Friday, December 30, 2005

Treading Water

I'm not sure how long this has been going on, if it started when I came back to the DDJ, or if it began a day or two before Christmas. I finally realized yesterday or perhaps Wendesday evening that my mind feels like an ocean at the moment. The resurgence of my dizziness this week certainly hasn't helped the sensation. I really want to write, I really want to read, I really want to focus on something for more than a few minutes and feel like it sticks with me. I'm treading water in the ocean of my mind, trying to toss my little life-saver-on-a-rope at the various flotsam bobbing nearby on the waves. The water is rather choppy, though, and one moment I can see something I want to snag, but then it disappears before my life saver can get there. Then something else will float into view, and it seems important too, and I toss out the saver--and come up empty. Meanwhile I tread water, expending nearly all my physical energy to keep from going under and using all my mental energy trying not to be bothered by the vastness of the ocean and the urgency of the situation (sooner or later, I won't be able to tread water and I'll have to use the life saver just to stay afloat instead of trying to grab something important). Sometimes I do just hang onto the saver and let the waves carry me along, studying the waters around me with each crest to see what else is in this ocean with me. I can see so much, but I can't reach it.

Ponderous, man, really ponderous.

Seriously, I can't seem to do much more than get through the day. I try to put my mind toward SoD or various other writing projects or just writing in general or even goals for 2006, but they seem to just slip through my grip. Putting this post together has been more difficult than I care to contemplate, and all I'm trying to do is describe my present inability to focus.

Maybe this is just a survival mechanism, keeping me from thinking too much about anything other than getting to the end of the day so I won't get upset about being back at the DDJ and being away from Drew. Maybe my muse needs time to recharge and has shut down more functions than necessary to keep herself sequestered. Maybe I just need to do some deep breathing and reflection to kick myself out of this. I don't know. All I do know is I'm ready to focus again, to ask myself a question and get a thorough answer, to write a chapter and feel immersed in it. I'm ready to snag a life boat so I can get out of the water and observe it and direct my path in it.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I Deserve a Bonus

The DDJ recently went live with a website that was full of grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. In five minutes, I found them all and forwarded them to my manager (sorry, my acting manager). I wonder if I can use this experience to make a case that I'd serve the company better doing technical writing or project management or ANYTHING other than faxing and filing. No, wait, I've already proven this point. It's why I'm doing tasks outside my job description on a regular basis. The company just refuses to officially acknowledge it.

*Looks at countdown at top of page* Only 197 more days!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Second Day is Harder

This is the closest Andrew gets to laying on his stomach. He only tolerates being on his stomach if he's at an angle. He'd much rather lay on his back and stare at his hands or a mobile or space. That was how I found him yesterday when I picked him up. On a play gym mat on his back, holding his hands out in front of him so he could study them and the dangling toys at the same time, grinning and cooing like he hadn't just been away from Momma all day long. I hugged him and hurried home so I could chat with him and grin with him for a bit until it was time to feed him and put him to bed. Then I finally had a chance to unpack. But, aside from some tears when we first dropped him off at daycare, yesterday went very well.

Today hasn't gone so well. No big sob fests, but reality has set in. Whatever parts of my mind were fooled into thinking that yesterday was just a one-time affair have realized that this is what Monday thru Friday will be like from now until July. Add to this the facts that the DDJ is kept at 75 degrees with little to no fresh air circulation, that I keep finding errors and mistakes in how my job was handled for the past twelve weeks, that no one knows anything about the raises except they're supposed to show up on our first paycheck in February, that a big contract is supposedly in the offing as is a round of new-hires and hiring from within but nothing's being done about it and the new contract is supposed to hit in a couple weeks, etc. Argh. Thank goodness the countdown has already passed 200 days.

Hour by hour, day by day, July 14th will come.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Gone...for Now

In this picture, I was trying to capture one of Drew's first real smiles. But the little stinker moved his hand at the last moment to block my shot. Since then, he's been a grinning fool and we've caught at least a dozen smiles. I still like this picture a lot because you can see the smile in his eyes and you know he's having a ball.

I miss seeing that smile so many times during the day. He grins and coos like mad on the changing table. He'll strike up a conversation after a good meal while he sits in my lap or in his bouncy chair. And he loves to look up at the mobile over his bassinet. The only smiles I can see on demand now are ones that are frozen in time. I have to wait until I pick him up or the weekend. I can't just walk over to him and see what he's doing, see if he'll give me one of his amazing grins. I miss that.

Gone for now are the lazy mornings, when Mark and I could babble with our son whenever he woke up because only one of us had to get ready for work. Gone for now are the Momma-and-Drew special times, working our way together through a day, one nap to the next, one feeding to the next. Gone for now are the days of the SciFi marathons and Food Network background noises that kept both Momma and Drew entertained as they went through their day. I know that I'll have mornings and evenings and weekends to fit as much of the above in as I can. And I know that one day, I'll get it all back. But I miss that smile and the coo or laugh that accompanies it. The chance to get a Drew Smile and Coo Special has been keeping me going, one hour to the next, one task after another, closer to the end of the day.

Instead of sobbing because I'm missing more smiles, I'm rather upbeat and chipper because I know what's waiting for me at 5PM. Such positive thinking is remarkably unlike me in such big life-changing times. Guess the Boy brings out the best in his parents.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas

My Christmas gift to my readers: more pictures of Drew! Just what you wanted, right? :) This picture is my favorite, even if it does make my son look like he's already balding. All that's missing is our other cat, and it would've been perfect.

Tomorrow Mark and I endeavor to take Drew to Arizona via air. Seeing as how the last time we took him out (yesterday) he was a bit of a pill, we're not sure how the Little Guy will take to Denver International Airport or the flight itself. It shall be interesting and hopefully not too loud. Keep your fingers crossed that he's passed out for much of the experience.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend. My next post will be about my first day back at work and without the boy. :(

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Proper Focus

At my critique group last night, I realized something about the opening pages of a book. In addition to introducing the setting, the characters, the plot, and all those important things, a reader should also have the proper focus in the opening pages, or else the book doesn't get read. And it's the job of the writer to provide scenes that are only open to one focus. Or at least one primary focus.

For example, in the beginning of SoD, I need readers to focus on the problems Loria faces, not her special history and powers. This is hard to do since Loria is an apprentice goddess and such a job is cool to find out about. My job is to write the scenes so the reader focuses on the problem an apprentice goddess faces and the way she can or can't solve it, while trusting me that all the cool stuff about such a person will be revealed in time. This is a tall order for one of my critiquers. Granted, if when the book is published, such necessary focus will be presented with the back cover blurb. But I can't rely on that in order to get published. The problem is in revealing backstory. Too much and you've given everything away, not to mention bored the reader. Too little and you've confused the reader by not providing any context, let alone the proper one.

I have a feeling I'm going to be struggling with this for a while. Once I figure out a method for addressing the issue, I'll be sure to share it. But that method is certainly eluding me at the moment. I'm just grateful that I've recognized the dilemma for what it is. Makes everything seem more manageable so I can believe that one day I will figure it out. One day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fun with the DDJ in Absentia

Found out this morning that my manager's last day is tomorrow. He's moving on to another position with another company in another part of the country. No word on a replacement. No word on anything. I'm told our president refused to let my manager say word one about this until the Christmas party this past Saturday. Supposedly my manager is trying to get the paperwork and such for our raises finished before he leaves. Nice of him, isn't it? We're not even sure if our clients are aware of this development. Chances are they aren't since most of them are off this week and/or next for the holidays. And I get to go back to work a week from today. Joy. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? Time to go find that countdown code for the blog sidebar. I need it now. Really need it.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Mark and I went out on a date to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our first date, on which we also saw a movie at the same theater we went to last night. Five years ago we saw What Women Want, and I found it entertaining, however distracted I was by playing the Elbow Game on the armrest. Last night we saw Narnia, and the movie, while beautiful, did an excellent job of reminding me why I never liked the book in the first place. I was bored. A lot of things went without explanation that would've made for a richer movie, and a lot of time was spent on set up shots or detail shots and whatnot that again could've been sacrificed for more information. But, as I tried to keep reminding myself last night, that was the problem I had with the book. Not enough complexity. I'll have to watch the movie again to pinpoint the specific places where information that would've been fun to know was just glossed over. And Mark assures me that the sixth book in the series (or the first in its current release order) has all that worldbuilding and backstory info that I craved.

It's hard to believe I could find a book with so many cool elements boring, but I did, and the movie was the same for me. In fact, the White Witch was the most intriguing character to me, and I found myself cheering for her every now and then, especially when she displayed those kick ass fighting skills. Peter did that cute, wide-eyed, "I'm a boy trying to be a man" thing too often for me to cheer for him during the big battle. And then he had this smug "It's good to be king" expression during the coronation. For a two-hour movie, the main plot points and action sped by so fast, without a whole lot of pause for the audience to understand the whys and hows. And then we had like ten minutes of zooming into the front lines of the armies, and I was about ready to shout "Just kill each other already!"

But if you liked the book, I bet you'll like the movie. It seemed to be a well-done telling, with lots of beauty and good casting calls. If you didn't like the book, chances are you'll be able to appreciate the CGI, the casting, the cinematography, etc, but you'll be bored like I was.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Return of the DDJ

After Drew's nasty doctor appointment last week, we went to visit my fine co-workers at the DDJ. They oohed and aahed appropriately. Drew spent some time chatting with my supervisor, but mostly he was all tuckered from the immunizations and showed everyone how angelic he looks while zonked out. It was strange for me to be there. With everything that's happened since the beginning of October, I almost forgot I had a job to go back to. My life's been a series of hours stuck together that make it rather difficult to think too far in the future. But I got smacked with the reality of returning to the DDJ, and I suppose it was best to face it now then on the drive there my first day back when I'm also dealing with putting Drew in day care. I'm not looking forward to that drive to work. I think my vision may be hampered by a flood of tears.

I know the DDJ is temporary, and that the end is now clearly in sight. But it was rather depressing to visit and find out that nothing much has changed since I left. The work I left in the middle of for Drew's arrival is for the most part still waiting for me--even though it was supposedly urgent way back then. More people have left the company, and not all of them have been replaced. And the few replacements are either sub-par or have been given so little training that they may as well be sub-par. I think I may have to put a countdown somewhere on the blog so I can watch the days of the DDJ dwindle.

I'm just glad I was able to take the full 12 weeks that state law allows me. Not just for my health issues, but for my mother issues. Each day with this boy is a gift of firsts, of simple pleasures, of what's really important in life. It's hard to think how I'm going to have to pack all that into the evenings and weekends instead. And I don't want to think about missing his first word, his first crawl, his first rolling over, etc. But the chances of it happening as these few months of necessary day care roll by...ick.

I heard a Best Buy radio ad recently in which the woman said she was a working mom and off-handedly remarked how that was cliche. I was torn between whether such a comment was a victory for women's rights or proof of the double standard women face in the workplace. Would we ever call a "working dad" a cliche? Well, not for a long while yet since we don't even use that descriptor. It's assumed that the dad works, but it's a special thing if the mom works. But now it's also cliche, like so many women are doing this that it's become tired and overused? This strikes me as odd because I thought things like being a housewife or a soccer mom were cliche. So what does that leave women to do to be original? You know what, I don't want to answer that. And I don't want to be labeled a "working mom". I'm a woman with a job who also happens to have a child. Just like Mark is a man with a job who also happens to have a child. Or reverse that. We're parents who also happen to have jobs. That's putting things in the right perspective.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My Characters are Characters

The cat's stopped hanging out on the changing table. Then she started cleeping in the crib. Once that stopped, she began to sleep in the stroller. Well, we now keep the stroller collapsed in the car so now she sleeps in the nursery rocking chair. And that would be fine, except that I've been sitting there a lot lately as Drew goes through a Momma's Boy phase where I either have to be in his direct line of sight, looking at him as well or I have to be holding him. Since I'm going back to work in less than two weeks (more on this later), I don't mind. And today I'm going to try to start sitting at my desk and writing--in the boy's line of sight of course--and see if that will work. That should make Addy happy. She seems to really like the rocking chair, and I'm very happy that she's not hanging out in the crib anymore.

But on to that writing stuff I hope to do. I was plugging along just fine in SoD until I brought the first ten pages to my critique group. Well, I have to be honest, I was coming up against a block in the new stuff too. The group gave me great comments, and I finally figured out how to adjust the opening to ease the reader into backstory and character introductions without a ton of confusion. So I wrote a new scene and now I need to rewrite one scene from another POV. Then I can get back to the brand new stuff. But in order to do the rewrite and move forward, I knew that I needed to get a better grip on my characters' motivations. That would help solidify their actions later in the book and just generally make me feel less like I was pulling everything from Drew's diaper pail.

I chose to unravel character motivations and a few pesky backstory questions by doing that "talk to your character" thing. I've never been good at this. In fact, it only really worked once for me while I was writing The Masque. In that case, I grilled my character as if I were a psychiatrist asking her why she had chosen to start a bar brawl. I decided to give it a try with my SoD POV characters and see what happened. I began each "session" with the quesiton "What do you want most in life?" And then each session took on its own flavor as the characters answered. I'm of two minds about the success of this. The first is a "yay me" attitude. I mean, I've obviously created some great characters if they actually answer me in their own voice and can influence the tenor of an exercise like this with their personality. The second is a profound desire to stay off the shrink's couch myself. Do I really want to know what the success of this sort of exercise means for my already questionable sanity?

Seriously, this was a great tool for me. I learned a lot about characters I already thought I had well pegged. I realized that I still have trouble delving into my heroes, but my heroines and villains are easy as pie. And I also figured out that my hero is going to be much easier to deal with once he meets the heroine. She's going to drive him so crazy, that he'll want someone to talk to. And I'll be waiting to catch every word. And it's OK until they meet because he's getting his ass chased all over the world by the bad guys, so he doesn't have much to do beyond react for the first part of the book. Plenty of conflict there, even if I don't know what makes him tick, or if I don't believe that he's as simple as he's telling me right now. I also got a better handle on later events with this exercise.

I've still got two more characters to put on the couch, and I'm looking forward to what they're going to tell me. And I'm going to conveniently forget any rational concerns about my mental well-being. I'll save that for my memoirs after I sell my fiftieth novel. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Last Friday, Andrew got his first round of immunizations. This means three needle sticks, two very distraught parents, and one initially pissed off then just tired Little Guy. Needles have never been my favorite thing, and this year certainly didn't do anything to endear them to me, but I couldn't even look at the things knowing they were going to hurt my son. I'm so not looking forward to his first bump on the head or scraped knee. And I have no idea how I'll handle a broken bone since I've never broken one myself. I wonder if I'll ever stop cringing at every single owie my little boy gets. No, I'm sure I won't stop--I'll just get better at hiding it from everybody. An internal cringe or wince or wail. Again, I'm reminded how happy I am that he's been just fine and dandy this whole year. I'd gladly take the bruised hands and arms from blown needle sticks and the pain of an open abdominal wound and etc etc if it means he only has to deal with the occasional hunger pain or gas. I know that I can't protect him forever and that he'll run into pain and I won't be able to do anything to stop it. It's just nice that that day hasn't come yet.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

More Good News

(By the way, more pictures are up here, and more will be showing up in the near future, including one of Drew smiling.) The trip to the dentist went well. Once insurance approves the new dentist (the old one no longer taking my insurance), I'll get seated for the permanent crown, the cracked filling repaired, and the permanent crown put on. And then I'll be done with my teeth except for the regular cleanings. That also concludes the Maniacal Medical Issues of 2005. We really, really hope.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

One Down, One More to Go

The boy's beat. He's been carted around to the hospital and the doctor more times than he cares to think about. But at least he learned to enjoy the opportunity to check out some different scenery. And the trips are finishing up.

MRI results confirmed that I just have a little bit of fat hanging on to my liver. No problems, no concerns, just harmless fat clinging to an organ. And the kidney stone isn't big enough to get stuck on the way out, so while it won't feel good if the thing decides to escape the confines of my kidney, it certainly won't remind me of labor.

With all this good news, I'm feeling very optimistic about my dental appointment tomorrow. And it's coming not a moment too soon as that temporary crown has worn down to the nub. I'm expecting a rather stern lecture from the tooth doctor. But at least I can defend myself with excellent brushing habits and an early New Year's Resolution to floss at least every other day if not every day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Let's Hear It for the Boy

Andrew slept for seven hours straight last night! We have no idea when he'll accomplish such a feat again, but we sure appreciated it. It came at the best time, too, since I needed a lot of sleep to get the happy pills for the MRI out of my system. They made me very sleepy. And loopy, and all those good things that you need to be in order to deal with claustrophobia during and MRI.

The drugs almost weren't enough, mainly because I had spent the entire day getting worked up about what the MRI was going to find and because they had to go vein hunting again to hook up an IV for injecting some contrast for an image. So after they finally got the IV kind of in me (he got the vein, but not dead-on or deep enough to make anybody feel confident it was going to stay), I was NOT feeling the happy drugs. I had managed to put aside thoughts of cancerous tumors, but I was absorbed with thoughts of getting a few milliliters of contrast missing the vein and just pooling painfully under my skin instead. I managed to get just about all the way into the tube when I frantically started pressing that panic button. By then I was sobbing and hyper anxious over just about anything that crossed my mind.

I went back to the small private waiting area, got bundled up in warm blankets, got hugs and kisses from Mark and Drew, and tried to calm myself down. THAT'S when the happy pills finally kicked in. So I chilled for a half hour like that and they put me back in the tube, with headphones playing Enya and such. Everything was going fine until they gave me some funky breathing options for a few of the images. I could handle it when they told me to take a deep breath and hold it, but when they told me to take a deep breath, blow it all the way out, and refrain from breathing, that I couldn't do so well. Not sure what sort of impact holding all that glorious oxygen in my system versus expelling all the CO2 meant for the images, but one tech told me to hold my breath, and the other told me to blow it all out, so maybe it's just a personal preference. I do know that I had to have ruined at least two images because my lungs demanded I resume breathing.

And then there was the last image. The one that needed contrast. The injection started, and I promptly felt liquid spilling over my arm. I have no idea how much of the stuff actually got into my vein, but at least it didn't pool under my skin. Hopefully they got enough good images to see what they needed to see. I should hear about the results today or tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer, send happy thoughts. Between all the insanity of my health issues this year, my grandfather's struggle with lung cancer, my father's recent removal of a carcinoma on his cheek, and the loss of Little Quinn, I'm finding it hard to ignore my own mortality and remain optimistic--even despite the fact that every single doctor who's seen the initial CT image of the abnormality is damn near certain it's only a harmless fatty deposit.

But I did have a painless, problem-free eye exam this week. Healthy eyes, just getting a bit more nearsighted. So maybe I've turned the corner on the crazy medical stuff. Unfortunately, there is that dentist appointment looming next week. They'll take x-rays, the first I've had in two years. I already know I have a couple of cavaties in addition to that damn temporary crown. More crossed fingers, prayers, and happy thoughts, please, to ensure that they are ONLY cavaties and there's not need for another root canal due to the time those cavaties have had to set up shop.

Monday, November 28, 2005


I'd meant to hop on-line a bit closer to Turkey Day and say something deep and profound about Thanksgiving and what the day meant to me, with thanks for my son's health--despite the early appearance of teeth and my own quirky medical issues--featuring prominently. And this post was going to be just a delayed "no, really, I'm grateful, just busy" post. Then I read Byzantium's Shores sad news, and the words "thankful" and "grateful" no longer seem adequate and on some level even feel inappropriate.

I've been following Little Quinn's saga since his birth, paying extra attention when I found out I was pregnant. I read their triumphs and trials, furiously taking mental notes about grace, patience, and parenthood in general. As I struggled with the complications from Drew's birth, I often found myself thinking how grateful I was that Drew was in perfect health. I mean, as painful, annoying, challenging, and ironic as my medical issues have been, I always found comfort in the fact that my son didn't have to deal with any of it--beyond the multiple trips to the doctor and ER with his momma. The only concern we've had with Drew was his weight gain in the first few days. Maybe it was the percocet edginess, but those few days of waiting to see him start putting on the ounces instead of dropping them were torture. And Drew wasn't in any pain or discomfort then.

I was grateful before. Now I'm doubly so. And Andrew's latest habit of only calming down in my arms is something I've now added to my Thanksgiving list. Because even though it means I have to type this one-handed, it also means I've got an armful of my son, and there's a father, mother, and sister who had such joyful cuddle time taken from them today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hedging Their Bets?

Have you seen the latest TV ads for the movie Zathura? Notice how the review they quote says, "...the greatest family movie so far this year"? The first time I heard that, I thought, "Um, it's November, nearly December. Shouldn't you feel confident that it's the best of the year? And why would the movie's marketing people think a review that says that at Thanksgiving is going to sound good to anyone with two brain cells to rub together?" And then I remembered that Narnia is coming out very soon, and it's more than likely going to blow Zathura and any other family flick out of the water. And I realized that the reviewer was hedging his bets.

Speaking of strange advertising decisions, there's a wine company quoting a review that says their wine looks like $40 and tastes like $20, but costs less than $12. Does it strike anyone else as a positive thing to say that a product tastes only half as good as it looks? Geez, with the crap marketing and advertising I'm seeing lately, maybe it's a really good thing that I'll be doing most of that work on my own for my books if when they get published (unless I become an overnight success, of course).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Good Writing Links

We weren't quite fast enough with the camera for this one. Just a split second before we took the picture, Drew was doing a perfect imitation of Monty Burns's "excellent" hand gesture. So use your imagination and pretend that Drew is saying "excellent" to these excellent writing links.

Tam wrote a great piece about the importance of writing without the safety net. This is something I started doing last summer while I was unemployed. I faced the dangerous ideas and scenes in my head and tried to do it without flinching. It was really, really hard, too. The characters were hungry, manipulative, and a strange breed of passive/agressive that made me twitch on their own, and then there were the things they were telling me they wanted to do to each other. Quite frankly, it was the sort of idea that you really wish you didn't find lurking in your mind because it makes you think twice about your own sanity. And I still pulled some punches. I still turned left toward beige when I should've kept on the dark path and maybe even turned right into further darkness for the true power of the story. And that was only a short story, people. I'm trying this again with Strings of Discord (man, I really can't find a good title for this one), but I have the sense that I'll have to read for beige in the revisions and rip away that safety net. I did a little bit of that last night as I got to thinking about how Airen would react to a situation. Beige was accepting responsiblity and meekly following the path duty and obligation laid out for her. And I couldn't write it. It felt wrong. So I thought about it, and I realized that it would be such a dangerous shade of puce if she denied responsibility and fought duty and obligation tooth and nail until it was absolutely imperative for her own survival to accept what she had rejected and would hurt her the most to listen to duty and obligation.

Tess Gerritsen also had a great post about writing, specifically about how difficult it is to write a sex scene. See above link to Tam's post about safety for further explanation of why this is tough. This is my favorite bit from Tess's post:
Why is it so much easier to write about autopsy rooms or crime scenes (which, let's face it, most novelists have actually never seen) than it is about sex (which, one assumes -- one HOPES -- that most novelists have experienced.)
Heh. It's the same sort of thing. There's saftey in an autopsy and a crime scene, strangely enough. That's detail writing, and the scope of the environment, the human body, is finite. Once you start writing sex, you have to move beyond the details and get into those pesky, infinite emotions. That's where the danger lurks--especially if your characters are troublesome and have hot pink emotions and not the easier beige ones.

I read so many great author and writing blogs that if I tried to link all the great advice and posts I found, that's all this blog would be. But occasionally I don't have much of my own to say, so I let the pros speak for me and add my own piece.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Now It's Funny

I knew one day that I would be able to laugh at all that's happened this year. That I would be grateful and thrilled enough with the results of everything that a chuckle would emerge instead of tears. Yesterday was that day.

My doctor says I'm ready to start getting back to normal activity levels. The wound still isn't completely healed, but we no longer have to pack it with silver. We're just waiting for it to scab over. I can start slowly trying to get rid of this lovely Santa-esque belly flab (just in time for the holidays, the easiest time to lose weight too, eh?). So I was feeling pretty jazzed toward the end of my appointment yesterday. Everything seemed to finally be going OK--with the exception of that liver abnormality, which will get checked out via MRI in ten days or so. The doctor did have one last parting shot, though. He came back into the exam room with my prescription for the MRI happy drugs and said, "In addition to that liver abnormality, they're also going to check out that kidney stone." To which I replied, "Kidney stone?" Turns out I have a kidney stone that no one mentioned because at least one doctor missed it entirely. I started to laugh as I asked, "You mean, on top everything, I'm going to be passing a kidney stone?"

Chances are that, since it's been six weeks since the CT scan that found the stone and I haven't passed it yet, I probably won't pass it. But it's a fun thing to have hanging over my head. At least I no longer have intense abdominal pain from the c-section, which would've made passing a kidney stone that much more enjoyable. I'm really glad no one told me about the stone six weeks ago. It just might've pushed me over the edge--an edge I was already teetering on more than I should have been thanks to percocet. But hearing about the stone now just struck me as hilarious. I chuckled all the way to the theater for my alone time with some popcorn, peanut M&Ms, and the new Harry Potter flick (lotsa fun, that movie, though I suspect Emma Watson was given some strange acting instructions from the director, namely "ham it up").

Friday, November 18, 2005

Yay for Daddy!

Here's Andrew a few days before 6 weeks, celebrating Daddy's good news in his sleep with a full body stretch. And what, exactly is Daddy's good news? His thesis advisory committee told him that he will graduate--no ifs, ands or buts--in August 2006. He'll defend no later than July 14, and they think there is still a (small) chance he could be ready to graduate in May, which would have him defending April 14. So this time next year, we'll be at the next stop in Mark's scientific career, which is hopefully a scientist position at a biotech company in Arizona. And there's a chance that I can go to part-time work as early as mid-April. I'm not banking on that, and I'm only planning around the July 14 date. But man. It feels so good to have a definite timeline to tell ourselves and our family. And let me tell you how happy Grandmommy is to hear that because if Mark gets the job he wants, we'll be with her in Arizona.

Now all Drew has to do is be patient as Daddy slaves away writing his thesis. Poor guy will have not just one but two parents dividing their time between him and a strange glowing box that they move their fingers in front of.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chompers Already?

A couple weeks ago, I noticed a suspicious white spot along Andrew's gumline. A quick check in my handy first-year reference book told me that teeth don't show up until about six months, so then I worried what the heck this white spot that looked a bit like the tip of a molar was. I stopped worrying when another one showed up in the same spot on the other side of his mouth. It's rare, but teeth can start coming in this early. And he has been a bit fussy lately--the inconsolable variety of fussy. He hasn't started putting his teeth on everything, but what we've been interpreting as feeding cues (sucking and nibbling on his fingers) could be more of a teething thing than a hunger thing, and would explain his lack of interest in a bottle when we bring it. And he has started to drool. His two-month check-up is in two weeks. We'll see what the pediatrician says then. I wonder if this means we'll be starting the joys of mushy peas earlier than most.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Just the Two of Us

This is Andrew's favorite position for sleeping and just chillin'. Now that he's a bit stronger, he even likes to push up from my chest or lay there when I'm sitting up more so he can check out the world. I was hoping to avoid posting any pics of me as the postpartum roller coaster has only recently begun to slow down enough so Momma can look somewhat presentable in pictures, but oh well. And looking at all the pictures I've posted, I've realized that we don't have any digital images ready to post where Drew's older than 16 days. He's changed a lot since then. Mainly because he's chunking up so nicely. Baby fat is so cute. We'll have more pictures of him older by the end of the week, weekend at the latest.

Andrew's also likes to emulate his Momma. The little guy sneezes a lot, just like me. He sneezes at least three times a day with at least three sneezes per episode. Granted, this doesn't come close to my legendary high school sneezing fits (ten loud, violent sneezes in a row, usually in the middle of some class discussion that naturally had to stop until I finished; this happened often enough that it ceased to be a novelty by my junior year classes and the rest of the class would simply wait and pick up right where they left off once I stopped), but he's got time.

My dad and stepmother left early this morning, and that was the last of the visits until the spring. While I enjoyed seeing everybody and watching them ooh and aah over the little guy--and it was heavenly to have everyone around to help me out as I stumbled through my recovery--it's nice to get back to our little family. We can start developing some routines, and I can start doing more and more for myself to help speed along the recovery and return to normalcy. So now it's just me and Drew in the daytime.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Buy This Book

By the way, forgot to mention that Tamara Siler Jones's latest book, Threads of Malice, is now out for you to pick up and read. So hop to it!

Listen to the Voice

Motherhood must have addled my brain a bit (some might argue that it's more than a bit, but that's another post). Either that, or the percocet episodes of strange dreams must have made me stop trusting that little voice in my head--my muse. And, really, if the last voice you remember hearing is Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Serenity telling you to get up at 3:30 AM (the one time Andrew wasn't awake that night, no less) and pump breastmilk, would you trust the next voice you heard? (Prescribed narcotics can be rather entertaining, no?)

So when I finished one chapter in Strings of Discord recently, I ignored the voice that was all geared up to write a chapter in Airen's--one of my MCs--POV and went with the logical, anal retentive, scientist in me and decided to write a chapter in one of my villain's--Corla's--POV as that was the proper chapter in the sequence I had established for all of one round of chapters. I had a vague idea for Corla's chapter, but something niggled at me and prevented me from writing it, so I did a bunch of note-transferring and worldbuilding details instead. Stuff that needed to be done, but no actual first draft creation. After a week, I had done enough of the notes and stuff to get me itching to write draft material but was confronted with a chapter it seemed I didn't want to write. Then I finally asked myself, is the Corla's chapter really the one that comes next logically?

Turns out, it wasn't. I figured this out by doing one last little worldbuilding thing: making a scale for my world map. I had the sneaking suspicion that Corla's chapter, a scene set in a desert oasis that reveals some of what they have in store for my other MC, couldn't happen next in line as it would be physically impossible for the villains to get to that desert oasis before the events of Airen's next scene had to occur (waking up after causing elemental havoc in a fayrie grove). I could easily fudge two days of unconciousness for Airen, but not the four or five it would take for the villains to get from the port town of Evarener to the oasis. So, the little voice of my muse was right to get excited about writing an Airen scene as that's the scene that must come next for the logic of the story.

All this would've been clear if I had created a scale for the map way back when I actually drew up the map (over a year ago). But the concept of distance on a fictional world threw me. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around that idea. I mean, I had no clue as to how much a horse could conceivably travel in a day, and that was the only real starting point my mind gave me. If I wanted my group to take x number of days getting from point A to B for plot purposes, then that was the one fact I needed to make an appropriate scale. Yesterday I got sick of spinning my wheels on the issue and looked up a fantasy book that I knew had a map with a scale and an easily remembered scene where the length of time traveled is clearly mentioned: Holly Lisle's Talyn. That gave me enough to provide my own scale.

I'm sure there's some standard way to do this or something, but I never found it in my internet hunting, and I never got wise enough to actually, duh, ask somebody. It's a moot point now, anyway, as I have a functioning scale for my map of Velorin. However, I don't think I'll include it on the map that will accompany this book if when it gets published, as I'm not confident enough in the preciseness of the scale for it to hold up to intense reader scrutiny.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Interesting Vocabulary

Amazing how having a kid alters the words you use every day--both words you use in your mind and words you use when talking to others. I don't even want to count the number of times I've said "poop" and "poopy". And the phrase "peed his onesie" gets used much more often than I want--especially because it involves frequent laundry loads. Thankfully, though, "golden shower" has only been uttered twice since Drew's birthday. The word "burp" features prominently, as does "nap". Speaking of, I'm going to try to catch an hour now while the boy is sleeping and then do some writing stuff this afternoon now that I've taken care of the on-line stuff.

But before I go, I had meant to link to some good news of Holly's. She's going to self-pub a workshop booklet thingy on creating characters. She's hoping to get it out in print and e-book format early next year. I'm looking forward to it.

Now, time for the nap.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Random Sampling

Took a break this week while my grandmother was in town. Just did a lot of resting and reading, storing up some "me" time because I know it'll be sparse for a while. Haven't even been on-line since Monday. I should get into more of a regular schedule next week--assuming Andrew doesn't make a habit of staying up from 11:30PM to 3:30AM like he did last night. So, I just have a few random thoughts and links to post today.

It's possible to have enough sleep to perform most essential life functions and still goof on a few big things. Just ask Mark, who took the car to work on Wednesday and by the end of the day forgot he had and took the bus back home. He didn't realize what he had done until we walked out of our apartment Thursday morning for my doctor's appointment and couldn't find the car. The great comedic moment of the whole thing was when he turned to me--the person who hasn't driven the car in over a month, who isn't allowed to drive the car for at least another two weeks--and asked, "Where's the car?"

If one of the two quotes on a book cover mentions a "masterful interplay of subjective views", then chances are you're not in for a good action-packed character-based fantasy, regardless of the content of the author's previous novels. Such a quote would be a good bet for a nice philosophical read, but that's not usually what I'm looking for when I pick up a book, especially one by Jacqueline Carey. I read 300 pages before I realized that I wasn't quite sure what was at stake for the characters in the book beyond having their beliefs questioned by themselves and those of the opposing side. Maybe Banewreaker is just one of those "smart" books and I'm revealing my latent stupidity by not enjoying it or seeing its genius, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish the book. Can't believe I gave it 300 pages as it is. I turned around and read Bio Rescue in a day to scrub the experience from my mind.

Food Network and HGTV are great stations to put the TV on when you're moving around the house and such. No matter what show is on, you can always catch some sort of helpful hint whenever you happen to be in the room. Good background noise.

Newborns have some sort of sixth sense that enables them to know exactly when their parents need a nap the most so they can pick that particular time to begin fussing.

Losing 35 pounds in four weeks is awesome--unless you still have 25 more to go and the 35 you have lost are the easy pounds: baby, placenta, fluid weight, and the kicking in of fat stores for breastfeeding. It's especially less enjoyable if you're not allowed to exercise for an indeterminate amount of time. Compound this with the joys of stretch marks, and you find yourself remembering the body you had a year ago, which was already 10 pounds overweight, and realizing you'll never, ever see it again. But, hey, at least I don't need a wheelchair anymore to travel more than ten feet.

And something entertaining to end with.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Brilliance in Disguise, I'm Sure

I've seen a couple of really dumb things lately. The first was a bumper sticker that said, "I brake for trees." Um, most people do. Part of that whole trees don't bounce off my bumper or pass easily under my car thing. Made me wish I had a bumper sticker that said, "I brake for large slabs of concrete." The other oh-so-bright thing I saw recently was a guy riding a bike, crossing a major road diagonally nowhere near a crossing while talking on a cell phone. I'm thinking Darwin Award candidate. I also heard about something stupid secondhand. A friend of mine also had her c-section incision open up a while ago. She naturally went to the ER when she noticed the thing was bleeding. The wise tech who triaged her wrote "heavy vaginal bleeding" down on the white board. Now, I may not have taken anatomy, but I'm pretty sure there's a world of difference between the abodminal area where they cut for a c-section and the area where babies come out naturally.

People constantly amaze me with their lack of intelligence, but thankfully they also regularly astound me with their kindness and brilliance. So I guess it all evens out in the end. But those lapses can sure make you wonder about the world sometimes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Catching Up

I'm trying to get back into a routine with my writing and my on-line stuff. Of course, Andrew dictates my schedule and when he's not running the show, my wound healing needs do. The hope is to get back to a daily on-line blog read and post--at least every weekday--and to write whenever I can find a moment, hopefully more days than not each week so I can get back to my 2-3K a week writing habit at minimum. I have no idea how long it will be before I get to those goals. For example, I had hoped to do a couple hours of writing this morning but my body had other ideas and I spent the entire day in bed until it was time for my doctor's appointment. Just needed the rest, apparently.

The goal of taking things day by day, living in the moment, that I had given myself at the beginning of the year is back. Now by necessity. I really can't plan beyond the moment with Drew. I'm learning to take whatever I can, when I can. It'll be an interesting time as I heal. And I'm not even letting myself think about after maternity leave at the moment. So hopefully I can get into a pattern or at least a better sense of "normal" with my writing and blog stuff. Helps the whole sanity thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

More Medical Amusements

Just got back from the hospital again. This time it was for an MRI to inspect my liver. When I went to the ER two weeks ago and had a CT scan of my c-section, the results revealed a 2cm abnormality on my liver. The radiologist figured it was nothing to get worried about, probably a fatty deposit since I did pack on a decent amount of weight during the pregnancy. But they ordered an MRI anyway to take a good look at the thing and make sure it was nothing to get our panties in a twist over. So I took my happy drug this morning to prepare me for the joys of claustrophobia, we bundled Drew up, and off we went to the hospital complex for the sixth time in two weeks. They're thinking of reserving a spot for us now.

Anyhoo, we were just starting to get me all prepped for the experience when one of the techs asked if I had any metal in my body. Mark, genius that he his, says, "Wait a minute, does the silver nitrate in your wound packing count?" All conversation stops and off the techs go to consult with the radiologist. Sure enough, trying an MRI on a patient with silver-treated wounds can result in serious burns on said patient becuase silver heats up fast in an MRI. So no MRI for Kellie today, and the radiologist gave me extra assurances that it certainly could wait, that the MRI would most likely reveal a completely benign fatty deposit.

Really, the crazy health issues of 2005 will be funny later. Well, after taking the happy pill this morning, it was pretty funny today. By the way, the open abdominal wound is also preventing me from finishing that damn root canal that was started way back in March. This temporary crown is one tough motha'.

So that liver abnormality was the last of the current spate of medical issues that I hadn't yet revealed. Not counting my fun reaction to percocet. Tripped out nightmares, waking up thinking someone had told me to pump breastmilk or that the nurse taking care of me in the postpartum ward was trying to steal Andrew, etc. When I hit a crying jag and a depression spiral that I just couldn't get out of, my mother realized what was happening and switched me to vicadin. But now I'm off all pain killers, except for the occasional motrin. And the antibiotics finished up yesterday, so I'm back to just taking fiber and multivitamins. Yay, no more extensive pharmacy on my nightstand.

The good news from this, though, is that Drew has managed to charm the entire medical facility and bring smiles to lost of various patients in the ER and such. Not hard to imagine why, he's such a cute little guy.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Yes, the Birth of Andrew itself was quite a process, requiring a long, intense post. The Recovery from the Birth of Andrew requires one as well. Momma and Drew really worked hard at the breastfeeding thing while recovering in the hospital, but the little tyke still lost 14% of his birthweight by the time we went home. This was on a colostrum diet, not actual breastmilk, though, so the docs weren't really worried. Plus, Drew wasn't too jaundiced, so home we went. And within a couple of days of feeding on actual breastmilk, Drew was starting to put on the ounces. That's about the time that Momma's health took a dive. Spiked a fever, intense abdominal pain, fun.

Out to the ER we went on the coldest, rainiest night of the fall, with Andrew all bundled up. He was the hit of the ER, charming everyone, male and female. Momma, however, was stashed in a room and ignored as she wasn't a heart attack or head wound (I do understand triage, and I don't blame the ER staff a bit) until she started all but screaming in pain. That got everyone moving. And that also brought the needles. The ER guy was a pro, though. Stuck me on the first try on my wrist to get both the blood he needed and my IV set up. Even with my husband and son in the room with me, I was about ready to kiss that guy.

Several hours and a CT scan later, the pain was manageable thanks to some drugs, and it was revealed that I had a hematoma around my c-section incision. That and they were fairly certain I had endometritus (uterine infection). To make sure that I wasn't also harboring a blood infection, they needed more blood. A LOT more blood. Four techs and six sticks later, they got it, and I received several more colorful bruises on the backs of my hands. Then they ran some antibiotics through my IV to start fighting the infection and sent me on my way.

A couple days later, the doc said the hematoma was rather normal, that most patients got them after similar surgery, that the body would reabsorb the blood, that I just needed to take it easy and let the antibiotics fight the infection and my body do its thing. Then I felt really good the next day and decided "taking it easy" could involve moving around the house for an hour or so, getting things put away from the hospital visit and cleaned up a little for my mother's visit. That night I noticed that my incision from the c-section had started to bleed. Back to the doctor we went the next day, my mother in tow fresh off the plane. Doc opened the incision a little more and packed some gauze in the sucker. Turns out the hematoma would rather bleed out through my incision instead of reabsorb into my body like a nice pool of blood.

A few more days and another trip to the ER later, and about two-thirds to three-quarters of my incision has been opened up, cleaned out, and is packed regularly with silver nitrate and gauze. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have an open wound on my abdomen. Right now I'm very happy about the extra belly flab hanging around that prevents me from seeing the damn thing, although it's nice that the belly has diminished enough that I can now see my knees and feet (and, man, is it ever so nice to no longer have horribly swollen feet and ankles). We're thinking that the hematoma was fairly severe due to all the effort needed to pull my darling son from my body and that my bout of activity just sort of helped it get going with what it was going to do anyway. I go to the doctor's once a week for checkups on the thing, and a wound care specialist visits me three days a week for expert cleaning, packing, and dressing. I'm only allowed to shower just before her visits. It's not too painful, though, which is nice. Just some occasional stinging and pulling at the skin that's uncomfy. I'm just hoping that the rest of the incision remains sealed and doesn't zipper open like the doc and the wound care nurse think it will. It's not necessarily a bad thing if it opens all the way, just means more wound to clean and pack. But it would be nice to give my body some sort of victory in this.

The doc won't let me go back to work until the wound is completely healed. So my return date for work is up in the air again, pending the progress of my healing. The good news in that is that I can stay at home with Andrew on disability pay for as long as the doc says I still need healing time. The bad news is pretty simple: who wants to take a long time to heal from anything, let alone an open wound in the abdominal region?

So that's been my life since Andrew showed up (minus one other health issue that I'll reserve for another post once I get more info on it; you didn't expect the health fun to stop with just a flesh wound, did you?). Again I say, he's worth it. I'm not the happiest camper to be going through this experience, and believe me when I say it's pretty rare. But all I have to do is hold my little guy and things feel better.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Laborious Details

He's worth it. "It" being the craziness of the entire pregnancy and the insanity of the past couple weeks, and I'm talkin' 'bout more than just midnight feedings and poopy diapers. You didn't think that my health issues would end with the delivery, did you? But that's another post. This is for the story of how Andrew decided to make his entrance. Be forewarned: this post is long and may be a bit too, um, detailed for the faint of heart.

So the previous post indicated he came by way of c-section, which was something we weren't planning certainly and hadn't expected. As I mentioned before, they gave me some prostaglandins sometime between 4 and 5 PM on Monday, October 3 to officially start labor for me. This was after getting stuck with various and sundry needles eight times in an attempt to get my IV hooked up and some blood drawn. It took a seriously gifted anesthesiologist to get the IV in me, and even he wasn't able to do it in a way to get some blood from me before hand. In the end, they had to settle for a finger lancet to do the couple of tests and wait until I had my epidural in later so they could draw from an ankle vein for the test that needed more blood. Eight times, and you should have seen the blood bruises all over the backs of my hands. It was probably the worst part of the entire delivery experience, and that's really, really saying something.

Anyway, those prostaglandins did get some contractions going, but they weren't patterned and they weren't doing much by way of dilation. So after a few hours of that, they hooked me up to a pitocin drip, and THAT got the contractions going. It also pissed off Andrew. So they turned the pitocin off and decided to break my water. That got contractions going, too, but by then it was after midnight, and I was still only 2 or 3 cm.

Also by this point, Drew had made it very clear that he only wanted me in bed on my left side or else his heart rate would do funky things and my blood pressure would skyrocket. This annoyed me because I couldn't manage the labor pains in that position. Not because the labor pains were all that bad. Seriously. Pain with the sort of purpose that labor has isn't so difficult to bear. But the friggin' hip pain that had plagued me for the last month of my pregnancy was still with me. So I would get through the contractions only to find myself having to deal with another sort of pain, one that had no purpose. And they wanted me to sleep and prep for a fun-filled day of serious labor. On came the drugs. Just a narcotic to ease the pain and help me sleep.

Well, the sleep was good, but it also stopped the contractions that had started due to breaking my water. Back to the pitocin drip we went, which didn't bother Andrew as long as I was in bed, on my left side. After a few hours of that, I was ready for the epidural. Again, not so much because of the contractions--which, don't get me wrong, were no picnic--but because of that damn hip pain. That amazing anesthesiologist who managed to get the IV going also did my epidural. Process took five minutes or so and, beyond some funky sensations, didn't hurt a bit. Bye-bye hip pain. And anything else bothering me below my belly button. The epidural also relaxed me enough that I went from 5.5 cm to 10 cm in two hours. That's when we started to push. Things got even more interesting after that.

My son is quite gifted at doing things in not quite a usual fashion. Takes after his Momma that way. Takes after her very well. After an hour and half of intermittent pushing attempts, the doctor came in and said that the kid wasn't going to come naturally. Not enough room, apparently. Anyone who's seen my hips can now pick their chins up off the floor. This was a natural assumption for the doctor, the likeliest of reasons that little Drew's head wasn't coming down any farther in the birth canal despite his mother's very good pushing. We found out in surgery that the doctor's first thought wasn't right.

The worst two hours I was in labor were spent anticipating the c-section. Neither Mark nor I had wanted one, and I was a decent bit terrified. I don't think my pulse got down below 140 during the waiting time. And my stomach couldn't seem to figure out if it wanted to turn itself inside out or just leave my body all together. The nice anesthesiologist gave me more fun drugs, Mark got all scrubbed up, and off we went to the surgery room.

It is a remarkably strange sensation to be awake during major surgery. I didn't feel any pain, but I sure as heck felt the tugging and pressure of being worked on. The proper word to describe this is again "funky". Once they got me open (and it was entertaining to watch Mark battle between curiosity and blood ickiness; kept standing up to see what they were doing and immediately sitting back down with a nauseated look on his face), the doctor realized that Drew had plenty of room to come out naturally. He had just decided to turn his head at an odd angle on the way out and got himself good and wedged inside me. Yup, the kid was stuck. And I'm not talking "he's a baby with limited space and can't twist his way free" stuck. I'm talking "break out the jaws of life and call in for reinforcements" stuck. He had himself so wedged in me that he bruised the crown of his head and his ear. I had thought the sensations of feeling but not feeling surgery was the pinnacle of strangeness for my labor experience. Nope. Hearing two doctors grunt and strain to remove the child from inside you, THAT'S the pinnacle of strangeness. I kept wanting to say, "Hey, easy down there. That's my SON you're tugging on."

But after much pulling and oofing and various other coaxing techniques, Andrew was free at last and squawking to the world about it. Daddy got to hang out with him through all the fun first few minutes of his life while Momma lay flat on her back so the docs could put her back together after all that. I got about a minute of face time with Drew (and it was only his face, and not even all of it, that I could see through the masses of blankets around him) before he and Daddy were whisked away for more baby care (bathing, tests, eye goop, etc). And because I was the third c-section of the day, there was no room for me in the L&D recovery area, where I could be there for all his first hour or so of life as well, I was wheeled down to emergency op recovery. They took good care of me there, and the blessed nurse gave me ice chips and water, an act that qualified her for sainthood by that time for me.

Finally, I made it back up to the Postpartum ward, where my husband and son waited for me. Andrew slept with me in the bed that night on a pillow by my side with my arm around him. Best night of my life.

From injection of the prostaglandins to Drew's forced extraction from my womb, my labor lasted about 24 hours. And the contractions and pushing were the easiest parts of the entire experience. Never thought I'd be saying that. A lot happened to get to that point of Drew's first squawk. And the fun didn't stop there, of course. But he's worth it. Look at that picture. Of course he's worth it. More pictures can be found here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Drew's Here!

Mark posting here (hello!). Kellie had a C-section yesterday, so she's not as mobile as she was before. Here are the official stats:

Andrew Thomas was born on 10/04/05 at 5:00 PM. He is 7 lbs. 1 oz. and 19.5 inches long. Mom and baby are both healthy and recovering well. Stay tuned for a full Labor & Delivery report once Kellie is closer to normal strength.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Andrew in Progress

Went in for my due date check-up this morning. Still had high blood pressure, but this time the amniotic fluid levels were on the low side. Doc decided might as well induce. That was at 11:30 this morning. Right now, I'm three hours into a prostaglandin treatment and experiencing contractions that hopefully are taking me from the 2cm I was this morning into something more productive. No idea how long this will take or how much more "fun" it's going to get. So far, the worst part about this experience was getting an IV in me and taking some blood. My veins haven't been cooperating for the past three weeks. I got stuck eight times today in order to get the blood and the IV going. Didn't enjoy it.

Well, this here 'puter is the only one for L&D, so I'm going to hop back off. Wish me luck, say a prayer, and think happy birthing thoughts. The next post will be Drew's big announcement.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fate Wasn't Tempted

We thought we'd be smart and tempt fate this weekend. Made plans to see Serenity last night, figuring Drew and Murphy would conspire to make my water break half-way through the flick. Nope. Which is OK, because I really wanted to see all the movie and I got to. Excellent, excellent flick, by the way. Go. See. Now.

So, still no Andrew. And our clever ruses to get him out don't seem to be working. Annoying little runt. Let's come out soon, kid. Daddy and I are getting a might bit impatient.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Bargaining Power

At last we finally have something to entice Andrew to leave his comfy, responsibility-free dwelling. His first trip. Mark and I won free airline tickets last night. On a whim, we decided to grab dinner at a local fast food place. For some reason, Mark ordered a large drink rather than the usual medium that we split and refill as often as necessary. The cup had a game piece on it, which neither of us would've noticed if the cashier hadn't mentioned it. I pulled off the piece and read "Winner: 2 domestic airline tickets!" I didn't think much of it, since I never win those things, and figured we'd have to sign up to redeem on-line--but only after agreeing to buy Napster for a year or some other such restrictions. But, no, we really won one of ten airline ticket prizes (odds of winning it are something like 1 in 23,000). Well, I should say we potentially won it. The sweepstakes folks have to verify our eligibility and blah, blah, blah.

How does this figure into Drew's imminent arrival? Simple. We made a deal. We told Drew that if he gets my water to break no later than before I leave my due date check-up at the doctor's on Monday, then he can come with us wherever we decide to go. If there's no water breakage by the time I leave the doctor Monday morning, then it'll be a nice Mommy and Daddy trip and Drew will stay at home. It's up to him. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Andrew's snug as a bug in a rug. Healthy as can be and showing no signs of wanting to get out into the world. My bod, however, is showing signs of distress. But only enough signs to get them worried and make me bleed and pee for the lab countless times, not enough to make them induce labor. Everything keeps coming back within normal limits--so far (the latest round of lab work is still waiting to be analyzed). It's not fun to go in every week, get that "hmmmm" frown when they look at my blood pressure, swollen ankles, and friggin persistent weight gain. (I never, EVER, want to be told that I've put on six pounds in one week again, and I also never want to see the number 220 on a scale under my feet ever again.) But then I'm always told that everything's still within normal levels, though just barely, so see you next week. Gah!

I know it's best to wait until nature takes its course if everything is otherwise healthy. But this is really frustrating.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Why I'm Not Watching the Recent Spate of Major Network SF

Just in case you've missed my gushing about the shows of SciFi Friday and the various and sundry cool SF and Fantasy movies that have come out over the past few years--oh, and let's not forget the subject matter of my writing and the books I read--I'm a big SF and Fantasy buff. So you might be surprised to learn that I have no intention of watching Threshold (CBS), Invasion (ABC), Surface (NBC), or Killer Instinct (Fox). And you might be even more surprised to learn that I have not been tempted once to watch any of these shows. Well, I did try to catch some of Invasion during the Law & Order commercial breaks last week, but that was more because our dinner guest was somewhat interested in the show. Why would a SF and Fantasy fan not be interested in these shows?

First off, the Killer Instinct promos showed BIG, HAIRY, UGLY SPIDERS crawling over people. I have better things to do with my time than watch a TV show as phobia-conditioning therapy. Plus, I can't for the life of me figure out what the hell the show is supposed to be about other than watching creepy crawlies do their icky creepy crawly thang.

Secondly, the promos for the other three shows always struck me as promos for a mini-series at best but really more appropriate for a made-for-TV movie. I either couldn't get a sense of what was going to happen in the show, or I couldn't find a thread that would last for more than a few episodes, making me wonder just the heck I was supposed to be watching. I'm suspecting this is more a fault of the network advertising campaigns than the writing quality of the shows, but I'm not in the least bit driven to find out if I'm right. Let's look at each show.

Threshold - There's an alien invasion coming, and they've used some cool looking crop circle symbol to brainwash us (I think?) in advance of their arrival. That's all I got from the promos. Cool premise for a movie, maybe even a mini-series, but a full-blown series that is supposed to have staying power for more than one season? I'd need to know more about why the aliens are invading or just what the heck they hope to accomplish other than "take over the world." Yawn. Why would I watch that show when I can watch the SG-1, Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica summer season reruns on SciFi instead?

Invasion - Aliens are HERE! And a young girl's mother smells funny! Watch this show! Yeah. That was the gist of the promos I saw. And the snippets of the premiere I caught last week didn't even get me caring about any of the characters, with the possible exception of the cat that ran out in the storm. Again, why are aliens here? A premise of "aliens used a hurricane to cover their invasion" is not going to get me to watch a TV show. Again, why? When you've got two other shows running with "ALIENS ARE COMING/HERE" as the hook-the-viewer premise, you'd think one of the networks would try to find a way to make their "oh no, aliens" show at least sound unique. And "Mommy, you smell funny" just don't cut it. I haven't been all that enthused with Law & Order for a while, but I'd still rather watch that than Invasion.

Surface - This looked like a cheesy SciFi original movie from the first promo I saw. Not only did I have no sense of a premise that could fill a series, I was left wondering why I should care about an alien from the deep brought ashore. It should really tell you something that I don't even consider this show procrastination-worthy material for my Monday night writing times.

When you pitch a series to me as part of a fall line-up, you've got to do a couple things. First, you need to hook me with a complete premise. Just screaming "The ALIENS are coming! The ALIENS are coming!" ain't gonna do it. That's hardly a premise. The aliens are coming to do what and why. That would be better. It'd be even more complete if you worked in the human response. You know, the conflict. The premise the major networks gave for their SF shows is the query letter equivalent of "Please buy my 150,000-word epic fantasy about an evil sorceror." Yeah, that'll grab an editor or agent right out of their chair. Second, if you want me to invest my hard-earned free time in your new show, you better give me a sense that this will be viable series for at least one season but hopefully more. Pitching me an incomplete premise is not going to instill any confidence in this matter. And, for cryin' out loud, if your competitors are running with similar shows, spend some time telling me why yours is unique when you pitch the darned thing.

I dunno, maybe I'm not their intended audience. Maybe these series are pitched to short attention spans who think the premise of "AACK! ALIENS!" is enough to waste an hour once a week on. Maybe market research demonstrated to the networks that promos don't have to provide a complete premise or the sense of series longevity. But as a SF and Fantasy fan, reader, viewer, and writer, the networks really failed to generate even a smidgen of my interest in these shows. Even the curiosity of "is it the writing of the show itself or just the network promotions" isn't enough to get me to watch even one of these things.

Or this could just be a sign that I've outgrown television as a viable use of my free time. That a show has to offer more than 30 or 60 minutes of passable entertainment for me to take the time to watch it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Writing Status

It's been a while since I posted an update on my writing. The last you heard, I was buzzing over a great crit and perhaps letting my head swell with the possibilities. Since then, I've been revamping the first 15K or so of SoD, and I just started into the new stuff. My word count has increased, but I can't remember the exact total, so the sidebar's not updated as yet. It's somewhere around 23K, thanks to the new scenes I've added to the first bit I wrote and the new material I've just gotten to this week.

I'm really glad I went back and overhauled the first 17K I had written. The beginning is much stronger and actually introduces and emphasizes the correct threads. The following scenes got rid of the vague "we're sorta doing and saying what needs to be here, but don't ask us to get specific" writing that plagues the first 20K of my first drafts as I figure out just what the hell I've begun. I have a very clear sense of direction and purpose for writing the rest of the first act, a lot of the details of Acts 2 & 3 have revealed themselves, and the arcs of the characters over the course of the entire series are gelling a bit better for me.

I guess this means I've figured out something about my writing process. I can do a good amount of planning to get me going, but I'll probably still need to stop and go back over the first 20K to get a better foundation. This process may have to be repeated as I go through the book. I think this is what really tangled me up in The Maque. I thought I could keep moving forward, and that taking notes on the scenes I wanted to change, the plot threads I wanted to tweak or introduce, and the character arcs I wanted to adjust would be enough to address the evolving work. Not so. No matter how meticulous my notes on those changes were, I still tried to keep it all in my head so I could maintain a clear picture of what the previous parts of my book would one day look like to help me write the new stuff. Doesn't work for me. If I figure out how I need to change the stuff that's come before where I'm at, I will most likely need to go back and make those adjustments. I can't let go of it, because I need it to remind me what I have to do as I move forward. Too many balls to keep juggling.

Now I'm writing brand new stuff again. Like what I'm getting. I still hold out hope that I'll be able to get a lot closer to 60K by the end of the year, but as long as I don't gum myself up like I did for HD or The Masque, I'll be happy. Just keep things moving and flowing and the book will get finished.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Things I Already Know About Drew

Andrew is playing the "Maybe-Maybe Not" game with my uterus. Had a couple of promising moments this weekend with patterned contractions--then Drew changed his mind and everything stopped before we hit an hour of fun. If he wants to make his 8:26 PM on Sept 26 deadline that he reported to Mark, he needs to get moving. I'm all for a fast, painless labor, but somehow I doubt I'm gonna be holding this kid by 8:30 tonight if I ain't feeling nothing to make it happen at 3PM. Anyway, I don't know what this littly tyke's going to look like, what color his eyes will be, how big he's going to be, etc. But there are a few things that are certain.

  • Blood Type - Mark and I have the same exact blood type. Andrew is going to be O+.

  • Buffalo Bills Fan - Mark's from Buffalo and his family his very enthusiastic about this team. It's a good thing I've liked them myself since their amazing comeback win over the Oilers all those years ago. If Andrew doesn't get the hint and cheer for Buffalo to the exclusion of all other NFL teams, Mark may insist on drastic measures such as shock therapy.

  • Strong Feelings About Science - With Mark and me rearing this kid, Andrew is either going to appreciate science the way we do or absolutely despise it because his parents are such geeks. Ambivalence is not an option.

  • Strong Feelings About the National Park system - Same reasoning as above. Either he'll love it like we do or get sick of it as we drag him camping all over the place looking at nature. But we might have some problems if Drew can't see any beauty in the Grand Canyon.

  • That's all I can think of at the moment. I've said this before, but I'm tired of the guessing game and really just want to meet this guy. I'd like to see him smile, look into his eyes. It'd be nice to see the kid I've been nurturing and protecting for the past nine months.

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Bite Me, Murphy

    Applying for jobs while nine months pregnant ain't easy. The only upside I've found to it is that the market is so tight right now that I'm not getting interviewed, so it's a moot point. That just changed. It should also figure that within minutes of receiving information that made me glad I hadn't been called for an interview with one company, that company up and calls me for a phone interview. It's also a testament to Murphy and his friggin' law that, despite the fact that I was interviewed over the phone, it still came up that I was pregnant because she needed firm dates on when I could start and how available I would be for an in-person interview over the next couple weeks. Still, I think I did very well in the interview. I'll be hearing back in the next two to three weeks.

    I would like to mention how I think I fooled Murphy, though. I played this game with myself in junior high that imagining/day-dreaming about a boy asking me out meant it was less likely to happen, so I would day-dream about another boy asking me out to at least not decrease my chances of the one boy paying me attention while still giving me the fun of doing that silly girly-girl day-dreaming stuff. Never really worked, except to distract me from what I really wanted (which actually worked with Mark, as all the stupid over-analyzing stuff I tended to do in the first phases of attraction became focused away from Mark, thus making it easier for things to go well with Mark, and, no, I'm not going to try to re-read that to see if it made any sense). So last night I put together a scenario of me being in labor during my phone interview today, or what would happen if my water broke. I had plans of action and various stock things to say, all the while knowing that I was doing an end-run around Murphy's Law to ensure that neither thing would happen. Apparently, it worked.

    And now you know way too much about the silly twists of my thought patterns and processes.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Threads of Malice

    Tamara Siler Jones needed someone in my region to serve as an advance reader and hype-generator so she sent me an advanced reader copy of Threads of Malice, to be released October 25. I read her first book, Ghosts in the Snow, earlier this year. The book was a thoroughly enjoyable read--good mystery, neat concept with the ghosts (the sleuth, Dubric, is cursed with the ghosts of murder victims who haunt him until he solves the crime). Tam did a great job of keeping you constantly doubting whether or not you should ignore the obvious suspect because he was the obvious suspect. While it's the first book of a series featuring Dubric and his team, it's not a necessary read to understand the events of Threads. But it does give you an excellent introduction to the world and the characters and you've got a month to wait until the next book is released, so go read it! On to my review of Threads.

    One by one, young men in the kingdom's outer reaches are vanishing into the dark. So far, two bodies have washed up on the local riverbank. But Dubric Byerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, soon realizes there are countless more victims... for it's his curse to be forever haunted by the ghosts of those whose deaths demand justice. Only, these latest ghosts are unlike any Dubric has ever seen – their tortured bodies bearing witness to horrors beyond imagining.

    The latest to vanish is Braoin, a seventeen-year-old painter whose mother came to Dubric's aid when he most needed it. All Dubric knows is that the boy is still alive. But time is running out, and it isn't only Braoin's life hanging in the balance. If Dubric can't untangle the twisted web of clues and lies and find his way to the killer, one of his own pages will be the next to die....

    This is an absolutely phenomenal book. While Ghosts is more of a forensic thriller that happens to occur in a fantasy setting, Threads is a seamless blending of the two genres for a unique and engaging read. Dubric gets away from the castle and into the common areas of his king's lands, and I think that's what really pulls the fantasy into greater relief. There's such a richness of character to the land and society that Tam describes and uses for her story. The world's magical backstory takes on a greater role and adds a gruesome and far-reaching twist to the stakes of the crime.

    Tam doesn't pull any punches in this book. She doesn't gloss over any of the awful details, and she puts her characters in real danger--no one is safe. That's a hard thing to do as a writer, and something most readers really appreciate. The mystery has a couple of layers, which allows you to solve some of it before Dubric & Co get there, but leaves a lot more to be revealed than you might think. This makes for a satisfying read on many levels. Also, the characters grow and reveal more of their depth in this novel, further enhancing the reading experience.

    Threads of Malice is an excellent book that weaves a page-turning mystery into a complex fantasy world populated with rich characters. Ghosts introduces Tam's unique genre blend and story, and Threads pulls you in deeper, clearly demonstrating that Tam is an author to watch and this is a series to collect and give to friends. How many times can I say "highly recommended"? Go buy Ghosts and pre-order Threads (preview Chapter 1 and Chapter 2). Now, people! :)

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005


    Well, the DDJ may have just ensured that Drew's going to make his Big Debut this weekend or early next week. Just had a meeting where it looks like a big project that's been festering for the past three months is finally going to sprout wings and require lots of work on my part starting next week. With the way Murphy's Law has worked for me this year, things can be interpreted one of two ways. The DDJ is going to get screwed because my darling son appreciates irony and will see how entertaining it would be to guarantee my absence for six weeks minimum right when they'd need my expertise and manpower the most. OR, Murphy will think it best to screw me over so that my last week or two at this job is spent always on my feet, running here and there, answering tons of phone calls, and just generally expanding on the "joy" that is the last month of pregnancy. It's a toss-up, really.

    Quiz Time

    Your Birthdate: June 15

    With a birthday on the 15th of any month, you are apt to have really strong attachments to home, family and domestic scene.
    The 1 and 5 equaling 6, provide the sort of energy that makes you an excellent parent or teacher.
    You are very responsible and capable.

    This is an attractive and an attracting influence.
    You like harmony in your environment and strive to maintain it.
    You tend to learn by observation rather than study and research.

    You may like to cook, but you probably don't follow recipes.
    This number shows artistic leanings and would certainly support any talents that may be otherwise in your makeup.
    You're a very generous and giving person, but perhaps a bit stubborn in ways.

    That's kinda fun. Especially the bit about being a good parent. Now that an internet quiz has said it, it must be true! Drew will be so happy. :)

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Need Inspiration?

    Via Lee Goldberg, I've discovered a brilliant time-waster of a plot generator. Lots of fun to be had, and here's the next novel I'll be working on.

    Wacky Wednesday
    an original screenplay concept
    by Kellie Hazell
    Science Fiction: An absent-minded scientist teams up with a well-built female cyborg to commit the perfect crime. In the process they betray a kind hearted prostitute. By the end of the movie they chase 4 washed up ex-SNL cast members and end up winning the admiration of their universe, living happily ever after.
    Think Gone With the Wind meets Contact.

    Now, if only I can figure out what an absent-minded scientist and a well-built female cyborg would consider the perfect crime and how it might involve a kind hearted prostitute.... My mind will spin on this for hours.

    Hungry & Waiting

    Last week I started a new habit: eating three dinners. I would swing into somewhere on my way home and pick up a quick bite, eat a full dinner with Mark, and then eat a very big snack before bed. Mark was aghast for much of the weekend, watching how much I ate. I can't help it, I'm that hungry. This is because of two things: Andrew's hanging out lower than before so my stomach has more room for food, and Andrew's spending all his time just putting on the weight so he naturally needs more fuel. This means I'm going crazy with food. It's a strange feeling to finish a large meal and realize that you could eat another one right away.

    It's also strange to be in this holding pattern of "any day now". Andrew and my body are doing about the same as they have been for the past couple of weeks, making me feel like I'll be nine months pregnant forever and making the idea of actually delivering and caring for this child seem an impossibility. It's very strange. Mark and I are trying to convince Drew that he wants to show up this weekend. We'll be at the hospital Saturday morning for their baby gear garage sale, and we're hoping that I'll be walking through the first stages of labor while we peruse the sale and snatch some more goodies for the kid. Really, it would be very handy for him to start thinking it might be Time while we're finishing our shopping so we can just load up the trunk and then head on up to Labor & Delivery for the Big Event. Andrew's been fairly cooperative throughout this pregnancy, so here's hoping he decides to oblige us with this convenient time schedule.

    I really do hope he comes in the next couple weeks. I'm starting to get a bit stir crazy, trying to make sure I've got my work stuff all settled every day before I leave, trying to stay normal with my writing schedule, trying to keep myself calm and relaxed, and trying to pretend like it doesn't make me twitch every now and then that life is poised for a big huge change at any second and I have to be ready for whenever and wherever and however it decides to happen. I'm doing OK with the work stuff. My back up will be able to take over without a hitch no matter when I start labor. The writing stuff works best at work, surprisingly. But my down time at home is becoming more and more focused on preparing, pretending that the nursery doesn't feel alien, and doing quiet things with the hubby, cherishing these last few moments as the couple we've been for the past four and a half years and anticipating the family we'll be in a few short weeks.

    Talk about a head trip. But through it all, I can't get over the excitement of Andrew. Among all the worries about parenting and health and adjusting, I'm really looking forward to getting to know this little guy, figuring out what his smiles will look like, what his favorite books and toys and music and foods will be, seeing what sort of boy and teen and man he will become, learning how his life will affect mine. So hurry it up, Drew. We're eager to meet you.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Levels of Tiredness

    I've found that "tired" just isn't descriptive enough. There are levels of tiredness, types of it. The tired you feel after a night fighting insomnia is much different from the tired you feel after having sleep interrupted periodically for potty breaks. The tired you feel after waking up at 4:30 AM due to overactive stomach acid is much different from the tired you feel after just not getting enough sleep. I'm betting that the tired you feel due to caring for a newborn is going to be different from all the types of tiredness I've just described.

    The insomnia and stomach acid tired types are the worst. You're tired and you really, really want to sleep, and it's dark out, and the bed is comfortable, and you still have a good couple of hours until you have to get ready for work. But you physically can't sleep. Not because you're doing anything, not because you chose to stay awake, but because your body just isn't getting it. Which is really frustrating because you know your body is going to be complaining about the lack of sleep for the rest of the day as if it was somehow not its fault. I absolutely can't stand that type of tired. It makes me very cranky. It's especially bad if you're in your first trimester of pregnancy and your tummy refuses to handle any beverage beyond water until noon and you know your body can't handle caffeine after noon without staying awake past midnight that night. And it's horrendous if the insomnia or stomach acid sticks around for a period longer than a week without relief. And if it continues for twelve weeks, then things get bad.

    Squished bladder and painful hip tired isn't fun, but it's infinitely better than the above. This is because the sleep you do get is usually damn fine sleep. Deep, lasting for at least an hour at a stretch, if not two. And once you visit the bathroom or shift positions, you can usually go right back to sleep without too much trouble. That, and you probably won't have tummy issues to contend with in the morning and can find yourself a nice caffeine jolt somewhere (she said as she finishes her iced mocha).

    I'm curious--in that scientific way that years of prepping for a career in research will never let me avoid--how the newborn tired will feel. I'm betting that it'll be much more like the squished bladder tired than insomnia. I'm hoping. Plus there's the added benefit that I won't have to deal with the DDJ while the newborn tired is at its worst. This has got to help matters. And, since misery loves company, it's gotta be better than even squished bladder tired because I won't be suffering through it alone.

    Tired is never pleasant--unless maybe it's "I just accomplished a lot of stuff today and I'm tired but it feels damn good to have all that done" tired. But there are some types of tired that are infinitely more preferable than others. I'm hoping newborn tired will rank in the better levels of tired. If nothing else, the joy of caring for a new life (that's no longer putting my stomach on the fritz or squishing my bladder) should keep us away from the hell of insomnia tired.

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Ticking Bomb

    I've dropped. I'm dropping slowly. I'm really getting bigger. I look ready.

    I've heard all sorts of things from my coworkers regarding this belly o'mine. Whatever. It all feels the same to me: crowded. They've put up a "betting" pool for when Drew's going to show up. No money involved, just bragging rights. Four people put me down as delivering after my due date, and I wished them very bad karma for it. One of my darling coworkers is convinced Andrew ain't showing up until Oct 10. He's based this on his experience with pregnant women. And I ask him if he had to work with said pregnant women, cuz it's rude to guess a woman's going to be a week late! :) Drew's even in on the action himself. Mark said our darling son informed him that birth is expected at 8:26 PM on Sept 26. We'll see. Mark's betting on Sept 25, and I'm thinking Sept 28. Time will tell. I've just had such fun with Braxton-Hicks, that I'm hoping I'll recognize the onset of labor when it's time. Or maybe I won't, and I'll be one of those lucky women whose water breaks, they go to the hospital ready for a good twelve hours of fun, and they find out they're already 8 centimeters dilated and it's about time to start some serious pushing. Ah, such a sweet dream.

    My main problem now is sleeping and moving around. If a full bladder isn't waking me up, it's my hips screaming in agony from the pressure of my body pushing them into the mattress. Granted, the hip pain is a good sign that my joints there are gearing up for some serious give so Drew can pop through, but it friggin hurts! And everytime I stand up, my uterus becomes a nice, hard, solid ball of contractions and doesn't ease up until I sit back down again. So much for all the filing that I have to do.

    But at least we're prepared for the Big Event. Well, as much as you can be. Even got the car seat OK'd by the fire department yesterday. Drew will be as protected in a moving vehicle as we can make him. Unless he's shorter than 18 inches at birth. Then we'll have to get a loaner car seat until he grows into the one we have. Apparently the harness isn't designed for short babies.