A week before Thanksgiving, a sudden virulent pneumonia sent my husband, Ron, into heart failure. Fifteen days later, his life ended in an ICU when I asked the staff to turn off life support. Knowing this was what he would have wanted was the only comfort my sons and I felt.
In the quiet hush of the nursing unit, our youngest son and I waited for the end, touching and talking to Ron, knowing he could hear us even though he couldn’t open his eyes or respond. Seven hours later, we watched the monitor blip red for the last time as his valiant athlete’s heart gave out. Only a straight red line remained, releasing us from our sad vigil.
My shattered heart said goodbye to the man who had been my college sweetheart and best friend. We had celebrated our 58th wedding anniversary months earlier, and his passing stunned me. My family went into shock. He’d played golf with a friend just ten days before illness struck, and now he was gone?
I was plunged into the post traumatic stress reaction we call grief, but life went on, demanding I take on everything Ron had done for us as well as my responsibilities. The daily rhythm to our marriage vanished and my brain fragmented. Forgetting came easy, focusing was almost impossible. By early afternoon my tears and the emotional drain of losing him had exhausted me. I slept a lot.
People urged me to take time for myself, do something fun. You’ve got to be kidding! I’m drowning under everything that must be done.
Because his mother died at 99, Ron wasn’t prepared to pass at 85. He hadn’t told me how to get into the online stock or bank accounts, what to do with his life insurance or how to prepare our taxes. I didn’t know even little things—like how to set the controller for our lawn sprinklers when to pay the gardener or get the car serviced. My husband had not only taken care of all the usual “man” things around the house—fixing a running toilet or taking out the trash—he’d managed our finances because he had an accounting background. I was a retired RN.
I could have sworn I was the object of some witch’s spell when things began to fall apart—printers and TVs, the electric garage door opener, the cords connecting the wooden blinds in the family room shredded due to age, and the vertical blinds in the living room windows that faced the street stopped closing tightly, and people could see in—see a woman alone—at night.
Chaos. There was no other word for it. How was I going to survive?
My WIP, a novella, had lacked only a thousand words to completion when my old life ended so abruptly. Even had I been able to get my mind in gear, I had no time to write. So I didn’t.
After a couple months, the one pleasure I allowed myself was to let friends drive me to a meeting of our RWA chapter in Orange County, California. I let chatting about writing on the drive in and back, the warm chapter friendships, and discussions about craft and marketing flow around and nurture me.
After one meeting, I came home inspired, opened my computer and reread my novella. Oh, I had no time for this but, when I realized this was a world I could control, I wrote for fifteen minutes.
Deepening my characters as they moved toward their goals in the world I’d created brought surcease from the real one I struggled with every day. Little by little, I finished that thousand words, then it struck home that I’d written myself into a hole: I was rushing the ending.
And so I wrote on. Then, as smooth as silk, I had over 40,000 words and the work was done. Without even thinking about it, I had finished a Book in a Year.
I will never forget Ron or the life we shared. He had a gift for numbers, mine was wrangling words onto paper. I loved him because he encouraged that part of me, love him more deeply now because through the chaos words on paper were what centered me, gave me the courage to figure out my “new life”—as my artist/writer friend, Sheila Hansberger, describes widowhood.
Artists paint, sketch and sculpt, composers compose, and writers write because that is what we do.
It is who we are.
Dee Ann Palmer is a multi-published, award-winning author who writes sensual romance under this name. As Carolina Valdez, she writes explicit gay and m/f romances in several subgenres. She lives in southern California, is a PAN member of RWA, and belongs to Sisters in Crime.
The other day I came home to find the men I hired to build my patio sitting in my backyard looking at a stump. This was not a normal stump. This was a giant. Paul Bunyan, Big John kind of stump. I sat down with them and I, too, considered the stump.
“George had to get his chain saw for that sucker,” one of them finally said.
“Took two hours to get it out,” another offered.
“I think it broke George’s saw,” the first chimed in.
“Why didn’t you leave it in the ground,” I asked. “You know, pour the cement around it?”
“We thought about it,” the third said. “It wouldn’t have been right.”
They told me that they had managed to cut it up into the piece we were looking at but that it had been twice as big and buried deep in the ground; a remnant of a primordial tree. Their task had been Herculean. They told me that if they poured the cement over the stump, the darn thing could rot and my steps would fall in, and I would be upset with them because they had poured cement over a stump the size of San Francisco.
“It looks petrified,” I said. “How many years do you think it would take to rot?”
The first guy shrugged, “Twenty. Thirty years.”
I shrugged back. I would probably be dead by the time the stump rotted and my stairs fell in. I guess it was the principal of the thing. They would have known the stump was there.
We sat in the hot sun a while longer. Someone suggested carving the stump into the likeness of the contractor. I liked that idea but no one knew how to carve. I thought we could make it into a table. Eventually, we all stopped looking at the stump. The men moved it out of the way and started work again; I went inside to make dinner.
That stump has now been in my backyard for months. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. But, like all things that are hard to get rid of, it eventually served a purpose. It taught me a few lessons:
1) Everybody has a stump. It might be in your real backyard, your professional backyard or your personal backyard, but it is undoubtedly there.
2) What you do with your stump will tell you a lot about yourself. Either you will dig it up and deal with it, or you will leave it to rot.
3) If you’re stumped and need help there is always someone willing to work hard with you to take care of it as long as you work as hard as they do.
4) You can never go through a stump but don’t panic. You can go around them, over them and sometimes even under them but that takes the longest.
5) Sometimes stumps are not as big as they look and sometimes they are bigger. Size doesn’t matter. Stumped is stumped.
6) Removing a stump but choosing to keep it as a reminder of what stood in your way is a good thing. When you look at it, you will always know that when it came to you against the stump, you won.
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Not new in the world of publishing, but new for me. The last few years have been crazy in my personal life, so even though I’ve learned a lot about how to move my writing career to the next level, I haven’t been able to implement any of the changes.
I’m excited that I’m about to release a new book! And for the first time, I’m not publishing it as soon as it is ready. I emailed my newsletter list and included the first chapter and the cover so they could start getting excited about the new story/series. Immediately, a few of my readers wrote back saying they loved it, best book yet!
Thanks to a gentle push from a friend, I decided to put my book on pre-order for the first time. I set up the pre-order with the practically-final version of the book on KDP, iBooks, and Kobo. (Barnes & Noble didn’t have a pre-order option at the time I did this, so I prepped the book to be ready to hit the Publish button the day before I want it to go live.)
I emailed my list a second time, left Chapter One at the bottom in case readers missed it the first time, and gave them the links to the pre-order on Amazon U.S., Amazon U.K., Amazon Australia (my newsletter service lets me see where subscribers are from), iBooks, and Kobo. Within a day, I had my first seven pre-orders – yay!
Another first that I’ve wanted to do for a year or two is to create a beta readers group. I finally got that up and running on Facebook a few weeks ago. I have nineteen beta readers who are reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the book that I put up on BookFunnel.
They’ve pointed out typos, offered a few suggestions, and they’ve given me enormously satisfying positive feedback about the book. They’ll be posting reviews on the first day of release so that new readers will immediately see that others liked the book.
I also finally created a Facebook group for all the rest of my readers! I’ve been frustrated with my Facebook author page and the fact that if a reader posts on my page, it’s almost hidden along the side. It’s ridiculously difficult to have a conversation that way. So I created a group that is attached to the author page. For the first time, I can easily chat with my readers and engage with them in a way that will help them to know, like, and trust me. You can see – and join! – my readers’ Facebook group here.
The other thing I learned is that although readers can’t post reviews to Amazon until the book goes on sale, they can post them to Goodreads as soon as I added the book to the site. I created a listing for the ebook, sent a link to my beta readers, and the first four people who had finished the ARC posted their reviews!
Then I created a paperback listing on Goodreads and set up two Giveaways, one for five books to be given away in the United States only, and one for two books to be given away everywhere. I would’ve gotten these up earlier if I could have, but they’ll go live a week before the book’s release.
I’m also going to try to get the paperback edition up on CreateSpace before the official release day. Once the book is live in any form (i.e., the paperback even though the ebook has its own release date), readers can leave reviews. So if I can get the paperback live and available for sale before the official release day (for the ebook), I can tell my beta readers to please leave their reviews immediately. Then it will look like the book releases with reviews. Awesome!
The last thing I’m doing for the first time is something I hope to never do again. The book’s release date is the day after I move! Yup, movers come pick up our stuff, then we clean the house and turn in the keys, and the next day my book goes live. While I’m staying for a few days at a friend’s house, before an international flight. Limited time, limited Internet access, limited everything. Well…we’ll see how it goes!
Meanwhile, I’m putting together Amazon ads for the book (not a first, I’m already running them for two other books), and getting the last newsletter ready that will go out on release day. This is the most amount of work I’ve ever done to have a true book launch. I’m excited!
I don’t expect to sell hundreds of copies the first day; instead my hope is to learn how to do everything, how long it all takes, and create a streamlined process for the future. Then I’ll create a book launch calendar for myself for the next launch.
Exciting times! I’ll let you know what happens! 😀
Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. She writes romantic comedy and superhero urban fantasy, often with an inspirational element woven in. WRITE NOW! Workshop, her website where she teaches and offers advice on self-publishing and time management, is under renovation. Look for the new website near the end of 2017!
I first read Jack Finney’s time travel novel, TIME AND AGAIN, when I was in college.
That time in your life when you believe you can change the world. That you can build new things, create new art, set the world on a new course of diplomacy. I wanted to do all those things, but most of all, I wanted to time travel.
In Mr. Finney’s novel, he sets the stage for the time period where his hero wants to go–like a stage set–then teaches him how to use his mind to go back in time. Imagine my joy when I discovered I could do the same thing–travel back in time by using my mind.
How? you ask.
By writing my own time travel stories.
It’s a Christmas story about a woman who gets a second chance to save the man she loves from being killed in the war by going back to 1943.
I have the cover finished . . . and blurb written. I’ll update this page when I’m ready to upload the manuscript to Kindle Scout.
Family is the theme of LOVE ME FOREVER. Two very different women, Liberty Jordan and Pauletta Sue Buckingham, with different ideas are thrown together in a mad, crazy scheme of spying, lost love, and passionate desire for what they can’t have.
The men they love.
Do they get their men?
Well, it is a romance, but it’s also a wild dramatic journey based on actual events in the Civil War. Liberty and Pauletta Sue will make you cheer, then cry, then hold your breath when it looks like all is lost…
Go to Naughty Paris in 1889: erotic romance