Author Archives: Christine

Beta Readers Weigh In

Beta Readers Weigh In

My beta readers have been weighing in on the latest manuscript Schicksal Turnpike and it has given me some food for thought. In addition, I’m sorting through some of the scientific lingo I will need to turn my new book project Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World into a sequel worthy of interest.

Beta Readers Weigh In

I received a message the other day from one of the beta readers…

Ok I’m having a hard time with your book. I hate dean, he’s a whiny asshole who should have died instead of his family. So I’ve tried skipping ahead a few chapters but he’s still there.

I was amused. And just a little concerned. Had I written him too whiny? Or put too much asshole into the first chapter that centered around him?

And considering that Dean is the main protagonist I wasn’t sure how to respond to her other than to say, “Get used to him because he isn’t going anywhere.”

She promised to start at the beginning and read the whole thing through. And by midnight I received a new message, which I have redacted to avoid spoilers:

Made me hate him then you made me love him damn you!

And those words right there were absolutely what I needed to hear. I want that kind of visceral reaction. It means I’ve done my job right. Another beta reader said something similar, commenting on Dean as being “well written” and how he “enjoyed his life changing turn around.” Which is also the response I hoped to provoke.

Where Do We Go From Here?

With Schicksal Turnpike, even before finishing the manuscript, I have been concerned. There isn’t just the main story, that of Dean’s evolution, but a second story, filled with magic and a race of people who are not of this world. Most of it is barely explained and I have swung back and forth on this – Shicksal Turnpike was created in my mind as a bridge between a story from our world and as a set up for the series The Chronicles of Liv Rowan which takes place mainly in the other world only barely described in Schicksal Turnpike.

In essence, it is a prequel. A story before the real story. One that you toss out in the middle of a successful series, not before.

At first, it was really hard to imagine waiting to publish this book. Especially after having spent so much time on it. More than a year of writing, editing, adding, correcting. Surely I could publish it and then move on to Chronicles immediately.

But as I sat down and began to sort through my notes for The Chronicles of Liv Rowan I could just feel my mind slip sideways. Not to mention that my readers of Gliese 581: The Departure have responded with, “What do you mean I have to wait YEARS for the sequel?!”

So as the beta readers picked their way through Schicksal and I resigned myself to learning far more scientific principles than the teenage me would EVER have been willing to do, my resolve on what to do with Schicksal wavered and changed.

I’m going to shop it out to literary agents and sit on it for a while. I look at it like this:

  • It is a prequel, therefore it probably needs to wait until at least a couple of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan books come out (I have twelve stories planned).
  • It could be doing the work of finding a literary agent I could work with while I’m busy writing Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World AND Chronicles of Liv Rowan: The Glass Forest

I’m painfully aware that marketing my books is required if I am to be a self-published author. It is also something I’m not particularly good at. That is, after all, one of the main reasons authors retain a literary agent. So I’ve finally got a book that I’m not going to lose my mind over not getting to publish right away because it can’t be published right away. Not until the other books are out.

Goals for Now

So I’ve got my assignments for the next six months to a year. I need to:

  • Learn the science and get the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure finished
  • Finish writing the first book of The Chronicles of Liv Rowan when I can’t handle dealing with Gliese (and vice versa).

Taking Notes from Another Science Wunderkind

As I struggled to learn some of the scientific principles behind planetary orbits, atmosphere, and more yesterday I was also juggling kiddo activities. And while we are not homeschooling this year, I have maintained my membership with L.E.A.R.N. and was looking forward to hanging out with some homeschool mamas while Em played with her friends at Double Digits Game Night.

I sat down at the mama table and pulled out my Gliese binder which has a picture of the planet on the front cover. I figured I could work on my planet maps and maybe get some help naming the continents and other features of the world.

However, the sight of a planet immediately caught the interest of one mama (I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know her name) and her eleven-year-old son Nate. And young Nate was soon firing questions at me.

Nate: So, Mars doesn’t have an atmosphere.

Me: Right, but the colony lives in Habs and they have atmosphere generators pumping CO2 to create a greenhouse effect.

Nate: But that won’t be enough to create an atmosphere.

Me: Well not yet, no. But in 300 to 500 years, it could.

Nate: [shakes his head] No, to do that it would need more heavy elements. CO2 wouldn’t be enough.

Me: Like what kind of elements?

Nate: Well Mercury is nice and heavy.

Me: But isn’t that toxic?

Nate: It sure is.

His mother later told me that he reads the periodic table of elements before going to bed at night.

We must have talked for an hour or more. The kid was beyond fascinating and I smile now because I cannot wait to see the adult that will form from this curious and thoughtful young mind. We discussed trajectories for asteroids, the effects of gravity on Mars colonists (1/3 earth gravity) and also the Gliese colonists (1.2 earth gravities).

He explained solar winds and how sun flares affect the gravitational fields of planets. He poked a few holes in my assumptions (easy to do since I know little or no science), gave me a few ideas to consider, and even drew a sketch of how one particular scenario/plot twist might work.

I have a ton of notes – things I need to research now and double check. His mom was listening in the entire time and, as a writer and a lover of all things learning-related, it was fascinating to see her interaction with him. The questions, hypotheses, and answers were flying thick and fast among the three of us.

As the evening wound to an end, he came back to the table and asked me, “So what kind of books should I bring next month?”

I told him to bring anything he had on orbits, the periodic table, and if he could figure out the speed of an asteroid after collision that would be amazing too.

And I am really looking forward to seeing him the next Tween Game Night in four weeks or so. Fascinating kid, he helped me immeasurably and gave me quite a bit to think about.

Dreams Deferred?

Dreams Deferred?

In amongst cleanings, my dad’s 71st birthday, and other busyness, here is the latest and greatest…

Notes and More Notes

Slowly, the plot, along with many details, are unpacking and taking up residence in my brain for Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World. It will take time, I’ve only managed to write 1,785 words so far in the manuscript.

I’m busy listening to science podcasts as I clean houses. I take notes along the way. Yesterday’s notes included:

  • Cassini’s descent doesn’t include images (a short story in the making)
  • Supply freighter to Mars or one of its moons (for additional supplies necessary to continue life there)
  • Radiation exposure in space and in the Habs (something I need to address in my story)
  • Need to exercise more (due to lower gravity, cardiovascular difficulties can increase if there isn’t more exercise) – *brainstorm – colonists watch movies and tv and “power” it (i.e. keep it going) with peddle power

After my day’s cleaning, I take the notes home and add them to my research file.

It will be a while, but I’ve at least begun on the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read it and want to, drop me an email, I’ll be happy to send you a free electronic copy in exchange for an honest review or you can always pick it up in the Kindle Store or purchase a paperback on Amazon.

Waiting to Hear

I’m waiting to hear from my beta readers on what they think of Schicksal Turnpike. Because it is a prequel, I’m wondering if NOW is the time to publish it. After all, prequels are often written long after a series has begun and serve to fill out a story, or its missing info and back story, after the fact.

One of my main questions to my beta readers is, “Does this make sense enough to stand on its own?”

If the consensus is that it does, then off to an editor it goes for further editing and then I’ll publish it on Amazon. If it does not, then I’ll shelve it until I’ve written a couple of books in The Chronicles of Liv Rowan.

Dreams Deferred?

My writing is intrinsically entwined with my projects and my life, so I can place this next bit of news here without a great deal of debate about whether it belongs in one of my other blogs or not.

For now, in the light of recent budget hits (refrigerators gone bad, real estate investments, and more), my original budget of $200 per month for a trip to Europe, and the plan to go on my 50th birthday in May 2020, has been deferred.

It is far more important to me that I set into place the basic foundation of our future. If my dad’s presence in our lives has taught me anything, it is to plan for your financial future and take care of your body, neither of which he has been very successful at.

I’m tackling both objectives head-on – I’m eating a diabetic diet and losing weight, and I’m investing in real estate with the goal of renting it out through Airbnb or straight long-term rentals.

Those two goals take precedence over a trip to Europe, even if I have been dreaming of going for most of my life. I know too that it might be incredibly difficult to go if Dad is still with us then. So for now, I’m putting it off, while still setting aside a fraction of my original planned amount. It will slowly grow in a savings account and be waiting for me to access when the time is right.

In Moments Like These

In Moments Like These

The Good

The good news first, shall we?

I spent a huge part of yesterday in the planning stages for Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World.

I waded through my list of characters first. In each book I write, I maintain a list of characters as well as a timeline. The list of characters is a table which lists:

  • First Name, Last Name and Maiden Name (if applicable)
  • Hair and Eyes
  • Born and Died
  • Location (I only use this when I’m dealing with multiple locations – like Gliese, Earth and Mars)
  • Notes – this might include information on their lineage, what they do, and their strengths

If I need to, I will add a character page into Scrivener as a sub-page of the character table. So far, I have added just one. A new character, Syn Travani, who is on Earth.

So yesterday was spent figuring out WHO was still alive (that plague was a doozy, after all) and where they were at. I listed the characters out and delineated whether they were on Earth, Mars or Gliese. I also added a handful of characters that I know I’ll need.

I also spent time re-acquainting myself with the story. This may sound silly to you, but I have forgotten a lot of what I have written. Which is always a nice surprise – I opened up the book, saw all of those neat words arranged on a page and got a satisfying, “I wrote that!” thrill. I’ll let you know when that grows old because so far, it feels GREAT every time I crack open one of my books.

I came up with some, but not all, of the major (and minor) plot points I want to weave into the book.

And finally, sore from sitting and typing and writing, I tottered off to fold laundry, read to Em, and then read a small bit for myself before I was off to bed.

Note to self: I really should re-read the entire Gliese book and take notes on avenues to explore in the new book.

The Not So Good

I woke up at 4 a.m. thinking about STUFF. In particular, I thought of my maternal line, one I swore I would do differently than generations before.

I will explain.

Growing up, my mother and my maternal grandmother were endlessly at odds. Mum (my name for my grandmother) would say something to Mom – it was usually judgmental, meddlesome, or downright manipulative. She would do the same to me and I hated it. I watched my mother wrestle with two opposing imperatives – be respectful to her mother and yet protect/defend herself.

As a result, Mum and Mom didn’t spend much time together. And when they did, it was strained and full of thick, tense air, words and deeds.

Mum has been gone for 16 years now. I wonder if her relationship with her mother was much the same. I know that my great-grandmother did not ever live with Mum. Instead, she lived with her eldest daughter, Beulah, until she died. I haven’t heard much, after all, it is poor form to speak ill of the dead, but I get the feeling she was a difficult person to get along with.

Growing up, and seeing this relationship (or lack thereof) between my mother and my grandmother – I knew I wanted different. I remember thinking, with the simple idealized hope of youth, that I could make things different. I would not have the same relationship with my mother. My daughters and I would not have the same relationships either. I would do better, I would be a good mom, maybe even a fun mom, and when my kids grew up, I would back off and not continue to try and parent (i.e. nag and judge) them forever after. I would honor their transition to adulthood and return to the sidelines and enjoy a new relationship with them based on respect and equality. I would not end up like my mom and grandmother.

Or so I told myself.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night, pregnant with my firstborn, in hysterical tears of fear, scared I wouldn’t be a good mom. My husband would laugh then, tell me I would do fine. Later, years later, even before I left him, he diligently remembered my fears and reminded me of them at every turn. “You’re an awful mother.” I believed it for years.

In the ten, now eleven years since my eldest turned eighteen, I have walked the razor’s edge. Do I tell her when she is with some guy I think has serious mommy issues or is dysfunctional? Do I say anything when she drops out of school yet again? Do I offer advice or stay silent?

I have chosen again and again to stay silent. Partly because I believed it would harm not help to give my opinion or unasked for advice. And also because, in the end, it is her life, not mine, to live. Perhaps it is best to kiss some real toads rather than have a parent giving you unasked for advice while seeing only half of the picture.

Even as I stayed true to my beliefs, as I kept my silence, my mother would make an appearance. She would tell me (without any prompting from me, thank you very much) how to live, what to wear, and send another wave of judgment my way. Just experiencing it kept me steady on my course. I would be different. I would be better.

And then I received a letter in early February from my child, doing the SAME THING that my mother had done to me all of my life, something that my mother’s mother had done to her, and god knows how far back. The letter labeled me, dispensed unasked for advice, and was generally dismissive of who I am and what I have done. And I was absolutely floored by it. She had lived with me for 18 months. We had been at peace through much of it, but the letter basically gave me two options: agree with her on her points and I don’t know, apologize for being so busy dealing with my unwanted father (the grandfather she hated) when he was at death’s door that I hadn’t come to visit her, or accept that I had somehow screwed up royally. And honestly? I couldn’t take it anymore. Not another human being, one that I had actually raised, sacrificed and provided for long after she was grown, telling me I was insufficient, that I was lacking, that I was LESS than the ideal mother she wanted.

Just like I couldn’t take my mother’s new and weird assertions that her granddaughters (especially the sweet little ten-year-old) didn’t want to spend time with her. Something I tried pointing out she would make a reality if she continued to voice it. There is nothing like being labeled, it makes the person want to be exactly what they are being called, after all, what point is there in being anything else? It isn’t as if you have disproved anything by living your life differently – others will believe what they want despite your best efforts.

I broke ties with both of them.

But it isn’t as simple as that. It never is. Do you excise the love along with the hurt? Do you make your heart a patchwork of No Trespassing signs and roads that you can no longer drive upon?

So here I was at 4 a.m., obsessing over mistakes I made when rearing my firstborn, fearing what seems like the inevitable curse of my maternal line, and I realized…

My fears – that fate has a far stronger hand in our future than I would care to admit – are what I write about and what I live.

Every day.

I don’t want to continue the pattern. I’ve tried like hell to break free of it. I’ve consciously worked at being different for the entirety of my adult life, and despite my efforts, I find myself in the same position. I can’t help wondering what Em thinks of it all. What her internal dialogue is saying as she watches my relationship with her sister and grandmother teeter and falter. Does she promise herself the same thing?

“It will be different. I’ll make it different.”

Does she promise herself that when she sees me mourning the relationships I wished I had?

It also makes me realize that the Kapalaran Universe (kapalaran is Filipino for “fate”) is an extension of these questions. That, not unlike the Philosophy 101 test question I agonized over some 20 years ago is still bouncing around in my head.

Do we have free will? Or is some pre-destination involved?

I have always thought that I could change the paradigm. I believed it with the fervor of the newly baptized. I wanted it to be different, agonized for a new reality free of judgment, hurt feelings, and resentment.

Fate, if it exists, and exist it must because damned if I haven’t tried my best to shake it, is a many-tentacled bitch of a beast.

While I Wait – My New Project Is…

While I Wait – My New Project Is…

Instead of biting my nails and worrying over what my beta readers will say/think – I’m on to the next project.

I really wanted to start on The Chronicles of Liv Rowan, but after a couple of hours spent paging through the stack of notes, and weighing that between the cliffhanger I left with Gliese 581: The Departure last year, I decided on writing the rest of the story with Gliese.

I know my sci-fi readers will be happy to hear that.

I’ve just spent the last couple of hours moving over my list of characters.

Because my book series are all inter-linked, and I like to stick with several family lineages, I keep all of the characters in an Access database. It might sound like overkill, but when you have over 345 characters (and counting) to keep track of, it makes a lot of sense.

So I’ve moseyed through the lists, updating info in Access, and copying it over to the Scrivener file for the new manuscript. It’s easier to have it all at my fingertips. Next up will be a basic timeline, which I’ll add to as I go. Again, with multiple series and characters, it is important to keep track of dates. I can’t have a character die before they were born now, can I?

Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World is not officially underway, I’m still in the planning stages, but there is movement forward.

And movement forward is good news, right?!

Off to My Army of Beta Readers It Goes

Off to My Army of Beta Readers It Goes

Big sigh of relief and comedic happy dance in progress – but as of Saturday afternoon, I completed the 2nd rough draft read through and edit of Schicksal Turnpike.

Life really got in the way of getting these edits done. I’ve been talking about the 2nd edit for about two months now, maybe three.

Between family issues, the purchase of another decrepit house, some rather intense pain in my back, hips, knees, and feet and also an Airstream in dire need of fixing, things have been rather crazy around here.

I just kept reading a chapter or two at a time to my husband, and eventually worked through all 37 chapters. It is now at just over 90,000 words.

I have emailed copies and also printed copies – my printer labored on for a couple of hours as it spit out page after page – 377 in all!

And now I wait. For my beta readers to read and respond. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the Chronicles of Liv Rowan and digging into my book outlines. This project is huge – scary big and complex and I’m wondering if I’m ready to tackle it.

I may examine the possibility of writing the sequel to Gliese 581 first. I’m not sure. I’m a little nervous about tackling Chronicles – I have twelve separate stories outlined – and it is beyond intimidating. We will see. In the weeks to come, while waiting for my beta readers, I have time to figure it all out.

I hope to have Schicksal Turnpike back and then on to a content and line editor in the next month or so. I figure I’ll turn around twice and it will be Christmas – so here is hoping I can get it out on Amazon by November at the latest.


Introspection Leads to Discovery

Introspection Leads to Discovery

I’ve mentioned here and in other places that I’ve been under no small amount of stress recently. Things have slowly been resolving themselves – to some extent.

Life is always challenging, isn’t it?

When I first returned in January with my dad, I was reeling. And the changes over the next few months, along with the realization that my eldest and I suddenly, after 18 months of peaceful living and years of peacemaking, appeared to be back at square one (or worse), was devastating.

She wrote a post, which you can read here. To say that our accounts differ, does not even begin to describe it. At one point, I sat down and went over each point or claim that she made and wrote down a response. On the advice of friends and family, I did not send it. My eldest has her version of history and I have mine. Nothing will be gained by arguing or pointing out obvious fallacies. It won’t repair the relationship and it won’t mend the bridges we had already built together.

But along the way, I did something that I always try to do. Before dismissing something outright, I take the time to step back and evaluate and question.

How did they arrive at this conclusion?

Is there any merit in the claims?

Can I do something different now? Alter my behavior, learn from this experience?

It isn’t always easy. When we sense we are being attacked, our first instinct is typical – fight back, or run the other direction.

But one claim, that of declaring I was mentally ill, was especially egregious. It was a ploy her dad used when fighting me in court (sorry Walt, the judge didn’t buy your b.s. and you really did look like an idiot, by the way). It was an armchair diagnosis doled out by a woman who was my father’s girlfriend, a physician’s assistant, and who had been fired for stealing prescription medicine from the clinic she worked at soon after.

She had called me a sociopath and it had haunted me for nearly two decades. Until I was talking with a therapist about twelve years ago and told him about it. The guy, straight-laced and rather boring, started to laugh. He told me that, just the fact that I was bothered by the idea of being a sociopath meant that I wasn’t one.

“A sociopath doesn’t care what people think. Not one bit.”

Okay. So, NOT a sociopath.

So back to the post my daughter wrote. In it, she decided I was suffering from either bi-polar disorder or manic-depressive disorder, which is, by the way, the SAME disorder. Bipolar is also known as manic-depressive. Later she added in NPD, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Now that made me think.

After all, isn’t writing non-fiction, i.e. blogging, especially about life in general (how your life is going, what you made for breakfast, how you built a fence), isn’t that the epitomy of narcissism? And if so, my god, I HAD to be a narcissist. I have one, two, three, now FOUR blogs! And I post all the time on my interactions with my dad on Facebook.

So does that make me a narcissist? I’m talking about MY life, MY plans, and MY accomplishments.

I looked up both bipolar and NPD and read down the list of symptoms.

The hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on grandiose fantasies (e.g. their own success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment.

  • Exaggerates own importance
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance
  • Believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions
  • Requires constant attention and admiration from others
  • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
  • Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals
  • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
  • Is often envious of others or believes other people are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes

I walked down the list and did my best to evaluate myself, which isn’t easy, let me tell you.

  • Exaggerates own importance – NOPE. That would include taking the credit for other people’s work, which I do not do. If Dave works his butt off, I point it out right alongside my own. I am not a special little snowflake. When I was teaching classes I would remind folks that they could do just what I did, it isn’t special, it isn’t hard.
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance – While I might be rather obsessed with laying the groundwork for our retirement right now so that we never have to depend on our children for help, that’s about it. Success is measured by the individual, I don’t need power (nope, not running for office anytime soon), I am NOT beautiful, I’m smart, but I’m not that smart (I know some smart ones), and romance? I’ll settle for someone who loves me and accepts me, round butt, graying hair and grumpy attitude.
  • Believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions – The opposite belief, that of NOT being special, is what turned me away from writing for years. Hadn’t everything worth saying already been said? I decided that, whether or not it was original, I would share it. I’m glad I took that chance.
  • Requires constant attention and admiration from others – Praise continues to make me uncomfortable. I have no small amount of self-hatred, bred by decades of family and ex-husbands reminding me of how lowly and shitty I was to find attention and admiration anything more than disconcerting at best.
  • Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment – Nope. And anyone who has been around me knows that. Sure, I’d love favorable treatment, but do I expect it? No.
  • Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals – Um. NO. There is only one instance I can think of, that of borrowing a truck from a neighbor. I felt bad that, when the tire needed to be fixed, we didn’t get to it in time. And I feel we borrowed it too long and possibly damaged our relationship with them, something I didn’t want to have happen. In the case of our contractor who up and left a job undone, I did the opposite. I fed her, DAILY. I didn’t do this to engender a sense of her owing me, I did it because I liked and valued her work and her friendship.
  • Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy – I do not lack empathy, but I often don’t notice when others are off. At least, not right away. It is something that, in retrospect, bothers me. It is important to share “air time” with others. Sometimes I get so busy telling stories and entertaining others, that I forget they have their own stories and that they too need to share them.
  • Is often envious of others, or believes other people are envious of me – No. NO to the triple no. I’ve worked hard for what I have and I’m proud of it. To be envious of someone who makes more money or has a bigger house is a waste of time. Better to put my nose to the grindstone and get what works for me, for what makes me happy. And if others are envious, they shouldn’t be. Walk a mile in my shoes, live the life I have led, and you wouldn’t be, not for a second.
  • Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes – I have been fighting this behavior my entire life. Honestly, when I show arrogance and realize it, I feel ashamed. There are people in the world who have a hot mess of a life, who struggle every day. To behave as if they are less, or that I am better, is wrong. I see it in my dad and my mom and I’m determined to root it out. That’s not okay.

So that was all very long-winded. And at the end of it, I was still not quite comfortable. I felt I had eliminated both bipolar (you would have to have depression along with the manic and I just don’t have that) and NPD, but what the hell was it, because she had a point, something was wrong. Or something had been wrong, and I had evidenced behaviors that were not okay. Not with me, and not with my loved ones.

As I looked back over the years I thought about how, about twelve years ago, had begun tracking my periods. Eventually, I narrowed it down and realized that on Day 21 and Day 22 of my cycle things came to a head. And not in a small way.

I swear I googled “pms on steroids” and when I found PMDD, and read the symptoms, I felt like I had hit a not so fun jackpot.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

The symptoms of PMDD usually show up the week before you start your period and last until a few days after it begins. Most of the time they are severe and debilitating, and they can keep you from daily activities.

Symptoms of PMDD include:

  • Mood swings – YES
  • Depression or feelings of hopelessness – Sometimes
  • Intense anger and conflict with other people – YES
  • Tension, anxiety, and irritability – YES
  • Decreased interest in usual activities – My husband and younger daughter said YES emphatically to this
  • Difficulty concentrating – YES
  • Fatigue – Possibly?
  • Change in appetite – YES
  • Feeling out of control – YES
  • Sleep problems – Sometimes?
  • Cramps and bloating – NO
  • Breast tenderness – YES
  • Headaches – YES
  • Joint or muscle pain – Not that I remember
  • Hot flashes – Not then!

WebMD goes on to say:

Your doctor can diagnose you with PMDD if:

  • You have at least five of the symptoms listed above.
  • They start 7 to 10 days before you get your period.
  • They go away shortly after you start bleeding.

Well, hell, that’s a huge big YES.

Here is the irony, folks. I am now in menopause. The end of my reproductive cycle, and the beginning of menopause began last year. Now that it has been over a year since I’ve had a menstrual cycle, I’m officially considered to be post-menopausal. So none of the symptoms, except for the hot flashes, remain.

I wish I would have known about PMDD twenty years ago. How much could my life have been different if I had only known? There are treatments, medication that mitigates the effects of PMDD.

So consider this a public service announcement. When I told my youngest about it she jumped up and ran over to read over the symptoms with me saying, “I need to know these in case I get it when I get my period!”

Introspection leads to self-discovery, albeit after the fact. Thanks to low serotonin levels, never diagnosed, I was not the mother, wife, or person I wanted to be. Looking back, I realize there is nothing I can do about it now, after the fact. And honestly, we will never know “for sure” since this is an armchair diagnosis, but DAMN. I grieve for what could have been, if I had only known.

The Plan as it Stands

The Plan as it Stands

“How are those edits coming, Christine?”

I, well, I…that is.


I had hoped to tackle three chapters a day. With 37 chapters in Schicksal Turnpike, I figured I would be done in two weeks. Lo and behold, it’s been two weeks and change and I’ve completed eight.

But you know what? That’s okay.

Even more so, as I finished reading the 8th chapter out loud last night to my husband, I made a decision.

Actually, technically, I made the decision today.

Just now.

Here it is…

I’ve gone back and forth on this many times. And this may only be the latest episode in a long line of back and forths, but nevertheless, here is my current stand on getting published versus not getting published.

I am fine with self-publishing and here is why:

  • I don’t need the money – In case any of you are laboring under the persistent illusion that writing pays (which it does, for a very small percentage of writers that don’t include me at present), let me clear this up. I spend money to self-publish. Not a lot, but up to a few hundred dollars. And while I have indulged my writing adventures, I have cleaned houses and set into place other income-generating activities. So I don’t NEED the writing to pay. It would be a nice bonus, but that’s it.
  • Rejection hurts – I have had enough rejection in my life from people who I thought loved me. Call me a wimp but I really don’t need it from perfect strangers. When I finally screw up the courage to send my manuscript, or an excerpt from it, off to be eyed by a jaded critic, it ends badly. Not for them, but for me. It stops me, dead in my tracks. I lose weeks, months, sometimes I have lost YEARS. As much as I wish I could make myself care less, I end up feeling rejected and butt-hurt. I get that enough from daily life, why go looking for more.
  • I just want to tell a story – And if the agent or publisher doesn’t want to read it – fine. I’m cool with that. In fact, I’m cool with just a handful of folks reading my stuff. Sure, I still have dreams of becoming a bestselling author – signing books and all that. It would be nice. It would be great. But while all writers, especially those who blog or write non-fiction have some level of narcissism, you can’t be a writer and not indulge in some small drip of it when writing memoir, I don’t need fame and fortune. I won’t die unfulfilled or wondering why no one recognized my literary wunderkind worthiness.

I’ve got a plan for how my retirement is going to unfold and it doesn’t include being a bestselling author.

I guess that is really where I’m at.

I plan to keep writing. But for now, what I will do is write a book, edit it myself, open it up to a small army of beta readers, correct it as needed, and then self-publish it for the lowest price possible with Amazon’s KDP Select program.

I’m not going to kill myself trying to discover that magical recipe of intrigue, chutzpah and marketing to a potential literary agent or a publisher. I’m just going to write and publish.


p.s. And yes, I’m STILL editing Schicksal. I’ll report back soon. Want to be a beta reader? Let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

Time to Edit

Time to Edit

A spot of joy in my crazy little world occurred last night when I realized I had written the last words in the last chapter that still “needed something.”

Schicksal Turnpike is now ready for editing!

I will accomplish this in several steps…

  1. A read-aloud edit. This will include my husband, which accomplishes the dual purpose of letting him hear it audiobook style (something he prefers over conventional reading) and the act of editing it on the fly. Saying it out loud really helps get any awkward word combinations out of there.
  2. Beta readers who will also edit. I’ve got three lined up, ready and willing. I’ll ask them to read through it, note anything that is misspelled or awkward sounding, any conflicting information, and also ask them to write a few descriptive sentences. What was it about? What did they like about it? What did they not like?
  3. After I’ve updated the manuscript with any fixes they have found, it will be ready for content and line editing.
  4. Then a cover letter and prep for packaging.

Yep, I’m going shopping for an agent. You hear that, Casie Blevins? I’m going shopping for an agent!

A couple of weeks of reading out loud and edits and it will be off to my army of beta readers.

Prepare yourselves!

And if you are interested in joining my army of beta readers extraordinaire, volunteer by commenting on this post or sending me a message through Facebook. You can find me here: Facebook Author Page

Tick Tock, With Copious Amounts of…

Tick Tock, With Copious Amounts of…

So I’ve been experiencing no small amount of pain recently. I clean houses four days per week – writing doesn’t pay like cleaning houses does, so until it does…

Anyway, it has been building for a while.

Back pain, hip pain, knees and joints and what I have surmised is plantar fasciitis in one foot.

I’m a hot mess.

This, combined with the onset of planting and working outside weather, led to a dearth in writing.

But I hope that is about to change.

I’ve been tackling this in phases:

  • Phase One – Change my diet to a diabetic-friendly one

This has meant learning plenty about how starchy vegetables and high-carb foods affect my blood sugars, altering total serving amounts, and more. It also has included, take a moment to mourn with me here, removing most sources of sweets from my home.

  • Phase Two – Less is More

Reducing the amounts of food I eat, eating slower, and drinking plenty of water. I’m a “go, go, go” person – so I tend to inhale my food quickly and then look for more. Food has always been a form of solace for me, so giving up the two big bowls of homemade ice cream has been a tough one. That said, I’m still working on this phase, still attempting to slow my eating down, and eat less.

  • Phase Three – Body Care

All of this is body care, it really is, but I have made the commitment to seek medical care in the form of Direct Primary Care with Dr. Allison Edwards of Kansas City Direct Primary Care. I met with her yesterday and will see her again next Wednesday. I’m going to get the necessary labs so we can ascertain where I’m at – am I diabetic or still pre-diabetic – is my cholesterol still high?

I’ve also bought several massage packages. Thanks to messing up my knee quite effectively when I was young, my entire body seems misaligned and some days are worse than others. Recently, they have been pretty bad. Muscles are overly tight and sleeping or waking, I’m in a significant amount of discomfort.

  • Phase Four – Sweat (and Hopefully LOSE SOME WEIGHT)

As if I don’t sweat enough cleaning houses or dealing with hot flashes and night sweats, my ass needs to be on a treadmill, moving, for at least 30 minutes a day, preferably 60. I hope to also incorporate some yoga/flexibility poses into all of this. I can’t stand walking on a treadmill with nothing else to do, so thankfully I have a “treadmill desk” that Dave built me years ago. I set the laptop on it and do my best to type away while walking at a steady pace.

At nearly 220 pounds, I need to lose around 40-60 pounds to be at a “healthy” weight. I don’t buy into those ridiculous standards that say a woman of my height needs to be no more than 130 pounds – that’s fucking nuts – but I do need to weight less than 200, by a long shot.

So I’m hoping that the exercise, combined with the exercise I get when cleaning, combined with better food choices, combined with LESS food, all lead to a significant weight loss. So far? Nada. But a girl can dream.

And that leads me back to writing. Because in case anyone is confused at this point, IS the point of this particular blog.

Last post I outlined what still needed to happen:

Chapter 17-Breathe You In – Still need to write this entire chapter

Chapter 18-Painful Memories – I have some significant fixes to make here as well

Chapter 29-What Has Gotten Into You – Needs minor fleshing out

Chapter 34-Welcome to Amsterdam – Is around 2/3 complete

And I have now begun in earnest on Breathe You In. While walking on a fucking treadmill. While hurting and feeling grumpy and overly warm.

Feel for me here.

Which is all a longish, roundabout way of saying, “Due to other pressing issues, I haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked.” Which is, unfortunately, the story of my life.

So Close!

So Close!

After my prime writing time this morning was spent looking up faux stained glass techniques, and other sundry work avoidances, I took a look at my current manuscript.

Schicksal Turnpike currently has 37 chapters – most of them completed and is currently at 83,596 words. I think I’m looking at another 4,000 words at most.

I identified what chapters are an issue right now.

Chapter 17-Breathe You In – Still need to write this entire chapter

Chapter 18-Painful Memories – I have some significant fixes to make here as well

Chapter 29-What Has Gotten Into You – Needs minor fleshing out

Chapter 34-Welcome to Amsterdam – Is around 2/3 complete

After I finish these, I will begin my basic read-through. I read each chapter aloud to my husband, stopping and starting as I catch grammatical errors and more.

Then it is off for the first round to an editor to look at.

So close!

I’m out of time for today. It’s 8 a.m., time for the kiddo to get up, me to fix breakfast for that old guy living in my front parlor, and a dozen errands, housecleaning and homeschooling to get done.