Signs, Signs,…Everywhere A Sign.

“Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.” ― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

I’ve always struggled a bit with how much to share and how much to keep private. When I originally decided to publish a novel I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to publish under a pen name but ultimately decided against it. Sometimes, I do admittedly regret that. Kids talk, teachers talk. People talk. But I still haven’t really found it to be a bad thing. I always figured that I am who I am. Also, I used to “mommy blog” anonymously and found it difficult in many ways when people knew your blog but not the person behind it.

I do however occasionally wonder whether I’m doing the right thing by putting myself and my work out into the world, in a way that at times can feel very personal. There are a lot things that happen which one doesn’t foresee coming the bigger their platform grows. It’s difficult to explain and I don’t want to seem ungracious or whiny– because I’m not. Recently though I decided to take a step back after I was sued. I’m not going to say a lot about the logistics because, well, it’s just not a good idea and it’s not my style. I will say that the lawsuit had to do with the business side of publishing and not what my books contain or what anyone else’s books contain.

They say that being sued is one of the most stressful situations a person can face other than losing a loved one. And I will say that I found it very similar– in terms of the emotions you feel during the process. Having a police officer unexpectedly show up at your doorstep and having someone you do not know “demand” a five plus figure sum from you is…well, not fun. And the process and expense (energy, time, and money) of defending yourself against all of the aforementioned not fun made me really, really question whether or not I wanted to continue putting myself “out there.” Because, the truth is, there are much easier ways to earn a living.

Anyway, the lawsuit was officially dropped this week and I don’t want to say anything else about it other than I learned a lot about the litigation process and about protecting myself going forward. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t still feel hesitant about it all…about putting myself and my work out there and everything that comes with that. At the same time, I refuse to view the world as a place where one has to play it small in order to avoid threatening and not fun situations.

And then, of course, there are the signs…

On one particularly rough day I opened my nine year olds school folder and discovered this.

I saw it as a sign.

It reminded me that… I may write for myself, but I publish, and I keep going for them.

P.S. This is what I’ve been writing to. Hoizer…I’m in love and I just can’t enough.

And this:

Time Out + Free Therapy

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  And rarely do people do things because of you anyway.  They do things because of them.  So even when it seems personal, it probably isn’t.  Remember this.  And when you find yourself feeling angry, heartbroken, or victimized by the actions of another, see if you can you find within you any seed of softness, some place deep within that understands how much pain that person must be in, how burdened their soul must be, how devastatingly hardened they must be in their heart in order to behave in a way that is surely out of alignment with their own integrity.” – Marc and Angel, Hack Life 

First off, I want to let you all know that Around The Bend will not be published on 10/14/14 as was planned, due to a culmination of unforeseen circumstances.

Right now, I don’t have a pub date in mind because I’ve decided to take a mini-sabbatical from the business side of things. To regroup. To figure out my next move.

Mostly, I’m taking some time off to fall apart a little and to put myself back together. Lots of what is happening personally, I can’t share here, but as for what I can, I will.

I’m still working on the book, still writing–just on a timeline that makes more sense for me right now.

As for what I can share: Lately, I’m just missing several people in my life. From my oldest who left for college to family that I spent the last decade (and then some) caring for, who are no longer around, well…lets just say I’ve found that it has left a bigger void than I might’ve thought and I’m feeling their absence more so than usual these days.

I guess, when you care for someone who is ill and/or who needs you…that becomes a part of your identity. It becomes who you are and then when those people move on–whether it’s ultimately because of a good thing, like college for example, or not so good, like death–it leaves a bit of a hole and thus perhaps requires a little finagling to figure out where you belong in the world.

This in and of itself would be easier to take if it weren’t combined with other not so good things occurring and a whole lot of pressure, some of it admittedly self imposed.

Which is why I feel it’s important to call a time out. And in this time out I have a few things planned to get me reacquainted with the girl I used to know– the one who was pretty sure of herself, and where she was going.

My grandmother spent a lot of time in and out of rehab hospitals in the final five years of her life and my grandfather spent lots of time hooked up to a dialysis machine. One of the things I noticed during this time and found myself unsatisfied with was how we treat the elderly in this country. I would often meet people who had no one, no visitors, no advocates, no one making sure that they were receiving adequate care. I’m not judging here because I will be the first to say that it  is very very hard to watch someone you love wither away and eventually lose the battle. It’s a constant reminder of what is important and what is less so. It’s a tug of war with being the person you want to be (free) and the one you need to be–and sticking to the job at hand. Hard is definitely not a good enough adjective to do it justice.

That said, I made a lot of older and wiser friends over the years. People who were just happy to have someone sit with them for a bit and care about their lives, where they’d come from, and where they’d been. Because there wasn’t much denying where they were going. We all got that.

I learned a lot during that time about life and love and…people.

These days, I feel like maybe it’s time for a refresher and spending some time at the rehab hospital where my grandma spent so much of her final years is on the agenda.

But I’d be lying if I said that my volunteering to sit with the elderly is completely unselfish.

Old people, like children, are so pure, so wise, and so loving. There’s no bullshit. There simply isn’t time for it.

Which, for me, means there’s a lot to be learned there.

It’s pretty much like free therapy. ;)

P.S. What I’m writing to this week:

Thanks Brandy, for sending this. Sometimes you introduce someone to something and they introduce you right back. <3

 

And an oldie but a goodie.

Please Don’t Answer. And Other Unexpected Surprises.

I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.” ― Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner

This past weekend I celebrated my thirty-third birthday, which was filled with family, friends, flowers, and  lots of love. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever received so many flower deliveries in one day before– so much so that my husband mentioned he was having a hard time keeping up with my fans/friends. Anyway, they were all lovely surprises. But, I also received a surprise of a different kind, one that has undoubtedly rattled me…

The day before my birthday I heard my phone ring and when I picked it up I saw my father’s name pop up on caller ID. We hadn’t spoken, really, since my Grandmother died, a year and a half ago. I’ve written about our relationship, or lack thereof, here and here. 

It was so unexpected to see his name that I couldn’t bring myself to answer. What did he want? Was something wrong? Not now, I pleaded to no one in particular. Not now. My life is sooo good. I worked hard to get to this place…

He didn’t leave a message and I didn’t really think much about it until the following day (my birthday) when my phone rang again. This time I answered.

“Happy birthday,” he said.

“Thank you,” I replied, honestly surprised he remembered.

“Are you at home now?”

“Um…Yeah…Why…”

“Well, I rang your doorbell a little bit ago and no one answered.”

“My doorbell?”

I had no idea he knew where I lived.

He proceeded to describe the house and vehicles out front while I remained mostly speechless. I explained that I was home but that we were about to go to lunch and he asked where at. I told him and he said that he’d meet me there because he had a birthday card he wanted to give me.

In 33 years, this is probably the second time, third at max, that I can recall my father giving me anything for my birthday, including a phone call.

At lunch, I sat there halfway paying attention what my husband was saying, anxious about how awkward things were about to get. And I’m not one who routinely gets anxious over much.

Part way through lunch I turned to see my father walk in. He looks good, I think. Like he’s taking care of himself, like maybe, he sort of dressed up for the occasion. I watch him walk past a girl in a booth, turn, and really focus in on her, before finally realizing it wasn’t me. How sad I thought, not to be able to recognize your own daughter. In fairness, she did at least look a little like me. I turned to my sixteen year old and felt crushed when I saw that he’d noticed too. How lucky my kids are not to know what that’s like, I think in that moment. 

Long story short, he came over to the table, handed me the card, said me he’d at least wanted to get me that, told me happy birthday, asked if I was 33, made some small talk, then told me he loved me, and walked away.

I sat there stunned– thinking about the card and wondering how one goes about picking something out for this kind of occasion. I wondered what it might be like standing in the greeting card aisle choosing a card for a daughter you don’t know. Then, despite the fact that I’d planned to wait until I was at home, in the solitude of my bedroom, alone (by this time the kids were arguing over anything and everything) to open the card I didn’t make it through lunch without my curiosity getting the best of me. As I opened it, the first place my eye was drawn to was the signature.

He had signed his name, my brother’s name, and my Grandmother’s. I realized that must be painful for him, too. And boom just like that I was crying in the middle of a Mexican restaurant. The three Benjamin’s tucked inside didn’t help matters much.

I smiled a little through the tears. As if, a few Benjamin’s could solve it all…

I put off calling to thank him for as long as I could, ultimately, though, knowing it was inevitable.

Today, I dialed his number and said a silent prayer I’d get the machine. Please don’t answer. Please, please, please don’t answer, I pleaded to no one and everyone.

I had no idea what I would say when and if he answered. Thank you, ok, bye–was kind of the plan. 

Instead, I found myself inviting him to lunch once I return from taking my oldest to college.

He accepted and made me promise to call.

I hung up and sighed, knowing there are at least a few people out there somewhere who would probably be proud.

I’m not there yet.

But maybe…

My Grandma just might get one of her last wishes after all.

On Loyalty…

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Loyalty is a big theme in the novel I’m working on and so I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately…

Recently, I asked my son to take my car in for an oil change when he informed me that he was going to take it to a new place he’d found because he had seen a good deal on Groupon which led to a huge discussion (disagreement) on why in the world I would care to save ten bucks over taking my car to the same place I always go. A place where they know me, they know my car, and where they leave little smiley faces on my windshield. They’re friendly and efficient and they treat me well and … thus I’m a loyal customer. And ten bucks (or whatever) ain’t got nothin’ on that. ;)

Needless to say, I’m not sure he got it, and this situation as well as feedback from my beta readers (on character content) has certainly made me question whether or not loyalty is a real thing, or rather, whether I’m the crazy one. Which it seems is quite plausible. :)

P.S. Speaking of loyalty… this is what I’m writing to this week. Love. Love. Love it. Oh and please to those of you who are going to write me and tell me what you think about it (I know, I already know what you’re going to say) consider that it’s a metaphor. Or even better, please don’t listen. :)

A dose of truth.

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How do you do it? When do you sleep? These are the questions I get all the time when it comes to writing. And while I do answer them honestly, there are nights, like tonight, where the truth is a little more complex than: “I make the time.”

The truth is, it’s 9:45 PM and I am not at home with my family where I want to be. I am sitting in a coffee shop, watching the rain, writing to you, before calling it a day and heading home. My back is aching (there’s yoga tomorrow, I say,) my fingers are numb, and I’m a bit over-caffinated. The truth is, I panicked earlier, as I often do this close to deadline and I told my husband I couldn’t do it.

“I’m not going to make it,” I cried.

“You will.” He said. “You always do.”

“I’ll just shift the pub date. I’ll change it, and everything EVERYTHING will be right in my world again,” I exclaimed, suddenly proud to have all the answers. :)

Then… I watched as he packed my laptop and shooed me out of the house. “Go,” he said.

And so I did.

Now… here I sit, with an aching back, sure, but also the sweet sense of victory: A word count met. Well, exceeded, actually.

Until, tomorrow that is. When that big fat zero will stare me in the face once again and I’ll be forced lucky enough to do it all again.

So, there you have it.

If you’re ever wondering how a novel gets written…  the answer is…It’s often hours away from those I love, one panic attack, and one word, at a time.  ;)

P.S. This is what I wrote to today if you’re interested:

Around The Bend. An Introduction.

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I’m so excited to share my newest baby novel, my 4th, with you all.

Titled, Around The Bend, it’s tentatively slated for release on 10/14/14. You guys get the first look here.

This is Jess’s story, character from The Bedrock Series, but will be read as a standalone, so you will not need to have read Bedrock/Breaking Bedrock. In other words no worries if you haven’t, it will just be an added bonus if you have, as you never know which characters might have a surprise cameo. That said, I can’t reiterate enough that Around The Bend is a standalone novel.

And now for the cover. A special thanks to Mandy at  MHPhotograpy and Lisa of Design By Blink for their outstanding work. Lisa, I thank you, once again, for not killing me during the process. You are the bestest. :)

 

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The synopsis:

If you were to pass me on the street, you probably wouldn’t even look twice. I’m that normal. I’m just like you, only wealthier. I have it all. The kids, the family, the dog, a house on the hill. Hell—I’m so cliché, I even have a white picket fence. I guess you could say that I’ve dotted my I’s and crossed my T’s. But what I also have—what no one sees in yoga, or at Nieman Marcus, or during the dreadful Ladies Who Lunch charity events I attend (because only God knows why), and perhaps most importantly, in the school pick up line—are secrets.

Deep, dark, deadly secrets.

We all keep secrets, don’t we? We all have thoughts in our heads, things we do, things about us that if people knew, they’d be shocked…right? Well, what if one day we just decided to let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

What if we decided to let the whole world in on our dirty little secrets? And what if along the way, as we were spilling those secrets, we realized that things aren’t always what they seem and with that knowledge, it changed the whole story? 

In this book, I’m laying it all out there. The unraveling of my life. My coming undone. What one might’ve seen had they been paying attention.

What I’ve found in life is people often believe lies before they’ll believe the truth. Well, here it is, in a nutshell. I’ll let you decide which is which.

Please consider adding it to your Goodreads TBR here. It truly means a lot to us authors when you do.

What doesn’t kill you…

 

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You know that feeling during a workout where you start staring at the clock, you can feel your focus starting to fade, and you’re looking for a way out . Any way out. I’m not certain but I think it’s called reaching your anaerobic threshold. And I know it well.

Right now, that is the exact same way I feel about writing my fourth book. It’s a scary place to be because you’re questioning your ability and you’re wondering whether or not you really have it in you. And most importantly, you just want out. It’s more than fear, it’s fear + a looming sense of defeat.

The thing to remember, the thing I always hear the trainers in the gym say is “It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to make you stronger.”

And while I wholeheartedly agree, I can tell you that it’s not that simple showing up day in and day out, knowing you’re going to have to sit in your own shit uncomfortableness.

But it is what it is and somehow you do. I don’t know where you’re at, maybe it’s not struggling with writing—maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s a relationship, or parenting, or something much more significant than the things that trouble me these days.

Whatever it is, know that it is the uncomfortableness that will carry you through to the other side. Push yourself when you need to. You can take more than you think. And sit with it when you can’t. Give in to it if you must. But only long enough to get your second wind. Take a step back, a break, but know that’s not the finish line.

Last night, I had a dream about my character. In the dream she did something that I never saw coming. I woke, wrote it down, smiled, and considered it a token of thanks for all of the bullshit she’s putting me through in the daylight.

The same is true I find for other things in life. The answers will come. You just have to be brave enough to sit through the uncomfortable silence, the doubt, fear, and sometimes even the defeat, in order to hear them.

All I can think while typing this out is: “Now, why didn’t someone tell me that?” ;)

Oh, wait… :)

Why ya gotta be so rude?

Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.” ― Valery Satterwhite

The week before last I blogged about kindness in communication. Since that time I’ve seen several posts via social media and had a few interactions with my team where people were frustrated with others for not getting back with them. For not returning the call, the email, the text. The favor. The love.

So, I wanted to take a moment to address that and talk about my philosophy on the matter, for what it’s worth.

When someone doesn’t get back with me (reciprocate) I do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, yes, I have to try really damned hard, especially if I’m waiting on something I need in order to move forward.

But it helps to assume that it’s not intentional—that’s it’s not you—because it’s almost always about them. Don’t take it personally when people leave you hanging. In communication. In business. In life. In love. And here’s why: people will show you who they are, eventually. Usually, sooner rather that later. Your job is to evaluate whether or not you really want to be associated with what they show you. People who are habitually unresponsive (uninterested/rude/call it what you want) will always be that way. From the first date, right on down the aisle. From the first phone call ’til after the contract is signed.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to be at their mercy. The beauty is that you get to choose. Call it off. Back out. Change your mind. Do what you need to do.

Use the energy you expend being annoyed/hurt/angry to find someone else— someone who is responsive and will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Give the other person the same attention they give you and then move on. While you’re busy doing that don’t forget that what you put out there comes back—heck, I think there’s even a law about it or something. ;)

Manage your expectations, sure. Give the benefit of the doubt. Once, twice, maybe, even three times. But after that it would be wise not to waste your time on someone who isn’t concerned about spending theirs on you. And I’m going to say this a again because it needs to be said: Don’t waste energy being bitter or angry about it either. Let it go, and find someone or something who deserves your time/business/love/attention.

A hard lesson to learn, sure, but oh so worth it. After all, we’re the sum of the people we spend our time with. It might be good to reevaluate whether this business/person/thing adds up. Have an air of expectancy (you’re teaching people how to treat you after all) and then let them SHOW you whether or not they meet those expectations. When they do…believe them. You’ll be a whole lot happier this way, I promise. Life’s too short to worry about unanswered texts, emails, or phone calls.

Speaking from experience, the only people I’m truly concerned about NOT hearing from these days, it’s because, well, they’re dead. Honestly. The people that remain in my life are there because they deserve to be there. Because (god, I’m lucky) they want to be. I have no intention of wasting time and energy on those that don’t. I’m too busy loving the ones who show up and vice versa. And they deserve the very best of me—which can’t exactly happen if my concerns are elsewhere.

That’s all. ;)

Hanging On. Letting Go. And the bitter taste of eaten words.

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.” ― Paulo Coelho

“Mom. Don’t write about me,” he says.

Ok, so I won’t.

But what I will write about is this. There comes a certain time and place and point in life where you have to practice what you preach. And sometimes those things taste a little more bitter than you might’ve thought. Words are easy to say, sometimes they are even easy to write or to type–but they aren’t always easy to live.

I talk (write) a lot about following your heart. Doing the thing. Making the call. Writing the letter. Saying yes. Saying no. Saying what you need to say. But to pretend that it’s always as easy as that isn’t the whole truth. I have a kid leaving for college in 30 or so days. TO ANOTHER STATE. :) And oh my gosh, let me just tell you that I’m not coping very well with it. At. All. I know this isn’t healthy. I know that you’re supposed to pretend that letting go is easy. That you’re happy to see them off. I also know that I probably look like a crazy mother (pun intended) by hanging on to someone/something that’s mostly already gone. Stay here I say. There are so many great schools here, I plead. Deep down I know it’s wrong. But that doesn’t stop me. The truth is no matter how you try and package it this is just one more slap upside the head in the long string of things lately reminding me of the transient nature of life. People leave. Kids grow up. Your loved ones die. And so on, you go.

So yeah, letting go isn’t easy. Just as holding on isn’t, when you’re meant to let go. My neighbor (hi Greg.) once gave me some really great advice, saying (in regards to parenting but can really be used for most things) “If you let go too soon, there’s a problem. Just as there will be if you hang on too long.”

But damn it if that ever elusive middle ground isn’t hard to find.

What I do know is this: the way that you live your life is the way that your children will, too. It doesn’t matter what you say. It matters what you do. Even if those things are ultimately good things–they are watching. So, if you follow your heart, pursue your dreams, refuse to conform, and so on and so forth–you should probably be prepared for them to do the same. The problem with that being, I find, is that you can’t spare them the heartache of doing so, as much as you might want to.

It’s a dance, this parenting gig. Sometimes it’s a waltz, sometimes the cha-cha, but mostly, I find it’s a two-step. It’s hanging on and letting go. And the timing of it all, as it turns out, is ever so important. Otherwise, you’re just a really bad dancer.

P.S. I love this video so hard. It’s everything I’m trying to say, only said better. ;) It’s visual poetry. It’s philosophy. It’s beautiful. Two minutes. Shots of Awe. I can’t get enough. You really should watch it. I don’t think you’ll be sorry. :)

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Nobody knows.

“Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.”
― Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

This is probably going to sound really out there and quite random but…for the past few weeks or so I cannot stop thinking about all of the things nobody knows. There is just so much. :) Seriously though, I know this is going to sound completely crazy but I am in complete and utter awe at how many unanswered questions there are. Complete awe.

I think as human beings we tend to become so wrapped up in the day to day, in the mundane, that we often forget that such questions even exist. We forget that we are so so small in comparison to what’s out there. And what is out there? Well, the truth is no one knows. Isn’t that a crazy thought? That we can be so technologically advanced and yet still not know?

I mean…how many of us walk around thinking we have all of the answers when there are still so many questions. Questions we haven’t even asked. Questions we haven’t even thought to ask.

This is one reason I love children so much…they’re incessantly curious. They ask questions and they demand answers. I think somewhere along the way that gets beat out of us as we morph into adulthood. But what if it didn’t? What if we spent some time (even an hour a day) being completely and utterly in awe of all of the stuff we don’t know. And what if we spent half of that time pondering the answers?

It still blows my mind that I can type this up and people halfway around the globe can read it in a matter of seconds. It’s crazy to me that I can put my (random) thoughts out into the ethers and that people want to read them. Or that people subscribe to read them. Hell, it still blows my mind that I can walk into my local grocery store and find fifty kinds of jelly…

And I tell you what, when you start paying attention to all of things that blow your mind—to all life’s unanswered questions (versus that which you already know ) living becomes a whole lot more interesting. ;)

Exhibit A: I read the article below about NASA and then texted the link (how does a text even work, anyway?:) to my husband because I had to discuss it with someone. Below was that discussion.

It’s nice to know there’s at least one person out there who enjoys indulging my neurosis. ;)

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http://sploid.gizmodo.com/nasa-detects-mysterious-signal-240-million-light-years-1595635338?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow