Ramona Richards

Ramona Richards started making stuff up at three, writing it down at seven, and selling it at eighteen. She’s been annoying editors ever since, which is probably why she became one. Twenty-five years later, she’s edited more than 350 publications, including novels, CD-ROMs, magazines, non-fiction, children’s books, Bibles, and study guides. Ramona has worked with such publishers as Thomas Nelson, Barbour, Howard, Harlequin, Ideals, and many others. The author of eight books, she’s now the fiction editor for Abingdon Press. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves living in the ongoing street party that is Nashville.

Track Changes

We Plan; God Laughs

You may have noticed I didn’t have a column up for December. There’s a pretty good reason for it.

Oh, I had such amazing plans for December. I was in the middle of a tremendous project at work, and the details were wrapping up. I needed to finish a book and handle the last three classes of a course I taught on Thursday nights. Both of those would be finished by December 15. I had vacation time built up, so I was going to take a real vacation the last ten days of the year—the first real vacation I’ve taken in twenty years.

On November 29, I was a guest blogger at Seekerville, and I opened the Abingdon door to queries from Seekerville readers for one week.

By the end of the day, I’d received more than fifty queries. I answered as many as I could, thinking I could send yes or no answers to everyone fairly quickly. December would be busy but fruitful, with a nice reward at the end.

God had other plans.

On November 30, I woke up, feeling a little woozy. A strange feeling, to say the least. Then I tried to stand up.

To describe the next hour as “violent” would be an understatement. When I stood up, the room whirled around me as if I’d stepped into a tornado. I hit the floor, screaming, since the pain in my head bore a remarkable resemblance to a blow from a hammer . . . from the inside. I scrambled back up the side of the bed and threw myself on it, burying my face in the pillow.

After a long few minutes of begging it to stop, the whirling did. The pain did not. Medicine. I needed medicine. Taking a deep breath, I stood up.

The spinning began again, but at least I knew what I was up against. I bounced from wall to door to cabinet. Fortunately, I keep a glass of water on the counter overnight. I swallowed a handful of pain meds and headed back to bed.

Didn’t quite make it. I had forgotten the effect vertigo has on the stomach.

Over the next twenty-four hours, I tested it. There would be periods where the spinning would ease for maybe fifteen to thirty minutes. I’d pop online and e-mail my boss. I moved like a snail through the rooms, since any sudden movement triggered another episode. I would be online, then retreat to my bed like a limp noodle.

I tried to eat only one more time, with the same vicious results. Even water would trigger the response. After more than twenty-four hours, I started to get really worried.

I’m diabetic. Going without food . . . not a good idea. Finally, I texted a friend and asked her to take me to the ER. The verdict: peripheral inner-ear vertigo and dehydration. They gave me Phenergan, valium, benedryl, insulin, and something for pain. And after all those drugs were in my system, they asked me if I could walk.

Uh, no. Then they told me that this could last from two weeks to three months. Oh, and, by the way, you can’t drive.

I have a life! Things to do! Work! I’m in the middle of fifteen contracts! A book! Class! I can’t just stop!

Just shoot me now.

Okay, so the first step was to take short-term disability leave. Talk to the work folks about what’s not going to happen, who can fill in gaps. Next, stock up on food and meds. Find a sub for the classes.

Slowly but surely, I’ve been healing. I have good days and bad, although only a couple were akin to those first two days of ugliness. On good days, there’s an ache in my head that never goes away and I’m careful not to move suddenly, but I’m reasonably functional. On bad days, the room spins unexpectedly, and if I’m in motion, I’ll careen into the wall. I sit in the recliner and try not to move an inch except when necessary.

On good days, I can work on the computer enough to answer a few e-mails and stay in touch. But I don’t make a lot of decisions, as the brain is still a bit foggy, but I do okay in terms of ongoing projects that already have a plan in place. I did have enough good days to be able to finish the book. As I type this, I have another week of leave to wait out. I have more good days than bad.

The folks at Abingdon have been awesome. No pressure, and they’re doing as much as they can to help me out. Major thanks to Pamela Clements, Lisa Huntley, Linda Yeh, Laurene Martin, and Mary Johannes for picking up the pieces.

Thanks and praises also go to my friends Marcheta, Sharon, and Sunny, who carried me places and bought me stuff. I can’t every thank you enough for getting me through this. I owe you all big-time!

To the Seekerville writers: The count is now up to around two hundred queries in the inbox, and trust me, you don’t want me to make a decision on your queries right now. Give me until later in January. To my Thursday night students: my apologies. I only wish there was some way to make it up to you.

If you’re still with me at this point, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with writing.

Everything, my friend.

If God gives you something to do, He’ll give you a way to do it. If He allows a trial to come into your life, He’ll give you a way through it.

Doesn’t matter if it’s life. Or writing. Or both.

’Cause in the long run, it ain’t about you. It’s about Him.