Dad’s are Muses? Who knew?

Dad’s are there to inspire.

Read that again. I want to make sure it sinks in good and deep. I’m not saying it to be funny or to give myself an elevated position as a dad myself. I am simply stating a simple and undeniable fact. Before anyone tries to dispute me, give me a chance to make my case. Even by not being there, a father inspires his children by his actions. Whether death has ripped him from their lives or he’s just an asshat who has no business being anyone’s father, he has inspired his children to become the adults they will eventually grow into being. That’s for good and bad, people. So any guys out there, pay close attention to what I typed. If you believe you’re a better influence by not being in your children’s life, you just taught them that men have no other responsibility than being a piece-of-crap sperm donor.

Okay, my soapbox is done, because that isn’t what this blog is about. I just happened to hit a sour note and felt like saying something that so obviously needed to be said — even though it should NEVER HAVE TO BE said. Sadly for our society, it does.

If that isn’t what this blog is about, what is?

It’s about my dad, the greatest man I know. When I say a dad is there to inspire, I speak from experience. My dad gave his four sons and now his daughter the inspiration of being a role model each of us have aspired to become to our children and now for some of us our grandchildren. The first and foremost thing he taught us is that loving your kids supersedes everything else short of loving God in your life. It’s that love that defines every single memory I have of my father. I include those from today. My dad loves me, and it is the one thing I’ve never felt the need to question.  His every action reflects his love for all his children and grandchildren. Out of all the things I’ve learned by osmosis from being in his shadow, loving my family, and extended family is the greatest thing I’ve taken from him. Sometimes, that love isn’t easy.  Sometimes it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but it’s always the greatest thing I’ll ever do.

My dad taught me that anything worth having is worth working to hold. This ranges from earthly things to education. You name it. You have to work to get it. As a kid I saw my dad leave before daylight only to drag in way after the sun came down to put a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. He’d do this seven days a week for months at a time. One of my earliest memories is coming downstairs and sitting in his lap so we could watch Bugs Bunny together on one rare Saturday he was off. That taught me that memories are big extravagant things. They’re moments captured in time, and it’s up to us to hold them inside us for all time.

Like I said to start this, dads are there to inspire us. He should be our first hero. Before Superman, Batman, or Luke Skywalker, our dads should be the standard all those other guys must strive to be. My Dad might not be able to leap a building in a single bound, but growing up I sure thought he could. That’s how it should be. I wish all kids had a dad like mine.

Maybe not exactly like mine, but the perfect dad for them. My dad taught me more than how to work for what I want, and how to pray to God for those things working won’t get. That’s a dad’s job. All kids are born with the best and worst of two parents. I’m sure I have a lot of his habits that irritate me. It’s  probably why they irritate me. But, I also have the best parts of him. The parts he showed me while sitting on his lap, or working beside me on my old PoS car. Over the years my dad gradually became my best friend. The man I turn to for all the answers, even when he doesn’t have them. Again, that’s how it should be. I pray my daughter sees enough of him inside me to have learned some of the lessons I imparted without meaning to. Some of those influences aren’t that great, but thankfully some are. When I see her with my grandson, I know she learned the valuable ones. The same ones I learned from my dad. Love your kids totally and with every fiber of your being, even when they are behaving like shits.

Just to tie all this into writing and literature, which as a writer I think I should do at some point. When I look back on my childhood, I always see me and Dad reading together. He, more than anyone, gave me a love for reading that encompassed everything from the Old West to the pulp heroes like Conan, and John Carter of Mars to books about World War II. I even remember him writing on his own book, so writing isn’t just something that popped up out of nowhere. It comes to me naturally.

On this Father’s Day, I want to thank my dad for making me not only the man I am today but the person I am still becoming. I want to thank him for the butt whuppings I deserved, and those he slipped in just because. Believe me, I deserved more than I got. I want to thank him for the shootouts at the Old West corrals and for the stars I flew to in my mind. While I’m there, for the wild jungles and swinging through the trees. Most of all, I want to thank him for the love he never stops showing and for teaching me that showing love doesn’t make you less of a man. It makes you a man worthy to be called a Dad.

 

Til next week, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads. Be an inspiration to not only your children but to all the kids who see you as an example of what a man should be.

Happy Reading!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my many Moms

I have truly been blessed to have many mothers over the years. I know that sounds weird but it’s nonetheless true. Being someone’s mom isn’t always about birth and blood. Sometimes it’s about simply expressing unconditional love and being a positive influence on someone’s life. In this, I have truly been lucky. No, not lucky. Blessed, like I said before. I don’t believe in luck, but I do believe God gives you the things in life you truly need and if that thing is love, then my life is a miracle above all others. Truly, anytime you have love come into your life for any period of time, you are enveloped in a miracle.

Throughout my life, I’ve had that. Most of the time I didn’t really appreciate it, but then again what kid does? We’re a selfish lot until basically we die. Sometimes though, we mature to the point where we see that we are the person we are thanks to the love of some very special people.  Me, I can look back and see four amazing women who started me down this path to being the man I am today. My mom of course, who gave me so much of who I am inside, be it good or bad. Still that’s what it’s all about, balancing the good against the bad and learning to accept ourselves for who we are. I am my mother’s son, but I am also myself in spite of who I came from. Please don’t think that statement in any way is a slam against my mother. I love her dearly and she did the best she could, but I’m more than the genetic makeup she and my father gave me. I am the product of the nurturing of my environment balanced with that slice of Ancestry dot com.

The first influences on anyone’s life is our family. Mine is seriously matriarchal to say the least. I come from a family of strong independent women, who had to be strong to live through wars, death, and hardships most Americans will never experience in this technological world we live in. Their strength got passed down to their children and ultimately to us, their grandchildren. Before I move any further I’m going to say this in all honesty. My daughter and grandson are worse off because they had limited or no contact with my grandmothers. My grandmothers were heroines and pillars of strength and love within our family and the days we lost them, our lives became poorer. So, I can very easily say my first two mothers outside my real mom were these amazing women, who taught me the value of reading, education, and the strength that can only come from family. The same can be said of my Aunt Peggy, who helped fuel my desire and addiction to reading. To this day, she inspires me to read and never stop learning. You probably have her to thank for my ability to write. Blame her, or whatever. I leave that up to you.

I know it might be stereotyping but the South is full of strong women. It’s like we breed them from the high iron content in the soil or something. However you wish to view it, I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by these type of women through my life. My Aunt Evelyn and Aunt Doris are another example of why when a woman says don’t wash that kitty, don’t wash that kitty. My butt still burns from that whooping I got forty some odd years ago, but I digress.

Family weren’t the only influences I had growing up. Mrs. Williams, my third grade teacher, would be the next ”mom” to come into my life. She stood all of four foot if she stood an inch, but she taught me a love of learning and knowing things that go on to this day. As I entered Junior High, I got two new moms, Mrs. Merle Peirce who taught me Gifted Computer Science and Veronica Tappin who taught Gifted Humanities. Both women in their own right instilled in me a love of Science and Magic. Mrs. Pierce showed me there were no mysteries that we couldn’t unravel if we simply analyzed them to their core parts. Mrs. Tappin showed me magic existed in the world. In our rich history of humanity, magic constantly showed itself in the minds and imaginations of us the world’s children. If you have spent any time within my books, you can see the fruits of those ideals grown into a reality all their own. Thanks, to both these beautiful and smart women for giving me such a wonderful gift. Someday I hope I can pay this forward so their legacy can go on forever.

Entering High School, I found myself once again blessed, this time in the form of Mrs. Andrews. She truly became my mom, as she did to so many kids who passed through her class. Her son Sam was also a classmate of mine through high school. I think that created a bond with those of us who shared her class. Many times we spent our free time sitting in her classroom discussing whatever. During our time under her guidance, she further instilled the desire for learning and more importantly the belief that no matter what adversity came our way we could overcome it because we were stronger and smarter than we gave ourselves credit for being. Why? Because if she believed in us, it had to be true. Even as I grew older and doubt fueled me on to failure, I remembered back to her words, and fought out of the funk to do the ”impossible” or the impossible that my brain said would be a hurdle. The world is truly a sadder place without her, but she lives on in the hearts of ‘her’ kids as they inspire new generations of children to believe in themselves and the impossible only they can do.

That’s the thing. The beauty and wisdom of these women does not fade upon their deaths. I have lost some of my ‘mothers’ over the years, but whatever sadness my soul aches with their passing is forgotten in their memories living inside me. The valuable life lessons they beat through my thick skull are still there, and they continue to make me someone greater than I could have been if left to my own devices. God still places moms in my life to guide me through the worst part of my maturing. I thank Him every day for them. I am weak but the people He puts in my life makes me stronger and clichéd as it sounds, makes me a much better man.

Before I wrap this up, I want to thank a couple more people. They aren’t exactly moms but they are my contemporaries and constantly teach me to stretch my limits, give me comfort and give me love. Lynne Connolly thank you so much for your constant belief in me and the music talks. Alysha Ellis, thanks for being you and understanding sometimes that all it takes is some weird British geek speak to make things better. Lastly but in no way least, Paisley Kirkpatrick, thanks for simply being you. Love you more than words can say. Thank you for the fruitcake and truly making me a better man than I ever would have been without you in my life.

As I sign off, I want each of you to consider those other moms who have stumbled into your lives and your heart. Say a thank you or a prayer for them. Whether you notice them or not, they are a great part of your lives and the reason you are you. That alone makes them awesome and worthy of the love they share and deserve in return.

Until next time,

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Reading,

Jmo!

Saying Goodbye for Now…

Sometime back around 1981 — at least that date sounds familiar. Anyway, I fell in love. Not with a woman though I’m sure a girl did occupy my thoughts, because quite frankly, I still go weak in the knees at the sight of blue plaid skirts and white button up shirts. It’s a Catholic thing, so don’t try to understand it. Back to what I was saying. I fell in love.

Fell in love with a voice. Yes, it’s possible, so don’t even try to fight  with me over this. Riding home from school, our bus had a radio that pumped out the local station Rock 102. The song that blared sent all the teenagers into fits of Karaoke, way before we knew what that was. The song was Little Red Corvette and I was hooked. That day started a forty year love affair that will probably follow me to my grave.

I can’t really say why the song captured me the way it did. Maybe it was the sexual rebellion the song sparked within me. It could have been the music itself speaking to me on a primal level, or the melodic lyrics that said so many things my brain hadn’t yet fully understood. Whatever the case, Prince Rodgers Nelson became my musical Jedi Master that day. By the time Purple Rain came out at the movies, I’d picked up his back stock of albums and had already conceived several plans to sneak into this R rated slice of heaven. I am pretty certain back then the only reason I clung to my Prince love was his glorification of sex and the dropping of the F Bomb. Teenagers. Go figure?

Then again to be perfectly honest, I had already developed a deep and abiding love for Rhythm and Blues from my parents. Dad loved old school rock in the form of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Big Joe Turner, not to mention Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson. Mom was all 70s funk. Earth Wind and Fire, Ohio Players and the Commodores. Man, I can’t even begin to name all the musical influences I had growing up. It’s no small wonder that when I began to mature in my musical tastes I’d develop strong and definite opinions of my choices.

Looking back I can honestly say Prince was more of a rebellious streak for me. Prince taught me many things on my road to being who I am. Creatively he taught me to take chances. He showed me the value of never accepting good enough and to always push whatever envelope I found myself fitting into. At the time I probably didn’t see him as a mentor. I just saw him as the soundtrack to my life. Purple Rain defined my 80s. Diamond and Pearls my 90s. Musicology my 2000s. I’m still trying to nail down which album is summing up my 20tweens but I’m sure it’ll come to me sooner or later. The point is, Prince is the godfather of my painting and writing for so many reasons he should get a co-writing credit on my books.

But, I don’t think I can stop with just letting him take the blame for my imagination running wild. It would so belittle the impact he had on my growth as a human being. I always find it strange that people assume something about a person based on their color and geographic location. It never occurred to me to hate someone based on either of those things. Being a douchebag gets you on the list automatically. Prince helped cement my view on accepting others based solely on who they are. I have met many people over the years and adopted them fully into my heart. When I see them, I don’t see color. I don’t see religion or lack of the topic. I don’t even see political affiliation or sexual orientation. I see a person who completes my life in some mysterious way that I can’t explain nor see a need to even try. They are, and the fact that they are makes me happy. Not sure that sole credit for the belief rests with Prince, but I’m giving him partial credit. The rest I’m giving to Jesus for giving me a heart open to loving without condition.

This past week and a half has given me a lot to think about. That is often the way when you lose someone close to you. I know I have never met Prince except in my dreams, but he has been a real part of my life nonetheless. Losing him so suddenly like this has left an empty spot I struggle to fill. Not with another person, but with the memories of his music and the times in my life he was with me through the songs he wrote. I think along the way we are given people who influence us whether they know the impact they have on us or not. These people help shape the people we ultimately become. If you think about it that way, maybe the old adage is true. Live the values you speak, because your life is a roadmap for others to follow. I for one don’t want to be the one paving the road to hell for someone else. I have enough trouble keeping myself off that road without worrying about anyone else’s path.

So, as I say goodbye to Prince, I want to express rather inadequately the thanks I wish I could have given him personally in life. Since sadly that option is no longer open to me, I will live my life as he had. A living example of using the talents God gave me to their fullest and giving the world an example worthy of the man who showed me that Purple Rain is not just a song, it’s an ideal to live by.

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain

Jmo wishing you all

Happy Reading and a life full of that laughter.prince

A Beautiful Disaster

Life is a beautiful disaster. Not sure who said that, but its freaking true. Life paints a painful picture on the best of days, and Greek tragedies on the normal days of the week. So what’s so beautiful about it?

The story of the human spirit that is told in the living of it.

Please examine that statement of fact. If you don’t agree with what I just said, this blog isn’t for you. Thanks for stopping by and checking things out. I promise I don’t hold your moving on against you. People disagree and that is again part of the beauty of the life we live. Let me get on with this before I lose track of what I intended to write.

Any great life is not about happily ever after. There is no happily ever after. There is happily for now. That’s all any of us get. Moments of happy surrounded by tribulation and pain. Those moments might equal seconds or linger on for weeks at a time, but happy is not a constant. Happy is a fragile state of mind. Enjoy it while you can. The story of your life is just like the stories most of us like to read. A rough road to travel ending in a brief but satisfying explosion of happy.

The job of a good writer is to turn that real life journey into a fictional story close enough to the truth to be believable, but fictional enough that people can enjoy reading it. If a person grabs a fictional book, nine times out of ten it’s to escape reality not to be reminded of it. I say writer because writers work for a living. Authors seem to just go on talk shows and cash checks. Not saying all people called authors are authors. Some are some of the hardest workings writers you’ll ever meet. For now, I’m just a writer whose brain isn’t working as hard as it should.

Why?

Because I’m busy getting my ass kicked by that beautiful disaster called life. Call me insane but I think that’s the fun part. And, the part that most people enjoy reading. I know I do. The struggle to overcome those things that we all must battle to move forward to the next hurdle in becoming who we are meant to be. Everyone has heard the saying write what you know. I say this. Knowing something isn’t necessarily the same as having lived it. I know about childbirth but I haven’t lived through it, except you know as a baby. Pretty sure that doesn’t count. If I wrote a scene about it, my take on the subject would be slightly plastic because I have no physical reference to draw from. Doesn’t mean I can’t tell it convincingly, but it won’t have the heart of something told with my own life experiences to back it up. Being a drunken fool riding on top of a car I can pull off like a champ. So writing what we know is only half the battle when it comes to being a writer.

Breathing life into it, takes more than skill or talent. It takes a combination of skill, talent, and experience. Something else adds into the mix, and it’s something most people who aspire to writers don’t have. The balls to lay their souls bare for all to read. Well, enough of our souls to entice readers into achieving an emotional connection with the characters within our books.

All the books I’ve fallen in love with over the years have had that connection. I strive to achieve the same level of love in my books. I want the people who read my books to walk away breathless with anticipation for the next scene. That’s where life experiences come into play. Sure, my books are about Vampires, Werewolves and things decidedly not real life. The heart of my books is about being true to who I am. That truth is in my characters and the story of their lives. The story I lay out is for my friends, because readers sounds so impersonal, to enjoy.

Is it necessarily my life?

No, but parts of it belong to me and I share it with you like I do in this blog. Full of love and the trust that in some way it brings you splashes of love and joy. That is how I mean them to be. My letter is to you all because you are not just readers, or friends. You are the family of my heart.

 

Until next week,

Happy Reading!

Jmo

Birthday Resolutions.

My brain has kind of been on other things today. Sleeping for the most part but that’s because of hot dog consumption and sugar free Boston Cream Pie. Yeah, and having my birthday party so all my family could be here for it. That’s right I turned another year older this week. At one time that would have sent me scurrying for under the bed, but as age has worn me down I’m less afraid of getting old, and enjoying the act of getting old. Two different things altogether so don’t think they’re one in the same.

Old implies it’s over. Getting older is all about refining the stupid out of the equation of you living. Let’s face it, you never outgrow stupid you just learn to avoid the stupid you’re used to. See, big difference. A lot of you guys do New Year’s resolutions, but shouldn’t your birthday be the time for resolutions. I’m not saying I’m going to make any. That’s just asking for failure. Don’t think I haven’t see the neighbors moving those exercise machines to their back sheds. Why would I want to go through moving something I have no intention of ever using anywhere in the first place.

No, I think the only resolutions worth making are the ones realistically you can keep. What might they be, you’re asking yourself. Okay, in my head you are. So kiss it, and let’s move on to the guts of this blog.

First off, I’m never going to let a day go by without telling the people who matter in my life, I love them. How I’m a better man for them being a part of the present, working toward my future. I honestly could not do what I do on a daily basis without each one of my family and friends lifting me up when I stumble. Without them, slowing my roll when I get full of myself. Most importantly, loving me when I can’t see much in myself worth loving. In return, they deserve all they give me and more in return.

Second off, I might not lose the weight I need, or exercise as much as I should, but that doesn’t mean I can’t attempt to be the best me I can be. Every day I am going to try to be a little better than I was the day before. I’m going to work on my flaws and make them into my strengths. I may or may not exercise if the need arises. You know? Like zombies start taking over and I need to run to my car or something. Priorities you understand.

Lastly, as a writer I’m going to try and actually write. That sounds way easier than it is. Writing is an exercise in futility most of the time. Your brain isn’t always your best friend. Sometimes it whispers doubts into your ear. Okay, that’s you doing the whispering but your brain is involved. Still, that’s not an excuse to give up. If anything, it should make you try harder. Notice I said should. The brain is a fickle thing.

Last year my brain told me I couldn’t write, and I listened to it. I shut down all production when it came to the written word. That included reading it. This year I’ve accepted a new prerogative. I’m not going to listen to my brain no matter what it tells me. Sky blue? Not on my watch! I’ll be the first to admit my brain has led me into more than one adventure titled trouble in the first degree.

But, sometimes trouble is a good thing. Trouble instigates change, which is definitely a good thing. Last year was definitely a year I’d rather not live through again, but it also made me realize that I can’t go through life thinking I can do it all myself. I need my family. I need my friends. I need God above to hold me up when nothing or nobody else can.

Even though writing is still a struggle, I am muddling through as best I can. I think it’s making me a better writer. I am not rushing to satisfy word count. I find myself slowly considering every avenue the plot might present and not settling until I find the best one to drive the story.  In the end, I hope that gives me and my readers a story worth waiting for and not just a story to fill a weekend.

I think I’ve given this whole resolution thing enough thought for one year. The Walking Dead is on, so I’m going to go escape into that and when I come out the other end, just maybe my imaginary world is the reality we can all look forward to seeing!

Til next week,

Happy Reading, my friends, and God bless you all.

Is Romance Dead? A Jmo insight

As a “Romance” novelist, I have found myself asking more and more, ‘Is Romance dead?’

Maybe, dying a slow lingering death would be closer to being the question in question. Hey, it’s not like I don’t believe in Romance. I do. Hopelessly devoted to the stuff. Romance makes me happy, but as I look out over the landscape of our society, I see emphasis on it lessening. The act of love seems to hold a lesser importance in the eyes of people. To me, feel free to tell me if I’m wrong, people care more about the immediate ‘act of love’ than the lasting emotional attachment of romantic love.

Just think about it. In the last decade or so, terms have moved away from true love, love at first sight, and the flow of romance songs to the terminology of Booty Calls, Hook Ups, and any other sayings you might have heard. As a result of all this physical dependence on what should be a purely emotional occupation, I see humanity becoming less human and more animalist. Sorry if that offends anyone, but people not caring to fall in love offends me.

Seriously, this has nothing to do with me being a Romance author and more with me being a member of the human race. Our ability to love and receive love is what makes us more evolved than any other animal on this planet. Make no mistake, we are animals. We give into our baser selves too much not to be. By giving and receiving love we rise above what we are to achieve and what we can be. That might sound sappy, but quite frankly I don’t care. I would rather offer and lose my heart than spend a lifetime wondering what all the fuss was about it.

It kinda of makes me sad to hear people talking more about hook-ups and getting one than finding that right person. I’m not just talking about guys but also women. This is where things get depressing so feel free to avert your eyes if you’re the tender sort.

The loss of Romance can only mean one thing.  Magic has truly died in our world. Dragons no longer exist except in our imaginations.  Yes, I truly believe dragons existed, unicorns too. Why because it makes me happy to think they did. But, over the course of humanity’s evolution, we’ve lost the ability to believe in anything that is not before our eyes. That being said, how far behind those things can true love be? Not far, by the looks of popular media.

Let’s face it, we are evolving. Emotion gives way to stoic dependency on reality. Reality has no place for emotions, except for hate and sadness. Those are emotions that our society can safely explain. Love? That one sits outside scientists’ ability to document and fits into their thesis about the human condition. Closest they can come is saying it’s a chemical reaction to pheromone production or electrical stimuli based solely on physical appearance. Again those with tender sensibilities turn away. I call bullshit of the highest order. There kiss it and move on scientist.

This trend does not just sadden me because as a Romance novelist ‘Romance’ is my bread and butter. That is only a small part of my heart break over it. To appreciate the magical nature of my books, you have to believe in the magic of love. To make this work a better place, you need to believe that the magic of love can change hearts and lives. More and most importantly, you NEED to believe your life can be moved and changed because someone loves you and in turn you can open yourself to loving them. Sometimes, as authors, we paint unfair expectations of what love can be. I agree totally with that. We do, but we also do something else. We open lives and hearts to expecting love. Isn’t that worth the risk of making people, women and men, believe love exists and can be magical when most of the time love escapes that quality. Still it’s out there. How can I be so sure? I have it, so know you can. I even know where it comes from. Feel free to disregard my theory if it doesn’t mesh with yours.

I believe in a God above. If that God isn’t yours, that’s okay. Mine loves you all the same. And, in my eyes, love and as a result Romance is one of the greatest gifts our heavenly Father has given us. Having an empathetic connection to one another is our connection to Him. I’m not saying romance is dying because of the loss of belief in God. I leave that to you to decide. I’m just here to present my views and give you cause to think for yourself. I would never impose my views on you. You have your experiences and beliefs to define your world.

That said, I leave you with this.

Whatever you believe, never believe without an open heart. Live with a loving heart. If you can accomplish those things, what a wonderful world it would be.

And, one I hope to be a part of.

Til next week, love out loud and as always happy reading,

  1. Morgan

I Love You This Much!

Since today is all about Valentine’s Day and love in general, I thought what better day to talk about love. Not that I don’t talk about whatever I want anyway. It’s my blog so I generally get to do what I want, so there.

But, love is the theme today. True love if we want to get right down to it. True love is complicated on so many levels I don’t even know where to start. Hasn’t stopped me before, so why should it now. Media has given us such a skewed ideal when it comes to love that most people screw it up when love is on the table. Being a romance novelist, I’m somewhat hypocritical for even talking on this subject. Most of all, we paint a picture of love and what should come after that reality can never hope to compete against it.

What is love? Love isn’t the hot and heavy infatuation most people seem to think of as love. It’s not the flames of lust that follow. No infatuation fades or grows into love. Lust isn’t even fit to be considered an emotion. At best it’s an animalistic need. Not saying I have been or ever will be immune to the two because the capacity to love never fades. It expands to include the people who cross your path as you march onward toward whatever awaits you at the blessed end.

So let’s move onto the meat of this blog and the forms of love I think deserve a place at Valentine’s Day’s table.

The purest form of true love is the unconditional bond of love between a child and their parent. I have literally been brought to tears watching my daughter and grandson together. We seldom remember those fragile first years of our lives, but seeing them together gave me a view into how it must have been. As life grows old that bond changes into something different, but in the magic of their young lives we get to become their first valentines. We put their carefully cut out hearts on our fridges with magnets with pride and undying love. Just thinking about it makes me all sniffly. Give me a minute here and move to the next paragraph. Anybody got a tissue or wet nap?

Move it on people! Nothing to see here. Do it now! Don’t mess with emotional authors or you become a corpse in chapter three.

Everyone goes on and on about true love. True love exists but I’m not ready to talk about it just yet, so let’s get back to friends. Over the years I’ve had many acquaintances, but very few true friends. I gather maybe two or so a decade, but when we meet the connection is instant, like finding a part of yourself you never knew you’d lost. Family you are born into — friends are blood without the genetics getting in the way. Who are the first people we turn to when we’ve had crappy days? Our besties. This is where I get a bit out there. People go on and on about soul mates and true love. Sometimes it isn’t about true love but a true and lasting friend. Lovers keep secrets. Friends don’t know the meaning of the word. So when you’re celebrating the day of love, don’t forget those friends who boost you up when you’re sad. Share the joy of everyday living. Grow old with you in ways you can only post memes about on Facebook.

Finally, we get to ”it”. By it, I mean true love. True love is the hardest thing to get a grip on. For one thing, it’s a miracle. Imagine two people finding each other amidst all the billions of wrong combinations out there. If there was a word that meant more than miraculous that’d be what this is. But, what makes true love a viable description for L-O-V-E? Hard work. Love might just happen from a glance and pheromone production but lasting love takes hard work. That’s why true love isn’t for sissies.

My wife and I have spent the last 18 Valentine’s Days together. How have we made the mystical Happily Ever After work? I’m going to be totally honest with you. Happily ever anything isn’t an everyday thing. It is the accumulation of bad days, good days, sad days, and some days that just quite frankly scare the merde out of you. Sorry about the French but it’s the truth. Love is living through life and never giving up on this fragment of perfection we call love.

In today’s throwaway-satisfaction-now world, if things get rough, staying in one piece just doesn’t figure into the equation. So, true love is forgotten in favor of living in the moment. That is sad. When life comes to an end, I wouldn’t trade my lifetime for a million scattered moments. Why? Because my true love is priceless.

I think that’s about all that needs to be said. Well, this too. I wish for each of you a lifetime of true love.

For those of you who say nobody loves you, know that you are loved. Someone cares and cherishes you.

Even if it is just me, J. Morgan, romance novelist and incurable romantic at heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Reading!