Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Library Thing

If you are a member of Library Thing, you can keep up with me over there as well:

Heather Houston Library Thing Profile

Leap Day

I was reading a Facebook posting about a stay at home mom raising four children.  She is homeschooling them and the youngest has autism.  Apparently, her sister-in-law sent a package to her house which contained gifts for all of her children, except the one with autism.  When her husband called to ask his sister if she forget to include the gift to their little one, the sister replied, "No, I didn't send one.  They have autism.  They aren't going to know they didn't get one."  To say I was disgusted was an understatement.

The author of the Facebook page asked for people to write a blurb so that they could send it to this 'sister' to show her how incredibly hurtful it is for her to have done.  I wrote a blurb.

My little boy is going to be three years old in two weeks.  I am terrified to have a party for him, for people to come over and give him presents.  Christmas was so terribly hard on him it broke my heart.   You see my little boy has autism (and some heavy duty sensory problems), so sometimes it is so much it takes me weeks to decompress him from the ‘noise’ that invades his head.  

He knows everything.  He can sense it.  I can see it in his face.  His heart is so big and so loving that I am utterly devastated when he is treated differently by my family and people in town.  He is too loud (he doesn’t talk, so he makes noises), he doesn’t like to play like other kids, he doesn’t eat food like a ‘normal little boy’, and the list goes on of things I hear.    I tried to make excuses for them, they just didn’t understand but I refuse to.  I refuse to allow their intolerance and ignorance hurt my little boy’s heart and soul.

I am so incredibly proud of my baby.  I am his biggest fan and cheerleader.  And I will never allow someone’s ignorance or stupid behavior to hurt him because they don’t hear the music that he moves to.

HH, mother of a boy with autism

My little boy's birthday is coming up.  I don't know what to do about it.  He did not handle Christmas well at all.  It was simply too much for him.  My mother asked me about it the other day and I can't seem to get her to understand all of the problems that come with something like this.

I don't know, I still don't know how do handle it.

I am sending a children's story to a friend of mine who does illustration (he is amazing).  I want to see what he does with it.  I think it would make for a really wonderful children's book.  I would want someone to read my Wyatt books like this.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Oscars

Tonight I watched the Oscars.

I know, it's silly but I just love them.  for one night it's pretty and vibrant.  I am transported there to watch and be amazed.  I love the gowns and the set up.

I LOVED the Cirque du Soleil's performance in the show.  It was so wonderful to just watch.

The tribute to those the academy had lost in the past year was beautiful.  I think that song they use (What a Wonderful World) brings tears to my eyes when I hear it.

I was not shocked about which movies or actors won.  I was proud that many who actually deserved it won and not just 'the names'.

I enjoyed watching the shock on Meryl Streep's face when she won.

I loved Sandra Bullock's gown.

I smile seeing the men growing older and more distinguished with time.

For one night, I let go of the things I cannot change and slip into the fantasy of what if with everyone watching.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Separate Vacations: Link to a blog on separate vacations for families with an autistic child

I was linked to this posting by a friend of mine on Facebook.

I think this absolutely speaks to the different world that parents of a child with autism live in.

The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: Separate Vacations

YouTube Video: Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of "Eat, Pray, Love"

I found this video incredibly moving and inspiring.  I think it is important for any writer to watch this video and really soak in what she is saying - what she is trying to get us to understand.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jennifer Ashley - Author

Jennifer Ashley is a NYT best-selling author.  She has several books written under Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James (pen name), and Ashley Gardner (pen name).

I looked to see if she had a presence on Facebook because I fell in love with her Shifters Unbound series.  Ms. Ashley has a personal Facebook profile simply listed under her name ( and a Facebook page listed under her name and one of her pen names (

Her list of friends on her profile is almost at the 5000 mark that Facebook has imposed as their limit for profiles.  She roughly has 2,700 'likes' on her page.

Sometimes the information that she posts on the profile is not posted on the page and vice versa.  Ms. Ashley is very active on both her profile and her page.  She is accessible to her fans and always more than willing to answer questions about her books, her series, when new material is coming out and if drop dates are being changed.

But she does something else, something that keeps me coming back to her pages and something that will keep me as a fan for life:  she allows us to see into her life.  When she is sick - she tells us, when her day goes to the dogs - she tells us, when she is elated over something - she tells us.  She understands not only the need for her to continue writing but the desire of her fans to 'know' her, to relate to her on a personal level, and to feel as if they matter to her.

She offers ARCs (advanced reader copies) to her fans in the forms of contests.  (I was the winner of an ARC before Christmas to the newest Shifters Unbound novel and I was over the moon when I received it.)  She hosts contests for previous books, she lowers the cost of her nook books at times to give those her support her in the electronic forms to also feel appreciated.

At times I feel bad for her trying to make sure that she keeps up on her Facebook presence and write her books.  But I don't think she would be the author (woman and friend) that she is without bringing her fans along for the ride in her Facebook profile and page.


NOTE:  I have Ms. Ashley's expression permission to have made this blog entry for a college class assignment.   A copy of the permission is available if there is a need to verify the information.

Personal PS. Thanks Jennifer for understanding.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I have spent most of my life battling my weight.  I have tried diets that have not worked over the years and if much of the literature is correct, did more damage then good by losing weight and then regaining it.

I have been taking the steps and going through the process to have bariatric surgery.  I know that it is the best thing for me to do with my situation.  I wouldn't recommend it for everyone but there are some major benefits to it.

During the process of getting ready for this surgery I found out that I have severe obstructive sleep apnea - essentially I stop breathing A LOT during the night enough where it is extremely dangerous.  I ended up with a CPAP that makes sleeping easier.

However, I have found out recently, my son is afraid of the CPAP mask and when I wear it if he climbs into bed with me in the middle of the night he helps mommy - by taking it off of my face.  Super counter productive.  The program requires that I wear the CPAP a certain percentage of time, because lil man keeps taking it off my face it has skewed my percentage. (insert frowning face)

As part of the getting ready for surgery I had to also have an EKG of my heart.  The tech looks at me yesterday and says, "do you know you have a heart arrhythmia?" Yes, yes I did. We found that out one day while simply listening to my heart in the doctors office.

But the coup de grace of the entire thing:  now we are running blood work for PCOS.  Because MOST of my health problems may in fact be linked to having PCOS.

*forehead - palm - forehead - palm*

I want to stand on top of a large building and scream at the top of my lungs, "You mean to tell me that if we had known that I had PCOS when I was in my 20s then some if not all of what has gone wrong in the last five years health-wise could have been avoided?!?!?"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Fan Reaction to Characters

I just read a blog where a blogger (duh!) wrote about the five fictional female characters they would like to smack up side the head.  In one breath I want to defend my fellow authors (as a writer) but in the next I couldn't agree more with what the blogger and ALL of the commentors to her blog said in response (as a fan).

This worries me as a writer on several levels.  But the one thing that really sticks out to me is:  How do I write characters so that fans fall in love with them but don't end up loathing them?  I copied this next bit (spelling error and all) from a post by a commentor under the blog:

"I think the most disapointing thing about these characters has been the lack of inner growth and wisdom. The authors are being really cookie cutter in dropping the same character into different situations, which can work for about 3 books, but no more."

Umm, damn.

That is the exact reaction that I do NOT want to have from my fans.  Somewhere in the process of writing I believe it is my job to take stock of what the fans are saying.  Do they like the characters, is there an obvious thing to all of them but it seems to be escaping me (it's possible), and at what point if the fans are screaming loud enough and long enough do I make fundamental changes to the characters because the fans are tired of reading about the same mistakes or the same reactions to situations book after book?

I agree with the fans.  Darn it I am tired of my favorite heroine making the same mistakes repeatedly or having something bad happen to her or her friends/family and she allows it to drag her down and KEEP her down.  I want them to change I want them to get up and move forward.  As a fan I am standing there with everyone else yelling at my favorite authors.

THEN..... I remember.

The next time fans are screaming it could be me they are screaming at to change a character.  And there is where I falter.  What if my girl simply isn't ready to grow up yet?  I mean granted she has had a book or two or three to figure things out and she simply doesn't get it.  BUT this is who she is and maybe I have some epiphany set up for her in book 7 as opposed to books 2, 3 and 4.  What if I can hear the fans screaming but I keep saying "You don't get it, she needs to be this way, this is who she is, how can you expect her to react or do anything different then who she is?"

I hope, that when the time comes, and my fans are yelling at me that one of my characters really needs to get their heads out of their behinds I listen.  I have been watching the fan pages for my favorite authors, I have read their blogs and I have read the threads:  the fans are getting tired of certain characters not getting their crap together - and they are WALKING AWAY FROM SERIES BECAUSE OF IT.  I would think as an author there is NOTHING more deadly then to start hearing from fans that they cannot stomach your books anymore not because of plot, slow release, or finding someone new... but because their most beloved character cannot grow and move forward.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Wyatt

My son's name is Wyatt.

From time to time I will write about him because so much of him affects everything about me.

My baby was born 14 weeks early - this means we missed the ENTIRE third trimester.  Men might not know truly what that means but women, especially mothers, will understand instantly the hell I suddenly found myself in.  We spent more time in the hospital then I ever want to remember.  But I do, every single day I do.

I never really knew what we would be facing down the line.  I always made decisions based upon the fact that I wanted to know what the long term effects of drugs were on him that we were using or different machines but I think at some point I was so busy fighting to make sure that everyone (doctors, nurses, therapists) understood that I would FORCE them to do their job to more then the best of their ability I didn't stop and think.

He will be three years old in 34 days.  In 10 days it will make 2 years since we left the hospital.

Now I have to truly look to the future and less to the past.

My little boy has feeding problems, swallowing problems, major sensory issues, global developmental delays, a brain that is only half the size it is supposed to be... and of course the newest diagnosis:

My son has Autism.

I knew he did.  I think if I asked any parents of children with Autism they would tell me the same thing:  they knew, long before the doctors or therapists wanted to confirm it, they KNEW.

I had to fight with the doctors to finally diagnosis it.  They wanted to wait.  Oh they couldn't possibly do it before he was 3 years old.  Oh it could be all of these others things.

I knew.

I blame myself even though 'all the books' tell you not to.  I wonder if I had been able to keep him longer inside if it would have prevented this.  I mean he wasn't done 'baking' just yet.  I will always wonder 'what If'.

I have changed my future goals more before of him.  I have changed my world to make sure that I can be there completely for him because it is just he and I.

Some days are harder then others.  Some days I cry while he naps because I don't know what to do for him.  Other days I just hold him while he squeezes me tight and I whisper into his ear how much I love him.

I am not sure what kind of day today will be but I have hope that I will make it through the day without too many tears.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Research, Research and did I mention Research

Research is the bane of my existence.

With paranormal fiction (fantasy and sci-fi probably as well) there is so much information.  So many books and websites devoted to information used in this type of fiction that I at times get bogged down with it.

I don't want my characters to be half believable.  I don't want someone to be able to point and say "Well didn't you know that Oenomancy is divination by pouring wine on the ground and not by simply looking at it in a glass; geez where did you get your information."   See where I am going with this.

My current work in progress (forever after this point known as WIP) is actually four books which start a series.  due to the nature of the story line I have stick-it notes, index cards, and note books filled with information about the characters, who they know, what they know and the story line.

I am drowning in information and I think that is where I am currently failing.

I have to regroup and decide exactly what must go into those first four books and what needs to be eluded to but not shared in them but shared in the next books in the series.

It is a fine line between not giving enough information and giving away too much of the plot.  I have decided I need to move for not other reason then I need an office with a bigger wall so that I can have more room for my stick notes to be spread out and placed where I need them to be.

I can see the reasoning on a rental application:  "Why did you move from your previous residence? Well I moved because I needed more space so that voices in my head could make sure I understood their story correctly when I plotted it out on the walls."  Somehow I see my application being turned down.