Comma: A Memoir of Believing in the Promise of Every Moment


I am so excited to announce the release of my memoir!  There’s really not much more for me to say than, I hope some of you indulge and enjoy this inspirational and moving story.  Paperback and Kindle versions are both available on Amazon.

At six years old, Hope McCain learned how to make Kool-Aid—-not because she liked to drink it, but because it might one day save her father’s life. Her father was a type 1 diabetic with kidney failure, and from an early age she made it her duty to do whatever it took to hold on to him.

Now Hope reflects on the 25 years since her father became ill, and how even the simplest moments with him have shaped her life. She has watched her father endure type 1 diabetes, end-stage renal failure, a double-organ transplant, cancer, and organ rejection. His determination that has helped him to live more than 15 years beyond one doctor’s promise that he’d never see his only daughter graduate from high school, has given Hope a unique appreciation for the idea of never giving up.

Inspired by the Gracie Allen quote, “Never place a period where God has placed a comma,” Comma: A Memoir of Believing in the Promise of Every Moment embraces that life is incredible because there is no telling what the next moment will bring. For anyone enduring a battle with illness or for those looking for hope and encouragement during a time of perpetual worry, Comma is a reminder that every second contains a glimmer of promise.



Prompts for September 8

Your weekly dose of pen-spiration.  🙂  Have your own writing prompt to share?  Leave it in the comments and help contribute to the end of writer’s block!  Also, if you’re on Pinterest, please feel free to follow my Pen-spiration board for writing quotes and exercises!



It’s been…over two weeks since my last post.  I could blame it on the fact that my mother-in-law came all the way from Maryland for a ten-day visit.  I could blame it on the fact that I’ve been running until my legs turn into pudding as I train for the 10k I recently signed up for.  (I still suspect I had been drugged at the time.)  I could blame it on the fact that I’m writing a memoir.  Unfortunately, I can’t blame any of those things.  The truth is, guys, I straight-up have a miserable case of [bleeping] writer’s block.

Let me prove it.  Here is a picture of (some of) the various scraps of paper on which I’ve jotted down the beginnings of stories that went a whole lot of nowhere:


And that picture doesn’t include all of the stories I’ve started…and scrapped…on my computer.  It got so bad, I even made a list of the things that usually inspire me.

1.  The soundtrack to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
2.  The Sixteen Horsepower station on Pandora.
3.  Watching children playing.
4.  Sipping a glass of wine.
5.  Going somewhere new for the first time (even if it’s just a street in my city I’ve never been down before).
6.  People watching in crowded places.
7.  Running.

My writer’s block isn’t from a lack of ideas.  I’ve got ideas coming out of my arse.  (Not literally.)  It’s just that after the first paragraph or two, my mind just goes BLANK.  As easily as turning a light switch on and off.

So, my sincerest apologies for the lack of new stories.  I’m Determined (with a capital D) to finish the story I’m currently working on.  I just felt that, in the meantime, I should probably post something and admit that, challenge myself as I might, I’m still not immune to the writer’s block monster that gets us all at one point or another.


Three Years, Five Lessons

einsteinquoteThree years ago, I started the Impossible Words blog to bail myself out of writer’s block jail.  It worked, and has continued working.  This blog has made a big impact on the quality and the quantity of my writing.  Yet, I didn’t just learn how to improve my writing and keep myself inspired.  Over the years, I’ve learned some pretty significant things from my IW blog.  For instance…

It’s possible to turn limitations into opportunities.  All of the stories I post here are limiting in one way or another; if I’m not limited to words that don’t contain the letter A, I’m bounded by the challenge of using a pair of homophones in each sentence or using 50 X’s in just a few paragraphs.  No matter what the challenge, I am limited in the fact that I can’t write just anything.  At first, it’s a bit daunting.  There are still times when I think of a challenge and wonder, “Is that going to be too much of a struggle?”  But when I look back on it, I’ve written over thirty stories here on my blog (and 25 more in my book!), and I never would have written any of them had it not been for this blog.  My writing challenges aren’t the only limiting aspects in my life.  Though all of life’s limitations aren’t always as easy to overcome, it’s good to have a reminder that they often turn into experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise.

The things that challenge you can be a LOT of fun.  The idea of being “challenged” usually means more work, increased effort, and a whole lotta mental strength.  Just thinking about it is exhausting, honestly.  But any challenge, including the stories I write, often results in something worth being proud of—a sense of accomplishment, if you will.  When you know how it feels when the extra effort pays off, the hard work involved becomes something you really look forward to.

Variety is the key to continuously falling in love with what you already love.  You know that saying, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you?”  Well, that’s how I feel about writing when I have really bad writer’s block.  Each writing challenge I give myself here is so different than the last that not only do I beat my writer’s block, but “writing” becomes—in a sense—a whole new experience with every story.  Variety is what helps me to stay “in love” with the act of writing.

To do what you want to do, you’ll sometimes need to get creative.  Not everything comes easily.  We all know that, right?  Well, we might all know it…but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when we have a hard time achieving what we want to achieve.  Oh, if only you knew how many stories I start for some of my challenges, only to delete them from my computer in a bout of irritation.  These are the times I sometimes think, “Welp, I’ve failed that challenge.”  But give me a couple of days to turn it over in my head, and I WILL find a way to finish the challenge.  Since I’m one of the most impatient people in the world, this has been a good lesson for me:  sometimes you have to take a detour to get where you’re going, but once you get there, that detour won’t matter anymore.

And finally…

It’s okay to be good at something, but not be perfect at it.  I used to be hard on myself when it came to my writing.  REALLY hard on myself.  By writing the stories I post here, I’ve learned that it’s not about writing something that is perfect; it’s about writing with a purpose.  My challenges are not meant to produce perfect stories.  They’re meant to keep me inspired, to help me grow as a writer, and to encourage me to see things from a different perspective.  As long as they continue to do that, I am proud of each and every word I write.

For those of you who write/blog, what kinds of things has writing taught you?

Extreme Writing Challenge #21: “One Week”

It might be Monday, but at least I’m kicking off the week with a new story!  See if you can detect the challenge in today’s post, and don’t forget about my 50-Word Writing Contest!  There are still three days to enter and you can submit as many as you like!  Now, without any further adieu:


More than anything, I just didn’t want her to ask me what I was thinking about.

“Can I give you some time to consider it?  A week, maybe?” she pleaded.

I stared at the newspaper in front of me, where only half an hour ago I had little on my mind other than the solution to the Jumble word puzzle.

“I don’t know, Jane,” I told her.  “Honestly, this feels a little like a joke.”

Jane picked up my pencil and doodled on a blank corner of the paper.  She scribbled a Kanji symbol.  It could have meant anything.  Heartbroken.  Jerk.  Fooled you!

Jane left and surprised me with a kiss on the head as she walked by.  The jingle of the bell on the glass door startled me, as if it woke me up from a bad dream.

I paid for my juice and pancakes and slipped out of the diner with the newspaper tucked safely under my arm.  I was smothered by the July heat, the kind that coats your skin with an instant mist of your own sweat.  By now, Jane could have been ten blocks away if she’d walked, and miles away if she’d come in her Jeep.

I was startled to find her just around the corner, sitting on the curb in front of the Jack in the Box.  I ducked behind a trash can and debated whether to join her or run the other way.  No matter what I decided now, I couldn’t escape judgment day in a week.

“Do you want a ride?” I asked her.

Jane peeked up at me through her Maui Jim sunglasses, the ones she said were her last big splurge before. . .well, before.

It was a five-minute drive to her father’s house.  In the front yard, her dad joyously raised a pair of shears as he waited for me to admire his freshly-trimmed juniper shrubs.

“Jared!” he called as his daughter stepped out of the car.  “Stick around for dinner?  We’re having tilapia,” he said with an emphasis meant to make it sound extravagant.

I glanced at Jane, who pretended to pick cat hairs off of her shirt.

“Thanks for the offer, but not tonight, Mr. Hill,” I said.

With a shrug, he returned to his shrubs.  Jane leaned in through the window, her eyes jolting me with guilt.  “See you in a week?”  I nodded and slowly pulled away.

At home, I looked up the Japanese character she’d jotted on my paper back at the diner.  Family.

The next morning, I phoned Jane.  “A week is not long enough for me to know how this will feel nine months from now or nine years from now.  But I don’t need a week to know I’m going to be there for both of you, no matter what.”

Through the phone, I heard her smile.


The challenge was:  In 500 words or less, I used at least 20 unique words containing J and 20 unique words containing K.

Side note:  Scrabble can go ahead and add some more J’s and K’s to the mix.  I’m ready to rumble!

50-Word Writing Contest!

Who doesn’t love winning things?  The answer is deranged people.  Deranged people don’t love winning things.

But if you’re not a deranged person, and you want to win something, and you want to tackle a short writing challenge at the same time, you’re in the right place!

Here are the rules:  Below is a writing challenge.  All you have to do is complete the challenge and submit your story to me using the contact form below.  The final date for you to send me your work will be July 3.  I will pick one story that speaks to me the most, and on July 4th, I’ll announce the winner and post the story here on my blog.

So what do you win?  It’s a copy of My Life Journal, which is a journal filled with writing prompts, ideas for brainstorming, and inspirational quotes to keep you motivated to record your musings.


Ready for the challenge?

Write a story that is 40-50 words in length and contains at least one X, one Q, and one 8-letter word.

Please feel free to submit as many entries as you would like.  If you choose not to include your email in the form above, I will ask you to send me your email address later if I choose you as the winner.

Happy writing!