Long time no see/read … and I’m very sorry about that. Like for many people, my life has changed a lot during the pandemic. I was quite productive (I wrote 52 short stories last year) and enjoyed the time as best I could. Of course there were many things that took a lot of adjusting, but I never lost the urge to write.
That changed drastically at the beginning of this year. I began to avoid my novel. Instead I planned another three that are now waiting to be written, and dabbled in short and flash stories. Those are fun but not as satisfying as novels. Then the war in Ukraine started, and I haven’t been able to write more than a few words since then. Not even the writing event Camp NaNo changed that (and I had high hopes).
The flurry of activities, the noise (even though mostly happy), the returning people (or dear, the people, even family and friends) seem to be too much after more than two years of silence. Analyzing my feelings (or temporary lack thereof), I think I have some form of depression or burnout. It’s not that I don’t want to write, I do, I just can’t seem to get myself to actually do it. It’s a pattern I know from both my husband and son. So I decided I won’t allow myself to remain in this state. That only brings about self-pity. From my husband and son, I’ve learned that slow and steady with plenty of downtime gets one back on one’s feet.
So I’m setting myself some small goals. I decided to post each one here to see how it goes. As you know I’m not tremendously good at writing blog posts regularly, but I’ll do my very best. Maybe seeing me making progress and relapsing but never giving up helps you, too, to adjust to the new normal.
My first goal was to update the website, which I did successfully. I added all the short stories that were published over the last two years, and since they didn’t fit into the menu any longer, I put them on a separate page.
I even made a cover for the story “A Twist on Katlani’s Plan” that I’m quite proud of. I sold it in February 2021 and it’s free to read. Check it out if you want and let me know if you like it.
My next goal is to write an interesting Flash Fiction story for the upcoming bloghop. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll do my best and hope you will too.
I’m sorry I missed the September post. Time just ran away from me. My husband turned 60 a few days ago (which needed some organizing), my in-laws hadn’t done their taxes yet (and I’m good with tax documents, so they requested my help), the 5 anthologies for the flood victims here in Germany (July 2021) needed a lot of my attention, and Frankfurt Bookfair (I needed a catalog) and NaNoWriMo (the prep-work is mostly done now) are approaching fast.
Due to this, many of my projects have been pushed back a bit, and I clean forgot about posting in September. But I’m catching up. I’m still good in time with my “52 short story this year” challenge (36 out of 40 finished), the series I plan to write next year under my new pen-name is developing nicely with some really cool ideas, and I’ve got a few really cool client projects that I’m looking forward to or currently working on.
You’ll hear from me again soon because it’s October which means the quarterly Bloghop is due. I hope you’re looking forward to your free stories again.
Oh, and I’d love suggestions on what you’d be interested for themed posts. I’m running out of subjects again, and it’s so much easier to motivate myself when I know what I want to write about.
Since the next free flash story on this blog will drop on the 28th, this post will be a short one.
Except for January 2021 (personal reasons), I’ve been continuously publishing at least one book since April 2020. Most of them were new releases (5 volumes of “A Gaggle of Stories“, Das geheime Leben der Fabeltiere 1: Meerjungfrauen, Dilaras Wegträumgeschichten, Centennial Sisters (as Leonie Joy)), but there were also re-releases of existing titles (Angel’s Freedom, Victor’s Rage) and bundles (3 bundles with 3 volumes each of the series “Treasures Retold“). Many of these have been published in two languages (German and English).
That seems to be a lot of publications. The problem is that I haven’t written all that much new stuff last year. Except for a handful of short stories and the basic plan for a series and a historical novel, last year was the least productive in a very long time.
That’s mostly my grandson#s fault who had to stay at home due to Covid19. He made me rediscover how wonderful it is to stop working once in a while. I thoroughly enjoyed turning him into an astronaut (see picture) or read books to him.
And then, I got the news that my hubby’s workplace will finally be adapted to his needs. This means he’ll be able to keep working which reduces my need to earn a lot of money. Therefore, I decided to enjoy life more and to reduce the hours I work on my stories. I’ve still got enough material on my harddrive(s) to keep publishing for at least 6 months, but I’ll slow down a bit and concentrate on my family and on writing the best novels I can without pushing myself.
I’m not yet sure how often I’ll keep posting to this Blog, but I promise to keep at least the quarterly free flash stories for the Storytime Bloghop (as I said, the next one is on the 28th of April).
Welcome to the new year. Hopefully 2021 will be better to us, even though it started out with a BANG (not only in the news but in my family too). Before you’re scared off by the rant that’s following (only this once, promised), please leave your wishes for subjects or themes I should be blogging about. I’ve run out of ideas again but would love to create a list of interesting topics like last year to help me through the year. Just leave me a topic in the comments.
And now back to the two ps I’m not going to mention again after this post: the current political upheavals and the pandemic. We’ll start with the latter. I know the restrictions for the pandemic are hard for everyone, but don’t forget that everyone suffers for the sake of their fellow humans. But that is not the only way how you can help if you want.
Do you have a family member, friend, neighbor, or acquaintance you haven’t been in contact for a while? Call them. Make sure they’re okay, that no black clouds are hanging over them. Depression sneaks up on you and sometimes you don’t even know you’ve got it before it’s too late. If you’ve got the funds, gift your friend a book or eBook. Taking one’s mind off the two ps is a good way to find your center again.
And don’t forget yourself either. If you’re living alone, try to get some fresh air daily, even if it’s just standing at a window for a little while (better would be a walk in an uncrowded area). Keep your distance from anyone not living with you and wear a mask. And if you feel like it, let me know you’re okay. I keep worrying about my family, my friends, and my readers. Hopefully this will be over soon.
As to the second p (politics), I’ll just say, listen to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He might not be a specialist on Nazis, but he’s lived through what they left of the German countries. Since the aim of Nazis is the destruction of democracy, the ONLY way to handle Nazis is to chase them away, cut off their access to mass media, and/or lock them up (if they can be rightfully charged). And that is NOT censorship. They’re still allowed to say what they believe. It’s just a severe reduction of their platform. One thing to always keep in mind: if you find yourself agreeing with a Nazi (or similar), you’re in the wrong. There’s no debate possible about that.
I am not taking sides. I just would like to drop one thought into your minds. Here in Germany, we’ve got Conservatives too (plus many more parties), but even the ones farthest to the right are still pro democracy. If the people you support aren’t, you should rethink your values.
Thank you for bearing with me. I (hopefully) won’t need to rant again any time soon.
I know you’ve been waiting patiently, and I appreciate that. I meant to publish the final volume at the beginning of this year but as you can read if you go to the older posts, that just didn’t work out.
But now, I’m finally able to sit again which means I’m working on the revision. During the time I spent on my belly (roughly from May till now), I translated the chapters I already had using dictation. That went fine, but revision is something that just doesn’t work with dictation. At least not for me.
After I stopped writing the first draft in November last year, I added sentences for the missing scenes so I’d know what needed to be written. Now I’m pretending that I already did write those scenes (7-8 in total) and started on the revision. Naturally I’m using my abbreviated version of How To Revise Your Novel for that since this book is a mess (unwritten scenes, missing clues that are needed for the ending, a superfluous character, and more).
But as my beta readers can attest you, I’m fast when it comes to revision (at least now that I’m more or less healthy again). Therefore I’m aiming for a release in late September. It’s a tight schedule, but I should be able to pull it off IF Murphy doesn’t throw some additional stuff my way (like the broken central heating that needed replacing and that is getting repaired today – grrr). So please don’t get angry should the book get delayed a little more than that. I’m doing my best, working as fast as I can.
As a thank you for your patience, I’m already showing you the cover and hope you like it as much as I do.
Sometimes, life just explodes, and that happened to me in November. In a rapid succession, my kids moved (one even twice), and I was so busy with the paperwork and the actual moving that all my writing plans were blown to smithereens until April.
Then, in May, my doctor found an issue with my digestive system that required a tiny operation. Really, the cut couldn’t have been more than 10mm (a little more than 1/4 inch), but I’ve been flat out ever since. I’m sleeping, swallowing pain meds and sleeping again. It took me by surprise, but seems to be the norm. When I complained, the doc told me, it’ll take roughly six weeks. Thanks for the advance warning. 😀
Well, I did the best I could. Today way my first day of getting back into the swing of things. I lay on my bed and dictated the translation of “High School Dragons: Crowned by Fire”, the final volume of the trilogy. Yes, it’s close to completion. All I need to write is the showdown. Since I need to read the whole story again to get in the right mood, I’m translating at the same time. That saves me time and nerves and makes a late summer/early autumn release likely.
An interesting fact I only discovered recently was that the data I collected with my sensors will not be stored on my PC even when I download them from the hand held gadget. Naturally that makes it quite impossible to do any long term analytics. There also is no way to store the Freestyle Libre data in a format that would allow me to use an analytical program. The only thing I can do is compare the ready made analysis from one day or month with another. I find that rather annoying, so I called support. They told me that only the cloud system they’ve got will store data long term.
And I hate cloud based systems. I do not want my data, regardless which data, to be anywhere but on my own PC if at all. That might be old-fashioned but I do not trust the security, no matter how often anyone assures me that their security is the best. Imho there’s no better security than a PC that’s not online. That way, no sensitive data (and health related data is considered extremely sensitive) will ever get out of my sight. So in my eyes, not having an option to store data long term on my own PC is a huge drawback of the software.
Since I didn’t know this beforehand, I wasn’t able to compare the latest with earlier data or to spot a trend. Of course some things with my blood sugar were pretty straightforward: higher blood sugar levels over Christmas and New Year and whenever the cold showed up again (and it raised its ugly head several times already this year). Also, I had several really low blood sugar drops. Measurements went as far down as 70-75mg/dl which isn’t critical yet (Hypoglycemia starts at 50mg/dl) but the gadget still warned me of low sugar levels.
I found that they show up more often when I had eaten a lot of “junk” food (like white flour rolls, cookies, cake, and the like). That’s a sign that my body produces a lot of insulin to cope with the influx of sugar, but because it’s a sugar variant that’s easily digested, it vanishes out of the blood stream so fast. Then, the remaining insulin calls for MORE carbohydrates. It’s a vicious cycle because if one really follows that craving one naturally gains weight. Its best to ignore the tiny piranhas gnawing at your intestines. I drink some water and sit it out (or go for a walk).
Since most of the time my blood sugar is too high, not too low, I drink a glass of grapefruit juice daily. I get a small but short lived spike shortly after drinking, but the dropdown later makes up for it. Grapefruit juice takes the blood sugar down better than my medicine. I highly recommend grapefruit juice (try to get some that has been freshly pressed, it’s tastier) for diabetics like me. It generally helps to get a grip on your blood sugar.
As I said last time, Romans liked colors. They painted the walls of their homes with different shades of red, white and green, often mixed with mosaics, patterns, or detailed murals. Often, the outsides of the houses were painted too. In the recreated houses in Xanthen, the color of choice was a dark-ish red. In these two photos you can see a restored restaurant, but the color was the same as on the private homes. I cannot tell you if the archeologists got that from research in Roman documents, from finds on other sites (like Pompeij) or from finds on this site, but it surely looked nice.
The restored restaurant even had a cellar, a feature many of the houses didn’t have. But the restaurant had to keep wine and vegetables cooled. Storing them underground was the best way to keep them because even in summer, the soil remained fresh and cold in a cellar. The thick walls and the buried amphorae ensured this. Food was fetched as needed.
I can’t tell how many houses shared this feature but would expect that at least the upper class had their own cellars if for wine only.
Not far from the restored restaurant were the remains of a smithy. You can see how sturdily the foundations were built. Some bricks were built in vertically to better spread out the weight of walls, floors, and furniture resting on top of them. This photo is quite interesting because by the size and form of the foundations one can determine where the walls used to be, and also where the furnace and the anvil must have stood.The open areas between the foundations were there to allow the hot air from the floor heating to circulate.
I had my diabetes completely under control until early November. With a weekly average around 118-120mg/dL (which converts to 6,5-6,6%), my blood sugar levels resembled that of a healthy human. However, my skin is still thinner than usual and the nail of my left thumb easily rips (from the tip of the nail downward into the flesh which hurts like hell). I blame these symptoms on my diabetes since I’ve never had them before the diagnosis.
Then, Stress (yes, capitalized) hit me hard. My eldest, her best friend, and my youngest decided to move, and I had to fight myself through a mountain of paperwork, battle off an unreasonable landlord, help carry furniture and clothes six floors down and four flours up.
During that time I still managed to eat only twice a day, and I’m proud to say that despite the Stress, I did not gain weight again (something I’m prone to do when stressed). I also managed to eat reasonably well during Christmas. Only the Chinese food we had on the 25th was a disaster for my diabetes, but I’d already anticipated that. Still, my blood sugar levels worsened from early November on until past x-mas. Then, I got a cold (seems obligatory for me between the years) and my sugar levels exploded. Some days they didn’t even go below 160mg/dL no matter how much exercise I got or how little I ate.
Some research revealed that my own liver was at fault. Due to the fact that my body was battling the cold, it had decided we’d need more energy to get that done. So it freed sugar from its fatty deposits. Unfortunately my cells weren’t responsive enough (yet) to funnel the high amount of sugar out of the blood stream fast enough.
Now that the cold and the Stress are mostly over, blood sugar levels are getting more normal again. I’ll keep monitoring them and will keep you posted on my progress. I’ll also return to a one-carbohydrate-free-meal-a-day strategy as soon as it gets a little warmer. After all, I want to lose some more weight this year.
At home the Romans dressed casually but, since Germany was a comparatively cold country, with warm dresses. The Roman men adapted with time and often wore the long under-trousers that German men wore. The toys of the children were often similar to those still used today (waddling animals like ducks, spinning tops, marbles, etc.). Shoes were made of leather and protected the feet from the cold and the sharpest shards. Still, you felt every stone through the thin sole (I know because I bought a pair for myself. They’re very comfortable but much like walking barefoot).
As far as I could tell, Romans loved bright colors. The fabrics in the rooms we saw were mostly yellows, greens, reds, and the natural shades of wool. Strangely enough I didn’t see any floor coverings or wall hangings (like carpets or tapestries). I’m not sue if they didn’t exist or if the reconstructing people just didn’t think them important. To me, the rooms looked rather spartan (in the modern sense of the word since Romans most likely didn’t copy Spartan living styles 😀 )
When the Romans left the house, they had a strict dress code. The amount and quality of the fabric a person wore depended on the family’s financial situation. The more and the better, the higher your status. Togas were used for keeping warm during winter but also for showing respect. For example: women who didn’t cover their feet with the toga they were wearing weren’t respectable. In Roman times, only whores and the very poor would show their feet. A man could even divorce his wife if she was seen withe more than the tips of her toes showing beneath her toga. So the picture on the right is wrong in that regard (I’ll tell you in a later post how I learned these details).
As you can see in the picture on the left, security measures during work weren’t yet invented. Like this smith, the Romans wore comfortable clothes for even the most dangerous work. I bet there were a lot of work related accidents.
Germans wore far warmer clothing. Since they didn’t have amenities like heated floors, they wore long skirts and heavy trousers even inside their houses. Outside they usually had several layers to keep off the cold and the rain. I guess in summer they wore pretty much the same indoors as out. But our guide didn’t say anything about that, so that’s guesswork on my side.
I believe that most Romans in Xanthen bought their fabric from Germans except for the richest who surely imported theirs directly from Rome. But not everybody had the means to do that. Our guide confirmed active trading.