Wednesday, December 31, 2008

50 Chances to win VEXING THE VISCOUNT

I'm starting the new year out with a 50 Day/50 Blog Tour to celebrate the release of Vexing the Viscount on February 24th! Each day I'll be guest blogging on a new site and giving away a FREE copy of Vexing the Viscount to one lucky commenter. Check out my BlogTour Itinerary and bookmark the site so you can join me in cyberspace. Just post a comment each day for a chance to win!

Good luck and Happy New Year!

Or check back here each day. I'll try to post a link to the blog I'm visiting!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coming late to the E-volution . . .

I've always loved the feel of a book in my hand. The smell, the weight, turning down the corner of the page to mark my place--it's all part of the joy of reading. Now I've discovered that my previous titles are also available as ebooks. Even my Diana Groe titles can be downloaded electronically.

This raises a whole host of contractual questions. I had my agent check the contracts and this is all legal and above board. In fact, I'll even receive a better rate of royalty on the ebooks after the first 100 sold than I do on my print books. But if my books are available electronically, can they be said never to be out of print and therefore the rights will never revert to me?


So for now, I'll just rejoice that my work is available to a whole new generation of techno-saavy readers. And as usual with technology of any sort, I'm behind the curve. I know there's a big broohaha over which electronic format (Kindle vs just about everything else) is best. And there are several different types of e-readers available. As a condo dweller with limited space and a huge library, I'm beginning to see the charm in ebooks.

Do you read ebooks? Which e-reader do you use? Do you recommend it? Have you had trouble adapting to reading ebooks as opposed to the old-fashioned tree-killing kind? I'd love to have your imput!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Over doing it

There's nothing I hate so much as laying about. (Time spent on a cruise ship doesn't count, of course. The whole point of a vacation is to lay about, but there's not even a shadow of a palm tree here in wintry New England.) Right now, I'm recovering from colon cancer surgery and much as I hate to admit it, I can't have business as usual. The procedure was supposed to be laproscopic, but my incision is over 8 inches long, so evidently my cute surgeon had to alter his gameplan. I was hoping for a quick recovery, but it looks like it'll be several weeks before I'm doing crunches. Just going out to eat at the Union Oyster Grill yesterday did me in. The walking wasn't so bad, but there were lots of steps going down and up into Boston's T. The stairs set me back several days.

Until now, I would have said I have a high pain tolerance. I did natural childbirth for both my girls without a whimper. I really expected to bounce right back from this procedure. But even the oxycodone isn't cutting my post-operative pain and I hate to take too much of it anyway for fear of becoming dependent.

My DH says I have "control issues" and I'm afraid he's right. Pain takes away my choices. I'd hoped to go to church this morning, but I couldn't squirm through the service on those hard pews. This afternoon, my daughters would love to go shopping to spend their Christmas money, and even though I am the Anti-Shopper, I would love to go just to share the time with them. I'm afraid all I'm good for is holding down the couch right now. And being a dog magnet.

Susie and Mack (see picture above--yes there really are two dogs there. Little black Susie is blending in with the recliner on my left side) have made it their business to snuggle with me almost constantly. I suspect my dogs are sensitive to my pain and are trying to relieve it in the only way they can.

Sorry to whine. I just need to suck it up and give myself permission to vegetate while I heal. Maybe I can imagine a palm tree . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Revolutionary Ideas

For years, my DH and I scrambled madly to make it to Grandma's house for Christmas. We drove through the night across windswept, snowy plains. We waited in airports, praying for breaks in the weather and entertaining the kids with whatever we could think of. In all that time, I thought our parents had it easy, snug and warm and not constantly moving, just waiting for us to arrive and the Christmas celebration to begin.

Now I'm the parent waiting. Our oldest daughter is in the maw of the air traffic system today and all we can do is pray that there are no weather delays or mechanical difficulties or ice on the road getting to the airport that's 3 1/2 hours away from her house. We've been looking forward to her visit for months and she's due in tonight. Even though I'm only 14 days out from major surgery, I'm determined to meet her at the airport.

Because of my surgery, we're not planning too much running around during her time with us, but one of the things she asked to do is visit The Green Dragon. This historic pub was established in 1654 and was frequented by likes of Paul Revere (who happens to be buried in my churchyard), John Hancock and Daniel Webster. The Green Dragon's claim to fame is that the revolutionary conspirators met there frequently to discuss their plans and reputedly overheard the British plans for the invasion of Lexington and Concorde from the Brits in the next booth. I'm looking forward to visiting this unique pub and sampling some of their revolutionary fare--shepherds pie, bangers and mash, etc.

And I'm looking forward to spending time with my DH and our daughters. I know people obsess about family time over the holidays, but I've never found it onerous. I suppose it's my recent brush with cancer, but I can't think of anything sweeter than time with the ones you love.

Merry Christmas, my friends. Love your family, celebrate your faith, and may you receive your heart's desire this year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Turning Points

In the course of a story, there are several pivotal moments, times when the h/h must make tough choices and because of their choice, the story turns in a different direction.

I'm facing a personal pivotal moment, but it's not one where I have any choice. Today, I'm going back to my surgeon to learn whether cancer has spread to my lymph system. If the nodes are clear, I'll be declared cancer-free and the best Christmas of my life begins in earnest! If the lymph nodes show the cancer has spread, I'll be referred to an oncologist to discuss further treatment.

I think it's the feeling of helplessness that irritates me most. I'm presented with two doors, but the choice of which one I walk through is not up to me. It's already been decided by a nameless techie somewhere who prepared my biopsy material and checked for abnormal cells. I have no control.

Yet, there is one thing I can control through all this. My attitude. I can trust God. I can keep my sense of humor. I can choose to live each day with joy. I can love my family and think of others instead of myself.

Maybe I have more choices than I thought.

Finding Door Number Three

12:39 pm. Rejoice with me! My lymph nodes are clear! 22 negatives out of 22! I feel as though my life has been handed back to me. I get to worry about retirement again!

And yet, there is a another shoe to drop. Ordinarily, I'd be pronounced cured at this point. But because of the size of my tumor (5 centimeters) and my age ("You're so young," my good-looking surgeon kept saying--see why I like this guy?) he's recommending I see an oncologist and consider having chemotherapy "just in case."

So the saga continues . . .

But I'm thrilled with my good news and I'm so thankful. God is good. And as Thornton Wilder said in his play OUR TOWN, "Oh, life! You're too wonderful for anyone to realize you."

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Gift of Friendship

Like so many Christmas traditions we enjoy today, the Christmas card was a Victorian invention. John Callcott Horsley designed the first sepia colored, triptyche styled card in 1843. The side panels depicted acts of charity and the center was a scene of rejoicing with family and friends. The picture here is the back of a two-sided Christmas card from the late 1800's. The inscription says, "May Christmas Peace keep Winter from thy heart." This 2 1/2 by 4 inch card was fringed with silk.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've gotten out of the habit of sending Christmas cards. We've moved so often, it's been easy to lose track of people, but I've found a number of our friends on the internet. I send out an electronic Christmas Newletter and spruce up my website with greenery to wish my visitors a Merry Christmas, but it's not the same as taking the time to hand address and send out individual cards.

My friend Marcy takes the idea of a Christmas card a step further. She creates calendars for her friends and sends them out each December. Each month is printed on a different themed paper. She rings each page with pithy, though-provoking, encouraging quotes. Every color and font change is carefully planned. She pours herself into these calendars, along with her wishes for love, peace and prosperity for the recipients. My calendar came yesterday. It was like getting a hug through the mail.

But however much I admire Marcy's creativity, I have to go with my strengths. Please accept this as my Christmas card to you. To my friends (many of whom are spread across the miles), my readers (whom I appreciate so much!) my family (who are especially dear to me as I go through this bout with cancer), I wish love, laughter and the merriest of Christmases.

And at the risk of a little plagiarism, "May Christmas Peace keep Winter from thy heart."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dorothy was right!

"There's no place like home!"

I was released from the hospital late yesterday and even though I'm not moving very quickly, it's lovely to be surrounded by my family and my own things. My surgery was sucessful. Still waiting on the lymph node biopsy report to make certain the cancer hasn't packed its little bags and gone traveling, but for now, I'm going to assume my cute surgeon got it all. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. I appreciate them more than I can say.

And now, I wonder if I could prevail on you to direct your prayers and healing thoughts toward a young woman who was my roommate at the hospital for one of the nights I was there. Let's call her Jane Doe. I know her name, but she wouldn't appreciate me sharing it. She's 31. Single. With a boyfriend who slumped along with her to the hospital. She presented with back pain and numbness (and weeping and cursing and a chip on her shoulder the size of Nantuckett).

I was in a post-operative morphine haze, but it was apparent even to me as I listened to the conversations on the other side of the curtain (I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but the way I was hooked up to multiple tubes and wires, it wasn't as if I could slip out and give them privacy), that she was desperately in search of drugs. When it became evident that she wasn't going to score, the boyfriend left pretty quickly. (Which relieved me no end. I knew I'd never get my DH to go home and get some rest as long as the boyfriend was hovering around.)

Later that night when we were alone, she spoke to me through the curtain separating us. "Do you have pain meds?"

A vision of her coming around the curtain, ripping out my IV and making a run for it flashed in my brain. "No," I lied.

She sobbed like she'd lost a child.

From what I could piece together, she'd been a patient at the hospital with a legitimate injury at one time. She developed a taste for morphine and percoset and oxycodone in the course of her treatment. Once the injury healed, she still needed the pain meds. Just to function. Even though she walked out of the hospital the next day and I was still effectively chained to my bed, I pitied her deeply.

And wouldn't have traded places with her for anything.

So now, I'm two hours past the time when I can have a pill (I do understand HOUSE'S fondness for them now.) but I'm trying to hold off. Pain management is a big deal in medicine these days. I lost track of how many times I was asked to rate my pain with a number between 1 and 10. It's so subjective, I don't know how it can convey any meaningful information. One person's 4 could be another's 12!

And who knows how our brains will react to pain meds? I know the hope is that we find relief enough to heal effectively, but in some patients, the drug seems to dig in its talons and not let go. How many pills does it take?

I don't want to find out.

So please say a little prayer for Jane Doe and all the other unfortunates who have a pain med demon riding them. I was going to try to keep my posts about my experiences in the hospital on the light hearted side and as much as I enjoy making fun of my Bride of Frankenstein belly and the semi-colon inside, I can't joke about someone else's pain.

I will end this post on an upnote though. I've been reading Christie Craig's DIVORCED, DESPERATE AND DATING, but with extreme caution. It's uproariously funny.

And I'm already in stitches!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ready for Christmas

I've done what I can this year in the way of preparation for the holidays. The tree is up. Presents are wrapped. Our oldest daughter has her plane ticket for Christmas Eve and we so look forward to her visit. I've spruced up my website with a little greenery. I've sent out my Christmas Newsletter. It features a lovely painting I saw at the National Gallery in London, along with my thoughts on what Christmas means to me. I've posted a FREE downloadable story for YOU called A Dragon Caern Christmas. I'm ready as I can be to celebrate.

And I'm ready as I can be for my surgery tomorrow. On Sunday, my pastor and friends from my church choir prayed with me. I've been inundated with promises of prayers and well-wishes from readers and writing friends. I know writers are supposed to be good at describing things, but words are not cooperating when I try to explain how loved, how uplifted, how strengthened I feel by the outpouring of support I've received.

And how very humble and very blessed.

Thank you all.

I probably won't be able to post again until I return home, which will be in a little over a week. (Through the wonders of technology, I will be posting on The Chatelaines on Friday the 12th, but that's a little like a taped broadcast instead of a live post. However if you want to see my attempt at sketching, please pop over! It's good for a laugh!)

This next week, I'll be thinking of you, scurrying about, fighting traffic, getting set for your holiday celebration. I'll be lounging in bed, tucked in with warm blankies and hilarious books, letting them bring my meals on a tray, while I wait for my cute surgeon to come back with good news. :)

All I want for Christmas is clear lymph nodes!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Joys of Cyber-Space

It allows me to be in two places at once today. First PLEASURING THE PIRATE is being featured on this week. If you haven't signed up for this free, fun service, I urge you to try it out. Each week you'll received snippets from a new book, enough to know if you'd like to read more and a chance to visit with the author on their forum. I'll be here to answer questions today and tomorrow. I don't expect I'll have internet access in the hospital the rest of the week, so if you'd like to comment today or Tuesday, that would be grand!

Also, if you'd like a chance to find a Pirate in your stocking, visit today, Dec 8th. I'll be giving away a copy of PLEASURING THE PIRATE to one lucky commenter. So come on over and join the fun!

Have a great day!
Diana (Emily)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas on Boston Commons

On Thursday, the Christmas lights came on at Boston Commons. The DH and I were downtown that night for choir practice. We attend Park Street Church (a jewel of a 200 year old church on the edge of Boston Commons) and really enjoy singing in the choir, though I may miss some this Christmas season.

Boston Commons is a several acre patch of trees and grass in the heart of the city. It was established in 1634 as a community grazing ground. George Washington's troops camped there. It's ringed with historic homes and buildings. And each Christmas, the hundreds of trees are covered with lights.

What a treat to be on the Commons when the thousands of lights winked on!

We've spent Christmases in lots of different states. When we lived in North Carolina, we always liked to see the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood. In Minneapolis, it was the Parade of Lights. In Seattle, a flotilla of lighted boats provided a water parade on Lake Washington. In Wyoming, just seeing the brilliant stars splashed across the winter sky was enough. God puts on a spectacular light show.

What public display makes your holiday celebration special?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cancer--The Inconsiderate Guest

If you read my blog, you know I had a colonoscopy last week, a procedure I believed unnecessary and tried very hard to wiggle out of. After all, I had no symptoms and no family history of colon cancer. I "lost" my paperwork. I nearly lost my patience and thought about hopping off the table when they couldn't get the IV started and had to call in a real anesthesiologist (3 cheers for Dr. Goodstick!) But it turns out, my unnecessary screening was actually very necessary.

The mass in my colon is cancerous and I'm slated for surgery on December 10th. I'm so thankful they got me in quickly because this will mean I'll be home for Christmas. On the down side, I'll miss out on visiting with readers when Pleasuring the Pirate is featured on Dear starting Monday. (If you haven't signed up for this fun service, visit . Each week, you'll receive a snippet from a new story. Enough to try before you buy!) I'll be able to answer questions on the 8th & 9th, but expect to be in a drug-induced haze with no internet connection starting Wednesday. Cancer is just so inconsiderate of people's schedules!

They'll evict my unwelcome tenant along with my right colon, probably a foot or so, which will leave me plenty of healthy colon. (Dare I say it, a semi-colon? Sorry. Writer joke.) Then I'll spend a week in the hospital on a restricted diet while my innards heal. If you've ever remodeled a kitchen or bath, you know the last thing you want when you redo plumbing is leaks. When they take the section of colon, they'll also take some lymph nodes. If they are clean, I'll be pronounced cured. If there are cancer cells in the nodes, I'll need to go through chemo. Either way, weight loss looms in my future and that's no bad thing. I've been praying about losing weight. Guess I just wasn't specific enough.

I mulled over whether or not to blog about this. But I'm a writer and writing is how I make sense of the world. I hope it will help me make sense of this. And if my experience can help someone else who's facing a challenge, so much the better.

Colon cancer is not sexy. We don't have classy little awareness ribbons (I can't imagine what color they'd be!) But fortunately, it's very treatable and survivable if caught early. So, my friends, if you are over 50 (one source I checked recommended 40) please schedule your baseline colonoscopy. I have no symptoms. None. Zero. Nada. And yet . . . I have a date with a scalpel (which will be wielded by a very cute surgeon, BTW.)

I'm not afraid, but I would appreciate your prayers and healing wishes, most especially for my DH. It's always harder to watch someone you love go through something like this than to go through it yourself. The love and support I've received from my writing friends has been both encouraging and humbling. Thanks so much.

I'm not stressing. I'm sleeping the sleep of the just. I'm in the hands of a loving God (and a really cute surgeon.:))

It'll be ok.