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Let’s Get Connected.

So, while working on new things and trying to figure out new ways to promote myself and my work in 2021, I decided to dabble into areas I might not have considered before. And, while I’m sharing mine, I’d love to follow and connect with you as well so please share where I can find you all.

1. Tiktok : @ coceauxpuff

Where you’ll be able to hear snippets of all poetry, and assuming I get good at the app… Short scenes from my stories and novels played out.

2. YouTube : I can be found at both Just Cortney which is meant to be a vlog channel, and SpokenByCort which is a channel that deals with all things WRITING, my published works, and MyPenWritesNice.

3. Twitter : @ MyPenWritesNice (author page), & Coceauxpuff (personal page)

4. Facebook : Cortney J.

5. Instagram : MyPenWritesNice

Again, I would love to connect with you all, so be sure to hit those links, follow… subscribe… add, etc. And let me know where I can do the same for you.

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Let’s Celebrate!

Anniversaries come but once a year, and for MyPenWritesNice, a very special one has arrived.

In the words of the legendary Tony Toni Tone, “do you know what today iiiiisssss?”

 

That’s right! Today marks the official third anniversary of MyPenWritesNice.com! The site began when Cortney decided it was time to set some of her fears aside and share her beautiful gift with the world. To date there have been over a thousand visitors and thousands of views across multiple countries and I am more than confident that there is more to come!

It is her hope that those who have followed and fresh readers will stick along for the continuing journey. It’s going to be a great one.

 

To celebrate MyPenWritesNice’s third anniversary, Cortney has asked that everyone take a trip throughout the site and take a new look at some or all of your old favorites. PLEASE share your favorite short stories and poems with your friends and family, via social media, and be sure to tag her on twitter @MyPenWritesNice and @WrittenByCort, you can also find and follower her on instagram @MyPenWritesNice.

Be sure to leave comments, share how her work has made you feel, and let us know what you’re looking forward to in 2020!

 

Happy Anniversary and Happy Reading!

 

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“Dreams Of You” by Cortney Joseph

We were beneath the tree beside our house.

Me in my little pink corvette, you in your yellow prowler.

 

We were talking big smack, passing licks and clowning around.

Racing each other up and down the street until the sun went down.

 

Then you stood, and you smiled.

Your hands rose, you began to wave goodbye.

 

Tears fell and I prepared my plea for you to stay,

You smiled and said “Sister, you did great. Sister, you’ll be fine.”

 

In an instant you faded,

And I awoke,

Happy for the dream of a last moment,

Yet saddened there’ll be no more real.

 

 

 

Dedicated to : Sandy De’Marcus Joseph

December 1, 1993 – December 18, 2019

I’ll love you always, Baby Boy.

 

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Work In Progress, #1 (An Update)

So,

I’ve finally reminded myself that I’ve been doing a little too much playing around. And by ‘playing around’, I mean not putting my talent to use. Doubting myself entirely too much. And just being plain old LAZY.

I’ve been telling myself that I have to stop using these sad and depressed moods of mine (though valid, to me) as an excuse to make excuses and give up on the thing I love most.

Writing.

 

Let’s be honest; no matter how hard I fight or how many times I say I’m quitting (which is about a hundred times a day); the talent, the ideas, and the big goals and dreams I have for myself aren’t going anywhere.

It’s taking a lot longer than I anticipated (nearly twenty years now since I first picked up a pen by choice — nearly ten since I’ve been publishing my work and promoting on my own), but it’s NOT going anywhere.

 

By this point in 2019, I’d promised myself that I would have published my first OFFICIAL novel. My first one that I won’t have to remove from online because of some sort of theft or other scandal again (I pray no one does me dirty again).

It hasn’t happened. And while there have been many obstacles, many incidents that took away my focus from my tasks, a great deal of NO RESULT OR PRODUCT is my own fault.

I’ve decided tonight, September 19, 2019 that I am pushing all doubt, fears, and more aside. I am ready to work on, complete, and publish my novel. I feel I need to be seen beyond my poetry and short stories, and I can’t do that if I keep on holding myself back.

Now, originally, my official debut novel was to be Fly Girl, I even released a snippet of the intended intro. However, I’ve developed very harsh feelings towards that novel (as well as other works of mine that could very well be published), and I have the feeling that I just need to attempt something FRESH.

Who knows, that may change in the middle of me writing whatever I’m going to start tonight, who knows I may even publish the new novel AND Fly Girl. I just know that I need to get down to business and produce the quality work that so many believe I can deliver. I also MUST believe that I can deliver that quality work as well. And for once, I believe. I’m ready.

 

 

 

With all that being said; I’m not sure how long it will take me to write and publish. But this will be the official announcement of SOMETHING coming, and I think along the way I will post updates of sorts. This may include written posts here on MyPenWritesNice, as well as video updates on my youtube channel Just Cortney. May even toss in a few new poems over on my poetry channel as well, SpokenByCort. So, be sure to hit the subscribe button on those channels and be on the look out!

 

Now, I would also like to make mention that all of this is being done independently. While I gladly use my own funds for any and everything that I do when I self-publish any of my works, lately that has become a bit difficult as I have other responsibilities to take care of first.

For the first time in all of the years I have been working alone; I have begun accepting donations and contributions that will go towards any publishing, shipping, payment of artists other than myself (as I love to support the hard work of others, as many have supported me over the years).

As I have not found a service (that I like) that I can tie in with the MyPenWritesNice site; I have two ways of accepting donations if anyone reading and supporting feels the desire to contribute. Any and all amounts are GREATLY appreciated.

The first, is my CashApp; $cdeshaye

And the second is my PayPal; MyPenWritesNice

 

 

Lastly; I want to end this post with a HUGE thank you to everyone that has been in my corner in some way or another. Especially when I am feeling down or being extremely hard on myself. I can’t begin to explain how your words of support and encouragement have pulled me out of many many moments when I felt like throwing in the towel. I think all that I am about to mention know me well enough to constantly, even when it annoys them, remind me why I shouldn’t and can’t give up on myself or my dreams.

So, thank you to my father and stepmother, brother and sister, my aunts and uncles, and many cousins who cut no corners and offer up every solution in the world (going WAY out of their way) so long as it means I’m comfortable and continuing with my goals. For reminding me with those rough yet gentle talks that only greatness lies within me, that greatness is all that we, as a family, exude. Your love and support carries me high, and I am so very proud to be a Johnson because of you all.

To my aunt Stella for staying ON me about the words that I speak and the great weight that they hold. For being my shoulder to cry on, my listening ear, and intertwining your own growth, wisdom, and lessons you are continuously learning into the things you tell me to lift me back up when I’ve hit my lowest. Only you have seen me that way, and only you have the exact words to bring me back right where I need to be mentally and spiritually. I love you beyond all of the words that could ever slip past my fingertips.

To my grandmother, Catherine, for always being prepared to buy the many MANY works I always talk about working on but never publish or have ready for sale. If ever I create some sort of guardian angel in a future novel or short, please believe she’ll be the sweetest and most loving because she’ll be modeled after you.

My uncle Solomon for being one of my biggest cheerleaders. Your loving words of encouragement and support mean EVERYTHING to me! I cherish them greatly, and hope that I always make you proud with my future endeavors.

To my dear, closest friends; I think I’ve told you all in some way or another how much you, your friendship, and your support means to me. But it never hurts to make it known again and again. Kirsten and Coty (my very best friends), Jae, De’Leon, Moyet, Tangella, Yo’Lana, Sage (even when we’re not talking), Nita (my favorite author that I know personally), Bronnie, Lareesa, COOP!, Sheryl, and Jalen. Glyn, Leshae, Ayana, Izzy (thank y’all especially for being the level headed ‘Temptations’ to my irrational –doubting myself so terribly — ‘David Ruffin’. I know I aggravate y’all, but I thank you all for understanding why I was the way I’m leaving behind).

And, once more to those who have stumbled across my site and have stuck around to read any and/or everything I’ve ever posted over the last two and a half years; THANK YOU. Because you are ALL what motivates me to come back and keep this thing going as well.

 

See you all in a while with an update on how this new W.I.P. is going. I know it’s going to be great, and I can not wait to share it!

 

xoxo, Cortney.

 

 

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What’s Next? Publishing Again!

So, my #ShortStoryAugust challenge came to a bit of an abrupt end a few days ago, but I wasn’t certain if I was completely done.

No, I’m not going to try and make up and post for the missing days or try to finish out the month. With work and other things occurring, I simply don’t have the time.

However, what I am considering is doing a short story collection featuring a select number of the stories I’ve shared during the challenge, as well as a few that have been sitting on the site for some time now and a new one or two.

 

Where do you all come in?

My hope is that you would all be so kind as to take a vote as to which of my favorites you enjoyed as well. I can admit, I’m never satisfied with everything I write, but I think I got a good one or two tossed in.

I would gladly appreciate those of you who have enjoyed anything I’ve shared over the last two years, to take a vote on the ones I’ve selected for possible inclusion in what I consider to be my next big project. For a refresher on certain shorts, you can find the links below the poll. I have left the option for multiple votes open, simply because I want to get as many votes as I can before I begin working on the collection, so feel free to vote as many times as you’d like for your choice. Happy reading, and thanks for all the support thus far!

 

 

A Friend In Need (by Cortney Joseph)

Love Is Blind (by Cortney Joseph)

Keep You Home (by Cortney Joseph)

Silly Wasn’t I by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

Maybe I Deserve by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

As If We Never Met by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

 

 

 

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#ShortStoryAugust 2019 Is Here!

Today is officially August first, and a challenge I presented at the beginning of July has now begun!

For anyone interested in participating with me, please check out the original #SSA post, and find out how to make sure your wonderful works are seen and how they can be shared by me.

My audience isn’t that large yet, but I do have some really wonderful frequent readers and I am sure they’ll appreciate great art from others.

 

Hope to see many more than myself participating. And if you are, happy writing!

 

xoxo, Cortney

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Short Story August? Anyone Interested?

Hi!

 

So, to get back into the habit of writing, and writing OFTEN, I was considering taking the time this summer to write and post a NEW short story every day for the month of August.

Yep, that’s 31 short stories in a single month! I personally consider this to be a challenge because it has become so easy for me to become sidetracked, to lose focus, or to simply not have the energy to grab a pen or sit in front of my keyboard and do what truly brings me joy. Life happens, of course, but lately it’s had a way of taking me way down and it interferes in the worst way with my dream and talent.

I would like to challenge myself, and I would love it very much if a few others opted to join in the challenge with me.

 

If interested, please leave a comment letting me know you’re joining in on #ShortStoryAugust. Let me know where you’ll be sharing your posts so that I can share them to the audience that I have, and so that we can get a system of encouragement going for our fellow writers. Where can we follow one another?

You can find me on Twitter, at either WrittenByCort or MyPenWritesNice, and on Instagram at WrittenByCort.

Hope to get a few of you in on the challenge. Happy writing!

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Fly Girl by Cortney Joseph [Novel Snippet]

The following is a snippet/intro for my upcoming novel, Fly Girl. Please feel free to share your thoughts/opinions, as I am in the editing stages and looking for any and all feedback as I work to piece together the final version.

 

_______________

 

Prelude: Interview With Broken Idols

 

2010:

 

“Major success. At the height of it all, you were one of the bestselling acts. Among the elite of the late nineties and beginning of the early two-thousands, with multi-platinum selling albums, sold out national and international tours. You’ve won several of the recording industry’s top awards as a group and within your solo endeavors. Certainly, there were more albums, tours, and endorsements in the works. All planned to further the success of Fly Girl. And then, you were done after seven short years. What happened?”

 

As she sat among the very women she’d grown up watching, adoring and admiring, wishing she too could have lived such a glamourous life, Andrea Harper asked the same question of all four members of Fly Girl. The interview was exclusive, highly coveted by some of the day’s top entertainment journalists. Per their request, she spoke to each woman separately, trying to gather why they couldn’t bare to be in the same room, even for a few short hours.

It had been a little over two years since any of them had been out in the spotlight, and even longer since any of them took to doing interviews that would include talks of a part of the past that they felt had dragged them all down in one way or another. And much longer since one half of the group had spoken to the other half.

Though they were all within the same age range, it was quite clear what the years of the stress and pressure to be to be perfect, trying to appease everyone around them had done to them. Their façades cracked, years added to their once youthful faces.

Troy; the youngest member of the group, often deemed the lead singer, sat comfortably in her chair. If you were to look at her; her sweet disposition, the smile she always wore whether happy or sad would give the appearance that all was quite well in her life. After all, once Fly Girl split, it was said that she’d be the one to leave the entire ordeal unscathed, destined for solo stardom whether she wanted it that way or not. If you were to look past that smile, and down towards where her right arm rested, you’d see a cane resting next to her chair, waiting to be used if she chose to stand. Only twenty-five, the rest of her life had already been mapped out as a lifetime of medications to manage pain and spasms that came and went as they pleased.

Torii; Troy’s older sister, bore a different struggle. Though she’d initially been happy to end matters with Fly Girl, it came with expectations she soon realized she couldn’t and didn’t want to live up to. She too had been set up to have solo success following the group’s disbandment, and for a time she’d found it. And then, it became about matching Fly Girl’s success, living up to all that fans and critics believed her sister was and could have been. Comparisons and demands became too much. A young wife and mother, she decided quickly that a quiet life back home in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee was what she wanted and needed most.

Leann; the oldest, who at one point had been the most sensible and a bit of a mother figure for the other girls, had taken the worst fall from grace. Trying to raise herself and a younger sibling after leaving New Orleans, Louisiana; she felt there were nothing but good times ahead when she’d been selected as the lone rapper of Fly Girl. A once in a lifetime opportunity that came with perks and benefits far beyond her wildest dreams; she was certain there was no way she’d go back to her old life. She wouldn’t trade her new success and joy for anything. However, it had never been easy out running personal demons and as she’d often feared, they’d caught up to her when she least expected.

Ava; the second oldest, had found freedom outside of her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She’d quickly swapped control over her life from one bad influence to another, only hoping for the best in each new situation she placed herself in. Singing had become an escape, though she was often told that she was not good enough, that she would never make it far in life with her foolish dreams. She’d proved so many people wrong, including her parents; and the last thing she’d wanted was the disbandment of the group that had brought her so much happiness and success. The last thing she’d ever do was admit that she had a huge hand in the group’s downfall as well as her own.

 

As Andrea asked them all the same question again, they all gave their honest answers and opinions. There was no image to keep up any longer. No one standing behind them, coaching them on what to say through a tiny mic and special ear pieces as a part of media training.

Leann looked down at her hands. “What happened? Egos, favoritism, underhanded dealings with a lot of snakes. A lot of sleeping around, as far as I know, with producers and label executives.”

“On whose part?”

Leann smiled. “Not mine, though almost all of those perverts tried.”

“Is that all you feel caused the downfall of Fly Girl?”

“That’s the majority of it.” She shrugged, growing hot within the small room they occupied. Removing her jacket, Leann spoke lowly. “I’ve always felt that the people who discovered,” she stopped. “scratch that. The people who put us together and packaged us as a complete group of four knew exactly what their intentions were. See, Fly Girl wasn’t supposed to be successful. One hit, sure. Two, a fluke or pure luck. We weren’t supposed to have more than one album. It was supposed to be Fly Girl, Fly Girl ends, then Introducing Troy Mercier. If Torii happened to get a deal out of it, then that would have been great for her. As for Ava and me; we were just backup, and barely that. I might have gotten features here and there on whoever was the big rap star at the time, but my time was always limited.” Leann sat up straight in her chair after draping her jacket over her legs. “I just wish they had told us that shit from the get-go. The fallout wouldn’t have been so bad. Wouldn’t have hurt as much.”

During her interview Torii sat quietly, holding on to her newborn as she took a few minutes to think about her answer. No, she wasn’t going to be politically correct, but she didn’t want to come off rude or hateful in her tone either. Fly Girl had become such a touchy subject in such a short amount of time. Anytime she or her sister spoke out it became some type of issue and she didn’t want or need any more drama between herself and Leann or Ava.

“Egos. One big, one non-existent, two so small that it could be considered naivety.”

“You believe egos are necessary, or unnecessary?”

“If you believe you are the greatest, doing all the work when there’s three other people in the group, on top of a hundred more working behind the scenes to make you look good, and a million more supporting you and keeping you on top, but you’re failing to give credit or thanks; it’s unnecessary. If you think you’ve made it so far without God, whatever God you serve, then yes, your ego is unnecessary. It’s okay to feel yourself, it’s okay to know you’re great.” Torii paused for a moment, trying to collect her thoughts. “When I say so small that it was basically naivety, it was two individuals giving thanks and credit to everyone, except for themselves sometimes; failing to recognize how big the part they played was. When I say one was non-existent, it was an individual giving credit to no one, including their self, except for the person who was dragging them down. When I say one was big; couldn’t tell that individual anything. It was all them, all the time. They could do no wrong in their own eyes when they were messing up everything.”

“Anything else you believe played a role in the ending of Fly Girl?”

Torii nodded her head. “Management. Whispering in ears, saying one thing to one girl, saying something else to another girl. Happened every day, from the very beginning to the very end. Fly Girl was a ticking bomb waiting to go off, simply because too few people had our best interests at heart. I don’t believe we were supposed to make it, but when we did, and the money came rolling in…” Torii smiled a little, clearing her throat as she readjusted her baby in her arms.

“And was there really favoritism?”

“Not that I knew of at the time. I guess a lot of people like to feel that way because I married within the industry, and within the immediate circle that surrounded us. My husband’s an artist and producer as well. What they fail to realize is that he was also a part of a group, the male group that debuted with Fly Girl. He never produced for Fly Girl, never even worked with Fly Girl unless we toured together or popped up in each other’s music videos. He and I did one duet, while we were in our respective groups, produced by someone far larger than he was at the time. So the sleeping around for leads or better produced tracks for the solo songs we did for each album,” Andrea nodded. “if it happened, it wasn’t me.”

 

Able to make her interview once she was assured that none of the other group members were in the building, Ava also took her time to give an answer. So used to being ignored or never given the chance to answer for herself, she was unsure if she wanted to keep it to a minimum or speak out fully. Doing so once before had landed her in hot water, and she was uncertain if she wanted to go down that road again.

Then again, knowing her former groupmates as well as she felt she did; she knew that at least one of them, if not all, would attempt to make her look bad in one way or another.

“What do I believe happened that led to our disbanding?”

“Yes.”

Ava ran her fingers through her hair. “It was never meant to last. They just dragged it out while creating more tension, lies, and pain. As I’d been told, I was the weakest singer. Soon enough, everybody ganged up on me, telling me that as often as they could. For my end of the damage, I gave up, stopped caring about the group as time went on.”

“But as far as the internal issues between the four of you; the constant fighting that fans heard about after it was all over. Who or what is to blame for that?”

“Everyone. Egos, pride and a whole lot of bullshit. We acted as if we loved one other, played like we were a real family, but I honestly believe there was never any type of love. Not genuine love, not from the other girls.” Old feelings began to surface, anger and venom dripped through her words. “Drugs and alcohol, immaturity, issues with management and theft. A LOT of sleeping around.”

“Are you guilty of any of that?”

“Yes, but I won’t say what just yet. I will say; it was half of a group effort to keep ourselves together while struggling to work with one another. It was a full group effort in tearing ourselves down. They just like to throw the blame at one person. It was all of us.”

Troy arrived last. She was the member Andrea had the most trouble tracking down. For the most part, she wanted nothing else to do with Fly Girl. It simply wasn’t worth it, not for her, to stress and make herself and her health worse over something that never should have even began. If she could have forgotten that Fly Girl even happened, she would have.

“What happened to cause the end? Same stuff that happens in most girl groups; cattiness. But, I’m sure all four of us can agree on egos.”

“Yes, that’s the number one reason from all of you.”

Troy nodded her head, sighing as she tried to sit comfortably in her chair. “Management telling us all one thing while doing another. Telling two of us that there was a guaranteed future while promising the other two nothing but a trip back to their hometown. Constant threats of being kicked out and replaced if things weren’t done the way management wanted. Jealousy. There are claims of favoritism, but really it was acts of greed and lies being fed to turn the outcome of the group into the wrong person’s favor. There was sleeping around, but the rumors of who was doing the sleeping around have always been false.”

“The rumors that someone slept with producers and writers for leads?”

“Tuh, it never took the promise of leads for that particular person to sleep around, they just did it and let the world believe bullshit to make them feel better about their self. I suppose.”

Andrea nodded, extremely curious as to who fit the exact descriptions of the incidents each member spoke of. “Anything else happen?”

“Mismanagement of money, lots and lots of theft. Internal issues between the four of us; a lot of ignorance, immaturity, and pettiness. Dishonesty, disloyalty. Lack of trust. Bad company and circles that some of us surrounded ourselves with.” Troy paused, looking at Andrea. “Drug abuse, physical and mental abuse, illnesses, and personal issues that others didn’t or chose not to understand because it wasn’t happening to them. Most importantly, and what a lot of people don’t realize,” Troy stopped and cleared her throat. “we were four teenagers, the youngest being thirteen when selected. Two of whom were placed with complete strangers and expected to bond within the time space of a week. Two of whom came from places where they didn’t have social skills, didn’t know anything about socializing because they’d always felt alone anyway. You’ve got siblings in the group, so two automatically feel as if it’s them against the siblings, as well as them against the world and everyone else. You’ve got two, unbeknownst to them early on, being put up on a pedestal and instructed to act as if everything is all good. We were impressionable, could be told anything and we would have believed it if we were too tired to do a little extra research or a little extra reading into contracts we were told to sign. Most times, we were too tired. Most times we were assured that we didn’t even need to read, and we went with that because we trusted the adults that handled us. Extremely naive teenagers, so naive that we were damn near dumb. We were still discovering who we were, we could have easily been molded in any way and fashion they chose if there were no parents or adult family members with us.”

“And were your parents around?”

Troy shook her head. “Not on the tours or in the studios or anywhere outside of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arizona where we came from. We had one adult that truly cared and everybody else knew how to pretend enough to keep us comfortable and safe, they knew how to gain our trust.”

“While gaining your trust, did they try to change you all immediately?”

“I can’t speak for the other members; but I know those people went through hell and high-water trying to change how I saw myself, what I did, and what I said. And how I acted with my sister and the others. I didn’t see it that way then, but they tried to pit me against everybody early on, I just never had it in me to turn my back on anyone, especially my sister. They went through hell trying to force and pressure me into things I knew weren’t right. And yeah, some I went along with because I had this great fear, at the time, of being kicked out. Being told I’ll never sing again; we were all told that. Imagine hearing I can end your career now, forever when you’re that young. Imagine hearing that when all you know how to do is sing and dance, or rap and dance.” Troy chuckled at the thought of all she’d heard in her young life, shaking her head at how foolish she’d been to believe most of it. “It’s some mess thrown in from all of us, I’m certain; and I believe to an extent that we’re all to blame. Certain things can be excused because of circumstances, but some can never be excused or forgiven.”

 

Andrea nodded, leaning forward in her seat. “I’m going to ask you one final question. The same I’ve asked Torii, Leann, and Ava.”

“Okay.”

“We hear of old groups reuniting nowadays for award shows, small tours, and even a few because they missed one another. Do you ever see Fly Girl reuniting in the future? Could you see yourself working with any of them again?”

“I still work with Torii. That’s my sister, always will be and the disbandment of a packaged group won’t change that.”

“Okay, in terms of Fly Girl, including Leann and Ava. Is there a future for Fly Girl?”

“Probably. Would I join in, or want to join in?” Andrea nodded, waiting for Troy’s answer. “Nope. Some things are better left broken. And if someone were to try and fix it one day, it would take a major miracle.”

“Such as?”

Troy smiled before grabbing her cane, taking her time as she stood up. “We’d have to be in the same room without wanting to kill one another. Or, in my case, I’d have to see them and want to wish the best for them and mean it. That sounds mean but,” She lifted her cane “this was wished on me, so I can’t really feel anything positive for Leann or Ava. I haven’t made it that far past my anger yet.”

And with that Troy left, kicking off what Andrea was certain would be the very last Fly Girl interview. While she was glad she’d gotten the interview, and that she still had a few days left with them to get all the information she’d need, she was left a bit heartbroken and discouraged. She’d heard countless times about groups falling out, but never this badly. They’d all answered that question the same; a resounding NO to any type of reunion.

Andrea was now unsure of what she was getting herself into by penning the official Fly Girl biography. Perhaps it would be better to leave their memories as just that; memories. But as a longtime fan, and one of the many fans who held out hope for some type of explanation or resolution, her curiosity about the ins and outs of the group kept her mind on the prize. There was just one small glimmer of hope she would hold going into this task. Helping to heal the group by getting them to speak honestly. There had to be some good to come from this.

Songs To Write To #3

Lately I’ve been in a bit of a loving mood, and typically that doesn’t sit well with me but the stories that come from the mood are always great.

So for this playlist, I decided to go with a few songs that have put me in the perfect mood for romance novels, flashfiction and shorts.

Hope they inspire you as well.

Happy writing!

xoxo, Cortney.

“Somewhere (The Intro)” by Cortney Joseph

I needed somewhere

to capture these thoughts,

to hold these feelings,

to house these memories,

these dreams and nightmares that won’t free me.

I needed somewhere

to be me without judgement,

to speak my mind,

clear my heart

of all the emotions silently tearing me apart.

Here’s where I bare it all

as the the world around me crumbles and falls.

Invisible, Me. by Cortney Joseph

Falling, alone, constantly.

Not a hand in sight to grab hold of,

To pull me back, to pull me close.

Unseen, unheard,

unwanted, unloved.

Alone in a world of people moving in slow-mo.

Trapped in the abyss of loneliness,

Invisible, barely here.

Barely me.

Back On Wattpad

So as I get back into writing, I’m going to be tackling numerous things at once. In case my mind gets stuck on one thing, I’ll have others to turn to. I’ve found that works best for me when I’m not dealing with a bad case of writer’s block.

Anyway, one of the projects I’ve decided to work on is my old 70s inspired story/novel, “Sparrow”.

It can be found on Wattpad (link below), with the first two chapters updated and posted, and many more to follow. Updates will be slow, but totally worth it if you find that you enjoy the story.

Happy reading!

https://www.wattpad.com/story/222800475-sparrow

Songs To Write To #2

I’ve been in a bit of a mood lately, sometimes sad… sometimes feeling nothing at all. And in those moments, these are the songs I tend to listen to.

Sometimes it’s to help bring forth a good and much needed cry. Other times it’s to gather feelings for a story, emotions I can’t gather and put into words when I am in a good or happy mood.

Hope these beautiful songs evoke different emotions and story ideas for you all as well.

Happy writing!

xoxo, Cortney.

Songs To Write To #1

Hey, how’s it going? Have you been enjoying the few posts from this week?

I hope so.

While trying to refocus on my writing, and push myself out of my latest round of fear (of failure), I’ve been thinking that I need to get back to what helps and most often inspires me the most. Music.

I always find myself lost in words and melodies and coming up with so many stories and ideas (usually without having the time to write them).

So, while forcing myself to make the time, I’ve decided to go back to curating playlists to set moods and provide inspiration and vibes for those, who like me, enjoy a good tune or two. If this interests you, then be sure to look out for these weekly or bi-weekly Spotify playlists I’ll share here on MyPenWritesNice.

Hope you enjoy, and happy writing!

xoxo, Cortney.

More Work, Less Drama by Cortney Joseph

Olivia burst through the doors of the children’s clothing boutique she co-owned with her best friend Reagan. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she bounced around and waited for Reagan to answer.

Reagan, who’d been in the back unpacking new items came rushing, afraid that someone was harming Olivia, and attempting to rob their boutique again. She grabbed her baseball bat quickly and made her entrance into the main area, looking around nervously. “What’s going on? What’s wrong?!”

“Giiiirl, I’ve got great news!”

Reagan looked at her best friend and the wide smile on her face, instantly annoyed by the giddiness and joy in her eyes. She began contemplating if she should strangle Olivia or not as she finally set her bat down. “I thought someone was robbing us again. I thought someone was trying to hurt you.”

Olivia sighed, waving the thought off. “I told you, look into getting a security guard and one of those alarm posts, but noooo ‘wannabe-Pocahontas’ doesn’t know what she’s talking about because we’re in a decent neighborhood. Like that ever stopped a robber or natural-born thief. Anyway, I was out and about, walking around Santa Monica earlier today and you will not believe what happened!”

“So are you going tell me, or do I need to use my sudden excitement as a reason to beat you for scaring me?”

“As I said, I was walking around Santa Monica today, just minding my own business and out of nowhere this woman stops me. She’s like, hi, are you Olivia Clark. I say yes and then she inquires about you, the fabulous Reagan Harvey and the boutique.” Reagan finally let her guard down fully, leaning against the counter where they had their cash registers set up. “Now I’m thinking that she’s some celebrity’s manager or maybe even a friend or close family member. You know, a celebrity with a little girl and she might want a cute dress from Reagan’s Closet and can’t make it all the way out here to San Francisco. Girl, she is a costume designer for a movie studio. She was telling me how she can normally design and make all of the clothing herself, but she’s been looking for things for small girls. High-end specifically. Naturally, I go into sales mode. Reagan’s Closet has outfits that fit the personal styles of all little girls, while matching perfectly with what’s in for the season. Reagan’s Closet holds the finest quality clothing for the inner diva of all little girls. While we’re high-end, we also have very high-quality clothing for affordable pricing.

“Why were you even down there? That’s five or six hours away.”

Olivia giggled, flipping her straightened hair over her shoulder. “It was only an hour or so to fly; I had a little rendezvous with Iman last night and he insisted on sending his private jet, but that’s not important. What is important is that this woman has heard fantastic things about our boutique and she’s looking to purchase multiple pieces that will be worn in four upcoming films. She was saying that she liked how we had styles from different eras and as more studios are going for that whole ‘Shirley Temple’ babyfied style again, we’re one of the few places that have them ready to buy. You know, lots of films don’t have a lot of time.”

“Nor budget.”

“But she’s definitely got the budget, willing to pay big and have us on speed dial should she ever need more. Not to mention, the name of the boutique would be mentioned in movie credits. Create a dress for the tiny starlet’s red carpet debut and we get a name drop, boom! I convinced her that we, Reagan’s Closet, are worth that long ass drive, or flight, to come and pick things out. I gave her a catalogue, but she might find something that’s not in there.”

“Glad you said that, Olivia, we’ve got new items in the back. Since you interrupted me, you can unpack them.”

Olivia rolled her eyes, finally walking behind the counter to set her purse down. “I’d like to remind you that I came into this as an equal partner, not an employee. Which leads me to say that while you’re hiring a security guard, we also need a little help, a sales associate or two.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder again. “And don’t say that it’s not in our budget either. We’ve been in business, and holding our own, for a solid three years now. Two of which we’ve spent in this beautiful shop. And, we always exceed our predictions for the turnout of our monthly profits. In case that didn’t register; we’re making bank, Boo. Think about that Reagan; you started as a buyer for someone else, a paid internship. What you made from that, you used to start and fund your own mini-shop out of your apartment and it blew up. I mean, I would have been sitting on my ass in your parents’ home, living in the lap of luxury, but you made a way for yourself instead of depending on them and their riches. And now you’ve got your own riches, and that big ass trust fund from your grandfather, but you still make and use your own money.”

Reagan sighed, knowing that her best friend was right. Smoothing down the front of the sleeveless, jean dress she wore, she shrugged. “Now you know that had I leaned on my parents, I would owe them more than what I actually pay to rent this space. I’d rather use my own money. And, you know that I’m very particular. This boutique is my baby. Not only am I out here buying the things I sell, some of them I make myself. I’ve done a good job maintaining, with your wonderful help and insight of course, and I’d hate to bring someone in and then it falls apart.”

“Girl, it won’t fall apart. You know what else popped in my mind as I was speaking to this lady though?”

Reagan shook her head, walking away to straighten up the few dresses that had been left off of their original racks and hangers. “No, what?”

“We should look into boys’ clothing too. Those sell just as well. Can’t you imagine people styling their sons in cute little vests, corduroys, button downs, and bowties, or suits and prep-ish uniforms that come from us? You are amazing when it comes to making cute dresses, but I am a beast with hooking up boys’ clothing. And, as a former stylist, I definitely know a thing or two about pairing styles and creating signature looks that can and would be associated with Reagan’s Closet forever. More clients, more money.”

“And you’re just now telling me this, Olivia. Thanks.”

Olivia laughed. “I had to make sure we survived a good amount of time first. We’ve got celebrities and everyday people buying from us, we can afford to expand a little. It might not be the second store to jump start our chain, but hey, it’s something. You’ve accomplished so much already, at twenty-two, so let’s step it up a little.”

“Mm-” Reagan stood still for a moment, tilting her head to the side for a moment. “It sounds great, but you’re forgetting one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“My dislike of children. You know how much of a struggle it was for me to come to terms with the fact that little girls would actually have to come in to try on the dresses and outfits first hand. Just the thought of having to deal with them while tailoring and making alterations hit a nerve.”

“But you got past it! What’s so different about little boys coming in?”

“Are you serious? We have mannequins, those things would be knocked over before some little boy’s mother could even state what she wants. I could just see all of our clothes being knocked over and pulled down, strewn across the floor and …. ahhhh.”

“Well, that’s the price you pay for hating children but owning a children’s boutique. Deal with it.”

Reagan shrugged, returning to the bit of cleaning up she was doing. “Children are profitable, when you’re not the one who has them. And we both know, I am all about making my money. If these parents want to spend twenty dollars and up on cute clothes and custom pieces, and I have the actual talent to make or good eye to pick out great pieces… why not cash in? If you really want to expand, you should go back to making those cute jewelry pieces for little girls. It’s surely better and lasts longer than the plastic, toy jewels parents buy from toy stores.”

“True! And you know I’m on it. Those tiaras and jeweled scepters I made were such a hit at my niece’s birthday party. Ooo, think about it. Our biggest items are always your custom party and princess dresses. Ohhh, we’d make a killing, especially if we had deals where they could be bought together. Let me get on the phone with my sister, see if she still buys all of her craft things in bulk, I need to get in on the good deal she has that saves her money.”

Olivia rushed to the back and Reagan sighed again, halfway taking the suggestions her best friend had made into consideration.

After making a few sales and successfully closing the boutique for the day, Reagan and Olivia went their separate ways. While Olivia would no doubt dive right back into her party girl lifestyle, Reagan headed straight to the comfort of her home.

She’d never been the type to just go out, especially on a whim. She barely liked to be around people she knew, so interacting with more strangers than necessary was definitely out of the question. She preferred privacy, the comfort of her own space, and the ability to do whatever on her own time. Reagan had spent too many years of her life cooped up, under the watchful eyes of others, being told what to do every hour of the day. Now on her own, her personal time was her own, and she’d wait for no one, she’d answer to no one.

If she wanted to sit on her couch eating a big bowl of banana split ice cream in nothing but a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, commando with no bra… that’s what it would be.

Placing her keys on the hook next to her door, and locking her top and bottom locks, Reagan set her purse down and headed straight for her living room. She only stopped next to the table where her phone sat and clicked the bright red button to check her messages.

Naturally, knowing what they wanted, she skipped over the ones that came from the couple she rented her space from. There was one from an ex, one from her current ‘friend’ with benefits, and another from her mother.

Although she wanted nothing more than to avoid the final message, she would never hear the end of it. Pressing play, she stepped back and began to remove her jacket and shoes as the sounds of her mother’s voice began to fill the living room. No more than a single word had been said, and already, Reagan could hear a judgmental tone oozing out between each syllable.

Reagan, this is becoming a big ridiculous. It’s been months since I’ve been able to reach you and you know that this does not sit well with me. I need contact at all times. I know you’re trying to act all tough, distancing yourself again now that your grandfather is gone, but you are still apart of this family, whether you like it or not, and there are things and responsibilities you have to live up to as a Harvey. Now as our only child, it is expected of you to present an award to your father at his retirement banquet. You also have a speech to make, it’s being pre-written. I don’t expect you to have a date, not one that’s suitable to be seen in our limelight anyway, so I already have a date set up for you. CALL ME BACK so that we can discuss all of the upcoming dates. Bye.

No ‘Love, Mama’, No ‘I hope you had a great day’, and no ‘I love you’. Those were sentiments, along with others that had never been apart of Ramona Harvey’s vocabulary, and though Reagan should have been used to it, it still never sat well with her.

However, she could play at the detachment and ‘no love’ game just as well. It was only until recently, following the death of her beloved grandfather, that she’d stopped talking to her parents altogether. She’d moved out on her own, pulled herself out of the family business and spotlight and cut all ties emotionally and financially.

ONLY because her grandfather was a man who believed strongly in peace, love, and forgiveness… only because of him asking Reagan to make amends as his final wish, had she caved in and took the few steps he required to be at peace with leaving his family behind.

She deleted the message and headed into her bedroom, pulling down the side zipper of her dress. Letting it fall at her feet, she stepped out of it and picked it up, tossing it onto a chair she kept in front of her work desk.

Just as she was about to grab some things for a hot shower, her phone rang. Sitting on the right side of her bed, she picked up the receiver and silently counted to three. There was only one person who called her any time after eight p.m. on a weeknight. “Guess your little family is asleep and unaware that Daddy’s trying to creep.”

He chuckled, clearing his throat as he spoke lowly. That made Reagan believe she was right, and that his wife was somewhere close by. “Come on Reagan, at least you know now.”

“But your wife doesn’t know, Leon and that ain’t right. It was one thing when I was blind and playing fool, thinking that you were this great guy. But I am not a homewrecker, I refuse to try to put myself in any other woman’s shoes. YOUR WIFE doesn’t deserve that, your kids don’t deserve that and if you’re going to continue to mess up your home, it damn sure won’t be with me.”

Leon chuckled. “Oh, so now Ms. Reagan wants to act all holier-than-thou? Wasn’t no issue when you came after me though, was it?”

“It was no issue because you weren’t wearing your wedding ring! You knew you were married, it would have been nothing for you to stop me and let it be known that you had a wife. But no, because you were a selfish ass dog, you felt the need to lie to her and lead me on. I meant what I said when I caught on to your ways, it’s over. I don’t want anything to do with you.” Regan hung up, shaking her head as she made a mental note to call and get his number blocked.

Family problems, losing the person she loved most, bad luck with love… what else could go wrong for Reagan? That’s what she asked herself everyday, and the answer ‘everything’ only reaffirmed her new way of thinking. Life had a funny way of either going the way you wanted it to, or blowing up in your face. When she tried to live freely, just going with the natural flow of things, it blew up in her face. When she forced herself to focus on her career and kept herself guarded and protected, made no room for anything outside of work, things were just fine. And that was the way she liked it.

“All work and no play makes for a happy and sane Reagan. How I’m going to stay sane and happy while dealing with my mother and her foolishness, that’s a whole other task.” And she could feel a headache coming on, just as she thought about it. She quickly got up and grabbed some night clothes, heading into her bathroom to take a shower, de-stress, and clear her mind.

New Beginnings by Cortney Joseph

“I love you.”

The cool air of the ceiling fan blew over them as June lay with her head and hand atop Montgomery’s chest. He smoked a cigarette, careful to blow the smoke away from her face as she reveled in the natural high his love gave. Their afternoon had been filled with intense passion, he clung to her as if it would be his last chance to have his way.

June lay silently for a moment longer, taking in the words of the song that echoed from the old Victrola resting across the bedroom they occupied.

Take the ribbon from your hair. Shake it loose and let it fall. Lay it soft against my skin. Like the shadows on the wall. Come and lay down by my side, till the early morning light. All I’m takin’ is your time. Help me make it through the night.

“Did you hear me, June? I love you, with everything I have in me.” Of that she had no doubt.

“I love you too, Monty. More than life itself.”

And he needed no extra assurance. That thought and sentiment was all he needed to carry on with the next phase of his life. “Something happened that afternoon, after I saw you in that shop.”

“What’s that?”

“Seeing the both of you in the same place. Having what I have and what I want staring me in my face, both unaware of the other. Really making myself think about what’s important to me and what won’t matter years from now when I’m looking back on my life.” Taking another drag of his cigarette, Montgomery paused for a moment before blowing the smoke away from her face. “I asked her for the divorce.”

“You have before. And I’m sure that she talked you out of it again, in bed probably.”

Montgomery shook his head, asking her to sit up a moment so that he could put his cigarette out. It only took a second, and as he laid back, he pulled June into his arms. “Not this time. She and I haven’t shared a bed in months, and I didn’t bother to argue back with her, didn’t try to find a reason to make it work for the sake of image and all that other shit. Moved out of the house.”

June sat up quickly, shock written all over her face. “Where have you been staying? You only come here when I do.” Here was a small penthouse apartment Montgomery rented under the guise of ‘business’ trips that required him spending nights outside of Merrilville. His wife never cared enough to check behind or follow him to assure he was telling the truth. It’d become the space he shared with June for their rendezvous and private time.

Being that their trysts usually only happened on weekends, and had grown to be few and far in between in recent months, he kept the decor to a bare minimum, filling the space with only what he felt was necessary. 

“I’ve had trips after our little one, so hotels have been my home. But I’ll be moving my things in here soon. At first, I don’t think I was ready for the fight and problems that are going to ensue. I’m ready now. It’s gonna be nasty, and people I care about are going to think the worst of me, but I know it’ll be worth it in the end.”

“And how do you know?”

Closing his eyes, Montgomery spoke what he felt. “Because, I’ll have you in my corner. And you’ll have me. I’ll be yours, you’ll be mine, and we’ll spend the rest of our lives loving one another the way we deserved to be loved.”

“That sounds perfect.”

“And if I’m lucky, if I’m blessed enough; we’ll share and build a wonderful life and home. We’ll travel a bit, see the world like we always talk about. I know that I can’t wait to show you off, to pull you into my world fully, and share in yours. And in a few short years, fill our dream home with lots of happy memories and babies. Of course, I want a son. But I think I’d be blessed if I were given a daughter or two as beautiful as you.”

“I always thought you didn’t want children.” She’d settled with herself to be fine if that were his decision.

“Not with the wrong woman.” Montgomery opened his eyes, looking in June’s direction. Her smile sent his heart racing. “I want every fulfilling moment life has to offer with you, things that I’ll share with you and only you. That is, if I’m not too late.”

“So long as this moment came, Monty, it would have never been too late.” With ease, she sunk into his arms, loving the way his touch sent a surge of excitement through her body. “Make me yours.”

“Dear Sandy…” by Cortney Joseph

It’s when I’m all alone,

on quiet nights

with nothing more than the thoughts

and memories of moments past

of all the times I wished would last long past forever

all faded and distant like the stars I count

one by one with hopes of spotting your soul and smile

dancing between them, glimmers of hope and reassurance

that one day, some day soon, I’ll be alright

with my world as it stands now.

Empty.