Cover Art/Design Contest ENDS MAY 28, 2014

Looking for a graphic designer or artist to come up with cover design for my book, “How I Got a Horse Out of a Toilet”. I’m holding a CONTEST for the cover design. The winner (chosen by ME) will get their design PUBLISHED as my cover (with credit to the artist) AND 5% of NET proceeds of the FIRST 6 MONTHS OF PUBLICATION! Multiple entries permitted, no entry fee. Currently, no deadline, but will be announced here with a couple months lead time (at least 2). Check back frequently!

for info on book cover design, go here:

examples of winning design:



interesting difference in e-book design:


This is my own rendition:



4 Comments on Cover Art/Design Contest ENDS MAY 28, 2014

  1. Lisa Overcash says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Candice is wonderful at graphic design and artistic type projects. You could talk to her about what you would like and then give her some time to work on a few ideas…..


  2. terri says:

    Can you tell me what your thoughts and ideas are/motivation behind your chosen title? It helps to understand the concepts involved and what the writer wants to portray, in order to get a really good design.

    • Michelle B. says:

      Sure! Thanks for asking. If you read this excerpt from my piece “How I Got a Horse Out of a Toilet” it may answer the questions you have. I literally got a horse after having a plumbing issue, fulfilling a lifelong dream:

      “One night, I woke up and had to use the bathroom. I used the last of the toilet paper roll and in the dark, in my compulsive way, I decided I had to change it right then. I flushed the toilet and immediately turned to remove the roll from the spindle. The spring action of the spindle caused me to fumble and drop it into the toilet as it was flushing. I quickly tried to fish around for the spindle, to no avail. Being the middle of the night, I decided to deal with it when morning came, gave up and went back to bed.

      The following morning, I used the bathroom with no problems. “Maybe there won’t be any,” I thought naively, well-accustomed to my own luck (or lack thereof).

      When I got home from work that evening, however, it was another story. The toilet would not flush! I didn’t know until then that people in small towns often don’t work after 5:00 PM. After making about a half-a-dozen calls to recalcitrant local plumbers, I now know better! What was I going to do? I only had one bathroom. I really didn’t think I could make it until the next day when I got back to work without using the bathroom. I considered going in to the hospital, which was right across the street, to use theirs but that really wasn’t an appealing option. What the hell could I do? Then I remembered Joe.

      I did not know his home phone number, nor what time his business closed, but I had no choice but to try to call him at work. To my surprise, he answered. I had never said more than “hi” to him before, but I quickly introduced myself and explained my situation; he said he would make some calls and call me back. A few minutes later the phone rang. Joe had had no more luck than I had with the local plumbers, but said one of his employees’ uncles was a plumber who was willing to come out and take a look at my problem. Then he added, “They just attended a family members’ funeral”, but assured me they were still willing to come take a look. He also said he would stop by when he got out of work, as he had to pick up a few parts that they suggested they might need.

      About 45 minutes later, everyone showed up at my house and Joe’s employee and his uncle started working on the toilet. After a few hours work, and taking the toilet out to my yard and turning it upside down, they never did find the spindle. However, the toilet now flushed. Meanwhile, Joe and I had talked the entire time getting to know each other better. We had quite a bit in common. He had mentioned that his girls enjoyed horseback riding and owned their own horses. I then related my own love and experience of horses. He suggested that I accompany him to the barn sometime. Not long after, I did.

      Watching the girls ride and meeting their instructor, Sarah, was all it took for me to be bitten by the horse-bug again. I wanted a horse! I had always wanted a horse; I had just forgotten and/or given up on that dream. By the end of August, though, I had found a suitable horse, test-driven and purchased him. Then Sarah took me supply-shopping and my cousin shipped me her used saddle from Syracuse. My childhood dream had come true!

      Over the next 18 months, I made a point of going to the barn and riding 2-3 times per week. My multiple sclerosis had been getting steadily worse, but the riding helped. In fact though I only fell off the horse twice, the first time it knocked the wind out of me but also made a noticeable improvement in my walking! Unfortunately, this was short-lived.”

      Please feel free to contact me with any other questions or to elucidate anything that’s not clear. Thanks again!

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How I Got a Horse Out of a Toilet

4 Comments on How I Got a Horse Out of a Toilet

  1. Trish says:

    absolutely incredible read.. I identified with most of what you wrote… I too believe everything happens for a reason and I hold on until I can’t hold anymore.. many things in common here.. thank you for sharing..

  2. kathy ekdahl says:

    this was all a wonderful read… sharing experiences and allowing others to walk with you is so important. allowing us into your life is a gift and I firmly believe that you have graciously gifted everyone who has walked in your words.. Wonderful…

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Cup Half-full

Please post your personal miracles here. We need to balance the pessimists of the world! I know I’m not the only one….

Meanwhile, check out this site:

“A woman has got to love a bad man once or twice in her life, to be thankful for a good one”
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


3 Comments on Cup Half-full

  1. Judi Kling says:

    It’s better than cancer…

    We had a house-warming party this weekend. I was tempted to call it a “nosy-neighbor” party, as it started out as a time for our wonderful Lane neighbors to see the house that enticed us away from them, and has given my husband the lowest stress level he’s had in ten years. But then Mark invited his co-workers and I thought they might be offended being called nosy, so it just became an Open House.

    One of Mark’s friends stopped by several hours before the start of the party to visit. This gentleman is a cancer-lottery-winner – just hitting his 5-year NED. His odds of beating his cancer were slim. He went through hell with his treatments. As Mark used to tell me of his friend’s time in the hospital, it reminded me of Lance Armstrong’s odds and struggle. It was long and arduous. I’m always both happy and sad when someone hits the cancer NED jackpot. It’s so difficult to do with many cancers, that you are thrilled when someone beats back the beast. But at the same time, it makes me terribly sad that Jim wasn’t so lucky. Mark’s friend still struggles with various ailments, and he was sharing with us that he had limited motion in his knee. You can see it pains him and, despite his best efforts, is a hindrance to what he wants to do. At the end of our conversation, he summed up “But it’s better than cancer.” Yes indeed.

    I used to have aches and pains and think “I made it through childbirth. This is nothing.” Now my measuring stick is cancer. Nothing that happens to me is as bad as Jim’s cancer. No fear I have comes anywhere close to the fear of dying and leaving your spouse and small children alone. No pain I have running is anywhere close to the pain Jim struggled with during treatment and then palliative care. My yardstick these days is much longer than 36 inches.

    I am truly thankful for what I have in life. And all the shit that inevitably comes our way day-to-day? Mark’s friend said it best “It’s better than cancer.”

    • Michelle B. says:

      Perfect example, Judi! My heart breaks for you every single time I think about Jim; I’m so sorry. I hope for the best for your friend.

  2. Michelle B. says:

    OK, there have been several miracles in my life. Sometimes I don’t see them for quite some time… First, there was the divorce. That got the ball rolling, but I would never have believed it at the time.

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Cup Half-empty

Please use this page to air your bad-life stories. Things can always be worse and I’d like to collect stories that everyone can read and SEE that their troubles aren’t so bad, compared to the next guy!

5 Comments on Cup Half-empty

  1. Right now, my worse grip might be that my writing my memoir (My Mother’s Money) can be pretty painful. But, as I complete chapters, I feel that my story might help someone else. My memoir-writing partner actually suggested I include an appendix with advice for others experiencing my situation.

    What’s your greatest challenge right now, Michelle?

  2. Michelle B. says:

    Tell me your gripes. I care!

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Michelle Chronology

  • 1965 — Born February 24,  in Buffalo, New York.

  • 1965 – 1989 — Lived in Henrietta, NY  for 24 years (in the same house), until marriage.
  • 1983 — Graduated high school. Began college at  SUNY University at Buffalo.
  • 1988 — Graduated college, Bachelor of Science, Medical Technology.
  • 1989 — Purchased first house with then-fiance, in Hamlin, NY. Won the National Kidney Foundation Touch-A-Thon. Got married.
  • 1990 — Mojo was born, September 9.
  • 1991 — Sold first house and purchased second, back in Henrietta with husband and Mojo. Eight months later, split from husband.
  • 1992 — Obtained a divorce. Retained house and Mojo. Recruited roommates.
  • 1993 — Applied for graduate school, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Pathologists’ Assistant program. Was accepted. Moved to Maryland. Rented house to tenants.
  • 1994 — Tingling left hand. Saw neurologist; was admitted to hospital for steroids.
  • 1995 — Numb face, shoulder. Returned to neurologist who diagnosed multiple sclerosis. Graduated from UMAB, Master of Science, Pathologists’ Assistant. Moved to Buffalo for job. Sold Henrietta house.
  • 1996 — Found birthmother. Purchased third house, in North Tonawanda, NY. Joined Mensa.
  • 2000 — Sold NY house. Purchased fourth house, in Winston-Salem, NC. Moved to North Carolina with Mojo and some friends. Worked three jobs to make ends meet.
  • 2001 — Made full-time night shift supervisor in dermatopathology lab. Began using cane, occasionally. Left derm-path job after several months for day-job in southern Virginia.
  • 2002 — Mom died of cancer.
  • 2003 — Dad died of broken heart. Bought horse. Sold NC house to co-owners.
  • 2004 — Bought fifth house, in Virginia. Euthanized Mojo. Started talking about writing memoir titled, “How I Got a Horse Out of a Toilet.”
  • 2005 — Began using cane full-time.
  • 2005-2008 — Left Virginia for travel/temp jobs with medical staffing agencies. Traveled to Rochester, NY; Marshfield, WI; Winston-Salem, NC; Las Cruces, NM; Palo Alto, CA; Boston, MA; Medford, OR; Chattanooga, TN; Mountain View, CA; and Fayetteville, NC.
  • 2006 — Sold horse. Sold VA house.
  • 2007 — Purchased sixth home, in Durham, NC (townhouse).
  • 2008 — Began using walker instead of cane. Stopped working and applied for Social Security Disability.
  • 2009 — Approved for SSD. Adopted Dora, a mixed-breed (part-Maine Coon) cat.
  • 2010 — Friend mentioned memoir class. Immediately joined. Started writing memoir.
  • 2011 — Still writing. Developed web site, with help from Steve (thanks!).

4 Comments on Michelle Chronology

  1. Reid Hart says:

    Hey buddy! I would love to hear for you!! Give me a shout sometime!!
    Love always,

  2. Norrie says:

    Wow I always knew you were talented and smart. Keep up the good work.

  3. Maurice says:

    I’m really proud of you and glad we got to share some good memories at FMC in the lab!

  4. Sue Carney-Ackerman says:

    I’m proud to know you Michelle !! Keep this up…….i’m hooked.

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About Michelle

I am an adopted, multiple sclerosis-suffering, card-carrying Mensa member with the perspective that life is a roller coaster ride and miracles can and do happen. And I have a huge sweet tooth (see photo).

Mine is a melding of a Cinderella story with The Little Engine That Could. It is a tale of how, despite everything, I always emerge smelling like a rose—or at least, I resculpt the pile of shit I’m in to look like a rose. I like to think of myself as a phoenix, constantly burning up then rising from the ashes… In my story, I conquer all of the obstacles I face with grace and humor (eventually) and using the inevitable wisdom I gain, forge ahead regardless of the stumbling blocks thrown in my path. On my journey I learn a lot about myself, as well as the human condition. Like my own personal “Behind the Music” episode, “How I Got a Horse Out of a Toilet” is a collection of true stories from my life, both the good and the not-so-good. It is a collection of my personal trials and tribulations, victories and defeats, and miracles I’ve witnessed on the way….

When I look back, sometimes I’m dismayed and frustrated by things I can’t do today that I could do years ago (or even yesterday). I then consider how much I’ve lived through and what a strong person I have turned out to be. Conversely, I’m troubled to look ahead too far, scared of what I might see in the future. Ultimately, I’m impressed by the strength I never knew I had and I know, no matter what the future holds, I can handle it. If anything, MS has made me better (in ways that matter) — perhaps to compensate for the physical losses I’ve suffered. I’ve always been a strong person. Maybe I had to become bodily weakened, physically disabled, to strengthen my soul’s mental, spiritual and psychological senses. I had to learn it’s OK to ask for help, that it doesn’t mean I’m weak; it’s actually a strength. I’ve learned never to take ANYTHING for granted; you never really miss something ’til it’s gone.

I’ve learned to (and HOW to) be my own advocate, when I frequently used to let people take advantage (I never felt like I deserved more than that). I’m closer to knowing, and asking for, what I want and need. Certainly, these improvements are in varying stages of development; I don’t think one ever perfects them, but at least they’re now in play.

I’m not easy to partner with (whether it’s for friendship or romance, I tend to be pretty challenging as a matter of fact), but life with me is always worth every struggle and so is riding shotgun with me. Giving up on things or people (or myself) is very hard for me. I hold on like a Titanic survivor to a lifeboat and only let go when they are pried from my cold, numb grasp.

I believe everything happens for a reason, exactly the way it is supposed to. If we can’t find our reason, we are merely players in other peoples’ reasons. Yes, you could call me lucky, despite my illness. In fact, I often liken it to winning a lottery of sorts. MS has opened doors for me that I wouldn’t have even been aware of without it. Not many people can say they’ve accomplished one of their dreams, let alone several, like I can.  But not many are willing to make the sacrifices required to do so, like I have.

I’d like to invite you to accompany me on some of my most remarkable journeys. I only ask that you comment and critique. One day I will take everything, edit as YOU suggest, apply some order to the chaos of these stories (ALL TRUE!) and pursue publication. I thank you for your attention and time.

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
– Albert Einstein 

Please invite your friends!

24 Comments on About Michelle

  1. Mary Beth Whatford says:

    I love you Michelle! I think that you are such an amazing person!

  2. Craig Gorham says:

    Michelle, I loved your story of your life travels…Good luck to you and thanks for sharing..God Bless..


  3. Bryon says:

    Wow, great story thanks for sharing.

  4. Natasha O says:

    Hi Michelle:

    Your story of strength, humor, and talents will take you to success.

    I will save your website and hope to meet you in my travels.

    Natasha O.
    Author of Airing Grandma’s Laundry and other hush hush family secrets

  5. Michelle B. says:

    Thank you, everyone! I really appreciate all of your time and comments!

  6. Mary Beth says:

    Thanks for sharing yourself and your writing. As we talked about the other day, you are an inspiration to me and to many others. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!

  7. Rob Kase says:

    Hey Michelle,
    Been reading these stories off and on,when time permits.I believe you’ve found a calling in the writing department.As i read some of the older stories,i recalled alot of the facts you’ve stated(wedding,marriage to Tom stuff)Keep writing and i will keep reading.Been awhile since we spoken,but you’re not forgotten,keep up the good work and good luck in all you’re endeavors.

  8. kim burns says:

    I enjoy reading about your amazing life thanks for sharing.

  9. Kriston Vardiman says:

    Hey Michelle I’m checking out your awesome webisite. Keep it up I’m enjoying :)

  10. Maurice says:

    Happy Birthday Michelle! I hope your having a great day! I really like your website too.. I’m proud of you, keep up the great work!


  11. Perita says:

    Happy Birthday, Again! Your website and your “About Michelle” are awesome. Although I know a few of the stories, well one or two, I am eager to immerse myself in your life,as you have taken the proverbial lemons and made lemonade. Blessings!

  12. Perita says:

    Girlfriend! Happy Birthday, Again! The site and your “About Michelle” are awesome but of course, what else could it be…you’ve taken the proverbial lemons and made lemonade. I am so happy and excited for you. And although I know a few of the stories-well, one or two, I look forward to immersing myself into your life and the sometimes quirkiness that you employ to tell your story. Love it and love you, You go girl!!

  13. Mae says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Wow, great website! Beautifully written introduction! I think your writings are very inspirational. Looking forward to following you.


  14. Steve W. says:

    You never cease to amaze me. I enjoyed reading your website and I will continue to follow your amazing life. Love, Steve

  15. Ethan says:

    Happy birthday Michelle! Your strength and determination is inspirational!

  16. Tracey DiPrimo says:

    I have bookmarked your page, added it to my favorites! Please keep us posted on FB when you have added here : ) Keep it coming girl friend, you have a gift!

  17. Kelly says:

    I’m looking forward to reading more! Very well written. I’m very excited for you as you embark on this project!

  18. Carol Long says:

    Happy Birthday, Michelle!! This is a beautiful site! You did a great job. Way to go girl! Bless yore heart!

  19. HM Paige says:

    Thanks for sharing Michelle!! Looking forward to reading more!! BTW – Also ‘jumped’ to Rita’s site as well ~ Very interesting!! Opening a new experience for me……and my life…..

    :o) HM

  20. Hey Michelle,
    Great website…love it…and the colors! This is going to be awesome! Your writing is amazing and inspiring…look forward to seeing more…and the final product. You have always been a strong person, someone I admire, and a great friend. I am one of your biggest fans….you go girl! ttys. Take care! xoxo

    • Michelle B. says:

      thanks, rit! love u 2, gf. like twins separated at birth who developed differently, but the same. :) you’re as strong as me and i admire you, as well. i could never do what you do! You are amazing! xxoo

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