Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bi-pap, Surgery, and Tender Mercies

Have you ever heard of a Bi-pap machine? 

I only learned of them recently. I knew about C-pap machines. Several years ago Hubby was diagnosed with sleep apnea so we got the C-pap machine, hoping that would help him sleep better.

However, it didn't help. Poor Hubby still suffered, so he gave up using the machine.

And his health continued to slide. Here he is about a year ago. We'd taken our grandson for a hike. Hubby struggled to keep up.


Last June we went to Washington and visited a cousin I hadn't seen for many years. After we'd been there a while my cousin took me aside and told me how concerned he was about my husband's health. I knew Hubby wasn't feeling well, but for someone else to point it out alarmed me. 

How could I not have seen how ill my husband was? I mean, I live with him . . . I live with him and that's why I hadn't noticed his steady decline.
 
So as soon as we returned home, I called the doctor. After meeting with our GP, we were sent to a couple of specialists (a sleep specialist and a spine doctor).

Boy, were my eyes opened about sleep apnea. Did you know that if apnea is left untreated a  person's body will start to shut down? Needless to say, Hubby went in for a sleep study. 

And then we waited for the results.

Meanwhile, the spine doctor did an MRI which showed that Hubby had a herniated disc and degeneration of the spine. The spine doctor sent us to a surgeon. After injections and all sorts of tests it was decided that Hubby needed to have several discs decompressed. Surgery was scheduled. 

This was going on at the same time as the sleep study and the results were coming to a head at the same time. Talk about jangled nerves and sleepless nights.

After many prayers, Hubby was able to get a Bi-pap machine, which goes a step further than the C-pap and helps him breath when he stops, plus this machine also allows for oxygen. We were able to pick up the machine the Friday night before his Monday morning surgery. A very close call. 

Pre-op and dreading surgery.
 Pre-op was interesting. I knew Hubby was anxious. But soon they came and took him up, and I was directed to the waiting room. I sent a text to our daughters and son. They wanted to know when the operation started. 

As the minutes turned to hours, I grew nervous. After a couple of hours, my son showed up. He couldn't stand the wait and took time off from work. Finally an exhausted doctor came and told us all went well, but there had been major damage to Hubby's herniated disc and the doctor had to remove most of it.

That was three days ago. 

Hubby is home now resting in bed. He has a long ways to go with six weeks of no bending, lifting, or twisting. He can't even drive a car until we go back to see the surgeon next month.

Through it all I could see God's tender mercies. I know there will be more challenges and tender mercies ahead, but I had to publicly acknowledge the help our family has had from a loving Heavenly Father. 

Has there been times in your life when you have felt God's tender mercies?

I know I promised last week to post about Ireland and what it has to do with my new novel, Deceived, but I just had to take a break and give you a slice of my life as I'm living it.

I promise to let you know how Ireland, the Nez Perce, and a cattle ranch in Idaho play major roles in my book.

 
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Apology, and More Adventures in Research

First let me apologize for missing last week. I fully intended to post, but Hubby has not been well. He put his back out and we have made many trips to many doctors. When a loved one is sick blogging takes a back seat. He now is scheduled to have his back operated on in the next few days, and we're very hopeful that will give him some relief. 

I promised to give you a feel for my new novel, Deceived. I had a blast doing research for it. My last post was about my sister teaching me to ride and our dealings with an angry bull. This week I thought I'd tell you a little about the setting for my book. 

Setting is so important, and I loved the setting for this story. Let's start at the beginning, which takes us to a small airport. 



This is the one I modeled the airport in my story after. Not exactly the hustle and bustle of a big city, is it? 

See Tara Kelly, the protagonist in my story, was an eye-witness to the murder of her aunt. She is sent to a small town in Idaho to hide. At the airport, she is met by Joseph White Eagle. (Yes, he is tall, dark and handsome.)

From the airport they traveled northeast over a road very much like this one.


Tara thinks they are going to the other side of nowhere. Looks pretty isolated, doesn't it? 

On the way to Joseph's ranch, they go through Little Lost River.
 

 This is one of those towns that if you blink or sneeze you'll miss it. It's a place where everyone knows everyone else and strangers are greeted with a wave and a smile. 

But this is not their destination. Joseph is taking Tara to his ranch. 


This is the pretty valley where I placed Joseph's fictional ranch. Isn't it beautiful? Now just imagine a lake and a big ranch house along with a barn and you have the White Eagle Appaloosa Ranch. 

What happens after they arrive? 

Tara is a loose end that the killer cannot ignore, so you can imagine things get a little complicated.

I can't tell you everything, but next week I'll give you some background on Tara Kelly. Her grandfather was from Ireland and do I have fun things to share about the research I did there.

Going to places where I set my stories help me get a feel for what my characters will go through and the emotions they might have.  

In the places you have traveled, did a story pop into your mind? How did you feel? Don't forget to take notes and lots of pictures. It can all be used as research.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Unexpect Adventures Herding Cattle for Research


Herding cattle is hard work. Believe me, I know. I wanted to go on a cattle drive so I could experience what my protagonist would go through. 

Little did I know I was in for quite an adventure.

My sister, Jo, arranged everything. Fortunately, she had a wonderful camper that we stayed in during this trip. Still, that was roughing it for me. We arrived a day before everyone else. She wanted me to get used to riding before the real cowboys showed up. She showed me how to saddle up, how to sit in the saddle, and how to get the horse to do what I wanted. I was scared to death. But I soon learned to "cowboy up" and do the best I could. 

We rode the range spending several hours in the saddle, then headed back to the camper. No one told me after sitting in the saddle so long that my knees would become spongy and weak when I got off the horse. But that was all right. I was learning and actually feeling what my main character would. Info for the book, right? Besides I needed to toughen up because the next day the cowboys would arrive, and we would round up the cattle.

Morning came and with it a surprise. A bull had wondered where he wasn't supposed to. Jo quickly saddled her horse, grabbed her lariat, and told me to open the gate so she could herd the bull into the corral. I tried to saddle my horse. And I did, kind of. I didn't cinch the saddle tight enough so when I tried to step into stirrup, it slipped sideways on the horse, and I couldn't get on. 

Meanwhile, Jo and her horse were doing a scary tango with the bull. The cantankerous beast would burrow his head in the ground while flipping dirt and weeds with his front hoofs in the air. And he was bellowing, snorting, and making all sorts of a ruckus.

Knowing that the gate had to be opened, I ran over to it, leading my horse. I swung the gate open just as Jo finally got the bull heading my way. 

MY WAY! I was on foot! In the path of a very angry bull!

Unable to ride my horse, I leaped up on the fence and watched as the bull passed by. I jumped down and shut the gate. Talk about a close call. But it was all good because now I had a great scene for my book.





By the time the cowboys arrived, I had fixed my saddle and was ready to ride out with them. Talk about fun! Jo assigned me the job of rounding up the calves. 

Have you ever heard the term "herding squirrels" or "herding cats"? Both are pretty much impossible. Well, herding calves is much the same. But I was doing my best until one of the cowboys rode over laughing. He told me I was doing a good job, but it wasn't necessary. They always have the rookie herd the calves. It's some type if initiation or something.

Jo chuckled under her breath and tried to appear all innocent about setting me up, but it was all right. I felt like I'd passed the test.



 Needless to say, it was a long hard day. I felt very fortunate to be there. Though, I was disappointed that the rancher we were helping no longer herded his cattle to summer grazing. Instead they loaded their doggies up in semis and drove them to their destination.

In my new novel, Deceived, I decided that the fictional White Eagle Appaloosa Ranch would still have cattle drives. And guess what? The scene with the bull charging is in the book, though it didn't end as happily as the experience I had. 

Nope. 

I'd tell you what happens, but what fun would that be?

Going on that trip with my sister was a wonderful adventure. Of course, going with Jo anywhere usually is. 

How about you? What kind of unexpected fun have you had?  


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Learning to Ride for Research



Research for a novel can be a bit overwhelming at times. For example, take the research I did for Deceived.
 
I had ridden a horse several times in my life, but it always, and I mean always, scared me to death. So when the idea for Deceived struck I knew I had to conquer this fear once and for all.
I called my sister, who is an expert when it comes to all things horses or cattle. She told me to stop by and she'd give me a lesson. Here we are below. Yes, it was winter. And it was soooo cold, but I needed to learn. We saddled up the horses. Jo got on her horse, and then I tried to get on mine. As you can see I needed help.

A lot of help.

I was so embarrassed.


 I finally got on. 

Yeah! 

Now what? 


We rode around my sister's place, but I wanted more. I wanted to go on an actual cattle drive. My sister has connections and she set it up so we could help with the round up and cattle drive for some friends of hers, but it wouldn't take place until spring.


What would I do in the mean time? 
I practiced getting on and off a horse, which wasn't easy since I didn't have a horse to practice on. Instead I set up my own version using chairs and stools, and I practiced . . .
 and practiced . . . 
and practiced some more. 
I also exercised so my leg muscles would support me better.

Have you ever been so involved with research that you've done things that scare you? How did you overcome your fear?

Next week I'll tell you about the round up and cattle drive. 
Saddle up!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Deceived - Cover and Blurb



It's here,

the cover of my new book, Deceived.

It's due to be released in November.

Here's the back cover blurb:

A storm rages outside the unassuming Los Angeles house, while within, something sinister lurks. A murderer stalks their victim, unaware of a witness to the horrific crime: awakened from a deep, drug-induced slumber, Tara Kelly hears voices in the next room. Struggling to focus through her sleep medication, the young woman helplessly observes her aunt's murder. Now, she's a loose end that the killer cannot ignore . . .

Tara is aided by a family friend as she does the only thing she can: disappear. Fleeing to the security of a remote Idaho ranch, Tara finds herself under the guard of a handsome rancher Joseph White Eagle. Her unwitting protector takes his role seriously, going so far as to claim that Tara is his fiancee. But even as their relationship deepens, he struggles to see past Tara's similarity to his late wife, a painful reminder of the past. When a series of accidents threaten Tara's life, it becomes clear that her attempt to outrun danger has been in vain. The killer will stop at nothing to find Tara, and Joseph will do anything to protect her--even if it means unraveling secrets that will have devastating consequences for them both . . . 

This novel has been a long time in the making. Over the next few weeks I'm going to share the research that went into this book from the cattle drive, the camping trip to Little Lost River, and the trip to Ireland (with a special spooky post from my ghostly bus tour through Dublin). I can hardly wait.

Oh, the places you'll go and the people you'll meet. Don't you love research? What is the most fun you've had doing research, whether for a novel, for your family history, or just out of curiosity?


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