Archive for February, 2010

What Drives You?

What drives you to be better than you are? What drives you to push yourself out of your comfort zone? What drives you to get out of bed on those mornings you want nothing more than to roll back over and go back to sleep? What drives you to be more than someone just floating through life?

Writers are driven to tell their stories. What drives each writer is different, and can differ from story to story, but something drives us to put pen to paper. People write for their children, to make money, to share stories with others, or out of fear that there will still be untold stories when death comes knocking on their door.

Walkers of the 3 Day for the Cure each have something that drives them to take on the insane feat of walking 60 miles in three days. People walk for themselves, for loved ones, for future generations, or to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Watching the Olympics, each one of the athletes competing has something driving them to excel to the point they can compete in the Olympics. Throughout every Olympics, commentators go on and on about the sacrifices made by the athletes to get to where they are now. What drives them to make those sacrifices?

This Olympic season, one particular story has garnered a lot of attention. On February 14, 2010, Alexandre Bilodeau won the first Canadian gold medal at home. He was cheered on by thousands of spectators as he went down in the history books. One cheer stood out to him more than all the others. Frederic Bilodeau, Alexandre’s older brother, stood in the stands watching and cheering as the world realized what Frederic had known for years, his brother was the best. Alexandre, who gave up hockey to ski with his brother, dedicated his gold medal to his brother and let the world know what drives him. “My brother has been an inspiration for me. Growing up with a brother that’s handicapped you learn so much.”

This story strikes a chord with me since, like Frederic, my sister Jessica was born with Cerebral Palsy. Like Alexandre, my growing up with a handicapped sister has taught me so much. Growing up in an environment like mine, you learn that a handicap doesn’t make you different, it just makes you stronger. Whenever I am asked why I am doing something that people may think I am crazy for doing (a.k.a. writing novels or walking the 3 day) I explain about my sister.

Jessica will never walk or talk, and through the years she has lost the ability to do things many of us take for granted in life, like being able to swallow a sip of water. She has gone through many trials and tribulations and comes out the other end with a contagious smile on her face. When I was in high school, her scoliosis had progressed to the point that doctors didn’t think she would survive many more years without a spinal fusion. So the doctors went in with their metal tinker toys (which are really what they look like) and adjusted her spine. Of course Jessica, like her big sister, liked to be difficult and ended up in the .01% that a spinal fusion doesn’t work on. She developed MRSA in her spine and after two years, the doctors could do nothing but remove the tinker toys out of her spine. For almost a month, she had surgery every other day to clean out the infection. They couldn’t even sew up her back, and were stuck stuffing the incision with gauze and taping it down. All through this she had a smile on her face and continued with her positive attitude toward life (though she now gets upset when she sees a doctor in scrubs.) This is when I realized I could do anything I set my mind to and began taking writing seriously.

Though I stopped writing for awhile to pursue and achieve other dreams, I always go back to writing. Stories are something my sister and I can share with each other. Growing up before cars had TVs and DVD players, we would lay down in the backseat of the car during long trips and make up stories while doing hair and makeup for Jessica’s favorite doll. Every Sunday, my mother and I make the trip up to my sister’s home and read stories. It is something that always brought us together and this is what drives me to write.

When contemplating registering for the 3 day, I thought a lot about my sister. What would she do if our roles were reversed? The answer was obvious. She would walk. I’m pretty sure if she could roll her wheelchair by herself she would probably sign up too. When I cross the finish line, I will not only be thinking of those I have lost to cancer, but I will also be thinking about her. Hopefully if scheduling works out, she will be on the other side of that line cheering me on.

I freely admit that everything I do in life is driven by my sister. She taught me that defying the odds is not such a hard thing to do.

So what drives you?

Note: The wonderful Eisley Jacobs wrote a story about Jessica in her Unseen Chronicles which is being run as a serial on her website. Jessica’s story is not up yet, but I strongly suggest everyone check back to read all her stories as they are amazing.


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Why I Walk

For those of you who haven’t heard, I have signed up to fundraise and walk a whopping sixty miles in only three days.  A few people have asked me why I am walking in the Komen 3 Day for the Cure.  In 2003, I found a tumor in my breast by self exam.  Thankfully, they removed it before it could turn malignant.  Men and women around the world have not been as lucky.  I am not just walking to end breast cancer, but to end all cancer.  If we can find a cure for one, we can find a cure for all.

I walk for my sister

My sister, my hero, my inspiration has dealt with more medical issues in her short life than most do in a lifetime.  I walk so that cancer never makes the list of medical issues that she has to deal with.

Grits & Ass (I walk for my family)

Girls Reared In The South – Assertive, Sexy, Smart.  I grew up in a family filled with strong women.  I walk so that they will never have to battle with cancer.

I walk for my grandmother

In 1997, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.  By the time they found it, it had metastasized across her entire body to the point the doctors could not find the point of origin.  She died less than a month later.  I walk in remembrance of her.

I walk for my friends

Over the past few years, several of my friends have battled with all different types of cancer.  To date, only one has survived their battle.  I walk in her honor and remembrance of those who passed.

I walk for my friends’ families

As hard as burying a friend is, it is nothing compared to burying a grandparent, parent, child, sibling or spouse.  I have watched friends deal with this pain.  I walk in remembrance of the family members they have lost.

I walk for future generations

I am now at the age where almost everyone I know is having children.  I walk so that they can grow up in a world without cancer.

If you would like to help me on my journey, please click here to donate.

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Weighing In

Everyone in the writing/publishing industry has been been sounding off on their views on the Amazon/Macmillan scandal, so I decided to add in my two cents.

I have had my kindle for about half a year now and absolutely love it.  I have been introduced to several new authors through various deals that Amazon runs.  It is a great way to find books that are no longer in print and it’s cheaper than buying printed books sometimes.  On the other side of that, I will never take my kindle to read at the beach or the side of a pool and I will definitely never read it during marathon bubble bath sessions.  I firmly believe that mass market paperbacks are priced low so that people can replace them easily in such cases.

So do I really care what the price of books on the kindle are?  No not really.  This is more of a publisher choice.  I will say this, the most expensive book I have ever bought on the kindle was $9.99 and the majority of the books I check out are closer to $6.99.  If publishers want to pull up the price for a book then let them, but the publisher should be aware that they may alienate their readers.  There will always be loyal readers and they will pay whatever to read their favorite authors new book.  (There are several authors I follow that could charge me $50 for a new book and I would gladly wait in line for hours to pay it.)  When it comes to new authors or expanding established authors fan base, I don’t really want to spend that much on a book I may or may not like.

Do I think Amazon should have pulled what they pulled? No.  Do I think Macmillan should increase prices? No, but they have that right.  Do I think that both companies are going to be hurt by this? Sadly, yes.

What do you think?

As a side note, most books that I like on my kindle I end up buying the paper edition as well.

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