Hellhound release and acknowledgments

Today is release day for Hellhound, book 5 in my Deadtown series, and although I wish the book well and am happy to send it out into the world–for myself, I’m lying low for this one. As I’ve mentioned on this blog, my husband died last month after a long and difficult illness with many ups and downs. He fought so hard and rallied several times, but he didn’t survive. I haven’t been online much because I’m still in mourning. Most of the time, I’m quite sad and even still in shock. I’m working through those feelings offline, as I should. This blog doesn’t seem like the appropriate place to grieve. In the same vein, I just don’t have the heart to do a blog tour or make a big promotional splash this time around.

But I would like to update Hellhound’s dedication and acknowledgments. I wrote those on the day after Steve had the sudden cardiac arrest that would put him in the ICU for more than three months. After the arrest he was in a coma and on life support, and no one knew whether he’d wake up. The neurologist had told me it would be at least 24–72 hours before we see whether he’d regain consciousness. (It actually took 11 days for him to wake up.) I had copy edits due. I decided to spend those first couple of days finishing the edits and writing my not-yet-written dedication and acknowledgments to keep myself from going crazy with the waiting.

It was a scary time, and I was trying very hard to stay positive. I wanted to dedicate the book to Steve, but what should I say when I didn’t know whether he’d live to see the next week, let alone publication? I thought about simply writing To Steve, but it seemed so plain. I wanted to give the dedication a jolt of positive energy, so I settled on the dedication you see in the book: To Steve, with hope for better times ahead. I wrote those words thinking of all we’d been through and hoping sincerely, with all my heart, that we would share better times going forward.

When I turned to the acknowledgments, my brain just wasn’t working right. I had so many people I wanted to thank, but the faces that flashed through my mind were the legions of hospital workers who’d been taking care of Steve. And, at that moment, I didn’t yet know or had only just met many people who would show kindness and compassion and take excellent care of my husband. Even now, I can’t remember them all: Pam, Zach, Kayla, Christie, Sherrell, Mary, Britney, Kelly, Britnee, Ashley, Stephanie, Donna, Shira, Wendy, Laurie, Rose, Noreen, Bonita, Philip, Caroline (respiratory therapist), Caroline (ICU nurse), Carol, Jesse, Jan, Erin, Raina, Mindy, Moses, Shirley, Jona, Ryan, Dan, Joe, and so many others whose faces I still see clearly even though the names begin to elude me. I’m probably getting some names wrong, too, and I apologize for that. I appreciate each and every person who cared for my husband, chatted with me, and showed us even a little kindness. Steve literally (and I mean literally–I counted) had a dozen specialists working with him. I am especially grateful to Dr. Domat, Dr. Kim, Dr. Okwiya, and Dr. Pessero for their good bedside manner and for trying so hard to help Steve recover. Elena, along with the other medical ethics and palliative care people, also helped us. Special, heartfelt thanks go to Chaplain Sachs; I would have disintegrated into a puddle of tears on the floor without your support and true friendship.

I’m sorry for any omissions. They’re not intentional. Steve truly had an army of caregivers fighting for him, and I appreciate the efforts of each and every person who took care of him. We should have won.

I’d also like to thank the staff of Family House, where I was able to stay at a reasonable cost for a significant part of Steve’s hospitalization. The facility is right across the street from the hospital, and it gave me peace of mind to know that I could be at his bedside in three minutes if necessary–and there were some times when it was necessary. You run a great facility with wonderful staff, and I’m so glad I was able to stay there and get to know some of you.

Steve’s medical issues dominated my life for most of this year–and, to be honest, for several years. There are other people I want to thank, people who had nothing to do with hospitals and health care. First and foremost is Cam Dufty. Cam was the Ace/Roc editor who bought the first Deadtown book, and I have always been grateful for her belief in me and her enjoyment of Vicky and friends. Cam has moved on from the crazy world of trade fiction publishing, but it was always my intention to thank her explicitly in each book of the Deadtown series. In the miasma of stress and worry last spring, I somehow left that mention out. So I’ll say this now: Thank you, Cam, for rescuing Vicky from the slush pile and setting her loose in the world. You were a great editor; you’re an even better friend. You gave me the chance to chase my dream, and anything I manage to accomplish as a writer is built on the foundation you created.

Numerous bloggers have discovered, reviewed, and recommended my books, bringing in new readers who would never have found my series otherwise. Some have become good friends, as well. So thanks to Sharon Stogner, Jen Twimom, Natasha Carty, Amber Chalmers (Cymru am byth!), Sullivan McPig, Roxanne Rhoads, Sara M., Spaz P,  Larissa Benoliel, Melliane, Chelle Olson, and Jennifer (The Book Nympho). Thank you so much for reading my books and sharing your thoughts with your readers. And thanks for being patient with me as I find my way through this phase of my life.

To be honest, I still find it hard to read Hellhound’s dedication. I wanted to ask my editor to change it to an “In memoriam” style of dedication, but by the time it was clear that Steve wouldn’t survive, it was too late to change the words on the page. Steve was an author, too (he wrote many more books than I did–more than 130 all told), so he knew how deadlines and production schedules work. Now, I look at that dedication with a tear in my eye and with a vow that everything I ever write will be dedicated to his memory, with love and appreciation.

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17 responses to “Hellhound release and acknowledgments

  • sharonstogner

    thank you :) Looking forward to hanging with Vicky again.

    It take a special person to be a health care worker and it is hard to really appreciate what they do unless you or a loved one has had long term hospital care.We had a nurse named Megan who found out we had never had a Buckeye candy (she was from Ohio) so she made some to give us. That was 10 years ago and I still think about how she made a tough situation a little bet better.

    • nancyholzner

      Thanks, Sharon, for being one of those bloggers who became a good friend.

      You’re right about health-care workers. In the last couple of weeks, after I’d moved into Steve’s hospital room, I was joking with one of the nurses about the quality of the “coffee-colored liquid” available in the family lounge. When I woke up the next morning, she’d left me a Starbucks venti coffee with a note saying she hoped it wasn’t cold. I was constantly moved by the kindness of the people who work in that hospital.

  • Cam

    Every time you write about Steve your love shines so strong in your words, and I’m sure everyone supporting you through Steve’s illness and passing could feel it as well. Thank you so much for your kind words to me; helping to bring Vicky into the world was one of my proudest moments as an editor. Sending you extra love today.

    • nancyholzner

      I’m just sorry that I didn’t get those words into pages of the physical book. But I hope you know I mean them. You were wonderful to work with!

  • Keith

    I’m in awe you were able to get anything at all done, writing-wise, during that time. Continued best thoughts as you rebuild your life and heal. Wonderful that through those horrible times, at least you were amply treated to such a caring, positive side of humanity from so many hospital workers.

    • nancyholzner

      Thanks, Keith. At one point, before he was in the ICU, Steve told me that he’d be really happy if I sat in his room and worked on my novel. So I did, and I kept coming back to it as much as I could after things got worse. I was doing it for him.

  • Sullivan McPig

    I can’t begin to understand how difficult things are for you at the moment, but I wish you lots of strength. *hugs*

    I think authors are amazing people: creating new worlds and stories for me to explore, and it’s my pleasure to tell other people about those books and authors that bring me joy. It’s the least I can do in return for all the hours of enjoyment I get out of reading your books.

  • deborahblake1

    I got the book in the mail yesterday, opened it, read the dedication, and just about cried. It seemed so tough in retrospect. Still, the thing about “better days” is that you never know exactly what that is going to mean. So I hope for better days for you too, slowly but surely. And in the meanwhile, my days will be better because I get to read another Vicky book!

  • nancyholzner

    It took a few days after my author copies arrived before I could look at that dedication. I was hoping for better days and now, in the sense you describe, still do. I miss him like crazy, but sometimes I feel like the separation between us is an illusion and he’s really not so far from me.

    • deborahblake1

      Well, ahem, psychic here…I can tell you he isn’t. Of course, I know that’s not so easy to believe.
      BTW–I’ve been yelling about the book everywhere :-)

  • A. R. Anderson

    I feel your pain. I lost my husband of 32 years this April. I also miss him like crazy. He was just 59 and, although in precarious health for many years due to a heart condition and two bouts of leukemia, he was full of life and lived it to the fullest. I can’t say the sorrow is any less six months out but I too will hope for better days for both of us.

    • nancyholzner

      My condolences to you. It’s so hard to lose the love of one’s life, especially at such a young age. My husband also was ill over a long period; like your husband, though, he really lived while he was alive. I marveled at his ability to keep his spirits up and enjoy each day. Wishing you peace as you recover from your loss.

  • twimom227

    And now I’m tearing up all over again. When I read the dedication yesterday I immediately wanted to reach out to you and let you know I was thinking of you. Understanding that books are printed well before they are on the shelves, I wondered if it was written at a time before Steve had taken that final turn for the worse. But the words are still touching and meaningful. And your courage to keep moving forward in light of the tragedy and sadness is an inspiration. I am so thankful for the stories you share with us all – both those of Vicky and of real life. *big hugs*

  • Jennifer TheBookNympho

    I am very sorry for your loss and I’m sending my thoughts and hugs your way. I know it’s been a long road for both of you and I hope you both can/have found peace.

  • Sue Lyssa Shaffer

    Thank you for sharing your world. You may find some additional support from http://www.Widownet.org. They helped me make it through when my husband died. All the members are widows/widowed, we share the journey and somehow find our way with both tears and laughter. You will be welcomed with open arms should you decide to drop in. We are even on Facebook.. Your writing helped brighten some of my dark days and I appreciate the humor and the emotional honesty.

  • Tiffany Lowe

    I only just recently discovered Deadtown and finished the first book. While looking to see if there were more, I found your website… and then I found out about your husband. I am so very, very sorry. And reading your post about trying to find your writing voice again touched my heart. I absolutely understand that struggle; my mother committed suicide January 19, 2012. Before then, I had been rather voraciously working on both a fanfiction story and my own original novel, but after her death… It’s been two years now and while I can hear their voices and remember the plotlines, I struggle futilely every time I try to write again. I am glad to read that it’s been coming back for you, and I wish you the best. May you find peace and healing quickly, from one writer to another.

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