18 years ago today, at 2:54 PM, after 36 hours of natural labor, I gave birth to an 8-pound 5-ounce boy. He was perfect. He is perfect. He’s brilliant and hilarious and kind and awesome. Just ask him. He’ll tell you all about how awesome he is. Hey, I never said he was modest. (Kidding!)
I have absolutely loved every single second that I’ve been his mother. Every joke, every laugh and giggle, every argument, every clash of views or opinions, every single thing about being his mom has been a pure joy. I love him more every day, even when I think it isn’t possible to love him any more than I already do.
Without knowing how I got so lucky, I’ve had the pleasure of watching that tiny baby become a man. And not just any man, but a man I’m extremely proud of, for all the reasons I listed above and so many more. It’s been a fabulous 18 years, and I’m very much looking forward to the next stage of his life.
I love you, Dylan Blaize Bettes. More today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.
For a limited time, my heart-wrenching novel THE CRIERS CLUB is free at Amazon.
Adam Spencer, a happily married 37 year-old father of two young boys, has everything he wants. A successful business, a beautiful home, two cars in the garage, and a dog. What he doesn’t want is to die. But Adam doesn’t have a say in the matter. He just found out he has brain cancer.
Troubled by his newly-discovered death sentence, Adam joins a support group for the terminally ill. There, he meets six strangers who are struggling to cope with their own impending demises.
When one member of the group dies, leaving behind an unfulfilled dream, the others realize just how limited their time is. Now, as the youngest member nears the end of his short life, they become determined to make sure the boy’s dream comes true before it’s too late. Together they embark on a road trip that will teach them all what it means to live and to die.
Download THE CRIERS CLUB here, and remember to please leave an honest review at Amazon or somewhere else online after you’ve read it. Thank you in advance.
I just finished watching Celebrity Legacies, the Kurt Cobain episode. By my recollection, this was the second time I’ve seen it. It takes me back to a simpler time, before cell phones, before the internet, before everything meant to make our lives better but which often gets in the way. Nirvana was everywhere. The radio. The jukebox. The stereo. Everywhere. The early ’90s were an amazing time to be alive, and I’m so very happy I got to be a part of it.
If you were lucky enough to live in the ’90s, you surely remember those big CD cases that were kept in your vehicle. They held anywhere from 25-200 CDs. Most were leather binders that zipped closed. I had two of those huge 200-CD capacity binders and a smaller 25-capacity binder.
That’s right. I love music.
While I was riding around with a friend one night, she was on stereo duty and flipping through the pages of my binder in search of another CD to listen to. She saw Nirvana’s Nevermind and made a statement that I still think about. She said, “Everybody I know has this CD in their CD case.” You know what? She was right. I’d never thought about it before that night, but I started paying attention to everyone’s CD collection, and yes, everyone–whether they were grunge rockers or country fans, young or old–everyone had that CD. I assume most still do, though they might have traded in the physical CD for the digital version.
Nevermind is profound in many ways. But that’s looking back on it from the 2016 perspective, after seeing how it knocked the world on its ass. I can’t help but wonder if maybe the reason it touched all of us back then, in the moment, was not only because it was good music, but because we were aware even then that it was important. That it was changing things. That album pushed hair bands to the back of the line and brought forth a flannel-wearing grunge movement that would forever change the landscape of music. I think we knew that. I think that’s why we all wanted to have it, to own it, to hold it in our hands so we could be a part–however small–of that shift. Everybody wants to be a part of something bigger than us, some monumental movement, and I think that for us ’90s people that movement was Nevermind.
When I moved to Austin, I was surprised to learn that every guy and gal hanging out at a coffee shop was a novelist, every barista was sitting on a few truly outstanding, and unpublished, literary masterpieces, and everyone with a beard, a bike or a flowery skirt was either a great poet, the next Flannery O’Connor or the creator of the most amazing movie script in the history of scripts. It took me a week to figure out it was all bullshit. Then I learned that it’s even worse online. To help you figure it out faster, and to clarify things for all the “writers” out there, here’s a list of things that don’t make you a writer:
- Owning a laptop.
- Going to a coffee shop.
- Owning a cat.
- Putting the word author in your Twitter bio.
- Drinking/talking about/enjoying coffee.
- Living next to a university.
- Hanging out with writers.
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It’s inevitable. In the wake of a famous musician’s death, they instantly become number one. This is true of both those who’ve been in the spotlight throughout their career, riding high on their fame and glory, and those whose shine has somewhat dulled. No matter where they are in their career, be it a high or a low, their death thrusts them to the top. Take Michael Jackson, for example. The molestation allegations had nearly devastated his career and reputation, yet the moment news of his death broke, he was number one again. His songs topped the charts, played on all the radio stations, and his CDs flew off the shelves.
2016 has thus far claimed the lives of far too many celebrities. The latest being Percy Sledge and Prince. For some reason, Percy Sledge’s death hasn’t garnered the same attention as that of Prince. But Prince’s death…boy, it has certainly hit the world right in the feels.
As is usually the case, the outpouring of grief among fans of Prince is amazing. People are crying in the streets. They’re writing tributes and painting pictures. In any way they can, people are showing their support and their grief over the loss of one of the most talented musicians to ever have lived.
And then, on the other side of the aisle are people asking why. Why do people care so much when musicians die? Why do people grieve so hard over a person they’ve never met? I have the answer to those questions.
Anyone who has a heart and soul knows how important music is. Every moment of our lives is tied in some way to a song. Drive down the road on any given day with the radio on, and nearly every song will bring to mind a memory, a recall of days gone by. Whether it be happy or sad, good or bad, songs make us remember. They make us feel. They were there when no one else was. A song was playing when you had your first kiss. When you had sex for the first time. When you endured your first heartbreak. When you were riding high in your youth. When you got married. When your child was little. When your parent passed. And no matter how long you live, how many songs are written in your lifetime, hearing that song will always transport you back in time and put you there again. Back with your first love. Back with your parent. Back with your baby. Back when you were young.
Not only are songs time machines, they are also personal. One song will mean something different to everyone. The lyrics touching us each on a different and personal level. We find meaning in the words depending on our situation at the time. This alone makes music magic. Musicians magicians.
To lose the person who gave us so much, the one who gifted us with the magic, is heartbreaking. We would have to be soulless to not weep at the passing of the time lords who gave us those eternal time warps, the ability to return to former days and relive our lives in three-minute snippets.
And maybe, just maybe, another reason it hurts so much to lose someone of such a caliber is because it reminds us all that none of us are immortal. If someone as great as Prince, someone dripping with so much talent, can succumb to death, then what chance do the rest of us have?
RIP, Percy Sledge
On April 20, 1999, Columbine made me aware.
There have been an additional 175 school shootings since Columbine.
81% of school shooters have warning signs that go unnoticed or unreported. Be aware and alert, and report those signs to the proper authorities.
A friend once asked me how I keep all the different characters in my stories straight, how I keep from getting them all confused.
My reply came swiftly.
You have more than one friend, right? Of course you do. You probably have many friends. Each of them have very different lives with many different things going on. Do you get them confused? Do you mistake one friend for another or forget which friend is going through what? No. You keep them all straight. You remember that Pam got a new job while Brian is battling cancer and Joe just got a divorce. You remember these things because they’re real people with real lives. That’s how I see my characters. I created them from nothing so I know everything about them. If I live to be a hundred and create a thousand characters, I’ll always keep them straight and be able to tell them apart because to me, they’re real.
Earlier today, I was perusing the social media and came across an author who was complaining about receiving 1- and 2-star reviews for their book. So I decided to give a little advice to any other writers feeling down about bad reviews.
Reviews aren’t there to fill the dead space on our Amazon profile pages. They serve a purpose. Well, they actually serve a couple of purposes. And though you may feel that one of those purposes is to make the author cry, you’re wrong. That’s not one of them.
Reviews are there to help readers decide whether or not to buy the book.
Reading a book is a huge investment of the reader’s time. In a world where there are so many other things competing for their time, you better make it worth their while. There are far too many good books out there waiting to be read for them to waste their time on a bad one. If they read a bad book, they get upset about it. Angry even. And understandably so. Some of those readers are willing to take a little more of their time and warn other readers to stay away from your book. It happens. You can’t keep them from having an opinion, but you can change their opinion. How? By writing better books.
Reviews are there to help the author better their writing.
If you, the author, are reading your reviews, then you should be learning from them. Did the reader find a lot of typos? Hire a proofreader and get those suckers fixed. Did the reader find a major plot hole? Fix it. Did the reader think you use a certain word too much? Stop doing that.
Now hear me out. I’m not saying do what each and every review says. Reviewers are giving their opinion, and sometimes their opinion is wrong. BUT–if several readers say the same thing, then there’s probably some truth to it.
When I first started out, I got some bad reviews. Hell, I still do sometimes. And yes, it bummed me out a little bit. No one wants to hear that the thing they created from nothing and spent long hours and possibly years working on is bad. But after looking at the reviews of some of the best in the literary world–Koontz, King, etc.–I saw that even they get bad reviews. Yes, even the giants have critics. That made me feel better. Then I remembered the old saying you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
So yes, you are going to get bad reviews from time to time. Even if your book is perfect and flawless, there will be someone who doesn’t like it. You have to learn to deal with that. Do the very best you can and let the rest happen as it will.