Monday, July 6, 2015

Beyond the Book Club

A few days ago on Facebook I mentioned something about starting up a book club. I'm part of a book club that I joined on but have yet to actually make it to a meeting because the closest they meet is Concord, and they seem to always picks nights for gatherings to be nights when I have standing plans. Needless to say the excitement I felt when first joining this group dwindled after each missed gathering. But instead of getting discouraged I decided to get smart and just start my own.

About a year ago I started reading a series by Christian author Laura Jensen Walker, a series called "The Getaway Girls" that followed a group of women from all different ages, different personality types, different walks of life who met and bonded over books and their mutual love of them. During one of their meetings they decide they don't want to be the typical book club any longer, that they don't want to just sit around, stuffing their faces and discussing books. They wanted to start living them. I thought the idea was genius and decided, maybe it's time I stopped reading my books as well. Maybe it's time I start living them. And I'm inviting anyone who wants to, to join me. Men and women, young and old, single or married. It's good to have diversity and to mix it up once in awhile. So here's the official pitch:

Here is it, another book club just like all the rest out there. Except not. Beyond the Book Club is just as it sounds. We read books, we discuss them, but we also take it one step further. Each book we read and discuss will be the beginning of an adventure, an engaging opportunity to do something amazing, fun, and hopefully adventerous. Because the excitement doesn't have to end when the book does. "Around the World in 80 Days" may lead to a hot air balloon ride, "Moby Dick" could end in a whale watch, "Emma" just may have you being set up on a blind date, and "Les Miserables" could take you all the way to Paris. We'll meet bi-monthly to discuss our chosen books and the adventures that are sure to follow.

Our first meeting will be Monday, July 20 at 6pm at Wayfarer Coffee Roasters on Main Street in Laconia. They are open until 7 so that should give us enough time to get something delicious to drink and/or nom on while we talk, and be able to introduce ourselves and really get to the meat of our group. From there we can figure out a night/time/place that works the best for all of us and figure out our next meeting. With any luck, we'll also be choosing our first book that night as well.

Bring your questions, bring book suggestions, and bring a friend! Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Me and My Broken Heart pt. 1

Several weeks ago I was sitting in the commons at CenterPoint listening to an amazing testimony at Celebrate Recovery. I'd just had dinner and fellowship, sang songs, and was doing absolutely nothing that would cause my heart to start beating weird. But all of the sudden the room got darker than it was and it felt like I was tumbling down a long black tunnel. All sound went away, all sensation but that of falling. It happened twice in a 45 minute period. That was five weeks ago and while it hasn't been to the almost blacking out stage, I've had definite moments of dizziness that were so severe that I could focus on nothing else.

In five weeks it's happened at least a dozen times. Sometimes my heart races, sometimes it feels like it's beating through sludge. Sometimes it skips beats. Once it even felt like a car engine that tried to turn over before shuddering to a stop. There were nights I would go to bed praying just to wake up in the morning.

Today I finally got in the see my new Cardiologist. My previous one, the one I have been seeing for years, no longer had my trust when she said, "Can't you just ignore it?" to chest pains I was having some months back. Um, no. I'm sorry. I can't. I have a pulmonary aneurysm. I have every right and reason to be concerned. Don't tell me to ignore it.

Anyway. So I was able to get in to see a doctor from Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the doctor who found the aneurysm to begin with, and I haven't felt so taken care of and validated in a very long time. Each test they did they talked me through and discussed the results, my doctor had real in-depth conversations with me about my medical history as well as what is going on now. No one made me feel like I was over-reacting or crazy as I often felt when seeing my previous doctor. I feel like I'm finally with people who know what they're doing.

I only have a few results from today, thus the pt. 1 of the title.
  • My blood pressure is seriously wonky. My systolic pressure is always pretty much the same and a really good number. My diastolic pressure goes from being low to high, and back again depending on the position I'm in, my activity level, the weather, if potatoes are on sale, whether or not my socks match. Basically it's unpredictable. 
  • The aneurysm is still there and a little bigger, but not much. Still inoperable. Still annoying.
  • Dr. Flanagan thinks the dizziness might be linked to the deterioration in my cervical spine but wants to wait to explore that until the results of my monitor have been read. For now I need to be doing what I have been doing which is being still when the dizziness kicks in and journal everything.
I have to wear a heart monitor for the next two weeks and let me tell you, I look like some sort of bio-cyborg hybrid project. It's kind of awesome. In two weeks I mail it back, wait another week for the results, and we go from there.

So that's all I have to share for now.  I'm really glad I don't have to wear this during the first weekend of my signing because that would suck. But I am grateful for the fact that I'm being taken care of.

Stay tuned for part two coming next month!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's Contest Time!

For those of you who do not know I've been talking about a contest off and on  for about a month now on the Age of Valor fanpage. (For those of you who really don't know, AoV is my fantasy series.) Well today is the day we finally get to the nitty gritty of it all. I've been wanting to do one for some time but couldn't think of a good prize until just two days ago. I think it's a fantastic prize in my very humble opinion. Hopefully everyone else does as well. So what is it, you ask? It's a painting. By me. Signed for you and shipped anywhere worldwide.

14x17 acrylic painting on stretched canvas, signed

I doubt I will paint this again simply because I never do the same thing twice when I create things so this is a one-of-a-kind piece that you could have, ready to hang without even a frame.

Here is how you can gain entries into the raffle for this painting:

1 entry for liking the fanpage on Facebook
1 entry for sharing the page
1 entry for liking and sharing this contest post on Facebook
1 entry if you've already bought/downloaded the book
1 entry for sharing this contest on other social media networks
5 entries if you've left a review on the Amazon page or leave a new one
10 entries for each new book purchase or download

Working on the honor system here, please leave a comment either here or on the Facebook page telling me which of these you have fulfilled so that I can give you proper entry numbers. 

The winner - to be chosen by a random generator - will be chosen three weeks from today. That gives you plenty of time to tick these things off and get the maximum number of 20 entries. Already bought the book? Buy it for someone else you know who likes fantasy! Once the winner is chosen I'll send you a private message via Facebook or we can exchange emails, and your lovely new painting will sent to you right away.

Good luck everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Well That Didn't Work

It's funny to think about how different my life was just ten years ago, how different I was in general. I can count on one hand the number of people who knew the girl who sat in her apartment having a panic attack at the very idea of leaving that safety and security to even check the mail. And if I absolutely had to go somewhere I needed to be with a "safe" person and not out for too long or I would lose it.

...who was that girl?

When I tell people about how I used to be, even after sharing my story at Celebrate Recovery, I've had people express how hard it is to believe I was ever like that. My usual response is to kind of laugh it off because it was really another life ago, but the person I was then and the person I am now has been thrown into such contrast in the past two weeks that I really can't ignore it.

Anyone who has known me for more than a few months knows the part of my story where I sing the praises of One Voice. (Get it? Sing the praises? They sing praises? Well I never said I was funny.) God used them to save my life in a very literal sense. He used people within One Voice to shake me out of whatever stupor I was in. I was suddenly on stage singing, dancing, acting...and I loved it! I found confidence in myself on stage, and off stage I had people speaking into my life, coming alongside me in a way no one really had before. Fast forward a few years and I was led to CenterPoint where God place certain women in my life who would really kick the growing and stretching into high gear.

The girl who was literally afraid of her own shadow had become a woman who was actively pursuing a writing career, being her own publicity agent, eager to join classes at church and leading groups. What? Who is this strange woman?! I like her a lot better than that scared little girl I used to be.

An innocent comment made on something I posted on Facebook yesterday only deepend my self-reflection and took my thoughts a bit farther. Someone said "I'm so glad you're opening up and are able to visit all of these wonderful places!" and my initial thought as, "Well why wouldn't I?" Then I remembered she was one of those few friends who knew me during my dark days.

The truth of the matter is traveling used to be a secret dream of mine, something I always wanted to do but never actually saw myself doing. Of course there was Scotland, that was the ultimate dream. To be able to go and meet family I've never met, to explore, see the family castle and all cool would that be? But only figuratively because to go to Scotland would require leaving my apartment. But as I grew and came more out of my heavy and somehow still very fragile shell, that desire only grew with me.

I've begun saving for that trip to Scotland. Most days it feels like I am never going to get there because, right now, everything I've saved is going into publicity and things for the book. I'm hoping it produces good returns and I'll end up with more that what I started with. That desire to go is so strong some days that it feels like I'm missing a part of myself. How weird is that? I thought it might just be waderlust and a need to be elsewhere but I'm kind of thinking it's not.

Three weekends ago I went to North Carolina for a Celebrate Recovery one-day conference and I was so excited to be someplace new! Conference aside (which was amazing by the way) I was thrilled to be in a place I knew nothing about and knew no one besides the two women with me. But we didn't really have much time to explore. Then I just came back from a week in Florida which was also super exciting. Again, I knew no one except the people I was with. And it was on this trip that I realized something:

I want to go alone.

Both times I traveled I was with people I loved and people I love spending time with. All of them made my trips so enjoyable on so many different levels. But there is something to be said for going it alone. One of my very best friends suggested when I go to Scotland I should go alone and I agreed because she made good points, but it really clicked into place for me these past couple of weeks.

I want to be on my own time table with no one else to consider. If I want to go, I'll go. If I want to stay where I am and write, I'll write. If I want to go to bed early I will, and if I want to stay up all night doing nothing but looking at the sky, I will. I have several friends who have expressed interest in going with me and have all but said they'd be happy doing whatever I wanted to do because it would be my trip, but the thing is, no one could be happy doing everything I'm doing exactly when I want to do it except me. Because everyone is different. And because of who I am I will pick up on hesitance or desire to do something or be elsewhere and likely either give into it or feel guilty for not giving into it.

I want to go alone.

Not because I am anti-social, secluding, or being an extreme introvert. Because I want this adventure for myself. I want to be away from everything and everyone safe and familiar and see what happens. 

I'm going to make it happen somehow. Soon. Mostly because I want to but also because I know a lot of people doubt it will happen. And I like to prove people wrong. Pride issues. Maybe I should bring that up at my next CR meeting...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Singles Awareness Day

For a long time I have laughingly said that I was terminally single, meaning it was something I could not change and would likely die from. It always came out as a flippant comment, something to make light of an area in which I was really struggling. As society evolves (or devolves in some cases) more and more women are deciding they don't want and/or need the whole marriage and kids shebang. Sadly it's become more commonplace for women to "take matters into their own hands" and just find companionship when they feel like they need it, no strings attached. How that doesn't leave someone feeling all the more empty after the fact, I have no idea. Or maybe it does and that's the drawback to this so-called freedom that no one really wants to discuss.

 I laughed when I saw this because it's true.

I've brought this tender subject to God many a time over, always lamenting my lack of a man in my life, of children, of really feeling like an adult. I've discussed it with my friends, both single and married, who have all said singleness is a freedom to be cherished. And while I did understand I didn't have to worry about certain things preventing me to do crazy things on a whim, what they didn't seem to understand was that I longed for those ties. Sure, I could go on a week-long road trip if I wanted, but who did I have to share it with? Who did I have to come home to? Singleness was a gift I no longer wanted. I had outgrown it and was ready to exchange it for something different.

Perhaps it was wishful thinking, but I've often tried to convince myself that I would be fine if I was single for the rest of my life. There has been a lot of trauma in my past so maybe it would really be better to avoid that whole thing all together. I thought if I said it often enough, that I was better off single, it would begin to take root and make itself true. But it never really did. At least, not until very recently.

At group Wednesday we had two questions we went over: What are you not trusting God to take from you and what have you turned over to Him. Well in the past couple of weeks I truly did turn over this whole single vs. not single thing, and for the first time since I brought it before God so many years ago, I felt a real peace wash over me. It was a peace that was full of trust. Still is. I can honestly say I will be happy either way. If God chooses to bless me with a husband, great. If He doesn't, I trust it's for the best. So many writers I know lose their mojo for writing once they get married. I have always been terrified that would happen to me, so maybe that's why I'm still single. Or maybe it's a completely different, obscure reason I'll never understand. No matter what, I'm okay with it.

 Also, wasn't it Paul who said it's better to stay single so that nothing can sway your focus from Christ? I already have so many things that distract me from Him as it is.

On the subject of children, well that's a little different. Since I am one of those "crazy Christians" who believes when God says sex is for those who are married to one another and won't go sleeping around in hopes of getting pregnant, there are some options I can explore. And will explore. Besides, who wants to end up an Ace of Base song? Did I just date myself? Goodness, I am so old.

In the meantime I will go back to writing. I think I'm about 7 or 8 chapters away from the first draft of book two being finished. I would love to have it already be in the editing process before the book signing in May so that I can promote not only the first book, but have some sort of teaser for the second as well. They say the best way for unknowns to become better knowns is to write more than one book. Well, I'm working on it. I'm hoping the audio drama will be completed by then as well, but if not I'll definitely be bringing what is completed to be playing at my booth. More teasers. What fun.

Happy Valentines Day, everyone. A day early. Have a blessed weekend, snow or no snow.


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