Tag Archives: Updates

Finished!

Yes, indeed. The first draft of Perceval in Love is done! I had not imagined at the beginning of the year that I would finish it this year, much less in June. I’m beyond pleased. It needs work, of course, but I’m well on my way to achieving my goal of getting the first drafts of novels 2-5 of the Perceval series on paper before working on revisions. Except for Perceval’s Shadow. The first revision of that one is done.

What’s next?

Yesterday, I worked nearly all day compiling notes for the revision work on Perceval in Love and I didn’t finish. I did some organizing also — the research, for example. Tidying up. For the next week, I plan to continue working on cleaning up my notes, writing character notes, and completing the book’s outline for future reference.

After that?

On to work on the first draft of the fourth novel in the series, Perceval’s Game. I’ve already been doing some work on characters, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what will occur in the first 3 or 4 chapters. I’ll probably sketch out an outline of those chapters and see how far I get. I remember when I wrote the first draft of Perceval’s Shadow, I sketched ahead 2 or 3 chapters from where I was so I always knew where I was going. I know what Evan Quinn needs to accomplish in the fourth book. The story will really be in how he does it and if he manages to get out of America alive.

Silver Lining

So that’s the silver lining for me of having to self-isolate because of COVID-19. I’ve been able to write and write and write. It has kept me sane and taken me outside of myself and the present world.

However,

All good things must come to an end. I expect that I will be returning to my fulltime job at some point in the coming weeks. We have a preparedness and re-opening plan, and I’m going through the training so I’ll be ready. That’s fine. I’ll just return to working on the novels on weekends.

And I get my hair cut this coming Saturday!

Slowing Down

Photo: Margi Nutmeg Lake Harriet

During the last month, I’ve slowed down and settled into a regular daily routine. Having a routine helps me to cope with the crazy pandemic news, the tragic pandemic news, as well as the hopeful pandemic news. I am still at home, going out only for needed medication refills or food shopping. The restlessness has begun, as well as some days feeling down. The sadness hasn’t hit me as much as the surreal qualities of our current world and what we can look forward to in the months ahead. I just read an email about what will be required of employees at my job in order for us to return to work. I feel like I’m in a disaster movie without a script.

So, I’ve tried to maintain my daily routine, like putting one foot in front of the other in order to move forward. I rise from bed to eat breakfast with national news on TV. I get dressed. Then I sit down at my desk to write. And I’ve gotten a lot of writing done on Perceval in Love‘s first draft. When I first got home on paid leave, I had been working on Chapter 12. I finished Chapter 20 this morning. I’ve made the decision to cut one chapter I thought I’d need so there will now be a total of 24 chapters. Close, very close to the climax.

Mariinsky Concert Hall, St. Petersburg, Russia

The time I’ve had at home has also given me time for research and daydreaming. Most people don’t know how important it is to have time to daydream when working on a novel or any fiction, for that matter. The research is easy to understand. In the last week, I’ve spent hours on Google Maps, traipsing through the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, in preparation for the final chapters. I’ve also researched the concert hall where Evan will conduct in St. Petersburg, running into notices about the pandemic at its website. Eerie to see foreign websites announcing concert postponements and alternate online concert viewing. It’s not only here in the U.S. As I’ve spent more time in St. Petersburg, my imagination has been returning to my personal memories of that enigmatic city, so steeped in sorrow and the past, struggling to be the “Window on the West” that Peter the Great envisioned. I find myself dreaming of Evan in that city, Evan trying to make sense of it, Evan shocked by how much Russia resembles his America.

About 12:30 p.m., I stop work on the novel to make lunch. I eat reading either one of the magazines I subscribe to, or a novel. Only recently I read a couple of nonfiction books about totalitarianism that would make your skin crawl. How human beings can want that oppression or do that to other human beings is a mystery to me. There is a fascinating psychological component that has turned out to be important for the Perceval series.

After my lunch break, I’ve been doing house chores, cleaning, sorting, de-cluttering, and organizing for 1-2 hours. While I’ve gotten a satisfactory amount of that kind of work done, it seems the more I do, the more I notice needs to be done. I’m almost finished with the cleaning, with my usual vow that I will do a better job of keeping up with it. I am hoping to make a big dent on sorting through files and throwing out what I no longer need before I must return to my fulltime job.

My writing desk

The last couple of hours of the work day I return to my computer to go online. I’ve been diligent in cleaning out my email boxes everyday. Once that chore has been done, I turn to either more research, blog post writing, shopping, or at the very end, social media. I’ve been grateful to social media the last two months for keeping me in contact with friends and relatives, as well as Skype. There have been some days when I’ve needed to connect with my boss and my job in order to stay in touch. And there are the public health updates from my state that I now check every other day rather than every day.

Evenings have been for exercise then a light meal, followed by some kind of entertainment, either TV, DVD, or streaming video. I’m glad I decided last summer to subscribe to Amazon Prime — I’ve been using it quite a lot, along with Acorn TV and BritBox for my beloved British shows. Then I hit the sack between 9 and 10 p.m. to read for a few minutes before turning out the light. I realized earlier this week that I’ll soon need to start getting up earlier, a few minutes each day, and going to bed earlier, in order to re-condition my body to my fulltime job schedule.

I am well and safe, and grateful for it. As we adjust to living with the SARS-CoV-2 virus — it’s not going to be eradicated anytime soon, unfortunately — and we return to jobs, social lives, and travel, I think we will discover that this virus has changed us irrevocably. We are not necessarily the top predator in the food chain anymore. We have natural enemies that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It will be up to each of us to protect ourselves as well as those in our communities by following the public health guidelines that will come out of this for us in the future.

Silver Linings

My boss sent me home on March 18, and my paid leave began on March 19. I am in the high risk group for COVID-19 in multiple ways, so I’m at home for as long as it takes to flatten the curve and make it safe to return to work. I find the pandemic scary, and I find my thoughts about getting sick scary, especially because there’s a high probably that I might die. So, although I understand the need to stay informed, I also need to step away from our current reality (although not like the American President has done).

The silver lining in this pandemic for me is a wonderful amount of uninterrupted time to work on the first draft of Perceval in Love. It’s astonishingly quiet in my apartment building, quiet in the neighborhood because much fewer people are outdoors. Sitting down at my desk everyday to work on the first draft takes me out of myself and away from the current world.

I realized at one point during the last three weeks of writing that I had not considered a pandemic as a catalyst for America to become a totalitarian dictatorship after 2016. How could I include COVID-19 now? The current administration in the American White House is giving me lots of raw material to work with, and especially a president who likes to hog all the time and touts TV ratings for pandemic briefings rather than giving the briefings over to the people who are knowledgeable about infectious diseases and pandemic response, and taking himself back to the Oval Office. But he hasn’t been idle, either.  He’s been firing the Inspector Generals who oversee important functions of government, especially the disbursement of financial aid. The Republicans just sit by and watch, doing nothing.

Then Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, began talking again about California being a “nation-state” for the purpose of securing the medical supplies and personal protective equipment needed for medical personnel. This apparently is not the first time he’s called California a “nation-state.” He is distancing the state from the federal government and establishing independence. A next step would be to stop funneling money to the federal government like tax payments. I had imagined there would be states that would declare independence from an NEP government in Washington, D. C. and created a map to show who were still in the United States and who weren’t.

America 2048-2050

In the photo above, the blue states are still in the US, the orange states are border states, the green states have seceded and are fighting a civil war with the blue states, and the yellow states are in contention. The purple Alaska has seceded and is now its own country. The blue states with black lines through them will announce secession during the course of the Perceval series. I probably won’t change this map for now. As anyone who’s read Perceval’s Secret knows, in 2048, America remains embroiled in a civil war and the border states are active battlefields.

I’m over halfway done with the first draft and excited. It’d be great to finish it before I return to work, but who knows?

Five Stars!!

I am happy to report that Perceval’s Secret has a new five-star review by Tony Parsons at Amazon! Check it out!

The same review is also available at GoodReads.

As one of my promotion efforts this spring, I decided to sign up for book reviews through one of the GoodReads groups I’m in. I was happy with the response and have been waiting for the reviews. I will be participating more in reviewing books by authors in this GoodReads group in the future.

Reviews DO make a difference. Potential readers read reviews to get a sense of the book and help them decide if they want to read it or not. So if you have read Perceval’s Secret and haven’t posted a review, I urge you to do so in the next week or so, whenever you have the time to reflect on your reading experience and capture your thoughts in one or two paragraphs.  Good places to post reviews are: Amazon, B&N.com, and GoodReads. Honest and constructive reviews are most welcome!

If you’ve already posted a review of Perceval’s Secret, THANK YOU! And let me know where in the comments section below.

 

Life Happens, and Then What?

In my last post on May 4, I wrote about all the writing I’d been doing offline — the reason I had not been writing blog posts or spending a lot of time on any kind of social media. Less that two weeks later, life happened, taking me completely away from any kind of writing. What happened?

At the time, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. All I knew was that my body had begun a campaign against me. It began about May 16 as I fought through nausea every morning to eat something and get to work. The nausea worsened. I thought it might be a sign that my ILD was beginning to act up so I called my pulmonologist. Then I saw my primary physician. No answers. I re-discovered SeaBands, which I’d used after surgeries to control or alleviate post-operative nausea. Wearing them still worked. But then a skin rash attacked my knees, lower legs, feet, and elbows. At first it didn’t itch, but when it did, it was an intense burning itch. Hydrocortisone cream and Benedryl brought some relief. But then I noticed a small bruise on top of my left hand that shouldn’t have been there. Over the course of about 36 hours, I acquired other spontaneous bruises, petechiae all over my legs and feet, and my nose dripped blood. I suspected an adverse reaction to a new medication I’d begun in mid-April, so I called my gastroenterologist. He thought it was an allergy aggravated by the extreme dry air we were having that week. Fortunately, I didn’t listen to his suggestion to simply monitor the situation.

A good friend (my savior!) took me to the ER that same day in the early evening. Blood tests showed that I had no discernible platelets, essential for clotting, in my blood. From that point on, I became a bit of a medical mystery until the Hematology team decided that it was an adverse reaction to the new medication I began in mid-April. They admitted me into the hospital. Over the next 48 hours, there was a serious, determined effort to stop the reaction and get my body to begin making platelets again.

I’ve been in such medical mystery situations before when I’ve been extremely ill. The mind turns primal, focused only on survival and doing whatever is necessary to survive. I could not read much, focus for long periods of time, or make plans. Hospitals are not good places for sleep, either. My primary source of distraction became what I call “stupid TV,” that is old TV shows I like but that I’ve most likely seen before and are being repeated on cable. Although I was discharged from the hospital about 5 days later, I returned the same day with more bleeding that needed to be stopped and explained. That lasted for another two-day hospital stay.

I’ve been out of the hospital for over a week now and plan to stay out if at all possible. There’s been a setback with the return of the skin rash and a drop in my platelet count, but a course of a super steroid is helping everything but my sleep. I’ve been warned that it could be a slow process to return my body to normal after that adverse reaction to medication, especially this particular adverse reaction. I’m wondering when I’ll be able to return to my job as well as to my creative writing.  I was within 4 chapters of finishing the first revision of Perceval’s Shadow by July 1!

Life happens.