We had a very busy weekend (dart tournament). We thankfully avoided the worst of the storms both at home and where we were located. While Kentucky was the hardest hit by far, Missouri had six tornado warnings issued that night and I’ve heard Defiance, Missouri lost nearly 35% of it’s structures and while there were injuries, they managed to have no fatalities.

Because I have trouble working when we go to dart tournaments (there are a ton of interruptions throughout the day), I did not achieve any increase in word counts. I did get quite a bit done on my crocheting though and I may get the majority of my crochet to do list done this next week, which would be good.

I’m not sure how much work I’ll manage to get done today. The bed in our hotel room was broken and we slid to the middle when we lay down on it. This coupled with the fact that I am sure every spring in the bed was attempting to stab me, meant I slept on the couch all weekend in our room. In September I suddenly began struggling to sleep through noises, the doctor told me it was hormones and probably wouldn’t be the last major annoying change I would experience over the next handful of years. But it did make sleeping in a noisy hotel more of a challenge. And of course, we get a room close to the dart hall and everyone knows we are in that room, which makes it worse because as drunken dart players wander past our room at 4 am, they stop to give it a brief rapping or banging… That happened all three nights of the tournament and so all three nights of the tournament I was awakened at some point in the wee hours of the morning because some jerk beat on our door as they walked past.

I got a good night’s sleep on Sunday night, at home, but I’m still feeling tired and rundown from the weekend and my brain doesn’t feel like it’s engaging any time soon… so today may be a crochet and listen to books day with the occasional video game break while I let my hands rest. Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll get back to it.

The Wednesday Revelation

Over the summer the nose pad on the right side of my glasses started hurting my nose. But it’s summer and I’ve never worn glasses before, so it’s probably the heat and the extra sweating. Once the temps cool down it will stop. Except it didn’t. Tuesday, I had a big red spot and small scab on the right side of my nose from my glasses and I couldn’t get back into the place where I got them to get them adjusted. J said why don’t you call the ophthalmologist I used… so I did. I explained to the woman who answered the phone what was going on with my nose and told her my husband was a patient and she told me to bring them in any time and they would gladly adjust them for me.

Wednesday I went in and sat down across from the tech and we began to talk about the problem and she said “I don’t think that’s the only problem. You are using the bottom of your glasses to look at me and not the middle, this usually happens when they don’t mark the pupil location correctly.” I gave her my glasses and she examined them. “So not only did they mark your pupil location a smidge too low, but they didn’t cut your lenses properly for these frames. When you clean them do they feel like they are going to come out?”

As a matter of fact, they do… and once the left lens has come out and I popped it back in.

“Yeah, it appears they cut the lenses about one millimeter too small for these frames, which results in the lenses being loose. I will make some adjustments to the nose pad, but I think because your pupil location is incorrect you are pushing your glasses too far up your nose and this constant pushing has bent the nose pad holder and it will bend again.”

Huh, that makes sense, sometimes I find my eyelashes brushing the lens because it’s more comfortable closer to my face. I had already made an appointment to switch my care to J’s ophthalmologist in February. Last year at my exam, I was told I had a freckle on my iris and it should be monitored yearly. I told her about my appointment and she said “well, I hate to tell you this, but there is no way our doctors are going to let you keep these glasses. Due to the ill-fitting lenses and the pupil location being too low, they are already showing a lot of wear, probably from where you’ve pushed on them repeatedly with force to make them feel comfortable. We might be able to just cut new lenses, but given I would have guessed you’d had these frames for a couple of years already, they may also want you to get new frames.”

Great. My vision insurance will only pay for new frames and lenses every 3 years unless my prescription changes. I am hoping if the doctor explains why I require new lenses and frames after only a year, my insurance will go ahead and cover them, but I don’t think I’ll hold my breath. Of course, seeing the bang up job they did last year with my glasses I am starting to have questions about whether my prescription is correct because when I’m doing a lot of reading (like when I edit a book), I still have to enlarge the screen. Microsoft Word default is set to zoom to 125% and Adobe Acrobat is 175%. I find reading and writing on my phone difficult. Some of it is Autocorrect, but some of it is me, I just can’t always make out the words if there’s lots of small text on the screen.

Crochet and Writing

For those that have followed me for a while, you will be aware that I like to crochet at least a few Christmas gifts every year. I try to make gifts for my close friends as well as some of my family members and I do love to crochet. Normally, I crochet while watching TV in the evenings. This year, I fell behind on my crochet schedule and I realized I was going to have to dedicate some writing days to crocheting if I was going to get everything done.

Sunday, as I sat at my computer working I had a bright idea; maybe I can crochet while dictating to Microsoft Word. I can then transfer from Word to my writing programs at the end of the day.

And so Monday, I got it all set up. My crochet bag at my feet in my office, dictation headphones plugged in and Word’s dictation. I wrote 5,000 words using dictation on 2 different books and I got 37 rows down on a project I’m crocheting. I spent Tuesday baking and didn’t get much writing or crocheting done. But Wednesday, I was productive.

I am slower with dictation than typing. I type between 120 and 150 words a minute when I’m in a writing groove. I do not dictate that fast, especially since the debacle last year. Last year I dictated part of a chapter of Nephilim Narrative 4 and my editor Krissy spent weeks trying to sort it out and she told me if I ever did it again she was quitting. This time, I am dictating a few paragraphs and then stopping to go through them and make sure weird shit isn’t being written on the page.

I have set a goal of 4,000 dictated words a day. I am writing on Nephilim Narrative 5 and a lady detective novel set in England during WWI.

Social Media

Late spring 2021, I decided that for the sake of my own mental health, I needed to depart from social media for a couple of months.

It turned out to be a longer break than I planned and I feel I should explain.

In late spring an acquaintance of mine from high school posted a fundraiser link on Facebook with information that her cousin’s 8 year old daughter died of COVID and the family was struggling financially due to the pandemic and they couldn’t even afford a funeral right now.

I clicked the post to comment and make a donation. The comments came up and someone else from high school had been the last person to comment.

The comment was something along the lines of “COVID is a hoax, dying of it is like dying of a cold it is impossible. Do not donate money to these people, they obviously saw an opportunity to murder their unwanted child and knew it would be blamed on this fake disease.”

Fatter reading the comment, I realized I just could not deal with people online anymore. For perhaps the first time in my life, I was actively hoping something horrible happened to the commentator.

I am not an angry or hostile person as a general rule and it dawned on me that I was angry after looking at stuff on Facebook or Twitter every time I looked at it. It is not healthy to be angry all the time. Not only is it hard on your body physically it is emotionally exhausting.

And so, I went on hiatus. I log on to Facebook messenger on my phone only on nights I have online dart league and I have not logged on to Facebook in six months.

The most common teapot when I explain why I deserted social media is “you just have to ignore those people.” Except they shouldn’t be ignored, allowed to continue spreading misery and hurt to their fellow people. We are all in our 40s now, surely we have all outgrown the bullying stage. And for those that haven’t, why? What is wrong with them that they believe this sort of behavior is acceptable from adults?

Also, social media was touted as a tool to bring people together over great distances. It has done exactly the opposite. I wouldn’t use a keyboard missing the keys E, A, and T to type a novel, why use a broken app to manage my social life?

I secretly hope one day soon, we can return to being at least civil to our fellow Americans. Yet, I doubt most people are willing or capable of setting aside our differences to search for our commonalities.

The Personality Quirk

When we got Kelly, the vet said she was sure Kelly had some border collie and some beagle in her. I can see both of those in her as well. Most of the time, Kelly acts like a hunting dog. She digs at moles underground, stalks birds in our yard, and she has this strange bark that I don’t know if I can describe, but she only uses it when she’s hunting moles. She’ll stare at the ground, jump and then give this bizarre quick deep bark.

At any rate, definitely got some hunting dog in her and her behavior has always leaned more towards the beagle in her… until recently. A few months ago, I decided to trust Kelly to walk from the backyard to the garage without a leash. This is a huge thing for her because she was a runner when we first got her. Lola is good at following orders though so she’s been doing it for years.

The first time, I allowed Kelly off leash from the backyard to the garage I noticed she did something she’d never done before. As she awaited me to get to the garage, she was running around Lola, barking at her, and occasionally jumping at her or throwing her body against her. Huh, that’s new. Kelly is not my first Border Collie (I had one as a teenager when my nephews were little). Frisky, the border collie from my teen years did this same thing with my older nephew when he started walking. Frisky would herd the nephew around the room this way. He was better than any baby gate at keeping the toddler away from doorways.

Kelly doesn’t herd the toddlers, but Lola does and has since Jude the Great Nephew began toddling around. Kelly has never really herded anything and I thought despite the collie in her she just wasn’t inclined to be a herder. Until Wednesday, I let the dogs out the gate to the garage and watched Kelly corral and herd Lola into the garage. Interestingly, Lola mostly ignores her when she’s doing this. J came home from work and I watched Kelly interact with him in our dining room and realized she was herding him towards the couch. Kelly has a routine, when J gets home, J must sit down, allow Kelly to jump into his lap, then she leans her body against his chest while sitting on her haunches and expects him to hug her. If he doesn’t do this promptly, she gets mad and ignores him for the rest of the night.

Watching Kelly herd J towards the couch, I had a sudden thought. As everyone has heard me say, Kelly is a jumper. We even tried a shock collar for a few weeks in an attempt to break the habit to no avail. Anyway, as I watched, I wondered how often Kelly’s excited jumping is really just a miserable attempt at herding a person but due to her excitement, she can’t stay focused and get the job done…

Competitive Dreams Release

Today or tomorrow, you should find Competitive Dreams at your favorite ebook retailer. I uploaded it to Amazon, Google, iBooks, Nook, and all the others on Tuesday.

Happy Thanksgiving/Thursday/Nightmare Friday/weekend etc! I probably won’t post links until next week as I will be preparing for Thanksgiving today and celebrating tomorrow.

The Mystery of the Socks

I got one editor’s revisions back at 4 Friday afternoon. So I am spending my weekend working and hope to publish Competitive Dreams by Black Friday. However, a sock mystery arose while I was working this morning and I decided I need to share it.

So, if I could have permanent socks on my feet I would. I hate that I have to take my socks off to sleep (and this is a recent thing, I used to sleep in them every night) and I hate that I have to take them off to shower. I love wearing socks. I feel weird when I’m not wearing them. So I’m going from change to change in Competitive Dreams when J walks in to my office to ask me why I am putting my socks under the computer table in the living room?

What? He tells me they have to be mine or my niece’s because they are “fun socks”. Okay, I’m not disputing they are mine (I have distinctive socks when I can), I am wondering why the hell they are in the basement? A) the basement is cool. B) I wear shoes from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed and this requires socks, therefore I wear socks all the time (I despise being barefoot and if I don’t have my shoes on, I am definitely wearing my socks)… I do not wear sandals or flipflops and quite honestly the reason I prefer dress boots to dress shoes is because I can still wear socks with dress boots.

So how did my socks, which I would never remove in the living room in the basement, ever, get from my bedroom floor where I took them off as I climbed into bed get downstairs… let alone under the computer table? Lola doesn’t like stairs, she’s definitely not going up and down them in the dark during the night to bring my socks downstairs, that leaves Kelly. But Kelly even as a puppy did not show interest in socks, is she sneaking off with my dirty socks and putting them in the basement? Probably not, she loves J more than me, if she is stealing socks and hiding them, they would be J’s socks. Also, I would notice if my socks were going missing overnight. Since I work from home and I spend my day sitting Indian style on a couch, I don’t change my socks every day (I do take my shoes off for this, they sit on the floor between me and my work table where I can easily slip them on if I have to get up and walk away from my computer), I usually wear them 2 days and then change them and I throw my 2 day old socks in the hamper as I get new socks out and put them on my feet. I would notice a stash of missing socks.

My niece does like fun socks, like me… but she prefers ankle or no-see-um socks and I prefer longer socks (calf or knee is my preference), I have some cute dog socks that are ankles and I don’t wear them very often because they are ankle socks and it feels weird to have the top of my ankle exposed. Which brings us back to the question of the socks under the computer table in the basement. I haven’t examined them to see if they are in fact mine… but even if they are the niece’s it’s weird that they were under the computer table in the basement. Now. my niece would prefer to be barefoot. But she hasn’t spent a lot of nights here the last 2ish years. It definitely hasn’t been enough for her to have a collection of socks under our computer table.

And so, why were there “fun socks” collected under the computer table in the basement and where did they come from? Okay, back to work.

A 9 year old should not be drinking or driving a car – why I spell out numbers in books

So, in my books, I spell out nearly all numbers. I know it’s not in line with any style manuals, but I do it for a reason.

When I was a kid/tween/teen, I was reading a book and the character’s age was given as 9. This 9 year old girl went on to drink alcohol and drive a car in later chapters and it just didn’t make sense. What the hell? This is possibly the worst behaved 9 year old in the history of the world. Towards the end of the book, she gets pregnant. Holy crap. Also, she was in high school. Why was a 9 year old a senior in high school. I had checked it out from the school library.

After I finished the book, I returned it and next time I went to the public library I decided to ask the librarian about it. She grabbed the library copy, the character was 19 not 9. Well that changes things significantly! The book now made sense. For some reason the edition I read had a printing error and the 1 in front of the 9 was missing.

When I started experimenting with writing myself decades ago, that incident was still fresh in my mind and I got in the habit of writing the numbers out… because there is no way to confuse NINETEEN with NINE. Fiction style guides say to write out one through ten and use numerals to indicate everything else when writing… but I don’t because twenty-nine also can’t become 9 if I write them out. And so, I write out all numbers less than 100.