Happy Anniversary to Us!

It’s our anniversary. Fourteen years ago today, fosteronfilm and I were married in a private ceremony beside a waterfall in the Pocono Mountains. Matthew is my best friend, my sweetheart, my helpmeet, my confidant, my joy, and my sanctuary; he’s my everything.

Happy Anniversary to us!

And, amusingly apropos, a link ganked from teflaime: The Kama Sutra as performed by gummi bears.

   


Writing Stuff

7 out of 7 sections on the research/writing freelance gig completed. Counting on my toes, yes, that is indeed the whole thing. Whee! Donedonedonedone.

Before sending it off, I want to do a few passes for editing and style, and make sure I didn’t contradict myself somewhere or make any embarrassing gaffes. But for the most part, it’s ready to go.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: writing nonfiction is tons easier than writing fiction.

And for my next freelance job, I’ve tentatively tossed my hat into the ring for a gig to write up wedding veil descriptions. Ah, the glamorous life of a freelance writer. Snerk. Until I get concrete specs and confirmation, it’s back to work on le fiction. Except my gears seem in need of oil. I’m having a hard time disengaging from analytical scientist mode and activating creative fantasist mode. *shakes muse*

As a serendipitous segue, I’m writing up my answers for two interviews: my Apex Digest featured writer one (psst: Buy a Best of Apex Digest 2005 chapbook, yo!), and also one from a college student who found her way to my ferret and skunk website, and is writing a paper on animal rights and how the Internet has impacted the movement. So, yeah, I need to make sure I send the right interview to the right interviewer or crazy wackiness may ensue.

Received:
- The tentative ToC from dsnight for Heroes in Training. Tentative still, so I can’t post it, but I can engage in some preliminary squeeage. *squee!*
- 111-day personal “pass” from Fantasy Magazine. They “thought the story was well-written, but . . . ” Snartleblast.

DIL update: much relief and happiness

Thank you to everyone who sent their support, thoughts, and well-wishes about fosteronfilm‘s dad. The news is all good. We arrived at the in-laws yesterday morning, checked in with my MIL, and then went to visit my DIL in the hospital.

He looked and sounded fantastic and was eating with appetite. The lung specialist dropped in, followed by the heart specialist, and we got the complete rundown about his condition and his prognosis, which is much better than originally thought.

He was indeed in critical condition when he came in last week, but they’re thinking that was due to an acute condition–most likely lingering effects from the infection from his earlier angiogram a couple months back–rather than a sudden worsening of his chronic heart/lung troubles. When they did an echo cardiogram of his aortic valve on Monday, it showed that what had been a critical blockage of the opening circumference on Thursdays had returned to its previous “severe” blockage–with “severe” being leaps and bounds better than critical. It’s still functioning at less than half normal, but it’s manageable and what he was at before Thursday.

It’s a degenerating condition, and they expect he’ll need to go in for the angioplasty procedure in a year or so–and it’s a variation of the standard angioplasty so needs to be done by specialist-specialists–where they’ll knock off the accumulated calcium around the valve. The procedure only has an effectiveness of about six months, due to the nature of the disease–the calcium accumulates again very rapidly–but it can be repeated. There’s 5-8% risk of stroke with the procedure due to danger of the dislodged calcium entering the bloodstream in addition to the other dangers with these sorts of procedures. But he’s holding steady now, on more meds to improve his breathing capacity, on oxygen round the clock, and they expect he should be able to maintain this level of functionality for a year, until they need to re-visit the angioplasty option.

I almost burst into tears (again) of relief when I heard the news. (I’ve been fairly useless this whole trip.) I’m so, so happy at this turnabout.

Matthew and I brought DIL home yesterday, and we all had a nice dinner together and called it an early night. Matthew’s brother swung by to get updated and caught up, and plans to come over again tonight. Matthew and I are running some chores for the in-folks today–grocery shopping and a trip to the hardware store–and we’re cooking dinner. Trying to make sure that his mom, who is intent upon bustling about and doing the attentive hostess thing, doesn’t, and instead takes it easy. And, of course, striving to ensure his DIL is comfy and doesn’t overexert himself.

I feel like the monster-beastie that’s been sitting on my chest for the last week has finally gotten off. A million hurrays.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- one no, one still pending, and one “this seems like more of a Weird Tales story so I passed it along to them” from Sean Wallace of Fantasy Magazine at 38-, 80-, and 79 days respectively.
- Contract from Jason Sizemore for “Nothing of Me” for Aegri Somnia.
- 48-day audio reprint SALE+contract of “The Storyteller’s Wife” to MechMuse. On a serendipitous note, I burned to CD the MP3s of issue #1 of MechMuse for the drive to Illinois and listened to over half the stories in the car, so now I’ve had a chance to hear what sort of publication it is. And lemme say that I am very impressed. The actors they hire are excellent, and the stories I’ve heard have been top notch, especially the two by David Barr Kirtley (who also happens to be a fellow Phobos Winner). The editor informs me that “Storyteller’s Wife” will be in the May ’06 issue alongside a story by Kevin J. Anderson. Sweet.

Heading north

Got a call from fosteronfilm‘s mom. They’re not doing the surgery today, but possibly tomorrow. Matthew and I are heading up there later today. Rushing to drop Hobkin off with his godmother, pack, and get everything organized. Not sure how much I’ll be online for the next few days.

   


Writing Stuff

Received:
- My check from Cricket for “Li T’ien and the Demon Nian.” Shiny.
- Email from the editor in answer to my query regarding whether he’s still interested in considering “A Thread of Silk.” His answer: yes. But he also told me that the funding for his project got slashed, so the pay I could now expect if he wanted to buy it would be significantly below “pro” rates. Hmm. That news will require some pondering. I’ll worry about it later.

Editing:
Many passes on my rewrite of “Nobodies and Somebodies.” Stuck a fork in and sent it off to my Aberrant Dreams editor. I think it’s a stronger story; here’s hoping he agrees. It’s slated for their July issue.

Club 100 For Writers
      12

Coffee therapy and DIL update

britzkrieg very thoughtfully lured/nudged me out of the house yesterday for coffee. I definitely needed a change in scenery. We chatted for several hours on a wide range of topics: pets, hubbies, writing/editing, our varied states of health, etc., and it was so therapeutic getting my mind off things. Felt much more focused and relaxed afterward–relaxed despite the grande mocha britzkrieg treated me to; that’s pretty salient indication that I needed an afternoon out.

fosteronfilm called his folks. His dad sounds pretty good. It was very touch and go on Friday and Saturday; he was in emergency care all that time, and they weren’t sure if he was going to make it, but he’s stabilized now, although still going through periods of disorientation. It seems the hospital folks are wanting to try something after all, according to my mom-in-law, now that they think he’s strong enough to undergo treatment. So my dad-in-law is going in for some sort of surgery on Tuesday. Unfortunately, his folks’ grasp of medical procedures leaves us a bit uncertain as to what that will be.

It seems there were two options: 1. Full open heart surgery, the cracking his ribs and putting him on a heart-lung machine variety. And 2. I believe a balloon angioplasty. I say “believe” because the description from his mom was along the lines of “some other invasive, but not that invasive surgery that involves a balloon which would have about a 6 month benefit if successful.” After a search on “heart,” “surgery,” and “balloon,” Google informed me that it’s probably an angioplasty.

DIL was all “just do the open heart and get it over with” and MIL appears to have talked him out of that and into the angioplasty. I’m agog that they were even considering open heart, but maybe they’re at the point where they’re running out of options. I wish I knew more. At least (so sez my Google-fu) it’s possible to do an angioplasty without having to administer a general anesthetic, making it a much less traumatic procedure than the alternative.

I’m clinging to optimism . . . tinged by frustrated confusion.

   


Writing Stuff

Still waiting on the notes from the editor regarding my middle-grade novel-to-picture book rewrite. Tempting to start on it without the notes. Also tempting to get back to work on the novel I’ve been neglecting. And likewise tempted to start on an Egyptian folktale. I haven’t submitted anything new to Cricket since last year, and I’ve been devouring Ancient Egyptian Magic in my non-copious free time. My brain is beginning to bubble with ideas.

So much to write. So few mes. How did I do this when I had a day job??

New Words:
600 on my rewrite of “Nobodies and Somebodies” for Aberrant Dreams. After I got back from my outing with britzkrieg, inspiration hit as to how to address the editorial request, and I was off. Going to give it another couple passes to smooth out the prose in the new section, and then send it off to ye olde editor. Pleased to have another major item (nearly) checked off my Things to Do list.

Club 100 For Writers
      11

500/day
      17

Dad-in-law anxiety

fosteronfilm‘s mom called yesterday. His dad’s in the hospital again. It’s not good. He simply can’t get enough oxygen into his system between his lung and heart problems, and there’s nothing they can do for him. It sounds like they’re just trying to make him as comfortable as they can, hooking him up to oxygen, and hoping that he rallies again.

Matthew thinks that we might be making a trip up to Illinois soon.

I’m filled with dread every time I hear the phone ring. I’ve never lost someone really close to me before, someone I love, a parent or dear friend. And my dad-in-law is all of those things to me. I started having a meltdown last night. I’m so not going to be of any use to Matthew. He’s going to have to end up comforting me instead of the other way around.

I’m terrified.

   


Writing Stuff

New Words:
850 on “A Thread of Silk” and I’m at zero draft. I’ve emailed the editor this story was originally slated for to see if he’ll still consider my submission even though it exceeds the 10K max in his GLs.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
11,036 / 10,000
(110.4%)

Club 100 For Writers
      9

500/day
      16

Adderall and Chinese communique

I think I’m well and truly addicted to Adderall. I’ve skipped my last couple “weekend holidays” because I didn’t want to risk the drop in writing productivity. The resultant ramping up of tolerance has me fretting. I actually popped an extra 10mg the other day to keep me going when the 20mg wasn’t doing the trick.

(I needs me my speed.)

But I am well aware that that road can only lead to a bad place. Ergo, I’m taking today off as an overdue break to give my system a chance to detox. I suspect there will be much caffeine. Or would that defeat the purpose? Urg.

(I wants me my speed.)

I wrote before I was on Adderall; I can still do it, dammit.

   


Writing Stuff

Received a letter from my folks–my stepdad thanking me for the birthday card we sent him, and to let us know that their apartment flooded and they’re staying with his younger son until they can move into a new apartment. They also suggested that I send them some of my previously published works and they’d see if they could find a Chinese publisher to both translate and publish it, maybe as a collection or something. I have no idea how the publishing industry works in China, but that would indeed be cool.

Received:
- A note, along with contract, from Greek ‘zine Ennea (9) that “Fade to Black” appeared in issue #292 in February. Sweet.
- My contrib. copy of Sages and Swords in which I fulfill a longtime ambition: sharing a ToC with Tanith Lee. I’d squee, except I’m too logy. The anthology’s a very nice production, glossy and redolent with that “new book” smell, although I think the title font is a little utilitarian (I blame dude_the that I even noticed). Of note, it seems the title of my story was changed from “The Wizard of Eternal Watch and the Keeper of Forever” to just “The Wizard of Eternal Watch” which I’m okay with–it was, after all, a pretty unwieldy title–although I would have liked to have been notified of this alteration in advance.
- 7-day email from Jason Sizemore of Apex Digest that he liked my story, “Nothing of Me,” and wants it for the Aegri Somnia anthology. Woot!

And as a reminder, only two more days until Jason’s birthday. They still need sixteen new subscribers or renewals to make their challenge. Subscribe, pleeease?

New Words:
200 on “A Thread of Silk”
Not one of my more productive days . . .

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
5,597 / 7,500
(74.6%)

Club 100 For Writers
      6

Update on State of the Dad-in-Law

fosteronfilm‘s mom called with a status update. It seems that my DIL is recovering fine from the infection, but he’s having even more problems with his breathing. Unfortunately, we couldn’t interpret what the details of the situation are from my mom-in-law’s explanation. It seems that they need to periodically put him on “the machine” (oxygen? respirator? guh?) because there are times when he can’t breathe at all–something to do with a build up of carbon dioxide in his lungs. And he fluctuates between being alert and perfectly lucid, and woozy and disjointed. No big surprise there, as I’m sure it’s related to how much air he’s getting, and therefore how much oxygen is getting to his brain.

My MIL is dealing with it as well as she can, but she’s so very helpless without my DIL to take care of her. It worries me. She got panicky driving back from the hospital by herself because she’s not used to driving on the freeway, and she got unhappy because a set of sweat-clothes had been left on the floor in a bag (from the hospital, I assume), and so sent them through the dryer so they wouldn’t wrinkle (let me tell you how often I stress about wrinkles, oh yeah, that would be never). Unfortunately, she forgot to take DIL’s inhaler out of the pocket and sent it through the dryer as well. fosteronfilm told her to consult the pharmacist before letting his dad use it after that . . .

They’re both so hidebound in their roles. There’s a decidedly charming aspect to it: he takes care of her, and she takes care of him, but without each other, they sort of fall apart. She’s never done her own taxes; he’s never cooked a meal–that sort of thing. While I’m a huge proponent of healthy co-dependence, I’m very worried about my MIL.

On the laptop front, in a bit of timely vent-ableness, I got a “Customer Service Evaluation” request from HP on my recent experience with their service. I’m looking forward to filling it out . . . mwahahahaaa. Not that I think it’ll accomplish much, but it’ll be nice to engage in a bit of satisfaction-inducing ranting.

   


Writing Stuff

It has been brought to my attention (thanks basletum!) that Escape Pod is having a poll for “favorite story of 2005″ and that “The Life and Times of Penguin” is listed among the nominees. I’m honored by the nomination and compelled to engage in shameless vote pimping. So: Vote for “Penguin,” yo!

And if you haven’t listened to it yet, you can download it HERE. And while you’re there, check out all the other wonderful podcastic offerings at Escape Pod.

Received:
- 25-day SALE of “Nobodies and Somebodies” to Aberrant Dreams. First sale of the year. Rah!

State of the dad-in-law, part 2

Got a call from my mom-in-law. fosteronfilm‘s dad is back in the hospital. Seems he got an infection after the angiogram with a fever (clocking in at 104!) and chills. They appear to have him stable now on IV meds and a breathing mask, but he remains in the ICU. He’s conscious and alert, at least. My mom-in-law is at home now, and she’s suffering from some sort of respiratory illness too–no doubt brought on by all the stress. My brother-in-law was with Dad-in-law in the hospital, keeping tabs on status and treatment.

I knew they should have kept him in-hospital for longer after his angiogram! I’m absolutely livid they didn’t. He’s a >70-year-old man with a compromised immune system, suffering from a wealth of chronic ailments. It doesn’t require a genius to see that there’s a huge risk of post-surgery infection and complication.

I’m very worried but trying to stay optimistic. He’s a stubborn cuss. He’s going to pull through this.

   


Writing Stuff

Got a lovely email from Gerald W. Page praising my story, “The Son that Pain Made,” in Aberrant Dreams. I was delighted to be sharing a ToC with him in the first place, and to actually get a “you did good” email from him made me downright giddy. He said: “Ted Sturgeon would have loved it. (Actually, Ted would be jealous; he would have killed for that idea.)”

Squee! I’m greatly looking forward to meeting him at the signing next month.

Received:
- 156-day “liked it, but . . .” from TOTU.

I opened that baby up to give it a look over it, and y’know, I’m thinking it might be a good fit with dsnight‘s Heroes in Training antho. It could benefit from a fairly intensive overhaul and tighten, but I quite like it and it fits nicely with the antho’s theme. Guess that means I’m backburnering “The Better To . . .” again.

Editing/New Words: Two passes on “Tried as An Adult.” Actually taking this one to hardcopy to work on.

Club 100 For Writers
      77

State of the dad-in-law

Heard back from fosteronfilm‘s folks about his father’s angiogram.

The fantastic news: His dad’s okay and at home now. I’m so relieved. I absolutely adore my dad-in-law and I was stressed to the eyeballs thinking he might not pull through the procedure.

The bad news: The doctors had to keep him overnight because they had problems stopping the bleeding. My dad-in-law regularly takes blood thinners as part of his medical regimen, and apparently even though he did stop taking them several days before the angiogram, it still negatively impacted his ability to coagulate. He’s home now, but the doctors gave some rather alarming instructions to my mom-in-law with regard to looking for and what to do in case of blood clots and resumed bleeding. I think they ought to have kept him in the hospital for another day or so, especially since he’s going back for follow-up today anyway. But as long as there don’t turn out to be any complications, I shall suppress my displeasure with the doctor people.

The so-so news: They didn’t perform the valve replacement. Once they got in, they didn’t think doing it would result in improved quality-of-life, making it not worth the additional risk.

The mostly good news: After discussing things post-surgery with the in-folks, the doctors were appalled to discover that my dad-in-law wasn’t seeing a lung specialist. Hell, I’m appalled that he’s not seeing a lung specialist. I hadn’t realized he wasn’t. After my experience with going to a rheumatologist to treat my Lupus/MCTD instead of just a GP, I would’ve been badgering and pleading with him about it if I had. But at least now the in-folks are going to send him to one. Better late than not. Although it may mean some unfortunate difficulties as I don’t think there’s an appropriate pulmonologist locally for them.

Also, something that we tried to impress on them, that he ought to be on regular oxygen, was hammered home by a series of nurse-types (three cheers for the persuasive powers of pretty young women). He’s an ornery one, my dad-in-law, and doesn’t like using on oxygen tank. When his GP put him on one months back, my dad-in-law promptly sent it back. He claimed it wasn’t helping and that the tubing was bothersome and/or defective. Over the holidays, it was fairly obvious that he ought to be on oxygen therapy, so I’m extremely pleased that they’ve managed to convince him of the necessity of it.

The irksome news: Unfortunately, the medical people have only given him one tank of oxygen that he’s supposed to use for the whole house, both upstairs and down. But of course my in-folks can’t be expected to lug a heavy oxygen tank up and down the stairs, so instead of giving them a second tank, the medical folks gave them 50 feet of tubing! Like that’s going to make it easy for him to use, between it kinking up and both of them tripping over trailing tubes. He was already unhappy with how annoying the previous, shorter tubing was to deal with. While we were there, I spent some time unkinking and sorting out the length they had (something like 30 ft), and no wonder he got disgusted with it. It was a mess of twists and snarls. I can’t see how oxygen could have gotten through that chaos of tubing. And what a shocker that he said it didn’t help; it wasn’t getting to him! Grr. Now why didn’t they give him two tanks? And surely there must be a more efficient method of managing the tubing than simply handing over a fifty-foot coil. A hose reel would be an improvement. I’m very worried that he’ll get fed up again and refuse to use it after a while.

In other news:
Our lovely USPS carrier (who probably hates us because of all the magazines, books, and assorted heavy stuff we force her to lug to and from our doorstep) left me a birthday parcel the other day from dude_the: Word Menu, a reference book that I’ve been coveting since I saw pleroma‘s. Squee! Thankyouthankyou!

Checked the HP website for a status update, and my laptop is now making its way back to me from California. Thank God. Unfortunately, they don’t say what they did to it or whether they repaired it or just threw up their hands and packaged up a replacement one. I’ll find out soon enough, I figure, but I’m quite curious to know whether they were able to identify and isolate the problem.

   


Writing Stuff

Did an overdue Critters critique.

Received:
- Payment from Aberrant Dreams for “The Son that Pain Made.” Hurray!
- 3-day “we do think you’re on the right track but . . .” from Baen’s Universe. Fooie.

I’m getting a bit antsy to make my first sale of 2006. No doubt a sign of neurotic addiction after my excellent December showing, but there’s no reasoning with the anxiety monster.

New Words: 100 or so in an editing pass of “The Better To . . .”. I want to get that one out to market, but I think it needs some serious tweaking.

I’m very displeased with myself with regard to how I’m not getting back into the swing of writing after the holidays. I’m counting on the arrival of my laptop to rectify that, but I’m still miffed that I can’t seem to muster the discipline to write. The house is cleaner than it’s been in months, but it’s all cat waxing. (Or should that be skunk waxing?)

Club 100 For Writers
      76

Christmas 2005

Got back safe and sound from the plains of Illinois yesterday. The drive was incredible. It seems we brought the balmy Georgian weather with us when we went up. For the whole time we were there, it stayed pretty much in the mid-30s to low-40s. However, this resulted in the pea-soup fog of doom driving back. And then for several hundred miles around the south edge of Illinois, we drove through an extensive, breathtaking lightning storm. I watched, wide-eyed and awed, as brilliant, HUGE zags of blinding white arced from cloud to cloud, illuminating the night sky. And the weird thing was, there was no thunder or rain to accompany it.

fosteronfilm and I take turns driving the long trip from Georgia to Illinois and back–he starts late in the evening, and I take over at around dawn (6:30ish). When it was time for my shift, it was still dark, and the storm had been going for hours. About fifteen minutes in, the lightning started hitting the ground–often several bolts simultaneously. At one time I counted five bolts striking in the distance, in synchrony. These brought thunder and rain, although the rain was fairly brief, which I was thankful for.

It was overwhelmingly beautiful. Left me feeling all solemn and reverent.

Christmas was lovely with the folks, as it always is.

Although there was some stress. Matthew’s father is quite ill, and he’s going in for a test and surgery next month. When we first heard about it, it sounded like they were going to do open heart, which freaked me out, as his dad is over 70 and has been struggling with health problems for years now. He’s not exactly a good candidate to crack open his ribs and put on a heart-lung machine. We had lots of questions, which we expected to have answered when we got there. However, upon trying to find out what was going on, we got confusion and conflicting information. There’s some denial going on there from his parents, which I understand as this is a terrifying experience for both of them, but I was feeling pretty frantic, not knowing, and them apparently unwilling to ask the questions they needed to from the surgeon. His mom thought he was going in for a “corroded” artery and we needed to explain to her that no, the doctor was undoubtedly referring to dad’s “carotid” artery.

They had a pre-surgery appointment yesterday, and they were unprepared for any sort of Q&A. Fortunately, his mom found in an envelope (written by hand, not one of the handouts people are supposed to get before surgery!) the name of what his dad’s going in for–an angiogram. Armed with that information and a couple key words (thickened valve and catheter), I hopped online and researched both angiograms and treatments for valvular stenosis. I surmised that they were actually planning to do a percutaneous transcatheter heart valve implantation which is a much less invasive and stressful procedure than standard open heart valve replacement, which they’ll do at the same time as they perform the angiogram (after using the angiogram to ascertain their diagnosis). I also printed out a several page article on angiograms, valvular stenosis, and questions one should ask one’s doctor before going in for treatments like these, and gave it to his folks to read. And Matthew told his mother in no uncertain terms that he expected her to call us after the pre-surgery appointment and be able to explain clearly what was going on next month. With that to spur them to ask questions, they went in and did indeed find out what was happening (and called us to report after).

As it turns out, my surmisal was correct, which I’m quite relieved about, as it’s a much less risky procedure overall than the alternative. Still, his dad is pretty sick, and I’m very worried about him. I absolutely adore his folks, and I cannot stand the thought of anything happening to them. Meep.

On the light and fluffy Christmas side, the loot was bountiful:

My hubby got me a Targus docking station and a cooling pad for my laptop (which I am sending to HP today or tomorrow to fix the spontaneous power-down problem). And for fun, because I am a silly, vain thing and spent time gazing wistfully at it when we saw it at the store, he also got me a hair streaking tool. Hee! I shall undoubtedly end up looking like Frankenstein’s Bride, but it washes out in a single shampoo, so any hair tragedies can be quickly remedied. And he also got me . . . socks! A ridiculously cute pair with a cat on it.


His folks got me Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees by Roger Fouts, Harry Potter: HBP, Hammered by matociquola, and socks–the cuteness continues with a dog face! His brother and his wife got me more socks (!) and got us a HUGE bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin. We also received a 4-piece luggage set, a pizza stone, and other useful and thoughtful prezzies.
A couple more Xmas pix