Saturday, June 28, 2008

She Took Pictures of the Ghost Crabs for You All

I was surprised she got out of bed today. After yesterday's yucky procedure, my fantasy author, Sandy Lender, was quite full of pain medication and "droopy" last night. But she got out to the beach for sea turtle patrol this morning and got these pictures for everyone to see. These are the ghost crabs she wishes to skewer (in fact, she said that to the first one she saw, hence we have a picture of its backside as it is up fleeing).

She informs me the first one here is a relatively small crab, as if I didn't grow up next to an ocean in my world.

The second one, sitting in some man's sandal footprint is a bit bigger. At first, she thought it might be dead because it didn't move as she approached it. But when she moved to place her own sandal next to it for "scope", it jumped up and scurried into the surf. It certainly looked bigger standing...but not as dead.

And you all have seen pictures of the ghost crab burrows in past posts. Sandy goes around filling those in around the turtle nests to annoy the crabs and encourage them to find better places to take up residence.

On a bizarre note, she passed a bird that had nested in the middle of the beach so she called that in. She didn't get a good picture of it because the bird became quite agitated (understandably) when she walked by. (What's that?) Oh, yes, Sandy says the bird ruffled up in bird language for "There's nothing to see here; just keep moving along." She's convinced it was a Bonaparte's Gull, which has a stable population. (Seems they'd be a bit less stable if they keep laying their eggs out in the middle of the beach like that.)

That's all for a writer's life for today. I think she's about to nap...

Friday, June 27, 2008

She Invited Anna to Interview Today

Today my fantasy author, Sandy Lender, invited Jamieson Wolf's Anna to the blog. It gave me an opportunity to meet this lovely young lady and learn more about her as a character, and about the novella Valentine by Paranormal Romance Author Jamieson Wolf. Here's the result:

Nigel Taiman: Good morning and welcome to the blog. Today I get to interview the lovely Anna from Jamieson Wolf's latest novella Valentine. Anna joins us with Mr. Wolf's permission. Welcome, Anna.

Anna: It is very nice to be here, Nigel. Thank you very much for having me.

Nigel Taiman: First, could you tell our visitors your profession?

Anna: I am a Priestess and I perform rights for the God Lespercus.

Nigel Taiman: For my edification, as I'm sure our visitors already know this, what does a priestess do?

Anna: Well, a Priest and Priestess will perform rights and rituals for their Gods. Valentine and I worship the God Lespercus; it is he who gives us our power. We use our magic to conduct hand fastings, oversee births and provide healing for the people.

Nigel Taiman: It sounds dangerous to me. Doesn't the emperor of your society frown upon just about everything you and your priest, Valentine, do? Does the emperor actually disagree with your very religion?

Anna: Well, essentially, yes. We follow a Pagan path while the Emperor Claudius worships Christ. He has put a decree out across the land forbidding us to marry couples; he wishes everyone to convert to his chosen religion. It is a sad time for Rome.

Nigel Taiman: Why, then, do you risk your lives?

Anna: Because we have to. Lespercus gave us our power to use and how can we not? He gave us our magic to better the lives of his people and that is what we do. Though we face death, exile or torture, we have to follow our hearts and do what is right.

Nigel Taiman: That's got to be one of the bravest things I've heard in a long time. Now, changing subjects just a bit, it seems that you're quite devoted to this priest, Valentine, and, from what bits I got to read of the novella, you're also enamoured with him. Is that tru…are you blushing, my dear? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you blush. Is it true that you've admired him for some time?

Anna: Oh, yes. Yes, I have always loved him. When I looked into his eyes, it was the first time I knew what love was or what it could be. But Valentine was always meant for someone else, not for me. That is the way it has always been.

Nigel Taiman: I see. So his love interests lie in other fields. And you admire him yet? For his ideals?

Anna: Yes, I admire him. Though he loves me like a sister and not a lover, he is one of the most wonderful caring men I have ever met. He sacrifices himself for his people so that they can have the life they so richly deserve. Have you ever heard of anything more admirable?

Nigel Taiman: I must say, you remind me of a certain bride I wish to marry. She's opinionated and loyal like you. Well, Anna, do you have any aspirations of taking on adventures of your own? You've helped the priest Valentine in this story; will you convince your author to put you in a story of your own? Do you have any ideas for a story of your own?

Anna: Well, I know he’s thinking of it. He’s going to start a sequel to Valentine soon called Valentine’s Promise. I know that I’m going to be in that book. But I would love a book of my own; could you imagine the wonder of it? I think that story will be called Anna’s Wish.

Nigel Taiman: Well, with these authors, you just have to plant the idea when they're groggy. I find that waking them slightly around 3:30 in the morning is the best tactic. Just plant the seed of an idea at first.

Anna: Exactly. It will happen if I’m patient enough. I wonder where my story will take me though? Only time will tell.

Nigel Taiman: It's certainly been a pleasure conspiring with you today. And I wish you all the best. Do you know how folks can get their hands on the novella Valentine? It's all right if you don't; Sandy can pop in here and post it for us. But if you know it, just spell it out here and we'll have the link for everyone.

Anna: Oh, I do know where they can find a copy of it. It’s from somewhere called Cobblestone Press, it’s a…what do they call it? A web site? What a new fangled thing, I don’t understand it. But Jamieson says that readers can read an excerpt and purchase a copy of Valentine here:

Nigel Taiman: Thank you, dear. Now, I'll let you get back to suggesting ideas to Mr. Wolf.

Anna: You’re quite welcome, Nigel. It’s been so much fun talking to you, I feel like a celebrity! Enjoy the book everyone!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

She Stopped Me From Stabbing a Guy at the Hospital

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, had an appointment this morning to prepare for tomorrow's procedure. She let me tag along because I made such a fuss about being left in the dark on the last procedure. At one point, an elderly gentleman with his wife were in the same waiting room with her. Sandy got sent to another area to have blood drawn, and when she came back, a nurse took her and the elderly couple to radiology.

On the way, the nurse stopped to make sure the lady had a bracelet for identification purposes, so Sandy made small-talk with the gentleman. On they went. When the couple was led out of the radiology waiting room, the gentleman wished her luck and said something else I couldn't hear (I admit that I was distracted by this beeping metal box on a rolling stand), but I snapped to attention when the couple left and Sandy started weeping.

Let me tell you, I pulled out the sword in an instant and went off after the guy, but she stopped me. Turns out he said something very lovely and she was just being weepy, which she stopped quickly enough because the nurse came to fetch her next.

I swear, these authors surprise you at times. But that's a writer's life for you. You talk about sticking them in the chest with large needles and you don't know how they'll respond. By the end of the consultation, I looked at her and said, "Are you seriously going to let them do this to you?"

She seems okay with it. Now, I obviously have to attend to her tomorrow because this whole stabbing-in-the-chest-with-a-needle procedure happens tomorrow, but I'll post an interview with a lovely young lady named Anna before we head out. You all may be familiar with the author Jamieson Wolf, whom Sandy has interviewed over at The Dragon today. Well, Anna is one of Mr. Wolf's characters. It'll be a wonderful read for you all.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

She's Asking About Tortoise Substrates

I appeared because I get the computer for a bit while my fantasy author, Sandy Lender, gets ready for her doctor appointment. Lo and behold, she's in tears. A complete wreck.

Imagine my distress. At first, I thought maybe she'd killed off a character in the Choices trilogy because I've seen what that does to her. It's not pretty.

No, something horrible happened here in the apartment. One of the pancake tortoises died. Blueberry. (Yes, his name was Blueberry.) She had just come in from burying him amid the violets she'd planted the other weekend when I arrived so she was still weepy. Poor dear little tortoise. He'd always had a very soft plastron so she believes she'd done a poor job of measuring out his calcium powder on his food, etc. I don't believe there's any point in her putting on eye makeup to go to her doctor appointment... She's quite a mess right now.

Her question, for anyone knowledgeable about pancake tortoises, is what type of substrate do you use in your tortoise's habitat? She's raised Buttermilk (that's the other pancake tortoise) for about 10 years on a reptile mulch sold in regular commercial pet stores. She once tried the calcium-enriched sand-like substrate sold in specialty pet stores/reptile pet stores, but fear of compaction and not being able to monitor calcium intake should the tortoises ingest the substrate became an issue. (I never thought I'd get an education on turtle and tortoise husbandry by helping her with fantasy book marketing and promotion.)

If anyone out there has tortoise substrate suggestions, especially for pancake tortoises, Sandy would be thrilled to hear them.

All my best,
Nigel Taiman
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Friday, June 20, 2008

She Just Noticed the Oncologist's E-mail

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, has carried a certain business card around in her purse for two weeks now. Just a few minutes ago, she relinquished the computer to me so I could drum up more professional reviews for the upcoming release of Choices Meant for Kings and so she could prepare to go out "into the world", and she began emptying her purse. (Don't ask. It's like a ritual.) She pulled the Florida Cancer Specialists card out of her purse and said, "I doubt I need to cart this around."

The way she abruptly stopped and then laughed maniacally made me wonder just what it was she had been "carting around." Turns out she has her doctor's business card and it has her doctor's e-mail address. Because it would be inappropriate to broadcast the whole thing to the universe (and I know I'm flattering myself by thinking the entire universe reads this blog), I'll just give you the important part.

reuben sandwich

The man treating my fantasy author for lymphoma has an e-mail address of reuben sandwich. What confidence this instills in me. (Oh, and it doesn't give YOU pause?)

She's fine with it. Says it proves he has a good outlook. Personally, I have to wonder.

Everyone have a lovely evening. I just might be sending some mail to reubensandwich after she goes out "into the world" this evening.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

She's Hosting Pseudonym Bloggers at Today the Dragon Wins

That title makes no sense at first.

Here's what it's supposed to mean. My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, is hosting a variety of authors at her main blog, Today the Dragon Wins, throughout the month of June, to talk about their use of (or non-use of) pen names for writing. Today's guest is Lisa Haselton, whose name you might recognize because I mentioned her several days ago. She's a book reviewer and author interviewer who recently read Sandy's upcoming novel Choices Meant for Kings. You can read the review here.

Today, Lisa discusses her need to use a pseudonym for her fiction writing because a celebrity already had her name on bookshelves. Pity. I think Lisa should have gone in with sword drawn to demand her place right beside...wait...Sandy's censoring me.


If you'd like to read what other authors have contributed to the pseudonym discussion, the posts are archived at Today the Dragon Wins throughout the month of June. If you participate in the comments, you are automatically entered in a contest to win an electronic version of Sandy's epic fantasy Choices Meant for Gods and Raven Bower's paranormal thriller Apparitions. (Really? Raven? That's fantastic! When did you post Raven's story?) Everyone should read the article on Friday, June 13 (oh, how appropriate!) as well as Lisa's story today.

All my best,
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Monday, June 16, 2008

She Hasn't Repressed This One, Careless Memory #11

A Glimpse into a Writer's Life
When my fantasy author, Sandy Lender, had graduated from high school, she started dating a lad named Matt. (That's it? You don't remember his last name?) She doesn't remember his last name at this time and doesn't have a yearbook (whatever that is) on hand to look it up. Matt was a funny guy who could draw cartoons very well and made her laugh.

Anyway, one afternoon, Sandy and Matt were sitting in the living room floor watching some movie in her parents' house when her father returned from a hunting trip. With his shotgun in hand.

Sandy thought nothing of this because her dad had been a hunter for as long as she could remember. Matt, on the other hand, freaked out. Sandy didn't notice, but heard stories from several of Matt's friends later.

Now, Sandy's dad is an intimidating man without a gun in his hand, but saw this as a perfect opportunity to put a little fear o' God into the lad dating his daughter. He proceeded to sit down and clean said gun in front of them. (This, too, was in the stories Matt told his friends, and which his friends recounted to Sandy.)

It's sometimes difficult to tell when her father is serious and when he's in jest. One evening when Sandy had endured several hours of divorce mediation stupidity, Sandy informed her parents that the day had "not gone well." She wasn't allowed to give particulars, but they were as disappointed as she was that the mediation hadn't resolved what it was supposed to resolve. Her father's response was, "You tell (insert name here) that your dad is looking for him." Now, coming from that man, that's just unsettling. I'd like to go with him if he starts hunting.

But to finish our current non-repressed memory, Sandy ended up breaking up with poor Matt for a variety of "space" issues, she says. The poor guy thought they should be in love and married and having a family. Sandy thought she should be going to college and getting a degree and looking for someone reliable and mature. She succeeded with the college and degree part…

Maybe Amanda and I will help her find the rest when she's ready.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

She's Eternally Grateful for the Suggestion to Wear Pants

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, returned from the hospital groggy, woozy, and unable to reason for herself. She blames the medication. At some point in the late afternoon, while sleeping in a drug-induced haze, she mumbled to me, "was that the doorbell?"

Now, I didn't want her climbing out of bed to answer the door, and I am unable to speak to other humans in this realm (she likens it to Big Bird's Snuffelupagus, which I have probably spelled incorrectly, and of which I have no working knowledge), so I just said, "no." She plunged back into R.E.M. sleep.

A few hours later, she awoke a bit more "alert" and, before scarfing more pain pills, announced, "I should see if someone left a package at the door."

I asked if she was expecting a package. Apparently, there's an Amazon order on the way and she's keen to get it. So I helped her get out of bed and suggested she put on pants. "Why?" My response was something along the lines of "you don't want to collapse in the open doorway in your skivvies and be found that way by a friend coming to check on you in the morning, do you?"

So she slid on the sweat pants she'd worn earlier and we meandered out to the front door, where, lo and behold, there was not only a package from Amazon, but well-meaning neighbors gathered around waiting for an appearance.

So she's eternally grateful for the suggestion to wear pants.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She's Hungry

Welcome to Post 200 here at the blog about my fantasy author, Sandy Lender. You'll be surprised to hear that she's starving herself this morning. No food. Or water. When she brushed her teeth, she couldn't even drink the water afterward.

Next strange twist, she's going to the hospital in sweat pants and a sleeveless tank top under her shirt instead of ... ah ... well ... I feel a little uncomfortable delving into that about my dear girl, but, suffice it to say, she's behaving abnormally this morning and I just KNOW it involves the lymphoma in her chest. She's being awfully vague with me, and whenever she's vague with me, I know something's up.

A friend arrived just a short while ago to whisk her away to the hospital. Do people usually go in pairs? She keeps telling me "See, Patrick Swayze is beating the odds with pancreatic cancer, and that's something serious, daunting, and horrific. He's filming a new series for TV. He's taking on the world and winning. All I have is Hodgkin's, which is going to be cured up in a couple months, hands down. No problems."

I guess if Patrick Swayze's doctors can perform extreme miracles, to the point that he can film The Beast, and all my author requires is normal procedures, I should be calm, but I don't like it when she's vague.

So here I sit for the morning, wondering what I'm missing at the hospital.

In the meantime, I writing down some excellent ideas for her re-write of Book III in the Choices trilogy. She's been trying to come up with a name for it.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Choices Meant for Kings Gets First Official Review

You can read the first official review for Choices Meant for Kings at Lisa Haselton's review and interview site here. My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, is thrilled. She wishes to extend her appreciation to Ms. Haselton for her time and for her positive comments.

When CMFK is available later this summer, we'll announce it all over the blogosphere. In the meantime, if you need a copy of the first novel in the Choices fantasy trilogy, Choices Meant for Gods is available at the publisher's site as either a hardcover edition or eBook (the eBook is only $3.99 so we're recommending that, of course), or at Amazon or anywhere fine books are sold.

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She's Learned a Lesson About Liquid Plant Food

When purchasing Miracle-Gro All Purpose Liquid Plant Food, do not assume that it comes in a sealed and leak-proof container. Also, do not assume that the plastic bag the cashier put it in because you didn't take enough cloth bags to the store will be leak-proof either. When setting the plastic bag containing the liquid plant food container down in your home, you should consider setting it somewhere other than your stovetop.

Do I need to continue? Do all you visitors have a clear picture now of what my fantasy author did yesterday? Can you visualize the greenish liquid mess she mopped up off the stove?

The good news is she has these white and ivy burner covers (she called them burner covers...I have no idea how to work the stoves in your society so I'm just going with what she called them) so the liquid didn't go down into the stove, but, just the same, she let out this strange gurgling sound that made me assume we had lizards in the house (see post below).

The plant food bottle will be stored upright under the sink from now on.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

She Was So Excited She Could Hardly Breathe

No, it wasn't another "brush with Duran Duran." This morning while on sea turtle patrol, my fantasy author, Sandy Lender, found three sea turtle crawls in her zones. She was ecstatic. Now, one of the crawls looked as if the turtle was just up on the beach checking things out, perhaps getting frustrated by a particularly difficult dune where digging activity was evident. At that crawl, the turtle did quite a bit of crawling around on the sand, as if she'd been disturbed by something.

Sandy felt sorry for her. As she puts it, "Dragging your body around the beach can't be easy when you're a turtle full of eggs."

Anyway, I'll post some pictures here. The one with "holes" that look like eyes is a nest with obvious ghost crab activity. Sandy was miffed (and concerned) to see ghost crabs were already messing around her turtle nest. You can see by the first picture that the crab has a sizeable entry and exit chamber. In the second picture, you see the shells Sandy has poked in the holes to aggravate the crab if it should be continuing to use the burrow. This is the practice the members of Turtle Time use to discourage the crabs from sticking around. (Oh, Sandy informs me she'd rather skewer the blasted little beasts, but that's not fair to the crabs who are just doing what crabs do.) Instead, the volunteers put shells, sticks and sand down the holes to irritate the crabs into moving elsewhere.
I was moderately concerned for her throughout the process because she gets winded easily these days. Because this is the "writer's life" blog I'm allowed to announce that she's got an obnoxious battle to fight over the next couple of months. She's been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease and all the enlarged lymph nodes and whatnot are in her chest around her breathing tube, so when she gets all excited about sea turtle nests, she starts coughing and wheezing as if I need to cart her away on some sort of stretcher. Combine that with the "oh my God, the stupid ghost crabs have been here already!" and getting her to breathe became my focus. You know, there are books to finish...I can't have her collapsing on the sand somewhere waiting for the tide to carry her out.

She's happily planting flowers now. The dead plant that she couldn't bring back to life finally irritated her enough that she had to replace it. So she went all out and put violets in the planter box in front of the lanai. This is something her landlord should be responsible for, but...we won't get into all that. But here's the odd thing she's done so far. She left the lanai door open so going back and forth with potting soil and plants would be easier. Of course, a lizard darted in. This sort of thing worries her because lizards that get trapped on the lanai usually starve to death. So she cornered the lizard, grabbed it without causing it to drop its tail, and took it back outside to release it. While she had it in her hands, it, naturally, opened its mouth and grabbed her thumb. Small lizard=no pain. But when she placed it on a tree outside, it didn't let go. In fact, it clamped down harder on her thumb. And there she stood. Next to a tree. With a lizard hanging from her thumb. For at least a solid minute.

The end of the story is she convinced the lizard to grab onto the tree instead and she finished planting all the flowers (they look lovely, by the way; Kora would be pleased with the scene) in the planter box. I'll go inspect the rest of what she's doing...

All my best,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

She Announces Choices Meant for Kings has its ISBNs

My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, is pleased to announce that the second book in the Choices fantasy trilogy, Choices Meant for Kings, now has its ISBNs.

Hardcover (10): 1-59507-219-5
Hardcover (13): 978-159507-219-1
eBook: 1-59507-220-9

If you wish to read the first novel, Choices Meant for Gods, before the second book comes out, you can pick it up at Amazon or anywhere fine books are sold. The eBook version is available for only $3.99 at the publisher's site.

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She's Watching the Mail for Returning ARCs

Prior to the release of novels, authors typically send out advance reader copies (ARCs) for marketing blurbs to put on the cover jacket and for professional review. My fantasy author, Sandy Lender, has been engaged in this practice for a couple weeks now, seeking out professional reviewers who a) read fantasy and b) will accept ARCs. It's surprising the fine line of time during which reviewers will accept a work for review. They want the book to be a published work, but they want it on their reading schedule while the book is "new". Considering the backlog some of these reviewers have, this means they should never read a "new" book. Be that as it may, she's having some success getting ARCs for Choices Meant for Kings out the door.

When the post office doesn't thwart her.

Here's why she's grumbling. She took one of these advance reader copies, beautifully spiral bound (which she spent a pretty penny to do, by the way), and mailed it from the post office to a reviewer in Canada who is anxiously awaiting its arrival. A day later, the package was returned. It needed a customs form. Considering Sandy had taken it to the post office for mailing, it seemed odd to her that the post office was returning it for something they should have "noticed" when she said, "this one is going to Canada; can I still send it by media mail, or is there some other way we have to use?"

So she hoofed it (her phrase, not mine) back to the post office yesterday to try again. The lady behind the counter gave her a form to fill out and did something Sandy did not expect. She didn't charge her to re-post the package. In fact, the lady printed a new postage label with the new date and affixed it to the package just below the original postage label. Sandy questioned this, but was told it would be fine.

Now Sandy's betting anyone who's willing to take the bet that this package gets returned again because the post office (read: government entity) will want more postage for having to touch the package a second time.

In the meantime, she's repeating her announcement that any professional reviewers willing to read the ARC for Choices Meant for Kings can contact her through this site. She still has a few left.

All my best,
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