Sunday, December 28, 2014

Future Writer's Running Amok

There was grand battle in my living room this past Friday that rolled over into Saturday morning. It was EPIC - in every sense of the word. I had such fun watching and listening to it all.

At play, running throughout my entire main floor, were a 7-year old girl and an 8-year old boy (one borrowed from a friend, the other from next door). They are new friends and fast friends. Two very smart young minds with energy and rapidly switching priorities that somehow manage to keep up with each other.

I listened and watched raptly as they choreographed and narrated the battle on the fly. Pantser, the both of them. I can imagine great D&D games in their future. It would not surprise me one bit if one, or both of them, become writers in the future. This is the most imaginative play I have seen since my siblings and I were kids.

My nephews didn't play like this, they're more rough and tumble, sports-oriented boys. Although when they weren't playing they could be found glued to some electronic device like so many of today's younger generations.

My Little Ponies were at the core of this epic battle, along with Equestrianas (I sure hope I got that straight), there were hidden relationships - "Rarity, I am your Mother!", "Pinkie, I adopted you after having Rarity" worthy of Star Wars and Shakespeare's tragedies.

At risk were the ponies lives and homeland, requiring some of the ponies to travel thru time, going back through the Roman Empire, glancing in on a gladiator fight, back to Ancient Eygpt, were a special magically amulet would bring an assassinated pony back to life (only to find out the resurrected pony's arch enemy was none other than it's birth mother). Lives were lost, resurrected and lost again. Unicorns were sacrificed to save ponies, and many wardrobe changes for the Equestiranas were needed.

During a lull in the battle, a game of Disney Trivia was started up and during another lull Battleship was broken out (the manual kind, not electronic). Rules were modified to make them "speed' games, which was just as fun to watch as the entire battle.

I'm looking forward to the next epic battle they chose to start up. What will they think up next?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mad Hatter Haunted Tea Party

A friend of mine posted this question on Facebook today:

If the Mad Hatter was throwing a Haunted Tea Party for his daughter what would it look like?
 An image immediately popped into my head and I knew there was no way I could describe it in the mere space of a Facebook comment. If I had my aunt's artistic talents I would have immediately drawn it up, but alas, I don't have those skills.

So what would a Haunted Tea Party, thrown by the Mad Hatter, for his daughter look like?

First, my version of the Mad Hatter looks very much like Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. The large eyes, crazed with the agony the Red Queen put him through. His hair is more a silvery grey though, his over-sized top hat a battered crushed velvet in deep purple. The velvet is worn in places and he has a piece of tattered, yellowed lace as a hat band. His coat used to be a bright Kelly green, but it has faded with time, the elbows are worn through, the collar and hemmed edges are raveling a bit. His pants are also tattered, black, a bit too short, and shiny with wear. His shoes are over-sized wing tips, one is black, the other brown. His nails are bitten down and there is dirt until the very short nails. He has a threaded needle holding a dead rose boutonniere  on his lapel. His grin is rather schizophrenic, with crooked yellow teeth. But he is happy, after all his daughter is alive!

Next, there's the white rabbit. His fur has dirty spots, one of his ears hangs down while the other is straight up through his top hat. The hat is a glossy black, while his vest is a deep forest green with black embroidery used to depict a scary forest scene of dead trees with reaching, leafless limbs. His pocket watch is tucked safely in a small pocket on the vest, the watch fob is a tarnished gold that attaches to his paw. His eyes occasionally go in different directions as he laughs in a psychotic fashion.

The door mouse is simply adorable, with the plain brown fur of a field mouse. His hat is a teapot lid, his only clothing a black lacy tutu. He holds the teeniest tea cup I've ever seen in his paw. It's chipped on one side, covered in an intricate, yet tiny depiction of lilacs. The saucer is a mismatch, bright red with cobwebs hanging from one side.

Tea is set on a large, uneven, wooden table. Large black spiders are at the corner of every table leg (there are six), most are working on their webs or winding up their prey. The largest is sitting in the middle of her web watching the going-ons. Treats are scattered about on plate stands holding anywhere from three to eight plates. Tiny sandwiches are scattered across those plates, some showing definite signs of mold, some with ants and cockroaches crawling over them, others draped in cobwebs.

Additional treats include cupcakes topped with crunchy crickets and spiders, candies in bright primary colors are scattered across the table top, all guarded by an army of somewhat friendly scorpions. A variety of teapots, many being held to the table by yet more cobwebs, are all filled with varieties of tea. Some have tea bag tags hanging out the side, others have metal chains showing from the diffusers hidden inside them.

I am fascinated with the teapots. Each has it's own pattern. A yellow one has depictions of the Red Queen playing croquet with a flamingo, beheading a peasant, and petting the Jabberwocky. A beautiful silver one has airy pictures of the White Queen working on various potions and healing an injured citizen. A blood red teapot has dancing skeletons across the entire body of the pot. An ivory colored teapot shows pictures of a little girl, her chest pierced by a sword, blood dripping down her white lace dress. On the opposite side is the same girl, sword in hand, piercing the Jabberwocky's chest with a triumphant smile on her face. Tea cups are scattered about, none with matching saucers, all showing signs of wear and damage, most are covered in flowers, one is covered in spiders.

Trees ring the entire scene, their leaves are either gone or shades of red and orange. The sky is a gloomy grey, bits of grass stick up between the leaves on the ground. A light breeze makes the air feel more chilly than it is. A few of the trees have bits of fabric blowing from their branches, as if they were banners announcing some big event.

A sweet, heart shaped faced, young girl sits at the head of the table. The adorable door mouse is to her left, the White Rabbit to her right. The Mad Hatter is at the other end of the table, smiling broadly as he sings an unrecognizable song. She smiles and the scene is less gloomy. Sun seems to peek through the clouds. Her dress is a bright red lace overlay, a black shift underneath. The blood red sash at her waist is tied in large bow on her back.

Her honey colored locks lift lightly in the breeze. She has a very pale face, tinged with grey and with large inset deep green eyes. She has smudges of dirt on her cheeks, her hands are clean, but her fingernails are still dirty as if she just dug herself out of the grave. Scuffed Mary Janes are on her feet, her anklets are mismatched, one black with black lacing edging the top, the other a dirty white with red lace on top. She swings her legs casually underneath her too-tall chair as she hums along with her daddy's uneven song, clearly enjoying herself.

In the clearing Alice appears, Cheshire cat in tow. They wave hello to the odd conflagration at the table. Smoke from the catepillar's hookah pipe swirls up among the tree branches. Just another Halloween in Wonderland.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Drop heard around the World



I am admittedly not an Apple Fangirl/Fanboi/Fanatic. Decades ago I applauded Apple for daring to challenge IBM in the realm of personal computing, that has changed since Apple has stayed with a proprietary hardware platform.

That said, I still had to laughingly groan with the unlucky soul in Perth, Australia, who - in his eagerness to show off his "score" - dropped his just acquired iPhone while trying to show it off to the media. He hadn't even taken the plastic off the face of it yet. A worldwide groan went up from the Apple fan base over that one.

Still...it's a PHONE. It's not a God, demi-God, shapeshifter,  or answer to all your prayers. I will never understand waiting in line for days to get a phone that will be outdated in a year or less (actually, it's already outdated, Samsung, HTC and LG beat Apple to the size boost, chip speed, and display quality at least 2 years ago). 

There isn't any technology, game, or other item that will convince me to give up my comfy bed to stand in a line to obtain it. I prefer to think I'm "too sane" to do that, but really, it's because I work in tech all day and don't want to deal with it when I'm home. Unless I'm writing, or killing alien creatures on alien worlds with really cool alien weaponry.

Now, if the next iPhone comes with a cool shapeshifting feature where it can become a cup of coffee, a handgun, a baseball bat, or a studly baseball team sans shirts then maybe, just maybe I'll get one. In the meantime, I'll get the least expensive smart phone that I can find and ignore the fan-person zealotry.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Found It!

For some time I've been testing out handguns and borrowing a idea from Laurell K. Hamilton (of Anita Blake fame) and carrying a few different handguns around to see how they feel and fit in my hand. All of this has been done for several of the characters in the Jess Barker Mystery series I'm trying to finish up and get out there.

I started with the idea that Jess would need to carry something for her own protection, but learned that due to regulations in Texas she most likely would be denied a license. She ends up with something else to protect herself with, but I don't want to spoil the fun. Cora (aka Molly - I'm still vacillating on changing her name) and Maggie will both end up carrying a gun, but in different books. I'm still not sure what model is right for each of them.

Then there's Matt. Matt, is a friend of Jess's and has a large presence in all of the books I have mapped out so far. Matt is a large guy and can hold his own in a fight. He's also the most likely to carry on a regular basis given his job. But, I hadn't been actively searching out his gun. Until last night.

What was special about last night? Well, my favorite shooting range and training center was having a big sale. I was checking out several guns, one of which is a great carry option for the girls, but too small for Matt. There was a Stage Coach rifle that I really wanted to get my hands on for myself. It's nice, but I need more training on long guns before I decide to spend that much money. Plus, I haven't received an invite to go hunting with anyone this year, so I don't really need it. Even if it is really pretty.

As usual I was drawn to the Smith & Wesson and Ruger cases. They fit my hands the best and Jess and Maggie have assured me that if a gun fits my hand, it will fit for them. Nothing really grabbed my eye in the Ruger case but I saw a large .45 in the S&W case that caught my attention.  Way too large for my hands, but a nice size for a big guy.

And then I saw it.

A twinkle at the corner of my caught my attention. I swear the gun really did "twinkle" at me. The second I saw it I had to hold it. It felt right in my hand and I knew right then and there that this was going to be Matt's concealed gun. He'll get the big gun too for work, but this little gem will be stuffed in one of his boots on a regular basis.

Want to see it?  Here's a picture I lifted from the Smith & Wesson page:
I really, really like it's weight and how it felt in my hand...as it if simply belonged there. It's really well balanced and small enough to not be annoying in a holster; it also fits easily in a purse. That's something I don't hear people talking about a lot when it comes to concealed carry. What it's really like to wear a holstered gun isn't discussed much.

Here's a tip - if you're a chunky, cranky old broad like me, having a holster on the inside of your pants can be very uncomfortable, regardless of what's in the holster. It'll poke you in the side, assuming you can get it inside your waistband, and drag your light weight pants down. Good, solid belts are a must with a holster. It's more comfortable to have it shifted around toward your back, and Matt assures me that when he carries it that way he doesn't notice it much. (How he knows without me actually walking around with it I'm not certain).

Chances are it won't fit well on your thigh either - assuming you can find a holster big enough - and down at your ankle isn't all that ideal. (For one thing it may slip down and rest oddly on the top of your foot). That being said, if you are in amazing shape like one of my favorite instructors, a gun on your thigh is amazingly easy to hide.

A shoulder holster may be a better option, but I'm still holding out hope that the Double Diva's girls will make a trip to my town and I can get them to make me a custom bra to hide a gun in. They've done it once already for a buxom police officer, maybe they can figure one out for me.

Yesterday I saw an awesome concealed carry corset. A CORSET! And with two pockets no less. What an awesome idea...it will work great for Maggie as she's the perfect build for it. The demo video showed a young lady in great shape carrying two guns, one on each side of the corset. I admire her, I would love to be that coordinated to be able to handle two guns at once.

So, I finally found at least one fit. Now to narrow it down for the girls. Maggie really liked a little red .380 Ruger, Cora was leaning toward a purple one. I'll have to rent those along with Matt's guns to get a good idea of the kick so I can accurately describe the feel of shooting them should they ever need to. At this point in the story lines the only shooting that is done is for practice and only paper zombie targets have been harmed.


In case you're curious, you can find the info on this particular handgun at Smith & Wesson's website: S&W 1911 Pro Series - Matt's carry gun

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's Never Done Is It?

I'm beginning to think that a book is never truly done. As evidenced by my current re-working of a cookbook. I had it all self-pubbed, thought it was all wrapped up until I looked at the paperback copy one more time and realized there was a mistake - a big one - with the table of contents.

I hadn't caught it in previous reviews, why I have no idea. I know what I meant for it to have and for some reason read it that way. Lucky, only a few of these got out into the general public.

Here's the good news: I figured out the formatting on my own and due to the kindness of one of my photographers, I'll be getting another section picture to add to the book.

Still reformatting and repaging the file, which takes time. But I'm on vacation...so far I've been cleaning the house in between working on this book. I want it done, like now, because I really, really want to get back to the Jess Barker series. New ideas have popped up over the past few days, all to be fed into the second thru fifth books in the series.

I really need to win a lotto so I can retire from my full time gig and just get to play with my characters and books.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Interesting Question on Ferguson Protests

My friend Jenny Trout from GRRWG posed an interesting question on Facebook regarding Ferguson and it had nothing to do with race. I had a fairly quick response, but have been thinking about it, so here's my longer answer to her question.

First, what Jenny asked was along the lines of Second Amendment supporters always bring up the point that we need to continue to hold onto our rights in order to fight against our government if it becomes too militarized.  So why weren't they in Ferguson helping fight against the police? That's a paraphrase, and I may have paraphrased her incorrectly, but that's the jist I got, and that's what I'm responding to.

I think there are several reasons there wasn't a "Second Amendment" response to the unrest in Ferguson. One, it was an "isolated" response. Similar events seem to happen in Los Angeles on a frequent basis and ever since Rodney King the community tends to protest more peacefully, rather than ransack their own neighborhoods. In fact, there was a protest in Los Angeles while Ferguson was in an uproar. Unfortunately, the LA protest was overlooked by the media, even though it involved another unarmed, young black male. I don't remember if the race of the officer was called out in the blurb I'd run across about it, but for those that don't know California has been having issues with the police departments in several large cities, but we aren't seeing the rioting and looting we used to.

Second, the vast majority of conservative supporters of the Second Amendment were already aware of the militarized police presence. I've known about it for several years already, so it was no surprise to me that these tactics would be used by the local PD. My larger concern is whether or not the police in that small department had proper training on those tools and why the hell didn't the Governor get the National Guard down there right away? I think that a response from the National Guard would have had a better effect in calming things down, with less damage/harm/injury (take your pick) to the under-served black community there.

Third, by the time the media got the word out, most of the streets into Ferguson were already blocked. The few that may have already been there were probably standing with their neighbors to protect their businesses or families as the police had basically stopped responding to the looting due to being outnumbered.

Don't get me wrong, we need to take a close look at the Ferguson PD, how they've been treating the minorities (racial or economic) in town, and their use of military force - as we need to do across the country. I think it's wrong for local Police Departments to have this much force, that's what the National Guard is there for, and that's where the equipment should go.

I feel bad for the residents of Ferguson, there's a lot of damage to repair there and it's something I'm not really used to. Originating from the West Coast I hadn't been exposed to such blatant racism (on both sides) in many decades. It's really disheartening to see the country going backwards on this issue.

The worst part is that there will never be any real justice. The media has already tried and skewered the officer involved without knowing or presenting all the facts. Just as the video shown of the robbery that may or may not have started this all has put a stain on Michael Brown's legacy. A young man is dead before his life could begin and the officer involved cannot go back to a "normal" life.

We have forgotten an important fact: we are fortunate in America to be legally considered Innocent Until Proven Guilty. That goes both ways, for Michael Brown and for the officer involved. Our media seems to have convinced the vast majority that the media knows "everything", when in reality, our media no longer holds to the original ethics of journalism. It's all about what sells, damn the facts.

I pray that Michael Brown's family will find some peace and a way to allow their community to help them heal as the community heals.

There is one good thing that came of this though. If it weren't for Michael Brown, I don't believe that the militarization of our police force would have been so readily addressed or pointed out by our media. I only hope it brings about a positive change and raises the awareness of our representatives in Washington, DC who don't come home to see what's happening often enough.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

To Trust or Not Trust the Internet

Because I work in IT, I instinctively (and with good reason) do not trust references on the internet as 100% factual. This is due in large part to the fact that Wikipedia is so often used but it is not fact checked. Which led me to pulling out a volume from the encyclopedias I inherited from my grandparents.

These are not 1970's encyclopedias, which is why I decided to go with them. The volumed I pulled is from 1939, a much closer date to the subject I'm researching, so far better to being closer to the truth. But as I read the little article and it's note to check another topic, I did a bit more digging through the giant web of computer networks and will now need to locate a book from 1922. Sure, there's a reprint via Amazon, but I don't trust that to be correct, nor do I trust Google Books. A visit to University of Michigan may be in order, but I will call first.

The subject of my research is Margaret Sanger. She may play an integral role in my series The Scot, but I need to verify some information first. I know she was into Eugenics, but I'm unclear as to how much of it is true and if she really did agree with the Nazis and Hitler. I prefer to read her own words first before manking a final judgement.

In the meantime, here's the excerpt from my handy physical encyclopedia. Surprisingly, there are no page numbers in this book.

Source: Sanger, Margaret, (1939) in The Standard American Encyclopedia, Vol XI, REM-SIG.

Sanger, Margaret, an American advocate of birth control; born in 1882. Through her work as a nurse and social worker, she became convinced that large families with inadequate means of support offered one of the greatest problems of social progress. After studying with Havelock Ellis in London (1914-15), she became, in association with Dr. Marie Stopes, an active advocate of birth control. She founded the American Birth Control League in 1917 and opened its first clinic in Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1921. The establishment was closed by police order, and its founder was sentenced to prison for 30 days. The case was finally brought before the Court of Appeals, which ruled that it was legal for physicians to give contraceptive information to protect the health of clients. In 1923, Mrs. Sanger opened the first permanent clinic in New York City. Many others soon sprang up all over the country. The International Union on Population was organized at a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1927. See EUGENICS, Birth Control.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dreaming of Cathy

Last night, I saw my sister. Some people may be thinking “So why is that special?”. Why was that special? Because my sister died on 11.12.13 from pancreatic cancer.

It is not unusual for me to see my relatives that have passed on, beginning with my great-grandmother who came to let me know she was leaving me the night she died. From time to time I will reach out across the ether and demand that my grandfather come to visit. I miss him most, plus he's got all my critters rounded up with him on the other side.

My grandmother finally came through several years after she passed, finally in a place she remembered, at my grandfather's orange grove. She was looking for Pop and still a tad confused, but she finally had realized she was dead. She was waiting there for him to come get her, and my dog Kodi was with her, keeping guard until Pop arrived. When Grandma died she was in the early to mid stages of Alzeheimer's. She had more good days than bad, but when she passed she was in an unfamiliar place and confused as to why she was there. It took her sometime to shake off that confusion.

Nearly a month to the day before seeing my sister, Grandma came to me again. She was young, looking like a picture that was taken when she was about 20 – she was gorgeous – and rolling around on my bed with our cat Phred. Grandma didn't tolerate animals in her house, she'd only liked one of my cats who was so smart she got Grandma to follow her to her food bowl and understand she needed food. Grandma fed her because she was so smart. Bomber, the cat, did the same thing to Pop less than an hour later and when Grandma learned of it she laughed at Bomber's brilliance. (No wonder the cat was fat.)

Grandma had come to tell me she'd found Pop and that Cathy was ok, not to worry. I asked her why she was playing with Phred since she didn't like animals. Grandma's response was “I don't have to clean up after them over here.” And she laughed. A wonderful laugh that we didn't hear often growing up, but I had heard after Pop had a massive heart attack and Grandma had slipped into an Alzheimer's fueled regression to their early courtship. I laughed with her as she gave Phred once last pat before popping back to Pop.

Seeing Cathy was more chaotic and a bit confusing. Cathy was in a house, somewhat similar to the first house she and Greg (my brother-in-law) had when they first moved in together. It wasn't decorated like Cathy would have, it was spare, a bit spartan in design and layout and felt very much like a rental house and not a true home. The walls were white, floors a light tan carpet, with boring linoleum in the ktichen and plain bathrooms. Not a lot of windows, but the light was good. There just wasn't much color and whenever I think of Cathy's homes they were always full of color, life and plants; this place had none of that.

Cathy was sitting down in a chair, her arms across her lower abdomen and rocking slowly forward, as if she was having bad cramps. She had a wound she wouldn't let me see, told me to not worry about it, and that I had to go by 6:00. It wasn't clear at the time, but I kept feeling as if she meant early evening, not morning.

She was working on cleaning the house and was repainting when I arrived. Cathy was putting the finishing touches on the place before she moved; she was prepping the house for the next people. It didn't surprise me at all that she looked like she did in college, not like she did the last time I'd seen her – well, except for the tan and lack of glasses. I picked up a roller to help her finish the bedroom walls she was working on. I heard the crackly of the plastic paint cloth beneath our feet as we worked and was a bit surprised at how fast we were done.

In a kitchen, I found my nieces and my sister-in-law. At least that's who I though they were. They had to make cupcakes for a bake sale and the girls were demanding that I make them my famous muffins because they “hadn't had them when they were alive”. That made me do a double take because I knew all three of them were alive and healthy. Confused I suggested we work on the cupcakes first. Sandy, my sister-in-law, insisted that I help with the cupcakes, but said making muffins would mean I'd have to wash more pans. Cathy interrupted to say I couldn't possible bake anything as I had to go by 6 and that would be too many pans for me to be washing in between to leave on time. The girls pouted,, and again I felt a tad confused as they didn't exactly look like my nieces, although they were clearly family. I never got to see Sandy's face, just the back of her head and I had simply assumed it was Sandy I was talking to as the voice was familiar.

I followed Cathy back to bedroom where there was now an adjustable bed, one where the foot and head of the bed could be moved. She sat in a chair next to the bed, her arms across her lower abdomen again and she bent forward as if she had really bad cramps. I could see blood coming from somewhere high up on her thigh and insisted on looking at it. She refused saying it would take me too long and mentioned again that I'd have to go by 6. I continued to insist and she finally let me look at it. But she controlled what I could see, so while I could see the deep wound I couldn't really tell where on her body it was. It was a bad cut, so I stitched it up (I was a vet tech in high school, I was taught to stitch beautifully.) By the time I was done stitching it up, it was well on it's way to being healed over.

My nephews and Greg stopped by, with the nephews arriving later in one group. Greg wanted me to fix an issue with their wireless network. Cathy insisted he not bother me, that I wasn't there to work and had to leave by 6. While I identified the male as Greg, again it didn't look exactly like him. The boys stopped in to ask me to cook for them since Cathy was dead and couldn't do it. Again Cathy told them to not ask me to work and that I had to leave at 6.

I was a bit surprised to hear her telling family to not make me work. That tends to be all I do when I visit family. And when I went to see her in May before she died, I baked and cooked every day I was there. She and I knew in May I would never see her alive again, even if she didn't want to openly admit it and I didn't want to say it because I know that the fight with cancer is 70% spirit and I didn't want her to lose the will to fight. Even if we didn't admit it, we knew.

After the boys left, Cathy told me to lay down on the bed because she knew my back was bothering me and it would make me feel better. (I slipped a disc and while I was visiting had to do exercises that looked funny to help slip it back in place after standing the wrong way.) Before I did though I insisted on checking her wound again to make sure she hadn't popped any stitches while she'd continued to putz around the house when the boys stopped by.

She showed me the wound again, which was now completely healed. I pulled the stitches out for her and she was all smiles and laughter. Making jokes about our work for the local vet (she passed out when watching a surgery, I got too involved in what he was doing). I finally climbed onto the bed and laid down on it. It was soft, comfy and my back felt the best it had in a few years. It was heaven and I wanted to stay there for awhile.

Cathy climbed in next to me and started playing with the controls, first putting the foot up at a comfortable level, then putting the head up a bit. She started moving the controls faster, making me laugh as my legs went straight up in the air, then she folded me in half like in old cartoons. We were laughing and playing around like we did when we were kids (and not annoying each other – for once). She finally turned me into a pretzel of sorts and reminded me again that I had to leave by 6. She straightened the bed up and gave me a hug, whispering goodbye.

That's when I woke up. Right at 6:00 a.m. I was surprised. It was the first time I'd seen her since she passed and none of my other visitors ever mentioned that I needed to leave by a certain time. She had visited a cousin, but none of our immediate family had seen her. I figured she had some things she was working on and wasn't strong enough or ready to visit me yet, but that she'd come when she was ready.

I called my mom to tell her I'd seen Cathy and let mom know she was ok and moving on. I mentioned that I never really got to see Sandy, I'd just assumed she was Sandy, and that the girls didn't really seem to be my nieces although they were clearly family. I told mom what the Big Guy told me when I told him about seeing Cathy, and the girls who may have been my nieces. He had suggested that they were babies Cathy had lost, which really makes more sense as the girls looked more like Cathy than our brother. It wasn't until after talking to my mom though that I realized the woman I thought was Sandy was probably my sister Christina. I never saw Christina, she only survived a few hours after being born early in a facility without the equipment needed to keep her weak lungs going. But it made sense, as Christina would have been just a few years older than brother.

And the man I thought was Greg could have actually been Greg's dad, Richard, who passed away a few years ago. Greg's had a lot of loss in his life, having also lost his first wife unexpectedly. He didn't deserve to lose my sister at the point in their lives when the kids were grown and it would've soon been just the two of them – for the first time.

Now that I have everyone from her visit sorted out, I'm looking forward to seeing them all again. Hopefully next time I see Cathyshe will be in her new place, hopefully with no more wounds. It must have been a wound I created, or one that was created by both of us that had to be healed by both of us before she could move on. Either way, she's moving on and will find all that have gone before her soon enough. I really hope she's moving into the house that I helped create for her that had the aquarium that went throughout the entire house. It really is a spectacular achievement, that is reminscient of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Pop put a lot of work into that place and Dearie (our great-grandmother) had left her a fresh loaf of homemade bread on the kitchen counter.

There's nothing better in this world, and the next, then coming home to freshly made bread, unless it's coming home to Dearie's homemade bread. I hope I get such a homecoming when it's my turn.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Switching Genres

I had a surprise last weekend. I learned that I may have a future in erotic romance. It was unplanned and completely caught me by surprise.

GRRWG has a Winter NaNo challenge. It's like our own mini-NaNo event that we use as a motivation to write as well as a fund raiser.  If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it's National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNo. Basically, you write a 50,000 word (or longer) novel. But it happens in November when most of our writer's are extremely busy. So we do it later, after the holidays.

Anyway, this year I entered, not sure what I was going to write, but used the results of an writing exercise we'd done for that month's meeting as a starting point. Set in Grand Rapids, Michigan (that was a surprise, I tend to write in the SouthWest and East Coast), it started out pretty straightforward as a story about a business consultant. I just let the character take me where she wanted to go, no plotting for me, I'm a total pantser.

Imagine my surprise when other characters popped in that are more like the characters that two of my fellow GRRWG writers, and dear friends tend to have. Pretty soon my straight-laced, independent, strong willed, smart business woman was losing her clothes and getting naked with not just her boyfriend, but her BFF as well. Pretty soon another male jumped and there were naked bodies and naughty characters everywhere.

This really caught me by surprise and I keep telling the Big Guy what my naughty characters were up to and wondering where they heck they came from. I don't normally read romance, unless it's the sarcastically funny and foul mouthed characters that come from MaryJanice Davidson (I simply ADORE Betsy!) or occassionaly something from a fellow GRRWG member, like Simone Anderson, Suzanne Graham, and Jenny Trout.

(Seriously, if you like romance or erotica check out our GRRWG members at grandrapidsregionwritersgroup.blogspot.com).

As a result, I simply don't have the vocabulary built up for all the necessary euphemisms (I mean really, how many times can you reuse the clinical terms for human genitalia without sounding like a medical textbook?) and was sure I was writing something as badly written as 50 Shades of Grey. Yes, I did try to read that book but couldn't get past the horrid writing of the first chapter. If you want kink, I can point you in the direction of better writers than that.

Certain that I had written the worst romance since 50 Shades, I had three people who read and write romance read a few scenes from the verbal vomit I had spewed into the electrons on my laptop's hard drive. I was shocked that not only did they like it, they assured me I wasn't as bad as 50 Shades.

I'm writing up the ending to the book (last I'd left them, all four were naked and doing naughty things on their friend's living room floor). Suzanne Graham is willing to read it, tell me if it is salvagable enough to publish, and - hopefully - co-author it with me since she has all the vocabulary to turn the story around. Only time will tell.

Still, color me surprised!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm Published!

Ok, so it's via Amazon, but I figured why try to find an agent or publisher (who won't be doing the marketing anyway), to publish my cookbook. I didn't have any aspirations for this book in terms of income rather than to try to recoup the money spent on the cover art.

I've learned a lot about self-publishing - or author published - in the past few months. First, it's far easier to publish an all text fictional piece of work than anything that requires tables or tabs. Second, that buying a batch of ISBNs is a really good idea if you have more than one book in you. And third, be prepared to argue with the counter person at your local printers about your copyrights and whether or not you have legal authority to print what YOU wrote. 

Luckily, I called first and avoided that print shop and found one that wouldn't give me any grief for the special edition copy I had made up for a local fund raiser. I will be back to have some more done if I decide to join in on a local book signing event.

And the final lesson - don't obsess too much over your sales numbers. Resist the urge to login and check every day to see how many copies have been ordered...it could depress you.

I'll post more later on how to handle tabs and tables for an eBook. I just wanted to get the word out that Meryr Mary's Marvelous Munchies is now available on Kindle.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Losses Keep Piling Up

Ok, I'm done with Death. Sick of Death, Tired of Death and so over Death. Too many losses lately.

My sister left this mortal coil on 11/12/13.  In December, almost on the same day, my mother-in-law passed away. An amazing woman full of grace and intelligence she will be missed, and not just by her children and grandchildren. She was an excellent hunter and fisherwoman, at ease with a rifle, fishing poles and camping gear.

Then my father-in-law passed in January. Making the end of the year and the start of the new year bookends. In a way he had planned his passing, by not taking his meds and eating as he should. Stubborn like his son, he went on his own terms. He will be missed too.

But I would seriously like a break for the rest of the year.