Friday, February 3, 2023

Fabulous Fashion Friday #1


Coming Closer (Ava & Claire Book #2) has a lot of sewing and 1930s fashion in it - two of my favorite things. 

In honor of my favorite fictional sisters, I'm starting a series of #FabulousFashionFriday posts on Facebook and Instagram to share some of the photos I've accumulated while researching this book, along with snippets, if there is one that applies. 

Obviously I'm sharing here as well, because, well, 1930s fashion? Is that enough reason?

*************************** 

 The sort of dress I would normally make for Claire—bias cut and sinuous, to counteract her primness—would garner the wrong reaction in such a crowd. My sister must look like the what she is, the beautiful wife of a prominent businessman, and her figure, while unavoidable, should not be on blatant display. 

But fashion leans toward the form-fitting. I spend the rest of my work day thinking about it, making bad drawings, and finally haul myself out to the drugstore to surreptitiously look at movie magazines for inspiration. And I find it, in an issue of Silver Screen—a profile of Joan Crawford, illustrated with photographs from several of her pictures, including Letty Lynton, where she is clad in a gown that seems equal parts ruffles and attitude.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

59. How the heck did that happen?

 
My birthday was yesterday. How am I 59? I don't  feel 59. I don't, on most days, feel 39.

I think it's the biggest trick our bodies play on us as we age, that our minds don't age at the same rate. I am continually surprised when my back hurts or my knees pop or - appropriately enough - my eyes don't work properly. Who said I could fall apart?

Last Friday, I saw the retina specialist and he was quite pleased with how my eye was healing. He reduced my eyedrops from four to two, and said he'd see me in three weeks (so February 17) to check my progress and hopefully give me a date for the second surgery.

The strangest thing is that as my right eye is healing, it's got better distance vision than the "good" eye, but I can't just walk around without glasses. (I tried, I tripped over a curb and almost fell on my face). No peripheral vision or depth perception (yet) on one side does not make for safe walking.

In other news, I've just about finished edits for Coming Closer, I'm making notes for the third book (because my head won't shut up), and I'm thinking that I'll add a regular book review feature to the blog because I've read so many good books lately it seems a shame not to share them! Also, many are by other indie authors and it's hard for them (us) to get the word out, so if it's a book I can genuinely vouch for, you'll see it here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Free Audiobooks!


Popping in briefly from my blurred state to give you a reminder about that audiobook giveaway I mentioned a while back. 

I still have a handful of free codes to distribute - 25 for Songbird and 25 for A Wider World. 

PLEASE let me know if you want one or both. (The only thing I ask in return is that if you enjoy listening to the book, to please leave a review on Spotify. It's a new platform, it's audience-building all over again).

You can leave a comment here or email me at karen @ karenheenan . com


Saturday, January 21, 2023

An unexpected detour

So, not quite as planned. I had my cataract surgery on Tuesday and what should have been a 10 minute procedure took well over an hour. The doctor, after the fact, told me that in her 13 years of practice, she had never seen a cataract of the size, thickness, and tenacity  of mine (isn't it fun being special?) and it complicated the process because my eye no longer has the structure to hold the new lens.

Apparently I've always been complicated structurally. Most eyes are round, but the more near-sighted you are, the more football-shaped the eye becomes. She explained it sort of like a hammock. You know the strings / fibers that hold the hammock at either end? Our eyes have similar fibers that hold the lens in place. Well, she said my cataract was so large that it was like replacing a softball in the center of that hammock with a bowling ball. Which snapped, and/or stretched a lot of those fibers so that they are no longer capable of holding the lens. She said she tried, inserted the lens, and I moved my eye and it went spinning out of place. So we get to try again.

Yesterday I went to their retina specialist, who looked over my eye, said that considering my cornea looks like someone played basketball with it, it was healing well and we just need to wait a MONTH or so for the inflammation to die down. Then he'll perform the workaround surgery of inserting the lens from behind and stitching it into place. I don't really want to think too much about that, because the tiny sutures that the cataract doctor put in are itching like I have an eye full of sand. But I have to do it, because right now, without my lens and cataract, everything is a blur on the right - but a brightly colored blur. I'm seeing blues I haven't seen in several years.

At the conclusion of the follow-up exam with the cataract doctor, I said to her that she shouldn't expect me to deal with my left eye anytime soon, my motivation is now somewhat lacking. She totally understood, and said that the cataract on that one is extremely minimal, so I can take time; I know now what it looks like when it gets worse, so I'll make the move when I have to; and she also would recommend waiting 6 months to hear simply for my right eye to finish healing before I do anything to the other one. 

So that means my regular eye doctor will have to get bullied into giving me a new prescription for a fixed eye and an unfixed eye, and if he doesn't like it, he can lump it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Coming Closer - Cover Reveal and Blurb!

This post is pre-scheduled because I am hopefully at the eye doctor today having the shield taken off my eye (assuming I haven't taken it off myself in the a.m. out of impatience) and finding out that that I can see more than 3 inches in front of my face.

Here's the finished cover and probably final blurb for Coming Apart, the second book in my Ava & Claire series. It's available for pre-order now, and I'm about 50% done with the edits. Then I'll let it rest for a week or two, so I can start drafting book 3 and then go back and look at it with fresh eyes to catch the last repetitive words and pesky typos.

I love this cover possibly even more than the first one. It's another family photo - my great-aunt Margaret again, slightly younger, but in a dress that absolutely fits the arc of Ava's story as a seamstress in Philadelphia during the 1930s.

What do you think of the blurb? It's really difficult to boil down two entire stories into a few paragraphs, but I've done my best. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Sharper Images

This is not quite how I see, but my photo
editing software doesn't blur any worse than this.
Four years ago, I had retina surgery. This is something I don't really like to think about - the idea of someone doing things to my eyes is squick - but it happened, and it kept me from having a far worse surgery, as it turned out.

My regular eye doctor, a lovely man who pays very close attention to things that most regular eye doctors do not, was the one who found the retina irregularity. He also, two years ago, told me that I was developing cataracts on both eyes. 

The right, he said, was far worse, but the left would catch up eventually. And my left eye is my "good" eye, the one that didn't have surgery, that has a much lighter prescription. The eye that's basically doing all the work these days because I needed new glasses after the retina surgery but there didn't seem much point when there was still work to do.

Last year, I thought seriously about getting my cataracts done. I was starting to see vague differences in color between my right and left eyes, and there was  noticeable blur on the right, but that being my "bad" eye, I didn't know if it was the cataract or just my crappy vision.

In December, I finally sucked it up and got a referral to a cataract specialist, and my consultation was on December 30. She did a full exam and referred me to their in-house retina guy to sign off on the previous work. I also had a physical (at an urgent care, because my GP retired years ago and I've been meaning to replace him). So I'm 4 appointments in and nothing's actually happened yet.

The first surgery is Tuesday, January 17, on the right eye, followed a week later by my left eye. The doctor thinks that she can get me to 20% of my current eyeglass prescription, which would be amazing. I'd had no idea that it would actually improve my prescription, but apparently removing that fogged up lens will do that. She wanted to insert a lens that would help with my mild astigmatism, but it's not covered by my health benefits, so we'll do that with glasses instead.

It's not that I'm bargain-shopping my healthcare, but the astigmatism lens would cost $3,000 out of pocket as opposed to completely covered for the standard lens, when it's the exact same procedure and same doctor. That makes as much sense as dental insurance covering root canal but considering a crown to cover the exposed root to be cosmetic dentistry.

But whatever. I can buy a lot of glasses with $3,000. Though right now, all I want is one pair that I can see out of, and maybe a pair or two of prescription sunglasses so I stop staring into the sun like an idiot and doing the same damage all over again.

Here's to 2023 being a year of clarity. Of vision, and everything else.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

2022 Roundup

My word for 2022 was "push," partly to make up for what I felt was the sluggish pace of my former publishing journey, and partly, well, to push myself into actually doing all the things on my list.

How did I do? You tell me.

  • Published Lady, in Waiting in February.
  • Re-released Songbird's audiobook, finished edits for A Wider World's audiobook and learned to master audio so I could get that one up as well.
  • Finished writing and editing Coming Apart.
  • Formatted and released omnibus edition of the first Tudor Court trilogy in August.
  • Wrote a prequel novella for Coming Apart which was released as a newsletter exclusive. Haven't read it? Sign up here
  • Released Coming Apart in October.
  • Wrote a novella (Princess of Spain) which was included in the Alternate Endings anthology, released in November.
  • Six podcast guest appearances to talk about Coming Apart and historical fiction / writing generally. 
  • Two in-person visits with writer friends, which were hugely inspiring for all concerned.
  • Participated in a Zoom writing group (monthly until we fell off, but still keeping up by email) and a weekly writing salon on Twitter. Talking to other writers feeds the best, y'all.
  • Writing the first draft of Coming Closer, which is the second book in the Ava & Claire series. It's done, it's resting, and I'll start in on edits in a week or so. Release is scheduled for April 18, 2023, so I'd better get on it...
Still thinking about my word for 2023, even though it's 2023. I can't repeat push, I might injure myself.