Finding My Inner Hypocrite

ImageToday I would like to continue talking about the magnificent Moonlight and Magnolias conference held in Atlanta last weekend.

The second workshop I attended was about not letting fear win by Maggie Montgomery. As soon as I walked in I realized two things, Maggie wasn’t your average writer, and I was going to love this workshop. Maggie is a fun person with a wild sense of humor. And she is an amazing speaker who kicked my butt out of the doldrums and into my writers chair.

The first point Maggie made was if what you fear can’t get you killed, incarcerated, or committed, it’s manageable. And you can probably work around the those last two if you have to. Wow. And she’s right. She used our own examples to show us the truth in the words. And somewhere along the line I realized I was looking at writing as second rate over a “real” job. Yikes! That made me a hypocrite—and I hate hypocrites. She put things in a different perspective, that’s for sure. And here I am, at my desk, writing my little heart out.

Thank you, Maggie. I owe you.

 

Cheryel 

Moonlight & Magnolias Conference

Dancing on Saturday night

Moonlight & Magnolias is an amazing writers conference. Held in Atlanta every year, M&M is thrown by Georgia Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to attend the last three M&M’s.

This year’s M&M opened with a surprise. Two friends I hadn’t seen in forever were there. But that’s not the big surprise was when they told me how well they were doing as indie authors. And that set the theme for the rest of the conference.

For those who don’t know, “Indie” is short for independent. Indie authors don’t depend on publishers. They self publish via Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Smashwords, etc. They , and they alone, are responsible for doing or having someone do the editing, formatting, cover art, and all the other tasks that publishers have traditionally provided for authors.

The first workshop I attended was with Nina Bruhns (AKA Nikita Black), who told us all about Indie publishing and how she is doing better with indie than with a traditional New York publisher. From there on, the talk was all about income streams and how having several titles available—regardless of the path to publication—was the way to making money in this business. Discoverability is the key–how to get readers to notice your book in the vast ocean of books out there.

It was a lot to take in. And a lot to think about. But you, the readers will be the winners in the end. More choices, books that might never have been published will be out there. And let me tell you, some of them are amazing.

Would you buy a book that you knew was indie published? Would you publish one? Are there types of books you’d like to read, but can’t find—or can’t find enough of?

Have a great week!
Cheryel

Don’t Be Blinded; Use Science

 

What is science? It’s noticing what’s going on in the world and trying to understand what the scientist sees. A scientist notices something and after doing research and putting together the known facts, she makes an educated guess, an hypothesis. If this hypothesis stands up to further research and is replicated by other scientists, her hypothesis can become a theory. Theories then are built upon and altered by further knowledge.

For example, cell theory: the theory that living bodies are made up of tiny cells. Anyone can look in a microscope and see that this theory is indeed a fact. So, why not call it fact? Because even though we’ve known since the 1600’s that bodies (animal and plant) are made of cells, the theory is constantly being built upon. How cells work and replicate is not simple. The DNA at the heart of every cell has only recently been discovered (1953), much less understood. And there will likely be more understanding as time goes on.

Science is like life. For instance, I observe our coworker’s attitude toward us. I form an hypothesis that the coworker doesn’t like me. I speak to a friend whose observations back up my hypothesis. So I form a theory that my coworker doesn’t like me. Later, I find that the coworker recently lost a loved one and her attitude towards me wasn’t because she didn’t like me, but that she was grieving and I reminded her of her loved one. Theory busted.

I admit I love science. Had my life taken a different turn, I would be working as a scientist right now. But life is life, and I am doing something else that I love just as much (maybe more), writing.

What do you love? Are you doing that for a living? Has your life taken a unexpected turn and something good came from it?

Have a wonderful week!
Cheryel

Going on Anyway

My mom, my daughter, and my grandson.

Losing your mother is about the hardest thing in the world. Yes, there are harder things, but I don’t want to even think about them. I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer on June 2nd, and losing her was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.

 
At first there was a big empty space in my middle, and now there is a big ball of grief and pain. I have to let it out slowly, or I believe it would blow me apart. So slowly, carefully, I’m allowing my pain to rise to the surface and move outside my body. Writing about her is one way, and this blog is part of that.

 
I know it’s a cliché, but it is hard to believe life goes on. I have to live my life. Mom would want that. I want to continue to write and publish, because Mom would want that too. She was so proud I was published. So now, in spite of my desire to go hole up in a cave and pretend to be a bear, I must go on. I’m writing and submitting and hope to have some good news to share soon. And I believe Mom is proud of me. I’m certainly proud of her.

 
I miss you Mom. You’re my hero.

Love is Fragile

 

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My mom and her great-grandchildren

Parents tend to talk about how they missed out on parts of their children’s lives. How they were too busy, or too whatever. I understand; I wish I could have spent every minute of every day with my beautiful daughters. Today, though, I would like to turn this sentiment on its head. 

We expect our parents to be there forus. When we’re young, we take them for granted. When we’re older, we get busy with our families and careers and all the minutia of life. Then one day, we discover the hard way that parents are fragile humans.

For me, it was when my stepfather was in a horrible accident that I discovered just how fragile life is. He wasn’t expected to live, and when it became obvious he would, we were told he’d need 24/7 care the rest of his life. We never lost hope, and turns out the doctors were wrong. He isn’t as strong as he was, and his memory isn’t great, but he’s still him. And I realized how much I love him.

That was a horrible time, but the worst was yet to come. Recently my mom went to the doctor about some seemingly minorpains in her side. Suddenly the world turned upside down. Pancreatic cancer. Metastasized to the liver. It’s almost a month later, and I still can’t really comprehend. Something precious is leaving my life.

My mom and I haven’t always had the best of relationships, but we’ve always loved each other. Now, when we’ve finally found some peace, some place where we can be together and just be. Now she’s going away. I could whine it isn’t fair, but life rarely is. Thankfully, I have some time. I can be there and tell her I love her.

Enjoy being with those you love. They are each precious, wonderful pieces of your life.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to tell a story about a couple who, in my opinion, live a romance novel life. The couple, by the way, happens to be my wonderful husband and me.

Several years ago, we both returned to school at about the same time, taking classes at our local community college. We spoke once, saw each other across campus fairly regularly, but we never really connected. Though it turns out each of us was attracted by the other.

A year or so later, I was taking some outpatient therapy at a rehabilitation hospital. I was waiting to be called back, when I saw this handsome man rolling past me. It was that guy from the college. I had time to think how nobody like that would talk to me.

He stopped, rolled his wheelchair backwards, and pulled up beside me. He remembered me from the college too. We started talking. He invited me to a group for adults who use wheelchairs (both of us did at that time). I went, and we talked. I invited him to go with me to watch my daughter perform for a small town TV station program. I was so proud of her when I saw the expression on his face. I knew he didn’t believe she could really sing. But she’s incredible (I know I’m prejudiced, but she is!)

We talked for hours on the phone, and he began going with me to my daughter’s performances. At a community picnic, sparks literally flew when we touched each other. I thought that was just something romance writers made up. Nope. It can happen.

I told him I wasn’t interested in a relationship. He just nodded and proceeded to make me fall head over heels for him.

When he asked me to marry him, I was thrilled. Our wedding was one of the happiest days of my life.
No, things don’t go smoothly all the time. We’ve had more than our shares of problems. But we’re better together than alone. Oddly, or maybe not, all my writing success has been since I’ve been with him. I think our relationship is magical.

But what would you expect from a leprechaun and an alien with a dragon for a muse?

Have a sweet and special day!
Cheryel

Barely Awake

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Yawn. Oh, hi there! I’m sticking my head out of my cave. I want so very badly to hibernate until spring, but unfortunately, I’m not a bear. All right, no remarks from the peanut gallery regarding excess body hair. Or my growling. I’m a human, not a bear.

Here we are, stuck in the middle of the week where everyone plays with newly acquired material possessions as we look toward the new year. There it is, just ahead of us, bright and shiny and full of possibilities. Now if I could just sleep through the first couple of months.

Oh well, I’m stuck here in the world like the rest of humanity. So, let’s get this party started. Forget the usual resolution stuff. What is something fun, crazy, off the wall that you’ve always thought about doing, but never took the time to actually do? Come on, hang gliding? Jumping out of an airplane? Getting a pet iguana? Going to Alaska for a vacation? Buying an over-the-top pair of shoes, the kind of shoes you think are awesome, but didn’t think were you?

Come on, there’s something, isn’t there? Let’s all come up with something. Then do it. It’ll be fun!

Have a great rest of the year!
Cheryel

Protect the Children

Even though this is extremely hard for me to talk about, I’m going to put my 2 cents into the Penn State uproar. It’s too bad their football program is taking a hit. It’s too bad a famous coach was fired for covering up a crime, but let us not forget the victims here. Those children who will have to live with the horror of what was done to them for the rest of their lives. The adults in this case made their own decisions, and they put the football program ahead of children.

The athletic programs at major universities, particularly the basketball and football programs, are major sources of income. That’s why these programs are so important. Like most things in today’s world, it all comes down to money. While hopefully none of these adults would have taken part in selling children to the highest bidder, what they did basically comes down to the same thing.

In 2002, a graduate student witnessed Jerry Sandusky raping a child. This rape took place on university property (locker room showers). This student, instead of dialing 911, went to the head coach Joe Paterno the next morning (he now says he reported the crime, but the police deny it—somebody decided on inaction). Paterno didn’t call the police. Instead, he waited another day before he met with Tim Curley, athletic director and Gary Schultz, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business they chose not to call the police. Instead they met with the graduate student a week and a half later and the matter was essentially dropped (Sandusky was told not to bring kids to the locker rooms). Gary Schultz recently retired, and he and Paterno are getting great retirement benefits.

The grand jury report reads like a horror story. Incident after incident reported and ignored or actively covered up. for instance, a janitor saw Sandusky performing oral sex on a child (11-13 years old) back in 2000. He was afraid of being fired, but he did tell his superior. This incident was never reported .

This whole horrible story is just one more time that a child’s welfare was completely ignored. This time, it was for money. Sometimes it’s to “keep a family together” or embarrassment—somebody is afraid of what the neighbors will think.

I said in the beginning that this blog was very hard for me. It’s hard because I’m a survivor of sexual abuse. I was abused by both a close family member and a family “friend”. I could write my own horror story here, but I won’t. Both abusers are dead now, so it’s up to God to decide what happens to them. The reason I began to speak out in the first place (many years ago) is because sexual abuse is a hidden crime. Most victims don’t tell, of those who do, few see their abusers punished. It’s a horrible thing, and it won’t get better until we as adults speak openly about it, make others admit what it does to its victims, stop covering for the perpetrators, punish those who hurt children.

We have to protect the children.