Poking the Bear

Last week I bragged that I’d finished the latest manuscript and was about to put it in the mail to my editor. What, oh, what would I do with all the free time before I got eyebrows-deep in the next one?

Well, it rained Thursday. Poured on Friday. Deluged on Sunday. I went to the office Monday morning to take care of a few things before choosing from all the delights awaiting to fill my time, and I found that my office had flooded. Again.

After a couple of floods, last summer I dug a ditch along the two walls that got hit the hardest, angled the dirt and filled it with gravel, and that’s helped tremendously. I’m not sure anything short of a dam would have stopped the rain on Sunday — it was that hard.

So, after dithering “Shall I do this? Or shall I do that?“, I’ve spent most of the week cleaning, mopping, setting out what can be saved to dry and tossing what can’t. I’ve invested in a dehumidifier, which is doing a wonderful job of sucking the dampness out of the air, and I’ve also gotten around to some caulking that’s needed doing for ages.

(Did you know the slow, steady squeeze of a caulk gun isn’t much different from the touch you need decorating a cake with a pastry bag, but my caulking always looks lots better than my cakes?)

[On the other hand, my cakes always taste better than caulk. 😉 ]

So next time I finish a book, I’m not going to curse myself by saying, “Oh, boy, now I get to do whatever.” I won’t poke the bear. I’ll sigh forlornly and say, “Oh, dear, what do I have to do next?”

Please, Lord, don’t let it be cleaning up muddy water again.

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Tee-Shirts…philosophy for the New Age.

I’m a big fan of philosophy tee-shirts.  You know what I mean…the great ones that have everyone around you gawking at your boobs.  And I’m not talking about the “My folks went to Tahoe (fill in any place you want) and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” which I think you’ll agree was cute the first 100 times you saw it, but is way worn out now.  Unless I see one that says “My folks went to Mars and all I got was this lousy spacesuit.”

Anyway, I have a ton of them in my closet.  Like “Don’t meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketsup.” Or “Cats humor us because they know their ancestors ate ours.”  A lot of these shirts have a lot of truth behind their message.  How ’bout “I’m not a social drinker.  My drinking is work related.”?  I think we’ve all had jobs like that!  No matter your political party, bet you could wear “Politicians & Diapers need to be changed often…for the same reason.”

Tee-shirts often have a very serious purpose.  Think of all those printed up by family and friends of missing children.  Or to remind people of great causes like fighting cancer, supporting our troops,  or surviving disaster.  Some are just flat out funny like “Be the kind of woman what when your feet hit the floor each morning, the Devil says “Oh, crap! She’s up!”.  And I’ve recently seen a new one that I just may buy since it touches writing.  It simply says:  “There…Their…They’re not the same.

What has this to do with writing?  The people who think these up are a special group of writers because they can pack so much story or emotion or humor in such a small space.  I have to admit, sometimes I’m very jealous of their concise writing.  It’s brief, it’s sharp, and it’s profitable.  The only downside is that no one ever knows who comes out with these great blurbs.  And, I have to admit, I’m vain enough to want my name on my work.  So I guess I won’t be doing any tee-shirts soon.  But I’ll sure be wearing them as long as they come out as clever as they are.

Cliches and References

 I’ve been listening to a LOT of audio books lately–drive time to Mesquite is 45 minutes with NO traffic–and seriously, when has there not been any traffic in the DFW metroplex?  Some of the curious things I’ve noticed have been the use of references and, cough, clichés.  Our wonderful WS Marilyn has often told me that clichés are that way for a reason. But don’t beat the reader, or in my case, the listener, to death with them.  😉  References are good to a point, and like boxer-shorts seldom seen. I don’t want the character to tell me to ‘think Terminator’ when there is no reason to. Why?

One benefit of the audio books is when the writing is good, I’m in heaven while dealing with hellish traffic. And I’ve been known to miss an exit to keep the story going.

This and That

Okay, I’m late. Blame it on the weather. Since I’m not working, I don’t have to get up hours before dawn to make it to the office. And sleeping in to the sound of rain outside the window was just TOO inviting!

– Did everyone have a good Easter? I did. Attended church with my family 60 miles away, then had a nice dinner and visit. Right after we headed home the sky opened up. Only drove about 40 mph instead of the usual 65, but at least we didn’t hydroplane off the highway.

We didn’t get as much rain at my house, only 3 inches so far, as they did in Muskogee County. It’s still raining so who knows how much we’ll wind up with? But we needed it. Everyone did. Could do without the flooding some have, though.

– I had to buy a new printer. The old one finally bit the dust. Man, there are a lot to choose from. Auto paper feeds, fax, scan, photo friendly. You name it you can find a printer to handle it. I settled on a plain Jane Kodak.

– I finally found a place to hold our writers retreat. It’s amazing how fast places fill up. October is now a major Wedding month. Who knew? Anyway, thought we’d found a place a couple weeks ago, but (silly me) thought I had plenty of time to let them know. When I called back a week later, they were booked. Solid. {Well, shoot!} So I started browsing the Internet and finally found a place not far out of town. Without checking with the Board I reserved it on the spot, sight unseen. THEN I let them know what I’d done, hoping they wouldn’t fire me. (Yeah, um-hm. Like they’d do that. Hehe) They didn’t. 🙂

So today it’s on to more writing. Hey, it’s still raining so can’t do anything outside, anyway. No reason or excuse to NOT write!

How about you? What are you doing this nice dreary day?

We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This

Late, that is.

Marilyn here, huddled in the office listening to the awful brisk wind rattling the eaves and everything else. With my blinds closed, it looks dark and dreary out — like yesterday — and you’d swear it’s no more than 50 degrees, like yesterday. But it’s actually sunny and too warm for a jacket. Just blustery. Life on the hill.

Good news: I finished my next Harlequin Romantic Suspense!! A few changes, and it’s hitting the printer, then the post office. Yea!! We have a title now — Copper Lake Secrets — and a pub date: December ’11.

And now it’s on to the next one. There’s research to do, characters to name, enough plotting for the synopsis to satisfy my editor’s sharp requirements. And in the meantime, I have another idea for the one after this that’s rattling around in my brain.

It always makes me laugh when non-writers ask where my ideas come from. There’s so many in my head already that it’s no wonder I can’t remember things like what day it is or which bill I paid an hour ago. When I’m trying to chastise one of the five puppers, I just yell until the right name eventually comes out. (Funny. My mom used to do that to my sisters, nieces and me.)

I’d better get to those final changes before I forget what they are. Y’all have a great weekend and may you find lots of chocolate eggs in your basket!

What Is Courage Now?

The above is the title of a filk song I like.  Basically, it asks the question “When is courage really courage?”  In writing, I’m often faced with this question in my career.  I had to find my courage the first time I presented my pages to a critique group.  Again, when I sent that first finished manuscript to contest.  And, again to an editor.  But I’ve never had to face it more often than when I ask myself, “When are you going to quit your day job?”

When I have a couple of days like the past two…where I worked two over-time shifts without a break and it takes me until the evening the day after to recover enough to be able to even THINK of writing, my courage is as a lion.  Last night, as I drove home, I honest to God thought about calling my boss’ voice mail and leaving a message that I wouldn’t be coming back.  Of course, by the time I got home, I was too focused on getting to bed to follow through and in the light of the day, I faced my upcoming mortgage payment.

What happened to my courage?  All my life, I’ve had the value system taught to me by my parents.  When you have financial responsibilities, you took the best job you could to pay those debts.  And I’ve always stuck to this, especially when I was raising my children.  But I know other authors who once they had some sales, quit the day job and live on their writing.  They had mortgages (or rent), utility payments, and kids just like me.  I’ll admit a lot of them had husbands with jobs, but there were some just like me.  Where did they get that courage?

I never considered losing the security of my nursing career when my children were living at home, but what about when they were adults, out on their own?  Why couldn’t I downsize my living style and go part-time so I’d have more time to write.  Or take my courage in my hands and step off in the unknown and attempt to live totally on whatever I earned as a writer like Peggy Fielding?  What about now?  Am I being a responsible citizen, supporting myself or am I just to cowardly to take a chance at my age?

What is courage now…that I’m at the end of nursing career?  Should I take that chance now?  After all, what’s the worse that can happen?  I bet I’d look cute pushing that shopping cart once I’m evicted!

Here’s The Deal…

Jackie knows it’s her turn to blog.  Jackie also just finished her second ten hour shift with no break,  back to back.  She is tired.  She is hungry.  So, here’s the deal…

Take a walk.  Have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper.  Make love to your significant other.   Do whatever you’d like to, but check back later today.  I promise you, Jackie WILL blog later today.  And it might even be readable…she hopes.