05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Not According to Roxanne Rustand

The guest blog theme this month is about working as an author with difficulties that can make writing truly challenging. I am so in awe of the amazing authors blogging on this topic, who have managed to overcome great obstacles to become prolific, wonderful writers--and very successfully, too.  I would be terribly presumptuous to say that my own experiences even hold a candle to theirs, but I’m going to share with you some of the more transient times when life can get in the way, for any of us.

When you start out wanting to be an author, you have no deadlines.  No pressure. You can take a year or two or three to write those first few chapters, while polishing every word until you think it gleams like the finest gem. Eventually, if you work hard and never, ever give up your dreams, open your heart to honest criticism and then go back and work even harder, those dreams may come true.

And then everything changes.  No endless dawdling.  You have an editor!  Deadlines!  And you learn that it’s absolutely imperative that you make every single deadline with professionalism. To make life difficult for your editors, who are often overworked and who have tight deadlines of their own, can mean losing your slot in the publisher’s line-up and perhaps, losing a chance for future contracts. 

Being a very Type A person, I accepted all of that with steely determination...but life happens. Family illnesses, deaths. Moving. Job changes. Births, raising kids.

For instance, on a day when I had one of those tight deadlines—with a lot of pages to write and less than two weeks to do them--I spied a spider.  Not just any old spider—a big, black, hairy creature, surely the size of those big grapes sold at Christmastime. Wolf spiders are especially creepy to me because they are so sentient—they clearly see me. Watch for my next move. Consider their next move. Then they race for cover. Which is fine if they are outside, but this behemoth was on the workbench downstairs.  Indoors.  Which meant I’d be seeing him again soon and he’d scare me all over again.

So...I admit it. I love all other animals.  Our kids grew up having every possible pet rodent, lizard, and even snakes in the of which ended up with the stage name of Igor and appeared in my first published novel. 
But I hate spiders, and so on this day, I was mean.  He darted under the edge of a crumpled towel and I slammed my hand down—and promptly discovered that under that towel wasn’t just a spider, there was a piece of angle iron. I missed the spider (who was probably snickering as he headed to my office for yet another surprise visit) and managed to break a bone in my hand.

I was so stressed, worrying about finishing my book, that I didn’t want to go to the doctor—much less accept that it needed a cast.  But there it was anyway, by the end of the day—hot pink and exactly what I didn’t need.

But....there’s Dragon, I thought.  Voila! The speech-to-text program for Macs had been getting a little better with each new version, and surely that would work!   It did...for a couple days.  Until I came down with a cold...which swiftly moved into severe bronchitis, then pneumonia.  With my asthma, simple colds often don’t stay simple at all.

And then—I got a severe case of laryngitis. 

Whatever Dragon’s wonderful capabilities, it could not read my thoughts, and that’s all I had left for the final week of my deadline. And thus I had to awkwardly, painstakingly, slowly type with my left hand. 

With several sleepless nights, I finally got that book done...but the experience did teach me some lessons.  Appreciate the capabilities I (usually) have.  Be kind to all of God’s creatures—even spiders. And never, ever let myself get behind on a deadline...just in case I do something stupid again!

Roxanne Rustand is an award-winning author of  thirty romance and romantic suspense novels. She also contributed to the serial mystery, ORCHESTRATED MURDER (a trade paperback for Iowa Public Radio.)  She now writes inspirational fiction, and is completely thrilled about this change in her career!

Out on their acreage, Roxanne and her husband have three horses, two border collie mixes (one  adopted from a shelter–a sweetie named Elmo), and an abundance of barn cats who much prefer cat food to mice. 

Roxanne would love to have you visit her website and blog at


Sarah Raplee said...

Roxanne, I've been a fan since we lived in Iowa ten years ago! Your stories are wonderful and always leave me uplifted.

If the Spider Incident aftermath was karma, you got hit big time! Even so, it wasn't more than you could handle. You persevered and finished the book on time.

I've been hit with chronic illnesses since I started writing, but I persevere. I'm content with finishing the book or story, period. That's one reason I'm thankful for all the options writers have today.

Thank you for sharing about Dragon text-to-speech software working well for you. It's a great tool for many of us who have physical challenges!

Judith Ashley said...


I've never broken a bone but I have sprained ankles and shoulders. Had to wear an immobilizer for several weeks at one point. And I had surgery on my right hand (finger) and couldn't type for 8 weeks. But I was not and am not traditionally published so did not have that kind of deadline. I admire your commitment and professionalism!

Had to laugh about the barn cats! I've never had cats but all my dogs have preferred people food or people garbage to dog food!

Kristin Holt said...

Hi Roxanne!
Fancy meeting you here! (I'm thrilled to see you, my new Sweet Romance Reads fellow-author on Romancing The Genres, one of my haunts.) Welcome! Your story of determination, life experiences, and perseverance resonates with me on so many levels. Thank you for sharing your insights, thoughts, and everything you learned. You're an inspiration.
Kristin Holt

Barbara Strickland said...

You are inspiring and I needed it. I am struggling at present for a lot of reasons, health being one of them. We just have to remember we can do what we have to do.

Linda Lovely said...

Good story and a reminder that I'm no longer 21 and capable of pulling all-nighters with impunity to make deadlines! I am signing off to go do some deadline work for my editor!