Wow… It’s been nearly a year since my last update on here…

January 7, 2019 by
Man at desk made of books writing

Where has the time gone? When I sat down to update this blog, I didn't realize it'd been so long since I'd done any type of posting on here. So much has happened over the months since I last wrote anything here. Where to begin?

I guess the first thing is, the Project Gutenberg update to WordPress has completely sucked, enough so that, after only playing around with it for about fifteen minutes, I searched out how to revert it back to the original editor, something that took an additional hour since I had crappy internet where I was when I learned of the new editor, and because of the fact that I had no idea what the new editor was called.

With that out of the way, I can start composing on here again with abandon, or at least as much as I can if I can keep up my consistency while dealing with ADHD. It's going to be my main nemesis to writing here on a regular basis, but I know deep down it's something I need to work on.

So what else happened in 2018? Well, I managed to publish two books in a new series I started working on in 2016/2017. I would have gotten three books out, but I had a health crisis that I'll go into in a bit. Anyway, the first book dropped at the end of March, while the next one dropped at the end of June. My goal was to drop book three either in August or September, but life got in the way. Or should  I say, I could have lost my life in August.

Basically, at the beginning of August, I started feeling off, like severely off. To understand what I mean, I'll need to provide some background. For me, I usually only need around 4-5 hours of sleep a night to feel rested. Sometimes, I'll let myself be lazy and, on the weekends, sleep up to 10 hours or so, until I can't stand being in bed anymore. That usually only happens one day during the weekend while the next night, I'll probably only sleep 3 hours. It's just the way I've always been, so I never think about it.

Enter my 3-day weekend in August. The first night, I wound up sleeping something like 15 hours. While a little excessive, not that far outside the realm of possibility, especially if I'm under the weather. What WAS unusual though, was that I still felt exhausted when I got up. I only stayed away for around 5 hours before I felt I had to drag myself back to bed, where I had another 15-hour marathon sleeping session. After rinsing and repeating that process my entire 3-day weekend, I knew something was seriously wrong with me.

At first, I thought my diet had finally caught up with me and that I was starting to have symptoms of diabetes. Actually, I suspected that was the issue several days before the 3-day weekend because I was feeling more tired than usual, but not excessively so. So I started tracking my sugar levels (because I'd been bordering on diabetes for at least 2 years, I actually had a meter that I rarely used) to see where I stood. While slightly elevated, they weren't anything to be really concerned about.

After my 3-day weekend incident, I scheduled an appointment with my doctor to get an exam, see if my suspicions were correct and whether I'd need to start taking medications to address it. After a few minutes of examining me, her eyes widened when she started listening to my heart. After listening to it for much longer than normal, she finally advised me that she heard a murmur and that she needed to schedule me for an ultrasound to examine it more closely.

A week later, I got tested. A week after that, I found out that I had a significant issue with my heart and that I needed to see a specialist.  A few days later, I'm in the emergency room because I nearly passed out. Week later, I'm in the emergency room again, this time with a blood pressure dangerously close to stroke levels and a pulse that was racing at almost 130 beats per minute. By the end of August, I'd been in the ER twice, had seen my doctor multiple times, and now had a cardiologist.

By the end of September, I'd had invasive heart surgery, by robot, to fix my, quite literally, broke heart. I had what was called a flailing leaflet, which, in very simple terms, means one of the support struts that holds one of the flaps in my mitral valve closed in my heart had snapped. Now it was just flapping in the 'breeze' of blood flowing past. It also meant my mitral valve couldn't close completely. In fact, I had, per the surgeon's estimate, 50% of my blood flowing backward through that damaged portion of my heart. The technical term is valve regurgitation. What it meant was, whenever I exerted myself in the slightest, blood would flow backward and start filling into my lungs. It felt like having serious congestion in my lungs that would appear within a few minutes and take up to a half hour to go away.

Moving forward, because of the anesthesia, I had memory issues for over a month after the surgery. All I wanted to do is lay in bed and try to get 2-3 hours of sleep before I woke up and had to move around because I was too uncomfortable to sleep. Another problem I had was, due to the surgery, I developed a herniated lung. Now, whenever I cough, sneeze, or basically anything dealing with air flowing in/out of my lungs, my lung presses outward between my ribs and makes my chest look like the pop-o-magic bubble. It's something I'll eventually get surgery for, but bigger things have taken its place in the realm of needing to be addressed. Namely, after my surgery, I developed a slight case of pneumonia. When the doctor was examining me to make sure I'd fully recovered, they detected a lump on my thyroid. Several tests later and, yep, a slight case of cancer.

That brings us current for medical issues. At the end of January, I go in to have half of my thyroid removed. Hopefully, that'll be the end of it, but I won't know for sure for at least a month, possibly up to three. By then, might find out I have to have the other half removed, then be placed on medication for the rest of my life. Fun fun!

So, even with all that happening over the past 4 months, I still managed to get revisions done on book 3 in my series. I'd hoped to release it in February, but due to surgery and my editor's schedule, it might be early March now, nearly 6 months behind schedule.

Hopefully, after this, all my health issues will be settled so I can get back to important stuff, like writing.

It that regard, I've made several changes to how I write, take notes, and come up with ideas over the past year. Probably the biggest change is how I've set up my default Scrivener template. After all the books I've read on writing in general, I realized I wasn't implementing anything they were recommending for story development and outlining. Granted, with me being a hybrid plotter/pantser, or plantser if you will, I still struggle with creating any sort of outline when I'm creating a story, even though I see the utility and benefit of doing so, at least in the beginning.

One of the things I discovered while working on the Nibiru Rising series was, it's difficult to keep some plot points accurate when you're spreading them over multiple books. Some of the plot points, which I dropped in books one and two, might not even show up again until possibly the last book in the series. Some of them might show up in a spin-off series. Who knows? But what I can say is, without some form of outline, they would have gotten lost in the weeds somewhere along the way.

So with all that in mind, I started pulling out suggestions, recommendations, checklists, and other assorted tools from books I read and started integrating them into my story template. Now, when I get ready to work on a project, those tools are slapping me dead in the face every time I open the project. I've already seen positive benefits from the process. After going through some of the character creation checklists, in one of my other book projects, I realized one of my MC's personality was all wrong and changed it. Then, because of the work I did in the checklist, I was able to realize how wrong the dialog I had been writing was terrible for her, so back I went and changed her dialog and mannerisms to fit her more closely. Five minutes with a checklist, fifteen minutes revising my project, less than 1,000 words changed, and now, she's an entirely different person. Before, she was a naive, almost helpless waif thrown into a situation she couldn't survive on her own. Now she's a tough as nails person who, while still questioning if she'll survive, has put those concerns on the back-burner. Instead, she's willing to delve deeper into the situation to discover why she's marked for death instead of just passively waiting for it to come to her.

I've also started carrying around a small, stand-alone digital recorder. Yes, I know I can get apps on my phone to do the same thing, but in the long run, the stand-alone recorder was the better option. A lot of my ideas come while I'm driving (I have a tendency to drive in complete silence, without the radio on or anything. It allows me to think more easily, with no distractions). I tried using an app on my phone, but because of:

a) I keep my phone locked, so I have to unlock it every time to access the app

b) Using a cell phone while driving is highly frowned upon by local law enforcement

c) By the time I dig out the phone, unlock it, hunt for the app, launch it, then start it recording, I've often lost my train of thought. Especially if I'm also having to pay attention to traffic, weather conditions, road conditions, etc.

With a stand-alone device, I just have to pull it out of my pocket and, completely by feel, just press a button and start talking, I can easily keep my train of thought and get my ideas down before I forget them. Even better, since it's a digital recorder, I can just upload the files to my computer for archiving.

Another tool, which I literally just got within the past two weeks, is called AEON Timeline. It's a tool that integrates with Scrivener to help keep track of the timelines in your stories. It's something I feel will become extremely handy as I learn to use it and integrate it into my writing workflow. Especially since some of my characters have extremely long lives, so keeping track of events that are part of their backstory becomes more important as the stories go on.

So learning to use that tool is going to be at the top of my list for the next month or two while I work on laying out several new story ideas I'm working on, including book 4 of the Nibiru Rising series. I'm also planning on releasing a novella length book in my Fractured Realms series as well to bridge the gap to book 2. There's a lot of other stuff rattling around in my head, but those are the ones that are at the top of the list.

Finally, I found out that the tool I use for designing most of my website has been discontinued. Support for it ends in 2020. So now, I have to look for a different method to develop my website. I have a few options, like delving back into coding and learning how to do it all from scratch. The positive for that is, I'll be able to have even more control over my site, and with the skills I'd need to learn, I'd be able to make it even more responsive and integrated. The downside is, I'd have to spend a lot of time learning something that takes me away from actually writing.

I've also got a platform that I'm playing with that might fit the bill, but I haven't had enough time with it to determine if it'll fit the bill. It ties in with WordPress and allows me to set up an Amazon Affiliate storefront, so it could:

a) allow me to generate a bit more income

b) have a localized spot for people to see what I'm reading/recommending, my own books for sale, and books I've read and recommend to budding authors to improve their skills.

Since I read, on average, at least 10 books a year on the craft of writing and/or business, plus a bunch of genre fiction books, having the ability to put together a storefront for people to see what I like and/or recommend seems like a no-brainer. The downside is, I don't know if I'll have enough control over the framework to get it to look like I want it to. We'll see soon enough.

So yeah, a lot has happened over the past 11 months, some good, a lot bad, but I'm still here, so there's still time and room for improvement. Here's hoping for a much better year, one where I'm able to release a significantly higher amount of stories for you, my fans, to enjoy. Thanks again for stopping by and have a wonderful day.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.