Monday, March 12, 2012

And the race is on...

Why do I do this to myself.

I'm still the newsletter editor for CaRWA which I love due to interesting articles and other perks. Just one more year left of it and then I'll miss the extra secret board meetings, an outsider again. ;)

I also signed myself up to do a Communications Degree online. 2yr course but afterwards I have a better chance of being able to work from home going what I love - writing.

I've also signed both boys up for soccer and then swimming...and I have to "volunteer" for something with the soccer or pay the $100 option instead (not an option). So I tried to pick something hat hopefully won't take up too much of the limited time I have left - line marking. Whee!

All this while I act as a single mom as hubby works up in the oil field as a medic, though he ia currently going through a process to get a job in town (everything crossed here, including eyes...maybe a few hopeful spells...).

And the best part of it all...I do it all to myself...willingly.

Someone check me into the mental home so I can get a break!

But it's funny because any time I have a break for too long I seem to fill it with something else to drive myself crazy. I enjoy a lot of it, except honestly the stuff for the kids. Don't get me wrong, I love watching them have fun, get the exercise they need, etc, but I kinda wish it was all relegated to the weekends instead of making my already crazy weeknights more insane. And with the soccer, on different field with overlapping times. *facepalm*

Anyone else out there doing this to themselves? Or am I the only one that seems to fill up space so I have no time to write for "fun?"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


A lot has come about in the past year. I've beaten Thyroid Cancer, finished developing our basement (with lots of help!), finished and published a novella: Skin Deep with my Bandit Creek Books group, and gotten a 4mo old puppy for Christmas (a whoodle we named Colby...OMG a Cheese Whoodle!) There have been other small things along the way, but it has definitely been a busy year!

I have to say that a lot of this was scary and very uncomfortable. Of course the Cancer thing was scary, but for me it wasn't the cancer itself but the lack of control over the situation. Finishing the basement has been uncomfortable due to the mess and chaos in shuffling things back and forth between rooms, piling junk almost up to the ceilings in some places, just to have space to complete the next area. Then there was the puppy. I've wanted one for such a long time, but it would be me to train him, clean up after him, feed him and walk him. I haven't had a dog in over 10 years and it was mostly my parents that did that stuff before. I knew I could do it but still scary nonetheless.

Then there was writing and finishing a novella in less than three months, and when I got down to it, it was really only about a month. Then due to a sinus infection the same week that I had booked off to write, my writing time got cut in half. This whole experience with Bandit Creek, while phenomenal, has been extremely uncomfortable for me. I was WAY out of my little box. I had a few deadlines that I ended up being late on, but still I pushed through, no matter the resentment I started to have for writing and the lack of true downtime. I knew this was a short-term project and that if I didn't finish I would be letting down not only myself, but 32 other writers.

I have never written that much in a month. I have never written that continuously. I had never written those two magical words "THE END" before. This whole project, while painful, forced me to do things I may have never done by myself otherwise. This would have been easier if I could write what I wanted for a living, or was even a stay-at-home mom with one kid in school all day and the other in preschool. Instead I was cramming in thousands of words in 20 to 90 minute spurts on lunch-times at my day-job, plotting out scenes on the bus, or waiting till the kids were (finally) asleep. I even checked in with Habit Forge daily to make sure I was sitting down to write something every single day until I was done.

Would I do this again? In a heartbeat...but I may have started writing earlier if I had known pretty much nothing would get done during my supposed "writing holiday." But honestly right now I am glad that I have almost two weeks off around Christmas so I can relax and recharge. Not sure when those voices in my head will start yelling at me to write again, but I'm hoping they'll wait till after New Years.

I think I'll need a new notebook for plotting out something on the bus.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

So much for posting once a week or two. How about posting once every 3-4 months?  That sounds more do-able. <sigh>  Ah well.  This is something I would never beat myself up about, and I only find myself here today because there's been so much talking about blogging on my local RWA loop. So here I am, in the short space of time before my mom and I go out for breakfast.

The busy just never stops.  Just a couple of weekends ago, CaRWA hosted a lovely workshop with agent Deidre Knight from The Knight Agency and editor Emily Ohanjanians from HQN. Being part of the CaRWA board, we took our guests on a tour of Banff National Park.  Mountains, sun, wonderful company and great food make the trip a success.  Many personal connections were made, and I would personally love to work with either of these lovely ladies (maybe both if I'm lucky!)... as soon as I finish something I can send to them!

Right now I'm working on my novella for Bandit Creek called Skin Deep.  What happens when 30 some-odd authors get together and brainstorms?  A 33 book collaboration coming out over 16 months, all based in the town of Bandit Creek, Montana!  The first one, LOST, a Bandit Creek Mystery Tale by Vivi Anna came out on September 15.  The second one, Siren's Song (a Time travel tale) by DL Snow, released TODAY!!  They are fantabulous reads, and I'm not just saying that because I'm part of the series.  Every author has the chance to do something different: different voice, different genre (paranormal, historical, contemporary, etc), but we all have the tie into the wonderful town where anything can happen.  My book comes out on January 1, 2012... I just have to get it finished by Nov 1! (eep!)

I have been using what I have learned through monthly CaRWA meetings and the different workshops to start this fresh product.  A few tips that I use religiously:

  • It's not"just" anything.  It is or it isn't.  I used to use this word in practically every paragraph.  Now I murder it if I even see it trying to peek into my story.
  • Use active prompts to denote who's speaking instead of using He said, she said, he grunted, she panted, blah blah blah. An example? 
                       "Why are you still here?" His voice sounded tortured even to himself.
                       She poked him in the side, then started stroking his abs. "I can't seem to stay away.
                       Everything in me wants to crawl inside you."  Her heated gaze caught his.  "I'm just tired of
                       fighting it anymore."

  • Take your characters deeper. Do they seem to be at their lowest point?  What sticks and rocks can you throw at them down there.  This doesn't mean you have to keep adding different and numerous problems that your characters have to overcome. They can be the same problems, just twisted and deeper.  Say they think they solve something, but really it just reveals more underlying issues.  I like throwing these stones and laughing manically to my characters, "HA! See if you can get out of that!"  Just play the "What-if" game and see if you can come up with some crazy situations.
Anyways, I'll keep it shorter today and leave you with this.  Plus by breakfast companion is here. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Little Things in Life

It's been a super busy and stressful last month.  There's been a lot going on, from soccer for the boys twice a week, to getting my office finished and still getting it organized, to having a bit of bad luck on every Friday for the past month.  On top of that there's always financial worries because of some unexpected costs (water heater...sigh) and the fact that until Alberta stops flooding or burning, that there isn't any work for my hubby. <tightens belt> 

Oh, and now hubby's knee is having problems again.  I swear, his knee had finally gotten better after over 2yrs of pain for him, then I get Cancer.  I get better and his knee gets injured again...  Can we stop this please?

Anyways, amongst all that I still take time to enjoy certain things.  The belly laughs of my kids are always a good way to cheer up, along with big group hugs or cuddles from them.  The fact that the summer has finally made an appearance, and right in time for the Summer Solstice! (Happy Litha!) The almost daily lunch-time walks with a few of my co-workers; gets us outside for fresh air, sun and some exercise!  I've finally started following weight-watchers again, and first week following it I lost 2.8 lbs. :)

Then there was the most awesome of awesome, the local RWA chapter, CaRWA's AGM last Saturday.

There was a couple of amazing presentations thanks to some of the writers in our group.  It ended in a huge brainstorming session and I have to say I absolutely stoked about writing again!  Something huge is coming up and I can't wait to be able to share it with everyone!!

I have to say I've been completely blessed with the workshops that CaRWA has had so far this year.  I was feeling like a fake, like I shouldn't even really be on the Board because it didn't seem like I was ever going to finish anything or ever even send out a query to an agent or editor.  Felt like I wouldn't ever get that first rejection letter to show that I had stepped up to PRO status through the RWA.  Now because of the Mary Buckham workshop, the CaRWA AGM, and coming soon the When Words Collide festival (where CaRWA is going to host a totally AWESOME pajama party on Saturday night), I'm feeling like I can actually do this again!

The voices in my head have started speaking again after being mute for so long.  Normal people might find this a scary thing but, "Writers aren't exactly people.... they're a whole bunch of people trying to be one person." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald. (love that quote!)

One other good new thing that I'm just bouncing about.  I was doing some checking on-line for a Communications degree and I found out that Athabasca U seems to have what I need.  The really good news?  The fact that I checked out what programs are accepted to continue from, and the Hotel & Restaurant Mgmt Diploma that I have is acknowledged!!  Thank goodness that in Sept 2010 I retook the one and only course that I had ever failed and got my diploma.  This means that I don't have to do any upgrading and I can go right for my BA in Communications!  I'm still bouncing on this!  Plus my work covers upgrading such as this, so not only can I get my degree on-line, I can do it for virtually free! SQUEEEEEEEE!!!! 

I'm not looking to start this until September, because I need some time to finish a novella first, plus I want to enjoy my summer instead of being holed up inside with text books.  But all that aside, everything here is a step in the write (haha) direction for me to make a career out of writing.  Plus I'm more likely to be able to work from home doing freelance if I have that degree because I'll be able to do web content, possibly copy writing (whatever that may be), and a bunch of other options.  My current job involves processing payments which are mostly cheques and what not, so working from home isn't an option.  I realize that the work from home thing won't be for at least a few years, but it's still a better probability if I take this route.

It's funny, I took the Hotel & Restaurant Mgmt Diploma because when I was 17, it seemed practical and I would be guaranteed to have a job since the hospitality industry is huge.  What I didn't realize then was that they are crappy paying jobs, and I hated the schooling for it.  Then 10yrs later, I went for my Accounting Certificate thinking that since I didn't mind working with numbers and also because I liked to problem solve, that I would end up working towards a CGA designation. 

The problem with both those decisions?  Too logical and practical.  Yes, they helped me get good jobs and such, but there has been no love for it.  I'll say truthfully that I don't hate my job.  I love the people I work with, the job is easy, and it gives me plenty of time to think about other things such as school or writing.  But again there is no love for it.

Me wanting to write on the other hand makes me happy in my heart.  This doesn't mean that it'll ever be easy.  I fight with myself to get my butt in the chair, I may stare at blank pages waiting for inspiration to hit.. or even just a bolt of lightning to get my system shocked and moving, but once I get those words on the page, it's magic.  Even if what I've written is complete crap as it is sometimes bound to be, I feel pride in the fact that I've created something.  I can share a bit of myself, my feelings, and the crazy worlds that I have living inside my head, and the best feeling in the world is to share my words.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Lure of the Other Worlds

Why is it whenever you say you want to start truly doing something, you may end up doing it once or twice, but then find all the excuses in the world not to continue on with it.  This of course applies to many things: weight loss/lifestyle change, exercising, cleaning house (for me at least), and of course writing.

Didn't I say that I'd start it up again, keep up on my blog 1-2 times a week if possible?  A couple weeks later and I'm back, which is better than before, but why can't I even keep up with it once a week?  I'm honestly on my computer pretty much every night.  Ah, the comfort of my laptop, sitting all nice and cosy on the couch under that and a blanket, sipping on tea, and getting lost in... games.  That's right, not writing or keeping up with emails or anything else; instead I game.

Facecrack games: since I've gotten back to work, I've cut myself down to 1 1/2 of those damn game apps.  Though I still will respond to requests on a couple of others, I don't actually play the others any more.  They take up too much time.

Big Fish Games: Ahhh... the hidden object and puzzle games.  If I'm sick of others, I check out my mom's big fish account as she's sure to have a few of these that I haven't played yet.  And unfortunately, unlike the other games I play, there is no real-life clock showing, so I can lose hours of time to these... literally.

World of Warcraft: affectionately termed WoW, and I used to be a bit addicted.  Used to have more friends on it, plus it's something that both hubby and I liked to do.  I've given it 6yrs of my time.  It's been a long strange trip, but it's been a good one.

Rift:  This is the new player on the block.  It's only been around for about 4-5 months now.  They just started offering free 7-day trials.  And I've been sucked in a bit.  If I could afford it, I'd be buying this one. It's shiny, it's new, and it has some neat world concepts about it.  Plus the class systems and how customizable the interface is??  <drool>  Thank Goddess that I can't afford it either through time or money right now, because guess what would be taking up my time in the evenings past the 7-day trial?

And see?  Even when I'm writing I can't get away from games.  Games and books have always been my way to escape, even when I was a little kid.  I grew up playing Intelevision and Super Nintendo, plus we always had a computer with games, starting with a Tandy 1000 and a 286 (yes, dating myself).  Plus, when I started truly reading, I would devour whole series.  With these two things, I go into a whole other world.

I do go into this world while writing as well as reading though.  I call it book world, because anything that you are writing or reading about is completely real.  It's neat that when you ask the voices/characters in your head a question that they will actually answer it; and the answers do surprise you sometimes.

The good thing is that aside from all this, I have actually been writing in fits and spurts.  I entered a joke into the Reader's Digest website and maybe it will get picked.  I've started drafting up bits and pieces to query for an article on some of my cancer experiences to Reader's Digest too (thanks Suzanne!).  On top of that, I have been using what I learned in the very awesome CaRWA spring workshop with Mary Buckham to do some basic character plotting and try to plot out some of the major turning points, etc. of the paranormal YA that I have an idea for (hooray for demon children, literally!)  I've normally been a complete pantser before so this is new, but it feels right for this book.  So, I guess even though I have been gaming (as well as gardening, and doing other springtime activities that take up time) I still have been writing.  It's a step in the right direction.

Now I just have to get caught up with the rest of my writing responsibilities...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Demotivational and Blog Fails

It has been months since my last post.  I won't say it's because I didn't have the time, I had time in spades.  The motivation to write a post on the other hand?  Epic Fail on all accounts of work and writing.

I have become seriously demotivated.  This does not mean that I'm unhappy.  I'm actually quite happy with the way all the cancer treatments worked out.  The low iodine diet was a PITA (Pain in the.. you know), and being radioactive for 5 days was more boring than anything, but other than that, pretty smooth sailing and everything easy to deal with.

I think my problem is that my life came to a stop on October 19, 2010, the day I found out I had cancer, and even though I'm technically back up and running again, I still feel like I'm stuck on hold.

I need a serious mental kick in the butt to get going again, but I don' know how I'm going to give that to myself.  I want to lose the 10lbs I gained while I was hypothyroid for 3 weeks prior to the radioiodine treatment, and I've even joined weight watchers to try, but all I can say is that for the most part I'm not motivated to even change or track my eating habits (though at least I can maintain the same weight easily).  Even the thought of going on a very belated 10th anniversary OMGGOTTAGETAWAY trip to someplace warm with the hubby isn't enough to motivate me.

Then there's my writing and anything to do with it.  It's actually a big step for me to even be getting off of my proverbial butt, and it was actually reading a friend of mine's (Suzanne Stengl) blog that got me over here.  Even thinking of working on my manuscript isn't a fun thought for me, and I don't even know why.  I'm soooo close to the first turning point and it's getting edgier and more exciting, and I just... stop.  It's on hold.  Just like my blog was on hold. 

I've actually put real thought into doing some freelance work, just to try and get my writing brain working again.  We even had a super presentation on it at my last CaRWA meeting, but then I get stumped on what to actually write about.  I think to myself, "I have a useless hospitality management diploma, I have a semi-useless accounting certificate, and I have no real communications or writing courses, but I know how to write.  What the heck am I going to propose to someone that I write about?"  So until I am hit with a huge lightning bolt of inspiration from the Goddess, though I would take even a static shock right now, I feel like I'm on hold... again.

Again, I'm not depressed or unhappy with this whole situation, just sometimes a bit frustrated that I don't know which way I'm going to go next (that whole "in control of my life thing").  Once I get a bit more energy (another ongoing medical frustration until I get the right dosage of synthroid), I swear I'm going hunting for that game controller and hitting START (or maybe L R start select) so I can get on with this game called life!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hospital Fun (with a capital F U)

Well, I got out of the hospital on Tuesday last week.  I survived the internet withdrawal only because I didn't have enough brains left to even bother searching down a login to get into the hospital's patient Wi-Fi.  Honestly for hospital stays this one was pretty good.  Other than being scared and crying as they were putting me on the operating table, and one nurse who, while not incompetent, didn't have the time of day for me except when she wanted to boss me around, it was a comfortable stay at least.

The crying was expected.  I knew it would happen.  One of the helpers in the operating room even gave me a squeeze and said that I was in good hands.  I told them that I knew that, but honestly the faster I was under, the faster I would stop crying.  The next thing I know I'm waking up... and puking.  I guess as soon as they started bringing me out from under the anesthesia I was puking unconsciously.  Seven times before I remember even doing one.  Gah.  My body doesn't like the drugs.  Then off I go, wheeled to my private hospital room.  $40.00 for a private room so I can rest when I need to, room service 3x daily, and all the drugs I need?  Sign me up!  The drawbacks, the blood test pokes done 2-4 times daily.. in the back of the hand for lack of another free space.  Still have bruising from all the pokes...

All the nurses I had were great.  They were using their skills in pillow organizing to help me get comfortable, they listened to me and my concerns, gave me different options for pain management, and the nursing assistants were there to help me get up and walk because movement does speed the healing process a bit.  I say all this but for one exception as previously mentioned.  The exception, the Un-Nurse, didn't seem to have the time of day for me, and when presented with her when all the other nurses were wonderful, the differences were glaringly obvious. 

For example, I would ring if my pain started to come back, sometimes I would make it to the allotted 4 hour interval, sometimes not.  Even if it wasn't yet time to give me some medication, a nurse would come and let me know when I was due next and would see if they could do something else to make me comfortable.  Not the Un-Nurse.  One time I knew that I was due for medication within the next 15min, and I knew it for a fact because I'd had another puking spell, taken some meds and gone back to bed by 5:30am.  So I rang asking for my next dose at 9:15an.  30min go by of me fading in and out of consciousness and trying to ignore the pressure that's coming back into my neck.  I ring again and they say again that they will send my nurse over.  10:00am comes around, the pressure is still building, and she finally bustles in the door and says, "I can't give you your medication until it's due."  I think I told her that it was due over half-an-hour ago, but it may have been inside voice because this is a very tired, zombified Shanna during the hospital stay.

On the Saturday morning after my surgery, she was my nurse and suddenly she's in my room and saying, "Okay, time to take that catheter out!  I want to see you up and walking!"  Now at this point I had gotten up a total of 2 times to take a short walk; the first to the door of my room and back, the next to get out of my room and walk two doors down and back.  That's it.  Plus, I was feeling dizzy and faint a lot of the time before I had my surgery; now it was doubled. 

I started arguing with her, telling her that I'd only gotten up and walked twice, and I was dizzy.  She starts saying that it has to come out because I need to get up and walk around, that if it stays in I could get a bladder infection, and that if they needed to help me to the bathroom every hour that they would do so.  I start thinking about how it takes her at least 20min to answer any call and I'm panicking.  I tearfully argue more with her, saying that I was just going to go for another walk (which I was) and then the Nurse Assistant (NA) was going to give me a sponge bath, so could we wait till later.  She just looks at me with disdain, and says, "Fine, but it's coming out before the end of my shift."  Exit stage right.

Gah.  So I did do what I said, and as soon as I was done I closed my door and napped for 2-3 hours, because I was exhausted.  I didn't see hide nor hair of her.  Even when I called for more pain meds she sent another nurse, saying she was busy.  Perfectly fine by me.  She finally came in at 2:45pm to take the catheter out, just before the end of the shift.  This time I was actually ready for her to do so.  All I had needed was some time and some real rest, and for her not to be there so I could count on someone answering my call if I needed help getting to the bathroom.

My last straw on dealing with her though was when on Monday morning she put a note on my file for discharge.  The discharge decision is supposed to be between the surgeon/doctor and the patient, and is no business of the nurse.  Now, on Monday I was honestly in no shape to go home.  I'd had a few bad nights dealing with some drug reactions on my part that mostly caused lots of nausea and some puking.  T3's were one... guess I don't handle the codeine very well, or at least not 2 tablets worth.  I needed some really good sleep, and I also needed to get up and go for a few more walks around the unit.  I didn't find out about the note she put on my file until the next shift came in and asked if I was being discharged today.  Grrrrrr...

I ended up asking if could request not having a particular nurse.  They said I could, so I did and told them a couple of the reasons why.  They brought it towards the head nurse and let me know the request was in.  Unfortunately, I think it was too late to request for the next day, because there was the Un-Nurse, bright and early Tuesday morning.  Now this morning I knew I was getting discharged.  We had figured out my nausea thing, I had finally gotten a decent sleep at night, both neck drains were gone, and I was actually feeling ready to go home.  I go through the morning with the Un-Nurse paying a bit more attention to me since she had to remove IVs and go through papers and such.  When my hubby shows up, she disappears again.  He put all the flowers in a cooler and grabbed my backpack and such, then went to get the car, both of us expecting someone to wheel me down.  I even had let the Un-Nurse know that I was leaving in 5min and that I was just saying good-bye to someone in the unit.

So, there I am, sitting in my room again, waiting for the Un-Nurse to come and give me the meds she said she was sending me home with.  Finally I use the call button.  Waiting... both her and the NA show up, she gives me the meds and asks if I'm going home.  I said yes, my husband is waiting with the car downstairs.  (I'm saying this as I'm sitting in the wheelchair).  I even go to turn the wheels myself and she gives me heck because I'm not allowed any strenuous activity for 2weeks after the surgery.  But then the Un-Nurse walks away.  I turn to the NA and say I need a ride downstairs, so she takes off after the Un-Nurse to see if she can push me down to the lobby.  Waiting.... 10min pass and nothing.  So I finally get out of the wheelchair and push it over to the front desk, then sit down again just as the head nurse is getting off the phone.  Turns out it's my husband who is wondering where the heck I am.  I told her I've been waiting for someone to give me a ride out of here but no one has come.  She calls my NA and I finally get to escape.  Geeze...

But even with all this I have to say a big thank you to the rest of the nurses in Unit 29 at the Peter Lougheed.  You were all wonderful.  Thank you for your kindness, your support, your warmth and compassion.  Even though I have shared the bad, you truly did make my stay a good one.  As soon as I'm better I'll be gracing you all with a big bucket of joy filled with chocolate chip cookies.