Tag Archives: Ankylosing spondylitis

Sunshine!!

It’s finally here, and will hopefully stick around for a bit. It’s amazing how warmer weather can instantly boost your mood, and persuade you to sit on the patio with friends and talk the day away – with a nice cold glass of something grown-up of course! Not only this, but getting into the great outdoors is also much more enjoyable. Even if it isn’t clear blue and sunny, we can still enjoy t-shirt trekking through a forest, while the dog stops at every tree, and the kids take the more difficult route so they can clamber over rocks and logs. There is only one real downside to this enjoyable pastime… BUGS! Luckily for me, poor circulation means I’m not worth the effort. My elder son, on the other hand, is the warmest person on the planet, therefore providing a fine old feast for starving critters. The poor thing has been dropped off at school with a tube of Afterbite. Of course, this does not deter him, or us, from enjoying these mini adventures, and it’s the only time the dog gets excited about walking.

Unfortunately, though, I pay the price. An 11 km hike, that had quite a lot of steep up and down, has both mental and physical benefits for somebody like me. However, various parts of my body are now seriously protesting about its increased level of activity. I had only just recovered from the Aquafit class I took the week before. Apparently that was supposed to be good for me, but when I didn’t sleep that night because I was so uncomfortable and in pain, it can’t be good. Not only that, I had never felt so out of place in all my life. Even though I lowered the average age by about 30 years, all the older people were able to move far better than me. I’m not one to get hung up on what I must have looked like, it’s my business why I’m choosing that form of exercise, but on this occasion I felt out of place and very unfit.

This is why I’d just like to stick to walking my girl. The pain and humiliation I felt, to please the all the people who think they know what’s best for my body, just wasn’t worth it. Maybe I was too ambitious? Maybe I shouldn’t have done the full hour? Maybe I should have started with something less energetic? Doesn’t matter now; it’s still put me off. Instead, I have signed up for some one-on-one pilates. so watch this space…

Until then I shall continue to power walk and worship the sunny weather! And plan some more hiking…

The cab of shame…

Why is it that when we’re already emotionally challenged, something else happens and even as an independent, confident adult, we appear unable to think or deal with the crisis on our own?

I am one of those people who hate being late, and rarely break the rules, especially when it comes to appointments and parking. So you can just imagine how dangerously high my stress levels were when I was still trying to find a parking space 5 minutes after my appointment had started. This was a first meeting, so not the greatest way to start a new relationship with a person whom you’re hoping is going to help you deal with your daily stresses in life because of a chronic illness. Now, I’m sure someone put up the sign I didn’t see while I was actually in my appointment. Either that, or a bird or a cloud, or something was blocking it when I did actually park. Needless to say I emerged from my appointment almost 2 hours later to find Mercury – my beloved MINI convertible – GONE!!

As I stood there, starring at the empty space, presumably expecting my car to somehow miraculously reappear, my emotions, already slightly fragile (NB British Understatement) from the appointment, got the better of me and I was suddenly unable to think or do anything for myself. What did I do? Call the husband of course, who was smack-bang in the middle of the operating room, patient on the table, room full of people… and now a blubbering wife in absolute tatters on the other end of the phone. Instinct told me that I had been towed before I saw the sign – you know, the one that they put up while I was in my appointment. The calming and familiar voice of hubby talked me through the steps I needed to take, because remember I was unable to think for myself now, and I finally managed to call the tow company. I couldn’t even give them the correct license plate, but at least I could remember the numbers, just not in the right order. Thank the Lord!! Mercury was safely in the pound, but I now had to go to the pound…

Another phone call to hubby, among the beeping of machines and the voices of busy healthcare professionals. “Excuse me, I know you’re straightening someone’s spine, but I’ve been towed; this is far more important right now”. I was instructed to get in a cab. Luckily for me I was right next to the city’s general hospital, so cabs were ten a penny. I peered into the open passenger side window and quietly muttered the address. A loud Caribbean accent hit back at me. ‘Oh! You been towed?’ Honestly, the shame! He turned out to be really friendly and chatty, as I sat in the back, traumatised. He refused a tip, told me exactly where I had to go, and what I would need to do. I didn’t question how he’d become so knowledgeable in this matter. I sheepishly slid up to the empty window and begin the process of retrieving Mercury, practically offering my right kidney when asked for a method of payment, anything, take anything I just want my car back! At least it was warm and sunny when I finally fired up the engine. I rolled the top down and… oh no, I had to stop at two gates to get out, should have left the roof up! I put my head down instead, in the hope I wouldn’t be caught on camera for my picture to be plastered all over the city. I could almost see the caption: ‘Romance Novelist Busted for Abandoning Her Car Illegally!!’

Back on the blog!

I know it’s been a while, sorry but life and severe lack of sleep has left me barely functioning over the past couple of months. I don’t have a lot of reserve normally, but when I watch the clock all night it’s difficult to get through a normal day of life without adding any extra pressure to it. However, I have managed to keep my 2015 challenges going, with only a couple of days written retrospectively. I’m currently on day 83; that’s 83 quotes, both funny and serious, and 78 journal entries, about all sorts of annotations and personal paraphernalia that I need empty out of my head. I find that if I don’t write down these thoughts and musings, something else will come along and push them right out of my head forever. Often I haven’t known until the end of the day what I will write about. One day I couldn’t think of anything constructive so I wrote about salad! As for the quotes, well I have thousands of those things. I’m afraid I cheat a little when posting them by scheduling them via Hootsuite. Life is just too busy to be dropping everything to pick up ‘Thelma’ and get all philosophical, while juggling homework and vegetables.

So why am I not sleeping?

Well, chronic disease and pain is playing a large part in my insomnia. I have found myself caught in one of these vicious circles that’s difficult to break unless something changes within the cycle. Lack of exercise due to pain and discomfort… unable to get comfortable in bed… tired from everyday life, but not enough physical activity… unable to sleep… gradually coping mechanisms become more and more fragile… more pain and discomfort, less likely to exercise… and so it goes on until finally enough is enough. Yes I have meltdowns, yes I am a ratty old cow, yes I am a raging lunatic when the kids don’t listen to me… yes I am human and sometimes even the strongest people just need someone to give them a hug and tell them that it’s all going to be all right.

Thankfully I have a fantastic rheumatologist who totally understands my plight. I don’t like resorting to pills, I take enough of those as it is, but I guess it is something you just have to learn to accept when you’re in my position. I hate sleeping tablets, they make me feel fuzzy and slow, but a natural remedy such as melatonin has at least given me some more natural sleep. It’s not perfect, I still lay awake for 2 hours a couple of nights ago, but since then I found myself sleeping in – good job its spring break. Hopefully this ‘catch up’ phase will be short lived and by the time I have to drag my sorry backside out of bed even earlier than usual for the school run to do my share of ‘traffic duty’, I will feel and look a little more like me. As for the exercise part, I used to love pilates and swimming. I have agreed to give both another shot, even if it means only doing 1 length of the pool when I was used to doing 1 mile! I know initially I will suffer, but hopefully in time that benefits will outweigh the problems.

I will not be beaten… I will not let it win… it can do whatever it likes on the inside, but letting it show on the outside means it’s won.

You can follow my 365 Challenge on Twitter and Facebook, and check out my 5 star reviews for Bruises on Amazon and Goodreads.

Sleep!

When you survive on very little of the stuff normally it can be tough, but I have had one full night (Sunday) in I don’t know how long, and that was only thanks to half a sleeping pill. It didn’t help that, after the grandparents left early last week, we shot up to Whistler to take advantage of the fact our kids were not back to school until this week. Honestly, how is it you can pay for a good education but they spend less time there? Friends kindly let us use their lovely townhouse, so we had a comfortable base but – sadly for me – not a comfortable bed. I had already made the decision not to even consider skiing until the weekend, but my go-getter boys blasted around the mountain with ski school for three days while my husband disappeared off into the backcountry – always a worry, even though I used to do it myself BC (before children).

What did I do with my time? Well, every morning my girl and I had a very Baltic dog walk, but thanks to good gear and little hotties (disposable handwarmers in case you think I hooked up with a member of Thunder from Down Under; sadly not!), I was snuggly. The rest of my days were filled with crafting. I don’t often get the opportunity to spend all day sticking bits of paper together and tarting them up with expensive ink to turn them into cards. This project was Thank You cards for all the kids who attended the boys’ birthday party. I know they will be looked at and admired for all of 4 seconds and binned, but this is just something I love doing and, being a bit OCD, I have to do it right. I also kept up my 2015 challenges, and played with my new iPad mini – thanks hubby! The evenings might have involved drinking wine, but you guessed that already, right? And reading. Again, I don’t often just sit in the evening and read. I should, but I don’t, so I did!

Icy snow conditions and major fatigue made the decision for me not to ski at all, and the backcountry had broken hubby anyway. However, the conditions did not stop my 8 year old; he broke his teacher on the second day. Leaving him for dead at the top of the glacier. Poor guy didn’t look fit for a haircut when I signed out my very proud son, who looked like he’d spent the day just cruising down green runs. It didn’t stop there – tubing and some very extreme sledding at the weekend left me with my heart in my mouth several times, and I was just watching them. We then returned to the real world and a busy day before back to school. I was very proud to take my generous children to our local children’s hospital, where they presented the Foundation with $200 of their birthday money. I then spent the evening in the MRI scanner having full neck to pelvis images, and had to be helped off the VERY hard bed like an old crumbly – awkward! Thanks to that, I enjoyed another night of not very restful sleep…

A new year… a new challenge.

Once again time has run away with me and suddenly it’s 2015! Since my last post the grandparents arrived from the UK; we have hosted a drinks party (attended by almost more children than adults, who proceeded to turn my living room into a movie theatre, where the popcorn machine had a nervous breakdown!); enjoyed a family treat to the ballet to see a seasonal tradition, The Nutcracker, which had both boys attempting to walk on their toes and pirouette for the following couple of days. Santa then brought MORE Lego, which neither child would let me help build, so I sulked in my craft room building my new ink caddy, which took all of five minutes then two hours to arrange the inks in colour families and make sure all the labels pointed the right way. I cooked the most enormous bird to perfection and enjoyed eating my own body weight in Christmas pud because I could, having made it flourless. Drank lots of wine and wore stretchy leggings to accommodate pudding.

There has been lots of sleeping in, due to very little nocturnal snoozing, sadly not for the reasons you might think, but my arthritis picked a very inconvenient time to flare up. After finally resorting to prescription sleeping pills just to stop the clock- watching, my physio then treated me with five thousand needles, which caused copious amounts of screaming. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t had the bright idea to host a joint Harry Potter birthday party for the boys between Christmas and New Year. It was the ultimate crafting challenge for Steph and I. We have spent the last two months making… paper wands, felt ties, Quidditch Pong, floating candles, a ‘Have You Seen This Wizard’ photo frame, Pin the Beak on Hedwig, HP Bingo, Pass the Howler, party bags containing Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans and Golden Snitches, and a very cool brick wall made by painting a $5 sheet to create platform 9¾! We sorted 27 kids into the four houses and dressed as wizards and witches – I copped for Hufflepuff so, yes, I was Professor Sprout. We played games, earned house points and – according to the emails I received the following day – threw the birthday party of the year. We were knackered but we all had a lot of fun and my boys have kindly donated $200 of birthday money to the British Columbia Children’s Hospital – their choice entirely.

So, here I am beginning a new year, not sad to see the back of 2014, despite it ending on a high. It began in a dark place, a place I never thought I would visit, and hope never to visit again. From somewhere deep inside I found an inner strength that I never knew I had. It helped me pick myself, and move forward. I sometimes looked back, but as that dark hole got smaller and smaller I found I could face things that many would shy away from. And among all of that I achieved something I thought was unachievable… Bruises. What now? On January 1st I began 365 days of writing. Everyday I will write in my journal: thoughts, feelings, life events, and just whatever I need to empty out of my head. I also love quotes, and Santa was kind enough to pop a quote journal in my stocking, so I also plan to record a new quote everyday.

A new year with new challenges.

Music & Lyrics

We all hum the tune, we all sing along to the words, but how many of us really listen to the lyrics? It depends on my mood; when I’m in a good mood I just hear the music, but when I’m not feeling so great, for whatever reason, the lyrics become more significant somehow. It doesn’t seem to matter what the genre or artist, whether it’s something I listen to often or infrequently, I can always place some meaning on the words that seem to capture my innermost feelings at that given time. I think I have a wide taste in music, but I can hear my husband laughing and rolling his eyes at this statement! I think he’s the one that needs to branch out and get something decent to listen to. There is however, one band that we both enjoy, and have seen live several times, and that’s Train.

I got my dog a couple of years ago, a decision that wasn’t taken lightly because of the commitment animals require, and our boys were still very young. I wasn’t in a good place at that time, temporarily off medication and turning into a bit of a cripple. Despite what many people think when they see me, I don’t/can’t exercise any more like I used to. Yes, that’s right, I’m the bitch you all hate because I do nothing to maintain my size 0-2 figure! Walking is the only way I can continue some sort of low impact activity. This influenced our decision greatly, and my 40th birthday gift was an adorable Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier named Tess.

Every morning, rain hail or shine, we walk. Armed with the obligatory wad of poop bags, treats and sticks, I plug myself into whatever takes my fancy and off we go. We walk locally, exploring parks, along the beach, and around the seawall while the music puts a bounce in my step and the lyrics capture my imagination. There is, however, one minor problem with this arrangement… I appear to own the only terrier in the world that doesn’t like walking! Honestly, I know this is hard to believe, but until recently she used to hide under the table when I reached for her leash. The mere mention of the word ‘walk’ would send most dogs into an excited frenzy – not Tess! She refuses to come out of her crate, peering at me through the side window hoping I will take pity on her incredible cuteness – NOT going to wash with me, dog, we’re walking!!

It was while out walking my girl that Frankie and Jack’s story evolved out of nowhere. I was having a major Train blitz of all of their albums that I would just shuffle; I like the surprise of not knowing what is coming next. Over time their excellent song writing began to fit with my story, it was like some of the lyrics had been written for my book, but more likely that my book evolved because of their lyrics. I decided to somehow incorporate the band and their music into the story, and the ‘Train game’ was born. I made both my characters Train fans and used random lyrics that fitted in with parts of the story, in their dialogue. The other character would then have to guess the title track, album, track number and year with consequences if they got it wrong – something fun and usually naughty of course. Ever wondered where I got the title of the book? Bruises is one of my favourite Train songs from their California 37 album in 2012 (track 3 & a duet sung with Ashley Monroe, just to prove myself!). It has started a bit of a trend with me and book titles: I have given all three of my novels song titles. Music and lyrics will always be very influential in my writing, and maybe one day I’ll have All I wanted

Bruises is available from FriesenPress, Amazon, and other major online bookstores.

Result!!

Result!

Result!

Where do you get your hair done? I’m always being asked. The truth… a training school!

Yes that’s right, students cut & colour my hair, and have done for over five years now. People very often don’t believe me, I would never go anywhere else – Future Hair Training School on Broadway @ Cambie, never once have I left disappointed (apart from the odd really bad blow dry but they all have to learn). So, when I turned up for the full monty today they were really excited to see the book. As you can see they did an awesome job once again with my slightly vibrant request in colour, and a new shorter do was also done to perfection – as always.

The highlight of the whole experience – I sold two books. They made me feel like a local celebrity by requesting a signing too – hehe! I now have happy hair and readers too… Result!!

You can get your copy from FriesenPress, Amazon and other major online bookstores.

And so it begins…

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I decided to get Thanksgiving over with before I jumped on the promotional bandwagon, and here I am. The coffee shop in which I wrote most of Bruises is the first place that has offered to promote me. The owner has been very accommodating and keen to help promote me in anyway he can, though I’m not sure he really knows what my book is about… probably best not to enlighten him. After several attempts at an author poster – without the help of hubby, so I’m quite proud, actually – I still ended up resorting to my craft supplies. I would welcome readers’ thoughts on it – good or bad?! Anyway, this little display now has pride of place in the coffee shop, right next to the milk & napkins etc. It’s at eye level (well, my eye level, so chest level really) and also happens to be beside the area where the punters wait for their beverages. Only a few minutes after it went on display, I spotted a woman reading the back, and then a dirty old man began fingering it after he studied my picture then glanced across at me sat in the corner, where I promptly tried to make myself even smaller.

The great thing about this gig is that once again I get to hang out here regularly and enjoy some very good overpriced coffee. It is, thankfully, proving to be a more positive promotional experience than the one in the independent bookstore on the next block. I randomly called in after a brutal physio session (in which, despite turning up with a lovely signed hardback copy for my tormentor, I was still attacked with a gazillion needles – I actually thought I was in pretty good shape that day too, having had no painkillers for two days – clearly I was wrong!) Hoping I didn’t look as bad as I felt, I presented myself to the ‘lady’ at the counter in this tiny bookstore. There were one or two people milling around shelves as I launched into my speech… ‘self-published author… consider consignment…’ etc. etc. The assistant, who was significantly taller than me (not difficult, despite my wedges) looked down on me like I was something the cat had dragged in. It took me nearly all of my ‘cheeky free’ 20 minutes on my parking meter to extract the owner’s business card from her, as it was clearly more than her job’s worth to give it up. There was once a time when I would have cowered and left, but not now. Now, I believe in myself, and I believe in my book, and I will succeed because I’m crazy and have enough confidence now to think I can.

‘So it’s explicit?’ she said with slight tone of disgust.

‘No, it’s tasteful but smouldering.’ I had to stop my inside voice from adding, ‘read it lady, you might learn something!’

Sadly, the owner still hasn’t emailed me back, but I’m not seeing this as a setback; if anything, it’s her loss not mine. I’ll just move onto my next port of call… which just happens to be our local kids’ bookstore. They have a small adult section that features various genres. Appropriate? I don’t see why not. I’ve seen many mums (& dads) let their kids loose in that place to peruse the shelves alone; it’s the perfect situation for mum to find a little something too!

You can get your copy of Bruises direct from my publisher, from Amazon and other major online bookstores.

Social media thingy management

Keep a constant social media presence, the article said… you must tweet approximately 3 times a day… you must blog at least once a week… you must do this and you must do that… have a word with myself is what I must do, it’s exhausting!

I would appear to have all the right social mediary things, according to my several Google searches, but I’m not sure I really know what I’m doing with them to be honest. I think I’m ok with this Blog thing, but I’ve been doing that for a while now. Maybe not – you tell me? I’ve had a personal Facebook profile for years, so having a separate Author profile is fine, but I also now have a page for Bruises – so, if you’re keeping count, that’s 3 Facebook thingys to maintain, as well as the Blog; 4 thingys in total!

Then there’s Twitter (so now that’s 5 thingys), which I still don’t really understand but it sounds quite impressive that I ‘tweeted’ this or I ‘retweeted’ that. No idea if what I post is playing the right game or not with all the hashtags – often I just see what other people put and shamelessly copy, which seems to work. People abbreviate things I don’t get, so I then have to sheepishly ask my husband, who usually rolls his eyes in utter despair at my blondeness and tells me something that is SO obvious now he’s said it. Just because I can write a novel or three doesn’t mean I understand technoacronyms, does it?!

So here I am, doing my best to put myself out there, and occasionally somebody takes notice and Likes, or Follows, or posts something back. I’ve even been Re-tweeted a couple of times. However, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that actually writing the book, and publishing it for that matter, were the easy bits, all the other thingys you have to do afterwards – if you want it to do well of course – is the really hard bit. I just need to keep calm and carry on thingy management!

You can get your copy of Bruises direct from my publisher, from Amazon and other major online bookstores.

MAJOR RANT ALERT!!

Can you believe that a friend of mine received her hardcover version of my book in the mail last week? No! Me neither! Obviously spending 18 months of my life writing, editing, finding a publisher, editing, negotiating with publishers, editing, editing and more editing, does not make me worthy enough to be the first to receive a copy. My friend’s husband said – during my FaceBook tantrum – that it’s not like I don’t know what happens at the end – not the point! As you can see by the pic, it looks quite good, but then I would say that because I honestly never thought it was possible to turn it into a real book. So, not only am I a little ticked off about this, I then discover that those naughty people at Amazon are screwing around with my prices and charging insane amounts of money here in Canada, and particularly in the UK. The novel is set in the UK; it is going to hopefully be a big market for me, not to mention it being my motherland. Who do they think they are? Don’t they have enough money? I would like to publish the sequel, people, at least let me make something out of this one!

Ok – rant over!

On a more positive note, I was quite excited to read the one and only review that someone kindly posted on Amazon.ca. She gave it 5 stars…. 5 STARS!! Apparently she ‘couldn’t put it down’ and ‘didn’t want it to end. It was funny and sweet, and definitely a little steamy’. She fell in love with my characters, Frankie and Jack, and she can’t wait to find out what happens next! A big fat YAY to me! Only one review but hey, an author has to start somewhere.

So what are you all waiting for… get your copy now and tell me what you think.

photo copy

Go on… I know you’re dying to read it!