Friday, September 30, 2016

Thoughts on Upcoming Appearance

I am a rather private person by nature. I don't go around talking about myself much. I don't really say much about my family either. I really don't even talk about my books very much, which is probably not a good thing.

I guess I'm just not much of a talker.

So, this weekend I feel like I'm back in college cramming for a mostly oral exam, except I can refer to the text book, which in this instance is Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I. I've read through the book and highlighted some of my favorite passages. The top of the book bristles with torn strips of medium blue Post-it Notes marking these highlighted pages. I have something marked to read from each of the six stories.

What I don't have is much to say about myself. What's there to say? I just don't know.

I was born in Northampton, MA, raised for the first fifteen years of my life in Easthampton, MA and then moved with my family to Westfield, MA to the neighborhood where I presently live, only this house didn't even exist when we moved here. Where I live now was only woods with a dirt track bulldozed part way around marking the projected development of this section of Eastview Heights. I hiked here as a teenager, took walks with my cat Sierra and played hide and seek with him in the swampy area where neighbors houses now stand across the street from us.

I graduated from Westfield High School, class of '76. I went to Fitchburg State College for a year and a half as an English major, planning on being an English teacher but balked at doing a lesson plan on video. I do not like being photographed or filmed. I'm not photogenic in the least. So I bailed out of Fitchburg, came home and finished college at Westfield State College (now Westfield State University) earning my Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice.

My employment career includes child care, carpet repair, retail, store detective, campus police officer, campus police night shift supervisor, injection mold operator in a major construction toy company, office product sales and medical secretary. I've arrested shop lifters, shown up in court to testify against them, hauled injured college students to the hospital for stitches in my personal vehicle when they'd refused am ambulance (really- thumb dangling by a flap of skin and you think it'll heal on it's own? Now that is really drunk and dumbass thinking!) I've gone to the state police academy (Framingham and Agawam) for training and continuing ed courses (learning defensive driving, how to talk perps out of their vehicles and get them down on the ground to be cuffed and then into the back seat of a cruiser without losing control of the arrestee). Currently I get patients prior authorizations for medications from their insurances, help people get hospital beds and wheelchairs, walkers, canes, diapers, braces and VNA services.

Throughout my entire life I have written. I wrote my first story about a magical lion in a zoo when I was very young- maybe first grade. I was inspired by the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight that was playing on the radio. I never stopped writing. I wrote short prose and poetry then tried my hands at longer prose. I wrote never ending stories, restarting them, changing them every two minutes, basically working on character development and storytelling throughout high school and into college. In high school I took as many creative writing classes as they offered. Satire was one of my favorite classes and I liked that my short stories in that class made my teacher laugh. I also have kept a diary since I was twelve years old, and write in a journal. When Kelly was three years old I began writing stories for her and my story about teaching children how to cope with the monsters under their beds and in their closets, Monsters No More, was published in an anthology of teaching and healing stories for children when she was four. I co-wrote a magazine article with a friend out in New Mexico that was published in a British teddy bear magazine. I wrote for my high school and college literary magazines, and was editor in Fitchburg for half a year.

As Kelly grew up so did my stories. I basically wrote short stories, novelettes and novellas. One year I decided to write my best friend a ballooned into a 435,000 behemoth- an epic story about three half brothers all in love with the same young heiress. I discovered I really didn't know where to stop when writing a novel! And she never got a copy because it was too huge!

I didn't write a real novel until 2012. Kelly was away at Worcester Polytech. She was instrumental in reviving their arts and literary magazine during her four years there. She and her friend Bethany had done the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word novel in 30-days challenge in November 2011. Kelly wanted me to try it in 2012. So, during March of 2012 I set myself the task of writing a novel in 30 days. I finished in 24 and it wasn't bad. It needed some editing, corrections, grammar fixes and continuity checks- but overall it was a 62,500 word novel and I felt like I had accomplished something in my life.

In November 2012 I wrote another novel, in less than 30 days. Every November since I've written a novel. The least amount of time it took me to write a NaNo novel was 18 days. I thought Kelly would lunge across the table and throttle me for finishing in just 18 days! She was struggling with her novel.

Since then I've written about 15 novels and a lot of short stories, novelettes, and novellas. I've been writing annual holiday stories for family and friends since about 1997. I stopped for two or three years after my mother passed away in 2000, taking her passing pretty hard, but resumed as a way to keep my Dad going. For years and years everyone kept telling me to put my stories in a book. In 2015 I finally sat down and weeded out the stories not connected to novels (several of my novels have a bonus Christmas story with the same characters- like The Archetypes-Shockwaves and Life Skills). When I had them all sorted out I found I had 23 stories- way too many to put into one book. They filled three average sized trade paperbacks! I then did the same thing with my annual "Halloween" stories, or haunting tales. I began writing them in 2012. Collected and sorted, they filled three volumes with some remaining as a start to volume 4.

I entered the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest twice- first with Talon:An Intimate Familiarity in 2013 and then The Subtlety of Light and Shadow in 2015. I'm really not a true romance writer, but I was given fairly decent grades for Talon and even better grades for Light and Shadow. But I don't write the kind of romance they're looking for.

I really don't know what my genre is- but some novels and collections fall under supernatural/romance, while others fall under urban fantasy/romance. The Archetypes novels are more sci-fi/action-adventure/romance. Life Skills is contemporary. All my stories have some romance in them- love makes the world go round, so they say!

Through all the years that I've been writing- since way back when I gripped my pencil and wrote words on school composition paper I have striven to tell a story to the best of my ability. I have worked hard to improve my writing and storytelling. And I'm the kind of girl who, when bored one summer when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, read the Merriam Webster paperback dictionary, primarily as a means to learn as many words as I could to improve my own vocabulary! (Kelly has grown up to be an avid reader so her vocabulary is pretty amazing- she and I have entire conversations where we have to think fast and use the rarest word for each word we want to say. Talk about a brain exercise! "I perambulated to the edible goods emporium to purchase a cylindrical container of pasteurized whipping cream for esthetic purposes and delighting the palates of our post prandial dessert indulging dining companions." (Or, in layman's terms, "I went to the store to buy a can of whipped cream to spiff up dessert to make everyone happy.") My husband just shakes his head when she and I get going!

Otherwise, I'm just an ordinary person who prefers to listen to people instead of talk to them. I'm more observant than the usual person because I'm always studying people, things, the environment around me for things I might weave into a story to make it that much more realistic. I like to fill in all the blanks. I like to take my readers on a wild thrill ride through the pages. I'm the author that rides on the cow catcher of the literary express train laying down the track just ahead of the engine. I never know what lies ahead but I keep laying down that track. When I reach the end of the line I just say, "Whew," and shake my head. And I hope instead of "Whew!" the reader says, "Wow!"

And that's about all I have to say about myself. I have a just a few very close friends, a bunch of co-worker friends, a bigger bunch of acquaintances, a little group of writer friends, a very small family, some of whom don't even have a clue that I write. I have one sister and one brother. I have one cousin somewhere and one half cousin somewhere else. I have two brothers-in-law, one who's a musician the other is a cardiologist. I have three sisters-in-law. One who has disassociated herself from the family, one who is the caregiver of my elderly father-in-law, and one I never see. I have no nieces or nephews, but boy, do I have a lot of feline versions of same and one canine one. My parents are both gone. My mother-in-law passed away this past January. I live in a house on the side of a mountain. I collect camels, teddy bears and antique and vintage clothing buttons specialized to charmstrings (for which I have a separate charmstring museum blog). I was editor of and a contributing writer for the Massachusetts State Button Society Bulletin, a 42-44 page annual publication, for 10 years. When I resigned this year no one stepped up to take my place so the Bulletin is no more. Kelly manages the website where any future articles can be uploaded. I'm a Director of MSBS and have been the Secretary for a number of years in the past. I've been the Treasurer of the local button club, Crescent Club since 2007. I was a member of RWA for a few years but didn't renew this year. I'm currently a member of Artworks|Westfield.

Authors who have influenced my writing include Charles Dickens (Miss Haversham=haunting tale), Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes), Alexander Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo- the ultimate revenge book).

Currently I read (and this is directly from my little black book where I list all the books by each author I have in my library)- Carol McCleary, Jennie Bentley (cozy Fixer-Uppers), Stefanie Pintoff, Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries), Jonathan L. Howard (OMG! Johannes Cabal, Necromancer- Kelly and I are addicted!), Alan Bradley (Flavia novels), Linda Castillo, Andrew Martin (RR detective novels), Kylie Logan cozies), Sarah Graves, Amanda Stevens (Graveyard Queen series), Darynda Jones (Charlie Davidson/Reyes Farrow series), Claude Izner, Casey Daniels, C.S. Harris (Sebastian St. Cyr), Kevin Hearne (druid novels), Judy Clemens (grim reaper series), Tessa Harris, Charles Palliser, Christine Trent, Erin Kelly.

This is me- reader/writer/mother/medical secretary/wife/other people's neighbor/friend and worrywart. I can write about who I am and what I do, but when it comes to talking about it in front of people...well, I'm really not sure I'll have much of anything to say.

Unless I talk about the ghosts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Weird Sounds in the Woods

I am very familiar with the hoots of the great horned owl, barred owl and screech owls that inhabit our woods. Tonight while lying on the bed writing in my journal there have been a series of loud noises that could be a different type of owl, but have an almost eerie animal quality to them. I've really never heard anything like it in all the years I've lived up here (since 1973).

This is the type of thing scary stories are derived from- unknown, unidentified strange noises emanating from the dark wood on a chilly autumn night.

The sound has moved away deeper into the woods.

For all I know, it could be a werewolf!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Back To Writing

Now that the health crisis with Riley Beans is resolved I can concentrate on writing again.

I was at a party for staff where I work Saturday night when Kristina asked me what was going on with Romney and Ivy. I had given her a few pages of my first attempt at book two in the series about a month ago. I told her I had trashed that beginning and restarted the second novel after deciding I needed to write this one now instead of in November as my NaNo novel writing challenge. I have another book in mind to write in November.

Kristina was shocked that I had trashed the dramatic first chapter. I assured her there was another start with a bang first chapter already written with several more chapters following in its wake. I'm currently 16.063 words into the sequel. I printed out 32 pages that I'll give her tomorrow because she can be an advance reader for me and let me know if she finds any continuity errors or whatever.

Tonight after dinner after a weekend of mostly running errands and doing household chores with a little novel writing thrown in and a few hours spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the party, I sat down at 7:30PM and wrote the first of this year's annual haunting tales. About a week or so ago I'd written a horror story that I thought might be a haunted tale, but I really am not comfortable writing gory stuff so I filed it.

Tonight's story about a fifteen-year old girl who has to take her three younger half brothers (10, 8 and 6 years old) out trick or treating around the neighborhood, is more along the line of the supernatural/suspenseful tales I pen for Halloween for family and friends. What happens to them is unsettling, to say the least! No gore, no horror...just suspense and the unfamiliar appearing in one's familiar neighborhood.

Feeling like I'm back on track!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Improvement but Not 100% Yet

Riley Beans began acting more like his old self last night after several weeks of being practically invisible, not eating well and not drinking water. We put him on a grain free diet, wet food, limited dry food and are offering him a second source of water apart from the bowl near his food dish. He even amazed me this evening and let me groom him with a brush I found in the desk drawer that had probably belonged to Jason back in 2006. Beans has never sat still to be brushed before so I was pretty amazed when he allowed me to groom him head to tip of his tail, and even his belly fur!

His vet, Dr. Moss called to check on him today. Although he is eating and drinking fluids again, he has not had a bowel movement in two days, so she said to keep an eye on him and bring him in on Monday to be reassessed if nothing is happening in the litter box.

So, while he's acting like his old self and seems happy, he still has intestinal issues. Keeping our fingers crossed his new feeding and watering regiment will help, plus the Laxatone every other day to move the hairballs through his digestive system.

Meanwhile, after a warmer than expected day a cool front has moved in with gusty breezes! Feels good! Will be an awesome sleeping night!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Near Miss

Last night I attended an Artworks meeting downtown. After the meeting which adjourned about 9:06PM I dropped a friend off at her home, also downtown, then headed home to the north side of Westfield. I had two choices after leaving my friend's house- I could go right and get on route 20 and go home that way, or go left, head to Elm Street, cross the bridge and either go up North Elm to Holyoke Road, or take Union Street to Springdale to Dry Bridge to Holyoke Road to East Mountain Road. I chose to go left.

I had no problems as traffic was fairly light from Union Street on. I reached the stop sign at the end of Holyoke Road at one of Westfield's more dangerous intersections because there is the Pioneer Valley RR overpass to the left with extremely poor visibility for any vehicles coming from the left. There are also the two Mass Turnpike overpasses directly behind the PVRR underpass. I am always super cautious when attempting a left turn onto East Mountain Road from the end of Hoyoke Road. I'm also super cautious when coming up to the stop sign just past the PVRR when traveling south on East Mountain Road because the Lane Construction big haulers SELDOM stop for that stop sign at the end of Holyoke Road because I guess it's too difficult to apply the brakes and obey traffic rules when you come to a stop sign. (But that's another issue)

I looked in both directions twice and saw no cars, nor headlights approaching in either direction, so slowly began to pull ahead, and still I saw no lights coming through the underpass. I started to cross the road and suddenly a car came flying through the underpass at a minimum of 40MPH, but I'm thinking they were going maybe 50MPH, which isn't unusual, and blew through the stop sign, swerving onto the other side of the road to miss me by mere inches.

It happened so fast that I don't know how I managed to stop. If I hadn't caught that rapidly approaching glow from the corner of my eye and slammed on the brakes I'd have been broadsided at the driver's door and probably killed at the speed that car was traveling.

I must have a Guardian Angel with super fast reflexes...and for that I'm truly grateful! Still here today to continue with things I want to accomplish in my life!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Riley Beans is Sick

My five-year old long-haired grey and white kitty, Riley Beans, the sweetest little guy in the world, is sick. We had him at the vet's last night for fluids, blood work and an x-ray. He's always had bowel issues as well as dental issues. He was labeled a "chronic" when we adopted him from the rescue shelter but we took him home anyway to give him the best possible life we could. When faced with having ALL his teeth pulled at six months old due to juvenile gingivital hyperplasia we took him home to think about that. A little fella with NO teeth was just not sitting well with us, but we had to make a decision because his gums were growing over his teeth and absorbing them. Something needed to be done.

His incredible vet did his own thinking and decided to try laser gum surgery on Riley before sending him to the vet dentist for full mouth dental extractions. He was willing to take a risk by lasering the gums back and pulling the few damaged teeth, and seeing what happened from there. The vet told us he would either outgrow the condition or eventually have to have his teeth pulled when his gums got inflamed and grew back over his teeth. We took him home and he's had annual dental cleanings and care and he's only had to have two other teeth pulled since then.

But he's always had chronic constipation and slow motility in his intestines. He's long-haired so he's also had his share of hairballs. It's only in the past month that his condition has worsened. He's lost over two pounds and is not passing much if any stool. We were given Laxatone, but trying to get him to take it has been no picnic. He's not eating or drinking. We should have taken him for another fluid bolus this evening but my husband scared him half to death and he hid under the king sized bed and would not come out. I'm not a happy camper this evening. Feeling incredibly stressed right now.

I will run him over to the vet in the morning for fluids if he doesn't get scared under the bed again. It's getting to the point where additional vet care is critical. I guess I am the only responsible person in this house and will have to do this by myself.

Please keep little Riley Beans in your thoughts...he's very sick right now.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fat Boy...oh, dear!

Revere has been stress eating since John lost his job back near the end of February. He was 16 pounds and now I'm afraid to put him on the scale.

John has begun calling him FB for Fat Boy.

The reality of Revi's weight gain came to a head this morning when he walked from the bed onto my bedside table, a normal thing for him to do as he's waiting for me to reach over to hit the snooze button so he can swat my hand.

Only this morning, for some unknown reason, he jumped down into the corner, a kind of tight, small square area between the bedside table, the corner where the heat ducts meet and John's tall chest of drawers. There is a very narrow space between them that even skinny pin Riley Beans cannot fit through.

All I heard was a very soft, very humiliated, "Mew?"

This is not normal for usually very vocal Revere so I immediately threw aside the blanket, gt up and put on my glasses thinking he was sick. I really couldn't tell lying down where that soft, plaintive mew had come from. But as soon as I had my glasses on I saw him moving around in that little space, trying to figure out how to get out. There are a few things stored in that space so he didn't have the room to leap up onto the bed side table, plus the clock is there, and the cordless phone in its cradle.

I looked at him, he looked at me. I said, "Buddy, you need to go on a diet." He looked away because, of course, cat's can be embarrassed at times, and he certainly was that due to his predicament.

I had to pull the bedside table out and aside but there is just a narrow path up that side of the bed. He had to suck in his gut to squeeze through the widened gap I made for him. I then put the table back in place and laid down.

He jumped up onto the bed with dust bunnies clinging to his black fur, and stood with one paw on my chest as I plucked them off of him. He was purring, happy that I cared enough to get out of bed and rescue him when he was in such dire straits.

Of course as soon as Kelly got up I had to tell her what had happened to her cat!

He's now officially on a diet...not liking it, but he'll be a happier, healthier cat for it.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

My Top 10 Creepy, Scary Things

#10  Ticks/ Spiders
#9    A Senior Citizen behind the wheel of a Buick
#8    Airplanes
#7    Public Toilets
#6    People who are TOO perky
#5    Tunnels that you can't see the ends of (behind or ahead of you)
#4    Mirrors
#3    Eggs
#2    Politicians
#1    Scarecrows/ Clowns

Also rans for the list-  Enclosed spaces
                                    Power Tools
                                    Cat hoarders
                                    Teenaged Parents
                                    Tap Water
                                    Albino Pigs

And now I will go and work on this year's haunting tale

Thursday, September 15, 2016

As Autumn Approaches

As autumn rapidly approaches now that the heat and humidity of summer have abated (although the drought remains), it's time to think about my annual haunting tale with Halloween and All Soul's Night looming in the future.

Last year about this time we were on vacation in Maine and two stories were written- Prince Cyrus and We're Friends, Right?

This year I have a lot more on my mind with my husband still out of work and trying to find a new job, and Riley Beans not doing well healthwise. I also have a lot of things on my calendar whereas last year I had nothing pending.

My life has changed somewhat over the past year, but not drastically. I'm busier at work because the need for health care never ceases but the insurance rules and regulations constantly shift and change, and become more restrictive. I'm constantly looking for ways to get people what they need while insurances are constantly looking for ways to get the cheapest product paid for- and as anyone knows, cheap does not guarantee quality. It often means the quality is lacking, which is why it is cheap. When people are sick, hurting or in need of medical supplies they don't want something that's going to fall apart and fail them, yet that's what their insurance, that they pay for, wants them to have. It's very frustrating.

I'll jump off my health care sucks in this country soap box because that's not what this blog is about.

I'm turning my thoughts toward the annual haunting tale, or tales- depending on time constraints. This year there seems to be a demand for ghost stories. I started one last night about a young girl who begins to realize that she is seeing ghosts- people her parents cannot see. We'll see where that goes.

Meanwhile, I've put a little more polish on McCleary's Haunt in preparation for October 29ths Ghost Stories event and sent it off for inclusion in an anthology that will be printed to coincide with that event.

I also have my book reading/discussion and book signing for Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I coming up on October 8th. This book is a collection of 6 of my favorite haunting tales from years past. I've gone through and highlighted passages I might read. It's the talking about myself part that I'll find most difficult as I really haven't got a lot to say about myself. I've always been a private person, low key, easy going and quiet, even among my friends. I'm not J.D. Salinger reclusive but I'm not one to go around trying to get people's attention either. I need to find a comfort zone for sharing anything about my life, which includes encounters with ghosts and bad spirits and a poltergeist. I've also had one profound past life experience that happened when I was very young and very sick with scarlet fever. Those experiences come out in my writing, not in day to day conversations!

So, after this weekend's button show, and a Monday evening visit to the vet with Riley Beans I'll be buckling down to get the new haunting tales written. I never know what's going to emerge...Prince Cyrus was an unsettling surprise last year. I'm still not ready to discuss that one yet!!

Ah- good morning to the crow who comes and talks to me from the lowest branch of the oak tree just off the deck every morning and evening after dinner- looking for a piece of bread or whatever is around. He must listen for the back door to open. Crows are not stupid birds by any means!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Can Feel It Coming in the Air...

This week is seriously bringing to mind Phil Collins' song In The Air Tonight. I definitely can feel it in the air tonight, and all day today, and more or less every day this week so far. There is a shifting and shimmering that takes place as the full moon approaches. People begin acting differently, and odd things happen. This week there has been a spate of deaths, and weird emotional upheavals all around me.

Emotional earthquakes.

The full moon is Friday night, I believe. I can hardly wait until next week!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Supporting Local Authors

Since the Bookclub Bookstore and More has opened here in Westfield, MA back around the end of June this year I have tried to attend as many local author book readings and signings as possible to show my support of the literary arts in western MA and the surrounding area.

This weekend was unprecedented as there were three events beginning on Friday evening that I wanted to attend.

The first was an author event featuring Dan Hayden for his novel The Game Warden, based on his experiences as a game warden in Connecticut. Kelly had purchased the book the Sunday prior to the event and had been reading it and wanted him to sign it for her. We both don't get home until after 5PM and the event began at 5:30PM. I also have to eat on schedule and take my oral diabetes medication at dinner time, so, we had to hurry up and eat dinner before hurrying downtown. We were about an hour late but he graciously welcomed us and continued his talk until about ten past seven. He had some wonderful stories to relate about hunters, fishermen and use of the Connecticut River and posted No Hunting land by people who disregard the rules. After his talk and the question and answer session he happily signed Kelly's book. The most intriguing aspect of his presentation was when he pulled out the computer printout manuscript of his forthcoming second book in the Game Warden series all marked up and stickered with Post-it notes as he's gone through doing various edits (he claims to have read his own work 26 times through already, and I don't doubt that he has!) The other thing that caught my attention was his reaching into his messenger bag and pulling out a vintage copy of a Little Golden Book, Smokey The Bear, which is the book that got him thinking about becoming a game warden all those years ago when the forest ranger rescued Smokey. We'll definitely be attending his second book signing when his new book is published and available in the future!

On Saturday I packed up four books in my backpack, and two additional books to gift to the author I went downtown to see at eleven in the morning. I had met Gerald McFarland at the READLocal author book signing event at the Agawam Public Library at the end of June. I bought his book, A Scattered People at that event and he'd signed it for me at that time. I'd gone online to find copies of The Counterfeit Man, a true crime novel set in the late 1800's, and Inside Greenwich Village, a history of that area of New York City. Last Wednesday afternoon while poking around int he bookstore I picked p copies of his fiction novels The Brujo's Way and What The Owl Saw. These novels are set in old Santa Fe. It was wonderful to walk into the bookstore and be so warmly greated by this wonderful author, who then introduced me to his charming wife Dorothy and their maid who was very friendly and chatted with me while I was waiting for Gerald to be free to sign my books after his readings, book discussion, and the question and answer session. Gerald has already bought two of my books, and I gifted him two more. He's also told me he will be at my book talk and signing on October 8th to show his support of my writing. Listening to this intelligent man speak was amazing. He brought history to life through the westward journeys of his ancestors, ordinary folk who lived in extraordinary times as the country burgeoned with population increases and expansions. He downplayed the connections to John Brown, the abolitionist, to concentrate on the ordinary people in his family tree and their struggles hardships as they journeyed from Massachusetts and Connecticut to California from the 1600's to the 1800's. I'm looking forward to seeing him again next month!

This morning I decked out in a touch of Manhattan swag to attend the second booking signing I've gone to for author Melissa Volker who was celebrating the launch of her new collection of vignettes, Still Life, a collection of echoes. I'd first met Melissa on July 16th at the bookstore when I attended her book reading/discussion and signing for her novel Delilah of Sunhats and Swans. Melissa is a vibrant speaker (she was an actress at one time) who draws the listener into the world she has created in her books. Her use of words and language evoke images and emotions that can be quite lyrical and haunting. She happily greeted her fan following and recognized me from the July author event. I truly enjoy listening to her, reading her stories, and hope she has a third book out in the near future! It was a fun event but unfortunately I couldn't stay due to other things going on today.

I think there are a couple more events I want to try to attend before my own author event there on October 8th. I learn something new every time I go, and have met some interesting people atr the same time.

I strongly encourage people to read local and support local authors. The big names who are already established have the power of their publisher and huge fan base behind them and tend to dwarf the self published and independent authors who work just as hard and have voices that deserve to be heard as well. Some of us choose to remain local and low key for various personal reasons.

If there is a local author event in your town please go. You just may find a book that will sweep you away into another world, an interesting person who just may live in your own community, and a brief respite from the ordinary.

Let your imagination soar- Read Local!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Drought's Toll

We've had a drought this summer. The weather has been hot and humid or just plain scorching. The brook behind the house is bone dry. The lawn is toast. Flower wilted on the vine on the fence. Crops are less plentiful and the usual summer bounty is scant and smaller in size, tougher in texture due to the lack of water.

Today John and I took a drive north to Deerfield, MA. We noticed leaves are already yellow or brown on a number of trees along that route. On East Mountain Road there is a scarlet branch hanging near the roadside. I have a feeling the leaves will wither and drop sooner than normal this year.

We went to Williamsburg afterwards and again saw nothing but signs of dryness.

Tonight on the news they showed a reporter standing in a reservoir that normally would be twenty feet in depth, well above his head. There was water that amounted to the size of a large puddle int he reservoir. This is out near Worcester where they do not serve water in restaurants right now, unless a patron requests it due to water bans that have been put into place.

Ashley & McLean Reservoirs on the other side of the mountain from us are the lowest that I remember seeing them in decades.

It's all very alarming when you stop to consider that we all use water on a daily basis, we all consume water to survive. I'm not just talking about people. I'm talking about the wildlife, and the fish struggling to survive with such low water levels.

I'm trying to use less water on a daily basis, and I hope other people are conserving water as well. We need to do this right now. If you're wasting water then think about this- you're wasting water that could save someone else's life, that could sustain your family and friends. Your little oasis of green you call your lawn will come back when we get some rain. Grass is a weed, after all. Weeds survive.

Will you?

Friday, September 9, 2016

I'm Still Me

This is the thing I was leery of when I started self publishing my books- people not quite knowing how to treat me because suddenly I wasn't who they thought I was. Well, I am still the person they thought I was. I haven't changed. I was writing before (for a long, long time),but just not talking about it or sharing the fact, except with family and really close friends.

Nothing about me has changed.

Yet people don't quite seem to know what to say to me or how to act around me.

Honestly, I'm still me. I haven't changed any. If you were my friend before, you're still my friend today.

If you've just met me, then this is exactly who I am. I'm generally a quiet person. I listen to everything and seldom say much. I've always been an observer. I can be sitting in a room with you, listening to you talk, but my mind runs on multiple tracks so I am also observing your body language, your gestures, facial expressions and what you're wearing, filing all that away in a mental filing cabinet where I can pull out bits and pieces to create a fictional character using those descriptive tidbits I've gleaned. I'm also observing my surroundings for the same reason. I like to write realistic details, about places, rooms, settings where real people might find themselves. I'm also thinking about work, stuff I need to do at home, the next chapter I need to write, and I'm also watching the background people walking past the windows and doorways. It's not that I'm not paying attention to you, I am, but my brain works on many levels simultaneously.

And that's why it's difficult for me to unwind and relax at the end of the day. I have a complex brain that needs to be slowed down and derailed onto the siding called rest/sleep. Most nights I can accomplish this, but there are other nights there is just too much going on in my head and I have to get up and do something- write, distracted myself cleaning the dining room table off, or whatever until I'm tired enough to sleep.

But that's just me. The same old me I was before I started publishing the mountain of material I've written during all those years before you knew I was a writer.

I love my family. I love hanging out with my dearest friends. I like meeting new people (okay, don't be weirded out, but new people to me are like specimens I can study under a microscope because although we're all human beings, we all have a variety of characteristics and quirks, eccentricities and habits that make us rather unique and identifiable). I look for things I can flesh out a fictional character with to make that character more real, like someone the reader might know, or might know someone who shares that trait.

So, while I'm now an author, I was actually always an author. It's not something new except in the sense that now you know it when others have always known it. I've always been what I am.

Therefore, I just wanted to be treated like you always have, because I'm still me. It's just your perception of me has changed.

This must be one of those things like Murphy's Law.(The minute someone learns you do something they didn't know you did they suddenly look at you differently and don't know how to act around you.)


It's just me.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Anonymous Today

Today was a family mental health day. John has been out of work now since February 24th and has been feeling discouraged and glum. Kelly has been working hard at her new position at UTAS and volunteering at the CT Trolley Museum on weekends. I've been running myself ragged at work where things have picked up since summer vacations are about over. So Kelly and I both took a vacation day today.

This morning she and John went to Brimfield to do some antiquing. I stayed home because my RA is still flaring and I just can't do that much walking anymore. So while they were off having fun I tackled some more cleaning in the living room and dining room, did a huge load of laundry, put together some things for the MSBS auction on the 17th, did up a little promotional poster for my author event on October 8th here in town, caught up on balancing the checkbook and did a little reading.

They were home for lunch and after eating we all went to New Hartford CT to do a little more antiquing. I found a book on the architecture of Northampton MA that has a picture of my favorite house- a Second Empire mansion at 289 Elm Street. It's the house I based my novel The Fairlawn Investigation in the Ghost Chasers series on. That house has been my favorite since I was a little girl.
Kelly found two walking sticks- one with a carved seal head, the other with a silver-plated head, and a book to training railroad firemen from the 1800's. John doesn't collect anything but he likes to look at old stuff.

Now we're home relaxing, having dinner, just having some quiet time. Tonight is a hair cut night for me.

Back to work tomorrow to catch up before the weekend. Looking forward to a week off later this year, but not sure when...late October? Early November?

Life is crazy when you can't even figure out when you can take a vacation!!


Monday, September 5, 2016

Oh, You're a Writer/Author

I was chatting with an author friend the other morning. We were talking about our families and friends, and acquaintances, how easily a writer/author can be dismissed for people who have more interesting careers, like auto mechanic, woodworker, insurance salesman, public defender. Hardly anyone but another writer wants to sit around and talk about writing. We were wondering why this was and came to the conclusion that writing is a rather unfathomable process to a non-writer. There is an internal engine that generates stories, churning these stories through a writer's thought processes. There is a physical process of transferring these stories from the brain to the method of expression- be it a handwritten page, a typed page, a computer word processor page. This is all done in a usually solitary manner, unless it is a collaborative effort.

For the most part human beings are social animals. They find writers who seclude themselves to write and may not communicate with family and friends for days or weeks on end, a highly peculiar and suspect breed of creature.

When a writer sits around with family and friends they are more apt to sit there listening because writer's are good listeners. They listen to the rhythm of speech, the words used, how a story is orally related. They listen for the natural pauses, the unnatural pauses. This is all material for future use, perhaps. Names and places may be changed but what goes into the ear flows into the brain where it sits in a vast storage facility called Memory. A writer can wander into Memory at any time to pick and choose choice little bits and pieces to weave into the fabric of a story.

This is what people who don't write cannot understand. There is no parts bin, no shelf in the store you can pick something off of to use in an artistic endeavor. Everything a writer does is generated within the brain- and yes, the brain can be a scary place! It's under utilized by everyone in the world. But some of us were born with the ability to navigate it's twists and turns, tap into it's gray matter where vocabulary and grammar can be plucked like flowers and arranged to create verbal images.

There are some people who can simply enjoy the product a writer produces. Then there are some people who need to disparage writers, scoff at them, say, "Oh, that's not so hard, writing a book! Anyone can write a book!" So, why aren't you writing a book? It's easy, right?


Sometimes you just need to connect with another writer and vent a little before going back to the computer and getting back to work.

Yes, W-O-R-K.

Friday, September 2, 2016

An Unpleasant Night

I woke up about 3AM, which is normal for me- the witching hour. The windows were open last night now that the heat and humidity have cleared out for the time being.

The house reeked! At first I thought someone was burning tires and garbage, but then I realized that it was very potent, very pungent skunks! Eww! Beans was sitting on the cedar chest looking out the driveway side window. Revere was in the back window, also watching something. Kelly's room is at the front of the house and even she complained about the strong odor of skunk this morning that permeated the whole house.

John's complaint was the worst of the lot though- he uses a CPAP and the odor of skunk permeated his mask! Yuck! Now that makes for an even more miserable night of smelly sleep!