Return Of The Pain Monster

I wanted to be productive today. Apparently, my body had other plans. Luckily for me, I have this handy dandy voice recognition headset. So, now I can complain about how badly my body hurts without actually using my hands to type these words.

Every couple of months, this happens to me. An insidious ache begins deep in my bones. It worms its way outward along my nerves. Burning like a fire, like a slow, itching fire. I can't sit still. I wriggle, and I squirm. Nothing helps. It sucks. What is this monster, and why did it pick me to pester, oh so endlessly?

Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. For now, distraction is all I have. Catch you on the flip side.


Cover Update Reveal: Oathen, Book Two in the Immortality Archive

Here's the awesome new cover for the sequel to Wicked Heroine, complete with epic waterfall and an axe of light. I'm really loving the colors on these new covers. The oranges are slightly malevolent, and the greens are just a hair too creepy to be trustworthy. Enjoy!


Cover Update Reveal: Wicked Heroine, Book One in the Immortality Archive

This fabulous new cover art by Streetlight Graphics is in the process of updating to all the book's purchase sites, so here's a sneak peek for those of you who are quick and in the mix. It'll be everywhere in a few days.

A Very Tasty First

I've never made a smoothie in my life, but with all the fresh fruit I have in my house, I just couldn't resist. The thought popped into my head, unbidden, and took root over a couple of hours, until I was too hungry to resist.

Three scoops of vanilla, a splash of milk, a handful of raspberries, seven strawberries, and two bananas later,  tasty heaven had arrived. Dude, that was delicious. I'm gonna have to do that more often!


The Unexpected Syndrome: Amnesia of the Soul

I must have sprouted stealth armor, because I totally fell off the radar for a couple of weeks there. I mean, I was low on the scanner already, because I was keeping my head down and working my butt off. But two weeks ago, I had to stop. My. Life.

I got brain poisoning. Such a short sentence--four little words--yet so terrifying. I'm still kind of stunned that I'm not dead. Or maybe that stunned feeling is just the meds.

Meds meds meds. Dude, the meds. Okay, technically it's just one med. The ER doc gave me Lorazepam, and it gave me back my sanity by balancing my brain chemistry. But that's only the end of the story.

I had a nasty migraine going on the week before that. Three days straight. I was at my wits' end, so I went to my PCP. She gave me an Imitrex shot for the migraine, but it backfired, big time. I dropped straight into Serotonin Syndrome (later confirmed by the ER doc and by my new PCP--we'll get to him in a minute). And  as I lay muttering and flailing on my doctor's exam room table, she...played with my son.

I couldn't make this up. Because I don't write horror.

 I lay there and blurted out my strange symptoms in a desperate attempt to get her to interact with my immediate situation. All the while, I wondered why I had a long-fingered troll with a wraith feeding hand gripping the back of my neck, sucking all my energy out. My limbs were cast in rubbery concrete. After twenty or so minutes of not having my vitals checked and not being otherwise examined in any way from across the room, I heard my doctor say she needed to take me home.

I couldn't even stand up, yo. How's that gonna work? Well, there was a nice young nurse and a wheelchair, and some hopefully coherent small talk on the way across town--the wrong direction from the ER, by the way, which was literally a stone's throw from the doc's office. And it was literally the only place she should have been taking me for such a serious reaction.

I work with motives and character background for a living, and I do not understand why she did what she did. Unless... She did prescribe me a migraine medication that said in its warning section, "Do not take this drug if you are allergic to opioids (eg. Morphine)." Well, guess who's allergic to morphine? Trying to get rid of the witness, perhaps? Probably not, but what else am I to think when she tries to kill me twice in one day? I'm supposed to think it's time for a new PCP, that's what.

I lay in bed all day, drained. The next day, my head was screaming. The day after that, it was still screaming. On Friday, I felt my equilibrium tip and spill me down into endless darkness, and waves of depressed weeping swept over me like storms. I died inside sometime that day, and I remember not mourning, because nothing mattered.

I got better, then worse again, and worried it would kill me that time, so I sought help at the ER, where the doctor, despite my crazy fears that nothing would change, actually diagnosed me properly and gave me some medication. I popped half a pill there in the ER, and by the time I got home, I'd been raised from the dead.

I got a new PCP the next day, and even an appointment, because I needed someone to oversee my new treatment plan. His last words to me as I left the exam room--on my own two feet, might I add: "I will not abandon you." I think he's a keeper.

It's been a crazy week since then, knowing that I remember who I am as long as I'm on the pills, waiting for the Serotonin Symptoms to fade away on their own--because nothing can cure it; it's a waiting game. I sometimes get periods of several hours when I'm off the meds and I'm still me. But that first warning symptom that I'm not out of the woods yet is always that troll's crushing grip on the back of my neck, and the acid headache that spills upward into the back of my skull.

I now know what it's like to have a serious chemical imbalance in the brain. I know the crazy, and that fighting it alone is futile. I know that help is essential. I know my prognosis is good, since the syndrome is only temporary. I've been to crazy. It was indeed a short trip--about two minutes flat for the syndrome to kick in--but I don't ever want to go there again.

I've been working, cautiously and at a slow pace, this past week. I've done a bit of editing on two books, and a bit of writing on a third. It feels good, like warm summer light after the tornado has passed. I remember who I was, and I am willing myself to be that person again.

And yes, I'm totally noting every detail of my sudden, dangerous experience for potential inclusion in one of my books someday. Because that's who I am, too.


I Heard a Bee Buzz When She Died

I just found a honey bee in the trough of my sliding glass door, buzzing for all it was worth. I completely forget why I went into the kitchen now, but the sound of her wings drew my attention. The screen door was shut, and I worried that it had a hole somewhere. I love honey bees, so my first thought was to rescue her and return her to the outdoors, where she could work on pollinating my tomato plant for me (I say that because two years ago I bought two tomato plants that put out glorious yellow blossoms all summer long--and no one came to pollinate them. How terrifying!)

Alas, the bee seemed in distress. I offered her the flat edge of the flyswatter, but she wouldn't cling to it. I offered her the thin metal handle next, but her flailings seemed so desperate that I wonder if she knew it was there. Maybe, I thought, she was just dying at the end of her life cycle.

But, disturbingly, she looked like she was in absolute, overwhelming agony. It reminded me of the poor spider that got the Cruciatus curse in the fourth book of the Harry Potter series--it looked like it was screaming. That might have been helped by the fact that its tongue was constantly flailing as well.

I've never seen a bee's tongue before. Dark pink and thread-thin, it's the color of mine, turned into a straw. A long needle for drinking. But to see the bee sticking it out repeatedly, as if, what, seeking an antidote she accidentally dropped nearby? It just made the overall image of her distress more unnerving.

I don't make a habit of examining stinging insects up close, but the bee looked to be a funny color, covered with more pale gray fuzz than seemed normal. Maybe she had a fungus that was driving her out of her mind. Her legs were certainly uncoordinated. Some cross between grooming and walking, with the occasional spastic straightening, as if suffering a seizure, kept the creature in constant wobbling motion.

And all the while, her wings buzzed, until, finally, she grew too exhausted. She lay silent, writhing, tonguing the air. My daughter crouched by me, and I tried to make sense of the bee's possible diagnoses for her. She had picked a couple of flowers outside--just weeds this time, a morning glory and a dandelion. She offered me the morning glory, and I held it over the bee for a while, hoping the smell of pollen would help somehow.

Then we spotted a jumping spider outside on the deck, through the glass. I gave my daughter a child's version of the euthanasia speech, but by the time I'd scooped the bee up, the spider had vanished.

She was just a bee. But she seemed to be in pain, dying, and I've always liked bugs. I stayed with her. I can't remember what I was about to do before I saw her, or if I'd already completed it. But it doesn't matter. I don't even know how she got into my house, but that doesn't matter, either.

I remember you, creature of the air. And I am the better for it.


Unexpected Paradise

The power went out at our house yesterday. I'd already left the house with the kids, but my hubby was just climbing out of the shower when everything went dark. Kind of a vulnerable position to find oneself in! I'm glad that wasn't me.

He had to walk to meet us because the garage door wouldn't open. Luckily, our church is less than a mile from our house, and it was a nice spring day--which, around here, means no wind storms, no rain, no heat wave and no sudden chill. Exercise is good, but exercise on a lovely morning is better. Right, honey? Heh.

I wasn't feeling so hot after the kids finished their morning class, so I took the car and the daughter home, and hubby stayed behind with Mr. Boy. On the final turn before our block, I had to wait for a Pacific Power truck to clear the intersection. A bit worrisome, see, since my husband had already told me there was one on site to fix the problem--the site being the power pole just next to our front yard. Yet this truck was just arriving, and it was the only one there. There went my hopes of having the power on so I could park in the garage. Nope. Driveway it is!

Everything was off, naturally. My daughter had forgotten since the last power outage we had, years ago, what runs on electricity and what doesn't. I assured her we had water. But let me tell you, peeing in the dark of a bathroom with no windows is always a little creepy to me.

I was in the middle of telling her about how we shouldn't open the fridge or freezer unless absolutely necessary since we didn't know how long the power would really be out when I realized I wanted to eat up some of that slowly-melting ice cream. It's only practical, right? So we grabbed a blanket, a bunch of sofa cushions, and two bowls of ice cream (okay, it was actually rainbow sherbet and had no dairy products in danger of going bad, but an opportunistic craving is an opportunistic craving), and headed to the back deck.

It was the perfect ice cream picnic. We sat in the shade of the roof, the sky had a light haze so the shadows were soft (good for my post-migraine head), the ice cream was cold, the cushions were comfy, the dog was a stolid companion, and the other guest was adorable, witty, and fun, as only an eight-year-old can be. It's a rare day when I find myself in the perfect spot, temperature-wise, but that day, I totally nailed it: in the shade with the occasional breeze that might have been one degree cooler. Also, did I mention the ice cream? Excellent internal coolant when one isn't actually hot.

We sat out there for almost an hour. My daughter could see the power pole around the corner of the house, and narrated to me as two men in two buckets from two separate trucks rose into the air to fiddle with the pole's upper end. We dawdled and joked and lazed, and eventually one of us had to go inside for something. She flicked on a light switch, and lo, verily, it worked! Huzzah and gadzooks!

So we returned to the modern civilization of our air-conditioned, filtered, lit, and heated house. But not without reluctance. Some days, when the perfect storm of perfect weather grabs you, you can't help wanting to revel in it forever. Build me a garden with wi-fi, and we'll talk.