Sunday, January 22, 2017

Writing News And Other Stuff I Have Going On...

I don't blog as often as I should; that's a given. I have a pretty busy life these days, so I check email, then make a quick stop on both Google+ and Facebook, and then I'm either off to babysitting, another round of appointments and errands, or I'm offline writing. When I say 'offline' I mean I'm not excessively checking email, playing games, or trolling social media. I might still be online doing background research or scrolling through dictionary and thesaurus sites, but I'm working at my PC. That's how you get stories written.

This past year I've been babysitting the two wee grandkids on Mondays and Fridays. The day starts around noon and ends at 5 to 6 PM. I don't get much done before I leave the house, and I'm tired by the time I get home. I don't regret a day of it though because I get to spend quality time with much of the family, and they honestly need my help. So writing has to wait for those days when I am at home.

We've had some renovation going on here, and while it really hasn't completely interfered with writing, it has turned the household upside down at times. There were things that had to be packed and moved more than once, and now and then I'd get called away to check something out. I wrote all through it on my days home, but was not quite as productive as I usually am. I did take a couple weeks off for the big end-of-the-year holidays, because there was so much to do, and with the bedrooms finished in time to move things around, we actually put up decorations and had the chance to host the family here for a change. I now have a living room and a bedroom of my own, which will eventually also have a desk with my PC—meaning I can shut the door and close the world out to concentrate solely on writing. Still don't have a dedicated internet hookup in there, but it's hopefully coming soon. I have my Macbook on a table so I can at least handle email and surf the web before bed. New possibilities are always exciting!

Not so excited about the recent health issues though...

Over the course of this year, my eyesight has worsened, and we've reached the point where something has to be done about that. I am severely nearsighted, and have been from a very young age. I've worn thick glasses since I was 9 years old. That's 50 years now. As an adult, I developed glaucoma, which is not too unusual in the greatly myopic. Something about the shape of our eyes makes them more susceptible to intraocular fluid build up. That excess fluid puts pressure on the cone-shaped optic nerve, flattening it and killing cells along the rim, stealthily robbing you of vision. I have a few blind spots in spite of 27 years of monitoring and medical intervention. I am currently on 4 different medications dispensed in daily eye drops, and I've had laser surgery in the right eye to burn in drains. None of this has lessened the fluid build up for any significant length of time. I also have cataracts now—not unusual at my age, but the one in the left eye has become very thick and leaves my vision in that eye hazy—like peering through a heavy curtain of milky plastic sheeting. Imaging equipment used to examine my optic nerve for damage from the glaucoma can no longer see through that thickened lens, so it has to go. The only reason I waited this long was that surgeons would not touch the cataract in my right eye, which had never fully developed. If I went ahead and had the cataract removed from my left eye it would have been replaced with an artificial lens that was created to be as severely nearsighted as the right eye. Then I'd wear the thick glasses for the rest of my life. That way my eyes would have a balanced vision my brain could interpret without causing constant headaches or perhaps even seizures. Yeah, my uncorrected vision is that bad.

The glaucoma not responding to treatment changed the playing field. Right now I am facing a two-in-one eye surgery on each eye, treating each one separately within a short period of time. I'm going to have stents placed in each eye to open up those drains and hopefully relieve that fluid pressure—a minimally invasive technique the specialist tells me. At the same time, that eye's cataract will be removed and a 20/20 distance vision artificial lens will be installed. One eye will be done at a time, with the left eye containing that thickened cataract being done first. Because of the need for the stents, my eye surgeon says he can justify removing both lenses, even though the right cataract is not very advanced. That is good news for me, because afterward I may only need reading glasses for close work. The surgeries are scheduled for mid-April and early May. I am cautiously optimistic. This should definitely benefit me as a writer as well. Eyestrain is a big issue for me.

Nothing of course can be simple. One of the ongoing problems this past year has been the struggle my longtime MD's office has had in keeping doctors and nurse practitioners on the payroll. Many of the area's medical practices as well as two local hospitals have been swallowed up by a large health conglomerate, and both personnel and patients are leaving in droves. I have stayed, mainly because my mother is seen by the same office, and she is at a critical stage in dementia where I'm uneasy about going to a new practice where people might not understand her past history and future needs. Plus she has only Medicare and the state medical card, and not everyone accepts the latter.  Mom and I have joint appointments so that I can answer questions and add my feedback to what is being observed, and at that the last one, it was discovered that I have an enlarged thyroid gland. Oh joy...

An ultrasound showed that I have a multinodular goiter, and so I will be seeing a specialist for biopsy and whatever treatment comes after that. Did I know something was wrong? Yes and no. I complained about extreme fatigue, hair loss, and dry skin a couple years ago and got a blood test, but the thyroid #s were normal—which I hear is not unusual. I now have a palpable lump in my neck. Keeping my fingers crossed that it is benign. I don't need to be fighting cancer on top of everything else I'm going through.

I'm still writing through all this medical hoo-ha. I wrote all around the construction and babysitting too. It's what I do and it gets my mind off the 'what if's'. I am nearing the finish of a new Vagabond Bards novel that I started back in late July. Yeah, it's been going slowly, but the book won't be released before 2018 at the earliest, so I'm still on schedule with my publisher obligations. Once the first draft of this novel is completed, I'll set it aside and concentrate on getting going on the 4th Jezebel Johnston pirate book. Along the way, I'll be working on anything that comes up. I get invited to write short pieces for anthologies now and then.

I have had some recent releases, which is what I know you really want to hear about...

Back in mid-November Pro Se Press released WHEN THE SHADOW SEES THE SUN—Creatives Surviving Depression. This is a multi-author charity anthology dedicated to a friend and writing colleague Logan Masterson, who dreamed up this very concept but sadly lost his battle with the disorder before it became a reality. This is a very important work, because it's all non-fiction accounts of how us creative types struggle with our own issues and how what we do aids or affects that. Very soulful reading here, and the proceeds of the book go to charities that support people with similar issues. A worthy read and one I hope you will pass the word on so that others can benefit as well. Available on, Barnes & Noble online, and Smashwords.

The second Pulptress anthology from Pro Se Press came out in mid-December, and Your's Truly has a short story in it. It's a slender volume and not too pricey, so if you enjoy some good old fashioned derring-do with mystery, intrigue, and high adventure with a gal who can kick butt and take names, this is the series for you! Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Here's something fun: JEZEBEL JOHNSTON: DEVIL'S HANDMAID is now available in an audiobook version! Oh yeah, over 6 hours of pirate pulpy goodness read by Brian Held Jr. Just think of the next time you have a long car or plane trip, or would like that boring weekly commute made more tolerable by having this audio recording to keep you company. One awesome way to let the hours fly by. Thanks to Airship 27 for pushing it out this month. Available on Amazon and

Brand spanking new from FLINCH BOOKS is RESTLESS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MUMMY HORROR. Yes, Your's Truly has actually written a horror story with a mummy in it. Oh you're going to love this book of fright-filled tales from beyond the grave. You might just want to leave the light on after reading any of these at bedtime, in case something comes shambling down the hallway... Run out and get a copy; RESTLESS is only in paperback on Amazon right now, but I understand that there are plans for a Kindle version down the road.

So you see, I kept writing, even if I wasn't blogging as often as I should. When I'm short on time and things are wonky in my life, writing is where I go to escape. Besides the precious moments with family and friends, I always make time for some creative fiction; and so other things like blogging, housework, and hanging out on social media get sort of shoved into the back room until I can spare the time to get back to them.

Hey, we all have to have our priorities!