There's been some family stuff, but I'm also on a bit of a sleep strike for reasons that will eternally be a mystery. Hopefully I'll get back at it tomorrow. Today, if I really rally, I may have the mental capacity to dig in some plants.


Yeah, some family business has landed and needs to be dealt with. Hopefully it won't be too bad, but I also have the annual "Are you still allergic to stuff?" visit with the allergist tomorrow, so this week is suddenly looking a lot more dicey.

Glory, Hallelujah! I have been cured!

I've had a couple of high blood pressure readings at the doctor's office--I've pretty much always gotten white-coat syndrome with new doctors, but this is a doctor I've had for a while, so she was a bit hmmm about it. After tangling with the blood pressure machines at the supermarket (which are free for a reason) I went ahead and bought a home monitor--they're not expensive, and I really wanted to have reliable data. If there's a problem with my blood pressure, I don't want to ignore it and wind up like my brother, but I also don't want to be put on medication just because some doofus almost backed me over in the supermarket's parking lot.

I've been reading up on how to take accurate measurements (do it in the morning before you've had caffeine), plus I've been taking it at various times during the day just to get a sense of what my own patterns are. (At this point, it doesn't look like there's a real problem.)

So after I finally managed to get some writing today, I took my blood pressure. And in spite of the fact that 1. it's the afternoon, and 2. I drank a whole bunch of caffeine to help the writing along, my blood pressure reading was the lowest it's ever been--and I took it twice to make sure!

And, you know, this is what I have been telling people! Like, yes, what I'm doing for the family is very important and meaningful, and yes, there are other enjoyable activities out there--but they're not writing. They're just not. And if you're a writer, there is simply no substitute for the real thing!

All righty!

Things have finally cleared up. Today's not going to work, but in addition to the legitimate time-consuming activities, I've noticed that there's been some procrastinating as well, so: If I don't write tomorrow, I have to blog about what stupid trivial crap I did instead!

Getting there....

One of the other side effects of traveling so much is that I haven't been doing any of the normal maintenance stuff (health stuff, animal stuff, stuff around the house, the now-inevitable legal stuff) either, so I've been having to dig my way out from under all of that. Let's put it this way: Recently a power surge completely fried the GFCI outlet in the bedroom, meaning I had no electrical power in that room whatsoever. It took me four days to find the time to replace a fucking electrical outlet (which is not a complicated job) so I could stop getting dressed by flashlight.

Anyway, hopefully in a few days I will finally have the time and space to get back to writing! What a miracle that would be!!

One benefit of the travel, though, is that we went to Yellowstone, which means I now have very good idea of what a volcanic wasteland looks like. It looks pretty damned amazing, I'll tell you that.

This again

One of the things that's been happening that's been preventing the writing is that I've been traveling A LOT over the past year or so.

There's been a few reasons for this. One is that I never did travel very much before, because I was a freelancer and travel meant I had to both pay for the trip and forgo earned income, so it was extremely expensive. The other thing is that my family was scattered all over the country, so what travel I did was to see family, not to go on some adventure.

We're more consolidated now, but because I've taken on a bigger role in the family's financial management, I've still had to travel quite a bit for family--and not fun trips, but ones undertaken to ensure that taxes are paid properly and the like. You know: Meet with lawyer. Meet with bank. Search in file cabinet for documents. Meet with lawyer....

I started to really resent this, and as a result I booked a bunch of fun travel. Everything I'd ever wanted to do, but couldn't before! Carpe diem! YOLO, dude!! I went to Hawaii! And London! I rode the Coast Starlight train all the way from Seattle to Los Angeles!

That was all great, but...lately when I see these things on my calendar, my reaction has been "Not ANOTHER one!" I realize that this is the very definition of a Rich Person Problem, but it's been very frustrating to me to not be making progress with the writing, and these trips really fracture my focus (especially when they are followed up by persistent sinus infections).

So, I have another trip coming up soon (with family, but it's supposed to be a fun trip, not a work trip), but then I should have no trips at least until the holiday season. I still want to travel, of course--I want to see the world! Whee!--but I need to find a better balance and try to schedule trips around the writing.

Creating a monster when you can't draw

As I said, I'm working on redoing the fantasy novel cover. My original idea was this:

The idea being that 1. there is a dragon, and 2. the dragon is taking over, which is A Bad Thing.

The notion was to convey these ideas by making the cover like the video game Snake. But the book has nothing to do with video games in general or Snake in particular, so I think that cover will send the wrong message.

I still like the idea, though. I just need the dragon on the cover not to look like a video game--in other words, I need a dragon that looks a lot more realistic.

That's a problem, because I still can't draw.

I can use Gimp, however, and I feel like I do pretty well with modifying photographs. So, the White Spider legs on the cover of Trials are modified pictures of ferns that I took on a walk, and the cover of Tribulations features what was once a cup of tea.

I also feel like fantasy/sci-fi creatures need to be a bit uncanny, so it helps to use something far from what you're making--hence the reliance on ferns to make the White Spider legs, instead of using pictures of fuzzy sea life or the like. So while the dragon's body will still be snakelike, I didn't want to use a picture of a lizard or something as my basis for the dragon's head.

Instead, I used a picture that I took of a cute kitten.

I'm not going to blog the whole process, but even at this early point the kitten looks a lot more menacing.

There's a lot left to do, of course, but I think you can see how just a few changes can make something look much more eerie and fantastical.

Thank you, germs. Thank you so much

I realized what's happening last night--the bugs that were skulking around from my last sinus infection are trying to stage a comeback after the shot and all the antihistamines I had to take with it. (Antihistamines actually make your sinuses a better home for germs, which makes it tough if you, like me, tend to assume that congestion is the result of allergies and should be treated with them.)

I think what I'm going to do is work on the cover for the fantasy novel. I'm too run down to write (this has been wreaking havoc with my sleep schedule as well), but I feel like I should get something done....

In a haze....

I had my allergy shot this week, so I've been a little woozy (I'm using a different antihistamine because I want to use it up--we'll see if I don't break and return to the old stuff, because this stuff doesn't work as well and has worse side effects). Hopefully tomorrow I'll be 100% again.