Tag Archives: checking in

Susan Speaks: This Thing On?


Happy New Year, friends, clients, acquaintances, writers, and the odd stalker or creepy person!

I figured it was a good time to stop in, check in, see how everyone is. It’s January 2, after all. It should be an inauspicious day, although longtimers around here know it’s not, and they know why.

It’s been busy over here. I worked all through the break and to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I took a day off. And I’m still not caught up, so thank you for the continued trust and work. Best of all, it doesn’t feel like work anymore, and it’s certainly not drudgery. Editing is the best challenge, brain game, and use of my time — not to mention stress relief!

If 2019 continues for me the way 2018 went, I don’t expect that string of no days off to change. By my count, I have room for about 11 projects all year — but don’t let that intimidate you. Remember that I do work on a Send When Ready schedule, so one of those anticipated eleven openings might happen right when — or maybe a day or two after — you need me. Please keep referring work my way, and if I can’t handle it… well, truth be told, I’ll figure out a way to work it in. This is what you do when you love what you do.

One thing I want to make time for in the upcoming weeks and months is conducting workshops, preferably (gasp) in person. Writing conferences, retreats, even meetings. When I haven’t been editing, I’ve been developing a pretty broad-based portfolio of workshops. I’d like to beta them, so if you’re in the area, keep your eyes open for details and invites to join in. Help me help you make the best book possible.

That’s it for over here. It’s been quiet even as it’s been busy, and as soon as I have more of these workshops tamed, I intend to return to blogging on a more regular basis. There’s only so much time in the day, after all, and you guys who pay me money to work on your manuscripts for and with you, as always, have top priority of my time.

Let me know what you’re up to. Chat with me on Twitter (@WestofMars), submit your book for a Featured New Book Spotlight, and keep an eye on the Facebook page, too. No need to lurk, not around me! I’m here in my yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt, living the dream… so join me.


Susan Speaks: And we’re back?


So. It actually happened more in the middle of the A to Z challenge, but I woke up one day, went to check my blog dashboard and… it was missing.

So I got a hold of my awesome web designer and she… didn’t have good news. The site, she said, was broken. Beyond repair.

I’d been putting off a redesign (yes, the white on black is going to be history!) and… well, I couldn’t put it off anymore.

If you’re on a reader, you’d need to click through to see that nope, the new design isn’t done yet. What had been the end of May/early June has been pushed back to July. But what I’ve seen so far has been really slick. Jen lives near me; we’ve had dinner as part of some Pittsburgh groups before, and… she’s nailing the design. It marries a new, slick professionalism with the fonts, the colors that are quintessential West of Mars. And like I said, no more white font on black backgrounds. Even I found that hard to read, and now with the eye? Ugh. I’ll be glad to see that go.

Now, after being told that the site was broken beyond repair and use, imagine my surprise when I came to visit my dashboard the other day out of morbid curiosity (I think I needed something to be pissed about, since the things I’m currently pissed about aren’t things I can change), and… yes! There it was! My dashboard was back!

I don’t know how long it’ll be here, so I’ll try to take advantage when I can. And yes, I’ll have a party when the new design goes live and offer celebratory editing rates or something. I don’t know. Too early to make those decisions, and I’m still pissed about those things I can’t change, and well, my website isn’t the only thing in my life undergoing a facelift right now.

The A to Z posts that never got posted have been saved for next year’s A to Z Challenge. There were only three of them, and I already have a bunch of topics listed. I also have a whole slew of posts that I need to write and post…

Right now, it’s about those facelifts, those things I’m pissed about, and thankfully the constant influx of work that’s been keeping me busy and driving the business to some good, profitable places. I might be able to afford these facelifts!

Keep my editing queue full, and I’ll check in here more often between now and the new site design’s launch date. Worst comes to worst, I won’t be able to post anything. But given that I’ve managed to get in here a couple times now, I expect… hit or miss. And for a site that’s supposed to be broken beyond anything, I’ll take it.


Susan Speaks: Getting Out


So another week, another post-op trip to the surgeon. Not much has changed… my progress is impressive and more than was expected. I was allowed to change the eyedrop schedule. (THIS is living large, folks.)

But healing is expected to be super slow. For one, I’m a slow healer, as my sports med guru will tell you. For another, there’s a layer of trauma on top of an already slow-to-heal surgical repair. The trauma adds healing time.

In other words: I’m still spending most of my time around the house, on the couch. And at my desk, although sitting more than standing (Oh, my aching back). I like being at my desk because my water glass is handy, so I’m finally feeling properly hydrated and like myself again. Getting off the altitude sickness medicine helps with that, too, and the doctor apologized for putting me on it (except, he said, it works so well. Which is true), but I told him I had no issues with it. While I was sleeping 12+ hours a day, I was getting some good healing time in, and I’ll take the healing.

Of course, it’s hard to work when you’re sleeping that much. And I am working, so if you’ve been holding off on contacting me about your new book, get over that because you’re last to get the memo. That may mean you’re last to get the dates you want, too. And yes, I am still a bit on the slow side. But that’s improving, too.

But… my other restrictions remain. No lifting heavy things. I can cook and do dishes. And I’ve been sneaking out to the grocery once or twice a week. Nothing major, but enough to remind me that there’s an outside world.

The girl took me for a walk the other day. I made it four houses down the street. At this rate, I’ll be back on my bike and riding centuries next week!

One downer, though: sometimes, after trauma, the eye gets frozen and remains dilated. Again, time and healing will tell, but on the flip side, my eyes are so dark, you may never notice if this happens to me. Then again, you might. I don’t know. Unless there are mirrors around, I only get to look out through my eyes, not at them.

Last night, though, the kids were helping lead the Friday night Shabbat service at temple, and the girl in particular wanted me to be there. I think she’s tired of people asking how I am, and I was certainly greeted with enough warm hugs and friendly faces to make me believe that. The kids — mine and their classmates — led a fabulous service, although I hope no one bought the boy’s bluster there at the end. He knew damn well about that assignment. We’d discussed it; that’s where my “no harm, no bovine” joke came from and no, it’s not funny when that’s all you hear, but it’s elicited really satisfying groans from everyone else who’s heard the whole thing. Next time you see me, ask me about it.

Interestingly, my friends at the temple asked the same set of questions, and in the same order:
1. How ARE you?
2. When can you drive?
3. What exactly happened?

And yes, those who heard the whole story gave me quite satisfying slack jaws. My cousin posited that I need to take my bike in for an exorcism. Another friend suggested I’m the victim of a voodoo attack (think about it: you need a sharp set of eyes to edit, and a writer needs vision to tell her stories properly. I can believe this one!). Let’s face it: people fall off their bikes all the time. But taking out an eye in the fall? Very rare, indeed. So rare, it freaked out the good-looking resident who helped with the first surgery. (He’s the one who raved about my handwriting and what a shame that wasn’t a pickup line. I’m still sad about that. And what do you mean, why am I thinking about good-looking residents and pickup lines when I’m possibly concussed and about to be wheeled into emergency surgery to save my eye? You mean you don’t?)

It was a good night last night. I’ve got weeks ahead of me yet to sit and heal, so it’s back to the couch (or desk chair and stop it. I am NOT standing at my standing desk. Nope. Not me. My back is just happy because it’s happy.). The boy has a couple of Ultimate tournaments coming up this spring and his coach has asked me to come along for the trips. The girl has an anime con, and she wants me to come. And I’m waiting on word about a pending promotional appearance that I doubt I’ll make the cut for (because I’ve had a pretty long string of good luck at this point and if I have to choose, I choose my eye) but cross your fingers because it combines my favorite things in life and has a scary echo to the past five weeks of my life.

Yeah. Not getting out so much yet. This can still go wrong, no matter how good — okay, tired from my night out — I feel today. (Still not standing at the standing desk!) But it’s progress and it’s encouraging and the only person not surprised by how well I’m healing is my sports med guy, who’s seen me rehab around injuries that would take out 95% of the population.

I got this. As soon as I hit the levers on my desk and sit back down.

Five weeks down since I fell. At least five more to go. I got this.