Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mapping an Entire Town

I seldom get this ambitious, but this story that wants to grow into a novel has been kicking around in my head for about a year now. I sat down and began sketching out the downtown area of the town of Rookdale. It was too big of an area for an approximately 6x9 page in the journal I am using to document names, places, noes, etc. (another thing I seldom do, but I started the novel and needed to refresh my memory, so took notes this time as there are a lot of characters in this one, and a lot of connections, enemies and allies among the people of this town where witchcraft still has a thrumming undercurrent.

I began drawing the map on a 9x12 Bristol board this morning between ten and noon. I had to go to work, so pulled the emerging map back out after dinner this evening and added a few more streets and locations, like two ponds, several farms and woodland. Also added a shingle where the locals hang out near the water and a boat launch area. There are old wharves at a stone and brick warehouse on the waterfront that is now a brew pub and restaurant. There's even a cliff walk park with a stone tower where a father threw his daughter off the cliff, and then her boyfriend mysteriously fell to his death (or was he pushed?)

I have farms, a dairy farm, a horse farm, and a supernatural area Rock Ring, sort of Stonehenge-esque and important as a place where rituals can be performed. The ponds are Crescent Pond and Smoke Pond, an Old Burying Ground reminiscent of the street my best friend grew up on that had arches at the entrance and led to a cemetery at the far end of the road. I always thought that was so creepy, to apparently live in a house inside the cemetery, but I think the cemetery was erected on property at the end of the street sometime after the houses were built, and then they added the arch way for Cedar Grove Cemetery at the entrance to the street...still creepy but we roller skated there just the same.

When the map was drawn I broke out the coloring pencils and began coloring it in. It came out very nicely (can be seen on my facebook page, the regular one, not the author page.

I showed it to Kelly and she was impressed. I showed it t John and he nodded, but I don't think he really understands the passion writer's have for creating a realistic setting for their novels- a place that the reader can travel to in their imagination and know their way around. It can be rather classic in form and content, so that maybe when a reader is passing through a real town or village one day something he sees- a monument, a white church beside a old graveyard, a stone wall with a dairy farm beyond, a corral, or a row of shops on a seaside street will evoke that town the writer created and populated with characters who seemed as real as living people. I want my readers to walk into an historical society building and think they will find Miss Argyle there ready to regale them with local history tidbits.

Sometimes it takes a village, sometimes it takes a town- sometimes it takes a writer with a burning passion willing to put in the time and effort to sit down and map out an entire town where her characters will live, interact, laugh, cry, fight a battle, lick their wounds, fall in love, raise their children, and pursue their dreams and destinies.

I'm willing to lay the groundwork upon which a novel will be based to make it as real as possible so that the reader feels as if they are staying at the Bed & Breakfast on the corner, or the Davies' purple and blue Guest House on Witch Lane.

Most of the time I draw a pen sketch to give me some landmarks...this time I went the whole nine yards. When I'm done, I'll fold the map and tuck it into the journal where the notes are written. I'll put the journal on the shelf beside the others I've done after the fact (for novels with sequels), and a red journal that is my Character Inspiration scrapbook, where I put all the pictures of people with interesting faces, striking color hair, hairstyles, and appearances. Some of them are by novel- like this is who I modeled Evangeline and Ardis on, this is Rex Royce and here is Lucie Palmer, this is Benjamin "Beans" Carter and Amanda Pennington,,,others remain unidentified, to be included in future novels.

I have only one other full color hand drawn map on a sheet of poster paper- the Italian island of Monte Fiore- a totally made up place with a ferry to the mainland somewhere near the boot heel (where my ancestors originated from).

Monday, August 29, 2016

An Excerpt from a Story that Went Nowhere but into the Recycle Bin

He walked away from her. She was like a black shadow flitting about him. He grew frustrated, shoved her so that she went sprawling backwards, skidding on the oak floor nearly fifteen feet before slamming against the wall. He stopped pacing. She leapt up, came striding toward him, raising her hand as if to slap his face. He raised his hand to ward her off, but froze as she produced a dagger from her belt, quickly slashing her own palm. His hazel eyes slid from her intent gaze, fastened on her hand, on the deep red blood spilling across her pale palm, down her slender white wrist into her sleeve.
     With a groan he grasped her wrist, pulling her hand to his mouth. She let him slake his thirst before using her free hand to stroke his long, dark, wavy hair. '"Well now," he whispered. "I had no idea."
     "I merely suspected," she replied.
     He lowered her hand, but didn't let go of it. After licking his lips that had been stained by her blood he said, "You're so young."
     "Seventeen. Eternally."
     "Twenty-seven. Forever more." She smiled almost shyly. He returned her smile. "And your great aunt?"
     "Oh, she's human. One hundred percent so."
     "But you go out in daylight," he remarked. She nodded. "How?"
     She shrugged as he released her wrist after giving her palm a last slow lick. "I don't know.  Can't you?"
     "Not for very long."
     She studied him carefully. "You don't know how long I've been looking for someone like me."
     "It has been a very long time since I've encountered another of my own kind," he acknowledged.

Two vampires from different centuries meeting in the ballroom of a mansion under renovation. I believe that was the scenario I was tackling here.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Nothing Can Compare to that First Time

Nothing can compare to that first time you walk into a bookstore and see your books displayed on a shelf. Wow- talk about a surreal, dreamlike moment! I had to look twice and then pinch myself and yup, it was real. I was wide awake.

It made my heart happy!

I browsed around the shop, found a couple of books I wanted, then went to the counter to pick up the book Id purchased yesterday and left to have the author sign during an author book signing event I wasn't able to stay for. Cyndi was behind the counter. Today she received a complimentary copy of Black King Takes White Queen.

We were talking about writing and she asked what it felt like to finish a book and I more or less said books I write are never really finished. I'm always tinkering with them, tweaking them. But when I open one and start reading I'm instantly hooked, even though I wrote the book and have already read it four or five times. I said, "It's like giving birth and your child is all grown up and out on their own, only when they come home (I read them again) they don't bring their dirty laundry and devour everything in the refrigerator. She laughed.

Today was a good day, seeing those books with my name on the spine on the shelf for local authors at the front of the bookclub bookstore and more! right here in my home town!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Summer Treat

I've always been a sucker for a soft serve cone during the hot sunny days of summer. It was always a treat for us when we were kids to have Mom call us in on a Saturday evening after dinner and have us pile into the car (this was the 60's so it was a Ford Fairlane wagon, maroon with wood sides; in the early 70's it was Dad's VW microbus, beige and white) and off Mom and Dad would take us to Tasty Top in Easthampton (where we lived) or Frosty Cap in Amherst, and occasionally a dairy bar in Deerfield. For my sister it was always a vanilla cone. Mom loved orange pineapple when they had it. Dad, my brother and I were chocolate ice cream cone aficionados! Occasionally our miniature Schnauzer, Max, got a little dish of vanilla ice cream.

Incredibly, Tasty Top is still open (despite years of threats of being torn down to make way for a Stop & Shop. I do not like strawberry anything (allergic to strawberries, real ones) but when I was pregnant with Kelly I had to have strawberry ice cream cones.

Astonishingly, Kelly did not like ice cream when she was a baby, nor when she was little. This was unbelievable to us. I had to bring her cookies when John and I went for ice cream, and bear the dark looks of other parents who though we were neglecting our daughter by not getting her ice cream. She didn't start eating ice cream until she was seven or eight years old. Since then, she loves chocolate and coffee ice cream only, or chocolate mocha when she can find it. Any other flavor- no!

We're fortunate to have a number of ice cream stands in our area. The best homemade ice cream is at the Gran-Val Scoop way out in Granville MA on a farm where they have cows, baby cows, llamas and a donkey, and chickens. It smells like a farm, but you can eat inside, or if you don't mind the country air, walk around and enjoy visits with the animals outdoors.

Sheldon's in Southampton is located in an old mill where one of my former boyfriends used to play when he was a kid. It was rundown and abandoned then but has been transformed into a nice ice cream shop with indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy your treats.

Here in town we have the Northside Creamery on Southampton Road. There is ice cream at Zubers on the south west side of town. Easthampton also has, I believe, Mount Tom Ice Cream (homemade). We haven't tried that one yet.

As summer begins to wind down we went out tonight to Tasty Top to enjoy some soft serve. Nothing is as satisfying as a cold treat on a hot summer evening.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Message in a Dream

At some point in time this morning I began to dream that I was with all my co-workers past and present. We were all seated around 4 rectangular tables that had been placed in an open rectangle in a fairly small room. I was sitting at the table with my back to the door. To my right, along the wall, was a coat cupboard with hooks, like you used to see in schools back in the day. It was all wood with wrought iron hooks and a shelf for hats and whatever above.

I knew everyone around the table, and knew which coat belonged to whom. There were two blue coats, or rather jackets as they were lightweight, like windbreakers, but thigh length, not hip or waist length. There was a bright blue one and a medium blue one.

The older doctor who most recently retired was sitting further down the same table as I was. He is and always has been a bit of an odd fellow. He never hangs around for long. So I wasn't surprised when he abruptly stood up from the table, came behind me and snatched one of the blue jackets from the hook and left. I knew he had taken David's jacket, not his own, so I, being the universal mother hen in the flock, jumped up and grabbed his blue jacket and went after him to make the swap so David would have his jacket when the meeting or dinner, or whatever was going on around that table, was over.

I found myself in a department store, of all places, not a medical office as I had expected, or the back room of a restaurant, which would have been reasonable, considering we were all in one place at one time. I searched for him and found him in a room that was startlingly similar to my dining room. There were several green purses lying on the cluttered table )part of the clutter recognizable as the clutter that occupies my own dining room table in real life.) One purse was open and had some cosmetics and things inside. He was examining a purse that had cash in it, tucking a dollar bill back into the bill compartment. I told him the purse with the cosmetics was for my sister, I had been working on filling it for her. He nodded, then picked up one of my current novels, Black King Takes White Queen, which has a green cover. I told him he could take a copy of the book.

He raised his head and looked at me and I was troubled because he looked unshaven, scruffy, unkempt and somewhat sad. I stood there looking at him, him looking at me, and then he said, "I need a hug."

I then woke up, feeling as if I needed to find him and hug him. I heard Kelly moving around getting ready for work and that's probably what had woken me from the dream, but all day I have had the sense that he is feeling sad or discouraged or lonesome and he needs a hug.

He used to joke that I was his office wife because I would occasionally make him a cup of coffee, and I kept a lo-fat snack drawer for him to snack out of when he was hungry, having come from the hospital to the office, or into the office after running or biking looking for something to munch on. I cleaned up his messes and was always pestering him for signatures when he was flossing his teeth or combing his hair. We had the strangest relationship of any of the many relationships that have developed over the years in that office. And he never even suspected I was a writer until November 2014 when I brought in a copy of Blackstone's Menagerie after winning 2nd place in a Halloween Story writing contest that year.

I think I took on a third dimension in his mind and became a more real person when I gave him several Irish themed stories I'd written to read, and then wrote him a funny story about a medical secretary who's hauled into the police station and interrogated after she's accused of causing an elderly man's death from apoplexy when he calls her and harasses her on the phone for not obtaining a medication prior authorization. Having a criminal justice background I blended the two into a crazy, funny story in which wishful thinking in not considered a crime, even if the person you wished dead actually drops dead. The doctor wrote, "U R 2 Funny!" on the manuscript and left it on my desk to find.

Anyway, I wrote him a couple of brief action/adventure tales with a character he created prior to his retirement at the beginning of May 2015. He's since read several of my books and posted a couple reviews for me on Amazon. He's been to one of my book signings. I am that medical secretary he took for granted for years who turned out to have a secret life of my own outside of work, one that defined me as someone and something else entirely- an author.

So, my friend, wherever you may be this evening- this blog is my hug to you.

Dreams that real, that powerful and that remain with me and haunt me throughout an entire day must mean something, after all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Palliative Care and Hospice

As some of you may know my daytime job is as a medical secretary in a multi-MD practice in my home town. My job is doing all the Prior Authorizations for Medications, sending the prescriptions and required documentation to suppliers for durable medical equipment, getting people oxygen, CPAP machines and supplies, nebulizers, helping them get transportation too and from appointments, getting miscellaneous paperwork signed by the doctors and returned in a timely manner, helping patients who can't afford their medications fill out Patient Assistance forms, and getting the orders and paperwork together and sent to various VNA agencies to connect patients home care services. A part of my job also involves connecting patients and their families with palliative care providers and hospice services.

That is the part of my job that has the biggest effect on me. I've lost both of my parents, my mother-in-law and the majority of my relatives already. I know death intimately, yet I still cry when a patient I have known through providing them various assistance through the years reaches the point where the end of their life is approaching and they and their family members have to think about palliative care or hospice.

I have the tender-hearted gene. My father was a weeper. So was my mother, who was a nurse. I still vividly remember her coming home from work and breaking down over the passing of one of her patients from cancer. She would also cry (with happiness) for patients like the young couple with fertility issues who finally conceived and had a baby. She would often be invited to patient's homes to visit the babies because she was the kind of person who truly cared about other people.

I sat in a meeting with the representatives of the combined regional VNA/Hospice service in this area. The hospice and palliative care representatives were at the office today to talk to the doctors, mid-levelers, me and a medical assistant who had signed up to attend about the centralized office and the palliative care services they provide, something we have struggled with hooking people up with in the past due to a shortage of providers in the area. They brought their magazine, and a little book they give to patients and their families that helps them understand the different between palliative care and hospice. I had to really struggle hard not to cry because it was only 7 months ago we lost John's Mom, and I really struggled with keeping my temper in check when I felt they weren't getting her the best care possible. And now I'm thinking about John's Dad who is growing more frail each day as he approaches #95 in November.

Now I understand the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice. It was explained clearly by these experts. Palliative care is when a patient is having frequent hospitalizations for their chronic diseases, who may rally and improve, or have ups and downs in their disease processes, however they are not at the point where they are terminal. Palliative care can help them through the lows and prepare the patient and the family for changes ahead in the disease process, what to look for, when to contact the doctor, the changes as end of life approaches so they are better prepared for the road ahead which could meander over months or even years. It's preparation for the end of life.

Hospice is for terminal patients with a limited life expectancy and includes comfort measures that address anxiety and pain. Hospice provides counseling for family members, and bereavement services for the family after the patient passes to help them cope with their grief. This service can last 3-13 months or even longer while the family copes and comes to terms with their loss.

Ultimately, everyone dies. No one lives forever. Palliative care and hospice help families prepare for and cope with the impending death of a family member.

It's the saddest, more heart-wrenching aspect of my job but I'm glad I'm in the position to help other people prepare for their losses. I have plenty of experience with loss.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

In Search of the Stone Heart

About 6-7 years ago we had a drought here and the brook in the ravine behind our house dried up. One autumn day Kelly and I were in the back yard with our tuxedo cat, Diego (he died suddenly at age 5 in November 2011). Kelly had remarked about the odd oval acorns that were dropping from the oak trees, so I had grabbed the 35mm digital camera and was shooting pictures of the strange acorns, the colorful leaves, and Diego who was rolling around on the path leading down to the brook.

Because the cat liked to take walks in the woods with us we decided to hike up the dry brook bed with him, so down the ravine we climbed and then jumped into the brook bed and began hiking north. Diego thought he was the greatest explorer, so I was shooting pictures of him standing on shale rocks, leaping onto the trunks of fallen trees and posing. I was shooting other pictures of autumn leaves, the rocks and leaves littering the brook bed, odd trees.

We hiked the distance of about four backyards north before Diego got bored with the brook and headed toward the dirt trails we usually hiked on the far side of the brook. We continued our walk and headed south on the trails, coming out at the gated area of the access road to the cable TV tower and cellphone tower, then walking two houses north to our driveway.

I downloaded the pictures and that's when I found the heart of stone in one of the pictures. I didn't remember seeing a heart-shaped stone, but there it was dead center in the pictures surrounded by bright yellow leaves and scattered shale rocks. It was one of the best pictures I'd taken during our hike.

Well...before we had a chance to take another hike to find the heart of stone and bring it home it rained, the brook refilled and though we hiked later on in the winter and broke ice floes with walking sticks to try to locate the stone we never found it.

A number of years have passed but the brook has been full. We've had a blizzard that downed some additional tress across the broke, and the brook was turbulent with all that snow melted. At one point the brook was so swollen and moving so fast it washed away our three railroad tie footbridge across the brook, tumbling it down stream like matchsticks! Those railroad ties were heavy!

So, my husband has been thinking about that stone lately. Today when we got home from his sister's second wedding he said he wanted to hike up the brook bed and try to find the stone. So, we all put on long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats and boots and grabbed hiking sticks. Down the embankment we went and we jumped into the brook bed. We have had some rain off and on so the bottom of the bed was slick in places with mud but there was no water in the brook.

We hiked north to the area where I though the heart stone would be- but we didn't find it. I found three other vaguely heart-shaped rocks and brought them home, but we did not find the one in the photograph.

Tonight I went through the photo files on the computer and found the series of pictures I shot that day years ago and made a photographic map of sorts, documenting the landmarks Kelly, Diego and I had passed, including the shots immediately before and after the heart stone photo. I probably should have done this before we went out today.

Now, at least, we have a sort of map to where the stone lies.

Unfortunately we're getting some heavy rain tonight, but I don't think it'll fill the brook, so maybe in a few days we'll have another shot at finding the heart of stone?

We'll see.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

An Invitation to Speak

I have been thinking about this invitation to speak at the Westfield Women's Club- and trying not to work myself up too much about it. Public speaking has never been my forte. I write much better than I speak. I wonder if I can prerecord my speech and lip sync it like those singers do! (Just kidding!)

I have been thinking about the why I write aspect of my life.

I don't know why I write. It's just something that I have always done ever since I was a child and could put pencil to paper.

I think it is because I am 1) easily bored, 2) tend to internalize my stress, and 3) am not good at holding a conversation. I am totally at ease when I write. 

Another thought is that my childhood was rife with little traumas that led to my siblings and I being shuffled from home to our grandparents a lot. We missed classroom time, doing our schoolwork independently at our grandparent's with Dad coming to collect it and bring us new assignments. This type of thing led to our not being able to form the kind of friendships normal kids make in the schoolyard. When we got back to school we were not part of the cliques that had formed. Therefore there was some social isolation going on.

However, we lived in a home that was full of books, games and props to amuse and entertain ourselves with. My mother let us choose whatever books we wanted from those Scholastic Book Club flyers and we all had our own libraries. At one point she had Dad take out all the walls in the hallway and construct bookcases down both sides that were chockfull of books when the project was done! I vividly remember sprawling in the hallway on the celery green carpet just reading books. In fifth grade I challenged myself to read 100 paperback books and did that. My teacher even came to the house because she didn't quite believe I had done this (this was after blowing through those pick a card and read it and answer the question things that were designed to test you ability to read and comprehend. I had nothing else to read in class so she let me read books from home.) She was amazed by all the books in our house, not just in the hallway library but in the family room and living room as well. And we each had a bookshelf in our room, too.

I was never one to watch much sitcom TV, but I liked old movies (still do!) and would watch a few every Saturday afternoon with my brother and sister.

My sister is four years older than me. She had a cerebral vascular accident at age 11 and had to relearn everything that she once knew. She was partially blinded by this- cannot see from mid-point to the right in both eyes. It changed her personality. Yet, she relearned everything in one year and was able to go back to school and rejoin her classmates. She wrote plays that were performed in school (one on the signing of the Declaration of Independence). She also wrote plays for the three of us to perform for our parents in the family room, which we called The Porch Theater. Dad had strung a wire across the width of the room and Mom had made bedsheet curtains. My sister's bedroom had a door that opened into the family room so her room was our changing room and prop room. Our parents would dress up in their theater going finery. My sister would have programs typed up. They'd be seated, refreshments would be served- iced tea or soda and popcorn or cookies, and the play would commence.

My mother never stifled our creativity but encouraged it. I liked to draw and write poetry at that time. I wrote two books of poetry by age thirteen. By books I mean I handwrote my poems on notebook paper and drew little pictures to illustrate some of them, then tied the pages together with bright yarn.

When we moved to Westfield in 1973 I missed the small circle of friends I had finally made. I was lonely, shy, not happy in the brand new high school among people who all knew one another and had been friends since childhood. I started writing short prose pieces. I inherited my sense of humor from my parents, and I guess my imagination as well. My maternal grandfather was Italian and a great oral story teller! He always had stories to tell about locals in town when we went to visit.

I wrote some short prose for the high school literary magazine. I continued to draw, doing pen and ink drawings. My sister painted and wrote children's poetry and stories. My brother was not as creative .In college I started as an English major and worked on the college literary magazine until I switched majors after the first half of my sophomore years and transferred to what was Westfield State College at the time to complete my education earning a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice.

I continued to write. I'd lie on my bed and just write all weekend. I wrote stories with the same characters over and over, perfecting them, putting them through different scenarios. I also continued to write short prose and do pen and ink drawings.

For a few years, when I was working as a campus police officer and then supervisor, I didn't do a lot of writing. I wrote some poetry, I hand made teddy bears and I continued to draw. When John and I moved to Westfield after we bought our house I would write to amuse myself and to relieve stress caused by my job. I worked nights.

Then I went to work at LEGO making bricks. It was fun. I left there a few weeks before Kelly was born and stayed at home to raise her. Like my mother before me, I made sure she had a bookcase full of books in her room from the day we brought her home to present day (she's 25 now). I remember sitting in the white wicker rocker feeding her in the wee hours of the night, showing her picture books and then reading her books like Goodnight, Moon and The Runaway Bunny. She threw up on her Goodnight Moon paperback book! I had John drive us to the mall so I could get a replacement book as soon as we were finished eating dinner that same day! I got the board book version- she still has it downstairs.

As she grew I'd write while she was in school. I read to her every night before bed. We'd select six books from her bookcase and I'd read them. I never parked her in front of the television so she never developed any need to watch TV. Instead, we did art projects, we listened to music from many different cultures and danced in the kitchen, we had picnics at various locations, like the airport where we watched the planes. We took drives into the hill towns to look at trees and lakes. We went to the park. We colored a lot (and still do!) Sometimes I'd lose track of her and find her sitting in front of her bookcase (from age 1.5 on) with an open book across her lap looking at the pictures. She wrote her first short story about Harold the Shoe in first grade which astounded her teacher. We still have that handwritten on yellow lined paper story in the file cabinet!

I began writing stories for her when she was four years old. Everything I've written the past 21 years has been for her. She writes for me and that makes my heart happy. She is black & white, very analytical like her father, but in her genetic make-up she also got a good dose of the creativity gene from her mother. Her writing style is very different from mine. I'm wordy and descriptive. She paints an image with a few deft key strokes. It's more stark but does not lack in skill.

We have started one book together, writing alternating chapters. My bad, it's my chapter next. We started it a few years ago on vacation in Maine. I really need to get back to that with her.

Curiously, I never wrote an entire novel until 2011. I didn't think I had it in me to actually finish a full-length novel. I wrote a lot of short stories, novelettes and novellas. Kelly had learned about NaNoWriMo in college where she and her roommate were involved in the arts & literary magazine. They did the challenge in 2011. She told me she wanted me to try it in 2012. I practiced in March and wrote a novel in 23 days. That November I wrote a novel in 18 days and she was mad at me! Since then we do NaNoWriMo. I have four NaNo novels written. She has two and two others half written. College and work obligations prevented her from finishing her novels two years.

I now write mostly novels. I have a vast body of work in binders and file cabinets in my home. I'd been encouraged to publish my writing for years and years by family and friends, but was reluctant to do so. Finally, as my 2014 NaNoWriMo winner's goody of two free copies of my NaNo novel was about to expire at the end of May 2015, I took Medea, my 2014 NaNo novel and created a paperback book of it and got my two free copies. The book was crude and imperfect but I was thrilled to have my book in print. I ordered a bunch of copies and handed them out- horrendous or not!

Then Kelly clued me in that I could change fonts, colors and add pages like the title page, a rights/copyrights page, an author bio, headers, footers, page numbers...all the stuff that first attempt was lacking. Version two came out better although still not perfect. It's the current version of Medea by Victoria Bell that's still available.

From there I began putting together books from material I had on hand that was already written and just taking up room. Each books eliminated one or more binders from the crates in the dining room. With each book I got better at making them look more professionally put together. I loved designing the covers from stock pictures (for now), choosing the fonts and colors. I needed Kelly's help at first with headers. footers and pages numbers but now can pretty much do everything independently, although I ask her opinion when a book is ready to submit, just to make sure she doesn't catch something missed (sometimes she does and I fix it immediately before submitting the book file because I have learned to be more patient about getting each book done!)

My books have been well-received in general. My short stories don't get rated as high as my novels. The general comments are the readers want longer stories, want to know what happens to the characters. I leave that to their imaginations but I guess some people want to know what's in my imagination! So now I mostly write novels except for my annual Halloween and Christmas stories.

Because of my books I have ventured out and done a couple book signings and met other authors at their book signings. Slowly I am developing a public persona as an author. I'm just an ordinary person with an abundance of imagination who can string words together to make a story. That's the thing I share with other authors who, the ones that I have met so far, feel the same way. They're just ordinary people who write.

I guess this is what I will say when I am invited to speak. People are all different. Some can dance (I cannot), some can sing (I cannot), some can act (ditto), some can fix cars (not me!), some can program computers (uh-uh), and some can write (ta-da!). I just happen to be one of those people who can write. I was born this way and like anyone born with some sort if innate talent, I've practiced and worked hard to improve over time.

And now I am at this place in my life. An author invited to speak about my craft (or rather my innate talent). Hopefully writing this all down here will inspire me at the end of January when I am in panic mode about the upcoming speaking event! I'll at least have some thoughts put together someplace I can look back on to refresh my memory!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Curious Things That You See

On Wednesday I went to our local button collectors meeting in Holyoke. I parked on Locust Street about two houses down from the home of our late member Martha B. who passed away about two and a half years ago. Now, the very first meeting I attended was at Martha's house in February 2003. I have been to her house for meetings, to park in her and and attend the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day parade, and have parked on Locust Street and walked past her house for at least four or five years to attend meetings in a room we rent from the Holyoke Health Center next door to the house.

This past Wednesday I was walking back to my car with fellow button club member Betty K. when we reached Martha's former house. I was looking at the tree roots of the big maple tree on the tree belt between the sidewalk and curb. Betty was looking the other way, but also looking at the tree roots. Oddly enough we were both looking at the same tree's roots, but on different sides of the sidewalk. This tree's roots had burrowed beneath the sidewalk and there were all sorts of odd root formations in the lawn. The first formation Betty commented on was a perfect ring formed by a protruding root that she said looked like a fairy ring. I agreed. One step further along she goes, "Oh! Look at the pig!" I looked and was amazed. In this place on the front lawn along the sidewalk the root had the appearance of a flattened, sleeping pig- you could see it's forehead, both eyes, it's snout (the looked pinkish in color even!) and chin. I had to dig out my cellphone and snap a couple pictures to put on facebook as a What Do You See in This Picture? post (most everyone saw the sleeping pig, except for Patty M who saw a troll). And just to the other side of the pig the root had grown in another circle in concentric circles that reminded me of a spiral.

We were totally fascinated by the pig root and couldn't believe we must have walked by that root a hundred times and never noticed it before.

We probably could have prowled around Martha's former front yard and found more cool formations of those sturdy and defiant roots but the house has new owners now and we didn't want to get shot for trespassing in their front yard!

There was a near full moon that night. When I got home from a 7-9PM meeting I looked up at the moon and it was encircled by a hazy purple ring and then a brighter white ring, like the ring around the moon before a snowstorm. Kelly and I both went out to get some cool moon pictures. Tonight is the full moon but it's a bit overcast.

Anyway- while I was standing on the bench on the back deck to get a shot an airplane flew by and I captured the lights of the plane just above the moon- the kind of picture people would pass off as a UFO picture. Four bright lights above the moon!

I usually take cloud pictures...finding a pig in a tree root now has me looking down instead of up!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Dizzies

Today was a terrible day- I had the dizzies- big time! I woke up feeling off balance at 5:30AM, but jumped in the shower and hit the road for a 7:45AM appointment in Springfield. Got there, but when I got out of the car I felt like I'd just bailed out of a ship on a stormy sea!

By the time I got to work an hour later I was reeling like a drunken sailor! My recent RA flare did something to my head and I have been off balance for a week now, but today, driving should not have been on my able to do activity!

I was prescribed a prednisone dose pack so have to venture out again at lunchtime to pick that up at the pharmacy. Again, I should not have been driving around because it gave me motion sickness, and when I got back to work I just wanted to fall on the floor and wish the room would stop swaying. The floor felt as if I was walking on a rope bridge across a mighty canyon!

I took the first dose of prednisone and three hours later I was feeling somewhat better. I managed to drive home at 5 o'clock and not feel as if I was going to be sick or fall over in the driveway (just a four mile trip home, but the pharmacy trip had been less than that at lunch time and it nearly did me definitely a big improvement with the medication!)

I do not like feeling dizzy!

I did get yelled at by my husband for driving myself around when I was having issues with balance and dizziness- as if he was going to roll out of bed at 5:30AM to drive me to my appointment and then to work, and then go get my medication and then pick me up at work! I've got to do what I've got to do.

I used caution. I wasn't driving all over the road. I parked away from other cars. And now I'm taking my medication and doing somewhat better. We'll see what tomorrow brings- hopefully it won't be a spinner day!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Full Immersion Writing

I don't like books that are so pared down, so dumbed down that it's like reading a soap bubble. I don't like that feeling of having a slick film of burst bubbles on my brain after reading a book touted as one of the best ever written. Maybe it's the best that author can accomplish but it's a huge disappointment to this reader.

I probably go the complete opposite end of the writing content scale. I created characters and locations, settings that are rich enough to make the reader believe that these characters are very real, that they could walk down Main Street in their town and run into one or two of them and know them instantly. I probably include too much information, but that's my style of writing. When I read a book I want to know as much about the characters as I possibly can. I want to be able to relate to them and not just think, well this is a shallow so-and-so I have no desire to get to know better.

I want my characters to walk off the pages into the reader's life and involve them on many levels.

I want my readers to pass through a town- any town- and turn their head and say, "I know this place! This is where (insert character's name) bought gas, ate supper that time, blew a tire out, went to school..."

Besides writers like Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Alexander Dumas, Charles Dickens from days of yore, I can think of several modern day writers who fall in the category of full immersion writers- Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, Erin Kelly to name a few. These authors immerse the reader in entire worlds and breathe life into their characters so they practically step off the page.

Readers probably find me too wordy. Editors would probably roll their eyes, place my work on the chopping block and attack it with an axe to pare it down because they evidently believe readers are morons who can't process much information beyond tweets and facebook posts. There is intelligence still in this world hungering to be fed. I write to provide sustenance to those hungry minds.

There's plenty of brain lint on the shelves in bookstores these days.

That makes me sad because it gets harder and harder to find a good book that really gets me involved in the characters lives and their story to the point where I care- where I laugh, cry, cheer, want to offer advice and wise counsel, and sometimes want to wring their necks and kick their stupid asses when they screw up.

I often begin a book and then toss it aside because nothing I've read really compels me to continue, to find out what happens next, what happens to the characters.

I suppose I am a picky reader (although my bookshelves groan under the weight of books I've enjoyed reading- and the local public libraries have benefitted from donations of about fifty cartons of books for their book sales, all books I thought might be good but in reality were hugely disappointing. At least the libraries benefit.)

This probably sounds very arrogant to you, but writing is my passion. When I write a book I want to give the reader the full story, the full reading experience. I want to grip the reader by the front of his/her shirt and drag him/her through page after page of written word, of full immersion storytelling, and then drop them at the The End panting, cheering, sobbing, cursing, wanting to run outside and shout a character's name in the hopes of summoning them from the ether to give them a high five.

To draw a response like that from a reader is what I want to do with my writing. That is what gives me a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of satisfaction. If I can't elicit a response like that then I have failed not only the reader who expected so much more when they opened the cover but myself as well.

Full immersion writing- remember those words. (And if you know of a writer like this then send me a message because I'm always on the lookout for a reading experience, not just a brain fluff diversion I curse myself for spending good money on and that will never grace a shelf in my Keeper library.)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cloud Pictures

I am not liking this hot, humid weather that western MA is locked into for the past few weeks, but I am loving the skies and the pop-up thunderstorms because this weather is creating plenty of opportunities for awesome cloud photography!

This evening after dinner I ran out because it kept getting darker and darker. In the western sky at the front of the house there was a cloud rooster!! By the time I woke up the camera and found him in the viewer he was already beginning to dissipate as the clouds were moving fairly quickly in advance of the rain, but I nailed one good shot of this white cloud rooster with his head thrown back crowing. He has the comb on the top of his head, a dark wing and a beak.

When I came inside I showed the picture on the viewing screen to my daughter and asked, "What do you see in the clouds?" and she said, "A chicken?" Close enough. Even my unimaginative husband saw a rooster in the clouds (he thinks I'm crazy every time I run out the door with my camera as a storm approaches!)

My all time favorite cloud picture is of an Old English Sheepdog puppy loping out of a cloud with flopping ears!

I am kicking myself that I didn't have a camera the day Kelly and I both saw a witch astride her broom about to bite an apple she was holding in her raised hand! Holy smoke! You don't see that every day! We were about two miles from home. She was already breaking up as we watched her while waiting for the streetlight to change.

Now we always try to take a camera along because you never know what you're going to see in the clouds.

I don't always see pictures or images. Sometimes it's just the dramatic cloud formations that form, the colors of the clouds, the bright sunlight outlining a dark cloud, a rend in a dark cloud that allows a glimpse of the bright blue behind it.

This weekend we had thunderstorms coming through. I went out and there was a perfectly framed rectangular opening in the storm clouds with one side brightly outlined by sunlight, rays of sunlight beaming down through the "doorway". And above it there was a deep blue opening in the dark gray clouds- the deepest blue I have ever seen. And just above the deep blue, over the dark charcoal gray clouds there was what appeared to be a white sea anemone, or an explosion of snowy white cloud. If someone painted that picture people would scoff and say, "Oh, that's not a real sky!" Well- it was very real. The image is on my facebook page (my regular page- daisies picture) straight off my cellphone.

Unfortunately rooster cloud is on my Nikon camera and I'll have to download it to the main computer to be able to post it on facebook.

A lot of people cloud watch and try to capture what they see in the clouds. I never tire of looking at cloud pictures!

That's what I do for fun- watch the clouds. Sound boring? Sometimes...but then sometimes you see something that makes your heart skip a beat and start to pound. But you have to be quick to capture the image because even though it doesn't feel like the world is moving, those clouds can shapeshift or simply dissipate pretty quickly at times!

So-while I am not liking this hot, humid weather, I'm not complaining about all the storm cloud opportunities it's creating. I'll have to download cloud pictures off the camera again soon! (The rest are on my cellphone!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Friends can be Uplifting!

I had a terrible day yesterday and thought I'd be in the ER last night. I went to bed and slept like the dead, and slept in a couple hours this morning with Revere snuggled alongside me. The love and devotion of a pet is healing.

I feel fifty percent better today. I was able to keep a lunch date with a friend to talk about this and that, catch up on things and discuss a new writer's group that she has started here in town. I'd already seen myself linked to the group via a posting on facebook by someone else- it hadn't been written in stone yet, but she and I talked about it at lunch and I am in.

Then I went to work where we're all suffering dust allergies from the renovations being made to the main office, and a couple people have nasty spider bites, and another person has body aches. We're all struggling with something, I concluded. So hugs were doled out and received all around today. It certainly does help to work with a wonderful group of people who are very supportive of one another. It can be very stressful and hectic working in a busy medical office, but it's those brief moments between patients, between running here and there when you pause and share a thought, a joke or a word of kindness or empathy with a co-worker that gets you through the day. We have TGIF dances we do that make us smile and laugh at the end of the week.

These people are friends as well as co-workers. They're the people I spend the most time with all week, a whopping 9 straight hours five days a week. I then go home and spend less than 5 hours with my husband and daughter because they're in bed at 9:30PM and 10PM. We eat diner then John's lying on the couch watching sports and westerns, Kelly is in the den on her computer, I'm in the kitchen writing and the cats are circling among us looking for someone to play with them. I interact more with my co-workers than I do my own family during the course of a week day! John, Kelly and I are exhausted and sometimes irritable when we get home and just want to be left alone.

It's my friends who uplift me when I'm not feeling well, feeling frazzled and stressed at work, and struggling with various things. We're social animals and need the contact to feel connected.

So, tonight, a huge thank you to my friends who gave me what I needed to get me through yesterday and today. We'll get through this week and be done with it! I promise!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Crash

Well, today I hit the wall and crashed.

I have been pushing myself way too hard and it all caught up to me.

I have massive fatigue tonight.

Part of the whole problem is that there have been a lot of renovations going on at work which has raised a lot of dust, which I am allergic to. It's set off my asthma and allergies. I've had to use my inhaler more in the past week than I've used it in the past year!

With an RA flare going on, and all my allergies set off I'm fighting a huge battle with my compromised immune system and it's all just kicking my butt...I'm hugely tired. So tired that I did nothing tonight but sit and keep breathing.

This of course cuts across the very grain of my entire being...I am not a person who can just sit and do nothing. So on top of fatigue I am irritable and frustrated.

I'm not good company tonight- even the cats are avoiding me- and that is saying a lot right there.

I suppose I should just go to bed and call it a day...a wasted day, at least at home. At work I did manage to get a lot done before crawling home and crashing after dinner.

At least I managed to do something even if it wasn't want I would have rather been doing.

A special thank you to Amanda who makes me laugh- she got me through the afternoon!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Arrgh, Pirates?

I Googled myself this afternoon and found something that disturbs me.

I found that at least two of my books appeared to be in e-reader format when I have only approve four books for Kindle through CreateSpace. The books I saw that had no URL address associated with them but when clicked on appeared to start downloading an e-reader form of the book were Talon:A Sense of Familiarity and The Subtlety of Light and Shadow. I didn't allow the whole thing to download because it was taking some time and I'm wary of viruses. Therefore, I don't know exactly what this is all about but I'm not happy about it just the same.

CreateSpace is the only place where the story files have been uploaded. I'm not quite understanding how these books are being created (if they actually exist) when there have been no copies sold yet for the two books that I saw. Therefore, I'm inclined to think CreateSpace may not really be as secure as I was lead to believe. I hold the copyrights for all of my books, plus all the books are copyright registered in the Library of Congress. Permission from me is needed to use anything at all from any of the books.

So, if you Google me and see something about downloading any of my books cheaper it may be a scam or a rip-off, so don't do it. I only authorized four books in e-reader format for Kindle and no one else. And the two books I saw are not available in e-reader format.

Isn't it lovely that pirates sail the vast internet sea?

This is my warning shot across their bow.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Unfinished Stories Rediscovered

I cannot sleep when my nose is stuffy. My nose is stuffy due to renovation work going on in the office where I work, which is creating a lot of dust. All the past week everyone has been sneezing and congested. It's worse for those of us with allergies and asthma, but the office can't be closed, since it's a medical office and there are always sick patients that need to be seen and treated. So, while waiting for my antihistamine and nasal spray to kick in last night after a failed attempt at falling to sleep, I started mucking through the build-up of paperwork and junk on the dining room table, which serves as the main creative hub in this house. It's where everything is thrown when the kitchen table is needed for meals.

I started a pile for recycle on the kitchen table. At the back of the table I came across some rough drafts of stories already published in Cupid's Darts-A Sweet Hearts Collection. They went into the recycle pile since they've already been published and the book is registered with the LOC in Washington. I have all the originals on a USB secured in a safe place, and many are still in the files on three various computers in the house.

At the bottom of that pile I discovered three stories in which I began developing the characters of Thaddeus Rex and Scarlett Renfield. If you've read The Archetypes-First Generation and The Archetypes-Shockwaves then you will recognize those names from those novels. If you don't recognize them, shame on you! You're out of the loop. Go to Amazon and buy them now. The Archetypes-First Generation is also available in the Kindle store in the USA only, sorry- I don't have European rights or rights in any other country as far as I know.

Anyway- Thaddeus develops the character of Thaddeus Rex as an arms collector specializing in medieval, ancient and early bladed weapons. He's filthy rich and has hired British?American Scarlett Renfield who has formerly worked at the Metropolitan Armory Museum in NYC to catalogue his collection, and also to be his personal assistant who finds auctions for items that would enhance his collection and places the bids (he sets the bid limits but she has some flexibility). In this story (that I can see bears the roots for the novel The Subtlety of Light & Shadow) Thaddeus is a darker, more ruthless and dangerous man who suddenly decides to elevate Scarlett's position so that she can travel with him to international auctions. He treats her to an elegant dinner that miffs her because he orders for her. She balks at his choosing her meal and he allows her to choose her own meal. He also notices that she's hyper aware of the people around her, rather vigilant and observant, a quality he has because he's made any number of enemies outbidding other collectors at the last moment because he has the means to do so. There is a Santa Claus-looking man dining there. Both of them notice that he seems a little too interested in them. Back at the Rex mansion they've just returned home when Scarlett is shot in the arm and hip just inside the dark garage by a sniper. Thaddeus and his resident MD treat her. Thaddeus' secretary, his current lover, buys Scarlett (whose cottage has mysteriously burnt to the ground) a slinky black nightgown and peignoir set that is totally inappropriate for a recovering gunshot victim and Scarlett is angry about it. Thaddeus finds her anger amusing, but it's clear that he's gained an entirely new perspective of the feisty, fiery Scarlett and something is developing between them...this is where this start of a novel ends.

In Scarlett Poppies I have Scarlett exiting a restaurant with her younger bodyguard Quentin Zinn (Quentin is still her bodyguard in the Archetypes novels). She gets shot in the parking lot but still manages to get behind the wheel of her car and peel out of there, Quentin leaping into the back seat. They are pursued around a lake in the Adirondacks. She happens to have a percussion grenade in the pocket on the back of the front passenger seat and sets Quentin about tossing it out the window to blow up the road behind them. It slows their pursuers down and she reaches home and staggers inside, where she is stabbed by Thaddeus Rex who is waiting for her there. Scarlett thinks he wants her collection of daggers, stilettos, sword canes and poison rings. She also owns a dagger he covets named Questar (yes, the same dagger from the Archetypes novels). But what's really going on is that Thaddeus is trying to jolt his wife's memory back after she's suffered a head injury and can't remember being married to him. He's trying to shock her back to the present by having her shot. His stabbing her was accidental. As she recovers she begins to get memory flashes that make her realize something is going on, that she has a relationship with Thaddeus whom she's been thinking is her enemy.  And that's as far as that one made it before being relegated to the unfinished pile.

Armor Amour is the third attempt at developing and establishing Thaddeus and Scarlett. Scarlett is working for another museum and living in a cottage on a lake. She is aware of the Rex Museum. One day she finds a hand delivered invitation in her mail from Thaddeus, who has invited himself to the cottage to dinner that evening! She's annoyed at his arrogance but decides to play along with his request that she dress appropriately for dinner. She doesn't alter the menu because she already had plain old beef stew cooking. He arrives and, as the ultimate Alpha male, takes over, expecting her to wait on him in her home that he's invited himself to. She tolerates this for a little while but then slowly starts letting him know she's not a female who appreciates being dominated. Instead of being offended, he seems to appreciate the tempestuous side of her. She allows him upstairs to view her collection of stilettos, daggers, sword canes and poison rings. He boldly walks into her bedroom, dressing room and bathroom, telling her that he's getting a feel for who she is by checking out her most intimate space. She's a little caught off guard to realize he expected to sleep with her and then a little rattled when he leaves without touching her. There is some passive-aggressive behavior going on between them as they are both strong characters, jockeying for a comfort zone between them.

In these stories I see them developing into the passionate couple- the cold blooded killers who are red hot lovers that they are in the Archetypes books. There is a fully written story called Crossing Swords that has not been published that tells how Thaddeus is kidnapped by Scarlett's father and tortured. She's assigned the task of washing the blood off him at the end of a torture session. She knows his father is going to kill him. She has feelings for him even though he's a Rex and she's a Renfield. These families are more ruthless and cruel than the Hatfields and McCoys. Both families collect antique weapons. Scarlett's father has the dagger Questar that Thaddeus' father wants for the Rex collection. In the story Scarlett formulates a hasty plan to save Thaddeus's life and steal Questar. She is summoned to witness her father cut Thaddeus's throat. He plans on sending the young man's head to his father's house. Scarlett asks if the doomed young man can have a last request. Thaddeus asks for a kiss from the flame-haired Renfield girl who's been summoned to witness his death. She goes to kiss him and stumbles, knocking him backwards. Questar is hidden in her boot. She manages to cut his bonds and put the dagger in his hand then helps him back onto his knees and tells her father to go ahead and kill him as she walks away. Julius Renfield leans down to snarl something in Thaddeus's face about how his father will be receiving his head as he's eating his breakfast. Thaddeus plunges the dagger into the side of the man's neck- and all hell breaks loose. Scarlett kills several guards in the room and then gets him out of the house and into the trunk of her car. She then goes back inside to collect a gym bag that she's filled with a few personal things and cash and her papers, telling a guard on duty that she's heading to the gym. He lets her go. They escape to Fairley Lake where he rests and recovers for a week, and then marries her, sealing their doom. But his father is already dead and he inherits the Rex fortune and all the weapons in the collection. Scarlett's uncle Cornelius is infuriated because she stole Questar and Thaddeus killed his brother, and Scarlett was involved in Thaddeus' escape and has married him. Years later they are still dealing with repercussions but they have a very passionate and happy marriage. One night a man dines with them and they are both suspicious of his intentions, think he's lying to them. Thaddeus takes him to his den to talk about a weapons deal. Scarlett, uneasy about his being alone with the man, although he a very capable killer, sneaks through the secret passages in the wall and jumps out when her husband's life is in danger. She's the one who gets hurt. The man is dispatched and his remains gotten rid of in the lake they live on by Quentin, a bodyguard. Scarlett's recovery is slow as Thaddeus plots his revenge on her uncle. He makes it appear as if the man murdered Scarlett, buries a "body" and takes up with another woman (Scarlett in disguise). Then he allows himself to be taken prisoner and she's also grabbed. Again she has to rescue him after he's been mercilessly tortured and beaten, and they more or less repeat the ruse that ended with her father's death. Cornelius isn't aware of how they killed him because there were no living witnesses, and Scarlett in disguise has more or less convinced her captors that she's switched allegiances and is on their side now. Again she helps Thaddeus escape. As he's recovering it's revealed that Scarlett is pregnant with their first child, a child they intend to name Tiger.

In The Archtypes, Thaddeus and Scarlett have a son named Benjamin Carter Rex. Benjamin marries Amanda Pennington, whose mother was a Renfield. Benjamin and Amanda's first child is a son they name Tiger.

This is a glimpse into how some characters are created and developed over time until they are ready to tell their stories in novels. Thaddeus Rex and Scarlett Renfield had been around for a while before finding a home in the Archetypes novels as Benjamin's parents. They fit into those novels and work well there.  It's the right home for them.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Debating Joining a Writer's Group

I've always been a very independent person. I did not find group activities enjoyable in any way, shape or form in school. I found it even less pleasant in college because by then everyone had pretty much cemented their own way of thinking and were more closed off to new ideas and less inclined to change their ways, making group projects something akin to jumping on a bed- a bed of nails!

I have a creative streak as wide as a canyon within me and an endless well of ideas that keeps bubbling entire books to the surface that beg to be written.

I don't have any discernable discipline whatsoever. I set no time limits on myself. I write when the mood strikes and stop when I can no longer think straight, my eyes threaten to close and my forehead is about to strike the keyboard a glancing blow.

I very seldom write down anything in advance of plunging into a project. I might surf the internet for an interesting face or two for inspiration, but I don't have a plot outline, a cast of characters, a list of things I need to work into the narrative or even any idea of where the story is going. It starts when I sit down before the keyboard and ends when I get up and walk away with nothing more that needs to be written.

I understand a lot of writers do this. That's what makes a writer a writer- this creative flow, this expenditure of energy, this tapping into the well within to draw forth something that takes form as if by magic. There's a kind of trance state a writer falls into when they get going. My family can walk up to me and talk to me and maybe twenty minutes later I'm like, "What did you say?" They just roll their eyes at me. You get into the zone and coast along, the words like the wind in your ears, oblivious to all the other vehicles of entertainment sharing that highway.

I suppose writer's groups exist to bring great minds together, but I'm not so sure my mind is all that great. I'm not so sure about other writer's minds being of that lofty a status either. I've read some books that have left me scratching my head wondering how in the world they ever got published- what grammar school dropout did the editing and proofreading and what wet behind the ears publisher thought the contents worthy of binding in book form and foisting as a great novel on unsuspecting readers.

I can be hyper critical at times, reduced to tears at others by the exquisite turning of a phrase, the evoking of an image that resonates within me, that touches one of the strings on the harp that is my heart and sets it aquiver. I have closed books with a profound sense of loss at having been abruptly severed from the characters who had become so real to me it was as if they lived in my sphere of acquaintances and I actually knew them in my real life. I've laughed and cried my way through other books. I've peeked into others and slammed them shut, consigning them to the donation box in the basement for the next library book sale, no connection made to anything in my genetic makeup.

How would I fare among other writers?  I don't really know. I like the idea of a writer's group. I don't know if I can sit still and listen to ramblings about form, structure, mood, the use of sources (if writing nonfiction which I don't write but enjoy if written on certain subjects I care about)- and the banes of my existence-grammar and punctuation. I have patience when I'm really interested in something, but totally lack patience if someone monopolizes a conversation because they like to hear the sound of their own voice and ridiculously believe they know everything.

I think I would make a poor member of any group. I'm easily bored. I lose focus when bored. I yawn and doodle (like I did in every notebook on every subject all throughout my sixteen or more years of schooling/education), To hook me in you need to engage me. If I'm firmly on the hook everything's good and I'm happy. But once I slip the hook, I'm gone, back into the wonderland that is my brain where new stories clamor, or the characters of the current work in progress start talking to me in hurried voices because of my neglecting them.

I've probably got some sort of psychosis. A lot of writers are a little crazy. Or a lot crazy. I truly believe that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. I'm not a genius, so guess what side of the line I dwell on? It's certainly a challenge to live with so many people inside of you vying to tell their stories and you happen to be their sole channeler, the singular conduit through which they find their way into the world of print and hence the reader's imagination.

I'll probably give it a whirl, but don't put me down as a lifer.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Zip The Lip

I have nothing nice to say tonight so I am going to do something unprecedented. I'm going to zip my lip and not offend anyone.

Have a good night!