If at first you don’t succeed… blah blah blah.

Linking up with my people today at Five Minute Friday.

But, I don’t want to.

My fingers are tired. So is my head. Yesterday I had a meltdown so epic with my kids that even the dog left my side for a whole ten minutes. Which would have been kinda nice because honestly being followed constantly by Mr. clicky toenails guy is a bit annoying, but not in this case. In this case, I felt major dog-mom guilt. And basic mom guilt. Just, guilt. Loads and loads.

The theme for today, you ask?

 

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Good one FMF. I see what you’re doing there.

Ok, so pretty much every single free minute of my existence has been spent writing The Big Fat Second Book.

Here are some facts:

  1. That which won’t kill you will make you stronger. Maybe.
  2. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Or all day. Take your pick.
  3. If at first you don’t succeed, oh just put a sock in it.

Brace yourself. Whining is coming.

WRITING ABOUT HARD THINGS IS HARD. The past three chapters have been about hard things (good news! it’s still funny! don’t forget to pre-order!!! it will still be funny!). The hard things are there because Newsflash: LIFE IS HARD.

That’s kinda the premise of the whole book, actually. Dana finally figures out how HARD life is and she writes about it. I know, right? Should be a bestseller. I can just see the droves of people at the Barnes and Nobles:

“I can’t WAIT to read this book! It’s all about how life sucks the life out of you and is so very hard!”
“My gosh, that’s totally new information to me! I must read about it! It sounds wonderful!”

Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on myself here, but words are all stuck up in my craw and it’s making me… what’s that word for when you are upset and want to hit things?

Anyhow. The other day I broke our coffee grinder because I dropped it. It was a really nice coffee grinder and I hate hate HATE it when I break things. I also hate it when people say, “Oh well. I’ll just go buy another one,” because that just seems wasteful and the poor kids in India who made the coffee grinder probably could use a break. But, I really do LIKE ground coffee. It makes my heart sing a little. So – I was all smart and good for the environment and I bought a cheap little hand grind grinder thingie on the Amazons. Boom! I can work out my arms and save money AND electricity! I AM SAVING THE EARTH AND ALL THE THINGS!

Guys. To grind about one cup’s worth of beans takes forty five minutes.

Well, maybe not quite that many but it feels like it. I ground and ground and ground and… ground and ground… and ground… and checked and ground and ground…

I WANT MY ELECTRIC GRINDER BACK.

All of this is to say: keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself as a momma, and also as a really bad hand-crank coffee bean grinder person. Because, you know, I am KEEPING that #@@%$ grinder and I’m gonna crank the ##$$ out of it. JUST KEEP GRINDING THE BEANS.

And, you, my sweet children, I will keep trying. I will come up to you and say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?” and you will reach your little arms around my neck and we will all keep trying. We have to. We’re stuck with each other.

And YOU, book. Yea, I’m talking about you. I will keep trying. I will. I will write about the hard things and the funny things and dance around the parts that I think sound like the world’s worst writing since the history of writing, and I will not give up.

Or, as my son put it: “I forgotted yesterday anyhow, Momma.”

Press on.

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Darling Patrons: An Open Letter To the People Who Read My Stuff. Otherwise known as a blog post.

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I have lovely news, but I keep getting interrupted by other stuff.

Other stuff:

  1. Children. Small children. They NEED things. Even when they don’t they really like to carry on conversations with you. Case in point: This morning Red was coming out of the bathroom, sauntered past me, and asked, “Mom, do you like sausages?” I had no idea how to respond, really. It was the whole juxtaposition of the bathroom*, the nonchalance, and my inability to talk without coffee. I was flummoxed. But, yes, actually, I DO like sausages. Italian and summer are my favorite.
  2. *Just don’t dwell on it too much and it won’t get icky.

3. A furry white cat that was on death’s door a week ago. But more on that later.

4. Laundry. See #1.

I know the other stuff is normal (except for Steve, the cat but more on that later) but the older I get the harder it is to multi-task. It’s like my synapses just freak out and say, “Hey! Everybody! She’s trying to do that multi-tasking thing again! Take COVER!”” And there’s general running about and firing of synapses all over the place and waving of synapsey arms and mayhem.

I was trying to get (shove) my two boys out the door this morning for VBS, hoping for an hour to work on the lovely news, when I noticed that Red’s bed looked like he had piled every single one of his stuffed animals on it. It looked like this because, as I asked him for verification, “Mom, I piled every one of my stuffed animals on it! I have a kaJILLION!”

And that’s when I started in on Mom Lecture #3445, Clean Up Your Stuff Or It Will Go Away And You Will Have to Play with Sticks. 

Me: Red, you KNOW you are to MAKE YOUR BED every morning, and this is a MESS and-

Red: But, Mom-

Me: Hold on dear, I’m not to the sub points of the lecture. And FIRST OF ALL-

Red: But, MOM-

Me: One minute. FIRST OF ALL, it’s important to be RESPONSIBLE-

Red: MOM. MOMMY.

Me: AND ANOTHER THING-

Red: MOM THEY ASKED US TO BUILD THE WALL OF JERICHO IN VBS. IT WAS OUR HOMEWORK. AND I DID. WITH MY STUFFED ANIMALS. STRAIGHT UP BIBLE ACTIVITY ALL UP IN THERE.

Me: Oh. That’s adorable. And, they gave you homework? This VBS is hardcore.

Jesus and Red = 1 Mom = 0

 

Anyhow. I am now writing my little fingers off to tell you about THIS:IMG_6550.png

I’m working on another book. The publishing company actually wanted me to write another book. ANOTHER ONE.

Which, as you  know, means I am really a big deal.

Also, it’s possible I have had the worst case of writer’s block known to all writers in the universe (no hyperbole here) because FOLLOW UP IS SO NOT MY THING.

I’ll keep you posted. But, in fact, I won’t keep you posted as much as I would like because every stray minute that dangles in front of me is utilized in eeking out another painful sentence on this second-book thing. I am serious. Last night I wrote a sentence. Then stared off into space. Then deleted the sentence. More staring. Wept a little. Repeat. This must be what snails feel like all the time.

Poor snails.

I tell you this, so you will feel sorry for me. Just a teensy weensy bit? I always did like sympathy. I’m so not like those people who are all, “I don’t want your sympathy!”

I DO. I REALLY DO WANT IT.

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See?! This writing thing? It’s really hard! (To be honest, I think George might want to consider counseling.)

But, if not sympathy, then your prayers. My family and me need to survive together until the manuscript is done, and this morning I asked Blonde to provide me with a synonym for “glass” and he answered “Um, donkey?” and I just nodded and carried on.

Never ask an eight year old with bad hearing for synonyms.

I’m gonna try and stick with the donkey-half-full ideology that a second book is wonderful and exciting and such a blessing. And, it is happening because of YOU guys. So, I thank you from the bottom of my synapse-misfiring little heart.
I do love you so.

I lift my donkey of grape juice to you.

This book is gonna be so good, can’t you tell?

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I Went Away and Came Back Again.

Yep. I did. A few weeks ago I went away to Jacksonville, Florida.

And then? I came back. But… just for about twenty minutes or so, on the fabulous deck overlooking the pool with my coffee and bible? I had a teensy little bad thought (I know – one is not supposed to have bad thought when the bible is around, because bible = goodness, but, well, it’s me).

Here was the thought:

HOLY CRACKAMOLE I AM NEVER LEAVING THIS BALCONY.

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Ok, so let’s just kill the suspense right here. I did, in fact, leave the balcony.

I left it to put on some really strappy, high heeled shoes that are ridiculous, and then tromped down to my presentation here:

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I don’t really know what I’m doing in that photograph. But, as already mentioned, I don’t always sit well on video, so whatever.

Here’s another one. I like to call this:

Contemplative Momsie. Or Scared. Not Really Sure.

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This was my weekend at the Intervention Project for Nurses and it was amazing. Such an honor. Such an awesome event. Such a great balcony. The only unpleasant thing about the entire trip was those shoes.

Honestly, why do we do heels? Remind me again? I understand they make us look lean and lithe and thus, you know, ready to leap tall buildings and all that but really? I so would rather do so in flip flops.

Anyhow! I just wanted to tell you that I DID come back. And I am now firmly wedged in full-on summer with two boys that are playing baseball four nights out of the week. We have dinners that have sunflower seeds as the main dish. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, I throw a cheese stick at them as we head to the car. I add the goldfish that are colored with vegetable dyes because healthy.

Oh, and also this happened:

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Kansas Notable Books press release

Life is amazing and wonderful. Even when it’s not it is still pretty special. I am so grateful. I am SO grateful!!!!!!

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Post-game. Waiting for ice cream, because it helps battle the over 100 degree heat. I am even more grateful for Mr. Grimy, don’t you know.

Yes, you know. All moms know. We might have cool stuff handed to us, but really? If it came down to it, we’d take the sweaty kid with the dripping ice cream cone over all of it. Every day.

Every. Day.

 

 

 

Happy, Joyous, Free.

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Sometimes life walks right up to you and hands you a glass of lemonade. You don’t have to deal with the lemons at all, just straight up lemonade. Lotsa ice. Maybe even a sprig of mint.

In less than a month I will be flying off to Florida to speak at the Intervention Project for Nurses. There, I get to talk about my story, and be funny, and make people laugh, and share some tears, all stuff that is totally up my alley. My Floridian alley. Which also includes a beach.

Also, in the fall I am doing a reading at The Writers’ Place:

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I used to walk by this amazing house when I was in my twenties, wistfully thinking, “Maybe one day I’ll go to a reading there. Maybe.” Now, I’m read-ING there.

And then there is this big HUGE sprig of mint:

 

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2016 Higher Goals Awards

Presented during EPA’s 2016 convention, the 2016 Higher Goals awards honor the best work done in specific categories during the 2015 calendar year.

Devotional:

First Place: The Covenant Companion, “Broken” — Dana Bowman

First Person Article:

Fourth Place: The Covenant Companion, “Jesus, Take This Cup From Me” — Dana Bowman

Humorous:

Second Place: The Covenant Companion, “Confessions of a Not So Cheerful Giver” — Dana Bowman

Personality Article:

Fourth Place: The Covenant Companion Online, “Breaking Through the Sound of Silence” — Dana Bowman

To read more about the awards and articles, click here.

All of this is a huge honor. Just huge. Awards are always an opportunity to take a breath and allow yourself to feel right in place. The Evangelical Press Association had perused all Christian publications, from Christianity Today to In Touch magazine, and more. I think this all just makes me smile at how my relationship with Covenant Companion Magazine came to be: it was a short blurb in their magazine honoring my pastor, Jeff Waugh, and his wife Julie for their care taking and help when I battled post-partum depression. That two paragraph entry showed up in their magazine over six years ago.

Sometimes, life is all about lemons. Bitterness. Soured dreams. Sadness.

And other times?  Life reminds you that when you travel with God’s travel plan clutched tightly in your fist, sometimes everything is so very, very sweet.

 

“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word
serenity and we will know peace…
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us
-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
     Reprinted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc
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Guys, I have  to post today about the book. I have to.

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Y’all, it is a heckuva thing, to write a book.

Once the book was out there, with an actual cover and pages, and sitting on shelves in bookstores, and libraries, it was like I had a baby, and then wrapped it up, set it on a bookshelf, slapped an isbn sticker on its adorable soft little bum, and walked away.

I don’t even have any books in my house anymore. I kept giving them to people. Authors get a box of books (I think I got about 15) to do whatever they like with. I kinda considered throwing all fifteen of them on my bed and rolling around in them with glee like that money scene from Indecent Proposal, but you know? That’s a movie from the 90’s* and nobody remembers it. Also, rolling around on a book is uncomfortable. I know this because there is always, ALWAYS at least one book nesting in my bed anyhow (housekeeping challenged) and the other night I rolled over onto A Prayer For Owen Meany and bruised my spleen.

Also, this might rumple with the book cover. As I am a tidy author, there shall be no rolling.

Here is what happened recently about this book:

I had a friend inform me about amazon. It’s this place on the internets where people buy stuff? Anyhow, my sweet little book is on there, and it had some reviews.

And by some I mean a nice number. Less than twenty. More than ten. Still ok. I didn’t much mind. I knew people were reading it, liking it. I knew also that most readers were moms, saddled with small children probably. The likelihood that she was going to set down the small cherub stickily attached to her side and try to post a review of Bottled the next time she has some time to herself was pretty small. If she was like me, she would use that time to go the bathroom and take a nap. Maybe not at the same time.

But then, just recently, another friend told me: “You need 50 reviews. If you get 50, your book will be an ‘also liked’.”

Guys. Wait. What?

This is how I do marketing, by the way. The majority of the time, my book selling moments are paired with me saying, inevitably, “Now, wait. What?”

Bewilderment. It’s part of my platform.

The “also likes”? You know them, I bet. Whenever I am buying, say, a tassled gladiator sandal, and amazon, oh so cleverly suggests that a RED leather tasseled gladiator sandal might also be something I like, I often find myself nodding and just feeling all warm and fuzzy about Amazon.

“Yes. Why, I DO like those? How did you know, Amazon? You really get me!”

“It’s like we’re *crosses fingers* like this.

When I was researching other books to write my book proposal, the “also likes” saved me. It’s how I found a small army of books about drinking, about moms drinking, about recovery.

And it’s also where I didn’t find something: Laughter.

When the publisher, Central Recovery Press, asked me to write the book they asked, “Will you write about the harrowing, painful, and totally life-altering experience of being a mom in recovery. But will you, you know, make it funny?”

Ah, CRP. You also get me. It’s like we’re *crosses fingers again* like this.

I wrote the book. I slaved for nine months (For real. A book baby.) and then, WHAMMO, it arrived. Big celebration. Cigars. Champagne (not really, that would be dumb). And along with it?

Its evil twin, Marketing.

So now the book is out there. And evidently Amazon would like suitable proof. I really had no idea how to do this, so I took it on, with the same enthusiasm as a mom trying to get volunteers for the next Fun Fair. I pestered those that I knew had bought the book. You poor people, if you had actually been kind enough to send me a pic of you reading Bottled, with a cup of tea, in your cozy chair, I was coming to find you. I went all Liam Neeson on the situation. Sorry.

I tweeted. I messaged. I emailed. I texted.

I became the Most Annoying Person in the World.

And nearly** every time, here was the response: “Sure! I would love to!”

Those guys. They were the best. Simply the best. It’s like they really got me. We were *crosses fingers yet again* like this.

It’s good, yes, to be “also liked.” But do you know what all of this taught me?

Gratitude. People are so willing to help. And with the conversations that happened all day long, they reminded me, again and again, about friendship, willingness, generosity, and time. It blessed me completely. Completely.

Thank you. I “also like” you too. Did you know that?

We’re like this.

 

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*Am I the only one who thinks the 90’s was just about a couple years ago? It’s not The 90’s. It was just, you know, a while back. Weird.

** True story. My friend, who shall remain unnamed but is My Pastor’s Wife, said: “Dana. I can’t review it. I actually have not read it yet. I am so sorry.”

And I responded something like: “That’s ok. Just lie. Really. I think. Oh. Wait. No, that would be bad.”

She didn’t respond but I am sure she prayed for me, which is good because at that point I think I had gotten a tad crazy.

Marketing. It can snap you like a twig.

Yes, dear.

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There is a man in my life, y’all. His name is Brian.

He has said ‘Yes’ to me from the beginning. From the beginning, when I saw him across a crowded room of older, single desperate Christian people at a single mingle that was fraught with so much desperation you could TASTE it. He said ‘yes,’ even then, when I made a bee line for him, fixed him in my target because I knew he was who I was going to marry, and so, we needed to talk.

He said ‘yes’ to meeting the next day. And then later he even said yes to spending the rest of his life with me. Actually, he DID ask me and I said yes. But it was all a part of my master plan.

He didn’t have much choice.

Anyhow. He said yes when I lost my mind. By going to get help, he said ‘Yes, I am here. I love you. I will help.” He said yes to letting me stay home and sit and try to write for a ‘living’ because I love it and it makes my heart sing. And he said ‘yes’ when 55% of the stuff i write is about him. Generally, poking FUN at him. But you know. my love language is snark. And he still says ‘Yes.”

He kisses me goodnight every night and kisses me goodbye every morning. And he said ‘Yes’ to all of the book. All of it. He wanted me to write it. Even though… his stuff is in there too.

He is my greatest coach and love. He says “Yes,” again and again and again. In fact, when we were two weeks married, he started saying, “Yes, dear,” to me, with a hint of snark (he can only do a hint of it. His heart is too labrador retriever-ish to be full snark. Poor thing.)

“Brian, can you bring home pizza? I am exhausted.”

“Yes, dear.”

“Brian, could I take a nap? I am exhausted.”

“Yes, dear.”

“Brian, could you give me a hug? I m exhausted.”

“Yes, dear.”

Brian. I just want to have a drink. Just one. I can’t do this anymore.”

“No. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not on my watch. And yes, you can do this.”

“Yes, you can dear.”

I love him so.

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My book, Bottled: How to Survive Early Recovery with Kids, published by Central Recovery Press, is now available!!!!!!! How exciting!! How awesome!!!

I got sober and the whole world became one big yes. I am so very grateful.

God is good. He tells me “Yes, dear.” so very often. And He tells me “No” or “Let’s wait,” just as often. And I am learning, finally, to listen. And, is that a miracle?

Yes. Yes, dear. It is.

Red Fail Give

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Recently, I had a really, Really Good Idea.

At this point in my life, I have had to pare down my really, Really Good Ideas because having them, like, ALL the time is just so exhausting.  I needed to step down and give other people around me a chance to be brilliant once in a while. It’s my civic duty.

So, I aim for one Really Good Idea a week.

Anyhow: My idea was to start a Writers’ Group! Yes! A Writers’ Group, with people in it! And we write and stuff! It will be super cool! (Circa 1998, students… you know I’m breaking my ! here, dontcha? I’m trying to be ironic. Course, if you have to point out the irony, then, maybe, it’s not irony. Whatever.)

The Writers’ Group was my Really Good Idea!

Here’s why:

1. People actually CAME. This filled me with awe.

2. Also this: I was “in charge” and still, people asked to come BACK!

3. And finally: I gave out homework and they DID it. I KNOW.

So… here’s the assignment.

I had them write down a color. And then a place. And then, they selected a word from my Word Jar… and then… they wrote. And, since I realized I had left the group without my own three words, this morning I decided to grab two words from my handy dandy Jar and added my own color.

And oh… how God has a sense of humor on this one.

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Red.

Fail.

Give.

I am trying on my red shoes. They are a deep red, shiny, and pointy, and they make me stand up straight when I put them on. I have lipstick that is the same color, the color of a heavy velvet curtain at a theater, or of a pomegranate.

I decide to swipe on the lipstick too. It’s a mistake. Now, I am staring at my reflection in our hall mirror with the shoes, the bright slash of lipstick, and a new dress. My hair is all tangled in a braid that is two days old and a six-year-old is hiding behind the folds of the dress, pretending it is his curtain. He makes his debut with a foam sword and a shout of “Come and get me, Bucko!” and swashbuckles away, but his swordplay has me all out of balance.

I teeter.

It is also possible I don’t wear heels much anymore, so even standing still seems to be a challenge. I sigh and push the braid back. At this point, how will walking go?

I am going to fail.

I take a breath and contemplate the lipstick. It’s too much. And then stare down at the shoes in all their pointy audacity.

“Ok, it’s either you or the lipstick, ” I mutter. “One of you has to go. I look like I’m trying to be Taylor Swift.”

Nobody should try to look like Taylor Swift unless they are Taylor Swift. ESPECIALLY if that nobody is over, erm, forty years old.

At the end of this week, I am flying far away, to San Francisco, to a Really Big Event for The Book.

And all I keep thinking is:

I am going to fail. Somehow, I’ll forget how to get on a plane or how to drive to the airport or how to talk to people. Add the shoes with their pointyness to all of this and it’s just a recipe for disaster. People do not wear red shoes unless they’re in control of the red shoes. I don’t think I can do this.

I mean… WHO do I think I am?

Well. It seems… I am an author.

And I have something to give. And God asked me to give it.

So, I’m going. And I might fail. I might spill coffee on my dress or forget how to use the flight app on my phone or forget to tip the taxi guy…

But God won’t fail. Nor will He fail me.

He got me this far. He can get me to San Francisco.

Even in high heels. He can split oceans in two, after all.  He can help me walk in tippy shoes.

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Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:8

My book, Bottled: How to Survive Early Recovery with Kids, published by Central Recovery Press, comes out in September.
Yes, miracles never cease.