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Monday, September 23, 2013

ORACON

ORACON. Ozarks Romance Writers Conference.

What a great time! This was my first writer's conference. As a matter of fact, I joined Ozarks Romance Authors and Sleuth's Ink mystery writers about a year ago. It was one of the better decisions I have made in my career.

It doesn't matter what your passion: knitting, quilting, drawing, or painting, join a group.
Just because the people in your family believe you are strange and obsessed with your hobby or career doesn't mean you are.  There is nothing more enlightening and invigorating than a room full of people who share your dream.

Tattered Wings would never been published without the two groups I mentioned.  They are nurturing, supportive and smart.

We started our weekend at Barnes and Nobel with a group of talented writers signing their works. They were the speakers for the conference the next day. Everyone came to see them. I had the pleasure of meeting David L. Harrison, who has written 89 children's books and is the Poet Laureate  of Drury College.  He came to meet the authors, as did dozens of others from the community and people who were merely browsing through the book store.

The evening ended with a tremendous dinner at the Flame in downtown Springfield and a chance to visit one on one.

It was an electric evening. Everyone had their guard down and told stories about their experiences. Laughter filled the room. My only regret is that I couldn't see it from a higher vantage point or talk to more people.

Saturday morning ORACON started. It was held at the University Plaza Hotel and Conference center.
We heard about traditional publishing, Indie publishing, backward plotting, and cover ideas, just to name a few. We had a query letter gong show which turned out to be funny and quite the learning experience.

I was thrilled when seasoned  and successful writers dropped by and bought my books, The Adventures of Diggitty Dog and Tattered Wings.  Another plus to the day was getting to know V. J.Goodin Schultz who sat next to me. I am currently reading V.J.'s anthology The Death of Big Foot and Other Tails. I recommend it.

Honestly, I have a list of books on my Kindle and on the edge of my desk by most of the members of the two groups I mentioned. I am reading them one by one and each day I am more impressed by the amazing gift for writing these folks have.

A special congratulations to Allison Merritt, Lisa Medley, SD Keeling, and Sara K Jordan for the awards they won at the conference. 

I am probably forgetting someone. Let me finish by saying I am proud to be among you and proud of you.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kind, Right, and Necessary

 I decided to follow the Buddhist Boot Camp philosophy and not speak unless what I have to say is true, kind, and necessary. Well, I haven't uttered a word in three days!  Do you realize how much we say is unkind and unnecessary?

Well, I can tell you, probably 99.9 %. 

The problem with life is we are too judgmental. Someone says, "That guy needs a dentist." Well, do they know that guy can fix anything?  He lives in his own happy little world and has never been in a position that afforded him the means to have his teeth repaired. Should we shun him or mention his nasty teeth to everyone we meet?

"Well, this here guy came up long side me and scared the bee geezus outta me," the lady said.  We aren't asking her to lunch at the tearoom, are we?  Yet she has three college educated children she put through school while scrubbing floors at the hospital. Everyone adores her. We are so shallow.

The same goes for tattoos, fat bellies, and bald guy comb overs.

It all boils down to this. We don't know why people talk, walk, or look like they do. So don't judge.
We are all here to be the best authentic person we can be. Instead of looking down at people, smile.
say,hi, what could it hurt?

There is a story about collective consciousness I have always remembered. Jane Goodall  had lived with the gorillas for almost twenty years when she saw a young one do something no other gorilla had ever done. I wish I could remember what it was. Let's just say he ate a banana upside down.
She noted it. Five days later, every monkey in the group was doing this and then reports came in from around the world. All gorillas and monkeys were now doing the same thing.

Maybe we could do the same thing.
Maybe our positive thoughts and silent blessing to people will become a worldwide movement.

I can only hope that for one day you will try to not say anything that is not kind, true, or necessary.
It is a huge eye-opener.

Try not to think it either, because thoughts become your reality, only pick the good ones.
If I am preaching I am sorry, not my intent. Mostly I am trying to remind myself that we are here to create. Create books, good dinners, happy kids, wonderful days, memories, and clean floors... if that is all we know.

What will you create today?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Susan Keene, hunter.


I was writing a post for facebook and realized it would make a good blog.
 
Last year I was riding around the farm in my golf cart. (that is how we city farmers do it)
The orchard was in good shape, the sheep fence was secure and the lane gave me a clear view of the cows and their new offspring. The only detour I needed to make was to actually go into the steer pasture and check on them because I couldn't see down the hill.
 
There they were,all either standing in the pond or lounging in the shade except for one. He was dancing a pawing and jumping like he was in a samba contest.
 
I drove my cart closer and there was the biggest snapping turtle I had ever seen. How big you ask? Well, if you like turtle soup, he would have fed all of the county.  Several things came to mind when I saw them. My dad said if a snapping turtle gets a hold of you, it will not let go until it thunders. Since the sky was bright blue, I sat and studied the situation. The steer could not get away from the creature because in spite of its size, it was quick.
 
The chances of controlling the steer were better than the chances of controlling the turtle.
By this time Blenna (my farm partner) was on the scene, but being braver than I am, she was on foot.
 She shooed the steer back and I shot the turtle with the handgun I carry. Well, I shot him nine times. Apparently I did not hit a vital organ although I did slow him down. He wasn't chasing anyone. After about ten minutes of him laying still, we turned him over on his back and covered him with heavy rocks to keep other critters from discovering him. What we didn't need was a few more predators in the pasture.
 
The next day, my daughter came to visit. She brought some of her friends. Their favorite pastime is walking around the farm and exploring. We related the story about the snapping turtle and guess what?
 
When they came back to the house for lunch, they said the grave was empty. "Couldn't be, " I said.
So off we went to show her where we put the thing. Well, indeed, it was gone. We followed the trail and that monster had dug out of the whole, turned over boulders it took both of us to lift and made it at least fifty yards down the creek bed before it died.
 
I am not a big proponent of killing things. We have a do no harm policy here. But when the safety of one of the animals or one of us is threatened, I will pull the trigger.
 
Did you know a snapping turtle will dig through your pond and destroy it so it will no longer hold water. They are nocturnal and love to lay in wait for prey. Never pick a snapping turtle up by the tail. they are usually too heavy and if they get angry, they can reach up and get you.
 
And never try to find out if it is true that they won't let go until it thunders.
 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shameless Self Promotion with a little insight added.

Okay, one paragraph of self promotion and then my blog.
 
I have attached the first Chapter of Tattered Wings at the end of this blog. Of course, I am hoping  it will grab your attention and keep you from sleeping  until you buy the book and read the ending.

Yesterday I had lunch with three talented ladies. They are writers, publishers, musicians and all around interesting people.
We talked about writing and characters and the publishing business.
It is so good to know that other people have characters roaming around in their heads. These phantom folks who eventually live in the pages of a novel completely written in our minds.
The hard part is sitting down at your desk on a beautiful spring morning and putting it all down on paper. That is why it takes me so long to write a book. (I am trying to change my ways.)

Tattered Wings was penned on the ten year plan, not because it was so difficult to write, but because I could always find something to do that distracted me from the business of getting it down on paper.

Finally I did it. I made myself get up and go straight to the kitchen for coffee and then off to the office to write. I now know the key is to get it down on paper.  The book can always be changed, characters tweaked and locals investigated.

Once you are at a point where THE END is inevitable, bombs burst in air, the sun shines brighter and you feel ten pounds lighter.

The Adventures of Diggitty the Dog  was quite another story. I wrote Diggitty on a legal pad in forty-five minutes in the dark with only a nightlight to guide my words.  It had been on my mind for a long time to write a series of children's books based on my real life dog Diggitty and things that actually happen here on the farm. I am trying to write Diggitty Dog and the Dairy Cow, but I know I will have to wait until it is ready to be written. Mahaaaaaaaaa.....Strange things happen to me when I am writing.

So if you write, sew, draw or cook and it is a labor of love, get with it. Make a schedule, don't let anything distract you. When it is all said and done, people usually regret what they didn't take time to do.  Enjoy the first chapter of Tattered Wings, and a special thanks to Patti Tierney,  Susie Knust, and Sharon Kizziah- Holmes for a great afternoon and insight into how the artistic mind works.

Look for Unlikely Hero by Tierney James (Patti), Twentieth Century in Rural America, The Shockley Family Stories, by Susie Knust, and  Sharon Kizziah-Holmes new Romantic Short Stories, you won't be disappointed.

Tattered Wings, Chapter One.
Ian Michaels only had one foot in the back door when Maggie stepped into his office.
“Ian, I’m glad you're here. There's a girl in the waiting room. She says she must see you.”
“Who is she?”
“She's the sister of the Johnston kid who supposedly killed all of those people.”
“Why does she want to see me?”
“She didn't say. When I drove up this morning she was sitting on the steps. I told her it would be best to have an appointment, but she wouldn't leave.”
“Strange.” Ian shed his overcoat.
The phone rang and Maggie reached over the desk to answer it. “Ian Michael's office, may I help you?” There was a pause before she spoke again. “Yes, I'll tell him. One moment please.” She pushed the mute button and looked up at her boss. “It’s the district attorney's office. Tom Waters wants to speak to you.”
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders. His practice was almost exclusively divorce oriented with a few corporate accounts and wills for old friends and neighbors. None of his clients warranted a call from the district attorney. Taking the phone from his secretary, he pushed the button to activate the sound. “This is Ian Michaels. How can I help you, Tom?”
“I'm calling about the Johnston boy.”
“Why me?”
“In his initial interview he told me you were his attorney.”
“This is the first I've heard about it. I don't handle criminal cases.”
“I didn't think so, but the kid had your business card. He gave it to me himself.”
“If it weren't for him having my card, I'd say I was a random pick. I don't want any part of it, truthfully, I haven't followed the case. Isn't he just a kid, fifteen or sixteen?”
“He's sixteen.”
“What do his parents say?”
“They’re not in the picture. Because he’s a minor, we tried to get them down here. I finally sent a patrol car for his father and we hauled him to the station. He sat in on the interview. All he did was say over and over he had done all he could. I think he's relieved the kid's in jail.”
“My suggestion is that you get him a public defender. Isn't that standard in a case like this?”
“I would think you would want to see him if only to find out where he got your card. So, his parents haven't contacted you?”
“No, but his sister is camped out in my waiting room. She told my secretary she couldn't leave without seeing me.”
“Well, let me know what you decide to do,” Tom continued. “He's a strange little bastard.”
“I want no part of this. I don't intend to see him or his sister. Get him a public defender.”
Ian set the phone in its cradle and turned toward Maggie. “Tell the girl we’re too busy to see her today.”
Maggie stood rooted to her spot. “Don't you have the slightest curiosity about her?”
“Not really.”
“She's awfully upset.”
The phone rang again. Maggie turned on her heel and walked toward the door leading to the waiting room and her desk. “I'll answer that from out here.”
Ian pushed away from his desk turning his chair toward the window. The panoramic view of Forest Park below always made him feel better. He was beginning to relax his way into the day when his secretary came back into the room.
“Yes, Maggie?” He had a feeling about what was coming next.
“Ian, please see the girl. She isn't going to leave and what we're going to end up with is a nasty scene if we’ve got to have her removed. It's only a couple of minutes out of our day. Your first appointment isn't due for over an hour.”
Turning to face his secretary he heaved a heavy sigh and stood. Taking his time, he stretched each muscle in his neck and back until some of the tightness was gone. Maybe he was overreacting.
What could it hurt if he saw her?
He was suddenly tired as he followed Maggie to where the girl was waiting.
A slow sweep of the outer office showed nothing had changed. Everything was as he wanted it- but for the girl. She sat tucked into a massive chair at the far side of the room, near the exit.
There she was, crumpled like a rag doll. Her clothes were neat and clean. She wore skinny jeans and a crop top and looked like a thousand other teenage girls he had passed on the street.
Maggie was at her desk, busy with the computer. Ian looked at her and back to the girl. “So you're still here?” he said.
The girl didn't answer him. All he got was a slight nod of her elfish head.
“Bring Miss Johnston into my office,” Ian said in a voice that cut the unnerving quiet in the room.
Maggie jumped to her feet. “Yes sir.” Ian could feel her hot stare on his back. He was out of the room before her words reached him.
He looked up as his secretary and the girl walked into the room. He saw Maggie give the child a smile.
How could someone so small and insignificant looking, so young, be the cause of so much uneasiness in a grown man?
“You’ve been waiting a long time, Miss Johnston,” he said in his most businesslike voice.
“How’s it you think I can help you?”
“I’ve come about my brother.” She wiped her hands on her jeans, and then massaged her temples.
“What about him?”
She glanced over to Maggie and then back to him before she spoke.  At five feet six inches Maggie's tall lean slender body looked huge next to the child.  The kid sat ramrod straight with a poise well beyond her age, quite different from the waif he had encountered in the waiting room. Ian watched as Maggie nodded at the girl and gave her another smile.
“My brother wants you to come to the jail and talk to him.” 
“Why me?” Huge tears began rolling down the teenager's cheek, staining her already tired and worried looking face. He hated to see a woman cry.
“I don't know. I'm only doing what he asked me to do.”
“Don't cry,” he said, acknowledging her tears. “Maggie, would you get our guest a tissue?”
It wasn’t in his nature to make the girl suffer, but he didn't want to encourage her, either.  He overcame the urge to relax and lean back in his chair. “Let me explain my position. I'm not the kind of lawyer your brother needs. He seeks an attorney who handles crime. I don't do that. You'll have to explain that to him.”
“Mr. Michaels. You don't know Kenny. He'll haunt you, make your life miserable, until he gets his way.”
Ian slammed his hand on the desk with much more force than he intended. “Do not threaten me, young lady.”
“I'm not threatening you. I just want you to understand.” Her hands trembled as her voice quivered in a bizarre unison. She hesitated before she continued. “Kenny is – well – different. He’s got no one to help him- only me – and I don't want to. Our parents are divorced, our mother doesn't live here. Our step-mother won't lift a finger to help. She wants it known he's not hers and she's not responsible for what he did. My dad, well, he does what needs to be done to keep peace in the family. I think he’s seen Kenny once because the cops came and got him.” She was talking so fast, Ian couldn’t stop her until she paused.
“I understand he's your brother, but your family's best course of action is to contact the public defender's office. They'll appoint someone to represent Kenny.” He stood to indicate the interview was over.
The girl looked at Ian but remained seated. “Kenny doesn't want a public defender. He wants you.” He could see she had no intention of leaving now. He saw fear in her eyes.  After taking a deep breath, Ian glanced toward Maggie. She’d been watching the entire exchange as if it was a tennis match. He wondered why she seemed to be rooting for the girl.
Ian was still standing. Tension hung like stale air in the room. A man beaten at his own game, he looked down at the tiny girl as if for the first time. He let his body fall back into the familiar seat behind him.
“What's your name?”
“Amber.”
“How old are you?”
“Seventeen.”
“All right Amber, I'll speak to your brother. I'm only going to find out what’s going on, and how I became a part of it. I’m not consenting to defend him.”
Amber all but melted in her chair. The expression in her eyes was what he imagined he would see in the eyes of a convict getting a stay of execution ten seconds before the switch was thrown. “I'll drop by the jail tomorrow.”
“Oh, Mr. Michaels, thank you, thank you, and thank you.” For a minute Ian thought the teen was going to come over the desk and hug him. Instead she backed out of the room, tripping over things as she went. She mumbled to herself as she left the office.
Maggie and Ian sat in silence.  Ian turned his chair toward the window.
Why was the girl so afraid?
“Maggie,” he said.
“Yes, Ian?”
“Can you get me the papers with the accounts of all the murder and mayhem the boy's supposed to be a part of? And call your buddy over at the court house. Find out what they're saying. Not the official stuff, I want to know what they really think.” He glanced at his watch. “How does the rest of the day look?”
“Mark Robertson will be here at eleven and we’ve got Mrs. Schneider and her will at two. At four- thirty David Marshall’s coming by to sign his custody papers and go over the terms of visitation.
All in all we have a light day.”
“Thanks.” He remained staring out the window.
“Was there anything else?” He was lost in thought and had forgotten she was still sitting there. “You can go. Let me know when Mark gets here.”
Ian heard the door close softly behind her as she went back to her office. He stood and ran his hand from his collar to his waist to straighten his tie and leaned on the window sill. He could see Amber running down the street and he shook his head.
“Mark Robertson's here.”
“Send him in.”
He was never fond of Mondays.


 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, no not Arithmetic: MARKETING.

There are as many ideas about how to market your book as there are books. For those of you who don't know, 900 books a day come onto the market. That is about 386,000 books a year. Of those, most sell about 500 copies each.

We are all sure we wrote the great American novel. Our characters are unique, our story is one of a kind, and we have edited it into a fine tuned piece of literature. The rub is: so did most of the other people in those 386,000  cases.

So what do we do to make our novel, book, short story, thriller, romance, non-fiction, soon to be classic stand out in the crowd?

I am becoming an expert in this field. At least an hour or two a day, I cruise Google, YouTube, marketing sights, and blogs, trying to come up with new ideas.
Here are some of the best so far.

1.Write a press release. Make it no more than 300 words and write it in 3rd person. This lets you avoid the "I" word all the time. 

2. Send a picture of you with your book any time you do a correspondence. If they have the story AND the picture, you have a better chance of getting your article in the paper, magazine or whatever venue you are addressing.

3.Take signed copies of your book (s) to the local library and donate them. Try to make this a photo op and ask them to put it on their bulletin board so everyone coming into the building can see it.

4.Offer to read your book at the library if it is a children's book. If it is an adult book, offer to give a book review. If you don't think you are an expert, think again. You are a published author. That carries weight and everyone wants to know what inspired you, how you developed your characters and chose your location.  Remember, everyone thinks they have one good novel inside them. You could be the inspiration to get them started.


5.Take books and business cards everywhere you go. Don't be afraid to tell people you are a writer.

6. Call schools, offer to read your book  (children's) to classes. Don't charge, but tell them to let the parents know you will be there and how much the book is, and WHO to make the check out to if they are paying by check. Believe me, if the check is made out to the school you will NEVER get it and will have to resign yourself to the fact that you just donated your proceeds.

7.Talk to schools about speaking to older children about writing books. They love it, they ask great questions and again, they won't have money with them so take cards, and/or bookmarks, and hold you book up a lot so the cover  makes an impression on them.

8.Have a Face book presence and post tidbits about your book.

9. Look at trailers on YouTube and make one yourself. They don't have to be as elaborate as some you see.

10. Take copies of your books to popular local shops. Offer them 10-15% of the cover price for selling them on consignment.

11. Visit your local bookstores and do book signings. They love having you.

Okay. That's enough for today.
Good luck, happy selling and don't forget to support each other. No one knows more than we do how good it feels to see a friend or acquaintance has re-tweeted or re-posted our stuff.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Blog Hop

The Blog Hop.
Thanks to, Amanda Buxton, for thinking I am interesting enough to be in her blog hop.

What am I working on right now?

I am making the editorial changes to my mystery/thriller Tattered Wings.
It is the story of a young boy who kills and why he feels it is necessary.
All through the story are bits of the lives affected by this boy's actions.
Do we make killers or are then born?

How does my writing process work?

Not like anyone else's from what I read.  I always get a kick out of how people say they write. They make their character list, they develop them, they get their scenes in their heads and off they go putting it all together.
This is how it works for me.
I can't sleep. An idea floats around in my head, then it starts beating against my forehead saying "Get up you lazy bum and write  this down because you won't remember it in the morning."
I drag myself out and transfer everything nagging in my brain on to a piece of paper.  I feel relieved and go back to bed. When I get up in the morning to go into my office. I am flabbergasted at what is on the paper. Here is a sample of what was in my head the other night when the idea for the Murders of Madison Hill came to me at 3:35 am.


“He's dead.”   

            “How do you know?”

            “Allen, you can't mistake dead!” Nate was poking the blue blob with a stick.


 “Come on Nate, I don’t like this. I keep thinkin’ he’s gonna move. Besides, if he’s dead we need to tell somebody.”

            “Allen, we aren't supposed to cut through the woods. Mom said next time we did, she’d  ground us.”

            “Jeez, Nate.  How can you think of that now?  If you don't go with me, I am going alone.”

            Nate didn’t move from his spot. He kept looking, prodding, and trying to turn the guy over, but he needed something bigger.

            It was an adult, and he looked horrible.  There was blood all over the leaves around him and the blue jogging suit he was wearing.  There was a definite whole in his head. The eye Nate could see  was open and foggy. Just as Nate began to turn toward Allen, he heard a rustling sound in the distance. It was rapidly getting closer. Nate pushed his little brother so hard he tripped. Reaching down he pulled the younger boy up, grabbed his hand,and ran toward the nearest clump of trees.  Pushing Allen down again, he threw himself on top, and clamping  his hand over his little brother's mouth, he whispered,  “Shut up. Don't move. Don't breathe.”

            Allen began to cry.
 
Hum, now I have Allen and Nate, where do I go from there? Honestly, I don't know but it will be interesting to find out. I am merely the writer and the thing inside of me that guides me lets me have all the fun.
 
What is the hardest part of writing?
 
Actually sitting down and writing. I seem to have a problem concentrating on it for very long. I like to read and walk around the farm. I visit the animals and pet the dogs. My woodshop calls my name because I like to build things. The only way it works for me it to go to the office first thing in the morning and write. I do most of my writing in my PJ's. If I get distracted early, it is a lost day.
 
What authors do I admire?
 
Mark Twain, Jeanette Walls, J.D. Robb, Joan Hess and anyone else you can spin a tale I can not figure out or that makes me laugh and holds my interest. 
Please stop by www.ambuxton.com and see what Amanda is doing. She is extremely talented.  Also. go by and see how Rob Myers does is at www.ignorramus.com

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Law and Order.

 I would not want to be a law officer. The thought of walking up to a car, not knowing who or what is in it, is above my bravery level. Even worst would be to get a call and go to a house where a domestic quarrel is in progress. Nine times out of ten, the battered woman sides with the husband or boyfriend, after the anger subsides, and the officer becomes odd man out.
That being said, there is a lot to be learned from the Sheriff.

Let me say, it is my belief, that most people who commit a violent crime would do just about anything to take back that 15 minutes where they lost their temper or made a very bad decision.
I am not talking about serial killers or whackos. I am talking about the average joe who is 40 or 50 years old,and goes to work everyday. His life goes south after a divorce or another of life's missteps he can't handle. He begins to drink or starts doing drugs and his since of right and wrong jumps out the window.

Then there is the other type of criminal who believes the world owes him something. He breaks into cars to steal computers and stuff he is too lazy to earn because he wants drugs or whatever and he doesn't care how hard you worked for anything. How dare you drive a new car, live in a nice house with the lawn mowed and eat three meals a day while he was beaten and battered by a drunk uncaring father and a mother too scared to make a move. I am NOT defending this scenario.  I firmly believe some people are what they are because of the way they were raised and others are the way they are in spite of the way they were raised.

But, I am not telling you what I learned. So here is some of it.
Always treat the criminal with respect. It goes much easier when you want to talk to them to find out what actually happened. They will open up more to the guy who lets them smoke a cigarette and have a coke than the guy who pushes them around and treats them like scum.

The faster you can get a suspect isolated and get him to talk, the more likely you are to get the true story. The longer they sit alone or with someone else involved in the crime, the more time they have to think about what they can say to justify what they did and make it seem not as bad as it is.

One man I met should have been protected by the Castle Law. The law says if you are in your home and someone comes in to harm you, you can shoot them and not be charged with a crime.
In this case, the intruders came in, harassed the home owner.  He had a gun on is coffee table.
Dumb, it think. Anyway, the situation was defused and the guys left but the homeowner was so angry he followed them out and got into a scuffle with one of the men. Subsequently, someone was shot and now the man is charged with murder.

Another man shot a guy in the eye because he "didn't respect" a pick-up truck he borrowed several years before and since then the man let it fester and fester until when the guy came to his house he shot and killed him.

Anyway, we didn't have much to do the night I rode with the Sheriff. We helped a motorist who was stranded on the highway and patrolled. I heard lots of war stories and how people make a bad situation worse by lying and saying things that just could not have happened.
I plan on incorporating these stories into my next novel.

Any law officer who reads this will probably think I am being simplistic or off the mark, but comments are always welcome and discussions are good for the soul.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Sheriff, The Farmer's Market and Metaphysics

I live a diverse life. This week I rode with the Sheriff on Friday night to pick his brain for a book I am writing. On Saturday I read my book to children at an outdoor farmer's market and in the afternoon I went to a picnic put on by the School of Metaphysics and toured their new school in Springfield.

To further complicate matters, I am unable to tell you which I liked best.  I learned all kinds of ways to kill people when I rode with the Sheriff and talked to two murderers, more on that in another blog.

I met a young seven year old boy on Saturday, named Patrick, whose vocabulary was better than most of the people I talk to all week.  Later at the same reading, I met two brothers aged nine and eleven who could intelligently discuss their favorite authors and books and genre. They were so knowledgeable I found myself writing down their recommendations and telling them about Sharon Keeling Davis' book which they are now eagerly awaiting.

When I left the farmer's market I motored over to Phelps Grove Park and sat in on a talk about metaphysics. The subject has always fascinated me..  I am currently reading a three book Summer of Enlightenment Series. Do I seem enlightened?

Don't you dare answer that.

I was going to use all of these events to explain why I haven't been updating my blog, then I realized this was a reason TO update.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore, Oklahoma. My heart bleeds for your loss.

the sky clear and bright
the sun shares her light

clouds gather quickly
the sky dark and sickly

our children  safe at school
life can be so cruel

homes now like erector sets
Moore ,OK, as bad as it gets.

as a fellow American
I will do all I can.

however I can't make a mother smile
or fix devastation mile after mile.

know we are thinking of you
and all you must still do.

Blessings and light to those who are hurting and devastated today. My heart breaks for you.




Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

 Happy Mother's Day
 The sun rises
it sets
the rain comes
and then the sun
winter
spring
summer
fall
am I making the most of it all.

Some days are long
and scary
some are short
and blurry
some are sunny and bright
and everything is my world is right.

Other days I can't figure
it out.
Just want to run away
or sit in the dark
Then a thought occurs to me
how precious this day can be

Surely there is something
memorable
It could not have all been miserable
Then I smile at something small
I wonder how I could be sad at all.

I remember something my dear mother said.
Keep your feet on the ground,
Your eyes to the heavens and your face in the sun.

Happy Mother's day mom.
It has been twenty seven years since I saw you last
I try never to dwell in the past,
but I love you now as I always did.
And I will always be your kid.
The baby of the family.

Ruth Ethelyn Rench.
Died July 18, 1986
Age 64.
missed so much

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

There's a snake in the house! Help!!

My youngest daughter called to tell me about a snake that found its way into her kitchen and it reminded me of my own snake story.

I went to the garage to retrieve a soft sided cooler to take on a treasure hunting day I was planning.
It was on a shelf over my head so I reached up and took hold of one of its straps. As I pulled it toward me a four foot black snake slid down my neck, down my arm and onto the landing at the top of the stairs. From there he slithered, at high speed , into the kitchen where he scooted sideways toward the living room.
He acted like I was after him instead of trying to retreat.

Now, I know a four foot snake  is small in the black snake family tree, but this guy was fat.  He hadn't skipped a meal in awhile. I knew why we didn't have mice in the garage.

Did I mention the hair was standing up on the back of my neck?  I am prettified of snakes. I remember when I was a kid, we petted one at the St. Louis Zoo.  They are dry and smooth and don't feel anything like they look.  I don't care. I don't like them.

I know you think I am going to tell the story of how I picked that sucker up by the tail and through him outside, right? NOT.

I called for help.  I was going to have to do something quickly before a dog or cat came into the room or he slithered himself sideways into a floor duct , at which time I would have to move out until he was found. Believe me, there is no house big enough for me and a snake.

My roomy came in and had the brilliant idea we get the broom and dust pan. She said we could put the broom over him to hold him still and then scoop him up into the dust pan and throw him outside.

It was a great idea but the execution was difficult.  First of all, he didn't want to be picked up.  Next, he was unpredictable. It is hard to tell which way something that is moving sideways is going to go next.
Eventually, she got the broom on him tight enough he stop moving ( or he was worn out). Then she was able to get him into the dust pan.  He was so big she couldn't lift the pan with one hand and hold the broom with the other.  I was forced to help.

I chose holding the broom.  I was not putting my hand on that dust pan within three inches of the snake.
Now that he was contained.  All we had to to was get him out the door, down the back steps and across the yard away from the the outside dog.

Good thing we didn't have pressing plans because this was no easy deed.

Anyway, it has been about a year since my adventure with Blacky and I have never gone into the garage for anything that I am not on the lookout for his family.

Ah, the joys of country living.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Day on the Mountain

A Day on the Mountain.
I bowed my head and kept walking. When the sound in my ears became deafening, I stopped and leaned against a tree so as not to fall back down the steep mountain. When the sound of beating drums softened like they were moving further away from me, I started walking again. I took a second to glance back the way I'd come. It was nearly straight up. The walk was treacherous, but it seemed like such a good idea when I began.
It was another one of those things I felt I must do to cleanse my soul so I could go on to next part of my life. The part after marriage. Is a marriage lasting twenty-five years, before it breaks up, considered a failure. I felt it was. I had mothered two wonderful girls, raised them and got them through college before I left. The drums were getting closer again now. The sound so rhythmic and loud I felt it was going to take over my body and brain. Again I stopped. And again after several minutes of leaning on the nearest tree, it was gone. Whatever was following me was unnerving, yet I wasn't afraid of it. My goal had been to write down all of the good and bad of my marriage and then climb to the top of a glacier pack in the Black Hills and bury it. Cathartic I thought.
For months before the trip I walked mile after mile up and down hills, but nothing prepared me for the high altitude of the mountains. I was making my way slowly up Lover's Loop, a five mile path to the top of the mountain and back. The day before I had walked a different walk and felt like I was in a New York subway because of all of the people I met on the way. Today I picked a more treacherous route hoping not to be in such a crowd. I had been walking for four hours and no one passed me nor did I hear anything but those drums.
So my dilemma was both good and bad. I was going to be alone to sit at the top of the glacier and read my story, and find a place to bury it for eternity. Yet the downside was if there was anything of danger up on the mountain, I was destined to meet it by myself.
I learned early in my walk that the air was thin and I would have to keep my head down to keep from becoming dizzy from the exertion of the climb. Every twenty or thirty feet was a huge pine tree. I was able to go from tree to tree to rest. As I rested I would look up and plot my course to the next tree so I could rest again. I was not yet fifty, but the thinner the air became, the older I felt.
After doing the drum, no drum thing for over an hour I realized it was my own heart beating in my ears. I should have been amused at my own deceit, yet now that I knew, I stopped at every tree to give myself the rest I needed.
So here I am, trudging up the mountain side hour after hour with my head down when I run into a tree. Oh my goodness, it wasn't a tree, it was a massive two thousand pound buffalo. He was grazing in the tree line and I hadn't seen him. I tried not to panic as I scampered back down two trees and hid behind one. Peeking around the tree, I looked at him to see how mad he was I had run into him, but he was still grazing as though he didn't know I was there. Because of his massive size, I was probably a mere gnat to him.
I stayed in my hiding place behind the study pine and watched him as he leisurely ate , making his way further and further toward the other side of the glacier until I felt safe enough to go on with my plans.
All in all, the walk up the mountain took six hours. I read my history once more and took my camping shovel out of my pack. I couldn't make a deep hole in the rocky soil, so I buried my story under a big pile of pine needles and rocks. After making the area look as natural as I could, I went on feeling lighter and happier than I had in years.
The trip down the mountain took less than and hour and I was forced to walk from side to side and tree to tree to keep from sliding down on my backside. When I got there, my friends were waiting to tell about their adventures and I felt I would never be able to admit I thought my own heart beat was made by drums or that I ran smack into the side of a buffalo. But I did tell my story and we all laughed at each others adventures.
It ended up to be quite a vacation, in more ways than one.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Adventures of Diggitty Dog

The Adventures of Diggitty Dog

I am a firm believer that if you get an idea that will not go away, it is destiny.  You are doing yourself a big disservice if you do not act on it.
 For the past several months, I have had an idea about a series of children's books that teach children something in a fun way.  My dog Diggitty is going to be my hero. Diggitty, who is pictured above, lives on a big farm and takes kids on adventures while teaching them how things grow and live on a farm.
This idea has been in my head so long, I was able to write the first book in less than two hours.  Today I finished book two.
It isn't that the books were so easy to write but that they rattled around until they were complete and only needed to be written down.
The turning point from thinking to writing came the other night when I sat and watched Beth Carter, Allison Merritt and Tierney James give their book reviews at the Friends of the Library in Marshfield last Tuesday night.
I was proud of them.  They did a great job.  That night I asked myself what I was waiting for and the answer came back.  Nothing.
So, be sure to check back and follow the Adventures of Diggitty Dog.  She is a hoot and you might just learn something about gardening, animals, and the antics of an eight pound protagonist.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Solstice in the midst of the lingering winter

I so wanted spring to come early.  Remember last year when we were already planting and enjoying the sunshine on the first day of spring.  Well, now I am sitting here writing this and listening to the winter storm warnings on television.
Last night I had a break and went to a Spring Solstice party.  A good friend has a great garden and yard in Springfield.  She invited some of us over and had Vera, an ordained priestess, preform a solstice ceremony to rid us all of the old energy of winter and introduce us to the renewing energy of spring. She did this with burning sage.
Vera, explained the four important elements.  Air, water, soil and sun ( or warmth).
The air or wind represents east or west.  It would depend , she pointed out, if you were on the east coast or west coast, because of the oceans.
Next was the water, same directional conformations as the air.
Soil represents the north and sun or warmth, from the south.
So, now we have the four major elements, we were to say the name of the Center that rules us.  I heard God, Energy, The Universe, The Source and Jesus uttered by those around me.  An eclectic group to say the least.
Next, Phyllis, my friend, whose garden it is, told us her vision for her space.  She has already put in a figure eight walkway and several cozy spaces to sit, each away from the other.  It reminds me a a personalized park.
Next we traded plants, seeds, plant starts, and produce (home ground) to link all of our spaces together.
We sang a song the priestess taught us about water, wind, sun and heart beats.
I loved it.
Then we went inside and had a party with wine, food and some of the most interesting talk I have listened to all winter.
It felt good to step outside my comfort zone and learn something new.  I look forward to doing it again next year and hope the weather cooperates more so we don't have to do an short  version.
I am so happy I have such an odd array of friends. I feel truly blessed.
All of you have a great day. If you have never grown any of your own food, make this your first year to do so.  Stop and smell the roses, it is sweeter if they are your own.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Random facts




This is the third day I have been inside.  Living on a 97 acre piece of land makes this a rare event.
Right now my reason for staying in is ice.  I go out in snow and rain, but ice and I do not mesh.
Cars and I have no traction on ice.

 I have been working on the edit of my novel Tattered Wings.  I love seeing it get better and better, but once in awhile, I stray.  This afternoon I strayed because of odd facts.  That's right.  Not brownies or ice cream or even a second cup of coffee, but odd facts.  Facts fascinate me.  I am always amazed to watch Jeopardy and have someone come up with an obscure fact.  I wonder how they know which star is the brightest one in the northern sky of the southern hemisphere on December 9,1918, at dusk.  Okay so maybe that wasn't the question, but it was something unknown to us normal folks.

So here I am  to entertain you will some facts not known to most of you.

1.   There are more chickens than humans on the earth.
2 . Butterflies taste through their feet.
3 . Lightening strikes the earth 8 million times a day.
4.   Dolphins sleep with their eyes open.
5 .Only 11 % of the earth is used for crops.
6 . Your heart beats about 100000 times a day.
7.  A flea can jump 130 times his size.  If you could do that you could jump over the St. Louis arch.
7.  China has more pigs than the rest of the world combined.
8 .97 % of the world's water in non-drinkable
9.  70% of the world's red meat eaters eat goat
10  Silent and listen have the exact letters.
11.  The blue whale is the largest mammal on earth.
12.  Bull frogs never sleep
13.  We don't sneeze when we are sleeping\
14.   We use the equivalent of two liters of oil per person in the world, per day.
15.  Only 20 % of the people in the world have a passport.

Okay, I am ready to go back to editing.  I hope you are all enjoying some good weather and are not stuck in the house as I am.  Life is good.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

LIFE HACKS



Today I learned a new term.  Life Hacks!  Okay, so maybe I am behind the times.
 I use life hacks, I just didn't know  what they were called.
I use a clothespin  to keep my potato chip bag closed.  I have been known to use lots of ordinary household items in odd ways. What I didn't realize was that it made me a visionary.
My innovative ideas usually come late at night when I want to go to bed but know I will have to face my problem in the morning.  I grab the first thing I can find to solve my immediate problem and low and behold. I am an innovator.
  • Even more surprising is there are books about life hacks, blogs devoted to only new life hacks, and people who jot every new thing they do so they can write a book about life hacks.  Hum. Why didn't I think of it first?

Wikipedia says a life hack is a productivity trick, a shortcut or skill, or a novelty method  to increase productivity and efficiency.
If you put a "pool noddle" under the fitted sheet on your child's bed to keep him from falling out, you have invited a life hack. Use a clothespin to hold a nail while you hammer it not only saves fingers, but it is a life hack.
How many do you use?  Leave your favorite life hack in the comment box and  let's see what we come up with.
I wonder if using my computer instead of a pen and paper is a life hack?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year

 Happy Chinese New Year.
Actually Happy Lunar New Year.
Whether is it your birthday or not, if you are Chinese, you are a year older today.  One of the interesting facts about the Chinese  New Year. This is the year of the Snake.  People born in the year of the snake, 1905,1917, 1929,1941,1953,1965,1977,1989, and 2001 are said to share some of the same characteristics.  So far as I can ascertain, it would correspond to our Taurus. 
I'll tell you a few of them and you can see if they are in any of the people you know who were born in the years listed above. They are INTUITIVE, REFINED, INTROSPECTIVE, ACUTE, AWARE, CUNNING, PROUD, VAIN AND VICIOUS.  Hum...I see a little of all of those things in everyone I know, depending on the subject and their passion for it.  But, we will go on.
They need CALM and QUITE to thrive.
They require sleep and relaxation.
Do you feel like I am reading your horoscope?  Well, I pretty much am.
People born in the Year of the Snake are known to change jobs frequently, and are organized and precise.
On the other hand they have a habit of diving right in to decisions that can cause them financial ruin.
Snakes make excellent Scientists, potters, Spiritual Leaders, Jewelers, Investigators and Painters.

Red is usually the favorite color of a Person of the Snake.  Red is actually the luckiest color to the Chinese.
I am drawn to pale yellow, personally.
Did you know the Chinese New Year never takes place on the same date year after year?  Mainly because it isn't a calendar event, but a lunar event.  The next Chinese New Year will be January 20, 2014.
Children are given money in bright red envelopes much like our children are given Christmas presents.  The envelopes usually have an even amount of money in them but nothing divisible by 4.  Four means "death" in China.
Because the new year is a celebration of renewal, everyone does their spring cleaning.  Old use things are tossed out and new clothing and items are purchased.  There is a custom of painting your doors on the Chinese New Year.
There are twelve cycles in the New Year, the year of the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.  Then it begins again in the same order.
The Chinese calender is the oldest known.
So, today, as you dig out of the blizzard, walk on the beach, work in your garden or any of the other millions of things we do on a Sunday afternoon, take a moment to say HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Clearly one sixth of the world celebrates this day.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

JANO

One of the nice things about being a writer is the writer's groups.  I belong to ORA (Ozarks Romance Authors) and Sleuths,Ink ( mystery writers group).  There are many more and if I had the time, I would join them all.   So much talent in the same room when I go to a meeting, I can almost see it vibrating in the air.

This year I participated in JANO.  It is designed to get the creative juices going for writers in the area.  We did however have writers as far away as the Philippines and Michigan compete, and where ever C. Patrick Nagle's  ship happens to be sailing.

There are several categories, Best title, best first line, best blurb, best first page and first person to get to 50 thousand words.  Reading peoples progress during the month was fun and the  wind up dinner last night at the Event Center was well done.  We had good food, laughter and I made new friends.

My entry won best title and the basket was a writer's dream of paper, pen's, flash drive, candy and books and more.
What was best about the experience was the honor of being in the room with so much imagination.
Congratulations to the winners and everyone else.  Believe me, there were no losers in the room.
Yahoo.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Food

Food

For those of you growing weary of philosophers I thought I would stray to something else I am passionate about.  FOOD.
Here at the farm we raise natural beef and lamb.  For days my farm partner has been bottle feeding a lamb.
His Mama doesn't have milk enough to sustain him.  The sheep were originally purchased to keep the fruit cleaned up in the orchard and to fertilize it.   We practice perma-culture here.

Perma-culture is the concept that everything you do enhances something else within the area and makes life healthier for everything and anything in its immediate area.  Such as, bugs.  Some insects that attach apple trees (we have 154 or them) actually go to the ground three times in their life cycle.   Mostly they travel in fruit hitting the ground.  So, the sheep eat the fallen fruit, poop in the orchard and eat the grass so I don't have to mow.

We breed the ladies and sell the guys for meat.  They are sweet, healthy and fat and their life is one of happiness until the day they are driven to the processor. Nothing like the animals standing so close together knee deep in their own feces and eating food they were not built to eat.
We raise our cattle much the same way.  We say they are apple finished because any apples or pears ( we have 39 Asian pear trees and 45 domestic pears) the sheep don't eat go to the cattle.
Peaches are another story.  No one eats the peaches but us.  (36 trees).  The pits from the peaches will kill horses, sheep and cattle.  They are not digestible

Actually, I got off subject.  My story is about eating out.  I am certain everyone who reads this is not going to stop eating out.  In our life and times, we are subject to times when there is nothing else we can do.
We can, however , be informed.

Let's talk about GMO foods. Genetically modified organisms. GMO foods were designed to increase the yield in of corn and soy beans to help farmers grow more, etc.  To genetically modify a seed, the nucleus is penetrated, e-coli is introduced and the new hybrid gene is introduced.  Nasty, right?

Well, when you eat out you are eating meat that was fed the corn and soy beans produced in this way.  Not good.  So, try fish next time.  But, because of mercury in the food, try a smaller fish like flounder and sardines.  Any fish who is a bottom feeder.  Stay away from tuna and shark.

Seventy percent of all rats in an independent study died of cancer within two years of eating large amounts of GMO food.  Twenty percent of the rats who didn't eat it died in the same time period.

Am I trying to scare you?  Yes.  or at least open your eyes to better health.  We all know someone who is a part of the cancer epidemic, if not you yourself.

Here are a few researched facts before you head to your favorite restaurant  or go grocery shopping.

Monsanto invented GMO and the government allowed them to do their own research.  This alone should
open your eyes to several things.  Next. Corn and Soy beans are government subsidized crops so they are in everything.

Along with corn and soy, also now gmo is rapseed oil which is canola oil, cotton seed oil, soy lecithin, so that affects your corn chips, and cereal, meat because they eat the gmo products and dairy because not only do they eat the food, but some have growth hormones.  We are lucky in the Springfield area that Hiland Dairy doesn't use antibiotics or growth hormones. Now papayas and alfalfa have been added to the list.  And corn syrup is in everything.

Other little facts, Natural foods can have up to 30 % non natural ingredients without labeling them.
Organic is the same unless it says 100% organic. There are some answers.  Eat local.  Don't shop the center of the grocery store where the packaged food is.  Go to your local farmer's market, but don't assume they don't use pesticides unless you ask them.  And most of all.  Demand GMO labeling of all foods.
There.  I feel better now.



Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happiness the old fashioned way

Sometimes when I turn on the news and listen to what the people around me did to one another , I get discouraged. Shooting one another, killing, maiming, hit and runs and all the rest.  Then I think back to the things I have learned in life and realize the problems are pretty much the same.  Everyone is looking for happiness and since it is  equated to money, a host of problems arise.

Epicurus knew, way back in 341 BC , money didn't bring happiness.  Over the years he wrote 300 books, all of which have been lost over the centuries, yet his ideas still live today.   He thought there were three major parts to happiness. 1. Friends 2. Freedom 3. An analyzed life.

For my taste he took the friendship thing too far.  He liked communal living because there were always people around. He believed only wolves and bears ate alone and people should always eat with someone else.  It might be my answer to dieting.  If I waited for someone to share every meal with, I wouldn't eat much.  But let's look at the bigger picture.  When you have lots of friends, your life is entwined with them.
Groups of people together are festive by nature.  It is a much happier life with friends around.  Only not around all the time, in my opinion.

Next he thought freedom was important.  He didn't mean freedom like many of you are thinking.  He meant no boss to ruin your life. He actually was speaking of being self-sufficient.  Knowing how to take care of yourself and your family.  This is not a high priority in our times.  I was speaking one night about this and a lady came up to me later.  She said Walmart would always have food so she thought I was being negative and old  fashioned.  Needless to say, I couldn't think of anything to say to her.  I hope my mouth didn't gape open too far.

Then there is the analyzed life. Epicurus believed one needed to have enough time alone to examine their life. Sitting on a river bank or walking in the woods with no music, no people and no commercials,only quiet.To spend time reflecting and perhaps letting ideas pop into your head. They will never come with your ipad always at hand, your computer in front of you or a video game stealing your attention.

Way back before the birth of Christ, Epicurus believed commercialism and advertising caused most of our problems with happiness.  He felt it was why getting away alone  once in awhile was so important.
Before I let go of this subject, I want to point something out that Epicurus said.  He said we bought things to find happiness, but happiness is not included with any purchase.  He said it was mostly advertising.
Someone buys a cologne called Love.  They don't necessary want the cologne, they want the love.
Take "Bacardi and friends", do you want the Bacardi or the friends?  Whiskey most usually shows a guy sitting alone reflecting while he sips a $200 bottle of single malt whiskey.  Does he want the whiskey or the reflection?
Only wanted to give you a little something to think about on these cold winter mornings as you drink your Folgers coffee. Did you buy it because the kid came all the way from East Africa to see his family for Christmas or because you like the taste?  Hum.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Tiny View of Socrates

Socrates would have been lost in our world and most likely cast aside as a nut job.  He was dirty, barefoot, and ugly.  It was his habit to walk around the streets of the Athens marketplace and ask the people he met a series of questions aimed at examining their lives.  

Most people do not take kindly to someone, anyone, especially a filthy, ugly, and  unkempt man, who interrupts their day to search their thinking. It was the life of Socrates.

To make matters worse,  Socrates didn't  write anything down.  All we know about his life and times we read from his students, the most famous being Plato.  Socrates wanted to know what and why people were what they were.  Did their belief follow the rules of common sense.  In other words if a married man was happy did it mean all married men were happy.  Common sense says no.  So if Socrates could find an exception to a statement he considered it false. He would consider finding more exceptions to a statement until it was found to be completely false.

I would imagine it was annoying at best.  Socrates was trying to get everyone he met to think outside the box, to be a self confident thinker and not to follow the crowd.  People were likened to sheep who always followed the leader and were horribly afraid to get out of the herd.  People are especially prone to follow those they deem successful or rich.  He found out , however, the people who were famous or rich, more likely than not did not understand or know why they had become rich or successful. Most thought they were just lucky.   

Socrates thought anyone and everyone should think.  Thinking should not be left to the folks with higher educational degrees.  It does not necessary make them  better thinkers- a horrible misconception.

If I make a statement, and say Bill Clinton, makes a conflicting statement, the most famous will be taken as correct.  Although, Bill might not know anything about the subject.  Human nature, I guess.  Education and fame trumps  relative unknown author and speaker.  Hum. Socrates was not a fan of democracy for this reason. Majority rules and focus groups that guides us today would have unnerved him.  He was a great fan of logical and reasonable thought.  Those two things are not necessarily present in our modern day decisions.

Socrates is best known for saying "I know that I know nothing."  The  Oracle of Delphi said he was the wisest man alive at the time.

The "I know that I know nothing." quote follows a basic philosophy many of we life time learners.Yet we put it another way.  "The more I know, the more I realize I don't know."  Those of us who read and study to write books and articles realize what we know is the tip of the iceberg.

Socrates was eventually tried and put to death for corrupting the youth of Athens and ignoring the gods .
He was forced to drink hemlock and died, what I am sure was a nasty death.

What he taught us rings true today.  An un-examined life is a wasted one.   It is worth it to know what you really believe and to not follow the crowd.   It will open a new chapter in you life.  Colors will appear brighter and the journey more meaningful and joy full.   I don't think hemlock is as readily available as it was back then, so grab a book you have always wanted to read but were afraid people would make fun of.

Someone once asked me what I was reading.  My daughter was there and said " Mom reads weird books."
I thought it a great compliment.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Typical Day as a Writer

I love to write.  I love when a character  takes over my mind.  I sit for hours with my fingers tapping out the words he says through me. I know if he would order scotch or beer at the local pub, his favorite meal and his taste in women. It's a great life.  It is however, a sedentary job.

It is easy to get up at seven, get a cup of coffee, and write non stop until noon.  When I try to stand, my legs are stiff, I am still in my jammies, and I have hairy teeth.  So, I turned over a new leaf.   After my morning writing session, I head for the gym.  I walk forty minutes and left weights.  It accomplished several things.  My mind is sharper, I get my Food Channel fix, while I am on the treadmill, and I am forced to shower and get dressed to go out in public.

On my way to the gym, I find myself smiling.  Actually, grinning at the things I pass.  About a mile down my lane I am forced to stop for a flock of guinea fowl who know the road has the best gravel.  They like the hubcaps on my car and attack them regularly.  Once I get through them, I meet my neighbor's chickens.  They run when the see me coming.  Problem is, they run in every direction.  If I want eggs for breakfast, I must stop and let them settle so I can go on.   All of this and I am not yet on a main road.

Everyday I go two miles out in the country and pick up a neighbor whose car and son are away at college.
On my way, I stop for a coon hound who lays right smack in the center of the road.  I don't care what time of day or how hot or cold the pavement, the dog is there.  On my left a little further down the  cows are calving.  I count the progress every day.  This week they have three new ones.
It is pretty calm to the gym and then I face the same obstacles on my way home.

Today, when I got here, I became the proud caretaker of twin lambs.  They are so cute and their pictures are below.  These happen to be girls I named Curry and Cumin.  If they are boys I name them lamb chop.It is their destiny.

Once we are done lambing, we will start calving.  This is all done because we don't want to eat grocery store meat.  Well, I had better get back to the great American novel. It isn't going to write itself.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dumb Criminals

 Dumb Criminals
I must share this.  It is so funny, so sad and so dumb.  I am sure you have all heard of the FBI virus.  If not, here is a quick explanation.
A virus takes over your computer.  It says," the FBI has found pornography on this computer.  You must call within three business days and pay $200 to have this warning removed. If not, you will be  visited by the FBI and charges will be filed."

Well, a guy from one of the small towns around here actually had  porn on his computer when he also got the virus.  So he called the FBI and turned himself in thinking he would get a break.

They found disgusting things on his computer.  He was charged and is now serving 15 to 30 years in prison.   

It might now be a tried and true way to catch criminals, but in this case it worked.

Would be great if they could target people they knew were a menace and catch a few more.  


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Starry Starry Night

Starry Starry Night


Last night I stepped out onto the back porch to get a couple of sticks of firewood.  It was cold, clear, crisp and still.   I do not live in a quiet world.  This farm is 100 acres.  It is big to me, but not big in the scheme of things.  It is never quiet here.  There is always a dog barking in the distance, a cow bellowing a forlorn cry in a field or a night creature stalking prey.

Dressed only in my PJ's and slippers, I leaned against the railing and  looked up at the milky way.  I had a new feeling.  It wasn't that I was looking up at the stars, but I was standing on the edge of the world from my own star, looking at my neighbors.

Several thoughts came to me in the quiet. " Be still and know that I am God." ,"if it isn't right, kind, or necessary, don't say it."," if you are not listening, you are not learning.", and "quiet is wisdom."

The sheer bitter cold forced me back in the house.  It was only fourteen degrees when I was standing there.  For the first time since I was a kid, I didn't feel the cold because of the excitement I felt while standing in the stars and listening for a sound- any sound in the night.

I thought about putting on my coat and going back out yet I knew this was a once in a lifetime moment.  A moment when I was one with the earth and the sky.  I felt it was a moment I could not duplicate or extend.   Today I am calmer and will try to make the best of every moment, knowing there will never be another moment like this one.  There will not be another day like today.  Enjoy.  It is why we are here. Take time to  celebrate the smallest moment that makes you smile.  
s

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Food and Eating

I love bread.  Oh, I could name hundreds of things I love, but bread would be first on the list, next would be pasta.  This presents a problem for me.  

Trying to eat healthy everyday is a chore in its own right without day dreaming about hot steamy bread with real butter and home made jam.  If I add tomato basil pasta with creamy white sauce, it gets even worse.  I could just skip eating this stuff and rub it straight on my waist line.  It would save time, cause it will end up there anyway. Then there is the french vanilla creme I put in my coffee every morning.  Hum.  Maybe I don't eat that healthy after all.

Sitting back and watching my friends eat candy and potato chips gives me a momentary feeling of superiority. I can pass up those things and sit straight in my chair and pretend I am a pillar of virtue .
When I get home, I run straight to the bread drawer, pull out the toaster, make two slices, slather them with butter and strawberry jam and I am happy.

What's the point of all of this?  I know you're asking that question about now.  Well, it is a bread recipe that makes bread less of a guilt trip.

In my quest to eat healthier, I read more labels.   Did you know the average 'healthy' bread has between 36 and 54 ingredients, including corn syrup and 11 or 12 things I can't pronounce and 4 I can't begin to sound out.
So, here goes.

Get yourself some non GMO flour, not bleached.  You can even get it at Walmart.  There is Wheat Montana and other places have Red Star.  There are lots out there.

Take 6 1/2 cups of flour
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast
1  1/2 tablespoons of course salt.
That's it.  Simple,yes?
Okay, put the flour in a bowl (big bowl)
on top put the yeast and salt
on top put the water.
stir.  once it is stirred, put some plastic wrap over it and sit it in a warm spot for at least 2 hours, but it can sit 5 or more hours.
preheat your oven to 450 degrees
put some flour on your hands and break the dough into 3 balls.  Put it on parchment paper on a cookie sheet (2 cookie sheets)
Let it set 10 minutes.
score it.
Put it on the next to the top shelf.  Put a pan of water below it, on the next shelf, ( about 3 cups)
bake for 1/2 hour.   
Done.  Let it set and eat, eat , eat.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Motivation

There was a time when I didn't get the concept that motivation comes after the fact.
In other words, you must force yourself to do a chore the first time and then the, feeling of success you get gives you the motivation to do it again.

I proved it to myself again this morning.  Being obsessed with getting my book Tattered Wings published, I find myself sitting hour after hour.  I read it.  I reread it.  I make changes.  Then I send out query letters and pages to prospective agents. When I look up at the clock it is noon.  My pj's are still on and I have downed a pot of coffee.

The result of this daily behavior is stress and sore muscles.  This morning I changed my routine.  I got up, did the minimum chores I could ( no easy task on a 100 acre farm) and headed to the gym. Twenty minutes on the treadmill, ten minutes on the StairMaster and a variety of arm weights, helped melt the tension away.

Now, I find myself looking forward to going to the gym tomorrow.  When I sit five hours working on my novel,  I can smile. I did accomplish something for my health today.  Tomorrow I will work on leg machines and increase my times on the tread mill and Stair Master( I didn't want to throw my body into shock on the first day).

Do something today for yourself.  Sure, I am writing my book for me as much as anything (actually it is to get rid of those voices in my head).  But, I am not doing it as the expense of my health.
Next I am going to tackle my ice cream obsession.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pets

Pets

.  This morning I want to talk about stray animals.  When we moved to the farm eight years ago, I had a dog, Diggitty.  Diggitty is a miniature dauchhund. My farm partner had a min pin.  I had the world's greatest black lab named Griffin and a boxer with no brain, Roady.

There are nine dogs at the farm now.  That's right, count 'em NINE.
I sit back in amazement at the callousness of people where animals are concerned.  I know it makes me a cynic when dealing with people in general.

In the first two years we lost the min pin, Garbo, and the lab  We were down to a manageable two.
One of our neighbors told us about a grocery store, three miles from no where, selling unusual fare.  We decided to check it out.  A couple of miles from home, on a major county road, we saw a Basset hound lying in the road..  My friend, Blenna, told me to stop so we could help it if it was alive or move it off of the road if it was dead.  So, I stopped.

In reality it was an act.  As soon as the suburban stopped and the door opened, that Basset hopped up, ran to the door and jumped in.  Gingerly she climbed over the back seat and lay panting in the cargo area.
Behind her, out of the woods by the side of the road, came two more small dogs.  One was a male rat terrier and the ugliest puppy you have ever seen.  I swear you would have to hang pork chops from the puppies ears to get other dogs to play with it.  They followed suit.

Don't tell me dogs are not smart.  This was a plan.  Now, I had three dogs in the back of the truck and they were hunkered in for a ride. I suggested we put them out.

"If they are still here when we get back, we can take them somewhere." I thought it was a great idea.
"Oh no.  If they are smashed when we come back I wouldn't be able to live with myself."  was her answer.

As I got back into the truck, I looked over the seat.  A pure bred basset, who had only recently had puppies, a standard rat terrier, a real stud, and the world's homeliest puppy.  And then there were five. Zoi, Jack and Odie Bolt were now to be permanent residents of Bowen Creek Farm.

Several months later, in the dead of winter, I went out to the shop to build a fire.  There was movement to my left, by the wood pile.  I went on about my business.  I finished up on my chores and headed to the house when I saw it again. It was a big ball of fur.  Picking it up I realized it was a puppy.  This was a clean, fat, happy puppy.  He couldn't be over six weeks old.  It was supposed to be the coldest night of the year, so far..  Unzipping my coat I put the little guy inside and zipped it back.  He ended up to be a Basenji.  We named him Woody.

Not long after we got Woody, we received a phone call.  Seems our young neighbors were divorcing.  They moved out of the house and she didn't take the dog. "Could you go check on him?  I left food in a container and he has water."

Blenna went.

Blenna went every day for two months.  The lady had left food alright, but she left it in a covered garbage can with a tight lid and the little guy was scared, cold, and starving.  He would have nothing to do with us.   He waited until the car was out of the driveway and then scarfed up the food and hid again.  After two months, it was easy to tell he was going to end up coyote bait. We called the Department of Conservation, borrowed a live trap, added a cheeseburger.  And then there were seven.
Welcome, Gamble.

We had two neighbors who fought over whose dog should be fixed.  Mary had a golden retriever and Dee a Great Pyrenees.   Mary's vet told her her male would be a better pet if she didn't neuter him. Seems to be a typical male stance.  Dee had no intention of spaying her Pyrenees.  The result was a litter of Golden Pyrenees puppies every year. They ended up in the Walmart parking lot. given away to people who didn't know how to handle them.

When I saw Bo walking up the street, I smiled. This was one puppy I would not keep.  I knew exactly where he came from, and he was going back.  Problem was, they both swore, there were no puppies this year.  It did not belong to them.  We put him in the back yard.  He was going to Tulsa to live with my daughter.  Her dog tried to kill him so he is our resident watch dog.  Nothing moves around here Bo doesn't see, hear, or smell.  He is only ninety-six pounds.

Two black labs showed up a month or so ago and I called county animal control.  They came and got them. Enough is enough.  But, I didn't tell you about our latest, Chichi Rita.

I was out feeding late, after dark, and I saw a fox.  "Hey Blenna, do you think fox eat cat food?"
She didn't think so.  It was a couple of days before Halloween.  We went out to take another look but the fox was gone.  The next night the fox was there again.  A repeat of the night before.  The next day, sitting on the front porch was a little red Chihuahua., my fox.  Now this could not be an accident.  The next morning we went out looking for an owner only to find there were several of these dogs dumped a mile or so away.  One of our neighbors picked this one up and dropped it off near our farm knowing it would survive.  So then there were nine.


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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Writers.

Talent


Amazing!
Yesterday I spent my day with about 65 talented people.
Collectively they have written thousands of books, stories, blogs, and thoughts read by millions of people.
JANO2013 is a project geared at motivating writers to put 50,000 words on paper before February 1.
When I think about it, it seems overwhelming, yet there are many people across this area who are dedicated to get the job done.
I, personally, started a new Romance novel with the hopes of attaining the goal.
ORA, Ozark Romance Writers, and Sleuth's Ink Mystery Writers co hosted the event.  They brought together aspiring and veteran writers from across the area.  I met several authors  from the greater Kansas City area, Thornhill, Joplin, and Plato, Niangua, Marshfield, Ozark, and Nixa and beyond.

I learned so much.  I listened to other writers read their offerings out loud and open themselves up to the critique of their peers. I took a deep breath and read my offering.  The feedback from everyone was invaluable.  It was my first time to attend a Mega Critique.  I am hooked.

Every genre was represented  from Romance, Paranormal, Alternative Lifestyle, Christian
Inspirational, YA, Middle grade and children as well as non fiction and Historical fiction and erotica.
I wonder if the public realizes how much talent they have under their noses.

Writing is an unusual profession.  I don't get up, get dressed, and head out on the road to my office.
Sometimes I spend the entire day writing to realize my characters have taken over my life .  I look up to realize it is three p.m.  I am still in my PJ's , have had only coffee and no shower.

Events like the one yesterday remind me I am a member of an elite group of people driven by the voices  we have conjured up in our minds.  We hear voices, create alternate egos, plot crimes, kill people, and put unlikely folks together for unforgettable adventures and love stories that make your heart flutter.

Thanks to all of you.
Again I am inspired to be able to count myself - one of  the group.