Sunday, August 31, 2014

The View from the Office, i. e. The Bed

When you have a prolonged illness, you tend to think that your current situation is the new normal.

I have a lovely office. Here' s a few pictures of it:

Sadly, because of my mystery ailment, combined with my rheumatoid arthritis, I have a new office: i.e. my bed. And here is the view from it on most days (though the cat pictured may vary as I have three of the little darlings):

I don't like this. My office is a room of creativity and inspiration, and it makes me feel motivated whenever I work in it. But when you're taking painkillers, stairs aren't necessarily a good thing and when you're in pain, stairs aren't necessarily a good thing, either. Also, my office is in the attic and during the summer, it gets rather hot. That's the last thing I need as I continue to be battle hot flashes from menopause.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever return to my version of normal again. Granted, I'm not a healthy person and haven't been for some time. But at least I could work. I could exercise. There were days I could do neither, but they passed, and I would be able to continue.

It's been over a month since this whole medical journey has began. A month. I can hardly wrap my head around it. How is that possible? How can it be that with today's modern medicine, all three of the doctors I've seen have been unable to tell me what's wrong? (I go see a fourth on Wednesday). In the end, I suppose it's because the human body is still a mystery in many ways and medicine is a guessing game. Sometimes, you have definite indicators of a disease or ailment. Other times you have symptoms that don't fit what the medical community has previously observed. So, you wait. And you wait some more. And you deal with the pain the best way you know how. Unfortunately, that's meant a lot of chocolate for me, which, combined with lack of exercise and the whole hormone upheaval caused by menopause, has translated to some weight gain. That is frustrating. But chocolate is one of the ways I cope. It's one of the ways I get through the day. There will come a time when I start really watching how much of it I eat, but for now, I am not very disciplined in that area.

Amazingly enough, I have been able to keep writing during this time - and it's been glorious. I am editing my fifth novel and have enjoyed the process so much. I'm very blessed that lying in bed is conducive to writing instead of other activities, i.e. rock climbing! :D

And that's it for Sunday musings. Now I'm off to work on the novel.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I'm so happy I have a three-day weekend to enjoy. True, I haven't been back to the office (still!) since July 20, but I've been working-from-home since then, so I still am in need of a vacation.

And today is the beginning of that vacation.

Plans include writing, perhaps napping (though after two naps yesterday, I'm not quite sure I want to do that again), reading, and of course, watching a bit of college football. Our beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers start their season today and that is akin to a state-wide holiday here. I'm thankful, though, that my husband has a television in his garage where he can watch the game. That will spare my ears the noise of his yelling at the t.v. Yes, he's one of those guys.

In other news, well, the health stuff is still ongoing. No word yet on what my mystery ailment is. I'm still in pain and it really stinks. But I am grateful for medicine that makes it bearable and grateful that I can still function well enough to continue to work.

Also - where did August go? I can't believe it's August 30 already! Incredible.

Not much else to report, and I know this blog post isn't heavy on news or wisdom, but rather it was an excuse to write. Though really, who needs an excuse? If you want to write, then just write. :)

Happy weekend!

Monday, August 25, 2014

That Moment...

It's time for me to start working on my novel's query letter. I'm not done editing it yet, but I'm getting close. And no, I won't send out the query until I'm completely done editing.

Queries are always difficult. You would think that after writing back cover copy for fiction and non-fiction for the 7 years that it would be easy. Unfortunately, when it comes to my own book, it's not. At all.

So imagine my delight when the first few lines for a query popped into my head this morning. Unfortunately, I was driving in traffic after taking my daughter to school. Let me rephrase that. I was driving in morning rush hour traffic. Translated, this means: you better watch what you're doing.

As I didn't want to pull over and write down those two sentences, I kept repeating them to myself over and over again on the way home. Thankfully, by the time I pulled into the driveway, I hadn't forgotten them.

It's moments like these that I love - when inspiration strikes, no matter where you are or what you might be doing. It's one of the joys of writing.

Ever had inspiration strike in an odd place?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Blog: A Diary of My Life

I started my blog in 2005. I faithfully posted nearly every day for a good year before I began to ease off and post only 2-3 times a week. But it became the "story of my life" to borrow the title of a popular pop song. Whenever I need to look up a date for one of my many surgeries, I turn to my blog. When I want to remember what I was doing for Christmas in 2008, I turn to my blog.

Unfortunately, since I haven't been as faithful in posting to my blog the past few years, I can no longer rely on it for certain dates. However, I do journal a lot, so there's that. But I have to admit that I really miss recording my life online.

Which is kind of odd. Some people would say I am too personal on here, sharing things that should only be talked about behind closed doors. I happen to disagree. In addition to my writing life, I've blogged about my health issues (several times!), my struggles with depression, my challenges as a mother, and so on. All important.

That's one thing the Internet has been wonderful for: opening up the door to issues that have long remained locked away. I can reach out to others who are struggling with the same things I am; likewise, they can find me and see that they are not alone.

So I'll keep blogging. I'll keep sharing. Sure, the posts may be few and far in between, and sure, I may look back someday and lament that I didn't post as much during certain years, but that's life. We go in cycles with certain things. Blogging is one of those things for me.

And now, it's time to get back to that novel...

Oh - before I go, here is a pic of me in my 1940s-esque finery. I had a book signing over the weekend, and I wanted to look the part as much as possible.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's Past 1 A.M.

My sleep schedule has been really off lately thanks to my mystery pain. Painkillers will do that to you, as well as unscheduled naps throughout the day.

But tonight, I'm glad for the interrupted sleep. The house is quiet, one of my kitties is sitting on the chair, and rain is falling softly outside.

And I'm writing.

It's so incredibly peaceful that I'll gladly sacrifice sleep to be here now, at this moment, doing what I love.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Still Here (Though Not Necessarily Kicking...)

Read through my blog for the past what, seven years?, and you will see the many, many problems I've had with my health. I am often a medical mystery, and as one of my doctor's told me today, I am always full of surprises.

Two weeks ago, I had surgery to remove my remaining ovary. I was having pain on that side (left) and an ultrasound showed an ovarian cyst. I've had numerous (and I do mean numerous) cysts before, but this one seemed to be causing more problems than it was worth. So, I decided to go ahead and get it taken out.

Well, the surgery went fine. Instant menopause wasn't too big of a deal (I was weepy for one day and that's about it, plus had a few very minor hot flashes). But the pain I'd been experiencing before the surgery hasn't gone away.

Back to the doctor I went. She ordered a pelvic/abdominal CT scan. I had to drink that awful barium contrast stuff. Ick, ick, ick. HATE that stuff. She also did a bunch of bloodwork to see if I had an infection or if my kidneys were okay.

Well, I got the results back and here's the verdict:

Everything is normal.

This is good news and bad news. Good news, of course, that they didn't find anything abnormal. Bad news because it doesn't offer me an explanation for the pain.

I've been down this route before and it's agonizingly frustrating when you don't have answers to what the problem is. So now I'm off to see a GI specialist.

And yes, I've played Google Doctor for the past week trying to figure out what is wrong. Google tells me I'm either dead or going to die soon or that I have a condition so rare that it hasn't been seen since 1654.

I'm kidding, but you get the point.

At any rate, my job has been absolutely wonderful in letting me work from home, so there's that. There's also this:

My kitty has rarely left my side these past two weeks. She's helping me get through whatever this is, as is my incredibly helpful daughter (who starts school next week!), my husband, and the rest of my family.

But oh, how I tire of being a medical mystery. Still, there are advantages to being mostly in bed all the time. In addition to keeping up with my job, I've been able to work on my novel quite a bit, read, and watch t.v. (my daughter is slowly catching me up on Supernatural, but I doubt I'll ever get it all as it's endlessly complicated).

So I'm still here. I'm not kicking as that may hurt too much, but I'm determined to figure out what's wrong with me and get back to a semi-normal, healthy life.

And that's the news from the trenches.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Plotting Retreat

Yesterday I spent the entire day plotting novels with two of my good writing buddies. It was glorious.

If you have a couple of friends and a spare day, I highly suggest setting up a plotting retreat. It's fairly simple, and works best with about three people. You'll need to clear off your schedule for one whole day - we started at 9 a.m. and went until 7:30 p.m. Here's what we did.

1) Before the retreat, each of us had the concepts for two novels in mind. Homework included working on character sketches, GMCs, backstories, etc.

2) On the day of the retreat, we met at our friend's house. It was cozy and comfortable, and most importantly, there was no dress code! Since I'm still struggling to heal from my recent surgery, I was able to recline the entire time and was quite content (yes, we had chocolate!).

3) Each session is comprised of one hour and fifteen minutes. We set a timer so we wouldn't get off track. We took turns plotting out each person's book. I was first. So, for one hour and fifteen minutes, we plotted out my next novel from beginning to end. Then, after taking a fifteen minute break, the next person went. We did this all day long, stopping for breaks and to eat lunch and supper.

In the end, each of us plotted two books a piece. Suffice to say that we were all brain dead by the time we were done, but what a productive day! There's something about brainstorming with other writers that makes it so much easier to come up with ideas. It also helps you to stay on track and not let your plot wander off into no man's land.

This kind of plotting basically constructs the spine and the bare bones of your novel. It leaves lots and lots of room open for change and development. I'm quite excited because I only had the threads of my next story in mind, but now I know exactly which direction to take it.

Have a great week!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Write Because I Must

Quite shocking, yes. I'm putting up two posts within a week's time! What is wrong with me?

The short answer: I have loads of time on my hands.

The longer answer: I have loads of time on my hands because it's taking me forever to recover from surgery. If you detected a slight hint of frustration in that sentence, you'd be correct. I haven't returned to work yet, which means I've been watching a lot of movies (current one playing is "Thunderball" - a James Bond movie), doing a lot of tweeting, reading, napping, and eating (I am not proud of the last item, I assure you).

I've also been doing a lot of writing and/or thinking about writing. I can't get away from it. I don't want to get away from it.

In fact, if you're so interested, you can hop over to the Modern Belles of History blog and read about how I've started to explore deeper themes in my writing. There are times on the writing journey where it's fun to look back and see how our writing has changed - not just style-wise, but in what we choose to write about.

This weekend, I'm doing a plot retreat with two of my writing pals. We're meeting in our friend's home and that means I can take my pain pills (no driving will be involved!) and be able to relax on a couch in comfy clothes. I've got two story ideas I want to plot and I'm looking forward to working on both.

If I'm to be laid up in bed for the most part, I might as well make the most of my time doing what I love, correct?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It Has Begun

Ever since I had my daughter 14 years ago, I've had female issues. One ovary was removed in 2011. I had a hysterectomy in 2012 (but left an ovary so I didn't go into menopause). Well, I just had surgery last week to take out the ovary as I had a cyst growing inside of it (I didn't even know that was possible!) and it's been causing all sorts of havoc.

I've lived with going to the gynecologist's office several times a year for the past 14 years. I've used tons of sick leave. I've spent far too much time in bed nursing the next problem to come around the bend. Thus, when this latest issue came up, I decided enough was enough.

Only problem? Once the ovary was removed, BAM: instant menopause.

Well, it's been four days since the surgery and I haven't had any hot flashes yet. In fact, if I'm having any menopause symptoms at all, it's my mood's insistence on being just fine one minute and down in the dumps the next. I'm already on a low dose of estrogen and I'm hoping that having the same dose every day instead of the erratic ups and downs I've experienced for years will actually be a good thing. Time will tell.

I've been sleeping a lot (and having the most bizarre, disturbing dreams ever) and trying to read when I feel like it. I take pain pills to help manage my pain and while they make me feel really good for awhile, I tend to 'crash' about two hours after I take them and feel apathetic and not in the mood to do much of anything.

Recovery is never an easy process, of course, as I've found out countless other times. I'm hopeful to return to work on Monday, but we'll see how it goes.

And the writing? I'm still at it. Funny that snatches of my main character's life are trickling through my brain now after I've already written the second draft, but they have really filled in all the missing sections of his makeup quite nicely. I understand him better now.

Blogging? Well, I don't do it very much anymore and that makes me rather sad. I'll stop by every once in awhile and post, but regular schedules are pretty much out. Though it might be worth toying with the idea of sticking to a schedule just for discipline's sake and for the sake of writing on deadline. Deadlines have a way of getting me to work, even if they are self-imposed.

In other news, I was late to the party once again and just recently became a Doctor Who fan. I remember watching the old ones when I was a kid - I believe Tom Baker was the Doctor at the time (he was the Fourth Doctor), but I do have to say that David Tennant is "my" doctor. I haven't watched any episodes with Matt Smith yet, and the brand new ones with Peter Capaldi as a much older doctor should be quite interesting.

And that's about it from this end of the universe.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rainy Days

It's a glorious day outside.

Rain, thunder, lightning, and grey clouds.

Yep, that's a glorious day in my book. I only wish I could be at home, writing on the couch or in my office, and listening to the rain fall. These kind of days energize me in a way sunny days just can't.

Apparently there is a name for this: pluviophile.

So, I am a proud pluviophile.

Methinks I need to move to England...