Magick 4 Terri Auction

My teen years and young adulthood were shaped by some wonderful fantasy books, many of which had a connection to Terri Windling. She seemed to have her fingers in a lot of wonderful pies (my apologies if that metaphor made you crave pie).

Terri is going through some hardships currently, and some of her friends and colleagues have gotten together with this mission:

"Terri Windling and her family have been coping with health and legal issues that have drained her financial resources at a critical time. Due to the serious nature of these issues, and privacy concerns for individual family members, we can't be more specific than that, but Terri is in need of our support. As a friend, a colleague and an inspiration, Terri has touched many, many lives over the years. She has been supremely generous in donating her own work and art to support friends and colleagues in crisis. Now, Terri is in need of some serious help from her community. Who better than her colleagues and fans to rise up to make some magick for her?

Through the next 18 days, we'll be posting personal offerings from the likes of Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Wendy & Brian Froud, and many more! Besides bidding on these beautiful items, YOU can also post your own skills, services, arts, crafts, or whatever else you'd like to offer for auction!"

So if you'd like to help support this worthy founder of so many fantasy elements, go the Magick 4 Terri auction.

I've been quickly outbid on the items I was after, so this is turning out to be a hot auction!

Top 5 Reasons for Me to Lose That Weight

I know I've had the best excuse for gaining weight, but over the last year I put on about 20 pounds. Then in the last few months, I put on another 10 to make it a nice round 30 pounds (and I do mean round, my waist is only a memory). So now that I'm on my way to getting better, I'm determined to try to lose some weight. Here are my top 5 reasons why, in no particular order:

1. I NOW SNORE LIKE A WARTHOG Prior to this, I might have let out a delicate little piglet snort in my sleep occasionally, but now it's at drunken sailor volume. My husband even said that the other night, he dreamt he was sleeping next to a wild animal and woke up to my snoring. Weight gain can definitely promote snoring and sleep apnea, so the warthog needs to migrate on outta here.

2. I'M TIRED OF PEOPLE ASKING ME, "WHEN ARE YOU DUE?" Yes, I know I look like the right age for my childbearing years, and the majority of the extra weight has settled in my abdomen. But it's to the point where I've started giving strangers a made-up answer ("I'm four months along") because it's easier than seeing their embarrassment when I give the real answer ("Not pregnant, just fat, but thanks for asking") So time for that pseudo baby weight to drop.

3. MORE CLEAVAGE=MORE CLEAVAGE I'm not complaining about going up a cup size in my boobs (and my husband hasn't shared any complaints either) but I draw the line at having a cup size in my back fat. Because I've refused to buy new bras, my back fat gets pushed into back cleavage that is showing way too much in sweater season. Time for the back cleavage to split.

4. IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM My mother has been back on Weight Watchers for about 3 months, which means she is obsessed with "points". Every phone call or in-person meeting is filled with a recitation of how many points each item she has put in her mouth is worth, and incredulous lists of how many points the things she chose to not put in her mouth would have been. Despite my gentle comments meant to discourage such behavior, like "Hey Ma, save it for your Weight Watchers meetings and people who care" or "Mom, a list of points does not a conversation make", she still does it. So why not jump on the WW bandwagon and let her do all the points tracking for me?

5. REALITY BITES Last week I started back to water aerobics, and I got the bright idea to step on the locker room scale. And that's when reality hit: it's not the horizontal stripes that make me look fat, it's not the baggy sweater I grabbed out of my husband's drawer that makes me look fat--IT'S THE EXTRA 30 POUNDS OF FAT THAT MAKES ME LOOK FAT.

So if you've decided to lose weight, what's your inspiration?

Faces of Fat Kitty City

I've mentioned it before, but I volunteer at a wonderful cage-free, no-kill, local cat sanctuary called Fat Kitty City where I take photos and mostly do this (while wearing a cat hair smock):

But last year, I started doing a calendar of my favorite digital paintings of the kitties as a fundraiser, and I had so much fun that I decided to do it this year also. Go on over to my other blog, Fat Kitty City Nitty Gritty, for a sneak peek at what this year's calendar holds.

Beauties like this for example:

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

RTW: Time for Thanks

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: What writing or publishing-related thing(s) are you most thankful for?

Okay, I do a lot of tongue-in-cheek posts, but this one's going to have some serious stuff seep into it. I'm thankful for all the people (my husband, my crit group, my betas) that support me in my writing life and regular life, because otherwise both aspects could have had some major setbacks in the last year.

This time last year, when I went in for my regular annual checkup at my doctor's I pointed out the lump in my neck and wondered, "Is this supposed to be here, or am I growing an Adam's apple? Cuz as far as I know, I've always been a girl." The doc said, "hmm" and sent for an MRI.

It came back as multiple nodules on my thyroid, probably goiters (there's a word you want to hear in your 30s) or adenomas. So two inconclusive biopsies later and half a year later, I could have a risk of cancer as low as 5% or as high as 30%.

But in the meantime, one nodule had grown some so a total thyroidectomy was recommended. They were so confident that this was all benign that they kept pushing my surgery out to fit in people with more life-threatening conditions. Since I was working on a revise-and-resubmit at the time (yay!), I was totally fine with that.

So I finished the revisions and sent them off a few days before my surgery, and was satisfied that my recovery time would overlap with the agent's reading time. My surgery went well, the recovery was a cake walk compared to the back surgery I had a few years ago, and everything was on track.

Now if you're a writer reading this, did you just have an "uh-oh, that sounds like the calm before the storm" moment? Because it was--after being assured multiple times that this was most likely benign, that phone call where they told me it was thyroid cancer came as a shock.

But the cancer word was cushioned with some (relatively) good news: my cancer had fairly clean margins, there were no indications that it had spread to my lymph nodes, and the radiation treatments for thyca are not as destructive as other kinds of radiation.

And this time they were right: I had my radiation at the beginning of the month, and the scans show no metastasis. So I'm good; no worries for another year, when they will do an ultrasound and check my thyroglobulin.

Went from a thyroid cancer diagnosis to thyroid cancer survivor within the space of a few months, what a roller coaster ride! And along with all this stuff, I had the usual writing drama with revisions, querying, the revise and resubmit requests, and so on. My crit group got a few panicked emails in there, believe me! And my husband had to pick up a lot of slack around the house, so thanks to all of you!

This week, I'm making some more cuts to my first novel, and then back to working on my next book. Onward!

Together we're better - ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association Support Community

What about you--What are you thankful for in your writing life or otherwise? Don't forget to go to the comments on the YA Highway RTW post to see everyone else's answers!

RTW: Rite of Passage Reading

I missed my Monday post this week (thought I had another auto-post queued up, oops) so I was determined to jump on Road Trip Wednesday to make up for it. And lucky me, I actually had something to say on this topic! Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors and followers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination through the YA Highway site and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

I secretly enjoyed* some of the titles on our high school reading list--in fact, I'd already read most of them. I say secretly because it irked me to no end to be forced to read a book, and then discuss it at length with other students forced to read it and therefore unlikely to contribute anything beyond what the teacher wanted to hear. But the third high school I attended (which happened to be a continuation high school) let us pick from a list of books, and it actually had science fiction titles!

As to books I consider to be required reading for teens, I have two titles that I always give to my teen nieces and nephews as a sort of rite of passage. And no surprise, they're both science fiction.

I've heard from a few charter school students that Ender's Game is on their reading list, and kudos to those teachers. This book raises so many of the big questions for teens like making decisions for yourself, coming to terms with others' expectations for your life, and living with the consequences of choosing to defy or meet those expectations. As well as more everyday, relatable topics like bullying, sibling rivalry, adults that want you to act your age and are disappointed when you actually do. All this, and a fascinating world-building and action-packed plot too.

The second book that I give to teens, especially girls, at age 16 or older would never make it onto a high school reading list because of all the graphic sex. It's not gratuitous, definitely integral to the plot, but it's graphic enough that I give a copy with a warning.

You may not be able to see it in the pic, but the full title is The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Ladies Illustrated Primer, and it truly is a formative book for young ladies. On the surface, it's got some incredible, early Steampunk imaginings (I would totally be a craftsperson for the Vickies, even with the rules) and cyberpunk elements. But it also has a thread of story throughout, with girls finding their own kind of power and honor, and therefore their own paths in life.

If you haven't read this one, put it on your own required reading list! What about you--what books did you hate reading in high school, and which ones would you substitute for the required reading list? Don't forget to go to today's YA Highway post to see what everyone else had to say.

*The exception was Steinbeck; I had this weird brain hiccup in that I loved his stories, but couldn't wade through the actual writing. The Grapes of Wrath has some truly heartbreaking elements, East of Eden has such classic story conflicts, but as a teen I just couldn't get into his writing style. I've done a little better as an adult, but Travels with Charlie and Cannery Row are the only Steinbeck books I've truly enjoyed.

Book Rec: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I don't do reviews, but I do recommend books through the RTW Best Book of the Month posts. Only, I've just read a great book and it's November 3--the end of the month is too long to go without mentioning it! Here's the trailer, which I also love:

What's not to like? Horses, and not-horses, dark legends, a mysterious boy . . . but be warned that there is a healthy portion of blood and violence and peril (people as well as animals, though it's usually the animals that get to me more in books). If you're not sure if that warning has put you off, download the sample through Kindle or whatever app you use. Enough of a taste of what is to come shows up in there that you should be able to make up your mind.

As an aside, I tried to read her Shiver series and had a difficult time connecting with them. Can't even articulate why, but I had no such problem with this book.