Losing the car keys, finding whimsy

July 8, 2017

(First, before I forget: Cover art reveal, coming soon!)

 

Not sure why, but I keep having trouble writing this long overdue update. I can rail about politics or social turmoil endlessly, but a simple mea culpa? Not so easy.

 

Without further ado: To all my faithful readers, dear friends one and all, I apologize for my long overdue book. I don't think anyone is sitting at home reading the other books to tatters because they're so desperate for the ongoing story of the Miller sisters, but I originally promised Forever would be available in the spring. I also have this persistent German work ethic and I am a huge believer in timers and deadlines. I'd never get anything done without them.

 

To explain the deadline that became a slippery slope, if I'm a bit forgiving with myself, turns into a House That Jack Built story. But I'll try to give you a brief idea.

 

As tough as it might be to believe, I do not live the glamorous life of a bestselling author. I work full-time. This was a challenge when I was writing 20 years ago (and raising a young son mostly on my own). When my last publishing deal exploded (with my publisher's rejection in 1995 of Tender being "too ambitious" because of the racial aspect), I decided to focus on enjoying the time I had left with my son, who was by then eleven. I went into technical writing to pay the bills (which it does quite well) and put away my long-held dreams of being a fiction writer. (That was tough.)

 

I stumbled across a hard copy of Tender in February of last year, edited it again, typed it up, and published it on Amazon. I was by then quite inspired by the idea of the next book for many reasons. (I'll probably write about that another time.) 

 

At the end of March, I was laid off. I had some time on my hands. Except for six dogs, I live entirely alone and have no one to answer to, no one to pick up after.


Not even myself, it turns out. (So here's where I'll let the long story spin for a bit.) I was out of work for six months. And there was Immortal, dying to be written. So I researched it and wrote it. I focused entirely on the book during that time, sending out resumes (as my friend Rocky suggested) and just enjoyed working on the book.

 

I did almost nothing besides work on the book. I am not a great housekeeper and please refer to comment re six dogs. My house became filled with scary mysteries. What's that sound behind the dishwasher?  (Mice. Turns out I have a gaping hole in the wall behind my dishwasher.) 

 

I started to digress into the story of how great a mouser my oldest dog, Walker, is, but I'll spare you. Here's some photos of him for your entertainment. (I went looking for the one of him holding a dead squirrel in his mouth, but sadly couldn't find it.)

 

All but two of my dogs have thick, long hair, and although I brush them all, I ... um, let's say rarely ... bathe them. Dust goes everywhere. My house is like Sleeping Beauty's house, except no one put me to sleep. All the cobwebs and brambles grew up around me., and I just keep stepping over them.

 

So just after I published Immortal (when, ironically, I was dying to keep writing and finish Forever as well), I found a new job. 

 

I also started getting sick with a severe allergy problem that plagues me when I let my house become a pig sty. I had no energy and couldn't breathe. By February I went to a doctor and got an inhaler for that.

 

Meanwhile, a hip problem I'd had diagnosed in 2012 while I was in New York worsened, and even crossing the room became painful. So my housekeeping problem worsened.

 

Here are some photographs of me to entertain you, so you will know that although I am not the 34-year-old in the photograph on my books and website, neither am I the 80-year-old that my osteoporosis and touch of emphysema (a joke!) imply. This was with my son, Joshua, celebrating my 59th birthday this past March.

 

The new job, although fairly straightforward technical writing on a scrum team, held some other challenges, all of which I'll also spare you. But the stress totally derailed my creativity and crushed my spirit, and daydreaming of resolving and righting the space-time continuum in colonial America were not something I was able to embrace. 

 

A writer really does need the emotional freedom to play. To fantasize. To dabble in whimsy. All work and dust-management makes me a very dull girl. 

 

I finally went to another orthopedic surgeon who told me that no, physical therapy would not help, and that both hips needed to be replaced. I faced this fact because I realized I was taking enough over-the-counter painkillers to destroy my kidneys. (Hopefully they're still intact.)

 

FORTUNATELY I have at least decent insurance with a fair maximum out-of-pocket. I've scheduled the first surgery for August 8th, and my son kindly is spending vacation time to come and take care of me. I am told that the "minimally invasive" surgery will make recovery much quicker, and I'm sticking to that story. I hope to have the other surgery in late September. 

 

So here, an hour later, is the answer about my book. I am planning to have it no later (and hopefully earlier) than November, when I released Immortal. When a story is engaging, as Immortal was for me, the writing goes very well. Forever is going well.

 

Thanks for your concern about me and most of all for reading my books. It truly means the world to me. I hope that Forever will be worth the wait.

 

(By the way - although Forever concludes the love stories of the Miller sisters, I do hope to progress the story of The Trelawneys of Williamsburg into the 20th century. As long as people keep reading, I'll keep writing. And who knows - maybe more people will discover the series and I'll be able to spend all my time engaged in whimsy rather than scrum meetings.)

 

One last mysterious teaser to reward those who are still reading this: What would I miss most about this time, were I to leave for the 18th century permanently? Music. I would miss easy access to all the world's music (with just a bit of very affordable technology). It's a privilege we take for granted today, which at least one of the characters in Forever appreciates.

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