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…

The Perils of a Pet Mom

I’m SOOOO glad I didn’t have to spend the evening at the emergency vet clinic last night. We thought Tucker, my (practically miniature) chocolate Labrador, was sick for quite a while yesterday evening after we got back from  dinner. My daughter came to us and told us he was in her room, shaking, and I thought, “Oh no, he’s having a seizure.” And he just turned 7! We got him out (under his own power) but he was acting really strange, so we questioned her: did you give him anything? Was there any food in your room? She denied it. We thought Tucker was sick, so we made him go outside, where he began acting normally–playing, wanting me to chase him, etc. But when I tried to get him to come in, he flat out refused!

Tucker
Tucker

This went on for maybe 1/2 an hour, and he came inside a few times, only to insist on going back out. We thought he had the runs or something. I gave him fresh water, petted him, and he’d act fine outside, but go nuts inside.

Then I made him come in because I was tired of this, then went and did something else for a minute in another part of my house. When I came back, my husband said that Tucker wouldn’t go into the living room.

Well guess what was in the living room? A stupid karaoke machine which a co-worker was having Nate look at for an issue with it. My husband had turned it up so loud earlier in the evening that it had been rattling the glass in my china cabinet. No wonder Tucker was upset! I made hubby remove it to his truck to take back to work this morning, and after that, Tucker settled down and was fine!

At least I didn’t have to go to the emergency vet clinic.

A-C-C-O-U-N-T-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y

I’m having one of those mornings where I really don’t know what to write about. After having a six-week lapse in blog posts in September & October, I’m hesitant to just let myself have a week off. Having a self-made deadline is both good and bad… I can give myself a pass–oh, you’ve had so much going on, take the week off!–or I can hold myself accountable, which is, admittedly, much more difficult.

I find I give myself a pass a lot… and with so much going on, it’s no wonder. But, I need to stop doing it. I made a commitment to write a blog post once a week, by Monday, a few years ago. Most of that time, I’ve done pretty well… Lately, not so much.

Sure, a lot of my brain power right now is being taken up with debating the merits of a non-malignant bone marrow transplant with my son. What’s left has been shifted into writing a project that really shouldn’t be getting written right now. Out of all that time, I have 30 minutes or 45 to write a blog post, but when I’m sapped, who wants that?

Despite what’s going on, though, I made a commitment. If I were to have a book deal, I’m sure my editor wouldn’t say something like, “Oh, Liberty, we know you’ve got a lot going on right now. Just get us your manuscript anytime you wish. We’ll still be here.”

Yeah, fat chance of that one happening.

I’d be out of a contract and have a bad name in the industry faster than you could whistle Dixie.

And, on the publishing front, if you follow my Facebook page, you know I did hear back from the agent who asked for my partial. “Too dark for a cozy” is about what it amounts to. So, in addition to writing this novel which really shouldn’t be getting on the page right now and weighing the benefits of a BMT on my son with the negatives, I’ve got to make sense of what to do next.

One of my critters thinks my novel’s not ready… which I can sort of see… but what to do with it? Still, I have this agent, a fairly well-respected agent as near as I can tell, who expressed that I have some good writing. What do I do with that?

I’m not sure I’m willing to let things calm down enough to give myself breathing room to contemplate it. I need to keep moving forward, even if it’s millimeter by millimeter, rather than by leaps and bounds. I’m not willing to come to a standstill (which I sort of feel I’m at now), or, worse, move backwards.

Which is why I do feel like I need to keep blogging–to keep my brain active, and not let myself fall behind.

Maybe it won’t make a lick of difference, but for now, I need that accountability.

And, it may not hurt to have a place to vent.

Until next time,

How High Can You Jump?

So, things are moving a little faster than anticipated.  Last week, I stated we hoped to go out of town soon for my son’s treatment. Within TWO HOURS of posting last week’s blog, I had a call from the hospital. “Can you come see us next week?”

Next WEEK? Are you KIDDING ME? Do you realize we live 2,000 miles away????

It’s really amazing how things can come together in just a few days with less than 10 days warning. People have stepped up to help us out, which has been the biggest blessing of all. I’ve been truly stunned and humbled by the assistance we’ve received. It’s made a stressful time less-so.

Photo by Vox EFX

I’m a little anxious about the trip… mostly because I’ve read too many horror stories about the TSA, so the thought of going through security with 2 strong-willed kids, and a headstrong momma (me), I’m a bit afraid something will happen that will make the news.

Seeing the doctors, being on the plane, that doesn’t bother me. Being subjected to something that in my mind is a direct violation of my 4th Amendment rights (that’s the one about illegal search and seizures, folks) puts me on edge. Heck, with my background, I should be scared of being on an airplane. My dad has worked for one of the airplane manufacturers for most of my life in the department that fixes crashed airplanes, so I’ve seen more crash photos than the average person. (I am also more than aware that the most dangerous place for a plane is on the ground–not in the air. More damage is done by stupid ground people than pilots that have been drinking too much. Maybe sometime, I’ll tell you my favorite story that my dad repeated to me, about a “crash” on the ground…)

Really, I’m glad that we’re going out now rather than later. Waiting makes me nervous. But, it does make me concerned that they felt so strongly about his case that they felt the need to get us in this soon. Maybe it’s not as serious as I’m fearing, maybe they’re just being pro-active. (Please, please, please let this be the case!) Still, I’ll be glad when we’re back on the ground in good ol’ Kansas City…

Until next time,

Liberty

P.S.: I’ve received a lot of questions about how people can support us during this time. Prayers are always welcome! But, additionally, if you’re between 18 & 44 and in generally good health, you can get tested to become a potential donor. Search for a donor drive at this link, request a test kit here, and maybe even consider hosting a donor drive! Marrow.org has additional information, just surf the site and see what’s there! Also, if you know a woman about to have a baby, urge her to donate her umbilical cord blood for use in transplants (and for research.) — LS

Two Years… and Counting…

Two years ago, my house was blessed to have the most precious (and I’m not biased in any way) little boy come into our home. His labor and delivery were brief (2 hours of labor, 3 minutes for delivery).

And when I saw him for the first time, I was stunned he was a boy (I’d really thought we were having a girl.) But, I thought he was perfect in every way.

I still cling to that thought every now and then. Now, I know he’s not perfect (he’s got the ornery streak to prove it!) And, I know he’ll never be the same as other little boys–not just because God made him different, but because of what’s different about him at a cellular level.

When I was growing up, I can’t remember having birthday parties. Sure, I had a girlfriend over most every birthday, or went to spend the week of my birthday (which strangely almost always fell over spring break) at my grandparent’s house in the Ozark’s of Missouri. But, I never really had parties that I can remember.

Alexander

With Alexander, we don’t know how many years we’re going to get with him. He may grow up, have a family, and get to raise his own children, see his grandchildren.

I pray this is the case.

But, I also am all too aware that every birthday he has may be his last one. And, as a mother, this chokes me up. As I’m writing this, I’m crying, even though I can hear him and his sister in the next room, playing.

You see, his condition, Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS), puts him at a high risk of developing leukemia. I’ve talked about that before. Right now, until he has his next biopsy next month, we know he’s at an even more elevated risk.

And, should it come to it, and he requires a bone marrow transplant, I know he’s got but a 50/50 shot. We saw it with another SDS family just in the last few weeks. Their son had a transplant, and sadly passed away a few days later. He wasn’t much older than our little guy.

It scares me, more than I thought anything ever could.

So, on Saturday over the weekend, Alexander turned two. And, we celebrated, as we expect we’ll be doing not just with him next year, but with his older sister when she turns four in October.

While both of them can drive me nuts, and some days I wonder if it’s really worth it, something in the back of my mind reminds me that all of our days are numbered. Only God knows how many days we get. And even though writing my stories are important to me, blogging and social networking are fun and even important tools as I try to get the engine going on my writing career, there’s things more important.

Until next time,

Liberty

P.S. — I should have mentioned this when it posted, but I guest blogged over on Linda Yezak‘s site about 10 days ago. Should you get a chance, go check it out.

Gifts of the Heart

Merry Christmas, a day late! Or, as our friends across the pond may say today, Happy Boxing Day!

I hope you’ve had a most blessed Christmas… and managed not to kill any of your family. 😉 Or is it just me that struggles with those feelings sometimes? (tee hee hee, just kidding!)

Today is my regularly scheduled post for the ChristianWriters.com blog chain, and to be honest, the topic (Gifts of the Heart) kind of has me stumped. But, I shall charge on!

When I read the topic (admittedly, about 5 minutes before I started writing this post), I thought, huh.

So, rather than do a traditional post, I think I’ll leave you with a few pictures of some of the things that warm my heart. I hope you’ll find them as endearing as I do.

Obviously, these are my kids… and my dog. 🙂 I’d put TMOTH’s picture up, but I’m not sure if he’d be okay with it. 
So, my family is my gift of the heart… I hope you can say the same for yours!
In a little sidenote, I want to give a brief update on our son’s health. Last week, we thought everything was going well, and then we went in to see his dermatologist, who, on a whim, ordered some blood work. Our guy has been sick most of the time since Thanksgiving, and when they ran his hemoglobin, it was 6.3. Normal is between 12 and 18, so he’s exceptionally anemic right now. We have his blood retested tomorrow, and his hematologist (blood doctor) is watching this closely. We’ve managed to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas without being admitted–and seeing as those were both spent at the hospital in 2010, this is a great thing. Hopefully, we’ll make it through the remainder of 2011 without being admitted again! (Now, if we can make it through cold and flu season…) 
If everything is okay, I guess you’ll hear from me next in 2012… wow, can it really nearly be 2012? It barely seems like I was getting a handle on 2011! If for some reason things aren’t as good as we hoped, I’ll try to post a short update on Tuesday or Wednesday. 
(But I’m hoping it’ll be 2012 before you hear from me again!)
Happy New Year!
Until next time,
Liberty

Christmas Isn’t What It Used To Be

Photo by DreAminginDigITal via DeviantArt.

I’m finding it harder as an adult to get into the Christmas spirit than it was when I was a kid. As a child, I couldn’t wait to decorate the tree, start playing Christmas tunes, and of course there was Christmas morning. I have vivid memories of mornings where my parents had artfully arranged the gifts around the tree the night before. Every Christmas morning was magical.

Now, with divorced parents plus in-laws who want to see us, Christmas is, quite honestly, an energy drainer for me. I actually have begun to loathe the holiday season because it means that I don’t get recharged and get through it feeling more exhausted than before.

I’ve tried to explain this to TMOTH (The Man of The House), but I’m not sure he really gets it. And while I understand his wanting to see family, I’m getting to be of the opinion that that’s what family reunions are for. It’s a drain to watch people open gifts, gorge themselves on too much food, and spend too little time honoring what the season is really supposed to be about: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Maybe that’s why the season is such a problem for me: we’re focused on the wrong things. Instead of attending a church service together, we gorge ourselves on turkey with the trimmings. Of course none of us visit each others churches since none of us can agree on a church. (My church tends to close down for Christmas anyway, so there are Christmas Eve services–on three nights no less!–but nothing Christmas day.)

This year, let’s try not to be so focused on having the “perfect” dinner, or finding the “perfect” gift for someone. In these rough economic times, it’s best not to feel the added pressure that the season creates anyway. I know my own Christmas giving will be leaner this year. Focus instead on your immediate family. Be thankful–and express it!–to God for sending us His Son. Make a tradition you want to continue in your life. The pastor of my church, after the gift exchange, has a tradition of putting a discarded bow on his head, sitting under the tree, and reflecting on what God has given him as well as what he can give to God. Maybe that’s something you could do as well.

I wish you the happiest of Christmases. I pray you find how truly blessed you are, regardless of how abundant or lean this year may be for you.

Please enjoy this Christmas tune. It’s one of my favorites.

Until next time,