Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PTSD or Pissed, Ticked, and Strong...Daily

As the caregiver for someone with PTSD all my days are busy, some more than others but it's important that I continue to care for myself so that I can care for him. He's my best friend, my biggest fan and ally and the one who cheers me on no matter what and he's a veteran with PTSD. I don't want him to end up a statistic in the annals of 22 Soldiers a Day, I need him next to me. This is the journey of one woman caring for her man as we walk through the carnage that PTSD has brought into our lives. Come join me Tuesday mornings as I share our struggles, our tears, and our victories and know that you are not alone.

I share not to receive accolades for my work but to let you know that you are not alone in yours. Come walk with me and let me show you my struggles. Show me yours and we will know, we are not alone. 

It's bedtime. We've shut the lights out and I am drifting off to sleep. I need it today, it's been a long day for me.

Up at 5:30, I make the bed, get dressed, make three smoothies, pack a lunch, make breakfast and have my tea in there somewhere, all by 6:30. This requires no small amount of multitasking but I know the morning will be calmer if it's done by the time he gets downstairs from shaving and getting dressed. After he's at work I come up to my office, I have a few hours to get my work done, writing a blog post, research, edit the chapter I will post that day and then it's off to the hair salon to get my roots done as I have a portrait appointment this weekend and I don't want roots in my author pics. Home from the salon I pick up the girls and we head to the gym for our workout, it's what helps me stay sane, knowing I'm feeling better. When we return, it's throw dinner in the oven, get cleaned up and then pick him up from work because when I need the car we have an elaborate dance called the one car shuffle, the only dance he knows. Home again with him, hoping dinner is done because we have a chiropractor appointment in ½ an hour and then he has his acupuncture for his back pain.

Dinners not done, I give him a protein bar and we'll eat when we get home, at 7.

So at 9 I'm falling asleep, I know I have to do it all over again tomorrow, minus the car shuffle, the salon and the gym. Tomorrow I'll just take a walk.

He's sighing next to me, tossing and turning, finally he sits up and grabs his tablet flipping it open.

“What's wrong?” I turn and face him, I'm hoping my frustration doesn't show, I need to sleep.

“I can't settle down, my minds racing.” His frustration shows in his voice and the shake of his head.

I scramble, what can I do to help him settle down because I know that if I don't help him settle down I won't be able to either. “Do you want to try a melatonin?” Sometimes they help.

“Yeah, but they're downstairs.”

Oh, I'm one step ahead of him. “Nah, I've got some in my bedside table.”


“Yeah. Here.” I hand him one and watch him chew it. He puts the tablet away and we snuggle and chat for a few. I love his company.

I discuss a character I'm developing in my head and tell him he can stop listening if he feels himself drifting off from boredom. I'm simply trying to help him focus his mind enough to relax. I stroke his back lightly and his head, he loves that. Finally he is drifting off to sleep and so am I. It's 9:45.

I know I will be up at 2 AM, thinking, creating, it's what happens in my manic mind when a story is being born. I will lay in bed for a couple of hours and talk with my characters, get to know them and their struggles. I know it's coming and I know I need more sleep, 5:30 will arrive quickly tomorrow. But I've taken care of him, my first priority. He’s calm and tomorrow he'll be ready to face the day, well rested. Another success.

Thank you God for the strength to take care of my amazing husband.

One of the things I think people want to know the most is that they are not alone in their PTSD journey. The rages, the fear, the depression, there are others out there dealing with it too, and successfully. Come join me on my journey, share yours, we can hold each other up when the going is tough and cheer each other when it's not.

Friday, March 27, 2015

And I Love Her by Marie Force is a sweet work of romance that allows the reader to escape to a world that is full of kindness, love and happiness without being too perfect and unbelievable. This book is part of the series called the Green Mountain Romance and is number 4. My first read in this series but I intend to fix that as soon as I can. Force's style of writing draws you in and makes you feel as if you are a part of the story that she is artfully drawing with her words. I fell in love with Hunter and Megan and found myself rooting for them to work things out and end up together, do they? Read the book and find out!

Marie Force's romance style is soft and predictable without being overly so. Her characters are kind and real, laughing, teasing, and crying together as life happens around them and they face it together. The female protagonist, Megan, in this story is a sweet young woman, loved by many but hurting on the inside and unable to move on and live fully because of this. It would be predictable for her male counterpart to rush in and rescue her. Instead Force allows her to find her way on her own while allowing those around her to help. In doing this she creates an excellent balance between a hot romance and Megan's independence. The result is amazing, gentle and real.

In addition to the main plot line Force introduces her other characters in the series, the Abbots, the towns people and Fred, the moose. The reader never gets bored with Megan and Hunter simply because Force gives them so much else to think about in between. Her artful weaving of the antics that the people of Butler experience as they live, love and laugh will draw you in and make you want to be there with them without losing focus on the pair whose tale she is telling. I highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a sweet, gentle read that will leave them not wanting to put it down for a second.

And I Love Her is available as a kindle or a paperback and is listed as being 338 pages long. I read it in a few days but I couldn't put it down. This book would be rated M according to my rating system for the racy love scenes that Marie Force artfully inserts in her story. They are very sexy without being pornographic or over the top in my opinion however I wouldn't want my 15 year old reading them just yet.

Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and purchase the book I will receive a small commission for the sale. This does not change your purchase price and is the only way I am compensated for this review.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Camp NanoWriMo

April 1 will host many events for me. Most obviously it's April Fools day. In my house this can be serious business as we try to outdo each other in pranks.

It will also be the day our new health insurance kicks in. A collective sigh of relief may be heard coming from my house as we've been a month without due to a job change. My daughter still thinks it's a joke and we'll have to wait longer for it. I hope not!

The best event that will occur on April 1 is the start of CampNanoWriMo.  I am really looking forward to this camp experience. CampNanoWriMo is a spin-off of NanoWriMo which happens in November. It is an online event meant to encourage us as writers.  We group up into "cabins" and set ourselves a word goal for the month and then write away, encouraging each other as we do.

My goal for camp is to edit my novel Catch a Falling Star and prepare it for final editing and publication. I've set a 75,000 word goal for the month but the book itself is 90,000 words as it stands and while I see some of it falling off the chopping block I don't truly believe I'll lose 15,000 words so I may hit higher.

I won't be working on anything else, other than the blog during Camp so many of my projects will be put on hold. I hope the voices in my head realize they need to wait as I have a character currently telling me his story and asking me to write it down. He needs to be patient. (And he needs to tell me his name!)

I will update here, weekly, on Wednesdays with my word count and progress. The novel is currently up at FictionPress and can be read there in it's entirety. The chapters will be updated as I finish them. When it's ready for publication I will most likely take it down from FP.

My first goal with CaFS will be to rewrite the first chapter. On FP I've had good reviews and views for this story. The one weakness I've noticed is that, as of this writing, 662 people have clicked on chapter 1 and only 118 have moved on to chapter 2. After that the numbers are fairly steady so once they commit they love it but obviously that first chapter sends many running. I want to fix that. A spreadsheet with my goals set for each day can be seen here. I will highlight each goal as it is met and relink to my progress reports weekly.

After that it will be wording that I work on. Apparently, according to my reviews, I use the term "tears pricked at her eyes" excessively. I will also work on content, tightening up the story and being sure it makes sense.

I'd love it if you, my reader, would read along with me and tell me how I'm doing. Subscribe to me and get the updates when I fix a chapter! Post a comment here, or a review on FP and let me know how I'm doing!

And, if you're a writer, come join CampNanoWriMo! Either way I'd love your support as I work through editing and publishing my first book. This has been a dream of mine since I was young and only recently have I found the road to making it happen. Send me words of encouragement, like my page, or me, on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. If you want, you can make a donation to CampNanoWriMo in my name and support me that way. And read my work, tell me, truly, if you loved it or where you think I missed the boat. The only way I'll improve is by being challenged.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Manic Mondays- Four from the Web

So today I'll take a look and offer my thoughts on four articles that caught my eye. This is a sort of current events but not really since it is opinion and pop-culture more than news.

I hope you enjoy and don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss a moment of the madness!


 The full article can be found here but the gist of it is that she feels it's unfair for the fashion industry to continue using the plus size term when the  average woman's size rests around a 14, which is considered plus. She says it's harmful to women, especially young women, and their body images.

I have to say I agree with her and, of course, I have my own thoughts to add.  Let's also stop making plus size it's own department and line of clothing at the store.  I am, myself, a plus size. I can't shop at many stores because of this and it's not because I'm about to be featured on "My 600 Lb Life." A show that I love for the empowerment it gives to those who are struggling to lose weight and regain their health. Their stories encourage and uplift me when I take the time to watch them.

I hover slightly above a size 18. For those of you who are unfamiliar with shopping for women's plus size that means that if I were about 3 inches smaller I'd still be able to shop in the "Misses" department. A "Misses" size 18 is a little tight, a plus size 18 falls off of me and the 16's are very hard to find.

Additionally, the plus sizes, when I do find one that fits right, often look like tents or sofa prints. I don't know who decided that a paisley print stolen from my grandmothers drapes and fashioned by Paul the tent maker would make me look thinner because it doesn't. It does, however, help me blend in when I'm sitting on the couch in a old hotel, something my introverted self likes to do often.

Finally, lets discuss plus size exercise wear. Or the lack of it. If anyone needed exercise wear it would be me but, alas, it's not available in my size, XXL. I guess only skinny people work out. I am currently squeezing myself into the XL and hoping I'll shrink enough that they'll look less like an accidental and very colorful scuba suit and more like gym wear soon. Am I self-conscious at the Y? Of course I am but oh well, I turn up the music and dance anyway.

Meghan Trainor says it best and I love her for standing up for us.

While I'm on the topic of fashion lets not forget the men. Men used to have it easy, show up, open a door, smile, pay for the meal and he was a keeper.  Things are changing as this Buzzfeed Video showcases.

Lets give the guys a break too! I realized, watching this, that even I do it. My main male characters are all tall, trim and sexy. Is that the reality? Hardly, look around you, just like women, men come in a variety of shapes and sizes, lets love them for their uniqueness. I'm going to work towards changing my thought patterns and if you read my work let me know how I'm doing.

This article caught my eye, in a way it's related to my manic musings above. If you just did a double-take and reread that statement stay with me for a moment. 

PTSD is rapidly becoming a widespread phenomenon and not just among soldiers, although they do weigh heavily in the statistics. Add to that the fact that we lose 22 soldiers a day to suicide, usually PTSD related and that means, "Houston, we have a problem."

What is the cultural idea of who a soldier is? Strong, tough, independent, brave? Those are all words that can be used to define our soldiers. They willingly step up and do what our country asks, no orders, them to do, be it peace keeping missions or other. Now I don't want to start a conversation on the missions, this is not a political piece. They signed up to serve in the military, it's a job and someones got to do it, after that they are simply following orders, they don't get to choose where they are sent or what they do.

Twenty percent of the men and women who are serving our country today are likely to develop PTSD when they get home. Lets stop demonizing it, lets stop pushing it under the carpet in the hopes that it will go away on its own and lets offer them the support they need to heal. Healing is possible. Sure they may never be the same but they can live. How do I know this? I live with a soldier who has PTSD and I have walked beside him over the last ten years as we've come to terms with what it means for us and watched him heal. Is he done? No. Will he ever be completely healed? I don't know, I hope so but I'm going to love him where he is, no matter how hard and never compare him to some unattainable, fairy-tale ideal that doesn't exist.

Lets start the conversation today! Check out these images, you may be surprised at the humanity you see in them. And lets remember that in PTSD everyone suffers.


Finally, I'm going to log off with a slightly less serious topic. If you've made it this far through my manic ranting then this is your reward.

A Japanese company, in response to crowed homes and busy lives has started a pet rental service. For a fee you can rent a few hours of puppy love and then go home. This is almost better than grandchildren! I mean, no pooper scooper duty, no last minute trips, and I might add very expensive, trips to the pet food store because you didn't notice you were opening the last can of food, and definitely no chewed shoes when you're late because Banjo got bored waiting for you. I'm kind of wishing I'd thought of this first!

Now, if my granddaughter is reading this which I highly doubt, she's smart but she isn't reading just yet, I hope. I am not saying I'd rather rent a puppy for a 1/2 hour then spend time with her but the payoff is essentially the same. You can rile them up, feed them lots of junk and then send them home for someone else to deal with, that's playtime you can enjoy. I wonder if this will catch on anywhere else?

Oh well, it's unlikely to become a part of my life since we own a dog who is my hubby's best friend and when he passes on to that playground in the sky we will seriously consider a service dog trained to work with PTSD since that would be amazing for both of us.

I hope you've enjoyed my Manic Musings for this bright and shiny Monday morning. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

So here we are at another challenge, this time it's White Day Challenge. White day is a holiday celebrated in Japan on March 14. In Japan Valentines day is typically celebrated by women giving the men who are important to them a small gift. On White Day the men reciprocate by giving a gift to the women who are important to them. In the spirit of White Day we challenged ourselves to write a story that reflected this tradition of the man repaying a gift he was given by someone important.


Enjoy the Roundup.

This is the result of our latest challenge- it was set up by the group organizer WinnifredArtemis, thank you for feeding my madness. She chose the time-frame and the prompt for our group Writers Challenge.

The rules were simple, you had to write within the timeframe she'd set aside for it, and use the prompt, otherwise you were free to follow the voices in your head, I mean your own creativity. It could be a fanfiction, original work, poem, song, anything the voices in your head told you to write. In the case of the White Day challenge we had one day and the prompt was White Day itself.

I thought it might be cool to share what others had done, they were all good entries and I encourage you to check them out.  The names are linked to their profiles or blogs, the story titles will bring you to the madness. Our group meets on facebook and is open to any writer who wants to join. The submissions are listed in no particular order.

WinnifredArtemis started us off with an Attack on Titan fanfiction. Her entry is brief but engaging. I'm not familiar with the anime but based on WinnifredArtemis's entry I think it must go on my 'to watch' list. Thank you WinnifredArtemis!

Andre is our next submission with a Naruto/Fairy Tail crossover fanfic. For those who don't know a crossover will incorporate the authors favorite parts of both stories. I think Andre did a great job of slipping Naruto into the Fairy Tail world and pairing him up with Lucy. I am familiar with both these anime's and, although I don't currently have any cross-shippings myself, I think the NaruLu is a great one.

Gjalt rejoined us this time around with a No Game, No Life fanfic. He refers to his submission as an attempt at romance but I think he did an great job, and I have another anime added to my 'to watch list' thanks to his story that I now want to know more about.

Isis submitted a fanfic based onProfessor Layton but she assures her reader that they don't need to be familiar with the game to appreciate her story. It's a cute little one shot about a procrastinating boy named Luke. It will leave you smiling and wishing there were more.

Mohit rejoined us this time with another little humorous slice of life called, appropriately, WhiteDay. His plot twist will leave you chuckling and hoping you don't identify with his character too closely.

Finally, I wrote a quick little piece that I called Stepping Out. It is an original work that takes a peek into the romance of a couple trying to find their way in this busy world.

I hope you've enjoyed this little wrap up of our challenge. Follow the links, read their stories and let them know what you think! Writing is our passion, it's what feeds our souls but the reviews are oh so encouraging! And look for our next challenge which will come at us during the busy busy month of April while some of us will be hammering away at our word goals for Camp Nanowrimo. But hey, the picture says it all.

Credit for the lovely picture portraying the madness we give in to goes to my lovely and talented daughter who understands it all too well. 

Of course in the case of fanfics the characters belong to the original creators but the story's all stem from the madness in our heads. Our original works are ours and must be referenced as such if you share them, thank you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Manic Monday Musings

So I know everyone is buzzing with Fifty Shades of Grey. And I'm not here to condemn or support it, I'm here simply with an observation.

I read this article about domestic violence in Cambodia, I encourage you to read it also.  It struck me what a cultural gap there is between us. The women in Cambodia have virtually no recourse when they are abused by their husbands.
First of all, in Cambodia it's not violence until somebody bleeds. That means that when the woman in this article got hit over the head with the blunt end of a machete she was not being abused, but when he chopped her fingers off with it, it finally became a crime. WOW!

Second of all, the laws are designed to preserve the family, not the woman's life. If a woman is abused, and actually reports it because many don't, she has to submit to mediation three times before the court will even consider divorce. Combine that with the fact that 45% of the authorities considered it to be okay for a man to beat his wife if she deserved it and that 42% of wives accepted being drunk as a excuse for abuse and you end up with a culture that accepts the regular abuse of woman. WOW!

Finally, because of the culture in Cambodia, when a man does actually go to jail or prison for abusing his wife she loses all her income. Cambodia is a culture where the women don't work, can't work for a living wage and when you remove the provider because he is abusing his wife she loses her security, home, food, everything. She and her children become homeless. So she is encouraged to not press charges, or to retract them if she does in order to survive.
Now let's compare this to America where women are tweeting that they are “looking for their Mr Grey.”  American women are fantasizing and asking to be tied up and, essentially, abused.  What a difference. I'm not judging anyone who desires this, or finds it erotic, it takes all types, I'm simply thankful that I live in a culture where I can make the choice.

I'm thankful that I live in a culture where I could leave my husband if he wasn't treating me the way I wanted to be treated. Where I could earn a living and support my children, albeit maybe not as well as he has but I could. Where if I call the police because my husband came after me with a machete they wouldn't shrug and wonder what I was making a fuss over.

I know there is a lot wrong with our culture, we still have racism and inequality, and homeless people and poverty,and on and on but there is a lot right with it also.
Virginia Slims, if you are old enough to remember them, used a slogan for a while, “You've come a long way, baby.”  I agree we have. And we need to keep pressing forward because this is not a sprint it is a marathon and we have many laps to go. It is our example that will encourage others to step up and do the right thing, lets remember that.