Well, the title isn’t entirely true. I do get the internet on my phone, but there are some places I can’t comment, and I find it a lot more tiring to deal with Facebook and websites on my phone than on my laptop.
So technically, in the laptop-connecting-to-the-internet way, my family has been without phone service and internet for the past week due to an unfortunate snippage of wires in the attic while hooking up a ceiling fan to electricity. (In my hubby’s defense, there were a LOT of non-essential wires from the previous owner’s alarm system. Shoddily done in the attic and sprawled all over. Plus, it was 90 outside – well over 100 in the attic.)
But as I’ve been in and out of reality anyway while on pain meds, I haven’t really missed it (with the exception of the blog posts I wanted to write). I’ve read close to two dozen novels at this point but haven’t reviewed them. I find I’m slowing down more, I’m learning which emails I read and which I really don’t, and paring down my email groups accordingly.
I also am learning what I miss, twitter being one of them (and the ability to easily do research the other one). My first day out of the house this week was Wednesday, and I headed to Coffee Bean and the free WiFi…and reconnected with the good folks at #MyWANA. I even did a couple #1k1hr rounds, which kickstarted my writing again.
The really interesting thing is, no one at the house is overly-itchy about not having internet. Hubby has been valiantly sitting in the ugliest sauna ever (our attic) while painstakingly tracing wires and connecting things up (we now have a landline that works – in our closet), and yes we’re checking our cell phones to keep on top of our email, but other than that, we’re all pretty loose about not having it. Which frankly is something of a relief.
Of course, the boys are back at Moorpark College, so they have WiFi there. And the Hubby has gone off to Coffee Bean without me when he really had to have connectivity. But there are no overt signs of withdrawal, and that’s all to the good I think.
The last time I went a week without the internet was a couple of years ago, when we went camping for 10 days and I deliberately left my laptop at home. And now that I think about it, the week prior to losing internet I found I was sitting too much and staring online (not writing, not yet) and that wasn’t good for the incision, even when I did use an icepack. So not having internet this past week has allowed me to read more, nap much more, and begin to write (at Coffee Bean) and continue to write (at home) and, most likely, has helped speed the healing process.
I really wanted to get a wine blog posted today, but I was writing on the novel yesterday and I didn’t feel good about bringing empty wine bottles to Coffee Bean. I will do my best to get one written today at home, and post it tomorrow. For as I mentioned to my dear friend Maria, while I’m not drinking wine at the moment due to the drug consumption (and the fact that it tastes bad to me currently), I do have empty bottles sitting on my desk, waiting for their moment in the sun.
At this point, I think we’ll have connectivity next week. If, after this weekend the hubs can’t figure it out, he’ll call a friend of his that’s a phone guy.
So, that’s my week in a nutshell. When was the last time you were without Internet? Did you do it deliberately, or was it accidental? Are you one of those people that checks their smartphone before you go to sleep, and is it the first thing you reach for when you wake up? I’d love to know!
Welcome to the last installment of The Uterus Chronicles! If you need to get caught up, here’s Episode 1 and Episode 2.
As mentioned at the end of Episode 2, I had found the right doctor for me (who ended up being a surgeon), and had scheduled my hysterectomy for August 7th 2012, a week and a day ago.
(There are other places to go for in-depth information on hysterectomies, alternatives, risks and whatnot – one of the best places being the HysterSisters, celebrating their 14th anniversary this month. I learned a lot at their site, though I wasn’t a frequent contributor. )
So, last week I had my hysterectomy. I actually walked into the operating room – wow, what an experience! I tried to catalog as much as I could with my writer’s brain. It’s true, operating rooms are very white, very bright (even without those huge lights over the bed turned on). Two nurses were counting surgical instruments (of which there were LOTS – like, way too many to be used on my body); the Chief of Anesthesia was there doing his thing prior to giving me an epidural; a couple other nurses were busy doing something (but they were behind me, so I couldn’t see what they were doing).
As soon as I felt the numbing go down to my toes, I swung up my legs and settled on the operating table before the epidural settled into my butt. And that’s pretty much the last thing I remember before waking up in recovery.
Soon, I was happy to get settled in my own room. The doc took pictures of my incised uterus (which I am NOT sharing here – you’re welcome!) and showed the hubs before I got to see them – and I must say, the photos were impressive. As reported elsewhere, the typical female uterus is 6-8 cm. Mine was 22 cm. I liken it to the size of a little kid’s soccer ball (for four-year-olds). Plus, my uterus held over 40 fibroids of all sizes and calcifications, the largest of which was 8cm. Apparently, my OR team was impressed (and I ended up being the talk of the doc’s office staff, as well, lol). All in all, it needed to come out. I’d made the right decision.
After some hemoglobin issues during recovery (my body recalibrating itself), and some pain med issues (they bumped me up to percocet), I finally came home Thursday evening. Grateful to be here, despite the heat.
One of the takeaways from this experience for me is, surprisingly, the pain management. I had a low, bikini-cut incision that was carefully stitched internally and seamed with glue on the outside (kinda neat, I think). I can tell when I’m in pain (besides, you know, the pain) – the area around the incision gets hot. It never got hot in the hospital, nor did it when I was on the percocet. (I switched over to the vicodin when it became apparent that I’d never eat solid foods again while on perc.)
“Staying on top of the pain” is more than mere med-speak. It’s real, it’s vital, and it’s damned hard to do. Do I sleep, or set my alarm to take my meds at the right time? I’ve gotten all discombobulated the past three days, which has made the pain management difficult. The boys are working with me, and I’ve got a whiteboard telling me what to take when, but still getting the right pills inside me at the right time has been interesting, frustrating, and an intellectual exercise (how in the hell do soldiers, who live by “toughing it out”, deal with pain meds?).
Other writers may write really well on drugs – I, however, am not one of them. It’s too hard for me to keep my story in mind as I write, so until the pain meds get tapered to just ibuprofen, I’m sticking to reading and blog post writing (because that’s about my attention span, lol).
As my doctor said, the body heals slower when in pain (which is why he advocates an epidural during surgery – keeps a lot of the pain at bay those first 12 – 24 hours). Staying pain-free is imperative to healing, at this stage. I’m also learning that just because I might not be in immediate pain (when the vicodin has kicked in and I’m floating) doesn’t mean it’s okay to haul around cast iron pans, or gallons of milk, or that I should bend over to feed the cat. My old
nemesis friend, patience, keeps patting my hand and telling me to relax and about an hour after the meds kick in, I do relax. But I’m looking forward to this part of the journey being over.
The big takeaway for me, however, is to encourage everyone to pay attention to your body. When I was in my twenties, I kept a couple pages in my day planner to detail my monthly cycle. Days I started, how heavy the flow, etc. I only wish, now, that I had kept it up through the years. If I had, I might have caught that my periods were getting heavier; that I was gaining weight without changing my eating habits; that my stomach seemed hard, and bulgy (because, you know, it wasn’t my stomach).
I wish I had mentioned the heavy periods to my doctor; that I’d complained more about the little things that could have led them to a diagnosis of fibroids sooner. More than anything, I wish our culture wasn’t so afraid to talk about uterus issues. I wish I had had a community of women to turn to when things started to change (the curse of being in a small nuclear family without an extended family).
I have that community now. Women I’ve been friends with have opened up to me and shared their experiences. They’ve taken me under their wing and assured me all will be well and I believe them, completely. But not having that community is why I posted such a deeply personal topic on this blog in the first place. I didn’t know where else to go, didn’t want to whisper about it, and saw no reason to hide an issue that may face every woman (or her friend) at some point or another.
Speak up. For yourself to a doctor. To a friend in need. Reach out and help where you can, and ask for help when you need it. Women’s health, while it has come a long way, is still in many ways a shadowy part of medicine (in the fact that uterus issues aren’t openly talked about) and it doesn’t have to be that way. It SHOULDN’T be that way.
Plus, we’re all getting older. PAY ATTENTION to your body. Make notes of how you feel, maybe once a month. I’m not advocating being paranoid; I’m advocating being aware. Its so easy to ignore stuff that may be bothersome; but if you can catch a health issue before it becomes an emergency, you and your loved ones will be far better off.
Okay my chicks, lecture over! Back to our regularly-scheduled Wine Fridays…thanks for listening.
~ ~ ~
This concludes Christine’s two years of health issues. She will be back to her regularly healthy self very soon, and appreciates your patience with her. She has renewed her warranty for the next 50 years, to her hubby’s satisfaction.
It is no secret that I love romance novels. I started reading Harlequins when I was 13, eventually branching out to longer romance novels and then the subgenres of romance as time went on. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve read a lot of category romance.
That changed this week as I experienced the next step in the Uterus Chronicles (Episode 3, not yet written). After surgery, in the hospital, the first day I couldn’t do much but deal with the waves of pain and the waves of pain relief in the form of Percocet. Once my vision settled down though (everything rolled upwards – impossible to read the entire first day), I was ready to be entertained.
Though my hubby was ready and willing to entertain me, my brain wasn’t really in a chatty mood so I turned to the stack of category novels I’d brought with me. About half of them I’d picked up at the Romance Writers of America Conference in late July.
They were perfect. Fast reads, just detailed enough to drag me out of my circumstances, and yet short enough to give me a sense of accomplishment when I was done. I don’t remember when I read what, but from Wednesday through Friday, I read nine category-length novels. (There was no way in hell I was able to put my own words on paper; this seemed to be the next best thing.)
Here’s a sampling of what I read:
Night After Night by Kathy Lyons , Harlequin Blaze April 2012
I picked this up at conference the night of the booksigning. I’d met Kathy Lyons at RT in Anaheim 2011, and found her to be a hoot and a half. I’d nabbed one of her plastic cell phone holders, and use it every day at the day job, so I had to tell her about it. That she writes for Blaze is a bonus. (And I bumped into Brenda Chin while talking to Kathy, so that was fun!)
The novel? Loved it. An intriguing premise of two strangers sharing intimate dreams, which freaks out our sexy military hero; outside of sex, what secrets is he unknowingly sharing as he sleeps? Our heroine is no slouch in the dream department; nor is she a “typical” heroine, in that she has real physical issues. This novel weaves to a very satisfying, very romantic ending.
Tall, Dark & Reckless by Heather MacAllister Harlequin Blaze, July 2012
I started reading this one prior to surgery, and didn’t finish it until a couple of days later, so it took me a bit to get back into the rhythm of it. That said, I enjoyed it. Mark’s a journalist who tends to go with his gut (i.e., get a bit reckless in the field). Piper is a compatibility expert hired to find the perfect partner for Mark. Now, any reader of category knows these two will get together in the end. What was interesting was HOW they got past all their barriers to accept they belonged together.
This novel had the danger element in a Mexican drug trafficker that Mark needs to put down. While it wasn’t military, it had a military – or at least special ops – feel to it. Putting Piper in with a guy like Mark felt kinda like Carrie Bradshaw showing up in a Mission Impossible movie. Well, not really, but I had my doubts going into it. The writing, however, made everything work, so Kudos to Heather!
More Than He Expected by Andrea Laurence Harlequin Desire, July 2012
Another book I picked up at RWA 2012, I must say this book charmed the socks off me. Who wouldn’t love a playboy who melts, gets all protective and aroused around a pregnant woman? And not just any pregnant woman, but the one he had a no-strings-attached affair with, 8 months ago? Alex the wealthy, hardworking playboy and Gwen the nurse are two wonderful characters, and their story is a delight to read.
The baby isn’t his (but I can’t say more). As these two renew their acquaintance at a house party in the Hamptons, sparks fly, and it only takes a few days for love to flare between them. After I finished it, I put this book down with a happy sigh. Well-written, it evokes a lifestyle I’ve envied, and I truly enjoyed watching Gwen get pampered and Alex losing his heart to her.
Exquisite Acquisitions by Charlene Sands Harlequin Desire, August 2012
This book has a little bit of everything in it that I love. Auction houses, New York City, Hollywood, Cowboys, huge cattle ranches. Wealthy rancher Carter McCay hits up the auction house to buy one of the famous Tarlington diamond rings. He gets one ring, but not the girl…Macy Tarlington just wants to hide, and grieve, until the hoopla around the auction of her legendary actress mother’s things dies down.
Carter rescues Macy from a flock of paparazzi and invites her to escape to Wild River Ranch. She accepts this offer from a stranger, and both of their lives are changed forever. This is a jewel of a book, filled with surprises and delights as well as two strong main characters. I enjoyed every inch of their romance.
At a time when I was in and out of pain, when my brain cells were still shaking off anesthesia and I didn’t want to talk or watch TV but was desperate for a way out of my own head, category romance came to my rescue. There is just no way I could have followed bigger stories set on other planets (for instance) with multiple characters – my brain couldn’t have, WOULDN’T have, been able to process it.
My thanks and gratitude to all category writers everywhere.
Do you read category romance? Do you have a favorite line?
Thanks for stopping by!
In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 – unless mentioned otherwise.
First off, my apologies for slacking off in the wine post department. I will do my best to keep up, as it’s a joy to do (well, someone has to drink the wine!). Today I’ve got a white wine and three reds. Some may seem to “big” for summer drinking, but I’m always up for a big red wine.
Beringer Chenin Blanc America’s Favorite 2010 Alcohol 11.5% by volume; $6.99 at Vons.
On the Label: “Since 1976, Beringer has crafted award-winning wines in Napa Valley, and this Chenin Blanc is no exception. Crisp and refreshing, bursting with the aromas and flavors of fresh fruit, America’s favorite Chenin Blanc is well suited on its own or as the perfect complement to a meal. If you enjoy our Chenin Blanc, try our Moscato. Serve chilled.
Please visit us at beringer.com .”
My take: Perfect for a hot summer night. Chilled, with ice, or with ice and soda water for a spritzer, it’s a lovely, lightly sweet, satisfying wine at a low alcohol content (so you can enjoy more of it).
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ whether you put ice in it or not!
Cline Zinfandel California 2008 Alcohol 14% by Volume; $11.99 at Vons, on sale.
On the Label: “Meticuous farming. Mature fruit. Handmade wines. Severe selection. Master blending. From repeated tasting of the fruit in the vineyard to seeing the grapes come through the hopper, we still do it the old-fashioned way. We think it shows in the bottle, the only thing that matters. Abundant cherry and vanilla nuances fill the nose and follow through to mouth-filling dark berry fruit and spice. Supple tannins linger with a smooth finish. Try this wine with penne putanesca, grilled steak or chili con carne.”
My take: At the beginning, this bottle had a slightly raisiny taste. I’m not sure if, after four years in the bottle, it was past its prime already, or if it just hadn’t opened up yet. Sure enough, after half an hour had passed, the raisiny flavor had disappeared, leaving a lovely, deeply colored Zinfandel that had lots of fruit. It ended up being quite a tasty wine.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Not higher, because that raisiny taste took some time to wash away.
Blackstone Winemaker’s Select Red Blend 2010 California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume. $8.99 at Vons.
On the Label: “Our Blackstone red wine is produced from vineyards located throughout California’s finest grape growing regions. After harvest, each vineyard lot is carefully developed to capture its distinctive flavors and aromatic qualities.
“Our wine is a blend of California’s best red wine varietals and emulates Blackstone’s style; smooth, flavorful and balanced. This wine is soft and silky with flavors of ripe plum, blackberry and dark chocolate with a long, lush finish.”
My Take: I enjoyed this wine. It wasn’t bombastic, as some red blends can get; it wasn’t sweet, either, another possibility with red blends. It was perfect with grilled pizza and a salad on a hot summer night. So far, all the Blackstone wines I’ve tasted have been right on the money.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
Pascual Toso Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Barrancas Vineyards Mendoza, Argentina 14% Alcohol by Volume; $24.99 on Sale at Duke of Bourbon (local wine & liquor shop).
On the Label: “This wine is aged in small oak barrels at Barrancas Winery situated in Maipu, Province of Mendoza, one of the prime wine producing areas of Argentina. It has an unique cherry color mature fruits, black pepper, coffee and mint. Well integrated with vanilla wich (sic) comes from 12 months of oak ageing (sic) . A very well structured wine, with a nice body and a lengthy finish.”
My Take: I don’t remember why I bought this bottle of celebratory wine; but I was so glad I did. We had it with steaks and smashed potatoes and broccoli, and it really made a good meal fantastic. I did pour it off into a carafe, and let it air for about half an hour. The wait was rewarding, as the wine was smooth, and rich, and complemented the steak beautifully.
Every now and then, you just need to celebrate. If you can find this wine under $30, you’re doing good!
My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~
Do you have a wine you’d like me to try? Drop me a comment, and let’s discuss!
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly!
My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!
Besides all the wonderful people I saw at conference, besides the fantastic roomies and the terrific luncheon speakers and the marvelous fun of watching the Golden Heart and Rita awards ceremony (though afterward it got to be way too much for my sense of balance, sigh), there were, first and foremost, the workshops.
This year there were a LOT of workshops on self-publishing. Of which I took, oh, um, none. But I’m not worried, I know the information is out there and I have some very good friends to lean on if I decide to go that route. But the point is, RWA is changing. Yes, slowly, but they’re changing. So huge props and kudos to them.
Of the workshops that I did take, well, I just flipped through my notebook full of notes. I learned so much, and reading through it refreshed my memory – but there’s far too much to share! So I’ll just do snippets.
Christyne Butler did an awesome workshop on the “Soapy Way to Writing Category”. In a nutshell? Watch the soaps. THAT’s how to write category. Each character’s voice is distinctive (which should be true no matter what you write); don’t waste words on places that aren’t a big part of the story. Plus she quoted Jenny Cruisie’s 2003 keynote speech – “don’t be a writer, be a storyteller”. It was the last workshop time of the conference – and I won a “Save the Cat” book by Blake Snyder! Very pleased, as I’ve been wanting that book. But I REALLY enjoyed Christyne’s presentation.
Tamara Hogan and Susan Sey gave a workshop on writing villains – they urged us to “embrace our inner sociopath”. “A great villain forces you to create a great hero.” This resonated with me, seeing as how I’ve got to really ramp up my villain in my Demon series. This one wasn’t recorded, but they were very funny and I learned a lot.
Erin Quinn gave a wonderful workshop on the Simply Organic Structure, which I’m definitely going to use in my next book. She highly recommends daily goals, and to keep track for a week or so to see how much, really, that you write in a day. Because as she put it, “if you don’t know how you do what you do, how can you replicate it?” Good question. This is definitely a workshop to listen to if you have access to the CDs from the conference.
Harlequin Blaze Author Tawny Weber (one of my FAVs) and Blaze editor Brenda Chin gave an excellent workshop on “everything I learned about writing I learned from writing category romance”. The important stuff in category? The Foundation. Hooks, Plot, Character and Pacing. First, know what line you want to write. Next, character and voice are paramount – everything else can be fixed. The Blaze books are about 50/50 in both the hero and heroine’s POV. Plus, the reader must love the hero right off the bat. Remember, the heroine is just like you and me – connect with the heroine’s fears quickly. Plus the love scenes MUST move the story forward. (Okay, here my notes degenerate into scribbles. But trust me, this is a MUST LISTEN if you want to write for Blaze in particular.)
I’ve been reading a LOT of Blaze books lately, and I can tell you they are similar in one area – they are highly charged, emotional, sexy books with main characters you fall in love with. But that’s it. The field is wide open there as far as story lines go, which makes me very happy. The voice that sells the best is a light, humorous, snarky one, but they accept other voices as well.
As a side note, I got to spend some time with Brenda at conference – it felt like those first two days, we kept bumping into each other, which was fun. We chatted about kayaking and camping (neither of which I have done in too long, drat it anyway) and all in all, my editor-crush is still in full bloom. I also had a formal pitch session to her (my pitch sucked, and she called me on it, lol) and she helped me wrestle out a plot. I can’t wait to dig into it and am doing research on the sly, in between words on the current book (which MUST get done by the end of August). Seeing both her and Tawny so soon after Desert Dreams was too cool. I also got to meet Blaze author Rhonda Nelson, and I really enjoy her writing so that was neat!
I was absolutely delighted to sit in on a workshop by Yasmine Galenorn, an online friend and the author of the Otherworld series which I love. Titled “From Witches to Dragons”, she made a clear delineation between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The goal in PR is saving the relationship. In UF, the goal is saving the world. That, right there, was a big ah ha! moment for many in the audience.
She had something to say about villains, too – she said the most interesting ones are the intelligent tricksters. And sex scenes? She says to get comfortable saying the words out loud. Make the sex scenes emotional, find that connection between the two (or more) and make the reader feel it.
Plus use the magic of “What if”!
So that’s all for now…my brain is exploding again with all the good info. Sorry there aren’t any pretty pictures. I’ve sworn off them for now while I figure out the new WANATribe picture sharing stuff.
On a SIDE Note – a book club organizer has contacted me about coming to speak to their club – they’re going to be reading DEMON HUNT next! Yay!
Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for your patience with me – I promise to get back to the wine blogs this week. Pinky-swear!