Soaring Through Stars

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Give me 10 Seconds, and I’ll give you the Stars!

STARS FRONT COVER FINAL APRIL 17_2015-2ORDER NOW from AMAZON! 

Did you read Swimming Through Clouds?

Did you try Seeing Through Stones?

Want to go Soaring Through Stars??

Leggo! BOOK THREE of the Swimming Through Clouds Trilogy! 

Released April 23rd

GirlsCovers

 

JUST wanted to share the News!!

Best,

-Raj

p.s. My Talented Niece, Deepa Paulus, designed the cover!

Dive into Masala-Marinated YA Fiction

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                                                  AVAILABLE NOW!!!    

 

 

                       Swimming Through Clouds Front Cover March24 2015SeeingThroughStones_Front_Cover_April2015

 

Awards for Swimming Through Clouds

B.R.A.G. Medallion for Young Adult Fiction

Finalist (2nd Place) NORWA (YA Fiction)

Finalist Women of Faith Full Manuscript
Finalist Wisconsin RWA Honorable Mention (YA Fiction)

“A work of art…”

-USA Today, Happy Ever After writer Serena Chase

 

“Tough and touching, resilient and raw…”
 -Tosca Lee, NY Times bestselling author of
HAVAH and The Books of Mortals series with Ted Dekker

 

 ”A poignant but realistic tale ~Sheila Wray Gregoire, Syndicated Columnist, Canadian National Award-Winning Speaker, Blogger, and Author of  multiple books on Marriage and Intimacy

“…Characters who come to life in each page.Diana Mao, President of Nomi Network

“…Will leave you gasping for air, reaching for something  steady to lean on…”
~ Jennifer Murgia, author of the ANGEL STAR series & 
BETWEEN THESE LINES

 

“…Difficult to read but even more difficult to put down.”
~Brown Girl Magazine
GoodReads Book Review

 ”Should be read by everyone … men and women, the young and the old.”~Masala Mommas Book Review by Angie Seth

“…This patient, subtle romance is intimate and enticing.”~Talking Cranes, Book Review by Viveka Kymal 

 ”This is not a bubble-gum, high school sweetheart kind of story.” 
~Laura Anderson Kurk, author of
GLASS GIRL and PERFECT GLASS

  

                           

Hubby’s Ironman Heart

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So the other night, I dreamt I slept with Ironman. Who says, dreams don’t come true?

In the morning, Hubby drives over to the hospital for his surgery. I sit in the passenger seat, fully aware that I will be his chauffeur for the next two weeks, which won’t be easy, because Hubs absolutely prefers to be in the driving seat. When we arrive at NorthShore in Manhasset, a couple of friends greet us. They came to be a support. Shortly afterward, Hubby’s family meets us in the waiting room, and between the company and all the texts and messages conveying well wishes—I certainly feel surrounded.

Off they whisk Santhosh for bloodwork and as we wait, Jack, whose wife has her fair share of frequent flyer miles in the hospital, says, “A lot of the time is just waiting.” Waiting for your turn. Waiting for the surgery to finish. Waiting for recovery. And then waiting for the green light to go home. It was nice to not wait alone.

When the waiting room volunteer calls Santhosh’s name, all six of us stand up, and he puts his hand out to stop us. “Woah! Maybe one or two of you can come back there, but not everyone.” Jack insists I go first. And when I see him, Hubs is already gowned up and laying on a hospital bed, just waiting for his turn in the O.R.

“I asked the guy what time you were going in,” I tell Hubs. “He said the first guy showed up over an hour late, so even though you’re second, it’ll be a little bit.” I playfully tug on his chest hair. “This will probably set the whole schedule back a few hours, if you ask me.” Hubs laughs, so I add, “Wait. Hold still,” as I fish out my lipliner. “Should I draw a big X over your heart so they won’t miss?” and we laugh some more.

Papers signed and prayers said, the surgeon shows up to answer any last second questions. They’re putting in a sub-cutaneous defibrilator or ICD to give his heart a fighting chance if the fibrosis from the HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) causes an arrhythmia.

“You might never need it,” Dr. B., the surgeon says, “But if you do, you’ll have it.” And with all we’ve learned about hubby’s condition in the last six months, this seems like the best next step to moving forward. The doc also explains, “This device will sit under your skin, under the left arm, and the wires will run across and up your chest and sit above the ribcage, not touching or entering the heart muscle as in devices of the past.”

I ask, “How big is it?” and he makes a two by two square box with his fingers and then a centimeter space between two fingers to show the thickness, but assures us, “As the years go on, technology will get better and the ICD will get smaller and the battery life longer.”

Hubby’s brother brings a ’91 Bulls Championship cap to show his baby brother because he knows him well – pretty much anything to do with the Bulls cheers Santhosh up. Jack tells a few stories, and Hubby’s mom insists we take a few pictures.

A kiss. A look. And they roll Hubby down to the OR while we head to get coffee. Hubby’s mom stays with me, telling me stories which makes the time go by rather quickly. When two hours pass, we walk back to the waiting room, and sit down, but I recognize my need to be alone and tell Amma, “I’m right outside,” And exit the room and pace up and down the hallway.

Worry suddenly floods my mind: He should be done by now. What’s taking so long? Has something gone wrong? Why hasn’t anyone come out to talk to us? As the tears begin to spill, I pour out my fears to the one who knows my every thought, and as I pray, the tears just keep coming like a dam break I cannot contain. Pacing and crying. Crying and pacing, finally, I catch sight of the surgeon approaching the waiting room.

Deep breath. “You’re just the person I’ve been looking for,” I tell him, and he smiles. Assures me hubby did great.

“And the device works great. We tested it, and it worked on the first try.”

I saw hubby’s expression as the surgeon explained earlier that they would create a situation where he would need the ICD in order to test it. Santhosh’s face said it all. He knew that meant to make his heart have an irregular rythm in order to see if the ICD would correct it.

Maybe Dr. B. saw the worry on my face, because he followed with, “Don’t worry, he was completely out when we tested it, and he’s still pretty groggy with the anesthesia. Someone will come and get you when they roll up him to recovery.”

He walks in and talks to Santhosh’s mom, conveying the good news, and I walk back outside to call my Dad. Dad barely picks up his phone and I am a hot mess, trying to hide it, but he knows I’m crying right away. “What’s wrong? Is he okay? Is everything okay?” Dad asks.

“Yes. Everything’s great. Everything went fine.”

“Then why are you crying?”

And all I can say is, “I don’t know.” But as I hang up with my dad, I know. I’m simply overwhelmed. Maybe I’ve been holding it in. It is so real now. Hubby really has some crazy device inside him now. And from now on, he can no longer go through airport metal detectors. That’s just one of the changes we will deal with from now on.

But I don’t cry with just anyone. Something about talking to my dad, and later when he calls me back and asks, “How’s my crybaby doing?” I thank him for being there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on, even if it was over the phone. And I make sure to laugh and tell him, “I’m good now.”

Several hours later, Santhosh is finally alert enough to talk, a huge ace bandage wrapped around most of his chest. Just as predicted, they shaved his whole chest, and he recounts the prep team’s poking fun at my man of many hairs. One guy said the classic, “Time to take the sweater off,” while another joked, “Get a few razors. Heck bring the whole bag.” But he can’t laugh, because laughing hurts. Any movement hurts right now.
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Nine o’clock rolls around by the time a room opens up, and the girls are able to visit him. And Sarah, our youngest, asks some poignent questions while eyeing her dad in the hospital gown under the covers. “So… are you wearing underwear under there?” is her first. Twenty minutes later: “Is it weird to sleep naked?” And finally, “Are you sure you don’t want to put on some shorts, Daddy?”

Questions answered, good night kisses given, we leave hubby to rest and drive home to sleep.

The next day, I drive back to the hospital and wait for hubby to get discharged.

When hubby first received his surgery day, Sarah and I went straight to the toy store on a secret mission. We came back and after dinner gave Hubby the goods. When he unwrapped the package, he smiled ear to ear as he ran his fingers over Ironman’s heart. “I think I’ll grow out my goatee like Tony Stark to make it official,” he said, and we all gave him the thumbs up.

As we drove home the day after his surgery, I asked him, “How does your body not react to the device? I mean, it’s a foreign device inside you?”

“It’s made of Titanium,” Hubs says, a metal that the body does not generally fight off for medical reasons I haven’t looked up yet.

Then Hubby Google’s Ironman, and says, “I guess you were spot on.”

“About what?” I’m driving so I don’t know what he’s reading.

“Ironman’s suit.” Hubby smiles. “Guess what it’s made of.” And together we say it.

“Titanium.”

When we arrive home, I leave to pick up some pain meds, which he needs asap as the earlier dose is quickly wearing off. And we’re taking every moment in stride. I joke with how he should enjoy this royal treatment. “It’s not every day I get to help you put your socks on.”

He says, “This is what it will be like when we grow old together.” And all I can think is, I hope that we can grow old together now that you have an ICD, but I know full well, every day is a gift. There are no guarantees.

But I thank God for today. For my Sunshine making it through surgery. For being surrounded by friends and family. And for a chance to keep moving forward with Cycling for Change. Because Hope changes everything. I’m aware of the power of hope more than ever these days. It’s time to share it.

Amazon Found Me! And Wrote About my Books!

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Just thought I’d share this fun news with all my readers!

Last summer, I received an email from a guy who worked for Amazon. I must admit, I didn’t believe it was legit at first, even with “Amazon” in his email address. But the letter was long and sweet, thoughtful and very encouraging—and this Editor from Amazon read my first book, Swimming Through Clouds! And he loved it!

I boldly asked him if he read the sequel and he hadn’t. Yet. A few days later I received another email raving about Seeing Through Stones. He wanted to talk to me. So I dialed his number and we had a lengthy conversation about my short but exciting writing career. And he wanted to know more, so he asked if he could interview me formally and propose an article to his manager to be published on Amazon’s site.

He wanted to share my story with Amazon customers, and October came along and hubby had to travel to Seattle for business. I joined him, and at this point, four months had passed and no interview with the Amazon guy happened. I once again boldly emailed my new friend over at Amazon, and said, “You know, I’ll be in the neighborhood if you still want to do that interview. We could do it in person rather than on the phone.” He agreed.  And with Amazon headquarters right there in Seattle, he worked a few blocks from our hotel so we met downtown, and he showed me his Amazon badge, and even up to this point, I wondered if this whole thing was real.

Then he said, “It’s such a beautiful day. We should find a place that Talia and Lagan would want to go to do the interview,” and we walked a short distance to the only ‘park’ in the city. One that did not have a willow, and during the summer did have a waterfall, but it was turned off at this point. I was touched by this alone and then we sat at a table and talked for over an hour, his laptop and mic set up, and the backround of traffic off in the distance.

It was a sweet interaction and maybe I’m just used to being open, but I answered all his questions and felt comfortable to tell him the ups and downs of my publishing journey. When we rose to part ways, he walked me back half way to my hotel since it was on the way to Amazon and this is the part that I’ll never forget. The direction of the interview changed and he shared a very tough time that he had gone through. I was moved by his vulnerabilty, and I was reminded one more time why I write. Because this life is tough to navigate. The extremes of what we go through catch us off guard and we fumble and fall as we try to walk through another day of madness. These are the stories I want to write so that, maybe, together, we can learn how to walk these waters. And swim through the clouds of life, together.

Months go by, and as in most big companies, things take time, and there were certainly days when I doubted anything would come of the interview. But the story is now live and  ready for your reading and listening and sharing!

Thanks always for all the book love and support!

Stay true. Stay real. And love while today is called today.

-Raj

LINK to ARTICLE: https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1002999561

Learning to Live with Cardiomyopathy – Take One

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So we venture into New York City together yesterday. The trip on the Long Island Railroad we usually take for dates is to meet with a cardiomyopathy specialist, Dr. Mark Sherrid. When we reach Penn Station, we follow signs for the subway, and after filing through the turnstile, I hear a train so I race down the steps and yell back to hubby to hurry. “It’s our train!”

 

But he’s still at the top of the steps. The first train rides off, but a second arrives moments later. Hubby steps on and I follow. Then he looks back, reads a sign, and announces that we’re on the wrong train. “This one’s going to Brooklyn!”

 

So I jump off, but the doors close. And hubby’s still on. Well, all of him but his hand. Pulling out my Superhero cape, I quickly reach into that tight opening and attempt to pry the doors open, all the while thinking I’m about to say goodbye. We’ll be separated and have to find a way to meet back up.
But the doors open and hubby jumps off. Only to realize that that was the correct train, and we panicked for nothing. But man did we have a good laugh. Laughed so hard at the drama and the whole scenario, especially my ridiculous attempt to rescue him.

 

When we arrive at the doctor’s office after a much needed coffee run, a very bright NP spends a long time with us, going over hubby’s history and how his diagnosis was discovered, and then we move to an examining room. This is the first time I watch hubby get an EKG on his heart. Poor guy has to get a couple new patches on his chest shaved. And as I watch him lay there with his eyes closed while the machine pitches out his rhythm, I fall in love again.

 

And when the EKG nurse leaves, hubby steps off the table and holds up a random sign laying on the desk, and says, “Time for a selfie?” I shake my head no, tickled that he still finds a way to make me laugh even here. In this moment when we both knew this is serious.

 

When the doc comes in, he chats for a bit, and then begins to examine hubby, and when hubby sits up, the doc says, “Archery. You should consider taking up archery. Think you’d be good at it.”

We all laugh. “I’ve always liked Legolas from Lord of the Rings. Sure. I could try it,” Hubby says.

 

But all I can think is I know why the cardiologist said it. Archery doesn’t require running fast. It won’t make Hubby’s heart beat too fast. Or work too hard.

 

When hubby asks him a question about athletic heart, the doc begins to listen to hubby’s heart with a stethoscope. “Shhhhh,” the doc answers, and I see Hubby’s face.
His raised eyebrows say, “Did I just get shushed?”

 

And I smile back. Yep. My baby just got shushed.

 

After a few more questions about hubby’s history, we move to the doctor’s office and take a look at the Echo and MRI images, and I feel like I’m in a med school lab. I have never understood what is what on the screen until the cardiologist points to the chambers and then zeroes in on the septum. “See here.” Then he takes a virtual ruler and measures the thickness. “It’s close to 18 mm.”

 

And the number is only a couple of a millimeters worse than what we originally thought. But when you’re talking the area inside of your heart, every millimeter of extra muscle is that much less space for blood to flow through. The larger number feels like a punch in the gut for me. I want him to change it. But then he measures the same area on the MRI images and the numbers are similar, and everything hits me harder than the first time. Maybe because now it isn’t just a number on a paper, but right there in front of my eyes is hubby’s heart. Beating. Pumping. Hurting. Broken.

 

Dr. Sherrid then begins to talk about what Hubby’s next steps are. How he should exercise in moderation. But no more competitive sports. No more biking up hill. No more push-ups or pull ups. In fact, no more lifting any weights over fifty pounds. Sarah-Bear, our youngest, is close to forty pounds. Grateful for the last fourteen years when hubby carried each of our girls. Some days all four at once.

 

Aware that those days are over, I try to focus on what hubby can do. He can still bike. On flat paths. He can still kayak. On quiet waters. He can still do a lot. I am so thankful for all this. I nod as the doctor talks about how important it is for hubby to realize that he will now work out to stay fit, not to make his heart better. He can’t make his heart better. But he can hopefully help his heart not to get worse.

 

One glance is all it takes. A tear. Then two slip down hubby’s cheek. And I can’t keep looking at him, because now I’m tearing up too. Fighting to gain my composure, I ask the doctor, “How often should he follow-up?” and Dr. Sherrid, his eyes downcast, says, “Once a year.”

 

And as we rise from our chairs, the doc says, “Just remember. No one leaves this life unscathed. We all have to go through something. Keep your perspective.”

 

Dr. Sherrid was warm. Funny. Wise. And spoke with the authority that his years of experience gave him. And we both walk out of there knowing he’s right. We are one of the lucky ones. We found out about hubby’s condition while his heart still beats. We know what it means to count our blessings. We hold on tightly to the one who blesses. Who gives and takes away.

 

And as we walk back to Columbus Circle, I thank God again for being so real during a time when I need to know for sure. And as we ride back on the train I tell hubby, “Man, God sure does love you.” And then I correct myself. “Actually, it’s all about me. It always has been since I’m God’s favorite. The mess of a mess that I am, God just knew I’d be such a worse mess without you.”

 

Hubby laughs.

 

“So a little longer?” I ask.
He nods.

 

Thank you God for a little longer. Thank you.

 

One Heartbeat at a Time

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My Sunshine and I endured a one-hour road trip down winding roads, around mountainsides, past palm trees and street vendors selling mangos and star fruit, guava and passion fruit. All because the only OB on the island of Dominica that had a functioning sonogram machine was in the capital city of Roseau. Except that when we arrived, the machine was down. Five months passed, and aside from the nausea and food aversions, I still wondered if I really was pregnant.

 

When we arrived back in the States, and Hubs came with me to my first appointment with an OB in Michigan, the doctor covered my tummy with a cool gel and then pointed to the screen. “Hear that?”

 

The whooshing sound grew stronger as she moved the device.

 

“Your baby has a lovely heart beat!” she said, and the tears began to flow and when I looked over to hubby, he was tearing up too.

 

This was for real. We were really pregnant, and this baby was on her way. Her heart beating was the song I had longed to hear for all these months, and it was even more amazing and precious than I had dreamed it would be.

 

When our second princess was born, the doctor told us she had a heart murmur and she would very possibly outgrow it. She did.

 

On Monday, December 8, 2014, I had just dropped off my youngest at school when hubby texted for me to please come home. He needed to talk to me. I left my laptop in the car, thinking whatever it was, I could hear him out and then get on with my day and my writing. Barely inside the front door, hubby met me and pulled me into his arms as he barely managed to say the words, “Julie’s son, Mikey.”

 

“What is it? What’s wrong? Is he hurt? Has there been an accident?”

 

But he only said two words, “His heart.”

 

And as we wept in silence before going over to our dear friend’s house, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what none of us could change. Twenty-five year old Michael Gomez, Division One Wrestling hero, State Champion, coach, and up and coming police officer had a heart attack in his sleep, and an entire community hurt deeply for the loss of such a treasure. And for the pain of two parents, two younger brothers, grandparents and all those who were grappling with the devastation.

 

It was a long week as funeral preparations were underway, and during the service, whatever each person heard, no one walked out of there without the sober reminder that no one is guaranteed tomorrow. Each day is a gift. Each heart beat.

 

During this particular week, hubby who had been training for the past sixteen months to cycle from Seattle to New York City started a work up on his own heart in search of an explanation to an abnormal stress test he had—one in which he felt little to no discomfort, but the readings clearly showed a lack of blood supply to his heart when his pulse reached 160. But when he stepped off the treadmill, it took fifteen minutes for this to go away and a normal flow to return.

 

One test lead to another and with each step, it seemed that maybe it was just a false positive or maybe the machine was broken. I suggested his generous gift of chest hairs interfered with the readings. His coronaries were clean, and he’d never felt so fit in his whole life. The final test was an MRI on his heart, and the cardiologists and hubby felt pretty certain it would be fine too, and they’d have to somehow dig deeper. But then the MRI Tech called for him to return to get more images.

 

This whole time, I felt at peace. But that afternoon when I got the text that he had to go back in for more pictures, my panic button went off. Why did they need more pictures? What did they see? I needed to talk to someone. Someone I could cry with. So I called my parents. And as I spoke with Mom and Dad, I told them my fears, and they listened, encouraged me, and made me laugh, and called me, Crybaby. When my mom asked me, “Why are you crying?”

 

I said, “I don’t know. I just needed to cry. So I called you.” And she passed the phone back to my dad. He reminded me to trust God and just be patient.

 

The next day after hubby came out of his second MRI, I knew from the look on his face that he knew something. They saw something. And as we sat in the car, he told me that the tech suspected thickening of his septum (the middle passageway in the heart) and the diagnosis was very likely cardiomyopathy.
When he got the official report the next day, hubby met me outside and this was the first time in two weeks of testing that he broke down. We made our way to the kitchen table as he read the report to me and explained the terms to me. He has hypertrophic cardio myopathy, and there’s no way he can cycle across the country. Moreover, he can’t really do anything right now to make his heart work too hard while we wait it out and let his muscles inside his heart hopefully return to a healthier thickness.

 

Telling the girls wasn’t easy, but our second princess offered to wake up twenty minutes early so he and she could walk to school together. J Walking is safe for hubby to do. And in the midst of tears around the dinner table, my fifteen-year old nephew who was visiting for Christmas Googles something on his iPod and says, “I know this is really sad news, but I want to encourage you.” And he proceeded to share verses from the Bible on God’s grace and hope and love for his uncle at this time. The words were like rays on sunshine piercing through our cloud-covered hearts.

 

FullSizeRender-1So these days, we are counting our blessings. First and foremost, hubby is still with us. The diagnosis was found fairly early. He’s still leading the c4c Cycling for Change team, just from a driver’s seat of the RV now. And he just fixed the leak under the kitchen sink, for which he earned a Superman coffee mug. He’s my hero, even if the sink still leaked. Because maybe there’s something wrong with hubby’s heart from a medical perspective, but sometimes I wonder if his heart became too strong, not from all the cycling or some genetic disposition but rather from loving me so hard. And so much.

 

And as we lay in bed on the morning of the New Year, I said, “Good Morning. I want to dedicate a song to you for 2015.” And then I pressed play on my phone as Smokey Robinson broke it down for us. “One Heartbeat at a Time.”

 

Because sixteen years ago, we vowed, “To have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health…” And as I dropped off hubby to the airport this morning for a class, he sent me a text after he got through security.

 

“Love you! Thanks for being my rock! For what for you foreva!”

 

Because that’s how our love story started. We promised to wait for each other. And now we continue to wait on God. As God unravels this new chapter, we wait as He helps us to understand Hubby’s new normal. Our new normal. And for as many heartbeats as he gives Hubby, I’m so thankful to be the one to get to hold his hand. Be held in his arms. And walk this life with him.

 

One heartbeat. At a time.

 ***

And you? Have you been needing a word of hope and encouragement during this new year? What challenges are you facing? How can I pray for you?

 

 

Top Ten Reasons to Remember 9/11

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Some say you shouldn’t dwell on the past. Others say why bring up the sad moments. Move on. Let’s talk about happy things and not keep bringing it up.

I used to call myself an optimist, looking for that positive spin on everything. Now, I’m more of a live-life-ist. Because every day will not run to the beat of #Happy. But we have to keep going. Keep living. And still value each day and each other.

Here are my TOP TEN Reasons to Remember 9/11:

  1. WE came together to mourn. If all the tears shed the days and nights those first year filled the valleys of the Rockies they would reach the peeks and overflow. Many times.
  2. WE came together to search. For weeks on end, firefighters, police, and lay people spent day and night, enduring smoke inhalation and the dangers of the rubble, hoping to find even one survivor. Beds were set up at hospitals across the city and Brooklyn. We didn’t want to give up.
  3. WE came together to comfort each other. I don’t know how many strangers I hugged during those weeks in NYC. And many hugged me.
  4. WE came together to care for those left behind. Donations were taken up for survivors and those who lost loved ones. Meals were shared. We gave and gave, even when we knew we couldn’t replace the greatest loss.
  5. WE came together to rebuild. When the dust had settled, and the search was called off, we began the painful process of rebuilding. Two incredible reflecting pools lay where the towers fell and the Freedom Tower soars above the NYC skyline, an emblem of endurance.
  6. WE came together to rethink things. What does it mean to be safe? How can we keep each other safe from future attacks? How can be more aware of those around us and be there when we see someone in trouble.
  7. WE came together to learn what it means to stand up and fight back. Especially from people like Todd Beamer.
  8. We came together to remember what we value. Not tall buildings. Communication. Family. Friends. Neighbors. Each other.
  9. We came together to live again. Even in the face of fear. We chose and we continue to choose to keep going. And endure.
  10. We came together.

**

If you lost someone during 9/11, my heart goes out to you. None of us will ever forget that day. Where we were. When we first heard. How we saw the towers fall. But I hope, after thirteen years and for all the years to come, as we reflect on this tragedy in our history, we will also remember one thing:

We came together.

***

Rajdeep Paulus, Award-winning author of Swimming Through Clouds and Seeing Through Stones, decided to be a writer during her junior year in high school after her English teacher gave her an “F” but told her she had potential. She studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and she writes masala-marinated, Young Adult Fiction, blogging for MasalaMommas, Brown Girl Magazine, Playlist Fiction, Nomi Network and her own site at rajdeeppaulus dot com.

TOP Ten Things to FEAR While Biking Across the Country

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At the beginning of the summer, the thirty second videos started rolling in. Then celebrities began jumping on board and tagging other celebrities. And then by mid summer, I think more than half my FB posts were images of ice water dumped on beautiful dry heads. And then screams. And water exploding from my screen, it’s a wonder my laptop didn’t short-circuit. ;) The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Summer will stay with us forever. And all for such a great cause! We have lost some very dear friends to ALS and like many diseases, would love to see the cure found in our lifetimes.

So, if you’re like me, you’re wondering what the next BIG thing will be on Facebook. The NEXT Challenge if you will? Well, we over here at C4C2015 have been searching high and low to come up with something everyone can do that would be a fresh symbol of the fight against human trafficking. But nothing beats the X across the back of your hand. That’s pretty loud and clear. And we thought about asking the public to put a cupcake on their head and bike one hundred feet without losing that tiny bit of yummy goodness. BUT not everyone has a bike. And you have to bake a cupcake just to watch it sail off your head to the world of dirt and grime. Welll, that is just a bit much to ask of anyone, in my opinion.

Instead. We’re gonna make it easy for you. No bucket. No ice. And no cupcakes. Just a few minutes of your time and that cash laying around the house that you would have blown at Starbucks anyway. Would you think about these INSANE CHALLENGES the C4C2015 team will face next summer and give a small donation to the team? Even $10 makes a difference. 

TOP TEN THINGS TO FEAR WHILE BIKING ACROSS THE COUNTRY:

1. Flat Tires. It will most likely happen, with all the miles that these bike tires have to cover every day. So the test will be on dismounting timely so the frame doesn’t get damaged and the bikers don’t get hurt. And then finding the puncture and patching it up and getting back on the road quickly.

Or Chains Falling Off. On an uphill. Or even worse, a mountain. Where the edge of the road is a cliff with a crazy drop off. That will be more than frustrating. SO the guys need to gear shift in a timely fashion and help each other out in those moments.

2. Potholes, gravel, and litter on the road. Would love to believe that all the roads the team will bike over are newly paved and in stellar condition, but that would be naive. So they guys need to look down. Once in awhile and make sure they’re not about to run over broken glass or broken roads that ressemble black diamond level moguls on a ski hill. It’ll be interesting to hear the team’s POST-ride report of Top Ten Strangest Finds on the Side of the Road while Biking Across the Country. Something tells me Chicago will have the coolest find. But I guess I’m a bit biased. :)

3. Deer. And Goats. And Bears, Oh My. Seriously hope they see some cool wildlife while treking across the country. And catch some footage on a GoPro camera without crashing. BUT I also hope they don’t have too many Close Encounters of the dangerous kind. Because I’m pretty sure bears can move faster than bikers. Especially on an uphill.

FOLLOW LINK TO c4c2015.com for the rest of the LIST! :)

 

 

Top Ten Things to Expect When in Nashville

Jacks

As a New Yorker, surrounded by a diversity of cultures and lifestyles, I love traveling just to experience the way things are done differently and to meet and chat with people who have done things differently their whole lives. After a few days in hot and humid capital of Tennessee, I came up with my Top Ten things to Expect when visiting Nashville, AKA Music City.

 

When in Nashville, EXPECT

 

  1. To be serenaded by a future country singer in the airport. At the hotel. At every restaurant you walk by or step into. I was actually surprised there wasn’t a girl with her guitar singing in the restroom.
  2. photo 2-2To have a side of BBQ sauce. With everything. I think they even pour it over their eggs in the morning. Jack’s BBQ is a great authentic BBQ experience, I might add.
  3. To say, “Howdy.” At least twice. When you walk into a cowboy boots store and when you walk out with hat and boots on. Then expect to say it to everyone who passes by.
  4. To own something with a guitar on it by the time you leave. A t-shirt, key chain, mug or bottle of BBQ sauce. Even found guitar-pick earrings made of recycled vinyl records. Continue reading

Save The Date (Fall 2014)

Hi!! Just wanted to give Everyone some SAVE the DATES!

Next Thursday, Aug. 28th, in NYCSubcontinental Drift – NYC is hosting an open night! Come out! I’ll be reading and selling books.

SCD

 

 

 

 

 

September 25-28, I’ll be at Kriti Festival in Chicago. Hope to see you there!

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And November 7-9, looking forward to being part of Indo-American Arts CouncilLiterary Festival celebrating South Asian Fiction in NYC. Time and Details to follow.

IAAC

Try Something New – A Guest Post by Author Laura L. Smith

 

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Ever feel that itch, that urge, that tug inside to change something? It could be your scenery, your haircut, maybe you crave a new identity, even a new phone cover would help at this point. Ever been bored, or exhausted or numb, from your current set of circumstances?

 

Maybe you just finished up your school year and you’re not sure what summer has in store for you. Or maybe your summer already seems to be dragging out like a long string of the same hot day over and over again, like in the movie Groundhog’s Day.

 

Well, you don’t need to be Jason Bourne and grab a different passport from your safety deposit box to jazz things up. But it is up to you to get out of your rut. Sitting around wishing things would change won’t do the trick.

 

Now some of you change your address or hair color as often as others of us change our socks. To you, there’s no need to make drastic changes, you already do that, daily. But for the rest of us there’s something refreshing, maybe even daring about trying something new. Summer can be a lazy time to fall into old routines, or a chance to change your perspective and relight your inner spark. It’s up to you. Which one is it going to be?

 

Here are a few ideas to get jump-started: Continue reading