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Restarting The Writing Business – ACK!

mohamed1982eg / Pixabay

There are plenty of blogs out there charting the course of a new endeavor in writing and releasing fiction. No real need for me to duplicate what has already been done unless I have something special to say (which isn’t very often).

But from someone who was making several hundred a month in book royalties who then lost a few years and is now in the process of getting going again? There aren’t that many of those.

Why did I lose a few years? A major life-roll. Mother Hen was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013. I became one of her full-time caregivers. She passed away in 2016, and it’s taken until now to really come out of the fog. I still miss her terribly, but I know she wanted me to keep writing (she said it many times during those last years). It made her so happy to see me reaching out for that dream.

It’s time to do that reaching.

So that’s what I’ll be talking about on my little blog here for a while. Who knows, maybe a few out there will find it of interest and my rambling will help them along with doing the same thing.

So, here are the first steps I’m taking:

1. I’m back to writing! I’m not doing it daily, as I’m working a seasonal job at the moment and have had some fatigue issues. But, I’m definitely making progress! One of the goals is to start recording the progress over at Writing Groove. Oh, and thanks for all the support the writers at Writing Groove and Forward Motion have given over these trying years!

2. Over the winter I took a 6-week writing workshop that I had a lot of fun with. I’ve been reviewing my notes on a few past workshops. I’m also reading writing craft non-fiction books, just to get my mind back into the game (very much picking and choosing what I want to take away from those books). If I find anything of interest, I’ll post here.

3. Creating a new business and writing plan, starting from this point and looking forward. This means setting goals on such things as how much I want to write per week, month, quarter and year. Setting new publishing deadlines. Setting deadlines for getting print editions out there for works that do not have any so far.

4. I’m also investing in myself. This October I’ll be heading to Lincoln City, Oregon to participate in the upcoming Master Business Class for writers, hosted by WMG Publishing. I’m hoping to learn how the industry has changed over these several years, and hopefully learn a few things to better my writing business.

5. Find the new baseline for my publishing business. I am no longer selling at the rate I used to. Not with no new releases in a long time. Using my old baseline as a measurement against the upcoming months would only lead to disappointment and depression.

We don’t need that!

I’m in the process of downloading sales reports across various distributers and retailers, and coming up with an average of how I am selling. I’ll post a detailed report of this baseline when I have it finished. I can then use this new baseline as a reference to see how I’m doing as I get back into the game. I think it would be fun to track on this blog the build-up from that baseline to a new and improved baseline!

All of the above takes time, and yet it feels like it all needs to be done RIGHT NOW. And that list doesn’t even scratch the surface! ACK!

…take a deep breath…

I’m trying hard not to overload myself with everything that needs to be done. That would only set myself up for failure. I don’t need that. So, I’m trying to do what I do at work: Keep my head down and focus on only one task at a time. Finish that task. Feel good about it! Then, and only then, look at the next task that needs to be done. Rinse, repeat.

So, join me on this journey. Let’s have some fun getting back into the groove of things!




Sad Mother Hen News

Grab your tissue box…

As you know, Mom has been sick with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumor since early 2013. She’s had to spend many weeks each year in the hospital because of complications, most recently two long hospitalizations this last summer for a medication problem coupled with a chemotherapy reaction, and then the sudden appearance of mini-seizures.

However, she did managed to bounce back enough for us to bring her back home in October after a stay in a rehabilitation facility. She’s been a happy little clam to be home, with a sweet disposition and a big grin whenever we gave her treats. While unable to get up and walk without the assistance of both Dad and I (because of weak knees and no sense of balance), we were able to have good family time, talk, watch TV and movies, and she could easily feed herself.

A day and half before Christmas Eve I saw signs of more mini-seizures. After talking with her doctor we started her on another medication in hopes of controlling them. I was able to get 2 doses down her, but on the morning of Christmas Eve she had gone weak, could barely talk, and was going from one rolling mini-seizure to the next. We then had her airlifted to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix.

Her mini-seizures did not want to calm down. At one point she was having over 100 at night. They kept adding more medications and higher doses. Finally, after her still having them, and her sleepiness after each one getting longer and longer, they transferred her to the ICU to be more aggressive. They also ordered an MRI to see if there was something going on with the tumor or something else that could explain why they were having so much difficulty.

The next day the MRI didn’t happen because the ER was slammed and with one of the hospital’s machines down, the ER had to have priority. Late in the next day she finally got her MRI. By this time she was constantly sleeping. The thought was that it was because of how sedating the anti-seizure meds were.

Early the next morning the doctors came in with unexpected news. At some point Mom had had a massive stroke that took out most of the right frontal lobe and into the rear right lobe. They said there was nothing more they could do. I called her neurologist-oncologist and he came by the next morning and went over the MRI scans with Dad and I, did an examination and looked over the records of her current stay in the hospital. He concurred. The main blood supply to the right side of her brain had become blocked, killing much of the tissue on that side. On top of that, even though he couldn’t prove it from the MRI, there were strong indications that the left side of her brain was also damaged.

In other words, her being asleep wasn’t because of the mini-seizures (and not because of any tumor growth). One of the times she’d fallen asleep after a mini-seizure and the stroke hit. She went to sleep and just didn’t wake up.

Unfortunately she was never going to wake up. After talking it over between us and the doctors, and knowing Mom’s wishes, we had to make a very hard decision. We transferred her care to Hospice and took her out her feeding tube and any IV nourishment and fluids. That was on January 1st.

Mom was not in any pain and she wasn’t been in any discomfort. She even sounded like she was just sleeping and had a very peaceful expression. They kept her on the strongest of the anti-seizure meds and regularly administered pain meds to make sure she was as comfortable as can be. Hospice of the Valley in Phoenix Arizona was wonderful to work with through this process.

The hardest part? The waiting while her breathing became more labored. She had a lot of lung issues and had problems with pneumonia and bronchitis and she always feared drowning in her own lungs. Hearing her lungs slowly fill up as time went on was torture.

At 10:25am on Sunday after over 10 days without food or fluids, her body finally gave up, just after I had gotten up that morning. It was like she waited for me. She was always a little fighter, proved by having survived her GBM longer than the average, and she just kept going and going and going like the energizer bunny. The nurses and aids were surprised. Dad and I were not.

ArtsyBee / Pixabay

Keep Mom, AKA Mother Hen, in your thoughts and prayers. You were a truly unique and lovable person. You are greatly missed.

Sniffle




R.I.P. Wireless Keyboard – Hello New Art

Well, I wondered if it would happen. It finally did.

After several million words, my Microsoft 1392 Arc keyboard up and died. One night it worked great, then I picked it up the next day for a new writing session…

And nothing.

At first I thought the batteries died. Changed them, and still didn’t work. Could be bum new batteries, right? So I found two more batteries from a different pack. Nope, no go. Tried many ways to re-establish communication with the computer. It isn’t just a connection issue. The little light for the caps lock won’t even come on.

Tried manipulating the area where the batteries went in. Restarted and ran diagnostics on the computer, just in case.

I think it’s dead, Jim.

R.I.P. wireless keyboard!

A new one was purchased, but it took over a week to arrive. My biggest writing time is at night, and unfortunately, the laptop keyboard is too high when the machine is sitting on the desk for me to write very many words. Doing so would hurt my wrists and shoulders because of how bad the ergonomics are.

I can’t afford to harm my wrists and arms. My writing, art, and taking care of Mother Hen depend on them. So, until the keyboard arrived, the writing had to changed.

So, I switched gears! At night I worked on covers and art. These are still moving me forward in good directions! The art I’m doing is not only for myself, but also artwork to sell. Here is my account at Dreamstime with some of my artwork for sale.

While sorting through my artwork looking for works that were almost done, I found a few pieces I’d been playing with. I’ve put a few of them up at my Deviant Art account:

What keyboard did I buy? I found a refurbished Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 for Mac/iPad/iPhone. I’ll never need batteries again!

No matter what, I’m determined to remain creative!




A New Smile and a Thank You Gift

I have an update to my last post.The String Weavers 350H

THANK YOU to everyone who were in a position to help out. It meant that Mother Hen could get the work done on her teeth.

The badly broken and cracked tooth was pulled, and it came out easily without complications. It’s still in the process of healing, but so far so good. Plus, where the broken tooth had been cutting into the inside of her mouth has now healed.

Win win!

On top of that, her badly chipped front tooth is now fixed. She keeps looking at it, amazed that she can’t see where it was broken and repaired. She smiles so much easier now.

And we love her smile. A smile is such an important thing.

So, again, thank you.

As a way of rewarding everyone’s kindness and kind public and private notes, here are two goodies:

When the Skies Fell TSW6-350HBook 6 of The String Weavers has been released (and will soon have an announcement post here). As a thank you, here are coupon codes for the first and new sixth book. Coupons are good for a full week starting today!

The String Weavers (The String Weavers – Book 1) – $.99 (Originally $4.99) – Coupon Code: CA96X

When the Skies Fell (The String Weavers – Book 6) – $.99 (Originally $6.99) – Coupon Code: FU43J

Enjoy!

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Help Needed: Mother Hen’s Smile (Plus Update)

It’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone on how Mother Hen (a.k.a. Mom) is doing. And wow, a lot has happened. Warning: this one is a bit long!

At the beginning of December she had a chemo treatment directly into the brain via an Ommaya Reservoir. All well and good, and she’s had these for a while. The side-effects of the chemo usually go away after 3 or 4 days and we couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t doing its normal pattern. Then she got worse. Then she started loosing her balance. Then she got delirious, and I mean scary-delirious!

On a Sunday we took her to the emergency room and we found out that her shunt valve that controls her Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus had been adjusted to a dangerously low setting after the chemo treatment. Turned out her condition was made worse by a UTI infection, and we already know that those really affect her state of mind. We went home with antibiotics, shunt adjusted back to where it should be, and we thought we might be able to get her back on her feet again…

Wednesday afternoon she had a Grand Mal seizure. There’s a whole story around that, but suffice it to say that it ended up with her being medivaced to Phoenix in a helicopter. She doesn’t remember the flight, which she’s still miffed about as she’s always wanted to fly in one. Hehe, yeah, that’s our Mother Hen. 😛

TSW5-150HThey found out with this visit that her sodium levels were way too low (this can sometimes happen with infections). The emergency room doctor just shook his head and said, “Shunt adjusted too low, UTI infection, and too low sodium? It was a perfect storm for this kind of seizure to happen.”

In other words, no wonder it happened!

It really knocked Mother Hen sideways, though. A week in the hospital to stabilize her was then followed by nearly a month in a Skilled Nursing Facility (and wow, did she have a great one!) because she needed too much care for us to handle at home. She needed daily physical therapy to get the strength and balance back to a tolerable level. She’s not as strong, balanced, or coordinated as before the seizure, but at least we were able to bring her home.

Whew. Yeah, all that blew away all of December, and about half of January. As a consequence, we feel like we never did have a proper winter. Holidays? Um, did those happen somewhere in there? Can’t remember…

There is good news in all this. The MRI at the beginning of December showed no tumor growth. The checkup MRI at the beginning of March was identical to the one in December.

Yay! No new tumor growth!

Now back to bad news…

CCD-150HMother Hen cracked a tooth badly in the Grand Mal seizure AND took a big chip out of her front tooth. Yes, she clenched her teeth that bad (and there was blood all over the place. Superficial wounds to the inside of her mouth, thank goodness). She doesn’t remember the seizure at all (YAY! That’s something I don’t want her to remember), but that front top chipped tooth?

It makes her feel ugly. It’s been horribly deflating to her self-esteem. She sees it every time she looks in the mirror.

See, Mother Hen has always been a lady. For my sister and I, we never had to worry about being embarrassed by our mother. When she came to school she represented us well. She dressed up. She put on her makeup. She did up her hair. And always, and I mean always, she had a smile and a good word for everyone around her.

Now she feels like she lost some of that.

Of course she hasn’t, but sometimes the cruel voices inside don’t shut up despite the truth.

The cracked tooth broke down to the gum line and took with it the crown and part of two fillings. The jagged pieces are creating sores in her mouth. It obviously needs to be removed. Today, we had a dentist look at it to let us know the approximate cost (he agreed it needed to be pulled because of how it cracked and broke away).

Salmon Run Collection 1 150HEven worse? Thanks to the radiation and chemo, and the ongoing chemo, and the meds that are causing bad chronic dry-mouth, the dentist confirmed what I already suspected: Mother Hen will eventually lose all her teeth. All of the above is causing them to rot away and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. All we can do is help her teeth last as long as possible.

The tooth that needs to be pulled will, unfortunately, be the first of many.

This has been devestating to her. She’s always taken care of her teeth. Not so many years ago she had a dentist compliment her and tell her that she would be a person who would likely die with all her original teeth.

Now to the other hard part: The cost to pull it will be $200-300 depending on how difficult it is to get out.

Ever feel like the universe is conspiring against you?

We finally get Mother Hen good insurance that is paying for both her medical care and expensive prescriptions… only to go right smack into a situation where there is no insurance coverage.

FDotS-150HWe did find an understanding dentist. He is coming in on a day off next week to pull the tooth after she recovers from her upcoming chemo treatment. Because of how the chipped top front tooth has affecting her mentally (Mother Hen finds it very depressing), he is even going to fix it without demanding same-day payment. Wow. That was really kind of him.

But it will still be an expense. The fund I had put together to fix the car air conditioning so we could get Mother Hen to and from treatments without giving her heat stroke (and trust me, AC in a car is a must in an Arizona desert summer!) is now going towards this emergency dental bill.

I feel bad about asking, considering how very generous so many were when Mother Hen was diagnosed with this cancer. The generosity meant she could have the radiation treatment when it was originally going to be denied (this was before we were able to get her insurance). It greatly increased her chance of survival, and I think it worked. She’s already outlived the average survival rate of someone with a Stage 4 Glioblastoma brain tumor.

I’m asking for generosity once more, on her behalf. To give her a little bit of her smile back, as well as to pull the teeth that are now beyond hope and prevent them from hurting her mouth or causing other health issues (she certainly doesn’t need more!).

The String Weavers 150HI do want to give something back. So, here is my offer. A free ebook to anyone who donates to Mother Hen, and YOU get to pick the ebook. Just email me through the contact page here on my site with a note that you donated, the amount so I can match it up, and what book you would like and preferred format. Yes, this includes the Salmon Run, The String Weavers, and the Redpoint One books. It ALSO includes the upcoming release of the next book of The String Weavers (out within a week or so), and the next Salmon Run book (out in about 2 months)!

List of books available: http://www.starcatcherpub.com/category/authors/jamarlow/

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and thoughts. Through all of this they have meant a lot to both myself and my family, and of course, to Mother Hen.

PS: To those who donated for her initial treatment, please contact me. The above offer also applies to you. Thanks!

Donation Links

GoFundMe Help For Mother Hen

Click Here to use Paypal

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Mom (A.K.A. Mother Hen) Cancer Fund

Yes, our very own beloved Mother Hen is now struggling with a GBM tumor. The family is struggling because of no insurance and we are desperate to get her the life-saving treatment she needs. If you have a little extra and would like to help out this very deserving person, please consider giving a little donation to help her along the way. Thank you!

GoFundMe Help For Mother Hen

Click Here to use Paypal

Writerly Progress

2015 Yearly New Words
47.15%  188600 of 400000
2015 Yearly Revision Words
9.53%  38100 of 400000

Free Serial: Zerralon

Available Ebook Formats

The works of J.A. Marlow are available in a wide number of formats including DRM-Free. Below is a list of a few of the retailers the various formats can be found at.

Mobi (Kindle compatible): Amazon, Drive Thru Scifi, Omnilit/All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, Xinxii

Epub (Nook compatible): Barnes & Noble, Drive Thru Scifi, Google Play, Kobo, Omnilit/All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, Xinxii, iBookstore

PDF: Omnilit/All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, Xinxii

Palm DOC/iSolo (Palm compatible): Smashwords

RTF (Rich Text Format): Smashwords

LRF (Older Sony Reader format): Smashwords

Plain Text: Smashwords

Online Reading (HTML): Google Play, Smashwords