Thursday, July 26, 2018

I Want to Go to Maui Instead of Physical Therapy

This is something I wrote back in February, mostly because I just needed to "write it out." That's what writers do often times when things are hard. I submitted it to the NYT for the "Modern Love" column, but it was recently rejected. I knew it was a long shot since they get many, MANY submissions.

So, with that out of the way, and with my husband's permission, I've decided to post it here on my personal web site. In a few weeks, I'll post an update as to how things are going with him. Thanks for reading!



I Want to Go to Maui Instead of Physical Therapy
by Lisa Schroeder


I woke up this morning and thought about running away. Actually, I woke up this morning, checked my phone, and thought about running away. A text sent from my husband, Scott, after I’d gone to bed read, “Healing waters at 10:30 and physical therapy at 3:00. Too much?” 
I knew he was asking if it was too much for him, not for me. But I thought yes, it’s too much and I don’t want to do this anymore. I think I’m going to run away. To Maui, maybe. I saw a sale on fares the other day. Couldn’t I get away, just for a few days?
I found myself dreaming of long walks on the beach, dipping my toes in the surf, and drinking a PiƱa Colada as I watched the sun set, the sky a hundred shades of gold.
My mind drifted back to our trip a year ago, to celebrate our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. Scott and I went whale watching for the first time. What a thrill to watch a mother and her calf swim near our boat. And the crystal clear photo of a whale tail high out of the water that I captured still makes me smile. On that trip, we also snorkeled and hiked, seeking out the beauty of nature as if it was on its way to extinction. I couldn’t get enough.
Now, life is filled with work and deadlines, chores and errands, and appointments. Doctor appointments, physical therapy appointments, swimming appointments. Almost two months ago, Scott twisted through a doorway while carrying a ladder at work and in doing so, herniated a disc in his spine. Due to the pain in his right leg caused by fluid hitting the sciatic nerve, he cannot sit down. He can’t drive. He can stand and walk slowly, with a cane, or he can lie on a camping cot that has now become a permanent fixture in our family room. The man who has been my rock for almost thirty years can’t even put on his own socks.
Every day, he looks out at our lush backyard and frets about spring and what the growing season will bring.
“Who will do it if I can’t?” he asked me once.
“We’ll hire someone,” I told him, wanting to ease his mind. “It’s not a big deal.”
Tears filled his eyes as he said, “But it’s my yard. I want to do it.”
With this kind of injury, there is no certain fix. There are only paths to try on the road to healing. Right now, we are on the conservative path. Physical therapy. Pain medications. Rest. Time. Time that could be spent doing the things we love – going to concerts, movies and plays, or traveling to beautiful places that give us a break from the demands of everyday life.
Friends and family members have shared their surgical success stories. A chiropractor wouldn’t even touch Scott. “I can’t do anything for you,” she said. “You need surgery.
The decision to travel the conservative path is not one we are making, but one that is being made for us. Because here in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, healthcare is anything but free and worker’s compensation is a nightmare for even the most heroic.
I’ve read accounts on the Internet from people who’ve had the same injury, but I don’t tell my husband what I find. That sometimes, with or without surgery, it takes years to recover. That sometimes, people never return to normal.
Instead, I am his cheerleader. I put Post-it notes with affirmations on the bathroom mirror for him to read every day.
“I will be 100% again.”
“Good people are helping me heal.”
“I am loved.”


I know that with an injury like this, along with the medical care he is getting, he also needs emotional care and support. It doesn’t go unnoticed. Again and again he’s told me, “I couldn’t do this without you.” Last week, while I was at work, he asked a friend to drive him to the store so he could buy me a bouquet of flowers.
But today, as I thought about my long to-do list, about the errands that need to be done and the therapy Scott wants to do, I wondered, what about me? Where do caregivers get their emotional care and support? How do people do this, day in and day out, along with making sure all of the other things in life get done? Things like grocery shopping, meal preparation, house cleaning, car maintenance, bills and paperwork, taxes, etc. My mantra has become, “One day at a time.” I can’t look too far ahead or I get overwhelmed and worried. One partner is ordered to go to various appointments, do daily exercises, manage the pain as best they can, and rest. The other partner must somehow figure out how to do the work of two people, indefinitely.
I know I shouldn’t complain. I sound like a selfish jerk. Yes, I go to bed exhausted. But my husband goes to bed in pain.
Last summer, our beloved dog, Stormy, a fourteen-year-old Lhasa Poo, had an eye rupture. She’d had an age-related ulcer that we had decided to treat with daily drops rather than expensive surgery. The vet said there was a small chance it might rupture someday, and told me what to look for. When it happened, I could see Stormy was in excruciating pain, and I screamed for my husband. He came running and while I was a blubbery mess, Scott was the picture of calm. He told me it would be okay as he picked up our dog and instructed me to get my purse and keys. Tears fell while I drove. What did this mean for our beloved pet? Scott somehow managed to whisper reassurances to me while also calling the vet’s office to alert them we were on our way. A little while later, we made the difficult decision to have the eye removed. After the surgery, because our vet’s office was closing for the night, we had to take her to a 24-hour vet hospital for monitoring. With her puffy, swollen head and lots of stitches, I was almost afraid to touch her. But Scott tenderly cuddled our sleepy dog on his chest, wrapped in a blanket like a baby, while we waited for her to be admitted.



This man is one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever met. I’ve lost count of how many times he’s helped random strangers over the years. There was the time he gave twenty bucks to the struggling mother outside a grocery store. Or the time he acted as a tour guide on and off for an entire week to two Italian men he met and who clearly needed some navigational assistance. (They sent us Italian wine to show their appreciation). I think my favorite, though, is the time he brought two hitchhiking monks home and made them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
At work, he is the guy people call when they don’t know who else to ask or don’t trust anyone else to get it right. For twenty-five years, he has worked in facilities at a large company and while his title has changed over the years, his can-do attitude has remained the same. “Other duties as assigned” has never had such a broad application as it does when it comes to Scott’s work.
After the physical therapist read the MRI results, she said to him, “What this tells me is you have worked very hard your entire life.”
It’s so true. But it’s more than a strong work ethic. Making other people happy is what this guy is all about. He is a jack-of-all-trades but he is also a person who cares deeply about helping others.
Helping a man who has helped so many others isn’t the difficult part. Not really. It’s everything else. It’s life, I suppose.
It’s been over six months since Stormy’s surgery, and Scott and I find ourselves in the middle of a new, much more serious, crisis. Although our old, deaf dog only has one eye, she is back to her happy, healthy self. She is a cute and constant reminder that injury and pain can be overcome.
In many ways, today was kind of like the day Stormy’s eye ruptured. I panicked – this situation is too hard, too stressful, I don’t want to do this, help me. Meanwhile? My husband is the calm and level headed one, committed to doing the things that might help his body to get better.
Turns out he is still my rock, even if I do have to help him put on his socks.
Right now, it’s difficult to say what Scott’s future holds. My hope is that soon his claim will be approved, and then we will fight for microdiscectomy surgery.
Hope. Every day, I must find a thread of it and hold onto it with everything I have. Some days I find it and pass it to him. Some days he finds it and gives it to me. Every day, we hold on together. I’m not sure how we do that, exactly, just that we do. Maybe it’s some kind of magic sprinkled on a couple when they’ve managed to stay married for almost thirty years. Or maybe, it’s knowing deep in your heart that this is what you signed up for – in sickness and in health – and the only way through is together.
And while I don’t know how this story ends, I do know that I didn’t run away today. Instead, I got up, repeated my mantra “One day at a time,” gave my husband a hug and said, “Let’s focus on PT today. You can go to the pool on Saturday. Okay?”
“Okay,” he said.
And just like that, I could breathe a little easier.
As for Maui, I figure it will still be there in a year or two or three. I think it’s time to make a new Post-it note for the bathroom mirror. One that says, “Maui is waiting for us.” We can both read it and dream of seeing that magical sunset again. Side by side, the way it should be.


Lisa Schroeder is the author of over twenty books for kids and teens. Her latest novel is SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT (Scholastic, June 2018). She lives in Oregon with her husband, Scott. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Want to read a new YA novel by me?

I am trying something new. And scary. And also exciting!

Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan publishing under Feiwel and Friends, is a crowd-sourced publishing site. That means it relies on readers to help find manuscripts to publish. 

I've read some wonderful books that have come about as a result of Swoon Reads. Which is why over the weekend, I decided to just "go for it" and put one of my unpublished YA manuscripts up on the site for people to read. I have a couple of other manuscripts that are out on submission right now, but this one isn't on sub currently. 

So, if you'd like to read it, you CAN! All you have to do is create an account on the site, then you can download the app if you want so you can read on your phone or an iPad or whatever. You don't even have to read the whole thing if you don't want - you can still rate and review after reading some of it. And any good ratings would help me a lot!!

What's the book about, you ask? It's an interweaving tale of four teenagers during a summer of loss, love, healing, and sweet things. 

Ingrid, Penelope, Lance, and Jewel are teens, each of them dreading the summer at Sunriver Resort that looms, long and lonely, ahead of them. For Ingrid, this is the first summer at the family vacation home without her younger sister, Olivia, who died six months ago from brain cancer. Penelope has moved to Sunriver with her family, and wants to lose herself in work and songwriting, as she tries to deal with her best friend dating the guy of her dreams back in Texas. Lance’s dad thought a change of scenery would do Lance and him some good, after Lance’s mom left them, but without his gamer friends and video games, he isn’t sure he’ll even survive the summer. Before she left for Sunriver with her large family, Jewel endured a break-up leaving her heart-broken. When each of the teens gets a job at Goody’s fountain shop, it’s serving up sweet treats that brings them together, but it’s the mutual understanding of loss that makes them friends. What starts out as the worst summer ever for these four lonely teens becomes the whoopie pie of all summers – memorable, satisfying, and oh, so sweet.

It's very much a summer book, which is why I decided to submit it now. Hopefully some readers will find it and read it before the sunny season is a distant memory.

Here's a photo collage I made to give folks a feel for the story.

Okay, that's all from me for now. Happy summer!



Friday, June 29, 2018

New book, new book, please buy my new book!

So, it's here!

My message in a bottle book.
My help other people to help yourself forget about your own problems for a little while book.
My divorce sucks but friends really help book.
My I love Vincent van Gogh book.

So many pieces of myself are in SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT. After my husband read it, he said, this is such a Lisa book.

And that it is.

It's not a big splashy title with publisher support, so the problem is not many people even know about it. The cover is kind of bland, sadly. So any help you can give it would be SO appreciated. If you don't have a child who might like to read it, you can buy it and donate it to a school library or a little library in your neighborhood or even a women and children's shelter. It would be a great book for that. Another easy thing you can do is put a request in at your local library and ask them to order it. Whatever you are able to do - THANK YOU!!

Here are links to make it easy to buy online if that's your jam.

Powell's
Barnes and Noble
Amazon

Here's our new kitten, Luna, checking it out!


One other thing exciting thing happened this week. A quote from I Heart You, You Haunt Me made the spine of "Real Simple" magazine.


Okay, that's all for me today. Hope you have a nice holiday next week spending time with family and friends!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A little update

Hi! I haven't been around much, I know.
2018 has been busy and stressful and ugly and beautiful and all the things that life can be. I started a new job in November. In January, I started writing the sequel to SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT and struggled with finding the time to write because my husband herniated a disc in December. Lots of doctor appts, PT appts, taking him to the pool to float to relieve the pain for a while, and more. 
Somehow, I finished the draft and am revising it now. Somehow, we made it through those difficult five months and my husband had surgery last Friday. Somehow, through it all, we grew closer.
As hard as the last five months have been, they have taught me a lot. I'm reminded that good health is worth fighting for, because without it, life becomes difficult and small. I've learned that living in the moment and being present right now is probably the best way to live. And I've learned that I'm stronger than I knew. There were times when I fell into bed at night and wondered if I'd have the strength to get up the next day to do all the things that needed to be done. But the house is still standing. My job is going well. I finished my book. And my husband is finally on the other side of so much pain. When I went to Pink's concert last week, I sang the words, "I am here" along with her, tears streaming down my face. Summer is coming. There are so many things I want to do. I am here. And I am so grateful.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A repeat post - the power of the pre-order

My next middle grade novel, SEE YOU ON A STARRY NIGHT, is up for pre-order at Barnes and Noble. After reading recent announcements about problems the chain is having, I'm worried we're going to lose them like we lost Borders. I love independent bookstores but having a national chain is really important for authors, too. And of course, if you have an independent bookstore in your area, support them. Many independent bookstores have pre-orders available online, as well.

Features a message in a bottle, Vincent van Gogh, a bookmobile, and the pain of divorce. 

Here is a post I wrote and shared in April of 2014. It still applies today.

Dear readers, I am going to tell you something you may not know.

Apparently, Ewoks speak Tibetan


What a surprise, right?

Okay, so maybe I'm going to tell you two things you may not know. Are you ready for the second thing?

Pre-ordering a book is one of the very best things you can do for an author whose work you enjoy.

What does pre-ordering mean, exactly? It means ordering the book before its official release date. I'm pretty sure the most common way people pre-order a book is to buy it through an on-line retailer, but did you know you can also pre-order a book from your favorite independent bookstore? What's great about this is that it lets a local brick-and-mortar store know there is interest in this particular book. If they weren't going to carry it before, or were undecided, a pre-order (or two or three) may help them see the error of their ways.

Some independent bookstores have an on-line ordering system, and as soon as the book is up on their site, you can pre-order it. But you can also call the bookstore and pre-order it that way. I'm pretty certain that whatever works for you will work for them! They want to sell you the books you are excited about, trust me.

So why is the pre-order important? Because it makes the publisher happy to see pre-orders. And if the publisher is happy, good things might happen for the author. For example:

Pre-orders are crucial in helping a bookstore decide whether or not to carry a book. Yes, even the chain stores, because believe it or not, some books are NEVER picked up by the chains. Trust me, this is one of the worst things that can happen to an author. With solid pre-order numbers, the sales rep has a much easier time convincing stores to carry the book.

If another book the author has written is being considered by that publisher, pre-orders might help the publisher say yes to the next project.

If this book has a strong start, the author might get more publisher support/marketing dollars for the next book.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the NYT bestseller list. If a book is getting a lot of buzz and great reviews and there's a chance it could hit the list, pre-orders are vital in this situation, because pre-orders all count toward the first week's sales.

In short, pre-ordering a book is pretty much better than ordering a dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles Bakery and having them delivered to the author's home.


Better than cupcakes, people!! You know I don't say that lightly.

Okay, okay, so you really don't want to pre-order, for whatever reason. Maybe you don't have a credit card and are saving up your hard-earned babysitting money so you can buy the book when it comes out. (Anyone who buys books with their babysitting money is TOTALLY AWESOME, by the way). The next best thing you can do is buy the book in the first week or two that it's out. And then read it, and if you like it, tell all your friends about the book, too. I say this all the time - the best thing you can do for a book you love is to tell people about it. Tweet about it, talk about it, instagram it, whatever.

It's true that any time you buy a book, you are supporting the author, bookstores, the publishing industry, etc. and that is a *VERY* good thing.

But pre-orders? Better than cupcakes.

So there you go. A little Ewok trivia AND some things you may not have known about why pre-orders matter so much.

Monday, January 8, 2018

My first novel is 10 years old today!

10 years.
10. years.
10 YEARS.
10 YEARS!!!!

I remember it all. The rejections from agents that said, among other things:

"It's too short to be a novel."
"It's too sad."
"Poetry isn't my thing."
"I wouldn't know a good verse novel from a bad verse novel."

And then, an email from the wonderful woman who is now my agent of almost twelve years.

"I enjoyed it immensely."
“The verse works here – never getting in the way...”
“I would be the most enthusiastic of advocates.”

After many, many rejections, we found the perfect editor, who really got the book. He, along with many other fabulous people at Simon Pulse, helped turn my manuscript into this book.




More than any other book I've written, this one has brought me many, many heartfelt letters from readers. 

Letters from reluctant readers who said, "I usually hate to read but I love this book."
Letters from kids who never finished an entire novel until this one.
Letters from parents of children with dyslexia who were so happy their kids found a book they could read and enjoy.
Letters from people who had lost someone and found comfort in the pages.

It went into a second printing only a month after it had been released.
It's now in its 11th printing with over 100,000 copies in print. 
I call it "The little book that could."

If you have a few minutes to spare, you can watch the video I made to celebrate the book's release. I originally put it up on my blog at the time at livejournal, and then took it down at some point, maybe because I was embarrassed by it?? Well, I'm older now and have less you-know-whats to give. Anyway, while my book hasn't aged much at all, I can't say the same about myself. Ha!

Happy birthday, little book. I'm so happy you are here and that so many people have found hope and comfort and love in your pages.