Today we welcome paranormal romance author Elisabeth Naughton to the blog. Grab a snack and pull up a chair for this inspiring story she has to share with us today – and don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win her latest book!
Thanks so much to Jamie for inviting me to guest blog at Variety Pages today! My second Eternal Guardians book, ENTWINED, releases next week on July 27, 2010. It’s a very fun time for me as excitement for the series is really starting to pick up and readers are falling in love with my guardians. And it’s even more exciting because seeing ENTWINED on store shelves is something I once thought I might never live to see.
Back in June of 2009 when I was in the process of writing ENTWINED, I took a break in my writing schedule for a minor medical procedure, something I’d been putting off for months but knew needed taken care of. I had the procedure on a Friday in early June, planned to take the weekend off from writing to recover, then was going to dive back into Zander & Callia’s book on Monday. At that point I was just about one hundred pages into the manuscript and hitting my writing stride, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the story. Sunday night, however, my plans took a drastic dive. After a tumultuous weekend, I was admitted to the ER and spent the next week in ICU with a severe case of toxic shock. The prognosis wasn’t good, my family wasn’t sure if I was going to survive or not. Unbeknownst to me, I’d contracted the flesh eating bacteria in my blood stream, and it was systematically attacking my organs. It took a few days for the doctors to figure that out, another few days for the medications to start working, and even then things were touch and go. Just about the time the doctors thought my body was shutting down, I miraculously made a turn for the better.
I have no memory of that week in ICU, which my husband and family all tell me is a good thing. I spent another week in the hospital recovering and then was finally sent home. But being home was actually harder than being in the hospital. I lost twenty pounds and all my muscle tone, spent weeks going for IV antibiotic therapy and looked (according to my sister in law) like a corpse. My body was still fighting off a major infection and though I wasn’t in danger of dying anymore, the recovery process was slow and exhausting. The good news is that the body is an amazing thing, and I am now 100% recovered, but it took a good six months to start feeling like my old self, and it all happened while I was on deadline for ENTWINED.
I wasn’t able to write until October. When I said the body is an amazing thing, I meant it. This was the first time in my writing life that I had nothing happening in my creative mind. No characters were talking to me, no stories were circulating. Every time I thought about writing, there was just nothing there to write. As days passed to weeks and weeks to months, I wondered if I’d ever write again. I had this book that I’d started—that my editor was waiting for—and while I could read it and see the potential for the story it would someday be, I couldn’t work on it.
I talked to writer friends who said, “Don’t worry, it’ll come back.” I talked to my agent and editor, both of whom said, “Take your time, we want you healthy.” I talked to my husband, who told me, “Stop stressing and focus on getting well.” I tried. But always in the back of my mind was this voice whispering, “You should be writing.”
I’ve heard writers talk about writer’s block. I had this image in my mind of writers simply being distracted or procrastinating. I’d never experienced writer’s block before, but I’m here to tell you it is a REAL thing. When the body is extremely stressed or ill (as in my case), it focuses its energy toward healing itself, and creativity takes a back seat to what’s most important. The human body is incredible, don’t you think? That it can take a person from being death-bed sick to well in only a matter of months? That it has the capacity to heal in the first place and knows what it needs before the conscious brain does?
As I grew physically stronger, that creative well I’d thought was dry began to fill again. By October I had scene snippets flickering in my mind and one day I sat down at the computer and out poured a scene. I picked up where I’d left off, right around page one hundred, and I wrote and wrote and wrote until I couldn’t write anymore. I turned ENTWINED in to my editor just after Christmas and waited, sure she would hate it. But to my surprise she loved it, more than anything else I’d ever written.
When I look at ENTWINED, I see this book in two parts – what I wrote before I got sick and what I wrote after. I don’t think anyone else can see that, and my friends and colleagues who have read the book agree with my editor in that it’s my strongest book to date. Over the past six months or so, I’ve often wondered why that is. I don’t have an answer except to say sometimes the hardest things in life turn out to be gems we couldn’t see at the time. This book challenged me in ways nothing else ever has, and I know I’m a better writer today because of it. I definitely don’t want to get sick in the middle of another book, but I learned some valuable lessons about my body, my creativity, and my capacity to do what needs to be done. If nothing else, I have faith now that I can work under pressure. Extreme pressure.
I’ve got a copy of ENTWINED to give away to one lucky commenter today. The question is not only pertinent to me, but to my characters and the struggles they go through in ENTWINED. Simply tell me…have you ever experienced a time in your life when you faced tragedy and overcame it?
A previous junior-high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her debut release, Stolen Fury, heralded by Publisher’s Weekly as “A rock-solid debut,” was recently nominated for two prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America in the Best First Book category and the Best Romantic Suspense category. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ball park or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. To learn more about Elisabeth, visit her website at www.elisabethnaughton.com.
Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Elisabeth! I can’t imagine how scary it must have been first going through the illness, and then wondering if you’d ever be able to write again. Your strength and resilience is very inspiring.
If you haven’t read Elisabeth’s work, now’s the time! Personally, I loved Marked, and can’t wait to get a copy of Entwined when it’s released. Comments are open! You have until midnight tonight to enter the contest.