So This is Life, Now

I just got off the phone with a lovely board member of one of the organizations that wanted an author panel, and they are so looking forward to our trio of authors speaking, she said, but it will be half-in-person, and half-virtual.

This is life, now.

I am glad there is no longer full-on virtual. That’s something, at least! It’s been a challenging year, and looks to be a challenging 2021 as well, but there are pockets of hope springing up here and there. My azaleas are blooming, I planted three camellias and a hydrangea this spring and they are thriving (good sign – they haven’t died), and folks are starting to breathe again. Well, as much breathing as you can do through a mask. These are coming off with regularity, though, I’ve noticed.

In spite of all this, my book, The Deadening, was released late February, and so far, I’ve had wonderful, five-star reviews and so much support I am blown away. People are loving my book! Isn’t it funny that authors tend to think they can’t write a darn thing anyone will want to read, and when they do, they are surprised. It’s true. We’re all like that.

To my delight, my local Barnes&Noble decided to carry the book, so all those folks who would really rather buy their books at a bookstore now have that option. Hilton Head Island’s full-time residents mourned when the B&N closed for COVID, and rejoiced when it opened, me included.

The forever stamp on our citizens of this twilight zone existence we’ve endured for almost 15 months will be a legacy of half-virtual mixed with half-in-person. Can’t you just see it? Mom ‘n Pops have closed all over the country, and many employers realized that ZOOM and other meeting apps make showing up to the workplace obsolete. Professional casual is now ‘professional above the waist only’ thanks to technology. (Just don’t get out of your seat).

It has become routine to see my husband in a dress shirt above the waist, and sweat pants below as he’s rushing to another virtual meeting. I wonder how this has affected our shopping? Amazon has seen the biggest boom ever, but copycats are springing up, and they have significant competition now. Already I’m a more zealous virtual shopper, but I get desperate for some human interaction and in a fit of virtual-shopping rebellion, I dash out the door for groceries, but I’m resentful that I have to throw on more presentable clothing and put on makeup. This virtual thing has made me less willing to get all dolled up. For anything.

Half-virtual, half-in-person. This is life, now.

As human beings, we are made to enjoy and fluorish in relationships. No matter what anybody tries to tell me, I’m better when I’m relating to people…in person. I don’t want to learn to do life with a half-virtual mindset. But that’s just me. In the meantime, I’m enjoying awesome reviews like this one in spite of the bizarre alien atmosphere that has become our society:

“Woohoo!!!! This book blew me away! You know when you read a book and it is soo good that every book you read for the next few months just can’t compareโ€ฆ yeah – this was that book for me!

OK I have to admit, I have a thing for books about memory loss. I have no idea why?? Maybe in a previous lifetime I had amnesia? This one was done so well. The parts when she started to remember things, it just felt so real.

Excellent character development! I loved Olivia. I thought her character was spot on and very believable. The beginning of this book!! Oh my gosh, I was totally riveted! I could not tear myself away, even with tears flowing down my face! I don’t want to give away the story butโ€ฆ when she goes home to be with her mom and daughters even though she can’t remember who they are! ๐Ÿ˜ข Heartbreaking! I also loved her mom and the daughters. I thought they were great through the whole thing.

Perfect ending that will blow your mind!

Waitโ€ฆ The first in a series??!! Sign me up for more! Can’t wait to read more by this “new to me” author!

โ€œThe Deadeningโ€ all snuggled up beside other local Lowcountry authors. ๐ŸŒด๐Ÿ˜Ž

Other interesting things have happened in the absence of in-person launch events…Iโ€™ve been forced to discover new technology. This is my absolute favorite:

Click here for a surprise!

See? This is called a Link Tree for obvious reasons, and disposes of the sad task of posting separate links for every, single site I am attached to. These kinds of discoveries are one of the primary purposes of adult children – to educate Mom and Dad about astute and useful advances in technology.

๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ˜Œ

In spite of the virtual, my book seems to be fluorishing, and my sequel as well. I’m 35,000 words in, just sent it off to my wonderful, patient editor for her comments, and life is good. I have a #PartnersinCrimeVBT blog tour in progress – shout out to Cheryl Mash – three more major events scheduled to acquaint readers with “The Deadening,” and another 45,000-50,000 words to get down. Plus, I have the great unmasking to look forward to.

Re-learning how to meet in person and dress like I am civilized is going to be a challenge – but I’m equal to the task.

Onward. Through the fog!

How Much is Too Much?

I often add kids into my stories, and I guess it’s because in spite of the fact that mine are all grown now, there are still issues. I use these issues all the time in relationships in my books. I weave in situations that we’ve gone through before that they may not even remember, but have left a mark on me.

It’s not true, that rumor floating around that empty nesting is a real thing. They never leave home, not really. Not that I mind, quite the contrary, I love having them around. Except when those pesky issues pop up and remind me how human we are, how prone to hurt and offense; how weak and insensitive we can be when expressing ourselves to those that really matter.

My two daughters and their babies

It’s so easy, isn’t it, to enjoy those fleeting partnerships we run across in life, be it peer groups or social clubs or Bible studies or church attendees or professional colleagues. We can chat and talk about surface things, smile and laugh, and enjoy ourselves, then leave. Poof. Light, airy, effortless, most of the time. We pretend that we are really close with these people; have deep relationships with them, but we don’t. Deep applies to the family relationships that grow and change over years, decades, lifetimes. These relationships take gut level honesty, a crap-ton of prayer, an ability to forgive, a desire to stop resentment in its tracks, and take a stand. To know, intimately, that the relationship will change and grow, and this is messy and often results in a breach if not managed in love and kindness.

But what I want to know is…how much is too much?

When is it time to stop offering sage wisdom and parental advice?

When is it time to stop offering love and counsel as only a parent can?

Is it ever time to stop wanting to protect? To help a grown kid avoid a pothole so big and so wide that it could have ripple effects over his or her entire life?

Me with two of my kids and my husband at my book launch party in February!
My son and his kids

I’m struggling with these questions right now. My parents were the hands-off variety. Not much meaningful interaction whatsoever… but they were great in the arena of financial support, and their marriage lasted (which is wonderful) but as far as relationship…including much- needed instruction about things like right and wrong….pretty much non-existent. I heard over and over, “you’ll figure it out.” Um, no. I didn’t. Until I’d gone through so many emotionally muddy situations that I finally joined a group that helped me understand my weirdness. My interesting reactions to situations. My crazy fear that something awful was going to happen. These kinds of filters mess us up on many levels.

So, due to this background, I suppose; I’m willing to risk rejection from my grown children in order for them to have information that is an option to choices they make that I feel could be damaging. I’m very big on prevention. But, I’ve found, over time, that this is intrusive and counter-productive to our relationship. I think the cut-off is about 35 for instruction and direction. After that, it appears a parent is just being judgmental. Selfish. Prideful. Many other adjectives that have been batted around that I won’t mention. (Parents of grown-ups, do I see you nodding your heads out there? Thought so.)

So how much is too much?

When is it ever time to stop caring, stop investing, stop growing in relationship, stop doing life together? There are often differences of opinions and lifestyles and politics, ad infinitum. When one or both parties stop listening and start accusing, it’s often a slide into a place from which there is no turning back. Lines are drawn. Teeth are bared. Stubbornness drives a stake in the sand. This is when deep…gets hard. This is when decisions must be made…our own way? Or love? Being right? Or learning from each other’s differences and personality quirks and moving on?

So how much is too little?

How much is too little caring, too little loving, too little mentoring? How much is too little relating to each other, too little kindness, too little gentleness, too little believing the best of each other? Is there a beautiful middle ground where offenses and insults and resentments can be thrown off? Where healing and reconciliation take the place of stubborness and pride?

I think there is.

I’m not sure where, but it’s there somewhere. I’m determined to find it.

Got Inspiration?

So, today, the Level Best Authors promotion group I’m a part of had their first joint post on a host blog. The question we all answered was ‘where do you get your inspiration and idea for the story?’ The short answer is, all over the place!

99.9% of the time, my inspiration comes from someone who has related an experience so engaging and intriguing that it has to have a place somewhere in my book. Or in the case of my latest book, a conversation with a stranger led to the entire story! Read about it here. We are so often afraid of approaching others, or taking deep dives in conversation with people we don’t know very well, aren’t we? Perhaps even more so now that the masking has occurred. I’m hoping hugs and deep-seated conversations will resume once we return to an unmasked society, but in the meantime it’s a bit harder to ferret out inspiration as an author, because gatherings have become distanced. Both physically and emotionally.

People are so interesting, and have so many stories. And in the current climate in America, I would assume there’s a lot of loneliness and longing for connection. Even though it feels alien and awkward, I appreciate the technology that allows us to stay in touch or have events and meetings in spite of the distancing required in person. I now have roughly three ZOOM events or calls a week, and more on the horizon. I’m pretty comfortable with the technology now, but I’m wondering if this is a precursor of what our society as a whole is embracing in the future? It is a scary prospect to me.

Give me a good, lively conversation with someone new and I’ll leave with four or five ideas for characters or stories or scenes. But sadly, our deep conversations are muted at present, and we must slog through this ‘new normal’ with resolve and hope. Americans are not ones to live their lives behind masks, and I trust that, like most viruses, this one will recede and we can tiptoe back to those interesting conversations and friendly smiles. In person.

To read our joint posts about idea inspiration for authors on ‘The Wickeds’ blog, click here.

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Pre-order my latest book, The Deadening, here. Available on Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop, B&N.com

Olivia Callahanโ€™s quiet, orderly life is shattered when she regains consciousness in a hospital and discovers she is paralyzed and cannot remember a thing. The fragmented voices she hears around her help her piece together that an apparent assault landed her in the hospital, but nobody knows who attacked her, or why. After a chilling struggle to survive, she awakens from a coma unable to remember what happened to her or anything at all, except she has been told she is an entirely different person. Or is she?
         Now, in spite of a brain injury that has rewired her personality, Olivia is on a mission to reclaim her life. As clarity surfaces and she starts to understand who she was, she is shocked. Had she really been that person? And if so, does she want her old life back?