*** Charity Donation Completed to the ***
*** Humane Society of the United States ***
Thanks, everyone! :)
Nine months from today, my book Deliverance: Mortal Path 3 will be released. If it were a human baby, we'd be talking a few cells. Fortunately the book's further along than that! I can't tell how thrilled I am to have a title and a release date. The cover's still under wraps.
There's been a gap between books 2 and 3, one that a professional writer ordinarily doesn't have. I'd like to share with you the reason why. (Warning: grab your box of tissues or skip this post.)
One thing I never, ever believed in was writer's block. I felt that people who claimed to suffer from it were whiners who just couldn't work their way through difficult periods. I never suffered from it.
Until my sister fell ill.
She and I were very close. Yes, past tense. She was a few years older than I was and blazed a trail through childhood and being a teenager for me. She's the one who broke the news to me that there was no Santa Claus; that says a lot right there. She didn't mind taking little sis along once she got her driver's license and later on helped me sneak out of the house to meet my boyfriend. We'd lie on the floor under the Christmas tree and dream about what our lives would bring. As adults, we could practically read each other's minds. She was a fifth grade science teacher and later a teacher of the severely handicapped, saying she felt called to do it. She wanted to be a writer too, but could never seem to get started. She wanted me to write her grand idea and put her name on it. I didn't, because I thought that if I encouraged her enough, she'd write it herself. Now I wish I had helped her get her science fiction novel, The Ice Princesses, published. It came to her in a series of vivid dreams. Why was I such a stickler about it? Because I knew she could do it if she tried. I should have been more generous and less high-minded.
She had a respiratory illness (not lung cancer) that caused her to get a tracheotomy. She hated it. She couldn't talk, and I was a terrible lip reader. If we weren't on the same page so much, we would have lost communication. As it was, we couldn't talk on the phone. I got her a laptop and tried to engage her that way, but she just wasn't up to it. She bounced from hospital to nursing home (she needed more care than I could provide, for which I felt terribly guilty) to hospital and back. Six times. She coded a dozen or more times, not getting enough oxygen to her body. She was afraid to go to sleep at night, because that's when the codes happened. As hard as this was on her, it was hard on me too, though I tried not to show it.
My sister, who could coax a smile from the most reluctant child, was in pain and prayed for release. She wouldn't consider suicide because of her religion. She wanted to be moved to a hospice, but according to her doctor, her health was improved in some ways and he was still hopeful for a better, stable life for her. I was cheerful when I visited her. Sometimes she had good days.
Was I writing during these months? Not really. A paragraph or a couple of pages a day, and sometimes I had to go back and rewrite it because it was, as a writer friend of mine once described her first draft, pea-green dreck.
Faster than I could have ever thought, her ashes were in a golden cube. I'd never seen human ashes before. When scattered according to her wishes, they clung to leaves instead of sifting down to the ground as I'd thought they would. The result was a large gray circle of vegetation. We happened to be in a hot, dry period, and night after night I would think about that gray patch and hope for rain to wash her cremains to the ground. It finally happened, and suddenly I was a changed person. I was able to smile, I wrote fiercely and well, and I focused on the good memories. And all it took was a thunderstorm.
It seems a little odd to have a book giveaway after a story like that, so here's the deal. If I get thirty or more comments (you can talk about your own experiences if you wish--I'm a good listener) by July 2nd, I'll donate $50 to my sister's favorite charity, the Humane Society of the United States. Sixty comments or more, and I'll donate $100. Encourage me! It's a good cause.