“Where’s the next book?” you ask. Let me explain… Most of you who visit this page, or any author’s page, know them as a writer. You probably imagine us sitting at our keyboards for twelve hours a day with a glazed look in our eyes, tapping, tapping, tapping, and alternately staring out the window.
Mmm, yeah, that’s not me. I have to DO things. I need to move around physically, set goals, start and finish projects, talk to real people. Living life gives me something to write about.
I usually have several irons in the fire. Most of the time, it’s manageable. Sometimes, it explodes like an overstuffed piñata and one of those hard candy suckers jabs you in the eye with a clear message: “Slow down!”
I was supposed to have had the next Faderville Novel out by now and been partway through another Sam McNamee Mystery. Confession: I’m behind. Waaay behind. To my readers – I’m sorry. I truly am. I let my Bucket List get in the way.
Last fall I ran the Columbus Marathon in 3:56:56. My time, for my age group, qualified me to run the Boston Marathon in 2017. That was a big thing on my Bucket List and one I felt immensely proud of. Here’s the catch: running a qualifying time is no guarantee of entry. So many people apply to enter Boston every year, that they’ve had to limit entries and the cut-off the last few years has been as much as two-and-a-half minutes under those times. Which made me kind of nervous. So I figured what the heck, I’d just train more seriously and run another marathon. Faster. That meant making running a priority. Which meant other things got pushed aside.
After six months of training, on the day of the Cleveland Marathon, in MAY, the temperatures were in the 30s. The wind was gusting at 25 mph. And … it was sleeting. Not a gentle, misty sleet, but a driving sleet, bordering on hail, that stabs you in the face and makes you mumble out loud, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.” But hey, several other runners said the same thing during those 26.2 miles. I wasn’t the only whiner in the masses. I’d also been nursing a foot injury. While it didn’t bother me during the race, it did hamper my training. Needless to say, I didn’t set a new PR (personal record). Not the outcome I wanted, but you can bet that a sleet storm will end up in a book at some point.
While running 50+ miles a week, my husband and I decided it would be a good time to remodel the kitchen. Ourselves. My advice to others thinking of doing the same thing: Don’t. We saved a lot of money and the kitchen turned out beautiful and is definitely one-of-a-kind, but it was also the most stressful thing I’ve done in years. Being slightly OCD, having huge boxes scattered throughout the house, having to constantly make decisions (which drawer pulls, which tiles, which paint color…), and never knowing where to find the kitchen utensils was very anxiety-inducing. I just wanted it over with, but the project stretched from December through the end of April. Sam McNamee will be doing some home improvements, I can guarantee you.
As if that wasn’t enough going on, in the middle of it all our beloved dog Arrow suddenly started yelping in pain if you touched anywhere near her head. We were perplexed. We couldn’t pinpoint the source of her discomfort. Maybe it was a cervical misalignment, a bad shoulder, an ear infection? Multiple trips to the vet gave no answer. This went on for almost three weeks. And then she began to run a low-grade fever intermittently. But more concerning was the fact that her eyesight was compromised. Another trip to the local vet, one to the emergency clinic that night, again to the local vet, and then we did the first of many hour drives to Ohio State. Several antibiotics, X-rays, multiple blood panels, a spinal tap, and an MRI later revealed that she had Meningioencephalitis. In laymen’s terms, an infection had spread to her brain where a pocket of inflammation was pressing on her optic nerve.
By that point, she was completely blind. Despite treatment with corticosteroids, her sight never returned. Thankfully, she didn’t suffer any other neurological effects and is otherwise healthy, but her days of sailing over agility jumps, zipping through weave poles, and shining in the obedience ring are over with. She still loves walks, still carries her toys, but she doesn’t play with the other dogs like she used to. She can’t. She still gets excited when we come home, still gives hugs, and is still the Fun Police when the other dogs get rowdy. She may not see us anymore, but she sees with her heart.
I lost count of how many times we took Arrow to the vet. I don’t want to think of how much it cost. I’ve stopped beating myself up for not being more assertive about her treatment. But I don’t for a second regret all that we did do for her. We still have her. That’s enough. And if it meant my next book not getting out sooner, I would still pay that price a hundred times over.
Through all the craziness, there has been a bright spot. Her name is Snap. A new puppy we flew up from Texas. She’s a firecracker. She’s naughty. She LOVES everybody – and she’s sure that everybody loves her.
The kitchen is done, the marathon’s over with, Arrow is still with us, the new puppy is getting trained … and amazingly, the next book, Say Something, is two-thirds the way done. Still, I need to slow down. I’ve been telling myself that for years.