Stress aaaand…release

With a title like that, I’m sure you’ve all guessed that I’ve been under some pressure lately. Oddly enough, the one person who didn’t know was me. I thought I was having a heart attack or something. Duh. The doctor said most emphatically that there was NOTHING wrong with my heart!

There, that was the good news and the bad news in two short sentences. The lived reality was a little more drawn out though, and probably began on Christmas Eve, 2018, when I started to get muscle spasms in my back. The reason? Trying to mow about an acre of steep land with a battery driven lawnmower and whippersnipper [edge cutter for non-Australians].

I’d been mowing little bits for weeks, so my back was used to the backwards and forwards motion of the lawn mower; it was the side-to-side motion of the whippersnipper that actually did me in. Continuing to do normal ‘stuff’ for a few more days compounded the problem and led to about four weeks of misery. As the muscle is in my middle back, twisting hurt, getting into bed hurt, rolling over in bed hurt, pushing up from bed to go to the loo was agony. All because those damn muscles are used by our arms for just about everything.

Adding to this physical misery was the weather. Fire season has been awful this year, and despite the rain during the last couple of days, I’m still not sure it’s over because the ground is bone dry. With so little moisture in the ground, any day with wind becomes a potential bushfire day. Warrandyte has had many small fires, but nothing major, unlike the rest of the state, thank god. So add an almost constant, low grade fear to the backache.

Part of the reason for that fear was that I was due to start my paid job in April. Who would turn on the pumps and protect everything if I was out working?

As things turned out, the start date was delayed until the 3rd of May, which was just as well because April ended up being an awful month. Beloved little friend Buffa died, the offspring had medical issues, lots of driving backwards and forwards, very little sleep, constant anger thanks to the political situation both here and overseas and bang, I had what felt like heart palpitations…for hours.

As I said at the beginning of this post, the doctor said it wasn’t my heart. All the tests proved that it wasn’t my heart, but I wasn’t ready to accept that it was ‘just’ stress and anxiety until yesterday. You see yesterday was the day I taught my first class at the retirement village, and it was wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that I could literally feel the weight of all this combined fear and anxiety falling off my shoulders.

Last night I slept for seven hours straight. Today I feel ready to take on the world again. More importantly, I feel like me again, positive, optimistic, Pollyanna-esque me. 🙂

I don’t like talking about negative things much, especially when they relate to me, but this episode really shocked me as I’d always thought of myself as quite laid back, competent, easy going…

I was wrong, and I suspect I’m not alone, so if your life feels as if everything is becoming too much, please don’t soldier on. Stress creeps up on all of us, no matter how strong we think we are, and stress can cause actual, physical symptoms. Chronic stress can also depress the immune system which can then lead to even more problems.

Please, don’t dismiss the negative things in your life as ‘just’ stress. There’s no such thing. Stress can cause real damage, so be kind to yourself and put some balance back in your life. If you are doing too much, take a good long look at your day, and ask yourself whether all of those tasks are really important, or whether they’re just part of you, wanting to live up to your superwoman image?

The crunch for me came when I realised that I was physically incapable of driving all the way across town and back on just a couple of hours sleep. But I did need to be at that appointment so I threw my very tight budget out the window and took a taxi there and back. Those two trips cost me almost $200, but I ended up napping in the back seat of the taxi instead of at the wheel of my car.

I’d like to be superwoman, but at 66 I’m starting to learn my limits. And I’m so much happier for it.

-big hugs-

Meeks

 


Who Knows the History of Traditional Publishing?? — Plaisted Publishing House

Not many. Especially readers. Well, guess what it’s only been around for approx 120 – 150 years at most. Writers used to go out an find a printer who would print copies of their manuscripts, pay them and then the writer would sell their books to the public. Oh, wait! Isn’t this what we do […]

via Who Knows the History of Traditional Publishing?? — Plaisted Publishing House

I seriously did not know that Mark Twain was an Indie! Click the link to read the whole article. It’ll make Indie authors smile, and it might make readers give us a chance the next time they buy a book. 🙂


Smorgasbord Easter Parade Blog Party – Part Two – Music, dancing, food, Behatted guests and time to drop you links.

This post made me smile today, and even if you’re not an ABBA fan, I really, really recommend that you watch the flashdance video. As you do, keep an eye out for a very brief shot of someone in the window, looking down.

Click the link below to go to Sally’s post. Enjoy!

via Smorgasbord Easter Parade Blog Party – Part Two – Music, dancing, food, Behatted guests and time to drop you links.


An atheist’s Easter

I’ve mentioned before that I’m an atheist, but I probably didn’t mention that I only became one when I was about seventeen. Until then, I was a Catholic.

I ‘came out’ as an atheist during my matriculation year at school. Back then, matric was year twelve, and your matriculation scores determined which university, and course,  you would be offered. I matriculated at an all-girl, Catholic convent school.

The headmistress of the school was an amazing woman called Sister Philomena. She was not a cuddly nun. She was an academic in a wimple, and once she [and the local priest and representatives from the arch diocese] accepted that my claim was genuine, she did two amazing things. First, she allowed me to stay at school and finish my matric. Second, she allowed me to skip religion classes. This amounted to approximately half an hour of free time every day. I spent that time practising the piano in one of the music rooms. I’ve often wondered whether I would have passed matric piano without all that extra practice time.

The reason I’m boring you all with this ancient history is so you’ll understand that I’m still a committed atheist, but my ethics have their roots in the Catholic concepts of sacrifice, charity, compassion and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Those are the concepts I consciously retained after much questioning. I retained them because they gelled with who I was as a person. I still believe in them, especially the ‘do unto others’ bit.

In my not so humble opinion, compassion and empathy are the two greatest human traits. They are the only traits that make us worthwhile as a species. They are the only traits that balance out the greed and selfishness and outright hatred that always lead us to war.

Yet when I look at the world on this Good Friday, 2019, I see nothing but greed and selfishness and outright hatred in the West. The US, the UK, parts of Europe and Australia are all in the grip of a frenzy of ‘us against them’, and I can’t see a way out because each side is convinced they are right.

To be honest, I don’t see how I, personally, can compromise on the issues I believe in when the ‘other side’ is doing such awful things. I won’t name them, not today, but I will ask people on both the Left and the Right to stop for a moment and ask – is this how compassionate people behave? Is this how people who believe in a Christian god treat their fellow man?

I’ve never forgotten the parables I learned in school, and here is the one that I live by:

The Good Samaritan

‘”Love your neighbor as yourself” was part of the Old Testament law (Leviticus 19:18). But the Jewish teachers had often interpreted “neighbor” to include only people of their own nationality and religion. The expert in the law was looking to Jesus for justification for that interpretation, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In response, Jesus told His famous Parable of the Good Samaritan.’

https://www.christianbiblereference.org/jparable.htm

To the Jews, Samaritans were ‘the Other’. The lesson here was, and is, that we are all neighbours, and we all deserve to be helped. It is also a plea for compassion. Sadly compassion is in very short supply at this moment in time. Hypocrisy, however, is everywhere.

Part of the reason I became an atheist was because my youthful self rebelled against the hypocrisy I saw all around me. So called ‘good’ Catholics who went to church every Sunday, said their prayers and left a donation for the ‘poor’ and then went away convinced they had done their bit. Worse, they were convinced that they were so good, they were justified in lying and cheating all week.

Those people did not live their beliefs, they only paid lip service to them. They were also the first to speak out against any ‘other’ who was different. They did not do unto others as they would have wanted to be treated themselves.

Why? Because they were the righteous. They were the saved. They were entitled….

Now, fifty years on, I see the same sense of entitlement in many who consider themselves to be ‘good’ Christians.

This is not a post against religion. It is a post for the principles that religions are meant to be based on.

This Easter, we all need to ask ourselves if we are doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. If the answer is no, let’s do better.

Meeks

 

 


Notre Dame de Paris, 2019

Just logged on and the first thing I see is news that the Notre Dame is burning. Apparently the towers will be saved but the roof and the beautiful spire are gone. God knows what’s left inside, but I fear that the magnificent garouilles [gargoyles] may have been lost with the roof.

I know it’s a strange thing to mourn something so small as a gargoyle, but when I was twenty-one, I visited the Notre Dame, climbed to the top and saw those gargoyles for myself. Touched them. Marvelled at the artistry. Fell in love with them. I even bought a plaster gargoyle from the hawkers down below and kept it for decades until it finally broke.

Love happens because it happens, and I’ve always loved the Notre Dame and those gargoyles.

I know the cathedral will be rebuilt. I know it will be even more beautiful in the end, but…it won’t be my Notre Dame any more. I shudder to think how much pain the people of Paris must be feeling right now.

Je vous aime

 

 

Meeks

 


Buffa

12th April 2019, aged 11.

Buffa – proving that he could so get into that puppy bed. Way too smart for his own good. Gone too soon.

 


Review – The Prince’s Man by Deborah Jay

I gave Deborah Jay’s novel – The Prince’s Man –  5/5 stars and posted this review on both Goodreads and Amazon:

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started reading ‘The Prince’s Man’, but the reality blew me away. The story is a grown up fantasy reminiscent of Robin Hobb’s Farseer series [which I also happen to love]. You’ll find Machiavellian politics, intrigue, loyalty, a hint of love, and a cast of characters you can relate to. Yes, they have their flaws, but don’t we all?

To my mind, watching the characters change and grow is at least half the fun. The other half is getting to know the world in which those characters live. In all types of speculative fiction, the world is as much of a ‘character’ as the characters themselves. Think how important the planet Arrakis is to the story of Dune.

As readers we want to step out of our everyday lives and get lost in another world. And the author does not disappoint. The otherness of The Prince’s Man is evident right from the start, but there are no boring info. dumps. We learn about the world in the same way we learn about the human characters, by watching the story unfold, a bit at a time.

And finally, I’d like to say something about the plot. It. Is. Not. Predictable. To me, that’s one of the book’s greatest strengths. I like to be surprised, and nothing puts me off more than ‘the same old same old’. In The Prince’s Man, the author kept me guessing right to the end.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book of the series, and I highly recommend this one to anyone who likes a story with real meat on its bones.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2770933130

I’ve been horribly slack about posting reviews the last year or so, and for that I apologise. Diana Peach’s review of Nabatea reminded me of the impact our reviews have on the authors who write the books we read. I have posted some reviews on Amazon, but not enough. From here on out, I intend to update my Goodreads account with reviews of the books I’ve enjoyed the most. I read an awful lot so I can’t review everything, but I will do better than I have been doing todate. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


Resources for Writers – Reddit

I have read mentions of ‘Reddit’ for so long that I should know what it’s about, but I don’t. I’ve always been too busy, or lazy, to find out. This fabulous article is going to change all that:

Social Media is the place to ask questions and make connections. As a writer, many of the magazines I publish in or authors/editors I meet are via connections on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. One platform that I also visit for this purpose is Reddit.

Not only does it give an insight to the platform itself, it provides a list of ‘sub-reddits’ [think groups] that could be invaluable, especially for science fiction writers like me. 🙂

Here’s the link to the article:

https://nowastedink.com/2019/04/05/20-useful-subreddits-for-sff-writers-by-wendy-van-camp/

My thanks to Chris the Story Reading Ape for posting about the article.

Well, it’s Saturday here in Oz, so happy weekend all!

Meeks


Indie Book Month — Promote Your Books

I met a lot of my closest online friends via books. I’ve also read a lot of wonderful books through my friends. Here’s hoping that Charles French’s generous initiative helps us all find new books, and new friends. 🙂

 

via Indie Book Month — Promote Your Books


A review of Nabatea that almost made me cry

Forgive me if I reproduce this review in its entirety, but as a pantster, it’s validation of a sort I never expected to get: 

Oooh, I loved this series, and now that it’s over, I’m suffering from a book hangover.

Nabatea is the final book in the Innerscape series. Book 1 primarily introduces the main character Miira Tahn and guides the reader through her entrance into the virtual world of Innerscape. During Book 2, sabotage, scheming, and political intrigue results in multiple victims including two people close to Miira. In Book 3, the search for truth commences and resolves amidst a cover-up that threatens Miira’s life.

The plot takes off quickly when Miira is confronted with disturbing information about the murders, and her prying questions raise alarms among those who want to hide the truth. A plot to silence her brings in two dedicated investigators who start gathering clues and unraveling the web of lies.

Miira is tenacious, a strong woman, but also vulnerable both physically and emotionally. Her character is compelling and consistent throughout the series, and I teetered on the edge of my seat as the danger to her life increased. Several pivotal new characters enter the action in this book, and though late in the overall story, the author pulled it off without a glitch. All characters are distinct, believable, and emotionally charged.

Flory did a marvelous job of tangling up the truth by loading the story with lies and misinterpretations. The unraveling of the events around the murders as well as the investigation into the cover-up required an intricate job of storytelling that was rather impressive. Several characters are investigating the truth simultaneously, and because they’re coming at it from different angles, their assumptions and conclusions are often erroneous and mismatched. I would recommend reading these books in a tight timeframe to help keep all the complex plot threads straight.

The worldbuilding is exceptional, the dialog natural, the writing and editing flawless. And the ending was highly satisfying as all of the threads tie up nicely. I will definitely read more of this author in the future.

Update April 4, 2019: I was so carried away that I totally forgot to add a link to the actual review. Here it is!

https://www.amazon.com/Nabatea-Innerscape-Book-3-acflory-ebook/dp/B076NN3FZD/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Nabatea&qid=1554248624&s=gateway&sr=8-1

My thanks to Cage Dunn for reminding me. 😀

The review was written by D.Wallace Peach. I forgot to mention that too. I really am good at being an idiot.

Thank you all,

love,

Meeks


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