Spotlight on Katie Hayoz

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Katie Hayoz was born in Racine, WI, the youngest of six kids. Originally, she wanted to become pope (for the awesome hat and fancy robes), but quickly realized reading was her true religion. Writing was always a hobby, but she decided to go at it seriously when she ended up in Geneva, Switzerland. Now she’s constantly at her laptop in the small apartment she shares with her husband, two daughters, and two fuzzy cats. She devours YA novels like she does popcorn and black licorice: quickly and in large quantities.

 Her latest offering, Untethered, is about sixteen-year-old Sylvie. Sylivie isn’t comfortable in her own skin.  In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it.  But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.

 Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever.  But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiraling out of control.

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Katie has allowed me to share the following excerpt from Untethered:

I’m stuck in this body. And I can’t get out.

I stare at my arms. These arms. They’re not mine, but I’m wearing them. They’re thick and muscular and covered in hair. The veins run like rope down the insides.

I squeeze my eyes shut for the hundredth time, hoping that when I open them, I’ll look down and see my own thin arms. My own delicate veins.

I don’t.

Oh, God, do I need help. I need help. Now.

I stand and my head spins. Grabbing onto the desk, I wait for the dizziness to pass. Wait for my head to clear. It doesn’t happen.

I look from the desk to the bed to the floor to the walls and see where I am. Clarity won’t come. Can’t come. Because I’m not where I’m supposed to be.

My eyes travel to the mirror and the face staring back in terror. “Please,” I say. The face says it back, but sloppily. Like a drunk. “Please,” I beg again. “Where are you?” This time the words feel formed. This time my lips, his lips, work the way I expect them to. Or close to it.

But there’s no response.

I lift a hand. Take a step. My movements are staccato. Jerky. Clumsy. Like electrodes are flexing these muscles. Not me. Everything about this body is heavy and long. I take another step forward and it’s smoother, but I’m not used to the bulk of this body.

And I don’t want to get used to it.

I want out. Of him. Of here.

Chapter One

August: Life As Usual (yeah, right)


“Rise and shine, Sylvie,” Dr. Hong says, his voice full of forced cheer. “PSG’s done. You have a couple hours of free time before the MSLT. Go crazy.” I open my eyes and the first thing I see is the bramble of silver hairs sticking out of his nose. Note to self: Buy Dr. Hong nose hair clippers for Christmas.

He helps me sit up and I look down at myself, feeling like something out of a horror movie. Sticky pads with wires dot my legs and chest. I can’t see the ones above shoulder height, but their glue makes my chin, forehead and the areas around my ears and eyes itch. A heavy ponytail of wires cascades down my back and leads to a machine on my left. Probes tickle my nostrils.

Doc rearranges things and unhooks me so I’m able to walk around. I almost thank him, but catch myself before I do. I’m here because he doesn’t believe me. He’s brought me here to prove himself right. As with all the other tests I’ve taken.

But so far, he hasn’t proven anything. It drives him nuts.

It drives me nuts, too.

I go to the window and open the blinds. Outside, the sun is bright. Another stifling summer day in Wisconsin. Outside, I know the air sticks to your skin like Saran-Wrap and feels thick as cotton wool. I can almost smell the fresh-cut grass, the acrid scent of blacktop burning.

But here, in the lab, it stinks like antiseptic. And it’s dry and cool. The perfect sleeping temperature. That’s what I’m here to do: sleep. It’s the last weekend before school starts, and while everyone else is tanning on the sand, I’m snoozing in a sleep lab.

Talk about social suicide.

Dr. Hong writes something on my chart. “I’m turning you over to the team,” he says. “I think these tests will help us figure it out, Sylvie.” When I don’t respond, he goes on. “You know, the cataplexy – that’s where you have the sudden loss of muscle tone.  Then the sleep paralysis… ” Here he looks up from the chart and directly into my eyes. “And, of course, the hallucinations.”

Of course. The hallucinations. I stare back at him without blinking. He breaks the gaze first and I feel a ridiculous sense of victory.

They’re not hallucinations.  That’s what bothers me the most, what scares me and pisses me off:  Dr. Hong insists it’s all make-believe.

“Your mother’s worried about you.” Dr. Hong’s voice is accusing. Like I’ve been giving my mom problems on purpose. If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s to make my mom worry more.

“There haven’t been any more incidents,” I say.

Dr. Hong narrows his dark eyes at me. I know he doesn’t believe me. He never believes me. I might actually be offended – if I were telling the truth.

“Well, that’s wonderful, then. But with all that’s going on–”

“I’m doing fine. Really.” No need for him to play shrink any longer.

He’s silent a moment. Then he says, “Okay, Sylvie.”

“Everything’s set for school?” It’s a yearly ritual. Tests, tests, and more tests. Then the paper that declares me fit to fester in the classrooms of my high school.

“Sure. We don’t need these results to know that. I’ll contact St. Anthony’s and let them know everything’s in order for your –” he picks up my chart and looks at it again “—junior year.” He sticks out his hand and I shake it unenthusiastically.

“I’m sure school will be a lot of fun. You must have the boys lined up.” His eyes crinkle as he tries a smile.

“The only boys lining up are those who are trying to get away,” I say.

It wasn’t a joke, but Dr. Hong looks at me and laughs loudly. He throws his head back and I get a direct view up his nostrils.

 Note to self: Forget the nose hair clippers. Buy the guy a weed whacker.

Untethered Button 300 x 225

You can find Katie on her website, at Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook. I want to note that Nathalia Suellen created the wonderful art for the cover. Pick up your copy of Untethered at Amazon. And while you’re at it – click the image above to find lots of interesting bloggers who are also participating in Katie’s book tour. 

You can find me in the usual place.

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Let that go.

You may recall that I  was recently inspired by the artwork of Niki Hare. These three pieces are the result. The words are based on a poem I wrote called Egg Salad. You can read it below.

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Egg Salad

It’s not normal
to cry over an egg salad sandwich.
You don’t need to tell me this.
I remember watching his tattoo
as he cracked five eggs,
each shell shattering itself
again and again
on the tips of  his fingers.
He wasn’t wearing a shirt.
I had red lipstick and cleavage,
both a little too much in the bright
light of the kitchen.
We were still drunk
with the power of youth,
and didn’t even suspect
the devastation to come.
There was no way to see
the son,
the daughter,
waiting quietly beneath his skin.
There was only my awareness
of his stark beauty and the fact
that I’d never before eaten
egg salad,
which astonished him
beyond measure.
This astonishment explains why
we two left the party,
boiled water in a stranger’s kitchen,
then spent the next seven years
loving each other almost to pieces.
In case you’re wondering –
no, it wouldn’t work out.
But every time I have egg salad
I see him there,and cry over those five dead chickens.
 

Eli Tynan: her story & help with charitable donations

Eli Tynan is an artist. She was kind enough to share her journey with me and today, I would like to share her story with you.
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 Eli focused on music during her younger years, although she has a rich background in art as well; her parents collected art and her grandmother was an artist. She was involved in musical endeavors throughout high school and graduated from university with a major in Music Education. During summers, she worked as a camp counselor for the Art Institute of Chicago. Something was stirring deep inside.
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 Eli founded and ran a private music school for children and then something life-changing happened. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. From this moment on, her focus was to minimize stress in her life. She took a 14 month break from her life, went to California, and began to focus on her art. She had a realization: the music in her life brought stress and consumed her precious energy while practicing her art was a source of relaxation and peace.
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 Art become healing and transformative in Eli’s life. It was clear that her passions had led her to this place in her life. While Eli had been creative in a musical sense and was comfortable with that, she needed to learn to embrace a vision of herself as an artist. This was a whole new kind of creativity!
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 She hung pieces of her art in her own home and began hearing positive feedback from friends and visitors. Slowly but surely, Eli morphed into an artist. She began interacting in artistic communities online, and talking with people about her art. Suddenly, she realized that she saw herself as an artist.
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When I asked her about the biggest artistic challenge she faces, she mentioned rejection. It’s a fact that artists must live with: not all art is for everyone.  She learned that the best way for her to create art was to focus on process and growth. She makes art for herself. It’s  crucial for her to have the freedom to express her true self in each of her pieces. She has learned to let go of perfectionism and often looks to this quote for inspiration:

“…what does exist, however, is a continuous series of imperfect moments, filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities for you interpret them, and do with them, as you please.” ~ Marc Chernoff

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Dealing with the business of being an artist is a challenge for Eli. Pricing, cataloging, and labeling are part and parcel of being an artist, but this isn’t her favorite part of the job. She tends to overanalyze at times which can make an unpleasant task even more difficult.

Recently, Eli was approached about donating art to a silent auction for charity. She wanted to participate, but was worried about how to assign a value to the art. She didn’t want to devalue the worth of her art or art within the community so she did her homework. This research helped her arrive at a solution which was fair for all.

She recommends this article to learn about how to participate in art fundraisers and this website to find donation guidelines.  Using these resources, Eli was able to draft her guidelines for charitable donations. You can find her version featured here, with other resources at my website, and are welcome to copy it and use as you see fit.

The art in this post was created by Eli Tynan. Click any piece to visit her FB page to see what other terrific things she is working on.

As always, you are invited to visit my website. I’d love to have you!