Saturday, May 26, 2007

Slowing down

Well, I got a forced vacation this week. Three days in the hospital while they tried to find out what was making me sick. The answer, they don't know. But, my blood cell count is now good, my blood pressure is back up into the 100/70 range after two days in the 88/60 area after IV fluids, and my heart hasn't been damaged by the chemo.

The good news is I read three books. Finally finished the Janet Evanavich, read Micheal Kahn's BEARING WITNESS, and Susan McBride's second in her dropout debutant series, THE GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER. Honestly, if I had another book when I started the Kahn book, I don't know if I would have finished it. I went five pages before I realized the main character was female. This got me thinking about my WIP, do I have the knowledge or research done to pull off a male small town sherriff in a big town? And speaking of my WIP, do I even have a plot that is a mystery? It's just like when I was writing romance with no happy ending.

I'm also listening to a Kathy Reich book, MONDAY MOURNING, which is good, but after watching Bones on Fox, I realize how much they have changed the character to meet the perceived needs of the television audience. Don't get me wrong, I love watching Bones but the differences are striking. Tempe in Bones is about 20 years younger than in the books. She doesn't work for the Jeffersonal, she works for a Canadian coronor, a North Carolina Coronor and the NC university. She has a daugher (in college). And is dating a Canadian law enforcement person, not dancing around our favorite vampire (Angel). I wonder how the author feels with all the changes to her character. The only thing they really kept is that she is a forensic anthropologist. I hope she got a lot of money.

So Tuesday I do more Chemo, Taxol this time.

I sent off an essay about the old days on the farm to Grit today. I had queried them a couple weekends ago and they shot back a yes on spec answer. So now I've sent off the finished essay. Its like sending off part of yourself to be judged. Well, I've been rejected before. Maybe I'm scared of being accepted!

Well, it is time to start up the laundry for the weekend. Happy Memorial Day to all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill.

Yes, we made an unexpected trip to the real Blueberry Hill from the song last Saturday. It was really fun. The food was amazing, fast and cheap with tons of it. I got the Fish and Chips and I swear, there were at least 6 pieces of fish, battered to a crisp, not greasy. They brought vinigar without me asking and the coleslaw and fries that accompanied the fish were in huge proportions and great! Now the beer is a little pricey, $3.50 for a bottle, but that's what they charge in the downtown areas. (See how I talk about the food first?)

Blueberry Hill is in University City. I guess it's named for Washington University which is right down the street and charges $700+/per credit hour for a graduate writing class that I won't be taking. The bar has many rooms but we were in the dart room where they have held this steel tip tourneyment for the last 35 years. It used to be huge, but it has dwindled a little bit in recent years. There were people there from England as well as the St. Louis regulars.

There is a wall of fame with pictures of the singles winners through out the 35 years. Brad Wethington (sorry Brad, I know I'm butchering your name) has won the men's singles so many times, his pictures on the wall show his growing up from a sweet 20 something (1992) to the more mature man he is now.

Jim played doubles and his darts were great, just not enough to keep up with the competition. They smoked their first opponents then took on Steve Brown (who is also on the wall of fame) and Jim and his partner were unable to get passed them. And steel tip is single elimination. So, after talking for a while, taking in the eclectic nature of the bar, we went home. I'm glad we went even though Jim didn't place as Blueberry Hill is one of the places we wanted to see in St. Louis and Jim realized that his steel tip skills are pretty good!

You can buy dart shirts from Blueberry Hill at And if you are ever in St. Louis, we have to go!

I'm more tired this week than I've been ever. I think the Chemo is sneaking up on me. I had a lot of pain from the shots this week and I am still dealing with that. I'm trying to drink a lot of water and eat at least my five fruits and veggies, but it's hard sometimes. So even though they have a lot of calories, I'm counting my juice!

In the writing realm, I sent off a query to Grit and got a request back to see the essay on spec. I'm pretty jacked about that. I'm planning on finishing it up this weekend and getting it back out on Monday. Wish me luck!

I'm signed up for the Enterprise Team for Race for the Cure. Enterprise is paying for our entry! So hopefully I'll feel strong enough to walk. And I'm suppose to volunteer for the St. Louis Jazz festival in a couple weeks, but I've been assigned to greet and I'm not sure if that's a great idea with my weakened immune system. What is it about me that I can't deal with my limitations? I told Jill yesterday that I'm not sick! I'm just dealing with the results of the treatment to keep me from getting sick! Is that the wrong way to look at it? What do you think?

Listing to TWO DOLLAR BILL by Stuart Woods. Its funny but kind of sexist in a lot of ways and the sex scences seem really fake. Like when the hooker says she F*cked his brains out, and giggles. And he was dating and sleeping with this one girl and the next night he's back with an old girlfriend, with no qualms about the first girl. Maybe men think this way and its just women who think it's fake.

Reading, not much. Way too tired to get anything done. I am still in Janet's Four to Score but at least I can pick it up and put it down without losing track of the story.

Off to jump into the shower. Lots to do this Saturday. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

On my way!

Well, halfway has come and gone and I'm set up for a new drug next Chemo the 22nd. I think its called Taxol. I know it came from the California Yew tree which was almost extinct before they found the use for the tree. Funny how that happens. They tell me this will be less nauseating but I'll be more tired since they give me benedril first. So Jim will have to drive me at least the first time. Last night I got the lecture from his mom and dad because I went to this treatment by myself. They don't get that I need that independence sometime. And maybe I don't get that they want to help.

And, its shot time again!

I started a story about called Miss Emily this week but haven't got very far in it. I was hoping to have it done by the 15th and shoot it over to the Writer's Digest contest, but I guess I'm going to miss that this year too. I guess sometimes I wait too long for inspiration to come and forget that the muse comes while working, not while doing other things, at least for me.

I looked up the information to start working on my MA in Instructional Design. I think for a work degree (not my dream one of a MFA in creative writing) its a good one to have. It will really position me for a lot of jobs in this area at least and will give me a heads up if I go back home to get into the business end of the valley rather than health care. I could teach a lot of things in health care, but they want you to have a nursing degree for all the positions I saw and I don't want to say in business ie finance part. It just drives me crazy that one class is going to cost me almost $1000. So I need 36 hours, $36K to get a degree. Hmmmmm. May have to think about that. I'm going to try to get this set up and hit up my supervisor at my year review and see if work will pay at least some of this fall class. Summer is way out of the question. And I still have to take my GRE (another $130). Lottery, where are you!

In Patricia Cornwall's TRACE on my drive time. This book is interesting as it is more character driven than plot driven. A lot more like how I work with my writing. Here you know who the killer is way before Kay or Lucy do and if they were all just talking to each other, it would be different. Keeping those secrets tend to streatch out the process even though we think we are saving the other person hurt or worry. Reading a lot of cozy's lately has made me wonder a lot about my structure and writing style.

Reading, still in BEAUTIFUL LIES, Lisa Unger. I thought I'd get it done on Chemo day but didn't. And not taking the few minutes at work to stop and read a little on break, trying to make up as much time as possible to keep those checks at a normal pace to get this all behind me so my dream of going back to school can come a little closer.

I do need to find a writing group, even if it just meets once a month to keep me more focused on writing. I tend to get caught up in my every day stuff, and I know, I have enough of it, but I want to write. I want to write better. And if these two statements are true, I should be able to find some time to do what I really want. I find time to do other things!

Its suppose to be a nice weekend. Maybe I'll get my flowers planted. The garden went in last week.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Almost half way through

Well, I am at least with the Chemo. The treatment I get on Tuesday will be number 4. Of course I ran into a new problem, pain from the shingles hit on Friday night. So Saturday morning after talking to the fellow on call, I got another prescription. As I type, I am hoping it's going to kick in at any time. So this post will probably be pretty short. And a story is trying to come through but I can't sit for any length of time to get it down right now.

Another dart friend from Illinois has passed away this weekend. Mike Bova. He said he was having back problems and died of a heart attack. What more is there to say. Its very sad as he was a very nice man.

I got scared Saturday about my mortality. So I called a friend and just started crying. Jim had said something before I left for the laundry mat about changing jobs and it scared me to. So when I called Nina, all I could do is cry. She was so funny, she offered me a place to stay if I needed to come home for a while but it wasn't even that. There are so many under the surface fears that this diagnosis brings that I don't talk about. But I've gone through a lot already and I know I might have to go through more, but I am strong and can do this. Even if I look like a biker in my scarves.

I watched the news on Friday morning and realized why I don't watch the news around here. Blood, death, guts and gore. There is an awful lot of drug use here. A lot of shootings, stabbings, car accidents. I guess its just fodder for my mysterys. But what I'm finding with the mysterys I've been reading, there is a certain path or formula if you will for the mysterys. Hunt Road doesn't follow these so I'm wondering if I'm writing backstory again? I chucked about four chapters several years ago when I realized I was writing backstory. But maybe my problem is I'm not writing a mystery? It was just like when I was writing my short stories that seemed like romance but didn't have the happy ever after ending. I think I just need to write the story as I see it and then figure out if its marketable as it stands or needs a total rewrite.

There was a huge discussion on Wicked Company this week about the slush pile and how many really good stories get thrown away because the magazine didn't have room for them or the editor just didn't like them. I threw in my 2 cents which came from reading Idaho Review slush and said, really there weren't that many "excellent" stories in the slush pile. Out of the 100s I read that semester, I can only remember two or three that I said, we have to look at this one. Now even with those few, I think only one passed the reviewing board and made it in the book. But a lot of the stories were just bad. Really bad. But we have this one writer who thinks that just isn't true. I think she's dealing with rejection syndrome. Where you think your stories are great and so must every one else's stories that get rejected are great too.

My pain pill is starting to kick in a little so I feel like I can breathe. Can I say this really sucks! Well, it does. I have my prescriptions filled for the next round of Chemo. I need to buy some pudding but I'm full on soups. So here goes.

Reading? I'm not as much but working on S is for Silence, Sue Grafton which is an audio book. Thanks to the person who thought this idea up. It makes the drive so much better! I'm almost done and Kinsey is running from the murderer. Its been fun, lots of red herrings, in fact she had me convinced someone was the villian up until the end. And that's the difference in those mysteries and Hunt Road. I know and the reader knows who the killer is by chapter three, I think. So what am I writing? Why does anyone want to read it?

Other readings? I'm working on Lisa Unger's Beautiful Lies and Janet Evanovich's Four to Score. Not having to go to the hospital for shots for seven days after chemo has cut into my reading time. When I'm home and awake, I feel like I should be doing something or talking to Jim.

Well, I think I'm done with the pity party and since the pill has loosened up my arm, I think I will try to get Miss Emily's story started today.