Joy and Grief

Today, I should be seriously happy.

My latest book, Omission, is finally out, and I’m so thrilled to share it with the world.

As I got online this morning to start work for the day and get some things done I didn’t get done yesterday, I was slapped in the face.

A little boy, Rowan Windham, all of 10 years old, passed away overnight.

I’ve never met Rowan, but I know of him. And he and my son share a special set of circumstances: both went 2000+ miles to Seattle to undergo bone marrow transplants for the same disease, Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. The difference is, one got to go home. The other got to go to Heaven. 15589817_10102662315427538_1330244952191687796_n

This morning, instead of wanting to spread the word about my book, I’m crying for this little boy’s family. I so want to hug them, even though I don’t know them. And just be a shoulder for them to cry on.

At the same time, I feel a lot of guilt. Why is my son healthy, and they’re planning their son’s funeral? It just doesn’t seem right. No child should have to go through what my son and Rowan did.

Living with the knowledge that your kid may not outlive you weighs heavily on a parent’s heart. In the 6 years I’ve been in the SDS community, I’ve seen too many kiddos–and adults–lose their fight. Some are just a glancing blow–a name, an age. Others, like Rowan’s, are a sucker punch right in the solar plexus. They leave you raw.

There are no words for what Rowan’s family are experiencing today. If you read this today, in December 2016, or five years from now, say a prayer for them. Whether Rowan’s passing was yesterday or a decade ago, there’s a hole where he used to be.

One that will only be healed when they join him in Heaven.

If you want to donate to support research into Shwachman Diamond Syndrome, you can support the following organizations:
Shwachman Diamond America
Shwachman Diamond Syndrome Foundation

And, oh yeah, you can buy my book on Amazon and all other e-tailers. I feel a little guilty for even mentioning it today. Watch this space for more on upcoming events surrounding the release.


Why I Decided To Give My Book Away For Free

Compilation Cover Template v 1Did I get your attention with that headline? Because I should have. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Yes, I am giving my book, The Darby Shaw Chronicles: Books 1 – 3, away for free. But not just everywhere. You can buy it on Amazon. On Kobo. On Barnes & Noble. And on several other, smaller platforms.

But I made the decision to give it away on Story Cartel in hopes of urging people to read my book then leave a review on Amazon (and other booksellers platforms).

Want a new Kindle? You could win one (not necessarily this model) by leaving a review!

Oh, and you can enter to win a new Kindle e-reader or Amazon and B&N gift cards. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Learn more here. If you’re not registered with Story Cartel, it’s free and easy. But it is required. But registering not only gives YOU the opportunity to get a free download of MY book, but many other authors’ books as well. So win for you, win for me, and win for other authors!

Here’s how it works. If you’re reading this post sometime between June 8, 2016 & June 22, 2016, the giveaway is going on. You can find it here. In these two weeks, you can download a copy of the book (and I’m being EXTRA nice and giving away not just Kindle-compatible files, but .epub which works on your Nook, Kobo, and other devices, as well as PDFs.)10367552_665731103522332_3887044761326006552_n Read the book. Write a review on any of the platforms or on your blog. Leave a link to the review. You have an extra week (through June 29) to leave your links. Once you’ve input a link, you’re entered in Story Cartel’s monthly contest. That’s it!

So, wait? Why are you still reading this? Go! Go now! You’re wasting time here! ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Mostly, I’m just kidding. But seriously, why are you still here?)

Until next time…

The Absent-Minded Author

I’ve been busy at work on the website this week, and as I was going throughLasersDragonsAndKeyboards Logo.png my posts and making sure things are looking good, I realized something:


So, in the category of better-late-than-never, I started a podcast! If you’re following me on Facebook, you already know this. I may have even announced it in my newsletter (I’m pretty sure I did.) But to formally announce it here on my website, the name of my podcast isย Lasers, Dragons, and Keyboards. I host it with Aaron DeMott and Joshua Hardt. Since starting in January, we’ve interviewed about a dozen science fiction and fantasy authors, ranging from debut authors to New York Times bestsellers. Woo-hoo!

For information on where to listen, check out this page on our webpage.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll pop over and give us a listen! We sure have a blast doing the show.

There, I Said It

I kinda want to get this off my chest because I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about it. So, prepare for a bit of a vent. (I don’t know howย  much because I don’t know exactly where this is going yet.)

I am a special needs mom.

I don’t talk about it much here on the blog, at least not in the last couple years. But my days are constantly filled with dealing with addressing the needs of a young person who isn’t quantifiably normal. Anger outbursts are frequent in my house. Having to deal with the meltdowns, the appointments, the blood draws, and the general unpredictability of never knowing how my days are going to go is an exercise in patience.

Some days, I pass.

Sometimes I don’t.

Being a special needs mom, a lot of my friends and acquaintances are also special needs moms. And while I try to be a sympathetic ear, it honestly gets tiring sometimes to hear of another sick baby, or a fundraiser, or a family going to transplant, or a kid who’s facing a night, a weekend, a week in the hospital because of RSV, the flu, strep throat, etc.

I mean, seriously tiring.

Sometimes, I feel guilty for just clicking the little “sad” emoticon on a Facebook status. Because what more can I *really* do? I live 100 miles, 1000 miles, a world away from the family. It’s not that I don’t care, but I can’t DO anything! (Other than pray–that’s a big deal in and of itself.) And I can only do so much monetarily or time-wise.

I have my own family to worry about, too. I have homeschooling, dealing with breakdowns, dealing with appointments, oh, and let’s not forget books to write.

I think if most special needs moms would admit it, they feel for every other family who is going through anything remotely similar to what they go through or have gone through. But sometimes, the story hits a little too close to home. It’s a little TOO familiar. It hurts a little TOO much. I can’t read fiction stories about families who have lost children to illness. Just can’t. Maybe I never will. Movies? Better not have me watch them. I’ll take my rom-com’s and superhero movies. (BTW, first time on here since Star Wars? LOVED it!) Just don’t make me watch a sad movie about a kid dying.

So, what’s the point?

I’m not 100% sure. But maybe now you’ve seen a bit of my heart about being a special needs mom, you’ll give a special needs mom you know some TLC. (And dads too.) Whether we deal with medical problems, behavioral problems, developmental problems or some combination of the three, it’s a tough journey to be on. Knowing others are in the same boat you are can be helpful. But it can also be downright exhausting.

For most of us, wine and chocolate would be greatly appreciated. Or a massage.

Yeah, a massage sounds pretty good around now…

The Things You Do as an Author

Over the weekend, we had some family in town. In the quiet times, when one member was reading, and another was Facebooking, I was trying to squeeze some editing in. I grabbed my 3-ring binder with Launching Justice in it, made sure I had my spiral-bound notebook inside it for making notes for its sequel, grabbed a water bottle, and plopped down in the chair.

Only to burst from my chair a minute later.

You see, I had opened up my binder to where I was editing and thought, “I wonder how Jupiter would look from the surface of Mars.”

Now, for some of you, you may be thinking that that’s a really strange question to ask. But the thing is: my character was looking at Jupiter, not from the surface of Mars, but not from far away from Mars, either. So very relevant.

I’m pretty sure I startled my family who was in the room with me when I jerked to my feet quickly, dropped my binder on my chair, and crossed the room to my trusty laptop, stood over it for about three minutes as I Googled my question, then returned to my chair as though nothing had ever happened.

But I got my answer. And it was exactly what I was looking for.

Sometimes, as an author, you startle people.

For the record, this is what Jupiter–and Earth!–looks like from near Mars: earth_jupiter_i1The round dot at the bottom–that’s Jupiter. Depending on your screen and how good your eyes are, you may be able to pick out three of its moons surrounding it. From left to right, you can see Callisto, Ganymede, Jupiter, and Europa. (Callisto, I think, is where I set some of my action in Launching Justice. It may be Europa–I can’t quite remember.)

At the top are visible Earth and our moon. Makes someone feel very small to realize how truly vast our solar system is, and to think about how small it is compared to the galaxy, and the universe…

Hello, Old Friends

One thing I love about being a fiction writer is creating characters. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun to figure out just where these characters I’m going to be living with for a while come from, what their stories are, and how they’re going to work with the other characters I’m going to shove them together with. Sometimes I do this on the fly. Oops, I need THIS character for this particular role. But for main characters, I spend more time with them, get to know who they are, really explore them.

What’s even more fun is the stage I’m in right now.

I’m starting to make notes on the sequel to a book I’m editing, one whose characters you haven’t fully had a chance to meet yet. Sure, I’ve talked about them over the years. Bridger and Tamryn have both even been on the couch over at The Character Therapist blog. (Which was quite helpful if you’re reading this, Jeannie!) But as I shift gears out of actively working with Darby and Mark for a short season (i.e. long enough to edit B&T’s first book and outline their second book), it’s exceedingly wonderful to work with these old friends again.

See, when I wrote their first book, I thought Bridger and Tamryn were a one-off. I left some loose threads, in case I did want to come back, but I didn’t really think I would. But they were such a joy to work with, it was always my hope to come back to them.

And two weeks ago when I finished writing Darby & Mark’s next book, I knew it was time to come back to Bridger & Tamryn. I’d been toying with some story ideas, and it felt like it was the right time.

What’s absolutely delightful about returning to these old friends is the fact I know them already. There are fewer holes I need to fill in. But I also get to figure out what they’ve been up to since I wrote “The End” on their story. That’s been so much fun. I think I’ve mostly wrapped that up for now, but it’s been interesting to see what they’ve gone through. It’s also interesting because I have to figure out just how much time has elapsed between the first and second book, and I’m not completely sure! (Mostly because I’m not 100% sure when the last book signed off–I need to calculate that while I’m editing.)

Anyway, you’ll get to meet Bridger and Tamryn in a few months with their debut book, “Launching Justice.” There’s suspense, space battles, explosions, robots, and space stations in it. Oh, and a love story. Can’t write a book without a romance. ๐Ÿ˜‰

CEO Tamryn Caporelli’s best friend, Cora, has gone missing, and not even a technologically savvy inventor such as Tamryn can track her down. Enter P.I. Bridger Heidemann. He’s not the best out there, but he’s been recommended by someone Tamryn trusts. She engages his services to try and find Cora. He’s not sure he’s the best P.I. for the job, but he’s willing to do what he can since his bank account needs some padding. Neither of them expects to find themselves on an adventure of a lifetime when they board Tamryn’s personal spaceship and head for the resort near Jupiter where Cora was supposed to have gone.

They don’t count on falling in love, either.

I can’t wait to share this book with you. It’s been one whose topics I’ve been very passionate about for a while, and it’s been a long time in coming. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Keep watching this space (and my newsletter!) for updates on the cover and release dates for this book. I’m hoping to have it and Darby’s next book out in the 2nd quarter of 2016.