Hey, all! I apologize for the delay in this series. We’ve had sickness, and houseguests, and you name it! But my burden for increasing awareness and understanding of depression and mental illness weighs on my heart (in a good way).
So today, let’s dive into how to recognize if you or a loved one is experiencing a mental illness, such as depression.
Are you just “under the weather”? Tired? Baby blues? Or is it something more? Discerning if your symptoms are actually caused by a mental illness or something else can be more difficult than you’d think sometimes. But it is best to be aware of the common “calling cards” of these disorders so you can pinpoint what’s happening more easily.
Each mental illness has unique makeup, and therefore, different symptoms, but there are some common things that tend to show up:
worry or fear that is excessive
Feeling overly sad or “low”
Problems concentrating and learning or just general confusion
Mood changes that seem extreme, even “highs” that feel somewhat euphoric
Irritability or anger that lasts or is intense
Shutting down and avoiding friends or any social situation
Having a hard time relating to others or even understanding their feelings
Tiredness, low energy, changes in sleep patterns
Increased hunger or a lack of appetite
Noticeable changes in libido
Reality doesn’t quite always seem right – delusions or hallucinations
Lack of insight – doesn’t notice the change in own feelings, behavior, personality
Alcohol or drug abuse
Headaches, stomach aches, other “aches and pains” that persist without a cause
Thoughts of harming self
No longer able to perform daily activities or manage daily problems or stress
Fear of weight gain that is overly intense or uncharacteristic concern with appearance
There are also marked symptoms to look for in children as their behavior is usually more telling. For the most part, children do not know how to verbalize what they are feeling and thinking:
Notable changes in academic or school performance
Fighting or defiant behavior, or excessive worry/anxiety
Increase in bad dreams
Temper tantrums – more numerous than before
If you think you have more of these than you should or you have a couple to a greater degree than is normal, REACH OUT! A trusted friend or supportive spouse is a great start. One of the things about depression and mental illness is that it alters your cognitive filter…you know, that thing that helps you identify thoughts as crazy or not crazy. A good, reliable friend can help be that filter for you in a non-judgmental way. Hear me – YOU are not crazy…you just need a little help.
Your primary care physician (regular doctor) is a good next step. He or she can help with a diagnosis and get you the right kind of help. Being aware of the signs and symptoms above can aid you in this conversation. The diagnosis is the necessary first step as only then can your provider develop a plan for you…tailored to you.
There is NO “one-size-fits-all” treatment for mental illness. But there are, again, common approaches. These include medication, talk therapy (counseling), and possibly life style changes.
The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) HelpLine can assist in finding services and supports in your area as well: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also text NAMI to 741-741 to interact with a crisis specialist.
If you, or someone you care about, needs immediate help…do not delay. Call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
Join me next Wednesday. I’ll be sharing about things I’ve learned in my years living with chronic depression that have helped me along my recovery and kept me stable. Call them tips if you’d like…these are things that helped me and tend to be helpful to others. Maybe a couple will spark for you or your loved one. Again, mental illness is NOT a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing.
I spent some time at a Women’s Retreat this past weekend and was struck by the number of women I ran across who had struggled with, at some point, a depressive disorder. And I thought about our country. The number of depression-related suicides we’ve seen in the last several years, and the sheer amount of those suffering whether in silence or opening up and sharing their struggle.
Has depression become an epidemic?
Well, first, I thought it might be helpful to seek out Webster and find out what “epidemic” actually means.
epidemic – a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time
Yes, usually “epidemic” refers to infectious diseases, but further looking determined that it doesn’t always have to. If a disease or disorder excedes 7.7% of the population, it is considered “epidemic”. But the definition does speak to a sudden upsurgence of instances in a certain area.
Does this fit depression/mood disorders? Is it confined to the U.S.? Has there been rapid growth in the recent years or is there just better testing? More awareness? Less stigma so more willingness to report?
Here are some of the facts:
A study done by Harvard Medical School found that approximately 27.4% of United States adults experience a mood disorder (depression, bipolar depression, or seasonal affective disorder) at some point in their lives. As far as how affected they are, 45% experience “serious impairment”, 40% experience “moderate impairment”, and 15% experience “mild impairment”.
And it’s striking younger and younger, too. A study found that those 18-29 years of age are more likely to experience depression than those over 60. And college students reporting a period of depression in the previous year (those that reported, depression is frequently an under-reported number) were 33% of the women in the student body and 27% of the males. That’s a big number!
The suicide rate for adults has increased 25% since 1999. That’s absolutely crazy!
The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that the level of disability and life lost due to depression will exceed that seen in war, accidents, cancer, stroke, and heart disease by 2030. WHO already sites depression as the #1 cause of illness and disability worldwide.
This is not just epidemic. It’s pandemic!
And just what does “pandemic” mean, you ask?
pandemic – prevalent over a whole country or the world
This is a major issue. Worldwide. And definitely within our country, our states, our communities. Our neighborhoods. Even, dare I say, our spheres of influence – our friends, families, and the people we interact with.
So many lives, hurting, suffering – again, some in silence. And with a problem so big and so wide reaching, the hardest thing about depression (from someone who deals with chronic depression) is how isolating it can be. How alone you feel.
This is a big deal.
Join me next week. I’ll share more about the symptoms of depression, treatments, and some tips (for the one experiencing depression and for the one who sees a loved one struggling in depression).
Psychology Today. Why We Can’t Stop the Depression Epidemic. by Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D
Welcome, readers! I have Author Gail Sattler back on the blog today, sharing with us about another one of her books and talking about some more tidbits. Once again, meeting other authors through the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) genre pages has been amazing for networking and making great connections.
But that is for another time. Let’s get to Gail…
Welcome back to the blog! First, lets start off by getting a feel for this novel. Can you tell us a little about it?
This is not my usual romance novel, this was co-written with my husband, and it’s a supernatural adventure. It was written over the course of about ten years. We would talk about it for a while, then I’d get a contract for another book, so we put it aside and time went on. When my youngest son was in grade twelve I worked the night shift for a year. We would put the dogs in the car, drive our son to school, then take the dogs for a morning walk along the Alouette River, and that’s when we put everything together for Mercury Rising. More time passed, but now it’s finally done, and we’re very happy with the result.
Supernatural romance? I’m intrigued…
What was the inspiration for Mercury Rising?
This is mostly my husband’s plot idea. I’m not even sure how we got started. But once we got started, more and more ideas came, and we couldn’t stop.
I know how that goes! Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?
While I enjoyed writing stories in school, I only wrote one book in my teenage years, and it was filed and never saw the light of day, which is not a bad thing. I wanted to go to university to take music and be a music teacher, but that didn’t happen. I taught piano lessons from my home when my kids were small, and now I’m in 3 bands, but I never did make a career out of it.
That’s pretty cool. THREE bands!?! I can barely keep up with life and writing!
Speaking of which…there’s always something about the writing process every writer doesn’t care so much about. What is it for you? What part of the writing process do you dread?
I don’t really dread any part of it. I always outline, so I know where I’m going with my story at all times. I know the ending before I write the first word, so there is nothing to dread at all while I’m writing. I never dread the edit, as the purpose of the edit is to make the book the best it can be. However, after the writing, editing, proof, and all the final work, comes the marketing. That’s what I dread. When I first started writing, all the writer had to do was write the book. Today, that doesn’t work. Now the writer has to do a lot of marketing and promotion, but all I want to do is just write the books.
Promoter and Writer seem to stem from two totally different personality mixes, don’t they?
At any rate, what are you currently reading?
I’m not going to say the title, but I’m currently reading a book I got for free from Amazon. I actually picked up a few freebies, and sadly, they’re not very good. I’m trying to get a feel for what’s out there, and there is a lot, some good, some not so good, in order to gauge the competition in the marketplace as I move from the standard publishing by a book publisher, to indie publishing, which is promo and marketing by the author.
I understand this is the danger…the minefield of indie publishing. There are great books out there and there are…not as great books.
What about your process? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?
I work full time, plus I’m in 3 bands, so my time is limited. Fortunately my husband is retired and does all the housework and we share the cooking (but he does the dishes). I write mostly evenings when I don’t have band practice, and on weekends. Since we are recent empty nesters, I now have one of the bedrooms in my house turned into an office. Gotta love it.
It does sound like you are quite busy! (My husband does the dishes, too. And we share house duties.)
I am eager to hear, though… Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.
One of my main characters, Ardent, makes small appearances throughout the book, then he comes out in full force near the end. I had to give him a different speech pattern to set him apart. Every time he showed up, I had to somehow use the phrase “do not be afraid” to give the discerning reader a hint of who he really is.
And, lastly, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?
I’ m working on a 6 book series called The Kozlowskis. It starts when Zac Kozlowski’s distressed sister (and her dog), two wayward cousins, and his eccentric aunt (and her cat), all move in with him, and his neighbor, Cara, tries to help, but then gets buried in her own issues. I have no dates, but as I progress, I’ll keep everyone posted on my website on the release dates.
Gail, thank you so much for coming on the blog again today and sharing with us Mercury Rising and giving us more insight into your process. As usual, I promise not to keep you all, but let you get right into the book details:
Michael wants to save his daughter, but first he’s got to save the world. Michael and Charlotte meet when Michael is trying to find Ashley, his missing daughter, who has fallen into drug abuse, and Charlotte is searching for her son Jon, a brilliant and aspiring young scientist who has also gone missing. Ashley and Jon should have nothing in common, but after the murder of Jon’s favorite professor, they become ensnared in a tangled web that becomes worse with every new discovery. When Michael and Charlotte join together to figure what their children have become involved with, they, too, are sucked into a sinkhole for which there are no answers, only more questions. When all seems lost, will they all recognize the source of strength offered to them, and… will they take it?
Enjoy an Excerpt
Michael sat in
the hard wooden chair, numbly staring down into a Styrofoam cup. He’d been told
that cop shows didn’t truly imitate reality, but this police station coffee
really was as bad as the television characters said.
he’d missed Ashley and Binky at the park, since the police hadn’t come to him,
he’d gone to them. But because Ashley was an adult, and because he had no
evidence of abduction or foul play, especially considering her history, they
couldn’t officially consider Ashley a missing person. Instead they’d told him
to go home and wait for her to return, as most people returned within three
days. But first, they wanted more information on Binky, a name they recognized
as a person of interest in a drug trafficking case. He would gladly give them
all communications between Binky and Ashley, except Ashley’s cellphone battery
was nearly dead, so they needed to find a charger to plug it in.
swished the coffee dregs and set the cup on the desk. They would never find
Binky. He’d watched enough cop shows to know that Binky would be using an
untraceable burner phone for his drug deals. This tidbit, he had no doubt, the
cop shows had based on reality.
he waited for the officer to find a charger, Michael watched the action at the
reception counter. He couldn’t hear all the details, but some woman was ranting
about finding her son’s hat at a murder scene.
course they couldn’t tell her anything. It had only been a couple of hours
since it happened, and they still hadn’t finished with the crime scene. Yet
instead of leaving, she continued to argue. If he’d been in a better mood, it
would have been almost comical. The woman was small, not quite as small has his
daughter, but she obviously didn’t let her size stop her. She had dark blonde
hair, but this woman wouldn’t be the subject of any blonde jokes. She laid all
her facts in order, leaning closer to the unfortunate officer at the counter
and narrowing her eyes in those few moments she demanded a response, none of
which apparently met her approval. She actually made the officer cower a few
times, even though at no time did she ever raise her voice. She was by no means
a raving beauty, but he would have called her better than average. Still, when
she spoke, she had the attention of everyone in the near vicinity, including
least watching gave him something to do until the officer who was helping him
came back with a charger compatible with Ashley’s phone. Then they could read
the logs of her texts with Binky, and then he could go home to wait for her.
he looked at his watch. If Ashley did get home and he wasn’t there, he hoped
she would phone him. Of course, he had her cell phone with him, but she could
always use the wall-phone in the kitchen. If she remembered how to use it.
Since the woman wouldn’t leave, they escorted
her inside and offered her a chair next to the desk beside him.
officer gave her the same speech about her son, who was twenty-three, that
they’d given him about Ashley. The officer paused, cleared his throat, and
looked at the woman with the utmost sincerity. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. Since
your son is an adult and you have no real evidence that he’s hurt or in danger,
and no significant amount of time has passed, we don’t have a reason to file a
of calming down, the woman thunked a green ball cap on the desk. “But I
have evidence. The murdered man was his friend. My son was there.”
murdered, Ma’am. And if the hat was indeed at the crime scene, it would have
been inside the yellow tape, and you wouldn’t have had access to pick it
mouth tightened. “It was outside the yellow tape, but it was still there.
At the scene. It was his friend who was murdered. My son is missing, and I know
he was there.”
already interviewed all potential witnesses, and your son’s name is not on the
list. When did you last speak to your son, Ma’am?”
night. But I know he was home this afternoon and he hadn’t been gone long. I
know he went to the crime scene. The news article was on his laptop. I know
officer sighed. “That means he read the article, and went to the crime
scene subsequent to the crime being committed.”
leaned closer to him. “I know that, but I know he went there.” She
poked her finger into the top of the hat, now laying on the desk. “Because
he lost his hat. And now he’s missing.”
sorry, there’s nothing I can do. He’s not a person of interest because we know
he wasn’t at the scene at the time of the incident. While the state of Nevada
has no specific time frame to wait to file a missing persons report, you do
need to have a significant reason to believe that something is wrong. Finding a
hat you believe to be his outside the perimeter of a crime scene can’t be taken
as evidence that something has happened to your son. But I can take some
details, and if he still hasn’t returned after thirty-six hours, and you have
significant reason to believe he’s in trouble or distress, then we can start
looking for him.”
tell me what you’ve found about Sal Fesbane’s murder.”
know I can’t do that, Ma’am.”
watched the two of them stare at each other in silence.
officer sighed, then composed himself, no doubt controlling his frustration.
“I can enter some information and file the report if we determine later
that he really is a missing person.”
officer who had been helping him, in the loosest definition of help,
returned with a compatible charger. They plugged in Ashley’s phone, Michael
flipped to the log for Binky, and handed the officer the phone.
he waited, out of the corner of his eye, he again watched the two beside him.
Going through the same frustration with the system about Ashley, he certainly
could empathize. Still, he didn’t want her to catch him looking at her for fear
she’d start a conversation. He didn’t know her, but he’d hazard a guess that
the woman was ready to blow a gasket. He didn’t want to be the one talking to
her when that happened.
officer typed her son’s personal information into the computer, then rested his
fingers on the keyboard and turned to her. “Do you know who might have
been the last person to see your son, Ma’am?”
started to shake her head, then stopped. “I don’t, but I do know he had an
appointment with a student he was tutoring. He must have phoned to cancel the
appointment. Maybe she knows something. I went straight to the bar because I
was positive that’s where he’d be.”
woman dug through her purse, drew out a cell phone, and swiped. “Yes, he
called someone right at the time I think he left.” She pressed her finger
to the phone, no doubt to redial. At the same time as she held the phone to her
ear, Ashley’s phone rang from the hand of the officer in front of him.
officer held the phone out to Michael. “You might want to answer
Gail Sattler’s first book sold on her 40th birthday, and she hasn’t looked back. Gail now has over 40 novels and novellas, and a few works of non fiction, most still available on Amazon. Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC (Canada, eh!) where you don’t have to shovel rain. A recent empty nester, Gail lives with her husband, 2 dogs, and a guinea pig who isn’t shy about asking for snacks.
On January 3rd, I celebrated a birthday. And it was so hard. I broke down on January 2nd. See, my mom and I had this…well, kind of a little joke about it. I am a midnight baby. I believe my birth certificate states I was born at like 12:02 am or some such. But my mother holds that the doctor did not note the time until they had gone through the normal processes of cleaning and measuring me. She contends that I was actually born on January 2nd.
Of course, I think that means I need a two-day all-about-me celebration. She’d tell me to pick one day and it should be the 2nd. The rest of my family kind of rolls their eyes at this, but my mom got it.
Now no one really does.
See, this April marks 2 years without my mom. It’s still fresh.
Last January 3rd, the first year. My birthday was nice. Really nice. But something was off. All day.
It wasn’t until the end of the day that I connected the dots.
I was waiting for the call from her that wasn’t going to come.
I say all this to share that I’m almost two years after the fact and it’s still fresh. It still hurts.
Some might think…shouldn’t she be over this by now? Or at least more over this?
No. Not at all.
Someone else might be further along in the grieving process, but not me. Not my personality makeup. I’m still somewhere in that process. The grieving process is not cut and dry. It’s different for everyone. Both in the movement through the stages and the duration in each stage and in the process as a whole. To learn more about the stages, I wrote about it here.
The truth is, we grieve deeply because we loved deeply. And, the pain may ease into a smile of nostalgia, but for some the ache will always be there. And that’s okay. My counselor has said to me: “You’ll never get over it, but you will get through it.”
I do think of her fondly and smile at times, but other times, it brings tears. That’s where I am and I’m fine with that. Is that where my siblings are? Not necessarily. And that’s okay, too. Doesn’t mean they loved her more or less. It means they are different people. And their grief process looks different than mine.
My friend found a book of liturgies for me. I’ve never thought myself to be interested in a book of prayers. But this book has moved me to laugh, cry, and brought my heart closer to Jesus. There is one about grieving that I wanted to share:
It comes from “Every Moment Holy” by Douglas Kaine McKelvey. The liturgy I’m pulling from is called “Anniversary of a Loss”:
Let that which broke me upon this day in a past year, now be seen as the beginning of my remaking into a Christ-follower more sympathetic, more compassionate, and more conscious of my frailty and of my daily dependence upon you; as one more invested in the hope of the resurrection of the the body and the return of the King, than ever I had been before.
Let this loss-hollowed day arrive in years to come as the kindling of a fire in my bones, spurring me to seek in this short life that which is eternal. Let the past wound, and the memory of it, push me to be present with you in ways that I was not before.
Do not waste my greatest sorrows, O God, but use them to teach me to live in Your presence–fully alive to pain and joy and sorrow and hope–in the places where my shattering and Your shaping meet.
I struggle with the basic problem that many of you might have: I over-plan and plan to overachieve in my days. My “TO DO” list is a mile long and the perfectionist in me strives to cross off every single thing. You can imagine that this, in and of itself, will lead to mental, emotional, psychological, and, yes, even physical fatigue.
Enter a wiser Sara. After YEARS of counseling, I have learned to greatly reduce the number of things on my “TO DO” list and even be okay….well, mostly okay if I don’t get it all done. So I’m generally sleeping better.
But I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder…that thing where you get gloomy when the daylight hours shrink because of winter solstice? Yeah, sign me up. Less daylight hour potential and on top of that, the clouds are ever present…or so it seems.
To top it off this year, I had gotten a hormone shot to help combat another medical condition. A side effect I didn’t count on? Fatigue.
As you can see…the cards are just, as they say, stacked against me.
It’s more important than ever that I’m managing this fatigue or else I’m liable to spend November through February in bed. And I’m not exaggerating. The fatigue is that real right now.
So where did I get real with combating it? What helped when the rubber met the road?
MY HAPPY LIGHT
Do not discount the effectiveness of a happy light. This is one of those things that is in a box or shaped like a picture frame (mine is) or ipad that you sit in front of up to an hour twice a day (optimum) to get some of that light you are missing in the gloomier seasons.
Some things you should know. They have to be the correct brightness (recommended amount 10,000 lux) to do the trick. This is the one I chose: the Verilux HappyLight Touch.
Was it effective? You bet. I had to start at 15 minutes once a day and work up to 1 hour, twice a day, but I immediately felt I had more energy. And this was easy to fit into my life. I could work on my laptop or read, as long as I was diagonally facing the happy light.
I have shared before how essential oils have been a God-send in my life. And this is another instance where they really packed a punch. The oils, whether diffusing or diluting and rubbing on my skin, seemed to lift that heaviness that I felt. It then seemed more like I had a choice. I wasn’t compelled to sleep/nap/stay in bed. I could choose to get up and be productive. Does that make sense?
The oils I found most effective are (I used Young Living): Valor, Awaken, Brain Power, and En-er-Gee
I know, I know….traditional medicine does not recognize “adrenal fatigue”….they don’t truly recognize adrenal malfunction until you have Addison’s Disease (at which point, your adrenals are pretty well shot). But other practitioners who do take a more integrative approach (practice both eastern and western medicine) know this is real.
How do I know my adrenals were fatigued? I started taking a supplement and I got better. The supplement recommended to me was Licorice Root. I took Metagenics Licorice Plus. It took two days for me to feel better. Two days. I had more energy and I couldn’t believe, overall, that people could feel so good.
WHAT GOES INTO YOUR BODY
Finally, what goes into your body makes a difference. Feeding your body the right types of fuels will keep your metabolism revved and going. Instead of sluggish and fatigued.
You know what I’m going to say. It’s not rocket science. Vegetables, limited fruits, lean proteins, and good carbs. These are the things that will give you energy without weighing you down and tiring you out.
It all makes a difference. Our bodies are a whole system working together and we need to address the whole thing. When one part is “hurting” (like the adrenals) we need to make sure it’s gears are running smoothly again. But other times, it’s about treating the system as a whole (what you eat, using oils, etc.). Things I haven’t talked about that also make a difference are your psychological and emotional health, your spiritual wellbeing, creating white space in your calendar for rest/rejuvenation…all of these are good and right things to do for yourself.
Hey, readers! I have a treat for you today! Author Rachel J. Good is on my blog today sharing about her novels and her process. And is she ever prolific! I met Rachel through the ACFW Romance genre Facebook Page. That has been a wonderful place to make great connections!
Not only is she spending time sharing with us today, she is offering a GIVEAWAY to every reader that visits my blog today. How can we thank her enough? So, I won’t keep you. Let’s dive in, but keep reading to find out more about how to enjoy that giveaway.
Thank you for joining us today, Rachel. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?
After Kyle Miller’s older brother joined the Amish, the two of them became estranged. Bitter and resentful, Kyle is determined to avoid the Amish at all costs. Medical school and a demanding residency fill his lonely hours. The last thing Kyle wants is to return to his hometown and relive the guilt and pain of the past.
But when the family doctor retires and invites Kyle to take over the practice, he can’t refuse. To his dismay, he discovers Dr. Hess not only has many Amish patients, he serves as emergency backup to Leah Stoltzfus, the Amish midwife. Kyle finds his resolve tested as he works with Leah; he’s attracted not only to her but also to her strong faith.
Although the handsome new doctor catches her eye, Leah pays more attention to her work than to this Englischer. As a midwife, she has much to learn and a deep desire to help others. She senses Kyle’s loneliness and welcomes him warmly, but he mistakes her friendliness for interest – an interest she does her best to discourage.
Then late one night, Kyle and Leah struggle to save a mother and baby during a blizzard. The bond between them deepens, and they realize how much they care for each other. But how can they be together when neither of them is willing to sacrifice their beliefs?
What a gripping introduction to the novel! I think I’m already hooked! What was the inspiration for The Amish Midwife’s Secret?
I went to a presentation by the Clinic for Special Children on diseases inherited only by Amish and Mennonite children, and then toured the clinic where we got to see the gene research and hear success stories of babies they’d cured. That touched my heart, and I knew I wanted to include it in one of my novels.
Then while I was in an Amish natural products store, I saw the herbal blend my Amish midwife had me drink before she delivered my sons at home. Suddenly, all the pieces came together. I’d have an Amish midwife whose family owned a natural products store and a doctor who believed only in science and medicine. He’d be angry at God, and she’d be true to her faith. That would lead to sparks between them in many different ways, including romantic ones. Once I had the two main characters and their underlying conflicts and the added complication of a baby with a deadly disease needing to be saved, I couldn’t wait to start writing the story.
Wow! I’m even more intrigued!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I always loved reading, but I never considered writing until I had 5 children under the age of 8. I needed to do something to keep my sanity. I began writing for children’s magazines, then went into educational writing for children before ending up writing inspirational novels.
That is quite the journey. Glad you found your way through to your passion. But we all know it’s got it’s upsides and then there are things we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?
Deadlines. I’m the world’s worst procrastinator, so when the deadline seems far away, I keep busy with many different things. Then suddenly it’s looming, and I wonder if I can possibly write 90,000 words in such a short time. A few times I’ve had to ask for extensions this past year, but part of that was overcommitting to writing 12 novels in a year.
A woman after my own heart! Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?
I think writers need to work on their craft – attending conferences, lectures, and classes as well as reading books. Even after you’ve had multiple books published, I believe you should still keep learning. I now have 40+ books in print under various different pen names, but I have 4 writing books on my bedside table to read.
The most helpful thing I did besides taking classes and reading books was to join a critique group. Having a group of writers who are learning and growing gives you a support system and provides you with valuable feedback. I joined several critique groups, and my writing skills grew as I heard others’ responses and suggestions for my stories. Critiquing other people’s work also helped me improve my writing because I had to analyze why their writing wasn’t working or why it drew me in.
I also found joining professional organizations helped me a lot – SCBWI for my children’s writing, RWA for romance, and ACFW for Christian writing. There are other organizations, too, that are genre-specific. Those are great places to find critique partners, and the conferences and classes are helpful. They also give you opportunities to get your work in front of editors and agents.
One final tip: They say you need to put in 100,000 hours to become good at your craft. I think that holds true in writing too. Keep putting those words on the page and setting aside time for writing. That dedication will pay off.
All sounds like good advice. Thanks! What are you currently reading?
The craft books Verbalize: Bring Stories to Life & Life to Stories and Story Genius by Lisa Cron.
Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?
I prefer to write from 10 pm to 3 am. I can’t always do that because I have a 3-year-old to take care of during the day, but it’s my most creative time. I prefer to write in bed. It’s comfy, and when the house is dark and quiet, I can more easily slip into that almost dreamlike state where writing flows.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends. I’ve written 60,000-word books in 2 or 3 weeks when I’m under deadline. Usually I like to have several months for novels, but often I’ll procrastinate until I have little time left. On the other hand, I have one novel I’ve been working on for 10 years. That one’s not under deadline, so it gets pushed aside.
Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?
I’m always working on more than one novel at time. Right now, I’m busy editing the third book in the Love & Promises series, The Amish Widow’s Rescue. Grace Fisher’s husband dies, leaving her pregnant and with two small children. Her neighbor, Elijah Yoder, offers to do her farm chores. A loner and a bachelor, he keeps his distance from the pretty widow and especially her children. Ever since his childhood family fell apart, he’s been convinced loving leads to heartbreak. Then he saves Grace’s son from drowning, and holding the little one makes him realize how much he needs friendship, and possibly even love. But can he overcome his past hurts and open his heart to a ready-made family?
I just signed a 6-book contract with Kensington, so I’m also busy writing the first book in the Amish Blessings series. In Book 1, His Unexpected Amish Twins, Micah Miller becomes the guardian to seven-year-old twins and struggles to help them with their grief. Hope Graber, the owner of a horse therapy farm, might have the answers and the healing touch, not only for the twins, but also for Micah. But working together may be impossible because she and Micah have so many hidden secrets.
I’m also working on Book 4 in the Sisters & Friends series, Big-City Amish. Rebecca is courting Abner, but when he’s blackmailed into working on a TV series during Rumschpringa (the Amish running-around time), their relationship becomes rocky. Rebecca’s ready to join the church, but Abner is angry at God after his father’s death and mother’s cancer diagnosis. Although Rebecca promises his mom she’ll take care of all her boys –Abner’s four younger brothers and Abner too — Rebecca’s not sure how she can do that when Abner seems enamored of the big city and possible stardom.
Wow! You are busy! Well, I’ll let you get back to it and let my readers dive into The Amish Midwife’s Secret…
The Amish Midwife’s Secret
An Amish midwife and an Englisch doctor must embrace their differences to rescue a baby in need in this uplifting romance that will “capture your heart and leave you smiling” (Amy Lillard).
Kyle Miller never planned on becoming a country doctor. But when he’s offered a medical practice in his sleepy hometown, Kyle knows he must return… and face the painful past he left behind. Except the Amish community isn’t quite ready for Kyle. Especially the pretty midwife who refuses to compromise her traditions with his modern medicine…
The more Leah Stoltzfus works with the handsome Englisch doctor, the more she finds herself caught between the expectations of her family and her own hopes for the future. It will take one surprising revelation and one helpless baby in need of love to show Leah and Kyle that their bond may be greater than their differences… if Leah can find the courage to follow her heart.
Enjoy an Excerpt
Kyle sought Dr. Hess’s eyes before he announced, “Pneumonia.”
Dr. Hess nodded.
“I know.” Leah, who’d been stirring the stinky onion-and-lavender mixture in the pot, motioned for the mother to hold out the nylon bag so she could spoon the mush into it. “That’s why we’re making this poultice.” With a quick motion, she wrapped the nylon in a towel and hurried to the table.
She practically elbowed Kyle out of the way as she reached for the baby. With deft movements, she placed the stinking mixture on the baby’s chest, quickly redressed him, and swaddled him in warm blankets. “This should help.”
“Help?” Kyle’s eyes burned from the sharp stench rising from the infant’s body, and he choked. “That child belongs in a hospital.”
“Hospital?” Leah shot him an incredulous glance. “How could his mamm be with him? She shouldn’t be jolting all that way to the hospital so close to delivery, and who’d care for the children?”
Kyle couldn’t believe his ears. “Children under age two are at the greatest risk—” He broke off when Dr. Hess jiggled his arm. Snapping his mouth shut, Kyle waited for the doctor to speak. This was still Dr. Hess’s case, after all. Just because he’d allowed Kyle to offer a diagnosis, it didn’t mean Kyle should take over.
“I’ll put the baby in the cradle.” Leah looked at the mother, who nodded.
Dr. Hess held out a hand to stop her, and Kyle released a pent-up sigh. The doctor would explain the need for hospitalization. Instead he gestured toward Kyle. “Before you go, Leah, I’d like you to meet my assistant. I’m hoping to convince him to take over my practice.”
Leah ducked her head and mumbled a brief greeting. She refused to meet his eyes, which might be just as well, because his face likely would reveal how upset he was about the home remedy. Pneumonia wasn’t something to fool around with, especially not in infants.
“Kyle, you’ll be working closely with Leah. She’s in training to be a midwife, and she makes many effective herbal remedies.”
Kyle managed to say, “Pleased to meet you,” but he wasn’t sure how true that was.
Dr. Hess might trust Leah’s homemade brews, but when Kyle graduated from medical school, he’d taken an oath promising his patients’ health would always be his foremost consideration. So how could he stand here and let her smear a stinky concoction on a baby’s chest when that child should be taken to the hospital?
He could never allow anyone to harm a baby. Never.
Inspirational author Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging stories of faith, hope, and forgiveness. The author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her novels. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.