Marathon Time (Anne Stuart)

It’s time. I’ve got to finish this book or explode trying. (This book being book number two in the House of Russell series, NEVER TRUST A PIRATE). Now when it comes down to the end I’m very fast. I wrote around 2,500 words on Saturday with a four hour drive in between for daydreaming. Yesterday I did 7,010 words. Your task: guess how many words I write today. Whoever comes closest, here and on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/author.annestuart will win an ARC of the first book in the series, NEVER KISS A RAKE, which is coming out in August. Take into account I’ve got to deal with the IRS via phone today, so that’ll eat up some time, and I didn’t sleep well, so I expect a nap is in the future, though I did nap at least two hours yesterday and still did over seven thousand words.
On your mark, get set, go!

Help A Woman Climb A Mountain (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Getting to the top

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.This upcoming weekend, October 21, 2012, Tim and I are hosting the third annual TTQ Charity Skate to raise money for the fight against domestic violence.

We need your help.  The millions of women – women in every single city in the United States, from every background, financial status, race, color and creed – who suffer from the debilitating experience of having a trusted loved one turn on them, need your help.

Last weekend, as part of our training for the upcoming event, Tim and I decided to climb a mountain.  A hike that is considered strenuous by the state of Arizona.  I need to be in good enough shape to skate 10K.  I don’t need to be able to scale mountains.  I told Tim that, maybe someday, I’d be up for it.  Last Sunday I would just take the easy hike that runs along the base of the mountain.  He agreed.

We got there pretty late in the day for hiking.  No problem.  When we were really going to hike the mountain, we’d arrive earlier.  I wanted to get the job done and get home to rest a bit before hitting the book again Monday morning.  So I put one foot in front of the other.  Getting the task over with.  And then I put another foot forward.  I wasn’t really strong enough to go far – just not feeling at the top of my game.  Frankly, I wasn’t even sure what my game was.  I was weighted down with things that are worrying me.  With a child who is struggling, a parent facing surgery.  I was tired – not so much physically as mentally.

I stepped.  I climbed some rocks.  I rounded a corner.  And saw this…

It doesn’t look nearly as daunting here as it does in reality.  I’m not a great photographer.  I angled the camera up.  Sitting under a ledge on the side of the mountain, I stared up.  There was no way I was going any further.

Another pair of hikers came up behind us.  Stopped where I’d stopped.  Looked up.  And turned around.  Tim asked me what I wanted to do.I wanted to go home.  That’s what I wanted to do.  I was tired of trying.  Of fighting.  Of hanging on and pushing forward.  I wanted to lay down in a field on a white sheet with a cool breeze blowing over me, smell flowers and read a romance.  I looked up.  And knew there was no way I could make that climb.  I was scared to death just looking at it.  Best case scenario, I’d fall and hurt myself.  Worst case, I’d die.  Another set of hikers appeared.  Turned around and left.  A young couple was halfway up that climb and the girl froze.  She couldn’t go up or down.  She clung to the mountain and didn’t move.

And I got mad.  At me.  At the negative energy.  At the hurt that is the shadow side of loving deeply.  At raw breaks and at a world that has evil in the midst of such incredible beauty.  That girl symbolized something for me – the frozen tundra life becomes when fear rules us.  I stood up.  I couldn’t let the fear win.  I had to fight.  If I want to live.

I took a step.  And then another.  Because as women this is what we do.  Our hearts get bruised.  For some of us, our bodies get bruised, too.  And we stand up.  And we take the next step.  We do what we have to do to provide.  To take care of the children who need us.  The friends and the elderly and the sisters who need us. To get a little perspective on this climb, you can see the tip of a head down below where I am.  And this isn’t at the top.

We reached the spot where the girl clung.  Her companion, up above, called instructions down to her.  Tim and I waited for her to cross over and climb in front of us.  She told us to go ahead.  We didn’t.  I couldn’t.  I don’t know what I said to her.  It’s not like I’d ever done this before.  But I stood there and talked and she let go of the mountain and climbed up in front of us.

This was the most difficult climbing I’ve ever done – in a physical activity sense.  It didn’t come close to the figurative mountains I’ve scaled.  And my mountains are walks in the park for other women I know.  Women who need us all to climb a mountain so that they can survive, physically, while they attempt to put the pieces of their hearts back together, to find life in the ashes of violence.

Please, if you can help us help others scale this mountain, click here and join us Sunday, either in person, to skate, walk, or cheer us on – or on line with a donation of any amount.  All proceeds go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Chrysalis Shelter.  We pay no administrator fees.  Use of the skate facility is provided by the City of Chandler, Arizona.

I made it to the top of the climb last Sunday.  I live.  I am.