Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bringing the A word out

My character Samantha has autism. I’ve read many books where I sense the main character is on the spectrum, but for whatever the reason the author chose not to use the word AUTISM. That’s fine, in my book Sister Sleuths and The Shadowman I just come right out and say it. People are afraid of the A word, but I feel like we should bring it out into the open so it’s not something to be ashamed of. The spectrum is so huge that often people go undiagnosed for years; some, even their whole lives. Many people go through life looking ‘normal’ on the outside, but fighting insurmountable anxieties and fears on the inside. Imagine what children on the spectrum go through every day in a world that they don’t understand, and that doesn't understand them.Today the CDC announced that 1 in 68 American children are on the Autism Spectrum.  Now, more than ever we need to start teaching our children acceptance and inclusion.I work in a bookstore; as a bookseller these are a few of my favorite children’s titles that teach kids that different is just different and not less.

Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton
Tulip Loves Rex by Allyssa Satin Capucilli
Young Readers
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Young Adult

Sister Sleuths and the Shadowman by M.A. Cortez

A portion of the proceeds from this book will be Donated to raise Autism Awareness.

Here are some links to information on autism

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sister Sleuths and The Shadowman ; My Journey There

Many years ago I received the news that a good friend’s granddaughter was diagnosed with Autism. I felt so sad for her. Like many people back then, my main reference of Autism was the movie Rain Man. My heart broke at the thought that my friend would not able to connect with her beautiful little granddaughter the way I had with mine. I prayed for them.
Fast forward ten years-
My husband and I had a very rough year dealing with the loss of a business, then our home, and eventually almost everything we’d worked for. It was a sign of the times. Luckily, all of our children were adults and making it on their own. Many people were fighting the same battle trying to hold on to the lives they had worked so hard to build. Eventually the stress took its toll, and my husband ended up with health issues that put him in and out of the emergency room every weekend for nine months straight. After one visit he contracted a blood infection and I was terrified that I might lose him.
We made the difficult decision to move out if state and try to start over. We hoped it would give him time to heal and we could rebuild our lives. The hardest part of that was leaving the kids and our four grandkids.  They were the joy in our lives. Our oldest daughter had two beautiful children that we saw often. My son and daughter in law already had one beautiful daughter, and had just been blessed with another angelic looking little girl. We had just begun to bond with the baby when we had to move, she was about 8 months old at the time.
Once we were settled in our new home state. The kids came out to visit a few times and it seemed everything was moving forward again.
One evening my son called and as we caught up on news he mentioned that his wife was concerned with the way the baby was developing. We had just seen her a few weeks before and she seemed fine, although she was sleepy a lot of the time.
I told him she was probably just having a hard time with teething and not to worry. “If the doctor thinks she’s fine then I’m sure she is.” I said, thinking that my daughter in law was just a worried new mom. After all, I’d raised my own four kids and had a hand in raising many more. None of the baby’s behaviors seemed all that out of the ordinary to me.
He came to visit again when she was around 18 months. They were in the process getting her on lists to have her tested, at her mother’s insistence.
It wasn’t long after that, that they called and told us they had a diagnosis. She had Autism. Honestly, I didn’t believe it. I thought the doctors were mistaken and that she would be fine with a little extra love and time to ‘catch up’.  I don’t remember exactly what I said to my son, but it was something like, okay, well, that doesn’t change how much we love her.
Then I did what I always do when faced with the unknown. I throw myself into researching everything I can about the subject.  The information wasn’t as readily available as it now. Most of what I found on the internet was about the symptoms of ASD, or medical papers full of jargon written by doctors. None of them contained what I was looking for, and that was hope of recovery. I finally stumbled upon a couple of websites that offered understanding and hope. I learned that I didn’t need to spend all my time hoping and praying for her recovery, not that I ever gave up, but more importantly, I learned that accepting her autism as a part of which she is, was key.  If that was what my baby granddaughter needed from me then I would embrace her and her autism with all the love and support I could muster.
Living in another state, I had already felt the effects of missing a big part of my grandchildren’s lives. In the few short years we were away they were growing and changing and we were becoming strangers. On top of that, our youngest daughter and her husband were expecting their first baby.  I begged my husband to bring me back to be with my babies. When that didn’t work, I begged God to get me back home. He and I had been having a lot of conversations.
The following year circumstances changed and we moved back home. We were able to resume seeing the grandkids and building our relationships with them. As the years pass I continue to learn as much about Autism as I can. I read books, talk to people, read blogs and give support where I can.
What about my little granddaughter? She’s seven years old now, and brings so much joy into our lives. She is brave beyond anything I can imagine. She keeps us all on or toes (no pun intended) with her sometimes sweet, sometimes fiery personality. She’s an amazing little girl and I could not be more proud of her. I am so blessed that I get to be her grandma.
I have great respect for the Autism community. That is one of the reasons I created the character of Samantha. As I wrote, I let Sam tell me who she was, and she pretty much took over the story of the Sister Sleuths and the Shadowman.
I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be Donated to raise Autism Awareness.

Sam and Sandy's play list

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Author Bio:  

Mary Ann Cortez has four grown children and six grandchildren, one, who lives on the Autism Spectrum.Mary Ann lives in Colorado with her husband and is happiest when she is surrounded by her family.This is her first young adult mystery.

Monday, March 17, 2014

New Release By K.C. Sprayberry

Lisa is so ready for a break from the grueling first semester of college. Along with five other friends, she returns to Landry, and hopes to have nothing but fun. Within days, one of the group is the victim of a vindictive stalker, and Lisa herself is now in the man's sights. No matter what she does, she can't shake this person.
Fred has a little problem, but he figures he can take care of it himself, if he achieves fame with his folk rock band, Olney-Oak Lane Sounds. Then he happens to see this beautiful woman, who turns out to be just like every other woman he's met. He takes care of her, and is immediately drawn to Lisa. No one will get between Fred and Lisa, absolutely no one.

On Christmas Eve, Lisa has to fight for her life and sanity after Fred kidnaps her. She turns out to be very different from the other women, in a way he never figured.

YouTube Book Trailer:



Author Bio:
KC Sprayberry started writing young, first as a diarist, and later through an interest in English and creative writing. Her first experience with publication came when she placed third in The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge contest while in the Air Force, but her dedication to writing came after she had her youngest child, now in his senior year of high school.
Her family lives in Northwest Georgia where she spends her days creating stories about life in the south, and far beyond. More than a dozen of her short stories have appeared in several magazines. Five anthologies feature other short stories. She has three books that are Amazon best sellers: Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama's Advice. Her other novels available are: Take Chances, The Ghost Catcher, Family Curse … Times Two, Secret From The Flames, Where U @, The Wrong One, and Grace.

Author Links:

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Friday, March 7, 2014

A Mystery Born from Shadows

I spent most of my childhood in my grandparents care. They raised me. Before I went to live with them in their little house on Spring Street, they lived in this house, which we called the big house. I was only about six years old when they moved to a smaller place, but I have many fond memories of the big white house. I spent hours running around the property with my cousins climbing trees and digging up worms. My sisters and brothers would be there too, on the weekends. It was always quality bonding time. The property surrounding the big house had a million places to hide. Some we knew enough to stay clear of. For me, the house was a safehaven, but it could also be dark and mysterious. The perfect place for a thinker like me.
 The things I remember most about our time there, are the stories, stories of strange happenings, eerie coincidences and supernatural sightings. Some of which I have shared on this blog.
This place has been the setting of many of my dreams and even more nightmares. Now it’s the setting for my very first mystery, (more news on that coming up soon.)
Like much of my family that lived there, the old place is gone, but the memories remain.  I love this old place so I just thought I’d show her off a little.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Get 'er Done

We all know that writers procrastinate. I know several writers and there’s not one in the bunch that is quick to follow through on completing a story. Okay, maybe one, but she’s rare.
I ask myself, why? Why do we put off what must be done; especially when it comes to our writing?
I have all these great story ideas swimming around in my head, just waiting for me to fish them out and give them legs like the Little Mermaid.I tell myself, get them out there into the world, and let them hear your voice and see their beauty. (She does get her voice back, folks.) But instead, I peruse through Facebook, plant virtual crops, or smash cyber candies.
I give myself a good talking to, read all the advice I can find, on buckling down, staying on task, and getting published. I make a pinkie promise that as soon as I get home, I will get to work on my dream, and then, instead, I eat dinner in front of the T.V. and pretend I’ll catch up tomorrow.
Why do we do it? I can come up with a million excuses, but that would mean I’d have to write them down and who has time for that right?
The truth is, my writing friends, it’s all about fear. Fear of rejection, fear of criticism, fear of success, fear of commitment. If we stick to it we might just make it, and, then we’d be obligated to write. We worry that it would take all the fun out of what we love.
I work in a book store and let me tell you, it’s FUN to see people get excited about a book. It’s Fun to recommend a new author and Fun to talk about the new and original stories readers come across.  Fun! With a capital F.
So, let’s not stop at thinking about those ideas. Let’s write those stories down and discover a whole new level of fun. 
That was me falling off my soapbox. Falling with a capital F.