Archive | January 2015

The CPAP Experience

For those of you, like I didn't know previously, CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. After my first night, I would have thought Continuous actually stood for Crappy, but that problem went away very quickly.

The reason that I now use a CPAP machine is that I have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where airways collapse while you're sleeping, which means you stop breathing for a short time. This can lead to stroke, heart conditions, high blood pressure, general exhaustion, and a host of other possible conditions, such as hypothyroidism, acid reflux disease, and depression. Hmmm. The missing link, because I have hypothyroidism, acid reflux disease, depression, and general exhaustion. I'm pretty sure that they're not all from sleep apnea, but there you go.

I use a pillow pack mask. Like many of you, I thought that a CPAP mask came in one flavor: the Darth Vader special, that covers your mouth and nose. Not so. You must be a mouth breather to rate such an ensemble, and it turns out that in this matter, at least, I can keep my mouth shut. Here's more or less what my mask looks like:

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I know. Suitable for wearing to glamorous occasions. That said, it is the least invasive of the CPAP options. Two little nose plugs are strapped onto your head, and air is blown continuously into your nose. If you open your mouth, the effect of getting the pressure down your airways is negated.

The CPAP is not uncomfortable for me. I do have some trouble with the hoses, which I sometimes lay on, and getting up at night (usually once or twice, like most people). Then it has to be turned off and taken off, but I have a pin on the left side which helps me re-affix the mask without turning on the light. Sometimes the mask gets a little askew, but I readjust.

Have I noticed a difference? Well, the super secret CPAP squad who are monitoring my usage for the first month tell me that my airways shut down a mere 1.5 times a night now, instead of the 10 times an hour they were shutting down before. Remember, kids, 10 times an hour is a pretty mild apnea. Some people shut down 100 times an hour.

Do I feel peppier? When I first wake up, sometimes. However, I still fall asleep in the car. NOT while I'm driving, but I would like that to stop. Overall, the thing is improving my health, and I am getting used to it. Sometimes I can imagine that it is not there, and sometimes it feels fairly comfortable. Other times I wake up pretty dry, and I think it's a pain in the ass.

What can you do to make your experience with a CPAP better? There is a humidifier attached, which I use. I also tie my hair back at night to keep it out of the way of the straps. I already use Flonase because of my dust allergy, but if you don't, it's recommended that you could use a nasal spray to help keep things from drying out. And when you start using the CPAP, you can reduce your level of air pressure for a while.

How expensive was it? Well, that depends on your insurance. Mine has helped me set up a monthly payment plan, so overall I'm pleased with that process.

Regardless of whether you have a harder adjustment time or an easier one, the CPAP is not something you should blow off. Many CPAP owners decide they do not like the machine, and want to give it up. I say that it's better than having a stroke or the issues that come with it. Of course, if you're lucky enough not to need one, that's best.

Vintage Update

Well, the semester has almost started! And I am happy about that.

Recently, I heard from Emma Curtis at the Costume Supercenter.com. She pointed me in the direction of 1920s and 1950s hair tutorials on her site. Just check out my vintage page under hair, and visit the site for some fun costumes, vintage and otherwise.

And Then, Draft 3 Was Done

Draft 3 is done. As part of draft three, however, I threw out the final quarter of the novel. I still have a complete novel, but the last fourth is really a first draft.

Right now, I'm engaged in what I'm calling draft 3.1, revising the new ending to send it out to my critique friends. I've already been getting feedback on the first 3/4 which is very helpful.

Of course, as usual, the best laid plans of writers are often waylaid. In my case by 120 extra students, and 15 teacher interviews. I will try to get as much done as I can by the conference, but realistically can I get it done? That's the question.

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Today I purchased my new CPAP. I'll be sure to write a review. Why? Because I found that I didn't know much about them before all this, and that information might be helpful to someone else out there who is underoxygenated. Yup. I love making up words.

2014 in Writing

So...I'm looking at the Submission Grinder, and I'm discovering that I submitted 11 shorter works 53 times last year. I'm looking at Query Tracker, and I'm discovering that I hit 52 new agents with Abigail Rath. This year I rewrote a novella (which still needs another rewrite), wrote a new novel and have revised it almost 3 times, and wrote six new short stories.

I had several stories held for upper tier consideration, second and even third looks. I had some requests for full manuscripts.

I made my first professional sale. Blatant plug: Buy The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk when it comes out in July. You know you want to. Or maybe you know I want you to, if we get all Freudian about it.

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What can I take from this? Well, in no particular order

1. I worked really, really hard at producing writing this year.
2. Revising is a lifestyle.
3. I am a submitting machine.

Now, in terms of controlling what I could, I did good. 🙂 I would have liked more sales, or an agent. I would have liked to have finished The Poison of thy Flesh in terms of having it ready to send out. But I look at the amount I've done, and I can't say that I really did a lot of procrastinating. Nope. Productive is my middle name this year.

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Where am I at in my quest to gain the extra 6K I need to get my 10K Outliers hours? Yes, I am still on my quest to get those 10K hours that Malcolm Gladwell suggests to master an art. I've been at it for 4 years, and this year my magic number has totaled 2232. I wrote 516 dedicated hours last year, fewer than the first 2 years, but about the same as last year. That I did all the above in 516 hours makes me feel pretty good.

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So, in 2015? Well, I'm going to get Poison smooth, get its supporting materials in great shape, and send it out. I'll be visiting two pitch conferences in addition to all the queries by mail. My goal to produce a short a month will continue, and it's still my hope to get a serial up on Patreon.

After Poison, I'll be ripping into that weredog novella again, and then I'm thinking I will revisit the trolls in Decorah YA. Then, on to the second Klarion book. Plans of course can change.

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How about you? What are you up to? What do you hope for in 2015?

Happy 2015

For want of a more original title, I guess.

The official analysis from the sleep lab is this: I quit breathing 10 times an hour. Let's put that in perspective. Someone with serious apnea quits breathing 120 or so times an hour. So I have a tiny, cute little apnea, for which I will be getting a tiny, cute little CPAP, which looks like a cross between packing pillows and an oxygen mask. I should be shelling out the big bucks for that in the next couple of weeks. Nope, I don't know how much yet. It's not a Muppet nose. Even though it's small, I feel like they're shoving a gale force up my nose! In the end they had to get me a smaller insert. My tiny nose!

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So, I lost about 7 pounds entire last year. I was lower at one point, but I finished at 206, more or less. I'm trying out Weight Watchers new personal coach feature this year, and trying to eat smaller meals more often. And muchos plant matter. I would really like to have y cruise pictures look different this year than the last time, even if I am not a svelte goddess on the cruise.

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The book is about 3/4 done now. Part of it is out to readers, and they are getting back to me pretty quickly. Awfully nice of them. I have this month to get things well in hand. Wish me luck. Work is very worky, and I fear I will spend next weekend prepping to teach.

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When next I write, I want to go over my year in writing and my writing plans for this coming year. Stay tuned.