10 Reasons to Avoid Writing

Okay, I know the theory that most “reasons” are really stinky excuses dressing up in tantalizing perfumes, but I thought this might be kinda fun and jog me loose. See, I love those days when the muse sings and my hand can’t move fast enough to keep up. But, right now my muse, the spoiled bitch, is holding out for Starbucks like I should be able to afford this more than once a week or something. Sorry *cough* issues *cough*.

Anyway, I have a scene I should write. It needs to be there. But it’s going to drag out of me one sentence at a time because there is nothing overwhelmingly exciting or dramatic or funny about it. Yes, I know, this often means the scene shouldn’t be there. So, I’m all about saying this plot-point-character-goal is happening, though I’m not showing it because it really doesn’t need to be shown. I’m pretty sure. I won’t know anything until I drag the scene out one word at a stinkin’ time. I’d rather balance my checkbook. I did do extreme organization of my dh’s classes for his degree. Didn’t help. Yet. Starbucks…down, musebitch!

10 reasons to avoid writing.

1. I must play Sims 2 on my laptop because Nightlife was bought for my daughter, which is why it’s on the desktop and I need to leave it alone so she can play her game. (Wasn’t it a brilliant idea to get an expansion so she’d have a play disk and I’d have the regular one? NOOO!!! I want to go on dates downtown and let my vampire sim have sex in the picture booth! Ugh. I hope the Open for Business expansion doesn’t let me down. When I can get it.)

2. I must play Sims 2 and learn all about the law enforcement track. It’s one of the few I haven’t taken all the way to the top.

3. I must finish building the most awesome castle mall that has a pool and a moat and a place to eat out in the middle of the moat and will have all the amenities so my sims can go out and zoom up all their Needs!

4. I have library books to read and I’ve all but given up reading over the last few years. I feel so deprived! Seriously. I have gone from 1-2 books a day from junior high on up to married mom and now I’m at 1-2 books a month as I focus on my writing. I must read. it’s a moral imperative. And the Good Lord knows, when I don’t spend time with my library books, I end up with fines. Every. Damn. Time.

5. I absolutely had to clear off my DVR tonight. It will only hold so much. Something that wouldn’t have stressed me last year, but over the summer Craig discovered all the many, many, too many UFC shows. And wrestling. And Survivor Man. And now there are conflicts! And I don’t understand. Yes, I know there are networks and they compete. But holy freaking cow, people! Most of the damn time every single day there are 300+ channels with NOTHING on and only on weeknights between 8 and 10 are there a few specific shows that I’d like to watch. When I go to a bookstore, I can buy 1 or 20 books that all interest me. Only television networks seem to think they have the right to demand a schedule and a limit from me. I don’t get it and it really irritates me. So I worked on clearing out my DVR, which only tapes 2, 2!, episodes at a time. Which means I got Bones for me, Lost for Craig and missed One Tree Hill that I love to share with my youngest. :(

6. Clearing out the DVR while Craig was at his brother’s bachelor party meant I had quality time with my youngest. She makes the best cereal. :)

7. Sleeping is a necessary expenditure of time. Especially when it allows my creative mind to flow into dream land and I often get my best ideas from a good night’s sleep. Is it my fault that all the sleeping I’ve done lately hasn’t helped with one single freakin’ sentence?

8. It is so much more fun to talk to people who actually thank me for my comments on their contest entries! Especially as each year I put the packet of entries in the mail to the contest coordinator with fear in my heart. Fear. Was I too rough? Did I hurt their feelings? (’cause much as people say other people’s opinions don’t matter, people are wrong! I care about their feelings.) And of course, the ever present “What the hell do I know anyway? I’m probably wrong and someone will discover my extreme ignorance very soon and broadcast it all over the world!”

9. I need to study marketing because even though I have no aptitude for it whatsoever, I know it’s a necessary part of being an author so said author can be successful enough to spoil her muse at Starbucks and have DVR and the internet.

10. And finally, the best reason to avoid writing is so I can us my time to read my editor’s blog. She’s funny as hell and has a fast paced conversational tone that keeps me reading. But, no, that’s not the only reason I visit it daily like some weird stalker. I do so because if the dilemma on her mind is the number of pistachios in her muffin, then I can give my OCD a break. You know, there’s always a part , or 3 parts of me, in extreme conflict here. One is like, I sent in my revisions! I want to know in 10 minutes what she thinks. Not in 2-3 weeks. Then there’s the part that says, what!? No way! That’s too much stress. She can get back NEXT YEAR! Yeah, that sounds good to me. Then some third person whose name I don’t even know butts into the conversation and says, “What if her opinion is that your revisions suck?” That’s when split personality 2 starts winning and next year sounds really good to wait for revision comments. Then that 3rd witch steps in again and says, “what if her opinion is the revisions are really good?” That’s when split personality 1 jumps ship with, “Yeah. Like that’s gonna happen.” So, right now, a sick woman deserves her pistachio muffins made right. But honestly, somedays I’m glad it’s the pistachio man who’s ticked her off. It gives my brain a rest.

Wow. All those reasons to avoid writing just made me really, really tired. And if I pray hard enough tonight, maybe God will wake me up with THE PERFECT SCENE in the morning. Okay, off to pray now.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

We still have a few weeks to acquire the beautiful gold ribbon pins and pendants. Or a precious car magnet with the Candlelighter’s spokeschild on it. All proceeds go to research or helping families with the many different aspects of cancer. Whether you take this time to donate to the:

American Cancer Society to help with all the many things they do, like sponsoring an annual camp for cancer kids where they can have fun while safely monitored by doctors and nurses

or to the:

Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation who helps so many families in all aspects, from befriending and lending a hand when your child is suddenly diagnosed, to helping with transportation issues. There are many local groups of Candlelighters. It’s not hard to find one near you so you can help the children in your community.

: your time and effort is much appreciated.

Have a good weekend. :)


The Covenant

Tonight, I had a really good time.  For the first time ever, my dh and I went on a double date with his brother and our soon-to-be sis in-law.  For some strange reason, we just have not done this before.  So, we went out for a nice sit down dinner and my personal favorite, steak fajitas, and out to a movie

Yes, The Covenant.  Okay, I will preface this review with a few key facts.  1.  I am easily pleased, most of the time.  2.  I do like pretty special effects.  3.  The story can be forgiven for leaving a few questions if there aren’t too many and the answers aren’t too necessary to understanding the plot.

Tonight, I was in the mood to have fun.  To enjoy myself.  But yes, even at these times I do look at story, plot and characterization.  In this case, I was pleased.  I would’ve liked a little more history and backstory, especially as I didn’t read the small sentences at the very beginning fast enough, but overall, it explained the basic dilemma and quickly.

Thanks to a drunken mother, we saw right away the members of the covenant (all boys) begin feeling their powers at 13 and ascend to the full potential at 18.  And that using their powers ages them, eventually killing them.

So, using a drug analogy (that actually worked well because if you could do wild, wonderful things wouldn’t you find a way to rationalize that it was “necessary” to use these gifts, even knowing the risk?) the conflict was set.  Boy knows risk, resists powers as long as possible but gives in due to the threat to loved ones.  And at the end, has he given in too much?

The romance was sweet and the heroine wasn’t stupid.  Protected, used in that beautifully ethereal victim way, but not stupid.  She found a few answers on her own without being a drama queen and I can respect that.

Overall, it was a good story.  I can smell the sequel, but almost-but-not-quite-like with Underworld, I look forward to it.  As with Underworld 2: Evolution, I hope I love it.  Special effects are very cool and I love looking at normal people doing extraordinary things.  I wish they’d done more with Unbreakable.

However, I have to say no matter what flack I get for it, I am disturbed by this nation’s growing trend for “cool” stories that show hell and damnation as fascinating.  I hope someone, including myself, is capable of being responsible with this topic.  And I hope it doesn’t become just another Hollywood gimic.  As I see the “coolness” factor with the rest of the story and the cinematography, the sheer creativity of the piece, how do I protect my children from the worse elements?

Considering the uproar over Harry Potter and witchcraft, it doesn’t take Einstein to see the ensuing conflict over a story in which mysterious powers have a direct link to witchcraft and damnation.

What can I say?  Drama, drama, drama.  Outside of fiction, I have no energy for it.  My love of creativity or strict religious mores?  Now there’s a conflict for you.

TOR Paranormal Romance Catalogs

Last night, I received ten of the most gorgeous catalogs ever. :) Dark and mysterious, beautifully glossy, it shows the TOR books coming out January 2007 – August 2007 and I’m on it! This is so cool. Like tangible proof I’m about to be published. :) And TOR has such a wonderfel set of books coming out next year. More of the Sazi in Howling Moon by C.J. Adams and Cathy Clamp and more starmen in Island Heat by Susan Kearney. Then a new Romantic Suspense by Susan Kearney. It’s going to be a wonderful year. :)

Check out the list:

August 2006
Captive Moon by C. T. Adams & Cathy Clamp
ISBN: 0-765-35401-2 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

September 2006
Watchers in the Night by Jenna Black
ISBN: 0-765-35451-9 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

October 2006
The Retrieval by Jeanie London
ISBN: 0-765-35422-5 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

November 2006
True Blood by Patricia Waddell
ISBN: 0-765-35464-0 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

December 2006
Twice in a Lifetime by Constance O’Day-Flannery
ISBN: 0-765-35404-7 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

January 2007
Howling Moon by C.T.Adams and Cathy Clamp
ISBN: 0-765-35402-0 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

February 2007
Island Heat by Susan Kearney
ISBN: 0-765-35666-X / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

March 2007
Warlord by Elizabeth Baughan
ISBN:: 0-765-35266-4 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

April 2007
Falling Upwards by Kassandra Sims
ISBN: 0-765-35581-7 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

May 2007
Secrets in the Shadows by Jenna Black
ISBN: 0-765-35716-X / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

June 2007
Touch of Madness by C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp
ISBN: 0-765-35663-5 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

July 2007
Betrayed by Jamie Leigh Hansen
ISBN: 0-765-35720-8 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

August 2007
In the Midnight Hour by Patti O’Shea
ISBN: 0-765-35579-5

Romantic Suspense

July 2007
Kiss Me Deadly by Susan Kearney
ISBN: 0-765-35667-8 / $6.99 / $6.99 ($9.99 CAN)

Streets of Heaven by Sherrie Austin

We happened on this song by pure chance one day as we were driving my oldest daughter home. It turned out the only station on the radio that came through that day was a country station. Usually, we listen to Aternative and Classic Rock, but we occasionally enjoy country. God must’ve been paying attention.

In the midst of 1 1/2 years of chemo hell for our youngest daughter, we were driving along, totally unsuspecting of how hard we were about to sob. Both my husband and I. I don’t know if our oldest heard the song, but we were grateful the youngest wasn’t in the car.

We tried to forget it after that, but one of the lyrics stayed with me and every time I mentioned the song to someone, I didn’t know all of it, who sang it or anything. Well, tonight, I asked my dh to find the lyrics to Streets of Heaven. I should have warned him it was *that* song.

See, November 29, 2003, my husband and I took our daughter to the local hospital to find out why her left arm was shaking so terribly. We’d finally gotten an MRI scheduled where she could be sedated. The first time, we’d mistakenly thought she could handle the loud machine. Now we know better.

But on that winter day, the day after Thanksgiving, at 5 in the morning, we woke, dressed and made it to the hospital. My husband was thinking he’d be late to work, depending how long the test took. I was thinking about how it was the day after Thanksgiving–meaning the day we set up for Christmas and decorate our tree with 1800 lights so we could enjoy the way it glowed for an entire month, mellowing our mood, refreshing our spirits and preparing for the next year. Our Tree of Giving, where we love to pile presents to spoil everyone we know and love.

We were trying hard not to think of how her left arm was shaking, her fingers wouldn’t move well and her left leg was dragging. We were trying to ignore the worry that had built for 3 months as we waited weeks for doctors appts. and scheduled tests watching her shake and limp grow more pronounced and hearing doctors’ calming platitudes that weren’t making us feel better.

We tried not to think that morning, so we wouldn’t break from the strain we’d been under all year. We weren’t thinking about the fact Craig was sick for 6 months, until his surgery in July of 2003. Of the financial stress we’d endured as he missed work most of those months. Or of how I’d fallen and broken my ankle on the day he returned to work. Of how I’d become confined to a wheelchair for 3 months and had just gotten permission to put weight on my still-booted right ankle.

We soothed our eight-year-old baby, trying to help her ignore her hunger and thirst and be brave as the pediatric nurse put numbing cream on her arm. (And do you know medical insurances do not consider numbing cream a *necessary* ointment for children dealing with weekly, if not daily, pokes?)

But that day we didn’t know anything. It was all new and horrible and terrifying and soul wrenching. I saw my precious child with cream and a clear plastic seal on the inside of her elbow. She was afraid, no matter how we tried to distract her with toys, TV, stories, playing. She’s not stupid. She knew something was up.

Somehow, we got her through the installation of her first IV. Then the sedation. Watching her fall suddenly, eerily to sleep. Her tiny body limp as her dad lifted her from the gurney in the hallway (she’s still too terrified to stand in the hallway with the MRI door open, even if it’s not her day for a test) and carried her into the MRI room. There he laid her on the bed that goes into the MRI machine, and we watched as all the tubes and monitoring machines were attached to her sleeping body.

I couldn’t go in. Still can’t, not even to hold her toes as she sleeps. See, I’ve done several MRIs in my life, part of living with Friedreich’s Ataxia. I could’ve handled being in that room as long as I was needed. But my ankle had broken, in both bones, so severely, I’d had two plates and 8 screws installed to hold it together. With that much metal, I’d destroy me and the machine. So I watched from the doorway as my husband, who already hated hospitals so incredibly much, held her toes until the tubes and monitors were set.

Then we sat in the waiting room for 45 minutes. Me with my cross-stitch and him with a book, and the TV on some talk show we tried to ignore as he thought about work and schedules and trying to make up for 6 months and I tried to keep my hands busy and my head working on how I wanted the house decorated for Christmas. We’d already missed decorating for Halloween and Thanksgiving. The year had sucked enough. I wanted some holiday cheer.

The clock ticked slowly by. One of those clocks that shows the seconds going by until even so little as a second seemed an eternity. Finally they called us back, warned us the sedation med would cause her to wake up grumpy and said within 20 minutes or so, she’d be awake. So we stood by her bedside, Craig brushing her hair away from her face and me reaching from my wheelchair for the only thing I could grab, her toes.

Twenty minutes, then we could leave. We could take her home and set up for Christmas and Craig could work and then we’d enjoy our weekend. Maybe do some shopping and present wrapping. And maybe get an answer about her shaking that wasn’t too bad. Something easily cured. Please, God.

But it didn’t happen that way.

A minute, maybe two, after we’d been left to wait, some guy walked up, flipping pages on his clipboard and said, “So, I guess you heard. We found something.”

If you consider a tumor the size of an egg in the middle of the right side of my baby’s brain ‘something’.

We didn’t go home that day. Or that weekend. Or, actually, most of the next month. Instead, we were admitted as one of the first few families in the new Oncology ward of the brand spankin’ new Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.   Room 304.




I’m a writer again!

It’s amazing how great that can feel sometimes. Like a release of pressure, of tension. Suddenly I feel a bit calmer and more at peace. I can think again. And no, it wasn’t an orgasm. LOL Didn’t mean for that metaphor to creep up on me.

Sometimes it seems like I’m rushing around and accomplishing a million small things, revisions and learning the business side of writing and judging contest entries and being a part of my family. I put my all into each thing I do. Especially my family.

And definitely the contest entries. I don’t know if entrants cringe when they see all the stuff I write on their scoresheets, but I try as hard as I can to be helpful. I love seeing all these dreams slowly evolve and know that one day, I’ll get to buy the book and read the full story. If there’s any piece of advice and encouragement I can give to help that dream come true, I will do it.

And yet, with all that I love doing and the things I have to do, what makes me happiest is when I can look over and see an inch-thick stack of paper that has *my* book with the work I’ve done on it for the day. I love the feeling of progress. Of accomplishment. I love knowing that I am *this* much closer to completely spilling the series in my head onto paper.

I was productive today and now, I will happily take my eye-strain headache to bed. :)


Accomplishing the impossible

There are certain truths in this world that provide safe boundaries in which to live. Structure and foundation. Sometimes we push those boundaries to give ourselves a little room to move and grow. Well, last night, I challenged two of my sisters to accomplish a task I thought impossible. Take a decent picture of me.

Truly, I have never considered this possible. I have found something wrong in every photo ever taken of me, whether I weighed 113 lbs and wore a Cinderella wedding dress, or weighed my current tonnage in my daily shorts and t-shirt.

But, last night wasn’t about the picture. It was about the bonding. One of my little sisters is visiting from out of state and did my hair. My baby sister did my makeup and took the pictures. What resulted is perhaps the reason my husband says I’m beautiful, even after 15 years together, 12 of them married. :)  (Or, as he says, it feels like 12 minutes — with his head held under water.)

Either way, it’s the best picture I’ve ever taken. Certainly the best I’m capable of right now. I am eternally thankful to both my baby sisters for stretching this boundary.

          Jamie 1.jpg            B&W Vignette Jamie.jpg

For the record, my hair is not that sparkly in the jpeg I’m uploading.  I don’t know if it’s the sizing or WordPress, but the actual picture is less sparkly.  And nothing but hairspray was put in my hair.  :)

 Have a good day!


JLH Newsletter

Okay, I need input here. Please, anyone. :) What type of info do you prefer in a newsletter?

I didn’t plan to post one super often. I don’t want to clog up people’s time when a short and sweet note would be great. But I also wouldn’t want it to be boring. As I prepare my first newsletter, which may not be out for a while, feedback would be great.

Do you like character profiles? Games? Short stories? Notices about interviews and reviews? Notices on when the book will be out only?

Any input will be greatly appreciated! And please, sign up for my email newsletter! The form is on most of my pages. :)


My Space

I am beginning to understand the appeal. I mean, it can be a pretty cool place. You sign on, fill in some of your likes and dislikes. Of course, that can give you a headache trying to read all the flashing questionaires. I’m not so in to them. But, I like the simplicity.

I like that I can sign on to this webpage and see a picture of all my friends. Or a logo for them. And I see this big flashing number that says you have this many friends! Well, that’s kinda cool. For an introvert like me, I tend to forget other people like me. Sometimes. When I’m not blocking out the world and they feel ignored.

Tough stuff this friendship business. My husband takes me to a friend’s one night so I can feel “included”. Might have something to do with that hour I cried on his shoulder because I’d missed out on an important gathering of friend couples because I’d mistakenly thought it was a guys’ night and I was suddenly feeling how lonely I was. So the next weekend, we go to our friend’s and as they’re talking to me, I completely block all of them out because Spiderman 2 is on TV and I’d forgotten how it ended and I was analyzing the romance.

Wow. I’m good. So, I see the apeal. Sign on, there’s your list of friends, there’s pictures to see and share, there’s the easy email feature and the bulletin board and the comments…

As a parent, I’m probably a sell out. I think it’s cool. But you know what kids? Honest truth here. Be honest with your parents about your account, don’t set yourself up for internet predators and your parent’s may decide it’s pretty cool, too.

The Sims 2

The most evil game ever. Of course, I say that as only the most sincere fan can. :) I have spent way too much time downloading freebies to enhance the game. You know, new clothes, skins, colors for walls and floors, objects galore.

Now, we all know I’m doing this for our daughter. (Quit coughing, Craig.) I adore the little chipmunk. I’d do anything for her. She spends hours and hours on the game, finally making her own neighborhood because I wouldn’t let her cheat on the one we share. She’s gonna be so thrilled when she sees some of the fairytale and Alice in Wonderland themed sets I found. :)

In the meantime, I’m downloading and organizing thousands of files and all my dh can say with that oh-so-polite manly tone is, “This is all fascinating, really, but when are you actually going to work?”

Well, I vacationed his way and nearly drowned, oops, haven’t told you about that yet, now I’m vacationing my way. All Sim-ulated reality. Which is why the game is evil, I tell you. Now, if someone makes a Matrix theme, I’m just gonna be scared. LOL