I Got Nothin’ ….

I’ve been trying for two days to think of something to blog on and I’m coming up blank.  But a professional author NEVER misses a deadline, do they?  *Cough-cough*  So, I’m just going to throw myself out there and damn the torpedos!

Have you ever wondered why so many NYT bestselling authors are skinny?  I’m not the first to ask.  Gloria Harchar was the first to bring it up.  And it makes me wonder…would I sell better if I lost some weight?  Hmmmm…

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of people who don’t read?  We already know what goes on in the mind of people who write.  A constant stew of voices, plots, and character births.  I’m assuming that the minds of readers have at least some of the same stuff floating around, though not from a writing point of view, but rather the impact of the last great or lousy book they read.  But if you never read, what do you think about…?  Bank statements and grocery lists?

Have you ever wondered what REALLY lures a reader to pick up a particular title?  I’ve heard several theories; book covers, back blurbs, word of mouth, etc.  But why can’t there be a definitive answer?  I mean, it’s not like we haven’t had mass market books for close to a century.  And our culture pays thousands of dollars researching the smallest thing.  How come no one has researched how people read?

And last, but not least, how come after all these years, no one can pack a jar of olives so the ones on the bottom come out easily?

See?  I told you.  I got nothin’!  Oh, well, it keeps me out of the pool halls.

No Chickens Allowed

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

I’m going on a little rant here and I hope you’ll come along with me. Are you as tired as I am about hearing how the world is coming to an end?  I’m not talking about the Mayan calendar prediction and 2012.  I’m talking about the publishing world.

It seems like every blog I read these days, each email that comes across some ‘loop’ I subscribe to mourn the fall of this publisher or that publisher. People wring their hands because the book store on the corner is going out of business and the one at the mall is too.  And if you listen to these same bloggers, pre-published writers should chuck their laptops out the window and keep their day jobs. According to these agents and editors ‘in the know’, aspiring authors don’t stand a chance in the Hades of landing a contract because nobody is taking a chance on writers who aren’t established.

If I paid attention to all these agents of doom and editors of Armageddon, I’d never write another word. I’d throw away all my ambition and dreams. Instead, I’ve started tuning them out. I don’t read their blogs and I delete the emails. Not because I’m an ostrich with my head in the sand, but because I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

Yes, the publishing world is changing. Yes, times are tough and competition is fierce. But that doesn’t make ‘getting the call’ impossible or improbable, just a little harder. Who’s kidding who? It was never easy in the first place!  If it was easy, everybody and their dog would write for Avon, Harlequin, Silhouette, etc. etc.

We’re living in ‘interesting times’, no doubt about it. As writers, we have to be flexible and open to all kinds of alternative ways of getting published. Those who stay focused and maintain a positive attitude will make their dreams come true.

It’s not the Chicken Little outlook that gets you where you want to go. It’s the Little Engine That Could momentum that drives you up and over life’s humps and bumps.

Don’t chicken out.

Not So Knee-dy Anymore

At the time I’m writing this, it’s late Sunday night and I’m about ready to head for bed. At the time  you’re reading it, I’m hopefully resting comfortably in a hospital bed with a steady supply of narcotics. Life is/will be good. 😉

Last week I went to a joint class, where I was by far the youngest patient in the room. Wish my knee had lasted as long as the other four people’s. The nurse who ran the class talked to us a while, then took us to the 4th floor, where our rooms are just down the hall from the OR and the gym. We met the physical and occupational therapists we’ll be working with and learned some exercises. Did I mention there were cookies? Cookies make everything better, you know.

The next day I was scheduled for pre-op. A nice British guy bled me dry — nine tubes?? for what?? — and I got x-rayed and weighed and poked and prodded. (I’d’ve given them another tube or two of blood if we could have skipped the weigh-in!) The nurse asked me what my pain level was at that moment and I told her five. Later, she said that post-op, I should call for drugs when my pain level reached four.

Wait a minute. Last week I’m walking around at a five and can’t take even aspirin or Motrin, and next week I can get narcotics when I’m in less pain?! Somehow doesn’t seem fair.

The pre-op nurse also gave me my incentive spirometer and a bottle of Betadine for a 10-minute scrub the night before surgery. That doesn’t sound like a lot, I know, but when my nephew was in the NICU last year and we had to scrub for three minutes before going in, it felt like forever. Apparently, I’m not the only one with a bad sense of time, because she said I had to use a timer.

So . . . I now have a new knee. (At least, in your “now.”) I’m probably thinking those therapists don’t seem so sweet now and wondering if I can just mainline the drugs. Or I may be having a heck of a good time.

Because maybe there’ll be cookies.

Writers Are Teachers, Too!

No, I’m not talking about how an experienced author can teach a newbie.  Nor how a quilting expert can pass along pearls of wisdom that make a book more realistic.  I’m talking about the things a reader can learn from books…even fiction.

In Robert Heinlein’s TUNNEL IN THE SKY, a group of high school seniors are taking a survival course.  Their final exam is to be dumped on an unknown planet with only the equipment they can carry in a backpack.  Somehow, they are “lost” for a few years and have to survive more than expected.  From this book, I learned a lot of survival skills, including how humans react when their “world” has a catastrophic change.  I also learned that it’s not always the more technologically advanced person who survives.

Books are also a great way to “visit” other countries and cultures…as long as the writer is accurate.  One of my favorite authors was Betty Neels.  She was an English nurse who married a Dutchman after WWII and most of her books were set in British or Dutch hospitals,  One thing that always amazed me (besides the different spellings) was that on the day of surgery, all the patients got a “cuppa” tea before the procedure.  In America, you can’t have anything to eat or drink for at least six hours ahead of time.  I thought the Brits practice “old-fashioned” nursing until I met some nurses from England and asked them.  They confirmed the practice and we had a fine time comparing the differences in nursing practices around the world.

A bit of my philosophy in life was formed by authors I read when I was younger.  My early SF days formed my belief that Man MUST go into space as a species or perish.  In my “rebellious” period, back in the ‘60’s, I lived by John Galt’s creed in Ayn Rand’s ATLAS SHRUGGED.  “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”  Well, it made more sense when I didn’t know any better.

You get the point, though.  Fiction writers don’t just entertain; they teach.  How many battered women have found the courage to leave an abusive relationship from reading a romance?  Who has been lured to a far-off country after reading about it in a book?  Shoot, I’ve even gotten a few good recipes from some authors who “share” the character’s world famous recipe.

So, fellow authors, proudly wear your other hat.  Never let it be said that we are “just” writers.  We challenge the mind, explore the far reaches of the universe, mold society’s destiny…and get paid the big bucks for it also.  Right!


As some of you may have noticed I’ve been AWOL this week. I haven’t commented on the Sluts blog or even on my own Scary Mondays site. (http://lynnsomervillefiction.wordpress.com/) This promises to be a very short post, and not one of my most eloquent.  Last week I wrote about change, how it’s coming whether we embrace it or not. Well this week my DH and I experienced a very welcome change – the birth of our second grandson, Carter.

My Boys

I’ve been out-of-town helping to care for both my 14 month old grandson, Joseph, as well as helping out with laundry, meals, bedtime, etc, etc.  As I write this to post on Friday, it’s Thursday night, I’ve been gone for seven days, and I’m back home, happy but exhausted.  There’s a reason people have babies when they’re young…they  need the energy.

These are the cutest little guys (if I do say so myself).  I was thrilled to help out and play grandma this past week.  I had the added pleasure of watching my DS and DDIL. They’re so in love and so blessed.  They got their real life happily-everafter …and then some.

Going Diving!

Sounds more exciting than it is, for me at least, since I don’t dive. We’re picking up the kiddo and the grandkiddo in an hour or so and heading to Lake Tenkiller so they can dive while the baby and I entertain each other. I thought about taking my netbook and MiFi so I could work, but who wants to work at the lake on a beautiful sunny day? (Mind you, right now it’s grayish and breezy and looks like yesterday’s wonderful rain might be hanging right around the corner, but I’m a positive thinker: it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day.)

Maybe I’ll get some ideas while Cam and I play, or maybe my brain will just totally shut down. Either way, the day will be good for refilling my creative well.

I just hope there are flush toilets!

Always Something New

Every now and then, I go on a reading binge.  (No, judging contests doesn’t count!)  It usually occurs when I read the latest book in a favorite series and when that particular book is better than average.  It makes me want to go back and “discover” them all over again.

Recently, I did that with the Eve Dallas books by J.D. Robb.  It started off as a romance and is more of a “family” epic now.  I feel the same way about the Dragonriders of Pern series and the Stephanie Plum books.  It’s great falling in love with a series of books, but in my case, it sometimes leads to “reading too fast”.  That leads to missing some salient points.

I’ve re-read the entire Eve Dallas series three or four times and it was only this time that I learned exactly who killed Roarke’s father.  On the other hand, it’s stuff like that that keeps me re-reading the older books.  Sometimes, because I’m in a different place in my life, the books read different.  Or maybe, I have a different mood.

And it’s not just series that do that to me.  Certain authors also send me back to their backlists.  Betty Neals, Janet Louise Roberts, Elise Lee, Marilyn Pappano…these are all authors who, every now and then I get such a craving for, I can’t read any new books on my towering TBR pile.  I HAVE to go back to good times, good folks.

That’s the kind of author I want to grow up to be.  The kind of author who not only brings a lot of enjoyment with each new book, but deliver the stories readers just can’t stand to sell off on E-Bay.  So for those who might say (like my brother…the non-reader!) “Why do you keep all those old books around when you’ve already read them?”,  I answer, “Because when I re-read them, there’s always something new.”

Like a Bottle Rocket

While waiting for my dive buddy, I flipped through one of those small weekly magazines that come with our newspaper. Inside was an article about a 61-year-old (THIN) woman who has maintained her same weight for the last 44 years. The gist of the article was to inspire other older people (so, are you talking about me?) to stay in shape.

BAAAZZZIIIINGGGGG! Off like a bottle rocket went my Offend Meter. I was so blazing over the slant of this article that I dashed off four –front and back– pages of rebuttal on a legal pad.  In fact after two full days, I’m still angry. I’m battling weight/self-image/acceptance/age/hormones (take your pick of which one is most important), and articles like this do NOT inspire me.    Duh!

Like the romance novels of old always had the waif-like heroine with a heart-shaped face, and large eyes. (Reminds me of a bug.) The hero always tall, built like Adonis, fabulously wealthy, never had bad breath, swept her off her feet.  If you don’t count my size before the age of ten, I haven’t been swept off my feet and carried any distance. Certainly not up any stairs and onto a bed. (My son has picked me up only because I told him he couldn’t. My high school sweetie–he was a football player also lifted me off the ground, but he was also a football player. The grunts and groans weren’t inspiring! And it hurt.)

How can I relate to a heroine who doesn’t have meat on her bones? Who has to be rescued by the hero?  I can’t. Just like I can’t relate the woman in the article. But then again, maybe I should thank her for getting my writing hackles up.

Change, Change, and More Change

Whether we like it or not, things change. Just about the time we get in a groove, Life throws us a curve, a fast ball, and sometimes a change-up.  And like the weather, some people complain about change. Some roll with it.

It’s been hellishly hot in Oklahoma. Yet in a matter of weeks, the leaves will change from green to gold. Not long from now, we’ll be grousing about the traffic around the mall and singing SILENT NIGHT.   Then before you know it, the daffodils will rise again.

My husband and I bought a turn-table at Best Buy yesterday so we can digitalize our old vinyl albums.  Does anyone out there remember when Led Zeppelin was new and there was no “classic” rock?   Thanks to iPhones and iPads, iPods and MP3s, Kindles and Nooks, the world’s gone mobile and electronic.  

And speaking of mobile, last week my daughter got her driver’s license. This morning, I found a dozen new grey hairs.  In a week, my youngest son will be a freshman in high school.  One of these days, I’ll have an empty nest. Then look out Lowe’s, here I come.

Some change is welcome. I’ve lost sixty pounds, and thanks to Zumba, lord knows how many inches.  Now my butt doesn’t sag…as much as it used to. 🙂  For a change, I can actually look in a mirror and not wince.  

So yeah, change is good.

Where Does My Time Go?!?

I’m very good at some of what I do and sucky at other stuff, but the absolute worst thing for me is time management. It’s amazing that I ever get anything done. My memory is riddled with holes so I often forget what I’m supposed to do, and the rest of my brain is overstuffed with ridiculous trivia that no one ever actually needs to know. I’m as easily distracted as a two-month-old, so when I’m, say, cleaning the house (ROFLOL), I’ll be working in the kitchen, go to put up something in the bathroom, notice that the mirror is dusty, start to clean it, realize I need window cleaner in the kitchen, see the hamper overflowing in the laundry room, start sorting that, head back to the bathroom to get the stain remover stick, remember I forgot to get the window cleaner, notice all the pupper hair swirling around my feet and get the vacuum instead . . .

You get the idea. Happens all the time.

Add in the fact that I’m basically lazy, and you can see my problem.

Last night my plan was to tape off the section of floor I’m painting, put a coat of glaze on it, paint my metal garden snail yellow, eat dinner, write this blog and go to bed. Then my sister called and asked if I could go out to our mom’s house to paint. Back home from there at 9:15, crick in my neck, both shoulders and both knees aching, covered with flecks of white paint. Ate. Went to bed. No taping, no glazing, no snail-painting, no blog. Not even a shower first. Blog? Last thing on my mind until I got online just now and came to this page. I snorted, thinking, “Whoever’s turn it is today is late.” Then I remembered: it’s MY turn.

Everyone I know in the world except my husband is way better organized than me. So tell me, guys, what are your secrets?