Back? Maybe not, maybe just more vocal…

So.

I went my quietest that I’ve ever been in the last few years on social media.  I’ve cut back massively on Facebook, I’m not on Twitter at all really, I’m rarely posting photos to Instagram.  I’ve become slightly more active on Goodreads, but only because I pledged to read 500 books this year.  I’m well on track, I just need to record that, but I’ve spent the last few days…weeks…months really, hiding in my room.  Sleeping.  Watching TV.  No games on my computer, but I did spend a lot of time on my Kindle fire.  I did also do a lot of work – the piece work anyway.  I’m catching up slowly, but I thought I’d pop up and say hiya and explain what’s been going on.

Not a lot to be honest.

My mental health has been on quite a solid downward swing for a while now. I’ve talked about it often on the blog, but I’ve spent the last few…since before December really, hiding in our room.  We went home this Christmas, but we came back and I began basically living up there.  We’ve had a couple of really serious issues with my health these last few months too, starting with a nasty caustic soda burn on my hand.  I did it the middle of December, and it meant, for three days, I basically watched my skin deteriorate on the back of my hand.  It really hurt to be honest – I ended up on quite strong meds, antibiotics and all sorts.  I’d already been put on antibiotics for an ear infection, and so, there I was, rattling from all of the physical issues I had.  Add to that, I finally got to stop my seroquel.  I’ll talk about that a bit more in depth elsewhere, later, but it meant that i was out of sorts, off anything that was really helping me cope with all of the anxiety.  And though I felt the meds weren’t working, I guess there was a portion of them working, because dropping them was like dropping off a cliff.

I’ve been plunging for weeks now.  It’s been an awful freefall, punctuated by medical issues, puking blood (again), becoming so dehydrated that my veins collapsed as people tried to get me IV’d, a left hand with some quite impressive scar tissue on it – I had full thickness burns from the caustic soda, in the end (and did you know, the burns can sometimes take up to a week or more to develop?  I didn’t.), and I’ve finally been told I have something wrong with my esophagus – four years of testing, and they’ve found grade one damage.  I did that camera test unsedated and I was so unhappy – it scared the life out of me to do it, and to be honest, I kinda wish I’d come back another time and done it with sedation.  I’ve also had several hospital stays mixed in with all of this – I mean, don’t get me wrong, I seem to spend a lot of time in hospital yearly – up to two weeks I’d guess if we include the overnights, but if that grade 1 scar tissue inside my throat is healing instead of being there permanently, that could be where the blood came from when being ill.  So it’s been a lot to take in, overall.

I’m not promising I’m back – I can’t promise that, but I’m going to try and be a bit more vocal.  I have to try and be more vocal.

The end… #Nanowrimo 2015 after action report

One of the things I’ve been working hard at lately is making myself more present and accountable – instead of living in the past and trying to get past things I can’t change, I am instead working on accepting and understanding why I feel the way I do, while living with my limitations, and working around the issues my mental health presents.

One of the major things I had to accept this month is that there’s no way I’m going to be able to work out of the house full-time, any time in the near future.  So I threw (and I really mean THREW) myself into Nanowrimo, and wrote my butt off.  I wrote reports for Blueshifted Apps, I edited for two friends, I wrote fiction and non-fiction, and started a poetry book.  Insomnia at the beginning of the month meant that I wasn’t really sleeping, so I wrote.  I ran meets (though, I’ve never been out on my own, something else I’m working on) and kept the chatrooms up and running.  I made sure that everything I was doing fed back into what was important to me.

And so, I thought I’d talk about Nanowrimo today, which ended yesterday.  The other stuff, I’ll touch on later, but Nanowrimo was awesome for me this year on a personal level.  I wrote over 350k on all of my projects combined, and though there’s a road ahead to release them, the hard bit is done – hard for me anyway.  I’ve completed four projects, and made a strong start on a further 13 – some of them are serials, so are pretty much designed to keep going and going – others…I don’t know.  And I will talk about them in the coming days, weeks and months, but mostly, I’m just proud I made it again this year.  I didn’t think I’d see my birthday, let alone Nanowrimo at one point this year – my mental health has been on a quite sharp downturn for the last 16 months or so, and at the bottom of that pit, I was barely sleeping, finding it hard to eat and had no interest in anything.  The bottom of that pit was August of this year, so it’s been tough to motivate myself this month, enough to get anything done properly at least.

But, I did.
The next few months will basically hold a lot more of the same – a few of us are continuing with daily prompts and wordcount threads outside of Nanowrimo, where people can drop in and out and report as they go, and that’ll be cool.  And if not, well, I’ll see you, hopefully, for #Nanowrimo2016.

Review: Meritorium by Joel Ohman

Welcome to the Meritorium Tour

Author Joel Ohman

Meritorium

Review – Meritorium

It seems to be the year  of the dystopian novel, and Meritorium is one of the finest.  The characters follow on from the events in Meritropolis. The same characters are around to develop more, and to be honest, I’m very satisfied with it.  Charlie seems to try to lead people – and it’s not easy for him.  I think of all the elements though, that satisfied me the most.  I mean, it worked, but it wasn’t quite in the personality – but that imperfect feeling that he was uncomfortable, that subtle idea that it wasn’t what he wanted.  Well conveyed and enjoyable, though I did feel sorry for him several times while reading the book.  Sandy was also a nuanced character, who, along with Charlie races against killer plants and animal hybrids, close (Gladatorial) combat and more.

I really enjoyed this as a follow on from Meritropolis, and liked that there were actual consequences for the System being brought down.  It felt…right, without pushing too hard.  And there’s the overall question in the blurb – after seeing the world after ‘the Event’ and the ruler standing between Charlie and his answers, the question of what one person will do to get the answers they seek is a strong theme, ever present in the skillful followup to a masterful first book.

TL:DR summary – if you like the Hunger Games, Divergent and other books of that caliber, you’ll enjoy this book.  This is the second in the series though, so please do read Meritropolis first.

Four and a half stars.

About the Book

Under the System everyone is assigned a numerical Score that decides their worth to society and whether they live or die.

Charley has escaped from Meritropolis…

but in his quest to take down the System that has taken his brother from him, he must go through Meritorium, a city where gladiatorial games of life or death combat are waged between High Scores and Low Scores, man and beast.

Charley and Sandy must face man-eating plants, religious zealots, slave traders, and the ever present mutant animal combinations that roam a dystopian Coliseum presided over by Emperor Titus, the one man standing between Charley and the answers he seeks. Man is not an animal, but if they are to make it through Meritorium, will they even be able to tell the difference?

The lines between man and beast, friend and foe, will blur in Meritorium, the riveting sequel to the best selling Meritropolis.

About the Author

Joel Ohman is the author of Meritropolis–“The Hunger Games meets The Village with a young Jack Reacher as a protagonist”. He lives in Tampa, FL with his wife Angela and their three kids. His writing companion is Caesar, a slightly overweight Bull Mastiff who loves to eat the tops off of strawberries.

Learn more about Joel here:
JoelOhman.com

Get notified of new books here:
Meritropolis.com

Follow Joel on Twitter here:
Twitter.com/JoelOhman

Connect with Joel on Facebook here:
Facebook.com/joeljonathan

About the Prizes

Don’t forget to check out the rafflecopter for this tour here! The tour prize is a $75.00 gift card to Amazon! Think of all the books you can buy with that!

Rafflecoter embed code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nanowrimo 2015 and what I’m writing

Nanowrimo 2015 posterI’ve been trying to write this post since October 1st, so I’m doing my level best to get this up and out before the end of the month, so here it is.

I’m currently planning five books, though I’m not sure whether I’m still doing those five when I finish isn’t exactly clear.  What I do need to do in the next 48 hours is generate the maps out and post them here for Dungeon Bashers.

Which leads me rather neatly into ‘Dungeon Bashers’ – it’s going to be a set of novellas about gamers.  Current plan is each dungeon half takes one book to finish, then there’s a book of downtime and ‘relationship stuff’ then they go bashing the next dungeon.  I’m rendering it out either with Warhammer Quest or Dungeon Saga tiles, depending on my mood.  I’m building the first couple, but the next sets will be generated from decks.

Next up is ‘Specials’ – I’m looking at putting super heroes in different places.  First one is going to have been made ‘super’ by an explosion of some sort, and scattered throughout time.  As I get through the books, I’m going to talk about the others, but as she went the furthest back and is the later narrator, I thought I’d start with her.

And then.  “Seeking Her Happily Ever After” – after Jenna realizes her whole life has been based around the lie of someone loving her when it was possible he didn’t, she sets out to change her life, her world and her outlook.  It doesn’t always go right, but she’s sure she’ll find her happily ever after.  The second book in this series will be called ‘That was then, this is now’ .  These are going out under Kai Viola, because what’s that name if not a romance writer?

And then, Epoch Z and the redo on ‘At the end of the world, there are dragons’.  Epoch Z is zombie stories, following the alphabet, while ‘Dragons’ is about people that are psychic as the world ends.  Both are going to be a lot of fun.

I’m aiming for something this year, but I can’t really say I’m entirely feeling it yet.  But, tomorrow is our Kick-off party, so maybe I’ll feel better then.

Chatrooms and fun

This year, we’re running our chatrooms again.  We had hoped to get it all moved over onto Gloucestershire Writers, but never mind!

We have several chatrooms right now, depending on your project, but the main Nanowrimo Gloucestershire rooms are linked here while the IAGNanowrimo one is here

We have some commands here.

I’ll be running the chatrooms daily, from November 1st, though, this year will be the first year I WILL NOT be in the chatrooms during meets.  It’s just too much to manage.

We are currently working on setting up timers for sprints – once I work it all out I’ll announce them here too!

Please note – there is a connection limit on the server that we got very close to last year.  Please do let me know if you see it, though I would also like to highlight that messaging me when the server resets doesn’t change the server resetting, and it’s really not personal.

Mental and physical health challenges #givemehope #bipolarbears

 

I honestly try not to whine too much about where my life is, versus where it should be because ‘should be’ is an ideal world.  But regular readers of my blog will know that for the last year and a bit, I’ve been fighting what feels like a losing battle against my mental health support.
How it all worked out is around 13 months ago, I started vomiting back my Quetiapine (Seroquel), and when it was investigated and I had anti-sickness meds provided, but that my anti-psychotics had basically stopped working.  I started having real problems sleeping, my anxiety started to become something that defined my day again, and I couldn’t really deal with anything outside of the house.  My GP swung into action instantly, and referred me back to the team at our local outpatients where I’d spent six months the year we moved to our new home.

Instantly, I discovered that things were vastly different – the crisis team didn’t deal with me much at all, the unit I was referred to assigned a psych and a mental health nurse that to be blunt, were not kind or understanding in the slightest, and though the first psych had a clear plan for me, that month on lithium led to a lot of issues for me.  In fact, I went from September of that year, to most of the way through January before I’d been tested out, six ER admittances all for issues with managing food.  At first, we thought it was the lithium doing it, but of course, looking back on when my issues started, I realized that I was being sick when my meds stopped working.
After being tried and removed from Lithium, this time last year, we went on a week’s holiday to Wales, while my children headed off to Tunisia with my mother.  We came back expecting that things would get easier with my psychiatrist.  It didn’t.

I guess it really doesn’t help to point fingers from my public blog, but I’ve spent the last few days and weeks really considering how to make my psych team understand this isn’t right.
I’ve always been outspoken when I see things that don’t work for others, and I wanted to say something today about something that was actually probably quite stupid, looking back on things, but I’d decided, about two weeks ago, that I wanted to try to get to sleep, and to see if I could do it without having a doctor intercede on my behalf, in part so I could go back and say ‘I’ve had to take xyz, is there any chance you can help me with this, as I’m not sleeping without help’.  Instead, a week into trying this, and the weekend before I was due to go to my psych team appointment, my heart started racing.  I couldn’t slow it down.  Fifteen minutes of that and I realised I was in trouble, and woke my partner.  At first I was quite worried I’d accidentally doubled up on my meds because I’d been given new (repeats) ones that day.  But it turned out that the combination I’d been taking, on it’s own, caused it.
What was it that was extra, you might ask?

Nytol.
Nytol is diphenhydramine hydrochloride, they claim that it’s a very common antihistamine.  I’ve taken it before as an antihistamine along with cycalzine (another antihistamine, though it’s prescribed as an anti-sickness agent).  Add that to Quetiapine and you’re suddenly taking three types of medicines that cause long QT syndrome, a type of heart defect that causes the electrical function of your heart to somehow change.  There are three running theories on what it actually does – either it changes potassium or sodium channels in your heart, or it creates poor feedback causing your heart to race, or…well, I’m not sure I understand, but it was what the first ER doc started trying to explain before going off-shift.
What I did know was that it was terrifying.

It gets worse from here really.  I spent that weekend back in bed – I’ve only very recently bounced back from having cellulitis on one side of my face and ears, so I just basically regressed into the very sulky, constantly sleeping, incredibly depressed girl that I’ve managed to hold at bay unless things are bad with my sleep. Y’know when the last time my sleep was this bad?  When I freaking failed the A-Z challenge.  It’s gotten worse from there – the accident in July was quite bad, but I thought I was done for a while.  Nope.  Still limping, still struggling, still finding it difficult to sleep.  I’ll have to talk about sleep deprivation another time, this post is gonna be long enough.

It takes quite a bit to make me rant on this blog, but life is now at the point where my life is BASICALLY my bed, my kids, my partner, my cats, my living-room, my kitchen, my bed.  I only leave the house if someone is with me.  I only write if forced. I’m not working.  I’m not sleeping.  I’m not (really) eating, and I suspect the days I barely drink anything are why I get headaches.  I’m going to talk more about this on Bi-Polarbears, along with some really great other stuff that’s important to me.

I realized when I tried to pick up everything I’d dropped that the reality of what’s gone on in the last 24 months is causing real, and scary issues with my life.  When I went to speak to my GP the day I tried Nytol as a solution for the first time, we’d been talking about my pain management.  When I spoke to him after my Psych team screwed me over this time through, he told me that there’s a flag in my blood sugar, and now, I have to do more blood tests.  I’m sure those of you around last year remember that we’ve been here before, though last year it was my liver.  Especially galling is the fact that I’ve been on Seroquel for 14 months more than I probably should have been and, Seroquel causes, survey says….Blood sugar issues, and some studies suggest, early miscarriage. Welcome to my world.

I’m working with an amazing author right now – M.R. has written a book that I think we can create and edit into a better version so he and I are working together, though the poor guy just landed with me sick.  I’m not editing books unless I see someone in genuine need of help, and only as the first line now.  Someone has to come in behind me to proof, because I’m not and will never be a proofreader.  I can see mistakes when I read, I just don’t catch them while in documents, which is why I even have a spell check here.

I had hoped today to talk about my Nanowrimo projects, but that’s coming another day, soon.  I’m doing Nano, I’m just dealing with lots of stuff that isn’t easy to consider, let alone talk on.  But I’ve got some great friends, and made some new ones – HI NEW FRIENDS! – so it’s all good.  We’ll get there, and there’s some REALLY exciting things coming over November, alongside the Nanowrimo and beyond.  If this has taught me anything it’s that I need to communicate more and I need to be more present where I’m happy.  It’s going to be a hard year because things are changing, but I can’t see anything but positive coming from some of it (and if you know my good news, professionally, please don’t say anything here – I’m not allowed to announce it yet!).  I’m really trying to be positive, and I know this reads really quite upbeat but I’m so tired and constantly find even the simplest things difficult.

It’s the most wonderful time of the…hang on a minute…#Nanowrimo #Anxiety

Yeah, OK, sorry if that reminds you of X-mas, but for me, this is the most wonderful time of the year – or at least, it’s supposed to be.
For those of you that are new to the blog, I’m pagan (a white woman as it happens), and so Samhain starts an amazing month and a bit where I’m running Nanowrimo locally – battering around like a loon, talking to new writers and cheering, very loudly for everyone taking part whether or not they ‘win’.
This year though, there’s a bit of reluctance in me.  A bit of sadness too, actually.
This last year has not been a good year for my health, though for the first time since PrincessPink was very small, my mental health has sucked more than my physical – and trust me when I say that multiple miscarriages at the beginning of the year make that even more harrowing.
I can’t really talk about what’s going on, mostly because it turns me into a bundle of anger and tears, but this year is one of the first years for Nanowrimo where I’m so seriously overweight that most of my clothes don’t fit, that I spend most of my time in PJs, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to run our meets.
I WILL run the meets, but something’s going to give somewhere.

I’ve got a lovely (I hope) post about the five books…no, six…maybe eight, I’m writing this year, but there’s a definitive focus on only four of them.  I’ll get over 50k as usual, but that’s never a problem for me.  My problem is leaving the house now.

So, my next couple of posts will be about Nanowrimo, and there will be a wordcount tracker in my sidebar, and it’ll update daily (I hope – the new script I wrote should do that, maybe, perhaps, possibly), but for now I just wanted to pop my head up and say that it’s coming.  Maybe today, but definitely before the weekend.
I’m also hoping to launch Gloswriters this weekend, along with some other stuff.

I’ll also be giving up some sites ‘free to a good home(host)’.  You can take them and pay me to host them or move them, the choice is yours.  More on that later though.

The 34 Seconds tour: Deltaville Steamed Blue Crabs

Welcome to the tour for Stella Samuel’s book, 34 Seconds.  To kick off the tour, I asked Stella to share with me a recipe with me that meant something to her for her or her book.

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Stella told me she was sharing recipes with me – Steamed Crabs and Hush Puppies.  I live in the UK, so I was understandably confused by Hush Puppies – they are a brand of shoes here…But we cleared that up and I’m delighted to share.

I’ll let Stella explain:

When I was growing up in Deltaville, my grandfather would spend the morning on his boat emptying his crab pots from the Rappahannock River. He’d bring them home, and my grandmother would steam them while my parents and aunts and uncles set up picnic tables. They would spread newspaper across the tables, set a roll of paper towels at each end, and toss a couple of knives in the center just in case we couldn’t get the crabs open. Once the crabs were done, someone would dump the crabs onto the tables, someone would melt real butter and add a little bowl full of melted butter to each place setting, and we’d dig in. We did this for years, and it was a huge family get together. As we all grew up, and went off to colleges or moved on to places to be adults, our families often tried to recreate these fun crab picking days, but they were never just as wonderful as they were when I was a child.

In 34 Seconds Nikki’s husband calls Hush Puppies, an old seafood favorite, little fried balls of dough. He wasn’t sure what they were, but he knew he loved their sweet, bready fried taste.

Stella has shared a recipe for Blue Crabs AND Hush Puppies, included below!

Deltaville Steamed Blue Crabs
Print Recipe
Deltaville Steamed Blue Crabs
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix vinegar, beer, and ¼ cup of Old Bay into large stock pot
  2. Heat on high heat until a steamy simmer
  3. Place screen or metal strainer over hot liquid
  4. Sprinkle Old Seasoning over the top of each crab
  5. Add crabs by layer to the strainer
  6. Cover to keep live crabs from climbing out!
  7. Steam until shells are orange, then sprinkle more Old Bay onto shells
Recipe Notes

Make sure you're able to handle live crabs, as they will try to escape, nip and generally aren't as easy to handle as other recipes might be.

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Hush Puppies
Print Recipe
Hush Puppies
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients, then add whisked egg and milk
  2. Mix together until mixture is wet
  3. Heat oil to 375
  4. Add little 1-1 ½ inch balls to hot oil.
  5. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Enjoy with Steamed Crabs and a cold Beer!

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Stella Samuel is a debut author who reads multiple genres.  Her first book, 34 Seconds, talks about the moments where life changes suddenly, and the choices we make in those moments where the people that hold parts of ourselves from the past meet.  A literate and lyrical view at love, life and fate, this story is both uplifting and satisfying.

Stella is a debut author who loves nothing more than connecting with fans on social media.  Her blog bio is:

Stella Samuel – Writer, Butterfly and Singer of Silly Songs. Smiles under sunshine but dances in warm rain. Silently wishes to winter in Phoenix.

 

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Nikki and Will fell in love a lifetime ago in Deltaville, Virginia. Now living in Colorado with her family, Nikki is invited to attend Will’s wedding back in Virginia where she finds her past staring her in the face.
Will never wanted a wife, and he broke Nikki’s heart long ago. Nikki knew what she wanted: a strong, happy marriage and children, a future. She found those things when she married Chris, and she and Will managed to grow their friendship after heartbreak.

A year after the wedding, Nikki is faced with her painful past again. She soon discovers she must find the strength to help Will on his own personal journey. In thirty-four seconds, she sees him slip from her life forever. Watching Will cross over to his fate, her past collides with her present, and Nikki learns she’s never been in control of her own destiny. Her own journey back to her family in Colorado becomes one of self-discovery. With the help of Will’s voice to carry her across the country, Nikki must decide how she will move forward.

Buy 34 seconds here.

 

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You can follow Stella on various social media platforms and her blog.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Author Central | Pinterest
Add “34 Seconds” to your Goodreads to read list!
Help Stella make her Thuderclap goal!

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Join in on the other tour spots over on Indie Minions!

Would you like to review this book, or feature the author in a guest post?  Sign up here!10

Would you like to win a $25 (or equivalent value) gift card or a signed book from Stella Samuel?

Easy entry on Rafflecopter, below!

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Hush Puppies

These Hush Puppies were given to us as a recipe by Stella Samuel, to celebrate the launch of her novel, 34 Seconds.

Hush Puppies
Print Recipe
Hush Puppies
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients, then add whisked egg and milk
  2. Mix together until mixture is wet
  3. Heat oil to 375
  4. Add little 1-1 ½ inch balls to hot oil.
  5. Fry for 2-3 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Enjoy with Steamed Crabs and a cold Beer!

Share this Recipe
 
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Deltaville Steamed Blue Crabs

Cool, crack, and enjoy a Deltaville tradition

king snow crab legs ready to eat closeup

king snow crab legs ready to eat closeup

Deltaville Steamed Blue Crabs
Print Recipe
Deltaville Steamed Blue Crabs
Print Recipe
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix vinegar, beer, and ¼ cup of Old Bay into large stock pot
  2. Heat on high heat until a steamy simmer
  3. Place screen or metal strainer over hot liquid
  4. Sprinkle Old Seasoning over the top of each crab
  5. Add crabs by layer to the strainer
  6. Cover to keep live crabs from climbing out!
  7. Steam until shells are orange, then sprinkle more Old Bay onto shells
Recipe Notes

Make sure you're able to handle live crabs, as they will try to escape, nip and generally aren't as easy to handle as other recipes might be.

Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe