It seems as though this blog is becoming nothing more than a handful of updates proclaiming that the author (me) is still around and kicking. But it’s true. I’m still here, Dear Reader.

The thing is, life has been so chaotic since August, I haven’t really had much to say. The house build has been the least stressful thing to happen to me and my family these past few months, and that’s saying something. I would go into more detail here, but much of what’s happened isn’t my story to tell. Luckily, I am fortunate to have a wonderful support network both on and offline. I’m checking in with my therapist twice a month and trying to do all the little self care things I love to keep stress and anxiety levels down as much as possible. Still, it’s been rough.

It’s November 28, which means National Novel Writing Month is about to end. I managed to “win” with four days to spare, and I might write more before the month closes on Friday. However, this particular novel has proven difficult to write. It’s the sequel to The Golden Orb, and as I started writing it, I realized I hadn’t done as much world building for the first novel than I had originally thought. I’m essentially writing two books in one with this sequel. The past few weeks were a slog to get in the average daily word count (on top of being sick with a sinus infection), so I was really happy on Monday when everything suddenly clicked, and I saw how the story should get to the end. The last 300 words I wrote are notes to myself on how to move forward. Once I feel up to it, I’ll go back and finish the novel properly.

On top of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been writing more short stories and submitting them to various science fiction/fantasy markets. The rejections have been piling up, but that’s okay. It means people are seeing my work, and at least a few of them have had very nice things to say. One even told me they would like to see more of my writing when they’re editing again in the future. That’s a rejection I’ll take any day of the week. If my words can touch someone in such a way that they’d like to read more, then I feel I’ve done my job as a writer, even if whatever I wrote will never be read by anyone else.

Apart from writing, I’ve been doing the daily mom thing and making sure my boys are getting to school and various activities. We enjoyed watching our older son play Bombur in a local kids’ theater production of “The Hobbit”. I believe he’s caught the acting bug, which is fine with us. He’s found something he likes to do and that he’s good at at twelve years old, which means maybe his teenage years won’t be so turbulent as some kids’ seem to be. We’ll see.

So, that’s all I have for now. I’m writing. I’m mom-ing and wife-ing. Occasionally, I get out and enjoy myself, but it’s been tough lately. I do want to say, Dear Reader, that if someone in your life is dealing with a chronic illness — whether it’s physical or mental — just know there is support out there for them and you. And if you or a loved one needs it, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help at 1-800-273-8255. Seek help. Find hope.

You’re not alone.

Thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a writer and stay at home mom who lives in a southern Indiana woods with her spouse, kids, and one clingy dog. In the Before Times (and sometimes even now), she could/can be found helping out with her kids' school, catching up on her toppling TBR pile, playing games with her friends, hanging out at virtual conventions, crying over period dramas, or sewing yet another cosplay. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," was the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards. She writes short speculative fiction and poetry that can be found at various markets and here on her blog.

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