Our newest creation

Yes, yes, I know I haven’t posted here as often as I’d like–hopefully you’ve missed me! The good news is I’ve been doing substantial amounts of writing-related work, which is a good thing! The latest venture is this little bit of video, a book trailer for my first published novel, The Elf Queen. A book trailer is supposed to be like a movie trailer, giving enough of the story to entice folk to come see/read my book. (and hopefully the rest of the series!)

So what did you think? Is it exciting? Suspenseful? Must you go buy the book at Amazon right now? Okay, if you must. Pssst:  pass it on…  🙂

Also, come visit blogs around the country where I’m posting, as Lyndi, on the subject of writing, reading and life:

At Southern-Fried Gothic on the importance of setting to your story

With Nicki Markus on how every little change is the beginning of something bigger

and today and Friday with The Greater Fort Worth, Texas Writers, on connecting with readers. Leave a comment on Monday’s or Friday’s post and be entered into a drawing for a free copy of The Elf Queen!

Just another day

Some readers have asked lately why I don’t write as much about autism any more. “How are the children?” they want to know.  It’s kind of funny that this blog started out to connect to other autism families, to learn, to share, to get through the days, and yet three years later what we find as we hit the bottom line is, we’re all alone in this. And it’s not necessarily progress.

Nine years now, we’ve had the diagnoses to work with. And work we have. Hours of meetings, consultations, hospital time, psychological time, special teachers, special classes. The dedication of our lives to this process of helping these three children overcome the cards they’ve been dealt.

Doctor Doo-Be-Do, for the most part, has succeeded in his quest–as much as a boy just this side of adolescence can, I suppose. He’s still disorganized, still emotional, and has a hard time mastering the art of anger. Some of his flightiness is likely ADD, some is hormones, and– he’s a boy. Inexplicable to a mother who’s raised five girls.

He’s going back into therapy this week, mostly to learn to deal with his reactions to other people–how anger and misplaced sarcasm isn’t always the best choice, for example. And how to deal with his brother.

 Little Miss has spent all but the first year of her life in some sort of therapy, whether it was occupational, physical, speech, cognitive, hippo-, water, and now a round of medication. Incredible.

This week, she’s beginning work with a play therapist with the intent to strengthen her language skills. This therapist has been part of her life since she was about four, when all Little Miss could do at their intake appointment was sing the “Chicka-boom” song. She couldn’t answer questions, she couldn’t tell one day from the next, she had no idea of her place in the scheme of life. Now Little Miss has successfully overcome the hurdle into young womanhood, and she’s preparing for the entry into junior high school next year, with half of her day mainstreamed in regular classes, where she does projects extremely well, but tests less so.  In fact, Little Miss has been commended this year for her extreme empathy in assisting the little ones in the beginning autism support classes, helping them come to the right class and entertaining them till the bell rings.

I’m kicking around the possibility of home schooling her during her eighth grade year to really work on her receptive and expressive language skills as well as her life skills.

I’d add the depth of travel, which she loves, to give her tactile, hands-on experiences to flesh out her capacity to file words away and acquire the processing ability to keep her language available for use. With a firm plan of objectives from this long-time therapist, we could work toward goals, both mental and educational. Taking a truck and small camper, we can expand our world. Maps will trace geography. Museums, state and national park resources really bring science language home. Planning trips solidifies executive functioning skills; tracking our budgets enhances practical math skills. We will also read whatever we can get our hands on to make her language the same easy, effortless exchange it is for so many of us.

          If I can pull this off, the process will be documented in a book about that year, a story told in personal moments, therapeutic breakthroughs and pictures. B has suggested a companion volume to be written and documented by Little Miss herself–how interesting is that?? I hope her language expands to the point that’s possible. Maybe her volume can be primarily pictures. That’s the point, after all, to show how creative work can help give a person opportunities to become themselves in a world that doesn’t always see things their way.  Other autistic children might relate better to a book they can see without having to process words, too. She’s come so far already. What a gift for all of us if she could enter high school on the same page as her peers.

And then there’s the Captain.

After his ‘stellar’ behavioral record last year, several suspensions for outbursts and attacks on other students, falling grades, disgusting personal habits, the school sent him to a partial hospitalization program at the beginning of last summer. It was supposed to last till school began in September. Then they said they hoped he’d be done by maybe November. Then January. Now they’re hoping to effect some change by the time school begins in September this year. Maybe.

So far they’ve been able to make him stop hitting people, when it’s a ratio of two staff to ten students. He’s still disrespectful, angry, has tantrums–all the ODD stuff–and he doesn’t care to please others, and believes that he always does everything right and everyone else hates/sabotages/screws him over–all the RAD stuff. He’ll use the Asperger’s as an excuse, when anyone asks him to do something– “You can’t expect me to do that, because I have Asperger’s!” –but he won’t take time to learn about the condition, and the fact that Asperger’s people are just as successful, if not more so, than any other human being. They just have to make an effort first. An effort of any kind.

His hatefulness crosses over to home, too, and we are all treated to his outbursts and refusals to carry his share of responsibility. On a recent trip, he stayed home because of a variety of circumstances, and his little brother was a different person. Free. Happy.  One of those moments that really brings home how oppressive it is to have a child who sucks the life out of the family.

The doctors at the school seem to have the attitude that the Captain is just going to be like this, so we’d best adapt. But after nine years of therapy, including two years of 30-hour a week TSS and now 30-hour a week intensive partial hospitalization for the better part of a year, what else are we going to do? If the professionals can’t handle it, can’t make him see himself, can’t show him why responsible behavior and ambition and caring for others is a good thing, how can two human parents ever hope to?

So, true. I don’t have as much to share about our ongoing experience with autism on a regular basis, because it’s sort of settled into our lives. We still deal with it every day, sometimes on high notes, sometimes on low notes, but it’s now part of the routine, not something we can do something about. But the end of the story hasn’t yet arrived–don’t worry. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

Meanwhile, back with the elves…

Despite my best intentions to try to keep up with the blog, and the rest of my life, the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot continue to intrude into my life. In a good way, of course!

I’m steadily working on book two, The Elf Child, which is due to the editor in a couple of months, trying to get it in reasonable shape before I head to a writers’ class in the Rockies next month.

Publicity for The Elf Queen continues, with copies out to reviewers, book signings to set up, promotional material to order,  personal and web appearances to coordinate. All of which is thrilling, wonderful and completely time-consuming.

After October, I’ll be able to better juggle the schedule, I think. Well, except for NaNoWriMo. Maybe December. Unless I’m sewing pajamas for the grandchildren. 

Hmm. Maybe January.


Can a story make a difference?

This week my second Cup of Comfort story came out in the book A Cup of Comfort for the Adoptive Family. In the story, I share the reason I finally went ahead and adopted the Cabana Boy’s three small children, knowing then that they had lifetime issues.adoptbookcover

Reading through some of the other stories in the book, I’m fascinated by the other journeys parents have taken to expand their families through adoption. There are thousands of ways to begin, no matter if the endings are the same–the creation of bond between parent and child.

The editor describes the book like this:

It takes a loving and caring couple to bring an adopted child into their home. And every year, thousands of couples make room in their homes—and their hearts—for these special children. This story collection celebrates the individuals and families who experience these feelings firsthand. From first-time parents, anxiously awaiting the phone call that their little one has arrived to a single woman who crosses the Atlantic to find her heart’s child, this inspiring collection will touch every person who picks it up. The newest volume from the beloved and bestselling Cup of Comfort® series is sure to resonate with the thousands of happy couples who adopt children every year—and those looking to become mothers and fathers.

I pray the stories in the book provide hope for those still seeking their forever families, on both ends, and reassure those who have gone through the process that all will be well, even if the road isn’t always flat and pleasant. All of us need to be reminded of this from time to time.

When I do adoptions at our local courthouse, the president judge always takes a moment to give a little homily to the adopting parent. He points out that this is a selfless act, that it is something that said parent doesn’t have to do– to take on someone else’s responsibility and make it their own. He commends them for their care and attention, and wishes them well in their new life.

The stories here do the same. If you know someone who is experiencing the many emotions, heartaches and joys of the adoption process, this book might be just the thing to put them at ease.

Writers’ book giveaway

One of the most common pieces of advice given to writers is “Write!” Another is “Read!”

I’m currently reading Save the Cat, by  Blake Snyder, which is a book aimed at screenwriters, but applies to fiction writers in general. It’s interesting to see the techniques screenwriters use to create their characters and scenes without any words for the reader to take in. With so much emphasis on “show, don’t tell,” clearly these skills should become part of our writers’ toolkits as well. I also have Stephen King’s On Writing prepped on my bedstand for another read-through as the New Year begins.

What I’d like to suggest is that you also read about writing, so that you learn some of the tools of the trade. I’ll even make it easy for you. For each of the next five weeks, I’ll give some lucky reader/writer a book about writing. The books I have to give away are:

  • Writing and Selling Your Novel, Jack M. Bickham, Writer’s Digest Books, 1996
  • Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting, Syd Field, MJF Books, 1994
  • Fiction Writer’s Brainstormer, James V. Smith, Jr., Writer’s Digest Books, 2000
  • Conquering the Magazine Market, Connie Emerson, Writer’s Digest Books, 1991
  • Creativity, Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, Harper Collins, 1996

While these books may not be hot off the press, they still have many valuable lessons for writers. Character development, writing interesting scenes, and studying where your fingers find energy for creation are always in style.

So if you’re interested in a chance at one of these books, leave a comment at my blog, and a random comment will be selected each week as a winner! If you aren’t chosen in any given week, try again the following week. Pass on the opportunity to your other writer friends, too.  When any of us gets published, we all win. Good writing and good luck!