Love Makes a Family

Adoption makes families.

My daughter and her husband have wanted to be parents for a while now. They decided, about a year ago, that they would like to become parents through adoption.

The process wasn’t easy, and there was fundraising involved. (Adoption isn’t cheap.)

But last week, thanks to a young woman who unselfishly decided that she was not in the best place to raise the child she carried right now, they became parents.

They are besotted, and so are the rest of us – the two sets of grandparents for whom this is the first grandchild, three uncles, one aunt and assorted other loved ones. Friends are ecstatic for them.

And all this because a mother-to-be chose to let our adult children become the parents of the child she bore. I cannot think of a more wonderful thing for that young woman to have done. It can’t have been easy, either the decision or the actual parting with the child, but she did it, and she and some of her family got to hand the baby girl over to my daughter and son-in-law and see the sheer joy and love that this child brought them. I wish they could have seen the rest of us, too. Talk about overwhelming love – I’m surprised the entire state did not glow with it.

I have pictures of my daughter holding her little girl for the first time, and my son-in-law with the same smitten look I remember from my husband’s face when he held our kids for the first time. This little girl is already adored, and will feel the love from all of us as she grows.

Love makes families. Blood, not necessarily – but love always does. Love wins. And the unselfish love of a woman who places her child with others so that they may love her is an amazing thing.

Thank you for that gift you gave our family, birth mother of my little granddaughter. Thank you.

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Happy Birthday – A Gift to You from Me!

Just a quick post to let you know that in honor of my birthday, I decided to give everyone a present. My book of short stories, “There Goes the Neighborhood,” is free today and tomorrow, July 28 and 29, in Kindle format, from Amazon.

These are modern urban fantasy short stories, and there should be something in there to please almost everyone. I have funny stories, chilling stories, and a few touching ones as well. Please take advantage of this, and download your copy. Then let me know which story is your favorite, either here in the comments, or in the reviews at Amazon!

If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry – you can download a free Kindle reader app for your computer or mobile device and read away: http://www.amazon.com/There-Goes-the-Neighborhood-ebook/dp/B006KUUWUC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375024278&sr=8-1&keywords=jane+w.+wolfinbarger

The Curse of Imagination

I have a very vivid imagination; that is quite clear to anyone who has read my stories. And most of the time, I try to use its powers for good, not evil. But occasionally, it gets away from me and veers over to the dark side, usually at the most inopportune times.

Bad-news times are always inopportune, and these seem to be when my imagination is most likely to kick over its traces and head for the swamp.

A few weeks ago, we found out that my husband Pat has prostate cancer. It is still very, very small – so small they said that if it were any smaller the biopsy would not have found it. The pathology report gave it a 6 on the Gleason scale, a method of rating prostate cancer, which basically means they think it is neither the least aggressive nor the most aggressive type. It is highly treatable, and we have been told we have plenty of time to weigh our options, see other doctors and decide how we wish to proceed.

My imagination immediately took off for the lowest portion of the landscape it could find. With my rational brain chasing along after the thing, trying desperately to rein it in with words like “caught early” and “highly treatable,” my emotional brain was being dragged along by the runaway imagination and screaming, “My God, my husband has cancer!!”

It has spent far too much time since then lost in the murk, fueled by fear and torturing me with worst-case scenarios and words ending in “-carcinoma.” My rational brain has done a lot of research, from which my imagination has managed to pick out the bad bits about side effects – it immediately rolled those into its arsenal.

My emotional brain did break free from the errant imagination long enough to send up an SOS to family and friends, and they have rallied around both Pat and me in a truly heart-warming way, tossing us both lifelines of love and encouragement. And slowly, my imagination is pulling itself out of the swamp it buried itself in.

And Pat and I will, with the help of all the wonderful people who care about us, find our way through this mess. At least we have the gift of time to figure out the best approach for Pat as an individual. We’ve already made it through his heart attack ten years ago, and a second stent five years ago – both of which were, in reality, much more of a threat to his life than this, so we know we can do this. But frankly, dealing with medical crises does not get any easier with repetition.

Pat will be blogging about this journey, over at his blog, Wolfyworld. Wolfyworld is worth checking out anyway; Pat has something interesting to say about many things.

A friend and fellow writer mentioned that this would be a good opportunity to find out how writers do function through crises, as I was totally paralyzed in my ability to write for a few days. (Except for poetry; I write bad, sentimental poetry when I am stressed. My wayward imagination is happy to supply unpleasant images for that sort of thing.)

What I am finding that I will need to keep my imagination very, very busy during this time, now that I am managing to lure it back within reach again. I will need to harness it quickly, and then keep it distracted with other things so it doesn’t run away with my emotional brain once more.

I really don’t like that swamp it heads for.

The Door, My New Novella, is Now Available on Amazon

The Door is now available on AmazonMy novella,The Door, is now available on Amazon, for just $.99.

Follow the adventures of Liz and her friends Jon and Rob as they get drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding a marvelous door that Liz has spied on a walk. The door is bright green, covered with intricate carvings, and has dragons carved around the doorknob – dragons that move if you take your eyes away for a few seconds.

Danger, magic and mystery await the three – things that will change the way they look at the world forever!

Been There…

I read the other day on GeekMom that author Peter David had a stroke right before New Year’s. He is in a rehab facility now, after a while in the hospital. I was disturbed by the news, of course, and did what his wife requested – I went out and bought some of his e-books, to help the family with medical expenses. (Even after insurance, medical catastrophes like this are not cheap.) You can do the same. Here is what his website says:

The most direct way is to buy his books from Crazy 8 Press (via ComicMix) or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites. These are books that he gets the money from directly and the most per book.

His current Crazy 8 Press books are:

Pulling Up Stakes Part 1
Pulling Up Stakes Part 2 (Brand new)
This is one novel broken into two pieces. This is the cover blurb
Sick of vampire books? Movies? TV shows? Yeah. So are we. Sick of the entire unlife of vampires? Yeah. So is Vince Hammond. Unfortunately, Vince is in it up to his (wait for it) neck. Because Vince is a young vampire hunter who lives with his vampire hunter mother in an entire community of vampire hunters, who in turn are part of a cult of vampire hunters going back all the way to the French Revolution, which many believe to be an uprising of the poor against the rich but was actually a massive purging of vampires from the French nobility (hence the guillotine)

The Camelot Papers
A powerful ruler who’s considered by many to be simple-minded and vacuous and has serious father issues. A no-nonsense, polarizing woman who favors pants suits and pursues dubious agendas involving social needs. A remarkably magnetic leader of men with a reputation as a skirt-chaser. A scheming, manipulative adviser who is constantly trying to control public perceptions. A man seen as the next, great hope for the people, except there are disputes over his background and many contend he’s not what he appears to be.
George W? Hillary and Bill? Karl Rove? Obama?
Try Arthur Pendragon, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, and Galahad.
Whatever you think of the state of today’s politics, The Camelot Papers shows you just how little matters have changed in the past thousand years or so. The Camelot Papers presents a fresh perspective on Arthurian legend by using modern day sensibility and combining it with a classic tale to bring a new insight into iconic characters.

The Hidden Earth Saga of which there are two published and the third is in the works.

Darkness of the Light (book 1 of the Hidden Earth saga)
Height of the Depths (Book 2 of the Hidden Earth saga)

These are science fiction mixed with mythological creatures and the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance. Big epic sweeping books with those great characters that Peter is famous for writing.

There are Print on Demand for all these books if you want a paper copy rather than electronic.

They ask that you buy these books specifically because they produce the most revenue for Peter and his family.

I was reading David’s wife, Kathleen’s, updates, and, while concerned, I was doing fine until I read one specific entry. Then I cried. Kathleen asked, “How do you tell a ten-year-old that her father may never be the same?”

I was that child, forty-two years ago. The circumstances were a little different, granted; I was eleven and it was my mother who had the stroke, but I remember the adults in my world struggling with that question even as I asked it. Would my mother be able to do things she used to? Would she once more be the same Mom I had always known? I asked it again and again, and was always told that they didn’t know.

It was a pivotal point in my life.

In our small town, my mother did not benefit from immediate physical therapy, and her stroke, a massive one caused by a blood clot, affected her left side. Eventual physical therapy (begun over a month later) gave her the ability to walk with a brace and cane, though her left hand and arm never regained any use, but she eventually returned to teaching math from a wheelchair. She lived another forty full, busy years, dying two years ago at the age of eighty-nine.

My family found that we have to work with what life hands us, and nothing ever remains the same for any length of time. Some changes are just pressed on us more quickly than others.

When I read of Peter David’s wife struggling with how to tell their youngest child about her father, I could not stop the tears. I wanted to hug them both, and tell them that I understood in a very personal way.

From the blog entries, it sounds as though he is on the road to recovery, with time and physical therapy. I am glad for them from the bottom of my heart. Now, please go and buy a book or two – both to help them out and because the books are good!

My Dream Caught Up with Me

When I was eight or nine, back in the 1960’s, I tried to invent an e-reader.

The one I envisioned was a simple back-lit screen that would allow a reader to view a page on a roll of film, scrolling along to read the book. Nothing fancy, but I was intrigued by the idea. Is it any wonder that I embraced the new technology whole-heartedly when it became reality?

My idea came about like this. My father had a workshop in our garage, and he put together a little workbench for me, at an appropriate height, with smaller versions of real hand tools and lots of wood scraps and other junk that he thought I would like. I spent a large amount of time out there, trying to invent things that I had the imagination, but not the skill, to create. Among the junk Dad had given me were several open-topped metal boxes, about eight inches on a side and four inches deep. (Since Dad was an electrician, I imagine they were some sort of circuit boxes, but they were the source of many hours of entertainment for me and my imagination.)

Even back then I was a voracious reader. Something about the metal box spoke to me, and I could just see a spool of book mounted on the box, scrolled along as one read. And I knew, to my dismay, that I did not have to ability to make what I imagined.

I told my mother what I wished I could make, and she laughed a bit – who would want to buy a book that you had to use something else to read? I still thought it was a good idea.

Perhaps a decade later, I read one of James H. Schmitz’s Telzey Amberdon stories, and in it, I found my reader. Telzey had entire law library on book spools, which she read on her viewer. A whole library in her travel bag! Now that was what I was talking about! But it still did not exist in the real world.

I had to wait another few decades for that.

I felt a very personal sense of triumph when e-readers became available. Two years ago, I got mine. It did not take me long to start stuffing it with books. My only regret is that I don’t have a larger book budget!

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy my traditional books, and read quite a few, especially from the public library. My house is still filled with books. (I think my family gave me the e-reader to cut down on at least some of the stacks of books in the house.) But now I can carry my library, or at least a portion of it, with me in my purse.

It’s everything I imagined at the age of nine, and more. Never mind that I didn’t end up inventing the thing personally. I still have a personal sense of triumph at the success of e-readers – a dream of mine come true.

A Joint Effort – ‘Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas’

Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas book coverChristmas is a family time. And in our house, we celebrate family times with family activities – like putting out a book of zombie Christmas stories.

My husband Pat has decided to join me in the world of fiction.

Pat isn’t new to writing; he is a journalist – although for the last few years a natural knack with computers and the internet has taken his job in a slightly different direction. But he has kept his hand in, and now he has written some fiction that he is choosing to publish with some of mine. I am delighted.

Pat has been right there all along, encouraging me first to write, and then to publish.

He is also the one who introduced me to the delights of speculative fiction, lo, those many years ago.

It was the spring of 1977. I was a freshman at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I had sipped from the cup of fantasy fiction with Oz, Narnia, fairy tales, Middle Earth and myths, but that was about it. And then I met this guy…

Pat eventually took me with him to the comic book store in Boulder, Mile High, which, at that time, was a storefront that also carried an incredible selection of science fiction and fantasy, both new and used, along with comic books, both mainstream and the underground comics of that era  (like ElfQuest – which I collected – and Mr. Natural and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.)

Speculative fiction was exploding, and it was all there on the shelves waiting for me.

And Pat was more than happy to make suggestions from his favorites.

I was sunk, and never even knew what hit me. Thanks to Pat, I was soon reading Niven and Pournelle and Heinlein. I wandered the back alleys of Lankhmar with Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser. I found Anne McCaffrey and Patricia McKillip and Katherine Kurtz, and a friend introduced me to Roger Zelazny’s Amber series. I was no longer sipping from that cup of science fiction and fantasy, I was guzzling from it and coming back for refills. I haven’t stopped since. I have veered more into the reading of fantasy, over the years, but other than that, I haven’t slowed down. And what I have chosen to write is primarily fantasy.

Eventually, we decided to combine our book collections – and our lives – and proceeded to add to both books and family. Four kids and a basement full of books later…

When I actually decided to start putting my stories down a few years ago, Pat was right there, cheering me on and doing anything he thought would encourage me. He was thinking about a few stories himself, but wasn’t quite ready to jump into writing fiction. We had some really fun brainstorming sessions, and I decided to start encouraging him to write down his ideas, too.

With the collection Dreaming of a Zombie Christmas, we are putting out our first joint effort, with one story by Pat and two by me. We hope to follow this up sometime in the spring with another collection featuring stories about Nicholas Northing, the main character of Plumbing and the Modern Necromancer, with each of us writing several of the stories, from our slightly different viewpoints. It’s been a lot of fun, and I hope it is the starting point for a lot more.

For now, enjoy our trio of short stories about Christmas – just a little to the other side of reality.