My Psycho Eye Doctor

At last, you all get to hear the long, sad, sorry tale of my psycho eye doc.

No, really – she has major issues.

And me? I’m an angel. But I’m feeling a titch ranty on the subject, so: fair warning. Pretend we’re having martinis over lunch while I regale you with this story.

As we all sadly know, one of the most difficult aspects of moving to a new place is finding new service providers. I was due for my annual eye exam sometime around February, but I put it off because I just didn’t want to deal with finding a new eye doc, too. Then, sometime around the end of May, I lost a contact lens. Just one, but it forced the issue.

I asked around, got a recommendation, made an appointment – then discovered that doc wasn’t in my network. Canceled the appointment, checked my insurance network to find five eye docs in Santa Fe, all looking equally anonymous. I picked the only woman in the group, for the sake of solidarity and having no other criteria.

I have come to sorely regret that decision.

She works only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. No, I don’t know why. I call to make an appointment and leave a voice mail. A woman calls me back saying “This is Dr. Psycho’s office. I understand you’d like to make an appointment.” Yes, please, I say, because I lost a contact lens.

“What kind of lenses do you wear – hard or soft?”

“Semi-soft, oxygen permeable lenses.”

Pause. “All lenses are oxygen permeable. Are they hard or soft?”

“Semi-soft,” I say.

Pause. “What brand are they?”

Brand? “I’ve never seen a brand associated with my lenses.”

“There’s not a name on the peel-pack?”

“I don’t know what a peel-pack is.”

“So you don’t know what brand they are or if they’re hard or soft.”

By this time, I’m thinking this is the dumbest, most passive-aggressive receptionist I’ve ever dealt with. “Look,” I say, “I started out wearing hard lenses, then eventually moved to oxygen-permeable semi-soft lenses.”

“Well, let’s just make you an appointment and we’ll see.”

At last! So we make an appointment for June 5. Please note this is nearly six weeks ago.

Ten minutes later, my phone rings. Dr. Psycho’s office again. She launches into this thing about how she really needs to know what kind of lenses I’m wearing now. Slowly it dawns on me that I’ve been talking to Dr. Psycho herself all this time.

(Yes – I’m slow on the uptake. Turns out she has no receptionist, no staff. Does everything herself in this little stark and empty office. But I digress.)

So, she concludes, what she really needs are the records from my previous eye doc. This is a simple solution so I agree. Done, request to my very efficient previous eye doc (how I miss him!) sent.

I go in on June 5. I really am trying to be open-minded. We got off on the wrong foot on the phone. Clearly our personalities don’t sync. All I want is a replacement lens, because I’m wearing one lens from 2009 and an older one from, say, 2007. When I tell her this is what I’m doing on the phone, she laughs and laughs and laughs. In kind of a creepy way.

(geez – we already blew through the first martini. time to order another round?)

She does my exam. At this point I should mention that I’ve been wearing glasses since I was nine and contact lenses since I was ten. I’ve been through a lot of eye exams. Which is better: this one? or this one? Sometimes the choice isn’t a clear one. This one might look darker but this one might look crisper. When I say there’s a minor difference or none, she becomes impatient and insists I choose. She dilates my eyes, saying she’ll use just a small amount because light-irised people like us don’t need much. She puts in so much, fluid is dripping down my cheek. I regret putting on eye makeup.

She promises me loaner lenses and talks me into trying soft lenses from, yes, a peel-pack. She teaches me how to put them in and is shocked that I can do it quickly. I’ve been putting in contact lenses for over 30 years, I remind her. She explains the process again and tells me how difficult it is.

I agree to try the soft lenses for a few days, since I’m open-minded like that. Even though I’m pretty sure every eye doc I’ve ever had says soft-lenses aren’t for me because of my astigmatism. That’s not so true Dr. Psycho says. She’s all focused on my age and thinks I’m resistant to getting bifocals. I haven’t needed them yet, I tell her. You might need reading glasses she says. Before I lost this lens, I could see perfectly, I say. Yes, but you’re getting to the age where you need reading glasses, she says.

I sigh.

I tell her that my previous eye doc set up my lenses so that the center is for near-reading and the edges are for distance and it’s worked great. She shakes her head at me. She says no, no they weren’t – she’s seen the chart. In fact, she’s quite convinced my previous lenses were a mistake.

But I could see really well. This does not matter. I might need to think about reading glasses.

I don’t like the soft lenses. Comfortable, sure, but I can’t see very well. She asks me to read with them on and I say I can’t see the text in my lap. She frowns at me like I’m lying. I remind her that she dilated my eyes, so I won’t be able to focus well until they get back to normal. She laughs and says, oh right! she forgot!! and forgive her, because it’s just been such a busy morning.

I know it’s too late to make this short, but I’ll try.

I don’t like the soft lenses, so I call in and she orders the “hard” lenses for me, reminding me of the additional expense. She’s all about expense and discounts. I received a 10% discount on my visit. I don’t know why. I just want to be able to see. I go back to wearing my 2009/2007 lenses, which is a bit disconcerting because my eyes don’t quite work together right, but at least I can pretty much see.

On June 16, I go in. She gives me the new lenses in a case on which she’s sharpie marked a big R & L for which lens is which, even though the case is embossed with the letters already. She makes a point of saying she’s sure those are in the correct order.

I cannot see. She runs me through the tests and I can’t see a thing. I’m nearly in tears. She’s impatient with me saying I can’t see. I ask her if she’s sure they’re in the right order, because it looks a lot like when I inadvertently switch them. She thinks I just need to adapt because those previous lenses were such a mistake. I say I can’t drive home like this, so no way. Fine, she’ll order me new lenses. I ask if she wants to examine me with the 2009 lens in, which she never has, and she says no and launches into this explanation of why they were such a mistake, showing me the chart, which I can’t read because, duh, I can’t see.

At this point, I begin to actively hate her.

I stick with it. Just get through this. Small problems compared to, say, working in an Apple factory in China.

I call my previous eye doc for a sanity check. Dr. Everett King in Laramie, Wyoming. A prince of a man and a fine doc, if you happen to be in that neighborhood. He looks at my chart, looks at her determination of my prescription and thinks she’s partly confused because my eyesight has improved considerably. Ironic, since one of the bad effects of the evil mistake lenses was to be to worsen my eyesight. But the lovely Dr. King offers to order me replacement lenses and ship them to me if I can’t get ones that work from her.

I feel like someone has handed me a bouquet of roses.

(Let’s order dessert, okay?)

On June 23, I go back in. She tells me this time the right lens is marked with a dot. Clearly so I can’t screw it up again. She tests me. The lenses are adequate. I can’t see quite as well at all vision lengths, but I can see well enough. I’m out of there.

She wants to schedule me for a follow-up in one week. I say no, that would be the 4th appointment and I’ve been there enough times. She insists and I give in. July 10 – farther out than she likes, but I have family coming July 4 weekend and I don’t want to take more work time for this. She calls on July 3, saying I missed my appointment. I say no, it’s for next week. She says no, she had me down for July 3. I apologize.

My family, who hear the call in the car, ask what’s up and I tell them my eye doc is psycho. Why are you going back, they ask?

Really good question.

(Don’t worry – this is almost over. I’ll pick up the tab.)

So I leave her a message saying thanks for everything, but I’m not coming back in. The lenses are fine. I don’t mention I’m never coming back again, but I’m sure it’s implied.

She leaves me a nearly rabid voice mail in return, telling me it’s imperative that I come in.

I ignore it. But I save it, just in case I need it for, oh, say, a restraining order.

She sends me a freaking CERTIFIED LETTER.

When I see who it’s from, I nearly refuse it. Then I figure, she wants it for her liability. Fine. I accept. We should be done now.


I’ll let you all know if she contacts me again, at which point I’ll have to tell her to cease and desist.

So, let’s talk about you – what’s going on in your life??


Yesterday was a fun day. Release day is kind of like a birthday, where everyone is nice to you all day long.

Here’s my celebratory martini at the end of the day with my Twitter pals.

I toasted, then took it out on the patio to enjoy. It was a warm evening. Hot, in fact. Like mid-90s hot.

I know to most of you in the East and South, that’s not so bad. But for us at 6,300 feet, it’s unusually warm. After the sun set, we watched Daybreakers and by bed time it was still 85 in the house and I realized I didn’t feel good, I had been so warm for so long. So we did something we’ve never done before.

We turned on the air conditioning.

I know, I know – this is not a big deal for 99% of you out there. But David and I both grew up in the West, at fairly high altitudes, where air conditioning is not that necessary. In fact, none of the previous three homes we’ve shared even had air conditioning.

Plus, I generally don’t like air conditioning. I like fresh air, natural breezes and bird song. I don’t like cold air blowing on me so much. I resist having the ceiling fans on, even, for that reason.

So, we turned on the air conditioning and closed the windows. Let me tell you: that cool air filling the house was a sweet benediction. We’re lucky to have an energy/space efficient house, so the cooling was palpable. I immediately felt tons better, which just confirmed that I’d really gotten overheated.

I know air conditioning is a luxury. People lived for thousands of years without it, but they also got sick and died young. I know people bemoan the loss of the evening porch society, when everyone sat outside to cool in the evenings. Now they’re sealed inside, with their tvs and their interwebs.

But is sure is nice to have when you want it!

Release Me

According to the Blogging Handbook for Writers, since today is release day for Petals & Thorns, I must blog about that and only that.

Which means I have to save the story of my psycho eye doctor for tomorrow.

Some of us were getting a bit punchy on Twitter yesterday, reviewing the “rules” for how to behave on release day.

1. Must blog about it. @nwfoodie cited the Blogging Writer By-Laws, paragraph 291, sub paragraph J, section Z.

2. I should “SQUEE” on twitter every thirty minutes, the equivalent of squealing in excitement.

3. Tweet OMG! every hour, on the hour. (For Oh My God! if you don’t know.)

4. Use ALL CAPS for the ENTIRE DAY. Preferably with the phrase BUY MY BOOK!

5. Generally drive everybody nuts.

Okay, maybe somewhere in the middle of that is some truth. I’ve actually unfollowed people who were this bad. I kid you not.

So far, though, today is really fun. Lots of Twitter friends are wishing me Happy Release Day and announcing how they just bought it. I’ve decided not to mention it on Facebook, since I have clients on there and this one goes beyond the pale. Now I get to be nervous, wondering how everyone will like it…

Thus, with no further dithering. Here’s the official Loose Id plot summary. (Look! I’m on the home page! SQUEE!)

In exchange for her father’s life, Amarantha agrees to marry the dreadful Beast and be his wife for seven days. Though the Beast cannot take Amarantha’s virginity unless she begs him to, he can and does take her in every other way. From the moment they are alone together, the Beast relentlessly strips Amarantha of all her resistance.

If Amarantha can resist her cloaked and terrifying husband, she gains his entire fortune and will be allowed to return to her family and a normal life. But the Beast seduces her at every turn, exposing, binding, tormenting, and pleasuring Amarantha until she no longer knows her own deepest desires.

Increasingly desperate to break the curse that chains his humanity, the Beast drives Amarantha past every boundary. But her desire for a normal life may jeopardize the love that will save them both.

Yes, it’s Super Sexy. Don’t feel like you have to read it if this kind of thing is past your own boundaries. In fact, Loose Id includes a little Reader’s Warning on there, just so you know what you’re getting into.

However, should you wish to read, I know a little secret: I don’t see it on the site, but Loose Id’s Editor-in-Chief, Treva Harte, recently posted that all July customers at Loose Id will be entered in a drawing to win an iPad.


The Body Gift

I worked on the novel all weekend.

And it was good.

All day Saturday we sat under the grape arbor. I wrote, David worked on a project for his herb class and Isabel hunted a packrat through the grape vines.

All day, she hunted this rat. At one point, it came crashing through the leaves, hit the ground and dashed over to the massive climbing hydrangea to hide. That was a dramatic moment though. For the most part, her project was as quiet as ours: lots of stalking. The occasional creeping over the vines and wires, pink jellybean toes wrapping for purchase.

She sat in the sun on the adobe wall for so long she had to retreat to our shade and lie there, panting.

And I’m nearly done. I think I have about 25 pages to go. It’s been slow-writing as I tie in each plot thread. Much like the beginning of the book, the ending has seemed to require that I immerse. I only wrote about 4,000 words over the weekend, but I was in it for hours all day Saturday and Sunday. When I started back in February, I did the same thing: low wordcount, lots of noodling.

I’m excited to see it come together like this, seeing moments from early in the story bear fruit.

I’ve decided on a working title: The Body Gift. The ending is confirming that choice, with all kinds of resonance. Of course, I don’t delude myself that the title will make it all the way through publication, but I’m happy with it for pitching and querying.

But now: to finish.

Sunsets and Priorities

A sunset photo seems appropriate to end our week. The end, at least, for those of us still working the day jobs.

I feel like the day job ate my brain this week. I’m happy to have this project to work on, and it’s interesting, but it’s taken a lot of thought and decision-making.

There’s that saying “No one pays you to think.” Except they actually do. Not always an easy thing to deliver.

So my wordcounts have gone down as the week progressed:

Monday 1808
Tuesday 1647
Wednesday 1503
Thursday 526

Yeah – worked late Wednesday getting something done before a Thursday morning meeting. It shows.

And yes, I hear you all out there telling me to ease back the pressure on myself. I’ve passed 91K now. My original goal was 90K, but the story has become longer than I thought. It will probably take another 10K or so to finish the story and I’m trying not to rush it.

Actually – it occurs to me writing this that I’m worried the end isn’t moving fast enough when the worst thing for me as a reader is a rushed ending. That may be key.

At any rate, I’ll work on it this weekend, I think. I had planned to go to the LERA meeting tomorrow and go shopping for clothes for the National convention after, but I’ve decided to stay home. It’s easy to put focus on things like outfits for pitch sessions and costumes for the Steampunk Ball, but the most important thing is this novel I’d like to sell.

Meanwhile my childhood home is officially on the market. If you click on the panoramic link, you can see the tour. (Hey – it’s a Friday. What else are you going to do?) My mom and her David have done an amazing job of getting the house ready. It’s a lovely house, too, if you know anyone looking in Denver. I walked to elementary school out those back doors and through the park.

The worst thing that ever happened to me was when Chris Rieber stole my tap shoe and dropped it through the ice in the creek.

May the next people to live in that house love it as much as we have all these years.

Follow Me, Up and Down, All the Way, All Around

4th of July was the perfect day, complete with an outdoor pancake breakfast, a parade, margarita snowcones and lots of enjoying life.

We even got a mini-parade in preview, as the parade horses came by our house on the way.

(No, I don’t know why I didn’t get a better picture than this.)

Here’s the beginning of the parade itself, which consisted of ten different emergency vehicles, all very shiny. Sometimes I think our rural area parades serve that purpose, to show off our protective equipment. Not unlike having the army march past, I suppose. All those shiny trucks allow us to have homeowner’s insurance and therefore mortgages and therefore homes to live in out here.

All hail the mighty firetruck! Honk! Honk!

My cousin emailed me yesterday with an interesting question about my blog.

(Hi Janie! I will write you back, as well.)

She said:

Can you teach me something please. Why would one sign into a blog? Why do you have members? I read your blog but you would not know it, though I love it. Am I supposed to sign in?

I thought it was worth answering here, because lots of people ask this question, actually. First off, if you don’t know what she means, if you look on the right hand side, there’s a list of my “Followers.” In truth, those fine people follow the blog, not me. Though the idea of a little tribe of followers is appealing. Like that movie (no, I don’t remember which one) where the guy hired the band to follow him around and play his theme music.

The first answer is, no, you don’t have to sign in. You don’t have to “follow.” Some bloggers get het up to get people to sign up as followers. They run contests – “all you have to do is follow this blog and comment on this post” – or send messages out on twitter, etc., saying “follow my blog!”

I don’t do this.

I love to see new followers, but I find trolling for them kind of distasteful. I believe you all should be free to come and go as you wish. I’m putting this out there. You owe me nothing.

The reason people want followers is to demonstrate a “platform.” Theoretically at some point you could show an agent or editor that you have umpty-billion followers and they’d extrapolate that all those people will buy your book. Never mind that you bribed them all to sign up in the first place.

There are two main reasons one would sign on to follow a blog: to show support and for ease of reading.

I follow blogs I like to let the person know that they have my support. Among bloggers, this is common courtesy and people will usually reciprocate follows, though it’s far from required.

The other big reason for me is ease of reading. Because I have a Blogger account, I have what they call a dashboard. It pops up and shows me who has posted recently on the blogs I follow. This is a wonderful feature for me. Any of you can set up a blogspot account ( and use the dashboard. You wouldn’t have to create a blog to do it. There are other programs that do this, too, (Google Chrome, maybe?), but I’m not familiar with them. This saves you clicking through all the blogs you like to see if someone has posted recently.

And I do kind of know that you lurkers are out there. I have a counter that follows metrics of visitors to the blog. I can see which days see a lot of visits. It’s easy to get obsessed with the metrics, though, so I don’t look often.

A lot of you comment to me – on Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, via email or in person. All of those conversations mean a great deal to me.

Once I figure out my theme music, I’ll hold auditions.

Swarms and Sobriety

Saturday night over the weekend turned out to be so gorgeous that we scrapped our plans to eat at the delicious-but-no-ambiance Mariscos la Playa and instead drove out to Rancho de Chimayo, to enjoy their lovely patio.

On the way back, they had all highway traffic funneled through a sobriety checkpoint.

My mom and Dave were horrified, because they’d asked my David to drive. We debated whether he should admit to the margarita with dinner. The cops didn’t ask, though.

They had cops of every brand on site, including the Tesuque reservation police. Cranes shone down bright spotlights on the stopped traffic in both directions. Our interrogators were downright cheerful, however. Clearly they’d been carefully trained. One cop on David asked to see his license, where we were coming from and oh, was dinner at Chimayo good? Meanwhile another cop talked to me in the passenger seat and my folks in back. She asked if we were having a fun and safe night, even as she shone the flashlight around our feet.

They sent us on with cheery goodbyes. It was kind of surreal.

When we got back to the house, the rains had brought out a swarm of beetles. We had to leap over them to enter the house. Turning off the porch light slowed their frantic activity, but all night we heard them, banging against the screens, like little zombie insects frantic to get in and eat our brainz…

In the morning they were gone. Though I still see one toddling along here and there. A lost remnant of the zombie beetle tribe.

I’ll break 90K on Sterling today and I’ll be done within the week. This also feels surreal.

I’m pleased to report that my crew has finally arrived at the Midsummer Festival. I’m oddly not enjoying this part so much, because things have gotten very bad. I know it’ll get better soon and there will be some triumph to mitigate the disaster, but right now it’s very bad for my heroine. And I feel quite close to her.

It’s also hard to believe we’ll wrap up our time together so soon. I’m tempted to drag it out, even. I know there will be revisions and polishing. Then, perhaps, the sequel. Or another story altogether. I woke up this morning wondering what I’d be writing next. It’s probably good that I’m thinking about it, but I also can’t quite envision it yet. Which is likely also a good sign.

And then I’ll send it to the agent who called it a stellar concept with a cheery goodbye and wait.

Just another step on the road.

Best Laid Plans

In A Fish Called Wanda, Kevin Kline plays the unforgettable character of a thief who is both obsessive and stupid. He smells his own armpits for reassurance of his masculinity; he asks why a family names their daughter, Portia, after a car.

But my favorite line is when, vibrating with angst, he clenches his fists and yells out “Disappointed!”

Yes, after our bad start to Friday and the highly unusual rain storm Thursday night, my folks arrived to a gorgeous afternoon. We prepared everything for our elegant tailgate dinner at the Santa Fe Opera.

And ANOTHER torrential rainstorm came in.

We ended up picnicking indoors. Here you can see a break in the rain, but one cell after another came through, pounding us with unbelievable amounts of water.

We made it to the opera, which is largely covered now. But it continued to storm the whole night. Madame Butterfly sang of too much brightness and springtime, even as violent lightning cracked, thunder undercutting her arias, and blowing rain drenched her from the side. At one point a whirlwind took up the flower petals she’d scattered to welcome her husband’s return.

When we left, we had to wade through ankle-deep water in our fancy shoes to get to the car.

But it was still a fun night. Just disappointing not to get to enjoy the evening as planned. The next three evenings were clear, still and gorgeous.

So it goes.

The good news is, Teddy is doing better. The vet says it’s kidney disease, which is not surprising in the geriatric kitty. He wants to manage it with decreased protein, which I’m not convinced works for obligate carnivores like cats. We’ll see. Meanwhile we’re trying some alternative remedies and she’s feeling much more like her old self.

I didn’t write much over the weekend, but I did relax. Which was good for me.

Now I’m back to it. We’ll all settle back into our routine for the next few weeks. Less partying, more producing.

Let the rain fall as it will.

Rainy Days and Sick Days

I’m the kind of person who sees this as an omen.

Even as I know how irrational that is.

These are the shattered remnants of the big ceramic rain catchment that was one of the first things I bought when we moved here. With birthday money.

We had this rain last night, courtesy of Hurricane Alex, who’s been demoted to a tropical depression. Torrential rain. I was in the kitchen, making a secret, special, surprise treat for our elegant tailgate dinner at the Santa Fe Opera tonight, when I heard this clatter.

We couldn’t figure out what it was, until David checked outside. I think the soil became so saturated that, with overflow pouring over the side, the big vase listed to one side and, like the Titanic, sank onto the patio and shattered.

You can see how one piece of it still rests on the branch I had in there so that critters who climb in for water can climb back out again.

(This does not work for beetles, however, who gleefully drown themselves. I don’t know why.)

So, I try not to read in too much. But Teddy is sick today. She was sick yesterday and I thought maybe it was just a bug. But she’s still not well today, so I have a call in to the vet. Right now she’s sleeping in the sun, which makes her warm and happy.

I have a feeling it might be diabetes.

Teddy will be 15 in October, so I think I should get some more years with her.

Hopefully we can work that out.

Blood and Roses

Finally a cover for Petals and Thorns!

This is my little erotic take on Beauty and the Beast coming out with Loose Id on July 13. The link only takes you to a placeholder right now. I almost waited to post the cover until people can at least pre-order and then I thought, hey, I can’t not post the cover as soon as I get it.

I think they did a great job. I love that you can see the Beast’s claws and that the artist, Cris Griffin, took my suggestion of a bloody rose. It works out especially well because Robin of Robin Ludwig Design made me business cards with a very similar image (ah, the consistent world of stock photography). She also adapted it for me to make a third “doorway” on my website for the erotica stuff.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I’ll get that up any day now, here.

And if any of you are wanting a high resolution image of the cover, I’ll put it there. Blood and roses. Flowers seem to be a big part of my life lately. I’m not sure what that’s about.

Full bloom days.