Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Heartfelt Story of Loss

I know I said yesterday that I was not going to be writing about grief issues for a while, but I just read this blog by a writer friend who recently lost her husband, and I thought people who have experienced the same kind of loss would benefit from reading her story. The hardest thing to do when someone we love dies, is learn how to live without them. We have to make a decision to try, and that is what Beth Anderson, known affectionately as Hotclue does. Here is the link to her blog. It is well worth the read.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Taking a New Direction

For six or seven months now, I have been focusing pretty much on grief issues here, and I may get back to that in a while. But for now, I think I will use this space to share anecdotes about my promotional efforts for my two new books.

Promoting and marketing are not areas where I consider myself an expert - or even very experienced - so I may be stumbling along here at times. But the good thing is that I am not alone. No author is alone on the Internet. There are so many places for authors to connect, promote, share marketing ideas that it boggles the mind.

It can also consume hours, and I have had to decide which places I want to stick with and which ones have to go. That has proven to be a tough call, as most of the sites and lists are filled with the nicest people.

Two lists I will stick with for sure are blogbooktours and murdermustadvertise

And I will still hang around at Wicked Company because I've been there for years and reading the posts is like going down to the corner and meeting friends at the tavern.

I haven't joined MySpace yet, but I am on Xanga , Crimespace and I've just joined Twitter

That one is all the rage right now, and I like it because you only post a short comment. That I can do more regularly than write a blog.

Anyway, I hope those of you who have been following this blog will check back now and then to see what is going on with my book promoting. It all starts this coming Saturday with the official Launch Party at the Trails Country Centre For the Arts in Winnsboro, Texas. Then Sunday I am off to Houston to be at Katy Budget Books for a signing from 3-5pm.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Denial Isn't Always Good

A recent “Dear Abby” column dealt with the issue of whether a father should force his teenage son to attend his mother’s funeral. The teen said he would rather remember his mother the way she was, and the father was unsure about pressing the issue. A responder said he had been forced at age 19 to attend his mother’s funeral and that the experience “did not bring closure, but additional trauma.”

I’ve mulled this over for almost two weeks, trying to find a response that might make sense and not be judgmental or disrespectful to the young men. My first reaction was total amazement that they would not want to attend their mothers’ funerals. Yes, it’s painful. Lots of emotions all over the place, but gosh, the women gave them life. That’s got to mean something.

Over time, another realization has hit. Not going to the funeral gives a person a way to avoid some of the tougher parts of the grieving process. It’s part of denial. And while denial can sometimes be a perfectly acceptable mechanism to cope with trauma, I don’t think it is the right call here.

The impulse not to go to a funeral to avoid the trauma is akin to saying, “The only feeling I had when my mother died after a long, painful illness, was relief. I couldn’t be sad because I knew she is in a better place.”

Pardon my bluntness, but that is hogwash. Sure, the dominating feeling might be relief and a bit of happiness that she is no longer suffering, but that has to be tinged with sadness. This person is gone, leaving a huge hole in our lives and it is only natural that we are sad about that. To say otherwise is denial, and if we don’t deal with those feelings they will find a way to eat away at us physically and emotionally.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My "Bucket List"

It’s been said that the people with the fewest regrets in life are the ones who are most able to let go of that life when the time comes. I certainly found that true in my years of working with terminal patients in the hospital and in hospice, so I have been making a concentrated effort to eliminate regret from my life. Not that I am facing imminent death – at least not that I know of – but in preparation of the inevitable. After all, time does not march backwards.

In the spirit of the movie, “The Bucket List,” I have started checking off things that I always wanted to do. As I wrote in an earlier blog on this subject, my list started with having my small farm and playing farmer as long as I can. I'm still doing that, and this weekend I checked another item off my list.

I’ve always wanted to go on a trail ride, and even though I have owned horses on and off in my lifetime, I have never been able to go on a trail ride for one reason or another. So I told my kids and my husband that is what I wanted to do for my 65th birthday. Last Friday – yes, I’m “Yankee Doodle Dandy” – six of us went to a nearby dude ranch and spent the morning riding through 800 acres of beautiful East Texas pines and meadows.

I’m not going to idealize the experience. While it was wonderful to be in the saddle, riding a very pretty appaloosa gelding who had the nicest slow trot, it was hot and dusty and sweaty, and three days later I still have muscles screaming at me for riding so long. (Some of these are muscles I never even knew I had.) But it was fun and especially meaningful because I shared it with some of my kids and their spouses who all make me feel incredibly loved. Going horseback riding is probably not high on their Bucket Lists – if it is even on them at all – and they all did it for me.

And as an added bonus, I got to check off another item on my list. At one point we were riding a trail with the trees on one side and the open meadow on the other. One of my daughters said, “Mom, you should take a run across that meadow.” So I did, and I was so thankful that she remembered the time we were driving past a beautiful hay meadow with gently rolling hills and I said, “Every time I pass a meadow like this I think of how much fun it would be to gallop a horse across it.”

Thank goodness young people have better memories than some older people.