Confessions of a Frustrated Author

Writing a book is hard. I started one in 2009, and finished it five years later. Getting a book published is very hard. My first one was published last year, and it was very exciting. Selling published books is really, really hard. Every day I have to fight the fear that I’m a failure as an author because we haven’t sold out our first printing in a year. Every time I open the trunk of my car, I see a box of unsold books, taunting me. There are reasons not to lose hope, I remind myself. My publisher forwarded me a newsletter from Bibliocrunch that mentioned industry averages, so I could see that my first year sales are almost exactly what the average author can expect. I remind myself all the time that the people who have read my book, though fewer in number than I’d like, have loved it. And they want more. Continue reading “Confessions of a Frustrated Author”

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What to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving (If You Have to Say Something)

Recently I shared on Facebook a great piece from BuzzFeed, “What You Say to Someone Who’s Grieving vs. What They Hear.” While I liked what it had to say about how our well-intentioned platitudes can actually be hurtful, some of my friends found it discouraging. Their (very valid) point was that there were no positive alternatives offered, nothing like, “Say this instead.” One friend suggested that, since I work with grieving people every day as a hospital chaplain, I should write a list of better things to say to them. I hesitated, because every situation and every grieving person is different, and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that there are magic words that will make the hurt go away. There just aren’t. But as I thought about it, I did come up with at least a few guidelines and suggestions for words that, in most cases, I believe will help more than they hurt. With a subject as messy as grief, that’s the best I can do. So, here we go. Continue reading “What to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving (If You Have to Say Something)”

All the Deaths Along the Way

IMG_1264It’s happened again. Another celebrity has died, and I find myself feeling very sad over the loss of Alan Rickman, just as I did over David Bowie a few days ago. And I’m not alone, not by a long shot. Search either of their names on Twitter and you’ll see literally millions of tweets about how much their art meant to people who never met them. It’s become the thing now to mourn dead celebrities on social media, but even before that, we still did it. (The above photo shows me that I tried to find a way to do it when I was 8 years old.) We still went to work or school or stood on the curb with our neighbors and said, “Can you believe it? I didn’t even know he was sick. I always loved his movies.” Why do we all do this? Continue reading “All the Deaths Along the Way”

Q is for Quiet

(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

quiet shh

Working in a hospital is sometimes enough to make you superstitious (though, like Michael Scott, I try to be only a little stitious). Full moons really do seem to bring out more of the crazy stuff. If someone mentions that we haven’t had a gunshot wound all day, ER staff members would bet that one will arrive within the hour. And whatever you do, don’t say anything to the effect of, “It sure is quiet around here.” In my book, I tell the story of how I got on a nurse’s bad side by jinxing her shift with the Q word. Continue reading “Q is for Quiet”