Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Weekend in the ICU

I had an interesting weekend, and by interesting I mean scary.

It started off with a sore throat last week. Then it turned into a fever, and a whole bunch of other stuff that all culminated into what I can only describe as "extreme chest pains and shaking arms and legs" that woke me in the middle of the night. It's not fun to wake up with no idea why your body is miserable and out of control.

I went to the ER, where I was asked all the typical questions. My favorite was "have you been using recreational drugs?" I'm a middle grade author, and fourth grade teacher -- do I sound like a recreational drug user to you? They have to ask that question, of course, so no hard feelings.

There was only one person by my bedside, checking me out. Then that one person attached me to an EKG, and like flipping a light switch there were suddenly six to eight people around my bed, pushing me into another room, and a doctor explaining that things were moving fast because they found something "abnormal in my EKG" that may or may not be a sign I was having a heart attack. Until they knew for sure, they had to treat this as a worst-case scenario.

And I was thinking, "What gives, heart? I'm only thirty-five, and I treat you pretty well. I get clean bills of health at my regularly scheduled physicals all the time!"

It turned out, thankfully, that I was not a thirty-five-year-old having a heart attack, but a guy who'd been fighting a particularly brutal virus that had caused inflammation in his heart. This sort of thing was pretty rare, but it could happen to anyone -- even someone in their twenties. A full recovery was expected as long as I took it easy and stayed under surveillance in the ICU for a few days before recovering at home.

And I was thinking, "I have kids showing up on Monday, and PARCC tests next month, and a three-year-old who needs to be taken to daycare, and I didn't even take the freaking garbage out before heading over here tonight!"

But that's not how it works when your body needs to heal, so I stayed put and listened to people who know better than I do. Now I'm at home, hoping all my big life things hold together for a week or two until I get better.

Random health things happen. For about an hour and a half I was worried I was dying of a heart attack, but I wasn't, and I'm okay. That's how things are sometimes, and they can be managed with the support of loved ones.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I've Been Silent, but Not Still

A lot happened this past week. I've been relatively quiet on the blog and on social media, but I've had tons to say. Now that I'm a little less overwhelmed, it's time for an update:


Yes! I went to ALA Midwinter and had a great time grabbing ARCs, trudging through snow, and meeting editors, Fearless Fifteeners, and other librarian folk. I got to hang out with some Egmont people, including my former editor, Jordan Hamessley, who I'm thrilled to say landed a new job with Adaptive Studios.

There were a lot of nice people with encouraging words about my current situation -- Sara Grochowski from the Hiding Spot, Ilene Wong (I.W. Gregorio), and Fonda Lee. Ilene and Fonda shared a wonderful panel with Sabaa Tahir, Adam Silvera, and Nicola Yoon.

I made several connections with marketers and editors who ended up interested in I AM DRUMS, adding to the huge list of people who've shown an interest in publishing it. Things are looking up.


Despite all the awesomeness, Tuesday ended up being pretty terrible. It was my wife's birthday, and as sweet as it was to call her from school so my entire fourth grade class could serenade her with the Happy Birthday song, I ended up working almost all night (so did she), and we put off celebrating until later in the week. That was totally unfair, and bad husbanding on numerous levels.

Something else happened. For the first time, the news that I AM DRUMS was orphaned actually hit me. I knew it before then, for sure, but Tuesday was the first day I realized that as bright as things look, it is entirely possible for it to fall into a black hole and never make it onto shelves. I hadn't really let myself believe that in the days prior.


I ran a spelling bee at my school. After months of prepping the kids, forty students competed to be the spelling bee champion, and it all went great. I'm currently dealing with the red tape registering our champion for the county bee, but whatever. I had fun, and the end result was worth all the stress of taking it over in the first place.


As bad as the blues are hitting me lately, it's important to remember that A LOT of editors have come through for me, asking for either second looks at I AM DRUMS if they had seen it previously, or even asking for it out of the blue.

I truly believed that I AM DRUMS was living in a vacuum up until now. I didn't think anyone knew it existed other than my family, agent, and editor. It turns out there are people in the publishing industry already talking about it, even though it wasn't slated for release until fall, and now no longer has a release date at all.

That's kind of crazy, and a nice wake-up call for me and all my silly writing worries.


I just might have a short story almost ready to go. It was originally an idea for a picture book, but it's looking like I might have a nice little work of flash fiction (or a little beyond flash) worth shopping around to some literary magazines.

That's all. Until next time...