A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Story Building - Music as a muse

Last week I wrote about how a picture is worth a thousand words, and Megan left me this comment:

"I think the concept extends to a piece of music, a dance performance, or other artistic expressions which can inspire as well. There are certain universal truths (joy, love, pain, fear, etc.) which cannot be expressed in regular words. It takes an artistic form to convey them. 

When one artist is able to capture that truth, other artists feel compelled to join in. Not in competition but in harmony of expression. This is why music compels us to dance."

Music doesn't just compel us to dance. It can compel us to write. As Megan says, we feel compelled by our connection to music to reach out and speak the words that it inspires in us. I think that's why so many of us have playlists or radio stations that we listen to as we write. The music we hear brings us the mood we want to set.

I don't have a set playlist for any of my stories. I listen to types of music. When I want to write something intense I listen to gothic/symphonic metal like Within Temptation, Delain, and Krypteria. When I'm writing something quieter, I listen to classical music from Bach, Mozart, and Pachelbel. When I'm writing something lively, I listen to folk music like Faun or Blackmore's Night. Each sound inspires something different in me and that inspiration bleeds down into my writing.

Sometimes I write in silence, needing to be alone with my thoughts. Other times I'll have something like a movie or anime playing in the background as I write. But mostly I play music. I get my music from Pandora or IHeartRadio, and the stations that I've created work very well for me (for the most part).

What about you? What music do you listen to as you write? Do you have a specific playlist you use for each character or story? Do you have specific songs that you equate to certain characters? Or do you not listen to anything at all?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - How paths can change

You all know how excited I was to return to the evil day job. I've been trying for weeks to get in and get my paperwork signed. I got it signed and submitted and was finally allowed to return to work. I started work last Friday.

Now here it is Thursday and I'm making my preparations to quit my day job permanently.

I won't go into the gruesome details. No one needs that. But my health issues have made it abundantly clear in the last week that I can't return to work. My goal of getting back to work so I'd have insurance again is going to have to be put on the back burner as I struggle with my personal health issues. I may or may not go back to work in the future. I don't know. It's a toss up, depending on how my issues resolve themselves over the next few months.

I was so excited. I was ready to go back to work. This staying at home thing wasn't for me. I was looking forward to seeing old friends again and making new ones. I even wanted to see my manager again. She's a tough lady but fair, and I loved working with her. She was glad to see I was feeling well enough to come back to work. We've been making plans to get me onto a new schedule and onto the new contract. Everything was coming together.

And now I have to give it all up.

That hurts a lot. I've been looking forward to this for a while now and now I have to give it up. The question is what else can I do with my life? I can of course go back to writing full time. And I plan on doing that. I have some short stories I'm going to self publish as soon as I get them cleaned up. I haven't touched them for a few years and they're in dire need of polishing, given all that I've learned in the past few years. I'm going to edit Marked and write Cracked World, Burning Dreams, Shifting Sands, and the as yet unnamed last book in that series. I've got other books set in this world that I want to write, as well as other novels waiting to be written. I'm going to push forward with being a full time writer.

But where does that leave me? Abandoning a life I've lived for the past 20 years, and not sure of what my future will bring me. I have no idea if my writing is going to be successful. I have no idea if I'm even going to manage to be published. I know how to work in a call center. I know how to work in an office. Yes, I know how to write. But I'm not sure I know how to write well enough to be published. I'm not sure if anyone will like my stories well enough to see me get published. I just don't know anymore.

But that uncertainty can do one of two things. It can bog me down, drag me into depression, and leave me to splutter and die on the edge of my own life. Or it can drive me to learn, to study, to become better and maybe achieve that elusive dream of being published. I know which path I want to take. Now it's up to me to take it.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing Wednesday - David Eddings

Yet another one of my favorite authors is David Eddings. David Eddings was born in Spokane, WA on July 7, 1931 and died in Carson City, NV on June 2, 2009. Eddings published twenty seven novels. Most of these novels were in the category of epic fantasy, though three of those novels published were outside the fantasy genre.

Eddings wrote five major series: the Belgariad, the Mallorean, the Elenium, the Tamuli, and the Dreamers. While I don't know much about the Dreamers, I know the other four very well. I've read those sixteen books repeatedly over the last several years. The Belgariad and the Mallorean follow the adventures of Belgarion, a scullery boy turned king, and his family. The Elenium and the Tamuli follow the aging knight Sparhawk on his adventures across two continents and the war between two primal forces of the universe that he's a pawn in.

There are ancillary tales to the Belgariad and the Mallorean: Belagarath the Sorcerer, Polgara the Sorceress, and the Rivan Codex. Though the Rivan Codex is less a story and more a blueprint to the Belgariad and the Mallorean. I've also read all three of these books numerous times.

David Eddings wrote most of his books with the help of his wife Leigh. She passed away in 2007 from a series of strokes. Eddings still continued writing after her death, though the manuscript he was working on was never finished or published. Rather it, and most of his papers, were donated to Reed College in Portland, OR.

Eddings first stirrings of writing in the fantasy genre were generated by him doodling a map early one morning before he went to work. He put it aside for several years before seeing a copy of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy in a book store made him realize that perhaps the world of fantasy might hold some acclaim for him. He began annotating and refining that previously forgotten sketch and eventually it became the basis for his world of Aloria, in the Belgariad and Mallorean.

I don't remember when I first discovered David Eddings. I just know I devoured every book of his that I could get my hands on. I checked them out from the library over and over again, and at one point I owned every fantasy book he'd written except for the Dreamers series. Over the years I've since lost my collection but I look forward to the day when I can once again claim ownership of Eddings' works. Though now I'll probably have to hunt down his Dreamers series just so I can see what they're about.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Marked

Here's another snippet from the rough draft of Marked. It's rough and I don't know how much of it will make the final cut. But here it is.

Sorcha walked through the night to her cave. “You seem to be settling in,” Colwyn said, emerging from the shadows.
Sorcha stopped and turned to face him. A cold breeze blew through the valley, sending shivers up her spine. Or was it the look of Colwyn’s face in the moonlight that chilled her. “I’ve only been here a day,” she said. “I’m not sure I’ve been here long enough to know if I’m settling in or not.”
“You’ve already chosen a profession,” Colwyn said. “Something most of those who came in with you haven’t even attempted yet.”
“Manus and Dermot made it sound like I had to make my decision right away,” Sorcha said.
“You could have taken time to figure out what you wanted to do,” Colwyn said.
“I’m happy with my decision,” Sorcha said.
“I hope you don’t come to dislike your decision. Once you’ve made that choice you aren’t able to change it,” Colwyn said.
“Did you really think I didn’t notice you were trying to force me to fall behind?” Sorcha asked, hands on her hips. “I talked to the others. Now you’re trying to tell me I don’t know my own mind. Do you have any respect for people, or do you make these decisions based on some need to feel superior to everyone else?”
“I respect those who have earned it,” Colwyn said.
“And what would I have to do to earn it?” Sorcha asked. “Never mind. Don’t bother answering me. I don’t think I want to know.” She turned and stalked off back to her cave.
She stumbled in through her door, muttering some words her aunt would have taken a broom to her to hear coming out of her mouth. She still hadn’t remembered to ask the others about how she was supposed to light her lamps. She stripped out of her clothes and curled up on her bed. She closed her eyes and tried to go to sleep.
Her hair was tangling in the wind as she flew through the air. A strong arm held her in place as the horse beneath her surged and ran. “Faster papa, faster,” she cried.
“If we go any faster we’ll be flying,” her father said.
She giggled. “Make the horse fly, papa.”
“Only magic could make him fly, little dreamer,” her father said. “Let’s go back to mama now.”
“No. More riding,” she said.
“It’s almost time for lunch,” her father said. “We need to go back.”
“All right,” she said. The horse slowed as it turned but picked up speed again. She laughed and clung to her father’s arm.
Sorcha woke up with tears running down her cheeks. She wiped them off with the back of her hand. It was obvious she’d been loved, but by who? Her dreams had died out over the cycles, only coming once in a great while. Now, two days in the valley, and she’d had two dreams. The first one was a common dream, one she’d had many times especially when she was a young child. But the second, that one was new.
“Is it that goddess Lord Mikhael spoke of?” Sorcha wondered aloud. She shook her head. She didn’t believe in the gods, though her aunt and uncle would be shocked to hear her say it. She felt privately that the gods had long since abandoned the world. In her village alone, there had been two men who’d beaten their wives to death, a mother who murdered her own children because she thought they were demons, and more brawls and theft than her uncle had felt comfortable with. That was why he only went into town once a lunar, and why he’d started taking Paskal with him when he went in instead of going by himself.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Maundering - How I met Himself

I don't know if I've ever put this story here or not, but I was thinking about how long we've been together (14 years, married for 11 as of this Halloween) and was amazed at it because the two of us have very different personalities. He's a very outgoing, outspoken person while I tend to be more reserved and withdrawn. It makes for some interesting situations, that's for sure. And some interesting arguments and discussions.

But back to the reason for this post: how I met Himself.

In 1999 I had hit what I thought was rock bottom. My two year relationship had ended badly at the end of '98 and I was still feeling a little depressed because of it. I'd failed out of college and then lost the job I'd held for two years due to a lot of issues. I was working temp jobs and living at home, not even able to support myself.

Then my older sister had an idea. Why not go to Job Corps and get some more training on being an office admin? For those that don't know, Job Corps is an organization that takes low income students from 16-24 and teaches them real life job skills. There are several different trades, among them dental assistant, clerical, culinary arts, carpentry, masonry, and painting. (These are the ones I can remember from my time in Job Corps. There may be others.) You live on their campus in dorms and your entire eight hour day is spent submerged in learning how to do the trade you've selected. You get paid a monthly stipend, and when I was enrolled you got a clothing allowance when you first arrived and then every six months after that to update your professional wardrobe.

There were also recreational activities that you could participate in and you were encouraged to socialize with the people around you. Trips to the mall or to the movie theater were common occurrences and arts and crafts and video games were also very prevalent.

I was 22 and in dire need of a better education. I'd flunked out of college due to health reasons and I couldn't get back in. I couldn't get more student loans because of my previous grades and the fact that I hadn't been able to make more than a few token payments on my student loans before that. I was a mess and I needed a change of scenery.

So I enrolled in Job Corps. While there is a campus in Idaho, I wanted out of the state for a while. So I asked to be sent out of state. I was sent to Cascades Job Corps in Sedro-Woolley, WA. I took the Greyhound to Mount Vernon, WA where me and several other hopefuls were picked up by the security officers for the center and taken to our new home away from home.

I was there for a few days when I fell into the gamer crowd. I was rolling up a D&D character, but I couldn't remember how as it had been almost ten years since I'd played the game. A young man with slicked back hair and a perpetual attitude came up and helped me. I thought his arrogance was off putting and after he'd helped me I thanked him but didn't want anything more to do with him. As you may have guessed, this was Himself.

Well, the first two weeks at Job Corps were spent in Orientation. At the end of those two weeks, the culinary arts students hosted a banquet for the new graduates before we all headed off either into our trade or into the high school program so those enrolled could get their G.E.D.s or an actual high school diploma, whichever they decided they wanted to do. Guess who was in charge of the banquet? That's right. It was Himself. Himself came into our class several times over the final week to make sure he knew our dietary restrictions (we had one girl who wouldn't eat pork, a vegetarian, and me on medication who couldn't have caffeine.) He was very courteous to us and the arrogance I'd seen when he was helping me with my D&D character wasn't apparent.

The banquet went off without a problem. We all talked and laughed and had a good time. Himself and the other two culinary arts students who were helping him serve were all very attentive and took good care of us. Now here's where it gets a little odd for me. After the banquet, myself and the vegetarian were the last two to leave. Himself and his helpers came in to clear up. For no apparent reason that I can fathom or understand, I walked up to him and gave him a hug. Remember, I'm painfully shy and awkward around people and I didn't really like him. But I gave him a hug and thanked him for the nice banquet. He was as shocked as I was and I quickly made my escape.

Later, we were wandering around the center grounds because it was the normal lunch hour. (OEP banquet was held before lunch because everyone else had to eat their lunch too.) I saw him in a gazebo smoking. I walked up to him and again, randomly and not normally for me, I gave him another hug. He looked me up and down and asked me if I was seeing anyone. I told him no. Then he asked me if I'd like to go out with him. I said a rather hyper sounding yes. And that was that. The two of us started dating.

Barring four months of painful separation due to a fight brought on by a rather touchy situation with his family, we've been together ever since. A random hug, something I still don't understand why I did to this very day, led me to 14 years with a man that I love and who I'm sure loves me back. Job Corps was an interesting experience, though not one I'd care to repeat. I learned a lot and gained a relationship that has lasted through some of the toughest times of my life.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday 'fess up - Some good news at last

So, this week started on a good note and ended on a good note. On Monday, I heard back from my HR representative. I was cleared to go back to work. She'd get in contact with my manager and either she or my manager would call me back. I was thrilled with that.

Then I didn't hear anything from anyone all week. So Thursday I called my manager and left her a message. She called me back Friday morning and asked if I was coming into work Friday afternoon. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to get back to work. So, now I work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. My Sunday shift is 1-6. My weekday shift is 4-9. I'm only part time until November. Then I get to go back to work full time. I'm excited though. It feels good to be back to work, even if it's at the same soul sucking job I left a year ago with no intention of going back.

I have a new appreciation for my job, now that I've been out of it for a year. I realize it is a hard job and that it's not for everyone. But I know I can do it. I've had a year to think about it and realize just what I want to do with my life. Right now, what I want to do is pay off all my debt. I need a job to do that. So I'll work and pay off my debt and eventually I'll be debt free again. That is my goal now.

On the writing front, since I've scrapped Cracked World, I haven't done as much writing this week. I'm building a timeline of historical events, since those are going to shape the world. And then I'm going to do a timeline/outline of events in Cracked World so I have some direction for the story. This also means I'm probably going to have to rewrite some major sections of Marked too but I'm not worrying about that right now.

Nothing much else to report this week. I expect I'll have more to say about the day job next week, after I've been back at it for a week.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Story Building - A picture is worth a thousand words

How many times have we heard the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words"? I know I've heard it a lot since I was a child. I know that I'm often inspired by a photo or a painting or a sketch I see. I've seen fantasy art that's inspired me to write stories. I've seen old black and white photos and wondered about the lives of the people in them. I've even written a few stories based on these things.

I love looking at fantasy art. The three places I go the most often are DeviantArtElfwood, and Epilogue. Now, Elfwood and DeviantArt have a lot of amateur pieces so you have to pick your way through the galleries. Epilogue is a lot pickier about what they accept so it's easier to find good fantasy and science fiction art there.

But those pictures are not the only places I've drawn my inspiration. Pictures of ancient Roman ruins have inspired buildings in my stories. Photos of recreated ancient houses and ships have given me ideas on how to make the same things in my world more realistic. Pictures of fashion through the ages gives me an idea of how to pattern the clothing of the characters of my stories.

So go find a picture that inspires you and write your 1000 words.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - Video games and writers

I know this is going to sound odd, but I believe that writers should play video games. I don't mean just any video games either. Play the ones with stories behind them. Learn how the stories are told. It's a great way to see storytelling through a different medium.

Now, I'll admit my video game of choice doesn't have a specific story behind it. Instead it inspires me to write my own stories as I play. That would be Sims 3. I hope one day to have Sims Medieval because that fits better with the type of stories I normally write but I have fun playing Sims 3 because I get to make characters and decide what they do with their lives.

Sometimes the Sims do what they want to do instead of waiting for me to tell them to do something. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's annoying, sometimes it's necessary. But that's how characters are when it comes to writing stories too. There are days where my characters don't do what I want them to do because as far as they're concerned it doesn't fit with the story. They're usually right, and I write them the way they want to be written. There are those times however where I refuse to budge on my vision and they grudgingly fall in line with what I'm writing.

I'm not suggesting you spend all your free time playing video games. Then you wouldn't get any writing done and then what would be the point of being a writer? Take an hour or two a day, or a week, or however you want to do it. Find a video game that draws your attention and looks like it has a fascinating story. Sit down and play that video game. Get to know the characters, the story, and the mechanics behind the game.

Who knows? You might find a story idea or a way out of writer's block if you're suffering from that.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writing Wednesday - Andre Norton

I want to introduce you to another of my favorite authors - Andre Norton. Andre Norton was a science fiction and fantasy writer who wrote starting in the 1940's up to her death in 2005. She was the first woman to be Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy, first to be SFWA Grand Master, and first inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

Andre Norton was born Alice Mary Norton. She was born in 1912. She went to school to become a teacher but when the Depression hit she went to work for a library. She started writing at this time, publishing a few short stories under the name of Andrew North. In 1934 she legally changed her name to Andre Alice Norton to make it easier to sell her stories, because the name was more masculine and the target audience at that time for fantasy and science fiction was boys.

Norton's longest running series was her Witch World series. 31 books and several short stories spanning almost four decades. It is the series she is best known for, though she had several other books and short stories published.

Andre Norton was a prolific writer, even when her poor health began to impact her ability to write. She kept up with writing projects up until close to the day she died. Her final project was a sequel to a Dungeons and Dragons book she'd written back in the '60's. It was finished by her co-author and published in 2006.

I've read most of the Witch World books, and several of her other stories. I grew up reading Andre Norton's books, as they were among the more popular books in my parents' library. Her and Anne McCaffrey made up a lot of my early reading adventures. If you've never read any of her books, check them out.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Beauty and the Beast

I have a problem with faerie tale princesses all being perfect and pretty and blah. So here is the introduction of my "princess", and a childhood trauma that will shape her life.

Rosalyn held up the candle. Her hands shook as her head spun. Her chest hurt and it was hard to breathe. She took a moment to steady herself and then went looking for her children. The faint light was just enough for her to see by, though she couldn't see much in the way of details. She took a few steps forward. Her foot caught on something. She looked down.
Fergal groaned and sat up. “That hurt,” he mumbled, still more than a little dazed. Rosalyn left him to gather himself as she went in search of the others.
She found Tristan next. His breathing was fast and shallow, and his skin was cool to the touch. But he was alive, and that was the important thing.
Allegra and Johanna were lying in a heap together. Both of their eyes were open but there was no sense in their faces. Rosalyn made sure to untangle them before resuming her search.
Rosalyn searched every corner of the room but didn't see her youngest daughter. “Fergal?”
“I'm here, mother,” Fergal said. He staggered over to her, a candle in his hand. He lit it from hers.
“Caitlyn's not here,” Rosalyn said. “I'm going to look in the other rooms. Keep an eye on the others.”
“Yes mother,” Fergal said.
Rosalyn held her candle high in the air. She searched room to room on the first floor of the strange house but she still couldn't find Caitlyn. Dread clutched Rosalyn's heart in an icy grip.
A small whimper to her left turned her steps towards the stairs. The light from the flickering candle fell on a bloody, mangled body lying on the steps. For a moment, Rosalyn was reminded of a doll lying broken and discarded on the nursery floor. She let out a strangled cry and knelt at Caitlyn's side.
“Mother?” Fergal called.
“Stay with the others,” Rosalyn said again. She pulled her scarf off and carefully wiped the blood off Caitlyn's face. Caitlyn whimpered again. “It's all right, kitten. Mama's here.”
The entire right side of Caitlyn's upper body and face were torn, like she'd been raked by the claws of a wild beast. Her eyes were open but her pupils were mere pinpricks in a sea of green. Rosalyn reached again for her magic. It refused to come. She had nothing left.
Rosalyn carefully lifted her injured daughter into her arms. She carried her into the room where the other children were waiting. “What's happened?” Fergal asked.
“The gods have abandoned me,” Rosalyn said. “My magic is spent and Caitlyn – Caitlyn is hurt.”

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Maundering - Cute cat videos

I don't have much to say today. So here are some cute cat videos I found on youtube for your entertainment.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday 'fess up - It's about damn time

Remember last week how I was grousing about not getting my paperwork filled out in a timely manner? Well it finally happened this week. But not without a lot of hair pulling on my part.

My clinician left the practice a little over a month ago. I was seeing an intern in the interim because I'm being seen pro bono. Well, that intern couldn't fill out the paperwork so she was going to pass the information on to her supervisor. Well, her supervisor thought it was all about more counseling so she was ignoring me. I finally started calling her directly and eventually got things sorted out. Or so I thought.

The day before the paperwork was due she called me back to tell me that she couldn't fill it out because I wasn't seeing any of her people regularly enough for them to make any sort of judgment call on my ability to go back to work, or even the validity of my original diagnosis. So it looked like I wasn't going back to work after all. Then I had an idea.

I called my regular doctor. I've had other problems crop up that he's seeing me for so I decided to see if he'd fill out the paperwork. Not only did he fill it out, he resolved some of my other issues for me too. So we got the paperwork faxed in and now I get to wait and see if it's good enough for my employer to accept it.

In other news, I've been slowly making progress on Cracked World this week. I've been having some trouble in getting into the main character's head but I've been able to work around that. I'm looking forward to getting to a certain point in the book, so I'm really working hard to make it there. I doubt I'll make it before I go back to work, but I'm going to try anyway.

I've played a little Sims 3 this week too. There was one day where I was just too stressed to even think about writing so I went and did something completely different. I love Sims 3. I wish I had the money to get all the expansions and all the stuff packs. There's 20 of the buggers now. I have Sims 3, World Adventures, Ambitions, Generations, Supernatural, and Pets. As soon as I get some money to spend, I'm going to buy another one of the expansions. Or maybe one of the stuff packs. As that will be some time from now I've got the time to make up my mind.

That's it for this week. Keep your eyes on the blog. I'll be updating everyone as soon as I hear back from my employer when I'm able to go back to work. If I'm able to go back to work. If my regular doctor, who wasn't the one who signed me out of work, is sufficient enough to get me back into work. Crossing my fingers!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday story building - HEA and HFN: Do we need it in every story?

Last week I talked a little about the romance genre, and I was reminded of one of the tropes that is characteristic of that genre. That is the "happily ever after" or at least "happy for now" ending for the hero/heroine. My question is do we need that in every genre?

My opinion is no we don't. There doesn't have to be a HEA or a HFN in other genres. In horror there generally isn't one to speak of, at least that I've noticed not being an aficionado of that particular genre. But in fantasy and sci fi, the two genres I primarily write in, what are the requirements for endings?

Two of my stories I have endings that can go either way. I can make them a HFN ending or I can totally screw with the reader and kill off my darlings. I'm leaning towards killing off my darlings, because that's not something I've seen a lot of. But my problem is how is that going to affect the reader? Are they going to read the rest of my books? Would that be a betrayal to my readers/fans if I killed off the main characters they've grown attached to in the books?

That's the biggest question as an author that I have to ask: do I need it? Do I need a HEA/HFN to keep my readers? Or can I get away with doing what I'm thinking and making it a tragically heroic ending for the characters in question? Well, one of them at least. I know in one of my sci fi series the ending I have planned for one of my main characters is rather ambiguous at best but still a valid ending because it leaves some hope.

All this rambling still leads to this one question: in fantasy and sci fi, do we need a HEA/HFN ending for the main characters?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - Public assistance

I hate being on public assistance. It's one of the reasons I'm going back to work. I've tried it. It doesn't sit well with me. I feel humiliated every time I pull out my SNAP card to buy my groceries. It's been necessary to survive while I've been out of work on disability and Himself hasn't been able to bring in much in the way of money. But it's still embarrassing.

I've paid into the system for most of my adult life, so it's no surprise that when I absolutely needed it I took advantage of it. But there are so many people out there in worse shape than I am who are on it who would also like to get off of it. There are those stereotypical people who work the system and stay on welfare all their lives. That's going to happen with any such system. But the vast majority of the people on public assistance don't want to be there. They want to be able to afford food and medical care on their own.

The other problem is there are too many people who are working who need public assistance but because they make "too much money" they can't get it. People are having to choose what bills to pay and what bills to put off just to put food on the table. The working poor can't afford food or medical care, and yet the government says they're not poor enough to need help. Yet they are.

There are people who need public assistance who can't get it. And there are people on public assistance who shouldn't be on it but are because they know how to work the system. How is this fair? We need to overhaul the public assistance. I don't believe we should do away with it. I've needed it and been grateful, if embarrassed, to have it. But we need to make it a fairer distribution of goods and services, so more people can be helped who need it and those that are abusing the system can be removed.

One of the first things I'd like to see implemented is drug testing for those who apply for public assistance. That way those who abuse drugs are taken off the system. I think the authorities should be alerted to their positive drug tests so the proper people can get involved to help the families. I don't necessarily think they should go to jail, but concentrated help to get them off of the drugs and back into being productive members of society should be implemented.

I think if there are children in the house, the limits for food and medical assistance should be different than if it's just adults in the house. I think the bar should be set lower for families with children, though I think it should be lowered for adults too. Just not quite as far.

I'd like to see programs like Medicaid made available to everyone, not just families with children and disabled adults. I'd also like the limit to be different because even now there are people with disabilities who are on permanent disability who "make too much" to get on Medicaid. Even if it's only by a few dollars, they can't get the help they need. And to get on Medicare for them takes two years unless they're in their mid 60's.

Get the help out there for people who truly need it, and get those people who are abusing the system off of it. That's my opinion on public assistance. I'd love to hear yours.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Writing Wednesday - Anne McCaffrey

Going on with my theme of sharing some of my favorite authors, let me introduce you to another author who inspired me: Anne McCaffrey.

Anne McCaffrey was a very prolific writer. Her career spanned 46 years and more books than I can safely count. Her most well known books are her books about the planet Pern. She wrote 17 of the existing 22 books. Her son Todd has taken over writing the Pern books, at first with her and later after her death alone. Another set of books that I love are her FT&T books, the most prolific being her The Tower and the Hive series.

Anne McCaffrey was born in 1926 in Massachusetts and died in 2011 in Ireland, where she'd become a naturalized Irish citizen. The first Pern story was published in 1967. In 1968 McCaffrey won a Hugo Award for best novella based on her world of Pern. In 1969 she won a Nebula Award for another one of her Pern novellas. Both of these novellas were eventually combined into her first book Dragonflight.

Anne McCaffrey wrote several different series and created many different worlds. She populated these worlds with strong men and women, drawing the readers into the story with memorable characters such as F'lar and Lessa of Benden Weyr and the Rowan and Jeff Raven from FT&T. She created characters that spoke to the readers and gave a glimpse of a future world that we could only dream of.

Anne McCaffrey showed me that a woman could write science fiction as well as a man could, and in some ways better because she tended not to marginalize women like so many science fiction books did in the 60's and 70's. She inspired me to look beyond my world and imagine many others.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Marked

I know it's rough, but here's a bit from the novel that dominated my thoughts for two months while I wrote the first draft. An excerpt near the beginning of Marked.

They reached the village a candlemark later. “Evan, good morning.” One of the villagers waved to Evan. “Who did you bring in today?”
“My son in law Paskal and my niece Sorcha,” Evan said.
“The girl with the lame leg?” the villager asked.
“It’s not entirely lame,” Evan said. “She has use of it. She’s been cooped up on the freehold for the last several lunari and wanted a break from it.”
“Well, keep her close. There are some strangers in town and I don’t like the looks of them,” the villager said.
“Strangers?” Evan asked.
“Imperial soldiers with gray cloaks,” the villager said. “There’s only two of them now but they said that there’ll be more coming soon. They’re looking for those possessed by demons. They’re supposed to be hunting for people with some strange mark on them. Something like a spider web I think they said.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Evan said. He looked over his shoulder. “Sorcha, don’t leave the cart. Don’t talk to the soldiers unless they approach you. Play dumb.”
“Yes Uncle Evan,” Sorcha said. She shrugged her shoulders, feeling her shirt brush against the strange birthmark that reminded her of a twisted spider web.
“Evan, what’s wrong?” Paskal asked.
“We get our supplies and we get back to the farm,” Evan said. “We don’t linger today.”
“Yes Evan,” Paskal said.
They hurried through their errands, speaking only with those who stopped them. Everyone in the village seemed on edge and no one was gossiping as openly as they usually did. Sorcha saw the two soldiers her uncle’s friend mentioned swaggering through the streets.
“You there. We haven’t seen you in town before this,” one of the soldiers said, accosting Evan as he loaded sacks of grain into the back of the cart. “Why is that?”
“I own a freehold a few miles out of the village,” Evan said. “I only come in once a lunar to get supplies and to trade.”
“Well then you won’t know this. We’re here hunting for demons. We’ll be checking your freehold when the rest of our company gets here in a lunar,” the man said. “I hope for your sake you aren’t sheltering one of the demons when we come out there. If you are, your whole family will die.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Evan said.
Once they were out of town, Evan started swearing. “Uncle Evan,” Sorcha began.
“Hush Sorcha,” Evan said.
“What’s wrong?” Paskal asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” Evan said. “Paskal, don’t talk about this conversation to anyone on the farm. I’ll tell Noemi but this isn’t anything to worry the others with.”
“If that’s what you want, Evan,” Paskal said.
“Now be silent. I need to think about this,” Evan said.
The ride back to the farm was quiet. Sorcha’s thoughts ran in circles. She was a threat to her family. The birthmark marked her as demon possessed to these men and she would be killed for it. She couldn’t let her family die to protect her but she couldn’t see any way for her to escape.
They reached the freehold. Paskal and Evan started unloading the cart. Sorcha slowly climbed out and went to the house. “Sorcha, good timing. Can you bring the laundry in?”
“Yes Aunt Noemi,” Sorcha said. She automatically grabbed the basket and headed out to the lines without thinking about it. Her mind was still on the encounter in the village.
“Stop thinking about it,” Evan said as he passed her. “We’ll take care of it.” Sorcha nodded but her mind continued to churn.
“I’m taking the cart back to Olaf,” Evan said. “Anyone want to come with me?”
“I’ll go,” Eduard said.
“Is your work done?” Evan asked.
“Yes it is,” Eduard said.
“He’s done, father,” Catriona said.
“Then go ahead and climb on,” Evan said. “Noemi, when I get back we need to talk.”

“All right, Evan,” Noemi said. Evan clucked at the horses and headed out to return the cart.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Maundering - Where there's smoke there's fire

And I do mean that literally. Around here, we're surrounded by wildfires. The smoke is pretty thick in places in town. My dad woke up to ash on his cars on Friday. My dad sat down and showed me in the paper today the map they posted of the areas affected by the fires. The two major routes my family always took to go for picnics and rides are blocked by fire.

Another route we used to take is blocked by a manhunt looking for a murderer and the 16 year old daughter of one of his victims. The Valley county police force has borrowed as many officers from neighboring counties as can be spared. Someone saw the man and his victim in a state park so now they're focusing their search in that area. The guy abandoned his car but they're afraid to search it for fear it's been booby trapped.

I often wonder when I read these stories what drives people to kill, to kidnap, to rape, to physically harm another human. I don't understand what drives people to emotionally harm another human either. What is it in their psyche that drives people to do this?

Some people say it's a chemical imbalance. Others say it's due to some traumatic event in their childhood. Still others say that the offenders were victimized so they see that as the only way to be. I don't know that any of these are entirely right or wrong. I just know that there are some people out there that are so fundamentally broken that they get a rush from hurting other people.

I think it's sick. What makes it even sicker is how it's glorified by the media. Rape culture is alive and well in America, where it's okay for a man to rape a woman because "she deserved it." Murderers become something of a celebrity. They dominate the news feeds for weeks at a time. To me, this just feeds into their egos and drives them to kill even more. It also inspires a new generation of criminals to try to outdo their predecessors. I think that's one of the reasons we end up with serial killers.

We need to stop giving criminals the ego boost of showcasing their crimes on national media like they're some kind of twisted celebrity. I've heard the argument that if we don't show their crimes, they'll escalate to try to get the attention of the media and will not stop until they get the attention that they want. I don't know if that's true but I do wish mainstream media would stop glorifying crime and instead showcase something that would better our world, like scientific discoveries or medical breakthroughs. Or just the general kindness of strangers and the generosity of those who don't always have much to give. Uplifting stories, stories that educate, rather than stories that glorify violence.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday 'fess up - Grrrrrrr

This week has not gone at all like I planned. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed myself immensely this week. But I didn't get as much done on the story as I hoped to. I've been distracted by running errands and getting out of the house with Himself most of this week. It's been pleasant, if a little busy.

The main reason I'm frustrated though is my clinician's office still hasn't called me back to help me fill out the paperwork I need to have filled out before I'm allowed to go back to work. They keep telling me they'll pass on the message but nothing has happened. I'm going to keep calling every day until I get a firm answer. It's not that difficult. Read my file, copy down the info from my file onto the paperwork, and let me get my ass back to work. It's that simple.

Of course, they apparently don't think it's that simple. I could fill out the paperwork myself, except that's kind of illegal. Medical fraud and all that. Don't think the thought didn't cross my mind though. But knowing my luck they'd call my clinician's office to verify the information and I'd get caught. I'd not only lose my job but I'd probably get criminal charges laid on me. I don't want to go through that so I'll just be the exceptionally annoying squeaky wheel.

As I said, writing this week didn't happen. I maybe got 2000 words this whole week. So I'm going to try to improve that number this coming week. It all depends on how things go with Himself and with my clinician's office.

Himself signed a rather nice contract to build some kind of web page for a client that's netting him a fair bit of money. I don't know all the details but it's nice to have a steady income coming in now from him. That's why we've been running every place this week. We've been taking care of some things we've neglected because of a lack of funds.

Well that's enough rambling from me today. Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Story Building - Genres and sub-genres/Romance

Now, I'm not a huge romance reader. I've read some Regencies, a few paranormal romances, and lately a friend's BDSM erotica series. I've never really been into the bodice rippers from Harlequin, though I've read a few of those as well. Most of the romances I've read, as I said in the beginning, are Regency era romances. They have a plot, interesting characters, and aren't all about the sex. In fact, in most Regencies that I've read sex doesn't even come into it.

But a lot of people read romances. The dashing hero and the fair heroine must overcome some kind of obstacle to their love. Sometimes there's sex. Sometimes there's not. Sometimes the heroine doesn't end up with the man she originally wanted, though she's no less in love with the second man she gets. In arranged marriage stories, she usually falls in love eventually with her husband. There are so many tropes that show up in romance stories, but that's half the fun of reading them.

There are a lot of fantasy and science fiction books out there with an element of romance in them. I've read a lot of those. A romantic interest in stories adds depth to the character and can lead to some interesting problems as you go through the story.

One of the consistent things about romance novels is the HEA - Happily Ever After. You have to resolve the issues and bring your hero and heroine together in the end so they can ride off into the sunset or whatever you have them doing. But you have to have the HEA or it's not a romance novel.

What are your favorite romance novels? Who are your favorite authors?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - The importance of reading to an author

Authors write books. That's pretty obvious. What isn't so obvious is that we writers should also be reading books. Not just books in our genre, but books outside our area of expertise. Anything and everything we can get our hands on we should be reading.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a picky reader. I tend to stick to my genres, even going so far as to stick mostly to fantasy since that's what I write. I have a hard time picking up anything else because I don't like taking risks. But I've started reading a friend's BDSM erotica series (and it's awesome...her first book is already out and I'm the beta reader for all of the rest of them). I've read a few non-fiction books lately too. I'm listening to an audio book I got through Audible that's science fiction from one of my favorite authors.

But I'm also trying to work my way through the Song of Ice and Fire series. I've reread a bunch of Tamora Pierce's books. I'm reading a bunch of free fantasy books I've downloaded from Amazon.

I've also gotten a couple of paranormal/urban fantasy books from a friend. I'm reading those. I'm rereading 1662 and 1663, which I suppose are science fantasy because what happens to them is explained using science but it's still fantasy to me.

I'm not saying that we should go out and buy every book on the shelf. I'm just saying if you're a writer, you need to broaden your horizons. I know I do. I need to be more open to other books and other genres. Every book you read is a learning experience. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or encyclopedia. Open your eyes and your mind and read.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Writing Wednesday - Favorite Author: Tamora Pierce

This week, I want to talk about one of my favorite authors and the one who inspired me to start seriously writing fantasy, though I'd been writing silly little stories for a few years by the point I first found her books. Her name is Tamora Pierce.

Tamora Pierce was born in 1953. She started writing at six. Her interest in science fiction and fantasy started, like I'm willing to bet it did for several of us, when she first read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. She began writing books like the ones she was reading and progressed from there.

The books that would become her first quartet, The Song of the Lioness, was written while she was still in college at the University of Pennsylvania. She has since written 28 books and several short stories.

The first books I found were that first quartet: Alanna, The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, Woman Who Rides Like a Man, and Lioness Rampant, though I didn't read Lioness Rampant until several years after I'd read the first three. I loved Alanna. I loved her story. I loved the character. I loved how tough she was and yet the fact that she showed great compassion as well. I loved the love triangle that formed between her and the prince and the king of thieves. I loved all of it. I wanted to write interesting and captivating books like that.

So I started writing more fantasy. I wasn't very good, but what 12 year old is? I didn't give up. Several years later, I stumbled upon her Immortals quartet. Once again I was sucked into the world of Tortall, this time through Daine. Daine was a teenager who'd survived a terrible tragedy to go on to help save the world. The path that she took to get there was amazing and full of wonderful adventures. I loved it.

I've only read the first book in her Protector of the Small books, and I haven't touched any of her others. Though they are on my TBR list for sure. I would highly recommend anyone who likes YA fiction to check out her books. They're a fun read.

You can find Tamora Pierce here or connect with her on Facebook here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday Teaser - Faerie Tale

Well, I thought I'd throw out a bit of a challenge. This is the beginning of one of my rewritten faerie tales and I'm curious to see what people's guesses are as to which one I'm rewriting.

Lord Gaelan Sexton kicked his horse into a gallop. Behind him, two of his soldiers rode close on his heels. Flames flickered to one side of them and the cries of dying men filled the air. Jokiya, please be safe, Gaelan thought as he rode through the night.
The war between King Royston and Queen Anthousa was in its fifth year. It was only natural that it would reach even here, this isolated part of Anthousa’s kingdom where Gaelan kept his estate. Royston’s soldiers were killing and burning everything in sight, hoping to steal Anthousa’s strength.
The hooves of Gaelan’s horse crunched on the gravel drive up to his estate. A single light burned in the nursery window. The front door was broken off its hinges. Three dead servants lay just inside the door. Gaelan handed the reins of his horse to one of his guards. “Stay here,” he said. The second guard followed Gaelan in. Both men drew their swords.
Though most of his household lay dead on the floor, he could see the uniforms from Royston’s soldiers as well mingling with his servants. He crept up the stairs, listening intently to the silence around him.
As they progressed up the stairs, Gaelan checked every room. He and his guard looked for survivors but found only the dead. They reached the nursery. The door was partially ajar. Gaelan pushed it all the way open. He peered into the room.
“No,” he moaned. He rushed into the room and scooped the body of a pale haired woman into his arms. “Jokiya.”
“My lord, we must go,” the guard said. “Queen Anthousa must be made aware of King Royston’s attack here.”
Gaelan rocked back and forth, holding the broken body of his young wife. He buried his face in her neck and sobbed. Suddenly, from the tipped over cradle, there came a thin wail. Gaelan carefully set his wife down. He picked up the flickering lamp and made his way over to it.
There, half covered by the blankets, was an infant. Large blue eyes peered up at him, full of tears. The infant opened its mouth and let out a pitiful cry. Gaelan gasped as he dropped his sword. He carefully lifted the infant into his arms.
“Yulianna,” he breathed, holding the infant close to his chest. He looked at the guard. “We’re taking her with us.”
“My lord, a flight across the contested area with an infant will be too dangerous,” the guard said.
“I am not leaving Yulianna behind,” Gaelan said. “I should have taken Jokiya and Yulianna with me when I left this last time. I didn’t, and Jokiya is dead. I’ll not leave my daughter to the same fate.” He glanced out the window. “We’ll take the path through the Wyrmwood.”
“My lord, you must be mad. We’ll never make it out of the forest,” the guard said. “It is more treacherous than the road through the contested area.”
“We’ll be perfectly safe in the Wyrmwood,” Gaelan said. He set down the lamp and picked up his sword. He sheathed it and wrapped his daughter tightly in her blanket. He grabbed a small satchel and filled it with her clothes. He handed the baby to the guard for a moment. He scooped Jokiya’s body back up into his arms.
Gaelan kissed her cold lips. He reached behind her neck and unfastened a strange glittering pendant that shone with green fire even in the dim light of the lamp. He tucked it into his pouch and took his daughter back. The guard led the way down the stairs and back to the horses.
“My lord, we must leave quickly before Royston’s soldiers return,” the second guard said, holding the lord’s horse steady.
Gaelan laced Yulianna into his tunic. “They won’t return tonight. They have no reason to,” he said.
“Where to?” the second guard asked.
“The Wyrmwood,” Gaelan said. “It’s our only passage out of the contested region.”
“My lord you’re mad,” the second guard said. “No one has ridden through the Wyrmwood and made it out the other side.”
“Jokiya and I have made the trip several times,” Gaelan said. “I know the path.” Yulianna cried out again. “We don’t have a choice. The main road is too dangerous.”
“Yes my lord,” the second guard said.
“Seth, Connell, have I ever led you down the wrong path?” Gaelan asked.
“No my lord,” Seth said. Connell echoed him.
“Then trust me. We’ll make it through the Wyrmwood,” Gaelan said. He pulled himself onto his horse.
They rode back the way they came. When they reached the fork in the road, they turned right. The massive forest known as the Wyrmwood loomed in front of them. Gaelan led the way onto an unseen track beneath the trees.
For several hours they rode slowly through the shadows. Strange noises often spooked the horses and the men held tight to their reins. “My lord, are you sure you know where you’re going?” Connell asked. “I can barely see my horse’s ears in this darkness.”
“I’m sure. We’re on the right path,” Gaelan said. “Just be patient.”
There was no warning. Darkness turned to day and several shapes materialized from beyond the trees. “Lord Gaelan, why have you come to the Wyrmwood? Where is Jokiya?” A fair haired man with a long sword stepped forward and took hold of Gaelan’s reins.
“She’s dead, Tiedenn,” Gaelan said. “The mad king’s soldiers killed everyone in the house.”
“Why do you carry Jokiya’s heart then?” Tiedenn demanded.
“Because Yulianna lives,” Gaelan said. “I intend to give Jokiya’s heart to Yulianna when she is old enough to wear it.”
There was a murmur like the sighing of wind through the leaves, yet no breeze stirred the air. “You would uphold the pact through your daughter?” Tiedenn asked.
“Yes,” Gaelan said.
“Then we will open the way for you,” Tiedenn said. “Do not forget your promise. We will watch Yulianna, and come to her aid if she ever needs us.”

“Thank you, Tiedenn,” Gaelan said. The strange beings parted and the light faded. A clear path spread in front of them. “Let’s ride. The path will only remain open until dawn.” He kicked his horse into a trot, his guards right behind him.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Maundering - Random babble again

I don't really have a purpose for today's post, except to ramble along about whatever crosses my mind. You have been warned.

Let's talk the media - specifically news outlets. I don't get my news from the mainstream outlets anymore. At least not the ones here in the U.S. Fox News, MSNBC, CBS, CNN, ABC, none of them. Firstly, I don't have tv. So everything I do is online or via the radio. And even on the radio I'm listing to NPR and PRI (a lot from the BBC, especially at night). BBC is the only mainstream media I listen to. I get better reporting on what's going on in the world from them than I do from our own newscasters.

I also read Huffington Post. I'll admit that they can be a little one sided as well, but at least I'm more likely to be given the facts behind a situation than I am with the other media outlets. If someone posts a link to another online news site, I'll go read that too. I'm very ecumenical. I give everyone a chance to tell me their version of the same story - as long as it's not Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the others like them.

Names. What's in a name? My friend Joelle got a lot of comments on one of her blog posts about how she has a male character who uses the name 'The Queen'. He's not a drag queen. He's a very dominant personality. He's actually a dom in her BDSM book series. He's a fascinating character and very complex. As of yet, I don't know how he got the name but I'm sure it would be an interesting story to learn.

What we call ourselves is our business. I have my real name, which I don't generally use online. And I have my pen name, which is what people online know me by. There was a transgender woman (male to female) at my work place who preferred to be called Michelle. She was a sweet, wonderful woman. But some people couldn't get past the fact that she'd been born Jeremy and continued to call her that and refer to her as a 'he'. It upset her so much she actually quit, citing harassment as the reason. The people who harassed her? Didn't get into trouble. At least, not that I saw. Two of them boasted about having driven the 'freak' off. I was livid for days after that.

What does it matter what we call ourselves? A name is just a label we give ourselves. Some of us choose to keep the labels we were given by our parents. Others choose to change that label as they grow up. We use nicknames as a different label as well. Respect those around you and use the name they prefer.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday 'fess up - Anni's a little disappointed this week

Well, this week didn't end the way I intended it to.

It started out all right. I've been making progress on Cracked World, even though I pretty much started over from scratch because I didn't like how it was going. I like it well enough, even though I still think I'm taking too long with the beginning. I'll have to see how the story plays out.

I think I've made it pretty clear I was intending to go back to work. I've talked about it enough this past week. Well Thursday I went to my med doctor and got something to help with the anxiety that's inevitable at my job. Life was pretty good up to that point.

Then we got to Friday. Friday was the day I went into see my clinician. She'd fill out the paperwork and fax it in and I'd be all set to go back to work by the end of next week. Easy, right?

It didn't go that way. Because my clinician is an intern, and a summer intern at that, she's not "qualified" to fill out the paperwork. I now have to wait for someone else in the office who doesn't know me to fill out the paperwork. I don't know when that's going to be. I do know it has to be soon or I'm going to lose my job. They'll only hold it for so long and so long happens to be September 10th. After that date, I will no longer be employed at the bank. I'd rather not lose my job over something this stupid, so I'm going to keep hounding them to find out what's going to happen.

So that kind of derailed my plans for next week. If I haven't heard by Wednesday, I'm going to call and pester someone to get me an answer. Because I need them to fill out the form so I can go back to work.

I did hear from my boss on Saturday. The problem there is she may not be my boss anymore. They did another shift bid while I was out on disability and if there isn't a position on her team, I'm going to have to go back to someone I don't know as well. At least, I hope it's someone I don't know as well. There are a couple of managers that I'd rather not get again. Talk about personality clashes. I'll know more on Monday. Another thing she told me was that we're losing the smaller accounts I was working with, probably going to another center, and gaining one large account to work with. Should be interesting when I go back.

So that's my week in a nutshell. How was your week?

Here's the music videos for your amusement.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday Story Building - Genre and sub-genre/Science Fiction

Last week we talked the genre of fantasy and some of its sub-genres. This week I thought we'd take a minute to discuss another one of my well loved genres - science fiction. Sci fi is a broad genre that covers several sub-genres, some you may not even think are classed as sci fi.

One of my favorite versions of sci fi is the space opera. You know like Firefly and Babylon 5. In space opera, a good portion of the story takes place predominately in space and deals with space faring situations. Now, you might be able to give me a good argument that Babylon 5 is also military sci fi, and I wouldn't argue with you. But to me, those two shows epitomize space opera.

Then there's hard sci fi. This isn't a sub-genre I prefer, not being interested in the dry factual dissemination of technology. In hard sci fi, the science is meticulously described and could also be quite plausible based on the scientific standards of the modern day. The science in the Jurassic Park books is a good example of hard sci fi.

Then there's the punk sci fi. Two that specifically come to mind with this sub-genre is cyberpunk and steampunk. Yes, steampunk is classed as sci fi. Sci fi doesn't have to take place in the future. It can take place in an alternate past as well. Cyberpunk deals with computerization of people by fusing them with machines to create cyborgs. Cyberpunk also tends to be more dystopian in nature.

There are other sub-genres of sci fi, but I'll leave you to explore those on your own. Just know that science fiction, in its own way, is as broad a genre as fantasy.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - Returning to work

I had originally not planned on doing this. I was going to stay on disability and write full time. But as the months have passed that I've been on disability, I realized that I felt like I was losing a little bit of myself every day. I've spent the better part of the last 20 years working outside the home. I've had some bouts of unemployment, and some of that I was working temp agencies. But I've been working outside the home most of my adult life. It felt like I had lost a portion of my identity.

So I've decided to go back to my old job.

I've still got a job there until September 10th, and I plan on going back before that cut off date. I have a vision of finally being able to afford life to the point I can get off public assistance. Where I can afford to pay all my bills and not worry about where the money is going to be coming from. I'm not worried about buying luxuries or toys or things like that. Right now, I just want enough to pay for the things I need and maybe a little extra to put towards getting into our own place.

I don't like my old job. But I can do it. And the pay and benefits aren't bad. It's something I know how to do and can do fairly well. I'll get to see some old friends I haven't seen in almost a year. I should be back under my old manager, who as far as I know liked me well enough.

Am I scared? Very much so. I stopped working because my mental illness was so far out of control that I couldn't even make it through a day at work without having a panic attack. And I've added the new complication of seizures to my repertoire of issues, so there's that as well. But I've been stable for a while and my seizures aren't all that frequent. I can tell my employer to be on the watch for my seizures but I'm still fit to return to work.

So now I have to go see my therapist to get some paperwork filled out so I can go back to work. I need to talk to my med doctor to get something to help with anxiety. And I need to talk to my general practitioner about adjusting my anti seizure meds. All of these things have to happen before I can go back to work. I have two of the three appointments this week. I haven't talked to my general practitioner yet but I intend to within the next week.

This is going to mean my writing is going to suffer. If I go back to work, I'll be working four 10 hour shifts. Those days I'm probably not going to get much writing done. On my days off though I'll be plowing on ahead with whatever project I'm working on.

I hope you'll all wish me luck as I embark on this new phase of my life. Because I'm going to need all the luck I can get.