Friday, May 27, 2022

The Lost Years on Social Media

It was very strange as I slowly peeled myself away from social media. It wasn't as if one day I decided to stop creating my world set by the algorithms of Facebook and Twitter. I found myself contemplating the efficacy of my words. Were my words really changing the hearts of people who read them? I would write a post and then ask myself, "Is the post really going to make a difference in this world, today?" Most of the time I found myself saying, no. So begun my disengagement with social media.

But in order to be fair and honest, I will have to admit I had a little push from the Universe. 

Back in 2016, I had just published Broken Girl and was ready to put my career in high-gear. Broken Girl was like nothing I had published before. It was a dark and gritty book. It was the one book that took the most out of me writing it, and yet, I believe it is my best work to date. 

Around that time my aunt contacted me, her health was starting to decline and she asked for my help.  She was 83 years old. She never married and didn't have any children. It was just her and her dog as she was slipping into the mild to moderate stage of Dementia. Now, if I knew then what I know now, there is a part of me that wonders if I would have taken such a massive role in her life. But, the truth is, she didn't have anyone else. Too many bridges burned, and all the people she called friends had all transcended before her. My aunt needed someone and I was the next in line.

Days sailed by, my career hobbled on, and the more dependent she became on me, the less time I had to spend working on my writing career. It was hard to log into Facebook and write positive posts blooming with inspirational words when I was drowning in a very hard, very lonely, and at times an overwhelming resentment-filled mental state of mind. 

I had my close friends and family to lean on, but when it came to logging into Facebook and searching for the virtual pats on the back or the warm and fuzzy love of swelling hearts or tear-filled emojis it fell pretty flat for me. Truthfully, I didn't want to be another broken voice in the sea of brokenness on Facebook. Quite frankly, I couldn't find enough gumption to post any words of inspiration while I was submerged in the anger and frustration of having my life hijacked by my aunt's illness. So, I posted sporadically until I pretty much stopped posting all together. 

At first, it was hard disconnecting from something that had become an addiction to me. Social media was my drug and the "thumbs-up" and comments became my hit. Facebook did exactly what it was designed to do, keep me coming back for more. Becoming addicted to social media was insidious, and fighting the addiction had become the uphill battle with my self-confidence.

I watched the writing world roll on without me. The fear of becoming irrelevant was real. Seeing my fellow authors publish and shine in the light of productivity was excruciating. Don't get me wrong, I wanted them to succeed. I loved these very talented and creative people. Yet, seeing them keep publishing and producing, signings and sales made me long for a different path. They were moving on and I was stuck in repetitive stories of yester-year and trauma.

Dementia is a bitch. It slowly steals the victims memory in the most cruel way. But it doesn't just take away memories, it confuses, and makes its victim scared. It tricks the mind into not eating, obliterates short-term memory and eventually riddles its host with paranoia and fear. So as my aunt worsened, I had to step into her life and take over more and more of her daily needs. Essentially, her life became mine. 

While I hoped the Meta-verse of Facebook missed me, it didn't. The personal vibe of Facebook was fickle, if I didn't interact with people, I simply got lost in the shuffling algorithm and irrelevancy became my new normal. It was like I fell off the face of the earth and nobody noticed. Book sales dried up and the people who validated me months early stopped. 

Suddenly, I found myself wondering if I'd ever publish again.  I kept writing when I could steal some time, and find the mental strength. In the last handful of years I finished a couple of manuscripts and tucked them away in folders on my computer. However, the thought of putting another book out became almost impossible. Self-doubt, the impossible pulse of judgment and the ever-growing cancel culture on social media had me wondering if people would accept any of the future books I would publish.

Then cue a world wide pandemic. My aunt survived eleven months of the new order of things. She continued to decline, falling and emergency room visits, arguments of who came to see her, the "good, sweet Gretchen" or the "terrible, ugly Gretchen." Her ability to recall was failing drastically, and I was worried on how I was going to get this very proud, independent woman to leave her house for a different normal. I promised myself that if she fell again, I was going to have to put her into a home and health care facility, basically a cold, small room in a house shared with others suffering from Dementia. I harbored a lot of guilt because I promised her that I would do everything in my power to keep her in her home. 

Truthfully, I wish I never promised anything of the sort. It's easy to come up with answers to promises when you didn't make them. Easy to write-off a woman who treated strangers better than her own flesh and blood. But I couldn't. I am not wired that way. I can't walk away from someone who needs me. I will exhaust all options, and do what I can to help, even if it was stripping every little morsel of peace from who I was. I wasn't mentally prepared for the amount of bandwidth she took. 

I felt weak minded, I felt like an impostor who, just months before told people to always seek love in the midst of hate. Truth is, I was filling with hate and anger. I was burned out and losing who I was. Then in December of 2020 I found my aunt on the floor, she had fallen again. This time she cracked her ribs. The world was in the deep throws of the Covid19 and my aunt had to go to the hospital, alone. I couldn't go with her. For the first time, she wouldn't have her advocate with her. 

A couple weeks went by, her mental state was deteriorating while trying to recuperate in the hospital. They said she was stable enough to go to a SNF, (Skilled Nursing Facility), the only problem, there weren't any beds available in the whole state of California. I did my research, looking for assisted living facilities, hoping that she'd be okay going from a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house where she lived alone, to a shared room in someone else's house with perfect strangers. It was depressing to see what places she could afford to go. This was going to be the place she'd finish out her life, and most of them were not what she was accustom to, living alone. 

A couple days later, the sky opened up and the social worker called me--they have a bed in a SNF a couple hours away. I agreed to send her there. As long as she was safe, I could keep looking for a place to move her into. I never told her that she wouldn't be going back to her home. She had lived alone for most of her life. Just auntie and her animals. 

When the mind is struggling to recall the past, you are given permission to tell little white lies. I kept telling her she'd be home soon. It wouldn't be long before she was reunited with her dog, Cinnamon. My husband and I went up to see her, took her pup and showed her through the window that we were keeping her dog safe. 

Well, all hell broke loose. She wasn't in the SNF for very long before I started getting recorded phone calls about the cases of Covid19 in the facility. The calls would tell me the amount of patients and workers who had the virus. Every day the numbers rose on the recorded call. "5 patients and 6 employees have tested positive for Covid19." It was so fast that I didn't even have time to react. Then, a call came in from the facility, I answered expecting to hear the recorded voice tell me how many more cases they had, but instead it was a real person, she was calling to tell me that my aunt had tested positive for the virus. My heart dropped. I failed her. I wasn't able to get her out of there in time. 

For most of her life, my aunt was a heavy smoker. She did quit twenty years ago, but her addiction had made its mark, it stole her ability to breathe on her own. She had COPD, and in the last ten years of her life, she was on oxygen 24/7. Now my fears were realized, she tested positive for Covid19. 

It was so hard, the guilt was almost unbearable. She was two hours away from me and I spent hours back and forth on the phone. I tried to talk to her, talk to the doctors, figure out how to make her comfortable, while fighting Covid19 with COPD amidst the cruelty of Dementia. They'd tell me she was doing well and sent her back to the SNF, then they'd call again and tell me she wasn't doing okay and that they took her back to the hospital. She was stable one minute and acute the next. 

On January 18th, 2021, she succumbed to the virus, less than three weeks in the facility. I was able to talk to her over the phone. Even though she was unconscious, even though she was never going to wake up again, I needed to tell her that I loved her and that she won't have to suffer any longer. She died that evening with no family around her, just the nurse who I spoke to who said she stayed with my aunt until she took her last breath. It's strange when people say, you come into this world alone, and you leave the same way. For my aunt, it was literally true. 

It's been over a year since she died. I still haven't really dealt with the trauma of taking care of someone with Dementia. And even though Covid19 took her sooner than Dementia, I will say, I believe Dementia would have been a much more painful way for her to transcend this life. She was a prideful woman who was extremely intelligent, and her mind had slipped away.

There are things I wish I would have told her. Stories I wish weren't lost in the abyss of nothingness, the black hole of Dementia. I wish family relationships could have been mended for the people left behind. 

Even sixteen months later, I'm still trying to figure out my place in this world; still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Every once in a while I start looking at how to get my groove back in the book world. Most days, I tell myself, it has sailed on. I keep the hope that one day, when that ship comes back around there will be room on it for me and my stories. 

With Love and Compassion,


Saturday, March 16, 2019

When the World Pushes Back...

tumultuous sea of dementia 

So many times we set up grand expectations which end up nose-diving to major disappointment. 

I didn't expect to be gone from publishing for three years. In the book world, it feels like a lifetime. The stress of where to jump back onto the merry-go-round of self-publishing is real. 

Have I been gone too long from the industry? Will readers be able to find me in an even more saturated market than three years ago? Has technology in publishing drastically changed? 

You see, I wasn't burned out on writing, I wasn't taking time because I hit a brick wall or experienced the dreaded writer's block. For the last three years, LIFE happened. 

Outside of who I am, the world around me decided to explode in crazy ways. Death and disease have ravaged some of my relationships, wreaked havoc on my writing career, and really messed with my emotional state of mind.  

For the last three years, I've been navigating an extremely complicated relationship with a family member who is afflicted with dementia. I wasn't prepared for the amount of mental energy that the disease consumes. Dementia is a bastard who slips through the cracks in a broken mind, laughs in your face while it insidiously steals your freedom. I'm still not prepared for the road to come. I don't know if tomorrow will be filled with the stress of accusations or the sadness of watching them struggle to remember what happened yesterday. I haven't seen the worst, and yet I can't even fathom what the worst will be. 

All I know is that I'm treading water in a tumultuous sea of dementia and my muscles are fatigued. I remind myself, it's not forever, and this too shall pass. It's the only words that seem to soothe the battered kid locked deep inside of me. 

Needless to say, I am writing. It's a slow process and it's discouraging that I can't dedicate hours and hours into the worlds I love to create. But I am doing what I can. So don't give up on this ol' gal! 


Thursday, March 31, 2016


by Gretchen de la O
A standalone Contemporary Romance
Friday, April 29th, 2016
Perfect Pear Creative Covers (Sommer Stein)

My name is ROSE NEWTON, and I sell my body on the streets of San Francisco. I’m what you call society's dirty little secret. On the outside, I'm in control, the woman who makes her own rules and gives nothing away for free. Inside, I’m broken and numb. Torn and shattered by my past, my life is nothing more than the lost fragments of what's left of me.

SHANE WEST represents everything that’s foreign to me. He’s brave, kind, funny, gorgeous and persistent. When fate brings us face to face, an undeniable attraction blazes between us. He becomes the constant I've never had and the only man I'll ever trust.

There is nothing simple about falling in love when you're keeping a secret like mine.

Time is bending my trust, breaking me before he brushes the back of his fingers against my lips. His touch startles me at first, but tracing his fingers on the outside curve of my lower lip soothes me.

“What if I can’t trust?” I ask in a hushed whisper.

“You can,” he answers, dragging his fingers along the outline of my jaw and down across my collarbone.

“What if it’s not in me?” I ask, still blindfolded and feet tangle in the sheet.

“You have everything you’ll ever need, right here.” he answers rubbing the tips of his fingers in circles between my breasts. My heart reaches for his touch as it leaps and crashes against my chest.

“You don’t understand, Mister, I need to have a sense of control.”

“Rosebud, control is an illusion, it’s a decision to trust a certain outcome. All you have to do is trust me and you’ll have all the control you need.”

I want his words to soothe me, and his calm, direct voice to caress the strength within me cowering at letting go of my scars. I want to trust him. I crave to taste the freedom he wants to give me. I want him to save me from a future tucked under cracked sidewalks, cold gutters and from ever having to fuck another man for a penance. I try and convince myself that he wants to keep me off the streets.

Gretchen de la O, is the mother of three amazing young men, the wife of Mr. Big O, and the writer of romantically unique stories. A proclaimed positive energy infuser by people who know her, when Gretchen isn’t writing, parenting or teaching children computers, you will find her talking to people about discovering their creative process. Gretchen is a firm believer that anything is possible if you set your mind to it; and what you expect out of life, always finds a way of showing up. Want to be inspired, follow her inspirational posts on her Facebook page.

Gretchen released her first novel, Almost Eighteen in September of 2011,  the first in a three book new adult student/teacher romance, The Wilson Mooney Series. In November of 2012, she followed with book two, Eighteen at Last, and concluded the series with Beyond Eighteen in October, 2013. Her Fourth novel, PROTOTYPE, a romantic suspense, first book in the Possession Series was released in October 2014. BROKEN GIRL, Gretchen’s fifth novel, is a standalone contemporary romance slated to be released April 29th, 2016. Please visit Gretchen at



Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Wilson Mooney Box Set with Additional Prequel, MAX is LIVE!


See what some have said about the Wilson Mooney Series!

"I give a lot of credit to Ms. de la O, she handled a sticky subject matter in a tasteful and yummy way. Max --- where was he student teaching when I was in high school? The drama, the desire, the secrets, the friends, the family. It all works its way into a great series that I want more and more." ~Amazon Customer

"From the very beginning of this series, I knew that Gretchen de la O had given us a gem. What I hadn't expected was the respectful, slow and magical transition from YA to more Adult. You literally feel like you are growing up with Wilson Mooney, our heroine of the series."
 ~ Desiree

"Loved Wilson and Max.. Gretchen has a way with her words that lets you live through the character.. She brings the story to life. I felt the pain, sorrows and joys for each character."
 ~ Summertime Book Blog 

THE WILSON MOONEY BOX SET includes all 3 full length novels in the series plus, MAX, A WILSON MOONEY PREQUEL, bonus material only available in the box set. Experience this steamy yet delicate, heart breaking yet healing collection of stories that will work Max Goldstein and Wilson Mooney into your hearts forever. A sexy New Adult teacher-student romance that overcomes the taboo and embodies the purest of intentions, even in the sexiest of moments.

Max Goldstein has always been expected to take over his family’s business. But, when a tragedy strikes in his sophomore year at the University of Michigan, he decides to choose his passion over the expectations of others. When he accepts a teaching job of his dreams in California, Max has no idea his world is about to change forever when Wilson Mooney walks into his classroom.

Priced at $3.99 you get 3 full length novels & MAX, A Prequel for less than $1 a book!


THE WILSON MOONEY BOX SET is only available electronically. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What's Up With the Big O in 2015?

Hi All, 

I hope you're enjoying your summer! I'm spending part of this summer hunkering down to finish writing BROKEN GIRL, (book 1 in the series).

While I do have the summer off from work, (yeah, I work outside of writing) I have 3 amazingly awesome boys who are also home for the summer. Between the boys, hubs, animals, books, extended family and chores, I'm hoping to spend some time diving into some other writing projects that are rumbling around in my head ... What's that saying?  A woman's work is never done! Well, neither is an authors! 

I live to create, and in some sense, create to live!  

*****BIG O's NEWS FLASH!****

I wanted to let you know I've lowered the price of PROTOTYPE to $2.99 and decided to register it for the KindleUnlimited program. For those of you who aren't familiar, KindleUnlimited is a monthly subscription service Amazon offers where you can read books for FREE! If you don't belong, you can still get the ebook through



Shhhh.... You're first to know! 

The WILSON MOONEY series is going to be available in a boxset! That's right, all three ebooks bundled, with a prequel titled, MAX.  <---That's right! A prequel before ALMOST EIGHTEEN! This story will ONLY be available in the boxset, so if you want to find out HIS story, make sure you check your inboxes for the news! My goal is to release it the end of July, beginning of August. Price TBD. 

ALSO, as 2015 rolls toward a close, I wanted to tell you where you can find me!  I have 2 signings left for 2015! 


August 8th, 2015. San Francisco, CA.

November 7th, 2015. Philadelphia, PA.

I look forward to seeing you! 

With love and gratitude!

Gretchen de la O
    "The Big O"

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year and Look, a Fan Made Book Trailer for Prototype!

Hey friends, Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and sane holiday! I wanted to put this for those of you who haven't had a chance to see this fan made book trailer for PROTOTYPE!  I think she did an amazing job really capturing the story! Here's to a very prosperous and amazing 2015!!!


P.S. I hope you read it, and fall in love with it, and tell all your reading buddies about it ... PROTOTYPE, book one in the POSSESSION SERIES! 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Prototype is LIVE in ALL PLATFORMS!!

PROTOTYPE is available and waiting for you to one click! Check it out today! <3

An Adult Romantic Suspense with just a hint of sci-fi.

PROTOTYPE, where romance collides with suspense...

Lauren Matthews believes she will be dead in seven days. She’s done witnessing others around her meeting that exact fate. With the device Marshall Grayson installed in her head as the only golden thread linking them, Lauren is left with no choice but to believe it is her destiny to die.
Unable to see her professional world in Washington DC is about to be ruled by her personal life in San Francisco, Lauren’s two realities collide when Grayson Industries’ influential financier, Alejandro Fernandez, infuses himself into her life. Enchanted by Alejandro’s old world charm and modern sensitivity, Lauren becomes tangled in a web of sex, love, deceit, and murder. She struggles to find a balance between self-preservation and ethical responsibility.
With the full scope of the prototype slowly possessing her every thought, she truly understands―her life is not her own. Will Alejandro’s love be enough to reawaken her soul and change her destiny?


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