Month: April 2015

DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME ONLY 99c 4/27-5/1/15

DYFAM99centSalePin

Yes, friends, it’s true!  Don’t You Forget About Me Kindle edition is only 99 cents all this week, April 27-May 1.  What’s DYFAM about?

Mary Catherine Whelihan made it out of Walkerville alive once before.  Can she pull it off this time?  Bullies, sexual harassment, finding a corpse in the local creek… Cate’s childhood in 1980s Walkerville was murder!  So what could possibly tempt her to return?  A cryptic email from Eugene Marcasian, MD, her grade school crush might do the trick.  Can Cate and Gene find the cause of the mysterious illness afflicting nearly all of the girls in their graduating class, including Cate herself?  Or will corporate bullies continue to take down anyone who gets in their way?  More importantly, can Cate stay alive long enough to get one more slice of tomato pie?

Excerpt from Don’t You Forget About Me:

“Doesn’t signing in at the Technology Annex check-in desk blow the whole cloak-and-dagger bit?”

Gene furrowed his brow for a moment. “I’m not looking for cloak-and-dagger. I just want to buy enough time to get some answers and put a stop to whatever is making people sick. But Mary Catherine—I don’t know what kind of wasp nest we might be kicking at here.”

“Nice image.” My stomach knotted.

Gene gently but firmly grasped me by my upper arms. “I’m not kidding. If what our coffee shop friend said is true…”

I picked up where he trailed off, “Then Walkerville wasps carry some pretty wicked stingers.”

Gene nodded. “I’m willing to give it all to find the truth. I’m not sure I want you to.”

He was right. This wasn’t picking up rocks in Quaker Creek and looking for water pennies. This was digging up what two potentially deadly forces—Big Pharma and The Mob—wanted kept buried.

I forced myself to look directly into his eyes. “Search softly,” I said, “and poke with a big stick.”

Praise for Don’t You Forget About Me

“This book has all the elements that make a book addictive: a compelling story told well with characters who are unforgettable. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll stay up all night reading.”

Sarah Reinhard, author, SnoringScholar.com and A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy

This captivating murder mystery made me laugh, cry, and crave Italian food; ‘80s pop tunes are still stuck in my head. If you like mysteries that offer a good mix of suspense and science, don’t miss this book.”

Barb Szyszkiewicz, franciscanmom.com

“Don’t You Forget About Me…is a rollicking fun and exciting cozy murder mystery.  The author’s strong and clever command of the written language makes this book an entertaining page-turner. I recommend this highly-enjoyable, cozy, clean, lively mystery to all readers!”

Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author, Frozen Footprints

A quirky, fun, mystery-romance that will tickle your funny bone while making your hair stand on end.

AnnMarie Creedon, best-selling author, Angela’s Song

“It’s easy to identify and sympathize with protagonist Cate Whelihan as she returns to her hometown and faces not only the classmates who bullied her in school but also her junior high sweetheart and fellow nerd, Gene.  Readers will be chuckling one moment…and biting nails the next as she faces threats, corrupt police, and the business end of a gun.”

Daria Sockey, author, The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours

Get your copy today!

Romantic Suspense for Only 99 Cents!

DYFAM99centSalePin

Romantic Suspense for only 99 cents!

Today (starting around 8am Pacific time, I believe) through Friday, May 1, the Kindle edition of Don’t You Forget About Me will be on sale for only 99 cents!

Tell your neighbors!  Tell your friends!  Tell your enemies, and they’ll become so grateful to you that they’ll become your friends!

7QTs | Infertility Awareness Week

While our journey took/is taking many more years than this one, it’s still familiar, still hope-filled, and still firm on how humans are NOT a commodity to be demanded but a gift to be accepted… and sometimes that gift is ourselves and needs healing.

perfectlytara

This week is Infertility Awareness week, so here are 7 quick takes on the subject of infertility.

7QT Infertility Awareness

1. When my husband and I were engaged, people would constantly ask us about kids. Our standard response was, “We’d love a two-deep football team, but we’re open to however many children God gives us.” It never occurred to me that this saying could mean that God would choose to give us FEWER children than we desired. We started Natural Family Planning during our engagement, and after a few months and a referral to a NaPro doctor, we learned that my hormone levels meant that conceiving naturally could be nearly impossible. We were told, however, that typically this type of fertility issue could be treated with hormone injections.

2.The grief that followed that visit was intense – I put on a happy face, but there was something fundamental that shifted in me that day…

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Picked Last for Gym Class

One of the themes of Don’t You Forget About Me is the long-term effects of bullying.  When Allison Gingras interviewed me recently for her show A Seeking Heart, I talked about how DYFAM grew out of how much I have learned about forgiveness and that had I attempted to write that book even ten, fifteen years ago, it would have come out as a nanni-nanni-boo-boo vengeance novel.  Now, it is true:  I have long forgiven anyone who hurt me in grade school.

However, I just this morning noticed something that has stuck with me, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

We are preparing to move.  We hope.  That’s another topic for another day, though.  We’ve lived out here in the Middle of Nowhere for nearly nine years now.  It’s been a rough nine years.  It’s really hard for me to connect with people to begin with.  I’ve always been “weird,” for lack of a better term.  Now, some of you might want to dismiss that with, “Heyyyy, everybody should be their own kind of weird.” Or, “Thank GOD you’re weird! You’re just better than all those normal people,” or whatever our supercali-individualistic society tells us to tell ourselves when we don’t “fit in.”  That’s fine.  That’s all good.  I have no regrets about who I am.  I’ve come to see that the very characteristics that make me a terrible BFF girl friend are making me an awesome wife and a formidable parent.

However.  I may be bad at being a friend.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want friends.  So what I’ve done is join things.  Clubs.  Bible studies.  Service projects.  And if there’s nothing to join, I start something (out here, that happens a lot).  As a result, people find themselves working alongside me sometimes.

However, they don’t pick me.  They choose the activity, but they don’t choose me.

I don’t go to playgrounds or libraries or whatever and start chatting up people,  because my life experience has taught me that those same people wouldn’t pick me. Given the choice, anyway.  That experience started early.  I was always picked last for gym class.  Now I am pretty sure that nothing would have changed that unless some grownup had noticed that I’m dyspraxic and could have used some early intervention OT & PT.  Whatever.  The fact remains that I was always picked last.  “Pick a partner” was the worst thing I ever heard in my schooling career, even through high school, where my experience was markedly better.  I even broke out in cold sweats over it.  I think the most precious gift anyone ever gave me was in Acting I in college.  Our professor assigned us our first two-person scene project, and before the slightest icy bead could form on my spine, a classmate turned around and said, “Erin, you wanna work with me?”  I couldn’t have been more shocked.  Had there been another Erin in the class, I would’ve assumed he meant her.  I still think I said, “Who, me?”

Anyway, these days, I organize activities and programs and events and join various formal groups… and today I realized that’s because I know nobody will pick me.  It’s a hard realization to make, honest and hard.

As I said to Allison in the radio interview mentioned above, I know the poison of self-pity.  I know its danger.  Thankfully I also know that Jesus sends this kind of pain to those He loves because He trusts us with it:  He wants us to know how much it hurts not to be picked.  How often do we not pick Him?

It’s okay to be lonely as long as you’re free.

That’s the only reason I can think of that this kind of pain keeps coming to me, over and over again. Today I have to admit that, no matter how many things I join or form or organize, I will have this pain until I am picked.  I want to be chosen.  And that, my friends, is just another sign that is supposed to point us away from this passing world and towards heaven.  Doubt that?  Go read John 15: 16.  It’s all about the love that is, was, and ever will be.  Love for you.  And, I think, love for me.

Have you had this pain, too?  How have you compensated for it?  Is that working out for you or not so much?  What is one thing, one scary thing, you can do differently to live a life of someone who has been chosen?  

Easter Vigil, 11 Years Later

Conversion to Catholicism

DH & myself at Philly’s Cathedral of Sts Peter & Paul, 2004.

“What do you think about going to Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral?”

I’m pretty sure I didn’t just laugh:  I outright snorted in derision.  It was in the very late 1990s, maybe very early 2000s.  My husband, my “practicing agnostic physicist,” my skeptical partner was driving us around our old neighborhood in Philadelphia.  I don’t even remember where we were going, but I’m pretty sure it was not a day we were not driving to one of our many doctor appointments.

“Oh,” he answered my snort.  “I thought you might be into that kind of thing.”

“Look,” I said.  “The Easter Vigil Mass is the longest Mass in a whole world of long Masses.  The only way to get me to one of those things would be if you were converting and I were your sponsor.  You convert and pick someone else to be your sponsor, that’s fine.  I’ll still love you.  But that is the only way you could get me to go to that Mass:  if I absolutely had to.

The subject dropped–for years, really.  It’s not hard to imagine why, given my response to his question.  Those were also the years of trying to find help for our infertility and getting nowhere with the traditional medical establishment. We came to marriage, two broken people from two broken homes.  The odds were so against us.  But from the moment I met the man who would become my husband, I saw in him a certain humility and tenacity that I’d never found before in another human soul. So while he might not have had any faith in any god besides science and provable truths, I knew I had faith in him.

But those years were hard and surely tested that humility and tenacity in ways we never could have expected.  Empty arms are a heavy burden.  We set our sights on adopting from China, a dream I’d had since the time I was in third grade, but I was not yet 30, the age China required of their adoptive parents.  We waited.

During that wait, for our fifth wedding anniversary, we decided to take a road trip.  We drove in our little red car up to Montreal.  At a little hole in the wall Greek place, we had the best sangria and tzatziki we’ve ever tasted and watched the sun set.  The next day we did some walking and checked out the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre.  We didn’t do the traditional pilgrimage, but we picked up a holy card and we attended Mass together in French.  He understood neither the Mass nor the French, but as with many other things that have happened in our shared life, I could follow along well enough to keep us both from embarrassing ourselves.

That was September.  I prayed for an easy wait for our adoption, for enough money to make it happen, for patience.  We could start the process as early as six months before my thirtieth birthday.  That would be the following May.  We waited.

The first weekend of May, 2003, I was taking half of Thursday and all of Friday weekend off, first to go to a dentist appointment and then to prepare for a writers conference that Saturday… or so I told my office mates.  It wasn’t a lie, per se, because I did have a dentist appointment, and I was going to prepare for a conference, but I also was going to spend most of Friday putting in our orders for our birth certificates and setting up appointments with a social worker so we could get our application together and submitted exactly on my half birthday at the end of the month.

There was one problem, though, with the dentist appointment.  My period was missing.   I was certainly no stranger to long cycles (see above, re: infertility), and I’d been having my usual spotting and “warning cramps.” So in the wee hours of that Thursday, I woke up with a full bladder and took a pregnancy test, just so I could reassure my dentist that there was no chance I was pregnant and they could go to town on my X-rays.

Alas, that reassurance wouldn’t be happening.

I tiptoed back into our bedroom, test in hand, and gently shook my husband’s shoulder. He woke up.

“You’re either going to be really irritated that I woke you up,” I said, “or really happy.”

Shock mingled with joy.  The next day on my lunch break, first I cancelled my dentist appointment then called my regular doctor.  I said I had a positive home pregnancy test, but I was having some bleeding and cramping.  They called me in for a blood test just to get a better idea of what was happening.  The next day, when they called with my results, they said my HcG levels were 17,655, which was nice and high and indicative of a healthy pregnancy.

“So do I need to worry about the spotting and cramping?”

Pause.  “Let me talk to your doctor.  Can you hold?”

I did.  The nurse came back.  “Erin, you need to go the ER.”

“What?!”

Calmly, she explained, “With your medical history, it sounds like you may be having an ectopic pregnancy.”

Okay, I knew what that meant, but I still had a moment of stupidity.  “Can’t I just wait until Monday and see if it goes away?”

The stunned nurse was silent in the face of my moment.  “Um, no, you really can’t.”

I drove down to the hospital where my husband worked and he met me in the ER shortly after I was brought back.  We waited.  They wheeled us up for an ultrasound.

“Have you had your HcG level checked?” the technologist asked.

“Yeah.  It’s 17,655.”

Pause.  “17,655.” Pause.  “Any incidence of twins in the family?”

“Yes,” my husband said.  “On my side.”

“On your side!” I shouted.  “Why am I just finding this out now?”

Everybody laughed, then I added that I had twins on both sides of my family as well.  Nothing more was said about that.  The exam began.  Minutes later, the technologist marked one dark spot on the screen “1” and another right next to it “2.”  I remember looking at the screen and (another moment of stupidity) thinking, “Wow, I didn’t know my ovaries were that close together.”

The exam ended.  They wheeled me back down to the ER.  We waited.

The wait was relatively short for an urban ER.  The resident came back and said, “Well, you’re the fastest ‘bleeding and pregnant’ case I’ve ever had.”

“Um, okay?” I replied.

He took a deep breath.  “Well, you’re definitely pregnant.”

I nodded, relieved, overjoyed.  “Okay.”

“The pregnancy is definitely not ectopic.”

“Okay.”

“You’re about five weeks along–”

“Okay.”

“–and ultrasound found two egg sacs.”

I blinked at the resident.  “Okay?”

He waited for me to get it. Apparently it was my third moment of stupidity for the day.  When my face didn’t change, he finally said, “That means a twin pregnancy.”

It’s not like the hints hadn’t been dropped in abundance by this point, but I still just gawked at him.  And guess what I said. I was too shocked to do anything but say, “Okay.”

The resident gave me–not my but our discharge papers.  As I got dressed to leave, I heard my husband, my practicing agnostic physicist, my skeptical partner say, “Well, I guess God called my bluff.”

I turned slowly to face him.  “Your–God–your what?”

“Around the time of our anniversary, I told God that if we got pregnant, I would go to RCIA.”

I just stared at him for what felt like a month before I sputtered out, “Does this mean you have to go twice now?”

We laughed.  Then we went and got hoagies for dinner.  I was, after all, eating for three.

St. Anne de Beaupre, whose shrine we had visited on our anniversary trip, is a title for the mother of Mary. The grandmother of Jesus herself experienced the long wait for a child, the heavy burden of empty arms. Through her intercession, barely requested, God brought not one soul but three into the Body of Christ.

Apparently Jesus loves to give His Grammy stuff, too.

I often think of this story and how God worked a miracle to open the heart of my husband to the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith.  However, for the first time I’m appreciating how my own heart has been stretched as well.  I am writing this in the minutes before we all go down for an afternoon nap so that we can attend Easter Vigil Mass:  all five of us plus my long time BFF, another convert to Catholicism.  It’s going to be the longest Mass in a whole world of long Masses.  And we’re taking three kids, one of whom is a very wiggly, chatty five year-old.  If we get through this, it’ll be a miracle.

That’s okay.  It won’t be our first.

From our family to yours, a Blessed Easter.

Why we're taking 3 kids toEaster Vigil