Are you called to write?

Some people walk around with stories in their head. Maybe you could create a story about my duck friend, a duck I met while on a trip to Walt Disney World. Or, maybe you’ve passed a stranger on the sidewalk and all of the sudden you’ve given him or her a backstory and are working on his goal, motivation and conflict.

If you’ve got a story that needs to be told, consider entering the Taking Flight contest that is currently open for entries through my publisher Winged Publications.

Entries should be clean fiction or inspirational.

Deadline to enter the contest is March 31, 2021.

Take that leap and enter here.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s the end of October, which is known for all things Autumn and is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I don’t want to be defined by a past illness, but I couldn’t let this month slip by without reminding everyone to keep up with your current medical checks. Breast Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can attack men, too. Keep up with your physician and take care of yourself.

October 2016

Here’s my story…

In May of 2018, at the age of 43, I finally gave in to a nagging urge to go to the doctor. I hadn’t been to see a primary care physician in four years. Hey, I wasn’t sick. I felt fine. I stayed busy: working, not cooking at home enough/indulging in fast food. My husband and I juggled everything –  who did what for the children, running them here and there – I didn’t have time to go to the doctor for just a general check-up.

Well, by May, I had been ignoring a lump in my left breast for quite some time. I believe a woman’s intuition is a real thing. I believe that God gives us nudges sometimes. He doesn’t stop until we take action. I made an appointment with a brand new PCP, vowing to return every year for general check-ups. I was still patting myself on the shoulder when I arrived for my mammogram appointment the following week. Since my concerns involved my breast, my doctor ordered a mammogram and an ultrasound. She assured me if the mammogram was clear, there would not be a need for the ultrasound.

This mammogram was my first. It’s awkward. It doesn’t really hurt, but it’s just something you have to do. Believe me, you should have your mammogram, as recommended by your doctor. You need to do this because you don’t have to have a history of breast cancer to have it.

For me, my mammogram was followed by an ultrasound. When the ultrasound was complete, the technician asked that I wait in the room while she went to speak with the radiologist. I waited alone, wrapped in a soft robe, studying the details of the room. There was an image of a cherry blossom tree on the ceiling and the white and red hues from the ceiling light through that image were really the only light in the room. A few minutes later, the radiologist came into the room. He sat down inches from me and told me he was very concerned by the mammogram and ultrasound and I should take action as soon as possible. He advised me he would notify my primary doctor to schedule a breast MRI right away.

The following week, on a Monday, I went for the MRI that morning. Later that afternoon, my primary care doctor called me. The diagnostic report confirmed I had breast cancer.

Please know, aside from the lumps I found in my left breast, I had no other indications there was anything wrong. My blood work was perfect. Other than being overweight, I felt fine. Sometimes, cancer does not hurt. Especially at its onset.

My first surgery was in July to insert a chemo port on my upper chest. A few days later, I went for my first chemotherapy. A couple of weeks later, my hair began to fall out and my husband ended up shaving my head. I tried wearing wigs, but those tended to itch my head and felt hot. It was summer, and I live in the south, so we normally do not get a break from the heat until late fall. I ended up investing in soft hats and wore those daily. People look at you funny when you wear those, or they try to appear that they’re not looking at you. Eventually, you get used to it.

6 days Pre-Mastectomy, December 2018

By December of 2018, I had a left mastectomy. I’ve learned from other ladies who had one surgery and the physician did everything all at once from removal of the cancerous tissue to reconstruction. I wasn’t well enough to go through all of that at one time. I am thankful that my general surgeon recognized that. At first, I was irritated that I couldn’t have more done at once, but as my journey continued, I realized the doctor had my best interests in mind.

By January 2019 I began taking a pill form of chemo from January to June. Xeloda was a mean form of chemo. Instead of hair loss, I dealt with hand and foot syndrome where my feet and hands were super red and my feet blistered. My oncologist altered my dosage so that I could continue to live comfortably and work.

Yes, work. I was determined to continue working as a claims adjuster during my time of chemotherapy. If I had to do it all over again, I’d take more time to let my body rest.

By August of 2019, I began radiation. The thought of radiation was harder than it actually was. As when I was pregnant, well-meaning people tend to share horror stories. I’m not one of those who feels sharing a bad story is necessary. For me, I had 33 treatments. That breaks down to going to radiation five days a week for a little over six weeks. I used a prescribed cream to help the burning my skin eventually experienced, however the worst part came at the end. I made it. I rang the bell when I was done and I am done.

By November of 2019, along the same time as my first book released, I went in for surgery for the right mastectomy and to insert expanders which was preparing my body for an eventual surgery for implants which happened in March 2020.

It has been a long journey, one I learned a lot, and began to appreciate the care of others even more. I found out the true meaning of a “Get Well” card from people I didn’t know. I was shown grace and love by family and church family in bringing food, by their prayers and by just reaching out to ask how I was doing.

Obviously, I am not a medical professional, and every person’s case is different. I wanted to share my journey to show you what you may be able to avoid, or to share my journey which could be different than another person’s path. The bottom line is, if you have an issue, get it checked. I believe God gave us many gifts and intelligence to help one another. Physicians can’t help you unless you reach out. Don’t delay.

Finalists announced!!!!

Oh, my goodness!!!! I’m totally Snoopy Dancing… My manuscript finaled in River City Romance Writer’s Duel on the Delta Contest!!!!! 
Who will be left standing?
Duel Pistols
River City Romance Writers proudly present the
21st Annual Duel on the Delta Contest
2012 Duel on the Delta Finalists*!
Contemporary
  • Clear as Glass — Lynn Kellan
  • Synchrony’s Call — S.J. Bickford
  • Surrender’s Vow — S.J. Bickford

Historical

  • The Parachutist — Diana Quincy
  • Tempting Bella — Diana Quincy
  • Seduced by a Spy — Christina De Gennaro

Inspirational

  • Too Late to Apologize — Christy Smith
  • Liberty’s Lady — Mary Curry
  • Deliver Us from Evil — Mary Curry

Paranormal

  • Dark Conquest — Christina Kenton
  • The Book of Dracon, The Mayhen Series — Briana MacWilliam
  • Seal of Fate — Traci Douglass

Young Adult

  • Blood, She Read — Sara Hubbard
  • Lost Souls — Beth Watson
  • Operation Breakup — Jeanmarie Anaya

Romantic Suspense

  • Treasure Life — Sherilyn Alexander
  • One in Ten Thousand — Jackie Flaum
  • Deadly Rumors — Pamela Anderson-Moore

#AtoZChallenge – “C” Cooking the Books by Bonnie Calhoun

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Cooking The Books
Abingdon Press (April 2012)
by
Bonnie S. Calhoun

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the Owner/Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Bonnie has helped use the 220+ blogs of the Alliance to promote many titles on the Christian bestseller list. She also owns and publishes the Christian Fiction Online magazine which is devoted to readers and writers of Christian fiction. She is the Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). At ACFW she was named the ‘Mentor of the Year,’ for 2011, and she is the current President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network. Bonnie is also the Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

In her spare time she is an avid social media junkie, and teaches Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and HTML as recreational occupations. She also has a novel coming out in the Abingdon Quilts of Love series. Her novel Pieces of the Heart will publish August of 2013.

Bonnie and her husband Bob live in a log cabin on 15 acres in upstate area of Binghamton, New York with a dog and cat who consider the humans as wait-staff.

ABOUT THE BOOK

After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also “inherits” a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakleys Book Club; and Aunt Verline, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?”

A lot! Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get more crazy?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Cooking The Books, go HERE.

Watch the book video:

If you’d like to read interviews with Bonnie, try these:
Everbody Needs A Little Romance
A Christian Writers World
Novel Rocket
ACFW – Fiction Finder

#AtoZChallenge “B” – Birthday Cake

Yesterday was my birthday so a few days before, my co-workers gave me a cake… It was so sweet of them to do that. I hadn’t expected it, but really appreciated it. They bought the cake from Publix and it was Publix “Buttercream” icing.

If you are familiar with Publix stores, and have had their buttercream, it’s really a more whipped icing than what I feel is a true buttercream. If I did a taste test with my eyes closed, I wouldn’t describe Publix icing as anything close to buttercream.

I’ve had cakes from bakeries, made them from scratch and everyone else’s buttercream icing is thicker and richer. However, I LOVE sweets and can eat just about any kind of icing.

If someone was going to make you a birthday cake, what kind would it be?

Out of Control by Mary Connealy

I haven’t read this, but I assure you, Mary Connealy never disappoints. She’s the type of writer you want to buy the whole series of books and if you loan them out, your name is in the corner to make sure you get the book back. Definitely a keeper.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Out Of Control
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
by
Mary Connealy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist.

Cowboy Christmas—the 2010 Carol Award for Best Long Historical Romance, and an Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Finalist.

The Sophie’s Daughters series. Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats, Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she’s one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Julia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. She particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father’s homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations, and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe–until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to find her way out.

Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family’s cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch–and Rafe’s controlling ways–as soon as they were able. He’s haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn’t expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels–or to be forced to kiss her!

Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he’s ever known, but how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he be forced to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust and the love that could heal his heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Out Of Control, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer: