Thursday, March 28, 2013


Recently, I've spend a lot of time just...sitting. Sleeping. Thinking powerful thoughts that evaporate faster than alcohol in a high wind. I know I've had important ideas but they fade away before I can fix them in my brain.

This is a function of medication few people acknowledge. Oh, once in a while someone will mention how fuzzy their brain seems to be. But most folks don't seem to realize how very much daily meds influence our accomplishments. I've noticed an increasing difficulty where it affects my writing, my short term memory, my loss of function.

This last round of medication when I was sick took that a step further...vertigo. So, not only was I brain fuzzy. Whenever I tried to navigate from room to room, I wasn't always certain I was going to arrive unscathed. I ended up with a large bruise on my belly. When my doctor asked what happened, I was unsure. Hmph. I no doubt walked into something.

Every morning I carefully document how I'm feeling. Through the day, I add updates and what meds I've taken. And there is a definite correlation between mood/attitude and medication. Today, I discussed this issue with my doctor. She estimates the vertigo will fade away by this weekend. Was there a choice? No.

But I submit that most folks take whatever meds are offered without investigating the possible side effects. Sometimes you have to take the trade-off. I know my current crop is necessary to keep me alive. But the trade-off can be devastating when you're not expecting it. And there are days when I wonder at the prospect of spending the rest of my life sitting, thinking vanishing thoughts, is worth the trade-off.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I have a large collection of pictures in my files and after settling on a topic for my blog, I typed 'normal' in the search engine. After culling through the really odd selection that delivered, I settled on the pic above. That fellow looks pretty normal to me.

The advantage to being really sick is all the time you have to read. Over the last few weeks between catnaps, I've spent some time re-reading some old favorites. I couldn't put my finger on the precise reason these books made my keeper shelf, but I read them often.

Then this morning, it all came together. Almost all of the books have characters who would not be classified as normal. And all the rest of the characters in the stories accept them for what they are--a little off center, but interesting.

As a culture, we don't easily forgive or accept those who don't fit in to our preconceived idea of normal. Witness the terrible incidents of bullying and outright physical attacks. But what IS normal? Who decides? Is it just a group perception or has someone made that determination in the past?

If I want to wear reindeer antlers and purple high heels, why does that threaten my fellow man or woman? Who cares? How very boring life would be if we all followed the same path. We must learn to appreciate our differences, rather than demand conformity.

I'm off now to locate my bunny ears and tutu.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring! Spring!

We woke to a bit of snow this morning. I snapped the picture above from our balcony. I call this Fairyland Snow. It's exactly the right consistency and temperature to clump on the tree limbs. And It rarely lasts very long.

A lot of folks are grumbling about the snow this spring as though it's something unusual or extraordinary. I remember more than one snowy Easter from my younger days. Spring is the clash of the seasons between winter and summer so we get a bit of both.

One Easter Sunday my father (a minister) spent much of the day with a chain, towing church members from ditches they slid into. Back then, tow trucks were only called for the worst accidents.

Another Easter (when I was a teen), I was pouting because our family didn't do the new outfit for Easter. Hey! I was shallow enough to wish I had new Easter clothes, too. That Easter we woke to eight inches of snow on the ground--and more coming down. As we drove to our church, we passed another one on the way. I admit I watched those ladies dressed in their pretty pastel outfits with a secret smile as they waded through the snow. I, of course, was nice and warm in my winter clothes and boots.

And of course there were several Easters when it was a good thing the eggs we hid for the kids were plastic. And brightly colored! Some of those eggs we didn't find for several weeks...

I'm pretty philosophical about the weather. It is what it is. Prepare for anything. Have a hot mug of chocolate or coffee or tea. And watch the snow come down. A warm blanket and a good book can make the day better.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Light and Fluffy

Quite a few years ago, another writer asked me to read and comment on a story she'd written. I'd previously read many of her stories, so was a bit taken-aback to find her new story...fluffy. Don't mistake me. It was well written, amusing and interesting. But it wasn't exactly what I was expecting from her. And rather than keeping my mouth shut, I told her that. My comments hurt her feelings. For that I am and always have been sorry.

She pointed out she was going through some bad stuff in her life and just felt like writing something that made her happy. I agreed and life continued, but our relationship was never the same.

Now the shoe is on the other foot. Don't you hate when things come home to roost? I've spent a lot of months writing 'serious' stories. To what purpose? I'm not sure. But I do know I'm tired of it. And now I understand my friend perfectly. I want to write something absurd and silly. Something...light and fluffy.

I used to do that. Perhaps that's where I've gone wrong. It may be I need the relief of light and fluffy to counter the serious and complicated. After all, that's generally how most of us deal with life--with a delicately balanced bit of farce so we can face the dark.

In any case, I've decided it's like swimming. It's not whether it's shallow or deep. The important thing is to get wet. So, I'm off to see whether I'm even capable of writing the absurd. Perhaps I no longer have a comedic sense. Wouldn't that be the ultimate payback?


Friday, March 22, 2013

I Put on my Hat

After a long visit to the doctor yesterday that included receiving IV fluids and a change in meds, I trundled home via a stop for lunch and the aforesaid meds. And crawled into bed.

It's warm in my apartment. But there I was freezing, shivering under four blankets, miserable and feeling sorry for myself. My day was spiraling down, ever so swiftly. I was on the oh-woe-is-me treadmill. I was alternating my time with the covers over my head with brief periods of poking my nose out for a quick breath of 'fresh' air.

And THEN it occurred to me. Yes, an absolutely brilliant idea burst around my bleary brain. I would find my knitted winter cap and wear it! Actually, though fully dressed under the covers I was too cold to get up so the hunk dutifully tracked down the hat and brought it to me. And I put it on.

Within ten minutes, I was appreciably warmer. After a warm nap, I felt well enough to eat dinner--in my hat, of course. No doubt I looked quite silly, but I was comfortable.

I suspect we spend much of life refusing to accept the blindingly obvious. We need to put on our hats. Instead, we try all sorts of other solutions because...well, because knit caps are for outside, not inside, and certainly not for bed.

We would make lousy survivors because we would never see past the way-things-are-supposed-to-be. Live a little. Put on your hat.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Perchance to Sleep

When I'm 'sick', I sleep--pretty much around the clock. It's been that way at least since I was felled by the dastardly flu when I was eleven. This is completely counter to the standard expectation in our culture where sleeping is often viewed as laziness. The corporate structure is not designed to cope with employees who are at home sleeping.

Women who are sleep deprived are more susceptible to heart disease, a host of ailments such as diabetes and thyroid issues, and stroke (I've been there on most of the list because I was probably the most sleep deprived person in New York during my forties and fifties).

Even in my retirement, there's residual guilt about sleeping. I wonder why that is?

Of all the ways the body recovers from illness, sleep is the safest, most natural, and least expensive. It's also often the first signal of impending illness. When I reach that flat-on-my-back-can't-seem-to-stay-awake stage, I generally surrender and crawl under the covers. I'm not talking about the bed-and-book stage. Or the bed-and-television bit. No, when I go to bed for recovery, it's lights out, warm comfy covers, and surfacing only for bathroom breaks and meds. As long as I'm sleeping around the clock...I'm still in healing mode.

Now since women are more affected by sleep deprivation than men are, what's the most romantic thing a man can do for his woman? Make sure she gets her eight hours every night.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day?

A lot of folks celebrate today because they're 'Irish'. Even if they aren't. Because, for true, who's checking out that stuff, anyway?

In our household we never made much of St. Patrick's Day. I was raised a Baptist, so no saints. I have a wee tad of Irish in my background, but the hunk is almost 100% German. And neither of us is really much for drinking, corned beef, or cabbage.

Then something happened to make this day special. At twenty-eight, with three young children, I believed I had a 'tumor'. In a generalized panic, I went off to the doctor. He closely questioned me about my birth control methods (none, as the hunk had a vasectomy years before), and he sent me for an ultrasound.

And that's how I found out on St. Patrick's Day 1978 that I was twenty weeks pregnant with my fourth child. Every year on March 17th I give special thanks for all my children. It seems appropriate, somehow. And far more realistic than green beer and drunken 'Kiss me, I'm Irish' tee-shirts.

So to my children. I love you. I'm so blessed.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Travel back in the Day

As I cleaned up in the kitchen this morning, I had occasion to pitch out an empty oatmeal box. You know, the round ones that plain oats are sold in. It brought back memories of my childhood.

Traveling around the country when I was a kid was very different than it is now. First of all, hotels/motels were rare and mostly patronized by folks with money. I never stayed in a motel until I was about sixteen--and that was only because I was there to keep my cousin company. My first night spent in a hotel was my first night as a married woman.

Normally, when we traveled, even after we were married, we usually spent the night with relatives who lived along the way. Sometimes, we drove a bit out off our route so we had some place to stay, but that was all right. That was the way it worked. And we had the bonus of visiting with folks we didn't otherwise have a chance to see.

Interstates were rare. Almost all the traveling I experienced was on two lane roads that wound over hill and dale, through small towns and large cities. Smart drivers found routes that avoided the larger cities because that was all stop'n'go traffic that wasted travel time. Imagine traveling from Arizona to Chicago, using only two lane roads! Our family did that more than once.

Now meals were another item that was treated quite differently than now. There were no fastfood restaurants. And frankly, our family was pretty poor. Usually, we got along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and whatever fruit we picked up at roadside stands. I remember my folks buying a watermelon, then cooling it off in an irrigation ditch while we ate lunch at a roadside park. Usually, the park had two or three picnic tables...and that was it. Toilet facilities were bushes at the edge of the park. And of course, we carried our own toilet paper. The fancier parks had a hand pump where you could get water--if you had a container.

I suppose you're wondering about that oatmeal box. Well, this was before the days of Tupperware and such. I remember my grandmother baking small chocolate cakes (cupcakes without the papers) and packing them in empty oatmeal boxes so they stayed pretty fresh. Sometimes the boxes were used for cookies. Whoever was responsible for the oatmeal box of treats was always very careful to make sure it didn't get squashed!

We didn't have air conditioning in the car. Or seatbelts. If the weather got too hot, my parents would dampen small towels, roll up the front windows so the towels covered the windows and then opened the little vent windows so the wind would blow over the damp towel and cool down the car interior.

And most cars had a heavy canvas water bag that hung across the front grill. Gas stations were only in towns. If you had a breakdown, you always wanted to make sure you'd have water so you could survive until help arrived.

My favorite memory is the night we drove across the desert, the full moon was filling the car with light, and Purple People Eater was playing on the radio.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Beauty

Awwww. Look what I have! This is the cover for the second Flowers of Camelot print anthology. It will be available April 3, 2013. Daffodil, Magnolia and Larkspur! I love this cover.

In other news, NJ Walters mentioned my book Shadows on Stone on her blog yesterday with a lovely comment. Check it out! That's the sort of wonderful encouragement any writer loves and needs. I spent the day smiling. Thank you, NJ!

Y'all have a gorgeous, wonderful weekend!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sleep Noises

The hunk has sleep apnea so for many, many years now he's slept with a C-Pap machine. And yeah, it's a weird look. But life vs. heart attack pretty much negates any downside about sleeping with a machine.

In the last two or three years, though, there have been 'issues' with the machine. All this time we've believed it was the mask. I've suffered through a continuous squealing, moaning, groaning collection of sound effects, night after night. Some nights it sounds like a bunch of cats in heat. Other times you'd think a plane was revving up to take off.

Anyway, his current machine does not have a sim card so the doc can check the actual number of apneas he's having per hour. An apnea is when he literally stops breathing. When he first started using the machine he had over sixty apneas per hour. Now he's down to four.

The doctor performs checks regularly and arranged for him to use a different machine--one with the sim card--for a month. Well, now! Turns out the mask was not the problem. Imagine. An entire month without cats squealing and airplanes revving! I've slept better this past month than I have in years.

So, he'll be getting a new machine. We'll have to pay a big chunk for it because insurance won't cover it, but hey! It will be worth it because I'll be able to sleep through the night.

No more sleep noises!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Changing the Story

About six months ago I received my rights back on a short story. It was a story from an anthology where all the back stories were intertwined. As a stand-alone, it doesn't have enough to 'stand'. So I've been sitting on it, wondering what I could/would do with it.

About two weeks ago, it occurred to me I could revise it to fit in one of my series. The thing is--it would take considerable change. I liked the characters. I liked the story premise. But in order to fit in my series, the hero would have to become an angel/shifter. The story would have to change location. And most certainly, it would need to be lengthened and receive a new title.

My question is this--how does the author convey to the potential reader that the new book was loosely (very loosely) based on a previously published short story? I once bought a book by a favorite author, only to discover at least fifty percent of the new book was based on another book by the same author. There was no author's note in the book--nothing to explain why entire chapters were lifted from her first book, word for word.

So. What say you? Is this a no-no? Will readers be annoyed if certain scenes seem familiar? The short story had a VERY limited readership. Maybe I'm worrying over nothing?

All opinions welcome.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Zombie Debt Collectors

Every morning punctually at nine a.m. our telephone rings. After extensive experience, we screen all calls...because we know by now, the early call is a zombie debt collector. Not our debt--we're a cash-only household with no debt.

No, these collectors are looking for people who owe them from years ago. Some of the zombie debt collectors have been calling here over ten years now. Ninety-nine percent of the calls are robo-calls. I recognize all the phone numbers now--even when there's no identifier on the caller ID.

If I could talk to each one of them, here's what I would say:

1) You've had the wrong number for ten years.

2) No, I don't know George Smith, never knew him, don't know where he is, don't want to know where he is.

3) If I knew where he was, I wouldn't tell you because now I'm ticked off from you calling my number multiple times every day.

4) Stop calling here. Take my phone number off your list. GO AWAY! Let me sleep some morning past nine.

5) If you want real answers, use real bodies I can talk to and convey all of the above.

The zombies are here. They're just not where people are really looking for them...


Monday, March 11, 2013

Free Book Myth

This last week I received an e-mail from a woman requesting a print copy of one of my books...since she was such a loyal fan of my work. I will say right now--I don't send out print or e-copies of my books. In rare instances, I offer a print copy as a prize for a contest. In even rarer circumstances, I give free print copies to family and close friends.

There seems to be a false idea about the publishing industry. Some folks believe authors receive a lot of free copies of their books from the publisher. That's just not so. When a new book is released in print, the author may receive a few copies...maybe five. And that's it.

All additional copies are purchased by the author. A very limited number of publishers allow the author to purchase them at a discount. Most publishers offer no discount to the author so they pay FULL PRICE.

So when a reader receives a print book from an author, that author has PAID for that book. There are no free books. Most of my print books cost fifteen dollars per book. If I then pay to mail it to a contest winner, my total investment in that reader is around twenty dollars.

There are no free books. If you receive a print book as a prize, treasure it. The author has invested real money to provide that book. And if you enjoyed the story, make sure you tell all your friends about it!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Knitting Socks--Part 17

I finished! Mailing the socks to my daughter today because her feet are always cold. I learned a lot about knitting--and particularly about knitting with double pointed needles, modern knitting terms, and following a pattern.
Now this is my new project. It's a crocheted lap blanket (a gift) crocheted in one piece. Yes, that means there are lots of strands of yard hanging down as I change color every twenty stitches. And each square is a different stitch. I call this project "Jewels". When finished it will be 4 1/2 feet by 5 feet with all the color swatches enclosed with a black border.

Do you have a crafty project going? If so, what?


Thursday, March 7, 2013


Every writer hits a few rough spots in the road. Some may be internal (no new writing ideas). Others may be external (family or job issues). And a few may be health issues (medication or illness).

But the time comes when the writer must move forward or give up. Writing is one of those creative crafts that recede the longer you wait between the working stints. Once you stop, it's increasingly harder to start again.

Personally, I'm a putterer between sprints. I research. I mull. I play mental 'what if'. Occasionally, in desperation I write a jump start--a short exercise with new characters, new scenes.

Then, the day arrives when I sit at my computer and write. That is not to say it isn't a struggle. As I get older, the words sometimes elude me. I KNOW the correct word, but can't dig it out from my memory. When I'm rolling, every halt to pin down the right word is another road block.

Why do I do it? Because nothing gives me that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment like writing does. The creative process is hard. But when I go back, when I reread my work, I'm amazed that I wrote that. I don't recall putting exactly those words and those ideas together and the very notion that I'm a published writer serves to lift me and encourage me.

I spent some time this last two weeks rereading the stories that precede my current works in progress. Part of that is simply because we forget what we wrote. Oh, not the main sense of the story, but the details. Actually, we forget a LOT of the details. For instance, I've used Shadrach as a secondary character's name in three different series! I didn't remember that.

I was also rereading them to assess how difficult it would be to revise two short stories I have the rights for so they would fit in other series of mine. I think I can do it. And I liked those characters enough I want them to have a wider exposure than they received the first time around. I believe they just weren't in the right place at the right time.

So the time has come. Now I have to 'put up or shut up'. And I find I'm not ready to shut up.


Friday, March 1, 2013

I'm Reading!

Oooooh, don't interrupt me. I'm reading!

My children probably heard that a zillion times when they were growing up. Or something similar. Dinner burned while I stirred the pot with on hand and held a book in the other. Family impatiently knocked on the bathroom door while I finished "another chapter".

I've always carried a book--or two--in my purse or diaper bag every time I left the house. And vacation? That required an entire bag of books.

Then the e-book revolution came along, making the availability of books even easier. Now I can take a library along with me when I leave my home. I enjoy that convenience, but I also love reading the print books on my library shelves at home.

I grew up with books in my home. My parents had a real reverence for books and I was taught to treat all books with respect. I look at the current generation of youth and wonder if they are growing up with that same respect for books...or if the electronic book is something viewed as less valuable and worthy.

What do you think?