Tough Decisions and Being Okay with Them

When my life took a horrible, unexpected turn seven weeks ago, I knew it would be changed forever—I now only have one kid to raise, instead of two, after all. One child onto which to pin all my hopes and dreams and fears. And of course the fears are exasperated, while I desperately work to keep the hopes and dreams in check. This is her life, not mine, no matter how much I would like to tell her exactly how I want it to turn out.

What I didn’t expect was quite how changed it would be. There are so many little things that otherwise would have gone completely unnoticed. There is far less laundry to wash and we run the dishwasher less often. We make smaller meals. The house doesn’t get messy quite as quickly as it once did. There are no arguments over what to watch when we have Family Movie Night.

The trip from Detroit to Dallas, when we went on vacation a few weeks ago, was a breeze. We hardly stopped, and there were no cries from the backseat: “Stay on your side.” “Stop touching me.” “No, I don’t want to share that [insert anything here].” And the one every parent loathes… “Are we there yet?” My daughter was far more fascinated with crossing state lines than she was in the final destination.

There are negative small, unexpected changes, as well. Who the hell is going to mow my lawn? Or snow blow my driveway next winter? My daughter believes emptying the dishwasher is torture, and now she has to do it every single time. She doesn’t understand why she cannot stay home alone, and half those snacks in the snack drawer need to be given away to someone, because she’s never going to eat them. Grocery shopping is more of a chore than ever, because I have to figure out what the hell my daughter likes to eat. My son ate anything, so I didn’t have to put much thought into snacks and breakfast food.

And then there are the big ones. While purchasing a cemetery plot for my son, my husband and I purchased the one right next door for ourselves, and selected the engraving for the headstone, too. Afterward, we joked that this was more permanent than getting married.

There have been some big changes in my writing life, too. I’ve hardly done much writing, partially due to grieving-inducing writer’s block and partially because I have little time to dedicate to it these days. We’re constantly busy, which is by design, as idle minds think about things they’d rather not dwell on. I’ve also taken a hiatus from editing. I’m not sure when I’ll get back to it, and that’s okay. Initially, I felt this overwhelming need to rush everything along, as if that would somehow rush along the healing process, too. But I’ve recently realized that isn’t going to happen, so it’s okay to slow down everything else, too.

Another big change—probably the biggest, as it pertains to writing—is I’ve backed out of attending the A Weekend With Authors event, which is scheduled for May 13-15 in Nashville, Tennessee. I was supposed to be one of the featured authors.

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For two weeks I struggled with this decision. I tried giving myself mental pep talks; convincing myself it will be fun (I have no doubt it will be). But the scary reality is: I still cry at the drop of a hat, with no forewarning. As those crying jags have (finally) become less frequent, they also have become more potent, more of an ugly cry each time, instead of tears simply leaking from my eyes nearly every moment of every day.

I’m also afraid to go on long trips by myself right now, where I will be alone with my own thoughts for hours on end. I hate crying in front of anyone, let alone strangers. I don’t mind being the center of attention, but only when that attention is positive. Having everyone focus on me because of my uncontrolled grief is not my idea of a good time.

So I made the difficult decision to cancel. I’m just not ready. I can hide behind my keyboard and usually put on a brave face—sometimes even cheerful and/or funny face—but I am afraid I cannot do it in person. Not yet. I will get there, I know. As a dear friend pointed out to me, it is not in my nature to be miserable. Eventually, the good days will far outweigh the bad ones. But right now, that isn’t the case, and this convention is only a week and a half away, and I know that is not enough time to find my former self again—or at least some semblance of who I once was.

I’m sorry I will miss it. I know it will be a fabulous event, and I fully expect to, at least on some level, regret my decision not to go. But right now I feel only relief that I do not have to try to do something I’m not ready to do yet.

And that’s okay.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is an author, wine drinker, writer of happily ever afters, and sometimes depressing blog posts. Despite the blog posts, there are still plenty of happily ever afters over on her website, www.tamilund.com.

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Musings of a Ghostaholic

 

ghost-1299358_640I’m addicted to Ghost Adventures. I’m a die-hard fan of the late, great Barbara Michaels. I love Stephen King. But if a ghost-hunting group right now, today, offered to take me with them on an official “ghost hunt,” would I go? Even if it was Zak Bagans himself?

No way.

Could I stay the night in a place like The Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining”?

Not on your life.

My true confession: I may write ghost stories, but I’m a big chicken.

So why do I write ghost stories? Several reasons. First, I truly, deeply believe in ghosts and trapped spirits. My religious upbringing firmly implanted the notion of Purgatory in my brain: that no-man’s land, a place where souls are held in limbo until they finish whatever business they didn’t complete in life. Or make amends for whatever wrongs are keeping them from crossing over to the next realm. The holding tank for spirits who don’t yet know they’re dead.

Paranormal phenomena also fascinate me. I realize that more than half, maybe more of the “documented events” you see on the Internet and on television are fabricated. Photoshop is an amazing tool, though I don’t have the first clue how to use it. And people will do anything to bring attention to themselves, to shock and awe the public at large.

Being of a more scientifically oriented mind, I tend to explore those investigations that follow a tested and validated methodology. It’s why I took a course from The Rhine Institute of Parapsychology and earned my certificate in Paranormal Studies. The world of science does nod to the paranormal, folks, though they’re reluctant to admit it. If you don’t believe me, Google the Gansfeld Experiment, and how its results were published in a recognized scientific journal. Way back in the 1970s.haunted-house-1124241_640

There’s something there, something we don’t understand, and can’t explain. So much of the civilized world simply turns its head and makes believe the paranormal doesn’t exist. It isn’t real. It’s the fabrication of people who own Ouija boards and celebrate Wiccan holidays.

They say children and animals can see spirits of those passed. During a recent visit to The Ringling Museum in Sarasota with my daughter and three-year-old grandson, I believe we witnessed this phenomenon. After spending the entire day traipsing through the art museum and then across the spectacular grounds overlooking Tampa Bay, it was time to head out. Our boy was getting tired.

Strolling along beside us on the long walkway back, there were few other people about. The Monday timing, the heat of the mid-afternoon sun had sent them all scrambling to the air-conditioned confines of one of the buildings on site. Suddenly, my grandson stopped dead in his tracks, staring straight ahead along the path.

“What’s wrong, Eddie? What’s wrong?” My daughter freaked out immediately, never having seen him act this way. Not unless he was afraid, but then, he’d always run to her side and seek her protection.

Not this time.

He stood frozen, staring straight ahead, as if in a trance. After twenty seconds elapsed, we were both becoming concerned. Had the heat gotten to him? Was he experiencing some sort of seizure?

“What’s the matter, Eddie?” My daughter turned to me, carefully-contained panic in her eyes. “He sees something. What do you see, Eddie?”

That’s when the child lifted his arm, stiffly out from his shoulder, and pointed straight ahead down the path.

There was nothing there.

It was like a scene out of The Exorcist, or Poltergeist. The sight of this small child standing like a statue, frozen with his arm outstretched, sent chills down to my very soul. Yet he didn’t seem afraid. My daughter, just wanting the moment to go away, took him by the arm and tugged him forward.IMG_0422

“Come on, Eddie. You’re tired. It’s time to go.”

The boy took two or three steps, then planted his feet again. He raised his arm, again pointing toward something neither of us could see. Then a smile brightened his face, and he giggled. Whatever it was, it made him happy.

Do you believe in residual hauntings? Traces of highly emotional charged experiences we leave in certain places on this earth? I do. And call me crazy, but I truly believe that’s what my grandson was experiencing during his brief, puzzling episode on the grounds of the Ringling.

So I write ghost stories because I want to believe. I want to imagine that traces of not only traumatic events, but also emotionally wonderful experiences, leave imprints on places, regardless of time. I want to believe in the magic of those connections, which link us and bring us closer to one another in this life. Perhaps bridging us into the next.

But ghost hunting? Count me out. I’m still too much of a chicken.Ringling.statue

Claire Gem writes in a genre she calls The New Gothic: Romance with a ghostly twist. Her debut novel from SoulMate Publishing, Phantom Traces, is available in ebook, paperback, & audiobook. You can find out more about Claire’s work at her website.

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Vampire King of New York Place Tour by Susan Hanniford Crowley

Settings really lend themselves to romance.  In Vampire King of New York, the action happens in Manhattan mostly as that’s where the king lives when he is not in Iceland.

VampyreKingOfNewYork_higres (1)While certain places in the book are secret since vampires are like that, other places are public and you can visit them.  If I were to make a Vampire King of New York Place Tour, it would go like this.

1. The Tour would start in Battery Park near Max’s house and not far from the secret location of the Arnhem Society. Of course, we would not dare show you which townhouse is his but it’s there.

2. Next is the New York Public Library famed for the stone lions out front. This is where Evelyn Beaumont works. Max would hang out there vying for her attention. This library is at 5th Ave at 42nd St, New York, NY 10018.

3. The American Museum of Natural History located at Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, is where Max introduces Evelyn to Viking culture through a private showing of the Viking exhibition he arranged. Currently the exhibits have changed, but it is still one of the best museums in the world to visit. My personal favorite is the planetarium show. Max loves it too.

4. Next is an unusual museum with a medieval quality called The Cloisters. You can view as Max and Evelyn did “The Unicorn in Captivity” and then eat at the cafe. It’s located at 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040.

5. Next is Chinatown! There is so much to do, see, buy and eat in Chinatown. I can’t include it all.  Here is a link to a self-guiding tour. http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/things-to-see-in-chinatown-new-york-a-self-guided-tour/

6. We end our tour of Max’s Manhattan with a trip to The Statue of Liberty. While they won’t allow us walk on her head behind her crown as Max did, (shh, let’s not tell them about Max) it is still a wonder to visit. Here is the link for planning that trip off Manhattan Island for the statue: https://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm

Thank you for coming along with Max and me on the Vampire King of New York Place Tour. See you in New York!

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Vampire King of New York is available at
Amazon in Print and Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-King-Susan-Hanniford-Crowley-ebook/dp/B00D70NC6O

Barnes and Noble Print and Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vampire-king-of-new-york-susan-hanniford-crowley/1116839039

 

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Friday Feature Gail Ingis Indigo Sky

C.D. Hersh

Friday Feature

with

Indigo Sky

By

Gail Ingis

Log Line: A dream marriage becomes a trap of addiction, lies and women.

If that is not enough to get you interested then try this.

Blurb:

In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband. When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger—she learns hard lessons of murder, kidnapping and more that almost destroy her.

Amazon buy linkhttp://amzn.com/B015TCCKM4

Indigo Sky

Not enough then read a little.

Excerpt:

“I-I’m not sure.” She put a…

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Friday Feature Gail Ingis Indigo Sky

Friday Feature with Indigo Sky By Gail Ingis Log Line: A dream marriage becomes a trap of addiction, lies and women. If that is not enough to get you interested then try this. Blurb: In a whirlwind…

Source: Friday Feature Gail Ingis Indigo Sky

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Ambling Along With Amy

Good morning all! Today in going to talk about the ‘R’ word…

REVIEWS

We have all seen this right?

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And as authors, we are always striving for this:

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REVIEWS, REVIEW, REVIEWS….

Chances are that anyone reading this post has both bought and read books at some point in time. But the question is: Did you write a review once you finished that last delectable page?

In most cases, the answer word be no. In fact, nine times out of ten, the answer is no. But why is that?

Well, like everyone else, your time is probably limited. Between work and family, There never seems to be enough time in the day right? With everything going on in life, it’s easy to forget to leave a review.

But oh, those reviews are so very important. Why?

I’m so glad you asked. Here, let me explain.

Over 85% of all Amazon Kindle readers rely heavily on book reviews before making an online order to have the copy of the book.
The more positive reviews an author gets, the more it helps them pursue listings on promotional sites like Bookbub, which can boost sales into best-selling territory.

#1: Did you know that people are much more likely to vent online if they hate something than to post something nice if they enjoyed it? Yep. It’s sad but true. But what exactly does this mean?

Well, imagine that you have 100 people read a book and 98 love it but only the two who thought it was garbage post a review, guess what happens?
People who come across that book on a retailer’s site are going to think it’s garbage. They won’t know about the 98 people who thought it was a wonderful story. Those negative reviews could keep people who might enjoy the book from buying it and depriving the authors of sales.

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#2: The world is filled with competition. And authors know this. So we are always looking for good opportunities to get the word out about our books. Sometimes online advertising venues have requirements such as a certain number of positive reviews on retailer sites before they will even consider selling us an ad. The same is often true of book review sites, especially if those sites are popular and have a lot of clout among readers.

#3: And isn’t it true that a larger number of reviews, especially positive ones, helps books get seen on sites such as Amazon.com? Trust me, it is.

We authors have heard about the algorithms that determine which books pop up on things such as the “you might also enjoy this” suggestions. How do we get these suggestions?

Visibility.

Visibility is important in a marketplace flooded with books, so every little bit helps.

#4: More reviews get authors exposure to other book review sites, blogging communities, and book clubs.

#3: Word of mouth. If someone sees a positive review of a book and decides to give it a try, he or she might also enjoy it enough to not only leave a review but also tell their about it.

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Authors truly do appreciate the time and effort it takes readers to write and post reviews. We all know everyone’s time is every bit as valuable as ours.

But the good thing is it doesn’t take much to write a few lines about a book you read and even less time to “like” it.

Didn’t buy the book you just finished? No problem. You can even leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads without verification of purchase. This is super important for those who check-out books at the library or book swap with friends.

Leaving reviews or liking a review doesn’t cost you anything and it makes a huge difference to the reading and writing community.

Long story short: More sales, more review, equals higher ranking and exposure to more book buyers.

So please, of you have read a book lately and really enjoyed it, take a moment and post a review at one
of these sites:

**Amazon.com
**Barnes &Noble
**Faxebook
**Twitter
**Goodreads

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Marisa Makes Memories

“Tying the Knot”

It’s wedding season! No doubt you’ve been caught up in the excitement of a family member or friend’s matrimonial plans or maybe your dream walk down the aisle is only Wedding Blog Couplefew weeks away. Whether it’s conventional or contemporary, afternoon or evening, courthouse or church-based, traditions will abound.

And as there are many ways to get married, there are just as many to describe the act: getting hitched, biting the dust, dropping anchor, settling down, or the more archaic, plighting one’s troth. My favorite, however, is tying the knot, because it’s steeped with tradition and storytelling options.

For writers, a wedding ceremony is usually an eminent part of the story and the more we can anchor our fiction with detailed history, the better the opportunity we have to immerse the reader in our tale.

I hope by now you’ll be a little curious. Was a woman literTying the knot ribbonsally tied to a man before we had shotguns to make sure a wedding ceremony took place?

Of course she was! Even though a forced union might seem cruel and crude, history and fiction are full of the arranged marriages. Knots have been used in wed
ding ceremonies for centuries, beginning with the tradition of trying the wrists of bride and groom together with twine. Binding the hands of the couple in public
to symbolize vows is believed to be an ancient, Pagan practice used before Christianity.

And because marriage ceremonies are steeped with tradition, we can find practices of handfasting that date back to the time oHandfastingf the ancient Celts still being used today, even by the modern royals like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Derived from Old Norse, Hand-festa, means to strike a bargain by joining hands. The notion of a handshake comes from this tradition of a partnership. The original handfasting was described as a trial marriage, or like an engagement period, where two people would declare a binding union between themselves for a year and a day.

Tying the knot is also a tradition also associated with the marriage bed. For it took a series of knots of strung together to create a netting that would support a mattress. But of course, that was before the introduction of metal bed frames.

Something borrowed, something blue? A seventeenth century resource, The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, details how blue, knotted ribbons where stitched loosely onto the bride’s wedding gown so the guests could pluck them off at the wedding fest, then wear them as good luck charms.

But most importantly, the idea of a knot in many cultures symbolized lasting unity and unbreakable pledges. And isn’t that what most of romance stories are all about? Getting to the HEA, where the hero and heroine can plight their troth. Cheers to tying the knot!DillonM21 Revized Small

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