This is the first in a series of exciting new updates for you!
I have endeavored in a new project quite unlike one I've attempted before. As the title suggests, I've branched out my self-publishing ventures, broadened my horizons, to include new genres, of a sort:
I've written a baby book!
Well, whatever does this mean? Let me start from the beginning.
My dear friend Halley, who has been mentioned here on occasion (and is in the dedication for Archer has a child, born this past September, a lovely child by the name of Seelie. As the mother of such a child, Halley has dutifully collected baby books of all sorts to supply with which to supply her daughter. We also play D&D with Halley on the occasion (her husband is an excellent-fine DM, anyway). While visiting for a session, Halley shared some of her baby books with us, noting their interesting subject.
They were books by Chris Ferrie, an Australian physicist who has a penchant for writing STEM-based books for children. (Example, ABCs of Math, ABCs of Science, ABCs of Physics). The whole idea was starting big-concept ideas for younger ages. It should be noted that these books weren't necessarily billed as STEM, but it's a pretty good description of them. Halley made the offhand comment, "If there were ELA ones, I would have gotten them too."
The tone of her comment was apologetic, as if somewhat guilt-ridden she did not have any sort of representation for my subject (as I am an English teacher, after all). But it did inspire me otherwise. I'm an ELA person, an English teacher. AND I'm a writer. The answer was obvious. I would have to supply Seelie with her big ELA concepts early on. I would fill this imaginary market of mine.
The actually process hasn't been quite so easy to discern.
The Chris Ferrie books were board books. Naturally, I wanted to self-publish board books, as they are ideal for infants and other young readers. Apparently, there isn't exactly a print on demand service for board books. There are a few companies that will print your board book, but you must buy in bulk. One company has a 1,000 book minimum. Another has a 500 minimum. These were not ideal paths, mostly because I do not have the capital to pursue the bulk-buying endeavor. Nevertheless, I was undeterred.
I wrote the book, deciding to use Shakespeare as my first subject (my classes were studying Romeo and Juliet at the time). I did the ABC concept, assigning every letter with a term, name, or place associated with Shakespeare. I came up with a few other subject ideas, but stuck with Shakespeare. So the writing part of the book was completed. That came the next difficult part, illustrations which are a MUST HAVE for children's books. I am not an illustrator, so I encountered yet another obstacle in this path.
I've considered several different avenues in order to solve these problems. Hiring an outside illustrator, researching how to make board books from scratch. I puzzled over many of these. I had to determine what exactly I wanted and what I wanted to achieve. For my first taste of this project, I started something simple.
I discovered a website called Pint-Sized Productions where you can make your own custom board books. It's similar to a print on demand service, except you are limited by page number, book size, and it's not as cost effective as a POD. For example, one 5.56 x 5.56 in book with 24 pages is over $30 before taxes and shipping. Still, I used their services along with unlicensed stock photography and was able to put together an actual book. You will see it listed for sale on my website, if you go to Books > Little Owlet, listed at just under $57. This price gives me a very tiny profit margin and includes me personally shipping the board book to you. Because of the nature of this posting, shipping will take some time with it (for me to print it from Pint Sized, then ship it to a buyer).
I realize that this is SUPER expensive to spend on a book, a baby book even. But, I wanted to make the option available to any possibly interested parties. I still plan on making a more serious, concerted effort with illustrations, probably hiring a collaborator to assist me. And I'm interested in developing a cheaper, paperback option, which allows me much more freedom with each individual page.
You will also notice, perhaps, that my pen name is slightly different with the baby book. It's listed me as "Kelly Bahney" which will be my future married name. I wanted a different name to offset my other publishing name.
I will update as the paperback becomes available, but I did want to share this exciting new endeavor!
Because my end of the year promotion with Smashwords was so successful, I am offering Prince of the Vale FREE for ebook from now until February 15th!
Use the promo code: ZD47S
**This promotion only works for Smashwords and iBooks.
Being a teacher allows one all of the advantages of national holidays, snow days. A three day weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. turns into a four day weekend when the Friday before is cancelled due to inclement weather (and a five day weekend when the returning Tuesday is also cancelled).
But I am here to tell you about my Saturday. My weekend has been an interesting ride to say the least.
Saturday afternoon, I took a shower and then afterward, I was gathering laundry. Immediately after bending over to pick up a laundry basket, I experienced a phenomena called heart palpitations. Basically, my heart had been pounding, felt like it was racing. No chest pain or tightness. No difficult breathing. Just an elevated heart rate. I'm sure my anxiety exacerbated some of it when I started becoming nervous. I laid down for about ten minutes when the feeling subsided. I went back to collecting laundry and drove ten minutes to my grandmother's house to start on laundry. When I sat down again, I began experiencing heart palpitations once again. I tried laying down. They didn't go away. I took an aspirin. Nothing helped.
I drove home (probably a stupid decision in hindsight), but again, I didn't have any chest pain, difficulty breathing or performing tasks. Jamie was home from work and I gave him a teary/freak out mode/explanation of what was going on with me. He calmed me down, and I made a decision. Given my family history, I decided to go the local Urgent Care Clinic. They did some tests and a 12 lead and decided to send me to the hospital in an ambulance! Cue more freaking out and tears!
While in the ambulance, I know that my heart rate peaked at around 223 bpm. Paramedics gave me adenosine, which basically stopped and restarted my heart so it wouldn't beat so fast.
I was transported to our local hospital (which does NOT have a good reputation), where they ran some tests, EKGs, administered various beta blockers to normalize my heart rate (it was still fluctuating over 100) and blood thinners to check for clots. This helped bring it down to the 80s. My bloodwork showed I had elevated levels of a cardiac enzyme that appears when the heart undergoes damage or stress, so while I was currently fine, they were worried about that and had no idea at what caused this (no previous symptoms, this literally started when I bent over to pick up a laundry basket). I did NOT have a heart attack, which is clear since I could walk, talk, and function. If there had been issue with my arteries or blood vessels, I could have had a heart attack. The doctor in the ER was also concerned about damage being done to a muscle above my heart during my fast heart rate. He made the decision to send me to Saint Thomas in Nashville (a good hour and a half away and not our usual first choice in hospitals) so I could be monitored by a cardiologist, mostly because Huntsville and Crestwood didn't have any beds available on account of having so many flu patients.
So about 11:00 pm last night I was loaded into another ambulance. Paramedics are really friendly people, but the hour and a half ride was absolute TORTURE. DO NOT RECOMMEND. They wanted me in an ambulance to monitor me, but I don't see how they could because the machine gave off erratic readings for every bump we hit (and there were a LOT of bumps). Also gurneys are not friendly to sharp tailbones or wide hips FYI.
Arrived in Nashville after midnight, and bid farewell to my lovely paramedics. More blood was drawn, more EKGs, spoke to a nightshift cardiologist, who was concerned that there did not seem to be a trigger or prior symptoms. Literally, as a twenty-five year old female, this was the first time I'd ever been hospitalized. My thyroid was good, no sign of diabetes or pregnancy. No clots or infections. He mentioned that my potassium levels were a bit high. Then I slept a few hours. More blood was drawn once I woke up.
Saw another cardiologist. His assessment was that I have SVT, an arrhythmia caused by an extra muscle around my heart. He said it usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. I have a 50% chance of experiencing another episode this year and a 100% of experiencing one within the next 5 years.
He recommended a procedure called am ablation to heat treat and remove that extra muscle tissue around my heart. Medicine wouldn't be ideal for my situation because of how infrequent this would happen. He has done said procedure since 1991 and says that there is an overall 95% success rate with no complications.
So, I'm supposed to be contacted by someone in the future to schedule this procedure, which he described the process as looking for blockages in the heart, outpatient with 3 days of rest and recovery. Meanwhile, I was administered a beta blocker and then discharged from the hospital yesterday with a prescription for more beta blockers.
I am fine now and am grateful that we have been off from school so I can take this opportunity to recover. I'm taking my meds as instructed as well as monitoring my blood pressure and heart rate. After talking with other people, this condition seems to be a lot more common than I had been initially aware, and most people can manage with surgery.
I've had Jamie with me the entire time, and he has been an absolute godsend.
Conclusion: no more laundry for me.
Happy New Year, everyone! I could take this opportunity to document my personal experiences from 2017, but I won't. Instead, I will share a small anecdote about an experience I had that I hope embodies the spirit of what's to come for 2018.
As you may or may not know, I like to play video games. Specifically, my favorites are a few works of Bethesda--Fallout 4, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, Oblivion, to name a few. I like other video games, of course, but RPGs (role playing games) particularly interest me. I've never been much into MMOs or MMORPGs, whereas you play online with a vast number of other players. My fiancee is really into World of Warcraft (and also Overwatch). As a result, I did make a starter account for WoW to play with him online. The controls and lore confuse me a bit, as I'm not as immersive with this as I am with the Elder Scrolls series.
Solution? Of course. Elder Scrolls Online. I played this very BRIEFLY on Beta many moons ago, when you had to wait for a ticket and play during specific Beta allotted times. So I decided to try it for reals. I purchased ESO with the Morrowind DLC. So did fiancee so we could play together.
The tutorial is much shorter than I recall, for the Coldharbour quest that is. The Morrowind DLC starts you off differently. I've made a Bosmer Nightblade who specializes in archery and dual wielding (currently level 9). Then I made a Breton Warden who also specializes in dual wielding and archery. My Breton is a level 21 right now. Fiancee enlightened me of several concepts--tanks, healers, DPS. Things I had not been aware of previously unless he talked about Overwatch or WoW.
It was a journey that was quite overwhelming at first. The world is very massive, even sites familiar from the games. Crafting, oh my god, crafting. I still don't understand crafting.
For a brief moment, I attempted the Battlegrounds--the PvP aspect. Let me start off by saying that I HATE, LOATHE, DESPISE PvP, chiefly because it clarifies how much of a terrible gamer I am. I chose the below level 50 battlegrounds, because of course, I am below level 50. This was back when I was a level 15 (see, I haven't tried it since). Everyone else on my team and the other teams were level 39, 44, 45. I had no idea what I was doing and, unsurprisingly, I died a lot.
Then they show the rankings after each game. For my very first Battleground, I didn't do so bad. I was ranked 2nd out of 4. Every time after that, I was last. It took me WAY too long that my high "D" count was not my "defensive" points that I won for our team. It was the number of times I died. I had zero kills, but I always had the highest amount of deaths. And I SWEAR to you, there was always that ONE player that always seemed to target me, probably knowing I was an easy kill.
So after that shocking and discouraging experience, I avoided player interactions altogether. So now you're probably wondering what this has to do with my blog title--Kindness isn't dead.
Well, you see, I was in Glenumbra talking to an NPC, Mighty Mordra, who directed me towards an Undaunted Quest called Spindleclutch. I arrive to the location. Only to discover that you can't enter the location unless you have a group. This was a dungeon.
A group?! At this point, I think fiancee lost interest in ESO, especially since I was playing without him on my Breton character (my Bosmer character is to play with his Khajiit). But, I needed a group. I was discouraged, again.
For those of you that don't know, there's a small chatbox in the lefthand corner of the screen that people use to talk to each other. Most of the time, it's flooded with nonsense or guild advertisements. Sometimes there's game discussions, offers to trade or sell equipment, and political rants. People socialize. Me, being the awkward butterfly that I am, avoided this chatbox like the plague. Sometimes I'd feel the urge to troll but, wisely, I'd ignore it. Fiancee teased me about my unwillingness to participate in the chat. Sometimes I'd seen fellow noobs trying to understand the complexities of the game ask for help. I'm sure they were *whispered* some helpful responses, but the public response was usually sarcasm.
I was even less inclined to interact with other players when I accidentally reset one of the boss camps. The other two players I happened to be with were rather irate. Understandably so, though.
It took about two days, but I braved the world of the chatbox. "has anyone done Spindleclutch? Apparently you need a group to do it, but I have no friends :("
See? I was trying to appeal to people's sense of pity. Because that was the only thing that was going to help me. I did receive several zone comments about how I should just join a guild or get friends.
But then something happened. I made a friend. It didn't happen instantly.
Someone *whispered* to me offering to do the dungeon with me. For those of you that don't know, a *whisper* is sort of like a private message, only you can see it (and it doesn't save to an inbox like a private message). The player in question was rather friendly and offered to meet me there. S/he added me to a group so I could travel to the player's location at the dungeon. S/he had another player/friend with them, a templar/healer character. The initial S/he player was a tank. They asked me what role I was. I tried to explain that I wasn't sure but I thought I was a dps and explained my currently skill lines. Both were very friendly and welcoming overall.
Also, both tank and healer were over level 40 something with their current characters. I'm sure they've already pushed past the level 50 cap on their normal characters. I was like an ant among gods.
So we did the dungeon! I only died once. Healer even let me know when I was about to miss a chest of loot. Healer also, at the end, traded me a level 38 something bow while I gave them a rather pathetic set of prayer boots from my level. Healer was all like, "I know you can't use it now, but maybe later?" and I was like, "Heck yeah!"
THEN they invited me to another dungeon! I accepted and we split up to drop off our inventory. We met back up in a main marketplace a few minutes later. They were doing player duels. Healer invited me to a duel, I accepted, warning Healer I was going to die. Healer brushed it off, saying it was okay, and it was still fun. And it was. We dueled twice and I died both times. But it was still a good experience.
Then we did the second dungeon. I got some more loot and experience. I didn't die at all. At the end, Tank and Healer told me to ask them any questions if I was confused about anything. So helpful! I talked about Fallout a little bit. They were friendly. We added each other as friends. Then Tank had to leave.
I haven't spoken to either of them since this dungeon encounter. I doubt I will reach out to them in the future, given my anxiety. But still. It was fun and I was excitedly telling fiancee about their kindness. As an MMO veteran, he got a chuckle out of my excitement and agreed that you can find people like that sometimes in the sea of douchebags.
So, my way to be just as inspiring, I have my character play the lute or dance in busy player areas. Most of the time, other players ignore me. I get a few, though, that join me in dancing or playing an instrument. I always think it's cool to see that.
I know that this blog post has had NOTHING to do with writing, but it was nice to type my experience.