Saturday, March 17, 2018

STRICKEN: One Year Later

Stricken came out exactly one year ago today... It's so hard to believe that my little story has been out there this long already! The last 365 days just flew by. 

In recognition of this wonderful event's first anniversary, I would like to share something with all of you... 

The *real* story behind Stricken - when I came up with the original idea, when its original 207K draft was finished, etc. - and the rest of the journey to being accepted by eXtasy Books in 2016. It's a little long, and may seem disjointed by times, but please... Enjoy.


Stricken's Cover Page, Manuscript Version


BEHIND THE WRITING: The Real Story of "STRICKEN"
Originally published in Facebook on February 28, 2017
Edited version for Blogger Copyright 2018 V.J. Allison

When I first came up with the idea for this particular story in 2010, it was quite different than it is today. Yes, the principle of the story was identical - two extremely different people falling in love and facing a lot of adversity - but the evolution of the story line, the characters and everything else in the last seven - almost 8 - years still blows me away.

The original version of Stricken covers 15 years from Chapter 1 to the Epilogue, with a 6-year gap between Part 1 and Part 2, and another six-year gap between the ending and its epilogue. Its original name was No Regrets. It covered the blossoming romance from the time the two main characters met to six years after their marriage, and even a lot of stuff that happened after their “happy ever after”. It was a hefty read at over 207,000 words, and about 400 pages. Its first draft was finished October 30, 2012.

I think my biggest mistake was thinking that just because I did things differently, I would be grabbed up by a publisher in no time. I was arrogant, and overconfident in my work. I thought I knew it all about editing, proofing and everything else. I didn’t have a beta reader either, and that’s something essential to an aspiring or newbie author to my understanding.

It started going out in 2013, not even four months after its first draft was completed. For a newbie, this is not enough time to get things perfected. One needs practice, and it’s rare that a publisher will take on a person with their first attempt at writing a book.

I got rejections galore. How many is between myself and a select few. No one told me why it wasn’t what they wanted, other than it was “too long”, or my style wasn’t right for them.

Finally, in January of 2014, an editor for a publisher in Indiana (one of the best in the genre at that time) took the time to give me a personal rejection note. She gave me a few examples of what I was doing wrong - tons of repetition (think descriptions of a person’s voice, eyes, etc), and that I had a lot of passive scenes - unneeded stuff that didn’t move the story forward.

Her kind words made me look at the story with new eyes. I went through it, noted a few things and decided it was time to work on something else - a story that *was* up to publisher’s standards - and to try honing my natural talent to a fine edge. I also joined a couple of writing forums at her suggestion and decided to get some people in as beta readers. People who I trusted, yet knew the craft of writing, or were just voracious readers like myself.

(((You have to be able to take constructive criticism - good and bad - in order to improve and grow as a writer. If you cannot take things professionally and get offended if someone doesn’t like your stuff or tells you a way to improve it, you will never make it as an author, and more than likely, never get published.)))

“Away to Me” was written in less than 3 months, and although it may never see the light of day publishing wise, it’s still a cute story in my opinion.

Meanwhile, “No Regrets” sat on my hard drive, gathering dust for a while. I can’t remember how it came about, but one of my old school chums wanted to read it and I let her. She liked it and gave me a lot of suggestions on how I could improve it.

I wasn’t sure, but did write down her suggestions, just in case. I really wanted that story out there. The characters were still in my head, clamoring for me to get their story out there, somehow.

Even though it was suggested by some that I self publish "No Regrets" in the original format, I decided not to.

I'm glad I didn't. It would have marked the end of my career as an author. Self published works have to be *perfect* - from its storyline to the editing, as well as the blurb and the cover. If anything seems out of place, it's less likely that readers will purchase any of your books in the future, no matter if they are polished to perfection or not. (Thank you to the gang at my closed writing forum for those words of wisdom!)

I decided to rewrite the entire thing, from start to finish. “No Regrets” was finally yanked out of cold storage and looked at again. At 207 K, it was twice the length of the average romance or erotica novel. I had to do a lot of trimming. I was also seeing spots where it didn’t make sense, or it was too confusing. Thanks to the kind editor, and my school chum, I was seeing the passive areas, and other mistakes started showing up a lot easier.

I think a third of the story was passive areas. Another ten percent of it was repetitive stuff. All of those were immediately eliminated.

Next to go was having it all in one volume. It was broken into two parts, and each was given a designation. “Hearts Awakening” would cover the first half of their story, from the time they met to a year after their breakup, and “Hearts Remembering” would cover becoming face to face again and their subsequent journey toward happy ever after.

It wasn’t until about twenty false starts that I realized that working it as two books wasn’t going to work either, especially after advice about “keeping it under 6 months” came from that old school chum.

Besides, romance novels generally have a happy ever after or happy for now ending. Part One was *not* a happy ending. It was sad, and really not for the romance market as we see today.

It was late in 2014 that I decided to eliminate the first half of the story, and only write from their meeting up years after the break up to their happy ever after.

I also started thinking about how plausible a lot of the things were, like how the breakup came about, and everything else related to it. That was changed. It’s now extremely plausible and flows so much better.

I eliminated a few of the characters too, as well as changed one around to something else, and added a new one. This had been pretty illogical in the first incarnation.

Instead of starting off exactly where Part 2 originally started, I went with something else, a much better hook. Something that would make you wonder what the hell was up with that and why they broke up in the first place.

I admit, I did copy and paste somethings from the original into the updated version... The original wasn’t all bad, and some of it turned out to be some of the most memorable lines I’ve written to date.

However, I’d say about 80% of this was me pounding on the keyboard, writing it from scratch but with the timeline and their personalities handy, just to keep myself on track.

It was finished in February 2015, after I decided to eliminate the epilogue. It wasn’t going to add to it, only drag things down. It also left the option of having this as a standalone book instead of a series or duology.

I think the year I took off after its revised first draft was done was the best thing for it. When I took it out of “storage” in early 2016, I could see a lot of the problems with editing and so forth and set out to get those corrected. Thanks to my best friend Heather, we managed to polish it to a shine. I dubbed it “Hearts Remembering” and decided who would get it first.

It went to a publishing house that was supposed to reply to me in three months or less. 

It was rejected at the five-month mark, which wasn’t unexpected. By that time, I was used to rejections, so it was just another publisher knocked off the list, and a mental note of they were not the right one for me after all.

I set off to find another reputable publisher, one that accepted stories less than 90 thousand words, and had some really rough language into it.

I was looking at one in particular, an American press, but there was a Canadian one that kept bringing me back. Finally, I decided to research this particular house and see if my little story would meet submission guidelines.

I sent it to them on a whim the first week of October 2016, after changing the name to “STRICKEN” at the last minute. (((Yes, it is named after the song by Disturbed. Once you read the story, listen to the second verse of the song. You will get why I chose that name for my first book.)))

That “Canadian House” was eXtasy Books, in British Columbia, on the opposite coast...

I didn’t expect much, and decided to focus on Halloween Havoc, which was coming up in a few weeks.

October 29, 2016 is a day I will never forget. I was giving myself a manicure with purple polish, and I got an email from the Acquisitions Editor at eXtasy Books. I suspected another rejection and opened it.

I had to read it at least six times before it sank in.

CONTRACT OFFER.

Seriously? They liked it?

My book. Really?

No way.

WAY.

I signed the contract in November of 2016, and things went from there – editing, approval of the cover, revisions galore, and finally, approving the final copy just a couple of hours before the book went LIVE.

Stricken came out on March 17, 2017, as an e-book on eXtasy Books’ website, and was released on other e-book sites like Amazon and Kobo on March 26, 2017.

When I first came up with the idea for this story in 2010, it wasn’t supposed to be this short - under 60K word count - or only cover 6 months. All loose ends were supposed to be somewhat tied up at the end. Instead there, are still a few questions... But they are not to be answered now, if ever.

I look back at the last six and a half years, and I’m still shocked that all of the work for that story is finally done. I’ve had the two mains in my head for years, and it’s not easy letting them out into the wide world. It just amazes me how much this story has evolved, same with my writing. I think if I hadn’t written its original version or the ABOMINATION ("Family Portraits" - it was written as a sequel for the original version of Stricken, but it will *never* see the light of day, it is HORRIBLE!), I wouldn’t have learned anything, nor would I be the author I am today. 



**********************

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

I am still in shock that despite everything - health problems (occipital neuralgia, diabetes, anemia, and everything else), trying to run a house, taking care of a child on the autism spectrum, and so many other things - I still managed to write this book (twice!), edit it, get rejections galore, and STILL found a publisher that loved it! 

This was done writing part time - think maybe one or two days a week if I was lucky - and while fighting an occipital neuralgia flare up every day I was writing and when I wasn't. I wasn't going to let something like my neuralgia - which is extremely painful and debilitating - keep me from reaching my dream of having one book published by a traditional house in my lifetime.

No excuses. Either do it or stop writing completely. 

I chose to keep going.

I am to keep going even with my occipital neuralgia worsening to the point of needing nerve blocks so I can at least function.

I will never give up on getting another book finished and published. Nor will I give up on improving my skills as an author, or stop writing the love stories I want to give to my fans.

Once again, I would like to thank eXtasy Books for giving me a chance. ♥

Have a great weekend everyone! Don't forget to check out the amazing authors at eXtasy Books and Devine Destinies... You may find a new favorite! ;) 

I leave you with the song that gave me the name for my first book - "STRICKEN" by Disturbed. I think David Draiman has some of the best pipes in the business... I adore this band!

HELL YEAH BABY!!!



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Posture Perfect

Things have been so crazy here! First of all, it's March Break, and that means I'm dealing with a goofy teenager all day instead of only part of it. Hubby had a mishap and that means I've been in charge of taking care of HIS end of things like shopping and such as well as my own stuff. 

PLUS we had a nor'easter here on Tuesday, and the power went out at 7 p.m. that day... It didn't come on again until 11:20 this morning. That's over 40 hours without power, folks! 

I did get in some reading while the power was out... Two books, but this is the one I really want to show off:

SQUEE!!!

Heh. YES, it does have a LOT more than the movie did, and I am grateful for it. It explained and showed stuff that should have made the final cut. 

Overall, I think I actually liked the book better, despite it being one of Mark Hamill's best performances to date. 

ROUNDUP!

The first round of nerve blocks wore off around 2 weeks after I got them... So that meant another trip in to see my specialist, on February 14th.

Four weeks, one day later, I'm still pain free for the most part. Now I do have a sinus headache and some shooting pains associated with nerves in my face, but that is *nothing* compared to what I've gone through with the occipital neuralgia. 

I'm so darn grateful for the nerve blocks because I don't think I could have managed everything that's happened the last two weeks without some sort of relief from the neuralgia. That stuff is PAINFUL. 

In between things, I've still managed to get some work done on the first book of the "Something About" series (edits, and revisions, plus a LOT of eliminating!), plot a few things for Fourteen (companion book to another one) AND start looking for ideas for books 2 and three of the "Something About" series.

PHYSIOTHERAPY - I started on February 13th, and it's not just acupuncture as the specialist ordered. Apparently if one slouches, it pulls on the muscles that are around the C2 vertebra, where the occipital nerves exit the spinal column, which can compress the nerves and therefore aggravate the occipital neuralgia to the point where one cannot function.

So..... I'm now doing resistance training to strengthen the muscles in my back, and I am now in the middle of training myself to hold my back and neck perfectly straight when I'm sitting or standing/walking. 

It IS helping, a LOT. Or I think it is. It's kind of hard to tell when the nerve blocks are still working... LOL

In conjunction with the physiotherapy and nerve blocks/injections, I made a huge decision about something a couple of weeks ago.........

I chopped off my hair. 

(Did some of you faint?)

Seriously. It was waist length, straggly, thin, fine and FRIED from the medications I'm on as well as being dyed so many times. I used a TON of conditioner every time I washed my hair. It tangled easily, felt hot and heavy, and was driving me bananas... Despite how thin and fine it really is. 

It also made my occipital neuralgia go crazy when I pulled it back into a ponytail, because it pulled on the scalp, and therefore aggravated the nerves. Having it short makes it so much easier to get the injections, not so much hair to wade through either.

Today, I went to the salon and a good friend of ours, Susie, cut it for me. We were not sure what to do with it first - she and the other girl in there (another longtime pal of ours named Crystal) just about fainted when I said I wanted it SHORT. We talked it over for a few minutes, and settled on an angled bob. 

If anyone watched Orphan Black, look at Rachel's hair. That's an angled bob, and I loved her hairstyle. That's exactly what I have now, except mine isn't as thick as hers was.

It needs another dye job, due to the amount of roots I'm showing, but overall, it's awesome. and I love it. 

Front.

Back!
Side view!

Just for reference, here's a before photo, from last year...




Note how my ponytail is ultra thin in that one (ironically from a year ago on Saturday...)

I feel so much LIGHTER! I think I lost about a foot of hair, and about a pound or two from my head alone. It feels so much better too, no dead ends, no broken parts, no fried areas, nothing but soft, healthy and easy to maintain hair. 

I don't know if my mom saw the photos on Facebook or not, but I'm betting she's going to be shocked. I've had long hair as long as I can remember... The shortest it's been since I was a toddler was when I was 12, it was about shoulder length then. It's been longer than that for over 30 years now.

It was past time for a change. Way past it.

I'm glad I did it. No more fried hair for this little metal chick!

On a final note, a HUGE CONGRATS to my friend Maggie. YOU DID IT GIRL! (She knows what I mean!)

I leave you with my favorite song by Heart. "Alone".




Sunday, January 21, 2018

Occipital Neuralgia and More...

Confession time.

I have more than one chronic illness, as some of you know. What a lot of you don't know is exactly what it entails.

It's called Occipital Neuralgia, and it can be quite disabling.

The Occipital Neuralgia Awareness Ribbon.

Occipital neuralgia is basically a type of migraine, but it doesn't happen in the actual skull, it happens in the scalp. It is caused by four nerves, two on each side: the lesser occipital nerve which goes up the outside of the back part of the head, closer to the ears, and the greater occipital nerves, which go up the back of the head parallel to each side of the spine.

When those nerves get injured, compressed, and irritated, they can cause a permanent headache, as well as "zinging" and burning pain along each of the nerves - I liken it to an AC current. It goes one way, then the other, back and forth along the nerves. It goes up the back of the head through the scalp, across the top of the head, and into the forehead and behind the eyes. Sometimes only one side is affected, others, both are. 

Here's a diagram showing the location of the occipital nerves:



It can "flare" up, meaning instead of the usual amount of pain from it - a five to six in my case - it can go to a 10 or higher on the pain scale. Think flat on one's back, and not even prescription pain medications will put a dent in it.

According to www.hopkinsmedicine.org, occipital neuralgia can make the scalp so sensitive to touch that combing the hair, washing the hair, or laying on a pillow can be "nearly impossible" due to the amount of pain one has. 

Symptoms of Occipital Neuralgia include:



I have pretty much every symptom on that list, especially when I am in the middle of a flare up. I wear sunglasses even during a blizzard or hurricane outside, and I have a constant headache. I've had this since I was a child... I've learned how to avoid triggers for it over the years, and I've also learned that the instant things start going crazy to just lay down and think happy thoughts - after popping a few ASA pills. I can't take anything prescription wise due to my son, and anything other than ASA either doesn't work or gives me a bad reaction... So ASA it is, and yes, it does work. Sometimes. It brings things down to a manageable level.

Up until a few months ago, I was managing without a lot of intervention. I could function with the pain until I got a bad flare up, then I'd have to sleep it off with ice packs wrapped around my head in a dark room. 

However, around the middle of November, I started noticing that it was on almost a constant flare up. It seemed I couldn't go three days without being flat on my back for a few hours, or I was flaring almost constantly. I finally gave in and said I need help.

Hubby noted that when I say I need help with my occipital neuralgia, it's BAD... Bad enough that I was almost begging for something like morphine.

I hate prescription pain killers for the record, and narcotics in general - I had a bad reaction to morphine during labor with my son - so when I say I'll even take a shot of morphine or stronger, I am in so much pain that I am willing to do almost anything to stop it.... I can take a *LOT* before I get there. 

So I talked to my family doctor, and she made arrangements for me to try something different - a nerve block. What happens is the doctor injects some kind of local anesthesia into the nerves, and hopefully after the initial overall numbness wears off, the nerves have calmed down enough that they are not causing any zapping pains.

I saw the doctor for this eleven days ago, on January 10th, in Dartmouth. I am terrified of needles in general, despite getting tons of them in the last few years due to the diabetes, so of course, I was shaking like a leaf when I went in.

We went over my history then he did an exam of my neck, shoulders and head, with pokes and a LOT of pushing on various areas to see what hurt and what didn't. The instant he hit the greater occipital nerves, I yelped. It shot a HUGE zap along both of the nerves so painful that I saw stars. 

It's definitely occipital neuralgia. That was the test for it.

I got the nerve blocks that day. It hurt like heck going in, but after about a minute or so, I wasn't feeling much. 

After the second side was done, I sat up, caught my breath and moved my head around. 

Nothing. Not even a teeny zing.

It was the least amount of pain I had in my head in about 35 years. I felt fantastic!

You could have cracked me in the back of the head with a 2 by 4, and I probably wouldn't have felt it for a few hours after that!

Four hours was the tell... If it wore off and I got the zinging again, that particular nerve block wasn't going to work for me. I would have to get something different like cortisone. That hurts even more.... 

I was also given an order for acupuncture via physiotherapy. I'm now waiting for the call to go in and start the sessions. I can't wait!

Eleven days later... I'm still without the zapping. No dull ache. No pain in the eyes.

NOTHING.

I'm now wondering why I didn't do this sooner. This is freaking awesome! I can think without hurting for the first time in ages!

In fact, I am feeling so darn good that I've decided to catch up on a lot of things I've been neglecting for the last while... I've been putting off doing a lot of reorganizing and rearranging things in the kitchen. I finally got around to doing it this week, and the place looks amazing! 

I wanted a new office... I was right in the walkway in the cubby hole opposite the stairs. It was cramped, cluttered, drafty and my son could easily read over my shoulder... Not good! I was fed up and finally decided to switch things around.

My new office is in the corner of the kitchen, on the kitchen table. It's warmer, more private, and best of all, no stairs for the damn cat to run up and use as a platform for dive bombing. To my back is the eastern wall of the kitchen, and to my right is the northern wall. The table is facing the back of the house, I can see the entire room from here, including Amber's sleeping box with her blankie into it. 


My old Pentium 90 is still here, and still works. That's what's under the monitor. 

Amber isn't impressed. She can no longer sit on top of the monitor and look out the window. I said she can go suck cat litter if she doesn't like it. 

She does still sit on top of the monitor though, as y'all can see...


Me and my purple.... LOL

So I thought the dive bombing had come to an end without stairs to use as a platform.

WRONG.


What you are seeing is my printer on top of the old tower for my Vista system - the one that originally housed the hard drive that's now in my current system. This is to the direct left of my computer chair. In fact I was in the chair when I took this photo... Just to give everyone a perspective of how things are here. Behind the curtain in the back is the old computer area and stairway.

Anyway... Amber now likes to sit on the printer and look out the window.

However, she realized I was sitting here the other day, and the next thing I knew, I had a cat flying for my head.

Again.  *head desk*

I still say that crazy kitty is trying to kill me... I never thought I'd be dive bombed after moving the computer. Seriously.

Guess I shouldn't have told her to go suck cat litter, eh? *SIGH* 

Idiot cat.

Have a great week everyone, I'll be posting another update about the writing soon!

I leave you with another song by GHOST... "Ritual". Enjoy!!


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tears of the Jedi - SPOILERS ALERT!!!!

I've been meaning to post something, but things have been crazy here. Between the holidays, *two* major storms that caused long power outages, holiday vacation, and trying to write AND get to the theater, it's been crazy.

First of all, our holidays were pretty good, despite a 24 hour outage that started around 5:30 p.m. on the 25th and lasted until about 6 p.m. on the 26th. We've been back here 15 years, and that is the longest outage we have had in that time. My son wasn't impressed. Thankfully we went to my mom in law's on Boxing Day (the 26th) for a few hours, she had power, and my son was happy to be with Nanny as well as be able to watch her Star Trek DVDs. 

So... The second power outage was this past weekend, from Thursday the 4th at 9:40 p.m. to about 1 p.m. Friday the 5th, after that huge nor'easter clobbered the eastern seaboard of the States and the Maritime Provinces in Canada. We spent a good chunk of that morning at Hubby's gas station with him. Schools were canceled both days, so it's not like I could have worked even if schools had been open. 

Speaking of working, I took the entire holiday break OFF from writing. My anemia is back, full force, and it's affecting my concentration a lot. I can't seem to focus on anything except maybe a movie for more than a few minutes. I'm always exhausted, and feeling ill from this crap. 

My iron didn't come up at all last time either... BUT I found out why. I was taking 28 mg of iron once a day... I'm supposed to be taking *six* times that amount - 150 to 200 mg a day, due to the anemia. The smaller pills are just to supplement someone with a normal iron level, not help full blown iron deficiency anemia. So, I'm now popping the iron pills given to me by my doctor, and hoping my ferratin comes up, even a little. I'm off to Internal Medicine if it doesn't move this time. More poking and prodding. Fun stuff. Not.

I hope to get back into things either later this week or sometime next week. I have some ideas I've been bouncing around, so I may be feeling a little more up to working. I'll keep y'all posted.

Anyone who knows me or has been following me for a while knows I am a *huge* Star Wars geek. I first saw A New Hope in 1982, and I was instantly HOOKED. I've seen every single film except for Attack of the Clones in the theater, and I have a lot of the old EU/Legends books. 

I saw "The Force Awakens" two years ago, and "Rogue One" last year... This year, I finally saw my favorite character, Luke Skywalker, speak on screen for the first time in over 3 decades in "The Last Jedi". 

Oh.

My.

Heavens.

So many fan theories were blown out of the water during this film... Which was fine with me, I am so goddamn SICK of theorists thinking they know it all when in reality they have NO BLOODY CLUE what's going on... 

I admit I cried throughout the movie. It was Carrie Fisher's last role before her death, and it was so fitting it was the role that she was so famous for. 

NOW....I will warn everyone that if you haven't seen the movie yet, STOP NOW

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

I mean it gang. Stop if you don't want spoilers....

STOP.

NOW.

OR YOU WILL SEE SPOILERS!

Okay, don't say I didn't warn you.................

It was pretty good. It didn't have the amount of action into it that TFA, ROTJ or ROTS had... But it had a lot of deeper, more intellectual things you really had to look for. 

Flaws? YES. Lots of them. Like Leia impersonating Mary Poppins. The sublight chase that took up half the movie. The bit with Finn and Rose going after the slicer... Um.. Nope. That was supposed to establish their characters a bit more, but to me, it felt awfully dragged out, and unnecessary. Same goes with Poe and the mutiny. Admiral Ackbar's death pissed me off too.

However, there were redeeming qualities....

Mark Hamill's performance was the highlight of the movie for me. That man has more talent in his pinkie finger than some out there have in their entire body. Seriously. 

I think it was his best performance to date, even if I really couldn't connect the Luke I saw for the majority of the movie with the one from the original trilogy for the first while. By the time we saw Luke and Leia's brief reunion on Crait, I had finally gotten my head around things. 

Then again, the Luke we saw there wasn't a broken man either. It was the old Luke, the one we fans were used to seeing.

I bawled at the end. 

To see my favorite character of the entire franchise "ascend" and become one with the force was a touch too much for me... It was a case of goodbye eyeliner and mascara, hello rivers of black running down my cheeks! I had an odd feeling it was on the way from the instant I saw him appear on Crait... And hated that I was right about Luke's death, just like I had been with Han's in The Force Awakens. It was one of those moments when I wanted to bash my head against the seat in front of me.

Luke's final scene was really well done... A throwback and tribute to where he started off in A New Hope.... Even if it made a lot of us in the theater cry. 

*SNIFF!!!*

It does leave things wide open for Luke to come back as a Force apparition, like Yoda and Obi Wan have. I'd love it if Mark Hamill was back in IX, even if it was just as a cameo.

You hear that JJ Abrams? Bring Luke back for IX, since you're not going to do CGI with Leia!!!

And PLEASE... Do NOT kill off Chewbacca!!!

Ugh....

I do wish JJ Abrams the best though... He's going to need it, big time. IX was supposed to focus on Leia, but apparently they are not going to have her in the movie.... No old footage and no CGI. So, it's really up in the air what Abrams is going to yank out of his butt this time... 

If it's half as good as The Force Awakens, he'll have another winner on his hands in my opinion. 

However, if it's a movie similar to the Star Trek reboots... 

*TWITCH!!!* 

Nope, NOT going down that road......................

On that note, I'm going to share a new group with you. They had the top single of 2017 on Q104.3 in Halifax, NS, and I just got their latest album...

From the EP, "Popestar", here's GHOST with "Square Hammer"... Enjoy! 


Sunday, November 19, 2017

We Salute You

Whoa, another week gone. This year is going so darn fast!

I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the "Holiday Shopping" tunnel - gift wise. We managed to get the majority of the remainder of the gifts out of the way this past week, thanks to a few orders from my favorite online shopping site, and a trip to Halifax. We have two full and two partial gifts to get, as well as the "extras" for Son. 

The next major bit will be the wrapping. I need more paper, tags, and tape. Thank the stars I have over a month to get *that* done. I abhor wrapping almost as I hate shopping. I despise shopping for the record... Unless it's earring or book related. Then I tend to go overboard... 

We started our shopping in January so we could just pick up things as we saw them, and wouldn't have a huge bill right at the holiday season. I like it, it's much more relaxed to do it that way.

Our outdoor holiday decorations are almost finished too... We have a kaleidoscope LED light that shines red, green and blue splashes of light over the front of the house, and Nanny's old light up candles framing the main door on the side. I still want a huge, sparkly silver bow to put on the front door to make it ultra pretty.

Yeah, I'm actually trying this year. Shocker, eh? I haven't enjoyed the holidays since my father passed away in 1997, and it got worse after we lost Nanny in 2010. It's not a good time of year for me. Daddy's birthday was December 25th... That says a lot.

Anyway........ The thumb is better. I took the bandages off completely the day after I wrote the previous entry... I kind of took things off to change the bandage and the flap of skin just fell off. Since it looked really clean, I left it open. It's not bothering me at all now. It's almost healed. No scabs. Just a small patch of newer looking skin, and the possibility of a scar. Better than losing the thumb....

Amber is still improving, and getting sassier by the day. She's been on the vet food for four weeks now and is like her old self. I'm getting dive bombed upwards of six, seven, or more times a day. Anyone who follows my main profile will sometimes see score tallies for "Shithead" and myself. She dive bombs me, I kiss her tummy... She gets revenge, and I get her back. 

In other words, a typical day at my house.

I am still writing for anyone who is interested. I'm almost done chapter one of the MSIP, and I hope to wrap that up later this week, so I can get moving in chapter two before the school holiday break. I've started a timeline of the entire story so I don't get mixed up and have them "going at it" in chapter three.... Like I did in another one. Oops! (That one is now in the "rewrite pile"!)

Finally.... On a sad note, I see Malcolm Young of AC/DC has passed away, at the young age of 64. 

I leave all of you with "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" from 1981.



Sleep peacefully, Mr. Young. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

National Diabetes Day and More

It's time for me to come out of the "chronic illness closet" and announce what I have that's a "life long condition".

In 2015, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes (insulin resistant or inefficient insulin). It is *genetic* in my case - it was inherited from my Daddy, who is suspected of having it for over 20 years before he was diagnosed... The doctors could tell by the amount of damage to his eyes, and to the veins in his legs.

Daddy passed away less than six months after his diagnosis in 1997... He was only 56 years old.

Since November is Diabetes Awareness month, I ask everyone reading this to get their A1C hemoglobin glucose checked - especially if you have a parent or another relative with type II diabetes. Kids of parents who had/have it have a 50-50 chance of developing it later in life. The sooner it's caught, the better your chances for a longer, fuller and healthier life. 

***Contrary to what some will tell you, there is NO cure for Type I or Type II diabetes. Anyone who claims that is severely misinformed.***



This little accident prone author did something ultra stupid last weekend...

I was slicing carrots using a mandoline slicer, and my hand slipped.... I wound up slicing my thumb wide open. It's at an angle which means there's a flap of skin that's holding the clot in place. Yeah.... I was using the grip but things slipped and that's when I cut myself.

It's healing slowly, but still sore... It is right on the spot that touches the space bar when I hit it. Not fun. In fact, it's quite uncomfortable, and was quite painful during the first day or so after the injury occurred. 

The worst of it is, it's my right thumb. I'm right handed......... *SIGH*

I won't show you the aftermath. It's bloody, and gross all around. I do have photos of the bandages an hour after the accident, and a photo of the wound itself taken a few days later, but it's all too nasty for public viewing. I'll show photos in the "later parts of healing" instead.......

Two days later, at the afternoon bus stop... Bandages galore. 

November 7, 2017.

It wasn't very comfortable then but it was a LOT better than throbbing all of the time like it was on Sunday...

Taken just today. I'm down to one bandage! I'd let it go without, but it is still pretty uncomfortable to hit the space bar..........

November 13, 2017.

It's still pretty gross looking too, but not like it did the day it happened. Yuck!

WRITING...

Even with the injured thumb, I still managed to get some writing done this week... I'm on a roll with this one manuscript again so far, and I hope this continues. If things go right, I hope to have its first draft done by the end of June. Hopefully with a little luck, this one will be off to my beloved publisher sometime before the end of next year. (And if I'm really lucky, I'll have the final companion book at least on the go by then too!)

I've been getting dive bombed by a crazy cat while working too... Or just sitting at the computer. 

Amber wasn't doing well for the longest time. That poor cat had gas galore, and couldn't pass any without "splattering" a bit most times... Plus her feces were not normal. Think runny. She lost a lot of weight, and hasn't been feeling great.

We discussed things, and I remembered that she was on the vet recommended food when we adopted her, Noelle and Angel. We couldn't afford to keep four cats on it - Birdie HATED it anyway - so they were switched over to one of the supermarket brands once the remainder of the food from Nanny's ran out.

Amber started losing weight, which became a little noticeable after we lost the dog in 2011, but it really started showing up once Noelle passed away. She wasn't getting the canned food either, because she didn't eat it. So we kept her on the dye free supermarket stuff, not realizing the cat wasn't going to do well off it.

The bottom line is she is now back on the vet recommended food, and is doing marvelously! Within three days, her eyes had brightened considerably, and her catitude was back to normal. I noticed an increase in dive bombing over the following week, and her energy level has jumped considerably.

Best of all, she *rarely* passes gas, she's no longer having accidents all of the time, and things are no longer messy! AND she's gained a little weight! Her tummy is getting a touch bigger. 

Her fur is a LOT thicker and silkier, she's taking much better care of herself too. 

It's a relief to see our Amber back to being herself. I really thought we were going to lose her, and soon. She's only 11 years old, and has at least a few more years left in her. The longer she lives with a better quality of life the better.

Sure, the food is ultra expensive - think four times what the supermarket brand costs for the same amount - but she's our one and only right now, and she's worth it. More than worth it.

She doesn't eat as much of this stuff either, so in a way it balances out. Instead of going  through a 3 KG bag of food in two weeks like she was before, she's going through one in about five to six weeks. She's been on it just over 3 weeks and there's more than half a bag left. I'd say that is a good thing!

Finally, we had an amazing Halloween/Samhain. Son dressed up in his usual, and I did all black and purple this year. Black shirt and jeans, my black sneakers with the purple laces, and even my black hoodie with my pen name on it in purple (gift from the mom in law and youngest brother in law last year).... Heck even my rings were black and purple for the  most part - the exception being my wedding band, which is plain with gold. I have a gothic style ring that's black with purple stones, and a black band that has purple stones in it, as well as two eternity bands in... you guessed it, PURPLE!!! I also had a black and purple witch hat and even feather earrings... Yeah, I went nuts, but who cares? At least my normal, every day look was actually toned down compared to what else was out there that night!

Witchy metal chick alert!

 

You can see my earrings better in this one:


Left hand:


Right hand!


Normally I wear an assortment of colors from my birth stone (pale green peridot) to the amethyst, but I wanted straight black and purple for the day. I'll probably do something similar IF I ever make a public appearance as an author... Yeah, like that will happen! LOL

I leave you with the official video for "Aces High" by Iron Maiden. Have a great week everyone!