Quick Update

Unforgivable. I have not posted since May. And with a brand-new website, too!

But I’ve been writing. A lot.

I like to have two things going on, so while I am drafting a new novel, I am also revising one of my existing novels. In this case, I am converting an entire novel from first person to third, and I am adding another POV character. It’s a big job, but I’m over halfway finished.

When I finish, I’ll repolish the query and synop, and begin sending it places while I turn my attention back to my new project.

In other news, my health is finally improved. I finally feel over the dreadful antibiotics that I had to go on this time last year, and which, I swear, wiped me out for a solid year. I figured out some of my sleeping issues (absolutely no sugar or milk products after six) and it is a wonder what enough rest can do for you.

Finally, I got Scrivener, which is a writing tool specially suited for large projects such as novels and screenplays (and, apparently, legal briefs), and I have started a software review. I’ll try to finish that up soon.

So I had the good fortune of losing my Fitbit …

Why was that a good thing? Sometimes good things come in roundabout ways.

  • Problem: I couldn’t sleep through the night.
  • Solution: I bought a Fitbit One to help me track my sleep (and activity).

Fitbit gave me a lot of raw data. I was either “awake” “restless” or “asleep” in tiny slices throughout the night, oftentimes each slice only one minute long. All this raw data was hard to make much sense out of, but one thing I did know: on a good night, I only get about 6 hours of sleep. Enough to not be a zombie, but not enough to sustain my creativity. At the end of a workday, I was always wiped out, and I certainly did not have enough creativity left in me to do things like writing or blogging.

  • New Problem: I lost my Fitbit. I wanted to replace it.
  • Solution: I looked for a new sleep tracker. Preferably something better.

I had two qualifications:

One, it had to have good reviews for sleep tracking.

Two: it had to share data with my Apple HealthKit app. The fact that Fitbit did not share such data was a huge strike against it, and was a mistake I did not intend to repeat.

I wanted to get a tracker for my daughter as well, because I suspected she had sleep issues, and another one for my husband, because he was holding his Fitbit Charge together with superglue. Literally.

So when I saw the Misfit Charge had great reviews, communicated with HealthKit and it was only 20 dollars, it was a no-brainer.

Why is it so cheap? Turns out, the Misfit Charge is also being marketed as a smart button, and Misfit really wants them to be useful enough for you to want two or three of them. So I did buy three of them, one for every member of the family, plus I bought a five-pack of wristbands.

And thus, the reason why the loss of the Fitbit was a good thing: thanks to the improved sleep analysis of my Misfit, I discovered that I am a light sleeper. That should have been obvious, I guess, but the raw data from the Fitbit was really difficult to analyze. Once I realized that miscellaneous outdoor noises were waking me up, I started playing with white noise apps, and my sleep problems are almost over.

Oh, I still get the occasional stomach ache and headache, but I can hardly blame my Misfit for that.

As for my creativity? Well, over the weekend I wrote almost 5000 words for an entirely new story. And tonight, I wrote this blog post.

I’d say it’s back.

This Danged Growing Older Thing!

So a few years ago, it was bifocals. Now, for the second time after an x-ray, I heard the A word.

Arthritis. So.

On the one hand, at least I know what is causing this new, unwelcome pain.

On the other, it’s chronic. I gotta learn to live with it.

On the one hand, I also have arthritis in my shoulder, and after some therapy, I have learned to live with the pain, and most of the time, to avoid experiencing it in the first place. When the pain strikes, I know what to do.

On the other hand, in order to get to that point, I gotta have that therapy. For which I must wait.

In the meantime, it’ll take gentle back stretches, heat packs, anti-inflammatories, and time. Oh, and Aspercream. I may also look into tai chi.

There are some other things that might be contributing to this issue, one that can be somewhat controlled with diet (and which I manage to control most of the time) and the other which may be fixable with surgery. Maybe in the next year. Not now. I’ll try the therapy first.

So, now that I know what’s going on, and now that I know that the painful act of sitting is not actually causing any damage (even though it feels like it is), I am going to attempt to resume my usual activities. And, with a little discipline, I hope for that to mean that I resume a more regular blogging schedule. ūüôā

A Walk in the Woods – a Picture Post

There are few simple activities that I enjoy more than a walk in the woods. I’m fortunate in that in this part of North Florida, we have some pretty nice woods–not too swampy most of the time.

Today, I wanted to take a walk in the woods, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. Therefore, I thought I’d post some pictures of my last walk in the woods just a few short weeks ago.

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The Shadowy Ones — my daughter and me

It’s just a simple park–really, a woody spot that run alongside a highway, where no one would have build anything, anyway.

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Note the highway beyond the trees.
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After another bend in the path, or two. Seems like hours had passed, but we were only there thirty or forty minutes.

In the next few photos, I’m trying to be artsy.

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I love taking these dizzying “up” photos.
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And I try to frame things.
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This up photo has a more prominent subject.

And finally, a small field and a swamp … er, a pond.

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This is probably the biggest field in the woody part of the park. (There’s also a soccer field and a playground, but I don’t count those.)
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A swamp that tries to be a pond.

Dig those lilly pads!

I must admit that I do miss the more vibrant–and less buggy–woods of Northern Arizona. And I have some fond memories of wandering in some woods in Northern Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Northern England. Each had their own charms.

Do you have a favorite outdoors spot?

Life and Stuff. Plus Some Books.

It seems like a year since I posted last, even though I know it hasn’t been so long. But it HAS been a rough year. Not terrible–just a little rough.

After the most productive writing year of my life, during which I completed two novels (2015), I had the LEAST productive writing year of my life. I blame insomnia for making me just tired enough to make writing (including blogs and submitting said books to agents) a chore rather than a pleasure.

Chores are no fun.

My insomnia seems to stem from persistent intestinal gas that strikes at about 4:00 AM every night. No matter what I eat. I don’t like to go to bed particularly early, since I like to squeeze as much living into my life as possible, but when I am up at 4, it makes it difficult to function when I don’t go to bed until 11. When I went to bed earlier, the gas would merely strike earlier. I’d still be awake for about two hours, resulting in oversleeping, getting into work later than I wanted, and therefore working later into the evening than I wanted, resulting in a vicious cycle.

The good news is that melatonin seems to be helping. I still wake up with the gas, but the melatonin makes me sleepy enough most nights to be able to get back to sleep without lying there for hours. I am still working on getting a solid week of at least 6.5 hours of sleep. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer.

So that’s all.

I’m thinking about renaming my blog to something like Life, Writing, and Stuff. Yeah, I know that name sucks. I may play with formats and titles over the next few weeks. I also need to figure out if I want to move this blog out of wordpress.com and into a self-hosted site. I meant to do it last year (and the year before, and the year before), but I had that terrible infection. Yeah, yeah, excuses. And–oh, yeah–I did say that was all, didn’t I? One more thing …

What I’m Reading Now

I am slowly reading The Dreaming Hunt by Cindy Dees, which is the sequel to The Sleeping King. I meant to review The Sleeping King last year, but see above. I’m almost done with it and it has been pretty entertaining because it is much like reading the adventures of a RPG group going through a long-term campaign. Five adventurers (or maybe six) fighting their way through battles with all kinds of fantasy races, while constantly being healed and even resurrected when necessary. Maybe I’ll review both books together when I’m done. (However, any such review will be WAY more informal than those I used to write. I am still not considering myself a book reviewer. It’s just stuff I’m reading.)

That really is it, this time. What have you been up to? Any good fantasy book recommendations?

Aah … Autumn!

I hate it when I start a post, and then I can’t finish it for days! The original title of this post was Summer’s Over Tomorrow! My life is too hectic.

Since I live in Florida, the end of summer is definitely¬†something to celebrate. Now maybe, I’ll come out of my hibernation. The weather has actually been much better than usual in recent weeks. We had a brutally hot July and early August, but a tropical storm passed by a few weeks ago, and brought milder weather with it. I’m hoping the hot summer means we have a nice, cold winter. We have not had a cold winter in several years.

And now I can feel autumn in the air! Our Chinese Flame Tree is ready to flame up!

I have not been reading as much as usual. When I do read, it has been nonfiction. The first is¬†Cicero by Anthony Everitt. I have a fascination with Rome and especially Cicero, who Everitt brands as “Rome’s Greatest Politician”, and I’ve had this book for quite a while, now. I’m slogging through the chapters on his early life right now. I’m hoping I’ll see more of the writings by Cicero in the chapters ahead. Also, my boss is being a good mentor and sent me home with a technical book called Design Patterns. It’s actually much more engaging than you might think.

We did not go anywhere this summer, other than two trips to Melbourne. We keep talking about taking a trip to Pensacola, and I hope to make that happen sometime this fall or winter (or spring).

That and writing is most of what I’ve been up to. How about you?

~*~

Got a book in the mail called The Dreaming Hunt by Cindy Dees. It reminded me of a book I read a while ago called, The Sleeping King. I intended to review it, but never did, so I hope to work on that this week. I don’t normally review books anymore, but every once in a while, I make an exception. I do still like to read, and I do still like discussing books, after all!

Making Some Changes

I had to adjust to a new reality recently. In fact, I’m still going through it.

Losing over 40 pounds has not been without its side-effects. You never hear about the drawbacks of weight loss, only the benefits. Well–not to discourage anyone who is trying to lose weight–my particular drawback has been a new sensitivity in my hips and tailbone.

Do I want to gain the weight back? Absolutely not. So far, the benefits still outweigh the costs. I am now down to half a blood pressure pill a day, and the Florida heat hardly bothers me at all anymore. I fit into the world better, making it more comfortable. But I realized that I needed to do something about this chronic pain if I want to get back to my old writing schedule. And I started in the past few weeks.

The first change is I moved my recliner into a different room, and moved an old reclining couch back in our family room. The reclining couch does not recline back as far as my old rocking recliner, so all my weight does not end up concentrated in one place at the base of my spine. I also realized that some strategic positioning of cushions has been making the problem worse, not better.

The second change is to move my writing area back to an actual desk, instead of any¬†recliner. So I bought a nice office chair and started working at an old writing desk I had. However, my laptop is too large to fit into the area designed¬†for the smaller laptops of yesteryear (ok, so the desk isn’t that old), and the drawer prevents me from pulling my new office chair all the way up. I looked around for a nice corner desk, but they were all too elaborate and expensive, and looked too difficult to move. (I know because I’ve had such desks in the past.) I will be visiting a used office furnishing store this week to see if I can find an old Steelcase corner unit, but in the meantime, I have pushed two 4-foot tables into an L shape. It is comfortable enough that¬†I have been able to work here off-and-on for most of the day. My next book finally feels like it is taking shape.

The last change I am making is exercises to pump up my — er — derriere. There’s no fat at the base of my butt anymore (although there’s still plenty higher up), but I know there’s muscle back there, so if I can bulk it up a bit, maybe it won’t hurt to sit anymore. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past ten years, is to not let your muscles atrophy. It actually causes pain. My shoulders usually don’t bother me anymore, and if they do, a nice round of the same exercises that my therapist taught me is as good as a pain pill. The same kind of thinking keeps my feet from hurting. An old friend who was born with no kneecaps told me that if she had not kept exercising over the years, she’d be in a wheelchair by now. So where there’s pain, I tend to add exercise. I’ll report later if it helps–I just started yesterday.

I guess these are good problems to have, rather than the problems my obesity were causing and threatening to cause to my health. Still, a problem is a problem, and it’s encouraging to take some steps to solve it. The last step I intend to take is to mention the issue at my annual physical, which I need to schedule. Hopefully the doctor will be able to recommend some things I haven’t thought of.

Knocked Flat by Antibiotics

Hopefully, I’m back.

Where have I been? It’s kind of an epic. A lot of people, when they get sick, hang out online. When I get sick, I go low-tech. I read lots of books. The only time I fire up the computer is to lose myself in a computer game. So that’s where I’ve been.

I wasn’t “sick” sick. No fever, runny nose, or chills. I had an infected sebaceous cyst.¬†It had been growing larger and larger for a number of years, and it started feeling funny just after Easter, so I went to see my PA about getting it removed. She gave me a referral to a dermatologist to get it drained. But I never had a chance to get it drained, because it started swelling and turning red. Heh. I guess that’s why it felt funny.

I left her a message, but the doctor called me back instead. This was on a Tuesday. He put me on an antibiotic with a steroid, and warned me that I may need to get it lanced. Ouch. That just sounded so painful. I took the antibiotics, but by Friday, it was clear that it was only getting worse. I went in and as we walked in the door, he said, “Miss Patricia (my real name), are we going to have to do surgery?”

I said, I think so. I showed it to him, and it had already started to rupture.

With the help of an assistant, he cut two small incisions into the cyst, and then proceeded to squeeze the hell out of it. The damned thing was about ten years old, and it took significant effort to squeeze all that crap out. It hurt way worse than the incisions. He handed me a script for a truly wicked antibiotic called clindamycin, told me to draw a circle around the red area, and to change to this new antibiotic if the redness spread outside the circle.

My sweet husband went to fill that prescription at 10:00 that night.

The clindamycin kicked that infection right in the ass. The wound would heal at a miraculous rate, and then would break open to drain, only to heal over again. This went on for a week. It finally healed for the last time, but remains an ugly purple scar.

A week and a day after I took that last pill, the fun began. I won’t in all the gory details, but ever since I took those antibiotics, I have had every type of infection you can have, except for parasites. This includes a case of shingles that turned out to be mercifully mild. I now have a toothache, and I think the timing is suspicious. I can’t find any kind of lesion or broken skin around that tooth, but it looks like I’ll have to let the dentist see for himself. You can bet I’ll be telling him about the clindamycin.

So what have I been reading? I finished Karen Azinger’s Silk & Steel Saga, which is a seven book series. I reviewed the first three books here. I read the second book in Blake Charlton’s series (here’s a review of the first book). ¬†I read a debut called The Sherlockian, by Graham Moore. He doesn’t have a website, which I find baffling, but he has a Wikipedia page.

What computer games have I been playing? I discovered that my old PC copy of Skyrim plays quite nicely on my PC, so I started a new game. I never seem to finish these games, so this time, I did something different–I jumped right into the main quest. I finished the Civil War, and now I’m about two-thirds of the way through the main quest. My character is a paladin/spellsword who specializes in one-handed, block, heavy armor, restoration, speechcraft, smithing, and enchanting. She has been single-minded in her focus, and has pursued very few quests outside of her main residences. It’s so much funner this way.

What have you been up to?

Quick Update

Hi, everyone. I see it has been a while since I last posted. All is well; I guess you can call it an extended hiatus. I also really want to get off wordpress.com and back onto a self-hosted wordpress implementation. I think my enthusiasm will return once I have full control over my site again. I just need to be able to combat spammers, so I am being quite picky about web hosting.

Other than that, it has been the same old stuff for me. I have a stack of books that I’d like to review, and another stack to read. I have also been writing and revising and polishing–also as usual. And–I must admit–I have been playing entirely too much Skyrim. (I discovered that my new computer plays Skyrim quite well, to the detriment of my more productive endeavors. So it’s really like playing it for the first time.)

So I’m off to review web hosts! Let me know if you have any recommendations.