Insecure and Invalid  

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Apologies that I missed my monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day, although only by about twenty-four hours. I even have a valid excuse and a doctor’s note – well pages of notes and homework.

Wind back to Monday – basically, I had woken early Monday morning with terrible MS spasms throughout my body. They were so bad that my wife Juanita thought she was losing me, but she helped me through the nightmare. Then throughout the day, there was a growing stream of MS symptoms starting with an inability to type coherently. That was very clear in my final post on Facebook:

“After a terrible night when Juanita Clarke was luckily tere for me, psting is very hard as mystyping everything. So apologies for siaslence.”

From then on, my wife had to keep everyone on Facebook informed of what happened. The shaking became uncontrollable and I slid out of my wheelchair at which point, Juanita rang her granddaughter Jessica, who dashed around to help. Her middle son Jason also arrived. I then vomited up my supper all over the office carpet. Jason phoned 911 and the paramedics arrived in a fire truck and an ambulance.

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I was taken to the ER at St Luke’s Hospital, Meridian where they diagnosed pneumonia which had triggered those MS symptoms. In short, I ended up spending three nights in hospital being pumped with drugs and fluids, sucked of blood, and cared for by a great team at St Luke’s – too many to mention by name but you know who you are, especially if I grilled you about your ancestry or talked incessantly about my writing.

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Throughout this all I missed my wife, Juanita, although she did visit me – at the hospital where she spent two night after her heart attack in late December. Our dogs were always on my thoughts as they couldn’t visit, but I had to confront everything I would lose if I gave up. So now I am back home and posting this explanation for my tardiness and failure to post yesterday.

Yes, I know I posted ‘D is for Donibane’ but some of my A to Z Challenge posts were written and scheduled in advance. However, the last one written and scheduled is ‘I is for Ice’. Hopefully, I can stay ahead, but I won’t be taking Sundays off unless the doctor orders me to rest…. which she has.

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Graylin Brown – a review

 

I’m feeling a bit stressed at the moment, trying to get my debut novel republished, my latest book revised, falling behind in the revision workshop I’m meant to be doing, aware that April is the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and that I need to announce my A to Z theme in three days.

On top of all that, I realise that there are nine books that I read over the winter but never did proper reviews for; not because I didn’t enjoy them but because I let life get in the way – or should that be declining health and fending off the MonSter. So, that brings me to the stand-out book in the list and the one that meant a great deal.

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Graylin Brown

by Rodney Saulsberry

If you love the Motown sound you will love, Graylin Brown! The fictional story of a soulful R&B singer, William Bell, who made his way from Detroit to Hollywood with all the joy and pain in between.

 

Review *****

I must confess that I can’t remember why I picked this book up, but I must admit that I was so grateful from the moment I started reading it. It was probably another review or an Amazon sample but I’m totally glad whatever the reason was. This was a beautiful and emotional read.

From the opening scene, the reader knows that something is wrong with William Bell as he lies in a hospital bed – I had been there and knew. But then the book flashes back to when William was healthy and caught up in the early days of Motown as a talented musician for whom stardom beckoned. Those were wonderful moments and I was swept along, although in the pit of my stomach I knew what was coming. Something strikes him down and the doctors can’t diagnose him – not surprising as this was the 60s and even now this disease is missed or overlooked; and even in 2000, I slipped through the system in a way.

But this is William’s story, not mine. And from here there are a few hinted spoilers, so if you don’t want to know more, stop here and believe me that this book may be shortish but a novel that I recommend.

William recovers, but his recording boss sees him as a liability, waiting for this unknown disease to strike. His career staggers along as his colleagues that he had a hit record with flourish. The cruelty of those judgmental people like his boss is so real and Rodney Saulsberry captures every nuance.

Some years later, William collapses again and from there – well read the book. William’s struggle mimicked mine in many ways, although I have never had a hit record, just struggled with multiple sclerosis. But I understood what he was going through. I asked the author how he had captured the progress so perfectly and he told me that he had family members that had lived with MS.

This is a very realistic depiction of life with multiple sclerosis, with great characters. The feel of the music industry back in the Motown days feels realistic, especially as I have close musician friends though from later decades. I urge you to read this, and I might even be brave enough to do that again. At moments, it had me in tears, not least because the main character’s MS echoed mine, but also because his blood family were there for him at every moment.

The ending is beautiful and so much more. Writing this brings those emotions back. When you finish this moving read, you might understand why.

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Where am I going in 2017?

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Any realistic writing plans for 2017 are dependent on my health.

My multiple sclerosis has entered a vicious, downward spiral with side issues like pulled tendons and swollen legs aggravating the MS. The consequences are that first, I have to cope with constant pain, sometimes bearable but other times excruciating to the point that all I can do is scream. Second, a combination of medication and lack of sleep at night, from the pain, means that I doze for much of the day, or I struggle to stay awake when I need to do anything crucial.

Excuses over, here are my writing targets for 2017 in achievable order:

I fell asleep here at 17.45, I think [Day 1]

[Day 2] Finally, I’ve got a bit more energy to write.

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TARGET 1 – RE-PUBLISH SPIRAL OF HOOVES

My debut novel, Spiral of Hooves was published on December 9th, 2013 and was available for eighteen months. My publisher, Spectacle Publishing Media Group was changing hands, so I chose to terminate our agreement, receiving all my rights back.

As I don’t feel that the novel was promoted effectively, which is clear by the friends who ask if I ever finished writing the book, then a second release is needed. Furthermore, there has never been a paperback version, so that will be part of the publishing plan.

The first step, though, is to check the reviews, that I copied off Amazon and Goodreads, for anything that needs revising and reading the novel again myself. The resulting revision will also allow me to check the foreshadowing for the sequel Tortuous Terrain.

Next, I need to identify the publishing route. I had presumed that it would be impossible to find a publisher that handled previously published books. However, I discovered Fahrenheit Press that publishes ‘Crime Fiction’ and are “not too bothered if the books have been published before”. I need to check them out more, so if anyone knows about them, please let me know.

The other option is the self-publishing route, and the choice seems to be between Create Space and Book Baby, although there may be better options that I’m overlooking. All recommendations are gratefully accepted. This route means formatting the novel for both eBook and paperback, a major task and daunting – but worth getting right. There are also financial implications at a time when health care has to be the priority.

And then I need to promote Spiral of Hooves effectively and widely – having prepared a strategy in advance.

 

16:00 – can I rest now, please?

20:28 – rested and showered so sort of energized.

 

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Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

TARGET 2 – PUBLISH STORMS COMPASS

Storms Compass is the first book in the post-apocalyptic series Gossamer Flames. Books 2 and 3 are partly written already, as I constructed all three around short stories.

One of my critique partners has done an extensive page by page assessment that will be the basis for my final draft. Even though one of my two line-editor friends edited an earlier draft of Storms Compass, I will have made enough substantial changes to run it past the other editor. There are cost implications at this stage as well.

When I have the polished novel, I will attempt to find a publisher – having ensured that I have an excellent synopsis and blurb, that my author profile reflects the ones on social media, and ensured all recommendations for submissions are checked off.

That process could take me into 2018, so I need to be making other plans.

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A lot is dependent on (a) the response that I get to the re-release of Spiral of Hooves; (b) my financial situation. If sales are minimal and health care eats away at our savings, I can attempt to finish the re-draft of Fates Maelstrom and doing research for Eagle Crossing.

On the other hand, if both Spiral of Hooves and Storms Compass are well received, I will need to work on their sequels. Is that hopeful thinking?

Have you any advice on this crazy plan, please? Does my strategy make sense?

 

 

Erratic Schedule

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This post is an apology for my failings in the weeks and months ahead.

You’ve been warned.

I’ve even got some sneaky excuses that might even be genuine.

First, I have to warn you that my posts will appear erratically. I will attempt some kind of weekly post, but no wild promises lile, “I will post something every Tuesday”. Attempt can mean that nothing will appear.

There will be a few guest posts, like this Friday’s post from Kristina Stanley, whose novel “Blaze” I reviewed recently. Her latest book, “Avalanche”, is released on Saturday.

And there will be the intermittent book reviews, like the one that I should write for my current read, the “Dying for a Living” Box set, by Kory M. Shrum. It feels like a slower read than normal as the set has three books, and I know that there are two more out there. Will I get that far?

Finally, I will try to write my monthly IWSG posts, although that may be a fail come October. That’s because of September 20th.

QM2For those that don’t know, that is the date when we embark on the QM2 and head for the USA, and the next stage in our life-adventure. Yes, we are selling our home in Harlech, North Wales, and by the end of September should be in our new home in Boise, Idaho. There we will have my wife’s family to support us. Bliss.

Although the IWSG post for October is on Wednesday 5th, our computers will still be in a container between Wales and Idaho. In fact, our possessions may not arrive until sometime in November. Okay, we have a small HP Stream notebook for travel, but I’m still adapting to it.

The HP Stream will get its second outing next week, when we head to London for my interview with US Immigration on Wednesday June 29th. Checking emails is probably the most that I will achieve, but don’t expect any comments on your blogs or here.

In fact, with all the preparations prior to the move, I’m already commenting less, visiting fewer blogs, even writing less. That is likely to become the norm as time sails on. Cruising on the QM2 will be a kind of luxury, but connecting with the cyber-world will be off the menu. Just seven days pampering ourselves perhaps. As for the dogs, they travel first class, with their own cabin/kennel, steward, bedtime biscuits, poop deck, designer jackets, and more.

queenmaryNot looking forward to the road trip though. Getting from New York to Boise will be a challenge for all of us. At least, Juanita’s son Jason will be driving across to collect us.

Anyway, by October – maybe November – there will be a large backlog to catch up. Or should that be a Backblog?

I’ve deliberately evaded any reference to aggravating health issues, but they seem to be growing. The niggling bladder, the stabbing spasms, rebellious limbs, the depression, the exhaustion, and the frustration never go away. Sometimes I can escape into another world, either one of my own creation, or a book I’m reading, or a game that takes me to a ‘a galaxy far, far away’. But never for long. Too soon I get interrupted by the MaelStrom or MonSter.

I’m praying that a change of climate, from the dampness of Wales to the dry warmth of Idaho, will be the healing touch; along with the loving support of family.

Hopefully, by December and the holiday season normal service will be resumed.

 

 

Why comment?

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During April I read more blog posts than usual, mainly as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. However, I didn’t comment on as many of them as I should have done, judging by some amazing people like the Ninja Captain. How does he do it?

I know that it is common courtesy to acknowledge the effort someone has made writing a post. So I tried to tweet most of them. But that’s another insecurity: how to thanks all my own re-tweeters like others do.

Anyway back to the comments. I made a few, even trying to stick to the letter of the day – expressing enthusiastic enchantment OR waxing weighty worded warnings.

Quality not quantity?

And when a post already has 96 comments, I hesitate to add another one aping others – unless I have a unique perspective that is worth sharing. But that’s unlikely.

Does my reluctance mean anything? Never that I disliked the post, even when some were long articles although erudite ones.

But I suspect making few comments reduces the traffic to my site. The figures support that fact – 96:3.

What do you think? Or is it a matter of “No Comment”?

 

NOTE: I won’t comment on any posts for a few days as I’m travelling = a better excuse than the gerbil chewed my thoughts. How about the monster maelstrom sucks?

Maybe sometimes, monster shark munches severely, meaning stressed mind spasms. Maelstrom swamps my serenity.

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with my fellow writers.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group –https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

The awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris! 

A Day Late and Dollars Short

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This should have been posted yesterday, but I forgot what day it was. In fact, on Sunday I still thought it was Saturday. So, I lost a day somewhere.

If you find that missing day, please let me have it back. I’m missing it terribly. 😉

As for the mislaid dollars, well my brother did give me some money. However, his version of money is limited – by some camel with a needle aversion. I can’t really complain as I got enough to cover Christmas, or whatever holiday we choose to celebrate in wet and windy Wales.

As I warned my not-so-wise sibling, the price of everything is going up, and January will probably bring bigger price-hikes. Meridian, the place we are trying to move to, just got voted the Best Place to Live in America,  by 24/7 Wall St., an online financial news corporation. Already, suitable wheelchair-accessible houses are selling within 48 hours of going on the market. And the price will have a knock-on effect in the Treasure Valley area.

His excuses for not advancing the money to buy, are getting lamer every time we talk. The property to finance this has sold, for a considerable amount – millions – and my share covers my requests, and more. But he can always justify dragging his knuckles.

Maybe, after Christmas, there might be real news – or NOT.

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There are also things missing on the writing front. Not exactly days – although the timeline of the story is a challenge – nor dollars, or pounds; could do with the Royalties though. Instead, having been a 2015 NaNoWriMo winner, the wheels are spinning.

I was working to an outline, but then I killed off a second character. Now, my detectives are all over the place, searching for evidence and scenes. Which means that the outline has to be re-thought before the Chief Constable closes down the investigation, and I’m left with a cold case. Or should that be a cold novel?

So great is my stressed-out confusion, that I’ve even re-installed Scrivener, believing that I missed a trick or two by abandoning it. Well, it did lose another novel – but I had an RTF backup for that.

Rant over. Off to plot another brutal murder – MUAHAHAHAHA.

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