Writing Update

As you may have already gathered from last week’s post, this year has been more than a little rough. Unfortunately that’s carried over into my writing life as well.

In August, my agent and I officially parted ways. And while I think it will ultimately prove to be a good thing, I’m also left feeling like my career has just taken a giant leap backwards.

My YA Contemporary that’s been on sub for the last nine months with encouraging rejections is dead for now. No new American agent will take it on, considering its history, even with a major revision.

But it doesn’t rule it out for Canadian publishers.

Which has left me with a dilemma: should I continue seeking representation in an American market (which has bigger audiences and therefore bigger advances, meaning its more likely for me to be able to make a career out of writing) or should I stick closer to home, where there are publishers that are open to unagented submissions?

The answer is: I’m going to try both.

I’m going to revise the heck out of the manuscripts that American publishers have turned down, and see if I can find them a home here in Canada. (I’ve already sent out a PB ms that my old agent deemed ‘unmarketable’ and refused to send on sub, but which my CPs all agree would make a fun book.)

And at the same time, I’m going to try and query American agents with my new MG Fantasy that never made it to editors (once I get revision notes back from my new Critique Partner.)

And somewhere in there I’m also going to finish writing and revising my new YA Fantasy WiP.

This industry involves a lot of waiting, so I may as well try and make the most of my time. By having different projects in different markets, maybe I can finally beat the odds.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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Health Update

Well, I promised to keep you all updated on what was going on with me health-wise, so here it is (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out this post).

I thought I’d have to wait until September to get any results, but over the summer my condition started to get worse (I hadn’t thought that was possible, but apparently it was). The pain I’d been having in my hands and wrists moved into my feet and knees, so my doctor finally agreed to refer me to a rheumatologist ASAP, instead of waiting for the Carpal Tunnel test.

Long story short (too late!), the rheumatologist is pretty sure I have fibromyalgia (he’s not willing to make a definite diagnosis as yet, since there’s no easy test to diagnose it, it’s more a case of ruling out other things…most of which we’ve ruled out).

For those of you (like me until recently) who don’t know what fibromyalgia is, it’s a chronic pain condition where one’s brain misinterprets pain stimuli and sends a message to the body that things hurt way more than they really do. (More info can be found here, if you really want to know)

Basically, my brain is a bigger drama queen than Draco Malfoy.

Image result for draco malfoy hurt gif

In a way though, it’s good news.

You see, there’s a few conditions/symptoms associated with fibromyalgia, including: IBS, endometriosis, poor sleep, headaches, memory loss, fatigue, and what they call “morning stiffness” (which is basically waking up every morning feeling like you’re 180 years old).

Why is that good news? Because I already have all of these. So now, instead of feeling like I’m utterly falling apart because I have *everything* wrong with me, I know it’s all just one thing that’s trying to break me in a bunch of different ways. (Seriously, though, that’s better news than it sounds.)

On top of that, fibromyalgia isn’t degenerative. It doesn’t break down your joints the same as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus or MS (which were the other contenders in the “What’s Wrong With Kaye” lottery.)

Of course, it’s not all good news.

There’s no cure for fibromyalgia (although my doctor says sometimes improving your sleep can help with symptoms, so now I take a nightly dose of melatonin on his orders – turns out it might not be a coincidence my symptoms got drastically worse when we adopted a puppy and I basically stopped sleeping).

The other bad part? Convincing people (including myself) that just because the pain is caused by my brain being a drama queen, it doesn’t mean it’s able to be willed away by putting mind over matter. The pain is *real,* even if it’s disproportionate to whatever injury triggered it. (Seriously, guys, I wish I could just close my eyes and convince my hands they have no reason to ache, so they should just quit it.)

What does this mean for my career?

It’s still early days, so it’s hard to say. My hands were doing a lot better in August, while I was away, but the pain’s been worse since I started typing all day again. Mind you, my sleep’s been pretty disrupted this past week, too, so here’s hoping I stop flaring sooner rather than later.

If not, then I’m going to look into voice recognition software to help with drafting. Right now the idea seems kind of scary (seriously, speaking my horrible first draft words out loud? Yikes!) but I had hesitations about audiobooks at first too, and now look at me!

As for social media, I’m keeping my Facebook page closed, and sticking with Instagram, since writing has to be the first priority for my hands, over crafts (but I promise to post any crafting I do over there, so you won’t miss out).

So, now you know what’s wrong with me. I was a bit hesitant about sharing, but I figure if being public with what I’m going through helps even one other person out there suffering from fibromyalgia, then it’s worth it.

August Reading Stats

I didn’t read (okay, listen to) nearly as many books in August, as I have in other months this year. That’s mostly because I went on an epic vacation with my family out to Canada’s East Coast to relax and take in the sights (including whales!!!)

Even though I wasn’t working on writing over the summer, I feel like a ton happened, and I’ll try and catch you all up on it over the next few weeks. (That’s right, now that I’m feeling better and school’s back in, I’m going to try and get back to posting weekly again.)

As a sneak preview, I can tell you my hands are doing better these days (I guess we’ll find out soon whether it was because of the rest or because of some new meds). I’ve even been able to do a bit of crafting (why yes, I have started making Halloween costumes, how did you guess?)

As much as I enjoyed my summer (mostly) off writing, I’m thrilled to jump in on a new(ish) YA Fantasy WIP, as well as editing my MG Fantasy. This story has been talking to me all summer, so now it’s finally time to get it into words.

Now to update my reading stats for August:

  • YA Sci-Fi (1)
  • Adult Mystery (8)

August Total: 9

Year to Date: 126

 

July Reading Stats

Hey Everyone,

It’s been a whirlwind of a summer here (seriously, how is it August already?) And the time away from writing has made my hands feel a little bit better, and I’m on a path to getting some answers health-wise (I’ll try and do a post about that in the Fall).

I’ve had a bit of time for audiobooks on my adventures, but this month I’ve been mainly indulging in my love of Adult mysteries (as you’ll see below), only reading the YA holds that arrived during the month.

Hope you’re all having a good summer. More posts in a month.

July  Reading Stats:

  • YA Sci-Fi (1)
  • YA Fantasy (1)
  • MG* Mystery (1) *although it’s listed as MG and has a twelve-year-old protagonist, the book read much older to me (YA or Adult), both in terms of voice and content
  • Adult Mystery (16)

July Total: 19

Year to Date: 117

June Reading Stats

As promised, here are my reading stats for this month. It was a busy month, with lots of school volunteering and finishing up the revision of my MG Fantasy to send to Bri, but I still managed a good number of audiobooks.

For anyone wondering about my health, I’ve managed to score an earlier doctor’s appointment, so maybe (just maybe) I’ll get some answers before September. My hands are still aching, but I’m enjoying my vacation from work.

More in a month.

June Reading Stats:

  • YA Contemporary (12)
  • YA Mystery/Thriller (2)
  • YA Fantasy (5)
  • YA Contemporary with Paranormal elements (not sure how to categorize this one) (1)

June Total: 20

Year to Date: 98 (Almost 100 books and only halfway through the year. Not bad, if I do say so myself)

Plot Twist in the Book of Life

As you all probably know by now, I’ve been having some trouble with pain and weakness in my hands, which I assumed to be a worsening of my Carpal Tunnel.

The aching has reduced how much time I can spend at the computer each day (more than a little inconvenient for a writer), and the weakness has caused my usual clumsiness to level up (spill half a pot of pasta in the sink: check;  dump a scalding cup of tea down my chest: double check; slice my finger open when I lost control of a knife: also check).

But Carpal Tunnel is manageable with rest, and I expected the doctor to tell me to take a few weeks off from typing, and I’d be good as new.

Here’s where the plot twist comes in: It’s not Carpal Tunnel.

We’re not sure what it is just yet, (although it looks like we’ve ruled out Rheumatoid Arthritis – yay!), and it seems we won’t find out for a while as I’m waiting on a test that’s currently scheduled for early August, with a follow-up to discuss the results in September (boo!).

So…unless this condition decides to go away as mysteriously as it developed, I’m basically looking at not having full use of my hands for at least the next three months.

I’ve already had to make a bunch of changes in my personal life: how I hold pots and cups and plates (without using my thumbs), teaching my kids to do more things for themselves, abandoning pretty much all of my hobbies, and spending less time on the computer.

But it looks like it might be time to make a few changes professionally now, too.

For the next few months, I’m going to cut back on the frequency of my posts here. I’ll still post my reading updates at the end of each month, but consider any other posts over the summer as bonuses.

I’m also going to stop posting on my author Facebook page – this was a hard decision to make, but since I’m not doing any crafts right now (pretty much the only thing I post over there) and the algorithms mean only a small fraction of my followers even see my posts, it seems to be a wasted platform for me right now.

However, since photography is (pretty much the only) one of my hobbies I can do with limited hand strain, I’ve now joined Instagram. You can follow me at k_callard. So far it’s mostly pictures of my fluffy Muppet dog, since I’m still learning the ropes over there, but hopefully I’ll find my groove soon.

You can also still follow me on Twitter.

And maybe one day you’ll see me over on change.org trying to get signatures in favour of changing the phrase “all thumbs” to describe someone clumsy, to “no thumbs” instead.

Seriously, though, I’m kind of looking forward to a summer off work, adventuring with my family and dreaming up new plots to write once I get my hands back.

Hope you all have a great summer!

New “Job”

I’m going to keep this week’s post short and sweet, but I wanted to announce that as of this week I’m officially one of two new Ottawa Area Coordinators for the Canada East chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (aka SCBWI).

It is a volunteer position that will involve organizing meet-ups several times a year and coordinating critique groups. My Co-Coordinator and I are still settling in, but I’m already looking forward to planning our first meet-up (hopefully in September).

I’m fortunate to have so many talented authors and illustrators living in my city, and I’m excited to be a part of bringing us all together.