Saturday, July 30, 2011


Today's ear tickler:  "I Want All of You" from The Verve Pipe. Yes, it's a sultry little tune and inspired  many romantic moments in my stories.

Today we're pulling a lawn chair under the trees shading the corner of the yard. I invite you to kick off your shoes and let the cool grass temper the heat on the bottoms of your feet. A tall glass of water over crushed ice with a lemon wedge circling the top is as strong as I want on hot summer afternoons, but you can imagine any frosty thirst quencher you need.

As I posted on Wednesday, I've been blog touring this week to see what my comrades have to say. It's been a welcome change, reading for fun instead of stressing over my own blog. Found these fun, interesting, and inspiring posts.

If you stop by and like what you find, do the author a professional favor and "share" on your Facebook, Twitter, or email spaces. Also, sign up to "follow." I've been in two online classes this past month where the agents/publishers said if they get a query they're interested in, they check out the author's "spaces" or "places" to learn more about them, see their voice...and check out their following. If an author shows an impressive following and is receiving positive feedback from their visitors, it shows them the author already has "fans" who will likely buy their book and recommend them to others. 

This is a wonderful, but brutal business and with all the publishing options, twists and setbacks, it makes breaking through the barriers as a new author, difficult. When I hit the "send" key and post my blog each week, a state of panic swamps me. Did I make it interesting or did I sound stupid? Is my blog entertaining? Will anyone comment? Or did I "die on the vine?" I check my blog several times the first day and I get excited when I find comments. That means someone actually read it! It also proves I'm not dangling alone out there in the great cyber vastness.

Even more exciting though, is finding my number of followers consistently growing. I do have fans...ones I don't have to "pay" for! Little pop-ups come on my email telling me so-and-so has mentioned me on Twitter, or now following me there (sorry, still fluttering in the nest), and also mentioned me on Facebook. All of these little things help boost an author's confidence. I know it's a personal puff of wind beneath my wings when you stop by.

Okay, so here's what I've found. 

A.  Patricia wants to know what the best piece of advice is you've ever received. Myself? I have two. 1. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.  2.  You can only change the person you become.  If I was to give you a piece of advice I would say "Believe in something...and let that something be yourself." Check out her blog:

B.  A new cyberfriend, Deborah Dale, posted wonderful blog about Harry Potter. I would never have thought about a parallel between Harry Potter and 9/11, but she's demonstrated it in a unique way - an outlet for our children who couldn't comprehend the tragedy we couldn't hide from them as adults. Check it out.

C.  Tiffany A. White's Ooo Factor. She posts Friday's FabOoolousness. This week deals with a subject that always catches my attention:  real life crime stories/mysteries. This week it was the Kiss and Kill Murder in 1961 in Odessa, Texas. Tiffany has a personal connection to the ghostly story. Curious? Stop by:

D.  I'm drawn to real life mysteries - the "who-did-it-but-disappeared" or "WTF?" when a body is discovered unexpectedly. It's like playing an ongoing reality game of CLUE. Catie Rhodes posted about the possible mystery identity behind "Jack the Ripper." The story gave me the creeps, naturally, but moreso because I lived through the Ted Bundy slayings. In fact, his lone survivor and the girl who identified him, worked with me. My parents wouldn't let me even go to the grocery store without taking one of my brothers with me. An unsettling feeling to have police inside your workplace all day. They were protecting her, in case he escaped jail and during the hearing. So having had our own version of "Jack the Ripper" in our hometown, I identified with the fear the people in Texas were going through. Check it out:

E.  Last, but not even close to "least" is a personal one to me. This is a dear writer friend who I met at conference last year and we just "clicked." She's recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has undergone radical surgery and is now starting her Chemo. Her outlook on life is amazingly upbeat. She's ready to embrace "bald is beautiful" and if anyone could pull it off, it would be Jenn. The day she went in for surgery I had my own mammogram done (and yes...I want to invent the "penilgram" every time I go). My hooters slap my knees and I can read the paper through them now, but I passed another year. Please stop by her blog and show your support. All of us will be touched in some way by this horrible disease, so reach out when you can. I'm a firm (parts of me are anyway) believer in pay it forward...the good you do will come to you. Check out my friend at:

I checked out the links to make sure they worked, but once you hit "post" cyber gremlins can attack. I'm crossing my fingers they all work.  If you have one you'd like to brag about, please share. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Today's thought:  There's no such thing as failure...only learning experiences.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WACKY WEDNESDAY...where anything goes

Tonight's listen:  My thoughts...or the lack of.  My creative muses have laryngitis. I've barely heard them over the past couple of weeks. I yell into the "well of ideas" and my echo doesn't even come back. It's like standing in the middle of the playground with no one to play with. Lonely. Frustrating.

Could be the heat. We're spiking over 110 degrees everyday. Not the blissful summers of childhood when I spent the afternoon running through sprinklers. There were four of us who lived in a row. After lunch when the sun blistered hot, we talked our mothers into putting a sprinkler in the middle of each of our lawns. We'd race from one yard to the other, splashing in our makeshift water park until our skin pebbled from the cold. Then we plopped onto one of our driveways, prone against the cement. No towels. We liked the way the hot concrete immediately warmed our bodies.

In a moment of sheer insanity, I contemplate running through the sprinklers, but small children are outside playing. The sight of me in my "miracle suit" (refer to skinny jean blog) and my celestial white body bouncing across the yard could cost their parents thousands of dollars in therapy bills. Instead, I drive through the pack of semi-people in my air conditioned car to the nearest burger joint for lunch.

Sitting behind some woman who apparently ordered food for "the ten tribes," I wait, watching the thermometer on the dash so I'd know the exact moment to flee before the car bursts into flames from overheating. There's no turning off the car. That would mean the air conditioning will stop. Meanwhile, I watch the "people show" performing around me.

When my children were small and trapped for long periods on road trips, I made up stories about the people in the cars next to us to entertain them, including gross body sounds to hold their attention. I find myself doing this while waiting for the pimply faced kid to prepare each of the custom ordered hamburgers from the car in front of me. Making up stories that is, not gross body sounds.

Two women pass on one side, dressed in office attire, undoubtedly gossiping about a co-worker - the new girl. Young and perky. A threat. The bosses seem to like her a bit too much and ignore the fact she spends the day texting instead of doing her work - probably because she wears short skirts or tight blouses.

Ahead, a teenage girl walks in front of a women close to my age, whose voice sounds loud and annoying. I decide the young girl has spent her lunch listening to her mother inform her she is attending a family reunion this weekend instead of hooking up with her friends, and no, she can't take her boyfriend.

But the most interesting character is the guy perched on the curb, smoking a cigarette. All the supporting characters pass by and he never so much as raises a brow their direction. He studies the sky, puffing gray tendrils of curly smoke into the hot air. His ankles cross, his right foot nervously jiggling behind the left. The expression on his face appears worrisome. Perhaps the bills are piling up at home and working two jobs still doesn't bring in enough to keep above the red line. His wife just found out she is pregnant. An unexpected event, given the toddler clinging to her leg. Life keeps dealing him the ace of spades instead of the queen of hearts. They had such dreams when they fell in love, but all too soon, the fantasy bubble is pricked by reality's needle. 

Life is full of stories. In the few short minutes I waited, I'd mentally created scenes to three possible ones. As I pulled away with my cheeseburger and fries, I watch my star player crush his cigarette beneath his toe and walk along the wall of the building in front of me. Suddenly, he morphs into a younger version with a his own new story to tell. I swear he winked at me! (If you want a glimpse into my new bad boy's story, check out "Muses and Bruises.")

Everyone is a "composer," whether through a pen on a piece of paper or a note plucked on tightly wound string. Some wax dreamy and poetic, while others serve it raw and brutally honest. Like music, writing takes on several moods, each refrain or chapter created from an impression in our imagination.

Given my three act play, which characters left an impression in your imagination? Whose story would you tell?

I'm doing a little "blog touring" and gathering some favorite posts to share. This week, I found author Sandy Rowland's blog about colors and animals equating to the way we looked at ourself and others. After struggling with some tough edits, I let my guard down and a touch of self doubt tried to wiggle in. When I indulged in Sandy's fun, quick test, I discovered I viewed myself the total opposite of what I felt. This gave me a much needed push to edge past the negative thoughts trying to take over. Thanks Sandy. Check out her blogsite:  She blogs on life coaching...stuff I love.

Come back to see if yours makes the list. 

As always, thanks for supporting me by stopping by, even if you were looking somewhere else. I'll blog about those crossroads later. Until then...put the shades on and be cool! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WACKY WEDNESDAY...Where Anything Goes

Today, I hand you a helmet. You can imagine it any color, put an imaginary lightning bolt graphic down the sides, whatever you need to make you look "cool," but fasten it tight under your chin and hop on back of "Odie," my bright yellow 4-wheeler. I'm taking you for a ride. 

I have already tucked my hair inside one of my many colorful bandannas (I'll choose my lime green one for tonight's story) and a bright pink one across my nose. I'm a "paisley bandit." I slide my sunglasses on and press my Skull Candy earphones into my ear canals (I'm testing the promise of deafness, but figure with all the teenagers rocking out to bass sounds blasting in their delicate auditory orifices, "sign language" will be the universal language in the very near future, regardless of where your feet are planted on the globe). Once I've picked my playlist and adjusted the volume, I tuck my electronic oxygen tank inside my bra. No chance of it falling out, trust me.

At this point, I'm reading lips. If you had something important to say, you should have spoke up earlier. I pull my goggles over my sun glasses, tugging on my fabric mask until the world clears from the steamy fog. By now people in nearby camps are wondering if I'm going on a ride or planning a terrorist attack. If I ease my hoodie over my fabric menagerie, I could pass for a very flamboyant uni-bomber.

We start down the trail. Winter has not been kind to the dirt paths, now covered with large boulders that rolled off the hillside. I swerve a couple of times to miss the large holes (I do believe I saw a Volkswagen deep inside one) nearly decapitating you with the downed pine tree jutting over the road. Overhead, aspen trees weighed down with heavy snows, form a shimmery canopy. Again, duck!

The odometer says we've traversed approximately 10 miles of dirt, taking us deep into the quiet forest. The pines are thick, hiding any predators or curious onlookers with four legs and paws. Freeze. I probably should have mentioned I am a magnet for mountain lions. Seldom do I ride a trail, dirt or snow, without finding those large cat paw prints crossing my path on the way back and lining the sides of the road. When I say I feel like I'm being "watched," I usually am.

Potty break you say? You sure do walk funny over to those bushes. Guess I should have kept my "kitty tales" until after we were safely back in camp...not in the middle of nowhere. Relax. I sing along to my iPod. Trust me, the off key notes resounding from my larynx will frighten away any beast. Ask my kids. How degrading is it to have your six year old ask you not to sing to the radio, or refuse to listen to you warble a lullaby? Seriously.

As we ride along, taking in the smell of balsam pines and cedar trees, watching the puffy clouds dot the cornflower blue sky (in the mountains we watch clouds very carefully - fluffy turns frightening within minutes. Guess you don't want to hear my lightning stories at this point, either), we are in awe of nature and the beauty our eyes are feasting on.

Rounding a bend in the trail we come upon a most peculiar sight. Something completely out of place, like purple carpeting in an orange room. It's not meant to be here in the woods. In fact, I despise the fact it has invaded the pristine surroundings. Isn't it enough that I have to look at several every day? Apparently not, because there it sits. It's smaller, perhaps an "offspring" from the larger variety, but every bit as demanding in its triangular border. It even sits close to the ground in a condescending manner. But the words are the same.

That's right. Even in the middle of nowhere, on a trail barely 4 feet wide, there is "road work ahead." Sure enough a few feet down the road, a little mini-grader is digging and moving dark loam into a mound at the base of a hill that heads straight to Heaven. There is no doubt this is my "tax dollars at work," or that the 5 men clad in bright orange vests and reflector stripes worked for the government. One man ran the mini-ex, one man leaned on a hand shovel near the mound, and the other three animated gentlemen gestured with their arms and hands as if playing charades. Maybe they were. "Two words. Single syllables. Rhymes with 'rake mime'." Got it? Break time. Yeah, they looked like they'd worked up a sweat. When I realized they were making a large berm to prevent off road vehicles from climbing the hill, flashbacks of the huge holes, enormous boulders, and downed trees waiting to spear you, entered my mind. 

I wanted to go over and shout: "Hey, there's a family of ten inside an RV that dropped out of sight in one of the holes back there. Maybe you could use some of that dirt to fill in the hole and bury their screams, instead of creating what will surely become a launching point for some thrill seeker on a dirt bike, landing him higher on the hill."

Instead, I pass by, deep scowl covered in bandanna print, with my middle finger twitching inside my riding glove. Honestly, a "Road Work Ahead" sign in the middle of the woods? 

The fact is that wherever I drive, I'm plagued by orange triangles, orange barrels, orange cones, flashing orange arrows, and orange vests (although I must confess to seeing some serious "guy candy" holding stop signs). By the end of summer, I've had a gut full of road construction.

There are a couple of stretches of I-15 heading northward that are test strips for 80 MPH speed limits. This is America's comparison to Europe's autobahn. This is also where I can make up for lost time, allowing for that 4.9 over cushion. However, when I crest the ridge, my Mazda 3 engine squealing with excitement, my heart stops. Down the steep grade is a perfect line of orange barrels, narrowing the two-lane highway to one lane barely wide enough to hold a Mini Cooper, let alone a semi hauling three trailers....which is in front of me. 

I eye the line of cars I'm going to need to pass in order to get in front of the FEDEX train. Two Ryder moving vans (there should be a law that you can't move and tow a car except during the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning), a long, over-priced RV towing a monstrous boat (I shall pause to covet as I pass by), two ya-da ya-da ordinary cars, and one "floating island." A "Q-Tip" (earlier Wacky Wednesday blog defines q-tips) has ventured onto the interstate. This will be a true test of my driving ability. 

I gun it, my eyes scanning the road ahead and grassy dividers for anything parked on the side or under a tree...with a light bar attached to the roof. I pass the ya-da ya-da cars with ease, closing in on the second Ryder moving van. Ahead I see the tiny orange banner across a white sign - one I will not be able to read until I'm within inches because I'm too vain to acknowledge I need glasses 24-7, but I recognize it as the written warning that fines will be ten times worse, and possibly a life prison sentence if I speed in a construction zone. That makes my quest more urgent.

I'm now midway in the length of the RV.  I make a low judgement call to justify my seething jealousy. They've got to do something illegal for a living.  As I pull ahead of the custom paint job, I see the arrows flashing ahead, mentally pushing me into the right lane. But I haven't passed FEDEX!  The line of orange I swear stretched to the Canadian border. If I didn't pass the "overnight guarantee," I would be stuck behind him for miles. 

I apologize to Mags (my car) but explain it may be necessary to check out the red danger zone on the tachometer in order to accomplish my goal. She agrees and gladly opens up. We're almost there. I think I saw the 55 MPH sign flash by, but I only have seconds before I'll slam a orange barrel. Then I see it. The sneaky bastard. Tucked in the deep grass. A beautiful blue color and decorated quite nicely with a secret row of lights in the back window. I slip behind the FEDEX truck, narrowly missing the Q-Tip holding up the rest of the traffic on my behalf, and yell at Mags to slow down. She does, immediately. 

I coast close to the bumper of the FEDEX truck, counting the rivets in it's chrome bumper while feeling the paint on my hood bubble slightly, under the sudden change in atmospheric pressure. I slowly glide by the "county mounty" not making eye contact and of course, singing away to the radio. He must have heard me, because all he did was wag a warning with his finger from his steering wheel (and yes, it was probably "the" finger). Besides, he'd have to maneuver the orange barriers, then break the speed limit, resulting in a heavy fine...which of course, I would point out. "Cleavage" can no longer get me out of a ticket, so I have to be clever, or have a good joke I can wager in exchange for a warning citation. 

I spend the next 45 minutes racing between 20 and 25 MPH. Even "Gramps" is tailgating me as if I could actually push the FEDEX truck faster.

Now you understand why I shuddered when I saw the "Road Work Ahead" sign encroach on my slice of heaven on earth. Next there will be little "heavy fine" warnings, tiny flashing arrow signs, and somewhere on the trail, hidden behind a tree,  robo-cop will be waiting for me. The reality I'm trying to escape will follow like an annoying dark shadow, forcing me to "follow and obey".... or else.

As always, thanks for stopping by!  See you next time.