Sunday, May 19, 2019

Reminiscing and writing

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's post. Baxter Black was a rare treat when I was growing up. Where I live, we had Rodney Nelson as our local cowboy poet. I recommend anyone looking for a good story and a laugh look up more on Youtube.

So, what else have I been up to, besides reminiscing? Working at my day job for one.

Buddy with his new saddle after a long trail ride.
And training Buddy. It's that time of year when ranchers in my area brand, vaccinate, and castrate calves. (Don't want a bunch of little bulls running around.) Buddy is ready to help round up cattle now. He's becoming a real cowhorse, as I posted a couple of weeks ago. The big test is coming up. All the commotion and comraderie of neighbors gathering to help each other becomes a working party. It's a simple life well lived. But for a horse, it can be a bit frightening initially. We'll see how he handles his first branding roundup this spring.

And I'm excited that my brother and his family will be home for the branding also. Farm families are some of the closest knit families you'll ever meet. We rely on each other. Granted, like my brother and his family, who live in another state, I don't actually live on the farm/ranch anymore, but it's still in our blood. My sisters still live and work on the farm with their families, and my brother and I both wish we could too. Alas, our lives have taken different routes, but home is home. There's a peace about the open country where the closest neighbor is a mile or two away. There's real freedom in that, and it's a balm to the soul. Getting back to my roots has provided the greatest healing for me.

It's that peace that lets me regain my writing focus. The long drive to and from the farm of my youth gives me lots of time to think and clear my head. I've been using that to work out details of whatever story I'm working on. Because of that, the writing has been going well on #4 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. Yes, #4 already! I like being two books ahead of the one I plan to release. And the shorter lengths keep me from getting bored.

I am really enjoying the way this series is going so far. The first draft of #4 (title TBD) is halfway done already. As I mentioned last week, I met a new character in this one who really intrigued me. He was exactly what the series needed, and I plan to keep him as a regular character from this point forward. I have a working title and a cover image, but I'm not sure if the title will fit by the end of the story. If I was as sure as I was with Vault of the Celestials, I would announce it here, but it looks like that announcement will have to wait until the end of June. Ironically, VotC (SA:FW #3) was an easy title and cover but a hard book to write; now, #4 is pretty easy to write but difficult to title. That's writing.

Speaking of June, THE RULE OF YONDER will be available June 20th. I'm going into final edits on that this week to have it ready in time to go out to all the retailers. I hope you're as excited as I am!

Despite their narrow escape from the Issan, Zaer's starship, the Da'Nelgur, was severely damaged. Vel and Shen have tried to fix the hyperdrive, and Nya is sound asleep. Their only chance to repair the ship to continue their journey to Ethal is a crime-syndicate-run remote city in interstellar space.

Yonder Station is not a place where anyone with sense wants to stay long, but it has its advantages. A home to salvagers, dealers, hustlers, and assassins, it is also a valuable trading post for the fringe of the galaxy, especially for information. The latest news is the Da'Nelgur's involvement with the Issan and the mysterious portals.

When Zaer is taken by one of the crimelords seeking what she knows about the portals, it's up to Nik and Nya to rescue her. But that same crimelord wants them too. To rescue Zaer, they'll need to avoid being captured while tracking where she might have been taken. What they discover could get them killed, or it could gain them powerful new allies. What could go wrong?

Pre-order your ebook copy today from major retailers:

Amazon
Apple
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
and many others

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A laugh for today



ps--makes me hungry!

pps--I remember watching Johnny Carson late at night, back when we could laugh about anything. Ah, the good old days!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Forgotten Worlds #4 progress

I'm currently working on the fourth installment of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series. After massive edits on Vault of the Celestials, it was difficult to get my focus back on the writing side of things, but I eventually got there. And I needed that time to figure out the story.

Then I realized where else could I pick up except where the final scene of VotC left off? I don't yet have a title for #4 of this series, but I do have a cover design based on the world where Zaer has a connection with a special delivery. Once I got going, the story picked up speed to where I had written over 4,000+ words this past weekend. It slowed down since but only because I need a breather--that was quite the pace for me. Part of that strong pace was the inspiration of a new character mysteriously appearing and gaining development.

I love new characters, but this one took over my imagination. He's interesting is all I can say at this early stage, but I already have big plans for him.

I'm only 10K words into this, or about a quarter of the expected length. I generally plan around 40K words on each of these, give or take a couple thousand. It's actually an awkward length but so much easier than aiming for 100K novels. And I have more fun because I can switch up adventures more frequently. That keeps me going.

I hope it keeps you going too. I have a cover mostly ready for #4. I just need the title, which will come at some point.

For now, you can start this exciting new science fiction series with the first book, A NEW BEGINNING. The second book, THE RULE OF YONDER, will be available on June 20. The third, VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS, will be available in September. This fourth book you can expect sometime soon after Thanksgiving (U.S.).

Friday, May 3, 2019

I have a cowhorse

Yay, Buddy! He's finally getting there. This winter changed him. Well, it wasn't just winter, but how he lived this winter and my care through the winter. The experience changed him for the better. The farm has been exactly what he needed to get over his nerves. He was always a smart boy and clearly has some foundation Quarter Horse, based on his conformation, even if he doesn't have registration papers. That should equate to a calm boy. Unfortunately, he hadn't had the experiences that he needed to start accepting new things and getting over his fears.

Cows!
Buddy has come so far since I took him out to my family's farm. Being around cattle and all the big tractors, Rangers, pickups, trailers, stacks of round bales etc. has taught him not to be afraid of every little thing. And my regular handling has taught him that he's okay without his herd nearby. He's FINALLY carrying that through under saddle now, not just when I'm on the ground with him.

Last fall, we helped sort calves for weaning with him in-hand for that first experience. He started out nervous, but by the end was excited to go after the cows. Today, we rode with the cows for the first time and, except for a moment when he wanted to buck and play instead of canter (easily corrected, because he's not mean-spirited at all), he enjoyed it! He was even walking on a loose rein. I like to do some dressage work, but I've been trying to let him go off the contact and encouraging him to relax. The only time he started to get anxious for his friends was coming over the hill back to the farmstead. That was the first time he whinnied during our whole ride, which means he was pretty occupied with our ride up to that point and not worried.

The lead is free and he's completely at ease as long as he has yummy green
grass.
We didn't focus on dressage today, except to correct him from dropping his shoulder, but focused on western riding in our new saddle. (A special pad with back shims and using the special Circle Y 7/8 cinch position were the answers to freeing his shoulders) He'll be ready to join the big boys rounding up cattle for working calves in three weeks.


And after our ride, I took him to the grass for a treat. I was able to drop the lead rope and let him graze while I played with the dogs. He didn't look around anxiously for his friends like he used to do. I could barely get him to enjoy the grass last fall--he was always worried about where his friends were. He's never worried about stepping on his lead, which doesn't phase him in the least. He just moves his hoof until his head is free. I have an awesome horse who just gets better and better with time and training.

Tuff wanting me to throw the rock
Gunner taking it easy...finally


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

I am not on social media

You will not find me on Facebook (quit a year ago) or Twitter. I have also closed my Instagram account. Google+ is closed. MySpace is dead, as is LiveJournal. I haven't had any other accounts that I can recall, except blogs. Social media is the virtual wild west, too abusive, and too time sucking. I'm done with it. I am only hanging out online in private groups.

If you see someone masquerading as me on the primary social media hangouts, it is NOT me. Please let the platforms know if you find anything like that. I can be found here, on my blog. (I don't consider groups like Goodreads to be social media since it's more like a forum; although, depending on your definition of social media, a forum could fall under that heading. I just don't group it in with social media because it isn't quite the same.)

Now, back to your reading enjoyment.

edit 5/4/19: There is still one account that I mostly ignore. I get bothered by the company so much I may close that down too.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

cover art

I love showing off covers just as much as I love creating them. I've been wanting to put together a boxed set for the Luriel Cycle but could not grasp a concept for a cover. If I can't come up with a concept, there would be no way an artist could.

It may take a while, but eventually, I get there... I got there. The same thing can happen in writing. Sometimes you just have to push through the creative block.

At last, I have a cover for the boxed set of The Luriel Cycle: the Complete Trilogy, which will be available soon...


Edit 4/28/19: I started looking at the previous cover and saw a Disney movie. Not good. This is not a Disney-audience friendly book. Loved the cover model, but she looked too young. I went with a modification that took the model out.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Cat pic spam

We have four cats in our house. They keep us smiling, and you'll see why.

The three musketeers - (left to right)
Suki, Jack, Dargo

The boys are BFFs

little miss tortitude cleaning her belly

Dargo is a big baby and a goofball

"My towels!"

Our geriatric Siamese, Padme.

The two Siamese and oldest of our kitties - Dargo and Padme

Saturday, April 20, 2019

A wonderful day with my Buddy

I don't get many days like this, so I really enjoy them as fully as I can.

It's Easter weekend and I felt the blessings I have, despite middle-age health issues and having my horse fifty miles away. Today could only have been better if my sisters had been home to visit. But it was a great day, nevertheless.

I drove out to my family's farm to see Buddy and my parents and all the new baby calves. (It's that time of year.) I brought him in from the pen with his friends and trimmed his hooves, then had a great ride. It didn't start out great, but it ended that way. He started out being mister fussy-britches-somewhat-naughty boy, so we worked through it to get him focused. He even gave me some trot leg-yield. Seeing that he could do that, I asked from some walking haunches-in. Bending like that was a little difficult, but it kept him focused on me instead of worrying about not being with his friends. We had gone over the hill from the farm and back.

Then we rode around the yard a little and to the other side of the farmyard. He was trotting nicely, suppling in his jaw, and even letting me let the reins out while walking without him hurrying to go where he wanted to go. We had a puddle in our path that he took some convincing to walk through but not much. Seeing how he didn't need much more than to see that there wasn't any way around, I was pretty proud of him for that. But he got even better.

Saying "Hi" to Babe and Freckles on our
way back to the barn.
We continued around the first-calf heifer lot, then continued out to where his friends were in their pen. By then, he was walking on a nice loose rein with his head level with his withers. We walked by his friends with them following us and out through a steep, dry ditch and out by the south pasture, where he got a little nervous about a huge rock and a little calf, but otherwise continued with a moderately loose rein. We rode back over the culvert rode of that ditch we had ridden through to get out to the pasture, then came back riding on the buckle along the pen with his friends. I was very proud of him by this point.

Coming back brought on some anxiety for him, as we rode between the yearling and bull lots to return to the barn and untack. He earned a double helping of grain with his supplement. For once, he wasn't super sweaty, despite the 76 F temperatures and his winter coat, which you can see in the pictures. I think his mostly relaxed state today made a big difference, since he normally is a nervous nelly (and sweats a lot to go with it). Buddy seemed so much more confident than normal today, but not yet ready to ride among the cattle. Around them with a fence between him and them, okay. With them... We're working on it. This trail riding is what he's needed for a long time. It's building his confidence tremendously.

Nom Nom Nom!
After our ride, I gave him his spring 5-way shot including West Nile Virus while he enjoyed his treat. Then, I gave him more of a treat by letting him enjoy some of the spring grass coming up--he more than earned it! He even ate along the yearling lot on our walk back to his paddock with the yearlings crowding around him. (Yearling cattle are always curious. My horses growing up who were used to working cattle would occasionally get spooked when the yearlings would run to the fence to check us out.)

I didn't get many pics, but I managed a few.

Curious yearlings couldn't ruin his treat

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Forgotten Worlds -- more to come!

The third book of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series is going up for pre-orders already. Amazon's listing will be up in June. VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS (book 3) will be released on September 12, 2019.

Before then, THE RULE OF YONDER (Book 2) will be released on June 20, 2019.

Currently, A NEW BEGINNING (Book 1) is available for purchase.

Those are the first three books of this series to date that are written. However, there are many more to come!

I will be busy writing this series throughout the next two years at least.

I have now outlined Book 4 and it will be a fun one. It will be a return to the overall feel of the series. Book 3 is a bit different, more fully establishing the history of this universe, or at least the galaxy in which the series takes place in this fiction universe, so it became a puzzle to solve, both in writing and for my characters. I feel that after all the action of Book 2, it was a good time to have a change of pace and lay down some more foundation, including with the Starfire for those who might be new to the Starfire Angels universe. Book 4 goes back to being more action like I want for this series.

Get ready. This will be a fun series with many twists and turns.

I hope to have Book 4 out around Christmas of 2019.

This is only the beginning...




MUCH MORE TO COME!

Monday, April 15, 2019

cover reveal - Vault of the Celestials

At last, the cover and description are ready for their initial release, and there is a release date!

Book 3 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Words is finally ready for pre-order.

VAULT OF THE CELESTIALS

Returning to Ethal wasn't what Nik wanted. His leaving wasn't on the best of terms—he defied his family and abandoned his responsibilities. But he has sworn to help Nya complete her mission. Unfortunately, confronting his past is only the beginning of their troubles; Nya's life may be in danger on Ethal.  

To make matters worse, when Nya disappears in the Vault of the Celestials, Nik and Vel get trapped trying to rescue her. The temple contains mysteries never revealed, until Nya's presence provides the key. They must solve the puzzles of an ancient past to learn the secrets of the Vault and expose the shadow threat to their mission.

COMING SEPTEMBER 12, 2019!

And don't forget to check out Book 1 -- A NEW BEGINNING, available now for only $0.99 (USD).

Book 2 -- THE RULE OF YONDER is available for pre-order, to be released on June 20, 2019.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

the puzzle box

Writing is a puzzle, but a three-dimensional puzzle, like a puzzle box.

A well-crafted story has a conflict and actions that lead to a resolution at its most basic plot. But there are layers, extra dimensions, and also subplots that deepen a story and draw readers in. The trick is to give away just enough to spark questions in the readers' minds without giving away the idea, then lead the readers on the journey.

Every step of the story should inspire readers with questions of what COULD happen next.

That can be one of the most difficult parts of the craft of writing. But what happens when the puzzle pieces don't fit? I don't usually focus on the technical until something isn't working and I can't quite put my finger on it. That's when it's time to walk away and do something else for a while.

Think of it this way--corn starch and water aka oobleck. Put pressure on it, and it solidifies, becomes impenetrable. Release the pressure and it flows.

Sometimes creativity is like an oobleck. We push and push and it's like our creativity freezes. Then, we put it aside and at some point--poof!--the answer comes without effort.

I finally resolved an issue with Vault of the Celestials that had been bothering me throughout writing it and then after finishing. I knew there was something missing but could not put my finger on it and was getting frustrated. I took a break, did some editing on The Rule of Yonder (available for pre-order), and then needed a long drive. The best ideas always come during mundane tasks, like long drives, showers, and walking. Sure enough, the idea struck.

When I finally sat down to write, it all came together, FINALLY! Now, it all makes sense, and those extra layers of the story all tie together the way they were meant to. And what is resolved at the end is sparked early on in a way that will create the right questions to lead readers to what comes next.

Persistence pays off, but so too does knowing when to step back and take a break.

Friday, April 5, 2019

fixed it

Yesterday was the first day that A New Beginning was available.

And last night, I checked the formatting and cringed. How can it look good on the preview but turn out so poorly in the "Look Inside" and on my Kindle? I wanted to cry. It wasn't terrible terrible, but it wasn't as nice as my other books.

It's fixed now at least. I stayed up late last night and worked on it, then saw an NCX issue with the table of contents this morning after the other formatting fix and fixed that before heading out to work.

I thought I had it all ready to go and then my worst fear was realized. On the book's birthday.

This never gets easier.

But, now it's corrected and looks good. I know what went wrong--trusting Amazon's software for creating a mobi file. I'll stick with formatting in .docx. (Part of the problem was the images inside. I tried a different way to create the mobi files because I've had issues with trying to insert cute little images for decoration in chapter headings or scene breaks from .docx files before. However, this ended up not having that problem. Either Amazon fixed something or those other files had glitches with the images.)

Now, I'm on a mission to check other files.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A New Beginning...

It's ready and waiting!

A NEW BEGINNING (ebook only) will be available on Thursday, April 4th. This first book of a new series in the Starfire Angels universe is priced at the special rate of only 99c (USD).

On a remote mining station, Nyalin hides a secret that would make her a hunted woman—she is a Crystal Keeper, a protector of a shard of the powerful Starfire crystal. However, when a strange shuttle falls through a portal near the mining station, she can no longer avoid her responsibilities. The human pilot, Vellin, is part of a research team that has developed gateways for instant travel anywhere in the universe without requiring a Starfire crystal, and he has been followed by an enemy through the portal.

To stop dangerous forces from possessing the gateways to spread destruction, Nya must team up with Vel and risk exposing her secret. In their race to destroy the gateways, they will find allies and enemies... and a new reason to worry.

Preorder now (wait, if you prefer, but it's cheaper than a soda and a fraction of a movie ticket price for a few hours entertainment):

Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/New-Beginning-Starfire-Angels-Forgotten-ebook/dp/B07MJYB4NF/ref=as_li_ss_tl?keywords=melanie+nilles&qid=1549851642&s=gateway&sr=8-6&linkCode=sl1&tag=offsitofmelni-20&linkId=487321f3f541238b28e23dc3ea0b90fe&language=en_US

Applehttps://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-new-beginning/id1449769604?mt=11

Barnes and Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-new-beginning-m-a-nilles/1130302146?ean=2940156335589

Kobohttps://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-new-beginning-100

Thank you to the SFWA New Release Newsletter for including this in the April 1 edition.

And a special THANK YOU!! to all the readers and fans who have given me reasons to continue to write in this universe.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Luriel Cycle wrap-around covers

If anyone is interested, here are the full wrap-around covers of The Luriel Cycle trilogy paperback books:




These are just the cropped images, not reflective of the actual spine width of each book, so that you can see the full images now available for the paperback versions. I'm very happy with how these turned out and wanted to show them off as they are now official.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Vault of the Celestials is written

The first draft of Book 3 is typed out, but I'm not happy with aspects of this. It grew too complicated and needs to be rewritten and simplified.

But I have a first draft. I can work from that. You can't work with nothing.

Oddly enough, I also figured out how to start Book 4 and did that also.

Now, I need to get to work editing Book 2, The Rule of Yonder. I'm going to let Vault of the Celestials sit aside for a while so that I can focus on TROY edits. That should help me see VOTC with a different perspective. The problems usually become more apparent and the solution clearer when the mind is not actively working on it yet is somehow keeping it in tune. The unconscious mind works on problems when we give it the freedom it needs, unrestricted by conscious thought.

Each book has presented its own challenges, but each has also been an interesting piece of the puzzle. This one, Vault of the Celestials, is a cornerstone piece of this series, as it delves deeply into the establishing the foundation for the overarching plot.

That's all I can say for now, except Yay! Another one done. I can't wait to reveal the cover for this. It turned out beautiful, but I can't yet. In a few months.

For now, you'll have to be satisfied with A New Beginning and The Rule of Yonder, which are both available for pre-orders. Click on the series page on this blog to learn more.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Kindle Paperwhite giveaway

Free Kindle Books and Tips is giving away a Kindle Paperwhite. Click http://fkbt.com/2019/03/13/enter-to-win-a-new-paperwhite-2/ to enter.

And, while you're there, check out the site and be sure to sign up for their newsletter to learn about free Kindle books.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Cover Reveal - The Rule of Yonder

You've waited and been patient. And I finally decided on a release date for Book 2 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds.

The Rule of Yonder will be released on June 20, 2019.

And now, the cover and description:

Despite their narrow escape from the Issan, Zerr's starship, the Da'Nelgur, was severely damaged. Vel and Shen have tried to fix the hyperdrive, and Nya is sound asleep. Their only chance to repair the ship to continue their journey to Ethal is a crime-syndicate-run remote city in interstellar space.

Yonder Station is not a place where anyone with sense wants to stay long, but it has its advantages. A home to salvagers, dealers, hustlers, and assassins, it is also a valuable trading post for the fringe of the galaxy, especially for information. The latest news is the Da'Nelgur's involvement with the Issan and the mysterious portals.

When Zerr is taken by one of the crimelords seeking what she knows about the portals, it is up to Nik and Nya to rescue her. But that same crimelord wants them too. To rescue Zerr, they will need to avoid being captured while tracking where she might have been taken. What they discover could get them killed, or it could gain them powerful new allies. What could go wrong?


Pre-orders available soon! Check the page listing here for Forgotten Worlds or at melanienilles.com for more on this series as it becomes available.

-------------

A New Beginning is coming on April 4, 2019. Pre-order today!

Vault of the Celestials is coming in fall 2019.

Captain Marvel Review

Despite the bad roads and hubby having to be on call over the weekend, we made it out of our house to see the latest installment of the MCU.

I had read some reviews prior to going and had read about the issues arising from the lead actress's comments about white male reviewers. So, here I am, a female reviewing the movie. More importantly, a white female who had not read the comics.

The movie started out with a dream/flashback that becomes clearer over the course of the movie until it all finally expands to the truth at the end. That worked well enough. And I didn't feel like this was a female-empowerment movie so much as a man-in-a-woman's-body movie as too many "strong female" stories have become. Unrealistic. But even the men in the movie showed more emotion than the main character.

The movie felt thin to me, like something was missing in the first half. It wasn't until the last half of the movie that I felt more engaged. I thought about it when I couldn't sleep (because life sucks that way for me) and before I took something for that. Here's what I realized about the movie:

In the effort to have a "strong female", the writer missed an important factor early in the story--MAKE THE AUDIENCE CARE. I didn't care about anything, except maybe Fury and Coulson, and that's because I had previously been introduced to them as fully-fleshed out characters with a reason to care for them. But Carol Danvers--nope. Two-dimensional. Female in body only. She felt cold in personality. (And that's another thing--strong female does not mean man-with-boobs. It means a woman who gets past her struggles to do what needs to be done and who isn't afraid to show emotion or even to let others take care of her. We all need to let someone care about us at some point so we can take care of ourselves. That's not weakness. That's inner strength--the confidence to let others see the vulnerabilities inside.)

And the lead character wasn't the only one with that problem. The Skrulls developed into sympathetic characters but that was totally a switch from the introduction of them. What the writer should have done was introduced some question at the beginning that would have made the audience wonder. Maybe the writer saw it as a plot twist, but I think planting the seed of doubt about the Kree and Skrulls in the audience's mind in the beginning would have given the story a lot more emotional impact and a reason to care about the story throughout the movie.

That reason to care has to come from the very beginning and I just didn't. Besides the character's (or actress's) lack of personality, that was the major problem with this movie. It redeemed itself towards the end, but for most of it, it was just action without any real purpose except... because that's what she was told to do.

The "cat" was an interesting tool too.

Poor writing throughout most of the movie, good production (as expected for Marvel), and decent acting. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars only because 2 is just a little too cruel. MCU set the bar high with previous movies, so my judgment is weighed against that as a guideline.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

New covers for the Luriel Cycle

I've known for some time that I wanted a different look for the Luriel Cycle trilogy. After spending a while trying to figure out what that new look would be, I finally decided. So, after hunting down the right stock images, I was able to put together the three new ebook covers that are going live at retailers.





The concept for a whole series is usually the most difficult. How to make the general design elements fit each story and stay consistent throughout the series is quite a challenge, along with figuring out if my Photoshop skills are up to the task. In this case, they were. I'm very happy with how these turned out.

I like the more general, non-character design of these. 

What do you think?

Monday, March 4, 2019

the homestretch

I'm almost there.

Not only am I nearly finished writing the first draft of Vault of the Celestials, but I am also now wrapping up line edits on A New Beginning. I'm in the homestretch on both in their respective stages of writing.

Available April 4, 2019!

I needed a break from writing Vault of the Celestials, which has been a hot mess for writing because it's so deep into setting the stage for the overarching plot, so I switched gears to the final editing stage of the first of the series. VotC wrote itself out of order as I knew some things and tried to make them work but was lacking one key aspect--suitable conflict. There wasn't enough to make it interesting.

Characters need a conflict to resolve and an emotional attachment that draws a reader in. Those are the basics of a story.

Now that I found the source of conflict for the characters story, the rest finally snapped together like a puzzle. I just need to add in the final scenes that have been outlined to bring it to a satisfying conclusion. Then I can hit the rewrites, because it will need some heavy rewriting!

And once I'm past that degree of writing to graduate to a second draft, I'll feel comfortable deciding when to publish Book 2: The Rule of Yonder. I expect that I'll be ready for that in June. Given the delay in finishing VotC, it will likely be the end of June, because I'll need time to properly edit that also and this first draft of Book 3 is taking longer than expected.

I don't know if any of that made sense. What you can take from that is that Book 1 is in final edits and almost ready for release. Book 2 will be available some time in mid to late June because Book 3 is taking a little longer to sort out than expected.

I can't wait to share the cover of the next book, but not until it's listed for pre-order.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

the rules of writing

I don't participate in online discussions as much as I used to even five years ago. Life has changed.

However, I was interested in a post that someone shared a link to in a new group I joined. It interested me because I use side stories tied to the main story in my Starfire Angels books. Since the Starfire has been through many experiences, they share these to teach. The discussion shared was about flashbacks and time jumping.

It got me thinking, because the OP had questioned using such devices. I remember early in learning to write that the advice was not to use flashbacks because they slow the action of the story. I disagree.

Anything goes in writing, if you can do it well and it makes sense to the story. A skilled writer makes it work for the story. What is that line from Pirates of the Caribbean--something like "Hang the code, and hang the rules! They're more like guidelines anyway." That's how I think about the "rules" of writing.

Every rule can be broken in a way that works, but that takes skill.

The only rules I follow are 1) finish the first draft, 2) editing can improve anything, and 3) if you don't like it, neither will anyone else. I guess those are more like guidelines.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Writing life

Writing a story is quite the adventure in itself, and not only in what happens to the characters. Rather, the process of writing each book is quite an adventure.

That process begins with the pre-writing: noting ideas, maybe even making a full outline, creating character bios (for new characters), synopsizing scenes, etc.

Then, we move on to drafting. That involves the nuts and bolts of what we consider a story: writing out scenes, action, descriptions, dialogue, etc. Basically, telling the story.

Then the rewriting happens. Adjusting dialogue, changing details, adding/taking out lines of dialogue/scenes, sometimes even removing whole scenes and chapters and completely rewriting them from scratch. This is a long process with lots of sulking and contemplation.

Then the editing happens. There are different stages to editing. Rewriting and editing go hand-in-hand. I consider rewriting to be far more than editing, however. To me, editing is the refining work that happens after the major rewrites. Editing is broken down from the content edits at the most extreme, beginning end of the process to copyediting, which is simply the grammar, punctuation, and word usage. By the time that's done, the book should be finished.

The real adventure happens before the editing, when we're sweating blood to make the story work. Vault of the Celestials has been quite the adventure since the beginning. It hasn't been easy, but it's not simply action. This one is more in depth in the characters' psyches. I have some personal issues to resolve for them before they can move into the next stage of their journey. Figuring out how to do that hasn't been easy.

I've completely rewritten the first chapter to give it a literal "Bang!" ... More like a "Crash!" as I mentioned previously. And the second chapter worked much better from a different character point of view than I had originally written it. By the time I got into the third chapter, I had a better idea of how to make this story work, but I still hit a bump in the road a couple chapters later. That's when I realized that I had it all wrong.

Once I took out what I thought needed to be done and followed where the story was leading me, everything flowed again... like a mountain stream! It poured through my fingers to the keyboard. Yesterday, I wrote a whole 2,500 word chapter in one sitting! It was a wonderful feeling. And later, I picked up and could have written another chapter, except that it was late and I needed to get to bed.

Today, I'll pick up where I left off, but each day brings a new mindset. Today, I was in the mind to change one little detail on a different book, a detail that has been bothering me since it could be misconstrued as a symbol of our modern politics, even though the story is set in a parallel world with totally different politics. All the updates are uploaded now, so that detail will be gone. No one said anything, but I didn't want anyone making judgments one way or the other, especially those I agree with! I write about made up worlds and just do whatever works in the story. What I had works, but my audience lives in this world, and that needs to be taken into consideration. It wasn't an issue when I first published the story, but it's become a symbol of politics since then.

With that done and the weight off my mind, I am focused again on this story. I've been making notes about Vault of the Celestials and figuring out what needs to happen to make the story interesting and give it the ending that satisfies the issues presented to the characters at this stage of their journeys. I love problem solving in this way; it's what keeps me excited. I never really know what might happen until the time is right that it's revealed to me.

This is the joy of writing for me--not only the adventure I share with the characters, the personalities on the page, but also the adventure of bringing an idea to life in a way that means something to readers.

Next month, I'll reveal the cover for The Rule of Yonder when pre-orders become available. Look for that book in June.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mark your calendar for a book release blog party!

That's right! APRIL 4, 2019 is a date to mark down. All afternoon and evening I will be on this blog, starting with a book release blog party post. I will be glad to answer all questions about writing, books, publishing, and Starfire Angels and the new book, A NEW BEGINNING.

I've been posting about it regularly for the last several months but I've made it official on Goodreads. I'm having a blog party to celebrate the release of the first book of the new series. By then, I expect to be writing the fourth book.

You're all invited! Mark your calendar, set a reminder, do whatever it takes and be sure to stop by for virtual drinks and treats and leave a comment.

I'm looking forward to seeing you back here!


Monday, February 11, 2019

Another boxed set!

At last! The Legend of the White Dragon will finally have a complete boxed set of all 5 books:

PROPHECY
LEGENDS
FIREBLOOD
LEGACIES
DESTINY

It is going live as we speak with the new cover art and 3D art, which I can finally reveal.


Artwork by Paul Davies 

Now, you'll have the option of enjoying the individual covers by Paul Davies and/or the new artwork that he has so skillfully painted for this series. You can view more of his talent at http://www.pdportraits.co.uk/

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Progress on Book 3: Vault of the Celestials

It's been a great weekend for writing. I've been extremely focused and creative this past weekend.

I'd already had a good start on Vault of the Celestials while editing A New Beginning at the end of January. However, it had been slow starting with the first chapter completely rewritten and the second rewritten to a different character's POV. By the time I started the third chapter, I was starting to get a feel for this story but still had some rewriting until I figured out where to take it next to get where I really wanted to go. Once I had that, I coasted.

I've had to rewrite the first chapter of two of each of the books so far, but I do what is necessary to make the story interesting. This rewrite was smashing... literally. You'll see in the fall. Take my word for it now.

This past weekend, I think I wrote 6,000 words to reach 16,500 as of this post, with an expected end of the first draft somewhere between 35-50,000 words total. I just don't know yet where this will fall exactly. It's different than the first two books of the series.

Each story has a bit of a different feel, depending on the situation. It is episodic but has an overarching plot that can easily get stretched out with whatever I have in mind for my characters. That means that each story can be whatever it needs to be, and I do like variety. It keeps the writing interesting for me.

That's where I am now. I'm still enjoying it; actually, maybe too much. This is such a fun series to write!

Book 1, A New Beginning,  is the introduction with its own story but also introduces the overarching plot and purpose for the series.

Book 2, The Rule of Yonder, is a fun, super fast-paced romp that adds a little to the overarching plot but is mostly just something fun that expands the expectations of the universe and establishes some background.

Book 3, Vault of the Celestials, gets deep into the overarching plot by digging into one of the characters in the group and providing a basis of what can be expected in the mission of the main character.

Book 4 will be another fun romp outside the main mission but also will tie in to the overarching plot. I will always have some part of the larger plot tossed in.

Book 5 is still not quite gelled enough to say much.

Beyond book 5 is bits and pieces, but I have ideas through what could easily be ten books. That will grow!

And I am building my encyclopedia for the world as I go, adding species, governments, places, technologies, and even common phrases.

I hope you're getting as excited to read this series as I am to write it.

A NEW BEGINNING will be available April 4, 2019. Pre-order today from you favorite ebook retailer.


For more information and purchase links from major retailers, click on the link below:
http://starfireangels.melanienilles.com/a-new-beginning.htm

Saturday, February 2, 2019

a break in the polar vortex

Horses
After the deep subzero temps brought to us this past week compliments of Canada, we had a break in our weather the past two days. More frigid air is expected, this time bringing with it a winter storm beginning tomorrow.

I took the chance offered by the mini-break in the winter weather to visit Buddy and found the horses enjoying their hay in more ways than eating it, as you can see here. Buddy was smart and laid in the straw that was also provided for a place to sleep rather than the snow or hay, but his friend Bucket isn't so smart.

(I don't know why the gray is named Bucket, but he's my sister's favorite horse and a dork.)


I was holding Buddy next to me when I took this with the other big horse on his other side, so they're not in this pic.

Writing
The long drives out to the farm are great for my creativity too--I can't do anything but drive and think. I usually focus on my writing. The time on boring interstate and quiet state highways always unlocks any issues I might be having and jumpstarts the writing. And today, that not only meant fixing something in Book 2 of Forgotten Worlds that might have conflicted with a later book, but it also let my mind work on some other ideas.

I came home and pretty much have planned out Books 4 and 5 while editing Book 1 and writing Book 3. Sometimes this series really gets me excited and then I see that I have SO MANY ideas that I feel like I will never finish it. I'm finally letting myself be free to develop any idea that comes my way, because I can fit it into this series in some shape or form. The possibilities are almost limitless, so I can go hog-wild with my imagination on this (within the rules of the universe I've established).

It was a nice break from the cold, although not nearly as nice as yesterday, when I finally shoveled the walkway to the front door. I've been paying for that all day with sore muscles, especially my back.

That's all I have for now. Don't forget to check out my books listed in the sidebar of this blog.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Short update on new book

I'm still editing A New Beginning. It's growing smoother and also more consistent with the following books. The first is always the most difficult.

I'm glad that I started writing the third book before publishing this one, because I am still learning about this world and making alterations. I've incorporated some of those discoveries in the first book by modifying some small details. I want this series to be as consistent as possible throughout. To that end, I may just stick to writing two books ahead of what I publish in the series.

As for the regular editing process, I've updated the files so that the samples on the retail sites are the best so far. Art is never finished--we will always be our own worst critics--but we can strive for it.

I will continue with even more editing until this meets my expectations, alternating with writing book 3. And then I'll do the same with book 2 and so on.

Writing is a process. The first steps is getting my ideas down in notes and outlines, then writing the first draft, then rewriting many times until the story that I had imagined shines through. And, because these are short, I can write them and publish more frequently without feeling rushed.

A New Beginning will be released on April 4, 2019 only as an ebook. Order now from most ebook retailers--Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A nice winter day?!

If you can call 10 F that "feels like" -6 F nice, then, yeah, it was a nice day.

After a brief morning snowfall, the sun came out. Although the morning temperature and breeze were higher, the afternoon turned sunny and calm. It's the wind that gets you!

I hadn't seen my Buddy in two weeks and was overdue for a horse fix. I also missed visiting with my family. I thought I could try going out earlier in the day, but the interstate was slippery and I started fish-tailing before getting too far, so I turned back disappointed.

But after the sun was out for a while and I'd eaten lunch, I was feeling more confident and suspected that the roads might be better. They were. The sun had helped melt away the ice and I drove out to the farm on this cold but nice winter day. All bundled up, I stayed warm on my walk out in the pasture to bring my boy up to the barn. Inside the old barn, I gave him his supplements and the little bit of sweet feed that helps the medicine go down. Vitamin E is invaluable for him, especially for muscle recovery when he's out in the cold weather. A little SmartGut Ultra doesn't hurt either.

Nature has certainly upped the ante on the weather tolerance. My boy has finally become a fluffball:


He could get fluffier, but I'm glad to see that he has this much. He and his herd were playing when I walked out to catch him, so that was good to see also, as was the belly he's keeping through this time, the coldest period of our winters--January and February. He's doing well, but I still feel guilty when I don't get out to check on him.  Spring is going to be a pain, though--a lot of that hair ends up on me.

But for now, I'm happy because Buddy is happy, even if he's "roughing it". I've learned that the best care for a horse physically and mentally is what is natural to them. He has a pretty good life!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Writing the next book

I'm back to writing mode. Editing on Books 1 and 2 of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds is done for the latest rounds. They're getting more refined with each pass and as I consider the future of the series.

In writing this series, I've had SO MANY ideas for future books and scenes and setting that I've had to go back to the first two and change a few things so that, while there are hints of what's to come, what direction the series will take, and what the purpose is, it's not specific enough to create a contradiction later. I tend to want to give away what I know now. That may be different to what develops later. I am adjusting for that also in my editing.

Things change as a series grows and develops, which is why I am waiting with releasing the first two books of this series until after I have at least the third written. I've learned that much over the years of writing, and I believe that experience will make this series that much better.

Just as my current horse, Buddy, has benefitted from all my my cumulative years of learning and refining my use of various horse training disciplines and techniques and adjusting to different types of horses and my knowledge of horse healthcare, nutrition, hoofcare, etc., so too does my writing presently benefit from all of my cumulative knowledge of character development, worldbuilding, points of view, series development, working with different lengths of stories, etc. from many years of dedication to the craft. I love a challenge. I've done many different types of stories, just as I've worked with a variety of horse breeds and personalities. Every variation improves my knowledge and hones my skills. What keeps me going is challenging myself and working through problems to find the right solution.

Now, getting older and dealing with life changes presents a set of other challenges that makes everything more difficult, but I'm determined to keep going and to do what it takes.

And as far as this series goes, I am writing it because it is what I want. I've said before that this series was developed to be what the old science fiction television programs were back in the 90's and early 2000's--fun, light, adventurous, and thought-provoking without the graphic sex and gore and grimness of current program styles. I'm writing what I would want to watch as a series, which is why they are shorter books (episodes) than the typical long novel series, one of which could produce a whole season's worth of television (ie Game of Thrones).

I think you'll like what I have to offer in this. The first book, A New Beginning is now available for pre-order from all the major retailers, including Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo for the first-in-series price of only $0.99 (USD).

I'll reveal the cover of Book 2, The Rule of Yonder, when that goes up for pre-order. I expect that to be revealed around the end of February with a release date in mid-late May.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A New Beginning - cover reveal and blurb!

The latest book is almost ready! I'm going to give myself some time, however, to make any changes that it might yet need.

I am planning on April 4, 2019 as a release date for this short novel. So, as I've been promising, here--at last!--is the cover and blurb:

A NEW BEGINNING
(Starfire Angels: Forgotton Worlds 1)

On a remote mining station, Nyalin hides a secret that would make her a hunted woman—she is a Crystal Keeper, a protector of a shard of the powerful Starfire crystal. However, when a strange shuttle falls through a portal near the mining station, she can no longer avoid her responsibilities. The human pilot, Vellin, is part of a research team that has developed gateways for instant travel anywhere in the universe without requiring a Starfire crystal, and he has been followed by an enemy through the portal.

To stop dangerous forces from possessing the gateways to spread destruction, Nya must team up with Vel and risk exposing her secret. In their race to destroy the gateways, they will find allies and enemies... and a new reason to worry.

--------

It will be available for pre-order at Amazon soon. I will work on getting it up on other ebook retailers also.

First-in-series price: $0.99!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Cows? What cows?


Yesterday was a beautiful winter day to check on Buddy. The weaned calves were crowded around the water tank, and then Buddy gave me the perfect look with them in the background when I tried to get him to pose for a pic.

He's doing well this winter on the farm. I wish he'd grow a heavier coat, but it's appropriate for this winter. I've seen a heavier coat on him, but apparently his body is giving him just what he needs. He's in good condition, not underweight or in any hardship. Nature is amazing.

Spring will soon be here. Riding season. Then we'll start working the cattle from the saddle. That will be interesting. He will be a working cowhorse yet!



Monday, January 7, 2019

prize drawing

I have covers ready for the first three Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds books and love the cover style for this series. I hope to reveal the first cover in the next couple of weeks, along with the description of the story.

In the meantime, check out some free and low-priced ebooks, including the first Starfire Angels ebook, and enter to win a $100 reader gift basket (7" Kindle Fire, Reader mug, and $25 Amazon eGift Card) through the end of this month at https://www.thekindlebookreview.net/january-meet-greet-giveaway/ .

Sunday, January 6, 2019

a health summary -- LONG POST

If you're only reading this blog for information on my writing, you might want to skip this post. It is a long story full of honesty that you may not want to know.

I'm going to say something about my health journey. I am documenting this in the hopes that others who have dealt with similar issues or who are dealing with them can maybe find some guidance from my experiences. I write these posts because I had to do a lot of searching and because there was nothing providing the solutions for me; all I could do was pray, research, and experiment on myself. I've written about them before, but things are different now; I have resolved most of my issues that plagued me for the last several years, some even longer.

All I wanted was to feel good.

I can't describe the frustration and the misery I've suffered, because doctors told me I had IBS and I needed to take antacids or that what I was experiencing was all in my head, so they prescribed anti-anxiety medications and/or anti-depressants. And all the naturopaths were into the latest methylation knowledge. The doctors were the worst, which was why I was seeking alternative medicine and, while helpful, it didn't have the answers either. I ended up helping myself by researching and guiding the people with the medical degrees to the root cause.

We have to be our own advocates. We live in our bodies 24/7/365 and can't take a break, and no one medical professional has all the answers. In fact, none of them are infallible, nor can they read minds. They can only work with what we give them. And do NOT ever let them tell you it's all in your head! When that happens, walk away and never return! There is a reason it is in your head, but that is likely not where the problem originates. So, keep digging, keep researching, keep pushing until you find someone who listens and digs to the root of the problem. Follow the symptoms, keep a journal, and keep copies of all medical tests.

I dumped my primary care physician who told me it was all in my head. He failed me. He could have stopped the problems before they ever exploded into the mess that they became.

Down the rabbit hole

Everything erupted in April 2015 with symptoms that started in my head--dizziness, anxiety, foggy brain (don't know how I managed to get to work, much less got anything done), and a strong feeling that I should kill myself. I didn't want to, but something weird was going on, and it worried me enough that I went to the ER a couple of times. I knew there was something wrong in my body, because this was so unusual for me. I had just come off of a winter with strange bowel symptoms and then had a cold. Right after the cold, I had this explosion of symptoms. After a week of this, I went gluten-free, thinking maybe after all the bowel symptoms that was the answer. It helped, but not fully (and as I've learned since, it may not have been the gluten but something else in those products).

I followed up after the first ER visit with my regular women's nurse practitioner, who ordered some bloodwork that all looked okay. I also went to see my PCP (the jerk who in that visit told me it was anxiety and all in my head.). Anyway, because of my bowel issues over the winter and some family history with other issues, he ordered some tests, which of course came up negative. If there was celiac disease, I had been off gluten for a month, so there wasn't likely to be anything. And he quit there when he should have dug deeper. The real answer was more stealthy but quite common.

Throughout the summer, I continued to look for answers, exploring dietary restrictions. I thought maybe it was histamine intolerance but that was hard to determine. I did get my PCP to run a full thyroid panel, which revealed elevated TPO antibodies and a climbing TSH, both of which he discounted. (One of my brothers had Graves Disease.) The Hashimoto's symptoms were there, however, and still are. That will always be a part of my life. During that summer, I also experimented with new foods to make up for the ones I had removed from my diet, which was a good thing--I discovered some new favorites. However, I also embraced the autoimmune diet, which proved to be flawed. It caused more problems than it solved in the long run. (Search for "oral intolerance" for more information on the problems that restrictive diets can cause.) Sometime in 2016, I abandoned that but was still careful about how I ate.

So, I knew I had a thyroid issue, even if my PCP didn't believe it. Because of his resistance to helping me and my continuing slide into feeling worse, I sought out alternative medicine.

That's when I tried the naturopath. She did muscle memory stuff, which I'm not sure I believe in. It was interesting to experience. She also suggested some strong supplements. We did a candida supplement, which didn't hurt anything (I had been a sugarholic before my health crash). And she recommended L-5-MTHF aka methylfolate, or the active form of B9. That's when things went from tolerable to worse. My sleep crashed, and soon, I started feeling like I couldn't get enough air and had to yawn more frequently and/or take frequent deep breaths just for that one satisfying breath. If you've never experienced this, count your blessings! It is a miserable sensation. The term "air hunger" is the closest way to describe it.

I then had one of the worst winters of my life. By January of the new year, I was sleeping only 3 hours of every 48. That's when things got dire for me. After a month, I quit the supplements and got some sleep help. I didn't get much sleep, but a few hours every night was better than a few every other night.

By this time, I had given up on the naturopath and found a new medical professional, a nurse practitioner at an independent clinic for women. We did all sorts of testing and hormone balancing, which helped a little but not enough. And we continued to monitor my thyroid. By then, my thyroid hormones were completely off with FT3 high and FT4 low with TSH unreliable at best. One thing I found in researching the cause for that was liver issues, but my CBC tests always came back with good levels of everything, except the high eosinophils (usually at or just above the high end of the lab range), which can be part of autoimmune diseases (Hashimoto's in my case).

We tried different supplements through all this and found that I was super sensitive to everything, which can be an indicator of underlying liver issues. Lab tests didn't show any liver problems though.

I also tried visiting a specialist for the sleep, a pulmonologist. Because of the air hunger (and a family history of COPD), he suspected asthma. The inhaler did NOTHING for me. But he was the first doctor to notice the faint yellowing of my skin--my bilirubin has been in the upper end of the range on every CBC the last few years. I had asked a couple of the medical professionals about that before and they shrugged it off.

Pieces start coming together

I love my NP--she's great--and I still use her as my primary care provider. However, someone had suggested another integrative medicine clinic to me, so I tried them. They also did a lot of different testing and we found some things, which I coordinated with the NP.

I had complained to the integrative clinic in spring 2017 about the regular dull ache in my lower right ribs, so they ordered an ultrasound to check for gallstones. That found none. That pain had been there for several years and had been getting more regular. I had already given up pizza and pasta before 2015 because of what had been diagnosed as IBS (severe abdominal pain with diarrhea that got so bad after certain foods that I couldn't eat those things anymore, and sometimes other foods).  That had grown worse over the years since my mid 30's, along with the occasional chest pain, which always scares the doctors into chest x-rays to check the heart--I've been perfectly healthy. That was just another clue of the real problem.

By late spring 2017, the integrative physician prescribed levothyroxine. That helped tremendously, but it didn't totally resolve all my issues. Nevertheless, I felt so much better as my FT4 levels came up with slowly increasing doses. Yet my FT3 levels also continued to go up, even above range. Something weird was going on.

Although sleep was much improved on levothyroxine, it still wasn't great. And I continued to have that darned air hunger. Every time I thought I had it figured out, it would come back. And finding the right dose of levothyroxine was such a balancing act, but they let me figure out what worked based on my symptoms. It was never stable, though.

The picture becomes clear

Fast forward a year and other pains that had been sporadic started becoming regular--the pain in my lower right ribs, pain between my shoulder blades, nausea, bloating, etc. Some of my symptoms were no longer as bad as they had once been--I don't know if my body had just adapted or changing my diet had helped that much. The problems grew worse over the summer and when I told my NP, she suggested a HIDA scan. That revealed the source of years of problems--a low functioning gallbladder. Actually, almost non-functioning by then! It was that bad after all that time. The signs had been there all along but had been ignored.

I didn't wait but took her referral for the the surgeon and got that thing removed ASAP. In early October, that sucker came out! What a relief it turned out to be! I recovered quickly--walking slowly the day after surgery to work out the gas pumped into me for the laparoscopic removal, no pain meds needed, and back at work in less than a week. The day after surgery, my head was clearer than it had been in a long time, I started sleeping better, even without sleep meds. I also have had to wean off/ down to a low dose of the levothyroxine (still figuring that out). I can only speculate that the backed up bile was causing some damage to the liver that imbalanced the thyroid (hormone sensors not working and over-converting to FT3?) and caused holy hell on how I felt all over.

While the air hunger improved, it wasn't completely gone, and then I was also having symptoms of reflux. But I was able to eat a lot more foods again. I had had reflux off and on for years. I never realized until researching and learning that it was as easy to correct as bringing my calcium levels up.  However, I had problems with that too, until I found a magnesium complex and took that regularly. (Calcium was overstimulating until I balanced it with magnesium.) One more problem solved. I couldn't take magnesium without problems until that gallbladder was out.

Because sleep has still been an issue to some degree, I experimented with supplements and found that a moderate dose of B6 in the morning with a small amount of B12 and B2 really help perk me up during the day and wind down at night. I was slowly adding the B's back. And that's how I discovered the truth--B1.

Things started to gradually improve, starting with my sleep. I tried other things at the same time that I thought were helping but not consistently. So, I increased B1, and my health continued to improve, including the diminishing of the wretched air hunger feeling, although it took a few weeks. I can now breathe without that feeling like I'm not getting enough air, although there are certain foods and supplements that can still affect that but to much lesser degrees than before, and even that is going away. I suspect the link there is that the anti-nutrients in the trigger foods are those that block thiamine usage by the body; getting my levels up and my body healed seems to be eliminating that problem. I had given up gluten products, and those are usually fortified, and I wasn't eating much of other sources of this necessary vitamin. This is one reason why a balanced diet is much more important than a restrictive diet (although dairy definitely bothers me and grains are iffy). I also feel that methylation (methionine-based) protocols aren't right for everyone, even those with the mutations that reduce those processes. While I'd had increasing anxiety issues over the years, the air hunger didn't really start until soon after I had started taking the methylfolate form of B9, but I had been on a restrictive diet for several months by then. Nevertheless, hey are still too much for me now--too stimulating.

So, I have gotten to the root of all those issues that came up over the last few years, peeling away the layers of added problems and getting to the root--the gallbladder. While I am upset to think that my idiot PCP could have taken care of that long ago, before all the other problems and could have saved me lots of $$ in medical expenses searching for relief, I have learned a lot over the course of this journey that I can pass on to others.

Now, my only health problem is that I am a middle-aged female with Hashimoto's. I can deal with that. (And here's another tip I've learned from experience -- Vitamin D's link to autoimmune disease may be misinterpreted. See https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/arf-vdm040809.php for an explanation of why I probably don't feel good taking much of it--After a few days in a row, I feel like my autoimmunity is flaring up rather than settling down.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

2019 is here!

The last year went fast for me with all the changes in my life, particularly in my health. Better health also brought more writing.

The results of that will come to fruition in this year. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have three books ready for the beginning of this year--a boxed set of the Legend of the White Dragon: The Complete Series and the first two books of the new series, Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds.

Throughout 2019, I hope to release three more Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds books, provided my writing pace on these holds out.

I also have the third book outlined. That came to me on a drive out to my parents to check on Buddy.

About Buddy--He's huddling with his little herd out in the pasture around a bale. I took some free-feeding supplement tubs out for the herd, mostly so that Buddy gets the nutrients he's lacking, which I've been trying to supplement (but can only give once a week). However, my family is not a horse family. They are a cattle family who understands little about horses. I'm amazed that none of the horses in my lifetime have ever colicked with the winter situation in the pasture. Yet I know of very nice boarding barns where they get colic cases and have all the amenities a person could want for their horse. I guess it goes to prove that horses in a natural state fare much better. We also never had any cases of RAO or COPD in our horses while horses in boarding situations always seem to have issues, and Buddy's hooves are much healthier out at the farm too. I'm the one who dislikes the lack of amenities (insulated barn with high ceiling and wide aisles, wash area, etc.), and the distance. (ps--yes, I'm complaining but trying to make the most of my current horsekeeping situation, but only because I know better than I did when I was younger.)

Although I have a drive to the farm (100 miles roundtrip), I get a lot accomplished while doing nothing. It gives me a LOT of time to just think. I clear my head of nonsense and focus on my writing. On this latest visit, I worked on the third SA:FW book. By the time I arrived at my destination, I had to make some notes. Then, I took the kids out to the snowy pasture with their sleds. While they burned off energy, I sat in the pickup and opened a document on my phone. The creativity soared, and in the hour that the kids exhausted themselves physically, I exhausted myself creatively with a full outline for book 3, tentatively titled Vault of the Celestials.

This year, I will be working exclusively on Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds. It's a fun series that takes my love of science fiction to where I always wanted to go. I've set up a world in which I can take all my unpublished ideas and incorporate them. This is very satisfying for me. I feel like I am fulfilling my dream with this series. And writing, for me, is about the pleasure of story-telling and challenging myself first and foremost. If other people enjoy going into my imagination as much as I do, that's icing on the cake.

I plan to enjoy 2019 with new adventures in real life and in my imagination. I hope you'll stay with me through it all and HAVE A GREAT YEAR!