Back to Basics

I haven’t posted to the blog in ages!

I blame Umbridge (see previous posts), the pandemic, and a general discomfort with the INTERNET IS FOREVER dilemma.

I’m still around. Still writing. Still editing. Still recruiting Virtual Assistant clients.

After taking several workshops to spark my writing again, I’ve decided to put more time into the blog. We’ll see how this particular endeavour works out.

Then the Bad Stuff Happens…

I’ve been debating whether or not to post this news to the internet. Because the internet is forever and far reaching, and I can’t un-ring the bell. But authors are honest and we share our journeys and this is a big one for me.

On Tuesday, September 24th, I met with my doctor and received a diagnosis:

Endometrial cancer

My doctor assured me that of all the reproductive cancers a woman can get, this was a “good one”.

I had gone through several tests over the weeks before the diagnosis: a pap, an ultrasound, and a biopsy, so I had a bad feeling this diagnosis was coming. But I still rode a huge shock wave when the reality of it set in.

I have cancer.

I spent a couple of days telling people. That exercise was tough. I cried, over and over, every time I said the c-word out loud or wrote it in another email.

Then I spent a day getting my worst case scenario ducks in a row. Yes, my Will and Powers of Attorney are up to date. Yes, I made a list of my bills for my adult children, so they can pay what needs to be paid. I created another list of people to call if the worst outcome happens.

On Thursday, October 10th I am going under the knife, to have all of my female reproductive bits removed – uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. The plan is a laparoscopic surgery, which means I would return home same-day.

Of course, bad stuff can happen during the operation. She might find other stuff. She might nick some important organ or vessel while in there. If those things happen it will turn into a full incision and my day surgery could morph into a multi-day hospital stay.

The removed tissues will be sent to pathology. Only then will the doctor “stage” my cancer. So maybe radiation is in my future? Maybe not. Maybe chemo? Those maybes haunt me every night. So yeah, I’m not getting much sleep.

A friend of mine suggested I nickname the disease so I don’t have to use the c-word all the time. I like this idea. I’m tempted to call it Dolores Umbridge, because that particular villain seems appropriate. Especially her pink wardrobe. But I don’t know if I want to taint Harry Potter lore/books/movies by association.

I’ve been working somewhat frantically to prepare. Almost every day I go to another store. I’ve bought a LOT of groceries, trying to anticipate as much as possible so I won’t have to pester friends to shop for me. I asked a friend over to help me do the fall prep stuff: stow patio furniture, move summer things from the garage to the basement, etc. I cleaned the house, and arranged for a housekeeping service going forward. I still have to mow the lawn, although at this point, that task might not get done. And then I arranged for a neighbour to do the last few mows/cuts of the season. So much to do, to prepare for not being able to do things for myself.

I really hate the idea of losing my independence. Especially when I have no idea how long it will be gone.

I hate the idea that the c-box is now ticked. That box will forever be ticked for me. That box might be my undoing. Even if I rise above this bout, well…but I won’t say that part out loud right now. Because I am trying to stay positive. If you know me, then you know how good I am at worrying. There has been a great deal of worry.

So now my news is out there. Now my box is ticked. My bell rung.

I believe that energy and positive thoughts make a difference. So, please if you are willing and able, send some good thoughts/energy into the ‘verse for me. Let’s kick Umbridge to the curb, where she belongs.

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Storming the ConFusion 2019

My schedule for this weekend’s Storming the ConFusion 2019

Saturday, January 19th
10:00AM – 11:00AM Improv Flash Fiction  Panelists: Jackie Morgan(M), Mur Lafferty, Vanessa Ricci-Thode, and Suzanne Church   [Southfield]

Sunday, January 20th
2:00PM – 3:00PM Women Over Fifty as Leaders, Mentors, and Heroes in SFF  Panelists: Diana Rowland (M), Suzanne Church, Jeannie Szarama, Sarah E. Gibbons, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden   [Dearborn]

Click here for the full ConFusion 2019 Schedule

It’s National Novel Writing Month Again

I’ve been super-busy this November, once again participating in NaNoWriMo.

I don’t have the stamina I used to, with respect to NaNoWriMo. I tried and didn’t make it to 50,000 words in 2014 and 2017. I didn’t even participate in 2016. I did jump back onto the ride this year.

Unfortunately, my hands get sore after a long day of writing, so I’m mostly doing updates on Twitter, because it’s so much faster than a blog post.

Find me on Twitter @canadiansuzanne, which is also my NaNoWriMo codename.

If you’ve signed up to participate in the gruelling glory, feel free to add me to your list of writing buddies.

Review of “Brendan’s Way” by Matthew Bin

“Brendan’s Way” is a true page-turner Science Fiction novel. From the moment that the main character, Brendan, boards the Imram to begin his three-month journey to a new world, his every moment is filled with confusion and novelty. As he explores the bustling market, the corridors of the Ring, and the confines of his curtained cubicle, he meets a legion of unusual characters, all travelling in the bowels of the ship, a modern-day vision of steerage on the epic ocean liners of the past.

To earn a ticket on the Imram, Brendan agrees to pose as the husband of Neala, a sharp and secretive woman with plans of her own. The more he gets to know her, the less he understands his fictitious wife.

Before leaving his Irish home, Brendan dabbled in activism by enlisting in the Farmers’ Collective. It wasn’t a union, more of an organized local group with ties to a distant national assembly, its members trying to find better ways to bargain for fairer grain and fertilizer prices. But on the voyage, many clandestine groups exist, all with their own agendas, all somewhat aware of one another’s presence, and all trying not to get caught since justice means a one-way trip through an airlock.

Bin paints a foreign, bleak, and dangerous vision of the journey, including the ugliness of once-a-week shower access, the bland putty-like cubes of rations, the flea-market-by-day and vice-den-by-night crush of the market, and the warm yellow lemony drink offered for free in the common room. The deeper I dove into the story, the further I was engulfed in Bin’s complex microcosm of society, feeling as desperate as the protagonist to unearth the truth.

Bin deftly keeps the reader engrossed by his interpretation of future-Earth, so similar to the one we all know and yet as foreign as a new-found land. Whether you’re a fan of mysteries, science fiction, or adventures, you’ll enjoy “Brendan’s Way” from the first page to the last.

The Halloween Phoenix Returns

image of a phoenix tattooRoughly two years ago, I mused about being a phoenix. To quote that post, “Like the mythic phoenix, (remember Fawkes in the Harry Potter books) I have burst into flames, reduced to a pile of ashes.” And, like Fawkes, it was about time for me to do it again. I suppose it’s partly the impending NaNoWriMo that is encouraging me to revisit this blog.

Where the Hell did I Go?!

I’ve been stuck. Lost. Down a rabbit hole. Hiding under blankets. Eating my feelings. All of the above.

Being truthful about mental illness is difficult, especially when I was deep in the dark places. In the fall of 2016, I hit my emotional rock bottom. I withdrew from society, experienced cycles of insomnia and over-sleeping, and ate dump-truck-loads of my feelings. After weeks of crying every day, I took everyone’s advice and visited my doctor who prescribed anti-depressants.

It took weeks to get the dose right, but eventually I found relief. I began to emerge into the world, and perform tasks I’d been too distraught to face. At that point, I could not write, partly because I wasn’t strong enough to face the “truths” that are authorial requirements, and partly because the anti-depressants affected my concentration and short-term memory.

In March, I found the strength to make some tough changes to get my life back on track. I dabbled in a group-therapy endeavor, and I started to count my calories. I scoured YouTube, Stitcher, and experimented with various meditation apps, in search of the most useful guided meditations to help me with my journey.

Since March, I’ve lost roughly thirty pounds. I can’t thank my son enough for buying me a Fitbit for my birthday, which not only helped with the weight-loss journey, but has also encouraged me to get walking. I love my Fitbit, because it’s the first weight-loss/health-improvement app/device that uses encouragement rather than bullying. This weight-loss has helped me to feel better, physically and emotionally, and has helped my knee to get significantly better. I still drive around with my cane in my car, but I rarely use it.

That’s right. You read that correctly. I RARELY USE MY CANE!

What a journey! Remember, in that last blog post, I wrote, “I’ve come to the emotional conclusion that I will never be ‘better’ in the true sense of the word. The cane will be a permanent accessory.”

Now I can do things for myself again, including mowing my own lawn, shoveling my own driveway, and cleaning my own house. I even bought a snow-blower, something I’ve been afraid of for years.

Two years ago, I also began the process of updating my will. That endeavor ground to a halt when I learned that without a divorce, my will would not be as binding as I wanted. So I abandoned the will upgrade, and focused on moving ahead with the divorce, again!

Taking charge of this huge aspect of my “old life”, combined with the aforementioned changes, helped me to journey to a new, happy, content, calm place. So much so, that I’ve begun the process of reducing (and possibly quitting) my anti-depressants. Suddenly, I have feelings again. And, most importantly, I NEED TO WRITE AGAIN.

The icing on the cake … drumroll … I’m divorced!  This status became official on October 20, 2017. Time to plan a party.

But first, enough blogging. I need to sketch an outline for my NaNoWriMo novel. I know, I left it until the last minute.

Expect posts about my progress throughout November.