Allison Pang's Blog, page 7
October 21, 2013
It’s occurred to me the last few weeks that I’ve been fairly neglectful of the blog as of late. Mostly because I’ve been recovering from the surgery – I’m not sure I realized just how intensive it was going to be.
I’d actually started writing up blog posts a few times, only to just let them sit in the drafts, simply because I was too tired to continue. (I did pick back up on Tumblr, though. Apparently reblogging kittens and naked men with a click of a button is a bit easier than forming coherent thoughts.)
Surgery-wise, I’m cautiously optimistic. While the pre-surgical pain is gone, I’m not quite ready to celebrate just yet. After all, it’s only been about 4 weeks – my last surgery failed at the 6-week mark, so I’m just continuing to take it easy. (Though out patient PT will start up in the next week or so, and that should help things along.)
I’m back in the saddle, more or less – I’ve started working from home the last few weeks, and I’ve gotten back into some writing – I just get tired easily and I can’t sit for very long without getting stiff, so it’s a fine line to walk. But – it *is* good to be creating again (and thinking creatively, for that matter.) I’m free of painkillers and narcotics for the first time in nearly a year, and it’s an amazing difference in my ability to focus, so I’m rather happy about that. Plus? I’m not so angry and depressed all the time. Chronic pain takes such a terrible toll on the body – after a while, it’s hard not to be resentful of pretty much everything, so I’m much more hopeful than before.
That being said, I didn’t do anything for the first few weeks after the surgery. I read a ton of manga and watched anime and TV shows and just took time to heal without worrying about deadlines or housecleaning or anything else, really.
Sort of a sad state of affairs when it takes a major surgery to allow oneself the time to breathe, but I can’t say it hasn’t been good for me.
Anyway, I’m here.
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September 17, 2013
I’ve mentioned before that working with Aimo on Fox & Willow has been one of the most rewarding collaborations I’ve ever had. But it’s always sort of disconcerting when people ask how we met.
We never have.
(A lot of those mumbled explanations are along the lines of “Well, we sort of met on Tumblr and we both enjoy playing Bioware games and I hired her to do a few sketches for my Abby Sinclair books and then we just basically fell into it. Also? Elf peen.”)
A long term project like F&W is a lot to ask of someone you’ve never seen face to face. Especially given we’re 12 hours apart in different countries.
Not to say we don’t communicate – we’re nearly in constant text and iChat mode on any given day, so in some ways we probably communicate more frequently than a “real life” friendship.
However, we finally remedied that the other night with an actual Skype session – both for professional reasons and the fact that it was just a little bit ridiculous that we’d never actually spoken to each other.
Not sure why we put it off for as long as we did, though I suspect there’s always a little bit of that “too good to be true aspect” involved. We were getting along so well virtually, there’s an element of not wanting to spoil a good thing. Plus, for many of us who are somewhat introverted, hiding behind electronic words is both liberating and freeing. Adding a camera to the mix can sometimes gork things up.
But we needn’t have worried – turns out we get along pretty fabulous face to face too.
That being said – I’m not sure Skype is going to replace our normal weekly meetings via Steam. Since most of our meetings are “working” meetings – involving sketches and plot discussion, I can see where the visual aspect could be more distracting simply because it’s more fun to talk than it is to work. >_<
And also? Elf peen.
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September 10, 2013
Even aside from all the issues I’ve had this summer, I had long expected to have this current WIP in to my agent months ago. But the editing road of the panster can be a tricky one and I appear to have added about 100 pages to it in the last few months.
Which seems like an awful lot. If I hadn’t, I’d probably be done with the manuscript by now…but I’m only halfway there, as a result. However, those pages need to be there.
As most of you know, pacing is pretty important when it comes to a book. Too slow and you lose your audience to snoresville. Too fast and the payoff feels cheapened. (The protag has to earn what she gets – and in my case, things were lining up a little too conveniently. Time to shake it up a little, right?)
Plus, it’s written in 1st person present. (Which is a weird voice for me to do for such a long piece, but that’s just the way it’s coming out.) But that means I’m very limited as to what I can show as far as the intrigues and mysteries are about – the reader can only know what the protag knows…and infodumping these things kills the joy of discovery. There’s also a bit of biological science involved – the protag isn’t remotely educated in that sort of thing, so she can’t have an instant understanding of it – but there has to be enough of it shown so that things make sense.
I do realize that sort of deep pov can be somewhat frustrating for readers. Like I said, it’s a tricky thing to get right – and there are some things I’m trying to set up now for a bigger pay off in a future book, but gotta be careful I don’t write myself into a corner either.
In the meantime, enough of the first half of the book has changed that now the second half has to be reworked. Not rewritten, per se – but there are now some holes that need closing. It’s a bit like putting a puzzle together. The things that fit together so well before have changed their shape or moved to a different location and I have to adjust accordingly.
I was hoping to have it finished by my surgery – which was scheduled on the 27th, but since it got moved up to the 20th, I’m not sure I’m going to make that self-imposed deadline, but I’m going to try.
Also – I’m looking for peeps who might be interested in some Word Whores guest posts. I’m going to be offline for several weeks and I need someone to take over my slot on Thursday. Drop me a line if you are interested!
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August 28, 2013
Sometimes it couldn’t be helped, of course, but gossip is one of those heady things. Sometimes we end up inserting ourselves into the middle of a dialogue, even if no one asked us to be there.
In the old days before the internet, creator – consumer relationships were usually limited to snail mail and in print reviews. These days an author can stumble over forums, reviews, tweets – everyone has an opinion and most aren’t afraid of throwing it out there for anyone to see. We can choose to interact..or not.
Not everyone wants us in their space, after all.
Through the use of tools like Google Alerts, I can be instantly notified if my books or my name is being dropped about on the internet. (Incidentally, Google Alerts doesn’t seem to be working for me all that well these days – I’ve switched over to Talkwalker and I find it’s much better at discovering the keywords == better results overall.)
It’s sort of a double-edged sword, though. On one hand, it’s great to get links to reviews or just random mentions of my books. (“Yay, people still like my shit!”) On the other? There’s nothing quite like getting that email with a link to where my book is being pirated or that online rant about how much someone hated X or Y.
But that’s part of the deal, though I do know some writers who never read reviews or do any poking about at all. They’re probably a bit saner for it. (And to be honest, I don’t go on Amazon or GoodReads much anymore. It’s just easier to keep plugging away with what I’m working on than worry about things that can’t be changed.)
I always try to be respectful, though. There’s this fine line between wanting to acknowledge readers – whether they’re gushing or hating – but the last thing I want to do is loom over a discussion one way or the other. That can tend to make some people self-conscious, and I value honest opinions more than anything else.
So usually I just stay away.
When you love something – a book, a movie, a game- so very much, you can build up this expectation about the creator. Surely they must love it as much as you? And wouldn’t it be awesome to have tea with them and gush over all those little things?
I should point out – I’ve done this with some creators and it was great. I’ve made some fabulous friendships and gotten some great networking contacts and fangirled over the fun bits. It’s just a ton of fun.
And then there are some creators that I wish I’ve never met or never interacted with because it made me realize they weren’t the person I’d built them up to be. And of course, it’s unfair to put a creator on a pedestal, but sometimes you can’t help it. They made something that touches you in some way – how could they be anything other than awesome?
But then they open their mouths and…they’re homophobic, or racist or just plain old jerks. It sorta kills the vibe and sometimes taints my love for the item in question.
These days, I’m skirting the edges of a fandom I usually enjoy and I’m watching what happens when a Big Name creator gets involved – and how polarizing it can be between fans who either agree with everything the creator says…and those who immediately go on the defensive.
So where does the line get drawn? On one hand, I have to question this creator’s motives as to why they’re involving themselves in the discussions at this level. But on the other? I feel bad because sometime it seems like *everything* they say is immediately jumped on and pulled apart, and that’s not fair either. (Sometimes fans can be *extremely* entitled, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.)
I realize that I’m very tiny fish in an extremely large pond, so it’s unlikely I’ll ever be part of a fandom as large as this one is, but watching it from the sidelines has given me a lot of food for thought.
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August 23, 2013
I’ve caught a bit of a breather today at work so I’m able to get a quick post in for the first time in forever. And not that I want to continue to discuss health issues all that much, but I got a fair number of emails about the fibro thing – support from others who have it, or illnesses like it and questions on how I cope with the pain all the time and things like that.
And I don’t have a huge amount of answers simply because I’m wrapping my brain around it myself right now, but figured I would maybe touch on a few things I am trying that may help.
1. Going gluten free. I’d had a few people suggest this before, but I’d sorta poo-poohed it, because I love carbs. I eat pasta all the time and how could I possibly think of cutting it completely out of my diet? Well, this past weekend was probably one of the worst of my entire life, both in pain and sheer messed-up-edness. Is that a word? Well, at any rate after the third or fourth night in a row of no sleeping and being completely foggy-brained and just unable to function, I went and jumped on the gluten-free wagon.
Turns out gluten causes a lot of the same symptoms as fibro in people who have allergies or sensitivities to it.
So I stopped eating it. It may be a little too early to tell if it will have any effect on the pain issues, but I am less foggy brained and I think I’m sleeping better. Definitely beginning to have more energy. I suppose it could be a placebo effect, but what’s really weird is that I have to force myself to eat. I no longer have any sort of appetite at all. It’s like food doesn’t interest me anymore -and that’s freaky, given how much I generally do like to eat.
This was cemented yesterday when I went to the Cheesecake Factory for my birthday dinner. CF is supposed to start implementing GF menus this month, and I thought my local one had done so, but I guess that doesn’t start until this weekend. I went and ordered as best I could…but I gave into the temptation that is fried mac and cheese balls – ate one of those bad boys and another small piece of bread. And within 30 minutes my stomach began cramping up so bad I had to leave after I finished the rest of meal…and I didn’t even have any cheesecake at all. (I ordered it to go, but I honestly have zero inclination or desire to eat it. This NEVER happens, you understand.)
The upside to this appetite thing is that I’ve already dropped 2 or 3 pounds this week, simply by not snacking like I usually do, so that’s a side effect I don’t mind at all. (It’s possible this is a side effect that will wear off after a few weeks. I have no idea.)
2. The Guai Protocol. This is specifically for people with fibro. It’s one of those things that hasn’t officially been proven to work, but it’s not hard to do, since it mostly involves taking Guaifenesin (Mucinex) and cutting out Salicylates. I figured it was worth a shot, anyway, so we’ll see how that goes.
3. Weighted blanket. Jury is out on this since I haven’t gotten it yet, but it should be here by Monday. One of the things I’ve noticed is that I seem to crave wrapping myself up in something soft all the time. Apparently weighted blankets tend to soothe this craving and also help with sleep. They’re not cheap so it might be better to try to make one yourself, but I’m just too tired to make that happen, so I bought mine from Mosiac.
4. Pain Management App – My Pain Diary I am completely shitty when it comes to keeping track of anything, but I just plug in what hurts and how I’m feeling and what I think it’s being caused by (e.g. weather, SI dislocation, driving) and that sort of thing. It produces a pdf graph you can take to your doctor which is nice if you’ve started a new medication or something and you want to get a visual idea of how things are progressing.
5. Sleep App – Sleep Time. This is pretty cool – you turn it on and sleep with your phone on the bed and it determines the sort of sleep you’re getting. How much time you’re spending in light vs deep sleep vs awake – and again, the paid version keeps long-term records so I can figure out if something I’m doing is making sleep better or worse. Plus it determines the best time to wake you up gently via alarm based on that sleep pattern, so you’re not jerked out of a deep sleep.
So that’s what I’m working with. Always interested in hearing other people’s experiences with pain management, so feel free to share ideas or thoughts.
In the meantime, I’ve scheduled my double fusion for the end of September. Scares me to death, but I’m so tired of hurting so at this point I don’t think I have much choice.
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August 15, 2013
The sort of good news on the back front is that I’ve gotten the go ahead for the double fusion – which I will be trying to schedule for some time in September – I’ll probably be AWOL for at least several weeks during that time period, but I’ll know more about my schedule when I get closer to it.
So today I went to an arthritis doc – and we talked through the other stuff I’ve been dealing with, and she ordered some more bloodwork and some x-rays, but she suspects I have Fibromyalgia.
TMI warning, blah blah blah.
Which is something I’ve sorta wondered about for a while, but I never looked too closely at it because a lot of people, including docs, think it’s a load of horseshit. Like it’s the basket they put you in when they don’t have an answer for you and all your other tests are negative. But when I look at the overall list of symptoms and the exacerbating conditions that can go along with it…yeah.
I only have some of the ten most common symptoms:
Pain all over
Muscle knots, cramping, weakness
But the related factors?
chest pain unrelated to the heart
shortness of breath
irritable bladder/interstitial cystitis
vulvodynia (vulvar pain)
difficulty focusing eyes
the feeling of swollen extremities
dry/burning eyes and mouth
No, I don’t have all these symptoms all the time – sometimes they just flare up, like dry eyes for several days or waking up sweaty for no reason. But I do have them – and I’ve been fighting the vulvodynia battle since I was 19 and the IC since I was 25, and even back then fibro was noted to go hand in hand with those guys. Not to mention I can hardly walk nearly every morning because my feet are so stiff, and that’s been steadily getting worse for the last six months.
And of course, fibro is one of those things without a cure, though they can certainly attempt to treat it. Some of the drugs I’ve already been on for other things with little success, and to be honest I’m really not wanting to jump on another medical bandwagon. I’m already on painkillers all day for the back and I tend to have really bad reactions to a lot of drugs when I mix and match.
That being said, I’ll be willing to try some of the things she suggests, but not until after the fusion. Too many other factors as far as meds and pain management go with that for me to be comfortable messing with new chemical cocktails that come with their own sets of side effects.
But at least I have a name, and like GI Joe says: “Knowing is half the battle.” Right?
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August 14, 2013
And there’s not really anything I can do about it. My sunglasses will show up with they like, I suppose, though I’m a tad irritated at the DH’s wedding band. Hopefully we’ll find that tonight. And before the jokes start up, yes, he takes it off during the day job rather frequently – mostly because he doesn’t want the criminal sorts to know he’s married. It’s sort of like sitting down in a restaurant and realizing that you arrested the busboy last week and hoping there won’t be any revenge spitting going on.
Have I mentioned being married to a cop isn’t quite like the romance books make it out to be? (One day, I will write an actual cop romance and no one will buy it because no one wants to read about a couple discussing dismemberment over the dinner table. Well, maybe those Hannibal fans, but that’s another story all together.)
The kids are back home from summer camp and we’re trying to get back into the normal routine – but school is starting up in a few weeks and there seems to be this mad rush to try to fit everything in that we’ve missed doing this summer. And eesh. School supplies. Don’t even get me started on that. Why the hell a kid needs 10 glue sticks and 5 boxes of pencils is beyond me, but there we go.
And work…is beyond crazy. I used to be able to write blog posts during my lunch break or if I had 15 minutes to spare here or there, but part of the reason I’ve been so quiet here lately is because I just don’t have any more time. At all. And while I’m beyond grateful to still have employment at the moment, I’m run ragged all day with projects – by the time I get home I don’t have anything left to give – what little energy is there has to be put toward working on the book. (The edits of which are still ongoing. My lack of productivity this year has been rather depressing and I’m not sure how to shake that, but I will continue to plug away at it. And I have many ideas for new projects. One of my biggest sources of frustration is not finding the time to get them started.)
But I am still here.
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August 6, 2013
I haven’t had that much time to enjoy it, though. Spent all last week in software training classes for work (class ran from 8:30 to 6 PM every day…and topped off with a 90 minute commute in both directions, except for the day when a tractor trailer took out 3 lanes of 66 and added an additional 40 minutes to that. And the day I got pulled over. *cough*)
So quite honestly, most of my time last week was either in class, driving to/from class or passing out with my brains leaking out of my ears in the early evening. (Not knocking the class though – it was definitely worth it.) I got some bits of writing done here or there when I could, but I was fairly mentally fatigued so I didn’t stress myself out about it too much.
The weekend though? Yeah – that was good. Went out to eat several times, slept in, stayed up until 3 am watching movies with the DH, just because we could. (Also? Cleaning. And writing. Hours of it.)
It’s hard to give myself that sort of mental freedom in general, though. Doing the mom thing means there’s always some part of me that is awake and listening at night – when you have babies, it’s just something that happens.
It gets better as they get older, but I find that if I’m home alone with them, I definitely tend to sleep worse, simply because I can’t shut down that ear. So when I actually have nothing to listen for? It it’s a bit of a shock to the system – all of a sudden I’m not responsible for anyone but myself.
That comes with a dollop of guilt, but it’s also really nice. I’ve been trying to take advantage of it the last few days in particular (my word count is finally going back up to normal levels!), but my reprieve is coming to an end. I’m just hoping I’ll be able to remain in this relaxed state when they are home again – I really needed the break.
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August 5, 2013
Okay – so here’s the thing – I spent several hours on Saturday in my version of paradise – namely a Lego convention. (I’m sure some of you don’t get it. That’s okay. There was a film crew there doing a documentary, so I suppose it’s possible I was caught on camera somewhere…)
Anyway – took a ton of pictures – so I’m uploading a bunch of them now and then I’ll sift through the DH’s camera and see if I can find any that aren’t repeats.
Some of the pics are a little blurry and some just don’t capture the sheer amount of detail in them, so you’ll just have to take my word on how freaking incredible they were. (And OMG – some are nostalgic in the extreme. My brother *had* all those old school space ones and we used to play with them for hours.)
Keep an eye out for the Lego Serenity (I think the DH has better shots of that, so I’ll get those up later) and also a crazy amazing Cyberpunk town that was just completely off the cuff.
Also? Lego Erebor!!!
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July 26, 2013
Okay – after taking a tally of all the answers for the Carniepunk contest, I had ms Lucy draw the lucky winner and it’s Susan!
(4th comment down on the above linked post.)
So, if Susan could contact me at apang at heartofthedreaming dot com with her address information, I’ll get that copy of Carniepunk sent out next week.
If I don’t hear from her by Tuesday, I will draw another winner. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!
And on an unrelated note, I haven’t linked to any updated Fox & Willow pages, lately – but we’re up to page 130 now and in the home stretch. (I think we’re aiming for a nice round 150 pages at this point and then we’ll be taking a little break as we prepare for the next chapter.)
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