It’s official…Coming November 1, 2022

Yesterday, I finished the final edits on my novel and took the plunge. I uploaded everything onto draft2digital and self-published my novel.

This was a hard decision, since I wanted to publish through the traditional route but didn’t want to wait the year or two it could take to get someone on board. I need this book, in print, as soon as possible.

Why? You might wonder. Well, for me, it’s simple.

I want my father to hold my finished published novel in his hands before he dies. It could be months or years, I know, but it also could be weeks or days, so I don’t want to waste time that I might not have.

I don’t actually care if my dad reads it or ever opens the cover. I just want him to touch it and know that I made that happen. When I was little, all I wanted was to see my name on the cover of a book. And now, I can.

The amount of pride I have for this project is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. Nobody did this but me. Sure, people helped mold the story by reading it and giving me invaluable feedback. Yes, people in my life directly inspired the story and characters. But I put them together and brought this version of those things to life.

Want to check it out? I know you do!

https://books2read.com/b/3nX2l9

If it isn’t availible through your chosen retailer yet, please check again in a few days. The self-publishing process is tedious and Amazon has many hoops for writers to jump through. Additionally, print versions will be available soon, as well. I am waiting for an advanced copy to arrive for me to proofread for approval, then those preorders will begin. Have patience!

I promise it will be worth it! I can’t wait to share my story with everyone!

Until next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

Changes

PLAY ME

This morning was a glorious fall morning, complete with cool enough temperatures to justify a sweatshirt and fog on the windows. I tried to enjoy the crisp air, but I just couldn’t. Spooky season, my favorite time of the year, just doesn’t feel very spooky this year.

I want it to, don’t get me wrong. I got up and dressed in my pumpkin leggings and pumpkin sweatshirt with my favorite tall black fall boots. It felt like trying to start a car without a battery connected, though. There’s no spark.

In truth, I’m so overwhelmed by life right now that I can’t function. I can’t see past today, much less into tomorrow. Several things are for certain, and they are causing me to shut down entirely.

  1. I am getting a divorce. The wheels are in motion and going too quickly to stop now. I don’t know if I would stop it if I could. So much hurt has happened on both sides that I can’t say whether there is even anything worth salvaging anymore.
  2. My father is dying of cancer. We’ve known for a while that it was inevitable, but treatments aren’t working anymore so it will probably happen much quicker now.
  3. In order to help care for my dad, and spend as much time with him as possible before the end, I have to completely uproot my autistic granddaughter, and this may send her into a downward spiral or a complete regression. In doing so, I also have to move us far away from our support team and care network and into an area where autism is considered “fake”.
  4. Everything I know about my life is going to change and it scares me. I knew I wanted a break, I was never sure I wanted it to be forever. I wanted things to change, but I wanted them to get better.
  5. I don’t know who I am anymore.

I guess that’s all for today.

Until next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

***A Note from me ***I wanted today’s post to convey the true emotion I’m feeling, so I decided to record voice audio with it, so you can hear me. Let me know if you think that helped. After listening myself, I think I sound…lifeless. Maybe I’m wrong?

The Hardest Thing

“It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do
To look you in the eye
And tell you I don’t love you
It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever have to lie
To show no emotion when you start to cry
I can’t let you see what you mean to me
When my hands are tied and my hearts not free
We’re not meant to be
It’s the hardest thing
I’ll ever had to do
To turn around and walk away pretending I don’t love you” (The Hardest Thing by 98 Degrees, 1999)

All this week, these lyrics have been swimming in my head as I prepare for a new future that I never wanted. I have known for a while that it was inevitable, despite my efforts to stop it. Perhaps I am at fault. Perhaps he is. Perhaps neither of us is. Does it really matter who is at fault when it’s over?

To be clear, I’m doing this for the children. Growing up in a toxic environment is devastating to the mental health of children. I know from experience. I never wanted my children to go through that. And yet, here we are, in a toxic household because someone always has to be at fault and someone always has to be right.

We were supposed to carry each other through our dark moments, and we did, but we did it kicking and screaming the whole way. Somewhere along the way, we lost respect for each other. We let our families get in the way. We let life’s curveballs tear us apart.

It was supposed to be the two of us, together until the end. That’s the hardest part. Knowing I wasn’t enough. And losing a child in the process. But in a way, we are both losing a child, so that pain is mutual.

I’ve made my mistakes. I said some things that never should have left my mouth. I’ve done some things I will never forgive myself for. For that, I can never apologize enough. But it’s too little, too late, and one sided.

I can only hope that whatever happens next, we will each find happiness. I hope my boys know that I did this for them. They deserve a calm and nurturing household. We cannot give that to them together.

For the record, no, this isn’t a post to him. I know he won’t even read it. He never does and never will, I’m sure. I believe I was always more invested in his interests than he was of mine. And that is okay. It doesn’t really matter now. But I wanted to say some things, and I have this platform to express myself.

Emotions demand to be felt. So I am feeling them. During this time of transition, I may cry. I may be sad. I may scream and curse and swear and demand resolution. I will get through this. I will be okay eventually. But for now, if you see me crying, the answer is No, I’m not okay. But I will be.

Until next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

Buried in Stuff

Sometimes it feels like my house will never be clean. I try to keep things put away, but it never lasts.

Once upon a time, my house was neat and clean. Of course, I don’t actually remember that day. With a revolving door of children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and pets, it’s hard to keep things tidy.

If you asked me to name an item that I clearly have too much of, that has infiltrated every room of my home, that answer would be books. But to answer the next question before it gets asked, no, I will not part with any of them. They are a part of me.

It’s not just physical books either. My phone, tablet, and computer are packed with thousands of digital downloads and e-books, audiobooks by the hundreds, and dozens of work-in-progress story files. Fiction fills my life.

Which is probably why reality is especially hard for me to cope with. A loss in a book is never truly permenant. All you need to do to regain what was taken is to restart the book and it’s safely where it began.

Sometimes, I wish reality were the same. There are many things in my life I would change if I could just go back a few chapters. What would you change?

Until next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

Back To School

Well, well, well, it’s back to school time y’all!

This year we have three kids going to three different schools, so morning dropoffs take quite a bit of time.

So cute in his uniform!
Oh yes, she dressed herself!
So handsome!

Now that the kiddos are back in school every day, it’s time to get some serious writing done! I am currently working on editing The Covid Christmas Story for the final time and getting all the publishing details ironed out.

I’m also working on a collaboration with an artist to create a story to go with her pictures. I will add more information once I get farther in the project.

Also, I’m working on my first scary story for an anthology contest. I’m not sure I can actually write a spooky story, and it isn’t going really well just yet, but I’m not ready to give up just yet!

So much is going on right now, and so many things are changing! Promising futures are on the horizon!

Until the next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

Happy 40th Birthday To Me!

Yesterday, I celebrated my 40th birthday. It was a great day, filled with family and friends, plenty of time with my children, and a few great presents.

My kiddos got me some fantastic Halloween inspired pillows, a Jack the Pumpkin King, and Zero, Jack’s faithful ghost dog. My daughter, Kora, created these amazing runes for me. I’m not entirely sure how to use them, so bonus side quest time!! But, they are ridiculously sparkly and super cute. She made them, which is even better.

I’ve got a few more things coming soon, and I’m super excited. One of the items is a dress designed after Sally (from The Nightmare Before Christmas) and I can’t wait to wear it! Yes, I am obsessed. No, I’m not sorry.

As I embark on a new year of life, I’ve been reflecting on the past forty years. I wish I could say it’s been a smooth ride that I’ve enjoyed every minute of.

The truth is much less happy.

I’m a product of a broken home where my childhood was far less than fantastic. My formative years as a small child were filled with memories of people. I remember my Great-Grandpa, the one who sat on his porch swing every single day and whistled. One year, I wrote a paper on him for history class. What I wouldn’t give to have that paper now. So much history lost that I can never recover. I remember Aunt Nilma, with her leopard print leggings and supermarket tabloid magazine addictions. Her house always smelled a little bit funny, but she had these huge cutouts of country singers and I loved to visit her.

My teenage years were rich in dysfunctional athority and poor decision-making. My parents divorced and I was made to pick sides. Nobody should ever make their kids feel this way. It’s horrible and I wanted to die rather than pick. Because of this, I spent several years of my teens bouncing between my parents, trying to find a place where I was wanted. When neither home felt like home, I turned to relationships and ended up in a horrible place with a guy I had no business being with. I stayed far too long because we had children and the people I trusted most told me that was the right thing to do. They were wrong, it was horrible advice, and I shouldn’t have listened for so long.

My twenties were a mess of men I didn’t love who trapped me in relationships I hated and trying to figure out where I belonged in the world, all while attempting to raise children who didn’t grow up to hate me. This decade saw me survive a terrible domestic violence situation, come out of “the closet” as bisexual (and losing some family in the process), and my first attempt at college (which I failed due to the violent relationship). Toward the end of this decade, I met my husband and had my last child.

My thirties were chaotic and tumultuous, but had some shining moments. I’ve raised my kids, welcomed three grandchildren, and taken on the task of raising one of those grandchildren. My biggest achievement was re-entering college, then graduating with three degrees. I also wrote my first complete novel, which I’m in the process of editing and publishing. I spent a bit of time reconnecting with my father, reconnecting with some old friends, eliminating some toxic people from my life.

And now, for the next decade. Looking ahead, I have some lofty goals for my next ten years. My writing goals include publishing a few books, getting more short pieces published online, and maybe exploring poetry a bit more. I’m looking forward to finishing my Master’s degree, and eventually restarting the process all over again! I want to practice baking and master cake decorating. And I want to spend more time cooking and growing my culinary skills. My boys will become adults at some point, and I have so many hopes and dreams for their future. I can’t wait to watch my grandchildren grow up and explore their own personalities. I know, inevitably, this decade will bring death, tragedy, and drama. I’m trying not to dwell on that too much.

So many things could happen in the future. I’m looking forward to sharing so much with my readers here, and sharing even more with my family and friends. I hope the next year brings success, happiness, and growth to my life.

Until we meet again!

Cathy Marie Bown

Here Comes Autumn…A Preview Of What’s To Come

If you know me at all, you know that fall is my favorite time of year. Halloween is my spirit holiday. Honestly, the months between August through December are my absolute favorite. I love leggings, sweaters, fuzzy socks, cozy blankets, and crisp fall air.

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”

– Emily Brontë

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/arts-and-culture/g901/best-autumn-quotes/

While grocery shopping this week, I came across pumpkin shaped pasta and candy corn, which forced the autumn vibes to start flowing. Of course, I had already been trying to kick-start that flow since I’m working on a short story for a Halloween anthology contest.

The last rejection stung internally, so I haven’t entered a contest in a few months. I thought the story I had written was perfect, but the company I submitted to disagreed. Have you ever done something you thought was perfect only to have it destroyed through criticism? What a knock to my self-confidence. It’s time to get back on the horse or leave the pasture.

So I thought today I’d talk about some of the upcoming activities that I hope to take pictures of and post about. August is almost over and that means…my birthday is three days away. School starts for my two boys the next day, then we say goodbye to August and hello to September.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

September brings farmers markets, pumpkin patches, apple orchards, baking, back-to-school activities, and a few last hurrah summer activities. Locally, we have an amazing farmer’s market every Saturday and several farms nearby that host their own markets. We also have an abundance of pumpkin patches and apple orchards, so we have many options to explore fall activities and soak up the autumn atmosphere. September also brings a 1st birthday to my youngest granddaughter, Meadow.

One of the things I’m most excited about is fall baking. It’s been a few years since I did any exciting baking, but this year, with all three of the kids at school every day, I’m really hoping to dive back in and have fun. Baking an apple crisp and writing a few chapters sounds like a fantastic way to spend the day. I picked up a few new cookbooks this year with some great recipes I’m just dying to try. I look forward to sharing that here with you all!

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels.com

October brings the start of Halloween season, though I usually start decorating near my birthday because I love it so much! Costume shopping, holiday baking, a pleathora of Halloween movies to enjoy, and usually the first fire of the season in the woodburner. The outside air turns crisp and cool, prompting sweatshirts and jeans over shorts and t-shirts. And nothing beats a leaf pile for children to jump into. October is a big birthday month for grandkids, since my 2 oldest (Chandlor and Katarinah) have birthdays at the beginning of the month.

October will, with any luck and a fair amount of hard work, also be when my first novel is self-published and released to the public. It’s a Christmas book, so I want to have it available by the early holiday season. If not, I will probably make the super-hard decision to hold it over for another year. I do not want to do that, so fingers crossed I can get the editing done and put it out into the world for everyone to *hopefully* enjoy.

November brings the colder weather, but we don’t put the pumpkins away just yet. Thanksgiving is a huge deal in our family, and we spend days preparing food for epic feasts with several different families. Each year looks a little different, so I won’t know what this year looks like until its much closer to time. My oldest daughter turns 22 this year in November.

November also brings NaNoWriMo, a month-long writing event that I have attempted two years in a row, but failed both times. I am more determined than ever to make it through the event and reach the 50,000 word count goal. I will be using the month to work exclusively on my thesis novel for my MFA program.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

And then, December caps off 2022 with a flurry of holiday parties, baking, winter breaks from school, buying presents, and slowing down to enjoy family time. Some of the things I look forward to include curling up with Home Alone and all of the kids on the couch while we enjoy popcorn and hot chocolate, building snowmen, and enjoying summer memories at the YMCA while we play in the pool.

December also marks my 12th wedding anniversary. My husband and I have been together much longer. This always provides a time for reflecting on the years, the hopes and dreams we brought into this family, our aspirations for each other, and our desires for the future. This year, I don’t know what that will look like. Change is in the air already and I can’t say now how the rest of the year will shake out. I’m just going to try to be optomistic and hope the changes bring resolution to long-standing problems. After all, hope is what drives me forward every day. Hope is what gets me out of bed, into pants, and out into the world. Hope, and the promise of possibilities.

Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

Well, that was a flash fast forward of what the rest of my year looks like. My goal for this blog and the rest of the year is to put my DSLR camera to work and share as much of my activities with my readers as possible. I need to grow this blog beyond where it is now. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every single one of my 80 followers, even if my posts are only read by a handful of those followers each time. I want to do more to share my world with you. I want to create a space where readers can glimpse into my life.

Maybe, someday when I have succeeded as a published author and make a bestsellers list, people will dig through my old posts looking for treasure. Maybe they will find it here. Maybe not. Who knows. The future is undecided, but exciting. Things can change in an instant and what is important today could mean nothing tomorrow.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Right now, though, dear readers, I treasure you and can’t wait to share more of my world with you. Look for all of these things, plus lots of information on my book as I get closer to releasing it, right here and on my social media platforms. Feel free to subscribe if you want to be included in my newsletter. It’s in a very rough stage right now, and I’ve only sent out one. I don’t anticipate sending more than one or two a month as things get more exciting and I get closer to seeing my book on bookstore shelves.

Until the next time we meet,

Cathy Bown

To Cut or Not To Cut…Editing and Workshopping for the Passive-Aggressive Writer

Today, I want to talk about editing. It’s the bane of many writer’s existence. For me, it’s such a daunting task that I find myself coming up with chore after chore that needs done before I can get to the editing of my story.

I love my story, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s an amazing story with realistic characters and a fantastic plotline. But I don’t want to cut anything. I don’t want to change things.

After reading several articles and book sections about editing and preparing a manuscript for publishing, I’ve made a few early decisions on edits, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to make the hard changes.

I have discovered a pretty rookie mistake with my manuscript and it was the easiest cut to make. My prologue, which I wrote with the intention of guiding the reader into the exact timeline of my story, is a prime example of authors holding the readers hand, something every experienced writer discourages. I want to trust that my readers will get it so I have to trust them to dive right into my world and explore on their own.

On another related note, I want to take just a second to talk about something that I experienced in my MFA courses this past term.

In a workshop a few weeks ago, I offered a writer who clearly didn’t have as much experience as me some advice which I thought would be super helpful in getting them to a near-perfect score on an assignment. Much to my suprise, they were offended and outraged by my suggestions. Not only did they hate my suggestions, they took to our MFA writing community to attack me. They posted that my suggestions were “hostile” and “bordering on abusive.” Other classmates actually rallied behind her without seeing the feedback I offered and suggested she contact her advisor and the teacher to have me punished!

For the record, my feedback included pointing out that she said the same three words twice in a row, clearly an editing error that was a simple correction, and that a paragraph in her paper should have been an e-mail to the teacher, not part of the final project since it was completely irrelevant to the assignment that she couldn’t open a link to an assigned article. (BTW, the teacher e-mailed everyone a corrected link so she obviously didn’t check her e-mail or she would have been able to access the article.)

In what world was my observation that she should consult the instructor “Abusive”?

I went into the MFA program open minded about the workshops, desperately hoping they would be better than the undergraduate workshops, which were filled with people who would post entirely irrelevant comments on peer-reviews that had nothing to do with the work they were reviewing.

One undergraduate peer-review actually made a bunch of comments on my paper telling me it was “too scary” and “too gory”. It was a young adult romance, no blood, no gore, nothing remotely scary about it. They simply didn’t read it and made a bunch of remarks. – The teacher even followed up with me that their comments were to be ignored entirely.

So, in conclusion, I hate creative writing workshops because people act like spoiled toddlers and can’t take criticism. How on earth do they plan to make it in the publishing business if they can’t take a little constructive criticism?

Alright, guys. My rant is over. I’m sorry.

Until next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

Just a Little Preview…

Today I’m going to share a snippet from my upcoming holiday novel, “A Covid Christmas Story” I can’t wait to share the novel with the world. But for now, enjoy and let me know what you think!

“I can’t believe this!” I exclaimed as everyone was heading to their rooms.

“What?” Sally asked me, annoyed.

“Well, everyone tested positive. Nobody can leave this house for two weeks.”

            “You can’t be serious?” My daughter cried. “I am not missing my date this weekend. It’s my first date! And I’m supposed to go shopping with Karen’s family Sunday. You can’t keep me here locked up for that long. I’ll go crazy!”

            “Sucks to be you!” Zach taunted his older sister and then laughed. “I’ll be in my room.” As he walked away, he was still laughing at her.

            “Moo-oom! You’re just going to let him be mean to me like that?” Sally whined.

            “Sweetie,” I said, exasperated. “That’s the least of our problems right now.”

            “Oh, leave him alone.” Josh said to me, “He’s just being a kid.”

            “Oh, suddenly you have an opinion?” I snapped at him.

            “You know what, I’ll be in my room too. I’ve gotta call Karen anyway.” Sally disappeared down the hall, always quick to dodge an argument between Josh and me.

            “Don’t take your anger out on him. It’s not his fault.” Josh said to me, ignoring Sally entirely.

            “Like you even care?” I crossed my arms over my chest and stared at him, my frustration bubbling into anger.

            “Of course, I care. They are my kids too.” Josh stepped toward me as though challenging me to disagree.

            “Oh yes, like I could ever forget. Nobody would know since you’re never involved in anything but work.” I held my ground and stared at him.

            “Well, someone has to pay the bills, Amanda.”

            “You’re right, and my savings accounts haven’t helped. It’s been all you, all along.”

            “Might as well. You don’t spend that money on anything we need.” That was a lie, and he knew it, but he didn’t back down. This man hadn’t bought groceries, school supplies, or clothing in a decade.

            “We don’t NEED a 60-inch flatscreen, Josh. We don’t NEED a thousand TV channels that nobody watches. We don’t NEED brand new cars every other year.” We’d had this conversation before and gotten nowhere then as well.

            “Well, that didn’t stop you from picking out your new Navigator just six months ago.”

            “The day after you picked out a shiny new Escalade EXT. Yes, if you’re getting a new truck, so am I.”

            “Exactly my point. And now, we have to spend Christmas stuck in this house together because you couldn’t handle home-schooling the kids anymore. God knows we all got it from that school.” His words burned in my head, and I couldn’t hold my temper any longer, despite my best efforts.

            “Are you sure we didn’t get it from your girlfriend?” Josh stopped and stared at me for a minute as emotions flashed across his face.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Alright guys! That’s all for today. I look forward to sharing with you again in the future.

Until next time,

Cathy Marie Bown

%d bloggers like this: