Saturday, February 25, 2017

Waiting Impatiently

March is only days away. Can you believe it? That means spring cleaning is coming up soon. I'm eager to roll up my sleeves and tear into it. My closets and bookshelves need major culling, and I want to do some painting and remodeling in the kitchen and dining room before the weather gets too hot. I just hope I have the energy to do all the things I want to do!

I went to the doctor on the 23rd. A standard visit to get my yearly meds for blood pressure and thyroid issues. The initial check up went well, and afterward, she sent me to the lab for routine panels, EKG, and urinalysis. That, too, went well... until the results came back.

My thyroid and potassium looked fine, and the EKG reading was tip top. My heart and lungs sound "fantastic", and my blood pressure reading was excellent as well. However, my white blood cell count is almost non-existent. It's below the lowest rung on their scale. My platelets are low, too, as well as my sodium level. I'm also vitamin deficient in just about everything including zinc, calcium, magnesium, B6, B12, and folate. My bilirubins are too high, and EOS as well. I guess some of that in there could explain the general fatigue I've been feeling?

I'll find out more on March 3rd, which is the soonest I could get a return appointment to go over my results. On top of the vitamin deficiencies, I noticed on my chart that the doctor mentioned my pallor. That was kind of sad for me to see. Realistically, I am naturally pale. In outdoor lighting, I'm vampire pale. No big deal. But I think maybe she's linking it to possible anemia, which I have had on and off in the past.

At any rate, my labs seem to point to possible anemia, and an underlying infection. I'm hoping it's nothing worse than that. I have a lymph node under my jaw that swells from time to time. My doctor's aware of it, and I've been to a couple of doctors and a specialist about it, but they've always written it off as allergies. But... Swollen lymphs paired with low wbc can be a bad sign. I guess we'll have to wait and see. I have a sneaking suspicion that my results are about to lead to more testing. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep busy so my mind doesn't get caught up in the waiting game. I'm not a patient person, and I'm terrible at waiting. lol  Not only am I waiting for lab results from my doctor (meh), I got a notice a couple days ago that my 23 & Me ancestry test is in the analysis stage. Woohoo! So I'm a little closer to seeing what kind of American mutt I am!

Well, I kind of already know my mutt status, since our families are pretty well documented through census, birth/marriage records, Dawes, etc. going back about six generations on Mom's side, and five generations back on Dad's side. Which is a good thing, since it should allow me to confirm what was going on in some branches of the family tree.

I've read online that the ancestry dna goes back only so far generation wise, then the results can no longer tell if the findings are linked to other people by family trait, or just random chance. (Don't quote me on that, though.) Waiting for the results of that testing is killing me! It's sort of like anticipating Christmas knowing that you have an awesome present you really wanted waiting for you under the tree.

My parents are eager to know more about the dna results as well. Mom especially, since the result will tell me more about my maternal line than my paternal. (Can't get dad's haplogroup from me, what with me being female and all.) Mom's side should be fun to see. That side of the fam is a spicy gumbo mix of all the things. Dad is pretty much a mix of Prussian, Northern European, and Jewish. Like I said, we're American mutts. lol  Since Mom & Dad have both stated they want to take the 23 & Me test, I'm going to order kits for their birthdays this year. In the end, it will be fun to connect all our results online and see what we can see!

As for writing, I've been working on two projects. One is in the pre-writing/early drafting/outlining & re-outlining stage. The formulative stuff before I sit down, dig in, and write the first draft start to finish. I have a few discovery scenes written for that one, but I'm still not totally sure about the first two scenes. I keep going back and forth between two potential opening scenes...both of them lead to the same second scene, so I may end up seeking out a couple of test readers for that one.

The other project is Chasing Moonlight. I'm still making editing passes through that one. The going is sooo slow, but I know it's almost there. 🐌🚦 Just when I think I'm finished with it, I find another thing to smooth out. Then I end up making another pass. Meh. But it shouldn't be much longer now before it's wrapped up and ready for uploading at Smashwords.

Alrighty, then. I'm out of time, so I'll leave it there. Here's to March, endless impatient waiting, and (hopefully) good news!  I'll post again when I know something for sure. Until next time, happy wishes! 💟


Ps. Today's graphic is Woman Writing a Letter clip art by SnipsAndClips, courtesy of OpenClipArt.org

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Candy Hearts Day


Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! 

There's a ton of stuff going on for me right now. I've been in the editing cave all week. I recently wrapped up the relaunch of Connection, which is now on Smashwords. I'm happy to have that one back on the shelf. I'm now a couple chapters into copy editing Chasing Moonlight.

Winter Break begins this Friday for MiniBeast, so I'll have a long editing weekend ahead of me - from Saturday through Tuesday - to wrap up the revision and reformatting job. I need to get this one out of the way so I can get crackin' on the next project.

At this very moment, there's a DNA test kit waiting to be sent off on my desk. It's one of the ancestry kits from 23 & Me. I already have an extensive family tree mapped out, but it should be interesting seeing the test results. I hope it will give me what percentages of American mutt I am.

I have no idea how long it takes to get results back, but I'm sure the whole family will be interested in seeing what's in the mix. I told Hubz a few days ago, before my kit arrived, I wanted to order one for my dad for his birthday. He's super interested in our geneaology, and with his DNA mapped, we'll know the family's - or rather, dad's - halpogroup. Exciting stuff!

One last thing before I close, I want to give a special shoutout to one of my favorite people on the planet, my godfather, Uncle AG. It's his 89th birthday! 🎉🎈Every year when Valentine's Day rolls around, he's always the first person I think of, so I'm sending him a big virtual hug, and many Happy Birthday wishes! 💟 

That's all for now. I have errands to run, so I better get going! xoxo  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Connection Relaunch

Cover by Faëdou
Connection, a sci-fi erotica short story that I previously published with Ellora's Cave, is now available at Smashwords in epub format for 99¢.

Gage Davenport is a cybernetic vampire, an AI designed to feed off various energy forms—mechanical, kinetic, and sexual. In charge of critical systems maintenance aboard the Stargazer Orbital Community, he's used to having unrestricted access to whatever his heart desires. 

Kiri Harmon loves that she and Gage can feel each other's pleasure during sex. It's those tantalizing moments when he slips his fangs into her neck ports that keep her coming back for more. From the start she knew Gage expected a no-strings attached relationship, the trouble is she never anticipated that his electrifying bite would grant him full access to her heart. 

Now that Gage knows her most closely guarded secret, Kiri can’t bring herself to face him. But Gage won't be denied. He has a secret, too. He’s found more than just sexual satisfaction with Kiri. He’s discovered the ultimate connection—and he intends to prove it once he’s back in her bed.

Connection was such a fun, flirty little story to write. If you like sci-fi fantasy erotica, and end up liking Connection, you might also like my short story How to Date an Android, which is also 99¢. It has a different tone and setting, but there is a similar sensuality and underlying theme.

As always, a disclaimer: this short story is written and intended only for adult readers over the age of 18, or whatever the appropriate age legal is for your part of the country. It contains graphic sexual scenes, language, and weird telepathic android-vampire naughtiness. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Cat's Meow

It's February, the month of love. Or in my case, the month of endless lovelorn cat serenades.

A couple of feral cats who live in the neighbor's barn like to drop by and eat food off our patio. (Along with the other neighbor's bloodhound, chickens, and pet pig, too. I'm not even kidding.)

The cats are usually not an issue since they typically run away whenever we go outside. We're able to pet only a couple of them, since most are very shy of humans.

Well, one of the female cats is currenly having her cycle. *ahem* And alllllll the boy cats in the neighborhood have joined the wandering romance opera troupe that has formed to sing her praises day and night. They like to sit on the ledge outside my office window and yowl to anyone who will listen. And trust me, it's impossible not to listen.

That being the case, I've taken my laptop to another end of the house to write, but I haven't exactly escaped the serenading.

Freddie Cat, our family cat who was initially a feral who decided he purrfered snuggles, ear scritches, and sleeping on the couch, has decided I need to hear his magnificent singing no matter where I go in the house. I guess he hears the TV in the bedroom, and knows I'm in there. At any rate, if I go into the bedroom, he sits out back by the AC and serenades me with the most pitiful, drunken-sounding cat meows.

Anyway, February 1st. Wow. 2017 is moving along at a rapid clip. It seems like the New Year was just a couple of days ago. Or maybe that's just me looking forward to calmer (and quieter) days ahead. Meow.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Moon, Fire Rooster Year, and Hubz's Birthday


All the things are happening. ALL of them. Chinese New Year (which I love), the new moon (new beginnings), and Hubz's birthday, which I would love to celebrate, but he's been kind of down about it, poor guy. For two weeks, I've been asking if he wants to do something special, but he's not feeling the celebratory vibe. Since it's his birthday, we'll play it by his rules...although, I'm going to talk him into us going on an outing and to dinner. We can do that without the bells and whistles, if he's game.

In general I think Hubz's mood reflects what a lot of people are feeling. There is this sort of mixed bag of energy in play right now, and everything feels unsettled. I hope the new moon brings the fresh start it traditionally (well, astrologically speaking) promises. We're all ready to turn a new page, I think. 2016 was such a crap year, and the tensions are still roiling from the election. In part, I blame the transition into a fire rooster year - all that fiery energy and "crowing" from all sides getting everyone riled up, chest puffed up, and strutting. I'm not speaking of anyone in particular, of course, but of the type of energy the sign tends to bring with it. In general, once things settle in and we all get securely nested into our comfort zones in 2017, the energy will flow more predictably, although there will be an increased risk of  easily "ruffling other people's feathers." I wish that wasn't the case, but it is what it is.

Moving on to other topics, lately I've spent most of my free time between playing on Pinterest and reading. Mini Beast is taking an after school class to try to salvage his math grades, so I have a few extra hours in the afternoons twice a week. Pinterest is a big distraction. I should probably try to resist falling into a time sink there, but I ocassionally get some good ideas out of it. I especially like that they have a secret board feature so I can play around with book ideas. What can I say except it's comforting to scroll and pin.

Toward the end of 2016, from about mid-December on, I have been struggling to get anything written. It's been a dramatic ebb and flow for me - the ability to sit and write. The well is just empty. I don't know how else to describe it. In December, I was in the middle of working on a project I was excited about, and then suddenly I found a thread of it that was "off", and from that point on it was like the rug was ripped out from under me. Or rather, it was like I was furiously trying to knit a sweater while some invisible force was unraveling the project from the bottom up. A horrible feeling. I couldn't figure out how to fix it, so I ended up zipping the file and dumping it in my cloud storage.

After that happened, I was left feeling creatively empty. I thought hard about retiring from writing, but even that wasn't working for me. If I thought retiring would make me happy, I would do it, but that's not the issue. Retiring wouldn't make me happy. Just thinking about it makes me feel worse. I do love to write...when the writing is good. This dry spell is what is killing me. So instead of doing anything rash, I decided to simply "sketch write" and binge read until the creative well is full again. Finally, the urge to "get it written" is coming around again - a welcome sign, I tell you that!

Speaking of writing, and books, and binge reading... I'm late to the party, that's nothing unusual, but I heard the Blaze line is ending at Harlequin in July this year. They're replacing it with a new sexy contemporary series with a more explicit tone and different set of tropes, etc. I'm just glad they aren't doing away with Blaze-ish stories altogether because I just discovered a new writer in that line. During my binge reading sessions, I ended up buying everything she has ever written for Harlequin, as well as elsewhere.

The thing is, in truth, I'm more of a Desire reader rather than Blaze, and it was the writer's voice and her characters that sold me on her stories, not so much the fact it was a hotter Blaze-ish romance. When I look at her writing versus what I've been reading from Harlequin, her style and tone is markedly different. I think that's what appealed to me more than anything. Her stories come across as "out of the box" within the realm of category series.

I'm just one person, though, so my opinion on that doesn't count for much. I do wonder what the new line will be like, and I'm crossing my fingers that it will blow my socks off.

While binge reading recently, I noticed a lot of core elements, popular tropes, and themes repeated in certain romances and erotic romance novels. On the whole, that's not a bad thing, not at all, but while in my current creative slump, if a story doesn't feel fresh to me in some way or the characters don't grab me right out the gate, I can't commit to them no matter how hard I try. And that's the thing with romance, part of its strength is that it's marketed based on tropes.

I can't count the number of books I've bought or KU'd from Amazon that I read through the first few chapters and did not finish. It's bad, y'all. I'm stuck in a serious rut, not only with writing, but with reading as well.

It makes me miss the early ebook days with shorter length paranormal romances in the 20-60k range. I probably read ten of those little books a week! It was an exciting new genre for me. I didn't just want to read it; I wanted to write it as well. Paranormal has waned in popularity since then, and I miss the gold rush phase: dozens of new books coming out every week. I know the genre hasn't vanished, but the stories have changed. Evolved, I guess, as genres tend to do.

I'm not even sure if it's the paranormal element I miss so much, or if maybe it's the experimental "new territory" vibe those books and the writing seemed to have,  or if it's just the excitement of waiting for the next big drop of  can't put 'em down books that I miss.

Whatever the case, I'm eagerly awaiting the next big book trends in 2017. I'm ready for there to be another Twilight, Fifty Shades, or Gone Girl - the emergence of exciting new book phenoms and genres, and the inevitable big tide of  "this is my crack" type books that comes on the heels of a popular book trend.

Alrighty, then. That's enough waffling for now. Chin up. Smile. Keep on chooglin'. It's a New Year, a new moon, and time for new experiences. I've officially put on my rose colored glasses and I'm marching onward to a tune from The Beach Boys. Their song lyrics are my motto for 2017:
"Don't worry, baby, everything will turn out alright." 💗

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Ringing in 2017

Happy New Year!  

I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready to put 2016 behind me and move forward into a fresh, new, better year. Woohoo! Let's do this thing.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful and prosperous 2017! #YearOfTheRooster

🐓🍸🎉🎈

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Song vs. The Look

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas and/or Hannukah. The guys and I spent it with my parents, which was a lot of fun. I didn't get as many pictures as I would've liked because everyone was busy moving around, stuffing their face, or whatnot. Half of what I took turned out blurry. (I was using my phone, bad on me.) However, I did get one that was kinda funny. Mom giving Dad "the look". 

There is this one Christmas song Dad sings every year, but we don't know where the heck the song came from or who originally recorded it. He deliberately sings it like he's had far too much to drink. Which I admit is freaking hilarious. My parents don't drink at all, so this makes mom more than a little annoyed when he starts in with "the song". 

She used to call him out when he would start up with this mess. You know, like mom's do - Sarah Jane! David Lee! You get the idea. It's your first and middle name said in a sharp warning. Dad would crack up laughing at this, and give it a rest...for a little while. Randomly, a short time later, just long enough for Mom to have gotten past the first offense, he'd start in with the song again. 

After forty years of this, Mom has given up calling him out. Instead, she has developed "the look". It's reserved specifically for whenever he sings that song. 

When Mom is kind and patient,
but also sick of  your crap.
Dad: Mischief managed. 
Image Left: Initially, she was looking directly at me and smiling for the picture, but then Dad started singing "the song". 

Photo opportunity: priceless.  

I remember my parents playing that song on the living room stereo when I was a kid. They had (still have) a huge collection of vinyl records, many of them Christmas related. Vintage Firestone albums, compilations, and such. 

Anyway, searches for the lyrics of this particular song online exist, but these lyrics sites all beg and borrow from each other, so there is no telling who originally posted the song. On every site the band is listed as One Hundred and 21, or The One Hundred and 21. However, I can't find any evidence that was the actual name of a band. Zero returns on search results for bands by that name. I have a hypothesis, though. It could be One Hundred and 21 is part of the name of a Christmas compilation album, like, "One Hundred and 21 Sounds of the Season"... or something like that. 

If you're reading this and happen know who the band is, or what album this song comes off of, leave a comment. For anyone not interested in clicking on the link above, the song goes... 'It's Christmas Time, and I'm all alone. I put up my tree beside the window. In hopes you'll see how much you mean to me. But I live far out in the country, down seldom used roads, far away from you." For years, I thought The Lettermen or The Beach Boys sang this song, but I can't find it on any of their albums! 

In recap, 2016 was a difficult year, but I'm happy to report Christmas was wonderful. After dad's scary battle with cancer and equally scary doctor visits and follow ups, he's hanging in there, happy and healthy and still mischievous enough to tease my mom. We're super blessed have him with us. I can't begin to express how grateful I am to still have my parents. While I recognize this everyday, it makes every holiday we have together that much sweeter. 

Now onward we go. 2017's on the horizon, and I'm crossing my fingers the New Year will be a welcome relief from the hardships of 2016, and a fresh start filled with bright prospects for everyone. ✌💗💋