Just About Me

Man, How I Missed Me

I have some strong feelings about prescription medication right now. I’m taking more than I ever thought I would and I need each one. It sucks, but what can you do, right? Assuming your doctor is competent, he/she wouldn’t prescribe something unless you need it.

As much as I don’t like it, I take my meds and bitch about it in private. However, I don’t think I should keep my recent experience to myself. So I’m going to share. Before I start my rant, I want to state that every person can react differently to a medication. Just because someone has a bad experience doesn’t mean you will too. Don’t let what you read here scare you but do let it remind you to be cautious and vigilant.

I’ve been taking gabapentin since 2016. Six weeks after my back surgery (spinal fusion), my toes were suddenly on fire. Or they itched. Or both. I didn’t know exactly how to describe it. The doctor at a small clinic said peripheral neuropathy. She explained that some nerve damage was common after surgeries such as mine. It could be temporary or permanent. Guess which mine was?

She wrote a prescription and told me to notify my pain management (PM) doctor as he would be issuing every RX for it after this one. My PM guy agreed with the first doc’s assessment, and I added this new med to my pillbox.

At first, I was happy. The pain went away; of course, I was thrilled. I didn’t even have many side effects. I read everything I can find on adverse side effects because I’m often one of those .0000002 percenters who have weird reactions. Luckily I only had weird, extremely vivid dreams. I thought I got off easy.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was always a little forgetful, but I became what I referred to as ‘flighty.’ It got worse as the year went on and I started to worry. I was writing less and less because I couldn’t seem to concentrate for longer than ten minutes at a time. There were days when I had to think hard to remember if I’d taken a shower in the last day or two.

I was feeling down almost all the time. At the time, I refused to use the word depression because I didn’t think I needed to see a shrink. I was a dumbass. As long as I didn’t use that dirty word, I didn’t have to take it seriously.

Brain fog is how I would describe what happened in my head. Anger was my number one emotion. It’s easier to be pissed off than scared.

Dizziness and headaches were frequent. Anxiety reared its ugly head. I cried more often than I ever had. I was restless and at times, unsteady. You know when you get up too fast, and you get dizzy and unsteady? It was like that, but the unsteady would stay for a little while.

Soon I started feeling weak fairly often, and I had trouble sleeping. I was a mess. Most of these symptoms I ignored or just dealt with them. But there were a few that bothered me more.

My lack of concentration was a big deal. I couldn’t write. I could start but never get far. It seemed like I couldn’t access my muse. ‘She’ was locked up in solitary confinement, and I could only wave at her.

Anxiety always sucks but to feel it as often as I did, sometimes with no explanation was horrible. But the worse symptom was the one that started me on the road to fixing this situation: depression.

Everyone has times when they are down, and a lot of people go through depression at some point in their lives. For me, I never stay down for long. So feeling this way for at least a year was strange, wrong. Of course, I’d never been through chronic pain depression, which is what I thought my problem was.

I read all about what prolonged pain can do to a person, and I thought ‘oh crap, I guess I have to live with this.’ I was almost to the point of asking my doctor if there was anything that would help. If you know me, you know that’s a big step I never want to take.

One of the medications I take is Tramadol. It is a synthetic opioid. I react badly to hydrocodone and meds like it so Tramadol is all I can take. Since it’s a ‘big’ pain reliever, I became convinced it was the source of all my troubles.

A lot of the adverse reactions that could happen with its use described my life! Part of me was relieved. I believed I knew what the problem was. However, I was screwed! I couldn’t take anything else, and my only other option is another spinal fusion, which wouldn’t completely fix everything. Well, there is one more drug I can take, but it’s some serious shit. The kind of thing they give you in the hospital after surgery. NOT HAPPENING!

Around the time of all this research I realized I was overdue for a physical. I made a massive list of all the things I needed to talk to the doctor about and made an appointment. I told her all my symptoms and asked if she thought it was Tramadol and if she had any suggestions.

Her answer changed my life! She said: “Actually, I think it might be the gabapentin.”

I’m not exaggerating when I say I almost fell off the table/bed. She pulled up symptoms on her computer and read some off to me. My mind and my heart raced. I barely heard her when she said there were other medication options. She said to talk to my pain management guy and told me to have hope.

I did both.

The next day I was sitting in the PM doc’s office, describing my symptoms while the doctor nodded in agreement. They took me off gabapentin (slowly) and put me on Lyrica (also slowly). It sucked because my toes expressed their displeasure in the form of the weird itch/burn. I was warned that Lyrica could cause similar reactions, but there are a lot of patients who react badly to one of the two meds and fine to the other.

I’ve only been on the new med for a few weeks, but so far it’s incredible. For the first time in about a year, I feel like ME again. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until the symptoms went away.

Brain fog, what brain fog? Memory issues? Well, my memory always sucked, but it’s back to a reasonable level. Concentration? I haven’t gotten distracted once while writing this post, so I’d say I’m okay there. I even know when I’ve showered, lol.

I haven’t felt anything resembling depression. For the first time in a long time, I have hope. Last week I sat down to write three different days, and it worked. I wrote, a lot actually, on each of those days. I’m going to write (fiction) today as well. Hopefully, that writing won’t have as many compound sentences as this post, but words are words, and I’m happy for any that hit the page!

I have no way of knowing if the new medication will cause the same issues, but I figure I have a little time. The gabapentin didn’t wreck me until I’d taken it for two years. I hope Lyrica won’t destroy me too, but until (and if) I start having bad symptoms, I’m going to live my life and enjoy being me again.

Again, I want to state that everyone is different, and just because I had a bad time with these meds doesn’t mean you or your loved ones will. My step-dad and my Grandmother are both on gabapentin and aren’t reacting as I did. In fact, my step-dad has been taking it for much longer than I did and is fine.

I do want to stress vigilance and knowledge. Learn as much as you can about anything you put into your body. Don’t let what you read scare you, though. You may never have the possible side effects, but if you do, you’ll know to talk to your doctor about the medication.

Wish me luck as I get back to writing!


Sidenote: to give you an idea of how different life is for me now, this post is over 1400 words. Even two months ago I either wouldn’t be capable of writing this, or it would take me hours or days. This took about 20 minutes.


Photo by kgrkz on Unsplash

 

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! (A Saturday Rant)

I’m so frustrated! It’s hard to put into words, and you all know how I am, that means a LOT of words will follow.

Everyone I know would probably agree that I’m one their biggest cheerleaders. I’m mostly around writers, and I’m a strong believer of encouraging these other pen monkeys. I want them all to succeed. I try to make them feel like they are worth something.

I spent too many years with a foot on my neck being told subtly and not so subtly that I shouldn’t write, that I wasn’t good enough. That it wasn’t something, I should take seriously. Or that I would never succeed. Those people in my life eroded my confidence, exploited my fears, and generally frakked me up mentally. You can see why I don’t want others to fall victim to this.

So, I made it a practice to encourage other writers. To make them feel welcome among the various groups I’ve been a part of. To show them they are good enough. To make them feel a part of something important. Or more accurately, that they have the right to be a part of it.

I did this to the exclusion of myself.

Now, (actually for months) the writing group I go to is in the process of destroying itself. The group as a whole seems to be less important than Marsha ONE, Marsha TWO, Marsha THREE and so on. (This may sound minor but it is not. The details don’t matter here as I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

Each Marsha is so wrapped up in themselves or is busy being snide to each other, they don’t even see the Kristi’s of the group are suffering from the fallout.

I really want to indulge in some constructive selfishness, but I’m the only one in the group not allowed to do so. I’ve learned the hard way, if I, who is expected to stay in my role as cheerleader, express an opinion, I’ll lose friends or at least offend everyone for calling them out. Or I’ll be the final straw that breaks the group. Dammit ONE, TWO, and THREE, cut your shit!

The last time I said how I felt everyone acted like I’d grown horns then screamed it over a global intercom and shook my demon finger in their faces. No one could believe I had feelings other than encouragement for Them.

The other response is denial. It’s quite frustrating when someone tries to convince you your feelings are not legitimate because they refuse to see the problem. Pretending there is no issue doesn’t absolve one from being part of it Marsha.

Hell, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the outside for so long I don’t know what I would do if that changed. I know other people have felt this way, but that only meant they didn’t notice I’ve been going through it. So I keep my mouth shut about me and cheer-lead them. It’s strange to try to convince someone to not listen to those inner doubts when the same fears float around the top of my head.

I’m left with a new dilemma. Say something or stay home. Who am I kidding? I’ll keep going and keep repressing and keep getting angry. Then option two will bubble up, and I’ll have to spend all my time fixing all the Marshas’ hurt feelings at my audacity for having feelings!

Like most rants, this one rambles around and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to those reading it. However, getting the words out, especially on ‘paper’ helps me more than I can say.


 

Stop Bringing Me Down!

You know the type. The melancholy girl, the persecuted guy. That one person you know who spreads their own brand of misery wherever they go. Maybe you’re unlucky enough to have several of them in your life.

There are a few for me, and each one is unique, and I have to handle them differently. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting and potentially detrimental to me. What does that even mean?

Let me give you one of my examples. One of the biggest downers in my life, we’ll call her Sarah, has affected me in ways I am only now realizing. Between her negativity and ‘poor me’ attitude, she tapped into my overly developed empathy and brought me so low I’m not sure how to pull myself back out of the hole she dug for me.

I’ve barely written in months. For some reason, every time I sat down to work doubts, fears, and sadness overwhelmed me to the point of immobility. I stared at my pen or screen and did…nothing. Why should I? It was going to suck anyway. Why bother to try when I would fail in the end. Why move that pen when only junk would come out of it.

WHAT THE BLOODY HELL? That wasn’t me talking! Well, it was the old me, but not the me who wrote steadily for many years now. Nor the me who overcame those fears long ago. So who was it?

Sarah. Poor sad, despondent Sarah. The woman who enjoys living in her hell and spreads her misery in all directions. We all have some degree of empathy. For me, it’s so stupidly strong that I will start actually to feel the intense emotions of those around me. It sucks. I don’t see Sarah all that often, but it’s enough that her wretched aura got to me. For months.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming everything on the girl. I’m fully capable of screwing myself over with writing. However, in this case, she shares some of the blame. The truth is, she’s brought down my entire writing group. All of us have been down for months. Empathy is real people, and we have little control over it. She doesn’t mean to bring those around her down, but damn, she’s good at it. Just like I don’t intend to let it get to me.

Ironically, she complains when others do it to her. She once told a group I was in that she hates people exactly like her. HA!

Anyway, what can one do to guard against someone else affecting you in this way? Wish I knew. I do have some guesses though, things I will try to put into action.

Avoid the source of misery. Sometimes this is mostly impossible. What if it’s a close friend or family member? Unless you live with the person, you can limit the time you spend with them. No matter how you feel about someone, if they are toxic, you need to get away at least some of the time.

Tell them. Okay, this one is hard, and I won’t be doing this. It will only add to her problems. Guilt won’t change her anyway.

Encourage them. This won’t work. Not if they don’t want it to. Some people are content being down. It can be a comfortable alternative to effort and accountability. Still, if they are in your life, you probably care about them, and your good will might mean a lot. Besides, empathy works both ways. Maybe your positivity will fight against their opposing attitude.

Recognize what is happening and do whatever you can to counter it. Now that I know that part of my issue is others bringing me down I can tell my negative feelings to suck it! When I say to myself that writing is a waste of time because I’ll fail, I can remind myself those are not MY words. That aspect of myself is small and tied down. I’ll always have doubts, but they will not cripple me the way they did in the past.

Share your story. I’m well past some of the bad feelings I’ve picked up from others, but they are Not. So I can tell them what I went through and how I overcame these things. It may or may not help them, but at least the effort is there on my part.

If all else fails (in my case), use ear buds. Doesn’t make sense, right? Empathy is about feeling what others are feeling. However, loud music and putting my head down to write can distract me from what is being said and felt. Something is better than nothing when the misery in the air is loud.

What a rant! I’m not as angry as this sounds. I’m simply drained and tired of it all.

As much as I’ve been affected by some others in my life, what I choose to do is my responsibility. Like I said before, not every writing difficulty is 100% Sarah’s fault. But it’s important to acknowledge the effect she’s had on me. I advise you to do the same with the people in your life who did the same to you. If you don’t realize what’s happening, you can’t take steps.

Don’t feel guilty for not wanting to be brought down. Know it’s not your responsibility to fix someone, whether they want to be fixed or not. All you can control is you. I’m choosing to do something about the situation. I have enough roadblocks in my life as it is. I don’t need this one.

File it under self-care and convince yourself that taking care of you is the most important thing.


Nanowrimo 2018 Update (Late)

Well, I didn’t win Nanowrimo. I didn’t expect to get 50,000 words written in thirty days. What I wanted was to get back into a good almost daily writing habit. In this, I did win!

I don’t write on my husband’s midweek day off or on Saturdays (most of the time), but I always intended to the rest of the week. By participating in Nano, I’m back to doing just that. Even if it’s only 300 – 500 words, I’m writing regularly again.

Sometimes it sucks to sit and write, due to pain issues, but I do it anyway. Yes, I’ve had bad days where I accomplished a whole lot of nothing. But most days I work through the pain.

One thing that helps is some days I work on the class I’m taking, and other days it’s straight writing. Today was a little of both. I wrote about 300 words and finished an entire lesson (those usually take a few days). Maybe I would have written more if I hadn’t done the coursework, but both are important to me, so I’m satisfied with what I chose.

Tomorrow a new lesson will be available, so I’ll probably work mostly on it with a little writing sprinkled in. I also have to do grocery shopping, and it’s just as likely I’ll do less than I plan.

Friday there is the potential for terrible weather and horrid driving conditions. As the people in my town lose their minds and driving abilities with even the tiniest bit of precipitation on the ground, I’ll probably stay in and write all day. After the winter Library sale, that is. There is a chance of cancellation due to the weather, so I’ll be closely watching the news. If they do cancel, I’ll have no excuse not to write though.

I’m hoping to find good copies of urban fantasy series. It’s for research! If my research is fun, that’s not a problem, right?

This week, I’ll probably write on Saturday too. Something about cold weather brings out my muse. I hope it stays true to form. I am still trying to plot the story I’m working on. The middle is giving me trouble.

I wrote the beginning and some of the end during Nanowrimo, but new ideas changed my original loose plotting. Now I need to figure out how to get from point A to point B with many characters, using no straight lines.

I don’t do outlines unless you count using index cards and pinning them on a board an outline. I’m sure if I did do a ‘real’ outline I’d know exactly where I was going and writing the story would be a breeze. Except there would be no magic, no fun — no room for change or growth in the story.

Serious plotting works for some people but not me. I like to let my muse be as free as possible while giving it at least a direction to start with.

I’ll try to post an update on my efforts soon.


Sidenote: I use Grammarly, which I love, and it told me I ended two sentences with prepositions. 1. Sorry to anyone this annoys, but it’s the way I speak. This is just a blog post. If it were a story, I wouldn’t have ignored the suggestions to fix it. 2. I love this program because there are things I don’t notice myself doing while I’m trying to get the words out. So it’s good there is something to help me notice my flaws, such as the preposition thing, and my overuse of compound sentences, or certain words. In fact, it pointed out I used the word notice too much in this post as I typed this paragraph!

Also, I picked the image above because I hope the story I’m writing will feel this way when read.

Nanowrimo Update

Three thousand, six hundred fifty-two words. Sound low? It is if your goal is to win Nanowrimo. For me, this is a great number. It means I’m writing. I’ve put some words on paper almost every day since the beginning of the month.

Plus, I started out handwriting everything. I only switched to typing last night at my region’s first write-in. So I’m not doing so bad.

Winning would be great but that’s not my goal. My goal is to get back into a regular writing routine. Ideally, I would write at least four days a week. I don’t want to work on my husband’s days off because he has a weird work schedule and we get little time together except those two days a week.

On Saturday my muse thinks it’s time to crawl under a mental rock and hide. It frustrated me at first but now I enjoy having time to myself with no expectations. However, for the rest of this month, I plan to try to write every day, if only for thirty minutes to an hour. Chronic back pain will make it hard, but I if I don’t attempt it, I’ll be disappointed in myself.

I’m trying not to have a word count goal but my brain is stuck on half. If I can reach 25,000 words I’d probably be satisfied.  If I write about 900 words a day I’ll get there.

I’ll post another update on my progress soon.

Nanowrimo Prep and Story Update

For the first time in a while, I’m excited about Nanowrimo. October is prep month. Most years I prep about a week or two before November 1. This time it’s different. As mentioned in my last post, I am working on a writing class from Holly Lisle. My new idea for a story fits in nicely with the course. Even better, is the timing.

The class starts with coming up with an idea, which I already had, then slowly expanding on it. Characters first, then conflict. There are seeds of setting as well but I’m not focusing on that yet.

Where the timing is great is the lesson I’m on, and the next, is I’m starting to write scenes. I don’t know how many I’ll have by the time Nano starts but it will be a great launching point. This class is a long, slow one but it’s perfect for me while doing the crazy competition with myself in November!

At this point, I still don’t think I’ll win Nanowrimo but I know I’ll write more than I have in quite some time. Who knows, I may blow it out of the water.

What I have story wise right now is:

  • An interesting protagonist named Reagan
  • An antagonist (I’m deciding if he’s interesting)
  • An overall villain for the series
  • A best friend with a friendship ending secret
  • A coworker with an even bigger secret that affects the lives of entire races of supernatural beings
  • A father who is not a father
  • Ken the Wizard who is not what he seems
  • A child in danger
  • A bound ghost (which doesn’t look like it fits but does, unless I change my mind)

At least three of those people have memory issues, which is a theme across several stories. Even the ghost might not know who she is, but I have until book three to decide. Sounds excessive right? It is, but there is a good reason for it and it all goes back to one big gem. It’s not precisely a McGuffin. What a lie! In the first book, it kind of is, but only one person is actively trying the get it. No one else knows they need it.

None of the mentioned secrets are revealed in the first book. Right now, I have three strong story ideas so the series will be at least a trilogy. The first book is all about Reagan figuring out what she is and how to master her magic. Also, it’s about her dying her hair a lot. And fruit trees.

The second book is about the aftermath of the person from book one getting that gem. Secrets start coming out and relationships change. There is a lot of anger, recriminations, and lightning.

Book three starts with the ghost and moves on to Reagan discovering the other two secrets and the losses they cause. Also, she might lose her humanity. And there is a satyr.

I’ll keep you all updated as I progress through the story and Nanowrimo. I may overload this blog with word count updates but it helps me with accountability. To anyone else prepping for November, good luck! I’d love to see your updates as well.

 

 

 

 

Everything Update 09/25/2018

Pardon my disappearing act for the last few months. There have been changes and slight upheavals in my life but things are starting to settle down.

Writing: I purchased another class from Holly Lisle. It’s called How to Write a Novel. I already know how to do this of course, but I bought the course anyway for a few reasons. First, I like trying other authors’ processes. I find myself picking up bits and pieces and making them my own. Every writer has a Frankenstein’s monster of a writing process. It’s how we learn and grow.

Second, I’m never more productive than when I’m doing a writing class. Since I accomplished very little this summer, I look forward to making up for it with the novel I’m working on through the class.

Third, I have a new novel idea, so it’s the perfect time to experiment with a different way of doing things.

Bonus reason: Holly Lisle uses lots of worksheets. I adore worksheets! Maybe it’s silly, but they work for me. I’m so scatter-brained these days and using her worksheets helps keep me on track. The downside is I go through a lot of paper and printer ink. This is an acceptable trade-off for getting my novels written.

Let’s talk about my new novel idea. It started a few months ago with the idea for a character. Actually, it goes all the way back to two summers ago when I plotted a story at the West Texas Writer’s Academy. I had written most of the novel before that class but something wasn’t working for me and I didn’t know what. So when I needed to pick a story to plot, I chose that one.

It was about a woman who worked with a ghost to save the world. The problem was the scope was too big. So I considered scaling it down to the duo saving a town. Great, onward and upward I thought. We had to discuss elements of the story in class and when it was my turn everyone seemed really interested. I was thrilled and knew I was on the right track. Comments and suggestions abounded. I wrote everything I heard down and started incorporating the more interesting ideas.

I was excited to have the story plotted at the end of the week and happy I took the class. Then I got home and tried to rewrite the story. There was one problem. I hated the story. It was a terrible idea for a story, but it was no longer MY idea. I was so enraptured with all the enthusiasm from others that I inadvertently changed the story idea into Their story.

I’m still glad I took the class but I regret getting lost in what other writers wanted. That novel, all 60,000 word written, is a bust. Then a few months ago, I ‘new’ idea struck me. As I wrote down my thoughts I realized there were a lot of elements from the original ghost story. At first, I thought I was reworking it, then realized I was only drawing inspiration from it.

This new idea inspires my muse more than the other ever did! Since I pulled strings from what I called The Ghost War, what I wrote before was not wasted. I’ll call it a practice novel, the kind you write and realize you need to trash it. It’s not my first novel but it still taught me a lot. The most important lesson is to write for myself, and not what other author’s think I should. Their ideas were great, but not for my style.

The Ghost War turned into something bordering on romance, which is not what I do. I’ve thought about trying my hand at other genres and if I ever decide to do something more paranormal romance then I have that story on my hard drive. And my external drive. And a thumb drive. And Dropbox and Google drive, lol.

So, back to my new story idea. I spend the summer working on characters and major plot points. What I came up with is a series, hopefully. I’ll write the first book and see. At this point, what I thought would be book one and book two merged and made a better, fuller story. I’ll keep you all updated as I go along.

Writing Goals: Above I mentioned how I’m more productive while doing writing classes. If things go the way they did with other courses, my muse won’t be happy unless I’m working on several things at once. This led me to make some goals.

  1. Finish the class. This should be obvious but I have a few class I started but never finished. It wasn’t laziness or fear. The problem was I wasn’t ready for the particular classes. For example, I have one called How to Write a Series. At the time, I wasn’t prepared to work on my middle-grade series (stupid muse) and I didn’t have a solid adult series idea. I do now but I’m going to do the new class first. I could be wrong about the idea’s potential and I’d rather learn that before I get into the series class.
  2. Flash fiction. I’ve written around one hundred pieces of flash fiction. Most were written in the same year. Burn-out stopped me in my tracks. Also, back pain, but that’s another story. Now, I think I’m ready to try again. Most of my time will be taken up by my novel, but when I get tired of it or need to shift focus a bit I can switch to flash. I might even use the shorter stories as a morning warm up. Even if they suck I’ll have something to work with later!
  3. Blog. I want to get back into the habit of posting regularly. Some writers get distracted by blogging. For those, it’s either posts or fiction. Not me. I stay more on track if I’m doing both. Like switching to flash fiction, blogging is a small break from the obsession of novel writing. It saves me from crashing and burning on a story.

Medical: Pain sucks. Long-term pain sucks more. However, as sad as it is, chronic pain forces one to adapt. You simply get used to the pain. It doesn’t hurt less, but it becomes part of your life. If you’re smart, you’ll get on with life instead of feeling so sorry for yourself that you end up doing nothing (guilty).

I’m tired of letting my back pain decide everything I do and don’t do. I’m still not going to ride a roller coaster but I am going to suck it up and write more often!

For a while, I wasn’t going to the gym regularly but I’m getting back on track. This will help my pain level a lot, which translates to helping my ability to write more often. Plus the bonus energy levels following a workout. I always try to get some writing in during that time.

Changes and Upheaval: I had a kid move out! My four offspring range in age from 18 (barely) to 24. My twenty-one-year-old daughter was the first to go. It was a strange, upsetting, and cool time. I was so happy for her but sad to see her go. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until weeks later. I miss her like crazy but still get to see her semi-often. I’m over the sad part. Now I’m starting to see how our household changed.

Alyssa, if you read this, sorry but I’m going to rat you out.

The biggest change is the amount of toilet paper in the house! I went to Sam’s and bought a huge pack and when I got home I went to put some in the hall linen closet. For the first time, ever, there was another big pack, unopened, and some left from another. I wish there was a video of my shocked reaction. Who knew she was the one who used the most. I bet her siblings knew, but I didn’t.

Another change or lack thereof was the amount of food in the pantry and fridge. There were fewer items in the deli drawer but I couldn’t see a difference in the pantry. That kid adored ramen and chicken noodle soup.

My living room is cleaner. She always left piles of her stuff everywhere. Not all her junk has been moved yet but at least the stacks are smaller.

The garage is the biggest change. Somehow after being given a small corner to do art, Alyssa managed to take over most of one side of the garage. She would have taken more but I park in there and we keep the lawn stuff on ‘her’ side. As I mentioned, she hasn’t moved it all but I can see the floor! Since she got her packrat tendencies from her mother, I’m not mad about the massive amount of things she has but I’ll be glad when she finally gives me room to store my equally large around of stuff, lol. I have a feeling many shelves are in my future.

The next change hasn’t occurred but soon will. My oldest plans to move out. I don’t know when, but he put in an application for an apartment on Friday. They told him it would take several business days to hear back. I’m happy for him but I’m positive I’ll be sad too. He’s the type to only visit when he feels guilty that he hasn’t in a while. He loves his family but he desperately needs a space of his own. He’ll finally not have to share a room with his brother.

One last soon to happen upheaval: My youngest child, Cairie, is a senior. She will attend college after she graduates and her plan was to live at home until she finishes. However, my older daughter offered to let her sister move in with her in May. Since my baby is the most independent of the kids, this appeals to her. Alyssa even told Cairie she wouldn’t have to pay rent until they upgraded to a two bedroom, and offered up the bedroom so they would have separate spaces. What 18-year-old would turn that down?

Calling all of this upheaval may seem to be an exaggeration but you have to understand how much of a creature of habit I am. And they are my babies!

Nanowrimo: I’m going to participate this year. Not only that, I’m going to drag others in with me. There is a group of people who have felt left out of the group due to some choices by previous leadership. There are new leaders this year and they know the problems and want to fix them. I offered my assistance and together we’re going to get those people back in and feeling part of the family.

I’m talking about the people over 30. The last leader worked so hard to get college kids involved that the older ones of us got pushed aside and forgotten. This wasn’t on purpose but still happened. Since most of the people who felt left out feel comfortable with me, I’m going to use that to get them going to events. If I go, they will know at least one person who will talk to them so they’ll do it. That means I’ll be going to almost every event and most of my attention will be on the others. I probably won’t ‘win’ this year but I’m thinking long-term for all of us.

The young people won’t be neglected but I left that in one of the ‘ML’s’ hands. I’ll have enough on my hands trying to convince twenty or so people to come back to Nanowrimo. (Jesse, that mean’s you too!).

It took me about 30  minutes to write this post and it’s over 2000 words. If I can do that, then I can write 1500 words a day (some days) for Nanowrimo. I might not get the 50,000 but I bet I can get half! That’s a hell of accomplishment too.

If this post seems scattered, with many errors, then just know you are seeing a glimpse of my brain. Grammarly certainly doesn’t like the way I wrote it! I’ll post more updates soon.

Everything Update – 06/24/2018

Writing: I’m still working on my new project and I’m deep in character development. I did a little index card plotting and have a basic idea of where the story is going but the more I work on individual characters, the more interesting the story gets.

I haven’t written any scenes yet but will soon. I was in a writer’s funk (not quite a block) for so long I think I’m afraid to jump into actual writing. At this point, I’m happy to be working toward something rather than fretting about not writing.

The story is urban fantasy. I previously worked mostly on high/epic fantasy, which I love to read. The problem is I hate world building. I don’t have the patience for it.

With urban, obviously you have to world build but not to the same extent as high or epic fantasy. I enjoy writing high fantasy short stories, but I’m sticking with more modern settings for my longer stuff now.

Reading: The Dresden Files. There are other series I like better but I’m enjoying this one. I’m on the seventh book. Each time I finish one and pick up another I swear I can feel my ‘to-read’ pile glaring at me. However, since this is research I don’t feel too guilty.

If anyone has any suggestions for urban fantasy series, please share them with me. I’ve read Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews along with what I’m reading now but that’s it.

Medical: I got another injection in my back last week. It’s amazing. There is no perfect relief from this kind of pain but it’s enough that I can sit at my desk and work for longer so I’m satisfied for now. Plus I’m going on vacation soon so I’m glad I did this now.

Vacation: We’re going to Colorado this year instead of New Jersey. My in-laws are meeting us there. I like going to their home to visit but it means a three-day car ride. This year, we only have to drive eight hours! My lower back will be thanking me.

Going to a new setting will be great for my writing. Every vacation is a working one when you’re a writer. Yet it doesn’t feel like work when you’re excited about a story!

Writing two: I plan to write flash fiction stories set in the world of my new project. Once I have a few I’ll start posting them.

That’s all I have for now. I hope to post more often soon!

Everything Update – 04/24/2018

I normally start with an update on my writing status, but this post will be different due to something more important going on.

My daughter’s medical: My youngest daughter, who is seventeen, is having surgery on Friday. She has a lump in her breast. In 2016 when it was discovered, she had a biopsy and it was not cancer. However, in only two years time it doubled in size.

We went to see a surgeon on Thursday and if our insurance would have approved quickly, the doctor would have removed the lump the next day because she was concerned about how fast it grew. This surgeon, who is one of the best, only does her surgeries on Fridays so we scheduled it for this week.

I’m probably more nervous than my daughter. She’s dealt with it for a long time now. It causes her a lot of pain at times and she’s sick of it. Relief outweighs fear for her.

When the surgeon checked it out and measured it, she made us laugh by saying: “Congratulations, you won an operation.” My kid wore the biggest grin. She was afraid they would make her wait longer or say it didn’t need to be taken out.

The pre-op appointment was today and while it went well, I’m now a bit of a wreck. My baby is about to have surgery so I reserve the right to freak out, haha.

My medical: I’m in pain, as usual. I had an injection recently that helped some, so I can’t complain. I still do of course. Pain always sucks and bitching about it releases some mental pressure. A bitching valve!

Writing: I started developing a new novel idea. I should work on an unfinished project, but I don’t have it in me at present. I’m still in a writing slump but I’m pulling myself out of it slowly. New stories make my muse happy. I also wrote the bare bones of several pieces of flash fiction. My mind is more on my kid right now, but after her surgery, I’ll type those stories up and post them.

Reading: I read the entire Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews in about two weeks. I loved it. Now I’m reading The Galactic Milieu trilogy by Julian May.  Actually, I’m starting with the prequel. It’s oldish science fiction. I find it plodding at times and the author’s use of complicated terminology make it a little pompous. Still, I love it. It’s got some great characters, a redemption story, and cool mental abilities. Besides, who wouldn’t love a book titled Jack the Bodiless? Don’t let the silly title fool you. It’s a very enjoyable read.

Everything else: I bought an Erin Condren Life Planner and I adore it. I’ve tried getting more organized, with a structured schedule for years. None of the other planners I’ve tried worked for me. This one does. My memory is garbage ever since I started taking pain meds. This planner helps me remember to keep my head on straight.

This first one I got on sale but the next one will be hard to get past my thrifty side. Fifty-five bucks for a planner is a lot. The one for next year comes out next month. We’ll see if I win my inner debate! Maybe I’ll get lucky and someone will buy me one for Mother’s day.

I’ll post another update as soon as I have anything to tell you all. Wish me calmness for Friday. I can be a bit high-strung when I’m stressed, so wish my husband fortitude or at least a mental pat on the back for his amazing well of patience!

My Writing Journey, Part 2

To read Part 1 click here.

Ah, the teenage years. What a beautiful, crazy, terrible nightmare they were. I could tell a million stories from that time, but I’ll stick to the writing-related stuff for the sake of brevity.

I didn’t often write back then. Like most teens, I was crippled with self-doubt and unexplained fears. How on earth did we all survive blushing almost daily? It was during these formative years that I had a lot of serious upheavals and changes.

When I was thirteen, my parents divorced. This was both painful and welcome. They hadn’t gotten along for years, so we all knew it was necessary. The hard part had to do with being a daddy’s girl. There was a time I would have done anything to please my father, but I was learning that he was human and I didn’t like it.

He was an alcoholic, which I barely understood and probably affected me the least of all of my family since I was the youngest and his favorite. In the days leading up to my mom leaving him, I finally saw some uncomfortable truth. My dad was a high functioning alcoholic, as in he came home, drank a lot of beer and you couldn’t see much change. However, he was an a-hole when he was really drunk, but like most heavy drinkers, it was even worse when he wasn’t drinking.

I need to clarify that I was the one who couldn’t see much change when dad drank. I was young, dumb, and oblivious. My mother and brothers definitely weren’t in the dark. In a way, this lack of knowledge made it harder when I saw the truth.

Anyway, I won’t go into too many details, but the night we left, my dad did the unforgivable. He slapped my mother. I may have been a daddy’s girl, but no one touches my mother. Even worse, in my barely teenaged mind, it was my fault. He was drunk and pissed off because of something I did that my mother punished me for.

I don’t remember what stupid crap I’d pulled, but I do remember I deserved to be in trouble. All she did was ground me, but I was his baby, and I don’t know if he assumed I hadn’t done anything or if he thought she was too harsh. It doesn’t matter, he had no right to do what he did. Hell, he didn’t have the right to be yelling at her for it.

The words and images are fuzzy for me except the look on his face when I screamed at him. The shock and betrayal in his expression are still clear in my mind. Sitting here, writing this I keep thinking ‘he felt betrayed, what about us?’

My mom was smart enough to use the interruption to get the hell out of there. She grabbed me and my older brother and took us to her sister’s house. She filed for divorce soon after.

I need to backtrack a moment. My dad was a good man, once. He treated me like a princess and loved me with everything he had. He treated my mother well too, in the beginning. He didn’t treat my brothers the same, but I don’t know if that was the beer or just how he was.

Alcoholism messes people up, and he’d been that way for most of his adult life. Part of me believes if he’d ever completely given up beer, he might have become the man he should have been. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Once they split up, I picked up a pen again. I wrote about my feelings and then tore up the paper into confetti, every time. It helped. Life settled into a routine for a while. Then my mom started dating someone.

I was happy for her until I met him. His name was David, and I hated him, instantly. This was no teenager issue, though my mom thought it was. No, I got a bad feeling from him. I’d only gotten this feeling with one other person, and it turned out my gut was right that time. So, in all my experience and wisdom I told my mom how uncomfortable he made me. She produced the knowing smile adolescents everywhere hate and kept doing what she was doing.

Everyone assumed I would hate the first guy she dated because he wasn’t my dad. HA! Little did they know my ‘bad feeling’ was never wrong. The guy turned out to be a pig, which is the nicest thing I can say about the man. As a side note, years later, I ran into this man at the local mall, where I worked (I was 18 or 19). He told me how much I looked like my mother, how he missed her, and then hit on me! GROSS!

I occasionally pick on my mother for not listening to me, but my choice in men was much worse for a few years so I keep it to a minimum.

Not long after dumping the jerk, she met my future step-dad. I liked him right away. He was weird as hell, had a dry sense of humor, and he adored mom. No bad feelings cropped up, so I was happy for her. They got married in October 1988, and we moved from our tiny little town to the bigger city ten miles away.

It might as well have been a hundred miles. I wasn’t sad to move, but I was sad to leave my friends. I figured we still see each other often, but it didn’t take long for everyone to move on. I loved and hated my new school. There were so many people! Unfortunately, some were little assholes. Some were amazing. I found the weird tribe and joined. I settled in and decided it could have been worse, then it was.

At the end of December, fifteen days after I turned 15, my dad died in a car accident. He was driving through New Mexico, on he way to El Paso to visit his parents. My brother and I were supposed to be with him, but we didn’t go. He was mad at both my brothers for something stupid and I was mad at him. On Christmas Eve, he yelled at me and told me I ruined Christmas because I defended my siblings. It was all so unimportant and silly, but we didn’t want to be around him when he was a jerk.

As you can imagine, I was a wreck. Grief and guilt consumed me. My relationship with my middle brother fell apart. He already resented me because I was dad’s favorite and was treated differently. Now that our father was gone, there was only me left to take the blame. My mother hardly knew what to do with me.

The years that followed are particularly painful for me, and I don’t want to rehash everything. I didn’t get arrested or do a bunch of drugs or anything like that, but there are some things I’ll never talk about again. I will say that I wrote more during this time than I ever had. I got angry at my mother often back then. She was very non-confrontational, and I am the opposite. It made me so mad when she wouldn’t fight! So I wrote her letters. I wasn’t capable calmly telling her how I felt and she wouldn’t let me yell it, so it was my only option.

Those letters, which she still has, changed my world. You wouldn’t believe how many drafts of each one I wrote. I cared about how well they were written. It bothered me to misspell something or if my grammar was off. I realized how much words mattered. I also learned that I could truly express myself with a pen.

Fear still ruled, but I’d taken steps in the right direction. Years later my mother told me she thought I should write after reading those letters because they were well written.

Remember when I used the word brevity at the beginning of this post? If you know me, I figured there would be some eye-rolls, well deserved.

Certainly, I wrote more than intended but sometimes the words have to come out. Thank you for sticking with me. In part 3, I’ll cover my failed marriages and bad choice in men. Those were the years that almost broke me and nearly killed my love of writing.