Wednesday, October 31, 2012


So Sandy's Surprise is almost gone. For the fortunate, the storm brought power outages and downed trees. For the less fortunate, for the totally devastated, life will never be the same. And no...if you've never been in that situation, you can not possibly understand.

What can you do? If you live far away, donate to the charity of your choice. Don't have much? That's okay. Every penny helps. We're going into winter, folks. A lot of people don't have anything except what they're wearing. Think about that. Think about INDIVIDUAL people with nothing to their names except the clothes they have on.

That's a different picture than downed ferris wheels and sandy roads. How would you cope?

And think about this--in many cases extended families all live in a close-knit area. What affects one, affects many. Frequently, there are no family members to turn to because they all are dealing with the same disaster.

When you're sitting in your warm houses, preparing for the various festivities over the next couple months, think about the folks who won't be doing that this year. They don't have to be Sandy's victims. They might be victims of a tornado, a blizzard, an earthquake, a tsunami. Too often, once the pictures are no longer shown on television, we forget.

This year? Let's remember and share our blessings. Take part in supporting your neighbors.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spear of Retribution

Release Day! At last the second book in the Tuatha Treasures series is available. What's it about???


Love between a white woman and a Cherokee warrior is forbidden in Virginia in the 1820s. After killing her brother in self-defense, Lyrissa Murphy escapes to the shelter of Crazy Woman Cave. When Gray Horse Redhand tracks her there, he realizes their survival depends on joining forces and traveling to the west. Before they have the chance to leave, their encounter with a dangerous enemy leads to the discovery of an ancient burial and a beautiful spear.

Fleeing deadly pursuit from her unbalanced father, Lyrissa and Gray enter a new, unknown world. There they face threatening encounters with vicious warriors and strange animals, discover a magical future, and fall deeply in love. Their shared desire sustains and encourages them as the mysterious, enchanted spear points the way to the Dragon Fort of the Tuatha where they finally accept their new, unexpected home in the heart of Cabhán Geal.


Lyrissa shivered as she crouched next to the fire. After studying the strange beast, she was already alert for trouble.
Darkness blanketed the canyon, and Gray still hadn’t returned to the camp. Hemmed in by the smothering night, Lyrissa kept a wary eye on the horses, confident they would sound the alarm at the first whiff of danger. The rustles of small beasts and rising insect songs reassured her that no predators stalked nearby.
And still he did not come.
Burgeoning fear crept into the clearing, seizing her breath with cruel talons. She crushed back the urgent need to stalk the canyon floor in search of the man who matched her soul and filled her heart. He was a man, a warrior, more than capable of surviving in this strange wilderness. Why, then, did her fear grow with every heartbeat?
What preyed in the shadows, watching with hungry eyes, waiting for her to wander by? The small hairs on her spine rose in primal alarm. Without thought, she reached behind her, fumbling for the spear from the cave. Gray had shown her the repaired shaft when they moved their camp. In her grasp the spear took on a pale blue glow and thrummed with power.
Judge growled, low and menacing, as he faced toward the trail leading up from the canyon floor, his hair bristling along his spine.
Silence, pregnant with violent possibilities, spread in the woods. A lone, harsh cry echoed from the treetops. Standing at the edge of their tiny clearing, Lyrissa cocked her head, listening as a soft breeze ruffled the leaves. Off to the west, the muffled roar of the waterfall filled the quiet.
Crouching, easing one step forward, Lyrissa inhaled, catching the scents carried on the breeze. Cinnamon, the spicy odor of crushed cedar, and the coppery smell of blood. Edging closer to the fire, facing the darkness with her back to the camp, she closed her eyes.
There! The faintest hint of mint and tallow. Her fingers tightened on the smooth ash staff, gripping with terrified strength.
Abruptly the spear spun within her grip, burning her palm, a low, hair-raising wail building until the cool night air vibrated with the shriek of the spear. Lyrissa’s fist opened, releasing the staff, and the spear flew through the trees, circling their camp faster and faster with a pale-blue tail of smoke in its wake.
After one sharp, high-pitched bark, Judge dived into the willow shelter Gray had built for them to rest in. Cowering on the blankets, he whined in distress.
Suddenly the spear shot off into the dark. Lyrissa raced headlong after it, heedless of the branches and roots blocking her way. With a keening moan, it flew up the wall to the edge of the cliff. Lyrissa rushed up the path in the spear’s wake in time to witness its plunge into the churned ground with an earthshaking thud as she burst onto the moonlit clearing at the top of the cliff. Sprawled dangerously near the edge, Gray still grasped his knife in one bloodstained hand. Two of the dark warriors lay dead nearby in a narrow shadow, tumbled like dirty laundry.
She dropped to her knees next to him, crying out with relief when his eyes met hers. “Where are you hurt?” she demanded fiercely.
With a weary grimace, he shook his head. “Everywhere. Help me up.”
She grappled with his arms, struggling to hold on to the flesh that was slippery with blood and other things she was grateful she couldn’t identify. At last, when he was on his feet, she draped his arm over her shoulder and shoved the spear, butt down, in his other hand. “Did they cut you again?”
He groaned as they shuffled down the trail to the narrow path to the hot pool. “I don’t know. Truly, I just fought to stay alive.”
“You did well. They’re dead. You’re alive.”
“One of them was a white man. He ran when the spear whistled up from the canyon.”
“You’re sure?”
“As I can be. He wore clothing like Neville. We have to leave.”
“Not until you’re well enough.” They staggered back and forth, bouncing off rough tree trunks, cursing at thorny bushes they brushed against, as they made their way to the pool where she bathed him before they returned to camp.
“It would please me exceedingly if you would cease returning to camp more battered than when you left,” she scolded as she sluiced him down with handfuls of warm water. “Our medicine is nearly gone. Our bandages are drying on the line. And my spear is possessed by a demon.”
He cupped her chin in his palm and kissed her tenderly. “I’m sorry you were scared.”
They stood in the moonlight, looking in each other’s eyes for a long moment. Then she said softly, “Well. Don’t do it again.”
Want to know more? Click on the book cover!


Monday, October 29, 2012

I Want to See!

WHY are the news stations going on and on and on, repeating the same coverage, updating things on a miniscule basis? Blame human nature. We want to see! Bad weather, car wrecks, arguments, fist fights... we stop and gawk.

Actually, the Weather Channel and news stations are providing a vital service. They're showing us up-to-the-minute coverage. Some people will watch it for hours. Others will check in occasionally. But, here's the thing...if we're at home watching the coverage, we're not out in the storm needing someone to rescue us. In a potentially dangerous situation, it's human nature to need to keep an eye on the approaching danger. The news media does this job for us.

Are they too hyper for words? Yeah. But I figure they're drinking coffee by the gallons, just to stay awake and perky. When they get too much to bear, we turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and find something else to do.

But when we can no longer resist, when our nerves stretch past bearing, they're still there, ready and willing to give us the latest news. So cut them a break. And be thankful they're willing to do a really dangerous, thankless job.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rush and Hush

Waiting. It's the hardest part of any storm. All the prep work is done. If necessary evacuations are in progress. And the rest of us sit and wait as anticipation mounts.

It doesn't have to be a hurricane. It could be a blizzard. I remember checking out the window every few minutes to catch those first snowflakes drifting down from a darkening sky.


Everyone had a different way of dealing. Some read. Some watch the coming train wreck on the Weather Channel. Others bury their worries in sports. The nurturing types cook or bake or knit. Some of us write.

The anticipation and anxiety is normal. It's a human response to danger. Some respond by ignoring all warnings, as though by doing so they'll hold off the storm. They poo-poo the very idea that the storm will be that bad. Then at the last moment, they rush around, frustrated and angry and finally frightened, when storm supplies are sold out.

The sensible approach is to be prepared--always. But few bother with that approach. I suspect that preparedness might be too close to anticipation. It might actually draw the storm in our direction. Right?

Well, this storm is coming. And now we begin the wait. I've been busy making ready for it so now I'll take the opportunity to rest and write. Stories are waiting and writing is a wonderful way to fill time. Y'all be smart and safe.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Calm Before the Storm

If you live on the east coast of the USA, you're probably aware of Sandy. If you're not, check out the weather ASAP. The hunk and I did all our preparations yesterday. Bought the batteries, filled the gas tank, packed a bug-out bag in case we have to evacuate. Today we're down to piddly stuff like moving things away from the windows and clearing off the balcony.

We have some murky sunshine out there with low clouds, no winds, and nice temps. And here's what I'm reading on Facebook/Twitter..."The weather's fine here. This is just more media hype..."

There's a reason "calm before the storm" is a cliche. Most big storms have a period of deep calm before they roar in to smack you. And that's a good thing. It allows time to prepare for the aftermath. Trust me, it is NOT a sign that the storm won't be bad.

For those who have survived bad storms, whether tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms or hurricanes, preparation is key to walking away with your life. If you haven't started, get busy. And don't be fooled by where Sandy's headed.  Check out your local recommendations and do what they say.

Here's what I don't understand. Actual preparation doesn't really take that much time. And it requires minimal money. So why wouldn't you be prepared? If everyone just did the minimum that's recommended, more people would live through these storms. Isn't your life worth that bit of time?

Heads up. Time is running out.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Surprise

Last year, we had a snowstorm for Halloween. This year, we may have a hurricane, just to liven things up. The general blasé attitude about it doesn't surprise me. We seem to have a "dance while the country is burning" lookout on life.

I don't recall another era when so many of my fellow citizens were as oblivious to what is happening around them. There's a willful determination to ignore anything that requires thought, planning, or decision making. Maybe we're simply worn out, but if so, then we're truly in a dangerous situation.

In any case, if you're in the projected path of this particular storm (Sandy), it would probably be a good idea to stock up on whatever you think you might need. You know--batteries, water, flashlight, meds, things you can eat without cooking in case the electricity goes out. If you're one of those with stuff out in the yard, patio, balcony, bring it in or secure it. And most importantly, don't wait until the last day to make a shopping run.

Figure out where you're going to go if you have to evacuate. Make sure your family knows your plans so they don't worry. Fill the gas tank on your vehicle.

And if it all blows by without slapping your area, be thankful, say a prayer for those who weren't so fortunate, and enjoy Halloween.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Middle

For several years now I've know how Tracer's Melody (Mystic Valley 6) would end. In the last couple years I've settled on a beginning. But the middle? Well, that's a problem, isn't it? Moving from beginning to end is not always as simple as it should be. There are so many possible paths Tracer could choose to reach his happy ending. And he's so determined to be a martyr.

The other day I made a list of possibilities for him, testing each with my "Would Tracer really do this?" And you know? He's just impossible. A friend urged me to write his story next because "it's time" and when I whined about how hard it would be, she replied, "That's why it's time."

And so. I'm persevering, working on the middle, determining his path to happiness and fulfillment. He certainly deserves a joyous ending. I'm not sure yet how it will work out.

How do you figure out the middle?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Knitting Socks: The Gusset

Ahhhh. Well, it's almost starting to look like something intentional. What the heck is a gusset, you say? Well, that's that triangley bit there in the middle below the cuff. And what's it good for? Adjustment and fit.

If you've ever worn a tube sock, then you'll recall how you always end up with a "bunch" of sock right across the top of your foot where the ankle is. Very uncomfortable. The gusset eliminates that problem.

My sock doesn't look too bad at the moment, but it wasn't all lilacs and roses. When I last reported I was working on turning the heel and feeling mighty smug about things. And then...ta-dum, ta-dum, ta-dum...I started the gusset. Little did I know what I faced.

Difficulties and irritation abounded. I almost gave up--until enlightenment struck. You see, I had bits and pieces of the sock on other needles waiting for me to get to them. When I picked all those threads back up, it was like a bag full of kittens wrestling.

Threads were taut. Stitches were so tight I could barely slide them on the needle. And I grimly forged on, determined to make it work.

About five rows later, I realized my problem. The stitches were twisted because I was knitting from the wrong direction. I contemplated the prospect of pulling out all those twisted stitches and then decided I could make them work for me, as is. When I started knitting--from the right direction--immediately, the problem went away and it was smooth knitting from then on.

Sometimes my writing is like that. I might have too many bits and pieces so I lose track of the threads. The story lines all get muddled up and for a while it looks like a mess until I get them straightened out.

Other times I'm just approaching the story from the wrong direction. My critique partner will call a halt. "What are you doing???" I'll go back and have another look at the pattern. Usually, at that point the difficulty is clear. Sometimes I can make it work with a few adjustments. Sometimes I have to rip out the work and reknit the story.

But that triangley thing, the gusset, is critical to making the story work. That's the shift from beginning to the middle, the place where all the action happens. Whether my story gusset is a thing of beauty or a mess depends on how much attention I'm willing to devote to it.

How about you? How's your gusset doing?


Saturday, October 20, 2012


To an author, a lack of response from the reader is the same as a lover who lays on the bed, stiff and uncaring regardless of whatever her/his lover might dare. A book is a relationship between author and reader. When the reader turns away without reaction or response, the story dies.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Knitting Socks: Turning the Heel

"the boring stuff (read it, anyway!)"
"the pattern (you better have read the boring stuff!"~~Easy Peasy Socks by Stacey Trock

When I last reported on my sock knitting, I did mention I haven't knitted for a while--about thirty years or so. After a couple false starts, I was off and knitting my sock. The cuff was pretty easy. And the heel flap was also not too bad.

Then I reached the heel turn--that curved part that cups your heel--and things ground to a halt. Because of course, I didn't really READ the boring part. I skimmed it. And it seemed easy enough so I dove in.

Four rows later, I was three stitches short. I ripped out the work back to the start of that section and began again, knitting and checking, knitting and checking. And...again, I was three stitches short.

At this point, I decided to read the boring part.

The hunk could tell you I'm mule stubborn, but even I have my limit. It seems there was more to ssk (slip, slip, knit) than was evident at first glance. I found a Youtube clip that showed me exactly what I needed to know. Then it was back to the sock. After I ripped out my work back to that section, I began again--and wonder of wonders--it worked.

Sometimes our writing is like that. We reach a point where the story doesn't work so we delete back to that turning point and begin again. Still doesn't work. Hmmm.

Maybe what we need in another viewpoint--another eye on our work. That's where critique partners or beta readers or heck, even a husband or friend, can help. That other viewpoint can often see and identify where we ran off the road.

Then we can get back on track. It's a matter of asking. And being willing to admit we didn't do the boring stuff.

Well, the heel is turned. Now, I'm off to work on something called a gusset. Who knew socks were so complicated?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Genre Divide

Had a heated "discussion" with the hunk yesterday. He's reading one of my books and decided to tell me exactly what he thinks. ☺

Well. Let's just say I was really put out for a while. And then enlightenment nearly struck me blind. Every thing he didn't like about the book--every thing--had to do with genre.

He didn't care for the paranormal elements. The sex was "okay" but why'd they have to be so mushy? Why wasn't there more fighting and exciting stuff? In short, why wasn't it more like a John Sandford or Robert B. Parker?

Ummm. Because it's a fantasy/paranormal/romance?

It's actually kind of interesting, once I waded past my mad, because it illustrates one of the problems authors face daily. The great genre divide.

If I had a penny for every individual who said to me, "I don't read romance... mysteries... paranormal... contemporaries... historical... fiction... non-fiction", I could buy a Mercedes. Maybe even two. I wonder if we wouldn't be better off if there were no genres. Yes, there would no doubt be some people would wouldn't read across genres anyway, but I suspect more would find new stories and new authors.

If Dickens, Twain, Huxley, and Steinbeck were up and coming authors now, how would we classify their work? Where would we shelve Tess of the D'Urbervilles? Or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court? What about 1984?

As more and more authors enter the self-publishing field, genres are blurring and most cross-genre stories are available. Are we narrowing the fields with our genre specific labels? I don't know. But it's interesting to consider the "what ifs".


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Knitting Socks

Some of my readers know I occasionally jog off the beaten path while researching odds and ends for my books. One of the things I like to do is give my heroes/heroines offbeat hobbies or interests. When I do, I make sure I know something about that facet.

And I start the "research" waaaaay before starting the book. For instance in the current wip~Copper Cauldron~the heroine will teach another one of the characters how to harvest and process acorns for food. If you're interested in my research adventures regarding acorns, check out the Acorn Adventures page on the blog column to the right or click HERE.

My current adventure involves knitting socks. I've knitted in the far past (more than thirty years ago) but never socks, and never have I knitted "in the round" or used double-pointed needles. Casting on was quite an experience. Actually, it made me feel like I had twelve thumbs. But as you can see from the picture, I'm well on my way to knitting a pair of warm ankle socks. I figure I can use them for slippers this winter.

I once had a reader ask why I get involved in my little reader projects. Why not just read about the stuff on the Internet?

I could. But there are always things you don't know unless you try it yourself. For instance, if I based my knowledge of shotguns on the movies, I would never know about the kick you get when you shoot--especially if you're a woman. The first time I shot one, I was fourteen and weighed about eighty pounds. That sucker put me on my butt in the mud about six feet from where I started. Bam! I had a bruise on my shoulder for a week.

If I never shot a handgun, I wouldn't know how heavy it is. Or how difficult it is for the newbie to hit what you're aiming for. And ammunition...a picture in a book doesn't tell you how it feels to hold it in your hand.

Riding a horse for the uninitiated can be terrifying. If you have height issues like I do, it feels like you're sitting on top of a house. And speaking of houses, how many writers have ever stood on their roof and looked out over the neighborhood? It's one thing to write about a burglar watching a neighborhood in the night. It's entirely different to crouch on your roof and check out the night yourself.

Watching an ultralight plane sail through the air isn't the same as being up there with the wind whipping at your face. Rolling down the runway, willing your motorized kite to lift, lift, lift off the ground or praying you won't crash when you land gives you a different perspective.

Touching a llama is not the same as looking at a picture. Starting a fire with flint is completely different than reading about it. Roofing or siding a house requires skills I'd never thought about until I did it myself. Fixing the toilet is simpler than I imagined. And climbing a mountain and looking over the land...well, trust me, there's a different feel to that.

Research aside, I'm insatiably curious. I want to know for myself. Feelings, touch, smell, taste all matter. Authenticity matters. How can you know how your back aches when you're doing backstrap weaving unless you've done it? How can you know the delicacy required or the hours necessary to create a calligraphy piece unless you've tried?

I'm always wondering. What about this? What about that? So at sixty-two, I'm knitting socks. I figure I'll have them finished by next month so I can wear them for my birthday. Sixty-three, here I come.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Killer Smile

So. I had a dental appointment today to replace a crown with a cavity buried beneath it. And I've concluded the reason they call it a Killer Smile is because you damn near die from the pain incurred while getting it.

After MANY years, I've found a dentist who actually takes the time and care required to make sure I'm numb before he dives into the work. The fact that both he and his assistant are yummy looking guys is just a little lagniappe. BUT...then I have to go home. And the numby stuff wears off.


Fortunately, I possess a variety of pain killers. And a comfy pillow on which to rest my head. By tomorrow the swelling will go down and the pain will fade. And I'll almost forget by the time I go back to the dentist.

Am I wuss? No doubt. But we all have flaws...and mine is the quest for the Killer Smile.


Monday, October 15, 2012


I've been savoring some of my favorite books over the last few weeks in between various authorly chores and household obligations. And I've been thinking about what exactly makes one book a keeper and another not.

I have a few favored authors. Some have written hundreds of books. So why are fifteen or twenty books cherished favorites while other aren't? Oh, they're excellent stories, but not the favored story I choose to curl up with on a rainy day...or a sunny day...or just about any day I have free.

Not too long ago a friend wrote to me, indicated she'd read a certain book of mine and very apologetically explained she just couldn't finish it--and she knew almost immediately it would never be one of her favorites. I appreciated her honesty even while I pondered why this book did not speak to her.

The house hunk read one of my books in the last few days and we had a lot of discussion about the book. He wanted to know why...why...why? Basically, he was not pulled in to any part of the story. I think in the final analysis, it was the genre. Those of us that write in the paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi genres know there will be readers that will never be attracted, never enjoy our books simply because they aren't contempories.

For myself, a contemporary is my least favorite genre--probably because I want a story that challenges my imagination. I believe I write stories that challenge me and that's why I enjoy the writing process. When I'm no longer challenged, then the story just stops--which is probably why there are certain stories that are languishing on my computer half finished.

What is your standard for a keeper? Is it because you enjoy the characters? The story? Why?


Friday, October 12, 2012

One Minute!

That's me. Some people require total quiet for their reading. Not me. Once engaged, I can read through riots, loud TV, kids fighting, annoying women discussing their medical issues in the doctor's waiting room, the house hunk yelling for me to check the oatmeal, and any number of other distractions.

I went to college full-time while working full-time and rearing four teenagers. My course work had a lot of required reading. I read at lunch, on my breaks, in the car, in restaurants, waiting in line, in the park, in fact everywhere I had sixty seconds of uninterrupted time.

Over the years a lot of people have questioned how I could tune out my surroundings like that. I think it's just a matter of internal focus. We used to do the same while listening to the radio. Since television came along, all our focus has shifted to the visual. And that may be why a large share of the population has difficulty with focused reading. Different media.

Oddly enough, I find myself bored with most movies and television simply because they do all the work. They tell the story, provide the visuals, and control the pace of the work. I find it irritating. I want to decide what the hero/heroine looks like. I want to determine what the surroundings are like. And of course, I can read as fast--or slow--as I wish, unhindered by someone else's timing.

If you ever believe the visual is not important when watching television or a movie, try listening to one from the other room. The visual shortcuts are two-thirds of the story. Without them, the production often makes no sense at all. That's okay. I enjoy a good visual. I'll always remember those first magical moments when the Harry Potter world came to life. But. After that, I found I quickly grew bored with the rest. After all, I'd already read the stories. That was where the magic was for me.

I read every evening. Usually, I read a book I've already read in the past. Every evening the hunk will urge me to go to bed a little earlier and get some sleep. Yet I still find myself immersed in the current story, lured on by the author's words, until I suddenly surface only to discover it's after midnight.

That's the magical world of books. I just want to finish this chapter!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

On the Boat

  For the last week, in between dental appointments, shopping, finalized edits and other chores, I've been researching "stuff" for my next book. Some of the topics were Hy-Brasil, Japanese yari, Apache wickiups, and pre-historic boats. My usual mode is to narrow down the possibilities via the Internet, then track down more extensive reading materials via libraries and bookstores.

Now about the boats. When you read--or hear--the word canoe, what do you visualize? I bet it's one of those boats you can rent at the lake on summer vacation.
Prior to my initial research, that’s what I thought, too. Specifically, I was considering the use of a dugout canoe for my story. Maybe eight to ten feet long…capable of carrying three or four people. Then I spent some time looking at prehistoric boats and discovered I vastly underestimated our ancestors’ boat building capabilities.

A dugout boat depends on the size of the tree used. Some boats fashioned from ONE tree are capable of carrying sixty people. Whoa! That’s a big boat.

Back to the planning board, right? Since my fantasy world has giant Sequoia type trees, if appears my characters (at least the boat builders) could build any size boat I could possibly dream up, complete with sails, oars, or other necessities.

Which just shows that even minimal research can change and rearrange the wonderful possibilities in storytelling. Now…I’m off to board the boat!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday When It Isn't

Today is probably one of the most disputed holidays we have in the USA. Columbus Day. Revisionist history now declares Columbus anathema blaming him for all sorts of crimes against the native population of the Americas. I think it's all bologna sausage.

He was one--ONE--of many explorers that came to the Americas. ONE. Not the first. Not the last. Nor even the most important. What he did have going for him was a fantastic public relations campaign.

Others arrived in the Americas with little fanfare. As a matter of fact, North and South America have been populated by succeeding waves of settlers for thousands of years and our shores have been visited by folks from both the east and the west.

Some left evidence of their visits in the form of ceramics, art, the exchange of plants and even animals. Indisputable evidence of their visits--DNA--proves they had SOME interaction with the populations that dotted the coasts.

This pattern has been repeated world wide for centuries stretching back before history. To single out one explorer for vilification at this point is unjust. Hindsight is a fine thing, but we cannot go back to change history, nor can we change the results.

Exploration is often based on greed, regardless of the ethnicity of the explorer. Migration follows exploration. And that is based on the basic desires for food, shelter, water, and homes. Neither are peaceful. When you look back through history, you find waves of warfare followed by new settlement. And regardless of the location, the individuals with the more advanced technology usually win.

To impose our twenty-first century values on the past is a mistake. We cannot go back. That way is to direct our energies to an impossible goal.

What we CAN do is go forward. We can work to eliminate hunger, thirst, homelessness, poverty, illness, and pain.

Do we need Columbus Day? Nah. We could call it Explorer's Day. Or maybe we could call it Reparation Day. Both of those choices look back, though. Maybe we should call it National Sales Day. That would be more honest.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Buy! Buy! Buy!

There is a disturbing trend in the social media world, a trend that may accomplish what other trends failed to do. I may fold my tent and sink back into my dark cave.

What is this I terror?

It's the despicable practice of the hard sale by drive-by authors, Tupperware and Pampered Chef ladies, health food practitioners, artists, and other assorted desperate salespersons.

Understand me. I'm not talking about the folks that post on their own "walls" or whatever that particular network calls it. I'm talking about the ones who post on MY wall. You know who I'm talking about. They're the ones who FRIEND you or ADD you to their group without your permission.

No by-your-leave. Just BAMM! And then they pepper you with stuff you don't want, care about, or need to know.

Now, personally, I think the constant posting of materials you're trying to sell on your own wall is counter-productive. I know your shtick. If I want to buy your books, beads, shoes, records, I'll find them. A post when your book is released or when you have a new cover is fine. After that? I'm not paying much attention.

There are a couple circumstances that will absolutely guarantee I will unsubscribe from your posts. And possibly even unfriend you.

Let's see...

#5) Posting offensive posts making fun of religion. Any religion. You don't believe? Fine. Find a little group of like-minded people and discuss it on your page. Otherwise, you're gone.

#4) Offensive political posts. Again. Everyone is allowed an opinion. But my page is open to my grandchildren and family. Whatever is posted there will reflect that reality.

#3) Offensive language. See #4. I write erotic romance. That doesn't mean I have to use filthy language to get my point across. My page is not a porn site.

#2) Bullying in any form. My grandmother was a lady. One of her favorite sayings was, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." No individual out there has the right to arbitrarily decide how another should behave, look, talk, write. Certainly not on my wall.

#1) Badgering me to buy something. It's telemarketing on the Internet. You know...those folks who ambush you over the phone just when you're sitting down to dinner? Yep. That's what it is. Telemarketing via Facebook, Twitter, or a host of other sites. Set up a webpage and quit posting your crap on my page, blog, wall, etc.

Rant over.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Unidentified Flying Objects

On Facebook a fellow author posted a question, asking if anyone had witnessed a UFO. It reminded me of my two encounters--separated over a fifteen year period. Now before we get started, I just want to clarify something. I am NOT saying I saw a space ship. Or a flying saucer. Or aliens.

What did I see? I don't know.

My first encounter was at three o'clock in the morning in the late 1970s. I worked at McDonald's at the time and I was driving home from work on a very lonely, very dark country road north of Houston, Texas. Out yonder in the sky in front of me I noticed something, lit up like a convention of cop cars. I slowed down as I tried to figure out what it was. Very abruptly, it started spinning, then whizzed toward me. I slowed down even more, absolutely positive it was a bunch of emergency vehicles racing toward me and in some weird optical illusion, they just appeared to be in the sky.

But no...whatever it was zipped past me overhead, silently, but still spinning. Well, I stomped on the gas pedal, rolling down that dark road like a host of demons were on my tail. In the mirrors, I could see it pacing me and had the nasty thought it was herding me toward some specific destination. I sped along in the dark, right on the edge of danger as I reached my subdivision. When I pulled in my driveway and rushed into the shelter of my front porch, whatever it was shot straight up, moved over the roof and disappeared. Poof! Vanished.

Nearly fifteen years later, I lived in New York. I worked the evening shift at a warehouse--as did my friend and two sons. One night they sent us all home early. I parked in my driveway around nine-thirty and everyone bailed out of the car, pleased we had an unexpected free night. I was going to walk partway down the street with my friend.

Suddenly, my son exclaimed, "What's that?"

We lived in a small village. It was early enough that there were quite a few people still out and about. In the sky above us was an enormous SOMETHING with a row of flashing lights and it was slowly spinning in place. Many people saw it. It stayed in place for at least fifteen minutes. Then, it suddenly zipped away. What was it? I don't know.

Two days later the "authorities" reported it was a group of ultralight flyers pulling a prank. Uh, no. I've flown in an ultralight. One thing they do not do is hover.

So, they were both unidentified flying objects, but that's about all I can say with certainty. And both experiences were definitely strange.

What about you? Have you ever seen strange things in the sky?


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Let the Ear Hear

Most folks in the U.S. are aware there was a televised political debate last night between the two "main" candidates. The house hunk watched it while I worked in my office, perforce listening to the give and take. Afterwards, I scanned the various commentary on Facebook and Twitter and read some of the blogs posted by the political journalists.

I learned something interesting. Most of the comments were visually based--what the candidates were wearing, their facial expressions, whether or not the commenter liked their smile, which was was obviously bored or excited.

I didn't get any of that. Sitting in the other room as I was, my experience was completely different. There were no extraneous distractions so I listened.

Listening is rapidly fading into a dying art. Our brains are so cluttered with the visual of TV, movies, even phone text, that we fail to use our ears anymore. Speech (and dialogue) is what makes or breaks our stories. Some authors had a terrible time writing dialogue. I wonder if that's because the art of listening has moved to the art of watching?

Do we hear the different cadences in speech? Can we tell anger from excitement, conviction from rage? If we listen to a speech can we discern humor from disgust without the visual cues?

I wonder how different the reactions would be this morning if the debates were broadcast over radio, rather than televised. Would anybody listen? And what would they hear?


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Plot, plot, plot

Usually, when I begin a new book I have a vague idea about the overall plot. Usually. Currently, I'm suffering from a case of brain freeze. Every time I open any of the FOUR wips I'm working on, my brain freezes.

Since my normal mode of working is kaput, I'm trying different ideas. First I'm writing down a list of actions, sort of like one of those charts with all the little arrows. You know--if the hero does "a", then "this" happens; if he does "b", then "that" happens.

Another thing I'm trying it to set the story up similar to a game. I've played a lot of games lately. So the hero sets out on a quest. The quest doesn't have to be a fantasy. Maybe he's trying to find a killer. Anyway, he sets out. He has to go to place "a" to discover a clue...which leads him to place "b" where he'll talk to the old lady who is always looking out her window. She'll tell him something important that will lead him back to the scene of the crime where he'll discover another clue. Yeah, you see my problem.

Then there's the "sticky note" approach. Write one fact on each sticky note and arrange them until you have a story. I don't do well with that. I lose half the notes, knock over the board, get frustrated with the aggravation of it all and stomp off to do the dishes.

Perhaps I should go on a vacation to Peru. Or go visit my friend in Alaska.

Maybe I'll just sit here, hands on keyboard and type. After all that usually works eventually.

How about you? Do you plot?