Tuesday, December 17, 2013

If you have read Blue Moon or Red Sunset and are curious about the characters, here is the first of the "autobiographies"...this one is for Scott O'Doul.

The Story of my Life: Scott O'Doul

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Revisit The King's Tale via the Weekly Wow...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update on my struggle with Breast Cancer

Just a short update about my health.

The last I wrote I was facing chemotherapy, and as of yesterday I have completed four rounds of the heavier chemo (cytoxan and adriamycin). It has not been without its struggles as I experienced an uncommon reaction from the first round (chills and high fevers, and four days where I was barely functional). In a few weeks I start on 12 weeks of lighter chemo (taxol). A few months after that we go back to completing the reconstruction.

Unfortunately the chemo has affected me to the point where I have not been able to return to my day job. I was disabused of the notion that I'd be writing every day, as I have a hard time concentrating long enough.

To fill up time, the other day I read a diary I kept during my junior and senior years in high school. Aside from making me cringe and laugh at myself, I noticed that I did have the writing bug even back then. I mentioned three novels I wanted to write, and I frequently wrote little stories for myself. It was uplifting in a funny way.

I have two projects I'm trying to do to keep myself "out there." First of all, I'm revisiting my novels via a "weekly wow" on my Facebook page. I am posting them here too for anyone who is interested. I'm also planning to write two character journal entries. They will be "where did I come from" sketches for Brad and Scott from Blue Moon/Red Sunset.

Otherwise, I spend my day playing solitaire on my phone, and watching the Food Network.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A new post about my health: Breast Cancer

Whenever I get something major wrong with me, it's never something normal.

When I was in my early twenties, my lung collapsed four times before it was properly diagnosed. When it was, I was told that a spontaneous pneumothorax was a rare thing, and I turned up in the minority. Two major lung surgeries later (both before I turned 25) and I was cured. I had a suspicion I wasn't done with being weird medically though.

Here's a brief rundown of my fight with breast cancer:
  1. February: I had my routine mammogram.
  2. Soon after the center called to request I have it re-done.
  3. March: Re-take of the mammogram and an ultrasound.
  4. The attending radiologist said I should have a biopsy.
  5. Biopsy.
  6. Next came a phone call from my doctor, he said they found pre-cancerous cells. I fell apart.
  7. I met with a surgeon. He reassured me that the lab results from the biopsy showed I had something called an intraductal papilloma. Basically, there was a blockage in one of my milk ducts. Common, and in 95% of the cases it's benign. I breathed a sigh of relief.
  8. May: I had a lumpectomy, which is now classified as a partial mastectomy.
  9. The surgeon reported, when I went for the results, that I had something called encapsulated papillary carcinoma. It's very rare. So rare neither he nor the pathologist had ever seen a case of it. There were surgical margins, which meant there was still some of it left inside my breast. He presented 2 options, either go in for another lumpectomy, or have a full mastectomy. He said I could wait a few weeks, and during that time he'd consult with colleagues.
  10. I went to see an oncologist. The oncologist confirmed the cursory Internet research I'd done, encapsulated papillary carcinoma occurs in .5 to 1% of breast cancer cases. He had also never seen a case of it. He recommended full mastectomy. He also said because it was encapsulated I wouldn't need chemotherapy.
  11. June: I went back to the surgeon. He had spent ten days meeting with colleagues and the chief pathologist at the hospital. The pathologist said he wanted to review both results (from the biopsy and the lumpectomy) because he, the surgeon, and all the colleagues agreed that it seemed implausible that the diagnosis went from something benign to a really rare form of cancer. In the mean time, he said mastectomy was the way to go.
  12. I went to see the plastic surgeon. He gave me the rundown on what to expect for reconstruction.
  13. July: surgery scheduled for the 17th. On the morning of surgery, the surgeon came to see me in pre-op. He said that the pathologist had reviewed everything, and the diagnosis was changed. It was now considered common ductal carcinoma in situ (dcis). It was still a good prognosis though, because in situ means it is contained in the ducts. He expected they'd get all of it out, and that I'd be done.
  14. I stayed in the hospital two nights because the plastic surgeon (the most compassionate doctor I have in this whole nightmare) felt I needed more time to heal.
  15. Two weeks after surgery I went to see the surgeon, and the diagnosis changed again. They did remove an expansive dcis tumor. The surgeon quipped it was a "football field" (7.5 cm. According to a book the oncologist gave me, that's the size of a lime). There were no margins, so this time they did get it all. But...there was also a micro-invasive form of cancer both at the site of the dcis, and also in one of the four lymph nodes they removed. Prior to surgery they injected a radio-active isotope in my breast. During surgery they use a "Geiger counter" type thing to find what they call the sentinel node (the first lymph node in the chain). He removed two lymph nodes, and they were evaluated while the surgery continued. They looked "weird" so he went and got two more. This micro-invasive cancer (the cells were 1 mm in size) was only found in one of the four lymph nodes.
  16. I went back to see the oncologist. He had a hasty phone call with the pathologist right before seeing me (I heard him in the hallway). Bottom line, no matter how weird this is (the pathologist says in the report that it's "unusual to find micro invasive cancer with dcis, and that it raises questions") there was cancer outside of the breast, so the best course of action is an estrogen blocking medication, and chemotherapy. There's a website he used to show the odds, and the best odds for the cancer not coming back is a 6 month round of chemotherapy, and then the estrogen blocking drug for 5 years.
  17. I had a CT scan. Fortunately I finally caught a break in all this trauma, the CT scan was clean, no other cancer was found. This means that the surgery got it all. But, the chemo and the estrogen blockers are to help ensure it doesn't come back. Since I still have my right breast, this is the way to go.
So....my first chemotherapy treatment is September 4th, two days after my birthday. I'm told I will feel terrible for about a week. I'm also told I'll lose my hair. There will be a total of four heavy duty treatments, but the first one is the worst. Once those are done, there will be a weekly treatment, but it supposedly easier to deal with. I met the chemo nurses at the oncologist's office, they say I have a positive attitude, and that's half the battle.

I'm kind of a strange person. I tell people I'm not very curious. In other words, there are a lot of people who have wanted to take me under their wing and tell me exactly what they think will happen to me during chemo. I don't want to know. I want to find out as it happens. It might be different for me. Prime example of this is the tissue expansion process I'm going through. Countless people told me how much it would hurt, and that it's "worse than the surgery." I've found that it's not. Yes, it hurts, but it's not that bad. Believe me, so far nothing I've experienced has been worse than lung surgery...not even giving birth to a ten pound baby naturally!

What I recommend to all women is to get your annual checkup. I've had yearly mammograms since I turned 45. Even though this mass they removed was "the size of a lime"...I didn't feel it. The ob/gyn didn't feel it during my annual check up. I'm going to make it through this nightmare, and I'll be the one in five years saying "I made it."

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A post about my health...

I never planned to go public with this because I thought it would be all over by now, but at each juncture it gets more out of control. So, I've decided to share this crazy story.

In February I had my annual mammogram. A week later they called to tell me I needed to have it redone, and that I had to schedule it for a time when the radiologist was there. Because that would mean taking a day off from work, I opted to do it on the first day of my Spring Break. Also, I had major lung surgery 30 years ago, and I suspected that whatever they were seeing was scar tissue from that surgery as the adhesions have been bothering me more lately. During that second mammogram they also did an ultrasound, and that's when I began to suspect something might really be wrong. They found a mass. Of course it was impossible to tell anything about it from the ultrasound, other than the fact that it didn't look anything like a cyst. They scheduled me for a biopsy the following week.

During the biopsy, usually if the needle is inserted and the mass deflates then it is a cyst, and they take a fluid sample to test. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and in fact I heard the doctor say the word necrotic tissue. This also led me to believe it was left over scar tissue. They took a tissue sample, inserted a marker, and I was done.

Three days later the doctor called to tell me they'd found pre-cancerous cells. I panicked, as you can imagine. The following week I called a surgeon to make an appointment, and through scheduling conflicts and all, the appointment wasn't until the end of April. During that appointment I was informed that it was an intraductal papilloma, and that in 95% of those cases there's no cancer involved. I had to have what sounded like a fairly complicated procedure to remove the tissue, and that was scheduled for mid May.

For that procedure I had to go back to the imaging center, and during a mammogram they inserted a needle in the spot where the marker was left. This was worse than it sounds, being trapped in the mammogram machine for almost 20 minutes! A wire was attached to the marker and pulled through the skin, and I was admonished to move as little as possible on the ride back to the surgery clinic. From that point on it was pretty straight forward. They put me under local anesthesia, and removed the mass. It then had to be sent back to the imaging center to ensure the marker was removed, and I stayed under anesthesia while that happened. I had two days recovery, and on the third day I had the most pain, but I'm pretty much back to normal now.

The pathology reports were ready yesterday, and because we all thought I'd get a clean bill of health, my husband didn't go with me to the appointment. My son took me over, but he wasn't in the room with me when I got the news...I have cancer. It's an encapsulated carcinoma, and apparently it's very rare to have one in the breast. In fact, the surgeon has never seen it before, so he says he needs to meet with his colleagues to discuss it. Even in the lab where they analyzed the results the conferred with one another according to the report. We agreed that we'd either talk with him on the phone, or make another appointment before we decide exactly what to do. There are 2 options, the more radical of which is a full mastectomy.

Just like when I write m/m romance novels, I can't do anything normally. I write a historical romance, and while the history is fairly accurate, the homosexual history is not. Thus, The King's Tale is a hybrid that is either scorned, or loved. My health has always been that way too. When I was in my early twenties, both of my lungs collapsed spontaneously. Fortunately not at the same time, but it was something that was very rare. So now, while the prognosis for this type of cancer I have is good (it says that right on the pathology report, and the doctor said to me, "If you had to get cancer, this is the kind you'd want to get!"), it's still something out of the ordinary. My husband made me cry yesterday when I told him I can't do anything normal, he said "That's why I love you!"

I don't mean to dwell on this, so I won't update about it again until it's hopefully all over. That was the reason why I had kept my silence until now...I was hoping it would be "nothing."

Saturday, May 4, 2013

News on Reviews...

First of all, let me share a terrific five star review for Red Sunset from Top2Bottom Reviews:

And secondly, I was remiss in mentioning that The King's Tale & The King's Heart received a high honor from Two Lips reviews, both are marked as Recommended Reads!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Red Sunset

Red Sunset -- April 17, 2013

Finding love in the wrestling arena is unlikely, and a relationship based on the illusion of control isn't easy. Scott O’Doul and Brad Fraser have managed both: one night under a blue moon's light they found they meant more to each other than either expected. Their comfortable world is shattered when Brad is released, and he must head to Japan if he wants to keep wrestling. The work is exciting but lonely—six weeks seems an eternity. Once Brad and Scott reunite, they vacation at a lakeside cabin and find the miles apart have brought them closer—but they’ll need courage if illusion of control is to become the heart of love. 

Available at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Contractions are a Thing

I'm not sure why people get so up in arms over contractions. It's like they're the new adverbs or something. I've read, in more than one place, people saying they couldn't get into a book because of a lack of contraction usage. Really?

The original place I read it was in a review of Blue Moon. The reviewer didn't like the fact that Scott rarely used contractions.

Oddly enough, along with the fact that nothing ever happens in my books, I really get into character building. I was building Scott's character with his lack of contractions. I don't want to give too much away about Red Sunset, but Scott is beginning to unbend, and now he's starting to use contractions. Maybe after Red Sunset comes out I'll write another post about that.

The latest knock on contractions came in a generic post about medieval romances. The person didn't mention which medieval books they read, but since I've written two myself my hackles went up. I got the impression that the medieval speech was too difficult to read due to the lack of contractions. Great. As if my semi-accurate speech patterns weren't enough, now there are droves of readers who balk at the lack of contractions.

I will not apologize for the lack of contractions in either my medieval or contemporary works. I have my reasons for not using them (character building in the contemporary works, and semi-accurate language in the medieval works). It's just one more thing to add to the list of "why I'll never read your stuff Rowena Sudbury!"

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nothing ever happens...

The writing isn't bad but the story is dull and the characters aren't fleshed out. When I read, I want to get wrapped up in the book and feel something but all I felt with this one was boredom. There are no emotional highs or lows and no excitement.

Don't get me wrong, this 2 star Amazon review for Blue Moon doesn't really irk me all that much. It's the person's opinion, nothing more. Granted, I read it and think...no highs? no lows? Whu....? Are you sure you were reading my book? But, whatever, I'm sure the knock was what the entry title suggests...nothing happened.

In my books...nothing happens. They're love stories. My sole purpose in writing them is to study the human condition as it pertains to how love works on the emotions. There's no action. My characters aren't spies, or vampires, or shape-shifters. They don't do anything except exist in their worlds. They are kings, woodsmen....wrestlers! They live mundane little lives, but they burn with passion and have all the emotions that fill people who are in love.

I can't get mad at people who read my books and are disappointed with the fact that nothing happens, and believe me, this is not the first time I've been accused of being "boring." Reading should be an escape after all. For me the escape is diving into someone else's normal world and going through all their ups and downs as they revolve around love. I'm fascinated by that, so I write that. I can see where that doesn't work for other people. It's kind of a shame when they feel the need to give low ratings for my work...as the above reviewer notes, the writing isn't bad. But...it happens, and I've grown accustomed to it.

Twelve days into the new year, and I've still yet to write anything. Still trying to get my mind out of the whirlwind of things that have happened over the last few months, and I'm sure within a week, or two (or several) I'll be back at work on the next boring little book. I can't wait!