Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign

 I've been pushing to get the hardcover edition of Moondrops & Thistles out for the 30th anniversary of the end of Desert Storm. It's hard to believe it's been that long already. Time flies when you keep busy.

Being busy means I did not get it ready to publish by today. It is getting close. I'd rather have it later than I wanted and as right as I can get it than to meet my own deadline. I do have the front cover ready. Want to see it? I can at least do that today.

What do you think?

I've done some revamping of the story since the paperback came out ten years ago (also hard to believe). If you've read the original, you likely won't recognize much change, if any. Some descriptive detail. Some adding. Some deleting. But the same story of a decorated Desert Storm soldier running into a fiery spark of life in the middle of the dark pouring rain just when he needs it most. 

My plan for today was to continue working on this story, but when I woke up, my Rehearsal characters were yelling at me to give them some attention. And the internet was out. Okay. So. Change of plans. I ignored the connection issue and worked on Rehearsal Book 5 until after lunch when I decided to take a break and paint a bit instead. When I turned my playlist onto shuffle, because I need my music to paint, the first song that played was So Into You, one I had just mentioned (again) during my writing session. I took it as a sign that I did what I should have when I listened to my instinct to go back to this book for today. Then a couple of other songs passed and I tried to rewind to that one and clicked it one too often and then had to restart it. Sighing, I chuckled when another one from the series started.

That felt like a knock-her-in-the-head-if-she-won't-listen sign. I've had so many doubts about this series/serial/saga that was my first begun major writing project and may end up being the last, too, as slowly as it's coming along and with the sequel and prequel in mind. And... maybe a first for me: a mystery that's related. I strongly felt today that I was being told to just keep going with it. There's a reason the story has been so invasive throughout most of my life. Even if I don't know what it is.

Sometimes we don't know. Sometimes we get signs and ignore them, to our own detriment. Sometimes, though, we listen. And we learn.

One of the three main Rehearsal characters believes strongly in signs, until she thinks maybe she doesn't, and then has to regroup and reconsider.

Where these signs come from is anyone's guess. I do believe that, like Daws when he is sent exactly what he needs when he needs it and is ready to recognize it, the willingness to see the sign is what matters most. Being open to hear what we need to hear matters. Being willing to change what we thought we believed helps us grow.

Much of my work revolves around just that. Simple, maybe, but also very complex and not easy to accomplish. 

Coincidentally, these two books getting the same post space actually works well. They do get connected eventually. Those of you who have read the book that spawned the Daws (Sergeant Fred Dawson) character (and thank you for requesting more of him), Off The Moon, have found the connection. At least part of it. ;-)  Like life, everything gets connected, around my series/serial/saga, that is.

Even a Desert Storm soldier in 1991.


(Side note: Off The Moon first came out in 2009 and Moondrops & Thistles in 2011. M&T is set 9 years earlier. They are related, but can be read in either order. M&T goes back and explains the connection between Daws and Ryan, which will be explained further in a Rehearsal book. Confused yet?)

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Not-Talked-About Heart Issue We Should Talk About

What I see when I get dizzy and
lower my head...

   Let me start by saying I'm really a very private person. That might sound odd for a novelist, but sharing my thoughts, ideas, and opinions is a very different thing than sharing ME. I mean, sharing personal stuff, like health stuff. I don't, really. It's generally not professional, but beyond that, it's intrusive. Thoughts and opinions are things I've learned and experienced. It's different. It can change over time (and should). It's fluid. It's meant to be shared. My health is personal.

Other than that, I don't like to hear details about people's health issues ad nauseum. I don't. Not because I'm callous, but because I'm intuitive/sensitive and I prefer not to focus on things that can go wrong.

However, in recent years, I've learned I have had a health issue likely all of my life that I didn't know about. It involves the heart. After being diagnosed after a medication sent me to the ER with severe long-lasting palpitations where the nurse who seemed very disinterested asked if maybe I was having a panic attack and treated me like I was wasting her time, my doctor, at the follow-up, actually looked at the EKG results enough to find the problem:

Long QT Syndrome

Have you heard of it? Probably not. It's an electrical issue with the heart where it takes longer to recover between beats than it should. Research I found calls it rare, but I tend to think it's less rare than it is undetected. There are two types: Inherited and Acquired. Acquired LQTS is generally brought on by medications, and when the meds stop and time passes, it heals. With any luck, it doesn't cause a heart attack first. Inherited LQTS does not heal. It's life-long. Many never know they have it. 

The first symptom is often death.

Read that again: the FIRST symptom is often death. 

Back when I was in school PE class and we were all forced to run a mile around the track on a semi-regular basis, I always ended up walking in between. Because it hurt my chest. It hurt enough to be scary. So fine, I was marked as lazy or too out of shape or whatever, when really, I wasn't too terribly out of shape, considering. I grew up in dance. I bicycled a lot. I walked a lot. I swam. I played softball. However, I could not run any distance at all. And no one gave a thought about figuring out why I shouldn't be able to.

You know all of those otherwise healthy young athletes who suddenly die of heart attacks and no one ever knows why? I'm no doctor, but I have a strong educated opinion on that.

So what I want to know is: WHY do we not hear about it? Why are athletes not screened for it? It causes death. In young people. Not many, thankfully, but unnecessarily. My stubbornness to not give in and run when I knew I shouldn't turned out to be a good thing.

In the past two and a half years, I've been doing walking challenges, trying to stay fit and healthy. They're meant to be running challenges, but I don't run. I hate to run. Always have. However, last summer I thought maybe I'd worked up enough to give it another try. Slowly, I worked up to a 17.3 minute mile by mostly walking but running some in between. And for about a week afterward, I was sidelined. It hurt. And it was scary. I think I might have liked to run if I could, but thankfully, this thing was discovered, albeit rather embarrassingly, and so I walk.

And I avoid strong meds. I avoid too much caffeine. I drink plenty of water. I add a bit of potassium when I think I should (research this on your own, but when I was in the ER, they gave me potassium because it was very low and it worked well). I don't push workouts too hard. I also did the medic bracelet thing to alert anyone who needs to know not to give me Zithromax (a very big no, no for LQTS, apparently) or other high-risk drugs. I let a very small circle of people know in case they needed to know.

But it saddens me that this is not being talked about. February is heart health month and the whole focus is on cardiovascular disease, which everyone is well aware of already. It's important, since heart disease is America's number one killer. I'm glad it's highlighted. However, other heart issues also need to be highlighted. So, at the end of heart health month, I decided to break my personal silence. I'm good. I'm taking care of it. I'm body intuitive so I know when to back off, etc. I just really want to make more people aware of it so they can find out how to deal with it.

Awareness matters. We have awareness months and days for everything under the sun, most of which most of us are all very aware of. Maybe we could start concentrating just a bit more on things we aren't so aware of.

If you know a young person, or not-so-young person, who talks about their chest hurting with exertion, or who gets dizzy upon standing, or who faints for no obvious reason, don't ignore it. It's a very easy check by EKG. And it's easy enough to work with if you KNOW what you're working with. 

Do the research. You can start here (I had to search for it on the site):


CAVEAT: I am NOT a medical professional or anything close to that. This is not medical advice. This is a plea to be aware of Long QT Syndrome with a bit of opinion mixed in. I am a novelist, after all. 

Now returning to my irregularly scheduled writing and life related posts.