Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Wrapped Around My Heart by Heather Alexander


Wrapped Around My Heart
Heather Alexander
(The Kincaid Brothers, #1)
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: August 29th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Savvy New York designer, Emma Cole, inexplicably falls through time and into the arms of the most intriguing man she’s ever met—Wyatt Kincaid, a hunky cowboy living in 19th century Montana. Their attraction is instantaneous, but the secrets they each carry may keep the two apart.

When a mysterious string of fires set off a chain of events, the couple must come together to uncover the perpetrator.

Fate brought them together through time, but will their love be strong enough to keep them united through the centuries?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks


A sudden crash outside the garage sounded like a car wreck at high speed or, more precisely, a head-on collision. The ground beneath Emma’s feet shook. She lost her balance and stumbled toward the door. Outside, she expected to see a horrible motor vehicle accident and bodies strewn everywhere.

But there was no crash.

No cars.

No one.

Nothing else, except the house and…

She turned back to the garage. Her breath caught in her lungs. What had been the spotless three-car garage was now a two-story wood barn. A buckboard sat to the side. A tall windmill towered behind the wood structure; on the opposite side, a horse grazed in a paddock.

And one very tall and handsome man with piercing blue eyes that rivaled the Montana sky stood before her. His thick blond hair caressed his forehead. He wiped his hands on a rag, then tucked it into the side of his denim overalls. His rolled-up shirt sleeves exposed tanned muscular forearms. Where did he come from?

She glanced at the house, at him, then back again, and trembled involuntarily. The house had suddenly changed. It looked different—the roof had shingles. Smoke billowed out of the chimney, the smell filling her head.

“Ma’am?” The man’s gaze swept over her from head to toe; a gentle smile touched his lips. Something akin to recognition flickered in his eyes. “Are you…lost?”

Who is this guy, why is he here, and how the hell did my life just get turned upside down?


Heather Alexander writes time-travel, contemporary, and historical romance.

Since she was a child, Heather has been fascinated with time-travel stories and the Old West. After visiting several ghost towns in Montana, she was inspired to combine the two and wrote her first time-travel romance, Wrapped Around My Heart. A Long Island native, she now lives in the south with her family and spends all her free time with her two beloved fur babies. She is currently working on the next book in the Kincaid Brothers series. More information about Heather and her writing is available at

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Monday, August 29, 2022

Theo, Last Man Standing, Book Nine by Suzanne Winslow

(Last Man Standing-Book 9) started out as a whim—a chance to write a novella in a series with fourteen other romance authors. Theo is an airline pilot living in Rancho Bernardo, a suburb of San Diego. His character gave me the opportunity to explore ideas I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time. My husband was a commercial airline pilot for twenty years. I’ve visited my parents in Southern California for twenty-five years. I could build my characters and setting around what I know. Easy, right?

Well, kind of.

I intended to write a sweet story about lost love and second chances. What I got myself into was more than that after Theo’s past revealed itself and made me consider an important question: How do men suffer a heartbreak?

Theo’s heart is broken in college and his story is about how he protects himself from ever feeling that kind of pain again. He has a two-date limit with the women he goes out with. There’s no talk of relationships. No thoughts about marriage. He becomes the last man standing among his closest friends.

This is a romance about second chances, so things turn around for him. But not easily, and not without a little soul-searching on his part. I like to think it’s still a sweet story with a heartwarming happily-ever-after. Theo might think I could’ve been a little easier on him. I think he’ll appreciate his HEA even more by having to work for it!


Theo Thomas chose his aviation career over love. A confirmed bachelor, he’s the last unmarried man among his closest peers. When a Southern California heat wave coincides with a power outage, he’s forced to his friends’ house. He’s surprised to discover their house sitter is the woman who’d forged his opinion on marriage seventeen years ago.

Chief Information Officer Emma Wilson never gave up on love, but try as she might, she hasn’t found anything close to what she felt for Theo—despite hard feelings on both sides. When a new job takes her back to California, she dreads the possibility of seeing him again. So of course, fate lands him right on her doorstep.

As grudges fade and resentment slowly turns to forgiveness, Theo sees life offering him a second chance, but Emma isn’t a starry-eyed girl anymore. She’s a woman who knows her worth, and this time, Theo will have to fight for what he wants.


A familiar, unexpected voice asked, “Is everything okay?”

Theo’s heart punched in his chest. “Emma?”

“Theo?” Her sharp tone clearly told him she held him responsible for what was happening.

Officer Perez narrowed his eyes at Theo. “Do you two know each other?”

He couldn’t believe she’d called the cops on him. Or, maybe he could. “Her name’s Emma Wilson. She knows the people who live here too.”

“How many people have keys to this house?”

Theo shrugged. At least one more than he knew about.

A few seconds passed before Emma came outside ahead of the other police officer. She wore an emerald green bikini, a silver naval piercing, and pale pink polish on her toes. Her hair was shorter and straighter than he remembered. It was pulled back into a ponytail the same chestnut brown as the eyes that still occasionally featured in his dreams. As she got a little closer, he looked away, but not before glimpsing more of her than he had seen in a very long time. She stopped short a few feet away, clicking her fingernails, avoiding eye contact with him too. He didn’t blame her. Not after what he’d said the last time they were together. They hadn’t spoken since. Last he knew, she was an IT director in Detroit. Oliver usually told him when she was coming to California, but not this time. When their eyes finally met, she folded her arms over her stomach, trying to cover herself. All the movement did was show off her cleavage. His eyebrows lifted at her futile effort.

She glared at him.

Perez frowned. “Is everything okay?”

Theo answered yes the same time as Emma.

“Okay, then.” Perez held out his hand. “Let’s see your driver’s licenses.”

Author Bio

Suzanne Winslow writes the kind of stories she loves to read—contemporary romance with relatable characters, unsung heroes and heroines, and true-to-life stories. Nurses, teachers, firefighters, and Marines top her list of champions. Give her a book about strong, brave characters with hidden vulnerabilities and a secret passion, and she’ll binge read to the end!

Suzanne and her husband call Upstate New York home. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s often planning a road trip, or if it’s summertime, hanging out at the lake. Connecting with readers through Instagram, Facebook, and newsletters is a favorite pastime.


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Saturday, August 27, 2022

Potholders and Memories by Liz Flaherty

My friend Karen had a pretty potholder at church that someone had made for her from Christmas fabric, and I thought, What a great idea! I could do that between other projects. When I was a kid, Mom had one of those looms where you used circles of fabric--usually cut from the tops of worn-out socks--to make potholders that were both ugly and indestructible. Once you gave one to your grandmother, she couldn't ever throw it away. 

While I have never been above mediocre as a cook--and sometimes mediocre is a bit of a stretch; ask my kids about cube steak at our house--the kitchen is still my favorite part of the house. It's a place of color, cherry cabinets and dark blue walls. It has shelves and windowsills full of memories, junk drawers I need to clean out someday, and windows that frame my life. Including one over the sink.  Kitchen appliances are third only to computers and sewing machines in my power tool inventory. 

The kitchen aisle is my favorite one in any store, and at the top of my list for gifts both given and received is a package containing dish towels--nice, absorbent, colorful ones--and dishrags. They don't even have to match. And it occurred to me just a few years ago that I don't have to wear the old ones completely out before I get new ones. What a concept!

Memories from Grandma's Kitchen

Oh, but I was talking about potholders, wasn't I? Sorry. I use them all the time, another reason I thought they'd be a good project. I still have a few of my grandmother's. They're not pretty, but they've been in use since the middle of the last century, and when I use one, I think of Grandma Neterer. She wasn't much of a cook, either, but I sure did love being in her kitchen. 

So, one afternoon early this week, I made a hot pad from scraps of Christmas fabric. I knew just how I wanted it to look. 

Well, not like that! It is such a mess that even Duane laughed when I held it up to show him. Really, he laughed, and what does he know about potholders? He's probably never left one close enough to a stove burner to start it on fire, dropped it into the dishwater accidentally when he needed to use it as a trivet, or left it somewhere when he used it to carry a hot dish into a pitch-in.

Since I obviously couldn't use it as a gift, I kept it for myself. It works really well. I used a layer of insulated batting, so I haven't had to mumble swear words when the heat came through it at a time I couldn't set the pan down. I like its colors, and I don't much mind that it's a mess. Grandma's are kind of a mess, too.

Most of our memories are that way, aren't they? I suppose it's okay that we clean them up and remember ourselves as more heroic and smarter than we actually were. To recall that our kids were always truthful and obedient as well as gifted. To insist our own childhood behavior was exemplary because our parents would have settled for nothing less. It gives a certain amount of pleasure to lend perfection to things that probably weren't. 

But the memories we laugh longest and hardest at, that we hold the closest even decades later, are the less-than-perfect ones, aren't they? They're the ones that soften the scars on our hearts just as the messy and old potholders keep us from being burned. 

Have a great week. Make memories. Be nice to somebody. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

My Quiet New York by Anna Taylor Sweringen

Being a native New Yorker the roar and rush that is the normal pace of the city ran in me from sunrise to sunset. I took for granted how the city never sleeps, even if I rarely took advantage of the attractions that draw most tourists there like the Chrysler Building and Radio City Music Hall.

Yet amid the famous and infamous pace attributed to NYC, the city gave me a soul-satisfying quiet that kept me anchored in what was important to me. I think that’s why my favorite song from the musical Hamilton is "Quiet Uptown." The song is a reminder that New York has places of quiet that soothe and calm.

Below is a view of the UN from Four Freedoms Park. Located on the south end of Roosevelt Island, the park is a tribute to FDR’s famous four freedoms speech. I’d go there and just sit and let the quiet calm of the East River wash over me.

Another of my quiet places was the Brooklyn Promenade. You’d think a walkway built over a highway would be noisy, but sitting on one of the benches with Brooklyn Heights behind and the lower Manhattan skyline before always filled me with peace. I got the same sense of stillness riding the best free water ride available: the Staten Island Ferry. Just looking at this photo I can smell the ocean and the feel of the breeze on my face as I gazed at Lady Liberty.

The grandeur of the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library worked its magic on me too. I’d go to the main reading room, fondly remembering thumbing through the old card catalogues then requesting a book and sitting on the bench until my number appeared until I could pick it up just like in the scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Now it’s a research library, but the majesty of the murals painted in tribute to the written word instills a sumptuous stillness of their own.

The quiet continues uptown in the Harlem spaces of St. Nicholas Park, City College and Strivers Row, locations in my Haunted Harlem series.

It’s not only quiet uptown but all over the city if you know where to look. I hope you’ll be able to experience my quiet New York someday.

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Anna Taylor Sweringen has been a member of RWA since 2003. Her first story, Through A Glass Darkly, was an inspirational romance published by White Rose Publishing in 2008 under the penname Anna Taylor. Her Michal Scott steamy historical novellas and short stories are published with the Wild Rose Press, Delilah Devlin’s Boys Behaving Badly anthologies and two charity anthologies published by Passionate Ink. She has been self-publishing her gothic romance ghost stories as Anna M. Taylor since 2020. Her novellas, Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman and Haunted Serenade both won third place in their respective categories in the 2022 National Excellence in Storytelling contest.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

"Rich as wine, the sunset flashes..."

Rich as wine, the sunset flashes
Round the tilted world, and dashes
Up the sloping west and splashes
Red foam over sky and sea —
Till my dream of Autumn, paling
In the splendor all-prevailing,
Like a sallow leaf goes sailing
Down the silence solemnly.
From "A Dream of Autumn" by James Whitcomb Riley

I saw a picture of Coaches Bob Bridge and Tim DuBois on Facebook this morning, sitting on a bench at the edge of North Miami's football field. A cluster of footballs lay on the ground beneath the bench. There they were, the true Legends of the Fall in this part of the county. Go, Warriors.  

Photo by Wendy Keim

My sister-in-law texted me the other day that four of their grandkids were in Purdue at one time. We have one at Ball State and another coaching volleyball in Texas. Only one remains in public school, and he's in middle school. My teacher kids are back in their classrooms, too. Where does the time go?

The road past the school, which stays pretty quiet in summer, crackles with activity now. You need to be careful at the three-way stop at Meridian, because too many people aren't. A bus goes past our house twice a day. I don't believe I'll ever be old enough not to love seeing it. 

The orchards are gearing up. They're busy all year, but this has to be their busiest time. Researching for a book made me aware of different apples at different times, and now whenever we drive past, I wonder which will be first, which will be best, and what will be my new favorite. 

I'm a morning person, and they have been wonderful this middle of August time. Not cool enough to be crisp, but soft instead, and the sun has put on so many free shows in the mornings and the evenings. We had the air conditioning off and the windows open for two weeks. The grass isn't very green and color is beginning to leech from the fields and the leaves on the trees, although not much yet. The corn still rustles instead of crackling. 

Birds are ramping up their suet consumption and I wonder if they're fattening for the winter. I know I am, which is a whole other story, but fall food is so good, isn't it? It's great baking time.

I realize I'm meandering here. It's been a busy week and I'm enjoying its end. I'm drinking my first cup of coffee and watching the gluttonous redheaded woodpecker hanging on the suet feeder. The blue jay, the size of a small chicken, has already been here. Neither of them wanted their picture taken and left.

It's a great day for counting blessings.

Have a good week. Be nice to somebody. 

Monday, August 15, 2022

Meant to Be on BookBub by Nan Reinhardt

My friend Nan Reinhardt has a BookBub deal going on. If you haven't read her River's Edge series yet, this is a good, free way to get a start! I lifted the paragraph below from her website, which is a fun place to visit all by itself.

Meant to Be, Book 2 in the Four Irish Brothers Winery series with Tule Publishing was accepted for a BookBub Feature Deal. It started yesterday and wowzers! We’ve already hit #2 on the Amazon bestseller list and #1 in three other categories. I’m excited and happy because I can already see the other three books in the series and the two that are out in the Lange Brothers series start to rise dramatically in the rankings. It’s fun to know people are discovering your books. I hope I make some lifetime devoted readers.

While you're there, visit Nan's Amazon page to get a look at her backlist and What's Coming Up Soon!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Come Rejoicing by Liz Flaherty

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

I have nothing to say today. Actually, I do. I have plenty. There are times, I admit, that I wish I wrote a political column--not one where I just get political sometimes, but a real political one.

But that's not going to happen. I don't know enough--and yes, that should be a stopper--and my skin is way too thin--and wrinkled--to survive the backlash. 

So, let's just talk.

Has that moon the past few days not been the most beautiful thing? We were coming home last night and I'm almost sure I saw the man in it!

Jan and Gary Wooten
We listen to music a lot. (One of us plays it, too.) Last night we got to listen to old, familiar songs at a friend's house on Lake Manitou. Tonight, Second Saturday, we will listen at Gallery 15. One day this week, while searching out the lyrics to an old hymn, I sang "Bringing In the Sheaves" to no one in particular while I wrote. (I take the term "joyful noise" very seriously.) 

I wouldn't be me if I didn't offer advice. If you don't do lunch with friends, you should. It's so much cheaper than therapy, you can pack a boatload of memories into an hour around a table, no one cares at all about your thin and wrinkled skin, and there isn't time for grudges. (Actually, there should never be time for grudges, but that's another column where I might need to have a teeny bit of focus to offer the subject.)

Are you planning a trip? Where are you going? My idea of travel is a new place every month and Duane's is an old place every four or five years, so you can see why I'm curious. It's called traveling vicariously. Although my friend Nan and I are going to Michigan for a few days soon and it will be so much fun, I have an itch for a new place. Where do you suggest?

I love trees. Just saying. And flowers. I want some of those "naked lady" lilies, some ditch lilies, and every purple flower that grows wild. The ones in this picture were included in my birthday bouquet. The roses are long gone, but these are still brightening up my desk. Other than kids and kittens, I don't grow things well, but if I did, I'd have those lilies and purple flowers. 

We've had the windows open this week. Although, as a survivor of hundreds of hot flashes over the years, I'd never give up central air conditioning, I have enjoyed the reminder of how much I love to hear the birds. 

So that's how I'll leave this one. I hope you've seen the moon, heard the birds, and enjoyed the flowers this week. Oh, and experienced lots of joyful noises, too. Until next time, have a good week, watch out for kids walking to school and school buses stopping--that means you're supposed to stop, too--and take the detours out there; you might see something new. Thank a teacher, hug somebody, and donate to a worthy cause. It'll not only make someone else's day, but your own as well. Be nice to somebody. 


Monday, August 8, 2022

The Power of Great Opening Lines by Randy Overbeck

Today, everything must move in a blur. Downloads can’t be fast; they need to be instantaneous. Calling friends on the cell takes too long and is so yesterday. Just text them. If they care, they’ll text back. If it can’t be squeezed into a tweet, it isn’t worth sharing. And don’t get me started on Tik-Tok. The average view is thirteen seconds! Really? Tik-tok-ers have just few seconds to catch viewers’ eyes…or else they’ll be swiping on to the next one.

I’m not sure who’s to blame but that’s the reality.

The same principle applies to writers and books today. Of course, it has always been that way, kind of. The saying “Don’t judge a book by the cover” mostly does not apply. Many readers do exactly that. “Oh, that cover looks interesting. I’ll check it out the first few pages.” Of course, now the cover is likely a digital image and the first few pages are from the sample on Amazon.

And that’s not really new. It’s just the current version of strolling through our favorite bookstore, browsing the books on the shelves and checking out a few pages of those that look interesting.

But, with today’s speeded up world, with the thirst for instantaneous gratification, authors need to realize readers may likely not browse the first few pages. More likely, they will check out the first page…or maybe the opening paragraph…or even just the first sentence.

But even this is not that new. For centuries, readers have sampled the first sentences of a writer in much the same way they would taste a spoonful of soup to judge its flavor. If the soup was too salty or too spicy or too thin, it would be evident in the first few sips. For years, readers have had much the same approach to novels…and great writers understood this.

Even Charles Dickens—who got paid by the word, remember—recognized that he needed to hook his readers within the first few sentences. His opening lines to A Tale of Two Cities are some of the most famous first lines in literature. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”—A Tale of Two Cities 

Jane Austen, who was writing for a very different audience, understood this point as well. Her most famous work, Pride and Prejudice, continues to win fans two hundred years after it was first published and, in fact, has fueled an entire genre of Regency novels. She realized she needed to hook her readers right from the start.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife.”—Pride and Prejudice

Some of today’s best and most successful authors recognize this truth. They craft opening sentences and paragraphs designed to make readers want more, to feel the need to keep reading. As I’ve read great writers, I’m always struck by the power and pull of the opening of their novels. Take Tom Clancy, the insurance agent who became the most successful techno-thriller author on the ‘80’s and ‘90s. 

This is the opening line from Patriot Games, the second in his Jack Ryan series. “Ryan was nearly killed twice in half an hour.”—Patriot Games 

By the time Patriot Games was published in 1987, The Hunt for Red October had already been a huge best-seller and readers couldn’t stop talking about the hero, Jack Ryan. So, for the opening sentence in book two, the author dispenses with the “Jack” and goes with just “Ryan” and readers are crying for more. Patriot Games would go on to become an even bigger bestseller.

Probably my favorite historical mystery writer, James Benn, has mastered this as well as any. James writes murder mysteries that take place during World War II, with his protagonist, a young detective from Boston transplanted to various sites of the war to investigate. Readers get a healthy and enlightening look at history as well as a darn good whodunit in each entry. And his books always start off with a bang.

“Light travels faster than sound.

Strange the things you think about when you’re about to die. Even as the tracers lit the night air, their tiny silvery phosphorescence clawing at the small aircraft from the ground below, a tiny part of my brain mused on this practical demonstration of the scientific fact. The rest of my brain panicked madly, sending surges of adrenaline coursing through my body, urging me to get the hell out, now.”—The Devouring, a Billy Boyle WWII Mystery 

I mean, how could a reader stop reading after that?

Emerging writers would do well to learn from these experts, old and new. You want your novel to start with a sentence or a paragraph that will catch your readers’ attention. What that is depends largely on your genre and your readers, but there are plenty of fine examples to learn from. Next, the sentence or paragraph needs to leave the readers wanting more, wondering “What’s next?” And these impulses have to be organic to the work. Readers don’t like it when an author dangles a tasty bit to reel his or her readers in and then switches to something else.

When I penned my new series, the Haunted Shores Mysteries, I tried to pay particular attention to this advice. With these novels, I was fortunate as I had much to work with. A reviewer described them as “a cold case murder mystery wrapped in a ghost story with a side of romance, all set in a beautiful resort location.” The different aspects of the narratives gave me several options to craft enticing opening lines.

Consider the start of Crimson at Cape May, the second in the series. 

“There was something off about her.

Darrell Henshaw had first spotted the woman on the Promenade near the corner of the Cape May Convention Hall. Huddled in the shadows, her long white dress soiled and torn, she stared at him with sad eyes that might have once been enchanting but now seemed haunting.”

The woman, of course, is the Haunted Bride, the murder victim of my tale and my hope was to grab readers’ interest from the first page. It must have worked as Crimson earned bestseller status last fall, following in the footsteps of Blood on the Chesapeake, which reached the same rank a few months earlier.

Of course, there is more, much more writers need to do. Strong, enticing writing needs to continue beyond the first paragraph or page. The reader has to say to himself, “I need to keep reading to find out what happens next.” But if we, as writers, can’t hook potential readers in the first line or first paragraph or first page, we’ll never get a chance to tell them the rest of our story. They’ll move on to the next book or worse, the next tweet or Tik-Tok video.


Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children in roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His novels have earned national awards including the Gold Award from Literary Titan, Thriller of the Year from Readers Favorite, Silver Award for Mystery of the Year from ReaderViews and Crown of Excellence from Ind’tale Magazine. Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences. His newest literary project, the podcast, Great Stories about Great Storytellers, exposes the weird and unusual backstories of great storytellers like authors, directors and poets.

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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Hold Fast to Dreams by Liz Flaherty

This came mostly from 2019. The past week or two, I've been buying school supplies here and there, worrying about Covid in the schools, about how kids are bullied, teachers are bullied, and pubic education is under constant fire from the same people who are holding the fire extinguishers behind their backs and saying "Gotcha!" 

Am I biased? You bet. I have kids who teach and a grandson still in middle school. I'm afraid for the students who may not get what they need in the future, whose school curricula may be built around political platforms instead of the truth, and who have to learn to take cover before they learn the alphabet and "Red Rover, Red Rover..." I worry about teachers ending up having to be armed, know...they don't have enough to do. 

I'm a mom and a nana. I got a little sick writing that. Thanks, again, for opening the Window and for reading it even when you don't agree with it.

Her name was Margaret. In my freshman year, she had someone else grade short stories we wrote, just to give us another outlook. I got great feedback--I held onto that a long time. Great feedback is an immeasurable gift. 

His name was Gordon. He encouraged.

Her name was Clauda. She taught both English and Latin, and I learned more about words and their origins than I ever would have thought existed.

Her name was Jane. She didn't think I'd EVER learn to type, but I did. Finally. Not well, but well enough that being a writer was much easier than it might have been.

His name was Joe. He taught Algebra and about life, and when I sold my first book, he brought me a dozen roses.

Her name was Mrs. Sullivan. She was my first grade teacher and she didn't like me, but she let me read with the second graders because I was bored. I was scared to death of her, but I learned. Every day.

His name was Graham, although I don't think they called him that. He taught Senior English. It may have been my favorite class ever. 

His name was Jerry. He was a heck of a basketball coach, and he taught American History and made me love it. He also gave me a C in it. It's where I learned you don't have to be good at something to learn from it and enjoy it. 

I graduated from high school 54 years ago. The list above is a microcosm of the ones who taught me in those 12 years on the way to graduation. I still remember their names, what they looked like, and things they said to me.

On November 19, 2019, almost 20,000 teachers went to the State House in Indianapolis. They sang, they chanted, they wore Red for Ed. They carried signs, they met with legislators, they publicized the shame that is our state's stance on public education. My daughter and son-in-law were there. The support our educators received was humbling. The support they provide to their students should be humbling to the lawmakers; unfortunately, it is not.

I will get off my soapbox now. I realize it's probably not the right place for it. And yet it is. Because of those people up there, I'm a writer. I know about commas and plot and quotation marks. I know that in that 12 years with them, none of them ever told me I couldn't do anything. None of them ever said I wasn't good enough. None of them ever cared where I lived or that I didn't dress as well as other girls. They gave me everything I needed in adulthood's toolbox.

And I'm still so grateful.

To all the teachers and kids and school staff going back to school, have a good week.Be safe. To them and everyone else, be nice to somebody. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Giving MS A Place by Debby Myers

Debby Myers brings a special voice to the Window. Her experiences and her writing voice educate and inform as well as--not to be shallow about it--keep us interested. She's a thespian and a circus performer as well as a reluctant voice for Multiple Sclerosis. Welcome her please. Hold your applause till the end, but by all means, let her hear it.

My birthday is this month. From the time I was old enough to remember, it’s been hot outside on my birthday. I used to love it – I could tan, go hang out at the beach, or just enjoy the great outdoors watching my grandkids play. It’s just another perk that I’ve been robbed of by multiple sclerosis. Heat is no longer my friend, especially combined with our Indiana humidity.

I’ve written here before about my MS. It’s been six years now since my diagnosis. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, although I’m not sure I ever will be. It requires me to be in temperatures around 70 degrees as much as possible. Anything more exposes my body, particularly from my ribcage to my toes, to an awakening of prickliness and spasms. Pins and needles in my legs and jolts of uncontrollable muscle jitters in my thighs, along with tightness from my MS hug tugging at my ribcage, begin when the external thermometer climbs over 80.

Lack of tolerance to heat is just one of more than a dozen symptoms in my unpredictable life with this disease. Don’t get me wrong. I know we all suffer from ailments as we age. I’m 59 now. When my six-year-old grandson asked me how old I was going to be on my birthday, and I said 59, he made an awful face. Most days I make that awful face too. If we really are "only as old as we feel," then I must be 159.

A dear friend came to visit me last week. When he saw me, he said he thought I looked good – healthy and happy. I didn’t want to correct him, because I have become an expert at using my acting skills in these situations. I do my best in social interactions to put on my friendly face instead of an awful one. Because MS is one of those invisible conditions, I can get away with that. Despite my appearance, my body is constantly struggling with stability. It’s not to say there aren’t times when I do feel healthier and happier, but not like I used to before February 12, 2016.

I saw my neurologist in May. She told me she’s pleased that the MS is holding stable. I am getting infusions every six months of Ocrevus. FDA approved in 2017, it is the only drug used to treat Primary Progressive MS, so it came just in time for me. When I began taking it, the drug was new, so the only results to base its effectiveness on were trials. It is designed to slow progression of the disease, reduce new lesions that eat away at the myelin on nerve endings that cause new symptoms. For me, it seems to be doing just that. I am grateful.

I made the decision to attend the circus parade this year. It will mean being pushed around in a wheelchair. That is one of the things that wears away at my dignity. That chair is where I’ll be living permanently one day. I don’t even like anyone to see me in it. Yet I can’t miss the parade. My oldest grandgirl is the new drum major for the Maconaquah Marching Braves. She has been playing flute since sixth grade and was part of the group last year when they took the state title. At the parade I will see her for the first time in her hard-earned role. I can’t miss it because of a wheelchair or because of heat.

Often people ask why the wheelchair. Why not a cane or a walker? Well, those can only take me so far. I struggle the most with my legs, particularly my right leg. the signal from the brain that says “lift the front part of your foot” doesn’t make it. My brain says “take a step” but my body only gets part of the instructions. If I try to walk more than a city block, weakness sets in quickly, as does my balance.

Life with MS can be unpredictable and downright odd from day to day, due to the wide variety and severity of symptoms. All of these and more can be frustrating to experience, let alone try to explain to someone. No one sees the pain, the numbness, the tingling, the tinnitus, the eye problems, bowel and bladder problems, weak for a few days, strong for a few days, energy one day, totally weak the next, depression, the frustration.

I try my best to make peace with it, to give it a place. Yet my shelf is not big enough anymore. Sometimes I feel there is just no more room to hold it. Despite all of it, I will continue to fight it. For this is my life, this is my body, and this is my soul. Mine. And now I’m 59.

Pick up Vex and Valor or Verdicts and Vows at Gallery 15, Anita's Boutique, or from Debby - she'll sign them, too! Book 3 - the climax, Verve and Valor, will be out in the next couple of months, so now is the time to catch up on this amazing trilogy focusing on two families everyone can relate to. 

Also available on Amazon.