Friday, April 4, 2014

Light Surprise

Sometimes we get stuck in a stuffy, dark tunnel in our daily life. I haven't blogged in a while because my brain just closed in, leaving me with nothing to say. It wasn't the usual suspects like bad weather or poor health or family weirdness. I think it's discouragement.

It's easy to get in a downward spiral when your professional train runs off the track. Since writing is such a solitary vocation, there really isn't anyone else to blame when things aren't working for you. And once you're off in the weeds and rocks, it's harder and more unlikely you'll drag your train back on the track.

I've spent some time this week taking care of professional paperwork. One of the things I did was analyze my sales for 2013. They're down, of course. When it's been a while since you've had a new release, naturally the sales drop on your older books. And my last release with this particular publisher was...a while ago.

Our perceptions of how we're doing is often no where near the truth, but I was quite shocked when I finished wading through the royalty statements. It turns out the two books I'd pretty much figured were my worst sellers were actually the top two. Hmph. How did that happen?

There's never any conversation or reviews or flash about either of them. No one posts things like, "I loved this book!" when I put up excerpts or post the covers. And yet, they both are quietly selling at a steady pace.

Strange.

Anyway, in an odd way, that new reality perked me up. As did, flipping through the various 'bibles', skimming through the notes and plans I've jotted down in the past for series, both active and future. I found myself wondering how I wandered off the path, getting lost in the murky undergrowth of life. When did I give up?

In the past couple days, I've noticed a light in the distance, a far off glimmer of hope and interest in the darkness. It seems there's a light at the end of the tunnel, after all.

anny

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Musings



1. I never open e-mails from authors trying to sell their books. Never. Ditto blog hops, writing services, crafts, crystals, life readings, etc. To my way of thinking e-mails are letters, reserved for personal communication.

2. If I really like a book, I will re-read it at least once every year. If it's part of a series, I'll re-read the entire series every year (or when the newest book is released). I love finding a book I can re-read.

3. I never click on the links for books, gizmos, clothing, blah, blah, blah sold on Amazon, B&N, etc., etc. I also rarely have to deal with virus attacks. Wonder if there's a connection...

4. I 'unfollow' any individual who posts pictures of abused animals, children, adults, etc. Post a link to the article and I'll decide if I want to read it. But children can see my newsfeed and I don't believe they need to look at such pictures. I often wonder why folks post such things. Usually, there's very little accomplished in the end.

5. I skip over all political links. About 90% of them are false or so slanted it's nearly impossible to determine the truth. If you have an opinion, state it clearly with supporting evidence.

6. I wish there was a course or cheat sheet or something that explained the whys and wherefores of writing a blurb. Really. Shouldn't I be able to catch a glimpse at the story? Maybe be able to tell whether it's a comedy or mystery or horror? I wish folks would just say, "Read my book. It is a mystery set in Podunk Holler. Murder and mayhem abound."

7. Why do so many book covers have headless people on them? Naked hairless chests? Overflowing, out-of-period gowns? People in their underwear? Actually, why do we have people on the covers at all?

8. Do women ever think about how impersonal and objectifying naked/nearly naked pictures of young men are? I find most of them vaguely embarrassing...kind of like looking at someone young enough to be my grandson. I get the whole someone-paid-them-money to take their picture, but really...

9. Why do people post weather/news updates without any information regarding location? "Shooting at Roosevelt HS!" Hello, there must be thousands of Roosevelt High Schools. What city or state? "Twelve inches of snow on the ground!" Where? You know...a general area...California...Texas...Canada. It makes a difference.

10. I almost deleted this post because it's mostly belly-achin' cause it's MONDAY. Feel free to ignore it. Or add your own beef...





Friday, March 21, 2014

Dragon Creating

It's been a while since I mentioned my struggles with taming my new dragon, George. Technically, George is a fine, fine dragon. The problem is with my memory difficulties.

Writing--the act of creation--is a slow process at best. Backing up, changing your mind, choosing a different phrase or word from your initial one, rearranging the sentence structure...all of that is part and parcel of the writing process.

Then you add in an entirely different set of skills when you use voice-to-text software. A simple sentence such as ' "Take the ball and run across the field," Rachel shouted. ' becomes something like:

New paragraph.
Open quote.
Capitalize.
Take the ball and run across the field
Comma.
Close quote.
Capitalize.
Rachel shouted
Period.

First of all, I have a LOT of trouble remembering the commands. Second of all, remembering to speak the commands while trying to remember what I want to actually CREATE is...a very slow process for me. And frustrating.

I haven't given up. But I suspect it's going to be a while before I smooth the process out so it's worthwhile to use. This is for ME, for my personal drawbacks. For an individual whose memory is good, I suspect things would be different.

In the meantime, I found this review today and thought I would just tack that one here for the curious. Click on the caps below!

Dragon Review

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Take the Flowered Cane

Some folks are blessed with excellent physical health. And then there are others...who aren't. For about half the days in any given month, my hip vigorously protests when I climb up and down stairs or walk for any distance. On half of those days, the knee also complains. After falling several times when the knee or hip decided to quit working, I was afraid I would do some serious permanent damage.

For a long time, I just didn't walk. Then I discovered I could complete a walk if I used a cane. Sigh. That cane made me feel old. Never mind I was already hobbling around like an ancient old goat. I could still tell myself I wasn't in that bad of shape. Somehow, using the cane made me face up to reality--and I wasn't ready for that.

One day when the hunk and I were in Wal-Mart I saw a cane covered in flowers. Over his protest that I didn't NEED another cane, I bought it. And the next day, I took it for a test run. And you know? I didn't feel so old. Having a stylish accessory for my walk made it all different. I find I don't mind walking when I have my fancy flowery cane.

Maybe I'll look around for one with a dragon's head...

anny

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Once Upon a Time

I think of time as a series of traveling tubes we zip through passing each other on our way to unknown destinations. Some events--or rather the possibilities of those events--might come our way more than once. Or not.

Reading is one of the events with multiple opportunities. Depending on where we are in life, we may (or may not) enjoy a particular book--even a much anticipated book. Then later, at a different time in our life, even a few weeks or months later, the story might have great meaning or solace for us.

I think that's why I re-read books. Sometimes, that old favorite has something especially important to tell me. Sometimes, it makes all the difference in how I'm dealing with a particular issue in my life. No, I'm not talking about self-help or non-fiction books. I'm speaking about the wide world of fiction. Mystery, romance, westerns, suspense. A good story has something to say, regardless of genre.

We just aren't always ready to hear what's there. Hence, re-reading the story later.

Recently, I re-read a story I first read nearly forty years ago. At that time, I desperately needed the humor and hope the story gave to me. It made all the difference in my life. When I re-read it more recently, it was a mildly amusing book, but didn't carry the same punch it did before. And that's quite okay. That just means I'm in a much better place now than then. I still enjoyed the shenanigans of the characters, but now see them from the perspective of a different age and experience.

Quite a few years ago, a woman reviewed one of my books. She prefaced her review, almost apologetically, by explaining she was bored and not feeling well so she'd chosen to read my book as a nightcap. When she finished her scathing review, she gave it two stars. Small wonder my story didn't speak to her on any level!

I often wonder about reviewers' lives and how they're affected by their personal issues when they review a book. Of course, we all know they're supposed to be objective, but that's plainly impossible. All of us are influenced by the events surrounding us. That's pretty much why I discount the opinions of others when it comes to movies, television shows, books--even art.

Let each of us experience it on our own. And if it speaks to us, let that be enough.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Things Our Parents Said

When we were small, our parents had a list of things they said--over and over. As kids, we scratched our heads and wondered how they could possibly make sense. As adults, we KNEW they didn't make sense, but that was life.

My favorite was "Always wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident." Now, if the accident was that bad, the medical staff isn't going to worry about whether my underwear is clean or not. After watching a lot of TV shows, I know the chances are high that someone is going to cut my underwear OFF--and in that case, it's not going to matter if they're clean, colored, lacy, or in good repair. Maybe my parents should have said, "Don't wear your best underwear in case you're in an accident." 'Cause you know...they might get cut up or bloody.

Another one I never could figure out was "Eat all the food on your plate because people are starving in China (Africa, South America, etc.)" Here's my question--how does my stuffing my face help those starving people? Wouldn't they be better off if I sent them my food? Especially if it was boiled okra or brussel sprouts or calf brains or any of those other yummy things my parents were urging us to eat?

Then there was that old chestnut, "Children should be seen, but not heard." I believe this was supposed to refer to making sure we were well behaved. However, I always wondered why we were there in the first place. It's not like we were particularly decorative or anything. I would think they would want us to go outside and play so we could make all the noise we wanted to.

And there were rules...lots of rules. Like "Don't take second helpings until everyone at the table has taken first helpings." What if someone didn't ever take a first helping? What if they didn't like whatever it was...say chocolate cake or banana pudding? Then what? Were we supposed to just wait until our mom cleaned the table and put it away? How were we supposed to get a second helping then?

Or what about the one, "Don't reach across the table." Uh-huh. You could wait forever for someone to pass the biscuits--especially because you had to observe the second rule, "Don't interrupt the adults when they're talking (and you know they never shut up)."

Girls had it particularly tough. "Always sit with your knees touching." "Never wear patten leather shoes." "Don't wear colored underwear under a white shirt or pants." Actually, only really fast girls wore colored underwear. Everyone knew the GOOD girls only wore white...and sometimes beige. And if you wore red or black underwear, you were going straight to H-E-double hockey sticks.

I wonder what my kids puzzled over when I was in mother mode. Were the things I said as confusing to them? Or is this a rite of passage all kids go through as they're growing up? 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Color Magic

The color of winter is gray. Sometimes, when it snows the gray is brightened up a bit, but mostly when we think of winter, we mentally see shades of gray.

All the other seasons are explosions of color. In the spring there are tender bits of bright green, brilliant pinks and yellows and purples with the occasional spike of blue or red. Then summer strolls in with the riot of bright vegetables and fruits with the fiery reds, glossy greens and deep, deep purples.

By the time fall arrives, we're embracing the crispy pumpkins and apple scents and homey shades of oranges and reds. Our surroundings take on a carnival atmosphere.

Then winter creeps in. And the world goes shadowy gray.

That's when I haul out my gaudiest, most colorful clothing. One of my daughters really loves grays, beiges, forest greens and rarely wears anything bright. Not me. I only own a couple things that are beige. All my other clothes, down to my underwear and socks, are bright splashes of color.

People comment about me matching my socks and shirts. Little do they know my undies match, too. And why? Because color pushes away all the gray that surrounds me. Color brings spring and summer and fall into my life when winter is outside.

Feeling blah and down? Try dressing in something bright and playful. Don't save your colors for spring. Put them on now and liven your life.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Boobie Check

Today was my six month follow-up mammogram. Naturally, it was snowing so we left home early. And for once, they took me in immediately.

Any woman who's been there knows the drill...strip everything above the waist and put on a gown--open in the front. As I tugged the gown closed, the tech called my name so we went right in--no time to sit around and think of bad possibilities.

The area they're keeping an eye on is high up, even with my arm pit. Just imagine trying to squeeze that area in the smasher unit! It took three tries, but eventually, the tech smushed and stretched and squeezed it all in, including the bits under my arm.

Then she said, "Okay, don't get dressed yet. Wait out there until the doctor looks at the x-rays." And the waiting was...endless. At that moment, whether you're single or married, young or old, you're all alone. You have time to wonder if this is going to be the time when the news is not good? Is this the point when your life changes?

Eventually, she came out and said, "Nothing has changed. That's good! Come back to see us in six months."

And you start breathing again.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Winners

Well, the Olympics is finally over. There were winners that medaled--and then there were those who didn't, but showed up and did their best. They worked, they gave their all, and some came THAT close to receiving a medal.

In my book, the real winners were those who came, who performed to the best of their ability, and then cheered on their fellow competitors. The losers? Those were the folks who bitched and moaned and griped about how their non-medaling performances were someone else's fault.

You know who they were. We should hand out awards to the whiners...the 'my suit slowed me down', and 'the judges cheated', and, and the 'it was only a tenth of a second'! Every Olympics is riddled with less than heroic athletes who can't face their own short-comings.

I want to give hugs to the gold medalist who waited at the finish line until the very last skier finished the race so he could offer them a hug and handshake. Or the coach who provided a ski to the competitor on another team who lost his so he could finish the race. They are the winners.

Gold medals are a fleeting moment in time. Grace and generosity whether you win or lose--those are the things that count.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Interlude

Temps went up over the last few days. Today we had thunder on the right and pounding rain. Next week the temps will drop back into the deep freezer and we'll shiver in our blankets.

Everyone is moaning about spring. Folks, it's FEBRUARY. Winter. Not time for daffodils or crocuses or any of those other harbingers of spring. Depending on where you live, they'll show up in late March or even April.

While I admit I'm not a fan of twenty-inch snowfalls, a lot of the USA is suffering from drought. And cold temps help kill off bugs and pests so it's all good. There's a reason for the seasons. Every change is beneficial for our environment.

So. Enjoy the sunny breezes of this latest interlude. Take the opportunity to shovel some of the snow to the side. Open a window to air out the house or apartment. Be thankful for your blessings. And when the snow and cold returns, remember those flakes will bring beautiful flowers when spring arrives.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kung Fu Life

Life is one big struggle. But I will persevere! Hah!

Nothing can beat me. Not even itty-bitty needles, the lack of cookies and ice cream, or having to eat plain yogurt!

Bring it on, I say! Bring it on!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Empty Boxcars

It's Tuesday. Seems like a Monday because yesterday was one of those useless holidays only celebrated by frantic car dealers and furniture stores and folks who like to sleep late. The banks were closed, the postal workers stayed home, and the government was shut down (but that's the normal state for the government).

The hunk and I plan to go to the grocery store in search of healthy things to eat. I believe it will be a long search ending in futility, but I'll spend some time walking around, so that's always a positive.

I have discovered no one is willing to deal in specifics regarding food plans when it comes down to it. After spending several days trolling the depths of the Internet in search of a simple "eat this much of that" plan, I've given up.

So I'm compiling my own plan. We'll see how it goes this week. The weather is also supposed to be warmer this week so I should be able to walk more without taking my life in my hands on slippery walks.

As my reward later today I'll download the new 'in Death' book by Nora Robers/J.D. Robb and savor the next installment of Roarke and Eve.

That's it for today...