Janina Grey has been writing since she could hold a crayon, and there has been no stopping her since. Journaling, short stories, poetry, newsletters, news, feature, columns, Op/Eds, and press releases have kept her busy her whole life. But it was the sweet romances she read in her downtime that stayed forever in her heart and gave her the inspiration to write her own.
Growing up on Long Island and living periodically in Tennessee as a youth has given her the opportunity to meet many different types of people and experience many different lifestyles. After moving from Long Island to settle in upstate New York with her family, she found the support needed to pursue her writing endeavors.
When Janina is not writing, she may be marching for women’s rights, kayaking, camping, drumming, or dancing around the fire. With her two children grown, she and her husband, David, share their 110-year-old Mohawk Valley farmhouse homestead with a few resident spirits and a very squawky murder of crows.
Beverley: What’s your name?
Brooke: My name is Brooke. Brooke Meadows. Don’t laugh. My parents were kinda well . . . hippy wannabe’s? Josh insists I was conceived under the stage of a Grateful Dead concert, but, hey, I’m not that old.
Beverley: Where did you grow up?
Brooke: California. And we can leave it at that.
Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?
Brooke: I like to live my life by the adage “Now is the only moment.” This part of my journey began in August of 2018, about three weeks before I even met Josh. When his wife, um sorry-dead wife- Rosalie, began visiting me to tell me she had a message for her husband.
Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
Brooke: To be honest, I have no idea why anyone would want to tell my story. I imagine this all would have never happened if Dee and Doug hadn’t come up with that crazy idea to shop our ‘talents’ off-site. Anyway, my story is pretty simple, and if you don’t want to believe it, that’s fine. I had a great life in Cali. I had a great job and in my spare time, I was a hospice volunteer. It was a quiet life, but I like quiet. I don’t like drama. But then . . . I’m not comfortable dredging that crap up, so let’s just say it was time to fly. I came out to New York after hearing about the need for a camp photographer, and to escape all the negativity. And, when it comes down to it, I was trying to get away from the voices. I thought I was going crazy. But it was all part of my journey.
Beverley: What’s your goal in this story? B rooke: If you mean, what’s my goal in life, it’s to heal people’s hearts. To give them hope and a reason to go on. If you’re talking about the story of this part of my journey, well. I guess it’s to let people know that ‘this’ is not all there is. There is life beyond our trauma, beyond the trauma and drama we call life. It’s cyclical and infinite. I guess another goal in my ‘story’ would be to show people how the Universe works in mysterious ways, and that sometimes we just have let go, let flow, and understand that it will all work out the way it’s supposed to in the end. We just have to trust in the Universe.
Beverley: What conflicts are you facing? Brooke: Ugh. What conflicts am I not facing? First of all, I was not ready for a relationship. I came here to get away from people. Not get involved with anyone. I’ve had plenty of opportunities but no. I’m still healing. And besides, I’m on a mission. I have messages to deliver. So, I guess my first conflict was my attraction for Josh. Everything was fine until he stepped off the bus. And only got worse when he took off his sunnies. Then when he smiled at me. And then . . . when he almost kissed me. I tried to tell Alyssa and Kyle that I was uncomfortable working with him, but because I’m the only deathwalker they had, and he was the only client this session who was dealing with grief from losing his wife and two daughters, well. Tag, I’m it. They said since I wasn’t his counselor or therapist, they had no issue with it. Falling for a client seemed really unethical. I was not happy with what I was feeling and I tried hard to compartmentalize. But the more professional I tried to be, the harder it was to ignore the attraction we were experiencing. —Do you want me to keep going? — Okay. I mean, my life feels like one big conflict. Finally, ugh. I love Josh dearly, but he’s a control freak and I hate (WILL NOT) be controlled. By anyone. Ever. Why does this interview feel like one of my therapy sessions?
Beverley : Do you have a plan for resolving them?
Brooke: Usually, conflict resolves me. As much as I try to avoid drama and stress, I’m starting to realize I cop out with my avoidance tactics. I say I’m living life to the fullest, but I’m actually avoiding life whenever there is any semblance of conflict. I’m afraid of getting close to people. Afraid of people thinking I’m lying about the messages. They thought I was lying about, well. Things in my past and I wasn’t. So, I moved away. Ugh. I guess my plan for resolving conflicts is running. That’s not good, is it?
So, yeah. I guess I don’t really have plans for resolving my conflicts. Wow. That’s telling, isn’t it? I just ebb and flow, like the tides and the moon. I go where my heart leads me. And usually that’s how my conflicts get resolved, by resolving me.
Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Brooke: I love coffee, margaritas, naps- whether it’s under the sun on this pretty cool flat boulder at the top of one of the trails I hike, or curled up on the front porch under a blanket on a rainy afternoon. I love hiking, especially that one particular trail that leads to this glorious summit, where you can see for miles and miles.
I love taking pictures, immortalizing someone’s brilliant smile, or the despair they feel as they hit rock bottom, just before they begin the ascent of their most vital journey of healing.
I don’t like to be tied down. This may sound a little controversial, but I’m not a big proponent of the Patriarchy. Like I said earlier, I hate being controlled. Especially by men.
Finally. I’m a witch. Not the Hollywood kind that shoots fire from their fingertips. Just the normal kind. You know, like the kind you work with, shop with, live next door to, even if you don’t know it. Some people prefer the term ‘Pagan.’ So yeah, I’m Pagan.
Blurb for LOVE IN THE FOREST
Step into the mystical and magical forests of Upstate New York, where Earth and Sky camp photographer Brooke Meadows has taken refuge from the demons of her past as she uses her ability to communicate with the dead to heal loved ones left behind.
Unable to cope with the loss of his wife and daughters three years prior, Josh Quinn, CEO of the number one dating site Quirkyflirt.com, is ordered by his board president to take a break from his Big Apple Headquarters. He finds himself at Earth and Sky Retreats, where confronting his grief has led him to experience a life-altering transformation and re-evaluation of reality.
Will Josh leave behind his fast-paced, high society life in the concrete mountains of New York City, for the magical, bewitching world Brooke reveals to him in the foothills of the Adirondacks?
Will Brooke acknowledge and accept her own journey of transformation and healing as she and Josh explore the winding paths and summits that lead them to find love in the forest?
Excerpt from LOVE IN THE FOREST
“So, you guys really think you can heal people in three weeks? Make them functioning members of society?” He raised one eyebrow in disbelief.
“Well, yes and no. Yes, the healing process definitely begins here if the person is ready. If so, we help them build the foundation where they can continue healing. We can’t force you guys to heal. We can show you how to begin to heal and how to keep healing—if you want to.” She studied his face as he nodded thoughtfully.
“I think I’m ready.”
“I know.” She jumped off the boulder.
“Thank you,” he said, remaining on the rock as his demeanor changed from sunny to cloudy. “For not staying angry with me about last night, about the kiss.”
“No worries, thank you for believing me about Rosalie,” she replied, capturing his gaze as she took off her sunnies. “Besides, I may have overreacted a little bit.”
“No. You didn’t. I don’t force myself on anyone. I don’t know what got into me. And I just needed to tell you I was sorry in the light of day, so you could see I meant it.”
His sincerity seemed genuine enough for Brooke. And although his eyes were warm, she detected a hint of sadness. Or was it regret? Her butterflies flitted and she steeled herself against the impulse to pull him close and kiss him. Talk about mixed messages.
“Shh,” Brooke said. “I accept your apology. But in the future, remember I’m super big on consent, FYI.” She leaned against the rock and studied the toes of her hiking boots as he jumped down and stood beside her.
“So am I. And I respect you and admire you, and I trust you. And last night I totally blew it.”
“Almost. Almost blew it. You weren’t entirely wrong to go there. It was just bad timing.” She wrapped an arm around his waist and gave a quick squeeze of a hug. “We’d just experienced something really emotional, and traumatizing, and in a way, it forged us together and—”
“Bad timing?” He cupped her chin, his eyes questioning.
She held her breath, her lips parted as she dropped her gaze to his mouth, wanting so desperately to ease away and replace the bad memory of their first kiss.
“Well. Yeah.” She tried to speak but lost her ability to form a coherent sentence. All she could think about at the moment was how the world was right when he stood by her, how he wore fresh air like an expensive cologne, and how her body felt as brilliant as the first rays of the morning sun when he touched her.
“Is this what consent looks like, Brooke?” he whispered and dipped his head.
“I don’t know anymore. I can’t think when I’m around you,” she said, lifting her arms to rest on his shoulders as he turned into her, drawing her close.
“This sure feels like consent,” he murmured, closing his eyes, nudging her nose with his.
She molded into him, her hands cradling his head. His hair was soft against her fingers, his body hard against hers, his breath minty as he paused, waiting for her, she knew. Tipping her head up ever so slightly, she brushed her lips against his.
He leaned back, searching her face. “You sure?” His voice was wavering, hesitant.
You want this, she reminded herself, as her heart beat a steady rhythm against her ribcage. “Yes.” Her answer caressed his lips just a hairsbreadth away.
He growled low and deep as he buried his face in her hair, nuzzling the vulnerable, tender spot just below her ear. He left a trail of kisses along the soft curve of her neck, her jawline, before he claimed her mouth with a gentle fierceness not unlike that of a late afternoon thunderstorm.
Desire like heat lightning rolled through her body as she responded, tracing her hands down his spine, over the hardened muscles sculpting his back, pulling him into her.
His kiss deepened, and she welcomed him, forgetting about everything she had run from, everything she hid behind, knowing this was where she was supposed to be. At least for right now.
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