I Stayed Up All Night Writing This

Posted by M. K. Waller

[Forgive me. This post is longer than I intended, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I had no idea I’m so enlightened. If you stop reading before the end, I’ll forgive you. But you’ll miss the good part.]

My husband once told me that when I tell stories, I should start with the headline. So here it is.

Before

My CT scan twelve months after completing radiation treatments was clear.

The first time I posted about having cancer, I said I would write about the experience. I am a writer, I said, so I will write, or words to that effect.

The statement dripped with drama. You can practically hear the rolling r‘s: I will wr-r-r-r-r-r-ite.

Such overstatement is normal. We newbie writers are always trying to reassure ourselves. We’re just starting out, we haven’t published much (or anything at all), we don’t make a living from writing* (we may make nothing at all), we ‘re not confident in our abilities, and–let’s face it–much of what we write stinks (and we don’t know it stinks until a member of a critique group tells us).

Established writers encourage us: If you write, you are a writer. Believe it. Say you’re a writer.

We believe it until someone asks what we do. Then we either clam up; shuffle our feet, look at the floor, and mumble, I’m a wmbrl; or declare, too loudly, I’m a WRITER. Then we blush and shuffle our feet. 

After publishing the aforementioned post, I re-read it, then blushed and shuffled my feet. I’m been shuffling ever since.

But moving on:

When I said I would write, I probably had the idea I would learn secrets of the universe and share them in capital letters and red ink.

But I’ve had no mystical experiences. Altogether, it’s been mostly humdrum. But I’ve learned a few things about myself, and about life in general, and I’ll share those:

  • Chemotherapy isn’t the same for everyone. I went around saying the side effects were mild.  When I’d been off the evil drug for a month or two, I realized I had felt pretty rotten. Still, I was lucky. It wasn’t that bad. Surgery wasn’t difficult either. Radiation was nothing: I showed up for twenty consecutive days, let the techs admire my cute socks, and went home. That was it. Lucky.
  • Being complimented on my taste in socks makes me feel good. The radiation techs liked the ninjas and the cats wearing glasses the best. The oncologist asked what the ninjas were; I had to tell him I didn’t know. One of the techs told me. I don’t know why the oncologist was looking at my socks.
  • Phase I

     

  • I have no vanity. Hats and turbans were hot. I tossed them, went around bald, and discovered my head, just like Hercule Poirot’s, is egg-shaped.
  • It’s possible to survive for months on Rice Krispies, as long as you don’t run out of sugar.
  • If you don’t drink enough water, you keel over in the oncologist’s office, where you went just to check that great big lymph node that popped up under your jaw, and end up in the hospital. If your temperature doesn’t go down, the night nurse comes in and jerks your three blankets off, and you spend the night under a thin little sheet, slowly turning into an icicle, but your temperature goes down. (That’s opposite to the way my mother did it, but whatever.) They call in a specialist in communicable diseases who orders tests, and when you ask the nurse what they found, she comes bopping in about midnight and says, “Guess what! You have the common cold.” And she’s so sweet and so cute, you feel bad about nearly (deliberately) knocking her off the bed while she was trying to do that nasal swab.
  • Airports have wheelchairs. Thinking you can get from gate to gate without one is dumb. Don’t try it.
  • Phase II

    Chemo brain is real. At present I am dumb as dirt, and not in the way mentioned above. I picked up a brochure about chemo brain at the clinic and, I am proud to say, was able to read (most of) it with my forty-five-year-old Spanish. Because I knew what it said before I picked it up: It’s real, don’t worry, talk to your family/friends/counselor/minister/doctor/whoever and tell them to get used to it, make a habit of writing-things-down-putting-your-keys-in-the-same-place-when-you’re-not-using-them-everything-you-ought-to-be-doing-now-anyway, and it’ll go away, maybe. I may have missed a couple of points. If I ever want to know what they are, I’ll google.

  • Chemo hair is curly. I knew it would be curlier than before, but it is c u r l y. I’m tempted to get it buzzed off again.
  • TRIGGER WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES: When a twelve-year-old flat-chested surgeon you have to see because your surgeon went on vacation–my doctors always go on vacation–insists you must wear a sports bra and says, “We’re going to get you out of that pretty lacy bra,” do not hold back. Tell her that pretty lacy bra is made of cast iron, and that all the bras you’ve ever had since like 1962 have been made of cast iron, and that sports bras might as well be made of spider webs, and she can take a long walk off a short pier. You’ll feel a lot better if you say that. I would have felt a lot better if I had.
  • The kindness of strangers is real. When they see a woman with no hair, they understand what’s going on. Women wearing turbans whisper, “Good luck.” People smile. If you wobble a bit, they run to prop you up and offer to help you get wherever you’re going. I didn’t have to take them up on the offers–my wobbling, like my reaction to chemo, was mild–but I appreciated every one of them. Mr. Rogers’ mother told him when things got scary, to “look for the helpers.” She was right. They’re out there.
  • In addition to boosting your immune system, a smile can lift your spirits. It’s good for your doctors, nurses, and everyone else in the clinic as well. Oncologists don’t have it easy. They need all the support they can get.
  • Phase Now

    According to my radiation oncologist, cancer is now a chronic disease. But in one way it’s the same as it was when I was a child: It’s kept under wraps. The word isn’t whispered as it was then, but it isn’t spoken too loudly. That’s one reason I didn’t cover my head. The topic needs to be brought out into the open. People need to see.

  • On the other hand, a little denial can be a good thing. And it can be balanced with acceptance.
  • I didn’t fall apart when told my prognosis, including the average length of survival. I’d always wondered what I would do under those circumstances, and now I know. That time, at least.

Most important, and over and over, I learned that David is good. Not a good husband, or a good man, but good. I knew it when I married him. Every day, he proves me right.

Finally, I learned something else I already knew: There isn’t enough time. We all know it, but the knowledge carries more weight for some of us than for others.

I think of Andrew Marvell:

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime….
   But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.

And of Keats:

When I have fears that I may cease to be 
   Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, 
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery, 
   Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; 
When I behold, upon the night’s starred face, 
   Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, 
And think that I may never live to trace 
   Their shadows with the magic hand of chance; 
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, 
   That I shall never look upon thee more, 
Never have relish in the faery power 
   Of unreflecting love—then on the shore 
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think 
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

My brain isn’t teeming, and certainly not at the level of a Keats, but I would like to write more than I have. I’d like to do a number of things I won’t have time–would never have had time–to do. Time’s winged chariot is following close. Still, I commit the crime of wasting what I should spend. The post I wrote last month about playing Candy Crush is not fiction. But…

The next CT scan comes in March. Till then, I’ll write what I can, do what I can, and say what Anne Lamott calls little beggy prayers.

The Usual

In other words, I’ll go on with life as usual.

 

 

 

***

“Statue of Angelina Eberly” by Kit O’Connell is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Via Wikipedia.

The Usual photograph is detail from a statue of Angelina Eberly, the “Savior of Austin,” that stands at the corner of 6th Street and Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas. In 1842, following the Texas Revolution, Sam Houston sent Texas Rangers to Austin to remove the government archives to Washington-on-the-Brazos, where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed (and very near the town of Houston). Houston claimed Austin was too vulnerable to Indian attack for the documents to be safe there.

Angelina and other residents of Austin, the capital of the Republic of Texas, claimed Houston was stealing the records because he wanted to make the city of Houston the capital. Angelina knew Sam Houston didn’t like Austin; he made no secret of his dislike, and while president of the Republic, had lived at her inn instead of at the official residence. The fact that the Rangers came under cover of darkness gave more credence to the her view.

When Angelina heard the Texas Rangers up to no good, she hurried to 6th and Congress and fired off the town cannon. She missed the Rangers but blew the side off the General Land Office building. Noise from the cannon alerted the populace, who came running and scared off the Rangers.

Thanks to Angelina Eberly, Austin remained the capital of the Republic of Texas, and is  capital of the State of Texas to this day.

The statue of Angelina Eberly was sculpted by cartoonist Pat Oliphant. The accompanying plaque attributes Austin’s continued status as Texas’ most premier city to Angelina’s combination of “vigilance and hot temper.”

***

*Stephen King makes a living by writing. Danielle Steel makes a living by writing. Mary Higgins Clark makes a living by writing. Agatha Christie made a whale of a living by writing. Other writers either have a day job or have won the lottery.

***

Literature does have its purpose. If you doubt it, see my post on Telling the Truth, Mainly: “A Mind Unhinged.” It isn’t as long as this one.

John Keats, “When I have fears”

Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress”

***

I am a writer and I wr-r-r-r-r-r-ite. My short stories appear in Austin Mystery Writers’ crime fiction anthology, Murder on Wheels; in the anthology Day of the Dark: Stories of Eclipse; and in the Fall/Winter 2012/2013 issue of the online magazine Mysterical-E (which I like to think of as the one with the dog on the cover). Another of my stories will appear in Austin Mystery Writers’ second anthology, Lone Star Lawless, coming soon from Wildside Press. I at Telling the Truth, Mainly and at Austin Mystery Writers.

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MishMash and Thoughts

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of mishmash is a confused mixture of things. It perfectly defines life right now. (No, I’m not talking politics. I leave that to those who are passionate about it.)

So what do I mean by life right now? Life is and always has been confusing. We learn as we go along, making mistakes and enjoying triumphs. We plan our journey, and do everything the way we think it should be, then…bam…some challenge gets thrown your way. The key to getting somewhere, go with the flow.

disparate-thoughts

I always thought I would be a performer, and I have been. I decided at fifteen I would work with criminals. Been there, done that. I’ve always written, but didn’t think non-fiction would be in the picture. *OOPS* Teach me to think life didn’t have another idea.

The thing is, life really is a mishmash, but it isn’t such a bad thing. Instead, I prefer to think of all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in my lifetime as gifts. If I hadn’t started spending weekends in the research section of the library, I’d have missed out on some great friendships. I also probably would never have found the women doctors, and written scholarly papers on such diverse subjects as ancient volcanos, film commissioners and of course women doctors.

simple-songs

If my parents hadn’t encouraged me to take chances, to follow dreams and not worry about how others viewed me, I wouldn’t have been an acting teacher, played music professionally and been an actor. Because no one told me I couldn’t, I live a blessed life. So bring on the mishmash.

I’d like to share some of the thoughts of Mark Twain about life. Hope you enjoy the mishmash.

  1. You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
  2. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
  3. The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
  4. Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.
  5.  It is curious–curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.
  6. There are not enough morally brave men in stock. We are out of moral-courage material.

And my favorite:
Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here A

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

 

Keep the Promises You Make to Yourself

CindyCarrollESome promises take longer to keep than others but promises you make to yourself are important. Promises for me come in different forms. Goals I set for myself every year. Daily, weekly, or monthly promises I’ll make. They’re easy to off handedly say, “I’ll read more this week.” Or “I’ll watch what I eat.” Even promises to take better care of yourself are easy to think and forget. This year I’m doing a better job at keeping those promises I made to myself.

Copyright JanPietruszka from Bigstock

The first promise I make to myself every year is to lose weight and get into better shape. But this time the promise had another one attached to it. Something I desperately wanted to do but not if I was overweight. So maybe that promise was promise number one. In any case, I’ve stuck to my weight loss plan because I had the other promise in mind. The Supernatural convention in Toronto this year has been a goal since I found out they had the conventions in Toronto. This year’s is even more important because they aren’t coming back to Toronto next year. I didn’t know this when I made the initial weight loss goal so I’m glad I stuck to the weight loss plan all these months. As of last weigh in I’m down 42.6 pounds. Those photo ops I have planned should turn out really well!

Another promise I make every year is to save money. But what does that look like? How much money? I tended to be vague but this time I knew I needed the money for something specific. The Supernatural convention. Targets help a lot. I had a weight loss target for a specific date so I’ve stayed on track. I had a monetary target so I could go to the convention and do the photo ops I wanted so I went without shopping, specialty coffees, buying lunch at work so I could save.

I promised I would actually publish something longer than a short story. I still haven’t done that yet but that’s in the works. Success at publishing can’t happen unless you release your work into the wild and let people read it. For the longest time I’ve been concentrating on getting words written. Have to get more words done. Have to write when I get home. Have to take a week off to write. But I wasn’t revising works that were already written and releasing them. After a talk with my husband and a good friend who is also a writer I realized I’m afraid to release something in my name. I have over twenty stories up under pen names. But only four short stories under mine, three of those are in anthologies. I made the decision to work on revisions of two completed stories so I can release those. Then I’ll work on new words.

I promised I would read more this year and so far I’m on track but I’m still behind where I wanted to be. So far this year I’ve read two books. I was hoping to be at four by now at least. The year is still young and I can do more to read more.

What promises have you made to yourself? Are you keeping them?

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newcomer-coverI have a new story out in an anthology! The Newcomer has twelve science fiction short stories from authors across the globe.

From a young couple struggling to look after their baby to a new captain’s reluctance to take command of her ship, and from a sun-addled stranger’s appearance in town to the emergence of a sentient AI, the twelve tales presented here explore the central theme of an arrival by someone or something new. There’s even an alien puppy.

The stories are:

Tithe by Griffin Carmichael
Exodus by Alec Hutson
First Bonding by Tom Germann
Ice Dreamer by J J Green
The Nanny by Cindy Carroll
Right Hand by Jonathan C Gillespie
What Make is Your Cat? by Richard Crawford
Kaxian Duty by Cherise Kelley
Lessons Learned by J Naomi Ay
The Humra by Laura Greenwood
The Hawk of Destiny’s Fist by James S Aaron
Repulse by Alasdair Shaw

The Sims as Reward

CindyCarrollEI love video games but I’m mostly a loner when it comes to playing. I don’t go for the online multi player games where I have to deal with other people even if it’s only through their avatar or their character. I’m always afraid as a newbie to those types of games that I’ll make a mistake. And when someone tries to chat with me using the chat feature I don’t know what to say. I can’t multi task while playing. So I stick to games on my computer or the PS4 that don’t require others.

screenshot-1083My game of choice has been for a long time now The Sims. I loved the original Sims even though I came late to the party on that one. They’d already released The Sims 2 when I started playing. I bought all the expansion packs for the Original Sims. I loved the ability to send my Sims on vacation. I loved that they could practice magic. I downloaded hundreds of mods so they could do other things not possible with the base game like be vampires, go to an adoption agency, work other odd jobs that the original game didn’t have. I played it for a long time to the detriment of my writing. The thing about the Sims is that it’s real life, simulated. You create your Sims, have them learn skills, get jobs, pay bills, make up stories around them. I loved creating them and giving them back stories and something to accomplish in game.

Then The Sims 3 came along. I bypassed Sims 2 and went right for 3. It was cleaner, with a more polished look that the original. A lot more options when creating your Sims. They added a lot of expansion packs so your Sims could go on vacation, go to university, have pets, become vampires, fairies, ghosts, witches, werewolves. There’s even an expansion pack that let’s you have an invisible friend. I don’t have that one installed yet but it’s on my list.

screenshot-3411The problem is I can play The Sims 3 for literally the whole day. I get sucked into sending my Sim on quests to fulfill their aspirations and their lifetime wish and before I know it the whole day has zipped by and it’s time for bed. And no writing got done. I’ve tried convincing myself I’ll only play for an hour. But that never pans out. So now I must use playing the Sims 3 as reward for finishing my novels. Notice I wrote novels not novel. Once I have a few novels completed and at least one published I will reward myself with a Sims 3 marathon.

Do you play video games? Is there something that keeps you from your to-do list?

Get free reads, new release pricing, members only contests, access to Campus (a behind the scenes website for my Standpoint Trilogy and still under construction) – sign up for my mailing list:

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newcomer-cover

I have a new story out in an anthology! The Newcomer has twelve science fiction short stories from authors across the globe.

From a young couple struggling to look after their baby to a new captain’s reluctance to take command of her ship, and from a sun-addled stranger’s appearance in town to the emergence of a sentient AI, the twelve tales presented here explore the central theme of an arrival by someone or something new. There’s even an alien puppy.

The stories are:

Tithe by Griffin Carmichael
Exodus by Alec Hutson
First Bonding by Tom Germann
Ice Dreamer by J J Green
The Nanny by Cindy Carroll
Right Hand by Jonathan C Gillespie
What Make is Your Cat? by Richard Crawford
Kaxian Duty by Cherise Kelley
Lessons Learned by J Naomi Ay
The Humra by Laura Greenwood
The Hawk of Destiny’s Fist by James S Aaron
Repulse by Alasdair Shaw

Gratitude and Thanks

Doris

Post (c) by Doris McCraw

We are coming on my favorite time of year. I am partial to the Holiday of Thanksgiving. It is not a time of giving gifts. It has nothing except the heartfelt idea of being thankful. Despite how horrible we think life is, we really do have many reasons for gratitude and thanks.

The world around us is full of beauty, we have only to look.

winter-cycle

We are surrounded by music, we have only to listen

How many of us have tried something new to eat, or savored the joy of eating an old favorite?

food

We hold our pets, our loved ones, the delight we take in that touch.

gabe

The smell of the air after a rain, of pine when you walk in the woods, or the rose you hold to your nose.

unravling-life

Take time to enjoy and employ all the senses, be thankful for all this world holds for us. No matter what happens, we have so much right in front of us, so much that makes our lives worth living. So tell that friend how much you appreciate them, hold your loved one close, and be grateful and thankful you get to experience life in all its glory. Remember the quote from my last post “It takes life to love life.”

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ” John F. Kennedy

Thank you.

 

School Days Past

CindyCarrollEIt’s mid June and some schools are already finished for the summer. Some will be wrapping things up at the end of the month. With summer break almost upon us I can’t help but think about my school days. I’m more nostalgic for that time of my life than usual because last month was my high school reunion. Not a class reunion, but a school reunion for all alumnus from the fifty years the school has been open. For some high school was a time to be forgotten. An awkward time that you couldn’t wait to be over. A time of being bullied. A time of being lonely. A time of heartbreak when that first love didn’t work out. A time of belonging when you found that person or group of people you clicked with.

MCIFor me high school was an amazing time. I loved mostly everything about it. I was one of the lucky ones though. I had a large group of friends. I got good grades. The reunion brought a lot of memories back. I was looking forward to seeing at least some of those friends again. Sure, we connected on Facebook and I was up to date on most things going on in their lives if the Facebook algorithms decided to show me their posts. But I hadn’t seen most of them since high school. I wasn’t disappointed. At the pub social over 1,000 people showed up and I got to see some of the old gang. It was great catching up and there has been talk about meeting up again in October when another member of the group will be visiting from Phoenix.

2016-05-14 12.38.18Being back at my old school got me fired up about writing a young adult series I’ve had in mind for years now but haven’t started. There are so many other projects I need to finish first but the YA series is set in my old school. Walking the halls again I could envision the characters in the series walking those halls. Going to classes. Eating lunch in the cafeteria. Participating in after school clubs. I took tons of pictures of the school to help me when I do start writing the series.

Has your school had a reunion? Did you go?

 

 

 

Get free reads, new release pricing, members only contests, access to Campus (a behind the scenes website for my Standpoint Trilogy and still under construction) – sign up for my mailing list:

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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest.

Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror. A curse that replaces people with their repressed alter egos forces the friends to fight for their lives. Duplicates who lack restraint, crave gratification emerge from the mirrors. Too late they realize they didn’t know each other as well as they thought.

One by one, Lena’s friends learn the truth about their repressed emotions, their suppressed violent urges.

What doesn’t kill them can only make them stronger.

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Mindfulness

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Have you heard of Mindfulness? It’s a word that is being used quite frequently these days. Dictionary.com defines mindfulness as:

noun

1.

the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something.

2.

Psychology.

  • a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, 2013-01-04 22.53.31experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them: The practice of mindfulness can reduce stress and physical pain.

the mental state maintained by the use of this technique.

It’s a hurry-scurry world in which we live and taking a moment or two out of our day is a good thing. It helps reduce stress, thus making us more relaxed and aware of our surroundings. In a counseling class I’m taking, we are urged to stop at random during the day, think of where we are, what we’re thinking about, and focus on what we are feeling at that very minute. It does amazing things for the body, for putting oneself in the here and now, not worrying about the past or future; making one concentrate on the present and helps to clear the mind. Much like meditation, mindfulness lets you relax and forget about the busy world around you for a second. Even that minute amount of time is sufficient to place one in a happier, more relaxed mindset.

There is a lot of research on the Internet about mindfulness but I wanted to write a short post, so I’ll leave it to you to do that search yourself. Here are a couple of links I liked when I Googled mindfulness.

I like the Bell of Mindfulness because it gives you quiet music to listen to and suddenly a gong rings to bring you to attention. Very good for learning to practice mindfulness.

file0001052140987The Bell of Mindfulness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUzBYkOJOqo

I read an article I found in Science Daily that says mindfulness has been shown to make the workplace more relaxing and less resistance is found between workers. Science Daily – Mindfulness in the Workplace

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160310141455.htm

You can go to iTunes and purchase an app called The Mindfulness App ($1.99). I think I’ll give it a try.

The Mindfulness App: Guided and Silent Meditations to Relax

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mindfulness-app-guided-silent/id417071430?mt=8

No matter how you choose to do it, try to fit mindfulness into your day. We writers tend to get so involved in our work some days that we get headaches, tense muscles, etc. Stopping for a quick minute could help alleviate that..mindDo any of you practice mindfulness?  What does it mean to you?  Does it help you de-stress?  I’d love to know

Books by L.Leander

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

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Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

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13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

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13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook

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You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Books

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews

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The Trouble with Sunday

CindyCarrollEAsk most people who work a 9 – 5 job what their favourite day of the week is and you’ll get a few different answers. Most people I know answer back emphatically with Saturday! And what’s not to like about Saturday? You don’t have to go into work, you have time to catch up on things around the house. Go out, have fun. Be a social person with the people you haven’t been able to see all week because you’ve been too busy with the day job and commuting.

But Saturday is not my favourite day of the week. Friday is. Why Friday? Because at the end of the work day the whole weekends stretches out ahead of me. I have Saturday and Sunday to look forward to. Sleeping in. Breakfast with my husband. Lots of cat cuddle time. I’m able to catch up on reading and writing. We watch our favourite shows that we’ve been letting accumulate on the DVR all week. We throw in some movies for good measure so I can keep up with my goal of watching 100 movies in a year.

Working from home on Fridays for the day job makes me love the day even more. I loved it when I had to drive into the office. It was still my favourite of the week. But now it’s even better.  No long commute. As soon as 4:30 hits my weekend starts.

Copyright baranq from DepositPhotos
Copyright baranq from DepositPhotos

Lately we tend not to stay up too late on Friday night or Saturday. Too many things to get done the next day and we don’t want to be tired. I’m sure my family and friends will be shocked to learn that I get up by 9:30 on the weekend. I have been known to sleep in until 11 or noon in the past. But that’s in the past. 🙂 I have too many books I want to write to linger in bed for too long now.

My least favourite day of the week, you might have guessed from the title of this post, is Sunday. What’s the problem with Sunday? It’s the day before Monday.  The day starts off with promise but when we cross over from morning to afternoon and then late afternoon the inevitable hits me. Soon it will be evening. Then night. We tend to stay up later on Sunday putting off that inevitable cross over into Monday. The sooner you go to sleep the sooner the new day comes so we wait as long as possible on Sunday before going to bed. Because of that Monday morning comes way too fast and I’m usually tired. I used to look forward to Sunday because The Amazing Race was on Sunday nights, then Monday night was Castle. But TAR moved to Friday nights so there’s nothing for me to look forward to on Sundays. And we never watch anything on the night it’s on now, preferring to DVR everything.

What’s your favourite day of the week?

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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest.

Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror. A curse that replaces people with their repressed alter egos forces the friends to fight for their lives. Duplicates who lack restraint, crave gratification emerge from the mirrors. Too late they realize they didn’t know each other as well as they thought.

One by one, Lena’s friends learn the truth about their repressed emotions, their suppressed violent urges.

What doesn’t kill them can only make them stronger.

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So precious…

Susann 2 croppedThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

What’s your most precious thing?

I got some fantastic gifts for Christmas which I’m already treasuring. My new felt slippers are perfect for keeping my feet warm. They are doubly precious since my younger daughter brought them all the way home from a trip to Germany during the middle of November. She loves to plan her Christmas gifts well in advance.

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My elder daughter also planned ahead and bought my Outlander DVD selection around the same November time, having asked what I’d most like as a gift from her. My answer was ‘something small’ since I didn’t really feel I needed anything. My focus at that time was on buying gifts for my grand kids that wouldn’t be duplicated – they aren’t spoiled but they DO have a lot of toys! My buying of the adult gifts was to follow. But, as we all know, you can’t plan for everything and life can throw you some utter horrors.

By the end of November it was clear that the 2015 Christmas Day and Boxing Day dinners weren’t going to be our normal extended family get-togethers. In past years, the mix of attendees has included my daughters and their extended family of in-laws, extra garden tables brought inside to accommodate everyone. In late November 2015, we decided to make very loose scaled down plans for Christmas Day. My older daughter had been desperate to host Christmas Day dinner in her new house (you might remember me blogging about that in summer of 2015) but planning for a full house was abandoned. Santa was still coming for the grandkids, and presents appeared under the trees in both my house and my daughter’s but the Christmas Dinner table was only set for 6 adults and 2 kids- my S-I-Laws brother and partner joining us for a while. At some time during that day most of us went to see ‘granny’ in the hospital.

20151008_144754My two grand children call me ‘Grandma’ and the other one ‘Granny’. After my daughter went back to work last year (her 5 day week job squeezed into 4 long days), Granny and I looked after the kids on those 4 days. Unfortunately, Granny wasn’t able to look after the kids on her official two days a week from early October. She had something wrong with her back so I covered a lot more days of childminding, with my husband also doing his bit. Anyone who has ever looked after a 4 year old girl and a very active 20 month old boy will appreciate how impossible it is to get through a day without lifting one or other child, and much as she wanted to be with the kids, ‘granny’ just couldn’t. I took them to visit her but the visits were a challenge for her and I kept them pretty short. After weeks of physiotherapy and acupuncture, with the knowledge that ‘granny’ had had a diagnosis a couple of years ago of osteoporosis, nothing was working. By late November, it was thought to be a sciatic problem. She needed stronger and stronger pain medication till it got to the point in early December when my son-in-law insisted that she be taken to hospital to have full scans.

Our family world tumbled. A mere 3 days after being admitted to hospital, the full MRI and other scans indicated a broken bone in her back, a possible slipped disc but much worse were the multiple cancers all over her body- most of which were seriously aggressive and incurable. ‘Granny’, who was a paediatric nurse, faced the next weeks with incredible dignity and fortitude. She was a great Christmas planner and tended to buy her gifts from September onwards. She loved to really decorate her house for Christmas, virtually every room. That didn’t happen in 2015, but my son-in-law and his brother made sure to decorate her hospital room with some of her favourite Christmas ornaments.

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You can imagine that buying a gift for ‘granny’ was incredibly difficult and my daughter gave me a great prompt. ‘All she really needs are some very recent photos of the kids’. Granny’s selection of photos was as big as the hospital shelving would accommodate. I can’t show them here as my daughter doesn’t like their faces shown but the ones I chose to put into attractive frames took quite a bit of deliberation.

Granny was moved to a hospice before New Year and died on the 6th of January.

What is most precious?

Life.

I’d gladly have had no Christmas gifts but I can’t undo what’s happened and we are now coming to terms with filling in the gap left by granny – a very big gap since she was an amazingly sociable person. My granddaughter did lots of special ‘girly’ things with her granny, like shopping and tea parties with granny’s friends. I tend to do the more active, outdoor things with the kids like going for walks up the nearest hills, or playing rough and tumble in the garden. Personally, I hate shopping, always have and avoid it like the plague but fortunately both of my daughters are pretty good at that. I’ll be creating new things to do with the kids and trying to keep memories of granny bright and happy, especially for my very astute granddaughter who although only 4 is bright as a button. She won’t be forgotten and she will be a hard act to follow.

Life is precious and, at times, unable to plan for. Savouring it will be my plan for 2016. I’ll be doing what I can to manage my writing time and intend to enjoy every moment I have with my family, especially my grand kids who are very precious to me.  This has been a sad time for me recently. I don’t often write about truly personal family matters but I’m sure you’ll understand – at least I hope so.

So, you can see that the beginning of 2016 wasn’t great for me but as I was getting ready to attend the funeral 2 days ago I received a very positive phone call that jolted me out of the sad cloud. My local school wanted to buy 10 copies of The Taexali Game, my Teen/ YA novel as an addition to their reading scheme. I couldn’t do anything about it last Thursday but I was ready to deal with it yesterday. I’ll now need to be more pro-active in selling my novel to other Primary schools in the area.

Normal life resumes (i.e. as normal as possible).

What’s  most precious for you?

Enjoy your weekend! 

CFS End Sept 2015Nancy Jardine’s writing can be bought from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, NOOK, KOBO, ITunes, and other ebook outlets.

 

 

You can find me at these places: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

3 mysteries

TTG august

Around the Bend

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Earlier this summer, my husband, the dogs, and I took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. One of our excursions was to the Yellowstone Lake area, which boasts a wide and deep lake as well as a beautiful, charming yellow hotel which was originally built in 1891 and extensively expanded in 1903. Windows of the lobby and dining area of the grand accommodations look out upon the vast blue body of water. I’ve dined at this restaurant a few times, being serenaded, along with other guests, by a fabulous piano player. It’s an amazing experience with vistas of nature, relaxing music, and delicious food. Go there if you ever have opportunity!

While at the Lake area during this summer’s trip, Greg and I took the dogs for a short walk in a picnic area. Mary, our springer/cocker mix, began barking, and we noticed another family of picnickers nearby. We shushed her and continued our little jaunt, with Cody, our 17-year-old cocker and I in front. As he and I rounded a bend in the trail, we came within five feet of a bull bison resting in a grove of trees. Yellowstone Park rules say to not be any closer than 25 feet from a bison, elk, or other large, non-predatory animal. We certainly broke that rule! (but not on purpose). The bison was camouflaged by the trees and it wasn’t until we nearly stepped on him that we saw his massive presence. Fortunately for us, he didn’t get up from his siesta, and we were able to slowly but persistently back up to the car, with me carrying an aged Cody in my arms. Mary continued her barkfest and thankfully the bull bison didn’t take her onslaught as a threat (the temperature was nearly 90 degrees, so I’m sure he thought staying in the shady tree grove was better than expending energy on a couple of tourists and their dogs!). Lesson: you never know what’s around the bend. (Second lesson: your dog may know more about what’s around the bend than you, so it may pay off to listen to and heed your dog’s vocals!)

bull  bison_Madison RiverLife’s future is a mystery – we don’t know with certainty what it holds. We can make plans and we can hope, dream, and take steps toward goals. Yet, a health problem, family situation, financial setback can offset those plans. At age 19, I planned to marry a guy I met in college; he met someone else and left me. I had to alter my plans – the future I had anticipated completely changed. I’ve had jobs that I thought would be the “cat’s meow” as they say … but something, actually someone in both cases, caused major problems for me and other colleagues and so I moved on instead of staying in a hostile work environment. We never know what’s around the bend.

Sometimes that’s true for our writing as well. We start off with an idea, plan out (or semi-plan out, depending on if you’re a plotter or a pantser) scenes, characters, plots, situations, etc. and at times the storyline takes a detour and we don’t know what’s around the bend … or, when we go around the story’s bend we discover a new path for our story’s characters. At times we encounter a great obstacle around that bend, just like that bull bison became an obstacle to us continuing along the trail (sometimes we authors refer to such an obstacle to as writer’s block… or it may be that something just doesn’t jive with our story line). And, just like my husband, dogs, and I had to back up to our car, we writers may have to back up a bit in our story and re-think where we’re going with the idea.

woman at computer2Life is that way as well. We come to a bend in the road and we may have to back up a bit and approach the situation differently. I have many friends facing unexpected events, including health issues, relationship issues, and financial issues. At times, we have to look at these problems and decide whether to move forward (and if so, quickly or cautiously?) or to pull back a bit and ponder awhile.

I attended the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS) earlier this month and came away with several great take-aways, including: (1) Build your confidence – step through your fears; (2) Build your connections – expand your relationships; (3) Improve your competence – through education and/or mentoring; (4) Strengthen your character – read, grow, challenge yourself, make wise choices; (5) Increase your commitment – to yourself, your loved ones, your career/writing. Each of these can make us ponder the next step, think about what’s around the bend, and plan to move in a certain direction. Yet, we may come across an obstacle and so we have to back up and approach it a different way.

Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014I am doing that with my writing. I’m currently re-thinking some of my book writing projects. I have four WIP, and I am considering taking a different course for the remainder of the year. I’m considering writing some helpful nonfiction, such as “How to Better Care for Your Senior Dog.” My Kindle book “Help, My Dog is Going Blind: Now What Do I Do?” is reaching people around the world. Sales have dramatically increased during the past few months with minimal marketing endeavors. I plan to increase those efforts as this little booklet is very helpful for pet parents who are concerned about the health and safety of their blind furry friends, for those who, like Greg and I nearly 15 years ago, were incredibly shaken and scared when we first heard the news “Your dog is going blind.” I want to continue helping people better care for their pets, such as their senior dog, their deaf dog, their three-legged dog. Because I so earnestly believe in pet ownership responsibility, I can be a catalyst to help people care for their pets for the rest of the animals’ life by providing words of encouragement and tips for a better life for both pet and pet owner.

This is a bend in my writing road, and though I don’t know yet what’s beyond the bend, I will take steps forward to see, applying some of those “take-aways” from the GLS. If I need to, I’ll back up a bit and re-evaluate the situation. But, I am excited to continue the journey in all its mystery, including eventually finishing those four WIP! (sometime in the future…!)

How about you? How do you handle bends in the road, personally and professionally?

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small  SageLearnsShareFront-small  Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final  Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice CoverBlind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014