Tendons, Tendons, Teeeendons

I bet you guys are all totally wondering about my elbow. I had the surgery, then left you wondering if my arm had subsequently fallen off during my follow-up. You were all probably picturing the look of abject terror on my face as I watched it plummet toward the doctor’s feet.

Oh well, too bad for you guys! It’s totally still an elbow! They took out ONE stitch (that took up two inches of my arm, how does that work?!?), which hurt for a few seconds, and I almost passed out. Hah! See, my arm was nowhere near the doctor’s feet. If I’d had breakfast, the poor doctor would’ve had pancakes all over her feet though.

It’s still a bit early to be determining the surgery a Grade A success. Right now I’m sticking with Grade B. It’ll (apparently) still be a few more weeks before I can bend and unbend my elbow sufficiently to, say, eat with my right hand. It’s amazing though; every evening I go to bed with a sore elbow, and every morning my elbow bends and unbends further than the day before. The ibuprofen was making my stomach crazy so I had to stop taking it, but this pain is NOTHING compared to how bad it was before the surgery. How sad is that? I really need to learn that pain = something bad is going on. At the present moment I’m able to grip a pen sufficiently to sign stuff. Trying to write or draw for any length of time makes my arm and fingers ache, though, which I take to mean is me stressing my newly re-attached tendons. Those suckers are seriously resilient, though.

My hypoglycemia has been acting up lately thanks to the new changes the Weather Channel has been making. They made it high 70s here for a few days, which always exasperates my asthma and hypoglycemia. Bad combination to have; you should stay away from it. Thankfully the easiest way to maintain the hypo part is to stick to a 30g or less a day low-carb diet. For the asthma, lots and lots of water and an inhaler if necessary. Those stupid albuterol shakes make me use it as a VERY last resort, preferably before I start freaking out, since the freakouts make it even worse. In any case! In the words of the aunt who helped raise me, if you’re ever in a situation where this is relevant, “cheese is wetter than crackers.” You probably can’t stop an asthma attack with cheese, but quoting my aunt may help you laugh, forcing air into your lungs to try to circumvent the attack. Hey, it worked for her!

I’ve got an upcoming article in the works. In fact, my half is finished(ish)! Just waiting for my collaborator to have time (having a big family and his own projects AND a job doesn’t make it easy to find time) before going back over my parts to see if I can sneak in some “like he said’s.”

Now that I’ve finished my pre-bedtime ramble, I’ll go head off for bed. Meryl’s story is nearing completion, just to keep you guys updated. It’s into the Novellette length now. It probably won’t get much larger. So much for another short story, huh? 😛

Later gators 😀

The ever important Word Count

According to fictionfactor.com, my two short stories fall between the “Flash Fiction” and “Short Story” categories. I’ve long wondered how to tell the difference between all the names bandied about on forums everywhere. Thanks to Google, I’ve got a much better idea, though fictionfactor seems to be talking mainly about print books. I’d imagine the same rules apply for eBooks as well, and they seem reasonable, so I’ll use them.

Based on their chart, my (unfinished) stories currently fall in these categories:

  • Witch World: Start of the End – Novellette (will probably end up being a Novella)
  • Sara Flynn, At Your Service – Novellette (will be a Novel, probably not an Epic…but who knows!)
  • The Undragoning of Meryl Bennett – Short Story (Will probably stay one, or be a very short Novellette)
  • 2030: AI – Well….this one has 0 words. Micro-Fiction! Hah…still not sure if this will be a Novel or not. It is definitely as wiggly as jumping beans in my head.

Now I just need to conjure another short story for the Ben Phelan series. To do that, I have to figure out whether it’ll be a campfire-type series, or a rundown on the Phelans. Perhaps my next one can be a campfire how-it-all-began. I can see that falling into the Short Story guidelines quite easily. Anybody have any thoughts? Perhaps Richard or Jsean13 (or someone else!) would interested in writing campfire stories from the perspective of the other unnamed kids? We could do a compilation of shorts and give the proceeds to a charity or something. Horror for Charities!

In other news, this stupid thing on my arm is finally coming off tomorrow, along with the stitches. I plan on scrubbing the arm really well with a hot shower before exposing the world to it. It probably looks and smells disgusting, even after only two weeks. Yiiiick!

Elbow Surgery

Deia and I hunting for Easter eggs

I’m slowly learning to type one-handed. If I could use my dominant hand instead, it would be vastly easier. This Thursday will be the unveiling-of-the-arm, when my doctor will remove this splint and the stitches in my elbow. They’re saying another month for physical therapy is necessary, but I’ve been using it somewhat with out any issues. The meds were making me sick so I had to stop them. Considering prior to the op I was downing 8+ ibuprofen a day, not needing any is a huge stride. There is no pain at all except when the hubby bumps into it, but that’s probably because of the plaster splint jabbing my stitches.

I’ve discovered Cabin Fever is really bad when you can’t use an appendage. I call it “Appendage Fever.” You get these needs to do things you can’t because you are tired of being unable to do what you used to. For instance, I’m typing this on my phone because it’s easier to use one hand on an app. I type a lot for my job, and I’ve kept my typos to a minimum while using one hand, but that’s mostly because I’ve had to do that a lot the past few years. The anticipation of getting my arm “back” has also made it hard to come to terms with the whole thing. In the end, though, a few weeks of disuse vs the rest of my life is a no-brainer. I’ll take one surgery for $6500! (yay for tax returns!)

In other news, Meryl’s story got steamy a few nights before my surgery. I mentally tell myself stories as I fall asleep unless they’re stories I’m actively writing (forgetfulness, bored muse, etc) so now I’m all antsy wondering what’s gonna happen next! Eep!

Scared Muse!

My muse is scared! I am, too. I’ll be having Elbow Surgery tomorrow morning (EEEEEEK!) on my dominate arm (EEEEEEK!!!!) and my orthopedic doctor said, “You’ll be in recovery for 4-6 weeks.”

AAAAAAAH!!!! OK, enough with the exclamation marks. I’m honestly relieved to finally get it resolved. The list of things to do once my arm is back in the game keeps growing. In no particular order:

  1. Hold DeiaDeia in my OTHER arm
  2. Tickle Jaiden
  3. Finish the SECRET PROJECT for Richard Flores
  4. Enjoy the hubby more thoroughly >.> (oh wait, TMI!)
  5. Write Write Write Write!
  6. Draw Draw Draw Draw 😀
  7. Finish “The Undragoning of Meryl Bennett”
  8. Finish “Sara Flynn, At Your Service”
  9. Play some DCUO (if the new changes don’t make it suck)
  10. Clean up my office at work (the Boss Man is up in arms over my cable management system. It consists of dangling cables wherever I can so he can trip over them)
  11. Resume workouts so I can get my muscle back. Having babies is hell on muscles. It’d be nice to be able to pick up my 50lb kid again 😛 You know, the almost-six-year-old…giant child? He’s like a tall, skinny WEIGHT! Heavy heavy! Anyway.
  12. Tickle Jaiden
  13. Throw away the ginormous bottle of Ibuprofen I’ve been living on the past few months. Nomnom Ibucandy.
  14. Bash my elbow into more door-ways (OK — maybe not!)

Anybody have a good deal on bubble wrap? Perhaps I should consider encasing my elbows in it. Jaiden runs into walls, I bash my elbows into doorways.

Last week I was on a Muse Roll (they’re really good with ketchup) and surpassed my original intent of “Short Story” on a Muse-fueled dream-turned-story I’ve named “The Undragoning of Meryl Bennett.” As a result, the story is…well, half-way finished. Maybe more, maybe less. So far Meryl has been leading a merry chase with that human male she found, and I have no idea when she’ll be done telling her story. My Muse is as distractable as I am so we keep seeing shinys everywhere. Wheeee! It’s already at approximately 5,000 words. At what point is it no longer a short story anyway?

In the meantime, another story I’ve been working on has gotten more complicated. “Sara Flynn, At Your Service” has finally finished introducing all the characters (I think??) at the 8,000 word mark. It’s not a slow story, just a long one. The hint-of-trouble has finally been suggested, and one of the freshly introduced characters has informed me (and the main character) of some interesting stuff regarding ANOTHER character. Drama! No, not really. Well, maybe. We’ll see.

Oh oh oh!! By the way! The Amazon Books I’ve got up at the moment will be going Free again on Sunday April 8th and Monday April 9th (Happy Easter!). See my previous post for links to them. Don’t forget to write a review for ’em if you do grab them. If you’d like to critique, please respond on my blog so we can get a discussion going. 😀

Happy Monday! I’ll be out of work all week cause of the surgery, but I’ll be thinking of all you busy bees out there 🙂 Well, in-between Vicodin-induced naps. Snoooooooore.

Happy Easter! If any little ones pop up in 9 months we’ll all know Eostre was doing her job 😉

Two shorts on Kindle

So, Kindle Direct Publishing finished approving/converting my two short stories sometime this morning. Very exciting (for me, anyway!) 😀 The lowest price I could set them to was 99 cents, but the program does let me offer five days where the price is FREE! Since you don’t have to use the days all at once, I’m just doing it one day at a time. The first FREE! day is tomorrow (3/29/2012); they should be free by Midnight (Pacific Time). Squeee!!!

The book covers aren’t exactly the greatest, but they’re better than the “no image” you see on a lot of kindle books. The “Ben Phelan” book was drawn with my tablet PC, which isn’t exactly designed for art. Long story short: my elbow has had a calcium deposit for a few years and it’s now reached a point where it prevents me from doing much that involves gripping for any length of time. I’ll be having surgery next week (wish me luck please, please please please!) and another 4-6 weeks after that, SUPPOSEDLY, my arm will be useful once again! MAJOR finger crossing, for sure. Please. 😀

The cover for “A Joyful Journey” is actually one of the first drawings I ever did with my first tablet, an Aiptek (serial, not usb — wow!! that was a while ago!). It was drawn in the free program it came with called Art Dabbler, which later was bought by Corel and merged/turned into what we all now know as Corel Painter. The painting was called Mountains. While the story doesn’t really have anything to do with mountains, it was a nice image that makes a decent cover and I’ll probably colorize it and use it for other short stories in the future. The “Ben Phelan” one will definitely need to be redone once my project for my brother-in-law Richard Flores is finished. Well really, it’s for my nephew, but he’s the publisher 😉

I hope you enjoy the stories. Even if you don’t, at least you’ll have a better idea of what you don’t like. The “Ben Phelan” one is a severe stray from my usual stories (none of which are completed, so only a few people have ever read them) and isn’t really meaningful in any way. I’m not entirely sure it’s a path I want to take since it doesn’t have unicorns or rainbows. Perhaps Jsean13 would be interested in picking up the story. He tends to add a bit more blood to his stories though, so who knows where he’d take the series!

Have an awesome week and HAPPY WEDNESDAY! Half-way to the weekend!!

New Baby, Life, More Life

Big Brother and Little Sister at the Pumpkin Patch
Big Brother and Little Sister at the Pumpkin Patch

We have a new baby! She’s absolutely adorable. She was born shortly before my birthday on September 21st, 2011, at 1:25pm (she should’ve been born at 1:20pm but they made me wait before I could push. Don’t get me started on birthing stories — us moms have too many!). She was 7lbs 7oz, the same size as her brother was when he was born, and 22in, also the same as her brother. We named her Deia Georgia. Deia has a variety of meanings in other languages. Georgia means Farmer, which we hope keeps her down to earth. Her Maternal Gramma swears Deia means Goddess (Deity), but it actually means Expensive, Milkmaid, and a Small Coastal Village. Well really, there is a village on the coast of an island named Deiá (the village, not the island). We figure when she grows up she’ll be a well-paid Horticulturist of some sort in a village on a coast xD

Deia’s brother is absolutely fanatical over his little sister and is always trying to help with taking care of her. He’s slowly mastering the snap-buttons on her sleepers and onesies, and from time to time we let him “help” put a diaper on. His favorite thing is to talk to her and tell her all about the video game he’s playing. She stares, coos and smiles at him.

We’re slowly adjusting to having a baby in the house again. It seems that Mother Nature makes us forget how hard it was with our previous children so you have more children. Honestly, it does seem harder than I remember, but it’s so completely worth it for new baby snuggles and smells (NO, they don’t smell like dirty diapers).

In other news, I’m slowly making progress on a few projects for family while finding time to write. The oldest kiddo is turning out to be quite a story-teller himself, along with a knack for drawing. Part of his Christmas present included a drawing tablet for the Wii, which he loves playing. He’s finally getting upgraded to a Grown Up desk which will allow him to have his own computer (in a few years), as well as do homework somewhere other than where he eats.

Happily Holidays everyone, and have a wonderful and safe New Year! What are some of your resolutions? I’m contemplating actually having resolutions — there’s always a first time for everything, right?

September’s Short Story

I’ve learned a lot from the first short story I wrote, including some stuff from the feedback I’ve gotten from everyone. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Other writers have their own style. Take style advice sparingly.
  • If a kid is narrating, make them sound like a kid.
  • Don’t read your own story for at least two days so you have a chance to forget what you wrote
  • Double-check for similar-sounding names from other books/authors
  • Even a short story has a beginning, middle and ending.
  • Avoid repetitiveness, particularly in a short story where it’s far more obvious.
  • Your spouse can be your worst critic and your biggest fan simultaneously. Remember: They know you better than most people, so they know when you’re putting your all into something and when you’re just being lazy.

One thing I’ve decided I enjoy immensely is bouncing ideas around with someone like my husband. He’s one of those people who nit-picks everything, uses yes-or-no answers, and doesn’t confine his feelings to gray areas. If he likes it he’ll say so, and if he doesn’t he’ll call it crap. While his taste in books and movies may leave the majority of people scratching their heads (I know it often leaves me confused!), it helps to have someone give advice and insight instead of sugar-coating everything.

The next short story I’m working on is almost done churning in my mind. It’s a combination of Fantasy and Society, almost an intellectual piece. My favorite stories are ones that make a person think beyond themselves. It’s the Libra in me that wants to show the world “LOOK! There are at least five thousands sides to every story! Stop thinking you’re the only person with eyes!”

The other year-long story I’m working on is actually loosely based on my best friend/sister-type Sara. I’ve even gone so far as to name the main character Sara 😀 It’s coming along a lot more happily than the past books I’ve tried to write, mainly because it’s actually really interesting and there’s always something going on. The main character does seem to have an internal battle with depression and connecting to people, but the hope is she’ll blossom and take on the world with the internal strength she will discover. She’s got unique abilities that make the story a Fantasy-style book, and it’s written in a vaguely Young Adult manner.

A lot of the inspiration for my stories comes from dreams. The dream I had last night brought out a lot of ideas, most of which must be written down ASAP before more dreams take up all those creative nooks and crannies.

Trying out this short story stuff

Over the years I’ve been told by countless friends and family that my inability to complete an actual story may be directly related to a number of factors. They’re listed here in the order of what I believe to be most likely to least likely:

  1. Easy to Distract
  2. Boredom
  3. Laziness (OK nobody actually said this, but I KNOW they thought it!! I could see it in their eyes, I swear!)

The suggestions for working around those factors have been more numerous. The most repeated one was actually something I kept intending to try, but never got around to it. Keep in mind, my imagination has a constant reel of what-ifs throwing story ideas into the whirlwind of my brain even while trying to finish the story I’m currently working on. It makes it difficult to concentrate long enough to complete a story from start to finish, and when I do manage to get past chapter 7 (my current highest-reached chapter for my stories), by then the story has fragmented into so many bazillion other stories I have forgotten the exact reason for this specific title. Thankfully I’ve found re-reading the last few chapters helps keep me focused, while allowing me to do on-the-job editing to make the finished-product editing a bit easier. In all honesty, I love writing and filling pages with stories and words, but my absolute favorite part of the whole process is going back and re-writing, refining, and smashing my head into a wall for misspelling. OK the last part there isn’t nearly as fun as re-writing 😛

So, in keeping with my tendency to get side-tracked, the “Write a Short Story!” phrase finally penetrated my (rather thick) skull and I set about trying to figure out how to get an entire story into a “smattering” of words. The first step (for me) was to conjure an entirely new character, new world, new set of circumstances. My other characters and worlds were already built up to such complexity that even thinking up a new story to fit into them would eat up an easy 3,000 words. Add to that the actual story, from beginning to end, and it may as well be a novel.

The world that was revealed was actually more characteristic of those Goosebumps-type stories, complete with target audience: 10 year old boys. The proceeding story was a total of 1,178 words. The nice thing about the story is that it actually left a nice arched doorway, sans door, waiting for another short story to continue the trend.

The not-so-nice thing about the story is I kinda…well, let’s just say, Katy Perry’s “I kissed a girl” is going through my head but with “killed” instead of “kissed.” Sigh!! The only reason I “liked” it is because I FINALLY FINISHED A STORY!!!

Welcome!

Welcome to the blog of writer Jean Hopkins! There are a number of books I’ve got in the works at the moment, which I hope to be sharing with you all in time. My muses are Dreams, People-Watching (why yes, I do have a staring problem!), and Family. Throw in a dash of imagination and what-if and you’ve got a plot! I’m often accused of being a Grammar Cop, but you’ll find within this blog the truth of the matter is I’m merely sensitive to misspellings and extreme grammatical discord. Years of blogging, IMing, txting and chat-rooms has deadened me to most Internet colloquialisms TYVM. I do get severely disjointed when someone misuses Your, You’re, its and it’s, along with a vast number of other common abused words. Thankfully the fellow at http://www.theoatmeal.com has them covered in “10 Words You Need To Stop Misspelling.”

I love reading as well as writing, drawing, and chasing my son around. At the moment I’m “about to pop” with a second child, which means the walls may well soon be covered with claw marks. Hopefully I’ll channel the coming boredom with more writing!

My favorite books, authors, etc are all listed under About Me as well as the types of books I write and where you can find me in the social haven we call the Internet.