Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bad Behavior at the Supermarket

Last night, the Hubster and I spent the day running errands and at around 5 pm, decided to pick up a few things from our local grocery store for dinner. The lines at the cash registers weren't crazy, just a bit busy, with about three customers waiting at each line and eight out of ten registers working. Hubster and I got in line behind another couple and waited, chatting without paying much attention. Until...

The couple in front of us started grumbling. It began with minor nonsense about the wait, but became more and more obnoxious. Apparently, the customer in front of them was having trouble with her payment and was forced to take some items off her bill.

These two graduated from grumbling to insulting and finally became loud. The woman shouted, "Aren't you going to open any more registers? I have an emergency at home and can't wait for people to get their act together." To which the husband replied (not as loud so only heard by those around them), "Yeah. We have an emergency. We gotta go home to eat dinner." And then they started laughing.

I could tell the woman at the front of the line was humiliated, and my heart went out to her. If I'd noticed the issue sooner, I might have offered to pay the difference (I found out from the cashier, it was only $13.00). 

My first reaction to the rudeness of that couple was to wish them the misfortune of being in that very same situation while someone publicly drew attention to them. Then, I reconsidered. I don't wish that scenario on anyone, no matter how much they need to learn to walk in someone else's shoes. 

Maybe what most people need is empathy.You don't have to have lived an unfortunate incident to connect with the people involved. What you need is a dose of humanity. To that couple in the supermarket yesterday, I hope you find it. Fast.


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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OMG! It's National Coffee Day!

All hail the magic bean juice. We honor thee for all you do to keep us sane, motivated, and energized. And best of all, there are places giving away your magnificence for free today. The only thing better would be a national holiday with the day off from work. But alas! Small steps, dear ones. Small steps.

So go, my friends! Head to your nearest pusher...umm, coffee, retail store...and partake of some caffeinated goodness. Do it for your heart, do it for your brain, do it for all the junkies out there like me. Join us. Come to the dark side. Literally.

Here are some links to help you get started:

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Little Slice of Heaven, Now Available Through Amazon Encore

Yes, today's the day. My Cinderella-in-a-pizzeria story is now part of Amazon's Encore program, geared to reintroduce readers to hidden gems they may have missed when they were first released.

A LITTLE SLICE OF HEAVEN was the second book I released, this time with The Wild Rose Press, and it's still one of my favorites. Gianna Randazzo is a kindergarten teacher, who goes back to work in the family's Italian restaurant after a humiliating breakup with her boyfriend. Accustomed to feeding the stray animals in the parking lot, she's unprepared for the homeless man who makes an appearance one blustery autumn evening. But Kyle Hayden isn't the typical homeless man. And when she has to face her past, he just might be the perfect Prince Charming at her side to make all her dreams come true.

You can find the digital version of A LITTLE SLICE OF HEAVEN at its new home at Amazon, currently on sale for $1.99. I hope you'll give it a try. It's as satisfying as a slice of pizza with the works!

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Weekend Movie Binge

Here in the States, it's Labor Day weekend, a time to celebrate the working man and woman, to thank those who fought for five-day work weeks, vacation and sick pay, and safety standards. Got some downtime? Why not watch (or rewatch) a great movie that celebrates the workplace and workers who made a difference (fictional or non)? Here's a list of some of my favorites (in no particular order--just how they popped into my head). Feel free to add your own.

1. North Country
2. Silkwood
3. Norma Rae
4. 9 to 5
5. Office Space
6. Baby Boom
7. Glengarry Glen Ross
8. Network
9. The Devil Wears Prada
10. Horrible Bosses
11. Broadcast News
12. Up in the Air
13. The China Syndrome
14. Mad Money
15. Roger & Me
16. Thank You for Smoking
17. Tucker: The Man and his Dream
18. Monsters, Inc.
19. His Girl Friday
20. Clerks

That should keep you on the couch for a day or two.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

"October" is a Finalist!

I'm so thrilled that REUNION IN OCTOBER, Book II of the Calendar Girls Series, is a finalist in the NJRW's Golden Leaf Contest for 2015. It is a great honor, especially when I see the list of other authors in my category. I admire them all so I don't envy the judges having to choose between them (though I envy they get to read all those books!)

To celebrate the good news, I'm going to give away several copies (one a week) in digital or paperback to readers who reply to my blog or Facebook posts until the big night, Friday, October 16, 2015 at the Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. *Fine print* Each week, beginning today, I'll use the generator to pull a winner. Winners will be notified and have 72 hours to claim their prize. If they do not get back to me within the specified time period, another winner will be chosen.

Meanwhile, here's a teaser from the book to whet your appetite:

On my second day in the hospital, I toyed with a lump of beige meat—chicken? Salisbury steak?—swimming in shiny-topped brown gravy. Dr. Stewart had ordered a low-fat, low-sodium, no-taste, and apparently, no-recognition diet for my stay here. For all I knew, this wasn’t meat at all, but some kind of tofu patty.
I’d pretty much given up identifying today’s lunch without a CSI team when a hesitant voice said, “Emily?”
Dropping my fork, I glanced up into the worried expression of Ambrose Chase peering from the foot of my snoring roommate’s bed. “Mr. Chase.” I waved him closer and rolled my bed tray with the unappetizing lunch out of the way. I had no intention of eating that slop anyway. “Come in. Please.”
“I won’t stay long,” he said, inching toward the visitor’s chair, but never making any move to sit. “I just wanted to be sure you were all right.” He stared at the floor. Either a stain on the linoleum fascinated him, or he couldn’t bring himself to make eye contact with me—a complete one-eighty from the guy I met yesterday who hammered me with research questions. “You…umm…had us all pretty worried.”
His obvious discomfort embarrassed me, and I wondered what I’d done at the library to make him so ill-at-ease now. Had I vomited on him? Wet my pants? Said something totally inappropriate before I hit the ground? Whatever had occurred, I’d have to try to smooth over the bumps with casual conversation. After all, Dr. Stewart said I owed this man my life. “Thanks for knowing what to do,” I said. “With the CPR, I mean.”
“Well, to be honest, I’ve…umm…I’ve never done CPR before. You got lucky. I’d just done the research for my book. I mean, like, an hour before you and I met in the library. I was doing all the compressions and stuff from memory. Once Miss Lydia got through to the 911 dispatcher, though, they talked me through the step-by-step. So, you see, you shouldn’t really thank me. Without the directions, I would’ve screwed up and made things worse for you, trust me.”
As I watched him shuffling his feet, staring at the walls, never making eye contact, I couldn’t tell if he had an inflated case of low self-esteem or false modesty. “Who was manning the calls over there?” I asked. “At the precinct, I mean. Rowena or Jake?”
“Jake, I guess. It was a man, so I’d say it was Jake, though I didn’t get a name.”
“Good.” I let out a relieved sigh and settled back against my pillow. “Rowena still needs to read the book to give the step-by-step.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”
“It can be. If you don’t know what to do off-script, you aren’t fully prepared for any possible eventuality. People in an emergency situation don’t have a book to go by, you know?”
He shrugged. “I guess.”
“Lemme put it this way.” I sat up again. “Suppose you’re in a case like what happened with you and me. I go down, you start CPR, based on what you remember, and by the time dispatch gets involved you’ve already screwed up one or two of the steps. Should Jake go back to Step One and make you start all over or should he know how to improvise?”
At last, my visitor sank into the chair beside my bed, his wide eyes and slack jaw showing how engaged he’d grown regarding our discussion. I probably awakened the writer in him. “Improvise, I suppose.”
I wagged an index finger. “Not necessarily. It all depends on what steps you’ve screwed up and how I’m responding to what you’ve done so far. Jake’s good at figuring things out on the fly. Rowena…” I shook my head. “…not so much.”
“And you? Are you a by-the-book-girl, or can you work off-script?”
“I’m somewhere in the middle,” I admitted with a rueful curl to my lip. “It all depends on the scenario. Of the three of us, Jake’s got the most experience. He was an Army corpsman. Did a lot of triage in the first Gulf War and has the nerves of steel to prove it. I, on the other hand, got my training here at home.”
“You were a soldier?”
I laughed. “God, no! I’m just a mom.”
“And a wife,” a woman’s voice said, followed by the click of heels on the floor and the entrance of my greatest nightmare.
My mother-in-law had arrived in her usual indomitable way--like an army tank in designer clothes and a fur-trimmed coat. 

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Contests Underway!

The birthday celebration continues. I've already mentioned my Goodreads giveaway (which ends on my birthday). If you haven't already entered, use the widget in the sidebar to get your name in there! ---------->

And, if you're friends with me on Facebook, you must have already entered my Name My Heroine's Cat Contest for a free book from my backlist. Or my Nobody's Darling cover kvetch contest. No? 

Well, here's your next chance. Today, let's give away an Amazon gift card to my faithful reviewers. Have you read any of my books and left a review? Post the link to the review either here or on Facebook. Reviews must be on Amazon, Goodreads, or B&N, and you'll be in the running for a $10 gift card. I'll give away two on Saturday.

Who's in? 

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's My Birthday Month!

From the time I first started dating him, my husband would celebrate his "birthday week" every year in April. 

My birthday is in August (the 20th for those of you considering shopping for me) and this year, I'm planning to celebrate all month long. How? By sharing with my friends and readers.

First up, I've got a Goodreads giveaway going on right now for the last book in the Afterlife Series, WAITING IN THE WINGS. I'm giving away five copies so be sure to jump in on this! You can enter the giveaway through my widget on the right sidebar. ---------->

As the month goes on, I'll be giving away all kinds of goodies, including books from RWA's National Conference, special gifts that make Long Island special, and gift cards to your favorite retailers.

What do you have to do? Comment here, add a review of any of my books you've read to Amazon (and let me know!), sign up to follow my blog on one of the two options available in the sidebar, or tag me on Facebook and/or Twitter in posts about my books, the giveaways, or my birthday. Help me get the word out. You could win big.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Let's Check In With My Health, Shall We?

So about six months ago, I posted a fairly long screed on my medical struggles, thanks to my treatment for Graves Disease and the long-term effects of doctors who wouldn't listen to me. You can find that post here, if you want to travel down that rocky Memory Lane.

How'm I doing these days? 

Thanks for asking!

I'm 1000 times better. I'm still not 100% normal (which, if I'm a thousand times better, gives you a pretty good clue how screwed up my body was!) but I'm getting there.

First and most important, I no longer suffer from fibromyalgia. Like, seriously, kids, I haven't had the slightest twinge in six months. And when I was first diagnosed with this insidious condition, I could barely move due to the constant pain. 

I'm calmer and more emotionally even-tempered. No more outbursts, no more bouts of depression I used to call "fugues," no more highs and lows. I smile, even when things suck. I can find the humor in the little things that go wrong and remain optimistic when the big things go wrong.

I've found my coffee intake (the only stimulant keeping me moving on a daily basis, thanks to my burned-out metabolism) dropped from six to eight cups a day, down to two--max.

My hair is no longer falling out and feels soft again. And take a look at my fingernails! 

This photo was taken yesterday. And yes, I know. I desperately need a manicure. Don't judge. I've got a wedding to attend this weekend so I'm waiting til Thursday to get 'em done. But look how long they are! Those aren't fakes--they're my real nails.

The biggest struggle is still the weight, but, I'm happy to announce that, as of this morning, I'm down ten pounds. This may not seem like a lot over six months, but when you consider that I have no metabolism left, it's a huge success. Over the last ten years, no diet or exercise plan (including Weight Watchers and the diet-pills-from-hell, Qsymia) has ever helped me lose more than four pounds in the same time span--weight I always put back on within days of losing it, regardless of my continuation in my goals. Even more important to me, I notice a difference in the way my clothes fit and the way I feel. 

It's a slow progression, thanks to the loss of thyroid function, but it's still progress. And in the meantime, I'm happier about my other improvements.

I'm still a work in progress, but the keyword there is *progress.*

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Friday, June 19, 2015

If You'll Pardon Me, I'm Going to Crawl Into a Romance Novel Now

The Afterlife Series
Available Now from Amazon

I'm often asked, "Why romance?" Why do I write them, why do I read them? I always say it's because anything can happen, but there's always a happily ever after in the end.

These last few months, the universe has thrown me a curve, and as I read my morning paper or watch the news, I discover new reasons to mourn and feel disappointed in humanity.

Then I pick up a romance or dive headfirst into my latest WIP, and somehow, the world warms up and I can smile again. 

Scoff if you want. Drink your scotch, sneer at the "others" who aren't faring as well, or blame someone else for the miseries around us. You have your way of coping. I have mine.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200

I'm stuck. Hopelessly, impossibly, irretrievably stuck. I'm working on a story and I've ripped it apart, pieced it back together, hated it, ripped it apart, pieced it back together, hated it, ripped it apart...

You get the idea.

So I'm taking a break. The book hasn't beaten me. Not by a long shot. But it's time to step back, spend some time replenishing my creative juices. I'll be reading, tossing things over, playing with scenarios, and strengthening my story-telling muscles.


I'll be back. Count on it..

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Oh, Goody. Mother's Day is Coming

Did you detect sarcasm in my title? Good for you. But it's not why you think.

Look, I get it. Moms do a lot for us. And it's nice to have a day to honor the women who gave us life, wiped our butts, sat up at night when we missed curfew, and loved us unconditionally.

What I don't get are the "experts" telling everyone what to buy their mom for Mother's Day. In the hour I've been awake this morning, I've seen people tell me "what Mom really wants" is a skin care system, an embroidered pillow, a set of retro glassware, a box of scented candles, new makeup, a calligraphy kit, jewelry from a major department store, and a card that says "Mom" signed by the artist.

Maybe it's me, but...


Wanna make me happy for Mother's Day? Here's a few things I'd like (and I bet a few other moms might agree):

Clean the house without being asked.

Make dinner (instead of breakfast in bed). Reservations don't count. And clean up afterward.

Planning to get flowers? Get plants and put them in the garden instead.

Write Mom a letter. Share memories of special times, pour out your heart, give her something she can read over and over and cherish each time.

Plan a Mom's day off. Not on Mother's Day. Spend that day with her (if she wants) or send her off on her own to do things she never has time for (whatever that may be). This includes watching little ones if necessary so she can truly enjoy her day.

If you don't live close, call. Not just on Sunday, but other times. Let her know you're thinking of her.  

Tell Mom you love her. Not just on Sunday, but every dang day.

Or you could always get her a book...

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Wanted: Reviewers, Readers, and Book Bloggers

Book III of the Afterlife Series is just about ready for release and I'm currently looking for readers who are willing to read and review an ARC. Honest reviews only, of course. I've got very thick skin. 

Here's the blurb: 

In the third and final installment of the award-winning Afterlife Series, she’s got nothing left to lose; he has everything to gain…

A longtime resident of the Afterlife, Xavia Donovan has vowed to do whatever it takes to get out of the realm of the dead and move on. She didn’t expect “whatever it takes” to mean counseling the baddest bad boy to cross her path—in life or death.  

On Earth, Osiris Cavanaugh spent lifetimes betraying his country, betraying his compatriots, and betraying the one person now assigned to help him become a better soul: Xavia.

With the help of an unusual child on Earth, they’ll conquer their pasts. But now that they’ve come together, will their futures tear them apart?

If you're interested in reading and reviewing this (or any of my books), please contact me for information.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

When Does Inspiration Become Theft?

Throughout time, all artists have been inspired by those who came before them. But when does the use of someone else's idea blur the line between "inspiration" and "theft?"

Note I'm not talking about plagiarism, which is a worse crime in the publishing world. In this post, I'm referring solely to the theft of ideas.  

Anyone in the publishing world will tell you, you can't copyright an idea. And there are many instances of synchronicity: when more than one artist releases a similar concept at the same time. Check out these movies, with similar plots, released in the same year. Remember Dante's Peak and Volcano? More recently, there was Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. How about No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits? Synchronicity does happen, and it's never intentional.

Many authors happily admit they first began writing when they read a particular story and thought they could do it better, or came up with a stronger idea based on it, or wanted to somehow pay homage to the characters or authors. When it's complimentary, this can be a wonderful honor. Look at the sudden influx of erotica novels that have some of the same elements as Fifty Shades of Grey, or the post-apocalyptic YA series like Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Uglies or Penryn and the End of Days. Ideas can always be twisted and rewritten into new settings, new sub-plots, new stories. That's what an inspired artist can freely create.

But there are times when an artist takes an idea or project, recreates it with little to no change to the original work, and never admits knowledge of the source material. Now, in many of these instances, the "inspired" artist doesn't really know or remember their inspiration. I would hope, when such a lapse is pointed out, the artist will have the grace to take responsibility. Case in point: In 1997, the Rolling Stones planned to release a single, "Anybody Seen My Baby" off their new album. When several people who previewed the song mentioned the similarity to kd Lang's hit, "Constant Craving," although the band didn't willfully copy the chorus from Lang, they opted to release a different single and gave Lang writing credit on the album. 

Sometimes, though, an artist intentionally copies another's work without permission, without giving credit, without admitting their inspiration came from some other source. In my mind, that's theft. If you're guilty of such a theft, it's never too late to admit your mistake and make amends to the victim. If not, well, eventually, karma will catch up to you.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Winter Blows...I Mean Blues

Anybody else tired of winter? I mean, here it is the first week in March and here in my hometown, we're gearing up for not one, but two (!) snowstorms over the next forty-eight hours. I still have the same snow reaching up to my mailbox that fell at the end of January. It's time for Old Man Winter to move on to that great nursing home in Antarctica. 

I miss seeing the blacktop on my driveway. 

I miss every other color but white.

I miss skirts and dresses.

I miss my feet being dry.

I miss blue skies.

I miss the sun, dammit!

Oh, spring, where are you?

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

It's Valentine's Day! Get Your Romance On!

Does it surprise you to know I'm a hopeless romantic? And today is the perfect day for me to share some of my favorite romantic lines from literature. These are the bits of perfection that make me sigh just thinking about them. 

Stuck for something romantic to write in your love's Valentine's Day card? Take some help from the pros. (Just be sure to credit them!)

1. "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

2. "I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that strange?" - William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

3. "Soul meets soul on lovers' lips." - Percy Bysse Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

4. "At his lips' touch, she blossomed for him like a flower, and the incarnation was complete." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

5. "It was love at first sight, at last sight, at ever and ever sight." - Vladamir Nabakov, Lolita

6. "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly and then all at once." - John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

7. "Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches." - William Goldman, The Princess Bride

8. "Love of man for woman, love of woman for man. That's the nature, the meaning, the best of life itself." - Zane Grey, Riders of the Purple Sage

9. "I don't want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want you." - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of the Island

10. "I see you everywhere, in the stars, in the river. To me, you're everything that exists, the reality of everything." - Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

And because I do happen to write romance, I thought I'd share a few of my own.

1. "With all my heart, for all our lifetimes, I forgive him!" - Eternally Yours

2. "I can’t fight the unknown. And Vivi, here’s the thing: you’re worth fighting for. So get ready. No matter what you meant by sending this to me, I’ll be coming for you." - Duping Cupid

3. "Love was a risk, a dare, a challenge that had to be overcome. Because, in the end, love was the greatest gift one person could offer another. It wasn’t to be taken lightly or abused. Love was meant to be cherished." - Charming for Mother's Day

4. “Put up with you? No, sweetheart. I told you. I intend to worship you. To discover your dreams one by one and spend my life making them come true.”- Nobody's Darling

5. "Any woman who claims to love me had better be ready to announce it in the Sunday New York Times. She should know how I feel about her without needing reassurance. She’ll want the world to know we’re together because that’s exactly what she’ll get from me." - Duet in September

Now, go forth and woo the one you love!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

RWA National: Are You Ready?

So I got my hotel confirmation about an hour ago. I'm guessing that makes it official: I'm booked for RWA's National Conference for this coming July.

It's an event I look forward to attending every year. The workshops, the Literacy Signing, the opportunity to meet authors who turn me into a squeeing fangirl, the chance to connect with old friends, the creative buzz, the books. 

Whether this is your first time or your fifty-first time, there's something for every romance writer to enjoy and learn from. Over the years, I've discovered so much about the business, the genre, and myself at each of these conferences. I can't wait to learn something new this year.

If you're going, look for me in the crowd. If not, stay tuned to my blog, FB, and Twitter for anecdotes, observations, and the usual sarcasm.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Like WEN, But Hate the Price? May I Suggest...

I've been a WEN user for years. I love the idea of cleansing my hair without the harsh sulfates that strip the natural oils. And WEN keeps my color strong for a good long time. But...

The price. 

Oh, the price. And the subscription packages. See, I really like the conditioning shampoo, the refresher mist, and the styling creme. But in order to get those three items, I have to buy the packages that include other items I don't use often. (Honestly, I have fourteen jars of deep conditioner. Fourteen!) And honestly, I've never liked any of the scents WEN had.

After a while, I just couldn't justify the cost vs. the waste. So I unsubscribed (a major pain in the butt because you have to do it via phone and the salespeople keep hassling you to hang on to the subscription) and began the search for something similar, but cheaper and more convenient. I started in my local beauty supply stores then moved on to the discount stores. I tried versions by Aveeno, L'Oreal, Organix, Paul Mitchell. Nothing seemed to give me the same results. Until I found...

...Wait for it...

ASIAM Coconut Cowash!

It's made with tangerine, coconut oil, and saw palmetto. It smells terrific and leaves my hair silky, shiny, and so soft. It's available at Amazon, but I've heard rumors you can also find it at your local Target or drug store. So, if you're interested, give it a shot. It's made a huge difference to my hair and my wallet.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

How Modern Medicine Almost Destroyed My Life and How I'm Finding My Way Back

Warning! Long post. But it could be worth the read for a lot of you.

Sometimes, doctors don't know best. 

Seventeen years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, a hyperthyroid disorder that, in my case, had become so acute, I was urged to undergo radioactive iodine therapy. After the therapy came years (no, decades) of specialists and pills and bizarre new ailments. From the start, I was deceived by the medical community.

I was told if I didn't immediately undergo the RAI therapy, I was at high risk for a stroke. And the only other treatment available for me would require me to take medication for the rest of my life. And because the dosage levels of this medication were inconsistent and fluctuated, I would have to be under constant supervision by an endocrinologist who would adjust my dosages according to my routine blood test results. What I wasn't told was that, after RAI therapy, I would still be on medication for the rest of my life (just a different medication.) And because the dosage levels of Synthroid were inconsistent and fluctuated, I would be under constant supervision by an endocrinologist who would adjust my dosages according to my routine blood test results.

But that's not all...

No one told me that after the procedure, I would have to quarantine myself from everyone in my household. I had a newborn at home and had to scramble to find someone to take him from us for a week. My laundry had to be done separately from the rest of the family's. I couldn't use the same silverware, dishes, and glassware, and all my things had to be washed separately. I had to watch my iodine intake. I'd suffer from excessive dry mouth. No one mentioned the need for dental care prior to the procedure or warned me that the teeth in my mouth might crack in half, due to radiation in my saliva.

I won't go into the details of the treatment itself. (Just picture someone in a lead suit handing you a pill in a lead container with six-foot long lead tongs and saying, "Here. Swallow this. But wait 'til I'm out of the room.") From the moment I was put on Synthroid, I complained to my various specialists that I honestly believed the thyroid medication was not working for me. And over the last seventeen years, my symptoms and complaints have been ignored or dismissed.  

Since the RAI treatment, I've had seven different endocrinologists. I've never remained on the same level of thyroid hormone for more than six months. I gained fifty pounds--weight I still struggle to lose and can't, no matter what diet I try or how often I go to the gym. I went through peri-menopause for thirteen years and dealt with excessive hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. I've battled with depression. I've suffered fibromyalgia and arthritis and constant pain that sometimes had me curled up on the bathroom floor, too debilitated to move. I have herniated discs and bursitis. My hair falls out at alarming rates. And TSH levels are considered within "normal range."

Two years ago, I finally said, "Enough. There has to be someone out there who can help me." I found a naturopath and, after reviewing my history, she agreed with me that the thyroid meds had not only not worked for me, they'd pretty much shut down my metabolism. My adrenal glands were overworked and underperforming. Big time. Don't believe me? Take a look at this chart:

These are my actual results. Start with the numbers. Column 1 are my numbers, column two are the normal ranges for each item. For example, in the morning, the normal range for cortisol levels is 13.0-24.0. What were mine? 5.7. During a typical day, the normal person has a cortisol sum of between 23.0 and 42.0. Mine was 11.9.

Let me repeat that: 11.9! Below normal by nearly half!

Numbers not your thing? Need a visual? Read the graph. The top line on the chart (with the triangle) is considered "high," the middle line with the diamond and circles is considered "low." Normal range would be a line somewhere between those two. The bottom line, with the Xs? Those are my results. What does this say? In essence, it says I'm already far below normal levels of adrenal function when I get up in the morning, and I'm slowly fading from that point on throughout the day, every day.

In other words, I was a walking zombie. And not the fun kind of fictional zombie. Clearly, I was right. And all those specialists were wrong. There was something seriously wacky going on with my thyroid meds. 

I started doing some online research, read several books on the subject (I highly recommend STOP THE THYROID MADNESS!I found out I was not the only one who'd fought with her endocrinologists, and my prolonged symptoms were actually quite common in others who'd undergone RAI and then been placed on Synthroid.

Time to take charge.

Together with my naturopath, my personal trainer at my gym, and a brand spankin' new endocrinologist who had an open mind, we developed a new health regimen for me. Bye-bye Synthroid. Hello, Thyroid Armour. Bye-bye dairy, sugar, and most (but not all) gluten. Hello, protein. Lots and lots of protein.

It's only been about six weeks, but I've already noticed the changes. The fibromyalgia is gone. Gone! I'm finding less hair on the floor after a shower. The nice me is back, and I smile a lot more. I sleep better, and I wake up refreshed. The weight's still an issue, but I have hope. I'm a work in progress. I'll know a little more next month when I go back for my follow-up with my endocrinologist.

Whether or not you're a thyroid patient, whether or not your symptoms and story are similar to mine, take note of the moral of the story. Doctors don't know everything. Doctors don't know your body the way you do. If your doctor won't listen to you and help you find answers, find another doctor! And keep looking until you find the right one for you.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why Do Some Books Take So Long to Write?

I've been working (off and on) on WAITING IN THE WINGS for almost a year now. I know there are readers saying, "Come on already! How long can it take to write a book?"

Depends on the book. Some books basically write themselves and can be completed in a few months. 

But the books in the Afterlife Series are not quite so easy. First of all, I'm working within a new world: the Afterlife. Know anyone who's ever been there who told you about it? Yeah, so there's that problem. I can't exactly pull up photos from a friend's vacation. Keeping that world accurate as I continue to visit the Afterlife is a challenge that requires my steel-trap memory and scads of notes.

Complicating that issue is the fact I'm working in different departments of the Afterlife: Bounty-hunting, Probation, and now, Children's Services.

Add in the emotional component. Suicide, cancer, death. These aren't exactly breezy topics to explore. They take a toll on a writer's psyche.

And there's one more thing. I take great pride in my books. Every word I write is chosen for a reason. I toy with scenes, stretch my imagination, and stray outside the box over and over again. I never want to be known as an author who "used to write amazing stuff, but now just phones it in."

All these things take time. I hope you'll be patient with me as I finish this story. 

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Where Have I Been? Do I Know How You've Worried?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The truth is...

...I'm writing. 

Sssh! Don't tell anyone. 

WAITING IN THE WINGS must be ready for editing by the middle of next month so I'm burning my fingertips to get to the finish line on time. To prove it to you, here's a sample of what I've added this week.

“What happened? Where’s Xavia?”

“With her Elder Counselor. Things between the two of you progressed faster than we’d like.”

How did she know? Was she watching him? The thought he was under constant surveillance prodded his temper. “What business is it of yours? It’s not like you give a shit about me. If you did, you wouldn’t have abandoned me when I needed you.”

She shook her head. “That’s not true. No one has abandoned you.”

“Oh? Then Sherman lied when he told me you were ‘unavailable’ to me?”

“I was with another student at the time.”

“Student?” He quirked a brow. “Is that what we are to you guys? ‘Cuz you’re so much smarter than us, right? Like we’re beneath you or something?”

“None of those things. You’re getting angry over inconsequential issues, Osiris.”

Yeah, he was. Because what just happened with Xavia scared the crap outta him. He’d only meant to hug her—to thank her for what she’d given him. But the instant he pulled her into his arms, his circuits went haywire, and he found his synapses absorbing hers. He’d never experienced anything remotely close to this sensation, this…soul-sucking. Not in any life on Earth or in all his time here. In that perfect moment, Xavia became a drug he couldn’t resist. The more he tasted her, the more euphoria he felt, and his hunger for her grew insatiable. He would’ve gobbled her up, leaving nothing but stray blips of wasted energy if Rafaela hadn’t intervened and yanked him into this meeting.

“I was unavailable due to my work with another like yourself,” she said, now yanking him back into their current conversation. “And you didn’t really need me since you found the answers you sought through Xavia. The interaction between you benefits you both in the long run. As to why we call you students, it is neither due to malice nor arrogance. We Elders consider you students of the universe. You are here to learn from your past mistakes, to grow wiser and more in tune with the grand plan of life, and to graduate—to move on—with the knowledge you’ve attained from your time here.”

Smooth talk, but he didn’t completely buy into her smokescreen. One big siren blared in his head. “Yeah? Then how come that Jenny broad is moving on before the rest of us? As far as I’m concerned, she’s nowhere near ready. What’d she do to get special privileges? Bring an apple for the teacher? If I suck up to you and the others, will I get to graduate faster, too?”

She shook her head. “Jenny is an unusual case. Like you, she’s a suicide. Thus, she arrived before we were ready for her. Had she lived to see her punishment through, she would have faced earthly justice. Much like you, by choosing to end her life precipitously, she must now face karmic justice—which, as you know—is a much harsher fate. Unlike you, however, she shows no signs of remorse for her actions. She requires intensive reprogramming.”

“Well, she seems to think she’s a temp. That she’s doing a quick stint in Children’s Services and then moving on.”

“She’s not wrong.”

He slammed a fist on the desk. “But that’s bullshit! She’s a fucking monster! You just said so yourself.”

Rafaela held up her index finger in a warning signal. “Be mindful of what you say, Osiris. You’re trying my patience.”

He let out an exasperated breath and spoke again, this time with more care. “Look, I understand why I’m here. And if you think I’m not ready yet, fine. But what about Xavia? She’s a good person. She definitely deserves to move on before Jenny Widmark, the spider-wife.”

“The what?”

“Spider-wife.” As soon as he repeated the phrase, he realized he’d screwed it up, but his priorities lay outside of words. “Whatever she called herself. You know what I mean. That bitch has no business moving on so quickly.”

“Yes, I do know what you mean. But do you?”


“I’m not sure you understand the term, ‘move on,’ as well as you think you do. Many souls arrive here because they’ve nowhere else to go at first. Some only stay for a short time, once we’ve ascertained they clearly do not belong in our realm. We do offer them an opportunity to prove that, perhaps, they can be rehabilitated, that they can learn from their past mistakes, and express true penitence. Sadly, Jenny Widmark is not a good candidate for our intervention at this time. And we want her far away from our more deserving students as quickly as possible. Therefore, she has already been transferred to another realm more suited to dealing with her particular vices.”

I hope you'll stay tuned for info on this book and other exciting things to come. I promise I'll try to be better about keeping you informed on my progress.

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