Medical

Everything Update – July 28, 2017

I must have had a powerful dream about an evil sorcerer last night. When I woke up, I was a frog! Okay, so it was only my voice that was frog-like. I didn’t know for a while because I feel a little off so I didn’t get out of bed right away. My throat felt weird, but I assumed it was drainage (gross right?).

After playing silly games on my phone for an hour, I got up and dressed. I opened my bedroom door and was ‘attacked’ by my dogs. Like every other dog owner in the world, I used that horrid high-pitched voice to greet them. Well, I tried anyway. A few squeaks were emitted, to the confusion and delight of the furry members of my family.

As I walked into the living room, I kept trying to talk, but this time it was croaks, gasps, clicks, grunts, and a few of the words I attempted. Okay, I’m exaggerating, there were no gasps. All the sounds I made were particularly manly though. My son laughed at me while I amused us both with my Castiel voice (points if you get my reference).

So now I’ve developed a headache, and I feel like I ran a marathon even though all I did was give my dogs a treat, walk through the house once, and grab breakfast. I figured it was a great time to post an update, haha.

Medical: By now you’ve figured out I’m sick. My throat is starting to hurt, and I might go to the doctor if it doesn’t get better by morning. I don’t normally go to the doctor for things like this but I’m going on vacation in a week, and I don’t want to risk being sick for that.

My back is giving me the same attitude it has quite some time. I am starting to consider that second surgery, but I’m holding out for now. One of my doctors wants me to think about getting an implant that delivers all day, low doses of morphine, but she’s an idiot. So for now, it’s take pain meds or another fusion. We’ll see what I decide.

Writing: Okay, hold your index finger and thumb close together, with about a centimeter between them. That’s how much writing I’ve done lately.

There are many reasons excuses for this. I’m in some kind of writer’s funk. I suspect it has more to do with chronic pain getting to me mentally than a true writer’s block. Still, I’ve done a lot of pre-writing. This includes trying to plot the story on a dry erase board, rearranging scenes, deciding character traits, coming up with back story, etc.

It’s not like all my creativity is gone, but my motivation is fleeting. I’m working through it, but I’m frustrated.

My plan for this week is to write flash fiction whenever I can. I’ll be busy with getting ready for my vacation, but I will try to get as much work done as possible.

Vacation: As previously mentioned, I’m going on vacation soon. I’m excited and dreading it. There are two things I’m worried about. First is the drive. We will be in a car for three days, driving from Texas to New Jersey. I hate long car rides anyway but with my back, I know it’s going to be miserable.

The second concern is my August curse. Every year something momentous happens around the beginning of that month. Sometimes it’s the end of July, and once it was more mid-August, but it’s coming. Those of you who’ve followed me for a while have heard it all before, but I’ll recap.

One year my apartment was struck by lightning and burned down. The next year, a lady crashed her car into the fence surrounding my porch while trying to run down her husband. There was the time I woke up and found my car sitting in front of my house, totaled by what I have to assume was a drunk driver. Since it was a hit and run, we’ll never know.

How about the time my appendix tried to burst while I was on vacation, in New Jersey, and had to have surgery half-way across the country from home. That one is the winner for worst ever manifestation of the curse. It was much worse than the year before when we got a flat tire and went through a full day of semi-nightmare crap with the car rental people.

Now, remember, I said momentous. In 2011 the curse decided it was time for a big, but good thing to happen. I got married. It was supposed to be an outdoor wedding, but it was particularly hot that year so we decided a week or two before the big day that we should move it indoors. Turns out that was the best decision ever. West Texas had been in a drought, and it hadn’t rained for four months. That day it did. Four inches in just a couple of hours. We were able to get all the pictures taken outside before it started. The sky was an awesome steel grey/blue, and the photos are unique and beautiful.

It was perfect! Not only do I love the rain, but the area also needed it desperately. Plus ‘they’ say rain on your wedding day is lucky. What a great day. It was the one exception to anything curse-like in August since 2008.

So this year, as it’s gotten closer to the end of July, my stress level has risen in anticipation of whatever life will smack me with. Maybe something good will happen this time. We’ll see. Hopefully, we’ll just have a nice, relaxing vacation.

Reading: I keep adding to my to-read pile. I find myself coming up with more urban fantasy than high fantasy stories these days. My muse has been trying to steer me in this direction for years, and I’m finally listening.

Therefore, I need to read more urban fantasy. I have some, but I always bought the old school, epic fantasy series. Now I must buy books set in the here and now. I have some, and I’ve re-read them, but I have to get more. This means all the books waiting for my attention get pushed aside again.

I’m okay with it. I kept resisting until I read a newer book by Terry Brooks. I’ve always loved his books. They were a little basic but always fun, and great light reads. But something changed. I can’t figure out if my taste in books has evolved or if it’s Terry. Actually, I think it’s both.

I still like entertaining light reads. In fact, I’m sick of all the grimdark. Going back to something less gruesome is nice. However, as much as I hate to say this, this latest series Brooks wrote it awful. I struggled to get into it, and as I read, I found myself mentally listing all the bad stuff about it. From the name of the villain being so trite to the recycled storyline boring me.

Reading a bad book by an author I loved was disheartening but potentially beneficial to me. You see, now I don’t want to read another crappy high fantasy novel. So it was easy to pick up an urban fantasy to change things up. Precisely what I needed to do.

If anyone has any good urban fantasy suggestions, let me know. I prefer stories written in third person but will consider a first person if it’s got solid reviews.

There are several epic fantasy novels I still plan to read this year. Each comes up in the next few months, and I will buy them and read them as soon as I can get my hands on them. How can I pass up Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Peter Brett and Trudi Canavan?

Everything Else: I’ve been binging on TV shows lately. Supernatural, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, Jessica Jones, Orphan Black, and more. There are even two shows that must not be named that I watched, over the course of three days. We’re going to call it research. Both were YA, and I kind of liked them, haha.

Actually, I really did watch them for research for a YA urban fantasy novel I want to write. I just didn’t expect to mostly enjoy them.

I accidentally bought the first season of Highlander on Amazon yesterday. Once I did it, I thought it over and decided not to click the handy link that would allow me to give it back. I am not ashamed to love the show (so shut it, Jesse). It’s not for everyone, but it is for me.

Writing/Reading Too: I bought a couple of writing books, and I’m so in love with them I am recommending them to all writers. The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. They are nice references to have around. I also own The Emotion Thesaurus by them. There are three other books in the series. One is called Emotion Amplifiers and is free on Kindle. It’s a companion to the Emotion Thesaurus but is useful on its own. The other books in the series are around six bucks on Kindle and well worth it.

Blog: I plan to get back to posting regularly. However, since I’m going on vacation soon, for three weeks, it will be a little while before I get restarted on this.

Expect reviews, rambles, writing prompts, tips, rants, my experiences, quotes, photos, etc. I might even bring back my regular Wednesday and Saturday posts.

Everything Update – 5/25/2017

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I thought I should write an update, so everyone knows I still exist. The last few weeks have been a bit crazy and unsettling for me, which affects everything I do, as I’ll explain.

Writing: The Writer’s Academy starts in less than two weeks. My nerves are on high alert. I received an email containing homework. The people in the class were asked to talk about ourselves, our projects, etc.

I put it off for two days because I was horrified. It wasn’t as bad as having to introduce myself in person to a room full of people, but I was still nervous about it. When I did answer, I got ‘yelled’ at by Alexandra Sokoloff, (author and one of the instructors) and it was hilarious! Let me explain. I’m a starter, and not always a finisher. I’m aiming to change this, which is part of the reason I’m taking the class.

I admitted to having twelve projects in various stages of completion, and she said exactly what one would expect. She told me to pick a novel and stick to it until it’s complete. Then she gave concrete reasons why. The irony is I haven’t even chosen which project I’ll be working on for the course! I hope I have it figured out soon.

Other than avoiding preparing for the academy, I haven’t done much writing. I wrote a piece of flash fiction and have thought a lot about writing. Mostly my mind is on my fantasy trilogy, so it’s currently the top contender for the class.

Reading: Pern, that is all.

Food Issues: Salicylates suck and avoiding them now rules my life. After several strong reactions to foods containing the nasty buggers, I decided it was time for a pantry/fridge/joy purge.

It was as painful as it sounds. I started with a list, well two lists on one piece of paper – front and back. Good on half of one side and Bad on most of the rest. On the bad list, there are foods I would never touch along with foods I will forever miss. Oranges, almonds, peanuts, mustard, basil, oregano, corn, all tomato products, tea, olive oil, rum, and many other things I regularly consumed. Okay, I haven’t had rum in over year because of pain meds but still!

The bad list is even worse than it looks at first glance. I mentioned corn. This means no corn products, except corn starch. Do you know how many things have corn syrup or corn meal in them? Blo-Pops, along with almost all hard candies, do. Soda, chicken bullion, most hamburger buns, any of the good frozen meals (I know, a rarity), and lots of cereals have one or the other as well. No more popcorn either.

Losing tomato products was painful as well. I’m a sucker for A-1 steak sauce, I’ll dip bread in that stuff, but I can’t have it. BBQ sauce. I live in TEXAS for crying out loud! Talk about unfair. No more ketchup, hell, no more Raising Canes sauce. Actually, Raising Canes uses paprika so I couldn’t have it anyway, but that’s not the point.

At least I can still eat garlic! I might have terrible breath if you ever meet me but I’m seasoning everything within reason with garlic, salt, chives, parsley and soy sauce from now on. Perhaps not all at once. I’m also happy to report I can consume pecans, limes, potatoes, and green beans. The world would have ended if these were taken from me.

The important thing is I feel different now that I’ve given up the foods I should have cut out a year ago. I’m less tired, less foggy, more energetic, etc. I’ve even lost a few pounds. The symptoms, besides major reactions, were much like the ones you would encounter with hypothyroidism.

Medical: My back hurts, as always. I won’t see any of my doctors unless I think I need to.

Everything Else: I’m obsessing/worrying about my packing list. The one I wrote five months ago. This is normal behavior for me when I go on a trip so nothing to be concerned about.

That’s all for now. I’ll post another update once I decide on a project.

Roadblocks & Annoyances

My muse has been waking up, so it was no surprise when my body starting betraying me again. It seems like every time I get close to being myself again after all these back problems and medication adjusting, something pops up that could potentially stop me from writing.

This time it is my sensitivity to salicylates. It’s been quite some time since I had my first major allergic reaction and I’ve done many things to avoid a repeat performance of Hellboy (this was my entire body turning bright red after drinking a smoothie containing blackberries and blueberries). I really thought I had this stuff under control, but I learned twice in the last week how wrong I was.

Okay, confession time. I did learn tea was very high in salicylates, but at the time of my first reaction, I didn’t know. So I kept drinking it, every day. As time went on, I reacted to more things. The doctor had warned me of this, and while I listened to her, I unwisely decided to keep enjoying the things I loved until my body told me I was done.

Unfortunately, when I react to one thing, there is a domino effect. There are three different types of salicylate. I wasn’t reacting to the one that includes mint and menthol, so I didn’t cut either out. I loved my mints and cough drops, they acted as substitutes when I stopped smoking years ago. Then came the fateful day when my body rejected both. It was awful! They caused sores in my mouth, even under my tongue!

Once that happened I reacted to certain shampoos and cosmetics. I had already cleaned out the ones with ‘benzyl salicylate’ on their label, but I left the ones containing aloe. Mistake!

And I still drank tea. Even when there were signs it was doing bad things to me, I kept drinking it. Then my body, which is clearly smarter than me, decided it for me. I reacted, and it wasn’t fun. Shortly after I reacted to a face cleaner, then yesterday I an unexpected enemy reared it’s lovely, delicious, terrible head — paprika. I ate a grilled chicken salad. The chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper (another salicylate), garlic, onion powder, and paprika. Stupid me, I have looked at the lists of foods to avoid a hundred times and simply never noticed the spices. It’s more accurate to say I ignored it.

My punishment was to turn into Hellboy again. Honestly, I’m lucky I haven’t had any breathing issues, though the doctor says it will come to that.

There are a few more items in the house I need to figure out replacements for. Did I mention I can’t have mint? I have yet to discover a toothpaste that is for sensitive teeth but doesn’t contain mint. I guess I should cut out regular pepper too, ugh!

I had to learn all the terms used by various companies that mean salicylates without actually using the word.  Most sunscreens have the evil in them, but the label says homosalate or octisalate. Some of the ones for sensitive skin don’t have those two, but they have aloe. I found two I can use, which are more expensive but safe is good.

I’m discovering more and more things I have to avoid, but I’m paying more attention now. I hate giving up things I love (no more chicken strips from restaurants), but it’s time to give in. I don’t only turn red when I use things I shouldn’t, I also feel really awful. Lie down and stare at the ceiling awful. This stops me from writing, and I can’t allow it any longer.

Back pain and surgeries have already been roadblocks to writing, I can’t let my own bad choices also stop me too.

Yesterday was the first day with no tea. I hated it, but I survived. Today will be the same. The two pieces of chicken meant for my salads will be given to my offspring, and I’ll find something plain to eat. I’ll pout a lot and curse the unfairness of it all, but I know it’s all worth it.

Most importantly, I’ll write.

Everything Update 04/20/2017

Someone once asked why I call this my Everything Update. I think the real question was why do I update everything all at once. The answer is in the name of my blog: Writerish Ramblings. I do tend to ramble on. I’m so full of words that I can’t contain them all inside my head, so I let them out on paper, on the screen, and in person, I never shut up (unless I’m talking to a stranger).

If I did separate updates for each of the items in this post, then I would overload everyone. So I put it all here.

The other reason is pain. I can’t sit at the computer for as long as I want to, so it’s easier for me to update on everything in one post. What you don’t see is I don’t always type it up in one sitting.

So, on to the updating.

Writing: I purchased an online course about writing a series. I know how to write, but there are different rules for series, as well as many different types of series. Each kind has its own set of dictates. I figure I will learn something and add to my writing toolbox and it’s worth it to me. I also bought a book that I would call a refresher.

My reasoning on these items is I have not been writing. No work on my trilogy, no short stories, no new ideas (besides a few jotted notes).

Part of my problem is pain medication. I had to choose between a nightmare surgery or pills, so I chose pills. I hate it, but I’m doing what I can to put off the inevitable for as long as possible.

So the meds make me a little flighty and a lot sleepy. Since I’ll be on them for at least a couple of months, I need to do something to fight through it. Following instructions in a class or book seems to be my best choice for keeping my muse awake.

Besides, why wouldn’t I want to keep learning, and trying new techniques? Talent/skills can stagnate if you don’t take the time to help them grow.

I also plan to use writing prompts I normally ignore. I like prompts for writing short stories, but I never do the ones that want you to answer questions about your life. For example, Why do you want to write? Or Where do you see yourself in ten years? Maybe even Describe your hometown.

Fiction won’t come out of using these but words will. Any writing leads to more writing. I shouldn’t be ignoring them. An essay using the prompt: Why do you want to be a writer led me to win a scholarship to the West Texas Writer’s Academy. Clearly, any prompt has value!

So I’ll use them and I’ll probably post some of the results of my experiment.

Medical: BLAH! I had an injection for pain relief, but it didn’t really work. They added something to dissolve some scar tissue at the same time. I don’t know how long it takes to work, but at this point, there isn’t much difference. I’m sure it is doing something, but at this level of pain, it’s hard to appreciate a small change.

Two days ago I must have overdone it at the gym because the pain was so bad that I spent most of the day in bed. It was much the same the next day. So I skipped working out yesterday, and I’m much better now. On the upside, I watched the extended cut of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (over two days) with no writer’s guilt. I also analyzed the hell out of all three movies. Everything from dialog to structure. I almost took notes, but it’s hard to write anything when lying down.

I really enjoy those movies, but I found myself laughing at some of the speeches and Eowyn’s face when she was shocked, those eyes!

Everything else: I had to rearrange my work space. I have an L-shaped desk, and where I had, it wasn’t causing me problems. One of the desks was in the middle of the room. The space was too tight, and I was getting into my chair in a way that hurt a lot. Now, that desk is against a wall. The area is open and I’m better off.

My dogs love it because they can’t sprawl out but still be close to me. I miss my ‘nest’ but overall, I like this arrangement better.

I also moved all my books around. Every time I can’t do things because of pain, I want to do all the things! So I do some of the things even though it’s going to hurt. A rebellious nature sucks when you’re rebelling against your own body and it fights back!

I’ll try to post more often. I’ve been slacking but I’m trying to push through all these roadblocks. That’s all for now.  I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Everything Update – 4/8/2017

I still exist! It seems like so much is going on, but really, there isn’t much to tell.

Writing: Nope. Nada. Zip. Well, this isn’t technically true. I haven’t done much actual writing, but I’ve done some prep work. I did a mini-workshop that was designed to help with ideas. Actually, I haven’t finished it. There is three days worth of material, and I did day 1 and 2. Then there was a revised day one release, so I backtracked and need to go through it again.

This worked out for me because I despised the story ideas I came up with on the first go-round. Pain has kept me away from my desk, but I plan to work through it this weekend and the beginning of next week.

Last night I had a new idea pop into my drugged mind. First, let me clarify. I do not do street drugs. I’m talking about Tramadol, which is a powerful pain med, but not even a narcotic one (which I can’t take). Still, the adjustment period for Tramadol is long and miserable. I have taken a nap, which I hate, almost every day since I started taking this junk.

The meds make me feel cloudy and flighty and sleepy and nauseated. It hardly seems worth it, but the pain has gotten so bad I am doing it anyway. I’ve taken this medication previously, before my surgery, so I know most of the bad side effects will go away soon. I can only hope my concentration level will be better this time. There is a chance I’ll stop taking it soon, but I’ll explain that in the next section.

So, back to my new idea. It’s not very developed, but my muse must really want me to write it because it was strong enough to come through the drug fog. So I’m sitting on the bed, playing a game on my phone when the story pops into my head. It started with a name and grew into the seed of a character in a couple of minutes.

I don’t know why I did this, because it’s not my norm, but I started thinking out loud at my husband. Just a few brief thoughts, then I asked if it sounded stupid. He’s a smart guy, so of course, he said it didn’t. Then later as things came together more in my head, I said more. As I spoke, the ideas changed and grew and became more clear. Eventually, I jotted down everything I could think of because I don’t trust my memory right now.

This new story is nothing like my regular stuff. It is fantasy, but it’s not serious. Instead, I plan for it to be light and fun. I’m almost positive the two main characters are teenagers, though it’s not YA. It is about two girls, no romance. Though I am leaving room for them to meet people who could catch their romantic interest. It would only be a side story though. They will grow and change so who knows where it will all lead!

It will have a couple of unwise wishes, a witch, characters who get themselves into a lot of messes, and an unexpected ending. Actually, the ending is probably not the end. At this point, I envision a series of longer short stories, maybe even a serial. It depends on how much trouble these girls get themselves into. I like the idea of many adventures along with common issues young people have to deal with but set in an old school fantasy setting.

One of the girls has a name and a few basics, like where her home is and her lifestyle. The other has all that but a name. I haven’t worked out personalities yet, though I have ideas.

I’ll update more as the story develops.

Medical: My body hates me. I’ve been in so much pain I can hardly think straight. Then I started taking big pain meds, which does not help with clarity of thought but does help with the pain. The disk above my fusion is giving me problems.

Scar tissue from the surgery could be one of the reasons it’s hurting so much, as well as it being smushed. The plan is to do an injection that might help relieve some pain. They are adding something that will dissolve some of the scar tissue. I don’t think I will be pain free afterward but if there is any relief I’ll call it a win.

I’m scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. I’m trying not to get my hopes up. Previous injections in the area didn’t do much for me, but everything with this disk is different than the other.

The doctor wanted me to look into implants. One is a low dose, all day drug delivery. That is not happening. Morphine all day? No thank you! I wouldn’t even be myself anymore.

If the procedure helps then I hope to get back to regular writing.

Other Medical: Remember when I said my body hates me? It’s proving it with tea. I am sensitive to salicylates (look it up, it sucks). Tea, which I drink every day, is high in them. My body has decided that I’m done with tea, I think. I’ve been having weird symptoms, and I’ve suspected tea was the culprit for a while. I denied it for quite some time because I didn’t want to face the facts.

Tea has become the enemy, and I love the enemy. Drinking soda would do me less harm than tea. Also, coffee is also high in salicylates. I don’t like coffee, but if it were safe to drink I would develop a taste for it. How on earth am I going to feed my caffeine addiction?

So I guess I’m going to slowly cut out the tea and see what happens. If my symptoms change, then I did the right thing. I will miss it, but I won’t miss what it’s possibly doing to me.

At this point, I hope it is the tea causing the problems. Caffeine headaches won’t be fun but not drinking tea would be an easy fix. If it’s something else, I’ll have to go through the same process with every suspicious food, cosmetic, and hair care product I use.

Reading: Did I mention I’m on Tramadol? During this adjustment period, reading is mostly off the table. I try. I am attempting to reread some books by Mercedes Lackey, but it’s a struggle. I picked her because I like her characters but also I don’t like some of her descriptions. There is something to be learned by studying writing styles you don’t like as well as ones you do.

My issue is the detail she puts into describing clothing. Four paragraphs for each person? UGH! Also, the inner dialog when something trying to solve a problem is excessive. Even with these things, I love her work. The plots are simple but well done. There are some surprises, although the set up sometimes needs work. Her resolutions are satisfying.

Now, if I could only concentrate on what I’m reading! I’ll keep trying. With me getting used to the meds, it will be easier soon.

Everything Else: I’m getting ready for the West Texas Writer’s Academy. It’s two months away but I made my list months ago. I’m slowly gathering things together in a central location. It sounds silly, but this method keeps me from forgetting stuff.

I also have a list going for our yearly vacation. We are driving to New Jersey, so the list is quite a bit different than the one for my class. When I get back from the first trip, half the stuff I take will not be unpacked, which will be nice. It doesn’t matter how long my travel sized lotion and extra glasses, etc. stay in a bag.

My desk needs to be cleaned off, again. I plan to purge my closet and the kitchen soon. Some rearranging might be in order for my workspace. I’m going to irritate my kids with demands for deep cleaning around the house.

I’m trying new recipes. I am the ultimate creature of habit and if I don’t think about it, I’ll make the same five things over and over. It’s time to switch it up.

That’s all for now. I’ll post an update sometime after my procedure.

 

 

Everything Update – 3/21/2017

Writing: My goal is to revise book one of my fantasy trilogy. I’ve worked a bit on it, but my lower back and a cold have kept me from doing much.

I used Grammarly to do a quick HA, not so quick check on grammar and spelling. I learned I have comma issues and I use too many compound sentences! The word ‘but’ is the bane of my writing existence.

When I opened Grammarly, I was shocked to see it found 900 critical issues! I almost fell out of my chair, seriously. As I went through it, I found it wasn’t as bad as I first thought. One issue the program has is it wants you to use more identifiers than I want. It’s a personal preference and not likely to change.

Another problem is sometimes it is flat-out wrong. There were times it wanted me to say ‘she’ or ‘he’ in place of her or him. It was wrong, I was right, and I clicked ignore on those.

I spent more time than I wanted on this and now it’s probably wasted time. There are some plot points I need to expand on, ideas I need to add and a few things I need to cut. My goal is to write the extra scenes, rewrite what I have to, then use Grammarly again.

It doesn’t matter that it’s not a perfect tool. The thing finds more of my mess ups than I do so I’m glad to have it!

As for the changes, there aren’t as many as I feared. There was a subplot I wanted to use in the beginning but chose to leave out. Now, I think the story needs it. I already have the notes and adding it won’t alter too much of what follows. I’ll have to change a few scenes, but mostly it’s adding new ones. It turns out my muse must have known because I inadvertently set it up as I went along.

The hardest part will be changing two character arcs. One of my most important characters is boring. He simply has nothing to do. He needs to be knocked down and dragged for a while. I don’t even know what torture I’ll put him through, but it will be bad.

Another change is the kinship of two of the ensemble. They are brothers, and I think they need to be cousins or half-brothers, or something that will make their relationship more complicated.

I have a character named I’maari who is probably the most interesting of the bunch, but she isn’t the main character. I need to dial her back a bit.

It sounds like I have a lot to do, but it’s not too much. It will be tedious work, and with all my medical issues it will take a long time. I’ll keep at it until I’m done. Then I’ll write book two, I think. There is a chance I won’t want to look at this story again for a while.

There are no plans for what I’ll work on if not book two but I’ll update when I figure it out.

Writer’s Academy: In three months I’ll attend the West Texas Writer’s Academy for the first time. It is a week-long intensive class, basically an expanded continuing education course. The one I chose is on plotting. I despise outlines, and this method uses index cards or sticky notes instead of a classic muse killing outline.

I’ve used the method a couple of times but I think seeing it demonstrated and being able to talk to an expert will help me with some rougher spots. I’m super excited about it. I’ve already made a packing list! Actually I made the list months ago, but that’s how I am.

Anyway, I’m transitioning from the kind of writer who writers by the seat of their pants to one who does at least some planning. I’m discovering as I go along how much I need.

Medical: This is the crappy part of my update. I have visited two doctors in the past week. First was my neurosurgeon. He said I’m still healing extremely slowly. Also, the fusion is not the cause of my pain. It’s disk above. In fact, I’m in more pain than before my surgery. He said to go see the pain management doctor, which I did today.

  1. I can’t say I’m happy with how it went. I have many options and all of them suck.
  2. Another fusion, preceded by another painful discogram.
  3. A neurostimulator implant. This is kind of like a TENS machine but on the inside.
  4. Targeted drug delivery. This is another implant, a drug pump. We’re talking continuous morphine.
  5. Pills.
  6. Injections.

As you can see, none of these options is appealing. Number four is out of the question and I’ll avoid surgery for as long as possible. The other implant might go on my last resort list. For now, unfortunately, they gave me pills. I was put on Tramadol and an injection semi-soon is likely.

The medication will make me sleep most of every day for the next two weeks. I’m starting with a half dose, once a day. I’m supposed to build up to four times a day. If I end up needing that much then I’ll schedule an injection. I cannot express enough how much I hate taking major meds. Tramadol isn’t a narcotic but it works very much like one. I won’t get addicted but I might not really be ‘me’ for quite some time.

So with all that said, I hope I can meet my writing goals!

Everything Else: I’m doing a lot of reading. I started rereading The Green Rider series by Kristin Britain. I didn’t want to read anything new because then I wouldn’t be writing, or new stuff could inject itself into my own writing.

However, with all this pain junk, and the new meds, I might read new to me books. There are several on my list, some of which are not in my normal genre. There are several people in my writing group with published novels and I own them but not read them yet. If my creativity shuts down for a while I’ll start on those. The genres are sci-fi, cozy mysteries, paranormal romance (vampires), and even some fantasy (YA). I think there are eleven novels I purchased (ebooks) sitting there waiting for me.

I’ll post another update as soon as I’m able. I can’t promise they won’t be loopy rambling. Just know, if the commas are in the proper places, it’s thanks to Grammarly!

Disappointing/Potentially Dangerous Morning Due To My Own Bad Choices

As an adult, I have the right to make terrible decisions, right? My most recent mess up has to do with Pop Tarts, and I’m ticked off about it. Not long ago I made a choice to start eating a cherry one every morning. Not the healthiest thing, but it was quick, easy, and kept my blood sugar mostly normal.

Besides eating mostly sugar for breakfast, my biggest mistake was assuming something as cheap and bad for you as Pop Tarts are, there couldn’t be real fruit in them. I was spectacularly wrong!

There are dried cherries, and oddly, dried apples in them. Guess who is allergic to berries and most other fruits? Actually, it’s more that I’m overly sensitive to something in a lot of foods – salicylates. I’ve always had issues with them, but until several months ago, when I had a severe reaction to some berries, it wasn’t too much of an issue. I’ve never cared for most fruit, so I rarely had any, except in Pop Tarts.

I learned from my doctor that my sensitivity would grow worse once I had the bad reaction. The problem is salicylates are in so many foods. To break it down a bit, everyone is sensitive to them, as they are basically poison. As we grow and try new things, our bodies build up a tolerance, allowing us to eat them. How else do you think you can eat tomatoes, which are nightshades – poison? People like me are more sensitive to them and can’t build as strong a tolerance, so are likely to have an allergic reaction eventually.

Have you seen Hellboy? Imagine a female version, and you’ll get a good mental image of what I looked like when I reacted to a smoothie containing blackberries and blueberries. I’d avoided these my whole life until that day, apparently for a good reason. My entire body turned bright red, and I felt terrible. I probably should have gone to the hospital, but I took a Benadryl and waited.

So, back to the cherry Pop Tarts. As usual, I ate one today. I was cutting potatoes for a stew I was going to throw together in the slow-cooker. I ended up eating pretty slow, in between potatoes. It took about fifteen minutes to cut the veggies and get everything in the pot. Then I went to my bedroom to change into my gym clothes. On the way, my bottom lip started feeling strange.

It was a tingling that was almost a burning sensation. It was the same with a couple of my fingers. Curse words flooded my thoughts because I recognized the feeling. I was reacting to something. I panicked a little at first because it could only be the cheap pastry or the tea I was drinking with it. I looked at my cup of tea and realized I’d only taken a few small drinks. It had to be the damn Pop Tart!

Claritin is part of my morning pill routine so I didn’t take a Benadryl. All I could do was finish getting ready and take my kid to school. I almost didn’t go to the gym but decided I would because I didn’t really feel bad, the burning, which had moved into my entire chin, wouldn’t stop me from working out. When I got to the gym I checked my face and the bottom half was definitely red. I worried I looked like a ventriloquist’s dummy but I sucked it up and got on the elliptical. The allergy stuff wasn’t going to kick in for at least two more hours so I kept my head down and made as little eye contact as possible. Actually, I do that every time I go to the gym so I wasn’t acting out of the ordinary, haha.

After my workout, I went to the grocery store and picked up something different for breakfast. I came home and looked at the ingredients on the food that betrayed me, and sure enough, it had real fruit. I’m an idiot for not checking this before I started eating them every day, which was two months ago. I can only guess how I was able to eat them this long. With the fruits in dried form, maybe it takes longer to get to me?

At least this will force me to eat something healthy in the morning. I should have been all along. The truth is, I’m a creature of habit. Buying a box of Pop Tarts was an impulse and then quickly became a habit. Plus, I LIKE them. Whatever I choose to eat for breakfast always becomes an everyday thing. I don’t have time in the morning to think too much about food. I certainly don’t have enough time to eat anything that takes a lot of prep.

Now, the Claritin is doing its job. My face isn’t red, and my bottom lip and chin aren’t swollen or burning anymore. I still feel it a bit in my fingers, but it will go away soon. If it doesn’t, I guess it will be doctor time.

The really sad part for me is my tea. I drink a cup every day while I eat breakfast. For all I know, it contributed to what happened. Tea is high in salicylates. I have been drinking it anyway because I did build up a tolerance. I knew eventually it would probably betray me too but I was hoping it would take a long time. Giving up my daily caffeine is terrifying! I may have to anyway.

I hope this time I’ve learned my lesson!

 

Everything Update – January 23, 2017

Writing: It’s all about flash fiction. I’ve been utilizing word prompts almost every day and I’m happy to report they are working for me. In the last week or so I wrote several super short stories. Some I shared and some I held back. (Click a title if you would like to read the ones I’ve posted: The Smudge, Ashes, The Cycle, & Peaches).

There are two I’m not sure I like. One of them is simply ridiculous and the other is not quite a story, but I still find it interesting. I might put them up together. Another is still only bones but I’ll add the meat to it today before trying to write a new one.

My goal is to write as many short stories this year as I can, at least one a week, preferably more.

I’m completely out of novel mode but I’m okay with it. Burnout was on the horizon and I needed to do something different. Besides, with all these short stories, I might end up with one growing into a book length story.

Reading: I’m still reading The Sword of Truth Series. Book six is…challenging. I don’t like what’s happening. I’m unhappy about the development of one of the main characters and I’m bored with the excessive world building. If I see the words ‘wayward pine’ one more time I might scream. That’s a lie, I’ll probably only groan.

The biggest problem I’m having with this book, and the two before it, is the female main character is becoming unlikable. No matter how many times her husband is proven right, she never agrees with him, never believes he’s making good choices, and always wants to do the exact opposite of what he says they should. There are scenes where she acknowledges that no matter how odd his decisions may be, he’s been in the right every time. Yet she still argues!

It’s driving me nuts. The husband, who is the overall main character, almost always gives in to her wishes, even though he feels he’s right, and he’s the leader of a country. He’ll have a ton of inner dialog about how he just wants her to be happy, but he worries he’s making the wrong decision by giving in. He is. Every time.

How can I like these characters if they don’t learn and grow?

Still, I’m sticking with the series because I am doing this for research. Already I realized I have a character who always feels sorry for himself but doesn’t do anything to fix it. I might not have noticed how extreme this problem is if not for the flaws I found in the characters in these books.

As writers, we should always read and learn something about writing from every book we pick up.

Medical: I went to the pain doctor for a follow-up from my nerve burn procedure. It didn’t really help. Before they could offer I said I had no interest in pain medication. They said in that case, all I can do is wait until March, when I have a CT scan and see the neurosurgeon again. The suspicion is I’m healing very slow from my spinal fusion surgery and/or one of the screws could have loosened. Scary and frustrating stuff.

I still go to the gym almost every day. I’ve upped the intensity on a few things but still don’t push too much. I wish I could workout harder. I’m only keeping steady, not making real progress. I shouldn’t complain. Going to the gym does help with the pain. I just wish I could do more. I’d love to be more fit, toned. I don’t want to get giant muscles, but I would like some definition.

One thing I’ve been negligent about is the home exercises I learned in physical therapy. I’m getting back on track though. I just need to accept that I will be doing this forever.

Everything else: I’m obsessed with Rogue One and The Force Awakens. As of Friday I’m the proud owner of a Jyn Erso Funko Pop figure. She stands in front of my other Funko Pops: old Han Solo and Rey. Behind them is my Pez Death Star tin. Soon I will frame my 8 x 11 prints of C3PO, R2D2, and BB8.

I want to make one wall in my house a nerdy wall. The whole family would be welcome to put whatever franchise stuff they want on it. The only problem is it would soon be covered with Adventure Time and Stephen Universe (which I despise). I’ll have to give in though. It wouldn’t be a family nerd wall if it was only the stuff I like. Maybe I’ll divide it into sections. Once we have stuff up, I’ll take a picture and post it.

We got an old, but new to us car. My ex-husband bought himself a new car and didn’t trade in the old one because he was hoping one of the kids would want it. My oldest has a car and the others don’t drive. Seriously, one is 21 and the other just turned 20 but they don’t drive. My daughter has zero interest. She didn’t even finish driver’s ed. The other is almost interested but it will be a slow learning process.

So, the ex brought the car to me to use until one of them decides to adult. It has its problems. One of the seat belts in the back is broken. The brakes are squishy and need to be fixed. We had to replace brake light bulbs. Toothpaste and elbow grease fixed the foggy looking headlight covers. The outside looks fine, but the inside is torn all to hell. But, a free car is a free car.

My husband’s car is junkyard bound so he’s driving the ‘new’ one for now. The ex said he’d rather it be driven than sit in someone’s driveway. Regardless of the condition, it’s pretty cool. I’ve never been given a car before, so I’m not complaining.

I’ve been organizing. Normally this means I’m making a giant mess while making things better eventually. Not this time. I’m doing it slowly and just skipping to the better part. I reserve the right to still make a mess when I tackle the closet though!

There’s not much else going on. Just life. I’ll update again soon and post a few more stories sometime this week.

 

Everything Update – 12/26/2016

Writing #1 (the bad stuff): Apparently my muse is a Grinch. I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot trying to find some inspiration for flash fiction stories. Nothing came to me at first so I looked at writing prompts. That was when my muse made her true nature clear.

All the prompts in the reader are Christmas related. UGH! I like the holidays and all but I don’t want to write about it. I already wrote a Santa story (click here to read it). I’m ready to move on!

My real problem is a bad case of writer’s funk. It’s different from writer’s block because I can write, but there is nothing I want to write about. I’m not even sure I want to write. I know I should so I keep trying but I only have tiny spurts of creativity. Otherwise, my muse is hiding (and waiting for the holidays to end).

This is not to say I’ll have better luck once all the decorations are taken down and everyone stops blogging about Christmas. This funk won’t simply disappear on a certain date.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to do, what I want to do. My plan for now is to try to write flash fiction. No ideas have hit me so far today but I’ll have some eventually. Or I’ll make them. Ideas are cheap when it comes down to it. I just have to find a way to make some work for me.

What I’m really fighting is apathy, brought on by burnout. I know I’ll get through this but for now it sucks!

Writing #2 (the great stuff): I will be attending the West Texas Writer’s Academy (WTWA) next year. I’ve wanted to go for a long time now and finally it will happen. In October they offered a chance to win a scholarship. I had to write an essay, under 200 words, on why I wanted to write.

The essay was so hard to write! If you’ve ever read anything on my blog, or even just this post, you know I’m wordy. The idea of keeping it so short terrified me. Then came the fear i wasn’t saying anything right. I wrote one and thought it was silly, then changed it. The next attempt was too serious, more changed. Finally I simply started over.

I wrote about the things and people who stopped me from writing for too many years. I spoke about how my experiences, especially the bad ones, made me more determined to write now. I called those years my writing boot camp. Then I said nothing would stop me now and I want to learn everything I can and add to my toolbox as much as possible.

After I wrote it, I edited the hell out of it. I remember at one point I hit undo a bunch of times and in the end, most of this third attempt stayed intact, with only minor changes. I was surprised but shouldn’t have been since it came from the heart. The words poured out with no fears or concerns. I emailed it then sat there and cried and shook, in the middle of Starbucks haha.

My nerves were a wreck! Not once did I think I would win the scholarship but I desperately wanted to. So I spent the rest of the day freaking out then tried not to think about it much. The deadline was December 15 (my birthday) so I had plenty of time to ‘forget’ about it. There was no sense in stressing for almost two straight months.

On my birthday I thought about it for a moment then shut it away. I knew by this point they weren’t announcing the winner until January so I tried not to get worked up.

The on December 20 I got an email. The notification popped up on my screen. It showed a small portion of the email and who it was from. I thought my heart would stop. My hand hovered over the mouse, too afraid to look at it. Logically I knew what it said and why I received it but I was too busy calming my nerves to be logical!

As you’ve probably guessed, I won the scholarship. I read the message at least ten times before I moved. Then I burst into tears! I took a picture of the email and sent it to my husband because for once I didn’t have the words to tell him what happened. I sat there crying for a few minutes then went into the living room and told two of my kids. They didn’t know what to do because I was crying and laughing and trying to explain. They got the explanation but they rarely have seen my cry so didn’t know how to handle it, haha.

When I started talking I was having difficulty. My sixteen year old daughter was staring at me with a look of horror/concern until I said they were good tears. It made me laugh when she visibly relaxed. I must have looked like I was having some kind of breakdown.

They congratulated me and I left the room but I couldn’t sit back down, I was too…something. Excited isn’t quite the right word, though I felt it too. Shocked is a closer description.

My other daughter heard the story shortly afterward, once I realized she was awake. I guess I didn’t say it very quietly because my oldest son heard it at the same time, as I woke him up talking near his door.

Eventually I told the people in my writing group and called my mom. I know I talked so fast she barely understood me!

As I came down from the high of finding out I won, weird things started happening. I wondered if I deserved it. I kept thinking my essay wasn’t good enough for me to be picked. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I tossed those stupid, destructive thoughts out the window! I didn’t just win, I earned it! I wasn’t about to let anyone, not even myself, ruin it.

So next summer I’ll attend a week-long intensive writing class. I know how to write, but like I said earlier, I’m eager to add to my writing tool box. I can’t wait!

Medical: My back hurts, so nothing new. On Friday I’ll have the second procedure I’ve talked about before. A couple of weeks ago they did the right side, now they’ll do the left. There has to be eleven days between the two procedures and my doctor was on vacation for Christmas week. Otherwise I’d already be done. Thankfully this one is happening this year so I don’t have to mess with a deductible.

This won’t be a permanent fix but any relief is welcome at this point. I’m sure this is part of why I’m in my writing funk. Chronic pain drags a person down. It doesn’t matter how sunny your personality is, eventually it all gets to you.

Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon. My mother (and the rest of my family) would laugh at me using the word ‘normal’ to describe myself so maybe I should say I’ll get back to myself again.

Reading: I’m doing this a lot more than I planned on lately. With my back giving me so much trouble, I’ve been forced to spend a good portion of every day lying down, which I hate. So I read in twenty-minute increments then get up.

Also, hot baths help relieve the massive muscles spasms my back gifts me with so I read in the tub too. This I don’t mind at all!

I’m re-reading The Sword of Truth series. It’s not my favorite but I’m enjoying it anyway. It’s so complex, with a million side stories and enough twists and turns to make your head spin. Just how I like it. I feel like I’m learning a lot from how the author writes.

His transitions are really good (so far) and most of the time his descriptions are delightfully sparse. Unlike this blog post, he doesn’t overdo it with adverbs. I’m not sure how I feel about his characterizations but overall I’m glad I chose to read this series again.

I’m afraid to read anything new since I’m already having trouble writing. If this were a new to me series, all I would do is read it. Books are my catnip (I can’t say they are my drug because I hate drugs).

Everything else: Christmas was good. We went to my mom’s house on Christmas eve for lunch. It was nice because there was family there I see only once a year or less. The rest of my extended family I only see a few times a year because I’m a homebody these days.

My husband had to work that day, which sucked. He was off on Christmas day though. It worked out that the kids went off elsewhere at lunch so I spent the whole day just hanging out with the hubby. We did a whole lot of nothing and it was perfect. I needed a nice relaxing day and so did he.

Right before Christmas I saw Rogue One. My review is simple: I loved it.

My youngest daughter (my clone) got me into watching Chuck so I think it will be my new binge. The first day of her vacation from school I sat in the living room for hours watching it with her. My back was killing me but we were both happy.

There’s nor really anything else to tell for now. I’ll post an update again after my procedure. Not that day, as I’ll probably be asleep. Hopefully I’ll have a writing update, or new piece of fiction posted before then!