My Cancer Week

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago, I had bladder surgery. Everything went okay, but while operating, my doctor spotted a tiny mark on my bladder. Like, teeny tiny. Less than half the size of my pinky nail. It was a spot rather than a lesion. Still, she wanted to check it out, and it was so small that when she tried to biopsy it, she just took the whole thing.

It looked like nothing, but it was cancer. Malignant, angry, fuck-off cancer.

If left to its own devices, it might have killed me. Bladder cancer is sneaky. Doctors often don’t spot it until it’s already well on its way to killing you. And they usually spot it because of blood in the urine. But I have kidney stones, so that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow for me, let alone a red flag.

Like the grandpa in “The Princess Bride”, I feel like I should tell you that I don’t get eaten by the eels at this point. I’m okay. They checked the rest of me, and I’m cancer-free. To help us both calm down, here’s a chicken that looks like it’s wearing pants that it made itself:

So, now that we’re breathing, they checked the rest of me for cancer but found none. And now I will get regular checks on my bladder for the rest of my life. But for a week or so, I had cancer. I didn’t tell anyone but my family. I’m sorry if anyone’s feelings are hurt because I didn’t include them. It doesn’t mean we’re not close. I felt like if I said it too loudly, it would come back.

My fears don’t really listen to me when I tell them they’re ridiculous. Maybe someday, they’ll learn.

I know this is some heavy shit. To help you catch your breath again, here’s my dog Polly in a Wonder Woman cape:

Got your wind back? Okay.

I’ve had lots of thoughts since my cancer week. There were a couple agonizing waiting periods between tests. There have been lots of feelings. Do I feel lucky? Yes. Extremely. Was I scared? More than a little. But having a chronic pain condition already prepared me a bit. I didn’t have to go from zero to cancer. I was already “sick.” A very irrational part of me was happy. Why? Because the part of me that’s always looking for a reason behind my various illnesses thought, “Great! Cancer is probably the cause behind my RA, my anxiety, and my PCOS. And when they get rid of that, all those other problems will go away!” I also fantasized that I wasn’t really overweight but had a fifty pound tumor, and when they removed it, I would have the body of my dreams…

Like I said, irrational.

Did the whole experience change me? I still haven’t decided. Living every day like my last isn’t really possible, not when it’s not actually the last. I mean, the dishes still have to get done. I did decide that if I didn’t have much time left, I would spend quite a bit of it writing because I have so much more I want to say. And if I don’t finish the Godfall series before I die, several people have threatened to come after me in the afterlife, sort of like a reverse haunting. No one wants that.

Time for another pic. Here’s my mom’s cat being zen:

Ah, so soothing.

I am happy I don’t have to go through cancer treatments. Not yet, at least. Hopefully never. I am happy that I get to live more, to write more, to love and be loved more.

I had cancer for a week. Does that make me a survivor? I think I always was one, just not in a cancer-y way. That feels important to say.

Also important: I’m going to see Wonder Woman tomorrow night.

What are you looking forward to?

Pain and Happiness

It’s been a bit of a health roller coaster these past few months. As well as rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve also been dealing with a lot of stomach issues and some mental health issues: namely depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. There’s been new medication and changes of dosage, and well, it’s been a little rough.

But it’s also given me a better perspective on happiness. I think when people look back on their lives, they tend to focus on the negative. Bad times are like giant blinking lights along your personal timeline. And the only good times that really stand out are the orgasmic-ly good times, and those just aren’t as easy to remember. It’s like dread and horror are etched on our psyche, but pure joy is less easy to summon and re-embrace. So sometimes, if we look back—especially from an already depressed state—it seems like the bad outweighs the good.

Living with a chronic condition makes the good easier to see. I know that sounds wacky, but that’s what it’s been like for me. I’ve had periods of such intense pain and panic that I would rather die than live that way forever. Don’t worry, I’m not in danger. You don’t have to run for the phone. 😉 But when those feelings and sensations finally do subside, I’m happy. Right now, my body feels pretty good, and that makes me happy. I’ve learned to divide life into a series of moments, some better than others, and I realize that most of them are happy, even when the bad ones are so very bad.

It’s sort of like writing a novel. If you set out to write a book, it’s easy to fail. Books are long. It’s hard to contemplate writing that many words. But if you set out to write a chapter or a scene or a paragraph, it becomes much easier. Looking at life the same way, it’s easier to see the happier, content moments. The bad times are hard, but they are fewer than the good. That math becomes really simple, and time seems to slow down.

I hope that helps some of you.

Also, I’m totally counting these words toward my nano word count. 🙂

What content little moments make you happy?

You ever feel like everything and nothing is happening at once?

So, I’ve started new meds for stomach pain and anxiety. My doc told me the drugs I’m taking for RA are eating my stomach lining, and that’s triggering anxiety, so two new meds.

Hooray.

Luckily, they seem to be working. It’s just more drugs that I have to remember. It feels like I’m falling apart like an old car some days. I’d like my cyborg body now, please.

I’m still hard at work on the sequel to Paladins of the Storm Lord, which is on schedule to release in May. Before then, if you’re in Austin or Las Vegas in April, we can catch up. I’ll be at the Lone Star LesFic conference and the Romantic Times convention.

The LesFic conference is shaping up to be quite an event. AND they’ll have pre-release copies of Paladins, so you have to come to that. Check out all the deets on their Facebook page.

And now I’m off to get some tacos. Anyone else?

All the crushing things!

I feel like I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now, and it’s adding up to this general sense of anxiety that’s been plaguing me for a few weeks. In the past I’ve experienced something similar, and only time + a lessening of stress has fixed it. I hope that comes soon.

I’m still writing, though! Trying to fight through it. If anyone has any good tips for dealing with stress, I’d love to hear ’em.

You have fifteen minutes

If you’re an aspiring writer, no doubt you’ve heard this before. Writing experts are always pushing to write for just fifteen minutes a day. Like workout machines, they promise results if you can spend a little time doing this one thing every day.

And you know what? They’re right. If you use some of my note-taking methods and jot down bullet points of what you did in your previous writing session, you’ll be able to spend fifteen minutes writing the next day instead of reviewing what you’ve written and getting bogged down with the urge to edit. At fifteen minutes a day, you can write a novel.

I hear you saying, “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have kids. You don’t have another job. You don’t know me. You don’t know my life.”

It’s true. I only have my four furry kids, and the only other things I have to do in a day besides writing are the chores everyone else has to do, but I still know you have fifteen minutes. I won’t bore you with an endless parade of parents or employees that still manage to write. You know they’re out there. You’ve probably met some. And if your family or your job leaves you too wiped at the end of the day to write, do as my friend David R. Slayton recommends and get up earlier in the morning to write while your brain is still fresh.

“What is the point of this?” you ask. “Is it just to make me feel guilty about how much I’m not writing?” Not at all. If the occasional spurt of writing is all you want to do, go for it, but that is a very long, difficult path to finishing a novel. Write short stories or blog posts or articles, but novel writing is a commitment, and long periods of no writing can slow you to a crawl and make you forget everything you’ve done before. Even bullet points can’t save you.

If you really want to write a novel and finish it, find fifteen minutes in a day to do so. And if you can’t find those minutes, ask yourself if you really want to write a novel and why. And for heaven’s sake, stop beating yourself up if it’s not something you really want. I’m asking you to let go of guilt, to let go of this slog if you don’t actually want to do it. And if you finish soul searching, and find that writing a novel is something you really want, I’m asking you to find those fifteen minutes. You might become addicted to them. Fifteen might become thirty or an hour or two hours.

And now I hear you saying, “Goddamn it! With all this other shit I have to do, what is so wrong with wanting a little me time! Why does everything have to be work!” And I’m trying to tell you that writing IS me time. If you’re a writer, if writing and finishing a project gives you the rush it gives me, writing is the best me time ever. You will be the greatest champion your work will ever have; it’s all about you. Everything you write will live on after you, whether it storms the bestseller lists or not. It will be out there forever, a legacy that is wholly yours.

You have an idea.
You have the tools and the will.
You have my support.
You have fifteen minutes.
Go.

Do you review?

Do you ever leave reviews for the books you read on Amazon or Goodreads? Maybe from whatever site you buy them from?

The opinions about reviews are mixed. Some authors say they’re an invaluable way to convince others to buy their books, and some readers say that good and bad reviews definitely sway their purchases.

Others say that reviews are useless because they’re so easily faked nowadays. Authors will get friends to give their books five star reviews, or readers will give their favorite authors good reviews and attack anyone they perceive as a rival author, whether they’ve read the rival author’s books or not.

I’ve also heard some people say that they don’t review unless the review is good, and that makes others think all reviews are even more slanted.

When I review, I try to do it honestly, but there have been times I’ve given a friend with no reviews a good review. I’m as guilty as anyone. But I also read reviews for books I might buy with a grain of salt, judging them by how in-depth the review seems to be. If it just says, “Wonderful! 5 Stars!” I don’t pay it much mind, just as if it says, “Terrible! 1 Star!” Both of those just get glossed over. I also read to see if maybe the reviewer was bugged by something that wouldn’t faze me, like if they really hate prologues (or cliffhangers ^_^). Since neither one bothers me, if that’s the basis for a whole bad review, I disregard it.

Thoughts? Musings? Rants of inconsolable rage? And since we’re talking about reviews, I have to put some links in here. If you read any of my work, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you bought the book. I like honesty, and I’ll only cry where you can’t see. Promise. 😉

A bit of this and that

We’re enjoying unseasonably warm weather down here in Austin, so I’m writing with all the windows open today. To those of you buried under snow around the world, I’m sorry. I’ll think warm thoughts for you.

I’ve been absent off social media lately because my joint pain has been pretty bad. The diagnosis is still up in the air. I had an MRI on Monday with my already painful joints contorted unnaturally for half an hour. I call it the Tube of Death now (patent pending). Hopefully, they’ll be able to tell me something. A friend suggested I cut some gluten from my diet because that helped her. I’ve read some medical sites on the subject, and none of them agree, though most took the attitude of, “Might help, might not.” As long as I continue to get the nutrients I need, it might help. And cutting some carbs is always a good idea (at least for me because I lurve them so). I ‘ll keep you posted on how it goes. (I’m not looking for specific diet sites or meal plans right now, just so you know. I know some people are very passionate about this, but I don’t want to debate, either ^_^.)

I’m hip deep in two different projects right now. More details as they become available.

And just because, here’s a pic of two of my lovely animals:

Roxie

Roxie

Daisy

Daisy

What’s everyone else up to?

Down the rabbit hole

Sorry about the low attendance, folks. I’m rushing to meet a deadline RIGHT as the holidays have arrived, so I’ll be slow to do things for a while. Stay tuned, though, as giveaways for The Fiend Queen are right around the corner. Until then, enjoy my pics of California and Disneyland!

IMG_20141114_204236102This one is from Walking With Dinosaurs, the Arena Spectacular. Well worth the ticket.

IMG_20141117_130833982_HDRThe Ross and I with Captain America.

IMG_20141117_143258248_HDRThe Haunted Mansion done up with The Nightmare Before Christmas decorations.

IMG_20141117_181501233Some Christmas lights from the train.

IMG_20141117_181115957Ditto.

IMG_20141117_182723441Santa!

IMG_20141117_201519708A tree in Downtown Disney.

IMG_20141118_131012830Rodeo Drive.

IMG_20141118_131058261Ditto. Why yes, those are crystal chandeliers hanging from the lamp posts.

IMG_20141118_135150382TCL Chinese Theatre.

IMG_20141118_135211308The cast of Star Trek.

IMG_20141118_144939385Hollywood sign. Duh.

IMG_20141119_161811575_HDR

Some of San Diego Bay

It was a great vacation, but now I’m ready to get back to work. 🙂 What are your holiday plans?

Soon

IMG_20141017_100646557_HDR

Now I have a room almost entirely dedicated to my madness.

It can also serve as a guest room.

GUEST ROOM OF MADNESS.

Could you sleep with all those little eyes on you? Not if I sneak in during the night and move them all closer to the bed. Which sounds like the kind of dick move I would pull.

Sweet dreams.