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    Thursday, July 30, 2009


    If we're going to be honest with each other, I thought it was time to introduce you to the guy who REALLY has my heart. That's right--Richard Simmons! Richard first saved my life about 15 years ago when I suffered a severe back injury after being body-slammed across the footboard of a hospital bed by a psychotic patient. I was too afraid to move to go back to the free dancing that I loved and it was Richard's SWEATIN' TO THE OLDIES that got me moving again and re-built my confidence.

    I now own nine of his workout tapes and DVD's and have been fairly consistent over the years in doing them at least 3 times a week. I'm not a big believer in doing anything I don't enjoy. I hate treadmills. I hate ellipticals. I hate indoor bikes. But I love to dance! And since Richard's workouts are essentially dancing to some really cool music, I do enjoy them. (Plus he uses real people in the videos instead of buffed-out size zero freaks so you feel like, "Hey, if that 300-pound man can do that, so can I!")

    I'd been struggling a little with my weight recently as women of a certain age (22?) tend to do. I couldn't figure out why my bras were getting tighter in all of the wrong places. Then suddenly the missing ingredient of my exercise plan came to me! It was Richard! I'd quit doing the workouts when I was on deadline in and had never gotten back to them. And all of the biking and weight lifting in the world wasn't going to loosen up those bras. So I dragged out SWEATIN' TO THE OLDIES on Monday afternoon. By Tuesday morning (I kid you not), I had lost 4 pounds.

    As I was dancing that afternoon, a couple of other miraculous things began to happen--my mood began to lift and I started having new ideas for my book. I also had a really corny thought--When I do this, I feel like the person I'm supposed to be.

    I know. It's hard to believe an excercise DVD could have such a profound effect on a life. But when I'm sweating to the oldies and Richard gets that wicked twinkle in his eye and shouts, "You were born to be a star!", I almost believe him.

    Friday, July 24, 2009


    Almost three years ago, we lost our 20-year-old nephew Daniel to an accidental drug overdose. This is the first time I’ve been able to write about it.

    Daniel was a lean kid with a tender heart, a shy smile and more baggage from his childhood than even his broad shoulders could bear. No matter how tall he grew, I never let him get too big to give his Aunt Terri a kiss and a hug.

    We got the call on a Friday night that Daniel had gone home after his shift at Sonic, stopped breathing and was on a ventilator in Intensive Care. They found a combination of Ativan, Valium, Xanax and Methadone in his system. (I’ve since learned that even ONE Methadone can induce respiratory failure in some people). At first we assumed he was going to be okay, that this was going to be the wake-up call that would allow him to get the help he needed. As one person after another came forward, we realized that Daniel had known he was in serious trouble but had been asking the wrong people for help. This was not a suicide attempt. It was an addiction to the prescription drugs used for recreational purposes by so many of our kids.

    For three days the family kept a vigil at his bedside, crying and raging, pleading and praying. Since my husband and I are both nurses, we knew what it meant when the ICU nurses told us we no longer had to adhere to the visiting hours but could sit with him whenever we wanted.

    After a series of tests, the neurologist finally gathered us together to tell us that Daniel had been gone all along. That there was nothing left to do but say our goodbyes and offer his organs to someone who could keep some small part of him alive in this world. As I held his seventeen-year-old sister in my arms and promised her she would survive this, I’ll never forget her broken wail of, “But I don’t want to!”

    Daniel was more like a son than a grandson to my husband’s parents and watching Mike’s dad weep over his coffin was like watching John Wayne cry like a baby.

    After he was gone, I used to talk to his picture—I’d remind him of how much we loved him and yell at him for doing something so terribly foolish. Now I smile when I pass it and touch my fingertips to my lips, then briefly to the cool glass covering his face, knowing he is at peace and finally in the arms of the Father he always deserved. The Father we all deserve.

    If you know a kid that you suspect is in trouble, act. Open a dialogue. Confront. Get the rest of the family involved if you have to. Don’t just assume they’ll grow out of it.

    Because they might not get the chance.

    You looked as handsome as a sleeping prince in that hospital bed but my kiss could not wake you
    As I touched your cheek for the last time, you were everything to me that you would never be to any other woman—nephew, son, friend, brother, lover, father
    All I could do was lay my head upon your breast and weep my goodbye

    In memory of Daniel Lee Medeiros October 1985 - August 2006

    Sunday, July 12, 2009


    1) Avoid authors who are screaming, "LOOK AT ME!" and find someone interesting in the corner to talk to. (I discovered Shane Abe this way.)

    2) If author seems unfriendly, give her benefit of doubt. She may be a) shy b) tired c) distracted d) deprived of warm/fuzzy gene at birth or e) utterly devoid of social skills.

    3) Bars are a great place to meet authors and editors. Order yourself a club soda and lime and go cruising!

    4) Don't drink too much at RWA. Some authors are scary sober. Drunk they can be truly terrifying.

    5) Editors are people too and some of them are shyer than you are. If you're pitching a project, just relax and act natural.

    6) You'll know you've finally made it when editors start following YOU into the bathroom.

    7) Practice your editor/agent pitch as if you were pitching to Simon Cowell.

    8) Pantyhose are OUT. But if you have a complexion like Gollum (or me), pack them anyway.

    9) Yes, you ARE back in high school for 4 days. But now you have the confidence and social skills to thrive!

    10) When in a crowd of milling writers, it's easy to hide exactly who pushed who down the escalator.

    11) Allow time for at least 1 crying jag in hotel room. (Even more important for male attendees.)

    12) Leave hubby and kiddies at home. Slow motion pillow fights with roommates much more fun that way.

    13) Leave hotel every chance you get. Enjoy sunshine, fresh air, and people who don't care if they ever get published

    14) Always put on lipstick before you leave hotel room. Even if it's a fire drill. Even if it's a fire.

    15) If you want everyone to think you're an editor or agent, wear a lot of black but no name tag.

    16) Never talk about author/editor/publisher in bathroom. Odds of them being in next stall: 100%.

    17) Don't worry if U come out of bathroom with skirt tucked in panties. There are 2000 women 2 help. Or take pic.

    18) If U don't recognize somebody U should, tell them U left glasses in your room. Even if U don't wear glasses.

    19) Beg, borrow or steal an invitation to the Harlequin party and be prepared to boogie the night away.

    20) If an editor asks you to step outside for a smoke, go with her. It's never too late to start smoking!

    21) Always pack speech & make-up in carry-on bag. You can do w/o clothes if you have to.

    22) Nobody is really looking at YOUR 1) clothes 2) hair 3) fake nails because they're 2 busy looking at their own.

    23) An enormous chocolate sundae goes a long way toward softening grief of not winning RITA or Golden Heart.

    24) If your luncheon tablemate has this look in her eye...change tables.