Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Long and Winding Road Dealing with Writer's Block by C.H. Admirand

 I started writing for publication over 20 years ago and have always had the gift of words, plot lines, and characters arguing in my head.

Life is filled with ups and downs: happiness, sadness, joyous moments, and devastating ones. I guess I'd never really thought about how I handled these moments and balanced out my family life and my writing life. I just did.

I've always put my family first, and with my mom's health rapidly declining, and our daughter about to deliver, I knew I wouldn't be able to meet the deadlines of the new contract I'd received. I had to cancel the contract and return the advance.

Two weeks later our second grandbaby was born, and 7 days later my Mom died and everything stopped making sense. My Dad died 16 years ago, and I knew they would be together now, but there was this big hole in my life.

The words dried up, plot lines no longer made sense, characters stopped arguing in my head--and worst of all the constant music playing in my head stopped.

I struggled for a long time trying to make sense of what was happening, but in the midst of it all, there were final arrangements to be made, Mom's Eulogy to write, a lawsuit to deal with--her reverse mortgage company was suing my brother, sisters, and myself--and six months later when I'd done everything I had to do, my gift was gone.

First I'd tried ignoring the problem, meditating, praying, baking, cleaning, until I finally tried accepting the fact that my gift was gone. I signed off of social media because it was too painful to talk about. 

For a while I kept busy editing, freshening up and reissuing some of my backlist. That took my mind off the real problem. That I'd somehow lost my gift. I wasn't sure if I'd neglected the nurturing of my gift, or if I'd done something horrible to deserve losing it. I was a mess...but my family was there for me, thank God. They have always been and will always be my rock.

Then one day, one of my writer friends, the fabulous Ms. Carolyn Brown, sent me an email with a character's name. She said she usually knows right away who they are, what they look like, and what story they want her to tell...but this time it was just the name. And then she said she realized, it wasn't her character to keep, it was for me. Humbled by her gift, something clicked inside of me as I thanked her, and the door that had abruptly shut on my creativity squeaked open a tiny crack.

I can't say that I'm back to normal sitting down and having the words just flow out of my heart, my head, and my soul...but they're there...just buried beneath years of living and dealing with the gift of life.

I guess dealing with writer's block is different for everyone. For some the answer could be found on the pages of a "how-to" book, for others it might be sparked by something another author has to say during a workshop. For myself, it has been like the Beatles song that just started playing in my head: The Long and Winding Road. Fingers crossed I can get back to my wips and start writing again without the constant worry that I'll do or say something that will chase my gift away forever.

Thank goodness, I have my family--my rock--and because of the gift of a character's name--Tom McNally--I have the gift of hope. 

Thank you, Carolyn Brown. You are my hero! Carolyn Brown's The Yellow Rose Beauty Shop is available now, check it out!


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I think I'm finished 21-Day-Fixing Myself For Now LOL by C.H. Admirand

For those of you who've read my earlier post about my 21DayFix journey, or have visited my FB page, you know that I've been following the 21DayFix religiously since February. Who knew it would take just a bit longer to "fix myself?" LOL!

This is a selfie from laughing...well, then again I've already laughed at it, so go ahead, you can laugh too. :)

But the upside is I feel healthier, have more energy (except for low points during that day that I'm trying to balance out), feel better about myself, and am no longer embarrassed to go out in public--which is HUGE for me because I had gotten to the point where I just didn't want anyone to see me--except my family.

Autumn Calabrese said that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. I had more than one. Oddly enough, over-eating has never been an issue for me. It was the balance of food groups that was off, and under-eating--less than 3 meals a day. Not anymore :) 

I haven't had any wine or whiskey since February. I exercise daily and still follow Autumn's exercise CDs, adding in heavier weights as I felt stronger. 

Irish Catholic Guilt, and the worry that I'd gain the weight back, help keep me on the straight and narrow, eating 5 or 6 small meals a day. And as I mentioned above, I'm working on balancing out my energy highs and lows. I've always had low blood pressure and blood sugar, so I do have to watch that.

BUT, the upside is that I've lost 37.6 pounds since February and 38 inches and I went from wearing a size 14 or 16 down to a size 6 to 8. :) 

With the return to a healthier lifestyle, my Muse is slowly coming is the music in my head! I  am humbly grateful for the return of my gift and have never stopped praying...I never will. :)


Friday, June 19, 2015

Rejection is Good for the Soul...Not Always by C.H. Admirand

Having  been in this crazy business for twenty-plus years, I am supposed to say that rejection is good for the soul, and be happy when I receive a great rejection. (Note: I received 99 before I got "the call" all those years ago, so I am no stranger to rejection.) Therefore, my first reaction to the recent rejection I received from my editor was great, thank you for your honesty and for additional input from a fellow editor regarding my proposal.

My reality check, post-rejection, is--I'm still feeling rejected and have NO idea where to go from here. Having sold on proposal for the last few years, I have to figure out whether or not my proposal is viable/marketable, etc. or if I should put it in the drawer. 

Another reality for me is, that while I was spoiled selling on proposal, not all houses will accept proposals from an author new to them. So if I'm going to start querying elsewhere, I'll be back to writing the book and then new MO :)

Two years ago when my life was spiraling out of control with my Mom's health, issues on the home-front, and me doing my best to keep up, my muse was quietly slipping away and I had no the previous sentence again to figure out why.

When push comes to shove, family will always come first for me. It's how I'm hard-wired. Not always the most popular path to take, but people that know me, know that I have put family before everything all of my life.

So while it's been a struggle, I'm slowly but surely figuring out how to coax my muse back into my life. Along the way, the reality of sabotaging myself with lack of exercise and an unbalanced diet took it's toll. I received the "wake-up" call in the form of a picture from my darling niece's baby shower in February. Here's the "wake-up call" pic from February 8th...that's me on the right with the gorgeous velvet burnout kimono:

That started me on the 21DayFix which has turned my life around. I feel healthy, energized, and can take on both grandbabies and both puppies at the same time. Our grandbabies are adorable, but uber-active.

After a few rounds of the 21DayFix, this is me June 5th, wearing the same gorgeous velvet burnout kimono...minus two sisters, one brother, and 30 pounds :)  

And on June 12th minus 35 pounds, two sisters and one brother :)

Losing 35 pounds and eating a healthier more balanced diet has helped with the physical, but the emotional part still needs work. And  the emotional part of me is where my characters used to live, breathe, and wake me up with their arguments at night. Sadly, that hasn't happened in a long time. 

Now I force myself to open up one of my wips (yep, I have about 3 or 4 right now). I used to sit down in the morning, and as soon as I opened up one of my wips, the characters and the words were there and the story would just flow. It was a gift. A gift I unknowingly abused.

Sooo, while I'm slogging through trying to find my new normal, readers may not hear from me for the next little while.

If you haven't already checked them out, I re-issued my Irish Western Series in large print, and bundled them in print Volumes I and II, am currently working with the fabulous narrator, Elizabeth Cook, creating audiobooks for this series. We'll start on book 3, Pearl's Redemption, at the end of August. So, stayed tuned!

Happy Reading!


Monday, June 8, 2015

My 21DayFix Journey Started Feb. 8th and is still going 33 pounds later by C.H. Admirand

It all started with that OMG moment looking at pics that were taken at my darling niece's baby shower 0n February 8th, 2015 (she's doing fabulously btw, with a darling baby boy). There was a pic one of our friends took of my two younger sisters, my older brother, and myself on the end in my favorite velvet burnout kimono.

When I first saw the photo, it took me by surprise, thinking who was that overweight woman wearing my fabulous kimono? Then reality hit and my aha moment that I had to get back on track with exercise, to lose weight, and to get healthy.

A few days later I was watching the food channel...if you know me, you know I LOVE to bake (and sample those delectable goodies)...and saw the infomercial for the 21DayFix. The light went on as soon as I saw Autumn Calabrese filling color-coded containers, because I'm a three-time weight watchers dropout and the points never made sense to me.

BUT, I didn't exercise while I was on WW the first time in February 2002, long story that had to do with fear of gaining muscle weight. (first mistake...learn from my mistakes people)  I started at 144 pounds and did reach my goal weight of 128 in July 2002, but a week later gained 3 pounds, so I never reached the lifetime member status. So making another big mistake, I went back to eating whatever I wanted. that worked well. *sigh*

Between 2002 and February 2015 I gained 27.4 pounds. Not a healthy weight for someone with my frame. I was sluggish, tired, not sleeping, and unhappy with myself. 

Back to the 21DayFix. In a nutshell, Autumn said that it only takes 21 days to break a bad habit. Eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising every day can help you kick your bad habits and help you learn how to re-think your food choices on your road to a healthier you. ;) I was embarrassed to go anywhere and practically lived in black stretch pants and t-shirts. Autumn has given me my self-respect back.
I asked my DH to take some pics along the way. This pic is from February 28th. 

As soon as my package from the 21DayFix arrived, I devoured the booklets cover to cover, and thought...there is no way I can do this at my age...I turned 57 in February. Then I remembered our Purcell ancestor's family motto: Aut Vincam, Aut Periam, translation: I will either conquer or perish! Yep...I channeled my ancestors and got to work.

The exercises are varied, so you work out different muscle groups each day of the week and won't get bored with the workouts. I was sooo glad that Autumn had someone who "modified" the workouts, someone working her way to a healthier weight like me. Kat was easy to follow and you feel as if you aren't alone among the thinner "in shape" people in the workout video ;)

So after I finished the first Round...and lost 10.4 pounds and 14 inches. It was working, so I kept going! 

The second time I tried WW, my Mom's health was rapidly declining, but she was still living in her home, so I had to stop going to meetings, dividing my time juggling my job, my family, and doctor and hospital stays for my Mom.

The third and final time I tried, WW, I ended up car-less and had no way to get to meetings.

OK...back to the 21DayFix. This pic is from April 26th on my road to getting back in shape and healthy. ;)
One thing that I know helped me lose weight along the way was giving up drinking wine with a whiskey nightcap every night.  I tried to think about when I started that bad habit and it all began after my Dad died 16 years ago. Long story shortened, anesthetizing with wine and whiskey was the answer for a long time.

This pic is from May 5th...not the greatest taking selfies. LOL.

It took a lot of hard work and sweat, but I started to feel stronger and more energized while doing the workouts.  Just like weight watchers you keep track of what you eat, your weight and measurements.

OH and on a funny note, I did NOT purchase the scale that had the helpful arrow that would point up or down beside your weight read out so you knew whether or not you lost or gained weight. Seriously? Whomever designed that should be drawn and quartered at dawn. Yes, I write Historical Romance and know exactly what the entails. I also know what it means to "hobble" someone. But I'll leave that for my works of fiction. ;)

For those that like statistics, I'm putting myself out there with my weight, and we all know that women don't like to divulge their weight or their age. But hey I already told you how old I was so what do I have to lose? LOL!

Here is the breakdown for non-believers or fence-sitters of whether or not the 21DayFix works, Round-by-Round:

NOTE: For Inches Lost...Autumn has you keep track of Chest, R. Arm, L. Arm, Waist, Hips, R. Thigh, L. Thigh Measurements.

February 23, 2015 to March 15, 2015 -- Round 1:
2/23/15 weight 171.4 pounds...3/15/15 weight 161 pounds
2/23/15 inches 191...3/15/15 inches 177
[weight loss=10.4 pounds/inches lost=14] 

March 16, 2015 to April 4, 2015 -- Round 2:
3/16/15 weight 161 pounds...4/4/15 weight 153.4 pounds
3/16/15 inches 177 inches...4/4/15 inches 171
[weight loss=7.6 pounds/inches lost=6]

April 5, 2015 to April 26, 2015 -- Round 3:
4/5/15 weight 153.4 pounds...4/26/15 weight 147.8 pounds
4/5/15 inches 171...4/26/15 inches 165.5
[weight loss=5.6 pounds/inches lost=5.5]

April 27, 2015 to 5/17/15 -- Round 4:
4/27/15 weight 147.8 pounds...5/17/15 weight 143 pounds
4/27/15 inches 165.5...5/17/15 inches 161.5
[weight loss=4.8 pounds/inches lost=4]

May 18, 2015 to June 7, 2015 -- Round 5:
5/18/15 weight 143 pounds...6/7/15 weight 137.8 pounds
5/18/15 inches 161.5...6/7/15 inches 157.5
[weight loss=5.2 pounds/inches lost=4]

Total loss to date:
Weight: 33.6 pounds/Inches:33.5 inches

**I kept track of Bust, Underbust, Abs, Calf and Ankle measurements and have the beginning and end of Round 5 "other inches lost total"**
2/23/15 "other inches" 169.5
6/7/15 "other inches" 138.5
[Total Other Inches Lost = 31]

7.5 of those inches are off my waist, and 12 inches off my color me happy (abs are in the "other inches" category.) 

Not a fan of planks, but you bet your buttski that I can do them now! There's just one bonus exercise that I still have trouble with, but I'm going to be able to do it soon. :)

According to those height/weight charts, I'm still on the top end of what I should weigh for my 5'4" height, so I guess I've got a bit more work to go to lose those last ten pounds. But I know I will get there. Aut Vincan, Aut Periam! Started Round 6 this am ;)

I asked my DH to take a pic of me two days ago wearing the same FAB velvet burnout kimono. See the difference 33.6 pounds and 33.5 inches makes? 

If you are on the fence about trying the 21DayFix, I highly recommend it. It has helped this grandma keep up with her darling grandbabies ;)

Thanks for letting me share my journey!