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Trip to Florida

After the hard time I had in December with that bad reaction to the new chemo drug, I was left quite weak and wobbly. I went back to physical therapy as soon as I could manage it, but Michael decided we could rest better and exercise more in Florida. So, on Saturday, January 12th, we flew into Tampe, then drove down to the family time-share in Englewood. We got in about 10 o’clock PM, and went right to bed, with the sound of the Gulf swooshing in our ears.

The next few days, we walked on the beach most every day. One drawback was that there was some Red Tide out on the Gulf, south of where we were staying, but people were coughing, and it didn’t take long for my asthma to react. We went up to Venice a few times, and that’s a nice town. I had a fried clam roll there…yum.

Almost every day we went beachcombing, looking for shark’s teeth. They’re a lot harder to find these days, because the currents have changed. But we found probably 30 or 40, and some of them were quite nice. A few shells also, though we have so many from previous trips to Manasota Key that we didn’t look for them too hard.

Every day I climbed the 17 steps to the timeshare unit at least two or three times. My physical therapist will be glad that I kept up with my workouts!

It was cloudy and rainy two days, and those days we went off to the movies. We saw “The Hobbit” again, and “Les Miserables.”

At the end of our first week in Florida, the breeze finally died down enough for us to go kayaking. We saw a lot of birds — great blue herons, smaller herons, ibis, storks, brown pelicans, white pelicans, and ospreys. Michael swore he glimpsed a bald eagle, but I wasn’t so sure.

I also found a nice stable, Branded Heart Stables, and went for a horseback ride. It was so much fun, though I knew I would be sore the next day, and I was. Getting up all those stairs…ouch! But it wore off pretty quickly.

On the Wednesday we were due to fly back, we drove to St. Petersburg and toured the Salvador Dali Gallery there. It’s a gorgeous facility, and they had some early works there on loan from Spain.

Then we climbed back on a plane, and came home to driving snow and 22 degree temps. Brrrr!

But we had fun in Florida, even though it was kind of a low-key visit. I am regaining my strength rapidly…I start the new round of chemo at the end of this month.

Michael will be posting some pictures soon. 🙂

My New Year’s Resolution

I’ve made my New Year’s Resolution, which is to try even harder to stay positive this year, as I enter a new round of chemo in a few weeks. I don’t mean positive as in “oh, I’ll be cured, and everything will be great, and I’ll win the Nebula Award.” I am too much a realist for that kind of unrealistic optimism. That would only crush me at some point.

No, I’ve decided to really savor the good days and good moments that come to me during the year. I’m grateful that the doctor has a new chemo drug to try, that has had some success. (You can bet she’s being very cautious with my dosage, and will check my blood a lot, after what happened with that other chemo drug — my idiosyncratic reaction to it that nearly wiped me out.)

I’m going to be grateful for my husband, and my family, and my friends. I’m very very lucky to have them. I come from a close-knit family, and it’s wonderful to have that support and love.

I’m also grateful for my pals on Facebook. You all cheer me on and entertain me. 🙂

With all those things going for me, I am going to work harder at being positive and grateful for the blessings I have. The government can fall off a Fiscal Cliff, but I’m standing tall, and resolved to see the half-full glass of water instead of the half-empty one.

Here’s to a better 2013, despite the number, than 2012! Happy New Year, everyone!

silent_passion_cover_largeHappy Holidays!

StarBridge fans and potential new readers take note: there is a “new” voyage to Trinity, one of our favorite StarBridge planets, “Silent Passion.” A shorter version of “Silent Passion” by my Trinity collaborator, Kathleen O’Malley, first appeared in the gay-themed, limited-edition anthology “Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction,” published by Meisha Merlin. This 12,000 word novelette features new characters and new problems for two humans assigned to work with the planet’s dominant sentient species, the huge white-winged beings humans have dubbed the “Grus” because of their resemblance to Earth’s whooping cranes.

For those who haven’t encountered Trinity before, it’s a world Kathy and I developed that was based on Earth during the Pleistocene era – a world filled with autumn colors and giant creatures…many of which have proved to be sentient. The two StarBridge novels about Trinity, Silent Dances (http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Dances-StarBridge-2-ebook/dp/B009MSQYDI/) and Silent Songs (http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Songs-StarBridge-Series-ebook/dp/B009MT420Y/), featured science fiction’s first Deaf protagonist, Tesa. Of Lakota Sioux heritage, Tesa’s first assignment upon graduating from StarBridge Academy proved more challenging than anyone – especially Tesa – could have imagined. In the sequel, Silent Songs, Tesa has to lead the humans and the inhabitants of Trinity against a relentless – and highly unusual – foe as they fight to repel an alien invasion.

To introduce readers to Trinity, we’re offering a special price for the holiday Kindle Unwrapping season. Starting today, and continuing through next month, Silent Passion will be on sale for 99 cents, and the two Trinity novels, Silent Dances and Silent Songs will be reduced to $2.99 each. For now, Silent Passion will only be on sale for the Kindle. If you’re interested in an epub version, email me at ann@accrispin.com.

Now is the time to visit Trinity, whether you’re a long-time StarBridge reader revisiting a world you loved, or a new reader, discovering it for the first time.

Enjoy!

Great news! The StarBridge books available for sale as e-books on Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.com have now been transferred back to me and my collaborators. We will be working to create new editions with different covers, updating the files to take Ridan’s name off them, etc., but the books — and the money — are now ours, rather than Ridan’s. Ridan cooperated on sending us the files, and we have confirmed that royalty payments have been paid. Ridan has NOT removed the books from its website yet; do not purchase my books there or on iTunes, where, for technical reasons, there is difficulty transferring the titles.

Re-launching the books with new covers will take some time, obviously. I’d also like to have them available in hardcopy and as audio books. We’re investigating ways to do that.

In the meantime, the current editions will be for sale on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Kobo.com, and the payments will go in their entirety to me and my collaborators. So if you were thinking of purchasing them, you can do so and know that your money will go to the authors and not Ridan. 🙂

Also, thanks to Robin Sullivan, Ancestor’s World, (StarBridge 6) should be appearing for sale on Amazon and B&N in a day or two, with Voices of Chaos (StarBridge 7) to follow in a week or so.

While this is obviously not what I had hoped for when I published with Ridan, I hope that all this publicity about the StarBridge books will bring them to the attention of more readers, and those who wish me well will consider buying copies, not out of charity, but because they are fun reads.

Update on Ridan Situation

Update on yesterday’s post: I got a phone call from Robin Sullivan of Ridan about an hour ago. We spoke cordially, and are attempting to work things out regarding the reversion and other aspects of my StarBridge books. I’ll keep you posted regarding progress. Thank you to everyone who shared my original post or offered help, particularly to Jim Hines. Thanks, Jim!

As of yesterday, I have terminated my contract with Ridan publishing. If you have been thinking of buying any of my StarBridge novels, please do not, at this time. In particular, please don’t purchase them from the Ridan website, because I have received complaints that Ridan is not filling orders for my books.

When I signed on with Ridan, it was a thriving company. I checked out their bottom line, and investigated them thoroughly. Their authors spoke enthusiastically about the company and its owner. But in the past six months or so, Ridan has pretty much stopped communicating with me. My last two certified letters, which included the contract termination letter, were never picked up at the post office. Even though StarBridge came out on December 5, 2011, I have never received a royalty payment from Ridan.

I know some of you were waiting for books 6 and 7 in the StarBridge series. Those books were turned in months ago, edited and ready to go, but they have never been released.

It’s my understanding that the CEO of Ridan had some serious personal problems last winter. I am sorry for that. But I have to think of my co-authors, and my series. In my opinion, Ridan has not, so far, acted in good faith. I wrote to them one last time yesterday, advising them of the steps they must take and reminding them that they no longer have the right to sell the five StarBridge they have released or the two they have not.

I hope that my email will be read, and all of this can be resolved in a civil fashion.

If you are interested in the StarBridge books, please know that I am not abandoning them. I plan to re-release them myself as soon as I can commission cover/graphic art, and we re-convert the files. Those who have purchased the Ridan titles should not be affected by this change. I’m very sorry it has come to this.

Cape Cod Trip

We had a wonderful time on Cape Cod. Victoria and Rob’s Cape Cod house is gorgeous. They renovated it from stem to stern, doing most of the work themselves. For pictures of the house, check out Rob Robertson’s FB page. Victoria has lovely taste, and the house is beautiful. Completely modern kitchen with a gorgeous backsplash, beautiful ceramic master bath, a spacious “great room” (dining room and family room) plus a more formal living room. Hardwood floors throughout. Incidentally, Victoria and Rob plan to rent the house next summer, so if you’re interested in renting it, do contact Victoria Strauss or her husband, Rob Robertson. The house has central air, and that’s a blessing, since most Cape rentals don’t! (It can get hot in mid-summer on the Cape, though usually the heat doesn’t last very long.)

The house is located in the “elbow” portion of Cape Cod, right in the center. We were maybe half an hour’s drive from most of the beaches, and we went to a different beach to walk almost every day.

We went to stony Chapin Beach, and picked up big and small rocks for Victoria’s garden and as a decoration in the house. The little beach pebbles were smoothed by the waves, and were quite lovely. Michael and Rob swam. Victoria is not a water person, and, due to my dialysis catheter, I can’t swim any more, so we walked in the surf, which was warm. If you go to Chapin Beach, water shoes are advised. The beach is very rocky.

We also went to S. Yarmouth beach, which was littered with dried seaweed and the carapaces of horseshoe crabs. They were everywhere, and some of them were a foot or more across.

Nauset Beach was probably my favorite. It was sandy and Michael, Vic and I took a long, long walk on it. We walked at least a mile, then turned around and hiked back. By the time we got back to our beach chairs and Rob (who was taking a nap in the sunshine) we were pretty tired.

We also spent time at Chatham Beach and First Encounter Beach. Chatham is a lot of fun. Every time we go to the Cape, Vic and I go shopping in Chatham. There are some great shops.

We went out to dinner at some very nice restaurants. One was the Yarmouth House, and I had lobster thermidor. I’d never had it before. Boy, was it rich!

We also got REAL fried clam rolls at Golden Boy and Captain Frosty’s. Real fried clams are the ones with the bellies. None of those insipid “fried clam strips” for yours truly. I’m from New England and I eat the real thing.

I also had so many lobster rolls that Michael and Vic kidded that I’d never get my fill. Well, by the time we left, I’d slowed down considerably, but I could still eat one, if it were offered.

I spent a day with horses with my friend Bill McMullen. He teaches dressage and trains some horses at an equestrian center in Dennis. I’m so proud of Bill! He’s a respected dressage trainer, rider and judge. And to think when he was a kid, I used to take him riding on his pony, Puff!

Probably the nicest dinner out we had was in Provincetown after Michael and I went on a whale watch. (Saw lots of humpbacks.)
We went to a restaurant we’d been to before, Napi’s. It was a really nice dinner. Then we drove home, stopping midway to do some stargazing on the beach, where it was nice and dark.

Victoria and I both cooked. I made homemade pizza and quiche, and Vic made her signature rissoto and a delicious pasta dish.

All in all, a great vacation!

Two Movie Reviews…

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I saw two films this week: the remake of Total Recall, and The Dark Knight Rises.

I can’t really recommend either of them, though I enjoyed Total Recall more. It was exciting to watch, but the whole concept of
“the Fall” was ridiculous. A machine that sends a transport through the molten core of the planent? And reverses gravity halfway through the trip? I’m no scientist, but even I knew th…at was just plain silly. Michael confirmed my complaint afterwards, and he DOES know such things. I remembered that the first “Total Recall,” starring the former Governator was silly, too. The set designs for this movie were visually arresting, reminiscent of Bladerunner with a large dollop of Inception swirled in. The acting was…okay. Colin Ferrell can do better, I’ve seen him do it.

We saw The Dark Knight Rises last night at the IMAX theater in the Air and Space Museum. At least that way I didn’t worry at all about security, since the museum checks bags and you walk in through a metal detector. A James Holmes copycat wouldn’t be able to smuggle in an arsenal.

TDKR was simply riddled with plot holes, and it was incredibly long. The best thing about it was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman… she made a really good Catwoman. Michael Caine was, of course, fine as Alfred. The actor who played the young detective was also good. The rest of the performances, including Christian Bales’s, left me cold. I just didn’t give a damn.

Most of my indifference came from the plot, which kept slapping me in the face with plot holes you could throw most of Gotham City through. Gotham City itself looked like some kind of weird cross between NYC and someplace I’ve never seen before. Isn’t Gotham supposed to be Chicago, or am I wrong about that?

My nether regions were really grateful when the film ended and I could stand up. My rear hasn’t been so atrophied from sitting in a theater since Michael dragged me to “trilogy Tuesday” to see ALL THREE of the Lord of the Rings films IN ONE DAY. The first two were the DIRECTOR’S CUTS. Let me tell you, by the time Samwise and Frodo were crawling up Mount Doom, I knew just how they felt. It was fun in retrospect, but an exercise in endurance at the time.

After finishing the Batman film, we drove by Shirlington and got a late supper at The Luna Cafe. All in all, a fun “date night.” Michael and I had a great time enumerating all those plot holes between bites. 🙂

I’ll Be At Shore Leave 34!

Next Friday I will be heading north to Shore Leave 34. I’m excited to be able to attend this year, since I missed last year. I’ll be doing a reading and autographing books, as well as participating in panel discussions.

Shore Leave and I go way back. It’s a great convention…something for everyone. The best-run fan convention I’ve ever encountered. Highly recommended!
http://www.shore-leave.com/

Update: Glad to Be Home…

I’m now home from a week in the hospital. Not a fun time, but I’m feeling better. My blood chemistry and kidney function basically tanked due to chemo, so I’m on hiatus from that for a bit, and am currently on dialysis. No idea yet as to whether it will be permanent. Docs say my remaining kidney may recover itself in time, if it gets a bit of help in its filtering job.

Dialysis in the hospital proved to be quite a bit like chemo — i.e., lengthy and boring, but painless. The main difference seems to be that it doesn’t make me sick afterwards, which is A Good Thing.

This week I’ll be starting outpatient dialysis in a clinic. I’m hoping to take my laptop as I gain strength and work on writing. Winds of Vegeance is calling to me. My characters need me — they’re all in terrible danger. (Which is pretty much as it should be, in the middle of a novel.)

I seem to be gaining both strength and energy — a good thing, as I went into the hospital pretty wiped out. Today I’m going to do some household chores, and go for a walk. Lucky for me that the DC area weather while I was shut up in the hospital was wretched, but now it’s turned quite nice.

Before I go, I have a question for y’all. So many of my readers only know my work from V, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, so I’m thinking of reading the first chapters of my StarBridge novels as podcasts. I’ve been told I have a pretty good reading voice, and I had some dramatic training back when I was young, during the Devonian Era. What do you think…would that be a way to interest potential readers in my non-tie-in fiction? Reading aloud for a couple hours per day is something I think I could manage. I’d be interested in your comments, folks!

I want to thank everyone for the many, many expressions of concern and caring I’ve received. They really do help boost my spirits.