A Much-Needed Update

I kind of disappeared from the internet and real life during the quarantine. For that I apologize. Here’s pretty much everything noteworthy that happened during the month of April:

I was given an office phone and asked to work from home. It was an interesting time. I got a taste of the stay-at-home mom life and it was pretty great, I’m not going to lie. There were times when I’d get frustrated or depressed about the fact that I couldn’t go anywhere. It’s officially summer in Phoenix which discouraged me from taking very many walks with Bennett. But, for the most part, I really enjoyed spending all that time with my son. I witnessed several firsts that I otherwise might’ve missed if I’d had to keep going into the office everyday.

He colored for the first time. It was a bunch of squiggles with an orange colored pencil but it was beautiful to me. He started pointing at things, as if inquiring after them. Then he’d sit there and listen to me explain what they were. He started handing me books and toys on a regular basis and waiting expectantly for me to do something with them. He started standing on his own. He’s still not confident enough to take any steps, but we’ll get there. He’s growing so fast and learning so much. It’s a treat to witness.


 
 

Staying home also allowed me to rest. (For those of you who don’t know, I’m pregnant again. It’s a little ahead of schedule but we’re still excited and more than ready to meet our little girl!) My baby bump turned into a mountain seemingly overnight, sapping my strength and slowing me down considerably. Our baby girl is healthy and strong, though. There’s much to be thankful for.

Over the weekend, I celebrated a birthday and my very first Mother’s Day, which was an emotional time for me. Businesses are slowly starting to open up here but we didn’t want to brave the crowds of people so my husband and I had quiet celebrations at home. May is a big month for us as far as celebrations go. Bennett’s first birthday is on the 18th and our five year wedding anniversary is on the 29th! Hopefully by then it’ll be safer to venture out into the world.

Permission has been granted for some businesses to start opening again. Churches will be allowed to open later in the summer so the office is preparing. I’ll be returning to work part-time. It’s going to be an adjustment for both me and Bennett, but we’ll endure. Besides, all too soon it’ll be time to go on maternity leave!

The Andromeda’s Ghost is on NetGalley and, according to my publisher, it’s getting a good reception from librarians, retailers, journalists, trade reviewers, and book bloggers. I was told the book would be available for pre-order early in June and is all set to be published on July 16!

BHC Press is already preparing the publication schedule for 2021. I submitted the second book in The Andromeda Chronicles, The Andromeda’s Captain, so they could add it to the line up. It’s crazy to think that another one of my books could be coming out this time next year, but that’s totally a possibility!

In other news, deals have been made and the plan has been set in motion so that the books I publish through BHC Press will be translated into different languages! More news on that later.


My big project during the quarantine was finishing my edits for Death’s Curses and getting all the necessary documents ready to submit to BHC Press. It took a lot longer than I care to admit (escaping from distractions at home proved to be more difficult than I thought!) but at last it’s done. The query letter, book description, synopsis, and first six chapters have been submitted for their consideration. It can take 6-8 weeks for them to get to the documents, review everything, and make a decision what with the enormous amount of submissions they get every day. I’ll be moving onto other projects to keep busy while I wait to hear back from them but, for right now, I’m celebrating.


There’s still the possibility of another wave of the Coronavirus hitting us. Stay safe and brave, you guys.

Advertisement

A Good Mom

It’s a late night and an early morning.

It’s a sleepy smile, a drool-covered chin, a runny nose.

Time for play?

How about a walk?

Anything for you, baby.

It’s dinner time, bath time, and off to bed with you, mister.

Yes, you are tired. Don’t give me that look.

It’s having to sit perfectly still while baby screams on a monitor screen.

Quietly fuming. Or privately aching.

Sometimes both.

I’ve done everything I can think of.

Why is he still crying?

Does this mean I’m not a good mom?

It’s a house that’s always half dirty.

Laundry mostly done. Clean. Folded. Sitting in baskets all over the living room.

It’s meal planning. All day. Every day.

It’s checking the heater several times before bed, obsessing about baby’s comfort.

It’s cheers and tears after every milestone reached.

I’m so glad he’s growing up at a normal pace…

But why can’t he stay little forever?

“Thank God he can’t stay little forever!” I think moments later.

It’s worrying about his future.

It’s beating myself up after every little failure.

It’s praying, “Oh, God, please help me be a good mom.”

Over and over and over again.

It’s keep to the schedule at all costs. Until baby changes it.

He never sleeps in this late. Is he still alive?

Oh, sorry, baby. Didn’t mean to scare you. Shh. Go back to sleep.

No? Okay. I guess it’s breakfast time now…

It’s panicking when he gets sick.

It’s wiping food off my face. Food that’s not mine.

It’s rocking and crying softly. Overwhelmed by the depth of my love for this baby.

It’s coming this close to cursing at baby. Then actually cursing at baby.

Then feeling extremely guilty for cursing at baby.

It’s falling asleep on the couch with baby, waking every time he moves.

It’s melting whenever I make him giggle.

It’s raging war against the mosquito that dared to bite my baby.

I come home after a long day at work and there he is, crawling toward me at full speed.

Does this mean I’m a good mom?

“You are,” says his grandma.

“You are,” says his aunt.

“You are,” says his father.

On this long, winding road we call motherhood, I struggle to believe sometimes.

It’s looking at a positive pregnancy test.

Happy. Exhausted. Terrified.

Can I do this?

My heart is big enough for both of you, but is my spirit strong enough?

Can I still be a good mom if there’s two?

Only time will tell.

Free Ebook

In August, I got the brilliant idea to write a short story. I’d heard of other indie authors giving away short stories for free in exchange for newsletter signups. With a new book scheduled to be published next year, I thought this short story could be a good promotional tool. I pitched the idea to my new publisher and they loved it. They even offered to help promote the story through their website. So I got to work.

My first story idea turned out to be a dud. Thankfully, my trusty writing buddy and best friend (my big sister), was there to save the day. She gave me an idea and I ran with it, thinking if it stuck, it stuck. If not, I’d go back to the drawing board. Well, it stuck, all right. It stuck a little too well. My “short story” turned into a novelette. During the editing phases, I thought I could shorten it but the plot’s pacing was perfect. To take anything away would cheapen the quality of the overall story. So I left it as is and submitted it to my publisher, hoping the length wouldn’t be an issue.

Unfortunately, the length was an issue. My publisher still thought it was a good idea and encouraged me to promote the story on my end. I was disappointed I wouldn’t get their help after all (I’m not the greatest at book promotion) but I wasn’t about to let my hard work go to waste. I created a cover for my novelette, and formatted its content so that it mimicked one of my professionally published ebooks. Then I found a website that could  convert my PDF file into an EPUB and a MOBI file. Now I have myself a professional-looking ebook.

Now, it’s time to promote. The real hard work begins.

Here’s the blurb:

Elvira Marques has only ever had one goal: to start her own business outside the palace walls. But leaving the servitude of the crown is not something a Marques does. Her family would like her to marry one of the other servants and remain Princess Kylee’s maid forever. Her big brother is constantly reminding Elvira of how good they have it, how great their loud, uncomfortably close family is, how hard it is to make it in the royal city by oneself.

Despite it all, Elvira has remained determined to make her dream a reality. When she falls in love with Ulfric Mistsinger, the gardener’s grandson and another palace lifer, Elvira finds herself having to choose between her heart and her dream. Then Princess Kylee comes to her, asking for a dangerous favor. In exchange, the princess is willing to do something for Elvira. Something that could potentially solve her heart versus dream dilemma.

To get caught while on this secret errand for the princess would mean getting fired. At the least. If the queen finds this offense worthy of banishment, however, Elvira could lose it all. Still, the potential rewards outweigh the risk…right?

This is meant to be a prequel of sorts to The Andromeda’s Ghost, which is a science fiction/fantasy type story. Even if science fiction isn’t your cup of tea, I encourage you to give this novelette a try. It’s really more of a fantasy set on a different planet. If it turns out you like this novelette, you might like The Andromeda Chronicles too, since they’re written similarly.

Whether or not you’re already receiving my newsletter: send me a message through Facebook with your preferred file format (EPUB, MOBI, or PDF) and your email, and I’ll send over your free novelette.

Hope you like it!

Surprise!

I know I’m late in posting something new on here but I have a really good excuse, I promise.

May 18. 4:00AM. I was suddenly wide awake. Then I felt and heard a distinct pop, kind of like the sound you hear when you pop a bubble in your chewing gum. My coworker had described this to me when she told me about the time her water broke so I carefully got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. No sooner had my feet touched the tile than water began to rush down my legs.

“Hey, babe?” I squeaked, slapping on the lights.

My husband sat bolt upright in bed. “What? What’s wrong?”

“I think my water just broke.” (Which was, in hindsight, a ridiculous thing to say. Water was literally pouring out of me. There was no way this could be anything but my water breaking. But I was groggy and a little scared so I think I can let it go.)

My husband leapt into action, yanking on some clothes and gathering my overnight bag. I called the hospital to verify that we were supposed to go there right away and then proceeded to change out of my wet clothes. (A fruitless effort since the more I moved, the more water came but I’ll spare you the gory details.) We rushed to the hospital, giddy as school girls, and managed to get to labor and delivery without incident. I was so thankful we’d taken those birthing classes earlier because we knew exactly where to go and what to do. My husband filled out the paper work. I was wheeled into a room and given a gown. It was confirmed in a matter of minutes; my water had broken. Baby Bennett was coming three weeks ahead of schedule.

There were no contractions yet. The nurses wheeled me into a private birthing suite and then gave me something to kick start the contractions. It only took two to three hours before my body got the hint and continued the process on its own. I lasted five hours without the epidural. Silly me; I thought I might try toughing this thing out while watching HGTV. But when they told me I was only three centimeters dilated and the pain was already more intense than anything I’d ever felt before, I said screw it! “Give me drugs!” Having a giant needle shoved between two vertebrae in my back was nothing short of terrifying, especially because I couldn’t see when the needle went in. (That’s how I cope with needles; I have to watch them go in so that I can brace myself and breathe through the process.) My husband helped steady me. I was numb from the waist down within the hour.

For the next nine hours, I was able to rest and simply watch the contractions come and go on the monitor. Friends and family visited, talked, helped me forget I was in labor. Too many nurses to count came and went, updating me on my progress, moving me from one position to another. Finally, they declared me ready to push. It was…peaceful. My husband stood on one side of me, my nurse on the other. She coached me through it until it was time to call the doctor. It was just the four of us then, me pushing and breathing while they encouraged me. It only took twenty-three minutes. Then I heard that iconic wailing. A child was placed on my chest.

10968

I’d seen this moment before in movies and TV shows. Mothers had tried to describe it to me in the past. None of that did it justice. I’m having trouble describing it now. I remember feeling tired and relieved but also a bit overwhelmed. So much had happened in the last fourteen hours–in the last eight months actually! It was hard to believe it was all over. The thought hit me, “This is my son.” And that’s when the tears came.

My son.

MY SON.

Bennett Mordecai Fox. Five pounds fifteen ounces. Eighteen and three quarter inches long. He was a picture on a screen, a heartbeat on a monitor, a flutter or a kick in my stomach. And now he was a little person in my arms.

10956.jpeg

My nurses and doctor marveled at how perfect he was. If he’d come any earlier, he would’ve had problems with his lungs or his immune system. But aside from having slightly lower blood sugar than normal, he was healthy. Still, they asked us to stay for forty-eight hours so they could run tests, be sure he was going to be all right. His blood sugar increased the more he ate. He passed all the other tests with flying colors. They gave us the OK and we brought him home Monday afternoon.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity ever since. Between figuring out this surprisingly complicated thing called breastfeeding (it DOESN’T come naturally? Whaaaaaat?), diapering, burping, and feeding this little human being at all hours of the day and night, my husband and I have hardly had a moment to ourselves. Okay, that’s not entirely true. We’ve gone out twice to celebrate our anniversary (he surprised me the day of, I surprised him over the weekend) and left Bennett with trusted loved ones. Plus both my parents and my husband’s mother have come to visit. They helped a ton.

Now we’re on our own. My husband went back to work almost two weeks ago. I’ve been surviving ever since, sleeping when I can, doing a little house work here and there, trying to build a new routine. I always knew being a mom would be difficult. Never imagined it would be this time-consuming. And I only have one child! But before I can get too overwhelmed, Bennett will do something adorable or just smile and suddenly things don’t seem so hard.

20190527_184118.jpg

20190530_132200.jpg

This is my life right now. It’s busy. It’s exhausting. It’s difficult. It’s full of joy. It’s temporary. I know someday Bennett won’t need me as much. Someday I’ll have downtime again and get back into my writing. In the meantime, I’ll just try to enjoy the here and now.

 

20190523_202232.jpg

My Life

“…This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you’ve dreamed
That it would be when the world was younger,
And you had everything to lose?”
-This is Your Life by Switchfoot

When I was fourteen/fifteen, I listened to this song with hope that one day my life would be everything that I ever dreamed it would be. Because, I don’t know if you remember, but being a teenager isn’t as fun as they make it seem on TV. Your choices are pretty limited. You go to school, go to church, do your chores, do your homework, mind your manners, hang out with your friends, maybe get your driver’s permit, learn a life lesson or two. Sure, you have less responsibility and less to worry about, but that to me always meant being stuck in the same old routine.

I longed for the day when I’d be older because I couldn’t do any of the things I actually wanted to do until then. I figured if I finally finished school, published a book, got married, and started my own family, then I would have “arrived.” I would’ve been done with the farming and gaining XP part of this video game, and be leveled up enough to get to the good stuff. Do you know what has happened the older I’ve gotten? Nothing. I still feel exactly the same, like I’m waiting for the “good” part of my life to start.

Don’t get me wrong; I have A LOT to be thankful for. I have a good-paying job with incredible health insurance. I have a car that works (most of the time). I’m living in a rental house that’s in a good neighborhood. I have a husband that I don’t deserve. We have loving and supporting families, a nurturing church, great friends, and pets that are practically angels (when compared to the animals in all of those shaming memes). I’ve published three books and will be self-publishing a fourth in the next month or two (fingers crossed). I have a bouncing baby boy on the way.

According to the logic of Teenage Me, this should mean that I have “arrived,” right? My days of striving and waiting and working are over. I have everything that I’ve ever wanted, but nothing is at all like I thought it would be. I’ve always known that I’m something of a romantic, that I see life through rose-colored glasses. The truth is I don’t see life at all.

a55e5a4274c1cd4f1bb81025dd95b2a1--writing-quotes-writing-tips

I thought this meme only pertained to the fantasy worlds I wrote about. I was wrong. This is just how I view everything. Unrealistically. Positively. Naively. I set myself up for disappointment because I’ll always be waiting for my circumstances to align with my view of how things “ought to be” after all my years of “farming.” When in reality, life is hard and is always going to be. People tried to tell me this when I was younger. Sometimes I believed them. Most of the time I didn’t. Now, I think, I’m finally starting to see.

Because–shocker!–the things I’ve been looking forward to? They have their down sides too. For example:

  • I’m done with school (for now); that’s great. But trying to make writing my full time career or trying to get an internship at a publishing company is a drag. There’s always a better writer, a better candidate.
  • I’m published. Again, great! I’m super proud of the fact that I have books out there for people to enjoy! But book promotion and marketing are soul-crushing. There are so many articles and blog posts and YouTube videos chock full of information that has, so far, not helped me very much.
  • I’m married. Woohoo! But…actually, I have no complaints there. Being married to Devo Fox is pretty amazing. Sure, sometimes we confuse and frustrate each other, but we never go to bed angry. He’s still the first person I want to see when I wake up in the morning, the person I can’t wait to get home to. Moving right along…
  • I’m pregnant. Guess what. Feeling nauseous and exhausted all the time sucks. There are things I used to do with ease, things that I can’t do anymore because I literally don’t have the energy. I keep hearing that it’ll get better with time but it hasn’t. I’m thinking I’ll keep feeling sick and tired right up until I pop this kid out.

There is no giant scale where all my hours of farming go in and, after I’ve reached a certain point, I’ll have “earned” an easy-breezy end to my life. I’m always going to have to work for what I want. I’m never going to “arrive,” not until the second coming. If I get a little extra money to travel or purchase something big that I need, it’ll be a blessed miracle. If I ever look around and feel any measure of peace or contentment, I need to cherish that because those moments are so fleeting.

But nobody wants to hear about that, do they? Complainers and downers get nothing but eye-rolls and cricket noises. Plus, I don’t want to stay in this depressingly realistic place either. I want to continue seeing the bright side of things, to continue believing that my circumstances will get easier with time. Because if they don’t, then I might actually give up. What kind of life would that be?

There’s a not-so-subtle theme in The Andromeda Trilogy (cool name pending). It’s something along the lines of “do the best you can with what you have and try to find happiness no matter where you are in life.” It makes me sound wise but, as you can see, I’m still trying to figure out how to put that into practice. How to be content without getting complacent. How to see things as they are without giving in to depression and discouragement. How to explain to my kids the difference between living in the moment and being reckless. Because I can’t wait for the day my unrealistic expectations come true. Not anymore. This is my life. It’s happening right now. There is good and there is bad. There are things I can do and things I can’t. What am I going to do with this knowledge, this new outlook? Time will only tell.

God-grant-me-the-serenity-to-accept-the-things-I-cannot-change-the-courage-to-change-the-things-I-can-and-the-wisdom-to-know-the-difference.-9.jpg

Hello, Peeta

Two blog posts ago, I shared the tragic loss of Bruce/Betsy (my husband’s white Mazda Ford pick up). For those of you who didn’t read that particular post, a red-light runner hit the truck on the driver’s side. My husband only sustained sever whiplash, thankfully, and the other driver was unharmed. But Bruce was totalled.

Anyway, it took three weeks for the policeman who was on the scene to file his report (which included testimonies from witnesses clearly stating that it was the other driver’s fault). It took four or five weeks for us to get an estimate of how much the truck was worth and how much the other driver’s insurance was willing to reimburse us for that rental car we had for two weeks. Even after we were sure we were going to get a certain amount for my husband’s truck, we still had to figure out what car we were going to by and from what kind of seller. This being our first big purchase (and by big I mean more than one thousand dollars), we knew we would need a loan and that the loan would come with a high insurance rate. My husband agonized over what to do for several days before he decided to play it safe and go with a dealership, Sanderson Ford to be exact. I have an uncle who works there, someone we were confident would get us the best possible deal, someone we knew we could trust.

(Not to say all car salesmen are tricksters; we just had a really bad experience with one two years ago when we almost bought a car from a Chevy dealership. That’s why we were so hesitant to go with a dealership this time.)

So my husband found a truck he liked that was reasonably priced, a used 2014 F150 with a crew cab and four wheel drive. He did a test drive with my uncle and loved it. My uncle said he could hold onto the truck for us for a little while, but we still didn’t know when those checks from insurance would come. As we drove home later that day, I said something like, “Should we check the mail? I know we just checked it yesterday and there’s probably nothing in there but…” My husband said it was worth a shot so we stopped by our mailbox. Out loud, as a joke, I prayed, “Jesus, it would be great if there was a check in that mailbox. If there isn’t, I’m sure we’ll be fine but it would still be REALLY great if there was.” And, praise God, both checks were in there! We turned the car around and went straight to the bank to deposit them. We went to Sanderson Ford the next morning. Two hours later, my husband drove his new truck home.

I know it looks red in the picture but its technically “sunset metallic” orange. I’m calling this new vehicular addition to our family Peeta, after Peeta Mellark. This mind-blowing blessing comes with a new payment every month and a spike in the amount we pay toward car insurance. But we’re still on cloud nine. We’ve been praying for this day since the accident happened back in October. God answered in a BIG way. We’re still humbled and in awe of His provision and His timing.

This year, as I’m looking back at everything my husband and I have been through individually and together, I’m calling 2018 the Year of Trust. We needed a new car, a dependable family car. We tried saving for it. Things happened that caused our car fund to slowly be depleted. Then the accident happened. I wouldn’t have thought to provide anyone with a car this way. But God did. Somehow, He knew this was the only way it could happen. Same with how our child came to be. Same with pretty much every aspect of our lives. Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I wonder why things happened the way that they did, why God couldn’t have made it a little easier. But that’s not for me to know, is it?

As I writer, I’ve put my characters through some pretty rough situations. They’ve experienced loss, heart-break, disappointment, injury, danger, and depression. But they always learn something in the end, maybe even become better people as a result. I’d like to think my husband and I are a little bit stronger now that this year is coming to an end, not only as a couple but as individuals. It wasn’t always fun, but I’m glad it happened.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, readers. See you in 2019!

The Plan

In March of 2017, my husband dropped a bombshell on me. He said, “Whenever you’re ready to have kids, I’m ready.”

Up until that moment, we’d been focused on “the plan.” My husband was going to get into the police academy. We were going to raise enough money to replace one of our cars with a reliable family car. And then we would start our family. It seemed to me to be the smartest, most logical thing to do, the best way to guarantee a secure future for our children. But the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized that I was putting God in a corner. I was so focused on getting all of my ducks in a row that there was no room for God to work. So in April, I stopped taking birth control. I said, “Whenever You think we should have a baby, God, I will be ready.”

Toward the end of May, we found out I was pregnant. But then in July, an ultrasound revealed that our baby had no heartbeat. There was no obvious cause. I was healthy. There hadn’t been any complications that the doctor could see. He just assumed that something had gone wrong during the child’s development, which he said was common.

The doctor gave me two options: I could either wait to miscarry naturally, which could happen anywhere and at any time, or he could prescribe some medication to jump-start the miscarriage. I chose the medication and planned to miscarry over the weekend. But the process lasted much longer than that, approximately three months. And even then my body’s cycle was off. I saw the doctor again in February of 2018. He put me back on birth control to get my cycle regulated. He said it could take anywhere from four to six months before I would be physically ready to try again.

This was not something I ever expected. I knew a few of my coworkers had experienced miscarriages before giving birth to their children, but in my naivety, I believed it wouldn’t happen to me. I thought I’d conceive and give birth just as seamlessly as my mother and my sister-in-law had. Instead, this had happened. I felt hurt, confused, depressed, betrayed. I’d taken a chance. I’d gotten rid of my plan and put my trust in God. This wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out. Growing up in church, I’d always heard that “God is good all the time.” It was something I’d known as a fact for as long as I could remember, but it didn’t feel very true to me during those trying months.

In the midst of all this inner turmoil, I could almost hear my own words echoing back to me. “Whenever You think we should have a baby, God, I’ll be ready.” That’s what I’d said. But what I actually meant was, “I’m ready now.” That was my mistake; I thought I was giving up my control and surrendering to God’s will when, in reality, I was just coming up with a new plan. And, once again, shoving God into a corner.

I was reminded of Peter then. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples on the beach. Peter was the first to approach Him but not the first to speak. He’d denied his Lord three times and was probably feeling lower than dirt. While they were all sitting together, Jesus asked, “Peter, do you love me?” Only in my case, I felt like God was asking, “Becca, do you trust me? Do you trust that I know what’s best for you, I want what’s best for you, and I know exactly when to give it to you? Do you trust that I love you, despite what circumstances I put you through? Do you trust in my provision alone or are you still trying to be self-sufficient?”

I was. I am. Daily I struggle to surrender my illusion of control to the only one who is actually in control. My husband and I could have the best paying jobs this world has to offer, but circumstances can still snatch our money away in creative and unexpected ways. (We only have to look at my previous blog post to see proof of that.) Our security is not found in our bank account; our true and lasting security is found in Christ alone. He could’ve given us a baby at any time, whether I was on birth control or not. And He would’ve provided for that child whether my husband had a better paying job or not, whether we had a better family car or not. It only took losing my first baby for me to realize that.

When the time came to stop taking birth control and try again, I was still scared. I still dreaded the thought of another loss, another disappointment, another six months of recovery time. But I had a new confidence in my God’s goodness and in His perfect will. Whether we had a baby or not, I knew my husband and I would be just fine.

Last week, it was with humble and joyful hearts that we told our families that we’re expecting. Our baby is due to be born on June 11, 2019. And we look forward to whatever comes next.

46762524_10217998637382736_2297690641594843136_n

It seems this story is going to have a happy ending, but I know now more than ever that nothing is guaranteed. The end of this month will mark the end of my first trimester; the chances of miscarrying are lessened but it could still happen. Or the baby could come early and with complications. Or I could give birth to a stillborn child. There are so many hard possibilities, painful realities, things that have happened to countless mothers all around the world. My miscarriage experience was terrible but also wonderful because I feel like my eyes have been opened.

Losing a child is more common than I ever realized. The women and men who have gone through it suffer in silence because it’s painful to talk about, because they have family or friends who maybe haven’t been as supportive as they should’ve been, because they don’t want to burden other people with their problems. Or for a hundred other reasons. All I can say is: I see you, mother of angels. I know that feeling of helplessness, father of angels. I’ve felt that physical pain, that unbearable heartache.

I’m so sorry.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers for you, just a virtual hug and, hopefully, some encouragement. There is hope, joy, and comfort to be found in the arms of our Heavenly Father. No matter what your experience has been with people who claim to follow Christ or with church or with religion in general, I hope you find Him one day and come to realize how much He loves you, even when life seems to scream otherwise.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

“But I will sing of Your strength; in the morning I will sing of Your love, for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16 NIV

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that He will lift you up in His own good time. Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you…But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share His eternal glory in union with Christ, will Himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.” 1 Peter 5:8&10 GNT

Something I’ve learned about book marketing

I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life.

Waiting until I was old enough to drive. Waiting until I was old enough to date. Waiting until I was old enough to go somewhere on my own and not have to take my sister or my brother with me. Waiting until I was old enough to live on my own. Waiting until I was done with school. Waiting until I could get a job and earn my own money. Waiting until I could buy my own car. Waiting until I could get married. Waiting to hear back from agents. Waiting to get that publishing deal. Waiting for children. Waiting to be able to make a living as an author.

You’d think I’d be an expert at waiting right about now. But I’m not. Whenever I have to wait for anything, I fill the time with whatever I can in the hopes of distracting myself. I wrack my brains for things that I can do to speed the process along (whatever the ‘process’ might be). But most of the time, there isn’t much to do. And so I pace and growl and sometimes cry and pace some more.

My husband teases me all the time because I made the mistake of telling him that I once asked God to give me patience. “Are you really so surprised that He’s making you wait for everything? You asked for patience. This is the way to get it.”

I was fourteen when I prayed that prayer. I had hoped God would just grant me patience. You know, sprinkle some dust over my head, flood me with peace so that I wouldn’t feel so antsy and helpless. And sometimes He does do that for me. (Not so much the dust sprinkling, but the peace flooding part.) Sometimes I’m honestly okay with waiting. But once I’ve waited for a certain amount of time, I think, “I should’ve gotten what I was waiting for by now.” Aaaaaaand cue the pacing and growling and crying.

This has been especially true concerning my book sales.

You guys who visit my blog, who like my author Facebook page, who agree to read ARCs for me, who sign up for my newsletter, who follow me on Twitter or Instagram: thank you! You make my day every day. Seriously. I’m over the moon that anyone reads my books and likes them.

But considering the time and energy I’ve been pouring into book marketing, I was expecting to see a significant rise in sales. When I wasn’t seeing it, I tried to be patient. After all, it’s a big world and the internet is even bigger. I know it takes time for people to find things, no matter how much I post on social media. So I pressed onward, continuing what I was doing in the hopes that I would see results eventually.

Months went by and still no giant leaps in book sales. Before I could start pacing and growling and crying, I decided to try a different approach. I read more articles and watched YouTube videos and asked the advice of more seasoned authors, all so that I could get some insight on what I was doing wrong. And it turns out, my whole book selling mentality was wrong. I kept hearing that authors aren’t just selling their books; they’re selling themselves. But I was so determined that people wouldn’t want to know more about me. Let’s be honest. I’m boring. My books are much more interesting. I was putting the spotlight on them instead of me, so sure that once people started reading, they’d come to love these stories as much as I did. And then tell their friends about them. That worked but only to a certain extent.

One particular interview with a book marketing specialist had me realizing that people will take a chance on pretty much anything an author writes so long as they like the author. Building a relationship, securing a foundation, creating an expectation in the reader; these create life-long fans and friends. This was eye-opening to learn but also discouraging. If you’ve read even one of my previous blog posts, you know that I struggle with making friends. But I determined to try.

For the past week and a half, instead of mass-posting on Facebook book promotion sites, I’ve just posted random stuff on my author and personal pages. I created a Facebook video ad for the first time. That was fun! I have been ignoring Instagram this whole time (which was a HUGE mistake apparently) so I started being more active on that. I posted a few book marketing pics but I mostly just liked other people’s stuff and followed more bookworms and authors. Concerning Twitter, I shifted the focus from my books to the books of other authors. And you know what? I’m a lot happier. Because I don’t feel like I’m selling anything anymore. I’m just another person online, sharing little pieces of me with a like here, a comment there, and a random post all the way over there.

I’ve stopped obsessing about numbers and it’s so freeing! Plus, I realized something; I’ve only been a published author for six and a half months. It takes a lot longer for people to discover a new book to love than just six and a half months. My books aren’t best sellers yet. Let’s be honest. The best sellers get most of the attention. And maybe I’m not ready to get that much attention. Maybe this time of being a semi-known author will prepare me for the day when I’m well-known.

So to all of my fellow authors who are struggling with book sales; take a breather. Give yourself a big heap of grace and a little more time. I’m not saying you should give up on book marketing completely. That won’t do anything for your sales obviously. But try not to stress about it too much. Pick two platforms that work the best for you and stick with them. In the meantime, learn everything you possibly can about book marketing and focus your energies on becoming the best writer and friend you possibly can be. I think you and your readers will appreciate it in the end.

A much kneeded break

Back in September I wrote a blog post about my husband tearing his meniscus. It just occurred to me last week that I never followed up. After the official diagnosis, my husband went through approximately seven weeks of physical therapy while we waited for his work insurance to approve corrective surgery. During that whole time, he was limping along on crutches and on “sitting duty only” at work.

The week of Thanksgiving, we finally got the approval we needed. The surgery was scheduled for Cyber Monday. I drove him to the surgical center at five in the morning. My grandparents very graciously offered to sit with me while he was in surgery. Because neither my car nor my husband’s truck could fit him with his new, rigid knee brace, they drove him back to our house in their car. And ever since then, I’ve taken on his responsibilities on top of mine.

It was easy at first. He was in pain and physically incapable of doing even little things on his own. I could see how miserable and frustrated he was. I was willing to do anything it took to make him comfortable. I happily served his food and jumped up to get his drinks or his medicine. I did all the chores around the house. I even scooped the cat litter, something my husband has done without complaint since we got married, something I abhor doing because of what it does to my sinuses. I changed out the five-gallon water bottle and brought in the groceries all by myself. I often forgot to put the trashcans on the curb on Thursday mornings but I got better at remembering.

My husband was so appreciative, apologizing repeatedly for not being able to help.

But, the more time has passed, the harder it has been to do everything with a good attitude. Because it’s exhausting. I feel like a kernel of corn popping around in a corn popper, rushing around to get things done, finally sitting down to rest, only to realize I forgot to do something or get something for him. And up I get again. He is still appreciative and he still apologizes, but (if I’m honest) those words are starting to lose their impact. Him being appreciative or apologetic doesn’t change anything. I still have to do everything.

Traveling to Wisconsin was what pushed me over the limit, I think. I’ve come to love traveling with my husband because he’s so calm and collected at the airport. Plus, he packs lightly and efficiently, which helps. But this time around, I had to do the packing for both of us. All of his winter wear is in boxes, scattered in various closets around the house, so I had to do a lot of scurrying and searching. Once everything was assembled, I was the one dashing from window to window to door, checking locks. I was the one hauling our dog and her kennel to a friend’s house. I was the one pulling our enormous rolling suitcase around while carrying the large backpack carry-on plus my purse and my heavy jacket. I was in charge of our tickets, checking in our bag, and getting all of our things through security. I was stressed out. He got to ride a wheelchair.

Then we got to my mother-in-law’s house. We had a blast with our family, but I took an hour long nap every day we were there. At the time, I was confused as to why I was so tired. Looking back now, it’s obvious. I was in the kitchen with my mother-in-law half the time, whipping up eggs and waffles and french toast and bacon and cookies and pie. When I wasn’t in the kitchen, I was rushing around the house, getting things for my husband. I had two evenings where I got to sit and enjoy a card game or a movie. Then we flew back home and went right back to work. I didn’t get much rest while on my vacation. Still, I comforted myself with the thought that I had the Friday before New Years off, which meant a long weekend of resting.

But it wasn’t really. I spent that time cleaning and cooking some more and helping my husband. Another week is almost over and I’m still as tired as I was before. I need another vacation, one where I don’t. Do. Anything.

Anyway, the good news is that my husband is healing. He’s not in pain anymore, which is good. He can comfortably bend his knee to ninety degrees and even put some weight on it. We have another doctor’s appointment this upcoming Tuesday. We’re both hoping the doctor will give the “okay” for him to ditch the crutches and start physical therapy. Then life will slowly start going back to normal. I think.

I’d like to say that this experience has grown me as an individual and has strengthened our marriage, but I don’t think I can. Not yet. What I can say is this: I have a new found respect for women whose husbands have a disability. I mean, I always admired them but now that I’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like…they’re definitely on a pedestal. At least in my case, there’s an end in sight. I can’t imagine doing what I’ve been doing every single day for the rest of my life and keeping a good attitude throughout. That takes a kind of patience and endurance that I clearly haven’t developed yet.

And maybe that’s the lesson to be learned here; I still have some growing up to do.

A lesson on pride

“Adventure is out there,” my husband said Saturday morning, holding his fist out so that I could bump it with my own.

Despite his knee injury, my husband is going hunting next weekend. I’ve tried talking him out of it but to no avail. He’s been planning this trip with his cousin for months and nothing is going to keep him from going. (Unless, by some miracle, his surgery is scheduled before Friday). So Saturday was his prep day. He hobbled around the house, gathering all the supplies he would need on his trip. (“Babe, could you look for my brown and blue boots? I can’t find them anywhere.” “Have you checked the box labeled shoes in the guest room’s closet, love?” “What box?” “Never mind. I’ll go look…You mean these?” “Yeah! Where’d you find them?” “In the box labeled shoes in the guest room’s closet.” Lol.)

Next order of business was getting his rifle sighted in. Instead of paying to go to the shooting range, my husband figured we’d be able to find a secluded spot in the mountains somewhere to shoot for free. So we loaded the truck with his rifle, some targets, shooting earmuffs, and ammunition. After a pit stop at Sonic for Limeades, we turned up Pandora and then hit the road.

“It’s been a while since we’ve been on an adventure,” he said with a grin full of child-like excitement.

Three hours, three “No Target Shooting” signs, and a half a tank of gas later and the  excitement was replaced by annoyance.

“Sloppy shooters ruin it for everyone,” my husband grumbled as we pulled into the shooting range. “They take their old TVs and refrigerators and shoot them up in the wilderness, and then leave the pieces out there for rangers and boarder patrolmen to find. Maybe if they cleaned up after themselves, we wouldn’t have “No Shooting” signs all over the place.”

By happy coincidence, the shooting range was offering to sight in rifles for the upcoming hunting season. My husband had the opportunity to sit with two old timers who knew a heck of a lot more about guns than he did. They had a great conversation about hunting, gun cleaning and assembly.

“I thought they were going to be jerks at first,” he told me as we drove home about an hour later. “The guy told me I had the wrong set up for hunting, talked to me like I didn’t know anything. Turns out, I don’t know anything.” He chuckled. “It didn’t feel to good but I’m thankful we ended up at the shooting range. It was totally a God-thing. He knew I needed to talk to those old guys and get a pride check.”

“Well, hey,” I said, “at least you learned something new.”

“Yeah, but still…my ego’s bruised.”

I laughed. “Oh, I understand. Take it from someone who lives with you, a guy with much knowledge about things I can’t even begin to understand; it’s not easy to just smile and say, ‘Thank you. I didn’t know that.’ But it beats staying upset about it. Be humble, babe. Have a teachable spirit. You learned something new today and are better for it. Now you can pass on that new knowledge to someone else.”

It’s true that when we first got married, I’d get upset whenever he proved to be better at something or know more about something or have a better way of doing something than I did. He’d beat me at cards, prove one of my facts wrong, show me a quicker way to get to work in the morning so that I could avoid traffic, all with a good attitude and good intentions. I’d sit there simmering silently, feeling like a dumb loser, until I could let it go. It took time and God gently tapping on my heart, reminding me that I once admired this man for his skills and his knowledge. If I let my jealousy and inadequate feelings get the better of me, it would poison our marriage. So I worked on praising my husband instead of looking down on myself whenever he proved to be more knowledgeable than me.

I feel I’ve become a better person and a better wife for taking on this new attitude. On Saturday I was able to pass that little lesson on to my husband. It’s amazing how that works. We might not have had that conversation at all if it weren’t for those “No Target Shooting” signs, so I’m thankful for them.