When the first headline mentioning Robin Williams’s private diagnosis of Parkinson’s crossed my feed, I wanted to collapse with shock. I couldn’t believe it.
I’d already been on a two-day crying jag about his suicide. He was a big part of my childhood, and his face was very familiar to me from so many amazing works. But I didn’t know him. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t seem to recover from the news.
I think at first it was because it’s so hard to see someone so beloved, so talented, with so much love in his life, doing this, taking such a final step.
But now, I understand another piece of the puzzle.
For the last year, Parkinson’s has been a big part of my life. My mom was diagnosed, and with every drug change, every new protocol, she calls and asks me to look up side effects, drug combinations, what she can expect.
It so permeated my life that when I wrote Forever Loved and needed a patient for my character to take care of in art therapy, his story line was much like Robin’s:
A great and beloved painter attempts suicide when his diagnosis of Parkinson’s stirs up fear that he will no longer be able to create his art.
I’m starting to understand now just how profound this situation can be. In Forever Sheltered, when this artist takes center stage, the art therapist, who attempted suicide at the age of seventeen, says this:
Albert really must have fallen hard to attempt suicide when his talent was so visceral. Even with the struggle to control his movements, he was easily the best artist I’d ever met or studied under, even in college.
If I were unable to do the one thing I loved, if some disease took that away, I’m not sure I would do any better. One thing I told the students who attended my suicide talks is that once you choose death as your destination, it never goes away. Every upset, every disappointment, every setback has the same way out. You don’t even have to search for it to know it’s still out there, waiting for you to stumble one more time.
In that, suicide wasn’t that much different from alcoholism or drug addiction. You could go to rehab or therapy. You could get it out of your mind for a while. And life could go well for months or years or decades.
But the moment it didn’t, in that instant when your depression or your struggle or your exhaustion hit that critical point, it all rushed back. And your mind went straight to the place you thought you’d twelve-stepped or group-sessioned out of existence. The needle. The bottle. The knife.
I wish there had been some other way, that there had been some treatment, some quick intervention, some help that could have gotten to Robin in time. My story has a much happier ending. Albert does find a way. He does figure out how to manage. And he starts to recognize the treatments will go up and down, work for a while, then fail, then another will work a while longer. It becomes an act of faith to believe that another good time will come, to counteract all those thoughts and emotions coursing through him without his control. But he managed to figure out that the disease didn’t define him, and that he could muddle through.
There was so much greatness still to go for Robin, and it is lost to us now. His brilliant ad libs, his appearances, his voice and acting that added so much to every project he was in. But I am grateful that we got what we did, and that his family shared him with us. And that his life, in death, sheds a little more light on an issue we could stand to learn a lot more about.
I am humbled and amazed by you fans! Wow! Usually I get a few hours to send out some information on the book before it shoots up the lists!
Thank you. Really and truly. Thank you.
The party is really getting started now! We have giveaways, and I’ll be signing books in San Antonio at the Romance Writers of America Wednesday night! Get the details on the appearances page!
Second: Win something! TWO $50 gift cards are up for grabs!
Thank you for being a part of this release!
I hope to see some of you at RWA this week! I will also be speaking at BookPeople here in Austin on August 9 at 10 a.m!
And…the pink sofa everyone’s talking about…
Just TWENTY days until the release of Forever Sheltered!
If you have a blog or FB page, sign up to be a part of the party here (you’ll get to give away all THREE Forever books to your readers!)
Here we go!
Oh, that idiot jerk doctor just walked in here and demanded a favor.
He strode into my art therapy room like he owned the place with his high-dollar shoes and custom-tailored khakis and said, “You have to do something for me.”
Right. I have to.
I whirled away from him to pick up a box of tempura paints and clutched it tightly with both hands.
It was either that or punch him in the face.
This was my room at the hospital. Where doctors weren’t the big shots. Where patients came to escape.
My cheeks were hot. “I didn’t expect to see you again,” I said, pointedly refusing to ask what the something he wanted me to do entailed. “You didn’t show up last time you asked to meet with me.
This same doctor blew me off two weeks ago. Set up a meeting and didn’t show.
Like his time was valuable, and mine was not.
I kept my back to him. A long moment passed. He stayed quiet, so I began to wonder if he’d snuck out.
Not a bad idea. Nobody likes me when I’m pissed off.
I checked the paints, chucking any colors that had dried out. I had less than ten minutes until my next therapy group arrived, a set of children from the cancer ward. It often took all my emotional strength to get through that hour. I wouldn’t give the doctor another thought.
Those kids had it so hard. They lost their hair. Threw up spontaneously. Dealt daily with the idea of death. Many were far from home, sent here to the specialty wing for cancer patients after their own hospitals had exhausted all options.
My days felt like battles, miniature war zones.
And yet here was this Dr. Darion Marks, asking me to do something for him.
I was so sure he was gone that I jumped when he spoke again.
“I’m sorry I didn’t let you know I couldn’t make our meeting two weeks ago,” he said.
Still no explanation. I turned a little so I could see the doctor, tall and stalwart in his white coat. He reminded me of a statue, perfect, chiseled, and cold as granite. I dropped the box of paints on the low table with a satisfying clunk.
“Hey.” His voice carried an impatient tone that sparked my anger into rage.
I glared at him. I was ready to give him a real piece of my mind when he switched tactics.
“Maybe we can start over,” he said with a smile I’m sure he thought was charming. “Hello, Ms. Schwartz. Could I ask you to help me with one of my patients?”
I hated him with a fury I usually reserved for people who kicked dogs. And my parents.
I grasped the back of a chair and leaned over it. Menacingly, I hoped.
Isn’t Tina something else? She’s been in three of my books, and it’s finally her turn to get a book of her own!
ALL of chapter one will go out to the mail list subscribers at MIDNIGHT (July 2, CST). Get on the list — if you are not sure you are on it, enter your email — it will tell you.
If you have missed the email, still join up. Just reply to your “Welcome” email and we’ll get you the first chapter. PLUS you’ll get 70 pages of Baby Dust to download — all of Tina’s backstory from when she was 17.
I’M SO EXCITED!!!!
Everyone is dying to see Dr. Darion! And a grown up Tina!
Here they are!
The book will come out July 22, just in time for my appearance at Romance Writers of America’s National Convention in San Antonio! I will be signing books on Wednesday, July 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Marriott Rivercenter Third Floor Ballroom. This is a public event. Everyone who comes to see me gets one of these full of buttons, tissues, and other swag:
And the first FOUR people at my table gets one of these beautiful charms by The Book Swag Shop:
But RIGHT NOW you can enter to win $50 in PayPal cash or a gift card as we celebrate the cover!
For those of you registered for the full convention, it will be easiest to find me:
Thursday at 11:15 at Club RT.
I will have swag and you can have anything signed at that event.
For those of you registered only for the Saturday Fan-Tastic day, I will be there:
7:15 in the big signing room
This might be a little crazy.
Other convention things I know I’m doing:
- The NA Pajama Party Tuesday night
- Saints and Sinners Thursday night
- Mardi Gras Party Friday night
I probably won’t be too hard to spot with all the butterflies on me as I walk around — particularly Thursday as I’ll be there all day. Make sure to ask for one, especially baby loss moms who get a special blue butterfly like baby Finn’s!
If you aren’t doing the convention at all, or have too busy a schedule for the above stuff, I’ll be around town Wednesday and Friday. Follow me on Twitter and see what I’m up to! Don’t be afraid to say hello!
I generally don’t wake up on Mother’s Day to breakfast in bed or hand-colored cards.
I have five children, but they are not with me as this day begins. Here are all the reasons why:
- My first-born, Casey Shay, died five months into my pregnancy.
- My second and fourth, Emily and Elizabeth, are with their dad this morning, since we are divorced.
- My third and fifth died early in the pregnancies.
I am lucky that I still have my mom. I know many of you no longer do.
And there are a lot of empty nesters who will make do with a phone call.
Some moms will visit their children’s graves today.
So I’m thinking of all of you whose Mother’s Day is not, never was, or no longer is that perfectly imagined day with little ones bringing you burnt toast and jumping on your pillows.
We still have something to celebrate. The moms and grandmothers who once held us tight.
The babies we carried, if only for a little while. Or the children we loved and raised as long as could.
It’s still an important day.
And I’m holding out my hand to you with love and understanding.
The first notable April 28 came in 1998, the day I learned my first baby had died.
I was teaching high school and the students were terribly excited to find out if I was having a boy or a girl. I was firmly instructed to call them on the journalism room phone the moment I knew. I only had a few more weeks to be with them, as I had resigned from my position to be a mom. School was almost out, and I wasn’t sure I would get back to teaching again (I never did.)
I didn’t call them. The sonogram showed a still baby, floating in his fluid. Lost to us.
We also had no answers. We just had to find the courage to do it again.
By April 28 of the next year, we had a baby girl, whose entrance to the world was stressful and constantly in question. But she arrived all the same, and just turned 15 a week ago. Her presence has made all the Aprils easier to bear.
By a strange collision of scheduling and timing, the next April 28 I was scheduled for surgery to correct my insides so that we could try to have a normal pregnancy in the future, without the risk of these late term losses, undersized babies, and such hardship. I remember distinctly the moment the nurses forced me to take off baby Casey’s memory bracelet, which I had worn daily for two years, and even during his sister’s birth by c-section. I cried all the way until the anesthesia knocked me out.
In April 2002, I was crazy pregnant with another girl. This pregnancy had not gone any more smoothly, a set of twins with one miscarrying at ten weeks. The other, Elizabeth, seemed fine. We would not learn until she was six that she would face challenges based on her time in the womb. They tried to schedule her c-section for April 28 and got a little miffed when I refused to agree. They sent the doctor in to convince me, but when he realized the date, he said, “Let’s neither of us show up.” He opted to work a different day, for me. So Elizabeth was born May 1.
Sometimes I think that after all these years, April 28 will have no power over me. That I can look back and think — it’s just a date.
But it’s not. It never will be. And for those of you who have traveled this road, you know what I mean. Some moments on our life’s calendar are never forgotten, can never be simplified or erased or overwritten by other events. And we wouldn’t want them that way.
You might try coming back in a few
hours days weeks when I get this under control!
But it’s going to be lots of fun. I love all the new options out there for creating web sites. Getting creative on things like this is one of the best parts of my job!
I’m super duper busy finishing out my Magic Mayhem series. This last book for this trilogy is the hardest, because it’s about a ten-year-old with epilepsy, same as my daughter Elizabeth. We’ve worked together on this book. But it’s difficult to have your child describe to you what it’s like to have these dark spaces she can’t remember, black periods before and after her seizures.
But while I’m doing all this (plus preparing to dive into Forever Sheltered in about a month), a book I sort of abandoned got picked up in a 10-book boxed set of paranormal romances!
Authors put together these sets to increase visibility and share fans. Unlike my super-emotional and sad books, my novel in the bundle is light and funny. It’s a voice I set aside when my Forever series took off. My readers want to cry, not laugh!
But I let this book go into the bundle. There’s so many great authors in it. And at 99 cents, you can’t beat it for having some choices for your next sleepless night or long trip or need for escape.
I hope some of you will try it out. My novel in it is called The Passion Cure, about an enchantress who discovers not only does her family’s pet ferret talk, but it delights to inform her that she’s an outcast in her world, a Nix with no powers of her own.
It’s a romp, and an experiment. I had a good time writing it. I have outlined more books in that story world, but I’m not sure I will actually write them since everyone wants the Forever books!
So if you want to read my book The Passion Cure, pick up this bundle as that may be the only way you’ll ever get it!
Love Charms: 10 scorching paranormal romances for ONLY 99 cents! LIMITED TIME ONLY! (REGULAR PRICE: $9.99)
Escape into the world of paranormal romance, a magical journey featuring delicious demons, wanton witches, zealous zombies and more! Featuring spell-binding novels from popular New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble bestselling authors, including Ava Catori, Selena Kitt, Cerys du Lys, Deanna Roy and more, these enchanting books will be sure to charm, beguile and bewitch you!
UPDATE: Congrats to Christy/Kikka for winning the ebooks!
It’s time to do some blog hoppin’ to win some prizes! Every blog on the hop has prizes, including MINE! HERE! YES!
You can enter the grand prize for a $100 Amazon gift card via the Rafflecopter below, plus you can comment on this post for a chance to win an e-book two-pack: Both ebooks in the Forever Series will go to the winner!
If you aren’t sure what to say in the comment, tell me your favorite Book Boyfriend name because I have to give poor Jenny a boyfriend soon — it’s time that girl settled DOWN!
There are lots of amazing books in this hop. Click one of the blog images at the bottom to keep hopping. You’ll find some great romance reading and enter to win more awesome stuff!