If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

August Interviews

8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime

8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It

8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen

8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many

August Guest Bloggers

8/8 Leslie Wheeler

8/15 Jean Rabe

August Interviews

8/22 Kait Carson

8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Different Woman by Carla Damron

I begin 2018 a different woman.

Last year felt nearly bipolar—incredible highs. Devastating lows. (And I’m not talking about politics—you wouldn’t want to get me started about that.)  My much labored-over novel, The Stone Necklace, won a national award. Two days before I received it, I was sitting in the hospital with my mother, wondering if I’d be able to leave town. Wondering if she’d get better. I’m thankful that she rallied and that allowed me my first visit to New Mexico where I joined the amazing women of WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writers Association). Definitely my peak for the year.

My mother had two more hospitalizations when I returned home, and the last one WAS the last one. She passed away on November 8th. Katie Damron was an amazing, creative, opinionated, sharp-tongued, loving, passionate woman who lived a giant life. As her caretaker for the past several years, I’d had the honor of walking the final leg of her journey with her. It taught me so much about aging, and letting go, and dying.

And now I’m learning about grief.

At sixty, I’ve certainly had losses before. I’ve grieved my father, though we weren’t terribly close. I’ve mourned for pets that were like my children. I lost my favorite uncle, my sweet father-in-law, and some wonderful friends.

But nothing like this.

My priest told me to give it a year. That this process will change me. I won’t recover into who I was before, but I’ll recover into someone changed. I’m starting to see that already.

A few things I didn’t know about grief:

Weird things will make me cry. I Christmas shop in a catalog and think, “I should get that scarf for Mom,” and then …

Grief makes me stupid. Seriously. I describe it as firing on three out of four cylinders, or seven out of eight, but I rarely have all of them working for me. I forget important things. I lose my glasses (my husband would argue that that’s been a problem since he met me, which is right, but yesterday was the first time I left them IN MY CLOSET.)  I must write stuff down, stuff that should be automatic for me. My office manager has been so very patient: “Remember we have that five o’clock meeting …”
Sleep is not normal when one grieves. I’ve had weird, anxious dreams in which I am horribly late for important meetings—in jobs where I haven’t worked in years. In another dream, I brought home a Christmas tree that was four feet tall and eight feet wide and I couldn’t understand why everyone thought it odd. Diagnose that, Dr. Freud.

I am not alone in grief. Losing a parent is like suddenly joining a club NOBODY wants to belong to. “I remember when I lost my mom,” so many have said to me, and they’ve taken my hand, and I feel understood.

Holidays potentially suck when you’re grieving. I spent nearly every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter with Mom. Thanksgiving was initially rough, but friends had us over and that was the perfect distraction. I find that making plans, and doing the holidays in a different way than before, renders them easier to manage. Jim and I must invent some new traditions, and that’s okay.

Other people want comfort from me. Mom had hundreds of theater students and many of them see her as family. Her loss devastated many beyond the small circle of our biological family. Sitting with her other “kids,” and remembering the impact she had on them, has been both sad and lovely for me. I know she lives on in them, like she’s a part of me. I hope we can be of help to each other.
Grieving may cause magical thinking. During the last hours of Mom’s life, the candidate we both wanted WON in a Virginia election, a surprising victory for a democrat. I think Mom helped that along. And if she did, there will be more surprises to come …

Managing the business of death is a PAIN IN THE BUTT, and it’s harder when you’re grieving. Mom left her affairs very much in order, but still… yikes. I’ve met with a very nice probate judge, I’ve argued with bank managers, I’ve negotiated with siblings over prized family possessions. And I have stacks of paper that need attention, with more to come. 

And perhaps the hardest one: grieving makes is nearly impossible to write. I want to do it. I need to do it. I sit in my writing spot, and I see the words just offshore, but they won’t come to me. My priest said not to worry about this. That when it’s time to write, I’ll know it, and the words will flow like water. I sure hope she’s right.

Maybe this blog will be the start?

I love a poem by Gwen Flowers about grief, which ends this way:
Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself-
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.

I start 2018 a different woman, and by its end, I may have changed even more.  It’s okay though. Experiences shape us from womb to grave. That’s something else my mom taught me.

Thank you, Katie Damron.

You can learn more about my mom here: http://www.theitem.com/stories/katies-final-bow,298828

PS:  I mentioned weird dreams. Here’s the weirdest: I dreamed Jean-Claude Van Damme had been cast as Huckleberry Finn in a movie! Turns out, I half-slept through a commercial and that movie is actually COMING OUT.


Kait said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Carla. There are no words that can bring the deep comfort to the soul that I know you must crave, but grieving is so important to establish a new normal and everyone has a different timeline. It completes the conversation in some ways.

The Flowers poem is lovely. Katie Damron sounds like quite the lady. A toast back to her, and to you.

Jim Jackson said...

Carla - Grieving is as it should be and it takes just as long as it takes, as long as we don't get stuck in grief. There, writers have an advantage, I think, because we can write about it, whether directly (as in this blog) or indirectly as it informs our work. I'm wishing you all the best for your 2018, and sending a cyber-hug for heeling. If I am lucky enough to see you at the Palmetto SinC meeting later this month, I can turn it into a real one if that helps.

~ Jim

DebbyJ said...

Much love to you and your family, Carla. Grief sucks. It really does. It reminds me of the song Going On A Bear Hunt, the childhood song I used to sing with my kindergarten students, and the part of the song that comes when you reach the “swamp.” Can’t go over it. Can’t go around it. Gotta go through it. Grief is like that swamp. Can’t go over it. Can’t go around it. Gotta go through it. Love you, my friend. I have big shoulders. Feel free to use them.

carla said...

Thanks for the warm, lovely comments. Jim, I DO plan to see you at Palmetto SinC! And yes, can't go around it, must go through it. I'm learning so much along the way.

E. B. Davis said...

Van Damme as Huck? Fact really is stranger than fiction.

I understand your loss. Parents are (or at least should be) the two people in the world who love you unconditionally. They would die in your place. You have been their focus all of your life. You are strong enough to stand alone, but knowing that doesn't really help because like trees in a forest, your roots are intertwined. Without their support, you have to grow your roots deeper. That takes time. At first, all you'll see is the empty space her loss has created. Later, you'll see the sunshine pouring down filling that empty space--her gift to you--and gratitude and appreciation of her will live in you. Be gentle and patient with yourself.

Warren Bull said...

You are so right. People talk about "coming to terms" with someone that close to you dies. But It's not a negotiation. My "terms" with my father's death are that he return as healthy as he once was. None of that is going to happen. Change will take place over time. How much time varies from one person to another. The "new normal" will not be the same as the old one. You will have a hole in your heart but you will at some point be able to remember with sadness and cherished memories.

Unknown said...

Carla... I'm so sorry for the loss of your incredible Mom. I wish I'd met her, what a spirit! I remember when I lost my Mom I truly felt like an orphan for awhile. Time does heal, along with the love and warmth of friends and pets. Sending love to you.
Lyn Phillips

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Don't fight grief, live with it. When my mother died eight months after my father, I was an orphan. No more daily phone calls. I was exhausted. I lived in a stupor for months. A year later, we enjoyed Thanksgiving in a new place. Family holidays assumed a new meaning.

Take care of yourself.

KM Rockwood said...

I'm sorry for your loss. And happy for your successes. Life is like that, a combination of the devastatingly sad and the wonderfully joyful. I'm sure you will eventually find peace. Your mother knew she was loved, and I'm sure she was proud of you.