Let’s Welcome KJ Moullen!

Today, I am thrilled to welcome author KJ Moullen to the site! KJ writes YA fiction, and shares about her writing journey below.

 

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Writing and reading have always been passions of mine. I suppose you can say I was born with it. I didn’t have a favorite blanket or stuffed animal growing up, my necessity at bedtime was a Mother Goose book. From the time I was about nine months old, I needed to have this book with me to sleep. I did eventually outgrow the Mother Goose book phase; however, it was quickly supplemented by a growing love for books of all kinds. My imagination was always on hyperdrive, fueled by the likes of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Star Wars. The idea of writing didn’t fully take root until reading A wrinkle in time. Wow! the joys of being able to create stories that whisk you away too far off worlds for adventures, how could I resist.

Writing became my escape. I wrote as much as I could and filled in the other time with reading and outdoor adventures to keep the imagination charged. Living in exotic places such as Hawaii and Alaska created a perfect backdrop for these adventures. Pursuing many classes in creative writing in school my works received a very positive reception from my teachers and peers. But it wouldn’t be until my later years that I choose to take the leap to share my writing with the world.

The publishing piece has been an experience in its self. I had heard that writing the novel was the easy part. Oh boy, were they not kidding. I took an unconventional way of being published on the advice of a dear friend that was in the textbook publishing field and I ran a campaign on Publishizer. For those not familiar with Publishizer it is a crowdsource fundraising platform with a twist. They cater to authors only and work with several publishing houses from self-publishing to traditional and everything in between. By the end of my campaign, I had fourteen publishers including traditional, interested in my manuscript.  After in-depth research on which route to take, I eventually opted to hybrid publish.  I keep all the rights to my work and have a major say in how the whole process goes. It was the option that just seemed to make sense to me. I feel very blessed to have been presented this opportunity. The whole adventure of becoming a published author has been a roller coaster of emotions but defiantly worth the ride.

My first published novel is a YA fantasy, The Spinner Sagas: The Telling, released in May of 2018. The second in the series, The Spinner Sagas: The Heir, is currently with the publisher and will be released early 2020. I am currently working on the third book in this series.

The Spinner Sagas: The Telling is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Blaine. She thinks she is an ordinary teenager until she is thrust into Renault, a realm filled with magic and unknown possibilities. She is set upon a pathway that will challenge everything she has ever known. Confronted with dark family secrets and an ancient prophecy, she will have to trust a mysterious ally whose destiny is intertwined with her own. Set in a world plagued with evil, Blaine must face not only her mounting self-doubt but destiny itself. Will her choices be enough to stop the darkness of evil from spreading through the universe?

To order a copy of KJ’s book, please visit the link below:

The Spinner Sagas: The Telling

 

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What is LOVE?

What is LOVE?
 
I think about love a lot. I write about love a lot. As a romance author, I love love.
 
This weekend I thought more about love. We went to a walk to raise funds for ALS research and treatment, and I got to see love in action. Loud, loyal, unquestioning, relentless love.
 
People gathered at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket for the walk. We had a large family/friend group there to support Paul. There were teams there with people in various stages of ALS, and groups there to honor ones lost to ALS. Everywhere you looked, people were hugging. Laughing. Loving, even in the shadow of this horrific disease.
 
Then I looked at our team in specific. Siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, cousins, friends, loves. Ranging in age from 20 to 80+. And we were there together, to walk, to honor, to support.
 
For some members of our team, it was the first time they’d seen someone in the later stages of ALS in person. For others, just being in crowds was stressful. One was struggling with a nasty cold. And no matter what, we were all there for the same reason, love.
As we walked, we laughed, we remembered, we planned. We laughed about one team member finding sunflower seeds in between bench cushions. We laughed again when that one touched the outfield grass. We reminisced about going there to games as a family and talked about Sam. We took tons of pictures. We watched grandsons make sure their Memeres were safe in the crowd. We watched sons and fathers walk together. We smiled as we received text messages of support from around the country.
 
In the end, I realized love is being there, no matter what. Love is caring and expressing that caring, even if you can’t be there in person. It is standing and holding someone’s hand as they look the truth, or the future, in the eye, even as their knees shake. It is putting others before our selves.
How incredibly fortunate we are to be surrounded by such love!
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Finding Peace with the Sheep

Today I had one of those moments when I was reminded of the beauty and wonder surrounding us…

While doing the afternoon chores, I was trying to hurry the sheep back to their pen from the pasture. Neither was interested in moving. Lana wanted to eat grass. Hila wanted to cuddle. Finally, ignoring the ever-present mantra of “I need to do this and this and this,” I sat down in the grass and cuddled with her. This huge, smelly, burdock covered, sweet, loving, intuitive sheep cuddled up next to me. She rubbed her face against mine, then just rested it on my shoulder, breathing her smelly sheep breath on my cheek, letting me know she was there. I talked and talked to her, telling her how beautiful her wool is, and how I want to make a blanket of it when she is sheared next year. I talked to her about glad I am that she recovered from her sheep polio. I thanked her for taking the time to hang out with me.

Later, both humans sat for a long time with both sheep, sitting on the little bench in the barn, and just enjoying their love, energy, silliness, and their devotion to us and their little herd.

In the end, the time I “lost” by sitting in that pasture and on the bench was gained many times over in the peace and joy I felt. Maybe all of us need to take more time to just sit and commune with nature or others.

Gratitude in the Garden

Keeping true to my beliefs of the benefits of gratitude, I have been consistently recognizing what I am grateful for each day. Admittedly, with the stresses right now, sometimes it is hard not to lament at the same time.

Over the last couple of days, I have spent some (not enough) time in the vegetable gardens. We would not have planted such huge gardens if we had known what was coming this spring/summer, but we have them and are doing our best to care for them. Picking cucumbers, basil, lettuce, and summer squash, pulling weeds, picking the first ripe tomatoes reminded me of the wonders of the natural world, and centered me back to myself. The world is full of incredible people, love, natural beauties, bounty, and how thankful I am to take part in it all!

How do you fight?

As you know, in May we got the very unexpected news that my husband has ALS. Besides the fear, uncertainty, logistics, the massive learning curve, and the stresses of the parking garages, there were the cold, clinical statements of “There is no cure.”

We immediately started asking questions about other ways to help improve health, such as acupuncture, nutrition, massage, and others. Each time, we were greeted with, “It can’t hurt, but…” The voice would trail off, giving the excruciatingly clear message that those things wouldn’t hurt, but weren’t going to help either, at least in those experts’ minds.

That didn’t sit well with me. We need some way of trying to fight this disease! So, we are fighting. Reasonable, regular exercise? Yes! A high-fate Keto diet based upon the one used to treat other neurological diseases? Yes. Acupuncture? Yes. Meditation? Absolutely. Work on reducing stress? Yes.

We get that there isn’t a traditional Western medicine cure, at least not yet. But there are a lot of other things we can try to improve overall health and work to give us time for a cure to be developed, and improve the overall quality of life.

For our dear friends and family, you see something online or hear of someone who is (or did) beat the odds in terms of longevity with ALS, send us the information! We love hearing ideas and will research them right away. Never think that asking a question or suggesting things will bother us, just like when we love hearing Sam’s name, when people face straight-on with us, it helps. And every scrap of an idea helps us fight!

We love you all, we appreciate you every single day.

Why?

Yesterday morning I awoke as early as I normally do during the school year, to make sure I was on time for a meeting. Stepping outside to walk the dog, I was shocked when Fluffy 2, who had been on the run for over a month, joined us for the walk. Strolling across the lawn, she was less than two feet than the dog, talking the whole walk. It was if she was telling us all about her adventures. When we got back to the house, I went inside with the dog, then realized she was still standing by the door. With a handful of cracked corn, I sat on the walkway, hand-feeding her. She ate and ate, talking all the while.

Finally, it struck me. She was waiting for me to walk her back to the coop. Together, we walked to the coop, and I opened the door, and she happily joined her little flock. For weeks and weeks, she has wandered the area, living somewhere unknown. Now she was home.

Why did she leave? Why did she come back? Why did she suddenly decide she wanted back with the others? Joining them, she cooed with happiness, as did the others. She was back!

I will never know why she took off, or why she came back, but I do know that Fluffy 2 deciding to go on an adventure, and return, makes me smile.

The Lady Fingers

Tonight we are out of town, waiting for another appointment on our new and unwanted journey. Wandering into the Whole Foods to get things for dinner that are on the approved eating list, I saw a package of lady fingers. The small, dull mini-cakes that you put into desserts such as berry trifle. And grief hit me hard. Unexpectedly. In a crowded supermarket, with no place to go with it.

For Sam’s high school graduation celebration, he didn’t want a cake. He wanted berry trifle, loaded with pudding and whipped cream, decadent, and just for him. We did have a cake, but that was really so we could write “Captain Sam Francoeur” (you have to read the book if you want to know why we needed to do that) on it. Two days before the party, I went to the store, and no lady fingers. They always had lady fingers, but not that day. The nice bakery clerk called around to other stores and found some, and early the morning of the party, I drove to the store to get them so I could make the trifle in time.

The lady fingers made me so sad tonight, then they made me smile. How thankful I am now that I kept going until I could make him that special dessert on his special day — if I hadn’t I surely would regret it now.

Tomorrow is Sam’s 26th birthday (forever 20), and I am sure that somehow, he will have berry trifle with lots of whipped cream.

 

The Divine Kick

Last night, I had an unfortunate experience, one that made me seethe with hurt and anger, and disappointment. It was a callous comment made by someone who should know better about an overdose situation.

Later, as I posted about this experience, and how I had chosen to respond to it, a friend made the comment that she was thankful that I had been there to bear witness to the incident. Another person today said that she thought there was a reason I was standing there when I was yesterday.

That got me thinking… Maybe that was the case. Maybe there was a reason I was standing there! Yes, there was. In the last two months, as we have struggled with Paul’s diagnosis and how to juggle all that comes with it, I have stepped back somewhat from my advocacy about substance abuse treatment and prevention and stepped back from writing as much about how society vilifies those suffering in this way.

So, I’m back! Every single person struggling with addiction, nearly overdosed, or overdosed, is someone’s child. Maybe someone’s sibling. Someone’s grandchild. An aunt or uncle, a friend, lover, a father or a mother. Every single one is a human being deserving of love, deserving of dignity, deserving of support and options to get help. No one gets up in the morning and says, “Geez, I want to spend my day trying to get high, ruin a few relationships, put myself in mortal danger, and then get ready to do it all over again tomorrow” No one does that! We need to stop acting like that is the case.

As often has happened on this journey, something happened last night to give me a reminder that part of my purpose on this earth is to be a voice on this issue, and as much as it hurt last night, today, I am thankful it happened because it gave me a kick to get back to work.

The Wading Pool

Yesterday, we held a family get-together to celebrate my husband’s birthday. As it was unbearably hot and humid, we had picked up a little wading pool for our grandchildren and set it up just before they arrived.

Within minutes of arriving, they wanted to be in the pool and especially wanted to splash Grandpa. Then, our grandson kept telling me that he was going to take the water out of the pool because he was going to take it (the pool) inside the house. I kept explaining that we weren’t going to take the pool inside, and he kept scooping water until he finally asked me “Why?” Why couldn’t the pool go inside the house? Really, Grandma, wouldn’t it be fun to have a pool in the house? It made me laugh, he was so insistent that it would be a good idea, and I was so sure that it was a bad one. Ultimately, the pool stayed in the yard, but we had an awful lot of fun both with the splashing and the conversation.

It made me think that one of the wonders of childhood is the lack of rules and expectations in thoughts — in his mind, I was the one who wasn’t thinking clearly, and maybe he was right!

Ethan Allen and Fluffy 2

Many years ago, twenty-one to be exact, Sam got a baby bunny. Being Sam, he named him after Ethan Allen, a Vermont hero. Sam loved Ethan Allen with all of his heart, and for a little boy, he took pretty good care of him.

Then one day, Ethan Allen escaped from his outdoor hutch. Sam cried and cried, and several hours later, Ethan Allen showed up on the lawn, and we were able to drop a laundry basket over him, catch him, and put in back in the reinforced hutch.

Then he escaped again. And was caught again.

And again, and again and again. Each time, it took longer to catch him.

Finally, we all decided that just like his namesake, bunny Ethan Allen was fighting for freedom, and he deserved to be free, and we let him live as a free-range bunny.

Over the years, our local population of bunnies clearly had some genetic input from Ethan Allen. Our wild bunnies have strange coloring and look more like him than their fully wild cousins. When we see one, we still laugh about it.

Then we got the laying hen, Fluffy 2. Beautiful and somewhat aloof from her chicken peers, Fluffy 2 loved to be carried and held. Then one day she wouldn’t go back to the coop at night. After a few days without a sighting, we assumed she’d been eaten. Then she appeared, then disappeared, again and again.

As of this morning, it had been almost three weeks since our last sighting. We had talked about how we thought she finally was gone for good. That was, right up until we started pulling up the driveway and she was standing by the blueberry bushes looking at us. We laughed, saying it was Ethan Allen all over again…

Any day now, we expect to see little Fluffies running around because clearly, she has a secret life going on now.

Good for her!