One Step at a Time

I’m still getting used to my “new” life, but it’s getting better. I’m one big step closer to getting the right diagnosis after seeing a specialist at the beginning of February (next appointment is at the beginning of March), and I’m trying to find new ways to be productive. I started a Patreon page which I update regularly about snippets from my life with (suspected) fibro, and I’m trying to get back into writing. I actually started my new time-traveller series, but I’ll have to do some more research since I’d like it to be as historically accurate as possible (apart from the fact that my gnomes will travel there, but hey, literary freedom and all that).

First things first, though: Tomorrow’s my exam for university, the one about the Anatolian languages, so I’ve been studying and revising for that.

All three of the A Rogue’s Tale books have been republished as ebooks on Amazon now as well, and I’m finally taking to Twitter. I actually followed a lot of archeological accounts so my Twitter feed is full of amazing photos and interesting facts now.

I’ve also finished the course about Ancient Egypt and its Civilization, and have started my next Coursera course (with a few more lined up to start next week). I love learning new things, and while I’m struggling with attendance at my university at the moment, and still have a lot of times when focusing on anything is difficult, online learning allows me to take it slow while still broadening my horizon.

Hubby is a big source of support for me in this transition time from living a “normal” life to living life with a chronic illness, as are my friends.

So yeah, baby steps for me, but at least I’m walking forward.

Writing for Children

My fellow writer Tiger Herbert was so kind to invite me to write a guest post for his blog, about any writing-related topic, so I heeded the advice we so often hear and wrote about what I know. My guest post “Writing for Children” can be found here.

So hop on over, and maybe leave me a comment if you have further questions (or simply want to tell me how much you liked my guest post 😉 ).

Re-Release of The Lost Diadem

 

After the small publisher had to close its doors due to health reasons before my series was released, I’m happy to announce that all three books will be re-released by me, freshly edited (we were already through with the edits–only minor changes were made), starting–of course–with book one, The Lost Diadem. Trouble in the Mage Guild (part II) and Pirates, Pirates! (part III) will follow soon.

So what is the A Rogue’s Tale series about?

It’s a mystery series for children and YA aged 8 and up, set in a fantasy world with gods and magic. The two main characters Govin and Tayla strike an unusual friendship (a city guard in training, and a street urchin) and solve mysteries together. Each book contains a stand-alone story in chapterbook format, fast-paced and story-driven.

Where can I get it?

Glad you asked. For the time being, the books are only available on Amazon, and only as ebooks. I will explore paperback format as well as more online bookstores in the future once things have returned more to normal for me.

Update

I know I’ve been very quiet. I won’t apologise for it since my life was basically turned upside-down at the beginning of this year.

You may remember my other posts about being chronically ill. Well, I finally had to admit that my pain and fatigue, and the sleep problems, and yes, even problems focusing and concentrating, won’t go away if I ignore them, if I try to push myself through rough days, or if I just have enough time to rest.

I had three weeks without work or university. Three weeks to rest, to regain my strength. I was motivated. I was looking forward to university and work again.

Cue one night without finding any sleep, and everything going downhill from there. Pain flaring up, exhaustion and concentration problems spiking, and trouble sleeping for the next couple days as well (even though I was/am exhausted). I’ve always been a fighter, going to work sick, pushing through pain, somehow, even though in the past few months, I’ve come home on more than one occasion braking down crying in the elevator up to my flat when I was finally able to let go of that mask of “I’m fine”. But now I had to stop and finally admit that no, my chronic problems won’t go away if I keep ignoring them, on the contrary. They seem to take more and more control of my life.

It’s been a very hard decision, one that cost me lots of tears, to give up teaching for the time being. I realised that I finally need to push to get a diagnosis and get my problems treated if I ever want to have any kind of semblance of a normal life again.

My GP listened to me and then gave me a referral to a specialist to have the suspected diagnosis fibormyalgia checked out further. He also sent me home without anything to deal with the problems I’m having at the moment, maybe because he didn’t know how to treat me.

I’m still waiting to hear back with an appointment from the specialist, after spending days researching doctors who have any kind of experience with fibro since I don’t want to end up with someone who doesn’t believe it’s “a real illness”.

I’ve also had to deal with the very idea of having a chronic pain issue, and that many of the other things I’m experiencing on and off are not normal, but probably part of this illness, or of some other chronic condition. I mean, yes, I’ve known that I’ve had these issues, in varying degrees, for years and years, but somehow if you don’t say it out loud, you don’t have a chronic illness. You dismiss it because doctors don’t find anything wrong with you, you start doubting yourself, you may even start believing that this is kind of normal and you’re just being whiny.

So yeah, my body forced me to accept the fact that I can’t push my body to fit my life and my dreams, but that instead, I need to fit my life and my dreams around my body and abilities. And that’s hard to accept. I’ve been uprooted and I’m still kind of floating around while I try to come to terms with this realisation, while I try to finally get a diagnosis, and while I try to get the treatment I deserve and need in order to feel better.

In order to not drown in self-pity completely, I’m not quitting my university degree (a HUGE shout-out to my professors who are willing to work with me to somehow see me through), and I’ve started writing again (I need some kind of income, after all, and I can’t yet say when I’ll be able to return to teaching, and how much I’ll be able to teach then).

Still, it’s sometimes hard to shut down the voices inside telling me that I’m a lazy fraud, that I’m not really sick because I don’t have a final diagnosis to proof it, that I’m just making it up. *sigh* I guess this will be a long road I’m on, and not one I chose for myself.

Building an Income outside of Teaching

I love teaching English as a foreign language. I really do. However, being a freelancer, I face the risk of cancelled courses if not enough students enroll, which has happened with three out of six evening courses this past trimester (with the other three running below the minimum number of students out of goodwill). The four evening courses starting in mid-January are still way below the number of students needed as well. In short, it doesn’t exactly look rosy for freelance EFL teachers here in Berlin at the moment.

What that means for me (and my colleagues) is this: We block time slots for planned courses (and we only have a limited amount of time we can block, plus if we block too much time and–miracle!–all courses run, we may very well burn out because it’s too much) and then are left with more free time and less money if courses are cancelled, usually without the chance to fill the time slots at such short notice (since a lot of courses are cancelled after the first class, or only a day or two before they should have started).

We only get paid for the hours we actually teach (which is okay with me), not for all the additional time it takes us to prepare classes, correct written assignments (and in the case of some courses, grade them), go to teacher training workshops, do all the administrative stuff. In order to determine actual work hours for possible additional payment (part of health and pension insurance premiums), the Land Berlin calculates with double the time we actually teach. To put this into perspective: According to them, a full-time job with an average of 40 hours per week would be about 27 class hours of teaching (à 45 minutes each). Currently, my plan for the upcoming trimester has between 20 and 27 class hours, and one week of 35 hours (a week-long intensive class). That’s besides going to university for currently 12 class hours each week (plus preparation and homework) for part of the upcoming trimester.

So you see, I can’t possibly plan even more time slots for teaching, so if most or all of my evening classes are cancelled, it leaves me with only a fraction of the income I’m planning with. I either need more students, or a second (passive) income to counterbalance the risk.

And that’s why I started to upload designs to Redbubble for T-shirts, coffee mugs, notebooks and stuff. I will add to them as inspiration strikes me, so maybe check back every now and then.

I also have my children’s books about Miro the Dragon up on Amazon (print and ebook). The first book is available in German, English, or Mandarin Chinese, and the second book is available in German.

Anyway, it would mean the world to me if you took the time to check out my stuff. Thanks for your support!

Transgender Pharao?

So I’m currently taking a Coursera class about Ancient Egypt, and in the last video I watched, the professor talked about the pharao Hatshepsut, who was born a woman but referred to herself/himself as “king” and “he”, and wore male clothes. To me, this sounds like maybe one of the earliest documented openly transgender people, and in a society nonetheless that apparently frowned upon it. Her/His name was erased from lists of pharaos, and even her/his image was erased, which is interpreted as a sign of deep disapproval, and of trying to make future generations forget her/him.

I think her/his name should be remembered, not forgotten. Kudos, Hatshepsut! Kudos for your bravery facing disapproval from your society and your priests.

Preview 2017

So after my review of 2016 was tongue-in-cheek, this preview will be about my plans for the new year.

As some of you may know, my interest for dead/ancient languages was recently sparked (after years of snubbing them because no one spoke them anymore) thanks to my historical linguistics minor at university. I’m currently enrolled in a class about Hittite, a class about the Anatolian language family, and a two-semester class about Sanskrit, as well as a class about one of the bigger research topics the laryngeal theory (if you have no clue what I’m talking about, I don’t blame you–just bear with me and hang on).

As you may also know, my 30th birthday is getting closer (October 2017, if you must know), and I still have this promise I gave myself years ago: to be able to speak at least ten languages by the time I turn 30. About that: I think I’ll modify it a bit and make it “to be able to understand/read in at least ten languages by the time I turn 30” because that seems to be more accessible given the fact that I lost a lot of fluency in those languages I haven’t spoken for years but am still able to read in them fairly well (thanks to a good understanding of grammar, and good deduction skills for unknown/forgotten vocabulary).

Currently, I’m able to read fluently in German and English, and still fairly well in French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch (though especially Spanish and Italian need some refreshing, and Dutch contains a lot of guesswork based on my German and English vocabulary). So that’s six languages down, four to go.

As I said earlier, I’m currently learning Sanskrit (the final exam on that course will be before my birthday, so if I pass, I’ll count Sanskrit in) as well as some Hittite, Luwian, and some basics of other Anatolian languages. I’m not yet sure whether it will be enough to justify counting those languages in; I’ll probably play it by ear by the time I finish the classes and see how comfortable I feel reading unknown texts (if I’ll be able to decipher them at all).

I’m back trying to learn Chinese (Mandarin) for the umpteenth time (at some point, those pesky words and characters have to stick, right?), and I want to refresh and improve the Turkish I learnt at university during my first two semesters.

On top of that, there are a few languages I’m interested in, one of them being Low German (I don’t know whether its official status is that of a language or that of a dialect, but I’ll count it as a language since there are dialectal variants within Low German as well), which I already understand to some extent thanks to my knowledge in German and Dutch.

Besides languages, I want to learn more about the peoples and cultures in Asia minor and the bordering regions (including ancient Egypt, on which I’ve just started a Coursera course), and about Chinese culture.

I’m on track to finishing my B.A. this summer, and will probably enroll in another degree starting this fall, although I haven’t yet completely decided which one it will be, and how to go about it with my work and all (another degree full-time while also working full-time is utopian and not going to happen if I want to stay sane).

Speaking about working, I want to continue working as an English teacher (EFL) teaching adults for local community colleges, and I want to improve my knowledge on teaching methods and materials, as well as work on some of my own materials.

And last but not least, I want to continue working on my conlang Kviglivok, which was the topic of my BA thesis, and which is still lacking a good basic vocabulary.

I may or may not actually get around to writing fiction again (still haven’t got my motivation and passion for it back since my burn-out, and almost non-existant sales of my published books don’t really help) but I know better than to pressure myself again.

If you actually hung on till here, thanks a lot. I know it’s a long post, probably full of rambling and uninteresting stuff, but hey, now it’s your turn: Let me hear your plans for 2017 and I promise to read them to the end as well if you post them in the comments.