Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Help the Red Cross!

This is for a great cause, all! Susan Grant is also in this anthology! “A Dance Through the Garden of Good and Evil” featured in BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEVAMPYRED by Susan Grant
(Triskelion Press)

Welcome to Brokenoggin Falls, where the housewives are not only desperate, they’re Witches! (And one of them might be a Harpy) The spells cast by moonlight frequently go awry. And there are times when toads and Chihuahuas seem abundant as black flies in the summer, the dragons are a little touchy, the Forest Trolls are in danger of extinction from teeny-boppers, the Gryphons need help conceiving and...the scientist are crunchy and good with ketchup...

All proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the International Red Cross.

Friday, October 14, 2005

When is a Hero a Hero?

So, in order to take my mind off my back, I thought I’d tell you about a non-romance romance book I just read. Oh, you know the kind. They parade around as another genre, but really, at the heart of it all, it’s a romance.

When I was in the shower, I debated telling you the name of this very celebrated SF/Fantasy/Paranormal author. I’m big on throwing it out there and calling a spade a spade. But then I thought that sure as God made little apples, someone who reads this is her best friend, will forward the link to her and then I’ll end up on the receiving end of unpleasantness, no matter how true what I’m about to say is. So we’ll call her the Author and leave it at that.

Okay, so here’s the set up. It’s WWI. Evil witch step-monster (really, she’s a witch) has seduced the heroine’s father and sent him to his death in the trenches for his money. Only she’s made a boo-boo, since she forgot to have hubby change his will, so she must keep her step daughter alive to have access to the money. Using black magic, she traps the heroine to the house by cutting off her pinky finger and burying under the hearthstone. The heroine, it turns out, is also magically gifted. She is able to slip out and visit a nearby field, where she meets her old crush, injured in the war.

So far so good. Here’s where I started to get mildly annoyed.

The hero is a magical master of air (the heroine will become one of fire). When his plane is shot down, he is already in a bad mental place, killing people when his job has always been one of protecting human life. When the plane crashes, the earth collapses around him and he’s tortured by beasties. To save himself, he cuts off his magic, which was attracting the evil monsters.

Up to here, I was with her. When we’re in the hero’s point of view, I found him a bit whiny and a little too sorry for himself, but my gut reaction was – how bold! She’s really set up a hero who has a far way to go to be whole again! Fantastic.

But while the heroine grows, learning not from the hero (which would have made sense in my opinion since he’s another master) but from her dreams, the hero is a wreck and stays that way. He opens up his magic to save the heroine at the end, but the moment something goes wrong, he’s in a pathetic ball on the floor (literally) with the heroine having to save them both. Boo! Boo! Boo!

Well, it’s not a romance, you say huffily. He doesn’t have to grow!

And my answer is this – why in the heck would the heroine WANT him? I mean, he’s hot. Fine. But the heroine, who I’ve spent 500+ pages with tiny print getting to know, is this strong, rocking lady fighting against evil. What on earth attracts her to the hero?? I couldn’t figure it out and suspected the author was not going to have them be together in the end. They were, by the way. The author stuck her heroine with a useless wuss. I was saddened.

In my opinion, a hero is a guy who grows, overcomes his weaknesses and triumphs. He doesn’t have to save the heroine for me to like him, either. He just has to be lovable for both me and the heroine. Someone who can’t stop feeling sorry for himself isn’t heroic. You had a horrible thing happen to you – how terrible! Now get over it and help the save the heroine from certain death, dammit!!!!

This hero was stuck in limbo. There was page after page of nightmares all the way to the end of the book. Every time the heroine met him for another useless talk in the meadows, he jumps, totally startled. Come ON! She can sneak up on you once, but really! Put your big boy panties on and let’s start acting like a man.

I realize the author was carefully writing a romance that didn’t come off looking like a romance. I’m down with that. God knows, as an art form, romance writing is considered a joke. But as I read, I became convinced that by focusing so completely on the heroine and short changing the hero, she actually short changed her heroine as well. It was hard to be happy for a woman who is with a man solely because he’s hot and she’s had a years old crush on him. There must be more or the whole story falls apart and your reader gets to THE END calling bullshit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Sad Truth

I'm going to try to tell this story without whining, but it's hard, so forgive me in advance. Theoretically, it should explain why I've been silent for almost a month now. It's kind of a pathetic story, but I did learn something very important out of it, so maybe it wasn't all for nothing. You might learn something too, so read on!

About 9 months ago, my back went from being "not right" to just plain painful. So I trucked on in to my doctor, who told me I needed to do yoga. I'm in pain, right? Lying in bed at night, my upper back and neck were burning and I kept thinking, "I'm 33 years old. This just can't be right." The yoga helped me clear my head and I really enjoyed it. But my back pain didn't go away.

On the first of March, I went back to my doctor. I had to lie and say it was an emergency, since getting in to see her would be a three month wait if I didn't. Anyway, she tells me to up my yoga to three times a week. I push back and say I've been going for three times a week. She sends me for x-rays, but won't refer me to a specialist. She says at my age, I don't need to see one.

Two weeks later I'm diagnosed with arthritis. Um. Okay. Can't do anything for arthritis but take Tylenal and deal with the pain. I'm crushed, but what can you do? A 33 year old with arthritis is rare and, according to the internet, means that I'll have serious problems later on. My stress level jumps, but I power on, trying to ignore it.

Months go by. My pain is steadily increasing. Then one day last month, I'm reading the mail and I see that Aetna (my insurance company) has gotten rid of the referral process. I can book my own appointment with any specialist I want. Marching upstairs, I call a friend who works in a physical therapy office and ask if she can recommend a non-surgical orthopedic. She does. I comb the Aetna site and see I can go there. I call and make an appointment.

The upshot of it all is that I was misdiagnosed with arthritis. What my doctor was seeing was not arthritis at all, but rather the gooey fluid in three of the discs in my back leaking out. Which explains the constant burn in my neck and upper back, since the tissue around my spine doesn't really care for that gooey fluid to be hanging around.

So for the last two weeks, I've been in serious physical therapy, traction - the works. Trying to basically untwist my spine and get my vertebrae off my discs. What saddens me is that while I can stop the damage, the discs that are damaged are damaged for good. The gooey insides aren't going back inside, although getting the vertebrae off the discs will allow the fluid to retract somewhat.

What caused this? Sitting at my PC. It's as simple as that. Because I spend so many hours here, writing without a break, I've jacked my back up for life.

What can YOU do to not end up where I am? Get up every 20 minutes and stretch. Keep the weight off and your posture correct. Staying at your PC long enough that you become tired and hunch forward is the beginning of the end, my friends. Keep your shoulders down and your head in alignment with your spine. Work out, concentrating on building your back and stomach muscles.

What did I learn from all this? I could go on a serious rant, but this has gotten too long as it is. The upshot is if you're in pain, get a freaking second opinion. I knew my back was jacked up. I laid in bed every night thinking "Jesus, I'm in pain." My husband said one day out of the blue, "I'm concerned about you. There isn't a day that goes by that you don't mention that you're in pain. Yoga isn't working." Listen to your body and if you're dealing with a doctor who won't listen, go to someone else. I was so afraid of being a "whiner" that I ignored my health. Because I let things go so long, the muscles throughout my back are a mess. I am riddled with knots and all kinds of complications. Yesterday in Physical Therapy, I cried. CRIED!!! I have a firm policy against that. Six months ago, things wouldn't have been anywhere near this bad.

Take your back seriously, ladies. Once things go down hill, it's hell to get them right again.

New Books!!

Howdy all!

As I was looking through the bookstore yesterday, I saw the following books I'm really excited about!

First - Kick @ss - which has several kick ass authors in it, including two of my favorites - Angela Knight and MaryJanice Davidson.

Read excerpts:
Angela's Warfem
Passion instantly blazes between the two superhuman warriors, but old enemies and new lies may tear them apart. And Alina dreads what Baird will do when he finds out about the secret she’s been keeping for the past twenty years. But she soon discovers she’s not the only one keeping secrets.
MaryJanice's Misadventures of Boo
Former police officer Gregory wonders how life can be so unfair. Recently, he was turned into a vampire and to make matters worse, he has met his soulmate (that is, if he had a soul). The problem is his beloved wants to kill him as Boo is a bona fide vampire hunter.

Also - check out Angela Knight's MERCENARIES!

Read an excerpt!

Beautiful Trinity Yeager's mission: join Nathan August's star-hopping team of mercenary soldiers. With one condition: Trinity must prove her resilience as a lover for him and his first officer, Sebastian Cole. Trinity not only sees Nathan's bet. She raises it... Now, from galactic dens of depravity to far-reaching planets of dominant females and strapping male slaves, Trinity, Sebastian, and Nathan join forces, risk flesh and blood, and push the boundaries of erotic adventure in order to protect, honor, and service.

Finally, check out: “Candy Cox and the Big Bad (Were) Wolf” featured in BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEVAMPYRED by PC Cast. PC Cast is not only witty and wonderful as a person, but this story is sure to be a scream!

All proceeds from the sales of this book will go to the International Red Cross.

Godiva Tawdry casts a spell and burned-out school teacher Candy Cox finds the sexy young were-lover of her dreams. But when she finds out he’s really the pack slut, she sets out to “teach” him a life lesson. It’s never smart to piss off a woman who makes a career of disciplining teenagers