Sunday, December 25, 2016

Why I Don't Want To Say Good-bye To 2016

Last year, when saying good-bye to 2015 and ringing in 2016, I was filled with hope and excitement for what the new year would bring. I was beginning the process of transitioning my books from my real name to a pen name. I was also working on a new series that I had such hopes for. I was learning how to create covers as well. 2016 was definitely looking to be a fabulous year for me.


And it was.


Until...


My maternal uncle informed us that his cancer had returned and was inoperable. It had reached the bones and was so far spread that there was nothing that could be done except to make him as comfortable as possible until the day came for us to say "See ya later..."


He first was diagnosed two years ago. It came as a shock to all of us, as a cancer diagnosis usually comes, but he fought it. He fought so bravely, so hard, and with such passion that when he was given the news that he was in remission we were ecstatic. We knew he could do it.


Then one day during a follow-up visit he received the news that it had returned. Doctors told him at the beginning of this year that these holidays would be his last. That if he saw the end of the year then it would be a miracle. Little did we know how true that statement would be... because he did not get the chance to even see Halloween.


My uncle passed away October 5, 2016. He passed away as one of the bravest and most courageous people I have ever known.


Just the month before that I had a paternal uncle pass away. His death was a shock, but not unexpected. His wife called us to let us know when he was in the hospital, and just days later he had passed.


He passed away in September 2016.


But the worst part of this year came, for me, in November. It was the most life-changing day of my entire life, thus far, and it still hurts to think about it.


It was the day my mom passed away.


My mom was one of the greatest women I have ever known. She was one of my best friends and was always there for anyone who needed someone. She was one of those women who, if she was depressed, still managed to smile so you didn't have to worry about her. If she needed food, but you needed gas for your car, she would give you the last of her money and go without. If she was tired, but you needed to talk to someone at 2:00 a.m., she would take your call and stay on the phone with you until you were ready to go. If she was sick and you called her, needing anything, she would do/give it.


She was the most selfless person you would have ever met.


She would be hurt by people over and over again, but would still be there for them if they ever called on her for help.


She would be in tears, in pain, but would still walk a mile to lend a helping hand.


She just wanted to be needed, to be useful, to be a friend to anyone and everyone. Because when she was younger she didn't have that.


As I write this I am in tears myself. When my mom passed I lost a part of myself. I felt empty and lost. I still feel that way. Often. And I am not sure when that feeling will go away, if ever. There is a void in my heart and an empty space in this world that she left behind that no one will ever be able to fill.


I wake up some mornings in a good mood, then I remember...


I remember the last time I got to see my mom and give her a hug.


I remember the last time I got to speak to my mom on the phone and tell her I loved her.


I remember her words of encouragement to me when my hubby and I and our kids moved hundreds of miles away.


I remember when she told me she was proud of the woman I had become - the wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter.


And then I feel that loss all over again.


My mom got sick with bronchitis right before Halloween. She wasn't able to fight it and soon was so sick that she couldn't get out of bed. My sisters and father called an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital. They placed her in ICU in critical condition. She had severe sepsis, which had reached her brain, and kidney failure. Her oxygen was too low and she was delirious. They treated her immediately by placing her on a round of antibiotics. They seemed to be helping but then a blood clot was detected, so they placed her on another medication.


Her condition improved and she was taken out of ICU only to be placed back in the next day because they couldn't keep her blood pressure up.


After another round of treatments they finally thought they had it under control so they moved her to a regular room. They even told us she was doing so well that she may be able to go home in a couple of days. When I talked to her on the phone she was relieved and hopeful.


Then, that night, or early the next morning, she went into cardiac arrest. It took twenty minutes to resuscitate her. By that time, however, there was no sign of brain activity.


My sister called me at just after 5:00 a.m. the morning of November 11 to inform me that my mother was on life-support and that it didn't look good.


Three hours later my brother called me to tell me that my mom wasn't going to make it.


An hour later I had a flight booked and was heading to the airport. My plane took off from my city to Detroit, MI at just after noon my local time.


By the time I got to my sister's car and we were driving to the hospital she informed me, with tears in her eyes and streaming down her face, that my mom had passed.


How could that be true? How could my mom have passed away? She wasn't supposed to leave us. She was the ONE person who was ALWAYS there for us. How could she be gone? She was only 60! Her birthday was November 18th and we were planning a surprise for her. She couldn't be gone.


But no matter how many times I questioned it the result never changed. My mom was gone.


I walked into the hospital room to say 'good-bye', knowing (with what our belief is) that she was no longer there. And I stared.


I stared and I cried.


And my chest hurt.


My stomach cramped.


I couldn't breathe.


I began to cry to sob - and almost collapsed on the floor.


How were we supposed to live life without a mom?


Well, we had to learn.


We had to take one second at a time. Then one minute, one hour, one day, and one week at a time. We had to give ourselves (and still) moments to grieve and moments to remember with joy.


We realized that we had to live.


We had to remember everything our mom taught us and we needed to live our lives with those lessons.


And we needed to remember that life is so very short and unpredictable.


I have always taught my boys that each time we speak to someone, and every time we talk to them, we are possibly creating our last memories with them. So we need to make them good memories.


We need to be the friend to people that we would want to have. We need to be kind and generous and loving. We need to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.


And those are things I remember when I think of my mom. And I hope that I can be half the mom, wife, and friend - woman - that she was.


So while we have said 'good-bye' to "stars" this year, I have had to say 'good-bye' to a couple of my heroes.


And a part of me does not want to say good-bye to 2016 because this was the last year I was able to make memories with my heroes. From here on out I am only able to make memories of the memories.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Thank You...





When I began the journey of writing Samantha’s story with her “Teacher’ in Blind Sensations, I had no idea the twists and turns my life would take. From exciting highs to emotional lows, my life now is in such a completely different place than it was when I started the Submission series over a year ago.


Along the way, I have had an amazing group of people helping me, guiding me, praising me for any small success, supporting me when I was low and depressed, feeling like I should just quit, encouraging me to keep going. To not give up. I probably do not deserve the tremendous support they have all given me, but I am grateful for them. I would like to take a moment to express my feelings of appreciation and gratitude…


Thank you to my husband, whom without I would not have even published my first book. He pushes me to do my best when I don’t feel like even doing my worst. He believes in me, in what I am capable of, and always has more faith in me than I ever have in myself. He has lifted me up when I was down. He is not only my husband, he is my best friend and lover. I am his biggest fan. I love you, S.


Thank you to my amazing beta readers, Emily Foxx and Tori Dean. You two are incredible! I appreciate you taking the time to read through this last part of Samantha’s story, for guiding me through necessary changes and for giving me the courage I was needing to go forward with publishing it. If it weren’t for you two, this book would be sitting on my computer for months to come. I am honored to have you two as friends… love you.


Thank you to R.B. O’Brien and Shelby Kent-Stewart for… well, everything. You two have been a rock since the day we met. You are two women I proudly call friends, and I admire you both more than you’ll ever know. Your support, not just in my writing but for everything I have gone through during the year I took to write this novella, means more to me than I will ever be able to express. You two are like sisters to me, and I am blessed to have you both in my life. Love you gals.


And last, but absolutely not least, thank you to all of my friends, followers, and readers on social media (Facebook and Twitter). From laughing with me when I attempt humor, to your wonderful words of encouragement when I share part of my writing – from sharing my work and supporting me in any way, whether offering advice, reading and reviewing or just telling me that I can do it – you will never know or understand how much I truly do appreciate you all. Without you all there really would be no reason for me to write. Not only do I write because my heart tells me I need to, I write for you.

Friday, December 16, 2016

I Am Ignorant... Or Am I?



The world is filled with people who talk before thinking or act without thought of consequence.

There are people who honestly, truly believe they are better than others. They accept all praise as if it were their due, commanding it with their actions. They boast of how intelligent they are. They take every chance they get to inform the rest of us lowly people how much better than us they are. They condemn the "dummies" for their lack of perceived intelligence and find humor and joy in cutting others down; belittling people, making them feel they are not worth much.

I have been told time and again, not always in words, but in actions and behavior of others, that I am stupid... or dumb.

My writing (YES, I am a writer, regardless of the genre in which I write. My friend, R.B. O'Brien wrote a great blog post about the topic of writing, what makes a writer, and the stereotypes erotica authors deal with. You can read it HERE) doesn't always contain large words. I may use the word foe instead of antagonist when describing a character. I say friendly in place of amicable. I say someone is persistent rather than saying they are assiduous. I think you get the picture. Or should I say: I believe you have a precise understanding of the point I am attempting to impress upon you?
I do not always read novels.

I never completed college (I attended real estate school and became a licensed realtor at the age of twenty). So I do not have a Ph. D.

I haven't traveled the world. I have only been to a few countries.

Does all that make me ignorant?

My I.Q. was tested when I was younger and I was labeled a "genius". I graduated high school early. I was in the Honors Society and was a student ambassador when I was a sophomore in high school. I made the Spelling Bee finals in elementary. I have a love of learning and seek to educate myself in something new every day.

Do those things make me intelligent?

Let's go based on a brief definition:
Intelligent: having or showing intelligence, especially of a high level.

Well then, there you go! According to that, I am intelligent.

But hold on. Let's look at the other word:
Ignorant: lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.

Then it adds this for the word ignorant: lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular.

So, according to part of that "definition", I am ignorant, in a way.

And in all honesty, we are all a little bit ignorant because we all lack knowledge of something.

Right?

So, am I ignorant? Yes.

But I am also intelligent.

And guess what? You are both, too!

So you can come off whatever high horse, or pedestal you may have put yourself on if you go around calling people ignorant, or stupid while showcasing an air of superiority... because you ain't all that.

And STOP putting yourself down, thinking too little of yourself, not giving yourself enough credit for what you do know... because you may just be a lot smarter than you knew.

Using large words doesn't make you any more intelligent than another person just because it shows you may possibly have the use of a thesaurus... and using simple, easy-to-understand phrases doesn't make you ignorant.

It all boils down to knowledge. And in that case, we are all intelligent in many areas just as we are ignorant in others.

Be careful who you label, and when. You may just show your intelligence... or ignorance.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why I'm Leaving KU




When I first began my writing and publishing journey I started it with an open mind and excitement in my heart. I published my first book in March of 2014. I was nervous, excited, hopeful, scared, and naive. I believed I wrote an amazing book, a wonderfully entertaining tale, and was positive readers would all agree with me.

Well, reviews were mixed. I had some great ones and heard from some people who absolutely LOVED the book. Then I got it: the dreaded one-star review. The person trashed my editing (although they stated my story was a great one). I was devastated, to say the least. I mean, I put a lot of time into that story, not to mention a part of me as well as money. 


I know, you are laughing at me while rolling your eyes at the obvious knowledge that yes, editing is important. Well, I know that, NOW. I had no clue back then. I honestly did not think that people marked you down for lack of professional editing. (May I remind you of what I admitted in paragraph one when I said I was naive, among other things?)


Skip forward a few months and my second book was out. Again, the whole thing all over...again. The second book was received much better, and it was released when Amazon was rolling out the KU program in full force. The nifty thing about KU back then was they paid you a full royalty payment as long as the reader read at least 10% of the book. Great for us authors, not too great for Amazon, which they later realized. They then revamped the program and began to offer authors payment based on each individual page that is read. So when a reader borrows your book you are paid 1/2 cent (give or take a fraction) for each page the readers reads.


This was a bit more fair to Amazon, although us author probably grumbled at the loss of the actual royalty, Either way, the author still received compensation for people reading their work. This compensation could not be taken from you if a person returns your book like it is when a person purchases the book and then asks for a refund after reading it. (Yes, that happens..)


You all may be wondering what my point is. Why I am leaving KU... what is the big deal, right?


Well, the big deal comes with Amazon's rules when it comes to books that are enrolled in the KU program. 


Let me fill you in a bit:


In order for an author to have their books enrolled in the program we have to "sign" a contract/agreement stating we will make digital formats of our book exclusive to Amazon only. In other words, if an author has a book in KU they cannot have that book listed as an e-Book on Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc. Amazon promises, in return, to pay the author their "payment" for each page read. (For my book, Blind Sensations, my payment ended up around $0.50 total for each time the book was read in its entirety.) Just to give a clear understanding, my royalty for my books that are $2.99 is about $2.00. So having that book on KU makes me $1.50 less than if someone were to purchase it outright, however, I still receive compensation.


Great, right? I thought so.


Amazon gets paid $9.99/month for each person who pays for the monthly membership and I get paid for each time a page is read in one of my books.


So why am I leaving KU, you ask? Simple. I haven't been getting anything from KU.


Well, I shouldn't say nothing. That would be a lie. I will say that with the introduction of Page Flip (which makes reading faster for readers, and makes navigating and saving your spot much easier) my KU page read counts have gone down. Drastically down. I mean, they have gone from over 10k page reads a month to less than 300 last month. BIG difference, right? 


How is that possible? How do I go from having well over 10k/15k monthly page reads all year long to less than 300 in just one month time? 


Well, the answer would be "Page Flip". You see, when a reader decides to use Page Flip in order to read a book, they are making it easier on themselves, but Amazon has not devised a method for them to track pages that are read in Page Flip mode. So a reader can enjoy the entire book and love it, but the author will never be compensated for it in any way.


When I noticed the sudden decline in my KU reads I was worried that I had done something wrong to my readers. I emailed a few people from my email club to ask them if they had been reading any of my books recently. They sent me pictures showing they were... yet I never saw that reflected on my sales dashboard on my publishing account.


So I investigated and found out why. And then I got mad. Like, really upset. Then I decided to email Amazon to find out why they felt it was 'OK' to offer that, knowing they were not able to track page read counts, to readers without first allowing the author to authorize their books to be read in such format. Because, let's face it, Amazon still collected their $9.99 from members while keeping the money from my books each time they were read. Almost a theft of sorts... which I definitely pointed out to them in my email.


Here is a copy of my mad, upset email to them:


I have un-enrolled all of my titles from the KDP Select program due to Amazon's breech of contract with authors who are enrolled in said program.

According to Amazon, and my "contract" to remain exclusive to them, I am prohibited from making my ebooks available for sale or purchase anywhere else. In return for me remaining exclusive to Amazon I was promised payment for my books when they are read by customers. I receive an average of $.005 per page for each page that is read on my books. I have, until recently, enjoyed having my books available on Amazon and promoting your KU program to my readers.

Now, I have possibly lost out on the opportunity to advertise my books with other ebook retailers such as iBooks, Barnes&Noble, etc. in my effort to hold up my end of the bargain. And what does Amazon do as a thank-you? You offer readers a new way of reading called, "Page-Flip". While saving the reader time it is now allowing them to read my books absolutely FREE to me, while YOU still pocket the $9.99 per month. Now, I have gone from making $0.005 per page read to NOTHING. But you know what? YOU still get your money from the customers.

I am DONE! I will not allow my work to be given away for free while you make all the money. I am now taking all of my books off KDP Select and will make sure all of my readers are aware of your slight to the authors. You may not care, and that is your right, but this is my career and livelihood that has been put at risk. My exclusivity to you is now finished. My readers, who are loyal to me, will be made aware of this and the effect Page Flip has on authors.

And, just in case you needed a refresher on the promise KDP Select authors are made, check out this link: https://kdp.amazon.com/select?ref_=kdp_BS_TN_se

I have asked my readers if they have been reading my books. They have sent me images of my books on their Kindles. They also admit they have been using Page Flip and were appalled that they have been using something that is preventing me from getting paid.

I will also be making this known, just in case it wasn't already, to ALL social media outlets.

Thank you for requiring me to uphold my end while you breech your promise.


Sincerely,

Ashlee Shades - enraged author



So, can you tell I was upset? What made it worse was they waited over two weeks before replying to my email. This was their "generic" response...


 
Dear Ashlee,

Thanks for your inquiry. We regularly audit and monitor pages-read systems for accuracy with a particular focus on making sure we have correctly filtered out fraudulent reading activity, while including all legitimate customer behavior. The KDP business team has not found any systematic issues impacting your results. Please note that, as always, individual title performance can vary and be impacted by a number of different factors such as seasonality, genre trends, series age, etc.

We always appreciate the questions and feedback we get from authors.

Best regards,


(Not including the sender's name for their privacy)



What does that tell me? That says that there was no fraudulent activity affecting my page reads. In other words, they do not find me guilty of gaming the system, cheating them - whatever you want to call it. Not once to they address my email and the concerns stated there.


Because of their prior knowledge that they admit knowing they were not able to track page reads, and their lack of decency in giving us authors the option to remove our books prior to the release of Page Flip so we could take our books elsewhere, and lack of respect in responding to and addressing my issues/concerns, I have decided to do something that was requested of my a long time ago: I am taking my books to other outlets as well!


I am now currently in the process of loading my books for consideration at iTunes, Nook, and Kobo as well as keeping them up on Amazon, just not on KU after December this year.


I will also be giving away free e-Books periodically from my email club. 


I am excited to being this new venture in publishing my work and getting it out there. It is not about the money, it is about the moral and ethics of how Amazon handled KU... and it is me finally doing something I should have done long ago in branching out to other outlets so I can share my stories with a broader range of readers.


Thank you to all of you who do read my work however you do. I truly am grateful to each and every one of you who have taken this journey with me - for your kind words, your encouragement, and support. Best wishes and love to you all!

Friday, October 14, 2016

We Are Great

Turning on the radio, TV, computer, whatever it is you listen to or watch, you really cannot do so without hearing about the Presidential Election for the US. And along with the election, we are hearing the nasty, awful things they say about one another or things they have said or done in the past. They really have gotten out of hand throughout the entire campaign season. From bringing up family members to all out name-calling, this election truly does lack professionalism and integrity.


Then you have the citizens of the country. There have been riots, protests, hate-filled debates on social media.


This election season has really shown a side of people that I never thought would have existed when remembering the way our country united after the 9-11 attacks fifteen years ago. Our country is showing its division in a way I don't ever remember seeing in my lifetime. This is a country full of diversity. That was always something we were taught made America great.


I am a mother. I have two kids, boys, who are so completely different from one another.

My oldest, 13, is a very athletic teen. He's into sports, debate, and on the National Junior Honor Society. He's an 'A' student in 8th grade and is a very analytical thinker. He is in all Honors classes. He is also a very generous, caring teen. He gives everyone time, he is patient with people, and has great goals for his future.

My youngest, soon to be 11, is in 5th grade. He's a high achiever who has a very creative mind. He thinks outside the box and knows there are more than one or two ways to reach the same conclusion. He is compassionate, loving, and would give anyone the shirt off his back if they needed it. He also has ASD. I say he has because we have taught him it doesn't have him.


They live in this house peacefully. There may be an argument here and there, but it is never violent.


I share this with everyone because I think it's great to remember that we can all live in the same world, same country, without needing to fight or cut each other down. We can have different talents and opinions without reacting negatively and turning on each other. We don't need to turn on each other for having a difference if opinion on topics. There are ways of communicating without resorting to violence and name calling.


Our country has always been great. It is time we remember that. Our children, the future of this country, are watching and listening. We need to teach them better than what they have been seeing lately. We need to teach them how to keep America as the great country it should be.


 Now, I share with you a recent piece of artwork my youngest painted.



Monday, September 26, 2016

Readers Are Amazing!

I had the privilege of participating in a weekend-long event on Facebook honoring and celebrating the one year anniversary of mrblackthorne.com. The time spent there was amazing. I had so much fun playing the games, reading posts and comments, and getting to know everyone a little bit better.


We all come from so many different backgrounds, and we all began reading, writing, or both for various reasons. It was a joy to share with everyone my reasons, my joys, my struggles - a little bit more of myself.


If you did not make it, I am sorry you missed such an incredible time. It was definitely an experience like no other, and I will miss that time although the hours spent have marked a place for themselves in my heart forever. Friends were made, bonds were formed, and memories were created.


I began my writing journey for one reason three years ago, but I continue for a completely different reason: YOU! You, the reader who enjoys short stories for escape. You, the reader who loves to gain new ideas to add a little spice to your relationship. You, the reader, who just loves to read and chooses one of my stories as part of your day - of which I am humbled. Out of thousands, millions of books out there, to know there are people reading one of mine is an incredible feeling. That feeling intensifies when I hear what you thought of it. Because, I'll be honest, we writers/authors do not always know how well received our stories will be and that is a scary feeling. I often struggle with whether I should continue a series, or move on. One way I make that decision is reading reviews. Reviews play a HUGE role in whether or not a series makes it one book further, or stops dead. I have been blessed with some amazing reviews on some of my fun stories, which have led me to write more in a series which was never intended to be anything more than a standalone book.


So, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to you readers. You make my hobby a more enjoyable one with each comment, message, like, share, review you leave, and I could not be more grateful for you than I already am.


Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


Oh! And for those who were not able to make it to that event, I have something for you. I did my cover reveal for Blind Surrender (featuring the gorgeous model, Jimmy Thomas of Romance Novel Covers), and now I will share it with you, along with a special excerpt! (I always share this stuff first with my email club, along with exclusive offers. You can join my email club HERE, if you would like to get inside info, sneak peeks, and exclusive treats.)




Special Excerpt:


    "Finally, after months of giving, weeks of playing the games of seductions, she had to walk away.
It shattered her heart, killed her soul, to walk out that door and not look back, but she had to. She had to do that to protect her heart from total destruction, from complete and utter annihilation. Even though she walked away and left him behind, the memories were a constant in her mind.
   

    Their first kiss…
   

    His first whisper on her skin…
   

    Their first touch…
   

    The first time she made love to him.


    Each, and every memory was imprinted on her heart and in her soul.  She would never be the same Samantha as she was before Brian, and she didn’t want to be. Because that Samantha had never opened herself up to experience true pleasure, she never embraced her inner desires the way he taught her to do. So no, she wouldn’t want to go back to her.
 

    Her phone buzzed – a text from Brian. She pressed delete without reading it, yet stared at the blank screen. Reading anything from him would only bring the tears. She was tired, exhausted from all the crying. She didn’t want to do that anymore, so she would continue to ignore his calls, delete his emails and texts, and avoid going anywhere she knew he would be. If just thinking of him caused this bruising, searing pain in her chest, she didn’t want to imagine, or feel the pain that would come if she were to read his words, hear his voice, see him.


    So, for her safety, her sanity, she avoided, deleted, and ignored.


    Were those the wisest choices? She didn’t know. They probably weren’t. But, for her, for right now, they were the only choice for her to make...."

Monday, August 15, 2016

Priceless

I have been writing and publishing for just over two years. It wasn't until last summer that my writing "took off". By took off I mean I actually began to see sales or page reads on my Kindle Unlimited books. Now, I am not one of those authors who measures their success by the money they make.


No. I measure my success by how many people I can impact or connect with. Let me explain...


When I was a teenager I was in a relationship that was not healthy. The man I was with, if that is what you could call him at the time, was possessive and abusive, both physically and mentally... emotionally too, I will say. He knew just how to hurt me with a look, or a word. Sometimes the silence hurt the most. I did what I could to make him happy, to gain his acceptance, to have a day with him in which I didn't flinch or cower to the side of the truck. Where I could be with him and his friends and not be laughed at because he somehow "put me in my place".


No, it wasn't healthy. I wasn't healthy. I had suffered from an eating disorder when I was young, and it spiked its ugly head during this time. I was 16. I went to high school. I used to have friends, a lot of friends. I had a full-time job (35 hours/week) I worked after school or on the weekends. Well, when I was with 'C' I turned away from my family and friends. He was jealous, and to make him happy I cut people out of my life.


I cut my hair, because people loved it and showed me attention because of it. He hated that. So, I got rid of it.


I lost weight. I was an American size 6. I had too much of a rear end. So, I got rid of it.... thus entered my eating disorder. I lost enough weight to get down to a size 0/2.


I lost all part of myself. Who I was. My family and friends. I even dropped out of high school so I could eliminate one more thing that would put space or distance between me and 'C'.


I paid his bills. He was never able to hold down a job, so over half of my money went to him each week so he could eat while I was at work. So his truck payment was not late. So he could go out with his other girlfriends...


Oh yeah, that's right. Because I wouldn't "sleep" with him, he got it from somewhere else. Actually, he got it from many other people. One of which wrecked his car while he was fondling her... and stupidly (ignorant of his "infidelity" at the time) I paid for the repairs. Yeah... I loved him that much.


Then one day I woke up. Somehow, somewhere, my mom's words hit me. My sisters' love hit me. My brother's and my dad's words hit me, and I realized that I was better than that. I was worth more than what I was accepting.


I was me. I was a human being who was worthy of friendship, of happiness, of love.


And what I was getting, or accepting from 'C' was not friendship. It was not happiness. It was not love. It was humility. It was possession. It was control... I was under his control.


So I broke free. It hurt like hell. It hurt so much that I didn't think I was going to survive. He came around, he called, he wrote letters... and I just couldn't anymore. I made a clean break and dealt with the pain and hurt, the anger and denial without him.


I was 17 when I did that. I was 17 when I decided that no man was going to do that to me. No person was going to do that to me. No one was going to make me feel like I was not worth something. That I was not of value. That I wasn't good enough.


I was 17 when I decided that I didn't want others to feel that way either. I do not want anyone to feel that they have no one, that they are alone, that they are not good enough.


No one should ever feel that way. We are all meant to be here. Someone does love each one of us.


But, it all starts with us. We must first value ourselves. We must accept us. It is hard to do, for those who suffer from low self-esteem like I do. I fight it every day. But I also survive every day.


And so do you.


What does my story have to do with writing?


Well, my first story, Brielle, has a little... or a huge part of me in it. The main character, Brielle, is attacked (I was, once, as well. Not as violently though). I put all of my pain and experience into her character. I tried to make her coming to terms with her being good enough, of realizing she served a purpose, come across to the readers.


My other stories, mostly, are written to help inspire, to make you feel, to give you ideas of things you can do in your relationship to maybe add a little spice.


 But mostly, I write my ramblings to hopefully let you all know that you are worth something. You mean something to this world. And you are perfect just as you are. The only person you should EVER change for is yourself. First, make YOU happy. Because, one thing I have learned, when you are happy then others will see it and you may just put a smile on their face too.


Remember, you are priceless...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Invest Yourself Wisely

I have friends who always go out of their way to help people, to support people, to encourage people. Sometimes they get some of that reciprocated, other times they don't, but they still do it because it is who they are. It is a part of them that they do not want to change.


Then there are my two boys. They are generous, kind, compassionate young men. (Currently, they are ten years old and thirteen years old.) The love people (they take after me ;)), and would go out of their way to do anything for anyone.


But, there is just one piece of advice, one thing that I would want them to remember... and you too!


Invest yourself wisely!


What do I mean?


Think of yourself as a bank account...

In the beginning of your life, you are full; rich. As you go through life, you withdraw from your account (yourself) and invest in relationships. Sometimes you get a return, when you invest in the right ones. Other times you never receive anything in return.

As you go through life, invest your time and energy in the right relationships. They will not leave you empty or drained, but will replenish you, and encourage you.

Don't end your journey broke.

Trust Wisely!

They say communication is the key to a successful relationship. Whether it be a couple, friends, business... communication is what makes it thrive.



I would have to say that trust is another one, if not the biggest one to have. You can be in business with someone you do not love. You can trust someone based on their actions without communicating with them... but you do not usually love someone wholeheartedly if you do not trust them... you do not usually want to communicate openly with someone you do not trust.



Trust is a cornerstone. When people trust you, they are relying on you and your integrity, strength - they have confidence in you. They place their hope in you, "trusting" you will not hurt them or lead them wrong.



It takes time to build that trust. It takes effort, and requires proof - a history of being able to be relied on.Teacher/student, spouses, friends, partnerships - they all require a foundation of trust so they can thrive and grow.



But trust is a very fragile thing. It can be broken in the blink of an eye. In a relationship, if a woman/man slips once, it will take years, if not forever, to prove they are trustworthy again. Sometimes, trust can be shattered to a point it can never be present again, period. Yeah, you may still talk, you may still be "friends", but nothing will ever be the same again.



Breaking trust hurts. When people tell you something and then you go behind their back and spread gossip - that hurts. When you promise one thing and then go back on your word - that will destroy trust. When you cheat on someone, or cheat them out of something? Yup... trust is gone. We are all guilty of either misplacing our trust, or of breaking our word to someone and putting a block on that trust - if not guilty of both.



I just wanted to share this with you all to encourage you to:



Trust wisely. Not everyone is worthy of it. Make them prove their integrity before placing your hope in them. Misplaced trust only leads to pain and heartache.



Hold dear those who truly place their trust in you. They will be the ones to lift you up, but once you break that trust, you may fall...don't wait until it is too late to realize that the person whose trust you broke is the one person you need. THINK before you risk shattering that "bridge of trust"



Don't do anything that would damage trust you have worked to build. Every action, every word, ends with a result. Make sure the actions you take, the words you speak, are going to get you to the end result you are hoping for.



Trust wisely!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Be YOU

We follow their advice and try to do exactly what they are doing. Follow their guide and you could see success like they have.


We stop being who we are, and we try to become more like "them".


But, it doesn't always work. We don't have their life and we don't have their schedule. We don't have their finances, their time, etc. So, it may not work, and then we get disappointed and feel like giving up because we haven't reached THEIR goals for US!


The truth is, we just can't be them. We will never be them, and no one will ever accept YOU for being THEM. There is already a spot in the world for "them" and they have filled it. It is not vacant, it is not empty and up for grabs... so you know what? Stop trying to be them Start being YOU!

There is a spot in this world for YOU, and you are the only one who can fill it. No one else can be you the way you can.


And remember: You are a "them" to someone else. There is someone out there trying to be just like you. So, stop trying to make them think that being YOU is bad... being YOU is the only thing you will ever do perfectly in your life.


So, go out there into the world and be YOU! Accept yourself for being YOU and not being them. You are a perfect you.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Do Something!

I was on my way to a party over the weekend and had my two sons in the car with me. I love listening to the radio whenever I am in the car, and often times you will find me singing along with the song. (Whether I know the words or sing in tune, lol).

Well, scanning through the stations, I came across a song. It is probably not new to many, but it is the first time I had heard this song. The lyrics of it are inspirational and motivational...

The song?

"DO SOMETHING!" by Matthew West


There are so many terrible things going on in the world. Pain, suffering, wars, terrorism, political debates, racism, religious persecution, people tearing one another down.

Each day I watch the news with a sickness in my stomach and a heaviness in my heart. Another stabbing; another bombing; another shooting; sex slaves being sold; men, women, children being tortured; innocents killed for political or religious reasons.

Many of us sit around complaining. We sit in our comfortable homes, behind computer screens, and attack one another for differences of opinion on many subjects. We do our best to have the last word in arguments. We are proud of ourselves when we make our point, never mind the person at the other end of the argument who was hurt by words that may have been said. Never mind that they have a personal reason for feeling the way they do, and you know nothing about their reasons. 

No matter your religion, if you have one or not.

No matter your political association.

No matter your country.

No matter your wealth, or absence of it.

No matter what side of a debate you are on... at the end of the day we are all human beings. We all live on this planet. We all use its resources.

We can sit back and ask, "If there was a God, why does He allow this?..."

Or, we say, "There is no God. You are all doing this to yourselves..."

We can ask all the questions, make all the statements we want, but at the end of the day this is our world. And we could all put our words, our actions to better use than these fights and arguments.

We could do so many great things. We, as a human race, are so much greater than the negativity that has been reported daily on the news.

There needs to come a time when we stop complaining; we stop making excuses and stop pointing the finger; a time when we decide we are going to DO SOMETHING.

So, I share this with you, not for any religious purpose, no other agenda other than to help stress my point that there are many things in this world that are more important than pen names, number of friends, or political associations...

I challenge each of you to get out there and do something! Each and every action, small or great, can make an impact on another person. Make your words, your actions count for something great.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Golden Flogger Award Nomination Interview



So, in November 2015, I received an exciting email. In it I was informed that my book, 'Blind Sensations' was nominated for the Golden Flogger Award in the "Light BDSM" category. Imagine my excitement at receiving such news!

As a writer, I write to share stories that are in my head. Yes, they are erotic romance. (I consider my books to be romance with erotic elements.) I do not write to receive acclamation, praise, or awards (however nice it is to hear them.) I want to take readers on a journey. Short, yes, but a journey nonetheless. Think of my books as a weekend getaway compared to novels that are extended vacations ;)

Anyway, part of this nomination thing was an interview. I was given the opportunity to share a little about myself; who I am, why I do what I do, etc. with my readers. I figured I would share the interview here with you, to give you all a chance to read a bit about me, and leave comments, if you wish. I do love reading them (along with reviews), and will comment back!


Well, without further adieu, here is the interview. Enjoy!
(If you'd like to leave a comment, 
please click here ---> ASHLEE SHADES BLOGSPOT)

Ashlee Shades
Golden Flogger Award Nominee 2016
Blind Sensations

Why did you begin writing BDSM novels?
Blind Sensations, the novella that was nominated for the award, was my first shot at writing BDSM. You see BDSM portrayed in society in so many ways, and largely associated with pain. Maybe that was just my view on what I had been seeing. I know that BDSM is so much more than just the “punishment” aspect that many believe it is. So, I wrote Blind Sensations, the first in a three-part series, to show a more sensual side to it. I wanted to show that among the aspects of BDSM, enjoyment, pleasure, and trust are among them.
What does being nominated for the Golden Flogger Award mean to you?
For me it means that I did something right. Someone, somewhere, actually enjoyed my book. It is an honor to be nominated among so many great books/authors. I have been a fan of many of them for quite some time.
I self-publish, and each time I click that submit button my anxiety increases, along with my excitement. I am sure every author feels that way: Will they buy it? Will they like it? To have been nominated is validation for me that readers do like what I write, and it encourages me to continue on.
What is the hardest part of writing your novel?
The hardest part about writing this, for me, was getting it “right”. I wanted to stay true to BDSM (in my case, light BDSM) while giving the readers something they could enjoy, something they could connect with. My main female character goes through a series of lessons on the senses and how they impact your intimate experiences. The entire time the character is blindfolded. so getting across her feelings and emotions, making the reader feel them and sense them along with her was the hardest part.
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing works.
I am foremost a wife and mother, but writing has always been a part of me, though, and it wasn’t until 2014, when I published my first novel, that I was able to awaken that dormant dream of being a writer. I have written and published one novel and six novellas. The first three, a series titled ‘The Celestial Mating Series’ were published in 2014. The others, two stand-alone novellas, and the ‘Lessons Series’ consisting of Blind Sensations and Blind Seductions (to be followed in 2016 by the third, Blind Surrender) were published throughout 2015. I feel that I have grown with each new book that I write, and I look forward to that continued growth.
Will you be attending BDSM Writers Con or other events we can meet you at?
At the moment, I do not have any plans to attend, but that is not to say that my plans will not change. Life is an ever-changing cycle, so I never say ‘No’ as a definitive answer.

A little about the author:

I am a proud citizen of the USA. I grew up in a small town in the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan. I met my husband in the summer of 2000, and within five years, we were married and had two sons. We recently moved to central US. For me, there is nothing in this world more important than my family.
I have always had a strong bond with reading. It has allowed me to escape to places I otherwise would never have been, meet interesting characters, feel the emotional roller coaster of each story, and all while never leaving the comfort of home. In 2014, I published my first erotic book, as my way of contributing to the wonderful world of book journeys.
Since that first book, I have been on a journey of growth and learning. Every day is a new chance to learn, grow, change, and adapt. I love writing stories, and hope that my readers enjoy reading them. I love hearing from and interacting with my readers. I appreciate them all, and every piece of constructive criticism, every compliment, is used to make me a better writer than I was when I began.


FOR THE ORIGINAL INTERVIEW VISIT THIS LINK: BDSM WRITERS CON

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What? Editing? Pff


So a while back i wrote a book a really long book about 45000 words. long which is long for me since the majority of my, books are only arounf 20000 words

i was prowd of my Book that i worked so hard on

i self published my book and was so excited when i got my first sale and then my next follow by the next then i got an email from a reader who loved my book and thought. it was hot and Steamy

then not long after that i got a review that criticizd my grammer and editing i was. offended because i lloved my book so Much and worked hard on it and thought they did not. know what they were. talking, about

that was too years ago and i have published severil boocks since then and have lerned so much
i recently spent hours and hours editing the first book i ever. published so i could republish the book under my new pen name. man my editing and writing were BAD really bad. and one of the things i lerned was that editing is very importint to the success of a book.

good editing Helps the reader read the book more fluidly 

it helps the reader know the feelings and emotions of the character

it allows the reader to escape into a world completely Different to the one they are living in

so One thing i would urge all Wryters to do is to make sure you edit or have your book edited i am far from perfect and still amke so many mystakes but i no longer get offended by comments on my grammer i use them to make my writing better.

***Gotcha! ;)***