Reading

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!

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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!

Everything Update – September 2, 2017

Sorry for the long gap in between posts. The past month was a busy one. I went on a long vacation, school started, and my brother had surgery. I haven’t been in a mental space that allows for much writing. I hope to change that starting now.

Writing: As mentioned above, I haven’t written much this month. I did a little work while on vacation, but until this week, it’s been sparse and sporadic.

Yesterday while grocery shopping I needed to take a break from walking around, so I sat down at a table in store and pulled out my notebook. I wrote down every major scene from the first book in my middle-grade series with the intention of finding gaps. In the process, I came up with eight new scenes and managed to discard a few (too bad I already wrote those).

It was nice to have communication with my muse again. I will capitalize on that today and continue to do so until the book is finished!

I’ll admit I got distracted twice, but I still managed to accomplish the goal I set for myself. The two distractions were my oldest son who works at that store and started his break while I was writing. The other was sitting a couple of tables in front of me. My ex-sister-in-law, who hates me, was there with a group of people.

When I saw her, I inwardly groaned but kept working. When she saw me, the conversation she was having with her friends switched to what appeared to be a tirade about me. I’m human and can’t stand the woman, so I admit to being amused. I’m almost positive she inspired one of the new scenes, haha.

While I plan to work on this series, it’s no surprise other story ideas pop up again. There was one that tried to take over, but I jotted down everything I could think of about it and went back to the fairy story.

Also Writing: I miss my writing group. It’s been a month since I’ve seen everyone and I can’t wait to get back to it!

Reading: I tried to stick to only urban fantasies but The Wheel of Time pulled in for a reread. It was inevitable after I read eight books in as many days in the same urban series. It was great, but I was overloaded. I figured re-reading anything was in order.

I still plan to pick up more urban fantasy books but perhaps not while I’m working on a middle-grade fantasy series.

Medical: My back hurts. It will continue to hurt until I give in and have another fusion. Even then it will probably still give me problems. So I’m resisting for as long as I can. That is all about that pesky subject!

Family: My oldest brother was diagnosed with prostate cancer. They told him it was stage 2, but when they did further tests, they found some cells were stage 3. He had surgery on August 28. It was also the first day of school, so the day was pretty stressful for our entire family. A group of us sat in the waiting room trying to make each other laugh. We succeeded a bit, but it was definitely forced.

The doctor said with a ‘magnified eye’ the cancer looked contained (they feared it had spread) but we won’t know for sure until the pathology report comes in, which could be as soon as Tuesday.

Blogging: My goal for this month is to post to this blog more often. I would like to get back to regular weekly posts on Wednesday, and anytime I think I have something to say. As you can tell from this post, I’m out of practice. I would go back and fix all my passive sentences, but then I’d have to work on it all day!

Everything Else: I love the fall. Many good movies and books come out. Number one of both is Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. Also The Core, by Peter Brett. Wonder woman on Blu-ray and Thor at the theaters are both on my list.

Sometime this week I have to clean off my desk. When I say clean what I really mean is take everything off, dust, clean with window cleaner (it’s glass, I hate it), then rearrange everything as I put it back on (or put elsewhere). The arranging extends to the three large shelves above and my bookshelves across the room. Add in the stuff I piled up on the closet floor to be gone through, and it will be a massive project for me.

My gym is taking gently used clothing to send to Houston, so I need to go through my three large bins full of clothing either too small or too big for me. I don’t plan to ever need the larger size and reality tells me I won’t fit into the smaller ones again, so why am I keeping them when there are women displaced by the hurricane who desperately need them.

I live in what we call west Texas, but it’s more north-west, near the panhandle. Houston is 520 miles from me, so we were not affected by Harvey, but I weep for those who were. It’s sad and horrifying. Yet there is hope. So many people stepped up to rescue others, risking their own lives in the process. There are so many volunteers that many are turned away. Donations are pouring in from businesses, celebrities, sports teams, and everyday people.

I’m not a spokesperson for anything, but I would urge everyone to do whatever you can to help in this time of crisis. Even as simple as donation points for hotel reward programs can make a difference.

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 – 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 – 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

Writing Personal: I’ll save writing for the end of the post so I don’t humiliate myself immediately. I’m going on vacation soon. I’ll be in another state for a week and a half. The regular Wednesday and Saturday posts will go up but I’m not sure I will be able to post anything else while I’m gone.

We’re going to New Jersey to visit my husband’s family. We’ll also spend a couple of days in Philadelphia. I’ve never been there (with the exception of the airport and a drive through on the way to the beach). We’re going to do touristy things like go to the zoo, the aquarium and the art museum. I’ll buy silly souvenirs for my kids and take massive amounts of pictures.

There is a chance I’ll post some of these photos if I fall in love any of them but I doubt anyone wants to see hundreds of shots of historical sites and ocean life.

Also, my husband says there is an abandoned summer camp near his parent’s house. I’m crossing my fingers we can get in there so I can take creepy pictures.

Photography: Speaking of photos, I’ve taken close to none lately. It was a choice but not one I wanted to make. Since I’m in physical therapy I decided I better not do anything to mess with it. I’m putting in a lot of hard work and I don’t want to sabotage my efforts by getting down on the pavement to take pictures of bugs or climb through foliage to find just the right shot and end up hurting myself.

The last time I pulled out the camera was the 4th of July. Most of those photos were of family. I really should edit those and send them out the people I told I would. Maybe after vacation.

Physical Therapy: Honestly, I don’t know how it’s going. In the beginning there was slow and steady progress. Then I felt like I hit a plateau. They increased the intensity on a couple of things but my back was in a phase of wanting to cause trouble so we didn’t push too far. The last two times I went I asked for more weights on a couple of exercises and it worked out well. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this.

I also don’t think it’s helping the way my neurosurgeon hoped it would. I know he didn’t really think it would do the trick. I suspect he wanted me to try it just in case it worked.

At a recent appointment with the pain management doctor I was told something I didn’t want to hear but was also relieved to find out. After physical therapy if I still had pain they want to do another injection. The doctor said it will be more difficult (for him, not me) because of the fusion but ‘could’ work for me.

The relief was due to remembering the surgeon’s concern about the disk above the fusion. If none of this works I either put up with the pain (says the woman with the minuscule amount of pain tolerance) or start down the surgery road again. The first few weeks after the fusion were the worst of my life (pain-wise) so I hope to avoid going there again.

Reading: I finally finished the quad I’ve tried to read for months. I’ll probably start something new while on vacation when there is downtime and on the plane.

How did I find the time to read? Well, that brings me to my biggest problem…

Writing: What writing? My muse is MIA with no hint of where she went, how she’s avoiding detection or when she’ll be back. I use the word ‘she’ because she is me and I refuse to use the word ‘it’ when referring to my creativity.

I don’t know if I’m simply flighty or if this is a true case of writer’s block. Sometimes I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think it’s possible to be blocked on certain stories but there are always things to write about. They might not be the things you want to write but you can still write.

Other times, like the last couple of weeks, I believe you can be blocked from writing everything. This was the case for me. I tried working on my WIP. I attempted to plot a new story idea. I even searched through writing prompts – my own and others. Nothing worked. My lack of belief in writer’s block was tested.

Hell, I couldn’t even write a blog post until this one (which gives me hope)!

The one thing I have been able to do is think about writing. It didn’t get me doing the physical act but I know myself well enough to know there are seeds planted and eventually they will turn into words on a page.

There is one thing I believe will help the most with pulling me out of this slump. I’m not taking my laptop on vacation. I only packed one composition book, my Moleskine notebook and pocket journal. If I get inspired I will have to physically write stuff down. This is good for me. It’s a completely different creative process putting pen to paper than sitting staring at a screen.

I’ve tried writing freehand during this impasse and it didn’t work but I’ll be in a different environment for 9 days. Something is bound to happen. I live in the flattest place you can imagine with few trees and plenty of wide open spaces.

For a time I’ll be surrounded by hills and forest. I’ll visit historic sites and see animals that aren’t dogs and house cats. Maybe the abandoned boy scouts camp will inspire a creepy story or the threat of bears will make for a great suspenseful piece. My in-laws see bears in their backyard all the time so this is a real possibility and yes I’m terrified about it haha.

Street photography could bring up some ideas as well. Either way, the potential is there. Still, I type faster than I write with a pen. I hope to regret leaving my computer at home. I’d rather have the problem of too much to say to only use paper than the issues I’m having now.

Potential disaster/amazingness: The end of July and beginning of August every year is something I fear. Traditionally during this time something big happens, normally a bad and expensive something.

One year it was lightning striking the apartment we lived in and its subsequent destruction. The next year a lady destroyed our fence while trying to run down her husband with her car. There was the time we woke up to find our car had been totaled while parked in front of the house (something we normally don’t do). Last year my appendix tried its very hardest to rupture and I was forced to have emergency surgery while on vacation. Ugh, I could go on and on.

This year I’m due for something big and good to happen. Five years ago I married the most amazing man on the planet. It even rained on our wedding day. Not only is that considered good luck but it was during an awful drought and it was the first rain my area had in four months.

Since the good things seem to happen every five years, I’m hopeful. I’ll settle for a nice, uninterrupted vacation and the return of my muse.


Photo taken by me. I can’t believe I’m putting something up here with my awful handwriting! I wrote slow and this is as good as it gets. Also, look at the detail on the leather journal! I picked it up during an Art’s Festival in my home town. It was expensive and worth every penny. I was going to make the picture black and white, and I still might if I decide to use it again, but this first time I wanted it unedited so you all could see why I love this journal.

Sidenote: I’ve never had a Philly cheesesteak. I hate onions so I’m not going to get an authentic representation but I’ll try it and report back.

Another sidenote: It isn’t fiction but I just wrote almost 1400 words for this post. I think my muse is thinking about returning! That said, pardon the lengthy post!

Everything Update 7/12/2016

Writing: I’m struggling a bit. I want to write, I need to, but once again, names are distracting me from the actual act of writing. This time it’s place names. I started with placeholder names such as: the central realm, the desert city/state, the glass desert, the forgotten race’s valley, Vanaiya’s realm (west), the northern realm and the icy wastes.

I figured if some good names came to me I would find and replace those. There was no hurry as I know it’s hard for me to come up with the perfect names (yes, I overthink and I’m picky). However, today all I can think about are these places.

I’m logical/experienced enough to know this is fear. I’ve spent so much time preparing to write, I’m nervous about getting on with it.So my muse throws out new novel ideas, stuff from books I’ve put on hold, short story plot seeds, and now, after dodging those roadblocks, out comes the desire for details in this project. I don’t need to do this right now, but I want to!

Did I mention I also keep thinking about object and smaller place names? For example: the seaport town, the twin trading villages and the capitol. There is an important scepter in this work. At present I refer to it as the God Scepter. I’m not going to keep the name but it works for now. I also refer to a group of horses as the God Herd and where they live is the God Herd grazing grounds. There are several more places and items beginning with ‘God’ as well. Again, this is so I can go back later and just find/replace when I figure out their real names. I guess today could be the day.

Now I know some of you out there will be appalled these people, animals, places, and things didn’t have names from the beginning. First, we all write different and there is no correct way or order to do it. Second, this story is fairly sprawling and I was exciting to jump in. I didn’t want to spend weeks trying to figure out every detail first. Third. I started this story in 2003, back when I was still afraid to write and being actively discouraged from doing so. All I really wanted was to write as much as possible before I inevitably gave up on writing again. Thankfully I’ve changed and kicked the discourager (probably not a word) out of my life.

The story is nothing like the idea I had all those years ago, which is good. I’ve said this before and I maintain I was not good enough to write the story I wanted to write back then. Once I let myself just be a writer, the story evolved and now I can finally write it. I’m actually glad it was on the back-burner for so long as my fear has lessened while my skill has grown. If I’d stuck with it I wouldn’t have written 80 short stories and 12 novels (at various degrees of completion).

So back to the names issue. I don’t know what I’ll do about it. Maybe I’ll spend some time this morning trying to figure out a few and then try to write some scenes involving whatever I’ve named. I might do some short stories involving these places/things just to give me a feel for what they want to be named. If I do, I’ll post some soon.

What is clear is I’m not ready to jump just writing the story today. At least not in a linear fashion. Perhaps if I jump around to write about my trouble places or items, I can trick my muse. If you are also a writer then you know you can’t bully a muse. It has to be enticed, cajoled, placated or tricked. If you’re not a writer, trust me on this. Forcing one’s muse is a good way to ensure writer’s block.

I definitely will not be working on any other project. The triple E story is calling to me but it will have to wait. Even The Order of Life is trying to worm its way into my head but I’m shutting it down. Today is The Glass Desert day, no matter what part of it I do.

Photography: I decided not to do the advanced photography class until after my vacation. With my writing work in progress going mostly well, I know I won’t have time to dedicate to an involved class. I believe the next time it’s available is September. That’s actually perfect because by then my kid will be back in school and I should (fingers crossed) be finished with the first draft of my novel and hopefully be working on revision.

I signed up for a Photoshop and a Lightroom class. Both start right before my vacation but they are work at your own pace classes so it will be fine. What is not fine is my copy of Lightroom is the devil. It won’t load, it won’t uninstall and I can’t figure out how to fix it. I’ve tried so many things I want to scream. Hmm, perhaps this annoyance is why I’m so distracted with my writing today. I shouldn’t have tried with the damn program again this morning.

I haven’t been out to take pictures in weeks but I have the very best excuse. I live in west Texas (south plains, but more northern), and it’s been hot. We’ve had days top out at 109, but mostly around 105. I’m not only a wimp in the heat (look up weird facts about redheads) but I also burn easily, even with sunscreen on. No picture is worth that!

Reading: I read a little last week but not what I thought I would. I have a novel by a friend to read but I was in the middle of a long series when I got it. I had put the series down but when I wasn’t feeling good last week I picked it back up. One day I read half a book. I never have time to read that much!

I read for 15 minutes twice a week after physical therapy when they hook me up to the stim machine and have me lay on the hottest heating pad thing on the planet (and if I’m early I read in the waiting room). If my back starts hurting during the day while I’m at home, I’ll pick up my book and read for 10-20 minutes while I lay down. If I have an appointment I’ll take a book and read while sitting there. Oh and occasionally for a bit before bed. That’s it. The rest of my time alone is spent working on my own book. It was nice to read a little more than normal though.

Working out: I still go to the gym every day, except the day I was feeling so yicky last week and I haven’t gone yet today. Since I’m still in physical therapy I only do cardio, mostly on an elliptical, but occasionally I get on the recumbent bike. To keep from hurting my back I do 10 minutes at a time, then pace around for a minute or two. I always do at least two sets of that time but the third depends on how I’m feeling. If I feel no pain I do another 10 minutes or get on the bike for five (it hurts my tailbone to do longer).

If I do the bike then I tend to get back on the elliptical afterward for 6 minutes. If I’m in pain then, depending on how much, I either stop or do one more set for 6-8 minutes.

It’s so complicated with back pain. Sometimes the pain means I haven’t done enough and other times it’s too much. I can normally tell the difference but I’ve been wrong and in this case, being wrong seriously sucks!

Physical Therapy: Speaking of sucks, PT is not going well. In the beginning I felt pain from between my shoulder blades down to my surgical site (lowest disk). The higher pain is only occasional now but the mid back pain (muscular) is about the same. The lower back pain hasn’t gotten better since the initial week or two. Therapy works but only to a point. I’m almost at 6 weeks and I’m disheartened at the fact that it no longer works for me.

I did have a little setback when one of the therapist did some stuff that hurt me. I’m hoping this is the issue because a setback doesn’t mean I’m done, it only means I have to keep going a little longer. However, I don’t believe it’s the problem, but we’ll see. Oh, and that guy won’t even look at me now.

Other Writing: NO! At least not for today. I’m sticking to my WIP! Maybe later in the week I’ll try to write some flash fiction. What I need is some really good ideas or writing prompts. Even my own prompts aren’t working for me. I think I’m simply not in flash fiction mode.

Everything else: I got to see my Grandmother last night. I don’t see her very often so it was great. I’m in pain from sitting on her couch, which desperately needs to be replaced but it was worth it. Actually, that couch is the reason I went out to write before going to work out. I was getting ready and kept thinking maybe I would just work out and go home. Then I thought maybe I would just stay home. These thoughts kept evolving, making me stand in the middle of my bedroom hesitating.

When I realized there was a chance I might do only one thing this morning, I chose writing. If I don’t go to the gym I’ll survive because I have physical therapy today. I’m due for them to make it harder anyway. If I didn’t write, well, everything from writer’s guilt to getting further behind would be the result. Not happening! So I took some Tylenol and got in the car.

Before I started writing I caught a Pokemon lol. I got curious so I downloaded the silly game. The one I caught was sitting on my laptop. I took it as a sign to put the phone down and get to work!

My daughters are playing the game and since I’m a cool mom, I took the youngest around to all the stops so she could get stuff, which meant I got stuff too! I won’t play for long but for now it’s cute and fun.


WR

 

 

Update-ish

I haven’t written a thing since Friday. Well, that’s not completely accurate. I did do a bit  of plotting on a new story on the 4th but I’m not counting it because it wasn’t for my WIP and it was maybe 10 minutes of writing out plot cards.

It all started with my husband taking Saturday off. He’s normally off on Sundays and July 4th was a holiday. So he was home much more than normal. I don’t write much, if any, when he’s home. Partly because it’s a change in routine and partly because I want to spend the time with him.

My mother had a family barbecue at her house on Monday we spent eight hours there. She has a pool but I didn’t want to swim. I spent most of my time either inside doing not much, or roaming around taking pictures periodically. I’m not really an outdoors kind of soul but I wanted to be around the family members I don’t get to see very often. So I sucked it up and ventured out a bit while the sun was out, getting my yearly dose of vitamin D. Once it was dark I spent more time outside.

While there I kept having story ideas. For the wrong story. I’m considering writing a serial here on my blog and That story kept rearing its, as of yet, unformed head. It doesn’t have a name yet, I refer to it as E, E, & E. The ideas I have for it are intriguing but I’m trying to stick with my current work in progress. E3 seems determined to intrude.

If I believed I could work on both I would. Perhaps pick one day a week to dedicate to the E’s and the rest of the days I write I could concentrate on my trilogy. The problem is I don’t believe I can do it.

Too many things have pulled me away from my WIP and I want to finish it, at least the first book, before I get sidetracked! My muse has other ideas. I’ll keep you updated on the battle I’m waging with myself.

My husband is off on Wednesdays (which is a new thing and I’m still adjusting), so that left this past Tuesday to write. I didn’t. I only came up with the prompts for Write Anything Wednesday and scheduled it.

I probably could have found some time to write but the day was what I like to call ‘a day.’ It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. I had to go to physical therapy early due to also having to go to court. I normally do PT at 3 pm so it was strange. Also, the back pain is worse in the mornings and evenings. That is why I normally work out in the morning, since it helps with the pain so much.

Therapy, theoretically, should have helped that morning. However, I didn’t take into account the eight hours sitting on couches, recliners, and lounge chairs at my mom’s house. So therapy was hard, painful and didn’t help at all. It was bad enough that they didn’t make me do certain exercises I always do because I wasn’t tolerating others. I did everything they asked but I guess my face showed what I was feeling.

After the torture session I went home to eat lunch and change before leaving for court. It was really just a check-in for my ex-husband because he’s so behind on child support. To my surprise it went well but those benches in the courtroom suck.

By the time it was over I was useless. I drove home, got into my Batman PJ’s and read. For a very long time. I don’t actually know how long but I read half a book. I didn’t even like it but I kept reading.

I should have tried to write yesterday. I rarely work on my novel but I try to write short stuff or free write on Wednesdays. I haven’t done it since my husband’s schedule changed, giving him Wednesday off.

So here I am, in my favorite writing spot, writing a blog post. This might not be a story but it’s making me happy to do it. It’s funny how one can seriously miss writing when life gets in the way. I don’t know what I’ll work on today but I’m thrilled to have the chance to work at all.

I have two hours to write as much as possible. Wish me luck, I probably need it!

Sidenote: I actually did do some writing while waiting for court to begin on Tuesday. It wasn’t much, just figuring out how each character is introduced in the E, E & E story. I’m going to count it!


WR

Everything Update

I couldn’t write a story for today’s story a day September challenge so I’m doing an update instead. Why couldn’t I write a story you ask? The prompt asked for an ending to a story. When I started this challenge I added a restriction for myself to only write flash fiction. I figured if I only stuck with short stuff then I would have the time to do a story every day, which has worked. Obviously I could post the ending to one of those pieces but my style of flash fiction is to end with a twist or surprise. Posting an ending like that doesn’t make sense to me and I wouldn’t want to give any of my twists so I’m passing on the prompt for today. Also I went to the dentist today (along with every member of my family – 6 of us, so ALL morning), so anything I come up with would consist of pain, scraping and the sound of drills.

On with the update!

Writing: I’ve written a story a day for a challenge, with the exception of today. On some days I’ve written an extra story, which is a great bonus for me. After having emergency surgery last month and all these back troubles any writing makes me happy. The reason I took the challenge was to get myself back to daily writing. It’s still hard to sit at the computer for any length of time but after going through a period where I physically couldn’t do it at all makes me appreciate that I can do it now. I’m going to have this pain for a while to come and I’m tired of it deciding everything for me. I can push through at least some.

Writing/Nanowrimo: I’m putting my crazy hat back on in November and doing Nanowrimo. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, basically it’s a made up competition you have with yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Sound nuts? It is and I swore I wouldn’t do it again. What happens when you become obsessed with meeting that ridiculous word count is you write crap. Sentences that could be 5-8 words long suddenly become 20-25 words and when you read it later all you can think is how it would sound better if it were five fracking words! I had decided I would rather have quality over quantity. However, I realized a few things since griping about this last year.

  1. All first drafts are crap. It may be for different reasons than overzealous sentences but they are still junk. So I took that argument off the plate.
  2. I am capable of writing 1667 words a day. I proved it by winning Nanowrimo last year. I might as well do it again (hopefully).
  3. When I participated last year I wrote every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY! I know I’ve gotten into that habit again but it wouldn’t hurt to reinforce it.
  4. I got involved in activities with other writers.  Even simply being around other writers for a couple of hours was beneficial. I don’t know if I was picking up on writery vibes floating around the room or if it was subtle, yet positive peer pressure but I was more focused and more creative than ever before.
  5. Lastly, I figured out I don’t care if I win. I know I said I could win again but I’m saying I don’t have to. I’ll be happy to get however many words I get. It’s the other benefits I’m looking for this year.

I decided what story I will write for November. I’ve got a basic plot mapped out with index cards and I’ll do some more planning in October. I’m not known for being a planner but a little goes a long way when you’re trying to write that many words in such a short time. More on that story sometime in October but until then click here for a small sampling of the story.

Health Junk: I’m almost finished with physical therapy for my back issues. It’s not working. It has made me stronger (and incredibly sore) and able to be more active but it certainly didn’t fix the problem. I go to the pain doctor at the end of the month and we’ll see what steps to take next. It looks like I’ll have to have a horrible injection designed to recreate my specific pain. If it works then the doctor will know I’m a good candidate for the surgery. If it doesn’t then I’m screwed and keep doing pain management. I never thought I’d say I hope I have surgery but I truly am hoping for it.

Reading: I’m still rereading all the Shannara books. I have a few books on my to read pile that I think I’ll like much better but I’m determined to finish what I started. Only seven more to go, ugh! I will probably read Brian McClellan next, if not then Anthony Ryan. Maybe I’ll finally write another review!

Photography: Nothing to report here.