This month marks the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. She passed less than two years after her husband, my grandfather. They’ve been on my mind a lot lately. I catch my thoughts slipping into memories, like a bittersweet treat. I saw a typewriter today and thought I’d share one of the many reasons I love them so much.

When I was 15, I wanted a typewriter. I am a techie–always have been–and a writer. I take my wording quite seriously and always have.

This typewriter had a small word-processing feature on it. Not to give away my age, but this would’ve been summer of 1989. Believe me, when I tell you, this was cutting edge.

The typewriter would store one line in its memory and on the small screen. You could go back and edit that line or hit enter at the end and the line would be dashed off by the super-quick typewriting mechanism. I know it wasn’t the kind with keys that popped up for each letter. It was a grandfather to the computers that would come later and so it held the single line in memory then printed it off. There was also–and this was amazing–erasing tape. You could backspace and it would overwrite what had been written with a clear or white square.

I guess I saw this in the Sears catalog that my other grandmother would receive. (I’ve written about her before, too.) I’m not sure how much it cost. More than a hundred–less than three, I suppose. Which was exorbitant. My parents could never have afforded that.  I knew I would never get it, but it was so pretty, and technologically edgy, and perfect for someone who loved words. I knew I wanted to write, though nothing so specific as being a writer had formed. I think I was too scared of how much I wanted it to give it voice.

It was my birthday in July and my grandfather showed up. Now, with my children, he was very hands on. Went to all their school functions–that sort of thing. But with me… he was the big gun. I knew he loved me fiercely and would do anything within his power for me. That was more than enough.

He brought with him a box from Sears that held my beautiful Brother typewriter/word processor. My grandmother was with him, of course. He would’ve never known I wanted it if she hadn’t told him. I remembered wistfully telling her about all the features, how I was going to teach myself to type, how I could use it for school projects. I was… overwhelmed and grateful. I’m still grateful.

I did use it for school. I did teach myself to type, retyping magazine articles over and over until I could type at 90 wpm. I also wrote a few short stories on it. I kept it and used it in college, at least the first couple of years. Then computers took over the world and I managed to get myself one of those.

But, what a gift that was for a budding writer. The ability to write as many words as I wanted, neatly, cohesively. My heart says that maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today if they hadn’t been so generous and thoughtful.

I’m lucky enough to have my parents and a very special Aunt who has been like a combo second-mom/best friend to me over the years. I think the lesson for me is to enjoy each moment with them. Live in it. Feel the gratitude, be overwhelmed. Put the phone down and just be. I hope you’ll do the same this year, because we’re not promised any tomorrows. Let’s enjoy our todays to the fullest.

Here at the Sizemore home, we’re getting ready to celebrate Christmas. To those of you who celebrate differing holidays, like, say, Festivus (a holiday for the rest of us), I wish you lovely celebrations, decadent food, and happiness in the upcoming year.

It’s been a hard year, 2017. I lost my grandmother, I got a 3 book contract. I’ve watched my kids succeed and struggle. I got an Alienware computer (OMGYAY) and a new Nintendo 3DSXL. Not that I’m all about the things… I’m just looking for the stuff I can appreciate. It’s my way of coping. Don’t even get me started on the state of government. I’m kind of happy to see the backside of 2017.

I was hoping to have a cover reveal this week, but, alas, I have no pretties to show you. Yet. I do have a blurb for My Fake Vegas Boyfriend, the first in the Viva Las Vegas trilogy. It will be released on February 6–if you haven’t seen that yet.

1958 Las Vegas. She can ruin his career. He can save her freedom. What’s a little blackmail between strangers?

 

Layla Rosas has been burned too many times—by her cheating ex, her narcissist mother, and now her father who’ll put her in an asylum, for good this time, if she can’t settle down and be a good girl. She needs a quality boyfriend—now—to convince her dad she’s back on the straight and narrow.

 

Jace Russell is good at his job: keeping the wealthy elite who visit his casino safe and happy. When a photographer snaps a career-ending shot of a client, it’s Jace’s duty to do whatever it takes to stop that photo from hitting the press.

 

Layla didn’t intend to take a compromising shot, but that doesn’t mean she won’t use it. When Jace realizes a few fake dates are all she wants in exchange for the negatives, he’s all in—with the added agenda of getting the crazy but beautiful woman between his sheets. But Layla refuses to gamble her heart on the toe-curling kisses of a fake boyfriend. It’s just a few dates. How hard can it be?

Doesn’t that sound like delicious fun? The answer is yes, lovelies. And it is.

For now, from me to you, happy holidays!

I had this great topic (for other writers) dreamed up this month (actually last month, but I digress), but it’s been one of those months.

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I finally finished the second book I had to revise and submitted it to my publisher. Edits for the first (which is being published June 20!) should arrive any day. We had an Open House and Formal Dance here this week with the kids and my daughter’s last day of Cosmetology school was Wednesday.

And I wasn’t there because my husband had to have surgery WAY out of town. And, so of course, we took her out Monday to celebrate. A surprise party with cake then sushi.

It’s been a hell of a month. In just ten days, my daughter and I will be making our way to Arkansas, by way of Nashville (where we will spend the night, going and coming, because I can’t drive that long in one go), to spend a week. She’s meeting up with a friend and I’m spending several days holed up with my critique partner, where I will be slaving away at the third Infamous novel.

No, you didn’t miss the second one. I just submitted it. Cross your fingers, please, that the publisher likes it.

So, here’s a gif of Princess Leia because she’s my hero.

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I’m going to take a deep breath and remind myself that things will eventually settle down.

The time I almost died. Featuring: a killer infection, Dr. Ridenhour, and my book, Infamous. Oh, and some sage advice on living.Settle in for a little story. As usual with me, there’s some drama and a little bit of humor.

You guys remember when I told you I’d become sick earlier this year, so sick I almost died? I wanted to tell you a little more about that.

I was getting ready to send in my manuscript from what’s called an “R & R”–revise and resubmit.

Even though I didn’t know they’d accept it, I just had a feeling. This was it, my chance to break into publishing.

First, let me set the stage a little. I’d had surgery in December. And even though it was over a month later (an awfully long time to show symptoms of becoming septic), I knew something was going wrong for well over a week before I ended up in the hospital.

I was sick, and it got worse every day. I called my surgeon; they called me in medicine for the nausea. Not uncommon with the type of surgery I’d had.

I went to see my surgeon. He told me that even though I’d been running a fever well over 102 degrees, I wasn’t running one at that point, and he just assumed I’d had a stomach bug.

Two days later, I was violently ill, my fever was 104 degrees. I would become desperately chilled as it spiked, then sweaty and hot when it broke. Over and over I went through this. Finally, I went to the hospital, no longer able to say I was going to be okay. I was also a little wonky in the head–a serious fever will do that.

I was hospitalized for eight days while they tried to get this raging infection under control. And one doctor saved my life.

I was trying to remember why I had to fight to live (my kids and husband) and this pervasive question kept popping up. Who would edit my book if I died? Who would sign the publishing contract? No one. It would never see the light of day.

In comes the internal medicine doctor I was referred to. I’m laying in the hospital bed, half out of it, half blasé because I was too sick to be scared, even.

I was not too sick to giggle when the doctor introduced himself, because apparently on the inside I am twelve. “Dr. Ridenhour.” Pronounced RIDE-an-hour. It just struck me as perversely funny and I swore right then that if he helped me, I’d put him in a book someday.

Lucky for me, he was not only an attractive man with a cool name, he was brilliant. He pinpointed right away that I had an internal abcess from the surgery and had slowly gone septic. My body was so close to going into septic shock, I still have flashbacks to the smells of that hospital room, the tastes of the saline as it hit my IV. The night before they gave me antibiotics (finally), when my fever had spiked to 105, and I was having trouble breathing. The nurses packed me in ice and stood around my bed watching anxiously. I was in serious trouble. And I was going to die.

I know not everyone is religious, but I know God brought Dr. Ridenhour into that room to save my life. Not just, obviously, for my manuscript (that is publishing next month–yay!), but for my kids and husband. My husband had lost his mother and best friend only seven months prior to my illness. He couldn’t lose anyone else. My kids had lost a loving great-grandfather and their grandmother just nine months before. And for me. I’m not done living yet.

At the time, I was too sick to be scared for myself. I worried about my family and my book. Now, I get chills when I think how close I came to not having this year, and however many more I have left. My daughter celebrated her twelfth birthday last month and I almost missed that. It hits at times like that.

So, the moral of the story is threefold. One, don’t take even one day for granted. Two, look for Dr. Ridenhour in a book of mine someday. And three, buy my book next month because I almost died and you’d never have seen it. It’s a flipping miracle book.

Click here to find out more about my book and to access pre-order links.

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The Time I Almost Died: A killer infection, hot doctor, miracle book, and advice on living. Click To Tweet

rules thirdI have two adult daughters and an almost twelve-year-old. My middle daughter, nineteen, was complaining because her sister got everything at a younger age than she did: cell phone (she needs it for basketball practice!), later bedtime, social media, and now crazy hair color.

That’s right. I’m letting my almost-twelve-year-old dye her hair purple. I think it’ll help her burgeoning self-esteem. It’s typical at this age to feel like the whole world is staring at you. So why not put her best face forward and, pardon the expression, let her freak flag fly?

My nineteen-year-old has blue hair. She has for a couple of years and, at this point, it’s her business. She pays for it herself (she’s in cosmetology school, so it basically costs her the dye), and she’s an adult. None of my business what she does with her hair.

The thing is, I realize some parents will think I have a lax code for raising my last child. Oh, she’s done all that and just isn’t worried about anything because she’s tired of raising kids, I imagine people thinking. And, I bet, some of them are. People can be terribly judgmental.

Nothing could be further from the truth. For one, I’m not sick of raising kids. I adore my children and being a parent has been the greatest privilege of my life. Second, I have a degree in social and behavioral science. Not only did I study child development in college, it was a good portion of the social work exam (which I aced, thank you very much).

At her age, it’s normal to just want to be invisible. And she did that last year. She didn’t want people looking at her so much that she struggled in school. Don’t look too smart, don’t read in front of the class, don’t excel at anything. And I get it. It’s normal.

But, now? Now she wants to be an individual. And if a purple pixie cut is her way of doing that, then I will pay whatever it costs, including judging looks from other parents, to let her do that.

People will say I let her run wild. She has rules, and I promise you, she is NOT a rule-breaker. But, you know what? I’m kind of hoping she does run a little wild. I didn’t discover myself until my late twenties because I needed a chance to run a little wild. I’d prefer she not have to go through that.

If she can figure out who she is while she’s still young, she has a much better chance at being happy. And I’m all about that.

Have you ever made choices that made people call into question your judgment? Click To Tweet

I’d love to hear about it! Tweet me, leave a message on the FB page, or comment here to let me know.

xo

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I know that last time I was here, I discussed my surgery and apologized for being MIA.

Well, just as I was making my comeback, I became septic. Not to be too dramatic, but I was in the hospital for eight days and nearly died. For real, I’m not exaggerating for effect.

However, I’m well now and finally starting to get my bearings physically as well as mentally and emotionally.

I’m back, for real. Tomorrow I’ll post my writing tweets since last time, and then I’ll continue doing so weekly. I’ll also be blogging on the third Friday monthly and I’m very excited to be heard (read) once again.

Thank you for hanging in there with me and for listening. I heart my readers so hard.

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house1Actual thing I just had to say:

Don’t do wild jazz hands while your sister is trying to do math. Math and jazz hands do NOT go together.

11265726_1639929216225704_1032860535_nToday, I’m sharing with you a conversation between my husband and me, as we stood arm-in-arm and watched my stepdaughter dance with her new husband after the wedding. She’s a nurse as well as just an independent, kind person.

Him: I can’t believe we didn’t screw her up.

Me: I know, right? We did good.

Here’s hoping we’ll manage with the other two!

540fcca1a4e83_-_manners_post-lgI was raised that it’d be better to tie a rock around your neck and jump in a body of water than be rude to people. Don’t get me wrong, this has not helped me at all when, say, a salesperson is rude to me. I’ll keep right on being nice. Nonetheless, these are the rules I live by.

I can’t help but be polite.

Let me tell you, was I in for a shock when I traveled above the Mason-Dixon line. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure all of you up there are very kind people, but you are not sickeningly sweet, like iced tea. Something else you don’t have. For some crazy reason.

I thank everyone.

Speaking of iced tea, I can’t even buy one from the drive-thru without a sincere, “Thank you very much!” Sometimes, I thank people after I do something for them. Some weird ‘thank you for letting me take care of  you.”

I also use the other magic word–please.

As in “please don’t hit my car with that rock,” or “please stop standing on my foot.” It literally doesn’t matter what request I make, I have to couch it in a pleasing way.

I’m so sorry.

I am sorry for everything. Did you forget your umbrella like an idiot when it was already raining? (I do this constantly.) I’m sorry. Do you regret making an ass of yourself at your ex’s wedding? Golly, I’m so sorry. I can have zero culpability for whatever happened to you. I am still sorry for it.

Do manners rule your life, like it or not, or are you one of those strange creatures who can just speak up without thank yous, pleases, and I’m sorries?

lifeI’ve experienced a lot of tragedy in the last three months. In February, one of my friends since childhood was brutally murdered. In March, my grandfather passed away. And last week, my mother-in-law died from a sudden illness.

I am exhausted. I don’t mean that to sound mean, like, “Oh, hey, people dying is very inconvenient for me.” I just feel like I’ve walked through an emotional mine-field. And I have written. I know I have, because since January, I’ve kept a small calendar in which I put a star on every day that I write. I’ve missed maybe four days a month, on average, since the beginning of they year.

I’m proud of that. Like, maybe I walked through an emotional mind-field juggling chain saws. Unfortunately, I had nothing else to write about on the blog except, “Wow, life is hard sometimes.” But, I’m here. I’m surviving. And I’m writing.