Sunday, February 13, 2011

Eric and Emily's First Kiss -- Thin Ice

Yesterday I blogged over at the Long and Short Reviews Valentine's Day Celebration, where, among other great prizes, you can enter to win your choice of a Kindle, Nook, or $150 gift certificate just by making a comment on any of the posts there. The more comments you make, the more chances you have. On the Goddess Fish Party Pavilion Blog, where I shared some of my excerpts, it's the same deal. Just leave a comment for a chance to win. They're also offering several smaller prizes throughout the day, so if you leave a comment, be sure to check back and click on the posts where they announce the winners. (You can find the links to their announcements in the sidebar). You have seven days to claim your winnings.
One of my excerpts at the Goddess Fish Pavilion was of Eric and Emily's first kiss. So in honor of Valentine's Day, I'll share that here today, and choose my own random winner for an autographed copy of Thin Ice from the comments on this post today and tomorrow, Valentine's Day. The winner will be announced on Tuesday!

Emily has just, very reluctantly, given Eric a tour of her home. He refused to return her car keys (they'd traded cars and he's come to return hers) until she relented. Little does she know, he doesn't have the the excerpt below to find out where they are :)

I like it,” Eric said. “I like it a lot.” He turned to her and smiled. “Robbie’s very lucky.”
The nostalgic note in his voice made her wonder where he’d grown up, what his life had been like before he’d become a star athlete. He’d denied it that night in the ER, but surely he had family somewhere.
The grandfather clock in the hall chimed six-fifteen. Emily looked at the kitchen clock in surprise. Eric had been in the house for over twenty minutes. “You’re going to be late.”
“I know.” His eyes captured hers. “Walk me to the door?”
She swallowed, knowing what he was asking. “Sure.”
But at the front door, she paused, suddenly unsure. What would happen now? Would he say goodbye and mean it this time? She doubted it. And how did she really feel about that?
“Thanks for letting me inside,” Eric said quietly. “I know it wasn’t easy for you.”
“Easier than I expected it to be,” she said wryly.
His eyes darkened to brown velvet. “I’m glad.”
Their eyes locked and he slowly lowered his head. Heart hammering, Emily went perfectly still. But when his lips touched hers, everything faded away but the moment. And in that moment, Emily Jordan tasted heaven for the very first time.
Never had she been kissed with such quiet reverence or sensual finesse. Never. After a brief first kiss that barely brushed her lips, Eric kissed each corner of her mouth with whisper softness, then returned to press his lips to hers again in a kiss that made every part of her yearn for more.
He pulled away just as she swayed forward, catching her gently by the upper arms. He looked into her eyes for a long moment, then sent her a slow, sexy smile, a smile filled with a delicious sense of warmth and promise.
“See you soon,” he said and released her.
Emily nodded, too dazed to speak. Her headache was gone. Her muscles no longer ached. Every ounce of her earlier tension had evaporated. She felt warm and fuzzy all over, as if she were floating. Eric opened the front door and loped across the lawn.
“Eric, wait!” she called when he was halfway to his car.
He turned, a distracted look on his moonlit face.
“My keys.”
He pointed to the Suburban. “In the ignition.”

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In Praise of Friendship

I haven’t been around much lately, mostly because I’ve been off dealing with Life, running around in between snowstorms, trying to time it so that I’m home when the snow is blowing, and getting my errands done when the roads are clear and relatively dry. Dealing with Life can be pretty draining, and such was the case one night last week. I’d attended a class at the Y that afternoon, and during class we had a 20-minute demonstration of how to use the spin bikes there.

I hadn’t been on a bike of any sort in years, and while I thought my legs were in pretty good shape from my walking and Qigong classes, they didn’t hold up all that well during the demonstration. (I found out afterward I’d put my feet too far into the stirrups, which is what caused the awful cramping I got while pedaling).

Anyway, I got off the bike on legs that hurt and felt like rubber, hobbled around the track a few times, then decided that was not going to work. But I knew that to sit down and rest would only stiffen things up, so I went grocery shopping. A monster storm was due to blow into town, and we didn’t have any interesting food in the house.

After an hour and a half of reading labels and shopping, I came home and put the groceries away and started dinner. Suddenly it was time to leave home for another class, but that was the last thing I wanted to do. I’d been on the go nonstop for four hours, felt sore and exhausted, and wanted nothing more than to just stay home and relax.

But a friend and I had agreed to attend a series of talks on the Book of Exodus at our church, and it was my turn to drive, so off to class I would go. I picked her up and we headed toward the church, and just as we were walking inside, I said, “This is the last thing I feel like doing right now. I so wanted to call you and say let’s just forget about it tonight.” And she said, “Me, too! If you’d called and said you couldn’t make it, I would have been happy just to stay at home.”

So we walked into the class laughing, because neither of us really felt like being there, but both of us were there because we didn’t want to disappoint the other person.

The class was awesome. Incredible. We learned so much about the origins of our faith, about how relevant the readings in the Book of Exodus are to our lives right here and now—today--in the midst of all our day-to-day busyness, and came out of there with a whole new appreciation for the seemingly routine traditions our faith practices weekly at Mass.

What can I say but it was eye-opening in the extreme. Thanks for that go to another friend, who is giving the class, and has an understanding of The Bible that is nothing short of phenomenal. My attendee friend and I practically floated out of there on a new wave of energy and understanding, and then had another laugh about not wanting to go, and what we would have missed if not for two friends not wanting to let each other down.

It really does make a difference when you have someone to do almost anything with, be it attend a class, lose weight, change your eating habits, tackle a home improvement project, go on a trip, perform a community service. Not only do you reap the benefits of success, but it’s just plain fun having someone there beside you, whether you feel like doing what you agreed to do or not. Especially when you don’t feel like doing what you signed up for.

Somehow, when a friend is involved, you try harder than you would if it were entirely up to you.

I’m so glad we’re experiencing this class together, and when the time rolls around again, no matter how exhausted I might feel, I look forward to once again going to class, soaking up the history and wisdom in Exodus, and coming out energized with a new understanding of my faith and the rich and deeply rooted traditions behind it.

But better yet, my friend and I will each have someone to share our new knowledge and insights with--and that’s what deepens a friendship.

Is there something you can do with a friend this week? Something you wouldn’t ordinarily do? Try it and see what happens.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Guest Author, Jana Richards

Today's guest is Wild Rose Press author Jana Richards, who, like me, has an interest in promoting health and well being, so I invited her to do some guest posts on things that affect us all. I can't think of a person I know who hasn't experienced back pain at one time or another, and I, for one, have already learned a few things here I can do to make my back feel better thanks to Jana's research. That said, Jana and I invite you to sit back, relax, and learn what you can do to make your time in any chair more comfortable.

Like many writers, I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer. Add to that the time I spend working at the computer for my day job and it’s no wonder I’ve experienced back pain. It not only makes me feel miserable, it makes me a less productive writer. Time to take some action.

First of all, what causes back pain? Here are some of the most common causes:

Strains, sprains and spasms –The most common cause of back pain is an injury to a muscle (strain) or to a ligament (sprain) in the back. Strains and sprains can be caused by improper lifting, excessive weight, and poor posture. Even an awkward sleeping position or hauling around a heavy purse all day can cause a strain or sprain. An injured muscle may also "knot up." This muscle spasm is your body's way of immobilizing the affected area to prevent further damage.

Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. As we age, the cushions (disks) between the vertebrae in our backs become flatter and less flexible. Without the cushioning these disks provide, the joints between the vertebrae press tightly together, often causing back pain and stiffness.
Herniated Disk - Normal wear and tear over time can cause one of the disks in your spine to rupture (herniate). Exceptional strain or traumatic injury can have the same effect. Many people describe this as a "slipped" disk. Back pain results when the herniated disk pinches one of the nerves that come out of the spinal cord. If the sciatic nerve is affected, you may develop sciatica — a sharp, shooting pain in the lower back, buttocks and leg.

Osteoporosis – As we age we lose calcium in our bones, causing them to become less dense and more brittle. If you have osteoporosis, lifting and other routine tasks can cause fractures, called compression fractures, to form on the front part of the weakened bones of your back. These fractures result in back pain.

Fibromyalgia - Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by fatigue and widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons — including the lower back.

So what can we as writers do to keep our backs healthy and pain free? Some of the things we can do to keep our backs pain free are the same things we need to do to maintain good general health:

Keep Fit – Strong and flexible muscles will keep your back in shape. Both the back muscles and the abdominal muscles need to be strengthened in order to keep the back from hurting. Exercises for these “core” muscles will assist in this strengthening. To see a slideshow of core exercises from the Mayo Clinic, go here.

Keep your weight under control – Watching your weight not only keeps your heart healthy, improves your mood and increases your confidence, it also reduces your risk of back pain. According to the website “Back Pain Expert” weight gain may result in back pain “because the lower back, known as the lumbar region, supports the weight of the whole of the upper body, and gaining weight, as well as putting an extra strain on the knee and hip joints, can increase the burden on the lumbar region. This puts additional pressure on the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons of the back. Long-term, the extra weight can damage the discs between the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spine, can cause the spine to develop an unnatural curve, and can worsen the bone damage in osteoporosis.” Another good reason to say no to that extra helping at dinner!

Stop smoking – If you needed yet another reason to quit smoking, Dr. Mehmet Oz says that smoking can cause “accelerated disk degeneration and increased pain.”

Get some sleep – Dr. Oz also says that getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night allows the body to repair itself. Go to the above website for tips in finding the right sleep position.

Stretch it Out - I find that stretching helps to take the stiffness out of my back as well as alleviating the pain. To view a slideshow of stretches supplied by the Mayo Clinic please click on this website.

Even if we follow all the advice for good healthy living, if we aren’t careful about the way we work, it could be all for naught. Here’s some tips for keeping your back pain free while still being a productive writer:
The Chair’s the Thing – A properly fitting office chair is probably the single most important tool in keeping your back pain free. Make sure to adjust your chair to your height before you adjust your monitor, keyboard or mouse. If you don’t have an adjustable chair, consider using a lumbar support or a pillow to support your back, using a pillow under your seat if you’re sitting too low, or a footrest under your feet to bring your thighs parallel with the ground. Healthy Computing has good information on setting up your chair as well as information on what to look for when you’re buying a new chair.

Remember to Move – The body can only stay comfortably in one position for about 20 minutes at time. If you get too absorbed in your work and lose track of time, set a timer to remind you to change position.

Check your Posture - Relax your shoulders, keep your feet flat on the floor, and avoid leaning close to tasks on your desk. To see illustrations of good posture, check this website.

Rarely, back pain may indicate a more serious underlying problem, such as an infection, diabetes, kidney disease or cancer. If you’re struggling with back pain, and none of the measures mentioned here alleviate the pain, the best thing to do is to check with your doctor.
Have you experienced back pain while writing? What do you do to alleviate it?
Jana is the author of the newly released Jewel of the Night series novella, Flawless.