Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

All this month has been about breast cancer awareness. But today, in celebration of Halloween, I'd like to make readers aware of my friend and critique partner's upcoming new release, Vampire Protector.

Amy Corwin is the author of multiple Regency romances, cozy mysteries, a family cookbook, and now, a super awesome paranormal romance with a twist you won't believe. I don't want to give the book away, but there is one part of the book that gives an explanation for a historical event that is truly imaginative. When I read it, I thought to myself, "Wow! If vampires really existed, this would be terrifying and make perfect sense."

Luckily, vampires are creatures of legends, horror films, Halloween, and some really great paranormal romances. So, without further ado, I give you my friend and critique partner, Amy Corwin.

Welcome Amy! When's Vampire Protector set to be released?

Hi Lilly—first, let me thank you for hosting me. It’s a privilege to be here and I’m truly honored. So…Vampire Protector is set to be released on November 12, 2010, and I can’t wait! This is my first paranormal and I’m really excited about it.

I can't wait to see it in paperback. It's a great story. How about a blurb, excerpt, and buy link?

Here you go, all the “news that’s fit to print!” There aren’t any buy links, yet, but readers should be able to get their copy on November 12 through The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and wherever e-books are sold.
Published: Nov 12, 2010, (e-book/paperback: Nov 12, 2010)
Publisher Line:  Black Rose
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Memories may mean survival, but will they help Gwen resist her vampire protector? 

Exploring Gwen's long abandoned childhood home in the company of her handsome neighbor, John, sounds like a brilliant way to break her dating dry spell and recover a few missing memories.  Unfortunately, that decision may be Gwen’s first mistake. Because John is a vampire and her house is not exactly empty.  Secrets—and the dead—won’t stay buried, and her memories aren’t all cupcakes and sunshine. Tragedy and horror struck her family once, and her presence may once more awaken the terrors that lurk in the depths of her house. John’s extraordinary strength and determination may be all that can withstand what awaits them in the dark
Reawaking the past may very well destroy all hope of a future.
Wow! That blurb gives me goosebumps. Just the thing for Halloween!

I read the original versions of this story--way back when it was still in the writing and editing phase, and as Amy's critique partner, I can tell you this is a great book. I've already mentioned one of my favorite parts. The big moment when that historical incident is explained. Without spoiling the story, Amy, what is one of your favorite moments in the book?

Chortle, chortle. Probably that same moment. Is that mysterious enough to drive our readers crazy, or what?

But seriously, I do have other, quieter moments that I adore. Moments such as those when Gwen visits her abandoned, childhood home and remembers her mother cooking in the kitchen. She even seems to smell the delicious aroma of a peach pie wafting through the dusty dining room and hears one of her mother’s LP records playing on the old console stereo…

And while this may seem odd, part of the reason I wrote this book was to help me deal with the death of my parents. Like Gwen, I wanted to relive those days of my childhood in the early sixties when there was always something freshly baked and sitting on the counter in the kitchen when my sister and I got home from school. I miss the way people always “dressed up” and wore dresses, stockings, and hats even to just go shopping! So a great deal of this book deals with memories, nostalgia, family, and overcoming grief in order to find happiness in the present—and future.

Family is everything. I'm lucky to still have my parents and I love them dearly. And I do remember a sort of nostalgia to the story. I liked it. Then again, I liked everything about this book and cannot wait to read the finished product. There's just something about the professional, editorial process that makes a good book sparkle and shine! And The Wild Rose Press has some awesome editors. But you have other publishers and books don't you? Want to mention just a couple of your favorites?

In addition to my new contemporary paranormal, I have started a series of historical romantic mysteries set in the early years of the 19th century—the Regency period, to be exact. They feature various hapless and often rascally members of the Archer family. I have two out with The Wild Rose Press and a third coming out from Highland Press in November.

Here are the titles:

I Bid One American, from The Wild Rose Press. An American heiress nobody wants; a duke every woman is after; and a murder no one expects.

The Bricklayer’s Helper, from The Wild Rose Press. A masquerade turns deadly when a murderer discovers the truth behind the disguise.

The Necklace, coming in November from Highland Press. A young woman, a scoundrel, and a family heirloom that might possibly be cursed...

I've read earlier versions of I Bid One American and The Bricklayer's Helper and loved them both. Now I have to get off my tush and order the published versions!
Okay, now that you're published in both paranormal and Regency, can you choose a favorite genre between the two? Or are you like me and love variety in your reading and writing?

It’s really impossible to choose between the two—I love history and the paranormal. Maybe that’s why even my paranormals have some historical elements. I think a lot of my interest in both was generated by reading old Gothics like those written by Virginia Coffman, Victoria Holt, and Barbara Michaels. I always wanted to “mash” the historicals together with Barbara Michaels to get a combination of spooky ghosts in the historical settings.

We're a lot a like in our reading and writing tastes. Although I'm only published in the paranormal genre, I have several historicals I'm hoping to publish in the near future. The main difference is that mine are set in Victorian England and the Industrial/Gilded Age (also known as Post Civil War) era America. So, what's next for you Amy. Any new books you're working on or have high hopes for publication?

Gosh—I really don’t want to jinx myself, but I have a contemporary mystery, Whacked!, under consideration at the moment. I received an update today indicating that it’s gone to the acquisitions committee, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high! As the saying goes, there’s many a slip ’twixt cup and lip. This story is a very light-hearted, cozy mystery set on the shores of North Carolina. It’s the first in what I hope will be a series of mysteries set in that area. But…enough about that…as I said, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

And to wrap things up, care to share a particularly scary Halloween story with us? Or maybe just an amusing one.

Oh, dear.  Scary. We’re just about the most mundane folks anyone would want to meet. That’s why I bought that skeleton for Halloween and hung it up on the tree under the “Beware of Dog” sign. That’s about as scary as it gets around here.

Well, wait, there was that nightlight thing. We had this nightlight with the motion detector that kept going on in the hallway, even though there was no one there to set it off. Even the cats—both of them—were draped over our feet every time it went off. The cats vehemently deny all responsibility. But for several nights running, it flickered on. And then off. And then on. It drove us crazy. If the cats hadn’t awakened us by attacking our feet under the covers several of the times this occurred, we might not have even noticed it.

So I moved the light to my bathroom. Now it behaves beautifully and only goes on when I stumble into the bathroom in the middle of the night to…well, you know. I’m getting older. These things happen when you age. You adjust.

What’s with the hall? No clue. You decide.
Let's just blame the cats. I always blame the cat in my house. The dog is never the culprit. lol!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Amy. And Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

To Screen or not to Screen

Should women under fifty get a screening mammogram? As a mammographer and breast cancer survivor diagnosed by a screening mammogram at age 47, I say YES!

But according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF,) a government-appointed, independent panel of medical professionals whose recommendations inform decisions by health professionals and insurers claims:

The benefits of detection and early intervention  by screening with film mammography reduces breast cancer mortality, with a greater absolute reduction for women aged 50 to 74 years than for women aged 40 to 49 years. The strongest evidence for the greatest benefit is among women aged 60 to 69 years. They also say that  for biennial screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years, there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is small and they do not recommend it.
But the truth is, every year 1-8 women will develop breast cancer. The statistics I learned while studying for my mammography boards were that 70% of all breast cancers are in women over age 50. One percent of all breast cancers are found in men. So, that leaves 29% of women younger than 50 who will develop breast cancer.

And that brings me to today's guest, Dr. Lori Gillespie, a Radiation Oncologist and my friend.When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, Lori was one of the first people I contacted for advice. And words alone can never express just how helpful and encouraging she was.

Lori, as a medical doctor and radiation oncologist, what is your opinion of the new USPSTF guidelines for mammography?

Most organizations are ignoring the USPSTF guidelines and absolutely urge women to have a screening mammogram before age 50.   The American Cancer Society (ACS), the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the American College of Surgeons recommends annual screening mammograms starting at age 40.  Also high risk patients should have a breast MRI.  High risk means BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, or a first degree relative with these mutations.  Prior chest irradiation between ages 10 to 30 such as with a mantle field for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is considered high risk.  Also certain genetic diseases such as Li Fraumeni, Cowden or Bannayan-Riley Ruvalcaba syndromes are high risk.

Okay, now a tough question and one you helped me answer. Mastectomy and chemo vs. lumpectomy and radiation or lumpectomy, radiation, and chemo. I had a lumpectomy, radiation, and chemo because I had DCIS and an invasive carcinoma. I know there are as many different types of beast cancer as their are types of breasts. I know you're not a breast surgeon, but you do help women make informed choices. So, what are some of the criteria you use when giving woman choices between lumpectomy and radiation or mastectomy. And do you ever recommend a mastectomy and radiation?

The original NSABP B-06 data compared mastectomy VS lumpectomy alone VS lumpectomy plus radiation therapy (XRT).  The lumpectomy alone patients had an in breast failure rate three times higher than the lumpectomy plus XRT patients.
(41% VS 12%)    This is why adding XRT to lumpectomy is standard of care today.
The National Cancer Care Network (NCCN) recommends post mastectomy radiation when the tumor is > 5 cm in size, > 4 lymph nodes are involved and when surgical margins are < 1 mm.   More recent data advises strong consideration for post op XRT when any lymph nodes are involved.

What are your feelings on breast reconstruction? Is there an age you believe is too old? Too young? Too soon after diagnosis? And what types of reconstruction are best? TRAM flap? Implants?

There is no age limit regarding lumpectomy VS mastectomy.   Some young women want a mastectomy.  Some older ladies want to save their breast at all costs.  It is really patient preference.  As far as the timing of reconstruction, some patients want to go to sleep with a breast and wake up with a breast after their mastectomy.  As a Radiation Oncologist, I like to have the final pathology report back before breast reconstruction.  Whether the patient has a permanent implant OR tissue expander VS TRAM flap OR latissimus dorsi reconstruction, the decision is completely between the patient and their plastic surgeon. Negative margins are always preferable.  It’s more difficult to adequately irradiate a reconstructed breast sitting on top of a positive margin.  I also warn women that irradiation of a permanent implant has about a 30% contracture rate over time, meaning the implant can become rock-hard and ultimately need to be changed.  When patients come for chest wall irradiation after mastectomy alone, I ask them to wait at least 6 months after completion of XRT before having a reconstruction.  As far as follow-up is concerned, it is much easier to clinically detect a local recurrence on the chest wall as opposed to in a reconstructed breast

Thanks so much for taking the time away from your busy schedule to guest on my blog.