Friday, January 25, 2008

She's Becoming an Expert on Employment Law

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, has worked for small companies most of her career. She's an editor and a writer, and the employers have usually been smaller groups with a modest complement of staffers who perform myriad tasks. This has allowed her to learn the ins and outs of all kinds of aspects of business. Today, she's brushing up on worker's compensation law, but she's pleased to say it has nothing to do with her employer.

A friend called from where he works to say he was buying a bag of ice. Strange, she thought, considering he works at a mechanic's shop where ice is not a big seller. He went on to explain that he was in pain because he'd just fallen off a 15-foot ladder. She asked why he wasn't calling her from an emergency room.

Turns out his employer, the owner of said mechanic's shop, didn't feel the need to let him off work when they were so busy there. Can you imagine? In the society I come from, such a thing is unheard of. In this society, Sandy thinks such a thing is illegal. The fellow had climbed on the ladder, at the employer's direction, to put away an item in a storage area that has no stairs or any other point of access beyond the extension ladder. The ladder slid on some grease on the floor, and the worker fell, injuring his foot and knee in the process.

Now, if the employer doesn't allow the worker to go to the doctor's office to check out his injuries, isn't that bad? We're all wondering if the employer is operating without worker's compensation insurance coverage, which would be odd for a mechanic's shop, don't you think? Aren't those places prone to accidents? Any employment law experts checking in today?

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

She's Staying Busy Not Writing This Weekend

I'm agitated with my fantasy author. Sandy Lender spent the day yesterday working. She's working again today. The problem is she's not working on the Choices Meant for Gods trilogy that I've been giving her ideas for. You know, there is editing work to be done...

No, she's running to get her hair cut or to deposit her paycheck or to the grocery store or to Wal-mart. She's editing this obnoxious young adult book that she's been plodding her way through since it arrived on her desk at Thanksgiving. She's sworn me to secrecy on the name of it because she refuses to give bad press to a fellow author who has obviously spent time and energy on a book that he or she loves...but she's having a terrible time following the limitations the publishing house has placed on edits. Anyway, she's finishing that this weekend. She's also run out to the club to exercise this weekend. And she's prepared meals, which was a surprise. She spent nearly an hour on the phone with her sister yesterday. I'm just sitting back in awe at the list of things that have taken precendence over working on MY project, and the things that will take precedence over it again today. You should see this list!

I'm feeling neglected and unloved. (awww...she brought me cake...)

How do you get an author's attention back on editing?

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

She'll Accept Her $800 Tax Rebate

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, has reason to desire financial stability. She's asked me not to go into detail because it bores people (and gets her riled up... ) and really is better resolved in divorce court, foreclosure proceedings, and bankruptcy court. (2008 is going to be a rough year. )

Anyway. She's excited by the prospect of receiving an $800 tax rebate through President Bush's short-term economic-stimulus plan. She heard rumblings and rumors about it and, true to form, came home to do some research on the Internet. What she found got her riled up... It appears there are people moaning and complaining about getting free money because they think it has a second purpose of placating them during an election year. There are other people complaining because people on Social Security (and being from another society, I'm not entirely sure what that is, and Sandy tells me I'll never know because by the time she's old enough to collect the money she's socked into it throughout her career, there'll be nothing for her to collect) and people who haven't paid taxes won't receive a tax rebate with the current language of the proposal.

Now, if you ask me, it sounds as if a "rebate" is supposed to be a "repayment" or a "return" of money. So if you didn't pay money into a system, why should money be given back to you? It sounds to me as if the short-term economic stimulus plan merely needs another arm added to it through which monies can be distributed to those on Social Security and those who are seeking employment. If the point is to help the average person afford gas for his car and feed for his livestock and (what? most don't? really? ) -- Let me start again. If the point is to help the average person afford gas for his car and clothes for his children (or grandchildren) to wear to school, then adapting the plan to include additional people sounds wise.

In the meantime, why are people begrudging those who are in line to receive a break? From what I understand, there are various groups within this society who receive special considerations for employment because some employers must maintain quotas. Elderly people within this society receive special discounts on certain days of the week at some pharmacies, department stores, and restaurants because they're elderly. Schools grant some children permission to have additional time to prepare homework assignments in study halls instead of participating in certain classes due to religious differences. All of these things, and other examples you could come up with, are societal ideas that no one should begrudge these group members. Now when taxpayers, who work 40+ hours a week just to see a third to half of their paychecks taken by federal and state taxes, FICA, health insurance that employers no longer feel obligated to cover as a benefit of employment, etc., get a break, why are people complaining?

I say sit back and accept the gift. And if you're not one of the taxpayers, suggest to your local elected officials a way to be a part of the economic stimulus plan. Maybe they can do something locally, regionally, or even nationally to get money in every citizen's pocket.

And then some Democrat can stand up and complain about how much more expensive the plan is when you include everyone that way.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

She Researched Keeping Resolutions

(My fantasy author posted a version of this article at Today the Dragon Wins yesterday. I'm posting it here today to give more readers the opportunity to get value from it.)

You Can Do It: Keep Your 2008 Resolutions on Track
By Sandy Lender

Mid-January seemed an appropriate time to assess the progress of New Year's resolutions. Adhering to a new exercise regimen to attain a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a new budget to save up for a vacation, or sticking to a regular writing schedule to realize your publishing dreams, etc., can all be doomed if you give in to the rest of society's penchant for instant gratification. Like the three-toed box turtle in the smoking-cessation ads, slow and steady toward an achievable goal wins the day.

Experts at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) suggest a variety of exercises for staying on course with New Year's resolutions and personal goals, but the best was "make a plan and write it down."

For those of you familiar with The Secret, you can probably see an element of visualization in this method. By writing down your goal and the steps you need to take to realize that goal, you set yourself up for success. Getting derailed, which University of Maryland Medical Center researchers warn happens within the first few weeks of "good intentions," is more difficult if you can spell out your plan of action.

What I like to do is a tried and true practice from a job-hunting resource. I take a large sheet of paper and write my goal in the center with an action verb. For instance, about four months before I moved from Missouri to Florida, I wrote "move to Florida" in the center of a huge sheet of drawing paper. Then I began to randomly write down steps I needed to take to make that move a reality, without worrying about what order to write them in. At that stage in the planning, there's no point in limiting yourself with editing. I wrote down things such as "find new job," "give notice at work," "sell house," "replace carpet," "hire moving van," "find apartment," etc. Once all the thoughts were down on paper, I could organize them into categories and a logical order. That same process can take place with any personal goal. Once you're finished, your goal is that much easier to visualize and attain.

Another aspect to planning the success of your resolution is making it realistic. When I wished to get my fantasy novel published, my only bylines were in trade publications and association newsletters. I had no hope. So my resolution back in 2004 couldn't be, "I'll get Choices Meant for Gods published with TOR this year." My goal had to be more realistic. A researcher at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Jill RachBeisel, M.D. and director of community psychiatry, advises that the trick to keeping resolutions is to keep everything "in perspective. Focus on realistic goals with measurable results. You need to break things down into small steps that you can manage."

When I finished writing Choices Meant for Gods, I'd taken the first step toward the goal. Contacting agents to represent me in the publishing industry was the logical second step. Setting an appointment to meet with a small- to mid-size publisher in Florida was the logical (and best) third step. Getting a contract with that publisher was the fourth step, and so on. I didn't limit myself to going after a large publishing house within a certain set number of months.

This exemplifies what researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center advise people do when setting their New Year's resolutions: "Don't make absolute resolutions. Keep them realistic."

That also means keeping them flexible. If your goal is to finish a research-based novel by the end of NaNo this Nov. 30, and you've performed the mapping and visualizing exercise above, you probably have to start looking up information prior to Nov. 1. Visits to sites associated with your text, Internet research, interviews with primary sources, etc., all take time that you want to build into your goal. If some aspect of your research isn't complete by a certain date, don't let that sabotage your entire project. Your resolution doesn't have to fail because one aspect has fallen through or because you miss a week of preparatory writing, etc.

APA lists "forgiving yourself" as one of the important aspects of success. A small setback is just that: small. With an achievable, realistic goal that you've taken the time to map out and visualize, it's just a matter of time before you're back on track. By maintaining a steady pace and watching yourself take each step toward your goal, your chances of meeting your resolution increase each day.

(Additional information for succeeding with your New Year's resolutions can be found at The American Academy of Pediatrics offers suggestions for resolutions for preschoolers through teens at

Sidenote: During my research, I found that the top resolutions people make are to be healthy, lose weight or exercise more; to quit smoking and/or drinking; to save money, get a better job or make more money; to manage or reduce stress; or to spend more time with family. At, researchers broke it down by percentages. They surveyed 10,883 people and found their top resolution, at 32.6 percent, was to lose weight and get fit. I didn’t weigh in, but my category of "I didn't make a New Year's resolution" came in with 21.6 percent of the votes, which I thought was high. (Interestingly, 3.2 percent of their respondents want to write a book.)

Sandy Lender is a magazine editor living in sunny Southwest Florida and a fantasy author. Her first novel, Choices Meant for Gods is available from ArcheBooks Publishing or on

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

She Has a Contest at The Dragon

Visitors over at Today the Dragon Wins can win a copy of the epic fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods if you comment on one of my guest blogs where I wax poetic about my lovely bride-to-be, Amanda Chariss. Yes, my fantasy author, Sandy Lender, has given me permission to rant and rave about how amazing and glorious and beautiful and incredible Amanda is. (Middle what? Oh, yes, sorry about that - the only caveat is she insists that I use Amanda's middle name as everyone else does.) So about once a week between now and Valentine's Day, you can read a guest post by me at, leave a comment in the comment field, and be entered in the contest to win your own first-edition, hard-cover, autographed copy of the epic fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods, in which you'll meet the amazing fantasy heroine Chariss. (And she is absolutely stunning with her lavender eyes and her quick wit and her excellent sword skills and her ability to steal her way into your heart without you even realizing it's happened...)

If you doubt my word on it, you can read reviews of Choices Meant for Gods at where people confirm my assertions. (What? I'm an educator, I'm supposed to speak as if I'm educated. Trust me and let me just type this.)

So stop by when you have a chance and seek out my first guest blog post (I did it Monday) to get your first entry in. You can enter every day if you like...

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Monday, January 14, 2008

She Has to Trade the Car In

My fantasy author found a spider egg sack.
In the car.
Now, because she's just absolutely insane when it comes to this spider business, I can't laugh at this (much), but when she touched it (because she thought it might be a worm of some sort...and I don't understand that...), it moved and tiny baby spiders erupted from it. She let out a sound that I don't ever want to hear again.

Needless to say, the car will smell like Raid for a month.

She is actually considering trading in the car. I don't see how she can afford to do this with the foreclosure taking place, but she's persistent, you know. Oh, and she's also fussy. She's informed me that I can't talk about spiders anymore. We'll have a new topic tomorrow. (And, really, she has so many neuroses to choose from...)


Sunday, January 13, 2008

She Had Another Spider-in-the-Car Incident

I probably shouldn't make fun of her this way, but my fantasy author just stepped away from the writing den, which means I have full command of the computer and keyboard. She can't stop me. Yesterday, Sandy Lender had another one of those spider encounters that raises her blood pressure. The creature's gut-smear is still on the driver's side window...

Let me set the scene for you so you can appreciate this as much as the witness did. Oh, yes, there was a witness to the whole thing this time. She had just checked the mail (which became the weapon that created "the smear") and returned to the driver's seat. She closed the door, drove about twenty feet, let out this ear-piercing shriek, threw the car into "park", flung the door open, and swatted the spider (which was moving at a pretty good clip) mere inches from her head.

For those of you who know Sandy, you might think she was brave in killing the spider (about an inch long, including bent legs, she said afterward). But I think she killed it for lack of any other recourse. Think about it. She couldn't get out of the car because she'd have to get past the spider. (I think we can all agree that wasn't happening.) And she couldn't climb over the gear-shift and the passenger seat to exit the car that way (which she's done in the blink of an eye once before when escaping a spider) because a friend was sitting in the passenger seat.

So she looked brave (except for the scream that frightened her friend into thinking she'd just run over a child) for a moment, but she's nervous every time she gets into the car now. This is the third spider-in-the-car incident in a year. She's considering trading the car in...

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She Congratulates Loretta Wilson

If you check out yesterday's post at Today the Dragon Wins, you'll see all the details, because I'm not typing all that here (sorry, dear, but it was complex). My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, announced the winner of the December Choices Meant for Gods contest at I would like to congratulate Loretta Wilson on a job well done!

For those of you who entered the contest but weren't drawn from the Duran Duran tour cap (yes, Sandy's graduated from the kitchen mixing bowl she used to use for drawings), you can pick up a copy of CMFG at with free shipping, or you can enter the new contest that I'm participating in. The contest details will be announced shortly at Good luck to you all!

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

She's Digging

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, had this contest running over at her main blog,, in which you could win a copy of her epic fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods. She's going to start another up shortly, but first she has to actually CONTACT the winner to figure out if she can actually get the book and bookbag to this person. As you visitors are probably aware, most e-mail addresses are set on "block" or somehow set so the blogsite administrator cannot reply/respond privately to comments that are left on posts. So she's digging.

It'll be just a while.

In the meantime, I'm just posting this little update to let you know she's a few days closer to insanity. The spiral downward is amusing to watch at times, but also sad. I'm hoping one of the unfinished horrible things in her life ends soon so she can set aside the stress of something and refocus her energies on writing. I think she should start suing people (soon-to-be-ex-husband who can't comply with things the court orders and misses deadlines and extensions, bank attorneys who don't respond for weeks at a time, an independent health insurance agent for State Farm who proposed she commit fraud so he could earn his commission while she sits here without health insurance, etc.) for stress, mental anguish, and inability to earn royalties from marketing because she can't focus on marketing. (See, I'm picking up on this stuff in your society. Slowly but surely...)

In good news, she's happy with her job and her bird is thrilled to sit three feet from her desk all day. Luckily, there's a door between her and the bird so she can close it when he squawks at people on the phone (which is frequently). And this is the life of a writer!

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