Saturday, April 21, 2018

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Some of these superhero ditties even survive fifty years later...

Friday, April 20, 2018


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sometimes Life Rolls Right Over You

Confession time. Part of my rant last week was because I went in for another mammogram on April 9th. Yeah, another one. My fourth in a year.

I wish I could say I found the lump through an intended self-exam. In reality, I was working on some accounting stuff while watching a new episode of The Walking Dead at the end of March, 2017. The back of my left hand brushed against my left breast as I reached for a receipt. And I felt something hard through my t-shirt.

My first thought was "lint ball".  Sometimes, lint balls from the clothes dryer magnetically stick to my t-shirts and bras instead of getting sucked into the filter, and when I'm still half asleep while dressing, I don't notice. At a commercial, I went to the bathroom to fish out the lint ball.

It wasn't a lint ball. The hard thing was definitely under my skin. I yelled for DH and asked if he felt the same thing I did. Never one to refuse a request  to feel me up, he checked. And frowned. And checked again.

So I called my gynecologist the next morning. She got me in for a check-up a couple of days later. She checked. And frowned. And checked again.

She had an appointment for me at the diagnostic center the following Monday for a full mammogram. The radiologist didn't like the look of the x-rays, so the tech trundled me over to the ultrasound room for another look. Yep, definitely a mass inside my breast.

So I went back to my gynecologist with the test results, and she referred me to a surgeon. He checked. And frowned. And checked again. Then he did his own ultrasound and a needle aspiration. A couple of days later, he called. The biopsy results were inconclusive, but he didn't want to slice and dice without being sure. "We're going to keep an eye on it."

That was the beginning of April, and he wanted me back in August. Once again, he checked my lump. And frowned. And checked again.

Another ultrasound mammogram. Another needle biopsy. Another inconclusive result.

So Easter weekend, the surgeon's office called to set up my appointment at the diagnostic center for the whole kabob once again. X-rays showed a change to the mass. Once again, I was trundled to the ultrasound room for another look.

This time, the radiologist came in to talk to me after she looked at all the pics and comparing them to last year's. It's pretty serious if the radiologist bothers to talk to you. She had me recite everything that had been done. And frowned.

"We need to core," she said. "I'll talk to your surgeon."

Apparently, he didn't argue. The next morning, a nurse from the diagnostic center called with my appointment this week.

A core is a little more than a needle aspiration and a little less than a lumpectomy. The radiologist who did the procedure seemed pleased with the quality of the samples she pulled. Now, it's a matter of waiting for the pathology reports.

So right now, I'm sitting in my recliner with an ice pack in my bra and desperately wishing for an NSAID. (Acetaminophen doesn't do a whole lot for me.) Most of the bruising is from the doctor's generous application of lidocaine shots prior to the coring.

She also inserted a titanium clip into the hole to mark the spot. The x-ray tech took a few more pictures to mark the spot of the clip before they sent me home.

Last night, DH and I had a little fun with his stud-finder. Yep, there's definitely a bit of metal in my boob.

I don't know what's going to happen next. DH is a little upset I'm planning for the worst case scenario. I'm not being negative. I really don't want to die. But I've seen first-hand the effects of chemotherapy on people. Chemo brain is a real thing, and my ability to write will be limited if I do have to be treated for breast cancer. If the worst-case scenario happens, it will play havoc with my 2018 writing schedule, not merely delay it.

If it's not cancer, then life goes on as normal, and I stick to my original plan.

But regardless, I find being Schroedinger's cat damn annoying.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - Bright

After nagging from friends and Genius Kid, we signed up for Netflix. The first thing I watched on our new account was Bright, an urban fantasy, buddy cop flick with Will Smith. If you've watched the James Caan/Mandy Patinkin sf film Alien Nation, you've got the gist of the plot.

* * *


* * *

1) Will Smith and Joel Edgarton's onscreen chemistry.

2) Smith has gone from the brash rookie to the world-weary, marginally corrupt vet, and he makes it work.

3) The elves taking over Beverly Hills was pretty funny.

1) The pacing is off. This feels like a one-hour TV pilot that was padded out to make a feature-length film.

2) The writers were a little too heavy-handed with the social commentary. Comment is fine, but they turned it into an entire sermon.

3) Too many of the buddy cop clich├ęs made it predictable. I would have been happy with one or two surprises.

Overall, it was a decent bit of weekend fluff, Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Alien Nation, I don't think concept will be fully realized unless/until it goes to series. I give Bright 7 stars out 10.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Some of these tunes get in your head, and they evoke a particular feeling...

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Once More Into the Dungeon, Or Why Congress Is Trying to Kill You

As I tried to finish a Suzan Harden title and take a mini-vacation of Easter (while getting wildly sick), Amazon decided to launch a silent pre-emptive strike against indie erotica authors like Alter Ego--AGAIN!

This time, Amazon rank-stripped all erotica titles. And if your romance was a little too steamy, your books got thrown into the erotica dungeon.

Unfortunately, this occasion wasn't due to some prude in the ranks. Nope, this time it was due to idiots in the United States Congress. They slipped something through last week under the guise of the budget. Something to allegedly save the women and children!

Don't get me wrong. Sex trafficking is a bad, BAD thing, and it should be stopped. But the Senate and the House of Representatives have cobbled together bills (SESTA/FOSTA) that are far too broad in scope and very vague in specifics. (By the way, the primary sponsor of SESTA, Sen. Rob Portman (R) of Ohio, is a really dick, and there's part of me that wants to run against him as an independent. GRR!)

So now the major tech players are totally panicking. Amazon isn't the only one hiding stuff and shutting down shit left and right. Craigslist has already shut down their personal ads. Reddit has shut down several subforum discussions regarding sex. Barnes & Noble is kicking off writers who had the temerity of writing erotica, even if their erotic works are no longer available on B&N's website!

And before anyone thinks this is about partisanship or political parties, both sides are equally guilty in my opinion. On the surface, it seems innocuous. However, this is a blatant government attack on First Amendment rights by using the tech giants to enforce these vague policies. And I can pretty much guarantee this stupidly written law will be used to shut down health information sites.

Why do I think that? Two reasons:

(1) We've been down that rabbit hole once already. Medical websites were deactivated over Congress's last few attempts to shut down porn sites until medical exemptions were written in.

(2) Because I had to get a mammogram on Monday. Roughly a year ago, I discovered a lump in my left breast, right below the nipple. The last couple of biopsies have come back inconclusive. My surgeon doesn't want to cut if he doesn't have to, so he and my ob/gyn are keeping a close eye on the damn thing. And frankly after having my right breast sliced up sixteen years ago, I'd prefer not going through that again unless it's absolutely necessary.

I'm a strong believer in cancer screenings. I have been for the last thirty-something years. DH has already been down that ugly road, and I don't wish it on anyone. When I say please do your self-checks, I mean it. (That goes for you guys, too!) I've posted self-check videos on this blog for that very reason.

And because the 'bots that will be used to enforce these rules cannot look at context, odds are in the next few weeks this post or my account may disappear. Necessary pictures and demonstrations of techniques will disappear. And it will be detrimental to women and men alike.

If you're an Ohioan, call Sen Rob Portman at (202) 224-3353 or Se. Sherrod Brown at (202) 224-2315, and tell them SESTA needs to be refined to make it effective. If you're from another state, look up your senator or representative here. Here's the text if you wish to read it.

So let's see if these PSA are still here in a few months:

For the ladies...

And for the gentlemen...

Monday, April 9, 2018

Monday Movie Mania - For the Love of Spock

For the Love of Spock didn't make it to our little local theater during its brief theatrical release in 2016, but it has been on my To Be Watched (TBW) list since Adam Nimoy announced that he would finish the documentary that he and his father Leonard started prior to the senior Nimoy's death on February 27, 2015.

I'm not giving my customary SPOILERS warning because the elements of the movie were covered by various media outlets over the last fifty years. Not to mention, The Big Bang Theory worked the documentary itself into an episode ("The Spock Resonance" where Adam interviewed Jim Parson's character Sheldon Cooper while he was on set to actually interview Jim for his documentary about his father).

What started as a tribute to the character turned into a reflection of the character's influence on people's lives--Leonard's, his children, his personal friends, as well as colleagues and fans.

The most touching parts were the bittersweet recollections of Adam and his sister Julie. The irony that money was no longer tight mixed with the loss of their father to long hours on the sets of Star Trek and Mission: Impossible during the pre-teen and teen years right when they needed their father the most. Even more wrenching was how both Leonard and Adam's substance addictions drove a further wedge in their relationship and how they were brought back together through the terminal cancer diagnosis of Adam's second wife.

A lighter touch was shown by Leonard's brother and sister-in-law when they talk about their family not really understanding the actor's popularity until they saw him in a play in New York.

Overall, the film is Adam's wish that he hadn't lost so many years with his father and his joy that they reconciled before it was too late.

I give For the Love of Spock 10 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Music I've Been Listening to Lately

Since I'm trying to wrap up my first superhero book, I've been listening to a lot of superhero soundtracks.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Executives Just Don't Understand

I had a bizarre conversation last week. Actually, it wasn't the first time I've had this conversation with this person.

He's been an executive with different firms for the last twenty or so years. With each company, he's been responsible for making and marketing various widgets. It really doesn't matter what type of widgets. But in each case, the widgets were solid, tangible objects.

He has a very difficult time understanding how I, as one person, can produce and market a totally intangible thing that people are willing to pay money for.

The thing he can't quite grasp is that a tangible object or a service is marketed very differently than entertainment.

Why? Because in my humble opinion, it all comes down to a variation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

People need entertainment. It's an essential psychological need. My executive is used to producing widgets that were more akin to solving physical needs.

If people are living in an area that is or can become cold, they're going to need a blanket. My executive would market to people who lived in areas where they need blankets. They give him money for a blanket so they don't freeze to death. Right?

I don't deal with physical comfort. My customer is looking for a particular emotional experience. In particular, I provide excitement and adventure where justice is served in the end. Bad guys die or are apprehended for their crimes. My good gals get the guy and the acclaim. This is the value I provide to my readers.

Unfortunately, he doesn't quite get how I can upload a book to an online store and attract customers' attention. I pointed out covers and blurbs, which is a type of marketing that signals what kind of story this is. (I mean, come on! Everyone knows a woman with a sword is most likely to be fantasy, right?) I point out that I've been published in anthologies, which are akin to a sampler platter at a restaurant.

Even though I used Netflix as an examples of how people search out what they like, he still doesn't quite get it. And I finally got out of him what the real problem was--he doesn't understand an imagination. He doesn't understand how to make up shit.

I'm not sure how to explain imagination to anyone short of going Spongebob Squarepants on their ass. Anyone who's not a writer got any tips?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Still Recovering

I slept in today because I wore myself out trying to have a normal routine on Monday and Tuesday. I'm still recovering from the stupid UTI. Now, I understand why UTIs in the elderly present as signs of dementia. I feel like my brain is wrapped in layers of cotton and wool.

All this means my progress on Hero De Facto resembles the 101 at rush hour. I'm getting writing done, but it's crawling along.

I have to admit I really nervous about releasing this trilogy. It's a little new and different for me. But I don't know how much is real anxiety and how much is fuzzy brain.

I guess I'll find out over the next couple of months.