Monday, May 30, 2011


Tonight's musical toast:  "Please Remember Me" courtesy of Tim McGraw

In case you didn't notice, I've changed my blog look. If you truly didn't notice, I suggest a doctor appointment be made first thing in the morning!  It's summertime (although someone needs to let the "man upstairs" know, because in my state today, it snowed in the North and the South end dropped 20 degrees) and I wanted something bright and cheery - whimsical and fun like summer should be. May keep it, may not. Takes me three plus hours to redo a blog, so this may stick, at least for a few days. Give me your thoughts.

Today's Memorial Day. A day of reflection and remembrance. I grew up with it being called "Decoration Day." My grandmother was big on decorating the graves. It was one of her many "celebrations" when the family would pack the station wagons with picnics and children and head for the little cemetery located in the then tiny town of Midway, Utah. The cemetery sits on a hill, overlooking the valley. The roads were barely covered in asphalt, with chuck holes large enough to consume a Volkswagen bug.

Grandpa spent the day before Decoration Day cutting wire hangers for hooks and gathering empty mason jars. My grandmother and aunts stripped their lilac bushes (and maybe their neighbors after dark, too) and clipped all the irises, packing them in buckets of water, we children were in charge of keeping from sloshing all the way up Parley's Canyon. When we pulled away, there wasn't a blooming flower left in the yard.

Once at the cemetery, Grandma gathered the grandchildren, forming a hand chain (that lasted about ten minutes) and she took us on a field trip to each grave marker of relatives that had passed. She shared the stories of their lives, their family lineage, and any other juicy tidbits she could share to help us remember. My great-great-great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian and the stories my grandmother told of how she served as an ambassador to the tribes the pioneers encountered as they crossed the plains westward.

Now that I'm a couple of years older and wiser, I regret not recording my grandmother retelling the stories from those days on our personal graveyard tour. My own memory can only recall bits and pieces, and after my mother had her stroke, taking her voice, the stories have sadly been lost or confused. For this reason, my friends, "journal" your thoughts while you have them to pass on to those generations that will go on without you.

It's been years since I've been back to the little cemetery, but I try every year to place flowers on as many graves where I live now, as I have family members who have passed. Sadly, we have a few friends here who have died, but the rest are reserved for those gravesites where nothing sits in remembrance. If it's a government issued brass plaque with a military insignia, all the better...or sadder.

"Memorial Day" was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1971, Congress made it an official federal holiday, placing it officially on the last Monday in May.

I hate war, but I realize it's necessary. Unfortunately, it never seems to end, just changes countries and boundaries. The flag draped coffins never end, and families bid tearful goodbyes to their soldiers at airports, while other families bid goodbye at graveyards. My husband served in the National Guard. When my grandfather died, my daughter was small but stood beside us when the gunfire salute was sounded and the flag folded and handed to my aunt. She whispered to me, "When Daddy dies, does he get a flag?" A sobering thought. Yes, he will.

Three movies dealing with war have left an indelible mark in my memory, none of which I could watch a second time, but will never forget. Saving Private Ryan with Tom Hanks hit me because when it showed the troops meeting violent deaths when landing on the shores of France, I realized my daughter (the same from above) was living in France, two miles from Normandy Beach.

The Hurt Locker probably the most intense movie I've ever watched, drops you in the middle of the Iraqi War, with an elite three member Army bomb squad, walking the streets where anybody and anything is a potential bomb. Not even the street itself is safe (significant scene).

But the most moving war movie I've ever seen and challenge you to watch if you haven't, is Taking Chance, with Kevin Bacon. Maybe because it's based on true story or that my son was nineteen when it came out, that it settled inside my soul. You travel with a volunteer escort officer as he accompanies the body of nineteen year old fallen soldier on his trek across country to his hometown. You will be taken aback by the respect shown our soldiers in the smallest, unknown ways. At the end, you see the real solder, meet his real life friends portrayed by actors, and his family who lives on without him. A wonderful, heart wrenching story.

Okay, now my water works are malfunctioning. I love my country, my freedoms, and those who fight for me to keep it. My heart goes out to mothers and wives, especially, whose husbands, sons and daughters are away in service to our country, on my behalf. This is also the first time I've witnessed mothers leaving families behind when called to duty. Thank you.

Life goes on, but let's not forget or take a moment before this day comes to a close, to find some personal way to "reflect and remember."  Thanks for stopping by friends. Have a safe holiday. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Today's topic:  Unforgettable First Dates or Memories from Hell.

Pull out the scrapbook, physical or mental. We're going to take a walk down "bad memory lane," and resurrect those awful mental snapshots, tucked deep in the recesses of our brain, behind a door marked "DO NOT ENTER."

First dates. They're miserable, uncomfortable, and embarrassing. You don't know what to say to fill the awkward silences, your hair looks the dorkiest it ever has in your life, and acne strikes (regardless of age), leaving an glowing blister either in the middle of your forehead, or on the end of your nose or chin. There is no concealer on the market strong enough to cover the "first date zit."

The pharmaceutical industry also has not created an effective product to cure the following ailment that also appears out of nowhere, just for the first date:  Gas; the stomach that constantly grumbles or the fart you hold onto so hard your butt cheeks turn inside out. Also, no matter how many days you fast, your stomach will bloat on the first date, creating more of an innertube effect instead of a muffin top around the waistband of those cute designer jeans you sacrificed a paycheck on. You can suck it in for all your worth, forcing your ribcage to protrude unnaturally, but the "bump" will still be there, only your boobs will be elevated under your chin, blocking the view. Also, that fart you've been secretly hiding, will slither out (possibly in a high pitched squeak) when you suck in your gut. Avoid broccoli for at least a month prior to a first date.

If you're smart, opt for a movie if the choice is given, allowing two hours of avoiding small talk. Just be careful to not pick up your drink by the top, folding the empty top part of the paper cup under the pressure of your fingers, which causes you to lose your grip and consequently, baptize either you or your date in soda. This of course causes the victim to scream during the intimate love scene, silently playing out on the big screen. He or she jumps upward, tossing the large bucket of popcorn into the next row with a pelvic thrust, and sending ice chips flying at unsuspecting victims close by. This creates a "domino effect." Popcorn bucket lands on someone who jumps up, sending their drink into their neighbor's lap, who screams....etc. etc.

In an attempt to impress you, your date will take you someplace nice to eat (depending on whether you survived the movie or left the theatre with a conspicuous "wet spot"). Eating in front of people is something I hate, whether its my boss, or a complete stranger. I always manage to order something I can't maneuver from "plate to mouth" without humiliating myself. Pasta is the worse. I wrap my spaghetti inside a spoon like I know what the hell I'm doing, but while easing it to my mouth, the noodles unravel, usually at a high rate of speed, spraying marinara sauce across my chest. (Note: Never wear white on a first date - more on that below). My next forkful is less pasta, and when it starts to fall apart, I meet the fork halfway and slurp the dangling noodles through my lips. Hopefully, my date sees this as a possible seductive talent.

Most embarrassing first date was in my senior year of high school. I accepted an invitation to a homecoming dance with the captain of the football team at a rival school - my high school team won said homecoming game. First sign bad karma was coming my way. To be honest, I don't remember the actual dance, but the dinner afterward at the coach's house, will live on forever in my nightmares. I wore a blue velvet dress and a white velvet coat. Velvet against velvet, does not slide.

Picture an elegant entry with plush ivory carpet and walls covered in ivory flocked wall paper. In walks the team captain with a girl from the school who pulverized the team in a humiliating homecoming game the day before, as his date. All eyes are on me. Did I mention how nervous I get around strangers? Refer back to pharmaceutical "ass faults." My date, who really was a sweet guy, but will never acknowledge he knew me, no matter how rich and famous I may become, attempts to take my coat off, in the entryway. As I mentioned, velvet against velvet is as strong as industrial strength velcro. My coat fails to surrender the final sleeve, and in an attempt to rush things, I forcefully yank my arm out of the sleeve.

Here's where I'll mention the "menu." Sloppy joes, baked beans, corn on the cob, and potato salad. Oh, and fruit punch. Important detail. This is also a good place to describe the layout of the house, and my proximity to the apocalypse about to happen. At the end of the entry is the living room, where the other team members and their dates are seated (we were late for some reason. I've mentally blocked everything up to this moment, so who knows, maybe I murdered someone at the dance). Off to the right, just inside the entry where I'm struggling with my coat, is the kitchen, where we are to pick up our plates of food and carry them down the ivory carpeted path, to the living room.

When I yank my arm free from its velvet trap, it comes down, and basically "karate chops" some blonde's plate full of all the above mentioned food items. She was also carefully balancing a full glass of fruit punch. Baked beans fell, one by one, from the flocked wall paper, onto the pile of barbecue beef resting against the white painted baseboards. A rapidly growing orange grease ring forms , soaking into the ivory carpet and bleeding into the berry colored puddle, seeping into the carpet pad. The cob of butter soaked corn? An indelible mark, showing each kernel, plastered the gold filigree framed mirror. I didn't hear the cob actually splat into the pile of meat, but the hamburger spatters on my shins and shoes, were proof it was probably a direct hard hit. The potato salad? A side dish complimenting the front of the satin formal the blonde was wearing. I never received a call for a second date. Go figure?

Luckily, my husband married me despite our first date. I wore white jeans. He took me mountain climbing in his 4-wheel drive truck and we traversed many a deep mud puddle. Brown muck covered the windshield. When we got to the bottom of the mountain, my soul mate jumped out to evaluate (some macho man thing). Wanting to impress him by not being a prissy girl, I slid out of the truck (we have had steps on every 4-wheel drive truck since), wiping a good portion of mud from the truck with my backside. Without realizing my butt was covered in mud, I jumped back in truck and eased across the seat, leaving a brown streak from one end of the seat to the other. That's right. Another impressive first date that's lasted a very long time.

Any other horror stories involving first dates, or am I the only unlucky one? Thanks for letting me share! See  you on the weekend.

Here's to "mud in your eye"....Joelene

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Listening to "True Faith" courtesy of Anberlin

Attended a birthday party today at a local park and when an old ice cream truck rolled in front of the bowery, someone yelled out, "Hey, is that the 'Rapture Wagon'?" I know, bad joke, but you smiled. In any event, I for one, am glad the world is still intact with all its imperfections.

Moving on slowly and with toothpicks propping my eyelids open, I ask how important is using the right ingredients in making a recipe successful? If you don't have all the ingredients, will the cake rise, the souffle sink, or the soup taste bland? Nothing's yummier than a chicken casserole...without chicken, right?

The same holds true to a story. If all the ingredients aren't included, your book lacks the substance it needs to hold your readers' attention, or hook them enough to want to buy your next one. Is there a recipe for a good book? Well, I'm not as seasoned as some and have done some major tweaking to get my story recipe correct, but through trial and error (and very patient editors and beta readers), my "creative casserole" is worthy of public tasting.

Like most recipes, there are "key ingredients." I've chosen "Jack and Jill" as my unsuspecting victims to use as visual aids. Their story is simple...or is it? Does it "lack" the right ingredients to make it rise to the expectations of its readers? Well, considering the readers it's aimed at can't read, I guess it does. But now that we're all grown up, what questions do we have for Jack and Jill? Let's get out their "story recipe."

GOAL:  Your character has to have something they're striving to achieve. Something that makes your readers want to be their cheerleaders. When Jack and Jill start up the hill, they have a goal. To get water. We picture the well at the top of the hill, or the stream of fresh water tumbling over rocks, or a clear spring nestled under the shade of leafy tree branches. We see their "goal."

MOTIVATION:  Your characters must be driven to achieve their goals. Something makes them want to succeed. Your readers should become emotionally vested in seeing your hero/heroine reach their goal. What could motivate Jack and Jill to traverse a mountain to fill pails of water? Thirst would be the obvious answer, but good writers don't write the "obvious." We present a puzzle, minus a few key pieces. Maybe there is a terrible drought plaguing the small village where Jack and Jill live? Maybe Jack just wants to get Jill alone on top of the hill and is using the "pail of water" as his pick-up line.

"Hey baby, want to climb a hill with me and fill a pail of water? We could pack a picnic, take a blanket, and make a day of it. Maybe stay and watch the moon rise? Maybe...."

Now we have "motivation." Jack wants to jump Jill's bones.

CONFLICT:  Something has to get in the way and keep our heroes/heroines from racing up the hill and filling their buckets. This is where the plot thickens and authors create the twists and turns that keep their readers frantically turning the pages.

Perhaps a love triangle forms. Jill gets some competition. Maybe little Bo Peep is tired of tending sheep alone and has her eye on Jack. She lures him to the pasture by crying "wolf" and when he shows up to save her, she's shed her frilly bonnet and is only wearing her eyelet edged knickers. Hooking the shepherd crook around Jack's neck, she pulls him far away from any thoughts of climbing a stupid hill.

Jill's left standing at the bottom of the grassy knoll with a picnic basket and patchwork quilt, but Jack never shows with the water pail. Is she early, or is Jack late? Maybe he's already at the top of the hill waiting and they just got their signals crossed? When Jack explains his absence, does he confess or concoct a lie? Does he escape the cagey clutches of Bo Peep and rush to the hill, only to find his true love has dumped the picnic in the dirt and scrawled a death threat on a napkin?

There's the three main ingredients to a story recipe. Now you get to add the rest of the ingredients that flavor the story and create the finished product. The chocolate chips to a cookie, the icing on a cupcake. Your perfect ending. Jack and Jill must resolve their issues and bring their story to a satisfying ending.

Maybe Jill has second thoughts and turns back toward the hill. She sees Jack's silhouette against a fiery sunset, pacing at the well. She rushes up the trail, all the while imagining the worse so when she arrives at the crest she's so damn angry that when Jack opens his mouth with the all familiar male preface "let me explain," she whacks him, knocking him off balance. Jack tumbles down the rocky slope ("fell down and broke his crown" is taking on a new meaning), and when he hits his head on a rock and is knocked unconscious, Jill feels horrible. She rushes down the hill feeling guilty and trips over the stupid petticoat the author placed her in, and rolls to his side. He takes her in his arms, professes his undying love and ..... happily-ever-after. Or he dies and Jill skips off into the sunset to meet Johnny Depp (my idea of "happily-ever-after"). Either way, its a happy ending. The icing on the cake.

In Romance there must be a happy ending. Jill will believe in Jack and all will be forgiven.

In Young Adult, there must be an element of hope written into the happy ending. While Jack has been in a coma for six months, Jill finds out the bitch Bo-Peep is to blame and Jill remains at Jack's bedside until the tiny signs of life appear - the finger twitch, her name being the first word he speaks. Hope emerges.

In a Mystery, the puzzle must be solved. Jack's lifeless body is found next to the abandoned picnic, the napkin with the death threat scribbled on, fluttering from beneath a fried chicken leg. Grease spots taint the hand writing sample, but the lipstick mark to the side of his mouth carries the DNA the CSI team will need to solve the murder. Is it Bo-Peep's kiss goodbye, or Jill's kiss of death? Jill will be found and Bo-Peep will tearfully testify to being abandoned and Jill will pay for the crime. Mystery solved.

A reader going to bed with your book and not being able to sleep until it's finished is an author's goal. We want you to love our stories and characters as much as we do. They are such a big part of our lives while we create their world, that we are anxious for you, the reader, to feel the same thrill we did in writing the book.

The same is true when we serve something special to our famished family, close friends, or a congregation of people of a civic function. We want to take away the empty bowl or platter, knowing what we served was satisfying to the partaker. Someone asking for our recipe is a compliment in much the same way as our readers express their excitement in wanting to know when our next book will be released. We've satisfied the "partaker." Our "recipe" turned out successful.

Memorial Day is rounding the corner! (Hell, I've got to start Christmas shopping! This year is flying by.) If you are hosting or attending with a request to bring something "satisfying" (preferable for a large crowd), I'm sharing a favorite recipe that feeds 15 people, or 20, if you add marshmallows. It's refreshing, fruity, and the leftovers will keep for several days with a freshening of cool whip.  Here's to the next round of "holidays!" Enjoy, and as always, thanks for stopping by and supporting me. 

Joelene - Harley's off chasing Johnny Depp wearing Bo-Peep's knickers - he's in pirate mode again! 

Frog-Eye Salad

Box acini-de-pepe (found in pasta aisle)
1 lg can pineapple tidbits (drained - juice reserved)
1 lg can crushed pineapple (drained - juice reserved)
1 lg can mandarin oranges
1 lg container Cool Whip
*maraschino cherries (optional)
*1 - 2 cups miniature marshmallows (optional)

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBL flour
1 & 3/4 cup pineapple juice (from fruit - can add water if not quite enough)
1 TBL lemon juice
2 eggs (slightly beaten)

Cook one box of acini-de-pepe 20 minutes. Drain & rinse. While macaroni is cooking, prepare sauce (2 qt saucepan).

First:  Combine dry ingredients
Second: Mix wet ingredients, then add to dry mixture and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently to keep from scorching. The mixture should thicken (takes 15-20 minutes)
Third:  IN LARGE BOWL - Pour sauce over cooked macaroni and place in refrigerator to cool (4 hrs to overnight - I have rushed it by placing the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes after a couple of hours, but works better the longer the flavors can meld).

Add drained fruit, marshmallows*, 2/3 - 3/4 of large container of Cool Whip or all of regular size Cool Whip (depending on how creamy you want) and mix well. Garnish with maraschino cherries* (*if desired.)  Note: There supposedly used to be an easier recipe on box of acini-de-pepe using pudding, but I have found the homemade sauce to be sweeter (the other leaves a tangy aftertaste).

See you for "Wacky Wednesday" where anything goes!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WACKY WEDNESDAYS...Where Anything Goes

Today's wacky topic:  "What the Hell?" Moments.

My life is a series of "what the hell?" Yes, I could say something else, but that's a word I write, not use...well rarely use. I admit, there may have been a time or two when I "short-circuited" and frick could have rhymed more with truck. I'm only human...for the most part.

Today, I decided to start exercising...again. This is a ritual I ceremoniously indulge in every two or three months, when I brave the bathroom scales. Mind you, this is after I have appropriately prepared myself by downing water pills, undergoing colonic cleansing treatments, and consuming no food for a period of three days. If I still have strength to step up the half inch incline, I remove all clothing, jewelry, and metal dental work, hold my breath and stand firmly on the jiggly platform. I feel like the wicked witch in Snow White, minus her clothes, standing before the magic mirror (obviously an "R-rated" version, if not a horror flick) .

Scales, scales, on the floor...
Could I be smaller than before?

The dial spins wildly like a roulette wheel until it finds the mystery number. Somewhere inside the techological wonder my imaginary tiny body rests upon, lives a mean and vicious troll. Laughter resonates through the thick callouses of my flattened feet.

Only a miracle can mask the truth,
Sorry to say, there's "more" of you.

So I removed the laundry hanging off my NordicTrac and lowered the rubber road to nowhere. I placed my Kindle on its perch, changing the size of text so I could read it, resulting in only three words per page. My earbuds rest tightly in the only small orifices on my body, my inner ears, and I crank my workout tunes, starting with Fireworks by Katy Perry. I set the speed at a brisk 2.0, feeling my heart pound against my ribs shortly thereafter. Thirty minutes is my goal. Five minutes into my "no sweat" workout, and I'm ready to get serious. I crank the incline to .5 (I know, risky) and edge the speed to 3.0 (beyond dangerous...for a toddler).

I start to run...large heavy thumps from my oh-so-not coordinated steps. (Reasons why I do not run outside where someone could see me. I run like a knock-kneed chicken.) My ponytail is swishing back and forth, my boobs coming dangerously close to blinding me, but I'm running! I can feel the weight melting off, my breaths somewhat forced, but no foam has formed in the corners of my mouth yet. Air blows out my nostrils sounding like a bull charging the streets of Barcelona. My heart pushes harder, the rate on the monitor increasing. I notice the minutes cranking by. Two minutes and I'm pushing a stroke! But I keep going. Then it happens. My "what the hell" moment. Pause the frame.

I get distracted easily. I don't have to actually see a shiny object to lose concentration, I just have to think about the possibility one might exist.

Confession time. I have tried many "how to lose a 100 lbs in 30 minutes" exercise gimmicks. All they do is make me hungry afterward. One of my most comical, and could probably win the $10,000 prize on America's Funniest Home Videos, is my short stint with the "kettle ball." Picture the squat, heels pressed to the floor, and me flinging a weight between my legs and up to my chin, several times. I've had four children, two as a "tag-team." Internal organs were re-arranged with each "blessed event." After about eight "squat -thrusts" (sorry, there just wasn't another way to say it), the "weightloss idea" behind the kettle ball routine becomes obvious, and my twenty-minute workout is cut short.

Another attempt at reshaping my body, or performing a miracle, whichever way you want to look at it, was my attempt at Yoga. I consider "sit-ups" a contortionist act, so Yoga, with all its wonderful stretches, twists and flamingo poses (which never worked for me sober) turned out to be a flop. But I still have the mat.

Fastforward again. My Yoga mat I keep rolled up and tucked between the wall and my NordicTrack platform. However, somehow, through another one of God's need-for-humor-at-Joelene's-expense moments, I forgot to move it, and kicked the mat loose. Without knowing. So I'm jogging my way to death, almost at the five minute mark, when the purple rubber "roll of death" breaks free from the front of my treadmill, and shoots between my feet...which are moving...sort of.

Now God loves me enough to give me a hint of warning before his joke is cast (some call it "common sense"). Because I feared I'd faint at any given moment, I had reached out and was holding the side rails just before the corrugated rubber headed my direction (it is coming lenthwise mind you, without unrolling, just like a large log). However, back to the "shiny object" lesson, the lanyard was not attached to me. I cannot stress the importance of following this simple rule - attach the lanyard to your body! Alas, I had not.

My feet twisted into the rubber mass, my arms snapped into unnatural angles, trying to hold onto my body attempting to wrench itself at the armpits, and my knees crossed somewhere behind me. All in a split second dance to Engrique's Iglesias's new tune Dirty Dancing. Somehow, I grabbed the dangling lifeline and pulled the lanyard off the machine. Why I thought the constant moving ground beneath me would just calmly, slowly ease to a stop is still a mystery. Everything came to an abrupt halt, except my feet, still trying to run a marathon and push my Yoga mat away. It shot off the end of the treadmill and slammed the nightstand. I became a suspended human pretzel.

Remember the game Twister you played at parties? That was me without the colored spots or the cute boy tangled up with me. Now mix that in with my earlier side story about the kettle ball, and there you have it. My "what the hell" moment.

Here's to always being able to laugh at yourself. Check back Saturday night when I'll blog about the ingredients needed for a story recipe, and share a favorite of my own for the Memorial Day barbeque. 

Joelene, or another version of "snap, crackle, pop!"

Friday, May 13, 2011


The "lucky" tune tonight:  The One That Got Away courtesy of Katy Perry

Today is Friday the 13th - the only one of its kind in 2011, which makes it unique. Or does it? I must confess that nothing fantabulous or disastrous happened in my small hemisphere today. But I did feel slightly edgy. Editing into the wee hours of the morning may be more the culprit than anticipating a day doomed to catastrophe and failure. However, the moon is waxing at 75% so maybe its my need for a handsome shapeshifter or a cold lover with exquisite dental work making me restless. Oooh. Just the thought....

Friday the 13th is among the throng of superstitions, myths, and misgivings that unfortunately, we subconsciously submit to. It is also the most popular superstition in the United States. So are you superstitious soul? When you stride down a sidewalk do you catch yourself purposely stepping over the cracks, go around a ladder in your path, quickly throw salt over your left shoulder if you spill it, to ward off a demon? Does a shiver shimmy up your spine when a black cat crosses in front of you, pausing to lock a gaze from glowing emerald green eyes?

I must confess that the "broken mirror" myth may have merit. I used to place my Christmas tree over a large mirror and create a village scene beneath, letting the mirrored glass poke through the angel hair here and there for my imaginary river or ice skating pond. However, one particular year while placing my "Better Homes and Garden" creation on top of my tree, I lost my balance and stumbled off my stool, landing on my mirror...and cracking it. The next seven years proved challenging. I gave birth to surprise twins, forcing me to quit my high-paying job and drastically curbing our financial lifestyle. My husband contracted Epstein Barr, which lasted nearly five years, and my "soul sister" and grandmother died, leaving a void in my heart that never has completely healed. So when I clean mirrors, I use extra caution, say long prayers and confess all sins before squirting cleaner on the glass. With that said, and an earlier post of particular dislikes, you may want to bring your own mirror when visiting.

The superstitions or "cosmic traditions" I prefer to call them, that I adhere to, carry positive connotations. I wish upon a star every night, and if there's a cloud cover, I face North and imagine the tip of the Big Dipper, pointing me to one of my favorite places, Alaska. My heart races when I spy a shooting star, allowing myself as many wishes as I can think of before it fades out.

I indulge in my horoscope every day (I'm the poster child for Aries, although a pinch of Picses seeps in once in a while), relish in my numerology reading (strong 7) and Chinese horoscope (I prefer "Ram" to "Goat"), and love to shake my Eight Ball with important questions like "will an agent call today?" I'm beginning to think that floating piece of paper that insures "most definitely" may be stuck to the bottom. When I go for Chinese food, I commit a felony and steal an extra couple fortune cookies, in case I don't like the first, I have a couple more chances at getting the "truth." If anyone knows of a good psychic close to Southern Utah, send me a number. Mine moved to Tennessee. Great lady and a lot of fun.

Next to anything dipped in chocolate, "fun" is my goal for life. Laughter heals, while it may not "cure," at least for one flickering moment, you don't give a damn and feel happy. It takes less muscles in your face to form a smile than to hold onto a frown. I'm all about using the least amount of muscle in my face!

So how was your "Lucky 13" day? Hopefully, it was dull and boring, or delightful enough to savor as a memory. Signing off to work on saving another superhero. 

Thanks for waving....Harley Brooks, the lucky side of Joelene.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Tonight's melodic tune:  Don't Wake Me When It's Over courtesy of Lifehouse

The sun is fading, a soft apricot glow blanketing the sky as the day slowly surrenders. The gate to my courtyard whines against the breeze tickling the bamboo bushes on either side of the entrance. We'll settle in the wicker chairs on each side of the gurgling fountain to indulge in the final rays of the sun and the last delicious droplets of a favorite drink.

I didn't lie. I do have a courtyard with a fountain, and this time of year, it's a tiny piece of Tuscan fantasy that serves as a sanctuary for reading. I save my little white "untruths" for shocking stuff like age, weight, and shoe size...things that may dull the shine on my bluff and dazzle routine. You'll just have to take me at my word that I'm old enough to know better, but have earned a sense of "entitlement," consider myself "sturdy" enough to weather gale force winds, and choose my shoes by how comfortable the box they come in, feels on my feet. But I have great hair, almost naturally blond. I've mellowed with age, placing importance on more deserving priorities like choosing my friends based on type match for organ donation. Promise me your kidney and we're friends for life (what's left of it, anyway).

Life holds different meaning for me now I've past twenty-nine. I savor the good things...the last bite of pumpkin pie late Thanksgiving night, the smell of rain early in the morning, pink clouds at dawn, and especially the kaleidoscope of colors a desert sunset paints. I love to watch the sunrise and stay up late to relish the peaceful uninterrupted silence of night, not wanting another day to pass.

The same holds true with a good book. The beginning - the dawn captures our minds, holding us hostage as we read scene by scene, chapter to chapter, becoming one with the characters and living their story, hating that the story will eventually end.

Have you ever been caught up in a story that's held you captive up to the last eighth of an inch of pages, only to find the ending suddenly rushed? Or the final chapter flat compared to the beginning chapters that sucked you out of reality? Of course you have. Nothing's worse than vesting your heart in a series or saga, only to have the last book feel contrived, the characters flat-lined, and the ending lackluster. On more than one occasion I've felt robbed by an author when the ending failed to meet the expectations the beginning promised. Don't be one of those writers.

In the beginning, we create worlds and characters in great detail. The action is meticulously crafted and the insightful moments virtual powerhouses. Then suddenly, word count is too high, chapter numbers read in century increments, and sometimes, the characters get tired and want to stop acting. We quickly gather the remaining scenes from our plot sheets, notepads, and creative "right brain," packaging them into one or two final chapters and pen "The End." If loose ends still dangle, we create an epilogue as the bow wrapping our bulging baby. But is our ending as good as our beginning? As authors, do we deliver what we promise our readers? When the final page is turned, has the hunger to read our story been satiated?

Savor the endings. Close your story painting with all the same colorful details artistically woven in the first chapters. If your readers come away emotionally satisfied when they close your books, they will rush to buy your next one, knowing the journey they are about to embark on through your words, will deliver the promise offered in the first pages. Let your last words hold the same impact as your first.

Maybe we should pitch our endings instead of our beginnings? Don't rush at life or at writing. We might miss a moment that could serve as a cherished memory, or fail to create one for someone else.

Here's to "happy satisfied endings."  Joelene