Critical praise for Christy!

For "Murder Hooks a Mermaid:"
"Author Christy Fifield creates the kind of characters that stay with you for a long time. Fifield’s new Haunted Souvenir Shop mystery, Murder Hooks a Mermaid has it all: a sunny, relaxed setting, captivating locals, delicious food, and—of course—murder! Delightful amateur sleuth Glory Martine is back with her wisecracking parrot and charming group of friends in this thoroughly entertaining adventure. Don’t miss it."—Julie Hyzy, National Bestselling author of the Manor House Mysteries and the White House Chef Mystery series
"A whodunit with a dose of the supernatural, "Murder Hooks a Mermaid" is a worthy successor to the series opener and showcases Fifield's talents for plotting, characterization and humor." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Quirky and unique, a heroine for whom you can't help but root. The story sucks you in." - The Maine Suspect
"With a lovable cast of characters, good conversations and a great setting, this well-written book is a terrific read." -- Dru's Book Musings

For "Murder Buys a T-Shirt:"
A refreshing new sleuth! - Lynne Maxwell, Mystery Scene Magazine
"A fun book that will make the dreariest of days a little brighter! Socrates' great Book Alert" - Socrates' Cozy Cafe
"An entertaining and clever Florida whodunit" - Harriet Klausner
"Hilarious! A great murder mystery with well-written characters" - Paranormal & Romantic Suspense Reviews
For the Georgiana Neverall Series:
"Christy Evans will find legions of fans with this new series" - Sheldon McArthur, Lincoln City News Guard
"Funny and entertaining -- a solid mystery filled with likable characters." - RT Book Reviews"
Cute cozy mystery debute -- wry humor -- adorable dogs" -Publisher's Weekly
"Will have you giggling out loud! Four Stars." - Kathy Fisher, The Romance Readers Connection"The Book is good! Keep them coming, Ms. Evans!" - Mystery Scene
"Evans delivers a fast-paced mystery with admirable finesse!" - Sharon Galligar Chance,
"Christy Evans has a hit on her hands" - Harriet Klausner,
"Christy Evans is aces. I'll be very suprised if Sink Trap isn't an instant hit with cozy readers!" -

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Case of the Vanishing Writer

I have been missing in action from this blog, and from most of my life, for several months.  Although I try to keep the posts here upbeat and cheery, sharing the interesting, unusual, and delightful moments I encounter, there are times when I have to be serious.  This is one of those times.  I hope you will bear with me as I share the latest developments in the Case of the Vanishing Writer.

Mom and her hero, Eleanor Roosevelt
Once upon a time - about three months ago - Steve and I were posting a series of interview-style entries about each of our mystery series.  I also posted a couple reports on my trip to Washington and Bethesda with my mom and sister for Malice Domestic, talking about what a wonderful time we had, and I was planning several more.

Life was good.

Not perfect, mind you.  I knew my mother was ill, and facing a serious operation, but the doctors were confident, she was prepared, and we had just completed a fairly strenuous week in D.C.  We thought she was ready to battle the tumor that was discovered just before our trip.  It was a fresh start, the beginning of a new chapter for her, after two years of constant care-giving as my dad lost his battle with dementia, and a third year of dealing with residential care before he passed away last August.

I struggled last year, trying to write about Dad in a way that made sense.  I never could, and I said very little about his death at the time.  The loss was greater than I could have imagined, even though he had been slipping away a little at a time over several years.  Even now, I find myself getting teary-eyed when I try to write about him.  He really was a fine example of what Tom Brokaw dubbed The Greatest Generation.

At the WWII Memorial, remembering Dad
When we came home from Washington, Mom went to get a routine cardiac clearance for her surgery.  Seemed like a reasonable request for an 81-year-old patient facing a major operation.  Only this wasn't so routine.  They found a serious blockage, in an area unreachable with a stent.  The only alternative was heart surgery before she they could remove the tumor.  The day after Mothers' Day she had a triple bypass, and started the long road to recovery.

My two sisters and I did not want her to go to a nursing home to recover.  She wanted to come home, and we wanted her to.  So we banded together, worked out a schedule, and started sharing around-the-clock care so that she could recover in her own home.  We helped her in and out of bed until she was able to get up by herself.  We cooked meals, urging her to eat "just a little," even when she had no appetite.  We did laundry, washed dishes, cleaned floors, whatever needed doing.  My shift was from Friday afternoon to Sunday night, so that I only had to make the 150 mile roundtrip once a week.  For two months, I left work every Friday afternoon, drove 75 miles to Mom's and relieved my sister.  On Sunday afternoon my relief would arrive and I'd drive home so I could work the next day.

Unfortunately, she wasn't the only hospital patient this summer.  On July 14 (my long-suffering, incredibly patient husband's birthday), I became violently ill.  A trip to the emergency room confirmed that I was, indeed, very sick, and they loaded me into an ambulance for a 90-mile trip to a regional medical center - our small town didn't have a qualified surgeon.  I can tell you that "Code 3" really does mean they use the lights, and siren if needed, all the way.  I can now take that little item off my bucket list.  Probably shouldn't have been there to begin with.

I was immediately poked, prodded, pictured, and prepped.  Six hours of surgery later, I arrived in recovery minus a gall bladder, an intestinal blockage, and at least four major hernias - silly me, I thought I had one hernia.

For the next nine days my husband lived in a small motel room a few blocks from the hospital, spending his days with me as I tried to recover from surgery.  He was my rock, my security blanket, and the one person I trusted absolutely during that time.  Several times he sat at my bedside and read to me when I didn't have the strength to hold a book or focus on words, and I often fell asleep as he read, comforted by the sound of his voice.  Hearing him made me feel safe; nothing bad could happen while he was there, watching out for me.

My sisters stretched themselves to cover the care of my mother, since I couldn't help.  In fact, just three days after being released I was back in the hospital with a post-operative infection.  The next four days were a round of IV antibiotics, short walks around the ward, and exhaustion, but eventually I was released again, and allowed to come home.  That was August 1.  For the next six weeks I had a WoundVac and an open incision, which kept me fairly immobile.

During that time I visited my mother a few times (the 150-mile roundtrip was a huge challenge), and talked with her on the phone, as well as getting regular updates from my sisters.  The news wasn't always good.  Mom's appetite didn't recover.  As a result, her healing was very slow, and she continued to lose weight.  She had several setbacks, urgent trips to her doctor, or the emergency room.  She would up back in the hospital in mid-August.  Finally, on August 15, she made the decision to refuse further treatment.  She asked to be released from the hospital and to be placed  on hospice care.

My husband immediately drove me the 70 miles to the hospital, and I spent the afternoon talking with her.  She was in full control of her senses, she knew what she was doing, and she had very good reasons for her decision.  Devastating as it was, I had to admit she was making the right choice for her.  For the rest of us, it was heart-breaking.  But seeing her relaxed and smiling, even cracking jokes with us, made us all realize how right her choice was.  She was happy again, for the first time in months, and that meant more to us than we could say.

My sisters, bless them, stayed with her through it all.  My aunt came to stay, too, and the three of them were with her around the clock.  I went several times, and each time I had the chance to tell her I loved her, and to hear her say she loved me.  The last words she spoke to me were "Love you bunches."

Mom passed away peacefully on the morning of September 1, just two weeks after the first anniversary of my father's death.  As I wrote in her obituary, "A strong, remarkable, woman, she faced her final illness with grace, courage, and amazing good humor."

Physically, I am still recovering, and the doctor tells me it will  probably take the rest of the year before I am fully healed.  I am back to work at the day job, but have yet to work a full week - thankfully, I had a lot of vacation time accumulated, and my bosses have been amazingly understanding.

Thanks for bearing with me through a long, serious post.  This last year has taken a lot out of me, but I will eventually recover my usually-optimistic outlook, and my sense of humor.  With luck, they will both be on display when I make the next post.

And I certainly hope that will be sooner than another three months!