I’ve set a date for the fourth Livi novel:
August 27, 2019Read more for preorder links
I’ve set a date for the fourth Livi novel:
August 27, 2019Read more for preorder links
I really love the movie Arrival.
I saw it at just the right time for me, when I really needed it, and bawled in the theatre. I have seen it a couple of times since and it always leaves me with that duality of ache and comfort only truth can bring.
If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?
It’s something I think about a lot. So it was the movie I watched last night when I came home from the vet without little Gus.
He was fine Friday night. And I swear if any other foster said that a kitten was fine the day before he went into heart failure, I would’ve called them a liar (and a few other choice words). But I have videos and photos of him wrestling and playing that night, and we FaceTimed with Auntie Dina and spouse. I put him to bed around 2:30am and seven hours later he was dying.
Congenital heart problems. Nothing I did. Nothing that could be done.
That is very hard for me to admit because I’m always looking for how something could be my fault. Most people want to escape culpability; I’m always trying to find how I am responsible so I can learn and do better next time. But I’ve been over it from every angle and I can, for once, confidently say I did everything right.
He was fine and then he wasn’t.
I thought we were past that point–I was expecting to see congenital problems around 5-6 weeks, not at 8. He was seen by a vet two days earlier who listened to his heart and lungs (with kittens being so small, it can be hard to tell without an xray, though). He never showed signs of tiring more easily than his brother. I’ve been on the edge every moment of these kittens’ lives, searching for every hint of a problem, and yet I did not see this coming.
He should not have lived this long. This is why he struggled to eat and latch–if his mother had lived, he would’ve died in those first few days (and been kicked out of the litter as soon as she sensed something was wrong). I am still baffled how I kept him alive this long.
Only living eight weeks (and three days) does not change the fact that he was a literal miracle kitten–this just confirms it.
Exactly two months before he died, when he was three days old, I thought I was going to have to tube-feed him because he struggled to latch and wouldn’t eat much–he actually lost two grams in the first twelve hours I’d had him. So I went to pick up supplies at the only local vet that was open.
As detailed here, that vet–with a history in shelter medicine–said the only reasons not to euthanize orphaned neonates was that it was hard on staff and optics with the public. “There’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing” he tried to assure me, but then said “there’s nothing wrong with the other choice as well.” (The other choice being to kill them without giving them a chance.)
So I’m thinking about Arrival and that moment. A lot.
I’m thinking about whether I would’ve made a different choice if I knew then what I know now. If you’d told me his little heart isn’t normal and that he’ll only live for eight weeks, whether I would’ve chosen euthanasia then or not.
Here’s what it comes down to: if you’d said those eight weeks would be filled with pain and suffering? Yes, yes I would’ve chosen not to put him through that.
But eight weeks of joy? Eight weeks of getting to grow and play and bonding with his brother? Eight weeks of comfort and laughter and love? Eight weeks of having people all over the world cheering every milestone while I clung to ever moment he thrived? Eight weeks of him being a little devil child getting into mischief and being a normal kitten?
There is no choice to make.
People from all over the planet watched his journey with his brother. They witnessed every milestone and every anxiety I had. After a rough day–and I don’t know people’s circumstances except the universal truth that this world is garbage–folks could log on and see my boys playing and hear of their antics. Gus brightened the lives of people he never met just by living and thriving for those eight weeks.
Though their milestones were late, Gus was the first to purr. The first to open his eyes. The first to walk. The first to groom himself. The first to play. The first to figure out how to get off the bed. He helped his brother along and taught him how to cat. Although cautious when it came to exploring, he loved to climb up high on pillows and tease his brother Shawn, who could not figure out how he got up there. Friday night he tried darting out the bedroom door every time it opened so he could explore the kitchen.
Gus was the one who always wanted to come up and snuggle on my chest and purr in my ear (and eat my hair). When I had Shawn on my lap, Gus would let out a little cry and give me the sad “everyone’s hanging out without me” face and come trundling over, or come to the edge of the bed and holler for me to pick him up.
In new situations or when meeting new people, he wanted to come right back to me and cuddle in my arms. When his brother cried, he was there to comfort him (and vice versa).
Gus was the instigator of trouble–although Shawn is a wild child, it was Gus who would pick on him and get him to wrestle, even when his brother just wanted to sleep. He still nuzzled and looked for his bottle with me when he was sleepy, and he loved cuddling in with my old kidney cat Reuben.
I have never been happier in my entire life than when taking care of these kittens. Part of it is the way trauma has structured my brain, probably, but as terrifying as the first few weeks were, that hyper vigilance when they were my whole world was almost meditative.
Shawn and Gus helped me believe in miracles and brought me hope. I think they’ve done that for a lot of people. And losing Gus now doesn’t take away from what he gave to the world, as much as this hurts now.
No kitten was loved more than him. So is his impact in the world any less because his life was so short? I don’t think so. Is he somehow worth less than a cat who has lived to eighteen years instead of eight weeks? No. Does his death undo any of the love everyone had for him or how hard I worked to help him survive? Absolutely not.
And for everyone taking his death personally, I think that’s the right thing to do–it IS personal.
There are no regrets here, and I maintain that vet’s assessment of these tiny lives only being worth saving for “optics” is wrong. The lack of permanence life has does not make it worth any less. The fragility of it does not take away joy.
If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?
No, I would not. I would go back and embrace those eight weeks again and again despite the pain now.
Because a thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.
Because a life isn’t worth any less because it’s brief.
Because Gus mattered and had an impact on the world, and that would be true even if the only person who ever knew his story had been me.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
When we last left our heroine…*checks*…oh, I’d sold a bunch of books over New Year’s. Sales were really good in January and February. They’ve dropped again now that those folks have caught up with the series (except at Kobo–love you, Kobo!), but I’ve picked up new readers excited about more Livi and who have joined Patreon. So that is amazing, and if you’re new around here, welcome! Please tell a friend or seven!
The first Livi boxset is available–this contains Solomon’s Seal, Odin’s Spear, Ashford’s Ghost (novella), Emperor’s Tomb.
I’ve also set for re-release some of Aunt Judy’s books–Teacher’s Pet and Love by the Pound, two of her first books, are up for preorder. I recovered Big Fat Lies and Second Chances: Jack and Gillian with more traditional romance covers, which I think would please her.
Of her stuff, I think I still have a couple of novellas, and her novel Lady Blue left to release.
If you’re tired of me killing and torturing characters, check out her romances! They will not break your heart, as I am wont to do, but as her literary heir, I make full royalties.
Livi #5 is once again in progress–I took a break because kittens–and it’s now up to 50K. I’m maybe at the halfway mark? There’s a lot of filling in to do but it’s coming along. While #4 is a game changer, #5 is what starts to set Livi on her path/mission/calling/whatever you want to call it.
ICYMI buried in the post a few days ago, here’s the look at the covers for the first six, all in a row.
Research for #6 is in progress, but I will likely need a break to let it percolate some. There are books beyond that, they just don’t have titles yet.
Also in progress, as announced last time, is the Waverly Jones mystery series. What was going to be a fairly simple thing I knocked out between Livi books has, of course, gotten a lot more complicated, and I’m actually sort of plotting properly with recipe cards and everything instead of leaving the tangles in my head.
Or, okay, I’m learning to plot before I can actually plot, and yes, I’ve written like forty books without plotting, and keep everything in my head. My brain is a very busy place. Stop judging me.
New Livi novella this month! King’s Bounty is swinging your way in just over two weeks.
It’s not always whirlwind international danger and adventures for single mom and treasure hunter Livi Talbot—this time, fun’s a little closer to home when she accepts a blind date set up by her brother. A perfect storm leaves her without a babysitter—at least until Dale West arrives at her door and is willing to watch her daughter for a few hours.
But even the nicest evening out can take a sharp downturn fast: Livi and her date are abducted, bound, and dragged to an abandoned farmhouse outside of the city.
No one is coming to save her.
Her date isn’t much help.
And the kidnappers? Well, they’re merely henchmen. The real boss is on their way—and Livi’s not sure she’ll survive long after they arrive.
For Livi Talbot, of course even an ordinary first date is going to end badly.
I didn’t actually have much of a soundtrack for this one, so I’ll be skipping Soundtrack Sunday, but this was the theme for the epilogue (with a bit of this one thrown in for West):
In addition to the kidnapping and West POV babysitting, in King’s Bounty you get:
After that…I think we will be looking at Shiva’s Bow releasing in August. I will probably decide that next month and, if that’s what I go with, I’ll have preorder links as soon as I set a date.
Prepare yourselves, boys and girls.
This is why I don’t write romance–it takes four fucking novels for anyone to kiss, I’ll have gray hair by the time they finally bang.
Waverly Jones should start in the back half the year–now that I’ve committed to plotting, I suspect writing will actually be easier with, like, all this shit in place so I don’t get halfway through and get hit over the head with information I should’ve had at the beginning. *cough*Emperor’s Tomb*cough*
Happy reading! I hope you like King’s Bounty! (Don’t tell me if you don’t!)
(This is not even remotely an April Fool’s* post, I just happen to be writing it on April 1, so don’t worry.)
So a week with the new site seems to be going well. Everything’s faster, I can smoothly run malware scans, and everything appears to be fine. I’d attributed so many previous problems just to my website–that my theme was slow, that I created problems when I tweaked some of the files, but it looks like it was all previous host issues.
When I wrote to them, by the way, about canceling my account, I got multiple emails back, the last one clearly having read my complaints, the previous ticket chain, and said my email would be used going forward to teach about customer service, blah blah. Do I believe it? No. But at least my complaint was escalated to some supervisors seeing it and maybe, just maybe, the next person will be taken a little more seriously when they say they’re going to leave.
Changing hosts was something on my massive mental to-do list.
I like lists. I feel good when I cross things off of them. Although I don’t have ADHD, I do have some things in common when it comes to organization and struggling with executive dysfunction, which is common with bipolar disorder as well. I make a monthly work to-do list, and then have a weekly calendar where I break it down (only a few days ahead, I can’t overplan). I also do lists when housework piles up.**
For me, the benefit of a list is that it both gives actionable steps I can follow that are less daunting and more manageable than a large task, and because crossing items off gives me some tangible sense that I’ve done something. It’s very challenging when you face a large, overwhelming task and seem to be making no movement.
My kittens are almost seven weeks old now, so no more bottle (although they look for one), and they use the litter and eat on their own. The last few weeks have been trying to regain some semblance of order in my home and life, and catching up with my work schedule while trying to avoid burnout.
So everywhere around me is something to do. Beyond the usual daily tasks are the larger ones–literally everywhere I look, I see something I think I have to put on the list.
Tonight I did that list. Household chores that I’ve been avoiding, or that I forget about as soon as I’m in a different room. If I can tackle a couple a day, that should help.
I have a second foster, Libby, who’s been here since last fall. She’s the unique young cat who has had weird, early onset illnesses since she was three months old, and I’ve been at my wit’s end trying to get it sorted out. Her story is less inspiring and cutesy and fun to talk about compared to my boys, but her life isn’t worth any less, no matter the long-term headache.
A huge problem, though, has been that I have limited, varying mental spoons to work with having bipolar disorder. Taking the initiative to clean is tough for me. Following through without getting distracted is tough for me. Depending on where my mood is, sometimes it’s downright impossible (if you don’t know chronic depression, basically it feels like the floor is lava and some things are impossible to make yourself do).
Basically, if I have three spoons to go towards cleaning, one goes to litter boxes, one goes dishes, one goes to other misc stuff–getting the garbage out on Wednesday, doing a load of laundry, running the vacuum over the floor, cleaning the bathroom.
With Libby, she ends up taking a whole spoon of her own, sometimes two when she’s going through weeks of fecal incontinence. Doing litter boxes is non-negotiable, but that leaves the dishes piling up, laundry piling up, etc. If I try to do more, I have to take spoons from another area–from work, for example, which I can’t afford to do.
It’s not sustainable for me. We’re trying to get her diagnosed so she has a hope of being adopted, because I am exhausted with trying to deal with this. A good number of things on the massive to-do list are there because I just haven’t gotten to them with her.
I can’t fault her for it–she’s like the babies, she’s not doing anything intentionally. But my kingdom for a biweekly housekeeper at this point.
Livi 5 is back in progress–it was derailed when I took on the kittens. Want an idea of why? Here you go:
I still have a lot of freelance work so I write a couple thousand words usually at night, but I’m at about 48K of the zero draft (which will be…100K, maybe? I’ve skipped some scenes and a lot of the description, so it’ll probably be 110K-115K when I fill stuff in later). I should be done next month, but…
Well, April never goes well for me. For a lot of reasons–personal ones I won’t get into–in addition to Sophie dying April of last year (I can’t believe it’s been a year without her). April 30th is a very dark anniversary for me, and this year it will mark being alive for four more years than I particularly wanted to be. Or want to be, still. I’ve gotten that far one day at a time–sometimes one minute at a time–and if nothing else, at least I’ve been here to save some kittens. I am not presently in danger, but there remains a ticking clock over my head; while that worries some people who care about me, it personally helps me to remember that being here is a choice and one day I will have had enough and that’s okay–it’ll be a relief.
That day is not today, though–I have stories to write.
Like Livi 5. If the zero draft is completed in May, I will probably set Shiva’s Bow–Livi 4–to come out around August, and the fifth book toward the end of the year or early next (depending on how revisions go).
Those book sales in January got a lot of new eyes on the series who seem to dig the books, and my genuine thanks to everyone who has come on board with Livi and co. And new Patrons, as well, which has been amazing and makes a big difference for me–I’m better able to prioritize those stories because of Patreon. (Which has it’s problems–I’ll speak more about them later, and oh yeah, have to add to the to-do list “duplicate content on Gumroad as an alternative”).
Preliminary research has started for Livi 6, but I will probably switch gears for a few months because I’ll need the break.
Anyway, having made it this far, would you like to see covers of the first six books line up all pretty? Here you go:
With the site more reliable now, I will probably be blogging a bit more often–about what, I’m not sure, but personal stuff dispersed amongst the book news.
Don’t forget the new Livi novella is coming in three more weeks!
*Please consider the whole basis of April Fool’s pranks. I absolutely used to love the day because I hated my sort-of stepfather when I was a tween, and I enjoyed “pranking” him–my pranks were obnoxious and troublesome and I maintain he deserved it. But they are not kind to people you love–to abuse their trust and laugh at them for believing you. In particular, jokes about diagnoses, coming out, pregnancy, and other things are particularly cruel. Someone you know might well have had a terrible diagnosis the same time you’re making a joke. Someone you know might well be struggling to come out and fearing the fall out as you’re making a joke of it. Many people silently deal with the devastation of infertility and miscarriage. These things are not jokes.
**I realize I might benefit from a bullet journal but I am tired and I don’t like learning to do new things.
Pardon any errors or downtime the past couple of days, but I’ve finally moved hosts.
I stayed with the last one for twelve years. I probably should’ve left after five or six, but it took a while to realize how bad issues had become because I don’t typically need to make a lot of inquiries or requite customer service When I first signed up with Lunarpages, I did so after reading a few reviews and hearing they had good customer service. And, indeed, when there were some technical issues during signup and moving my domain from Yahoo, they were quick and responsive.
That went downhill. Fast. Increasingly I received cut and paste replies to any inquiries that suggested they only read keywords. It was frustrating to have to ask several times for clarification or be upgraded to a next tier support staff (who could actually answer me in English–and no problem if your staff doesn’t know English, just disclose that up front, because with technical stuff it is imperative that communication between both parties is clear–they need to know what I’m saying as much as I do them). The cost of my hosting never went up, but it probably should have if it meant customer service would not have drastically declined.
The last few communications from them included the upsell of other services–for $39.95 a month, I could get two hours of administrative support.
The last time I received a message, it was regarding “exploited scripts” in my files, and a list. There was also some out of date installs of old CMSs–that was absolutely true, as I’d tried to clean it up the best I could, but I no longer had a webmaster and missed things. But even after removing those old databases and files, there was still a list of exploited scripts I simply couldn’t find.
I mean literally. They did not exist. Not even in hidden files.
So I asked several times–after they threatened to suspend my account if I didn’t remove these files (which they would do themselves…for $39.95)–where they hell the files were since I couldn’t find them.
I was then informed oh, we looked, and you’re right, the files don’t exist.
So…WHY DID YOU THREATEN TO SUSPEND MY ACCOUNT OVER SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T EXIST?
Well, it was automatic, and sometimes the system throws false positives.
I pointed out this was bullshit, that I’d been a customer for twelve years, and that I was going to change hosts (opportunity to retain my business!). I got: “We value you as a customer here at Lunarpages and we thank you for being with us from such a long time.”
Um…yeah. Fuck you, then.
In addition, around the same time, something got flipped with the permissions of my site, and I hadn’t done anything–it happened right after their last email to me, and the site was gone for two full days. I inquired. It took another THREE DAYS for them to reply. By that time the site was inexplicably back and their response was: *shrug* “Looks fine for us!”
Double fuck you, then.
I used Canadian Web Hosting for the non-profit site I managed, and moved Aunt Judy’s there a few years ago, so I said fuck it and bought hosting there. They also offer free site migration and compensation if you leave your previous host early.
Their emails have been prompt and responsive–and there have been a lot of them, because I ended up needing to upgrade, and there were some technical issues to iron out. Clearly they read what I ask and answer accordingly. When I’ve run into issues, they’ve addressed them. Everything is loading faster now. Their services are exactly what they say on the site. I’m paying a bit more money but it’s already worth it.
There are a few bugs to work out–when I was cleaning out old files before moving, I deleted a few things (specifically images) that were in use, so you might find some broken images I haven’t gotten to yet. I’ve regenerated thumbnails so there shouldn’t be too many problems. Next test will be what happens when I post this–fun!
Otherwise, I am greatly looking forward to having this stress off my head–I already have enough of it between work and kittens. (Speaking of…SEE MY BABIES BELOW.)