Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A new chapter

No, it's not a new chapter in a book I am writing. I am opening a new chapter in my life, or I should say, our lives.

Shortly after I posted the last blog, Jim fell while putting ant poison on some fire ant hills that had sprung up after a rain. He didn't seem too bad, just shaken. This was on a Friday. Sunday morning he was in a lot of pain, so I took him to the ER, where they did an X-ray and found a broken rib. Since you can't do anything for a broken rib, they gave him pain pills and sent him home.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, he was unable to get up from his chair. This has happened before, and as I have done before, I called EMS. (I have since learned these spells of total weakness are caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure.) The hospital did more X-rays and admitted him for three days. On Friday, he was sent to Anson Health and Rehab for therapy as he had lost so much weight and was very weak...almost anorexic. I had not realized how much weight he had lost. Also, the doctor there told us he had broken three ribs and also had an old stress fracture in his back!

Jim has A-Fib, and for the past weeks the doctors at rehab and Sanger Clinic (cardiologists) have been juggling medication, almost daily, to try and control the low blood pressure and rapid heartbeat. If they fix one, the other acts up!

After six weeks in rehab and a few successful visits home (including Thanksgiving Day) we looked forward to his discharge. He had gained some weight and getting around well with his walker.

Then, last Monday night, he fell again while getting ready for bed. This time he broke his left hip and was sent immediately to CMC-Union, a hospital in Monroe which is 30+ miles up the road. They operated the next day to insert a rod from hip to knee and another rod into the ball joint to stabilize the hip. I have to say his cardiologist is very good, she visited every day while he was in CMC-Union and monitored him closely.

Saturday night around 9:30  p.m. he was sent back to rehab.

He has been disoriented, which I am assured is the result of the anesthetic and not permanent. And, he isn't eating...again. I am making sure to be there at meal times to coax him into eating something. They have started therapy...again.

I'm not certain what this bodes for the future, but it looks now as if he will not be as active as he was and will need a lot of care. I may not be able to leave him alone, as he is stubborn and if he wants to do something he will do it against all advice--as witness his getting ready for bed without calling an aide for assistance.

This may well be my last posting as I find it  hard to set aside time for writing. Also, as seen by the lack of followers and comments, no one is reading it anyway :)

You can keep up with me via Facebook (I have two pages, Sandy Bruney for my friends and relations and a work-related page, Sandra Z. Bruney, for announcements about my books and other writing-related tidbits). I also write another blog about my writing journey (I do meander from time to time) and if you want to pop in once in awhile (or even better, follow) it is Mimosa Mornings Writers.

And of course, I love to hear from everyone by email.

But who knows? The situation may improve or turn out not to be a dire as I imagine, and I will be back!

Til then, adieu.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Question of Time

I am delighted to announce that the final e-book in the Question trilogy releases Oct. 13.

I will miss Nathan and Caroline, and wish them well in their further adventures.

Here's an excerpt from the book: Nathan and Fitz visit the theater to see if the magician Manzini is their old foe Rasmussen in disguise, and if he can really teleport himself as he claims...

A Question of Time
"In time, there are infinite places to hide a king."

Nathan and Fitz joined the line of people waiting to enter Ford’s Theatre. An anticipatory buzz rose, and the mood was merry, with laughing comments rising above the hubbub.

“My friend says he couldn’t believe his eyes…”

“Can’t be done, must be some kind of illusion…”

“There was a case a few years ago where a man disappeared in New York and turned up in New Jersey…”
“No, they proved it was two men, identical twins…”

At last the doors opened and the line began to move. Nathan and Fitz found their seats and settled in to wait.

As before, the opening tricks were unimaginative. This time, however, the crowd did not react as they had the first night. They were willing to wait until the climax, as if it were a price they had agreed to pay.

Restless, Fitz scanned the audience. “Hello!” he said softly, and poked Nathan in the ribs. “See there, third row, in the center. Is that who I think it is?”

Nathan craned his neck. “I believe you are right. I’m not surprised. The king often attends public events, thinking he is unrecognized. There are bodyguards on either side of him, I’m glad to see.”

At last it came time for the final trick. This time, Manzini changed his routine.

“Some people have said the box is rigged, leading to an underground passage. I invite a member of the audience to come on the stage and inspect it. Who will volunteer? You, sir?” He pointed at the third row.

A tall figure nodded and rose.

“He isn’t!” Nathan clenched his fists in frustration.

“It appears as if he is. Young fool.” Fitz half rose to his feet, but was sharply yanked back by the man behind him. He turned and glared, and the man quickly let go and slunk into his seat.

“He carries his democratic leanings too far,” Nathan said, equally alarmed.

The king made his way to the stage, followed by his bodyguards, who both looked sheepish. Vaulting onto the boards instead of taking the steps at the side of the stage, King Thomas Jefferson the Fourth strode to the center of the boards.

“Look as long as you like,” the maestro invited. “Do you see anything like a false door?”
“I do not,” the young monarch said in his clear tenor. “Everything seems aboveboard.”

“Take a closer look inside. Step in, if you will.”

The king hesitated a moment, then stepped inside the booth.

What happened next was described in as many variations as there were witnesses, but Nathan and Fitz agreed on one thing— Maestro Manzini pushed the king forward and stepped into the box behind him. His assistant slammed the door shut and stood back.

The house was silent. Minutes passed, and people began to murmur. Then shouts went up.

The assistant, as alarmed as anyone else, opened the door to the booth.

It was empty. The king and the maestro had disappeared.

As the minutes ticked past, it soon became apparent they were not going to come back.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I am the portulaca

Summer is coming to a close.

Earth-shattering news, right? I'm suspecting those above the Mason-Dixon line are sorry to see the approach of fall, while those of us down South are praying for summer to end.

Yes, it's been that hot. Record-breaking temps in the 90s and over for weeks on end.

We did get some rain finally the last two days. Too late for my astilbe, which succumbed to some
kind of fungus. My friend the Master Gardener told me she had transplanted some  from Pennsylvania when she moved to North Carolina, but they only lasted two seasons. So I guess I will count that as a lesson learned.

I replaced them with some echibeckia, a cross between a cone flower and a brown-eyed Susan. So far they are doing well and look very cheerful down by the creek.

One pot of petunias dried up like an Egyptian mummy while we were on vacation. (The others were parched, but are coming back.) I've always had good luck with portulaca, so I got a hanging basket of them to replace the defunct petunias.

Now, I am going to digress here and admit planting flowers takes a little out of me, particularly when I have to hack at the dry, clay soil with a pickax to loosen it. Like the year, I am reaching not just autumn, but the winter of my days. I can still do a lot of things, but it takes me longer to do them and longer to recover afterward.

So when I looked at the portulaca one evening, I had to chuckle. If there was ever a plant that could illustrate exactly how I feel, it's that one.

Here's why:

  This is me in the morning -- bright and  sassy and ready to move mountains.

And this is me by 5:00 p.m., wilted and droopy, ready for my book and a glass of wine.

The good thing is, the portulaca recovers the next morning and is ready to bloom again.

And so do I.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Taking the wine trail

I admit it -- I've been lax in keeping up with this post. I blame summer and all the activity that goes along with being able to get outdoors. Writing has been put on the back burner.

We did take a trip recently to Pennsylvania. We hadn't been for a few years for many reasons: unreliable car, ill health, etc. But we got a new car, and Jim has been feeling better, so we decided to take the chance. I'm glad we did.

Nancy wanted to go on a wine trail while I was there. We'd done this when she was visiting us in North Carolina, where the industry is getting a fast foothold. Jim and Dick weren't interested, so we set off by ourselves.

To our surprise, there is a plethora of wineries in northeast Ohio. I have to say the signage is not as good as it is in my home state. We zipped by a few before the sign registered. And there was no map or website provided by the state tourism authority as in NC.

Still, we managed to find a few. More than a few, in fact. We couldn't stop at all of them (there's a return trip in my future plans) but we did manage five. This is not to say we drank a bottle of wine at each one, or even a glass. I was driving, so it was a few sips for me. It isn't the wine so much as seeing the different venues. Some have beautiful flower gardens. Some had friendly doggie greeters. One was sited in an old church.

Overhead by another visitor: "Every winery is different!" So true!

We had lunch at one, and dipped fresh artisan bread in oil at another.

But it wasn't so much the drive through the lovely countryside or the thrill of discovery.

It was two sisters being together for a day with no distractions, just talking and laughing and sharing a good time.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Murder in the fifth degree

I told Jim this morning I had a lot to do today.

"You always have a lot to do," he said. I don't know if it was a general observation or a complaint, but my reply was, "I'm never bored."

Between writing and outside chores, I do keep busy. Of course, I save time to read. Once the dinner dishes are done, I head for my chair and book, either an e-book on my iPad or a "real" book from the library.

We have done a lot as far as clearing the encroaching forest around the edge of the back yard. I feel like a pioneer, clearing land for planting! In  fact, I did plant some astilbe around a stump out back. This wasn't easy as I kept running into roots, but it does look better than the bare stump. I think I am channeling my mom, who was an avid gardener.

Then we decided to trim back the quince bush by the deck. Over the years, it has just about taken over.

I stopped pruning when I spied a nest with several eggs in it. "That project will be put on hold until they hatch and fly away," I said.

Mama Thrush didn't much like it that half her shelter had gone, leaving her exposed. But she did go back to the nest. We tiptoed around it, trying not to disturb her.

Then last night I was sitting on the deck when I heard a commotion. The quince bush was shaking as if in a storm. I ran to the railing in time to see Mama Thrush fly past and the neighbor's black-and-white cat jump out of the bush. I threw something at him and screamed at him to go home! He did, limping.

I felt no pity for whatever injury he'd sustained.

Alas, it was the last straw. I haven't seen Mama Thrush on the nest since. In fact, I haven't seen her or her mate at all today.

A minor tragedy in the face of things, but I felt I had caused it by taking away her shelter.

So today I am feeling sad and guilty.

I need to go lose myself in a book.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What's Next?

Since I wrote the last blog, many things have happened. I went to Book 'Em and had a great time meeting other authors and new readers. I sold more books than I expected to and as soon as I got home I signed up for next year.

Also, my latest book was released (sooner than I expected) and so I had to do some promoting to let people know it was available.

And, I am working on the third in the trilogy and discovered I wanted to make a major change in the plot. This meant going back and re-writing several key scenes. And re-writing again until I was satisfied.

Then I bought a book that helped me to make the video you see on the right. It isn't perfect and it isn't full of special effects, but it is my own and I am proud of it. A kind friend suggested the first effort went a  little too fast for her to read all the captions. It didn't take long to go back and add another second to each screen. I hope everyone can read it now. I'm a very fast reader, so I didn't realize what works for me might not work for others.

Now I'm preparing for our annual writers conference this Saturday (April 18). Our little book club has been doing this for seven years now and I am proud of what we do with so few people. Here's a link if you want to see who we have coming: http://www.carolinaswritersconference.org

I want to get as much writing done while I can because I know once the warm weather comes, it's going to be so tempting to go outside and mess around with the yard. I never finished my clearing project last summer, so that will be first on my list. We had a  warm spell and I pruned all the fig trees and now I want to add a bench there. I have a lawn chair down there now for when I need to rest my back, but a bench will look much nicer.

And so it goes. One project leading to another, whether it be in the yard or at my computer.

And Spring come whether we are ready or not -- the greening of the trees, the flowering shrubs and blooming flower beds.

And the pollen. Can't forget the pollen.

Hope this rain washes it all away.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coming Soon to an e-Reader Near You

The sequel to "A Question of Boundaries," is close to its release date.

In "A Question of Loyalty," Caroline and Nathan face a dangerous conspiracy that threatens both their lives when they take a honeymoon trip down the Mississippi River. Beautiful Floriana is on the edge of revolution and the slightest spark will set it ablaze.

And that spark could be the deaths of the two naive American tourists.

You can read the first few pages on my website www.sandrazbruney.com.

You don't have to read "A Question of Boundaries" first because "A Question of Loyalty" is a stand-alone book. But it might help!

To get a free Kindle copy of "A Question of Boundaries" from Amazon, hop on over to my Facebook author page and leave a comment. I'll select a winner on "A Question of Loyalty" release day.

Here's the link: Sandra Z. Bruney Facebook