Losing Control – Guest Post by Heather McCollum, Author of Surrender, Book 4 in The Dragonfly Chronicles

Surrender, a paranormal romance by Heather McCollumLosing Control

Hello everyone! Thanks so much for having me here and tuning in today. Let’s take a quick peek at losing control in SURRENDER, Book 4 in The Dragonfly Chronicles series. Do you lose control of your emotions from time to time too?

Kailin’s face flamed with the sun. Long fingers caught in her skirts as she tried to force the blush to recede, but it continued along with Jackson’s teasing look. She didn’t notice anything except the heat in her cheeks until Jackson pivoted to lean out over the rail.

“Kailin!” he yelled. She swallowed hard over the sound of thrashing and splashing. Kailin leapt up from the chaise lounge and ran across the deck. Birds, reptiles, even some fish jumped from the water. Two crocodiles clawed their way up the steep bank on the opposite side of the small boat. Bubbles popped and boiled along the surface of the Nile. Heat steamed up from the surface. Jackson turned to her, a whispered order already on his lips. “Kailin, stop! The river…it’s bloody boiling!”

Air churned somewhere between her lungs and her lips, stuck. She forced a breath out. “Touch me, Mr. Black.”

Jackson’s eyebrows lifted, but he didn’t argue. He clasped her upper arms, yanking her into his chest. It was an embrace, and to anyone looking it would seem the rough embrace of lovers. Kailin’s face flamed more.

“Don’t let go of me,” she whispered. He shook his head as he stared at her. As if he knew that her blush had caused the Nile to boil. His command to stop…He…did know. Kailin swallowed and stared into his face.

After a few minutes the splashing died away and Kailin felt her cheeks cool. She focused on the small scar just under the indent of his chin, just visible beneath his unshaven shadow. He cleared his throat, but she didn’t meet his eyes.

“So…Miss Whitaker, for future reference. Do you embarrass easily?”

We all lose control of ourselves at times when stress churns in our own heads or life circumstances push us to the breaking point. The heroine in my latest release, SURRENDER, has the magical ability to move objects with her mind. She is extremely powerful, but the magic is challenging to control. Growing up in the Victorian age she’s encouraged to master control over her actions, her environment and her emotions. But for Kailin this is more important than adhering to the strict cultural standards of the era. Control is her means of keeping her powers in check so that she doesn’t harm anything or anybody. She reminds me of a lovely, non-green version of the Hulk. Interestingly, her magic does not work on one person, her soul-mate. One touch from him mutes her powers until he lets go.

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, I lost control of my life. As you would imagine, I had very limited control over what happened to me during the next two years as I underwent extensive, remove-all-girlie-parts surgery and endured 15 long months of chemo. Those outside pressures were fierce, tugging me this way and that like I was a willow tree in a hurricane. Stripped of “leaves” and poisoned with life-saving drugs, I had a very difficult time controlling the only part I still had sovereignty over – my emotions.

With three young kids (ages 4, 10, & 12), a needy rescue dog, and a husband who’d lost his own mom to breast cancer when he was 9 years old, I was desperate to live.  I was frantic to live. I was cry-all-the-time insane with my need to stay on this earth to love my family. Through three swollen-eyed weeks right after the diagnosis, I suffered terribly before I finally believed that I did have some control.

“There are so many things happening to you which you can’t control,” my pastor told me. “The only thing you can control is how you will respond to them. What type of woman do you want to be through all this?”

So I decided. I would be a fighter, a laugher, and a lover of every little bit of life I got. The two years was fraught with pain, challenges, and a good amount of fear. But that time was also full of humanity’s outpouring of love on my family and me. It was full of victories, even if they were small like being able to walk up the street. It was full of miracles and smiles. And I learned a lot about controlling my fear of pain and dying.

I learned to create and say positive affirmations constantly to force my focus on succeeding. “I am living a long and healthy life. I am healthy and strong.” I created a detailed image in my head of me as a healthy elderly person which I concentrated on whenever the fear of death had me hyperventilating. I watched only funny movies and shows. No news for me. I collected lists of cancer perks like getting to wear huge, gaudy earrings and not having to worry about blow drying my hair. I learned how to counter my kids’ tears and requests for promises that I would live with concrete information. No promises, but a clear plan on how we were getting Mommy out of this mess.

At night after the kids were asleep, when I was feeling sick with exhaustion and meds, it was truly almost impossible to control the fear that would creep in on me, pushing the tears out of my aching eyes.

“I’m scared,” I confessed to my husband. He pulled me into his lap and wrapped strong arms around me.

“It’s terrifying on this side of it,” he answered. “I can’t imagine being on your side of all this.” He held me and gave me the words I needed to hear. “We caught it early. You’re young and healthy. You’re doing everything you can to beat this. You’re going to beat this.” And slowly I would regain my control of the fear and crawl back from the shadow into the light.

I was in the middle of writing SURRENDER when I was diagnosed. For over a year I couldn’t write fiction. I couldn’t even read fiction. The only thing I could read or write about was how to beat the cancer beast. So I left Kailin, my heroine, who is incredibly claustrophobic, stuck in a very tight place (don’t worry, no spoiler here) for a long time. When I was finally able to believe in happy endings again (a must for a romance writer) and pick up where I left off in the manuscript, Kailin’s need for control felt very familiar. I’m sure it poured out of me into the pages.

When Kailin loses control in SURRENDER, the world can literally fall apart as her telekinesis takes over. When I lost control of my emotions during treatment, my world fell apart. We both struggled to harness our emotions, but when the darkness was too strong and threatened to tear us apart, we both found help in the arms of our heroes. My hubby spoke words that helped me be strong enough to gain control of my fear, to stop the destructive self-doubt playing through my mind. Jackson Black’s touch on Kailin stopped her destructive powers too. And after months of turmoil both Kailin and I found our happy endings.

Fighting Clan McCollumI am thankfully in remission and hope to stay there with my hubby and kids for the rest of my long life. Meanwhile I am using my voice as a writer and speaker to spread awareness about ovarian cancer and the symptoms which are so quiet that they are mere whispers in a busy woman’s life. The main symptoms are:

Bloating that is persistent

Pelvic pain

Feeling full but eating less

Urinary issues

Other symptoms may include: fatigue, constipation, pain with intercourse, digestion issues, and back pain. If you experience any of these symptoms almost every day for more than 3 weeks, please see your doctor. A GYN should perform a pelvic exam and possibly a trans-vaginal ultrasound and a CA125 blood test. My cancer grew in 5 months, in between annual visits. Do not wait if you are experiencing these issues.

What strategies have you used when you feel your life is out of control?

SURRENDER: Book Four of The Dragonfly Chronicles

Blurb:

To save her father, Kailin must control her magical gift of telekinesis and unearth the cryptic Orb of Life in nineteenth-century Egypt. Only one man can help her, a treasure hunter with an agenda of his own. Besides battling demons, Kailin must also battle her attraction to the handsome American cowboy aiding her search.

Jackson Black desperately wants the Orb, an artifact said to have power over life and death. But to get it he must ignore his conscience and do things he never thought he’d do. Falling for Kailin will only jeopardize his mission.

Only Kailin’s complete surrender to Jackson, the one man who can mute her powers, will save her life. But when she discovers his secret, it will take more than magic to save her heart. It will take trust and the ultimate treasure–love.

Excerpt:

Kailin stared at the cowboy. He made her anxious, but she wasn’t about to admit that to him. “You irritate me more than most, Mr. Black.” She tilted her head to examine him. “You invade my personal space, not just physically like in the corridor but my”—she swirled her finger near her head—“emotional space.” She nodded, satisfied with her description, happy to slap a label on it so it could be cataloged away like other common human responses.

“And Dr. Whitaker,” she continued, “though accurate, causes more trouble than it’s worth in this culture. Miss Whitaker is fine although you have a tendency to hedge on the scandalous side of propriety by calling me by my given name seemingly whenever you please. Again, quite irritating.”

He opened his mouth to say something, but she held up her hand. “And I am very aware that you answered my question with a question, thereby trying to change the subject.”

Kailin crossed her arms over her chest and waited.

Jackson raised one eyebrow. “Yes.” His gaze traced her features and heat crept upward from Kailin’s neckline.

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, I do speak the truth, when a lie is unnecessary. And yes, my name is Jackson Black.”

“So you have deemed it unnecessary to lie about your name,” Kailin parried and felt a tug at her lips as if a smile threatened to escape.

He laughed, a short chuckle that held the warmth of his gaze, and Kailin’s heart took off like a spooked horse. Her fingers pressed against her breast bone as if to keep the wild steed inside her chest. Irritating. And invigorating, a small voice inside cried. Ridiculous!

She looked back out over the rail. “We are north of Thebes and Karnak, are we not?”

Jackson stood up and the glow of the rising sun broke over the edge of the far off dunes, flooding him with an orange-yellow light. It was as if he reflected the unleashed solar power of the pharaoh’s sun god himself. He walked to the rail and Kailin admired the way his rugged pants fit his hindquarters and muscular thighs like wavy sand over a landscape. He turned and for the briefest of heartbeats she stared at his groin before her gaze flew up his chest to his…grin.

Kailin’s face flamed with the sun. Long fingers caught in her skirts as she tried to force the blush to recede, but it continued along with Jackson’s teasing look. She didn’t notice anything except the heat in her cheeks until Jackson pivoted to lean out over the rail.

“Kailin!” he yelled. She swallowed hard over the sound of thrashing and splashing. Kailin leapt up from the chaise lounge and ran across the deck. Birds, reptiles, even some fish jumped from the water. Two crocodiles clawed their way up the steep bank on the opposite side of the small boat. Bubbles popped and boiled along the surface of the Nile. Heat steamed up from the surface. Jackson turned to her, a whispered order already on his lips. “Kailin, stop! The river…it’s bloody boiling!”

Air churned somewhere between her lungs and her lips, stuck. She forced a breath out. “Touch me, Mr. Black.”

SURRENDER is FREE right now on Kindle! October 29 through November 2 at Amazon.com

Heather McCollum, author of Surrender, a paranormal romance Bio:

Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay, and was a 2009 Golden Heart Finalist. She currently has five paranormal historical romances out with three more scheduled to release this winter.

When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own hero & 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.

You can find Heather at:

www.HeatherMcCollum.com

https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor

https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor

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9 thoughts on “Losing Control – Guest Post by Heather McCollum, Author of Surrender, Book 4 in The Dragonfly Chronicles

  1. Congratulations on your victory over ovarian cancer, Heather. Wishing you many, many years of survivorship. When my wife went through breast cancer treatment in 2009, one of the things that helped me maintain semblance of control was mowing the lawn. I’d put my ear buds in, fire up the engine and spend the next hour or so in my own little refuge. Two songs I listened to every time were U2’s “Ultraviolet – Light My Way” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” To this day, those songs remain extra-close to my heart and always will.

    • Wow Jim, thanks so much for the congrats! And for being a care taker for your wife. Cancer is not something that should be fought alone. I LOVE U2!
      My husband, who hated yard work, spent hours outside creating a garden for me to sit in. He needed to find his refuge too.
      Prayers that your wife is healed- Heather

  2. Wow, Heather, your post brought tears to my eyes. You touched on so many key points in describing how you felt–the loss of control, the fear of dying, the desperate need to be there for your family, the exhaustion, and not being able to write. I can relate somewhat. I deal with CFS every day, and consequently depression, am a single mom to an 11-year-old boy who would be lost without me, and some days it’s so very difficult to be the type of woman I’d like to be.

    I wonder if you’ve read Louise Hays’ You Can Heal Your Life? Some of the things you mentioned she advocates for the healing process.

    Thank you for such an honest and inspirational post. Wishing you much success.

    • Thank you, Tiffany! No I haven’t read her work, but will look for it.
      I am in awe of you mothering on your own and with CFS and depression. I know a thing or two about depression and it can be extremely debilitating. I hope you are seeing a pro for help.

      You sound like an amazingly strong woman and your son will have a wonderful example of someone who can continue on even under such struggles. He is very lucky to have you.
      Hugs! Heather

      • Thanks for your kind words, Heather. Louise Hays is someone worth checking out just for her incredible story alone. She grew up very poor, was raped by a neighbor at 5, dropped out of high school, got pregnant, etc. She was diagnosed with “incurable” cervical cancer in 1978. Refusing all conventional treatment, she essentially healed herself.

        Since then she’s been an incredible motivational speaker, started a publishing company, Hay House, for “spiritual” books. She works with the biggies like Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer. And she’s still going strong at age 87!

        Yes, she does have a very spiritual take on all illness–she believes there’s always a corresponding negative belief system behind every illness–which you can take or leave depending on your thoughts on the matter, but she def has been a pioneering force in the world of health.

  3. My warmest congratulations, Heather. My father survived colon cancer, but one of my good friend’s son lost his battle against leukaemia; he was 14 years old 😦 Your story is inspiring on more than one level (I’m also working on a historical novel, and I feel out of my depth at times!), but my favourite part is that you CHOSE life and love. Bless you.

    • Thank you, Annie! I am so happy that your father won his battle. And am so sad that your friend’s son did not survive his fight. There are no answers to the question “why?”. I ask all the time, why did I survive when my friend, Sherrie, did not? And there will never be an appropriate answer. I chose life and so did she, most ardently. All I can do is go on and keep her memory alive and use what I learned in my work and to help make the world a little easier.

      Love that you’re working on a historical! What time period? Best of luck with that and keep writing : ) Heather

    • Your welcome, Rebecca!
      Every time I get to spread awareness about OC, I feel like what I went through has a purpose. It’s emotional healing for me, so I’m so happy to have the opportunity here with Babette : )
      Heather

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