Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wishes and Prayers...

When I was growing up, my grandmother used to caution me, "Be careful what you pray for--you may get it." It wasn't until years later that I understood the underlying truth behind her words and learned to pray instead for things to work out.

Often our wishes and prayers are based on faulty information or partial information so the things we ask for aren't really what we would want or need if we had all the facts. The thing is--we can't know another person's heart. We barely know our own. And we can't live in another person's mind. Goodness knows it's tough enough living in our heads. So when we pray or wish for certain events to happen, we don't really know if that would be the best thing or not.

In my lifetime, I've had heated discussions with the Creator, questioning his wisdom and omniscience, because I didn't have the whole picture. Only in hindsight do I see how straight the path was though it certainly appeared to be crooked and hilly when I was traveling along it. When I despaired at the detours, they were really bridges over troubled waters. When I was impatient at the road blocks, they were much needed rest stops.

I've now reached an age where I'm more content to wait on the future. So much of my life I was in a hurry to get there that I nearly missed the journey while striving for the destination. Each of us is exactly where we need to be at this time on our life's journey. Enjoy.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Perchance to Dream...

If I dream... it's rare for me to remember. But once in a while I'll dream about something strange and bizarre. I suppose by definition all dreams are strange. The dreams I've remembered have a distinct logic to them. They aren't disjointed or disorganized. Within the dream itself, it's always in perfect order.

About six months ago I dreamed that a catastrophic event was going to happen in a city. I didn't recognize the city, but I knew the threat was real and I had a slim chance to avert the disaster. The key was the task I had to complete in a limited time. A series of large buttons were installed at various points across the city. I had to ride a subway from point to point, pushing the buttons in a certain sequence, pushing the last button before the catastrophe was unleashed on the city.

I don't know what the catastrophe was. I only know that I woke up knowing that I wouldn't reach the last button in time.

It was a disturbing dream for me because the logic was real. As I rushed from button to button, riding on the never-ending subway, I was firmly convinced that I was the only hope for the city. And I knew there was no one I could ask for help.

As I look back on it, I think many of us are tied up in our little dream worlds, rushing from point to point, certain that we are the only hope for our cities. Eventually, we reach the final point only to fail. And I wonder if we would have succeeded in saving our cities if only we had reached out for help... if only we had not tried to do everything ourselves. I wonder...


Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Alternate Condom

So I went Googling today. Subject? Alternate uses for condoms. Really, you say? Really. In my current story, I wanted some other reasons my heroine would have for toting around a large box of condoms. No don't ask, but trust me, it was an interesting research project.

Along the way, I read all about the history of the condom... including the condom developed way back when in Japan--using thin sheets of horn or tortoiseshell. It didn't sound like it would be comfortable on a whole lot of levels.

And there were other pitfalls along the way. For much of the seventeenth through the early twentieth century, condoms were illegal. The early feminist movement was opposed to condoms because they gave men the power to make reproductive decisions. Hmmmm. And in what way is this bad?

Anyway, alternate uses for a condom. If you're ever in the wilderness and need a water bottle, whip out that condom in your wallet or back pocket, rinse it out well and fill 'er up. Tie shut. Nestle in crook of arm as you would a baby. One emergency water bottle.

If you find that you have a burning urge to take a picture underwater or if you just want to "water proof" your camera, whip out another of those condoms and slip the camera inside. Tie shut. Ditto for the cell phone. Or other small electronics.

So you're camping and you sense a rainstorm about to descend. Pack your matches and extra tinder in a condom to keep it all right and tight until after the storm. Actually, just keep it in there because that morning dew is also a match killer.

One enterprising young man ran out of clean socks and used condoms instead. Now I'm not sure I would go there except if my shoes were wet, that might not be a bad idea--especially if I had a very thin pair of cotton socks to slip on first. In that same vein, a condom over each glove would keep the hands dry in a snow storm.

A slightly perverted cook used a condom to make a giant boiled egg. Ummm. Well, if you really want to know, e-mail me at and I'll send you the url. It worked quite well, much to my surprise.

Another young man used condoms to make some seriously funky party lights. Since my book takes place in the wilderness, I didn't particularly find that one useful, but it was interesting.

In one of the smaller African nations, the natives use the lubricated condoms to polish their shoes as shoe polish is far more expensive than condoms. Picture that...

And in India, the sari makers use lubricated condoms on their sewing machines to keep the thread from tangling. They also use them to polish the metallic threads.

The military also has several secret ways that they employ condoms but I suspect it I tell you what they are they'll deploy me someplace really cruddy so we'll just let you use your imagination.

If you thought there was only one reason to have a box of condoms around the house, think again. How about you? Do you have a nifty alternate way to use a condom? Speak up!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work please?

I'm sure that it's not news to anyone that we're in an era of limited jobs. In some states, the governments are considering releasing prisoners because of short funding. I haven't quite figured out what the states think the released prisoners will do for food and shelter. Some might even commit a new crime so that they can return to jail. Or as one guy in Taiwan did, they might ask the police to return them to jail.

In a free market economy with an excess of over qualified candidates, the newly released prisoner is not going to be the first choice for the job. Yet, former prisoners have all the same basic needs as the rest of us. They need shelter and food... and a job.

Like most Americans, I have members of my family who have spent time as guests of the state or county. They've put in their time and have been released. But for them there are no jobs. In a society that pays lip service to the idea of incarceration as full payment for crime, we are strangely intolerant of the new releasee. That taint of prison hangs on for the rest of their lives. So in truth, restitution is never over--even for the most minor of crimes.

In our current financial crisis, it will only get worse. When former prisoners are perceived as taking jobs of fine upstanding citizens, tolerance will be non-existent. What then are these men and women going to do for food and shelter?

Many cities already have huge homeless populations. Families have lost homes and jobs and live in tent cities and cars. Isn't the early release of prisoners going to exacerbate the problem?

I watch the chasm between the haves and have-nots widening daily and wonder at what point the have-nots will be desperate enough to join forces and take back the necessities of life from the haves. Then what will happen? It is a perilously thin line we walk between comfort and homelessness.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I needz a cozy!

It's freezing here! Brrrr. As I sit typing this, my nose is cold. My knees are cold--and I'm wearing long pants. I have a small afghan across my lap. I live in Baltimore and it's not supposed to be cold!

Now, I'm sure that there are places that are colder. Truly. But it's all a matter of what you're used to. If the normal temps are in the forties and then suddenly the temp drops to the twenties, then that's cold. Add in a brisk wind and you have the makings for an uncomfortable day or night. If on top of that you're like me with a patio door that leaks like a sieve, then there you are. Cold.

It's enough to make you thankful for a place to live, though. Very thankful.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Fries with that?

In my checkered past among the many jobs I had, I worked for McDonalds. Ah yes, the golden arches. Back when I started work at McDs, there were no computers. All the orders were taken with pencil and paper. Every special grill order was handwritten. We added the order up in our heads--including the tax!

This was in the days before the ubiquitous drive-thru. If you wanted a hamburger, you had to park and walk inside. The first day I worked at McDonalds there was a five-for-a-dollar special on hamburgers and the place was mobbed. A young man served as my back-up, bagging hamburgers as fast as I could complete the order. It was only later that I discovered he was the manager.

A few years later the drive-thru came to town. I was already serving as the crew chief and trainer so training the crews for four stores fell to me. Now at this time, I lived in Houston where they talk southern. I cannot begin to describe what that sounds like over a speaker--from either end. Just trust me when I say that you were never sure what you were going to get when you ordered.

Before they corporationalized all the fast food joints, there was real adventure in working at McDonalds. We had drama and danger, hilarity and pathos. Now... not so much.

An itinerant group dropped by our store, hanging out in the parking lot, pan-handling for money, and peeing in the bushes (notwithstanding the fact that we had functioning restrooms!)

A certain young lady--regular customer every Saturday--ordered a Big Mac, consumed most of it and then yanked a hair out of her head and stuck it in the remainder which she would return to the crew person on duty, demanding another sandwich. The manager finally caught her on tape and halted the free Mac train.

Another regular customer--definitely not a gentleman--used the drive-thru to order a milkshake late at night. When the crew person on duty delivered the shake, they got more than change. The man had it hanging out to air. One night I recognized his voice on the speaker and elected to deliver his shake myself. When I leaned out, I accidentally squeezed the top open and dumped it in his lap.

I always wondered how he explained the chocolate shake inside his trousers to his wife...

After five or six years with McDs, the danger that is most dreaded happened. We were robbed. No one was hurt. But a shotgun in the belly is something you never forget. I had three children with a fourth on the way. We needed the money so I hung in there.

Three weeks later I was working my regular shift on a particularly slow night. Two men in coveralls walked through the door. I had no reason for my uneasiness. The men were white. The man that robbed us three weeks before was black. But something in their demeanor bothered me. This is how it went...

Good evening. Welcome to McDonalds. How may I help you?

Uh, this is a holdup.

Excuse me?

This is a holdup!

Oh. Excuse me. Yep that was me--always polite even during a robbery. I turned around and walked to the back of the store, by which time I was sobbing my heart out.

My manager asked what was wrong. All I could seem to get out was a wailing hoooold up! The entire crew belted back up to the front of the store in time to watch the two guys run out to their van which they backed out onto the road before racing off.

Naturally, the manager called the police. By that time, I was feeling quite foolish. The police came, took down my statement, and when I finally tentatively suggested that the erstwhile customers were probably just kidding around, he shook his head.

he said. They robbed the Jack in the Box down the road and shot three people. They weren't fooling around.

I gave my life some serious thought. And turned in my resignation. And found a safer line of work... substitute elementary school teacher!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Divine Intervention

We've all had a time or two in our lives when we experienced a helping hand--a providential intervention that shows up when we least expect it, when we've exhausted all avenues, when we've given up all hope. And then, with miraculous timing, intervention appears, not necessarily solving our problem, but offering an alternative solution or temporary relief. What we do with the opportunity is up to us. If we take the time to make wise choices, it can change our life.

Sometimes, it doesn't look like much of a divine intervention. Sometimes that ultimate solution takes a while to come into focus. But I have experienced such major interventions at least three times in my life.

The first time was just past our sixth anniversary. We lived in Chicago at the time and had three children under four years of age. The house hunk came home from work one day at lunch time and asked me if I would be willing to move to Houston. It was a hard choice.

We would be moving eleven hundred miles from our nearest family members. We knew no one in Houston. And we had small children with medical problems. But we took the opportunity and moved to Houston. It wasn't until our children were in school that we discerned the rest of the pattern.

Our children--four of them by then--all had learning disabilities. At that time, there were very few school districts in the entire country that aggressively worked with kids that had learning disabilities. We lived in one of the top districts in the country--a district that pioneered educational intervention for such children. Because of our willingness to leave family and friends behind, our children benefited in ways that are still affecting their lives.

Eleven years after moving to Houston, the house hunk called me one morning from work to inform me that he'd been transferred to New York City. We knew absolutely nothing about New York except for things we'd seen on television. It was not a good time for us to move.

Our financial situation was going to be catastrophic to say the least. We had just reached a point in Houston where we were almost breaking even. The cost of living and rents in New York were in the impossible range--so impossible that we ended up living two hours north of the City in a tiny village without even one stoplight.

Boy, I had some heated conversations with God, let me tell you! What possible purpose could be served from our living in the middle of nowhere? It was a few years before the pattern was made clear. Our daughter was... a handful. After many struggles, we acknowledged that we needed help. A lot of help. Her school recommended that we place her in a boarding school that specifically dealt with incorrigible children.

Now, I don't know if you've ever priced boarding schools, I can tell you, they are not in the average middle class price range. Of all the school districts in the state of New York, our district was the only one that had a contract with that boarding school. Our district paid for her education. The school granted our family a scholarship to pay part of the room and board. And with many tears we placed her there for twenty two months.

She's grown now, with two children, working in a supervisory position in a doctor's office. And she's a tougher parent than I ever was.

Almost seven years ago, the house hunk called me at work to inform me that he was transferred to Baltimore. What the heck did we know about Baltimore? We'd just paid off our house. Our children were pretty much on their own. Did we want to move?

Not really. I had a hard-earned position as an executive secretary to the Director of Adult Education in our county. I didn't really want to give up my job. But you know? All our married life, I believed that wherever the house hunk went, it was my job to go with him. So I resigned, we sold the house, and moved to Baltimore. And I had a few more conversations with God about the advisability of this move.

For one thing, the opportunities for a replacement job were few and far between. For another, our transportation issues were completely different. After a bit, the house hunk said, "Look. It's cheaper for you to stay home than go to work." So here I sat. Watched television until I could quote the dialogue. Walked the dog until she was exhausted. Did all sorts of crafty stuff until I ran out of recipients to give the stuff to.

Then my son said, "Mom, go write something and get out of my hair."

So I wrote a book. And I sent it off to a publisher. It's title was Dancer's Delight. Much to my astonishment, the publisher offered me a contract. And I'm still writing.

I can tell you with a certainty I have deep in my soul that I would never have written a word if we had not been transferred so that I had to leave my job. Sometimes, when divine intervention comes along, we just have to take that leap of faith up on that fence pole and wait to see the outcome.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Looks can be deceiving...

Here's the scenario. Three people on a burning plane in a lake in the middle of a storm. Solution? Inflatable life raft.

So I went off to Google life rafts and ... a few million later, I'm still confused. Like most simple ideas, this one is not as simple as it looks because the internet offers so many choices and options.

It seems that the search engines ought to start with the least complicated idea and then offer increasingly complex and abstract choices, but that isn't the way it is. I typed in "inflatable life raft". The first site had choices suitable for ocean liners, passenger planes, and huge cargo ships.

Okay. Narrow it down a bit--"small inflatable raft". This yielded inflatable boats suitable for camping and fishing, but not suitable for use as an emergency raft, such as one would have on a plane.

Hmmmm. "inflatable emergency raft". Nope. Back to the huge 20 person ocean-going rafts.

So something that should be simple and fast, isn't. Obviously, it will require more research. Something to be deferred until another day. Until then, I'll just float around in the lake.


Friday, February 20, 2009

The plot?

For a long while I have been struggling with a certain work in progress. The more I rehashed and revised it, the more it stubbornly refused to pull together. My critique partners labored away, trying to help. Beta readers scratched their heads and offered suggestions. One friend bluntly told me to put it in a drawer. I was beginning to hate that book.

Finally, I invested in a professional assessment.

It was meticulous and thorough. And quite candid and frank. After nearly fifty thousand words I didn't have a book. I had a journal. Actually, to be perfectly blunt I had a repetitious journal of survival with some hot sex, an inordinate amount of shifty boxes, and a few too many coincidences that strained the willingness to suspend belief. Alas.

The thing that I did NOT have was a plot or action. Nope. Not even a little plot and the first actual action took place in Chapter Twelve.

I read every single note, every single mark on the page. Fortunately my evaluator had a sense of humor. In my story I had a plane full of boxes. Never.... never did I realize how much of the story was involved with moving those &)^%&* boxes! It's one thing to have someone tell you that the story is plodding. It's another when every single mention of boxes is marked in the margin with accompanying moans and whimpers. (And that's several times on one page.)

My heroine was snarky, slept all the time, and when she wasn't sleeping as my evaluator pointed out--she was peeing. Which led my evaluator to speculate about weak kidneys. Or she was too lazy to help move those pesky boxes. In between sleeping and snarkiness, she was jumping my guy's bones even though the bad guys were pursuing them with gusto.

Then there were the extraneous characters that wandered through the story at will--never ever quite finding their place. Some were unnecessary, others were simply never allowed to develop. It was sad.

There were a couple of good points. The sex scenes were good. This was reassuring to know. And a couple of descriptions were nice. She liked several of the characters even though they seemed to walk on, do their part almost like a narrator, and then scoot stage right before they accidentally became entangled in the story. No action!

Heh. So what did I learn for my money? Don't beat a dead horse. The premise for the story had merit. And the research was not wasted. Even the time spent writing wasn't lost because I learned a lot about how NOT to craft a book. After one long last sigh, I set that book aside without any bad feelings at all. If I ever need a laugh, I'll haul it out and have another look at the shifty boxes.

In the meantime, I began anew. I have a little over two thousand words so far... and only two boxes that I swear haven't moved even once. And my heroine, though tired, is wide awake!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Recently several authors I know have lost books, works in progress, and assorted other documents when their computers did a bunk. As Emeril says--Bam! You're down for the count, in complete disarray. There are tons of options to backup your files. I'm not going to get into a discussion of options.

What I want to know is... why would you not back up your docs? Even the most naive individual must suspect that there will eventually be a breakdown in their system. If the documents are important to that individual, then surely they are worth the three minutes it takes to back them up.

However! If the backup isn't in a place other than the computer then if the computer is destroyed due to fire or flood, the backup will most likely also be destroyed. In another life I used to teach computer basics. One of the things we discussed was this issue. Where should you keep your backup?

Number one answer among my students was? Next to the computer.

We played a game of suppose. Suppose your house/apartment burned down while you went to the grocery store. Suppose a tornado whirled in and wiped out your apartment/home. Suppose, suppose, suppose... The truth is that the safest place for your backup is not in your home. The second truth is that you should probably have a minimum of three backups. One on Monday morning, one on Wednesday night, and one on Saturday afternoon. Rotate them. The maximum work lost will be three days.

Too much? Back up everyday rotating three backups such as flash drives or whatever your option of choice is. The important thing is to have multiple backups.

Because backing up means "never having to say you're sorry"!


PS: If you haven't voted in the poll at the upper right, please do so and let us know how many books you read!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

By the books...

There a little debate going one... some say that people don't read anymore. I think people read more. TV is really becoming a vast wasteland. It's winter so it's too dark and too cold to go outside. You can only play so many games of solitaire before you go brain dead.

I know that I read more now--especially since I can buy such a variety of books as e-books. So I'm putting a little poll up in the corner. Tell us how many books you generally buy per month. We'll check it out on March 1st and see what we have.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Face who?

I read this article about Facebook addiction. And I don't quite get it. I have a Facebook page that I visit every couple of months. Maybe. If I remember.

I suspect that it's a generational thing, but I simply don't understand the fascination with all things electronic from cell phones to text messaging to i-Pods to Facebook and MySpace. Aren't there other things to do? Like talking face to face with real people?

The house hunk and I went out for a hamburger yesterday afternoon. Naturally, because of Valentines Day, the place was packed. We were sitting in one of those weird little half booth-half tables where you're generally so crowded that you can't help but hear the conversation from the tables next to you.

A nice young couple was seated next to us. Both were dressed in what I think of as "young professional" style. From a couple of things the woman said, I have an idea that it was a first date and by the time they left it was clear that there wasn't going to be a second date. He was talking on his cell when they were seated. And I counted twelve more calls while they dined.

Hello. If you're taking me out, don't even think about answering the telephone unless you're a cop on call. And somebody died. Everyone else can hold on for that thirty minutes we spend wolfing down some lightly singed meat.

Are we so entwined with the electronic gadgetry that we can't set it aside for a few minutes? Is is so important that it's worth losing our own life or taking the lives of others? How many families are splintered by one spouse--or even both spouses--spending all their time with online games or social pages?

Maybe its time to take a step back and re-evaluate our priorities. Time to find real people to interact with. Time to see some real faces.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Best Friends

Let me introduce Elfin, the squirrel. Elfin's a very special squirrel. He lives at one of the animal shelters owned by Best Friends. Recently, a very, very special young lady passed away. I wanted to do something in remembrance, but couldn't think of exactly the right thing to do. And then a fellow author friend, Sandra Cox, told another author friend, Amarinda Jones about Best Friends. Fortunately, Amarinda gave me the head's up. Want to thank Sandra and Amarinda for sharing this wonderful site with me.

I went there to check it out! There are tons of special animals who need a sponsor. And the site allows you to sponsor the animal you choose in memory of someone special. So, Elfin the squirrel, is my remembrance for Lara Punches. You barely lived, Lara, but you were a force to be reckoned with while you were here. Rest in peace.


Friday, February 13, 2009

LIcense? Registration?

So the house hunk was in an accident a couple weeks ago and the only damage to our SUV was the loss of the license plate fastener on the front bumper. It seems that the fastener requires special screws that are only sold by the dealer. So they're on order. The license plate is sitting on the floor behind the driver's seat.

Last night the house hunk took me out for Valentines Day. I usually drive when I'm in the car. Why? I have no idea. Anyway, two blocks from our apartment, a nice hunky young officer pulled us over. Why? You guessed it--no license plate on the front bumper.

The house hunk explained about the accident. The officer said, "Uh-huh." And he went and sat in his car for a while. Finally, he came back, handed us a warning citation and told my husband to keep it in his wallet in case another officer stopped him before he fixed the plate. Sigh.

I NEVER have had a violation on my license. Actually, I don't remember ever being stopped before. So my stomach was quivering. NOT exactly the time to go eat.

Anyway, we went on our way. About six miles down the road, traffic was at a dead stop. Three cars had a disagreement about who had the right of way. The had the disagreement in the middle of an intersection. Stop. Go. Stop. Go.

Finally inched past that mess and traffic picked up... for about two miles. Then it came to a dead stop again. Two cars had a disagreement about who had the right of way--in the middle of the intersection where we had to turn to go to the restaurant. I turned to the house hunk and asked him, "Are you sure we're supposed to go out tonight?"

The police wouldn't let us turn so we drove...and drove...and drove until we finally found a street to turn around and drive back toward the restaurant. By the time we reached that intersection, everything was cleared up. Time? One hour and fifteen minutes for a twenty minute drive.

I think the next time we go out, we'll drive the other direction.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Painter's Reflections

I live in an apartment at the moment with a strict lease about painting and such. All walls are champagne beige. So is the ceiling. So is the carpet.

I covered the walls with pictures. And I covered the carpets with a variety of area rugs. But there's not much I can do with the ceilings. So they're just icky beige.

When I owned my own home, the ceilings were all barely-there pastels that brought life and light into each room. That wasn't easy because we lived in a double-wide modular home and they're notorious for small windows and dark walls.

Paint has been my friend for most of my life. When I was about eight, we moved to a tiny house that only had two bedrooms. I had to share my room with my younger stinky brothers. As a reward, my parents asked me what color I wanted to paint the bedroom.

Turquoise. And not a wimpy airy-fairy turquoise either. It was bold and brilliant. I loved that room.

When my sons were small, I papered the walls in their bedroom with wild jungle animals and painted one wall bright jungle green. They loved their room... cried when we moved to the next apartment.

I've tried all sorts of techniques over the years. Big geometric graphics in contrasting colors. Dainty stencil work on the doorways. Stark white. But I must admit that painting is hard work. And in a way, I'm kinda glad that I can't paint in this apartment. Because goodness knows I would get the itch to change the wall colors. And then before I could say Jack Robinson, I'd be moving furniture around. Nah... it's probably for the best.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Perfectly Good Stuff

Well, I've been sorting through things--again. What is it with humans? We are such packrats. I'm the biggest packrat of all. Why?

Because it's all perfectly good stuff. Quite frankly, given the current economy, I'm not inclined to toss any of it out. But I will reorganize my stuff so I can get to it easier. And in that reorganization, who knows? I might even find something I thought was lost.

My dream is to have my apartment so organized that I could pack and move on a moment's notice. That has never been the case in forty plus years. Except for a few small specific things (my writing stuff and the genealogy papers), my stuff is not even remotely organized. If I had to move tomorrow, it would take a crew to pull it off.

I used to wonder why other people (particularly women) were more organized than I was. Was it something lacking in my personality? Was it inherent laziness? Am I just a house slut?

Well, all of those are possibilities. But I think the central truth is that I always find other things more interesting. Given the choice between writing and housework... well let's just say that housework is waaaay down on the scale.

I used to worry about it a lot more than I do now. But one day--not too long after I was in a near death situation--it occurred to me that life was too short and uncertain to obsess about such things. If there's a reasonable path through the apartment and the trash is carried out on a regular basis, then I'm good to go.

Once in a while, someone threatens to come visit me and I spend a frantic two or three days shoving stuff in closets and drawers. (Of course, it's months before I find any of that stuff!) But the apartment doesn't look like cavemen live here and that's what counts.

Cause after all... it's good stuff.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good Reading

Reading! Above are some of the best books around. Fabulous stories for every taste and genre. Love stories to heat up your cold nights and entertain you in the afternoon. So click on any of the covers and that will take away--away to the place where you can find your very own copy of adventure!


Monday, February 9, 2009

I cry for Australia

There are absolutely no words for the horror and grief in Australia. My prayers and sympathies for the families who lost loved ones and homes.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Books for Sale?

Recently received my royalty check for December. Overall, I was pretty pleased with it. But I sure wish I knew why some books sell better than others. Is it the cover? The title? The subject matter? How often you go flog it on someone else's blog? What?

Or is it one big crap shoot?

It seems to me that someone with a leaning toward statistical analysis could make a bundle if he or she could accurately predict the points that made a book sell.

Naked bodies on the cover? Check.
A ménage/m/m/shifter/fantasy/series? Check. Oops... fantasy doesn't sell? Hmmm. Change that to sci-fi? Check.
Title? Toooo simple. Change from Magnolia to Hunky Unicorn and High Prince Rescue Faery Princess (Much Hot Sex Ensues). Check. Flog on every blog and forum possible. Check.

I had an early book that received excellent reviews. Every person that read it had only good things to say about it. But it didn't sell. To this day, I can't figure out what the problem was. I have a couple ideas about it, but there's no way to really tell why one book will sell and another one won't.

I don't write books that are this genre or that genre because those are popular. I write what's clawing to get out of my head. Most times when I finish them, I'm not even sure where they fall on the genre scale and I have to ask someone. So I wouldn't say that I'm writing to the market. Is that what I would have to do? Unfortunately, I don't seem able to pull that off. When I try that, my writing stops dead in the water. My characters head for the hills. And I sit twiddling my thumbs, waiting for something to happen.

So if anyone out there has answers, I'd be really interested in them. Speak up!


Friday, February 6, 2009

Edits, revisions, edits...

I've come to the conclusion that edits and revisions are the pits. I'm in the process at the moment and it's a miracle that I still have hair. Truly, it's easier for me to write original stories than to revise one already written.

I'm working on the infamous "plane crash" story. Hope to have it done by the end of the month. But it's a painstaking process. Every line has to be examined because I started the process by excising about 4500 words. So now I have to check for gaps that were explained by the excised parts. And small revisions in the story that might be necessary now.


The thing is--I really like this story. So I'll persevere and make it the best writing I've ever done. That's the way I am. But I don't ever make the mistake in believing that it will be easy.

Moving on to something else... a reader wrote to me about a short story I had on the blog a while back. It was a piece written specifically for the blog. I hope to have a few more snippets detailing the life in the Mystic Valley. But those snippets aren't part of any current books. And PROBABLY won't be part of future books. They're just little vignettes that take place in the valley. Sorry for the confusion. If I post an excerpt, I'll clearly label it as such.

Questions from the mailbag...

When will you write Tracer's story? Raven's story? Currently mulling over Tracer's story. The MV books involve a lot of detail so I'm working.

What will be the next book?
Currently have a contract for Rescuing Clarice, a contemporary paranormal about a couple of elementals. He's fire. She's water. Hmmmm.

When will you write another Camelot? Probably sometime this year. The next one is Arri's story. He kidnaps his mate from Earth. Her name is Sunflower.

Are you going to write a sequel to Kama Sutra? I'm considering it. If I come up with a story and characters. Not yet. Pick your answer.

Have questions? Send me an e-mail and I'll try to come up with an answer!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sexy curves

Saw a picture today of some famous person who looked like she was a shipwreck survivor. She was so skinny you could see her ribs poking out. Not a pretty picture.

It seems to me that we still have a double standard--mostly in our heads--about what is attractive. And it isn't the men who are perpetrating it. It's us. The female half of the population. We can't quite decide where we want to go with it.

Truthfully, how many young women would be happy to wear size sixteen clothing? And how many of them would be moaning about needing to go on a diet? The woman in the picture--famous for her beauty-- was a size sixteen.

I'm not advocating obesity. Goodness knows that I'm fighting it tooth and toenail. But neither am I advocating the obsession with thinness that seems to have so many of our youngsters and unfortunately, their mothers in it's grip.

I just want to see our kids living healthy and active. That's it. No dieting. Eating healthy.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Caffeine High

Have you ever had one of those days when it seems that you've overdosed on coffee or soda and you're so wired that you likely won't sleep well for at least a month? Yeah, most of us have. The house hunk was home off and on this last week and when he's home he makes a pot of coffee everyday. And I drink it. And eventually, I'll crash.

But until the crash, the mind whirls like a hamster on a wheel, endlessly running until the early hours of the morning. That wouldn't be so bad--if I slept until noon--or thereabouts. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen. Eight a.m. and I'm wide awake. Sort of. At least, too wide awake to sleep anymore. But not awake enough to really function unless I have a shot of caffeine. Or two. Or three.

And then we have a repeat of the day before.

So generally, I don't drink coffee except on the weekends, because otherwise, my eyes would look a lot like the cat's in the picture. Or as a Texas friend used to say... I would be like a tree full of owls.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Where have all the flags gone?

Back a few years ago, you couldn't go anywhere, public or private with out seeing a flag. In the days after 9/11/2001, people slapped the American flag up in the most unlikely places.

Now you would be hard pressed to find a flag anywhere. Where did they go? When did we stop displaying our pride in America? When did we decide that it wasn't important anymore?

One woman told me she quit displaying her flag when we sent soldiers to Iraq. Why? What does an unpopular war have to do with patriotism? Does it make our country less desirable? Does it mean that our support of the men and women in our military is less important? Our demonstration of our lack of faith in our country (not political party!) will do the terrorists job for them. They sowed the seeds of division and a bumper crop bloomed.

You see, when I was growing up, we were proud of our country. Were there things that needed to be fixed? Of course. Were we involved in a stupid war? Heck, yes. Was there violence and rioting? Without doubt. But that didn't mean that we weren't proud of our country.

We said the pledge every morning in school. We stood at attention when the flag went by. Men removed their hats. People were quiet in respect. It grieves me when I watch the beginning of a ball game such as the one yesterday and the camera pans across people chatting, or scratching their privates, or slouching in their seats. I want to shake them and say, "Wake up! This is your flag and your national anthem! Show respect!"

It seems that we've confused the conditions--economic and political--with the place. The United States of America. Regardless of our economic woes, most of us wouldn't want to live anywhere else. We aren't the only place in the world dealing with poverty, war, or stupid politicians.

I think it's a symptom of the general malaise in our country. When we fail to take ownership, when we fail to vote or write to our congressman about issues, when we don't stand up to be counted, then we fail all those who have struggled in the past to keep our country free. We fail those who worked so that we have the freedom to vote or worship as we choose or live where we please.

Pride in our country begins with each one of us--individually--demonstrating how we feel. Maybe we should dig around and find that flag--the one we dumped in the closet or a drawer. Dust it off and display it with pride. It's my country and yours, a place that people have fought, died and sacrificed to keep free.

What about you? What does America mean to you?


Monday, February 2, 2009


Ah, bell-bottoms! Looooved my bell-bottoms. Probably looked ridiculous, but then, everybody else did, too. I actually had a pair of white US Navy uniform pants. The real deal with a wide flap in the front that buttoned up on both sides. Loved those pants!

And the granny dresses. They were high waisted, floor length cotton dresses that everyone was wearing. If you're too young to remember them, just look at any Regency romance cover. That's what they looked like, only they were cotton and sooooo comfortable. And if you happened to be pregnant (like I was ALL THE TIME back then) they were wonderful camoflage for the first few months. * It took the house hunk and me a while to figure out what was causing that!*

Anyway, I wore my granny dresses with Swedish clogs. Think Crocs in leather. I wore them everywhere--and had them in four or five colors.

This was back before jeans and sweat pants were worn anywhere except camping or in the gym. Ladies wore slacks. (And they usually had to be ironed so who wanted to wear them anyway?) Shorts were what they call walking shorts now. It was the daring girls who wore them.

And then along came the mini-skirt and a lot of moms and dads suddenly decided that slacks (yes, even jeans!) would be preferable to the revealing mini-skirt. Amazing how that worked.

That's about the same time the panty girdle disappeared. Moms loooved the panty girdle because it was so hard to get on and off (think contemporary chastity belt) in the back seat of a car. No decent girl when out without her panty girdle. Although... I noticed that girls still seemed to find a way to get pregnant--not nearly as many as now days, but yeah, some did. Baaaad girls. Probably left their panty girdles at home and wore garter belts instead.

We didn't have panty hose quite yet. Thank goodness!

Ah, well. Nice to remember, but I must admit that I really enjoy my comfy stretchy shorts and tee shirts. And purple Crocs.