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 compare… 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 but… when she goes home to be with her mom and daughters even though she can’t remember who they are! 😢 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!

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

“The Deadening” all snuggled up beside other local Lowcountry authors. 🌴😎

Other interesting things have happened in the absence of in-person launch events…I’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.

😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌

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!

Boom! It’s 2021 and Crazy Town

HI there and welcome to Crazy Town. At least that’s where I am right now. So busy I don’t have much time to bemoan our political landscape or wring my hands about the COVID virus, and thank God because if that was all I thought about I’d be in bed most days.

I’m in the midst of releasing a book with an energetic and forward-thinking publisher and it’s a LOT! Since my background is advertising sales, copywriting, and marketing, I have to do it to the utmost, which takes a lot of time and patience. Neither of which I have, but we do what must be done, don’t we? Yes. Most of the time, anyway.

So while whittling away at a press release, preparing for yet another ZOOM call with my author launch team, biting my fingernails calling potential virtual event venues for our “Truth and Lies in Mysteries” tour, I had a moment of panic when I realized I hadn’t updated my website and a lot of folks (a lot) were going to check it out now and I’d better have something current. It’s even on my publisher’s information sheet, ‘how many times do you update your website a month?’ and I got a little red-faced at that question. So…welcome to my world for the next few weeks, and in the middle of that, my publisher offered me another contract! For Book Two and Book Three of the Olivia Callahan Suspense Series. Book One of which (The Deadening) releases next month, and is available for pre-order now.

My mind is spinning with how much there is to do after a mainly puttering-along writing life, and it is now full systems go and I have two more books to write starting, well, now. It is a happy time and a busy time and I am over-the-moon grateful for a blessing in the midst of a fiercely alienating landscape, a horrid disease, and the pervasive loneliness that hatched in 2020. Thanks to my writing addiction, I now have an instant group of encouragers and ZOOM meetings at every turn.

Into the vast Unknown…

Tip-toeing into 2021, I’m cautiously optimistic that we may see some light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s certainly nice to have a bunch of activity going on. It is WAY too easy to slide down the tunnel of regret and take the highway of discontent right now. (Dumb metaphors, I know, I know). So for now, I’m happily engaging in phone calls to potential virtual events or future signing events when the great unmasking occurs (being positive, here), I’m delighting in the lively wit of other authors and the sharing of promotional ideas. I’m excited about the fact that my editor believes in and supports my books and that I’m building a fan base (I love you guys).

Not watching news. Just no. For a while.

I’m stepping away from 24/7 news, which has had me glued to my phone. If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that we cannot believe the media. We must do research and find out for ourselves, and even that may not be exactly right, so…we just need to live our lives. Pursue that wonderful thing that God made us to do. Believe that better, more hopeful days are ahead. (Preachin’ to myself here, too.) Stay busy. Find something we love and do it. Persevere. Stay ahead of depression. Go visit someone with a three-year old, it will totally change your outlook for the better. Promise.

In the meantime, I think I’ll keep writing.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thunderstorms and Tuning Forks

Disappointments are to the soul what thunderstorms are to the air.

Johann C.F. von Schuller 

I ran across this marvelous quote recently, and it resonated so deeply I felt I should write something relatively coherent about it.

Johann von Schuller was a German philosopher that lived around the same time as Beethoven. In fact, Beethoven said of his poetry that it was so beautiful and complex that when asked to set it to music, he didn’t even want to try, he felt he might do it a disservice.

Athunderstorm 2ll to say, von Schuller was a pithy conversationalist whose commentary was well worth chewing on later.

No kidding. I’m chewing on this quote in 2013 and the guy died in 1805.

I love thunderstorms. Doesn’t everybody? I love the way the lightning zigzags across the sky and the deep boom of thunder. I love the sound of rain, and the clean, fresh smell the next morning after the storm has moved on. The storm electrifies the air, filling me with a sense of wonder at the mighty strength and power of it. I vacillate between awe and fear. Too much storm will result in devastation, but just the right amount can bathe the next day in bright-eyed clarity.

So it is with disappointment. When I have the temerity of soul to cast a global gaze backwards at my life, the disappointments far outnumber the celebrations. I don’t know if that’s true for everyone, but it certainly is true for me. I’m sad about it sometimes, but realistic and objective too, and in typical optimist-survivor fashion have tried to make lemonade from lemons and all that. Happily, I am swimming in lemonade right now, but this is not the point.thunderstorm 1

This is the point: I do not take one thing for granted anymore. Not one. A sea of disappointments has so clarified my focus that even the tiniest, loving moment is magnified a thousand times. A hand holding mine. A baby’s delighted laugh. A son’s successful day at work. A fifteen-minute conversation with a daughter that is emotionally honest. A husband’s caring gesture of concern when I am tired. A friend’s prayer for me. Twenty-five encouraging comments on Facebook in response to one of my posts.

Without disappointments, the air around me would be murky with what-ifs, muddled by not-good-enoughs, marred by unforgiveness. The disappointments have broken, humbled and softened me. They have prodded my ego into a semblance of submission and pounded my pride into a glob of malleable clay fit for shaping.  Left to a life without disappointments, I fear I would be a sad mess of indiscriminate decisions based on how I feel rather than what is good and right and true.

thunderstorm 4So I thank God for the disappointments, and I thank God for His help in teaching me the right response to them. After one of life’s thunderstorms, my senses are at their peak. I can hear better, see more clearly, and confusion has fled. I am a super-charged tuning fork, on a mission to align my pitch.

For the record, lately there have been a few spring showers, but no downpours or flash floods. Lightning streaks across the sky once in a while, but it is short-lived. Fast and furious. Then the sun comes out.

I am hoping my soul will not need much more clarifying. I am optimistic that the collective result of a life lived aggressively has yielded a soul more ready to embrace simple pleasures, more willing to rest in gratitude than demand rights; content in the place it has earned in the sun.

I agree with Solomon’s words, another man who pondered life’s thunderstorms: “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is for one to eat andthunderstorm 6 drink, and to find enjoyment in all the labor in which he labors under the sun all the days that God gives him. Also, every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, he is to enjoy them, accept his appointed lot and rejoice in his toil for this is a gift of God.” Ecc. 5: 19-20

Sounds pretty clarified to me. I’m with ya, Solomon.