Time for Some Changes.

This week has been exhausting. Lots of things going on. Lots of decisions being made.

I've been battling to catch up on my writing, following three months of bronchitis at the beginning of the year. The end was in sight. Almost there... One ebook finished. Two finished - and published. One week of a book blog tour and then I'm on the final writing spree.  Just one more...

Then came the September Trifecta of Terror. A month of hell. Two weeks of ear infection, and side effects from yet another course (two this time) of antibiotics (I'm allergic to most these days, so I don't have much option). I picked myself up and continued writing.

September ended with a definite clanger - a double barreled attack. The first was totally unexpected. Regular readers will know how much I love my garden. (Here are the latest pics of the front yard)

I have an organic mixed vege-flower garden and am proud of my bees - my hundreds of bees. I've lived here for twenty-five years, incident free. Until last weekend.

It's been over forty years since I've been stung by a bee and had a reaction (the doctor said it was a very good thing it had been so long. Or else...) Now, technically the bee didn't sting me. As far as we can gather, it most likely brushed up against my coat and dropped its stinger on it. About an hour later I brushed my arm against my jacket when I was at the shops. Yowsers! The pain!

Two staff members came to my aide, not sure what had happened. I grabbed some antihistamines and a cold bottle of water from the shelf and limped home. There was a little trepidation when my lips tingled and my heart fluttered - was it a reaction or just anxiety? The doctor arrived and dosed me up with Prednisolone and strict instructions not to get stung in the near future.

Two days later I still had a lump on my arm (right) and all-over itchiness! Next month I'm off to the specialist to see if an epipen is in my future. I'm still having joint pains, headaches and exhaustion.

The second dredged up my worst fears - electronic failure. I was taking steps to avoid such a disaster and purchased a super-duper external hard drive to save all my writing, art and video work  - in case of a computer demise. On Tuesday I turned on my computer to try to get some writing done. ...
All my research files and some book files were nowhere to be seen - not on my laptop, not on the new external hard drive!

This time the heart palpitations were definitely an anxiety attack.  My Dearheart finally found them and we are now trying to recover them and confirm they are all intact. (It looks promising.) I did lose the pre-formatting I had done for the upcoming paperback, so that will all have to be reconstructed. And all the time, I'm trying to write two blog posts a week.

Now I am retracing my steps, with (hopefully) not more than three or so weeks writing time lost. I have now adjusted the publishing date for the final eBook and paperback, in the Viola Stewart series, to some time in November.

And those changes I mentioned?
I've had to reassess my writing scheduling. It looks like the summer bronchitis (from dust allergies) will be a yearly thing. This was my third year. That means I will lose at least one month (it was almost three this year) of writing time. Right now I am struggling to stay awake. The doctors aren't sure how long this will last. I need to add more 'fudge' time - time to recover from unexpected crises, panic attacks, allergic reactions, and computer betrayals.

I have so many stories that are fighting to get told. I need to focus on writing and publishing those stories. I've had a heart-to-heart with some fellow writers and have decided to cut back on blog posts and concentrate on writing stories.

What does this mean?
Currently I write two blog posts a week: Photo Fridays and a weekly Sunday blog post. I'll be cutting back to one Sunday blog post a month (there may be occasional bonuses depending on how I'm going) and I'll post at least one Photo Friday a month. You can also subscribe to my monthly newsletter for updates, events and sneak peeks of upcoming stories. The time gained will be channeled into writing stories - both short and a new book - for you, Dear Reader.

Photos ©2017 Karen Carlisle. All rights reserved.

If I have to read that one more time…

Edits. I hates them. But not why you think.

Yes, they take for... ever. Hours scribbling on paper, crossing out words, adding others, checking references. My back burns, my eyes ache and that niggly tickling pain creeps down my leg. (Sciatica sucks.)

I've lost count of how many times I sift through my thesaurus looking for that one word - the perfect one - to describe a character's mood, to show how they feel; stomping down the hallway conjures up a completely different image to inching down the hallway. (In this case: her footsteps padded on the carpet runner...)

But rewrites and edits are one of the most important steps in writing. They can take longer the first draft (depending on the quality of the first draft). Some of my stories have three rewrites; others - such has Tomorrow, When I Die - take up to eight or nine rewrites. It depends on how well the story was planned out, how much research was done (or needed doing), whether the story had taken a left turn and wandered off into uncharted territory or, in my case, how ill I was when scratching out the first draft.

There is nothing more annoying - or disappointing - as reading a story with dangling plot lines, sloppy writing or bad grammar. I've seen whole sentences repeated on occasion. I just don't understand how such stories get published - even by the big publishers. It seems to be an acceptable way of cost-cutting for some. <Insert heavy sigh and enormous sad face here.>

But what's the real reason I hate editing?

When I've read through a story for the umpteenth time, the fun and games seem to lose their gloss. It would be different if I could just enjoy the adventure - but no - I have to examine, judge, decide. I have to keep count of how many times a character has 'raised an eyebrow', whether they are sitting down or standing up and ask myself: 'can she really see that if she's hiding under the desk?'

It gets to a point where the manuscript gets slapped on the table and the house shudders with: "I can't take this any more!"

And that's when I know. It is done. It is time for my editor to check for commas and spelling mistakes. I press send and await her report.

I pour myself a cup of tea, nibble on a piece of chocolate and catch up on that series I missed... but not for long.

There's still one more story to finish. A new story. One last adventure for Viola and her friends. I'll miss them. They've taught me a lot. (The good news is the editing funk is not permanent; when I go back and read the stories next year, it will be all new again.)

Now, where are my notebooks for The Illusioneer?

Photo Friday: Life and Death(?), and a Flash Fiction Bonus

Rumours of my impending doom have been wildly exaggerated. This week I got the results from my twenty-four hour cardiac monitoring I've tried new strategies to curb the heart palpitations and flutterings. Nothing devastating but I do need to have further investigations. (If only I could control anxiety.) I'm working on new strategies - and I've managed five nights in a row without an episode.

  

Writing (and not discussing my previous career) has helped distract me from counterproductive thoughts. I've almost finished rewrites for the first (longer) short,  From the Depths, in Viola's third journal of adventures and am reworking the second story, Tomorrow, When I Die.

We've had record summer rains and everything is so green and full of life (usually everything is dry and brown this time of year).  We've had a few chill nights (huzzah!); I've even finished another octoscarf to sell at the Salisbury Secret Garden markets tomorrow afternoon.

 

And now for a bonus flash fiction.

The girls at the pbafm Words Out Loud radio show have a tradition. They randomly choose five words from a book of their guest for the day. The challenge is to write something, using all five words, in just ten minutes. Contributions get read out on air in the following session. On my visit on the show, the words were from John Malone's latest book of poetry, Seeing Things. The words were: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo. They challenged me on the day; this was my contribution.

Enjoying the View

©2017 Karen J Carlisle

Humphrey was a fashionable snail. At least he thought he was. He'd recently taken up residence by the river. He lounged under his brand new red gazebo and surveyed the spectacular view. A wooden sign by the water shaded the yard from the midday sun. A fine crop of broccoli provided an abundant yield for his supper. Ripples glistened on the water. Perfect. He just couldn't understand why his friends hadn't joined him. Water splashed. He crawled out of the shade and edged toward the water. So cool. So inviting. Why had his friends been so concerned? Humphrey, don't go near the water, they cried. Humphrey leaned closer and touched the water. It shuddered. A large eye blinked under the surface. The piranha licked his lips, flicked his tail and swam away from the bank.
THE END
Why don't you have a go at the five word challenge? You have ten minutes to write something containing all the words: red, yield, snail, piranha and Gazebo.
This fortnight's words from my book, Eye of the Beholder & Other Tales, were: grinding, tranquil, warden, sputtered and jaundiced.
Post your stories or poems in the comments below. I'd love to see what you come up with.
Photos ©2017 Karen J Carlisle