Sunday, December 18, 2011

Results of the Book Giveaway

In scanning back over the blog, I realized I hadn't given the final results for the book giveaway on the 9th.

On, 711 books were given away.
On (the United Kingdom Amazon site) 89 books were given away.

A nice, even 800 books. :)

If you or anyone you know got one of these, I would certainly appreciate a review on Amazon, particularly the Amazon UK site. There are no reviews yet in the UK.

As I've mentioned, I'm somewhat conflicted about "selling" the book through this blog. Selling in any form is difficult for me. Yet, I have two boys to raise, so here I go.  If you can spread the word about the book, that would be great.

Too much hard sell?

I also would like to take the opportunity to thank ISoCannotMakeThis Sh! and for their reviews of RAISING ABEL. A positive review from a trauma mama is worth so much to me.

Oh, and by the way, Kirkus Reviews posted a wonderful review of RA. You can see it at

Saturday, December 17, 2011

121711 Maybe I'm happy

      Last night, Abel, Jacob, and I were sitting in the living room watching something, maybe Kung Fu Panda. Abel and Jacob had been wrestling and laughing on the couch. Abel was torturing Jacob by tickling his feet. Jacob was torturing Abel by calling him a big fat turtle (yes, it must have been Kung Fu Panda). When they tired of that, Abel moved over to the arm chair and sat, hands folded, staring at his intertwined fingers. After a minute or two, he looked up at me.
     "I feel weird," he said.
     I got that little lurch in the pit of my stomach. "What do you mean, weird?"
     "I don't know. I'm not tired. I'm not wired up."
     "I'm not mad."
      Thank God.
      He paused for another few seconds. He looked up at me and smiled. "Maybe I'm happy."

     We are going through a very good time right now. Jacob, being 6, is ecstatic that Christmas is in one week.  Abel is "maybe" happy. I am definitely happy... and trying not to be scared by the happiness. It's hard not to let the old training come to the fore, that if you're happy, something has to happen to spoil it. Truthfully, the little bit of fear that I'm experiencing is so much less than in past days. And, Amelia has also finally got it through my thick head that fear doesn't equal death. Fear can just be fear, a little anxiety, and doesn't have to rule my life, or my sons'.
      For those of you in the middle of the bad times, hold onto the image of Abel sitting in that chair, saying those words: "Maybe I'm happy." It can happen. And it can be the most wonderful reward for all the struggles. I always said to Amelia that I could make it through anything if I only knew how the story would turn out. While I know we still have challenges, and no one knows what life will bring, right now, right this minute with Abel stretched out on the couch scratching Squeaker's ears, and Jacob crawling around on the floor giving voices to his Power Rangers, I am so happy. It's all any parent could want.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

121311 A most wonderful gift

When I came home from work yesterday, Abel had cleaned the house. Living room, bathroom, hall, stairs, front porch, kitchen, dining room, even my office. He swept, did dishes, put things away.

He did it just to make me happy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 9th Book Giveaway - Wow!

To all of you who helped spread the word, THANK YOU! I'm a little over halfway through this giveaway day and 368 copies have been downloaded!

I encourage you to tell anyone you want to about this free day. The more copies spread out into the world, the better!

By the way, if you don't have a Kindle, you can download free software from Amazon so that you can use your computer as an e-book reader. Not only can you get RAISING ABEL, you can get any other Kindle e-book. There are loads of them available for free.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

RAISING ABEL (Kindle) should be free tomorrow, Dec. 9th, on Amazon

Amazon has a new program that allows me to put RAISING ABEL up for no charge from midnight (Pacific time) tonight until midnight tomorrow night. I encourage you to spread the word to anyone who might have been interested in reading the story to download it free.

Yes, I'd like to make money off the book. More importantly, I want people to read it. I know it would have helped me when I was going through it to know that someone else had survived all of the ups and downs.

By the way, as of this date, 84 copies of the book have been sold. Being a writer is definitely NOT the way to make a living. :)

120811 I think I've calmed down

     Seeing Abel's birth mother was a shock, there is no denying that. But, it was a shock because I let it be. She has no power over him anymore. She cannot physically hurt him ever again. I know that if he should think to look for her on Facebook, it will be a shock for him. But you know what? He is not that little boy anymore. He is not the out-of-control teen. He is a young man with coping skills better than most adults I know. He will handle it if it happens.

     When Abel was about 14, before he went into the group home, our horses got out onto the highway that ran by our house. I ran out on the highway with lead ropes and halters, shouting at Abel to stand by the gate so that he could close it quickly after I chased them in. Cars are slamming on their brakes, I'm waving frantically to get people to stop, trying to get a rope on at least one horse, and Abel stands in the driveway, not moving.

     "Abel! The gate!"

     He doesn't move. Thankfully, the horses don't care for the screeching cars and headed back through the gates. "Shut it, quick!" He stands, unmoving, with an angry look on his face. At that point, he wasn't the only one with an angry look. I ran down, grabbed the gate and swung it closed.

     "What the hell? Why didn't you close the gate?"

     "Don't tell me what to do," he said, and walked back to the house. I was furious, frustrated, and my heart was still pounding from dodging cars and flying hooves. I could not understand why he couldn't do that one small thing, particularly in an emergency. I don't think he could have explained it to me.
     Leap forward in time to last night. For several days, I had heard a cat meowing plaintively from across the street, but I couldn't figure out where the sound was coming from and I thought that whoever owned the cat would take care of whatever problem there was. Jacob went to a school function with friends last night, and as their car drove away, I heard the cat crying again. This time, I walked across the street as one of my neighbors came out. We quickly realized that the cat was up in a very tall, very bushy pine tree and that it had been stuck up there for several days. I called animal control, but they couldn't come out until the next day. I just couldn't stand the idea of that cat being up there hungry and thirsty, so I went home and yelled upstairs for Abel.
      "There's a cat stuck up in a tree. I need your help." And he came. He groaned a bit, but he came. And he and I and a couple of neighbors spent the next hour shining flashlights up in this tree, hauling out different ladders, carrying an open, dripping tuna fish can up into the branches to lure it down, and finally, having the great satisfaction of rescuing that cat. We both went home flushed with pleasure. It didn't matter that he'd had to leave his computer game. He sat in the livingroom with me and said two or three times how great it felt to save that cat.
      He is not the same boy or man that he used to be. And as I see his heart growing to love his brother, his friends, and even some stray cat, I also see the strength in him growing to withstand the challenges ahead, even the challenge of confronting the knowledge that his birth mother still lives in this world.
      Now if I can just confront that knowledge without wanting to form a ninja band of trauma mamas to hunt her down...

Friday, December 2, 2011

120211 What do I do with this anger?

For some reason, it never occurred to me before to look for Abel's birth mother on Facebook. I just searched, and I found her. I feel sick to my stomach. The page doesn't reveal where she is or anything about her life. I'm terrified that Abel will decide one day to look for her. And should I be terrified? Should I even tell him that she is there and there is a way he could contact her? He doesn't want to get a drivers license because he's afraid he'd search for his father and wipe him out. What would he want to do to Justine? What do I want to do to Justine? After our reading yesterday of a few pages from RAISING ABEL, we had a wonderful day. He seemed to have relaxed in some way, actually given himself a break from the expectations he and society heap on a young man of 21.

At least for now, I'm not going to tell him. I've got to let this simmer for awhile (more like boil!) Any suggestions on how to handle this would be appreciated.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

120111 Abel finally asked to see the book

     This morning, rather out of the blue, Abel asked for a copy of RAISING ABEL. From the beginning, despite my urging him to read the manuscript, he has refused saying that he didn't need to. I was a bit surprised, therefore, when he asked for a copy, but I didn't hesitate to give him one. It is his story.
     "Are you going to read the whole thing?" I asked.
     "Nah, I'll probably just skim through." 
     That sent up red flags. "Honey, that would be a mistake. You might pick something out of context and not realize why I wrote it the way I did."
     "No, it'll be fine."
     "Ok, then, do me a favor. Read the prologue first and tell me what you think."
     He leafed through quickly, found it, started to read and then looked up at me, startled. "I never said that."
     "Yes, you did," I said gently. 
     "No, I didn't," he insisted.
     "Honey, I took notes at the time. It's what you said."
      He went back to reading, but I could tell he didn't believe me. "I didn't have blond hair."
      "Yes, you did. I've got the pictures. Don't you remember me calling you my little golden-haired boy?" (I did call him that. I was pretty sentimental...  Still am.)
       He shook his head and kept reading, and laughed at the last line.
       Ok, that wasn't so bad.
       We chatted a bit longer about the book, and I encouraged him to call me at work if anything started to come up. It started to become clear to me that he was afraid the book was a listing of all that he had done wrong growing up. Oh, so far from the truth. To me it is the story of an truly extraordinary young man who had the strength, courage, and heart to survive all that was done to him with his soul intact. So, to demonstrate this, I asked him to listen while I read one very short chapter.
      The chapter is the one where I first saw him cry, when he told me that even if his birth parents came and took him away, that he would come back and find me.  We didn't get past the first few lines.
         “My Daddy took me to the park.”

          We were in my room. Abel was sitting on the floor near my bed playing with a Superman figure while I folded clothes and stacked them in piles on the patchwork quilt.

          “Did you have fun?” I asked.

           He shook his head as Superman came down with a crash on the floor. “He left me there. That wasn’t very nice.”
           I folded a pair of jeans,

      And that's when he cut me off. "He left me there?"
      "Yes, sweetheart." And I tried to keep reading.
      "He left me at the park."
      "Yes." I tried again to continue.
      He stood. "I'm out of here," he said and walked out of the room, up the stairs, and I heard his door slam shut. 
       "What's wrong with Abel?" Jacob asked.  And here is introduced one of the biggest problems I face when dealing with Abel's past and his behavior: How do you explain it to a 6-year-old? We all live together. It's obvious that Jacob's picked up a lot from Abel's and my interactions. I can't in any way pretend that we have a "normal" life, yet how much can you or should you disclose to a little boy about the horror that his beloved big brother went through? In choosing to read that one chapter out loud, I thought I had chosen a fairly gentle excerpt showing a relatively less horrific event in Abel's childhood. I deliberately did not ask Jacob to leave the room when I started to read.  And yet, it effected Abel so strongly he couldn't bear to stay in the room. And Jacob's first statement after, "What's wrong with Abel," was, "I'm sorry Abel didn't like your book."
        "Oh honey," I said, "it wasn't that. It was that Abel's birth mommy and daddy weren't... They were... They didn't take very good care of him when he was little."
         "Why did his daddy leave him in the park?"
         "I don't know, honey."
         "Ok," he said. "I'm hungry."  So for him, it was a little blip in the day that I'm sure he will file away in that brain of his. But I thought after, why did I choose to let him hear a section that would be one of the biggest fears in a little boy's life, being left behind? Am I doing the right thing even trying to let him know this little bit? Where is the blasted instruction manual that tells you what to do and what to say and when to do and say it?
         I went upstairs and Abel came out of his room. "That really made me mad," he said.
         "I know it did."
         "I didn't remember that. I wanted to break everything, but I didn't."
         "I know."
         "See, this is one of the reasons I don't get my driver's license. I get so mad that I'm afraid I'd get in the car and go find him and I'd tear him apart."
          "Me too," I said. "No, really. Even people who have read the book and don't even know you have commented that they'd like to find him and Justine..."
          "Yes, really! Honey, don't you see that I wrote this book to... to honor your experience, to keep the memory of it so that everyone could know how incredible you are to have survived what you did. You are incredibly strong to have made it through and to be the person you are today..."
          "Yeah, 21 and no job and living in my room..."
          "With friends and a mother and brother who adore you and to have made the progress you have! Do you know how many people that went through even a tenth of what you did end up in prison or worse? Picture this: picture me taking Jacob to the park and I get pissed off, or whatever happened, and I leave him there. I never do anything else wrong to him except that. How would that ONE event effect his life? And you had multiple stuff done to you every single day of your life?"
          We were standing in the upper hallway and he was facing the window looking out up into the huge oak that grows on the south side of our house. The morning sun reflected through and showed me what he didn't want me to see, I'm sure: the tears standing in his eyes.
          "I guess I can sort of see why I've done some of the stuff I've done..."
           "...I'm still not proud of some stuff but I never hurt anyone."
            I gave him a big hug and a kiss as he squirmed away.
            I'm so proud of that
           Little steps. Everyday it's just little steps.