REVIEW COMMENTS  

Saved by Doctor Dreamy by Dianne Drake: What an enjoyable, fast-paced read Ms. Drake has penned in this story about a heroine wanting to become more independent, a hero running from his past and where the plot kept me entertained from start to finish due to the medical challenges these two face, their back stories and their growing relationship...Overall, Ms. Drake has penned a really good read in this book where the chemistry was wonderful, the main characters illustrate really well that opposites do attract, and the ending was gratifying.”
~ Sara@HarlequinJunkie

-- ** --     

The Nurse and the Single Dad By Dianne Drake: This was my first time reading a “Harlequin Medical Romance”, which I really enjoyed, given my years of working in healthcare and hospitals specifically. I will definitely look for others...” ~ Sara @HarlequinJunkie

-- ** --     

“As always Dianne never fails to deliver and prove without a shadow of doubt there is hope after tragedy, even if you are not looking for it, and love is always the best medicine, thank you for a truly touching story.” ~ Gwessie Tee

-- ** --

“This was a beautifully written book. This story brought tears to my eyes...” ~ Paula Legate

-- ** --          

“...the Nora Roberts of medicals.”- Author Susan Carlisle

-- ** --     

Two Dianne Drakes under the one cover was an enjoyable treat!
-From Mills & Boon website

-- ** --     

What a sweet romance...I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more of Ms. Drakes’ work.
- From Coffee Time Romance

-- ** --     

I recently discovered her, and enjoy her tremendously.
- Found on Smart Bitches Trashy Books

-- ** --     

For a medical romance this story has more than enough action and drama to hold anyone’s interest, and the romance is only a small portion of its appeal.
- From Coffee Time Romance

-- ** --

Reviewed on the Mills & Boon website:

Firefighter With A Frozen Heart - An excellent story written with emotional depth and understanding.

Engrossing and probably Mrs Drake's best yet.
- Ten out of ten

-- ** --

P.S. You’re a Daddy: This is a story of the love for a sister and family. Funny and loving, laughed, cried and waited for the happy ever after. Good read!

-- ** --

 A Child to Heal Their Hearts: “To be honest a book set in a holiday camp for recovering sick children didn't sound an appealing subject and I'm also not particularly keen when children form a large part of the plot. However Mrs Drake has written so compellingly about this that I was able to forget my prejudices. Reid is an engaging and dedicated hero while enigmatic at first, Keera's emotions were portrayed realistically and sympathetically. There were unexpected turns in the plot and I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. Nine out of ten"

Blog

Zucchini & Yellow Squash!
Posted July 05, 2016

It’s not always about the writing. Sometimes it’s about all that zucchini and yellow squash growing in your back yard. Remember the optimism you had when you first planted those seedlings? Remember keeping your fingers crossed that you’d have a successful little harvest (the key word here being little)? Then, the squash explosion happens and, all of a sudden, you find yourself standing on the street corner, tossing zucchinis into the open windows of passing cars. Paying your vet bill in yellow squash rather than cash. Sneaking around the neighborhood in the middle of the night leaving zucchini and squash on doorsteps. The Craigslist ad: Willing to trade zucchini for ANYTHING!!!

Yep, it’s that time of year so, as I munch on a delicious piece of chocolate zucchini bread, I’m jotting down a few of my favorite recipes that might help you with your summer squash dilemma.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
2 C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
1 TBSP vanilla
3 C flour
3 TBSP unsweet cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 C unpeeled, shredded zucchini
**
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease two 9x5 loaf pans
Combine sugar, oil and vanilla
Add eggs, one at a time, beat after each addition
Combine dry ingredients, add to egg mixture
Add zucchini to the mix
Pour into pans
**
Bake about 1 hour, or until wooden toothpick comes out clean

******

Yellow Squash Casserole (can substitute zucchini)
For a Side Dish
1 medium yellow squash, unpeeled and squashed
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 C Stovetop Stuffing
**
Layer bottom of small baking dish with ½ the squash
Cover with ½ the soup
Top with 1 & 3/4 C stuffing (dry)
Add remaining squash, soup
Top with remaining stuffing and dot with butter
**
Bake at 350 degrees F, 30 minutes
**
For a main dish
Double recipe, use larger baking dish
Add 2 C cooked, deboned chicken to the soup
Cook approx 10 minutes longer, make sure topping doesn’t burn

Zucchini may take a little longer to cook than yellow squash

******

Zucchini Tomato Pie
1 & ½ TBSP vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced (blanch tomatoes for easy peeling)
3 medium zucchinis, unpeeled and diced
3 large eggs
1/3 C milk
1 & ½ C grated cheese (Monterey Jack, Swiss or Cheddar)
3 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 C Bisquick
salt & pepper to taste
Optional: 2 C cooked, crumbled bacon
**
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Grease 10 inch deep pie plate or quiche dish
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat
Add onion and garlic, saute 10 minutes
Stir in tomatoes, saute 5 minutes
Mix in zucchini, cook until tender
Beat eggs in large bowl, stir in milk and Bisquick
Add zucchini mix, mix well
Pour ½ mix into dish, top with cheese (not Parmesan)
Add remaining mix, top with Parmesan
**
Bake 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean and top is golden brown

******

Zucchini Relish
4 - 6 unpeeled zucchini, coarsely chopped
6 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 TBSP salt
2 C sugar
1& ½ C vinegar
1& ½ tsp celery seed
1&1/2 tsp mustard seed
(to make the relish spicy hot, add red pepper flakes, or chop up a couple of your favorite hot peppers)

**
Combine zucchini, carrots, onions salt in bowl. Let stand for 3 hours, then drain.
In large pot, combine sugar, vinegar, spices, optional peppers. Bring to boil.
Add veggies, bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Ladle hot relish into pint jars, leaving ½ inch room for head space
Adjust lids
Immerse in water bath for 15 minutes.
**
Note: This recipe is for canning the relish. However, the relish can be prepared and used fresh without canning it. Would suggest you cut the ingredients in half for a smaller quantity, if you do not can this recipe.

******

Mrs. Johnson’s Best-Ever Zucchini Bread
(Mrs. Johnson was the head baker in my high school cafeteria)
3 eggs
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
½ C raisins
½ C coconut
2 C grated unpeeled zucchinis
1 C chopped nuts ( your choice of nuts)
1 tsp salt
3 tsp vanilla
3C flour
1 tsp nutmeg

**
Combine all ingredients
**
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Grease two 9x5 loaf pans
Pour mixture into pans
Bake 1 hour, or 'til toothpick comes out clean

So...that’s it. My contribution to your summer squash overgrowth. Some other suggestions - sliced, breaded, fried; sauteed; pancakes; salads; fritters; stuffed and baked; lasagna; muffins...the sky’s the limit with your limitless supply of squash. So instead of paying neighborhood kids cold, hard cash to haul off bushels of the green or yellow stuff, bake yourself a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread, slice off a piece, sit down and munch it while you write a blog about all the ingenious ways you’ve used your squash.

Oh, and before I go—
Zucchini fresh:
Serving Size: 1 cup (124g), Calories: 20, Fat: 0.2g, Carbs: 4.2g, Protein: 1.5g
Yellow squash fresh:
Serving Size: 1 cup, Calories: 18, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 4g, Protein: 2g

As always, wishing you health and happiness...
DD

WHAT WRITING MEANS TO ME
Posted May 17, 2016

What writing means to me... Actually, I could sum that up in one word. Everything. Writing means everything to me. OK, so now I’m done with this blog. I’ve said everything I need to say and I can get back to my book. Except for one thing. Recently, my ability to do my writing was put to a test with a medical crisis that nearly cost me my life.

It sounds drastic, and for a while, it was. Of course, I recovered, which is why I’m posting this blog today, and relieved and happy to do so. But a few months ago, my abilities were called into question as the book I was writing started to become a major effort for me. I couldn’t concentrate on the words I was trying to put down on the page, couldn’t formulate sound ideas, couldn’t get my thoughts organized enough to go from page to page. In essence, writing one page was an effort. Writing more than one was almost an impossibility. These were all warning signs of something dire yet to come, but I wasn’t reading them. Had no clue I was deteriorating. Rather, I was fixing an idea in my mind that I didn’t like to write anymore.

Then came the day when I couldn’t type. The ideas would rattle around in my brain but when I tried to type them, the only thing that transferred to the computer screen was gobbledygook. Lines and lines of nonsensical phrases and random letters. My first inclination was that my laptop had gone bad, so I bought a new laptop. But it seemed to be afflicted with the same malady, so another brick went into place in my I don’t like to write anymore wall. I had a book to finish, though, so I hired someone to take my dictation and we did half a book where the ideas came out of my mind and went to the computer screen through someone else’s fingers. Let me tell you, that’s a hard way to do it, especially when my little falling asleep thing started to manifest. Yes, I’d dictate a sentence or two, then fall asleep. And I did this all the way to the end of the book. A book that, which I might add, will never be published, much to my relief. (Much later on, one of my doctors said he’d be interested in reading what a brain in my condition would produce. By then, I’d already asked my editor to toss the book.)

Long story short, now. My husband found me unconscious, I went to the hospital, hung around in a coma-like state for a few days and eventually started to come to. Didn’t have a realization of who I was, where I was, why I was so confused. Didn’t remember that I was a writer, either. So this state of blurriness went on for a while, until I started becoming more aware of what was going on around me. That’s when I noticed that I couldn’t talk right. The things coming out of my mouth were not the things I was trying to say, and I could hear it every time I spoke. More than that, I couldn’t remember so many things. In essence my entire 2015 year was gone, with a few exceptions. The doctors have since told me that my amnesia won’t reverse, and what’s gone is gone. But when I was trying to grapple with these holes in my memory, it was difficult and frustrating.

Then one day, one of my doctors came into my room and said, “I understand you’re a writer. What do you write?” That simple question turned so much back on for me. I remembered writing. I remembered my magazine articles, I remembered my books! This was a breakthrough, maybe my first one. It gave me my first real sense of myself.

So time marched on. The doctors diagnosed me with a freak ammonia buildup in my brain, which had been happening to me gradually over about a year’s time. It literally wreaks havoc with brain function in almost every capacity. Causes a lot of damage. Left untreated, you die. Anyway, they told me what residual damage had resulted, explained my future course to prevent it from happening again, got me medicated and regulated, wished me luck and sent me to a rehab center for further recovery. And I was facing that recovery with a renewed desire to write. I wanted to write again! But could I?

After a person loses as much of themselves the way I did, and the bits and pieces of what’s left over are returning randomly, day after day, it’s always frightening to wonder what will come back and what won’t. I already knew that chunks of my memory wouldn’t come back, but I was encouraged by the fact that my ability to speak had returned. And I was encouraged that I remembered how to walk, how to eat, and how to read...things that were gone from me for a while. But the big question that always hung over my head was, can I write again? Truth was, I didn’t even know if I could type let alone write another book. I was scared to try when the occupational therapist persistently pushed a computer at me and told me to have at it.

I always refused. Wouldn’t play a computer game, wouldn’t log in to my email or Facebook. Connecting with that computer was one of the biggest fears I’ve ever had to face because I didn’t want to find out that one of the things I’d lost was my writing. Still, the therapist continued to try with me, and so did my husband. He’d come up to see me every night, bringing my laptop with him. And I’d always refuse to open it. Fall back into my pillows, close my eyes and refuse to even look at the thing.

But then one night, it happened. After a lot of pressure from my therapists, my husband and family, the nursing staff and my friends, I finally logged in. It was a big step, but it felt good. So did accessing Facebook and my email. The memory of how to do that was still there! Still, my writing...I didn’t know. Didn’t have enough courage to find out. Stayed that cowardly until I went home weeks later. Then one day, when nobody was around to see my failure, I opened my laptop and attempted to write one page of something I hoped could be turned into a book. Turned out, it wasn’t bad at all. So I wrote another page, then another. Those pages eventually turned into the book I finished and sent to my editor two days ago!

I’m lucky that I have great editors at Harlequin. Both Sheila Hodgson and Julia Williams were patient with me when I was, essentially, gone from them for a while. They encouraged me to take care of myself first, and write when I felt up to it. Of course, I was worried about the two books I’d yet to write on a four-book contract. Take your time, Sheila and Julia told me. But I didn’t want to take time, as so much time had already been taken from me. And the thing that really fascinated me as I began writing again is that I was approaching it with an enthusiasm I hadn’t felt for writing since I can’t remember when.

Those were dark days, when I thought I’d never write again. I’d faced death and amnesia and a long, difficult recovery, which were traumatic. But what was equally traumatic was the possibility that I might face life without one of the things I love most in the world. Thank the good lord that didn’t happen. I got it all back.

So, what does writing mean to me? That’s an easy question to answer. And I answer it in all due humility and enthusiasm. Writing means everything!

As always, wishing you health and happiness. And being able to do the things you love most.

Please feel free to email at DianneDrake@earthlink.net
Or visit my web page at www.Dianne-Drake.com/
Or contact me through Facebook at www.facebook.com/DianneDrakeAuthor

 

WHY I’M READING A BAD BOOK
Posted June 15, 2015

I’m reading a really bad book right now. Probably the worst book I’ve laid eyes on in the past couple of years. The writing is bad, grammar is wrong in too many places, spelling is off, the historical facts are way off, the historical liberties taken reach way too far for comfort, and we’re not talking by just a little bit. The writer obviously didn’t do his homework. Either that, or he totally underestimated his reader. Doesn’t really matter which one, because his history is so wrong it’s actually made me laugh out loud.

Yet, every time I come across one of the glaring errors, which seems to be about every other page, I vow I won’t read the next page. Although I do anyway.

Why haven’t I just put it down and moved on to something else? I honestly don’t know. The farther I get into the story the more this book promises to frustrated me. I truly don’t believe the author is skilled enough to carry out a decent ending and I can pretty much predict the corner he’s going to write himself into. But I’m a third of the way through, and still threatening to quit.

So, why don’t I?

The first answer is simple. I paid good money for this book. It wasn’t one of the freebie e-books that are so abundantly offered these days, wasn’t even a cheap e-book. It was a top-cost e-book for which I paid enough that I want my money’s worth, even if that means more frustration all the way through to the bitter end. Does that make me cheap? Yes and no. Yes, because I resent having paid for this drivel (which somehow sucked in a fairly good Amazon rating). No, because I’m a little bit habitual, having been raised by the daughter of a depression-era mother, who never threw anything away if it had a purpose, and who certainly never invested in a book without reading it through cover to cover.

My mother learned from her mother, and I learned from my mother. We didn’t waste food, we didn’t waste resources, we didn’t waste money. I still don’t. I was married probably twenty years before I could actually leave food on my plate without feeling guilty. My house is always dark, no extra lights on if they’re not needed. And I can’t tell you how many “bad” books I’ve read only because I bought them. Sad thing about that is, life’s short, and there are so many good books to read. But old habits die hard, don’t they?

So, that’s my first answer. The one that doesn’t come from a writer. The second answer comes from the writer in me. My husband accused me of wanting to hang in just to see an epic fail. I think it’s the other way around. I want to see this book turn into an epic success. I’ve written myself into the same corner I’m predicting for this author. I’m sure that I’ve produced my own share of work that some reader has called it drivel. As writers, we all have. For me, though, I just want this book to succeed in the worst way. I don’t want to give up on it because I can imagine how long it took the author to write it, and I know how he must have slaved over the edits even though, in my opinion, someone didn’t get them right.

I never want to see a book fall flat because I’ve literally been there, done that with my own books and I know the process intimately. So even in a book where I see so many wrongs, I really do want it to right itself by the end. And that optimism is also something I learned from the best example – someone who always looked at things on the bright side. Having food on the plate was a blessing. Having a light to turn off and on was a miracle. And having the money to buy a book was good fortune many do not have.

So for now, I’m reading a bad book and keeping my fingers crossed, because the author deserves that much from me. But I’ve also invested in the James Patterson Master Class just to get his impression of what a good book is and so far, he’s right on every count. Of course, it’s James Patterson, what do you expect? But he says a good book holds its reader’s interest from start to finish, that it doesn’t let its reader down somewhere along the way. Most of all a good book is one you enjoy reading. So I suppose I’m lucky that in my lifetime I’ve read more good books than bad ones. Either way, I enjoy reading books both good and bad. Good books because they hold my attention and give me something to look forward to. Bad books because they teach me what I need to know to improve my own writing. Nobody sets out to write a bad book, so here’s to all the authors who end up writing them. I hope they read some good books along the way so they can see the difference.

Until next time, here’s wishing you health and happiness…

DD

 

The Value of Some Mental R & R
Posted April 9, 2015
Harlequin Medical Romance Authors Blog


Chris is getting ready to zipline

On a mountain vacation a little while ago I did absolutely nothing but lounge and gaze at the scenery, I’m not ready to get back to work. But isn’t that always the way? You need a vacation to recover from your vacation?

So, what’s the point of going in the first place? Honestly, no matter how long your little escape turns out to be, it’s never long enough. Please, give me just one more day. Then there’s the exhaustion factor, that dead weight that just keeps hanging on and on and on days or weeks afterwards, even if you haven’t so much as lifted your little finger during your time off. Could somebody lift that margarita to my lips? Oh, and the overwhelming feeling that if only you could live in vacation mode for the rest of your life, your life would be perfect. Oh, the good life… It’s so nice for a few days, even for a week or two, then it’s back to the same ol’ grind you left behind and, trust me, nothing inside that grind has changed.

So, let me repeat myself. What’s the point? Well, for me, the point was to spend quality time with family. Let me tell you right now that vacationing with adult kids isn’t much different from vacationing with little kids. They still get hungry and whine for snacks, they still get bored and want to know when they can go play, they still want mom to pick up their dirty clothes. And the trip there – thank God for the Angry Birds app on my phone and my Kindle, or I’ll swear I’d have had a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds beating up each other in the back seat.

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Nobody wanted my Kindle. They wanted my computer games. The thing is, we had quality time, all of it coming in different levels and forms. I claimed the early mornings on the deck, watching the sun come up over the mountains, all by myself. I did some writing – not as much as I’d promised myself I’d do. And I did even more thinking (while they slept in). The neat thing was, we were under the same roof, and that consumed my thoughts probably more than anything else. What I realized was that, as a family, we haven’t changed substantially, except for the addition of some people – spouses and extended members. The really neat things was, we’d had this vacation before, probably twenty years ago and, in some ways, it was like we simply stepped right back into it. We went to the same places, sought out the same restaurants, indulged in many of the same experiences we did way back when. In fact, we were so busy seeking out the old we hardly got around to anything new. Except, in a way, we were all new. Older, wiser, gone on to other ventures and adventures in our lives. Still, in so many ways, we were that same family.

And that was the real point of our vacation, something I pondered one of those morning on the deck when the rest of them were still sleeping. We were there to remind us of who we are, not so much as individuals, but as a family. We’re all adults, we have separate ways, but on the last night, when we dined at the restaurant that was literally built over a mountain stream – the restaurant we dined at on our last night there 20 years ago – that’s when I realized that the tie that bound us as a family all those years ago still binds. Sure, it’s different now. We have Angry Birds, electronic books and computer games, we all have careers, we all can’t fit comfortably into the same car. But those things don’t matter. Thomas Wolfe might have said you can’t go home again, and maybe, in some ways, you can’t. But you can sure vacation again and, in a very important way, that’s part of home. So important, in fact, that we’ve just booked the same cabin for another , same place, same activities. I’ll swear, though, that if I ever hear another one of those insidious laughs from Angry Birds…

As always, wishing you health and happiness!

DD

 

The Life of the Artist
June 18, 2014

My life is what it is.  Busy.  Never enough time to do all the things I need to do let alone what I want to do.  Working on the blog in the last hour of the day is a testament to all the things I complain about.  But the upside is, I get to write, and someone wants my writing.  I appreciate that, and never, ever take it for granted.  It’s what I want to do.  My dream.

Last night though, I was party to the dream of another artist.  A duo, actually.  Musicians.  They’ve practiced quite a long time, worked hard, all with the hope of doing what I do - being able to show their art to a handful of people.  Their chance came, and we all went down to support them.  It was a nice gig, too.  Fairly large nightclub, new, modern, great acoustics.  An ideal situation for a musician. 

So we sat through the first half of the performance, enjoying it.  Of course, I’m a little prejudiced because these are my friends.  But the audience seemed to be enjoying it too.  And as my friends’ opening jitters gave way to the joy that comes from having your work appreciated, it was turning into a very nice evening.

Then the unthinkable happened.  They were fired.  In the middle of their evening, the manager told them to pack up and leave.  Explanations were vague, people in the audience were surprised, even the servers in the bar were shocked.  Then came the reasons, none of them making particular sense.  There weren’t enough people in the bar to keep on paying them.  They might close early because a storm was coming in.  They were too loud.  They weren’t loud enough.  Truthfully, the reasons didn’t matter.  Two people who’d put their heart out there for the enjoyment of others had just had their hearts broken.  Let me tell you, it was a bummer.  And I can say that from personal experience because I’ve had my writing rejected before.  I know what it’s like to put everything you’ve got into your art only to be told it’s not good enough.  It happens to all of us at one time or another, and it sure doesn’t feel good. 

But we keep on doing it. Take the next chance and hope it goes our way.  Keep our fingers crossed we don’t end up taking it on the chin or in the heart.  Why?  Because that’s who we are.  No, we don’t like the punishment, don’t like facing the prospect that there will be those who don’t like what we do.  The thing is, somebody out there will like us.  That’s the reward, almost as much as the creative process we must subject ourselves to is also the reward.  In other words, we take the bad with the good because the good is so very good when it happens. 

The mark of the real artist, though, is someone who toughs it out and tries again after the rejection.  I’ve always done that because I’m a writer and I have to write.  My friends will be licking wounds for a little while, and wondering if they ever want to perform again.  But they will.  Next time a gig comes their way, they’ll be on top of it because that’s who they are, and it’s what they have to do.

So here’s to the artist and the life he or she lives.  It doesn’t always turn out the way it should, but that’s OK because the best books we’ve ever read, the best paintings we’ve ever seen, the best music we’ve ever listened to has been written, painted or composed by someone, who like my friends, or me, has been rejected. 

Until next time, wishing you health & happiness.

Dianne


What Gets Us Through
January 9, 2014

Blogging’s not one of my favorite things to do because I really don’t have much to say, but I blog occasionally because writers blog. Or shall I say blogged, in the past tense.  Then one day my life changed.  I was diagnosed with cancer.  Wasn’t sick, wasn’t feeling bad.  Life was pretty much normal, except there was this one morning it wasn’t so normal, and a couple of hours later I had a diagnosis.  Doc wasn’t sure how pervasive it was - could be uterine, could be ovarian, we’ll know more later, is what he told me.  But, it’s definitely cancer.

Cancer.  That’s not what anybody wants to hear.  For me, my first thought was the live or die thing, naturally.  Then being the writer I am, my second thought was literally an upcoming deadline, and how cancer was going to wreak havoc with it.  So a few days and a few tests later, I got the news that while they still didn’t know much, surgery was in my near future, which was fine because the parts they were going to take just happened to be parts I no longer needed.  So that worked out pretty well, all things considered. 

The next sequence of events turn into a long, boring story about how my first surgeon didn’t get back to me for 50 days after breaking the news - you know, like in: You’ve got cancer, don’t call us, we’ll call you.  How I waited for that call for three weeks and finally went off in search of another surgeon who was more responsive, and treated my condition with some urgency.  How I had a radical hysterectomy and went through the recovery.  How, three weeks after my surgery by my second surgeon (yay!), my first surgeon (boo!) finally called me back and wanted to schedule my surgery in the next month or so.  How I filed a complaint about that surgeon with the hospital where he operates and went to other lengths to further irritate him and make me feel better.  Then there were the little things like firing the anesthesiologist while I was on the operating table waiting for him to put me under (he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, let alone my vein, with an IV needle and I sure as heck didn’t want him in charge of knocking me out).  And my body suddenly discovering it was without its usual hormones, and all the crazies that went along with that.  (Ask me about how all the books on the shelves in my office suddenly made me claustrophobic, and I’ll tell you about some other strangeness that deserves to be a short story in and of itself.) All of it medical drama that I took charge of and came out on top of because I used to be a nurse and I know my way around the medical system. 

Still, it was the fear of not being able to write that bothered me almost more than the cancer.  Or maybe my writing was the diversion I needed to keep the cancer off my mind.  My second surgeon, a wonderful woman, was impressed that I had to keep writing through the whole ordeal.  In fact, she not only scheduled my surgery for the day after my deadline, she also came to my room the morning after my surgery fully expecting to see me sitting up in bed and writing.  Which, I was doing, to be honest.  Why?  Because I had to. Can’t explain it, and it’s something only another writer would understand.  But my writing turned into my lifeline.  As long as I was doing it, I was OK.

So I wrote up until the day I went into the hospital, and wrote as soon as my head cleared after my surgery.  I wrote when I got home, met my next deadline, went through revisions, plotted another story series, and even negotiated books with two new publishers who approached me after my diagnosis and prior to surgery. (Amazing how that all worked out.)

Now, a few months later, I wonder what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to write through it, and even plan my next segment of writing future.  My prognosis came out good - the chemo and radiation I was originally scheduled for were cancelled because the surgery turned out so well.  On the days following up when I felt bad, I wrote.  I wrote even more on the days following up when I felt good.  I plotted new stories, negotiated even more into my future.  And through it all, I never stopped.  Not even for a day.  Because, what if I had?  What would I have had to face if my writing hadn’t been there to support me?  That’s what it did, though.  It supported me through a trauma no one should ever have to face.  And not only did it support me, it got me through.  So did the people around me who love me, and I would never downplay their importance in my recovery.  But they weren’t the ones in the wee hours, when the ugly thoughts crept back in, who were only a laptop and the push of the on/off button away.  The people who loved me placated me and patted me, but my writing completely removed me in those awful moments and hours when I desperately needed to be removed. 

Writing - it’s what I do.  More than that, it’s who I am.  It’s what got me through one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to face, and I’m grateful I had it there to back me up.  We’re lucky, all of us who write.  We have something we can turn to that will make the bad moments better, that will totally transport us to a different time and place where our problems don’t exist.  Our writing fills the empty spaces, and I wonder what it would be like not to have that.  Personally, I’m glad I don’t have to find out.   And I’m glad to be back blogging again, even though, in the future, I won’t have too much to say.

 

In Praise of Cats...
October 18, 2013

It’s raining today. That’s typical of an Indiana autumn, and a welcomed relief following our dry-to-drought summer. We have the extremes in weather here, going from season to season, and while you wouldn’t normally think of boring old Indiana in terms of extreme weather, ask anybody who lives here. We know what we have, even though it’s a well-kept secret everywhere else.

Still, it’s raining here today and rather than looking at the inconvenience with frustration, I’m hunkered down in my officer recliner (yes, I write in my recliner) with one cat purring next to me on the pillow I keep propped against the chair arm, while the other one snoozes in the Longaberger basket on my desk. They don’t care about the rain, or the fact that in a another couple of months it’s going to be freezing cold. They don’t even care that I wanted to go do some shopping today, but I won’t because I hate getting wet. Of course, they’re cats. What do they know?

Actually, I think cats know all the secrets of the universe. Just ask them. They might not tell you, but the answer is in their eyes. They regard us as necessary to their existence - food, shelter, round-the-clock stroking, someone to flush their toilet. The heck of it is, we mere mortals who get caught up in a cat’s world are glad to do it. I started one of my books with my hero crashing through the jungle, lost, and the opening line in my book is "Wrapped around her little finger. That’s how he felt..." He was wrapped around the heroine’s little finger, and he knew it. The thing is, my cats have me wrapped around their little toes and I know it. But that’s OK, because in the scheme of my life, it just seems better with cats.

OK, so maybe I’m wrapped a little too much. I’ll admit, a $200 collector’s basket might be going overboard as a cat bed. But my cats love it, and they look so cute in it. As writers, we have ups and downs. I’ll admit I don’t write as well on gloomy days as I’d like to. My preference is to doze with my cats. In fact, as I’m writing this blog, that’s what I’m thinking about doing when I’m done. We also have health issues, life issues, family...so many things that can absolutely kill the creative process. I face that every day, with a business my husband and I own. As much as I’d like to get away from it completely, I can’t, and there are times it just chews away at my brain, and drains me of my ability to write. But, I’m no different than anybody else. No different than any other writer. We create, we struggle, we fail, we succeed.

An e-mail from one of my readers a while back posed this question to me: How do you keep writing all those books? I’d like to write, but I’ve got too much to do. My answer was simple. I’ve got a lot to do, too, and writing is part of that. I just sit down in the office every morning, my cats take their respective positions, and we start our writing day. Of course, their contribution, in their humble opinions, is far greater than mine, because in their universal knowledge they know what I need, and bestow on me that calmness I have to have in order to get through everything I have to do, any given day. My cats are my writing crutch. I need them around. They know that, of course, and take full advantage. But that’s OK, because at the end of the day, they make me happy. Which is why, on this rainy day, I think I’m going to go curl up and take a nap with them.

Oh, and in case you don’t think I give the canines their fair share of attention, I do own three of them. We’re an equal opportunity animal adventure at my house. It’s just that they don’t care to be around my writing process when more interesting things are going on in the back yard.

Until next time, wishing you health, happiness and kitty hugs...

DD