Not Dead!!

OMG . . . I’m sure you’re all gone by now. *tap tap* Is this thing on?

I’m finally out of bed and off the pain pills for the most part, taking physical therapy a couple of times a week to try to get my knee to bend again. I still have the immobilizer, but it’s not painful now to strap in and get off the bed (though somebody STILL has to lift my ankle and rotate the “lever” to the floor.) Next Monday I’ll get a brace that has a hinge at the knee. Maybe then I’ll be able to ride in the passenger side of the van or car. Right now, I have to sit across the back seat with my leg stretched out next to me. What a drag! I will not be getting back to normal until September, according to all the medicos. That’s really depressing.

But maybe I’ll get my creative drive back. I don’t know. Typically, when I sit around or lie around (the way I’ve had to do for three weeks now), my thoughts drift to one story or other, adding ideas or lines of dialogue or debugging something that needs to be tweaked in one of the books. Since this happened, though, I’ve had absolutely no story thoughts, even when I’ve tried. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t get to a computer to type. It was a paradigm shift into “this is not important any more, and the emphasis on it was wrong.” I still don’t know whether I am “supposed” to keep trying to get something published. If this is displeasing to God or the Universe or whatever you believe in, then I should drop it. My motivations are crappy anyhow, since they’re things like “I don’t want to disappear or have my voice not be heard,” and similarly selfish things. “I’d like to entertain” is secondary, and perhaps that’s supposed to be primary. Give, rather than try to leave behind a legacy for people to read later on.

Things have been so much worse because our little Pomeranian got sick. Last week he suddenly began having these painful attacks a few minutes after he’d go outside to tinkle (it took us a while to maike that connedction), and when hubby rushed him to the vet, they coulnd’t find any reason. The spell was over by that time (it lasted twenty minutes the first time, with him yipping and not able to stand still and rubbing his head and stomach on the floor or bed and being in pain, looking glassy-eyed and zoned out–very frightening). She didn’t X-ray him but took blood work. Took two days for them to get it back, and they said his kidney tests were a couple of points higher than high normal–creatinine and BUN. This meant he’s eating too much protein, and they wanted us to change his food to K/D diet. That’s always fun–dogs don’t like change. But I suspect that what happened was a kidney stone. . . though they don’t really sem to agree. See, it’s like when Mama and I had them . . . we coulnd’t stand still, we moaned when the stone moved, we suffered for three to four days with it. And this would be caused by lying around next to me and never getting up to go tinkle or get exercise, as I could not pick him up and walk on the crutches, and the “family” (sigh) (yes, I know, poor overburdened things, but stil) would not take him out the way I do or let him run around the house–he wanted to stay and guard my leg, as he knoes I’m broken. I told him I won’t stay broken, but still he’s not really confident. The last attack he had was night before last at 3 AM and it was much shorter and he didn’t pant and suffer and dig with his head that time, so perhaps the last of the stone finally passed. I prayed and begged and asked all the saints and every one of my relatives who has passed to the other side of the Veil and might have the ear of God to ask that the dog be healed. We can’t cope with anything else . . . the family gets frustrated taking care of me, although I am not requiring nearly so much as I did at first. (They would bring a glass of water, but then I’d need to go tinkle, or it would be time for a pill and they’d have to come hand it to me, as I was flat on my back–it was all doctor’s orders.) If only dog stays okay until I can be more up and around and bend my knee better. I can get around well on the crutches now.

Thank you to all of you who have sent prayers and positive thoughts. It’s so kind of you to give a thought to someone you don’t really know. We have had needs for people to go pick up medicine or groceries or help us with things over the past weeks, and have found that there was not one neighbor kid we could pay to run an errand or anyone we could call who wasn’t too busy and distant-sounding to help out. (I know I have helped others out when I could drive and do things–but that doesn’t mean that anyone else does or has to, of course. It’s just a bit surprising, is all, when you have lived in the same neighborhood for thirty-odd years.) I’ve discovered that even though a person may have contributed to every neighborhood/office fund over the years, and attended all the bridal and baby showers and graduation things and so forth for everyone, well, when it comes time for anyone to reciprocate, it doesn’t happen. Even when you ask. Interesting. Not that I resent having been the one to get people cards and funds and so forth, or that I think anyone owes me/you anything . . . it’s just interesting that when YOU have a need, they’ve all forgotten you. Of course I’m not at the office any more, and the neighbors all keep to themselves these days, because they’ve grown elderly and frail and just don’t get around that much. Still, it’s a bit daunting. You have to remember that you are doing the random acts of kindness for God/karma, and out of a desire to make others happier, and not because you are necessarily going to be sent a card in return. (I AM NOT ASKING Y’ALL TO DO ANYTHING! I’m just making the observation that people have short memories, and if you fall down and break your leg in front of the door to an office they want to get into, they’ll step over you without even an “excuse me” and hit you in the head with the bottom edge of the metal door as they open it so they can go inside to buy moving boxes. I swear I have never done such a thing. Perhaps that was a lesson to teach me never to do it, eh?)

YET ANOTHER REASON NOT TO BE NICE TO FAT PEOPLE
Have you seen that longitudinal study that tells us that if you have fat friends and associates, you will get fat?  They think fat is contagious.  Of course there’s the aspect of going out to eat with them or whatnot, but they claim that they have found a connection about obesity being contagious.  Well, then!  No wonder the Mean GIrls torture us fatties and people are allowed to say anything they like to us, insulting as it is!  We’re pariahs!

I don’t kow where the linki is for that, but I saw it on TV, so it MUST BE TRUE

Keep praying for my dog and my knee   .  . and for Mama’s lungs  . . . and hubby’s patience.  If he’s gonna run away, he can’t do it until I can walk!! *grin*  I told God that He could toss the books in the toilet and have all the agents and editors and contests reject me in exchange for my dog and my knee getting well, and I mean it.  I would stil like, for selfish reasons, to see one of the books be pubbed by NY, but if it doesn’t happen and wasn’t meant to, I still got to be some of the mud that got to sit up and look around, and that is enough.  Even though when hubby brings me books from the supermarket and stuff that he thinks I’d like . . . and it turns out to be poorly written dreck . . . I can’t worry about that.  OK, so other people can have absolutely no charm to the prose and can make egregious errors on the first page or so and can have stupid recycled plots and have nothing original at all . . . and get published to great acclaim . . and that’s OK!  Who gives a shit!  You can’t give a shit.  And if I do keep writing, it’ll have to be for personal satisfaction in that I feel one should not hide a talent (if I have any, and I’ve admitted I have no talent in other areas, so who knows) under a bushel.  It’ll have to be like playing the piano; piano teachers hate me and have dismissed me over and over, but I still enjoy playing for myself.  Shakespeare was forgotten for a time after his death, and bach would have been lost had it not been for Mendelssohn, so it’s all a crapshoot in the first place.  You might roll boxcars or you might crap out.  I’m kind of tired of crapping out all the time (tired of screwing up, tired of falling down, tired of myself and tired of this town), but hey, what the hell.  Nobody’s happy anyway.  I can look out this window and see the birds at the feeder and the squirrel getting in there and stealing seeds, and the passionvine hanging with twelve blooms, and the ornamental pepper getting bigger and coming toward the window glass, and that is enough.

More than I deserve, now that I think about it.

Can’t worry about typos, ‘cauae I’, typing while reclining. Laptop keyboards icky. Tomorrow to doctor for follow-up, changing of dressing (ack), and instrucgtions. Hope he stgarts me on som ekind of rehab.

Family resents heck out of being stuck with me. I can[t get out of bed without hubby lifting leg in immobilizer off bed and onto floor, and untnil today thhat usualloy resulte3d in yeelling in pain. It just burays now, so that[‘s better, but the leg feels heavy and 900 lbs. Hubby is fed up with MaMA’s whining . .l . and he doesn'[t like having to do everything and being unab le to go pre4te3nd constantlhy on his dumb onoline game. GThey had NO IDEA tat I did anhything to keep this dump pickied up and running. The house is ready to crwl away with stacks of stuff out of plcace and mess!! And all I can do is try not to fall again and totter past on crutches. Mama is 78 yurs old and she gasps for air and cries wtih her feet swlling, bujt I cant ge3t her to go lie down and stop coming in to check on mhe. She is tryi8ng to top me with her cries of blood poisionong where she cracxked her shuin axross th4e walker. This jmakes huby madder. They are feuding. They are selfish and worthlewss bugtts, but I;’m stuck. Unless Gode let me ber able to walk agqain,l it would be a jnight mare.

That’s why yes4terday I revisedd mhy lifelong position that no one should give up and kill themswelves . . . now I say that cripples should be allowed to kill themswelves because the anger directe3d at them when they becdo9me a burden added to the inabiloity to reach for a kleenexz by themselves makes it not worth hanging on. I always haed these big idesa thatq I had a contribution to make and would do books thqat said important things and made ppl think as well as entertaining them, butg hell, that was a buhcn of childish pipe dream shitl. Keeping Ste4ve Hawlking aloi=ive may make sense, as he'[s contributing to wscienced, vbut most of us pathetic w3recks are just being wself-indujlgent when we ask for society to inconvenience itsrelf and give uip othe33r peo0ple’s time for US to be waited on. SIGH I swear I never resented waiting on my grandmother or jmother when they were illo or on my other dog after he got disabled, but maybe I was just as angry and whining that I had to help them and not do just what I want like my familhy. Daqys one and two they were happy that I was surviving, but now, I would not take odds on it.

i THOUGHT reading aboujt the fun ppl had at the RWA convention this past week here in Dallas would help me, butg it just mnade me angry. I didn[‘t have the choice to go see all those famous editors and agents and so on, even if I would have just been hearing them from a distance. I am the one who has to take care of the elderly mother and have to be more able-bodied than this and cannot havce her doing herself in. (What she did was spend all day iun the kitchen makiung a meat loaf that was way too spicy for any of us to eat, washing clothes, and just wanderin aro0unhd moaning that her ankles were swelling bedcause she could not lie down–I begged her to go away abnd lie diwn, but she wou,nd’t)

I don'[t know whether this was supposed to be a comeuppance for my overarcdhing ambition to g4et an agent and get publishe,d or just a punishment for not appreciating what a miracle it was to be able to climb out of the damn bed on mhy own and walk to the potty and then get ihnt he car and drive the damkn thi8ng to the grocery store!! I suppose it has restored the appeal of the mundqane!@ I take back anything I said about wishing we could tqake a short trip or vacation. nOW that I know for sure I’m not worthy of that, I just want to get back to being the pathetic fat worthless loser that I was, complete with ambulatory function and ability to take the dog out to pee (the other two fight and insist they are too tired to do it, so the dog has guarded me and has been lying here next to my booboo0–he ik

“Operation” Game In Real Life with ME as the test case!!

My surgery will take place tomorrow Tuesday around 11:30 AM at Plano Surgical Center (not a hospital, but they say they do joints and so forth there all the time) and will have an M. D. Anesthesiologist, so I feel a bit more secure. I am determined to live through this just to spite ’em, not to mention see who wins that dang novel contest–if it’s Ari, good, but if it’s not, I shall know what wins and SEE it with my own eyes, and it better be GOOD. *grin* And I also have several CDs I have not even listened to and a couple of books I wanna re-read!

Just in case, I’ve asked someone to serve as my literary executor, because I know they would not continue to send out the books and so forth if the worst happened. This made them all upset, but unlike Aaron in my Ari book, I actually am waiting to hear back from the contest and two agents and have a lot of stuff out there. It’s just one of those things you do so that you won’t have to invoke it.

I accept Catholic/Protestant/Episcopalian prayers, Muslim prayers, Hebrew/Yiddish prayers and blessings from rabbis, Druid chants, Healing Power sent from the various Powers and Potentates, and any positive thoughts at all. It’s all the same God. And I’m an equal opportunity coward!!

I got on the laptop long enough to post, but I have my leg not-elevated in the immobilizer, and I have to get my leg elevated again. Better get off and eat, as I stop getting water by midnight. Forgive typos. Hope to be back by Wednesday blogging again . . . keep those mobile appendages crossed.

“Please, Lord, not ANOTHER Learning Experience . . . *oops*”

Continuing ouch with a side of anger

I want to thank everyone who left an encouraging comment! I appreciate the prayers and thoughts. Feel as if I/we really need ’em. I wish I could hire a keeper for the household for the next few days . . . everyone’s just exhausted with the effort of just getting up and down and getting comfortable.

I confess I haven’t been the most philosophically accepting person about this. Yep, I’m reallly irritated. Why did I have to leave the house the other day? It would have been lots cheaper to just tell my mother I’d pay the $40 fee for being one day late on paying her storage building rental fee. Our deductible is around $300 and then 20% of costs, and we rented a wheelchair today because we just HAD to . . . my mom is too frail to pick up my leg, and somebody actually has to pick up the end of the immobilizer when I’m going to shift positions. Hubby accidentally dropped my foot last night when he was getting me to the bathroom (getting out of bed),and all day it’s been extra painful. *gloom*

What’s hurting mostly, I think, is the swelling and the fracture blister. I had never heard of such a thing until I saw it when we unwrapped the immobilizer for the orthopedic surgeon to take a look on Friday. Yuck! Don’t Google it! It’s like a raised psoriasis and/or huge hive the size of a quarter. I keep icing down the area, but everything that touches the blister feels like sandpaper.

I spent a few hours railing against this, but everyone has hurled platitides and homilies back about learning from experience, slowing down, and so forth. I’ve been too focused on getting the three books out (and getting that first one WRITTEN) over the past four months or so that I’ve neglected everything else and said I didn’t care about ANYTHING but getting a book published. And Hubby has been focused on a project at work that seemed the be-all and end-all. Talk about recalibration and re=setting of priorities. Perhaps this is good.

I was feeling a bit more optimistic . . . have a surgery date set on Tuesday at 1:45 (but going in at noon for prep) at the surgical center (not at the hospital, but they assure us knee stuff is done there all the time). Then my brother-in-law and sister-in-law called and said they want to come see me tomorrow . . . which was suspicious. I said it had to be because they think I’m gonna die. This announcement and concomitant sobbing and wailing caused great consternation in the household. I convinced hubby to tell them to come NEXT weekend. But I still feel superstitious. Now I have to survive just to spite ’em all.

The only upside is I don’t have any appetite, so following the diabetic meal plan is easy. They took me off medifast for now, as you aren’t supposed to have surgery while on it, and it would possibly slow healing. But anyhow, the meal plan for 1000 calories seems nauseatingly too much right now. Mostly living on crackers and diet cola.

*sigh* Yes, I’m pathetic. But anyway, keep a good thought. Maybe this will all work out OK. This surgeon says he uses a three-pin and hinge apparatus that allows you to bend your knee right after surgery, so at least it isn’t a three-month period without bending my leg, which is one of the things that they USED to do. *eeek*

What a 7-7-07!! And 7 is my lucky number!

Pray–I broke my knee and have to have surgery

Brief post begging for ongoing prayers and positive energy. I fell in the parking lot this afternoon around three and landed on my kneecap–put your elbow down on the table and you’ll see where all my weight landed, except on my knee. I heard a crack, just like when Hank Aaron hits a homer. I felt the kneecap separate, just like when you take your Hostess Cupcake and whack it down the icing line with a machete. The 911 EMTs took me to the E.R., where they X-rayed it and then solemnly informed me that they’d called an orthopedic surgeon. I protested, and they said if I wanna walk again, I’ll have surgery. I really don’t like going under a general!

And it hurts. Have leg in immobilizer and it’s straight out. When I have to go potty, hubby has to lift the leg straight out and I hop onto the crutches and go slowly. Very slowly. I don’t have any way to do anything if I just lie here. Unfair!! I protest!!

More later. I’d better lie back. **sigh**

CRAFT: Convention Advice for FIction Writers 1

(Sorry if the typing is awful–I’m using a laptop because I slipped in the parking lot and broke my knee!! Going to orthopedic surgeon in the morning. Went to ER this afternoon. It stinks! Do not fall down! More on this next post.)

Finally! At last! A convention post!

Here are some of the revision/editing and critique ideas I gleaned from workshops and panel discussions at the Southwest Mystery Writers of America convention.

I went to workshops with Hallie who wrote Don’t Murder Your Mystery, with Deni Dietz of Five Star Press, and with several panelists talking all at once.

First, the thing that I had just figured out how to recognize and remedy in my own work (the epiphany was gelling even before this, but I can sorta put it into words now.)

My term for it is MOVIE GONE CRAZY or EXTREME CLOSE-UP (“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. De Mille”)

Tag Team Frenzy: Not letting readers visualize. Let talking heads lie.

Here’s what I had fallen into with some of the older (1998-now) books. Tags replaced most of the “saids,” which is often good, but they were in every line of dialogue. Some became so distracting that the book fell apart for many readers. If “ping” and “pong” reverberate as you read, it may mean you DO need a tag here and there. It’s an art, remember.

I opened the door. “The police think I did it.”
Mom pulled the thread through her embroidery hoop. “That’s nice, honey.”
I opened a can of beans. “So can we afford my bail?”
Mom wiped her hands on a rag. “I don’t see why not.”

Sometimes tags are weird. [“It’s silly.” She snowed.] [“You’re crazy.” He jumped on the green kangaroo and did a lap around the lawn, avoiding the croquet team.]

Eliminate any tag in which the action is apparent or obvious from the dialogue. Get rid of any that aren’t needed to avoid Talking Heads Syndrome. Don’t make them into distractions. Read it aloud to an audience consisting of NOT just CATS. ***I HAD TO EDIT FOR THIS!!!–SC**

Tag, you’re it! The action and the dialogue are reversed. Example: “This coffee is awful.” I sipped from the mug. FIX BY: Thinking. Does it seem more logical and actually do-able when you reverse the sequence? Test by pretending to act out the scene. (Preferably when no one else is around–cats are OK.) Having been an actress helps here quite a bit, as well as with creating a character from a concept or murky idea.

She Sighs All The Time: Do you find your characters “shrug” a lot? Smile on line after line (and return a grin, or suppress a grin, or swallow a grin?) “Swallow” too much? “Breathe” enough for the entire population of China? GRIN, SMILE, SIGH, TAKE A DEEP BREATH again.

Search and be ready to replace (but analyze first! Look at the page number, and if it has been a chapter since someone sneezed and the pollen is still floating off the trees in a yellow river that makes you think of author I. P. Freeley, it’s probably all right to let Koziko sniffle-aaaa-aaa-aaahCHOO again. Um, have I mentioned avoiding most bang, boom, crash, BATMAN-TV-Show-style onamatopoeia?)
Keep a lookout for variants of the same action or from the same body part. Wandering “eyes” (which should be “gaze” anyhow) and “sighs/deep breaths” are common fixations. The “heart” pounding, stopping, pausing, bursting, and growing a long white beard runs a close third. Well, maybe not the beard. You can USE these–you preactically HAVE to–but not all the time and not too close to one another.

Concurrent actions which aren’t concurrent (a bete noire of Damon Knight–SC). Tripping down the steps, I landed on my right patella and felt it crack into two pieces. As I ran through the hall, I opened the door. Ripping the car door open, I hit the ignition and drove away. Quite a trick!

Now, there’s been a convention in pulp fiction for years that readers would just accept and post-analyze this into consecutive actions, but now editors/agents are watching for these. As long as it’s on the punch list, you’re screwed when they catch it.

Check “as” and “when” clauses.

Also, don’t be repetitive and redundant. Tags connoting the upset (e.g., shouted, cried) plus actions (stomping, slamming doors) plus thoughts. “I can’t believe this happened.” plus more thoughts. “Why me? Why me?”. Plus dialogue. “You look upset.”

“Why did you do that? The script said so.” I see THIS all the time in mediocre pubbed mysteries/mainstream/chick lit/fantasySF/teen-YA novels MOTIVATE YOUR CHARACTERS. Make those motivations clear to readers.Create circumstances, situations, or thoughts to cause characters to act. Characters gone dumb/stoopid “because the script says so”–when characters deliberately ignore something obvious. Find a way around this.
Study SCENE and SEQUEL. In an action scene, if she thinks about another subject, make it a quick flash on the topic that is relevant to how she can get away. Otherwise, put reactions in sequel, not in the action scene.

Echo . . . echo . . . echo (repeated words in successive paragraphs.)

I looked at him. “Look, Frank. If you want to look for suspects, than you have to look here.” Also watch out for deadwood such as THAT, JUST, EVEN, BUT, LITTLE, VERY.

Are the action and the dialogue reversed? Example: “This coffee sucks.” I sipped from the mug. See if it reads more logically when you reverse the sequence.