So long, January. Hello, free novella!

January 31, 2014 | 17 Comments »

Well, I’m not sorry to see this month ending.

I love fresh starts in any sense (I even sorta like Mondays – don’t tell anyone!) and after a month full of hospital stays, medicine so expensive even the pharmacist is shocked, stitches, and multiple deaths in the family, I’m happy to tell January goodbye.

One good part of January is that we were able to get Connor’s seizures under better control. We’ve even had a few days with no seizures, which felt luxurious. As a three-year-old boy, Connor already kept us on our toes, but the combo of meds he’s on appear to make him a extra emotional. Little things that he never used to cry over (McKenna getting out of the car before him, not being able to remember the right word) cause him to dissolve into tears. When we’re in public, I often find myself wanting to say to people, “It’s his medicine! He isn’t normally like this.” It’s a good thing that I don’t let strangers dictate my self-worth as a mom.

But thanks to understanding grandparents and preschool teachers, I was able to finish a project that’s been brewing in my heart this fall.

Throwing Stones cover art

 

When readers email me about The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, I frequently get asked about Abbie and Chris. What happened to them? Would they ever work it out? Can you write a spin-off series? And when Abbie made a guest appearance in the Ellie Sweet books, I received even more questions. I was especially touched by an email from a girl named Anna Schaeffer who said:

Every time I saw the name Abbie Ross in Ellie’s story, do you know what I thought of? Abbie Hoyt and Chris Ross from Skylar’s series. The girly, not-so-far-removed-from-my-teen-years part of me immediately started daydreaming about Abbie and Chris in the future.

And after I received Anna’s email, I did some daydreaming too. As I waited to pick my daughter up from kindergarten,  I was noticing how many of the moms are older than me. And I’m thirty. How much harder would it be for a twenty year old to socialize with the other moms?

And the continuation of Abbie’s story blossomed in my mind. Here’s a description of how it turned out:

By now Abbie Hoyt should be used to not fitting in. She hasn’t since she got pregnant at fifteen. But five years later, as her son begins kindergarten, Abbie wrestles anew with where she does—and doesn’t—belong. It’s not with her old high school friends, who are partying their way through college. Or with the other mothers at Owen’s school. They look at her like she carries some kind of disease. Abbie’s not even sure she fits into her sister’s life now that Skylar is getting married.

When wedding festivities throw Abbie back into the company of her ex-boyfriend, Chris Ross, the questions only get worse. Maybe Chris still loves her like she loves him, but what college-age guy wants to be saddled with a five-year-old? And how selfish would she be to ask that of him?

Abbie is used to the world throwing stones—she knows how to protect herself. But can she figure out how to open up and trust again before she throws away a chance at happiness…for good?

On Friday, February 14th Throwing Stones: An Abbie Hoyt novella will be available for free on my website. You’ll be able to read it on your computer, send it to your ereader, read it on your phone, email it to your friends, or all of the above! It’s my gift to every reader who finished the Skylar books and thought, “But what about Abbie?”

With love,

Stephanie

My son has epilepsy

January 10, 2014 | 5 Comments »

201309040020

Connor on his first day of preschool this year. Just a few weeks before his first seizure.

 

“He has epilepsy.”

I’ll be honest—since the doctor said those words to me about my three-year-old son, I’ve felt a bit unsteady on my feet. Like when you’ve been on a boat for a long time and step onto the land, but you can’t quite get the feel for the rhythm of walking.

Connor had his first seizure in September. What was going to be a lazy Monday morning, because it was McKenna’s first day off of school since the semester started, turned to sheer terror when Connor’s little body clenched in such an unnatural way. The morning is still crystal clear in my mind—the desperate sound of my voice pleading, “Oh, Jesus,” when I couldn’t tell if Connor was still alive, my first 9-1-1 call, the way McKenna turned to face the wall when she didn’t want all the firemen to see her crying.

But by that afternoon he was himself. And all the tests came back normal. And I heard story after story about how “these things happen” with toddlers. That fluke seizures are common.

That explanation satisfied me just fine, and I was happy to chalk things up to that.

And then two months later, while in Estes Park, Colorado celebrating Thanksgiving, my father went to retrieve something from the room where Connor was sleeping. He came back downstairs and told my husband and I that Connor was breathing funny.

Seizure number two.

And only several weeks later, we had seizure number three. A big 45-minute one that earned us a room at the local Children’s Hospital for a few days. While there, we had seizures four and five. And that’s when the pediatric neurologist pulled a chair alongside the bed, looked Ben and me in the eyes and said, “He has epilepsy.”

Even with all this, he's still our silly, passionate, and energetic Connor!

Even with all this, he’s still our silly, passionate, and energetic Connor!

Connor, who when he was in utero was described to me as a “very healthy boy.” How could he have something so serious? How was it even possible that we had need for a whole team of pediatric neurologists? For multiple EEGs, CT scans, and an MRI? For an ever-increasing dosage of anti-seizure medicine?

We’ve known several families with kids who dealt with serious medical conditions. Much more serious and scary than ours. Conditions that required open-heart surgeries when their son was just hours old. Or another family we knew had a toddler whose body couldn’t process food, who had to have a feeding tube. That always seemed like a different level of parenting to me. Those parents were, like, real parents. It wasn’t all Pinterest crafts and carpool lanes for them.

Despite the strands of gray in my hair and how I turned thirty last year, I’ve often had trouble thinking of myself as a real adult. Real adults, it’s seemed to me, didn’t stumble over their words when they led meetings. They knew what to do when the kids were arguing over who a particular stuffed animal belonged to. They voted in local elections and got their daily news from someone besides Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.

And real adults would know what to say, what to ask, when the doctor says, “He has epilepsy.”

I’ve been married for almost ten years, have two kids, a dog, six published books, two cars, a mortgage payment, and I’ve gone wine tasting in Napa, California. And yet nothing has made me feel quite so adult as being told my son has epilepsy and watching him battle it multiple times every day.

We’re about to go through another hospital stay and another round of tests to try and pinpoint Connor’s particular brand of epilepsy. This means I’ll likely be slow to respond to emails and comments. It also means that my fiction writing is on hold at the moment. This blog will be the place to find out first when I have a new book coming out and to stay in touch with me in the meantime. You can check back periodically or you can subscribe to the blog feed on the website sidebar where it says, “Receive emails when I update my blog.”

Thank you for your patience with this unique season of life I’m in!

With love,

Stephanie

 

 

Coming soon!

November 16, 2013 | 1 Comment »

While I blog regularly at Go Teen Writers, I’ve been feeling the itch to have a blog of a more personal nature. If you have topics you’d like to see me talk about here, you can contact me and let me know!