Tales from the Carer’s Coalface

First, a picture of the beagles. These dogs are lifesavers. My partner and I call them ‘nurse beagles’ because they alert to her grand mal seizures.

I am a carer for my partner. She suffers from severe epilepsy (among other things.) Most of the time, it manifests as petit mal seizures. She has these daily, several times a day. When she has them, my partner basically stops – most of the time, she drops whatever she is holding, and she pauses as if lost in stasis.

For example, if she was speaking, she would pause mid-sentence and continue immediately upon coming out of the seizure. They can last anywhere from thirty seconds to thirty minutes. Re-arranging life and living around this is relatively easy. As they are more common when she is tired, we tend to do daily tasks early in our ‘day.’ The longer absence seizures happen when she is relaxing or sitting down and reading, which makes it impossible for me to detect them until after the fact most of the time.

I want my partner to have independence. If I was constantly checking on her, it would be too intrusive, but I admit it is a balancing act.

Then there are the bad days. Today has been one of the worst we have had in years. At 0500 I was woken up by the beagles. Veida had woken to do something and had a grand mal seizure. I quickly got a pillow under her head. (I did not put anything in her mouth. If you find yourself helping someone who is seizing, do not put anything in their mouth. Ever. Best case, you get injured. Worst case, you will break their teeth. Move furniture away from them. Do not try to restrain them. You will get hurt if you try to restrain a seizing person.)

So, I checked her head for bumps and, finding none, bundled her back into bed. Due to the amnesia from the seizure, she does not know why she woke up

Then I dozed off. I was woken up again at 0830 by a dropped saucepan. I rushed out with a pillow in hand. I know grand mal seizures can cluster, and feared that this was happening. I was, unfortunately, correct. I quickly got the pillow under her head and moved a bench on wheels out of the way.

I then started to plan a trip to Accident & Emergency. As a carer, you have to be aware of patterns. Veida usually has 3-4 grand mal seizures in a year, commonly occurring over a month or a little more. 2 seizures in less than six hours is way off pattern. I needed to get advice.

As it turns out, there is nothing wrong with her according to all the tests. Hopefully, it stays that way.

But this is where I may vent a little. I have found it hard, even among other carers, to find people who understand the eggshells I will be walking on. The nerves I will have for the next two or three weeks will make much of my life harder. Because grand mal seizures strike from nowhere in our experience, I will spend that time being hypervigilant and alert to any aberrant sound.

People who have not experienced it have trouble understanding the strain this can cause a person. Maybe that is why I felt the need to post about it. There is a lack of support for carers out there. Always has been, and it feels like it is getting worse.



Training Pains Snippet 1

Marius stared out at his recruits in formation. One of the half-Fae shifted slightly, but he let that slide. Then a mage started nervously, triggering his power, encasing his fist in fire. A twitch from his eyebrow sent Zemenar down the row behind him, and a powerful blow to his ankle sent the man sprawling flat on his face.

He came up spitting dirt and curses. The fire around his fist expanded, and Marius roared, “Enough! You are supposed to be recruits! Evidently, you lack even the meager discipline to be called that lowly rank. If one of you is failing, you are all failing. The training you have been run through should have taught all but worms that obvious fact. It is your failure, individually and as a group, that you did not learn that yet!”

The mage hung his head and returned to formation. Somehow, Marius managed to lock eyes with everyone on the parade ground simultaneously.

“In a unit forming for a nation, you would be told your job is not to die for your nation but to make the other poor sod die for his! However, you have chosen to join a mercenary unit. We work for pay. We will survive jobs most army units would not be sent on by working as a team. I do not want a single man to die on any job. I want you all to survive and receive that pay. Why? Because training a replacement will cost more than I have already sunk into training YOU!”

Marius started pacing back and forth now, clearly agitated. “The only way all of us, all of YOU, will come back is if you work as a team. All of you need to know the abilities of every other being in this platoon. More, I need to be able to pair any two of you and send you on a task, have that task completed, and both back unharmed! Until I can guarantee that, you are all Worms, not Recruits. And as your failure is working together, I will instead start punishing you together.”

“Every infraction, from now, will result in the same punishment for everyone. And any of your instructors will be allowed to issue punishments from now on. That means Pavel, Zemenar, or David can all punish you. More, as he has slightly more experience than you, Wander Shrike is given the rank Cockroach, and the right to report infractions. He, from his past service and experience, understands that a unit must work together, even if he must join you in punishment.”

Good Manners and Bad Mojo Snippet 1

Chapter 1 – Fleeing a Fury

“I told you that was a bad idea,” I admonished my master, Sant Lar, a respected Sikh mystic. He had been teaching me how to break curses. Usually, my grandmother had cared less about this. However, between us, we had broken one of her jinxes, and she was pissed.

I had to admit that her affliction had been particularly unfair. Sure, the Mayor of Parramatta had been a slimy, oily fella. It was bad practice to let people curse every politician that fit such a description. If people like Sant allowed that practice to continue, there would be a collapse of parliaments and governance worldwide.

“I had not thought your family would be so angry. She would not look crosswise at me – the Rakshasa would take offense. I am their rightful prey, and she does not want to start a war.” Sant looked at me curiously, then asked, “Do Furies really think so little of family?”

I shrugged at first. The Furies were my family on my mother’s side, and I still felt betrayed by my father abandoning me. That affected my opinion of what family meant to most people.

I had to think carefully before answering my master’s question. “Family is important to them like it is to most. But rage is core to their nature. They come by their name honestly.” I was his apprentice, but he was needed in Sydney. If I gave my dear grandmother a moving target or even found someone to shield me from her, that would be the best solution. “I think I need to get outta the country, give her some time to cool down or find a new target,” I told my teacher, glumly.”

While I had a point about leaving the country. Sant had a point about family.

I had no idea how I would manage it. I had the tattoo on my hand as my identification on my passport. There was some sort of plan around that for precisely this eventuality. I was in a unique situation. If I needed to leave the country for any of a large number of reasons, commercial othersider would be the safest way for me.

Finding a reason to leave the country, now, that was not as easy. I was a registered curse breaker, but I needed a job or some business to be allowed into most nations. Shifters were the world travelers of the supernatural. For everyone else, it was harder. Or at least more complicated. Tourism was not considered a reason for the supernaturally talented to travel.

Music Monday

You know, one of the things I like about art is how far it can stretch.

For instance, it can stretch across cultures, as ‘Song of Woman’ by the Mongolian folk metal band, The Hu, with Lzzy Hale from Halestorm

It shows that music, unlike my particular artform, is in a universal language. That it can unite people across cultures. And that is a fantastic thing.

Paul’s Writing Update

Hi all. I survived the blood test vampires. And they didn’t take too much blood.

So I get to tell you what is in the works.

And let’s get started with those that are already finished.

‘My Mongrel Knight’ should be coming out in the next week in the first of the new cycle of Inanna’s Circle Game anthologies. Sometime in June or July (once I finish editing), the second book in the main series of The Pandora Battalion, ‘Operation Backblast,’ should be published.

Then there are the three works I have that are nearing completion. The first is Good Manners and Bad Mojo. This short story will be published in the second Pandemonium anthology from All Chaos Press. It explores one of The Mongrel’s past jobs. Thal Jardine fled Australia and sought the protection of his Great-Aunt in the US.

Next, (unsure of release order here, sorry) is First Flight, a prologue to a new series, Fang and Fury, that I have planned. This series will bring Isolde (from Breed Matters) and Zak (from Mother of Monsters and Supernatural Shock) together for investigations. Also, there is Training Pains, Book #2 from Good Deeds and Bad Company (cover adjacent). I hope to have this one out before the end of July.

Fear not for my other works. I have started a series of short adventures that will follow on from both Khazali’s Tale and the events in Mongrel’s Tooth and Consequences. I have also begun the third book from Breed Matters, ‘Fury’s Child.’ The third books in both Mother of Monsters and Good Deeds and Bad Company are outlined and just waiting for me to finish the three works above before I start them.

I want to avoid spreading myself too thin. I figure no-one wants to see daylight through my form.

So, onwards and snippets in your near future.


P.S. Here is the link for the second round of the Inanna’s Circle Game. I have not written anything this time. However many other fine stories have been told. You can find them HERE

Bad Health

Yeah, I’ve recently been to see my doctor. I go twice a year, originally to keep an eye on my cholesterol. Both sides of the family have problems with that bane to health. Recently it seems I have been seeing them to find out how fast my health is declining.

Don’t get me wrong, I know, like so many people, I need to get out and exercise more. It isn’t easy for any of us, I suspect. Motivation is not there. Like a lot of people (I think? I hope I’m not alone here) I am most effective living nocturnally. Then there are others who work with people half a world away. I also do that frequently. My editors and most of my collaborators are in the US so a nocturnal schedule actually helps me maintain contact with them.

This makes so much of life that little bit harder for us night owls. We deviate from the norm. Then there is my recent experience with my doctor.

Doctors. Should you trust their diagnosis? In a word, yes. Especially for the common things. Hell, I even found out I was a carrier for hemochromatosis because of a gut instinct of theirs. So do I trust my doctor’s diagnosis? Absolutely.

Do I trust their treatments? Not all the time, no. For example, I have high cholesterol. My current physician initially told me I need to become a vegetarian. I know from past experience, I become anemic within a month without 2-4 meals having red meat. (This clued her in to the gene carrier status mentioned above. All data is useful to a professional.)

As for statins, I am on the fence as to if it is useful. I only take it every other day, and it seems to reduce the time I can exercise if I take it the evening before I go for a long walk. (That sounds insane and feels insane. However, a quick search showed I am not the only one who finds this. I need to remember to talk to the doc about this next appointment.) Exercise is also vital for reducing cholesterol.

Like with most professionals, you need to trust your doctor. However, if there is something off about their advice, you need to inform them. It also does not help if when a patient fails to follow all parts of their advice. (Guilty. I really need to exercise more!)

Why am I even posting about this? Several reasons. I suspect rather than taking the current situation as an opportunity to reassess, many of you are doing what I was doing. Spinning in place and filled with uncertainty.

Instead, you could be taking this as an opportunity to look at things. Maybe not your physical health, nor your mental health. You could look at your creative impulses. You could (and many seem to be) reassess your diets and family life.

I’ll admit I am fortunate. The Human Malware has barely brushed Australia, which may or may not give me opportunities for reassessment unavailable to others. But I have been forced to look at everything to prevent myself from digging through the Earth’s crust. I was spinning like a dervish imitating a top at the beginning of the crisis.

There was becoming a risk of a new volcano appearing in Australia’s New England region.

As to the next release? Well, you will have to wait for my next post. Don’t bring out the pitchforks and light the torches yet. I promise I will get one out shortly. (By the end of the week, if the vampires don’t take too much blood for testing.)

In the meantime, you can look as “My Mongrel Knight,” A prompt inspired short story that is the fifth comment after this post on the Inanna’s Circle Game, HERE. You may as well read the other stories posted to the comments while you are at it.


And it is now Live!

Motherhood Forsaken is now live. You can purchase it Here!

Torn from her children. Burdened with a quest as payment.

Sarah has found the one being who has the power and resources to break her curse. The price for this supernatural’s aid is high. She is to be ripped from her children, so she can tackle a mission in a distant land. Even with her allies, it will be a leap into the unknown.

Yet her children and her friends feel the aid is worth it. Perhaps they can see what she cannot. That she needs to regain whatever portion of her life is left from before the curse destroyed her world.

This quest has problems of its own. Hampered by politics and veniality, this human woman must navigate her way through the world beyond the Veil. She must command the respect of Shifters unbound by any treaty, and ride rippling changes in the supernatural world to hope for success.

Can Sarah complete her quest and regather the remaining fragments of her life before the curse? Will she be able to resume being a mother to her children once this task is done?




Signing out, Paul C. Middleton


Feeling Sheepish

Right. Well. Huh.

That posting regular goal is harder than it looks.

I do have good news, however. Forsaken Motherhood is finished.

Done. Complete. Finito. And Social Combat, with Taki Drake, is getting bloody close as well.

I have also started a series of small action mil-fic that I will be releasing under ‘Battle Reports.’ Reporting the smaller actions of the Pandora Battalion, these should hopefully be a success. They are designed to be short and action-filled, with the ending connecting to the main storyline. Many will be released initially in All Chaos Press anthologies, but I plan on putting several of them in collections, and each collection will have at least one new Battle Report.
Then there is the re-release of the main Pandora Battalion stories as stand-alones.

Basically, I lost track of time between smoke, everything that is happening at home, and everything that is happening with my writing.

If you can’t wait for another Mongrelverse hit, Reforged in Fire, the third Suddenly Supernatural short, is in Turn The Page

And if you are new to the #Mongrelverse, you might want to take a look at Cursed Mother now, so you are all caught up when Motherhood Forsaken releases!

It is good to be back!

Hey-ho, everyone!

So happy to be back among you, the functioning human beings! After a month of enforced smoke inhalation and general ill-health, I’ve had a great week. Well, a great week for someone who could barely write for a month.

6000 words in the last five days (yes!!!) A short story close to finished! (Reforged in Fire, Suddenly Supernatural #3, should be out by the end of the month. #2, Future Forward, Visions Past should be out before Christmas/Yuletide/Solstice/Hanukah/Kwanza.)

So you should be receiving a fresh new happy snippet next week and the week after and probably the week after that!

As for Suddenly Supernatural #1? A Simple Trip can be found in the Prime Fantasy II Anthology, which was published a long time ago on a continent near you. Go catch up if you have not read it yet!