INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author K.R. Martin

Hello, readers! Today is a great day to introduce you to one of my fellow Clean Reads friends, author K. R. (Karen) Martin. And if you enjoy pirates, history, adventure, romance, a combination thereof…has she got a novel for you! I am so eager to jump into the interview so Karen can speak for herself, that I’ll stop gabbing and get right to it 🙂

Karen, thanks for being on the blog today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

The Pirate Princess is a coming of age story about a princess who yearns to be more than a pretty face. She secretly learns swordsmanship, becoming one of the best, and ready to fight to earn her place as queen of her nation. After a tragic loss, she flees onto a pirate ship, using her skills to fight for her people, and gains her own force of loyal men to help fight to reclaim her throne.

Interesting… I love a girl who can swing her own sword!

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Writing wasn’t something that jumped out at me as a child. I loved reading, but I didn’t realize I could really create stories until college. Like most girls, I wanted to be a ballerina, until I discovered how awesome History was, and then I wanted to be an archaeologist, a la Indiana Jones.

Gotta love the pull of history 🙂 So, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote simple, short stories in high school, but it was really in college when I realized I could write a novel, and that I enjoyed creating these stories and characters.

I know we writers glean insight from reading other authors as much as we learn from craft books. What are you currently reading?

I actually just finished A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White, and it was amazing. Now I have to wait for her third book. lol

And do you have to “set the mood” when you write? Listen to music and what not? I guess I’m wondering what kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I actually like to watch something when I write. I tend to gravitate towards movies that are similar to what I’m writing, such as lots of Pirates of the Caribbean, some classic pirate tales, and I love the romances in fairy tales, so those tend to sneak in to my ‘watch’ list.

I do a little bit of that too, but I’m more drawn toward music to set the tone for me.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I definitely write better at night when the sun’s down (and also when my kids are down lol). I usually set up in a comfortable chair with my tablet, put a movie on, grab a hot tea, and sit and write for a couple of hours.

Sounds nice. I’m in that club too (“when my kids are down”).

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Currently, I’m trying to finish the sequel to this book, and it’s been fun continuing these characters’ journeys.

Something to look forward to. Thanks again for answering my questions and for sharing about your work and process. I am eager to introduce my readers to your novel, so I won’t ramble much longer…

The Pirate Princess

Raised to marry a king, Renee’s greatest desire is to be a true queen. So, while other girls learned the art of embroidery, Renee perfected her skills with a sword. She was prepared to earn the respect of her future husband, but a chance encounter with a handsome stranger awakens her heart to the possibility of love.

… a girl must become a pirate.

When tragedy strikes, Renee flees, right onto a pirate ship! Surprising herself, she offers to join their crew. Happy to finally put her swordsmanship to use, she fights injustice on the seas, but when her kingdom is threatened, can she give up the safety and happiness for an uncertain future? Or can she finally become the leader, the princess, her people need?

Enjoy an Excerpt

No sooner had she turned, but Renee faced an oncoming rush of villains. Metal rang through the room as the blows were blocked. Renee’s eyes grew wide as a large man singled her out, his sword swung above his head. She parried, her sword vibrating with the force of his blow. Judging by the sounds that raged above, this battle was just as fierce. The cramped quarters made it difficult to fight well, and Renee began to feel her strength wane. She was beginning to lose her nerve as well; this man was far better than most she had fought, and for the first time since she joined the Qilin, she felt real fear.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

K.R. (Karen) Martin has always loved stories, whether reading or writing them. Her passion for stories led her to a BA in History with a minor in English. She’s unapologetically a princess at heart, even if she loves a good rapier as much as a formal gown. Deeply romantic, she loves that she gets to live with her own prince charming, and her best friend, in Texas along with their cat and two children.

Connect with Karen and her works

Website: http://espanrose.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/krmartinauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/espanrose

Email: espanrose@gmail.com

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Danielle Doolittle

Welcome, readers! I have another Clean Reads author for you to meet: Danielle Doolittle. AND…congratulations are in order as today is her 10th Wedding Anniversary as well! CONGRATULATIONS, Danielle and hubby!! Hope your day is filled with wonderful things 🙂

I’d love to gab some more about the greatness that is Clean Reads, but if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you already know it. And I am eager for you to learn more about Danielle and her books (both of which are only $0.99 right now!!!! So, let’s jump right in…

Oh, Danielle is also offering a GIVEAWAY (details below)!!! So, be sure to enter!

Thanks for being with us today, Danielle. It’s always nice to have another Clean Reads author on the blog. First, can you share a little about your inspiration for Royal Pain?

Prince Harry was 100% behind Royal Pain. Seriously. I wrote this book when Harry was getting himself into all kinds of trouble *cough* the Vegas incident *cough* and I really wanted to know what would happen if a royal was forced to turn his partying ways around and maybe find love along the way. Thus, Prince Henry took on a life of his own.

What about for Regret?

For Regret I was looking for something to read and just couldn’t find anything that interested me. I really wanted something that pulled in some history with myths and theism, plus kissing because almost all good books have kissing. I wanted something that was adventurous, with a strong female lead who didn’t have to play the damsel in distress. At the time I couldn’t find it, so I decided to write it!

Interesting. I like strong female leads who aren’t damsels in distress!

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

A singer songwriter! I had notebooks full of lyrics I just knew were going to be hits. They weren’t. Ever.

🙂 I was supposed to be a famous pianist at one point. Oh well, we move on, don’t we?

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been a storyteller, but I really started to take it seriously in college. It wasn’t until my later 20’s that I took the risk and finished my first full length manuscript.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize writers love what we do, but there are parts of that we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

REVISIONS! I know they’re necessary but I always, always, always find a way to ADD words instead of slim down in this phase.

Isn’t that the truth! I always want to go deeper…when I should be cutting…c’est la vie

I always “set the mood” for my writing sessions. Music is a big part of that for me. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

It depends on the story and where I’m at in the storyline itself. I tend to pick a genre based on the feel of the book. For Royal Pain I listened to a lot of indie folk music, for Regret it was a mix between early 2000s pop punk (read: basically the music of my soul in high school) and rock music. Each of my books has their own black moment anthem.

Fun. Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Because I have four kids I tend to write at night after they’ve gone to bed. This way I don’t get distracted and can wear one hat at a time so to speak. I usually write at my desk in the corner of my living room with my ear buds in and Spotify on my current book mix.

You are speaking my language. It is so difficult to write with the kiddos around, isn’t it?

How long does it take you to write a book?

It really depends! I wrote Regret in a month, Royal Pain took me about two. I’ve been working on their sequels for AGES! I blame the new baby. He’s cute, he can handle it.

LOL! It does seem to go in ebbs and flows…and, I agree, life is mostly to blame for that!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

ALL THE SEQUELS! I have Henry’s Royal big brother, Alexi’s story started (it’s super fun I promise!) and Pen and Kane from Regret are getting another book!

It’s a lot of work there, but I’m sure you’ll get it done 🙂

Thanks again, Danielle, for being on the blog today and for offering a GIVEAWAY! I look forward to reading more about your books (below). So, I’ll stop yapping and let my readers get to the goodies!

Royal Pain

Prince Henry Fitzgerald’s life has taken a drastic turn. The once high flying playboy finds himself grounded and forced into rehab after one too many wild nights. Changing his ways wasn’t in the cards, a fact he makes loud and clear during treatment. But when he faces off with feisty horse trainer, Carleigh Philips, Henry starts thinking he’s not as far gone as everyone-including himself-thought.

Carleigh Philips has had her fill of arrogant, too good looking to be true men. Since discovering her ex in bed with another woman she’s contented herself with training the horses on her family’s ranch turned rehabilitation center. But when Prince Henry comes storming into her life she can’t ignore him, even if half the time he makes her want to scream, she learns that some men are worth taking a risk on.

When a series of accidents add up to foul play, Henry must set aside his fear of failure and act quickly to save the woman who made him believe he could be a better man.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“What is wrong with you?” Carleigh hissed as soon as she was sure they were out of earshot of everyone else.

“ I don’t believe I know what you mean. “

Don’t play games with me, Henry. You’re shaking like a leaf. You’re sweating. Your color sucks, and I bet you’re burning up. They stopped walking once they reached the living room. Carleigh folded her arms over her chest, hoping to convey how serious she really was.

What are we wagering?

Henry looked down at her in mock superiority. Carleigh would have been offended, but she recognized that his flirting was just a defense mechanism. Well, it wasn’t going to work on her. She stepped closer to him, hoping to push her point. If he was going to try intimidation, two could play at that game.

Listen here. I’m sure you’re used to everyone around you breaking under that condescending glare you’re trying desperately to hold on to, but it’s not going to work around here. It sure isn’t going to work on me. You need to look past your overinflated ego and realize all those people who you think are just trying to ruin your good time are genuinely concerned for you and only wish to help.

Carleigh hadn’t realized she’d been inching toward Henry until her finger poked the solid wall of his chest, emphasizing her last few words with sharp little jabs to his sternum. She had to crane her neck to maintain eye contact, but she wasn’t going to let his size — no matter how impressive — intimidate her into backing down. The man was going to hurt himself if he kept insisting he was perfectly fine. Carleigh pushed aside the prick of pain caused by thoughts of him injured or seriously ill. Now wasn’t the time. She wasn’t sure there would ever be a time for that.

“Are you genuinely concerned for me, Carleigh?” Henry asked after a long beat of silence.

“Yes, you big dummy, or I wouldn’t be standing in my living room, screaming at you.”

Carleigh didn’t see him move. One second he was standing in front of her with his arms relaxed at his sides, and the next she found herself in those arms, the hand she’d been poking him with now flat upon his muscular chest. She told herself it was the shock of his swift movements that made her unable to back away as she watched his mouth descend upon hers. Surely, her eyes closed in panic, not longing, as he gently brushed his lips across hers. Once, twice, his full lips teased hers with the barest touch before deepening the kiss, and Carleigh began to drown. She wasn’t sure the moan that filled the room was hers or his, as strong arms pulled her closer into his embrace.

Buy Link

Amazon

Regret

Life in a small town had its perks. Knuckle-dragging jocks, obsidian-eyed hunks, and creepy growly things in dark caves don’t exactly make Penelope Green’s top ten list (well, except for the hunk part).Either way, life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.

Since her family moved to Martha’s Vineyard, Penelope’s enjoyed comfort of the insular community. When a new family makes the island their home, her world gets turned upside down. She comes face to face with her past, the truth of her birth parents’ deaths, and the secret heritage that makes her so much more that a typical teenager. Not to mention the moody, broad-shouldered Kane Whitmore.

Learning she is a Guardian with a special talent for manipulating energy to heal isn’t the hardest pill to swallow for Penelope. It’s the dreams—both frightening and heart-wrenching—that nearly bring her to her knees.

As each dream returns more of her memories to her, she is both frightened and thrilled at the possibilities that open up before her, one of them a very real future with the man who’s loved her most of her life. When the vengeance of madman bring everything crashing down, Penelope is faced with the very real possibility of losing the very person who’s come to mean more to her than anything…even her own survival.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I was fifty feet from the house when something grabbed my hair and pulled. Hard. I fell to the ground with a resounding thud and looked up into searing red eyes. The monster looking back at me looked nothing like the man he once was. His skin stretched tightly across the bones of his face, and those red eyes were slightly sunken into his skull. He reminded me of the photos of the emaciated victims of famine I had seen in a history class once.

Still holding me by the hair, he circled around and sat on my chest. My arms were trapped at my sides by his knees. Under his weight I could barely breathe, let alone wiggle free. I was trapped, and he knew it, judging by the smile that bloomed across his haunting face. He squeezed his thighs, proving to me how strong he was and struggling would be useless. Putrid spit ran down from the corner of his mouth like he had forgotten how to swallow, or maybe he was just really hungry. He bared his sharp, shark-like teeth and gave a self-gratified growl. Okay, hungry then.

Thisss was much easssier than we were led to believe,” he hissed to himself, blowing fetid breath in my face. “He won’t mind if I have a little tasssste.”

He ran a sharp-nailed finger down the side of my throat like he was deciding the best place to sink in his teeth. I nearly gagged at the thought of his mouth any closer to me. I knew what would happen if he managed to get his mouth that close. I wasn’t ready to be anyone’s snack. I pushed at his shoulders, tried kicking my legs, doing anything to try to fight back.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Danielle Doolittle has always had a knack for storytelling. When she completed her first work of fiction at age six about a bunny and particularly juicy carrot she was hooked. Years later, she’s spinning tales of first loves, awkward moments, and the occasional creature that goes bump in the night. She lives in the wilds of a Northwest Ohio college town with her husband and four small children where she consumes above average amounts of coffee and dark chocolate and spends way too much time on Twitter.

Connect with Danielle and her books

Twitter: @elledoo
Instagram: elledoolittle

GIVEAWAY

Danielle is offering one ebook copy of each of her Clean Reads titles: Royal Pain and Regret. The winner will be selected by Rafflecopter (below) which will run until MONDAY. For those of you unfamiliar with Rafflecopter, use the arrows underneath the ebook and title to get to the other giveaway (there are 2 giveaways – one for each ebook):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ADHD/AUTISM: Are we making any progress!?!?

I think one of the hardest things about living with ADHD/Autism is this very issue: ARE WE MAKING ANY PROGRESS!?!?

First, I think I should share a few things about my kids:

  • My son who is autistic is high-functioning. If they still had the Asperger’s diagnosis, he would fit in that classification most likely. And our pediatrician was very hopeful that with the right therapies, he would “lose his diagnosis during his elementary years. How does an autist “lose their diagnosis” you ask? Well, they don’t truly. He will always be autistic. His mind will always work differently (not a bad thing, I love how his mind works). But he will (with work), lose his qualification for services.
  • This same son who is on the spectrum also has ADHD, but not severely.
  • My daughter who has ADHD is a severe case. Her behaviors indicative of this condition are very apparent and rather difficult for her and us to manage even with medication from time to time.

“Mountain Top” Seasons and “Valley” Seasons

I use the word season here because I mean a period of time. Sometime it’s a couple of days, sometimes it can be a couple of weeks. But it’s rarely shorter. But there seems to be this pattern with my sweet kiddos and their behavior challenges.

I like the mountain/valley illustration for this because it definitely feels like an up and down kind of thing. And it feels almost cyclical, to the point its even routine. Can anyone relate?

Some days it seems we are on the “mountain top” – everything is going well, everything seems to be clicking, and we’re on the “home stretch”. Then other seasons are definitely of the “valley” type  where we struggle, struggle a lot, and struggle hard.

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

There are definitely times in our progress that it feels this way (2 steps forward and 1 step back). Let me first say that the successes with both Autism and ADHD are HUGE! They are worthwhile and they are AMAZING! Because you work and fight so hard for progress. You really have to celebrate those victories because there are definitely times when they are few and far between. But it does happen that we take a huge leap forward (ergo “two steps”) in one area, only to have a set back in another. This can be very frustrating, as you can imagine.

Say my son who is autistic is showing signs of becoming more interested in others socially. Like, he goes up to a stranger at the doctor’s office (in the “Well Waiting Room” of course 🙂 ) and starts a conversation with no prompting. That’s a win. Then we get home and he screams about and refuses to eat one peanut butter cracker or let us make him any milkshake he wants (because that’s the only protein he will eat) even though this is a hump we’ve “overcome” two weeks ago.

These things do make you think: ARE WE MAKING ANY PROGRESS? Is there an end result? Will we ever get there?

The answer to the first two questions is a resounding YES!

Are we making any progress? Early on, when my son was diagnosed, the 100 DAY KIT (the packet given to every family when a member is diagnosed with Autism) encouraged us to film his progress from the time he started therapy and on so we could look back and see the progress. We did some of that…but when we are discouraged, we do think back to when he was first diagnosed, to 6 months ago even and the struggles we were having. And we do see the progress. We think about the struggles my daughter had last year in school and where she is now. And we celebrate it.

Is there an end result? There will be. But how we define it says a lot about my kids and their ability to meet that goal. And it says even more about us as parents. Will we let our kids be who they are and love/accept them as they are? Or are we constantly looking for the next month, the next year and what that will bring? This applies to parents of all kids. Are you content with your crawler? Or are you eager for them to start walking? Do you enjoy the cuddling phase for what it is? Or can you just not stand it you’re longing for the day when they won’t need you so much? It will come. And you can’t go back. I don’t say this to mom guilt anyone. I just say this to gently remind you to enjoy and accept where you are right now. To remind myself just as much to love my kids where they are in their challenges today. No matter how challenging it is. While it’s okay to not love the challenges, to be careful not to wish this time away.

Unfortunately, the answer to the last question – Will we ever get there? – I believe the answer is NO. At least, I hope not. I hope we will all, in our own way, (my kiddos included) continue to grow, learn, and challenge ourselves (whatever that looks like) until we come to life’s end.

So, my question for you is…what is your biggest victory to date? What is your biggest challenge currently?

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Amy Anguish

Hello, all! Here I am again with a new author for you to meet: Amy Anguish. This is an author I have connected with through the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) through the local chapter. Not only is ACFW an (actually) international organization with wonderful opportunities to network through their genre groups and online classes and critique groups, there are local chapters in which you can get to know writers in your area face-to-face. This is a chance to form relationships that allow you to encourage and sharpen each other on a more personal level. I just love it!

At any rate, that is how I have come in contact with Amy. And I am excited to have her on my blog to tell us about her book, An Unexpected Legacy.

Welcome to my blog, Amy! Thanks for joining me. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

I wrote it during Nanowrimo 2011. When I started, all I knew was that they were going to meet at a smoothie shop, and they were going to have a family history that would cause conflict. I started writing anyway. As I continued adding words, the story sort of took off and finished writing itself. My husband actually laughed at me towards the end as I shook my hand at my computer screen, and said, “Just quit angsting already and finish the story!”

My characters are bad about that, too. It’s one of the fun things about “pantsing” (writing by the seat of your pants). So, did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I actually wanted to be a baby-sitter when I was little. As I grew, that changed to artist and then graphic artist. But after one semester of being an art major in college, I switched to English and never looked back.

I can totally relate. I think that I hit a Babysitters Club phase. But whatever book I was into, that’s what I wanted to be 🙂 When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I had an English teacher in the 8th grade who I loved. I discovered that she was an author, and ended up taking a Creative Writing class with her. When I discovered that I could create my own stories instead of just reading what other people wrote, it became a new goal for me. I would actually write stories in my head while falling asleep at night… and sometimes still do.

Nice! It’s that imagination that leads us to write, isn’t it? But that’s the fun part…it’s not all fun. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing!

I hear that all the time. I  tend to have modes…writing mode and editing mode. I will say, though, that “editing mode” is not my favorite.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Because I’m a mom of two littles, I usually write during naptime. I have a comfy brown chair that is big enough I can sit cross-legged. It also rocks. Perfect for curling up with my laptop.

I get that. My three are just past that phase. I still write primarily during the sleeping hours, but two of mine are in school now. It makes things much, much easier.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Most of my stories have been written in 30 days during Nanowrimo. If I don’t try to do them that way, it takes me several months.

Nanowrimo is amazing and challenging! I think it’s fabulous you have done it multiple times. I have only written 2 books that way. I’m a newbie to Nanowrimo.

Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

My book is not only about my main characters, Jessica and Chad. It’s also about their family history, and has a little mystery to figure out.

Interesting…I love a good mystery. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I have a handful of other manuscripts that need to be edited and I have started slowly working my way through them. Now that I’m published and am getting a taste of how neat it is to have people read and enjoy my story, it’s addicting and I can’t wait to get another one into your hands!

I look forward to hearing more from you 🙂 But, let me first, give you, my readers, a taste of what Amy’s book has to offer:

An Unexpected Legacy

 

Smoothies brought them together, but would the past tear them apart?

When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it’s like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond. Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“You look really familiar,” a deep voice said as she returned to the top of the page for the third time in a row.

The eyes she had admired from several feet away were even more gorgeous up close, not just one shade of blue, but layer upon layer that sparkled like a sapphire. “Wh … what?”

“I said you look familiar.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Have we met?”

“I don’t think so.” She made an obvious attempt at reading her novel, despite the fact that she hadn’t turned a page in the last ten minutes.

He pulled the chair around in front of her and straddled it. “You’re sure?”

She slowly moved her book to just below her line of sight. “I can’t remember ever meeting you before.”

“Chad Manning.” He held out his hand.

She studied his outstretched fingers, long and inviting. Finally, lowering her book, she shook his hand. “Jessica Garcia.” Yes. Those fingers were warm and appealing.

“It’s nice to meet you, Jessica.” He held on for just a moment longer than necessary … and she found she couldn’t complain.

A cough from the other table drew her attention. She was suddenly aware that his friends were all quietly watching their exchange. He followed her gaze over his shoulder and they all motioned for him to come back.

“Guess I’ll have to hope you come here a lot so I can bump into you again.” He slowly rose from his chair.

“I do,” she replied before she could stop herself.

He grinned and tipped his cup toward her. “Then so will I.” With that, he moseyed back over to the other table.

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

More about the Author

Amy Anguish grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a cat or two. Amy graduated with a degree in English from Freed-Hardeman University and hopes in all her creative endeavors to glorify God, but especially in her writing. She wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

Connect with Amy and her books

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/amyanguishauthor/

Website: http://abitofanguish.weebly.com

ADHD/AUTISM: Our story

So, last week, I shared about my son’s diagnosis with high-functioning autism at 2 years old. That’s not the end of the story BY FAR. I would say that last week was more about that diagnosis and a bit of our story. But today, let me give you a wider view of my story with both autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder).

AUDREY AND ADHD

My sweet Audrey, my daughter was always high energy. From the time she was little. We always said she had two speeds: on and off. And when she was on, she was full on. She was only truly off when she “crashed” at night. It was almost as if she was driven by a motor. There was certainly something fueling her. (If only we could harness such energy, right?) We mentioned it to her pediatrician when she was probably three, but no doctor worth their salt will worry with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD that early. It’s just too soon to tell.

Enter the school years. It’s still a little early to diagnose such a condition, but her situation was severe. She’d had problems in her PreK program sitting still and focusing. But we wrote it off to her high energy. Once she had a Kindergarten teacher that communicated well with us, we began to see the marked difference between her and her peers. More than that, the teacher said “she really wants to follow directions and comply, she just can’t seem to make herself”. So, we went back to her pediatrician. And started the process of diagnosis.

In the end, between the doctor and a psychologist, we wound up with ADHD. And the road of medication. We were not excited about it. But we went over the pros and cons, discussed the severity of her situation, and did what any parent can do in any situation: we made the best decision we could with the information we had.

It took three years and three different medications before we found the right one at the right dose.

ANDREW

Meanwhile, our Andrew has graduated from occupational, speech, and developmental therapy and started school. He is ongoing in ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy in the home and at school.

And we run into the same issue. Focusing problems. We’d heard it all before.

But we’re chalking it up to the autism.

Back to the pediatrician.

The co-morbidity (two things occurring at the same time) of ADHD and another condition is apparently not as uncommon as I would have thought. The doctor was certain it was ADHD. Back through the diagnostic process. The diagnosis stood.

Medication for him too.

What does all this mean in real life?

Well, it creates some challenges with our routine.

The autism piece means that we thrive in routine.

The ADHD piece means we have to be aware of the medication, the time, and eating patterns.

My ADHD kids are built like dad was at that age, on the thinner side, so we gotta make sure they get plenty of calories. So, if they don’t like what I fix for dinner, we can’t do this “well, this is what we’re having”. Nope, we have to give them another option. When they needed a bedtime snack, I was doing veggies or fruit. “Not a chance,” the doctor said. “Ice cream, cookies, the works.” The DOCTOR says this.

Homework must be done right after school while there is still some of their medication in their system and they can focus. But we must have a regimented bedtime routine to help them prepare for sleep as their meds can make sleep difficult. (It is not uncommon for autistic individuals to struggle with insomnia anyway.)

Discipline becomes a new ballgame. One that is a minefield. We have the regular discipline challenges, but we have the added worry of “is this something he/she can control?”. When dinnertime comes, for example, my daughter doesn’t have the self control or the ability to stay still that she otherwise would have or that other kids would have. So, I don’t set the same expectations on her to stay in her seat, for example. She is better now that she’s older. But it doesn’t feel fair to me to punish her for something she has limited control over. It’s paramount to punishing her because her hair is blonde, in my mind. At the same time, I want to help her learn appropriate behavior… Why, oh, why, don’t they come with manuals??

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Hannah R. Conway

Welcome, friends! I have a special treat for you today. I have author Hannah R. Conway on my blog today. She is a bestselling author, for one. Beyond that, she is a writing mentor (mine, in fact) and is very knowledgable in the craft of writing. She is also a phenomenal speaker. I can’t say enough good things about her! But I’ll let you meet her yourselves:

History Doesn’t Have to Repeat Itself

I’m so excited to be Sara’s blog & give away an eCopy of my latest novel, Up in Smoke! Enter to win at the end of this blog post!

Again, I’m super excited to be here. Sara is a dear friend, and talented historical fiction author.

I must say, though I write contemporary romance with elements of suspense and with military themes, I truly have a love for historical fiction. History in general brings a smile to my face, so much that I hold a degree in History, and even teach World History. So, anytime I get a chance to plot and shoot ideas back and forth with Sara, I’m all ears. The way she weaves history and fiction—beautiful!

Somewhere not so deep within me, lives a historical fiction story. One day y’all I will write it!

One of the things I love, and hate, about history is how it repeats itself. Historically speaking, we as a society forgo the lessons of our ancestors and doom ourselves to repeat their mistakes. Teaching history allows me to see those patterns, explore them, and discuss with my students ways we can prevent similar outcomes today, or in the future.

While it’s easy for me to cast a stone at our ancestors, and even present day folks for ridiculous repetitive destructive behavior while waving a pointed finger shouting “haven’t you learned anything?” I’m not innocent.

Countless times I’ve made the same mistake…sometimes knowingly. Ugh. Sad truth.

While writing my latest novel, “Up in Smoke”, my main character, Leanna Wilson, has a history of repeating her past mistakes too. Guess she and I have something in common. At a tender age, Leanna’s heart was broken by her first love, and the betrayal of her best friend. When Leanna’s life gets tough, she runs and puts her hope in people and things that do not fulfill, nor satisfy. This becomes a cycle in her life—history repeating itself.

As I continued to write Leanna’s story, I found myself identifying with her more. She and I both had a problem of letting the wrong history in our lives repeat.

How do we solve this problem?

Huff. Sigh. Groan.

And then it hit me. Wisdom. Wisdom only from God. He has to teach us the way, show us what needs to change in our lives, and create the change in us.

Isaiah 1:17 tells us to learn to do what is right.

How do we learn? By reading what God has to say in the Bible, and doing what it says. Eventually, the history repeating in our lives will be the right kind, the kind that lead to life, peace, and joy.

It seems Leanna and I have had to endure many self-repeating history mistakes, but it also seems like she and I at least now know how to get out of that cycle.

Let’s pray that we all will allow God to teach us the way, and the right kind of history to repeat.

Thank you for those words, Hannah. And for being here. Let me snag you for a few questions.

First, what motivated you to start writing novels?

This deep, deep desire; like, if I didn’t write, I would explode! Truly, I’ve enjoyed creating stories from a very young age, I simply needed to live a little before putting anything permanent down.

What a neat thought on that “live a little before putting anything permanent down”. I like that.

What author would you most like to meet?

Just one? I’d have to say Tosca Lee. Her stories pull me in, keep my up way past my bedtime, and leave me salivating for the next novel. Fan-girling a bit over here!

I know what you mean. I have a couple of those authors on my list 🙂

Where do you see yourself with your writing 5 years from now?

You know, I have a few goals regarding my writing career. I plan to write one book and one novella each year. Within five years I plan to write full-time for a living—say goodbye to the classroom, and increase my speaking platform. Lofty? No way.

I say that’s totally a manageable goal. And I believe in you!

Up in Smoke

Life heats up for Leanna Wilson when an accident claims her parent’s lives. Her dreams of a high profile law career are reduced to rubble when she returns home to assume custody of her sister, Brie. Without the financial means to take legal custody of her sister—or a binding will to place her safely in her arms—Leanna’s future becomes more uncertain than ever. Already prepared for a blazing custody battle, with less than capable relatives, Leanna’s world is set ablaze when her ex-fiancé complicates matters in an attempt to destroy her future and her faith.

US Army, SSG Garrison Burke has spent the last few years alone—balancing flag and fatherhood since the tragic death of his wife. Facing deployment, Garrison is desperate to find a safe caretaker for his son, Ezra—preferably anywhere but the abusive home he grew up in. So, when Leanna Wilson walks unexpectedly back into his life, he’s not sure if she’s a blessing or a curse. More importantly, Garrison cannot seem to forget how he betrayed Leanna many years ago. Yet, as Leanna and Garrison begin to run out of time, they start to see that the solution to their problems might lie within each other, but will they forget the past and allow their broken hearts to mend? As sparks begin to fly and their love is rekindled, a marriage of convenience will either make their wildest dreams come true or cause their best-laid plans to go up in smoke.

Buy Link

Amazon

More about Hannah

Hannah Conway is a military wife, mother of two, middle school teacher, and speaker. Her novels are a deployment experience of their own, threaded with faith, and filled with twists and turns sure to thrill, and encourage. Hannah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and My book Therapy. She and her family live near Nashville, Tennessee.

Connect with Hannah & her books

www.hannahrconway.com

Giveaway

I (Sara) am so excited to tell you about this giveaway. She is offering one (1) ebook copy of her newest release Up in Smoke. Hannah’s book has been well received and well reviewed (including by yours truly). You can earn entries through the Rafflecopter below. Just follow the instructions!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AUTISM: The Diagnosis

***When our son, Andrew, was first diagnosed, we started a blog (that we didn’t keep up with very well) called “Andrew’s Journey”. This is the first entry in that blog (edited for this post’s purposes).***

Andrew at 2

It seems like a lifetime ago that our pediatrician said to us that there was a possibility our sweet 2 year old, Andrew, might be autistic. It seemed unreal and I didn’t want to believe it was possible, so I just didn’t. But we agreed to have him tested to ease our doctor’s mind. What was the harm?

The first evaluation was with the Tennessee Early Intervention Services (TEIS). They nailed down his developmental delay and speech delay, but didn’t see anything that pointed to autism. We’re golden. (Sigh of relief.)

A couple of months later, received an unexpected call from the Vanderbilt Children’s Development Center. Apparently, Andrew was on their wait list to be tested by their psychologist. Okay, so this is the autism evaluation. Hold breath again. After solving a little hiccup with insurance (aren’t those fun?), we prepared ourselves for the 4 hour evaluation.

The test itself was pretty comprehensive. They asked me a LOT of questions and played with Andrew in both structured and freeform activities. There was no doubt in my mind they would confirm TEIS’s findings of some developmental delays and a speech delay.

I miss that ignorance.

After all was said and done, the diagnosis was “Autism Spectrum Disorder”.  No one was more shocked than I.  I mean, I knew he had some challenges, but nothing I had read in my (admittedly limited) research on signs of autism seemed to fit my little Andrew.

So right there, in front of the evaluating team members, I started to cry. And cry and cry and cry. I didn’t stop crying for an hour. I cried when I told my husband on the phone while Andrew and I made our way home. I cried when I told my parents. I cried as I looked at my sweet boy in the back seat who had, in my opinion, been given a life sentence.

Over the next few days, my husband and I grieved. We grieved the life we had hoped for Andrew and the inability to use the word “perfect” in the same sentence with “Andrew”. And I was angry with God and the choice He had made for my son. So angry that, even a week and a half later, I couldn’t bring myself to pray.

In the next week, Greg and I dove into the information Vanderbilt had provided us (they sent me home with a packet). And, the more we read, the more overwhelmed we became. There seemed to be two questions pop up for every one answered. But neither of us wanted to trust the internet.

I knew Andrew was (and is) the same boy he was before the diagnosis, that we now simply have a name for what he’s struggling with. It just takes a little while for that realization to travel from my head to my heart. And my husband and I have both struggled with the inability to call him “our perfect little boy” anymore.

Once I was able to get my head above water, I started sharing with my closest friends. The amount of love, support, and sympathy we received was so touching. One of my dear, sweet friends and sisters in Christ shared a truth with me that has really been a turning point for me in my own journey to process the diagnosis. After she extended her sympathies and assured me we were in her thoughts and prayers, she then said, “Praise Jesus that Andrew was fearfully and wonderfully made. And while this diagnosis is a shock to you all, it is not a shock to the One Who formed him in your womb.”

At first I thought it was odd that we should praise Him at all, but my heart softened to this truth and I began to see light in the midst of my grief. Andrew is fearfully and wonderfully made. God promises this. God formed him in my womb. And for whatever reason, this was always His plan for us and for Andrew. The truth is that He will lead us and equip us on this uncertain road with all of it’s ups and downs, twists and turns. Even more than that, I can begin to say that Andrew is perfect…because God made him and he is a miracle.

***

The blog article went on to share our intentions for the blog.

But, I want to share with each of you that this road has been hard, it’s been sweet, it’s been trying…it’s been everything it promised to be and more. And Andrew is just 6! But the victories have been tear jerkers. The first time he spontaneously said, “Mommy, I love you”, I had to bite my lip to keep from bawling in front of him. And those months when he would self-harm were heart wrenching as you can imagine.

No, it’s not easy. It’s not fun. But it is his journey. Our journey.