Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This Pain in My Knee is a Pain in the Ass

Just got back from the doctor, and the x-rays were fucking normal. The verdict: Patellofemural Pain Syndrome.


Why do I say "ugh"? Because it means they can't fix it with surgery, won't go in with a scope to see what's under the kneecap, won't spring for more effective imaging than an x-ray, and pretty much the only treatments available are the ones I've already been using with less than spectacular results. Those treatments--taking painkillers, walking to relieve the discomfort, and applying ice--are either inconvenient or of questionable effectiveness.

How much does it hurt? Well, speaking as someone who has given birth to an 11+ lb baby the natural way, this latest flare-up--at its worst--hurt as much as early to mid-stage labor. Only you don't get that couple of minutes between each wave of pain--it just hurts all. The. Time. And it isn't dull or throbbing, either. It's like someone is jamming a knife under your kneecap.

All. The. Time.

The swelling is disturbing. The heat of the inflamed tissues, even immediately after you take the ice pack off, is alarming. Advil (even twice the maximum recommended dose) does not touch this pain. Codeine is its bitch. The only things that have worked for me is walking, and ice. Unfortunately, I can't even use this as an excuse to take time off work--being a waitress means my job is like physiotherapy.

Not being somnambulatory, I am left with one option at night. Every three hours or so, my knee wakes me up to let me know my ice pack needs changing. The walk to the freezer is a welcome relief, and by the time I return to bed, I can usually almost stand it. Sometimes, I need to walk circles in the living room for five or ten minutes before I can lie back down.

Of course, this flare-up could not have happened at a worse time. Sitting hurts. Driving is excruciating. Driving six hours so I could sit through my cousin's wedding ceremony and reception dinner was agony, even with an inexhaustible supply of ice from a cute bartender at the reception, and enough codeine to drop a bull elephant. In spite of all that, I managed to have a wonderful time. My cousin was handsome and charming, his bride beautiful and gracious. The ceremony was short and sweet, the venue stunning, the weather glorious, the food delectable and--most importantly--the bar open. Wild horses stamping violently on my bad knee couldn't have dragged me away.

That was more than a week ago. The pain and swelling have mostly subsided now, but the doctor gave me a prescription for naproxen sodium to take the next time it acts up. Of course, after looking at the list of side-effects in the product monograph, ice is looking better all the time. Generally, ice doesn't give you intestinal bleeding, heart attack or stroke.

But ask me again during the next flare-up. I'm notoriously fickle when I'm in agony.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So Far, So Good

So the hordes--I mean relatives--have been here for a few days, and with the exception of a few minor fiascos (and one huge one), things have been going *bad pun alert* relatively smoothly. There have been more meals than fights, more laughing than cursing, more good luck than bad, and unbelievably, NO RAIN. The horrifying discovery (two hours from home, enroute to fetch my sister and her kids at the airport) that my van's registration and insurance had expired (possible $700 fine + tow charges and impound fees, yikes!) only delayed us three hours, thanks to an admirably peace-oriented peace officer, the random kindnesses of several strangers, and that rarest of treasures to find on a Sunday afternoon, the helpful, friendly bureaucrat.

My parents have been here since the 10th, my sister V and her kids since Sunday, and my sister M and hers since Monday. I have been having a blast. Yesterday we all went out to a long nature trail that leads to a beach on the west coast of the island. Nothing between us and Japan but water. We roasted hot dogs on sticks and climbed rocks and walked on some seriously weird spongey sand that sinks six inches when you step on it. The kids weathered the death march back to the car with the aplomb of seasoned campaigners--which is to say, they dragged their asses and grumbled, but kept moving until the bitter end. No bears or cougars showed up to spoil our day--although we got to see a teenage black bear and three tiny cubs with their mama by the highway on the way home. Then we all ate a mess of barbequed ribs and wedge potatoes and drank gallons of cheap U-brew wine.

Today fourteen of them turned up for lunch at the restaurant where I work, and made my day exciting for about an hour. Everyone was very well-behaved (even my kids, which is pretty damn unusual, hehe), and I have to say my brother-in-law, even accounting for some pretty blatant nepotism, is one blammo tipper. After I got home, we made homemade pizzas, pigged out, and then went out to the rented cottages to walk along the beach.

My littlest niece, who is two years old and teeny-tiny, has a rare dietary disorder and cannot eat foods containing complex carbohydrates or refined sugars. As a result, she eats lots of fruits and vegetables, and (non sugar-cured) meat. My dog now has a purpose in life: To follow this child everywhere she goes and scavenge the bits of ham, bacon, chicken, beef and pork she leaves in her wake.

So really, everyone seems to be having a wonderful time. Even the dog.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's Up!

For those of you who are paying attention (few and deeply disturbed though you might be), you will have noticed that the cover for my next novel, Healer's Touch, has been approved and is up on Samhain's coming soon page, yay! It is also in its pace of honor, in the right hand margin yonder. ===>

I am really, really pleased with this cover. There were so very many ways the artist could have gotten it unbearably wrong--always the case when one of the characters is not quite human--but Chistine Clavel managed to capture, almost in one pass, the feel of this novel and the look of the characters. She is totally my hero.

So to give you all a hint of what this story is about, I'm going to post an excerpt--not from Healer's Touch, but from Crossing Swords, where Viera and Aru make their first appearance. This is the scene that made it impossible for me not to write their story:


Aru let the candles gutter and the fire burn low. He didn’t need the light, and the cold had no power to touch him. He sat for a long time, trying to summon an image of Zharina’s face, but each time, his wife’s beloved features faded as if in a mist, to be overlaid by those of the whore Viera.

In the eighteen years since his fall, Aru had laid his hands on many Andun—both the injured and the surrogates who were sometimes necessary to heal them. He had never encountered anyone as…ardent as this woman. As open and uncomplicated in her responses. When he’d first placed his palm on her belly, he’d felt a crackling surge of power leap from her flesh and into his, so strong it almost made him afraid. He had done more with that power tonight than he would have thought possible.

And now, he could not banish her from his mind.

As if of its own volition, his hand reached out to hover in the air above her sleeping form. His eyes roamed across her slumbering features—the softly rounded cheek, the full, pink lips, the delicate, intricate shell of her ear. One arm was bent, her head pillowed on it. The other lay on Lianon’s hip as if reaching for comfort. The sheet was pulled taut across Viera’s full breasts, and the growing chill in the room had affected them in predictable fashion. Her nipples thrust up against the linen as if inviting his touch. He resisted, as he must.

Closing his eyes, he tried to focus on something else, but he should have known better. Cut off from physical sight, his inner awareness sharpened, yearning toward her. His hand still hovered inches from her skin, but now his consciousness was descending even closer, skimming over her sleeping form. The fingers of his thought caressed creamy soft skin dotted with freckles and minute imperfections, each one fascinating to the Darjhan. He drew in a deep breath, the scent of her arousal filling his nostrils, even as his spirit reveled in the unique redolence of her soul.

Beneath the clinging blanket of his consciousness, her body began to respond, her heartbeat quickening, her breaths deepening. He sank partway into her and felt her muscles flex and shift around him as she stretched, her chest rise and fall on a sigh. In the air above her, his hand began to tremble.

And then it was grasped.

With a vertiginous feeling of being drawn across a chasm, he returned to himself and opened his eyes.

Viera stared up at him, her eyes wide and vulnerable, his hand cradled between both of hers and held to her breast. He felt suddenly breathless, unable to drag his gaze from the woman’s. Heat poured from her hands into his flesh, and his cock hardened at the sensation. Ruthlessly he willed the erection away. What had he been thinking? To touch her uninvited—even in spirit—was a presumption, an abuse. He was no better than a lecher pinching the bottoms of tavern girls. He tried to think of something to say that might excuse his behavior, but what excuse was there? Weakness and loneliness could not pardon his trespass.

She lifted his hand to her mouth, and his stomach tightened in an agony of self-restraint as she pressed a searing kiss to it. Her face blurred for a moment, then the tears slipped free of his lashes. He kept perfectly still, but for the air that rushed in and out of his lungs.

She took his hand and placed it over her heart. Even through the sheet, the feel of her was unbearably hot. Her eyes closed and she drifted back into dreams, but she did not release her hold on him.

He sat beside her and felt her heart beating evenly beneath his palm. He thought about his wife. Thought about what Lianon had said to him tonight. Thought about what he had become.

He gazed down at the sleeping woman’s face for a long time. Then, ever so carefully, he made himself draw his hand from her grasp.


Oh, swoon. Is it any wonder I fell in love with him?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Everyday Writer I Ain't

You spend any time among authors and you hear a lot of advice on writing. Much of it has to do with the oddly yet aptly monikered habit of BICHOK. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. The belief is that the proper, disciplined, career-oriented writer needs to write every day. Anything less, and you're just a wannabe.

Well, anyone who has been paying attention to my word meters ===> to the right will have noticed they aren't zooming into the stratosphere of late.

Okay, let me clarify. I have been writing plenty, mostly making a pain of myself on other people's blogs and forums, offering my opinion even (perhaps especially, hehe) when I know it might not be appreciated. And I've been doing a little proofing of my WIPs, tweaking sentences and trying to get back in the mood. But to be honest, I don't think I will get back into the required brainspace for writing fiction until after my cousin's wedding on the 20th, when most or all of my invading hordes--I mean, visiting relatives--will head back home.

According to prevailing wisdom, I should live by the code of BICHOK. I should sit in my chair every day and make myself write, even if all I produce is crap. But I just can't make myself do this. It seems like pointless self-flagellation to force out words when I'll likely just end up deleting them anyway. It isn't as if I haven't tried this exercise in futility. But writing scenes that start out as garbage and end up that way, too, can't help but make me doubt my abilities as a writer--and honestly, this business already provides writers with enough reasons to doubt themselves.

Plus, forcing myself to do stuff I don't wanna do is NO FUN.

I write in spurts. I'll spend weeks daydreaming and getting nothing accomplished, and then BAM! I'll finally sit down and bang out 15 000 words in a few days. I know myself better than any self-appointed expert ever will. Taking a day or a week or a month off will not be the end of my career.

So a big NYAHHH! to prevailing wisdom. I'm not your BICHOK. I don't have to do what you say. Those word meters will move when I'm good and ready.

For now, I'm off to Dear Author to see if I can't annoy someone I don't even know. Wheeeee!