It began with the launch of my book, The Convict, the Rookie Card, and the Redemption of Gertie Thump.
For almost a year, a strategized, schemed, studied and looked forward to this day when I would be able to meet my public and sign books. I plotted out a travel itinerary, beginning in my little hometown of Mexico, MO. I scrutinized marketing advice blogs and columns, extracting what I felt were the most advantageous tips. I made spreadsheets, carefully tabulating my social media growth and following. I was ready and I was psyched.
Then the book came out. I received my first shipment about 4 months after release and set up a signing at our local historical society's grand old headquarters. There were visual aids, refreshments, and a cake bearing the cover of the book. I also had more support than I ever could have imagined. About 25 people showed. My sister did a reading and I sat in paralyzing anxiety. I smiled and went through the routine, but inside, I thought I was dying. By the time we cleaned up and went home, I was in pretty rough shape. Certifiable. Commitable. Crushed.
I am a girl who has comfortable spoken to groups of hundreds. Then life got complicated and I had to face the realization that I was even more broken than I thought.
I had one more scheduled signing at a little wine shop on the square. It would be a smaller group and less whooplah! I could manage. But when the day came, I spent the hour before vomiting, even with a Valium in me. This . was . bad! I discovered I would have to completely re-evaluate my future. I considered Lemony Snicket and his brilliant schtick. I thought about hiring a "me" to go on the road. Inside, I was devastated. All my life had led up to this moment and I was DOA.
In the weeks afterward, I became fairly despondent. I wanted to sleep. And drink. But I don't drink. So I slept. A lot.
One evening, I was in bed and felt really awful. It felt beyond panic attack. I drove myself to the ER, with no insurance, and checked in. My blood pressure was through the roof. My heart was sprinting. I had muscle weakness and general aches and pains. They ran a battery of tests, including an EKG, and everything tested fine. The only problem was my potassium. It was dangerously low. The good doctor explained that extreme stress depletes potassium and low potassium causes anxiety. I had spiraled into a dangerous place. He gave me scripts for potassium horsepills (taking them was quite an event) and blood pressure meds and sent me home.
Three days later, I wound up back there, thinking I was having a reaction to the potassium. When then ran some more bloodwork, they found that the component that indicated blood clots in my lungs was elevated. So I had my very first CT scan as I went into panic mode again thinking about the implications of having blood clots anywhere, but particularly in my lungs.
Everything came out fine, but I had a raging bronchitis. More meds, this time antibiotics, and more astronomical medical bills. What the heck. It's only money.
Needless to say, I watch with a blend of admiration and envy as my cohorts, tremendously talented authors also signed on with my publisher, WiDo, go on their book tours and ride the wave of celebrity. I am genuinely happy for them. And I am learning to be happy with where I am. Being miserable about it is completely counterproductive.
I'm currently developing a new persona—the world's oldest emo. I am donning thick black eyeliner, wear back tights and corsets with hints of red. My hair covers most of my eyes and I cry a lot. I am also still considering agoraphobia as an alternate lifestyle.
I continue to write, but am taking things a different direction. I've started a women's online magazine, written by women for women, called Blooming Women. Our numbers are growing and I think it will become a great success. I am also nearly finished with a children's book, a lovely allegory on labeling, as learned by Clive the Warthog. I am also deep into the Gertie Thump sequel which promises to be even more fun than the first. In addition, I'm working on my first YA novel and I'm more excited than I can express about it. It is a zombie chronicle, but with an amazing twist. I like twists. Twists are good. Totally. (That reference is probably lost—unless you remember the show Square Pegs.)
I have been negligent in keeping up with this blog, but I am back! Promise! Just have to do it from the fringes and not out in the sunlight. Thanks for all your love and support!