Such an exciting day! It’s finally here…August 5, 2014…Release Day for Caroline’s Secret!
Caroline’s Secret is the first book in my new series set in Wells Landing!
For more info, check out my page dedicated to Caroline’s Secret.
Well, I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about my appendix, but so many of you have send me prayers and cards and messages on Facebook that I feel obliged to relay my tale, so here we go. All in all my story is short and sweet. I simply woke up Monday morning at 4 am with my stomach hurting. Now, a lot of you know that I’ve had a hard time with my stomach and food this last year. Despite all these problems, I have managed to keep all my curves. Lucky me. But when I woke up, I thought it was just another bout of bad digestion brought on from the medications I had been taking. So I didn’t give it much thought. I got up at 6 and woke up my son, had some coffee, took antacids, and otherwise tried to go about my day. But my stomach continued to pain me to the point that I got sick, couldn’t eat breakfast, and had to lie down.
Luckily (for real this time) my husband was home on staycation and came in from doing yard work about 11 am. I decided then a trip to Urgent Care was in order. My stomach was still hurting but I was also having hot flashes like none other, sending sweat beads popping up all over me. He drove me to the clinic where they gave me a shot of Demerol and made me one happy girl. Of course by now I’ve cooled down and I’m freezing–I only wore a tank top and shorts to get care. Incidentally the same tank top and shorts I had slept in. Go me! So while my poor husband sat alone in the waiting room, I was asleep wrapped up in heated blankets. Yes, I feel a bit guilty.
After they took X-rays and blood and pee and any other fluid they could think of to test, I sent the hubs after our son who was getting out of summer school. We had to wait four hours to get the test results back. It’s about 1pm so he had quite a wait, but at least he had a partner now, right? Poor man!
So the tests came back at 5 pm that I had an elevated white blood cell count. My heart dropped. Dear Good, did I have cancer? I swear it was my very first thought. So when the doctor said she wanted a CAT scan to look for appendicitis, I was happy and relieved. Not at all the emotions she expected from me. They wheeled me down to imaging and gave me some nasty stuff to drink. If I had known that it would be the last liquid I would have for almost 12 hours, I would have savored every drop! 5:39 I drank the juice, 6:30-ish had the scan, and sometime after that the doctor came to tell me that it was indeed my appendix and I needed to head to the ER.
Now the understanding was that the Urgent Care would call the ER Trauma doctors and they would be waiting on my arrival. I imagined sweeping into the ER, being greeted with open arms, and rushed off to surgery. But now it’s 8pm and the nurses in the ER couldn’t have cared less that I was there. The one I talked to kept a sucker in her mouth the entire time and refused to give me a blanket until I was ‘triaged’. I tried to explain that I had been triaged across the street and I was freezing, but she sent me out to wait in the crowded waiting area, no blanket.
About 10pm I was finally taken back. They told us I would be right out and the man and son had to wait in the waiting area. I had a lot of the same tests that I’d had at Urgent Care. They weighed me, checked my blood pressure, took my temperature, etc, etc. Then they sat me in the hallway with a bunch of other sad souls including a drunk man who kept threatening to punch everyone in the face since it would be the best place to have it stitched up. Wow. I sat there for a while, then they moved me to a little partitioned curtain area/room. Not sure why they put me there for a few minutes later a man came to get me for a chest X-ray. I found out later that this is standard for surgery candidates. But for a while there, I wasn’t sure they even knew why I was at the hospital.
Chest X-ray complete, denied a cup of ice chips, but finally given a blanket, I was deposited back into the same hallway to await the surgeon. I met him at around midnight. Yes, I would have to have surgery. No, he couldn’t tell me how long it would be before I went in, but I could go out and see my husband and son. They were beside themselves with worry. For them I had just disappeared. They had no idea if I was still back there or already in surgery.
So sitting in the waiting area once again I come up with a plan. I’ll have surgery and they’ll put me in a room, right? So I decide to ask if I can get my room now. That way I could rest (the Demerol had worn off looooong ago) and the boys could watch TV and be a little more comfortable. But I was told there were no rooms. “Not in the ER,” I tell the nurse. It had already been explained to me that I was put in the hallway to wait because there were no rooms in the ER. “In the hospital,” I explain. “We don’t have any rooms in the hospital either.” Are you kidding me? “But I’m about to have surgery,” I tell the nurse. I don’t mean to sound like a diva, but cutting me open and removing a piece of my intestines sounds like a pretty big deal to me. “I’ll have to have a room then,” I patiently explain. “Give me that room.” She shook her head.”That room is not available, We hope that someone is discharged by then.” Huh? “What are you going to do with me if they aren’t?” I ask. “Leave me in the hallway?” She wasn’t amused.
Finally about 2 am they came to get me to “prep” me for surgery which included me signing papers so they could do the surgery and having me take out all of my earrings and placing them, along with my wedding rings and necklace, in a small “biohazard” bag. Oh, I almost forgot the beautiful gown they gave me to wear. They let my boys come back , just in time for a large black man named Leroy to come and wheel me to the OR. Let me take a little time here to add that they told me I would have to wait on a room for surgery as well. So imagine my surprise when we head down a dimly lit, deserted corridor. I felt like I was in one of those horror films where people wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a note pinned to their chest, “Thanks for the kidneys”. But I’m in a lot pain again and it’s nearing 3 am. I’m not sure I care anymore. So I said a prayer that I wouldn’t wake up to find people bidding for my organs on ebay and hoped for the best. With my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and my nose about to bleed because it was so dry, they wheeled me into the room and helped me go to sleep.
Less than a hour later I was waking up, same dimly lit room, no one around but a couple of nurses who seemed friendly enough and didn;t at all seeem ike organ dealers. They give me a little bit to doze and finally wake up enough to take me to my room. Yay! I have a room: 8106. That’s me. My husband and son take my purse and leave me to go home and rest. And finally, FINALLY the nurses give me ice chips. After a mouthful, I fell asleep.
And the rest is pretty much uphill from here. Because of the lack of rooms they didn’t care that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom. They gave me water to drink and ordered me broth to eat and otherwise pushed me out of the nest like an impatient mama bird. I was given lunch, told to walk, and discharged at 5pm. (I tried to get them to let me stay a couple more nights. It was so peaceful there. I had the bed all to myself. It was comfortable and adjustable. They had put these devices on my legs that gently squeezed them every so often to stimulate blood flow. It was surprisingly relaxing. And I had a button near the bed that if I pushed it someone would come and get me things: more broth, juice, and water. It was almost as good as a vacation! But alas, they made me leave.)
Whew! Ordeal over. Well, almost. Here it is a week later and I’m still dealing with not being able to eat very much. Half a kid’s meal pushes against my incision. I’m still bruised from can to can’t from all the IVs, incisions, and blood draws. But the unexpected injuries came from a reaction to the bandaid adhesive that literally pulled layers of skin off my belly. Too bad it didn’t take some of the fat with it. :)
So that’s my story, probably not so different than anyone else’s, but mine all the same.
Thank you everyone for the kind words, prayers, and thoughts about me during this time. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time for the reality to set in until after it was over. But it’s amazing the support of my family and friends and readers that I only know from the internet. All humor aside. your kindness warms my heart and puts a smile on my face. Thank you all again so much!
I think it’s time to share my lovely, lovely cover for Courting Emily. (Mainly because the publishing house posted it on amazon <g>) Courting Emily is the story of Emily Ebersol, the bishop’s daughter. I can’t tell you a lot about this story yet, but I will say that the look on “Cover Emily’s” face is perfect. So Emily–a little bit innocent, a little bit mischievous, a whole lot of spunk. I love it! What do you think?
Blogging, I have decided, is a lot like dieting. At least it is for me. That is to say that I wake up and think “Today I need to work out/start eating better / write that blog post I’ve been thinking about.” Then the conversation goes on (with myself of course) that I can “wait until tomorrow / this afternoon / next week when I don’t have as much to do / have a deadline / or when I feel better. ” Sound familiar? (Please at least nod your head so I don’t feel like the only one with these excuses.)
I got up this morning feeling pretty good. (For those who don’t know my story, I have three lovely auto-immune disorders that like to pretend they are the boss of me on a regular basis. So there are many mornings when I feel more like crawling back into bed rather than strapping on my walking shoes and heading for the park. ) Yes, this morning was different. But… You knew there was a but, right? But…my walking shoes were caked with mud. And I hate dirty shoes. Hate, hate, hate. See, I got sort of shanghaied into helping clean up a friend’s yard. (Read here: my husband dragged me along and I couldn’t write out in the sun and can never just sit and watch, so up I went. Personally I think he does this on purpose. At any rate, I could barely walk the next day and loss the use of both thumbs for the rest of the week, but my friend’s yard looks great! )
Now, back to this morning and the dirty shoes. It was over 80 degrees at 7:30 when I took the Boy to summer school. A walk in the park was out of the question. A work out in the house was not going to happen either. I’ve already mentioned that my shoes are dirty . Were dirty. I took a rag, 14 paper towels, and an old toothbrush and scrubbed them until all the mud was gone. But it’s not the same. I want new walking shoes. Am I insane? Probably. But my once pristine babies are now a cleaned-up, slightly stained version of what they once were. Can I get new shoes? Not right now.
So tomorrow, I’ll put them on–now clean and really none the worse for wear despite my OCD tendencies where dirty shoes are concerned–and I’ll once again vow to start dieting / eating right / working out / and blogging. But just in case, one of my awesome auto-immunes decides to show itself and a work-out is not an option, I wrote this blog. There’s one thing off my to-do list.
I don’t have a lot of visitors to my blog. Let’s face it, with all the projects that I completed since the beginning of the year, I’ve barely had time to acknowledge that I even have a blog. But (there’s always a but, right?) I was scrolling through Facebook one day and ran across the cutest cover! The author was looking for readers to review the book. Sadly I was too late to get in on that. But I loved the cover so much I invited her to come to my blog during her release and share a little about the story.
Here’s the cover and the blurb–
Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole’s father has always focused on what she’snot. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.
Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it’s too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family’s greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father’s rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole’s plans.
After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.
Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father’s rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family’s legacy?
Now do you understand why I’m so infatuated? :)
Karen also graciously (during her busy time of release) sent me over a Q&A for a little more info about Full Steam ahead. If you have any other questions, Karen will be stopping in periodically to answer them.
In the mean time, I’m heading over to amazon to get my copy! :)
This may be one I have to get in print. :) Love love love that wonderful cover!
Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer
1. What inspired you to write Full Steam Ahead?
As I brainstormed, I decided it would be fun to have a hero who was a bit of a “mad” scientist. The trouble was figuring out what kind of scientific obsession would make sense in 1800’s Texas. I wanted something exciting, something explosive. I thought to use a chemist—think laboratory experiments gone wrong—but my high school chemistry skills were too rusty. Then I remembered the steamboat disasters of the 1840’s and 50’s. Thousands of lives were lost every year due to the rush to expand commerce into the west using technology that wasn’t yet truly understood. So I put my hero aboard an actual 19th century riverboat, the Louisiana, on the day that its boiler exploded in New Orleans, and my mad scientist was born. Darius Thornton becomes obsessed with discovering ways to make steamboat boilers safe—to the point that he regularly conducts explosive experiments of his own.
2. You’ve spoken about what drives your hero. What about your heroine? Any interesting historical happenings motivating her journey?
Only if you consider pirates interesting. Texas was actually home to one of the most famous pirates of the 19th century – Jean Lafitte. After helping General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British attack of 1815 and thereby earning a pardon for his previous smuggling operations, Jean Lafitte moved his base of operations to Galveston Island, Texas where he set up a pirate colony. My heroine’s grandfather saved the pirate’s life by taking a bullet meant for him. Lafitte rewards his valor with the gift of his personal, jeweled dagger. The Lafitte Dagger became the Renard family legacy, and over time its legend grew. As Galveston underwent political turmoil – going from Mexican rule to the Texas Revolution, then becoming an independent republic, to finally joining the union– Renard Shipping flourished. People began to believe that whoever possessed Lafitte’s dagger would find prosperity in the port of Galveston. When a rival shipping owner sets out to steal the dagger, Nicole Renard, as the only heir, takes the dagger and flees Galveston in an effort to protect her ailing father. Only, instead of escaping to New Orleans to meet up with trusted family friends, she is forced to take a detour up the Trinity River and ends up on the same plantation as Darius Thornton, our obsessed scientist.
3. Most of your books have been set in the 1880’s. Was it a challenge to set Full Steam Ahead three decades earlier?
Yes, it was definitely a challenge. Being so familiar with the 1880’s, I took certain things for granted. Like the railroad, the telegraph, a simple cookstove—none of which were readily available in Texas in the 1850’s. Women’s fashion was drastically different as well. I had to relearn everything my previous novel research had taught me. One fun piece I ran across during all this research was a link between steamboat engines and the Great Exhibition going on in London in 1851, the same year my story takes place. I couldn’t resist incorporating this little jewel, so Darius and Nicole make a trip to England in the epilogue. I can’t say more without spoiling the ending.
4. What are some of the themes explored in this story?
Letting go of the past is the overall theme, based on the verse from Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Darius is so obsessed with redeeming his past failures that he blinds himself to the present needs of the people around him. He must learn to forgive himself and allow God to restore his brokenness before he can move forward. Nicole, too, struggles with issues from her past. Childhood insecurities haunt her due to a father she believed always wanted a son instead of a daughter. She must learn to let go of those beliefs and recognize her own value in Christ in order to claim her happy ending.
5. Will there be future books based on the characters of Full Steam Ahead?
Yes! One of the secondary characters in Full Steam Ahead is a young runaway named Jacob who is taken in by Darius and Nicole. In early 2015, Jacob’s story will continue in an e-novella entitled Love on the Mend. Jacob is all grown up, and after serving as a Civil War doctor, where more soldiers leave his surgeon’s table dead or missing a limb than mended, Jacob wants nothing more than to establish a quiet country practice somewhere and find peace. But peace will never be his until he buries the pain of his past. So he returns to Cold Spring, Texas for the first time in seventeen years . . . and discovers that his past is still alive and kicking.
Thanks for sharing, Karen!
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Often admired. Misunderstood. Mysterious. I’m learning volumes deep inside the Amish from the many formers I know. Most left the Swartzentruber Order – the strictest and most punitive. Predominantly guys but a few gals have come through our home.
One thing that isn’t too different from us is that the Amish creatively push the envelope on the rules. Many see what they can get away with before the line is crossed – a rule broken – and the Bishop or Preacher comes a calling.
Sometimes the stories are funny. Sometimes they are sad.
Our “son” from the Amish – Mosie – chuckled as he told me of homes where the no electricity rule didn’t apply to the barn. Out there some Amish enjoyed lights and power tools.
Our son-in-law Harvey – also from the Swartzentruber Order – explained that buggy windshields were verboten. He grinned in glee when related the time he invented a windshield by wrapping his black buggy with clear plastic wrap.
“It was winter and I was cold going to work and back,” Harvey reasoned. “So I made a windshield. I left early in the morning while it was still dark and came home at night, so my dad couldn’t see my buggy. Then a guy saw my windshield and told Dad.”
Harvey’s dad is a bishop. He made Harvey remove the invention.
“I was walking home one day and found a bike in a farmer’s trash pile.” Harvey claimed the worldly prize, walked it over two miles home, and while his parents were away, hid the thing in his father’s workshop. He explained how he tinkered with it. Made repairs. Then he took his new “worldly” device over a hill and down in a deep culvert to keep in seclusion. “I told some of my friends,” he said. So they could all share in the community “sin.” Harvey added, “But, we rode at night so we wouldn’t get caught.”
Now, I think Harvey is clever to repair something he’s never owned. Like many Amish, he demonstrates a visual learning style. He looks at, watches, and pays attention to detail to educate himself.
I’ve met Swartzentruber Amish who’ve purchased homes from English – with indoor plumbing – but kept promising the Bishop they’d remove that “worldly” convenience. And those who promise to build a room addition without electric and plumbing. Somehow that room addition is never built.
Mosie likes to tease. I can imagine he was ornery growing up.
Others have boasted of their ingenuity in getting around the rigid rules. I recently saw a picture of . . . well, I can hardly describe it. Not a car. Truck. Motorcycle. Nor a four-wheeler. It was a mismatched combination of those parts. Therefore the Amish driver wasn’t breaking a rule or committing a “sin” by driving the combined contraction. He wasn’t driving a car, truck, motorcycle or a four-wheeler. I guess his settlement hadn’t made a rule against using a collective vehicle.
The teens hide radios and cell phones in the woods, inside the barn, or up in the attic. Some girls buy underwear at Victoria’s Secret because, after all, nobody will SEE their “worldly” undergarment. The Swartzentruber Ordnung – rule book – prohibits English underwear; rather, they are to make their own.
Not unlike teens of any culture, most Amish youth push the envelope. I know some who keep a “worldly” automobile tucked away in the woods. They ride their buggies into the protection of the trees where they tie up the horse, change into English clothes, hop in the car, and cruise around town. Without a driver’s license! In the wee early-morning hours, they sneak the vehicle back to the designated hide out, change into their strict, plain Amish clothing, climb into the buggy, and trot home before morning. Hoping to avoid detection.
Our second “son” from the Amish – Monroe – hid his cell phone in his loose Amish pants pocket. When he was at home, he would watch movies on his DVD player. Where’d he get that? He bought a DVD player at Walmart, and then hooked it up to a battery. Monroe and his sister, Sarah, would tiptoe up the steps of their home at night carrying the DVD player to their bedroom. There, they’d watch movies into the night. I can visualize a soft blue glow emanating from the upstairs of a darkened Amish home.
Monroe told me of his friends who’d take pictures with their cell phones – during prayer in church!
We read books and see TV programs about the Amish. But I’m learning of a very human dimension. Most have a God-given inquisitiveness. Apprentices in life. Unfortunately, it’s that freelancing curiosity and resourcefulness that can get their teens in trouble. And it’s often those with imagination, goals, and aspirations that don’t fit the conformity – the solidarity – of the Amish who leave for the “outside” life.
If you’d like to learn more about Swartzentruber Amish and Brenda’s “kids” from that culture, check out her blog:
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Thank you for sharing your stories, Brenda! You’re welcome to comeback anytime.
Yesterday an exciting day! Why, you ask? Because the finalist for the 2013 Carol Awards were announced, and Saving Gideon is a finalist in the romance category! I am grinning from ear to ear! So very excited to be among such great names as my dear friend, Margaret Daley as well as Carolyn Zane, Bradilyn Collins, and Beth Wiseman, who are also finalist this year.
Whew! Now we have to wait until September when the winners are announced. Truly it’s an honor to be a finalist…I can wait…for a while. :) Until then, here’s the cover and blurb for Saving Gideon:
Gideon Fisher wants only one thing out of life— to be left alone. This is not the Amish way, but he’s devastated after the death of his wife. He has lost his faith. He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community. But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does he have but to let her in?
Dallas socialite, Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere life style. Poor little rich girl, Avery has just gone through—–yet another—–bad breakup. Every man she meets only wants her for her father’s money. All she has ever wanted is to be loved for herself. Avery soon discovers that the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart.
But she finds a peace in those back roads that she’s never felt before. Now her life has purpose and meaning as she connects with God and those around her. But it has even more as she begins to care for this man who needs both love and forgiveness.
Gideon never wanted to live again much less fall in love, but Avery finds her way into his heart, showing him the beauty of life and God’s greatness. But as the feelings between Avery and Gideon grow, can they overcome their dissimilar lifestyles or will their sheer differences pull them apart?