21 July 2023

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Random Thoughts, Writing | 2 comments

Morning, one and all.

It’s 5:40am as I type this, and I’m about halfway through the transition from being mostly nocturnal to being a daywalker.

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that my sleep schedule tends to “walk” through the entire 24-hour period at least a couple times per year. Ever since I moved back home to help my parents and focus on my writing, having a regular “normal” schedule has been a challenge. It always has been, honestly, but exterior structures–like employment with third parties or school–helped.

If this process runs true to form, I’ll be back to a 5pm bedtime by Monday… which was excellent for writing as I woke up between midnight and 1am, could write for five or six hours, and have most of the day for any ‘real world’ errands. That was handy, and when I manage it, I need to work on keeping that if I can at all.

In other news, I did a dumb thing again. (Such a shocker, I know.  😁)

Except it doesn’t sound like such a dumb thing.

You see, I started wearing my watch again. My skins had mostly healed from the poison whatever, so it felt like a good time to resume the practice, right?

Yeah… not so much.

I like cloth watch bands. Metal expansion bands always pinched my skin or pulled the hair around them, and other materials feel clammy and uncomfortable against my skin. Aside from the weight of the watch itself, I can forget that I’m wear a cloth band. It’s that comfortable to me.

Except when it absorbs the oil from the poison whatever and helpfully gives me a new case of it.

I discovered it this morning, when I realized my wrist was itching under the band. The poison whatever is so far into the healing process that–beyond a couple disagreeable hold-outs–I’m pretty much past the flaky stage. Most of the redness is gone, and for the most part, my skin is back to what passes for ‘normal’ with me.

So, you can imagine my chagrin and trepidation when I took off my watch and investigated the itching.

Yep… sure enough, as soon as I swabbed the slightly red area of my wrist that matched the itching, two little drops of the yellow-ish orange oil–urushiol, I think it’s called–welled up. I rinsed it a couple times in 90% isopropyl alcohol and then went to town on it with concentrated Dawn dish detergent. It’s no longer itching, and I’m going to repeat the cleaning with Dawn, here in a couple hours.

Fortunately, the band comes off my watch. I have removed it, soaked it in isopropyl alcohol, and will soon soak it in Dawn. I’ll repeat this process, too, as soon as it dries.

Hopefully, I caught it early enough that I don’t enjoy a repeat of the whole ‘oozing arms’ fun times that was my life the last week or so of June.

In other news, my challenge proceeds apace. I am up to 198,798 words as of this writing, and 49,406 of that has been in July. I’m very pleased with that. I regret that I allowed myself to slack off in May, and I very much regret everything that came together to make June such a wonderful month.

But such is life.

I am not optimistic that I will be able to win the challenge I set for myself, at this point. For one thing–aside from covers–I am a one-man shop. Besides creating new content (i.e. writing, or “sitting alone in a room and making stuff up” if you prefer, or “telling lies for fun and profit” if that’s better), I am responsible for running the business that exists solely to exploit my intellectual property.

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining, especially because I don’t feel that I am. I love being beholden to no one. I love that nobody depends on me but me. That is a wonderful feeling.

It does make delegation a bit of a challenge, though.

Ah, well…

I have very few regrets about the way I live my life… which makes me extremely fortunate, I feel.

Oh! I wrote a short story for the Study Along version of the Fantasy Thriller workshop that I had planned to attend in person this week. I should’ve written at least a couple more, but I’ve decided I signed up for the workshop too early in my writing career. There are techniques that are necessary for a really good thriller that I still need to learn.

So, I’ll continue with the plan I came up with earlier this year: work my way through the Foundation Courses for Craft list of workshops on Dean Wesley Smith’s Workshop Curriculum page and then circle back around to the Writing Thrillers classic genre workshop and then try my hand at a couple Fantasy Thrillers I have in the back of my mind that I really, really like the sound and feel of.

I have worked through the first five on that list in addition to many, many others, and I feel they have made a difference in my stories. A long-time fan recently told me that Dawn of the Sorcerer, which he read via my Patreon page, was the best story I’d written so far. I won’t lie; that made me smile. I’m still not sure when I’m going to publish Dawn, though. I’m writing it as part of the backstory for the first series of the shared world I want to create. The current plan is to write Dawn and the two stories that follow it, then hop over and start writing the first series that spurred the idea of creating a shared world.

Yeah… I have a lot of stories rattling around in my head. But… I’m also not sure I’d have it any other way.

All right. I’ve probably rambled on for long enough. And besides, I have a watch band to go wash.

I hope the days treat you and yours well and that you stay safe out there. Well… safer than me, at least.


When I went to the bowl where I had my watch band soaking (just plain water after soaking in isopropyl alcohol), I found a nice, cloudy film floating on the top of the water. I don’t know that it was whatever remained of the urushiol from the poison whatever, but I certainly enjoyed washing the band in Dove dish detergent after seeing that.

I have the band hanging from the shower rod right now to dry, and I’m looking forward to trying it as soon as the new patch of redness heals. I am very happy to say that after two washings with Dawn the tiny cluster has not produced any new yellow-ish orange fluid.

At the risk of future disappointment, I shall be cautiously optimistic.


It just occurred to me that people might be reading this who have no direct experience or knowledge of what I now like to call poison whatever.

It comes in three varieties–at least around here–and I’ve linked to the relavent Wikipedia articles below.

Poison Ivy (Not the DC character)

Poison Oak (Atlantic poison oak: toxicodendron pubescens)

Poison Sumac (toxicodendron vernix)

Urushiol-induced contact dermatitis


I just finished prepping A Ghost After Sis to join the list of Newsletter Stories that is part of my monthly newsletter. I had a lot of fun writing it as the pre-workshop assignment for the Study Along Fantasy Thriller workshop.

"A Ghost After Sis" eBook cover image

Ten years ago–on Halloween, 2001–eleven undergraduates died in a massive carbon monoxide leak.

Karen’s cousin, Lindsey, was one of them… and Karen has never believed the ‘official’ story.

Now, she has the chance to get answers when she interviews the sole survivor of the incident.

His story will change her life…

Do you like stories described as “quite terrifiying” or “scary AF?”

If so, make A Ghost After Sis your next read!

Get A Ghost After Sis next month when it joins the Newsletter Stories by signing up here:


  1. Sue

    Try Betadine on your wrist. Let it dry, rinse. It’s worth a try.

    • Rob

      Hi, Sue,

      Thanks for the advice!

      The isopropyl alcohol and Dawn dish detergent did the job, and I’ve been back to wearing my watch since later that day.



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