Saturday, January 08, 2022

The Dreaded Synopsis

When writing my erotic romances, I don't start with a synopsis, I just write. Mostly I start at the beginning, work through the middle, and find the Happily Ever After. Why? Because if I write the synopsis, I'm no longer interested in writing the story. I know what happens and the sense of discovery is gone.

With The Companion my approach was slightly different. I'd started it several times and couldn't find it's opening scene. Out of desperation, I wrote a single-spaced, two-page synopsis to give the story some shape. I then knew where to begin and to be honest, after writing that synopsis? I never looked at it again. While I knew my ending, the events that take place to get there came out of that wonderful sense of creative discovery as I wrote. The novel also ended up being much longer than expected, as I realized taking the short way I'd written in the synopsis didn't allow for any character development.

But The Companion is finished and now looking for a publisher. When I received an email from an editor stating what he's looking for in his next book to acquire, I realized I have his perfect novel. I just have to convince him of it. He wants a 2-3 page synopsis and I'm thinking, "Hey! I have that!"

So I pull out that long-ago written treatment--and discover what I wrote then and what I ended up with are very different. I need a new synopsis.

Three days later, I'm still trying to write it.

I'm coming close, but wow. I gave up my first attempt after I got to six pages and still was only on Kiera's story. Checked the editor's email again and realize he's included a link to an article he'd written on what a good synopsis should contain. For an epic fantasy, he said in the article, one should expect a longer synopsis -- up to 20 pages! Yay!

I open a new document and start breaking the story down the way it's actually written. Each book of the larger work contains three to five chapters, so I can't stick with the usual formula of summarizing each chapter into a paragraph and still remain in my page limit. So I summarize each book and get it to fifteen pages. I'm good.

Then I re-read the email and he really does seem to be expecting two to three pages. A MUCH shorter synopsis.

Sigh.

By this time, I've been writing a full eight hours and my fingers are tired. I put it away for the night and start again the next morning on a new, shorter, synopsis.

And I manage to tell the entire story in three and a half pages. There's no emotional content, it's just a "she did this and then he did that and then they did this other darn thing" sort of telling and it's dry as a bone and totally lifeless. Augh!

By now I have drafted my husband into reading through these pieces and comparing them to the request in the email and getting his feedback. He teaches Public Speaking at the college level and approaches the query letter (which I've also been trying to write) with the same approach he takes to the opening of a speech. He tells me I haven't grabbed my audience yet and I start rewriting that as well.

If you're keeping count, by the end of Day Two, I now have several discarded drafts of a short synopsis, one long one that still needs work, and a query letter that *almost* works.

Day Three dawns and it's time to take down Christmas decorations. I do laundry, take ornaments off the tree, take my brother to a doctor's appointment -- pretty much anything other than face the work I still need to do. But its in the back of my head the entire time, nagging away at me. I finally go up to my study, open the crappy, "this is what they do" synopsis and add in the emotional arc. I move from three pages to six and realize, this is just the way it has to be.

Why? Because I'm really telling not one, but TWO stories here. Martin and Kiera's stories are intertwined and told in parallel throughout the epic. I have it to three pages of synopsis for EACH story. With any luck, the editor will understand that. I hope he will!

So the query letter is written, the short synopsis ("short" being a relative term) is complete, the longer synopsis will be finalized today. I'm sending both versions and he can decide if he wants more information or not. Seems prudent to attach both files--and yes, I've explained my reasoning in the query letter -- which is also too long, but he wants specific information and I've provided it. Remember, the point of the query letter is to get him to open a synopsis and the point of the synopsis is to get him to open the first chapter and the point of the first chapter is to get him to want more -- and to buy my book!

And, of course, this is only Volume One. Trying to sleep in this morning, my brain kicked into gear with what happens next and started writing the synopsis for the NEXT book. I'll actually type that out later today, but expect that, when I finish writing Volume Two, I'll be back here again, rewriting it and fussing once more.

All right. Enough procrastinating. I'm off to make a final read-through of what's going out to the editor before I actually push "Send." Wish me luck!

Play safe,

Diana




Sunday, January 02, 2022

Catching up in the New Year -- Come on, 2022!

 

Missing some photos for my montage,
but here's our tradition!


   New year, new beginnings, new resolutions.

   Putting the old year to bed, settling accounts, and  looking back, however, needs to happen first. To that end...

   I did a great job keeping track of the books I read this year -- right through September, as per usual. In October, however, my reading came to an abrupt halt. Why? I had lines to learn! I went back on stage for the first time in thirty-one years.

   Understand, my undergraduate degree is in Theatre Arts. My husband and I owned a theatre company for eight years. I did my share of directing both community and high school theatre. I played many parts on stage, from chorus girl to lead.

And then I had kids.

Don't mistake me. I know many women who have kids and stay active in the theatre. It wasn't for me. Working a full-time teaching job (which I defy anyone to say is a 40-hour a week job!) left me with precious little time to spend with my babies. Something had to give - and it was the theatre. I became the audience (a much-needed part of the whole!) and left treading the boards to others.

My kids are grown now (my daughter is 30! When did I blink?) and the opportunity arose for me to take on a major role in a world premiere of Just Like Sisters, a play by Jay Hannigan. I played the role of Jolie, the more comedic of the three female parts -- and loved it. I had more fun (and anxiety -- not having used my memory muscle in thirty years meant some scary "what's my next line?" moments!) than I thought I would and am thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with a love of my youth.

But learning lines (I had a third of all the lines in the play) takes work (see "anxiety" above) and that left little time for reading. We started rehearsals at the beginning of October and the show went up the weekend before Thanksgiving. I managed to read the newspaper and some online news stories and that was about it.

December, however, brought a different story. The show was done, I had arthroscopic knee surgery on November 30th for a torn meniscus, which meant a lot of time sitting on my rump and healing. To that end, I read three books before Christmas!

My hubby came to me at one point in November and said, "I know you'd be happy with no other Christmas presents than books. Which ones are on your want list?" Can you see why I love him so much? I gave him a list of authors and books and figured he'd get me two or three. He got me twelve! Twelve!!!!

I've read two of them so far -- and am trying to take my time and not read so fast. I devour books, and am thinking maybe taking a little more time with each might be better for me.

Yeah, who am I kidding? I'll continue to devour, re-reading the ones I like the most, passing on the ones not worthy of my shelf space.

So what did I read?

Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Diana Gabaldon) - this is a definite keeper and will be re-read many times.

Dear Santa and Christmas in Alaska (Debbie Macomber) - how could I resist that second title when I spent a month there this year? Both have been passed on already.

The Awakening and The Becoming (Nora Roberts) - the first two in her new fantasy series. Brand new - first edition hard covers my hubby got me for Christmas. I'm liking the series and will keep these. Yes, that meant I had to remove two books from my shelves to be passed on (sorry, The Color Purple (Alice Walker) and The Chocolate War (Robert Cormier) -- time to find new homes!).

All told, I recorded reading 56 books in 2021. That's fewer than usual - mostly because 1) I finished writing my own big book (The Companion, Part I is done!) and 2) I was in a play. :)

So that's my look back. Looking forward, I'll keep a record of what I read this year (my resolution) and write more books (my new beginnings).

Happy New Year!


Sunday, September 26, 2021

It's done! ~0r~ How I Wrote An Epic Fantasy

The history:

I first started The Companion over twenty-five years ago when I envisioned two groups of people: Earth Mothers and Sky Fathers and a specific conflict between them. It was 1995 and I wrote the first draft of the first chapter, starting the story when the protagonists were Chosen and sent for training. Five years of training, I figured, five books, one for each year of school.

Then J.K.Rowling published Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Different system, different world, same structure. Not wanting to be a copycat even in that, I set it aside, starting the story in different places over the years, unable to find the right hook for the first chapter. I even pitched it to an Avon editor in 2004, who liked the idea (at that time, the school scenes were going to be flashbacks) and who asked for the first three chapters and a synopsis. 

Yeah, she didn't buy it and she was right to do so. That opening still wasn't right.

In the meantime, Ellora's Cave found me and I found erotic romance as a genre. I published story after story, as many as six in a year (usually one or two full-length novels, two or three novellas and a Quickie or two). Pushing the envelope was fun and I honed my writing ability with the help of my EC editor while periodically coming back to the story I really wanted to tell: The Companion.

Eureka! Or not...

Somewhere in the late 2000's I found the opening. Even as I wrote it, I could feel inside that, at last, THIS was the way the story should start. Drop the whole school thing and concentrate on the protagonist's work out in the field. Literal fields. As in bringing health (the Earth Mothers) and rain (the Sky Fathers) to the farmers.

But world-building is hard. There are all sorts of items to consider: what kind of money do they have? What does the government look like? Who lives in what part of the land? I had to draw a map and figure distances so I knew how long it took to travel from Point A to Point B - and how those times changed whether on horseback or walking. I had to figure out the rules that governed the world, and how the conflict had interfered with those rules. A thousand little details that often kept me up at night until I'd rise and write them down so I wouldn't forget.

I started a story "bible" in a notebook filled with these details - it's the only thing that's kept me sane throughout twenty-five years of working on this behemoth. Because that's what it became. The deeper I got into the real story, the more I realized this was a Big Book. Think Diana Gabaldon big. Or Brandon Sanderson big. It's complicated, it's (hopefully) compelling, and it takes time to tell right.

...and....full stop.

I'd gotten to around 147,000 words -- already a large book by industry standards -- and got stuck. Real life kept getting in the way. There were so many details to be kept in my head as I wrote that I needed time to push the real world away so I could live in my fantasy world. Only then could I get momentum. A day here and there just wasn't cutting it.

The story languished, in part because of time, but also because of that darn structure. I'd decided now on a three book structure: Book 1 told one protagonist's point of view, Book 2 told the other protagonist's point of view, and Book 3 would tell the world's point of view.

And then I realized I was really telling the same story three times. I tried dovetailing the two protagonists's stories, telling a few chapters of one and the a few of the other. But my confidence shook like a poplar tree's leaves in a storm. I stopped writing entirely.

Enter Storyknife

Getting the residency there saved my sanity -- and The Companion. I wrote over 47,000 words in my month there and that gave me the momentum I needed. Carrying that seclusion with me when I came home from Alaska wasn't easy, but thank the Good Lord above I have a wonderful husband who understand creative needs. He gave me most of July, staying out of my way as I eased myself back into twenty-first century American life.

August, however, crashed through my momentum, with tasks that pulled me out of my book-world almost every day. I despaired. I was close. SO close to the end I could see it on the horizon. Yet doctor's visits, responsibilities, life in general, all conspired against my writing time and I knew I had to take drastic measures.

On September 4th, I went to the cabin -- with its iffy electricity and uncertain heat. We had a cold spell, but that's what sweatshirts are for. I wrote. The weather warmed up, the electricity remained iffy. I'd write and charge during the day (we have solar panels on our roof), but not use any electricity at night. I saved often and spent too much time alone.

Sidenote: I have discovered that, while I'm still mostly an introvert, I do like having people nearby. Those Storyknife dinners were exactly the right amount of social interaction I needed to keep my sanity, but not intrusive enough to pull me out of my book-world. The cabin is too isolated - with only me to keep myself company.

Yay!

But, on September 16, 2021, I wrote the last chapter of The Companion. Coming in at 247,000 words, it tells half the story I want to tell. Yes, that means there will be another book. Or two. There are a few side characters standing at the door, knocking and wanting to have their say.

So I say it's done, but that's a relative term to a writer. I have a few beta readers who are going through it, looking at it with fresh eyes and finding some holes here and there. So far, easily fixed, but I need their objective eyes to see what I can't. I'm looking for an agent now (one letter off, more to go on Monday) and expect another read will bring to light more edits. Yes, I'm going traditional publishing with this book. It has maps!

But the draft is done.

And yes, the next book is begun. I have pages of notes detailing what needs to be included, and have so far written 1818 words. Four digits. It's a start. And do I know yet if I've started in the right place? 

Nope. Not a clue.

And I have an erotic romance just begging to be finished, and a young-adult historical fiction that wants attention, and....and...and. I just may take the time to finish the one, polish the other, and get those published while finding a home for The Companion. And then I'll carve myself another few weeks and enter the book-world again, telling the stories of the further adventures of a certain set of protagonists.

Play safe!

Diana/Cindy

(remember, you can find me on Facebook as Diana Hunter or as Cindy Duprey)




Monday, August 02, 2021

I'm baaack! And I read books. And I wrote, too!

     If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you know the past several months have been...hectic. In April my Dad went into hospice and I spent every day with him. I read several books as he napped, but never posted the list here (but have below!). He passed away at the end of April and I spent May cleaning his apartment, nursing my husband through a partial knee replacement, and getting ready to go to Storyknife in Homer, Alaska. I managed only two books that month (both short!) because time was scheduled to the second.

Moonset following closely upon sunset
over Mount Illiamna 
Storyknife
Homer, Alaska

     June I spent in Alaska - and loved every minute of it. While most of my time was spent writing (a total of 47,000+ new words on The Companion, my epic fantasy), I spent several of my evenings curled up with the most wonderful view of volcanoes and a good book, mostly ebooks, since they take up no additional room in my suitcase.

     July has been a mixed month. I've spent a great deal of it riding my Storyknife high (wrote another 37,000+ words on the same fantasy - I did say it was an epic!) and the rest of it picking up the pieces that fell off my plate in May. I've rediscovered my One True Love (aka: my husband) after 40 years of marriage and a full month apart (our longest time away from each other since the day we said, "I does."). 


The 70's wallboard
on the hall walls that 
needs to go!
Together we decided it was time the house got an upgrade, so my study has gotten new shades (thank you, Storyknife for showing me what kind I wanted!), and will soon have a brand-new wall-to-wall carpet. The previous owners of our 1890's house put in very good carpet in the 1970's -- and it's still here. As I said, time for an upgrade!

And so, without any more fuss, here's my list of books read:

March

Lady Whistledown Strikes Back - Julia Quinn
On the Way to the Wedding - Julia Quinn
The Time of Contempt - Andrzej Sapkowski (Witcher series)
A Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwab
The Librarians and the Lost Lamp - Greg Cox
The Lost and Found Bookshop - Susan Wiggs

April
Oathbringer - Brandon Sanderson
Rhythm of War - Brandon Sanderson
The Forgotten Room - Lauren Willig, Karen White, Beatriz Williams
Below Stairs - Margaret Powell

May
Peace by Chocolate - Jon Tattie (non-fiction)
Dark Eden - Chris Becket

June
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels - India Holton
Men in Kilts - Katie McAlister
People We Meet on Vacation - Emily Henry
The Duchess Deal - Tessa Dare
The Governess Game - Tessa Dare
The Corset Diaries - Katie McAlister

July
A Scot at Heart - Caroline Linden
Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss
Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss
The Slow Regard of Silent Things - Patrick Rothfuss
Rogues (anthology) - ed. by George RR Martin and Gardener Dozois

As you can see, I slant heavily toward romance and fantasy, but spice it up with other genre as well. And The Slow Regard of Silent Things is one of my top three favorite books of all time. I re-read it at least once a year.

That brings us up-to-date! My August will mostly be spent writing - although RL (real life) is going to be more intrusive this month in the form of long-put-off doctor's visits and whatnot. Will post a picture of the finished hallway and study once the carpet is in. :)

Play safe, get vaccinated!

Diana/Cindy

(Yes, I'm including my real first name - and will from now on. I've been posting more to Facebook as me rather than Diana - as I said in May, my plate was so full, if something fell on the floor, it was going to have to stay there as I didn't dare bend over to pick it up and risk upsetting everything else. As I move forward, the Diana Facebook page will remain, but most of my postings are to Cindy Duprey. Come follow me there!)









Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sunset; View from my cabin
July 19, 2021

It's quarter to eleven on the night before Summer Solstice and all is quiet here at Storyknife. In fact, it's been pretty quiet for the past 19 days - quiet enough to get a whole lot of writing done, that's for darn sure.

I wasn't sure what to expect when six female authors of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages all came together in one location for an entire month. Those of you who know me, know I'm a quiet kind of person, one who prefers small groups of people over large ones, who likes her alone time, and who doesn't necessarily make friends easily. You can see why I might've been anxious.

My fears were unfounded. The women here are all wonderfully supportive and mutually helpful. From the stories they tell of other residencies, this one may have spoiled me for all others. Erin Hollowell, the Executive Director here (which simply means she's the one who has to fix the doors if they break and change out the batteries in the motion detectors -- as well as fundraise, organize, shop, and ferry us into town to shop/be tourists once a week), has explicitly told us, our job here is only to be. To exist. We can write if we wish, we can recuperate if need be, we can read, we can dance in the meadow...we are to simply be.

I cannot tell you how freeing that is. While we have a few "duties" to perform (we do our own laundry on our assigned laundry day, including washing our own bedding; we also clean up after ourselves after dinner), the remaining hours of the day are ours. Breakfast is available in the main house (Eva's House), lunch is delivered to our door, and we meet as a group once a day for dinner together around the dining table, where dinner is served to us family style by the most wonderful chef, Maura. It took us a while, but we've gotten in the habit of lingering over dinner with cups of tea (perhaps spiced with a dollop of honey whiskey), discussing whatever topics come to mind. Because of our diversity, the conversation is entertaining -- and intellectual.

It's that last I wish to stress for a moment. One doesn't realize how starved one is for high conversation until one has had a year of separation. I miss our Friday Nights on the Porch back home that a bunch of us started a few years back. Several among a bunch of former acquaintances (now friends) have large porches that are conducive to sitting on through a summer's eve. I look forward to continuing that when I get home. It's been wonderful to have it here.

Tomorrow is the longest day of the year and I'm not sure where we'll end up celebrating it, but if it ends up being huddled in blankets on the porch (they've had a cold spring - finally hit 59 today!), I'm okay with that. The important part is the spirit of Storyknife - a marvelous, peaceful bit of land filled with an idea that writing is important - and that women should have a place away from all else in which to do it.

I don't ever want to leave.

I will, of course. I miss my husband very much. I miss my children and I miss my comfy chair. But I also love the fact that they all encouraged me to come here (including the chair, which, I am assured will still be there when I return). I am being renewed. I am being strengthened. I am being.

Play safe,

Diana


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Alaska, here I come!

Well, my bags are packed and I'm ready to go! And if you read/heard that line sung in John Denver's voice, you're showing your age. :)

Regular readers know where I'm headed: Storyknife in Homer, Alaska. This writer's retreat is the dream of Dana Stabenow made real and I'm thrilled to be in the first group of writers to stay in the cabins and fulfill my own dream of having time away from real life to do nothing but live in the world inside my head and write down what I see.

You know those Internet memes that picture some remote cabin and say, "Would you stay here with no Internet, no video games, no TV for one million dollars?" My answer is always a resounding "YES!" Actually, I'd do it for free. So this opportunity to spend time with five other writers, each in our own cabin, is perfect. We'll meet up each day for dinner and companionship, which I've learned over the years IS actually something I enjoy (although for a cool mil? I'd forgo it for a month), but spend our days on our respective projects.

And, unlike other writer's residencies I've looked at, there is no teaching requirement, no word output goal, no demand on our time. This is our time to spend as we each need to. A true luxury.

As for me, I'm setting myself a word-count goal of 3-5000 words per day. Yes, that's putting some pressure on myself, but the key here is: I'm putting the pressure on myself. No one else is. No one else is making me do anything (except my own laundry and I'm good with that - I do some of my best thinking while folding underwear. Really!). I just can't envision myself flying all the way across the country, from the Finger Lakes to Cook Inlet, spending an entire month away from home, and spending money on airline tickets only to come home not having written much. I feel I HAVE to produce SOMETHING.

And I can't wait. I leave tomorrow morning. My hubby is mending well (his partial knee replacement has been a huge success) and my son is here to take care of him. I didn't bother planting much of a garden this year - only garlic down at the cabin (which is another whole mess and source of stress that is a story for another time. Suffice it to say, the cabin is NOT a restful place right now. Evcn in the best of years, it still requires maintenance - which I will not have to do in Alaska. Another reason to be grateful for Dana's dream made real!).

See you in a month!

Play safe and get vaccinated,

Diana

Thursday, May 20, 2021

It's been two months...

...and as a writer, you'd think I'd have the words to express the stress I lived these past several weeks. But I am still too close and I can only explain my absence from all things social media the best way I know how: with a story.

March was fairly normal, to be honest. The country's troubles were still the country's troubles, winter was subsiding (although still very much with us here in the Northeast), and life went on much as it always had, with one notable exception: because of recent surgeries, my dad could no longer drive himself to dialysis three times a week. Heck, he couldn't drive - period. So I'd visit him on Wednesdays to be social and on Saturdays to take him to his dialysis appointment.

The fact that the treatment, week-by-week, was taking longer and longer should've clued me in.

It didn't.

By Saturday, April 3rd, he was exhausted all the time. His energy levels were low and he napped often. I took him for a dialysis treatment that took four hours to complete. His earlier treatments took a little over two, for comparison. I promised to come see him on Monday and made sure he'd eaten, then went home.

I kept my promise, but he had no more energy on Monday than he'd had on Saturday. And on Tuesday, he called to tell me he wasn't going to keep his appointment and had cancelled the transportation that was supposed to take him. I dropped what I was doing and headed up (takes me about 40 minutes to get from my door to his).

He informed me he'd made his decision - no more dialysis. It had become a zero-sum proposition: he was as tired when he came out as he was when he went in. I asked him if he understood what stopping meant and he nodded and said he was ready.

And so the long month of April began.

I spent every day with him, knowing there weren't that many left. We’d spend the afternoons reading – he on his tablet where he could make the font big and me lugging Brandon Sanderson’s new tome with me every day. He’d find videos of music he liked on YouTube and play them for me; I showed him how to use Netflix to find old war movies. He told me stories, some of which were brand new, some of which I’d heard a hundred times. But I listened to them again, knowing I was hearing them for the last time.

I'd go home every night, thankful that the clocks had changed and I could at least do some of the drive while it was still light out. Dad decided the only thing that tasted good were Wendy's Frostys - so we ate a lot of those. At one point, he realized he could have a beer any time he wanted, so he had half a can one morning before noon. The next day he had another and a third the day after that. Then he decided he'd had enough over the years and he was done with beer. And done with Frostys. And pretty much done with everything. At that point, I pretty much moved into his apartment with him and stayed 24/7 so I could give him his pain meds when he woke at night and let him know he wasn't alone.

He died on Friday, April 30th. We'd moved him to a hospice house since he couldn't swallow the pain pills any more and at Hildebrandt Hospice they could give him injections of the pain meds. He fell asleep on Wednesday and never woke up.

I was with him and watched as his breathing slowed. Then, between one breath and the one that never came, his body relaxed and he was gone. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Along came May.

And with it, the funeral, the breaking up of the household, the getting rid of the car - and my husband's partial knee replacement.

Yes, you read that right. Out of one fire and into the next. While I'm doing all of the above, I'm also taking care of my True Love. And I don't mind. In fact, I enjoy it. And he's doing well. Only a few grumpy days - and those because of a by-product of the pain meds that didn't allow a certain bodily function to, well, function. And once it did - do NOT stand between him and the bathroom! J

In between the closing out of one life, the nursing of another, I’m also getting ready to travel to Homer, Alaska – clear on the other side of the continent – to enjoy a writer’s residency at Storyknife. I’d been accepted for last year but, because of COVID, the entire season was cancelled and we were all rescheduled for this year.

I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to be going. Not only because I need a break from real life here (which I do need – desperately!), but because I’m going to get to spend an entire month with other writers, talking shop, and writing. Writing! Something I haven’t been able to do for months now.

So far, I’ve made four copies of the story I’ll be working on while I’m there. One printed out and bound so I can read it (and edit) on the plane, one on my laptop, and two on flashdrives – one which will be with me and one which will go in my checked bag. I managed some time last night to go through my shoes – and toss out three pair that were beyond use (rubber soles should NOT disintegrate just from being in a closet for several years!) and donated a half a dozen pairs to Goodwill – all because I needed to figure out what ones I wanted to take with me. Nevermind that I haven’t even begun to think about what clothes to bring!

(Notice that the project I’ll be working on is packed and ready to go and what I’ll put on my back isn’t even on the list of things to do yet. Writers! Insert eyeroll.)

It is also worth noting that another reason I’m super-excited has to do with the fact that I get to see Tielle St. Clare – a fellow Sizzlin’ Scribe and a writer friend from our days with Ellora’s Cave. I’m spending a few days with her bookended on the residency and I can’t wait (“bookended” – see what I did there?)!

So I have a little over a week to finish cleaning Dad’s place (should be done by Saturday, keep your fingers crossed!), be with my hubby as he gets his staples out (ouch!), and pack (clothes – don’t forget to bring clothes!).

Stress levels? As I said to my doc yesterday, my plate is so full, it’s overflowing and things are falling off the side. And what does fall? I’m too tired to pick up. She said she’s glad I’m getting away for a while. My hubby says to consider this time as a retreat.

I agree with both of them.

You haven’t heard from me for the past two months because I was taking care of my dad and my husband. You’re not going to hear from me for the next month because I’m going to be taking care of me.

In the meantime,

Play safe, get vaccinated, and stay healthy!

Diana