Blog Hop

Good – Get After It

You’re probably going to see this a lot in the near future, because when I heard Jocko Willink give this little speech on his podcast on YouTube, it hit me – deep in my bones and it’s burning it’s way into the center of my soul.  I hear Jocko’s voice, but I feel God’s prodding.

Listen to it.

Listen to it again.

Listen to it every morning when you first wake up.

Listen to it with your heart and soul.

Listen to it with purpose.

Listen to it until you get it.

Then, when you get it …listen to it some more.

This speaks to the Warrior in me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Hop, blogging, Dream, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Muses, music, Philosophy, poem, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Stories We Tell



Last week I listened to a podcast on #MikeDrop; Navy SEAL Mike Ritland’s show, a podcast I’ve grown to love to listen to while I’m working.  In this episode, Ritland interviewed a woman named Emily Joy “GunbunnyActual” Hill. This badass was an Army Apache helicopter pilot and is as tough and vulgar as any sailor I’ve ever heard. At first I was a little reluctant to listen to the podcast, especially when I saw it was 4 hours long.  Not because it was with a woman, but because it wasn’t about a SEAL.  I’m in SEAL mode at the moment, learning, studying, listening, and being amazed at this branch of our Armed Special Forces. However, the Army will always hold a special place in my heart, and I wanted to see the insights this woman had to offer. I wanted to know what this Navy SEAL found so interesting about her. I was not disappointed.

Ms. Joy, who I’ll refer to as Gunbunny, came out of the gate flying, tossing around f-bombs like beaded necklaces in a Mardi-Gras parade. It sounded like she was fighting a head cold, sniffling into a napkin or two, or three, but she was also full of confidence and blunt honesty.  That got my attention right away.  I hate fake politeness.  It didn’t take long before she dropped the first of many, many hard subjects and truths into our laps when she started talking about being sexually molested by a family member when she was a young adult.

I struggled with wanting to turn the podcast off, or continue to listen. I have a hard time with victims, because victims often don’t face their shit. They lay blame, make excuses, and break beneath shame and low self-esteem and become weak and needy. I suppose it’s understandable … just not by me. It’s actually one of my triggers and I get angry around victims. I want to scream at them to suck it up, shut the fuck up, pull up their big girl britches, and fight for themselves – don’t let the world tell them they’re a victim; become a survivor, which only makes me a bully to already weak people. So, I tune it out, turn it off, or walk away. But, Gunbunny sounded strong and confident, so I stuck it out a little longer and I’m glad I did.  She has a terrible, sad, amazing and strong story to tell.  Her nerves are still raw, her voice quivered a time or two, and she struggled between what she wanted to say and what she thought was appropriate to say, but said what was in her heart anyway. So, I give her props. I became more impressed with her as the podcast went on – and 4 hours passed quickly.

But, she wasn’t the only inspiration during that podcast, Mike Ritland did an amazing job being kind, thoughtful, and respectful during the broadcast.  He didn’t TREAT her as a victim, he didn’t placate to her sensibilities or feelings, and he didn’t avoid the hard topic with kid gloves.  He wasn’t an asshole. I could tell at moments from the tenor of his voice that he struggled with some of the things she was telling him. A listener could tell he was hearing them for the first time. I could only imagine that warrior protector inside of him wanting to burst out and slay the world, defend the girl, and make things right struggle like Hell inside him. Yet, he kept his cool, and tackled some hard issues like rape, abuse, adoption, chauvinistic assholes, military demands and failures, women’s roles in special forces, death, struggles with identity and finding purpose AFTER service, etc.

This isn’t a podcast for everyone, but it’s one I wish everyone could hear.  I admire Gunbunny for her courage to tell her story, and I hope she continues to tell it even more, as often as she can. I don’t personally know her. She could be an asshole, or she could be a saint.  She’s human like the rest of us and had to deal with some hard shit.  I don’t know how her tomorrow’s are going to be, but I’m hoping she finds that purpose she’s seeking and with it a little peace.

If you’ve got the guts, check out the podcast. If you do, get some tissues.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Hop, Blog Post, Faith, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Philosophy, relationship | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving Forward… Day One


I’ve often commented that life is fluid, ever-changing, and we are either dying and falling back, or growing and moving forward. That’s in all aspects of life including love, friendships, goals and aspirations, especially when it comes to our dreams. To obtain these aspects we must move forward.  We will never reach our goals dying and going backwards. So, here I am.  Setting my goals before me, putting the pieces I need in place, and mustering the courage and drive to see them to fruition.

To plan the first steps, I must know the main objectives.  What are they?  There aren’t just one, but one for every aspect of my life.  Sometimes we set objectives for different areas of our lives that conflict with other areas, and this is the major cause for our failure.  Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to try and identify those major objectives and the start planning my first steps.

Practical people tell me that I dream too big. I think they dream too small.  I am the fool that desires to change their stars.  I’ve been told my whole life what I can’t do, and I’ve been proving those proclamations wrong time and time again. Yes, I’ve failed at some of the things I’ve reached for, but at least I reached for them.

A couple of years ago, I thought my life was over, and in that mindset, I let go of many dreams. A couple months ago, I lost a beautiful relationship, and in that mindset, my heart shattered into a million pieces. I’ve grieved… grieved lost dreams, grieved hope of what that relationship could have been, grieved the dreams I had allowed to die, and grieved the love I had the pleasure experience for a short time.  Grief hurts, but most of all it puts you into a stasis.  If you don’t grieve enough, you’ll never fully heal.  If you grieve too much, you can become stuck in that mire and then began to slowly die inside.  There is a time and a season for everything.  Now, is the time to move forward. 

Hang on… it’s going to be one wild ride.


Till next time,


~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Hop, Blog Post, Dream, family, friends, Hope, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Musing, Philosophy, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber

Mountain Climber


I’ve started a new chapter. I’m facing a new mountain. I’m not just talking in my novel, but in my life.  How many chapters does that make it now?  How many mountains are behind me? Let’s just say on Sunday I’m turning (45) forty-five.  Wow.  I don’t feel forty-five, and yet I feel like I’ve already lived a hundred lives.  How many times have I started over? How many mountaintops have I crested? I can break my life into several different segments, each filled with adventure and tragedy, love and hate, hurt and healing.  Some of it terrible, but some of it great.  I feel I’m both blessed and cursed.  Where am I now?  What new valley do I enjoy now?  What new mountain do I face to climb?

I look around me and I don’t recognize much of me.  I’m living in someone else’s apartment, surrounded by someone else’s things, in someone else’s town.  At moments, this reality is overwhelming and I cry for my space, I cry for my familiar things stuffed away in some storage unit.  I often feel my life is stuffed away, melting in the heat, locked away, confined, and forgotten. I had begun discovering myself, gathering things around me that were mine.   It’s always “soon” I’ll have my space.  “Soon” I’ll get my things back.  “Soon” I can get back to my life.  Yet, soon keeps getting pushed back one extended lease at a time.  It was just supposed to be for a few months.  In a couple weeks it’ll be a year.  In my experience… soon often never comes. I feel helpless, trapped and wonder how I got here, why I’m here, and how long will I have to stay?

Other times, I’m grateful for where I am, because I’m not alone and I know my best friend and roommate loves me and all the mess that I am.  The confined space is suffocating me, but her presence, her love, and her acceptance helps me when I fall into that panic mode.  I love having her around, I just wish we had a bigger apartment.  Being confined into small places stirs up childhood and other nightmares. Sometimes I can’t breathe and become filled with anxiety.  She also works from home, which means during her work hours (which are late afternoons) our small space becomes even smaller because I have to be quiet and stay in my room. It’s not so bad when I can go outside, go explore my new city, go enjoy the beauty of nature.  But it’s July in Florida and hotter than hell, and being outside during the daytime hours literally makes me sick.  I mean, puking-my-guts-out-and-getting-overheated-or-burned-to-a-crisp sick. My confinement becomes even smaller, and I feel like I’m locked away in a jail cell.  Sometimes I can literally hear the slam of a thick, metal door, and the sound of sliding steel as the lock catches.  Even the door to my bedroom gets stuck sometimes and is hard to open, which causes my feeling of confinement and panic to rise. I know it isn’t real, just a ghost image my mind uses to torture me, but I hear and feel it. 

I miss my things. I miss my space. I miss my kids. I miss the mountains. I miss the woods. I miss a lot of things.  But, I don’t miss the isolation, the feeling of being lost and forgotten and unnecessary. After 20 years of marriage, 18 years of church service.  After two decades of hard work to climb the corporate ladder.  After 25 years of motherhood.  I felt like none of it mattered, all the sacrifice I made was for nothing.  No one cared.  I had nothing to offer anymore, so I wasn’t necessary and became forgotten, tossed aside. I just wanted to be loved, but it seems I could never do enough to earn that from anyone. I walked away, and no one stopped me from leaving.  Then my body turned on me too.  I hit bottom a couple years ago, as low as one could go.  I faced death, and he almost won, but he didn’t.  I’ve been fighting to pick myself up from those deep trenches, ever since.  I can’t express or explain or even describe what it’s like to prepare to die.  I didn’t prepare, I imploded. But this blog post isn’t about staying in that dark place.  On the contrary, I’ve posted all the darkness above to lead to this point so that you can see the light.  There is light, there is hope, and there is freedom.  Yes, I’m still in a small confined place, and some days it’s very over-whelming.  BUT, I’m also in a good place because the doors are not locked.  I am not alone.  I will have my space, but this time it won’t be a place of darkness, of sadness, or of loneliness.  I just have to hold on for a little while longer, and “soon” will happen before I know it.  Yes, I’ll still have days of panic.  Yes, I’ll still have days of extreme anxiety.  But, I don’t have to face those days alone.  I still miss my kids, but they’re grown and living their lives without me and finding their way in this world.  My ex-husband has now remarried.  My ex-church has accepted the new couple and replaced me very easily.  My ex-in-laws now have a daughter-in-law in whom they can be proud.  Those chapters in my life are now closed.

So, yes, I’m starting a new chapter.  As with every new chapter, it takes a little while before you get to the inciting scene, the moment when everything changes.  The beginning of a climb is often slow and the size of the mountain seems overwhelming and a huge obstacle.  It won’t be until I reach near the summit before I will feel victorious, but I have my eyes locked onto my goal, onto my target, and though it will be a difficult climb and push me to the edges of my strength and will, I will succeed.  Do you know how I know?  Because this isn’t the first mountain I’ve climbed, nor is it the biggest or toughest mountain I’ve faced.  The biggest difference …I’m not climbing on my own.  I have two wonderful people in my life right now that have their own climb to make and we’re climbing together.  This time, I’m there to lend a hand when they need it, and to grab a hand when I need one.  I don’t know what struggles tomorrow holds, and I’m sure there will be many, all I know is that I don’t have to face them alone. 

Till next time,

~Mountain Climber

Categories: Blog Hop, Faith, Flash Fiction, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, Muses, Philosophy, Poetry, relationship, Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stay Beautiful

Stay Beautiful

When my drill sergeant friend shouts to his privates their bodies are temples and they should respect and treat them with the utmost respect as he pushes them to become ‘all they can be’, I’m reminded of all the years I sat in the church pew and heard the same words.  “Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?  Honor God with your body.”

The emphasis of obedience was placed on clean living and service mostly centered on attitudes and actions refraining from those moral sins such as fornication, adultery, debauchery, gossip, etc.  Yet I was slowly killing myself.  I hated my temple.  I didn’t respect it.  I neglected it. I abused it.  We, the faithful, were to deny ourselves, to not think of our wants, that our lives were not our own, to take the focus off our selves and put it on our dedicated service.  So I sat in those pews week after week convinced I respected my body because I was righteous by keeping it pure and holy. I wasn’t having sex and spent ALL my spare time in duty, responsibility, prayer, church, or volunteer services, living a selfless life, fulfilling the needs of others. Feeling completely unloved, unwanted, and unworthy.  I could never do enough, be obedient enough, be faithful enough, and I literally ate my guilt and shame day after day, week after week.   I lied to myself a lot throughout my life.  I’m pretty sure I’m still lying to myself on some other issue I have yet to deal.

This is not a slap against the church or religion.  This was my own failure.  However, I do believe that MANY in the church should address the obesity and gluttony problem.  Our bodies are temples and the neglect of them is just as bad as if we neglected one of our children.  Yet, we attend Sunday pot lucks and eat out at restaurants and fast food so much, we put ourselves into a food comas, with huge smiles on our faces, neglecting regulation and the responsibilities to our bodies.  We’d never consider that sort of neglect equal to abuse.  I remember being in prayer once and heard the question in my mind, “Would you stand by and watch one of your children slowly kill themselves or would you do whatever it took to stop them?  Would you risk their anger to save their life? ”  My answer was an instant , “YES!”  Then the soft , yet million-pound question followed, “Why then do you neglect and slowly kill yourself?  You do realize you’re dying, right?  You do realize you’re neglecting and abusing yourself? Imagine how much you love your children, do you think God loves you even less?”

I had to face the truth that I was killing myself, that I was an abuser – not of others, but of myself.  I could have went one of two ways in that moment.  I could have allowed that guilt to push me further into the ground and finish me, or I could lift my head  and allow life to enter into my dead bones. There was a spark, a small ember of hope.  That hope was love.  I finally faced that mangled, ugly, dirty, neglected, angry, sad little girl inside me – and I embraced her and I dared to love her.  Loving her didn’t make everything okay.  In fact, it interrupted the life I had built for myself, and with a vengeance, I smashed down those walls.  Then I started to build a new temple… one of life, of health, of peace, and of love.  Just as I’d protect my children from those who would harm them, I too am learning to protect myself.  I love my temple.

Protecting myself is to protect my mind, body and soul.  I don’t go where temptation will pull me away or sabotage my goals.  I’ve learned to tell myself, “NO”.  I’ve learned to do whatever it takes to move forward, to push myself, to motivate myself, to train myself, and to protect myself.  Those who knew me a few years ago wouldn’t even recognize me today – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. To many of them, I’m a disappointment, a failure, a lost sheep among the wolves.  To me – I’m beautiful – and I’m not talking about my outside appearance.  I love that little girl, and she’s now healthy, strong, and positive …and I will do whatever it takes to keep her that way.

So, to the defeatist attitude, the one that made the millions of excuses not to diet and exercise and take care of my temple,  the one that used to rule, neglect, and abuse me in my old temple, I say, “I’m not that weak abused little girl anymore.”  From the lyrics of my new favorite song… I also say, “Just look at me …I’m a leader. I’m a winner, and I’m cleaner, ‘cause I’m awesome. I don’t need you, ‘cause I’m neato, and I beat you, ‘cause I’m awesome. That’s right!”

Till next time,

Inner Badass


Categories: Blog Hop, Health & Fitness, Inspirational, Musing, Philosophy, Spiritual | 1 Comment

No Punchline – Jeff Suwak

I don’t often recommend stories, but I became a huge fan of this author last year when he started sharing his short stories for me to critic. Sometimes you just come across a writer that does more than tantilize your mind, but moves your soul.  Suwak does that for me in a similar way that Patrick Rothfuss, Mark Lawrence, J.K. Rowling and Anthony Ryan move me, or touch my soul the way Jack Kerouac does.

No Punchline: Or, the Night Chale Thayer Blew His Head Off at the Punch Drunk Comedy Club   is one of those such stories and I can recommend it more.

If you’ve been reading my blogs for any period of time,  you know how I look at the world, you know I see things with a deeper perspective, often touching on the emotional nerve that is connected to the heart of a story.  This story will deliver.  

Categories: Blog Hop, Blog Post, Book Release, Book Review, Review, Short Story, Writing | Leave a comment

Perilous Roses Author Q&A with T.L. Gray

Guys… check out my latest interview at Bloody Cake Reviews.


Perilous Roses Author Q&A with T.L. Gray.

Although the book linked is not mine.

Categories: Author Appearance, Blog Hop, Writing | Tags: | Leave a comment

T.L.’s Terrific Blog Hop

Thanks to my fellow Scribophile avatar battle nemesis, George Wells, I’ve been hopped upon… and now must return the favor as well as hop on a few other heads.  I have to admit I’m finding this quite entertaining.

george Wells

Okay, the first part of this Hop is for me to answer three questions.  I’d rather make three wishes, but I guess I must answer questions instead.

 Question #1 – What am I working on?  Well, what am I NOT working on would have been a more prudent question and a much easier one to answer.  Apart from reading query letters, social networking, promotion, and marketing, I work hard placing my writers into the hands of publishers at my literary agency (North Star Literary Agency).  I also keep my editors busy at North Star Editing Services. With my own writing I stay busy crafting short stories, chapters on my novels Hunter & Chase and The Immortals, flash fiction, and poetry.  I also keep busy writing articles for the West Georgia Living Magazine and  Let’s not forget I try to post at least 3-5 times on my various blogs, including this one.  At this rate I even write in the few hours of sleep I might steal every now and again. Besides sleep is overrated –who needs it?

Question #2 – How does my work differ from others in its genre? Well, I don’t really mean to be a smart-ass, but what makes my work different is the fact that I wrote it.  My work encompasses my passions, my sense of humor, and my quirky personality – which is something no one else could ever duplicate.  They can be similar, but never the same. 

Question #3 – Why do I write what I do?  Simple – because it’s what I like.  I once tried to write what I thought other people would be interested in, but in the process of trying to shove my big imagination and personality into something demure, I ended up wasting my time and misusing my talent.  I’m best at writing when I’m writing myself.

Well, that wasn’t so bad.  If you’ve got any lick of common sense, you should be able to get a good idea of the type of personality I possess.  And now, as much as I hate to share the limelight, I must shift the focus from me and shine it toward a few other writers who deserve at least a glance of your attention.  I completely love and respect these writers and would very much appreciate it if you would hop on over and visit their pages.

 My first victim is Mark Lawrence, author of The Broken Empire series.  In my opinion he’s a modern-day philosopher, but the publishing industry insists on calling him a fiction novelist.  He does pretty well at writing a good book, but the wisdom, knowledge, and philosophy he peppers throughout the pages of his novels are out of this world.  This Brit’s blog can be found at: http://mark—  so, hop on over there and give him a look-sy.

 Mark Lawrence 

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say ‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’.

 Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.

My next victim is writer Christian Fennell, author of the upcoming novel, Urram Hill. There are not many writers that move my soul the way this one does.  I’d place him right up there with Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Jeff Suwak, Mark Lawrence and Patrick Rothfuss.  This is one of those few authors I’d read over and over and over again. Like his mentor, Cormac McCarthy, Fennell likes to break the rules and think outside the box.  So, if you like boxes, you might want to skip this rebel.  But, if you’re up for a little excitement, hop on over to  and check out what he’s up to.

 Christian Fennell 

Christian Fennell is currently working on two books: a collection of short stories – On My Way to Sunday, and a novel – Urram Hill. When not writing fiction, he works as a freelance technical writer and editor. He’s currently a contributing writer for The Prague Review.

My last victim is an up and becoming talent, R.M. James, author of Hear Me Scream, the first book in the Sorrows trilogy.  The first time I read this novel, I read it blind as I judged a writing contest, and had no idea about the author.  When I found out it was the ever so sweet and beautiful R.M. James, I couldn’t believe such a dark, detailed, post-apocalyptic and violent story could came from the same person. I was literally floored at the writing talent of this young woman.  I have to admit, I was also a little jealous.  I can’t wait for her debut novel to sweep the country and make the rest of you fall in love with her as I have.  So, don’t hesitate any longer, hop on over to her blog and see what survival tips she has left for you at .


Living in the wild countryside serves R.M. James as an open casket bloated with story ideas. She perceives the strange in the mundane and the majestic in the ordinary. She loves writing. She loves reading. The two arts often collide in a struggle for supremacy that neither one ever loses. Victory comes in the form a good read in a brand new novel.

Okay, folks …that should be all of it. I hope you’ve enjoyed that little bit of hopping. I’m sure you all needed the exercise. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment – but make sure they’re pithy and make absolutely no sense. I’ve a low tolerance for sensible comments.

Till next time,

~T.L Gray

Categories: Author Appearance, Blog Hop, Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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