Don’t assume, ask–a rule to live by

When I was a kid, maybe fourth or fifth grade, one of the highest honors you could get was to be chosen as a school Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signcrossing guard. Remember those kids? They would wait with the professional guard and help others cross the street, take care of stragglers, all that sort of thing.

At Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Euclid, Ohio, in order to be selected as a student guard, you had to have all A’s and B’s and be a good, reliable student. I’d transferred to the school in fourth grade, so I didn’t get chosen right away, of course, and that was fine. So in fifth grade, I was ready when they announced the names, because I always had good grades and was a teachers’ pet kind of gal. But they didn’t announce mine.

So I worked even harder, and when they announced the names for sixth grade, I just knew I’d be included. They nominated other girls who lived on my street. They nominated just about every one of my classmates in the top reading group. But they didn’t pick me.

I was devastated.

What was wrong with me? I mean, I remember being one of those nerdy kids the cool kids picked on. My stepmother had an odd sense of children’s fashion, and I didn’t have a lot of friends. But this could have been a real self-esteem builder and verification to the other students that I wasn’t a total loser.

It took me awhile, but finally I got up the courage to ask my teacher why I hadn’t been selected. She smiled quite fondly and said, “Oh, Barbara dear, we didn’t think your parents would let you participate.”

So they hadn’t even given me the chance to ask if I could–the school officials had just made that decision for me. Expecting I’d be disappointed by my parents saying ‘no,’ they were being kind by not inviting me.  Forty years later, I still feel that disappointment and loss of vindication.

Raising children on the spectrum brings me into a confrontation with this issue a lot. How often do others–or even us as parents–leave our kids out of activities because it’s assumed they won’t like it/do well at it/be interested? Are we being kind when we shield them from potential failure?

If I assumed that Little Miss couldn’t deal with loud activities because of her sensory issues, she’d never have signed up for chorus, which is one of her favorite classes at school now. She loves singing at concerts. IMGP0394

She would have missed one of the greatest concerts we ever attended–and one she loved–because we’d have skipped it rather than helping her cope with a set of good headphones and a blanket to cover her head when it got overwhelming.

We might have assumed that she couldn’t compete with other children in the county fair contests, but she tended her flowers and won a ribbon every year. She attended dance classes, even though she opted out of the performance. That was okay with me, because I asked her opinion first. She wanted to dance with Miss Heather, but she didn’t want to participate in the end of season event. I don’t see that as someone who doesn’t finish what they start, I see it as someone who’s empowered to make their own choices for age-appropriate activities.

The boys, too, have been offered options–martial arts classes, music classes, theater classes, after school gaming sessions. They don’t choose many, not being particularly ambitious. But they get the first chance of refusal, which I believe is the right way to go.

What about you? Have there been events or activities you’ve offered to your children that you thought they couldn’t/wouldn’t like or be able to participate? Is it better to keep them from the disappointment of failure? What have they tried and succeeded at that surprised you?

***

VoodooDreams_w7507_medOn the same note, I will not assume that you don’t like free books, but I will ASK if you’re interested in this, the third book of the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series, standalone novels of romantic suspense, all with a heroine who’s a lawyer in the great city of Pittsburgh. VOODOO DREAMS is FREE for Kindle December 17-21. You may get one for yourself and as many friends as you think would like it for Christmas! Here’s the storyline:

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

 

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Oh, poor blog…long time no see. So busy, so productive–then what do these dreams mean?

I’ve been meaning to visit here. I swear I have. It’s been weeks and weeks. But not because I had nothing going on. Not because I have no thoughts at all. To the contrary, I’ve been busting out of my seams in most aspects of my life.

I’ve had two novels already published this year, with CONVICTION OF THE HEART debuting in June, SECOND CHANCES coming in July and LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME and THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE both in September. Plus I’m writing away on two novels already contracted for next year, and waiting on the results of three more I’ve submitted.

The publishing, of course, is the easy part–now comes the marketing and social media. Fortunately, I’ve hooked up with a number of other authors and we’re jointly navigating these waters. Many hands make not light work, but a wider reach, certainly, so I’m hoping that these books find their audience.  For those who are curious, you can find the urban fantasy/sci-fi and horror books under Lyndi Alexander–see http://lyndialexander.wordpress.com for the most recent excerpts and updates. The romantic suspense, romance and women’s fiction will be under the name Alana Lorens, and you can find all the news for those, including a two month blog tour blitz this summer at http://alanalorens.com.

In addition to this, of course has been the law job, and the ongoing adventure that is our special needs roller coaster. Dr. Doo-Be-Do was diagnosed on the spectrum this spring, after a string of inexplicable bad behaviors and plummeting grades and social interventions at school, so he’ll be attending a special summer camp this year. The Captain continues in therapeutic foster care, unwilling to engage with the counselor or with us to even begin to work on the issues that got him placed and have to be remedied before we’re willing to have him return.

Little Miss is a bright star in our sky, academically improving bit by bit, enjoying the music and culture of her proper age group, fixing her hair like the other girls and setting her behavior based on what she observes in others. So there, doctor who said she’d never get any better than institutional level! She’ll be traveling with me this summer on a booksigning tour and research trip to Montana to learn about the Montana  Vortex and visit the big woods.

(that’s her on the right, performing with her peers in the May choral concert–they sang Lean on Me, one of her favs from Glee. She was so excited!)

But I keep dreaming about driving in the car and suddenly finding myself in the back seat or the passenger seat, the car heading out of control. Last night it was even a dream with my new grandbaby in the front seat, not even buckled in, and me trying to use the clutch from the back seat.  Sounds like I’m feeling like things are not under my direct command–that I’m not “in the driver’s seat.” Or maybe that’s just my interpretation.

Any dream analysis folk out there have two cents they’d like to pitch in??

And I promise I’ll try to visit here more often again.

Ring out the old, in the new–the important part is in the ringing!

It’s always a toss-up at the end of the year: look back on the year that’s passed, or set that aside and concentrate on the year ahead. Or both. I think that’s the kind of year it’s been for me.

Personally, the year has been a hard one, as we’ve struggled with the issues of our special-needs kids, some of them improving, others not so much. The stress has taken a toll on the marriage, as so often happens. We’ve both retreated into virtual worlds, finding life we can control there. I suppose it says something that we’re still hanging together. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’ll find out, I guess.

We’re getting older and falling apart a little more–but that’s the way of things. Resolutions for next year include to find a therapeutic pool exercise class handy, since the Lyrica didn’t work out. Fibromyalgia is such a frustrating condition. You need to get good sleep to bolster pain management, but the pain prevents good sleep. They recommend exercise, even when you feel like you couldn’t stand to move an inch through your aching muscles. Best practice for me so far is to take something for pain and just soldier through. Hopefully it’ll be better next year.

 Professionally, though, what a raft full of blessings! I scored a part-time job with the county as an attorney for families working through Children’s Services, that came with benefits and a regular paycheck. This opened up my time formerly spent chasing new clients to spend writing.

 I haven’t wasted that time, either. In 2011, I signed contracts for five new novels to come out in 2012 and 2013. This is what my new email signature looks like now:

 Also writing as Lyndi Alexander:
The Elf Queen, 2010 The Elf Child, 2011 and The Elf Mage, 2012, all from Dragonfly Publishing
http://clanelvesofthebitterroot.com
Triad, coming from Dragonfly Publishing in 2012

Also writing as Alana Lorens:
Secrets in the Sand, a novel of romantic suspense—The Wild Rose Press, April 20,2011

 http://alanalorens.com

Conviction of the Heart, coming from The Wild Rose Press in 2012

 Second Chances, due out from Zumaya Publications in 2012

 Post-apocalyptic YA Series The Color of Fear: Plague, The Color of Fear: Journeys and The Color of Fear: Survivors debuts in 2013 from Zumaya Publications

 It took nearly forty years, but I’ve finally become a novelist. Best of all, that last YA series is the book(s) of my heart, the one I’ve sunk my soul into. To find a home for it has been the pinnacle of the year for me. I can’t wait to work with editor Liz Burton and Zumaya and get that into print.

But not today. Today I’m tending to my neglected blogs, which have taken second seat to all my novels and galley proofing the last two months. I’m grateful to have had a plethora of guests on particularly the Clan Elves blog and my romance blog to help keep my readers entertained. I want to set a schedule for the new year to tend to each of them at least weekly. With four books coming out in 2012, I need to make sure people can find them!

Next week I’m spending reviewing Margie Lawson class notes and several other writing books I’ve purchased over the last six months and stalled off reading. I’ve got a lot of writing to do in the next year, and I want to make sure it’s the best it can be. I’m sure you all will let me know if it’s not!

In the meantime, I wish you all a satisfying 2012, in whatever flavor and definition that means to you. Our family will be celebrating a new arrival in the spring–one that’s not between two book covers!– so we have much to look forward to, as well as travel, family and hopefully some sun here and there. May you have many blessings come to you and find that the dream of your heart comes true.

 

Fairies and wizards and elves, oh my!

A few weeks ago, one of my long-time readers and good fans of the Clan Elves series stopped in  while on vacation, bringing me inspiration for more fantasy work:

I’ll add this to the brown wood elf cookie jar and the other pieces slowly trickling in. Pretty soon my office will be a whole fantasy forest! Thanks Lynn and Jon!!

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!

April brings more than showers this year…

That’s right! I’m announcing the arrival of two new bouncing baby books in the next several weeks. I hadn’t planned for them to come out at the same time, but…who’s complaining? Not me!

First, check out book two in the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, THE ELF CHILD. It’s available at Amazon.com in ebook form, at Qoop.com in hardback, and currently at Createspace in paperback, but to Amazon and Barnes and Noble within the next few weeks. Here’s a little teaser for it:

  The moment Astan Hawk accepts his clan’s challenge to protect the young Elf Queen Jelani, trouble dogs his heels. Jelani’s human upbringing clashes with clan tradition and spurs dangerous intrigues within the Circle of Elders.
   Seeking revenge against Jelani for the loss of his mentor Bartolomey, outcast Grigor Biren finds powerful elf mages deep within the forest and sets out to prove himself worthy to learn their secrets.
     When Astan finds that his father Daven supports the agenda of the Circle, he has no choice but to turn to Jelani’s human friends for help.  Paranoid Crispy, empathetic Iris, and computer whiz Lane complicate Jelani’s unexpected pregnancy and the young queen’s attempts to rule her people. After the child is born, everything that could go wrong does.
     Can Astan carry through on his promise to keep Jelani safe when the whole world seems to have turned against them?

Hardback available at Qoop. Ebook at Amazon, Omni-Lit and Fastspring…more to come!

Urban Fantasy not your thing?  Try a little gritty romance in the New Mexico desert.

After a run of bad relationships, Lily Pearl Evans has finally become an independent woman. In the New Mexico desert town of Chaparral, she works for herself, sets her own rules, and is determined no man will hold her back again.

Gene Nicholas worked for more than a decade to achieve his dream to be a doctor. Wanting to share his gifts with those less fortunate, he leaves south Florida to volunteer for Doctors Without Borders in Mexico.

When Gene provokes a showdown with the local Mexican drug cartel, he becomes a man with a price on his head. On the run, he ends up on Lily’s doorstep–a mystery man forced to conceal his past to protect them both. With the cartel’s dangerous web drawing tight around them, can Lily and Gene survive a drug lord’s revenge?  (check the link for an excerpt)

But I’m not taking the rest of the month off. I’ve got another romantic suspense in final edits for TWRP, a science-fiction novel under consideration at Spectra/DelRay, and The Elf Mage is reeling out nicely too.

Now if I could only get my personal life to fall into place….life could be perfect.

Drop by the blog of Emma Lai for my post on how writing helps keep me sane in an insane existence…