Am I Daring?

One lone idea sparked my short story, “To Haunt the Daring Place.” I wanted to tell about the founding of a monastery that will feature in the ninth book of my Gael & Keir series.

That was all I had.

There was a monastery. It had an unusual founding. Gael and Keir would visit the place a hundred years (or two) later.

My logical self informed me that this was a slim spot to start from.

My storyteller self felt serenely sanguine. There was a story already present, hiding in my subconscious and ready to be revealed. All I needed to do was trust in its existence and tell it.

I mused upon my protagonist. He was a scholar and a mage, possessed of great world-wonder. He felt curious about everything, but he’d taken a break from the scholarship he loved to rebuild his fortunes, which were decimated by the troll wars. Now he was reclaiming his curiosity.

His name was Coehlin, and he was an especial fan of ancient North-lands philosophers such as Kleomedes the Younger and Aglaia of Seleucis.

I envisioned the story appearing in my collection, Tales of Old Giralliya.

The time period seemed to fit, and I envisioned a sort of fairy tale style for its telling.

But after I wrote the first scene, it was clear that I wasn’t using a fairy tale style at all. It wasn’t right for the story I wanted to tell. Nor would the length be comparable to that of the other stories in Tales of Old Giralliya. They fell in a range between 700 and 4,500 words. “To Haunt the Daring Place” would be at least 6,000 words, maybe more.

My next plan was to submit the story to SFF magazines.

web imageI’d received a nice comment from a magazine editor when I submitted “Crossing the Naiad” to him. Recently I learned what a personal comment like that meant, aside from, ‘It’s good!’ It meant that he’d read the story all the way to its end. And editors don’t do that unless either: 1) they think they might buy the story for their magazine, or 2) they are enjoying the story so much that even though it is not right for their magazine, they can’t bear to stop.

That put my editor’s comment in a new perspective. Getting a story accepted seemed like it might truly be possible!

But as I wrote “To Haunt,” I began to worry that it would be too long for any magazine. Wasn’t 6,000 words the top limit for many? And it was becoming ever more certain that “To Haunt” was going to cross that 6K limit.

In fact, the first draft of “To Haunt” came in at 13,714 words. Yikes!

If 6,000 were the top edge, then my story was more than twice as long. Cutting it down a little to fit wouldn’t be feasible. But I could (and should) check that limit. Maybe my memory was wrong. Maybe, even if I remembered right, there might be a few magazines that would take a novelette. Or, if there weren’t any magazines that would, maybe there would be an anthology call permitting longer lengths.

What I really wanted was to get my story into a magazine with a circulation of thousands or an anthology with an editor possessing an established audience of thousands. The readers who read my work seem to love it. But their numbers are, as yet, few. I want readers who have never heard of me to have a chance at reading my stories.

So…is there a potential venue for “To Haunt the Daring Place”?

Yes!

I checked the word limits for the top magazines, and many of them accept submissions up to 20K. A few specify 15K, and one 10K.

Obviously the 10K rag won’t work for “To Haunt,” but I have lots of options. Yay! I’m pretty thrilled about it.

So…did the monastery get founded?

W-e-l-l…not exactly.

The magical architectural element that leads to the founding of the monastery is indeed created in the events recounted in “To Haunt the Daring Place.” But the monastery itself? No. It’s never even mentioned.

But it will be a fun Easter egg for readers of both “To Haunt the Daring Place” and Book Nine of the Gael & Keir Adventures. I assure you that the architectural element is not something that can be missed!

Wish me luck in getting the story accepted. 😀

For more about Tales of Old Giralliya, see:
Rebirth of Four Fairy Tales
Two Giralliyan Folk Heroes
Caught Between Two Armies
Tales in a New Bundle

 

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Hospital Misadventures

So, what happened to me in the hospital?

My surgeon has admitting privileges at the Augusta Medical Center, so that is where he sent me. He called ahead to warn them I was en route, but the first thing they had to do was assess me.

After all, no medical person had seen me for many hours. I could be in any condition, for all they knew, when I walked in through the ER doors.

Blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen are simple enough to obtain. But answers to questions? Oh, my!

With my tongue the size of the Goodyear blimp, my answers were utterly unintelligible.

Luckily my husband could tell the whole sad story perfectly well: the surgery and its complications, the extreme swelling in the aftermath.

And, interestingly, my husband could often understand my blurred utterances, when the question pertained to something current, rather than something in the past. He could translate for me.

The intake was fast, and I waited only 5 minutes before they took me back.

Soon I was hooked up to an IV, receiving fluids, antibiotics, and a steroid (to get the swelling down). Then came the first stumble. They wanted to give me something for pain, and I was all for it, since my pain levels were high.

But they wanted to give me Toradol, which is an NSAID.

I’ve been avoiding NSAIDs for the last 25 years. The last time I ever took one—ibuprofen—the pill landing in in my stomach felt like someone had lit a match there. It HURT!

This is where being scared, weak, in pain, and not able to talk is a huge disadvantage in a hospital. I let them give it to me. They argued that everyone experiences some stomach upset with NSAIDs and that since the drug would not be going through the stomach, it would have a minimal effect there.

I didn’t feel strong enough and confident enough to just say no.

Well, it didn’t feel like a lit match, thank goodness. But within 45 minutes, my stomach hurt. It really hurt. And I strongly regretted that unsaid no. Next time—assuming there is one—I’ll say no.

In the meantime, there I was, tongue still swollen, pain less in my mouth, but still present, and enough pain in my stomach to offset any relief from lowered mouth pain. My one comfort was that if the swelling were to increase enough to cut off my airways, I was in the right place. Presumably they would be able to save me.

We’d arrived at the ER around 4 in the afternoon. Sometime around 7 pm I received a hospital room. And then it was time for my husband to go home. Our kids are 16, old enough to be fine on their own for considerable lengths of time. But still, it was time for a parent to return to the nest and do all the parent things.

All of the rooms at Augusta Health are single, and they are very nice. Mine had a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So I hung out in the bed, gazing out at the golden evening and just resting. I felt very tired.

My surgeon arrived and assessed me. He arranged for a suction device, so that I could remove the spit from my mouth without having to try to swallow it. That was huge relief. And as the hours ticked away, my tongue began to subside.

I still remember trying a sip of iced water at around midnight. Just the one. And I was able to swallow it! I cannot tell you how good that felt.

By morning my tongue was perhaps half its previous size and swallowing water was very feasible. Oh, how I loved that water!

Jello—served for breakfast—was still beyond me. And I knew the “chicken broth” was probably a chemical sea of MSG and soy, which would just upset my poor stomach still more. Because—yes—my stomach was still suffering. It felt like someone had taken sandpaper to it.

By early afternoon, I could talk intelligibly! Yay!

Prep began for me to return home.

And then came the next major stumble. I was given liquid oxycontin. Uh, oh!

Guess what? Liquid oxycontin has alcohol in its formulation. And that alcohol burned the surgical wound in my mouth. I’m not really much of a crier these days. This is not a virtue. There are many times when the catharsis of a good cry would ready me to proceed ahead with full energy, but—dash it!—I can’t manage to cry.

Well, let me tell you! My burned surgical wound hurt so badly—and grew worse after the initial burn—that I simply had to cry. Pain level 9 out 10.

Within half an hour, my tongue was the size of the Goodyear blimp once again.

But still they were going to send me home.

This seemed like a bad idea to me. I couldn’t swallow my own spit anymore. I couldn’t swallow any water. I couldn’t swallow any medications. This was why I’d been admitted to the hospital in the first place. But they were going to send me home anyway?

Their reasoning was twofold.

1) All the steroids in me would keep working and my tongue would start to go down in size soon.

2) I’d been admitted to the hospital for observation. If I stayed for more than 24 hours, the basis for my admission would have to be changed and the whole thing would became much more expensive, and the insurance coverage assessed on a different basis.

Well, I can’t pretend that the second reason didn’t weigh with me.

My husband’s position was eliminated in July, and he is currently unemployed. We have medical insurance through the end of the year. We have the money to buy food, pay our mortgage, and pay this hospital bill. But…our financial situation is not good, not good at all.

I didn’t think my surgeon was right about how quickly my tongue would de-swell. In fact, I was scared about that. But I figured that at least I was no longer dehydrated. I’d been getting IV fluids all this time. I could surely last until the next day. And maybe, by then, I would be able to swallow again.

So I went home.

On the way home, I did some thinking. What could I do to ensure that I didn’t just land in the hospital again tomorrow?

I found myself remembering The Sharing Knife: Legacy by Lois McMaster Bujold.

A major facet of the story treats with the fate of ten unconscious people, who Dag and Fawn (and company) are determined to save. Dag puts the grandmothers in the group on the case. He figures that people who have the most experience keeping completely helpless people alive will have the best chance with these unconscious patients.

Somehow that scene gave me hope. If those fictional grandmothers could succeed, maybe I could, too.

It wasn’t until 10 at night that my own solution came to me.

I was remembering when my children were babies, and how we used plastic syringes to get medicine into them when they were ill.

I’d been given exactly that kind of plastic syringe to get my own medicines into me. I had liquid steroids and liquid antibiotics. And I’d been told to crush the oxycodone pills, mix them with water, and syringe those into me as well.

The first dose worked! The trick was to push the plunger down very s-l-o-w-l-y. I couldn’t swallow even a sip. But I could swallow one drop at a time.

And that is when I realized that I could get water into me via syringe. Drop by drop.

I even tried a syringe full of consommé. And I knew I would be okay. Medicine? Check. Fluids? Check. I really would be okay.

But…my stomach hurt soooo much! All those medicines on an empty stomach were doing a number on me.

I carried on. Medicine. Water. Consommé. Medicine. Water. Consommé.

By 3 the next afternoon (24 hours after my discharge), my tongue was once again down in size, enough so that I could swallow. And talk, with a strange sort of lisp. I’d turned the corner.

That was the weekend of August 10-11. My surgeon winced when he saw me that Monday, because the swelling was still so bad.

But how am I now?

A lot better.

I’ve been guzzling down beet kvass, homemade chicken broth, kombucha, and eating over-easy fried eggs. My stomach is not yet fully recovered from the harsh medicines, but it just hurts a little, not a lot.

This Monday—August 19—my surgeon was really happy with the state of my mouth. He said it was looking good! (I think it was the beet kvass. Really!)

I am still in a fair amount of pain. Part of that is that my primary pain medicine is now acetaminophen. You can’t just continue with the opioids indefinitely. The other part is that my surgery was pretty extensive. There was a lot of bone removed, ground down, and smoothed. It is just going to take time for my body to get it all healed.

I’m grateful that I’m alive. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to suffer intubation. I’m grateful I can swallow! I’m grateful that I am healing. And I am so, so eager to be well!

Send me healing vibes, if you feel so inclined!

For more about my surgery, see:
Surgical Complications Slow Me

 

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Surgical Complications Slow Me

hospital room

Yes, I have been in the hospital.

It really was not supposed to go that way.

What happened?

I needed oral surgery. It was an outpatient procedure, unpleasant, with the risk of complications that all surgery carries, but likely to go smoothly. I’d even been through Part One in May with a minimum of fuss. Part Two would be similar, right?

Well, it wasn’t.

The surgery I needed was the reduction of a torus mandibularis.

“What the hay is a torus mandibularis?” you ask.

It is a bony growth in the lower jawbone along the surface nearest to the tongue.

bony growth on the lower jawboneMine was much larger and more poorly positioned than the one in the photo at right. That lucky person would clearly have been able to floss his or her teeth just fine.

My toroid was located near to the top of the gum line and it had a bump upward on top of that. Which meant that when I flossed those teeth, I could not physically get the floss fully down into the bottom of the cranny between tooth and gum. This was causing gum disease to develop.

Toroids usually come in pairs, and mine did. I had the right one ground down in May. It was unpleasant, but bearable.

Part Two—the left one—was August 8. It was a nightmare.

When my surgeon finished the toroid grinding (there’s a special machine for this), he discovered that the inner edge of the jawbone at the back of my mouth (beyond where the toroid had lain) was razor sharp. If he simply reattached my gum tissue (detached and pushed aside for the surgery), the bone would cut the gum tissue. He had to smooth and round that sharp edge.

So he did.

But the edge went back…and back…and BACK!

So he excavated back and back and back, rounding all the way. Finally he got to the end of it and could start stitching my gum tissue back down.

That was unpleasant enough, because it increased the length of the surgery. But I made it through. I was under twilight sedation, so I was semi-aware. Not nice, but bearable.

The true nightmare began about 6 hours later.

My pain levels sky rocketed. I needed extra pain relief, which was a little delayed in arriving. My mouth swelled. Even worse, my tongue started to swell.

By the next morning, my tongue was so swollen—felt like the Goodyear blimp crammed into my mouth—that I could no longer swallow. At all.

photo of blimp in sky

I could still breath, which was essential, of course. But any swallowing was a complete no go.

I could not swallow my own spit. I could not swallow any water. I could not swallow any medicine.

My surgeon prescribed liquid steroids, which could be eye-droppered into me, one drop at a time. And I managed to swallow them. They helped, but not enough, especially since I was now very dehydrated and dry heaving. I needed IV fluids and IV medications. So, hospital.

They kept me for only 23 hours and sent me home.

There were some setbacks—which I will not go into now. I’m wearing out in the storytelling, I’m afraid. Maybe in another blog post. 😉

So how am I? Will I be okay?

Yes.

I can swallow. The swelling is down (although not completely absent). The pain is controlled reasonably well. (Every now and then it breaks through, and then—yikes!)

But J.M. Ney-Grimm is definitely in slow mode. I sleep. I read. I rest. I drink broth. And then I sleep again. (The ole brain is truly off line.)

I had imagined myself writing a short story for the sheer fun of it during these convalescing weeks. Nope.

Because my surgery was more extensive than planned (getting that close to the base of the tongue is a bad thing), the recovery will take longer, probably a good month. For now, my top priority must be healing. Sigh. I’d rather be writing!

For more about the aftermath of my surgery, see:
Hospital Misadventures

 

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Interesting Times

The waters here at Casa Ney-Grimm have been much choppier than those at Burt Lake in the photo above.

I went to the ER with a kidney infection. Then I had oral surgery. Then I fought through two infections. Urgh! Then came the most crushing blow: the department in which my husband works was targeted for a reorganization, with the result that my husband’s position was eliminated. Effective July 19. Double or triple urgh!

Through it all, I’ve continued my revision of The Sovereign’s Labyrinth (sequel to The Tally Master), but progress has been slow. But now—now!—I think I’m within striking distance of finishing. All of the truly tricky stuff is complete, and I’m excited about the changes I’ve made. This book is going to be good (she says with a modest grin). I’ve got another 8,000 words of the manuscript to review, and then I’ll send it off to my first reader. (Again. She wants to see what I’ve done with her feedback, brave woman.)

So what about Burt Lake?

A dear friend has a cottage there, and she invited me and my husband and children to spend a week with her. It was glorious. Sunny. Warm, but not hot. The lake seventy-five feet from the screened porch. And the best of company.

We swam nearly every day. We lounged in deck chairs by the water. We cooked and ate sumptuous meals. My daughter tried paddle boarding. We forgot all our troubles for a while.

Now we’re back home, and the troubles are crowding close. A job and medical insurance must be found. But the writing is keeping me sane, and I am clinging fast to the maxim: “One day at a time.”

If you’re the praying sort, I’d love your prayers. If you’re not, kind thoughts would be great!
 
 
(Photos by Amy Vandenburg. Copyright © 2019 Amy Vandenburg. Used with her permission.)

 

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Mists from the Deeps

     In the night, in the darkness, in the loneliest watch
           heart freezes
           soul cries out
           being shudders

     No answers on offer

     And yet . . . from despair, if I answer yes
           to loss
           to fear
           to death
     Yield assent without limit
     Assent, because all other answers lie barren

     Like earliest dawn, which seeps into the night sky so subtly
           my heart lightens
           a sense of possibility mists from the deeps
           some answer, unspoken, arrives

     Fragile and delicate, surrender to it, do not reach
           this succor may be accepted
           never taken
           new life in the bud

This poem and the accompanying photo appear in my new upcoming release, Journey into Grief.

For more excerpts from the book, see:
Cold Rage
Blessed Radiance
Futile Seeking
Risen

 

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Daylight Shines

           The sky is so blue and friendly
           almost as though it is her smile
           or maybe her laugh
           or both

           I have no sense of its infinite possibility
           ceding to the blackness of outer space
           going on and on past the moon
           past Mars

           No, this sky is immediate, personal
           happy like a baby blanket
           comforting like Mother
           and mine

           I am shielded, illuminated, protected
           under its canopy of brightness
           so long as daylight shines
           safe

This poem and the accompanying photo appear in my new upcoming release, Journey into Grief.

For more excerpts from the book, see:
Missing Her
No Beauty
Exiled
Despair

 

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Meeting and Greeting

The library in my town has a copy of The Tally Master in its Local Voices collection. I’m glad my book is there, and I hope that a few readers have checked it out, read it, and enjoyed it.

Just last weekend, my book’s presence on the library shelves led to something more. The library was holding its second ever Local Voices Book Fair, and I was invited to participate!

The event was held in a large ballroom on the third floor. Two authors gave readings, and roughly forty authors manned tables where their books were on offer.

I was impressed with my fellow indies! They seemed a fearsomely intelligent bunch with professionally done books featuring excellent covers. I gathered enough social courage to walk by all the tables and to stop and chat with every author who gave me the least of an opening. I had some interesting conversations, because of course we talked about their books! 😀

Meanwhile, my son generously manned my table and sold a copy of The Tally Master to the one fantasy fan present. (I was the only fantasy author there, so fantasy readers were a bit thin on the ground.)

I enjoyed getting out of my writing cave, and I learned from one of my fellow authors that bookstores in my town are actually very indie friendly. They are interested in hosting book signings by local authors. Furthermore, even unknowns can actually sell books at these signings, because the local readers like discovering local “hidden gems.” Clearly I should look into this!

I gave away bookmarks (image at right) to everyone who came anywhere near me, and I received two new subscribers to my newsletter.

The next day, the librarian who manages the library’s YA collection contacted me to ask if I would speak on an author panel geared toward National Novel Writing Month. (The manager of the Local Voices collection had recommended me to her.) I said yes!

I’m unexpectedly finding the public author shtick to be fun!

 

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Your Data Is Protected

The European Union has a new data privacy law that became effective today.

It’s called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and anyone with a website that permits comments (or any other activity that collects data) from European citizens must comply with its requirements.

The GDPR consists of 11 chapters containing 99 articles full of legalese. (Here they are in all their glory!) Making sure that I complied with every last detail of these would have been impossible, if I’d tried to do it solo. Luckily WordPress has done the heavy lifting!

The latest software update for my WordPress site contained a GDPR-compliant template, keyed to my site, that I could read through, customize, and then publish. So I’m legal! Even in the EU!

Of course, I’ve never collected much in the way of data on my site. This is the place where I talk with you all, and where you can talk with me. I’m interested in communication, and not interested at all in the hard sell.

But there is now a page on my site describing my Privacy Policy. Woo hoo! You can click on the Privacy tab in the navigation bar. Or simply read on. I’ve copied my privacy policy into this post.

Here it is: 😉

Who we are

The URL for this website is: http://jmney-grimm.com. And I—the fantasy author J.M. Ney-Grimm—am the person creating and managing the content on the site.

What personal data we collect and why we collect it

My website uses WordPress as its platform. By default, WordPress does not collect any personal data about visitors, and only collects the data shown on the User Profile screen from registered users.

Comments

When visitors leave comments on the site, I collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymized string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here. After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

Media

If you upload images to the website, you should avoid uploading images with embedded location data (EXIF GPS) included. Visitors to the website can download and extract any location data from images on the website.

Contact forms

If you use the contact form to email me, or if you email me directly, your email will remain in my inbox indefinitely. My memory is very poor, so I keep all correspondence in order to better recall what I’ve talked with you about in the past, in case you email me again in the future. Your stored email will contain your email address, the subject of your email, and the contents of your email.

Cookies

If you leave a comment on my site you may opt-in to saving your name, email address and website in cookies. These are for your convenience so that you do not have to fill in your details again when you leave another comment. These cookies will last for one year.

If you have an account and you log in to this site, my site’s software will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser.

When you log in, the software for my site will also set up several cookies to save your login information and your screen display choices. Login cookies last for two days, and screen options cookies last for a year. If you select "Remember Me," your login will persist for two weeks. If you log out of your account, the login cookies will be removed.

If you edit or publish an article, an additional cookie will be saved in your browser. This cookie includes no personal data and simply indicates the post ID of the article you just edited. It expires after 1 day.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on my site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracing your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Analytics

I use WordPress Stats to see which posts and pages on my site are the most popular. The software shows me if a link somewhere else on the web led a visitor to my site, and if the visitor clicks on one of the links on my site, but no information about the visitor is collected.

WordPress Stats is a lower tier of the Jetpack plug-in (which gives more sophisticated analytics). Jetpack’s privacy policy is located here.

Who we share your data with

If you subscribe or leave a comment on my site your data is shared with A Small Orange, the web host for my site. A Small Orange is “a refreshingly different web hosting company which prides itself on providing fast, reliable hosting with exceptional customer service,” and their privacy policy is here.

If you sign up for my newsletter, your data is stored for me by MailChimp. MailChimp’s privacy policy is here. If you sign up, I will send you emails when I have a new book out, a piece of important news, a discount to let you know about, or when I want to share a cool bit of lore from one of my stories. Signing up for my newsletter means you consent to receive such emails from me.

How long we retain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so I can recognize and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on my website (if any), I also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators (that’s me, and only me, for now) can also see and edit that information.

What rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data I hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that I erase any personal data I hold about you. This does not include any data I am obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

Where we send your data

Visitor comments may be checked through an automated spam detection service. If you sign up for my newsletter, your data is stored for me by MailChimp. MailChimp’s privacy policy is here.

Contact information

Please email me (J.M. Ney-Grimm) at j -dot- neygrimm -at- yahoo -dot- com, if you have any privacy concerns or questions about the privacy of data stored by my website.

 

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