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Monday, November 26, 2012

Sickness and Self-Promotion

WARNING: IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH, SKIP TO THE SECOND PARAGRAPH. I hate being sick. And the worst part of it isn't throwing up; it's the few minutes after you've thrown up, when your mouth is coated in bile and some of it has gone up your nose so all you taste and smell is everything you just puked. Is that really necessary? And you rise your mouth out with water and blow your nose three or four times before the lingering bile starts to dissipate. So you drag your sweaty self back to bed and miserably and hold the futile hope that you won't have to do it again.

Bah. Two and a half days of feeling awful. Throwing up and other unfortunate bodily functions of illness, in addition to being drawn out and tired. Really tired. I think I've been spoiled- being able to take my narcolepsy medication and getting restful sleep has made me forget just how tired I am when I can't take my medicine. Ah the endless paradox of narcolepsy- always sleeping, never at rest. 

AND now we're past the pity party. Apparently I should stick to writing novels when I'm sick, because blog posts just devolve into whining. That first paragraph was written yesterday, the second was nine hours ago, and now it's Sunday night just after putting the kids to bed and I'm feeling much more like myself. I've eaten (and kept it down! Woot!) and I'm drinking gallons of Gatorade to re-hydrate myself and all-in-all feeling much better. I'm going to get a good long night of sleep and then spend a solid two hours tomorrow morning with my favorite music playlist and at least two bottles of Lysol before any of the preschool kids get here. Thank heavens I live where it's still warm at the end of November, because all my windows are going to be open tomorrow morning. This house needs to air out. And it's going to get it! 

A big thank you to all of my preschool parents who went in together last year and bought me On Guard and a diffuser. Love it. You'll smell it tomorrow.

I've spent the last three weeks beating my head against the wall of self-publishing and trying to get the word out about my book. It's hard. It's an uphill battle, and a little part of me hates myself every time I tweet or update my facebook status and it's all about my book and buy my book and recommend my book! and it all feels so disingenuous. Ironically it is completely genuine- my book is great, it is worth reading, and if someone else had written it I would honestly recommend it to others to read, although not with such frequency. But sadly, I am not of myself famous. Therefore the mediums I have access to are few, and the people with whom I can directly communicate are also relatively few. So I must continue to pursue every avenue of self-promotion that I can think of, and I'm running out of easy ideas.

The best idea is, of course, a book tour. And I'm working on setting one up in January, where I would go to schools in Utah, Idaho, and Oregon and give a presentation about being an author. Then I would read the prologue and first chapter, and hand out bookmarks. It's a lot to set up, especially since I have to make sure that my own kids are taken care of getting to and from school and having somewhere safe to go until my husband gets off work. It sounds like lots of fun, and I want to read at schools in the area, too, but those don't take as much advanced planning. More permission, but not as much planning. Less planning because I live here, so all I have to worry about is getting done before school's out. More permission because I don't actually know anyone who works for the school district or in any of the schools other than the elementary where my kids go. I don't have an "in" or know who to call. But I would love to go and inspire more kids to read!

Which all sounds like great fun, but gets in the way of what I really want to be doing. Writing. I haven't worked on book two of this series in weeks because the marketing and promotion of The Darkest Lie has been taking all my spare time and energy. Honestly more than all my spare energy, because my arthritis and my fibromyalgia have been on overdrive ever since my book published. Stress related? UM, YES. I feel like since the moment my book went live on Kindle on November 7th I've been working two full time jobs in addition to being a mom and a wife and a homemaker. My hands nearly vibrate they shake so much and I haven't had the physical strength in my wrists to open a jar in over two weeks. And my poor church calling; I love what I do, working with the young women, but I've been to church once this month and not to any activities because by about 5:00 every day I'm worthless as a person and by Saturday I'm so shaky and achy that I have a hard time standing up. Is it worth it?

Yesterday I got a text from my dad. This is what it said. "I just finished reading your book. Angie, you amaze me. Your book amazes me. It brought me to tears various times as I read, realizing you had written it. It completely enthralled me. Thank you so much for being you. I am so proud of you, and I love you!" 

Firstly, my papa is awesome. Beyond awesome. If you don't believe me, check youtube.

Secondly, yes, it's worth it. I've talked before about why I wrote this book, and what I wanted to say. That we are not alone, never alone, and there are people all around us who want to help and lift us up. That was this book. I don't know if I've mentioned that this is the first in a series of four books that I'm writing. The next one is called "The Sound at the Edge," and I'm hoping to have it finished and out by June. The series as a whole deals with loneliness and the lie of being alone, but even more it carries the theme of loss and trials, and how with every setback or pain we face, we have the choice of how to respond. 

In "The Darkest Lie," the character of Iselle is talking to Thane after he's gone through a traumatic training experience. She shares this story with him. (It's important to know that she is 16 and from France). Some of Thane's reactions have been omitted for spoiler reasons, but her story is intact.

She spoke for several sentences before the cadence of her voice and the gentleness of her unfamiliar accent was able to pull enough of his focus to actually hear her words.

 "… vineyard in Bordeaux. Many men worked for my father. Two of them were the best. One was my father’s foreman, who had apprenticed at the vineyard and stayed. One of them, Alphonse, was aveugle, was blind from his birth and had lived his whole long life in our valley. They both knew when the grapes were most ripe, and which vines were most heavy and ready for harvest. They brought the best and most sweet grapes to my father, who made cheap wine of their offering." Thane fought to breathe, and listened.

"A fever swept through our small village. Many were sick, some died. Some were left disfigured or maimed by the disease. My father’s foreman became aveugle, the sight burned out of his eyes. He could not see even the smallest light. He would not leave his bed, and he ordered the windows to be shuttered and barred. He became bitter and angry, and was violent towards those who would try to help him."

Thane realized that one of his hands was shaking and that his other was captured within both of Iselle's. His fist was wrapped inside her almost timid fingers, while her thumbs stroked the knuckles and made small circles on the back of his hand. He didn't feel the flush of warmth and louder heartbeat like when Remi had taken his hand, but he felt the fear draining away and right now that meant more. With every word she spoke the memories and nightmares sunk deeper and further away.

"Alphonse continued to work, to bring grapes to my father. My father joked of making the old blind man the new foreman and letting the young blind man drive himself to l’enfer. Many did not think his jokes were funny…" she trailed off for a moment, and in Thane's mind the images flared back to life.

"My father’s foreman tried to return to work, but could not find the vineyard," Iselle’s quiet voice cut across the clamor in his mind and Thane’s attention was drawn to her again. She was still looking down at his hand. "Two men, both blind, one made excellent and one made a fool. My father’s foreman tried to kill himself, but could not find a rope to hang himself with. Could not buy a gun to shoot himself with. No one would lead to the river to drown himself. Any way he tried to end his despair was taken from him and he was made to go on. His family, people he loved, would tell him, ‘Ce n'est pas le plus mauvais, it isn’t so bad, think of Alphonse; he has been blind his whole life and he goes on. He never has had what you had. Aren’t you béni, aren’t you blessed to have had sight at all?"

Thane tensed. Was she giving him a lecture? Telling him to man up, at least he wasn't dead, just like his father had done? But that man was not his father. The anger tried to claw its way out of the pit and Thane felt those claws dig in and pull him down.

"They did not know they were being cruel." Her words stopped his anger, made the claws release and the fury fall back. "To lose something you did not recognize, that is nothing. To have something taken that we value, that destroys us. It is not what we lose, it is how." Thane's fear surged; he loathed pity, and was afraid to see it in her. When he glanced up at her, she was looking at him, but there was no pity in her face. Instead there was anger, and defiance. Perhaps even a trace of her own fear.

"You and I have lost much and had much taken from us. Things that all children should have were rarely ours, and we understood their value. And now you are having what few things remained to you ripped away." He shuddered at her choice of words and her thumbs stopped making their small circles. The surcease of motion drew his eyes back to hers, brown with flecks of gold. "When every way to forget your loss is taken, how do you move on?"
This section, this story, was the inspiration for the entire series, and the entire series tries to answer that question. I wrote that originally as part of a short story for a writing exercise, but it stuck with me. That question stuck with me. How do we move on from loss, from pain, from fear or trauma or tragedy?

One verse of scripture that has most guided my life comes from The Book of Mormon. I can't say it's a favorite, because it doesn't inspire faith or warmth within me, but it has stuck with me very powerfully ever since I first remember reading it and being old enough to understand what it meant. It's in Alma, chapter 62, verse 41. It says, "But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility."

Through the rest of the series, bad things keep happening. Good things do too. More good than bad, but usually many many small good things and one or two really large bad things, the way life is. And the characters in the story suffer loss, and pain, and have to respond to it. And they respond differently. Some respond by becoming hardened and bitter. Some respond with gratitude and humility. A few start with the hardening and progress to humility. One or two go the other way. But with every experience I want to highlight the choice- we decide how we live our lives. We have the power to choose to act or react. 

So it's worth it, because there is so much loss and pain and trauma in the world already. There is so much loneliness and so much despair, simply because there are so many who don't know how to choose hope. Loss should never be diminished or made light of- even with all we know about life after death and the promise of eternal families, losing someone we love hurts. It's supposed to. Few things hurt worse than being left behind and being denied the companionship of someone who matters for the rest of our time here on earth. But I want to tell every child, every teen, every person who has ever suffered that their suffering is VALID, their pain MATTERS, and that while it will always be a part of them, it doesn't DEFINE them. And they never have to suffer alone.

So it's worth it. Every sickness. Every ache and pain. Every time I have to make my son a cheese sandwich instead of PB&J because my wrists won't open the PB or J jars. And every time I hate myself a little for tweeting, "Hey, I sold over 100 books this week! #TheDarkestLie, the best gift for every reader on your Christmas list!" because this is the thing I want to tell the world. And this is the price I pay for sharing that message.

Thank heavens I still get to whine about it. And so you all know, The Darkest Lie is on sale at Barnes and Noble .com this week for only $10.69, which is cheaper than you can even buy it through me. And it really is a great book. Just ask anyone who's related to me! :)


  1. Ok, Now I am NOT related to you and have this to say about your book. It is fantastic. I'm truly enjoying it. When I won it I had almost no idea what I had won. Had even thought I'd give it to my granddaughter (yes my granddaughter). She may get a copy, but not mine.

    So it isn't only for teens, just the young at heart.

    1. Thank you, Sue! That was exactly what I needed. :-)