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tiffany c Thanks to author Tiffany Carmouché for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for her Alaskan Heart Saga, including her newest book, Blood of an Angel. Enjoy!

Pushing Past the Pain – Bestselling Author Tiffany Carmouché Tells How She Used the Nano Challenge and Turning to the Arts to Learn How to Live Again.

In reflection of the recent tragic suicide of Robin Williams.

When you are young you dream of fairy tales. Of Princesses and castles and happily ever afters. When I married my high school sweetheart I thought I would live out my dreams but soon my fairy tale became a nightmare.

I will spare you the bruises, the drunken rages, the lies and the details of how after many years of marriage, I woke up to the family business being closed, the bank accounts emptied, the house in foreclosure and the fact I had to figure a way to pick up the pieces alone and find a way to keep a roof over my daughters’ heads.

I’m not going to lie, I was a hot mess. And as I now search for answers as to why someone as talented, rich and amazing as Robin Williams would take his life, I remember the time in my life I didn’t have much to live for and I myself contemplated ending the pain. Depression— such a nasty beast.

Thankfully I had two wonderful daughters who made life worth living. I knew for me, suicide would be the easy way out, but if I was gone, it would be my daughters who would have had to collect all the fragments. I had to be strong.

I had to pick myself up and dust myself off and tell life, “You hit like a bitch! Bring it on!”

During all of the turmoil my Niece, Deanna, told me about the Nano Write a Book in a Month Challenge. I hadn’t written in years and knew I didn’t have a book in me, but I challenged myself to write 10,000 words.

What the hell. It was certainly healthier than spending countless hours planning how I would hunt down my ex and hang him upside down by his toenails. I have to say it was a little embarrassing, sitting in church as my ring tone went off incredibly loud. I tried to look innocent in the pew as, “I dug my key into the side of his pretty little supped up 4 wheel drive, carved my name into his leather seats…” sang from my purse. Yes, at the time Before He Cheats was my theme song. That and Pink’s “I lost my husband I don’t know where he went.”

Maybe, I was a little upset, just saying…but somehow I convinced myself instead of planning my revenge, I would write about the time I escaped the abuse and went to Alaska with my best friend. And then I began to think…“What if…”

I wondered what life would have been like if I hadn’t come back home to marry him. I began to relive the beauty of Alaska and what it felt like to be in my early twenties and leave everything I knew to travel to a place half way across the globe. And then I remembered… the stalker I had to escape from. “What if…he was a serial killer?” Perhaps writing about the serial killer was a form of displaced anger, LOL, but somehow it did the trick.

Best selling author copy Instead of spending my time feeling sorry for myself, I bleed on paper. I allowed myself to disappear as I scribbled words to life in black and white and you know what? I didn’t have time to care who he was sleeping with. I didn’t have time to worry what he was spending our money on. I didn’t have time to worry where he disappeared to. Sure my troubles didn’t go away and I had a lot to figure out, like how to keep the lights on, but when I wasn’t solving a problem that COULD be solved, I wrote. And before long I exceeded the 10,000 word count and I challenged myself to write even more each day.

I loved the little widget in NANO that would grow as I got closer to my goal and it kinda obsessed me. Instead of getting locked up for going mad, or getting even, I wrote a book. I didn’t just write the 50,000 words of the challenge, I wrote 80,000 and The Impostor, the first book in the Alaskan Heart Saga, was born.

Was it ready to be published at the end of that thirty days? Hell no! That is really when the fun began. FUN? What? Edits Fun?

YES! It is all about your attitude. When you finish your book it is like giving birth, but you still need to feed it to watch it grow. Please do not kid yourself into thinking you are finished unless it’s poetry. There is certain rawness and pureness to the words that you release in a poem and often the muse pours the words out as they should be written. But a novel, no matter how good of a writer you are, needs to be edited and countless more hours need to be spent in revisions.

I try and think of it as it is more time I get to spend with my characters. And sometimes they do the damndest things! Soon my suspense became a suspenseful romance and my 10,000 word story expanded to 100,000 for the first book, The adventure I had with my best friend many years ago has sparked a Saga that has been read all over the world.

The fifth book, Blood of an Angel will be released this October in honor of Domestic Violence Month. The book is written and ready to be released but there is a certain beauty in releasing the book during a time to honor all the people who have fallen victim to cruelty as a means of reminding us there is life after abuse.

The series is a about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship to find herself again and provide a better life for her daughter. (Yes, there are hot guys and romance woven in, but the books are a reminder of our strength) Many times we find that as we stand up, we are often tripped again or even straight up pushed down to what we think is our breaking point.

We need to remember the story is only over when we say, ‘The End.’ I am still stunned at the news Robin Williams committed suicide. Such a tragedy! If he had lived, he was such a talented man, there is no doubt he would have brought much more entertainment and laughter to us. But because he took his life his gifts will never again be shared. Internationally we grieve his loss. I can only imagine the sorrow of his family.

If I had taken my life, I would never have had the honor of knowing the fans all over the world whose letters bring smiles to my face! I wouldn’t have seen my daughter Rochelle get married or my daughter Martina leave for college!

Did the Nano challenge save my life? Maybe that is stretching it a little bit, but I know that writing the book in the month was the beginning stage in finding me again. I have since rediscovered the artist, the dancer, the adventurer…I am learning to live again, step by step, and you know what? If I hadn’t made that 10,000 word goal, perhaps my saga would have never been written. My mission is now to help others find their essence. In words, in dance, in brushstrokes…in life…BE BOLD! Be Brilliant! BE YOU!

For even broken, we are beautiful…pick up the pieces…just look at the beauty in a stain glass window next time you question your magnificence. Find your essence. Let your light shine. And do what brings YOU LIFE!

Make each breath count. ~Tiffany Carmouché

PS Join me in participating in #HOLDON2HOPE, to spread awareness for ending suicide this September held by Author Rochelle Maya Callen.

PSS I do love to hear from my readers. Please do not hesitate writing me if you have read any of my books. I enjoy hearing what you think. Some readers write me as they are reading my books. That is so much fun, especially when they say, “No!”

PSSS If you have escaped an abusive relationship and would like to be a part of the Out of the Shadows book or Conference, please contact me to get more information.

PSSSS ( I used to do this as a kid on my letters.) Sign up today for my newsletter for news, contests, interviews and more! Be the first to see the cover reveal of the next book in the series and be the first to know the release date of Blood of an Angel!”

Want to learn more about Tiffany Carmouché and her books? Visit her web page and Facebook page.

Tiffany’s books are available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks again to Tiffany Carmouché for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Owl Posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an inspired day! – Vonnie 

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Thanks to author Ripley Patton for stopping by and talking about the dark subjects that are often a part of Young Adult books.

Dabbling in the Dark: Addressing difficult issues in YA literature by Ripley Patton

Ripley's author photo “Even though my first young adult book, Ghost Hand, is a paranormal thriller, it still touches on some of the real issues confronting teens today; loss of a parent, feeling like the outcast, dysfunctional families, body image, cutting, and, in general, the dark hurts that lurk inside of each of us.

I’ve heard people complain that YA literature has become too dark. They ask, ‘Why all this gloom, and death, and monster stuff?’ But the truth is stories for children crossing into adulthood (ie fairy tales) have traditionally had a very dark slant, and this well may have been a way of preparing them for the fearful truths of the adult world. Story is a way of giving us a road map to reality.

What I have found is that most modern teens already know that adult world. They’re dabbling in it, or they’ve been forced to live in it long ago, perhaps long before they should have. They are seeking books that touch on the very things they are struggling with or experiencing. So, it bothers me when people try to censor what constitutes YA, or say kids of a certain age shouldn’t be reading work that is dark. If those dark things are happening to kids in the real world, shouldn’t we be empowering them to process that through the amazing meaning-making tool of literature?

Now, I don’t think that you can just toss harsh, dark stuff into a story along with some teenagers and say ‘Viola! I wrote good YA literature.’ I think there are some guidelines, and there is certainly a responsibility we have to our readers.

For example, I once read a YA book where the main character, a girl, violently beat her boyfriend around the face because he wouldn’t tell her what she wanted to know. These two characters were supposed to be in love, and I think perhaps the author was trying to make a statement about domestic violence, and how it can cut both ways. I’m not sure what the point was because the author just left it at that. The girl beat the boy, and later on they made up, and no one ever said anything about it again. The girl didn’t even apologize. When I finished this book, I found myself very upset at the author. Yes, violence like that happens in the real world without any purpose, and teens are certainly experiencing it, but her job as an author, I think, is to give that occurrence meaning in the book and some resolution in the reader’s heart. At the very least, I would have liked to see a character speak to the injustice and wrongness of beating someone you love around the face in a rage. I would have liked her to show how that breaks trust and damages relationship. Because our books are our voices, and I hope those are the kind of things they’ll say to young people.

Ghost Hand cover But it isn’t always easy to say the right things, or even know what the best things are to say with our writerly voices. For example, in the second book of The PSS Chronicles, the one I’m working on now, there are guns. Under-age teenagers wielding guns. And given the recent violent shootings, and the social outcry both for and against gun control, I found myself very uncomfortable when my characters began to take up arms. I actually stopped writing for a while and tried to figure out something else for them to do. But no, they wanted and needed guns for the plot to move forward. So, I decided to let my characters express the very struggle I was having. I gave them that voice. I let them hash out between themselves the issue, with some adamantly against guns and the escalation of violence and others strongly for that means of self-protection. Perhaps, I even needed to write this into my book because it is so in the forefront at the moment. It is something America is dealing with, and so am I, and so are our teens.

I’m not saying that an author or their characters should be preachy. I’m not saying they should say ‘This is right. And this is wrong,’ because, let’s face it, most issues have multiple sides and are more gray than black and white. But I do think we, as authors, should let our characters ask the hard questions. They should do more than act. They should think. And hope. And feel. They should process the very issues we are facing so we can face them together.

This is the magic of reading, of literature and fiction, and why we should never shrink away from the really hard, dark issues.

Because when we read, we are no longer alone.”

To read more about Ripley visit her website: http://www.ripleypatton.com/  Ghost Hand is available on Amazon.  You can also find Ripley on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerripleypatton  Twitter: @rippatton and Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4340243.Ripley_Patton

Thanks again to Ripley Patton for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and my new feature, Readers & Writers Recipes. – Vonnie

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