Living With Dying

“Well, it’s not cancer, so you have nothing to worry about.”

Um. Yeah. No.

Among other things, I have endometriosis. It’s a disease that affects the female reproductive organs and can cause pain, infertility, and nerve damage. The quick version is that the lining of the uterus starts growing outside of the uterus and can bind internal organs together and attach to nerves, causing permanent damage.

I have a lot to worry about. I’m in body-wide pain 24/7, have problems sleeping because of it, am exhausted from the fatigue that comes from constant pain, and have flare-ups in pelvic pain so severe that they land me in the emergency room several times a year.

Nobody gets to police how the sick get to feel about their own bodies.

Nothing to worry about? Start with insanely expensive insurance, PTSD-like symptoms from the pain cascade in the brain, daily medications that keep me functioning and alive, the cost of said medications, the side effects of said medications (drowsiness, weight gain, mental slowness, loss of coordination, nausea, depression, anxiety, osteoporosis), weekly doctors’ visits, surgeries, hospital stays, insomnia – and somehow I still have to hold down a full time job and pretend that everything is okay.

It’s not cancer. Fine. Good. I’m grateful for that. But just because it won’t kill me in 6-12 months doesn’t mean that it won’t rob me of almost everything  that I was supposed to have as a young woman. The life that I was on course to have is gone. A large part of me did die. And forgive me, healthy people, but I am not yet through mourning.

I may never be.

Bloom and Fade

Perhaps my favorite story that I’ve ever written, Bloom and Fade has appeared in the Trapped Tales anthology as well as Wizards in Space Literary Magazine. I want to share it with you here because it seems to resonate with people – and I love to share what I’ve done with the world.

Revolver Giuseppe Cristiano

Art by Giuseppe Cristiano

“Thought you were never coming back, Shayna,” Jackson says. He steps in close and I see that his bad eye has gone strangely milky since I last saw him, what – six? Eight months ago? It’s so easy to lose track the longer we all go on.

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New Beginnings

2016 was not kind to me. Medical crises, surgery, abuse, divorce, and my mother nearly dying. Honestly, I would take a mulligan on it if I could.

But you know what? The divorce, at least, was the best worst thing that ever happened to me. It forced me to strike out on my own and see just what I could do – and it turns out that I can do pretty okay so far. My life hit rock bottom in July 2016 and didn’t start getting better until about December. Since then, it’s only going up from there. Sure, it had nowhere to go but up for a time there, but it’s really improving now.

I’ve got a new job, my beloved birds, a cute apartment, a wonderful support network of friends, and the love of a family that believes in me. I’m going to be okay.

But I wasn’t okay for a very long time.


The thing about emotional abuse that most people don’t understand is that it is insidious. You so often don’t know that it’s even happening because you’re being gaslighted and manipulated into no longer trusting your own instincts. For years, I was treated like I was only worthwhile when I was bringing any money into the household (no easy feat when you’re disabled and in pain all the time) and even when I did, it was somehow not good enough.

My partner never believed in me. He stopped emotionally supporting me at some point – and I was so busy denying that things were bad that I don’t even know when that point actually was. But I was all alone in my marriage for a long time and it ate away at me like a gnawing worm in my core.

He didn’t believe in me as a writer. He didn’t seem impressed when I completed a project or got something published or learned a new skill. I could never be good enough. Maybe if I had been healthy, maybe he could have loved me. But I wasn’t and nothing can change that. We had already agreed that a divorce was imminent.

When he snapped one night in July, he hurt me in a way that can never be repaired or forgiven. There was no going back from that point – only forward and upward. There was no longer a single thought in my mind of reconciliation – which is good. That was not a relationship that was healthy to be in. I’m almost grateful for the turning point because it meant I would never be tempted to go back to him.

And now? Now I’m almost free. I July, I will be able to close that chapter of my life and begin to write the next one. The better one. The one in which I thrive.

Beerily Thus

I have my ex husband to thank for turning me on to beer. Maybe not a lot else, but definitely the beer thing! I used to be a fan of syrupy liquors and mixed drinks like rum and coke, which were pretty hard for a bartender to mess up. Beer, I thought, either tasted like stale rubber bands (the cheap American stuff) or was very sweet and alcoholic and heavy (the Belgian Trippels that my dad loved). Neither appealed to me terribly.

Then, I tried Leinenkugel Sunseat Wheat, a blueberry beer, and realized that there was more out there. I never really turned back after that.

Years of being a sort of passive beer nerd were fine, but a conversation with a Portland friend this past fall spurred me to start Beerily Thus and really examine more of the beer that I drink and why it’s so interesting. I’m not a home brewer, not a chemist, just a fan who loves to learn and write and share more about beer.

I think it is, in part, my training in baking and food that makes beer so interesting to me. It shares a lot of traits with bread making, after all – even though bread and I have a history of me being bad at making it and it winning any fight we get into. Regardless, I’m not looking to make beer (any time soon), but I’m looking to keep digging into it as a topic and learn more about it along with my readers. Join me, won’t you?

Accountability Tools For Writers

I’ve just pitched what could turn out to be a massive writing undertaking – and it’s going to take some doing to make sure I stay on track and on schedule if I get the gig. We’re talking over a year’s worth of work on this writing project! I figured it was time to do some research and find myself some accountability tools – and I’ll share some of the most intriguing ones that I found.

Write or Die

Write or Die is the kind of famous that borders on notoriety. I say this because it is very devious. The basic premise is that, when you’re using it, if you pause writing for too long, it starts to delete the words that you’ve written. This aggressive choice might be a good match for some people, but I think it scares me a little too much!


LitLift is a newer tool that claims to offer everything from organizational tools to sharing options to to even the chance to sell your book through the site. It provides character sheets to fill out and a basic name generator. It does not, however, offer timeline or plot creation tools and many writers suggest that it isn’t very user-friendly. It’s free and worth checking out, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

750 Words

750 Words is a simple word count tracking tool that encourages writers by creating and rewarding milestones every 750 words; that’s about 3 pages of writing at a time. It tracks your words, when you write, how quickly you produce, and what sort of things distract you. It looks like a great free tool for your inner statistics nerd.

Lift App

Lift (different from LitLift above) is a sort of gentle coaching app that leans on positive reinforcement to help you maintain your good habits. There’s a free habit tracker, a $15/week personalized coaching program, and then other coaching programs that increase in personalization as well as price.


Desperately Seeking Static

I don’t write well in silence. Some people need it, others prefer something more lively. I need kind of a middle ground – either music that I’m already relatively familiar with or mindless background TV. Since I pulled the plug on cable at my current apartment, that rules out watching CNN (my old go-to). I do, however, have a huge media library of streamy goodness at my fingertips, which is really the way to go nowadays, isn’t it?


I still did use to enjoy the simple pleasures of trashy background noise and have been known to watch Dance Moms, Toddlers and Tiaras, and Hoarders. Yep. Guilty as charged. It was exactly the kind of mindless drivel that I could simultaneously ignore and vaguely check in with now and again when I needed a break.

I don’t have access to TLC and other such fine quality networks any longer, but I’ve found a need to try and fill this gap in my life. I need something amusing, something that is more episodic than overarching, and something that I can 99% ignore for an hour at a time without missing anything.

The only problem is, I’ve been picking all the wrong shows to do this with.


My most recent Netflix watches have been Star Wars The Clone Wars, Gossip Girl, and West Wing – but they’re all too good to work through! The West Wing I’ve seen many times, but the writing is just too excellent to zone out to. Gossip Girl is my new guilty pleasure (it can be as shallow as you want it to be, but it also has some decent character development). And I’ve also been powering through Clone Wars before it vanishes from Netflix, but it’s also so rich with world building in a setting that I really want to learn more about.

The best match I’ve found so far is another source with a bunch of episodes of America’s Test Kitchen, which is educational and interesting to me, but can also serve as a background program that I can work through. But I’m running out of it fast!

So I ask for your help, internet! What’s good Netflixable television to leave on in the background while I work?