Friday, December 17, 2021



No really, thanks so much. Obviously, from the last post, I didn't publish on November 19th. More like November 30th, and the paperback still isn't properly on line. According to Amazon, the paperback is available. Yet no one can find it, not even me. 

There appears to be a problem with keywords. Somehow they don't work with the system. I've gone in and changed a few things and re-published. I'm trying to be optimistic, but...I'll keep trying until it works. I've spent too much time and money trying to make this work, I can't just give up. 

I'd like to say thanks to friends on Facebook. I ordered paperback copies of ELAINA'S FATE, so I know they're definitely done,(They're gorgeous, thanks Emma!)  and I posted them on my personal Facebook and my Author page. Not much on the Author page, but my personal Facebook got 99 reactions. Wow! Thanks! There were a lot of comments congratulating me too. It feels pretty awesome, and I needed that, THANKS! 

David did an awesome job, but I'm glad he missed the agony of publishing. He's still been a good sounding board. Some of it was my fault, like the wrong format size. Oops and Ouch. But a lot of it was, and still is, the fickle nature of KDP. I'm worried that Emma and Heather won't want to work with me again. This whole thing took up way too much of their time and I feel shitty about it.

Which brings me to this...I'm reconsidering my publishing options. That might mean no more paperbacks. (But never say never.) It can also mean looking for an actual publisher.

Heather suggested Draft2Digital, and I'm definitely going to try that. But not until January. I'm too busy, and I don't have the spoons. The original plan was to publish in time for Christmas so people could order Elaina's Fate for Christmas. Well, we're beyond that now, aren't we? Now the plan is just to make it available to anyone on any e-book site, without using Amazon. Not just for my issues with publishing, but for moral reasons as well. 

I have a lot to think about, a lot to absorb. I can't do that a week before Christmas while I'm working retail. Insert Canadian apology here.  Yeah, I'm seriously sorry.

I hate publishing, it's true. But I LOVE writing. When I feel like giving up, my husband offers these words. "Don't deprive the world of your art." It always works.  Makes my heart sing that he believes like that. 

So somewhere there must be a happy medium, a solution. Not everyone reads paperbacks, and not everyone wants to buy a Kindle or a Nook. I need to figure something else out. 

I'm on it in January! Wish me luck. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Cover Reveal for Elaina's Fate!

 I thought this time might never come. I'm still paranoid that it won't. You see, everything is ready to go. Heather did her magic and sent the necessary files. The paperback version is perfect, and I'm downloading  the digital one soon.

Emma did a brilliant job, but now KDP wants a PDF file for this, but a JPEG for that. But I know these are just details. It's going to happen. Eventually. 

But speaking of Emma's brilliance--Want to see what she's done?  I give you, the brand new cover for ELAINA'S FATE. 


I am in love with this cover. It's exactly what I wanted to see. Emma worked extremely hard on this.  I chose the pictures, and she made them work. Everything about Elaina here had to be changed. The photo I originally chose was warm in tone, orangish. The woman was a redhead, and she was holding a gun. She was also wearing a heavy jacket with a collar. 

I'm so excited, and I hope readers are as well. I'm sorry for making you wait. I wish I could give you an exact publishing date. I'm aiming for next Friday, November 19th. Ah. Wish me luck. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Back to Graves

 Hey, I'm back, and it's not a cat post. 

Fall is always crazy busy for me. I don't mind. It's neither too hot nor too cold to get everything done. I'm not going to bore you with the list, but I will tell you that pear loaves are in the freezer, got my flu shot, got my winter tires on, and my house is clean from top to bottom. I don't even have kids, and I can barely keep up. 

I also have a novel coming out named ELAINA'S FATE. I'm on it, for real. Emma designed a wicked cool cover for me, David helped me write the story. Spoiler Alert: You can thank him for the longer and improved battle scene. Heather has worked her usual magic, polishing my words into grammatic prose so well that I can barely tell where she's been. It's still mine...only better. 

I have been slowly crawling toward graveyard shift, and I'm letting it happen. It's natural for me and someday, when I'm a retired crone, I will live like this permanently. I like the day, but my body prefers night time, like a vampire. 

Something happens to my body when Fall arrives. I was practically born an insomniac, but I thought I'd learned how to control it. Sometimes...not all the time. I no longer stay awake for days. Right now, I'm finding that I'm always tired. I wake up in the ungodly hours and can't get back to sleep. I need long daytime naps, and they are blissfully deep snorefests where I wake up refreshed at dinner time. I'm letting it happen. 

If you're wondering what I mean by 'Born an insomniac' , It's like this. I was born in winter and my beloved father worked eleven at night until seven in the morning for the railroad system. (This was when he still went to school at NAIT. Apparently, my father didn't rest much in the early years of his marriage.) I couldn't sleep or be comforted until my father came home from work. He would rock me to sleep, and my mother would serve him bacon with scrambled eggs and a beer after I finally went down for the day.

Also odd fact. I had no idea my father went to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to be an electrician until he passed. He became an Instrument Mechanic shortly after we moved to an obscure hamlet named Rainbow Lake and they needed other skills than an electrician. . He challenged the exam to be certified and spent the rest of his life as an Instrument Mechanic That trade was new and he never once spent a day in NAIT'S classroom to become one.  

But I digress, back to graves. Why fight it? I used to work graveyards when I was single and I decades later worked them well for a certain toy company that still exists in Canada. While I'm not working for them this year, the department store I spend 75 to 80 percent of my time working at agrees that coming in after they close is a great idea. The staff already knows me from other late night work I do. No collectors to deal with, I won't be in the way of customers while I do what I need to do. The staff like me, and I like them. I feel energetic just

 thinking about it. This is gonna be great! 

The other stores I do? I can always nap until they open at seven, eight, nine o 'clock, and be there extra early before they are busy. 

Or I can spend my off hours getting ELAINA'S FATE  ready to publish. I win. Or at least I hope so. My goal is to get ELAINA'S FATE out in time for Christmas. I hope so anyway. It's been too long, and I'm sorry. It just wasn't ready, I wasn't ready. Sorry for so much delay.

So please wish me luck.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Another Cat Post

 Yes, another cat post. But I'm hoping you're wanting more information on Grendel and maybe a bit on Freya, because there's a lot to tell. 

First of all, Grendel is doing GREAT, He's a happy boy, and has adjusted well to our family. In fact, he's become a bit of a diva, shouting everywhere he goes, at all hours of the day and night. We adore him. He and Dan are especially close, and it makes me happy to see the love between them. Grendel follows Dan wherever he goes and likes to interrupt his computer games by jumping on his desk and sticking his butt in Dan's face. His presence always makes Dan's face light up.  His leg? Like nothing ever happened. Not even a limp. 

Favorite food? Pretty much anything we give him. He's still got a ferocious appetite. But cover your Ranch dressing. If he smells it, he'll seek it out and lick it up. He's over catnip. His thing now is Honeysuckle. He doesn't care about laser pointers, and his favorite toy is a pink insect on a string I call Mr. Bug. Dan puts one end under his shoe, and walks around the kitchen table with it.  "Oh, no! It's chasing me! Save me Grendel! Save me from the spider-thingy."

The vet gave him the birthdate of September 15th, and he'll be three next month. I bought new Honeysuckle, chicken Squeezables and low-sodium tuna. I'm going to get him a new toy. Mostly likely something on a string. We are a happy family of two adults and two cats.

Except for one thing.  Freya has diabetes. We found out last week. I had small reaction to the news, but I know why. I'd already done my crying when I didn't know what was wrong. Finding out she had diabetes was almost a relief. I knew then that she was treatable, and I wasn't going to lose her.

I'm mad at myself for not noticing the massive weight loss. A whole kilogram since her spring visit, and now it's obvious. It was her increased appetite that tipped me off. Freya eats, but was never food motivated. She usually just licks the gravy off her wet food, eats only a bit...maybe a bite or so of kibble. Suddenly her appetite matched Grendel's and she started asking for more. Her water intake increased as well. 

So here's what we're learning. Her first visit was expensive, but we expected that. About $500 CDN. There will be more visits, and they're called 'curves'. They will be used to determine how much insulin she'll need. 

Her insulin isn't expensive, not at her doses. For a human, it must be awful, pricey, and stressful. It's the exact same stuff, but she's currently at one milligram, twice daily. Her insulin will last us about six months or so.   

Giving her the shots are hard. We don't like giving her needles, but we've got experience because of Spartacus. It should be easy, but her needles are not the same as his were. His was a single needle, not a syringe, just stick it in, and let the saline drip in. Spartacus sat quietly, knowing he'd feel better when we pulled the needle out 

Her needles are smaller, and Dan keeps pressing the plunger by accident before he gets the needle in her skin. The really hard part is because she's clearly uncomfortable. I think I've been pinching her skin too hard when I go in, and there's no fat left to ease the prick of the jab. It's such a small dose, sometimes I worry that we're screwing it up, and not getting it in her system. 

I worry about other factors, like general pain. Since her diagnoses, she doesn't like to be pet. I worry that she's in pain. I knew arthritis was a thing for senior cats, so we've been putting towels in the dryer, just for her. I hope it helps. 

Her food is the expensive part. A six pound bag of Purina dietary kibble is about five dollars less than the massive bag of Meow Mix. One can of wet food of about 156 grams is over three dollars. 

Most people who know me know that I trust my vets and I usually follow their instructions to the letter and spare no expense. I've been asking for opinions on Facebook about food. I read the ingredients on those expensive cans, and they don't look that great. 

And it's not that I don't trust my vet. I do, but I'm conflicted. I'm finding she likes to run all kinds of extra tests and adds costs, and suggests unnecessary visits. My Yelp review says that I feel like my cats are more than dollar signs to them. I don't feel that way anymore. I often feel like maybe she's being pressured to milk us. 

So I followed the advice of people who make their own cat food and have had diabetic cats. (Thanks especially to Carrie Ganie.) Today I made my own cat food. I used chicken breast, brown rice and cat grass from my own garden. ( no pesticides, ever.)  I finally used the meat grinder I asked for and received for Christmas a few years back.  Both cats are enjoying it. It's probably still expensive, ( I haven't done the math.) but it's not Three-bucks-a-can expensive. 

As a former meatcutter I can add some important information about chicken. I made certain to avoid a product called 'Seasoned Chicken'. You may have seen footage of  butchers putting long needles into chicken meat and plumping it up. That's a brine. Literally just salt water. It's used to make the chicken 'taste better', look better, and add to the weight. It's harmless unless you are watching your dollars and your salt intake. I don't buy it for us and I sure as hell won't buy it for my cats. Check your labels. If they are brining the chicken, they legally have to tell you, but they will call it 'seasoned'. 

Sorry I haven't written much in the blog. Honestly, it comes down to time, sensitive topics, and how I'm still trying to learn how to load photos from my phone. Still struggling with that. Literally, this was the only useful photo I could find. I'll update if I figure it out. For all photos I've taken recently, see my Instagram under Donna Milward. 

And for the readers waiting for my next book: Sorry for the wait. I'm re-writing a battle scene, and David will need to edit that too. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Week Eight and it's Not Over Yet


My poor sweet Grendel. Two weeks ago, we went to my vet, sure that the cast could come off. We got a disturbing x-ray. What was that leg bone doing floating unattached to anything? What  does it mean?

So we got an appointment with Dr. Fowler, the same guy who did his surgery. Because I couldn't understand...How is Grendel able to jump and run and play with that one bone just hanging out in the middle of nowhere? 

He was doing so well...He was darting around like crazy, with not even a limp. He'd declared war on the shower curtain, and he and Freya were starting to play with each other. 

So, it turns out that the gap I saw is fine. That's actually a fifth bone, (!)  and it's okay to float there. Over the course of the year it will evolve and adapt to his body. He will grow a callus and Grendel will still walk normally. 

I was excited for Grendel. I honestly believed that once that cast came off, he'd be ripping around this house like a cat reveling in his freedom. I thought there would be no stopping him, and my biggest worry was how we'd keep him inside for another month. 

I opened the carrier on the floor, waiting for Grendel's triumphant entrance. He crawled out, shaking his leg hard. We were told he had sores. There were raw spots where the cast had chafed, we expected that. They said if he licks to put a cone on him. I figured maybe I'd put some Polysporin on the bald spots. 

Minutes later I checked on him, He'd torn skin and fur away with his teeth, and had a small pile going on the bed. His leg looked like a half raw, half eaten drumstick. On with the cone!!  But as for the Polysporin? Forget it. That leg IS raw, don't even touch it. Grendel hasn't hissed or growled at me in months. I was saddened to hear his pain and anger, but don't blame him for his outburst.

I called my vet and explained the new situation, as they all know and love Grendel. I begged for pain meds and the very sympathetic vet tech  said she'd text when they were ready. I walked into the bedroom to see Freya kindly vacate her favorite bed on the dresser so Grendel could crawl in. She did it without hurry or fuss...just got up and stepped out, as if to say, "Yes, of course. You look like you need it more."

He's resting there now. I noticed he was awake, so I put a couple of  Tuna Squeeze-Ups on a plate and mixed a dose of painkiller in. Then I held it up to his face, inside his cone so he didn't have to move. Freya got some too, not just because Grendel got treats, but because she willingly gave her spot to her brother. 

He'll be okay. We know. As soon as the skin scabs over, Grendel will feel better. It's only a couple more days. It's almost over and Grendel can have a happy, pain-free life again. Soon. Sigh. Also: Thank you Guardian Veterinary Hospital and Mayfield Veterinary Hospital. We can't wait until this is over.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Sad Day/Good Memory


I was in a productive mood this morning. I've spent months on edits for 'Elaina's Fate' and today all I have left is the Epilogue. 

This particular novel has been grueling. It's written in first person and present tense, which is completely different for me. Why did I do that? Because Elaina herself insisted. I tried my usual way, and it was clumsy and somehow felt wrong. No problem. It's good to try new things. 

It seems to have taken me forever to get here, and I wondered why. How long has it been, anyway? About four years. 

Oh God...Four years. Four years ago, I lost my father to congestive heart failure. Suddenly, I realized what day it is. Make that four years ago TODAY, that we lost my father. 

I remember the date, because I made a half-assed joke about Dad waiting a day to die so we could be sure it wasn't a prank. (He had a weird sense of humor.) 

I remember shortly after dad died, I found it nearly impossible to write. Every time I did, I'd wind up crying, knowing I was writing a book he'd never read. Now here we are today. I'm finishing the last edits on a book he'll never read, and it hurts all over again. 

But I am determined. I'm going to get things done today, even if If have to take a little break from the Epilogue. I'll get it done. But first I have to purge my heart, here. 

As some know, my father was a recreational pilot, and had his own plane. This photo came from a Fly-in Breakfast he attended. Drayton Valley, I think, with his Piper Cherokee 140. Her name was 'Emy', because her call letters were CF-EMY.

A friend saw this photo and asked if I'd ever considered getting a pilots license. The short answer is yes, but I couldn't afford it and I'd never pass a hearing test anyway. 

But the longer answer is: I never loved flying as much as my father did. My love was for airplanes themselves. I can't tell the different from one vehicle to the next on the road, but more often than not I can tell you what kind of plane just flew overhead. 

Dad taught me the basics. I could, technically take off and land. (I've never actually landed a plane.) And I can steer a plane just fine. However, I find being in control of a chunk of metal hurtling through the air to be a stressful experience. I don't enjoy it. Sure as Hell don't want to spend big gobs of money on it. 

Oh, and I also HATE turbulence. I also don't want to be in control of a hunk of metal speeding through random, unpredictable pockets of air. 

So how about a story about turbulence with a dash of TMI? 

It was the eighties. Dad had Emy, and she was a small, four seater low wing aircraft. I liked Emy, but her low wing design didn't handle turbulence well, and I often found riding with her often got bumpy. 

I was a teenager at the time, knee deep in my Duran Duran phase. I wore a lot of black and white, and was rarely seen without my black Fedora. (The band wore them.) I also had terrible acne, which I was on medication to control. This medication could cause mild nausea. Yeah. 

But it was a great day for a flight, so we were going up for a short jaunt to Whitecourt. Too bad the air was so rough. Ohhhhh, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy. And I'm starting to sweat. My father sees this, and no doubt he mistook my nausea for fear. He knew I didn't like turbulence. 

So we go higher, so high the land looks like a green and yellow checkerboard. The air is so clear, we can see the Rocky Mountains off to the west. Dad tells me he figured the air would be smoother higher up, and he was right. Then he tells me how many thousands of feet up we are. I look down and count the ants on the highway. Ohhhh, my stomach. 

The rest of the trip is uneventful. I hold it together, not wanting to freak out my dad or cause him to cut the trip short due to me not feeling well. Everything was fine until it was time to descend. 

The turbulence had become worse as the day warmed up. Coming down made my guts feel like a Roadrunner cartoon. I could almost visualize my stomach hanging in midair before slamming back into place. Repeatedly.

I still thought I could hold it together. But as my father turned on final and throttled down, I knew I wasn't going to make it. I placed one hand over my mouth, and the other on Dad's shoulder. I watched his face transform from Happy Pilot enjoying himself to 'Óh shit, she's gonna blow.'

And chunks were blown. Hard. My father bursts into hysterical laughter. He's laughing so hard, I'm worried, as I'm spewing, if he can land the plane. But we make it on the ground, and my stomach is blissfully empty. My father is still laughing. He taxies down the runway, catching his breath long enough to yell, "You should of used your hat!" And he's off and running again. 

Where was my Fedora, you ask? It was sitting on the back seat, right in front of the airsick bags I had no idea we had. 

We get parked and Dad goes to look for some paper towel in the truck. He never stopped laughing. Not even a little bit. I stayed behind to assess the mess. 

Here's the funny part. I didn't get any on Emy. There was no vomit on the dash, the seats, the steering column, not even on the seatbelt. I wore all my own barf. Yeah, Dad really appreciated that. So considerate of me. 

The airport was only about a kilometer from home, thank God. Because Fox Creek airport had no amenities. I rode all the way home with a clean hat and vomit from my chin to my lap. 

Dad snickered over that one for years. We'd go flying and he'd ask me if I needed a hat. 

* For those wondering, Grendel is fine, but he needs to be in the cast for at least another two weeks. I do plan to write another blog for him. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Day One and We're Exhausted


If you follow this blog or my personal Facebook, then you've met Grendel. Grendel is the stray cat we've been feeding since late July. We've welcomed him into our home and let him stay as long as he likes. We've encouraged him to stay overnight, giving him treats and toys, with moderate success. We'd hoped that with the arrival of winter, he would just stay in.

He didn't want to. He likes us and trusts us, but he didn't want to be our cat. That became clear when the closer we tried to get to him, the more he resisted. If we kept him in against his wishes, he punished us with absences. We tried to give him space.

But he always came back eventually, if it got too cold, or he got too hungry, or if he'd been injured from a cat fight. We took him to the vet twice. He comes to us when he hurts. 

Then THIS happened: 

He came home three days ago, clearly in pain. We thought it was another sprain perhaps, but he couldn't put any weight on his foot. We kept him in, despite his protests, and watched it overnight. In the morning, it seemed to be worse, so we called our vet. (Mayfield Veterinary Animal Clinic)

They were exceptionally busy. Is it urgent? Describe his injury. They made the time to see him. Vet said it looked pretty bad and she recommended an x-ray. This is that x-ray. She only took one because the problem was obvious, no need to cause him more pain by repositioning him. 

The next two hours were a flurry of phone calls to Guardian, trying to find the best course of action. We had a make him fast the rest of the night, in case he could get in a morning appointment that required sedation. Long story short- after many more phone calls Guardian had a cancellation and could take him in for surgery. THANK GOD. And yes, they could neuter him as well. We'd been meaning to do that anyway, and we felt that without neutering his recovery would take longer, due to his wandering, somewhat feral nature. 

As you can imagine, the surgery was expensive. He now has two plates in that leg. I'm not going to tell you how much. Partly because the price was the decision of the vets involved (It was a bit less than expected. Maybe they cut us a break.) ) and partly because I'm a little bit embarrassed. Why would we pay so much for a cat that isn't ours? Some might think it was a dumb idea. It's just a cat, right? I know pet owners and animal lovers would understand.

Number One, it's a cat we love. Number two, he's a creature in need. He came to us, because he trusted us to help him. What else could we do? Like what? Abandon him? Hell no. Put him in a splint? Not with that injury, it would lead to ...Amputation? God, no. That would destroy him! So, you other options. 

The trip home from the south end of Edmonton to the west was hard. Grendel yowled, cried and thrashed violently all the way home. I was terrified he would further injure himself. He was angry coming out of the carrier, struggling to stand and walk, not that he's supposed to...Two medications were due, we had to remove the bandage on his front leg where the intravenous was, and put his cone back on. Dan went out and purchased a fabric cone for his comfort. We had it on him for less than an hour before it completely disappeared. Twenty-two dollars gone with no trace. More medication tonight after he has a good solid sleep and more food. As I write this, he's stretched out on the basement futon, out like a light. 

This is day one and we're pooped, and he will remain indoors with us for a minimum of six weeks.  (For good, if we can convince him.) More splint changes, new newspaper pellet litter, blocked off passageways, closed doors and keep him separated from Freya.

Dan and I often thought he had a couple of families looking after him. A neighbor told me that he lives in a green house across the avenue. I'm prepared for someone to come to my door, demanding to take him back. I will hand them the receipt we received from Guardian. I will ask them: "Where were you when he broke his leg? Why did he come to us, and not you?" 

We have accepted that he may never be our cat, he might actually belong to someone else. He might not stay after all this is over. 

But the more Dan and I talk about it, the less embarrassed I feel about our choices. Why shouldn't we do this? We have no mortgage and a clean VISA. Animal shelters and organizations all over this city, all over this continent do more with less. And there's no shame in helping defenseless animals. It's the RIGHT thing to do. Dan and I promised each other when Spartacus Jones died that we would help homeless animals to the best of our ability. 

We're keeping that promise now.