Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31st Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina –

BOO! Did I scare you? Happy Halloween y’all!

Bri, Dani & Emily
I had one of those heartbreaking moments as a mom this morning. At 6:00 am, I was rushing my youngest child (15) over to a friend’s house so three of the four Ninja Turtles could get dressed together, and she says to me, “It doesn’t feel like Halloween. Actually, none of the holidays feel the same anymore.” That made me so sad. Unfortunately, I know exactly how she feels. The one hopeful part is, when she becomes a mom, she’ll be able to recapture just a little bit of the holiday magic again. I guess I’ll have to wait until I’m a grandma to get my third swing at the feeling – NOT that I’m rushing that time to come!!
Em, Bri, Dani, Zach & Sarah
(Em, Zach & Sarah are triplets)

So tomorrow I’m supposed to be at the Peddler’s Village Apple Festival, but now it looks like it is going to rain all day, which means Saturday’s festivities will be cancelled. Although that’s a bummer, it kinda makes my life a little easier. You see, one of my best friends, Fran, works for a big firm, and one of their clients is holding a swanky fund raiser Saturday evening. The firm got tickets, and one of the partners could not make the event, so Fran offered the extra tickets to Paulie and me. The tickets are $500 a pop, so needless to say, my husband and I would not be going if we weren’t given the tickets.
Apple Picking with the girls last Friday
before Lys went back to school.

The event is being held at Princeton University, and the evening begins with author Gary Shteyngart either reading from one of his bestselling novels or just talking (I’m not sure which). After that we are ferried over to another building for appetizers, dinner and dessert, all while an auction – silent and live – are taking place. I looked over the items up for bid, and the few which did appeal to me, were well out of my budget, so I will not be bidding on anything.
Goofballs, but I love them!

Yup, I’m going as a total freeloader for the evening. I do not feel too terrible about it though, because the event is completely sold out, so they should raise a considerable amount of cash for the library. It will be interesting watching my Jersey redneck hubby hobnobbing with the Princeton socialites. LOL. He’ll do just fine while he’s there, but then I’ll have to hear all about it on my way home. I’m shocked he did not put up more resistance when I told him “we’re going” (for once I put my foot down and didn’t give him a choice).

Dani was posing for a pic
in the tree and got stuck
Big Sis lent a hand.
Because I will not be at a book signing all day Saturday in Pennsylvania, I now do not have to stress over leaving early, rushing home and trying to get ready and out the door by 5:00 pm. I can take my time with my make-up, play around until I’m happy with my hair, and reacquaint myself with wearing real shoes (heels – UGH). I will also have plenty of time to make sure every single piece of pet hair is off of both mine and my husband’s outfits. It drives me loopy how much walks out the door with us on our clothes, no matter how careful we try to be.

Last weekend's book signing
Today is going to be a bit of a scramble. I have to coordinate with my sister-in-law when we are going to meet up at my mom’s for pictures, and then at her mom’s. I have to pick up Dani’s boyfriend from football practice, and then get the two of them over to his mother’s house so they can take his eight year old sister trick-or-treating. Plus we have a few traditional stops along the way.

But then, after roughly 6:00, I am in the clear. I don’t have to dress up this year. I don’t have to drive kids anywhere. I do not have to walk the streets while they trick-or-treat, and I won’t even have to answer my door to trick-or-treaters. (In the sixteen years we’ve lived here, we haven’t had any – our road is too busy and there are no sidewalks by our house.) I will be spending a quiet evening at home, all toasty warm, watching the season premiere of Grim. YEAH! I can’t wait.

I hope you have a spooktacular day, and happy writing!

Your Next Challenge (compliments of my friend Loretta):

You're a ghost house hunting with a real estate agent to find the right place to haunt.

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 28th Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning. Okay, I lied. Well, it was more like I was feeling cruddy and just completely forgot about bringing in the camera, so I never posted any pictures yesterday. Sorry.

I am feeling a little better today, and I did manage to get some sleep last night, so that’s good. It is still going to be a really long day though. Thankfully, RV only has one appointment today, so I will be able to come home and rest before I have to go to my meeting tonight.

I would not even try going, but Keith will not be there, so I’m covering the class. Moreover, Kristen, the lady I met at my book signing Saturday, is supposed to come tonight, and I want to be there since it’s her first time. (Just so you know, if I had a cold or the flu or anything else contagious, I wouldn’t be going anywhere, but this isn’t contagious.)

Before I leave this morning, I need to find three prompts for the starter prompt, and then at least four more for the class itself. Since it’s close to Halloween, I’m going to try to find seasonally appropriate prompts. I am fairly sure I can find seven from my stash of challenges, so as soon as I finish this post, I’m off to go hunting through my archived blog posts.

Okay, I am off to make coffee and hope it does not set off my stomach. Today is going to require copious amounts of caffeine. 

I hope you have a fantastic day, and happy writing!

Your Next Challenge:

Use the following in a story: Dusk is setting in, a path through a wooded section of the park, the sound of a twig snapping…

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27th Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning, well technically afternoon! Sorry this is so late, I was up sick for most of the night, and I’m still not feeling all too chipper today.

I doubt I’ll be getting much writing done at all today, I’m just not feeling up to it. Yesterday’s signing went well again, and, as seems to be the happy norm, I met some wonderful people. A gentleman, visiting from Belgium, bought copies of all three of my books to bring back with him. That was a first. I’ve had a few people buy both A Second Chance and Taking Chances at the same time, but they are part of a series so I get that, but not all three. So, THANK YOU Patrick, I hope you enjoy, and safe travels home.

After the signing yesterday, Paulie and I had to attend a viewing. It’s sad to say, but we (meaning our circle of friends) have come to the age when our parents are all getting older, which unfortunately means, they are passing away. True, it is inevitable, but it is still sad nonetheless.

What was a little strange was the family was so surprised to see my husband and me show up at the viewing. They thought it was so nice that we would drive over an hour to come. As far as Paulie and I are concerned, they are “family”, so there was no way we wouldn’t have come. Hopefully we were able to provide just a tiny bit of comfort during this sad time.

Lys did arrive safely back at school, just before seven last night. They made amazing time, since they didn’t leave the rest stop on the Turnpike until after ten yesterday morning. Tori, her roommate from NY, was driving, and her GPS malfunctioned and had her going in the wrong direction, so she was almost an hour late getting to the rest stop. When she finally got there, we had to empty our her car completely so we could repack it with Lys and Lara’s things, and Chloe(the dog)’s things.

Everything fit – amazingly – and they were on their way. However, Tori’s delayed arrival put me behind schedule, and I arrived at the signing fifteen minutes late, which means my set up was over half an hour late. Apparently I was not able to mask my frazzled state well because Wayne, the owner of Canterbury Tales Forever Bookstore, asked if I was alright. No, I was not, but I would recover. I find being late extremely rude, and I try to do everything in my power not to be late. It took me to about one o’clock to dispense the need to catch up feeling I get whenever I do run late.  I hate that feeling!

Okay, I should boogie. Lys forgot something she desperately needs, so I have to run to the post office and overnight it to her. UGH! I hope you have a great day, and happy writing!

(I know I promised you pictures today, but I left the camera in the car, and I’m too lazy to go and get it now. I’ll attach them later.)

Your Next Challenge:

A visit from your past…

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 26th

Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning! Crazy quick post. I’m just waiting for Lys to get her butt in gear and we are headed down the Jersey Turnpike to the Molly Pitcher rest stop to meet up with her roommates. She still needs to get dressed and load all her junk in the car, so I have a few minutes.

Yesterday’s books signing was great. I sold a bunch of books, and I also met some really nice people. This one woman Jackie picked up a copy of A Second Chance and she’s bringing it back to her book club. She asked if I would be willing to come to the discussion at her house when they were finished reading, and since she lives only twenty minutes from me, I said I would be delighted. Another woman asked me the same thing yesterday, but since she lives in King of Prussia, over an hour and a half away, it would have been a little difficult to honor her request.

I also met this other woman, Kristen. She is a creative writing teacher. She also lives in New Jersey, and she works in Princeton. She will be joining me at my Tuesday writing groups at the Princeton Public Library. I’m so excited. She was at Peddlers village with her son, her parents and her grandparents, so I got to meet her whole family. What a lovely bunch they were.

Another person I met was a charming woman named Alison. We had a rather lengthy discussion on the history in Taking Chances. She seemed to be quite the history buff, and we chatted for a good twenty minutes.

Both Karen Scheuer and Samuel Knight joined me again yesterday, and, as usual, we had a blast together. We had such a perfect day, and could not have asked for better weather or crowd of people. Hopefully next weekend, for Apple Festival, we will be equally as blessed.

Okay, I should get going. Today is going to be another picture perfect day, so if you happen to be in the Peddler’s Village area, please come on by to say “hi”. I hope you have an amazing day, and happy writing!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 25th Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning! So, did anyone miss me? It’s been eleven days. That’s the longest I’ve gone without posting since I started this blog. Fear not, I have been writing and doing other author related activities, along with others, in my absence.

Last Friday I picked up Lys at a service station along the NJ Turnpike, she’s home for fall break. That was an experience. I cannot remember the last time I drove on the Turnpike. I believe it was when I was a little girl, growing up in Edison, and we would take the Turnpike to our church on Sundays, in Fords. I was ten when we moved out of Edison… so, yeah, it’s been a while.

I had another book signing at Peddler’s Village last Sunday. Karen Scheuer (A Bug and a Wish) was there with me, and let me tell you, we froze our bippies off. The wind was positively wicked. Surprisingly, even in the less than ideal conditions, there were a lot of folks out and about, and we both sold quite a few books.

Normally, after a book signing, I’m shot, and pretty much go to bed right after I get home. I couldn’t do that on Sunday, because we were celebrating my Father-in-law’s birthday. It has been too long since we were all around the table, so it was nice having the whole family together. My in-laws, my sister-in-law and her three kids, Paulie, me and our two girls, my son and Alex, his girlfriend, plus Bri, Dani’s friend tagged along, then add in the four dogs – it was a total zoo, and I loved it. We had a blast. The one bad thing was, my mother-in-law is such a wonderful cook, I ate WAY too much.

This past week has been spent on a new project with an extremely short deadline. I thought I had two weeks, but I only had five days. I was asked to be one of a dozen authors to submit a short story for a “spooky” compilation. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I didn’t want to pass it up, but how many times have you hear me say I’m not meant to write short stories.

I was freaking out that I wouldn’t be able to set a tone, set the scene, and develop the characters enough for the reader to care about them in less than 5K words. Well, I managed to write it in just shy of 2,600 words. Here’s the opening:

The night is clear, the moon is bright, a low fog swirls along the moor
She appears, the woman in white, a mere echo of the infamous paramour
She begins to stroll, to sing her song, a siren to an unsuspecting man
For ‘tis her fate, a curse imparted, to forever wander this land
Now in death, as in life, she’s forced to lure them still
They are drawn to her, the wretched souls, bound by their own free will
A kiss of death, she will bestow, upon their unsuspecting lips
When they awake, remembering the dream, they will already be in death’s grip
~ Scottish Lore

Now, this isn’t actually “Scottish Lore”, I made it up, but it sets the tone for the story. I had Lys read the first few pages after I had written them, and she said “Eh, I’m not really interested. You know exactly what’s going to happen. They guy gets lured, she kisses him, he dies.” She wouldn’t read the story when I finished it, so she will never know how wrong she was.

Okay, I need to boogie. I have to get ready for another signing at Peddler’s village. I won’t be able to post again tomorrow because I’ll be dropping Lys off at some unknown meeting place, at some ridiculous hour, and then heading back to Peddler’s Village for another book signing. I’m just thankful the weather this weekend is better than last weekend.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend, and happy writing!

Your Next Challenge:

Write your own “spooky” short story (well at least set the stage in the ten minute allotted time).

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14th Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning! Sorry there was no post yesterday, I wasn’t feeling well. I don’t know about you, but allergies this year seem a whole lot stronger than usual. My sinuses are working overtime, and the headache from them is making my eyes cross.

A friend of mine has offered me a unique opportunity. A publisher friend of his is putting together a compilation of short stories and such for Halloween, and he asked me to be one of the ten authors. The submission needs to be between 4,500 – 7,000 words.

I have said time and again, I cannot write a short story. I’m all about the building of the characters and the details, so this is going to be a real challenge for me. I have no idea what I’m going to write. I could go ghost, or witch, or séance, or Jersey Devil for that matter. I could even do a cute love story where the characters meet at a Halloween party. I just don’t know.

What I really should be doing is finishing Faerie Tale Queen, but I guess with being so busy lately, compounded with not feeling well, I just can’t get back into the story. This happened to me before with my other stories. Then, as if someone flipped a switch, it all came back, and I finished the novel in a flurry of writing.

I think I have decided to forego NaNoWriMo this time around, but I’m not sure. I may just submit another combination of my daily blog posts with what I write on my novel. I am going to concentrate on finishing Simply by Chance, but because it is a historical, it’s not really NaNo material. Since there is such extensive research which needs to be done while I’m writing, the writing goes at a much slower pace, making 50K words unobtainable.

I have come to the realization that nothing of significance occurred in the region in early 1806, so instead of wasting more time hunting, what I might do is plant a seed for an event which occurs a few years down the road, and then just wing it. I abhor doing that, but what are my options?

The next scene I have to write is where one of my characters dies, and I have not decided if it is going to be the actual death or just his co-workers finding his body. I’m sure, after I go back and read everything I have written up to this point, the scene will become clear.

Okay, I am off to try my hand at writing something scary. Wish me luck…I’m going to need it.

I hope you have a fantastic day, and happy writing!

Your Next Challenge:

Another Fairy Tale Twist: When Prince Eric’s ship sank, instead of saving Eric, Ariel turned Eric into a merman ...

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 10th, 11th & 12th Challenge

Hi, it’s Christina –

My computer or my modem have been having issues these past few days, so I haven’t been online. I haven’t done anything to remedy the situation, I haven’t really had the time, but it seems to have fixed itself. I have been writing my blog, even though I wasn’t able to post it, so today you are going to get a monster blog. At least this time I kept it chronological so you won’t have to read from the bottom up. Today’s post is mostly going to be pictures, so Facebook folks, you are probably better off just going right to my blog page. Oh, and I only gave you one writing challenge instead of three.


Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning! I love my husband, really I do, but that does not mean I do not want to choke him from time to time. This is one of those times. He is such a pain in my behind sometimes.

He got hurt at work yesterday, more than likely a torn calf muscle. Do you think he called his boss last night to tell him what happened? NO. Do you think he would let me take him to the hospital last night to get it checked out? NO. Do you think he would stay home from work today to rest? NO. Wouldn’t you want to strangle him too?

Not his leg, but close
ARGH! This whole getting old thing stinks. He didn’t slip. He didn’t fall. He didn’t twist or turn wrong. He was simply climbing up a ladder, like he does almost every day, and he must have let his heel drop instead of staying up on the balls of his feet. That’s all it took. Now he can barely walk. His leg is all swollen and bruised. Yet, he won’t go and have it checked out. MEN!

Whatever, he’s a grown man. If he chooses to be a dunce, what can I really do? I know he wasn’t thrilled about having to help me all day tomorrow at the Collingswood Book Festival, but I think his method of getting out of the commitment was a bit extreme, don’t you?

On a more positive note, I am going to have a special treat today. At one, I am meeting a friend of mine who I haven’t seen in eight years. We lost touch when she moved away, but then, quite by accident, she ran into Paulie at QuikChek. She gave him her number, and I call her as soon as he gave it to me.

Linda and I worked together at a real estate office a hundred years ago, and her youngest, Kristi, and my oldest, PJ are the same age. She was also Dani’s babysitter when Dani was an infant, Lysa’s too. Needless to say, we go back a long way. It’s going to be nice to see her again.

Hopefully, my stomach will calm down enough for me to actually enjoy my lunch. I think between the stress of my hubby getting hurt, the stress over attending this huge festival, and the added stress of now having to do it without Paulie’s help, set my stomach off. I’m hoping that’s all it is and not a bug. That would be the last thing I need.

So the weather forecast for tomorrow looks bleak. It is supposed to rain all day. That means the Collingswood Book Festival will be indoors at the Collingswood High School and not out on the street. They say the one other time they had to have it indoors, there was still a good turnout. I guess we’ll see.

Okay, I still have some stuff to do before my lunch date, so I should boogie. I hope you have a wonderful day, and happy writing!


Hi, it’s Christina –

Good Morning! The internet connection is acting up, so you never got yesterday’s post. You may not get today’s either because I only have a few minutes to write this morning, so I won’t have time to play around with it.

It’s 4:00 am, and even though I should be getting my butt in the shower, I desperately needed a few minutes with my coffee. Even if it wasn’t such a ridiculous hour, I probably still would have issues waking up this morning. It’s pouring. Do you have trouble waking up on rainy days? I sure do.

So yesterday didn’t go exactly as I had hoped. I got to the café, where I was meeting Linda for lunch, right at one. Since I had no clue what kind of car she drove, I went inside to see if she was there. I was a little nervous because I had not seen her in so long, I was afraid we wouldn’t recognize each other. So as I’m scanning the tables, I spot another friend of mine sitting with her daughter. She sees me as well, and waves me over.

I’m thinking, this is great. I haven’t seen Dottie in way too long, and it will be nice to catch up with her until Linda, or Dottie’s and Christine’s food arrive. (I wasn’t going to sit there while they ate.) So we’re there happily chatting away, and I’m eyeing every person who walks into the place. At quarter after, I send Linda a text – “Are you coming???”, then continue my conversation with Dottie and Christine.

Their food arrives, so I get up to leave, but they insisted I stay. Since the alternative is standing outside, looking like a total looser, I overrode my manners and stayed. At one thirty, I tried calling Linda. I got “the mailbox is full” message.

I waited another fifteen minutes. Dottie and Christine were done with their lunch, and I had things to do, so I left. She never called me for the rest of the day, so I have no idea what happened.

Okay, coffee’s done and I need to get a move on. I’m SO not looking forward to the 68 mile drive, in the rain, in the dark, to an area I don’t know. Wish me luck!

I hope you have a fantastic day, and happy writing!


Hi, it’s Christina -

Good Morning! The pictures and the captions are of all the wonderful people I met yesterday.

This is Larry Deibert, I couldn't have
asked for a better neighbor. He ended
up skootching down a little so we
could fit Keith between us.
Well I hope your Saturday went better than mine. Driving down to Collingswood, in the pouring rain, in the dark, was a NIGHTMARE. I couldn’t see the lines on the road, in the construction area, on Route 95. I don’t think anyone else could either. It was scary.

My new friends Louis Romano and
his lovely wife MaryLynn.
So Dani and I get there by 7:05, and in a light rain we unload all our junk at the front entrance to the High School, then run down the street to WaWa to pick up breakfast and lunch. We get back fifteen minutes later, and park in the rear of the High School. We were lucky we found a spot.

These lovely ladies (in front) are twins.
Alicia and Tameka McKenzie, sweet
girls I hope to see again.
Now it’s pouring again, so even though it’s one more thing to carry, I grab the golf umbrella. It won’t open. Somehow it got bent and now it won’t open all the way. Wonderful. Just what I needed. I love looking like a drowned rat while meeting the public.

My friends K. Edwin Fritz and his
beautiful  wife Corrina.
Dani and I make a mad dash for the door, and you guessed it, I landed ankle deep in a puddle. Hey, at least I didn’t end up neck deep, right? We put our coffees, lunch, Dani’s backpack and my purse down in a corner, behind a door, and then go to the front of the school to retrieve the rest of our junk – two chairs, a table, “rollie” our cooler on wheels, a plastic bin of books, and a bin of table decorations. Oh did I mention, you can’t get between the gym and the front of the school without going outside. Thankfully one of the guys working the event volunteered to help us, or we really would have been in trouble.
My friend Mary Ellen Springsteen was
at the end of our row.

We wound our way back to the gymnasium and started to set up. That’s when I realized my banner is still in the trunk of my car. Back out into the rain. At this point my usually sunny disposition is as absent as the sun itself. I’m wet, I’m cold, and because my feet are completely soaked, I’m miserable. I HATE having wet feet. Why I didn’t bring extra shoes, I don’t know. It would have made too much sense.

My friend Karen Scheuer was a few
tables down from me.
We finally get everything set up, I walk around to the front of the table, and I don’t like the way it looks. Dani was about to kill me when I said we had to do it all again. I finally get it where I like it, and since we still had an hour before they opened the doors, I decided to go to the bathroom to use their hand dryer to try and dry my shoes. Boy didn’t I look like a dork, standing barefoot in the bathroom, holding my shoes under the dryer. I couldn’t get they totally dry, but they were better.

Award winning children's author
Donna McDine was sitting across
from me. We really hit it off.
Next came six excruciating hours. My buddy Keith was at the table next to me. He had gone to Collingswood last year when the weather was good and the festival was held outside like it was supposed to be. He said the crowd was less than a third of what they had last year. We were in the room where the “featured authors” were set up. They were one row over from us, and even they weren’t drawing a crowd. It was pathetic.

Also had time to chat with
Barbara Ann Gareis. We
might be together again at
Canterbury Tales. 
At two I was about to poke my eyes out from boredom, so I decided to go to the front of my table and hand out bookmarks. I figured if they weren’t in a shopping mood then, perhaps at some later date they would actually look at my bookmark, and possible look into my books further. I wasn’t pushing my books, simply smiling and offering them a bookmark. Can you believe some people were nasty about it? Honest, a simple “no thank you” would have sufficed. Sheesh!

enough to give me a raven's
feather to us for my next book
cover if I can't get a picture.
Okay, I have rambled on long enough considering you have three days’ worth of posts. Besides, I have to go start getting ready to leave. I’ll be at Canterbury Tales Forever in Peddler’s Village again today. I had no intention of doing another signing today; I knew I would be wrecked after Collingswood, but Wayne put me up on his schedule by mistake. He has been so good to me over the past year, I just couldn’t leave him hanging. So, off to Pennsylvania I go.

I hope you have an exceptional day, and happy writing!

Your Next Challenge:

Use the following: Pick a genre out of your norm (ie: if you write horror, do romance; or if you write Sci-Fi, do non-fiction). Your subject: a boat on the water

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October 8th Challenge

Hi it’s Christina –

Good Morning! I may or may not get this blog finished before I have to go outside. You see, this morning at 6:25 is the start of a lunar eclipse, and I’d like to see it. Actually, scrap that. I just ran out to the car to get Dani lunch money, and the eclipse already started. I guess when they said 6:25, they meant the moon would be fully eclipsed at that time.
See how the details are magnified
in the orange area?

I tried getting a picture of it for y’all, but my camera isn’t strong enough. All you can see is this reddish-orange dot. It’s a shame, because it does look really cool. I like when the eclipse is partial – part is blocked, but then you can see where it goes from dark to light, and in that orangey section, you can see all the details of the moon’s surface. I found a picture online to better explain what I’m having difficulty articulating.

The other big story that caught my eye was about Enterovirus D68. There are now over six hundred confirmed cases in the US, fourteen here in New Jersey. The NJ number will probably go up later today or tomorrow, because there are five children who have recently been admitted to CHoP, who more than likely have the virus.

Now I’ll admit, I didn’t know a whole lot about Enterovirus, but like with everything else I don’t know about (if it interests me), I read up on it. Being a mom, and hearing that two children have died from this already this year, it interested me. If it does not interest you, you can skip down to the writing challenge, and we’ll chat again tomorrow.

I’m no doctor, scientist, immunologist, but I will try to explain this the best I can. There are five different categories, for lack of a better word, of viruses in this family – Enterovirus, Echovirus, Poliovirus (scary, scary), Rhinovirus (your common cold) & Coxsackie (aka – hoof and mouth, or hand, foot and mouth). Enterovirus is then categorized A – J. What we are dealing with now is the D strain of the virus. Enterovirus E & F used to be called Bovine Enterovirus and I wonder if that’s what we were calling the swine flu? Hmmm, I may have to do some more reading on the subject – later, when I have more time.

D68 hits young children the hardest because they have not built up immunities. Adults can get D68, but chances are you’ll just think it’s a “nasty cold”, and never get tested for the virus, so the annual numbers for the virus are probably much higher than ever reported. Seriously, who goes to the doctors for a cold? I know I don’t.

My sentiments exactly Mr. President.
Along with all the online articles, of course, come all the comments. One particular comment warranted a response, because the person was so off base. I was nice even though my knee jerk reaction was to call him a moron. Yeah, I know, not exactly PC, but hey, I’m human.

He blamed the outbreak of the virus on President Obama and his allowing illegals into the school system. Seriously? D68 was first discovered in 1962 in California, but really didn’t become widespread until 1987. I told him if he insisted on blaming a President, then he should blame Ronald Reagan. I also put in the link to the CDC website in case he actually wanted to get his facts straight before spewing any more politically based nonsense.

Honestly, I’m currently not a fan of any government politician, and heaven knows there are tons of stones you can throw in President Obama’s direction at the moment, but the D68 outbreak of 2014 is not one of them. Sheesh! What goes through some people’s heads... Good grief!

Anyway, if you have kids, and they get a cold, watch them a little closer than you usually do. Keep in mind, some of the symptoms can be minimal. The little boy from NJ went to bed one night with pink eye, and never woke up the next morning. Pink eye was his only symptom. I’m sure this was beyond rare, and there may have been underlying issues we don’t know about, but it’s scary all the same. Mostly the symptoms are cold like and may or may not be accompanied by a fever.

The best prevention of spreading this virus, simple -  hand washing, at least thirty seconds with warm, soapy water. Please note, alcohol based hand sanitizers are not effective against D68. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze; and for the sake of us all, if you’re sick, STAY HOME. News flash, the world will not stop revolving if you do not show up for work for a few days. Yes, you will probably have tons to catch up on when you get back, but at least you will not have infected your entire office.

Okay, enough for one day. I hope you have a wonderful day, and happy writing!

Your Next Challenge:

Use the following: A Cupcake, A Moose, and An Open Door

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7th Challenge

Hi it’s Christina –

This shows how much of her brain is
effected by the cancer.
Good Morning! My shiny object this morning was the story of Brittany Maynard, a young woman who is diagnosed with an inoperable, terminal, and excruciatingly painful form of brain cancer. Brittany and her husband moved to Washington State where they have a dignity in dying law which allows a terminally ill patient to die on their own terms. I know Oregon and Vermont have the same type of death with dignity laws, and there may be one or two other states which have them, but that’s it.

Brittany loves adventure.
Brittany has decided that November 1st, 2014 will be the day she dies, and she posted a video, which you can see here. Needless to say, like anything of this nature, it has opened up a firestorm of comments. “Holy rollers” on one end to “right to choosers” on the other. All these supposed “Christians” getting downright nasty with each other. Folks manipulating Bible verses (on both sides) to attempt to bolster their viewpoint. Fanatics on both sides making all “true” Christians – Muslims and Jews, and everyone else for that matter – look bad.

I’m sure I am going to open my own firestorm here as well, and this is why I usually try to avoid any kind of religious or political commentary, but on occasion, my cookies get fried and I have to say something. What I meant by “true” is, true Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc., hold a love of God in their hearts. They try very hard to love all their neighbors regardless of their neighbor’s beliefs. They pray for them, but do not force their own beliefs on them. They do not judge. They may not agree with, but they respect the other’s beliefs. Religion is based on love, understanding, and compassion, not judgment, condemnation, and discrimination.

Brittany's wedding photo
Back to Brittany. I can see both sides to this coin. There are horrible diseases out there like MS & ALS where your body deteriorates and your brain stays whole, and for me that would be a living hell. Alzheimer's and dementia would be hell on my family. I don't know if I would be able to do it or not, and I hope I won't have to make that type of decision, ever.

A beautiful young woman...
Then again, I have actually seen a medical miracle - twice - with my mom. She was diagnosed with stage 4 inoperable cervical cancer. The prognosis was not good to say the least, but they were willing to try. We all started praying and added her to prayer chains all over the country (our family and friends are far flung). After her initial round of chemo and radiation, she went in for radioactive isotope implants. After they did the procedure the doctor came out to talk to me, and asked me to verify everything. I did, then when he started scratching his head, I asked why. He said because there was absolutely no sign of the cancer, not even any scarring of where the tumor supposedly was (miracle one).

... a strong and courageous one
as well. 
Several months later, my mom was having gallbladder issues and they sent her for a CT scan. The tech saw something he didn't like, and told her to go back to her oncologist. After a battery of tests, including two PET scans, they determined that my mom had cancer in every single one of her lymph nodes. No treatment, no options, only a few months to live. My mom called her radiologist to tell him what was going on, and basically to cancel her six month check-up, because she wasn’t going to be around for it. He asked her if it was okay if he made some calls. Obviously she agreed. He called her back the next day and asked her if she would go see a buddy of his from medical school.

She went to see this doctor, and he told her he was willing to try. The surgery was massive. She’d be cut from collarbone to pubic bone, and they would remove every lymph node in her body. She would be in the hospital for at least a month, and then in rehab for up to six months afterwards, that was provided she survived the surgery. She decided to give it a try, and the prayer chain was reactivated.

We celebrated Christmas early that year, because her surgery was scheduled a few days before Christmas. We had friends and family, because honestly, we thought it might be our last Christmas together.

My mom at her birthday last year. As you
can see, she's doing great!
Surgery day arrived. I brought my mom to the hospital. The surgeon came out and talked to me right before he went in. He said the surgery would take hours and I should go home, he’d call when she was done. I told him I wasn’t going anywhere, and plopped myself down in a waiting room chair.

A little over an hour later, he came looking for me. My heart sank when I saw him, but then he gave me the biggest smile I had ever seen. He told me that on a hunch, before he opened her up, he put in a scope and looked at every single one of her lymph nodes. There was one tiny one, just outside her abdominal wall, which looked questionable, so he removed it laproscopically.  All the others looked perfectly fine. He said the only way to describe it was a miracle, because PET scans don’t lie.

My mom walked out of the hospital the next morning and has been cancer free for going on ten years now. So as I said, I can see both sides of this coin. Prayer and believing do work, but I also firmly believe that, like any parent, God does not want to see his children suffer. If the time comes when she feels she can no longer deal with the pain, and decides to take the medication, I have faith that God will welcome her home, because that’s what a loving parent does. We forgive our children’s sins, we overlook their shortcomings, and we love them unconditionally.

You may agree with me, you may disagree with me. Either is fine with me. I only ask that if you feel compelled to comment on this post, or reply to a comment someone else made in response to this post, you do it respectfully. I would prefer to avoid any type of pissing match on my page. You are completely allowed to voice your opinion, but if I feel you are viciously attacking anyone, I will delete your comment (no name calling, behave).

I hope you have a marvelous day, and happy writing!

Your Next Challenge:

One thing I would definitely like to do before I die is…

You have ten minutes (be honest). There is no right or wrong, just write. Spelling and punctuation don’t count, and NO ONE is allowed to criticize what someone else has written. Go.