The Green-Eyed Monster is Back

I like Social Media. Really I do. I use it to stay in touch with old friends, make new ones, and to keep on top of news, politics, and the book world. Granted, the news this year has been a dumpster fire, but even then, the positive has mostly outweighed the negative for me (I’m fortunate to have not had any major troll incursions).

But lately I’ve been struggling.

Every time someone I follow posts happy writing news (signing with an agent, book deal, movie deal, hitting the bestseller list, awards, etc.) it’s like a little piece of the hope inside me dies.

Rationally, I know that other people getting deals or awards doesn’t affect my chances of getting them. And I am happy for them.

I even understand that while it feels like everyone in the world has exciting writing news to share, that’s because good news *is* what you share – most people don’t post every time they get a rejection or struggle to get words out.

But…

Some days it’s just really hard to celebrate other people’s successes when my own career feels like its going backwards.

Still, I know there’s no point in wallowing. That the best thing I can do for my career is to keep writing, keep trying, keep staying in touch with other writers and the writing world, and just drown my sorrows in chocolate while I’m doing it.

(Oh, wait, I can’t do that. My doctor’s asked me to keep off sugar to see if it helps my fibromyalgia. Sigh. I guess if you need me, I’ll be drowning my sorrows in kale. *sobs*)

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Comfort Books

During last week’s power outage, there wasn’t a lot to do except read – I couldn’t even listen to my usual audiobooks, because I was trying to preserve my phone battery.

I had a few new books on my nightstand (yeah, I can’t seem to stop buying physical books, even though I mostly listen to audiobooks these days), but with all the stress of the storm and not knowing when power would come back on, what I really wanted was a comfort read.

There’s something about diving into a familiar world, where you know how the story ends, that’s like wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket while chowing down on still-warm-from-the-oven brownies. It’s like the reading equivalent of a puppy snuggle, and it’s just what I needed.

My comfort books are often Adult Mysteries (I have near-complete collections of the works of Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George, and Rex Stout on my shelves), the Harry Potter Series, and – what I went for this time around – The Dresden Files books, which are an Adult Urban Fantasy (/Mystery, since the MC is a wizard detective).

(And, yeah, I know the Dresden books have flaws – like the way they portray women and the pretty much non-existence of PoC and LGBTQIA characters – but there’s something about the world and story-telling that keeps bringing me back to re-read them again and again.)

What about you? Do you have a comfort book or series that you keep coming back to? Let me know in the comments.

Now, because it’s the start of a new month (how is it October already?), here are my reading stats for September:

  • YA Fantasy (4)
  • YA Contemporary (2)
  • YA Sci-Fi (3)
  • MG Fantasy (6)
  • MG Contemporary (1)
  • A Mystery (2)
  • A Fantasy (1)
  • Re-read: A Urban Fantasy (1)

September Total: 19 (+ 1 Re-read)

Year-to-Date: 145 (+ 1 Re-read)

Falling in Love All Over Again

As I mentioned last week, I’ve decided to dive into revisions on some old projects, in the hopes of breathing new life into them, and eventually finding them a home with Canadian publishers.

This has resulted in me completely tearing apart my old MG Fantasy (the one that got me my agent in the first place).

I was devastated when it was rejected by American publishers, but now, three years later, I can see the flaws that made them hesitate. And, even better, I can see how to fix them.

The more I dig into these revisions, the more I remember why I wrote it in the first place. I’m falling in love with the characters and the story all over again. Even better, I’m falling in love with writing again.

For the first time in a while, I’m excited to sit down at my computer and write. To dive back into this world. I’ve even been writing outside my normal work hours (which is a lot for me, considering the state of my hands).

In fact, I’m going to end this post here, so I can get back to work on my exciting ms. See you next week!

Post-Tornado Check-In

Just thought I’d write a quick check-in post after the three (yes, 3!!!) tornados that hit my home town of Ottawa on Friday.

My family was pretty lucky. The tornados missed us (although one came closer than I’m comfortable with). Our neighbourhood took much less damage this time than it did from last year’s “micro burst” – except that our power outage was much longer this time around, thanks to the second tornado wiping out one of the city’s two substations (the photos look like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie scene).

Fortunately, we were mostly prepared this time (thanks in part to last year’s storm teaching us what was needed). I had candles and our camping lantern in a handy place, glow sticks for the kids’ rooms overnight, plenty of fuel for the campstove and barbecue, and a freezer full of ice packs. Even after 53 hours without power, our meat stayed solidly frozen – except for the bacon and hot dogs (which we cooked and ate).

Our fridge didn’t fare as well. It basically became a condiment graveyard. But considering how many people lost their homes, I’m not complaining.

In a way the storm picked the best time of year to hit us: not hot enough to defrost all the freezers instantly, or require fans or air conditioning, and not cold enough to worry about how to keep everyone warm. We *did* have to keep our windows shut, since we didn’t even have cooking heat to warm up the house, but all in all it could have been much worse.

We’re still supposed to be conserving electricity, since the whole city is now running out of one substation in a “MacGyvered” fashion (the hydro company’s word, not mine), so more blackouts may occur.

We were very lucky not to have suffered worse damage. Our community very much came together, neighbours checked on each other to make sure they had food, and offered what they had to share. Our hydro employees worked around the clock to get power back as quickly as possible (although thanks to the extent of the damage, there are still almost a thousand homes without power as of this morning).

It seems like the weather keeps getting worse every year (thanks, Climate Change) and who knows what the winter will bring. If you don’t already have a disaster kit prepared, I suggest you make one, just in case. Research what’s needed for your area (depending on what kind of disaster is likely to hit where you live) and prepare accordingly.

Anyway, that’s it for me today. I’ll be back with a regular post on Thursday.

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.

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