Tag Archives: Family

What Could Possibly Be More Important to a New Author Than Marketing?

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Life is an emotional journey. If you’ve read my bio, you already know I believe this. But what exactly does that mean?

To me, it means we need to embrace life, feel each moment as we live it.

Some of those emotions are wonderful. Some are painful. But we need to experience the bad times in order to appreciate the good. Right? Otherwise, how would we know the difference?

As an author, I imagine how my characters would feel in each scene—how I would feel in their place. When I write, I hope to bring those emotions to life so the reader can experience the moment along with my characters. Feel the moment.

The emotions I write are real, but the stories are made up. Fiction. In reality, I’m a private person and rarely share details from my personal life.

This week I’m making an exception, because some emotions are too strong to be contained to one aspect of my life. And in this particular case, my personal life has had a major impact on my journey as an author.

Last month I celebrated the release of my debut novel. Things were going as expected. I was getting great reviews, setting up spotlights, trying to make sense of all that crazy marketing stuff, and beginning to set up a team to help promote me and my book.

And, of course, I was back in the writing cave playing with my imaginary friends. (A.K.A. my characters)

Things were going good . . . and then I suddenly disappeared from public view. Why?

I’m sure there are people who thought I couldn’t find my way, couldn’t figure things out and gave up . . . faded into the abyss. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

So what happened? What could possibly be important enough to make me put all my hard work aside?

Real life . . . Family . . . An emotional avalanche.

See, putting one of my characters through fictional hell is pretty easy. Just pick a tragedy, draw on the vast supply of memories I’ve collected over the years to find something similar, then let the pain flow to the page.

Actually living through those rough times in real life? Not so easy.

It’s been almost a month since my brother went into the hospital for a scheduled surgical procedure with the expectation he’d be back home three days later. Things didn’t go as planned. Post-operative complications led to a mistake that has left him fighting for his life, a battle he has yet to win.

His pain is physical. Mine is emotional. But we share the same fear—the realistic possibility that this story may not have a happy ending.

Despite that, I need to stay strong. I am the one my brother leans on. The one comforting him and hoping my words of encouragement are somehow getting through. I am his advocate—the one fighting for his rights and pushing his medical team for solutions. I am the one responsible for decisions about his care and treatment.

By the time I leave the hospital each night, there’s nothing left inside to give to my characters. Spreading the word about my fictional book seems insignificant under the weight of my real-life drama. Thoughts of interacting on social media are unwanted and easily pushed aside.

Back at home, I crawl into bed for another night of prayers and restless sleep.

I hate the situation we’re in—it shouldn’t have happened—but I don’t regret the role I’ve accepted or the sacrifices I’ve made. We all have priorities, and this is mine.

There is one core value I’ve always taken pride in upholding, the one I’ve worked so hard to instill in my sons.

Family first. Nothing is more important.

Whatever the outcome, this will all be stored away in my collection of memories; and one day it will surely fuel a powerful scene or even become the premise of a fictional story. But for now, it is an all-consuming agony. A harsh reality.

A test of my strength and determination.

I may have fallen—or been knocked down—but I’ll get back up. I am a writer, and my (emotional) journey continues. ~CJ

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The Joy of Christmas Distractions

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I love Christmas: the traditions, the decorations, the scents, and the general feeling of cheer that emerges all around.

For my family, the holiday season begins with a trip to the tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition we began over twenty years ago, when my sons were toddlers. I have so many fond memories of snowball battles, playing hide-and-seek, and chasing the dog as we spent hours searching for the perfect tree.

Our trip always ended with giant mugs of hot chocolate to warm us from our time out in the cold.

Later that evening we’d decorate the tree as a family while listening to Christmas music. After our sons were in bed, my husband and I would snuggle together on the couch to watch White Christmas by the light of the tree.

My sons are grown and living out of state now, but we still manage to keep the tradition alive to some degree . . . usually with the aid of modern technology.

FullSizeRender 5Christmas is also the only time of the year that my house is actually decorated—it’s something I’ve never acquired a knack for, so I usually settle for more of a minimalistic approach. Every year I look forward to unpacking one special box. It contains my favorite collection affectionately named The Snowman Family by my family. I’ve amassed quite a collection of the adorable little guys over the years, and seeing them always makes me smile.

But . . . as much as I love my snowmen, my most prized decoration is a gift my sons made for me when they were eleven and nine—a wooden Santa, personalized with our names and the year. They secretly dug into my hobby supplies and tools (not the power tools, thankfully) and followed the steps they’d learned from watching me . . .  it really touched me, because I never realized how closely they paid attention to what I did and enjoyed.

To my eyes, their creation is perfect and well deserving of the most prominent spot at the center of the mantle, where it has sat every year since. It is a gift from their hearts and made with love.

This time of year can become rather stressful though, as I’m sure you already know. There is so much that needs to be done. Besides all the decorating,  there’s shopping, and wrapping.

And don’t forget about the cookies! Gotta bake cookies for Santa . . . and my sons.

There are holiday get-togethers with friends and parties  with co-workers.

And . . . of course, all of this merriment takes a lot of time. That’s a big bite out of the already insufficient time available for writing. Trying to resist it is useless—and ignoring it doesn’t work either—so I’ve given in to the holiday spirit and put writing on hold until after Christmas.

As I sit writing this post by the light of the tree, in a room filled with the warm scent of cinnamon candles, I think back over Christmases gone by—some from my childhood, but mostly of my years as a parent.

I can hear the laughter and excitement of my sons as they discovered their gifts under the tree.

I remember the years with our crazy dog, who tried to sneak downstairs for his toys more than our sons did.

And I feel the absence of loved ones who are no longer with us, but their spirits live on in my heart.

I have one wish for Christmas, and it almost didn’t come true . . . I can’t wait to have my sons back home and my family together, even if only for a few precious hours. They are the greatest gifts of my life.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness. —CJ