Taking a big Leap

take a leapMy mind was officially blown two weeks ago when I received an offer to publish my book. I didn’t quite believe it was real. I waited to tell everyone but until I knew for sure it wasn’t a bogus offer or the subtle offer to publish at my own expense (and as any hard-working author would agree- Never!) I self-published and it wasn’t as easy as everyone thinks.  When I received this offer I was hesitant.

When I first started writing (in 2009) it was to distract myself from my own pain. I wanted to fantasize about anything other than what I was feeling. No one really know about my private life because I didn’t share it and if I did, it was bits and pieces or I lied altogether but everyone could attest to the fact I was stuffing my face for some reason. They just didn’t know what.

In the midst of all this, a friend of mine told me to write the story of my life – for those who know me, it seems I am easily swayed by ‘friends’ – in truth, they can get me to do anything!  Just ask Karen! I got tased for a t-shirt! – My friend believed it would make a good book but when I started writing an auto-biographical story I would have gladly drilled a hole in my own head than continue writing. I was bored with my own story!  I’ve had an interesting life, I admit that, but reading it line for line, year for year it was killing me so after some thought I came up with Lara. She enabled me to relive my past enough to relay my feelings into my writing but not enough to plunge me back into my earlier depression.

Some people ask me what kind of books I write. I’m not really sure how to explain them. They are semi-autobiographical but I throw in some suspense with a little bit of mystery and wrap it all up with a happy ending.  Some authors start out writing romance novels (Iris Johansen) and other authors know their genre and write little else (Stephen King), I don’t know my genre yet. I want to complete the Lara Martin series and then write something different. What it will be I don’t really know but I’m excited to see what it is.

We are done with negotiations and I have signed the contracts. I have a deadline now.  It still blows me away! I was proud of myself when I completed Secret of the Kings and I certainly accomplished something when I wrote One Step Closer and followed up with Through the Darkness and published online, but in my mind (and probably others) I wasn’t a real author until I was picked up by a publishing company. I can now stand on the mountain tops and shout that it is real and it is happening!!

My sister says I’ve been writing all my life and it’s true. So let’s just see how far I can go!

If you’d like to read my books, follow the link below:

http://dmlvanheest.wordpress.com/

Disabled or Daring?

COL GadsonI got to meet a very impressive man today. His name is COL Gadson and he is currently serving as the Garrison Commander at Fort Belvoir, VA. In addition to this, he played football for West Point and looks like the toughest guy I wouldn’t want to meet in any alley! He is also a Wounded Warrior having lost his legs in Baghdad. I, of course, didn’t know this. I just recognized him from the movie ‘Battleship’ and asked for his autograph.

I was blown away by his accomplishments before and after the injury. He is an advocate for people with disabilities. I am not disabled but I have a very good friend who is, Anne. She is an inspiration having been born with Spina Bifida. She had to suffer surgery after surgery when she was younger and spent half her youth in hospitals. I can’t imagine what she’s gone through. But she’s not disabled, she’s daring! Today she can walk but who wants to walk when you can ride? She owns a Segway and you can see her racing up and down the hallways of the Army Materiel Command any day of the week.

When she tried to board the metro using her Segway she was almost arrested. Her case along with many others were key in reforming the WMATA. New guidelines have been established making it legal and safe for handicap people using Segways to enter the metro. She is awesome! If you’d like to read more about her read the article in the Washington Post:

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-257254.html

How best to show my gratification for our friendship than by placing her in my book as one of the main characters, Gina Grails. Which is why I asked COL Gadson to sign a copy of my book. It was great meeting him and it’s an honor knowing people like him and Anne- so brave in their every day challenges!

Fear and the Well

rock bottomIt’s amazing to me how much fear holds us back. Fear of not fitting in, fear of being viewed as different, fear of rejection, fear of failure and fear that someone else’s opinion will change who you are. I think I lost my fear when my life hit the dirt.

Being in a well of depression is just that, it’s a well and you’re down there all alone (it feels like it). I think depression is the number one silent killer. No one knows you’re suffering until it’s too late. I also think that the things that define us are also the things that separate us from others– No one could understand what I’m going through so why bother trying to explain it or if they knew the ‘real me’ they wouldn’t like me anymore. I have every reason in the world why I don’t share my feelings with others but the truth is it’s an Excuse. I can keep punishing myself and keep trying to make that well my home. I was afraid to hope. I was afraid to try.

Some people don’t want to leave the well. They are content to be alone with their pain and misery and honestly don’t want people intruding on their very own, private space. They’ve grown comfortable in the gloom and walking topside no longer appeals to them. They look at others in resentment and view life in bitter jealousy. A very small part probably wishes they could leave but it’s overshadowed by the dark they’ve grown used to. You can’t help these people because they don’t want help. When I closed my eyes and said, Lead and I will follow they laughed because the very idea of shedding their despair is ridiculous. Their pain makes them who they are and that’s their biggest fear. That underneath the pain and sorrow, underneath the anger on why this happened to them in the first place, and underneath hurt they’re just like everybody else. No longer separated by their despair, no longer special, no longer different.

I am happy to leave the well. Sometimes I’m not sure I trust what I see– did something good really just happen to me? But each step I take I grow more confident. On my journey I lost everything but I found something too, I find ME.

I don’t have your answers the only answers I have are my own. Where ever you are– in twilight or down in that dark hole- I hope you have the courage to try. I hope when the sun burns away your last tears of anguish you’ll see what we’ve seen all along. We see you……and we like what we see!

a very big But

big butts 1There’s good news out there but for me, it often comes in two parts. You know when someone says, I like  your hair but, or you play the piano really well but – “but” always implies there’s something bad coming.

I’m a writer and I’ve been writing pretty steadily for the past four years. I write because I love telling stories and my latest book, “One Step Closer” is about my story.  There are some of us that go through divorce and then there are some of  us that go through something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I went through a divorce, then a terrible custody battle and Lara Martin, my character in “One Step Closer”, is the result.

My good news came in the form of an email from an editor. I usually get the standard email, “though your work is creative and unique, we feel your book is not a good fit for us, blah blah blah and no thank you” but this time with the usual email, she sent me a personal note!  She said I have an original story with a good hook but it is too descriptive and bogged down with characters not important to the story. Don’t tell the story, ‘show’ the story. Use active verbs and cut, cut, cut. Get a free-lance editor, rewrite and we will be glad to consider it again.

Hmmm, now I do not have a literary education. I have not been schooled in how to write other than English in high school and college both of which I know I didn’t pass with flying colors. I thought writing was ‘telling’ a story. I have no idea what ‘showing’ means.  Was I using passive verbs? What characters weren’t important? All of them, I feel, add value to my tale. She suggests to cut but what if I cut the wrong thing? My book is now a big ol’ mess.

You know what I need?  I need a free-lance editor!  LOL I thought they would help me with those streamline critiques now I’m back to the drawing board. Between you and me, if you liked my first book you’ll Love my second, “Through the Darkness”. I’ve sold twice as many copies in less amount of time.

I wish editors acquired writers through benefit of the doubt. I’m a diamond in the rough and hopefully someone will take a chance on me. It was good news, no doubt, but it was good news with a very big But!

http://dmlvanheest.wordpress.com/