An update on our family's medical drama . . .

Thursday, November 5, 2015
Lots of things going on. My cyst is gone, and so is the pain (yay!). I've discovered this medicine called Prelief, which has made my IC completely manageable. I can even eat chocolate and tomatoes again (I'll probably never be able to handle soda pop or lemonade (or coffee or alcohol, but I'm Mormon so no worries there)). It's also lessened the pain to the point where I don't hurt very often anymore. My ankle is still giving me a few problems--there's still a broken bone floating around in there that gets pinched every once in awhile. But I really, really don't want another surgery.

I just had a major breakthrough with Winter's Heir. It will require deleting about 7K words and starting over, but this will make the book SO MUCH BETTER. So in the end, it's all good.

We've found a medication for my oldest son that has made his symptoms manageable--he can stay awake and he isn't collapsing anymore. The doctors think he has a sort of transient cataplexy, which he will eventually grow out of. Not a great thing to have, but better than the horrible things like tumors and seizures and narcolepsy that the doctors were talking about. There's still a chance he won't grow out of it, but I'm trying not to focus on that.

My second son has a great teacher this year (unlike the horrible bully he had last year). His femur (where his nonossifying fibroma was) looks great, other than one leg is slightly longer than the other and his knee sometimes bothers him. We can only hope it doesn't get worse.

But here's the other thing--all the trauma my family has gone through over the last 3 years has left me struggling with depression. I have been since about January when it was really, really scary. Like suicidal scary. It was bad again last week (for good reason, my son was having major medical issues and it triggered all the trauma that we went through with my other son). The medical bills are piling up and leaving us completely overwhelmed.

I haven't really told many people about it. Partly because it's so deeply personal. Partly because it's the kind of thing that makes your curl in on yourself. Partly because sometimes people are idiots and mean.

So why write about it at all? Honestly, I'm not even sure myself. I want people like me to know they're not alone. I don't want to be alone either. And that's just kind of who I am. I have this desire for people to know the real me, free of adornments or masks.

Another reason is because someday I want my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to see this trail I've blazed before them. That it wasn't a legend or a pioneer. I was just a person, doing the best I can. And I want them to have my words.

Finally, I had an an aha moment yesterday. God doesn't "give us" our trials-they come as a natural result of living in the world we do--he's not handing out pain like poison from above. Part of the reason we're here is to learn of suffering. And God will help us through it if we let him. And in the end, all the suffering will be taken away and it will all be made right.

Realizing this has helped me let go of a lot of anger. My hope is that it will help you too.

On bras . . .

Friday, October 16, 2015
Three things:
1. Mom, do not read this post. You will be horrified and give me lectures on being lady-like, which haven't sunk in within the last 34 years so it's time to give it up as a lost cause. Let's just pretend this never happened.
2. I have no filter - well, actually, I do. But if it's funny, it gets through.
3. This post is FUNNY. It's not dirty. Make a dirty comment and I'll delete it.

Every bra has a purpose. Some are simply comfortable, some add bulk, some squish out some cleavage, and some simply try to reign things in. The best bras are the ones that can manage more than one of these feats.

But the particular bra I have in mind has only one purpose: to make your boobs disappear.

Related question, if matter can neither be created nor destroyed, where do my boobs go?

**I've had a couple people ask me what brand the bra is I love. It's a Natori. You need to be fitted for your size though if you've never done that before. They do it at Nordstrom. And honestly, people's bodies are so different you need to try them on to find one that fits you. If you already know your size and favorite style, you can order online.

On Finding Joy

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
I specifically remember two years ago trying to finish up Witch Fall and feeling overwhelmed. There simply weren't enough hours in the day. I had a four-year old daughter still at home all day, as well as two other young children. My husband had a demanding job and was gone much of the time, leaving me to raise kids and write books mostly alone.

Life was hard, and it was about to get worse. My son started suffering some serious health problems. So I quit writing. A few months later, he was better(ish) and I was behind. Then he was worse than before for six months and I was even more behind. This went on for over two years.

During that time, we moved to another state, leaving my support system behind. I had no friends. I broke my ankle and had major surgery, with a difficult recovery and lots of complications. But I still had this dream - to be a successful author. So I did what I thought was necessary. I made sacrifices. I stayed up late. I stopped hanging out with my friends. I multitasked - every moment of my day was packed.  I stopped relaxing. I stopped exercising. I stopped enjoying the simple pleasures of life. All I did was work.

My career had finally started taking off. I was making good money and people were loving my books. But while it did bring me moments of happiness, it did not make me happy. I was miserable, and guilty for feeling miserable. My husband finally had a job he enjoyed. All my publishing goals were FINALLY getting crossed of the list. My kids were doing well. We'd finally managed to wrangle ourselves into the middle-class. My son was healed and finally, finally climbing out of the depression his broken body had left him.

But my life had become a drudgery, marching myself mercilessly from one task to the next. I got seriously depressed. Like, scary depressed. I felt like I couldn't relax, that I was simply waiting for the next crisis to hit. I shut down. Emotionally and physically, I was a mess. I knew my life was imbalanced, as I know how important a balanced life is. In my Fairy Queens Series, there's this belief in the Balance - that everything has its opposite. Light and dark. Love and hate. Winter and summer. If the balance is thrown off, chaos ensues.

So it is with our own lives. Work, relaxation, nourishing our spiritual side, and joy need to coexist. Achieving our dreams cannot come at the expense of our happiness.

I went to my doctor and got on some medication. And while the scary depression lifted, I still wasn't happy. It wasn't until I was riding horses at my dad's ranch that I finally felt joy again. And then I lost it. I wasn't sure why or how to get it back. I only knew it was gone. Then we had some friends visit us and we went hiking. I found that joy again. And then, after 13 years, I finally had all my kids in school and had a few hours to actually write.

It was then that I realized that while writing used to bring me that kind of joy, it doesn't anymore. I still love doing it, and I can't imagine a life where I don't write and publish books. But somewhere along the way it became my job instead of my release. I have to find other things to bring joy into my life. For me, that's nature. It's saying yes to experiences and no to cramming more work into my life (blog posts, scavenger hunts, box sets, marketing classes). It's saying, "I don't work in the summers. I play with my kids."
Find the things that bring you joy and protect them fiercely.
I'm not saying I have this thing called balance down yet - some lessons have to be learned and relearned throughout our lifetimes. But to those of you who are like me (overachievers), I want you to know that you should never give up the great things for the good things.  Stop trying so hard to be great. Stop pushing yourself to be perfect. Just be.

All my love,

{Release Day} Of Fire and Ash/Daring Hearts

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Of Ice and Snow

Released exclusively in the Daring Hearts Box Set

Otec thought destiny forgot him…

The middle child of the clanchief, Otec is the overlooked son in an overflowing house. He dreams of escape and adventure, so when a mysterious stranger offers both, he doesn’t need persuading. But when his faraway village comes under attack, Otec will do anything to save the people he loves. Cut off from his nation, he must trust a foreign woman with a dubious past as they race to save his clan. But nothing is what it seems, and Otec may have to trust his enemy if he is to become the leader he was never meant to be.

Destiny is not always kind.
For a limited time, 99 cents. After Aug. 24th, the price goes up. After August 30th, the Daring Hearts Box Set disappears forever.

The authors are trying to hit the NYT Bestseller list with this box set, so please oh please share on social media!

#Release Day Of Fire & Ash by  in the Daring Hearts Box Set-14  for    

Daring Hearts Box Set *9 New Novels + 5 Bonus Books .99       

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{Sneak Peek} Of Ice and Snow

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Excerpt from Of Ice and Snow:

Otec pushed aside some brush and saw a figure bent over something. Even at fifteen strides away, he could see that the face was fine featured with deeply tanned skin, enormous brown eyes, and thick black hair.
He knew two things at once. First, this wasn’t a man as he’d first suspected—but a woman wearing men’s clothing and sporting hair so short it barely touched her ears. And second, she was a foreigner. What was a foreigner doing on the edge of the Shyle forest?
She was close to Otec’s own age of twenty, and she was almost pretty, in a boyish sort of way. But what intrigued him most was how engrossed she was in what she was doing, the tip of her pink tongue rubbing against her bottom lip, and her brows furrowed in concentration.
That concentration stirred something inside him, an uncanny sense of familiarity. Something about the forward bend of her head, the intensity of her gaze, sparked a deep recognition. He shouldn’t be watching her—should be moving the sick lamb to the village, but he couldn’t seem to take his eyes away. Eager to see what she was doing, Otec moved as close as he dared, coming to the edge of the shadows and peering at her from behind a tree.
A sheet of vellum was tacked to a board on her lap. Her hands were delicate, beautiful even, as her fingers worked a bit of charcoal in what seemed a choreographed variation of long and short strokes. Bit by bit, the drawing began to take shape. It was of Otec’s village, which was spread out below them. Surrounded by the crimson and gold of autumn, Shyleholm was nestled deep in the high mountain valley. This foreign woman had somehow managed to capture the feel of the centuries-old stones, cut from the mountains by glaciers, rounded and polished for decades before they were pulled from the rivers by Otec’s ancestors.
She had depicted the neat, tidy fields of hay set up against the harsh winters, even managing to give a hint of the surrounding steep mountains and hills. But what she hadn’t captured was the chaos of wagons and tents set up on the far side of the village. They were a little late for the autumn clan feast, but Otec couldn’t imagine any other reason for them to be there.
After his five months of solitary life in the mountains, the mere thought of the mass of people set Otec’s teeth on edge. Already he could hear the incessant noise of the crowd, feel the eyes of hundreds of other clanmen who, when they found out he was the clan chief’s son, expected him to be the leader his oldest brother was. The warrior his second brother was. Or the trickster who was his third brother.
They learned soon enough not to expect anything at all. When Otec wasn’t in the mountains, he was carving useless trinkets or playing with the little children who didn’t know he was supposed to be more. To them, he was simply the man who brought them toys and tickled and chased them when no one was looking. And that was enough.
The woman’s darkened hands paused. She set aside her drawing and twisted the charcoal between her fingers. Wondering why she had stopped, Otec looked past her and saw another foreigner with the same strange clothes and dark features climbing the steep hill toward her.
Just as the man crossed under a lone tree, an owl stretched out its great white wings. It was easily as long as Otec’s arm. He’d never seen its like before, white with black striations. And stranger still, it seemed to be watching the girl.
Still in the shadows, the man spoke to the girl drenched in light. “Matka, what are you doing out here?” He had a strong accent, his words flat and blunt instead of the rolling cadence of native Clannish.
Matka didn’t look up at the man, but Otec noticed her shoulders suddenly go stiff. “I can’t—can’t be around them, Jore.” Her accent was milder.
Jore rubbed at his beard, which clung to his face like mold to bread. “You have to. For both our sakes.”
The charcoal shattered under Matka’s grip. She stared at the destruction, surprise plain on her face. “This is wrong, Jore. I can’t be a part of it.”
“It’s too late, and we both know it.” His voice had hardened—he sounded brittle, as if the merest provocation could break him.
She tossed the bits of charcoal and rose to her feet, her gaze defiant. “No. I won’t—”
Jore took a final step from the shadows, his hand flashing out to strike Matka’s cheek so fast Otec almost didn’t believe it had happened. But it had, because she held her hand to her face, glaring fiercely at Jore.
She opened her mouth to say something, but Jore took hold of her arm. “I’m your brother—I’m trying to protect you.”
All at once Otec’s sluggish anger came awake like a bear startled out of a too-long hibernation. He forgot he’d been eavesdropping. Forgot these were foreigners. Forgot everything except that this man had hit her—a woman, his sister.
Otec burst into the brightness. The man saw him first, his eyes widening. Matka was already turning, her hand going to something at her side.

A mere three strides away, Otec called, “How dare—” He came up short. Jore had drawn shining twin blades, and the ease with which he held them made it clear he knew how to use them. 

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