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I'm not going to lie, life has been rough on multiple fronts lately. But I'm immensely grateful to have some wonderful writing news to share. Monday afternoon I received notification from the Canada Council for the Arts that my young adult WIP has been approved for a grant. On that same day I also received a cheque from the Ontario Arts Council Writers' Reserve program for the same project.

I couldn't feel more grateful and elated to have this support and vote of confidence. If there were a hilltop handy I'd probably be singing from the top of it like Julie Andrews. This happy news comes at a time when I sorely need it. I can't thank the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council enough. I'm also intensely thankful to live in a country that values and supports the Arts with grants like these. They make a very real and tangible difference to Canadian artists.

I'm not American but globally I think we all feel we have a stake in this election and so many of usboth inside the United States and outhave watched with unease and disgust as Donald Trump has stoked the flames of hate and flaunted his ineptitude, ignorance and boorishness like they're things to be proud of. They're not.

I completely agree with Bill Maher that this election is a referendum on decency. I am very nervous today. I have no formal vote, but I am a big believer in decency.

It’s the kind of dreary rainy day where everything looks gray, and feels cold and slow. The kind of day where you don’t have much energy, but force yourself to march along regardless. According to the local forecast we’ll have four days in a row like this before we break free of the pattern on Monday. With little temptation to go outside by all rights this should be a great day for writing—and I’m trying, but like everything else today, my writing is gray and slow.
So I’ve designated the next little while as break time, or update time. Not long ago I blogged about releasing paperback copies of Yesterday and its sequel Tomorrow together as one book. Those copies are currently available at Amazon.com and other various Amazon outlets, as well as Barnes and Noble. I also hope to have the duology ready for ebook formats in a couple of weeks. In the meantime there's a Goodreads giveaway for Yesterday & Tomorrow under way.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Yesterday & Tomorrow by C.K. Kelly Martin

Yesterday & Tomorrow

by C.K. Kelly Martin

Giveaway ends October 14, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Draw date is October 14th and the contest is open to residents of Canada and the United States. I have my own copy for safe keeping and I have to say it looks pretty spiffy. Weighing in at 516 pages and 170,000 words it's a whole lot of book!

But Yesterday and Tomorrow aren't my only books to get new looks. A couple of weeks ago I also redesigned the cover for Come See About Me and am quite pleased with the new approach. The ebook versions share the same new cover design, and if you order a paperback, the front and back cover will appear like this: 

If today was as pleasant a day in Oakville as we see pictured on this cover, I probably wouldn't be typing this update now!
Being back in Ireland I always feel as though I'm visiting my previous self. Of course, in some ways our past selves are always with us. I'm still a twelve year old with braces, a film student in love with screwball comedies, a newly married twenty-eight-year-old, and a thirty-seven-year-old who landed her first book deal.
–particularly Dublin - I always feel as though I'm visiting my previous self. It's an interesting feeling. Every version of ourselves is still with us, every day, in some way, of course. I'm still a twelve-year-old with braces, a film student in love with screwball comedies, a newly married person of twenty-eight, and the thirty-seven-year-old who landed her first book deal. 

But in Dublin it's different. I almost feel as if I could catch sight of my former self ambling past on Dame Street wearing Levis and Doc Martens, and with a lion's mane of wavy hair. As though the touch of my soles on Dublin city streets year after year has solidified various ghost versions of myself. It beams the visions back to me as I round the corner onto Grafton Street, stand on the cobblestones in the Trinity College grounds, or when the light catches my eyes at certain magic angles while waiting to flag down a bus.

When people talk about love at first sight usually they mean with a person, but I had that with Dublin. Even when it drove me crazy in the worst ways, I never stopped loving it too.

I first landed in Dublin in 1990. Then I came back and came back and came back and stayed for years. Left for Canada but came back to Dublin to visit. Came back, came back, came back.

Every time it knows me. It never forgets. We have some special thing going, Dublin and me. I've written about it on the blog before and I've written about it in the book closest to my heart. I hope someday you'll get to read it. In the meantime, here are some of the things I saw while in Ireland this August.

Moody sky on Dame Street, Dublin
Dun Laoghaire pier, Saturday evening, County Dublin
Dun Laoghaire pier, County Dublin
GPO, O'Connell Street, Dublin
Grafton Street, Dublin
Kilkenny Castle grounds, August 24
Me in the middle of  charming pedestrian Kieran Street, Kilkenny
Picturesque downtown Kilkenny
Lovely Kilkenny, by the river
Homemade soup from the tea room in Kilkenny castle
If you go to Kilkenny castle don't miss the tea room - the dessert counter is pure amazing.
Love that someone gave Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott a rose! Harry Street, Dublin
Muckross House, Killarney National park
In front of the Hobbit-themed pub, downtown Killarney, bundled up for the rain
Stunning Killarney National park in the rain and mist
Downtown Killarney
Pint of Killarney in Killarney
This was the scene in Henry Street, Dublin last week. So sad to see all of the Republic of Ireland's HMV stores closing. Closest one you can find is now in Belfast, the sole HMV left on the island.
Inch Beach, Kerry. Wild weather day. Could hardly turn to face the water because of the sand gusting into your mouth. Stunning beach. Saw it once back in 98 in the sun and was in awe. But this wasn't the right day for it. Having said that, was impressed with the kite surfers out there, flipping into the air and flying.
Torc waterfall, Killarney National park
Tipperary Bridge
Happy to get some of our dirty clothes out of our suitcases and onto the line at my mother-in-law's house
The place I seriously started writing - my in-law's roomy back garden shed where we lived for several months before leaving for Canada. The location also figures largely in my YA currently out on submission.
Stray cat living in my mother in law's backyard we were all feeding. It boldly tried to get into the house one day and after being chased out and went back to calmly basking in the Irish sun.
Cabinteely Park, County Dublin

I've been waiting a long time to finally, finally be able to package my sci-fi YA Yesterday and its sequel, Tomorrow, together but that's in the works right now. The book cover and interior are all ready to go and when I'm back from vacation at the end of the month I'll be putting together a Goodreads fall giveaway. If you've already read Yesterday and want to know what happens to Freya and Garren afterwards, you can of course simply order a copy of Tomorrow. But if you happen to want the whole story all in one shot, this is it! 516 pages and a whopping 170,000 words.

And if you have no idea what I'm even talking about, here are the blurb and book trailers to clue you in:

Yesterday: The future’s fast collapsing. In the United North America (U.N.A) of 2063 sixteen-year-old Freya’s losing her brother to a plague that threatens to bury a world already crippled by nightmarish climate change, terrorism, mass global migration and severe unemployment. But when Freya wakes up seventy-eight years earlier – the dystopian future entirely swept from her mind – her life is one of high school cliques and crushes, new wave music and television repeats. Until she meets a boy (Garren) she’s sure she knows yet has never met. Suddenly nothing about her life feels right. Soon Freya and Garren are on the run from people they believed they could trust, struggling to uncover the truth about their lives and fighting for their very survival.

Tomorrow: The sci-fi adventure that began with Yesterday continues with an eco-thriller where no one is safe. The future's reach is long.

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog entry about the science and technology behind Yesterday and Tomorrow—stuff that inspired  my vision of the United North America of 2063 (hint: nanomedicine and Kiva) you might find interesting if you're curious about the books too.

Last but not least I can't talk about these two books without mentioning how 80s infused they are. A sci-fi book about the future set in the 80s, uh-huh. If that sounds cool to you, and if you have BIG 80s love like I do and still get chills listening to Space Age Love Song, know all the words to Talk Talk's It's My Life and 99 Red Balloons (yeah, even Nena's original German version), this book might be your kind of thing. But don't take my word for it, here's a snippet from the Kirkus review of Yesterday:

"A vivid infusion of 1980s culture gives this near-future dystopia an offbeat, Philip K. Dick aura...The cultural homage is nostalgic fun, from Care Bears to MacGyver. But for delivering that uniquely ’80s flavor, nothing beats music. Fans of the Smiths, Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti—this one’s for you."

It looks like I need to do some dusting around here. Yep, it’s been a long time since I posted to this space. Mostly I’ve been saving up the words for my fiction writing. In recent months that means work on my young adult horror novel. But for the most part that’s not what I’m going to talk about here today. The subject I want to get into is the other thing that’s been eating up a good chunk of my time on a daily basis—the health problems that originated almost three years ago and became markedly more severe in April, 2014. If you’re interested—and particularly if you’re suffering from what medical professionals are telling you is plantar fasciitis but that won’t budge after years of severe pain—you can read some background on my feet/health problems here: The Pain of Standing Still.

Since the writing of that fall 2015 post my diagnosis is still the same—idiopathic polyneuropathy that’s causing numbness, pain, tingling and other weird sensations in my feet AS WELL AS something mysterious and as yet unidentified that the three neurologists I've seen swear isn’t caused by neuropathy but which has been creating a sensation of constant tightness and weakness in my legs, mainly below my knees. The results of these multiple issues are as follows: because I can’t feel my feet properly, I tend to stumble over them, particularly the right one. My feet hurt to a certain extent all the time but stiffen to an incredible degree if I’ve been off them for more than half an hour to forty minutes, and then stand. The odd tightness near the back of my legs which makes walking feel exceptionally weird and tiring also worsens once I’m off them and then stand again. Unfortunately, remaining on my feet for long periods isn’t a solution either because after a fairly short period walking or standing results in even worse pain.

All of this means I have become a Jack in the Box, constantly popping up!

Topical magnesium and daily Vitamin B Complex pills seem to have greatly reduced the painful foot and leg spasms that were waking me in the middle of the night. But as for the rest of my issues, unfortunately I don’t have solutions—I definitely don’t want to fill the hardcore prescriptions I’ve been written for Gabapentin and Lyrica which would only mask my symptoms, and judging by the list of side effects posted at the People's Pharmacy potentially create more problems than they cure.

So if I don’t have answers, why am I writing this post? Basically, SHOES. If you're having problems with foot pain, whether due to plantar fasciitis, neuropathy or another condition, it's enormously important that you find supportive footwear that helps take the sting, ache and electric zing out of walking. Some foot-pain sufferers swear by New Balance running shoes, others by Oofos recovery sandals, or Vionic Orthaheels, or many other brands.

What has worked best for me—the only reason I’ve been able to stay on my feet as much as I have, limited as this is, are Z-Coils. They reduce impact by fifty percent because of their unusual coil heel and as a result have helped me stay mobile where orthotics failed miserably (even though they were designed by a professional C-ped and revamped on four separate occasions). Z-Coils aren't the answer for everyone. No such single answer exists. They aren't cheap either, but they have definitely cut my pain and elongated the amount of time I can spend on my feet.

About a month ago, a poster on a Foot Pain message board I visit put Adidas Tubulars on my radar. I picked up a pair on sale and personally have found them very comfortable too. As you can see below, they also have a very unique heel which is quite good at absorbing impact.

I'm going for a back MRI in late September and have recently started acupuncture. I'm still fighting for my health, still trying to pin down exactly what's happening in my body, and in the meantime am still looking for helpful tools (like good shoes!) to help too. I hope if you're dealing with mysterious health problems that you keep fighting and searching for answers also. And, more than anything, I hope you feel better in the future than you do today!
Now, for the people with no health concerns, and no sore feet who have made it this far into the post, here are the first two paragraphs of my creepy horror novel.

I don’t do this anymore. I don’t cut left onto Bridge Road and follow it past Holy Trinity High School where the trees are shuddering together in the wind, a sign proclaiming “WELCOME BACK STAFF AND STUDENTS” squatting malevolently in front of them. I don’t swing a right into Newtown Creek, one of the more exclusive areas of Tealing, tapping my fingers impatiently against the wheel as I cruise by grass as green as a golf course but as stern and precise as a marine’s crewcut. My heart isn’t thumping erratically, like a kid making sure his feet don’t hang over the bed so the thing that lives underneath won’t grab them, while houses with porches only slightly smaller than the apartment I lived in four years ago flash by my windows.  It’s not happening. I told myself I was finished with this last time.

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