Thursday, February 28, 2013

Butt-high Day

Whoa... my joints hurt this morning! High pressure can kill you first thing in the a.m. What's the solution? Move, move, move.

I have a list of "stuff" to do today before I go to the pool. From comments I've had in the past, I know people don't quite understand about the pool. It's not a standard pool--it's a therapy pool. Ninety-two degrees. Four feet deep. And designed for folks who aren't quite up to swimming laps in a cooler pool. It has grab bars all the way around it for the less steady.

When I go there, soaking in the warm water is one of the benefits. If a particular joint is so stubborn the therapy pool doesn't work, I can spend a few moments in the spa (ninety-six degrees with bubbling jets) and that helps loosen the joints...or something.

The other part of the pool experience is socialization. You know...stimulating conversation.

"How's it going today?"

"Pretty good."

"Sure is cold/hot/raining/snowing out there!"

"I slept in/got up early/stayed up all night..."

"My bursitis/diverticulitis/diabetes/arthritis is acting up today."

"I saw that cute little blonde chick/big mondo-muscle guy out in the gym."

See? Stimulating conversation all conducted as you walk to and fro in the pool. You meet going one way and say something. Then the other fella says something when you pass on the way back.

Anyway, besides the pool today, I have a visit to the post office on my agenda. That's always interesting. Every time I go, something new has been instituted and I'm never prepared, even though I do try. But today's the day for the hauling stuff in to be mailed to all the folks I promised stuff to. We'll see how that goes. Surely, there will be more stimulating conversation in the process.

Then, we'll likely stop at Aldi's for any last-minute grocery needs. I might step into Office Depot. I've been looking for a LARGE post-it pad (the size you would use on a easel). I don't have spare wall space in my office for a plot planner so I was going to use the door. The thing is I don't want to put nail holes in the door...

Ah, well. The hunk is calling. Breakfast is done. Time to get rolling. Just another exciting day in the life of an author.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Brain Fuzzles

For a while now, I've suffered from the brain fuzzles. This is a common syndrome known to most writers, though often misdiagnosed as writer's blox. What's the difference?

Well, now. I have plenty of ideas in my head. I know exactly where I want the story to go. My characters are chattering away, so much so I wish they would shut up so I could get some sleep. Everything is rolling along up until the moment I sit down in front of the computer. And then everything screeches to a halt.

In the first fourteen months after I contracted my first book, I wrote eleven books. In this last year, I completed one. One. Over the last few days, I've pondered what possibly is different between that first year and the years since. And I think I've figured it out.

Many authors write in a solitary, almost hermit-like environment. They zealously guard their writing up to the moment they submit it to a publisher or beta reader.

I cannot function that way. Without the input of other writers around me, my creativity dries up and withers. I've noticed my best writing is accomplished the week after I have a chat and share excerpts from my books.

So how does this information relate? When I sold my first book, I was assigned an editor who had a forum for her group of writers where any of them could engage in daily conversation with the rest of the group. Several of us posted bits and pieces we were working on. Brainstorming was a frequent activity. We could share queries about real experience in various jobs or events. In short--it was exactly the type of atmosphere that I thrived in.

Near the end of the second year I was with that publisher, I was assigned a different editor. There was no such forum available and though some of my former cohorts and I tried to keep in touch, the end result was not successful.

Now, I find myself in a dead swamp.

I have a wonderful critique partner. But the creativity part is not her responsibility. And frankly, it takes more than two people to generate the ENERGY needed for creative brainstorming. This long-term brainstorming is not accomplished at conferences or critique groups or writers retreats because those are all limited in scope. All of those energize in the short-term.

So. Now that I know 'what' and 'why', I'll have to think about 'how' to fix my problem. Because a good brainstorm doesn't come along very often.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chill Pill

Just read an article regarding the cholesterol medications... seems they're not particularly effective for the reason they're usually prescribed. Most folks take them because they're supposed to reduce the plaque in arteries. And now, it appears from LONGTERM studies that they don't perform as fact, they may increase certain types of plaque.


BUT, just in time, the pharmaceutical companies have come up with a NEW drug that will perform, nay, it will perform miracles! What about all those people on the old drugs, you say? Well, no doubt, as soon as the new drug is approved, doctors will rush to prescribe the new, far more expensive meds. Because, after all, that's the way it works.

My doc recently prescribed a new med for my diabetes. Now, I need to explain that the most prescribed med (cheap, cheap, cheap) makes me quite ill. So that one is OUT. The new one is $85/3 months--my cost--on our prescription plan. Without a prescription plan? $500/3 months.

I'm on Social Security/retirement, but not yet eligible for Medicare. AND even if I was eligible, it doesn't cover everything. So what's the solution?

Maybe, since all the pharmaceutical companies are in the government's pockets anyway, we should just cut out the middleman (the consumer) and let the government pay for the research and development. And charge the consumer $5/per month for all meds, regardless of what they are.

Maybe then, some people wouldn't have to decide between meds and groceries.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Bread and Salt

I've baked bread for many years beginning back when my children were small with a honey-oatmeal bread recipe my friend found in the Chicago Sun-Times. Since then, I've tried all sorts of breads and rolls. And without fail, even if the result wasn't stellar, it was edible.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I ignored my instincts and followed the recipe exactly. It was a new recipe for a roasted garlic-rosemary artisan bread that sounded so delicious I threw caution to the winds and just went with it.

Bad idea.

As a matter-of-course, I drastically cut or eliminate salt from almost everything I make. But this was a new recipe and I rolled with the directions.

Bad idea.

The bread was sooooo salty not even the hunk could choke it down. I double checked that recipe twice. I tracked down other recipes by the same source. It wasn't a typo. All their recipes called for 1 1/2 TABLESPOONS of kosher salt.

I may (at some time in the future) try this bread again -- minus the salt. But for now, I believe I'll go back to my old honey-oatmeal standby. I might try the new artisan techniques. But I'll never again ignore my instincts when they're clamoring.

Salt. A little will go a long way.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Conundrum Two

Obesity is a HUGE problem in our country. And diet products sell like hot cakes. Diet advice is everywhere you turn. Eat this. Don't eat that. Count calories. Run. Pump iron.

I keep a food diary, weigh and measure, and read labels. And the pounds come off VERY slowly.

In my perusal of labels, this is what I've learned. Even the most innocuous of foods is loaded with chemicals.

Check out that carton of milk. Vitamin D and A. Yeah. What's that other stuff in there? It's chemicals to make the milk WHITE. Cause low fat and skim milk would otherwise look watery. Riiiiiight.

Peanut butter. When my kids were young, peanut butter had one ingredient--peanuts. Now? Go on, check. I'll wait. What's that other stuff? Sugar, you say? Why do we need sugar in peanut butter?

And see if you can find something without corn syrup in it. That's right. Check your cupboard. Let me know if you run across something without corn syrup. I'll go buy it.

And I bet whatever it is will contain SOY. Soy is in everything! I take thyroid medication. And one of the big things that interfere with thyroid meds is SOY.

And then there's all the grains added to stuff. Did you know cheerios (that cereal touted for the OATS in it) contains other grains? Like corn? Um, isn't corn what they feed cows and pigs to make them fat?

Yeah. No wonder people struggle with weight loss.

And all those FRESH fruits and vegetables? This week alone I read three articles about how dangerous the chemicals sprayed on them are. The uninformed individual would yell "organic". A) They cost more than most budgets can afford. B) That doesn't guarantee they weren't grown from GMO seed.

What's GMO? Genetically modified. Frankenseed. We have an entire generation of young ladies hitting puberty years earlier than they should be because of frankenseed and hormones used on our meat supply. Remember that corn that's fed to all the animals in our food chain? Well it's GMO corn.

Those who have the space for a garden and the determination to use only heirloom seed, can get around some of the problems. But many of us don't have that advantage.

Here's what I wonder. How much of the initial problem--obesity--is rooted in the hidden ingredients in our food?


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Outlook--Partly Cloudy

Am I the only one who is really tired of the constant upgrades and changes to the various e-mail programs, social media, and browsers? Really? Can't we just stick with one thing instead of changing more often than we swap our underwear?

This week Yahoo rolled out a new set-up and Hotmail shifted over to Outlook--whether users wanted it, or not. How is that servicing the public? Oh, I forgot. That's not important.

I suspect all the changes have more to do with the government's ability to track our usage and perhaps monitor our e-mail. In the past, I've kept important messages in e-mail files, but now I'm thinking about deleting the entire mess and going back to "hard copy". So much for the paperless future.

How do you manage your e-mail? Delete or file? And what's your take on all the changes?


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Sky is Falling!

At least, it seems that way. Fireballs in the sky, whizzing overhead. Big ol' pieces of rock passing in the night. What's it all about?

You know...I miss the old days when we didn't know every little thing going on. Life was less stressful back then. We didn't know about most of the bad things in life until they were old news. And if the news was not considered family friendly, then adults who were realllly interested had to search out a secondary source. There are days when I think that was a better policy. Our kids don't have a chance to grow up slowly due to all the inappropriate stuff blaring out from the television and computers.

So that's my ranty-rant for the day. Time to move on.

Quick health update: Saw the cardiologist and a stress test has been scheduled. Saw my primary and started additional meds for the diabetes. Life evidently is going on as usual, one day at a time.

Today is my dad's birthday. He's a hale and hearty eighty-three who could no doubt beat me in a foot race which is quite a lowering prospect when you think about it. It is obvious to me that I didn't inherit a lot of HIS genes! But in any case I love him in spite of that. Happy Birthday Dad!!!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stupidity and Fear

I'm sixty-three. When I was a youngster it wasn't uncommon for folks that age to die--and consider it a good long life. Now we think ninty is a good long life. I think I want more than sixty-three years.

Last week I went to the doctor for my quarterly check-up. I haven't been feeling well for a while. Nothing in particular was wrong, but nothing was exactly right, either. I was very pleased when I lost two more pounds and my blood pressure was good. Pretty pleased, you know? Surely, that was a sign that things were okay.

After my exam, the doctor double-checked my records and decided I was due for an EKG. And those first notes of discord began to chime. The EKG was "not quite right". She instructed me to make an appointment with my cardiologist.

On Tuesday, she received part of my bloodwork results. Seems the liver panel was "not quite right". And my vitamin D levels are still too low..."not quite right". So she ordered up a scrip for vitamin D and I have to return in four weeks for another liver panel. All right. I can do this.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my pulmonologist. Had a breathing test and a chest x-ray to determine the reason I have trouble breathing when I walk up the stairs. And ruled out my asthma as a problem. Actually, it's improved. So she instructed me to see my cardiologist because something's obviously "not quite right".

When I got home, my general physician called with more bloodwork results. Um, my glucose numbers were way up. I have to go in to see the doctor tomorrow while we discuss new meds for my diabetes because obviously something is "not quite right".

Next Tuesday I have an appointment with my cardiologist and we'll see what's what. It's kind of scary. I've worked hard to lose weight and eat right and get enough sleep and lower my stress levels and...still, something is "not quite right".

In my head, I can tell myself it's all going to be all right. I'm reasonably intelligent. But you know? It's scary when things aren't quite right. I refuse to die because of stupidity and fear. But I have to say I won't turn down any good thoughts or prayers offered up in my name.

Because...something's not quite right.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Laundry day, finally. After delays and illness, we packed four weeks of personal laundry plus sheets and towels in the back of our SUV and hauled it all off to the Laundromat. And I'm still folding, folding, folding...

That's a lot of clothes.

Tomorrow we have doctor appointments and are expecting snain about the time we have to hop on the Interstate to drive downtown. Oh, joy! Can you tell I'm excited?

Anyway, I apologize for taking so long to choose two winners of print books from my commenters on last weeks blogs. Winners by random pick by the hunk were Julia Barrett and N.J. Walters. Ladies, please get in touch with me so I can mail your books to you!

Thank you to all the other commenters. In March, I'll have another contest so keep your eyes open for the details!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Crafty Hunk

 Yay!!! The hunk finished the crocheted bedcover for our bed. KING-sized as you can see. And colorful.
 This is one of my squares. I tend to crochet looser and sloppier. Which did create a small problem when he started putting it together.
 See that row across the top? That was his original strip, planned for the center until we discovered his nice neat stitches were about two sizes smaller than mine. He was going to rip it out and do it all AGAIN! I talked him into using that across the pillows...
 Another view on his side of the bed. Those last two strips were his. So neat...
This is a sample of HIS crocheting. Don't you just hate when your spouse is better at crafts than you? In any case, it's beautiful, don't you think? And another project completed!!!

Today's the last day to comment on the blog if you're interested in being included in my random drawing for a print copy of either Shadow on Stones or Spear of Retribution! The comment must be on the BLOG and anything about the subject of the blog. I'll draw two names after midnight!


Thursday, February 7, 2013


In general, most things don't get me down. The one thing guaranteed to knock me back is a stomach bug. I can deal with a cold. Or pains and aches. But the belly...

After three days in bed, I dragged myself out of bed, took a shower, had a bowl of oatmeal and settled in front of the computer. Determination and attitude have a lot to do with how we feel. Sometimes, it's best to crawl in bed, pull the blankets over your head and sleep it off.

But I'm slept out. Today, I'll play catch-up. I have a chat at Love Romance Cafe tonight so I'll put together some excerpts to share. I haven't written anything in at least three days so I might see if I've generated any story bits in my sleeping brain over the last three days. And of course, there are always the exciting things like dishes and house work.

How do you get back in the groove after you've been sick? I'm looking for some ideas...

In the meantime, as I said on Monday, in the interest of perking up February, I'll give away one print copy of each of the first two books in the Tuatha Treasures series. What do you have to do to get in on the random drawing?

Well. Comment on the BLOG--not Facebook, but the blog--and the comment has to relate to the blog topic that day. I'll draw two names on Friday night at midnight so be sure you leave me an e-mail addy! Comment on any day this week!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Haz a Bug

Ugh. Woke up this morning with a crappy tummy bug. Spending most of my day on the porcelain throne. So, we'll get back to the important stuff tomorrow.

As I said yesterday, in the interest of perking up February, I'll give away one print copy of each of the first two books in the Tuatha Treasures series. What do you have to do to get in on the random drawing?

Well. Comment on the BLOG--not Facebook, but the blog--and the comment has to relate to the blog topic that day. I'll draw two names on Friday night at midnight so be sure you leave me an e-mail addy! Comment on any day this week!

Since I'm not up to writing a blog today, pick your own topic for your comment!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Bits and Pieces

The Super Bowl is OVER. Yay. I confess I was happy the Ravens won, because after all--Baltimorean here. But the hype? Ick, ick, ick...

The groundhog didn't see his shadow so apparently spring is on it's way. That must be why there's snow on the ground outside my window. Personally, as a post-menopausal woman, I'm not all that enamoured of heat and humidity. I'm almost comfortable now. Maybe if we moved to Canada...

The hunk has almost finished the bedcover for our bed. AND he's planning another one. I'll post pictures when it's finished. It's BIG and heavy and quite unwieldy to work with at this stage.

As for writing. What with this and that it sort of ground to a halt. Time to get back to it. Maybe now that all the anxiety of my son's hospitalization is relieved, and the interruptions for all the other January stuff are past...maybe I can finally get back to my business. Maybe.

In the interest of perking up February, I'll give away one print copy of each of the first two books in the Tuatha Treasures series. What do you have to do to get in on the random drawing?

Well. Comment on the BLOG--not Facebook, but the blog--and the comment has to relate to the blog topic that day. I'll draw two names on Friday night at midnight so be sure you leave me an e-mail addy! Comment on any day this week!