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Writing To Stress Writing For Stress

Now, I want to start by saying I am NOT having heart problems.

Originally I was going to start with, "So I went to the doctor to have my heart checked ..." Which would have been foolish, because people actually care about my health. The dog cares. My wife cares. The fire department would have to set up a funeral detail if I kicked the fire bucket, so they care. My insurance company? They totally care.

In fact, lots of people care more than I do. They would have dragged me to the doctor right away if they'd known that a while back, I started getting this fluttering feeling in my chest. It was as if my heart was trying to do a Mexican Hat Dance around my major aortas. It would come around long enough for me to get concerned, then go away, at which point I did what most men do: Ignored it.

See, this is why I never bought into this whole gender equality thing: Women are clearly superior to men. They have a problem, they go to the doctor. Men have a problem, they watch football.

Anyway, I got some testing, the electrodes were cold, ripped my hair out, yadayada, my heart is fine. The problem is stress. Those of you who follow my blog may have figured that out already--it's been a rough year. My stress levels are high. Also my pain levels are high, due to chronic back pain acting up a lot more than usual, which causes stress. The other day I missed a fire call because I was on the chiropractor's table. Welcome to my fifties.

There were several related health things that could, experts say, help reduce my stress:

Lose weight. (Which would also help the back pain.) Yeah, going into winter and the holidays ... even thinking about it increased my blood pressure ten points.

Exercise. This is an awesome idea at all times. Especially when my wife's seasonal job is shutting down for the winter, leaving me without the long hikes I was taking four or five days a week. Sheesh.

Cut down caffeine. No problem, I'll just quit my third shift job, and leave behind the stresses of paying for heat, electricity, food, housing ...

Looking back on that list, I realize I've got it pretty good. Lots of people in the world have no access to Mountain Dew. Can you imagine?

But at the moment it's all about getting stress out of my life, and I take 911 calls for a living, so it's not going to happen that way. So I've cut my Mountain Dew consumption down to exactly one can a day, about a 75% decrease; I've started using honey instead of sugar as a sweetener; and we're making some wintertime exercise plans. Small steps. Also, I'm skipping all holiday treats this year.

Kidding! Let's not get crazy. But okay, cutting down.

We live in stressful times, and there's only so much we can do. I suppose I should start some new-age type stuff--breath in the lotus position or something--because, apparently, the stress is going to kill me. But since I'm not a new-age type person, I've decided to spend as much time as possible this winter doing the one thing that relieves my stress the most.

No, not that. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Writing. Not selling, promoting, or submitting, all of which increase my stress levels. (Although I do have three completed but unpublished manuscripts, so those other things have to happen, too.) Writing and reading are two things that always make me feel better. In November, especially, I hope to do a lot of writing, which will reduce stress and give me something to show for it. And take my mind off the treats.

Or my head will explode, which is very stressful.

"Belly rubs reduce stress. So get over here!"

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Reviews Are the LIfeblood of Vampire Books

I just added in the vampire part, but if you want me to write a book with vampires, hey -- I'm game. Not literally game. I suppose I should specify, with vampires.

But seriously, this is a call for all of you who've read our books to please, please, give us a review. Amazon, Goodreads, wherever--authors these days live and die by reviews, and hey--I don't want to die. Not without a review.

(I've heard Amazon is zapping reviews that aren't "verified"--in other words, from Amazon buyers. I guess that makes Goodreads a place to go for getting them counted.)

There are several websites I've checked out, with the idea of posting ads for our books on them; especially Radio Red, the newest, which has been getting little traction even though my publisher has it up on the Simon & Schuster website. (If you're not aware, they're a very big publishing house, which is distributing all my romantic comedies via e-books.)

The problem is, websites devoted to helping writers with publicity are being overwhelmed with requests right now. As a result, many of them won't take on your book unless it has a certain amount of--yep--reviews. In other areas *coughAmazoncough*, word is some websites use algorithms that keep your book from getting noticed until, well, it's noticed, and reviewed. Catch-22? Yep. I wonder how Catch-22 would have done in modern times?

I guess I could have just shortened this to: Please, send in some reviews of whichever of our books you've read, and make sure they're honest ones, no pulling punches. I have zero dollars in my bribery budget, so we might as well have the truth. If we get, say, ten new reviews overall, good or bad, I'll ... I'll ... hm ....

Oh, I know! I'll record a video of me reciting one of my own poems, and post it for all to see. Yep.

Guess I'd better go write a poem now, just in case.

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Albion Fire Auxiliary Holds Fundraiser

The Albion Fire Auxiliary is having a Sportsman Raffle Fundraiser, to support the Albion Volunteer Fire Department's efforts to purchase fire equipment not available through their limited budget. Only 500 tickets are being sold by firefighters at $10 per ticket, or 3 tickets for $20. A Remington Model 770 .270 caliber Hunting Rifle with Scope is first prize, a Parker Bushwhacker Crossbow Hunting Package is second prize, and a Case Hunting Knife is third prize, with the drawing date of November 11th.

The Albion Fire Auxiliary has recently become incorporated as a Nonprofit 501 c 3 organization, so any donations are fully tax deductible. It's the mission of the Albion Fire Auxiliary to support the Albion Volunteer Firefighters' efforts to better serve their community and its emergency needs.

For more information, contact Project Chairperson, Bryan Peterson at 260-564-1995.

For those of you who aren't into raffles or perhaps don't live close by, don't forget that all the proceeds from our book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department also go to the AFD's operational fund. Like the raffle tickets, a copy is only $10, or less as an e-book.

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A few years ago my Blogger posts averaged maybe fifty views. This year they've been averaging around 150, give or take. My most recent post, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction, is within two of hitting 700 views.
Unless I've missed one, it's a record for my blog views. What am I to make of this? That BtVS fandom isn't dying? That a lot of people haven't forgotten when I was active in the fanfiction community? That it was a slow news day?
It's been two years since I wrote a fanfic, having gotten busy with original fiction and the more un-fun aspects of life in general. This makes me wonder if I should go back to what I originally planned to do, when I first got published: Write a fanfiction to celebrate every milestone of my original fiction journey, like selling a story, completing a manuscript, or seeing something published. It might bring more attention to my original fiction, but--and we all need this--it would also be fun.
Or maybe it was just a slow news day.
Or ... jeez, I just now thought of this. The title of the blog was "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Fanfiction: A Very Bad Idea". Suppose people turned in to see why I thought fanfiction was a very bad idea? I've always been bad with titles, but was "A Very Bad Idea" a very bad idea?

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