Friday, April 7, 2017

You Should Know

My List of Goals is displayed in my room where I see it every day. It reminds me this is what I should be writing. What I should be working on. It's been difficult to get back into the swing of writing.

Mostly I've been taking notes.

Weeks like this week have not exactly been making it any easier. I'll let you read the update on my Mommy Blog to spare myself from having to repost. It's not all bad. The only thing I left out was the passing of my uncle John. He was a pretty cool guy, and he'll be missed.

The up side of my neurologist's suggestion is that, if it works, it should enable me to write more. That will be exciting.

I'll keep you posted.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Writing Again

With a title like that, I suppose you know what's coming. :)

I got some good news from the doctor. While my brain injury is still going strong (particularly after falling in the shower Feb 17), my leg is clot free AND my blood thinness is at therapeutic level. So double yay! I'm not waiting for everything to be perfect. Nobody can ask for that.

For 2017, I've set a personal goal: write 12 stories. It helps me immensely to organize, so I wrote my projected stories down in a list and put it up in my bedroom where I can see it every day. A couple are full length novels, but most are short stories and novellas. I can't say if or when any will be published, because there are outside factors at play, but this year I WRITE!

Also, it is time to say goodbye to this beautiful piece of cover art. A while back, I posted my intention of retiring Ghost Bride as a stand alone short story. I've finally gotten around to adding the micro fiction to the back of my ghost novella, A Haunting Love. Rereading Ghost Bride reminded me of all the things I love about the story, and while I realize the chief complaint about the story is that it's too short (which to an author is music), I think putting it at the back of another story will be a good fit. Plus, now, it is finally available in print! Before, because of it's length, that wasn't possible.

I've also begun the process of removing myself from Smashwords. I've found it hasn't done me much good over the past 3 years, and I'm clearing out the less useful parts of my writer life. Draft2Digital serves me much better, and between that and Amazon I've covered a much larger audience.

The other thing I've spent time doing was a little more risky, and I did it without consulting a single other published author--which was unlike me. Amazon publishing, at the beginning of this year, opened up the option for print books to be created alongside your Kindle e-books. It is a fledgling venture, still with many bugs to work out, but they offered a simple conversion from Createspace for those of us who have created books there to bring them over from Createspace to Amazon publishing and link them up to their Kindle companions.

I have now done this successfully with every single one of my self published titles. It wasn't easy. At least three of the covers required tweaking, despite the fact they were approved on Createspace. (like I said, the Amazon publishing's print process is still very new) One cover, Birthright, was rejected, I resubmitted without making any changes, and it was accepted. So I tried that with the other two (a few times, actually) but that didn't work.

My reasonings for the change are as follows: Createspace is an Amazon creation, and if they are doing print books differently, I feel it's with an intention to eventually do away with that option on Createspace. I also like having the Kindle and print books in the same place, rather than in different places. Not to mention how royalties were calculated. You'd get a higher royalty with a Createspace book if someone bought it from Createspace's site, but nearly everyone bought it from Amazon, where the royalty was lower. All in all, this just seems like a more streamlined process, though I am looking forward to when they get some of their bugs worked out. For instance, the author can't order proof copies yet. It's something they plan to offer in the future. So I just paid retail for a copy of each of my books to make sure they look as good in person as they do in the digital proof (and as good as they did through Createspace), and got a royalty off of each book I purchased. It's weird and silly.

But, all things considered, I'm starting to feel like an author again.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

In Which Truths are Exposed

Have you ever felt like you were cursed?

I'm not talking about like something you'd read about in a novel, or watch in a creepy movie, but have you ever tried to do something that felt like the right thing to do--and everyone told you was the right thing to do--but no matter how hard you tried it never worked out?

How much effort do you put into that until you stop? Until you give up and say, "Self, this is not working. We need to find another approach to this problem. Before I die."

I've been pondering this question a lot lately. If you've followed this blog at all over the last 2 years or so, then you know in addition to being a writer, I've worked to supplement the family income. There have been times over my almost 21 years of marriage that I didn't have to work and was able to focus on raising my kids, but there have also been times when working has been necessary for our family's survival. Most recently, I had a home day care, I worked retail, and I cleaned banks after hours.

I quit the retail job for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is they offered me the store--literally. Store manager.), the most prominent being my kids. That job was taking more of my time away from my family than they could handle at that delicate stage of development, and my oldest was getting into some trouble. My husband and I discussed, prayed, and pondered our options extensively. Extensively. I agonized over this. And, at that time, I came to realize that what I needed to do was focus on my writing and my family. So I did. And I published more stories, but my publishing career never really went anywhere.

Meanwhile, my kids are doing wonderfully. And I don't want to knock that. I really don't. And I don't in any way want to minimize that. They astound and impress me with their resilience, their growth, their love, and their patience. I love them so much. I have one son out in the world, two boys about to join him, and two girls growing up way too fast. But personally, I'm frustrated. Stymied. We hit another really bad financial patch in 2015 and, despite what I knew I should do (stay at home and focus on my writing and my family), I felt like an idiot for not rejoining the workforce and financially helping my family.

It seemed like a simple matter of checks and balances. Bryan was struggling to find work. Everywhere he applied turned him down. Meanwhile we had bills piling up. And I was feeling the pressure. You know what I'm talking about. The "why isn't *she* working?" pressure. I've been working most of my life, since my preteens when kids still delivered newspapers. It's not like I was bringing in anything truly tangible with my book sales. Not enough to pay the bills, certainly. I'm just one of thousands of authors trying to sell in a saturated market. If readers haven't heard of you they aren't going to know you're there. Period. And I haven't found marketing that works. (yet)

So I started filling out applications. It seemed harmless enough. It seemed the right thing to do. Family needed money. And I got hired. Actually, within 2 weeks I had 3 job offers. I started at the first place, but got a horrible, soul crushing vibe after a couple of days and took a second offer. The third place wasn't worth considering. This new job seemed perfect. The pay was decent, the hours were fine--I'm kind of a night owl anyway--and the work wasn't anything I hadn't done before. It even sparked a cool story idea.

I started working my schedule around my new job. I could go to work, sleep the morning hours away, write for a few hours while the kids were in school, and then have the afternoon to spend with my family. It was quickly becoming the ideal job. In a scenario where I didn't necessarily want to have to work outside the home, this was the best kind of set up I could hope for. I was grateful.

Then it happened. While vacuuming one night I bent down to pick up some paper clips and rubber bands because the vacuum doesn't pick them up, and when I straightened I was too close to the counter. You know, those pretty and incredibly solid counters they have at banks. At the time I had no idea how much damage I had actually done. August 1, 2015. Today is Feb 1. 2017. I'm still living with the effects. Constant headaches. Anxiety. Dizziness. I'm much improved, thank goodness. But I still don't drive. I have a migraine that hasn't stopped in 18 months. It's weird, because I think I'm adapting to it--that and other pains have taught me that it could be so. much. worse.

But you've heard all this before. BAM. Head injury. Months of misery. Lawyer. Settlement. And then...what?

I took a year off of writing (mostly--don't kill me) to try and rest my brain and let it heal. I tried really hard not to expose myself to a lot of stimuli that I'd found in the early months of my injury to be triggers--animation, the computer, TV, movies, bright lights, motion, sound, music. Some things I just can't avoid. But, like I've said there has been some improvement. I can handle church much better now. I went to my daughters' choir concerts in December. Heavily medicated and had to rest for days after like a big baby, but I went. I'm *tired* of missing out on everything. I still can't handle my son's basketball games, and this is his last season. But you're not keeping me from his track meets this spring.

But taking a year "off" means, basically, that everyone forgets you exist. (which also means nobody is reading this so I can basically say whatever I want) Like that I still have heaps and heaps of anxiety, and nothing that has happened in the past year has improved that at all. Especially since last fall.

I know you didn't miss that adventure.

September 15--I tried to go to my Dr because my leg hurt so bad I wanted to saw it off. After over a year of my head hurting so horribly, I thought I knew pain. I'm a mom. I've done labor. I've done surgery. Ha. Just ha.

Dr sent me straight to the ER. Didn't even pass go. Blood clot. They weren't even kidding. The clot was from my knee all the way up past my groin. My leg swelled up almost twice its normal size. I was sporting a flesh colored log. The pain was indescribable. I can't even. Walking was murder. Trying to get myself to the bathroom? Ugh. I mean, you think you're a shy, modest person--and then you're suddenly in a situation where you can't possibly see to your own bathroom needs and have to have someone help you. They kept me in the hospital over the weekend, fed me a bunch of blood thinners, and then sent me home under observation.

I was back the next day because I was bleeding internally and severely anemic. And still in so much pain. Go figure. Time to switch blood thinners. They kept me another week, and then transferred me to a hospital in OKC to do a procedure that would hopefully blast the clot to bits. It involved using a whole lot of blood thinners in high doses. Until Bryan casually mentions to the surgeon about my internal bleeding of the week before. Surgeon says, "What?!" (right hand meet left hand. It's called communication!)

"How close did we come to losing her?" "Very close."

They ended up doing a different procedure involving that same surgeon (thanks Dr Neel) and a cardiac surgeon which basically involved a specialized roto-rooter into the vein to bust up the clot and a stent in my vein to keep it open.

Here's the fun (and official) diagnosis. I have a physical defect where the illiac artery sits over top of my illiac vein. Because of my head injury and my year of minimized physical activity (because motion increased my blood flow which increased my headache pain--fun times) it led to a clot. Had I been able to remain active I probably never would have had a problem. It's possible I would have, but more likely I wouldn't have. However, now that they have had to go in and remove a clot--and a big one at that--my vein is more likely to "hold" blood (they said going in and rooting out the clot like they did made the vein "stickier" which isn't accurate but it's a term that serves the purpose). Basically I'm likelier to clot again. The stent is supposed to keep the artery from pressing the vein closed so blood will flow.

So I have the blood clot issue, which means I have to move and be active, and the head injury issue, which means I have more pain the more active I am. Somewhere in there is balance. Still working on that.

I was home a week, during which I got to meet my sweet new granddaughter, when I was sent back to the hospital because I was having trouble breathing. I had accumulated fluid in my right chest. Everyone was scared, because of my bleeding issues before, that it was blood. Turns out it wasn't, but we had to wait a week before we could find out. They wouldn't drain the fluid until my INR (how they range my blood's thinness) was out of therapeutic range and back to normal range. They didn't want to use medication to push it back to normal but wanted it to go down on its own. So we waited.

The chest pain was tough. It was like having a real bad catch in your chest when you try to take a deep breath, and then something presses your lungs together. In the end they took out 1500 ml from my chest--that 1.5 liters, for the next time you grab a coke. Just on the right side. That wasn't even all of it, but the tech wouldn't remove more for fear of causing complications. The rest had to reabsorb over time.

Recovering from that while recovering from the blood clot in my leg made me feel pretty pathetic. With the walker. And barely able to make the trek to and from my own bathroom. Trying to find comfortable positions on my furniture or in my own bed. Fortunately the walker didn't last long, but I was anxious to get back on my "own feet" again. Looking back now, being off the pain meds and able to walk on my own, it's amazing how far I've come.

Back to feeling cursed. That's a choice, really. I mean, I could look at this whole mess as, "I tried to get a job to help my family and now I can't even work outside the home anymore!" Because, seriously, I've given it careful consideration and even if I was able to drive I'm still not able to be on my feet for long stretches of time. I choose to feel, though, that there has to be a more positive way to look at this whole debacle.

I do still feel a great responsibility to bring income into the family. We're still in need of it. That's why I started my apron business on ETSY. And I've also added my print books to the store as well. Or you can find the ebooks through my AMAZON page. Lately, I've felt a very strong need to start writing again. I honestly don't know how well that's going to go. The headaches get worse when I write, so I still have to pace myself. This past year or so has taught me a lot, about myself, about my friends and my family.

I'm not looking for charity, or pity. I'm just like you--a person trying to do their very best with what they have. I don't always make the best decisions, but I'm trying. I won't give up. My family has needs, and I intend to do what I can to provide for them.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Things to Know

A Haunting Love is one of my favorite spooky stories, and just as soon as things settle down in my little world I'm going to add a bonus to both the print and e-book versions of the story--my microstory, Ghost Bride. Once I do that, I'll be removing Ghost Bride as a stand alone purchase. It will only be available as a bonus feature at the end of A Haunting Love.

You can purchase it HERE (for your other formats) and also on AMAZON

As far as writing news, I'm afraid that's all the updates I have for you. It's been an incredibly rocky 2016. I just posted the most recent update on my PERSONAL BLOG for anyone who'd care to read the gritty details of my near-death experiences. (yes, unfortunately, that's plural)

While I'm recuperating, and until I can get back to stringing together words and sewing aprons to sell, I hope you can have some patience with me. It's been pretty grueling, and to be honest I'm still processing most of it. Everything happened so fast. I mean, 5 weeks ago all I was worried about healthwise was my stupid concussion migraines.

In the meantime, though, you can content yourselves with my fun child and adult aprons on my ETSY STORE. I'm not up to taking custom orders right now, but hopefully soon.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Turn the Page

That's how you begin a new chapter.

This coming Friday marks 11 months since my "traumatic brain injury." I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate that phrase. It's just stupid. It doesn't mean anything, because it encompasses so much it's impossible to define in real earth terms.

Tomorrow we go to court and sign paperwork that means the workers compensation insurance gets to wash their hands of me. It's actually a win for us, our lawyer calls it a gold mine. Due to the laws governing my type of situation in Oklahoma, our settlement is generous.

It isn't a drop in the bucket if you factor in my lost wages for the last 11 months, the long road ahead of medication, doctor visits, or however long I will be out of work--because nobody can tell me how long that will be. Because nobody knows. You've heard it. I've heard it. Everyone's brain is different. I could be perfectly normal in a week. I could be dealing with this for years.

We just don't know.

Back to that chapter. I'm a writer who can't write, at least not with any regularity. But what kind of person can just sit around feeling sorry for themselves? Right? I'm so OVER this crap. Right now I feel like a membrane stretched across the top of a bowl. About to rip. About to burst.

I can't do anything about the pain. It's just there. It'll be there until it's not. Summer heat makes it worse, and I can't be cool enough. So I push it to the back of my mind and try to deal with it later. In the mean time, I create. I'm slow, but it gives me something to do. What am I creating?

 Aprons. Yes, that's the Tardis. :)
 This is one I did for a friend of mine, to thank her for all her help with my kids this school year--but mostly because she's an amazing human being. I have a lot of this fabric now because I love it.
 God bless America! This one came out so dang cute. I have it trimmed with red, but I like it trimmed with navy best.
Ship in a bottle, trimmed with brown. This one is so great. I'm also doing this same print trimmed with blue. It's my favorite so far, so I'm saving it to finish up after court tomorrow as a special treat.

There are also kid aprons. Prepare yourself for something incredibly cute.

 This was the first one I did, and it went to my sis's grandbaby
 This one was a custom job. I loved the holly hobby look of the fabric, just perfect for a little girl. And the little hat buttons! Ideal for the fabric!
 Minnie Mouse, trimmed with black polka dots and pink ribbon.
 I did this one up one day because I had just enough of this red print to do one apron for a 5/6 size girl, and loved it so much I found the print in several other colors!
This one is also a custom job, done in a 2/3 for a little girl for a friend's niece. Again I'm revisiting that wonderful yellow flower print because it's just great for aprons.

If you're wondering, yes, I'm selling. Right now I'm working on building some inventory. I'm posting pics on Facebook and also taking some custom orders. At one point it got a little crazy because I had 10 custom orders in one week, but that's a good kind of crazy. That's kind of why I'm working with aprons and not something urgent like brain surgery.

Because of my current condition, I don't move quickly. I can cut and sew aprons only at my own pace, which fluctuates based on my pain levels--which change at any given week. Last week I cut ten aprons out on Wednesday, but I only sewed 4 on Saturday, and I'm only getting 3 sewn today. You get the idea. I'm honestly going as fast as I can. The kid-sized aprons are obviously faster to cut and sew because they are smaller, and they're more fun because I can see my results faster too.

But, please, don't give up on my writing. I am still plugging away, just much more slowly. Writing is something that requires a great deal of brain power, and is very draining and causes my headaches to worsen quickly. So I have to pace myself. I don't expect to publish anything soon, but I haven't given up.

In the mean time, you, your friends, sisters, daughters, nieces, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc--can cook, garden, clean and whatever else you do where you want to protect your clothes in serious style! Just hit me up for an apron from "Fanciful by Design!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Obviously I haven't been here in a while. I haven't been doing much writing at all, so I guess most of my writing-related activities (blogging, Twitter, etc) have suffered for it.

But I'm here, so I guess it's time.

Yesterday, I had one of those conversations with my kids. You know--that type of impromptu conversation that you aren't really expecting to ever have. The kind you sort of hope you'll never have to have.

The kind where you tell them about the time when you were their age and wrote your first--or perhaps, only--suicide note.

Yeah, that kind.

We were talking about how differently the adolescent brain functions as opposed to the adult brain. How hard it is for a teen or preteen to see that there is a future 2 or 3 or 10 years down the road, and how empty the words "it gets better" can be--no matter how well-intentioned they are OR how much experienced the person offering them has. When I wrote my note, I was at my lowest. I couldn't see any other way out. I didn't see how my situation possibly *could* improve.

Yet it did. And within a year. Which, looking back, isn't really that long. At the time, though, it would have been an eternity.

My kids asked me, rightly so, what stopped me. In that moment. In my darkness. And I had to be honest.

Writing. When I wrote my suicide note, in the maybe 4 or 5 minutes it took me to pen the note, I was alone. But I was at a friend's house. And for the previous several months I had been writing every single day and sharing every page I wrote with my friends. It had become habit--so much so that when my friend returned to the sanctuary of her bedroom I just handed my suicide note to her without a word. Automatically. Utterly without thought on my part. She read it. We talked.

Yes. You can argue I wasn't that serious about killing myself if I was that easily talked out of it. I will simply state that I'd thought about the many, many ways I could end my life countless times. The possibilities were constantly on my mind. I didn't have access to guns, and I didn't want anything "showy"--I wasn't out to make a statement--so drowning in the bathtub with the aid of pills or possibly hanging myself was my most likely method. I wanted something absolute. My mom had a fear of my older brother dying by drowning in the nearby canal that ran through the city, but I wasn't sure that would actually kill me, so I didn't want to chance it. Wandering off on one of the many desert hiking trails wasn't an option because there were too many well meaning hikers/joggers etc ready to help me, or some psycho wanting to make my situation worse--again, too many variables.

Let's just say I thought about it a lot. And I had to do it right the first time, because a messed up attempt would only put people on guard and make it harder to succeed a second time. Those were dark days. I was severely clinically depressed at the time, but had yet to be diagnosed. It was just something I was struggling with day to day, in addition to all the normal crap a teenager struggles with everyday.

And writing my first novel. That became my escape. And yes, like a friend of mine at the time suggested, I probably became too involved in the story. But, at the time, I needed it. I needed the outlet. I could have turned to drugs, or sex, or alcohol, but I didn't. I turned to fiction. It could have been worse.

It's never been a secret to my kids that I struggled growing up, but yesterday was the first discussion about the actual note. I'm sure it won't be the last. At least I won't be able to pull it out and show them. Even I think that would be kind of creepy.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Giveaway Results

Okay, I have to admit my Goodreads giveaways were serious fun.

Here's my fun pre-Post Office trip picture. I had ELEVEN winners, four of whom are in Canada. It's been a while since I've staged a giveaway (or a cluster of giveaways) of this magnitude. I just love packaging up books and carting them to the post office and sending them off. (paying postage, not so much, but we do what we have to, right?)

Then, I have to admit, I kind of did something stupid. In my excitement to notify the winners that their packages were on the way, I let Goodreads know that I had mailed the prizes--on April Fools Day.

That's pretty much why I'm posting this today. I want everyone to know that yes, I did honestly and truly mail these books to the winners of my Goodreads giveaways for City of Light, Tea for Two, and The Lost Princess on Friday, April 1, 2016. I even have tracking numbers for the seven domestic packages.

Stop laughing. Anyone could have made the same mistake. I just got excited. :)

And don't forget, my giveaway for Birthright is still active through April 22, 2016. There are five copies up for grabs.

You don't want to miss out. Just click HERE and enter.

Birthright is the story of post-apocalyptic America, partially rebuilt to mirror a feudal system reminiscent of Europe from hundreds of years before. Verity, the oldest daughter of a king who must have sons, rebels against her father and goes on the run, risking danger and death from the wild zombie-like creatures who roam the countryside.

Verity is one of my favorite heroines, and I know my readers will love her too.

You don't want to miss out on your chance to win a copy of Birthright for yourself.
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