YA Book Signing at New Hope Public Library: Meet Author Melanie Dickerson

Author Melanie Dickerson

Author Melanie Dickerson

I was lucky enough to meet Melanie Dickerson at the Rocket City NerdCon last year. As soon as I met her I knew that she was one of the most endearing people I’ve had the pleasure to know. I fell in love with her personality and especially her contagious smile. She’s one of those beautiful souls that you can’t help be drawn to because there seems to be a light emanating from all around her.

Melanie Dickerson is the author of Medieval fairy tale retellings, including The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, both Christy Award finalists, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on the web at http://www.MelanieDickerson.com.

Author Questions

When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

I wanted to be an author when I was in 7th grade, or around that time. I wrote all during high school and then put it aside when I started college and didn’t pick it back up again for about 15 years.

In what genre do you write?

I write YA, historical romance, inspirational/Christian, Medieval, and Christian adult Regency romances.

Is there a genre you haven’t written in, but want to?

I think someday I’d like to write contemporaries. Although I’m happy writing historicals for now.

What is your writing process? Such as, outlining, freehand, computer vs paper and pen?

I don’t outline. I come up with a story idea, write as short a summary as my publisher will let me get away with, and then I brainstorm the main points of the story, and start writing on my laptop. When I get stuck, I will bounce ideas off someone, whoever will stand still long enough, usually.

Who are you writing inspirations, famous or not?

As a kid, I was inspired by Harper Lee, since I grew up about 45 or 50 miles from Monroeville, Harper Lee’s hometown, and I was a Lee. I thought, if she could be so successful, perhaps it was possible for me too.

How much research, if any, did you have to put into your novel(s)?

I do a lot of research on Medieval Europe, the everyday lives of people then, the language, what words were used or not used, and current events of the time.

Do you listen to music while you write or edit? If so, who do you listen to?

I can’t listen to music when I edit because it’s too distracting, but I sometimes listen to Andrea Bocelli or Medieval and Renaissance music when I’m writing the first draft.

When you’re not being an amazing author and writing away, what do you for fun?

I like watching movies with my two daughters, cooking, and . . . well, I don’t do much of anything besides write. LOL!

What has been the most exciting experience for you since starting your writing career?

I guess just signing my first contract, and some of the awards I’ve finaled in and won. I got to accept the Carol Award for Young Adult fiction in 2012. That was pretty amazing.

Who created your amazing cover art?

Mike Heath of Magnus Creative did all five of my Zondervan books, and I’m not sure who to credit for my Thomas Nelson covers, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and The Golden Braid.

Give us a brief description of your WIP (work in progress) or your newest novel.

My next book, The Golden Braid, comes out in November and is a Rapunzel story in my YA fairy tales collection. I think my readers will like the surprise I have for those who have read all my Hagenheim stories. 🙂

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Reader Questions

What author would you geek out over if you met them in real life?

Harper Lee, Kate DiCamillo, and Judith Merkle-Riley

It’s completely impossible for a reader to pick their favorite book. However, if you were banished to a deserted island with no hope of returning and were allowed to bring 5 books with you, which ones would you choose?

The Bible, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Confident Woman, and In Pursuit of the Green Lion.

What book would you like to see in film or do you believe that books should be left alone?

Mine! LOL!

As a reader, what about a book turns you away?

If it’s boring, full of errors, or not believable.

If you find you can’t get into a book, do you put it down or be a trooper and finish it?

I put it down. Life is too short to read a bad book.

Do you stick to one genre or do you like to read around?

I read a lot of different genres.

Are you a book-in-your-hands reader, e-booker, or both?

I like an actual paperback.

Random Questions

Favorite movie?

National Velvet, Penelope, Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth version), Jane Eyre (the Toby Stephens version), Joe Versus the Volcano, and several other Jane Austen movies.

Favorite TV show?

Psych

If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Moussaka

What’s your favorite candy/dessert?

Lindt dark chocolate truffles

What band or musician can you listen to over and over again? You can list more than one.

Switchfoot!

What’s your hidden talent?

I am a genius at spelling.

What is your dream vacation?

Visiting old castles all over Europe, especially Germany.

Contact Information:

Author Name: Melanie Dickerson

Blog: www.MelanieDickerson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieDickersonBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/melanieauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Melanie_Dickerson

Book Links: http://www.amazon.com/Melanie-Dickerson/e/B003BAAJG6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

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Migraines and Life: It SUCKS, but You Got This!

To say it has been a while since I have blogged is a major understand statement! That may sound cliche, but it is as true a statement as there can be. I have had a lot on my plate. I’m sure many of you can relate. Life gets busy and out of control; it takes so much out of us. I’ve been busy, sure, but there are other reasons that have kept me from my blog. I’ve debated with myself about posting this, but I’ve always said that I’d be transparent with my readers and anyone else who cared to read my blog so, there are a few things I’d like to share. Hopefully, in the end, it will help someone else and possibly myself.

For over a year I have been dealing with migraines. It isn’t something that I thought would ever happen to me. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, but I’m definitely not old. I’m going to be 31 on July 23rd and to me, that is still young! When I started to not feel quite myself I thought maybe I was finally pregnant! It turns out that wasn’t true. It took several months for me to finally realize that over-the-counter medicine wasn’t cutting it and I took my butt to the doctor.

Wounds

My migraine journey has been long, too long in my opinion. I was having pain in my neck and arm. My doctor thought I might have a pinched nerve in my neck. After an MRI, it was duly noted that there was nothing wrong with my neck. Still my doctor thought that maybe physical therapy would help. He was right, it did help my neck and arm, but did absolutely noting for my head. In fact, it made my head hurt worse.

That was when my therapist suggested I get an MRI on my brain and see a neurologist. Needless to say, that was a bit scary. No one wants to get an MRI on their head. Brain tumors run in my family so of course I was having terrible, pointless thoughts. My brother was actually diagnosed with a brain tumor nearly 7 years ago. Thankfully he is still in remission and we are blessed with many more days with him. I’m happy to say that MRI came back clear. According to my neurologist I have a very healthy brain. But, what did that mean?

Here I was, nearly 8 or so months into dealing with migraines, trying to write and trying to work, but will still no answers. That is when my neurologist diagnosed me with migraines. I had already had speculations that was what was going on with me. Believe me, you know when you have a migraine. It sucks! Now that I had a “reason” as to why I was feeling like my body was turning against me, it didn’t mean it was over. It was only the beginning.

I am thankful that God has blessed our world with so many bright people. I’m a firm believer that if a medication can help you then you should take it. Here is my dilemma, the medicine and I have not been friends. They would either make me sick or not work. At first they would knock me flat on my rear. I would come home at 6:00 PM and sleep until the next day. I would be walking around in a haze, but still have this intense pressure in my head. My doctor tried everything.

Now, I’m at the point where I’m going to try Botox injections. When I heard about Botox treating migraines, I was skeptical. I’m still skeptical. However, I’m at the point that I will try anything as long as it’s not immoral or illegal. I’ll be honest, there are days when even that is up in the air. I’ve told my husband on many occasions that I’d take a horse tranquilizer if I knew it would help. There have been so many times where I have stayed curled up in my bed, holding my head, praying that God would just take the pain away.

Psalms 61

I can say that if it weren’t for God, I would have lost my mind ages ago. He has blessed me with health professionals who are trying different methods of treatments. I have had amazing co-workers, both writing buddies and others, who are at the ready with words of encouragement. My family and friends have been a huge blessing so I know that He knew that I would be in this situation one day. He put those people in my life for a reason and I can’t thank him enough. You really start to realize who your true friends are when your health gets turned upside down.

That’s the bones of the experience I’ve had so far. You have probably heard a similar story from people you know that have migraines. What you probably haven’t heard is the other part, the part that people like me try to keep ourselves. What could that be? Well, the darkness that creeps in on you when your body is in constant pain on a daily basis. Migraines aren’t an illness that many people can sympathize with, if you don’t have it, because it’s not something you can see. It’s a silent sickness that a lot of people still can’t view as a true disease.

I don’t blame these people at all. There are still a lot of things the health community doesn’t understand about migraines. Treatments are a shot in the dark. It’s almost like you’re a guinea pig with the medicine and other treatment options. You literally go through phases of “let’s see if this works.” More times than not it doesn’t work and you’re back to square one.

There are so many people who can’t wrap their heads around this. I’ve heard it from so many of them, “Why haven’t they fixed you yet?” or “Well when I have a headache I do this, this, and this.” or “Have you tried blah, blah, blah, works for me every time.” Sweet Lord, baby Jesus, I wish it were that simple! I say that in a not taking the Lord’s name in vain sort of way. I ask Him a lot to let it be that easy. The truth is, as meaningful as people are with their suggestions, migraine (NOT headaches) sufferers will try anything, but you can’t just “fix” us. It’s a constant battle to find something that works.

Then you have your triggers. These triggers are different for everyone, but there are some that seem to affect the majority. It could be weather (Yes! The darn weather!), food (Chocolate…what a world!), scents, lights, heat, sounds…you name it, just about anything can trigger a migraine. It can seem like there isn’t a hope in the world. Your life is never the same. You can’t do things that you used to. Work, on a daily basis, is nearly impossible, you can’t hang out with friends, or go to family gatherings without looking like you’re about to pass out. You will spend many, many beautiful days locked inside a dark room with an ice pack on the back of your neck. It is a life changer for the worse.

Let me tell you, as with many chronic illnesses, if you aren’t careful, it can consume you. I have always been the type of person that would hold in problems with pain and emotions. Sure, I love easily and if I love you, you’ll know it. But, when it came to me, something that I thought made me look weak, I kept it to myself. This has really hit me where it hurts, my pride. I’m a control freak and a fixer. I want to fix all of the problems with myself and have always been foolish enough to think that I can do it on my own. Ha!

I got so down, further than I had ever been in my life. Saying that my head hurt got old to even me so I just stopped saying it. I held it all in and would only talk to those who were closest to me. Even then I’d say, “I’m fine.” when they asked me how I was feeling. I was lying to them and myself. I wasn’t fine. I was hurting and not just physically, but in my soul. This illness had taken not only my strength, but my spark, my joy. Holding in how I felt and denying myself the release of saying, “I hurt.”had stripped me of an outlet that I so desperately needed.

It took a simple spat with my husband about where we should move books to unhinge me. I realized that I was so angry and hurt that the slightest things would set me off. It hurt me that I had hurt him and then I broke down. It was the most disgusting, snotty cry of my life. It was a “Boo-Hoo” cry, as my mother calls it. Even though it was my fault, my husband held me the entire time, just letting me get it all out. That cry saved my sanity. It made me realize that I couldn’t hold this in and that it was OK to admit that I live with a pain that had uprooted my entire life.

To be honest, it does kick my butt most days. It hurts; I will never deny that. There are still going to be days when I feel down in the dumps. I’m not going to want to get out of bed or wash my hair or make dinner or clean the house. I will be irritable and grumpy; heck, I’m sure I’ll be down right miserable to be around. There is one thing I won’t be, afraid. I know I have a long battle ahead of me. Boy, will it suck, but I will not be ashamed to admit that I need help or that I am in pain.

Psalms 147

I will cling to God, to my family, to friends, to my supporters. I will hold on to the fact that this pain is only temporary and there are wonderful and jubilant days ahead for me. If you are where I am, I am praying for you and I send you all of my love, all of my positive thoughts. You will get through this. I am here for you. I am your sister in God; I am your sister in arms. We will fight this war together. No man or woman or child gets left behind.

If you have found your way out of this battle, remember those who still need your support. God bless you. Never take your pain free days for granted. If your loved is going through this, be kind, be understanding when they cancel plans at the last minute. Believe me, if they could be there they would. This doesn’t just go for those who have migraines, but anyone who is suffering, be it physically, mentally, or spiritually. Reach out with love in your heart and a warm hug.

Rowling

Sometimes

Sometimes there’s rain,
At times it’ll pour.
Sometimes there’s pain,
I can hear the sounds of war.

Sometimes there’s thunder,
It fills me up inside.
Sometimes there’s a struggle,
Between humbleness and pride.

I can’t tell who’s winning,
Maybe I’ll never know.
I can feel my heart thinning,
And the emptiness grow.

Sometimes there’s fire,
It’s eating me alive.
Sometimes there’s desire,
But the kind that kills with a lie.

Sometimes there’s hunger,
It gnaws at my flesh.
Sometimes there’s surrender,
The kind that steals your last breath.

And I can’t tell if you’re with me,
There’s a loneliness in my soul.
I yearn to be free,
But the darkness tells me no.

I feel like I’m losing,
Like my soul is ice.
I feel like I’m choosing,
To run away with the night.

Yet despite my weakness,
Of giving in to this world;
I feel your hands upon me,
And I’m not so scared anymore.

Sometimes there’s light,
I taste it on my tongue.
Sometimes there’s home,
When there’s no place left to run.

Sometimes there’s quiet,
When the storm rages in my mind.
Sometimes there’s a riot,
But the kind that brings new life.