Category Archives: Fuck Cancer

Five Years

This is the first of two “five year” posts I’ll write in the next three weeks. It’s been five years since my father died after a too-brief battle with glioblastoma multiforme.

For some reason, it’s hitting me harder this year than the last couple. I don’t know if it’s because my life was in such upheaval last year or because it’s a milestone year or a combination of all these things.

I miss him so much. It breaks my heart that he never got to meet his grandson. I would give almost anything to see them together and eavesdrop on that conversation.

I’ve done nanowrimo every year since he died (except the first year–the PPD was still holding on too tight that year), and just published the first book I wrote after his death.

Even though the book has more adult language and strong sexual content than he probably would’ve preferred (especially in a book written by his daughter), I know he would’ve been so happy to see my name in print (by the way dad, I am the highest ranked Cissell on Amazon…nyah, nyah, nyah).

A small selection of Cissell books…

When I was a sophomore in college and having a really hard time, he gave me my first dragon. It’s been with me ever since. He took that dragon and slayed it in his fiction, I took its strength and made it my own.

Without him, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. It’s been a hard year, but I’m surviving, and I owe a lot of that to my dad.

I wish he was here to see what I’ve accomplished and see how I made the dragons my bitch.

I wish he was here to meet my son–my dad would be blown away by the mind on my kid.

I wish he was here so I could call him up and have him tell me everything’s going to be okay.

I wish he was here.

Dragon Gallery

The poem

My essay on postpartum depression; title (and opening poem) courtesy dad

The quilt square my father embroidered for me, complete with our poem.

My (second) dragon tattoo-this is inspired by the dragon on the quilt and was done in memorium…

Our books and our dragons…they almost kinda look alike…


I wish he was here so I could tell him one more time how much I love him. At least I can tell everyone else…


Three Things Thursday – Writerly Edition

  1. OMG OMG OMG OMG! You guys! I have a cover for my book! A real cover! AND IT’S SO PRETTY! And I’m not going to share it. Yet. I’m still waiting for my first round of edits to come back, and once that happens, I’ll have a better idea of publishing timelines…but you know what’s the best part of this whole thing? THE COVER HAS MY NAME ON IT!



  1. I am trying to finalize my blurb today. It’s nearly there. This is much, much harder than writing a whole bunch of books, by the way. I have my official version that I’m going to send to the cover artist so she can mostly finalize the paperback wrap, and then the much better version that I workshopped with a friend last Friday.
I edited out the name of my correspondent to protect the guilty, but she's welcome to out herself if she wants!

I edited out my friend’s name to protect the guilty, but she’s welcome to out herself if she wants.


  1. NaNoWriMo…I have done this every year since my dad died (excepting the first year) because we were NaNo buddies and this is one of the ways in which I honor him. I’m planning on doing it again this year, but am unsure if I’m going to just get my 50K of my current WIP (technically against the rules, as you’re supposed to start something new, but RULES ARE FOR SUCKERS!) or start one of the other couple projects I have brewing in my head. I just wish my dad was around so I could share my cover art and my blurb and tell him to DEFINITELY NOT READ the sexy bits of my book. I miss him always, of course, but there are things that definitely hit harder – and seeing him in my NaNo “friends” page every year is one of those things…


Happy birthday, old man

Today you should be turning sixty-six. It seems like way more than four years since I got to tell you happy birthday. The last time – way back in 2011 – I bought you Stephen King’s 1963 and a coffee mug that said “Grandfather” in anticipation of you assuming that status in the next few months.

I don’t know if you ever read the book. It’s mine now and I haven’t read it. I just can’t. I don’t know what happened to the mug. I couldn’t take that because you never got to be a grandfather.

It still pisses me off sometimes – today more than any day. I don’t know why your birthday hits me harder than your death day, but it does. Maybe because today is supposed to be a day of celebration and no one expects that on a death day. Maybe because I can overlook your death day with the anticipation leading up to Alvie’s birthday – which you missed, jerk face.

Maybe because this time of year sucks anyway. It’s so dark and I know you hated it even more than I do.

I can’t remember the first birthday gift I ever got you, but I remember the year we got you a cribbage board for your birthday and I totally gave away the secret several times over. I’m not much better at keeping secrets now than I was then, but I like to believe I’m a slightly better cribbage player.

I did nanowrimo again this year. This book is a good one and doesn’t have as many scenes that I’d have to excise before you could read it. I wish we could talk about it because I think you’d really like this one.

I miss you so much today and I would like to kick you in the ankles (which I know wouldn’t hurt too much because they’d be protected by the ubiquitous cowboy boots) for making me cry.

So this year for your birthday I got you a bottle of wine (I’ll pour one out for you – into my glass) and a donation to the National Brain Tumor Society.

Screenshot 2015-12-09 10.36.49


Love you Dad.

60th Birthday Surprise!

60th Birthday Surprise!


– your favorite eldest daughter


So, I know it’s been a month since I’ve graced you with my presence and everyone’s been refreshing constantly trying to find out if my eye issue resolved itself.

You can breathe a sigh of relief. It did.

However, I apparently shared with all and sundry (so sorry) including my kid who ended up with the most horrific eye infection I’ve ever seen. Five doctor’s visits, including the ophthalmologist, lots of drops and ointments and finally oral antibiotics, and it’s finally *knock on all the wood* cleared up.

It was so bad that I came back a day early from my Vegas conference to take care of the little freak.

In the care of the sister wife whilst I was winging my way home.

In the care of the sister wife whilst I was winging my way home.

At his ophthalmologist appointment, nine days into the oral antibiotics, there was still infection present all around that poor right eye, but at least he could open it by then.

Eye exams are way more fun for the small set

Eye exams are way more fun for the small set

The good news is that other than the disgusting tears of blood issue, he has perfect vision! Hooray?


Of course, this immediately preceded the most important holiday of all time. Halloween.

The Bean was Captain Barnacles, but refused to wear either the polar bear hat or the Captain’s hat, so he mostly looked like a kid in blue pajamas.

I am dressed as Captain Barnacle's polar bear mother in this shot.

I am dressed as Captain Barnacle’s polar bear mother in this shot.

The architect, sister-wife & I threw a party on the 30th and it was great fun. I took zero pictures, so you’ll have to content yourself with this photo of me as The Morrigan, Celtic battle goddess and chooser of the slain.

2015-10-30 18.55.09

You may be saying to yourself, wait…isn’t that what you did last year?

NO, people…stay with me. Last year I was a Valkyrie – a NORSE battle goddess and chooser of the slain.

Hallowe’en itself was, of course, the architect’s and my nine-year anniversary, so we got gussied up and went out for a night on the town. We partied like it was 1999. Or something.

2015-10-31 20.44.43

And now, here we are, the ninth day of November.

It’s writing month for me. I finished edits on my book I’d been working on the last week of October and sent them off to my PSM. She has assured me that it didn’t suck. She did, however, complain that there was not enough surprise breastmilk fetishes or shockers, so I’ll need to remedy that for book two. (She did not say that.)

So now I’m 16K words into a new book. Different series. This one is less light (if you can call a mid-apocalyptic book light) and is requiring lots more research.

But a small sampling of what I need to read.

But a small sampling of what I need to read.

I’m having to beef up my Swedish language lessons and spend most of my time alone in the car listening to language tapes now (instead of Irish drinking songs). I actually bought a book in Swedish and was relieved that I understood enough to accurately calculate the exchange rate from Krona to dollars.

In addition, I’ve gotten really, really serious about the writing this year.

2015-11-01 08.54.42

All the most serious writers exercise their craft in mythological creature onesies.


Happy November! I hope all of you nanowrimo-ers are killing your word counts and at least a few of your characters.


Every year I dedicate my month of writing to my Dad – an avid nanowrimo-er himself – and this year is no different. He appears on my buddy list each year and I will never take him off.


Always my writing inspiration


Missed It

I have a ridiculously weird memory. I can remember all sorts of things in very great detail and generally lacking even a nodding acquaintanceship with useful information.

You need names and dates and locations of people involved in something that happened 1 or 5 or 20 or 100 or 1000 years ago? Give me a couple context cues and a few minutes and I can pull it out of the vault.

I can remember every grant name, accounting number, title, and budget that’s come through my administrative hands over the last seven years.

I know what day that meeting was on and who was there, even if that meeting was three jobs (and 11 years) ago.

Things I am TERRIBLE at remembering are the things that are actually useful (unless we’re gauging useful by ‘winning pub trivia,’ then my ability to call up random facts is really helpful). Things like what face goes with what name. (I was in a meeting today with a woman who looked vaguely familiar. I watched her surreptitiously for a while, trying to place her. Even after I heard her name, I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, one hour in I realized that I’d actually interviewed her. On Monday of this very week.) And when people with whom I’m currently actively associated with have important dates. You want to know when all my college friends have birthdays? I’m your girl. You want to know when my (hypothetically speaking) nieces’ birthdays are? March *mumble* and May *mumble*.

Where am I going with this, you might ask?

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my father’s death and it didn’t even register until someone I know mentioned on facebook that today was the anniversary of her mother’s death.

I didn’t think of it once yesterday.

I’d thought of it several times in the last month. His death and Bean’s birth are inextricably tied up in my brain so this time of year triggers that memory. But yesterday? Nothing.

My first feeling on realizing this was one of relief. The pain has dulled enough that it’s not always in the forefront of my brain. The second feeling? Guilt. For forgetting and then being relieved that I’d forgotten.

He’s always present – just not as much as he used to be.

I still miss him, though, and always will. I’m just less angry/sad/bewildered by the hole he left behind.

And I guess that’s okay.

A rare winter trip back - dad's sixtieth birthday

A rare winter trip back – dad’s sixtieth birthday