Thursday, April 27, 2017

So I have a brain tumor....

My Tumor
















This is a very odd post that seems more like the stuff of fiction than fact.  I have a tumor growing out of my 8th cranial nerve, pressing on my brainstem.  Also, because that isn't exciting enough, I'm pregnant with my second child.

The Path to Diagnosis

I think it's important to share this story.  A vestibular schwannoma is a tumor that is apparently growing in popularity, despite Google classifying it as "very rare".  Symptoms can be confused for other things, such as anxiety and migraines.

My first clue something was amiss was in July of 2016.  The right corner of my mouth felt wet and cold, even though it wasn't.  The odd wet feeling came and went over the course of a week, then vanished.  I didn't see a doctor since it went away on its own.

A month later, I was vacationing and enjoying some amazing coastal shellfish.  The right side of my tongue started going numb and I was convinced I developed a shellfish allergy.  For the next several months I avoided shellfish.

In January, I found out I was pregnant with my second child.  I was very happy, until the weird mouth feeling came back accompanied by cold sensations on the right side of my face.  I saw my GP, who basically said, 'I don't have any idea what's wrong with you, but I'll give you a referral to a neurologist'.  While waiting for the neurology appointment, I developed subtle tinnitus in my right ear.

The initial neurologist I saw was terrible.  He insisted I didn't have MS repeatedly, even though I never asked about MS.   He said I couldn't have a tumor because the symptoms wouldn't have faded.  He said if I wasn't pregnant, I could have an MRI immediately, but since I was, I had to wait until after I delivered in September, (once again, this was January).  He proceeded to rattle of a long list of causes ranging from vitamin D deficiency, hormones or a dental issue.  Then he stated nothing was really wrong with me because I only had one symptom.  My MRI was scheduled for October and I was sent on my way.

Not happy with this lack of diagnosis, I explained my concerns to my midwife at my appointment a few weeks later.  I was told I could absolutely have an MRI, and it was one of the safest scans you could do during pregnancy, (without contrast of course).  She referred me to a perinatal specialist and also cleared me for a dental xray.  I had my dental xray, which showed nothing wrong.  I met with the perinatal specialist who referred me to a neurologist.  I waited another week and a half.

The second neurologist thought my symptoms warranted investigation and scheduled me for an MRI. Two weeks later, it was revealed I had an acoustic neuroma/vestibular schwannoma.  Growing out of my acoustic nerve, it's about the dimensions of a large grape.  Though the tumor itself is usually benign, the location is very nasty, placing it alongside of the vestibular nerve, the trigeminal nerve, and next to the brain.  As you can see from the MRI, mine is encroaching on my brainstem.  Being pregnant, my treatment is delayed, though I'm under close monitoring.


What can fans do to help?

I don't need any sort of fundraiser to pay for treatment.  What I really need is patience from fans.  I know it's not atypical to wait two years for a sequel, but it's been hard on me because I really want to tell you the rest of the story.  The first book was 115,000 words, this one is already pushing 170,000, and I can't wait to share the story.

I have already received kind messages about Centernia. I appreciate the emails, comments, and fan art.  It means a lot to me!  If you would like to do something more active to help, take the time to write a review on Goodreads, Amazon or any other outlet that reviews books.  These reviews help Centernia grow!!!

If you happen to be a convention dealer or artist and would like to help sell Centernia, please contact me.  I won't be able to do as many shows in the next year.

I'm editing every day.  At the moment, I'm grateful that my symptoms are very mild.  I'm much more fearful of my treatment, which can cause deafness, facial paralysis, vertigo and balance issues.  I'm really, really, trying to finish this book before I get to that.  I also could be lucky and have minimal side effects.  We don't know if the tumor will grow in the next several months and how difficult it may be to treat.    I'm going to remain optimistic, simply because being miserable really won't help anyone.  I appreciate the everyone's concern and understanding. :-)














Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tora Con Panel: World Building




This weekend I had the honor of delivering a panel at Tora Con on World Building and Indie Publication.

During the lecture, I spoke on the process I use to create a world.  As promised, here is the checklist of elements a creator needs to be aware of when building a believable fantasy universe.  By establishing and understanding these components, you'll ensure that your reader is immersed.


Social World


  • Economy & Trade
  • Tradition and Superstition
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • History
  • Prejudice
  • Distribution of Wealth


Physical World


  • Technology
  • Housing
  • Environment
  • Creatures
  • Everyday Annoyances
  • Hazards