it’s like picking a favorite child

Everyone has a few.

Well, my first was out of my control. I was shipped UPS-style at the age of six months, traveling internationally to meet my new family.

I still wonder if I should tattoo a bar code on the bottom of my foot with the words “Made In Korea” on the other.

Fun Fact: All photos of my airport arrival had a gift shop in the background. The top of each photograph said, “Tax and Duty Free.”  My mother claims this was a major false advertisement on the adoption agency’s part, and demands a refund from them.  If I can find the photo, I’ll post it.

Another was betting on my future by not applying to the UW.

Besides, as a very strong, high B-average student, I doubt my GPA would have gotten me in.

Letting go of the past and opening my heart to Pilot.

One of the best decisions ever.  I finally have someone who will attend hockey games with me and thinks my ridiculousness is “cute.” I would prefer he had said something more along the lines of “genius,” “trendsetting,” or “Pulitzer-worthy,” but hey, you can only ask for so much, right?

The night my dad passed away.

I can only hope that I bring a small amount of happiness to my mom, even though I know I’ll never be enough to fill that loss.

Being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

I’m not going to compare my lame-ass experience with those of true cancer survivors. Mine was caught very early, thanks to a great doc and new technology. I am in no way a cancer survivor. Cancer survivors are true heroes with more courage than I can imagine. I was… grazed (?) by cancer, if that makes any sense.

The day I said “Really?”  (That’s a story for another day.)

And, my absolute favorite day, and each day since then, was the day I said “I do.” (Also a story for another day.)

Aww… More sappy moments.  Are you sick of me yet?

I’ll warn you. Pilot and I are the smoochy “Bewitched”-like couple. The Samantha and Darren Stevens couple who makes everyone else want to hurl.  (Except the baby talk. I can’t stand people who “baby talk” each other. I don’t even “baby talk” babies.  Their brains are like sponges, they absorb everything. Do I really want to be responsible for the person who thinks “ga ga goo goo” is a phrase? Bitch, please.)

These are moments that not only tested me, they made me surprise myself and others.  Included in these experiences is the day I began this blog and made a dedication to myself and to you, my very precious viewers, that I would write and do everything (morally and legally) within my power to become a good, succesful, multiple-times-over published author.

What were some of your most defining moments?  The ones that pivoted your life in a new direction? How did they change you? Was it worth the change?

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 19: Today is a day that will change your characters life forever. What course of events occurs? How does your character react? Write a scene from this day.

I’m so sick of waiting…

This is terrifying…

I’m so excited…

Each of these thoughts simultaneously ran through her mind as she tapped her fingernails on oak dining room table.

“All right, honey. I have the suitcase in the car, and we’re ready to go.” Oliver stepped through archway, anticipation twinkled in his eyes.

Sylvie pushed herself up from her chair and he guided her to their sedan.  Well, here goes nothing, she thought.

As they drove down I-5, she watched the buildings sweep past her window.  In a soft voice, Oliver turned briefly to look at her.  “Now, honey everything is going to be fine,” as slipped his hand in hers.

“I know. I just don’t know what’s going to happen.  We’re as prepared as we can be, but…” she looked down at her protruding stomach.  “I’m scared.”

“Oh Sylvie, don’t worry. I’m going to be right there with you.”

At 8:03 am, Pacific Time, Sylvie was induced.

~~~

Seven hours, forty-nine minutes and eleven, now twelve, seconds later…

~~~ 

“It’s not a baby, it’s a damn elephant!” Sylvie screamed.  “Give me the epidural! I want the epidural!”

“Just two more pushes, honey!  You can do it, Sylvie!  Just breathe!”  Oliver was a pillar of calm and she wanted to deck him straight into the New Year.  Focus.  Focus on your breathing. Sylvie bit down and breathed as slowly as she could though her teeth.

“Hoo-hoo! Hee!”

She wanted to boil whoever insisted she not use painkillers. Oh wait, she convinced herself of that.  Natural is best, my ass, she thought. But her thoughts vanished as quickly as they appeared when another wave of pain shot through her body, causing her back to go into spasms unlike anything she had ever experienced before.

“It’s ok, Sylvie! You’re doing great!  Now push! Push!

“I can’t!” she cried, squeezing her eyes shut.  “I can’t do this anymore! Make it stop. Oh god, make it stop!”

“Just one more push, Sylvie. You can do it,” Dr. Gustafson said encouragingly.

“Sylvie, look at me!”Oliver’s voice drifted through the waves of pain that were drowning her.

She opened eyes.  Oliver’s deep brown eyes were full of determination, compassion and love as he held her gaze.

“Honey, I love you. I’ve loved you since the day you threw that Frisbee at my face and knocked out my tooth-”  Breathe. Keep breathing.

“One more push,” Dr. Gustafson ordered.  Sylvie pushed with all of the strength she had left, which wasn’t much.

“-and I know you’re tired, and I know you want to give up, but I won’t let you.” Oliver continued to look into her eyes.  “You’re the woman who never gave up on anything. You’re a fighter! You’ve never let me win anything without a fight,-”

Sylvie screamed as the pain consumed her.  Sweat was blending with her tears now, dripping down her face.

“I can see the head,” Dr. Gustafson commanded.  “Keep pushing, Sylvie! Just one more!”

“-and I know you’re going to fight for our baby!  Don’t you want to meet our baby?”

She barely stopped herself from biting straight through her lip.

“So I know that you’re going to do this Sylvie! You’re going to push because I know you love our baby as much as I love you!”  A searing white light blinded her, tearing her in half.

Silence.

A cry pierced the air.

Sylvie slumped back against the pillow, sobbing.

“It’s a healthy baby girl!” Dr. Gustafson announced as he handed the tiny pink blob to the nurse.

“You did it, honey!” Oliver whispered as tears ran down his face.  He silenced her crying as he possessed her mouth firmly.  “She’s beautiful, Sylvie. She’s beautiful, just like you.”

The nurse handed Sylvie the tiny, crying blob, wrapped in a soft blanket and already wearing a little pink hat that was too big and came to a point at the tip.

“Oh,” Sylvie whispered.  “Oh my god.” Her breath caught in her throat as she looked down at the tiny face, the tiny hands and feet.  Ten little fingers. Ten little toes.

Sylvie barely heard Dr. Gustafson congratulating her Oliver.  All the noise and memory of the pain faded wayside as she looked at the face of the miniscule person screaming in her arms.

She looked wide-eyed up at Oliver.  “You’re a daddy, Ollie.”  He brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes.  A warm glow settled on both of them as he beamed at her.

“So what should we call her?” he asked softly, as he kissed the baby’s head.

“Perfect,” she whispered.

“No,” Oliver chuckled softly.  He kissed her again.  “That’s you.”

never forgot, never will

Silence.

The phone rings. I wake up and answer in the middle of the second ring. It’s my mother announcing that the Twin Towers in New York had been hit by a hijacked plane.  After turning on the television to see what was going on, I witness a second plane flying low. Way too low. It crashes into the second tower.  I see people jumping to their deaths because it was better than burning alive.

It was my senior year of high school, just starting out my last year before entering adulthood. The first thought I had? “I need to find Yak.” If the nickname sounds odd, it was a high school nickname and she was OK with it. One of her favorite sweaters that she wore almost all the time was made out of yak fur, hence the nickname.

School.  Get to school.  The staff might be trying to track where students are.

I got ready for school and drove my car, Bob as quickly as possible. My concern for my friend was number one. I remember searching for her at the school.  She wasn’t there. I remember calling her. My heartbeat pounding in my eardrums. Waiting for those four words. Praying to hear those four words versus the alternative. I heard her pick up the phone.

“I’m ok… He’s ok.”

Relief comes swiftly, briefly. “Oh, thank, God.” I briefly closed my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose.

Hearing the assurance in her voice and the finality of her statement partially soothed the ache from the morning’s events. The one good thing from that day was that her family was ok. Yak’s brother had recently moved to New York just before 9/11.  My fear was she had lost someone she cared about, and I wouldn’t know how to be there for her.  They were one of the lucky ones.  Any relief was short-lived after closing the fear on her potential loss, and focusing on the rest of the victims.

Every member of the academic institution was gathered in a common area watching the news live. Teachers, students, administration…

Here was this gathering, a space crammed full of people to the point of standing room only, our entire high school population grouped together. Afraid to leave because… Well, what else was there to do?  We couldn’t talk. We couldn’t move.  All we could do was watch.  The only sound being made were the muted voices coming from the television tuned to the news.

What do I remember?  I remember the silence.

We weren’t a school that morning. It didn’t matter if you were old, young, senior, freshman, popular, nerdy, band geek, jock, cheerleader, goth, white, black, rich, poor, purple, striped or polka-dotted.  For that horrible moment, we were just people. Attempting to come to grips with the thousands of people who had just lost their lives. To the thousands of survivors who would have to bear a burden no person should, guilt for surviving. To the families and friends of the lost who were dealing with suffering, confusion, anger and utter devastation.

No, not even now. I cannot comprehend their ability to move forward. It’s a courage I’m unsure I’m capable of having.

Earlier today I re-read a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Jonathan Fields. Maybe I’ve seen him, maybe not.  He was there. This happened in his own backyard, his wife and child at home, nearby. Perhaps any of us caught a glimpse of him in the background on the news.

Jonathan’s story is haunting. He expressed an experience I will never fully understand.  I’m not sure anyone fully understands it.  Please read his story, because he represents the voice of those still here and of those who are gone. Read his story because his and the voice he represents deserved to be listened to.

So what’s the point of this post?  I don’t know, you tell me. I have no clue.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that being a lifetime member of the West Coast, it was difficult for citizens on this side of the States to fully comprehend with what had happened. In my opinion, I believe there was a delay. A temporary dulling of the senses for those of us trying to connect with what was happening to our citizen brethren on the other side of our country.  It may sound harsh, but I believe it’s true.  What do you think?  I don’t know.

I just know I’ll never forget.

sharing the wealth, spreading the love

Ok, so I’m a big freaking coward.

Today I did it.

Yesterday, after posting my third blog entry, I hesitated.

If you haven’t noticed, I tend to be scared shitless. A lot. I guess that’s what happens when a facet of you is so personal, and yet not widely accepted as “Ok.” After saying I was going to share this with the world, I didn’t. Today, I had the bravery to move forward with opening my so-called ‘dark side’ to my friends and (some) family, along with fellow writers I’ve been fortunate to meet in my life (whether they were former classmates or favorite authors).

I have been a member of the RWA and GSRWA for over a year now. For those not familiar with the initialisms above, they are the Romance Writers of America and the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America, the (if you haven’t already guessed) Greater Seattle chapter of the group.

To show that there is a business side to this type of writing, and to prove it’s not just a fleeting, romantic notion, (pun? Get it? Too soon?), I suggest educating yourself with some cold hard math from the RWA’s website.  Or, as one of my all-time favorite romance writers, Katie MacAlister would say, “I point out that romances comprise over half of the mass market paperback market, and that what’s good enough for authors like Nora Roberts and Janet Evanovitch is good enough for me. And then I smile. Knowingly.

Review the stats, let me know what you think. Did you find anything surprising?

Also, consider all of those romantic comedies or romantic dramas you watch. I’ll bet you several, if not most, of them were based on a novel. Look at Nicholas Sparks. He’s made a living writing romance, and most have been turned into mass-marketed films. I’ll bet you’ve even seen one. The Notebook or A Walk To Remember, anyone?

What are some of your favorite romantic films?

My ultimate favorite romantic film is “Sabrina” with Harrison Ford. Mmm Harrison Ford. Yummy. Although I have a soft spot for Bogey and have a huge respect for Audrey Hepburn, the modernized version had music and scenery to die for.

Even if my blog isn’t your cup of tea, I wanted to share some of my favorite websites, blogs and forums that I frequent. Not (completely) on a daily basis.  Ok, maybe daily.

  1. Romance the Genres
  2. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
  3. Romantic Geek Girl
  4. Book Chic City

These are real people, with real lives, all sharing a common interest. Like cooking or knitting. Ok, way sexier and hotter than cooking or knitting, but I’m sure in one of my future novels I’ll find a way to make those entertainingly sexy.

And below to stretch my literary mind:

Daily Writing Challenge

Day 3: Think about the character you created for Day 2. Write their seven-word biography.

 What happens when you live life twice?

and so it begins…

What the heck have I gotten myself into, now?

This is exactly what is going through my mind at this exact moment.

I have a love/hate relationship with myself. I love to give myself frank, honest tough-love to ensure I continue to grow as a person. (Ok, and also to keep from becoming too boring.)  And, typically, I hate going through every minute of it.

Allow me to explain:

Every so often, I give myself an enormously-heaving shove outside of my comfort zone.

As a child, it was facing my fear of heights to jump off of the high dive at the local pool. (I’m still ridiculously terrified of heights, but at least I did it.)  As a guarded, semi-nerdy college student, it was the decision to make new friends with a more open, positive attitude. (The first person I met was moments after making this attitude-adjustment decision. He is now my husband.)

And now as I gently drop-kick myself out of the bliss-bubble, I’m committing myself to this and forcing myself to put IT out there. For all of the internet masses to see. The highs, the lows, the real, the fictitious.

I just can’t keep it to myself anymore. Not if I have a snowball’s chance in Old Scratch’s homestead of being successful.

“IT” being the need to write. To breathe life into characters. To share a story. (Ok, and to sometimes commentate on my daily screw ups in hopes of learning from them.)

This is acting as the spark to my creative outlet in hopes of accomplishing my dream of being a successful romance novelist.

So join me as I flail out of the bird’s nest. Take a few minutes to read and have a laugh, as I try to grasp life’s lessons, even if I hit every branch on the way down.  Go ahead, pour yourself a glass of your favorite relaxation beverage of choice.

I’ll wait.