I’ll be at the Texas Book Festival!

I’m super excited to be at the Texas Book Festival this year with Baby Dust and the prequel book, Stella & Dane.

It’s been an amazing year with Baby Dust. Thousands and thousands of copies out in the world. So many new friends. So many bloggers featuring the book. I have to pinch myself almost every day.

If you’re attending the book festival in Austin, you can find me easily at two times:

  • The Writers’ League of Texas is sponsoring a book signing at their booth in the festival tents for me on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 3-4 p.m. I will have all my books there.
  • I wil be hosting the Writerly Lunch on the Lawn from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday on the lawn of the Capitol behind the food tents. I’ll have signs up, plus my pink pigtails are hard to miss. Come say hello!

At the Texas Indie Authors booth I will have Baby Dust and In the Company of Angels, the memorial book for recording details of your pregnancy. I might end up doing a signing over there too, but right now I’m planning to step aside and let all the other awesome TIA authors have their moment since I will already have a signing time.

It’s exciting and amazing! I hope you say hello if you are there!

A great day for Baby Dust

A couple weeks ago, an administrator from the web site Pixel of Ink contacted me, letting me know they wanted to feature my book. I was completely in shock, as this web site is one of the biggest Kindle sites on the web. And they were going to feature me?

Today has been the big day, and I’m so thrilled that more people will learn about the book, and hopefully more moms and dads and families will learn they aren’t alone in what they’ve been through.

It’s an amazing day in this journey–Casey Shay, sweet baby, look where you are now!

Go see the feature!

Baby Dust time travel

I began my novel back in 2006. At the time, I was blogging (like I am now for Stella & Dane) the chapters as I wrote them.

Today I was going through the Pregnancy Loss site and reviewing posts when I stumbled across those early chapters.

Baby Dust went through many re-inventions as I struggled with the characters, the structure, and the tone of the book. I thought it might be fun, now that so many readers have bought and read the book, to take a look at some of the early chapters to see what stayed in the novel to the end.

If you’d like to read some of those very early draft chapters and the comments my cheerleaders made six years ago, here is the place!

New personal essay in Exhale Literary Magazine

If you’ve never read Exhale, you’ve been missing a beautifully written online publication focusing on mothers who have endured the loss of a baby or infertility.

I am extremely honored to have an essay included in the winter issue. “Motion Blur” is part of the magazine’s “dream” theme, and chronicles where I am now, thirteen years after Casey’s death in utero at twenty weeks.

Read Motion Blur

I know the holidays are a tough time. This year, Elizabeth, at 9, was old enough to recognize Casey’s ornament and bring it to me. “I think you should put this one on the tree,” she said.

The ornament is simple, a plastic bear with Casey’s name on it. I’ve had it since the first Christmas without him, and it will hang on my tree, among the hand-made ornaments of my living children, as long as I’m still decorating trees.

The prequel to Baby Dust has begun!

The new book has begun!

Everyone loved Stella from Baby Dust so much that I decided to tell her backstory. So much happens to her in the 44 years prior to her arrival in my novel.

Book summary:

Stella is one step from leaving her honky tonk town when bad-boy Dane arrives. Their dangerous romance keeps the town talking, but when Dane is sent to prison for manslaughter after a bar fight, the couple discovers their love runs deeper than their reputations.

Stella & Dane
Chapter 1: Draft Version Nov. 3, 2011

When Stella’s pink plastic shoe slipped off a rung one-third of the way up the side of the water tower, she realized she probably should have thought through her choice of footwear for the task.

Her knee banged the cold metal as she scrambled to hang on and secure her position. “Damn. That’s going to bruise,” she called down. “And don’t scream.”

Janine covered her mouth to keep from crying out. From this height, her friend resembled a Rainbow Brite doll in purple tights with yellow leg warmers. She cupped her hands and shouted, “You shouldn’t be up there in jellies and a mini skirt.”

Stella twisted around to face out on the ladder, the flimsy shoes curling around the rung as she grasped the bar and leaned forward. “You coming?”

Janine covered her eyes. “Please don’t hang like that.”

“I’m not going to fall at this late date. I’ve done this drunk at midnight.”

Her friend peeked between her fingers. “I know. I watched you then.”

“It’s not so scary in daylight.”

The sun blasted off the aluminum roof of the shed at the base of the water tower. High noon, and she was late for work. But walking along the block, Stella just had the urge to climb the tower.

Twenty-one years in this po-dunk town, and scaling the only tall structure in the middle of the day was one thing she’d never done. Seemed like something to do before she left for good. Should’ve had Janine bring a camera. Get a shot of her underneath the giant black letters that read “Holly,” the town’s ridiculous name.

“Sheriff’s gonna catch you,” Janine called.

“Only if you keep yelling at me.” She whipped back around on the ladder and climbed to the next level. Just one ladder left until she reached the platform that encircled the massive silver tank.

“Hey! I’m going to get docked. My boss ain’t like yours.” Janine backed away from the base of the tower, crouching down to duck through the section of the chain-link fence that had been cut and pulled back decades ago by high school seniors seeking to spray paint the broad side of the tower. Stella herself had added a blood-red “Senior ’81″ just a few years back.

Stella waved down at her and scurried up the last segment of the ladder. She reached the platform and pushed through the narrow opening, grasping the bar that served as an ineffectual rail. As far as she knew, nobody had ever fallen off the darn thing, and she wasn’t going to today. She wouldn’t get caught either.

Plenty of people had been up there before her. The entire circumference of the tower was defaced with “Mark loves Ellen” and hundreds of other couplings, many crossed out and amended. Stella had warned the boys never to put her name up there. That was a deal breaker, certain to seal the doom of whatever short-lived fling she was having.

But one of them had disobeyed, Carter something-or-another, a Texas boy, who moved up to Missouri when his dad started working at the bank. Full of himself and his shiny Camero. He’d been after her, thinking he was doing something romantic by scaling the tower with an eight-foot ladder to inscribe “Carter & Stella” higher than any of the other graffiti.

Stella followed the platform to the other side, facing downtown, where a huge black splotch covered his transgression. Being on the short side, she’d had to drag a TEN-foot ladder up the damn tower to get rid of it. And after blotting out his mistake, she emptied the rest of the spray can on his little red hotrod.

He’d known she had done it, but the small town was good at closing ranks to separate the born-and-bred from the newcomers. Carter’s dad hadn’t wanted to make waves in the community, so her lawlessness had been ignored. They hadn’t stayed even a year in Holly. Missouri just didn’t suit.

Mostly Stella didn’t date in her own town, preferring boys from other small cities, close enough for a booty call, far enough to not watch her too carefully.

Right now she was between booties.

Standing on the tower in the daytime was a completely different experience than all the nighttime jaunts. She wondered why she hadn’t done it before. She peeked down at Janine’s purple form hurrying along the block, heading to the grocery where she worked as a cashier. Janine stopped suddenly and pointed ahead of her without looking up. Stella followed her arm, puzzled, then saw the sheriff’s car cruising into view.

But the ticket didn’t scare her now. She wasn’t as poor as she had been just out of high school. Her job at the perfume shop got her a bit of commission, and one thing she could do was sell. Bring anyone into the shop-man or woman-and she’d have them walking out with something they didn’t need.

In fact, she’d put together enough money to get her the heck out of dodge. Beatrice, her boss, would certainly give her a good rec. Stella just didn’t know where or when to go. Nothing had prepared her for whatever else was out there. No sense going balls out only to have to come crawling back home six months later, broke and humiliated.

The sheriff’s car idled along the broken pavement. No need to court trouble. She kept her back to the tower until the squad car passed, glad for the silver lamé shirt to help her blend in. Once he’d turned the corner onto Mulberry, she stepped away from the wall to look out on her soon to be ex-town.

The school. The track. The athletic fields she’d never stepped foot on, not once.

Houses filled a few blocks, then the highway snaked through town, the artery lined with what few shops currently attempted to make a profit in the dying populace. She’d worked at a few, even the convenience store for two weeks, until old man Spiller took to showing up in an overcoat, barelegged in black socks and dress shoes. Her mama made her quit before her purity got stained. Ha.

She didn’t have much keeping her there. Her sister, eight years older, had married off and split at first opportunity. Her parents were no reason to stay and, in fact, every reason to go.

The wind kicked up as she stood there, belly on the rail, leaning over so hard she could have somersaulted around the pole. And why not. She rushed forward, her necklace hitting her nose, and the world whirled as she spun around the spindly bit of metal, the only thing that kept her from crashing five stories to the ground.

Her feet didn’t quite make contact with the platform, and her ankles smashed into the sheet metal in another bruising connection. Damn. More purple. But the rush of it felt good so she did it again, this time tucking her knees a little higher.

She felt the metal give a little, crunching in. Panic zipped through her as she realized the rail couldn’t quite hold her weight. Her head was down, and she’d lost momentum. The town below was a blur of green and gray. She realized how easy it would be to just let go, be done with it all. Wasn’t much worth hanging on for. Start over reincarnated as a cat maybe, or a crow.

The world righted itself as she rolled the rest of the way around, the metal pinching in just enough that her lower back grazed the platform. She clutched the bent rail, feet dangling, trying to figure out how to wiggle her way backwards and up onto it without letting go of the thin bar.

Her shoulders screamed with the effort of keeping her in place. Stella looked down, imagining her body smashing into the roof of the shed below. Good God, what had she been thinking?

 

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

I’m spending this morning listening to the song list that I will play at tonight’s candle lighting ceremony here in Austin. Each year, I have added a new favorite to the list, and now, hearing my history of song choices, I’m reminded of all the time that has passed since I was pregnant the first time. So optimistic I was, unaware that anything could go wrong.

Of course, I still had no idea all the directions life would go. Three babies wouldn’t make it. Two would, but Elizabeth is reminded every day of the complications of losing her twin sister, medicine twice a day and still not knowing when or where a seizure might happen anyway.

But we are grateful, so grateful for the two daughters we got to keep. And while today will be hard, it always is, I don’t forget that this journey led to my life’s work, a purpose that carries me through everything. Other people might question why they are on this earth, what they are meant to do. But I know.

Here are the events happening here in Austin today:

10 a.m.
Memorial Service at Gateway church
The theme is Seasons of Hope. They’ll be planting a memorial tree on the church property in honor of those who’ve lost children through miscarriage and still birth.
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=267431516618597

3 p.m.

Baby Dust: A Novel about Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss
Book Launch and Signing

The Book Spot
1205 Round Rock Ave #119
Round Rock, TX 78681 (Map)
(Corner of 620 and Lake Creek Dr. by Round Rock High School.)
Book summary: What happens when five women from completely different walks of life each lose a baby? Support. Healing. Friendship.
Families will be given candles to light during the Wave of Light that evening.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=248851078490256

5 p.m.
Face2Face Austin Dinner and Balloon Release

A local support group affiliate of Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope will be hosting a gathering at La Margarita Restaurant (1530 IH-35) in Round Rock immediately following the book launch.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=179100578838084

7 p.m.
Wave of Light Candlelighting

Deanna has hosted the annual candlelighting to coincide with the international wave of light for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day for many years.

We meet by the pond next to the lighted fountains behind the Long Center to light our candles from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in a silent memorial vigil.

Park off Riverside Drive near Auditorium Shores or in the lot on Dawson Rd. (Map)

 

If you need music to play while you are lighting a candle at home, Casey Shay Press has a YouTube playlist of beautiful songs.

 

Guest post on managing family after tragedy over at Honoring Our Angels blog

Was YOUR family 100% supportive after your loss? Did you ignore the things they said or did you speak up? I’m guessing you stayed quiet.

I got a chance to talk about how to handle family members on Monica’s lovely blog Honoring Our Angels. She graciously stepped up as I’m doing the promotions for my novel Baby Dust and allowed me to post as a guest.

Deanna’s guest post on managing family

Monica began her blog in 2008 after her sweet daughter Devon was stillborn. She sees it as a place to put stories about your babies, and she puts together resources for managing life after losing a baby.

She’ll be writing a review of Baby Dust in the next few days. She’s also giving away a copy of Baby Dust! So go over there before Oct. 8 and comment to win it!

Baby Dust Give Away

It’s Baby Dust’s book birthday!

Today is the kick off to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month, and the official release day for Baby Dust, my novel about miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

Here is the latest review of Baby Dust from Dead Baby Club:

“This book is different than anything I have ever read before about the loss of a baby… Grief isn’t painted as a pretty picture in this book, but as something that is real and that affects far more women than people realize or care to acknowledge.”

And now, for the winners of the three amazing books for Baby Loss Moms:

About What Was Lost a collection of stories by women who have lost babies– Jackie

In the Company of Angels: A Record Book for babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early neonatal loss– Brittany S.

We were gonna have a baby, but we had an angel instead which helps your children understand about the baby that is no longer coming — Dawn

I’ll be emailing all of you to get mailing addresses to send you your book.

Two great organizations are providing profile pictures on Facebook for October. I’ll be switching back and forth.

Robyn Bear of October15th.com and the Founder of PAIL Remembrance Day has this one:

 

And Kristin Cook, Founder of FacesofLoss.com has this one:

Right-click to save and upload to Facebook to make it your profile picture.

It’s our month to celebrate the lives of our babies!

Most beautiful bracelet ever — give away!

Robyn over at Remembering Our Babies has such lovely things for families grieving the loss of a baby. Books, candles, bracelets—and all of it supports her site, the original place for October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I’ll be giving away one of her most beautiful bracelets as soon as it comes in—sometime this week! So head over to my Facebook Page if you do Facebook and comment to win it!

And visit her site to take a look at her selection of things. Get them ordered in time for Oct. 15!

Casey’s Special Day Give Aways

My first baby Casey would have been thirteen years old today, and we’re celebrating his would-have-been birthday with give aways of some great books on loss.

Make sure you can see all the give aways below (if not, click HERE) and comment on any of the titles that you might find helpful. We’ll give away the books on October 1 to kick off Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Month.

We’re also taking today to celebrate the completion of the Baby Dust Book Trailer. Women from Ireland, London, Australia, Mexico, and the US talk about their babies, and the women of Illuminate, a photography class for grieving mothers, took the images that are used.