Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Eye of the Dog

No, this isn't like the hair of the dog.  Although I've needed that more than a couple times.

My regular followers know we been trying for a couple weeks to save the eye of my poor Brandi, who developed an ulcerated cornea.  On Monday, our vet performed a surgery that I found so remarkable, I want to share it.  Note to the squeamish: I'm going to try not to get too graphic here but if hearing about surgeries and such turns you off, you might want to skip the next couple paragraphs. (Thanks, Maria.)

The ulcer has created a hole in the front surface of the eyeball which was being plugged from within by a very thin inner membrane. If that final membrane gave out, the fluid inside the eyeball would leak out and the eye would have to be removed.  Do keep that from happening, the vet created a flap graph from the membrane in the corner of her eye.  He pulled the flap over the center of the eye and stitched to the surface of the eyeball, covering the hole made by the ulcer.  The needle used for this suturing is the thickness of a human hair.  Then he closed her inner eyelid (the canine "third lid") and stiched it shut to protect the graph.

The graph will continue to receive a blood supply through the flap connection until it attaches itself to the surface of the eye.  If all goes well, it will become part of the surface of the eye and serve as a permanent patch over the hole. Once the orignal blood supply is no longer needed, the vet will snip away the flap part and the corner of the eye will heal on its own.  The sutures holding the eyelid shut come out in the couple weeks. The ones on the graph a couple weeks after that.

When everything has healed, we will see a small gray spot on Brandi's eye and she'll see a small shadow but other than that, she'll have her eye and her vision.  As I said, remarkable.

In the meantime, she's a one eye dog and it's got her pretty confused. She bangs her head into things on that side because she can't tell where they are.  I expect her to be adjusting right about the time the first stitches come out.

Now, as long as no one tells my husband what I paid for this little miracle, everything will be fine.

How about you?  Ever gone way above and beyond for an animal you loved?

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 111,618. (I'm at a dead stop here.  Muse is working fine, life keeps intruding.)

I'm currently enjoying: Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

Quote of the day: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” - Roger Caras

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Banned Book Week

Several of the blogs I follow have posted on this but I think it's worth another mention.  Please check out these excellent blogs on the subject: Terry's Place and Sierra Godfrey.

To me, the reasons against banning books are self-evident.  Freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas must not be controlled or denied.   If you disapprove of a book - don't read it.  That's your right.  If you find it objectionable and don't want you child to read it, don't let him/her.  As a parent, that is also your right.  But denying others access to that book because of your opinion?  Not right. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Are We Missing a Segment of Readers?

I was in my local Barnes and Noble today and I made an interesting discovery.  There is a distinct lack of books for sixth grade boys.  The "young readers" department stops at the grade five reading level and jumps directly to the "teen" or YA books.

My eldest grandson is eleven and in sixth grade.  He's in the advanced program at school and has no trouble with the YA reading level - he's read all the Twilight series and Patterson's Maximum Ride's - but the content or subject matter in the majority of the books I looked at today on the teen shelf were not geared to and/or not appropriate for his age.  Except for fantasy (Dragons or Vampires), there was a very small selection.

There seemed to be a larger selection for age eleven, sixth grade girls (I've got one of those, too).

Help me out here.  Is it just me?  Is my local B&N poorly stocked?  Or are we overlooking a segment of the reading public?  Does anyone have any good book recommendations for a jr. high level boy?

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 111,618. (Haven't had a chance to write yet the weekend.  Very frustratng.)

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished Weeding Out Trouble by Heather Webber  - Wish I had discovered the Nina Quinn series back in the day.  And I still haven't gotten it back to the library.  (Oh, the fines, the fines.)

Quote of the day: Where is human nature so weak as in a bookstore? - Henry Ward Beecher

Friday, September 24, 2010

O Hell, Is It Friday Already?

Oh, hell!  It's time for a Friday blog.  Friday always sneaks up on me because my grandson spends the night on Thursdays (how great is that?) so my evening is focused on him.

He had a tough homework assignment tomight. A sudoku puzzle using nine vocabulary words instead of numbers.  He asked for my help but I got stumped, too.  Then I came up with the bright idea of numbering the words, taking a fresh piece of paper and starting over using just the numbers.  Solved it that way.  Why is it easier to work a suduko with numbers instead of words?

I got this picture in an e-mail yesterday.  Cracked me up.

Got some good news at the vet this morning.  Based on Chance's chest x-ray, the vet revised his "how long does he have?" estimate from six months to a year.  And Brandi will be having surgery on Monday - but not to remove her eye.  Since it's lasted this long, they're going to try a surgical repair to save it.  Keep your fingers crossed for her.
My youngest granddaughter will turn nine tomorrow.  Hot item on her wish list...silly bands.  Can someone explain the attraction here?  These are rubber bands that the kids wear on their wrist that happen to go back into some shape when they take them off.  They're got sports shapes and animal shapes and stars and whatever.  And the kids are crazy about them.  Seriously.  I don't get it.
Really hoping I can work in some writing time this weekend.  I've got a re-write idea percolating and I need a chunk of time to play with it.

Friday....  I sure was planning to get a lot more stuff done this week.  Oh well.
I want to stick a serious note in here to my small band of followers.  I'm going to do my best to keep up with my blog and to read and comment on yours, but if I fall off a bit, please stay with me.  We moved my dear mum-in-law to a hospice facility this week and I'm dividing most of my time between work and being with her. 

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 111,618. (Sadly, unchanged from Wednesday but it should be better on Monday.)

I'm currently enjoying: Weeding Out Trouble by Heather Webber (Thought I'd get to finish it tonight but that dang suduko got in the way.  And, yup, it's still overdue at the library.) 

Quote of the day: Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.  -  H. G. Wells


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just Ramblin'

Okay, it's blogging day and I have no bright ideas so I'm gonna do a little ramblin'.

My STUPID cable box screwed up tonight and didn't record NCIS.  I was really looking forward to watching it.  Guess I'll have to catch it on line later.

Tried out two new shows so far.  Chase last night and Detroit 187 tonight.  Disappointed in Chase - sounded interesting but the dialog was lousy.  Detroit 187 I'll give another watch.  Have you seen any good new shows yet?

Brandi's eye is still hanging in there. (Now there's a mental image.) Next vet trip is Thursday morning. Got to take Chance, her adopted brother, on this trip, too. Re-check exam for his congestive heart failure. Someday we'll have to break it to him that he's sick. Those squirrels he treed this morning didn't seem to notice.

Don't you love this picture?  Look at the dog's eyes.  And, no, that's not Brandi and me.

I think I've come up with a way to trim some weight from my chubby WIP and heighten the suspense on one of the threads at the same time.  Have to play with it before I'll know for sure.  Wish me luck.

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Beautiful.  I miss you.

It was 92 here today.  Don't you wish pool closings were tied to the weather and not the calendar?

I should have paid more attention to that e-mail I got from the library a couple days ago. Now I've got a half dozen books overdue. And they're going to be more so because I'm not finished reading one of them yet.  Oh, well - a good read is worth a fine.

So, what's new wih you?

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 111,618.

I'm currently enjoying: Weeding Out Trouble by Heather Webber (Yes, this is an oldie and it's overdue at the library.  Sorry, Heather.)

Quote of the day: The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.  - Unknown

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Do I Hear an Echo?

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, whenever I find a book I really enjoy, that is part of a series, I like to go back and read all of that series in order. This means I sometimes read several books in the series back to back. I also have one of those strange memories that holds on to things like song lyrics, movie dialog, and passages of text.

One downside of this combination is noticing, and being bothered by, inconsistencies from one book to another. I always feel compelled to go back and check whether Great-Auntie’s name was really Mildred in book two but became Matilda in book five.

Recently I got caught up by something different. I was reading a series book and realized the author had used the same exact descriptions as in the previous book. Complete sentences or even short paragraphs were copied directly from one book to the next to describe a person, business, location, etc. I’m not sure why that bothered me but every time I came across one of those repeats it took me out of the story, just for a second.

Now I’m wondering…is this just me? Every series will have some of the same characters and locations from book to book so the descriptions of those characters and locations are going to be the same. But how much the same? Does an author have to find new ways to describe the same things in the latest story or is it perfectly acceptable to lift the descriptions from the last one.

What do you think?

Positive item for today: Brandi still has her eye. Not out of danger yet but every day that passes increases the chances we can save it.

Another positive: Very Quick Nine Year Old – my football player from a few posts ago - who was missing his season with a broken finger is back in the game. He was able to play both offense and defense today.

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 113,133. (Too much time spent in non-positive places this week.)

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen  (What shall I read next?  My TBR pile is calling.) 

Quote of the day: It is not so much the example of others we imitate as the reflection of ourselves in their eyes and the echo of ourselves in their words. - Eric Hoffer

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Gift Positive

Just when I'm struggling to come up with a positive for this post, I get a couple very nice gifts. 

In a comment on my last post, Elizabeth McKenzie told me she'd read and laughed out loud over one of the writing pieces I posted on my web site. Since the piece, "Hey, Mom", is supposed to be funny, this is a good thing. But even better, Elizabeth is the first person - outside of close personal pre-blog friends - to mention anything from my web site. I've been wondering if the site was going unread or if people were reading these pieces and withholding comment to be kind. So this was a big positive. Thanks, Elizabeth.

And this morning, Heather Webber sent me some information on a writing grant I might be eligible to try for. It blows me away how supportive authors (at least the ones I've met through their blogs) are of each other and how willing they are to give a leg up to a struggling unpublished.   Another great positive.  Thank you, Heather.

Do you have a positive to share today?  I'm trying to keep the positive energy flowing.

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 113,993. (Slow progress but still chuggin' away.)

I'm currently enjoying: Just starting Roast Mortem by Cleo Coyle.  My special autographed prize copy.  Another positive.

Quote of the day: Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William A. Ward

Monday, September 13, 2010

Positives Only, Please

I've got to go with short posts this week and, to balance my last post, I'm only posting positive items.

First positive:  My dog, Brandi, did NOT have surgery today.  (See last post for explanation.)  The medication we're using seems to be helping although the eye is still definitely at risk.  And the vet said, if she hangs on a little longer, he might be able to go with an alternate surgery that would allow her to keep the eye and most of her vision.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Second positive: I managed to get in one run over the weekend and had my best time this year (since I've started trying to run again).  5K at 10.75 min./mi.  Hey, it's not bad for an old lady.

Third positive: It's a beautiful day here.  Warm, sunny, with a hint of fall in the air.

So, do you have a positive today you can share?

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 114,961.  (Unfortunately, didn't have any writing time this weekend.  Hopefully, this week.)

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear.  Now my hand is hovering over my TBR pile.  What shall I grab next?  Choices!  Another positive.

Quote of the day: An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while the pessimist sees only the red stoplight. The truly wise person is colorblind. - Albert Schweitzer

Friday, September 10, 2010

Woe is Me

My tiny band of followers may have noticed a week’s gap between my last post and this one…especially after I opened my last one by announcing my posting goal of three times a week. Of course, I followed that comment with a sexy love scene so maybe not.

The truth is I’ve had a lousy week. The kind that makes you want to rant and scream. In fact, I’m really feeling the need to do a little ranting (my apologies to Stacy's Rantings and Whatnot for borrowing from her blog name). And it came to me – hey, I have a blog. I can rant, vent, whatever here; get it all out of my system, and get back to more important things. So here goes, and I promise I won’t make a habit of this.

Last Friday, we brought my mum-in-law home to her apartment from the nursing home where she was recovering from major surgery. She wanted very much to come home and we wanted her home so this was a good thing. Unfortunately, we had not come close to anticipating the level of care she was going to need. The minimum requirement for getting out of the nursing home – being able to walk on her walker – she met. But she is unable to get from a sitting position to a standing one so that she can use her walker. She is also unable to move around the kitchen well enough to get something to eat or to get in and out of bed. In other words, she’s pretty much helpless.

Now let me establish here that my mum-in-law is a dear. She is also a lady of fierce independence and personal dignity, so needing the level of help she requires is very difficult for her and I totally acknowledge that my griping about it is incredibly selfish.  But I'm doing it anyway.

Her first weekend home unfortunately coincided with an out of state golf tournament that my husband attends every year. He offered to skip it but I know how much he looks forward to it so I told him to go. And I spent my three day holiday weekend doing full time caregiver duty. On Tuesday, we began the juggling act between work and caregiving. It was a challenge but we worked it out. What we were having more trouble working out was what to do about the following week – which we were supposed to spend on vacation in Vegas (already paid for and non-refundable). Our backup support crew was standing by, but really not up to the level of care she needed. We decided to play it by ear and see what happened.

On Wednesday morning, I had to do an emergency vet run with our older dog, Brandi. A calcium deposit on the cornea of her right eye which we’d been treating for months had ulcerated and the eyeball was in danger of rupturing. The vet prescribed an assortment of medications but offered slim hope that he can save the eye. He said to bring her back on Friday and be prepared for surgery. This was the tipping point on the trip. On Wednesday night, we cancelled.

So here we are on Friday. I started the day at the vet. The ulceration is about the same so we're giving it a couple more days. I take her in on Monday morning, again prepared for surgery to remove the eye, if necessary. My mum-in-law still requires a high level of care – I put her to bed tonight and will be getting her up in the morning. We are not leaving tomorrow on our eagerly awaited vacation. I’ve lost my running schedule in there somewhere (I was doing a 5K 3 – 4 times a week). And I’ve allowed myself to seek solace from my old friend, the refrigerator, and have completely fallen off the diet wagon (did you hear the thud?). I’m also behind on my blogging - reading, commenting, and posting - and, more importantly, on my writing.

So there it is. Boo hoo. Woe is me. Alas and alack. Let me finish tearing my clothes and rubbing ashes in my hair and get on with things. No more whining, I promise. (Although, if anyone wants to offer me an “Aw, poor baby”, I wouldn’t mind.)

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 114,961.

I'm currently enjoying: Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Quote of the day: Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.  - Mark Twain

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Little Saturday Sex?

Very few of the blogs I follow do much on Saturday but I'm working on a goal of three posts a week and I've only done two so I'm slipping this one in.  This is an excerpt from my WIP, HUNTER'S WAY...just an encounter between my main character, Kiri Hunter, and the gorgeous Nick Cassetti. 

Kiri poured them each a glass of white wine and handed one to Nick. They drank, standing there by the kitchen counter, and they talked, but later Kiri could remember nothing that was said. The air around them was becoming charged until she could almost hear the crackle. Then Nick sat his empty glass on the counter.

“Kiri, put your glass down.”

“Why?” She knew why.

“Because I’m going to kiss you now.”

He was - she had to admit - an excellent kisser. His lips coaxing her response as his tongue lured hers into play. The kiss went on long enough to ignite several small fires in various parts of Kiri’s body before he pulled back. He turned away slightly, reaching for the wine bottle, while Kiri leaned against the counter, grateful for its support.

Nick had picked up the bottle and both glasses. “Don’t you think we’d be more comfortable on the couch?”

Oh yeah. Lots more comfortable. Well, at least he hadn’t suggested they head upstairs. Okay, enough of this nonsense. You know when to draw the line, Hunter, and you are well past it already.

“Yes, I suppose.”


They sat close together on the long leather sofa. Nick refilled their glasses and they each took a slow sip. Then he carefully removed the glass from her hand and set them both back on the low table. His face was close to hers but he let the moment draw out, let the anticipation build until he slipped one hand behind her neck and drew her lips to his.

Kiri’s hands slid up the front of his shirt and one found its way into his thick black hair. Those small fires began to flare dangerously and Kiri had to force herself to breath. Clever fingers were wandering over her throat, up and down her back, and – oh God – brushing over the taut nipple of one breast. She tried once more. Hunter, you don’t want to do this. You know you don’t want to do this. But she did. She really really did. She ran her hands over the firm muscles in his back, pulling him tighter against her. It had been so damn long. And he felt so good.

The ringing of the telephone was like an alarm clock, dragging her abruptly out of a fabulous dream.

Nick tried to save the moment, murmuring against her lips, “Don’t answer it.”

But Kiri was already pulling away.

So...would you have answered that phone?

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 116,912.

I'm currently enjoying: Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Quote of the day: If love is the answer, could you rephrase the question?  - Lily Tomlin

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Channeling Sammy Davis Jr.

Once upon a time, I worked for a small engineering company as a software developer. The company did OSHA required testing for businesses. I wrote the software that analyzed the test data and generated the required reports. All was well until the owner decided we should market the software. I wrote a bunch of new code, a user manual, and some sales material (believe me, writing fiction is a lot more fun) and we started doing demos. The software did what it was supposed to do (quite nicely, too) but inevitably someone would ask, “Does it do _________?” Now anyone in the software business will tell you the answer to that question is either, “Yes, let me show you,” or “Well, we can certainly add that as a custom feature for you. I’ll get you a quote on the additional cost.” My boss would say, “Oh, that’s a great idea, we’ll add that.” Of course, all these free modifications did two things: they made the original program slow and inefficient and they ate up the profit margin…which led to the end of their venture into software development and my employment with that company.

So what does all that have to do with anything? Well, I realized yesterday that I was doing exactly what my boss had done. I wrote a book. I was very pleased with it. My beta readers all loved it (with suggestions for editing, of course). I knew it was too long and I had to do some serious trimming but in general I thought it worked well. Like my original software program. I started editing and, about the same time, I started blogging and following a lot of writers’ blogs. I was getting a lot of great information and some very nice encouragement, but every time I read a piece of advice, or a ‘do this’ or a ‘don’t do that’, I went racing back to page one and started editing all over again. And then I came to a dead stop on POV (see previous blog).

I think the best piece of advice I’ve read lately was 'know the rules before you break them'. If I’ve managed to write a compelling story with engaging characters and a strong voice, I’ll take my chances with that. If I haven’t written a compelling story with engaging characters and a strong voice, all the obeyed rules in the world aren’t going to help. So I’ve decided to use the tips and advice that I’m picking up from a lot of great blogs (and other sources) as editing tools…to help me see possible problems and potential improvements. And I’m going to remember that if, what, and how I rewrite something is still up to me. And I’m going to stop wringing my hands and get back to work.

As Sammy said, I’ve Gotta Be Me.

Unwriting progress: From the original 150,000 words down to 117,302. Getting started again.

I'm currently enjoying: The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais

Quote of the day: Damn the torpedoes Full speed ahead - Admiral David Glasgow Farragut