Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Apocalypse World

Post apocalypse... I've been working on a story, a post apocalypse-after the plague story. It's hard to decide what will be around after the apocalypse. Or rather, it's hard to convey that without spending a lot of time saying, "That's not available anymore." Well...not actually using those words.

But if there's no one to run the factories, no one to keep the water, power, refineries running, and no one to drive the food/supplies to the stores... Then, what will the world be like? I figure it will pretty much resemble early colonial America except we no longer have the necessary skills to survive.

Seriously. How many people know how to successfully garden--without running down to the Lowes or Home Depot? And how many people know they need to use heritage seeds because the other kind (which is almost the only kind sold in the stores) won't yield plants you can save the seeds for the next year? We've moved so far from producing our own food most people would starve.

I read an entry on a comment line about hunting..."These people should get their food at the store like everyone else instead of killing animals for food." Um, where do you suppose this individual thinks the meat at the grocery store comes from? Factories? Hmmmm. Maybe they aren't far wrong.

When I was growing up, my mother sewed all my clothes. Now there are far fewer women skilled at sewing--especially with needle and thread. Many people throw clothing out, rather than repair it.

And food preservation was another skill my mother and grandmother had. Every summer and fall, our kitchen was redolent with the scents from canning the fruits and veggies from the garden. Does anyone can anymore? I bet the percentage is very, very small.

So many skills have been lost. I suspect the most popular post-apocalypse people will be hunters and historical re-enactors, with a dash of geeks tossed in there. The geeks that know something about solar power might be especially popular.

What will that post-apocalyptic world be like? I don't know. Here are a few ways for even the least survival minded individual to prepare.

1) Visit your bookstore. Buy a couple well-rounded books on survival, hunting, edible plants, and old-timey crafts such as canning, sewing, etc. Read the books. Heck, even spend some time trying out stuff. Acquire some skills. Remember, the internet would likely not be around.

2) Take a first aid course. Know how to take care of yourself and others around you.

3) Observe the world around you. Look at your space. What could you use in a post-apocalyptic world? What would be mere trash? How important will that microwave or television or computer be when there's no power?

4) Look at your personal space from a self-defense perspective. What would you need to do to make it safe? I read one article that speculated it would only take a loss of one quarter of the population to bring everything to a halt...government, police, fire, economy. Think about what you would do.

I don't advocate packing up and going to the woods in case a disaster might come along. I do advocate spending a little time considering the possibility. And maybe, just maybe thinking about how to survive.

After all...who knows what tomorrow will bring?


Friday, May 27, 2011

Up, Up and Away!

Some dreams require compromise. Or taking an alternate route. Many years ago when I was in my twenties, I wanted to be a writer. At the time I had four children, worked nights at McDonalds, went to school full-time, and was stone cold broke.

Setting aside such issues as time and privacy to write, I also didn't have the money for such essentials as paper, typewriter ribbons and postage. So the dream waited on the back burner while I dealt with life.

Time passed. My twenties turned into my thirties. We moved two thousand miles to the other side of the country and were poorer for it. I worked nights in a warehouse so the family could eat. We acquired a Commodore computer and I learned how to use DOS so I could write during the day.

In my late thirties, the warehouse shut down and moved to Tennessee, leaving me unemployed. Instead, I went to school to learn how to be an Administrative Assistant and I found a new job. Went back to college. And struggled to rear four teenagers while the house hunk worked six hours away, only making it home every three or four weekends.

And I scribbled in between work, job, and full-time school, finally graduating in my forties. By then, some of my children were adults. One married and had a child...and promptly moved back home. And life went on.

When I reached my fifties, I had a house full of children, grandchildren, dogs, cats...well, certainly no quiet there. And not much money. You might say I was just too darn tired to write.

And then the house hunk was transferred again--just after we paid off our mortgage. We moved to a new state as empty nesters and tried to adjust. For six months I tried to figure out what I was supposed to be doing with all my free time. At my son's suggestion (actually it was more of a plea) I sat down at my brand new computer and began to write the story that had rumbled around in my head for thirty years.

When I finished, it was two hundred thousand plus words. I loved it. That's when I discovered it was about a hundred and fifty thousand words too long. And after reading the submission guidelines for several small publishers, several big publishers, several medium publishers, I discovered my story had a bunch of other issues.

The internet was fairly new, but I researched, oh yes, I did. I spent hours analyzing what I needed to do to prepare my fabulous book for submission. I spent more weeks and months, cannibalizing my book to produce a story that would meet the guidelines.

I didn't know any other writers. I didn't actually know anyone who read. But I read articles about writing and re-did my story until I couldn't think of anything else to do to it.

Then came the day when I decided I wasn't getting any younger and I submitted it to a publisher. I researched my best options, settled on an e-publisher that was the top of the heap, and blithely sent my story off. One author asked why I sent it to the publisher with the toughest guidelines. In my naivete, I thought why not? Wasn't my story fabulous? Hadn't I been writing for thirty years?

So off it went.

About six weeks later, I received an e-mail asking me to send the complete manuscript. And about six weeks after that, I was offered a contract for Dancer's Delight. I was on my way to completing my dream.

As I look back on it now, I view my absolute self-confidence with disbelief. Perhaps that is what saved me that first year as a published author. The longer I am in this game, the less confidence I have. I'm more aware of my short-comings as a writer.

Yet, I wouldn't change anything. I still hone my writing skills, still work to improve my stories, still try to learn from every editing experience and every review. My dream isn't exactly how I thought it would be. Publishing has changed so radically, I suspect that dream is long dead and gone.

Readers, real people, total strangers buy my books and read them. And they write letters to me. Me! I still find that amazing! As I work on book twenty one, I shake my head. My dream came true.

I took the long way around, but I made it.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Ephemeral~~lasting a very short time; short-lived

If one enduring observation can be made in the aftermath of the tornadoes and floods, it's this--in the best of circumstances possessions are ephemeral. Survival is what counts.

I know some would ask what right I have to say that when I'm sitting here comfortable in my home. But I've been there. I pretty much lost everything I owned and my mother. If I had the power to change things, I would have gladly given it all up to have my mother back.

That's not the way things work. We don't get choices like that in life. Instead, we face an insurmountable task urged on only because of those around us who did survive the disaster. They're the ones who keep us going.

As I watched the videos from the Oklahoma tornadoes, one elderly woman looked around at the devastation and smiled. Then she said, "We survived. Somehow we survived."

In my lifetime I have faced certain death--and survived. The shock and surprise are so overwhelming you just don't know how to deal with it. In that crystalline instant when you realize you did not die, your life changes forever. You are never the same. In that split second you know deep inside what really matters is life.

My heart goes out to the survivors in these disasters. There is grief and loss and heartache there. But the human spirit just won't give up. Somehow we demonstrate the very best of who we are in the midst of chaos and loss.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Made up Words

One of my author friends, Amarinda, has a word she uses a lot... pukeable. No, it's not in a dictionary, but I expect it will be some day. That's how we add new words to our language. We make them up and then use them--frequently. Other people pick up on them and start to use them, too. And before you know it, it's a valid word.

In the course of writing my books, I've made up a lot of words--about three hundred, so far. No doubt there will be many, many more. But compared to Shakespeare, I'm a mere piker. He added 1700 words to the English language. Think about a world without such words as bloody, critical, sanctimonious, suspicious, radiance, and amazement. Why, we would have to make them up!

Most people know he's the source of such phrases as to thine own self be true and neither a borrower nor a lender be, but how about eat out of house and home? Or green-eyed monster, foregone conclusion, and fair play?

Children are especially good at making up words until we insist they use the "correct" word. Then they rebel as teens by using their own language--a language that often ends up adding words to our vocabulary!

In my Mystic Valley series there are a lot of new words--so many there is a glossary at the beginning of the book--though readers tell me they never need to use it. My favorite word from the glossary? Cisme (pronounced kiss-me) ~~female genitalia. Personally, I like it much better than the available alternatives.

What are some of your favorite made up words? Who is the source? And why do you like them?


Friday, May 20, 2011


I grew up in a Southern Baptist home. Cut my teeth on fiery sermons about the Rapture and Armageddon. You might say this current fury over the Rapture should be right up my alley. You might say that, but don't.

I'm one of those people who actually has read the Bible. More than once. In Matthew 24:36 it says, "But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Now, to me that means no one knows... including the gentleman causing all the media hoopla.

I believe it's up to each one of us to decide what sort of personal faith we live by. Every time there's a big to-do in the world over religion, it nearly always is because some charismatic individual has attracted a lot of people who would rather have someone to tell them what to do than decide for themselves. That's sad. Many of them end up entrusting their lives, their families, even their savings to charlatans. 

Like I said, what people believe is up to them. But I was reared to be more respectful than folks seem to be now days. I never make fun of someone's faith. I expect people to treat my beliefs with respect, also. I'm deeply saddened at the jeering and parties planned and the backlash against those Christians who quietly live their faith without fanfare and media coverage.

Not all Christians are judgmental and intolerant, any more than all Muslims are terrorists or all Jews are greedy or all Pagans worship the devil. Stereotypes are hurtful. Such stereotypes are more damaging than outright violence because they're so insidious and pervasive in our society.

Here's what I'm asking for: a little respect. Consider exactly who you're ridiculing before the laughter starts. Who's your target? One person or an entire group? And how will you feel when you're a part of the target group? 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. That's what I want.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rewrite, rewrite...

Anny's definition of rewrites: Starting the book over. Or major revisions of more than six consecutive pages.

I don't often rewrite once I've started a book, but I have done so a couple times. I'm what's known as a clean writer (no, get your mind out of the gutter) because I tidy up my work as I go. I tend to be a bit OCD about spelling errors, punctuation, and the odd missing word.

That's not to say there aren't huge plot holes big enough to drive a trailer through. Plot holes might require major revisions so I try to avoid them if at all possible.

And continuity issues (heroine is wearing skirt at beginning of scene in restaurant, but complains about how tight her jeans are in same scene) are relatively rare for me. I am capable of holding a mass of unrelated details in my brain while writing. Just don't ask me to remember where I put my keys or watch.

Now where was I going with this thought...oh, yeah. Rewrites. I confess I just don't get the idea of rewrites--in general. I'm not talking about gentle tweaks here and there. (See definition above.) It's the massive revisions some authors mention/complain about. Working on fifth round rewrites...should be done with this round in three weeks.

No. At that point the book would be deleted, merely a bad memory. I avoid that by invoking time. If the story is not working, I set it aside and work on something else. Hence the usual three or four works in progress I have running. When one isn't working, it goes on the back burner for two or three weeks (or in one case, two years). When I get to it again, I'm able to read it with a fresh eye and decide what the problem is.

In the meantime, I've maintained productivity by working on something else while the old brain has simmered a raft of possible ideas. I find as I get older, it takes longer for full-fledged ideas to bubble to the top.

I think the thing that puzzles me the most is the sheer futility of working, working, working on a story that isn't cooperating! Why? Why not set it aside and put all that effort into something productive?

Several authors have declared they can't possibly work on more than one story at a time. Okay. My style is not for everyone. But if that one story is not working, why not move on? I suppose I just feel my time is too limited to spend it working on a story that's not going anywhere.

What about you? What's your working style--and why?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quality Control

Over the last six weeks I've read a LOT of books. Mostly new books but also a sprinkling of older ones. The older ones were usually the early ones in a series since I always re-read a series when I buy a new series book.

Over all about 90% of the new stuff was crap. It really saddens me to say that, especially as most of those books were written by authors I've considered "keepers". But it also angers me because I'm in the publishing world and therefore I know how it works.

Spelling errors, grammar and punctuation mistakes, and general idiot mistakes shouldn't happen. I'm not talking about plot or character issues here. I'm pointing to very basic technical aspects of writing. The kind of mistakes I'm discussing here should not happen ever--not because of an editor or critique partner or beta reader--but because the writer checked his/her work.

I cringe every time a writing professional uses peal (a bell sound) for peel (the outer skin on a fruit). Or shutter (window covering) for shudder (shiver or tremble). Not too long ago I discussed the issue of wrong word/spelled right with a fellow writer. She excused it by saying she didn't learn the difference in school.


Are we or are we not writers? Wordsmiths? Is that not our profession? Then how can we say "oh, well" and shrug indifferently before we move on? Buy a dictionary and learn how to use it!

Where is the pride in workmanship in a book/blog/e-mail/blog comment that is riddled with errors and misspelled words? I freely confess that I'm a judgmental witch when it comes to deciding whether or not I will buy a book from an author who cannot write a simple error free e-mail or blog comment. Sorry.

In all the numerous discussions I've read, blame for a poorly written book is always dumped on the editor. Nope. Authors need to man-up or woman-up. That name on the front cover is yours. Responsibility for the text between the covers is yours. If you don't give a damn, why should anyone (including your mother or best friend) spend their hard-earned money on your book?

And since I'm having a rant...

If you don't have a story to tell, then don't copy your last book, change the names to protect the innocent, and then try to sell it to me as a new book. Don't put seventeen sex scenes in the book and hope I won't notice there's not any story to hold them together. And don't wrap up the entire non-existent plot in the last paragraph, hoping that I won't notice.

Lest you, the gentle reader, believe I think I'm better than other writers let me just share my thoughts on that. In the last three months I've taken the time to re-read every single published book I've written. As I read I made notes where I had questions, errors or continuity issues. Out of twenty books, I judge seventeen were the best work I was capable of at the time they were published.

Have I learned more about my craft? Yes. And with every new book hopefully I incorporate what I've learned. That's my goal. That's my motto. I want every book I write to be the best I can write at that time.

So I confess there were three books I fell far short of my goal. If I could I would re-write them. Revise them. Work until I produced something that made me proud to have my name on it. Since that's beyond me right now, all I can do is go forward.

I look for that same attitude in the writers that I read. If a writer demonstrates their lack of responsibility or workmanship, then I move on. The world is full of books for me to read and life is short.

I once bemoaned disappointing royalty numbers in an e-mail to a very dear friend. She sensibly smacked me up the side of the head and pointed out those numbers reflected people who spent hard-earned dollars on my book! They could have as easily bought someone else's book.

For every single person who has invested in me, I say THANK YOU, from my heart.

Rant over...


Monday, May 16, 2011


Downtime. A standard question on author interviews is "What do you do when you're not writing?" I find it interesting that few writers actually answer the question. Some joke around or snort and point out there isn't any non-writing time, but most don't admit to doing anything except writing.

That can't be right. If all authors did was write, there would be no shortage of books. Really.

They may be sitting in front of a computer. They may even be typing. But I'm pretty sure that writing isn't what is happening. While necessary to the furthering of careers (though that can't exactly be true because Mark Twain didn't have facebook, twitter, or e-mail) most hours spent in front of the computer are for promo--not writing.

Entertaining as facebook or twitter might be, they aren't very good for the heart or body. I have to confess crocheting and calligraphy aren't either. So what do I do when I'm not writing?

The spousal unit and I go shopping. Not "buy the store out" shopping. It's mostly window shopping. We park waaaaaay out at the end of the parking lot, walk to the store, and then walk around and around and around inside the store. When we're tired, we pick up one or two items we need and then we walk back out to the end of the parking lot.

We also play Wii bowling. Three or four games at lunch time. and another three or four at dinner time. Aside from the standing aspect, competition is good for the soul. And someday I might even be able to beat my grandchildren when we go for a visit. It's soooo pitiful when your four-year-old great grandson can beat you at bowling.
Laundry and dishes are good to keep the old ticker beating. Walking around the parking lot is good. Swimming is good. All of those are within my physical capabilities.

But after all that exciting exercise, I need something calming and soothing. Something to help me relax. My chosen activity is reading. From things other authors have posted on facebook and twitter and even shared with me personally, I don't think writers read enough. 

The power of the written word isn't only for readers--those nebulous people out there that read our books. It's important for us, the writers, to be readers, too. That's how we refresh our souls and minds. Reading engages our imagination.

Everyday I set aside thirty minutes to read about something new. Over the weekend I learned about the history of the saddle horn and how to use a tinderbox. Did you know there really is such a thing as a tinderbox? I didn't. I've read books that have described the use of such an item, but the writers never actually referred to it with that name.

And saddle horns weren't part of the western saddle until the 1830's. English saddles don't have a saddle horn. So my book--set in 1829--should not have saddles with saddle horns. I read several articles about how saddles are made and all about the history of saddles. I was amazed at the work involved. Did you know a saddle should be fitted to a specific horse? I didn't know that either.

I also read several articles on women's rights, two pieces on poisons, and another long article on quilting. (Just in passing, there's no safe way to induce vomiting and if you're poisoned, throwing up might not be the best way to go.) As I read, story ideas kept pinging my brain. Ping, ping, ping...

The other kind of reading I like to do is the news from small towns. A lot of small town newspapers are on the internet now. When you read those you get a renewed sense of what motivates people--what makes us run. Too often big city stories are buried under all the crime and violence. But small town stories about a son or daughter returning from college or military service, weddings, funerals, and that proud picture from the prom...those are the everyday stories of life.

Finally, I read books. You know, longer stories that take more than ten minutes to scan. I read all genres--except horror--because I just can't wrap my mind around that. I read authors I admire. Some I read because I love their way with words. Others I read because of the emotions they evoke. And some I read because they make me laugh. Whatever the reason, I read for refreshment. 

That's my downtime. What about you?


Friday, May 13, 2011

Writer's Blockage

Wouldn't it be nice if it was as easy as that? I have an idea it just might be. You see, I suspect writer's block is our body trying to tell us we need to do something other than veg out in front of the computer.

Maybe we need to go for a walk. Or do the laundry. Or do the grocery shopping. Or bake a cake. Something. Something other than sitting in front of the computer.

Oh, I know all about BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard.) BUT, I think that's not the main problem anymore. The main problem might be e-mail, facebook, blogs, games...even a good book. Anything except actual writing.

That's not writer's block. That's lack of discipline. Before you throw tomatoes at me and hotly contest the necessity of all those other things, just tell me--what percentage of your computer time is spent in writing?

I know about promo responsibilities. The thing is this--with no book, there's nothing to promo. Zip, zero, nada, zilch.

So think about that the next time you're tempted to check out facebook or twitter or your e-mail. Can you really spare the time? Really? Do you have your daily quota of writing done? Just what is your daily quota? Are you telling me you don't have a daily target?

Every writer should have a daily target. It doesn't have to be ridiculous. And of course, when life interferes, life interferes. But that target can help center the writer, giving them a focus and goal. I know writers that aim for 100 words a day. Everything over that is gravy. I know others who shoot for 1000 words a day. That's great. Whatever the target, it should be a daily target.

Why do you suppose that is? I believe we all work best on a daily schedule. When we do, we're not as likely to be overwhelmed. What's the difference between doing the dishes daily or doing them weekly? Aside from running out of dishes, the sheer magnitude of the job is daunting to say the least.

If your daily writing goal is 100 words (or 500 or 1000), you also have a sense of real accomplishment when you meet your goal. And you might even have an urge to continue on, to see where the story is taking you. Who knows? You might even end up with a 1000 words.

Tomorrow when you sit down to meet your daily target, you'll sit down with a refreshed attitude. That's what it's all about actually. Our attitude can be self defeating. Or it can be self motivating. Which would you rather have?


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Whenever I have reader chats, inevitably I get questions about when I'm going to write a book for so-and-so. And the answer? Maybe never.

Not all characters present their creator with a story. Actually, most of them don't. Or some of them nudge the writer with their story two or three years later. The character that speaks to multiple readers might be silent to the author.

I have a wishlist of characters my readers want stories for...a long wishlist. On one hand, that's a wonderful review of the characters I've created. On the other hand, not all characters will have their own story.

Sometimes I can give my readers a little bit by offering them glimpses of the character in a secondary capacity in a story. But as a reader myself, I know that isn't always satisfactory. When a secondary character grabs you by the throat and hangs on, you want to know what their story is! You demand it.

One of my all time favorite secondary characters is Cat in The Windflower by Laura London (Tom and Sharon Curtis). For many years I waited in vain for them to write Cat's story. A couple years back I finally read an interview in which they said they'd never planned to write Cat's story. So sad...

When my readers ask me about writing a story for a secondary character, I try to be honest and up-front with them. Some characters aren't speaking to me. Some aren't ready. And some may never be ready. That's reality.

Having said that...who knows? One of them could suddenly wake up and demand to have his or her story told. It's been known to happen.

So tell me. Who is the secondary character you want a story for? It doesn't have to be one of mine... Tell me why you want the story told.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vagaries of Promo

I'm signed up for RomantiCon, Ellora Cave's conference scheduled the end of September. For more info click HERE. Conferences and conventions always lead to thoughts about promo stuff. How much? What's the best? What works?

Truthfully, I suspect most of the items given away at such events end up in the round file. Paper products are especially vulnerable so book marks, trading cards, business cards, etc. usually are quickly discarded unless the reader is a collector of those specific items.

Magnets, pens, lip gloss and small items like them have a slightly longer shelf life, though pens are likely to be forgotten somewhere along the line. Of course, pens are what I call traveling promo. They change hands a lot so the exposure of an author's name is considerably wider than with other items.

I believe the promo item should be chosen for specific tasks. For instance, if I want to keep my name in front of one reader, then a magnet or mug will likely do the job. Magnets or items such as mugs or key chains are seldom immediately discarded.

However, if you want your name to spread over a wider circle of potential readers then you need a traveling item such as a pen, pencil, or a packet of sticky-notes or notepads. These items tend to travel from person to person.

I'm undecided about contests. Ultimately several people might enter the contest if the prize is sufficient. However, at the end of the day, only one person is the winner. Somehow, that doesn't seem quite fair.

There are other ways to spread the word about my books. Blogs, webpage, social media, and chats are just a few. I prefer something a more personal than a broadcast announcement about an upcoming book. Once a month I have a chat at Love Romances Cafe where I "chat" with readers (and authors) who show up. The authors post excerpts, but mostly we chat with our readers about whatever they would like to know.

Tonight (Tuesday) at 7 PM EST it this month's chat. Do you have a burning question you need answered? Or do you want to know what I'm working on now? Drop by and check it out. Heh. I'll offer you plenty of opportunities to ask questions. Check out the info in the upper right hand corner!

Or leave me a comment telling me what YOU would like to see as promo at a convention. I'm always interested to know what my readers are looking for!


Monday, May 9, 2011


 Spring! The sun is shining! The flowers are blooming! The trees have leaves popping out! And...it's allergy season with burning, teary eyes and wheezing breathing.

I never had allergies until I was past middle age. I remember sitting in my doctor's office with my eyes watering. He asked what the problem was.

"My eyes feel like I have boulders in them."
"Hmmm. Let's have a look."
"You're right. You do have boulders in them. Big pollen boulders."

He gave me eye drops (which I despise!) and sent me on my way. Since then I've added wheezing, sneezing, and coughing to my repertoire. Every spring is a positive symphony of aches and pains.

And yet, I still love the color and scents of spring. I just love it mostly from indoors. How about you? Anyone else having a tussle with spring?


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Waiting Room

I've arrived at the conclusion that doctor's waiting rooms are the most uncomfortable places in the world. An increasing number of them have televisions blaring--usually on a channel that features one of those "tell all your personal, private business" programs. If not, then it'll be set on the twenty-four hour news channel.

Inevitably, the room is either too hot or too cold. The exam room is always freezing. The bathrooms are down the hall, around the corner, and up a flight of stairs. You just know if you go to the bathroom, they'll call your name, skip you if you're not there to answer, and you'll end up waiting longer.

And the forms they ask you to fill out...am I the only one who wonders who designed them? One of the questions on the form I filled out yesterday asked about medications. They wanted the dosage and how long. How long what? How long have I taken medication for that particular condition? Or how long have I been on that dosage? What???

A few weeks ago I filled out a form at another doctor's office. The instructions for a list of conditions--Check all that apply. Apply to what? There was no explanation. Did they want to know if I've ever had these symptoms/conditions? Or if this was a recent problem? I'm sixty-one years old. That's plenty of time to have an entire raft of symptoms/conditions.

Eventually, they called my name, took me back to a tiny room and weighed and measured me. The technician instructed me to stand on the scale facing her. Was that so I didn't drop dead from shock when I saw the number? Ten more pounds. It was enough to make me consider walking out of there from the get-go.

But no. If I stuck it out, I'd be done for another year. So I removed my shirt and bra, slipped on the gown (open in the front) and joined my fellow sufferers in another small waiting room. And waited. And waited. And waited.

By then I needed to go to the bathroom again. You guessed it...down the hall, around the corner, up the stairs...and of course they called my name while I was gone. And then took four more patients before they called my name again.

By this point I was sweaty (very warm waiting room) and very conscious of how my unsupported boobs were sticking to my chest. Ugh. Stuffing the gown in the crease, I tried to...pat the skin dry.

The technician was a lively cheerful woman who chatted with me in a friendly manner while she pushed and pulled my boobs like they were so much silly putty before smushing them in the machine. "Hold your breath!" Beep, beep, beep. "Okay, you can breathe now."

Flatten 'em one direction. Flatten 'em the other direction. I'm having hot flashes and she's cheerfully smushing the boobs again.

Finally we're done.

Please. Let me out of here!

Until next time.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Things I Miss

There are some things I wish were still around. You know...like the telephone. Sorry. A cell phone is not a telephone. A cell phone is a collar and leash. Just when you believe you've escaped from the constant demands of the world around you, it rings, reminding you of your servitude.

In the old days when you walked away from home or the office, there was that zesty feel of freedom. Freedom! Nobody could reach you. Children made independent decisions based on the skills you'd taught them. Your co-workers actually had to think and act on their own. Bill collectors and importune friends were out of luck when you went shopping or heck...just for a walk.

I miss the telephone because you could attach a gizmo to the handset, perch it on your shoulder and get on with life. No plugs in the ears or craning your neck to hold the two-by-five-inch piece of crap next to your ear.

I miss the days before call waiting when the line was busy. If people wanted to talk to you they called back!

I miss the days when I didn't know all the personal business of total strangers. I didn't have to hear how Susie is pregnant and George is sleeping with that witch that lives next door. I didn't know that the lady next to me on the bus was dodging bill collectors or the man at the next table in the restaurant hasn't paid his rent in three months.

I miss the days when I could sit peacefully in a public restroom taking care of business without having to know all about how Tiffany isn't sure who the baby's father is.

I miss the days when the news media had a clue about classified and top secret. And I especially miss the days when the media didn't insist on sharing every single gory detail of every single crime they reported. There are some things I don't need to know.

I miss the days when underwear was worn beneath the outer wear and the only person who knew what color underwear you were wearing was your spouse or your mother. If you were old enough, not even your mother knew.

I miss the days when no one felt compelled to share the most intimate details of their lives on television. I miss the days when dignity and sobriety were the norm and drunkenness was something people were ashamed of. I miss the days when people didn't go to the store in their pajamas and robe. Heck, they didn't even go to the front porch to get their paper in the morning unless they were dressed.

I really miss the days when our fellow countrymen paid more than lip service to our flag and national anthem. You might remember...back when men removed their hats and people stood respectfully quiet or even actually singing! I miss the days when people were proud to be an American and showed it by displaying the flag every day instead of only when our country has suffered a trauma.

I miss the day when young people strived for decency and respect.

Yes, I know the past wasn't perfect. Neither is the present. And some days that is more apparent than other days.

Blessings on your day.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Media Bytes

By almost any scale, the last week of April was a gastronomical delight of media bytes. In an age when we rush from one Twitter to the next, believing we're in the know, this week was a superabundance of byte after byte after byte.

For the fashionistas, the wedding of at least the last two or three decades, complete with unimaginable pageantry and tradition was the most important story. Period. The bride was beautiful, the groom was handsome, and the fairytale atmosphere was exactly what thousands of little girls dreamed it would be.

For the disaster groupies, the terrible, terrible catastrophe of super tornadoes striking cities and country, leaving grief and destruction in their paths was a once in a century event. Death, loss, and terror stretched out over five days as storms and tornadoes wreaked havoc.

Those were the top two stories in the outer world. In Romancelandia though, the top story was about a quiet erotic romance writer. Her story was just the beginning of a firestorm that raged over social networks, blogs, newspapers, and television. What's up with that, you say? She's a teacher in her "daytime life"...an English teacher for twenty-five years and by all accounts an excellent one. A couple parents found out what her "parttime" job was and they took it upon themselves to "out" her, revealing her penname (or real name) depending on your view point.

All three stories were certainly newsworthy for different reasons. The media bytes revealed the pecking order for each story, though.

Wedding? Oh, yes. Coast-to-coast coverage from every possible angle. Absolutely. I don't begrudge the bridal couple their day. Quite frankly, they're going to pay for that with a lifetime of servitude and loss of privacy. I don't envy either of them the ride. I can't imagine living life under such an intense microscope where you're scrutinized every time you walk out your door.

Death-dealing tornadoes? Not so much. Over the course of the week I talked to people in other parts of the country that weren't even aware of the extent of the devastation. To people who've never lived in tornado country, a tornado is a tornado is a tornado. Many of them don't understand in fifteen minutes or less a tornado can pretty much turn a prosperous little town into a total wasteland that looks like a war zone.

As for the teacher/writer. Well, her colleagues turned out in force via the social media and backed her up. I'm proud of those who put up their hands to say this is wrong. I suspect there was a huge response because this fight was something people could do. It was something they felt capable of doing. After all, a tornado and the aftermath is beyond our capabilities, but this first amendment fight was not.

Ultimately, it might be the actual dissemination of information that determines response. We live in an age where we no longer expect detailed information and when a story requires more than 140 characters we turn away in boredom or irritation.

Well. Some stories are bigger than 140 characters. Some stories demand more than a perfunctory three minutes on the evening news. And now that newspapers aren't around anymore to disseminate in-depth news, where will we get the real deal?

No matter how accomplished we are as writers or  photographers or videographers, we need more than five minutes to convey the breath-taking pageantry of a royal wedding or the unimaginable horror of a EF5 tornado or the legal intricacies of how an author defends her career choice to the school board. We need more than a media byte.