Friday, July 14, 2017

Fiction Friday: Why I Don't Write Erotica

This week, I tried to write a scene where Jake and Taylor, the H/H of my Contemporary work-in-progress, play out a little bondage scene. They've just been to dinner at the home of Taylor's boss, a real estate developer who's trying to take Jake's land by whatever means necessary. Jake dislikes him very much, but he likes Taylor a lot, so he not only goes to dinner and behaves (reasonably) well, but even goes out and buys a dress shirt and tie for the occasion.

Why would he do all that? Because he was promised "positive reinforcement" for good behavior. While he was out shopping, he picked up some extra ties for just this reward. Taylor's kind of a control freak, so allowing someone else to have that much control is a big step for her.

Sexy and fun, right?

Wrong. Instead of a sex scene, it turned into a story problem: If Jake has four ties, one king-sized hotel bed and a 5'7" girlfriend, will he be able tie her to the bed?

Width of King Size bed (76"/ 2 = 38") + Height of mattress and box springs (23")  = 61"

Taylor’s arm span (58"/2 = 29") - length of her hand (7") = 22"

61" – 22" = 39" to tie down one wrist.

Length of an average tie: 62"

62" - 39" = 23"  That gives us 23" of fabric to wrap around her wrists and the bed legs.

23" / 2 = 11.5"

Her wrists are probably 7" in diameter (Mine are 6" and they may be the smallest adult female wrists on the planet. Why couldn't that trait have landed on my hips instead?)

Assuming that the bed legs are no thicker than Taylor's wrists, that allows us 4" of cloth to make each knot. Doable, although the wide end of the tie will probably have to be folded vertically to make it work.

A king size bed is 80 inches long, approximately 13 inches longer than Taylor is tall, so he'll need another 13 inches to bind her ankles.

So now he's going to need 6 ties instead of 4. Unfortunately, Jake's not much of a planner. I can't see him figuring all this out ahead of time.

At this point, my really hot sex scene kind of collapsed on itself.

At this is why I can't write erotica: too much math.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Six, No, Make That Ten-Week Check-In

It's been ten weeks since I stepped off the cliff that is retirement. Eight weeks ago, I was wondering how I'd do with my new life.

I love it.

My favorite part is Sundays. Sunday used to be the day that I'd look back over the weekend and realize I hadn't gotten nearly enough done and I had to go back to work the next day. Now Sunday is the day I look back over the weekend and realize I haven't gotten nearly enough done--and then relax, because Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday look just like Saturday and Sunday.

Things that are working well:

1) I'm defintely more productive in my writing. I'm not getting in quite as many hours as I'd hoped, but a lot more than I was. Not only that, but because my writing time occurs in uninterrupted blocks, I get a lot more done during my writing time.

2) The house is cleaner, the food is better and the yard looks fabulous. (I took over the lawn duties from Old Dog and I love doing yard work. It's a great change from sitting still writing.)

3) I'm seeing friends every week, so I haven't turned into a hermit yet.

Things that are working less well:

1) I'm having some physical challenges. Mowing the lawn with a walk-behind mower, even though it's self-propelled, puts a lot of strain on my hands. I've started waking up in the morning with the middle two fingers on each hand too numb to type.

2) Likewise, I'm having some problems with the sciatic nerve in my lower back. I suspect that's from too many years of desk work. I've joined a couple of yoga classes, and I have some rehab exercises I hope will remedy the problem.

Things I haven't figured out if they're good or bad:

1) It turns out it's a lot harder to get up and go to the gym in the morning if you don't have a job looming at 8 o'clock.

2) On the other hand, if you get enough sleep, your brain works a lot better. Before I retired, I was starting to worry about dementia. I was like I was 50 First Dates--I would get into work Monday with no recollection of what I was doing on Friday. I kept leaving myself increasingly elaborate notes, but despite that, the time to restart was getting longer and longer.

Now, with enough sleep and one huge category of stuff not to have to remember, I can keep track of what's going on in my work-in-progress AND manage the various tasks around the house. Mostly.

On balance, I'd have to say I like this new life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Little Town Tuesday: Eintracht Park

Over the years, I've levied criticisms and poked fun at the leaders and public servants of Riverside for various things, including the time the SWAT had a twelve-hour standoff with a parrot. Now that they've done something I heartily approve of, it's time to give praise where praise is due.

On Saturday, they dedicated a new public park, the Eintract River Access Park. This beautiful paving stone path leads is perfectly designed to lead an idle wanderer down to the water.

As its name suggests, the park is designed to provide river access for canoes and kayaks.

I don't canoe or kayak, but anyone can enjoy the chance to walk along the river and enjoy the beauty there--maybe even do a little wading on a hot summer day.

My section of Riverside, which is a sprawling suburb that encompasses anything along the north-eastern side of Dayton that isn't claimed by some other locality, borders Old North Dayton, where immigrants have historically made their homes. There's a Polish Club, a Czechoslavakian Club and a Lithuanian Club.

The park is built next to the Eintracht Singing Society,

This view makes me think of that scene in Anne of Green Gables where they play Lady of Shalott.

I foresee some outdoor writing afternoons in my future.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stepping Off the Edge of a Cliff

Today is my last day at work.

Over the years, I've changed jobs a lot, as IT workers frequently do. What you don't know about a potential employer's business always seems to be worth more than what you do know about your current employer's business. The money is always greener on the other side of the interview process.

This job change is different than all those past ones, though, because I'm not moving on to another IT job. Instead, I'm retiring so I can devote all my time to writing, with the intention of publishing a trilogy of paranormal romances early next year.

I'm really excited about the change. I've done all my homework and we can afford it. I'm really looking forward to having more time to write. But at the same time, it feels a little bit like I'm stepping off a cliff.

My work schedule provides structure for my life. Without that structure, how will I adapt? Will I start sleeping in and binge-watching TV? Will I let myself get sucked into volunteer work so there's no time to write? I have twelve grandkids. Just keeping up with soccer and choir concerts and Grandparents Days could be a full-time job.

I'm also a little concerned about my social life. I work with a great bunch of people--smart and kind and funny. They're always willing to follow me down a hypothetical trail as I consider what my protagonist might do next. Without those day-to-day interactions, will I be lonely? Am I even creative enough to plot a book without a lot of outside ideas?

My brush with breast cancer this winter was a sharp reminder that we don't live forever. If you really want to do do something, you have to have the courage to do it.

It's time to take that next step.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Your Call Is Very Important to Us

Over the weekend, I added up the medical bills I've received so far for my little bout with breast cancer. The total:$70,814.39

And this was for a Stage 1 tumor that required relatively little attention. I can't even imagine what the price tag looks like if you have chemotherapy and reconstruction.

My health insurance company negotiated for a reduced price. That total was substantially less, only $26,676.81.

If you live outside the U.S. and you've been wondering what the big deal is with having healthcare coverage here, that's a huge part of it. If you have health insurance, you're only responsible for the discounted figure (of which your insurance compay pays the lion's share). Sans insurance, you're on the hook for the whole $71K.

My out-of-pocket max, per the terms of my policy, is $5500.

Here's the kicker, though: if you overpay someone, it's like pulling teeth to get it back (and let's not even talk about the price tag for dental work, which falls under a whole separate policy). So it's important to stay on top of the bills you receive, match them up to the explanation of benefits forms you get from the insurance company and make sure everything lines up.

Because it won't.

Thus far, I've had the various players in this game:
  • Refuse to pay the $2400 bill for my biopsy not once, but twice.
    1. The first time was because they wanted me to prove I was really entitled to insurance through my husband's company--that I couldn't get it through my own job. (I can't. At work, I have to stay below 28 hours a week to ensure my employer isn't legally required to offer me health insurance. Which I happily do.)  (Two phone calls, a trip to my HR office and proof submitted--the exact same proof I'd submitted less than three months earlier when my husband put me on his policy.)
    2. The second time was because the insurance company said the procedure required pre-authorization and they hadn't received it. Three more phone calls.
    3. Still waiting on the outcome for that.

  • Lose track of my surgery pre-payment.  The day before my lumpectomy, the hospital called and wanted $681. I gave them a credit card and they recorded the payment against my account. For some reason, though, when I went in the next day, they opened a second account and put all the charges there.Three more phone calls to get those married up
  • Send me a bill for $175 worth of labwork. Still another phone call netted the information that the insurance company negotiated the $175 down to $44.85, which was part of my deductible. Another phone call--the lab said they never got that notification. We agreed I'd pay them $44.85 and send a copy of the EOB with my payment.

We're now up to 10 phones calls, a letter, an hour of your-call-is-very-important-to-us-so-we'll-play-tinny-tuneless-music-in-your-ear-until-you-give-up, and a sheaf of bills and EOBs (explanations of benefits) an inch thick.

And my illness was relatively minor. How do people manage all this if they're really sick?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Friendship Test

Saw this the other day on a friend's Facebook wall the other day:

I do not have a large number of friends.

Aww. I'm sorry. Hang out a while and you'll get more.

In fact, I do not accept some.

So it's not that you're a newbie. It's because you set high standards. That's cool.

I'm happy to have you, because you are among my friends.

Thanks! I  feel so special.

In addition, over time I've erased some, due to unacceptable behaviors.

Um, feeling a little threatened here.

Now I'm going to see who will read this post to the end.

I should probably admit I'm losing interest at this point. If you want me to read to the end, how about saying something interesting?

I'm curious to see who takes care of the bond that we have.

Okay, just for the record, we don't really have that much of a bond. We went to high school together--and we ran in different circles. Not that I don't like you, I'm just saying we really weren't that tight.

Thank you for being part of my life.

No problem.

Please do not share this post.

Um, you're pretty safe on that one.

This is a little test, just to see who reads and those who share without reading!

Granted, careless posts are a pain in the butt, but when did we decide we needed a test?

If you read everything, select 'like' and then copy and paste this to your profile...

Um, I don't want to. I can put a comment.

You're setting a pretty high bar there for a comment, toots.

Then comment your favorite flavor of ice cream under my post.

Seriously? This is what this is all about? Ice cream? You should have led with that. I'm pretty sure you lost most of the ice cream crowd when you started getting all snooty and making demands.

So here's the deal. These "cut and paste this post to prove your friendship" leave me feeling the same way my high school boyfriend did when he had a test I needed to pass to prove my affection. I skipped that one and I think I'll skip this one, too.

And by the way--vanilla. Because you can add toppings to make it any flavor you want.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Chronicles of Breast Cancer Part 7--To Drug or Not to Drug

At a recent meeting of my Romance Writers chapter, one of the other members shared a story about a fellow member who writes really great sex scenes.

"She goes to a compounding pharmacy and has them make her up this cream that's a mix of estrogen and testosterone," she said."She rubs it on her arms and it puts her in the mood to write sexy."

Half of me had to applaud the woman's creativity and the sheer dedication to the craft. The other half was absolutely horrified. Adding a lot of extra hormones to your system, especially estrogen, is a recipe for breast cancer.

Is she insane?

The other writer shrugged. "You have to do something after menopause. Otherwise you wind up writing women's fiction."

(This cracked me up. The polarity between Dems and Republicans is nothing compared to the divide between romance and women's fiction writers.)

Fast forward three days and I met the third and final doctor in my triad of oncologists--my medical oncologist. (Not to be confused with my surgical oncologist or my radiation oncologist, each of whom sends a separate bill.)  Because my tumor was estrogen and progesterone receptive, he recommended I take a drug called Letrozole.

Since I'm post-menopausal, my ovaries no longer produce estrogen, but the adrenal glands that sit atop my kidneys still do. Letrozole binds itself to those estrogen molecules, preventing the hormone from making more tumors.

That's what it's being paid to do, anyway.

Unfortunately, it throws in some extra services for free:

1) Dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, fatigue (typically short-term)
2) Hot flashes
3) Constipation
4) Joint pain similar to arthritis
5) Weight gain
6) Vaginal dryness

That last one caught my attention.

If I took this drug I'd have to give up romance writing. Not that I dislike women's fiction. Done well, it's amazing stuff. Done poorly, it's just one more novel about recovering from breast cancer and/or dealing with widowhood.

I told the doctor I'd have to think about it.

The other morning, while I was walking the dog, I had an epiphany. If I refuse to take Letrozole because I don't want to give up writing romance, it's really no different than the writer who smears hormones on her forearms to get into the mood. Well, there's one difference. I know I'm at risk.

I think it's time to woman up and take my medicine.


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