Writer

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.

Flash Fiction – Never Again

Jen’s finger hovered over the trigger while she nervously waited. Her breath came in hard bursts, so loud she thought it would give away her location too soon. Eventually, Nathan would find her hiding spot anyway, he always did. This time would be different, she told herself.

If he found her before she was ready, she would be forced to do whatever he wanted, usually something sexual. All the other times she never had a chance. Even now, she wouldn’t stay hidden for long. Still, it would be different now, because she was prepared.

The first time, she’d tried running, but he caught her within minutes. Hiding seemed the better option, but he still found her quickly. So today she would try something new.

She barricaded herself in what she liked to think of as a nest. It wasn’t the first time she’d tried this tactic, but it would be the best. To get to her, Nathan would have to enter through the only opening she left him. When he did, revenge would be hers.

A sound startled her out of her thoughts, the tiniest of scrapes. From long experience, she knew he was testing her defenses. She hoped he would assume she was burrowed in tight. Instead, she stood in plain view, slightly to the side of the doorway, gun raised.

He burst in and reached for a box to start digging her out. She pressed her trigger three times, hitting him in the chest. The ‘oof’ sound he made with each hit was satisfying. She knew exactly how much it hurt being struck with a paintball. When he fell to the ground, she laughed.

She stood over him as he gingerly rubbed his chest, spreading paint everywhere. He grinned. Of course, the idiot would be proud she finally beat him. She’d have to do something about that.

“Since I got three shots on you, you have to do anything I want that many times,” she stated.

“Yep, that’s the rules,” he answered with a smirk. “What will it be?”

“Laundry, dishes, and dusting.” Your least favorite things to do, she thought.

Nathan’s smile disappeared. “What? Of all the things you could make me do, you choose cleaning?”

“Yes. That was fun. We should do this more often.” It was her turn to smile. Jen had a feeling they would never play paintball again.

 

Rough Draft 395


This story was inspired by a one word writing prompt: trigger. I wrote the draft months ago but didn’t type it up until last week. I never planned to show anyone because I worried it would be a ‘trigger’ for some people. Violence against women is a serious problem, and I certainly didn’t want to make light of it.

So I put it away and felt guilty for a while. Then I remembered something. I’m a writer. I write stories, whether they are provocative, serious, light, funny, weird, scary, ridiculous, or something else. Or all of the above. It’s my job to write and stifling myself is not something I’m willing to do.

I’ve had a severe case of writer’s funk/block for quite some time. Telling myself I can’t write a story because of how others might react isn’t going to help. So I can’t restrict my muse this way.

If I have offended anyone, then I am sorry, but I have to do what I do.

Flash Fiction – A Useless Friend

Karen always gave me cigarettes when I needed one. And she was always there if I needed to vent or tell her about my accomplishments. I can’t tell you how many times she did things for me when we worked together. Still, she was pretty useless as far as friends went.

I never could get her to babysit. I know she only met my kids once but come on. Nor would she run my errands for me, as if she were actually always busy writing. Everyone knows writers spend most of their time on Twitter. Likewise, she refused to help me get my cousin’s car from another city, giving me some nonsense about how driving for two hours would hurt her back. I mean, didn’t she have surgery to get that crap fixed? Her excuses were nauseating.

It’s not like I asked for favors very often, only once every four-six months. We didn’t even talk very often so I don’t know how she could say I was always trying to take advantage of her friendship. Okay, those weren’t her exact words, but that’s how I heard it, and she hurt my feelings. I’m still angry at her for making me feel guilty. Of course, I don’t only call her when I want something!

I did everything Karen ever asked of me, although at the moment I can’t seem to recall any of those things. Odd, now that I think about it, she never really did talk about herself. How inconsiderate she was. You know, I don’t believe she even told me her birthday. The nerve of that woman! We were friends for almost ten years. You’d think she would have shared more of herself. After all, she knew everything about me.

Anyway, this time she’s done the last and shittiest thing she’s ever done to me. I tried to call her to ask her to take my Grandmother to get a pedicure, and her phone was disconnected. My message on Facebook went unanswered. I finally contacted her brother only to find out Karen had passed away, a year ago! She didn’t even tell me she was sick, at least, I don’t think she did.

Now who’s going to take Grammy to her appointment? What a useless friend she was.

 

Rough draft 379 words


This story was inspired by a phone conversation I had today. Someone made me very angry (enough to use the word ‘very’ when I’m trying to remove it from all my writing). When I get upset I tend to vent by turning bits of the situation into fiction. If the person who I’m unhappy with reads this post they will know they were the catalyst so it’s safe to say the story is only about 50% fiction.

Still, I owe that person my gratitude. It took them pissing me off before my muse put in an appearance for the first time in too long. It’s not much of a story and the situation half wrote it but I did the rest so I’m claiming this one!

So, from a useless friend to my current antagonist, have a mental middle finger of thankfulness from me to you!


 

 

 

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 – 5/25/2017

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

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

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

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

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

Reading: Pern, that is all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roadblocks & Annoyances

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most importantly, I’ll write.

Flash Fiction – Jewelry Shopping

With nerves strung high, Liam stepped into the store. Six pairs of feminine eyes tried to meet his gaze. Ugh, he thought. Being the center of attention was not something he enjoyed, but this was important enough to face what was sure to be an uncomfortable time. Any amount of uneasiness was worth finding the perfect gift for the love of his life.

Liam straightened his shoulders and walked up to the first glass case. The knowing smile on the saleslady’s face irritated him, but he would deal with it. He hated that she could see how tense he was, but he answered her probing questions and let her steer him to another display.

His eyes went straight to it. In shock, he stared at the most beautiful piece of jewelry he’d ever seen. It sat nestled on a large stand raised higher than the ones surrounding it. Heart shaped and shiny with blue stones, the exact color of his love’s eyes, lining the edges.  Nothing else in the case mattered. The woman explained something about birthstones and prices, but he barely heard her. Picturing the recipient wearing it held his attention.

The perfect necklace for the perfect woman.

She would think of him every time she looked at it, and of course, she would never take it off. It made him happy that she would always know who loved her most. Triumphant and smiling he turned to his companion.

“This is the one, dad,” he said and pointed.

“World’s Greatest Mom,” Dad read. “Perfect.”

“Just like Mom,” Liam replied. He couldn’t wait to get home and give her the best Mother’s Day present ever.


Rough draft 275 words


I wrote this piece in my notebook on Sunday during my writing group. I was looking through writing prompts and came across one I thought would make a cute story:

A boy buys a gift for his mother.

With Mother’s Day coming up, it seemed like a good one to use. It took me a few minutes to come up with something, but once I got going, it didn’t take long to write all my ideas. I planned to type it up and figure out what to keep and discard when I got home.

I didn’t. I put the notebook down and didn’t pick it up again until today, though I did think about it some. My muse was nowhere to be found, so I didn’t try very hard.

Then I went to my follow-up appointment (after having an injection in my back). It was reiterated to me that I either get to keep taking pain pills, agree to get a pain relieving implant, or have major surgery – another fusion. I wasn’t in the best mood afterward, and I was fairly irritable, just ask my poor husband.

I watched some TV, did some reading, messed around on the internet, and felt sorry for myself. Then something happened. I don’t know what prompted it, but my muse slapped me around a bit. I grabbed my notebook and started typing. The story was surprisingly easy to write because I just didn’t care if it sucked or not. All I wanted was to get it written. I used every idea I had on Sunday, and while I know it’s not perfect, screw that, it IS perfect because I wrote! At this point, any writing is good. I was in pain as I wrote this, but I still did it, so I’m content.

As for posting it now instead of waiting for Mother’s day, I figured the little twist would be too obvious if I posted it then.

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.