Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Christmas Party Story Challenge

Tanya Eby a fellow member of GRRWG challenged us to write a short story about a Christmas party. I don't know how "short" this is, but this is what I came up with.  Not like what I usually write, it was still a fun challenge.

The Christmas Party

Nervous excitement coursed through me as I left my hotel room, checking my hair and makeup for the umpteenth time in the hallway's large mirror while waiting for the elevator. Last year, I'd been a mere team member. This year I was returning as the first-ever woman to successfully manage the launch of a new product line. I couldn't wait to politely rub the good ol' boys noses in my success.

I'd fled to the Mid-West after I graduated college, never realizing how culturally “backward” it was from my West Coast upbringing. Once there, it didn't really matter. I was far away from the one person I hoped to never lay eyes on again, and if fighting the good ol' boy network was the price, I was willing to pay it.

The product launch and marketing campaign had been a huge success. I had vindicated my bosses decision to promote me to the spot, and even one of the Senior VP's had congratulated me for a job well done. With a final pat of my perfectly coiffed hair, I turned at the sound of the slow elevator's ding.

The doors opened, and my heart fell to my stomach, the self-satisfied smirk left my face as my jaw dropped. I quickly composed myself, hoping he hadn't looked up in time to catch my expression. Damn it! It was my own fault. I shouldn't have been thinking so highly of myself. I had jinxed my night.

I politely nodded as I entered the elevator, pressing the button for the floor where the party was already in full swing. Turning to face the doors, I acted as if I didn't remember him. Perhaps he wouldn't recognize me. After all, it'd been almost a decade since we'd last seen each other, and my style had changed dramatically. Gone were my usual ripped jeans and bare feet. Tonight I was wearing an elegant ballgown, with gorgeous strappy sandals, and I had gotten a fresh mani-pedi just a few hours earlier.

He cleared his throat. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a quick movement of his hand, as if he'd reached out to touch my shoulder but changed his mind. The elevator made another stop to pick up an adorable elderly couple, one with a walker. I stepped back to give them more room which put me shoulder to shoulder with the person I most loathed on the planet.

Oh, my lord, he smells just like he did in college. Not fair! My knees always grew weak at the smell of Stetson. And it didn't help any that he was even more gorgeous than he had been in college. I mentally slapped myself, fighting to focus on the evening ahead of me. After all, I had a speech to give. One I'd been rehearsing for days, and at the moment I couldn't remember a word of it.

The elderly couple exited the elevator a few floors above my destination. I took the opportunity to step forward. It was just us on the elevator again. I closed my eyes and started to run through my speech.

I heard him clear his throat. “Um, Darcy? Darcy Hollis? Is that you?” His voice was soft, that low timber made my resolve melt a bit.

I dropped me head a bit, took a deep breath, slapped on my best customer meeting face, and turned to face him. “Yes, that's me. I'm sorry, are you a client of Clovis Industries?”

“Um, no. Actually, I'm the new West Coast regional sales manager, not a customer. Darcy, it's me, Pete. Pete Dawson? We went to college together.”

I stifled a smirk. He sounded so wounded. I couldn't resist playing with his head a bit more, but the elevator doors opened, and my boss was on the other side, drink in hand, his pink cheeks proving this one wasn't his first, or fifth for that matter. Steeling myself for the inevitable grab, I exited the elevator trying to avoid his grasp. Bob was a bit of a letch when he had a few drinks in him.

“Darcy! We were wondering where you were! Hey, Petey boy, have you met Darcy? She's our newest rock star. She's the one who handled our latest product launch.” Bob slapped Pete's shoulder with his empty hand, before wrapping it around my waist and pulling me along.

Ugh! Just what I wanted for Christmas. A drunk, married boss trying to cop a feel. I fought the urge to look at Pete and mouth the words “help me” as I would have done during college. He'd bailed me out of several unwelcome clinches at drunken frat parties, I'd be damned if I'd be the damsel-in-distress at this one.

Bob hung on to me as he wove us drunkenly thru the crowd, introducing me and Pete to a variety of people, many of whom already knew me. A few of the women who knew about my history with Pete delicately raised a questioning eyebrow at me, signaling me to come back and chat as soon as I was free.

A microphone boomed at the front of the room, saving me from further embarrassment courtesy of Bob. The chairman of the board quickly called us to dinner, and in no time I was up front for my speech. Luckily my amazingly great assistant Lucy had placed a copy of my speech up at the podium for me. I managed to sail through my speech, thanking my entire team, while apparently flawlessly covering up any nervousness or overlooked pieces of my speech.

I sat at a table full of my product team members. I had insisted on being placed with my team, an unconventional choice for this particular company. The launch would not have gone as well without my team and I wanted to show my thanks.

“A toast. To my wonderful, amazing, hard-working, product launch team. Thank you all! Without you all this would never have gotten off of the ground. Cheers!” Glasses clinked, as congratulations went around the table. I smiled at my crew. I'd handpicked my team, taking many other manager's “rejects” that I could see had talent and drive. We'd really shown the old boys a thing or two and I was proud of all of us.

I clinked my glass with my knife and stood. “Due to the huge success of the product launch, I am pleased to announce that we are being kept together as the lead team for improvements to the line we just launched as well as any future products our brains may dream up.” The table cheered and high-fived each other. “Wait, there's more! I badgered management into giving the entire team a 5% raise, and, everyone gets from Christmas Eve Day through the day after New Year's off. Now, let's all go dance!”

As I watched my team celebrate, I knew that giving up my own raise to give them that extra time off was well worth it. They had definitely earned it, and the board seemed to respect my decision to give credit where it was due. I just hoped it wasn't a career killer.

The board's chairman, John Thomas, approached me. He was in his late 80's, but didn't appear it. Still at the top of his game mentally, he walked tall and briskly, smiling greetings at the few willing to approach him. I had learned quickly that his gruff exterior was all show for business, in life he had a kind and generous heart.

“Darcy my dear, I've been looking for you. I've been meaning to introduce to one of our new sales managers. He'll be taking on your product line and I need you to get him up to speed on the marketing campaign.” He waved at someone over the back of my head as I inwardly groaned. Sales managers were typically male, egotistical, and chauvinistic pigs.

“Mr. Thomas, so nice to see you.” My stomach lurched, it was that voice, of course it would have to be that voice, and that man. Pete came from behind me to greet John, and I swore I felt his hand brush my waist.

“Pete, I'd like to introduce you to Darcy Hollis, the newly promoted Director for our product line, Darcy, this is Pete Dawson, the new sales manager I was telling your about.” My eyes grew big as I doubted my hearing. My confused expression made John laugh. “You heard right Darcy, I just finalized the paperwork. I didn't think Jim or Bob would do the job as well you, and I'd like to suggest Beth as your replacement. I think it's high time we move more women up.”

Stunned, I could only stand there trying to absorb it all. I had given up that promotion to get my team their time off. Both Bob and Jim, one of John's grandsons had jumped at the chance. I heard that low rumbling voice start up again.

“Congratulations Darcy. It sounds like John chose the perfect director. I can't wait to start working with you on the marketing campaign. I'm sure I will learn a lot.” Pete smiled down at me, his hand resting lightly on my back “How about a turn on the dance floor to celebrate?”

John congratulated me again, assuring me I'd earned the promotion, as he waved us off to the dance floor. The next thing I knew I was back in those familiar arms, spinning slowly around the room. How the hell had I gotten here? It took me a moment to realize that Pete had asked me a question.

“What? I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention. It's been a crazy night.” I looked up at the familiar green eyes. My traitorous skin was singing at his familiar touch. Old crushes apparently never die.

“I was just wondering if you remembered the last time we danced like this. Please don't tell me you don't remember me, you never were all that great at lying – at least not to me.” His voice was teasing me.

I'd really wanted to play with his ego a bit, but the night was already too confusing. Fine, I'd cave, but only a little. “All right. Yes. I do remember you. How could I not? You broke my heart when you broke up with me right before graduation. I almost didn't attend my own graduation because of you. I'd hoped to never see you again, and now here I am stuck dancing with you on what should be one of the greatest nights of my life. I just broke the glass ceiling at a century-old, male dominated company and my team has the most successful product launch in the company's history. And I'm stuck celebrating that news with you.”

He looked down at me, frowning a bit. “I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to ruin your night. I was just hoping...I dunno what I was hoping for. Look, I'm sorry for being a stupid kid. I hope it won't get in the way of our working together.”

Angry now, I broke away from him. “What? Do you think I am so unprofessional that I would let something so trivial as schoolgirl crush get in the way of my career? Tell you what, here's my card, call me or email me with your schedule. I'd like to get started on the marketing campaign for the West Coast as quickly as possible.” I spun on my heel and headed for the elevator.

Lucy stepped in beside me. “Darcy, are you okay? I didn't realize that was 'the' Pete. Is there anything I can do?” She stopped me, grabbing my shoulders to make me look at her.

I gave her a hug. “No, I'll be alright. I'm a big girl. Besides, do Product Directors cry at parties?” I laughed at her surprised look.

“They promoted you? Even though you gave it up for us?” Lucy had been in on the discussions regarding the bonuses and time off for my team. She'd known I'd given up the promotion to get my team their well deserved perks and she'd kept the secret safe.

“Yes, John just told me. I will be asking for you to be promoted as well, with a big raise. We've got a ton of work ahead of us and I can't do it without you.” Lucy jumped with delight, giving me a big hug. “Go on, go grab your boyfriend and enjoy yourselves.” I shooed her off and continued on my way.

My night was looking up a bit. If I could just avoid Pete for the rest of the night. I delayed my march to the elevator to chat with friends and teammates, accepting congratulations as word spread of my promotion. I managed to corner Beth and ask her if she'd consider being my replacement. She accepted, but only after asking if I was sure the board would approve. Like me, she was keenly aware of the ol' boys culture in our company.

“Sooooo, you're our new Product Director.” The slurred words were followed by a bourbon-laced belch aimed at my face. Bob was back and drunker than ever. Then it dawned on me, Bob would now be my equal. It must have stung his ego a bit.

“Hi Bob. Yes, John just told me about the promotion.” My mind whirled trying to find the right words to cool Bob off and not wound his ego at the same time. “You know, I wouldn't have been able to do it without your guidance. I learned a lot from you. Thank you.” I tried to sidle away, but he wasn't assuaged just yet.

“You got that rriigghht littllle la-la-lady.” Another belch. “You o-owe meee. How's 'bout showin a little thanks with a kiss?” He leaned forward drunkenly, and I jumped backwards into a firm, yet familiar body. A big hand appeared in front of me, catching Bob's face before reeling him backwards.

That low voice rumbled over my head. “You okay Bob? Looks like you lost your balance a bit.” Bob had lucked out and been caught by a few of the larger men on my team. “Guys, would you be so kind as to help Bob to table and get him some coffee?”

I mouthed the word "thanks" to my guys. It was nice to know that my team always had my back. They nodded as they landed several heavy slaps on Bob's back and steered him towards the coffee pots. I didn't thank Pete before I headed back towards the elevator.

The door was already open so I stepped on quickly, only to be joined by Pete. I glared up at him. I didn't need saving, I could have handled it myself. I'm sure I could have gotten out of it gracefully, somehow. I fumed a bit, which only made him laugh.

“Still stubborn to a fault, eh Darcy?” At my glare he held his hands up. “Sorry, I know you could have handled it just fine on your own. I just thought I'd lend a hand before your enforcers got into trouble. What is it about you and drunken men anyway? I'd of thought you'd had your fill of that at our frat parties.” His smile was warm and a bit contagious.

“Yeah, like it's my fault men get drunk and hit on me. Why were you following me anyway?” I glared up at him. I hate the fact that he's nearly a foot taller than me and was thankful I was wearing tall heels.

“I just wanted to make sure you got back to your room safe and sound.”

“I don't need an escort.” I crossed my arms and fumed some more. Pete remained quiet.

The doors opened at my floor and I exited, expecting Pete to stay behind. No such luck. He stayed by my side, quiet all the way to my door.

I looked up at him. “I'm not inviting you in. You can go now.” I made a shooing motion with my room card.

Instead of leaving, Pete moved in closer, wrapping his arms around my waist and drawing me tightly in. Damn that Stetson cologne! He smelled so good, I started to melt a bit in his arms, though I refused to look at his face.

“Look, Darcy. I'm sorry. Back in college, you were going on and on about graduation and the job offers you were getting, and it was driving me crazy.” At the start of my protest he put his finger on my lips and shushed me. I hate being shushed.

“Let me finish, please. What you didn't know was that I learned late into the semester that my final project wouldn’t be accepted. I was being allowed to walk at the same time as you, but I wouldn't be graduated until after I resubmitted my senior project during summer semester. I wasn't getting any job offers and I was mad. At myself, the world, and you. You were just so on point with everything. You had your life all figured out and I couldn't even tell you I wasn't graduating.” Pete's head hung with shame.

“So, you broke up with me because you were going to graduate a semester later? Did you really think that would've mattered to me? Even after I told you I loved you?” It still hurt, even all these years later, that memory of his rejection when I declared my long-standing love for him would be with me forever.

Pete reached in his pocket, pulling out a small, wrapped box. “Here, I was going to give this to you at graduation. I've kept it all these years in hopes I'd see you again and be able to give it to you. What better time than Christmas, right? Christmas is a time for miracles and forgiveness isn't it?”

I took the box, unsure of what to do or say. All I could croak out was a pathetic “ummm?”.

Pete lightly kissed me on my forehead and turned to leave. “I just wanted you to know that I still love you.”

I stood in shocked silence for a moment, and then unwrapped the box. Inside was a small diamond ring with a white card that simply asked, “Will you marry me?” Son-of-a-bitch! Had to wait nearly a decade to grow a pair and he still didn't ask me himself? Pissed off and ridiculously happy I couldn't decide what to do. Finally I kicked off my heels and began running, with the box firmly in my hand.

“Pete! Pete! Wait up, you lousy coward! Come back here and act like a man for once in your life.” I raced around the corner to the elevator and slammed right into a firm chest with enough force to land us both on the floor. God I really hope it was Pete I knocked down and not some poor innocent man.

I both felt and heard the low rumbling laugh. Brushing my hair out of my face I could finally see that, in fact, I had knocked Pete off his feet. Score one for the short girl!

Sitting up a bit, I began my rant. “How dare you hand me something like this!” I shook the box in his face. “And not have the balls to ask me in person? You don't ask a woman to marry you with a note written years ago! First you ask for forgiveness and then you ask her to marry you. You dolt! What? Did you think I would've have said no back then? I'd been in love with you for years you moron. How could you not know that when everyone else did?”

Pete laughed, then roughly pulled me to him for a long kiss. I melted. All the years of anger washed away as the realization that the person I loved the most, and hated the most, had never really wanted me out of his life.

We broke for air and sat up a bit. Pete took my hand and looked into my eyes. “So, will your forgive me? And then will you marry me?” I laughed, and punched him on the arm.

“Well, it is Christmas, I guess I can throw you a bone. Sure, I guess I'll marry you.” I laughed as Pete pulled me onto his lap for a soft kiss.

Christmas is a time for miracles and forgiveness after all, and this one was turning out to a doozy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's been rough lately

This particular holiday season has been full of unhappy events.  First we lost our dear friend Cora to cancer, and due to a lack of communication from a variety of people, we missed her viewing and a chance to be there for her father on a rough day.

A week to the day, and almost exact time of day, our Maine Coon kitten died unexpectedly at home. He was not yet 2 years old. The analysis to this point is that he died of a heart attack as the vet didn't find anything else. Unfortunately for my dear hubby, it happened while he was home alone and caused him great distress.  Our big-fluffy-large pawed-chirpy-dooropener is already greatly missed.

Christmas was a bit more fun. I got to spend it with a dear friend and her family, along with two really cute, energetic kids. And my family actually called me. So I was thinking, silly me, that we might be looking at an upswing in our lives.  Nope. Another dear friend is having a tragic day tomorrow, having to put down his beloved old 18 year old cat. And another friend lost a beloved Aunt today.

This made me have a chat with God. She will occasionally answer me. Mostly she just shrugs things off and says to talk to Merie instead. She actually answered me this time around.  Her answer: "That's Life sweetie." Damn bitch! She truly has a warped sense of humor. Even Merie had to smile a bit when I ranted at her about her bitch of a boss lady.

The only good news out of this chat, was I got bit more of the Merie story done. Now I just need more time to work on my blog pages, and get a break from work-work on my vacation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Molly gets a new name

I've been needing to rename one of Jess' best friends, Molly, because there's too many 'M' names too close together in the book.  I've asked for input from a variety of folks and had picked a name, but was waiting for approval from my friend to use it.

It's been weeks and I hadn't heard back from her. Today I learned why. She'd been in the hospital, valiantly holding a last stand against the cancer that has ravaged her body for far too many years. Today, she lost her battle. I just learned this. She will be missed.

And Molly will be renamed Cora, in honor of my friend. Her nickname will be Corky, just as Cora's dad called her. I'm sure Cora is smiling up in heaven. She'd read part of Jess' book, and has an understanding of Molly's character and I'm sure she'd approve.  They're fighters, Molly and Cora, and I can't think of a better name to use now.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaNoWriMo has taken over my life!

I'm in the frantic rush to hit 50,000 words and the end of It's a Fey Life for NaNoWriMo as well as my groups ROAR into Writing contest.  All while re-writing The Reluctant Psychic and getting it ready for submission.  I'd hoped to make huge dents in both during my vacation.  Not so much.  Still have a long way to go and it's all go to be done by November 30th.  At Midnight.

I'm not sure if there's enough caffeine on the planet to help me reach my goals.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blogger - is it an "Issue" or a "Feature"?

For some silly reason, Blogger won't allow me to respond to posts on my own blog.  Really?  WTH?!  So, if you're thinking I've ignored you, please don't.  I'm not, I just haven't gotten the folks at Blogger to get it straightened out yet.

I had someone ask me this question the other day and thought I'd share:  "How many passwords do you have?"  I had to get it clarified, because that question has a different meaning for different people on different sides of the IT equation.  It was not the one meaning how many passwords do I have "on hand" to rotate through when my password expires on any account I may have.  Instead it was more along the lines of: how many accounts do I have that I have separate AND unique passwords in use.

Easy: Well over 50. Why?  Because I know too much about how hackers work, how script kiddies work, and how easy it really can be to ruin someone's life or business by getting simply one password.  So yep, over 50.  And no, I don't rotate them through my other accounts.  They are complex passwords, not easily remembered.  And I make up new ones everytime one expires or needs to be reset (roughly every 90 days).  Which is why I have an electronic safe that keeps track of a good chunk of my more rarely used accounts and passwords for me.

Sure, it's a bit more work.  No, it's not foolproof.  But just like having very large, heavy, protective dogs with BIG teeth at home, it's just another obstacle in the way of whoever's trying to get at my stuff.

Although truthfully, I have no idea why anyone would want my data anyway.  My credit rating is pretty much crap, I don't have much in assets (unless you want to count all my books, vintage sewing machines, and unfinished craft projects) and my truck is older than all but one of my nephews and nieces.  And I'm still un-published.  Still, it's my crap and I'd kind of like to keep it mine thank-you-very-much.

Think about these: How many accounts and passwords do you have?  When did you last reset your email/blogger/Amazon/B&N/social networking/gaming/website passwords?  Are they all using different passwords?  Do you have all the security devices in place?  Example: gmail and Yahoo! ask for a primary email address to be able to send reset password requests to, and Facebook would like your cell phone for that as well.  Kind of like routine maintenance on air filters for your furnace and batteries for smoke detectors, you really should change them on a regular basis.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Memory Fail! due to Writing

It's definitely been one of those Mondays.  Long after posting the first iteration of this post, I realized I only got the last paragraph copied properly.  How did I miss that?!?  So let's see if I can get it put back to some semblance of what it was...and I doubt it'll be as good.

This weekend was a busy one.  It started with writing Saturday morning before the GRRWG monthly meeting, followed by picking up one of my favorite 16 year-olds on the planet, and returning home to a nice long nap.  Which was followed by more writing.

I was so busy I forgot to go download some really great writing books from Writer's Digest and now the deadline has passed.  The good news is I got a lot of progress done on Collie's book and more of the rewrite done on Jess' book.  Barring any barriers, I should hit both the ROAR and NaNoWriMo deadlines.

The good news is that next week I'm on vacation!  Yay!  First time in over a year and well deserved.  I'm not going anywhere.  Instead I'll be having lunch with friends I haven't seen in a long time, over multiple days, working on a vintage machine that needs some TLC before sending her on to her new home, where she's being purchased as decoration (which is good as I need to steal parts, and why I bought her), and writing!  Of course I'll be writing, I've got some self-imposed deadlines to meet.

The bad news is The Scot keeps interrupting to fill me on what I should write for him, but he requires a TON of research to get it right.  I need a timelines, correct dates, and re-education on both WWI and WWII.  And possibly the Cold War.  I'm hoping to task my hubby with some of that as he's a BIG military history buff.

Oh and I just submitted a 1-sentence competition for Writer's Digest - my first ever!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Crazy, Silly, Fun day

Perhaps it's the Vicodin I took last night for an ankle that was complaining loudly, but today's been kind of a rollercoaster of FUN!  So much better than yesterday!

Yesterday wasn't...yesterday started with me spilling my Diet Pepsi on the seat of my beloved old beater of a truck, which then rolled on down and promptly soaked into the backside of my jeans and panties.  So arrive to work in wet pants with customers looking at me funny.  It progressed to be overly stressed trying to rush out the door to get to a job site, while my software wouldn't load and I had 3 clients on the phone - all of whom HAD to talk to me - and no headset for either of my cell phones.  I promptly spilled hot water all over the kitchen sink at work as I tried to too quickly fill my thermos with tea for later.  I got lost on the way to the job site (phone GPS failed), had to call my co-worker who was patiently waiting for to arrive for directions, and arrive 1/2 hour later than expected.  I spent the next 6 hours going up and down ladders, mucking about in drop ceilings, and wandering around with a laptop to test out wireless network signals.  By the end of the night, my patience, ankle, and both knees were shot.

Today I arrived at work, unloaded last nights equipment just inside our front doors, and walked in to find my boss (CEO and owner of the company) putting all of the equipment I had unloaded into it's proper spots - without asking!  I do love where I work.  Small companies are much more fun and understanding.  And it's awesome to have a boss who'll roll up his sleeves to move ladders, cables, and assorted rolly devices without asking.

Work then evolved into my making a bone-headed mistake on a cut-over for a customer (reminder: check file dates on secure certificates!) which another co-worker helped me figure out and quickly resolve.  Best part is he admitted doing that in the past too, so didn't rub it in and we both got a chuckle out of it.  It's always the last place you look, even if that's right under your nose.

Then my hubby texted me that my big box from Goodwill arrived - it's a bunch of brand new zippers and other assorted sewing stuff to make purses and totes with, which will help out loads with getting my Etsy store a few more items to post for sale.  Happy dance!

He's ready to do happy dances himself as his new computer is supposed to arrive today (early Christmas present), so he's got a new toy to play with as well.

Better yet, it's sunny out with white puffy clouds, and I just learned that our fearless President of GRRWG actually reads my blog!

Yes, Cheryl, I'll post those Farmer's Almanac link for you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Farmer's Almanac

I needed to verify a weather pattern for a back story in a future Jess Barker book.  Of course my first thought when I think of weather is Farmer's Almanac not the Weather Channel.  I've got farmer genes in my blood, I think of the Almanac as my default reference book for pretty much anything and buy a new one every year.

To my delight I found on a very cool research tool on their website: a historical weather calendar.  It even includes snow depths for states with snowfall.  Pretty cool!

Just thought I'd pass this on for anyone that may be doing historical story lines that needs to verify weather data.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who knew? I love research!

Did you know that Gimbels once had a sewing machine made for them?  I saw this poor, neglected vintage machine up for auction and laughed when I read them name.  Of course I was instantly whisked off to Christmas movies like Miracle on 34th Street, and A Christmas Story.  So I had to go digging.

There isn't much information out there, but I needed it for Stewart's storyline.  (Of course he kept smugly chiming in "I already knew this.")  I've discovered that in addition to Sears' Kenmore lines - Gimbels, Montgomery Wards, and even RH Macy's had sewing machines made for them from factories in Japan.  Models were pretty much interchangeable, but the name and color would change from time to time.

This practice also led to the wide variety of colors we see in the 40's/50's/60's machines.  Anything from light teal to bright red was fair game. I've found some bubble-gum pink machines that are amazing!  The more I learn about these vintage machines the more I miss the variety and style from back then.  Not only are they solid metal, but they're quite beautiful as well; especially when compared to today's plain, boring, white colored plastic machines.

I mean seriously, how can you NOT like a machine that looks like this?  (And I'm only a fan of pink for Breast Cancer ribbons).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Magic - a.k.a. Visting with Pop

I was talking with Pop, my grandfather, the other night. It's a bit more difficult than one may expect. You see, Pop died back in 2000. That doesn't stop me from visiting with him though. In order to do so I must be very tired, very stressed out, very much missing him, and very much asleep. I figured, with Halloween rapidly approaching, it was high time he came for a visit, and perhaps would be a fun little story to share with you all – if he'd just cooperate!

Not everyone in my family can do this, but it is most definitely an inherited trait. My mom talks to Maga (her mother) often, as does her sister. No, I'm not a psychic, it's just one of those odd things that my quirky family can do and we don't really think about. I can only do this with family that I had a special connection to, so please don't ask if I can talk to your relatives for you.

Pop loved all of his grandkids equally, although each of us had our own special relationship with him; our's was a particularly tight and honest one. Pop always gave me good, practical, honest - and often brutal – advice. I miss him daily.

I found Pop in his favorite spot, accompanied by my favorite dogs, John Deere cap in place and a big smile on his tanned face. He loves this spot, and it's definitely the farm of his dreams. I hadn't seen the dogs with him in some time, so I knew he picked up on the fact that I was more than a bit peeved. After hugs and scratches to all my pups, we plopped down on crates to chat.

Me: So ya old-fart, where the hell you been?!

Pop: Hey old woman, glad to see you too. You know I can't always come when you call, it doesn't work like that.

Me: (grumbling a bit) Yeah, yeah, I know. Still doesn't make me any happier. I miss you, ya know. You need to visit me more often.

Pop: I know. So what's got you all worked up? Why're ya here? And what the hell's going on with all those old piece of crap sewing machines you're buying up?

Me: They're not crap and you know it. I like 'em, they're fun to work on, and they cost less than a project car. As for the rest, I've got a test coming up – computer stuff – and I need to finish a re-write of Jess' book. Since you gave her to me, I figure you're the best one to talk to about this.

Pop: I don't get it. Hasn't she told you what to write?

Me: Yep, but I keep getting the same advice about her language over and over. And of course Rosie has to chime in about 'proper' language and not to write 'such filth'.

Pop: Aw, hell! Tell Rosie to quit getting her bloomers in a bunch! So Jess swears; it's just the way she is. You know, she's a lot like you and I know you swear just as badly.
(He's right, I do)

Me: Don't I know it! But she gives me a head ache when I change her language. It's mostly the f-bomb that people take issue with. Hell, Mom won't even read it.

Pop: You know your Mom's a smart lady, maybe you should listen to her – a little bit. And take that writer friend of yours advice; don't drop it right off the start, but let her work up to a good outburst.

Me: (sighing) Okay, okay. I'll listen to everyone's advice. I'm working on it but it's kind of hard...I'm eating Excedrin like it's candy!

Pop: (laughing) Yep, that Jess' is a firecracker. Tell that pretty blond writer friend of yours that if I was alive and a lot younger, I'd be more'n happy to show her a good time!

Me: Will you always be a cute old letch?

Typical Pop, always with an eye out for a pretty girl!  Still, I love our visits - even when he acts like an old letch.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Scot's getting me in trouble again!

As is normal with all of my characters, Stewart - a.k.a. The Scot - talks to me.  He loves to go along on my perusal of the various thrift shop sites where sewing machines may be listed.  The thrill of the hunt for a vintage machine.  He's been pushing me to get a Singer "Rocketeer" for the past few months, and while I've found some, none of them are quite in the price range or condition I would like them to be.  They're really kind of cool and techie looking though, and have a wide range of stitches available.

Here's one to give you an idea - very 50's Jetson-y styling.

He got more excited about a find for a vintage Singer that is aluminum, was built in Scotland, and is available within my state.  Best part is the case would also fit my grandmother's machine.  Hard part is deciding how much I'm willing to spend on a new "toy" when I still have 10 at home that need attention.

Besides, I have tons of writing to do, NaNoWriMo is coming up and I have technical presentations and several exams to pass for work.  Why do my characters not understand that I have to make a living and can't devote all of my time to their stories?  Am I the only one with this particular problem?

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Always Wanted to Write a Book! Conference was a Success!

GRRWG hosted it's first ever writer's conference this past weekend and it was a rousing success!  The committee did a great job, everyone pitched in to help out and it ran so smoothly that if anything had been falling apart behind the scenes (and from my experience something usually does) no one knew about it.  Yay Team!!

Highlight for me - besides the sessions - was the agent pitch.  I lost my "agent pitch virginity" at this conference which ended with a request for the first 3 re-written chapters of The Reluctant Psychic.  Yay me!  She made it really easy for all of us and was such fun to have at the conference. 

While I’ve survived my conferences, I have a load to do this week.  First, I need to study and pass a tech exam that’s needed for work for a partner relationship that we have.  Second, I need to WRITE!  Third, I need to get a critique group scheduled with Sidney and anyone else that’s looking for a group and meet up sometime this week.  That’s on top of a meeting I’m hosting tomorrow for a bunch of techies.  I’m busy, busy, busy.

Lucky for me I have quirky pets to make me laugh.  This is Marco, our Maine Coon kitten (yes, even at 18.5 lbs. he’s still a kitten for another year).

Happy Halloween!!  Marco “picked” his pumpkin.  (No worries, I grew this one myself, no chemicals involved).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Conferences, Conferences!

First up I have my big techie conference next week (for which I'm hopping on a train to get there), and then we have our GRRWG "I Always Wanted to Write A Book" conference on the 21/22 of October.  It's going to be a busy month!

If you're in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area on the 21st and 22nd of this month, stop on by our conference.  Details can be found at  Just look for the Conference tabs.   Hopefully I'll see you there!

Monday, October 3, 2011

New Inspiration for The Scot

A friend of mine's been looking for a vintage machine to sew leather on.  I happened to find one for her at the local Goodwill and, after a bit of confusion on the payment side of things, I picked it up this afternoon.  Pleased at my new found "treasure" I bustled into the back of my truck without looking at it much.

Back home after a day of work, I hauled it into the house (it's not really heavy, just awkward with no case), and took a good look.  The second I get a good look at the decals The Scot pops up.  "Oh, lookie lassie, she's a beauty!"  Stewart's doing a jig over this one.  Other than a layer of dust and a bit of minor rust on the bobbin slide plate (easily removed with vinegar), she's in great shape.

According to Stewart, she should be "right as rain" with a bit of gentle cleaning on the deck, elbow grease to remove the old dried up gunk, and a good oiling.  I hope he's right.  Looks to be that way to me.  Take a look for yourself:

Stewart's been "advising" me ever since, all evening in fact, as to the best place to start and what to use.  The funny part is he's showing me a side of himself I didn't know yet.  He really, truly loves to tinker on this "wee beasties" as he puts it.  His hands twitch a bit when he tells me what I should work on next.  It makes me laugh, because I understand his eagerness to get his hands on something, but there's still something dark lurking about in the background. So far I've only caught glimpses of his past, most of the time I only get the fun part of the treasure hunting for old machines.

I hate to tell him I'm full up now.  At 10 machines and counting, I need to get rid of some before bringing any more home.  I'm betting he'll pout a bit, but I'm hoping I can keep him popping up and feeding me his story line as he could really be fun to write a series on.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Is it The Scot or Procrastination?

I haven't yet finished the re-write of the first chapter of Jess' first book, due in large part to my obsession over finding additional attachments for my vintage sewing machines.  Which, in turn, causes me to stop and drool over newly available vintage machines.

I'd like to blame it on my latest character Stewart (aka "The Scot).  He's as obsessed with vintage machines, perhaps because that's his cover, and he's been chiming in my ear for the past few days about a real steal on an old Singer.  It's one that was made in the Kilbowie, Scotland plant and he's really getting insistent that I need one of the Kilbowie made machines.  I have "enough" machines made out of Singer's New Jersey plant apparently and now need ones from Scotland.  He is helping me decide if it's worth restoring my latest find, this poor machine has water damage to the case which may be fixable, but it's missing parts too and may or may not work at the end of the day.

Jess needs attention too and is starting to stomp around and complain a bit about some of the changes I'm thinking of making.  Namely that the F-bomb isn't getting dropped in the first sentence of the book.  It was suggested that I not start out with that as the reader doesn't care about her at the start of the book, it may be more viable further in.  She does have quiet the colorful vocabulary though.  I'm hoping to calm her down a bit later today as I happen to have the day off and was planning on reserving time for writing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Writing Excercises Provide New Inspiration

At my last writer's group, we walked through a writing exercise that proved extremely helpful.  I learned so much in such a short amount of time.  It was great!  And my smaller group liked what I had so far.  I think The Scot is going to be fun to write.

Through the exercise I learned his name, what his wife looked like, his job, his traits, his Achilles heel, and worked out the start of his story.  It was amazing!

And now were' just a few short weeks from our local writer's conference.  I'm totally geeked.  And NaNoWriMo is right around the corner!  So much to do, so little time.  Can I win Lotto please?

Friday, September 9, 2011

I've been baaaadddd....

I haven't blogged here in way too long. That's because I've been busy with my 2 other blogs (which I will eventually link here - but later). One's my techie blog, that acts as my purse for all my tech notes that I need for my day job. The other one is my new blog for my new etsy site, and which holds the clue as to why I've been bad here.

To be fair, I did get a huge chunk written on Collie's first book (25,000+ words - she was very chatty), I got editing done on Jess' first book, rewrote the synopsis for A Reluctant Psychic, and added some to Merie's story, so I've been busy.

Also, I have a new obsession which has resulted in a new character popping up, and a possible new series, revolving around an older, talented, gentleman who restores vintage sewing machines. He's in the back of my head telling me "Oh, lookie there, what a nice little machine that could be with just a bit of TLC and elbow grease". Great. Thanks. Just what I need, another vintage sewing machine. Aren't 6 enough? My Kenmore doesn't count yet, it's still in it's teen years.

Here's what I know about "The Scot". He's from the UK, I'm thinking Scotland, but I'm not sure as his accent isn't hugely thick. He's a widow, and I keep picturing him in the NorthEast, but I also see him in the UK, so he may be hopping back and forth. His wife got him into saving old machines, and he continues it as a labor of love for his late wife. She's a cute little thing, about 5'1', masses of red curls, with a touch of grey, fiesty, with a perpetual twinkle in deep blue eyes. He's about 5'10" now, a bit shorter due to age, salt and pepper wavy hair, with dark eyes, and BIG hands from years of mechanical work. Always with a twinkle in his eye and a quick smile, I'm not sure of his name yet either. He makes me smile like Merie makes me smile. He was a whisper in the back of my head when I got this little beauty home and out of it's trapped location inside a bent wood case with a bent lock.

The Scot popped in full force when I decided on a name for this old, neglected beauty that was my grandmother's and is now mine. I've named her Black Betty, and have dubbed her restoration project "The Black Betty Project" at which he let out a musical belly laugh. He's really quite charming.

So please forgive my lapses in posting here, I promise to try to get better at it. I have so much to do, machines to restore, pages to write, an agent to find, and a short story to get ePublished. Oh, and I've learned how to can, make jam and pickles, and next weekend I'm learning how to make and can salsa. It's a very good thing I'm a Gemini...otherwise I'd be a bit freaked out about all the people in my head. :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Silver Linings

I just got done reading a post from Bronwyn's blog about how she ruined the life of one of her research contacts. Made me laugh, and as usual I found a silver lining in the entire story.

Which is rather funny as last night I just submitted a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul for an upcoming book. It's one on family caregivers, and seeing as how I have lots of experience with that I wrote a story for them on Alzheimer's.

Granted, most people wouldn't find Alzheimer's a "funny" topic. But I'm not most people and I do sport a warped sense of humor. I fully expect to find myself (or more likely someone finding me) running down the street some day with my underwear on my head proclaiming myself the "Queen of Everything". It doesn't make me sad, it makes me laugh, as that scene is a true possibility for me. See, another silver lining! I must get it from my mother, although I'm a cynic there are some topics that just beg me to dig for a sparkle of mirth somewhere.

I just hope I'm as funny as my great-grandmother was and as feisty as my grandmother when it strikes. They both showed true grace and left me with warm memories that make me laugh. Like Grandma dropping the f-bomb and swearing like a sailor. So out of character and yet so hilariously funny! I just hope I remember that when it's my turn.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Writer's Groups ARE Important

In addition to helping you hone your craft, decide between traditional publishing vs. self-publishing vs. epublishing, and whether or not your really need an agent, they can provide you with much needed moral support.

My local group is full of published authors who are great at their craft, and whom are willing to share their knowledge. It's awesome! On top of that, one of them has decided to tackle reading my first book and has told me I definitely have a voice and I'm not as bad at the grammar and mechanical skills as I think I am.

All of this makes me smile, and want to go write. Unfortunately, I'm watching system files copy in my attempt to resurrect an email system for a client at the same time I'm installing virtual servers. The day job pays the bills and is challenging, but one of these summers I'd really like to be able to take a week off, sit by a lake and just write.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I've been baaaddd

Oh dear, a month has gone by with no posts! Shame on me.

I've been busy, still it's no excuse. I hope to hop on this weekend and make a posting about all the stuff I learned at my latest writer's group meeting. For instance, how my first chapter of my first book is completely wrong.

The good news is that I've found a reader - a REAL reader - who will be honest with me about my first book. I hope it's still worth working on. I've been begging for brutally honest feedback for several years now and have yet to receive any. This time though my reader is a fellow writer who is a hoot and a half, that I enjoy immensely.

Hopefully, I haven't lost my few followers!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Writing and Drag Queens

So, what do those two have in common, you may ask. Well, I found a sure fire cure for writer's block (well at least for me).

I entered into my writer's group contest and have to have two books ready to go by September 1st. Just a short 6 weeks away! I was kind of stuck on Collie's story. Then this weekend happened.

Saturday was the 2nd Annual Network Neighborhood Bash in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My writer's group sponsored a booth there this year (at my nudging). We had a blast! It's a bit of Pride coupled with a Street Fair and there is so much energy you can feel the air vibrate.

Pretty young men and women paraded about, some modeling, some just being themselves and owning their beauty. A belly dancing young man treated us to a special scarf dance and then danced with a full troupe of belly dancing women who danced together, had their own solos (one complete with a snake that launched a new story idea), and one did a belly dance to country song! Then there was the Queens and Kings show. Our King was adorable, and the Queen's were fierce. California Queens be warned - Michigan knows how to be F-I-E-R-C-E too. (Yes, I am surprised by that as the area I live in is very homophobic).

So much color, so much fun, and so many interesting people. I met some transgendered women I hadn't met before, some trans people there I already knew that I hadn't seen in a while, and I got to catch up with a lot of friends from the LGBTQ community that I don't see often enough. Interesting conversations with all of them, and no, we don't have the same political views on everything. Which makes the conversations even more fun.

Top that up with a visit from one of the college students I know (although my brain was completely fried by then and I didn't spend enough time enjoying her presence as I should have). I also got to know some of my fellow writer's better and now understand why I was drawn to them in my first timid visit to the group meeting.

All in all, I feel like an energy vampire. I'm still vibrating a bit from all the energy, color and life, and my girls are all chatting up a storm.

Got writer's block? Visit a local LGBTQ summer event and you may find it vanish as you laugh, cheer and simply soak up the colors. It seems to work great for me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I often surprise myself

There is a short story contest going on for Paranormal Romance that I was considering a submission for. (Romance isn't my genre, but there's one that kind of fits in their category).

I haven't read this particular piece in about a year, and I was astounded that I wrote it. Not because it's that bad, but because it was much better than I remembered and I was surprised by the wording. It's very different from Jess' story lines, so it's a bit odd to me that I even wrote it. I know I have different styles for different characters, but still, I was surprised I had written it. It's a style I'd read, but not one I thought I could actually write. So, yes, I surprised myself, and pleasantly so.

Do other writers do this? Surprise themselves with their own writing? It's kind of like catching yourself in a window after getting into shape and thinking "Is that me?". Happier moment than the one I see more often these days of an larger version of my mother staring back at me in the mirror.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Time flies too fast!

I'm so behind on so many things this summer. First there was the month-long delay in getting my veggies in the ground - more of which is being done this 3-day weekend - and then there's been the 12 to 16 hour work days that have been going on, so I haven't updated my blogs. I'm overwhelmed at best.

I still have to get the list of writer's links added to this blog site, get the tech stuff added to my tech blog (sometimes I wonder why I bother then some techie friend says "hey, your post helped me" and I'm guilted into maintaining it), and change the format here to include additional pages.

Plus I need to find an editor for the short story from Collie's life submitted into a Paranormal Romanace genre contest just to see how it does. Plus Jess has been bugging me to work on the real-life book of my grandparent's lives, plus get her 2nd book wrapped up and 3rd book started. Oh yeah, and where-oh-where can I find an editor?

Remember those old sexist commercials by Calgon? I feel like I'm stuck in a "Calgon, take me away!" loop lately. Maybe a Jack & Pepsi will do the trick instead.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Typing Dyslexia

I have no idea if this is a "formal" term, but I seem to have a lot of it these days...especially with acronyms that I'm very familiar with. I know what it's supposed to say, so I don't catch the typo until someone else points it out. Which is why I'm such a terrible editor/proof reader of my own work.

Editing is a special skill set that I simply don't seem to have in my genes. My mom is much better at this than I am, but she won't read my writing because of the swearing. I'm in desperate need of an editor but I'm not sure how to go about getting one. How do others go about doing this? I guess that is a question for my mentor. But she is, quite happily, planning for her upcoming nuptials, so I hate to bother her.

Do critique groups have suggestions as to how to find an editor? Are all editors paid? How does this work? I've yet to figure it out, but I'll keep learning.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thankful for Friends

Another person in my writer's group wrote about friends and friendships earlier this week. It's kind of odd, in a funny way, that this was brought up as another friend (one much younger than me) had asked all of his friends how we would define friendship.

Then tonight, a friend of mine checked on me because of a FB post I'd shared just minutes earlier. He was genuinely concerned and I was once again reminded how many truly wonderful people I have in my self-selected family. I wasn't down in the dumps like he thought, just annoyed with my dysfunctional family for the upteenth time.

Then another one messaged me about not being able to attend Pride this weekend due to work and apologizing once more for not being around on my big birthday that just passed. She sent along lots of love and "mwahs" which made me smile and laugh. My friends always know how to perk me up.

It's funny how many friends I have that I seldom get to see but are always there for me if I need them. My BFF has flown out more than once to hold my hand while I was impatiently waiting in a hospital waiting area. (They're no longer rooms, they're mezzanines or some other such name).

My definition of friendship was as follows:
The ability to continuously move in and out of the immediate presence of another person and reconnect after variable lengths of time as if no time has passed, with mutual respect and affection for one another.

Tonight that was proven again to me. We may weave a fabric of friendship that has large gaps, but on the whole it's a warm, fuzzy, soft but strong, loving blanket that is always available if we just reach for it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer = Busy, busy, busy, busy

I either need a clone or a drudge to give me an extra hand. I would not have been able to finish my raised bed planters in time without the help of my dear husband, but I could still use more help for juggling all my plates.

Summer is always highly anticipated for me. I'm a "Sun Child", and the snow was way too long this year. I've finally been able to get my some of my seedlings into one of the raised beds, but I still have tons of sewing and needlework projects that need attention.

My writing ends up being shelved during the first busy months and by August the girls are hollering so loudly that I have no chance but to sit down and crank out pages and pages on each of their stories. This year, they seem to have been affected by the longer cold season and want attention NOW! For this I need an extra one of me, or a jack to download my stories as I barely have time to blog posts done for the all the sites I maintain or am an co-editor for.

Unfortunately, summer also ramps up my busy season for work as schools start their summer rush to get new tech systems in place. I guess I don't really need to sleep.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Merie on The Rapture (a.k.a. "The Big Flop")

Okay, so the world didn't end on Saturday at 6pm EST as per Harold Camping's prediction. Which is a real bummer because I was hoping to join the post-rapture looting parties and score me a much coveted 2011 Ford Mustang.

Merie has been chiming in ever since I figured out what the stupidly annoying billboard was about off the local freeway (or Expressway for MidWesterners). She started out with little signs and comments like "oh, you silly humans!". That has since grown to more vocal statements about how silly the male humans can be, especially when they think they're so much smarter than their Creator.

She's had me typing little snippets here and there, even some handwritten stuff - my eyes will hate me later as even I have issues reading my handwriting. I really need to find a good tool for syncing all this stuff up and preferable not in the "cloud" as I don't always have internet access. Just another thing to add to my ever expanding "to do" list. Summer's always have me busy and this one it's going to have me running like spinning dervish. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life gets in the way

Life always seems to get in the way of my writing. My job, although I do enjoy it, demands a lot of my “spare” time, along with the plethora of my other hobbies (including belly dance classes)and I seem to find myself not writing much.

This point was driven home last night as my husband sat down next to me to watch Game of Thrones and noticed me pounding away on my favorite writing laptop. (Yes, I have favorite laptops, but that's another blog). He asked if I was working on my book, and seemed surprised by it. Apparently it's been months since he's actually seen me writing, which got me to thinking that my writing has been taking the back seat way too much lately. I'm just going to have to find more time to dedicate to writing. Trying to figure out what to cut out is the hard part. Summer is rapidly approaching which means lots of yard work and gardening. Plus I have belly dance class once a week, and I'm helping out with the local GLBT Network groups, and I'm spearheading a big tech event for 2012, and...and...and...I just need a clone.

The odd part is that my most prolific writing month seems to be August. Of course this is Jess' anniversary of her first appearance in my life, and I think that's a big reason why. Or maybe it's just all the sunshine finally gets me to a good level of Vitamin D. The gray weather of Michigan does get to me from time to time, being the Southern California native that I am, I soak up whatever rays of sun that manage to sneak through as often as I can. And that brings me right around back to work.

Summer will be eaten up by tech projects at client sites, which are scattered all over the state. I've decided to experiment with the digital recorder on my Android phone the next long drive I have. If I can record some of my story lines and convert them to text when I land back home, that could be pretty cool and provide me some of that much needed time to write. I'm not sure how well it might work as my old pickup's cab can be pretty noisy, but I figure it's worth a shot. At least until the brain-to-computer jack or those fabled surrogates are ready to go.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Is it Blogger or the Browsers or my POS laptop?

I can't respond to comments now. I'm not sure if it's Blogger or Firefox because it occurs on another laptop I have in FireFox, or if it's IE or if it's just my POS work laptop taht's causing the problem. Either way it's very frustrating as this is happening on my techie blog too.

On a better note, Al-Qaida has confirmed Bin Laden's death, so at least I can be somewhat assured we didn't just get one of his doubles. Jess is two-stepping across my brain today, all happy about it, while I need to get back to writing very boring, dry, technical instructions on how to install a particular app. Yee-haw....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Need to Write, Chaos Reigns again

I have a day job, one that I actually enjoy greatly, but it does get in the way of writing sometimes. Today is one of those days. I can't seem to focus and am taking a time out to jot a few things down here just to relieve some of the chaos.

Part of the wandering brain and Jess' fussing at me may be due, in part, to the fact that my beloved pickup truck is currently at the mechanic. It's possible that the transmission or transfer case may need replacement and if the bill is too steep I won't be able to get it fixed. Which has my hubby nudging me, gently, to the possibility it may be time to replace it. I really don't want to do that, I'd rather restore it. Fact is though I need a vehicle, my job is not conducive to alternative modes of transportation.

So Jess is fussing that I should keep it. I've had it a long time, it's got tons of miles on it and still runs really well, and fact is I really do love my truck. Jess has an old truck too, one that was her grandfather's and I understand the weird love for their trucks that truck owners have. Even more so than anyone with a muscle car. Perhaps because our trucks bail us (and often our friends) out when things are tight and a true workhorse is needed. Jess will never let her grandfather's truck go again and it's a big part of what's keeping her sober. Paul saved it once already for her; he may not be so willing if she falls horrible again.

Merie's quieter today while Collie's gotten more vocal about stupid humans and why can't I just grow wings like her and fly around. Yeah, right like that'll work! Elephants can't fly for a reason, and my ever-expanding butt is in the same boat as elephants. Collie's being very unreasonable for some reason that even Bambi can't fathom. She is coming-of-age in faerie terms, so maybe it's a version of faerie PMS kicking in that I haven't yet to "see". Or maybe she's just being pissy because the weather is so weird lately.

Who knows? My characters are what they are, volatile personalities in their own ways. I just wish we had that brain-to-PC-interface done already so I could quickly download all of their chattering into their various story lines.

I still wonder some days if I'm slipping into dementia early.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Writing & Bin Laden

So, according to my government Bin Laden is dead. Not sure I completely believe it as I don't trust any politician - even the ones I like - farther than I can throw them. I'll believe it more once Al Qaida (do I have that spelled correctly?) verifies it. Little did I have any idea what the affect would have on my characters.

Jess started hooting and hollering the second I heard about it, with Paul at her side trying to calm her down. She's like me in some ways, and is thrilled we finally got the head honcho. Paul, her BFF and balance, managed to get her to listen to some sound advice from Martin Luther King, Jr. and her mood changed to a more respectful and somber one. After all, many lives were lost for this cause and the world will suffer because of this. Jess may suffer too, I'm not sure on that angle yet.

Collie's been neutral, preferring rather to step back and watch how the human world reacts to this latest upheaval in global politics. She's been tsk'ing in my head some, shaking her head at our own destruction and fighting her usual battle of reconciling the Fey and Human components of her own life.

And that brings me to Merie. She's been unusually loud and chatty all day. Throwing her hands in the air, shaking her head, and chewing out Satan while shaking her finger in his face. He swears he had no hand in any of the 9/11 tragedies and that Osama was not one of his minions. Merie is concerned about the potential for erupting violence that may escalate to humans destroying themselves - once again.

As none of this really has to do with any of my character's current stories, I'm uncertain as to why they're so chatty about this. I guess I'll find out soon enough. I would appreciate it though if Merie would pipe down a bit so I can get some sleep tonight. I've got an early morning for my SDJ!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meet Collie

I just realized I hadn't formally introduced Collie here. no wonder she's been complaining so much lately. She's way over due for an introduction, especially as I'm trying to finish up her first book.

Collie Shimmer, who's real name is Columbine Goblinshimmer, stands just a smidgen above the 6' 2” mark, with hair colors that change from her summer honey blond, to a fall auburn, winter white, and spring dirty blond. Her fragile beauty belies her true strengths, but allows her to make an amazing amount of money as a model. She works hard to stay just below super-model status to avoid any truly close scrutiny. Modeling isn't her preference for work, but it allows her to travel the world without drawing any suspicions and the money helps save crucial pieces of her people's territories. Collie's real job as an Ambassador for Faeries the world over keeps her busy and her father happy. She helps keep the peace between the various faerie kingdoms, while working on ways for stopping the humans in their relentless pursuit to completely rape the planet.

Her best friend, soul sister, and servant is another faerie hybrid, Bambi, who is never far from Collie's side. The two work together on everything, and they use their closeness to keep humans at arm's length, opting to not correct the assumption that they are a couple and not interested in any one else. Which is crucial as neither is allowed to breed.

So that's the gist of Collie's story. She is an environmentalist which drives me bonkers as I'm not, so I have to do more research for her story lines that I do for Merie or Jess. But she is beautiful and I enjoy the mysticism of her world. Her wings are exquisite as well and trying to find someone to draw a correct picture of her is proving to be a challenge.

There is a short side story from Collie that I am looking at possibly publishing on Barnes & Noble or Amazon. I'll post a link here when I decide which site to post it on. The legalize is different between the two sites and I'm trying to be sure I'm not giving away any copyrights.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jess & Paul - A Brief History

Jess is my first character - and the one to start all this writing. She makes me laugh, cry, swear, and get blazing mad. I love her anyway and enjoy visiting her world.

Paul is her BFF. They met in college and have been inseparable ever since. Paul is a stockbroker, but is not out at work, and he's a Drag Queen (a Diva really), who not only looks fabulous is a dress and heels but has an incredible singing voice to back them up. It broke his heart to let Jess fall as far as she did, but he knew it was necessary to save her life.

Jess never blamed Paul for her fall, and is grateful that he let her go. She needed the fall to be able to come back, stronger in her sobriety and determined to get her life back on track. Her's is a complicated life, but she's thankful to still have it.

Jess will always be two things: first, a recovering alcoholic, and second, a psychic and she's not particularly fond of her "gift". Jess sees dead people, but not like other psychics. She can see them, touch them, talk to them, and they can respond in the same way. This has resulted in some painful encounters and some interesting battles when one of the dead insists on "borrowing" her body.

Her best girls, Molly and Maggie are also AA lifers, both work at the local hospital with Jess and aren't fully aware of her gift. Molly's a social worker - also a recovering alcoholic and former stockbroker. Maggie works as a billing coder with Jess in the bowels of the hospital.

There's always a hoard of dead clamoring for Jess' attention following her around and new ones pop up at the most inconvenient times. She's managed to corral most of them in her apartment, but every once in awhile one sneaks out. Rosie, a warm grandmotherly type, is one that can find Jess anywhere, and who Jess occassionally calls on for help from time to time. She's almost like Jess' spirit guide, almost, but not quite. Then there's Melissa, the constant whiner who makes Jess throw shoes through her semi-transparent head when she's pushed Jess too far Rosie chastises Jess on a regular basis about her language. Jess can make a drunken sailor blush with her swearing.

I hate to give out much more information than this as I'd like to have people read the book. One which Jess is insisting i need to get published soon...especially since a few of the other characters are insisting on their own story lines now too.

Stay tuned for a few more sneak peeks, and I may be putting some short side stories out on B&N or Amazon sometime soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Time for my own "Coming Out", so come meet Merie

Now that I no longer work where I used to, I can finally step out of my writer's closet and say "I wrote a book!" on my various social networks and tell folks about my characters. Merie would not have been taken well where I used to work, for SO many reasons, but a big part of it being that in Merie's world, God's a woman and none of the world's religions are correct.

If feels great to be able to openly talk about my writing now. Several of the students where I used to work heard about Jess, some from the very beginnings of her presence. Many have laughed with me at the antics of Merie, Jess, and Paul.

So Merie and I are coming out together tonight. Mainly because even thinking about Merie (pronounced more like May-ree) and her world makes me smile.

Merie makes me laugh often - and usually inappropriately - during the workday. You see she gives me mental images of God, who is a woman, grabbing Satan by his curly, blond locks and shaking him like a rag doll all while talking to her Chosen or Satan himself. God has a definite love/hate relationship with Satan and while she could wipe him from existence, she keeps him around...perhaps for stress relief.

The Chosen were created by God to save humankind from itself and are most easily described as Angel/Human hybrids - without the wings. They are the protectors of humankind (which is on version 2.0). Merie is a "baby" in terms of Chosen, at a mere 413 years old, she's Jesus' half sister. And yep, Jesus, a big metro-sexual, is still around and preparing for his second-coming. He makes me laugh too.

God is beautiful, loving, scary and fierce. Picture a carmel-brown colored woman who looks kind of like the Greek's depiction of the Goddess Athena, only really, really TALL. God, is understandably, an awesome engineer and Satan (a.k.a. Stan) looks like an adult version of a cherub, standing somewhere around 6'7".

Every Chosen has special capabilities. Merie's special abilities allow her to manipulate the earth's energy (which makes moving really easy) and she can restore barren earth to agricultural viability. There's a catch though; she can only heal barren or human-damaged earth at God's command. To do otherwise could throw a wrench in God's plans and no Chosen wants to do that.

Merie's being sidetracked to determine how an area in North Dakota has been damaged by an oil leak when it was not in God's Plan. God gave humans free will because it was the right thing to do, but it keeps coming back to bite her in the butt. At least God has a sense of humor about it. And because it's a free will issue, God doesn't know the details of the who/what/when/where/why of it all. Merie keeps running into Satan, who keeps breaking out of his cage, and learns in the process that sometimes Satan doesn't lie and that sometimes, God is not only loving, but really funny too.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ready....Set...Write! Yeah, right!

So here I sit, Diet Pepsi and Chocolate on hand (doesn't everyone have Diet Pepsi and Chocolate for breakfast?) ready to write something fantabulous for the Grand Rapids Region Writer's Group for my first blog entry and my brain goes "Yeah, right. I'm taking a nap." and hands the reigns over to Jess, Paul, Collie, Merie, and Myrtle. Let the chaos ensue!

I even tried the tactic of hitting FaceBook to get them to back off to no avail. Instead, I now have notes for 2 more books, three more scenes written for existing stuff, and none of it edited or even in one spot. Too bad I don't make enough at the day job to afford an assistant, I could really use one today. And to top it off I have a fund raiser to appear at this afternoon, found a Drag Queen in town that I just MUST meet - she's GORGEOUS! - and luckily a friend of mine is FB friends with her, and I got myself volunteered to help with IT stuff for the next Network Neighborhood Bash. This is all on top of my normal workload, upcoming IT training session (I'm the leader/presenter), planning for a 2-day local tech event organized, manned, and pulled off by volunteers who all have full time IT jobs.

The chocolate is gone now, the Diet Pepsi is about 1/2 drained, the dogs have finally stopped barking, Jess is still chatting, but much quieter now, and I'm still trying to figure out what to write for the GRRWG blog. Something will come...I hope.

I'm also thinking about the latest news from my newly assigned mentor, an established, published author, and dreading the fact that not only do I need this blog, I now also need to set up a website for myself. I work in IT all day long, the last thing I want to do is do more IT work when I get home. I wonder if I can teach the dogs how to code in Ruby, Pearl, PHP, or HTML5. They're certainly smart enough, but they're pretty lazy. I'd try to teach the cats, but they're cats, they don't even deign to work...unless it's to unravel what's in my knitting bag.

The last of the Diet Pepsi is drained (I wonder if I can get money for product placement on a blog?...hmmmm....) and my brain has walked by, yawning, stretching and heading for a coffee pot. Perhaps it'll finally cooperate and come up with something novel for my first assigned blog spot.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Musing about MaryJanice Davidson

One of the writer's from my local group was on TV yesterday, touting her latest book, which made me do a "happy chair dance". Best part of that is she'll be my mentor, yippee!!

So, what's this got to do with MaryJanice of Betsy, Wyndam, Fred, and Jennifer Scales fame? I was having a bit of a self-pity party as it wasn't me on TV and I was wishing MaryJanice was next door so I could dash over with some warm Snickerdoodles as a bribe and pick her brain for a bit. MJD was most kind in answering all of my questions at her book signing in Lansing for Me, Myself, and Why?, but now I have more questions, and she's not anywhere near me - geographically speaking.

Tracy, MJ's busy assistant, is also incredibly wonderful, answering all sorts of questions I've emailed her. One of these days, I'll have to find a way to be at a conference where they will be at so I can thank them with something appropriately and wonderfully chocolate.

In the meantime, I'll skulk about for the rest of the day while mulling over what to blog about on the GRRWG site tomorrow, and perhaps re-read the first Betsy book for a good laugh tonight.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Writing and WOOT

What does writing and the WOOT site have in common? Ever since officially joining this "new" writing group, I've been a bit obsessed with writing again. This has caused me to not check on a daily basis as I've done for the past several years. Which in turn made me miss out on a deal for some more Topsy-Turvy planters and I'm a bit bummed about that.

I have a big garden planned again this year, and hanging tomatoes means I have more space in the yard for other plants. It means more work, but more produce so it's a 6-of-1, 1/2-dozen-of-the-other situation. More yard work = less writing time. In theory anyway. More yard work means I also sleep in less during the sunny months, which may ultimately mean more writing time.

Is it possible to have too many hobbies? Maybe so as I still have a full-time techie gig, which requires a lot of my time during the summer months to help out educational customers doing big upgrades. No matter how I look at it, I either need more hours in a day, or some minons to help out. Winning a big lotto wouldn't hurt either.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gone for too long...

Another month has flown by without me posting or writing much. I've been super busy at work - including doing some weekend work - and somehow I've found I've "volunteered" my mooching expertise to help with this year's Network Neighborhood Bash. I just can't pass up a chance to see Drag Queens, Belly Dancing, and Fire Dancers all in one place! Plus it really is a fun event for the GLBTQ and friendlies in the area.

AND...I've officially joined my local writer's group, so I'll be volunteering to pick up a spot on their blog. AND..I have a tech event to plan, a presentation to get ready for in May, and I'm traveling somewhere around 300 miles just on Monday and Tuesday of this week for work. Maybe it's time to invest in the latest version of Dragon and get a digital recorder. I wonder if there's one that can eliminate the wind noise from inside my truck cab? Hmmm....

Oh, and I started Belly Dance an absolute neophyte, but it's just too much fun to pass up!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crazy Women Writers - gotta love 'em!

So, I went to my first ever writers group. Yes, I'll be joining, even thought most of them are in a genre I don't write for. But they're up for Jess' swearing, Merie's irreverence, and Collie's blood lines. Plus all of the LGBTQ story lines that can't help but be interwoven into all of their stories.

Many of the women are published, most electronically and in paperback, some via Champagne Press which is a Canadian ePublisher. I'm not sure that any of my story lines fit their genre either, but I'm still debating about ePublishing submissions. I need to learn a bit more about the publishing biz first. And I still need to get submissions out to more agents.

I'm hoping to find a reader/critique-r from the group who can help me decide if the ending in Jess' first book goes too fast, or is lacking in some fashion. I'd shortened some pieces up thinking that 65,000 words may be "too" long for mass paperback. I'm finding now, perhaps it's too short and I can add back a few pieces and parts.

Either way, I need more time to write and as I've been working late ever since starting the new gig, I could really use a clone of me. Or at least a few surrogates like in the Bruce Willis movie so I could send one off to work while another writes what I tell it to...hmmm, that gives me a new idea.

Where's that brain-to-computer jack at?! I could really use one.

Oh, and I could use another surrogate to do all the baking that needs to happen so pictures can be taken for the cookbook I've been asked to write.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crazy Busy!

The new day gig has been keeping me crazy busy in addition to a little side gig that I have on my plate. No time to write pretty much anything but tech stuff.

Good news is that I may have found a local writer's group to join. I'm waiting to hear back from their fearless president to see if they're open to Jess' potty-mouth, Merie's knowledge of God, and Collie's environmentalism. The girls are all clamoring for attention and with little time to write, the chaos in my head is building. I'm hoping to carve out some time this weekend to hit the keyboard hard.

Oh, and not to be forgotten, the coven is demanding their book be started soon. Auggh!! Have "they" perfected the brain-jack yet so I can just link in and download everything?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Happiness = Inspiration

I'm am so overjoyed at the new job I accepted today and all the new techie stuff I will be learning, that I have a new story line for all 3 of the girls. And I still have to finish up the first books for 2 of the girls, and the second book for Jess.

It's so nice to have the girls back and chattering on about their story lines that I don't care about the chaos or the resulting headache. Just thrilled to be so ready to write again.

The mysterious "they" have predicted will have "mind jacks" in the near future where we can plug into our computers and down load our thoughts. Why isn't that available now? I need it now, it would make things much easier.

Another happy note is that at my new job, not only do I get a real office - yes, finally I get to escape Cubeville - it comes with a nice bright window, yellow walls and one bright green wall. I can't wait to move in!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Been a long time!

Wow! It's been since November and here it is mid-January already! I failed NaNoWriMo...didn't hit the 50,000 mark but made great progress on Collie's story.

Job hunting has been consuming me lately. I'll be leaving the current job at the end of the month, and will heave a big sigh of relief at my departure. Good news is there are some leads that show potential and that may leave room for the editing of Jess' books.

I have a list of agents to hit up, and I've decided to use B&N's electronic publishing arm to publish a cookbook that a friend has asked me to put together. So I'll hopefully have some real feedback on that soon.

I've also added an iPad to the mix of electronic devices that I jot notes on. Let me tell you, the iPad is not so good at creating content...the keypad and auto correct tends to get in the way. But, it can be handy when inspiration strikes in the wee hours and you need a fast booting device.

More on Jess, Collie, Merie and the rest of the girls...perhaps next month!