My Novels

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Update on hospital stay

This won't be much of a post -- more a reminder about medicare and my supplemental insurance. After three days in the hospital, and a slew of heart tests, I paid exactly 0 copay! I mean, I knew it was supposed to be that way, but have so often been disappointed by copay's, etc. that I was shocked to find this actually works correctly.

I will say the full charge was jaw-dropping, but the hospital and all techs/doctors accepted medicare payment, with my supplement (Plan F) picking up copay's. Incredibly though, the medicare and insurance payment were about 1/4 the charge. Still can't believe that! Because without insurance, a person would be billed the entire amounts -- and harassed if they didn't pay it. Suffice to say, very happy I have medicare and a good Plan F supplement.

This is the first time in my life, especially in the past twelve years since my husband passed away, that I am not worried about having medical bills that would literally bankrupt me, cause me to lose the roof over my head. "Medicare for all," would he worthwhile for this country, but I don't expect to see that in my lifetime.

Otherwise, life goes on here. No more medical problems. I started riding my bike in the neighborhood for 30-45 minutes every morning; or at least the mornings it is cool enough. August is sweltering hot, as usual.

The ceiling in the living room is being replaced; the damaged tile/underpinnings had to be removed and new sheet-rock hung. This morning the carport metal roof was replaced, just the flashing to be done tomorrow. Hopefully this will all be finished in a week, but I am so TIRED of repairs due to storms. This is the second time in eight years I've had major damage  (tornado/hail storm), and far past weary. I call it storm fatigue. Seriously thinking of moving to a condo, where I wouldn't have such upkeep trouble. Blah, blah, blah...need to stop whining!

That's a wrap for now.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Hospital Stay

Just as a note to myself, and dates...I was in the hospital for three days a week ago. June 12-14.

It all started when I suddenly developed a horrible, stabbing pain in my chest and between my shoulderblades. I first thought it was a stomach problem, maybe my acid reflux acting up. However, I had never felt that kind of continuous stabbing pain; the only thing I can compare it to would be having a kidney stone (the stabbing pain in chest instead of kidney).

It went on and on and on...and I endured for two hours. I couldn't sit still -- tried lying down, standing, pacing, etc. Nothing helped. Eventually I realized I needed to get medical help. I had my brother-in-law come take me to urgent care -- where I was turned away, due to the chest pains!! Said they weren't equipped to deal with chest pains, that if it was an imminent heart attack, I would be better off at the hospital ER. Which is where we went next.

The stabbing pain continued until the nurses put a nitroglycerin patch on my chest, and then almost immediately stopped. I also had sky-high blood pressure by then, so they started trying to get it down. Took all afternoon. After a few tests, I was admitted for MORE tests. The three days were spent taking heart test after heart test, and in the end, nothing found. And when I was dismissed, still no explanation for the stabbing chest pain.

So it's a mystery at this point. Was afraid it would come back as unexpectedly as the first attack, but so far it hasn't. That is good news. On the other hand, I guess this will by my first road test for medicare and my supplemental insurance policy. We shall see.

In the meantime, my house damage from the hail storm back in March is still not finished. The roof was done several weeks ago, and I haven't pressed for the remainder: new gutters, new metal carport top, ceiling replacement in living room. Hopefully those will be done within the next couple weeks.

As Rosannadana on SNL used to say: "It's always something."

Monday, June 04, 2018

Procrastination and writing

Still struggling, even though I just published a collection of short stories based on urban legends I heard as a child. All set in the era before 1960. Or at least, these weird stories seemed to have come from urban lore, being told by either parents or grandparents. "Strange Southern Stories," the title.

What project is next? I am torn between ongoing deep research for a long, detailed novel about one of my great-great-great grandmothers who was apparently quite the character in early pioneer Alabama. She was a midwife, traveled the wooded wilderness delivering babies...while also birthing 10+ of her own children! Naturally, the key is researching that era -- so it's going to take a long time.

And then, there's the obsession with a music icon, which I am thinking of turning into a Gothic ghost story. And not a lot of research, mostly just by the seat-of-my-pants writing as it comes from each wild, spontaneous creative writing session. LOVE to write that way, even if it results in lots of rewriting/editing. Not sure when I'll start, but have a basic plot down (by hand/paper).

What else? A bit frustrated with procrastination -- instead of working on that Gothic story, keep putting off starting. I've always been the kind of writer who delays starting -- but once I get even the first paragraph down, I'm off and running. Guess it's the stage fright, being afraid of the performance, and the actual fear of failure. Huh.

I'm reading a lot too, and right now, immersed in a really good novel, "The Ghost Writer," which is not a supernatural work either! I can whiz through mediocre genre novels with scary speed; no need to digest, just follow the flow, so it's great to find a novel that requires more reader participation.

My house is still not finished -- the damage from the 1,000 year hail storm over a month ago (yeah, it's climate change but let's keep denying that reality). New roof put on, but now stalled. The metal carport, gutters and living room ceiling all need repair/replacement. Crews have worked non-stop around here, since the wide swath of hail damage took out house roofs, windows, cars, businesses, etc. Sigh. One man found a 1/2 pound hail stone! Seriously. He photographed it and it is registered as the largest hail stone in some record book.

Since the tornado of 2011, I have never quite recovered in that I now EXPECT the worst. And I'm rarely disappointed when it comes to severe weather. This has made me apathetic about taking care of my property too; seems hardly worth the cost of maintenance. I just do the basic necessity, i.e. the roof replacement, etc. Insurance covered the costs. or at least it is supposed to; haven't settled up yet with the repairs. At any rate, I'm pessimistic about the future regarding weather.

My dogs are well, and that is good. Muffin finally stopped sleeping on the bed with me. Ah, all grown up! Actually I think it's just cooler in her crate -- and also, she LOVES the soft gel cushion in there, whereas my mattress is extra firm!

So maybe I can started on a new project soon...the Gothic story or the midwife story. It's a toss-up!?!

P.S. My PC finally died. I'm using my laptop for now, not sure if I'll buy a bigger laptop or another PC. Decisions, decisions!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Bleak February Days

I've spent the past afternoon and early morning setting up my QuickPad; it's just basically a portable word processor that saves text, and then can be transferred to the computer. Runs off batteries, and has a long battery life. No internet distractions.I have had this for years, and decided to get it working again because I have been tempted to buy a similar processor new to the market: Freewite. However, it is very costly and I  have basically the same thing in this QuickPad: old school, but meant to be distraction-free writing for a rough draft.

Anyway, at least I am writing a blog post. What a horrific week with the school shooting down in Florida (Parkland school). I can't imagine if I'd  had to worry about a nutcase shooting up the school when I was in class (had enough to worry about with the domestic violence in my own home!). I don't usually write about political matters, but I don't think anyone needs an assault weapon that can fire repeatedly in bursts. My opinion is that regardless of the politics, we need a strong gun law preventing sales of weapons that are designed only to kill as many as possible as fast as possible. The shooter in Florida was shooting only a few minutes and killed 17 and wounded 14. THAT is unacceptable in our society.

And then there's the issue of mental illness. We just don't do anything about it, no matter how many are killed. Just like gun control, not happening.

I have to say that I am glad I didn't have children in this extremely violent, angry, nasty society we are living in. Not every country, but frankly, the gun violence is out of control here. Thing is, unless the younger generations step up to the plate and change this, it will only get worse. I don't know what it is going to take to effectively change such an environment, but not the current political climate of meanness and vindictiveness. Sigh.

What else? I am in a writing slump. I got stuck with "Cruel Blue Nowhere" -- can't get the ending right. Have written various endings, but I'm stumped. Never had this happen, and it's caused me to just quit. (Partly why I'm writing on this gadget, just to get some words out there.)


* * *

Saturday Noon

I've been reflecting on why I am not writing, and decided it is partly because I don't want the emotional havoc of fiction. When you create characters, especially characters with conflict and problems (necessary for plot/storyline), then you really are invested emotionally in their lives. A lot like real people, either family or friends. And since I live alone, cherishing solitude, I love the peace that comes with not being deeply invested in other peoples' lives emotionally. Maybe this is why the older you get, at least past 65+, you begin to withdraw from others. Enjoying the peace and calm of life instead of frantic, sometimes futile, emotional turmoil that comes with caring deeply for others. I'm sure this is a component of my difficulty in getting back into fiction writing. Alas, in the past two years I've written several novels, and even one that has sold very well. I still do this, but not sure it's something I want to do on a daily basis. IF I ever finish the novella I'm working on now, I may try writing short stories -- or works of 20,000 words or less. Not as much time/investment as 50,000 word novels. Do writers ever retire?!

I thought about trying to establish correspondence with someone, which would motivate me to at least write. Or perhaps I could try non-fiction and even essays for awhile, something to change the pace? Possibly.

Hate February -- my husband died at the end of this month twelve years ago. Always a pervasive sadness and sense of loss this time of year. And forty-eight years ago my dad also died in the same month. For years our family had nothing but bad events during February, to the extent we called it a family curse. Finally had a run of about ten years when nothing bad happened, then late husband died. Just keeping fingers crossed nothing occurs this year.

Oddly warm so far, strange for February; weather has been a rollercoaster all over the world. Climate change, no doubt.

A few weeks ago, I had an eerie experience. I  walked out on the back-porch around 7:30 and looked up into the overcast sky and saw four circles of light surrounding a bright center light. The four lights would rotate around the center light several times, then merge with the center light. It seemed to be just above the clouds. I live in town, but there's no kind of event with spot-lighting that would have caused that. Completely silent. It went on for at least 45 minutes, and I tried to get a video of it on my cellphone and tablet, but neither would capture it. Anyway, just wanted to make note of that. I have never seen anything like it, although when late husband and I lived at the small farm, I saw strange lights (and streaks of lights) captured by my camera the month before he died. I didn't see those beforehand, rather they showed up in my pictures.

My life, I'm sure, appears boring -- but that translates to content. Have a doctor appointment at the end of the month, the usual tests/medication refills. Then dental checkup and eye exam; really need new glasses! Not looking forward to all that either.

The dogs are thriving, for which I'm glad. I bought senior vitamins and glucosmine treats for Rambo; he's thirteen. I rescued him from the local animal shelter at one year old...a few months after husband died. He is in good health for a senior dog, and I want to keep it that way via nutrition as long as possible.

And with that, I'm outta here.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year's Day Thoughts

Let's see, 2017 was a so-so year. Nothing major happened, no illness, though my bunion continues to cause problems. I published four novels, the last one based on a kidnapping in a nearby county. Lots of fictional changes, of course, but still...one of my longer novels and the genre I like best: crime/mystery. Alas, I have more readers for my supernatural suspense, particularly ghost stories. So I'm currently about 3/4 into the rough draft of a ghost story set in a cryonics facility. Hope to get the rough draft finished in a couple weeks, though the final novel for publication will take longer.

In the meantime, my dogs are thriving. Rambo came through surgery to remove a large lump on his side a few months ago, and is now back to his usual "guard dog" status! Muffin still prefers a soft cushion. Still feeding stray cats, and this frigid spell has me worried about them. I do have a pet door in my garage, and several bedding areas with a heat-light in there. Not sure if any go in at night, but I have seen a couple in there during the day. I hate this kind of weather, especially hard on arthritis -- teens at night, not even reaching 35 during the day. If I was the moving kind, I'd head to Florida because the older I get, the more difficult cold weather is for me.

I'm 66 now, with all the accompanying aches and pains associated with aging: arthritis, foot issues, joint problems, etc. I should be thankful I haven't had worse health problems, but up until a couple years ago, I was faithful in exercising. Either walking miles a day, or biking, and prior to that a ski machine, and bike machine. Aerobics was a part of daily life, and I think that is why my lungs are so strong. There's a medical apparatus that measures lung capacity, and the few times I've had it used, the nurse would always say 100 percent. And then she'd say, "You never smoked, did you?" And true, I never did.

But the bunion/toe problems have caused lack of exercise, not to mention continuing back issues with herniated discs. I'm one of those people who will do things I really shouldn't, like raking and blowing leaves this past fall which irritates my joints and feet. I've considered downsizing to a condo, but there are only four condo developments in this city (seriously need more!) and the initial price is high, then there's quarterly fees. And you still have to be responsible for plumbing, ac/heat units, electricity and all interior troubles. As it is now, my house has long been paid for, and the tax/insurance is not too expensive. I do hire lawn-mowing, but my yard is small enough that it isn't too costly.

When I moved back here in 2010, I swore I would never move again. It's even recorded in this blog how happy I was to get back "home," since me and my late husband lived here 30 years prior to moving away for five years. I came back alone, but this house has always seemed like home. I grew up only a few blocks away, so that might be why. This is where I wrote all my past novels, and I guess as a writer, I'm a bit superstitious that this is the place where my creativity flourishes. At any rate, I seriously think my next move will be to assisted living if I should live long enough. I keep saving for that possibility, but then again, I've always been a thrifty saver, not a spender.

Alas, that is about all the roundup from 2017.

Goals for 2018? To keep writing, maybe do more promotion since I did very little the past year. On the other hand, I don't want to force myself to write -- that becomes stressful and takes all the joy out of creative writing. Maybe write blog posts more often.

I'll close with a poem I found at a friend's blog, obviously showing how little life and the world changes regardless of the year:

1910
What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.


--Ella Wheeler Wilcox