Thursday, August 20, 2015

PMDD and Relationships

On sale now for Kindle at Amazon.  Introductory price of $4.99.  Click on the cover to take you to the link. Available at for Nook and Smashwords as well.  Also available in print at Amazon for the low introductory rate of $9.99.  Over 220 pages of understanding what it's like to be in a relationship when you have PMDD.

PMDD doesn't do normal, but every woman who lives the monthly nightmare that is Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder deserves to have strong, true, and lasting relationships, just like her non-PMDD enduring friends.  Based on the most-read posts in the blog Living on a Prayer, Living with PMDD, this book is for people in difficult relationships and focuses on how to deal with a loved one's PMDD.

Written with chapters for both the woman trying to cope with her PMDD, and her partner, PMDD and Relationships fills a need for understanding and hope.  Understanding of this often debilitating disorder that affects 3 - 8% of menstruating women, and hope for a normal life with friends and family.

Topics include how to develop a network of support and encouragement, and how to enjoy deep and abiding relationships in the midst of hormonal chaos.  You are not alone, and there is no reason for you to stay alone unless you choose to.  Even then, PMDD and Relationships can help you to deal with your PMDD and the world around you in a way that brings renewed joy into the life you were meant to live.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Gift of Love


The last night of our Lenten women's speakers series at church was so powerful I don't know where to begin. It will take at least two blog posts to relay all that happened. Unfortunately, due to neck and shoulder issues, I need to limit my time at the computer, so will not be able to write either of those posts today.

But I do want to share one thing. The series, as you know, was about sharing your voice, leaving your legacy. And so I'd like to share this story that was told to us last night.

A woman was dying, and had been ill for some time. She told her daughter of some money she had stashed away in purse in a drawer, and said she wanted her daughter to have it. Several times over, she urged her daughter to go and get it. Her daughter refused, insisting the mother would recover and would need the money for herself.

The mother continued to insist, until her daughter finally relented. This past Sunday, the mother passed away. Her daughter took the money and used it to buy dozens of roses--enough to give one to every woman who attended the presentation last night.

This is a picture of mine.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Voices of Our Past -- And Present

Last night’s theme in the Women’s Lenten Speaker Series I'm attending was “The Voices of Our Past.” On the altar was an elegant display of framed photographs of the mothers and grandmothers of the women who are putting on what has become an annual program at our church. The speakers encouraged us to honor the voices of our past, the words and actions of strong and wise women both in our own families and experience, as well as public figures who have shaped our lives, for, as women, we collectively stand on the shoulders of all those who have come before us. Our presenters spoke of the faith of The Samaritan Woman, and Joan of Arc. Our special guest speaker was a woman who, because of traumatic events in her childhood, descended into promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, a series of abusive relationships, and crime. She gave birth to her third child while incarcerated, and while hemorrhaging in her cell, cried out to God…

And He answered. With the help of two special women in her life, she has now been clean for over four years, has reunited with her family, has put her life back together, and now works as a staff member in one of the halfway houses she lived in when she was released from prison. None of which she could have accomplished without her faith that God was (and is to this day) with her every step of the way.

Also during the program, we were invited to proceed down to the altar, where a basket full of cards, much like graduation announcements, waited. On the cover are the words, May your Voice shine bright like the prism of your heart. We were to select a card from the basket that would hold inside a name of significance in our lives.

As we processed, our guest speaker played a soothing, almost haunting melody on the organ, which we later learned she herself had composed. Music, we later discovered, was what had helped her to process all of the pain and trauma and negative emotions in her life, and brought her back to the joy of living. Apparently the two women from our church, both involved in prison ministry, had plopped a keyboard down in front of her and told her to give voice to the music inside her as part of her healing. And what beautiful music it was, reminiscent to me of the peace and joy and majesty of Pachelbel’s Canon, a timeless favorite of some of the happiest women in the world--brides.

So each of us chose a card from the basket, a card which contained a name inside especially meant for the woman who chose it as a message from God.

I watched the women’s faces as they left the altar, without exception opening the card and reading the name inside. Some smiled, some frowned, some looked confused, and others laughed, as the meaning hit home.

As for me, I waited until I had found my seat in the sacred space where we gathered in silence to hear our speakers before opening mine, feeling somewhat curious, somewhat apprehensive, and yes, somewhat skeptical.

But when I opened my card, I shook and nearly cried.

The name I had chosen was Hannah. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was God was letting me know He knew me and heard my prayers. For Hannah was the name I had chosen over eighteen years ago for my child had he been born a girl. No one knew that but me.

Since we were also asked to reflect on the meaning of the name we selected, I did so, and the words that came to me were “The Hannah Project,” presented as a link in the sidebar of my PMDD site. That meant to me that I have yet to give birth to another creation, this one a feminine creation, of and pertaining to women, since the overall theme of this speaker series is Give Voice to Your Heart so that others may benefit from your wisdom and caring and be heard as well. Over the past two years, my PMDD site has done just that. I have spoken from the heart, have told my story, and in doing so have told the story of countless other women, many of whom, after reading my PMDD blog, for the first time in their lives feel understood. Through my writing, I am giving them a voice.

The significance of this name became even more apparent to me as we dimmed the lights, and one by one each woman read aloud the name on her card. I’d say 95% of the names were either historical figures, women in politics past and present, social justice advocates, and/or celebrities. Queens and slaves and martyrs and saints. Only a handful came from the Bible. Not because they weren’t there, but because they weren’t selected. There were more than enough cards in the basket for every woman there, maybe twice as many as the women there. But only a handful of the names called out were from the Bible.

And mine was one of them. And mine was Hannah.

The only other name I would have interpreted to mean that God “knew” me, that God heard my voice, was Grace, as my beloved cat Grace recently passed away unexpectedly, having developed fluid in her lungs within the space of three days.

This morning I discovered that the name Hannah derives from the Hebrew word Grace.

If you think God doesn’t know you, doesn’t hear you, doesn’t love you…

Think again.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Voice of Your Story

As you begin to pay attention to your own stories and what they say about you, you will enter into the exciting process of becoming, as you should be, the author of your own life, the creator of your own possibilities. ~Mandy Aftel, natural perfumer and author of three books on perfume

A human being is nothing but a story with skin around it. ~Fred Allen, comedian and radio personality

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~Dr. Maya Angelou, Global Renaissance Woman

Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try. ~Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. ~J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan

This week’s topic at “The Woman Within” Lenten speaker series at my church was The Voice of Your Story, or how important it is to give voice to our stories. To not let them die with us or within us. We heard the story of Anna in the bible and of Harriet Tubman of the Underground Railroad. We had a lovely 82-year-old speaker who told us stories about growing up with her grandmother, and how the self-reliance and wisdom her grandmother taught her was what sustained her through many a rough time in her life.

In short, she gave voice to her story.

During the program I realized I have already begun giving voice to my story, through my books, this blog, and my PMDD blog. Mostly through the PMDD blog. What the evening did was let me know I am on the right track, and inspire me to get moving again on my PMDD book, so that I can get it out there for others to read and try to understand the baffling phenomenon that is PMDD.

By telling my story, I will help others to understand theirs.

To that end, I’ve spent a good part of the week researching all sorts of aspects of PMDD, so that my information can be as up to date as possible.

Other than that, things are rolling along as well as can be expected for a woman with too many things to do and not enough time to fit them all in :). But our Lenten women’s speaker series is something I do for me, March once again having been declared “Me” month, where I only do things that nourish me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Because of that, I know that by Easter and the Resurrection I will have a renewed focus on my life and projects and goals for the year, and will be ready to move in whatever direction God moves me to go in.



Friday, March 2, 2012

Give Voice To Your Heart

That is the theme of this year’s “The Woman Within” Lenten speaker series at my church. It’s the fourth year of this program and this year will run for four weeks. Last night we, as women, were encouraged to give voice to what is in our hearts, and so I thought what better time to start blogging again? I know, I know, I’ve had a couple of false starts already, but this is Lent, and therefore a time to make changes for the good. The results of last year’s Lenten changes have been phenomenal, and turned my life upside down.
Last year at this time, I was a total workaholic. Anytime someone asked me what I was doing, “working” was the answer. That and keeping up with my son’s schedule. Making sure he got to where he needed to be when he needed to be there. In short, he was the one with the life, not me. I knew something had to change, or one day he would grow up and be gone, and I’d be left home with the cats, still working all the time.
I’d already unwittingly started in on my plan for change, as a blog post I wrote in June of 2010 entitled “There’s No Excuse for Being Bored” morphed into an article published last January in my diocese’s Faith Magazine (click on January/February 2011 issue, pages 8 and 9). In it, I listed a host of activities offered through the church bulletin, church newspaper, and Faith Magazine, and basically said that life is out there, waiting, for anyone who chooses to participate. Life is Out There...Waiting! was in fact the title of the article.
With that thought in mind, I began to craft a new life for myself, one full of fun, friends, and all sorts of social activities. But it wasn’t enough. I was out and about, having fun, but wanted someone special to share that fun with. So in July of 2010 I took the leap and joined an online dating site. Nine months and maybe a dozen dead end conversations later, I had a file folder full of notes and information on how dating sites do and don’t work (no experience is ever wasted when you’re a writer), but still no partner.
In March, I decided to give up that ghost and concentrate on Me. March, I eventually declared in my blog posts, was “Me” month. For the month of March, I would focus only on what nourished me--mentally, physically, and spiritually. I’d read more books, pray more, exercise more, clear the clutter in my home and life, attend only lectures and events that spoke to me personally, and in general just be good to myself. To that end, I added a third Qigong class to my week, this one held on Sunday mornings.
Qigong is something I’ve been interested in for more than a decade, but somehow never made the time for. Finally, I joined a class taught clear across town. My friends were amazed. You go to class where? For the previous 24 years I’d pretty much limited myself to local activities held on my side of town, or within a very limited driving distance (my occasional trips to out-of-town conferences and such notwithstanding.)
Suddenly I was driving across town three times a week, meeting new people, and making friends outside my comfort zone. Then, lo and behold, one Sunday morning, in walks this man, who, unbeknownst to me, fit the section of my online dating profile headed “What I am Looking For” to a tee. Three months later several students from our class headed to Niagara Falls for a Tai Chi workshop (Tai Chi being a form of Qigong), and the two of us just “clicked.”
We’ve been seeing each other ever since.
Which is one reason why my blogging fell off. Instead of working all the time, I now focus on work during the weekdays, and spend my evenings and weekends tootling around with him. We go to class, go to church, go to concerts, car shows, festivals, dances, dinners, games, and wine tastings. We take trips, and have been to Canada, Michigan, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, and New York. We flew to South Dakota, visited the National Music Museum. We’re headed to Texas, next. In between trips, we trundle around town taking care of errands and visiting friends. We collect recipes, go grocery shopping, and cook. We watch movies and volunteer for community service together. We attend all my son’s special activities.
But none of this would have happened if I hadn’t given voice to my heart. My heart felt a lack, and so I did something about it. Through my article in Faith Magazine I put it out there, into the universe, that there was no excuse for being lonely or bored, and then, though my online dating profile, I put it out there what I was looking for.
I spoke from the heart, and my voice was heard.
So today’s question is: What is your voice telling you? Is there a lack in your life? What is it you need to bring you closer to being the person you want to be? More time in prayer? More exercise? More “Me” time? More family time? More social activities? More active involvement in your church or community?
I seriously doubt it’s “More work.”
Take time out this week to be still and listen to that voice within. They say peace and contentment comes when the person you are and the person you want to be are one and the same.
Who are you? Who do you want to be?
Even if you’re not Catholic, like I am, Lent--or spring, if you prefer--is a good time of year, a time of rebirth and renewal, to take time out to consider these questions and--either by your actions, or through your words, or both--give voice to your heart.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guest Author, LK Hunsaker

Today's guest is LK Hunsaker, friend and fellow author whom I plan to kidnap one day and take with me to a writer's conference, preferably somewhere warm. Until then, we'll just have to find our "steam" in our writing, LOL. LK makes a great point, in that who we are as people is not necessarily reflected in our characters -- more often we write about who we wish we were, or wish we could be...or take the best (and maybe sometimes the worst) characteristics of those around us and bring them to life...but that's the beauty of writing...we can make our characters be anyone we want them to be. And LK has some special characters she wants to share with us today, characters sharing a very special moment, exploring the power and beauty of human touch, so sit back and enjoy. I know after reading this and other excerpts from Moondrops & Thistles, this exceptional story has moved to the top of my TBR pile. Welcome, LK!

Hello Liana! It’s so nice to come and play today. :-)

While I was trying to come up with something decently creative to post here that I haven’t already said or answered, one of the followers for my blog contest in relation to the tour had a suggestion of a possible topic of discussion:

“I'm waiting for you to reveal something about what inspires you to write the "steamy" parts!”

Now granted, my steamy parts (and I do mean in my books) are not all that steamy. I’m more an inward-looking psychological writer. I’m more mental than touch-feely and to tell the truth, I’m not big on hugs, personally. I have characters who love hugs. And I do like virtual hugs because it sometimes is the thought that counts! And that’s where my steamy parts come in.

How many of you have caught view of the “perfect” man or woman, visually perfect according to your personal taste, and wondered what it would be like to actually touch that person’s face? Has anyone not ever done that? Yes, it’s okay if you’re in a permanent relationship and still do it. From my psych training I fully remember that fantasy is a perfectly normal and very healthy part of life, whatever your status. It can even improve your long-term marriage to fantasize. It’s good for you! It can also be good for your partner, because let’s face it, when you’re happier, your partner is likely to be happier.

I’ve read author interviews where the writer says her heroes are based on her husband. I find it incredibly sweet. I also find it a little too personal for me. Nope, I might grab a few of my husband’s personality traits, such as with Daws and his ability to handle any job that’s thrown at him, which has always had my unfailing admiration, but when it comes to the steamy stuff ... that stays separate.

My personal life and my work are both joined and separate. My fiction is me and yet it’s not.

The steamy parts come from basic biology and the fact that touch is an incredible adrenaline rush as well as a mental stabilizer. Wow, did I just throw ice on the whole romance writing thing? Okay, so it comes from when I read a tender scene or watch one in a movie or see that “perfect” type somewhere and feel the mental rush of possibility, of pulse racing, of “what if,” of how it would feel to touch his face, just once of course. Yes, face touching is prevalent in my books. Sometimes it goes beyond that.

In real life, I would never touch a strange man’s face, regardless of how perfect he is physically. That’s where fiction comes in. Fantasy is healthy. Why else would romance be the #1 best selling genre year after year?

I hope Liana won’t mind that I got so steamy on her blog, but it is appropriate, since she was kind enough to read through my first real love scene, written for Moondrops & Thistles: shorter & spicier edition, and okay it before it went out.

I’m going to leave you with a lead in to that scene. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook of Moondrops short & spicy! And go to my blog next for a chance to win the full print version, personally signed, plus a transforming mug with the cover art, and a Support Our Troops bracelet: http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com

Moondrops & Thistles: shorter & spicier edition

LK Hunsaker

Excerpt:

“What do they do?”

She sighed again. “Mom is the typical homemaker who doesn’t do anything but that. I used to try to get her to do anything else, pick up a craft, play cards with the girls, something. She would never do it. I think because Dad doesn’t want her to do anything else. Can’t tell you how much I resented that she’d let him run her life that way.”

Daws nodded to himself. Made sense. Explained her insistence about being independent, not allowing him to “take charge” as though he might want to. “What does he do?”

“Oh. He lays floors. Or used to. He’s retired now. He also did some cement work. Things like that. And he took care of animals now and then. That changed with the year. We had chickens for a while, goats, turkeys, peacocks that made the most dreadful noise, and a couple of horses he tried to breed but they didn’t seem to like each other much.”

He chuckled. “Man of many interests.”

“Man who couldn’t commit to one thing. Drove Mom crazy.”

“And you.”

She looked up at him, questioning.

“That why you’re determined to stick this job out, like it or not?”

“No.” She turned her eyes forward again, down at the sidewalk. “I’m sticking it out because it’s the one thing I’ve wanted more than anything in the world and I’m not willing to let go of the chance only because a few morons try to stop me.”

By the tone of her voice, Daws decided it was again time to route around. “Have siblings?”

“A few. And I don’t want to try to explain them so how about we let that go?”

“Okay.”

“You’re offended now.”

“Not at all.”

"You sound like you are.” She stopped and faced him. “I left all that behind on purpose. It’s no longer part of me. Of my life. Any more than yours seems to be.”

He studied her eyes. So firm, resolved. Of course she had to know better. Your family roots weren’t ever fully left behind. His weren’t, regardless of how he tried. They never would be. Not enough. “I’m sorry you felt you had to put it behind you.”

“Yeah. Well, it happens.”

Daws raised a hand to her face. “If you ever decide you want to talk about it, I’m always willing to listen. But I’ll understand if you don’t.”

“Will you tell me more about yours?”

“Nothing much more to say about mine.”

“I don’t think I believe that, but I’ll give you the same offer.” Deanna brushed his lips, hinting. “Ready to go in yet or are you still afraid of me?”

“Yes.”

“To which?”

“Both.” With a quick grin, he led her to his building and walked her up the stairs.

As she settled in, he pulled out two hard lemonades and took them to the couch where she sat with bare feet pulled to her side. Deanna accepted one of the bottles, looked at it quizzically, and peered into his eyes.

“Am I right?”

“How did you know? Did I slip up and tell you?”

He gave her another grin, took a long swallow, and rubbed a hand over her shoulder with a light massage.

“Guess it’s true.” She returned the favor by caressing his leg.

“What’s true?”

“You’re not bothered by feet. At least by my bare feet on your couch.”

He caught her eyes as he took another swallow, and set the drink out of his way. “Are you ticklish?” At her raised eyebrows, he clarified. “Your feet.”

“No.”

Daws slid his hands around the leg she had resting atop the other and coerced it gently until her knee bent upward and her foot rested against his leg. He soothed a hand over top. “Can’t imagine anyone bothered by them.”

“Well, it’s not very classy, I guess, to run around the house with bare feet. Not sure why it isn’t since they are clean...” She broke off as he began to massage her foot.

He watched her face to be sure it didn’t tickle and he wasn’t too rough. Her eyes closed, her head dropped back, and her expression ... made his body tighten. It took little encouragement to get her to shift to the end of the couch, allowing access to both feet. And she pried her lemonade between her thighs for security, to prevent spilling it as her body loosened, relaxed.

“That feels incredible.”

“Does it?” He pressed his thumbs up the middle of her feet, watched her breasts rise as her shoulders arched back. The buttons of her blouse pulled against their holes. Her fingers gripped the edge of his couch.

Suddenly, she pulled away, put her bottle on the table, and pressed in against him, her mouth to his, arms around his neck. He tasted the lemonade on her tongue, felt her breasts surge with her breaths. He circled her small waist and encouraged her closer. It took little encouragement. She was fire. Bright. Hot. Piercing his armor of what he thought was thick as Kevlar. She was proving how wrong he was. It wasn’t Kevlar. It was aluminum. Durable. But not unbendable.

Buy Link:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/31804
(shorter and spicier edition)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/71151
(full edition, also at BN.com or at your local indie store from Indiebound.org)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Win With Number Sixteen on the 16th!

Once again I'm participating in The Romance Studio's Year End Splash Party, this time giving away an autographed copy of my all-time favorite book to write, Thin Ice. What better way to celebrate hockey season than with a copy of Eric and Emily's award-winning story about second chances?

All you have to do is answer question Number 16 -- coincidentally today's date and Eric's number as captain of the Minneapolis Saints -- for your chance to win! In the meantime, here's an excerpt to give you a taste of what's in store for our soon-to-be family...Emily has finally given in to her eight-year-old son Robbie's fervent desire to play hockey and doesn't know where to begin to get him the equipment he needs. A not-so-chance meeting at a skating rink leads her to ask Eric for advice. With a big smile, he tells her he knows just where to go.

The door opened and a wiry black man in a blue plaid flannel shirt and jeans stepped back to admit them. “Eric, good to see you,” he said. “Your stuff came in Friday afternoon.”

“Glad to hear it, but that’s not why I called. Sam, I’d like you to meet Emily Jordan and her son, Robbie.”

Sam smiled in welcome. “Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Jordan. Robbie. I was just making some coffee.” He turned and checked the pot. “It’s almost done. Anyone care for a cup?”

Emily declined, but Eric accepted. After a brief pow-wow with Eric about the Saints’ chances for making the playoffs while the coffee finished brewing, Sam turned to Emily with a warm smile. “What can we do for you today, Ms. Jordan, besides bore you with a lot of meaningless statistics?”

“Meaningless?” From the sound of it they’d been discussing the team’s chances as intently as she’d consult with Augustus about a critically ill patient.

“Absolutely. Because no matter what the sports gurus say, the Saints are going all the way...and this guy right here is the one who’s going to take them.” He clapped Eric on the back, nearly sloshing the coffee Eric was staring into all over his front. “Yes ma’am, you’ve hooked up with a real champion here. Captain Cameron to the rescue.”

The light in the storefront was dim, but Emily would have sworn she saw Eric’s ears redden. “Emily doesn’t really follow the sport, Sam,” he said quietly.

Sam looked at her in startled surprise, then back at Eric. “She doesn’t?” As if such a thing was inconceivable.

“No, but Robbie does, and he’s joining the Mites League. I’d like you to set him up with the works.”

“Sure. No problem. Got everything he needs right here. Top of the line.”

Within minutes Robbie looked like a miniature gladiator. Emily felt a sharp pinch in her purse as the two men outfitted her son with layer upon layer of padding, the three of them conversing in a sports jargon she couldn’t begin to comprehend. Secure in the knowledge her son was in the hands of experts, she changed her mind about Sam’s offer of coffee and poured herself some.

She cradled the styrofoam cup in her hands and strolled over to the window. Peering through the dusty horizontal blinds, she studied the Suburban. Five years old already when she’d bought it last year, it desperately needed a tune-up and new tires. That might have to wait again, now with Robbie’s newest expenses. Between paying off her school loans, Robbie’s tuition and helping out her family, she was pushing her financial limits to the wall. And with the cost of gas these days...

She sighed. There were times when she wished she didn’t have to drive such a big vehicle, but that was one phobia she couldn’t seem to get rid of.

She turned away from the window and found Sam gone and Eric crouched before Robbie, testing the fit of his equipment. She sipped her coffee and felt the sting of tears as Robbie solemnly answered Eric’s quiet questions. What she wouldn’t give to have her family see Robbie right now. But home wasn’t somewhere she could ever go again. Not as long as her father was alive. She wondered how her mother was doing, if her health was holding up. It was times like this, when she felt closest to Robbie, that she missed her own mother the most.

Sam reappeared with a fistful of hockey sticks, a pair of black leather skates and a huge white jersey. As her son stood there in a pair of black padded pants that looked five sizes too big but apparently fit perfectly, Eric slid the suspenders up over Robbie’s shoulder pads, then dropped the huge jersey over his head. He asked Robbie to sit, then laced his skates. Only her son’s face and hands resembled anything close to an eight year old’s, and even that changed once Eric settled a hard red plastic helmet with a grid mask on Robbie’s head.

Eric adjusted the chinstrap, while Sam handed Robbie a huge pair of padded black gloves to try on.

“So, what do you think, Ms. Jordan?” Sam asked, grinning.

Eric and Robbie looked her way, Robbie more still than Emily could remember him being while awake.

“I think you look wonderful,” she told her son, her voice catching. “I can’t wait to see you in action.”

Robbie let out a whoop of joy. Emily lifted her eyes to Eric’s, not caring that he saw the emotion in them. “Thank you,” she mouthed, as Robbie waddled over to Sam to select a stick.

Eric’s answering smile touched her mother’s heart. “If that doesn’t keep him safe, nothing will.”

For more information, go to my website.
To purchase Thin Ice, New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf and EPPIE award winner, go here.

Thank you, and have a great day!