Friday, August 1, 2014

I Am Not Supposed to Be Here

By Linda Rodriguez

I’m not supposed to be here—on the computer. Mainly because I have post-surgical lymphedema in my right arm and am supposed to be keeping it elevated constantly until my custom-made compression sleeve arrives. So, once I’ve posted this blog, I will be back in my living room with my arm lifted above the recliner arm by two fat bed pillows until it’s even with my shoulder.

I have discovered that I can write in longhand with great difficulty from this position, but I cannot operate a computer. So I am trying to write my novel-in-progress with pen and notepad. It’s slow going, but I’m happy with what I’m getting. 

That makes three things I didn’t know that I now do—that lymphedema exists, that there is such a thing as a compression sleeve, and that I can write, by hand at least, even with my arm stuck up in the air.

This has been a time for learning new things, so here are some others that I’ve learned recently, sometimes the hard way.

Your insurance company can dump your surgeon right before the operation, and you can be operated on by a complete stranger, who will then turn out to be a nightmare to deal with. And a corollary: If enough people all over the country raise enough fuss about a bad insurance decision that affects thousands, the insurance company will finally get its head out of its nether regions and do the right thing so that your second surgery can be with your actual, sweet, kind, understanding surgeon.

It does no good to tell phlebotomists that you have bad veins in your arms, and they should start out with your hands. They simply view that as a challenge and have to hit you an average of three times, leaving huge, painful bruises on your arms, before they give up and get the necessary blood from your hand.

Nurses are a divine gift to undeserving humans. (Seriously, people, treat those great nurses better! I don’t care how much you’re hurting. There’s no excuse for taking it out on a wonderful human being who’s trying very carefully to help you.)

There is such a medical doctor as a lymphedema specialist. Also, lymphedema educators. And occupational therapists who specialize in lymphedema. A whole medical industry for swollen limbs! And I’ve been referred to all of them, which will be extremely expensive, I’m certain.

Since I am not supposed to be here, I will not be online to respond to your comments, and I do beg your forgiveness for that. But of course, that gives you the option of really trolling me with hate-filled insults like “Linda has a fat arm that they’re going to put in an arm girdle” or “Look at all those track marks on Linda’s arms—she must be an absolute junkie and a bad aim with the needle, too.” I’ll never know. So have at it, pals.

Just, please, don’t tell my doctors I got on the computer to write and post this blog.

Monday, July 28, 2014

To sign or not to sign

I was talking with a friend about how when I first started on the reader/fan convention circuit, I created my own little black book filled with pages of authors and images of their books. I stood on line with all the other fans and gathered my autographs. I was in heaven.

The following year, again I had my black book and stood online, but this time, not as many as the authors that I was standing in
line for had become my friends and you really don’t ask your friends for their autograph. However, I wasn’t done because I got one autograph that I had to be gently coaxed into getting and that one made my day. My friend can tell this story better than I at my reaction.

The third year, I left my black book home because, once again, more and more authors have become my friends. The only time I stood in line for an autograph was when I had a book to be signed or it was an author that I longed to meet.

Now in my fifth year of attending this conference, I did stand on the line to say “hi” and get a picture with my friends. However, the coolest part was that someone came up to me and asked me to sign a page in their copy of the Malice Domestic's First 25 Years book. How cool was that?

So as I attend my next reader/fan convention, will I or will I not stand online for an autograph.

When was the last time you stood on a line for an autograph?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Twenty-One Days Does a Habit Make by Debra H. Goldstein

Twenty-one Days Does a Habit MakeExercise has always been an anathema to me. I hate the idea of glistening, smelling, or messing up my hair. My idea of joy tends to be sedentary: reading, writing, talking or watching a show. Unfortunately, recently I was forced to embrace the concept of exercise. I shuddered at the thought and then wondered if I should buy some cute clothing to make it palatable.I rejected the idea of spending a penny on something I knew would be a temporary activity. Instead, I went to a shoe sale at my favorite store that carries a wide selection of 6.5 Ns and spent my clothing budget on something I would enjoy. You may recall, in my earlier blogs, I have admitted my “I’m not going to buy anything” resolve slips for two things: shoes and books. Nothing I purchased resembled a sneaker. My logic was simple – why waste money on something that would soon be relegated to a back shelf. For twenty-one gym sessions, I groaned, made jokes, and thought about ways to avoid the treadmill, free weights, and recumbent bicycle, but on the twenty-second day something funny happened. I woke up looking forward to wasting my time at the gym. By the thirtieth day, a Sunday, I felt something was lacking when rain forced me to cancel my plans to take a long walk. Who would have thought I would be the poster child for “do something twenty-one times and you’ll develop a habit?” Not me. The reality is that I think exercise has become a habit. The problem is that it is encroaching on other elements in my life.Exercising and allowing for recovery from it cuts into my “hit and miss when the mood moves me” writing style. This type of writing style requires waiting for the muse to strike. There is no predictability of what project will be undertaken or when. Excuses and other activities leave few hours for writing, but there are even fewer available because of the amount of time taken up by exercising.What to do? The answer seems simple enough. If twenty-one days produced a desire to exercise consistently then, perhaps, the same method can be used to make my writing efforts more balanced.  I’m three days into the experiment and so far, I’ve finished a novel (keep your fingers crossed), wrote and submitted a short story, and tackled this blog. I don’t expect years of work habits to be discarded overnight, but I have a funny feeling that eighteen days from now I will be boasting two new habits. If so, expect me to report that I’ve bought a pair of real exercise pants (and maybe a new pair of sneakers) plus written something I’m pleased with. In the meantime, I’m curious. What have you done for twenty-one days that has resulted in a sustained new behavior? Do you think I’ll make it? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Case for It's

By Bethany Maines

Recently, I was ranting on Facebook about my hatred for the periods in a.m. and p.m as well as the comma between city and state in addresses (see what you miss by not being my Facebook friend?) and one of my friends posted a link to Weird Al Yankovic’s new song "Word Crimes.”  As a long time Weird Al enthusiast and a Facebook friend to several editors and writers I had already seen the video (click here if you haven’t).  The video parodies “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke’s insanely catchy hit from 2013.  If you haven’t heard that one, then you probably weren’t living in America all of last year, but here you go – Blurred Lines.  (Warning: may not be suitable for work and my cause you to get in arguments with your feminist friends over whether or not the song is “rape-y”.  Double Warning: If you use the word rape-y at me, I will smite you.)  But back to the story, as I watched the Weird Al version again (because why wouldn’t you?) I was caught by the line “You do not use “it’s” in this case!”

But why don’t we?  Yes, yes, the current rules state that “it’s” is a contraction.  “It” is not possessive; “it” cannot own anything.  But I say, “Listen up English – if you’re not going to provide me with a gender neutral pronoun, why can’t I use the defacto pronoun already in use in conversation – it?”  Clearly, the language is lacking such a word. English should stop being stuffy and allow this clearly needed possessive to enter the dictionary.  I’d willingly delete "tweep” from the Oxford-English Dictionary if I could have “it’s.”  Who’s with me?

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.