NO! My Amazon Review Ran Amok

BYEWyleECoyote

Oops! You mean there are rules?

I had so much fun the other night writing my Amazon review for the ebook, How To Gain 100,000 Twitter Followers: Twitter Secrets Revealed by an Expert, by M. LeMont. Wide awake at 1:00am, I was stoked. I broke 1,000 followers earlier that day thanks to this book. So yeah, I wanted to give my honest opinion, and my real experience. After all, it’s a non-fiction, how-to, instruction manual. But, guess what? That didn’t fly.

I’ve been asked to edit and re-submit an appropriate review to Amazon, which I am happy to do. But, I’m  shoot-from-the-hip kinda gal, and I write from my gut.

Here is a link for the book, followed by my original review. Because you can’t read it anywhere else.

http://amzn.to/2bo4Apg

I hate tech. Seriously. Don’t get it. Don’t understand it. Hit the wrong keys and I cuss at it. Hashtag? What the hell is that? Joined Twitter a few years ago, gave it a whirl and got bored. Fast. So, back to Facebook I went with beautiful images and endless lines of text. I’m a writer so that’s important, right?

Two and a half weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I came across an add for the ebook, Write Like You’re Already Famous by M LeMont. It was the first thing I ever bought on my cell phone (techno-phobe remember?), because I was 3,000 miles from my laptop. I started reading and couldn’t put it down. I found myself tweeting like a fiend, using hashtags, navigating the Twitter world all by myself. Go ahead. Laugh. I am an idiot when it comes to simple computer skills. Just ask my husband, my sisters, my friends. Dumb girl. Dumb with a capital D. In spite of that, my followers were booming. Mind you, I only started with 150 or more. I didn’t know and at the time I didn’t care.

wile_e_book_of_birds_by_bjnix248-d55ii9e

Halfway through the book I realized, dang, I should get the first book. So I did. Bam! Are you kidding me? A whole world opened up I didn’t know existed. I had been doing it all wrong! Little tricks and hints. How to do this. When and where to do that. I found my tribe. Writers, authors, indie self-publishers everywhere. Following guess who? M LeMont. A writer. Today I broke 1,000 followers. Something I have tried to do on my writer Facebook page. Been trying to break 500 on that thing for almost 3 years! No bueno.

I just finished HTG 100,00 Twitter Followers last night with all the juicy tidbits at the end. The education I got from this book (still reading the other which is fab) was incredible. I am convinced that writers look out for other writers. The truth lies in the voice, which jumps off the page. Common sense. Clarity. The amazing thing is that I am connected with other writers, #smm (yeah, I know how to become a master of hashtags now), professionals, and people who actually have goals and work hard to achieve them. Work. That’s right. No spoon-feeding, easy-peasy, get rich over-night garbage. It’s 1:18am in the morning, but I am up. And I am stoked.

Twitter-tech I can understand, utilize, learn from, and grow.  5 Gold Stars!!

Serious about thanking your favorite author with a great book review? Avoid running amok, or you might get this message:

wile-e-coyote-falling-off-cliff

“Thanks for submitting a customer review on Amazon. Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:”
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

No matter what, keep writing reviews. Learn from Wile E. Coyote’s Acme Handbook.

Never give up.

Never give up.

Never give up…

 

 

 

Paul’s Heart Heals

Paul's HeartWhen I told blogger Paul Edelman that he was my hero, he told me he didn’t feel like one. But this Hodgkin’s survivor of 25 years is doing what I have dreamed of since becoming a childhood cancer survivor. He is sharing his story and touching the lives of other cancer fighters and survivors like me.

http://pedelmanjr.com/

In 1974 when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins, “the Big C” was only spoken of in whispers behind closed doors. There were no pediatric support groups. Colored ribbons, bracelets, T-shirts and adornments did not exist. Baldness was covered in ski hats and scratchy wigs that never fit. Locks of Love, teaching pediatric patients to fold fashionable scarves, and shaving heads in solidarity of childhood cancer was far into the future.

The only “awareness” was when it happened to you. No one talked about it. No one wrote about it. After deadly chemo cocktails and 5 years in remission you were released into the world “cancer free.” Childhood survivors were left to fend for themselves. Alone. Go live and good luck.

So I stood wondering why death had taken this child and that child… and then passed over me while snatching up the last of my friends. All that remained were endless side effects that kicked me in the gut while healthy friends and family went about their merry way.

Fast forward 40 years. The “information super-highway” of social media has changed my life. I don’t stumble in the dark when it comes to my side effects and health. Hodgkin’s patients are finding me! 

God bless Paul Edelman who has the courage to write and blog in “Paul’s Heart.” He exposes fears and struggles as a survivor and a dad.

http://pedelmanjr.com/my-hodgkins-disease-my-side-effects/

His words inspire me to tell the stories which haunt me. That makes him one of my heroes. Even if he doesn’t feel like one.

The First Three Months After Kidney Transplant

11270574_10205781819058001_4961367288152030148_oThey say the first three months after kidney transplant are the worst. Some say it is worse than dialysis. After reading the kidney forums online, my husband had told me it was true. The majority of transplant recipients not only agreed with these statements, they shared personal stories to back them up. One man had screamed at the doctors to take the damn thing out and put him back on the dialysis machine. I shook my head and vehemently disagreed. Nothing was worse than life on dialysis. It was no life at all.

“This isn’t going to be easy. Are you sure you’re up for this?” The interviews and probing questions for transplant failed to discredit the online forums and comments from patients who had been there and done that. Every Neurologist confirmed the inevitable truth. The truth I refused to believe – this was going to be hard as hell.

Today, I can honestly say with conviction and experience that it is true. The first three months after transplant are the worst. I have never been so emotionally stripped. Worst case scenarios play hide and seek. Ridded of short term memory, my mind allows insecurities to run amok and reign supreme. Pediatric nightmares re-play in real time.

Labs can change on a dime, and do. The toss of that coin is consistently inconsistent. In one day for blood work and back the next. Then it’s two days or three, maybe an entire week – only to start the cycle all over again. I refuse to watch one more re-direct. The only comfort was a man who once sat two seats down from me cursing at a Phlebotomist. I am not alone. As my labs go, so do my meds. Twenty some odd pills with a plethora of side effects, results, and consequences add to my fragile emotions and mental state of mind. What a ride.

I could go on, but that doesn’t feel right on a day like today. I hit my three month mark. It has been exactly three months since I received my husband’s kidney. It was his anniversary present to me – twenty-four years together. I was too sick to give him a present. Three days ago I received another gift. My labs showed no signs of kidney rejection.

I started writing again. The fire to finish editing my novel has returned. Back issues of Writer’s Digest that had been left unread are now marked up. The other day I picked up a book and focused long enough to read it. I’ve been flipping through my gourmet cookbooks again since I am no longer shackled to renal diet restrictions. I am beginning to enjoy the things that made me want to get out of bed and live. I am now three times cancer free. Thanks to my husband, I have a new kidney and a second chance at life. Believe me when I say, It was worth those three months.

I Am a Childhood Cancer Survivor Forty Years. It is Never “Over.”

Little Princess in cotton field

September 4th is right around the corner. It is Childhood cancer awareness day. 41 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3B Hodgkins. I was 7 years old. I was a guinea pig on experimental drugs while suffering from shingles and then viral meningitis. My years of treatment included radiation and chemotherapy cocktails created from the same serum mustard gas used in WWII, and the Pink Periwinkle flower from Madagascar. Cancer treatment was archaic in the 70s. Brutal. I watched all of my little Leukemia and brain tumor friends die. I am the only child who survived our group.

 

I was left with huge physical and emotional scars. Radiation left me sterile. I never went through puberty. My teenage years were hell. I was pulled out of P.E. and got breast implants at age 16 because teasing was so bad. At age 21 I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. At age 46 I was diagnosed with kidney cancer in both kidneys. I suffered renal failure. Both kidneys were removed. I spent two years on dialysis. It was no way to live. Two and a half months ago my husband gave me his kidney for our 24th wedding anniversary. It is such a blessing, but I am still struggling. It is still a fight. Slowly, there is progress, but I find myself re-living the haunting memories of my past. I try to be strong, but I am not. I am the terrified child inside.

 

So the next time you are tempted to tell a cancer survivor to “Get over it,” remember that it is never over. The side effects of childhood cancer never end. They are decades long. They creep up and blindside me. Again. And again. And again. So please get over your discomfort when cancer fighters and survivors must talk, must weep, must grieve. We are broken. Often shattered. It takes an uncertain amount of time for us to pick up the pieces of shard and rebuild our lives. Your thoughtless words only add to the emotional scars we carry. Please spend less time trying to shut us up, and more time spreading the hope because your friend, your co-worker, your family member, or the love of your life survived.

 

I am still here. I am surrounded by the most precious guardian angels that went before me. They are etched in my memory forever. And some day, when it is my turn to go, I will embrace them with tears and laughter. I know it.

Walking Towards a Kidney Transplant

Walking to Improve Running460

Just yesterday I was huffing and puffing on a walk with my husband and my dog. As the walk got increasingly painful, especially in my back, my breathing became labored. Timing is everything, right? It was then that my husband decided to go over the pros and cons of a kidney transplant. He is my possible donor so it has as much to do with him as it does me. He is in the medical field, so I trust his analysis of my situation and he knows my medical history better than most, even myself at times.

Going into this surgery, I know that my chances of getting cancer again is a likely possibility. I’m not sure if it was the pain in my back from the long 2 miles or the “face your ultimate fear of cancer yet again,” conversation, but I was hyperventilating and gasping for breath. I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t moving forward any more. My husband told me to sit on the curb and calm myself so I could breathe better. I did. He tried his best to console me through the fear, even though I told him it wasn’t the conversation that had me on the ground. Or was it?

My whole life it has been “Lara is too weak. Lara can’t do that, or go that fast or that far.” My whole life is a list of can’t dos or do at your own risks. It is enough to drive me completely mad and out of mind. My husband offered to run home, jump in the car and drive me the rest of the way home. “Toughen up,” I told myself over and over again. There was nothing physically wrong with me. I was just having a panic attack of some sort. – nothing a little rest couldn’t fix.

My husband offered several more times to run home and get the car, but I kept hearing the words, “toughen up.” I did, but only after a good hard cry. It only lasted about 2-3 minutes, but it felt like all the pent up feelings, whatever they were, had been washed away. After a few minutes of reassurance, my husband pulled me back up onto my feet and helped me walk the rest of the way home.

With some help, I did the hard thing. I am better for it -tougher.There are difficult things coming my way. I need to be ready for them. A successful transplant isn’t for the faint of heart. I know that. I know a lot of things now that are difficult to put into words. But I have to say, nothing felt better than hearing my husband say, “I am proud of you.” I was proud of myself, too. I have a lot of walking to do, and a lot of fear to face. But I am not alone. I know that.

Self Hypnosis for Cancer Patients

Imagine a stairway. It can be a grand marble staircase that belongs to Cinderella, or like mine, a circular, winding staircase in King Arthur’s castle that goes into secret passageways. This stairway is yours. You decide what it looks like, where it goes, how wide and how deep. Is it lit by chandeliers, candles or torches? It is entirely up to you. This staircase obeys your every command. If you want it to change at any time, just imagine it.  Since you control everything here, it is a safe place.

Breathe deep. Let out your breath as slowly as possible. As you release the breath, take a step down your amazing staircase. Relax your body with each step, with each breath. Every time you step down, let go of your body, let go of worry. Try to focus on the breath out, taking longer to release than it did to breathe in. Decide what serves you best. Do you want to count how long it takes to run out of air and improve that score each time? Maybe it feels better to count the stairs instead. The deeper you go, the safer you feel.  On the other hand, you may think “To hell with counting! I’m gonna slide down on a gurney or a meal tray!” (I’ve done that many times myself.) Count, don’t count, slip, slide, glide, or fly.

The whole beauty of it is that YOU decide. No one tells you what you can or cannot do. There are no rules.  Make up stories, create doors that open to new worlds, open and shut them at will. Go here, go there, go everywhere. If you’d rather stay put, you can do that too. Share, or keep it to yourself. You can visit these stairs whenever you need them. They are, and always will be yours. I love mine. I have visited them for over 40 years.  Self-hypnosis makes medical treatment a little less of a nightmare.  See you in King Arthur’s Court!

#1 Secret to Healing a Scar – Your Doctor Wont Tell You

Dr. Lupo put both hands around my neck and leaned in close, “What are you doing?” He repeated over and over again while examining the scar. He pushed on it with his fingers, pressing and pulling my skin. It had been gnarly The kind you’d see on Frankenstein’s daughter. My neck had been carved up twice before – once when they found Hodgkins forty years ago, and at age 21 when I had Thyroid cancer. Dr Lupo’s blade cut through both original scars, and continued all the way up to my right ear. I was surprised at his reaction. I thought everyone knew. Coconut oil. Today that scar is so thin and fine, it is hard to see, unless I have a tan. That was 2010.

 Extra Virgin Olive Oil is your best friend!

The Doc has just removed your staples or stitches. You look at the mirror in horror. Tears swell up in your eyes Your neck, hand, stomach, foot, leg, whatever, looks grotesque. Halloween is over, but you feel like the monster that makes others cringe. Staring back at you must be the biggest, ugliest, damn scar you’ve ever seen up close and personal.

  • Do not be alarmed
  • Trust me

Slather Coconut oil all over that scar.

The secret is to do this daily, several times if you can remember. I have a graft on my right arm that gets hammered from dialysis five times a week. My doctor is always surprised when she see’s how great it looks. I remind her every month. Coconut oil. All of my recent scars – Both kidney scars, breast replacement scars, gall bladder scar, and other related surgery scars are looking pretty fine. Yeah, this stuff heals like freaking magic.

Needless to say, I use a ton of it. All over my body. Seriously. Gobs of it. I keep one tub in the bedroom, one in the bathroom, and one in the kitchen for cooking. What? Why?

Keep slathering away!

  • On cracked feet. Put socks on before bed. See results fast
  • After shower or bath right before toweling off – trust me
  • On wet hair to control frizz.- just a little
  • On dry, static hair – just a touch
  • On your neck ladies! We show our age there first
  • Around eyes – also make-up remover
  • All over face
  • Cuticles and cracked hands
  • Knees, elbow, legs, any dry spots
  • Stir frying over high heat recipes
  • Detoxers eat it by the spoonful – heals from the inside – no joke
  • On every single scar

Where do you find it?

  • Wholefoods has a plethora of brands and sizes to chose from
  • Most health food stores
  • At your grocery store in the health food section

So now what?

Patience Grasshopper. That bumpy, curling, twisted skin will settle down. It will smooth out. I know it’s hard to look at, especially when it’s fresh. The experience may have been traumatic. Scars remind us of that. They also tell a story, and you lived to tell about it, whether it was surviving cancer or jumping off your neighbor’s trampoline. Whatever your story, put some coconut oil on that damn scar!

Gratitude, and the Most Peculiar Things

images Whew! Thanks to eight brand new scars, I made it! A year ago today, I was in the hospital fighting for my life. I missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I spent the holidays in a hospital bed, convinced that they would never let me out. My muscles had atrophied. My legs and lungs fought for every slow step. I couldn’t swallow. My nourishment came from a feeding tube. I truly thought it would never end. But the worst of it did – eventually. My last surgery was  August 2014.

Kidney failure was a complete blind side. Dialysis, like a thief in the night, had stolen everything.  There was a lot to be upset about. When I left the hospital I had lost the ability to work, had lost my faux business Lara Lazenby Designs, and was unable to do simple tasks like cooking dinner, taking care of my orchids, or driving a car. I still brush my teeth sitting down or I’ll fall over. Heck, the slightest breeze can knock me to the ground. Sadly, dancing is still out of the question. I spent the entire season of So You Think You Can Dance popping and doing leg lifts on the couch. I could ramble on with a list of complaints – of gripes and groans and reasons why it’s not fair. Having said that, I wont pretend to be a saint. I have complained plenty. But this holiday season, Gratitude, has come in the strangest, most peculiar little things.

I have come to love the blue handicap placard hanging from the rear view mirror. Some days I can barely walk across the room, let alone the parking lot.

I love the wheely-carts at the grocery store.I used to think they were for old people. I’m eating my words now. Humble pie is sweet when I’m just too weak to push a big cart around the entire store.

The stool my husband set up by the stove. Now I can stir and sit. I’m telling you, this was bloody brilliant. I love that freaking stool. I used it today while making pumpkin pie. Mm!

When my scars healed up, Steven and I went on the hunt for  a rescue dog. After leaving several places in tears (I’m emotional that way), we found her. This little dark brown dog sat in my lap and draped her head over my arm. We’ve had her two months now and I can’t imagine our lives without Shanti. That is the Sandscrit name for “Peace.” She has brought that to our lives.

Five days a week, Steven saves my life, literally. It was his idea to start home hemo- dialysis training in October. I’m looking at the machine right now. It sits in the living room next to the television. A constant reminder to me of how life changes on a dime. In-center dialysis was hell  three times a week. Barely enough to live, to drag myself through life. Now we do it at home five times a week with this machine. It’s no miracle worker, but I have a few more good days than bad. This machine made attending the FWA writer’s conference possible, by lugging it along. So, you wouldn’t be reading this blog if I hadn’t gone. I don’t particularly like this machine, but I am learning how to be grateful for it.

Steven, has never complained about the time he sacrifices to be my caregiver, not once. He helps me set up and tear down the machine , he orders all the medical supplies, pokes bad-ass needles into my arm, regulates the numbers and vitals during treatment, and pulls the same bad-ass needles out – all of this immediately after or before a twelve hour shift at the hospital, 35 minutes away. Steven has put things on complete hold to take care of me. ” In sickness and in health”  has never been an issue for that man. Ever. Being married to me? Well, that is amazing. He is amazing, and I am eternally grateful for that kind of love.

This Thanksgiving I will treasure every minute with him. And Shanti. Yes, life is good, even when there is plenty to gripe about.

 

PS. My heart weeps for the loss of my friend Harold Wilson who passed through the veil late last night. Stage IV lung cancer. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to visit you one more time so we could swap bottles of homemade chili. I got my love of Snoopy from my grandpa, Harrold Gnarini. In some ways, you remind me of him. All my love and hugs, Lara

 

The Other Two Scars

scarsother two

No pink ribbons, no red ribbons, and no yellow bracelets. Girls, like women, want to talk. Need to talk. But that was not allowed back then.Shh! It was taboo. Inappropriate to speak of out loud. So, no one talked. Only in hushed voices. Whispers behind closed doors. Personal journals and secret diaries were covered in pages of blurry ink, stained by tears. My journal was no exception. I had no one. There were no ribbons for me –  for anyone.

I remember sitting on the couch with my mother, watching a movie about a woman with breast cancer. It was controversial. People were outraged. It did not belong on television. The main character had a mastectomy, She was the one suffering, but her husband thought it is all about him. He didn’t want to touch her. He was not sexually attracted to her anymore. The selfish son of a B left her!

I was devastated. That image was sealed in my memory. I was convinced. No man will want me. He will leave me, leave me for someone who is “real.” I became obsessed. Like Pinocchio, I wanted to be a real girl, a real woman. It didn’t matter a damn that the character in that movie found true love in the end. This other, wonderful man. didn’t care that she had one breast. She lucked out, I had thought. I would never be that lucky. But I was wrong.

Fast-forward to late November, 1990. Steven Paul Lazenby wanted to marry me, but I was still carrying a secret. If I told him, he might leave. So instead, like the coward I was, I handed him a personal essay I had just written for my English class.

The Other Two Scars

It was a cold October night, and the first signs of snow appeared like crystal on the windshield of the little VW Rabbit. I pulled the scarf around my neck a little tighter and turned up the heater. Driving in the snow made me nervous, so I welcomed the chance to sit in the passenger’s seat. Within minutes we had finished winding up the little Provo canyon to a small open area. Wade turned the car around and the lights of the city below glistened through the snow flakes. He put the car in park, and we sat for a few minutes in silence.

We had been talking most of the evening in my living room about our experiences growing up and all the trials we had overcome. The subject of my past came up, and both of us felt quite emotional. I had told Wade a long time ago about the life long side effects of cancer and about all of my hospital experiences, but a few of his questions were too personal to share in front of five giggling, clueless roommates. The steep canyon seemed like a peaceful haven for serious talk and far more private than apt. #N102. Finally the silence broke.

“Can you tell me more about your life with cancer?”

Suddenly my heart skipped a few beats. I had told him everything about chemotherapy and the frightening experiences in the hospital. He knew all about my hair falling out and the various complications with other illnesses. He had also heard time and time again how the power of the priesthood was responsible for saving my life. But deep inside, I felt an ache. There remained one thing I hadn’t shared with any man. I couldn’t share it. The fear swelled up in my throat and suddenly I wished we hadn’t come to this place.

“Lara, you know it doesn’t matter to me that you can’t have children. Some day you’ll be a mother and adopt. Those children will be yours. You will make a wonderful mother,” his gentle words brought tears to my eyes.

He always knew what to say to help the sting go away. It wasn’t as difficult as I had thought it would be to tell him about my inability to have children of my own. I have known since I was fourteen, but it had always remained a very emotional subject with me. Telling Wade had been one of the biggest stepping stones of my life. He always stressed the fact that it didn’t matter to him; something that I had always thought meant everything to a man. But tonight I was afraid to talk to him about it. I felt like talking would reveal my greatest fears, and I was in no condition to confront them.

“Tell me about your medical past, Wade!” I blurted out in the hope that we could turn the conversation around.

He then proceeded to tell me about his appendix and his ugly scar. He had already seen my huge scar from having my spleen and appendix removed, so he showed me his. He then went on counting various scars, some from surgery and others from typical boyhood rough-housing. We laughed at some of his wild stories. Then he asked me how many I had.

Without thinking, I said with pride,”Eight scars!” Then proceeded to explain where and why. “Well, there are the scars on my feet from a surgery I had when I was eight years old. I stayed awake the entire three hours.” Wade nodded, remembering the time I had told him about my “Jesus Feet.” as I had called them when I was little.

“Then there is the one on my hip and the huge, ugly one on my stomach. Of course this one here on my neck is where they found the cancer. I still can’t believe they thought it was an allergic reaction to the cat! Then there’s this one on my hand when I sliced it open in a field while being chased by a huge dog, of some sort.” All these Wade had heard before. Suddenly his face looked puzzled.

“That’s only six. Where are the other two scars?”

My heart stopped. I could feel the blood burning through my entire body. Why did I say eight? How could I be so stupid? My mind raced around trying to find an escape. There was none. A feeling of hopelessness encompassed me.

“Oh, it’s nothing. It’s really not worth mentioning.” I could tell it wasn’t fooling him. Wade knows me too well.

“No, really, where are they?”

“Well…” there was a long pause. It’s kind of personal.” There was a deadly silence so loud it rang in my ears. All of my deepest fears now sat in front of me. I felt totally exposed and vulnerable. I had feared this moment my whole life and had tried to think of every possible way I would have to confront it. Never in my life did I think it would be like this.

“I think I know where the other two scars are.”

Suddenly my fear turned to anger and I looked Wade right in the eye. “Oh really! And where is that? Where do you think the other two scars are?” my voice raced wildly. “Where?”

Wade’s eyes looked down to the stick shift and softly muttered, “I don’t want to say.”

This is it, I thought. It’s here. The moment I’ve dreaded my entire life. I was right all along. No man can love me! I have always known deep inside my heart that I can never be totally loved, not totally. And now the proof is here, tonight, happening right now. I have lost Wade because now he knows the truth.

“Does it matter to you?” my hurt voice broke out. “Tell me Wade, does it matter? Does it change the way you feel about me?” the tears burned my eyes.

“Of course it doesn’t matter to me Lara! I love you.” He tried to put his arm around me, but I jerked away, hitting my elbow into the car door.

“Don’t touch me!” I screamed.

Suddenly, and without realizing it, I told Wade what I had never been able to share with any man before. I don’t remember what I told him first. It could have been all the times I had been teased about being flat chested in front of my classmates. Or, it could have been the years I put lambs wool from my pointe shoes into my bra. Then again, it could have started when I found out I couldn’t have children and would never develop on my own, so I was put on birth control hormones. Somewhere in between all that, I remember crying about the times I had to see a shrink because I thought I was neuter after having seen a pet shop commercial.

I told him how I hid from people because they were always looking at my “flat as a board, never been nailed” chest. I also told him how much I had hated my younger sister of three years because she was miles ahead of me physically; and my mother, who couldn’t understand why I would rather die than live in a fake body.

Finally, I got the courage to lift my watering eyes from my wringing hands and look at Wade. To my surprise, he caught my eye immediately. I expected to see distance in his eyes, even a little disgust, but I didn’t. Instead, I saw tears of pain and love. Slowly and cautiously, I finished telling him the rest of the story behind the two scars.Wade slowly put his arms around me as I buried my face into his down jacket and sobbed.

“Lara, you are a beautiful woman. You are. Don’t ever think that you aren’t again,” his words of tenderness made me cry even harder. “I still love you. That hasn’t changed. If anything, I feel closer to you because you’ve shared this with me,” he held me tighter.

An overwhelming feeling came over me and I wasn’t afraid anymore. “You mean it doesn’t matter to you that I’m fake?”

“You’re not fake. There is nothing fake about you. Nothing.”

Never in my life had I ever felt such unconditional love. My heart swelled and my insecurities vanished away. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could be loved, totally. I finally realized that I am a woman, not half a woman or a neuter, but a whole woman. It was hard to believe at first, but it was true. He really didn’t care. It didn’t matter to him at all.

As we sat in that tiny car overlooking the lights of the city, now clouded by snow and fog, a feeling of peace encircled me. My whole life had been clouded by two scars which seemed to outrank all the others. They had separated me from the world for so long that I wasn’t quite sure what to believe. Just then, I looked at Wade’s face and he smiled. I looked once again out the window. As the fog lifted from my eyes, so did the burden of the other two scars.

Wake me up in the middle of the night…

Seven years ago, I was going through some lame, middle aged crisis. The economic squeeze was choking my small faux business. I worked with the best designers in Sarasota, Florida. But none of that mattered. Business, like everywhere else, was dwindling.

At the time, however,something else was on fire. Everyone I knew kept telling me about these books I just had to read. I would roll my eyes, and go back to the remote control. Didn’t they know I was in a black hole? There is no reading in a black hole. None. Only blank stares at the television screen. And ice cream. Spoonfuls of vanilla, and Chunky Jiff peanut butter. This went on for weeks, maybe even months. Why? Because there is no time on the event horizon. Depression is a black hole that paralyses you and then rips you to shreds. So, no! I’m not reading your damn Vampire books!

Four weeks later, I had cried my way through the entire Twilight series, twice. I went to bed and finally slept like the dead… Until 4:30 in the morning, Thanksgiving day. I was wide awake. I grabbed a spiral notebook that was sitting on my dresser, and started writing Haunted, the first chapter of my novel. “Stephanie Meyers did it,” I thought as I scribbled into the morning hours. “If she can do it, I can do it too.”