Star Lines
Saturday, May 25, 2002
  Response Time: People have been eagerly waiting for me to comment on the ongoing hostilities, so much so that traffic has doubled and the volume of e-mail has been exceptional. While I do appreciate the extra publicity being generated for me, I've indicated I'm not going to pursue this. For me, it's over. Evidently some of you missed that.

I do regret that the Forward Motion community were called Nazis in part because of what I do here. That is intolerably ugly and totally unjustified, but the community has responded quite emphatically. There is nothing that I can add that has not already been said better by some very fine people. I will not pursue this on Forward Motion, and I will not be commenting on the Nazi name-caller. So. Consider that over, too.

As for what happens here at Star Lines, I'll spell it out, to be 100% clear: This is my turf. I pay for it, so the content here is completely under my control. No one else but me. I decide what stays, and what goes -- not the Forward Motion community, not my friends, not my colleagues, not the hostiles, not the Nazi name-caller, or anyone else on the planet. When I say something is over here, it's over. If you don't like that, leave.

  Poets' Resource: Someone sent me this link to an online rhyming dictionary, and I thought, "How good can it be?" I typed in the word sea and got 903 results (to save space, here's the first line of each paragraph):

"1 syllable: ab, abt, amc, awb, b, b., be, bea, bee, blea, brea, bree, brie, bui, c, c., cac, chea, chee, cie, cod, crea, cree, cyb, d, d., de, dea,
2 syllables: abee, ac, achee, acree, adee, agee, agree, ailee, aimee, akey, albee, allee, andree, and he, and we, artsy, ash tree, askey, as he,
3 syllables: a. b. c., a. c. p., a. n. c., a. z. t., abductee, absentee, addressee, adoptee, adoree, alder tree, allspice tree, almond tree, amputee,
4 syllables: a. a. r. p., a. f. d. c., admission fee, afternoon tea, alkali bee, apricot tree, australian pea, balata tree, banana tree, bird cherry tree,
5 syllables: africanized bee, anchovy pear tree, asparagus pea, audio cd, australian grass tree, avocado tree, bachelor's degree, bitter orange tree,
6 syllables:academic degree, associate degree, australian nettle tree, austrian winter pea, brazilian pepper tree, california bay tree, hemophilia b,
7 syllables: africanized honey bee, brazilian potato tree, capital of tennessee, chinese angelica tree, european olive tree, fruit of the poisonous tree
8 syllables: japanese angelica tree, to a tolerable degree, western australia coral pea
9 syllables: american angelica tree"

and trust me, there were many, many more rhymes for "sea" -- more than you could live long enough to write into verse. 
  Redecorating: Steven's advice worked, and with a little trial and error on the template, I've toned down the green to a more eye-friendly cyan and replaced the much-hated pastel yellow text background with a simple antique white. (I know the corner graphic of Earth isn't sized quite right, but that will keep for another day.) I mentioned before, back when I got rid of the orange sidebar, that Imagitek has a nice online color selector that can help if you want to experiment with/preview HTML color combos.

We were joking around in the Think Tank last night about possible new colors for the weblog, but I really find it's easier for me to read large amounts of text when they're a plain dark color on neutral backgrounds -- hot pink text on shock-blue always dances in front of my eyes. Also, I just don't like some colors (like anything yellow.) This cyan green reminds me of pine trees and the ocean down around the Keys, and the antique white is a great neutral. Besides, the universe is supposed to be beige, right?  
  Template Test 
  Quote for the Day: "I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another." -- Brenda Ueland

Or like you're running with scissors.

Medical Fact for the Day: Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia is a cancer of the B lymphocytes (white blood cells) which causes too much IgM antibody to be produced. This extra protein can make the blood too thick (hyperviscosity) and, like leukemia, can cause different types of complications. Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia occurs primarily in the elderly, but it has also been known to strike adults and children.

Symptoms include malaise, disorientation, intestinal bleeding, nausea, dizziness, peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness of the skin), weight loss, vision problems, bleeding from the gums, and enlargement of the spleen, liver, or lymph nodes. Some patients may become comatose. Diagnosis is made through a protein electrophoresis blood test (SPEP), which detects the extra monoclonal protein in the blood. An affected patient's urine will test positive for Bence-Jones proteins and urine immunoelectrophoresis will also show the excess IgM. Bone marrow biopsy of any bone lesions generally confirms the diagnosis, and monitors the progress of the cancer.

Treatment includes blood transfusions, plasmapheresis (a process to remove the extra protein from the blood), chemotherapy with drugs such as chlorambucil or cyclophosphamide, and bone marrow transplant. Survival rate is low, most patients succumb within three to five years after diagnosis. The cause of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia is unknown.

Blog of the Day: Winter Dreams Scotland Hermit departs from the usual teen angst blog with refreshing posts about life, love, and how to handle all of it. A very promising young writer. 
  Writer Trick #5 It's difficult to relay a real sense of the character when you're in their POV, something I discussed with James tonight. When you write a scene, I think the natural inclination is to spell out the action and dialogue. Hands-down, that's the easiest stuff to write. But if that's all you write, it renders the character into a two-dimensional paper doll. You need to add the peripheral details that make that character live and breathe for your reader. Most authors seem to concentrate on details like sensory input (sight and hearing) and the occasional internal expression of emotion, i.e. "He glared at her." or "She could hear the anger in his voice." or I could punch out a wall, I'm so angry.

I don't know if this is what the how-to books recommend, but I run a constant checklist in my head while I'm writing a scene, and alternately use these four peripheral details to add dimension to the POV character:

External: How does the POV character react to what's happening on the outside? Physical movements, body response/language, etc. Note -- try to avoid overusing eye and mouth references, unless someone is getting punched in them, shot in them, etc.

Before I could pick my jaw up off the conference table, Salo helped the Captain railroad me.

Internal: What's the character really thinking? (And it doesn't have to agree with dialogue.) Show actual emotions, reactions, gut instinct, etc.

"I'm so happy to see you." No, I wasn't. I'd be happy to spit in her face, though, if she stood still long enough. "What a surprise." So was getting back a positive on a Wasserman.

Sensory input: Seeing and hearing are good, but don't skip touch, taste, smell.

Tya flicked out her tongue, tasting his fear on the air. The sharp, coppery edge to it grew stronger as she moved in.

Scheming/Distraction: See if you can have your character think a step ahead, or get distracted by something. Let the gears inside the POV's head turn (or seize.)

If he tried to go around me, I'd just have to stop him. But how? "Lucian, wait." Biting him wouldn't work. Maybe the belt on my robe could slip.

You can use other peripheral details, whatever best suits your own style. Try to stagger them and spread them out evenly through the scene, and watch the flow during the editing stage. If it helps, put a post-it note on your computer with whatever you decide to use. Glance at them while you're writing, they'll prompt you until you start to do it unconsciously. 
Friday, May 24, 2002
  Arranging the Links: Okay, Steven got me interesting in making some changes, so we'll all blame him if the template detonates. I've shuffled around the links and split out the sites I read. Some of my weblog links haven't been working, but I'm hoping that's due to the ongoing Blogger "Page Not Found" glitch. I'm not going to mess with colors yet, the kids are home today and with the related distractions, I may end up making everything hot pink and electric blue.  
  It Pays to be the Guest Speaker: If you get invited to read your stuff at an Authors Guild Foundation benefit dinner, say yes. Author Ravi Howard did, and it got him a six-figure preemptive offer for two books from Claire Wachtel at Morrow. Howard, who won the 2001 Hurston Wright Award, read a bit from his winning story, "Like Trees Walking" which was inspired by the KKK's lynching of Michael Donald in 1981. Howard plans to expand his award-winner to novel-length.  
  John Attacks the Clones: "It's dangerous being George Lucas, both vastly egocentric and also vastly successful," says critic John Shirley, "because you've got no one around to tell you when you're falling short of the mark. No one dares." Him being an authority on this subject, of course. Like everything else. You can read his complete tantrum here. If you get a perverse chuckle out of snob rants, you'll enjoy it. 
  New Feature: I've noticed other bloggers do a Blog-of-the-Day thing, where they recommend random blogs they find interesting. I'll have to figure out what the HTML is to make a permanent link thing for it (think by the next Ice Age) but until then, I'll throw it in with the quote/med fact for the day. So here's the debut:

Blog of the Day: He's Southern, Catholic and Cranky: -- and Professor Michael Tinkler doesn't apologize for any of that when he shares his views on education, Catholicism, and medieval history at Cranky Professor. Not your average university educator, and I like his attitude. Also, his links to online medieval art, architecture, and society are terrific.  
  Quote for the Day: "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." -- T. S. Eliot

That's going to be the opening quote for my book about Dr. Jenner.

Medical Fact for the Day: Smallpox is a highly contagious virus that causes death in 30% of infected patients, and extensive disfigurement for most survivors. The threat of naturally occurring smallpox, which was once feared as the most serious and devastating of all the infectious diseases, was eradicated by a world wide campaign using Dr. Edward Jenner's small pox vaccine. There is no other treatment to prevent small pox and, once infected, there is no cure.

No one in the U.S. has been vaccinated for small pox for 30 years -- vaccination ceased in this country in 1972, and there are concerns that vaccination immunity acquired before that time has undoubtedly waned. Smallpox spreads directly from person to person, primarily by droplet nuclei expelled from the oropharynx of the infected person. Natural infection occurs following implantation of the virus on the oropharyngeal or respiratory mucosa. Contaminated clothing or bed linens also spread the virus.

Small pox has an average incubation period of 12 to 14 days. After the incubation period, symptoms include high fever, malaise, headache, backache, severe abdominal pain and delirium. A mascopapular rash then appears, first on the mucosa of the mouth and pharynx, face and forearms, spreading to the trunk and legs. Within one or two days, the rash becomes vesicular and later pustular. The pustules are characteristically round, tense and deeply embedded in the dermis; crusts begin to form about the eighth or ninth day. When the scabs separate, pigment-free skin remains, and eventually pitted scars form, causing the classic facial and body disfigurement.

In 1980, the Soviet government began to grow smallpox in large quantities and adapt it for use in bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Although that government no longer exists, their initiative succeeded, and Russia still has the capacity to produce literally tons of smallpox virus. There is also concern that terrorist groups from the Middle East will seek to spread small pox as part of a bioterrorism attack.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention store approximately 140,000 vials of vaccine (each contains doses for 50-60 people) and it is estimated than an additional 50-100 million doses exist worldwide. This stock cannot be immediately replenished, since all vaccine production facilities were dismantled after 1980, and renewed vaccine production will require at least 24-36 months. In 2000, the CDC awarded a contract to Oravax of Cambridge, Massachusetts to produce smallpox vaccine. Initially producing 40 million doses, Oravax anticipates delivery of the first full scale production lots in 2004. 
Thursday, May 23, 2002
  Note on Comments: FYI, I'm deleting any comments that constitute a personal attack on me and banning whoever writes them from the comment log. If you want to disagree with me, fine. Be polite. If you want to bash me, go do it somewhere else. If you're offended, leave.  
  Onward: As much as I appreciate high drama, I have a book to finish, and the kids' spring program to attend. So I'll be out of here today, back tomorrow. You all have a good day. 
  Quote for the Day:"The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book." -- Mickey Spillane  
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
  Oh, Bright One: I'm still shaking my head over this e-mail, which is apparently to warn me that a disturbed person whose review I've challenged (see my May 10th post) has gone from anonymously posting cowardly little hatchet jobs on to rant directly about me on her weblog. From the gist of things, she's evidently now decided that I'm not worthy enough to write SF.

I knew she was hanging out here and reading Star Lines a couple times a day (oh yeah, see the sitemeter thing down there? Tells me all kinds of stuff.) You'd think someone who attends Harvard University would be smarter, wouldn't you? But I think this is getting a little out of hand now.

What's ironic is all I've ever done to this girl was to politely turn down her invitation to be a guest speaker at some Harvard SF con. Then I coached her on how to pitch her novels at the same SF con. She came to me, asked for help, and I gave it to her. Freely. Oh, and I wished her luck, too. That's it. Those are my crimes. Funny how she didn't disapprove of me when she needed to use me.

Still, I know it's very hard to keep getting rejections and see someone like me succeed. After all, I never went to Harvard. In order to justify her own failures in her own mind, she has to attack the people she envies. Otherwise, all the lies she's telling herself will collapse and she'll have to face what she is. And what that is must be pretty awful.

I've said before that I'm not a malicious person, which is why I'm not posting her name, and I'm not going to pursue this. I've done my thing with, I'll add her name to the potential stalker list, but that's all I'm going to do. Those of you who know I'm talking about and who are friends with her should really reach out to her now -- this girl has some serious self-esteem issues. Attacking published authors isn't going to solve them, and eventually she'll gain such a bad reputation that she will literally destroy any decent chance she has at a pro writing career.  
  Unhappy News: The mystery of Chandra Levy's disappearance came to a sad end today when her remains were positively identified. My heart and prayers go out to her parents.  
  Oh Captain My Captain: I haven't found the link for this yet, so I'm going to post the article as it was sent to me, evidently from Publisher's Weekly. As soon as I locate the original article, I'll update with it:

Caveat Emptor: Pubs to Pay to Manage Borders' Categories

"As described in the Wall Street Journal today, Borders will divide its book inventory into 250 categories and invite publishers to co-manage, or "captain" the category. The captain will "influence" Borders' buying decisions, including which titles, the number to be bought, and how the books get displayed, though Borders retains right of final decision.

For the privilege of being "captains," publishers chosen as category managers will pay $110,000 annually and $5,000 per employee to be trained by Borders in how the system works. So far, HarperCollins will captain Borders' cookbook and romance sections, and Random House will co-manage the early readers category.

The monies paid will in part fund the extensive market research Borders plans to conduct as part of its category management program, involving focus groups, exit interviews and polling, among other things. A Borders spokesman said that "all publishers will share in the benefits of the market research." (Early research using exit and phone interviews has shown, in one example cited by the Journal, that 25% of all cookbooks bought are for gifts.)

Still, it remains to be seen how much a publisher paying big money to co-manage a category will recommend prime placement for titles by a competitor. Moreover, the role of small presses in the system seems tenuous since they surely won't be able to pay the same kind of fees large publishers will."--Edward Nawotka
  Another test: Blogger's servers are bonkers again. 
  Quote for the Day: "A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it to be God." -- Sidney Sheldon

Oh yeah? Give me the job for a week.

Medical Fact for the Day: Q fever, also known as early and late Q fever, is a lung (pneumonic) and liver (hepatic) infection caused by the microorganism coxiella burnetii. The condition of patients who contract Q fever ranges from chronic to acute, and like malaria, have definitive cycles of remission and relapse. Chronic patients usually suffer systemic damage, such as inflammation of the aortic valve of the heart (endocarditis).

Symptoms of Q fever are: sudden shaking chills, high fever, malaise, headache, sweating, loss of appetite, dry cough, chest pain on breathing (pleurisy), sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice (a yellow tinge to the skin) and icterus (a yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes.) In some cases, meningitis (infection of the membranes covering the brain) occurs.

Q fever is contracted throughout the world, by persons having exposure to both domestic and wild animals, through contaminated feces, blood, urine, birth products (inhaling dust and droplets containing the Coxiella, or direct skin contact with the animal product), or ingestion of contaminated animal products. Direct person-to-person spread of the infection has not been documented.

Diagnosis is made by chest X-Ray, blood tests, liver ultrasound and an EEG. Antibiotics such as tetracycline or ciprofloxacin given 8-12 days after exposure for 10-14 days of treatment are the most effective treatment. A vaccine is available for high-risk individuals.

  Bye Bye Buffy: To answer some e-mails, no, I didn't watch it, haven't watched the show since late March? I think, for reasons I've already stated. (BTW, I rented a couple of tapes from season one, didn't make a difference. Not my thing.) I'm happy for everyone who feels the director guy redeemed himself. Good TV, in my opinion, is always an oxymoron.  
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
  Total Zen: Amazing what a long hot eucalyptus bath, whipping up some homemade potato chowder, and politely telling a major company to kiss off will do for a frazzled writer. I feel totally rejuvenated. Bring on deadline week.  

Important Announcement:

In response to unethical business practices and an appalling lack of professional regard for reputable published authors, I will no longer be doing any business with This is in response to's policy of allowing malicious attacks on authors via the anonymous posting of deliberately negative reviews, many of which violate's own fair review guidelines.

I have always believed has a right to present a diversity of opinions on the books it sells, which is why I have never challenged any of the negative reviews written on my books -- even the anonymous ones. However, I challenged a review (see "I wonder if we were all reading the same book" review here) on my colleague Holly Lisle's recently released novel, Vincalis the Agitator, as the review in question absolutely violates's own guidelines. In response to my request, first agreed, then refused to remove the review. Further, my correspondence with over this matter has indicated to me that the company is utterly indifferent to fair business practices.

By allowing anonymous reviewers to post diatribes written out of personal spite and call them reviews, endorses and even encourages unfair attacks on the very authors upon whom it has built its business.

In protest, I have closed my personal and professional accounts, and have asked my web designer to remove the Amazon book links from my web site. I encourage my colleagues, readers, and associates who feel as I do to do the same.  
  And Then, It Gets Real Interesting: Back from the ER (the gang was disappointed that I wasn't bleeding, but my wheezing sure impressed them); after I arrived, the oncall lung doctor went through the roof over my intake BP. Best reading out of three was 70/40, which in most hospitals will get you coded. I argued that my chronic low BP is normal for me, but he ignored me and called for a cardiologist consult.

The stress of the reaction and my hour of mild respiratory distress should have elevated the readings, Dr. Do-Right informed me. Obviously I wasn't in anaphylaxis, but I could be anemic, diabetic, or having heart failure. Evidently Something's Terribly Wrong Here.

I was willing to let it go -- he wants to play TV Doc, no problem -- but then he ordered the extra labs on me. Right in front of me, like I wouldn't know what a tox screen was. The jerk thought I'd self-prescribed a little recreational medication. I told him what I thought of that, and he put on the usual MD song and dance they do when they get caught in the act of screwing with a patient. The discussion ended with me yelling "Fine, asshole" at the top of my lungs and donating several vials of blood to prove I'm not a damn junkie.

Finally my doctor arrived and hustled him out of the room, then came in to arrange a detaut. I used more words I don't allow the children to say, but he's used to that. What ticks me off is not the fact that I'm a fellow professional -- plenty of nurses, doctors and other pros self-prescribe and lie about it. But I wear a very detailed medic alert about my condition, and even if he didn't want to believe me and the bracelet, my doc put warnings on all my records about my various physical oddities. Including my hospital records, which the putz had.

Anyway. I signed myself out in time to catch Mom and Dad, and by then my hives had mostly cleared up. I'm sure my BP was slightly more elevated, too. I just got off the phone with my doc, and while he's confident my labs will come back clean, he asked me to reconsider the cardiologist consult. We've never pursued why I have such low blood pressure, and at my age something like low cardiac output is potentially life-threatening (that's what he thinks it is, an undetected congenital heart defect.) I didn't want to agree, but I did -- and when I do find out why I have the blood pressure of a snail, we can slap a big red warning sticker on everything.  
  Unexplained Mysteries: A strange "page not found" screen appears whenever I click on the view web page thing, but disappears after a few seconds. Perhaps another Pro Blogger glitch. I'm glad I don't know enough about computers to want to figure out why.

Another breaking development, I got home from the daily school run a few minutes ago and upchucked all my breakfast. No, I'm not pregnant, unless Jesus decided to make himself a baby brother. From the lovely new crop of hives popping up on my arms and face, I'll guess I'm having a reaction to the new anti-inflammatory medication. This is the fourth drug we've tried over the last six months, and the doc warned me there could be some delayed reaction. I just beeped him but I think the worst is over. Now, what to tell Mom when she sees me.... 
  Huh? What's this "Page Not Found" thing? 
  Quote for the Day: "I'm been working at embracing what is and letting go of what isn't and making changes in my life accordingly." -- Shobhana, from "My Life in Stitches -- A Knitting Blog"

Knitters, I've noticed, usually have great Zen attitudes. And man, check out that beautiful cardi.

Completely Medically-Unrelated Fact for the Day: If I have around a week left until deadline, one of three things will happen: 1) I will cut, slash, bruise or sprain a finger, usually on the right hand; 2) My parents will want to see me; and 3) I'll meet a Scorpio, Taurus, or Sagitarius who desperately needs help. If I have less than a week, all three will happen on the same day. 
  We're About Due, Too: Since this is National Hurricane Awareness Week, and hurricane season is just around the corner, I thought I'd do my civic duty and post some info for those of you in Atlantic strike zones. NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has predicted nine to thirteen tropical storms will form during the season (June 1 to Nov. 30). Last year we saw fifteen tropical storms, including nine hurricanes, coming at us, but happily escaped any direct hits. NOAA also ruined my night by predicting that six to eight of these storms may become hurricanes, and two or three of those could develop into major storms with winds of 111 mph or more.

They've also released the name list for this year's Atlantic storms:


If you're not sure how to prepare for hurricane season, stop by The National Hurricane Center's Hurricane Awareness site.
Monday, May 20, 2002
  Kick Over the Damn Windmills: I am not Don Quixote material, I think we can all agree on that. Oh, I'm a soft touch for abused felines, wounded males, struggling artists, starving musicians, as-of-yet-undiscovered writers, and (as Jenny Crusie would say) the occasional rebel without a clue. But I'm a realist. Shakespeare never said life sucketh, but he should have, 'cause it does. I can cleverly rant all I want about something, and we both know I probably ain't gonna change it.

Thing is, something absolutely unfair happened to one of my friends, and while trying to get that changed that I ran smack into a big old corporate windmill. Trust me when I say I am an insect compared to this towering edifice of free enterprise. In fact, it's so huge and so omnipotent that I could be considered slightly deranged for taking it on. Still, I made two attacks on the damn thing, and while the first was promising, the second was a complete dud. Now I'm making my third and final direct frontal assault, which I expect will also fail.

Will I give up if it does? Nope. The nice thing about being so small is, I can slip inside and make the changes myself (all perfectly legal, btw) and no one will even notice me. Pancho, my horse!

  Seekers of the Truth: Notice how grim and boring things are getting out there in Blogger Land? I occasionally read a few of the "blog journalists" sites to keep up to date on what's happening with the trend (much as I resent being part of a trend, I do make an effort.) But lately it seems like everyone has a hair up a southern orifice about the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and behind ponderous blocks of opinionated, yawn-inducing reporting, are really sniping and bickering like a bunch of cranky preschoolers.

I get this from my nine year old and seven year old every day; I sure don't need to read about it on the web.

The problem is, everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks theirs is right. Most call these opinions "the truth." Because the topic is volatile (like religion, sex, abortion, and every other subject that tends to piss people off), everyone get their feelings hurt when they don't unilaterally agree on what "the truth" is. They take sides and form alliances and attack others -- a lot like that TV show Survivor, or so I hear -- and in the end, everyone ends up disgusted with each other.

(Bad language ahead, kids, you should be in school) I've expressed my opinion once or twice on the horrors over in the Middle East, but in case you missed it, here it is: I'm pro-Israel. I think the U.S. should support our allies (that's Israel, not the Palestinians, in case you're confused) who were pretty fucking decent to us during the Gulf War. Remember, when SCUDs were dropping from the sky, killing their people because our troops were parked in Israel, and we asked them not to retaliate? They were cool with that. We should return the favor. End of opinion.

You may not agree with me. Fine. I'm not going to argue my point. We really don't have the right to debate this -- we don't live in Israel. We don't have to worry about getting blown up while we're out grocery shopping. As Americans, we just got a taste of what it's like to live in a country that is targeted by suicidal terrorists. Pretty terrifying stuff, right? Well, that's been the situation for the Israelis for decades. So, out of respect for the people who do have to deal with this shit on a daily basis, I think we ought to stay out of it.  
  Everybody, Go See! Guess whose book is #10 on's Silhouette Special Edition List? Hint: she's a brand-new author who, by the way, had better be writing her butt off to get book two off to her editor, or else. Way to go, Carol!  
  Bye, Dave & Gill: Yep, I got it on tape and watched it around 4am this morning.

X-Files stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

I haven't watched the show in years, but it was nice to see Mulder and Scully finally together. 
  Quote for the Day: "I've lived through many terrible things in my life, some of which have actually happened." --Mark Twain

Kind of like my marriages. Boy, have I been married.

Medical Fact for the Day: Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome, or gastrinoma, is a disease in which patients develop gastric tumors. These tumors are associated with ulcer development, caused by over secretion of gastrin (a hormone that elicits acid secretion and causes excess of stomach acid.) The tumors themselves produce the hormone, and over 90% of patients with this disease develop peptic ulcers. The symptoms of the two conditions are identical. Most of the tumors patients develop are malignant, and some have usually spread to the liver by the time the disease is detected. However, most of these tumors can be removed by surgery.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, epigastric pain, acid reflux, fatty stool, right upper quadrant abdominal fullness (enlarged liver if there is metastasis) are common. Classic indicators include high levels of calcium in the blood and high gastrin levels. Patients who are non-responisve to standard ulcer treatment should be tested for gastrinomas. Somatostatin receptor scintigraphy or endoscopic Ultrasound (an ultrasound done from inside the stomach) are the best diagnostic test methods. Some patients also develop multiple endocrine type neoplasia or tumors that produce various types of hormones. While the syndrome is associated with ulcer development, the cause of the tumors themselves is unknown.

The most important factor predicting survival is determining whether the tumor has spread to the liver. Surgery is an option if only one area of the liver is affected, but the prognosis for patients with multiple tumors in the liver is poor. 30% of patients with liver involvement live for 10 years. Curing the disease is possible only if the tumor is removed before it spreads to the liver. 15-year survival rate for patients without spread to the liver is over 80 percent. 
  Ghost in the Romance Machine: I caught up on my romance author list-serv e-mail tonight, and it seems NAL has stopped advertising in Romantic Times Magazine and is depending on the authors to do it. Didn't know that. Many, many romance authors spend a lot of money advertising in RT, which I've never done -- RT keeps their circulation numbers a big mystery, and a lot of other stuff that goes on with that magazine still befuddles me. As do the other cartwheels some authors do to promote their books.

Most romance authors spend huge amounts of money to buy ad space in RT and something called Romance Sells (a little booklet bookseller ad thing published by RWA.) They buy up mailing lists and do enormous mailouts of postcards, bookmarks, and flyers. They fight for speaker space at RWA and RT conferences, which can cost as much as $1K to attend. They schedule booksignings in every book store in their local area, and if they travel, they schedule them at stores around their destination. So many authors do it that it's become accepted practice, and judging by info from the list-serv, I'm the only one at NAL who doesn't do any self-promotion.

I admit, though, I tried a couple of things my first year out with StarDoc. I did a few mailouts and some booksignings. There were no tangible results that made any of it worth repeating. By the time my first romance hit the shelves, I had given up on self-promotion. NAL did buy a nice full page ad for Paradise Island, and made me do an interview with RT, but that was it. I do get plenty of advertising over at Holly's site, for which I am very grateful, but she's never asked me to pay for it. Posting free stories on my web site and getting free books out seems more important, and gives something back to the readers.

I have to stay in my comfort level, and I'll never be comfortable with the romance self-promotion machine. It's just not for me. I'd prefer the writing to sell itself, and if it doesn't, then I need to find a new line of work.  
Sunday, May 19, 2002
  Crank up the Generators: The stuff I find when I cruise the web . . . if you ever need an element for your writing but are blanking or blocked, stop by The Page of Generators. Creativity engineer Steven Savage offers a myriad assortment of interesting random generators that could kick-start your story, or just give you a good laugh. Here's what I came up with, playing with a few:

Evil Name Generator: Rotooze the Foul
Heroic Name Generator: Blake Rock
Magic Item: Vulpine Skull of Adsorbing Reincarnation (hmmm....should that be absorbing....)
Realm Namer: Tiny Empire
Hi-Tech Gizmo Generator: Attack Psychotwister
Ship Namer: The Rascal's Voulge

This site is especially good for you RPGers out there, btw.  
  Quote for the Day: "People are like stained glass windows -- the true beauty can be seen only when there is light from within. The darker the night, the brighter the windows" --Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Tiffany Stained Glass Window

Medical Fact for the Day: Asthenopia, or eye strain, typically begins as a vaguely uncomfortable feeling or an unpleasant, low-grade aching feeling in either or both eyes. Patients also experience blurred vision, headaches, or aching in the eye muscles, especially after performing close-work (such as reading) for a prolonged period of time. Symptoms can also develop when focusing on details far away, such as watching a movie screen.

The major cause of eye strain is a large phoria (misalignment of the eye muscles.) Under special conditions, one eyeball will drift right, left, up, or down. This creates double images for the brain, and results in the uncomfortable or aching sensations. Most people have a minimal phoria. Other causes may be astigmatism (an irregularly-shaped cornea), near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or amblyopia (decreased vision in one or both eyes, not correctible with glasses or corrective lenses, and not due to any defect in the retina or eyeball.)

There is no clear-cut way to diagnose eyestrain; it is a diagnosis of exclusion after other causes of blurred vision, aching in the eye muscles, etc., are largely eliminated. A phoria is diagnosed by ophthalmology tests that provoke one eyeball to drift right, left, up, or down, even though both eyes are aimed straight ahead under normal conditions. Two of these tests are a red glass test and a cover-uncover test.

Rest will stop eyestrain temporarily, and pain medication, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, can help with discomfort. Corrective lenses may be necessary if the patient shows constant eye strain and in rare cases, eye muscle surgery may be ultimately required.  
  Whoa: Thanks to Jessie for this tres cool collage, and yeah, that's me in the glasses.

Maximum StarDoc by Jessie Taylor 
Adventures at the KeyBoard

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