Cyborg report ... activation

This morning at 9:00 a.m., we activated my implant and programed my processor. Things are interesting right now. I think my brain has forgotten how certain noises are supposed to sound, so it's filling in the blanks with a ringing sound very similar to tinnitus. According to my audiologist, this is not unusual. Some people report hearing a wah-wah sound, others hear a very mechanical sound.

Me ... I get ringing.

For example, the dial tone on my phone sounds like an episode of severe tinnitus. If I listen hard, I can distinguish the buzzing of the dial tone from the ringing noise. Initially, typing gave me little spurts of ringing that is now turning into clicks. Speech is still difficult, because voices come with that annoying ringing.

Except for the ringing, people sound natural to me and so does music. I watched Flamenco, Flamenco on Netflix and I can hear the clapping and the softer taps ... guitars and pianos ... fingers snapping ... a woman's voice ... a sigh.

I heard my cat cry. There is a humming sound in my house ... maybe the refrigerator ... I'll figure it out.

I went for a walk on our nearby walking trail. I was reminded of Mark Lawrence talking about a young boy, who had just had his implant activated. He ran down the hospital halls, making noise to hear the sounds he could make. That was me on my walk today.

Today I heard leaves rustling in the wind, and the wind roaring through the trees. I heard the swish and crunch of leaves underfoot ... water rushing over stones ... leaves ... footsteps on the soft earth ... from somewhere nearby, a tractor ... the wind, rustling through the trees.

And ringing ... although I think the ringing was the sound of birds ... I can't remember how birds sound, but I might someday soon.

Cyborg report ... week 4: Movies watched

Cyborg report week 4: Watching movies, reading, and recuperating has been the name of the game, although I have once more begun writing in something akin to my old routine. In between, I have spent a great deal of time catching up on movies and various series that I've missed over the last year. Today's post will cover the movies, so here are a few that I've watched:

KURONEKO (Kaneto Shindo): In war-torn Japan, a mother and daughter-in-law are murdered by marauding samurai. They swear their souls to the spirits so they can have the power to return as ghosts and take their vengeance on all samurai--that is until the daughter-in-law's husband returns as a samurai. Rather than murder him, the daughter-in-law gives her soul to the spirits and descends into Hell for a chance to love her husband one more time.

Like Kurosawa, Shindo is the master of mood with gorgeously shot scenes and entire sequences where the emotion is conveyed without a word being spoken. My favorite scenes were when the daughter-in-law seduces the samurai in order to murder them. While she makes love to the men, the mother dances in the shadows. During the killing of random samurai, the mother's movements are sharp and decisive, her gaze is hard. But when the daughter-in-law seduces her son again, the mother's movements are sad and slow. It is a magnificent performance by Nobuko Otowa.

ONIBABA (Kaneto Shindo): More war-torn Japan for you, but where KURONEKO was a ghost story, ONIBABA is true horror. The film is set within wind-swept marshes in a remote location, where a mother and her daughter-in-law murder lost samurai for their armor. The pair dump the corpses down a deep, dark hole, and then sell the armor for grain. The story takes off when a bedraggled neighbor returns from the war and tells the daughter-in-law that her husband is dead. The neighbor then seduces the daughter, drawing her away from her mother-in-law, who cannot survive without the girl's help.

When people discuss horror, they rarely use the word lyrical, but I've found some of the most evocative and memorable horror has combined the power of poetry with dark symbolism. Shindo uses the rustling reeds to evoke everything from dread to erotica, and the emotional entanglement of the characters tightens like a noose in every scene. The supernatural aspects don't show up until late in the film, and rather than detract from the story, the ill-gotten demon mask is made more horrific by the mother's descent into madness.

NIGHT AND FOG (Alain Resnais): A thirty minute documentary, which was filmed ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, NIGHT AND FOG combines images from the overgrown camps with Nazi footage of the active camps. Resnais creates a poignant memorial to those who died while juxtaposing the past with the present as a warning to future generations.

RAN (Akira Kurosawa): This is one of my favorite Kurosawa movies, but not so much for the King Lear story trajectory. The true joy of RAN is Lady Kaede, played by Mieko Harada. She is not seen until about a quarter of the way into the movie, and then her role is small; however, as the plot progresses, Lady Kaede's role grows into a malignant flame that consumes everyone with her desire for revenge. She is patient as an adder and just as deadly. Her knowledge of human nature allows her to manipulate the men and achieve her goals. Mieko Harada is positively riveting in the role. The movie is a must-see for her performance alone.

KUNG FU PANDA 3 (Alessandro Carloni, Jennifer Yuh Nelson): Don't judge me. It was cute. I haven't seen the first two movies, so I can't really contrast them against the third, but KUNG FU PANDA 3 did have a few laugh out loud moments.

Eating Authors & Booknest's Fundraiser

If you're like me and navigating the post-holiday gluttony, there isn't much you want to do but sit and surf the Internet for some good things. Here are a couple of posts that won't bring you down:

This morning, I am at Lawrence M. Schoen's blog for his weekly Eating Authors post, where I talk about one of my most memorable meals. While you're there, Lawrence is also hosting a giveaway for a copy of his novel Barsk, which will be released in paperback tomorrow. You have until December 29th to enter Lawrence's giveaway. Pop over and say hi ... we'd love to see you there.

In other news, I have joined 99 other authors for Booknest's Fabulous Fantasy Fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). Donate as little as a pound for a chance to be entered in a raffle for to win books--lots and lots of books--and to give money to this very worthy cause.

The winners will be drawn on New Year's Day. You can check out the list of authors and more details about the fundraiser here.

I'll be around later this week with another cyborg report for you. 

2016 award eligibility post

The following publications of mine are eligible in the novella and collections categories:



The Second Death was published March 29, 2016 and is eligible for the NOVELLA category in all awards.

Save the world, or save his family…

For Diago Alvarez, that’s the choice before him. For unless he wants to see his son Rafael die, he must do the unthinkable: Help the Nazis receive the plans to the ultimate weapon.

And while Diago grows more comfortable not only with his heritage, but also with his place among Guillermo’s Los Nefilim, he is still unsure if he truly belongs amongst them.

In a frantic race to save the future of humanity, Diago is forced to rely on his daimonic nature to deceive an angel. In doing so, he discovers the birth of a modern god—one that will bring about a new world order from which no one can escape.

The Second Death is the final chapter in T. Frohock’s haunting and lyrical Los Nefilim trilogy, which bestselling author Mark Lawrence has called “a joy to read.”



Los Nefilim (April 2016), which contains all three novellas--In Midnight's Silence (May 2015), Without Light or Guide (November 2015), and The Second Death (March 2016)--will only be eligible for any awards that allow for a COLLECTIONS category. The Locus Award is one of the few that has a category specifically for collections. Likewise, the Lambda Literary award allows for collections to be entered in its various categories.

Collected together for the first time, T. Frohock’s three novellas—In Midnight’s Silence, Without Light or Guide, and The Second Death—brings to life the world of Los Nefilim, Spanish Nephilim that possess the power to harness music and light in the supernatural war between the angels and daimons. In 1931, Los Nefilim’s existence is shaken by the preternatural forces commanding them … and a half-breed caught in-between.

Diago Alvarez, a singular being of daimonic and angelic descent, is pulled into the ranks of Los Nefilim in order to protect his newly-found son. As an angelic war brews in the numinous realms, and Spain marches closer to civil war, the destiny of two worlds hangs on Diago’s actions. Yet it is the combined fates of his lover, Miquel, and his young son, Rafael, that weighs most heavily on his soul.

Lyrical and magical, Los Nefilim explores whether moving towards the light is necessarily the right move, and what it means to live amongst the shadows.

To the best of my knowledge there is no category within the Hugos or the Nebulas that allow for collections, so if you see the Los Nefilim omnibus popping up there, you might want to double-check the category and the award rules prior to voting.

A brief cochlear implant health update

Because I've had several people ask over different social platforms, I'm going to give the health update here on my blog this time. If anyone has any questions they might like to ask, I'll leave the comments open on this post.

I had the surgery for the cochlear implant on December 5, and as of today, everything looks great. The swelling is going down and the stitches look good--as a matter of fact, most of the stitches have dissolved by now.

The biggest question people have is regarding the pain. I have had very little pain, which has greatly surprised me. There was some tenderness around the implant site post-surgery, and I would occasionally experience a sharp pain shooting into my ear for a few days, but none of it was debilitating. I stopped using the prescribed painkiller several days ago and now rely on Advil to take care of any discomfort. I've had a few minor headaches, but nothing I would consider abnormal.

Side-effects of this type of surgery can cause facial numbness, a loss of smell or taste, or vertigo. I have experienced none of those things.

I am now completely deaf in my right ear. This is not as horrifying as some people might imagine. I've actually been enjoying the quiet.

In order to communicate with people who don't sign, I use a program called Ava on my cellphone. It has been a godsend for car conversations and also with people in restaurants. For the most part, I've had a hearing person with me every time I've gone out, so I don't rely one hundred percent on Ava. Still it is a very useful app.

My family is taking excellent care of me, and I have been trying very hard to remain still and let my body heal. Next week, I'm going to resume trail walking.

My biggest issue right now is whether to go with a Kanso or a Nucleus 6 processor, and I'm talking with my audiologist about that.

I know the truly burning question in many of your minds right now is: how is Macavity dealing with all of this?

The morning of the surgery was terribly traumatic for him, because he knew we were going someplace without him. My daughter said that when she came into the house later that day to prepare dinner for us, he gave her a magnificent stink-eye and slinked into another room. He seemed to think that my hubs and I had gone on another long trip and left him behind.

When I came home, he plugged himself into my lap and stayed very close for the next four days. Now he has resumed his daily upstairs naps and comes down in the mornings and the evenings to spend a little time in my lap, so he seems to be adjusting to the surgery quite well.

And that is about all of an update that I have for you right now. My activation date is December 29, so it's been great fun to begin all of my sentences with: when my implant is activated ...

As to how much speech will I understand and how will I hear? I don't know yet, but I'll keep you all apprised. Thank you so much for all of your well-wishes and questions and good thoughts.