Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Anny Who?

An interesting thing came out of yesterday's post. A fellow writer asked me if I'd ever considered using a different penname. As she pointed out, Anny Cook is sort of an old-fashioned name and doesn't really conjure up visions of erotic romance.

I don't reject this notion out of hand. It's possible my penname is a handicap. Possible. But I have author friends who have old-fashioned names (whether their own or a penname) and their books sell like hotcakes. 

I also have a couple friends who believe certain of my books should have been published under an entirely different penname as they're not very erotic, with most of the story focusing on the plot. It's also possible they are correct in their assessments.

There are difficulties inherent in multiple pennames. One is recognition. What little bit of recognition I've won under the penname Anny Cook has been hard fought. I quail at the thought of starting over with a new unknown name. At this point it would be difficult-to-impossible to split my published books and establish not one, but two new pennames: one for the erotic romance stories (since Anny Cook is not sexy enough) and another for the unsexy romance stories (since Anny Cook already has a reputation for writing sexy books).

I suppose I could write the sexy stuff as Blazing Anny Cook and the tamer stuff as Nanny Anny Cook. That way I could retain the name recognition while sending a strong message about the content. Eventually, I would no doubt just be referred to as Blazing or Nanny. But I could bear up under the weight. I'm a strong woman. Never mind the strong part.

I. Am. Woman!

I have this vision sometime in the next century of being rediscovered in an obscure dusty digital file. Some academic has done a thesis on the Two Faces of Anny Cook--Blazing vs. Nanny--Who is the real Anny Cook?

What do y'all think? Do sales depend on the author's name? Can a clever penname make a bestseller? And is a penname reboot worth the recognition loss?

Blazing Nanny Anny Cook...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Income and Outgo

This is the time of the month when "royalty" payments come in--if you have any. I have several different publishers. The payments were $3.99, $6.82, and $2.37. 

Balance that against my dental bill from today. $1182. That's my share after insurance. And I'm blessed to have insurance because the house hunk is retired. 

Originally, I wrote a long whiny blog about money and expenses. And then when it was all out of my system, so to speak, I deleted it.

A lot of people don't have money. Most people don't have money. People the world over have no shelter, no food, no basic necessities. We look at the few haves and wonder why we're the have nots. Contrary to what some choose to believe, it's not because people refuse to work. It's because there aren't any jobs. Guess what?

With no job, there's no income. And with no income, with the best of good will, there's no outgo. And the spiral continues. Or maybe it's a ripple. Whatever it is, it touches people all around us.

So. I live in a country where I have access to dental care. They're willing to take payments. What more can one ask? When I get up in the morning, I'm thankful for all I have--even on the days when I almost forget how blessed I am. It could be worse. It has been worse in the past. For now, I'm good.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Five Rings

I'm sure a zillion words will be written about the Olympics and the Opening Ceremonies. Maybe even two zillion. Some will critique the program (too long, too hokey, too loud, too something-or-other). Some will pontificate on the esoteric meaning behind some of the more obscure moments.

Here's my two cents worth.

The pageantry, the lovely Queen leaping from a helicopter with Bond, James Bond, the singing, the dancing, the fireworks all are meaningless without the parade of nations. Every two years we humans get together at some designated location to compete in sport. With a blessedly few exceptions, we carry out this event in a peaceful, even joyous manner.

Is there national loyalty? Absolutely. Does this spectacle stop wars, erase bigotry, or solve religious differences? Not a chance.

But watching the stunning stream of athletes proudly marching into the arena behind their flags, I was struck by the simple truth--we are all human. Whether our origin is a tiny island in the south Pacific or a huge country like China, we are human, more alike than different, when it comes to muscles, skin, and bone.

Color, religion, politics, gender all take a back seat to our basic humanity. We laugh, we cry, we deal with jubilation and grief. We are more alike than we are different. And our origins are a matter of chance, mostly. Consider that for a moment.

Attitudes, traditions, religion are generally determined by our place of birth. They aren't a facet of our humanity or inherent superiority, but a result of where we grew to maturity. We can change. If we desire it enough, we can make different choices than those imposed on us by our backgrounds.

We can choose to interact with our fellow men and women on an individual basis, not reacting to their ethnicity or religion, their sexual preferences or their political affiliations in a knee-jerk fashion, but striving to see past the facade to their hearts and humanity.

That's the ultimate lesson of the Olympics.

Monday, July 23, 2012


For the last couple days the hunk and I have been emptying the kitchen cabinets and packing the stuff in there as tomorrow our maintenance guys are going to replace all our cabinets. It's a job.

As I'm going through the stuff in the cabinets it strikes me that most of it has gone unused since we moved to Baltimore. We have no family within hours. And usually we go to them for holidays--not the other way around so the "special" dishes and glasses and platters I've accumulated over the years--well, they're not getting much use, are they?

Perhaps it's time to pass them one. There are two sets of Christmas glasses. Three special platters. Candy jars for Christmas AND Thanksgiving. Some of my kids decorate for the holidays because they have children. The hunk and I don't generally set out a lot of stuff.

What comprises an heirloom? Is my treasure their trash? The glasses in the picture were given to me by my mother in my hope chest. Someday, I'll pass them on. But I wonder if they'll have any value to my children or grandchildren?

I have a small glass chicken that my grandmother once used in her kitchen to hold sponges and scrubbies on the sink. It sits in my office as a reminder of my grandparents--one of the very few items I have that belonged to them. It's monetary value is probably zero. But it has sentimental value to me because they used it on a daily basis.

So what makes something an heirloom? What things do you keep or plan to pass on to your children?


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Zen Queen

I once wrote a post about disaster preparedness. While most of the feedback was agreeable and positive, a couple commenters complained about my negative attitude and my focus on a bleak future.

Generally, I try to write about things that accent the positive. So imagine my surprise when I received a string of e-mails poking at my pollyanna viewpoints. Clearly, I must be a fake person because I never post about anything controversial or negative.

I confess this has me baffled.

Just for the record...I'm mostly a level-headed individual. Life has taught me the futility of living a wildly emotional existence. Yeah, there are things that piss me off. I try to take direct action instead of bitching about them. And there are things that bring me joy. I try to share them without boring my friends to death.

Life is a long string of ups and downs. I can complain about the downs or I can deal. At this point, dealing seems to be the most pragmatic approach. There are so many others out there coping with much worse circumstances. Why should I add my puny complaints?

It seems to me we spend entirely too much time focusing on the minutia of life. We don't communicate. We post pretty pictures with someone else's words printed on them. Is that because we have no words of our own? Perhaps.

Why not invest in some contemplation time, some time to think or meditate or consider the world around us? When was the last time you stopped for five minutes and thought about something other than self? Not in anger or despair or euphoria, but just a calm ponder on the universe?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Yay! Shadows on Stone is now out in PRINT. Just click HERE for more info!

When Russet McGinnis and Maxen Pryce take on the responsibility for a late-season archeological dig, their quest for more artifacts is cut short when an early nor'easter forces them to close down the project until the next spring. The flight home takes a sudden ominous turn as they encounter a strange swirling cloud bank that surrounds them despite Max's attempts to avoid it. Lost in the wilderness after their plane crashes, Max and Russet must depend on each other's love and courage to survive.

Their struggle for survival compels them to bare their hidden secrets and acknowledge their feelings for each other. Homesickness and potent irresistible desire draw them closer as they work together to survive abduction, inexplicable attacks on their plane, encounters with shape-shifters, and a wild ride in a goddess-driven tornado until at last they confront their true destiny.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Ahhhh, Monday!

It's Monday! I have a full week. I wonder how much of my scheduled to-do list I'll actually accomplish? In any case, the sun is shining at the moment.

Each Monday I stand on the brink of a new week with plans for change and improvement. Some weeks I do better than others, holding to the plan. Some weeks are a wash. But I believe Monday provides that sharp starting point so many of us seem to need.

Have you ever said to yourself, "I'll start...___________ on Monday?" I confess I have. It might be a new eating plan or exercise or walking or getting enough sleep. That's what I'm talking about. Monday is the concrete leaping off point.

The weekend? Nah. That's too wishy-washy. There might be too many interruptions/distractions on the weekend. But MONDAY. Now Monday always comes around, presenting new opportunities.

So what will you begin this Monday?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Back a looooong time ago, on July 12th, my mama presented me with a squirmy, squally critter named Jack. He's my oldest brother. Today's his birthday. We're not gonna talk about age, except to say he's old enough. I wish him blessings and the realization of his hopes and dreams.

I love you, Jack. Happy Birthday!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Have you ever...

Have you ever...

Bathed in a creek or river?

Cooked a hotdog over a fire on a green stick?

Had a telephone conversation on a party line?

Polished the paste wax on an old wood floor by "dancing" on a raggedy towel?

Slept sheltered from the rain in a lean-to in the forest?

Shared scary tales around a campfire?

Climbed a mountain and stood alone on the summit?

Snuggled with your kids when the power went out and there was no heat?

Made love on a grassy lawn?

Why not?

Monday, July 9, 2012


I wonder why Monday always gets such a bad rap. There are those who would say I don't understand because I don't actually leave the house to go to work. Well, not at the moment, I don't, but I certainly put in my time as an out-of-the-home worker.

Even in those days, I usually found Monday a day of relief. My weekend to-do list was always so extensive, I looked forward to the humdrum, regimented existence during the week.

Working mothers--whether in the home or out--have no set 'start' and 'finish' to the day. While working outside the home, I had a definite beginning and ending to my responsibilities, something I found comforting. I could look at the clock and know exactly how much longer I would be working.

Now at home...that was not so. And I never knew what circumstances I would meet when I opened that front door. What family crisis would blind-side me? How late would it be before I could tumble into bed and rest my weary bones?

And weekends for the stay-at-home individual are mostly transparent. Really. How is it different from the other five days of the week? Granted, the television offerings are mind-numbingly boring. Traffic and the shopping hordes make it difficult to pick up bread and milk on the weekend. But inside? Same-old, same-old.

I think we should move to a choose-your-working days culture. You say you would rather work Wednesday through Monday? Fine. Maybe you would like to work Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, skip Friday, work Saturday and Sunday, and sleep in Monday. Great!

Would it really make any difference? I don't think so. I have a feeling we (people in general) just don't appreciate having to shift from the leisure mode to the working mode--wherever we work and whatever day of the week that might be.

Monday, Monday...


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hot and Cold

Across much of the USA it's going to be hot this weekend. Hot! Some folks have done without electricity for over a week. Some folks out west are picking through the ashes of their homes. High temps and high humidity combined create miserable conditions for humans, animals and plants.

In the winter...it's pretty much the same, isn't it? Cold, cold, cold. Ice storms, blizzards, huge piles of snow and we're all posting temps--how low can you go?

Back in the dark ages when I was a youngster, air conditioning was a fantasy. In the desert southwest where I lived, a few people had water coolers that added cool humidity to the air in their homes. Most folks didn't. Some had fans. But folks had other ways to cope. Shade trees. Wide porches. Big windows that were open to catch the occasional breeze.

In the afternoons, things slowed down. People wore sun hats. And long sleeved shirts in thin fabrics to ward off the sun.

Hydration was a given. Tea, lemonade, water. Everyone had something to drink. And coffee was for breakfast.

Folks ate differently in the summer. Meals were mostly light. Even men and women who labored in the heat knew enough to eat lightly--and more often. Summer salads, pasta salads, cucumber and tomato sandwiches, watermelon and cantaloupe were summer favorites.

When winter rolled around, those meals reflected the need for extra heartiness to fight the cold. Stews, oatmeal, and hot chocolate made their appearance. Baked goods like apple compote and pumpkin pies filled the air with the enticing scent of cinnamon.

People dressed for the season. Heavy socks and boots, long-johns, sweaters and wool pants were hauled out of storage boxes. Extra blankets were added to the beds and heavy curtains were hung to block drafts. Folks wore warm hats and gloves and scarves. You rarely saw anyone bareheaded.

It seems to me we've forgotten how to live with the weather. We expect the weather to fit into our lives, meet our needs, but that isn't the way it is. Every time we are forced to deal with conditions that don't fit in our lifestyles, we fail to adapt. We fail.

We expect life--including the weather--to adapt to our way of living. And when it doesn't, there's nothing but complaints. Too much rain. Not enough rain. Too much heat. Too much cold. Too much wind.

As many folks are finding, it doesn't take much to shove us back to the pioneering age. Long term power and water outages were common this past week. We need to learn how to cope. We need to remember and plan to deal with the weather on nature's terms instead of our own.

I have a notion it's going to be a choice of adapt or die.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reality Set In

Yesterday while most folks were picnicking and stuff, I went to physical therapy. In the last week or so, I've been picking up marbles with my toes. The capturing and picking up part isn't difficult. But the lifting my leg to place the marble in a cup...well, that hip joint has been screaming.

So, yesterday the therapist started me on a new exercise. And started is the operative word. It sounds very simple. Stand against the wall with your feet about shoulder width apart. Now alternate lifting your legs until the thighs are level with the floor. Repeat thirty times.

Right. I thought this will be a piece of cake.

Not so fast.

First of all, every time I lifted a leg, I leaned in the opposite direction to compensate. Not good for the ankle. I was supposed to stand straight. Instead, I was swaying like a drunk sailor in a hurricane.

Then I discovered a serious fear of falling. I panicked and grabbed the back of a nearby chair, shocked that this simple exercise was so difficult. Surely, I couldn't be that badly out of shape!

Things went downhill from there. Sweat poured down my face. Twice my hip joints seemed to lock up and I couldn't even lift my legs. I couldn't seem to keep my feet apart as I kept compensating, trying to maintain my balance.

After struggling through about fifteen sets, trembling with effort, my therapist halted the exercise. Then she firmly pointed out the issues. At some point in my past, I started making my ankles do the work instead of my hips. No doubt a series of falls added to my issues.

But the main part...I'm woefully out of shape. If I want to be mobile in my immediate future, then I'm gonna have to do the exercises--including a few more tortuous ones--every day, twice a day.

Otherwise, it won't be just the ankles that suffer.

So. Marbles? Piece of cake.

Leg lifts? Murder.

And I have to confess I'm not real happy about that. It's easy to drift along, slowly sinking into every bad habit out there. Easy to say, "I'll worry about that tomorrow." But it's not so easy when you have it staring in your face.

If I'm not around so often, just bear with me. I'm off doing leg lifts, picking up marbles, trying to reclaim my life.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Chasing Tails

When I was young our guidance counselors encouraged us to have a life plan. We were supposed to choose goals and work toward them to achieve our life plan. I think my initial plan was to be an Archeologist. Didn't make it.

I'm sure I had quite a few other goals and plans in there. Life kept interfering with them. The guidance counselors didn't tell us what to do when that happened so I winged it. I'm pretty good at winging it. I've had a lot of practice.

My latest life plan was to be a published author. Lo, and behold! I actually accomplished that just in the nick of time. At one time, having a book published--going through the process of submitting it to an established publisher, signing a contract, dealing with edits and all that other stuff--meant something. It was an accomplishment.

And then life or karma or whatever you want to call Amazon stepped into the breach and now having a book published is just a matter of uploading a file to the Internet. Anybody can be a published author. Matter of fact, many established publishers are going out of business or changing tactics to get in on the self-publishing gig.

Many aspiring authors are so focused on getting published, they fail to take the next steps into account. As I said, anyone can be published now. But selling a book is an entirely different kettle of fish.

So now that you've caught your tail...what are you going to do with it? It's not enough to post it and sit back waiting for the money to pour in.

Let me tell you some of the things that don't work.

Posting your book info on my social media pages without permission.

Begging me to buy your book because you have bills to pay. Everyone has bills to pay.

Begging your friends to write a review for your book. (Especially if you also tell them they don't have to read it!)

In case no one's noticed, the competition is overwhelming. There are thousands of books just waiting to nab up available dollars. Thousands. So before you toss your book up there on Amazon or Smashwords or some other site, consider what your next steps will be.

Or...just get a good grip on that tail.