Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Jobless Recovery is still only $.99, but the sale ends on Dec. 31st.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
New cover for We Interrupt This Date
Based on input from readers and reviewers, I've gotten a brand new cover for We Interrupt This Date that more accurately reflects the tone and content of the book. The first time around, I told the cover designer I wanted to focus on the Southern fiction/family aspects of the plot and I was wrong. It turned out that the book is selling better as chick lit/romantic comedy. Paul Coleman http://bookpumper.com/ designed the new cover. I think he did a fantastic job. Now we'll see if readers feel the same.
About the book:
Since her divorce a year ago, Susan Caraway has gone through the motions of life. Now she is finally coming out of her shell. Just when she decides on a makeover and a new career, her family members decide she's crisis central. First there’s her sister DeLorean who returns from California with a baby, a designer dog, and no prospects for child support or a job. As soon as DeLorean settles in at Susan’s home, Susan’s son Christian comes home from college trailing what Susan’s mama refers to as “an androgynous little tart.” Then there’s Mama herself, a southern lady who wrote the book on bossy. A secret from Mama’s past threatens to unravel her own peace. But not before Mama hurts her ankle and has to move into Susan’s home with her babies—two Chihuahuas with attitude. Susan would like to start her new job as a ghost tour operator. She would like to renew her relationship with Jack Maxwell, a man from her past. But Jack isn’t going to stand in line behind her needy family.
A short excerpt:
Patty finished ringing up a sale and waved from behind her register. “Thank God, Odell’s finally outta here. What’s going on?” She sashayed out from behind the counter to lounge against the doorway to my office.
“Nothing.” I put my fingers on my keyboard and glanced at her sideways.
She reached up and tugged her hair clips loose, letting her black hair fall from the loose pile on top of her head to a full cascade down her back. She’d once told me that there comes a time in every redneck woman’s life when she has hair down to her butt. Then she’d planted her hands on her hips and said, “Honey, except for my interest in the occult, I’m as redneck as they come.”
Odell makes her wear her hair on top of her head because he’d once had a cashier who caught her ponytail in the register and she threatened to sue when she had to cut a chunk of it off to free herself. But whenever Odell leaves early, Patty lets her hair down. In more ways than one. Now she turned on the radio Odell keeps on a shelf against the wall and danced and swayed in the doorway to Heartbreak Hotel.
“Need something, Patty?”
“Just curious. You’ve been in such a scatterbrained mood all afternoon. Carrying your mama to the doctor doesn’t usually have that effect on you, so I assume it was something your friend, the tight-assed businesswoman, said over lunch. Let me guess. She’s finally figured out money won’t buy her love, so she’s going to share with you in the hopes that will get her some points with the relationship gods and they’ll send her a decent man to warm her bed.”
I shook my head in mock sadness. “You’re awful.”
“I’d go home and burn some candles, but I’ve already forgiven myself for my bitchiness. Now tell me what’s got you smiling.”
“I told you, I’m simply in a great mood.”
I hadn’t realized I was smiling. But I didn’t dare tell Patty about Veronica’s plan to take me away from all this. It had come to nothing, but Patty couldn’t keep a secret if her lips were stuck shut with Super Glue.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Caption for photo: Me trying to figure out how to open a CD.
I've never been the fastest dog on the track when it comes to dealing with technical things. Program a TV remote? Oh, please. I'm lucky if I can change the batteries. Set up my Brita pitcher? Yeah, I did that and it was a year before I figured out, courtesy of the Boy who is ten, that the reason the water kept spilling when I poured was that I had the top on backwards. And all the while I complained bitterly about the poor design.
Setting up computers, DVD players, iPods, or anything that even remotely requires tech savvy are all done by others in my household--my husband, the Boy, one of the Chihuahuas. I don't care as long as it isn't me struggling to decipher cryptic instructions written on a thin sheet of paper the size of a business card. Really, have you noticed how a piece of electronic equipment that can do everything except bounce a laser beam off the moon always comes with four lines of instructions? And one of these lines is wasted on a warning to avoid dunking the product in water, putting it in your mouth, or setting it on fire.
Writing? I can do that. I can even do it on a computer. Go me. Internet? I know my way around. I can email with the best of them and I'm a whiz at using search engines. But get this--now I'm told I need to master social media. Social what? I need online friends in order to promote my work? Okay, I'll give it a try. Facebook--I'm there, but not sure what I'm doing and where all these friends came from or why they're writing on my wall. Twitter. Right. Now I have followers and people I follow. It all sounds kind of cultish, but I admit I kind of like tweeting and retweeting. Hey, everyone, I just tweeted. I might be important because I have almost 103 followers.
Website? Now I know you're kidding. I did actually make a website of sorts, but it was so ugly, even I didn't look at it more than twice in a year. My son kindly stepped in last month and made me a real website. It's beautiful and useful. So I'm covered there. Book trailer? My son again. Very nice. Blog? I'm told that's a must have. So I have. But I look at other blogs and I'm perplexed. Mine is so generic and I really would like to have followers and a blog roll and links to my books and to other social media. I don't have any of those things, but it certainly isn't from laziness on my part. I tried. I wanted to follow my followers, all five of them (now six). Sadly, the old tech-clueless bug bit again and that's how I ended up following my own blog. At least I'll know right away when I make a new post.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
On the other hand, failing to do something, anything, to slow our consumption or lighten our human footprint on Planet Earth will lead to certain disaster. I won’t say it’s my main focus, but I admit I often find my thoughts turning to the future. I don’t mean my own future so much, but more of the future of mankind as a whole. Talk about depressing.
There are several scenarios that sneak like nasty little intruders into my brain, none of them terribly pleasant. There’s the one where we’ve wiped out all the animals on earth and then used too many herbicides, so the plants die. Of course, we all fight each other for what’s left—probably the odd microwave meal or two--and then we starve. Then there’s the one where we choke on our own air pollution. Or bury ourselves in our own garbage. All of my future-of-the-planet daydreams end with me looking down sadly from heaven, or what I hope is heaven, at an earth that looks as dry and desolate as Mars, only it’s a sickly shade of desert brown instead of a cheerful Mars-like orange. Not surprisingly, I always shut down these dark thoughts and cheer myself up with counter productive trips to the mall.
So. Being that I am not Einstein or even the smartest person in my town, when I have these thoughts, I am at a loss. Okay, I get the concept. Get environmentally friendly one town at a time across the globe. End result--Planet Earth in healthy condition.
Sounds great. Sounds like the only way to avert the nightmarish future intruding into my thoughts. But I had no clue where to start. I was used to leaving the deep thoughts up to those who were paid to think deep—environmentalists, scientists, people like that. In short, the “they” who are always telling us what to think and do.
You know the ones I mean. My mother's friend quotes them all the time:
“They say you shouldn’t go swimming right after lunch or you’ll surely cramp up. They say you’re a lot more likely to die in an auto accident within five miles of your home, so I don’t use my seat belt once I’m past the limit.”
Well, it seems that “they” don’t live in my community, Obliviousville, USA. I know this for a fact because I see an awful lot of waste going on and trash on the sides of the road. I figured we were certainly going to look bad in front of the people in More Aware, a town smack dab in the middle of The Next County.
One day my conscience jabbed me--finally. I was out of mall money, so being a writer, I picked up pen and paper and tried brainstorming ways to turn green. An hour later the paper was blank except for doodles that involved far distant stars and a desolate Earth seen from space, which meant that I’d have to throw away the paper, and that depressed me even more because I’d just contributed to the paper waste problem and I'd wasted precious writing time.
Maybe, I thought, I should concentrate on local businesses and point out what they were doing to harm our planet. Blaming someone else could be a useful strategy, and certainly a popular one. I thought about my local grocery store. They must use half a million grocery bags a week. Plastic--bad. But at the same time, they had recycle bins in front of the store for bottles, plastic bags, and glass. Recycling—good. Then there was the local flooring store. They sold wood flooring. Cutting down trees—bad. But they’d just started stocking eco-friendly bamboo. Renewable resource—good.
Aargh! Hopeless. Saving Planet Earth was too complicated and impossible. My brain spun like a bicycle wheel. Rubber bike tire—bad. Transportation without fossil…no, no, no. I stopped the spinning and clamped down on the eco thoughts. Took a deep, deep breath and started over writing on a fresh piece of paper:
Look, people, it isn’t hopeless. Just because you can’t live without a new wardrobe every two months or a thirty minute shower every day, doesn’t mean you can’t bring your own shopping bags to the store or recycle your plastic and glass. The same applies to businesses. They may be fantastic recyclers, yet use too much fuel. But as long as each of us works on developing an eco conscience so we can move in the right direction, we’ll eventually get what we want--a healthy planet to sustain mankind into the future.
I dug my old purse out of my closet, put on last year’s blouse and blue jeans, and picked up my re-usable shopping bag. Then I headed out to buy locally grown vegetables at the closest farmers’ market.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
A willing friend is an invaluable resource to catch those awkward sentences that slip by so easily in our writing, no matter how many times we’ve gone over our manuscripts. I was reminded of this last week when a member of my critique group wrote the following (used with permission): Almost too late I saw a man running out of the corner of my eye.
Please, somebody catch the tiny guy before he hits the floor.
Of course, I’m not innocent of the occasional sin. There was the time I asked my daughter Jenny to look over a short story I planned to submit to a magazine. I had the manuscript printed and ready to slip into an envelope. She caught this big, fat, glaring blunder: Two men wearing a suit walked into the room.
What, times were tough and they had to share? Joined at the hip, maybe?
And then there was the gem I wrote in another story. A man and his wife have been fighting and are on the verge of divorcing. In the first paragraph the husband leaves the house, slams the front door, and yells back to his wife: I’m going out for a little piece.
Worse yet, this was geared to a religious magazine. Even worse, Jenny was away at school, so I actually mailed the thing. It was rejected without comment, and I was able to laugh at myself—eventually.
But I returned Jenny’s favor when I proofread one of her college short stories about a girl who gave historic tours at an antebellum mansion and hoped to persuade her boss to give up the notion of having the guides wear period costumes. My daughter wrote this: It's hard to go to the bathroom in a hoop skirt.
I've sometimes thought of asking my writer friends to submit their bloopers to me so I can compile them into a book. These writers would remain anonymous, of course. I may do that some day. After all, I've already decided on a cover photo of me hiding my head in shame.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Lucid dream: a dream in which the dreamer is aware he is dreaming.
I have long been a fan of lucid dreams. Though my own have been rare, occurring maybe once or twice a year and lasting for a matter of seconds, I love them. And why not? During lucid dreams I can be or do whatever I want. Cool, right? Usually I fly.
Because I am a fan, I also enjoy reading about lucid dreams. Now the authors of some books claim you can easily learn to lucid dream. Upon reaching this happy state, the universe is yours. You can saunter into the hall of Akashic records--accompanied by angels or guides--and read all about yourself and all your past lives. Presumably this would help you to shape up in your current life. Perhaps you would like to control the dream so you could be a famous actor or meet famous people. It’s all there for the asking as soon as you master the techniques in your current lucid dreaming book.
Sadly, none of the techniques in any of the books have ever worked for me. Maybe I haven’t been persistent enough. In any case, I’ve had to content myself with the regular type of dream in which random things happen to me and I’m not the least bit aware these happenings are dreams until I wake up and say to myself, “Thank God that wasn’t real. Me confronting a gun wielding criminal with only an umbrella for a weapon while my car rolls backward over a cliff? I don’t think so.”
But rare as they are, I still think about lucid dreams and try to prepare myself for the nights when they actually happen. Okay, now what do I actually want? A visit with a great master? Maybe a meeting with Einstein when he, having finally worked out the theory of everything, passes the knowledge on to me so I can enlighten the world. Yeah, that sounds like something I could handle. Or maybe a reading with Edgar Cayce in which he recommends a simple treatment that will rejuvenate me back to the body I enjoyed as a twenty-year-old. That would be good.
Okay, so after all this contemplation you’d think I’d be prepared for a life changing event next time I was so fortunate as to become aware while sleeping.
Unfortunately, you would be wrong. Last night I had just finished a dream in which I was helping the FBI catch a bunch of criminals. Don’t laugh. At least that’s better than one of those “naked on stage” dreams. The feds thanked me and said I could leave now that the case was solved. As soon as I turned to go, I discovered that not only was my car missing, but the road back home was blocked. I reversed course, intending to take another direction and ran up on a huge pile of steel pillars that hadn’t been there a moment ago.
Perplexed, I said, “Okay, I am not going to be stopped by all these barricades.” Bam. I was lucid. I was instantly filled with excitement and at the same time warning myself to get calm and to think what I wanted to do. I conjured up some random people and asked them where the door was. They led me into a huge banquet hall in what looked like a luxury hotel or a castle.
Sweet. So far so good. My helpers asked me who I wanted to see. Here was my cue to ask for Einstein, Cayce, maybe George Washington to appear and share their wisdom.
I opened my mouth and said, “I want to reach a new level with my writing. Could I have a writing guide.”
“Sure. Who do you want?”
My mind spun with possibilities. I could have any famous author I wanted to come look over my shoulder and guide me to greater heights? Be still my beating heart.
“Umm,” I said. “I couldn’t choose. Could you just bring me someone who would be best for me?” Oh, so humble.
“Wait right here.”
“Not a problem.”
While I waited, I looked around and spotted small cakes piled on tables all around me. Lovely, though in real life I don’t eat sugar because I get too hooked on sweets.
But hey, this was a dream, I was lucid, and I could do whatever I wanted. I proceeded to stuff myself with vanilla cream cakes and then I discovered the cheesecake on the next table. Let me tell you they were delicious, every bit as delicious as if I had been eating them in real life.
Still stuffing myself, cake frosting and cream cheese smeared all over my face, I glanced up to see my helpers returning with my writing guide.
She looked like no writer I recognized. I would describe her as a plumpish, gray-haired woman in her mid-sixties wearing a frumpy, pigeon colored dress.
“Whoops. Sorry about pigging out on the cake. I don’t get to eat sweets in real life.” Darn. Why was I greeting this person with cake all over myself?
“That’s perfectly all right.” Her voice was kind and melodious. “I’m here to help you.”
“You’re my guide?”
The lucid part of the dream suddenly ended. The next thing I knew, I was awake and wondering what time it was. And wondering why I’d wasted my golden opportunity.
My grandson wanted to know the same thing when I told him about the dream. “You ate cake?” He shook his head sadly. “I would have asked for the lotto numbers.”
Doh! And I'm positive I gained three pounds during the night.