Thursday, 3 November 2016


Hello, Dear Readers - happy Thursday. I hope everyone's having a good week so far?

Today's big news is that as of right now the new SHADOWS ON THE MOON with extra content is officially on sale - so if you've always wanted to know what happens after the end of the story... get in there because this is your chance. And BAREFOOT ON THE WIND has not only been recommended on this amazing list of Spooky Reads For Autumn and Winter Nights from BookTrust, but shortlisted for the Highgate Wood School Book Award (in two different categories, no less) which is sweet and humbling at the same time.

Now, before I do anything else, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who left comments, emailed, facebooked or tweeted me with mesages of support after my news about Finn. Each message meant something to me, and it did - and does - help.

With that in mind, I decided to let you all know that I eventually had to veto the idea of chemo for Finn. I was really desperate to try it - it's carefully calibrated to cause minimal side effects and might have offered Finn between another six months to a year of life. But then the vet brought up an issue which isn't negotiable - the treatment itself takes six months, during which time it's a rule that owners must 'avoid direct contact' with their pet, due to the toxic nature of the drugs involved. Which means: no stroking or cuddles, no letting them up on the furniture with you or to sleep on the bed, no kisses on the snout, no absentmindedly patting their ears when they lie with their head on your knee while you read. No bathing them or grooming them, even, unless you can do it with gloves on. 

Finn has literally never in his entire life been treated that way. Not when he somehow managed to roll in fox droppings three times in one day. Not even when he stayed with my mum for the first time and chewed the ears off her limited edition Steiff Teddy Bear. He sulks when strangers on the street don't stop to give him fuss. If I suddenly cut off 90% of physical contact with him, he can't be expected to understand why it's happening, and I honestly believe it would break his heart. It would definitely break mine. I can't bear the thought of turning away and refusing to give him the love and physical affection he'd desperately need during a period when he would feel very ill and anxious. I do want him with me as long as possible - but only if he's happy and feels safe and loved.

So instead, he's on strong steroids, which will help to manage his symptoms for now, and some painkillers. He's perked up considerably, is enjoying short walks again, and is generally waggy and bright-eyed, which is what I want his last weeks or months to be like. It's his favourite season, and when I was able to watch him snuffling cheerfully through the fallen leaves, and then rolling around on the kitchen floor while I was drying him with a warm towel (another of his favourite things), I knew I'd made the right choice. The vet says that there's no way, with this course of treatment, to know how long it will work. So I just have to keep a close eye on him and make sure his comfort is my top priority.

OK, now that's out of the way - another update, this one on NaNoWriMo. As many of you know from the blog and twitter, I was gearing up for a massive NaNo effort this year and basically wanted to use it to both get my mind off worrying about Finn AND finish my current project if possible.

But the NaNo-Curse (which in previous years took the form of the NaNo-Virus and the NaNo-Slipped-Disc) struck again on Tuesday when I woke up in the middle of the night with a blinding migraine. The migraine didn't begin to ease up until late on Tuesday, and I still had a horrible headache, funny vision, dizziness and the ever-delightful nausea when I woke up yesterday morning (and everytime I started thinking about the words I SHOULD have been writing, my blood pressure went up and my eyeball responded with the kind of warning throb that made me strongly suspect it might just explode if I pushed the issue).

I'm feeling a lot better now, but still fragile and light sensitive, which means that squinting at either a backlit screen or even my own crabbed handwriting in a notebook for hours at a time isn't going to be a good idea for another day or two. And that's pretty much put the kibosh on all my good intentions.

Realistically, I know that I could still catch up if I went Hell for leather and really pushed myself over the next week. But I also know that my migraines tend to increase in frequency and severity when I'm stressed out - and I'm pretty stressed out even before bringing NaNo into things. I don't really want to turn National Novel Writing Month into Zolah Tortures Herself And Has No Fun Month.

HOWEVER. I was already being a NaNo Rebel, what with working on a WIP rather than a completely fresh manuscript. So even if I can't get to the official finish-line of 50,000 in November, I figure I can still be a part of NaNo and just try to write as much as possible this month.

I'm going to begin afresh this weekend - and my new plan is to try something a bit different for me, and write non-linearly. I'll pick any scenes from my synopsis that strongly appeal to me (without regard to where they come in the plot) start wherever I want to and finish when I run out of things to write. If I end up with a whole bunch of random scenes that need arranging into order and stitching into a whole, fine. If I end up getting carried away and writing from the middle to the end, fine. If I end up with a bit of a middle, part of an end, and some other random chapters that I need to sort out, also fine. Just as long as I end up with a nice fat chunk of words by December 1st.

I know some of you guys were tempted into NaNo this year - how are things going for you so far? Let me know in the comments. I'll update you again next week and we can celebrate or commiserate as appropriate. Take care, and read you later folks.


Rachel Balcombe said...

Oh gosh, you are having a rough time of it! I'm glad Finn's feeling better for now.

Your NaNo plan sounds exciting! I have, as of RIGHT NOW and according to my slightly dodge word count app, made it to 4600 on the way to work this morning, so not doing too badly. I'm writing on my phone, which is weird but also great because I can only see the last couple of sentences at a time so I can't get stuck in the Editing Spiral of Doom.

Zoë Marriott said...

Rachel: Thanks, hun. I'm glad that you're ploughing ahead with your WIP. When I had an old word processer (lo, these many distant ages ago) you could only see the line you were working on and one on either side, and I admit, it did seem to keep me working pretty fast. Keep to it! You can do it! Rah, rah!

Barker and Jones Staff said...

HI, Zoe. I'm so sorry to hear about's an awful decision to make, but it sounds like you're doing the best thing. I recently put my cat down, and it's a horrible thing to do but it's what we have to, sometimes. I hope you get several months more with Finn before you have to make any other decisions.

I friended you on Nano...wildforce. I'm hovering about a day ahead at the moment, so hopefully I can keep that up!

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, B&JS :) Good luck with the rest of NaNo, too - keep up the good work! I'll go and buddy-list you back on the site, even if I feel a bit guilty being on there atm...

Krispy said...

HUGSSSSS to you and Finn. It sounds like you made the right choice. You want him and you to have the best time together.

Hope the writing gods smile upon you this weekend!

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Krispy. Finn will very much appreciate that hug. May the writing gods also smile on you x

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