In keeping with Valentine’s Day – who is my favorite fictional couple?

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’ve probably had dozens over the years, as a teenager I read a pretty diverse mix of books from the classics to science fiction (which, if they featured women at all, they made them male sex fantasies) to fantasy (Tolkien’s mentioned Arwen only briefly, but Eowyn was stellar) and a few standard romances (which were pretty unrealistic prince/millionaire types).  The old classical writers knew a relationship was essential to a story – Anne, Constance, and Milady De Winter were essential to The Musketeers.  Later novels seemed to lose some of that. (George R. R. notwithstanding – he wanted to show the abuse of women of a given time period, and went a little overboard.)
Fortunately, the depictions of relationships grew and improved.
F’lar and Lessa from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider series, a realistic depiction of a relationship with the inevitable ups, downs and conflict. It was the first time I’d seen relationships portrayed that way by a popular fantasy author.
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s vampire Saint Germain and his relationships, especially his love/friendship with Madeline de Montalia, is another great couple.
In romance novels, Cameron Quinn and Anna Spinelli – no alpha, just a relationship balancing careers, responsibilities, and life – from Nora Roberts Chesapeake Bay books, as well and Eve and Roarke from the J. D. Robb books. 
In my own writing, I tend to prefer relationships/couples as an essential part of any story – each is different, some are intense, some are more low key.
For more information:
https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI
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The simple joy of reading

Posted by on Jun 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The simple joy of reading

I’m a writer, and as a writer – especially a pantser who writes by the seat of their pants – I’m driven to write. But all writers, any writers, starts out as readers. (As Stephen King says, If you don’t read then you don’t have the tools to write.)
Then comes that moment when you can’t find the kinds of stories you love, or you ask yourself, “Why hasn’t anyone written this story….?” or “I miss these kinds of stories, why doesn’t anyone write these stories anymore?” or “Why do all the books I see look or seem the same?” So, you write those stories. You can’t help yourself, you pick up a pen or turn on your computer, and you write.
But every writer starts out as a reader. Good writers read all kinds of things, not just fiction, but also fiction.
For myself, I’ve read about various religions, I love reading about different cultures, I’ve read Sun Tzu’s the Art of War, biographies,and anything else I could get my hands on. Someone once joked that I’d read cereal boxes and skywriting. And that’s just the non-fiction. In fiction, I’m across the board – I like fantasy/sci-fi, mysteries, thrillers with a less conservative bent, and the occasional not-so-standard romance – like J. D. Robb’s futuristic mystery/thriller/romance In Death series.
Which brings me to the reason for this blog.
I had forgotten the simple joy of reading for pleasure, and I had a particular author who had written one of my favorite series – F. M. Busby’s sci-fi Rissa Kerguelen. So imagine my surprise to find that there was a book in the series that I had missed. As a writer, I like complex worlds and I like to write complex worlds, with less of the doom and gloom of say G. R. R. Martins Song of Fire and Ice. Busby wrote about our world that seems oddly prescient right now – a welfare state with a ‘lottery’ system that gives hope, but there’s more to that story.
To be honest, I’ve been struggling with my current work in progress – a prequel to one of my series. It’s complex, and sometimes dark, but I wanted an unexpected ending, but with that air of hope and possibility.
I needed a break, but I’d been resisting reading to stay in the story. Sometimes that’s a mistake, and I think this time it was.
Out of desperation, and to see if the story was one I had read, I picked it up and was instantly back in the complex world of Rissa and Bran Tregare, the political intrigues, and the struggles of her/their daughter.
Writer or reader, rediscover the pleasures of an old favorite author. Find a new book by them or reread an old one. Take some time under a favorite tree, or in a comfortable chair, or by an ocean or stream, and enjoy!

                                       http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI

The Coming Storm (Book One) Epic Fantasy
https://www.amazon.com/Coming-Storm-Valerie-Douglas-ebook/dp/B004WLOBG2

Song of the Fairy Queen
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004774N2S
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Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It always amazes me to find myself an ‘international author’. I’ve had sales in Great Britain, but it was a complete surprise to find I have sales in other countries as well, like Spain. Servant of the Gods and Heart of the Gods have done well there, while The Coming Storm series does well in Great Britain.
So, it was great to see I had my first sales in France for Nike’s Wings – a political thriller with a kickass heroine.
28 Amazon FR Paid > … > Action & Adventure
14 Kindle FR Paid > … > Action & Adventure

Description: With all she’d been through and her skills at parkour and freerunning, for the top secret group within the CIA Nike Tallent was the perfect candidate to be trained as the assassin’s assassin. Until she began to ask questions. Questions were dangerous.All Nike wanted was to be ‘real’ again, whatever real was… 
Ty Connor, ex-CIA, has just been named to head a new branch of Homeland Security – a fast-response group called the NIO. Nike has a chance at redemption and more…if she dares to take it.

U. S. link – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005GHE94K

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Sharing more about me – NASH – Non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis

Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Sharing more about me – NASH – Non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis
Selfie – me

I was diagnosed with NASH or fatty liver disease about three years ago now. It’s what’s called a ‘silent’ disease. It has no discernible symptoms, but it affects the liver. Badly. It resembles alcoholic liver disease but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. Like most or many people, I had the occasional drink – mostly wine. (And occasionally I overindulged, but not often.) After all, the recommendations were that wine, red wines especially, were good for you.

Per Medscape – “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most common form of chronic liver disease in Western countries with a prevalence as high as 30%, already exceeding viral hepatitis and alcoholic fatty liver disease.
NAFLD comprises of a wide spectrum of liver damage ranging from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis (NASH), to fibrosis and cirrhosis that can progress to liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Although NAFLD is strongly associated with obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, its pathogenesis is incompletely understood. Currently, the pathogenesis of NAFLD and NASH is framed in the ‘multiple-hits hypothesis’ where a number of diverse parallel processes involving extrahepatic factors (genetic and nutritional) may contribute to the development and progression of liver inflammation.”

Some people with NASH complain about fatigue, but I never had that. The only symptom I had was high cholesterol – something both my parents also had – but every time they put me on a statin, my liver enzymes would sky-rocket, so they’d take me back off.

The major feature in NASH is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage. Most people with NASH feel well and are not aware they have a liver problem. Nevertheless, NASH can be severe and can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly. A liver scan might show fatty liver, a biopsy will confirm it or show cirrhosis.

My family physician recommended a liver specialist, who didn’t diagnose NASH, but did charge nearly $3,000 dollars over and above what health insurance covered. YIKES! That was insane. And I felt fine. So, I didn’t go back.
(And, in any case, there’s no treatment for NASH, except changing your diet, losing weight and avoiding alcohol.)

What I didn’t know is that I was developing cirrhosis, an extensive scarring of my liver.
There’s no real treatment for that either, except for a very restricted diet – no carbs, none, no bread, rice, or potatoes, only meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and that’s it.
If you suspect fatty liver – especially if you’re overweight or have diabetes – you need to lose weight (as hard as that might be) and you need to exercise. You also need to stop taking any over the counter medications – even and especially painkillers like ibuprofen or Tylenol – or only take half doses.

Because of the negative connotations of cirrhosis – mostly commonly associated with alcoholism – many people with NASH don’t or won’t talk about having it. Given that the American fast food obsession (something I never shared) and diet (heavy on fat and salt) are the primary causes of the disease, that makes it an even more silent disease.

I do have some of the symptoms of cirrhosis, sometimes I feel tired or weak, have loss of appetite, or feel sick to my stomach. Waste materials from food have built up in my blood or brain and caused confusion or difficulty thinking. (Once I couldn’t even remember how to brush my teeth or open a bottle of mouthwash.)

Cirrhosis can lead to other serious problems:
You may bruise or bleed easily, or have nosebleeds.
Bloating or swelling may occur as fluid builds up in your legs or abdomen—the area between your chest and hips. Fluid buildup in your legs is called edema; buildup in your abdomen is called ascites.
Medicines, including those you can buy over the counter such as vitamins and herbal supplements, may have a stronger effect on you. Your liver does not break medicines down as quickly as a healthy liver would.
Blood pressure may increase in the vein entering your liver, a condition called portal hypertension.
Enlarged veins, called varices, may develop in your esophagus and stomach. Varices can bleed suddenly, causing you to throw up blood or pass blood in a bowel movement.
Your kidneys may not work properly or may fail. Keeping hydrated is essential. I keep a glass of lemon water or water with me all the time.
Your skin and the whites of your eyes may turn yellow, a condition called jaundice.
You may develop severe itching.
You may develop gallstones. (I no longer have a gall bladder.)

The only real cure for either NASH or cirrhosis is a liver transplant – not exactly a cheap alternative considering both can be managed with diet.

For the moment, I’m managing. Occasionally, I get a little depressed, and sometimes have to deal with the confusion – which makes writing a bit of a challenge.

I wasn’t raised to whine, though, so this will probably be the only time I’ll mention this.

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Why did I write my fantasy novels (The Coming Storm, The Servant of the Gods, and Song of the Fairy Queen)?

Posted by on Jul 26, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why did I write my fantasy novels (The Coming Storm, The Servant of the Gods, and Song of the Fairy Queen)?

Why did I write my fantasy novels? Because I missed high/heroic fantasy and I missed heroes and heroines – the kind of people you want to get to know, or aspire to be. The kind of people who run into burning buildings or who shield people many would say are getting their just deserts. Are they perfect people? Probably not, but in that one moment, they rose to the occasion and said “I will not let this happen”.

When Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, he envisioned the hobbits as the common people of England – not the wealthy or titled, but the ones who just wanted a good life for themselves and their children. Frodo, Samwise and their friends don’t intend to be heroes, they just want a little adventure. It’s the peaceful Shire, though, their home, and those friendships, that turn them into heroes.

That is what makes epic fantasy truly epic – ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

Click to go to the book

In The Coming Storm, I wanted to write about a people who had a belief system that emphasized being the best person you could be, to try to do the best you could for your people, and had an inviolable code of honor – yet they would be people you would still like, admire and want to get to know.

When I wrote The Servant of the Gods series it was at least partly because Anubis always got such a bad rap. He wasn’t a bad guy, his job was to help those who had died move on to the next world. I also wanted to write about someone who was willing to sacrifice everything for the greater good. No matter the cost. Even though the ending of the first novel is clear from the beginning, I still have readers who wish it were different. (Just FYI, it was always meant to end that way, the first and second books were written one after the other.)

Song of the Fairy Queen was inspired first by a work of art, then by the title (and a scene where Kyriay gets exasperated by this song inspired by her actions), but I also didn’t want to write a traditional ‘Fairy’ tale. In many fairy tales, the fairy are either twittering little things like birds, or cold and distant Fae. I also wanted to write about the price of leadership – the kinds of decisions and sacrifices that a ruler has to make for the sake of their people.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against anti-heroes, I just see more of them in fiction than in life. One piece of writing advice I’d always followed was “if the kind of book you want to read isn’t out there, then write it”. So I did.
It’s clear from the reviews that those themes resonate with some people. In the world we live in, that’s reassuring.

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