Introducing Special Guest, Author Teri Brown

I’m just about to leave for the airport to catch my flight home.  I’ve worked really hard this trip to Hawaii–haven’t gone to the beach or pool once, not even out for a walk as I put in 10-14 hours a day, every day for 9 days–but my dedication is nothing compared to my friend Teri Brown’s, who writes as T J Brown.

I will let Teri tell her story, but know this–I’ve known her for years and she isn’t just an angel…she’s a warrior!

~~~

Scoring a contract from one of the major publishers is a dream come true for an author. Getting two in the space of eight months takes the dream, sprinkles it with glitter and serves it up on a cloud of cotton candy. That’s pretty much where I was last spring after Gallery Books made me an offer on the Summerset Abbey series. I had already sold a young adult series to Balzer+Bray; this new opportunity propelled me forward into stay home and write status, especially since I had rapid-fire, back to back deadlines for the next eleven months. So I did what most self-respecting authors would do; I rearranged my life, quit my job and prepared to live the dream, baby.

Except that days after signing the Gallery contract, I was diagnosed with throat cancer.

In my dream, no one gets cancer.

As far as cancer goes, I guess I was lucky. The lymph nodes in my neck did their job and stopped the evil cells from spreading. The cancer was of a type very responsive to treatment, I wouldn’t have to have chemotherapy, blah, blah, blah. No, really, that’s kind of what it’s like when you’re diagnosed with cancer. You know you need to listen carefully, but shock turns everything into a blur. Honestly, after I heard that my chances of complete recovery were very high, I only had one thought.

My deadlines.

Throat radiation treatment is brutal. You get sores in your mouth. Your neck gets scorched. Your throat burns and swells. It hurts to swallow and eating is a nightmare. And at some point you’re on pain meds 24/7. But still, all I could think was my deadlines. So I put my head down and did what I had to do.

Looking back, the eight weeks of radiation treatments and three months of recovery is a blur. My pain, fear and uncertainty were off the charts, but so was my creativity. I went to treatment, I slept, I wrote. My God, how I wrote. Through a morphine and pain induced haze, I crafted sentences, checked historical details with my fact checker, worked with a freelance editor, and wrote scene, after scene, after scene.

As Jane can probably attest, there is a certain kind of creative craziness that develops when writing a novel in a short amount of time. It’s hard to describe. You know, of course, that things are going on in the real world all around you. You may even participate in taking care of your children and all the details of life, but on some level, your mind is a ferment of ideas, concepts, characters and plot problems. It’s like being two separate people, or maybe being one person with two minds.

I wrote two books during that time, Summerset Abbey and Summerset Abbey: Bloom in Winter. All my books are special to me, but Summerset Abbey can be credited with keeping me positive and focused during an incredibly tough time in my life.

In retrospect, I probably learned more about myself and my creativity in those five months than I ever have. I list a couple of them here even though none of them are new… they’re just truth.

  1. Human beings are AMAZING and relationships really are the only things that matters. My family and friends gathered round and took care of life’s details so I wouldn’t have to think of anything but fighting the cancer and writing my books.  And in the end, when you’re gone, the only thing left of you is in the memories of your loved ones. Your possessions will NOT remember you.
  2. My work matters. Whether or not I ever become a bestselling author does not, but to have respect for myself and my process keeps my art honest and honesty is what keeps it art.

People have said, “Oh, you’re so brave!” But it isn’t true. All I knew is that I was not going to allow cancer to define the career I had worked so incredibly hard for. I just did what I had to do. Women who raise children in sub-Saharan Africa, people who live with HIV, people who work long hours in a sweatshop to send their children to school–those people are brave. Or maybe, like me, they are just doing what they have to do.  Maybe that is what bravery is all about.

In celebration of the launch of SUMMERSET ABBEY, the first book in an awesome trilogy, I’m holding a book lovers contest.   And get this; the prize is your choice of one of the following-a  Kindle Fire, A Nook HD, or a Kobo Vox!  All you have to do to enter is pre-order SUMMSERSET ABBEY through AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound, or through your local independent bookstore and then forward the e-receipt to: Teri(at)teribrownbooks.com.  My contest runs from January 3rd through January 14th.  Winner will be chosen at random and announced on January 15th, the day Summerset Abbey comes out!  Is that an awesome way to celebrate or what?

~~~

TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.

Thank you, TJ, for sharing with us today.  You are such an inspiration, and a joy to know.  I really adore you and am so proud of you, too!  xoxox

Readers, I’m giving away five copies of  Summerset Abbey, Starbucks drink cards, and lots of fun JP reader goodies.  The contest runs through Jan 9th and I’ll announce the 5 winners on Thursday morning, the 10th.  But if you don’t win—you can still pre-order your copy now (and enter Teri’s contest!) and the books will ship January 15th.  What a wonderful way to start a new year!

 

 

102 Comments / Add Your Comment →

  1. Teri – I had no idea you were going through this! I’m so happy to hear you’re on the mend, and am really impressed you were able to be so productive through such a trying time. When I was recovering from toxic shock back in ’09 I couldn’t write a single word. My body was too focused on healing to be even a tiny bit creative. For a while I was afraid I might never write another word again, but one day it all came flooding back. The human body (and mind) is an amazing thing.

    Congrats on your new series. Can’t wait to read it!!

  2. Oh wow TJ I can’t see how you could write a book and go through what you went through. You are amazing. I am so happy things came out all right and you are on the mend. Congrats on your new series and I can’t wait to read it.

  3. Teri, you are a warrior. Take the credit. I completely understand your line about “Through a morphine and pain induced haze, I crafted sentences…” I think that in some ways pain killers and particularly morphine help to block all the “noise” in our life and let the creativity flow. Not that I would ever recommend that as a way out of writer’s block.

    I am excited to read your book and really excited about your signing today. You deserve all of this. You have worked hard for years. Enjoy every minute!

  4. Teri,
    Your enthusiasm for life and writing shine through. That is sometimes the only way through the darkness. Just blitz it, but it is so inspirational to hear someone else describe it.

    Susan

  5. Teri,
    You said, “Your possessions will NOT remember you.” How true, how true! I have been trying to sort through all sorts of “stuff” for the past several years. “Possessions” are a burden we don’t need. I keep telling myself that I should be getting the house ready for downsizing into a seniors’ apartment building in ten or so years, but Lordy, it’s a long process. Sometimes “time” helps us to let go of items that have sentimental value; other times, I’m ready NOW to get rid of things. Whatever time it takes, though, it’s worth losing that “weight” from holding onto it instead. (Hope this makes sense.)

  6. Teri,

    I hear you, sister. After major surgery 8 years ago, I ended up in the ICU with the kind of infection that kills. I was hallucinating tiny little purple beings–at least they were friendly.
    The doctors told my husband it was good he brought me in when he did or my recovery would’ve been doubtful.
    During my convalescence, I wrote a book on my laptop. That sci fi adventure romance took my mind off my troubles and focused them in a wonderful way.
    Looking back, I can only say that experience gave me an appreciation for the little things in life, like moments with people I love.
    best,
    Cathryn

  7. You are a true warrior and an inspiration to all. I agree with your statement – Your possessions will not remember you.

    Thank you

  8. What an amazing story! When I’m having a “whoa is me day”, I’ll need to remember what Teri has gone through and overcome! Thanks for sharing!

    Take care,

    Amy P

  9. Teri,
    Had no idea you were going through such difficult times. I am so impressed with your ability to produce under such trying circumstances! I will stop being Ms. Whiney Butt about having back-to-back deadlines and copy edits! I’m blown away by your dedication, and can’t wait to read your books!

    Fellow MW writer

  10. Cancer is such a horrible monster! So glad you have such fight in you! Thanks to you, Teri & Jane for sharing with us! Y’all rock! Happy New Year!!

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. Cancer is a word we all don’t want to hear, most of us have had a family member or friend that has had it. You certainly are a really strong woman!

  12. Your a true warrior and like my cousin who went thru the same as you and worked on her paintings for she had a deadline I applaud you both for dedication and you both care so much for your work..now I have another author to put on my list to read..thanks for sharing your story!

  13. Teri I can Relate it has been 13 years now every year i get a pass on my mammogram it is Party day.
    DH buys my favorite cake (turtle) I have pink Carnations.
    enough of that. your book Sounds amazing I adore the Cover. cant wait to read the series.
    Have a good one Ann/alba

  14. You’re very strong to not let this get you down. You definitely are a warrior, as Jane said. Congratulations on your new book!

  15. I simply love the cover. I’ll make sure to order a copy.
    Your story is a strong one. I’m glad you where able to finish your book and fight the cancer.
    And thanks to you Jane for introducing me to Teri.

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish for continued good health. This looks like a series I will want to get into. I will add to my wish list. Looking forward to it.

  17. Congratulations, Teri, on your successful battle and the great work with the novels. I LOVE that cover, it definitely makes one want to read the book. I’ve been down the cancer road twice, and you are right, you do what you have to do. And relationships are everything. Thanks for sharing your story, your strength and your writing, with all of us. Happy New Year!

  18. Teri, you may not consider yourself to be brave, but you’re nothing short of amazing. I’ve always said ya gotta do what ya gotta do, but what you’ve done is very powerful. My hat’s off to you, and congratulations on being a survivor and a winner!

  19. Wow, what an inspirational story! I love that you were able to continue your love of writing while going through radiation and that you were able to immerse yourself in the world of your books when going through such a hard time. I can’t wait to read the series!!!

  20. Your a special person because of the strength you had to not only go through everyday life but also writing a book while fighting cancer. I’m glad your a survivor.

  21. Terri, you give any of us out here hope, inspiration and no excuses! I have so much respect for you and your attitude about life. Congratulations on your book deals!

  22. Wow! You’ve really been through a lot Terri. I always look for new authors. Your story and courage is aspiring. Good luck in all your future endeavors. Can’t wait to read your book!

  23. Wow. That’s is all I can think, Wow! I am so glad you had the chance and power to do what you love and so happy for you that you are a survivor.

    That book cover is just gorgeous! And I will be reading Summerset Abbey, one way or another!

    Best of Luck in all you do!

  24. Hi Terri,
    What an absolutely amazing journey. In this post you repeat a version of my personal mantra – all we have in life is family. Where would we be without those people who rally around us in good times and bad? And it’s so beautiful that despite your pain, you still created stories for us to enjoy! Looking forward to a wonderful read!

  25. Wow..thank you for sharing your story with us !! really inspiring.

    so let’s live our life to the fullest, nothing can beat us :D

  26. What an amazing example of strength. It’s amazing the things a person can do when they put their minds to it. Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading your book.

  27. Prayers to Terri that you stay cancer free. My brother had thyroid cancer and really find out who your great family and friends are by who steps up! They let you bitch, cry, laugh and be yourself when you need to. *hugs* to you.

  28. What an inspiration and an amazing woman. Congratulations and best wishes. The best of health and success. Learning about your battle and this wonderful outcome is so fabulous. I had breast cancer this year and strived to conquer this as well. Your book is a marvel and you are exceptional.

  29. Teri,
    I love your ‘warrior’ story…you go, girl. I would love to read your masterpieces…Jane, thanks for the chance to do that!

  30. I used to be an oncology nurse and know what pain and agony those with throat cancer can go through. It’s great that Teri had a so-called “distraction” through writing. When a person has a goal, there is no limit to what can be accomplished. I see many saying things like “wow” or “inspirational”, but there are no words can be put into what courage she displayed to fight this battle. I am anticipating an exciting trilogy from Teri!
    Sharon

  31. Wow! You sound like such a strong and courageous woman! I’ve had several members of my family who were diagnosed with cancer. It’s a disease that takes a very strong person to beat. God bless you and all you’ve been through. I can’t wait to read your books. They sound amazing. I wish you good health and much success with your books!

  32. Jane, safe travels. Can’t wait to read this book in Sept, I know it will be amazing with all you have put into it.

    Terri, You are a warrior and an inspiration to us all. The books sound wonderful and I adore the covers. I added them (book 1 and 2) to my wishlist for my Nook, so that if I don’t win one here, I will remember to get it. Wishing you success.

  33. Thank you Jane for introducing me to yet another author. The books sound interesting. Good luck to Teri with her career and especially her health. So glad she warriored through that chapter in her life. And I love what she said about things not loving you back. It is SO true. Much love.

  34. Sometimes it is so easy to forget that the things we have are not so important in the grand scheme of things. We never know when God is going to call us home, but we should live our lives as if it will be tomorrow. Don’t wait to tell someone you forgive them, don’t forget to tell someone you love them, always remember to hug your loved ones, and never get tired of learning something new.

    I love to hear the real stories of the authors who write books. Real life people with real life stuff. Creativity comes sometimes when we least expect it!

  35. wow you are amazing; I’ve been through Radiation so I know how one can be tired most of the time.

    And you still wrote 2 books; kudos to you.

  36. All I can say is what a story.
    After the year you had I don’t think there is much you can’t handle. I look forward to reading your books and by the way the art department did a lovely job on the book cover.

  37. No matter what you say, I think it is amazing that you wrote through that. You & Stephen King… & I couldn’t write through a broken toe!!!

  38. Teri, you are very inspirational. Cheers to you on your writing and your recovery! I look forward to reading your books. And, I must say, that cover of Summerset Abbey is gorgeous!

  39. Teri, You are such an inspiration and I loved reading about your story. You’ve been through the fire and come out on the other side like a champion! Awesome job!

  40. Teri, you may not see yourself as brave, but you certainly are strong and an inspiration. And I hope you have absolutely HUGE success with the series. It looks fabulous, and this first book has a gorgeous cover.

  41. Teri,
    I just watched the PBS program Downton Abbey, and loved that it was back on tv. Then I went to check emails and am introduced to your Abbey book by Jane. I bet it will be tempting reading to the many who have gotten into the world of England’s landed gentry through that program and I hope your Abbey series is just as super successful for you!

    I have heard the expression that you do what you have to do, but in reality it isn’t that simple. You are a fighter and your story is inspirational and here’s to a great 2013 for you!

  42. Congrats Teri, on beating Cancer and writing your books at the same time. You’re an amazing person to be able to forge on while battling Cancer. God Bless. I’m putting Summerset Abbey on my TRL.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  43. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Just because, as you say, you only did what you had to do do that does not negate the fact that you are a brave warrior. Looking forward to reading your book.

  44. Congratulations on the new book and what an amazing accomplishment it is to have written your stories through such a tough time in your life.

  45. Teri, you are inspiring. I look forward to reading your book. I just wish I could get it in the Cook Islands. Have to wait till I fly to New Zealand or Australia.
    Love the cover.

  46. I really admire you TJ. being able to write through such an ordeal is very inspiring. Most people would just be paralyzed by fear, but writing is what pulled you through. You really are a strong woman, can’t wait to read your trilogy.
    Thanks Jane for introducing another great author. I am finishing Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio and I loved every word of it. What a great story that I probably would have never read if it wasn’t for you.
    Good luck on finishing your book 3. I am sure it will be done soon so you can take some time to rest before you start promoting The Good Daughter.

  47. What you learned were two amazing things. If it takes a life-altering illness to become aware of them, we should all be so lucky. Thank you for sharing.

  48. Wow… I am always so impressed when I hear about people who just got the job done when faced with adversity. Can’t wait to read Summerset Abbey!

  49. Wow, what an amazing woman and such an inspiring story. I can’t wait to read the books as I’m sure some of that strength of character has to be on the page. Thanks for this post—simply wonderful!

  50. What an inspirational story. To overcome the tragic new of the big “C” and fight through it is amazing enough, but to write through it is even more amazing. I live each day knowing that no matter what our personal struggles are there is always someone going through worse. My problems are nothing in comparison to others. Congratulations on your books and your hard fought battle. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others.

  51. Teri’s story is inspirational! I pre-ordered her book off Amazon (paperback….see? I have the Kindle but still like to actually “hold the book”!) haha Thank you for this blog, this morning! Very much needed on this deary Monday-morning-gray-in-Visalia day!! xoxo

  52. Thank you, Teri and Jane, for sharing this story. I have to say, it really makes me put it all in perspective. Can’t wait to read Sumerset Abbey.

  53. Teri: One of my daughter’s had to have radiation on her head. I watched her suffer through it, so I know it is not easy to go through. I think it is wonderful that your creativity went into high gear during your time of treatment and recovery. Congratulations on your novels. Jane: Thank you for the introducing us to Teri. I am certain I will enjoy reading her books.

  54. Thank you for sharing with us. I like your statement that our possessions will not remember us. I am glad that you have family and friends who helped you through your treatments. Wishing you continued recovery. Looking forward to checking out your books!

  55. Teri, God bless and be with you, you are a hero in my mind! Hope all your books fly off the shelves. I know I will look for them.

    Thanks again Jane for helping me find another good author.

  56. I would say WOW! It is amazing what a person can do when put to the test. In those times, you just keep going, with small goals, but they are sometimes some of the most memorabilia of your life. TJ you are a very strong person and have a wonderful support system.

    I haven’t read your books, but I will be adding them to my list.

    Jane – Congrats on the writing. I am looking forward to reading the next book. :-)

    Renae

  57. First your book cover is gorgeous! Second cancer is cancer. It’s never a easy thing no matter how long or short the treatments. My mom had breast cancer at age 56 about 11 years ago. Seems like ages ago sometimes. I drove her to 5 weeks of chemo. Shaved her head when her hair fell out and gave her daily shots in the back of her arm for months. It was really rough on her after her first chemo treatment. My best advice to her was this. Take it one minute at a time. One day at a time. Whatever it takes to get through to the other side. Once we both did that it was easier to deal with everything. It’s hard no matter what. It gets to a point you decide you just have to keep going and doing what needs to be done. You did that too. A very awesome accomplishment and really shows your spirit!

    Congrats on the book.

    Lisa B

  58. What an incredible story about the human spirit–your amazing determination, Teri! I think I know you from a writing loop, but it turns out I didn’t know you at all. Congratulations on your achievement. Well done!

  59. Thank you for sharing this story! As a cancer survivor (diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago at age 31), many people have told me that I am brave-but I’ve never seen it that way. I just did what I had to do to get the cancer the hell out of my body, and keep living my life. But, like you said, Teri, maybe that is what bravery is all about. Congratulations on everything you have achieved, and I look forward to reading your books!

  60. Thank you for sharing your story. You must be one strong woman to be able to overcome such a disease and write a book in the process. I definitely want to read your books. You are an inspiration to me!

  61. Thank you, Teri, for sharing your story. I have a friend who had a mastectomy last week. I tried to be there for her but I just didn’t know what to say. Everything I DID say came out sounding trivial or just WRONG. But she told me that she understood how I felt and that just being there was all she needed. I think she was being generous and she certainly didn’t need to console me… thanks for sharing your story.

  62. Teri~ Thanks for sharing your story! Just like Jane said, you are a warrior and an inspiration!
    Can’t wait to read your books! And I love the fact that you live in our hometown! :)

  63. Teri, you are beyond awesome! Congrats to you on not letting anything derail the realization of your dream! Thank you for sharing your insights. And Jane, thank you for your blog – I appreciate things I learn every time I visit. xxoo

  64. Wow, everyone, thanks so much for the kindness… words cannot express. And The contest above doesn’t specify what you will win when you enter my contest… so I am including it here!
    In celebration of the launch of Summerset Abbey, the first in a trilogy, Teri is holding a book lovers contest. And get this; the prize is your choice of one of the following-a Kindle Fire, A Nook HD, or a Kobo Vox!
    All you have to do to enter is preorder Summerset Abbey through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound or through your local independent bookstore and then forward the e-receipt to Teri (at)teribrownbooks.com. Contest runs from 1/3- 1/14. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on 1/15, the day Summerset Abbey comes out! Is that an awesome way to celebrate or what?
    (Sorry, US addresses only)

  65. I would say that was a pretty amazing prize! It sure would beat reading books on my iphone!

    I have always believed in the power of a positive attitude and out look in life. It will get you far and your body is more resilient. All the best to you!

  66. This is such an amazing, inspiring story. (Although it also makes me wonder why I haven’t been able to make my writing more of a priority in my life… sigh.)

  67. I love the cover of Summerset Abby…I would read the book just because of the cover. But mostly I love reading this kind of story. Thanks for the info.

  68. Loved hearing about Teri’s story and her inspiration for the book. The cover is amazing and I can’t wait to read this story. Thanks for introducing us to great authors, Jane:-)

  69. You are a strong woman and I am amazed that you could write while going through that. Some years back right after my RA diagnosis I got so bad that all I could do was drag myself up and make myself eat something. I can’t even imagine trying to accomplish anything at that point. So you should be very proud of yourself for knowing what needed to be done and doing it. I can’t wait to read your books.

  70. Teri- You are amazing beyond words! What a strong and inspirational woman you are! I am glad you are done with treatment and doing well.
    Can’t wait to read some of your books!

  71. Hi everybody,
    I’ve loved having Teri as a guest and know you’ll really enjoy her novel. Here are the names of the five winners –

    #94 Jackie W
    #32 Lyndee
    #25 Tonda Hargett
    #78 Renae
    #61 Carol L

    Please send me your mailing information in a private email and I’ll get prizes in the mail soon!
    Love to all!
    Jane

  72. Jane – I don’t have a favorite town but I do have a favorite driver ;-). My old boyfriend and I would take rides on the weekends without a destination in mind. We would drive for hours while he had one hand on my knee and the other on the wheel… We would talk, laugh and explore.

    I miss those drives dearly and the company!

    Krissy

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