Lamentations and Ecclesiastes


Breast Cancer awareness ribbons

Have you ever hit that point where you feel everything in your life is meaningless? The goals that you set for yourself seem like chasing the wind? Have you ever wondered what’s the point, when for all of your hard work, anxiety, stress, and aggravation that finish line seems elusive or when you cross it, it’s a day late and a dollar short? There has to be more to life than this, right?

I tip my hat to those men and women who continue in their daily roles after getting the diagnosis of cancer. The initial shock hit me hard. Making the decision for surgery seemed like a no brainer to me, I mean if there is cancer in my body – then get it out!

My blood pressure was the highest it has ever been the day I went in for surgery. I had never had a surgery before minus oral surgery which isn’t the same at all. Of course, Mother Nature thought it was funny to have major flooding in the area to cut off the major highways between us and the hospital. That had its own share of aggravation, but we managed it. It did mean, however, the day of the surgery I had one person in my corner to be there with me through all of it. My husband is a saint! He has been amazing through all of this, has been encouraging, loving, supportive and has been my champion every day.

It makes sense, of course, we are partners in life. When we took those vows years ago. . . we promised for better or for worse, through sickness and in health. . .

Funny how when you are young and in love, you never really think about the worse or sickness. Maybe it’s just me,  but there was a certain amount of moon-eyed happily ever after when I said my vows.

Honestly, I’d be in worse shape without him in my life. I know this for an absolute certainty. This wasn’t meant to be a “sing the hubby’s praises” post, but it needs to be said.

For all of his help and support, he can’t fix what’s inside my head. OH, that I wish he could. It has been a whirlwind of tests, needles, doctors, more needles, surgery, more doctors, back to the tests, the dreaded needles, and now radiation.  While I am thrilled beyond measure that I am not having to go through chemotherapy, I am trying to cope with the current radiation and oral medications.

Everyone around me keeps encouraging me and telling me how brave I am, how strong I am. . . not feeling it. At some point every day I feel exhaustion, fatigue, nausea, and that doesn’t even begin to get into the mental battles: the continued struggle to lose weight, the dietary restrictions because of cancer, the fear that cancer will be found somewhere else, the sense of failure as I slip further behind on my goals. At times the weight of it gets the better of me.

I think that one is the hardest for me. I can tough it out when I don’t feel great, but can still manage. I see my author friends cranking out one project after another and I get more discouraged. I know I’ve suffered from a lack of focus with too many projects in my queue. I’ve allowed criticism to derail me when I had a full head of steam working towards completion. I’ve  allowed the poison words of certain individuals to affect my mental state to the point that I quit working on particular projects.

You want to know what is really sad?  I have volumes of stories mostly written. For example, I was diligently working on Valkyrie’s Curse. I had the first draft completed, was 78% finished with second draft revisions when I realized that the story didn’t end at my ending. The overall story spans five more books which I outlined and have key scenes written for them.  I was excited, I was on a roll. I  can see the destination over the far horizon then the white haired witch rose up before me, hissing and flailing in wild gestations spouting words of her own self-righteousness, singing her own praises and that my methods and styles were wrong because they aren’t like hers. She was right, I’m nothing like her. I don’t want to be. After three rounds of being put off to review the manuscript, I got discouraged and set it aside. I will get back to it,  but I have been working on getting Roxy ready for her debut. I had my manuscript for VC ready to go,  had the second book first draft completed, so I needed something else to work on. In all honesty, I’ve had a dozen new ideas since then with a brief intro or scene written, enough to remind myself what the idea for that story is.

I sent my revised story of Roxy to a fabulous lady, who is an awesome author and mentor. She pointed out – very nicely I might add – plot holes and glaring errors. Hmmm, this wouldn’t do. I had to make it a story that I was proud of and that readers would want to read. I rolled up my sleeves and got busy. Very little of the original story remains, but  I think it’s by far better. So what’s the problem?

Finishing it.  I have nearly 60K words on this story. I’m adding in some transition scenes as well as some other scenes to take it to the final destination. I was on a roll right up to April 12th, when my world came crashing down around me. It galls me to admit that I can’t get it out by the deadline that I wanted. If that was the case it would have been published at the beginning of May.

There have been more than a few days since my surgery that I didn’t even get online. I didn’t crack my computer open. I didn’t have the mental energy to write a few hundred words. Now I am struggling to allocate my daily limited energy to what is important. I feel like a huge weeny because I  don’t have the energy to be superwoman – having my house immaculate, serving healthy nutritious and tasty meals to my family – five star restaurant quality because I am the overachiever, keep up with my day job – because I have medical bills to pay, this one has to go to the top of the list, writing, blogging, exercise, mental health activities.  Pick a day, any day and at least three of those things fall by the wayside. Care to venture which ones?

Most often the taking care of me part has been at the bottom of my priorities. Maybe it’s a mom thing or a woman thing but either way, I can’t do that anymore. I want to live to see my next several birthdays so I have to learn to make myself a priority. Why does this make me so emotional???  You’d think it was a good thing. I see people all of the time taking time for themselves, doing things for themselves, pampering themselves, yet I struggle to allow myself downtime to cope with cancer.

I will finish my books and get them published because that is a goal I have set for myself. The deadlines have been erased and pushed out even further. (I swear, if I were employing me I’d fire me to get a different content writer.) I may be in turtle mode, but by darn, I will get there.

So what doe this have to do with Ecclesiastes and Lamentations?  In the book of Lamentations, it was basically David crying out – lamenting his sorrows. Sometimes we want to vent or get it off of our chest. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon,  astute observations and conclusions about life. Let me

Let me briefly summarize: Life sucks. It is like a wild rollercoaster ride that didn’t pass safety inspections and no one tells you when the dangerous curves or broken tracks will appear. We make the best of it, lick our wounds, recover, get stronger, and go on. We all die eventually and when we do, what will you have to show for your legacy? What will be your lasting mark on this world you’ve left behind? What of value have you contributed to this world? Or have you lived a self-serving existence that didn’t impact any other living soul in a positive way?

(This is by no means a church sanctioned summarization. For exact interpretation go read it for yourself.)

I know this is far from my usual uplifting encouraging post and I apologize for that. This is where I am.  I have been trying to remain positive, but there are days when I fail.

Tomorrow is another day and here’s hoping that it’s a better day!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

This Changes Everything


Today I  will be having surgery to remove the tumor that has changed my life.  Not in a “Biggest Loser”  winner way.  Not in a “you survived the great outdoors” Wilderness Challenge sort of reality show. This is real life, change how you think, change your priorities in a second, change the way you process life.

I’ve never made myself a priority, I’ve always been on the back burner ever since I became a mom. I’m not the only one, it’s epidemic. Women often don’t take care of themselves. Maybe it’s better with younger generations, I hope it is.

I have had to shift my priorities radically. The twenty irons that I had in the fire are nearly all set aside and cooling until I can afford to address each one. Some may be tossed but that’s ok. If they are, they weren’t important.

So what has changed? Everything.

Dieting is no longer a choice –  I have to change my diet to follow what the oncology doctors say. Whether that is low carb or calorie restricted only, I know it will have to include mostly lean proteins and lots of fruit and vegetables. Sugar is out. I’ve been trying to cut down but allowed myself a dessert once a week. Nope – dessert isn’t worth cancer.

Exercise – no longer an option because a better circulation system and better cardio health mean that I am stronger and better able for my body to fight during radiation and chemotherapy.

Fewer tasks on my daily todo list – this is a biggie for me. I’ve always been one of those too many irons in the fire juggling them to meet deadlines and last minute all out like my pants are on fire types. NO more! I will have to manage my time and reduce the stress which means I will have to assess tasks and learn a simple word – NO!

I can’t afford negative energy. I can’t afford negative people stealing my energy. I can’t afford to give the power over to anyone else. I have supportive famil members and friends and I will call on them as needed.

Here’s a biggie –  I need to learn to ask for help. OUCH! So far this is the hardest one on my list. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to HAVE to ask for help? Alas, I need to focus on the important things and let the rest go. That also means learning to trust and depend on others and ask for help. Right now I feel strong, invincible, I can beat this! Hear me roar! I know though, this is before surgery, this is before the results of pathology, beforeI have gone through one day of radiation and after a day of meditation to help get in the right positive headspace.

A really good friend of mine gave me a picture last year of a woman warrior and told me this reminds me of you. I was touched but didn’t see it. 

At first I didn’t feel like I could even do this. I didn’t feel like I had a chance it was so unexpected. Let’s be real, nobody chooses cancer. Nobody chooses this battle. Every one of us has our own battles to deal with and nobody I know would jump up and volunteer for this road. Having said that, it isn’t really about what I feel.

I KNOW that I am made of sturdy stock! German and Russian blood are comingling in there with some ScotsIrish and other assorted mutt mixed races. I won’t go down without putting up a big fight.

I KNOW that the doctor stated they caught it early, and the tumor isn’t large. This is good news which means the odds of survival are great! As scary as it is to hear “You’ve got breast cancer”  it could have been far worse than it is and my odds are pretty good.

I KNOW that there are people who love and care for me. You couldn’t have convinced me of that a few weeks ago, but when I shared this horrible news the outpouring of friends and relatives have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. I must say it was more than a bit humbling.

I KNOW that wherever this path takes me from this day forward, I am going to LIVE each and every day that I have, pursuing my dreams and goals and making sure to show love to at least one person every day.

Whether you are a believer or not, my faith will see me through. My faith is strong and I know without a doubt that my God is well able to see me through this. I know that His will is for life and not death. I know that the power of prayer is a very real thing and I have many friends praying. This is what it is all about, the people in your life. People that you impact around you. I’ve tried not to be preachy to anyone, I have never condemned anyone for their faith or lifestyle because that’s not my place to do so.

I’m instructed to love people, and that’s what I try to do. Y’all know it’s hard to love some people – God knows I try but some of you  . . . I mean there are people who like liver! There are some of you who don’t like dogs! There are some people that choose to listen to country music for Pete’s sakes! Anyway, putting those things aside we are all people and we need to love one another not judge or fight against or criticize others. Just think how boring it would be if everyone was exactly like you. Or me –  can you imagine the chaos that our world would be if everyone was like me????? Good grief –  we need organized people who can get things done!

What I’m trying to say is I love the diversity of our world. I’ve been meditating most of today ( writing this on Tuesday preparing for my big day today, er tomorrow when you’ll read this.) and I am starting to feel more like the warrior in that picture. I can do this,  this will not defeat me. It’s going to take more than this to take me out. Besides, legend has it that the Amazon warrior maidens cut off their left breast as a sign of strength. Alright, so mine is going to be removed via anesthetic and scalpel, but  I’ll wear the scar as my Amazon tribe initiation.

I found out that when I start the radiation treatment they will tattoo a series of dots on my left breast where the radiation will be focused. I’m considering getting it altered to a fancy schmancy tattoo over it.

So after today, everything changes.

Write on my freinds, write on! And say a prayer for me if you think about it – I would appreciate it!

Ellie

 

Suddenly


Hey, everyone!

How to write the post I need to write . . .  there is no real clever way so with all the tact I can muster, I’m going to plunge in.

With the A to Z Challenge, I left off with the letter O. I have a new word, that inadvertently has everything to do with my own writing right now –

ONCOLOGY

On March 28, I had my annual OBGYN visit. I shared some concerns with her about the girl parts, namely issues that indicate menopause.  She sent me to the Imaging center for a pelvic sonogram, and the annual mammogram. I expected some news on the lower region but not the tatas.

A scheduled date for a routine procedure for the girl parts was made. Later that day, I got a call saying I needed to return for an additional mammogram and breast ultrasound because I had some areas of concern. OK, that’s a bit disconcerting but no biggie, right? I figured fibrocystic breast syndrome because the girls aren’t exactly smooth like a muscle,  they are kind of like a well-used pillow. NO, I’m not going into detail on that but after nursing two babies, being a ‘mature’ woman I’m grateful they don’t drag the floor.

April 6th I go back for these additional tests and the Dr. that oversees the imaging center came in and told me that it’s cancerous. BUT, don’t worry, most of the time it’s benign.  He had one of those plastic forced smiles that is used to break bad news. I instantly don’t trust him.

April 12th, I have a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy. Don’t let anyone fool you – it hurts. “Oh, you’ll just feel some pressure and hear a click” LIARS!!! 

IT HURT!  IT HURT FOR DAYS AFTER!  IT still hurts as the bruised area changes from purple to greenish yellow.

I wait for the verdict phone call which was supposed to happen either last Tuesday or Wednesday that never came. On one hand, no news is good news.  If they don’t call it can’t be too urgent right?

WRONG!

I called on Thursday because I suck at waiting patiently.

STAGE 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.

Yeah, that’s something you want to hear when you are in the office alone. I mean, literally alone. There wasn’t another breathing soul in the office complex.

The only time I’ve ever known doctors to act fast is when it’s serious so it didn’t alleve my fears when they called back to confirm an appointment with an oncology surgeon for the next day. Friday the 21st was a marathon. I would gladly attempt a running marathon as opposed to my day. The doctor explained completely with drawing little illustrations to emphasize the points. My options were presented to me, initial treatment assessment was discussed, and then it was off to the labs for more tests.

Bloodwork – one of my big fears about this whole thing is the needles. I have small veins, they are deep (being fat isn’t the only reason for this) and they roll. When I get blood drawn they use a child’s butterfly needle. What is going to happen if I have to go through chemotherapy and they blow my veins? I don’t have enough time to build my cardio level to have super veins like my husband. He makes a fist and the veins just pop out. Of course, that would look bad on me as a female.

Chest x-ray, EKG, new mammogram, additional close up mammogram slides, 3D Ultrasound – I was there from 8 in the morning until almost 5 at night.

I’ve had the weekend to digest all of this.  I’ve shared with close family what the diagnosis is and the plan for treatment, and have even shared on my Facebook account.  I was almost at a place of peace about accepting this. Nobody wants to go through this. Nobody chooses cancer.

Then, I get another call. Just a few minutes ago actually. I have to go back for an MRI and a second biopsy of additional spots that they found. This may determine whether or not I can have a lumpectomy or have to have the full mastectomy.

I’m not sharing to gain your sympathy. I’m not sharing because I overshare – if anything I hear from people that I don’t let others in, don’t share what’s really going on.

This isn’t about writing yet it is.  I write with passion. My passion. Passion for life, passion about love relationships, passion about the emotions we go through. My plan for today was to share some more from Roxy, a segment that I’ve recently tackled – one that was very difficult to tackle and I had to be in the right headspace to do. Ironically I had to draw on the raw emotions of my own mother’s funeral to write this. I’d put it off for weeks, but finally tackled it and was quite proud of myself for not only tackling it,  I think I did a pretty good job on it as well.

Then I get this news.  Well hell!  Oh trust me, I could write the emotional scene now. I could pour my heart out on the pages and nobody is the wiser that it was me going through this emotional tidal wave with the diagnosis of ‘You have breast cancer’.

Ironically, Roxy’s mother died after a long battle with breast cancer. Should I wait and experience first hand and rewrite? Should I proceed with it as scheduled? I know that women dying from breast cancer is rare, it’s usually when it’s metastasized beyond the breast and invaded other organs. Ultimately it started with breast cancer, and Roxy’s mother was a woman that put off her own medical treatment until it became critical.

For me, they caught it early with the mammogram. Of that I am grateful. Ladies, don’t put it off.  I still can’t feel any lumps even knowing that it’s there. I don’t have a family history of it. I don’t have the usual symptoms that indicate cancer.  In all of my regular doctor’s comments about concerns for being overweight he never said cancer was one of them. Now as I am reading the material provided to me by the breast cancer center, obesity can lead to cancer. Heart disease and diabetes were on my mind, not cancer. Never cancer.We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey.

We hear the words “save the tatas” and kind of laugh, but we do the self-exams. It has become a reality for me now. This is a path I never wanted to go down but am forced to embark on this journey. April 20th is a day of demarcation for me. My life as I knew it ended that day, so tears were to be expected. Tears of grieving for what was,  what dreams may die, all of the changes that have to be made and tears to face the great unknown.  A little encouragement for saving the woman would be appreciated.

I’ll try to stay away from the pity parties but from time to time I will be sharing my struggles in this battle. I’m not looking forward to the needles. Not looking forward to losing part of my breast or the full breast or breasts depending on what they find. Not looking forward to possibly losing my hair. Not looking forward to much of any of this,  but it’s the path I’ve been put on and I’ll make the best of a bad situation.  I come from good stock and I am my mother’s daughter. My mother was ” a tough old bird”. I hope I have half as much chutzpah as she did.

I plan to continue writing, still pushing for my delayed deadline and praying that I don’t have to push it back further. The A to Z challenge . . . I don’t have the energy to continue that now. I thought about making a video, but I didn’t think I could get through it without an ugly cry and who needs to see that?

Hope you stick around to see me come out the other end of this!

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

Thank God for Grace in Editing!


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This is an unofficial blog hop challenge makeup post for #MFRW. 

This is officially the Week 2 assignment – Sorry Editor! My Common Writing Mistakes.

For my first book – Red Wine & Roses,  my editor had just graduated from Oxford and was between jobs. Since then she has landed a prestigious position with Elsevier and has been dealing with some major health issues between herself and her boyfriend.

Enter GRACE! My editor is Grace Augustine, author of the Acorn Hills Series.  Do any of you believe in divine connections? The day I met Grace seemed to be one of those connections. We were attending Romance Rendezvous in Cedar Falls Iowa. I gambled on being able to arrive in plenty of time by driving there and not staying over. It was close,  but we arrived in time. It was very close! Since then, we’ve become good friends.

Friends aside, Grace is a tough editor. I would expect nothing less! I wonder how much it would cost to have some muffins delivered to her each morning . . . . it might soften the task. If you find yourself in need of an editor, aside from myself because I do have slots available to edit next month and through the summer, I can strongly recommend Grace over at edits with a touch of grace.

Anyway, moving on to my mistakes. There are times when I really hate these prompts and this is one of them. Why is it necessary to air my dirty laundry???  Seriously, this is why we have editors because we all have common mistakes. *SIGH*

Misspelled words: Please let me clarify,  I know how to spell, but my fingers have a different plan when I’m typing.

  • Becasue =because
  • friend=freind
  • teh=the
  • nad=and

The use of semicolons –   it’s like someone spilled a bucket full of them all over my computer files.

Switching tense – one of my pet peeves as an author and as an editor. Yet, I do it myself.

Sentence fragments. We don’t think in complete sentences,  but when writing, we have to at least know the rules before breaking them. If the author is adding a bit for emphasis, sometimes it’s acceptable to use a sentence fragment but not when you are in the middle of a descriptive narrative. Recently, I sent the first part of Roxy to Grace,  she commented: this sentence makes no sense!  NO, it didn’t because I  didn’t complete it. I left off the subject of the sentence.

Recently, I sent the first part of Roxy to Grace,  she commented: this sentence makes no sense!  NO, it didn’t because I  didn’t complete it. I left off the subject of the sentence. I do this a lot, which is one of many reasons why I need an editor! Don’t laugh, you’ll need one too.

I remember getting so upset when my then social media coach read my completed manuscript for Faere Warrior: Passion’s Price and gave it back to me with a few comments. “Well, it doesn’t suck.  Where is the rest of the story? The reader doesn’t know the world you have inside your head. You need to write it down, showing them   everything else that is going on.”

I have loads of details inside my head of my characters, their worlds, the settings, their backstory, their pet peeves, quirks – but I sometimes am so anxious to get them down that I forget to write parts.

Sorry Grace, you’ve really got your work cut out for you! What issues do you have when writing your drafts?

You can catch the previous posts from this series here:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess
  3. Binge Watching #MFRWauthor

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

 

Binge Watching #MFRWauthor


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This is an unofficial blog hop challenge makeup post. 

Week 3 – TV Shows I Binge

Netflix is an amazing tool. It is also easy to misuse.

My last binge was Mach 21, as I sat on the sofa wrapped in a quilt, sipping on Seven up, getting up only when I had to race down the hall to the bathroom. I can’t guarantee I even remember every episode that I watched because I think my brain made up a few.

To begin with, let’s cover the movies that I have binge watched repeatedly that are a series.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean:  – and I’m looking forward to Dead Men Tell No Tales
  • Fast and Furious series – I’ve seen all but the last two.
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit
  • Narnia
  • Ip Man
  • John Wayne Movies
  • Bruce Willis Movies

Technically that’s not what the post is supposed to be about, it specifically stated TV shows. How can you exclude the movie marathons though?  Here is my list of TV shows:

  • Supernatural
  • How to Get Away With Murder
  • Criminal Minds
  • Hawaii 5-O
  • Burn Notice
  • Walking Dead
  • IZombie
  • Series of Unfortunate Events
  • Stranger Things
  • 13 Reasons Why
  • NON-Netflix binge – HGTV – whether it’s Property Brothers or Chip and Joanna Gaines if my husband is working and I get the tv remote –  it stays on HGTV all day long while I work on other things!

Yeah, that takes up enough of my time. The funny thing is,  the only regular TV things I watch are the news and well, the news.  I’d like to watch Master chef Jr but we have a class on Thursday nights. I’d like to watch the amazing race but we have a thing then.  I’d like to – this is why NetFlix is so awesome. I can watch when I can watch and our lives don’t stop just for a TV show. I don’t want to get too deep into that statement because if you think about it, it does but it does on MY timetable.

What shows do you binge watch? Was there such a thing as binge watching before NetFlix?

You can find my other posts for this challenge here:

  1. Raindrops on Roses
  2. They’ll Survive – I Guess

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

They’ll Survive – I Guess #MFRWauthor


badge-blog-challenge-updated

This is an unofficial blog hop challenge makeup post for #MFRW. 

This is officially the Week 2 assignment – How My Family Survives My Writing

IN 2014 I attended Penned Con. They had panels where some of the authors shared ‘how they write’.  A single mother shared how her mother keeps her kids sometimes overnight so she can crank out her books. She had more than three kids, I don’t remember if it was four or five, but there was no spouse in the picture. I can’t do what she does for a couple of reasons. 1. My parents are dead. When they were alive I would not have asked them to watch my children so that I can write, because neither of them believed that writing was a worthwhile endeavor.

Another author stated that she locks herself in her office and her husband takes care of their kids, he fixes the meals and did all of the housework. That would never fly here either. My husband works a full-time job. I don’t have an office in which I could shut them out if I wanted to. I do all the cooking here. My husband could easily heat up a frozen pizza, or cook some eggs,  or fry a burger but for other meals, it would never work. I watched him make macaroni and cheese one time. He actually read the directions on the box! I cook our meals from scratch. We don’t use prepackaged, convenient foods. Well, hardly ever anyway. I do occasionally opt for cans of soup, the frozen pizza, pizza rolls, and chicken tenders. Since my husband works full-time and I work part-time,  I don’t expect him to handle everything.

Another author shared that she writes during her lunch hour at work, and when her kids are tucked in bed at night. That is about the closest to my schedule that I could compare. I write in the mornings after my husband leaves for work and before my kids are up for school and or work. (Keep in mind my children are now college-aged adults.) I write in the afternoons when my day job is completed and before my husband returns home from work. He’s gone ten to twelve hours a day, so I keep my writing restricted to when he’s not here.

When I was on a deadline to get my edits back to my former publisher, it was extremely stressful. I was trying to complete edits while both of my daughters were trying to talk to me, while the husband is asking what’s for dinner, where is this or that, and I about lost it on all of them. My blood pressure was elevated, my stress level was through the roof, and my stomach was in knots. Never again. My family comes first!

They will survive my writing because I try my best to keep it from interfering with family life. It does present problems though, when he’s home for the weekend and I am suddenly struck with an idea for the next scene, or story, or whatever it is that takes over my brain. I tend to keep a spiral notebook handy to write down those inspirations, and then on Monday morning, I can translate them into a file with my Dragon Recognition Software. I love using Dragon in this fashion. I’ve discovered that If I hand write my scene, then dictate it into Dragon, it’s like a second draft because as I read it aloud, I catch things that sounded good on paper but not when read. Another benefit is when Dragon doesn’t translate the words I speak and I am able to go back into my notes and see what it was supposed to say.

I decided after the last round of fighting with my Dragon, that I was going to keep a log of misinterpreted words and compile them into a post. Some of these. . . . wow, they will leave you rolling on the floor holding your side from laughing so hard.

My Family will survive because we work together. We value family time.

In other words, I have a life outside of my laptop!

This is week 2 of this series. You can catch the first post here:

  1. Raindrops on Roses

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

 

Fine Tuning the Plan


Today is a day of evaluation. It’s not a day of beginnings, but rather a day of continuance. Toady is one of those stuck in the murky middle days.

Have you ever started off with great gusto to find yourself sidelined and wondering what in the world happened? Have you gotten off course? Lost your way? Taken the wrong detour? Well, I have. I’ve done it often, and today is my “correcting my course” day.

I don’t know if any of you are like me, if so you may recognize some of what I’m about to share. If not, you may be amused or sympathetic or you might even be able to offer some insight. Grab your favorite beverage, some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

Back in January,  I was all gung-ho – this is going to be my best year! YAY! Enter the sickness. Seriously –  it was like I alerted the universe and invited all the plagues, disease, and infirmities to pay me a visit. I posted on here, so proud of myself for making a plan that I could stick to and not fail. You can read that here: The Master Plan.

I swear it was the next day that I was hit with the sick wand. UGH, it’s been a battle just to stay healthy. However, I’m not here to lament that. I’m here to discuss why I’m evaluating my lack of progress and making my quarterly adjustments to get me back on track.

My first point in the Master Plan is Be Your best every day.  I had to reread it in order to remind myself to STOP berating myself for not being able to run at 90 to nothing full throttle every single day. Let me tell you what happens when I start down that path. It’s ugly so consider this your “viewer discretion” advisory.

I’m feeling great, life is good, I can do all the things, throw sparkly glitter all around! The big bad sickness ogre sees this as a clear invitation to mess with Sasquatch aka Ellie. I get in a funk. I start the mental lashings. I continue down the berating trail eventually  botoming out in a pit of despairm feeling like an ultimate failure, ready to throw in the towel on everything. Life just can’t get any worse. This sucks. I suck. My writing sucks. When nobody comes along to help me out of my muck, I scrape off the glop, wipe my tears and go clean myself up, scrubbing until my skin and nerves are raw and flayed. Overcompensating, I push myself with new vigor and determination. It doesn’t take long for cracks to appear and the spiral downward begins anew. It’s a horrible cycle and I am tired of it. I don’t want to continue in this any longer.

Quick reminder of point 1:

  1. Be your best every day.  No matter what you do, do your very best at it.  If your best for that day is to say thanks to the person caring for you, like if you have the flu and they are bringing you hot tea then be thankful. If your best is running a marathon that day, then run like your life depends on it and give it 100%. Your best fluctuates from day to day. There are days we are unstoppable. There are days when it’s a trial to get from one minute to the next. Whatever your best is, do it. Know that it is your best. If you can’t with a clear conscious say inside your heart that you gave your best effort then do more. If you are running the marathon and you gave 100% and didn’t win then be at peace with yourself that you gave your all. If you only exerted 85% effort,  then evaluate and learn from it,  and know that you are capable of more so that the next time you will know that what you thought was 100% was only at 85%. Are you with me?

OK, I seriously need to take my own advice! Learning to function overall when those days of not being at full capacity happen, and they seem to happen a lot more as I’ve gotten older, I need to learn that ‘be at peace’ part so badly. I’m working on it. I had a good self-talk yesterday after mentally berating myself for not hitting my self-imposed deadlines, then alternately berating myself for making too lofty of goals for myself. Honestly, if this was fifteen years ago then my self-imposed deadlines and goals would be a piece of cake. It’s not fifteen years ago however, it’s now – today -and I’m older. That sucks, but I don’t have to let it suck as much as it has been. I need to come to terms with what I can and can’t do and realize that I’m not where I want to be, but that I can change that with steady progress. AAAAAAANNND  we come full circle to the crux of what set me on this quarterly check. Lack of steady progress.

Why? Because I’ve let the days that I couldn’t do my best from yesterday affect my ability to accept that my best today was the best I could manage and let it go. Then there are those days when I know I didn’t give my best, and in fact, I wasted hours sulking, or playing games, or lost in “research” down the internet rabbit hole. From this point, all I can do is count those as a loss and do my best to make every day count or at least a good 80%.

My second obvious mistake – again I should take my own advice – is not following number 2 on my master list – Make your goals crystalline. I’ve discovered that my bullet journal has a massive flaw. Yes, the same bullet journal that I’ve been singing praises of. The bullet journal that keeps my butt in line and on track.

What on earth could be such a massive flaw in a near perfect tool? Operator error.

I’m the one who enters everything into my handy dandy little book of life order. I haven’t been precise. Looking over the past three months worth of entries I notice a distinct pattern. An important part of my bullet journal is my daily todo list. Which often looks like this:

  • writing 1 hour
  • editing 2 hours
  • housework
  • resale
  • scheduled appointments, webinar, etc.
  • miscellaneous items such as groceries, get oil changed, etc.

The problem is that I need to be specific on the first two entries. I need to write specifics like 1 hour writing on chapter 12 of Roxy: scene 15,16,17. On editing I need to be specific about the book I am editing like: Malevolent Mind – chapters 12 – 15.

For someone who has been   made aware multiple times of the importance to have SMART goals, why didn’t I see  this before?

I’m disappointed in myself in the setbacks for completing this manuscript, however given the changes that I am making to it, I’m OK with this. Being behind on my plan even after the changes due to lack of focus I am not OK with.

Tools are only effective if you are using them correctly. You wouldn’t take a chainsaw to cut a couple of one by sixes to make shelves, likewise you wouldn’t use a table saw to cut down a rotten tree. The botom line I suppose is that I am once again fine tuning my bullet journal for my personal adaptation.

The objective is not to have the perfect bullet journal, my objective is to utilize my bullet journal in being a more focused and productive author. I might add,  it’s a good thing to do an occasional check to see where you are on your goals instead of hitting the end of the year and say “well, I failed that one”.  Even if I don’t hit the final mark like losing 75 pounds this year,  I will  make progress in that direction.

Have you evaluated where you are on your path to reaching your goals? If you take time now to do that, you can make some adjustments to make it possible to reach.

While you ponder what your take away for yourself is,  stop over at AuthorShout where my cover is up for vote for best cover. GO VOTE FOR RED WINE & ROSES!

Write on my friends, write on.

Ellie

 

 

Malevolent Mind Release!


 

Last week I  had a post for Friday, but failed to get it linked in time to post. I actually had two of them for the same day and with all the other stuff, failed to get them posted. The first was the release of Misty’s book Malevolent Mind.

My apologies to Misty Harvey for the delay,  but . . . better late than never.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share in Malevolent Mind’s release day and thank you to Ellie for being willing to host me here. This book has been a lot of fun for me to write and I hope in turn that readers will enjoy it as much as I. You can join me also over on my website for more release weekend fun.

The idea for this novel came from a lot of different places. One being that as a child my nephew and I, whom I was extremely close to would write these horror stories. We’d take our younger siblings down into the creepy basement of my house and we’d read them bits of it. As the story hit its scariest peak we’d run out of the room, flipping off lights as we went and leaving them screaming down there. More often than not our parents would be waiting for us at the top of the stairs and we’d be punished afterward. Still, it did little to deter them from joining us to hear the next installment of ‘Red Eyed Guy’ (We were so creative over the title, don’t you think? Lol).

There are bits of me in the father figure as well as Kade. I’ve always loved to write horror stories to be able to create such a physical and chemical reaction in a person with words is the most incredible thing to me. So, out of fun and to celebrate the release of Malevolent Mind write a two sentence horror story. The winner of a Malevolent Mind ebook will be chosen on Monday! So do your best! Don’t forget to leave a way I can contact you later if you win.

 

Malevolent Mind

Horror

Blurb:

A story so dark, twisted, and unfinished has a way of driving the sanest to the brink of insanity.

Between the constant state of bullying from Heath and his friends, and the unrest of not knowing what happened to her twin, Raven seeks revenge. Years later, she becomes the nanny for Heath’s young son, Kade. She helps him start a horror story with the plan to bring the horrible creature Kade created into the real world to torment Heath and his friends. It was perfect, until everything began unraveling. When Kade’s creation no longer wishes to do Raven’s bidding, it becomes a fight for life or death. The only way to survive is to figure out how to finish off the creature before she finds her freedom. Will Kade find a way to stop the creation of his malevolent mind? Or will Raven’s revenge consume them all?

Excerpt:

 Kade sat there in the middle of the room. He pulled his legs up against his chest, wrapping his arms around them. There was nothing to see now that his head cowered there in the darkness of his own lap. If tonight was the night that he’d die, he wasn’t so sure he’d want to see either of the girls coming for him.

His ears perked up. Behind him came the sound of wet clothes slapping together. He lifted his head, unable to keep it down. It was just his imagination. That was all.

The feel of icy breath slid over the back of his neck. Each tiny hair stood at attention as the stench of decay washed over him. Was it the girl from the river or was it Zilla? Kade flipped onto his knees, the beam of the flashlight straight forward.

There, inches from his face, was Zilla. She stared at him. Her mouth was open at an angle as her tongue flicked out against the air. It was too late to run anywhere.

Death stared him right in the face. Part of him felt relief that it was only her. Of course, that was if the other one wasn’t waiting for him as well. He didn’t dare move the flashlight beam to find out. Zilla had appeared out of nowhere so who knew what would happen once the light wasn’t on her?

Kade watched as her blue-tinged hand reached up for him. She held her hand for him to take. Something told him that doing so would be the end of him. Panic gripped his insides and he knew he had moments to make the first move. If he didn’t react soon, she’d overpower him.

He swung out with the flashlight, catching her on the side of the head. Her body rolled across the floor with a sickening thud. Kade was sure that the magnum flashlight had cracked her skull. It had nearly broken his foot when he’d dropped it one time. He jumped across his bed, darting into the hallway. His gaze moved around the hall as he tried to make out anything.

The sound of her rapidly skittering toward him had him running down the hallway. He stopped at Raven’s door, trying her handle, but the door wouldn’t budge. Instead, the old wood rattled in the frame.

In a flash of lightning, he watched Zilla skitter into the hall on her hands and feet, her body parallel to the floor as she let out a sickening hiss. Half of her head remained dented in from where he’d clocked her with the flashlight. It was a terrifying image to behold. The fact that she continued to chase him regardless turned his stomach.

Kade looked back only briefly before he ran. She was close on his heels. In the distance, he could just make out his father’s door. His bare feet padded against the wood flooring.

Goosebumps raced up his spine as her icy fingers wrapped around his ankle. The weight of his body hit the floor with a loud thud. His head bounced against the hard surface blurring his vision. Tears filled his eyes making it even harder to see. At least now, he wouldn’t have to worry about seeing his death coming.

The cold sensation crept up his leg, over his knee and toward his waist. He could feel the weight of her above him as she crawled up his body. Time slowed so that each second felt like eons. The stench of her undead body burned at his nostrils. Kade gagged on the smell that was so strong he could almost taste it.

He didn’t want to die. Life was too short for him. There was still so much that he wanted to do. Besides, he wasn’t sure who would take care of his father if he wasn’t there any longer. That thought rolled inside of him. He wasn’t going to go out like this, a cowering lump of fear on the floor. If she wanted to kill him, she’d have to fight a lot harder for it.

Kade grabbed her arms, rolling them over as he kicked out with both his legs. Her body smashed into the wall across from them, freeing him to run. He scrambled onto his feet, darting for his father’s room.

The bright light blinded him as he ran for it. That was it. He’d found his end and now he was headed into the light. Just as he’d read in another book. It was his time to cross over.

 

If you’d love the chance to read more about Kade, Heath, Raven and Zilla you can purchase the ebook here. Or if you’re more of a physical book type of person as myself, that can be purchased here.

 

Misty Harvey loves writing spine-tingling horror novels sure to thrill readers. The psychology behind such tales has always been a fascination for her since she was younger. Even to the point that she once contemplated taking up psychology as a profession. Still, her love resides in the art of storytelling. An art she wishes to continue to share with readers for the rest of her days.

After climbing out of her writing cave and searching the house for the sound of the latest creak or pop, Misty can be found doing one of many things. Often times she spends the remained of her day with her amazingly supportive husband and youngest daughter. While she has two older children that are out there spreading their wings around the world, including giving her a few grandchildren.

Her favorite things to do when not writing are crafts, wrestling with her dog, avoiding her cat’s bite or generally making her husband and daughter crazy. Often times she can be found creating vivid tales with her daughter about whatever mundane thing happened in their day and turning it into a crazy story. She is also an avid gamer, crochet goddess (we shall pretend there), domestic queen, and animal tamer (it’s a work in progress).

Stalker Links:

Website: Mistyharvey.com

Facebook: Author Misty Harvey

Twitter: AuthorMDHarvey

Goodreads: Author Misty Harvey

My apologies for the delay in posting,  but please don’t delay in getting your copy now! Leave the lights on to read it!

Write on my friends, write on!

I’ll take What is Purple Prose for 50 Alex #MFRWauthor


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Welcome to week 9 of the 52-week MFRW blog challenge.  Each week I will post something about that week’s topic. Ready to play?

This week’s prompt:  Words that make me go ick!

For me, that would be purple prose.

Do not use purple prose, euphemisms, words or phrases that make you uncomfortable. Use words that are appropriate, even if you are a little uncomfortable with them. Do not let your characters get so involved in the physical act that it becomes, quite disappointingly, mere sex. Readers do not want to hear all those cotton-soft euphemisms any more than they want to hear anything inappropriate to the scene. They want a sensual experience — seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. Do not neglect the “jarring” senses either, like talking, moving, thinking, — because that is where the sense of reality enters in.

Here is a good test of whether a word is worth using in a love scene. Say it aloud while you are in the midst of the love scene you are writing. Does it make you hot? Hotter? Alternatively, does it make you laugh aloud? If you laugh out loud, that is a pretty solid indication that it’s not a word you should use because your readers will probably do the same. Unless you are going for the humorous bit and then use it.

I have been stopped dead in my tracks many times while reading love scenes by words and phrases like “his manhood waved at me like a flagpole”, “his rod of pleasure”, “her honey pot” or “they soared on the wings of love and exploded into infinity.” “He stood over me, his eyes partially closed, his lips slightly parted, the hot breath hitching as his magnificent sword waved before me.” (Excuse me? His sword? Is he going to slice her head off?)

I cringe or laugh, sometimes both.  Along the same lines, certain words may be too crude, rude or shocking to use in your romance novel. This will depend on the subgenre. If you are writing a steeple hills sweet romance where they close the doors and turn the lights off, use of the words vulva, vagina, penis may be considered too vulgar. On the flip side if you are writing a BDSM erotica, using “his man-sword” instead of “cock” will leave your reader in a fit of giggles. OR maybe that’s your preferred method of masochism. If it is,  good luck with that.

If, as a writer, you are too uncomfortable to describe the scene, maybe you should choose a different genre.  Know your genre, know your audience, and don’t be surprised that someone will complain regardless.

Don’t forget this is a blog hop. Anyone can join at any point in the MFRW 52 week challenge…  Click here. Make sure you check out some of the other authors below.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

23.

Raindrops on Roses


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This is an unofficial blog hop challenge makeup post. Gee, guess which one?

Going back to the first week which I missed –  1. A few of my favorite things!

*hums song from Sound of Music*  Admit it,  you sang the title of my blog, didn’t you?

Favorites hmmm. Let’s do this in a simple but unorthodox format.

Favorite foods: 

  • fried chicken
  • Bordeaux cherry chocolate ice cream
  • crab legs
  • watermelon
  • vegetable lo mein

Favorite movies:

  • The Fifth Element
  • Excalibur
  • Fool’s Gold
  • RobRoy
  • Lord of the Rings movies

Favorite books:

  • Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon)
  • Highlander series (Karen Marie Moning)
  • Inca Gold – OK, I cheat here. I love nearly all of Clive Cussler’s books but decided that I would name the one that first ignited my interest in his books.
  • Timeline – Michael Crichton

Favorite possessions:

  • my bullet journal
  • my laptop
  • the pearl necklace and earring set that my husband bought me for our 30th anniversary. Absolutely gorgeous!

Favorite places to go:

  • Panama City Beach, Florida
  • Rich’s Frozen Custard
  • Laumeier Sculpture Park
  • Missouri Botanical Gardens
  • Any place new!

Favorite fast food items: 

  • Hardee’s mushroom swiss burger
  • Subway sweet onion teriyaki chicken
  • Panera’s bear claws *drools*
  • Lee’s fried chicken tenders ( don’t get these very often as we don’t have  a Lee’s around us)
  • Panda Express Orange chicken with broccoli and rice

Favorite articles of clothing:

  • a pair of Lee Rider jeans that fit perfectly!
  • my black leather jacket
  • red camp style shirt
  • Bohemian style ecru crochet sweater ( not much of a sweater as it’s more of an overshirt type of thing, but I love it!)
  • New Balance tennis shoes. If only all shoes could fit like these, I may actually wear shoes throughout the day.

Favorite flavors:

  • cherry
  • chocolate

Not that anyone asked,  but there you have it. Now I can mark that one off of my list and you now know more about me than you ever cared to.

Honestly, I’ve been so far in the headspace of Detective Devon Miller that I am suspecting my own family of covert operations. This calls for further investigation and a large supply of chocolate.

Write on my friends, write on!