Forget What You Thought Was Reality...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Autumn Glory & More...

Happy Thursday All,

I still need to set up some kind of schedule for posting on here, but I haven't gotten there, yet, so bear with me.

It's November, and Texas is finally slowly--here and there--showing signs of Fall. We're under 90 degrees these days, which is great. Also, we're getting under 80 on some days, so that's also a good thing--yay!

Things are still moving along for the audio-book. I'm pleased with the results so far and look forward to it being completed and available to my readers.

I've started doing live videos on Facebook. What's surprised me is how much I've enjoyed it. I'm usually shy, so I wasn't sure what I would do, but I'm starting to get more comfortable with it. What I really need, though, is feedback from YOU, darling readers, to know what you want me to talk about. My narrator and I are working on an idea of Skyping and doing a live video during the Skype so that you all can meet him and ask questions about the audio book and such. He's extremely talented so I think it'll be fun. We haven't set a date for that, so stay tuned.

Next week is Thanksgiving and one of my aunts is coming into town. I'm looking forward to seeing her because we always have a good time. My dad is planning to cook and bake and he's awesome at both, so I imagine it will be a wonderful dinner.

Do you have big plans for the holiday? 

P.S. If you haven't been on Facebook and see my videos, I'm going to put them on my author page. Also, if you're a cat lover, check out my friends at The Magnificats and Floppycats.com . :-)

Have A Thrillingly Terrific Thursday!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Your Presence Is Requested At The Midnight Hour....

Happy Friday All,

Before you go off on your exciting weekend adventures, I've got an official blog book review for you all:

Author C.C. Hunter signing the first Shadow Falls book,
Born At Midnight at an event celebrating
Born At Midnight's release
Fans of C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls series-- the long awaited end to the highly imaginative series has arrived in the form of our favorite dyslexic witch's story.

The gang returns for one last adventure in Fallen, Texas. Miranda and her half-sister, Tabitha, visit the house of a fortune-telling witch, only to almost be blown to smithereens. Rushed to the hospital, they find out that while they’re going to live, a strange tattoo has taken up residence on Miranda, and climbs up her arm and covers her, only to disappear at some points and reappear at other times.
Besides that, Miranda is riding the emotional roller coaster that is her family dynamics, romantic highs and lows, and unless she can raise her SAT scores, facing a future without her two best friends, chameleon, Kylie and vampire, Della.

While all this is going on, Shawn the warlock, and Perry the shapeshifter are vying for Miranda’s affections. Shawn, while working with the FRU, works to keep Miranda and her sister safe, and Perry tries his best to spend time with Miranda while walking a dangerous line uncovering the facts of why his parents abandoned him.

Perry finds out is his parents are entrenched in a massive crime organization that the shapeshifter vows to take down. That is, if he can convince a certain FRU agent not take him off the case.

And Shawn? Shawn is having a bad day. A girl, who may or may not be a victim, beats the heck out of him and the poor guy faces the razzing of his fellow agents (namely a certain werewolf sweet on Kylie and Della’s vampire sweetheart).

Life is never boring when you’re a supernatural being.

The action-packed, suspense-filled Midnight Hour--the conclusion to the bestselling series--will hit shelves on October 25th. Preorder by October 24th to get your hands on C.C. Hunter’s special Kylie-Lucas story, Fighting Back. You can preorder at Amazon and also preorder at Barnes & Noble.

Have A Fantastically Fabulous Friday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Conference, Announcements, & More...

Happy Wednesday, Thursday, or whenever you read this, darling readers!

IMMORTAL DREAMS basket (bag of goodies)
I donated for the conference raffle
Things have been super busy in the Averie Household (although, when are they not?) And also busy in my writing life, too.

This past weekend, I attended the Northwest Houston chapter of Romance Writers of America (NWHRWA--which I am a member of this chapter) Lone Star Writer's Conference.

The conference consisted of being broken up into 2 parts, a morning speaker and an afternoon speaker.

basket I donated for the raffle
Kerrelyn Sparks speaking at
the 2016 Lone Star Writer's Conference
In the morning we had the incredibly talented, NY Times Bestseller, Kerrelyn Sparks (of the Love At Stake series fame). Kerrelyn is someone I know personally and haven't seen in more than a year, so it was great to see her again, catch up, and hear what she had to say. She talked about different hooks, and about the different parts of writing and how to work within each part. She likened writing to the 4 quarters of a football game (the football part goes over my head, I'm not a football fan, but she broke it down nicely, so I wasn't lost). She also said "You're not JUST a writer. You're never JUST anything." she said that instead of comparing yourself to another writer and their successes or whatever they've done, to compete with yourself. To be the best writer, plotter, or whatever part of writing is your strength.

She gave away some copies of her novels, as well as copies of the ARC of her March 2017 release, How To Tame A Beast In Seven Days.

Me & Kerrelyn
at the 2016 Lone Star Writer's Conference
I really enjoy Kerrelyn's writing and speaking. She's so sweet, funny, and generous. She's a great friend, talented author, and very supportive of other authors. So, yeah, I recommend her for speaking or checking out her work. 

I missed the announcement of the Lone Star Writer's Contest finalists, but they should be listed on the website soon if they aren't already (link is near the beginning of this post).

Sandra Beckwith speaking
at the 2016 Lone Star Writer's Conference
In the afternoon, the extremely helpful Sandra Beckwith from Buildbookbuzz.com spoke, and she had a lot of helpful hints and tips for marketing and promoting. Some ideas I've heard, and some of them I hadn't. There are a few I intend to try and see what happens. She says she has a lot of information on her website, so that's good for those who have or haven't heard her speak. If you get a chance to attend any of her workshops, I recommend it.

If you haven't been following me on Facebook, you probably missed my news!

I recently signed a contract with my publisher for a new Immortal Dreams novel. This novel, entitled Perfect Love is Laney's best friend, Hailey's story. (That's right Immortal Dreams fans, I've finally written Hailey's story!) I don't have a release date, yet, but I'll update when I have more information.

C.C. Hunter will have a brand new release THIS MONTH. Miranda's story, which has been highly anticipated, arrives Oct. 25th. This is the last book in the Shadow Falls series It should be quite an exciting finish to an incredibly imaginative and fun series.

Also, those of you who pre-order Midnight Hour will be able to get a brand-new Kylie-Lucas story entitled, Fighting Back, so get those pre-orders in BEFORE the release date! Click here to Pre-Order from Amazon. Click here to Pre-Order from Barnes & Noble. I'll have to do a more in-depth post about this, but right now, go pre-order Midnight Hour. :-)

Anyway, as you can see, there is a lot going on. I'll update more at another time, and give more of a look at C.C. Hunter's Midnight Hour in a different post, but for now, darling readers, (and for my Immortal Dreams fans, Immortals) I wish you the best of the rest of the week and hoping you're having a great start to October!

Have A Wonderfully Whimsical Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Conference, Fall, & Holiday Fun...

Happy Wednesday All,

We're almost done with August, in fact, September starts tomorrow. Writers have until September 23rd to register for the Northwest Houston RWA Lone Star Writer's Conference. All writers, of all genres are welcome. We open up the conference to all writers of all genres, so take advantage of that.

Morning Speaker will be NY Times Bestseller, Kerrelyn Sparks. The afternoon speaker is going to be Sandra Beckwith from Buildbookbuzz.com. We'll have raffle baskets to raffle off, there will be pitch sessions going on, and more. 

Some writers have said they couldn't make this year. Very well, if you, a writer, can't make it this year, then put us down for next year. Generally we have the Conference the first Saturday in October. That's the date it's been ever since I started going to the conference back in 2009. So see, the time of year hasn't changed, just when the first Saturday of October is changes (some years it's not the 1st of October).

As Summer slips past us, and Fall starts in, I get a sense of an anticipation. Not just for the Conference, but also for cooler weather...for Holidays and fun. Anybody who knows me well knows that Halloween isn't my favorite Holiday. Thanksgiving is all right, but I'm really a big Christmas fan. My husband puts up with Hallmark Christmas movies from the moment they begin until the moment they end (then he deals with the Valentine's ones in February, because let's face it, I consider myself hopelessly romantic).

One of the things I love about Christmas are the lights. I like seeing houses and buildings lit up in a festive glow. We're hoping to make it out to Disney World sometime (not this year) during the Christmas season in part for that reason. I hear so much about how beautiful and wonderful it is. This year, we're looking at San Antonio for a little visit during the December month and I'm looking forward to seeing the lights along the Riverwalk (I've been to San Antonio and the Riverwalk several times, but not during the Christmas/Advent Season). We're also looking at going to Sea World--we've been there in the Summer, but never for their Christmas events. I had no idea they were even open during that time!

After the Conference on October 1st, we'll probably start gearing up for Halloween. Generally my kids go Trick or Treating with the cousins, but due to some changes this year, I'm not sure what will be happening. Eldest already knows what he wants to be for Halloween, Youngest is pretty laid back and goes with the flow.

For Thanksgiving, I think one of my aunts is coming into town, which will be fun. I always enjoy seeing her, and having Thanksgiving at my parents' house is a treat.

This year, I'm hoping Texas gets cooler than last year. Last year we pretty much were wearing shorts at Christmas, which just felt completely wrong to me. Even in my part of Texas we generally can wear warm clothing at Christmas. I love wrapping up in blankets and watching Christmas Specials at home. Making hot cocoa or tea is always fun, too.

What do you like about the Fall months and the holidays during Fall and Winter?

Have A Whimsically Wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Should You Register? Let Me Count The Reasons...

Happy Monday All,

I know I haven't been good about keeping up with the blog. Currently I have a full plate. I'm working on a project my publisher has requested, plus something I did on my own, and a couple of stories I'm hoping to finish writing. On top of that, I've got the mommy/wife gigs going on, and the audiobook.

However, I do want to make all writers aware that the time has come to get your registration for the Northwest Houston chapter of Romance Writers of America Lone Star Writer's Conference in! The deadline to register is September 15, and we're about halfway through August already.

Me with editor, Debby Gilbert
at the 2014 Lone Star Writer's Conference
I have been attending this conference since 2009. Every year is different, but consistently it's been fun, informative, and worth every penny. I'm excited that this year Kerrelyn Sparks is speaking.

Me, author Kerrelyn Sparks, and author
Christie Craig
Kerrelyn is a fellow author and someone I've had the pleasure of meeting in person. She's talented, sweet, and I imagine has some great information for writers. She has a fabulous sense of humor and is very personable.

Jennifer Fusco of Market Or Die! is also coming. I haven't heard her speak, and I don't know her, but it sounds interesting, and I can always use marketing ideas for my work.
Taken at one of the Lone Star
Conferences I attended (I can't remember
which one)

There will be pitching opportunities, and also raffle baskets available.

I look forward to this conference every year and I'm already registered. We have had writers of all different genres come, so even if you don't write romance, don't hesitate!

See you there!

Have A Marvelously Magnificent Monday!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Time For August...

Happy Wednesday All,

Well, I'm back on antibiotics with ear infection issues, again. Fun times in the Averie household, but oh well.

It's August, and a part of me can't believe we're already facing Fall again, and another part of me says it can't get here fast enough. I'm not a fan of snow and ice, but I do like cooler temperatures and the heat is oppressive. I mean granted, it's been hotter here than it has been, but it's still plenty hot.

My WIP (Work In Progress) is with my proofreader and I'm looking forward to sending it to my publisher. In some ways I can't believe I'm already here again, in others it feels like it's taken me forever. But it's nice to have another novel written and going through the process. Of course, I'm working on the next story and that's going okay so far. We'll see what happens.

Registration is still going on for the NWHRWA's Lone Star Writer's Conference. It looks like it's going to be a great conference (and fun, of course). I'm all registered. If you're a writer, I recommend it. You can click here to find out more.

So what's going on in your life?

Have A Wondrously Witty Wednesday!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sell Yourself, AKA Promotion...

Happy Monday All,

It's another week, you ready? Apparently whether we're ready or not, the week begins.

I don't mind my writing work, and generally the mommy-gig isn't too bad, but it's been a bit rough this week with Youngest, so it's a little tougher than usual--especially when migraines hit. So I'm sipping my coffee, wishing I got a little more sleep, and doing my best to get myself together for the day.

One of the topics that will be covered at the NWHRWA 2016 Lone Star Writer's Conference (for more information, click here) is PR--aka Promotion.

A lot of writers (including myself) are either shy or introverted (sometimes both). I have met some writers who weren't shy, and some extroverted writers, but I haven't met many. The one thing that is often on any writer's mind when they think of promotion and putting themselves out there is how? What can you do?

The short answer is--a lot. Almost everywhere you go there are opportunities for networking/promoting. In fact, I do it on a regular basis in spite of any shyness/introversion on my part.

Here's an example:  Last year, during the Christmas season (Christmas Eve to be precise), we decided to get a pizza. So I went into the pizza place and gave the checker my order. While waiting,
I sat down next to a lady and we got to chatting. We chatted about some things--Christmas, Church, and such. Finally, I asked if she liked to read. She talked about what she liked to read, and I said I was a Romance author, and pulled out my bookmarks (I keep them in my purse, so I have them whenever I get into a situation like this) and described my books and gave them to her (I often will even sign the Divine Love bookmarks for people).

This is a quick way to make yourself known (especially if you're not a big name). And even if THEY don't like the genre you write, they might know someone who does, and they can pass on your bookmarks to those people.

Now, I'm not saying it's easy to talk to people I don't know. But, you can assess the situation and decide whether or not it's an opportunity. And if the opportunity presents itself, then you've got one more person who knows about your work.

Promotion is a big topic, and most people have an opinion or ideas of what to do. Writers have to take this information and assess what's best for them.

Like I said, this topic will be covered at the Conference, and that's on Saturday, October 1, 2016. It's open to all writers, so get that registration in!

Have A Magnificently Marvelous Monday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

It's That Time Again...

Happy Wednesday Everybody!

I'm one tired chica. For the last 4 nights either dizziness (due to allergies) or Youngest Offspring has made sure I don't get a full-night's sleep. In fact, I don't think I've slept from 11 p.m. to 8 or 9 a.m. in over a year. I imagine it's part and parcel of the whole Mommy-gig. But since I know things could be much worse, I suppose I should thank the Lord this is all I'm up against in terms of being a mom at the moment.

The NWHRWA has opened up registration for the annual Fall Conference--the Lone Star Writer's Conference, which is happening Saturday, October 1st. This conference is open to ALL writers, NOT just Romance novelist. So you Thriller, Suspense, Horror, and such, you can come, too. YA and NA writers, you come, too. It's open to ALL writers.

The fabulous NY Times Best Seller, Kerrelyn Sparks, will be
Me, KERRELYN SPARKS, and author Christie Craig
talking about world building and all of that fun stuff. We have another speaker for the afternoon--someone I've never heard before, but she sounds great, too. Her name is Jennifer Fusco, and she'll be speaking on promotion.

More details can be found on the website, which if you click right here, it'll take you straight to the information on the conference.

Trust me, you do NOT want to miss. We have a lot of fun. There are raffle baskets (great stuff are in those, believe me--I plan on bringing at least one for the raffle, so don't you want to come and see what I'm giving away?) I have to double-check, but I believe lunch is included, and we usually have something out for breakfast. This is southern hospitality, folks, and we don't skimp on the welcoming.

As of the writing of this blog post, they're waiting on the reservation code for hotel rooms, but I'm told that will be available soon. We especially encourage any Lone Star Writer's Contest finalists to come because we do a whole announcement for that.

I've already turned in my registration...have you?

Have A Wonderfully Whimsical Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Elegance & Grace...

Happy Tuesday All,

Lately I've been watching YouTube series on ballet. Ballet fascinates me on several levels--as someone who used to take ballet classes (no, I never danced en pointe, or on my toes--I also took tap and jazz, but that's another story) some of the steps and terms are familiar to me. As an art form, I think it's one of the most beautiful. I love the grace and elegance of classical ballet. I also have a tremendous respect for the dancers. They work their bodies hard, and their futures are often uncertain.

In some ways, writing and dancing aren't that different. Both are art forms in their own right. Both take dedication to their craft. They take time to develop. Both have to learn new ways of doing and thinking depending on what they're working on. And both often take up much of a person's time.

Growing up, my parents took me to several ballets. I've seen The Nutcracker so many times I have no desire to go again (even though it's a lovely ballet). I've seen Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Giselle, and Romeo & Juliet,  just to name a few. I love Swan Lake. I hear Cinderella is coming to my local ballet (I think next year), it's a different version than what I saw and a part of me is curious. Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy-tales (second only to Beauty & The Beast--incidentally, has there ever been a ballet of Beauty & The Beast? I would so go see that one!)

I love ballet so much, that years ago when I took my correspondence class from the Writer's Digest School (I don't know if it was called University back then, maybe it was, I don't remember, this was over 10 years ago), I actually wrote a short story centered around ballet. I'm not particularly fond of that story. It's filed away somewhere and I won't even let my friends see it. Partially because I know I can write better now, and partially because of some of the emotions I experienced while working on it. However, despite that, one day I might write a new story that has ballet in it. If I do, I'm thinking I would love to talk to some of the professionals. Nothing helps a writer's research and terminology than talking to those directly in that field.

Anyway, what art forms do you like?

Have A Tremendously Terrific Tuesday!

Monday, July 11, 2016

A-Conferencing We Will Go...

Happy Monday All,

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Summer. Down here in the Lone Star State we are melting, but that's not unusual. Heat + Humidity = Texas Summers. I'm surprised we're not in the triple digits (the week forecast looks like we're going to get close). It makes me very grateful for central air condition and car air conditioning.

This week is the week of RWA Nationals. RWA is Romance Writers of America. Nationals are the conference they host every year--generally in a different location each year. The Conference is open to members (and I believe non-members) alike. A huge number of industry professionals, as well as writers, attend Nationals every year. Although, I'm in the latter group--the group that doesn't attend. You have to budget for Nationals because typically it does cost more than the local ones. Given my family demands and my financial situation, it's not something I can do at this point. Maybe in the future. I would like to go once, just to gain the experience and see what it's like.

If you're interested in more information on RWA Nationals, please don't hesitate to look up their website here. RWA has a ton of information available, not just for Romance writers, but often writing in general. It does mostly cater to Romance writers, but I know some Non-Romance writers who have benefited from information RWA provided.

So, for those of us who can't attend Nationals and would like to go to a writer's conference, what are our options?

Many RWA chapters have conferences throughout the year that cost less. They're smaller, and generally only offer one or two topics, but sometimes that's what's best for a writer (every writer is different and they have to decide what works for them in terms of conference options).

My RWA chapter--NWHRWA has an annual Fall conference every year that takes place the first Saturday in October. The nice thing is, this is usually when the weather is getting cooler in Texas so you're not as likely to melt (you're welcome) and we generally have one or two topics, so it's focused, and sometimes intense--but gives you more opportunity to use your energy to learning one thing at a time and soak it up. (If that's your preference).

I'm excited for my chapter, NWHRWA, Lone Star Writer's Conference this year. We have a great line up planned:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Talking About Learning Disabilities/Challenges Part 3...

Happy Tuesday Everybody,

Thank you for joining us on this blog series. Today is the last one. The comments and response has been wonderful--thank you for that as well!

There are young people in the world struggling with learning differences (sometimes called learning disabilities) who may or may not feel they aren’t as good as those who don’t have these disabilities/challenges.

The three of us—Bethany Averie, Ryan Jo Summers, and Christie Craig—have all faced learning disabilities/difficulties and based on our personal experiences, and what we see in the world today, were inspired to share our own stories with you.

We’ll be posting each author’s Q&A style on all our blogs. Today is the last day with author Christie Craig's interview up.

Our wish is for you teens and young adults to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter if you do face learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you.

Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.

So, here are our stories, and we wish you all the best.

Briefly tell us about yourself (your name, your YA story titles, anything else you wish to say about yourself):

My name is Christie Craig.  I’m an Alabamian who now hangs my hat in Texas.  My thirty-fifth book will be released in October.  I write under two names.  As Christie Craig, I write humorous romantic suspense.  My young adult books are written under C. C. Hunter.  In addition to writing, I do writing workshops.  And in my other life I was a freelance writer and photo journalist.  I’m a mom, a wife, and a lover of wine, walking, and traveling.  My life policy is if you want something, go make it happen. And never, ever give up.

What are your learning disabilities/difficulties and do you remember how/when you were diagnosed?

I’m dyslexic.  I was diagnosed in third grade as being learning disabled.  I had a very hard time reading, spelling, and am extremely directionally impaired.  Left and right is still a mystery to me. North, South, East and West is like talking Chinese.  I wasn’t actually diagnosed as dyslexic until I was 30.  And this came after my son was officially diagnosed.  I now read, and while I’m not as fast as most people, I love reading.  I’m terrible at leaving out words like: an, and, the, and to.  I confuse words like:  two and to, and too, and mail and male.  I know the difference, but when I write, my mind doesn’t recognize the differences.  I will leave out letters in words.  I’m told that I learned to cope with a lot of my issues by relying on my auditory strengths.  So I hear my words in my head, and when I use that skill, it turns off the part of my brain that allows me to recognize my mistakes.  The only way I can catch my own mistakes is not to read it for about a month, so my auditory
side of my brain doesn’t kick in.  I cannot take notes and listen at the same time.  If I attempt to write something down, my brain will not retain anything else that is being said. 
Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?

First let me say, I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I have in spite of dyslexia, but in part due to it.  Most Dyslexic people are intuitive.  We read people.  We read emotions.  Because of this, dyslexics are often natural born storytellers.  I spent my entire childhood making up stories in my head.  Not even realizing that this was a talent.  This intuitive ability allows me to tap into the emotions of my characters and create stories that pull at the heartstrings of readers.  Being a writer takes the tenacity of a Tasmanian Devil.  Being dyslexic taught me I had to work hard, and even harder that others for anything I wanted.  I have over 10,000 rejection letters.  But because of the lessons of never giving up, I just kept going, learning, and I made it where a lot of people who didn’t have the same issues, gave up.
What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?
To this day I remember the first person who looked at me and said, “Wow, you are intelligent.”  I was twenty-three years old.  Because I didn’t do well in school, I quit school in tenth grade, I didn’t realize that I was smart.  It was only as an adult that I realized my disability didn’t reflect my intelligence.  Yes, it’s hard to find self-confidence when you have to struggle for something that comes easily for others.  Find your gifts, and focus on how those gifts can help you succeed in what you want in life. For many, my choice career of writing may seem a difficult path, and yes, it’s harder for me than others, but because I tapped into my gifts of being able to write emotionally, the storytelling aspect comes easier to me than others. 

How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?

As I said earlier, I’m not a quitter. I simply refuse to give up.  I sold
my first book ten years after I started writing.  I didn’t sell my second book until thirteen years later.  I deal with dyslexia in my writing career by having people proof my books even before they go out to an editor.  Yes, my publishers have line editors and copy editors who also go over it, but I want to hand them as clean a copy as I can.  Even this interview will be read by a proofer before it goes to Bethany.  I used to whine about never being able to write a clean copy.  I spend at least 50 hours of every week writing, you would think I would have overcome my issues.  But I haven’t.  Yes, I’m so much better than I was before, but generally, I still will have as many as five mistakes a page.  And that’s with me going over it three or four times.  But I’ve learned to accept that I will always have goofs in my work. I’ve learned to compensate. 

Briefly tell us about your Young Adult (YA) books, etc.:

I write the Shadow Falls series.  These are stories about a camp/turned school that caters to paranormal teens who learn to harness their powers and also to learn to get along with each other.  The books are centered around three girls who are roommates: Kylie, Della and Miranda.  The books have suspense, romance, paranormal elements, and a lot of laughter.  This October, Midnight Hour, the final and tenth book in that series will be released.  Miranda, my heroine in Midnight Hour, is a dyslexic witch.  In her journey, Miranda is finally learning to believe in herself in spite of her disability. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Talking Learning Challenges/Disabilities Part 2

Happy Tuesday Everybody,

We're continuing the Learning Challenges/Disabilities blog series. 

For those just joining us, I will include the preface I had up for last week.

There are young people in the world struggling with learning differences (sometimes called learning disabilities) who may or may not feel they aren’t as good as those who don’t have these disabilities/challenges.

The three of us—Bethany Averie, Ryan Jo Summers, and Christie Craig—have all faced learning disabilities/difficulties and based on our personal experiences, and what we see in the world today, were inspired to share our own stories with you.

We’ll be posting each author’s Q&A style on all our blogs. Last week was Bethany Averie. This week will feature Ryan Jo Summers, then the next Christie Craig. 

Our wish is for you teens and young adults to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter if you do face learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you.

Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.

So, here are our stories, and we wish you all the best.

Note from Bethany:  This week is Ryan Jo Summers' story.  You can also find Ryan Jo Summers' blog here

Briefly tell us about yourself (your name, your YA story titles, anything else you wish to say about yourself):

My name is Ryan Jo Summers. I write contemporary romance fiction and free-lance non-fiction, essays and scribble poetry for fun/ therapy. I have written a YA novel, working title of “Flashes of Lightning” and currently am working on trying to find a publishing home for it. I love animals and six of the seven animals living with me are rescues with their own luggage of differences. Three are occupational hazards of when I used to be a veterinary technician.

What are your learning disabilities/difficulties and do you remember how/when you were diagnosed?
Dyslexia, poor eyesight and being left-handed were the biggies. Now days we don’t see being left-handed as a disability, but back when I was young, it was unacceptable to be ‘different’ from everyone else. Because of the poor eyesight, I struggled to see the blackboard. It took to the middle of second grade for my parents and teacher to figure that out, so by the time I received glasses, the impaired learning was already set.

As a result of being ‘different’ I was frequently called “retarded” at home by my family, who did not understand my issues were either not really issues at all or could have been easily corrected much sooner. This degrading caused low self-esteem and certainly depression at an early age, which fed into the “I’m retarded and useless” thinking, which fed into the “I can’t learn” mentality. I also suffered incredible headaches, which made it hard for me to concentrate, retain information or recall information.  I had small seizures, in which I drifted off and became ‘lost’ to what was happening around me. To many, that just confirmed I was ‘retarded’.
To this day, I still loath and cringe at the word ‘retarded’.

It would take many years—up into Jr high to prove my family wrong. There was never an official diagnosis until I was grown. And made it a point to educate myself.  I eventually outgrew most of my difficulties. Eyeglasses brought the board into my world. I studied hard, brought up my grades. In Jr High and High school, I carried a 4.0 GPA. I took advanced, challenging classes, excelling in English and science courses. Finally no one could call me ‘retarded’. I still struggle with dyslexia, especially with numbers. And today being left-handed is no big deal. The headaches were finally diagnosed as migraines, once I left home, and I take daily medication for both that and the occasional seizures I used to have.   
Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?

I don’t recall much, except resenting and being hurt by my family’s insensitive actions. They were supposed to be my support system. Not the case. I was socially challenged, not having many friends until I became a teen. Eventually, I learned to use school as my place to escape, a place where I could earn acceptance by the school staff. That unconditional acceptance was a precious blessing to a depressed and lonely kid. I could work hard, study hard and knew my teachers appreciated my efforts. Now I know that was wrong, in a way, but it worked then. I regret my family could not have been understanding and encouraging of my struggles, instead of adding to them.  To this day, it still hurts.

I feel parents and school staff should be more open to correctly diagnosing symptoms they see instead of quickly slapping a label on them. I raised two special needs step sons from the ages of 3 and 6. The older one was considered ADHD & Learning Disabled and the younger one was considered Learning Disabled. The older one was hyper, but he was also acting out because of his parent’s divorce, the fact he had no control in his life and he was angry and scared. The younger one certainly was slow to learn, at three he uttered instead of talking and was not potty trained yet. Like me, he was a bed wetter well into his teens. Much of his issue was reinforced by his older brother’s treatment to him. He eventually caught up to where he needed to be and today is an eloquent, intelligent, and methodical young man.

What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?
You are just as good as the rest of the world. You have something to contribute too. Never, ever, let anyone tell you are less. You may have to try harder, but that application will be noticed. You don’t have to listen to negative, ignorant or cruel people. Never hang your head in shame. There is nothing to be ashamed for. Make no excuses. Make change. Make your own mark.

How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?

I had to become tough. To think outside the box of what seemed normal for everyone else. To believe in myself. To focus on the positives and the now. To know when to walk away from those who intended to harm me. Words do hurt, but I don’t have to stay and listen to them. I have strong opinions and I have to watch how they sometimes come across. I still struggle with occasional bouts of depression but have learned to cope. I write, draw, create poetry, cook, whatever works. Hug my dog. Water the plants.

Clearly I don’t have much of a relationship with my family, so I have become resilient and independent. I treasure the friendships I have. My experiences in life make it hard for me to trust, but I am learning. I am also much more open minded and compassionate.
Briefly tell us about your Young Adult (YA) books, etc.:

“Flashes of Lightning” is the coming of age story for 16-year-old Tabitha McGowan. She loses her best boyfriend buddy and falls into a world of new friends. She is introduced to Magick, and falls for the bad-boy new mechanic in town.
She becomes estranged with her family. The reader follows Tabitha’s journey from typical teen to young adulthood. She makes lots of decisions, some good and some not so smart. She is a kid, a young lady, many can identify with and root for.

My other books are adult romance, written in a twisted blend of contemporary, time travel, mystery, Inspirational, suspense, paranormal and sweet romance. They can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords Most are novels, with one anthology and one novella.