Sequels

I’ve been thinking about sequels after accidentally watching ‘Smokey and the Bandit 2’ this past week. I say ‘accidentally, because I was sitting on the couch reading, while my husband flipped through the channels, eventually landing on the aforementioned film. I saw it years earlier but didn’t give it much thought then. This time, I actually paid attention and discovered I didn’t care for the film. Not because it was bad, though it was (Sally Fields herself said out of all her movies, she considers it the worst), but because of the character development: Burt Reynold’s character had gone from fun in the first film to someone who was boorish and obnoxious in the second. And I guess that was the point, but was that really a story worth telling?

I’m a fan of sequels, I’m reading one now (The Twelve by Justin Cronin, the 657-page sequel of the 881-page, The Passage – see my last blog post, Not A Quitter, for more details on that). And I’ve watched my fair share of them in the past (you have to when you have kids. I’m looking at you Disney, Pixar, Sony, Dreamworks, etc.). But what I’ve noticed is that most of the stories told are … meh. They’re cash cows, an easy paycheck for an established audience. And I understand the decision behind that. But again, shouldn’t the story be worth telling?

So for all those who have asked for sequels to my books, I’ve been hesitant to say, “Yes, I’m working on one,” for that reason. I don’t want to just continue the story for the sake of bringing back characters. After watching ‘Smokey and the Bandit 2’ though, I started thinking about my books and where I could take the stories. I had jotted down ideas in the previous years but nothing concrete developed. I reviewed all those notes and made a decision. Starting in 2021, I’ll be focusing, writing and publishing the following sequels (these are rough synopses, so please be kind):

Stepsister Ballad (sequel to Stepmothers Anonymous): Picks up six years after the events of the first book. Sara Mauer (the incorrigible stepdaughter) discovers that happily-ever-after isn’t a real life option and finds herself a young adult, still living at home with her father and stepmother, envious of her stepsister Nicole, who seems to have it all. But a visit to a local medium with her friend Jenna and a hastily-made wish changes all that – first for good, as the circumstances in her life start to change for the positive, then for bad, as those circumstances begin to negatively impact the people around her, especially Nicole. Sara has to decide then if she wants to continue being a part of her blended family, or if she’s going to give all that up to live the fairy tale she’s always wished for.

Love Her Freely (sequel to Speak Tenderly To Her): Picks up after the events of the first book. Following a four-year separation and an escape from her abusive ex-boyfriend, Isobel finally has a second chance at happiness with Tory. But as they prepare for their pending nuptials and the delivery of Isobel’s daughter, they find the consequences of Isobel’s actions have come back to haunt them and threaten not just their future but that of Isobel’s daughter, who has become the subject of a custody battle, with the two men in Isobel’s life fighting for paternity rights. Will Isobel and Tory’s love be enough to get through this, or will regret for what should have been tear them apart?

Perfectly (sequel to Stay With Me): Noah hit gold when he won Alma’s heart. Now, he’s got to win the sister over if he expects to have any future with Alma. Picking up after the events of the first book, Noah and Alma look forward to exploring their newfound relationship, even with the constraints of her hospitalization. But as Alma’s guardian, Leta is overly cautious, setting boundaries between them that are soon tested when Alma’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, leaving them to decide if this relationship is what’s best for Alma.

There are a couple others, as well as a prequel for The Book of Joy, but these have been the loudest requests and I wanted to announce them. So hold me to this, ask me about my progress, and I promise, if I can write them the way I see them now, the stories will be worth reading. Coming in 2021.

* * *

Sign up for my newsletter for more articles and content.

Stay With Me (New Cover)

I mentioned a few months ago that I was in the process of rereleasing my books. I created my own publishing company (more on that in the upcoming weeks), and have begun transitioning things over to my company name as well as to my new printer. I’m excited about the prospects, and am happy to share with you the new cover for Stay With Me. I say all of the books are my favorite (I told the same thing to my kids when they were growing up), but this one is special to me. Stay tuned for more updates on the updates!

Cover

#StayWithMe #RuthEGriffin #AwardWinningAuthor #Love #LoveStory #InterracialLove #Romance #WomensExperiences #WomensStories #MentalHealth

Stay With Me (Review)

I’ve been posting snippets from my book, Stay With Me, these last few Sundays. I’ll be starting on a new book tomorrow, but I wanted to share this review with you from Daria White for Reqders’ Favorite. I’m not gonna lie, it’s my favorite.

SWM

“Stay With Me by Ruth E. Griffin tells the story of shy, kind, and gentle Noah. He works at a bookstore and is content with his life. He doesn’t think he needs to change to be happy. He’s fine the way he is, but when free spirited Alma shows up, his world turns upside down. She walked into the bookstore and kissed him randomly. Not only does it surprise Noah, he likes it. He likes her. He wants to pursue and get to know her. Alma, on the other hand, objects to Noah’s advances. For her, the kiss was a once in a lifetime thrill. She has other plans for her life, and a relationship with Noah doesn’t fit into them. Will Noah leave her alone or is she worth fighting for? Noah will find that there is a fine line that others advise him not to cross, but will he heed their advice?

“Stay With Me by Ruth E. Griffin took me on a serious roller-coaster ride. I was not expecting Griffin to have my emotions gripped from the beginning to the end. Noah’s life changing journey is not only entertaining, but heart wrenching. Recently, alpha male characters have become popular, so Noah’s gentle but strong spirit is touching and refreshing. I was rooting for him! I read this book literally in a day and a half. While the story has its humorous points, Griffin delves into some serious themes which take the story to another level. I was really touched by this book. It’s truly unforgettable, since both lead characters leave an impression on the reader. To the author, I say well done!”

Intrigued? The book is available at AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks and Kobo. Get your copy today!

#StayWithMe #RuthEGriffin #AwardWinningAuthor #Romance #Love #WomensExperiences #WomensStories #InterracialLove #MentalHealth

Happy Labor Day; or Sharing Updates While Ignoring the Kids

Happy Labor Day, a day to celebrate the work of your hands; and with kids out of school and in the house, I opt to sit at Starbucks, not responding when they text me wanting to know where I am. Amazing too, since they usually avoid me when I’m home. Ah, life with teenagers.

In any case, with summer officially, or unofficially, over, seems like it’s time to get back to the real work: writing, marketing and all the wonderful things that come with this career. If you haven’t already gotten a copy of Stay With Me, it’s available at most online bookstores. I categorized it as a romance, but it’s more than that. And if you liked Speak Tenderly To Me, then you’ll like this one. I’ll be doing some giveaways in the weeks to come, so keep an eye out for them. And if you want some free reads, check out my Wattpad page. You can download the app from iTunes apps or Google Play.

I’m about halfway through The Pledge, if you’re following along. I’m about halfway through and am looking forward to finishing it, not just to be done with it, but because I plan to start a new series once this one is complete – Matriarch, the Biblical story of Hagar, a slave who rose to the position of matriarch by submitting herself to the woman who enslaved her. I’ll be looking for other platforms to post on, so stay tuned.

I also have other projects in the works, including my next romance, but those are enough updates for now… the kids are calling. They just don’t take hints very well…

Mental Wellness

Today marks the last day of May and my final post for Mental Health Awareness Month. Do not let this stop you from reading or discovering more about mental illnesses, though – or rather, mental wellness, as I heard someone say this month. Because that’s what we’re striving towards. And I think today’s link makes that point.

Too often, when someone asks us how we are, our conditioned response is, “I’m fine.” Even when we’re not. Especially when we’re not. But what if we were honest with ourselves? What if we were honest with others? What if we opened up to those we trusted and let others help us heal? It’s not easy, but worth it.

Don’t read over what follows: if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental stress, text ‘Start’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. It’s free and confidential; and someone is available to talk to you 24/7. You can visit their website www.crisistextline.org for more information. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) or National Alliance on Mental Illness (800-950-6264) for support and local referrals.

What I Would Say If I Was Honest About My Depression

By Fraser Speaks

I’m not OK.

I wish I could tell you this. I want to so many times. When you ask how I am.

I’m not OK.

Is what I want to say.

Instead I nod my head. Usually just one confident nod. Sometimes I’ll nod a few times. For security.

Tilt it slightly to the left.

Make sure my smile is big but not too big.

I am so good!

And then I immediately segue into talking about you. Asking how you are. What you have been up to. Steering as far away from the subject of me as I can get us. See how good I am at it? I amaze myself sometimes with how good of an actress I can be.

I feel myself dying a little bit more on the inside. Angry that I let another opportunity come and go. Another opportunity to open my mind up, just a little, and let some of the creatures out.

But I don’t. I can’t. I want to. I want to so badly. But I can’t.

Because here’s the thing: I was fine the day before. I was fine the week before. I’ve been fine for a whole month before!

Before it came back. Because it always does. It tricks me. But it tricks you more.

You see how good I have been. Maybe I was even great. Amazing. Fantastic. And I want you to know I really was. But you, like so many others, were tricked into thinking maybe it wouldn’t come back. That sense I had been doing so well. I’d been so happy. That I could do this.

You’re not the only one though. It got me too. Except, deep down, I always knew the truth. I knew it would eventually be back. It always comes back.

And so I can’t tell you. I like feeling as though someone is proud of me. I like seeing and hearing something other than concern when someone asks how I’m doing. As long as I don’t say it aloud.

I’m sick.

Then I can pretend for a little while longer that I am OK.

So I can’t tell you. I don’t want all of that to disappear yet.

Even though I need you. The longer I continue treading water, trying to keep a smile showing above the water, the more detached I become. Not just from you. From everything. Family. Friends. Strangers. The world.

The longer I keep news of this unwanted trespasser to myself, the harder it becomes for me to get away from it. The harder it becomes for me to kick it out of my house. Out of my mind. The harder it becomes for me to defend myself from his advances. Eventually I will become too tired. And I’ll let it take my innocence and spirit away. What’s left of it anyways.

My therapist says I need to open up to someone.

Who are your close friends? Maybe one of them?

My mind goes blank.

Who is your best friend?

I have turned into a mute. Unable to come up with an answer. Unable to say anything at all.

I tell him I don’t know anymore. I tell him I feel so removed from everyone I don’t think I have any. I tell him I don’t feel close to anyone.

He asks when the last time I felt like I had a best friend was. I tell him I don’t remember.

He tells me my mind is telling me all of these things. And I know this. I do. But I can’t shake the feelings and thoughts that have once again taken up residency in my already overcrowded mind. I don’t have the energy to evict them right now.

The loneliness. The sadness. The numbness. The fatigue. The overall melancholy that seems to hang over me at all times. So thick I sometimes I can actually see it. Hanging dense like fog. Hanging heavy on me like humidity in the summer when all you want is relief from the heat. It smothers you. Except this kind of humidity isn’t warm. It feels cold. It numbs me more instead of thawing me out.

I’m always cold. But I wake up at night sweating. My sheets damp from it. The side effects of my terrible, violent, excruciating dreams. So vivid I wake up screaming and crying more often than not. There are shapes lurking in the shadows, but the light is even more frightening. I can hear people whispering. And I know it’s about me.

I want to tell you this. I want to tell you that Saturday night I sat on the bathroom floor hugging my knees as tight as I could in an effort to keep myself from falling apart even more. I want to tell you about how badly my sobs scared me. How I found myself yelling in anguish. I want to tell you about the only way I was able to get any sort of relief from this. But I don’t want to scare you.

I want to tell you about the hand that roughly grabs my heart every time I decide to leave my house. I want to tell you about the dizziness that takes over. Sometimes just from walking across my room. The shortness and sharp intake of breath when this happens. I’m too tired for this.

I don’t want you to think of me as a burden. As another source of anxiety. Of worry. I don’t want you to pity me. I don’t want you to think of this as something to add to the list. The list of what’s wrong with me. I don’t want to pollute your happiness with my despair. I don’t want you to see me as something to be handled with care. Something fragile that could shatter if you talk too loudly.

Because I need you. I need you to remind me of how strong I am. I need you to be a place where I can rest. A bench to sit quietly on. To cry quietly on. Something to steady myself on so I don’t end up all the way on the ground.

I don’t need advice. I don’t need you to talk. I just need you to sit quietly with me. I just need you to sit next to me. To hold my hand. To help me up. I just need you there so that the loneliness and the sadness and the despair doesn’t drown me. I just need some help treading water for a little longer.

But I can’t tell you this. I can’t tell you because I am scared to admit it to myself yet. I need you to know my silence doesn’t mean I’m angry with you. I need you to know my awkward response doesn’t mean that I don’t want to talk. It means I don’t know how to talk. It means I don’t know how to connect my brain with my mouth and with my heart. I’ve forgotten how to.

And so I’ll whisper it onto this slate. Hoping it becomes lost among the rest of these thoughts.

I’m not OK.

* * *

To celebrate the release of my new book, Stay With Me, as well as commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, I will be posting articles and links on the subject through the month of May. Please share this with your friends and family. And don’t forget to get a copy of my book. Go to https://ruthegriffin.com/home/bookshelf/stay-with-me/ for more information.

‪#‎mhm2016 ‪#‎MentalHealth ‪#‎MentalWellness ‪#‎StayWithMe