We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Weblog Entry . . .
After a semi-wretched morning lugging records up and downstairs, I got two lovely surprises: finding a cache of old Iris Johansen books dirt cheap (I am guarding my source) and an unexpected visit from my oldest son. I'm sure you'll all excuse me if I take the night off to enjoy both. :)
I need a good laugh right now, and I bet you do, too. So here's
The Top Ten Least Romantic Lines of All Time
1. Don't cry, my love. This jacket is dry-clean only.
2. You can trust me, honey. I'll be back from South America with your life savings before you know it.
3. Look at this, sweetheart! Playboy printed my letter about our honeymoon!
4. Don't worry about safe sex -- those penicillin shots I got took care of everything.
5. Those notches on my headboard? Um, the movers did that.
6. Sure, I'd love for you to move in with me. My housekeeper just quit last week.
7. Nice negligee, honey, but could you step to the left a little? Half time is almost over.
8. Don't pay any attention to my friends, sweetheart. "Red hot sex machine" was what I called my last
9. I'd love to adopt a child -- are there any 17 year old Swedish girls named Inga available?
10. None of those other women meant anything to me, baby. Or those guys from that leather bar. And those sheep were asking for it.
I'd like to know something: where are the ammonium Q-36 explosive space modulators when you really
Taking a break from the Friday accounting to reflect on how the heck I ending up buying that
much printer paper in 2001. (Tax preparation. More fun than using defective pliers to extract your own toenails.) Based on my calculations, I went through a quarter ton of the stuff. That simply . . . boggles the mind. If I didn't recycle old manuscripts and print out drafts on the blank sides, it would be close to double that. It also means I lugged a quarter ton of paper up and down three flights of stairs. My spine hurts just thinking about it. Multiply that by the number of published authors in the U.S. -- 99.9% of us still have to submit printed manuscripts -- and you're talking whole forests being eaten up by our printers every day. I haven't totalled my packing and shipping costs for last year. I don't know if I want to, now.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"Come live with me and be my love; And we will all the pleasures prove. . ." Christoper Marlowe, 1564-1593, from "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"
Just watch your step.
Medical Fact for the Day: Blood pressure
is expressed in two numbers, such as 140/90. The first represents systolic
pressure -- the force that blood exerts against the arterial walls as the heart is pumping. The second number represents the diastolic
pressure, which is measured during the diastole phase of the cardiac cycle when the heart is "at rest" or filling between contractions.
A person whose blood pressure measures consistently above 140/90 or higher is suffering from high blood pressure, and is classified as hypertensive. As many as 70 million Americans have chronically high blood pressure, which can lead to strokes, cerebral thrombosis, cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral and pulmonary embolisms, heart disease, and various forms of cardiac dysfunction.
Lily is about to buy the farm. I tried scanning disk on her today and the FAT32 is all messed up. She won't scan, she won't defrag, and I swear I heard her mutter "Kevorkian. Get me Kevorkian." as I was working on her. So now I must extract all the files I can't live without and donate her to Sheridan Vo-Tech for some eager young computer student to tear to pieces. I figure it's sort of like leaving her body to science. She was a great computer, not very fast or hi-tech but she always came through for me. I wrote twelve books on her. Maybe I should bury her in the backyard or something . . .
Wow. This counter thing is pretty intense. The site that set it up for me (http://www.sitemeter.com*) e-mailed me statistics and times and views and everything, all taken from that little counter thing down there. Now, why do I want to know all this stuff? Search me. I was just curious about how much traffic the weblog was getting. Now I feel like I'm running covert ops or something. BTW, *this is a great site for idiots who refuse to learn HTML.
And now it doesn't work . . . or does it?
Hey, it works! And I didn't blow anything up, either.
If this works right, it should add a counter somewhere around here. I'm messing with HTML again. Pray, guys.
The first cover art flat for Sun Valley arrived today, and they did a nice job on fixing the copy and arranging the quotes. The inside flap -- which lists reasons booksellers should order large quanities of my book -- makes me sound like I not only walk on water, but I invented it, too. I'm also identified as a nationally bestselling author writing under a pseudonym but they still don't use S.L. Viehl anywhere. (Ick, SF cooties?) The official release date is June 4th.
Write Like An Egyptian:
Another nice youngster selling magazines stopped by -- I think the companies have a big red bullseye painted somewhere on my rooftop -- and got a small infusion toward their college fund. Well, my Popular Science subscription just ran out, so it was a business-related purchase. I invited her in to fill out the paperwork at the kitchen table, and she looked around the way most normal people do when they entered the BatCave for the first time.
"What are those?" she asked, gesturing at my fridge. (My fridge has about forty little Egyptian hieroglyphic magnets that I arrange in clusters to amuse myself, the current being "Eat jackals and die" and a leaf of papyrus with a poem I wrote in the same. I explained that I like cryptology and ancient languages, and learning to read archaic Egyptian is fun. She thought about that for a moment, then asked, "But you can make out the check in English, right?" in such a serious tone that I swallowed a laugh and assured her I would.
They're after me in writing now; in the mail today a written invitation to be an opening act speaker at another SF con thing. I almost shot out my standard "No, thanks" form letter but inspiration struck and I made copies of all the recent SF author snottiness about the World Con and J.K. Rowling, highlighting the good parts (that Hayden lady is a veritable treasure chest of nasty remarks.) My attached letter read like this: Dear [Committee Person]: Thank you for the kind invitation to appear at your event. Some of the reasons I don't attend SF conventions are attached. Best of luck with this and all your future projects.
Put me in a really good mood for the rest of the afternoon.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"Now I was young and easy under the apple boughs about the lilting house and happy as the grass was green . . . " Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953, from "Fern Hill"
Only a guy could get away with starting a poem by stating that he was young
Medical Fact for the Day: Insulin
is a polypetide hormone produced in the pancreas by the beta cells of the islets of langerhans. It plays a key role in the body's regulation of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism, and its deficiency leads to diabetes mellitus. Diabetic patients are described as type 1 (insulin dependent) or type 2 (non-insulin dependent), though many of the latter may need insulin later on in life to maintain control over their condition. Until the discovery of insulin in 1921, people with diabetes had but a few weeks or months to live. Injecting insulin subcutaneously (under the fat in the skin) remains the only method of delivering insulin to the bloodstream, though experts predict that in the future insulin will be available in pill form and possibly as a nasal spray.
Yet Another Tour of Insomnia City:
I'm nearly at the 4 am threshhold (the try-to-sleep deadline) and not even vaguely interested in conking out. I tried staying horizontal for three hours, didn't work, time to move on to other things.
My all-nighters tend to be pretty interesting, writing-wise. I knocked out 4K on "Make Me," revised Raven's synopsis to accomodate the chapter six changes, then put the defragmenter on and painted some very fat, klutzy-looking blue herons plodding around the World's Ugliest Reflecting Pool. This pool is so
ugly that any koi I try to paint in it will doubtless take one look around and immediately beach themselves on the blurry-weed banks to commit fish seppuku. All the while I'm listening to some very strange whalesong music and wondering if I can create a humongous but benevolent marine mammal to give the mogshrikes in BioRescue a run for their money. Not enough aliens in that book yet, I guess.
It was a day for epiphanies. A huge light bulb went off about what's going to crumble Raven -- not the handcuff scene -- and now I have to rewrite the synopsis and dump Chapter six and start over. But the concept is so good it's worth the rewrite. Raven is a bit like SuperGirl; she dodges speeding bullets, strolls around on top of locomotives, and leaps off tall buildings with her trusty bungie cord. You can't dent a person like that, unless it's an emotional blow, triggered by . . . well, I won't ruin the surprise. :) But safe to say, I now have her cryptonite.
On the short story front, I had a dream last night about the plot twist in "Make Me" and finally worked out this afternoon what Steph is going to do about the Prince of Darkness. This might end up being the funniest story I've ever written if I can pull it off. And Lord Knows we could all use a few more laughs these days.
Quote for the Day:
"If I ever
toy with the idea of living in a place where it actually snows again, someone shoot me in the head." -- Me, through chattering teeth.
Medical Fact for the Day: Frostbite,
or damage to tissues cause by extremely cold temperatures, usually occurs in temperatures below 32 degrees F (0 degrees C) Frostbite can affect any part of the body that is not properly covered, but the ears, nose, fingers and toes are most susceptible. If only the skin and underlying tissues are affected, recovery may be complete. If the blood vessels are affected, the damage is usually permanent and gangrene can follow, which generally requires the amuptation of the affected body part. Symptoms progress from a pins-and-needles sensation to complete numbness. The skin appears white, cold and hard, then becomes red and swollen. After the tissue thaws, blisters form and some areas of the skin turn black, indicating necrosis (tissue death.) Frostbite must be treated promptly. The patient should be sheltered from the cold, and the affected parts warmed as quickly as possible by immersion in lukewarm water (no hotter than 110 degrees F, 40 degrees C.) Movement of the affected parts should be avoided -- massaging is not helpful. Do not burst blisters, use direct heat to warm, or allow the patient to walk on a frostbitten foot. Frostbite is often accompanied by hypothermia
(see MF 1/04), which must be treated first.
I can't suppress this Japanese ambassador, a secondary character who is now competing with Mick as most interesting male in the book. After three rewrites of the confrontation scene with Kalen and Dai, no less. It's times like these I wish I was British or Australian so I'd have the native right to regularly use "bloody damn" while venting my frustrations. As in bloody damn
enigmatic Asian men who keep getting interesting on me. I have got
to stop reading "The Samurai's Garden" until I'm done this book.
On the Good Mom front, I marched in and performed the quarterly cleaning on Katherine's bedroom today to make room for her new dollhouse. It was, as always, an experience. There were no surprise hidden caches of ladybugs or centipedes this time, but she's invented another mysterious substance which turns Play-Doh into stone. Not just dried-out Play-Doh. Fossilized
Play-Doh. She says she can't remember what she used in the mix, but potting soil, wax, and Elmer's glue were definitely involved. I barely have to vacuum Mike's room, but tomorrow we're going to sort through his cards and rearrange his bookcase. He's working on his monthly book report and getting things ready to do the board for his petunia project this weekend. It's like I gave birth to Felix and Oscar.
Reader mail bag offerings:
Whoops, apparently some folks (21, actually) missed the notice that the e-books were only going to stay up for the month of December (the nice author will e-mail .pdf copies, no problem); some nice comments on Night Trauma with most wanting more and possibly a romance between Erin and Malone (not sure about that, we shall see); a *scalding* reaction from a colleague after receiving a pretty nasty review, with a request for advice on what to do (easy: don't read the damn reviews); book release announcements from my main romance goddess; a request for me to write more like Bujold (God, why? Isn't one enough?); insider info on the Nebula prelim and will I rejoin SFWA if Sharon Lee is elected President.
I like Sharon Lee's books, and in my brief contact with her have found her to be a nice person. I also wish her the best of luck with the election. However, I will not rejoin SFWA. I was a member for one month, and that was enough to last me a lifetime. Exception: if Holly Lisle is ever elected President, I'll rejoin for the length of her term to provide my support. And since that probably won't happen until an ice storm hits hell, I think my non-membership status is fairly secure.
Finally figured out the last of the names for my Chinese bad guys in book two. It's not easy, because the traditionalists use three names, and there are certain nuances of language and culture involved in the combos. Like the Dai Xun han, the wife of one of the triad leaders, whose first name (Xun han) means "modest writing." I'm also figuring out how to write the names in Chinese characters, just for fun.
Little Monarch Department:
My mom gave Kathy a dress-up kit with play jewelry for Christmas, and she finally dug it out this afternoon. She showed up at my desk with her fabulous faux diamonds and commanded me to help her arrange her hair for her tiara. I had a flashback of me at the same age, playing Farmer Girl with my brother's red wagon in the backyard, planting popcorn kernels in my "fields." Yeah, well, I was a wierd kid and btw, popcorn kernels really grow. Anyway, when Her Majesty's do was done, my daughter went to preen in front of the mirror, then returned. "I'm the Queen of Everything," she told me, perfectly serious. Yes, baby, you definitely are.
Famous Quote for the Day:
"For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation." Rainer Maria Rilke, from letters to a young poet.
Love is like life's parallel parking test.
Medical Fact for the Day:Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
is a term used to describe numbness, tingling, and pain in the thumb, index, and middle fingers that often worsens at night. The condition may affect one or both hands and is sometimes accompanied by weakness in the thumbs. The condition results from pressure on the median nerve where it passes into the hand via a gap (the "carpal tunnel") under a ligament at the front of the wrist. Despite the many and varied commercially popular treatments, the syndrome often resolves itself without treatment. Wearing a splint on the affected hand at night is the best, non-intrusive method to alleviate symptoms. Injection of a small amount of a corticosteroid drug may be injected under the ligament in the wrist. If this fails to help, surgical cutting of the ligament may be performed to relieve the pressure on the nerve.
The prelim Nebulas have been posted, and the indignant protests from those who failed to make the cut have already begun to rise in squalling childish decibels. Wait, I don't want to insult the children of the world by comparing these authors to them. It's usually mildly amusing to watch the SF Sacred Cow Worshippers and Backside Kissers embarrass themselves, but for some reason it seems even more petty and pathetic this year. Maybe because I'd hoped the events of 9/11 would help people rearrange their priorities. You're alive, you're doing what you love, and there are at least twenty thousand people wishing they were you -- who cares about getting your name engraved on a stupid-looking statue?
Famous Quote for the Day:
"The biotech revolution will force each of us to put a mirror to our most deeply held values, making us ponder the ultimate question of the purpose and meaning of existence." author Jeremy Rifkin, from The Biotech Century
The purpose and meaning of existence is simple: to create love and life, to maintain it, and to be worthy of it. (Man, do I get philosophical at 7AM)
Medical Fact for the Day: Spontaneous Mutation
occurs at low frequency and its specific cause is unknown. The rate of spontaneous mutation per genome may vary; in bacteriophage DNA 7 X 10-5 power to 1 X 10-11power; in humans 1 X 10-5 power to 2 X 10-6 power. The induced rate of mutation may be three order of magnitude higher but it varies a great deal depending on the locus, the nature of the mutagenic agent, the dose, etc. X-Men, anyone?
Try It You'll Like It Department:
There are some foods I've never tried simply because they're not "family food" -- you know, all the stuff your mom makes you eat when you're a kid that her mom made her eat and so on and so on. I've been more daring since having to eat some very strange stuff in the military -- remind me to describe the delights of "C" rations someday -- and have tried a number of new cuisines. The most radical being frog legs, which weren't too bad (stringy); squid, which was okay but kind of rubbery; and caviar, which was totally disgusting. Just for the record, I will not eat snails. Ever. I don't care, I did the frog legs, you're just going to have to be satisfied with that.
This Christmas a dear friend sent me a beautiful basket with apples, pears, cheese, crackers, and a package of smoked salmon. It was what to do with the salmon that troubled me -- I've never even tasted it before. I considered giving it to the cats, but I didn't know if it had bones in it. Also, it seems pretty stupid not
to have tried smoked salmon at least once in forty years. So tonight, I bravely hauled it out of the fridge, plopped it on a plate, and sat looking at it for a few minutes.
It did not look appetizing. It looked like it was made out of oily plastic.
I was tempted to just throw it away, but I remembered the smoked fish my grandfather (an avid fisherman) once bought for me at a place near the Indian River. I'd loved it. Since the salmon was smoked and a fish, maybe it would taste a little similar. So I broke off a very little piece, closed my eyes, and popped it in my mouth.
First impression? Wow.
Let me tell you, it sure as heck doesn't taste
like oily plastic. It's a little like tuna, but much better -- more delicate, nice and salty, and with a very intense savory smoked flavor quite similar to what GrandDad bought me. No bones at all, and just a little bit of skin you had to peel away from the fillet. I ate practically every bit.
Now I'm starting to wonder about snails.
Mom's 15 Minutes:
My mother has been a professional inspirational speaker and Christian writer for many years, but she's gone majorly commercial this month in Woman's Day. If you get the magazine, it's the Feb 1st issue, page 15, the little article down at the right corner titled "Coffee Break." Alas, I am not the sweet, considerate daughter she refers to (I was the grumpy one making
the coffee.) And before you scoff over the sale, Mom made $100 for the article, which works out to about $1.63 per word.
You know what's eerie? When a bestselling author writes about her favorite authors and can't spell Jane Austen's name correctly. I mean, I'm no great speller myself, but whoa . . . .
Famous Quote for the Day:
"A host is like a general: it takes a mishap to reveal his genius." Horace, 65 B.C. -- 8 B.C.
No snappy comment or particular reason for posting it, I just like that quote.
Medical Fact for the Day: Influenza
(flu) is a viral infection that causes a fever, runny nose, cough, headache, a feeling of illness (malaise) and inflammation of the lining of the nose and airways. Symptoms start 24 to 48 hours after infection -- generally contracted through contact with another infected person, though sometimes from handling infected articles -- and can begin rather suddenly. Fever is the most common first symptom, accompanied by minor respiratory symptoms which gradually increase in severity. Most people are familiar with the symptoms of the flu, but all should still seek medical atttention, particularly for the young, the elderly, or those with pre-existed health conditions. Diagnosis is carried out by a blood test or by culturing the sputum. Lethal complications include hemorrhagic bronchitis, viral pneumonia, and Reye's Syndrome. Children should not
be given aspirin when being treated for the flu. Vaccination against influenza each season (late fall through Spring) is the best way to avoid contracting the flu.
Target for Immediate Engagement:
Congratulations to Sue and Robby, friends who just let me know they are taking the vows in June this year and want me to be the Best Woman (I rolled on the floor after reading that, Rob, bless you.) They'll be having the ceremony on Ft. Lauderdale Beach, right next to the ocean, which should be fun. I'm definitely in.
I discovered after the morning outdoors I was chap-lipped and wind-burned, so I sat in the bath tonight with chilled tea bags on my eyes and mayonnaise slathered all over my face and mouth. Stop laughing, this really works. The phone rings, and since I brought the cordless in with me I grope for it. I feel a paw batting my fingers and lift a tea bag to have a look. All three cats are sitting in a perfect line by the bath tub, staring at my face with utter fascination. If only I'd brought the camera in, God Only Knows what they were thinking.