Archive for December, 2010

Year End Shredding Madness

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

I’m devoting this week to filing/shredding/organization of writing/household and business files. My filing cabinets are bursting, and I don’t have room for more. We have a huge crawl space that needs a total clean-out. I know there are boxes of files hidden deep within that I could shred if I could find them. Including boxes of every draft I’ve ever written of HEAD OVER HEELS and BORROWING ALEX. At one time, it felt essential to keep them. Now, not so much. Do I really want my children or my children’s children going through all those old contest entries and critique comments someday? The rejection letters and letters announcing contest wins and sales, I’ll keep. But everything else is slowly and methodically getting shredded.

My old M.O. was to keep all documentation associated with a manuscript until I sold it. That’s still my basic M.O., but I’ve encountered a manu or two that are exceptions to this rule. I’ve revised the manuscripts in question way beyond their original versions, and I don’t see the point in keeping all that paper around.

WHERE SHE BELONGS, as I’ve said before, is a book of my heart. It was actually the third novel I wrote, and I put it away for years and years and years, then took it out and reworked it. I have a ton (nearly literally) of paperwork to prove it. Shredding most of this paperwork is like a celebration—because the book will finally see the light of day next year. That’s a wonderful feeling.

I hope to share that feeling two or three more times in 2011. I have a manuscript on submission, one in editing mode (for Penny), another queued for revisions, and one short (for Penny) also on submission. I devoted most of 2010 to one particular manuscript (well, and to WHERE SHE BELONGS, when I learned an editor was interested). I plan to devote 2011 to working on and submitting at least 3 manuscripts. So she says bravely. I haven’t yet written up my 2011 goals list, but unless editor or agent interest comes in on the manuscript currently on submission and my plans change because of that, 2011 promises to be a year of completing and submitting several projects that, for some reason or another, have “rested” on the backburner. Now it’s their turns.

How’s your end-of-year winding up?

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 24th, 2010

If you celebrate Christmas (as I do), Merry Christmas Eve! May you have a wonderful Tomorrow.

I’m a bit upset, because I wanted to post my Christmas poem, Except the Cat, that I wrote last year for the now-defunct group blog, Nobody Writes It Better (2007 Golden Heart finalists). Except the Cat is a take-off of The Night Before Christmas, and I really enjoyed writing it last year. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was remarkably clever and witty and would have topped off your Christmas to a tee! Because I can’t find a copy anywhere. Which means I must have written the entire poem within the old group blog’s WordPress dashboard.

I find that hard to believe, but I have scanned my paper files and my cyber files. No Except the Cat! I even checked out my Facebook Notes, because this blog used to export to my Notes. But last Christmas Eve’s post featured a LINK to the group blog and the poem, not the poem itself.

This is what happened… I was heavily involved in the old group blog, and it was a labor of love but it took up a lot of time. I assigned myself Christmas Eve so other group blog members wouldn’t have to fret about posting. And then I wrote the remarkably clever Christmas cat poem that would have topped off your holidays to a tee! But a day or two after Christmas Eve, the old group blog was hit with one of those Internet bugs that infects computers who dare to even visit a website. My old computer was affected, and the hard drive died as a result. So I never got around to visiting the site and printing out the poem. You’d think I would have printed out the poem the day I wrote it, or on December 24, 2009 as I answered comments. But I didn’t. And now I am remarkably pissed at myself in a way that does not top off my Christmas to a tee!

This is my long way of saying if, for some odd reason, you printed off Except the Cat, please email me a copy. Because of course I could never duplicate my brilliance. That just doesn’t happen.

Have a wonderful Christmas Day, a fun Boxing Day if you’re Canadian, and enjoy yourself on New Year’s Eve!

One Year Countdown to WHERE SHE BELONGS

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

My 2007 Golden Heart finalist book, WHERE SHE BELONGS, won’t be out for another year. Except there’s another way to look at that. My Golden Heart finalist book will be out in a year! December 2011. It’s a long “engagement,” but the day WILL arrive.

Waiting for the release date reminds me of when My Liege and I got engaged. It was on the sixth anniversary of our first date (except we didn’t call them “dates” in the Eighties—Americans might have “dated,” but Canadians just “went out.”). (We also had a thing against cheerleaders). M.L. and I had a long engagement, about 15 months.

The night of the “one year countdown” to our wedding, I was attending a staff party with my BFF, Claudia, A.K.A. Sandorf Verster. Her staff party, not mine. We were sitting around a fire (it was summer), and she looked at me and said, “Procter, in one year you’ll be married. Only one more year of freedom.” (Or something like that). And she cackled. Like a witch.

I looked at my engagement ring, which had been a half-size too small when M.L. placed it on my finger in Stanley Park after a romantic dinner in downtown Vancouver, and it seemed to shrink again. I gulped. One year. One last year of unmarried life. Nerves ran rampant throughout my body. Then I thought, “What the hell,” and reminded Claudia that her chances of marrying before 30 were slim to slim (not that she cared).

As a release date approaches, writerly anxiety sets in. What if everyone hates my book? (What if the marriage doesn’t work out?)

What if everyone loves it? (What if we make it to our 25th? Oh, wait, we did, this summer).

What if people merely “like” the book? What if, what if, what if?

If you’re a writer, do you get nervous come release time? Or are you bubbling over with excitement? A neurotic mess? Overflowing with confidence?

If you’re not a writer, I’m not sure how to compare the release of a book to another life event. It’s weird to work on a book for months, sometimes years, strive for publication (which takes a cast-iron stomach, let me tell you), then suddenly an editor loves the story. She doesn’t think you suck! Twelve other editors before her might have thought you sucked, but THIS editor knows better! This editor is brilliant! YOU are brilliant! You are remarkably clever at fooling yourself, at any rate. And, not to worry, tomorrow you’ll think you’re the worst writer who ever existed.

Up and down, up and down. Being an author is an emotional roller-coaster. To survive, you need to embrace rejection. Whether that’s from editors, agents, or readers. Preferably readers you don’t personally “know.”

When I have a book release, I tell everyone I know, “Buy my book. You don’t have to read it. Just buy it and support me. Because Mama craves a new case of Kraft Dinner. If you hate the book, DON’T TELL ME. If you love it, or ‘enjoy’ it, by all means, tell me that! But if you hate it, just never mention having read it, and I won’t ask.”

There’s nothing worse than a well-meaning friend critiquing your book AFTER it’s been published. When it’s too late to do anything about it. Coming from a stranger? No problem. Having a buddy tell you your kid is ugly? Um, NO.

Updated Links

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

I’ve updated my blogroll, as several URLs linked to broken addresses (like if the title of a blog changed, which happened with Leah Hultenschmidt’s blog and the Red Sage Authors blog) and still other links I realized I never visit anymore, for whatever reason. I didn’t check EVERY link. Just the ones most likely to have changed. Well, I checked about 80% of them. So if you notice a broken link, give me a shout.

Oh, and if your blog is listed under Fav Author Blogs but your site isn’t listed under Writer Buddies, that’s not because I don’t consider you a writer buddy. It’s because I’m listing you in either one place or the other. If you hate that I’ve listed your site and would rather I list your blog, let me know. And vice versa.

“Writer Buddies” is titled “Writer” instead of “Author Buddies” because my blogroll is alphabetical and if I titled that section Author Buddies, it would appear before Cindy’s Books. Which is wrong on so many levels I can’t name! So don’t get offended that I consider you a Writer instead of an Author (once you’re published, technically you’re an author, I guess). It’s purely a result of the limitations of my blogroll.

I’d like to make other changes to the blog, but between Christmas preparations, being sick for 3 weeks (2010 has been quite the year for me getting bugs, but I have better things in mind for 2011—get it, “better”?), and editing a manuscript for Penny between all the other goings-on, I just haven’t had the time. You’re lucky you’re getting an updated blogroll. You’re welcome.

P.S. I’ve also added a “Blog Legend,” which explains the nicknames used on this blog. Because of the alphabetical limitations of my blogroll links (which starts at the Newsletter Sign-Up and ends with Writer Buddies), the Blog Legend is way down the sidebar instead of being up where you can see it. I’ve noticed that WordPress now has a Custom Menus thingie. When I rework other elements of my blog, I’ll see if I can un-alphabeticalize the sidebar using a custom menu. Then I could move things around as much as I’d like (I believe that’s the idea anyway).

I know, technically “Newsletter sign-up” comes AFTER Cindy’s Books, but the Newsletter sign-up box is embedded in the sidebar in such a way that it can only go at the top or the bottom. And I have to edit the sidebar to change it to a script within a text box that I could move around. Which I plan to do. Someday. Ahem. It’s the fault of all those nasty books begging me to write them! It’s their fault, I tell you!

Don’t Look Back

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Not for the squeamish!

There, you’ve been warned. If you don’t want to see photos of Eldest Son’s laser eye surgery that occurred last Friday, BROWSE AWAY FROM MY WEBSITE NOW!

No, don’t wait two seconds. Don’t wait ten minutes. Don’t look down. Don’t scroll!! Just hop on over to another blog.

However, if, like me, you once wanted to be a pathologist or an opthamologist or a dentist (I collected teeth as a child—don’t judge me!) (I only collected about 3) (they were my brother’s) (his molars are still in my childhood scrapbook, sealed behind plastic wrap and tape), but once you reached grade 11 realized you were crappy at any science other than biology (chemistry sucks; sorry, but it’s true), so you took law and history instead, then, by all means, continue to view this post.

It was only natural that I wanted to be a doctor. How could I resist the possibility of being called Dr. Procter? I can’t tell you how much I loved the doctor’s kit I received the Christmas I was 5. And, I have an excellent bedside manner. Well, I’m marginally polite. Some days. That works, no? Alas, my brain Would Not Have It. My brain insisted it was in love with words instead. I’m rather fond of my brain, so I’ve learned to listen to it.

All right, I’ve wasted enough space that you should have BROWSED AWAY FROM MY WEBSITE if you don’t wish to see pictures of Custom Wavefront PRK Laser Eye Surgery. Why not LASIK, you ask? Because E.S.’s corneas were too thin.

What, you want me to explain the differences between LASIK and PRK? I refuse. You can follow this link instead.

Okay, you’re duly (as opposed to dully) informed. Yet you still wish to see the pictures. So here they are. And it’s coming up on Christmas, which means I’m super busy and these pictures will be here for some time. That’s what you get for volunteering to view them.

Last warning! BROWSE AWAY!

You’re still here. Welcome…to my lab.

E.S. had Custom Wavefront PRK Laser Eye Surgery on Friday. I think I was more nervous than he was. But the clinic we chose was amazing. There were other patients due to go before E.S., either the Custom PRK or LASIK, whichever suited their needs. We sat together in a little waiting room while a nice young fellow named Reid offered coffee and Christmas cookies and explained the procedures as they were occurring in the room behind us. There was a large window, covered with open blinds. So, a degree of privacy for the patient and a degree of visibility for the folks in the waiting room. I did not expect this.

I also didn’t expect that the surgery would be projected onto a TV screen in the waiting room. When I came back from visiting the washroom and saw Reid explaining the procedure occurring on the TV screen high up in the corner, I thought it was a sample video. You know, like a childbirth video. I was surprised to realize the surgery occurring on the TV was occurring live…in the room on the other side of the blinds.

My Liege got the bright idea to take pictures of E.S.’s surgery with his cell phone. And here they are. (We also have a DVD—how cool is that?)

E.S. being made comfortable. He's under the influence of...something and, no worries, they freeze his eyes or something with drops of some sort. Hey, I never said I would get technical.

Very Clockwork Orange! Several scans have been done by this point and my son's information was fed into the computer of the laser machiney thingie. The red lights are scanning his right eye again before...zeroing in on the specific areas to be worked on. Once the unit "locks on," even if your eye moves, "it" knows what to do. Shades of Hal!

What beautiful green eyes! Behind that little instrument, that is. If you think this is gross, you're lucky I didn't show you the photos of the right eye. My husband had become better at taking pictures with his cell phone for the right eye, so the right eye photos are even more close-up.

All right, this next picture is a little icky. Here you’ll see the main difference between PRK and LASIK (surgically, anyway). In LASIK, the lens of the eye is kind of sliced and lifted up, the zapping is done, and then the lens (cornea?) is lowered back down. It heals from there. In PRK, the thingie is separated from the thingie using a thingie… Oh, that’s no good. Quoting from a PRK versus LASIK website:

PRK laser surgery differs from LASIK in that a corneal flap is not created before the laser is used to ablate the eye. During PRK, the outermost layer of the cornea, the epithelium, is completely removed. After the epithelial layer is removed, the surgeon uses a laser to reshape the cornea. In LASIK surgery, a corneal flap is created with a microkeratome blade or a laser, allowing the surgeon to access and reshape underlying layers of corneal tissue.

Much better than I was explaining!

So how do they remove the epithelium during PRK? Like in the photo below. Kind of gross and utterly fascinating!

Yes, I shuddered at this point. The surgeon was taking away part of my baby's eye! Almost like skimming a sunny-side-up egg with your fork. Yeah, totally disgusting. I don't eat sunny-side-up eggs. I can only eat hard-boiled eyes or scrambled eggs due to images like this one.

My Liege took a picture of the laser performing its work, but at that point the screen is dark, so I’m not posting it.

With PRK, a contact lens-type “bandage” is placed over the eye so that regrowth can occur beneath the “bandage.” PRK surgery is more difficult to recover from. Indeed, E.S. spent all of Sunday with bags of frozen corn on his eyes. They were super light sensitive. On Monday, he was in great shape. His vision isn’t perfect yet. As the healing process occurs the vision keeps improving, reaching maximum potential between 3-6 months.

Yesterday, the “bandage” contact lenses came off. The local optometrist who has been working in conjunction with the eye surgeon says E.S. is now “borderline” for driving, which is excellent! We return in a couple of days and hope to have more good news then. If all is fine, his next follow-up appointment will fall at the one-month point.

Wish him a speedy recovery! Now, go find something Christmasy to do—and no complaints about the topic of this blog. Because it’s not as if I didn’t warn you.

The surgery was E.S.’s university graduation gift. Both our kids inherited my lousy eyesight and M.L.’s…charmingly crooked smile. So both have had to endure glasses and braces during school. We promised them that if they went to university and actually graduated, we’d gift them with amazing vision. Darn kids (at least the first one so far) took us at our word.

Five Years

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Today is the fifth anniversary of my grandfather’s death. He lived to 106, so his memory has pretty much stuck like glue. Plus, he was pretty amazing (anecdotes and pictures about his life can be found on my Q&A page—scroll down to the second question). My grandmother, his wife, was amazing, too. She lived to nearly 89, dying at 88 a month short of her birthday while I was pregnant with Youngest Son. Her funeral was on Eldest Son’s 2nd birthday. Which means she died in 1990. Kind of hard to forget attending your grandmother’s funeral on your son’s birthday.

“Granny and Grampa” were an incredible couple. I grew up (1) down the road from them until I was 5; and then (2) next door to them until I left home. Grampa was pretty stubborn, so he needed a strong woman as his mate. And Clara E. Sigalet Procter was about as strong as they came. Not to mention beautiful. Here’s their wedding portrait:

They eloped in 1924 or 1925. And were married around 60 years. That I remember because they held a huge square dance for their anniversary, and as the evening ended Grampa joined the grandchildren in drinking out of the punchbowl.

I can’t remember what the E. in Granny’s middle name stood for. She hated the name, so rarely divulged it.

Grampa didn’t have a middle name. He was just William Procter, nicknamed Duke, son of William George Procter and Hannah Fry Procter of “Mable Lake” in B.C., Canada.

R.I.P. Grampa. R.I.P. “Granny Next Door.”

I still miss them both.