Sunday, January 8, 2017

re- Awakening

The other day, I picked up a print copy of one of my books that I had left off as an intended series--Awakening. It's a book that I pulled from sale over a year ago, when I wasn't sure I could continue the series. But in picking it up, I read a middle chapter...and couldn't put it down! The writing swept me away and I thought, "This is too good. I couldn't have written this." I love and loathe those moments, because it depresses me to think that I'll never write that well again, which is never the truth. At the same time, it pushes me to write better.


Original cover of Awakening
I have been totally caught up in the world I created in Awakening. And I have made tons of notes, which is probably just duplicating my efforts in some file on my computer somewhere. I had an outline for the series and have been really mulling things over in my head, and I decided that if I'm going to continue this, it will be a trilogy, not a 4-book series as I had originally thought.

When I had first conceived of this, I figured 4 books would be perfect--Awakening, Enlightenment, Ascension, and Eternal. But something was never quite right about that. I even had a tough time coming up with four cover ideas. Now I know why--it wasn't meant to be 4 novels, only 3. I've really been mulling over the outline and inspired ideas from rereading Awakening and see more clearly how the plot fits 3 books much better.

Now, if my muse sticks with me in this, I can finish the next two without distractions...other than the bad days from health issues. I am debating the middle book title--Enlightenment or Ascension--but definitely want Eternal as the final book in the series. This first book isn't changing--the story is the same. Only the unwritten books have a new plan.

And I think I will rename the series from Shadow Realm Saga to The Luriel Cycle. I think it sounds less dark--the story really isn't dark fantasy but a reshaping of angels and demons into something else. It has always been intended as a fantasy saga set on another world but with a modern technology society rather than a medieval, traditional fantasy setting. Magic and technology and science mix in this world and I love the concept as much now as I did when I first developed it.

Now, I'm glad I pulled it when I did. I can better organize how the rest of the story plays out. Everything happens for a reason, and this wasn't a fully developed plan when I first started it. It only took a few years to reach maturity, unlike Starfire Angels, which took twelve years from the first concept to what it became (the first book of my most popular series). Legend of the White Dragon went through a similar redevelopment in its own way also, and now that's been my better seller (helped along by riding the coattails of A Game of Thrones).

Those who did purchase Awakening with its original cover can claim a rare first copy.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Nemesis release and a correction

I want to say Merry Christmas to my readers...or whatever holiday you wish to observe. In any case, I was able to get Nemesis available at least in Amazon for the Christmas holiday. It will be available everywhere else on January 3, 2017.

At last, Nemesis is finished, and I am finished with Starfire Angels. This story wraps up the lives of all the major characters and I am very satisfied with how it concluded. I hope you will enjoy it.

Description (updated):

Since stealing Raea from Valdas and her team of Shirukan, Leksel was never on good terms with the Shirukan general. He sliced her face in the fight to take back the Crystal Keeper. She destroyed his wing in retribution. When circumstances bring them face-to-face through an unlikely source, a truce is tenuous at best. Leksel needs Valdas to guide him to the Keeper that set her free from the du’kir brood ship and to retrieve the Starfire shard on the infamous Annihilator, and Valdas needs Leksel to help her destroy those who betrayed her. Two former Shirukan working together to cut out the heart of the Shirat Empire might be a powerful alliance, if they can overcome their loathing for one another. 

Amazon


On a side note, I wish to say that I corrected my review of Rogue One after my husband corrected me. I had thought that Tarkin was played by Wayne Pygram, and sometimes it sounded very much like him, but apparently, I should have looked closer. I have made the correction, but I sure could swear that it was Scorpius. Scary that those actors could have such similar voices and bone structure.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Movie Review: Rogue One, A Star Wars Story

Today, my husband and I had a movie day, sans kids. (Yay! They're old enough to stay home. Too bad they didn't get their chores done--we checked in on our home security system.)

We had the movie without the typical commentary from our oldest child, which made for a more pleasant experience. She loves to chat through the whole movie. Unfortunately, she probably gets that from me as I see a face I know and have to ask my husband who it is--he typically can identify the actors since we both tend to watch the same shows (science fiction and fantasy).



In the case of Rogue One, I heard the voice of Scorpius (Farscape villain) from Governor Tarkin, although it didn't quit look like him. My husband confirmed that, while Wayne Pygram played Tarkin in a small scene at the end of one of the prequels, this was Guy Henry, who was a minor character in the Harry Potter movies. The only problem I had was the bad CGI trying to alter the actor's face to make him look like Peter Cushing. I am not fond of the computer animation of real faces. It came off much better for Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, but there they just made him look younger. In this case, they were trying to put on a similar face and it looked too animated and not real, especially with all the other actors around him being live.

Other than that, I enjoyed the show. It felt more like it was meant to be an Easter-egg than a full-on Star Wars movie, something to appease the full-on fans like my husband. Don't be mistaken, I like Star Wars, but I don't need to know every little detail of every character or ship or planet or whatever. My husband role-plays and miniature games in the SW universe, so he's totally absorbed. I don't need that degree of immersion. That said, it had the feel of a fun side story, which, if I'm not mistaken, is what it was intended to be, something to fill in the gaps from the main canon.

The plot could have come from a YA/NA or animated series crossed with a SW Rebels story. In fact, there are references to the animated series in this--a call for Syndulla over an intercom and several shots of the Ghost. And one of the characters helping Jyn bore a striking resemblance to Kanan while another character was blind like Kanan but could as well have had eyes for his fighting skills (like Kanan). The supporting characters overall were largely caricatures of themselves, VERY distinctive traits perhaps exaggerated too much to make up for lacking real depth.

I will give kudos to the ending. It wasn't what I was expecting in some ways but how it played out for the main characters was the only way to explain their absence in A New Hope et al. I was pleased with it breaking from the typical Star Wars story. The events made the ending feel like it truly fit with the rest, and that brought me a sense of satisfaction; but others may not feel the same.

IMDB


Saturday, November 26, 2016

The final Starfire Angels book is coming soon!

It's almost done!

Editing on Nemesis is nearly complete. The major changes have mostly be done and only minor corrections are left. I hate putting it down each time I sit with it. I've really been enjoying re-reading the manuscript that took two years to write.

But this will be the final story with the characters you've come to know. I've said that before. And I've said this before too--this story will tie up a lot of loose ends and bring some surprises. I hope all those who have been patiently waiting are satisfied with this.

In Nemesis, you'll finally learn what happened to Korali as well as the Starfire shard of Elis's father, Naolis. You'll even meet a new Crystal Keeper.

With luck, I will have this out for Christmas. If not, soon after.

Since stealing Raea from Valdas and her team of Shirukan, Leksel and the Shirukan general were never on good terms. When circumstances bring them face-to-face, a truce is tenuous at best. Will they work together to defeat the parasites of the Shirat Empire or will they kill each other before achieving their goals?

(This description will likely change before publication.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Whew!

I dodged a bullet when the Lyme testing came back definitively negative. (This was the Igenex testing, which is more sensitive than other tests.)

However, that leaves the problem of what truly is causing my problems. We've ruled out just about everything but one.

The root of it all is my immune system. Yes, the same immune system that set off Hashimoto's thyroid disease. Lucky me.

Along with the Lyme testing, the doctor also did an organic acids test. This revealed several problems in the Krebs Cycle. I won't go into detail about that, because it's too complicated for me to understand fully, much less explain it. Besides, you can find better descriptions online than what I could ever provide here. Let's just say that several steps in the process have been disrupted and I have started supplementing to fix them.

I also have in infection, but it wasn't what I expected, although I did suspect something...Probiotics. Specifically, an overgrowth of L. acidophilus. I didn't think this possible, but I was seeing worse symptoms after taking probiotics or trying to eat fermented foods--one bite of yogurt would steal my breath for two days. Other fermented/dried foods have done the same to a lesser degree. I took them for nine months before quitting this past February. I started to slowly improve but never truly healed. One possible explanation is that acidophilus produces D-Lactate, which has the same effect as lactic acid in the body...which can cause a lot of the symptoms I've had.

There is some good news. I found online that stevia (whole stevia leaf, not extracts or sweeteners), has some bactericidal qualities. It had some possible applications to Lyme Disease and, before I knew that I did NOT have LD, I decided to have stevia added to my tea. After a couple of days of two mugs a day of my favorite tea steeped with stevia, I did start to see improvements. It's been a week and I've been doing much better. From what I understand, stevia has some effect on biofilms in bacterial colonies, including on acidophilus. I hope this is the tipping point to finally overcoming the issues I've had. One little root cause would be SO much easier to deal with than complicated metabolic processes to correct.

There are some other results from the O.A.T. that I've yet to start suggested supplementation for, but I'm taking this doctor's advice--I'm taking things slow. I'm just relieved that I found a doctor who is giving me a direction to healing rather than saying "It's all in your head; take a xanax [and quit bothering me]."

It's been a year and a half, but the worst started just over a year ago. I'm hoping that this is the beginning of the end of that suffering. I really want to end my need for sleeping medicines to get 5-6 hours of sleep a night (maximum of 1 hour unmedicated, when I follow a strict routine).

Ah! Sleep, wherefore art thou?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

waiting on medical tests bites

Bad pun. Sorry. It's just an expression that fits.

I don't remember being bitten by any tick in recent years, but I'm sure that's what happened. I do recall a tiny (and I mean just a couple millimeters) brown bump on my skin that I thought was a blood blister simply disappearing one day as suddenly as it had appeared. I never thought of it then, but I think of it a lot now.

I'm waiting on lyme disease testing. I've been to a doctor outside the normal clinics who has an open mind and takes the time to consider EVERYTHING.

He suggested that ALL of my symptoms over the last year and a half fit with Lyme Disease. I've been researching everything I can since then while waiting on the Igenex testing for Lyme and co-infections. I believe he's right but am waiting to move forward on treatment until we know what exactly I have. The rising white blood counts I've had on blood tests over the last year and a half point to a growing infection, and LD fits.

I have good days and bad days. Mornings are usually my best time of day and then it's generally downhill the rest of the day, but occasionally I have a good day all day. The worst for me are neurological symptoms--brain fog, memory problems, severe insomnia (still!), and air hunger being the most intolerable. There are also itching, pins and needles, and crawling feelings on different areas of my skin plus aches and muscles twitches and headaches. Some days I can't tolerate sunlight. Noise stresses me out something fierce, and it doesn't have to be a lot--several babies fussing in church one day ran me out because I couldn't take it. I can't describe the tension that rises up through me into an anxiety attack. And then there's the sometimes debilitating depression. It's worse than any simple blues when it comes on. This isn't all in my head but my brain and nerves feeling like they're on fire.

I've learned to deal with it through supplements and diet and have managed to slow the degradation of my quality of life. I'm holding pretty steady while trying to patiently wait, and am getting my nutrient levels up that have been shown to be deficient and some that I suspect to be deficient. I still have some histamine intolerance, but an immune system under attack will call in all its forces, including the mast cells that release histamines; unfortunately having the immune system going full-bore for so long is stressful on the endocrine system, which is where the Hashimoto's and adrenal issues have come into play.

The big picture in my search for the root of my health problems that came on a year and a half ago is not what I would have expected. I'm relieved to find an answer and anxious to get rid of this. But I've had it this long and understand that I may never be able to rid my body of the bacteria after all this time. From my understanding, late-stage Lyme really can't be cured but it can be treated and put into a state of remission indefinitely, as long as my immune system stays strong.

What's more frightening is that it's here. I didn't necessarily have to go out of state to get the disease. In my research, I came across some information about Lyme in North Dakota, and these are reputable sources:

NDSU Extension Service--https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cpr/horticulture/ticks-with-lyme-disease-in-nd-05-05-16

CDC-- (New Lyme-Disease-Causing Bacteria Species Discovered) http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0208-lyme-disease.html

Entomology Today--https://entomologytoday.org/2014/09/04/ticks-that-vector-lyme-disease-move-west-into-north-dakota/

I'm making it my mission to spread this to any doubters or naysayers who think ND doesn't have LD--it's here, has been for some time. We have deer ticks infected with Borellia in our state, and not just the old B. burgdorferi but a new species that causes Lyme, one that may not show up positive on the current tests, one called B. mayonii. Once I get my test results, you can be sure my primary care physician is going to get an earful from me, especially when he was so dismissive of my symptoms being "anxiety" He'll be getting a lyme education, so hopefully the next patient doesn't have to go through all that I have...When it comes to our health, we have to be our own best advocates. "Never give up; never surrender."

I will update again when I have more to report. It's been four and a half weeks since my blood went out to the lab for testing. I hope to have the results any day now.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Been busy but trying to get back to the swing of things

It's been a while.

I've been battling severe insomnia for almost a year, and with it, a terrible feeling of not being able to get enough air, a feeling usually described as air hunger. I've been through a lot of ups and downs and finally feel up to being online again, at least in some limited extent.

I've joined instagram as melanienilles_author to share pictures from my life there instead of on Facebook, but I feel that the time has finally come to deactivate my FB account. I've noticed that my personal profile is not much more than a stressor in my life, but I can't have that without the author page. It's too hard to be able to separate seeing one from the other. With a chronic illness, one of the first steps to feeling better is reducing stress. I have enough in my life without feeling left out.

This type of illness makes one feel alone and FB really creates even more of a vacuum, despite the friends who might gather there. I've tried, but I feel outcast and the best way to feel better is to eliminate that altogether. I'm sorry to those friends who only gather on FB and nowhere else. I hope you stop by other online places.

It's also hard being sick for so long because you feel like others think you're a hypochondriac. That's not the case at all, but I've even wondered about myself sometimes. However, I've now found a local, holistic MD (besides the NP I have been seeing at another independent clinic) who has been able to confirm with laboratory testing that I'm not going out of my mind and that this is all a real medical ordeal. I had hoped he would have a different perspective than other doctors and I have so far not been disappointed.

Since this began almost a year and a half ago, I finally am feeling vindicated in my suffering. While we still don't have a complete answer, this new doctor, and his associates that work with him, (like the NP I've been seeing) acknowledge the issues of Hashimoto's and the complexities of MTHFR that I've been dealing with; and he has taken it a step further, by suggesting there may be an underlying infection behind all this. Hallelujah! I feel that I might finally find an answer to the question of "What the h*** is happening to me?!"

I am still not sleeping well, but have found that just a couple of supplements can make a difference and help me reduce the dose of sleeping meds I need--I don't like relying on medications. I've healed my gut too well--I get sufficient amounts of most nutrients from my diet. However, I keep dairy out for fear of the wrath of acne; tested negative for intolerances, but I get acne breakouts according to the amount of dairy I consume. It took a while, but I discovered a calcium/magnesium/D3/phosphorous supplement that is sublime for calming my mind and making up for those deficiencies. The others are a low level vitamin E and a low dose of SAM-e. I've tried just about everything else, but I can no longer tolerate B supplements--they're like caffeine in the tiniest amounts and I don't flush them out easily. I don't seem to need much of what I do take, but maybe that's because I am petite and the RDA is based on some "average" that is far above my size. Who knows.

Anyway, I've struggled and been through hell, but I've found some peace and am still learning how to keep peace in my world. I still have insomnia, aches that move around, air hunger, and other issues, but I haven't given up.

In fact, I've been able to improve enough from my lowest point that I have finished writing the first draft of Nemesis. That story has been a lifeline, although a thorny one, through all this. In a way, because it was so difficult to write, feeling like I had to finish is what kept me hanging on and not giving up on at least finding some relief for my symptoms. But recently, after finding those supplements I listed above, the creativity came back and the last part of the story wrote itself better than I ever imagined it could. I'm very happy with it.

I can't wait to share it with you! Because I wasn't sure of how things would go with my health, I had moved the release date back to March of next year. However, if the editing goes well, I'll be able to release it sooner. You've waited long enough, but I really want to make this the cream of the crop. Starfire Angels fans who have stuck it out will be largely fulfilled with this, as it will close up a lot of storylines from the series's more beloved characters.

I don't know what I'll move onto next; but it feels good to wrap up one series, especially in such a satisfying way. My future writing depends on what the new doctor does for me. It would be nice if my creativity would blossom again like it did when I wrote Starfire Angels. My goal in getting better is to find that intense spark again.