Tuesday, August 7

Lost and Finding my Way

            The last few weeks have been pretty tough. Three weeks ago on Wednesday, I lost my beloved little cat, Tangerine. I won't go through all the painful details again, but it was gut-wrenching. He was with us for over ten years, and much loved. If you want to know more, read my tribute to him, two Fridays past.

Tangerine with PK

my book

Then, about a week ago, my 2nd publisher, Ruby Lioness Press, sent an abrupt email that they were shutting their doors. No reason, no explanation of any kind. Just it's over. Sayanara. Adios. My sales weren't exactly through the roof, but A Cowboy to Keep was only up for two months. I didn't feel like it had time to grow, build a following of any kind, or sell. I'm trying to resell it, but not having a lot of luck. I'm pretty upset by the whole debacle because I feel that my other publisher probably would have taken it. Now they won't because it's been published. I'm still working on it, but not having a lot of luck. I love this book. It's one of my favorites. I hate that it might be dead on arrival.

Flash in the foreground

My dad pastures my horses in the summer months. It's cooler up country, and he has more feed than I do. Yesterday, my dad called with the said news my little horse, Flash, died in the night.
He was old, 31. He seemed to be in good health. He just laid down and died. If I had to lose him, this is the way I'd wish him to go. But my heart is heavy. It'll hurt to look out in the corral and not see his wild mane that never would lay right. He had one blue eye, which made him always look playful... and he was. He could get out of any fence known to man. He only stayed in if he wanted to. Two of my nephews rode him during their 4-H years, and won ribbons, trophies and buckles by the trunk load on him. I'll miss him.

So, how to cope with all this grief? I struggle with depression. It's a black hole, always waiting to suck me in and swallow me whole. I have to fight it with everything I've got. Sometimes are easier than others. Writing helps. I write suspense, and sometimes the stories get dark. If I'm not careful, they can get really grim. I'm working on a piece where the heroine has suffered the greatest loss. I don't know if it'll ever see publication. I don't know if I want it to. But right now, it's helping a little.

Anyone out there know how to get back into the light? I'm listening.


  1. D'Ann I'm so sorry for you losses and though it my sound light I will say to please focus on your blessings and all that you do have. Those that love you and your new publisher. With the door that closed another may open and maybe you can self pub it in the future. You have already shown your talent so please go forward with that and try and not get stuck in that hole. It will only hold you back from what wonderful things lie ahead for you.

  2. Sometimes after the long spiral into darkness you have to lay there and catch your breath. Call it coping, Grieving, rebelling, whatever, but it does seem to help. Just don't forget You aren't the darkness.

  3. I'm sorry to hear you're going through all this. That's a lot on your plate at the same time! I, too, have mild depression, so I know, to a degree, what you are going through. I also had a book at a small press that went under even before it opened its doors (guess they hadn't thought through all of the start up costs). It's not the same, because the book was never published, but I still know that punch in the gut when you think a book will finally see the light, and then it doesn't. You could always self-pub it. That way most of the profits go directly to you and not to someone else's pocket. Just a thought....

    I also have a cat, Serena, and I can't imagine what it would be like to lose her. And then, on top of it all, your wonderful horse, who holds so many memories for you. I find the best way to deal with loss(like when my father passed a few years back) is to think about how blessed you were to even have them in your life in the first place. Some people will never know the love of a cat, due to allergies or whatever, but you got to have Tangerine, and she sounds like a very special cat, too. Try to focus on that, if you can.

    Good luck with sorting through it all and know that your Crimson sisters are here if you need a shoulder to cry on.

  4. Love, you have sooo many exciting things coming your way, let them wash away your sadness. Crimson is going to be a fun adventure, and people will soon learn your name and it will be easier to find homes for your works in the future.

    I know what it's like to lose loved ones. I had my cats from when I was five, to 22. When I started living on my own when I was 17, they were all I had to keep me company on lonely nights. They were my best friends. It was gutwrenching when they both passed. They both passed away within a couple weeks of eachother. I know this is because they were so close to eachother. In addition, I also had a horse that I'd grown up with, a one-of-a- kind friend. Sadly, he died tragically. You're lucky your passed so peacefully. The best thing we can do is keep them alive through pictures and even in our books.

    And don't forget you have the crimson ladies to cheer you up. If you're not already my friend on facebook, do add me. I'm a riot! I promise I can always make you smile with my nuttyness or be there for you when you need a good cry.

  5. D'Ann, I'm so sorry to hear about your losses. It's not been a good summer for you. But if you believe that bad news comes in threes, then you're do for some good. I read your book and liked it a lot. Take it and self-publish it. Concentrate on building your author following. Do you get to keep the cover art?

  6. I just saw a post on Facebook that really made me think. The gist of it was that sometimes you have to fall in order to succeed. The closing of Ruby Lionness was a setback, but there are bigger and better things out there for you.

    As for Tangerine and Flash, all I can say is that I'm so sorry for your loss. The grief may never go away but it will ease.

    Hang in there, D'Ann. Know that you have a ton of people here for you!

  7. I'm having a rough summer too, and worried that I won't see "the light" again, or quite so brightly! We also lost our cat companion in June, after 12 years, and it's difficult not to replay those awful 2 days at the end . . . my heart goes out to you at the loss of TWO loved pets!

    Then I had a second bout of diverticulitis, and there's a possibility of surgery -- which might be better than going through the awful pain again. And 3 weeks on antibiotics was no picnic.

    I could go on, but that wouldn't be helpful to you! The one thing I know is that I have struggled in the past and found my feet again. Just keep going until you do, and let others give you the love and support you need!

  8. D'Ann, life is a crazy roller coaster, full of ups and downs, happiness and sadness. We all go through these. We all get down. We all have to swim through he muck in order to see the sun again.

    Losing beloved pets is so hard. I've been through it and the pain never goes away, but you do learn to cope. And the way I look at it is, you gave both Tangerine and Flash an awesome home. They were loved and well cared for. You made their life great! There are so many animals that are in terrible homes...but I don't want to get into that.

    As for RLP shutting their doors and the way they did it-with no explanation, well I do think you're better off. I know you don't want to go the self pub route with A Cowboy to Keep, but don't rule that option out. Try to find another home for it. But if you can't, either set it aside or try self publishing. There are always choices we can make.

  9. Dear D'Ann: I am so very sorry. Words really can't help, but as writers we understand that this, along with a cyber hug, is our only offering.

    As you may not know, I'm the author of a book on grief and loss that's won bundles of awards. It's called "What to Do When a Loved One Dies: A practical and compassionate guide to dealing with death on life's terms." Your library should have it or be able to get a copy. I've seen some used ones on Amazon too.

    There's a specific chapter there about the deaths of our precious animal companions and that special grief we feel, honestly, often more deeply than when humans we know "move to heaven," as a friend likes to say.

    There's a cowboy poet who's also a vet, Baxter Black (maybe??) and he writes that he's certain when he gets to heaven all of animal friends are going t be there to greet him.

    As a Christian and a huge lover of animals, I know this to be true.

    Vaya con Dios.

    Eva Shaw

  10. Aw, friend, I'm so sorry for everything you're going through right now. I'm going to echo some of the earlier comments - hold on to the light. You're books are doing great with your new publisher, you have another new release out soon, you've got Wes back home...hold on to those good things, revel in them and celebrate them. It won't change the bad, but it can help with the coping.

  11. Oh D'Ann my heart weeps for you. I wish there was a way to hold you in a hug and share your tears. May God heal your ache. ANd may you find a way to get your book back on the market. HUGS from cyber space, your friend through writing.

  12. I don't know that there is any thing I can say to help you find the light. With friends and family who are depressed, I have found my words to less than useless in most instances. All I can offer you is the way I handle negative feelings and thoughts: keeping busy, hobbies, work. I stay so busy, I don't have the mental room to feel sad. Best, D'Ann.

  13. D'Ann,

    I'm also very sorry to hear about all the awful things you're dealing with. I don't have much to add to what these lovely people have already said. Some very good advice posted here. I will say that the publisher shutting down could be a blessing in disguise. I've heard horror stories about unsuccessful publishers holding books hostage. This way, you're free to self publish, if you'd like. I've published with traditional publishers, small epresses and self-published. I definitely see advantages to all, and I've enjoyed my self-publishing experience a great deal. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  14. I'm going through a really rough summer, too, so can identify with what you wrote all too well. I don't know what will work for you but what works for me is first, writing--both the bad stuff to get it out and good stuff to help you get your mind off the bad. Then my close women friends who save my sanity on a daily basis. Last enough experience to know, as someone said above, some doors close and others open. You've become a part of the Crimson crowd--and we're pretty strong women. Let us lend you some of that.

  15. I wish I could send you a hug - you've had more grief recently than anyone should ever have. Write out your pain. Express the ideas and emotions on paper (or laptop) - the words you write will be true and heartfelt and years from now you can reread them and remember the losses you suffered through (except for the book cause someone will publish it!)

    Everything I said when Tangerine died - repeats for Flash.

    Deepest sympathies. And cry - cry cry cry. release the pain and wallow in the wonderful memories.

  16. D'Ann,

    I know it is hard to find your way when sadness is all you feel. I also know that what you need is inside of you. You will find the strength, the laughter, the passion to pick yourself up and follow the next path. You would not be the person you are today without that essence of life you have. You are beautiful and wonderful and a dear, dear friend. Rionna

  17. D'Ann I'm so very sorry for the loss of Tangerine and Flash. Final goodbyes are the hardest part of loving a pet. But I hope you find comfort knowing that while they were on earth, you took wonderful care of them. I truly believe that someday you'll see them again.

    When I get depressed, I just sit down and have a good cry or a few good cries. And if I can't crawl out of the dark hole, I go get help. Sometimes a tragedy can send your seratonin levels out of wack and you might need a jump start to regulate them again. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Know that the Crimson Ladies love you through thick and thin.

    As for your book, I'd self-publish it through a on-line publisher that will give you lots of coverage. The other place folding may be a blessing in disguise! Take care!

  18. D'Ann,

    I am so sorry all of this has happened to you at once. And I can relate to the depression. I take a little white pill every evening to help me fight it. It can be like an oily pall that you know is coming and you want to stop it but you can't. The only thing you can do is fight your way through it. Here are a few lines that have helped me get through the bad times and I hope they help you too.

    "Though nothing can bring back the hour, of splendor in the grass; of glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind."
    ----Wordsworth Odes on Intimations of Immortality

  19. Hi D'Ann,
    So sorry to hear about all the heartache and struggles. When such things happen, all you can do is plug on. The tide will turn. Sending over a huge cuddle, it'll pan out.


  20. Sorry you're going through so much D'Ann. If you need a shoulder, you've got it. Keep your chin up.

  21. Send that book out- it's already edited and ready to go- pick a few publishers and get it back out there- most publishers understand - a few wont take something that has been out there but they are in the minority- good luck to you

  22. There's nothing I can add to what the others have said, other than hold onto the light and do something that feels extra-good. Trail riding? Camping? Playing board games while laughing yourself sick? My heart hurts for you.

  23. Heather M. SharpeAugust 7, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    When my beloved 15 yr old lab died 2 weeks before my baby was born I was so devastated. I still "saw" her everywhere from the corner of my eye. I didn't want to tell anyone because I couldn't stand to hear pat phrases. The most meaningful thing anyone said to me was I'm sorry. I am sooo sorry my dear. For everything. Life moves in ups and downs, and time continues to march on, so it will, eventually, climb back to a high.

  24. If I've learned anything about you in the past year or so that I've known you, D'Ann it's that you're a fighter. Even given the blows you've taken in the past month, I know you will get right back in there. When God closes a door, he opens a window. Let the light of that window guide you away from the darkness. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. If you look for that reason, you'll find it and the answer will be everything you ever wanted it to be.

    I feel the pain of the loss of your beloved animals. Grieve for them, but let their memories comfort you as well.

    Do not go gentle into that goodnight!

  25. So, so sorry, D'Ann. I've loved many dogs and cats, and it is very hard to say goodbye. Find comfort in knowing they had wonderful lives with you. Hugs, Deb

  26. I really feel for you on losing the book deal. I thought the world had ended when Midnight Magic Press went under even though the book cover was done, the release date was announced and everything. I was mortified because I'd had it published in my alumni newsletter and everything. There will be a place for ACtK.

    And it really sucks to lose animals you love because they're family and they love unconditionally, especially when it feels like no one else cares. The good thing is, Tangie and Flash knew you loved them in return and that's the most important thing to remember.

    It'll get better, D'Ann.

  27. D'Ann, it scares me how much alike we are. So sorry for the loss of Flash and Tangerine. It's hard to lose animals you love. If you change your mind about self-publishing, let me know. I'll help you with what you need to do.

  28. Everyone handles loss differently and the best thing in my opinion is to talk about it. You relive happy memories and those get you through the grief.

    Like you D'Ann, I've had lots of loss...family, friends, pets...and reliving happier times is a huge help. I also work for Hospice and there are several stages to grief..just let yourself go through them even though it takes time and you'll come out just fine.

    So sorry for your losses...your friends are always here for you xoxox

  29. I wish I had good advice. I'm so very sorry. Deepest condolences for your loss. Sending you a big hug and prayers for peace. Grieving is normal, don't forget.We are here for you if you need anything!!

  30. Dearest D'Ann,
    I'm so sorry. Things have been tough all over for you. When things get ugly in my life, I work to keep my thoughts positive. Like you, I've lost 2 precious 4-legged friends in the past few months. It was heart-wrenching. But every day is better than the one before. I have memories of them... and pictures. And like you, my book came off the Amazon shelf.

    What always helps me is work and movement in a positive direction. Not dwelling in the dark and sad, but keeping things light. If you feel yourself sliding down that slope, turn around and head the opposite direction.

    We have our health, our typing fingers, and a fertile brain. I remind myself what I have to be thankful for, and that helps a bunch, too.

  31. Oh D'Ann I'm sorry you've had so many things happen to you all at once. There aren't any words that will make it better, but you have my sympathy all the same. Losing not one but two beloved animals in a short-time is heart breaking, but you know that they both lived long lives because of the love and care you gave them.

    All my best,

  32. So sorry, D'Ann. We've all been through this more than a few times if we have horses, dogs, cats, birds, any pets. It's so tough. Just know that you're not alone. A writer I know memorializes her pets as characters in her inspirationals. As for depression, I so hear you. Some days just suck. And when they come all at once, man, bed seems the right place to stay. Hang in there. And remember you are talented and a published writer. No one can take that away!

  33. I know it's a little thing when you're hurting, and I don't suffer depression so I can't fully empathize, but I find it helpful to go to sleep naming 5 things I'm grateful for and doing the same thing when I wake up before my feet touch the floor. This has helped me slowly turn my thoughts to better places.

    Take good care of yourself, D'Ann.

  34. So sorry to hear about your recent losses, D'Ann. For your four-legged family, it will get better with time. In the past, I tried to focus on the funny or silly things they'd done, and that always brought a smile to my face to remember those things. It made me happy to know that even though they couldn't be with me any longer, they left me with such happy, priceless memories. And those funny or silly memories eased my pain over time.

    As for A Cowboy to Keep, I absolutely loved that story. It really struck an emotional note for me so I'm very sorry to hear what happened to it. Can you possibly self-publish it someway? I'm not really up with publishing rules, ect., so excuse me if that's a naive question. I really wish you luck with this story because I thought it was fabulous and I know so many other people will as well.

    You're such a great lady and a total sweetheart. Plus, you have a ton of friends who will always there for you. Always remember that, lady. :)

  35. D'Ann, I am sorry about Flash! Sometimes when it rains it pours.
    I know life throws some mighty curves our way, but I believe things will turn around for you. You're a persevere kinda person and those type of people don't go down without a fight.
    Keep your chin up. I will keep you and yours in my prayers

  36. So sorry for you recent loses. Shed your tears yes, but look to all the things around you that you still have. That is how I got through losing my brother last year. He was too young to leave us but he left a lot of good memories. Focus on those shared happy times.

  37. I've never suffered from depression, and my heart goes out to you that you have to deal with that on top of your recent blows. It's not much, but do something for yourself. Something you've always wanted to do, but maybe put off. Try to find a bit of joy right now.

  38. I'm so sorry about everything you've gone through lately. Grief is the hardest thing to work through. But as other's said, the best thing to do is focus on the good memories and believe that the grief will lesson. And remember that you have a ton of people out there who care about you.

    Hugs, my friend.

  39. D -- so sorry about Flash. Honestly, I believe that things happen for a reason and that darkness happens so we appreciate the light when it appears. And it's our job to trust that the light will come. And that our lives are better because we made in through the dark.

  40. Thank you, all. I appreciate every one of you.

  41. D'Ann, I'm not sure I can add much better advice than those who've already commented but I wanted to express my sorrow for your losses and tell you to hang in there. The closest I've ever come to any kind of depression was after having my baby and I can tell you in that time it was no easy feat. Having said that, I admire you for your strength and will to push yourself foward. And when you find yourself falter, that's what your family, friends and crit group are here for.

  42. I'm also sorry for your losses. But look at how many people have cared enough to respond to your blog! That in itself says a lot.


    Jacqueline Seewald

  43. *hugs* I know it looks like it's pouring right now, but you're strong enough to stand back tall and weather it all. We all have faith in you

  44. I'm so sorry to hear about all of your recent difficulties. As for me, I had an accident recently and am in a body brace at the moment. Since it's not been fun, I found two things worked for me: 1) counting my blessing (of which there are many), 2) visualizing where I will be and what I will have going for me one year from now. Good luck with everything!I hope this helps.

  45. My heart goes out to you, D'Ann! Losing those you love is hard. I will keep you in my prayers!