The Ides of NaNoWriMo

It’s early on November 15th, 2016 and my NaNo word count is at 30,000 and change. 5000 words ahead, 20,000 more to go to win at 50,000.

500-words

I’me being a NaNo rebel this year, meaning I’m not writing a new novel, I’m doing whatever the heck I want. I don’t really need a new story in my head at this point.

Here’s what I’m doing instead:

Continuing to revise Killing Julie. This started out as What Deosn’t Kill You for 2010’s NaNo. I had started to revise it a few years ago, but it got lost on my broken hard drive, but that’s okay. I’m liking this better. For NaNo I’m adding 2 new points of view, one  first person POV (as is Julie’s) for the love interest Dan and one 3rd person that will cover Julie’s experiences with her psycho ex-lover. I changed the title becaseu there are literally thousands of book and series title that use What Doesn’t Kill You somehow.

Here’s the premise: Three things converge on Julie to change her happily productive although lonely life in Phoenix, Arizona. She’s diagnosed with a rare leukemia in an advanced stage. Dan walks into her shop and her life. Through Dan, accidentally, she encounters Craig, her ex-lover from who she escaped and gave up her promising career in L.A. as a costume designer. Craig is not a nice man.

Continuing with Lilyland book 3, Places Like Home. That’s the working title. I have lots of it written but kept getting stuck with the beginning part, but I’m getting that worked out. I don’t work on it as often as Julie at this point.

Premise: Lily marries David and adopts his special needs daughter. She’s tapped to direct the first film of the reboot of a major fantasy/sci-fi franchise and encounters sexism in many forms, more than ever. A devasting loss sinks Lily almost to the bottom, but with a young child she can’t afford to stay there.

I’ve set up and gone to two write-ins, where WriMos meet somewhere with their writing instruments and write, chat, write, chat, etc. Because of write-ins, November is my most social month. Because I’m a dork.

Oh yeah, and because I’m a NaNo Rebel this year, these 372 blog words count toward my 50,000.

skittles

Aftermath Of The Most Tortuous Campaign Season Ever

voteI didn’t pay much attention to the election updates yesterday until well after the polls closed even here in the western states. I detest political pundits blathering pointlessly over tiny tidbits of information as they trickle in that they spin to cause sensational nonsense in order to keep people glued to their network. But I knew enough before I went to bed so when I woke up in the middle of the night I thought, “Oh no. Trump.” Then I hoped maybe states uncounted before I hit the hay (and chased the dog off my side of the bed) might make a difference. It was not to be.

I wasn’t a fan of Hilary Clinton, either but would have voted for her if I hadn’t heard of Gary Johnson. He didn’t tickle all my presidential toes. He came the closest even though I knew he stood a snowball’s chance in an Arizona August.                               trumpw     johnson  clinton

Donald Trump was quite unpresidential during his campaign as if he just spouted off the top of that weirdly-haired head of his and said whatever his brain spewed up. I pray he does better now and takes the responsibility of the office seriously as public service and not an ego boosting spree firing up divisiveness. I pray if he gets stupid Congress fights him as hard as they did Obama on issues. Prayerful people I know and respect believe Trump is God’s choice to lead our country. The Bible often says those in authority are put there by God. In that I trust. I pray our country is led to be greater, but not necessarily in Trump’s way. America still has marvelous people and potential.

What all of us as Americans have to do now is not gloat and not despair. Our country’s greatness comes from the good hearts of her people, certainly not from most of the representatives of we the people in federal government. We have to keep being kind and helpful, understanding and strong. We have to keep our minds open and our mouths shut more often. And when we speak, we have to do it with respect and honor for our fellow citizens.

One of my favorite things at a baseball game is singing God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch with everyone in the park. Well, I don’t usually sing because it’s often in a bad key for me and I get all choked up, sensitive dork that I am. So, sing that song in your head if you feel despair for our nation. If you don’t believe in God, choose another way to wish good things on our country, today and every day in the future.

070909-N-0303C-002 BALTIMORE (Sept. 9th, 2007) - Musician 1st Class Beth E. Revell sings ÒGod Bless America,Ó during the seventh inning stretch between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards. U.S. Navy photo by Musician 1st Class Tina M. Catalanotto (RELEASED)

070909-N-0303C-002
BALTIMORE (Sept. 9th, 2007) – Musician 1st Class Beth E. Revell sings ÒGod Bless America,Ó during the seventh inning stretch between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards. U.S. Navy photo by Musician 1st Class Tina M. Catalanotto (RELEASED)

This is still our country. Some days it’s easy to want to give up. If we do give up, that’s when our fears will come true.

Passion for Pantsing

Writing by the seat of my pants (pantsing) makes NaNoWriMo so much fun for me. Here I talk about being a pantser on the blog of writer and editor Keri Rozansky..

http://keriwriter.com/ways-nanowrimo-part-interview-pantser/

woman-writer

NaNoWriMo is coming!

nano So, here it is, the ides of October 2016. While many women are thinking about the holidays and scouring Pinterest for decorating ideas and recipes, writing women are not.

Okay, I know I can’t speak for every woman writer. But on most of my writing Facebook pages, the talk is about NaNoWriMo . Thank the Lord there are places to go where no trace of politics can be found. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month which is November. Writers’ blogs and writers’ Facebook groups are filled with angst-ridden posts asking, “Who’s doing NaNo this year?”

We’re writers. Why the distress about doing what we love to do? You know how marathon runners stress about finishing their next race? Well, WriMos stress about completing 50,000 words in 30 days. Not just any, 50,000 words, but arranged in such a way they qualify as a novel. A rough draft of a novel, not one you can send out to agents yet (although some have, much to the chagrin and amusement of agents and publishers.) Or maybe it’s the mere beginning of an epic fantasy or a future detective series. Or a novella. Finding time to write that many words amidst the doings of everyday life is a challenge for many folks.

That’s no so much me anymore since I’m unemployed. But I remember those days. this year, besides NaNo, I’m also taking an online course with the University of Iowa Writing Workshop, and sending out queries for a revised former NaNo project, working on book 3 of Lilyland and working with a critique group. Writing, writing everywhere and not a royalty in sight. Sigh.

y unofficial slap-together cover

my unofficial slap-together cover

Since I started NaNo-ing in 2008, I have completed 8 rough drafts (although two were for the same novel). Two of those have been revised, edited, polished, and self-published. Another one I’m currently querying literary agents with. Two others I am currently revising.

If you think you have a novel in you that’s screaming to get out, give NaNo a try this year. Sign up here. You’ll meet a great online community to cheer you on and who will understand what you’re doing when no one around you does. You can meet other actual people face to face at local write-ins. You can drink gallons of coffee and nibble Skittles, M&Ms and pretzel nuggets like mad. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get your family or roommates to understand. If not, it’s only 30 days. 640px-skittles-louisiana-2003

6 Tools for Teens – Pass it On

Share this with your teens and talk to them about it. It mostly addresses girls, but teen guys are trafficked, too. Kids from ALL kinds of families fall prey to the greedy wiles of traffickers.

Binge watching.  Who doesn’t love having a weekend with an empty calendar, your favorite snacks, and your most beloved TV series queued up?  Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, the series ends, withdrawal hits, and life as you know it is over.  You were not prepared and now that the hysteria has set in, you’re beyond hope of finding a solution… So you start the series over.  No shame, it happens to us all.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Last week we talked about “What Is Child Sex Trafficking?”  You read it, right?  Next week we’ll be addressing parents and how they can watch out for their kids.  This week, we want to talk to the teens.  As a teenager, how can you watch out for yourself?  How can you keep from becoming one of the hundreds of thousands of girls who are sex…

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Human Trafficking Awareness Month–Targeting Buyers

trafficked girl w teddy bearHere it is January again. And once again it’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The problem hasn’t gone away and like most of this nature has most likely gotten worse.

When I started volunteering as Twitter account manager for StreetLightUSA, a local provider of comprehensive services for sex trafficked girls, in 2014, the emphasis of the anti-sex trafficking/stop child rape movement was getting the justice system and society to stop referring the human merchandise being bought and sold as prostitutes and throwing them in juvenile detention centers like their adult counterparts get sent to jail.

Education and awareness have changed this*. This girls and boys are now considered victims because it’s become clear that these young people do not willingly sell their souls to pimps who in turn sell their bodies to buyers, but they were coerced into it and coerced to remain. The pimps prey on basic human needs like food and shelter for runaways, love, and acceptance for kids who don’t feel that at home or are rebelling against it. Pimps play with the minds of their victims like experts of the human psyche. Drugs, rewards, punishment, fake love and more keep these now damaged children hostage. Some don’t realize they can escape and those that do fear for their lives if they leave.

Who would knowingly enter into a life like that, to be raped 10, 20, 30 times a day, to be beaten and drugged and manipulated in the most inhuman ways? All states and many countries now have decriminalized minor victims of sex trafficking, keeping them out of jail and placing them with services for recovery and restoration, although this system needs much improvement.

A more recent focus to eliminate selling our children to be raped is reducing demand or making it more dangerous and less worth it for men who pay to rape children. Many states and municipalities have introduced laws meant to discourage men from soliciting sex with children. In Phoenix, AZ and it’s surrounding cities, such a man is faced with heavy fines, sex school, his picture being published online and being labeled as a sex offender with all the ramifications that go with that.

Just as we’ve thought of child victims as mini-prostitutes who want to do what they’re actually being forced to do, we want to think of the sex buyers of these children as creatures so disgusting the only way they can get sex is to pay for it. This is false. These men are professionals, or businessmen or men with decent jobs, often married with children. Most now solicit and arrange for sex with children using the internet. They are the men we see every day in our professional and business dealings. For some of us, they are our family members.

One way police are capturing these people–mostly men–are by sting operations. They place an ad, set up in a hotel and arrest the men coming to them expecting to find a teen, or even younger. But they find the police and handcuffs and arrest and shame. This is one way of reducing demand.

But it’s just a drop in the bucket. Some traffickers still work by word 0f mouth, some sell their children, young relatives, their girlfriend’s children out of houses and apartments. These people need to be caught, too.

Increasingly, traffickers arrested and convicted are facing many years in prison, but the buyers do not. The risk of getting caught and the current punishments for buyers aren’t fearsome enough to deter them from paying a few dollars to rape a child. Without a market, a commodity is no longer needed, the business goes out of business.

We’re a long way from the perfect society where sex does not rule the minds, bodies and souls of many people. We’re a long way from respecting each other when it comes to sex. Until that day arrives when there is a worldwide epiphany and we understand how we hurt each other and determine to change our behavior, we must keep making progress to protect out most vulnerable citizens and punish and hopefully rehabilitate offenders. We must educate, and when that fails, prosecute. Otherwise, our society is doomed.

*SharedHope International 2015 Protected Innocence Report

Follow my Pinterest page for occasional news and articles about sex trafficking awareness

Follow StreetLight USA on Pinterest.

My Reading Year in Review

I’ve been doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge for the last two years. I set my goal at 20 books each year. I only made it to 17 in 2014. I got bogged down in a long “bestseller” and an equally long “award winner” that I might have been able to finish had they both better content editing. I did exceed my goal for 2015 by 2.68 books, though. I’m a slow reader (Michael Fassbender admits to being a slow reader, too. *sigh*) so I don’t set lofty goals.

My non-scientific and random review methods based on the fact I’m a writer, I get moody and other things that may vary day to day.

***** So compelling I’m willing to not do things I love (like write and sleep) to keep reading.

**** The characters are compelling or the story so interesting they follow me around until I can read again.

*** Good enough I’ll keep reading, maybe for enjoyment or maybe another reason.

** Gave it a good try, but probably won’t finish.

* WTF?

My ***** for 2015

  • The Lady of Lakewood Diner by Anne R. Allen. I believe Ms. Allen is an indie author. If you grew up around or are interested in the 1960s, you’ll especially enjoy this.
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer. I’m not a big fan of things about World War II, but the characters and the prose are stunning.
  • The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. A library book sale big time score! Loved everything about this book.
  • Horse and Buggy Mennonites by Donald B. Kraybill and James P. Hurd. Nonfiction research for Zook’s Corner. A readable interesting detailed account of Old Order Mennonites in Lancaster County, PA.

The lowest I gave was a *** to The Outcast by Jolina Petershiem. I think I was feeling generous that day.

Everything else received solid ****.

An L.A. writer runs to Maine and meets an odd little girl. Literary fiction.

Sometimes I inadvertantly pick up books around the same time with the same settings or themes. In 2015 I read At The Water’s Edge right before All the Light We Cannot See, both WWII settings. Then both set in Seattle were Safe with Me and Firefly Lane. The Robber Bride is set in Toronto (which I’ve actually had the pleasure of visiting) and something else was Toronto based in my life then…maybe a movie?

I think the most disappointing was The Girl on the Train. Wildly popular and I got it for cheap on Kindle. It was a great read until the ending which was just “meh.” In my opinion. You may think it’s brilliant.

I did abandon a book, Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. It’s YA. I found the first person over-obsessing of a guy by a teenage girl annoying. Not a bad book and I have some questions that won’t get answered because I don’t like the voice, but just not for me.

Maybe if you click here, you’ll go to my Goodread page of my 2015 books. If not, sorry. If so, click on the book if you’re interested in my rating/review.

Lined up for 2016, I have The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. First I have to After the Rising by Orna Ross, whose Blue Mercy I really enjoyed in 2014. I think I’ll keep my goal at 20 books. It’s always feels better to exceed a goal than to not meet one.

What was your favorite book in 2015? Anything on your reading agenda for the New Year?

Note: Thumbnails are of other books I read in 2015 by indie authors (except Everything I Never Told You isn’t indie.)

 

Bet You Don’t Know What 9/22 Is!

You know how every month is now some kind of cml dayawareness month? Everything from
ethnic group history to diseases to food and activities. September has its share. It includes Suicide Prevention Month, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Childhood Obesity Awareness, Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness, Alzheimer’s Awareness, Ovarian Cancer Awareness, Backpack Awareness (this is by Occupational Therapists so I guess they’re concerned with the effects of too-heavy backpacks), Sepsis, Atrial Fibrillation, ITP (involving blood platelets) and lots more. One thing I didn’t see on this list was Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
Blood cancer is not as prevalent as breast, lung or prostate cancers. I’d post some statistics, but honestly, I think it’s too late in the day for me to do that without too much thinking (my brain can only handle math between 8 and 11 AM) so I’ll post some links below.

What I really want to talk about is today, 9/22 is World CML Day. This is actually pretty clever. CML is Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. It’s of particular interest to me because I am surviving this thing. Yay!

Somewhere along the way, a couple of my regular chromosomes decided to do something funky:

philadelphia_chromosomethu_jpg

The Mayo clinic explains it:

An abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome is associated with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Your cells each contain 23 pairs of chromosomes that are made of DNA and hold the instructions for every cell in your body. The Philadelphia chromosome forms when chromosome 9 and chromosome 22 break and exchange portions. This creates an abnormally small chromosome 22 and a new combination of instructions for your cells that can lead to the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia. (here is Mayo’s page on this)

So, this is where the 9 and 22 come from.

Why did this start happening to me? Don’t know. I don’t have any of the common risk factors: exposure to certain chemicals or excessive radiation, a family history or past chemotherapy.

If left untreated, the uninvited Philadelphia chromosome would cause the stem cells of my blood to create many more white cells than needed. These funky white cells would take over because they live longer that regular white cells plus they don’t do their job of killing off germs. As time goes on, I would make fewer red cells to do their oxygen carrying thing on top of my body being unable to fight infection.

Blood cancers are often discovered in people by accident, as was my case. I had elective surgery and my white blood cell count was found to be a little high. A few months later I was hospitalized for an unrelated infection. The heavy duty antibiotics didn’t take lower my elevated white count. I’d also had other infections in the previous months such as several UTIs of which I’d had one previous in my entire life. So this was concerning and further testing, including a bone marrow biopsy, were done, and well…here I am.

For which I am grateful. CML is one of the very first cancers to have responded to targeted therapies. My treatment, Gleevec, went into us in 2001. It was considered a magic bullet. Before that, someone diagnosed with CML in the early stages, as I was, had a 3-5 year life expectancy. The five-year survival rate for CML today is about 60%. I’ve been on Gleevec for 6 years. I had an early complete response and went into remission within the first 9 months with minimal side effects. Since then, there had been no detectable glitches in my chromosomes/DNA. I take a Gleevec pill once a day. It targets the causes of the overproduction of defective white cells. There are several other similar treatments available, now, too. Each has potential long-term side effects. But hey, I now get to live long enough to see if I’ll develop them or not.

It was as first thought it would be necessary to be on this treatment for life, but clinical trials are being run to see if it’s possible to go off as long as careful monitoring is done.

Gleevec and drugs like it are very expensive–$90,000 a year and more. Really. What a round of normal chemo might cost, is what one year of this kind of therapy costs. The quarterly blood tests are expensive, as well.

So, how does this knowledge affect you?

  • Monitor your health. Don’t ignore unusual fatigue, infections and other changes to your good health. I’ve met people (men!) who almost died because they waited until they could barely get out of bed to see a doctor. The further the disease progresses, the more complicated and risky the treatment. It could involve stem cell transplants. Folks have died waiting for a compatible stem cell donor. This goes for people in your care, too. Don’t wait for odd symptoms to go away.
  • Support legislation that provides for parity of cancer treatment costs, oral and self-administered vs. traditional chemotherapy and delivery.
  • Support control of prescription costs and coverage by insurance companies.
  • Know, that while rarer than other cancers, blood cancer can strike at any age. Some are more common to certain age groups.
  • Know that if it hasn’t happened already, you will be affected by cancer, either you or someone you love. It’s a sucky fact, but true.
  • When you are affected by cancer, yours or a loved one’s, get educated. Don’t panic. Deal with your emotions, but don’t dwell on the negative. Reach out for support.

I’m grateful I’m still healthy and that despite job setbacks I have never had to go without my treatment.

Well, 9/22/2015 is over for most of the world. Today, about 8 people found out they have CML. Tomorrow, the same and on and on until there is no such thing as cancer.

cml awareness day uk

Leukemia Lymphoma Society

Leukemia–Hemotolgy.org

National CML Society

The Comments I’d Really Like to Make on Facebook Posts

If you’re on Facebook or some other social media, you probably have a mental list of types of posts that burn your grits or you would like to leave snarky comments for.

At the risk of alienating my friends and being unfriended, unfollowed, etc., here are a few of mine and the comments I don’t post:

The vacation selfies–the poster in some exotic place with a huge smile or open mouth, etc.

Comment: If you’re having such a frickin good time why are you spending so much time posting pictures? Brag much?

annoying selfie

The posting of a hundred individual photos of a the same place/event/person.

Comment: Haven’t figured out how to make an album yet, hmm?

Sarah's wedding and Philly 048

Sarah's wedding and Philly 048

Sarah's wedding and Philly 045

Sarah's wedding and Philly 043

The grandchild/ grandchildren. “My new grandson, Antler, is the sweetest, cutest blessing that’s ever been created ever by God, man or anything else. He’s so amazing and beautiful and smart, just sleeping here in my arms all squished up like a person who’s just been pushed through a narrow tube that was too small for his big round and now misshapen head.

Yup, your new precious blessing is the best thing to happen to you. Way to make your kid feel like trash. Also, learn to make a photo album. Don’t post another photo of Antler until he’s five.

grandmother

Couple selfies at the beach, date night

Yup, you’re a great looking couple that looks twenty years younger than your contemporaries. Thanks for making me feel old, boring, and ugly.

Laughing mature couple holding hands and walking on beach

“Here I am at the airport waiting for my flight to New York/London/Abu Dhabi/Scranton! Vacay here I come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

What, you’re on vacation again and you’re only 30? It took my husband 20 years to get a lousy 4 weeks a year for vacation. Do you have a real job? What is it that you do that you can afford to fly places at least once a month and stay at hotels and eat out and go to concerts? Does your employer hire old people? Or do you live in a refrigerator box under a bridge the rest of the time?

young-female-passenger-at-airport

I’m sick of people who create drama in my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My feelings are so hurt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I know my family hates me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Someone just said something that makes me want to commit murder!!!! You know who you are!!!!

Well, I don’t. What did this person say???? What do you do that makes your family hate you????? I WANT TO KNOW!!!!!!!!! Stop vaguebooking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

facebook-drama

The poster you can tell just got off work. You see you have 15 new notifications and 14 of them are from this person sharing some meme about positive thinking or the meaning of life.

Um, don’t you do anything? Can’t you at least tell me what you had for lunch once in a while?

Inspirational memes

Sadly, actor Bobby Bundy, 95, was found dead last night in his Bel Air mansion by his lifelong faithful friend, Spot, who activated the alarm system. Bundy is best known for The Bobby Bundy Show that ran from 1954-1961. He will be missed. Followed by comments like: “This is so sad.” “I’ll miss him so much.”

Spot will miss him. And his agent who hadn’t gotten him a job in thirty years. Having a TV show or being in movies never made anyone immune from death.

This is actually Mickey Rooney who died in 2014 at the age of 94.

This is actually Mickey Rooney who died in 2014 at the age of 94.

There. I feel better now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

What kind of social media posts would you like to see less of? What snarky comments do you keep to yourself?

Sexism-Ugh!

Yesterday I happened upon a Yelp review for the local family-owned garage we use. The review was in the not recommended section. A user identified as Jeff discussed an unsatisfying phone experience. “I seemed to offend the VERY RUDE women [sic] whom answered the… geese lady. You need medication, it’ll help with the hot flashes.” (emphasis mine.)

Of course, I don’t know if the woman was actually rude to this man or if he was being a jerk (because jerks usually don’t admit to it). I’ve most likely dealt with the woman in question and have always found her pleasant and exceedingly helpful. But we all have bad days and people dealing with customers might have them more often.

What I object to is the reviewer insinuating the problem was caused by the state of the woman’s hormones, of which he knows nothing. This is an example of the age-old sexist thinking about women. I could go on about how women’s hormones have benefited Jeff over the course of his life, but I won’t. I could go on about this kind of treatment of women even in this day and age (Donald Trump, et. al.) but I’ll do that another time.

Yes, maybe there is medication to help with hot flashes, but unfortunately there are not any to help with being a misogynist asshat.

I’m looking at you, Jeff.

Ornement_plafond_RanakpurOr maybe, Jeff was eperiencing universal karmic payback for all the times in history that women have been intellectually and finacially abused by males while getting their cars worked on. If that’s the case, Karma must have believed he deserved it.