Sunday, December 16, 2012

Baking Satan

Yesterday I got to spend the day with a few of my favorite teens. Niether of them are mine or related to me in any legal or DNA-based sense, but they seem to like it at our house.  I've been teaching both of them to bake some of my favorite treats and we bake something every time they're here.

I was having the kids whip up a batch of Snickerdoodles, which are evil by themselves, in anticipation of the Dance Central Dance-off that they'd challenged Andrea Dickinson and myself to at the last GRRWG meeting.  I'd been promising to teach them what I've labelled Snickerdoodle muffins (a.k.a French Breakfast Puffs slightly modified) so I whipped up a quick batch before they started ont he cookies so I could show them how easy they are to put together.

The muffins came out of the oven just in time to put the Snickerdoodles in.  I quickly put the finishing touches on the batch and had one of the kids run a muffin down to my hubby.  Then they got to taste them for the first time.

They're so evilly delicious the first comment was "Oh my God, this is Satan!". Which had me laughing. A mother was called and told "I ate Satan today".  I can only imagine the look on her face. The reaction had me laughing, they are so yummy I can eat an entire batch by myself.

This morning I baked Satan again to feed the one kid that spent the night. I brought one to his mom when I returned him home. She likes them so much that now "he" has been requested as part of their Christmas breakfast.

I wonder if I can blame my weight on "Satan", seeing as how most of my excess is due to my own baked goods?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Inspiration for Self-Publishing

I attended a free webinar courtesy of Writer's Digest last week on editing. I was hoping for some tips, which I got plenty of, what I didn't expect was to have enough confidence to decide to go the self-published route.

Currently, I have my dear hubby researching formatting requirements and methods for Kindle and Nook formats. I am doing my last round of edits on the first Jess book before asking for some first readers. (If you're interested, shoot me an email to I will end up locating an editor willing to take on the job of final editing to make it marketable. While that is going, I'll tie up the loose ends and restructuring needs of the second book in the Jess series to have that ready to go to an editor and readers so I can get it out quickly.

My goal is to have them ready by the end of Q2/2013. Cover Art may end up being my biggest challenge. I have a definite idea of what I want and for that I need a real artists to do some vector drawings for me, because I can't draw worth a damn.

I can't believe I'm actually deciding to go this route, but things are changing so fast in publishing it may be the best route for me at this point. I'll still be sending out letters to agents to see if I can find one, but in the meantime, Jess Barker needs to get out into the bigger world outside of my head.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Older Women + Purple = Perfect Match

For whatever reason, I have found that older women and the color purple just seem to go together.
Perhaps it's because purple has long been associated with royalty and goddesses. Perhaps we're trying to reconnect with our inner goddess. Or perhaps it's because of the Red Hat Society and that now infamous poem of "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me..."

Whatever the reason, I find it comforting to know that women of all ages have a fondness for purple. I've loved purple since I was a kid. My favorite colors were blues and purples, perhaps some greens. Always the deep rich warm colors, not the pastelly-girly stuff, but the serious stronger colors.  It is only now, that I have reached a certain age point and comfort in my career, do I really reach for the purple in my clothes. I have always tried to dress for comfort, even when working under strict dress codes, but my current job allows for a bit more "laxness" in clothing choices, so my most favorite purple shoes ever surround my feet in cozy, sqooshy, warm comfort on a chilly day.

You see, today I have on my F-Ughs (Fake Ughs) that I bought yesterday; they are uber cool because they are purple. And a pretty purple I might add.  All the older women in my office noticed them right away and talked about the color, asked if they were comfy and where I got them. The guys all asked "are those slippers?". No boys, they are not slippers. They are acceptable footwear - if you stretch the dress code hard enough.

They make me smile, and right now that's a good thing.  My  test results came back fine, but unfortunately for my dear friend the news got worse, rather than staying stable or getting better. In a show of support - she is family to us after all - my dear hubby shaved his head and got his one-and-only tattoo. On the back of his head. Apparently one of the toughest spots to get one. The big guy now sports a bald head, a goatee, and a pretty pink ribbon tattoo with her initials on the back of his head and I couldn't be prouder of him. And no, I do not mind that he has another woman's initials on the back of his head; even though for totally unselfish reasons I wish they were mine instead of hers, so I could tackle the hardship of chemo on her behalf and have her be left healthy and whole.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Check Yourself

As the end of October is upon us, I had a stark reminder of the fact that this is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Please check yourself, every month, and every year if you're off "that age" to get mammograms - this includes you men as well!

Last week I learned that my annual exam came back with unusual results.  I received a call from the testing center to call "ASAP" to discuss my results and then promptly refused to answer the phone when I called back. By the time I finally got them on the phone, I'd had calls from the two doctors I'd had the results sent to telling me to schedule a follow-up exam, but that I shouldn't panic just yet.

Then yesterday, I learned a dear friend has breast cancer on the same side as my abnormal results. In an odd way it's made my waiting for a final diagnosis a bit easier. I have game plans in place for the both of us, one direction if I do have it, another if I don't. Either way, I'll be there to hold her hand, along with my amazing dear hubby. After all, I have the best role models for this.

I haven't noticed anything off, but I'm a dense girl, so more difficult to test. But then, neither did my mom. However, my mom and I have an advantage: her mother. My grandmother had a double mastectomy and was a guinea pig for much of our protocols in use today. She handled it all with style, grace, and fight. My mom also handled hers well, and was fought for what was right for her. As a result, I've done a lot of research and had made all my decisions on treatments plans years ago. I did not want to have to make these decisions while in the throws of the diagnosis.

Either way, I'll have an answer this week.  It is not a death sentence. No matter what the results, I'll fight. In my own way, and on my terms. For myself, my dear, dear friend, and everyone else who may be affected by this.

My only request is this: Check yourself.  Now, and each month. If you don't know how, there are tons of resources online. Start with the Susan G. Komen site at a minimum.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jess makes me laugh

Jess, from my Jess Barker series makes me laugh often.  Today at my writers group meeting she had me laughing in my head.

Trying to explain how she feels towards another character, here's the piece of dialog that had me laughing:

Jess:  "There are not enough words in the English language to describe how I feel about you. To call you a slimy disgusting insect is an insult to the even the most disgusting insects I can imagine.  At best, you are a malignant mole on Satan's ass."

Gave me a visual derived from the Adam Sandler movie "Little Nicky", which makes me giggle even hours later.

My characters, gotta love 'em!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oh Stitching!!

Oh, I'm SOOOO excited!  I just found out about Nordic Needles "Tea n Friends" retreat next April!  I'm late to the game considering they need the registrations by mid-October, but how excited am I?

In case there's any other stitchers lurking out there here's the info.  It's in North Dakota (a state I've been wanting to visit), so it's a bit far to drive by myself meaning I'll have to fly in. That ups the price a bit, but I'm tempted.

For anyone else who may be tempted, here's the brochure link:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Intriquing Research

I've been working on The Scot story lately, trying to finish it up for a competition deadline in a few months. To do so means I need to do research, or in reality, I order my dear hubby to do some research for me. But he's been busy, so I've been doing some research on my own.

The research involves delving into a topic that I haven't gotten into deeply since high school. Mainly because I despise the research subject: Hitler. Hitler's inner circle is a key part of the storyline and has ties to many of The Scot's secrets. I haven't studied World War II in decades, although I did have a class in it in high school where we saw lots and lots of video of Hitler.

I must admit, Hitler was a great orator, like many of our politicians. It is amusing to see the similarities between our current President's rise to power and Hitler, not so much in who they are as people, but rather their constituent's reactions. How both were adored by the youth, how much faith was placed into the hands of one person to return the country to it's former glory, the willingness to follow blinding without question, and even more interesting: the push for the country to be healthier and get into shape. I find it all fascinating and have to wonder what this has to do with The Scot's storyline.

With all of the political campaigning going on, I'm fascinated with how the supporters are reacting. I don't remember such blind adoration when I first was able to vote. I remember seeing some of this when Clinton was running, but not so much with GW was running. It reminds me of a line from Back to the Future, after Doc knows Ronald Regan is the President and he's checking out Marty's camera: "No wonder your president has to be an actor. He's gotta look good on television."

I guess the "rock star" reaction is to be expected as we move to more and more readily available media and videos.  And I have to wonder: how would our Founding Fathers have done in a campaign if they were to run today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hotel "Etiquette"

I happen to be visiting my home office this week and am therefore holed up in a hotel with a strange bed, while my hubby gets to stay home with the fur kids and the garden that still needs watering.  And he has free access to...CHOCOLATE!

As I sit in my room craving a Snickers or Twix, something gooey, chocolatey and carmelly, I'm debating.  How old do you have to be to get away with wandering down the hallway, flabby boobs bouncing, to feed a hot-flashed induced craving?

Decorum dictates I take the time to put back on the bra (I can't afford children's lifelong psychiatric visits should I run into and scare any) at a minimum.  My upbringing also dictates my derriere be covered in something besides my yoga pants as well due to the ever present jiggle of my ever widening posterior.  However, at this point in the day and my current comfort level neither of those propositions can motivate me enough to toddle down the haul to score some chocolate.

Either I am really lazy or I siimply don't want the chocolate badly enough. I guess these peanut butter crackers will do. They will also cancel out the strides I made on the hotel treadmill earlier.

Oh well, at least I can flop around my hotel room in comfort!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Conversations with Merie

First the happy-happy joy-joy stuff. I was approached by the global software company I did work for a few months ago to assist with another marketing campaign.  I'm getting paid to help vet the materials again, woo-hoo! Another paying side gig.  Let the dancing begin!

Okay, now on the more serious and political stuff.  Merie has been pretty vocal lately regarding the shootings and subsequent gun control discussions.  In a way I'm very surprised at her stance. While she really doesn't like us having weapons, she recognizes we have free will and have to battle demons on a more routine basis that we silly humans realize. She prefers that every human have a means to protect themselves against oppressive governments and the general evil that abounds on the planet.

Of course, I feel that gun control laws only affect those who already follow the rules. Look at Canada, they don't allow guns, yet criminals have them.  Russia has state before that if they were to invade the US the one state they won't attack is Texas. Why? Because they know that the vast majority of it's residents have guns (both legally and illegally). I found that fascinating!

I'm all for keeping guns out the hands of the whack-jobs out there, but I don't see how it can be done effectively and without endangering our right to bear arms even further.  And that's something that has perplexed Merie. So I asked her to ask God about it. God's frustrating answer: "It's all about free will. Bites me in the butt, it bites them in the butt on occasion."  There's more to this conversation, but that's the jist of it. I'm not sure which book of hers it belongs in yet, but that it's this conversation that has Merie's story flowing once again. Which brings me right back around to happy dancing.

Do I have the answer to the supposed "gun" issues in the US. Nope. Don't even pretend to. But I'll be damned if anyone is going to take away my right to defend myself.

I have more on this topic, but first I must write what Merie is telling me and join my hubby on our nightly walk.

Monday, June 11, 2012

In Honor of a Brave Woman

I meant to post this on June 3rd, in honor of what would have been my grandmother's 109th birthday. (I was thinking it would have been her 110th, but I'm off by a year).  I have more history on her, but given the times we are in, I felt this would be a nice little introduction.

My grandmother, born Juanita (June) Catherine Bose,, was the only girl in a small Nebraska farming family. Born into a male dominated household, her father felt that educating a girl was frivolous. Education was for boys. However, my grandmother adored school and endured some tremendous difficulties to get to the local one-room schoolhouse.

Born in June of 1903, she was the only daughter and was very talented in math and science, as evidenced by her calculus homework from the 5th grade. Each morning, before she could go to school, she had to complete her household and farm chores. She often had to wait for her brothers as well, because she was not allowed to ride the horse by herself until she was much older.

My great-grandfather was a very autocratic taskmaster. All three children endured severe whippings in the woodshed for even minor infractions. Grandma was not allowed to have her candles lit past a certain hour. She would often get up late at night, after she was certain her parents were asleep, to complete her studies. She was a voracious reader her entire life, even though near the end of her life her eyesight had significantly worsened.

Upon her death I discovered a lot of her homework. Her elementary school math papers had scores of 98% on the low end, with the majority at 100%, for math problems that only college students see now. (And today's college students do not do these problems without a calculator at hand). Her report cards rarely showed a final score of less than 95% in any subject, and never below 90%. I also located letters from her former schoolteacher; they had kept in touch all of their lives. Miss Selma had remained in Nebraska, but had written to my grandmother on a regular basis. It was a very long-lived friendship. Grandma’s younger brother, Hop, visited Selma during a family reunion several years ago. Miss Selma was over 100 at the time, but was very lucid and spoke glowingly about my grandmother’s scholastic abilities.

Grandma went back to high school in her late 30’s and graduated as valedictorian around her 40th birthday. This was during the 1940’s and before my father completed his own high school education. She never did explain why she didn’t go onto college herself, but she made sure my father had at least some college education.

My mother holds a degree in teaching, which my grandmother helped make possible, and insisted we went on to college. After my sister dropped out of college, my grandfather wasn’t sure if I would finish college and refused any financial assistance. Grandma overrode him from time to time and helped me out with my college tuition or books. I was the only one of her grandchildren to have her present during their college graduation. It was 104° in the shade that day and she was dressed to the nines, as usual. She told me much later that it was one of her proudest days. Grandma was thrilled that my mother, sister and I had better educational opportunities that she had. And she was very proud of the fact that all of her grandchildren had been to college.

My sister followed my grandmother’s example and went back to school to finish her Bachelor's degee in her mid-30’s. She graduated before she turned 40; I know that grandma was there in spirit. My brother and I both graduated from the same college and with the same degree. Grandma was not physically able to attend my brother’s graduation, but she had wanted to go very badly.

I had learned a lot from Grandma about her own educational woes when I lived with my grandparents, off and on, throughout my undergraduate career. She traveled several miles, often in extreme weather, to attend school. Grandma was definitely born too early. With her math and science skills, she probably would have obtained a doctorate in Math or Computer Science had she been born in the 1950’s or 1960’s.

Grandma was always very interested in my math and computer classes. I taught her how to use my programmable calculator and she thought it was the most amazing thing ever created. Even into her late 80’s my grandmother insisted on keeping her books by hand, insisting that the manual task kept her mind sharp.

My father moved back home to help my grandparents after my grandfather had a heart attack. One weekend while I was “grandparent-sitting” I showed Grandma how to play Solitaire on his computer. She had never used a computer before, but eventually got the hang of using a mouse. She never did ask to use the computer though, after all it wasn’t hers, but she did have fun when I’d put her on it. She was always amazed at what such a small device could do.

Grandma had seen women go from not having the right to control their own biological destinies and voting rights to walking in space. She was a silent pioneer for Women’s education. If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had not insisted on being educated, allowed to vote, or have any number of other advantages, I would not be who I am today. I would definitely have had an extremely difficult time getting into an MBA program, if I’d even been allowed to apply. My grandmother is my hero because she did what she had to in order to get the education she yearned for. I can only hope to be such a role model for other young women.

And I really hope today's young women understand how some of them are undermining what women like my grandmother fought so hard for.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Queerify-ing the Beastie

My new truck has only been with me a few days, hasn't had 100 miles put on it yet, and has only had Country music playing in it so far.  It's still got a long way to earn the status of "Bubba Truck #2", so is nicknamed "the beastie" for now. It hasn't even hauled a load of anything yet.  I decided today was the day to make it truly mine.

I pulled out my Adam Lambert CD and offered up the "virgin" CD player to his first album. I have to love the man. First, he's got an amazing rock voice, is huge sexy, and comes from the one place I truly feel home, San Diego county.  Top that off with the fact that he is openly gay, and I'm an big fan. 

As soon as the first tune started spilling out of the speakers Jess' BFF Paul hopped into my head, making the transition to his Drag Queen self in no time and singing along with me. I had to laugh at all the chaos in going on in my head, Jess was stating that real trucks only play country music, while Paul/Jolita insisted that true allies are open to any kind of music in their trucks and the rest of their crew danced around my head like the Grateful Dead bears.

Popping on my bluetooth headset I made a call to my BFF and left him the following voice mail: "I've queerified the new beastie...I'm playing Adam Lambert in it."

On my way home he called me back, saying the dog told him I'd called. I repeated the message and he laughed along with me. Only I would think to properly queerify my vehicle, but then I am an odd duck, and at a minimum I made my dear friend laugh.

Best part is Jess just gave me the plot changes for book #4 so it's time to write!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Cash for Clunkers" Fall-out Victim

Last night I was having a major pity party, throwing a bit of a tantrum and in tears. I received devastating (well, for me it was devastating) news yesterday afternoon that the axle that we had a line on for my old Bubba truck had the wrong gearing, wasn't setup for ABS or 4WD. At best, we can hope for an axle rebuild, should we be able to find the parts.

Thank to the efforts of my state's Senators (yes, Debbie Stabenow you are one of the guilty!) push to pass "Cash for Clunkers" in an effort to boost auto sales, there are far fewer replacement parts for vehicles of all ages.  Even more so for a 22 year old pickup.  My beloved Bubba truck was a victim of that *oh-so-brilliant-move* (can you hear the sarcasm dripping here?) and my heart was broken.

Fast forward to this morning, when I did just what the wasteful legislation wanted me to do all along, and I went and "replaced" Bubba with a new vehicle. But not quite in the way they'd hoped for. My new vehicle is a new Ford F-150.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I may have bowed to buying a new vehicle, but no I did not spend the extra $3K to get the new Eco-boost V6 Ford is so proud of. Nope. I got me a big honking V8 that gets an estimated 14mpg and 19mpg. Which is far less than Bubba's 22 and 24.  Bwahahaha!!!

Unfortunately for me, the seats are cloth, not the vinyl that I wanted. The windows are powered, not manual like I wanted. But I did score the only vinyl floor on the lot, and it doesn't have Sync (I fix Microsoft's buggy code all day, I don't want it on my vehicle), it's the color I really like, and it's very plain Jane.  I can live with the pieces that aren't exactly as I wanted, however, I'm not sure I will ever get around to liking the horridly ugly and poorly laid out dash.

I'm hoping to get a special license plate for it, if what I want is available, I'll have to wait and see on that as you can't get special plates here the day you purchase a new vehicle.  Part of the problem of not having the DMV and dealer lots connected by computer. Oh, and you can't buy a vehicle on Sundays in this state either.

Fortunately for my old beloved Bubba truck, it's not completely falling victim to the evil plans of DC.  Instead, it's becoming my project truck. My dear hubby bowed to my pouting and shouts of "I don't want to get rid of Bubba truck!" and we will slowly get it restored as funds and parts cooperate. I could really use having my brother nearby to help with it, but alas, I'm not moving back to my home state and it doesn't look like he'll move my way.

None of this has much to do with writing, other than the impact it has had on my emotions. When I'm not happy, writing doesn't happen, so not much has been done on any of my series and the majority of my characters have been quiet. Except for Jess, who pouted and sobbed with me.

Only truck owners really understand other truck owners attachments to their old work horses, perhaps that's why I love Jess so much.

If you happen to live in the Greater Grand Rapids Michigan area, I highly recommend Tony Betten & Sons Ford. They let me take off with the keys and drive the new beastie around sans sales guy, got it all washed and shiny, gassed it up, and dug for every rebate and discount possible for me. Had Bubba been 5 years newer, I would have gotten another rebate, but alas, no go.  As it was he found us over $4K in discounts to go with our X-plan discounts.

Bubba has a new fan in our sales guy who can't wait until it comes in for the axle replacement so he can see what all the fuss is about. He even hooked me up with a really good parts shop that seems to find the hardest to find parts.  Which is pretty cool, considering the first time I had Bubba there for repair, it was misdiagnosed and they fixed it for free to the tune of $1,800 worth of repairs. Love that they stand behind their repairs!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bring on the Criticism!

Maybe I'm weird - okay I know I'm weird - but I'm SO excited to be going through all the criticism from the judges of the Daphne du Maurier contest.  They've given the good, bad, and the ugly on my book. And while I did have a response to one judge's comment, the rest all gave me tons of stuff to work on. Best part? Most of their criticisms are what I was already thinking is wrong with the book. 

It's great to know I'm on the right track. Now I just have to figure out how to fix it. And how am I supposed to improve my writing if I don't know what's wrong. I mean, I know the entire story, but I don't know that what's on the page is enough for everyone else.

My favorite comment is this one from the summary page:
The basis of the story is very good. 

Short and to the point and tells me I've got a good starting point at least.

This one warmed my heart and made feel for the judge, because I may be the one contestant who won't take her comments as criticisms of who I am or who my character is.

Please don't feel discouraged by any of my remarks. You've got the premise for a great cozy here, you just need to work it up some more. I know how hard it is to take a wip from ok-to-good-to-great. You can do it! You've got the imagination, the smarts, and the "voice". Keep at it and i'm sure you'll be published. Good luck!
 This judge is the only one I wish I could have spoken too, because I had questions for her.

You’ve created a heroine with a lot of potential: ex-alcoholic, short fuse, and surprised by dead people at all hours of the day though she’s still a bit of a cipher to me.

I’m pretty confused about the rules/mythology for the dead people. Can the dead people contact jess anywhere or do they have to stay where they are? Could rosie get into the car with jess if she wanted to or does she need to stay in jess’ home? Does jess see dead people constantly at the hospital?

I would think carefully about what the main story is - sallie mae’s story or the story at the hospital - and how much detail you need to go into about the ancillary characters. I’m not sure who is really important to the story.
 My question would be should I put all the information on the rules for Jess's dead groupies. It comes later in the book and I'm wondering if I should put it in the first few chapters. If I could have put in more than 5,000 words she would have gotten that info. But I really like the last paragraph about thinking what is the main story. Because they're all tangled up together I'm not quite sure how I'll fix that yet.

And this one was my absolute favorite, mainly because this judge also gave me his/her email address should I have questions later - and I will be sending one for certain!  
I think this submission has some real potential. The author has an interesting plot in mind. And to be honest, except for a typo here or there, I had no real issues with sentence structure, grammar or punctuation (except for the!s) It was the overabundance of detail that kept stopping me. But truthfully, this is an easy fix, as long as you are willing to part with a good portion of your words.

Think of your novel as a garden. It’s hopefully overflowing with flowers instead of weeds. You want your readers to see and smell and experience the beauty of your skillfully crafted roses, hollyhocks and irises, your flowers. You don’t want your novel garden to be overrun by dandelions.

I wish you the very best and hope that I helped at least a little. Never give up, never stop writing and always, always believe in yourself.
That last line is the one to hang onto. And I hope soon, that I'll get it all figured out and be able to get Jess' story out there.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Strange Love Affair

I've said this line many times: “Anyone who's known me for more than 15 minutes knows I love my truck!”. Luckily for me, my dear hubby is willing to tolerate my odd love affair with my truck. In case you haven't know me for more than 15 minutes, here's the run down on my truck.
  • First new vehicle I've ever purchased
  • Have owned it longer than all but 1 of my nieces and nephews have been alive
  • If it were human it would be legal age to drink alcohol
  • It's a Ford Ranger Custom – who ever ordered it originally had failed financing and it had sat on the lot for 6 months
After 22 years and 325,000 miles, my truck – affectionately nicknamed “Bubba” - had to go in for service. I dreaded what the news may be as I really don't want a new truck, I don't want loan payments, and there's no new Ford Ranger to be had in my town. (Ford has stopped making them). And besides, Bubba truck still runs great, it's a perfect fit for me, and better yet, my hubby can fit in it and actually drive it. Simply put: I love my truck and never, ever want to get rid of it.

Bubba is a simple truck. Nothing fancy on board, besides the extended cab. My one niece referred to his manual windows as “Ghetto Windows” and was a bit shocked to discover there is an alternative to power windows. He has vinyl seats and a vinyl floor just as I had wanted. His color is dark charcoal, interior is light grey, and he came with an AM radio. He does have air conditioning – which I didn't want, but am now very thankful for - and there is only one computer chip on board. That one chip costs about $1,200 to replace now and controls only his starting and fuel injection system.

Bubba and I got together when I was living on my grandfather's orange grove in California. It's first load was an engine hoist we'd rented to use on my grandmother's 1965 Dodge Coronet, and it that was also it's first scratch – in the bed of course. It had been christened as a “real” work truck. Subsequent loads included smudge pots, a pair of pot bellied pigs with the complete makings for their sty's, a friend's office (complete with furniture, files cabinets, and computers), show rabbits, multiple breeds of dogs, lots and lots of computers, and towed a Toyota Corolla with a bad transmission.

I broke Bubba's front shock while off-roading in the bad lands with friends and he still valiantly drove back up the mountain, back into town to drop off my passenger, and then back up the mountain home without compliant. He had his patience (and mine) tested by my brother-in-law who took him to 55 in 3rd gear when he was still being broken in. Since then he's rarely been driven by anyone but me, or my hubby. Bubba is the last manual transmission vehicle my beloved grandfather (a.k.a. Pop) drove. His passengers ranged from multiple

Bubba came with me to pick up my hubby and his kitty in Arizona to move home with me. One of my favorite dogs rode in the front seat with me every weekend to take care of my grandparents. Kodi, our first Great Pyrnees, rode on the arm rest in the bench seat, wrapped in a small towel, on his trip home from his breeder's house and when he got big he rode in his crate, strapped down in the bed. Rascal, one of our favorite kitties, tucked himself into that same arm rest on his way home, after exploring the entire cab first.

It was while driving in Bubba that Pop explained the truth of his birth to me and I learned of my Native American roots. He's also the last vehicle I rode in with Pop, and the only vehicle that I know of that my grandmother went off-roading in while in a tiny jump seat.

Bubba safely delivered our Great Pyrenees dogs Kodi and Kira, our kitties Rascal and Romeow, and my dear hubby to Michigan from California during a minor tornado outbreak in Illinois and Indiana.
None of Bubba's passengers have been famous, but many of my friends consider it an honor to ride in Bubba. The only pair of twins to ever ride in Bubba are now out of college (how scary is that).

I've refused to trade in Bubba truck when we purchased our 1995 Thunderbird, again for our 1999 Suburban, once more when we purchased my 2001 Trakker and our 1999 Yukon at the same time, and finally for our current Suburban. He also outlasted my hubby's 1995 Tempo, and the Caprice Classic we bought from my cousins after my great-uncle passed away.

Bubba and I have been all up and down California and Michigan The only time he has ever stranded me was my own fault when I left his head lights on and the battery died. AAA has always come to the rescue in those situations. We've spent a lot of time together, I had always planned on keeping Bubba until I can no longer get parts to fix him. The good news, is I can hold onto that dream a little bit longer.

The mechanics called back and Bubba is fixable. I've worn out his back end after all these years of hauling stuff around, and completely flattened out his leaf springs. So after a new axle and new leaf springs (which are almost as old as Bubba), Bubba and I will be back on the road, happily toodling around town. No one else in town has a truck that looks like Bubba truck. One of my friends can spot him from the other side of the expressway going in the opposite direction. I swear it's the white shell, although I must admit I haven't seen a 1990 Ford Ranger in dark charcoal grey around town other than mine.

Not for the first time, my early birthday and Christmas present this year will be getting Bubba what he needs done. I'm doing a happy dance while my dear hubby is teasing me about turning Bubba into an artificial reef in Lake Michigan. Either way, in a week or so, Bubba will have an axle replacement and I will be happily driving down the road with no loan payments.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flashes of both kinds

All of a sudden my body has decided to treat me to a new type of hot flashes. I'd kind of gotten used to (and found ways to work around) the random flashes that would start at my shoulders and speed up to my head. Now I'm getting core body hot flashes...totally different and they are making me keenly aware of how it might feel to spontaneously combust.

The first few days of this I thought I might just be coming down with some funky virus, but about the fifth day of these, one of my characters popped in and started laughing at me. Myrtle is a side character, she's Jess' mentor, and a woman of a "certain" age and is apparently very familiar with what I'm going through. (How should I know, it's not like I can sit and chat with her at length or anything!)

She told me I should look at how I can use my insight into an overheated body into helping Jess solve a death in her fourth book. So I started writing, and writing, and no I've done no editing. One thing my characters have taught me, it's to write what they tell me as soon as they tell me so I don't miss out on it and leave the editing until after I get it all down.  The fun part about that is I get to "hear" the story first and then fine tune it and really read the story during the editor.

In some ways I'm a "pantser" writer, but not today. Today is a hot flash day, the pants are off, and the shirt may be soon to follow if things don't cool down. Luckily, I'm home so I can actually strip down if need be, I can't do that at work-work.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Research - where to keep it all?

I'm looking for a means to put all my research in an easy place to find it. I could put it in a database I supposed, but I need something a bit more simple than that as much of what I need is written. Historical documents that I need an entire copy of, not bits and pieces.

My best bet at this point is to stuff it all here on Blogspot and tag everything, I just hope the blog doesn't get too busy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kindle vs. Nook or Amazon vs. B&N

Okay, so those that know me well, know I prefer B&N over Amazon any day. The few items I've purchased from Amazon have all been via gift certificates that I've won somehow. B&N however gets a lot more of my money because there is a brick-and-mortar store in my town that I prefer to support, along with the few local book sellers left.

I've been in a discussion with B&N for a few days now. I'd emailed them to let them know that they'd be losing an eReader sale based solely on their account setup practice. In return I've had multiple emails, all from various customer service folks with Anglicized (did I spell that right?) names, all of which have more horrid grammar than I do.  All sent back the same boilerplate response of "we're sorry for any inconvenience. We require a credit card for blah, blah, blah..." no actual response to the fact that they're losing a sale. I finally sent an email saying, you should forward my comments to upper management and have them get back to me. I no longer need your customer support folks.

Really folks, if you can't get a simple email comment right, how can I expect you to survive you own ignorant business practices? I understand the reasoning for requiring a credit card, I really do. After all you had a logical argument about protecting the rights of the authors and publishing companies to make sure they get paid. I'm all for that.

But really? A credit card is a "must-have" to setup an account? What about folks who no longer have credit cards, or parents setting up their kids an account that theydon't want running amok with a credit card? There's really no effective way of controlling that. I'm an IT geek, I can spot the holes a mile away, even through the poor English. Never mind that Amazon is a HUGE hacking target and that B&N has already had at least one incident of their accounts being hacked.

So, what all this ranting comes down this: I bought a Kindle over a Nook because Amazon will let me setup an account without a credit card. And no, the Kindle is not for me.

It's my Dad's birthday (okay, father-in-law, but he's the only Dad I have left) and my DH and I were trying to figure out what to get him. He's getting older and an eReader that he can change font sizes on would be fun for him. Major stumbling block: they live in an area of our state that only has dial-up available to them. (For you kids out there, dial-up means you have to have an old noisy modem that makes the sounds that are at the beginning of "You've Got Mail").

Why is dial-up a stumbling block? Well, Kindles require a wireless connection to get registered, which we have but they obviously don't. Yes, a wireless connection is required to activate your Kindle. Since we wanted this to be a surprise, we setup a gmail account for him and then setup an Amazon account, preloaded it with a gift card and he's good to go. 

That would not have been possible with a Nook as B&N requires a credit card just to setup an account, and I refuse to have my credit cards on B&N's site because of an old policy of theirs that kept your CC info in their database indefinitely.

I doubt I'll get an eReader for myself any time soon. Not that they aren't handy devices to have, but for me it seems rather redundant. (I was going to say for "folks in IT" but then I remembered my sister has a Nook, so it kind of depends on what part of IT you work in.) For me, it's definitely overkill considering the number of portable devices already on hand that have a Nook or Kindle app already available. I don't need yet another device to try to get through the overzealous TSA folks.

My recommendation; get a Kindle if you must have "just" an eReader. Otherwise, get your favorite device - smartphone, tablet, netbook, laptop, notebook, desktop - and download the free readers. Now, if Kindle was only available for Linux distributions, THEN I'd be totally pro-Amazon.

(Wonder if Amazon will ever read this post and think about making one for Linux distros?)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Contests and Feedback

I've been busy working on edits for my first book submission to my first contest. I'm so excited to have it in a contest where I will actually get some feedback. It really doesn't matter to me if it's positive or negative feedback, I'm just happy to get anything back on it.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong or right with my writing. My education trained me for writing computer code and business documents, not fictional mysteries, so I'm a total newbie at writing with a goal of being published.

The Christmas challenge piece that I posted here has also been submitted to a local magazine as well. Not sure if I will hear anything back from them, but it's in at least.

And finally, Chicken Soup for the Soul is taking stories for writers. I'm considering submitting something for this as well. I heard about this one from one of my writer's group friends and haven't read all of the rules yet, but apparently unpublished writers can get in on this one.

Now I hope to get blogging more often again, but I'm not making any promises beyond "I'll try".

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award

Had anyone bothered to ask me four or five years ago if I'd ever write a book, let alone a work of fiction, I would've told them they were nuts. It was never my dream to be a writer and it would never have dawned on me that I'd ever write a novel or even a blog. Then Jess popped up and I wrote my first draft of my first book in less than a month. 

After submitting the first book to a few agents, I realized I would need more help if I were to ever get this thing published so I checked out a few local groups. They didn't like Jess, because she swears, and the first book is a bit dark in spots. (How can you not get dark when writing about a dead child?)
I then found Grand Rapids Region Writers Group and emailed then-president Cheryl Sterling about whether or not I might fit in their group, given Jess' penchant for swearing like a drunken sailor and having a BFF that is a Drag Queen Diva. The very first meeting I knew I found a new home.

Fast forward a year, and here I find myself the recipient of the Liebster Blog award courtesy of Patricia Kiyono, a fellow author/crafter/seamstress/procrastinator (I especially love that last one). Patricia Kiyono has fun blog Creative Hodgepodge – complete with cute grandbaby pictures - and is the author of three current titles at Astrea Press: Aegean Intrigue, A Chrismas Phoenix, and The Legacy. You can check them out at her site or purchase them directly from Astrea Press.

The Liebster Blog award is supposed to be given to "up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers". Thank you Patricia for granting me this honor! And now it's my turn to pass it on.

All that's required to accept this award is:
1. Thank the person who gave it to them and link back to that person's blog.
2. Copy and paste the award to your blog. (It's up at the top!)
3. Choose 5 blogs to award in kind and break the news by commenting on those blogs.
4. Hope those people pay it forward in turn by accepting and awarding "The Liebster Blog Award" to blogs they'd like to honor.

I'm choosing these five bloggers:

Erica Clodig at The Pen is Mighter than the Darkness. Erica is the one who introduced me to NaNoWriMo, where Collie was “born” and has an amazing number of books in progress and who, like me, is not yet published. She inspired me to keep working on my writing and gave me my first introduction into the writing world.

Jennifer Armintrout at Sweaters For Days And Moves Like Jagger . Jennifer is the USA Today best-selling author of several paranormal romance novels and makes me laugh often. She's also the one to get me into my first real critique meeting which has been hugely beneficial and loaded with lots of much needed advice and suggestions for improvements.

Mia Watts at The Art of Seduction is Watts Beneath the Covers. Mia is one of the writer's I connected with at the first meeting and assured me that Jess' swearing really isn't an issue. She also is a prolific romance author who appears to have book releases every week!

Tanya Eby at Tanya is my mentor and writes fun, quirky characters that I can totally relate to. She has an amazing sense of humor and continues to keep my faith up by allowing me to see her own struggles with getting books published.

Andrea Dickinson at Diary of a Romance Writer.  Andrea writes some amazingly hot, quick romance reads and has a similar appreciation of the LGBT community. She also makes me laugh often and I could easily spend a day having fun with her and feel like we'd barely gotten started.

So those are my 5 nominees, now to finish up the comment/contact instructions!

You know, for being currently unemployed I seem to have tons of work to do.

I got paid to write!

One of my favorite global software companies contacted me to see if I would like some contract work during my current unexpected unemployment. (No worries, I had an offer just 3 days after being released from the last job).

I just wonder if being contracted to work on some ROI and Cost Benefit Analysis documentation is truly considered writing in a freelance sense. The really cool part, is they like what I've done already and asked me to help with another piece of collateral material that is needed. It's certainly been a fun, geeky project for me to work on.

The bad part: Jess and company are still waiting in the wings - impatiently - for me to work on their stories. Hopefully I'll get some downtime this weekend...although I do have some studying to do for the new gig.

It's kind of nice to be busy, and wanted, again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ah, at last!

I have a break. An unplanned one that started out a little stressed, but is wrapping up fairly quickly. The nice thing is I will have time to sit and write for a long stretch at last.

Paul has been bugging me to hurry up and finish up the second book in the Jess Barker series, so I can get on to "his" book in the series. Jess, in the meantime, has been harrassing me to hurry up and finish edits on the first book and hit up more agents.

The Scot is patiently waiting in the wings, while I do more research. Merie has been unusually quiet, while Collie has been chattering like crazy of late. I think it has something to do with the weather as she's not happy about the weird weather pattern we've been having. I, however, have been loving it!

Jess and Paul will be appeased. There is a competition coming up that I think fits Jess pretty well. I'll be checking into that tomorrow and see if it's a good fit for Jess' book or not. I'm crossing my fingers that it is.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I was flipping through a slew of Writer's Digest emails that I hadn't caught up on, and realized the my knowledge of the written word is sorely lacking. Which made me feel overwhelmed and a bit like a fraud.

Who am I to think I could possibly be a published author? A writer, sure maybe, just for myself and to get it out of my head, but do I really have what it takes to be an author. I simply do not know.

I know nothing about formal plots and many of the writing terms are alien to me. Like what is a "leitmotif" and a "formula plot"? Most likely I have that same dazed look my clients get when I talk about LUNs, SANs, and SSL certs.

The last class I took in creative writing was most likely early on in high school, may ninth or tenth grade. I certainly didn't take any in college. I was concentrated on doing the bare minimum on my breadth courses and far more concentrated on the core courses required for my major. English, not being my strongest subject, was at the bottom of my list.

I can only take comfort in knowing that MaryJanice Davidson has several successful series of books, is a New York Times Best-selling author, and assured me that a college degree in English or Literature wasn't a requirement to getting published.

Yes, I will admit it. I'm a bit of an MJD stalker. I hope she doesn't mind too much, but she does give me hope that maybe, someday, even if it's self-published, I'll have a polished book for sale out there somewhere.

Even if I don't know what a leitmotif is.

Friday, January 20, 2012

An Interview with Jess

I was debating about whether or not to post the first chapter of some of my books on my blog. So, as usual, I went to my writer's group – Grand Rapids Region Writers Group – with the question. There was some difference of opinion, but Simone Anderson answered the question I hadn't asked.

So, I'm not posting chapters here. Why? Because it is possible that a publisher may consider the work “published” and may not pick it up. Since I haven't decided if I'm going to self-publish yet (I'm still trying the traditional route of finding an agent) I decided to heed Simone's advice.

Her advice included the idea of posting interviews with (or of) my characters. Or at least that's how Jess has interpreted it and she hasn't shut up about being interviewed ever since. To ease my aching head and shut Jess up for awhile, I agreed to interview her.

So, with no further ado, here's my first ever interview with Jess Barker from the Jess Barker Mystery series. Hopefully it's not too silly and you may get a good giggle. And I've warned Jess that if she swears there will be a [bleep] posted as I'm trying to keep this blog somewhat G-rated.

JC:     Welcome Jess! So, how about telling everyone what's it's like to be you?

Jess:   What it's like to be me? How the [bleep] do you think it feels to be followed around by a bunch of dead people that won't leave you alone? It's kind of like being Tori Spelling when she's pregnant and the paparazzi are following her non-stop. Only no one can see my 'paparazzi' because they're frickin' dead and mine have the added "'bonus" of being able to follow me into the bathroom stall.

JC:      Ooookay....uhm, I did warn you I'd have to verbally “bleep” you, remember?

Jess:    Oh, so now you're going to play like you're a saint? You know your mouth is as bad as mine.

JC:      (I'm trying hard not to chuckle here) No, I'm not playing the saint here. Everyone who knows me, knows I can swear with the best of 'em.

Jess:   Fine. (she's pouting)

JC:     Wanna tell them anything else?

Jess:   Nope.

JC:     Sure?

Jess:   Positive. You're not doing this way I wanted you to, ya know. (she's still pouting)

Jess:   Quit being a [bleep] and telling them everything I'm doing or I'm walking sister!

JC:     All right, all right! Geez, you're grouchy tonight. What's wrong?

Jess:   I'm tired! My horrible boss made us all work overtime, and my dead groupies whined all night at me about paying attention to them so I haven't slept in over 24 hours.

JC:    Sorry. I know how grouchy they can make you. How about we talk about your work instead?

Jess:   'K. My actual work is pretty boring. The bad part is I work in a hospital so I'm always on alert to ignore the dead running around there. It's a bit tough because my two best girlfriend's work there too, and they don’t know about my stupid cursed gift.

JC:    So, from your point of view, interacting with the dead the way you do is a curse?

Jess:  Yes. A curse. Definitely.

JC:     Is there anything about work you do like?

Jess:   The good thing about work is that Maggie works with me and we get to see Cora fairly often. On occasion, I even get a long enough break to meet Paul for lunch.

JC:     Why don't you tell everyone about those three?.

Jess:   Well, Paul and I met in college. He's like my brother and sister all rolled into one. He's been my BFF since the first day we met. I mean, who doesn't love a good Drag Queen? Maggie is a genuine sweetheart, gorgeous inside and out and she always knows when I'm arriving at work, it's a bit unsettling. And Cora, well, she's feisty, a fighter, and a bit of a cougar. She's always got an eye on some cute young guy.

Cora:   Now wait just a minute! I am NOT a cougar.

JC:      Well, hello Cora, Maggie, Paul. Nice of you to join us. Is this the way it's always going to be? I try to interview Jess and you three jump on in?

Paul:    Oh, quit it. You love us all and you know it. (Paul grins as he plants kisses on our cheeks)

Maggie:  Hi, JC! You know perfectly well that wherever Jess is we're not too far behind. Someone's gotta keep her on the sober train.

Cora:   Seriously! I'm not a cougar. I'm forty, fit, and fabulous. What man in his right mind wouldn't want me?

Paul:   Well, me doll. You're just not my type. You know you don't have the 'right parts' for me. (Cora sticks her tongue out at him making him laugh)

JC:      Enough you two. C'mon you guys. I'm trying to interview Jess and it's becoming a three-ring circus (like usual) in here!

Maggie:   We're sorry. What else did you want to know?

Jess:     Aw, [bleep]! Give it up JC. We're done here. Let's take this circus on the road and go get something to eat. I'm starving and want something chocolate!

JC:       Fine. But I get dibs on the hot fudge!

Sorry folks, this is what goes on in my head on a routine basis. Welcome to my world!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Business Book

A friend of mine just released his first book today. Self published on, he's working on getting it into Kindle and Nook formats.

Here's the blurb on it:

This book is a collection of 9 BlissPoints. They are unique marketing concepts that the author has developed over the past 22 years of marketing for Hi-Tech Start-ups and Fortune 500 organizations. These BlissPoints have enable him to see things differently, no matter the situation. They are examples where he has stolen the show and literally moved the spotlight away from the traditional and focused it on the unusual or the unique. Each point is a different area where he has found success by emotionally connecting to his audience and by doing things a little differently. The author believes in going against traditional thinking and exploiting things that others have missed. So, here's his challenge to you: "Look for the value and overcome the fears that keep you from stepping out on stage, whatever that stage may be. Go ahead! Steal the show." 

He's always had GREAT ideas for IT companies, so I thought I'd share. There may be something in there for authors too.  I can tell you, he has a loyal fan base from the various IT camps and we love him enough to follow him into his new career of writing about business.

Just thought I'd share.
Stealing The Show

Monday, January 16, 2012

Musing on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(I liked this one enough I decided to post it here as well as the GRRWG blog).

I didn't realize that my day to blog would fall on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Perhaps that's because I haven't gotten this particular holiday off in over a dozen years. (Which isn't all that big of a surprise, after all my job is in IT and we typically do our biggest work on days when no one else is working.)

So, I started looking at some of his quotes. Everyone knows this one and it remains my absolute favorite:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was young enough when he was killed to not really get the importance of his death. Kids tend to be too self-absorbed to get some of the bigger events in their life. At the time I was more concerned about my math homework and recess than anything else. It wasn't until later on that I figured out how important he was.

This quote always gets me thinking about doors opening and paths not taken:

"All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are times when I'm involved in various groups that I wonder if Dr. King truly understood what he started for the rest of us. The Stonewall Riots came just a year later, helping bring the homosexual community together to take on the oppressive laws throughout the US (of which many are still on the books to my great dismay). Just two years later the first Gay Pride marches were held in LA, Chicago, and New York.

I believe our lawmakers have tried to make laws that will protect us all from discrimination, I'm just not sure they work well. Perhaps that's because some lawyers want to interpret the intent of the law, while others look for loopholes. Why don't we try simpler language? For instance: "A company is to interview all skillfully qualified candidates." (Already the lawyer in my head has a dozen questions). Can't we just use common sense?

The year that Dr. King died, women were given protections from sex discrimination by an Executive Order, and affirmative action plans were required for hiring women. A year later, my home state of California, adopted the "No Fault" divorce law, allowing divorces by mutal consent. In contradiction, men still had legal control of whether or not their wives worked and where they would live - in California of all places! Luckily that law has since been axed.  This was the year I started paying attention to women's rights as I had one grandfather who constantly told me what professions were "appropriate" for girls, of which a Veterinarian was not one, and another one who told me girls could be anything we wanted to and that my chavenistic grandfather was full of it.

"Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
Martin Luther King, Jr. "

This quote always brings to mind several friends who are talented, outspoken people, many of who are Gay. While minorites and women have come a long way, the Gay community as a whole hasn't seen as much progress. And the sad part is, they've been there for the rest of us all along. It is fairly well understood that making progress for one oppressed group helps bring the other groups forward as well. I was quoted over the summer as saying something along the lines of "It is now our time to stand up for the LGBT community, as they were there for women in the 70's". I do feel responsibility to be an ally and to help move understanding of this community forward. And it makes me incredibly happy to see the current generation being more tolerant in general when it comes to orientation, skin color and gender.

However, I don't think we are quite at the point where people are judged for the content of their character. We seem to be sliding backwards on that one. Perhaps technology is to blame for as we put more and more focus on what people look like (regardless of skin color) and less on who they are. Televeision, YouTube, and the anonymity of the internet, have made instant judgements incredibly easy, without forcing people to take the time to truly think things through.  Bullying has skyrocketed and too many teens and young adults are committing suicide over violent vitriolic posts on social media sites.

Still, on this particular holiday I have great hope that someday Dr. King may be able to look down and smile upon a nation that finally accepts people as they are and for who they are. Even though we may be taking a few steps back, we are still miles down the road from where Dr. King started.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

BioWare's Star Wars game

I work on tech all day, last thing I want to do at the end of the day is do more tech stuff. My poor, dear hubby asked me to learn how to play this new Star Wars game (think Star Wars meets World of Warcraft) over my Christmas vacation. I have yet to even setup an account.

Blogging after a day of techie stuff isn't so bad, it's quick enough and I can write in LibreOffice and do a cut-paste when I'm ready to put it up. Not quite the same as playing a game for hours or working on a web page, This Star Wars game eats up a ton of time, and based on what I've seen of the interface and how much he's on the keyboard, I'm still stalling learning it, even though I'd have my own personal tutor, I'm resisting learning something new.

I'm stalling on making a web site for myself as well. Tweaking code and designing pages after a day of troubleshooting broken tech isn't a passion of mine. So I'm always looking for help.If you have any comments on layout, colors, whatever, feel free to leave me a comment. I'm always working on my writing and blogs.

I'm also working on pulling excerpts from both the Jess Barker and Fey Life series to post. Problem is that Jess requires a bit of "editing" to make her language more family friendly.  Perhaps you'll laugh as I do at my characters from time to time.

Come on by this weekend, I'll hopefully have some more Jess stuff posted by then. Perhaps I'll add another page for excerpts and short stories.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Contest News!

An author from my writer's group is having a contest. If you like Paranormal Romance (or even if you don't), take a peek at her website. You can win a book or an Amazon gift card for simply answering a question.

Here's the link:
Sidney Ayers' Contest

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Characters Wreak Havoc - Again!

I'm SO glad to know that I'm not alone in having people in my head telling me their stories. But I often wonder if other writers have characters that make them laugh at inappropriate times and buy way too many of something.

For example, The Scot has me buying sewing machines like they're going out of style. I did manage to stop him after my last two acquistions: a gorgeous White treadle machine and an old Kenmore in amazing shape. But now I have to work on getting some of these machines out of my house, and try to get back at least what they cost me to begin with.  I am learning quite a bit about their mechanics though, and how to fix them, so there is a positive side to his "influence.  I mean really, how many of these can you keep around?

Jess had me laughing all morning with comments like: "Just because you're dead doesn't mean you can't be a complete asshat!" and "You're dead. I'm alive. Get over it and let me get some damn sleep!".  And the one that made me really snort today: "Honey, your boobs are all crooked, here let me fix 'em." (She was helping Jolita into a new costume).

Since I've been sick and on cold meds, when I laugh my co-workers stare at me strangely and ask if I'm okay.  What makes it funnier to me is her thick Texas drawl and the way some of her dead groupies whine at her.  Visuals of Jolita in a bad costume don't help any either, especially given that she looks a lot like the ever-gorgeous RuPaul.

Then there's Merie. She gives me images of God (who's a woman by the way) grabbing Satan by his blond curly locks, looking into his baby blue eyes and shaking him like a ragdoll while she chastises him for something evil he had his minions do. Again. And she has a habit of doing so at the most inappropriate times, like when I'm in the middle of some really difficult tech problem or on the phone with a customer or in a meeting with the owners of the company.

And finally, there's Collie. My fey-hybrid who's basically a  supermodel and an environmentalist - of which I am most definitely neither! She rants at me for throwing something out that she feels should be recycled. Actually, she's kind of annoying, but I adore Bambi, her vegan fey-hybrid servant who chastises Collie as much as Collie chastises me.

On the other hand, Collie does give me some really fun craft ideas. She's behind some of my latest additions to my fabric stash, and encourages me in trying new shopping bag designs to put on my etsy shop ( Bambi gave me the idea of modifying some apron designs that are really cute, but that makes my fabric stash grow even more.

I wonder if the IRS would understand writing off a fabric stash as a "mental health" issue?