Monday, April 26, 2010

Our Health and Wellbeing

I've wanted to address this for a while, and I think I will today. Weight gain and getting rid of the extra pounds. We all want to live healthy and long lives, right? Weight gain is a problem for women more than men because they seem to be able to work it off easily. For us, it's the belly, the waist, thighs—you know what I'm talking about.

One of my favorite authors' pictures makes me just cringe when I think that she needs to address her weight and overall health. I'm not sure even from her blogs that this is an issue with her or not. But as writers, we don't have an option as to how we go about the writing. We need to sit down and write for hours at a time. But we so need to etch out time for exercise, even if it's a 20 minute walk.

I was never heavy when I was much younger, but as my twenties and thirties roared in, the pounds began to pile up—two, three or 5 pounds over the winter. When I was that age, I worked outdoors in the spring and summer and shed it. I didn't become way concerned about it until my 40's. The place where I worked, at the time, someone was always having a birthday and the cakes and so forth were brought in on a weekly bases. Sometimes more often. Thus you indulge because it's there. Extra pounds again piled on, and I did try to walk when the weather allowed it during the lunch break, but still the extra calories were there.

This winter I found myself over 150 pounds. I've never been this heavy in my life. I didn't like it, I felt uncomfortable, and at five-four, this wasn't a good thing. Not for my knees which I have been taking Flex-o-min for. Having gone through menopause a few years ago, I knew that weight was going to be my biggest problem. It's not flattering and I felt terrible. I was horrified when I was looking at size XL!

I determined I was having problems with munching on snacks too often. But I got hungry. Why? I guess it just got out of hand. The calories in snacks are the diet killers.

That's when my loving husband stepped in. While I was in my bath one afternoon, he picked up the phone an ordered something called “Smoothies” that had been advertised on TV in our area. He told me he had done this for me to help me reduce my cravings. And let's face it, the two things I do—my job as a writer, and as a bus driver—I'm required to sit for the majority of the time. When I'm writing, this is a mental past time, creatively speaking, and thus you aren't really aware of time passage. I have a clock on my desk top, but I don't watch it like I do while driving the bus. My bus routes are in increments of 30 min. and I constantly have to watch the clock and time my snacks accordingly. I usually get done with the route within 20-25 minutes which leaves me with a little bit of time to do whatever I need to do—which includes a snack.

I got the Smoothies in a week. One Smoothie was to replace a meal (2 per day—breakfast & lunch), and unlike the popular sugary diet drinks you get for this at the store, the Smoothies have something in it to hold your cravings down, has more protein in it, and less sugar, and were only 200 calories once I mixed it with Low Fat milk.

Then I was to make better, wiser choices in my snacks. Calorie-wise I found out that although the walnuts I was eating have Omega-3, one quarter cup is 200 calories! My smoothies, when I mixed with milk were at 200 calories. I was trying to keep my daily intake at the 2,000-calorie level, so that one snack had to go—plus a few others.

Since I wasn't that over weight, the weight loss was not dramatic. Actually this is a good thing. I've read that if you loose weight gradually, it will stay off. I began the 6-week Smoothie diet back in February. To this date I've lost ten pounds (and didn't have to buy any extra large clothing, thank goddess!) I'm still loosing about a pound every 7-10 days.

Once I got off the Smoothies I had to find something that would substitute my breakfast and lunch meals. The breakfast wasn't hard. I ate oatmeal, and sometimes strawberries, or I'd substitute “Egg Beaters” for the cereal, and that filled me along with a half cup of cottage cheese--2%.

I still needed snacks and so chose certain ones that I knew didn't have fructose or high fructose corn syrup in it. The horrible truth about why people are so overweight is because your body will not assimilate fructose to energy, but it stores as fat in your body.

I spend 7 hours on a bus driving college students around. The one big thing I'd noticed was obesity ran rampant. Why? Fructose has replaced sugar in pop and other snacks, in bread, cereal, and other products for years. It's only now coming out in the open as the worst thing you can eat. Avoid it like the plague, READ LABLES!!! Many products will state it on the front that they don't have it. Miracle Whip doesn't state it, but they have substituted it with sugar. Ketchup is another one with fructose in it. If you eat out a lot, try to at least lower the consumption of ketchup, and eliminate fries—they are bad for you. Eat a salad with grilled chicken—not deep-fried, and use salad dressing is at least low-fat.

If you eat yogurt be aware if it has any flavoring at all in it, it probably does have high fructose—I've yet to see more than a few that don't, especially with fruit. If they don't have the high fructose corn syrup, and have another substitute, be aware that you're still eating something that really isn't all that healthy for you. Eat plain yogurt if you want to get the benefits, add your own fruit, use a natural sugar substitute.

Once I got off the Smoothies I had to figure out what I could make for lunch. In my job I only have time for a quick sandwich. But one slice of bread is 100 calories. Then I found Bread Thins, or Deli Thins. They're small, thin, round buns, one is only 100 calories. I add cheese, turkey lunch meat, lettuce, tomato slices, and mayo. I might have something that ranges at 250-280 calories. But this is my lunch. My snacks are V-8 juice (8 oz.)--40 calories, celery, and carrot sticks, South Beach Living granola bars. The granola bars are 110 calories, and are my mid morning snack to keep me going while on the bus. I don't eat these while at home. After I get home I usually eat a banana. I've switched to skim milk as it's only 80 calories per cup.

Of course you have to lighten up and have one thing you know you will crave. I allow myself one—only one per day—piece of dark chocolate that comes in a wrapper. These are right around 30 calories. It's my one indulgence. I do still enjoy 2 glasses of wine at night, and this hasn't hampered my weight loss any, as far as I can determine.

We writers are so busy with our writing, and lives on the side, that it get difficult to get into a work-out program, but I think we can make wise choices in the foods we eat, at least. We deserve it, and I think we'd like to be around a while for our children, spouses—and yes, our fans!

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's In the Mail . . .

Seems like the mail (regular and e-mail) can bring us some good stuff now and then. I think my week has given me some excitement in that field.

On Thursday my husband and I got home to find a package on our porch, and it was the books I had won from over at VampChix. I had learned that she was sending me 4 books.

I was wrong. It was 5. Michele Hauf had included her own, just released paperback novel--autographed copy, no less--of Her Vampire Husband . That made the mailing extra special. I'll need to thank her, and as I began thinking of writing a nice personal note (see, I've got her mailing address, he,he), I then did the bonk-my-head-with-my-hand thing. Duh. Why not send her my book? She might even enjoy it, if nothing else. So, this is what I'll do.

Today, while in the throes of hating my Internet server, I got an e-mail from Crescent Moon Publishers. The editor said she'd thought I was going to send her the first chapter. Well, I guess I just read it all wrong from the site. The third paragraph on submissions says:

"If we're interested, we will send you an e-mail asking for the first chapter . . ."

Well, I guess I got the e-mail asking me, so I'll work on sending that out. since said editor told me when would be gone until May 4th, I guess I'll take my time getting the chapter as clean and presentable as I can, and check all margins, etc.

Meanwhile I'm reading two books now. One is Michele Hauf's book, of course (and I will give a review of it when I'm done), and the other one is Charlaine Harris' "Dead and Gone" and when I get done with hers I will give my summary of that book.

I'll probably post something later on in the weekend. That is if the weather isn't bumping us off the earth or something. Gonna get bad here at some point. This is a terrible storm and I wish for everyone to stay alert, and make sure to take shelter when weather conditions threaten.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring Cleaning for the Writer's Mind

I'd always enjoyed outdoor work, however this yard is so large, and the three catalpa trees really leave quite a mess on the ground. The hard-shelled beans that are over a foot and a half long, scatter all over. But I go at the whole thing with the idea that while I'm doing this mindless, muscle-challenging job, I can let my mind wander (unlike in my other job).

I've introduced a character in my second vampire novel named Bill. Sabrina, my heroine, has had her life turned upside down in the last book, what with working for vampires using her clairvoyant talents to find a murderer, only to have him ascend as a vampire, then come after her. She's had two master vampires and one regular vampire make romantic overtures toward her. One nearly kills her because of her “overly sweet” blood. She's dating a shape-shifter named Dante, but he is scion to one of the master vampires and when he realizes that things are moving along in ways that he can't compete with, he bows out—not exactly what Sabrina wanted, but they break up.

Sabrina is clearly upset, she has her cry, but needs to go shopping. She doesn't actually care what she looks like, but once she gets to the store she realizes she's scaring the customers and before the manager throws her out, she decides to at least put on some concealer and brush out her hair.

Now at least she can shop without driving people away from her because she no longer looks like someone gave her the keys to her padded cell, she grabs two pints of ice cream, a frozen pizza or two, and before she forgets, she grabs some milk and has to go and buy some cereal—her shifter ate her out of house and home, so she needs to have something in the morning (and not the usual diet of eggs, bacon, or ham etc. that had caused her to gain five pounds already!)

Bill has been asking her out, and she has refused because she was at the time dating Dante (and he was a dog for a while, and before that he'd been a mouse spying on the vampires who may have been behind all the murder and mayhem of the first book). Bill is grandson of the little old lady next door, Mrs. Bench, who also happens to be a witch and medium. She opened up a portal and allowed a magical ring to come through to be placed (magically) on Sabrina's finger. Sabrina is the one and only sibyl, and as the supernatural world is finding this out, she's the object of desire—the prophecy claims she must be mated to a master vampire. However, Bill, who is not a vampire, wants to claim her because he is actually the descendant of nephilim—who were the bi-product of fallen angels and human women mating.

When Sabrina tries to grab a box of cereal—of course on the very top shelf—and can't reach it, who is there but Bill.

Scanning the shelves filled with a million choices of cereals, trying to find one that wouldn't give me gas, yet sounded like something I'd actually enjoy with cold milk in the morning, I opted for a flake kind, instead of the granola kind. I was down to a blueberry crunch thing that boasted it could make me lose five pounds in two weeks—yeah, if that's all I ate—when I simply had to switch hands because the one holding the ice cream was nearly numb. Wish I could numb my emotions like my hand.

I set the milk down on the floor, and had to shift everything frozen into my left hand. Even with gloves on, the cold seeped through and began to numb my fingers. Spying the box of cereal I wanted on the very top shelf, I went up on tip-toes and stretched my right hand. Fingertips just touching the box, I tried to knock it closer to my grasp.

That's when another hand snagged it easily.
Startled, I gasped as I turned to the owner of the large, male hand. I stared into cool blue eyes and as recognition hit me, I found myself unable to utter anything intelligent for a full twenty seconds while he brought the box down, placed it into his cart, and then took the frozen things out of my hand and put them, and the milk in a corner of his cart as well.

“You do know that this store offers carts and baskets for the shopper's use for free, don't you?”

“B-Bill?” I said, my mouth trying to work again. It were as though I'd been holding the ice cream and pizza in my mouth instead. It took me a second or two to get his joke, and I found myself smiling. “Yeah, I-I, um, I didn't think about getting one.” Lame, Sabrina. Lame.

He stood there staring back at me. “By the way, you're welcome.”

“Oh,” I looked down and saw all my things were in his cart. He had a rotisserie chicken, some frozen vegetables a container of salt, bag of sugar and flour and some chocolate chip morsels. I was still suffering from a brain malfunction. “Uh, thanks.”

“Are you alright?” Will be after I snarf down the Chunky Monkey.

“Sure. I'm fine.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.” Didn't I seem sure? Maybe it was my hair, and unflattering jeans.
I caught his eyes gleaming, unblinking at me. He seemed to steal my breath away. He looked the antitheses to me; hair laying perfectly, shaven face, pants were pressed, and his sweater was brown, fading to ecru at the bottom. I thought I picked up that Mrs. Bench had knitted it for him.

“Are you ready to check out?” he asked, moving his cart around me because I hadn't moved. It were as though my feet were stuck in cement as I watched him push his cart around me and avoided a head-on with a lady on her cell phone.

“Uh, yeah.” I dodged the woman on her cell phone talking to her husband—he wanted some cereal, but he couldn't remember what kind—God, get a life!

I caught up with Bill heading for the checkout lane. He turned to me and made a gesture as he paused the cart before wedging it between the candy and magazine racks that funneled shoppers through the checkout.

“Lady's first,” he said.

“Oh, thanks,” I said and shuffled in front of the cart and began extracting my things out of his cart onto the conveyor belt. If I weren't so cleverly steeling gazes at his pecs underneath the sweater, and the bulge in his pants, I might not have dropped the Ben & Jerry's only to roll away from me. Face hot, I wasn't quick enough to dip and cage it before the woman who was slipping the cashier a check suddenly dipped down and picked it up.

“Oh, I love this stuff. I can eat a whole pint in one sitting,” she gasped, holding it out to me.

“Thanks,” I said as I took the almost mushy carton from her and set it down on the belt.

I heard a snicker and looked to see Bill hiding his face, the lengths of his wavy hair falling out of place as he bent over the cart's handle as he did.
“God, I'm glad I'm so entertaining,” I snarled, ignoring him. What was I doing checking him out, any way? I wanted to slap him. Hard.

“I'm sorry. Are you having a bad day?” he asked, trying to pull a serious face. Damn him and his arrogance.

“Yes. And if you don't mind, I don't wish to talk about it,” I snapped.

“Fine. We won't. I think there's plenty for us to talk about instead.”
. . . a few moments later, Sabrina takes her purchases out to her car . . .
I made my way out to the parking lot, hoping I could get my ice cream and pizza home before they became too mushy. Arms full, I remoted my car open. There wasn't a whole lot of room in my two-seater, but I set my ice cream and pizza on the floor, figuring I could run the air on it, to keep it cold. I had everything figured out, until I sprinted around the front and noticed the car was tilted at an angle. I looked down and saw I had a flat tire.

“You have a flat tire,” the voice made me turn to find Bill, once again, right there.

“Yeah, I see that,” I said and shoved my hand into my purse trying to locate my cell phone.

Bill did a deep knee bend to peer at the tire. “Oh, I see the problem. You ran over someones keys.”

I looked down to where he was pointing. A huge wad of keys were wedged into my tire.

“Shit,” I swore under my breath. “Shit!” I said more loudly an settled my purse on the hood of my car.

“What are you looking for?” Bill asked.

“My cell phone. I've got Road Side Assistance.” I let go a frustrated gasp. “I forgot my cell phone.” Unable to take much more I buried my face in my hands. This day sucks!

“Hey, Sabrina. This isn't a big deal,” Bill said.

I slanted my eyes to him, sucked air through my nose—which sounded filled with mucus, and so appealing. Hands on hips he stared back at me through his cool Oakley sunglasses. The sun glinted off his shades and his expensive large watch.

“What do you mean it isn't a big deal? My ice cream will melt by the time I get someone down here to change it.”

“I'll change it, and we'll put your ice cream and anything else into my car.” He turned hit his remote and a white Escalante honked, lights blinked on. It was a pretty nice looking vehicle and I really couldn't remember seeing it in Mrs. Bench's driveway.

“It might still melt,” I said, moving forward as he opened the back up.

“Not if I put it into the refrigerator.”

“The huh?” I said as he stepped aside and I saw him open up what looked like an ice chest, only I could see that it was a little more than that. I realized as he placed my ice cream, milk and the pizza that it was running off his car's electrical system.

“There,” he said, closing the lid. “Your things will be kept cold while I change the tire.” He pulled off his jacket and laid it inside the front seat.
I gaped at him. “You'll ruin your clothes,” I complained mildly.
He smiled at me with even, white teeth. “It'll be worth it. I haven't told you my price yet.”

Oh, crap.

“Why don't you have a seat inside my car while I work on this?”

I didn't argue. The wind was really chilly, and I had to stepped up onto the running board to ease into the all white interior. He had gadgets that I didn't know existed on a vehicle. More dials and hoopla than I'd seen in other cars.

The clank of a tire iron turned my attention to Bill's actions as he took out my spare—which was one of those generic things that was a few inches wider than a bicycle tire—and went to work on jacking the little car up. The Solstice looked quite humbled with a tire pulled off it, ten minutes later. Bill's motions keeping me more than entertained, especially since he'd pulled the sweater off and was down to a white tee with a V-neck. I was certainly getting my share of male upper body and bare arms that looked like he pumped iron. I noticed that a few other women who had parked nearby couldn't yank their eyes off Bill any more than I could, so I felt that it wasn't just me.

When finished, I had a wheel on my Solstice, but it looked ridiculous. Bill returned the jack and tire iron back inside my tiny trunk. He rolled my damaged tire to the back of his Escalante, lifted it inside, and shut the hatch.

Slapping the dirt from his hands he stepped back around as I slid out of his nice Cadillac.

“I've got a place in DeKalb I can take this to and they'll fix it right up.”

“Okay,” I said feeling my stomach somersault a little. “What do I owe you?”

“Lunch.”

“Lunch, huh?”

“My choice,” he added. “Tell you what. We'll get these groceries home, then, I'll drive us to the tire place, and while they fix it, we'll go to lunch. I know a nice place, just a block or so down from it.” So I would have to pay for lunch on top of getting the tire fixed. The tire, once fixed, would have to go back on the car. Somehow. I presumed he was willing to do this as well, but I couldn't ask at this point. He had gone to great trouble to help me. I would have been slightly suspicious that he'd deflated the tire, if it hadn't been for the wad of keys stuck into the tire.

I had no choice. He had my tire, and he'd changed the wheel so that I could at least get home. Plus, he had my ice cream. He drove a hard bargain.
Fifteen minutes later, I pulled into my drive with Bill pulling up behind me. I jogged back to retrieve my groceries from his cooler.

“I'll pick you up,” Bill said as he handed me my bags.

“Okay, give me a few minutes to change.”


“You? I'm the one who got dirty.”

“Right.” I lifted my hand in surrender and walked toward my house.

There were times when I felt that chance meetings were merely that, but this one had all the earmarks of someone messing with kismet. But then again, the keys in my tire proved beyond the shadow of the doubt that Bill could not have done this on purpose just to get me to go out with him. Unless he could jam a set of keys into a tire, I had no case. He'd won lunch fair and square.

On the way to town Bill tells her a little bit about himself. His parents live in Monaco, and his father is an ambassador. He's staying with Mrs. Bench for now, because he had to find her.

“So, she's your maternal grandmother?” I asked.

“Right.”

“And does your mother have magical abilities, too?”

“Actually, she did.”

“Did?”

“My father re-married. My birth mother died.”

“Oh. I'm sorry.” Da-a-mn. “So, you're name is Robert Gannon, your parents live in Europe, and your other name is Belphegon after some ancient society, or something. And you speak to Fallen Angels.”

I got the response I was hoping for. His shoulders tightened and he slipped a finger of his free hand between his even white teeth. Slipping it out, he said, “So, you've figured out that he was a Fallen Angel? How do you know this?”

“I'm not on the hot seat, today, you are.” I waited as he stopped at a light and we paused in action, inside as well as outside.

He let out a breath. “What do you know about the Fallen Ones?”

I shrugged. “I could probably find out on-line, but I'm not a computer geek, so enlighten me.”

“My father's line is progeny from the Fallen Angels.” He glanced over to take in my expression. I kept a blank look in place. The light changed and he made his left hand turn, heading into the larger town. “Our lineage have been on the look out for the sibyl.”

“And you've found me,” I said. “So, now what?”

He looked over at me. “You honestly don't know?”

“No.”

He sped around a semi in the left lane of a four-lane, eased up on the gas and we coasted through the derelict end of town. He ran a hand over his jaw. Nerves. Definitely. He let go a heavy sigh. “This isn't how it's supposed to go,” he said finally.

“What do you mean?”

“I'm trying to take you out. I'm trying to get to know you and you get to know me. I'm trying to date you, like any respectful guy would do.”

“Okay. So, you want to go out with me. Then what?”

“Well, you know,” he said, shrugging. “We date for a while, maybe a few months. I propose and we get married and have kids.”
I'm not sure if my eyes popped out, or if my mouth dropped to my lap, but something definitely went boing.

“Wow. You definitely don't know the intricacies of dating, do you?”

He glanced at me. “I'm sorry?”

“You just told me that you intend to ask me to marry you, have kids and settle down.”

“Right. That's how it's done. I assume that's the correct procedure, unless things have changed?”

“No. No. You've got it pretty well down. Although some people have been doing it backwards for a while.”

“How so?” he asked. He's kidding, right?

“Uh, some are having the kids and then getting married,” I said.

“Really?”

“Yeah. You sure you haven't been hiding in a cave for a few decades?”

“No. But, just so you know? I'm a virgin.”

I hit the window switch, let the window down, and leaned toward the opening to feel the cool air on my hot face. “How could you be a virgin?” I asked, gazing at him with renewed interest.

“I've been keeping myself for you.”

He turned into a tire shop. The conversation had stopped, and I sooo wanted to get back to it.
(end of chapter)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running With Scissors

My husband recalled a show in which Frasier (on "Cheers") said "I'm running with scissors, and I can eat chocolate whenever I want to, and nobody can stop me!" because he was free of his very pale, almost vampirish wife, Lilith (I just wonder who had come up with her character and why they had made her so pale and she spoke with that monotone voice, and was SOOOOOO controlling--like a vampire).

Anywhoooo, I had to e-mail Crescent Moon asking about not hearing from them after 4 weeks and found out--ho-ho-ho--that they'd never received my email to begin with.

I have a stupid phone modem, so it doesn't surprise me, but I told them when I do send this again, I'm going to do a follow up email. Which is something we should all do, I suppose, anyway. So, now I'll have to wait another 4 weeks!

But I have to admit I'd been biting my nails about whether what I'd sent them was good enough (this is my "I'm not good enough" syndrome). I had questioned myself again and again once it was "sent". Did I make any mistakes--the dumb ones I usually make because even when I'm careful I still make them.

So, when I'd learned that they'd not received this email with a query and my one page synopsis I groaned with relief. I'd changed one main thing in it, and after reviewing what I'd written for the synopsis, I felt it could have been written better. So, last night I worked on it, printed it out and worked on it until it looked like my 8th-grade English teacher had been scribbling with her red ink pen again--har har har.

Did I mention how much I loath writing synopsis? Especially 1-page synopsis. If I have to say something important and it goes to the second page why should I be penalized? I hate rules like that.

That's why I slapped the title to this post. I don't like rules. I guess I never have. I don't like people telling me I have to dress like them, or think like them, or talk like them, or live like them. I am my own person. I suppose it is the artist/writer in me. I'm a rogue. I never adhered to the styles of the times--and still don't. I wear what I feel comfortable in. I like to dress up, but I'm not going to try and look like some model (couldn't anyway--I mean who wants to look like they had their hair done with a blender? And make-up done with a palate knife. Plus, I'm not 100 pounds of skin and bones--all though I used to be and hated it.)

I got home today and it had gotten an amazing 80 degrees, and I just had to walk out to the park. I watched a red tail hawk glide out over the water, the geese were going nuts because I was about 100 yards away. I was just happy to get off the bus and go out where I could find a little solitude. I get sick of dealing with the public all day long. Don't get me wrong. I've made a lot of friends, and I talk to a bunch of the NIU students I drive home. but I've gotta just be alone when I'm done.

When I got back to the house all sweaty and pretty well spent, because it turned out to be a 45 min. walk, not a 20 min. one--I was ready for my nice hot bubble bath. I got out and heard my husband pop the cork to a new chilled bottle of Moscato, and I went out side and let the wind dry my hair and came back in, threw some ice in a glass poured my wine over it, put my feet up and listened to the end of the Cub's game--which they came back and won--and I was in my happy zone.

There's been times when I would rush home and have to get to my office and work on whatever it is I'm working on. Today, I just wanted to run with scissors and eat chocolate--I wanted to enjoy the moment. April has been good to us in the Midwest, lately. This is unreal. We usually have rain, if not still fighting to see 60 degrees.

Nope. Even though I'm looking at another possible 4 weeks of waiting for a publisher to get back to me, my summer is already mapped out. I'm driving 4 days, and will still be working on my second book. When moments strike me to just head off and do something different--not literally run with scissors--but just let my hair down and be myself, and enjoy the moment, by goddess, I'm going to.

Thank you Frasier, wherever you are.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I WON!

I never win anything. That's what I'd told Michelle Hauf at VampChix when I emailed her earlier today. I'm speaking about the contest--the 300th person to follow her blog was the contest, and my name is right there, when I opened the window to see what was going on. I couldn't believe my eyes.

I don't ever win contests. I don't get A's on tests. I don't pass go and collect $200but maybe . . . this is a turning point in my luck? Hope so. I could use it.

I'm not even sure what I've won. Whatever it might be--probably a book--I'm sure I'll enjoy it!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Day for Outdoor Work

This was the first week end day that wasn't raining, cold, or whatever inclement weather we've had for past 2 or 3 weeks. So, we got started on the clean up. I raked, my husband began picking up some large branches. He then got on the mower--a brand new one that the park bought, so, he got comfortable on it quickly--60" cut, a brand by Toro.

This old farm house has about 3-4 acres around it. There are maples in the front yard, one maple in the back (north) yard, and three large catalpa trees in the east section--which are no picnic picking up the 1 1/2 foot beans that fall every fall. We rake them and they get caught in the rake. But we get it done. This is for another day.

Today I raked under the large maple tree. I normally don't have to worry about raking these leaves as they get blown into the long grass that leads into the woods--which is a buffer zone between our yard and the park we take care of. But last fall we had early snow that stayed and the leaves stayed where they fell. Believe me, at the end of our season, we're beat. Taking care of a large park gets old by September, and my husband just wants to put the mower away for the year. And I'm usually into my writing zone and I don't have time to do much outdoor work.

But today was a nice day, save for the wind coming out of the southwest corner, carrying with it the stench from the hog factory, just a mile away. But, we worked for about 2 hours (I did, Dennis worked another hour, and came in after the mowing he wanted to do). Knowing I was going to do this type of physical work, I made the decision to get myself a burger and fries for lunch in town. I don't usually have this. Fries especially is off my list of things to eat. But, I've lost 14lbs, in the last 2 or so months, and I've slimmed way down and so, I thought I'd be able to work the burger and fries off. I'm sure that I did.

So, feeling achy, I've taken an early bath, an Advil and now will try and get something done this afternoon on the book. Still reading through first one, tweaking it here and there. Hoping to hear from publisher on Monday. If not, I'll bug them.

Looking forward to a grilled steak dinner tonight, and a glass of Moscato.

And I'm happy to see I'm getting visitors from all over the world on this blog. This is cool, I've had someone from Moscow visit my site just today. I've had 3 from England, one from Canada, and One from Poland, and a dozen from the U.S.! THANK YOU FOR DROPPIING BY! YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT IS WELCOMED!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It Was NOT a Full Moon, and yet . . .

I couldn't sleep.
The writer never really sleeps. I think we write in our sleep. Possibly, and I'm sure I'm right on this, the creative mind never really relaxes. This can be said of inventors on down through the chain of creative people, musicians, writers, artists, etc.
So, when I'm on to something that is a scene that has just burst into my head, and I'm thinking "yeah, that might be something. Now how will it go?" and I go to bed, I may not fall asleep right away, or maybe I do. But at some point I wake up and then the thought is there of this scene. I'll have the characters in my mind talking, going through motions. I see them just like a motion picture. I know all writers must have this trouble sleeping. Or, if they don't they wake up with it in their heads. I do this too.
A lost of times I have a problem to solve. It seems to be an unsolvable one, but if I just allow it to germinate in my head while I sleep, I wake up with this solution and it's as though I didn't even have to break a sweat. Well, I didn't.

So, when it's not a full moon, or even when it is, if I can't sleep, that's not good because I do have a job to go to. I drive transit bus. I've had two bad days--feeling crappy because of one lousy night. Last night I took two sleeping aides and I know I shouldn't have, and today I felt like crap all day.

Tonight I'm just going to go to bed and SLEEP.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Looking Forward

Last night we had a good old fashioned thunderstorm. This to me heralds in spring. Yesterday, my husband and I were able to open up a window and listen to the birds-- robins, red wings, and one male pheasant, making sounds that we didn't get to hear all winter. So here's to looking forward to spring, and say good bye to dull winter.

I'm a pagan and so don't celebrate Easter, but I celebrate life. This was why I named this post "Looking Forward". I think we all do too much looking backward, thinking we should have done this or that differently. Or memories pop up and you really don't want to remember that. I have memories hit me out of the blue that I have not thought about in ages. So, my motto this year is "Looking Forward". Looking forward means I'm working toward something I hope will work out for me in a publishing way. I don't know. I'm still unsure of my writing, I don't know if I can get past the laser eye of a publisher or not. I don't have the $$ to ask someone to edit for me. My husband--my biggest supporter any writer could have--tells me "Just write, and don't worry about what happens." I love that man.

My weekend was spent getting a jump start on Spring Cleaning. You know the cobwebs that tend to collect in places you just haven't touched, and moving furniture to get them behind it. Washed some windows and so forth. I wanted to get that done yesterday, so I could spend time writing today.

This morning I worked on a scene that was revolving in my head all night, and had to replace what I'd had from before. Before, my character "Bill" was an angel. Now, I've made him somewhat sinister. He's a Nephilim, and has designs on Sabrina.

Sabrina, my protagonist, is finding she's suddenly got too many male suitors--two of which are vampires, a werewolf has known her in his altered state, (while she was howling it up in her were-persona), and is found often camped out in her driveway on his Harley. But he doesn't appeal to her in his human state. But then, she's got the perfect boy friend, Dante who is a shifter. Currently, he's a dog. He shifted down to a mouse in order to spy, and now it's a difficult shift back up, and he's doing it in stages. The black lab thing was just too simple, since I've owned one, and a golden as well. (Love dogs.) Dante's usual animal is actually a black jaguar. He's pretty no matter what. He's also part Native American, and shaman. I packed a lot into his character, I needed him to become Sabrina's partner, friend and lover in the very first book.

The hard job of writing is getting the scenes in order. I like to write ideas out on note cards before I write too many of them. I get them all into an order and see how the story will flow. I then write out the chapters on note cards, label the chapter number above, and see where I'm at. I'm able to see when I'm at a midway point. The chapters usually tell me. Any where at about twelve through eighteen is the middle portion of the book--I'm figuring. Something huge has to happen in the middle, in order to avoid the dreaded story sag (and sag of interest). So I'm saving some stuff to go there.

The ending is a bit jumbled in my head right now, but I know where I'm going. I see the road, I try to keep on track and enjoy the views along the way. But I'm always looking forward.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Work on Vampire Trilogy Continues

I've been working on an area of my first book (Vampire Ascending), doing re-writes of places which explain my vampire's existence, and adding the fact that Sabrina is a sibyl--since it seems that this would work better than what I'd had. She's a touch clairvoyant, and I decided that she should be something extra special, so a sibyl is quite special. Especially if she is the last one. It helps the story, believe me.

I wanted to make that distinction in this first book so that there are no questions. Also, I have reinvented the explanation for the reason vampires exist, and incorporated their background story through certain Biblical applications and other texts such as Book of Enoch. I don't know if anyone else has ever made such a correlation between fallen angels and vampires, but I thought it was such a good idea I had to do this.

So what I've done is explained—in certain later chapters that the first vampires were once humans who were descendants of the fallen angels, or the nephilim while alive as humans. When they died “a violent death”, they were transformed into vampires. They woke up thirsting for human blood, and shunning the sun. I guess I'm going for a mirrored version of what happened to—what sources say happened—the fallen angels or the nephilim.

According to writings by Enoch, these fallen angels “were cast into a place of 'total darkness' in punishment.”

Some sources say that the nephilim were erased from the earth after the Great Flood, but others say they were bound 'in the valley of the earth until Judgment Day'. (Has that day come? No. So they are still out there, doing their thing.)


List of powers for my vampires:

*They don't lie in coffins, but sleep in beds. They call their sleep “regenerating” and in fact some can be up and awake during the day—usually the older ones.

*They DO have a mirror image

*They can move around very fast. Older ones can change into other creatures, mist, etc. The oldest ones can disappear completely and move with light speed to any destination.

*Those who were Christians in life are affected by the crucifix; it can burn them if they come into contact with one, or with silver, it will subdue their ability to thrall a victim, if held near the eyes.

*They also can't walk on hallowed/sacred ground.

*They can command all other creatures (including werewolves), but not demons—especially Ba'al Demons, whose blood is deadly to them, and the only way to kill a Ba'al Demon is to behead it--which would be difficult if you might be killed while doing it.

In my first book I establish that:
The modern vampires are all under the allegiance called Vampire Association—the American Vampire Association is split into two states: Eastern and Western: Erik Tremayne is magnate of the west—L.A. Bjorn Tremayne is magnate of the east—centered in Chicago.

The list goes on, but I'd rather point out that my plan is for a trilogy. I'm not sure what the trilogy will be called—maybe The Fallen Ones Trilogy. I don't know.

I need a name for my religious cult that has learned who Sabrina is, and what is about to happen, and are trying to kill her. Any ideas on this would be greatly appreciated, but I was thinking that Enoch should at least be used in the title. Something like Enoch's Militia?

In the second book there will be a mystic ring given to Sabrina, when a Fallen One crosses from the Darkness, into the light and gives Sabrina the prophecy. The ring is so that no vampire can put her under a thrall, and she can command demons. She is told that she is last of her kind and her seed must be continued, and that they've got someone in mind for her. It's up to her to decide if she's going to do this or not, but I'm going to make it difficult for her to say “no”.

All the while, Sabrina has no idea who these people are, that they are the angels who defied God and took wifes and were then cast down. She gradually will learn who they are, and the struggle will be to both defy them, and stay alive, since the relgious cult has been trying to kill her from the beginning.

Meanwhile she's trying to help her vampire masters with their inner power battles. As usual the vampires are blind to the face they are being manipulated into fighting amongst themselves by--who else? The Fallen Angels.

Sabrina is basically caught between a bunch of fighting factions, and she's unable to distance herself from them.

When I began this book, I merely wanted to begin writing a series similar to the ones I read. The more I got into this book, and the more I interesting things I found out about fallen angels, I had to see if I could use it in my books, and found that it wasn't too late to do so. I had thought of using an angel, but some of the plots were just too devious and rather nasty that I couldn't keep it as an angel. Naturally the fallen ones would fit much better into where I wanted this to go.

Still waiting for ebook publisher to reply to what I sent them. I'm hopeful.

Just My Crazy Side (Halloween)

Since I took care of business the other day about "Requiem" being out, I need to do my Halloween posts, starting with my visit to ...