Update

Everything Update

Writing: I’m technically signed up for Camp Nanowrimo but haven’t written at all in July. I made some notes but that’s it.

I bought Save the Cat and snowflake method books a couple of months ago. I tried so hard with the snowflake but I despise the book format so much I can’t get through it. I don’t want to read about how Goldilocks did it!

As for Save the Cat, so far I’ve gotten a little out of it but haven’t read very far in. I’m quite distracted by something else. More on that later.

I still plan on trying to do some writing this month, even if only for a short time every day (every writing day, not seven days a week). We’ll see if I can manage it. I don’t know why I’m struggling to get back into it, besides my distraction, but I’ll keep working towards a regular writing schedule.

New Hobby: On to what is distracting me. Sewing! If you knew me well this would shock you. I’m not exactly the ‘crafty’ type. Get a hot glue gun near me and I’ll feel threatened. Ask me to make a wreath to save my life and I’m dead. Paper crafts? Forget it! Sewing is different. It is not a craft in my eyes. It is a useful skill. It took me thirty years or so to come to this conclusion.

It all started with masks. I wanted my family to have some so I cut up some old T-shirts and got out some needles and thread. They took forever! Surprisingly, they turned out okay. I made some for a friend and then tried different patterns. Through it all, I was having fun. Fun with sewing. What the hell? How could I possibly have so much fun with something so…girly?

Then one day I randomly had an epiphany. Who gives a shit if I like something girly? Pardon the language but since it’s a quote I typed it word for word. I’d secretly been considering getting a sewing machine for a few days by that point. By secretly I mean I wasn’t admitting it to myself. I started looking at prices online.

Not long after my evening of research, I was at Walmart and I went into the fabric section. Sitting on a shelf, all by itself, was a sewing machine. I knew they had been selling out all over town so I followed the siren call and walked over. It was the one I’d more or less decided I would get, eventually. I seriously thought I’d be getting one in a couple of months. I even reminded myself of this as I put the box in my cart.

Floodgates open, I roamed the area and picked up everything else I thought I would need to get started. The last time I did any sewing was thirty years ago. I knew the basics but obviously, I was rusty, or so I believed.

You know the saying “it’s like riding a bicycle?” Applicable. I took to it as easily as I could have possibly imagined. I really thought it would be hard but it wasn’t. That’s not to say I haven’t had issues. You would laugh at my first zipper attempts. I still need practice with those.

The first things I made were masks, which were a thousand times better than my hand-sewn attempts. I bought fabric and made new styles and got good at it. To date, I’ve made some for everyone in my immediate family, my parents, in-laws, my best friend (who was patient as I tried many styles out on him), a few of my son’s coworkers, several of my husband’s coworkers, and most recently my brother and sister-in-law.

My sister-in-law posted a picture on Facebook of her and my brother wearing masks at the gym and said it was torture. I noticed the one my brother was wearing was ill-fitting and hers appeared too thick.

Of course, I pulled out my phone and texted her. She asked if I had black fabric. Miraculously I did (it’s so hard to get), so I got to work. I made two different styles that I thought would be better to work out in than what they had and I dropped them off on their porch (I believe in social distancing).

About half an hour later I got a very excited text from her. She loved the masks and she wanted me to make some for five of her family members. Yes, I was flattered. More importantly, I’m happy that she and my brother can work out more comfortably.

Also, for the last week or so, I’ve been making masks to send to New Jersey. My mother-in-law asked if I’d like to make some to sell in her shop. I told her I’d make up a few of each style and send them to see how it goes. I’ll finish those today or tomorrow. I’m also making her and my father-in-law a new style of mask. They both had trouble finding ones they liked, which prompted me to send the first ones to them. They like those but these other ones might work better.

If the ones I’m making to sell do well then I’ll bring more with me when we head up there to see them next month. We might have to get tested for Covid before we go since we live in Texas. That area requires people traveling from Texas to quarantine. It’s a mandate in New York. I don’t think it is in New Jersey but I’ll look into it.

Even if we just hang out at their house, we want to go. We only get to see them once a year. If we don’t go then by the time we see them again it will have been two years. Not on option unless the state flat out bans travelers.

I couldn’t blame them if they did. A lot of the people in my state have behaved as if they don’t have a brain. It seems like half of them won’t wear a mask just because someone told them to. Okay, toddlers. It’s not oppression it’s just inconvenience.

Anyway, so now sewing is my official hobby. It’s my second hobby ever. My first was writing back when I began but it became more than a hobby a long time ago. I haven’t had a real hobby for a long time. I play video games but I do it on and off with my husband. Sewing is a solo thing.

I adore it. I hope to get good enough to make shirts. I don’t know why shirts specifically but there you have it. I’ll do it. It will be a slow process but I’ll get there.

Sidenote: I’m taking my sewing machine with me on vacation. I’m making Christmas gifts for everyone in my family and I have a lot of relatives. Two weeks of no sewing would be a disaster. Plus, I just want to, haha.

Medical: Things aren’t terrible. I had an injection not too long ago. I still have bad back days but it’s been worse so I try not to complain too much. Leaning over my sewing doesn’t help but I’m learning ways to make it all work.

Back in August, I switched nerve pain meds. Since that time I’ve lost over twenty pounds! I knew that stupid medication was keeping that weight on. I didn’t change anything about my lifestyle, with the exception of NOT going to the gym anymore due to Covid, so I know it was the medication change.

I couldn’t be happier. It’s a happy hassle to have to go buy new clothes. I’ve picked up T-shirts here and there but still need pants. I had bought smaller pants a couple of months ago when I thought my weight was leveled out. Now they are also too big. Thanks to whoever invented belts.

I don’t mind continuing to wear those for a while. However, we’re going on vacation. Jeans aren’t going to cut it. So sometime soon I’ll get out and find some shorts and maybe capri-pants. A couple more tees and some tanks. I don’t want to spend a lot because I can’t guarantee I’ll stay at my current weight. I hope so, it’s a really healthy weight for me. Almost ideal actually.

Once upon a time, I was underweight. All my life until I had babies. People always asked me if I was eating. Boy was I! I had a high metabolism and could eat whatever I wanted. While I miss the latter I don’t miss the former. I didn’t like myself too skinny. I look and Am more healthy now.

Everything Else: Life isn’t so bad right now. My husband is an essential worker so life didn’t change a lot with the pandemic. The sucky part is I don’t see most of my kids very often and I miss visiting my mom and my grandma. But I will do whatever is needed to protect them. My grandma is 90 years old. For all I know I’m a carrier. So I call her instead of seeing her. I’ve seen my mom a couple of times but mostly we stick to the phone.

My writing group started doing Zoom calls so I get a tiny bit of social-ness once a week. There will be Skype calls for camp Nanowrimo all month (though I missed the first one because I was dizzy last night).

I managed to get a haircut for the first time since August. I was scared to get out but I’m growing my hair out and it was a mess. I needed professional help. I picked a place I knew would enforce all the mandates and risked it. Everyone in the place had a mask and I saw a lot of cleaning going on. I was quite impressed with the measures they took. That said, I won’t risk getting another haircut for a long time. My hair is past my chin right now and my goal is just shy of my shoulders. I can afford to put off doing anything until then.

My husband and I are on binging kicks. We watched every Star Wars movie and show (except Resistance, bleh) in timeline order. Then we moved onto Harry Potter, which we finished last night. I’m not sure what we’ll do next but I did manage to get him to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He didn’t hate it so I guess we’ll go back to that. He also agreed to watch the first episode of Orphan Black. I warned him it’s really weird but I think the pace of the show will pull him in. Whatever we watch, it’s a nice way for him to unwind after work without having to think about what we want to do.

That’s all I can think of for now. I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe.

I Never Said I Wanted To Live In Interesting Times

We’re living in crazy/interesting times, unfortunately. I hope all of you are doing well and staying safe. Everyone in my house is fine. My husband and the one progeny living with us are both essential workers, so our finances are the same as before. I count us quite lucky.

My other three kids live on their own. My oldest son has been out of a job for a while, but with Texas allowing retail businesses to open for curbside, he’ll go back to work on Friday. My two daughters live together, which saves one of them. The youngest is essential, and while she’s lost hours, she’s still working, and they can pay rent. The older is a host at a restaurant, so she’s furloughed. She sleeps a lot and makes masks.

I also made some masks. Unlike my daughter, I don’t have a sewing machine, so it’s a long painstaking (at least to my needle and pin poked fingers) process of hand stitching. The first one I made had the ugliest stitches, which no one can see (YAY)! The last one has stitches so straight you’d think I had a machine.

I’ve never been a crafty person, but sewing isn’t so bad. It’s a useful skill. I will buy a sewing machine in the near future and learn to use it properly. The last time I used one was in ninth grade. I also plan to learn to knit. I have some kits with easy instructions to get me started. I simply need to get over being intimidated.

Every time I venture out to the grocery store, I’m struck by two things. First, I get a lot of looks (some evil eye and some head shakers) for wearing a mask. These are people that think I’m an idiot. Second, there are a lot more people not wearing masks than are. In my opinion, these are the real idiots. No, me wearing a mask won’t protect me much. Though a little protection is better than none. I wear it to protect others. I’m not sick, but there is no way to know right now if I’m a Covid carrier. So to all the people giving me those looks, F you for refusing to understand the facts, and I’ll protect you anyway!

Working from home is nothing new to me but I have trouble with concentration and motivation. I find myself scrolling through Facebook a lot and watching too many movies and TV shows. Also, sewing masks was a time sink.

I have written, a little. Yesterday I ordered a couple of writing books. I figure this is a good time to try some different methods. I bought the Save the Cat one and The Snowflake method. Maybe I’ll love them, or perhaps I’ll hate them. Either way, I’ll learn something and at least add something to my writing toolbox. The added advantage is when I’m learning something new with writing, I’m always more productive.

I miss going out to write. Sitting in a coffee shop or a food court or anywhere away from home always helped me with creativity. I’m happy to give it up to slow the spread, but I’ll be happier when/if things get back to normal.

It could be worse. I think about my inlaws in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and what they are dealing with. My brother in law is a doctor in the ER there, so he sees the worst of it. In west Texas, it’s not so bad. My town has 250,000 people, so we’re not going to see the kinds of numbers they do in big cities. We have 419 confirmed cases. Of those, 107 people have recovered. Most are still sick.

I truly wish we weren’t living in interesting times, but we’ll get through this. I hope all the good things I’ve seen will carry over. Take care of yourselves and each other, and please, stay safe.


Everything Update

Writing: I’m getting there. Slowly. For over a year, I haven’t written much due to some awful side effects of a medication I kicked to the curb. We’re talking depression, mental fog, irritability (no, not all of that can be blamed on gabapentin), next to no ability to concentrate, and straight-up memory loss. There were more issues, but I only listed the most troublesome.

Sounds like a medical update, right?  The point is, now I’m on a new medication (since August), and all of the bad side-effects are gone. I hoped I would jump back into writing right away, but it was not to be. Turns out, I didn’t instantly get back my hard-earned discipline and great writing habits!

I will. Writing every day isn’t an option for me anymore, but I’m working on writing every day I can. It comes in spurts. I do writing exercises as often as my muse shows up though the real issue is a ‘butt in chair’ issue. Technically I’m in the chair, but getting started is difficult. Part of it is the bad habit of not writing. However, I know myself well enough to know the true problem is fear.

What if I can’t do it anymore? What if the meds stole my muse like they did my memory? What if I Can do it again but I suck? Blah, blah, typical writer self-abuse. Yet, this time it’s scarier. There is a sprinkling of reality in my fears. For a year, I really couldn’t do it anymore. My muse was non-existent, and the few times I got words on paper, THEY SUCKED! I know things are different now, but until I write something good, I’ll worry. Then I’ll worry some more.

This is going to be a long hard road for me. All I can do is try. I need to find my writing discipline/motivation/inspiration again. Perhaps writing blog posts again will help. When I post here, I don’t really worry if it is well written or follows elements of style or reads like a term paper with proper paragraph usage. I simply think with my fingers and the mess you’re reading flows out.

Take this post, for example. I knew I was going to write an update, but I didn’t have any particular plan. I didn’t even know where to start. It took me ten minutes to type the first sentence, but once I did, 400 words came out (and counting).

Which leads me to the next update:

Blog: I plan to write more blog posts. As of now, I don’t know what they will be about. I do want to work on my compound sentence issue. Grammarly lets me know it hates me every time I use one. It also tells me this post sounds disapproving.

One of my goals is to write and post at least one piece of flash fiction or a short story every month. At one point, I was writing and posting close to a hundred. I won’t pressure myself to get back to that level. Not yet, anyway. I do hope to get into some kind of regular rhythm though. I have a huge list of ideas to work with so I’m not as nervous as I could be.

Expect a lot of opinions because I still have those and I’m sure my husband and my best friend are tired of being my only outlet for them.

Perhaps a rant of two? Definitely some ramblings about writing, life, people, etc.

Medical: Life sucks, whatever. I’m tired of bitching about it.

Everything else: 1. My husband and I are binging Grimm. This is pertinent because it involves a lot of fairy tale creatures. Two of my biggest projects involve mythical beasties. One for adults and one for children. Every time we watch an episode (or four in a row), I feel inspired. So far, this has manifested in notes and ideas for my stories but no serious writing yet.

2. There is a comic convention coming to my city at the end of February, and I always get enthusiastic about those. Enthusiasm equals happy muse.

3. I got a new desk. A huge executive desk. The kind I’ve wanted for years (ever since I had to give up my last big desk). It takes up most of the space in my office because I placed it squarely in the center! Every time I manage to get any writing done, it’s while sitting at my perfect desk. Did I mention I love my desk?

That’s all for now. Hopefully, my next update will be more writerly!

Man, How I Missed Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wish me luck as I get back to writing!


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


Photo by kgrkz on Unsplash

 

Nanowrimo 2018 Update (Late)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Nanowrimo Update

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll post another update on my progress soon.

Nanowrimo Prep and Story Update

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

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

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

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

What I have story wise right now is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Everything Update 09/25/2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Update – 06/24/2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Update – 04/24/2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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