Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Muddling Through Grief

If you know me or follow me on Facebook, you know that my grandpa was killed last week in a tragic car accident. I'll admit that up until now, it's been as if a giant bubble has surrounded my family, protecting us from accidents and disease. As a result, I haven't had to deal with the kind of grief that comes from the sudden death of a loved one. My family has been working through grief for the past week and as we have, I've been struck by several thoughts on the grieving process: 
  • During extreme tragedy, time stands still. Most weeks seem to fly by, but last week, I believe I felt each second. I lost track of days, was unaware of day/night, and time blurred.
  • Knowing that others are thinking of you and praying for you really does help. I'd always wondered if it mattered when I would tell those who'd lost loved ones that I was praying for them. Now I know that it does. A well-timed phone call, text, or email can lift the spirit.
  • Flowers are comforting. When I walked into the viewing room for the first time on Friday night at the visitation, the first thing I saw was a spray of beautiful flowers from my co-workers. At that very difficult moment, those flowers brought me comfort.
  • I can't imagine going through something like we've gone through without having a strong faith in God.
  • Sometimes, Taps being played is the saddest sound in the whole world--but seeing that flag folded and handed to my grandmother was a special moment.
I had the honor of speaking at Grandpa's funeral. If you knew him, you know he was a great orator. I tried my best to do him proud. Here are a few points I made:
  • This week, many people have tried to describe Grandpa, and it seems that the best description is he was one-of-a-kind. He was like Superman, Davy Crockett and the Dog Whisperer, all rolled into one. If I can find a man like Grandpa, I’ll marry him on the spot.
  • As we’ve been together this week, we’ve all remarked that people who know us have heard us tell tales of him, even if they never met him. A man who hunted barefoot and played sports as well as any professional. My grandpa is a legend.
  • For those of us blessed enough to be part of his family, he helped define us. I’ve spent my life being “Pudge Pearle’s Oldest Granddaughter”—and proud of it.
Through all of this, I have come to understand that grieving is a process. It is difficult to speak of him in past tense, and the sight of his empty recliner brings tears to my eyes every time I see it. But at the same time, I am so thankful for the time we had with him. Two days before his accident, I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to drive to Arkansas for the day. I stayed at my grandparents' house until nearly 8 that night. Grandpa and I talked about the 5K race I'd just run, my upcoming book signing, and what was going on in my life. He was so proud. The hug, kiss, and "I love you" that we shared before I walked out the door is one I will never forget and I am so thankful for it.

And now I am struck by the thought that there are others in my life who I need to make sure know how I feel about them. Because you never know when a goodbye might be your last one. I resolve to make them count and hope you'll do the same.

Please continue to pray for my family--we so appreciate it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Giveaways and Signings!

I promise to do a post soon on the wonder that was the Elvis 5K. But first, I have a few odds and ends to share!

First of all, I'm doing a book signing on Saturday, August 21, from 11 - 1 at one of the LifeWay Stores here in Memphis. I'll be at the one across from the Wolfchase Galleria, in the Commons. If you're familiar with Memphis, the Commons is the shopping center that has Old Navy. If you live near Memphis, I would LOVE for you to come by! And if you have friends in Memphis, please help me spread the word--you can direct them to my author page on Facebook for more information.

Now for some book giveaway information:

I did an interview last week on Barb's Author Interviews and if you'll go check out the interview and leave a comment on her blog, you'll be entered to win a copy of Love is Monumental. Check it out here, and I think you have until the end of August to comment.

Also, I noticed through Google alerts that my Amish book, Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio, is being offered in a giveaway by another blogger. Looks like on that one, you'll have the chance to win a copy of Carla Stewart's Chasing Lilacs as well. Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

At Least I Have My Writing

Life as a writer definitely has ups and downs. But when you're living your dream, it is hard to be down for too long. Right now, I'm working on new projects in the hopes of having a new contract very soon. My next book releases in October...and hopefully there will be more after that.

I'm working on a variety of things right now. Another contemporary romance series, this one set in Memphis. A couple of very southern women's fiction stand alones. Another Amish stand alone. A romantic suspense series. And the list goes on.

I'm plotting and thinking and constantly writing down new ideas. This is part of the process that I really enjoy. Although once I have a new contract, I will enjoy it with a little more security. :)

I'm often asked to give advice for aspiring writers. One of the things I always say is that I think to be good writers, we need to be well read. And as someone who spent the past year and a half on tight deadlines, I'm kind of enjoying getting to read a little bit more. My "to be read" pile grew by leaps and bounds this past year, and I'm trying to work through it.

On my short list though: Love Remains by Kaye Dacus, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Passage by Justin Cronin, Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner, and The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb.

Right now, though, I'm re-reading Eat, Pray, Love before I see the movie. This is one of the few books I've ever actually highlighted passages in. Some favorite quotes:

"I'm lucky that at least I have my writing."

"There are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. How much do you love me? and Who's in charge? Everything else is somehow manageable."

“In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding that they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place”

"I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism."

"Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it's what you want before you commit."
"...traveling is the great true love of my life."
And there are so many more. I highly recommend reading this one! I'm hoping the movie will be just as good, but experience tells me the book will be better. :)
How about you? What are you reading these days? Any recommendations?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Becoming a Runner

I'm one of those people--you know the type--who tends to run from conflict. When there are tough things that need to be dealt with, I'd rather ignore them in hopes that they'll go away. In other words, I internalize everything.

This can cause problems sometimes. :)

A few years ago, everyone in my workplace had to take personality tests to find out how we related to one another. My type was "most likely to go postal" because we let things build up and didn't tell people when things bothered us. (don't worry...I don't really think I'm going to be going postal anytime soon!)

But these days, I'm doing a different kind of running. The actual put-on-my-running-shoes-and-go kind of running. And I have a love/hate relationship with it.

I'm about to start my fifth week of training in the couch to 5K program. If it weren't for this program--and the get running iPhone app that I'm using, there is no way I'd have made it this far.

There are days when it is really hard. All I can think about is stopping. But I don't. I keep going, because I know how good it feels when I'm done. There is a very honest kind of satisfaction that comes from completing the training runs.

The 5K I'm training for is coming up in September...but I'm actually going to run in one just for fun in 2 weeks. The Elvis Presley Run, Walk, Rock & Roll that starts and ends at the gates of Graceland. Ha ha! Even if I end up walking more than I run in that one, it's okay. I've heard that some people dress up like Elvis for the race--that's reason enough for me to run--just to see a bunch of Elvis lookalikes running around. Perhaps I can work that into a book somehow...


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