This begs the question, did she go buy another one? Or did she just stop wearing them? Which begs the question, hey, can I do that, too? Because this whole bra thing is really uncomfortable.
Which I guess was the point.
I Burned My Bra For This? One Woman’s Fantasy
By Cheryl Shireman
I’m a Baby Boomer. Which means that I remember bell-bottoms, Happy Days, and having only three channels on the television. I played Donny Osmond albums on a record player. My parents watched Gunsmoke, and on Sunday nights we all watched The Wonderful World of Disney. In the living room. Together. On the only television we owned. Imagine that! I remember the first time I saw Bonanza in color. I remember the first time I heard about remote controls for televisions. The whole idea seemed ridiculous. With three channels, really, how often would it be needed? I remember the Watergate hearings playing on the television when I came home from school.
I also remember watching feminists (does anyone use that word anymore?) burn their bras and march for equal rights. I grew up believing that a woman deserves equal pay for equal work and that a woman is not defined by the man she marries or by the children she gives birth to. In fact, we were told that both men and children were optional. The idea seemed revolutionary at the time. It still does. Women were mad as hell and they weren’t taking it anymore. We called it Women’s Liberation, and though it was never said, it was certainly implied (and believed in most circles) that a woman who did not work was a bit inferior to a career woman. That was when such women were called housewives and not “stay at home” moms. Women were divided into two groups – those who worked and those who didn’t. Back then, no one thought that staying home and taking care of a family and home was work. The women of my generation wanted more, demanded more, and believed we were entitled to just that – more. We sometimes looked at our own mothers, most of whom did not have real jobs, as women who simply did not understand that there was more to life than being a mother. If truth be told, we thought they were a bit simple-minded and we secretly vowed to do more with our lives.
And yet…as this Baby Boomer looks at her life, I realize nothing I have ever done, or will ever do, is as important as being a mother. Not career, volunteer work, graduate school, or any creative pursuit. Nothing else even comes close to being a mother. Period.
One of my children lives half an hour away, another is one state away, and the third is on the other side of the world in Denmark. Yesterday, my husband and I spent the entire day with our two-year-old granddaughter. She then spent the night. As I write this, I hear her gentle breathing in the baby monitor positioned atop the table close to where I sit.
To say that my children, and now my granddaughter, have filled my life with love and joy is an understatement. As children, they expanded my heart in ways I could never have imagined. For the first time in my life, I not only understood, but received unconditional love. As adults, they are three people that I know I can always count on. They will always be there for me. Just as I will always be there for them. Can you say the same about your career?
There used to be a television show called Fantasy Island. People visited the island and lived out their fantasies – no matter how wild (okay, not that wild – this was primetime family tv in the seventies). Not too long ago, my husband and I had a discussion about that old tv show and asked each other – What would your fantasy be? Mine was easy. If I could have a Fantasy Island day, I would relive one day with my children. My son would be 10, which would make my daughters 4 and 2. We would spend the day doing whatever they wanted. Going to the park, going to the movies, playing games, baking cookies, or just sitting on the floor playing with Legos and Barbies. I would hug them a lot. And kiss the tops of their heads. And take tons of pictures. I wouldn’t cook. I wouldn’t clean. And I wouldn’t worry about my career.
I would watch my son show his younger sisters how to do things, like he always did in his older brother sort of way. I would watch my 2 year-old daughter follow her older 4 year-old sister around the room, shadowing her every move. Just as she did, even through their college years when they shared an apartment near Indiana University. I would watch the older sister taking care of her younger sister, as if she were her baby. Which is what she called her when she was born – my baby.
Bedtime would be later than usual on that fantasy night. I would tuck them into their beds, fresh from baths and smelling of shampoo. The girls smelling like baby lotion. My son would hug me goodnight with his long skinny arms and tell me he loves me. And I would feel the truth in that. I would tuck in my girls and tell them it is time to go to sleep. I would take extra care in covering the older girl’s feet, because she always kicked her blankets off during the night. I would kiss the baby and hold her a little longer, because I would know that, as I type this she is in Denmark which makes visiting tough.
And, as I walk down the hall and turn out the lights, I would call out to all of them, as I always did… “Goodnight. Love you. Sweet dreams. See you in the morning.”
And that would be my fantasy day. Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with my career as a writer. Even though being a writer has always been my dream. My first novel, Life is But a Dream: On the Lake, was published earlier this year. The main character, Grace Adams, is a woman facing an empty nest and the possible demise of her marriage. Grace withdraws to a secluded lake cabin to redefine her life and try to find a reason to continue living. While at the lake, Grace not only finds renewed purpose and hope, but when things take a turn for the worse at the lake, she finds a strength she never knew she possessed. The novel is thought-provoking, sometimes frightening, and often funny (just like life). It is also, very definitely, fiction.
I’m not Grace. Even though my “nest” is empty, I am enjoying this time and this new focus on my career. I am not suicidal or lacking in purpose. My husband and I both work from home (he designs websites), we live on a lake, and our schedule is our own. It is truly a wonderful time in our lives. Sometimes I have popcorn for dinner. Enough said.
But, would my current life be as wonderful if I had not pursued career and graduate school and developed the skills I am using now? Probably not. I managed to combine work and school and motherhood. I believed I could have it all, and do it all, but to be honest – the kids always came first. And being a mother is the strongest and best part of my identity. It is the thing I am most proud of. My greatest achievement. And, once in a while, I miss those days when toys where scattered across the floor, the washer was always running, and we bought eight gallons of milk a week.
If you have children at home, cherish those simple every-day moments with them. They really will be gone in the blink of an eye – sooner than you can possibly imagine. Put this book down. Now. Go sit on the floor and play a game. Pop some popcorn, put on one of their favorite movies, and cuddle up on the couch. Live that “fantasy” right now. You will never be able to recapture these moments. Enjoy them now. There is no greater gift than the love of your children. Spend the rest of your day letting it pour over you. And pour your love right back over them. You can come back to this book tonight, after they are asleep.
As I type this, I can hear my granddaughter waking up. I am shutting my computer off. Right now, I am going to go upstairs and scoop her up from her crib. She will probably wrap her little arms around my neck and ask, “Play blocks, Bomb Bomb?”
And we will play blocks.
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, Life Is But a Dream: On The Lake, is one of the novel excerpts featured. It is available at most online retailers in trade paperback as well as e-book formats.
One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss
By: Katherine Owen
I was anointed a female fictionista by an overzealous Georgia Bulldog fan on Twitter. I immediately took it for my job description. So, here’s what you should know. I write. I write a lot. And, when I’m not writing, I think about writing a lot. You may think we’re having a conversation, but invariably I’m stealing your name, asking how to spell it, and secretly describing the look on your face in five words or less in my mind. My writing tends to be dark, moody, and sometimes funny. Sometimes, it can be a bit lyrical or even literary. It’s often edgy, so be forewarned. My readers complain they can’t put my books down. Or, just when they think they’ve figured the story out, it changes and becomes something else. My stories tend to be dark and comprised of broken heroines; even the heroes in my books have a few flaws that cause trouble. It’s true; my characters may disappoint you or surprise you or piss you off, but I think you’ll understand why they do what they do because of the way I write them. I strive to reveal the deepest underpinnings about life, about love, and about human nature, but it’s not for the faint of heart. I’ll take you through a proverbial emotional ringer before reaching resolution and it’s never as predictable as you might think. Do I sound like your kind of fictionista? Come along, darling. This way.
Something else you should know about me is that I’m a huge George Clooney fan. Maybe, Up In The Air wasn’t one of his usual gigs, but I loved that movie. And, let’s be frank, I watched ER without him for years, but it was never the same. Never. Anyway, I digress. There’s a scene in Up In The Air where he’s telling this guy to follow his dream after George has told him he’s been laid off. When I saw that scene, it was as if George was practically speaking to me because I was there, two years ago, when I was laid off from a high tech sales job, had always harbored a dream to write full-time, and went for it after that. Is it a coincidence that Up In The Air came out about the same time? I think not.
So now, this is what I do. Write. Write all the time. I’ll admit it was hard at first. It still is—hard, harrowing, humbling. Believe me, it would be easier to go out and get another high paying sales job than write for a living because writing causes me to question my mental toughness so much of the time. Can I do this? Am I good enough?
Yet, here’s what I’ve learned: you just have to turn off that voice in your head off or ignore what is being said. Sometimes, all you need to do is stand up for yourself, stop depending upon the opinions of others, and just go after what you really want.
For me, that’s writing. For you, it might be anything else, but just pursue your passion whatever it is.
With this anthology, my debut novel, Seeing Julia is featured. Seeing Julia is a labor of love and represents a lot of hard work. Truly, this book has caused me as much grief as it has joy. After I first wrote this novel, I entered it into a literary contest and promptly forgot about it. I was busy. I was taking classes at The Writer’s Studio, becoming literary savvy, and writing another novel called Not To Us.
I remember it was a Monday morning in early June of 2010 when I received a call from the president of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association telling me I was a finalist in the romance category with my entry of Seeing Julia. “What?” She asked me if I planned on attending the conference. “Well, I guess so.” Lucky for me, I attended the summer conference, bought a new outfit, and won the Zola Award and first place with Seeing Julia the night of the awards dinner. It was a surreal moment, when I had to go up to the front of the room with those seven hundred people watching and accept my award. But, truly? I was more concerned about navigating all those tables and chairs on my way up to the podium than actually seizing the moment. As word spread about my writing award win, self-doubt had already set in. It was a fluke. It was dumb luck. As high as my emotions soared about winning; they fell just as fast when literary agents still rejected my work. Yes, the win opened a number of literary agent doors for me, but I wrote several different versions of that novel when a number of them took greater interest, but then wanted to change everything about the story. One agent called me up and lectured me for forty-five minutes about the book and then promised to take a look if I made more changes. I sent her the revised manuscript, but she never called again.
This was a year ago. I was at a crossroads with my writing and myself. I kept thinking if I did what they said and changed it, yet again, I would get to the next step—literary bliss. But I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Discouraged, but still determined, I reviewed what the critiques and feedback about Seeing Julia had been. Based on those, I sifted through what I thought would need to be changed and began rewriting the story, working day and night through most of November. With just getting a few hours of sleep each night, I kept up the intense pace and by the time the novel was finished; I knew it was. I’m extremely proud of Seeing Julia. During the process of rewriting it for the last time, I reached an important pinnacle with my writing: I trusted myself. Confidence entered into the realm. And, along with it, swift understanding: I had to make my own literary bliss.
Two additional things became clear. First, it was essential for me to have complete control over the publishing of my work; and second, the publishing industry was in the midst of a perfect storm because of e-books and I needed to take full advantage. And, so I did.
In late April and early May of this year, I released two novels: Seeing Julia and Not To Us. These books are available as e-books as well as print trade paperbacks.
Many wonderful readers have responded to my work. They often reach out to me and let me know how they love my novels. I love and cherish their enthusiasm for my work.
This is literary bliss.
Of course, my family’s number one complaint is that I write too much and all the time. Now, add to that the twittering and the facebooking and the wordpressing and now google plus-ing, and checking Amazon, and taking writing classes; it’s a full-time gig. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The good news is that with the encouragement of my readers and confidence in my writing, I’m working on my third novel, When I See You, and hope to release this book before the end of this year. And, I already have drafts for two other novels, Saving Valentines and Finding Amy.
Oh yes, there are occasions, rare ones, when I’m not writing. That’s when I like to drink a fine wine, check in with my family, and look at my awesome view which I can see when I look up long enough from my computer screen in my writing refuge.
And so, welcome. Welcome to my little piece of the universe.
I’ll leave you with this—a philosophy I now live by, borrowed from one of the greatest women tennis players of all time: “You’ve got to take the initiative and play your game. In a decisive set, confidence is the difference.” Chris Evert
Oh, Chrissy, you are so right!
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, Seeing Julia, is one of the novel excerpts featured. It is available at most online retailers in trade paperback as well as e-book formats.
Smashwords (various e-book formats for Sony e-book, Kobo, Apple iBooks and Diesel)
For more information about Katherine Owen, visit these links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Katherine-Owen/e/B004Z3BG3I/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/KatherineOwen01
Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatherineOwenauthor
I’m on Tumblr, here: http://katherineowen.tumblr.com/
Donna Fasano wrote for Harlequin Books for 20 years before becoming a proud Independent Author. She’s the written over 30 romance and women’s fiction novels that have sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. Her books have won awards and made best-seller lists. Below is the story she contributed to the anthology Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women, 25 Inspiring Stories.
Stepping Into The Light
I sit in the back row, shoulders rounded, knees jumping, my left thumb rubbing a raw spot in the center of my right palm. The sad and lonely sufferings being expressed in the dank, dimly-lit basement are all too real and much too close for comfort. I glance at the door and contemplate escape, but it’s too late. All eyes are upon me. I hesitate only a moment before standing on quaking legs, clearing my throat softly and confessing, “My name is Donna. I’m a writer. And I need to come out of the closet because it’s dark in here.”
Twenty years ago, had there been a group called Writers Anonymous, I would have attended faithfully, pouring out my heart at the weekly meetings. You see, for the couple of years that I spent writing my first novel, I told almost no one what I was doing. My husband knew; in fact, he’s the reason I even attempted what felt like the insurmountable task of plotting out and finishing that first book. He’s also the reason I ended up in this glorious, chaotic, roller-coaster life I’ve lived as an author; however, that’s a story for another day. But when I first started scratching words on a yellow legal pad with a no. 2 pencil (there’s nothing else that stirs my creativity more than the feel of graphite gliding against paper), I didn’t tell a single family member or friend.
Why would I keep my dreams and aspirations such a tightly guarded secret?
I would hazard to guess the answer is the same reason anyone else hides things that could have life-altering potential: fear.
What if I failed? What if I had no talent? What if I didn’t possess the perseverance to finish that first manuscript?
The mere thought of the snide remarks, tittering laughter and looks of skepticism and ridicule I might receive were enough to keep me silent. My imagination has always been strong, and I easily saw the scenes play out in my head.
So you think you’re going to write a book, huh?
But you didn’t go to college.
A romance novel? Really?
If you’re going to try to write, why not write a real book? You know, like a mystery or a thriller; something someone is going to want to read.
My ability to conjure fantasy has always been a blessing and a bane. When reading a book or listening to someone tell a story or imagining repercussions of actions, visions will take shape in my head. Situations feel real, characters become corporal, while my stirred emotions brim and often overflow. Needless to say, Hallmark commercials make me cry. While powerful creativity is a great and necessary trait for a writer who is intent on concocting a compelling tale, it can become crippling if that writer is too focused on the opinions of others.
However, I also have to confess that keeping that first novel-writing dream all to myself charged me with a vibrant energy. I was excited to get my story down on paper. Seeing my plot unfold was absolutely thrilling! Creating my characters was fun. And the fact that no one knew about my clandestine efforts gave me a huge amount of freedom. No one told me I was doing it all wrong; no one suggested I could never reach my goal.
In defense of all the people I kept in the dark all those years ago, I have to admit that most of them were delighted and supportive when I finally divulged that my first manuscript had been purchased by a bona fide publisher. Oh, there was a scoffer or two, and I continue to meet them; you know the type, people who can’t be happy for others or who feel another’s success somehow diminishes his or her own self-worth, but I’ve learned to deal with those people (working with New York City editors forces a writer to grow a thick skin pretty quickly). I merely smile and think about the slew of books I’ve sold and the fan mail I’ve received from all over the world.
Those scoffers seem to have come out of the woodwork now that I’ve reinvented myself as an Indie Author. But venturing into this new arena couldn’t have happened at a better point in my life. I’m confident in my ability to tell a good story. I’m more than satisfied with the career I’ve had, and have no trouble imagining even more success in the future. I saw tangible proof when two of my books made it onto Kindle’s Top 100 List. I’m happy with who I’ve become as a writer and as a person. If my work receives less-than-flattering feedback from a reader, I might not like it, but I also realize it’s not the end of the world; I’ve learned that I can’t please all readers all the time. I love the creative freedom I have as an independent author. I can allow my muse to take me wherever it will. I’m terrifically grateful that there are readers out there who are willing to buy my novels. Every time I read a good review of one of my books I want to (and do!) kiss my husband for suggesting I take a stab at this profession (it’s a habit that’s been very good for my marriage).
So… what’s my point? Well, don’t let the negative opinions of others keep you from dreaming, for one thing. Most of the scary thoughts that run through your head will never happen, and the few that do materialize can be dealt with. You’re stronger than you think. Don’t allow fear to paralyze you. Aspire to be and do whatever it is you want to be and do. Be kind to yourself; you deserve the same compassion and concern that you offer others. And most importantly, know that your dreams matter. Indulge them. Reach for the stars! I did, and I’m still astounded that I snagged a few.
Donna loves to hear from readers! Ways to connect with Donna:
Her blog, Author Donna Fasano, In All Directions
On Facebook, Donna Fasano
On Twitter, DonnaFaz
A few of Donna’s available titles:
His Wife for a While for your Kindle.
Look for other available titles on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
The Phoenix and the Darkness
I’ve been running from The Darkness since I left home at the age of 17. I escaped a broken family to the military, found it unwelcoming to creative non-conformists but fulfilled my commitment. The first man I dated was a drunkard who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder; the second raped me. The rest of my time in the military was a blur of men, the different places I lived and The Darkness stalking me. At the end of my tour, I set my world on fire to keep the Darkness away, abandoned everything and everyone, and emerged from the flames like the mythical Phoenix. I ran home to Ohio. I didn’t stay long and continued onward to New York, where I reinvented myself for a very brief period of contentedness.
It didn’t last. Darkness, fire, rebirth, and a few years, men and states later, I ended up in the arms of yet another unworthy man. I followed him to DC, bore the mental abuse, and tried to tell myself this was the best life would ever get.
I took a job in a field I didn’t care for and ended up running from job-to-job-to-job, unable to find a place where I was happy. I was hit by a drunk driver at 26, leaving me with a long lifetime of constant pain. I had a miscarriage, gave all my money to the unworthy man and couldn’t pay my bills despite the good job. I moved from Virginia to Maryland and back to Virginia, unable to shake the pursuing Darkness. Finally, I put all my belongings in storage, ready to set my word afire and flee once again.
I worked up the nerve to ditch the dysfunctional man, but before I could run far, I met the man who would become my first husband. He wanted normal things: stability, house, family. I convinced myself if I had these things, the Darkness would be gone. He needed a mother, not a wife, but I married him anyway and prayed it was enough.
It wasn’t. I set my world afire once more, and I fled him, too. I put everything I valued in my truck, grabbed the dog, and left. Away from DC, the east coast, everything I owned, my first husband. I ran to Texas to a new job and divorced the first husband. Yet again, I was reborn. Soon after, I met my soul mate. Some part of me knew I couldn’t keep running if I wanted to keep him. I turned around to see if The Darkness still chased me. After fifteen years of running, The Darkness was closer than ever.
I told the man who would become my second husband to stay away from me – I was dangerous. He saw The Darkness, and he saw me.
You’re brilliant and beautiful. I love you, Darkness and all, he said. But if you don’t deal with it and accept the fate for which you were put on this earth, you’ll be consumed by it.
I couldn’t yet face the Darkness even with his support, but I could see how wrong my path was. My path wasn’t a career I loathed, and it wasn’t ignoring my true gift: writing. So I worked full time and wrote full time. I found true joy for the first time in my life, but The Darkness got too close. I ran away from that job – the only job I’d ever remotely enjoyed. This time, I kept my only ally in life – my guardian angel and partner.
I took a new job in a new state. With my husband and my writing, I saw The Darkness recede, and I grew happy. Instead of looking over my shoulder, I started looking into the future. I vowed to run towards something instead of away from something. I wasn’t just reborn – I was alive for the first time in my life.
And then, this past summer, I tripped. The Darkness swallowed me. As in one of my upcoming novels, The Darkness turned me inside out. I couldn’t go to work and could barely leave the house. It pinned me beneath it, and the more I tried to run, the heavier it got. Everything I’d run from in life was there: my near-poverty upbringing; the breaking apart of my family when I was a kid; my struggle with my weight and social anxiety issues; with finding acceptance at any job; with men and dysfunctional relationships; the pending financial disaster I’d been building; fear of failure and ending up as miserable as my parents. I thought I’d suffocate, until the Darkness spoke to me.
You can run again and risk losing the man you love, or you can face me and be happy, it said.
I want to be happy, I replied.
Then do what you must.
It’s not that easy. I’m scared.
Sometimes life only gives us difficult choices, but you still must choose. I am a part of you. You must accept me and deal with me before you can move on, it said.
I thought hard as I looked at all the things I’d accumulated that were bankrupting me financially and emotionally. I looked at what made me happy in life: my husband and my writing. I saw how I’d hurt my most precious treasures – and myself – by setting my world on fire whenever The Darkness got too close.
This is gonna hurt, I told The Darkness.
Not for long, it said. You only have to do this once.
In that moment, I made my choice. I would face The Darkness within me, no matter how hard it was. I loved my husband too much to hurt him more, and I was sick of being a coward. I took a leave of absence in early September to deal with my past as well as the depression and anxiety that have haunted me my whole life. Writing has always been my solace and my passion. Through it, I’ll heal the world I broke and my own soul, and become the partner my husband deserves.
The Phoenix will be reborn once more, not of fire, but of Darkness, and will emerge stronger than ever.
“Write or Die”
2010 was the worst year of my life.
After a very successful career in the banking industry, I suddenly found myself unemployed, my marriage falling apart and to add insult to injury my father dying. I had a 10 month old daughter and suddenly, I was back living with my unmarried, child-free sister with two children. Life was bleak and the most terrifying part about the whole situation was I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.
I was attending university for a degree in International Business but who was I kidding? I’d always hated business; I was good at banking but should I base my career on something I was simply good at or should I be doing something I love? This was my dilemma and I had no one to blame for my predicament but myself.
Plenty of women had overcome more tremendous obstacles so why was I feeling sorry for myself? I steeled my spine and decided to make some real decisions. In the middle of the detritus which was now my life, I found a wonderful and caring man I fell hopelessly in love with but the problem was he didn’t live in this country and he was a successful and driven attorney. What would he want with someone like me? Unemployed, two children, divorced and somewhat shaky ambitions at an age where most women had it made, were married and excelling towards middle age. My life was a mess and I needed a man like a fish needs a bicycle (thanks, U2!).
I took a long hard look at my life and realized I had failed to plan and therefore I had planned to fail.
When I stood at that podium and looked at the few family and friends who had bothered to show up at my dad’s funeral, my life became so clear. My father had had so many chances; so much lost opportunities and had blew all of them due to fear and inertia. I was my father’s daughter; I was falling into that same black hole of despondency with no way out.
It took another fourteen months before I had the actual courage to see out my dream and make it a reality. Isabelle Solal had written a book, In The Past Imperfect, and her good friend, Sion Dayson, had promoted it on her blog. She was tired of waiting for the agent who would never accept the publisher who could never take a chance and had decided to self-publish her fictional book on Amazon. Was this possible? Could I self-publish? Could I take my book which I had tried to find an agent for the past eight years or so and do it myself? Say it isn’t so!
I was so excited about the possibility of publishing, I dug it out of the place it’d warmed my different hard drives and laptops over the years, decided at over one thousand hard back pages, it was much too long to publish as a full length novel, chopped it up into eight parts and hit publish on the first part.
I was ecstatic as I had done my own cover (a beautiful statue which captivated me while I was on my European vacation) and it was just so perfect. Unfortunately, no one else knew I existed and that is when I realized publishing was more than just about hitting a button. I had to make sure my novel was edited, the right cover was used to attract attention and there was a whole list of indie writers I didn’t know about but they were there and ready to be at my service.
In the beginning, I only used Kindle’s Direct Publishing board because that was the only one I knew about. Another writer, Athanasios, who wrote a thrilling book titled Mad Gods, told everyone on the KDP boards about a new Facebook board group called Indie Writers’ Unite. I joined, Cheryl Bradshaw, the creator of IWU accepted me, and the rest is history.
I wish I could say I am selling thousands of copies and I got the guy but that isn’t life and nothing happens without time. I am selling and many people have discovered my work; I have met some of the bravest men and women on the planet at IWU and I feel like a million bucks even if my life still isn’t a bed of roses. The guy, like everything good in life, will take some time and I am willing to put it in and make the effort; nothing worth anything is easy to accomplish for the matter.
I love to write so that is what I’m doing. I enjoy writing whatever moves me, thus I have work in several different genres including Women’s Literature, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I also plan to do a novel I have had in the works for a while that is firmly Mystery with a Thriller twist.
For the first time, I stayed true to myself, my ambitions and what I want my life to be and represent. I know it will get better and all my dreams will come true—many of them already have. My life is still changing, still revolving but I have come out ahead, stronger and more positive than I ever thought possible. I learned the hard way either I write or I can simply subsist and die.
Life is like writing; it isn’t about perfection but it is about the possibilities we are given every day, the decisions we make and what we want to do with them. It is about forks in the road and deciding which direction to take and making the best with whatever is thrown at us once we make our decisions. It is the way it should be and that is simply imperfect.
Heather Marie Adkins
It isn’t easy being the daughter of a police officer, but it’s even more difficult to be the daughter of a female police officer. I would come to understand this early, and often, in my life.
My mom’s career has always been the whirling force of my existence.
She was sworn into the Louisville Police Department on September 10, 1990. I was five years old. For the majority of my developmental years, I bounced through a succession of caretakers—my grandmother, my father and stepmother, and a kind woman I called ‘Mama Lo’—while my mom was forging her way through her early years as a rookie officer.
I remember late nights—my mom in her uniform, her gun belt digging into my side as she bundled me into a blanket to carry me to the car. I remember mornings getting on the school bus, knowing Mom would be coming home from work just in time for me to leave. But when I remember these things, they are snippets: Only bits and pieces of the woman who is my mother. Her job was demanding and sometimes, you just have to sacrifice to make your dreams come true.
When I was ten, Mom aced the Detective test and was granted her first promotion. Suddenly, we were buying a new house in a nice neighborhood. I was in middle school, which was awkward enough, and Mom began working 4 pm to midnight.
Thus began my time as a Latchkey Kid.
I rode the bus home from school and let myself into the house around 4:30 every afternoon. Under Mom’s strict instructions, I would check to make sure all three doors of the house were locked and then I would set the alarm.
Until bedtime, I was on lockdown. No going outside—not even to the backyard. No answering the door, no looking out the windows. Just me and the dog: A tiny Shih-Tzu named Cinnamon.
I was kind of an odd child. I didn’t care much for television, though I did love to play Nintendo. I could rock on some Mario Bros. I also absolutely loved to read, particularly R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Ann M. Martin’s The Babysitter’s Club.
There is really only so much video gaming and reading a girl can do before she wishes she had another hobby. At least, that’s how it was for me. I was lonely. Monday through Friday, every evening alone…it sucked.
It was around this time that my daddy shared with me a novel he was writing. Daddy is a computer guru who does freelance work, but he writes for fun on the side. “Demigod” was one of the most amazing things I had ever read. Not only was I astounded that my dad had such talent, but for the first time I realized there were people behind the books I liked to read.
Armed with nothing more than spiral-bound notebooks and pencils, I began writing.
Between 10 and 16, I wrote seven full-length novels. Today, I suppose they would be considered Young Adult. Some of them were murder mysteries with strong heroines. Many of them had elements of what today is considered Paranormal Romance. Most of my early influences were from authors I enjoyed: Stine, as well as Richie Tankersley Cusick and Christopher Pike. Somewhere in the midst of all this, my mom bought me a laptop and I transferred everything to digital.
I continued to write during high school, though significantly less once I got my driver’s license. I focused mainly on short stories and built up a vast collection that I ended up losing to the nightmare of an erased floppy disk. I majored in English in high school. Earned a couple college credits. And was told multiple times by various English teachers that I had talent.
After graduation, I went away to college at Western Kentucky University. My mother had married a great man who was also a police officer. Between the two of them, I was able to go away to school and thus started several years of BAD DECISIONS. I kicked it off right, as most first-time college teens do. I drank too much and partied too hard, not making it to class, much less spending my time writing. Two years later, I came home to Louisville with my tail between my legs, no smarter than I was before.
Back at my mother and stepfather’s home, I found the situation to be stifling for the girl who had done what she wanted, when she wanted for so long. I was already rebelling—not phoning, disappearing all night—when a chance encounter on the banks of the Ohio River brought a man into my life who was not right for me in more ways than one.
Jason was an ex-con and felon. I was the daughter of two police officers. Cue ominous music.
Let’s skip the dirty parts and go to the section where I pack my things and flee into the night like a bat out of Hades. My parents change the locks, I cut off all contact, and hole up in a hovel on 3rd Street with my friend, Brent. Oh, and in the meantime, my convict boyfriend ends up back in the Slammer.
I bounced around for some time. To an apartment with my cousin, Ryan. Then to a big, fancy house outside of Nashville, Tennessee with Jason’s family. After severing ties with them, I rented a tiny studio apartment downtown. I moved a couple more times, losing money (and myself) in the process.
Not once in the years I spent chasing something, anything in Tennessee did I sit down to write.
In January 2008, I was in debt and barely hanging on to the apartment I was renting. My good-for-nothing, pot-smoking boyfriend-of-the-moment wasn’t helping with the bills because he couldn’t hold a job. My car was on the verge of repossession. I was going nowhere; the only positive thing I did have was that I was talking with my parents again.
Then the life-shattering, earth-moving event. In North Carolina, January 31st, my cousin Cory—a Marine, a firefighter, one of my best friends—was killed in a car accident. He was 25 years old.
My mom drove from Louisville to Nashville the minute she heard. She told me it was because she didn’t want me to be alone, nor did she want to tell me something so sensitive over the phone. That’s just how she is; no matter how terrible a daughter I could be, she always put me first.
Later that same night after she left, I was alone. My deadhead boyfriend wasn’t home, neither was our equally stoned roommate. I was sitting on our single mattress on the floor, looking around our bare room with its one dresser and a floor strewn with clothes. It hit me.
What are you doing? Really?
Was I just trying to prove I could do it on my own? Because I couldn’t. Obviously.
In a flash of grief and pain, I realized my life had spiraled out of control simply because I was too stubborn to admit my parents were right.
I packed my things. My dog and I climbed in the old Jeep. And we came home to Louisville.
During the upheaval of moving back, I also found something I hadn’t yet realized I had lost—my writing. Whether it was my grief over Cory or simply returning home, I don’t know—but I started writing again.
Even better…I finished the novels I had started years before and I have started (and finished) even more in the time since.
I’ve been through a lot in my life. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as some, maybe it wasn’t as rough…but it shows that a girl can make bad decisions, life-changing mistakes, and still bounce back.
My mom is a Major with the Louisville Metro Police force—the third highest ranking female on the department. She just celebrated her 21st anniversary this month. I am in a stable, committed relationship with a man who will one day be my husband. We live in a small but nice home—I’m a police dispatcher. He’s a police officer.
I was a latchkey kid and because of it, I am now a writer. I am the daughter of a female police officer, and because of that, I’m a stronger, better woman.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!
You can see Heather’s outfit of choice at Literary Outfits!
Knight in Shining Armor
by Shéa MacLeod
It’s strange how long a bruise can last.
Long after the physical evidence is gone, the muscles remember. A raised hand or an angry voice, and the body flinches away. The mind tries to forget, bury the pain deep … but the scars are forever.
It didn’t start that way, of course. He said all the right things. Did all the right things. When I was sick he took care of me. When my car broke down he fixed it. I thought I’d finally found my knight in shining armor.
What I’d found was a nightmare. The minute I was hooked, everything changed. It started with the name calling, the blame, the bouts of rage. As time passed, he turned increasingly violent. It was always my fault. I was useless. I’d never be anything. Do anything. Accomplish anything.
If I tried to fight him, he threatened to destroy everyone I loved. To ruin their lives. Stupidly, I believed him.
He was always sorry after.
You might ask why I didn’t leave. It’s a fair question. But until you’ve been there, until you’ve lived through that, you have no idea how messed up a woman’s head gets when she has to live through that day after day. There is no such thing as confidence, self-esteem. You learn to live with the overwhelming conviction that this is all there is. You have nowhere else to go.
That’s the very worst part of abuse. Beyond the bruises and the emotional scars. The absolute knowledge that this is the way you will live. And most likely the way you will die. You don’t deserve anything else.
In a way, I was lucky. I had something else. A secret weapon, if you will. I just had no idea back then how powerful that weapon was.
I could write.
All through those nightmare years I wrote. Not about what I was living through, but about something else. An imaginary world where I would escape, where I was strong. A place where I kicked bad guy ass. A place where I was my own hero.
The writing kept a spark of something alive in me. My soul? Hope? Who knows. But one day, that tiny spark of something flared up. I couldn’t take another minute.
I had nothing. No money. Nowhere to go. But I walked out that door and never looked back.
Nobody rode in on a white horse to save me. I saved myself.
It was a very long uphill struggle to get healthy again, but through it all I kept writing. Writing had always been my passion, now it was my salvation, too.
Through writing I regained my sense of self. I grew strong. Stronger than I ever had been before. Words poured from me as my mind and body healed itself. Slowly but surely I recovered.
It’s nine years later and that life seems like a distant nightmare. The woman I was then could never have dreamed of the life I am living today.
The writing has never stopped. It just moved with me, changing zip codes. I now write in a sunny room in a Georgian townhouse in London, England. I have self published two novels and am about to publish the third. My stories, while sometimes holding a dark edge, are still full of hope and my readers love them. I am now selling enough that I can stay at home and write full time. I made my dreams a reality.
You can, too.
The day I walked out of that abusive relationship was the day I became my own hero. That one action changed everything.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please visit the Hot Peach Pages for a list of agencies all over the world who help women living in domestic violence.
No woman deserves to be abused and mistreated. It’s time to say NO to violence.
It’s time to be your own hero.
“This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, DRAGON WARRIOR, is one of the novels featured. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.”
Check out Shea’s stylings for her book Dragon Warrior here.