Dear Hannah: Trouble in Paradise by Hannah Alexander

First, I have an announcement to make to those of you who have been missing James Rubart’s posts. You might recall he showed us a picture of his house after a huge tree fell on it several months ago. I happened to run into him at a conference recently, and he said he had a week or two more to get everything repaired. What a nightmare! So say a prayer for Jim as you think of him. It’s no fun to have your house destroyed.

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Now it’s time to suspend your disbelief with our advice to the lovelorn.

Dear Hannah,

I’m pretty devastated right now. After all Zack, my fiance, and I have been through this past year, we finally came to terms with our break-up, and we made up. It’s been wonderful until now.

Never take a job working for someone you love, because that can make all kinds of trouble for the relationship. Today he said he would have to fire me! And you know why? Because of a crabby woman on the hospital board who hates my mother and wants to take it out on me. Oh, sure, Zack says I need to speed up because I am, after all, a physician in an emergency department, and when we get busy I have to move faster and faster, but if he would look at the patient charts, he’ll see I’ve caught a lot of illnesses that would have been missed had I not been so thorough. I didn’t train to be an emergency physician, I simply took the job out of desperation. I never wanted to work for him in the first place, but he’s the ER director, and I needed the job.

I became so angry I told him I quit. Let him find someone else. Or let the bitter, controlling president of the hospital board beat the bushes for a doc who’ll want to work here. They can certainly use fourth year med students in the school attached to the hospital. I have to fulfill my duties for the next few weeks, but it’s going to be difficult dealing with Zack, knowing he was more willing to side with a bitter woman whose only reason for getting rid of me was to hurt my mother’s name in our small hometown. I’m trying to decide if I want to be married to a man who would turn against me like this. How would I be able to trust him after marriage?

Please give me some advice, Hannah.

Joy

 

Dear Joy,

Ouch! I can only imagine the pain you’re feeling right now, especially after dealing with the fallout of one breakup  with Zack already. Have I mentioned how vital it is to seek premarital counseling? This is especially important when you’ve had misunderstandings in the past. If I were you, I’d go back over the conversation and write down everything that was said during your conversation with Zack. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to misunderstand, or respond with anger until the pattern escalates into one huge mess.

Talk to him alone, when neither of you will be interrupted. Turn off your cell phones and talk. Keep your voice quiet. Take slow, deep breaths to remain calm as you discuss the situation, and tell him how you feel. Don’t hurl accusations at him, just speak gently to him, no matter how difficult that might be. If the two of you can talk this out, and then if you can bring in someone you trust to counsel with both of you, it’s possible this problem can be smoothed over. But if he doesn’t have a good explanation for the way he treated you, it might be time to put off the wedding plans until you can both be at peace about this situation. And I don’t think you should ever work for him again.

Best wishes,

Hannah

 

Dear Hannah by Hannah Alexander

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Are you ready for some more fictive advice for the lovelorn? Push aside your disbelief and read along. These may not be real, living breathing people, but you can pretty much count on someone in the world enduring what they’re enduring, and since I’m writing their stories, I can help them better than anyone. You can find these characters in a story set during Christmas in a book called Dandelion Moon.

Dear Hannah,

My fiance just fired me! Well, okay, he didn’t exactly fire me, I happened to overhear him explaining to a nasty woman on the hospital board why he hasn’t fired me yet. So he was planning to. I beat him to the punch out of self-preservation. We’ve had our differences. I mean, major differences, ones that broke up our engagement last year. I don’t want that to happen again. If it did, I think I’d give up on romance entirely. What’s the use? All that happens when it comes to romance for me is that I get hurt, or someone else does. Why bother?

Dr. Joy Gilbert

Dear Joy,

So you were eavesdropping and overheard something you shouldn’t have, then perhaps jumped to a conclusion? How can you know for sure? You didn’t give him a chance to explain? If you’re engaged to this man, do you think you might be able to guess what he’d have done if you hadn’t confronted him about it? Do you often feel the need to be in such control of your life that you force the issue to keep someone else from hurting you before you can defend yourself? I get the impression you don’t completely trust this fiance of yours after one breakup. Maybe the two of you need to spend a little more time together and get to know one another more. Time spent doing that might sound frustrating, but until a couple knows each other’s foibles and each can trust the other and still love them during the rough patches, time seems to be the best antidote for the questions running through your mind right now.

Why don’t you see if someone else might be behind this awful exchange? Is there someone who wants to hurt  you? Don’t automatically blame the fiance. Even in small towns like Juliet, there are mean people. Don’t let them win. Trust in love, and wait until it’s right. You’ll know.

I wish you the best,

Hannah Alexander

THAT’S MEDICAL DIALOGUE? by Hannah Alexander

Hannah and Alexander

Hannah and Alexander

 

I’m taking a detour from my Dear Hannah posts to share some light dialogue that often takes place in our house when I’m working on a medical scene. As you know, Mel and I work together on our Hannah Alexander novels, hence the pen name. I’m the writer, he’s the medical expert, but as you can see, sometimes he’s a bit too much of an expert, and I have to get him to dumb it down for me a little.

“Honey, I need you to give me a little information about pain,” I said one day. I was hoping for some helpful information about how to treat chronic pain. I should have made myself clear.

“Pain is usually a reflex arc,” he said. “Every part of a pain response is in two parts.”

“Two parts? I feel just that one part. The pain itself, and go slowly because I’m typing this down.”

“The two parts are afferent and efferent. Afferent is affect, and efferent is effect–“

“Wait, slow down. What was it you just said?”

“The classic is you put your hand on a hot stove and you don’t know it’s hot. Pain is the afferent, or the affect. As a result of the brain feeling pain, it triggers you to pull your hand back, therefore it’s efferent–or the effect. It’s what the muscles do in response to the pain. So a reflex arc doesn’t require a higher brain function.”

“I want something that will affect the effect, then. Something to tame the pain. Simply, please.”

“If you take away the cause, you take away the pain.”

“Yes, well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? People in pain don’t always know what’s causing it, or why it continues year after year. I have friends who have three different doctors telling them three different reasons for their pain.”

“Then while they’re trying ot figure it out, they need pain blockers, which could be simple aspirin or other over-the-counter pain reliever.”

“What if those don’t work?”

“If you’re talking about narcotics, those aren’t drugs most doctors hand out like candy. Ultram is a newer pain med that works pretty well and doesn’t have as much of an abuse potential, so the docs are more likely to write a script for it. However, if someone already take narcotics for pain–“

“Isn’t there something else. Maybe topical?”

“There’s always the pain patch prescription, but that’s narcotic, too, and we’ve actually had patients take those patches and try to lick all of the medication from them and come in with an overdose. More than one died.”

“That’s tragic, but you’re talking about people you see in the ER who abuse the drugs you give them. I’m talking about all the suffering people who can’t get a doctor to listen to them because the minute they mention chronic pain, the doctor and staff automatically cry ‘drug abuser!’ and they get no help. What can they do?”

“If they can’t adequately block the pain, then they distract, such as with a TENS unit. It comes from the term trans cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.”

“Hold it, how do you spell cuta–“

“It substitutes one pain for another, but the electrical stimulation distracts from the old pain, and if the original pain is bad enough, the electrical shock can be a huge relief, but it doesn’t typically last long after it’s taken off. Still, if utilized every day–“

“What’s longer lasting?”

“Exercise can sometimes help. Everyone should exercise every day, anyway, but particularly those in pain. Stretches and physical therapy, massage, all those have their place when treating pain.”

“It’s hard to exercise when it hurts to walk.”

“Well, then, any kind of stretching, movement of any kind, can help. A patient can’t just give up and lie in bed or it’ll get worse. For chronic pain, if it’s localized, depending on how much burning a patient can stand, there are non-narcotic patches and creams, even a roll-on liquid that has a pepper agent in it that burns the skin and sinks in deeply. The burn tends to go away if you can stand it long enough.”

“All right! Now we’re on a roll. Are you talking about capsaicin?”

“It comes in all heats, and the hotter the better as long as it doesn’t blister. It isn’t just a distraction. Some studies say it might actually release endorphins that will help with a healing process. It might not last forever, but–“

“How does a true pain patient convince a doctor that she’s in authentic pain and needs real help with it when there are so many who fake pain to get–“

“A classic example for fixing pain is to liken it to a broken bone that’s out of place. When you reset it, lining the bone up is probably as good at pain control as blasting the patient with pain medi–“

“No, honey.” I knew my time was short. He was experiencing a high of his own. His high is medicine. “Please go back to the chronic pain treat–“

“It’s the same with dislocations. It hurts when something is dislocated, and it hurts getting it back into place, but the body wants you to know about the problem with a lot of pain. You fix it, you’re better. Like a thorn in the foot. You don’t take pain meds for the thorn in the foot, you remove the thorn.”

“Okay, got it. Thanks.” Sigh. I’d gotten as much from him as I was going to. He was on a roll, and sometimes I lose him to the subject matter when he’s in his zone.

“Oh. Okay, sweetheart. Is that all you needed?” He looked disappointed. He could have continued for hours. He loves to teach medicine.

“Yeah, once I get it sorted out.”

So, if you have chronic pain, did you get all that? I’ve found that since I have a family doc I’ve gone to for years, he knows I’m not a drug seeker, but I’m one of the lucky few. He’ll work with me. If you’ve found any other great methods to help with chronic pain, please have a heart for the rest of us and share?

 

Dear Hannah by Hannah Alexander

Join us this week and suspend disbelief as we work on a letter from a character in a book I’m writing now. If anyone has a good answer or better insight–or any insight for me at all–join in!

Dear Hannah,

As a guy, I don’t do this kind if thing–ask for advice. As a physician, I go to colleagues for referrals all the time, and I love to get a second opinion on a particularly difficult case, but when it comes to my private life, I keep that private. But now I’m not sure what to do. Maybe you can help me.

Last year, I allowed a wealthy, powerful man to persuade me that my fiance, Joy, was not being true to me. In fact, he had me convinced she was having an affair with him, and that she needed to spread her wings and fly in the big city with a well-paying job–working for him, of course. And you know what? I gave in. He set me up with sly suggestions, and he pointed at her car, which never left the parking lot for two days, which he said was because she was staying with him. I was working myself to death at the time, and I can only claim sleep deprivation. I broke my engagement to the most wonderful woman in the world. I’ve never been more miserable.

But when I finally came to my senses and went to talk to her, she’d already taken the job and left town.

Fast forward a year. My beloved Joy is back in my life. The jerk fired her because she didn’t love him, wouldn’t have an affair with him, and was taking on too many pro bono cases–not getting paid. I discovered her car was in that parking lot because it had broken down and she had no time to get it fixed. She didn’t want to tell me because she knew I was working too many hours already. We worked things out and are back together again.

My problem is this: The scoundrel is back in town. He has apologized, and he seems to have changed, but I don’t know what to think. He wants to talk to me about yet another woman he thinks he loves–and she’s Joy’s best friend!

What do I tell this man of means, who uses his money to buy businesses and people and have others do his bidding? How do I remain calm in his presence? He wants to come to me, now, with his questions about love and women? I’m a Christian. He is not. All I know to tell him is seek Christ. Is that all I need to say?

Zachary Travis

Dear Zachary,

Wow, you’ve been run over by a steamroller! I’m impressed that you’re seeking advice for this, because most men I know would simply punch this man out and tell him to get lost. But you have a conscience, and perhaps you see a hurting man here. I don’t know, it’s just a guess. I hope it isn’t because you fear his money and power.

First of all, make sure you let Joy know you trust her. After all that happened, she must be feeling a little raw, maybe a little uneasy. She might think you’ll fall for this man’s lies again. Just reassure her.

Second, talk to this man. Be bold. Straight talk is sometimes necessary to get through to a person. Tell him that if he’s changed, you need to see the fruit of that change. And if you are a Christian, you know what he needs.

As for the woman he thinks he loves? She must know what he’s like, but if she doesn’t, she should be told. Let Joy handle that. You handle the troubled man. Even stand beside him and show him the love of Christ in a way he might never have seen before. People who hurt others are often hurting, themselves, and though you must protect yourself from them, you will also want to put an end to the darkness forever. God loves him. Show him that, and be bold. Be brave. Be the man you were meant to be.

Hannah

 

Advice to the Lovelorn by Hannah Alexander

Advice to the Lovelorn Man

Here we go again! If you enjoy fiction, or reading advice columns, here’s a combination of both as I attempt to guide fictitious characters in their love lives. I believe there’s always a lot of truth in fiction, so I hope we can find some truth here today.

Dear Hannah,

I’m upset. Livid, in fact. I just discovered my best friend, Myra, has been dating a man who nearly ruined my life last year. And she should know better, she’s a psychiatrist! With lies and manipulation, Weston managed to convince Zack, my fiance, that I was having an affair behind his back, and instead of coming to me about it, Zack broke off the engagement. I was devastated, of course. Then when I was at my lowest, Weston convinced me to go to work for him. Little did I know that he had other things in mind. After I worked at his clinic for less than a year–constantly on guard to keep his hands off me–he fired me. The man’s a lecher. And Myra knew all this. So why does she seem to be falling in love with him? What should I do?

And another thing, Zack is back in the picture again. We’ve reconciled, but I’ve found I’m not quite as trusting as I once was. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful man with a caring heart, but if he was willing to listen to lies about me one time, what’s to stop him from doing the same thing again?

Joy

Dear Joy,

First of all, do you trust your best friend? I agree that what Weston did was heinous, but people do bad things for all kinds of reasons, and unless you can see through his eyes–or, in fact, Myra’s–you’re not in a position to make a sound judgment. If Myra already knows Weston’s tendencies and she’s been seeing him anyway, then perhaps as her friend you should stand beside her. Listen to her if she confides in you. Don’t let her decision to date Weston destroy your friendship.

As for your relationship with Zack, just the fact that you still don’t trust him shows me that the two of you need pre-marital counseling. If you can’t trust him with your whole heart, there’s a break between you already. How much more unstable will the foundation of your relationship become after marriage? Saying those vows won’t change what’s in your heart. Make sure you have a solid foundation for marriage before you stand before the minister and say “I do.”

Hannah

 

Advice to the Lovelorn Man by Hannah Alexander

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I’ve always wondered what it would be like to include an advice column in one of my novels. It isn’t something I’d ever consider doing in real life, because I don’t want the responsibility of messing up a living person’s life with the wrong advice–and I’m capable of doing just that. I’m a novelist, after all, not a psychiatrist. However, I have a fictional character in need, and I’m going to attempt to help him here. If you have words of advice for him, I’d welcome them, because he’s in dire straits emotionally right now in the novel I’m writing. Prepare to suspend disbelief…

 

Dear Hannah,

You’re my last hope. I’ve done practically everything wrong my whole life, and in doing so have doubled my family’s wealth while hurting those most dear to me. I would give away my billions for a do-over. I realize you’re not a priest-confessor, but you have the power to change my life. I’m sorry for trampling the hearts of my ex-wife and my daughter in order to rake in the money. I nearly ruined the life of the best doctor who ever worked for me by breaking her engagement with lies to get her for myself. After a recent brush with death I’ve taken a new look at myself, and I hate what I see. My ex-wife has found love again, my daughter is growing up with me in the periphery of her life. There is a woman I truly love, but she’s so much more honorable than I. How do I make up for all the harm I’ve done? How do I become worthy of this woman I love?

Weston

Dear Weston,

In the Bible, Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all his wealth to follow Him. You said you’d be willing to give away your billions for a do-over, but would you really? Can you possibly stop depending on wealth to define yourself? You’ve lived so long for the next high of cutting a deal, manipulating others to serve you. Can you live without that? Money is all you’ve known or understood. If you were to marry this worthy woman you love, would you truly love her, or would you go back to your old habits? I’m sorry, but you’ll need to prove yourself by doing what you said. Let me know what you decide.

Hannah

 

True Character

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One of the things I do when writing a new novel is look for people who would make good, interesting, heroic characters in my books. That’s one of the most fun things to do, and I take them from real life. Here’s an example:

We have an office manager in our clinic, Bonnie, who hates germs. When she drew up the plans for the construction of the clinic and oversaw the work, she didn’t realize she’d soon be working there. She hates goo, she has a very weak stomach. When the rest of the staff starts talking shop, Bonnie gags, loses her appetite, covers her ears and gets away. She’s also shy. She sits in the back row at church. She’ll sneak over to an elderly neighbor’s house and shovel snow when they’re not looking, and get away before anyone knows. How she ended up in her position is a long story, but it wasn’t where she started. She wouldn’t have chosen to work in a doctor’s office, but due to a job switch, and the fact that I knew what a good employee she was, I kind of dragged her into it.

One evening last week I got a call from Bonnie. Her voice was shaking, but she had to tell someone. That evening, I believe Bonnie showed the world–and to her, it felt like the whole world–what she was made of. She was driving the company car behind an elderly man who was riding his small motorcycle slowly with his groceries behind him. Cars raced past him, honking their horns, yelling at him and harassing him to the point he wrecked his bike, tumbling over right there in the middle of the road, scraping blacktop as his groceries went flying.

No one stopped except our shy, germophobe office manager. Bonnie got out and ran into the middle of the road to find out if he was okay, and helped him to the side of the road, despite his protests about his eighteen broken eggs. He had an oxygen mask, and his arm was bleeding. Instead of throwing up, which she expected would happen, she ran to the back of the car and pulled out the medical kit, wrapped his bleeding arm, comforted him by sitting beside him and rubbing his back so he’d stop shaking. (She also stopped him from lighting a cigarette when she saw gasoline leaking from his motorcycle). Then she talked to him while he calmed down. She discovered he was a war veteran. Shy Bonnie tried to flag someone else down to help them because she couldn’t get the motorcycle out of the middle of the road, but no one would stop and help. All her patient was worried about was his eighteen broken eggs, but she knew there could be a worse accident if she didn’t do something.

She finally called 911. In minutes, an ambulance, firetrucks, highway patrol (which had sped past them earlier without stopping) came screaming toward her and this injured old man. I’m sure it was quite a spectacle, and poor Bonnie was just sitting there in the middle of it all, the center of attention with no place to retreat. Then, of course, proving her devotion to us, she pulled out a card for our clinic, and wrote her phone number on it in case the patient needed anything.

When it was all over and the road was cleared and the professionals took over, Bonnie drove to the nearest parking lot and had a mini-panic attack. She was on her way home when she passed a police car sitting beside the road. The policeman flashed his lights at her. She thought it was because he thought she was speeding, but he didn’t pull out and stop her. I think he was giving her a salute for caring enough to help when no one else would stop for an old man on a motorcycle.

Funny, Bonnie has this weird idea that she’s unworthy of attention. She won’t listen when I disagree. But next time she tells me what a mess-up she is, I’ll remind her of this day, and someday soon, she’s going to see her likeness in one of my heroines. It takes more strength to do something that terrifies you and hold it together, than it does if that’s your everyday job, and you’re just plain good at it.

I’m proud of Bonnie. She’s earned herself a place in a novel one day.

 

Too Perfect by Hannah Alexander

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I’m here at ICRS enjoying old friends and meeting new ones. If you haven’t heard of ICRS, it’s an international Christian retailer’s convention. Today I slung on all the bling I could wear to garner attention, then took my place at a signing booth. I guess the bling worked. I had an honest to goodness line! That never happens when I’m at a book signing back home, but then, people come here from all over the world to get free books. Back at the bookstores at home people are expected to buy my books. Here, the stuff is given away. It’s a reader’s heaven.

The signing was fun, seeing all those people who wanted to read my novel, but a problem arose that I could do nothing about. They say horses sweat, men perspire and women glow. I’m apparently a racehorse. It was horribly humiliating to drip so badly in response to the humidity that followed me from home. The bling I was wearing attracted everyone walking into the convention center, but when they got close, there was no missing the droplets coursing down my face and dripping from my hair. My eyeglasses were even steaming. Ick. I guess looks didn’t matter to them. No one declined when my publicist told us to draw close for a photo shoot.

After the signing I remarked to my publicist how embarrassing it was to break into a drenching sweat in front of all those people. She said she once fell down three stair-steps of chairs in front of a huge audience. She posted online about it the next day. You know what? People like us to have flaws. Especially if we’re being honored publicly in some way, tripping over our own feet or smiling with spinach on our teeth or dripping sweat lets everyone know that, even though we might be selected for something special, we’re still human. It’s true. I feel more comfortable with people who are as imperfect as I am.

I have a good friend who has a PhD in theology. She takes classes online and learns new things every day. Last night she helped me develop a gorgeous cover for my next novel. But she’s not perfect. She doesn’t figure numbers in her head. I love that about her, because being around someone too perfect can make me feel a little too flawed. I know how flawed I am, but it isn’t fun to have it rubbed in. I like my friends with flaws. So maybe sometimes it’s our flaws who draw people to us. You think?

This armadillo in the picture might have a hard shell on top, but he has a furry, tender underbelly. We all have a weak spot somewhere. Sometimes it helps to show those weak places to others. Not always, but sometimes.

 

True Love Takes Time by Hannah Alexander

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See this beautiful stream? It’s peaceful to me, even romantic. The small trickle of water has made a course down the easiest path, gently moving stones and earth, reeds and brush.

Flood it with too much water all at once, however, and instead of a peaceful work of natural art, you would see destruction, such as the tree that’s fallen over the stream–it probably happened when that same stream overflowed its banks following a storm. Had it been more destructive, a large tree might have blocked the stream altogether, destroying its beauty.

I’ve seen too many relationships and hearts broken–not just in romantic love, but in friendship–because those in the relationship made judgments based on immediate gratification, when the rush of emotion overflowed natural boundaries and the individuals placed too much trust too quickly in an unknown entity.

How do I know this? From far too much experience.

Have you met anyone online lately? Has someone contacted you on Facebook or Twitter because of something you said that resonated with them? Did  you quickly develop a mutual admiration for one another? In just a few weeks, or even less, did you decide you would be forever friends because of those experiences shared? I have. I’ve also seen it happen to others.

I’ve then seen too many of those relationships blow apart like a dirty bomb, damaging those who thought they’d formed a lifelong friendship, or maybe even a lifelong love. Why? Because it’s human nature to present your very best face to someone you think you might like. We hide our ugliness with sweet smiles and kind words. It’s especially easy to keep up a good front online. How many minutes a day do you spend sharing yourself with someone else via internet? All they see are your written words, nothing else. They don’t smell your morning breath or watch you eat or sleep or hear you complain when you drive in traffic.

People think they know me when they read a blog or a novel I’ve written. They don’t realize I’ve edited myself to death, and then have been edited again and again by a professional with my novels. They don’t realize I’ve deleted my first, second, third drafts, and worked hard to make my words pleasing. Some readers even think they know me through the characters in my novels. They don’t see the research that goes into developing each one. Those characters aren’t me. Sure, they might have parts of me, but my readers have no way of knowing which parts.

How many times have you watched a television show or movie and loved the actor because of the part they played? You might follow up on that actor and read more about him online and be extremely disappointed. It’s all fiction. Often, when we communicate online, it’s also fiction. We only allow our readers to see who we want them to, not who we really are.

That goes for physical, face-to-face interactions, as well. I put my best face forward when I’m in public because that’s what I’ve been taught to do.

When Mel and I went out on our first real, fourteen-hour date, sure, we got to know one another a little better, but it took many months of experiencing different situations together, difficult times, conflict, deep discussions, and meeting the families, relating with others, each seeing the other relate to mutual friends, before we truly had a concept about what to expect in a relationship of our own. If Mel had told me on our first date, or second, or third, that he loved me and wanted to marry me, or if I’d done the same to him, it would have made for a difficult relationship. It might even have destroyed what has become a beautiful marriage, not because we aren’t suited to one another, but because we needed that time of learning about one another, of gently growing closer with that slow trickle, instead of rushing forward with a torrent of premature passion. The torrent would have left our relationship damaged, possibly beyond repair. There’s a good reason the Bible tells us to delay physical gratification until after marriage.

All I’m saying is do what I have my heroes and heroines do in my novels; take your time in a new relationship of any kind. Get to know a person, allow him or her time to prove loyalty and constancy before giving them your complete faith. Once you feel you really know this person, continue to give it time. Don’t move too quickly or trust immediately. Whether we intend to or not, or realize it or not, we each wear a mask of some kind. Beware of the masks around you, and get to know the real people behind them before placing your trust there. Am I repeating myself? Yeah. And I’m not editing that out, because it needs repeating.

You can always trust God, but never take anyone else at face value. Time is your friend.

 

 

Grabbing Your Attention by Hannah Alexander

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I’m in learning mode today–hence the extremely late post. I apologize. Typically I like to blog about romance or medicine, but today I’ve been totally consumed with learning how to promote our clinic locally. Though I do find it quite romantic to be working with my husband to build up the patient load of our clinic, it’s also stressful for both of us. Now that the flu season is nearly over, we aren’t getting so many sick patients, and as we’re struggling to keep our clinic afloat, I feel the weight of responsibility. Marketing is my job since I’m the one who markets Hannah Alexander novels.

I’ve discovered, however, that marketing my novels internationally is worlds different from attracting local attention. On the one hand, it’s easy to promote the skills of my husband–I believe he’s the best doctor around. He cares, he’s brilliant and he has over twenty years of experience. Since our patients know this, all I’m doing is asking them to spread the word, and I’m having a contest for a free blood panel to the person who brings in the most patients for us this summer. This test would cost hundreds of dollars if they were to be tested on their own, so I have hopes that this is the right way to promote something I believe in–my husband’s doctoring skills.

On the other hand, marketing my own writing is difficult. I can’t honestly tell you whether or not you will like a Hannah Alexander novel if you buy it and read it. Too many people have so many different tastes. Sure, enough judges have believed in my books in the past to hand out a few awards. Others have left kind reviews beside pictures and descriptions of my books, but those were books in the past. Being a doctor and relying on learned skills and intelligence is different from creating a whole new world and new characters and making them likable enough to continue to draw readers to my pen name time and time again. Still, I continue to love writing, and I have two books releasing back-to-back.

Visit my website http://www.HannahAlexander.com and feel free to read the first chapters of some of my novels. Perhaps this way you’ll be able to decide whether or not you’ll want to find my books at a local store or order a book online. Take a look at Hallowed Halls (I love the cover) and then if you prefer something with a murder mystery, check out Collateral Damage. Both are available, with first chapters ready to read whenever you wish.

Now…time to get back to marketing…no, wait, that’s what I’ve been doing. Maybe it’s time for a nap.

Upcoming Release by Hannah Alexander

Friends, I’m thrilled to announce an upcoming release of a new Hannah Alexander title, Hallowed Halls. It should be in stores and available on ebook in the month of May. The reason I’m so excited is that this is the first book actually published in a hybrid format by Hannah Alexander via the promotional help of Jerry B Jenkins Select. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. It’s still a book you’ll be able to read soon. I’ll have a picture of the cover for you before long, but since this is a new undertaking for all of us concerned, we’re taking it easy and making sure everything is done perfectly. Four of our colleagues are working with us on this venture as novelists: Angela Hunt, Brandilyn Collins, Bill Myers and Sammy Tippett, a worldwide evangelist I’m sure many of you know very well.

Please watch for our books on endcaps in your Christian stores, and on ebooks sometime in May. Once I know the books are available to you, I’ll figure out a way (remember me? The technoboob?) to get the cover on my next post for your enjoyment, and to give you a better idea of what Hallowed Halls–a women’s romantic fiction medically thrilling non-murder mystery with quirky, small-town characters and some adorable animals–is all about.

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Iodine: A Break From the Usual by Hannah Alexander

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This is a break in our regularly scheduled post on romance to make a special report on your health, my health, the health of a majority of people in the world, and I think I can get away with it because, not only do I write about romance, but I write about medicine. Please bear with me, because this is something that might very well affect you.

I recently read that in the last century, an erroneous report was given by some so-called scientists who stated that iodine was bad for our health. Because of this error, the iodine that was used as an agent in commercially baked bread was switched to bromide. Gradually our cars, our clothing, our households were mixed with bromide as a fire retardant. Did you know that in 1994 Canada banned bromide from the country? In 1990, England had already done so. But us? The FDA didn’t see a problem, so we are still being inundated with bromide, which is a poison to our systems. We’re eating it, living in it, sleeping in it, breathing it every day. Thanks, FDA.

I, however, have recently discovered what to do about that. For the past 17 years I’ve struggled mightily against various physical problems that mystified me. First I had food allergies, then I developed fibromyalgia, in which the pain and fatigue were so great I was unable to function without narcotic pain killers–something I hope to soon stop taking. You must surely know someone who is struggling with some kind of weird illness that has come out of nowhere, and has changed their lives. Maybe that person is you or a loved one.

My husband can tell you I’m always willing to be a human guinea pig for him, for our patients at the clinic, for my own healing. My friend, Colleen Coble, who is always researching new ways to treat her own symptoms and sharing them with others–what a wonderful friend–shared her new treatment plan to several of us. This plan is the addition of iodine to our diets–but it takes more than just iodine alone. You see, when bromide replaced iodine in our bread, and when bromide was used as a fire retardant, our bodies were purged of the necessary iodine we need. The bromide became so powerful in our bodies that the iodine was forced out. When this happened incidents of breast cancer increased, prostate cancer, in fact, many kinds of cancers increased, and we were left desperately seeking an answer. No one realized, in the 70s, that bromide flushed our much-needed iodine from our bodies and set us up for a myriad of thyroid related illnesses.

Every cell in our bodies needs iodine, and we weren’t getting it. Oh, sure, a tiny fraction of iodine was added to our salt, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Millions of people developed symptoms, particularly hypothyroidism, which meant our thyroids didn’t have enough iodine to keep them working properly, and our bodies began losing the ability to control weight. Notice our overweight people? Maybe you shouldn’t blame them. All this weight increase began after iodine was yanked from our bodies.

Since Colleen convinced me to start an iodine protocol–I desperately want OFF my narcotics–I had only been taking the supplement Iodoral for two days when I found my energy again. A week later, my pain–which was constant until then–just didn’t return one morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about it, I stopped taking the majority of my narcs all at once. Bad idea. I ended up with some good research about what a drug addict goes through in withdrawal.

Because the addition of iodine in the form of Iodoral (easier on the stomach than regular iodine) begins to force bromides from the system, our bodies begin a toxin dump, which will make us feel worse for a while. Of course, I was dealing not only with that, but with nasty withdrawal symptoms from stopping my narcotics so suddenly. I got so sick I couldn’t take my iodine or the supplements needed to go with it, and my fatigue eventually came back, my pain returned, and I had to restart the narcotics–a personal failure for me.

I asked Colleen what I was doing wrong, and she lovingly kicked my butt for trying to go cold turkey off my narcs. She also explained that sea salt water and extra water is vital to detox the system of bromide, heavy metals and other toxins, so that was what I needed to do first. I now take up to a couple of teaspoons of sea salt (must be sea salt, unrefined) in water throughout the day, followed by more fresh water. I take Iodoral in the morning (my dose is 12.5 mg, but others are much higher, depending on how much one needs to get healthy) along with 200 mcg of selenium, as much vitamin C as my body can handle without upsetting my digestion (2,000 to 4,000 mg) and others take zinc and B vitamins, vitamin A, etc. I take a vitamin/mineral supplemental powder from Life Extension to ensure I have the support I need without getting confused about the supplements. At first I couldn’t take that because I was so sick, but now I can. I have a lot of detoxing to go, but this is working.

If you do this, I highly advise going to yahoogroups and finding an iodine support group that will walk you through this. There aren’t any iodine educated docs in our area, but Mel, my husband, the hunk on the picture, is learning now. He’s traditionally trained as a Doctor of Osteopathy, worked as an ER doc for 22 years, and now runs our clinic here in town. He, too, is doing the iodine protocol, and is mentioning it to his patients, as well.

If you’re interested, look up Dr. David Brownstein online. He’s one of the docs helping pioneer the iodine march, and he has a lot to say.

Please take my words into consideration. Please think about it. Iodine is vital to our bodies, and we simply don’t get enough. It’s an epidemic all over the world. We could be much healthier than we are, and I, for one, am desperate to get off my narcotics and other supportive meds and get on with life. How about you?

The Death of a Romance by Hannah Alexander

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I’ve been blogging about love and romance lately because that’s what I write about in my day job, but this morning it occurred to me that  I have also written about the fallout of a dead romance–divorce. Tragically, love dies far too often, and those hit by it are left floundering in an effort to put their lives back together again. It seems each person I’ve talked to lately, believer or nonbeliever, has gone through the horrible experience. Since I’ve endured the pain of being rejected by a spouse and fought the long fight of divorce, maybe I can give comfort and a little direction to someone reading this who has experienced divorce, or knows someone going through it.

First of all, I hope this doesn’t offend anyone who has lost a mate to death, but the victim of a divorce has experienced not only the death of a marriage, but rejection from the one person in the world who was supposed to know and love them more than anyone else. It’s like a double death. It cuts a person to the core and takes a chunk out of their confidence. My comfort for anyone at this stage is to resist the devil and he will flee, because he is the one whispering to you that you’re unworthy. You’re no less a person now  than you were when your spouse married you. There are multiple reasons–hundreds to thousands of reasons–for someone to ask for a divorce, but my comfort has been that the person who divorced me was unable to work through his own personal difficulties, much less work through the difficulties of making a strong marriage. Maybe the two of you didn’t take time to get to know one another well before marriage. Whatever the reason, divorce is seldom about one person, but about two people being unable to make a relationship work.

If you’ve been rejected by a spouse, particularly when that spouse leaves you for someone else,  you’re left wondering what’s unacceptable about you. What’s lacking? What did you do? If only you could go back and do it over, find out what they really wanted, and do that thing, then this wouldn’t have happened. Recognize this? It’s one of the much-touted five stages of grief. You’re bargaining to get your spouse back. You will likely endure all five stages at different times for many months, even years. You might be in a hurry to find someone else and plunge back into marriage. Don’t! This could easily lead to yet another divorce, and believe me, the second one is even more devastating than the first. The time after a divorce should be an opportunity for you to heal, find someone who can counsel with you, discover what could have been done differently. Take a divorce recovery class, grow strong within yourself so that, if you remarry, you’re better prepared to make sure the next relationship works.

If you’ve been rejected by a spouse, you might be losing your home, you will likely be losing your way of life, and you might be cut off financially–spousal support and child support can end up being empty promises, and you are forced to find an attorney to help you fight for them. Most vital, if you have children, you might fear losing them, as well. I recall wanting to crawl into a hole at this stage and never come out again. If you’re enduring this stage, you’re either gaining weight because eating is a comfort, or you’re losing weight because you’ve lost your appetite. You might be developing stomach problems from the stress, and you might even lose your temper more and more often-yet another stage of grief. You must remember you are not alone. This is normal. Learn to love and accept yourself, and work on growing. Discover your own likes and dislikes. Learn to do activities by yourself until you’re comfortable with yourself.

One small piece of advise I learned when I was helping teach divorce recovery was to pull myself together when I met with my attorney, and go prepared for the appointment. The hardest thing for me to resist was crying, but time with an attorney is expensive, and I needed to be ready with answers to any question I was asked, not waste time weeping. The attorney is not your therapist or confessor, but a legal entity who is there to ensure that you will not find yourself penniless and childless after the ordeal is over. Weep after the meeting, not during.

If you need someone to talk you through this time one-on-one, then find someone who specializes in counseling those going through divorce. Watch yourself, however. You’ve been freshly wounded, and the most natural thing for you to do is attempt to reconnect with someone, anyone. I would suggest finding a therapist not of the opposite sex, and often your friends can walk with you through this. The One who can best help you through this, of course, is always with you, always loves you, always accepts you. Turn to Him, pour out your heart and ask for direction. God is always there for His children.

There are so many more aspects I haven’t covered about the death of a romance. I could write a whole book on the subject, but multiple books have already been written, and I advise you to look for them and read them. Some of the best are written by those who have experienced the loss of divorce, themselves.

Until later, I wish you well, and I wish you healing. It will come. Never forget it always comes.

 

The Language of Romance by Hannah Alexander

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This is a true incident, so some points were changed to protect identities.

I was talking with a friend lately about the language of love. He’s seeing someone who is kind, witty, and always telling him how much she enjoys his company, how attractive he is, how much fun he is. My friend–we’ll call him Walter–very much enjoys Muriel’s (I’m calling her Muriel ;-)  ) company. She’s generous with her time, cooks fabulous meals for him and wants him to meet her family.

He’s holding back. I asked why. You know we often talk about battered women in broken relationships, but men can be verbally abused–even physically abused–by their wives. It’s happened. Walter, a widower, is afraid to test the waters again. Who could blame him? But he doesn’t want to live the rest of his life alone, so he started dating again, but he’s hesitant to get too close because Muriel might turn out to be like his late wife. He doesn’t believe in divorce.

Walter is uncomfortable when Muriel says sweet things to him–“You’re a wonderful man…I love your eyes…you’re so much fun…I love you…” Yeah, scary to get that close, and because the tendency for verbally abusive people is to say sweet things to their victim, then undercut them with a slice of venom–“Of course, you’re a pathetic loser”–Walter keeps waiting for the follow-up he got for nearly thirty years.

“But you don’t get the follow-up, do you?” I asked.

“No. It’s never come, I just expect it to,” he said.

“And you like Muriel, right?”

“Oh, yes. She’s a wonderful woman, and I enjoy her company so much, but it makes me uncomfortable because she’s always saying such sweet things to me, and she’s getting too serious.”

“If she truly loves you,” I said, “she’ll wait until you’re ready. Don’t let her push you. On the other hand, it sounds to me as if words of affirmation, from the Five Love Languages, are her way of showing her affection. If that’s the case, then you can encourage her friendship by speaking words of affirmation to her, even while you’re asking her to move more slowly.”

“But wouldn’t that just lead her on?” he asked.

“Not if you’re honest with her about how you feel. You can tell her the truth about how you feel about her–which is friendship and affection. From the time Mel and I met until he told me he loved me, it was almost a year and a half. I had to wait to hear those words. If I can wait, so can Muriel, but we eventually did get married, and now I hear those words every day.”

“Okay, gotcha. Say nice things to her.”

“Not just nice things,” I said. “Tell her how you feel about her beauty, her cooking, anything complimentary that is true, but also tell her the truth, that you need to move more slowly.”

I’m a firm believer in trying to speak the language of love as often as possible to my husband. I also believe that words of affirmation are helpful for any relationship–as long as they’re honest, and not being used to manipulate. If I like a friend’s novel, I’ll tell her. If I like a hairstyle, blouse, someone’s laughter or smile, if the situation calls for it, I’ll speak up about it. Everyone can use more words of affirmation. I think in a relationship, even if the other person’s love language is something else. words of affirmation can give anyone a lift and a new view of themselves, fresh encouragement, and joy.

Try it on someone today. Tell them how much you appreciate them, how you love their honesty, their kindness, or whatever else you admire about them. Done appropriately, it can make their day better.

 

Love is a Journey by Hannah Alexander

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Yep, I’m still writing about romance, both in my novels and on the blogs.  Why? because what beats love? There is romance between God and mankind, and girlfriends (had me some good girlfriend time this weekend, and it gave me such strength again.) There is buddy love between men who just can’t always tell their women everything, there is love of friends who will keep you straight and tell you the truth no matter what because they love you and want what’s best for you. There is painful love, and there is love with tons of laughter.

This weekend Mel and I went on a special retreat with some people we love–our clinic staff. At our last get-together, one of our staff members brought a date and announced they’ve decided to get married. I screamed–which might be why I don’t have much of a voice lately. We all hugged and loved on them–you’ve got to see our staff to believe it. God has blessed us.

So anyway, this weekend was the weekend of truth, in which our precious staff member (who is a widow at 66) and her man were thoroughly vetted to make sure he’s right for her (he’s in his early 70s) and that she’s right for him.  Both have recently lost their spouses, and so we wanted to make sure they weren’t jumping into something too quickly. I’ve always thought that those who have had a good marriage before will be eager to jump right back into marriage once again. Well, these two fit. We carried Pepto Bismol in our purses because there were to kissing couples at our retreat–Mel and me, and our two new lovebirds.

The wedding is set. Their romance is right. Why do we know? Because we questioned them both thoroughly, we made sure they both were able to accept one another’s denomination, that they were taking this all to God, and that they were both givers. Mel rode down and back to the retreat with our groom in question, and is convinced. They are now fast friends. The man makes our staff member laugh. He makes all of us laugh, he is trustworthy, and he doesn’t get mad when we forget his name and  call him Fred…no, Lee..no, Allen…no… Ralph…Oh, whatever, it’s your roll of the dice!

When they first announced their marriage, they were planning to wait a year to please everyone else. Now it’s going to be in July. Set date, no more waiting. I think we might have had something to do with talking them into not waiting. Ah, romance when you’ve done it all before and know what it’s like, and know better what to look for the second time around. I so totally believe in romance in all stages of life. I do, of course, believe in chastity, but since I do believe in chastity before marriage, I also can tell you not to make the engagement too long. Just sayin’…

What to watch for in a good future spouse who has lost that spouse to death: did he treat his former wife with love and respect? Will he respect your chastity before marriage? Does he put you first? Is he giving and loving? Is he willing to talk about anything? Are you open to listening to him talk and continue to grieve his loss? Can he do the same? Is he open to spending time with your friends? I’m sure others have more ideas. If you have them, want to help us lovebirds out?

 

 

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