“Untitled 3/26/22” by Cortney Joseph

In my dreams,

I have searched far and wide,

For the sight of you,

Just once more, for a moment more.

For the chance to talk,

For the chance to hold you close,

To express my gratitude, give thanks

For the time I had,

To be in your presence

To have been loved by you.

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a little random.

There have been so many things on my heart and mind as of late.

So much that it’s starting to make a bit of sense as to why I’ve been feeling so stuck and stagnant.

I hold on to so much fear and doubt, while simultaneously holding on to this idea that I have to follow and live this dream for someone else and not just myself.

Initially, in December of 2019 I thought I could quit my dreams and talent that God gave me because my reason for following them and trying to succeed was gone.

That was it, who else was there to do it for, right?

Then I realized that in my grief and anguish, God was tapping me on my shoulder telling me I wasn’t done. Nowhere near that.

Okay, cool.

So if I’m not done, why is it and has it still been so difficult over two years later? What am I holding on to mentally that’s blocking me from giving my all and doing my best at this gift I’ve been given?

As of today, I still don’t know.

But right here, in this post, I release whatever it is.

I let it go, and I’m moving forward… for me.

There’ll Be Bluebirds : Intro by Cortney Joseph

Intro (Sentimental Journey) :

Pressed closely to the window, William Taylor tried his best to find some sort of comfort in the seat he’d taken as he stared aimlessly at miles of trees that seemed to blend together without interruption.

He’d tuned out the sounds around him hours before, wondering when this part of his journey would come to an end. It had begun in another country, brought him home to the arms of his family safely, and away from their comfort when he could not regain confidence in his place. It no longer felt like home.

It took him to a new city, and then another, until it seemed nothing and nowhere near ‘home’ would satiate. He crossed state lines, searching.

His search for something different taking him to a place he’d only heard of once, though he couldn’t remember where or from whom he’d heard the name of the town. From the memories he could gather, it was to be quaint and peaceful, something he needed after years of strife and confusion.

For days before leaving the city, he’d held the thought that he’d miss the sight of buildings stacked on top of one another, cars piled up for miles, and bodies stumbling over more bodies as they walked hurriedly down sidewalks.

He didn’t. There was something about the long stretches of woodlands and excess bodies of water, the slow and quiet days, the short nights filled with the sounds of crickets and other critters that filtered through when he’d let the window down just to feel a breeze while he slept, that brought him a strange contentment. Brought about thoughts of someone he was certain he’d never met, a voice dancing in his memories though he couldn’t recall where he’d heard it. If he’d heard it all.

At brief moments when doubt hit, he felt a fool chasing something and nothing at the same time. 

Lifting the handkerchief he’d kept in his hand, he dabbed at the droplets of sweat that danced down the side of his face, praying for some sort of relief to come when the sun set. 

“You got that lost, empty stare I’ve seen on so many faces lately. You a soldier?”

Breaking from his thoughts, William looked to his left and gave a small nod. Beside him, sitting to the edge of the seat was an older gentleman, his wrinkled hands holding tightly to the back of the seat in front of them. He hadn’t noticed when the man joined him, but he swiftly made room by placing his bag between his legs. “Yessir.”

“Figured as much, though you look to be getting back on this side of the world a lot later than all the others.” William nodded again, assuring that he could move in closer out of the walkway. “Thank you for the seat. Kindest person I met on this bus. Where are you heading, Soldier?”

“Brooksdale.”

The older man leaned forward, staring intently over the brim of his glasses. He gave a look that confused William, one that nearly made him wonder if he’d made the right choice. “That’s where I’m from. Ain’t nothing there but shotgun homes and tumbleweed. A bit too slow for a youngin’ like yourself, if you ask me.”

“I’m thinking ‘slow’ is what I need right now, Sir. Seen a little too much fast action in the last few years and I don’t think I could handle much more at the moment.” William looked out the window again, leaning his head against the pane. “Slow will do me some good, I think.”

The older man nodded, making himself comfortable as he sat back in his seat. “I’m Herman, I’ll be glad to show you around when we make it there. Ain’t but two or three steps to take to see everything, but I’ll show you anyhow.”

“Nice to meet you Mr. Herman, I’m William. And I’d like that very much.”

Continuing in a comfortable silence, William found himself lost in his thoughts again. Slow is just what I need, he told himself 

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First WIP of 2022. “There’ll Be Bluebirds”.

I’m so excited to announce my first full project of the year!

I’m hoping for it to be a short novella or full novel (we’ll see what happens and how the story wishes to be told as I go along), and I have a feeling that it’s going to be one of my favorite stories to tell.

As I’ve learned about myself recently, I TRULY enjoy writing stories set in past decades, sometimes decades before I was even a thought. I truly believe that is my niche. I have my most fun as a creative doing the research and learning about the past while piecing together a world and story worth exploring through the eyes of a Millennial.

With that said, I’m so happy and excited to make a quick introduction of “There’ll Be Bluebirds”. I’m sure most of us are familiar with the myth or idea that the bluebird is a signifier of overall happiness and/or hope, of faith in the future and what may come.

While this may not be the final title for this work in process, happiness (or finding happiness) is what I intend to be the overall theme of the story.

Set in post war 1940s, an African American soldier finds himself in a town he’s never lived, trying to navigate a new life with unfamiliar yet friendly individuals. In one of those individuals, he feels a sense of peace and familiarity but neither of them has a full understanding of why. (this is NOT a full synopsis, just what I have for now).

I intend for this to be a bit of a drama and romance, but I have this tendency to blend multiple genres, so I’m not truly sure how to define it just yet. I can only say, as long as this idea has been in my head and the way it won’t go away, it is a story that I am meant to tell and it will come straight from my heart.

I will share the first few snippets or chapters here, with the full story being posted on my Wattpad.

I cannot wait to share, cannot wait for you all to meet these characters. With the growing ideas and the way I’m shaping them, I just know you’ll love them as much as I do.

xoxo, Cortney!

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#ValentinesDay Repost: Little Green Apples by Cortney Joseph

They were in his father’s apple orchard. Vibrant shades of green all around, providing a cooling amount of shade on a scorching summer day. A dainty hand lifted itself to pick of the fruit, a smile dancing across lightly glossed lips as she waited for a response. Time seemed to move a little too fast, and she wondered if he’d felt the quickness too.

He could only stare, admiring the way her skin glistened beneath the sunlight that forced its way through the leaves. The droplets of light kissed her bare shoulders the way he wished he could, gently with each slow move she made as they walked a straight line and filled baskets.

A hand placed at the small of her back, she froze at the chill that ran down her spine. Turning to face him, she smiled. Instantly lost in the beauty of his bright blue eyes.

“Am I only here to pick apples today, Liam? Or did you have other things in mind?”

 

Liam shook his head, tucking tufts of his curly blonde hair behind his ear. “This just seems to be the only way we can be around one another, without watchful eyes, to enjoy ourselves. Sucks not having a car; otherwise, I could take you all over the world for more fun.”

“What bit of it there is outside of Hollygrove, right?”

He nodded, shoving his hands into his pockets. Sweat was forming in his palms, his nervousness becoming far too evident. Liam chose to hide it, forcing a question that had been on his mind for quite some time. “Imani, I want to ask you something.” Moving to the next tree, she asked him to go on while she picked a few more apples. “How come you always leave at the end of the summer while your parents live here year-round? Don’t you ever miss them?”

“I still hear from them too often to actually miss them.”

“Ever miss Hollygrove?”

She stood still for a moment, taking the time to think before she answered his question. It was something she’d never focused on, something no one had ever bothered to ask her. Not her parents, not her guardians back home, and not the few people who knew of her summer trips and excursions.

She answered honestly. “I miss absolutely nothing about this place. Not the heat or the bugs, not the airs I have to put on when I’m here, the friends I am forced to associate with to keep appearances. Certainly not the country club. Nothing.” Liam lowered his head, and at that moment, Imani realized how harsh her words must have sounded. She dropped the apple she’d just picked into the basket beside her and turned to Liam, smiling. “Except for you. I always miss you. When the school year ends, and I know where my summer is going to be spent, you’re the first thing on my mind. The only thing that gets me excited to come here.”

“Ahh, Imani, you’re just saying that.”

Without warning, she threw her arms around Liam, holding on to him tightly until he returned the gesture and affection with a comforting embrace. He cared for Imani deeply, felt relief that she cared for him too. “I mean it. And I’m going to miss you, but I don’t want to dwell on it because I don’t want to cry.”

 

Imani pulled away, adjusting her top as she looked around aimlessly, her brown eyes landing on the bit of the sky that peeked through the trees. “And why dwell on it and think about it now? We’ve still got all afternoon to spend together before we have to get on with the hard part. No use in thinking about sad goodbyes right now.”

They were alone in the orchard, nothing to be heard but the sounds of a few birds tweeting and fluttering overhead. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Looking down at his watch, Liam took a deep breath. “Want to go somewhere else, find something to get into? Maybe we can meet up with Austin and Makenzie. I know how quickly you get bored being in one place for a long period.”

Imani shook her head, making an admission she’d kept to herself for many summers. “No, I like it here with just you and me. I like being around you, without others, because nothing is forced. Things are never weird or awkward. We can laugh and chat away about any and everything, or we can just chill while doing and saying nothing at all. I like the comfort I feel, that we can be bored together and still somehow have the best times. I like that this has become our thing. I enjoy your company, the safe spaces you create for us to be free. Most importantly, I’m not ready to share my best friend with anyone else. Not while I still have time to keep you all to myself. If that’s okay with you.”

Throwing his arm over her shoulder, Liam planted a kiss on Imani’s cheek. “Perfect.”

 

The remainder of their afternoon was spent in bliss and contentment. Their time in the orchard ended, to be followed immediately with a playful swim at a lake only they knew about, hidden away from the prim and proper surroundings of the gated community their parents loved so much. Away from the eyes and negative energy of those that didn’t approve of their relationship in the first place.

When that concluded, they lay beneath the setting sun, lightly swatting away the few bugs that dared to flit around them as they talked about everything and nothing.

When she returned to her parents’ home, Imani was greeted with packed bags sitting beside the front door. They were lively, oblivious to the lack of excitement in her eyes. Walking into the living room, she spoke softly as her mother and father shared an embrace, dancing with one another the way they did every evening. Their love and zest for their life evident and sickening to the sixteen-year-old that stood before them. “Celebrating early, huh?”

“Don’t start that, Imani.” She threw her hands up, taking a seat on the couch as she watched them sway back and forth. She recognized the song playing as her mother’s favorite Nat King Cole standard.

“I just think it’s a mighty big coincidence that you’re busy all summer long, and then the night before I leave to go home, suddenly, you have all the time in the world to laugh and enjoy life. Must be great to get the kid out of your hair.”

Candice sighed lightly, slipping out of her husband’s arms. “Now you know better than that, Imani. There’s no place we’d rather you be than here with us. But we want you to have the absolute best in everything, and that includes education. As great as Hollygrove is for the wealthy, their school system is not one of the best. We kept you at St. Croix because they have the best teachers, the best programs, top rated…”

“Yeah, you’ve explained it all already, Mom. It’s fine.” It wasn’t. However, at this point in her life, Imani had learned that there was absolutely no use in arguing back and forth with her mother. A woman who made up her mind the first time, and kept it made up for all eternity. Her father, though she adored him, simply shelled out the money and Imani had yet to be able to step to him without him offering a raise in her allowance as a solution.

 

Kirk looked at his young daughter, pained to see anything other than the bright and beautiful smile Imani usually wore. Taking a seat beside her, he waited patiently for her to move into his open arms, holding her close as he spoke. “I know it’s not easy, but before you know it, you’ll be back with us. How about next summer we take a family trip?”

Candice perked up, nodding her head in agreement. “Yes! I bet you still want to go to Paris. It’ll be an awesome trip before your senior year, and you’ll have so much to tell all the girls at St. Croix.”

“I don’t even like them, but sure.”

Candice continued, brimming with excitement as plans formulated in her mind. “In fact, we can spend the whole summer traveling around Europe. Lots of food, lots of shopping, the arts and theater. How’s that sound?”

Imani shrugged her shoulders, wiggling out of her father’s grasp before she stood. “How can I object? You’ll think something’s wrong with me if I do.” She headed upstairs to wash up.

Dinner was short, to her relief, and she made the first excuse she could think of to avoid last minute family time.

 

Imani rushed to her room, locking the door so that neither of her parents would barge in unannounced. She set an easy atmosphere for herself within her personal space, throwing on a pair of shorts and an old hockey jersey after a long shower. Lying back on her bed, her box braids dangling over the side, she stared at the ceiling, wondering if Liam were thinking of her too.

As she did at the end of every summer, she wished she’d gathered the nerve to tell him everything she felt for him. The things that went beyond what she knew best friends should feel for one another. And at the same time, she thought they may have not been meant to be anything more than what they were.

Just as she felt herself dozing off, lightly humming along to the song playing from her stereo, her phone began to ring. Looking over at her nightstand, the lights flashed throughout the clear receiver and it’s base. Turning on her stomach, she reached over and took the phone off the hook, placing it to her ear a moment later.

Her voice was soft, fatigue dripping through the single word she spoke. “Hello?”

“I don’t think that last goodbye was good enough. I think we should keep talking until the very last minute possible.”

A smile spread across her face as she twisted the phone cord around her fingers, lying back as she shook off her sleepiness, jumping into another conversation with Liam. They’d say all they had to say now, Imani would make sure of it.

There’s Progress…

I think we all put ourselves on some type of timeline/deadline to have things done. We set our minds on something and we all believe it’s going to happen exactly when we say.

For some people, things do work out just like that.

For me, not so much. And, as I’ve said before, I’m learning to be okay with things not happening my way or happening a lot slower than I anticipated.

As I get into a good flow that works for me now, I’ve been looking back at and picking up on different projects to see what recaptures my interest.

One of the things I’ve focused on again is what I dubbed my final poetry collection. I had begun it with the hopes of having it published at some point in 2020. Life happened, naturally, and I let that slip away from me.

I took a look at it again last night, added to it, and I can say with confidence that it’s back in the forefront of things I’d like to share at some point this year. In the past, I’ve published a total seven poetry collections. All of which were relatively short, four of which I’ve since removed from Amazon because I wanted to rework certain poems and include them in this final collection. I’m aiming to make this one my largest, twenty to forty poems total (as it stands in this early draft, I’ve got twenty-three) and I hope to publish it.

My goal for 2022, which I’m keeping very small, is to publish two or three big projects.

  1. Final Poetry Collection.
  2. First Short Story Collection (I have so many ideas for this, but not sure where I want to start)
  3. My debut novel (which I’m going back and forth between Fly Girl and something completely different).

Those are a few of the plans in my mind, and I think it helps me to write them out (and not just speak them and allow myself to forget about them).

All of this to say, there’s progress being made. Progress is slow, but it’s still good progress and I’m growing more excited every day for all of my ideas, plans, goals, and more.

I’ve also been discovering new talents and passions and I can’t wait to share those as well!

As always, thanks so much for sticking around with me and see you soon with something new!

xoxo, Cortney.

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The Long Hot Summer [Snippet] by Cortney Joseph

Hey! dropping in to drop off a NEW short story!

I titled this as a snippet because typically with my short stories I don’t feel a need to write more once I finish, but this one introduces a character that I feel needs her own full story. I’ve had the title The Long Hot Summer in my head for a while, and the idea of a story set in the 1940s in my head for a while. I just may try to combine the two.

Lastly, I’ve implemented something new at the end of the story. Leave a round of applause via the ‘hand clap button’ if you enjoyed!

xoxo, Cortney.

___________________________

Madelyn tossed and turned for what seemed like hours, the sweltering summer heat and the night’s noises taking over the small space of her bedroom. There was no peace to be found, crickets chirping their melodic tunes as she dabbed away the beads of sweat that dripped down her arms and legs.

She’d retired just after dinner, hoping to relax and rid herself of the day’s stress. No luck.

She was far too uncomfortable, and there seemed to be no relief in sight.

Beneath her opened bedroom window, there was a sudden disturbance. Rustling of broken branches and leaves. She tried her best to ignore it, to set her mind on counting sheep in hopes of dozing off.

And then, a voice.

“Sugah.” It was faint, but instantly recognizable. And as annoyed as she wished to be at the thought of someone ‘intruding’ at such a late hour, a tiny smile etched itself across Madelyn’s lips. “Sugah, you awake?”

I should let him stand there, get himself in trouble, she thought. It would serve him right after what he’d done.

“Sugah, I’m sorry. Please talk to me.”

Madelyn rose slowly, pulling at the straps of her nightgown. She adjusted them on her shoulders, making herself as presentable as one could look at three am. She took her time, laughing to herself at the way he dragged out her nickname, his heavy drawl making it sound all the sweeter.

Propping herself against the windowsill, she leaned forward with her head out, a stern glare on her face. “Do you know what time it is, Raynard?”

“Far too late to call on a lady, I know. But Sugah, I just had to see you.”

“You missed that chance when you stood me up tonight, last night, and the night before. Get away from here, please, before my daddy wakes up.”

“Sugaah, please. I can explain.”

She stepped out of view, hiding herself behind curtains as he drawled on about a mishap, losing track of time, and other excuses. Things she’d heard time and time again, things she’d hear over and over if she allowed Raynard to continue stringing her along.

“I really did lose track of time. Jerry blew through town, and you know how it goes when you haven’t seen friends in a long time. You know how the fellas and I get. Do you want to know every place we visited, what we did, what we ate, who we spoke to?”

“Oh, I can just about imagine, some I won’t even dare to name.” Her tone wasn’t as sweet as Raynard had become accustomed to, it seemed to drip with a bit of disdain suddenly. Accusation lingered in the space between them.

He hung his head, only for a moment, knowing it would be of no use to deny or argue any idea she might have had. She’d more than likely be correct in her assumptions. “At least I’m here now. Sugah, I love you more than anything in this world, you know that.”

She returned to the windowsill, staring at him harshly. “You sure have a funny way of showing it.” Lowering her voice, hating the thought of waking her parents, Madelyn continued. “You know, I’ve wasted years of my life sitting in this very window. Waiting and pining away for someone everyone else swears is the perfect catch for a girl like me. You’ll be a spinster Madelyn, you’ll grow old alone, Madelyn. Sometimes a man must do a little more exploring before he’s certain, Madelyn, doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. And I believed that, for a long time. Now, the more excuses and lies you toss my way Raynard, the more I start to think and feel that being alone might be much better than being lonely in the company of someone that seems so uncertain of what they have with me.”

“Sugah, do you hear yourself?”

“Yes, quite well. I’m tired, and from far more than this heat.”

The fact was everyone was so used Madelyn accepting whatever was thrown her way. Be it directions, plans for her life, excuses for their failures and short comings, feelings, ideas, and more. No matter how they claimed to love her; not a single individual in her life cared to ask Madelyn what she wanted or how she felt about anything.

That included her love life. She was expected to enjoy and be grateful for any match her parents suggested. She was expected to be gleeful at the prospect of playing second to whomever and whatever said match involved himself with.

And while she loved Raynard Valentine dearly, while she truly felt he could be the love of her life, Madelyn felt it painfully obvious that it were time she loved herself just a tad bit more.

“Goodnight Raynard, and goodbye.”

“Goodbye? Madelyn Woodley, what in the world are you going to do without me?”

She took a deep breath, standing straight. The smile that had originally formed itself at the sound of his voice returned and widened at the possibilities that began to fill her mind. “I don’t know, but I think I’ll have fun finding out.”

Closing her window and curtains, Madelyn returned to her bed. Still no relief to be found from the heat, at least there was one less thing she had to worry over now.

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Hello There…

Soooo …

I thought a new schedule meant that writing again would be easy for me, it would flow naturally because I have time now.

LOL, I was so wrong.

And no, I’m not counting myself out and I haven’t lost my excitement or belief in myself. It’s just that while the ideas present themself daily, getting them from my mind to the tips of my fingers to paper or word document has been a rollercoaster, to say the least.

I had such high hopes for myself for January, only to find myself so tired and my body still reacting as if I were still working a schedule I held for six years. It’s been a constant reminder to myself that years can’t be undone in a day (or even in two months post change).

With that thought, I’ve been allowing myself a lot more grace rather than getting angry at myself for not completing tasks, not writing, not reading and anything else I’m supposed to be doing to further my craft, site, and brand.

I gently remind myself that there is no time limit, my gift is here and mine forever, and I can only go UP from where I am now. It’s that kindness towards myself that’s been allowing me to push forward instead of shutting down like I would before.

Just thought I’d share that, and well wishes for you all who are still here with me. I hope February brings us all greatness! & see you soon with new playlists to write to, and new stories/poems by myself and fellow writers.

xoxo, Cortney!

Writer’s Spotlight : You’re In Big Treble by Paris Daniels

Hi guys!

For some time, I’d been speaking on hosting an artist spotlight or corner of sorts to promote some of my favorite reads, fellow writers who are both friends and supporters of me, family, other artists, etc.

Well, that starts today and I am beyond excited for my first spotlight to focus on fellow writer, Paris Daniels.

A writer, musician, and music educator from Louisiana, Paris Daniels authored and published her first children’s book, You’re In Big Treble (featuring illustrations from Paris Edwards), in 2019. A cute and fun quick read for parents to share with their children, or teachers with their students.

While I, myself, haven’t ventured into music classes or played my clarinet in years; I found this to be such a cute way to showcase the names of notes (we meet Bass, Quarter, and more), how one can move up and down lines and spaces, and where/when the conductor needs them as Treble asks to play with her friends while she is at rest.

I found this to be an adorable read with clear and pretty illustration and would recommend for anyone looking to introduce their young children or grandchildren to music education in an easy and quick form early.

Below I’ve included a photo of You’re In Big Treble (clinking the photo will take you directly to Amazon) along with it’s synopsis below for anyone who may be interested.

As a fellow writer, and family, I can’t express how beyond proud I am of Paris for taking the big leap a lot of us are afraid of. PUBLISHING! And doing so on her own. I can’t wait for what she brings next, as all authors are, your gifts are truly needed and appreciated.

In Staffland, there is always moves being conducted. But, one day as Treble was venturing out throughout Staffland she receives news that she is in BIG trouble ! This creative music book is perfect for young readers, music educators and anyone who has a love for music. It details note and staff names, note values and musical terms.” – Paris Daniels, 2019.