Thanks for dropping by my niche in the universe.

I write contemporary romance. Building families--one romance at a time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

High Cholesterol

Late this summer I found out my cholesterol was high, scary high. 281. I’m a healthy eater, I could stand to lose ten pounds but I did exercise two to three times a week. Unfortunately, my father had high cholesterol and died of a heart ache at 72. Darn those genetics.
Once I got over the shock and scheduled an appointment with an Internist, I started to research the problem.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver and found in foods from animals such as dairy products, eggs and meat. Our bodies need some cholesterol to function, but too much can cause a problem. When too much cholesterol is present, it may form plaque that adheres to the walls of the arteries leading to the heart. This build up causes atherosclerosis which can leave to heart disease.
What to do?
I started eating oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal is a full of soluble fiber which has been shown to lower LDL levels -- LDL is the bad cholesterol. I also tried to have a glass a red wine at night.
By my first visit with the Internal Medicine physician, my total cholesterol had dropped to 267. The HDL – the good cholesterol still stayed on the high side at 69.
The initial reaction by the doctor was to put me on a statin to reduce my cholesterol. Unfortunately, once on a statin medication, I would be on it for the rest of my life.

The most common statin side effects include:
· headache
· difficulty sleeping
· flushing of the skin
· muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness
· drowsiness/ weakness
· dizziness
· nausea and/or vomiting
· abdominal cramping and/or pain
· bloating and/or gas
· diarrhea
· constipation
· rash
So my doctor and I agreed on a three month trial. Instead of drugs, there are three facets to the changes I am making in my life.
1. High fiber diet 20 to 25 grams of fiber each day
2. 30 minutes of exercise each day
3. Lose ten pounds
My doctor suggested using the website www.sparkpeople.com. I’m loving this website. It helps me track everything I eat and my exercise and tracks fiber content also.
So – knowing that a goal needs to be written down, measurable, specific and achievable, I am going to blog about my journey to lower my cholesterol through behavior and diet modification.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Charles J. Sykes – Rules Kids Won't Learn in School

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. This was on a friend’s Wall on Facebook. Apparently this list has been attributed to Bill Gates since 2000 – but it was originally written by Charles J Sykes as an op-ed piece -- 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School. (Pays to research before you publish) The rules resonated with me today.

How many years does it take for people to understand these basic principles of life?

I think all politicians need to memorize these 11 rules.

Charles J Sykes: Rules your kids did not and will not learn in school

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The things I learned in business and how they apply to writing

I wasn't always an aspiring writer. Until my second year of college I was an aspiring actress. Burned out from the grind of performing in 50 productions, I turned my sights to business, specifically accounting. I climbed the corporate ladder in a railroad, group medical practice and a pharmaceutical company, and attained the top of the Finance positions -- VP and CFO. I was used to working 60 to 70 hours a week, surviving on minimal sleep and juggling all the balls in my life with a husband and 5 kids. When the last company I worked for was purchased, and it gave me the chance to do what I was passionate about – Write.

For most of my life I've been a closet writer. Commuting hours were spent developing plots. For years, I never told my family why I kept my laptop next to my bed. I actually dictated an entire book while commuting and could barely keep up with the transcribing.

I learned a lot in the corporate structure that has helped me pour my passion in writing. I thought I would share some of my thoughts today.

Make a plan

  • Define your long-term goal


For me the ultimate goal is publication. Once you know your goal, you need to define the steps or short-terms goals in order to actualize your goal. You can either work forwards or backwards. Let's work forwards.


  • Complete your manuscript
  • Make it shine

Completing the manuscript was never a problem for me. I have almost ten first drafts sitting around. (The head-hopping in the first books makes my heart ache.) I also spend one week a month on new WIPs through Book-in-a-Week . The remainder of the month I revise and edit completed manuscripts.

Making my books shine is a problem. So I took local writing classes and joined MFW - my local RWA chapter. I take on-line courses. My bookshelves hold half-read craft books. (Come on – you think their boring too.) I've found great critique partners who have helped hone my craft. I think they like to read craft books more than I do!

  • Test the waters

I am a contest junkie. I've gotten great – and not so great – feedback from contest judges. If I agree with the comments, I make changes.

  • Take Risks -- Expose yourself to possible rejection

Initially, I only submitted partials when requested through a contest. Now, with the 2010 Golden Heart Finalist in my credentials, I've begun querying both agents and editors.

I also submit to on-line or conference critiques. This netted me a manuscript request through the Golden Network Retreat. You just never know when the door to opportunity will open.

  • Make a professional impression

Dress for success and work the conferences. I'm an outgoing person, but sometimes I love anonymity. You can't fade into the crowd at conferences. You are working. In Orlando, I introduced myself to every person who had a partial or full manuscript in their offices. Hopefully, I made a positive impression.

  • Writing is a business – suck it up

Rejection isn't fun, but it is part of our world. Don't let it get you down. They are not rejecting you as a person – just your book. As much as it hurts, you need to have really thick skin. Everyone will not like your writing style, or plot or characters. You need to find that one person who can be your advocate.

I visualize myself one day standing at a podium holding up a stack of rejections and saying "I got published. You can to."

Writing isn't easy. It's a job and one that I sit down to 7 days a week. I keep a spreadsheet (yes – number crunching is in my blood) to track how much time I really spend writing. This does not include checking email or the loops.

In both business and writing, putting in the hours to learn your craft, polish and be professional should pay off. I'm hoping so at least!

What life lessons have helped you with your writing career?

Originally published at Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Blog

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Susan Sey – Money, Honey

What an incredible debut novel. Susan Sey delivers a fast-paced tale that kept me turning the pages. When I was done, I greedily read the teaser of her second book Money Shot and can't wait for Goose's story.

I fell in love with Patrick, the gorgeous, flawed thief. He's a fallen angel and you're never exactly sure he's reformed. Liz the hard-working, formidable FBI agent grudgingly agrees to work with him on a counterfeiting case, but she refused to follow his agenda. Patrick wants her in bed.

Until they can show each other their weaknesses, they won't be whole.

She looked up at him, and he realized he'd miscalculated, badly. Because her eyes weren't snapping with temper, as he'd intended. Instead they were a dark, serious blue, and he fell helplessly into them. He didn't move, couldn't move, as she reached with slow, deliberate intent and threaded her fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck. She laid her lips against his with a sweetness that all but shattered his heart. It certainly cracked his control.

When she drew back, he tried to breathe again but found that his lungs had gone temporarily off the job. He stared at her. God how did she do that? Make each kiss an unexpected revelation.

Sey's imagery is elegant and her pacing, faultless. I'll be first in line when the second book hits the bookstore.

Friday, July 9, 2010

STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova

It's not hard to see why this book won so many awards. In her debut novel, Lisa Genova thrills and horrifies us with her tale of a brilliant 50-year woman diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

Alice is in the prime of her life, a Harvard professor of psycholinquistics. Even her exalted position in academia cannot keep her from falling prey to a disease that has no cure. From diagnosis to the time when Alice can no longer identify her children is too short. I cringed when she developed labels for the people in her life. It is heartbreaking to read Alice identify her daughters as 'the mother' and 'the actress' and her husband as the 'nice man who saved her'. I shed tears as this vibrant woman lost her memories and her ability to function in our fast paced world.

Ms. Genova portrays the fear and confusion of the Alzheimer patient as if she had experienced these symptoms. As a reader you feel the terror of being lost, of not being able to comprehend the words on the page, and the frustration of an unfulfilled suicide pact with her former self.

To lose the ability to read, converse and remember are terrifying to me. This is life at its essence.

I can't wait for Ms. Genova next book on Attention Deficit Disorder coming in January 2011 from Pocket Books. Should be another gut-wrenching story.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Christina Dodd – Some Enchanted Evening

One of the many things I love about writers' conferences is the number of free books you receive. Through these piles of books, I've discovered authors and genres I wouldn't pick up walking through a bookstore. The authors hook me on their storytelling and then I buy their backlist. What do you know – free books work to build an audience! Buying the backlist is even easier now that I have my Nook. I love the fact that I can purchase books that are out of print and the author will still get a royalty. I no longer have to buy the backlists through second hand bookstores.

To my delight, the 2010 WisRWA conference goodie bag included Christina Dodd's Some Enchanted Evening. I've read the book, more than once, but couldn't wait for a new introduction to the lost princesses.

I'm thrilled to say, the magic hasn't worn off. I keep trying to read books as an author, analyzing each plot twist and motivation. Unfortunately, I become too engrossed in the story. Although I can now identify the sub-plots before Clarice, one of the lost princesses of Beaumontagne, does, I still love going through her discovery. Clarice, surviving exile through her wits, knows she should stay away from the hero, but she can't.

The hero, Robert MacKenzie, the Earl of Hepburn, is a wonderfully complicated alpha male intent on justice. As with most men, his focus hasn't allowed him to see beyond his goal. He doesn't notice what is happening in his own family. Princess Clarice opens his eyes and his heart and helps him achieve justice.

An added joy are the quotes at the beginning of each chapter -- little tidbits of wisdom from the old men of Freya Crags or the Dowager Queen of Beaumontagne.

I can't wait to find the next two books, buried somewhere on my library shelves, and follow Princesses Amy and Sorcha's journeys.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Janet Evanovich's -- How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author

I just read Janet Evanovich’s How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author over Memorial weekend. A three to four hour read, I really enjoyed the book. While I may have read all of the writing hints before, Evanovich kept me interested by dropping in examples from the Stephanie Plum series.
I’m a great fan of the Plum series. Some of the few times I laugh aloud reading is when Stephanie has once again blown up a car.
What struck me as interesting was how Evanovich’s voice came through. I saw her give the opening speech at the National RWA Convention in 2009. She flung the Q&A cards around the stage, made fun of herself and kept the thousands in the audience laughing. She does this in her books, in her non-fiction writing and in person. Making you laugh at her characters and in some little part – yourself.
But what came through loud and strong is Janet’s perseverance and work ethic. It took ten years for Janet to publish her first book. She started as a romance writer (near and dear to my heart). When she decided to change genres, she took a year off and researched. Some might not deem buying beers for policemen as research, but it seems to have worked.
What did I pick up from the book besides chuckling?
· Ten years to publish.
· Perseverance.
· Writing is a job.
· Use active interesting verbs.
· Writing is a family endeavor for the Evanovichs.
· She has both a parrot and a trend mill in her office.
· Write ever day – even a sentence, or a paragraph, better yet a page, even better -- ten pages.
· Stop polishing the first chapter of your completed manuscript. Write the next book.