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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over ~ Breast Cancer and Me

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m able to start over because cancer didn’t win. This enemy attacked not once, but twice. Yet I’m still here. So now it’s time to pick myself up and reclaim my normal activities–living, loving, writing, playing canasta and mah-jong and whatever else comes along. If I hide under the bed, I will have lost the battle despite being cancer free, and that is not acceptable.

It’s not that I’m stronger than anyone else. Really, I’m not. I’ve had wonderful support from family, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers. This breast cancer sisterhood is not isolated. It draws in brothers, sisters, husbands, co-workers, neighbors, everyone who knows you, everyone who cares about you and everyone who loves you. These are the allies. They were my allies. They shared their strength and offered help as well as hope.

In the end, however, women are the ones who sit in cotton gowns waiting for the mammogram report. It is a routine exam, but our hearts race as the technician walks over. When she smiles and says, “You’re free to go,” we know we’ve received another reprieve. Safe ’til next year.

Or not. In 2001, I found my first tumor myself six months after having had a mammogram. So my battle cry for you is: Vigilance. Self-exams. Mammograms. You’ve heard it before: early detection is the key to survival. The word’s out on television, news articles and in magazines. And yet…and yet…we too often hide.

Have you heard the joke about Cleopatra being Queen of “de-nial?” Well, too many of us qualify for that crown. Including me. I waited weeks before I could admit I was actually feeling something in my breast. Maybe it would go away tomorrow…or the next day…  Maybe I’d walked into a wall and bruised myself…and the bruise swelled a bit… Yeah, yeah, the imagination is sometimes NOT a wonderful thing. (But don’t say that to writers of fiction 🙂

During my last bout with the disease – detected through a mammogram – I can across a website called No Surrender. How’s that for a catchy, uplifting name? Turns out, I not only liked the supportive tone, but I appreciated the layman’s presentation of their Breast Cancer 101 section. They covered the gamut from interpreting a diagnosis to what to expect for all possible treatments. I would recommend this website as a starting point for anyone with questions about breast cancer.

Now, I have a question for you:  have you scheduled your mammogram for this year?  If you have any questions for me, please comment below and enter to win a copy of Family Interrupted.  Drawing at the end of the month. 

Wishing you all the best of health. Hope to see you next time for another edition of Starting Over!

Linda

 

 

Writing is What I Do…

Linda at front doorI’m starting over in a new home.

Last year, Mike and I moved to an “active” retirement community in Florida. We discovered that we’re not 55 and older.  We’re 55 and better. We discovered that almost half the residents are still working-many full-time. A line of cars leaves every morning and returns at night.  The rest of the community is so busy, busy, busy. Who has time to retire?

I sure don’t. With a clean bill of health, I’m back to writing, writing, writing. Because that’s what I do. That’s what I enjoy. Which is the answer Neil Diamond gave when asked why he was still traveling around the country giving concerts.  “Because singing is what I do.” He loves his work just as I love mine. I attended one of his concerts a few years ago in Houston, and for a few hours forgot all my troubles as Sweet Caroline, Forever in Blue Jean and so many other favorites filled the air. I thought Diamond’s voice was better than ever. He gave a hundred and ten percent of himself to the audience that night. I’ll remember that concert for a long time.

Just as Neil Diamond’s goal may be to entertain audiences, my goal is to offer an emotional story with characters you’ll care about and remember after the last page is turned. I hope my writing improves with every book. I also understand, however, that I won’t please everyone all of the time. And that’s okay as long as I write the very best story I can.

I’m starting over in a new genre, extending my reach into women’s fiction or some might say plan old general fiction. <Sigh>  Categorizing books these days seems to be almost as challenging as writing them!  However, I love the stories of Jodi Picoult, Barbara O’Neal, Emily Giffin, Barbara Delinsky, Elizabeth Berg and so many other wonderful writers–and I don’t worry about how to categorize them. I just read them!

Family Interrupted is my first novel of this type and I intend to write more of these bigger stories with satisfying endings. However, I’ll also continue in the romance genre because I love writing a ‘happily ever after’ ending as well. Isn’t that what we all want in real life?

Have you read any books recently that are lingering in your mind? Tell us about them in the comment section below. Book lovers are always looking for another great read. I just finished reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. I loved it. Clever, emotional, so warm and wise. And my book club is discussing it this week. Can’t wait for that.

See you next time,

Linda

P.S. Almost Forgot!!  CONTEST!! You have a chance to win a copy of Family Interrupted or a copy of  any of my backlist books just by leaving a comment. I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month.

HELLO AGAIN ….

I’ve been away from my website and the Internet for a couple of years which is a long time in our hyperlink- connecting, Facebooking and Twittering world. And I haven’t had a new book out since 2010. Fortunately, that vacuum is now filled. There was a reason for my absence which I’ll tell you in a minute. First, I must say that I’ve missed you. I’ve missed chatting and connecting through my books. I’ve missed your emails and the book reviewers with their comments both serious and funny.

Now, I’m starting over.

Those of you who’ve followed my work and who’ve previously visited on the web, know that I’m a wife, mother, grandmother and the author of thirteen romance novels in print. My stories can make you laugh or cry, sometimes both at once. Laughter through tears defines the kind of story I love to read myself. My stories are about ordinary people—often entire families—in crisis, each person struggling to reach their happy endings . In December 2010, I began my own struggle for a happy ending, a second battle with breast cancer. Thankfully, I survived once more, and the docs all say I can look forward to a natural lifespan.

So…I’m starting over.

New books. New website. New blog. New kind of publishing.

And it doesn’t stop there. New house, new state and new places to explore. New hobbies, too. Anyone for pickleball?

Same husband. A very good decision. 1

I’ll be posting here on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’ll write about being a woman and an author. About life, love, and family. I’ll write about writing! About books I’ve enjoyed and those you can recommend. I’ll also share bits and pieces about my breast cancer experiences. Whether we have good days or bad, good years or bad ones, we’re still here laughing, crying, living, loving and talking among ourselves.

I’m all about starting over this year, and I hope you’ll join me for the conversation.

Until next time,

Linda