Saturday, February 23, 2013

I Can Hardly Wait!!!

In 10 days - count 'em - 10 days - THE SILENT GHOST will be released by Granny's new publisher Penguin/Berkley. 

THE SILENT GHOST is not a full novel, but a novella. It will also not be offered in print format, but only digitally.

When I contracted with Berkley to continue the Ghost of Granny Apples series with them, there was concern about the gap in time between the last Granny novel, GEM OF A GHOST, and the release of the first Granny book to be published by Berkley.  The solution was to ask me to write a couple of novellas to tide over Granny's eager fans. This is the first of two novellas under contract with Berkley.  The second, still untitled, will be released next March, with the 4th book in the continuing Granny Apples series to follow in April of 2014.  I'm currently working on that 4th book. It has a working title of GHOST OF A GAMBLE.

THE SILENT GHOST is also a departure from the Granny series in another way. Instead of featuring Emma Whitecastle, it features Kelly, her daughter who is a student at Harvard. In GEM OF A GHOST we learned that Kelly can see and hear Granny Apples. But can she see and hear other spirits as well?  Is she her mother's daughter? That question gets answered when a young reporter by the name of Tanisha Costello approaches her. Tanisha knows full well that Kelly is the daughter of a famous TV personality and a famous medium, but she isn't looking for a story, she's looking for help. At first wary, Granny Apples steps in and convinces Kelly that together they can help Tanisha solve her spirited problem.

BTW, GEM OF A GHOST was nominated for a 2012 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award!

You can pre-order THE SILENT GHOST now from your favorite e-book retailer.  And for those of you who do not have e-readers, don't fret, you can still read THE SILENT GHOST by downloading FREE Nook and Kindle apps to your computer, tablets or smartphones. 

And let's not forget Odelia! 

The 8th book in the Odelia Grey mystery series, SECONDHAND STIFF, will be released by Midnight Ink December 2013.  That's right, December. Just in time for holiday shopping!

In SECONDHAND STIFF we find Odelia facing some very personal trials and tribulations when her cantankerous mother, Grace Littlejohn, comes for a visit during the Thanksgiving holiday. Throw in a body found in a storage locker, and Grace's fascination with murder and mayhem, and we find Odelia on the brink of more than her usual insanity.

Monday, February 18, 2013

An Epiphany of Pain

Okay, I know you've heard me say this before, but I'm going to keep saying it until it sinks in ... not into your heads, but into mine.

Over the past several years I've started and abandoned one diet after another.  When I trained for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in 2009 (wow! can you believe it has been 4 years?!), I lost about 35 lbs., then quickly gained it and more back when I injured my left leg and stopped working out. Since then I've had a spotty record of fits and starts which resulted in getting on the doctor's scale in December 2012 and finding I had hit my highest weight ever - 278 lbs!   

Yes, I'm putting that number out there, big, bold and brassy. I thought long and hard about it before I did. Did I really want folks to know what I weighed? But it's not about you folks, it's about me and my health.  Over all, I'm pretty healthy, but in December something happened that shook me to my bones, literally. I woke up one morning with such back and legs pains I could barely walk and had to call into the office sick.  I have arthritis in my knees but it has never really bothered me that much, just from time to time.  But the morning I woke and could barely shuffle from the bed to the bathroom set off an alarm in my head like an old-fashioned fire house bell.

What would happen if I got worse?  How would I manage? I live alone and have a pretty busy life. The thought sent me into a panic.

Over Christmas I went on vacation to Santa Fe with one of my BFFs. I struggled to walk, but managed in spite of the altitude and my legs. I was determined not to let the pain ruin our vacation and my 60th birthday celebration, but I was cranky and full of fear.  What happened to the woman who used to walk 3 miles a day pain-free just a couple of years before? Where was she and could I get her back?  In answer, I started watching what I ate and moved around more.

In mid January I participated with my niece and several friends in the Disneyland Neverland 5K. About two weeks before, I went to the doctor with pain in my right leg. He confirmed it wasn't my knee but a strain to the muscles in that leg. He gave me stretching exercises and applauded me for a 4 lbs loss since my last visit.  Yes! In the month since I'd last seen him, I'd lost 4 lbs just by watching what I ate. I did the 5K but had to stop quite often to stretch out my leg. Another friend was nursing bad knees and she and I finished well behind our friends, but we finished!  The next few days I could barely walk.

My body is trying to tell me something and until now I've been ignoring it. It's time to clean the wax out of my ears.

My niece had started Weight Watchers online in January, so I signed up to do it with her. It has been very successful for me in just a couple of weeks.  Coupled with the early few pounds, I've lost 16 lbs since the Holidays. I find WW easy to follow and I'm not only losing weight but eating so healthy I can feel the difference in my body. 

At the Disneyland 5K in January 2013
I still need to get in more exercise.  As a writer always on deadline and a paralegal by day, I spend an extraordinary amount of time sitting on my fat ass in front of a computer. I have to force time to exercise into my schedule with a shoehorn. It also doesn't help that I hate to exercise, but unless I do, my body is not going to heal in spite of the new eating habits.

Last spring I teamed up with Lori Marshall Olsen to start a support group on Facebook called How Bad Do You Want It.  Lori is amazing!  In the past few years, Lori has lost about 150 lbs just by changing her eating habits and exercising.  Her husband and son have also lost a lot of weight. The family was recently featured on The Huffington Post and Dr. Oz. The HBDYWI group consists of people, mostly women, who are tired of yo-yo diets and are ready to make a commitment to be healthy. We don't follow any particular diet or program. Each member is free to do what they wish. Some are on WW, others under doctor's care, some just making changes on their own. In the year since we've started the group many have lost a lot of weight and reclaimed their lives and health.  Although one of the founders, I didn't fare so well the first year, but now I'm on board, armed and ready to be one of the group's success stories.

You folks have followed my writing career, my emotional ups and downs, and my going gray and turning 60. Here's the next step in my journey. I promise not to bore you with details, but will post from time to time on my progress.

This isn't about being fashionable or wanting to be thin, this is about feeling good and being mobile.

P.S.: For those readers who fear my character Odelia Grey will follow in my footsteps, don't worry. Odelia will remain the same plus-size, sassy gal she is today. She is, after all, a fictional character with good knees and legs.



Saturday, February 09, 2013

Transparency Isn't Always a Good Thing

Is this the face of a medium?
Over the years I've blogged and posted on Facebook off and on about dreams and experiences I've had in my bathroom.  All of the dreams have involved spirits or ghosts or what-not coming to me then disappearing through the walls.  And let's not forget I've gotten some of my best story and character ideas while showering.  There's just something magical about my bathroom, except for the fact that it doesn't magically clean itself.
Well, it's time to chalk up another phenomenon for my inside outhouse.

In the past few months my male cat, Raffi, has taken to disappearing behind the shower curtain. (Think the Wizard of Oz but with more hair.)  I have no idea what he's doing there, nor do I really care. In the summer, when it gets really hot in my apartment, he likes to hop in there and lay on the cool porcelain. But it's currently winter. I'll be working at my computer and I'll hear him nattering away in there. Sometimes he even gives off a guttural howl. My other cat, B, doesn't do it. She used to cool off in the tub until she got too old and stiff to hop over the edge. It's just Raffi.

A few weeks ago I replaced my cream-colored shower liner with a clear one. The curtain itself is shear so now you can see right into the shower when the curtain is pulled closed, which is most of the time. It's pretty cool because now when I shower I can see out, so if Norman Bates sneaks into my apartment I'll be able to see him coming.  But I digress ...

The thing is, with the new clear liner I can now see what the silly animal is doing, and it's kind of disturbing in a creepy sort of way.  Tonight I heard him mewing and chattering away and slipped into the room to watch through the curtain. Raffi was sitting in the middle of the tub transfixed on the fixtures - the spout and the knobs.  I know he wasn't looking for water to drink. He gets a big fresh bowl every morning and has never been a faucet drinker. Nor did he pay me any mind or even acknowledge my presence on the other side.
Raffi staring at the corner,
while B is unimpressed.
No, he was just sitting there, staring at the fixtures as if they were an oracle about to drop pearls of wisdom at his paws.  As if the meaning of feline life could be found in the worn chrome and ugly '70s tile.  While I watched, he chattered something at the wall, then stepped closer and sat again, almost with reverence, as if waiting to be blessed. Frankly, it gave me the willies, which is odd considering I write about ghosts. You'd think I'd be immune to such creepiness.

This isn't the first time Raffi has been obsessed like this.  He used to stare at the corner by my bed all the time and I was once able to snap a photo of it. He's no longer looking in that spot. Now it seems to be just the shower. Maybe whatever entity he's become buds with has moved from the bedroom to the bath. And maybe it's simply as comedian Brett Butler used to say: That child ain't right.

Raffi is next to me now sound asleep. His commune with the spirits of the bath over for tonight. At least I hope so. Meanwhile, I'm looking over my shoulder every few minutes, not sure if I should be afraid or looking for a new story line.

Or maybe I need to go to Target tomorrow and buy a new shower liner. One I can't see through.  If I don't see it, it won't bother me. Right?