Monday, December 31, 2012

Where did it go? Howdy, 2013

The Christmas decor is gone, done, in the attic, disappeared in the trash pick-up. It always seems to come down faster than it goes up. Phew. I love the sparkle and glitter, but I need the house to be normalized so I can get to work. The laptop has been shut down too long.

The coming NASCAR season has me mildly excited. If Bad Brad can wrangle the new Ford for Penske into another championship, I'll be one happy girl. However, my focus right now is on my concealed handgun permit. Yes, I sat through four and a half hours of testosterone fueled hell to qualify to submit my application. Not that I own any hand gun that isn't over a 150 years old. It's a quandary. Hand guns, like some hunting rifles, can be works of art. And while I've never felt the need to shoot anyone, I like knowing I'm not helpless if a situation arises. Wrestling with this dilemma is giving me fits. Power isn't bullets, but preparation. It's like plotting a novel. I need to know what's coming.

On a different note, what makes men think women are deaf when they make misogynist statements in mixed company? My tongue was bleeding by the time the handgun class came to a whimpering end. I'm coming to think only women should be allowed to possess weapons. Men who think they're hot stuff with a gun should have them taken away while they sit in time out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Sometimes I feel as if Christmas doesn't last long enough. All that shopping, wrapping, and returning a gift when you find something better, then voila! By ten a.m. on Christmas morning, all that work is just a bag of ripped paper, torn bows, and a small stack of stuff. It doesn't seem fair.

My grandmother would make a lemon meringue pie from scratch ( even squeezing real lemons) and it would take hours and hours of work. The finished product didn't last fifteen minutes. No kidding. She finally declared an end to pie making, deeming the effort not worth the ephemera of the pie. I know how she felt.

I like the idea of spreading the gift giving and merry making over a week or more. Anyone with me?

At any rate, hope everyone had a good one. And that everyone received at least one book from Santa.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Down for the count

Been out of commission with various ailments, so it's been a while. Still can't figure out what's the deal with Blogger. May just have to get going with Wordpress. Oh dear. For someone who grew up moving from country to country every few years, you'd think change was good. Working on that one.

Christmas has finally arrived at our house, despite the loss of our twenty yo cat. It has taken a while for us to realize he's left us - I keep thinking he's coming around a door corner, or I hear him calling for more food. Biff was the perfect cat, and we all adored him. Well, except for the time he broke one of a pair of Lenox candlesticks. And the time he brought me a live vole and dropped it at my feet in the kitchen. I thanked him for his love offering after I stopped screaming.

He came to us as an itty bitty kitten, really too young to be weaned. Being raised like just another one of the kids, he thought he was human, only far superior. He talked all the time - a regular chatterbox. The funny thing is, we knew exactly what he was saying ( or demanding), and would reply in kind. We often held long comversations in "cat."

I'll miss him curling up in my lap while I write, his tolerance for anything weird, and his snaggle-toothed grin.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is Blogger getting wonky?

Or is it me? This weird format shows up on the home page now,and I can't seem to get the "real" home page without hitting "view web version."

Help? Heeellllpppp......

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Respectful silence

Posting has seemed irrelevant since last Friday. I can't be so arrogant to assume I know what it's like to lose a child to a mass shooting. I do know that the fear of losing one of our children was a topic of much deep prayer from day one. Who knew you could feel such deep, life-changing love the first time you saw that tiny face with rosebud lips?

It seemed disrespectful to insert myself into the online conversation. I have my own views, and I'll work as diligently as I can to make my elected officials hear them.

But one thing really ticked me off, and I've waited until now to calm down. Friday night Twitter was rife with pictures of Nascar Team Christmas parties. Charlie Daniels standing with Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne, all grinning. Penske Racing posted pix of Karoke by their driver lineup at their Christmas party.  Evidently,  a good time was had by all.

I have never been so embarrassed by Nascar, and the elites especially. This was Friday night, for heaven's sake! So they didn't postpone their parties, but did they have to post pix of one and all making merry during a time of national horror and grief?

Shame on them. Just shame.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Writing a blurb

that will sell your books is harder than making a perfect omelet. Or winning a Sprint Cup.  I hate doing the things, because I want to spread out all the cool aspects of the story, and there ain't that much room. A small paragragh is best, and it has to hit the highlights harder than Tony Stewart stuffing a fellow driver in the wall.  I found a clear description of how to write a successful book blurb, which I am happy to pass on.

I like to give credit where due, and this article nails it.

On a more Christmasy note, must mail two parcels and find out what happened to an Amazon order that states it was delivered by the USPS. Nope, not at my address.  I've never had an Amazon order go astray before.

Keep writing, even through the craziness of this time of year....

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Too much shakin'

going on! That's an old-fashioned phrase that means I want this carousel to stop so I can jump off.  It's not the normal Christmas hoopla, because I'm pretty laid back this year. I don't know who slipped me the chill pill, but I'm okay with all the ornament boxes spread from the garage to the living room, and not a durned ball on a tree so far. It'll come together, and if it doesn't, well, as the French say, tante pis.

I miss the smaller independent bookstores this time of the year. I want to spend half my Christmas budget at places like Creatures and Crooks, which no longer occupies a physical place.  Books are a staple under our tree, and half the fun is finding a new author to share with a family member. Browsing the big box stores, with no one to give you recommendations and shelves filled with expensive toys,  is just no fun without being able to ask the clerk " Have you read this one? What do you think?"

So I did some shopping at Milkweed Press, ordering online. They always publish unusual writers with different stories. Plus, they're a small, non-profit press, so I'd rather support them than B&N.  Go forth and buy a book as a gift this year, and keep away from the standards, like Grisham. Find a new author with a small press. That's my way of getting off the carousel.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Boors, boobs, and b******s. Writing the Obnoxious.

How do you deal with difficult people? People who are just plain rude, or who see the world as they want to see it, not as it is? People who say one ugly thing after another, pretending it's funny and you should laugh with them?  People who just don't care and aren't about to go to any lengths at all to be part of the human race?

In my real life, I run as far and as fast as I can from people like this, if I can. I don't want to waste a second of my life falling into their tar pits, just on the off chance I'll never be able to pull myself back out. Sometimes, though, you're stuck. An insensitive, boorish boss. A jerk of a sales clerk who keeps mucking up your sale, and acts as if you've committed a crime when you point out they rang the items up incorrectly. A driver who goes out of the way to stay on your bumper with his high beams on.

The hard part is to write these people so they're real. They turn into caricatures so easily, but like pepper in a dish, a story needs them to add the reality factor. Pepper keeps it real. Everyone expects salt. I read a small, throwaway scene in a YA recently, where a hospital docent is not only unsympathetic to the hero's plight, but rude as well. The character never reappears, but she added to the scene's intensity like a good dose of pepper should. Her obnoxiousness was spot-on and ratcheted up the hero's anxiety to the next level. Good characters do that.

Next time you're outlining your characters, add a boor. Someone your hero doesn't want to encounter, but must. See how they interact, and above all, keep it real. Don't let the passive-aggressive character become a cartoon. I think you'll be pleased with how it helps add to the tension in your story.