Wednesday, May 16, 2012

February Grace and Godspeed

I'm thrilled with my guest today. February Grace, otherwise known as Bru (which is fabulous—I always think Bruhaha) has been a friend of mine for a few years now and I think her name suits her well. What do I mean? February is a month of challenges—winter is feeling really long and our tempers run short... and I think there is no higher praise than handling February with Grace.

And it's true. Bru has has health challenges—illnesses, threats to her eyesight. And still she keeps plugging forward with profound Grace. When I found out her book was coming out and invited her to be a guest, she asked me if I had a topic in mind, and I said I would LOVE to hear a bit about conquering obstacles. We all, as writers, have to persevere. I think it is the number one trait behind success. So how inspiring is it to see someone who has conquered not just the ordinary obstacles, but some huge ones.

So welcome Bru!!!


I, for one, cannot personally recommend having a stroke, going blind, or having fifteen surgeries between 2009 and 2011 with a bonus thirty-three days of IV antibiotics that knock you on your ever-loving keister.

Nor can I recommend dealing with Bipolar 1, PTSD, or OCD.

I also cannot, in good conscience, recommend spending your summer holidays on Tatooine because the dust storms are awfully bad that time of year.

(Guess which one of those things I have not actually done.)

It’s true; all but the last of those things fought me as I tried to see through my dream of writing the novel of my heart, GODSPEED.

The stroke a decade ago took a lot from me. Going blind really changed everything. Suddenly you can’t navigate a public restroom and you’re doing things like setting your sleeve on fire on the stove because you’re in denial you can still do things you can’t.

The eye surgeries were hard enough, the complications, unimaginable. I’d regain some of my sight but remain legally blind permanently without aphakia glasses and in some situations even with them.

The other operations — barbaric. At one point I went 22 days without solid food. IV med treatments, exhausting. Every day I would cry and think, I can’t do this again. But a friend would say to me, “Do it again, one more day, for me,” so I did.

One night amidst all of this, I was recovering from surgery and my medication wore off. I woke up, heart pounding from the pain, unable to hold up my head and desperate to distract myself until I could gather the strength to stand.

The only sound in the room besides the sound of my heart beating in my ears was the ticking of a clock with three faces; a clock I dearly love. As I listened to it the thought suddenly occurred to me…what if?

In that moment, the idea for GODSPEED was born.

I grabbed a piece of paper and scrawled the words “What is a heart if not the ultimate clockwork?” and a few others, then somehow managed to fall back to sleep.

Despite continuing IV treatments, with the encouragement of friends and my daughter, I started GODSPEED in the fall of 2010, typing propped up on pillows and often with my eyes closed.

Health issues forced me to set it aside for a while but finally in 2011 I was determined to finish it. Sadly, medication complications forced me to stop mid-way and the book was still unfinished.

No matter what, I longed to see the book through. The characters, especially the most vulnerable, would keep me up nights. They represented people so real to me, people so often overlooked in our society that I HAD to finish this; I had to tell their story. I could not let them down.

Finally, after two years of doubt and tears and sleepless nights, I held the proof copy of GODSPEED in my hands and for once in my life, I didn’t cry. I smiled, because I had done them justice. With the added support of a brilliant copy editor, cover artist, and dear friend who formatted the book, the dream was realized.

I kept my promise to my characters and myself, and no amount of physical pain or disability was able to stop it.

Hart said she thought the above was a story worth telling, I hope so, and I hope that whatever struggles you may face in your writing you will keep going. Because you, and your characters, deserve for you to see it through.

My sincerest thanks to Hart, for hosting me today!


[see, I told you--POWERFUL story of perseverance]

About Bru

February Grace is a writer, artist and poet. She sings on key, plays by ear, and is more than mildly obsessed with science fiction.

Her poetry, prose, and/or flash fiction have appeared in The Rusty Nail Literary Magazine (twice) Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and will appear in the Rose & Thorn Journal, Spring Issue 2012.

GODSPEED is her debut novel, and a labor of love she refers to as "Literary romance with steampunk embellishments." It was released in May 2012.

Book Blurb

Abigail’s young life was saved by the kindness of strangers: Schuyler Algernon, the man who found her collapsed on cold city streets, and Quinn Godspeed, the doctor who risked everything by breaking the law to keep her fragile heart beating.

As the truth about what she’s become and her feelings for her savior overtake her, Abigail is forced to ask what constitutes life, living, and what dark secrets are contained within Godspeed’s past and the walls of Schuyler’s house.

Amazon link

[And just an update: HWMNBMOTI is MUCH better. Probably they will send him home today, provided the morning checking out of him goes fine, which it should. Thank you all for being so amazing yesterday!]


Theresa Milstein said...

Bru is so honest. She puts herself out there--flaws, complications, heartache. She's survived a lot. Great to see her here doing more of the same.

Bru, that line about the heart and clockwork is amazing!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

What an inspiring story, Bru! Congratulations on your release and on your perseverance-- we can all learn a lot from you.

Jessica Bell said...

I think I've known Bru now for a little over a year, and I have to say, each and every time she pours her heart out I end up teary. Not only does she have more courage than any person I have ever met, but she is so so talented. Have you read her poetry? Raw, heartbreaking, absolutely beautiful. Bru deserves every single ounce of happiness. Congratulations, Bru!

February Grace said...

Thank you Theresa, Elizabeth and Jessica- that was very difficult to write, so your kind words mean so much more than you know. Thank you so much xoxo

And Hart...what can I say? With all you've had going on the past several days you STILL came through for me and posted this- what an incredible and generous person you are. You are a rockstar and I AM going to have coffee with you one of these days, even if I have to make a special trip to you to do it.

Thank you, so much, for having me here to visit, I am truly grateful.

Glad to her hubby is on the mend, sending all good thoughts his way and yours too.

<3 bru

Creepy Query Girl said...

oh wow. Huge congratulations Bru! That story sounds really intriguing and you are an inspiration! And Hart, I just read your last post- that must have been terrifying! I'm so glad he's doing better.

Jen Chatfield said...

Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration - and the book sounds fantastic!

Hart Johnson said...

Theresa-that honesty is FABULOUS, isn't it? I think that is how she is so moving.

Elizabeth-It really is, isn't it?

Jessica-I end up teary, too.

Bru-I am thrilled to have you here! And yes, we will have to have coffee!

Katie-thank you! Headed the right way, anyway...

Jen-she is, isn't she?

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Wow, what a remarkable and hardworking woman you are! Besides all that you have accomplished through your trials, I was struck by how important the encouragement from others helped you be strong. I want to read your book, February Grace.

Hart, I left a comment in the post below; I am so glad that your husband is doing so much better. I feel terrible that I didn't know until today. Heart you!

Kathy M.

Ted Cross said...

I'm thrilled to see how Bru has persevered. She's always been so great to people in the blogosphere.

MTS said...

Thanks for sharing this. Just bought the book and really looking forward to reading it. February Grace, yours is one amazing and inspiring story of perseverance. Congratulations on getting your book finished and out there.

Misha Gericke said...

Wow it's both humbling and inspiring to see what Bru overcame in order to get her book done.

I wish her all the best!

February Grace said...

I hope it is okay to pop in here once more to thank everyone for their kind words and to say I do hope you all enjoy Godspeed! Thank you for encouraging me to share my story, Hart, in more ways than one. xoxo bru

Hart Johnson said...

Kathy-that encouragement makes such a difference, eh? And thank you so much for the prayers for HWMNBMOTI--definitely need them!

Ted-so true--she IS fabulous!

MTS-YAY for book sales! That's great!

Misha-very true, that it's humbling!

Bru-you are very welcome! I'm so glad you shared it! You're amazing!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Bru, it is so easy to lose your way in the dark ... not just physical darkness but the deeper darkness of depression, of what seems never-ending pain, and of the fear of losing your grip on yourself.

I am so proud of you that you made it through all those darknesses and triumphed with your novel's release and your putting one step after another! Roland

D..J. Kirkby said...

I feel quite overwhelmed by Bru's journey to publication so I can't begin to imagine how she feels! Jubilant, exhilarated, awesome - I hope these are just a few....

Anne Gallagher said...

Bru is such an inspiration to us mere mortals. After everything she's gone through these last few years, well, a lesser woman would have given up.

And you're right, Hart, Bru has AMAZING Grace. And talent.

Lydia Kang said...

Your bravery, strength, and talent continue to awe me.
Great interview!

Hart Johnson said...

Roland, you are so right that the mental journey can be even harder than the physical. My own mental demons are smallish... not to tallish, thought they sort of have bad breath... but I have battled enormous monsters on behalf of loved ones.

DJ-It can be overwhelming, until you realize how if BRU can, YOU can, eh?

Anne-good word choice... mere mortals. We have angels among us to show us what we can do, eh?

Lydia, thank you!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Wonderful, wonderful interview! I've read the manuscript of this book, but I didn't know the whole story behind the inspiration.

I have GODSPEED on my Kindle, and I look forward to the end of the school year and a more relaxing time when I can sit by my goldfish pond and read the finished version.