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.