Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Worst Day of My Life

The other day a woman said to me, "This is the worst day of my life."

All things are relative, of course. Some events might be minor annoyances for one person and life-changing catastrophes for another. So I make no judgments about the importance of one thing or another to the individuals involved.

It did make me think about what I would consider the worst day of my life. What criteria would I use? There really aren't that many life events that are truly so enormous they initiate major changes in the way we continue on. Not all such events are necessarily bad. Marriage and the birth of a child are just two normally happy events that inevitably lead to life change.

Finally, I settled on my criteria for worst day of my life. It must be a bad/traumatic event. It must be something that initiated major changes in who I was/how I viewed myself/how my life was lived. For various reasons I ruled out some events that might on the face of them seem eminently qualified for worst day.

1) The day my three year old son drank charcoal lighter fluid. When we walked into the emergency room, they initially told us he was dead. It was a bad day. He survived, though and is still kicking now at age thirty-nine.

2) The day both cars died, the propane tank for the house nearly blew up, and I was stranded in another town without a way home. Yes, that was stressful. But ultimately, it wasn't life threatening. And in the way that all such things work out, the next day was better.

3) The day my four year old daughter was diagnosed with brain damage. We were informed we'd be lucky if we were able to teach her to dress and feed herself. It was devastating news. But there was also hope because she qualified for special training. She grew up, graduated from high school, is a shift manager at McDonalds, married and has one little boy and is expecting her second child in about four weeks.

4) The day my youngest daughter chose to marry a man in prison. It was heart-breaking because I could see the future for her. He finished his sentence, they had a child and eventually divorced. But like all bad things, there was an unexpected blessing. Without him, I wouldn't have a grandchild who has brought a lot of joy to my life.

You may ask what I consider the worst day of my life. There are three.

1) The day my mother died. I was ten, we were moving from Arizona to Indiana. In the midst of the trip, she died in a car accident. Suddenly what was already a traumatic event in my young life became a catastrophic event. In the following days, I had to adjust to a new home, new school, new way of life all without my mother.

2) The day I delivered my youngest daughter to a school for incorigable kids. She was fourteen. And she was there for twenty-two months. In that long bleak period, I had to face my own failure as a parent. It took many years before my daughter and I were comfortable with each other. But that day when I walked away was a black day in my life.

3) The day my husband had a grand mal seizure in the main aisle at Wal-Mart while we were on vacation. It was totally unexpected. We were hours away from home and family. And we only dimly perceived all the ways our lives would change in the future. I was alone. And I was afraid. Kneeling there on the floor next to him, I realized just how helpless a person can be.

If at times it seems that I don't get too excited about things others might consider catastrophic, perhaps it's because I've learned a hard lesson about life. "This too shall pass."


Monday, August 30, 2010

Parlez vous Francais?

Last night I dreamed in French. That wouldn't have been bad, but my four years of high school French are more than forty years behind me.

I had an apartment in France (Paris?). A man dressed in a yellow striped soccer shirt invaded my apartment. I hit him with something, knocking him out. Then when I tried to convince other people in my apartment to call the police, they refused. Eventually, I opened the door and yelled for help. And while I was trying to summon assistance, he escaped out the back door.

So far, the dream was surprisingly coherent.

Then the cat ran out the door. Not my cat. Just a cat.

After that, the dream fragmented. There was a scene in a restaurant--or cafe. It mostly seemed to be about a crusty loaf of bread? Again, the entire conversation was in French.

And there was another scene when I was running down the street. Was I chasing someone? Or was I escaping from someone? I don't know. Clearly, I was in a foreign city and my internal senses identified it as a French city.

Then I woke up. What's interesting is all conversations, signs, etc., were in French. I had no problem understanding the language. And I haven't spoken or read French for many years. I've never been outside the United States. Certainly, I've never been to France. So we'll chalk this one up to some really weird subconscious stuff going on!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

End of summer...

Whatever the calendar says, when school starts, summer is over. Oh, we may still have warm weather. It might even be hot enough to swim. But in our neck of the woods, the pool closes when the kids go back to school (except for Labor Day weekend which always seems to be cold).

The hot days aren't on the weekends, anyway. Exhibit A: tomorrow (first day of school) it's supposed to be ninety four degrees. I ask you...what good is that? No one's playing outside. No one's swimming. Nope, they're sitting in steaming classrooms, sweating and dozing off.

And since the kids are in school, the parents can't really take advantage of the weather to go to the lake or the beach. Actually, because school lets out in the middle of the afternoon, about the farthest you can go is to the mall. And only half of the stores are still open in our mall. I figure sometime after Christmas the rest will close or move out. Then we'll just have a jigunda set of empty buildings. Maybe they can turn it into a running track for school teams to use in bad weather.

Where did the time go? Isn't it strange how fast summer goes and how slooooow winter passes?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Evening Showers

Our shower is not working. And in the general scheme of things we're near the bottom of the list for the maintenance department for our apartment complex.

When I was a kid, we didn't have showers. We had a tub. Almost everywhere we lived, we had a big ol' iron clawed bathtub. And baths were...a twice weekly job.

On Wednesday night you took a bath whether you needed it or not. And on Saturday, the entire family took turns having their hair washed in the kitchen sink and then you had your Saturday night bath.

As I reached the age that such things became important, legs and armpits were shaved once a week. And that was pretty much it for the grooming portion of life. I don't think I owned deodorant until I was in my mid-teens. Certainly, it wasn't a big deal back then.

I think it must have been because commercials for personal products were few, far between, and very different. We didn't have television. I lived out in the "outback" of Arizona. Television coverage was sparse. And we didn't have one anyway. Actually, I had my first television when I married. And back then, the commercials were mostly about cigarettes and TV dinners--which just goes to show you that commercials aren't necessarily in your best interest, anyway.

Anyway, since the shower is broken everyone who was dead set on getting clean took a bath. The bathtubs now are tiny. Short. And difficult to get out of. And for some strange reason, it takes longer to take a bath. There was some discussion about the inconvenience.

And of course, I told them about the joys of bathing while camping out. First of all, back then there were no bathhouses or even pit toilets. Somewhere in the piles of old pictures I have, there's a picture of me sitting in a galvanized washtub, having my Saturday evening bath. I can see that picture in my mind's eye with vivid clarity. Actually, I can remember that bath. That camping area had log "lean-to"s that most people used as their temporary kitchen when they camped. The washtub was sitting inside the lean-to. And an old gray army blanket was hung on the open side to block some of the evening breeze. Just beyond the lean-to's open side, my father was sitting by the crackling fire, singing.

I think I was five.

I'm kind of glad we didn't have bathhouses back then. Otherwise, I wouldn't have that memory of my mother bathing me in the washtub. Convenience isn't everything.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Smelling the roses...

Too much work and not enough play has been a problem--especially for women--for a long time. But for the "at-home" worker, it can be impossible to separate work from home responsibilities. There's no clear cut-off.

When you work outside the home, there are clear stop and start times for your work day. But when you work at home, there is a tendency to blur the times so you maybe have coffee and start after you do various chores. And then your "stop" stretches into the evening. Pretty soon, you're pretty much working from get-up to go-to-bed because there are so many interruptions. More and more the pressure to get-it-done (whatever "it" is) starts to overwhelm.

When the summertime schedule rolls around, it's worse. No doubt about it.

The combination of kids at home, summer activities and longer daylight hours can be a real killer--literally. The at home worker arises earlier and goes to be later and that's not good for the health. I've been attempting some down time in the evening.

Around eight p.m. I close down the computer and go into my bedroom and read. By ten p.m. I try to be asleep. I'm not sure I feel any better, but I'm enjoying the reading and there's no pressure to "get-it-done".

In the morning, the first hour is my down time. I read my e-mail, check out facebook and twitter, and write a blog for the day if I haven't written it the evening before. And then I start my writing day. As the household settles into a schedule once school starts, I suspect things will become even more defined.

In any case, I'm trying to stop and smell the roses a bit more. What about you? What is your down time activity?


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

House Hunk's Birthday

Today is the house hunk's 63rd birthday! He's been retired for six months now and is finally settling in to the "good life". Riiiight.

The thing about retirement is you go from doing something everyday to having nothing to do at all. For 38 years he worked at the same company. But we're getting in the swing of things finally. And we're kicking around plans for a possible relocation next year so it will make things easier to stretch those skinny retirement dollars.

In the meantime, my love, have a fabulous day! Play your computer games. Talk to the kids. Read a book. And eat cake!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

End of Summer

The kids have four more days of summer before school starts. The end of summer should be hot and suitable weather to go swimming. Instead, we have cold, rainy weather. What's up with that?

Where did summer go?

This is AUGUST.

And why is school starting before Labor Day? Every year school lets out later and later and starts earlier and earlier. If kids are gonna have year-round school, why not get on with it and make it official instead of this fake-out they're doing now?

Or give the kids the last two weeks of December and the first two weeks of January off. At least then they could play with their Christmas toys. By the time they're tired of them, they'll be glad to go back to school.

Interesting times... I'm glad mine are all grown.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Do you vote?

Not too long ago, I was sent an e-mail detailing the trials women went through to earn the right to vote. If I could post the entire thing, I would, but I can't figure out how to do it so I'm going to post the highlights.

I'm sorry I don't know who wrote the original e-mail. All the headers and info was deleted. But I believe it's still important enough to pass on. If anyone knows who wrote this post, please let me know! I would like to credit it to the correct woman.

Read it. And then make sure you vote!

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk
about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Just Write!

Have an excellent Friday! I'm off to work on Phantom's Rest...


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Revision Hell

Now that I've finally finished my current edit obligations (though I'm sure there will be more) I'm back to working on my current work in progress. Since I've been away from the story for about three weeks, this is a prime time to read it with a fresh eye.

Every writer has their own working styles and steps. When I get close to the end of a story I like to step away from it for a while and look at it after several weeks away. I print it out (yep, on real paper), put it in a three ring binder and walk away from the computer.

Then with my handy-dandy red pen and a pile of sticky notes, I read, take notes, mark changes and typos and errors. And when I finish I have a clearer idea of where I am as opposed to where I would like to be with the story.

As I'm reading, I put together a rough time-line of when what happened where. Sometimes I discover I have a character in two places at the same time. Not good. Once I found I had three different costumes on the same character at one party.

I also do a running list of all the "facts" I've mentioned regarding the main characters. If I mention that Joanie Heroine doesn't drink coffee, then it would be good to not find her in the cafe having a cup of joe with her girlfriend. If she started the story with red hair, it would not be good for Bob Hero to be playing with her ebony tresses at the end of the book.

The last thing I do is fill in a sheet with a list of characters from the book, no matter how minor. Because??? I once used "Jonah" for a minor character name three times within three chapters. I knew I liked that name, but really. Three Jonah's in one town?

Finally, I return to the computer and implement all the changes/revisions I jotted down. And then I finish the book. I always thought my need to print out the manuscript was just my own quirk. But recently I read an article that explained that human brains process the written electronic word differently than the written printed word. So I don't feel so bad anymore when I print and revise.

What about you? Do you revise? If so, what is your process?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Phone Sex...

I've always wondered what the attraction was with phone sex. I confess that it never did much for me. Perhaps that was because I had a passel of kids running around before we ever really had a phone available...the first two years of our marriage we didn't have a phone because we couldn't *gasp* afford one. If we really needed to make a phone call we walked down to the payphone on the corner and fed it enough dimes to make our call. Somehow, I can't envision either of us wasting dimes on phone sex.

By the time we had a phone, we also had a couple of rugrats running around and for sure, the last thing on my mind was sex. The other problem was privacy. There wasn't any. Our apartment was so tiny our bed was in the dining room.

Then as we got older there was the problem of the extension phone. You could be talking in the bedroom while your twelve year old was listening in on the dining room phone. Fortunately, all the kids ever heard was the house hunk and I discussing which bill would be paid that week with the disappearing paycheck. Our usual method of decision was tossing the bills in the air and the last one to hit the floor got paid.

By the time the kids all left home...wait a minute. They still haven't left home. Ahhhh, that must be why we haven't tried phone sex lately. Tough to do when you have to talk in code. Besides, the hunk's retired now. He's in "his" office (the bedroom--where his computer is) and I'm in "my" office (the bedroom at the other end of the apartment). I guess now we would need walkie-talkies instead as we haven't jumped on the bandwagon where everyone in the family has a cell phone.

Of course, walkie-talkies broadcast everything you say. He would love that. He always puts the phone on "speaker" when he's talking anyway cause he's going deaf. That would certainly make things interesting, wouldn't it?

I have a feeling we'll never get around to phone sex until one of us is in a nursing home. And by then we'll be thinking "Sex? What is that?"


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Spelling and Reading...

Some words just escape the brain. Personally, I think most words should be spelled phonetically. Then school would be skul. Or if you insist, skool. Wouldn't that be easier? All "ool" words would be spelled with the ool. skool, kool, rool, mool... And the "k" sound would always be a "k" only. So chek, kik, sik, lik. Much easier!

I was reading last weekend with my younger granddaughter. She had no idea of the relationship between old, gold, sold. We were reading a Dr. Seuss book and she caught on pretty quickly that the words rhymed, but not that the same sequence of letters sounded the same.

This puzzles me because that was a big part of how I was taught to read. Reading is a matter of "knowing the code". So if you know "old", then you also know how to add the letter in front to make other words like mold and fold.

I wonder why they don't teach the code anymore?


Monday, August 16, 2010


Over the last couple of weeks, I've been buried deep in the edit cave working on edits for one book. Beginning today, I'll be working on the edits for the next book in the queue. That's how things work sometimes in the author's world. Sort of a feast or famine scenario.

Whilst in the midst of editing, I read a blog written by a brand new author about editing. She was overwhelmed because someone told her she should only have minimal edits--therefore, she must be a lousy writer.

I will be very frank about my experience over the last two weeks. I was a bit put out when I first received the edits for this book. On the face of it, it didn't look like there was much to do, but every single question required a fairly extensive revision--if I intended to do the best job I could.

That, of course, is the key. How determined was I?

I suspect I could have done less. I could have sloughed off and done the minimum. But after getting my irritation out of my system, I sat down and worked. And worked. And worked. At times, it seemed like these would be the never-ending edits. More???

When I believed I had done everything I could, I saved the entire book to another file, accepted all the changes...and printed it out. And then I began from the first word and read it, marking every typo and error and question with my handy-dandy red pen. You would be surprised at the number of errors I found. It took nearly three days to read it.

Then it was back to the computer for more corrections. I finally finished it and sent it off to my editor on Saturday night. And when I did, I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

There will no doubt be more edits for this book. And of course, there will be final line edits for it. But at this point, I know with great certainty that I did the best I could.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Great e-Book Divide

Over the past few weeks, things in e-book land have been hopping to say the very least. There has been much speculation about how the publishing world is (or has) changed and what it all means for the consumer, the publisher, and yes, for the writer.

One particular thing I've noticed is the great divide between print books and e-books remains on those blogs/reviewer sites that purport to have a finger on the pulse of publishing. Even when they review an e-book, it's still a book from a NY pub. Authors with smaller publishers still struggle for recognition.

The way I see it, is this--the new crop of e-book customers merely look for the same NY authors in digital form and are mostly completely unaware of the publishers--and books available from the independent digital publishers. Hence the same divide there's always been between print/digital. It's just moved to a new forum.

Until digital customers are truly aware of all the possibilities, the divide will remain. Independent digital publishers will continue to be an unrecognized portion of the digital market.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On the down slope...

Getting there! Hopefully, I'll finish the edits today!

In the meantime, tonight at 7PM I'll be at Love Romances Cafe for my monthly chat about books. I hope you'll drop by to visit. For more info, check out the box at the upper right!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Still editing...

Still in the editing cave.

On the up side, I received a lovely note from a fellow author about Carnal Camelot. It certainly gave me a much needed confidence boost!


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hot Summer Reading II

MysticValley, Book One
Fed up and heartsick, Dancer, virtuoso violinist and assassin, decided to retire despite the angry objections of his boss. On the run for his life, he headed for a hideaway in the mountains. Safe in the warm shelter of his cave, Dancer awoke to the strong perfume of flowers. His investigations revealed a tunnel leading to another cave and a beautiful valley. After a quick survey of his new surroundings he was shocked to find that the tunnel had disappeared, trapping him in Mystic Valley.

A gardener and amateur botanist, Eppie spent her lonely days searching out new plants for the inhabitants of Mystic Valley while she waited for her destined bond-mate to find his way to the valley. Now time is running short. From the instant they forged a mind bond, her body began schalzina, the biological preparation for physical bonding in valley women. Each new occurrence of schalzina is stronger and nudges Eppie another step closer to the final consequence—death—unless Dancer reaches the valley in time for their oath-binding and physical bonding.

Will he agree to an immediate joining with this beautiful stranger?

Book two in the Sequins, Saddles and Spurs series.

Lola Lamont leaves Vegas with two pals, never imagining they’d break down in small-town Texas. So what’s a former showgirl to do when she runs smack dab into the hottest sheriff south of the Mason Dixon line? Why, jump his bones, of course!

Sam Campbell takes one look at the Vegas Bombshell and knows damn good and well she belongs in his bed. She probably has the words gold digger tattooed to her ass but he’s ready to take what the sexy blonde has to offer. Vowing to protect his heart, Sam rocks her world. Too bad she’s rocking his right back. Sam is more than ready to handle some sass, spunk and sex, but is he willing to gamble on love?

Imogen, Gage and Liam relax at a luxury resort for a week’s vacation and some extra-hot ménage sex. The gardens are beautiful, the meals are delicious and the facilities are excellent—swimming pools, beach, tennis and golf. The men are delicious too, and Imogen is having a wonderful time—until bossy Gage makes a few autocratic decisions that remind Imogen of her manipulative father. Imogen has to decide whether the best orgasms of her life are worth risking potential heartbreak.

See something that looks interesting? Just click on the book cover for more information!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When I was a kid...

My grandkids absolutely hate to hear about how things were when I was a kid. The minute they hear "When I was your age..." you see their eyes roll.

I suspect it's because they can't quite imagine me ever being a kid. It just doesn't compute--even though they've seen pictures of me when I was a girl.

When I was a kid, I fell on a galvanized metal bucket and cut my lower lip. I was three. That was nearly sixty years ago and I still have the scar. The accident delayed our camping vacation by several hours while the doctor patched me up.

When I was a kid, I turned over my little red wagon, dumping my baby brother out on the sidewalk. Nope, I didn't do it on purpose. In the way of all sidewalks everywhere, one section tilted because of a tree root underneath it. When my wagon hit that tilt, it naturally turned over. My baby brother was lying in the wagon on a bed pillow. Hmmm. Maybe I did permanent damage or...

When I was a kid, I opened the car door on Easter Sunday as we were driving down the road. My brother (same one as above!) rolled out of the car and down in a ditch. I still remember my father pulling over on the shoulder and running back down the road. The Easter egg hunt was delayed while he was checked out by the doctor.

When I was a kid, my older brother and I convinced my middle brother to eat the food in the dog bowl. He seemed to like it and as far as I can remember he didn't get sick. I have noooo idea why my mom felt compelled to us that willow switch on us. No idea at all.

When I was a kid, I went hunting for a gila monster with my boyfriend. He was nine and I was eight. That probably wouldn't have been toooo bad except we were supposed to be watching our younger brothers and sisters. Naturally, that didn't stop us--we simply dragged them along with us. And when our parents caught us, we ate our dinner standing up.

When I was a kid, that same boyfriend and I went hunting for firewood when our families went to a cookout. Instead, we found a snake...and brought it back to the picnic. Oh, man, the stupid things you do for love.

When I was a kid, I rode my bicycle off a cliff. It was a small cliff. We lived on a steep hill. I rode the bike down the hill to the "end" of our street. Ooooops! The brakes didn't work so I went sailing down, down, down about fourteen feet to the yard below. And though there were no broken bones...it hurt.

When I was a kid, I was watching my brothers while my parents made a quick trip to the store. My youngest brother had a seizure. Since he was prone to seizures, we had a bottle of medicine (a red colored syrup) in the medicine cabinet. I believe it might have been phenobarbital. Anyway, I couldn't get him to be still enough to give him a spoonful so I pried his mouth open and poured some in. And he didn't have another seizure for like...forty years.

When I was a kid, I caught a family of scorpions on my parents' bedroom wall, scooped them into an old mayonnaise jar and carted them off to school. I got into big trouble for bringing them to school--not because anyone was in danger from the scorpions. No, the school authorities were upset because I brought a glass jar to school. They were afraid it might break and someone could get a cut from the glass. Ah, for the old days...


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Your call...

Dear Telemarketer/Bill Collector/Surveyer/Other...

Your calls are ignored for the following reasons:

1)You don't leave a message. If you don't leave a message, then by definition you are a prank caller. Why would I worry about speaking to you?

2)You leave an incomplete message. "This is an attempt to collect a debt. Please call number @#$%^." Uh-huh. If you don't bother to say who you're calling, why should I worry? Obviously, it's not me, right?

3)You have the wrong number BUT you are a machine so it's impossible for me to tell you it's a wrong number. I wonder how many times your machine will call before it gives up?

4)Your message begins "If you would like to hear this message in Spanish, press one..." Nope. I don't want to hear it in Spanish so I hang up.

5)Your message begins "--24593u". Who knows what the rest of the message was?

6)If you really want me to answer the phone, then a real person should make the call. When they do, I answer the phone, inform them they've called the wrong number, and after that they don't call again.

7)How do I know the rest are wrong numbers? I don't owe anybody any amount of money anywhere.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Early release???

Okay. I don't normally get involved in political things as it seems to me that's something best kept private--mostly. BUT, I'm just sayin', if it was one of my family that went to jail, they wouldn't be walking out after fourteen days of a ninety day sentence. AND it wouldn't have been a ninety day sentence to begin with, whether the jails were over-crowded or not. (In one family member's case, they just shipped him off to a county where the jails weren't crowded.)

So it appears justice for the rich is very different from justice for the poor and the two-tiered system is alive and well in this country. No wonder the young and rich keep repeating their behaviors. There are no consequences!

Enough said.