I Write

Continuing with my theme of things I am thankful for, I want to talk about writing.

I realized today, as I was contemplating what I am thankful for this year, that I am thankful for the gift of words.

It’s not something I consciously think about much, because I have literally been writing my entire life. But it is a true gift, and I am thankful for it.

I’ve always said that I wanted to touch people with my words, be it poetry or novels. And I have, because people have told me.

When I was a member of Job’s Daughters, the youth group I was involved in from the time I was fifteen until I was twenty, I was promoted to the state chapter, which was a great honor. My job was to be a pen pal to the girls in Missouri (this was before the Internet. Wow, I am really showing my age!). So we wrote back and forth and sent each other stuff. For the big State convention, there was a contest to see who had the best depiction of their assigned state (and an essay). I made a cool map of Missouri and made it into a collage with all the stuff I got over the course of the year. And I wrote an awesome essay.

Well, I won. And was asked to stand up in front of hundreds of people and read it.

Apparently, I made some people cry. I had touched them that much.

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So how’s the job search going?

…Yeah.

It kind of isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I am applying for as many jobs as I can. But I don’t drive due to medical reasons (basically? Screwed up eye muscles) and I have to take the bus, which only serves my hometown. (This is a special program, doorstep to doorstep, that costs a dollar a ride. And the drivers are so cool). So that brings down the list of possible places considerably. Then there’s the fact that I literally learned nothing new at my former job — as far as technology goes, anyway — so I’m finding job postings with stuff like, “Must be an expert in Excel” or “Must be a Mac user” or “Must be able to do PowerPoint presentations.” All of this except for the Mac I can do theoretically. But I don’t feel very confident about it, so I tend to skip those postings.

So I’m left with stuff that isn’t even remotely in my field. I have no problem with that, if I can’t find anything else. But I would really like to stay within my field.

Then there’s the freelance stuff, which is going okay. It’s still not steady enough, but I have every confidence that I can make it happen. And if not…well, I tried. I can continue to try even if I do get a day job. It might be hairy, and busy, but it’s not like I haven’t done that before.

It’s scary. I mean, we’re used to a certain amount of …

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Starting a New Chapter in My Life

So, as you may or may not know, I was recently laid off from the job I’ve held for sixteen years. I was the Sales Secretary at a food brokerage, working with food distributors and vendors. It was a good job, and I was pretty damn good at it.

I’d had some inkling that it was coming, so I wasn’t completely blindsided. However, I didn’t know when and that added a whole new level of stress and complication to the mix. And, as time ticked down, the stress got worse and worse. So, as sad as I am to not be working there anymore, I am happy to be free of the stress, which wasn’t good for the fibro or trigeminal neuralgia.

I do want to say one thing, though. That place was like family to me. We had our rough patches, and disagreements, but at the end of the day, I was treated very well. And we were like a little family, the six of us. They had my back and I had theirs. Two of my former co-workers passed away, and both were good, decent people. One former co-worker retired. So at the very end, it was just me and my bosses.

I will miss them. It hasn’t been that long, and I already miss going there every day. Taking the bus. The vendor reps and buyers I worked with on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, I can’t believe that it’s over. But…things always change. My bosses were of retirement …

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Trigeminal Neuralgia: 26 years

So if you’re been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have been battling trigeminal neuralgia (an excruciatingly painful inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, which supplies sensation to the face) for about four years. It went undiagnosed for almost three. The medication I take to control it stopped working around May, and my dose was increased. It did not help at all. So I’m pretty much back to constant pain again which frankly sucks.

Four years.

Very recently, I made a startling discovery.  I have been battling it for longer.

Twenty-six years.

Let me explain.

I had major jaw surgery to correct severe TMJ when I was fifteen—a nine-hour surgery where my oral/maxillofacial surgeon broke my jaws apart and realigned them, rearranged my face the way it’s supposed to be, and wired my jaws together for two months. As I’ve learned, surgeries like this—as well as routine dental work—can cause TN.

I had 28 pieces of hardware after the surgery. They took a “if it doesn’t hurt, don’t do anything” policy because taking them out would be another big surgery. They didn’t bother me, for the most part, for eleven years. Then, I started getting infections and rejections. So out they came. Oddly enough, most of the right side is still intact while the left is almost completely gone.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I keep asking myself (and anyone else who would listen) why it stayed dormant for over twenty years and then popped up. Now I know …

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Every Word is a Win

Since releasing Ever Touched, I’ve been at loose ends. Sure, I have a few books in the hopper, and editing jobs (shameless plug: anyone need an editor? My rates are reasonable and I am crazy meticulous!) and the day job but….my brain has been fried. Releasing a book takes so much out of me. It’s awesome, and fun, but it’s also a lot of work. And I learned that after releasing Fey Touched in 2012 – I had rewritten the entire second half in 2 weeks (~60k), my wrists were shot, and my brain was mush. I didn’t write a word of fiction for 2 months. Sure, I felt the urge, but that was it. I couldn’t contemplate it. My brain just did one of these every time I thought about it: huh? Whatcha talking about, Willis?

Yeah. So I accepted that I needed the break. That was…tough.

Now that I’ve done it three times, I know the pattern. I have actually been writing, but nothing fixed and definitely not thousands of words (well, fiction-wise. I have a nonfiction book I’m writing that’s 15k in. I guess my brain feels nonfiction isn’t so taxing?). It’s a miracle if I even write anything these days.

I have some stress going on. Some of it I can’t talk about yet, and some of it is the trigeminal neuralgia. And…other things. Not fun things. So I’m sure that enters into the equation.

But then Camp NaNoWriMo started July 1st, and a writer friend of mine in …

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Sun Touched

Sun Touched
by Erin Zarro
A free serial story in the Fey Touched universe

 

DAY ONE

I was awakened by my cell door being unlocked. I blinked, trying to remember where I was and what was happening.

Oh, right. I was being held prisoner by rogues who thought I could heal one –

And speaking of him, I watched as he came into my cell. He then closed and locked the cell door.

I blinked again. “What’re you doing here?” I shifted uncomfortably, my muscles sore. My back, where my wings would be if I unfurled them, hurt, too. Probably because I’d fallen asleep in a weird position.

Ry gave me an assessing look. “We’re roommates.”

“I don’t think so.” I tried to stand, but my equilibrium was all wrong. Ry came over and tried to steady me, but I pulled away quickly. “Do not touch me.”

“Okay, if you’d rather fall…” He shrugged. “Just trying to help.”

I eyed the swirling designs on his hands. “I just would rather you not touch me, all right?”

“Because of these?” Ry held up his hands. “They say it’s not contagious.”

“Only to rogues,” I said. “That’s what I heard.”

Ry went to the opposite wall, sat down, and pulled his knees to his chest. “So whatever shall we do?”

I went to the cot, because I was here first, damn it. And I wasn’t about to spend the night on the floor. I sat …

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Trigeminal Neuralgia: Two-Year Update

This is eerie, you guys. I posted my one-year update on June 21st of last year. And, like I said in that post, it was technically my eleven-month update, but one-year update sounded better. And kind of final. So this one is technically my one year, eleven month update. Close enough, right?

When I posted that glorious post, I had every reason to believe that while things may get bumpy here and there, I would remain pretty much pain free. I guess it was naive, and a lack of dealing in realism. I’ve always known that TN is a progressive condition and it gets worse over time. Most people end up having some sort of brain surgery done. Scary thing is, it’s not always successful. And that is scary in itself.

I guess I never wanted to truly believe that that would be me someday.

Today I have some crappy news.

My pain has returned to almost constant levels. I hit level 10 several times last week, and took four loopy pills (not all at once. One each day). I’ve been tracking everything since May 15th, in the hopes that I can figure out a pattern of some sort, and if my neurologist wants details. The problem with tracking is that you become so aware of the pain, more than ever.

Here’s a sample of one of my pain journal entries:

Eye pain level 5 at 2:14pm Duration: 2 hrs 45 mins
Left forehead pain level 4 at 4:55pm Duration: …

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Soundtracks of My Life

Have you ever thought about if your life was set to music, what would that music be? Or if your life had a theme song?

I feel kinda unhinged talking about it, but things for me personally have been a bit weird lately, and I got thinking about it today. What songs would I choose and why?

Theme song: War of Change by Thousand Foot Krutch. My Google-fu says this band is a Christian band, but you wouldn’t know it. They’re hard rock, and this song impressed me so much that I went and bought the entire album. These lyrics specifically speak to me:

Wait, it’s just about break/ it’s more than I can take/ everything’s about to change
I feel it in my veins / it’s not going away / everything’s about to change

(I love this video because of all the b&w. But I’m not sure what they’re doing with all the dust and light bulbs.)

Adam Lambert’s “Ghost Town” deserves a mention. He’s said that the meaning behind the song (for him, at least) is “Life sucks. Let’s dance!” and if you watch the video, there’s a ton of dancing. (I love all things dance). And kudos to him for more b&w!

This next one has a special place in my heart. It’s from Queensryche’s first album with their new singer, Todd La Torre, and probably my favorite song off it. It’s called “In This Light.” (This is a live video, as there is …

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Revisiting Voice Recognition

As I prepare for Ever Touched’s release and what comes after (hint: a lot!), I’m pondering using voice recognition software to write again.

(Some of Ever Touched was written using Dragon Naturally Speaking when I found myself with a severe tendonitis flare up and no time to take off.)

I’m no stranger to Dragon. I started using it back in 2003 (version 6) when I thought I had carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomics wasn’t much of a thing back then; I wrote until my wrists damn near fell off. Oops? And it worked well — after I got past the whole “talk to write” idea and got into a groove. My intention was to do it all the time, but between the bulky headset that gave me headaches and a longing to just type, I ended up quitting, only using it when absolutely necessary. Which is fine…if I didn’t want to get more books out there which means faster drafting. Fast drafting (say, more than 1,000 words a day) is impossible due to my wrists. I barely finished my amended Nano goal in 2015 (30k) because typing 1,000 words a day for 30 days was hurting me (it’s cumulative).

(For the curious: I didn’t have carpal tunnel, just severe tendonitis that could turn into carpal tunnel. It was a wake up call. And I’m up to Dragon version 13 now. Every version gets better. They claim now it is something like 96% accurate without training.)

I’ve despaired forever over this. And I …

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A Sneak Peek of Ever Touched

Hi, guys! Erin here. Here is a sneak peek of Ever Touched, book #3 in my Fey Touched series, which will be released on May 1st. This part is from early in the book. Enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for an announcement of its release (that’s like, 30 days from now! Holy cow!).

“What do you see? What do you see?”

Charles was experimenting again, which meant more serum.

More predictions.

More abuse.

The light was too dim and my eyes kept wanting to close. Charles had been slapping me to wake me up.

I hadn’t slept in a while. In fact, it was quite possible I’d not slept for at least twenty-four hours. My sense of time was completely skewed. It felt like night, but I supposed it could be morning.

Or something.

I kept talking.

Every so often I caught sight of a person in the shadows. He never came forward, never helped or hurt me. He just stood there, observing, making notes.

He unnerved me.

“Another injection. Up it by fifty,” Charles said, and I jolted with the pain of it. No one was ever gentle. “It’s not clear enough.” He glanced at me. “Hang on. The ride’s about to get really bumpy…”

And bumpy it was. Images flashed in my mind’s eye like flashes of a camera: a man with black wings. A woman in armor and…wings made of…light? They were talking. She looked transparent underneath the armor. I relayed all of this to Charles, who …

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