Thursday, July 18, 2013

Please welcome our guest Debra Ullrick
by Debra Ullrick
Recently, I’ve been going through something I didn’t know had a name. It’s called… Writer’s Burnout. How do I know this?
Well, I stumbled across an article that fit me to a Tee and explained exactly what I was going through.
The woman who had written the article had lost three grandparents in a short period of time and a fourth was in the hospital. During this sad time, she had numerous deadlines which she managed to meet even with a broken wrist. But, when she finished the last one, she found no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t write a single word and that was so unlike her. The woman had no idea what was wrong until she discovered she was suffering from Writer’s Burnout. She had no idea what to do. Finally, she mustered up some much needed courage and told her editor and agent what she was going through. Much to her relief, they were very understanding.

What does everything she went through have to do with me?

Well, like her, I had a terrible time writing and had no idea why. Ever since last August something strange has happened inside me. Several mornings, I would wake up thinking… “Oh crud, I woke up.” Not good, and so unlike me. I couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did. All I knew was, stress and depression were taking their physical toll on my body. I soon discovered what the problem was.

This year, a few days before Mother’s Day rolled around, my mother’s death hit me hard. My mom died October 30, 2011. To make matters worse, on Mother’s Day of 2012 my beloved brother-in-law of 44 years passed away. Five months later, my cousin passed away and three months after that my father-in-law died. No wonder I was struggling and depressed. But I didn’t understand or know that until recently.

Click to Buy
You see, I never took the time to grieve for any of them. I was too busy. And lately, I have been missing my mother something awful and wishing I had spent more time with her. I know I can’t go back and change things, but what I can do is learn from her death, and I have. In fact, I learned an invaluable lesson. I might have a deadline, but I can’t neglect those I love because of them. Unfortunately that lesson came too late for me where my mom and brother-in-law are concerned, but it’s not too late for those who are still living.

I’m noticing a change already. I’m allowing myself the time to grieve for those I have lost who were so dear to me. Something I hadn’t done before because I was too busy. I’m not complaining, mind you, as I am very grateful and thankful for every book contract I have received.

I am also stepping back, taking a break, and rejuvenating my creativity again by reading for the pure pleasure of it. I’m also taking time to enjoy the little things of life again, like watching movies, sitting outside in the early mornings listening to the birds and the sounds of summer, and spending time with friends and family who had stopped “bothering” me because I was on a deadline. I now take time and will stop what I am doing to talk with them, to share a meal with them, and to just enjoy their company. Having already started this, I can feel the joy of life and writing rising up in me again. And that’s an awesome, awesome thing. *smiling*

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of The Unintended Groom
The Unintended Groom
A Perfect PartnershipWhen Abby Bowen's dream of love is dashed, she pursues a new dream: opening a dinner theater in Hot Mineral Springs, Colorado. There's just one hitch: she needs a male business partner. The handsome father of twins who answers Abby's ad is perfect…perhaps too perfect. Working with someone like Harrison Kingsley—without losing her heart—will be harder than Abby anticipated.

It's a good thing Harrison's arrangement with Abby is strictly business. Because with her kind soul, smiling blue eyes and gentle way with his boys, he could easily fall for her. But the longer he works with Abby, the more Harrison realizes that the Lord might have an entirely different partnership planned for them.
Hi there! I’m Debra Ullrick an award-winning Christian romance author. In addition to multiple full-length novels, my stories have been featured in several novella collections, one of which made the New York Times bestseller’s list. I am happily married to my wonderful, hunky-cowboy husband of thirty-nine years, and I have one married daughter. For over twenty-five years, my husband and I lived and worked on cattle ranches in the Colorado Mountains. A famous movie star and her screenwriter husband are partial owners of the last ranch we lived at. Some of my favorite things are animals, classic cars, mud-bog racing, and monster trucks. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, feeding wild birds, or watching Jane Austen movies, COPS, Bachelor/Bachelorette, or Castle.


  1. Debra, thank you for sharing what has to be a difficult topic. When we received my husband's diagnosis of malignant melanoma we knew what we were looking at. Sure, it's survivable if it's caught early, but we knew how long the spot had been growing. I knew then that the most important thing was to spend as much quality time as I could with him and our children. He's doing natural remedies and taking one day at a time and he seems to be doing great. I'm back to writing but mostly while he's at work or asleep. I don't get huge word counts, but I do what I can. I don't want to get burned out.

  2. Hi Debra:

    I think that what you have described is a life induced existential burnout. I would expect the same thing would have happened if you were in any other career which put the same kind of demands on your time and energy.

    I believe all professions experience members who suffer burnout. These are career specific burnouts. The rest of their lives could be going fine and often is. But they don’t believe in their calling any longer. It may not be what they thought it would be. They may see that the future is bleak. They may have experienced enough of the variety the career offers and now everything seems routine. Sometimes this is called ‘middle-age crazy’. It even happens when the man is very successful in his career. The wife wonders why he wants to make a radical change and destroy their ‘wonderful’ comfortable lives.

    I have a heroine in a WIP who is suffering from writer’s burnout. She has written five good romance novels but they don’t bring her the joy she thought they would. Being published does not make her happy. She can’t get excited about seeing her new book’s cover art. She’s about to quit writing when her agent sends her to a mountain cabin for two weeks to finish her current novel. She’s missed three deadlines and this is it. Finish the book or quit.

    The hero is a burned out Special Forces Captain who feels he should have made Major years ago. He wants to be a country music writer. He has seen too much of war. He is mistakenly offered the same cabin to find himself.

    Life is not bad for these people per se; they just can’t stand doing their jobs any longer. Can they revive their careers or will they enter different careers with a new burst of energy?

    I only mention this because I’ve been concentrating on career burnout. The solution to a career burnout can be very simple: change careers. The solution to a general life situation burnout, sometimes called depression, is much more challenging and requires a great deal more understanding. You seem to be well on your way to a more rewarding life. I wish you well and look forward to reading more of your books.


    P.S. I hope this counts as a comment and a chance to win a book. : )

  3. Deb, thanks for sharing your heart and welcome back to Seekerville.

  4. Thank you Debra for sharing what you've been going through. That in itself can aid the healing process and also help someone else who is going through something similar just as you were helped.

    I have a WIP where my heroine is returning home leaving a successful music career behind due to burnout that is stealing her health from her.

    Would love to be entered for your book.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  5. Debra, I fully understand what you are saying. Im sorry for the loses which would be so hard. I know what its like to lose your mother mine passed away less than a year ago and while I had the time to grieve I am finding coming up to a year I seem to be lot more emotional and little things bring memories. To not have the time to grieve at the time would make it so much harder.
    While you have writers burnout I think I have readers burnout. ever since I ended up in hospital, then mum passed away and then injured my wrist reading has slowed. In fact in the past 2 months I have read one and a half books. While I want to read at the same time I just dont want to read. I love the book I am reading but I cant seem to settle to read.
    I have taken all pressure off by not requesting books and know that I will again get back into reading (yesterday in the sun it helped) today we are back to wet winter.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Debra, thank you for sharing from your heart today. Your words resonated with me and so many others I'm sure.

    Sometimes life hits us too fast or too slow and we think we're expected to deliver 24/7/365...

    We forget to breathe.

    Life's curves and bends in the road are part of what make us writers. We turn them. We twist them. We invent new endings from sad circumstance, but we have no power to do that in life.

    God bless you for sharing! And despite my ongoing feast of SALAD!!!! :)

    I'm bringing homemade cinnamon rolls to the table this morning. And Starbucks coffee to offer to all of us not standing in line at this moment (according to Julie Hilton Steele) outside the NOT OPEN Starbucks in the Atlanta hotel hosting RWA's convention.

    Not open????

    NOT OPEN YET?????

    Oh, this New Yorker would be pacing the floor.


  7. Jenny Blake, you know what I think????

    Jenny cringes and tries to hide, but Ruthy doesn't let up!!!

    Jenny Blake, you beautiful woman, I think you're having a whole new experience at LIVING... and choices you didn't have before... that reading about things isn't quite as comforting!!!!

    I find this delightfully refreshing for you!

    How's your weather, Toots????

  8. Vince, baby!!!! I love the reflective conflict of your story.

    Not just love it as in I'm saying this to make you feel good, because clearly I'm not that nice and we both know it...

    But saying LOVE IT!!!! in big, bold type because that's a ploy that tends to get underused, and it's such a naturally organic story line that it totally works.

    I'm doing that for my next book of this current contract, the Kirkwood Lake book due out next summer? June/July, maybe? Not sure.

    Both protags had fathers who were bad cops. Tarnished the badge. Very separate results and choices... But now they've come together over problems in Kirkwood and it's a fine line to tiptoe... Making it real without making it bleak.

    Ruthy humor helps.


  9. Ruthy least you didnt use caps and bold!
    I had to go to the clinic today to get my bp checked (meds sent it a bit to high) (oh it was raining) meet a lady who was one of the carers for mum. She said to me that I am looking good much more relaxed and carefree. I had a second one say it. (been a lot noticing a difference lately) makes me wonder what I looked like before. But I know before I had the added pressure of mum and other things. Yes I am now living my own life and its interesting. I enjoy walking now and being fitter and healthier. As the wrist heals I think I will get more into reading! (Patiently awaiting an appointment for the specialist told it could take up to 6 months but with all the prayers going up I am sure it will be less)

    Weather well yesterday was sunny today was wet and rained and did I mention rain but surprisingly mild. Very windy gale force winds we even had a blackout overnight for about 3 hours. going to be wet and chilly the next few days.

  10. Hi DEBRA, I am sorry for your loss. I certainly understand where you are coming from as I experienced the same thing due to same reasons. Also had burnout while teaching but not because of loss. As VINCE mentioned, simply from the stress of the job. The good news is there are solutions. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Jenny, I believe you mentioned RAIN, DARLING.


    Like a gazillion times! Hey, do you wear an outback coat? I have two, gifts from my daughter when she was in Adelaide during college. A short Driza bone and a long one.


    I probably look weird wearing them around, but I'm accustomed to that, right? :)

    They're the best coats ever. Oilcloth... worn at the seams.

    I'm smiling, thinking about them!

  12. No I got a rain coat at Gettysburg so was wearing that although haven't worked out why the hood doesn't have ties on it. The coats you are talking about would be cool too.
    Today the wind was just about blowing the umbrella inside out.
    I was just making sure you knew about the rain actually it did stop after I left the clinic so was able to do what I needed. but more is coming tonight just hope without the thunderstorm that left to losing power. (nothing like looking at the spare clock not realising its on daylight savings time when we are not!)

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Thank you for sharing with us. I went through a divorce recovery program based around the 5 stages of Grief and then became a facilitator myself. I learned you have to go thru the grief, not around it. My writing took a huge hit.

    And in other news i just met Sandra and am getting ready to go to the Seekers workshop. So excited to meet the others !


  15. Debra, good to have you here in Seekerville.

    Thanks for sharing the incredible burden you've been under. Things tend to pile up so slowly, you don't even realize you no longer have the strength to carry them. Bless you for figuring out the problem and understanding the remedy.

    Balance is such a difficult point to reach, much less maintain. Good for you as you take time with family and friends and indulge in the important things in life.

  16. Marilyn!!! If you have a camera, send me pics to

    I'd love to see them!

    And if you get pics of Seekers so I can make fun of Mary!!! Better yet!!


  17. And thanks for pointing out editors and agents can be kind and understanding, too!!

  18. Seekerville Workshop is Officially Beginning!!!!

    Waving from upstate New York!

  19. Thank you so much for sharing this, Debra. I know you've provided me with lots to think about. I think this crazy 21st century society really contributes to this burnout problem and the ability to find a balance in our lives. I'll be praying that you continue to find healing and comfort in all aspects of your life.

    Please don't enter me in the draw as I have The Unintended Groom. Loved that book!

  20. Maybe...I never thought of that. I know Mom is still working through her grief of loosing Dad. Although that's been over 20 years ago, she didn't have the time then, and I think it takes longer when you're older. And I lost 3 aunts, and then almost lost Mom all within a year... Life is getting better as now I volunteer at the hospital. Great post! Enjoyed the coffee and cinnamon rolls and conversation. Yes, please put my name in the hat or cat/dog dish or whatever you use!

  21. Coming in on the heels of Ruthy's request. Praying for our Seeker sisters and friends hosting the RWA workshop RIGHT NOW!

    I know Missy, Debby, Mary, Myra, and Janet

  22. Debra - I'm so sorry about your many consecutive losses. One at a time is difficult enough, but when they come one right after another and you have a contract deadline or a day job or family responsibilities (or ALL of the above) to fulfill, that's beyond difficult. Grief isn't a one-time thing you "get over" in a day, then move on. Thank you for sharing that with us and reminding us how important it is to stop and smell the roses each and every day.

  23. Debra,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure many can relate on so many levels. Glad you are finding joy again in the little pleasures in life.

    Praying for the Seeker gals giving the workshop and wishing I was there. Looks like they are having so much fun!

    Please enter my name in the draw.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  24. Debra, what a deep subject. I popped over to the comments to mention the RWA workshop before I even read a word of your post or the comments. And, my first thought from seeing the care put into some of the comments, was..."Hmmm, today's post must be deep." :)

    In this run-run world we live in, this scenario is all too common in all walks of life.

    But I think the reason it hits writers even harder is that most of us work toward publication in our free time for years and years, all while working a full-time paying job, raising kids, running a household, and in some cases helping with elder care.

    I'm right alongside you with burrowing deeper into my "work" and not spending time with family and friends until it's too late.

    When I quit (one of) my day jobs in November to work from home full-time at my other (three) jobs, I told my mother that we would get together once a week. I think I was a bit too optimistic. Keep in mind that when you live in a rural area, "doing lunch" is an all day affair. We finally made a date to go shopping and out to eat about a month ago.


    Must call Mama and make a date.

    In my defense, though, my mother spends 6-8 weeks a year in her motor home, goes to her quilting group on Thursdays, her other craft group on Tuesdays, and with my stepfather to church socials on Saturdays.

    It's a little difficult to get on her dance card...

  25. Vince mentioned "middle-age crazy". Around here, we always called that phenomenon a "mid-life crisis".

  26. Debra, thank you so much for sharing! As authors and people we tend to think we can 'push through the pain' and then, eventually, we just hit a wall.

  27. Jenny, I go through stages like that. Then I'll find a great book and all the joy and excitement of a wonderful story sets me off again.

    Your joy in reading will return! :)

  28. Debra, I so appreciate your honesty. It's difficult enough to lose someone w/out the regret wondering what you could've done different.

    Quick version--My mil moved in w/us in April after going through chemo for lung cancer, then I received a full request on a ms in June, and she passed away July 1. I'm sure I don't have to fill in the blanks of the frustrations and guilt wondering if I did a good job taking care of my dying mil.

    Trying to get back on top of the writing.

  29. I'm dying over here!!!

    Ruthy from NY wears an Australian Outback raincoat....

    Jenny from Australia wears a raincoat from Gettysburg, PA....


    People are funny. Or maybe it's just Ruthy and Jenny....

  30. I didn't get photos but others did and sent them to Tina. They gave a great workshop! And I so enjoyed meeting Seekers and Villagers alike.


  31. Pass some of those cinnamon rolls.

    Not to put a damper on the food, but I have NO milk this morning. Bought a gallon and it was spoiled. Not fun. The store will exchange it, but it's 10 miles away. I'm not driving 20 miles just for a gallon of milk. Although I was sorely tempted.

  32. Pam, we buy 3 gallons of milk a week (or more), hubby left them in the van all night long. It was very sad to dump three gallons of milk on the ground. :( I can't live without milk!!! Obviously since I'm the one that drinks the majority of the 3 gallons. When I'm gone, the rest of the family almost goes through 1 in a week.

    Anyway, big sympathy extended for you on the milk situation. :)

  33. Oh, Pam, ick!!!! I don't drink much milk, spoiled milk is ewwwwww!

    I'm loving all the photos Mary Curry and JH Steele are posting on FB. They are having way too much fun.;) One of the special interest groups I belong to puts on an online conference for its members during RWA for those who don't get to go. It's fun. I put it together one year and taught a few workshops. I think it's good for those who can't go to the 'big' conference. We even had pitches.

  34. Oh, DEB, I am so very sorry for all your losses, but PRAISE GOD we have a God who sees us through and even makes good come from tragedies such as you have experienced in the last few years. The realization that family and friends (and God) are more important than writing and contracts and sales is HUGE, so YAY that God takes the time to show us that through our sorrows.

    Writers are SUCH emotional creatures (at least I know you and I are!!), so when our emotions are beat up, we are bled dry and unable to emote onto paper. I am glad God is bringing you through and rekindling your love of writing because He has gifted you with a true talent, my friend.


  35. How did the Workshop Go!

    With all these smart phones you’d think we could have had a live audio feed on Seekerville.

    How about next year?

    Expand the workshop to a worldwide audience.

    I want to give a workshop!

    When do the Seekerville Night Classes Begin?

    Learning is the fuel that feeds the fires of inspiration – keep learning or the fires may flicker and go out.

    PAM: About ‘mid-life crisis’-- I read “Passages” years ago and decided to put off my ‘mid-life crisis’ until I could afford a Porsche. I told my wife to look out, I still have that card to play.


  36. Thank you everyone for stopping by. I have a couple of time pressing things this morning, but I will be back here ASAP to respond to your wonderful comments. God bless you all!

  37. Debra, what a timely post to remind us of the valleys we go through between the hilltops. I'm from a large family and they're all gone except for my husband, daughter and 3 grandchildren. When someone we love dies, it leaves a hole in our hearts that takes time to heal and it sounds like you're healing. Your future writing will resonate more deeply because of this.

    Jenny, I know what you mean about readers burnout. I used to read at least two books a week. I have six books on my kindle I haven't started. Don't know why.

    Vince, are all your WIPs about writers? Just curious.

  38. You have my sympathies upon the death of your mother. My father died last month and I am now at the RWA Conference. I think the conference is a blessing to me because I was editing in my Dad's hospital room and he told me how proud he was of my writing career. So for me this conference is a blessing, but I think you have the perfect perspective about taking time to grieve.

  39. Thanks for coming to Seekerville again, Debra! We all face difficult times that steal away our joy not only for writing but our everyday lives. So glad for all my friends in Seekerville and your love and encouragement!!

    And so nice to see so many of you at our RWA workshop this morning. We are delighted with how well it went!! You are all a blessing to us!

  40. Wow, I'm so excited. This has nothing to do with my post today, but I have to share. Hope it's okay. *smiling* My book FOREWARNED is on ENT today. Here's the link:
    You can also go to the ENT Facebook page, find FOREWARNED and LIKE, COMMENT, and SHARE.
    FOREWARNED IS ONLY 99 CENTS!!! Get your copy. Tell a friend. Thanks for letting me share!!

    Now, on to responding to your posts.

  41. Christina, it sure was a difficult topic.What you're doing is more important than anything...spending time with those you love. I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's illness. Will continue to pray for him.

  42. Vince, when you finish your book, I would love to read it. And thank you for your wonderful, enlightening post. It really blessed me.

  43. Thank you, Tina, for having me. It's always so much fun here. And the people are always SO awesome!!

  44. Cindy W, seems like there's a lot of burnout going on. In stories and in life. *g*

  45. Jenny Blake, I'm SO sorry for your loss. It's is super hard to lose one's mother. As for not reading, tell yourself it's okay. It really helps. Like you said, you're taking the pressure off and that's so important. Thank you for stopping by, Jenny. It's always nice seeing you around. *smiling*

  46. It might be just me and Jenny... but I love my outback coats.

    Very "Man From Snowy River" friendly!!!

    I heard the panel went VERY WELL!!!!!

    No one threw tomatoes, so that's good.

    No one got carried out of the room, and I do believe Melanie Dickerson could tell us more about that when Mary Connealy mentored her at an ACFW conference....

    So we are a little more careful about who we let Mary hang with, just a precaution, you understand.


    Mary made fun of me in the workshop.

    I was not there to defend myself

    Which only would have made it more fun! You go, girl!

    Deb, we lost three men in my husband's family last summer/fall. In four months time 3 brothers died and it was like a passing of a torch that wasn't quite ready to be received yet.

    Rough time. L-O-N-G winter.

    So I hear you.

  47. Vince, Night classes begin in winter of 2014, so about 5 months out.

    I'm doing February, a month-long series about developing stories within a series arc, the whole "double bridge" or "double rainbow" blog I did last year.

    Series sell well and it'll be so much fun to chat about how to tie things in together.

    Of course if you come and make fun of me, that will only make the class more fun for all!!!!

  48. Ruth, you are too funny. How spoiled we are with instant everything and things being open at all hours of the day, eh? hehehe

    And I am defintely learning to stop and breathe. Feels awesome! And life is good again!!!

    Have fun at the RWA!

  49. Sandra Leesmith, you are welcome, and thank you for your condolences. Sorry to hear that you, too, experienced a burnout in teaching. Stress has a way of doing that. About 15 years ago, I went through a spiritual burnout. I would say that that was thee worst burnout of all.

  50. Nice to see you here, Debra. Thank you for sharing your discovery and the sorrow and regret felt when you took time to acknowledge those losses. I rejoice with you that your joy in living has returned. Congratulations on Forwarned being on ENT. And thank you to Christina and others who spoke of their present situations and course of action. This fast paced and uncertain world can sap nearly all of our resources.
    Happy to hear the workshop at RWA was such a success.

  51. Marilyn, you are so right about having to go through it and not around it. My sister lost her husband six month's later after my mom died, and of all days, he died on Mother's Day. My sister constantly apologize when any emotion showed up. I tried to constantly reassured her that it was okay to talk about him and to cry, but she would catch it right away and stop.

  52. Thank you, Audra, it's great being here. Always is. *smiling* It's amazing how fast things really do pile up without our ever knowing it.

  53. Kav, you're welcome. Thank you for your prayers. I welcome them with gratitude. You are so right. Everything is rush, rush, rush and we forget to take the time to for those we love until it's too late sometimes. My hope is that people will read this post and not make the same mistake I have.

  54. Marianne, my heart goes out to your mom. 20 years, that's a long time to grieve, poor thing. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your three aunts. It's always hard losing loved ones.

  55. Debra, thank you for sharing from your heart.

    A hard blow can sometimes stop us in our tracks for a while. It sounds like you are going to be okay. You have probably helped others who are struggling with the grief of loss, with this wonderful post.

    My husband died in 2006 and my mother one year later to the day. It's very hard to carry on. I was learning to play golf with the new clubs my husband had given me for Christmas, and having a great time. I haven't hit a ball since, and probably never will again. It's not the same anymore.
    Take tender care of yourself.

  56. Glynna, thank you for your condolence. That was my goal, to remind people of how important it is to spend time with those we love. Roses are lovely this time of the year. *smiling*

  57. Susan, I sure am. It's amazing how much more of the little things I'm noticing these days. And things that used to frustrate me, no longer do. I'm also trying to watch my mouth and be careful of what I say. I don't want to wish I wouldn't have said that.

  58. RWA--Hi from ATLANTA!!!!
    I'm in a session right now and clearly behaving badly to be commenting on Seekerville at this moment.


  59. Hi Mary:

    If I were teaching that class, I would ask you a question right in the middle of your text. Of course, a pantser always has an answer. : )


  60. MARY, not at all, you're a talented multi-tasker who can focus on more than one thing.
    I can put a good construction on anything...
    Kathy Bailey
    Wishing I were at RWA

  61. DEBRA, thank you for sharing. We really need to keep perspective, and to accept the "seasons" of our writing. I wish I could have one more hour with my father and one more hour with my mother On This Earth. I've been going through old pictures lately for my Web site and clearing out my father's estate, and I am filled with longing. I wish they could see what my daughters have become and what I've become, and I wish they could have lived long enough to see me published. Thank you for your very deep sharing.
    Kathy Bailey

  62. Hi Debra:

    Thanks for the head’s up. I just downloaded Forewarned. The blurb is very well written. The dangers of online dating and not taking friends advice about the dangers are so applicable to today’s world. BTW: I thought ENT had something to do with emergency medical treatment.

    I went to your web page and tried to Like you but I could not find a Like button. I also could not find the friend button so I think we may already be friends. You have a lot of Seeker friends.

    BTW: My book, “Standed in a Cabin with a Romance Writer” ends at the RWA conference when the heroine and the hero’s sister are both up for the same RITA award and he was a CP on both books. (The sister writes Military romances like Debby Giusti) The RWA brings him back from Afghanistan as a surprise to the crowd to announce the winner of the RITA. Before he opens the envelop with the winner’s name on it, he tells the heroine over the PA system that he has a big surprise for her. (He has an engagement ring and is going to ask her to marry him in front of the RWA). She stands up and says, “And I have a big surprise for you”), He has not seen her in eight months – of course, she’s nine months pregnant! The crowd goes insane, she goes into labor, and a Harlequin Medical Romance author, who actually is a midwife, helps her to the hospital.

    In the sister’s SUV, on the way to the hospital, the midwife and the hero discuss battlefield triage. He’s advising her on how to up the conflict and create more sympathetic characters. The heroine is furious and shouts: “Have a got a black moment for you buddy!”

    And there is still a great big surprise ending at the hospital. Who wins the RITA? I’m not sure yet but I might have a Seeker win the RITA if I can’t choose between the heroine and hero’s sister. Who would readers want to win?


    P.S. It’s 55,000 words, I’m half way through the second draft, so it will still be awhile to polished competition. If an editor asked for a complete, I think I could get it done --lickety-split. (I bet you have not seen that phrase in a long time.)

  63. Debra, thank you for a heart-deep discussion. I wonder how much burn-out is due not only to personal situations but the 'information' that buzzes all around us like a pesky mosquito, daring us to ignore it.

    How glorious that you are back on the path where you can delight in life :-)

    Nancy C

  64. Hi Elaine:

    “Characters in a Romance” and “Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer” have writers in them. “The Last Romantic”, “Three of Our Vampires Are Missing”, and “Conversations with the Time Traveler” do not have writers in them. All but the time travel book are meta romances. These are romances that are self-aware that they are romances. Meta-fiction saw its heyday in the ‘80’s but I don’t think it ever came to romance. (Maybe for one book.) All have humor in them. I also have three nonfiction books about writing fiction from a marketing point of view that should be out before any of the fiction.


  65. Debra, this struck a chord with me, especially with things happening like they did for you in such a short time span.

    I hadn't written in a long time and was, in fact, concentrating more on genealogy research, but 2008 and 2009 were very tough years for us. Stress led up to our son's wedding on April 18th, but it was a great wedding and reception, and I looked forward to having an empty nest.

    Then word came down that on Memorial Day my dad fell in his back yard and thought he was okay. (For a man who was a POW in WWII for 3 1/2 years, hearing something that sounded like a loud gunshot shocked him into falling.) Come to find out, he was starting on dementia and my mom was having a tough time taking care of him, which led to her having a heart attack that September. With us in western NY and them in NC, I couldn't get down there to help. Then my husband was let go from his job in early June.

    My mom passed away on my husband's birthday that December, and we went to PA (where my parents had moved in with my sister and brother-in-law) to help with my dad and to help with some decisions.

    Exactly three months later, a wonderful first cousin finally succumbed to a brain tumor she'd been fighting for several years. At one point she had lived with us when I was little (I'm the youngest of 7) and she was another big sister to me.

    Six months and one day later after my mom's death, my dad passed away.

    Two months and a day after my dad died, we had to put our wonderful dog down (I sobbed while my husband stayed with him--it's sad, but I cried harder for the dog than I did for my dad...).

    A few months later--around mid-November--we received word that a man was asking about our dad. Come to find out, he is our half-brother who is only 6 months older than I am.

    There are other things thrown in there, too, including my husband's sister who disowned us in Feb. 2009 (because we were still friends with her long-ago ex-boyfriend), so that has torn apart his family.

    It's as if life came to a standstill for 2 straight years. And I still didn't write, although it had been in my blood since late 1971 and I THOUGHT about it a lot.

    Sorry, did NOT mean to ramble, honestly! It's just that certain things trigger the memories and everything rushes back...

    Would love to have my name tossed into the hat (?) for a copy of your book! Thank you. :)

    Melanie the Wordy One ;-)

  66. Pam, I think it's different when loved ones are busy and enjoying life. My mom was alone and lonely. She couldn't see well and couldn't drive. She sat at home a lot. Thinking about her loneliness, I wish I would have made more of an effort to ease it. I know I can't go back and I'm not doing the I shoulda done thing, only saying it on this post. So, it's more about the quality of time, not the quantity really.

  67. That's soooo true, Sherri. And when we do hit that wall, our emotions splatter all over the place.

  68. pam it could just be Ruthy and me.

    But like Ruthy said i LOVE my gettysburg rain coat (although for the life of me I cant work out why a pretty blue coat has an apricot and no its not salmon or pink its apricot lining). Cant say its overly warm but it is good in the rain if only the hood would stay on no tie on it.

    I enjoy the books I do read just taking my time.

  69. Connie, I think the coulda, shoulda, wishing goes with grieving. I do know I did the best I could at the time. And I'm sure you did too. I know we can't go back and ever change things, so we have to let it go and just think of the good times we had with them. And not neglect those that are with us now. I'm not talking about spending every day with them, again, I'm talking about quality not quantity.

  70. Julie!!!! Hi, my friend! Thanks for stopping by!!! And thank you for your sweet words. And you said a mouthful about us writers being such emotional creatures, and how when our emotions are beat up, we are bled dry and unable to emote onto paper. That described me for sure.

  71. Elaine, thanks for the encouragement about my future writing resonating more deeply because of all this. Blessed my socks off. Now, where did those socks get off to. *g*

  72. I want to live my life without any regrets. I don't want to focus so hard on this, which I want SO BADLY, that I lose everything else in my life. It's a balancing act, but worth it.
    Kathy Bailey

  73. Tanya. When my first book, The Bride Wore Coveralls, came out the first thing my mom said was, "It's kind of small, isn't it?" Talk about burst your bubble. How awesome for you that you have your dad's blessing, basically. I'm so sorry to hear about his passing.

  74. Ruth, how horribe for you to lose 3 brothers in your husband's family in four months time! OMGoodness! That would be super tough!

  75. Pat Davis, You're welcome. Thanks for the congrats on Forewarned being on ENT. I'm so excited about it, and my newest release, The Unintended Groom.

  76. Mary Hicks, you are so welcome. I'm sorry to hear about your losses as well. I can't imagine losing my husband. Can't even let my mind think about that. Even though we know life goes on, it's never the same without them.

  77. Mary Connealy, shame on you! But I'm so glad you did. ~wink wink~

  78. Kathy Bailey, you are so right about keeping our perspective. I love what you said about accepting the "seasons" of our writing. I am going through a different season right now and am loving it. I know what you mean about one more hour with your mother and father. My mom's mom alwasy told my mother, "If I knew my mother was on the other side of the earth, I would crawl through thistles and thorns just to see her again." My mom said she used to think, "Why would she do that?" Then when her mother died, she understood. And now, I do too. My sister and I recently went through some old photos and it was so hard. Made me miss them even more. Thanks for sharing your caring thoughts.

  79. Vince, you're welcome. Thank you for purchasing a copy of FOREWARNED. Hope you enjoy it. hehe Never thought of ENT coming across as a medical term. I do now though. *smiling* It's the ENT site that you like, not my website. But thanks for trying. Not sure if we're friends on FB or not. If we arent, I'd sure like to be. I'll check that out.
    Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer, sounds soooo good. Hope you sell it so I can read it!!!

  80. Thanks for sharing something so deep with us. I have been fortunate not to have gone through such deep loss, but it's good to be forwarned for when/if life piles it on. At the very least I can recognize what's happening sooner and take appropriate steps. Right now I'm having trouble getting the time to write because of my three year old. I'm coming to terms with the realization that I'm not one of those super women who can do everything everythingwell (like Martha Stewart types).*sigh*

  81. Nancy C, you are very welcome. It does make one wonder. Yes, it's pretty awesome being back on track and enjoying life again. Now, when I think of my mom, I cry sometimes, but mostly I remember the good, fun times. And those make me smile.

  82. p.s. please put me in the drawing for your book.

  83. Melanie Pike, my heart goes out to your dad. My dad was in WW11 as well. When we would wake him up, we had to stand back quite a ways because whenever we woke him, he'd come out swinging. Our father's paid a high price for our freedom. OMGoodness, the further I read on in your post, the more I am mortified for you and your loss and all you've been through. Please, please do not apologize. And you were not wordy. Aren't we all here to share? And I understand what you mean about certain things triggering other things. Boy, howdy, do I understand. Thank you for sharing. I appreciated it very much. God bless you and yours.

  84. I forgot to mention, I'm interested in being in th drawing for your book.

  85. Hey Vince

    I hope "Stranded in a Cabin with a Romance Writer" gets published soon. I want to read that one--from a man's POV.

  86. Deb, I just got back over here, and let me say, I love how open you are.

    That honesty seeps through your post and responses.

    I worked with Anna Schmidt on a two-novella Christmas collection for Summerside Press for this year. Anna had recently lost her husband. When we chatted back and forth, it was a glimpse into a reality most of us ignore until we have to face it.

    She's a dear woman, a tell-it-like-it-is gal and I learned a lot from her.

    Loss is tough. What I've noticed as an adult, though, is that I can handle my own crises far better than I can my children's. The loss of babies or pregnancies, loss of a marriage, jobs, etc... I hate being helpless on their behalf and then God smacks me upside the head and says, Hey, Chickie!!! 'Member Me???



    That's right.

    (I'm pretty sure this is in part due to my CONTROLLING PERSONALITY.

    While being endearing, of course!!! :)

  87. Ruthy what you said about loss is so true. I had no idea I would react like I did when mum passed away I actually thought it would be so much easier as she had suffered so much but I was so wrong. Just yesterday I was chatting with a friend who lost her father this yea and she said it was seeing me go through what I did and her thinking I was tough emotionally helped her when she went through the same thing. I never thought I would be so empty and so needing people and climbing walls. It helped me to be able to help others. In my friends case I could say yes its normal not to sleep etc. In saying this out of sadness has come new life in many ways. I am now free to do things I couldn't before. I have found health. I often wonder why I didn't start walking like I am now years ago but I know the reason. I am so glad to have this release. I found I had to walk or get out and I still find I struggle to stay at home at times I need to just get out.

    Debra I think it was you I emailed with at one stage about caring for an elderly Parent (or was it another Debra) I know it was someone.

    Thanks for your comment. I am not worried about not reading what I read I am enjoying. I am just reading when it I feel I want to read. I even said to my dr when telling her what I would love to do as a job (help setting up blogs with graphics etc, help with promoting books and even doing newsletters for authors etc) and I said I love books then said well ok im not reading but I still love books. She knows my reading has gone down and will ask about it at times. I still have a huge passion for books and sharing the news about books that hasn't changed its just the reading part. Considering seeing if I could get some on audio to listen to on walks although I like reading them myself. (I dont watch nearly as much tv etc as before either).

  88. Yes, Jenny, it was me you emailed about taking care of the elderly. Thanks for the reminder. I'd forgotten about that.

  89. I thought it was. Its so good to be able to not so much offer advice but be able to share the experiences with others. Its something unless we have done it or doing it we dont really understand what is involved emotionally etc. Many think they know but they dont fully get it.
    Thats why hearing one of mums carers saying how much more carefree now. I am starting to wonder what I must have looked like before cos many are saying similar things to me.

  90. I lost my Father not that long ago and I just needed time to breathe!! There are days when I can't believe he is gone.

  91. Thanks for sharing with us Debra.

    My mom has been gone for 11 years now, but there are still days I miss her and want to tell her about something that's going on. It saddens me that she and I weren't close and I can't blame it on writing deadlines, as I was not writing then.

    Blessings as you enjoy friends, family, life, and writing again.


  92. Debra, thank you for sharing today and it was excellent. I'm not a writer, but I have always been an avid reader. Lately, things have felt different. You've given me some great things to consider. Your book sounds wonderful. Would love to win. Please enter me in the giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson

  93. Please enter me in the drawing. It looks like a good book. I like historicals.