Journal of a Pandemic Year: Part Four


(Part Four of my Quarantine Diary)

April 3rd

 Today is D-Day on numerous fronts. First of all, and the thing I am most excited/nervous about, Molly O’ returns from my editor this afternoon. Of course, this means I’ll have a lot of work ahead of me as I sort through all of her suggestions, but it’s work of a positive nature. Then she will go back for a copyedit in late June. After that, I enter Query Letter Hell. On the other front, I figure that today should be the day that I know if I have The Rona or not. This afternoon will mark 72 hours since the onset of my sore throat. As of yet, I don’t have a fever, so I am assuming that if I don’t have one by bedtime tonight, then I can chalk this up to allergies. And then…at 1300 hours, I have a live “drop in” hour for my students on Zoom, mainly for those who would like to feel connected. I’m not doing a live lesson or anything and it is optional. Then, at 1700 hours, we are having another Zoom Happy Hour! The last one was fun, so I’m looking forward to this one too. Funny how in the space of just a couple of weeks, I’ve become a Zoom devotee. On the downside, I had some really good days pain wise, but the past couple of have been rough. It comes and goes in cycles, so that’s to be expected, I suppose. But the pain kept me up a good chunk of the night and I needed to be on my toes today given the live meetings.

April 4th

 It is the weekend, but it doesn’t much feel like it given how all of the days run together. I have a lot of school stuff to do this week. Today, I have several videos to upload to YouTube for my 1302 classes. That will get them set for the upcoming week. Tomorrow, I have to record videos for my 1301 course. I’m still fever free, but I woke up this morning feeling generally shitty. My sore throat which had improved to the point of being unnoticeable yesterday evening is worse this morning than ever. My sinuses feel full. I’m checking my temperature every hour and so far, so good. My back is still killing me. It’s the lack of activity. I know it sounds counterproductive, but with my damaged spine and constant pain, I actually feel better the more active I am. Being more or less confined to quarters as I have been for weeks now isn’t good for me. I don’t have a choice though.

There’s some good news though. Molly’s Song has returned from the editor! I have a lot of suggestions to work through and digest in order to come up with my edit plan. It can seem kind of overwhelming at first, but I make lists starting with the big picture stuff and then working my way down to chapter lists. The book is already pretty good, I think I can say that without sounding like too much of a braggart, but it will be even better once I’ve made the revisions. Molly O’ is the kind of character that publishers like…the kind that end up on bestseller lists and she would be great on the big screen. I have no idea who could play her though. She is 18 when the story starts and 20 when it ends. She would have to be played by a young redheaded actress in the 17-24 range and that is pretty specific. I’m sure if we make it to that point, the studios could come up with the appropriate person. In a way, I wrote her as a tribute to all of the strong Irish women in my family that I grew up around, and the strong(willed) German redhead that I married.

Today, my wife also had to go pick up some groceries. I did not help put them away this time, even with gloves, as I am already not feeling great and if I do have The Rona, then it is from the groceries. After she finished, she wiped down everything with Lysol wipes, but we are dangerously low on them now and the stores are still out of them. (Along with toilet paper). Perhaps one day, we will sit around and talk about the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020. Frankly, I think all this stems from the day they shot Harambe. It’s been downhill ever since. But that’s just my opinion.

April 5th

 As if COVID-19 wasn’t bad enough, last night around 4:45pm, two large holes opened up in my roof which led to a flood of rainwater into the bedroom. I’m not sure exactly what caused it. From appearances, it looked like something hit the roof (we had been having rain all day), but I didn’t hear anything. So who knows? We’ve got the roof damage and since water was dripping from a light fixture, electrical damage as well. I filed a claim with our Windstorm Insurance, but I don’t know if they will cover it. If they don’t, we are looking at extremely expensive repairs…all for a house that is only worth 70K. Thankfully, I’d already shot my videos for this week’s courses and so I was able to get them uploaded this morning. I’m comforting myself today by watching my favorite detective series, True Detective Season One. (Season Two sucks. Season Three is a little better than Season Two but not up to Season One standards). Obviously, the damage to the house will impact what I’m able to do moving forward for my classes, but I don’t know exactly how all that will play out. Time will tell.

I’ve also been going through the suggestions from my editor chapter by chapter and making my own revision notes. Just to give you an idea the amount of work that goes into revisions, I’ve made two pages of notes for the first six chapters and there are 33 chapters total. Great books are not written. They are rewritten. I think most authors dread the revision process, but we all know how important it is. Banging out a first draft is great and obviously the important first step, but the true work comes when you go through it time and time again to make it perfect. Or as close to perfect as you can. Thankfully, Molly is a fun character to work with. She’s kind of mouthy. Just like me.

April 6th

 I woke up at 0500 this morning because I was eager to listen to today’s episode of All Bad Things. It is my favorite podcast and today they were doing my episode script. I ended up listening to it twice. After that, I had to do some grading since I had assignments due by 11:59pm last night. It didn’t take that long as basically everyone who turned it in got full credit. To me, that’s the fair thing to do given the circumstances that The Rona have forced upon us. None of us wanted this mess.

Yesterday, I decided I want to go and re-read the complete Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke in preparation for the release of the next book in the series which will be in May. There are currently 22 books in the series, so it is quite a bit of reading. But it makes for good reading. And I have also decided to binge watch all five seasons of Bosch on Amazon in preparation for the release of Season 6 later this month. I’ve previously seen the first two seasons, but I have not seen 3-5. I’m starting from the beginning though. Watching Bosch has proven quite useful. I think I know who could/should play Molly if her story gets made into a series. The young actress Madison Lintz who plays Bosch’s daughter in the series might just work. She’s 20 years old, which is the right age. She has freckles. And though her hair isn’t truly red (it does have a reddish tint), I’m sure they could touch it up for the show. Alright. There you have it. Now all I have to do is land an agent/book deal and have someone option the film rights. Truthfully, her story would work best as a Netflix/Amazon original series, especially since I envision her story being a three book series.

April 7th

 Not much sleep last night. I went to sleep at 11 and was up at 1 and 3:30. From 3:30, I stayed awake until 5:30 and then slept until 7:45. So I’m tired and in a lot of pain today. As I was sitting outside this morning enjoying my coffee and a conversation with Nick O’Tine, I read an article about plans (admittedly in the very early stages) for baseball to resume in May (or possibly June) with all games to be played in Arizona with a lot of concessions due to social distancing, etc. I have mixed feelings about it. As much as I’d love to have baseball to listen to on the radio again, which I greatly prefer over watching on television, I’m not sure it is worth the risk. No matter what controls are put in place to prevent infection, it would just be a matter of time before someone gets sick and if you end up having to quarantine a whole team shortly after the resumption of the season, then what? I get that baseball is important to the country, though arguably less important than it was when FDR made the decision to keep the league going during WW2, but is raising the spirits of people at home worth the risk to the players, managers, and team staff? Personally, I don’t think it is. However, I admit a certain bias since I have no doubt that the Red Sox were going to be positively putrid this season anyway.

The adjuster called me yesterday and he will be out to take a look at the holes in the roof on Thursday morning. I’m hoping that the insurance covers it. If they don’t, I’m not sure we can find the money to fix the roof and the electrical system. That’s a lot of cash to come up with at once if you aren’t expecting it. But we’ll see. It may work out in the end. And my roofing contractor will be here when the adjuster is here to advocate for us and I’m hoping that proves to be the difference. Yesterday I also finished working my way through the editor notes and I’ve made 6 pages worth of detailed notes to myself about the manuscript as well. I won’t start the actual revisions until next week sometime, as now I have to craft a plan for how I am going to tackle it.

The next couple of weeks will be big on the awards front too. On April 13th, I’ll find out if So Others May Live is a finalist for the First Horizon Award which is part of the Eric Hoffer Awards and is specifically for the best first novel. It is awarded for multiple categories, including historical fiction. On May 4th, they will announce the winners. On May 11th, the short list for the Hoffer Awards Grand Prize will be announced, followed up on May 18th with the Grand Prize winner and also the category finalists and winners. Then, on June 17th, the category winners for the Foreward Indies Awards will be announced. (I’m a finalist in the War & Military Category). It is kind of odd when you have one published book in the running for awards while you are working as hard as you can to finish your second. I had actually hoped/wanted Molly’s Song to be out this spring, one year after the release of So Others May Live but it is looking like a late 2020/early 2021 release instead. Oh well, life happens and our best laid plans often don’t come to pass like we had hope or wanted.

April 8th

 I slept a little last night…enough to have a dream that I was at the Alamo, but I’m in a lot of pain today. My whole spine feels like it is being jabbed with ice picks while I am simultaneously being beaten with baseball bats. I have some college work to take care of today. I also need to record some videos for next week, but I don’t feel up to that right now. Maybe tomorrow. My plan is to tackle the paperwork today and the videos tomorrow. But we’ll see. While I work today, I figure on binge watching some old Alamo movies since it was the subject of my dream last night. Available in my video library are The Last Command (1955), The Alamo (1960), 13 Days to Glory (1987), and The Alamo (2004). That’s enough to kill a whole day, and probably a bit more. Alamo movies tend to be on the long-ish side. I suppose that is because it is such a vast story that it isn’t easily contained in 90 minutes. I’m out of audiobook credits for the month, so I had to buy three more. The more distractions I have, the better.

I’m not going too stir crazy yet. I tend to be mostly a home body these days anyway and don’t tend to get out much unless it is to go to work. Otherwise, I’m happy enough staying home. Obviously, before I got hurt, I enjoyed going places and doing things, but with my injuries being as painful as they are, sometimes it is all I can do to even make it to work. Doing that five days a week (during non-pandemic times) takes every ounce of strength and energy that I have, so I assume that I can be forgiven for being somewhat sedentary on the weekends or when I’m socially distancing…which I guess I do all the time anyway, now that I think about it. Despite what I’ve just said though, remember, I tend to feel better the more active I am, so it is a bit of a paradox. Every couple of weeks during this time, I have a telehealth appointment with my therapist and that also helps take some of the edge off.

April 9th

 As planned, I had my Alamo movie marathon yesterday. Funny…they all ended the same way. Typically, at the end of every spring semester, I have a Sharpe’s Rifles movie marathon. (While binge playing Napoleon Total War on the computer). The semester is still one month from its conclusion…we are staggering towards it slowly but surely…yet I’m tempted to dive into the marathon anyway. (While still fulfilling my duties, of course). It is definitely an attractive option. Chosen Men, to me!

This has been a shit semester since before it even started. The fall semester was a constant battle with severe pain, but I genuinely started to feel better over the Christmas Break and was looking forward to returning in the spring. And then I ended up in the hospital and missed the first week of class. It was down hill from there. I just felt off all semester. Then, I had a very bad experience in Feb that I do not wish to describe other than to say it brought up a lot of baggage that I thought I’d kept long buried and for the first time, really, made me question whether or not I wanted to continue teaching. In a way, the Great Online Course Migration has given me something of a reprieve. I’m not sure I would have made it through the semester otherwise.

In order to dive into my Sharpe’s Marathon a bit early, I will first have to go ahead and record the remainder of my video lectures for the duration of the semester. That will take several days. Granted, it isn’t 6 hours worth of lecture material for each week. More like 1.5 hours per prep, so 3 hours total instead of six, broken into 20 minute chunks. Since the adjuster will be out around 11 am today, I can’t get started until this afternoon. I’m going to try and get one week worth of material for one class recorded today. Then, over the weekend, I can probably get a couple more weeks done. I did sleep last night too, so that is a plus. I feel a bit more rested today.

And now we await the adjuster.

Until next time, friends, take care of yourselves, and each other.

(From a distance of six feet)


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