Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Elder-caretaker by Day, Romantic Suspense Author by Night


Congratulations to "Julie G." the winner in Christine's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

When I first proposed an article for Just Romantic Suspense, I thought of all the fun subjects to discuss in the writing and editing world. Or the cool research behind writing my detective thriller, An Eye For Danger. Or the sexiness of writing an alpha hero and a courageous heroine. The facilitator, Maureen, even suggested a topic: teacher by day, romantic suspense author by night.

Then it dawned on me. The truth of this book's creation wasn't one of those "rose petals and unicorns" experiences about coming into my own as an author and driving toward my dreams. This book was written as a resentful, bitter response to an ugly period of my life. A dark, isolating, maddening time, when I thought the pain in my chest and the heart palpitations that went on for hours would make me drop dead in the woods while walking the dog and no one would find me.

Writing this book was my life raft when I was drowning.

I'd been married one year (though my husband and I'd been living together for 8 years) when my mother-in-law moved in with us. I didn't have a great relationship with her, so that was a strained situation in itself. But she'd lost everything; quit her job three years shy of retirement, and her house was being foreclosed upon. She had nowhere to go, and we very quickly realized she couldn't manage her life because she had dementia.

So for the next year and a half I sought a proper diagnosis (stroke-based dementia) and treatment, fought with doctors, applied for various services and... cared for her in my own home. Anyone who's cared for someone with dementia or Alzheimers knows this is a losing battle. Your marriage suffers, your health suffers, your sleep and peace of mind suffers, your home becomes a place you don't want to live.

And no matter how easy the relationship is going with your patient at any given time, there will be an unexpected blowout. No matter how kind you are or how friendly your patient seems, there is always a knife nearby they are ready to drive into your gut (metaphorically speaking, of course). No matter how well they feel, there's going to be another fall or fever or ailment you can't predict and another rush to the emergency room.

So writing my book was a refuge, a world away from my patient's pills and tantrums and crying. Then again, there's much of that in the book--good people doing crazy stuff and struggling for their own humanity. My lead characters, Jules Larson (former war photographer with post traumatic stress disorder) and Sam Fields (undercover detective fighting law enforcement corruption), bloomed out of my distress and desperation. The loss of hope.

And then there's the romance...at a time when my marriage was holding on by a thread under the stress and strain of our situation, I was writing a love story where two people could rise from the ashes of their own sorrow and loss to find one another and become whole again. I was writing mine and my husband's cathartic healing.

Eventually, I got my mother in law into a Medicaid program and one of the best assisted care facilities in Seattle. She'll be taken care of the rest of her life. She's blossomed. She has friends. And she no longer sees me as the devil incarnate, because there is a team of folks backing me up when I have to take away her stove or microwave so she doesn't burn the building down. She even smiles when she sees me now and thanks me and hugs me. Our relationship has never been better.

Neither has my marriage--we are closer knowing that we'll go through hell for each other. There's a glue that bonds us now that I'd heard but hadn't experienced. Jules and Sam gain that bond, too, which makes writing book two of this series a thrill for me, because I get to see that bond tested again and re-cemented in new ways.

And I have peace of mind again, despite a bad case of PTSD myself that took over a year to heal, partly thanks to edits and rewrites that kept me in my novel. Something good--something akin to making my dreams as an author come true, as well as a survival story readers can share in--came out of the ashes of that situation.

Moreover, my husband and I made a sacrifice to do the right thing by another human being. There's a power in knowing you can go the distance for someone. A strength of spirit that makes you a little more indomitable.

My characters in the book go through that metamorphosis, too. There's tons of forgiveness of each other, of themselves. You'll see Jules face fear after fear, and slowly rediscover she's got more iron in her blood than she knew. And Sam softens his jagged undercover-cop edges, discovers love doesn't make him weak, becomes just a little more vulnerable to being human.

Maybe what I really wrote was a love story about the self. After all, we all need to love ourselves a little more in life! Readers and authors included!

I will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and a digital copy of An Eye For Danger to one lucky commenter.

AUTHOR BIO:
Christine M. Fairchild is a former journalist with 25 years' experience as a writer/editor, from technical to marketing to exec communications to entertainment. She specializes in "tactical" editing and storytelling techniques for authors. For writing tips and tricks, visit http://Editor Devil.blogspot.com. Her debut Romantic Suspense novel, An Eye For Danger, book one in her Goliath Conspiracy series, is now available on Amazon for Kindle. She's currently working hard on book two for her anxious readers...

AUTHOR CONTACTS:
You can follow Christine, aka The Editor Devil at:
http://EditorDevil.blogspot.com for free writing tips & tricks
https://twitter.com/fairchild01
https://www.facebook.com/christine.c.fairchild
http://pinterest.com/christinefairch/an-eye-for-danger-romantic-suspense-book/

You can find her books on Amazon for Kindle at:
An Eye For Danger (http://amzn.com/B008QPZ8O4)
The Editor Devil's Guide to DIALOGUE (http://amzn.com/B007K1PZZC)
The Editor Devil's Guide to CHARACTERS (http://www.amzn.com/B007PTQKXA)

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 11th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

51 comments:

  1. Wow, what a story-- glad you had writing as a way to remain sane! We had something similar happen with my grandmother (albeit she hadn't lost everything). We were living overseas so we arranged for some full-time in-home care, but when we returned for a visit in summer, we'd move into her house for a couple of weeks and my mum would take her of her with our help. It was certainly stressful and incredibly disheartening, and it especially took a toll on my mum.

    Book looks legend-- definitely adding it to my epic TBR queue! :)

    stalkers00(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Cris, for sharing your story :) Dementia affects over 50% of those who reach 70. May we all be graceful in how we treat those with such a condition, for we may someday be there ourselves!

      Hope you enjoy my book, but beware: everyone is saying they lose sleep, go to work late, use up their lunchbreaks...but I guess those are good complaints for a book, right?

      Best to you!
      Christine

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  2. It takes a special person to take on the role of caregiver! It is nice that you had an outlet to help you! There is nothing worse than watching a loved one go through any illness.
    Your book sounds amazing and I would love to read it!

    jaclynlavigne@yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks, Jaclyn! You know, I seem to be the one in the family who takes care of folks--my gpa when he was dying of cancer, helped raise my sister, helped my mom financially for years. And you know what? My husband totally set me free from jobs so I could write FT. He takes care of me. I'm super blessed! Maybe that's Karma, or maybe that's how the world spins--we all take care of one another at different times.

      Jules and Sam take care of each other at different times, too, switching who is strong and complimenting each other. That's a nice pairing we all hope to achieve, albeit without the gunfire and bombs and evil bad guys! hee hee

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  3. Congratulations on overcoming the silent side effects of dementia / Alzheimers. Those who have not experienced a loved one (even in-laws) suffering from a mind altering disease do not realize that yes, it is a terrible thing for the ill, but equally so for the family. I have worked in nursing homes, group homes, etc... While it is my job to care for the residents I see the guilt and anger of the family members. I make it my mission to let them know first, and most importantly, that I will care about and for the patient as if they are my family member. And secondly that it is okay to be angry, frustrated and confused. I believe a lot of the family just need validation that they are normal feelings and don't make them evil or uncaring. I am so happy that all of you are doing well and gotten even closer than before.

    I look forward to reading this book. And wish you every success in family and career.

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    1. Sorry forgot my email.. jo1963jo at gmail dot com

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    2. Jo, you rock for the work you do. You're one in a million! Honestly, I don't think I could do it again. Everyone said I was an angel. ARe you kidding me? I felt like the devil. I was angry, resentful, bitter. So I totally hear you on how the feelings mix up your head! I chose to do right by her every day, but my emotions didn't match up. It's crazy making. But we look back and say "it was the right thing to do, and she's better off now" so that eases our minds.

      Thanks for your kind words, and I hope my book meets your expectations :) Blessings to you!
      Christine

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  4. Wow. What a stressful situation. So glad you found an outlet (and our gain). Here's to a great future. Trishleroy49 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks, Trish. Pheonix from the ashes? Maybe...I'm just happy writing and publishing my books :) Cheers!
      Christine

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  5. What a tough time you had. It sounds like a special story that brought you through everything you had to deal with.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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    1. Maureen, we all have that one thing we hold onto when life gets tough. A lightening rod. Whether our art, or our pet (my dog, Bo, was the only reason I could stand to be in crowds when I had PTSD), our spouse, or even a memory that life can get better. This book was my escape and lightning rod, so it will always be special to me!

      Enjoy :)
      Christine

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  6. We are going through that with my dad. He has Alzheimers. He has his good days and some bad ones. His worst time is at night. It's always good to have your own outlet for stress and something you can do that will help you with it. It sounds like you lost your stress in your book. Reading helps me with mine. :)

    amysmith98@gmail.com

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    1. Amy, I'm so bummed to hear you're dealing with Alz with your father. It's so hard to watch a parent suffer with this disease. Sundowners syndrome is common, and having a routine helps. Despite the memory problems, you can sometimes pattern the patient with routine. Just remember to be kind to yourself. I called the Alzheimers hotline a LOT in the beginning for spot advice/counseling/crying. They are a freakin' miracle!!!
      Books are a great outlet. So it getting out of the house to read them :) Take those breaks! Get an extra hour at the cafe with your fav book!
      All my best to you and your family,
      Christine

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  7. Hello again Christine,
    You have shared a wonderful & at times painful story about a time in your life and that is so very sweet of you. Your strength shines through!
    I have purchased all three of your books & I still owe you reviews on your two 'Editor Devil' guides that you were so kind to send me in pdf format. I am studying them & using them in my writing!
    Thanks so much,
    Jan

    janet_kerr@msn.com

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    1. HI, Jan! I'm so glad the guides are helping you :) I live vicariously when readers/students succeed, so knowing they were useful makes me feel good. And thanks for your kind words :)

      Take care and keep writing!!!
      Christine

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  8. My father-in-law died with Alzheimers and cancer after my mother-in-law had cared for him for 3 years. It was heartbreaking for her. And after 10 years of being the caregiver for my bedbound daughter who suffered from an advanced form of MS, I lost her last year. At the end of many days I was just too tired to do anything else but read a book. I'm glad you had writing to help you through. Thanks for the contest.
    grandmabkr at yahoo dot com

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    1. Brenda, you have been through a LOT more than the average person, and for that I bow down to you!

      Yes, fiction is what can free our mind. And help to destress us! I was telling a friend that my parents both worked in mental health, saving the world. I never felt like writing fiction was very important comparatively, even though it was my passion and they encouraged me. My friend corrected me and said the imagination was the best tonic for troubled minds. So I learned that books can play an important role, too.

      Thanks and just take care of yourself now! It's time for your daughter to send much love and strength to you from above. And endless smiles!
      Love and blessings,
      Christine

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  9. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with us... I am so glad things turned out well. You are one strong lady... I am unsure if I would have been able to handle all of that.

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    1. Funny, Colleen, sometimes I feel indomitable for what I've been through. (This was only the tip of the iceburg Other times I feel as fragile as lace. Guess that's why I relate to Jules so much. Fighting my own vulnerability, or toning down my desire to power through everything. HA!

      Cheers to you!
      Christine

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    2. And don't forget to leave your email address, Colleen, so you can enter the contest!!1

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    3. I send my e-mail to Maureen :)

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  10. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Christine. My mom is a home health aide and one of her clients has dementia. He's lucid at times and sometimes when he doesn't remember who or where he is he gets very angry and verbally abuse. Happy to hear the relationship between you and your MIL is much better.

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

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    1. Your mom has a tough job, Jane! She deserves a few extra pedicures a year, eh? Tell her thank you from me! It's no small thing the love she's giving someone who's struggling with their own mind.

      I just found out its World Mental Health Day (http://www.wfmh.org/00WorldMentalHealthDay.htm), so I guess this discussion is timely. No coincidences in life!

      Warm regards,
      Christine

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  11. Thank you for sharing, Christine. I spent seven years as a caregiver
    for my parents - so many mixed emotions and memories. Books were and are my escape as I deal with another family member's health issues.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. Taurus, hang in there. I can't know how hard it was to handle 2 parents, esp your own parents. I hope you are getting lots of help and support. Again, the Alzheimer's hotline is UBER supportive when you need it most!

      Books are great therapy! And movies :) I watched lots of TV during that time just to get my head somewhere else :)

      Best wishes to you and your family!
      Christine

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  12. What a wonderful story. I'm so glad that you, your husband and your mother in law came through such a trying time. Not all marriages survive something like that. It take a great deal of giving on the part of the husband and the wife.

    Can't wait to read the book that brought you through those tough times.

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    1. Hi, Cynthia, so nice to see you here, and thanks for your comment :) The divorce rate is really high for those dealing with a dementia/Alzheimers patient in their home. Any time someone tells me they are in this position, I ask upfront if they have a counselor in their pocket already!

      My book, however, is a fun, thrill-ride read that is bringing me and my husband even closer. He actually checks my Amazon page daily for new reviews! Hee hee

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  13. Thanks for the giveaway! I love how "she has more iron in her blood" all female characters need to have that. In all genres. :0) Looks like an interesting read too!

    Wishing you LOTS and LOTS of sales!
    Jesse

    jesse.kimmelfreeman@gmail.com

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    1. Ha ha, Jesse, I love that line too now. Might have to use it in the next book! When you see it, you'll know it's a shout out to your kind remarks :)

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  14. An amazing story, Christine. (And I love the devil horns.)

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    1. Rooooooo-Xy! I always want to sing your name like Sting singing "Roxane".

      Thanks for stopping by :) See you on Twitter, and I'll be sure to wear my devil horns there too! (I'm actually taking them to my local RWA conference to be sure everyone recognizes me--*snicker*)
      christine

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  15. Christine, I have such admiration for you and anyone who successfully navigates the treacherous waters of caring for someone the way you did. I have not experienced that situation myself (yet--I'm an only child, so odds are I will eventually), but I have many friends going through that trauma, and watching from the sidelines is hard enough. I can only imagine being in the thick of it. I'm so happy you came out the other side a stronger person all around and can look back on that terrible time as a growth experience.
    {{{{{HUGS}}}} and best wishes with your awesome book.

    Chassily
    Chassily dot Wakefield at yahoo dot com

    :)

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    1. Hey, girlfriend, thanks for reading my post!
      Just know that when you say "successfully navigate" I laugh, because we screwed up plenty and sometimes look back and cringe!!! We don't feel like heroes, that's for sure. But yes, we survived. And we're okay with that now. Taught us just how unpredictable life is and why we should savor it!

      Hugs to you too, and can't wait to see you at conference!
      Christine

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  16. That's a lovely, touching story, Christine. I look forward to reading the book.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and happy reading! I hope it meets your expectations :)
      Christine

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  17. Thanks for sharing your story with us. I can't imagine being a caregiver and *not* coming through with a few dings and scratches.

    julieguan AT gmail DOT com

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    1. Julie, you nailed it on the head! We feel a bit worn, but those dings and scratches translate great into characters for my books!

      thanks!
      Christine

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  18. I have been a caregiver to my dad and then to my mom. There are times I just needed a break but unable to do so. It is just a break to gather myself mentally together to deal first with my Dad's kidney failure. He did passed away.

    Now I have to deal with my mom's dementia. It is quite exhausting.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Kai, I'm so sorry for your loss of your father. I hope you can find support to help you with your mom. Community support, state funding for caregiving, relatives? Like I said before, the Alzheimers hotline is wonderful. They led me to many resources I didn't know about.

      Prayers are with you!
      Christine

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  19. I know some of what you went through; my father in law took care of my mother in law, dementia then alzheimer's, until his death and then my sister in law took over. Her marriage has suffered, her state of mind has suffered; even though we tried to do what we could, it just wasn't enough. My mother in law passed away now almost two years ago and my sister in law is now picking herself and her family up!

    diane dot sadler at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks, Diane! Give your sister-in-law a hug for me! It takes a long time to heal from that, so she needs to be patient with herself. Good for you for supporting her!

      best,
      Christine

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  20. Thanks for sharing.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting :)
      regards,
      Christine

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  21. Sounds like a great book.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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    1. Thanks, and best wishes to you too!
      Christine

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  22. Thank goodness for the escapism of a good book. My family is going through my father in care, mother crying all the time with guilt ,and the rest of us feeling a little helpless.

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    1. Ann, my heart goes out to your family. Might be a good thing to talk to a specialist and learn what you can do for her differently? I know talking with DSHS and various dementia orgs helped me see more options, where/when to take breaks. Housecleaning, for example, or laundry. One chore removed is a hundred tons of bricks less on her shoulders!

      Much love to you and yours :)
      Christine

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  23. Oooh, what a touching story. And while I've never faced this (and hope never to have to) I can't imagine making any other choice but the same one you did, and thanking God for my books. My 'Keepers' as I'm a reader, not a writer, have helped me through some of the hardest times of my life, when I just needed to escape reality. I think that is something that most of us really die hard readers share, is that love of escapism, it's what makes the story so ALIVE for us. Let's us be somewhere, someONE else. An love an author who truly helps transport us!
    AWEOME post! Thank you for sharing!!

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    1. Wow, thanks so much for your enthusiasm, Melissa! All authors are readers too, so I like to escape in a good book. Actually, my MIL got me started on Sandra Brown books. It was one of the things we could share in common! So books can connect folks too!

      Thanks again for you comments :)
      Christine

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  24. I was moved by your story. Thank you!!

    AN EYE FOR DANGER looks amazing.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Thanks so much, Mary! I was surprised by the overwhelming response of others in the same situation. So I, too, feel touched by what others have shared here!

      Thanks for your enthusiasm!
      Christine

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