Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jenny Craig Week 3

Folks - it was a VERY tough week.  Not from the diet, but from a general health perspective.  I got a hellish fall cold that knocked me on my ass on Monday and Tuesday, making it very difficult to eat all the items on my menu.  I know you're supposed to starve a fever and feed a cold.  Well I didn't want to eat all that much - but I drank juice - which didn't bode well for dropping the weight. 

After all was said and done - I did drop another half pound, so I didn't completely kill my progress. 

I was supposed to start a consistent exercise program this week too - ha.  That kind of fell through the cracks until Thursday and Friday.  So I ended on a much more consistent note.

I do hope to do much better during week 4.

Catch you next week - same time, same place. 


Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Friday - comment to win a copy of Mind Games!

It's the last Friday in September and I've had a LONG week. 

Backtrack to last Saturday's workshop.  In case you're wondering, my pitch went eh.  At least in my mind, I stuttered and stumbled through the pitch and then took a second to gather my wits and get things straight.  Then the agent threw me a curve ball and asked since the pitch was YA - what is the story's lesson? 

What?  A YA story HAS to have a lesson?  I have no friggin clue.  I didn't set out to write a story with a moral.  This really threw me.  I know my eyebrows raised at that.  But I quickly got my bearings and said it's about hope in the face of impossible odds - or something along those lines.  Anyway, long story short - the agent asked for pages - pages that if I want a quick response, I need to record and send on a CD along with the synopsis.  How fun is that? 

I was all prepped to do this and then the cold from hell hit.  Ka-bam!  Knocked me on my ass and now I'm still sniffling and all nasally with a scratchy voice.  My husband calls it my "man voice" and offered to raise his real high to offset mine.  Lovely man, isn't he.  Well, he did get a chuckle out of me on that comment.

Now that I'm on the mend, I can start catching up on some of my ancillary responsibilities.  I still have a handful of eXcessica stories to format, a couple RWA contest entries to judge and a few stories to read for Dark Recesses before I ask for another cool dozen from the Allegory submissions.  That's all before I return to editing Dome Warriors - the story I pitched last week.  It needs some necessary chopping and cleaning in more than just prose - there are some scenes that probably shouldn't be in a book for 16 year olds and up - which is my target audience. 

I have some very interesting interviews lined up for October and I'll announce them next week in my First Friday blog.  I'll also be updating the calendar on my website so you folks can quickly check who my guests are or where I'll be, especially as November gets closer and my next releases come out. 

Anyway - just for giggles, since I have a few extra copies of my second book in the Games series - MIND GAMES, anyone who comments will go into a drawing for a copy - US residents can choose between the paperback and an e-book, international folks will have their choice of e-book format. 

I'll pick a winner on Tuesday at 9pm and announce it in the Jenny Craig Week 3 blog that's posted on Wednesday. 

Thanks for swinging in!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jenny Craig - week 2

I bet you're wondering how I did with week 2.  Well, I followed the menu to the letter and dropped another 1.5 pounds. 

I also found I'm not a fan of the chilli - it was the only meal I couldn't finish. Maybe because I'm so used to five alarm chilli and this wasn't in the least spicy - and I had no tortilla chips to go with it.  Oh well.  Live and learn.  This just won't be on my grocery list going forward. 

Outside of that, I still am plugging along with really no cravings yet, but PMS hasn't hit.  I wonder how that's going to work.  I'm hoarding the chocolate "Anytime" bars just for that week, so I can satisfy that predictable craving. 

The only thing I didn't accomplish that I wanted to was getting into a exercise routine.  Yeah, I walked 4 miles on Saturday and Sunday to start the week - and did a dozen or so squats on Friday to end the week but that was it.  My plan to do regularly scheduled work-outs kind of flew south like the birds. 

This is one of my goals, to get into a consistent routine of aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week and toning twice a week.  God knows I have enough exercise tapes and equipment here - all of which have been collecting dust for the last year.   

I need to put together my menu for the next delivery and am looking forward to hand picking the meals I enjoy - especially the chocolate cheese cake.  Yes, they have chocolate cheesecake that's to die for. 

Anyhow - that's my week 2.  Very uneventful and still successful.   

How is your diet and exercise plan going?

Catch you next week - same time, same place.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday already?

Hey folks.   Just doing a fly-by today.  I can't believe it's already Friday and I wasn't on the ball enough to line up a guest blogger or an interview. 

Nope - slacking big time.  ;) 

I know it's not an excuse, but I've been in pitch hell - writing a snappy hook for my YA superhero fantasy that I'm running by an agent on Saturday, and my day job has gone from busy to absolutely insane.

I haven't tried to woo an agent in forever, so this is nerve racking.  

This is the lame attempt I've got so far:

Andre Robbins blames himself for his parent’s death; after all, they died because of him and some ludicrous Zyclonian prophecy. He tried stopping the execution, even scarring the Emperor in the process, but all that earned him was a one-way ticket in a death pod.

Alone and floating in space, Andre looses count of the years and just when he believes survival is a pipe dream, he floats into the Sol system and finds refuge on Earth. Now, at sixteen, all he wants is to fit in, to play football and fall in love with the only girl who’s off limits, but when word of his survival gets back to Zyclon, his well crafted life crumbles and his existence doesn’t just threaten those he loves, it may very well trigger Earth’s destruction.

Anyway, it's time to get back to honing this a bit. 

Wish me luck!

Until next week . . .


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jenny Craig - week one

Hi folks,

I figured I'd do a little something different here on my blog and document my progress on the Jenny Craig diet.  I figure it'll keep me honest and maybe those that are thinking about taking a plunge to get control of their weight will jump on in with their experiences. :)

What prompted me to make this type of change?  I turned 45 this year and frankly, losing weight over the last few years has been a bitch.  I've yo-yoed up and down the spectrum - but never gotten down to my desired weight, at least not the weight I was before I got pregnant with my son and he's now almost eleven.

Here I am with my daughter this summer and standing next to her, I feel like a buffalo.

I hit the highest I've ever seen on a scale this year and decided enoughs enough, I couldn't do this myself.  So after a little research, I chose the Jenny Craig program.  It seemed to fit my lifestyle much better than some of the other programs out there and I didn't want to try any new fangled pills or potions to drop the weight. Been there, done that and it never worked.       

So, I started the diet on Saturday, September 4 - Labor Day weekend.   Believe me, my neighbors at the camp ground gave me a hard time about starting on a holiday weekend, but really, what time IS good to start a diet?  

Well, I didn't have as hard a time with the food as I thought I would - in fact, there have been some meals that are outstanding.  Aside from a low grade headache that plagued me over the weekend and a little bloated gassiness in the beginning as my system got used to the low sodiom and low fat diet - I haven't had any other complaints. 

As a matter of fact, I've actually had a lower level of hunger than I have in my past diet attempts.  My chocolate cravings seem to be in check as well because the Jenny program does have a lot of choices in the way of chocolate sweets.  My favorite by far - the chocolate cheese cake - yes they have it - it's a very small helping but my lord it is very, very good. 

So what was my week one result?  I lost two pounds.  Not stellar in relation to my past fad diets - but two pounds is the weekly goal that the program suggests.  It's a reasonable amount of weight to drop and keep off in a week especially since I only excersized while we were up in Maine - Sat/Sun/Mon I walked the beach.  Two of the days it was the length of the beach and on Monday - my lowest energy day - it was only half the beach.  So losing two pounds was a win. 

Thanks for listening. I'll post Week 2 next Wednesday!  In the meantime, I'd love to hear your success stories. 


Friday, September 10, 2010

A Conversation with Genius: Stacey Cochran

A Conversation with Genius: Stacey Cochran

By J.E. Taylor

JET: First of all, let me say thank you for joining me on my blog. I really enjoy your guest blog spot over on Joe Konrath’s blog and wanted to spread the word about Claws and Claws 2. Can you tell us a little about the series and what prompted you to settle on the titles?

STACEY COCHRAN: Well, thank you for having me. It’s my pleasure to be here. CLAWS is a wildlife thriller series featuring biologist Dr. Angie Rippard who gets drawn into police investigations when folks are attacked by large predators. Mountain lions in the first book; grizzly bears in the second.

The titles were meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Here’s something I’ve never revealed before about these books: they were intended as satire.

Though they’re certainly readable as de facto thriller novels (and thousands of people have read them as such), I came from a post-modern grad school Creative Writing background, and so had David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, and Don Delillo very clearly in mind as I conceived of and wrote the novels.

My goal was to satirize the entire cookie-cutter, formulaic industry of cranking out novels. All the while, I wanted to tell a damn good story.

It’s remarkable. Out of the hundreds of reviews I’ve gotten, no one has overtly “gotten” that these books were intended as satire of consumer culture and the role that publishing and the entertainment industry plays in that.

JET: Was writing thrillers a conscious choice or was it just a natural affinity? Why do you think that is?

STACEY COCHRAN: I definitely wanted to write a thriller. But at the same time, I didn’t want to contribute to a culture of fear. As I see it, entertainers have one of two choices: make people happy, or make people afraid. In the end, every conceivable story boils down to that atomic level. What I wanted to do with CLAWS was split the atom. Write a novel that was both funny. And terrifying.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

STACEY COCHRAN: Learning to be content with reality.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

STACEY COCHRAN: Maybe right this moment. As I’m writing down the word “word.” Seriously. I’m pretty happy right now. For some reason.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

STACEY COCHRAN: Well, the first books I really remember enjoying were the Encyclopedia Brown series. Later, I enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, then like Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and Sphere. Once I got to college, everything became kind of self-referential, and I got into Salinger, Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Keirkegaard, Camus, Hemingway. Shit like that. In my late twenties, I’d won a few awards for my fiction and so started thinking about how to invent something entirely “new” in a novel. I read a lot of comic books, pulp novels, crime fiction… anything that seemed subversive or counter-culture. Nowadays, I just want to read something that makes me give a damn about taking another breath.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

STACEY COCHRAN: That’s hard to pin-point. I was a big comics fan in my teens, and even before that I’d tried writing Westerns in my earliest years. Hell, I don’t know exactly. I definitely think getting nominated for the 1998 Isaac Asimov Award set me on my course. I met Peter Straub and Joe Haldeman, and I realized that “holy shit” people actually do this. People actually waste their entire lives word-smithing.

Sign me up!

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

STACEY COCHRAN: Well, I don’t know if it’s “research” per se, but I’ve actually had several encounters with bears and a mountain lion in the wild. Probably the most dangerous was in Alaska near the little town of Seward. Got right up on a bear mother with cubs. Less than ten feet. Those situations can turn ugly fast. Fortunately there were dumber people than me pushing in even closer on the bear mom. I would have merely been the 3rd or 4th person in line to be attacked.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

STACEY COCHRAN: I enjoyed writing The Colorado Sequence more than any other novel I’ve ever written. It was a weird combination of I-knew-what-I-was-doing combined with total naïveté about how this industry functions. Once you learn how fucked up this industry is, you have to find other reasons to enjoy the writing that have nothing to do with what you once thought writing was supposed to be. Maybe you can even learn to be selfless, compassionate, and actually make a fucking difference in other people’s lives. When the writing is driven by that spirit, you can enjoy it a little more.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

STACEY COCHRAN: Go into non-profit work and help in your communities. Help with homelessness or clean drinking water in 3rd-world countries. Publishing is an ego-driven, self-absorbed world of self-important upper middle class white kids. You can do much better things in this world that contribute to our bullshit.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

STACEY COCHRAN: We use re-usuable tote bags.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

STACEY COCHRAN: Tofu in my hot ‘n spicy soup. Steak on the grill. I am an omnivore.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

STACEY COCHRAN: Mountains. Anywhere above 5,000 feet with a campfire, a tent, and my three-year-old son. It’s an absolute travesty what real estate development has done to our beaches.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

STACEY COCHRAN: Country. Most of the time. Sometimes a good ol’ gangsta rap does it for me. Sometimes I’ll leave it on the Spanish-speaking station, even though I have no fucking clue what they’re singing about. But who can beat a kick-ass early Boston riff, too? Or the Beatles. God, don’t get me started. I love music!

JET: Classics or Modern?

STACEY COCHRAN: Are we talking about birth-control options?

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

STACEY COCHRAN: Now you’re just taunting me.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

STACEY COCHRAN: Before I was married, I dated both. Yes.

JET: Paper or Digital?


JET: Salty or Sweet?

STACEY COCHRAN: Fucking salt.

JET: Coffee or Tea?


JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

STACEY COCHRAN: I am working on revising my latest novel THE ETERNALIST. I had a conversation with God for three years. The novel is the result.


Stacey Cochran was born in the Carolinas, where his family traces its roots to the mid 1800s. In 1998 he was selected as a finalist in the Dell Magazines undergraduate fiction competition, and he made his first professional short story sale to CutBank in 2001. In 2004, he was selected as a finalist in the St. Martin's Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Dr. Susan K. Miller-Cochran and their son Sam, and he teaches writing at North Carolina State University.

Find out all the juicy stuff at: http://www.staceycochran.com/

Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't panic . . .

Don’t Panic . . .

Summer is officially over and it’s back to school for the kids out there. Mine are very happy to be in school now. I think the summer was extra long for them because they had to stay inside a couple days a week while Mom and Dad worked and let me tell you, the number of calls I received during those days was excessive. It is quite hard to referee a fight over the phone, especially in a crowded office. Fun - Not so much.

Anyhow, I’d like to send props to my Backspace brethren who have September releases:

Lauren Baratz-Logsted -THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER

Chris Grabenstein - THE SMOKEY CORRIDOR

Sara Gruen -APE HOUSE

Susan Henderson - UP FROM THE BLUE

Denise Jaden - LOSING FAITH




Joanne Rendell - OUT OF THE SHADOWS



There are a ton of great titles there. Woohoo! Go Backspacers Go!

And as for me, my computer is due back from the repair shop today and I can’t wait! But in the meantime – here’s my take on what to do if you’re computer craps out . . .

#1 - Don't Panic! (hence the blog title)

On Friday the 13th - yes THAT day - my computer - my ever present companion, crapped out.

While I was in the shower no less.

I left it in fine working order, went to wash the sweat from my exercised body and came back to an ominous black screen with the horrific words "Operating system not found" screaming from the monitor.

Panic set in and the accusations flew, directed toward the nearest child - "What'd you do to my computer?"

"Nothing." The pat answer that always follows my special accusatory tone - you know the one, the tone only a parent can deliver.

"Uh-huh, right, really, what'd you do?"

"Nothing Mom - I didn't touch the computer!"

#2 - Don't blame your kids! They tend to get bent when it really wasn't their fault.

And her intensity told me she really didn't touch my sacred net book.

#3 - Follow the manufacturer troubleshooting guide *exception - see #4 below!

So I tried the cursory reboot. Nothing. Turned off, unplugged, counted to ten and rebooted. Same damn black screen.

Now panic laced its way into my mouth and my mind raced, calculating the last time I backed up my stuff. Not recent enough. A month, maybe more - oh no. What have I lost?

You see - I've already forgotten rule #1.

I kept telling myself to Chill - even while reading through the manufacturer website and walking through the troubleshooting methods.

Nothing. And now I'm really in a state of duress. My brain starts tabulating the cost of things I lost, like a whole slew of things I'm using for my not yet completed video trailers - ugh. Some of which I can't get back without paying for again, and believe me - they weren't cheap.

I tried again.

Still nothing but the black screen with the hideous words.

#4 - If you need your data - DO NOT DO A FULL RESTORE! Yes - this warning warrants all caps because if you choose this option, it will wipe everything out. A painful lesson I learned a while ago. However, in this instance, I couldn't even get to the restore function - so that wasn't even an option to get the computer working again.

So I call the manufacturer and we walked through the same process again with the same predictable results. Before we opened a service ticket, I asked the question: If I send this in, will they retrieve my data before fixing the computer?

Of course not. Ugh.

That was enough to set my heart leaping in my chest and the beautiful beach day outside our camper was lost on me. I started frantically calling local computer places and found one that would actually come out to where we were vacationing. Geek To You out of Newmarket New Hampshire.

#5 - Shop around for the best deal - both in computer repair and for external backup drives.

I now need something to back the data up for when my Geek savior arrives and I ran out to by a zip drive. The local drug store only has a 4 gig drive - not nearly big enough and the nice guy helping us suggests I go to Best Buy or Staples because I can get a bigger drive for half the price of the things on his shelf. Nice kid. Longer drive to these store than around the corner, but I took it and got a stellar deal on an external drive - one that's bigger than my computer - it could back up mine and my kids net books without issue.

#6 - Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

I got back to our camp and plug the external drive in, hoping it would work without an operating system after all - the box says just plug in. . .

Ok – I don’t know what I expected, but the external drive operated off windows, duh – and my system still didn’t recognize the operating system.

I know, not so bright, my Pollyanna view tarnished when nothing happened and I was forced to wait for the Geek team to show up.

In order to keep the frantic thoughts at bay, I spent the afternoon on the beach reading one of Lisa McMahon's books - FADE. Nice beach read that kept me engrossed enough to forget about my computer woes for a while – I recommend you pick this book up – great read. But I digress.

#7 - Sometimes patience pays off.

Well - Geek man showed up and after an hour of fiddling with the hard drive, he hadn't been able to recover the data. Blackness overcame me and I almost cried, but alas, he was willing to take it back to his shop and try some other avenues that he thought might be successful – and a bonus, he said he'd drop it off on Sunday before we left for home.

Saturday came and went and I didn't harp on the lack of a phone call – no with the beach beckoning and the cook out with the neighbors.

Sunday morning, the phone rang with precarious news. None of his regular avenues was able to recover my data. I momentarily mourned the loss of my stuff and then he gave me a ray of hope. He did find a diagnostic program that was currently running that MAY get it back - but it had already been running for eight hours and it was only through a small fraction of the drive. Did I want to kill the program and get the computer back or let it ride and he'd mail the sucker back to me once it was done?

Torn, I had to consider costs. What was the data I lost worth and what were his charges? I really didn’t want to get hit with a whopping bill – especially since the net book wasn’t all that expensive to begin with.

After a brief conversation on cost – and a very reasonable price tag attached if he was able to get the data back, I decided on waiting the program out. In other words, I had a rare moment of instituting patience into my reaction.

Long story short - On Tuesday I got word that the data recovery was successful! Talk about relief. I had gotten myself to the point where I was resigned to have lost the additions to my computer since the end of June.

And now I had it all back.

The moral of this long and winding story?

#8 - Back up your data - daily. This is probably the most important lesson within this post!

If you're in the states, particularly the Northeast, and need to get your data back - I'd suggest Geek To You out of Newmarket. They have a cap on data recovery costs and in my case, that cap was well worth it.

As I said above, my computer is due back today and they had to reload it, so I’ve got a couple days of downloads and uploads to do to get it back to where it was data and software wise.

Thanks for hanging with me for a bit today! Next week I have the wonderful and talented Stacey Cochran on my site.

Until we meet again . . .