About Me

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I love being a mom and a wife. I've married to a man I would do anything for, and we have three beautiful children. I see so much of myself in both of them that it sometimes brings me to tears (happy ones).

I also love writing. Romance to be specific. I love the happily ever after that I believe everyone deserves. My stories aren't 'stop and smell the roses' type romances. While I believe everyone deserves happiness and true love, I know that sometimes you have to walk a hard road to find it. Those are the types of stories I like to write. The happily ever after that wasn't found, but earned. I work to earn mine on a daily basis and so do my characters. 

I am also working on a children's picture book series. Inspired (of course) by my kiddos. :)

On the non-writing front, I play acoustic guitar, sing, read like I get paid for it, ride horses, hike, paint rocks, and support a rather obsessive addiction to Pinterest.

I love to cook, which combined with my pinning addiction, leads to many experiments foisted on my unsuspecting husband and kids, mostly with good results. But sometimes, the dogs gets what the family refuses to eat. And they never complain. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Writing Through Difficult Times - Thursdays with the Author - January 12, 2015

Over a year ago, a fellow author and blogger asked me to do a guest post on her blog. Being a newly published author, and ready to jump at the chance for any publicity, I quickly said yes. But when I asked her what she'd like the post to be about she told me: anything, and my mind went blank. I was by no means a professional, nor had I gone to college and obtained some degree saying that I knew more than someone else. My knowledge had strictly come from trial and error, or as it's known in this country, the school of hard knocks.

Earlier that same year, my family and I had suffered through a very painful loss that threatened to kill the hope and inspiration inside of me that made me who I was. How could I write with such pain and grief lodged in my chest? How could I continue to write romance, which has a requirement of happily ever afters, when my happiness had fallen into a bottomless pit of despair? 

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Sound overly-dramatic? It may have seemed that way to everyone else around me, but it was exactly what I was feeling at the time. But even in my pain, I forced myself to write. During my time of grief, I marketed my first published book, Dark Mountains. During the time I felt so lost, I finished the final touches on Irish Strength. I finished writing Irish Heart. It wasn't easy, but I made myself do it. And the result of pushing through it turned into two more finished novels. 

So when I thought back on what I had gone through that year, I decided that my guest post would be about writing through grief. It was almost as painful to write it as it was to live it in the first place, but the result, meant to be an educational and encouraging post for other writers, became another part of healing for me.

Before I share the post with you, I want to share the prologue to it all. You see, I've always been able to write better than I can speak, so it's actually easy to keep track of all the things that happen in my life. Because I write about them. Letters, poems, songs, short stories, etc. They all spring from things I've experienced. So to give you a bit of a back-story, I have this tradition of writing letters while I'm pregnant. I write to my unborn children and put the letter in their baby book. I've even written a letter AS my unborn child, to my husband. (I know it sounds strange but it was actually pretty cute)
So it all started with a letter that I wrote to a child I carried...

Unexpected Miracle

January 19, 2013
My little miracle,

  Two days ago, I found out about your existence.  Your father and I were not planning on you, or even knew there was a chance you were there. I was having issues that I should not have been having, and a friend of mine suggested I take a pregnancy test to be sure. I told myself, ‘There’s no way that I am pregnant.’, but followed her advice, and bought two tests. I was so shocked to find positive results on them both. I immediately called daddy and told him the news.

  But I was still having problems that were even more abnormal to have during a pregnancy. Now I was beyond scared that I was losing you right when I had just learned you were there. Suddenly I thought of God. I was begging in prayer for Him to save you. To keep you safe inside my womb.  Why had I not prayed to Him from the moment I found out? Why had I not been praying to him regularly to begin with?

  It seems with mankind, that praying without ceasing comes easy when things are going wrong. The entire day I was praying for you. The next day, waiting to see the doctor and get back test results, I was praying for you. Today, knowing that you are inside me but still in danger, I am praying constantly.

  God has proven to me that my plans, and the plans I make with your father, are nothing compared to what He has planned for me. We had decided to wait until the summer to start trying for you and God showed us that He wanted you to come now. I look at my faith and am saddened to see how small it is. God has proven yet another thing to me. Belief is not good enough. Salvation is not good enough. I am missing SO much by not being connected daily, constantly, consistently to my God.

  So I have not just learned about the baby growing in my womb. I have learned that my need for Jesus is greater than I ever imagined. The necessity of praying and studying the Word of God is greater than I could ever know. My soul demands constant connection with my God. I must have a stronger faith.

  Because of you, my precious child, I have realized these things. God has once again shown me the miracle of life. Though I remain fearful that I may yet lose you, I will trust in the plan that God has created for us. I will love you, and will pray for you, and give you every part of myself for as long as I have you. Just as it is with your big brother and big sister, I will be your mother and I will love you. And though you have just left His arms, I will re-introduce you to our Father in Heaven. I will show you the way to salvation through our Lord Jesus. And I will help you listen and obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  Dear little one, I may only have you a short time. I may have you until the Lord calls me home many years from now. But as long as I do have you, I will thank God for the gift of your life.

Your Mommy

Can you see where this is going now? I bet you can. And you're probably right. It's been two years since I carried that precious, little life inside me and on Valentine's Day, it will be two years since I had to say goodbye to that hope.

Miscarriage is something that is never really talked about and completely misunderstood, until you experience it. Words, though I wrote them, simply cannot express the absolute sense of loss I felt when my doctor called me that day. I had known there was a problem. I had known there was a chance. But I was sure it would be okay. I was positive that my baby would make it. I had been wrong.

What is even less talked about, and even more misunderstood, is the recovery after miscarriage. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, even sexually. And I'm not kidding. I went through a year of being afraid of having sex, because I was afraid of getting pregnant, afraid of losing another child, afraid I wouldn't be able to survive it a second time. Even from day one, there was so much support, especially from my husband and my two beautiful children, but no one REALLY understood what I was going through. The guilt, the grief, the depression, the fear, the EVERYTHING. 

And the things people say. If you've ever lost a child, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about and how much worse it makes you feel. 'It was for the best.' 'There was probably something wrong with it.' 'God has a plan and we need to trust that this happened for a reason.' 'Heaven has one more angel looking down on us.' 'You can always have another.'

Seem cruel? Ask yourself if you've ever said anything to someone who has lost a child, from miscarriage, still birth, death. You most likely have, in some form or fashion. All of those words, meant to comfort, were just twisting the knife that was already embedded deep in my heart. 

Really, I just wanted someone to be a shoulder for me to cry on. Someone to only hug me and not say a thing. Someone to pray for me. Someone to let me be a zombie for as long as it took for me to find life again. And I did get that in some ways. Now in case you think I'm talking about the months of grieving and recovery after my miscarriage... I was and wasn't. Everything I just said happened in the minutes and hours after I received that phone call confirming that my baby was gone.

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But I had two children that needed me and I knew I needed to dig my way out faster than I wanted to. For me, the best way to try and find myself again was to write. Only hours after that phone call, I was writing. If you can call breaking into sobs every few words, writing. But by that evening, I had written another letter... to the child I had lost. And even though the physical proof of my loss hadn't even begun yet, I had already found my way to cope.

So when I was asked to write the blog post, in the end, I decided to share my painful journey of loss with the world. The post was about writing through tragedy and hard times, but it should have been titled: How I Survived. It was a long-winded post so I'll only share with you the part pertaining to this subject, but you can click on the link below to read the whole post. 

I hope that it helps you heal in whatever you're going through as much as it did for me. And I hope it encourages you to keep writing, no matter what you're going through. Life is full of unexpected moments, that make unexpected memories and lead to unexpected places. They won't all be happy, if fact a majority of them will make you sad, but those unexpected moments make you who you are and make your writing what it is.

As writers, we are used to writing. All the time. It’s what we do. Everything inspires us. We’re surrounded by journals with ideas hastily scrawled in the middle of the night after waking up from a dream. Our smart phones have dozens of notes with short-hand typing when inspiration strikes while out shopping. Our computers have documents in different stages of development. We write when inspired and the mess of words left to sort out later is the result.
But more and more frequently, I’m seeing posts from authors and writers, struggling to write after tragedy strikes. To focus on a pen and paper (or computer and keyboard) when life really kicks us around. Some even take a break from writing to cope with what their life had thrown at them, only to come back and feel lost in the tumultuous emotions still swirling around in their minds.
Life is hard.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is an established fact. Sometimes it even sucks. It’s not predictable; neither is the way we react to it. Everyone has different coping mechanisms. Different personalities and emotions. Different ways of accepting.
I think for writers, the best way to cope is to KEEP WRITING. Even when it seems impossible. Even when there’s no time. Even with our chaotic moods threatening to swallow our sanity. KEEP WRITING. We are writers after all, are we not?
What you write doesn’t have to be good. Hell, it doesn’t even have to make sense. The only thing that matters is that you didn’t give up, you didn’t let anything stop you, from putting words to paper.
Inspiration strikes us all, even in the worst of times. For me, I’ve always found it to be therapeutic to write when I am struggling. Life likes to throw giant flaming bowling balls of problems my way and writing about it is almost like taking up a giant club and whacking that damn ball clear out of the park. Even if what I write is just a jumbled mess of feelings and words scrambled onto a paper, I come back to it later and find diamonds, rubies, sapphires and all manners of creative gems hiding in the wreckage. Use it. Refine it. Create something with it.
Regardless of what genre you write in, tragedy and heartbreak can strike any of the characters. It can build bridges or tear them down. It can deepen character or shatter it. It can forge relationships or destroy them. It can add depth, emotion, humanity, to what we write.
Why hide from that? Who cares if you are bawling your eyes to oblivion while trying to type? Who cares if you are getting salty tears all over your keyboard? Who cares if your pencil lead keeps snapping from the unnecessary force you are writing with? Who cares if you’re surrounded by crumpled up papers after you start and ultimately hate what you are writing. You should care. If you can’t feel emotions and let them flow into what you’re writing, how is the reader supposed to feel the emotion when reading your words? As writers, we shouldn't be afraid of the raw and unpredictable. We should embrace it.
Life never gives us a break. We wish it would, but there is no stopping the ebb and flow of pain, illness, death. What is hard to remember, during those times, is that life also gives us joy, love and hope. What we write, whether romance, horror, children's, etc. isn't one dimensional. it has the same ebb and flow that we experience in everyday life. Learning how to embrace the changes, the hard times, and use them in our work, is what makes us great writers.
Last January, my husband and I found out we were expecting another baby, our third child. We weren’t prepared for this news but were extremely happy. Only a few weeks after finding out, some tests came back with results no one wants. We had lost our baby. After only weeks of knowing that hidden joy was nestled inside me. That light that kept me smiling with the secret knowledge of the little one I carried inside me was gone. I was devastated. Beyond any emotions I had ever experienced. To any of you that have lost a child, in any stage and point of life, you know the feelings I was experiencing. There were no words.
Except that there were words. Feelings. Emotions. Tears. Anger. Despair. Swirling inside me like a hurricane. I couldn't stop crying. Screaming in agony over what I had lost. Drowning in guilt for the wrongs I imagined up for the sake of something to blame. So I began to write. I had written a letter to my unborn child, as I had done with my first two, the day I found out I was pregnant. It seemed only fitting to write a letter to my baby again.
So that’s what I did. And all of those words and feelings and thoughts storming inside me flew onto the paper like that’s where they were always destined to be. It took me hours just to write one page. But that one page contained every piece of my heart that had been broken that day. In the end, the anger and guilt were gone. The sorrow, the pain, the heartache were still alive and raw inside me but I had found the way out. The path to healing… through writing.
We just passed what would've been our child’s due date on October 14. Ironically, a day later was a national remembrance day for lost children. The same emotions I felt the day we lost our baby came swelling back up and I took out that letter and read it again. I blogged it. I passed it on. Hoping that those words I wrote on what is so far, the single worst day of my life, would help someone else heal and find hope…
Precious One,
Today I learned that I had lost you. As soon as I heard the words, I lost myself as well.
Grief is a powerful thing. A tidal wave that comes with no warning and destroys what you hold dear. It devastates everything you once knew and leaves empty, broken shells of what once was. You are lost in the dark, swirling waters, not knowing where the surface is, where to go to breathe. It swallows you and you drown in the darkness.
Everyone who has ever lost must ask the question: why? Human nature compels us to try to understand and explain. To give reason to why everything happens. There is no reason and yet there are a million reasons.
I don’t know why God took you away so soon. I don’t know why I never got to hear your heart beat, feel you kick inside me, listen to your first cry, hold you in my arms. I barely knew you. Your father will not see my belly grow with you, feel you moving beneath my skin, cut the cord that would’ve separated us, hold me while I held you. Your siblings will never get to see you sucking your thumb on a screen while you sleep inside me, wait impatiently in a room while I bring you into the world or hold your tiny hand as they meet you for the first time. We will never get to know you in this world.
But my dear, sweet child, we will never forget you. We will never forget the joy you brought to us, even though it was for such a short time. We will never forget the hope you gave us. We will never forget ideas you spurred in our minds and the love you created in our hearts. We will never forget the lessons that your brief time here taught us.
You showed me the miracle of life, beloved child. You showed me the flaws in my faith and by merely existing, helped me surrender them to God. You showed me how to trust in what God had in store for me and for our family.
Sometimes the path that God leads us down is hard. Sometimes it is so painful that it becomes nearly unbearable. Losing you made me so angry with God. But after the anger passed, God reminded me of some very important things.
He reminded me that He loves me. He reminded me that not all is lost. He reminded me that I have a Comforter that is holding me now. He reminded me that He feels every tear that I cry. He reminded me how blessed I am.
He reminded me that He has given me your brother and your sister. He reminded of the joys that they are in my life. He reminded me that He has given me your Daddy. He reminded me that your Daddy is an example of what He is to me. A rock that won’t be moved. A strength that cannot be tested. A helpmate and counselor.
He reminded me that I am not alone, that I have family and friends that love me and pray for me. He reminded me that we WILL see you again. That the day we find ourselves in eternity, we will find you. We will see you in the heavenly splendor of a child of God. That we will KNOW you and you will know us.
My precious child, I will never stop grieving your loss. I will never forget that I once carried you inside of me. Even in my grief and sadness, I will not forget that my God is leading me. That He is holding my hand, carrying me when I stumble, holding me together when I break.
I know this despair will lessen, that this grief will ease. I know that this wound will heal. I know, my dearest child, that I will hold you in my arms one day. But until that day comes, I will remember what you taught me and let God lead me through this journey.
Your Mommy

Writing either of those things was not easy. Writing after pain and loss won’t be easy for you either. But you are a writer. You let your feelings, your emotions, and your thoughts flow through you and into your story. Don’t be afraid to write in the pain and hard timesYou just might write the best thing you’ve ever created. But you won’t know until you try.