Archive for November, 2010

Movember and Mammograms

Monday, November 29th, 2010

My husband grew a moustache for Movember, Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month. He shaves it off in two days, and I can’t wait. The only time he’s had a moustache is for a couple of years around the time I was pregnant with our second child. I got…used to it. But I far prefer him without one. It’s just too prickly, and this ain’t the Seventies, folks. Moustaches remind me of the Seventies, weasley used car salesmen (as opposed to non-weasley used car salesmen, who have nice goatees), porn stars (of the Seventies), and guys who sell fake Rolexes out of their coats. I’m just not a moustache-loving girl. That said, I know men who are quite handsome with their moustaches. I just prefer my guy clean-shaven, the better to see his charming smile. Awwwwww.

But we have friends who’ve struggled with prostrate cancer, and so the moustache will return next November, I’m told. Bring it on!

Speaking of moustaches and Movember, they both start with M. And mammogram also starts with M. I’m bringing this up because I recently learned an old friend just underwent a pretty intensive surgery for breast cancer detected during an annual mammogram. She’s on her way to recovery, and I wish her well.

You did read what happened, right? She had her annual mammogram, and that’s how the cancer was detected. Smart woman, to have gone in for the mammogram. I’ve been getting mammograms for several years. Much earlier this year, I was called back for diagnostics for the very first time. That freaked me out. I can’t imagine going through the fear and uncertainty my friend must have experienced these last several weeks. The time between my mammogram and the diagnostics were enough to stress me out to no end. On one hand I rationalized I couldn’t possibly have breast cancer because I plan to live to at least 90 and will haunt everyone I know and all the friends of everyone I know, including the friends of friends of friends of people on Facebook I know, if I don’t make my goal. It’s not my goal, really, more of an expectation based on family history. I take very good care of myself. I eat chocolate whenever possible and exercise only enough to ensure I can eat chocolate whenever possible. Cancer has no place in my body.  

Neither did it have any reason to reside in the body of my friend.

But it did.

Cancer is a bitch. It doesn’t care if you plan to live to at least age 90 or if you haven’t gotten around to taking that trip around the world yet. It doesn’t care if you have proper medical coverage, and it doesn’t care if you do have the coverage but the wait times for surgery in your area are long. It doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor—as long as you give it what it wants. And that’s your life. However it can take it. If that means leaving four children without a mother while one of those children is recovering from his own life-threatening illness, cancer will be happy to oblige. So we owe it to ourselves to fight back as fiercely. To grow that ugly moustache in support of a friend. To get annual mammograms—no excuses. No, your boobs AREN’T too small. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, the first time is embarrassing. Well, the first time you opened your legs for a doctor while you were in labor might have been embarrassing, too. The 3rd or 4th time? Not so much. So it is with mammograms.

Oh, my diagnostics turned out okay. Then I returned in August for my follow-up and the mammograms were okay. I’m still getting tested in another year. And every year thereafter.

While I’m at it, I had to cancel my Pap Smear last week because I was sick for several days. But I’m getting it this week. If you haven’t had a Pap Smear in two years, what are you waiting for? Get ‘er done!

Winter Descends

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Winter basically fell from the sky with a wallop last Friday morning, the day we drove my parents to the airport for their Mexican sojourn. My Liege took a “day off,” so I got dragged along to fetch the last of the firewood for the winter. He and Eldest Son and Old Logger (a.k.a. my dad) fetched the first load last weekend. My primary task was to make sure Allie McBeagle didn’t venture out of the pasture while M.L. sawed already felled and dried logs into chuckable chunks. As in he intended to chuck them into the pickup bed and then E.S. would chop them up at home.

That was the intention. I wound up getting roped into carrying the smaller wood pieces to the truck. I felt like a wimp carrying only one at a time, so I did two. I knew this wasn’t good for my bicep injury, but I did it, anyway. Then we returned home and realized it was not just snowing, but it was cold enough to do the vehicle shift.

Eldest Son’s 1986 Honda Prelude doesn’t have a block heater. Normally, he and Youngest Son park on these brick tracks M.L. created several years ago, at the other end of the yard. I get the carport and M.L. parks near the kitchen door. The last two years, E.S. has been away at university, so we didn’t have to worry about his block-heater-less car in the winters. The rest of us have block heaters, so could all plug in where we sat. Now, Y.S.’s little pickup is wheel-less at the bottom of the yard because he’s away at university, M.L.’s big pickup is parked in the snow where the kids’ vehicles both sat this summer. If needed, he’ll just put it in 4-wheel-drive to get out of his “driveway.” My poor little Sophie, my fantastic, amazing 1999 Nissan Altima that doesn’t even have 90,000 kilometers on it yet (but I’m getting close), now sits by the kitchen door, and E.S.’s ’86 Prelude has the carport. The reasoning is his car, which can’t plug in, will catch the heat of the house this way.

Before I moved my car, I stupidly decided to shovel what is now “my side” of the driveway. The snow wasn’t deep, but the exercise did a number on my bicep injury, regardless. From now on, so I’m told, if E.S. isn’t around I’m to clear two tracks so I can back out of the driveway and then allow E.S. to clean both driveways upon his return. (Yes, he’s our slave). (On the other hand, he gets free room and board while taking his teaching certification).

Then Allie got into the act. Lo and behold, overnight her water dish on the sundeck where her insulated doghouse sits, suddenly froze solid. This is a big water dish. It’s an empty ice cream bucket. She’s not allowed to sleep inside if a skiff of ice forms on the surface. But we didn’t get to skiff-forming this year. We proceeded directly from liquid to ice. Which means the beagle is now sleeping on the bed at our feet. It’s only been 3 nights, so she’s still operating under the misconception that we’ve lost our brain cells and that’s why we aren’t locking her on the sundeck to sleep outside. As soon as she figures out that she’s indoors for the next three or four months, she’ll slowly and craftily begin creeping off her blanket in the middle of the night…and wind up cuddling my spine. Oh, it sounds cozy. It’s aggravating, for someone who tosses and turns as she sleeps. But…it’s temporary. Praise God.

This morning was the first day since the first snow that Allie and I were to go on our run. I nixed that right away. I slammed ice-grippers onto the bottom of my snow boots and basically tried to ensure she didn’t drag us into traffic as we made our way to the dog park. The entire walk took about 40 minutes, but doesn’t escalate my heart rate enough to count as cardio. So then I trotted up and down the basement steps for 20 minutes. My left knee complained. The trotting shall have to continue, however, until I get off my duff and buy a cheap elliptical. Then at least I can watch TV as I work out. The problem is getting off my duff and buying the thing.

Yes, winter has descended, and we’re comfy cozy. When the fire is blazing in the evenings, and I’m lazing on the couch with a contented beagle snoring on my lap, it’s very obvious that Christmas is coming. Am I prepared? Of course not. Honestly, people, you should know me better than that by now! But I’m looking forward to the holiday nevertheless.

How’s your November shaping up?

I Am Lazy, Hear Me Snore

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Yes, I’m being a bit of an absentee blogger again. Last week the excuse was my shoulder hurt like the devil himself was living inside it. This week, for some strange reason, I thought today was American Thanksgiving, and I figured why blog if everyone is out eating turkey? Well, the real reason for my lack of blogging is I’ve just begun editing/polishing a full manuscript for Penny, and my mind is pretty much occupied there. Plus, my parents are leaving on their “snowbird” excursion tomorrow, which means they’ll be gone all winter. We’re driving them to the airport, my dh is taking a day off, which sounded like a long weekend to me!

Today is my best friend’s birthday. I’d normally owe her a phone call, but she already called me, yesterday, whining about how sick she is. She’s turning a major milestone birthday, which means she’s caught up with me. For a couple of months, at least. Then I turn another year older. She’s always in catch-up mode. Has been since I met her when I was “already” 6 and she was 5.

Happy birthday, Claudia, you old bag! Enjoy Las Vegas!

I’m not really lazy, and I don’t snore. Allie McBeagle makes up for me in that department.

However, from the sounds of this post, I am scatterbrained. So it’s best that I return to the Land of Edits and try to refocus my miind.

Happy American Thanksgiving a week in advance!

Boys and Their Toys

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

By Annette McCleave

The men in my life have always had a thing for toys. Whether it was cars, boats, snowmobiles, all terrain vehicles, or even computers and big screen TVs, you name it, they had it. And wildly enjoyed it.  Something about cranking up the gas, speeding through space, and filling the air with a fine, deep roar truly stirred them.

Not surprising, I guess, that my fictional men tend to be fond of toys, too. My latest hero, Jamie Murdoch, owns a candy apple red Mustang and a black Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle. Being a medieval Scot, serving a rare second 500-year term of indenture with the Goddess of Death, he’s very in tune with his primitive side—and he thrills to the revving of a powerful engine. Both vehicles play a part in the plot of the story, and one of my favourite scenes in the book involves the motorbike and the heroine, Kiyoko Ashida.

I’m not going to say more than that. 🙂

The fascination men have with toys is no doubt tied in part to the measurability such possessions have as status symbols. But we can’t deny there’s also a sense of fun and freedom attached to them as well.

I know several women who get as excited about their status cars as any man, who thrill to the purr of a car engine and the sleek lines of a cigarette boat. But I can think of few who salivate over a snowmobile, a lawn mower, or a band saw. As women continue to further themselves as business people and continue to smash through glass ceilings in the workplace, do you think their interest in toys will grow in tandem? Or do you think the love of toys is fundamentally a guy thing?

Comment for a chance to win a signed Advance Reader Copy of the third Soul Gather novel, SURRENDER TO DARKNESS, out in January of 2011.


If you’re reading this blog through a feed at Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads or another social network, please note that you need to leave your comment at to enter.

The back cover blurb for SURRENDER TO DARKNESS and Annette’s bio are in yesterday’s post. Visit Annette’s website to learn more about her and her books.

Annette McCleave Guest Blogs Tomorrow

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Tomorrow I’ll welcome my second-to-last guest blogger for 2010. Yes, you heard me, only two more opportunities to win free books from talented authors. So please drop by tomorrow and join me in welcoming paranormal romance author Annette McCleave. Annette is blogging about Boys and Their Toys and will give away an autographed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of SURRENDER TO DARKNESS, the third book in her Soul Gatherer series. SURRENDER TO DARKNESS hits stores in January, 2011.


As an immortal, Jamie Murdoch has spent lifetimes battling demons. But he’s cursed with an inner berserker, and his expertise as a Soul Gatherer is overshadowed by uncontrollable rage. Sent to Japan to investigate a mystical weapon that can destroy demons, Jamie feels out of place in a society that values tranquility and self-control.

Kiyoko Ashida has dedicated her life to fighting evil. Now she’s dying, and her remaining days are linked to a mysterious artifact, which is the only thing keeping her alive. Still, her path is clear—until the day a valiant Soul Gatherer storms into her life and, with one fateful touch, steals her heart.

The Veil is both destroyer and healer, and Jamie knows Kiyoko cannot survive without it. But when the malicious ambitions of a fallen angel target the artifact, he’s torn between fulfilling his duty and saving the life of the woman he loves.

About Annette:

Annette McCleave is the award winning author of the Soul Gatherer series—paranormal romances about immortal Soul Gatherers who battle demons for the souls of the dead. Mother of one, pet owner, and former high tech executive, Annette currently writes for NAL Signet Eclipse.

To learn more about Annette and her books, please visit her website.

Various PITAs

Friday, November 12th, 2010

That A stands for Arm.

I have been a little absent here lately because I woke up at 4 a.m. last week with what I call “a sleeve of pain” covering one shoulder. A little Interneting advised me I might have shoulder bursitis. So I downloaded advice and exercises and started popping ibuprofen and icing my injury (which came about as a result of all that outside painting, but keyboarding makes it worse). Yes, I called the doctor, but he’s very popular and I couldn’t get in to see him until two days ago. By that time, all the ibuprofen and the icing had done their thing. My muscles are still twitching, but as long as I keep up with the exercises, HOPEFULLY I shouldn’t have to be injected with cortisone. If he’d seen me last week, he would have given me a shot, he said. But, no, I’ll be fine in 6-8 weeks, and the injury started around mid-October, so no steroid shots for me! Sob.

I’ve also started an agent search for my single title mystery romance, SEX, PIs & PACKING TAPE. Wish me luck! I’ve sent out several e-queries and most of them ask the subject line to run something like QUERY: Title of Novel. However, Title of Novel includes the word “sex.” I have no clue if some of my queries are going into spam folders because of this. But when an agent’s website says, “Put QUERY: Title of Manuscript in Subject line, or you’re outta luck,” well, I’m sticking in the title. Besides, “QUERY: From Author Afraid to Insert Title” doesn’t sound very good.

Next week, I plan to edit an erotic romance single title for Penny.

What are you up to?

Why Indie Author?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Lately, I’ve been reading the term “indie author” to describe self-publishing. I find it interesting that none of the authors on the professional authors e-publishing loop I referred to last week use the term. They just say self-publishing, or re-releasing their back list in ebook form (self-publishing is a shorter way of saying that). I’m interested in why the use of “indie author” has come about. Is it because “self-published” has a negative connotation when it comes to fiction? Or to differentiate that you haven’t paid a vanity press to print your book, or to get you reviews, etc? Vanity press being, in my point of view, a printer who calls themselves a publisher who will print anything sent to them. They don’t care as long as they’re getting paid. Compared to, say, paying for your own editing services (or swapping editing services) to one individual, paying for your cover art (or creating it yourself) from probably another individual, and uploading the book to e-book venues yourself (or, again, paying someone else to do it). To ME, that’s self-publishing. When you’re really doing it all yourself instead of paying a vanity press usually way more money than necessary to do it for you.

The thing I don’t understand is that all authors are “independent authors,” because we’re independent contractors. I guess if you have a 5-book contract with a major publisher…no, I would still consider that author as running her own business (which she is). Even Nora. So…isn’t Nora an indie author?

Unless you’re an employee of a publishing house, you’re independent as far as I can tell.

So…is “indie author” used to differentiate from “published with a major house?” To differentiate from “being under contract”? If that’s the case, I’m very much an indie author. Because I haven’t sold to a major publishing house and I’ve never sold a 2+ book contract. Yet I’m not an indie author, according to how I’ve seen the term used, because I’m not self-published.

What am I missing?

Educate me!

Subsidiary Rights Fun

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I had another post planned for this week, but researching agents and problems with my shoulder have waylaid me. The “Internets” says I might have shoulder bursitis, brought on by all that damn outside painting I did this summer and fall. However, I can’t get in to see my doctor until next week, so for now I’m postponing more massage therapy and have stopped one of the exercises the chiropractor gave me. It just makes the pain worse. The Internets says not to do anything to make the pain worse, but not to sit like a lump, either. So I am curtailing a lot of computer time and doing basic stretching exercises several times a day. Plus, I succumbed to taking an anti-inflammatory yesterday and might again today.

That doesn’t sound like Subsidiary Rights Fun, does it? Well, this will.

I’m in the midst of proofing the audiobook files for HEAD OVER HEELS, which will releaese from Audiolark…I’m not quite sure yet. I’m having a blast proofing the files, but, wow, it takes a lot longer to proof while listening to your book than to proof reading your book. Each chapter takes at least half an hour to listen to. I’m down to the last three chapters and will have the files back to my publisher by Monday.

At first, it was really strange to hear my book being read into my headphones. The narrator has a very pleasant voice and she does an excellent job of relaying different character voices while not coming off sounding like a cartoon movie. The voices are just different enough to clarify. Some of you who have read HEAD OVER HEELS will remember that the story features two English secondary characters, Kate and Nate Willoughby. I laughed out loud when I heard the narrator’s rendition of their voices. She was spot on! I didn’t know when I submitted the pronunciation guide if she would make their voices sound English or just let the narration relate that they have English accents. So to hear these two voices especially tickled me pink. I’m hoping that the fact that my own audiobook is giving me many fits of the giggles means that the humor will come through in the “hearing” for readers other than myself. I’m very excited to have this opportunity.

Oh, and guess what? The narrator for HEAD OVER HEELS, I have been told also narrated Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. That’s kind of cool.

I also heard from the agent in Japan who handled the Japanese Manga rights sale of HEAD OVER HEELS to Ohzora. The Japanese translation is now complete and the publisher is in the process of assigning an illustrator. Very exciting! I’ll probably next hear from the agent in Japan when the Manga version has a release date, and you can be sure I’ll mention it here. I can’t wait to see the illustrations in anime. What fun!

Back List EBook Authors

Monday, November 1st, 2010

I belong to a loop of multi-published authors who are interested in self-publishing their back lists on Kindle, Smashwords, and the like. I heard about the loop as a result of my Novelists, Inc. membership and joined while the loop was in its infancy. I joined because I would like to self-publish my out-of-print short story, DECEIVING DEREK, on Kindle (I’d say which publisher previously had it up for sale, but they didn’t pay me my due royalties, so I don’t want to give them the credit, and, besides, they’re out of business). You know, when I have the time. Plus, while I sold library edition hardcover rights and other rights to my upcoming contemporary romance, WHERE SHE BELONGS, to Five Star Expressions (December 2011), Five Star doesn’t buy electronic rights. So, eventually, I will self-publish the ebook version of WHERE SHE BELONGS, as well. My Five Star contract states I can’t publish the ebook until 12 months following the hardcover release, which means you won’t see the ebook until at least December 2012. But I’m a Capricorn. I like to prepare. And so I joined the e-loop, which was the brainchild of multi-published contemporary romance author, Julie Ortolon. She also designs ebook covers. Multi-talented, that Julie.

It’s a very busy loop as the authors learn the ins and outs of self-publishing their back lists and help each other along. In case you’re not a writer, by “back list” I mean books previously published by traditional publishers or small publishers, or the odd e-publisher. Books for which the rights have reverted to the authors. Or the authors are in the process of getting the rights reverted to them, usually because the contracts didn’t stipulate ebook rights. But other cases also apply.

The e-loop grew very big very quickly. As someone only published by small press and e-publishers, I’m definitely in the minority. Although I’m not alone. There are a few more like me on the loop, who also probably gained entrance through membership in Novelists, Inc.

Some of the more industrious authors on the e-loop have banded together to form the Back List EBooks website. If you visit, the site that’s there now is temporary. The group is currently getting a site professionally designed (depending when you read this, it might be up by now). If you buy books from this site, you are assured that the books are not pirated (pirating is bad, very bad). You are supporting the authors who put in the hard work of writing the books, not some schlep who thinks it’s okay to scan books into his computer, create ebooks from them, and sell them (that’s illegal). Or even someone who has bought an ebook and then thinks it’s okay to upload it to a file-sharing site or sell it (again, illegal, because you could feasibly sell 1000 or more copies of an ebook, whereas, when you buy a paper book and then take it to a used bookstore and they sell it, sooner or later that book will fall apart and need replacing, so it’s a different ball of wax). Yes, anyone who has downloaded an ebook for free, or even paid for it, from a file-sharing site or, yes, places like eBay, you are not supporting the authors. You are supporting an ebook pirate. For shame. Most authors struggle to earn even a part time income from their writing. Don’t make their lives harder by paying pirates for books!!

Ahem. Back on topic.

Here’s some info from the Back List EBooks site:

Backlist Ebooks is a brand new venture designed to help ebook readers find quality fiction from established authors who have e-released their out-of-print novels. Participating authors must have self-published one or more backlist titles that were originally published traditionally, in print, by a major professional publishing house (as we define it).

Note the “as we define it.” Their website, their definition of a major professional publishing house. I have no problem with it. For more details, check out the About Joining Us section on their website. (Hint, it’s on the Resources tab).

They also have a Facebook page.