Sunday, December 25, 2016

Why I Don't Want To Say Good-bye To 2016

Last year, when saying good-bye to 2015 and ringing in 2016, I was filled with hope and excitement for what the new year would bring. I was beginning the process of transitioning my books from my real name to a pen name. I was also working on a new series that I had such hopes for. I was learning how to create covers as well. 2016 was definitely looking to be a fabulous year for me.

And it was.


My maternal uncle informed us that his cancer had returned and was inoperable. It had reached the bones and was so far spread that there was nothing that could be done except to make him as comfortable as possible until the day came for us to say "See ya later..."

He first was diagnosed two years ago. It came as a shock to all of us, as a cancer diagnosis usually comes, but he fought it. He fought so bravely, so hard, and with such passion that when he was given the news that he was in remission we were ecstatic. We knew he could do it.

Then one day during a follow-up visit he received the news that it had returned. Doctors told him at the beginning of this year that these holidays would be his last. That if he saw the end of the year then it would be a miracle. Little did we know how true that statement would be... because he did not get the chance to even see Halloween.

My uncle passed away October 5, 2016. He passed away as one of the bravest and most courageous people I have ever known.

Just the month before that I had a paternal uncle pass away. His death was a shock, but not unexpected. His wife called us to let us know when he was in the hospital, and just days later he had passed.

He passed away in September 2016.

But the worst part of this year came, for me, in November. It was the most life-changing day of my entire life, thus far, and it still hurts to think about it.

It was the day my mom passed away.

My mom was one of the greatest women I have ever known. She was one of my best friends and was always there for anyone who needed someone. She was one of those women who, if she was depressed, still managed to smile so you didn't have to worry about her. If she needed food, but you needed gas for your car, she would give you the last of her money and go without. If she was tired, but you needed to talk to someone at 2:00 a.m., she would take your call and stay on the phone with you until you were ready to go. If she was sick and you called her, needing anything, she would do/give it.

She was the most selfless person you would have ever met.

She would be hurt by people over and over again, but would still be there for them if they ever called on her for help.

She would be in tears, in pain, but would still walk a mile to lend a helping hand.

She just wanted to be needed, to be useful, to be a friend to anyone and everyone. Because when she was younger she didn't have that.

As I write this I am in tears myself. When my mom passed I lost a part of myself. I felt empty and lost. I still feel that way. Often. And I am not sure when that feeling will go away, if ever. There is a void in my heart and an empty space in this world that she left behind that no one will ever be able to fill.

I wake up some mornings in a good mood, then I remember...

I remember the last time I got to see my mom and give her a hug.

I remember the last time I got to speak to my mom on the phone and tell her I loved her.

I remember her words of encouragement to me when my hubby and I and our kids moved hundreds of miles away.

I remember when she told me she was proud of the woman I had become - the wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter.

And then I feel that loss all over again.

My mom got sick with bronchitis right before Halloween. She wasn't able to fight it and soon was so sick that she couldn't get out of bed. My sisters and father called an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital. They placed her in ICU in critical condition. She had severe sepsis, which had reached her brain, and kidney failure. Her oxygen was too low and she was delirious. They treated her immediately by placing her on a round of antibiotics. They seemed to be helping but then a blood clot was detected, so they placed her on another medication.

Her condition improved and she was taken out of ICU only to be placed back in the next day because they couldn't keep her blood pressure up.

After another round of treatments they finally thought they had it under control so they moved her to a regular room. They even told us she was doing so well that she may be able to go home in a couple of days. When I talked to her on the phone she was relieved and hopeful.

Then, that night, or early the next morning, she went into cardiac arrest. It took twenty minutes to resuscitate her. By that time, however, there was no sign of brain activity.

My sister called me at just after 5:00 a.m. the morning of November 11 to inform me that my mother was on life-support and that it didn't look good.

Three hours later my brother called me to tell me that my mom wasn't going to make it.

An hour later I had a flight booked and was heading to the airport. My plane took off from my city to Detroit, MI at just after noon my local time.

By the time I got to my sister's car and we were driving to the hospital she informed me, with tears in her eyes and streaming down her face, that my mom had passed.

How could that be true? How could my mom have passed away? She wasn't supposed to leave us. She was the ONE person who was ALWAYS there for us. How could she be gone? She was only 60! Her birthday was November 18th and we were planning a surprise for her. She couldn't be gone.

But no matter how many times I questioned it the result never changed. My mom was gone.

I walked into the hospital room to say 'good-bye', knowing (with what our belief is) that she was no longer there. And I stared.

I stared and I cried.

And my chest hurt.

My stomach cramped.

I couldn't breathe.

I began to cry to sob - and almost collapsed on the floor.

How were we supposed to live life without a mom?

Well, we had to learn.

We had to take one second at a time. Then one minute, one hour, one day, and one week at a time. We had to give ourselves (and still) moments to grieve and moments to remember with joy.

We realized that we had to live.

We had to remember everything our mom taught us and we needed to live our lives with those lessons.

And we needed to remember that life is so very short and unpredictable.

I have always taught my boys that each time we speak to someone, and every time we talk to them, we are possibly creating our last memories with them. So we need to make them good memories.

We need to be the friend to people that we would want to have. We need to be kind and generous and loving. We need to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

And those are things I remember when I think of my mom. And I hope that I can be half the mom, wife, and friend - woman - that she was.

So while we have said 'good-bye' to "stars" this year, I have had to say 'good-bye' to a couple of my heroes.

And a part of me does not want to say good-bye to 2016 because this was the last year I was able to make memories with my heroes. From here on out I am only able to make memories of the memories.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Thank You...

When I began the journey of writing Samantha’s story with her “Teacher’ in Blind Sensations, I had no idea the twists and turns my life would take. From exciting highs to emotional lows, my life now is in such a completely different place than it was when I started the Submission series over a year ago.

Along the way, I have had an amazing group of people helping me, guiding me, praising me for any small success, supporting me when I was low and depressed, feeling like I should just quit, encouraging me to keep going. To not give up. I probably do not deserve the tremendous support they have all given me, but I am grateful for them. I would like to take a moment to express my feelings of appreciation and gratitude…

Thank you to my husband, whom without I would not have even published my first book. He pushes me to do my best when I don’t feel like even doing my worst. He believes in me, in what I am capable of, and always has more faith in me than I ever have in myself. He has lifted me up when I was down. He is not only my husband, he is my best friend and lover. I am his biggest fan. I love you, S.

Thank you to my amazing beta readers, Emily Foxx and Tori Dean. You two are incredible! I appreciate you taking the time to read through this last part of Samantha’s story, for guiding me through necessary changes and for giving me the courage I was needing to go forward with publishing it. If it weren’t for you two, this book would be sitting on my computer for months to come. I am honored to have you two as friends… love you.

Thank you to R.B. O’Brien and Shelby Kent-Stewart for… well, everything. You two have been a rock since the day we met. You are two women I proudly call friends, and I admire you both more than you’ll ever know. Your support, not just in my writing but for everything I have gone through during the year I took to write this novella, means more to me than I will ever be able to express. You two are like sisters to me, and I am blessed to have you both in my life. Love you gals.

And last, but absolutely not least, thank you to all of my friends, followers, and readers on social media (Facebook and Twitter). From laughing with me when I attempt humor, to your wonderful words of encouragement when I share part of my writing – from sharing my work and supporting me in any way, whether offering advice, reading and reviewing or just telling me that I can do it – you will never know or understand how much I truly do appreciate you all. Without you all there really would be no reason for me to write. Not only do I write because my heart tells me I need to, I write for you.

Friday, December 16, 2016

I Am Ignorant... Or Am I?

The world is filled with people who talk before thinking or act without thought of consequence.

There are people who honestly, truly believe they are better than others. They accept all praise as if it were their due, commanding it with their actions. They boast of how intelligent they are. They take every chance they get to inform the rest of us lowly people how much better than us they are. They condemn the "dummies" for their lack of perceived intelligence and find humor and joy in cutting others down; belittling people, making them feel they are not worth much.

I have been told time and again, not always in words, but in actions and behavior of others, that I am stupid... or dumb.

My writing (YES, I am a writer, regardless of the genre in which I write. My friend, R.B. O'Brien wrote a great blog post about the topic of writing, what makes a writer, and the stereotypes erotica authors deal with. You can read it HERE) doesn't always contain large words. I may use the word foe instead of antagonist when describing a character. I say friendly in place of amicable. I say someone is persistent rather than saying they are assiduous. I think you get the picture. Or should I say: I believe you have a precise understanding of the point I am attempting to impress upon you?
I do not always read novels.

I never completed college (I attended real estate school and became a licensed realtor at the age of twenty). So I do not have a Ph. D.

I haven't traveled the world. I have only been to a few countries.

Does all that make me ignorant?

My I.Q. was tested when I was younger and I was labeled a "genius". I graduated high school early. I was in the Honors Society and was a student ambassador when I was a sophomore in high school. I made the Spelling Bee finals in elementary. I have a love of learning and seek to educate myself in something new every day.

Do those things make me intelligent?

Let's go based on a brief definition:
Intelligent: having or showing intelligence, especially of a high level.

Well then, there you go! According to that, I am intelligent.

But hold on. Let's look at the other word:
Ignorant: lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.

Then it adds this for the word ignorant: lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular.

So, according to part of that "definition", I am ignorant, in a way.

And in all honesty, we are all a little bit ignorant because we all lack knowledge of something.


So, am I ignorant? Yes.

But I am also intelligent.

And guess what? You are both, too!

So you can come off whatever high horse, or pedestal you may have put yourself on if you go around calling people ignorant, or stupid while showcasing an air of superiority... because you ain't all that.

And STOP putting yourself down, thinking too little of yourself, not giving yourself enough credit for what you do know... because you may just be a lot smarter than you knew.

Using large words doesn't make you any more intelligent than another person just because it shows you may possibly have the use of a thesaurus... and using simple, easy-to-understand phrases doesn't make you ignorant.

It all boils down to knowledge. And in that case, we are all intelligent in many areas just as we are ignorant in others.

Be careful who you label, and when. You may just show your intelligence... or ignorance.