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Archive for October, 2009

Sometimes life sucks.

I could write a thousand pages about my grandma. She was the most amazing woman you could ever meet and one of the toughest.

She proved the doctors wrong on more than one occasion, making a full recovery from breast cancer, heart surgery and an aneurism. Last June, she contracted double pneumonia and the doctors said there was no chance of recovery. She not only recovered, she could still kick my butt at Wheel of Fortune, any Jumble or crossword puzzle. Oh, and she was learning to play Suduko.

She went back to the hospital earlier this month because she was having trouble breathing. She decided against the life support and on Monday, October 26th, with her entire family around her, she passed away.

I am more than thankful to have had her in my life for as long as I did.

In memory of my beloved Grandmother

Agnes Roberts

11/11/23 – 10/26/09

You will forever be missed.
gramandme

This week and next, my blog posts have been and will be prescheduled. I’m in Utah with my family. So please understand if I don’t respond to your comments.

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Today, Carlos J Cortes is guest blogging. Here is his thirteen reasons why you should read THE PRISONER.

Here we go: you must read The prisoner:

1.If you’ve ever been scraped by power.
The Prisoner proposes that real power is not at the top of the public pyramid but somewhere in its core, like a cist. We’re naked, helpless, before the often anonymous mighty.

2.If you believe that real people are flawed.
My characters, regardless of status or background are ordinary people, insecure, vulnerable and damaged. Aren’t we all?

3.If you like extreme sports.
Forget about running with the bulls at Pamplona. Imagine sprinting inside a stainless-steel tube, naked, before a barreling “pig”; a robotic cleaning machine the size of a small truck and propelled by stiff wire brushes.

4.If the concept of obsessive love intrigues you.
I’m an incurable romantic and believe in love without caveats or compromise. Yet, to love someone above anything else is a recipe for disaster, unless the other shares the same idealized notion. This seldom happens, as Navokov wrote in his unforgettable ‘Lolita,’ which, by the way, is the only novel I know where the full plot is condensed in the nine words of its opening line. In The Prisoner, I explore the love of one woman for another, beyond good, evil and life itself.

5. If you find eroticism, er… refreshing.
Several editors nominated one chapter in The Prisoner as containing one of the most erotic scenes they had ever read. It’s a simple scene, really, involving an auto-focus TV camera, a faulty air-conditioning system and a bathtub full of scalding water.

6. If you thought bears hibernate.
No. Bears enjoy winter lethargy not hibernation. Hibernation is an inactive sleep-like state some animals, like squirrels, enter into during the winter. Bears only experience small changes in heart rate, metabolic processes and body temperature. On the other hand, a true hibernator’s body temperature may drop to the freezing point and its metabolism slows down almost to zero.

7. If you worry about our prison system.
The current Prison System, with its obscenely revolving doors, is not deterrence anymore for hardened criminals. In addition, the present prison population has grown five-fold in the past fifty years. If the trend continues (and experts concur it will) in another fifty years it will bankrupt the nation. The choices are two: fewer inmates or a cheaper-to-run system. Hibernation is such a system.

8 .If you though that visiting the future is impossible.
In hibernation, mammalian metabolism slows down. If a human system is adequately maintained, ageing can be slowed by four fifths. After one-hundred years in hibernation, the subject would have aged only twenty. That’s the theory anyway.

9. If it would comfort you to know there’s a hero inside each of us.
In The Prisoner, the heroes are idealists, cripples and misfits. In the words of one of the characters, Nikola Masek: “No general could hope for a finer army.”

10. If you side with the underdog.
The Prisoner is the tale of the underdog and the people society abandons. With sheer heroism they will rattle the foundations of the establishment and more, but I can’t tell you the rest as it would spoil your reading pleasure.

11. If you care for our discarded soldiers.
Much can be said about a nation from the way it cares for its redundant warriors. The United States of America doesn’t have a very good record; remember the Vietnam veterans. In The Prisoner I wanted to do something about that.

12. If you like pets.
Then The Prisoner is for you. In its pages you will find wonderful snippets about the habits and behaviour of rats, several species of roaches and other cuddly creatures.

13.If you want to know what happens to your waste after you flush the toilet.
Chances are you live miles away from a treatment plant. From home to its final resting place, the effluence of affluence enters a fantastic journey through a world of tunnels, sewers and galleries in places fifteen levels deep and largely unexplored.

An excerpt from The Prisoner

“Remain calm and follow the instructions.”
Laurel Cole sniffed. Calm? How can anyone about to die remain calm?
The truck’s enclosure had a subtle smell ingrained into its polished steel surfaces and expanded metal grilles—a smell no amount of steam and disinfectant could remove. It was the odor of fear, of sweat tinged with a whiff of feces and vomit.
There was a shudder, a hollow thud, and the hiss of hydraulic bolts locking; the rear of the truck had coupled against the building. Overhead, the speaker continued its monotonous mantra. “Remain calm.”
Laurel blinked. Although it was outside her field of vision, she knew every step to dock the vehicle against the admissions entrance of the prison complex. Shepherd had explained the procedure more than once and with the matter-of-fact tone of firsthand experience.
Do people scream? In retrospect, it had been a foolish question, but Laurel had asked her trainer—the man she knew only as “Shepherd”—anyway. He didn’t know but offered a warning instead: Whoever opens his or her mouth before they’re told to, or departs from instructions in any way, risks another year.
Another year? In for a penny—No. Laurel checked the thought. Once you’re dead, it shouldn’t matter for how long: elastic time, darkness, and nothingness. But it did. How long you were dead was important, and the thought of an extra minute would be enough to drive anyone insane.
Will I dream? Another stupid question. She pushed the tips of her fingers through the wire mesh fronting her cage and narrowed her eyes as a panel behind the truck inched upward, blinding light pouring through the widening gap at its base.
“Stand away from the doors.”
Laurel disentangled her fingers and pressed her back against the side of the cage. It wasn’t a question of stepping back but simply leaning. Her enclosure, two feet wide and eighteen inches deep, didn’t have enough space for a step. Twenty-four enclosures to a truck. Twenty-four new inmates on their way to hell.
A blue-white glare lit the truck’s interior. Tiny stars shone on the wire grille, perhaps a few specks of dust. The light must be UV heavy. We don’t want germs, do we? In the pen across from her own, Laurel peered at a bright orange shape. It was an old man, his shaven head glistening under the glare. Cold sweat. His mouth opened and closed like a goldfish in a bowl. Or, better still, like the face in Munch’s “The Scream.”
A snap, and the door to her enclosure swung open smoothly on its hinges.
“Five-one-five-eight-five-three-one-six, exit your compartment. Remain calm.”
How thoughtful. Ladies first. After standing in the same spot for several hours, the metal floor outside her pen felt cold. No shoes? Nerves had probably triggered her questions, since she already understood the horror, but Shepherd had answered anyway: No. No shoes. What for?
“Walk out of the truck and into the adjoining room.”
Laurel stepped forward, darting a glance back at the pens, each with an orange outline inside—like gaily wrapped mummies, tucked into as many catacomb niches. “Remain calm. Stand inside the circle at the center of the room.”
Behind her, she heard the truck’s rear panel slide back down, its bolts ramming home. No witnesses, nothing to give the other twenty-three prisoners a clue.
“Undress and drop your clothes inside the circle.”
She pulled a T-shirt over her head, tore at the strip holding the trousers around her waist, and stepped out of the cloth as it pooled around her feet. Cold. She maneuvered both feet over the garments. No underwear. No need. Warmth seeped through her soles. Her warmth, soon to wane.
The room, a perfect cube perhaps ten feet by ten feet, was featureless, with white polymer walls, floor, and ceiling. No openings, no anything. It was empty but for a gray circle and a terrified, naked woman standing on orange clothes.

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Bantam Spectra releases Carlos J Cortes’ second book, THE PRISONER, today! If you’ve read PERFECT CIRCLE, you know you’re in for a treat.  Prisoner cvr2

2049. Earth’s prisons were shut down and all the inmates placed in massive hibernation tanks. In the ten years since, no one has broken out… until now.

Find out more about Carlos here.

And buy the book here!

Here is an excerpt of THE PRISONER to whet your appetite.

17:02
“Remain calm and follow the instructions.”
Laurel Cole sniffed. Calm? How can anyone about to die remain calm?
The truck’s enclosure had a subtle smell ingrained into its polished steel surfaces and expanded metal grilles—a smell no amount of steam and disinfectant could remove. It was the odor of fear, of sweat tinged with a whiff of feces and vomit.
There was a shudder, a hollow thud, and the hiss of hydraulic bolts locking; the rear of the truck had coupled against the building. Overhead, the speaker continued its monotonous mantra. “Remain calm.”
Laurel blinked. Although it was outside her field of vision, she knew every step to dock the vehicle against the admissions entrance of the prison complex. Shepherd had explained the procedure more than once and with the matter-of-fact tone of firsthand experience.
Do people scream? In retrospect, it had been a foolish question, but Laurel had asked her trainer—the man she knew only as “Shepherd”—anyway. He didn’t know but offered a warning instead: Whoever opens his or her mouth before they’re told to, or departs from instructions in any way, risks another year.
Another year? In for a penny—No. Laurel checked the thought. Once you’re dead, it shouldn’t matter for how long: elastic time, darkness, and nothingness. But it did. How long you were dead was important, and the thought of an extra minute would be enough to drive anyone insane.
Will I dream? Another stupid question. She pushed the tips of her fingers through the wire mesh fronting her cage and narrowed her eyes as a panel behind the truck inched upward, blinding light pouring through the widening gap at its base.
“Stand away from the doors.”
Laurel disentangled her fingers and pressed her back against the side of the cage. It wasn’t a question of stepping back but simply leaning. Her enclosure, two feet wide and eighteen inches deep, didn’t have enough space for a step. Twenty-four enclosures to a truck. Twenty-four new inmates on their way to hell.
A blue-white glare lit the truck’s interior. Tiny stars shone on the wire grille, perhaps a few specks of dust. The light must be UV heavy. We don’t want germs, do we? In the pen across from her own, Laurel peered at a bright orange shape. It was an old man, his shaven head glistening under the glare. Cold sweat. His mouth opened and closed like a goldfish in a bowl. Or, better still, like the face in Munch’s “The Scream.”
A snap, and the door to her enclosure swung open smoothly on its hinges.
“Five-one-five-eight-five-three-one-six, exit your compartment. Remain calm.”
How thoughtful. Ladies first. After standing in the same spot for several hours, the metal floor outside her pen felt cold. No shoes? Nerves had probably triggered her questions, since she already understood the horror, but Shepherd had answered anyway: No. No shoes. What for?
“Walk out of the truck and into the adjoining room.”
Laurel stepped forward, darting a glance back at the pens, each with an orange outline inside—like gaily wrapped mummies, tucked into as many catacomb niches. “Remain calm. Stand inside the circle at the center of the room.”
Behind her, she heard the truck’s rear panel slide back down, its bolts ramming home. No witnesses, nothing to give the other twenty-three prisoners a clue.
“Undress and drop your clothes inside the circle.”
She pulled a T-shirt over her head, tore at the strip holding the trousers around her waist, and stepped out of the cloth as it pooled around her feet. Cold. She maneuvered both feet over the garments. No underwear. No need. Warmth seeped through her soles. Her warmth, soon to wane.
The room, a perfect cube perhaps ten feet by ten feet, was featureless, with white polymer walls, floor, and ceiling. No openings, no anything. It was empty but for a gray circle and a terrified, naked woman standing on orange clothes. She didn’t notice when the wall facing her started to rise. The continuous floor and lack of features played tricks with her perception.
“Advance into the next room.”
Although it was difficult to estimate time—there was no urgency to the process—the wretches in the truck would get a glimpse of eternity. Laurel was sure that, year or no year, some would scream. Perhaps that was the designer’s idea. She stepped forward. The building probably consisted of blocks, every room a carbon copy of the previous one. No, wrong cliché. No carbon here; a snow copy.
Another circle.
“Walk to the center of the room and stand inside the circle.”
The wall behind her must have been sliding closed, as Laurel sensed more than felt movement. She glanced at the ceiling and an approaching circular gap. The circle where she stood rose, becoming a platform.
“Remain calm. Don’t move.”
No. We wouldn’t want me to fall, would we? I might hurt myself. When her shoulders cleared the space separating the levels, Laurel blinked. She feasted her gaze on the left-hand wall. In its center, there was a small square niche, large enough to stand a vase with a bunch of wildflowers, though there was nothing there now. On the floor, right under the niche, there was a gray semicircle. Now what? Remain calm. Walk to the semicir—
“Remain calm. Step over to the opening on the right wall and keep inside the gray area.”
The programmer must have felt verbose.
At the base of the niche were two trays with slimy green things inside. She leaned forward a fraction. Not trays, but slight hollows. Laurel knew what came next, and the thought filled her with dread.
“To your right are earplugs. Hold one by the larger spherical end and insert the pointed end into your left ear.”
The plug felt like blob of jelly, like the candy her mother used to make. Laurel tried to push her auburn mane out of the way and froze when her hand encountered air. There was not a hair left on her body. The blob fell to the floor and jiggled a little before coming to rest. The training had been one thing, but the reality was far more horrifying.
“Remain calm.” A click, then a different voice, this time female and with a warm Hispanic lilt. “Pick it up and try again, five-one-five-eight-five-three-one-six. No punishment for the accident. The floor is sterile.”
Laurel recovered the plug. The programmer hadn’t recorded instruction for this eventuality. It could be her imagination, but the new voice had a whiff of humanity, assuming the fallibility of fumbling fingers. After pushing both plugs into her ears, she waited until the voice sounded inside her head. It had switched to the implant in her neck.
“Continue with the nose plugs. Hold the spherical end and insert the pointed end into your left nostril. Breathe deeply.”
She held the nose plug, also green but much softer than the earpieces and long, at least three inches. It looked like a fat worm with a bloated ass. When Laurel pushed the tip into her nose, the slimy object slipped from her fingers and rammed deep into her, almost of its own accord. Then it fizzed and expanded, leaving a ball shaped blob resting on her upper lip. She jerked her head back, panic gripping her muscles in an age-old terror. I won’t be able to breathe!
“Remain calm. Repeat with your right nostril.”
Calm. Calm. Calm! Her legs trembled, but she contracted her calves and bunched her toes. Almost over. Almost. With ears and nose plugged, the cold jelly feeling predictably alien, she stood motionless before the empty niche and tried to control her shortening gasps. Her tongue dried to a barky texture, like a piece of beached driftwood.
“Step into the next room.”
Laurel did a quick double take. The wall to her right had vanished and now opened into another room, its center occupied by a sinuous form.
“Lie down on the bed.”
Bed? Like an abstract white sculpture, the form grew seamlessly from the floor—a shape that reminded her of a sofa dreamed by a stoned avant-garde designer: a formless shiny mass dipping in its center. Laurel sat down and swung her legs over. She adjusted her anatomy to the shape, her shaking legs hampering her movements.
“Remain calm.”
For once, the voice made sense.
Gradually, the bed softened. Like an enormous amoeba, the shape absorbed her body. Laurel felt a powerful suction under her buttocks as the sculpture molded to her back and limbs.
She scrunched her eyes, terrified of what she knew would follow. The bed continued to move, adjusting, rearranging, softening and hardening in places, molding to her anatomy, and robbing it of any capacity to move. Her legs flexed at her knees and rose, her body adjusting to a child-delivery position. Then her head started to sink. She opened her eyes and tried to straighten out, but her head seemed caught in a vise.
Her head continued to fall. Now her toes must be pointing to the ceiling, and her head arched back almost to her spine, her throat stretched.
“Remain calm.”
Laurel rotated her eyes frantically. They were the only things she could move besides her gaping mouth, which drew in short gasps. The tips of her nose plugs tickled the back of her throat. Most would scream at this point, definitely, or at least whimper, or empty their bowels.
She detected movement on the fringe of her vision. A thick phallus-shaped green mass neared her face. She saw its tip approach her eyes and pause before the blobs projecting from her nose. This was it: the real thing, the truth. Somewhere deep in her mind, a voice screamed.
“Remain calm.”
Then the hoselike object rammed past her lips and slithered down her throat, sizzling, expanding, digging deep into her.
Then the lights went out, or she passed out, or died, and Laurel didn’t care anymore.

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if it weren’t an actual event.

My 6th grade son has a geography test tomorrow. We’d already studied when his friend came over. I saw an opportunity to study passively as it were by quizzing the friend. So I did.

Are you sitting down? You should be.

[me] So can you name the 7 continents?

[sf] The what?

[me] 7 continents.

[sf] mmm, where?

[me] blank look. Um, earth?

[sf] Oh, um…

[me] North America. South America…

[sf] Asia?

[me] Yes and?

[sf] Blank look.

[me] How many countries are in North America?

[sf] 3

[me] Good job!

[sf] You mean I got it right?

[me]Yes. Can you name them?

[sf] Long pause. Mexico.

[me] Good.

[sf] Canada.

[me] Good.

[sf] long pause

[me] I wait

[sf] blank look

[me] The United States of America

[sf] Jaw drops. Eyes widen. That’s a country?

[me] face palm

 

I’m not trying to pick on son’s friend. Not at all.  I’m a bit worried. These are 6th grade reasonably intelligent boys and this isn’t the only conversation of this kind I’ve had with my son’s friends. Last year, two of his friends didn’t understand that they were Americans and that California was in America. I am very, very afraid.

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Thirteen books I have read in the last two months:

1. Dark Lover by JR Ward

2.Lover Eternal by JR Ward

3.Lover Awakened by JR Ward

4.Lover Revealed by JR Ward

5.Lover Unbound by JR Ward

6.Lover Enshrined by JR Ward

 7.Lover Avenged by (guess who) JR Ward

Do you detect a theme here? What can I say? When I get into a series, I devour it. Some of these are really, really good and, um, hot.

8. Legend Hunter by Jennifer McKenzie (awesome read)

 9. Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts. And this, folks, is the very first Nora Roberts I’ve ever read. It was good… and the first in a trilogy so of course next I read:

10. Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts

11.Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts

 12. On the Prowl by Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance and Sunny. (loved the Briggs… not so much the others)

13.  Northern Lights by Nora Roberts. 

Well, that’s it.  I think there might be one or two more I can’t remember. And of course there are about 50 children’s books that I’ve read to the kids. ; )

Now that I’m at the end of my Black Dagger Brotherhood series, do you have any suggestions what I should read next?

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Other wonderful agent has had my partial for eight weeks. So the question, do I contact them ?

 Oh sure, the question is easy to answer when it’s not you. I’ve even answered it a time or two (Karma is a, well, you know)

 No, there are no lead times on either website.

 Ok, let’s think. Six weeks isn’t that long for a full, really it’s not. Eight weeks for a partial though, that’s stretching it. I should probably send an email.

 But what do I say?

 I don’t want her to think I’m impatient (even though I am) I would be a good client, really, I would. Ok, I’ll just say it: I don’t want to piss her off and in turn have her turn me down.

 And now that I’ve said it, I realize how unprofessional it sounds.

 Argh!

 You know what that means don’t you? I have to craft an ‘excuse me, but have you considered my partial?’ letter. And why, if I got through the 100K manuscript, the dreaded synopsis and the query, would a simple reminder cause me to pause quaking in my boots, ok, slippers? Well, for all the unprofessional reasons above.

 Deep breath.

 It’s okay, I can do this. ; )

 I’ll let you know how it goes.

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October is Breast Awareness month (did they drop the cancer from that on purpose?) So get out there and notice some boobs, people! : )pink

This week I had my first ever mammogram. You know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Ok, so well, I don’t exactly have an over abundant bosom so I asked the technician if it was easier for smaller breasted women. She stared at me for a few seconds before shaking her head and say no, it’s actually harder.

 

Here are 13 reasons why you should feel yourself up or let someone else do it for you!

1. 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in her life.

2. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of female cancer deaths, killing one out of five women who get the disease.

3. Survival. Caught early, breast cancer can be cured

4. Habit. Even though breast cancer is less common with younger women, start now. It will be a habit by the time you’re older.

5. Familiarity. Get to know your breasts now that way you’ll able to spot if there are any changes.

6. Because this can be said enough. Regular breast exams lead to earlier treatment, earlier treatment leads to survival! 96% of women who find and treat breast cancer early will be cancer free after five years.

7. Over eighty percent of breast lumps are not cancerous, but benign such as fibrocystic breast disease

8. A study showed that breast cancer fatalities dropped 44%  from 1978 to 1997 after mammograms were introduced.

9. Kaiser gave me some really cute pink nail polish after my mammogram.

10. The only thing worse than knowing you have breast cancer is not knowing it.

11. There are people who need you.

12. There are people who love you.

13. I told you to. And really, you should listen to me.
 

Read more here.

http://www.sutterhealth.org/about/clinicalinit/ci_breast.html

http://womenshealth.about.com/cs/breastcancer/a/breastcancfacts.htm

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