eve stories…

Kiss Me At Midnight…A Short Story 

What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

*^ The second is a year after follow-up to the first, it follows the same characters.^*

For Old Times’ Sake

Once again Thanks for reading this year! See you in 2018!

-<3-

BLOGMAS -Day 11- The pressure the Holidays put on us

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Every year I say the same thing. I want to get ahead of the madness. I want to decorate early so that I can enjoy it longer, I want to find the perfect pair of pajamas, the perfect ugly sweater, the perfect dessert recipe. I want to shop for gifts earlier this year and not have to go around crazy rushing the last few days before. And every year I end up a stressed out mess. Some things I wanted to do- I didn’t, and things I didn’t want to happen- happened. 

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not my photo

 

Because in the mist of my already stressful daily life- throw in the holiday chaos and I’m a ball of nerves. 

I did a whole post on this topic last year, titled “Have the holidays become too stressful?” And it’s crazy that every word can still ring true for this year too. 

As I get older, I try to do gifts for everyone and all the kids, and along with being in two other weddings coming up, (one right after Christmas) my funds are kind of low and it’s been kind of tough to budget everything in. At the end of the day I wish I could just focus on the real meaning of this time of year. The birth of Christ. The celebration of love, friendship, and family. A memory of togetherness. You don’t have to put a price tag on any of that.

It’s hard not to let my cynical side out during this time. You see others decorating and buying gift after gift, everything just seems so easy for them. They know how  to get shit done. But I know how Facebook is deceiving. If I were to put a picture of my tree up, it would look all sparkly and pretty, sure. But it wouldn’t show me hounding my dad to bring up the tree from the basement, or me and my mom stringing beads on each branch with tired eyes. You don’t see the stress. But it’s there, for everyone.

There are two sides to me during this time of year- that girl who wants to be- festive af- that’s what all the kids are saying these days, right?- and that girl who gets overwhelmed from all angles and starts to feel run down and anxious. And the latter is just not the best feeling, especially when society tells you- you should be happy. 

Which brings me to my next point- it’s okay to not be ok, during the holidays. It’s ok to feel funky, to feel stressed- or going even further- to feel depressed or sad. For some people the holidays can be really hard. There are people who are grieving a loved one, or who just suffered a terrible heartbreak, or who may be suffering from an illness, or just feeling stressed from work, or some people who may not have jobs at all and are just struggling to make ends meet. Or there may be people who may just be going through something difficult, personally. At times, in life, sometimes when it rains it pours and it could be a combination of a bunch of things that could be hindering one’s Christmas spirit. The truth is, you never know what someone else is going through. 

So no, Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to decorate early, you don’t have to find the perfect gifts for everyone, you don’t have to stress what to wear, or what to bake. Do what you can do, with the means you have, and do it with love. And those who love you will understand you. If not, that’s unfortunate for them. Because yes Christmas is magical, but it’s just another day with the same people and no matter what as long as you are surrounded by the ones you love, celebrating the birthday of our creator, than what more could you really ask for? Materialistic items get shoved in drawers and closets, put in basements, under beds and forgotten about. So why do we put so much weight on it. 

I know it’s hard not to. I know it’s sometimes a comparing game. Well they got me this last year, and I only got them this, so this year I have to do better. Or- they got me 5 gifts, so I have to get them 5 gifts. Tit for tat on Christmas? No thanks. 😉

Every year I stress myself out and in the end- it all comes together. It always does. My last minute shopping forces me to make quicker decisions, my baking gets done, my decorations get put up. Whatever needs to get gone, will get done. Whatever doesn’t, won’t. It’s simple really. So why can’t we live more simplistically? It’s about prioritizing. Truth be told I’m not quite the best at doing so myself. But I’m trying to learn to be better at it. Here’s wishing we all learn to take a deeper look at Christmas for what it really is. A time to celebrate who really put us here. 

Deep breaths friends, we’ll get through this together!

 

Have you guys ever felt stressed during the holidays?

Tell me about it in the comments below!

-<3-

 

 

Riverdale Review

This Summer, I decided to test out the waters and watch The CW’s latest drama- Riverdale. I’m starting to brainstorm ideas for writing my own pilot episode and I was curious what a CW show looks like nowadays. Granted yes, I’ve watched Supergirl, but I feel like superhero shows are in a league of their own.

 

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Left to Right: Veronica, Betty, Josie, Jughead, Cheryl, and Archie.

I grew up watching One Tree Hill and Dawson’s Creek also hosted by the same network- The WB turned The CW. And then there’s also Fox’s The O.C. What do each of these have in common? They were all about young people navigating the ups and downs of love and friendship and just trying to find their way. I needed a new Netflix series so after giving Riverdale’s pilot a watch, it was nice to see that familiar drama still occupying the screen of my favorite network. I was hooked.

If you haven’t seen the first season of Riverdale – beware this post contains SPOILERS!

****SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!****

Riverdale is based on Archie Comics. Now I never read the comics, but I had some loose ideas about them being comedy based. And after asking around a bit, I was told that they are nothing like the dramatic, sexually charged Riverdale. The charcters are the same, but the show definitely sexed it up a lot and took some dramatic, cinematic liberties. The town of Riverdale reminds me of the 70’s. At first I honestly thought the show was set in the 70’s. The old styled cars, the fluorescent lighting in the old fashioned diner with milkshakes and fries, the drive in movie theater. The town is definitely small, but has so much character, in fact if you ask me it’s probably one of the show’s most important characters all on it’s own.

The show opens up with a narration…Jughead Jones narrating and explaining the mystery that floats on the rivers of Riverdale. The death of star football player/student/all around golden boy Jason Blossom looms over their heads as summer comes to a close and school is back in session. Was it an accident or was it murder? And if it was murder? Then who did it? And why? While, his twin sister Cheryl goes around destroying everything in her path in her grieving state. This narration is Jughead telling us the story- we later find out through his words what happened and it becomes clear that Jughead is in deed a writer. Yes, I am instantly invested.

Needless to say that Jughead is played by none other than Disney Channel veteran- Cole Sprouse from The Suit Life of Zack and Cody. And let’s just say… What a hunk! 😉

It’s a bit deceiving, because we think this story is all about Archie Andrews. And yet as we find out more about him, we realize just how unlikeable he actually is. Not only does he reject his best friend Betty Cooper’s love for him, but he starts a secret love affair with his music teacher (#DawsonsCreekVibesAnyone). Also throughout the course of the first season he “dated”, “slept with”, “hung out with” like 4 different girls. Just hopping from one girl to the next, never letting the dust settle. Kind of a man slut, if you ask me, as his best friend Betty got a front row seat. He annoyed me so many times!

Enter Betty Cooper. The perfect best friend, the girl next door. She gets straight A’s, is on the school newspaper, and has a hand in many other school functions. She has been Archie’s best friend since they were kids and has lived next door to him for just as long. We learn of Betty’s feelings for Archie in the very first episode as she sits in her room primping for her end of the summer meet-up with Archie. She hasn’t seen him all summer. Her gay best friend Kevin blurts it out- “We agreed Betty, it’s time,” as they watch Archie change his shirt across the way. “Archie got hot, he’s got abs now, 6 more reasons for you to take that ginger bull by the horns tonight,” Kevin says, as Betty rushes over to see. However, Betty’s excitement is squashed when a new girl named Veronica comes in and interrupts her time with Archie.

Enter Veronica Lodge- the rich girl-turned broke. She’s new to Riverdale and not exactly happy to be here. Her father is in jail for fraud and now she and her mother have relocated to Riverdale. It’s clear within this first season that Veronica’s mom grew up in Riverdale and has a past with the other parents there. In fact all the parents went to high school together and harbor secrets of their own. Everyone in this town is CRAZY! I swear there are some twists and turns that will just shock the hell out of you. The only sane parent is Archie’s dad- Fred Andrews.

Veronica shows interest in Archie early on and Betty gets jealous, claiming to trying to be a better person since losing everything, and wanting to be Betty’s friend. She appears to want to help Betty get with Archie, she helps her get on the cheerleading squad too, which is something Betty has always wanted. However along the road to friendship, Veronica breaks some serious girl code. Cue the love trial. Although there will be more than one this season.

You’ll see some familiar faces, that’s for sure- for instance, Jughead’s dad F.P. Jones is played by Scream’s Skeet Ulrich. While, Archie’s dad Fred is played by 90’s heartthrob Luke Perry (Dylan on 90210) and his mom Mary is played by 80’s movie queen Molly Ringwald. All kinds of YES!

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There’s even a When Calls the Heart actor on board too- Martin Cummins plays Kevin’s dad- Sheriff Keller. I’m pretty sure you can place every actor form this cast from somewhere, so many familiar faces!

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After Betty’s suffers the heartbreak that Archie just doesn’t feel the same way for her, she is thrust into a bit of a family whirl wind- her sister’s crazy…her parents are crazy. Is she crazy? When Betty begins to spiral and question herself, her identity (doing some questionable things throughout this time) it’s not Archie who helps her through it, but Jughead. It’s clear that everyone in this town is linked in some way. As the story unfolds, we learn that Jughead, Archie and Betty all grew up together. Archie being the best friend that linked them all. Although Jughead and Archie had parted ways they begin to be friends again.

As Archie and Veronica show interest in each other from the very beginning, Betty has some trouble being a friend to either of them, until Jughead kisses her that is.

Cue the second love triangle and my Riverdale Ship! #BUGHEAD

Second love triangle you ask? Why yes, because after Archie and Veronica get all hot and heavy- he begins to notice little things happening between his good friends Jughead and Betty. Jughead putting his arm round Betty, and comforting her. He also watches from afar as Betty hugs Jughead lovingly. Yea, we saw that coming from a mile away. Always wanting what he can’t have, that Archie. Well keep it moving ya man slut, your looks are no good here now. Peep that look at 1:03.

Jughead and Betty are ADORABLE! Jughead is a loner, his family is torn apart. Betty becomes his support and in turn he becomes her sanity. They have some of the sweetest moments, and you get to see a different side of him, a tender side. He’s always so sarcastic and keeps to himself but with Betty, he finds a safe place. And we get to see Betty soar, free from harboring feelings for Archie. Fly Betty, Fly! In fact the Archie/Betty/Jughead love triangle reminds me of Dawson’s Creek’s love triangle between Dawson/Joey/Pacey. And yes you guessed it, Jughead is Pacey. 😀

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Here are some clips of the couple-

That first clip gets me every time, I love how he looks at her before he kisses her. Like he’s thinking about it, if you ask me, I think he’s liked her for a long time. That is definitely one of my favorite scenes. That last clip is also one of my favorites- they just had a pretty big fight and then this is their aftermath- she let’s down her walls and he just literally takes her darkness into his hands and kisses it, just being there for her. Brilliant and so so perfect. #Swooning

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Season 2 is sure to bring some serious drama and I won’t be surprised if they attempt to get Archie all fired up for Betty, but to contradict Kevin Keller, I believe Betty and Jughead are endgame. Bughead had some bumps in the road, and some trust issues, but they had some really great moments in the finale. Jughead confessed his love for Betty, while she did they same, taking them into their first sexual scene. I remember being like- *Gasp* Jughead! Betty! I didn’t know you had it in you. They seem so cute and reserved. Haha!

Anyway let’s just say their tryst was cut short, because something scandalous happens which of course throws a wrench in it all. Now that I breezed through Season 1 on Netflix, Welcome to me waiting for Season 2 like…

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Riverdale has it all…drama, teen angst, mystery, suspense, love (a great ship), friendship, writing, singing, and an interesting town!

Fun Fact: Kevin Keller ends up having a romance with this rough around the edges characters named Joaquin DeSantos. Haha that’s my last name, so crazy!

 

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Left: Joaquin, Right: Kevin

Season 2 airs on The CW on Wednesdays @ 8 pm starting October 11, this Fall.

 

*I do not take credit for any images, or videos used.*

-<3-

 

 

 

Michelle Leigh Writes- Short Story Series Collection

Hey guys, I know it’s been a while since I last posted consistently and on schedule. But I’ve been trying to think of something really cool to post and everything I think of just falls flat. But I recently had a cool idea. I’ve featured quite a few Short Story Series on this blog and I thought I’d do one big post including little summaries of each and the links to read them! In case you feel like diving into some dramatic love stories. So please, read at your leisure. 🙂

Mysterious Attraction (12 Chapters-3 parts each)

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Start the series from the beginning- HERE

Summary: Lexie is a power house, a femme fatale with a rather dangerous job description. She is soon forced to balance her need for control with her ever cryptic view on love and happiness. As an overly intense affair comes to light with a handsome yet kind man named Carter. Their attraction and pull strong. Lexie is forced to face some harsh realities about who she is and what she really wants her life to be. Her feelings are growing and it isn’t something she expected. Falling from lust to love with a married man was not part of her plan. What scares her even more…he’s falling back.

A Broken Heart For Christmas (6 Chapters)

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Start the series from the beginning- HERE

Summary: Dean Sanders broke Lucy Michaelson’s heart years ago back in their home town of Oakland Valley, Minnesota. And since then she’s moved on- moved to New York, started her dream career. And so has he, or so they both thought. Everyone knew their story, knew their love was lost. But little does everyone know…there was always more to their story, more than Lucy ever let on. Follow their journey through awkward run ins and past memories- both good and bad. 

Love Conflicted (12 Chapters)

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Start the series from the beginning- HERE

Summary: Maggie is the crisp, clean, girl next door. Always playing it safe, always doing the right thing, risk is not a word she would use in her everyday vocabulary. But when she falls in love with Ricky- a man in the mob, she realizes that life is not always black and white. As danger creeps in, emotions heighten in this thrilling, yet sweet love story.

On The Run (10 Chapters)

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Start the series from the beginning- HERE

Summary: When Sage Renly finds herself running for her life, a mysterious stranger shows up in just the nick of time- Charlie Steinfeld. He becomes her ally and confident against her better judgement. It seems like their connection is unexplainable-almost as if it’s out of their hands.  This is more than your typical two strangers finding each other by chance and falling in love, story. There are dark secrets hidden in the eyes of these characters, and as every mystery goes- there’s always more than what meets the eye.

*Welcome Home (9 Chapters)

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Start the series from the beginning- HERE

Summary: Melanie Evans was so close to having it all, and then tragedy struck. Something that years later she still can’t overcome. There is only one person in the world who can help, who can understand her-Oliver King, her college sweetheart. And yet he is miles away- both literally and figuratively. When Melanie returns to her hometown, old memories stir up old feelings. So many different feelings. Will she be able to get out of her own way to achieve the happiness she’s dreamed of all along? Or will she stay in isolation and despair unable to let go of her painful past.

********

Also I am attempting to dive into a new short story series….I’m still working on the title (I have a bunch of variations that I can’t decide on) but here’s a quick little sneak peek at the summary-

Liam Whitmore is a wealthy business executive who goes through the motions of working in his corporate world day after lousy day, making deals and kicking ass at it. However he often feels uninspired, and unable to do what he really loves. Until one day he meets a younger woman named Aria Lenz, struggling to become a dancer. Her simplistic yet driven nature strikes up a spark of inspiration in him, and he makes it his mission to get to know her. Little does he know, it’ll be the hardest “transaction” he’s ever had to make. They’re worlds apart- will he finally get through to her, or will his fire fizzle?

*I do not take credit for any images used in my edits.*

*All short stories are of my own written content.*

-<3-

 

 

 

Scatter Brain

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I recently have been feeling like I have a lot of things going on and I’m getting overwhelmed.

I know what else is new? Right? 

But I’m stuck.

It’s that time of year where it’s getting hotter. I work closely with the school system, so it’s nearing summer break and all the kids are starting to lag and slow down and I feel by some extension that I am too.

There is this improvement list I keep thinking about.

Things I want to do and be better at, for myself-my career, my health, for my students, for my family, for my friends…

I teach 5 different creative activities and although it was my choice, I feel like I’m not doing as well as I hoped. I always have this vision and then it gets crazy and scattered and I end up scrambling in the last weeks.

And yet I am still also needed in a lot of other areas in my life- I’m in three more weddings- two of which I am maid of honor for, I’m going to be a Titi (An Aunt) in the fall I’m going to have a niece! And I’m planning for family occasions that keep popping up…the list always has something new added.

So I feel like I’m trying to be everything to everyone and still tryin to have some sort of social life and make time for myself. 

My relationships in my life with family and friends are everything to me.

And I want to show up for everyone… for everything.

And lately, I just feel kind of all over the place, and pulled in many directions.

I feel like I’m dropping the ball, and I don’t know what to do.

To the point where I just want to throw myself on my bed and sleep to forget it all.

I’ve been going and going since what feels like forever, and I’m still going.

I don’t know how to get over this bump in the road.

There is so much I want to do for myself, and I feel like my career has been put on hold for so long, and I know that it is my fault.

But I’ve made strides to better my situation in the past and I feel like now I’m just stuck and safe.

I get worried that my dream of being a writer will never happen for me.

I know I have to push myself, and when I lack motivation, I need to learn to push past it.

But it’s difficult. For sure.

I don’t know where to start.

How to change.

I’m always buying, and doing for something else, that it’s easy for me to forget or slack on going after what I really want for myself.

I need to learn how to prioritize.

I need to learn how to use my time wisely.

I need to plan accordingly and not let myself get stuck in my comfort zone.

I need to realize that the change is within me, and no one else.

I can’t keep saying I’m stressed and overwhelmed and then just shut down.

Because what good is that then?

I can’t just keep going through the everyday routine without any progress or change.

But I don’t know how to do that.

And this is not a “feel bad for me” post, this is literally my way of trying to sort this mess out.

I know I will, I’ve done so in the past.

One day things just clicked and did what I had to do even though it was scary…even though it was hard.

So I’m hoping I get my click into place day soon.

Thanks for letting me vent, friends.

And if you can relate, tell me in the comments how you push past that feeling stuck feeling!

XO

Michelle

 

*I do not take credit for the image used.*

-<3-

 

 

 

 

Welcome Home-Author’s Commentary

DISCLAIMER: Welcome Home is not a real motion picture nor does it have a soundtrack coming out. This is just me living in my fictional happy writer’s world. Where I pretend and where I run the show. Haha. Back in college whenever I would hand in a script or be working with already written material/feature film scenes, my professor would ask me who I would have play the characters, where would it take place, what location? And so I think that kind of stuck with me, because as I write each of my short story series here on this blog, I want to include those aspects and give you a visual experience. Mysterious Attraction was my first shot at it, A Broken Heart For Christmas, and Love Conflicted followed, and most recently On The Run.

As a kid I used to say “Make Pretend” all the time. Make Pretend you’re a princess who slays dragons. Make pretend you’re a ballerina who bull rides. Make pretend you’re writing a screenplay and you get to pick the actors, and release a soundtrack and commentary that people have been anxiously awaiting. The options could be endless. So let’s “Make Pretend.” Enjoy!

I just re-read Welcome Home, in preparation for this post, and I have to admit, I was really happy with this short story series. It felt more structured and concise.

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Background:

Welcome Home premiered on Thursday, December 15th, 2016. It was a small string of random thoughts and characters I just had to get out! The story continued pretty consistently until Thursday, March 16th. Overall the story was featured on Thursdays here on michelle leigh writes for a span of about 3 months.

OFFICAL FULL CAST PROMOTIONAL PHOTO RELEASED 😉

Cast poster

 

Dream Casting:

Melanie Evans portrayed by Shantel VanSanten

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I fell in love with Shantel when she played Quinn James on One Tree Hill. I think she had this purity about her acting and she is such a natural beauty. She also does sassy comedy really well too. I really thought she would bring someone like my character Melanie to life.

Oliver King portrayed by Jason Thompson

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I don’t know where to start with this guy. I adore him. I fell in love with Jason when he played Dr. Patrick Drake alongside love interest Dr. Robin Scorpio (Turned Drake) on General Hospital. He is such a brilliant actor, I am still flabbergasted that he hasn’t won an Emmy yet. He puts his heart out there and he is so believable. Put him in a scene with anyone and you can see how he elevates the material in his acting choices. How he interacts with them, and uses his body language to convey a believable relationship. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve rewatched him and Kimberly McCullough’s (Robin) many scenes together from General Hospital as they displayed quite the love story. So freaking amazing!

Supporting Roles:

Cassie portrayed by Hilary Duff

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Hilary Duff, what can I say? Loved her since Lizzie McGuire. And that show basically shaped my childhood. She was one of my idols growing up. And she holds such a special place in my heart. She has grown into such an incredible feisty actress and you can tell that she’s done so in a really classy way. The way she handles the more mature topics of life on her new hit show Younger with comedy and sass, is just so damn good. So I knew that she could be the perfect face for Cassie- the sassy, bold, tell it like it is best friend. You know me and how my best friend roles are always sassy!

Dave portrayed by Derek Hough

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I had Duff in my head and I knew Cassie would soon need a love interest too and in pairing her with someone, Hough seemed like such perfect fit visually. I love Derek Hough, I have swooned over him on Dancing with the Stars so many times. I’m sad he’s not on this season. He is such a huge talent and inspiration. I would love to see him featured in more films throughout his career! Hey Derek- I’ll have my people call your people! 😉

Molly King portrayed by Brooklyn Rae Silzer

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This kind of happened by accident. If you know Jason Thompson as Patrick Drake, then you know that he and Robin have a daughter named Emma. Brooklyn plays the role of Emma. And when it came to editing pictures of a child with Thompson and Van Santen, I just thought it seemed completely obvious to have Brooklyn be viewed as Melanie and Oliver’s daughter Molly. She is such big talent! She is sassy and sweet and is sure to grow up to be a huge name! Just like McCullough did! She started her career as a kid on General Hospital.

Aspects I Really Liked:

Reading it back, I was really happy with the way there was some foreshadowing and reveals throughout the story’s unfolding.

For example…

Throughout the whole first few chapters you don’t know what happened between Melanie and Oliver. We never know why they broke up. We know they were engaged, we know they had a past and that they haven’t really seen or spoken to each other in a few years. I like how it keeps you guessing, until he says it- they loss their baby.

I also like how you don’t really know if she’s pregnant again, you expect it, but then she looks at the test and cries at the end of the chapter which can make it go either way. And then at the beginning of the following chapter we start with a funeral type scene and it makes you think she lost another child. Soon you find out it was a flashback to Cody’s memorial. And then we time jump into a new life with Melanie and Oliver and their new baby girl.

I think the foreshadowing worked nicely and kept the suspense going. I’ve said it many times, I write these short story series as if they were a movie, and so these types of foreshadowing, flashbacks, jump cuts would work well I think.

I also thought that I was able to portray bits of their lives, pasts, careers, etc, throughout the story. So often I feel like you have to give it all in the beginning, but I realized that doesn’t work either. You have to disperse the information little by little, when needed. So what I tried to do this series is implement backstory when it made most sense. For example, through conversations we find out that Melanie is a writer and Oliver is a photographer. Melanie’s writing has suffered since her tragedy so we don’t see her writing. Oliver is said to be snapping pictures now and then. I don’t think these things have to be super prominent as long as there are mentions, we get the gist. The story is bigger than this.

We also find out how they met in college through Oliver’s best man and Melanie’s maid of honor speeches. I really love that story Oliver tells, it serves a lot of purpose to the story, and to the relationships within it- Cassie/Dave and Oliver/Melanie. I love love love it! You can just see the scene of how they all met play out in your head.

I really love how we finally get the story of how Melanie and Oliver broke up, as she reads the first passage of her book “Operation Forever,” at her first book signing. We never really knew how she left, and this was my way of answering that question without actually having to force a flashback. Her book title, is a bit of an Easter egg and ode to their little discussion when they got engaged.

“I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel real, ya know. To be this in love.” She says smiling brightly up at him through watery eyes.

“Yea I know the feeling. I guess we’re just going to have to get used to the fact that we’re stuck with each other, forever. It’s all a part of my evil plan.”

“Ah, I see. Operation forever.”

“Something like that. But I’m sure we could think of a better name than that.”

“What- why I like it.”

“Well if you like it, then I like it.”

Flashbacks however are utilized when needed, and they are brought on by familiar moments-déjà vu, or scenery from her home town. The first Chapter we see her have a flashback to she and Oliver in their own apartment, engaged, during happier times. And it is brought on by watching her reflection as she puts on some lip-gloss- a menial task she’s done many times in front of him as he would watch and admire.

Then throughout her home coming she is catapulted into many memories, memories she’s tried to stay away from. She sees their names carved in her front porch, and remembers the first time he told her he loved her and that he wants to be with her forever. At home in her living room, in front of the fireplace, she has a flashback of them making love, walking through town she sits in the gazebo and remembers when he asked her to marry him. All of these things make her feel and in turn make us feel because we see how much these two people love each other. And how painful it is for them to not be together. But I also really love that these flashbacks were placed well, within reason, and were brought on by her familiar surroundings.

Through more conversations we see how close they really wore, how they had the same friends, how her family took him in and welcomed him on school breaks, how he knew her bedroom pretty well and they “broke some house rules” every now and then as teens. 😉 Oliver even makes mention to the fact that he will “crawl into her window” at night if he has too, which makes us realize this was something he may or may not have done as a young teen in love. Oliver bakes her, her favorite sugar cookies and knows her obsession with New Kids On The Block. He knows her mom’s cooking and how they go all out for holidays. There is so much history there between these two and you don’t have to see their whole relationship to know that.

“What?”  “Nothing.”

This is something I revisit this dialogue exchange a lot throughout the story, and their relationship. A lot of the times it’s Melanie who catches Oliver watching her and says What? And in turn he says Nothing. It’s a bit of a flirtation and a cute game for them. And it resurfaces a few times between them. Even at the end, when it’s reversed and Oliver realizes how annoying it can actually be. Lol.

Timeline:

Speaking of Holidays, I think I was inspired by them when I wrote this. I had written a good portion of the first chapter or so, before I posted and so I was in a family holiday mood. So I took that inspiration and the holidays kind of built my timeline. We Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. There are certainly time jumps in here too, but I think that’s only natural, for this kind of coming home, and coming into your own skin story. We need to jump around so we can see the characters grow and learn to better themselves.

Slideshow Feature:

I also think utilizing the slideshow feature in the last chapter was my way of showing their lives together and the things you missed. (Yes, I know some of my edits are super crappy and bad, but I tried, haha.) This tactic helped me fill in some blanks. In my head I just saw the scene playing as if it were in a movie- a time jump and then a happy family at home, as you see pictures of their lives together dress their walls. Their child growing throughout the years along with their love. Notice most of the pictures look professional, because you know Oliver King was like Um excuse I will be taking all my daughter’s professional pictures, thank you. Haha. Did you spot those Paris pics? – Another little Easter egg to show he actually took her like he wanted to.

“God I’ve missed this town.” Oliver says smiling looking around.

“Missed it? I thought that you were living here?”

“I was. For a long time. I still have a place here. But work kinda takes me all around nowadays. I’m kind of a nomad.”

“I see. Traveling must be nice though.”

“It is. It’s really amazing Mel. I’ve been to Ireland, Italy, and France, I stayed at this little bed and breakfast in Paris, the couple that ran it were two of the sweetest people, and every morning they would make me blueberry waffles, sausage and bacon. And my room, it overlooked this little lake, it was breathtaking. You would have loved it.”

“I’m sure I would have,” she says smiling up at him.

“Maybe one of these days, you’ll let me take you there.”

“Maybe.” She says looking away, fidgeting with the cup in her hands.

“Always forgetting your gloves.” He says noticing and smirking at her.

Within the slideshow we also see an image of Baby Boy Cody’s sonogram which means he is still part of them and their family which was important for me to show, because that loss was such a big part of their lives, their love and this story. And I love that they each have Cody tattoos, they got separately, to honor their son. It shows they think alike.

Love Scenes:

I back tracked and looked at what I wrote for my last short story series- On The Run, and when it came to writing love scenes, this is what I wrote… [One of these days, I won’t blush while writing a love scene. I won’t hide in a corner shielding my computer screen from curious eyes. I won’t feel ashamed of what I’m writing. I find that when I write a love scene, I continuously edit myself. What if a family member of mine reads this? Oh my god what will they think? The people in my life have a certain perspective of me. I’m a pretty reserved personality, and so writing these scenes would be something they wouldn’t even think I do, or can do. So there’s a barrier there for sure and I feel like I need to work on being more free and not so constrained and worried about what people will think. If anything hopefully they can just realize that what I’m trying to do by writing these scenes, is to craft a beautiful love story.] In many ways this still applies, I need to work on this and I definitely still edited myself a lot this series. I had written much more juicer material, but I wanted it to read with a certain tenderness and I felt that would get lost in the lust factor, so I edited it. However, I do still think I am getting better at writing love scenes, because even reading the love scene back today, I was surprised I left certain things in. With that being said though, I still think it reads the way I wanted it to be read, a couple so in love they can’t contain it. I don’t think it reached a trashy point.

Themes:

Coming Home/Finding Home, Family, Friendship, Hope, Loyalty, Heart, Unconditional Love, Forever, Fear, Creativity, Soulmates, Heart vs. Head, Overcoming Obstacles, Tragedy.

As you read this series any of these themes can pop into your mind, Melanie is so torn. She has the whole world at her feet, family and friends waiting to support her, her dream career in her grasp, a man so in love with her he’d wait forever for her, but yet the heartache of losing her child years ago force her into a stubborn isolation. She had a lot of soul searching to do, that unfortunately she needed to do on her own.

Oliver is her ray of light, her hope, he loves her unconditionally and he is not willing to let her sit in that dark black hole of isolation for too long. However, you can see that he knows how he has to play this. He can’t just pounce. She’s already used to running, and she will continue if anyone makes any sudden movements. So you see him pull back here and there. He knows when she needs to walk away. And it baffles Melanie that he could be that understanding. He’s pretty perfect. But not without his faults, he is human. There are moments where you see him falter. We see him not be so understanding, but in the same breath he takes on the blame, so that she doesn’t have to, and even then Melanie pulls away because she can’t comprehend his unwavering love.

It isn’t until he backs off completely that she realizes she needs him. When she finds out she is pregnant with another one of their children. And when she actually chooses to include him in what is going on. Once she finally admits she needs him not only to him, but to herself, the whole story kind of becomes well rounded. Things are full circle and all the stress is forgotten as they embark on their journey together. Because he was never going to give up on her, he just needed her to come to him.

the gang

Friendship is always a factor in my stories, there are always the supporting roles- the best friends, because I think our main characters need somewhere to go and vent. I think I would have liked to explore some more conversations between Oliver and Dave. Now that I think about it I’m sure Oliver would vent at times. How could he not! Melanie drove him crazy! And Dave was part of the whole reason why Melanie and Oliver met in the first place, he knew their story. I think friendship is always such a strong consistent theme in my stories, because it’s a strong theme in my life. I have a core group of friends who I go to with everything. I have a best friend, I’ve known since kindergarten, hence the childhood best friend inspiration. #CassieAndMelanie.

Character Building:

I feel like it’s easy to relate to both Oliver and Melanie. There’s a push and pull between them. They have so much love and attraction between them. And unlike my last short story series On The Run, these two didn’t just meet, they’ve known each other for many years. They have a really heavy past and they know things about each other that form a very sexy, real, loyal bond.

It’s easy to hate on Melanie, I think. She left. She ran. And continues to do so for the better part of the series. She wasn’t there for the man she loved. When he obviously continuously put her first. It’s definitely a frustrating concept. She even lets Oliver think they are getting back together after what happened between them on Christmas. But there is this really complex nature about her that I hope is displayed to the audience. I wanted her to be conflicted. She didn’t run because of Oliver, she ran because of herself. Because she wasn’t herself. Because she was worried she wouldn’t be able to give him what he deserved; a family. She knows what she’s doing, she knows she’s hurting him- she admits it, but she can’t help it, because of the pain that weighs on her heart.

So in that sense, I feel like you can put yourself in her shoes, and understand why she has been acting the way she has. It’s not that she doesn’t love him. She does, but she’s caught between that and her pain. She pushes him away because she can’t handle reliving it.

Oliver has a really beautiful evolution I think. I really love his character. And I think if this were ever made into a real short film, Jason Thompson would kill this role! There’s this intense vulnerability in Oliver. He loves with everything in him. He’s made up his mind about Melanie a long time ago, it’s just he’s waiting to make his moves.

“You’re my forever, plain and simple.”

He lets her run, he lets her have her time. But he is always there if she needs him… when she needs him. And after years he still held onto that love and that loyalty. As I said he seems pretty perfect, but he’s not without his faults. And eventually he reaches a point where he tells Melanie that he can’t do it anymore, but even though she believes it, he knows it was just another tactic on his part. A heat of the moment type of thing.

“You’ve been kind of distant today, I guess I understand, but I have to admit, I am surprised.”

“I’ve learned to let you come to me. I figured if I kept my distance long enough you might miss me,” he says smiling.

Oliver has a lighter heart, he tries to make Melanie smile, and remember the good. He doesn’t dwell on the negative. With that being said, it’s not that Melanie’s miscarriage didn’t affect him. It did, but he chose to take his pain into his own hands and get the help he needed, and in doing so he was able to understand things from Melanie’s perspective. He even states that he knows it’s more difficult for a woman, she physically experiences the loss. Oliver remains strong and lets her lean on him, and that’s why we never see exactly how he handled it, but we know what he had to do to handle it. The story isn’t about his pain, it’s about theirs and how he will love her through hers no matter how much she pushes him away or how long he has to wait.

The main themes of love, hope, loyalty, friendship stem from everything these two people in love have between them. It’s everything they are. It’s a forever love story that can withstand all the pain and distance life throws their way. It’s a story about coming home, finding home, not just in a place, but in someone else’s heart.

Description/Imagery:

In my last Author’s Commentary (which was for On The Run), I wrote BE MORE DESCRIPTIVE! And reading Welcome Home back, I feel like I listened. The story is set mostly during the holiday season in a small town in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You get a feel for the holidays by the scenery description of her childhood home and her walks through town.

What Needs Work:

I can always work on description, even though I’m improving. Timeline, is always tricky for me. I feel like you can get lost in time jumps and life events, and school years, and misjudge years. But hopefully I did ok, in this one. I will keep better track of this next time! As well as continue to learn about writing effective love scenes that fit the love between two charcters.

Final Comments:

I’m really proud of this short story. I think it was more thought out, and paced nicely. It ran here on michelle leigh writes for 3 months, and my posting schedule was pretty consistent. I feel like it was the most consistent of any of the short stories I’ve written. Let’s dive in and show you what I mean…

Chapter 1- posted on Thursday, Dec. 15th, 2016

Chapter 2- posted on Thursday, Jan. 5th, 2017

Chapter 3- posted on Thursday, Jan. 12th, 2017

Chapter 4- posted on Thursday, Jan. 19th, 2017

Chapter 5- posted on Thursday, Jan. 26th, 2017

Chapter 6- posted on Thursday, Feb. 2nd, 2017

Chapter 7- posted on Thursday, Feb. 9th, 2017

Chapter 8- posted on Thursday, Mar. 2nd, 2017

Chapter 9- posted on Thursday, Mar. 16th, 2017

I kept to posting on Thursday, this way to allow other categories time on my blog and not saturate it with one thing. I posted consistently one chapter a week for the better part of the series, give or take a few which even then the longest break was no more than 3 weeks.

In other words, I think I’m slowly conquering the dreaded hiatus drama! Hallelujah!

So there you have it, my in depth Author’s Commentary.

Welcome Home Says Goodbye.

JK…Stay Tuned for a separate Soundtrack post…COMING SOON!

Thank you for reading!

Catch up on Welcome Home from the beginning HERE

And get a sneak peek at my next short story series HERE

*I do not take credit for any images used in my edits or otherwise.*

-<3-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Halloween Party

halloween-partyMeet Maddie                                                                   Meet Jared

Maddie lies in bed as her cellphone alarm rings in her ear, willing her to wake.

She groans and reaches for it, knocking it off her end table as it falls, sliding further away.

“Ughhh,” she says as she grabs her pillow putting it over her head, trying to hide from the cruel reality of the morning world.

Her dorm room door burst open a few seconds later.

“HAPPY HALL-O-WEEN!!!!” her roommate Kim screams in a sing song way, her curly blonde hair bouncing as she jumps onto Maddie’s bed, causing a disruption in her comfort zone of white soft blankets and pillows.

“NO!” Maddie answers turning over and away as she hides under the covers.

“Oh come on! I thought you said this was one of your favorite holidays. Only 12 hours until all the parties start happening!”

“Correction- Halloween used to be one of my favorite holidays, (she says sitting up in a huff.) But have you forgotten how my boyfriend just broke up with me last week, – he was the other half of my costume, how can I be Raggedy Ann without an Andy?”

“Ok yes, Vinny sucks for breaking up with you. But there is an easy fix to your costume problem, honey. Buy a new one.”

“What am I made of money…?”

“Return the other, duh? Come on… get your ass in the shower, I’m coming back in a half hour and I expect you to look alive!” Kim says as she glides out of the room in an exaggerated way, her arms afloat in a fairy stance.

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

Thankful for the dim lighting, Maddie drags her feet and walks into her dorm suite living area/kitchen where Kim sits eating a bowl of cereal.

“Hallelujah!” Kim sings out, throwing her hands up in the air, as her brown eyes sparkle with sarcasm.

Maddie groans as she shuffles over to the seat next to Kim, Kim smiles and slides a mug of already poured coffee over to her.  The hazelnut scent dancing in the air, creating happy thoughts in her mind.

Maddie grabs it and takes a sip.

“Ah.”

“I made a damn good pot today, right?”

Kim nods.

“Thank you. I need this.”

“So…I figured we’d just go to the mall, it has the Halloween store in it and then if we need any extra odds and ends we’ll just shop around.”

“Do we have to? Can’t I just stay home? I won’t be any fun tonight anyway.”

“No, you are not allowed to sulk.”

“I am not sulking, I’m just-“

“Sulking,” Kim says nodding with wide eyes.

Just then their suite door flies open with little warning, as a sandy brown haired, blue eyed boy saunters his way in, like he owns the place.

“Who’s sulking?” Jared says as he makes a straight line to  Maddie and grabs her cup of coffee to take a sip.

“Do not. even. I will cut you.”

Jared looks at her and puts the cup back down slowly as he holds his hands up in surrender.

“Damn girl, okay.” he says his eyes sparkling, as a smirk plays on his lips.

“Excuse her, she’s a bit testy,” Kim says chiming in on the quarrel.

“Still Vinny?”

“Still Vinny.”

“Can we just…drop it, ok?”

Maddie and Jared exchange looks of sympathy.

“Look I get this whole thing with Vinny has been hard on you, but he’s been out living his life all week, he’s not hauled up in bed, ignoring his friends and favorite holidays,” Maddie says.

“That’s because he’s a dick face who doesn’t care about the fact that he literally ripped my heart out of my chest only a week ago.”

“He is a dick face. Such a dick face. Anger. Phase 2. Yes. FINALLY!” Jared says as Maddie laughs and Kim high fives him.

Jared and Kim look over at Maddie in shock.

“I’m sorry was that a laugh?” Jared says walking behind Maddie.

Kim looks of smiling.

“No. You’re hearing things.”

“I think that was a laugh. You heard it right?” he says looking at Kim.

“Oh, loud and clear.”

Jared starts tickling Maddie’s waist and she starts laughing uncontrollably.

He stops and looks at her.

“There she goes.”

“What are you talking about?” Maddie says turning to look at him.

“My girl’s back.”

Maddie smiles simply.

“You love Halloween, don’t let one asshole guy ruin that. Let’s head to the mall, get killer costumes and have fun!” Kim says draping an arm over her best friend’s shoulders.

“Ok. Fine. But don’t you dare try and get me to wear anything short and slutty,” Maddie says her eyes rolling over to glare at Kim.

“I would not mind that,” Jared says off in a daze of day dreams and fantasies.

Maddie slaps him in the chest.

Jared winces.

“What!” he says with a smirk.

“Deal,” Kim laughs as she throws Maddie a jacket.

Kim and Maddie start to leave their suite and turn back to Jared.

“Hey, you coming?” Maddie says.

“Yes. As long as you don’t keep hitting me.”

“I’ll try.”

“Try harder.”

The three walk out, as Maddie laughs and turns to Jared.

“Oh poor baby did I hurt you?”

“A little.”

“I’m sorry.”

Jared smirks and points to his cheek.

Maddie rolls her eyes and kisses it swiftly.

Kim notices and smiles as she starts to walk ahead.

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

“Come on out!” Kim shouts from outside the dressing room as she and Jared wait to see Maddie’s new costume choice.

“No!”

“Yes, Please.”

“No. I told you I didn’t want this type of costume.”

“You said nothing slutty, it’s not slutty at all!”

“I can’t pull this off,” Maddie mumbles.

“Oh come on out, and stop being such a brat!” Jared says jokingly.

Maddie groans and opens the door as she stands there in a pair of tight leather pants, a cropped black top, a leather jacket and combat boots.

Jared’s eyes go wide and his jaw drops.

Kim smiles.

“Hell yes! You look hot!” Kim says.

“No.”

“Yes.” Jared says not meaning to speak out loud.

Maddie and Kim look at him surprised by his outburst.

“I mean (he coughs) it looks good- on you- you look great.”

Kim watches in pure happiness.

Maddie turns to look at herself in the mirror.

Jared leans over to Kim.

“Thanks for the help on that one.”

“Hey buddy that was all you and way too much fun to watch.”

Maddie turns back around.

“You guys I cannot wear this,” she says trying to pull her crop down and her pants up, to cover her stomach.

Jared’s eyes are glued.

“Maddie. You look amazing. The biker chick look works for you. Some red lips and black nails and you are gold,” Kim says.

“I don’t know,” she says looking at herself again, cloaked in insecurities.

“Go for it.” Kim says whispering and hip bumping her friend.

“Ugh. Fine. What the hell, they say looking good is the best revenge right?”

“True.”

“Are you sure it looks good though…Jared? Be honest.”

Jared snaps out of it when he hears his name.

“Yes. Yea. I honestly I have no words for how good you look.”

“Really?” Maddie smiles looking down.

“Really.”

“See it’s perfect, go change out of it, we’ll be on line.” Kim says walking off with Jared.

Jared looks back at Maddie as his eyes look her over.

Maddie looks at herself in the mirror once more before walking into the dressing room.

Kim looks at Jared and laughs.

“What?”

“How transparent can you be?” she says.

“Really? Am I that obvious? Do you think she knows?”

“No. Lucky for you, she’s just as oblivious to receiving flirtation signals as you are to providing them. Hell you’d be a match made in heaven.”

“Ya think?” Jared says his smile dopey.

“I actually do think you’d be good together. You’re a good guy, and you care about her. She deserves that.”

“I don’t think she sees me that way though.”

“Won’t know until you try. And what a better place to do so than at a party!” Kim says her says widening and her mouth dropping like she just won the lottery of obvious ideas.

“Tonight? What? No. It’s too soon. She’s still got Vinny brain and I don’t want to be a rebound.”

“Vinny wasn’t that serious of a thing, let’s be real it’s not like she was in love with the guy.”

“I don’t know. I can’t.”

“Okay. Fine. I hope you have fun watching guy after guy after guy after guy hit on her, because looking like she does in that outfit, there’s no way you’ll be able to avoid that.”

Jared looks away pondering.

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

Kim walks into Maddie’s room dressed in her costume, just as she is putting her red lipstick on. 

Maddie sees her in the mirror and turns, “I love it!” she says looking at Kim who twirls around showing off her leather kitten costume.

“Thank you very much! Are you almost ready?”

“Yea, pretty much. I just thought we were waiting on Jared.”

“Ugh, nope. He had to do a beer run. He said he’d meet us there.”

“Oh ok. Cool.” Maddie looks in the mirror once more, fluffs her curly hair and smacks her lips together and out she goes following Kim into the hall.

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

Kim knocks on the off campus apartment door and a fellow college friend opens the door greeting them with a smirk.

“Ladies! Hey, you look great, come on in, grab a drink!”

Kim and Maddie smile and walk in as another guy hands them each a drink.

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

Maddie looks over at the clock. 9:50 PM. It hasn’t even been an hour. She stands leaning against a wall with a drink in her hand. She looks around as a sea of costumes and red cups fill the scene. Off to the side she watches as Kim chats up with some hot guy dressed as a Werewolf. Kim laughs as she flips her hair.

Jared walks into the party he fist bump the host and hands him a few cases of beer.

“Thanks brother, you’re lifesaver.”

He looks around his eyes surveying the scene, looking for one specific brunette, on specific set of green eyes… there she is, he thinks, his path promised as he walks toward Maddie.

“Well hey there little lady, I reckon, those two would have quite some hairy children.”

Maddie looks over and laughs.

“A cowboy. It suits you. I like it.”

“Thank you ma’am.” he says tipping his hat.

“Are you going to talk like that all night?”

“Maybe,” he says keeping the southern twang intact.

Maddie laughs.

“Maddie you look-freaking amazing.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Like Y-e-s with a capital Y and an exclamation point at the end for emphasis.”

Maddie blushes and laughs, pushing him away.

Jared places his hand over hers as it lays on his chest, close to his heart.

They both lock eyes- Blue and Green dancing for a beat.

“So… (looking away) what- Kim left you high and dry?” Jared says letting her go and leaning against the wall next to her.

“Not really, I told her to go mingle. I’m just-I was-“

“Waiting for me to come and save you?”

“Exactly,” she laughs smiling.

Jared looks over at her, his eyes wandering.

Maddie notices.

“What?”

Jared fumbles noticing he’s been caught.

“Nothing. You want another drink?”

“Sure,” she says handing him her cup as he walks off, Maddie smiles nervously to herself.

As Maddie watches Jared walk over to a keg and get roped into a conversations with some friends, she rushes over to Kim.

“I’m sorry can I borrow her for just one quick second?” Maddie says to Kim’s latest conquest.

The guy nods with a smile, “I’ll be just a minute,” Kim says smiling and walking off to the side with Maddie.

“I’m sorry but I really need to talk to you.”

“Oh my god, are you kidding, of course, what’s up? Are you ok?”

“I think Jared might be flirting with me.”

Kim laughs.

“I’m serious.”

“Oh sweetie, my flirtatiously challenged friend. He is flirting with you.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Welcome to the party.”

“Oh my god, so he likes me?”

“Yes. It’s really not news anymore at this point, everybody knows.”

“I didn’t know.”

“That’s because you’re oblivious.”

“I think I might like him too.”

Kim’s eyes widen.

“Now that’s new! Really?”

“I don’t know. I think. I mean I’ve never really thought of him like that before.”

“Well think about it now. Are you attracted to him? Does he do it for you?”

“Ah. Oh my god. I can’t do this.”

“Ok look. I’m not going to tell you what I think about this, because I don’t want to put anything in your head. Ride out the rest of the night. Spend some alone time with him, feel it out. If the spark is there, it’s there, you’ll feel it. If not, he’ll always be your friend.”

“Do butterflies count as sparks? Because I gotta say there are some serious butterflies going on right now.”

“You bet your ass they count.” Kim says smiling, “Now go!”

Maddie smiles and walks toward where Jared is with the guys.

Jared sees her and smiles, excusing himself he walks over to her.

“Hey sorry, I kind of got caught up in a bit of a who’s the scariest villain debate?” he says handing her a drink.

“Thanks….that’s easy Freddy Krueger, hands down,” Maddie says.

Jared looks at her and smiles.

“That’s what I said.”

Maddie smiles.

“Hey Maddie, there’s something I’d really like to talk to you about…do you wanna maybe take a walk?”

“Yea-I-Oh no Vinny…”

“What?” Jared says confused.

“Vinny just walked in,” she says her focus shifting.

Jared looks over.

“Of course,” he mumbles to himself.

“Ignore him Maddie,” he says trying to get their moment back.  

Kim rushes over.

“Holy ass face, did you see who just walked din?” she says.

“Yes Kim, thank you, we’ve all noticed,” Jared says annoyed.

Kim notices his frustration.

“You know what, just don’t even pay any mind to him. Don’t even acknowledge he’s here,” Kim says trying to repair the damage.

Maddie shakes it off.

“I can do that. So Jared, how about that walk?”

“Yea. Let’s do it, Ladies first,” he says leaving a path for her to walk first.

Jared holds his hand out behind him as Kim slaps it, he smirks following Maddie toward the front door.

As Maddie passes Vinny, Jared places his hand on the small of her back and she sighs in relief knowing he’s there, but at the same time there go those butterflies fluttering up her spine.

Vinny’s eyes follow Maddie and Jared, he jumps over blocking the exit.

“Maddie, Jesus you look hot how come I never got any of this while we were together!”

Jared’s hold on Maddie tightens as he bulks up ready to say something.

Maddie squeezes his hand to stop him.

“Oh let’s be honest here Vinny, you don’t deserve any of this, your just not man enough to handle it. So do me a favor, walk away, now. Before we have a problem.”

Vinny looks at her baffled as he slinks away.

Maddie grabs Jared’s hand, heading out the front door.

They get about a block away, before Maggie finally speaks.

“I’m sorry about that. He’s such an ass.”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry for. Like you said he’s an ass.”

“I knew I shouldn’t have worn this, I should have just stayed home like a wanted to.”

“Hey. Stop it, (he stops, turning to her he puts his hands on her shoulders) you look amazing. Don’t let him make you feel bad about anything, ever. He’s a piece of crap that wasn’t worth your time.”

“I know. You’re right. It’s just he gets in my head sometimes and I start to question myself.”

“Don’t. Your body is yours. It doesn’t belong to any guy, ever. And just because you wear something slightly different or sexier than usual on the one night of the whole year that the world is allowed to spice it up, doesn’t give him the right to comment on it and make you feel bad or make you question how amazing you look and how amazing you should feel. Cuz you’re perfect. You always have been Maddie. That guy, he’s completely insane for ever letting you go.”

Maddie blushes.

“Thank you, you didn’t have to say that,” she says her eyes nervously looking away.

“I wanted to,” he smiles as they continue to walk a bit more.

A million thoughts are running through Jared’s minds. That was one hell of a speech. Kiss her. Kiss her now, you fool. No. It’s too soon.

“Can I ask you a question?” Maddie says stopping under a weeping willow tree as the fall breeze kisses her cheek, her hair gently blowing.

“Of course,” he says turning toward her, the mere sight causing is heart rate to quicken and his palms to start sweating.

“Will you kiss me?” she says her eyes meeting his as his widen in surprise. “I feel like there’s something here, and I know that we’re friends but we may be more and I won’t know unless you kiss me. I would never want to hurt you by leading you on, so will you just-”

Jared reaches for his cowboy hat, removing it he tosses it to the side quickly as he cups her face and kisses her.

Maddie’s lips are in shock at first, but her response is quick as the spark ignites her lips kissing back softly at first but then finding a more aggressive/urgent groove with Jared’s. As Jared feels her doing so, his hands find her waist, pulling her into him. Her hands gliding up his arms and wrapping around his neck.

The kissing continues for quite a while, as Jared walks Maddie backward until she’s up against the tree bark. Fall leaves dancing in the wind, whirling around them.

Maddie finally breaks the kiss, needing some air.

They both exhale loudly as they lock eyes, they laugh.

“Did that really just happen?” Jared says his eyes twinkling.

“If, not, it was one hell of a dream,” she says smiling as she wipes the corner of her lips.

“I’ve gotten red lipstick all over you,” she laughs reaching up and rubbing her thumb across his lips, trying to get it off.

“That’s ok, I don’t mind.”

Jared looks at her, he takes her hand and places it on his heart.

“Your heart is pounding so fast,” Maddie says with a small chuckle. “You know I kinda felt that happening before too.”

“Yea, that happens a lot when I’m around you.”

Maddie smiles as she pulls him back over to her into a kiss.

Each kiss longer and deeper than the next.

Jared cups her face, he pulls away and looks her in the eyes.

“What?”

“I can’t believe this is happening,” he says continuing to kiss her.

Maddie smiles against his lips as her hands find their place over his on her face.

They continue to lose their breath as Maddie pulls him closer wrapping her arms around him, Jared’s hands fall down her body to her waist as find a place in the back pockets of her fitted black leather pants.

She laughs mid kiss and buries her face in his chest.

“What?” he says confused and pulling away to look at her.

“We’re kissing, you and me. And your hands – well I just never thought they would be- (she laughs) I guess I’m just not used it. I can’t believe we’re doing this. I mean you’ve been my best friend for years. I guess I just feel kind of strange.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to push- Are we moving too fast? I’m sorry.”

“No, no. I don’t mind. (she says pulling him by the shirt toward her) Come here.”

Jared smiles and continues to kiss her again as they close the space between them.

“So Whattaya say you think you wanna be my girl?” he says looking back at her and whispering to her.

“I thought I already was.”

Jared smiles pulling her to him as he continues to kiss her.

Maddie smiles against his lips as she cups his face, she pulls away looking up at him, “You know as weird as this is, it feels really natural…really right. I could kiss you all night long.”

“Don’t expect me to object to that,” he says cupping her face and kissing her “I’ve waited a long time for you.”

Maddie looks up at him through heavy eyes and sighs sweetly, her lips already reaching for his yet again.

As the two friends become more on a night that had potential to be one of the worst Halloweens ever.  Costumes galore walk by and drinks flow as the party just a few blocks away keeps going the private party under the willow tree had just begun. Jared finally handing his heart to the girl he’s wanted all along breath after breath, kiss after kiss, touch after touch.

After what feels like forever, the two finally come up for air. Maddie’s shoulders shrug as the breeze chills her skin.

“Are you cold, maybe we should get you inside?”

“Sure.”

Maddie smiles and shrugs, walking off toward the party.

Jared smiles watching her, as he grabs his cowboy hat off the floor, his eyes scaling her curvy figure up and down, she spins around and catches him.

“What are you doing?”

“Oh excuse me, I was just admiring my girlfriend.”

“Really. Do you like what you see?”

“Is that even a question?”

Maddie rolls her eyes and smiles as she takes Jared’s hand in hers heading back into the party.

Kim takes notice of the scene in front of her- hand holding, goofy grins, and smudged red lipstick everywhere. She squeals and runs over to them as they talk to each other with lovey dovey eyes.

“You guys finally kissed…didn’t you?”

“Yes.” Maddie says smiling.

“A whole hell of a lot of yes.” he says, his grin as big as hers.

“Oh my god…finally!!!”

“I’m gonna go find a rest room, I’ll find you in a few?”

Maddie nods as Jared smirks, he leans in and kisses her, before walking off.

Maddie looks after him for a beat and then leans against the nearby wall clutching her chest.

“Oh. my. god.” Kim says in shock.

“You don’t even understand. I’m just so happy.” Maddie says looking over at Kim.

“You look happy.”

“I’m still trying to catch my breath.”

“So it wasn’t weird kissing your best and oldest guy friend?”

“No. I mean yea there’s that, but it just felt right and like the most natural progression ever. It’s almost like why haven’t we been kissing each other our whole lives. It’s nice, and it’s nice to feel safe with someone.”

“Good for you, you deserve it.”

“Thank you.” Maddie smiles.

“So there’s a spark, it’s not just convenient. It’s not just a Vinny rebound.”

“Trust me the spark nearly blew my face off ok? Vinny was the last thing on my mind while Jared was kissing me. He’s just so sexy, he has the best lips and his hands…are perfect.”

“I cannot even. This is amazing and he’s such a good guy if you only knew how long he’s had this crush on you…”

“I wish I would have known. I’m actually- I’m gonna go find him, do you mind…”

“No- go find your boyfriend.”

“Thank you,” she smiles rushing off.

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

Maddie finds Jared just coming out of the bathroom, she smiles and stops him, pushing him back in.

“Hey…oh…ok, what’s happening?” he laughs as she locks the door behind them.

“Maddie…what are you doing?” he says laughing.

She pulls him into another kiss, as he deepens it lifting her in his arms slightly as his hands tighten around her waist, her hands cupping his face.

“I’m so lucky, (he says cupping her face as he glances down at her, he sighs looking up at the ceiling in a slight frustration.) But it doesn’t have to be different with us. I mean just because we know each other, I don’t want you to think that I suddenly just expect us to jump into a physical relationship. Because, I mean this is whole new territory for us. I’m ready to court you, and take you on dates, and re-meet your parents and your family as your actual boyfriend. I don’t wanna rush this with you.”

Maddie sighs and kisses him.

“You’re perfect.”

Jared kisses her.

“Go ahead, you go first, I’m gonna need a minute to- cool down,” he says embarrassed.

“Oh. OH! ok,” she says realizing with a laugh.

Just before she turns to unlock the door, Maddie turns back to Jared, she pulls him to her and kisses him softly and slowly as he responds matching the same pace. She looks up at him, “When it does happen, it’s going to be amazing!” she gives him a quick tease like peck as he leans in for more, she smirks up at him and unlocking the door she leaves the room.

Jared stands there laughing to himself.

“Yup, as expected I’m a goner,” he says looking in the mirror.

Maddie stands on the other side of the door her heart pounding in her chest as she clutches it, giving herself a minute to gather her composure, she smiles walking off to find Kim.

-<3-