Update

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.

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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.

Back At It!

I’m back from the West Texas Writer’s Academy. I got home on Friday afternoon, but I needed some recovery time. It was the best and worst week I’ve had in years.

First the good stuff. I plotted a novel! I started with a wreck of a first draft and ended up with the beginnings of something I will be proud of. It was hard work. The original book needed help, I’ve known that since I finished it. The problem was I didn’t know what to do to fix it. Now I do.

I panicked a few times, as expected. On the first day of class, we introduced ourselves. That’s always a not-fun experience. Then, we talked about plotting and got homework, which of course was to plot the first act. I was terrified because I knew I would have to read it all out loud the next day. We went in no particular order until someone volunteered me. I hated and loved that woman at that moment!

Each day I found it a little easier to speak, but I’m the type to get nervous anytime I have to talk to a group of people, so this went as well as it could have.

There was one late night when I sat down with some ladies and hammered out another act. I needed the help, and I got it. That late night was a turning point for my story. Everything from there was almost easy, creatively speaking.

It was wonderful how everyone wanted to help everyone else. We all wanted each of us to succeed. Writers don’t always like suggestions from other writers, but in this case, almost everyone seemed open and willing to listen. It was a great experience.

Now the bad stuff. You know how a lot of people believe hell is down below and unbelievably hot? They are wrong! Hell is cold and located in a dorm room on the campus of a college. Even though many of us complained, and they people in charge said they raised the building thermostat, my groups’ room was Antartica.

All day and night the air blew, colder than my heart after two divorces. I had two light blankets and a sheet as my only protection. Sleep was intermittent and miserable. Eventually, the last night, I thought to pull the bed into the middle of the room, which kept me away from the vent of torture and I slept a little better, but it was still not much.

Let’s talk about the bed for a moment. It had the worst mattress known to man. I guess the person before me either liked to jump on it or he/she used it to surf the stairs. The middle was sunken — maybe smashed in would be a better description. I tried turning it over, which didn’t work, then turning it around, which helped a tiny bit. My back is a wreck.

It didn’t help that I was sitting all day every day then going to the chamber of suffering all night.

Next year I’ll bring flannel sheets, a cotton blanket, and a comforter! Also, thick pj’s, a sweatshirt, and fluffy socks to sleep in. I won’t forget to move the bed too.

I need to rewind to the first day of class. I arrived on Sunday and class started Monday. So when I walked into the classroom, I wasn’t bright eyed and whatever-tailed. I was in pain, tired, and grumpy. Insert nerves, and I was a mess.

I forced myself to sit up front so I couldn’t hide, but I still wanted to stay under the radar. HA! If one wants to not stand out, then one shouldn’t screw up their medication. When I woke up that morning, I was hurting a lot, so the first thing I did was take a pain pill. An hour later, when I took the rest of my morning meds, I took another – I think. I was out of it, and I’m not sure exactly what I did, but the above is my best guess.

At breakfast, I started feeling odd and light-headed, but I chalked it up to being anxious. Then, about ten minutes into class, the waves of dizziness began. Any time I turned my head, I felt like I wanted to fall. Luckily I was sitting. Eventually, I realized what I had done, but there was nothing I could do about it. I did end up leaving the room and sitting in the hall. I was getting overheated so while sitting there I took off one shoe and sock and put my foot on the cold tile.

Several passersby were quite confused. I felt better and went back to my desk. I wasn’t better. When the instructor called a bathroom break, she asked if I was okay. I was embarrassed, but I was honest about what I did, and she was understanding. Several other students also checked on me. So much for hiding in plain sight!

At lunch, my friend (who was in class with me, yay!) and I walked across the street for food. I felt almost normal afterward. The meds were wearing off, and movement was the key to pushing past it all. What a day!

The rest of the week went well. In fact, I need to back up again to add something to the good stuff list.

There was a night where all the published authors attending of teaching at the academy set up tables in a big rectangle where they could sell and sign their novels. I roamed around a bit and bought a few. One of these books was written by the woman teaching the self-publishing class. She told me to sign up for her drawing to win an online version of the class. I never win anything, but I signed up anyway.

Fast forward to the final luncheon on Friday. Each instructor got up and said a little about their class and how the week went. The teachers who had giveaways also announced their winners.

When the self-pub teacher walked up to the podium, I said to the group at my table: “I’m out of the running, I never win anything, ever.” They all said things like “me either.” As I’m sure you guessed, my name was called. I truly hope no one was talking pictures because my mouth was hanging open in shock for much longer than I would have liked.

They went on with other teachers and winners while I sat there stunned. I did notice that every person who won something was in my class. Since I liked them all so much, I was thrilled. I’m still not past the shock.

The week was fantastic. Despite sleeping in hell, sitting more than my doctor recommends, walking more than I have in months, eating things I know I’m not supposed to, a major (but thankfully survivable) medication mess up, and having to speak in front of a classroom full of people every day, it was great. I will go back, probably every year from now on.

I’ll be better prepared and hopefully not as nervous.

The end of this story is really the beginning of the next story – my novel. It’s time to write it, and for some chapters, rewrite it. I’ll post updates as I’m able but I plan to be very busy until the book is written, revised, edited and submitted.

I typically write high fantasy, but I’ve found myself drawn more to urban fantasy lately. In fact, I’ve written more short stories set in modern times than a typical fantasy setting. The novels I’ve worked on that are urban are much easier to write, and I work faster on them. I find them more exciting too. The universe is telling me to put away the epic stories I’ve agonized over for too long and work on what I really want.

Therefore, the novel I’m writing now is about ghosts and a medium. The next one I plan to work on is about a witch/shaman, a vampire (not in a silly way), and the Fae. Plus my middle-grade fairy novel set in the here and now. It’s not only urban fantasy and paranormal trying to make it to the page. I have a suspense novel partly written, a vigilante story, and a book with fantastic elements but isn’t fantasy. It involves a portal and time travel but no magic. Each of these is more interesting to me than my fantasy trilogy.

I’ll write it eventually but I have to go where my muse takes me. I also have to rein it in. I will finish my current novel before working on the others!


Photo courtesy of Jesse Bowser

I chose this picture because my story is about ghosts and it seemed appropriate.

Everything Update 04/20/2017

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

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

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

So, on to the updating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Update – 4/8/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll update more as the story develops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Everything Update – 3/21/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Update – March 7, 2017

I would like to say I’ve made a decision about what I’ll be working on, but that’s only somewhat accurate. What I know for sure is it’s time to work on my fantasy trilogy. Where the indecision comes in is what part I’ll do.

There are two choices. Revise the first book or write the second. I have the last two books partially plotted. The problem is I don’t want to do extra work. If I write the second, then revise the first, I could end up not using things I write. I could destroy a plotline or add something that requires a lot of change to book two or three.

However, I am almost terrified to come out of creative mode. I’ve been putting off revising several books because I’m afraid I won’t be able to get back into the making stuff up part of writing. Really it all comes down to fear of finishing. I know this logically, but I’m having trouble anyway.

So, I’m going to treat this as a challenge to myself. My tentative plan is to work on book one, and if book two takes over occasionally, that’s fine. If I’m honest with myself, I know if I start writing book two, I won’t stop until I’m done. Then the regret will set in, writer’s guilt will attack, and I’ll shut down. Or I’ll go on to book three and potentially screw everything up.

I wrote a few scenes from the two and three back in October and I know I’ll use them, but I think I should leave well enough alone.

Hopefully, I will stay on track. Discipline skills are a lacking in this writer! The desire is there, and effort will be forthcoming. I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress or failure. I might keep writing flash fiction during this process but I can’t guarantee I can do both. We shall see.

Wish me luck!

 

 

Everything Update – February 6, 2017

Deaths in the family: My aunt Janice passed away last week, which is why I haven’t been posting, nor writing, much. The night it happened I got the call at 10:41 pm. When you get a call at that time of night, you know something is wrong. Add in I saw my cousin post on Facebook about her mother being in the ER earlier and I knew when my phone went off exactly what I was going to hear.

Still, when my mom said my aunt had died, I sat up quickly (and painfully) and said “What?” I guess I hoped against hope that nothing was wrong. She explained what happened and abruptly got off the phone.

Janice had major surgery a couple of weeks before. Everything was looking good until Sunday night of last week. She got a blood clot in her lungs and there was nothing that could be done.

I was so upset and so shocked I was basically numb. I think I was staring at the ceiling after trying to convince my husband he needed to go to sleep since he worked the next morning when I got a text maybe ten minutes after the call. It was my mom asking me to call my two brothers to let them know.

It was the first time in my life I had to do something like that. Normally my mom did it but this time she needed me. So I made the calls and eventually I fell asleep.

The next morning I called mom and she said her, my grandmother, and my two cousins were going to the funeral home. I invited myself along and met them there. This was also a first for me. I wasn’t involved in the planning, besides speaking up for my cousins when they answered in whispers and I was the only one who heard them. Moral support was all I could offer. My mom had to deal with several other funeral arrangements so she stepped in when needed and eventually it all got done.

Then I picked up lunch for everyone and went to my grandma’s house. Everyone was mostly calm, the shocked calm that can’t last. It was hard but for the next couple of days, I did whatever I could to help. Anything from vacuuming to helping my husband (he’s the muscle, I’m the director) clean out my aunt’s garage to make it easier on her daughters when they have to go through it all.

Sometimes I simply sat on the couch and chatted with my grandma and the other women in my family. We told funny stories about Janice and comforted each other by being together. Seeing everyone’s pain was so hard.

I cried at the gym the day after I found out then at both the graveside and the memorial service, many times but otherwise stayed in my numb calm state. I suppose I was in ‘get it done’ mode.

Friday was hard because I stayed home. I didn’t cry because my husband was also home and I didn’t want to upset him. You see, last Sunday was only the beginning of the bad news for my family. The next day my husband got a call from his dad letting him know his grandmother had passed away. She was such a great lady and we’ll miss her a lot. I feel so useless because I can’t do a thing to help since I’m so far away. I couldn’t even do much to comfort my very stoic husband because I was such a mess waiting to happen.

Her funeral will be in New Jersey and we can’t make it. I wish we could. A family needs to be together in times like this. I’m hoping my brother-in-law can set up Skype for it.

My son also got bad news. A really close friend of his died of cancer. This kid was twenty-two years old! What a sad week.

I’m not sure I’ve processed it all yet. Grief on grief is terrible. My house has been filled with a somber gloom all week. Not to mention one of the kids has the flu and strep so we’re all avoiding each other.

Today, everything is hitting me. Writing this is hard but helping me.

Writing: As for writing, due to the above events, it’s been on the back-burner. Yesterday was the first day I had any creativity come out of me.

My writing group does a weekly picture prompt. When it was posted in our FB group I thought it was amazing but didn’t think for a moment I’d be able to write anything. I was wrong. I started getting ideas within minutes. It was problematic because I had two paths I could take with one character. I’m not sure which to pick so I’m writing both, hopefully today. I’ll decide which I like better, or see if one takes over the other. Maybe I’ll combine them.

Unfortunately, it’s as likely I won’t be able to write a complete story. It doesn’t matter, though. Creativity happened. I’ll ease back into writing but it would be nice if I could lose myself in it.

I have a couple of pieces of flash fiction I need to polish a bit before I post here. Expect those soon, tomorrow or Thursday.

Medical: I’m in a lot of pain but it’s from all my activity last week and I think I’ll be okay soon. I need to schedule an appointment with my neurosurgeon and get a CT scan done next month. Fingers crossed it looks good. I’m worried about the rod and screws in my back. I’ve been in pain for quite a while. During the last visit, there was concern about me healing so slow. The CT scan is to make sure nothing loosened because of it.

After what happened to my aunt, and finding out my grandfather also died the same way after surgery, you can imagine how much I fear another surgery.

Everything else: There isn’t much else. We’re all trying to move forward. I’ll try to post another update late in the week. Hopefully, I’ll not have anything else bad to talk about.

 

 

 

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.