Getting Back into the Groove Mischievous Goblin Permitting

Hello one and all!

It has been two long years since I last blogged. Hard to believe, for me, at least. I have struggled with one illness after another, and have now decided that if I don’t take an active approach then I just won’t move forward.

Let me explain. I have glaucoma, and many would say, “So What! Many people have glaucoma.” I can say with all honesty that I had never given it much thought until I was diagnosed in 2006. I had my regular check up at the hospital every six months, and because it was all jogging along nicely, considering that I have the added complication of diabetes T2, my appointments went to once a year.

With glaucoma there are no noticeable symptoms. I certainly didn’t have any. It was at my regular yearly check up at the opticians that it was first discovered back in 2006. I had already got sight loss in one eye, but because the brain uses the ‘good eye’ to fill in the missing pieces of the picture, one just isn’t aware. This was June 2015, and my surgeon had told me that the operation was urgent, but, and it was a big but, there are only two surgeons in my area that do the operation, he being one of them, and that meant waiting 6 months. I know… I know…

So here I was, six months later, on my husband’s birthday, December 2015, having a trabeculectomy, an operation on the eye to make the pressure lower, and to help the eye drain properly. It’s the high pressure in the eye caused by the glaucoma that begins to kill the optic nerve, and it is only the release of that pressure that can help to save sight if caught in time.

So, life pottered on, I went to Inverness for the anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, for what was meant to be a week, but I came home early. I had visited Culloden Battlefield, which was an extraordinary and emotional experience. I had planned to see the Clava Cairns, too, have a trip on Loch Ness… but I decided to return home. It’s the first time I’ve gone home early. Usually I scrape as much out of a trip as I can manage, but it was bitterly cold, plus I didn’t feel well, nor did I feel ‘at home’ in the hotel, unlike the hotel where I stay in Edinburgh, which is literally like my home from home.

The Law of Sod and Goblin

Each time we reach a New Year, hubs and I, we wish one and all a happy and prosperous one. And each year either I get ill, or something goes wrong somewhere… you know how it is. Tickle the goblin under the chin and he’ll do his best to instigate The Law of Sod, and find something to make your life rocky. And that’s exactly what happened this year.

I had decided to try and get myself fit, walk more, maybe swim, and feeling enthused with my plans, started to walk around and about where I live, which is by the sea, so you can imagine, there are some really lovely walks.

I started at the beginning of February, and by the 22nd of February I was rushed to hospital with severe chest pain which turned out to be bronchial pneumonia in my right lung. No… I have no idea how I contracted it. But it’s been an absolute pig to bear. I was on antibiotics for four weeks to help clear it up, and after my third X-ray three months later, was told I was finally clear, but it would be months, maybe not until the end of the year before I felt truly fit and well again.

Meanwhile, in the middle of getting well from pneumonia, I had to have yet another sight-saving operation only on my other eye. After seven weeks of treatment, I have one more week of treatment to go, and then it’s back to see the surgeon. So far, so good, all appears well. But I’m telling you, though, once that dratted goblin finds himself comfy on your shoulder he’ll do his best to bring you all he has to offer.

Back at the beginning of the year I had booked another holiday to Scotland, self-catering with car hire, and had to cancel that, firstly because of the pneumonia, but would have had to cancel anyway because the eye operation would have come bang in the middle. I won’t be able to fly until the end of the year, because of the illness, so I’m erring on the side of caution, and not going away again until next spring or maybe next autumn.

We are now in July, and I can manage climbing the stairs without feeling exhausted. I’m not kidding. When I first had pneumonia it felt like walking and breathing, or talking and breathing was a feat of multi-tasking. It was, quite frankly, terrifying. So now I go forward with baby steps. And the first baby step, well not so baby, is to finish my book The Touching of Stones. This book was started back in 2014/2015. It is now my plan – and I shall say this sotto voce, so my personal goblin doesn’t here – to publish at some point later this year.

The lovely Dave Slaney, such a talented man, designed my book cover some time ago, and I am longing to see it wrapped around my novel.

My writing cabin has been redecorated, thanks to hubs, and I’ve thrown out stuff to make more room… for more stuff… Yes, I know… but some stuff matters, like books, and some stuff doesn’t, so it gets passed on.

So. It’s one step at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time and I’ll get there… mischievous goblin permitting!

 

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When is Enough, Enough?

Researching salient points for an historical novel is a must.

But when is enough, enough?

I have just returned from my third research trip to Edinburgh, and, although I found out much that I didn’t already know, I was somewhat slack-jawed at the lack of knowledge in one particular area. I needed to know what Edinburgh Castle was like back in the late thirteenth century, and early fourteenth century, but could find no contemporary information of how it was back then.

I went to the National Library of Scotland, and could find nothing there, so then I went to Edinburgh Castle with the sure knowledge that asking at the source would bring forth the information required. It didn’t. Dumfounded, that made me stop in my tracks. What was I to do? I needed to be able to walk the metaphorical corridors of the castle, so that, in my mind’s eye I could see my characters playing their part. I asked this question in a group that I’m an admin in, The Review. Answers came thick and fast, and it was a great discussion, with suggestions on how to deal with the lack of information. All duly noted, and appreciated; and I will utilise their information. But, I was still perplexed as to why there was no information about the castle in the time period in which I was particularly interested.

I have a book, Fortress of the Kingdom – Archaeology and Research at Edinburgh Castle, by Gordon Ewart and Dennis Gallagher, Archaeology Report #7, and published through Historical Scotland. It’s a wonderful book, with pictures and diagrams of relevant archaeology done over time. There are drawings, which are colour coded to show which parts were built in which time. For example, a mustard colour shows what was built in the years 1050-1300, and a dark sage green shows what was built in 1300-1450; see image below. “Great!” says I, only to find no evidence for the first time period, and scant evidence for the second time period. Back to the drawing board. Continue reading When is Enough, Enough?

SO THE SAGA BEGINS

My First Journey

into

Writing Historical Fiction

When my first book, Future Confronted, a memoir about my son, Rob, was published in December 2013, I was stunned by the reviews, which were all positive and five star. I wrote the book, firstly as a memorial to Rob, who died from a brain tumour just a short forty-nine days after diagnosis, at the age of 20. Secondly, I wrote it in the hope that it would help others who had walked the fractured path that our family had done, and know that it is possible to come out on the other side, albeit different people; and to know that the journey continues.

In the spring of 2014 I started to write down ideas for my first journey into writing an historical fiction novel. My intention was to set it in Scotland, including both the Highlands and the Lowlands. Having started to learn Gaelic,
Continue reading SO THE SAGA BEGINS