Fall and Rise

It’s time for me to fall on my writerly sword and put it out there for all to see:

I have failed at all things writing this year.

I wanted nothing more than to publish this year, but I allowed myself to lose motivation and I ended up steering myself away from my own goals. There are a lot of factors that come into play–my life has had many changes this past year–but, at the end of the day, it’s about me getting side-tracked and falling off the writing and editing wagon.

I don’t want to make excuses or blame life circumstances for my stumbles and lack of getting stuff done. It’s all about me losing focus. Period. Plain and simple. It’s 100% my fault.

If I want to succeed, I can’t dwell on my mistakes; I must learn from them and take the next steps forward. I love writing more than I can put into words. It’s my passion, but as anyone knows who’s followed their dreams, mistakes happen. All I can do is rise above and not give up.

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I am committed to getting The Christmas Key into the hands of all who want to read it. I love the story. I love the characters. I love everything about it. I just need to tighten it up a bit and do one last read through (I know. I know. I feel like I’ve said that a million times). Then, I need to get over the fear of letting it go. I always feel there’s something else I can do to make the story better, but I know I it’s time to pull the trigger, and push my baby into the world.

I can do this. I can. I CAN! 

In addition to getting through the final stages of The Christmas Key, I’ve decided to also write a cookbook.

I’m certain some people are like, “What? You can’t even finish the book you’re working on. Why add more to your plate?”

Well, I’ve had the idea for a long time, and since Mom passed, it’s something I think about almost daily. So many of my recipes stem from something she taught me. It’ll be a therapeutic process and it’ll be a great way to mix my love of writing with my love of cooking and photography.

My approach to the cookbook will be to combine recipes with stories, tips, tricks, and alternative ingredients to make any of the recipes something you, your family, and your friends will enjoy.

I started working on it this past weekend and I’m happy with the approach I’m taking to the recipes and set up. I’ll tell you more as I get deeper into the process, but I think the concept I’m playing around with will be fun and easy for any level of cook.

As of right now, I’m not going to start a separate blog  for the cookbook. I’m not ready to take on the extra expense and responsibility. A cookbook entails so many moving parts (photos, cooking a recipe many times, detailed instructions, etc…), so I think it’s smart to keep it as simple as possible for now. Focus is everything. Once things come together, I’ll reassess the need for another blog.

I’ve had a Facebook page for my cooking for a while now. Feel free to go over and give it a like and follow along– Bubs’ Kitchen (Bubs is my nickname). I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun  (and funny) experiences to blog about, so I’ll give updates here, too.

So, there you have it… my writing journey continues and I’m finding more passion along the way. Thank you to everyone for your support, love, and understanding. It means everything.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” — Henry David Thoreau 

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under June 2016

Just on the other side…

 

Mornings are bleary.

Nights hurt like hell.

The in-between is lack luster.

Something is most definitely missing.

Being forced into the grieving world, one I’ve never been in like this before, is like being pushed into a pool during a Vermont winter’s night.

It stings. It shocks. It numbs.

Even though I know how to dog paddle, swim, and even breast-stroke,  I can’t quite get to other side. Through the flaying arms of grief, through trying to float on my back, through the tears of fear, I need a life-saver.

There are these moments– sometimes, they’re only 30 seconds… sometimes, they’re 30 minutes… but not much more– these moments quickly go by where I’m brushing my teeth, I’m working out, grocery shopping, working on edits, and in the midst of the moment, I forget I’m grieving. Life has happened.

When I smile, or laugh, is when I pop out of it, and realize I’m feeling not sad. I question the happiness.

There are moments I cave, begin to cry again, and fall back in the pool.

Then, sometimes, there’s a nudge… a twist of the shoulder.

Amy, go with it. I want you to laugh. I want you to smile.

And, I do…  Example:

Just the other day, I responded to a text about what Chris and I are doing for Fourth of July. Normally, it’d seem like a boring, neutral text, right? Well, not so much with Maeghan. Before I know it, we’re sending voice texts back and forth of nothing but laughter. I laughed until I cried and none of the tears were from sadness.

Laughs are the tiny cracks in grief. They allow for breath, reprieve from the fog, a quick lesson in life, which is, life has to continue.

Mom has been so close by. She’s been just beyond the veil of life… so close, I feel like I can touch her. I know I’ve felt her hug me. I know I’ve felt the brush of her fingers on my arm. I know she’s been there to pull me out of a hard cry when I’m gasping for air.

From just beyond… on the other side, a slight whisp of air touches my ear. No, not literally, but almost… almost.

It’s so clear, I hear…

Breathe, Amy. Breathe. I’m here. Just breathe.

When I’m floundering in the pool of grief, Mom throws me a life saver.

I choose to believe she has a lifetime supply of those touches and whispers. I know I’ll need them for as long as I live.

Yes, for now, in this early phase of grief, I’ll need a lot.

As time goes, I’ll need fewer.

Then, BAM, it’ll all creep back, and I’ll end up in the pool again.

She’ll be there.

The funny thing about the pool and lifesaver analogy is… Mom wasn’t a fan of water or swimming. She hardly ever got in the deep end of the pool.

Thankfully, she was great at life, and being a mom. She can be my lifeguard from the other side any day. Whether she quietly brushes by, or takes hold, and shakes me, I’ll welcome her.

I’ll ride freely through the ups and downs. I’ll feel the sadness. Cry. Scream. Laugh. Cry again. But, no matter what, I won’t stop riding.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under May 2016

Mama.

Tuesday, April 26th 

*Phone Rings*

“Hello.”

“Amy, this is dad.”

From the sound of his voice, I knew something was wrong.

“What’s going  on?”

“Well, they had to admit your mom into the hospital. They didn’t like what they saw in her blood work. They also called in the oncologist.”

My heart sank. My body began to shake.

Once we hung up, I immediately opened Google. (Yeah, yeah… I know it’s the endless hole of doom when searching symptoms, but I had to do it.)

I googled all her symptoms: headaches, nose bleeds, bruising for no apparent reason (her bruises were large and all over), fatigue, and weakness.

I didn’t like what I read… APML (Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia) was the first five results that popped up.

My stomach churned. I felt sick.

*Phone rings*

My brother’s phone number… not good.

“Hey, bro.”

“Amy, they had to put mom in the ICU.”

“Oh, no! Okay… okay… I’ll start packing now.”

I frantically began throwing stuff in a suitcase.

*Phone rings*

It’s dad.

“Amy, your mom has leukemia. She also has bleeding on the brain and they’ll have to do surgery once they get her platelets up.”

“Okay. Okay. Um… ” My brain is spinning.

“It’s a type of leukemia that has a 90% survival rate if caught soon enough, so they’re starting treatment ASAP.”

My heart raced and I thought it would pump right out of my chest. I wanted to jump in the car and start driving at that very moment, but since it was such a long drive and it was already 7pm, we all decided getting on the road early the next morning would be best.

Early Wednesday morning, I got on the road, and it was a blur of a drive.

The progression of phone calls went like this (of course paraphrased):

Late morning:

“Mom’s head doesn’t hurt as bad and she’s a bit more coherent. They may not even have to do surgery.”

Early afternoon:

“Mom’s having a hard time breathing and panics with the oxygen mask on. They’re going to sedate her and put her on a respirator.”

This is the point where I got an even more sickening feeling.

“This is bad. Really bad.” I talked to myself and began to cry.  There was a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t deny.

Early evening:

“Amy, they can’t regulate mom’s blood pressure and there are some other major things going on and they need to put her on life support. They’re hoping this will stabilize her.”

“What? No way!”

“I know. Just dive safely and come straight to the hospital instead of going to Dad’s first.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. My whole body shook uncontrollably. Tears streamed down my face. I had to take short, quick breaths to get any air into my lungs. I wanted to drive faster, but couldn’t.

I screamed, “Mama! Please, hang on. Please!”

When I was just outside of Charlotte, it began pouring rain, lightning, and thundering. I had to slow down, yet again. (I forgot to mention, I had gone through four traffic jams, which had already added two hours to my drive.)

Once I got through the storm, about ten minutes later, Chris called.

“Amy,” long pause…

I knew what he was going to say.

“Amy, do you want to pull over?”

“No. Just tell me. Just tell me.”

“Amy, your mom has passed away.”

“NO!! NO!! NO!! HOW? HOW? HOW HAS THIS HAPPENED? SHE WENT TOO FAST.”

I didn’t make it. I didn’t get there in time. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t get to kiss her cheek and hold her hand. I didn’t get to say, “I love you, mom” just one more time.

Mom passed away at 9:03pm– during that bad storm I drove through.

She’s gone.

She’s gone.

How can it be?

She’s gone.

How could it be that the next few days we’d be picking out the outfit she’d wear, the casket she’d rest in, and the kind of service she’d have. How could it be that I’d have to find strength to drive to the funeral home to see her one last time? Once we got there,  I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I got about ten feet from the casket and fell apart. There was no way I could see mom that way. No way at all.

I cried, “I can’t do it. I can’t. I just can’t.”

Chris put his arms around me, and whispered, “Amy, it’s okay. You don’t have to.”

I tried again when we got to the church for the memorial. Again, I couldn’t do it. I got, maybe, one step closer than I had earlier, but fell apart again. I couldn’t even put the letter I wrote her in the casket. Chris had to do it for me.

I hugged into Chris’ arms. “I’m not strong enough.”

“This isn’t about being strong,” he whispered.

Those words… so perfect and true.

The memorial and funeral were beautiful… if such a service can be beautiful. Lots of flowers. Lots of memories flashing on big screens. One minute, I was numb. The next, I was laughing at a memory someone talked about as they hugged me. Then, there were a lot of moments of pure excruciating pain and tears.  It felt like I was walking through a horrible, horrible nightmare.

Seeing my dad lose his best friend and soulmate is horrible (they were together a total of 50 years). Seeing my brother and sister-in-law having to comfort their three boys while they cry their little hearts out because they’ve lost Grammy is horrible. Seeing friends and family mourn the loss of such a beautiful, caring, loving, genuine, kindhearted woman is horrible.

It doesn’t seem fair. She deserved more time. She had more life to live.

To be honest, I really don’t want to hear, “Everything happens for a reason” or “It was her time to go.”

Sorry. My head and heart can’t go there.

I want her back. Period. PERIOD!

Losing her so unexpectedly, so quickly, so abruptly weighs heavy on my heart and soul. She was the constant, always there, string of thread in my life. She couldn’t wait to hear any good news I may have– big or small. If I had something upsetting, unsettling, or hurtful to share with her, she’d always pass a ray of sunshine my way or a piece of practical, usable motherly advice. She deeply felt my happiness or sadness, even from a thousand miles away. Her motherly intuition was always set on high. There were many times she’d message or call before I had a chance to let her know something was on my mind and heart, which never ceased to amaze me.

This is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. In the matter of a nanosecond, it makes me sick to my stomach when I think about how I can’t call her and have four hour long conversations anymore. Heck, I’d take a thirty second call. I can’t reach out to her, my best friend, when I need words of love and encouragement. I can’t message her a simple “I love you. I hope you have a good day.”

I could go on and on with all the things I’ll miss. I know there won’t be a day that goes by when I won’t think of her. Yes, it makes me sad, but it also makes me happy. It means we had so much love between us that a day can’t exist without her.

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I want to share the one thing that sticks out more than anything about my mom– She was the sweetest, kindest person… to everyone. I heard over and over at the funeral,”I never heard your mom speak a bad, unkind word about anyone.”

And that’s the truth. She was genuinely nice to her core.

The following was sent to my dad via private message and I asked for permission to use it in my post and she said it would be okay. This is the epitome of who my mom was:

“I wanted to tell you about a kindness Judi showed me in high school. I wasn’t at all popular and was getting married right after high school and a lot of people bullied me for that and other reasons. One day when that was going on, your precious Judi stepped up out of nowhere and told those people to leave her friend alone. She saved my sanity, Allen. I was begging my parents to let me get my GED but thanks to your lovely saint of a wife, I didn’t have to. I went on to finish my education at Spartanburg Tech with no problem at night after work but I wanted you to know this. Please remember the good times; that’s what got me through.”

Yep… that’s my mama.

I’m so proud to be her daughter and I’m so thankful I had such a loving relationship with her. I will miss her so very much. Actually, much more than that. There’s not a word in the dictionary to fully express how much I will ache in her absence from this world. I will have to depend on all the wonderful, fun, happy, loving memories. There’s enough of those to have one (or two or three) each and every day.

I have a feeling there’s much more to say, much more to write, but it’ll have to wait. For now, I just need to feel and write as I go. I’m still in the phase of, “This isn’t really happening, right?”

Living my life without my mama just doesn’t seem real…

 

Mama, thank you for being more than a mom. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for all the tears you let me cry. Thank you for all the laughter we had. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for always supporting me. Thank you for being you. I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under May 2016

Interview: Just in case you want to know more…

 

If you look at the top of this page, you’ll see a tab for “Fun and Random Things About Me”. Well, it’s time to go a little deeper… one or two steps further.

Why would I want to share more? Honestly,  I’m in the midst of editing, and there’s not much to say on the writerly front. However, I can connect by sharing, and I’m willing to do it.

Ready?

Let’s go.

What’s your favorite meal?

Let’s exclude my favorite healthy meals (scallops and shrimp). My most favorite meals are based on mood and I’m always in the mood for pizza, pasta, tacos, and nachos. I love them all and wouldn’t complain if any of them were put in front of me.

Do you snack while writing?

Yes!! My favorites are: peanuts, almonds, apples, oranges, and dark chocolate. I know it sounds boring, but it’s the truth. I have them on hand at all times.

What do you fear as a writer?

Everything. Absolutely everything. Every word. Every sentence. Every paragraph. I fear anyone reading my work. I never, ever feel I’m worthy, but at the same time, I want people to read my stories. It’s a conundrum. However, it’s a fear I have to deal with if I want this dream of mine to come true.

What is your dream?

Writer wise? I dream that people who’d like to read my stories are able to read them… plain and simple. I’m not looking for fame. I’m not looking to be on a “top”list. A lot of my author friends don’t understand that, but it’s true. As long as I have my stories available, I’m cool with it. That’s why I’m self-publishing. That being said, just because I’m self publishing, doesn’t mean the quality is sacrificed. I’ve gone through major editing with a paid-for editor (who’s great, by the way)… my stories deserve quality, therefore, I will deliver them with as much passion and care as possible.

What’s your favorite drink?

Oh, just like food, it’s about the mood and atmosphere. If I had to answer, off the cuff… wine. I love red wine. That being said, I love… love… jack and ginger. Readers will see that in my books. Man, it’s a good drink.

Do you have a tattoo? If so, where? And… would you get another one?

Yes. I sit on it. And, yes, I plan on getting another one in advance of my 40th birthday (this October).

Do have any advice for anyone who’d like to dive into the writer/author world?

Absolutely, I do. Just write. Don’t be scared of those who are ahead of you, who are already doing it. Don’t be scared of your voice. Don’t be scared to put your world on paper. Don’t be scared to write your mind. Don’t be scared. Just do it.

Finally, who’s your inspiration?

Me. I inspire myself. My brain challenges me enough… it’s a fabulous place to be inspired. Trust me.  Outside people and things are good to be inspired by, but we should all find inspiration inside ourselves.

Well, there ya go. If you have a question… ask. I’m an open book.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under March 2016

Nose to Nose and Ears to Help Hear

Nose to Nose and Ears to Help Hear? 

What the heck does that mean?

Let me explain. (By the way, we sometimes refer to our dogs as W & C)

My oldest dog, Winston, is deaf. Like, can’t hear a damn thing, deaf. Over the years, he’s let Churchill, our youngest, be his ears. When C barks at a noise, paces back and forth, Winston follows him closely to see what’s up. It’s pretty darn cute to watch.

Of course, Churchill has no clue Winston can’t hear. Hence him giving Winston a subtle growl when W gets too close while he’s eating. If only C knew Winston is completely clueless to the warning.  Winston barges in on the dinner bowl like he’s king of the world… and Churchill continues to try to be a hotshot with his guttural growls. Again, pretty darn cute to watch.

Since Winston has gone deaf, he does two things louder–bark and snore.

I assume he barks louder because he can’t hear himself bark. Who knows. I’m just guessing. He also barks more, but at his age, him barking and being active is a blessing, so I try to ignore it.

Now, his snoring, I can’t ignore it. I have to try to sleep through it. For those who are friends with me on Facebook,  I’ve posted some videos that kinda-sorta give a sense of what I’m talking about, but here lately, his snores have only gotten louder and squeakier. Yeah, it can be funny, but there are times when it can be a little scary. Since he doesn’t get disrupted by sound, he sleeps super hard and deep, and his breathing can become fast and erratic with dreams and snores. My (dog) mommy ears kick in, I wake up, and then wake him up. Sometimes, it takes a few shakes, and kisses on the nose, before he comes out of it, and licks me. By the way, I’ve talked to his vet about this and she says it’s normal for deaf dogs and not to worry too much.

The rare moment when W starts breathing weird, and I don’t wake up (like this morning), Churchill wakes me, then literally gets on top of Winston, and puts his nose up to his brother’s nose. I have no doubt he’s trying to make sure W’s okay. There are times Churchill’s nose against Winston’s is enough to wake W and I’m not needed. What a great little brother.

 

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Churchill looking up to Winston.

I’ve been thinking about this all day.

We should all have a Churchill (or five) in our life. Someone to put their nose up to ours when we need to wake up or we’re acting (feeling) “off”. Heck, sometimes, we may need someone to be our ears, just like C is for W. Someone to guide us, help us, give us what we need most.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned who those people are for me–different personalities, different strengths, different things to give, different things to offer–just the way it should be.

I’m so very grateful for all my many Churchills. You listen to me. You listen for me. You cover me with love and attention when I need it the most. Thank you.

Who are your Churchills? Thank them. Love them. Let them know you appreciate them.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under February 2015

Progress… keeping things on track

Time for a quick update!

Just FYI– I’ll be running fast over the next six months, so I’ll probably do quick posts, here and there, of what’s going on… unless a topic flashes a large “blog this” sign in this rambling brain of mine, then, of course, I’ll have to run with it.

Okay, so here’s the update:

I had a great call with my book manager (also my editor) this morning. It looks like we’re still on track for a fall release of The Christmas Key. I’m going to guess around October-ish. We even discussed pre-sales, which is exciting. Once I know more about that, I’ll be sure to let you know. It could include a reduced price and drawings for some fun stuff.

The SUPER FUN topic we discussed is the cover design!! I’m so excited about this. I’ll probably cry when I see it. No, scratch that, I will cry. Just the sight of my name on a book will make me deliriously happy, but seeing it on a beautifully designed cover will make me do a happy dance (and cry) for hours! I don’t want to give away anything just yet, but trust me, it’s going to be gorgeous.

There are a lot of business oriented things I have to research and continue to work on, and I won’t bore you with all of it, but I will share this picture of my registered business name, Long Writing Road Publishing. May not seem all that exciting, but I kinda-sorta did a (little) happy dance when I got the email.

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As you can tell, there’s a lot of happy dances going on over here, and I’m sure there will be many more in the future. No, it’s not all going to be easy and fun, but it’ll definitely be worth all the work.

I can’t wait to share more with you as it happens. Feel free to ask questions or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…

 

 

 

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Filed under January 2016

A Dream Turning to Reality

Sorry I haven’t posted lately. It’s been busy in my little world the last month or so. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and the new year is treating you with love, kindness, and success.

Here’s a quick update on my end, which I’m very happy to post.

My editor will be returning my manuscript in the very near future. This will be our second exchange, so let the games begin! The next phase is in full swing.

I hear a lot of writers/authors get super nervous about the return of edits, and I was the first go-round, but this time, I’m more excited than anxious. I can’t wait to see what Jessica’s editing magic will suggest/fix/enhance. There’s ALWAYS something new to learn with each exchange of the MS (manuscript) and I definitely have a lot of room for growth.

Warning! A loving shout-out to my editor ahead:

I’m so thankful to have an editor whose passion for the written word is gigantic and genuine. She knows and respects the rough road a writer travels to get a finished product in their hopeful hands. This means a lot, especially when you’re a virgin to the (professional) editing and publishing process. I appreciate her, and her work, so very much. Jessica Swift, thank you for taking me on and working with me step-by-step through this crazy writing journey. YOU are exactly what I need to help me take my dreams and turn them into reality.

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Our road in VT. It always leads me home, where my heart is.

Jessica and I also have a meeting next week to go through what I can expect going forward in the publishing phase of the process. This will be new territory for me, and I’ll be learning as I go, but man, how exciting  (and, yes, a little scary)! I’ll give more details once I know what they are.

By the way,  I don’t have an exact release date yet, but I should have a tentative one very soon

Before signing off, I have to give a shout out to all my family and friends who have stayed by my side and cheered me on. There have been times I’ve thought about giving up and keeping this author dream of mine to myself. Thanks to all the encouragement and support, plus my absolute love of writing, I will never give up. You all are the best!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Until next time…

Chase your dreams. Catch them. Turn them into reality. Never, ever give up. — a. weaver

 

 

 

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Filed under January 2016