Remember that e-project I've written about in the past -- my working title "The Hunting Lodge"? It's a joint project with Grace and Destiny.
Well, back in April, Grace reworked the idea a bit and submitted it to Harlequin Spice Briefs for consideration as an erotic electronic novella. She took our basic concept and used it as a wrapper, then inserted one of her short stories from the project. She emailed it off and didn't hear back for months and months and months.
Until an email yesterday and a phone call today.
Turns out -- she sold it! Yeah!
The editor still needs to contact her about possible changes. Grace still needs to receive the contract. Details need to be worked out.
They're talking a possible electronic publication date of February or March.
Grace said they liked they idea that it was a series and they want to see more. This is where the "by association" bit comes in. See, I'm part of the writing team of [pseudonym yet to be chosen], and now I have to polish up my submission for the series.
So, while I'm celebrating for Grace, I'm panicking for myself.
Put up or shut up, Haley.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Remember that e-project I've written about in the past -- my working title "The Hunting Lodge"? It's a joint project with Grace and Destiny.
Loki got her stitches out yesterday. The vet seems happy with her results. He thinks he got the whole mast cell tumor and doesn't recommend any follow-up treatments at this time. But, we have to keep a really close eye out for future lumps that Loki may develop.
Also, where the tumor was removed, some fluid has been collecting. The vet said this is normal when a large amount of tissue is taken -- fluid collects in the opening. He drew off as much as he could, and said the rest will resolve itself over time.
So, even though the stitches are out, Miss Loki must keep away from her incision for a few more days and must still wear the T-shirt.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I'm caught up. I've posted all the stories I've been meaning to post. (OK, I still have a few from Australia to finish back in July, but I'm mostly caught up.)
If you're wondering why there have been so few posts lately, it's because life has been eventful, but yet not necessarily in a good way. A lot of health topics discussed. A lot of doctors and hospitals. Not for me, personally, thank God.
It started before Labor Day, when Marriott traveled down to Mississippi to visit her 90-something-year-old great-aunt who was in decline and needed to be hospitalized. Marriott spent a good two weeks with her in the hospital and getting her settled in a rehabilitation facility. She was back to visit last week and things are continuing to look good for her aunt.
Also around Labor Day, JC's husband went into the hospital with what they said was heart failure, but after a few weeks decided were blocked arteries in his heart. After a quadruple bypass, he was eventually released and is recovering.
Dave's sister was heavily pregnant at the time, too. She had her baby in late September (happy, healthy boy), but then had to go back into the hospital with peripartum cardiomyopathy. A rare but very serious complication from pregnancy that her cardiologist is optimistic will clear up within the next year. She's home with the baby now and doing well.
My five-year-old dog, Loki, had her annual checkup in late September. Her new vet decided to aspirate a lump on her belly, and found mast cells in it, which are a form of cancer cell. A week ago, she had the mast cell tumor removed, which involved taking the tumor and at least 3 centimeters of flesh around it. Lab results show it was a grade 2 mast cell tumor, and we'll find out from the vet on Monday what that means for Loki. The vet is very optimistic, and Loki is happy and healthy seeming, so I'm allowing myself to feel optimistic, too.
Meanwhile, Miss Loki still has stitches in her belly and is being forced to wear a T-shirt to keep her from licking the stitches until they are removed on Monday. The T-shirt looks ridiculous, but Loki doesn't mind, especially after having to wear a cone for a few days.
Also, healing thought have been going to my great-aunt Edie in Australia, who is having a slow and painful recovery from back surgery in August. Hopefully, she'll finish her rehabilitation and be back in her own house soon.
I think that's the extent of all the health news that's been consuming my conversations lately. A lot of positive healing thoughts have gone out and will continue to do so.
It's not really the CVICU itself that was redecorated, nor the waiting room outside the unit, it's the surgical waiting room associated with the unit that's been redecorated.
Why do I care? Well, when Dad had his abdominal aortic aneurysm two-and-a-half years ago, we spent many, many hours sitting in that surgical waiting room during his two surgeries. A tiny little room, probably 12-by-12, no windows, with a little television in the corner and no more than 10 chairs. I'd truthfully hoped to never have to visit that room again.
Then, in September, things went south for JC's husband. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are a dangerous cocktail. After a couple weeks in the hospital with a seemingly vague diagnosis of heart failure, it was determined that he needed bypass surgery. Her husband is only 44 years old.
So, I took the day off to keep JC company while her husband had the surgery. Unfortunatley, it's something that I have experience at -- sitting in hospital waiting rooms. Also unfortunately, it was the same hospital where my Dad went for his surgery.
I met JC in the cafeteria, where we had a late breakfast, then we journeyed up to the room. Same set of double doors you had to walk through, same nurses station you had to walk by, same long and empty hallway you had to walk down. But then, the room itself was different. A corner closed in for some sort of air filtration system, new and more comfortable chairs, the television moved, some fancy coffee machine setup installed.
I could handle this. No overwhelming flashbacks.
We talked. We chatted. We went back to the cafeteria for an early lunch. (That's what you do when you wait -- you eat a lot.) Then back to the waiting room.
Then the doctor was there with the results. They'd done quadruple bypass. Things looked good. He was in recovery and it would be over an hour before he was in his CVICU bed and available for visitors.
We took that window of time to collect JC's children from Jules' house, then met up with Marriott, who took JC and the kids back to the hospital.
That was over three weeks ago. I'm happy to report that JC's husband is home recuperating from his quadruple bypass surgery. The diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are still issues, but he has a "remodeled" heart that with proper care should last him a good many more years.
I'd survived my reunion with the CVICU surgical waiting room. Most importantly, I was happy that I'd been available to keep JC company during those long hours.
I'm about five weeks late with this, but I'm happy to report that I've been on my first official work-related overnight business trip.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. For many people that's nothing to celebrate. Some of my friends seem to spend more time on business trips than they do at home. Really. They travel that much.
But it's been over 15 years since I graduated from college, and not once in that time have I had to travel overnight for business. Sure, there were writers conferences. But those were related to fiction writing, and I have yet to earn money from that, so I don't like to count them as actual business trips. Then there was the Society of Professional Journalists conference in Indianapolis about 10 years ago, but we drove and made it a day trip. Doesn't count.
This trip was three nights in San Antonio helping a software consulting firm administer system testing on one of our regulated products. Bonus -- I got to travel with Kyle.
Oh yeah, we were busy with work. But we also managed to over-eat at a few restaurant, workout at a gym at least once (twice for Kyle), and find time to explore the Riverwalk and see the Alamo.
Some people I know NEVER sight-see when they're on business trips. Too busy. Too drained. I understand, because I was exhausted much of the trip also. But, yet, I was some place new and it would have been against my nature to not get out exploring for at least a few hours.
And now I know how cool the San Antonio Riverwalk is. How pretty the Alamo is lit up at night. And how crazy the spaghetti-bowl expressway system is there, especially when trying to use a navigation system. (There's a story here about a lot of last-minute lane changes, possibly illegal turns, and recalculations by the navigation system, but I won't embarrass Kyle with the details...)
There's aren't any more business trips in my foreseeable future. It's not part of the usual job description of a software quality engineer. But, if there are any trips, I look forward to writing about my second official business trip.
To view the full set of photos from the San Antonio trip, visit my Flickr page.
Public speaking. A common enough phobia.
Friends and co-workers told me that I actually wasn't aweful at it. That I hid my nervousness well. But I didn't feel that way. I'm terrified at the thought of getting up in front of people and not knowing what to say.
Last year I took a few classes to help me feel better prepared for public speaking. I was tired of feeling limited by my fears.
I took a four-week presentations class at the local community college, then followed that up with a five-week acting for non-actors class. Funny thing was, people who do a lot of public speaking were terrified at the idea of taking the acting class with me. Personally, I saw no difference. Public speaking was public speaking -- terrifying no matter what kind. So I took that acting class alone.
And I discovered that I wasn't too bad. Some people actually said I was funny. Quiet, little me -- funny?
Anyway, that's a long lead-in to this story.
Labor Day. Five weeks ago. Wookie was in town (thank you for the photos!) and a group of us went to the closing day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
We decided to watch a show for a comedian/acrobat named MooNiE. Very funny. He doesn't talk much at all -- most of the show is communicated through body language.
Then MooNiE brought someone up on stage to help with a skit. As I watched, I ran through the possibilities in my head: What if I get dragged up? Unlikely, since we're near the back. But what if? Obviously, play along. He wants his skit to succeed and won't set it up for failure. But, WHAT IF? You've taken a class. You've done improvisation comedy. You can handle it. Just play along and roll with it.
Good thing I had that internal dialogue. Because, not three minutes later, MooNiE tapped me on the shoulder to go on stage with him.
Deep breath. Carefully give sunglasses and purse to husband. Calmly walk up to the stage. Ignore the crowd. Watch MooNiE for cues.
Thank you, he mouths to me.
I smile. (I'm pretty sure I smile.)
He produces two red paper cocktail napkins. Hands one to me. Keeps one himself. Indicates I should follow his example.
Twist. Twist. Twist. Make a tiny tear. Twist. Twist. Twist. Shape the top.
OK, I'm doing my best to follow.
He shows me his napkin. It now looks like a pretty little red rose. A look of flirtatious pride lights his face.
I show him my napkin. It now looks like a limp and twisted red paper cocktail napkin. He looks crestfallen. The crowd laughs. He takes my napkin and tosses it aside.
Then he makes a big to-do about presenting me with the rose. He offers it, then pulls it away. Offers it again. I play along. Each time trying to take it, knowing that he'll flirtatiously pull it away again. Each time the crowd laughs. Each time I laugh.
He gets down on one knee and offers the rose. He kisses my cheek then offers the rose. Then he indicates that I should kiss his cheek.
It's blazing hot. There's sweat dripping down his face. I feel the need to improvise. Oh, no. I look reluctant. I reach forward and wipe the sweat from his cheek. Ah-ha! He laughs.
He runs forward, grabs a towel and wipes his face. He returns to me and presents his now-dried cheek. OK. I lean forward to kiss him.
He turns his head. I end up kissing his lips. D'oh! I didn't see that coming. I *should* have seen it coming.
I laugh. The crowd laughs. He hands me the rose and leads me off stage.
Whew! I'd survived.
"You did good," my husband said as I sat down. "You were funny."
"I've never seen anyone do that before," said the stranger next to me, who's evidently seen the show multiple times before.
I was happy. I'd face my fear. I hadn't died onstage. Two years ago, I never would have done it. But, that day, my worst nightmare actually turned out kind of funny.
I was feeling brave. I'd survived my trip onstage with MooNiE. I'd even gotten in front of dozens of people at Vegetable Justice and tried to throw tomatoes at a man while he insulted me (didn't hit him though... would have liked to!) Now we were near the end of our day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, and my girlfriend's 16-year-old daughter wanted me to try the Pirate's Assault Catapult.
Combine a trampoline, a harness and bungee chords. Get in the harness and jump as high as you can on the trampoline with the bungee chords giving you extra lift. That's the Pirate's Assault Catapult.
There's not an amusement park ride that scares me, I boldly think. I'm within the weight limits (barely). So what if I'm wearing a skirt (they have a system to deal with that)? So what if I'm the only adult in line (I do care, but my friend's daughter doesn't want to go alone)? OK, I'm in.
They help me into the harness. They rig up a big towel like a diaper to preserve my modesty (lots of younger girls are wearing them, too... that doesn't help, it still looks like a diaper...). As I wait, a girl across the way does flips on the trampoline. My husband, Dave, tells me that I'll be able to do flips like that. Sure, I think. OK.
They strap me into the bungee chords, then tell me to start jumping. It takes a few jumps to get going, then I finally get to the top height.
Oh my god. Is that my stomach I just felt drop?
Next jump. Oh my god. Am I going to survive this?
Next jump. Oh my god. Don't get sick. Please don't get sick.
A few jumps later. Maybe I'll survive this. I'm not sure. I still feel sick.
Next jump. Is that Dave telling me to flip? No way! I'm barely holding it together.
A few jumps later. Really Dave. I'm not going to flip. You have no idea...
A few jumps later. "I can hear you Dave." There, I talked!
A few jumps later. OK maybe I'll try a flip. Maybe. On the next one. Or two...
A few jumps later. "Next one" I tell the worker.
Next jump. I make it half way over.
Next jump. I flip! Cool!
Next jump. Another flip. I think I crack a smile.
"Last one" the worker tells me. OK. Flip again. Definitely smile.
Then it was over. I was ecstatic. I'd flipped. I'd looked ridiculous as hell in my diaper. Most importantly -- I'd kept my lunch down. Just barely. :-) Ironic enough, it was scarier than getting onstage with MooNiE had been.
Update 2-21-08: I should have credited Wook with taking the photos. (Sorry Wook.) The top one shows me and my friend's daughter. The bottom one shows two other people, one of them flipping.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Cathie Linz has a new book out: Big Girls Don't Cry. It has a fabulous cover and I can't wait to read it.
Jules and I went to Cathie's one-and-only planned booksigning on Saturday in Naperville. Cathie had a nice turnout, and it was great to get to see and talk with some other local writers. I've posted a set of photos from the signing on Flickr.
When that kitten has babies, of course.
OK, so Momma kitten was about nine months old at the time and by some standards no longer a kitten, but for all intents she was still a baby and too young to safely reproduce. So -- four kittens.
Jules' husband brought Momma home from work one day. She'd been hanging around his office in a business park somewhere. A friendly stray.
They brought her in to the vet to have her checked out and vaccinated before introducing her to their other cat Suess.
Surprise! Momma was pregnant and about a week from delivery.
No vaccinations could be given. They'd have to keep the cats separated. They set up a kitten nursery in the bathroom and waited.
Momma went into labor, but things didn't progress well. They ended up bringing her into the vet, who advised them that Momma wouldn't survive without an emergency C-section. About a thousand dollars latter, Momma and the three surviving kittens came home.
There was some hand-feeding and nursing involved, a few bites and scratches, and a lot of TLC. Jules' kids and various guests have enjoyed playing with the kittens for the past 10 weeks.
Last night, Momma and the little girl Cali went home to a new family. The little boys are still there. Jules is looking for a home for the yellow, but thinks they'll end up keeping the gray one. (Me? I have my excuse for not taking one -- horrible cat allergies. But trust me, even with the allergies, it's hard to say no.)
I've posted a set of photos of the kittens on Flickr. Here's one of my favorites:
Friday, October 05, 2007
I was playing with some Flickr add-ons tonight, and found a little feature that prompted me to search for my own photos on blog-monitoring sites. (Appropriately titled "ego surf"!)
Anyway, it turns out that two of my photos were posted on a Nature's Wrath blog back in August.
The benefits of uploading photos in a timely manner with some description of what's happening, I guess.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
My nephew "Louis" had his family birthday party over the weekend. He's 8 years old now. Eight!
His special request for a birthday cake? That his Mom make him a yellow cake with vanilla frosting and write on it for him. A boy after my own heart, although I would have requested a homemade chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. :-)
Louis has his friends party coming up in a few weeks. He's asked for another house party. The theme this year? Video games. Should be fun! (Last year the theme was everything backwards.)
A warm welcome to my new nephew "Peanut".
A big boy at 9 pounds, 11 ounces! But he's a sweetie!
His Mom, Dave's sister, is having a really rough recovery, but despite some serious complications, we hope things are on the upswing. Healing thoughts her way.
"Peanut", incidentally, shares a birthday with another nephew of mine, "Louis".
(Technical question: To use the term "birthday twin", does the birth year matter? Do they have to be born the same date and year, or just the same date?)
Monday, October 01, 2007
Cool internet feature I found. Allows you to create your own custom map of countries and states you've visited.
Here's my world map:
create your own visited countries map
And here's my U.S. map:
create your own visited states map
I admit, I may not be perfect in my recollections of where I've been, but my mistakes are mistakes of omission.
And here are the countries in Europe I've visited:
create your personalized map of europe