Friday, September 23, 2016

In the Autumn of My Life....


That was the title of a song I loved as a teenager back in 1968. The lyrics have much more meaning for me now that they did then.

When we're young, most of us look to the future with excitement, anticipation--but as we grow older, most of us find ourselves looking back. We remember our childhoods, people and pets who are no longer with us...places that hold fond memories...happy times. 




Lately, I've been thinking about things I once did that I can no longer do--no, not running a decathlon. I couldn't do that at my peak. No, the things I'm thinking about are mostly very personal things, like spending Sunday afternoons at the Long John Silver's in my old neighborhood, eating lunch with all of my notes and manuscript pages on the table by the window, working as I ate. I think about listening to Casey Kasem on the radio, getting a bit teary-eyed at some of the stories behind his famous long distance dedications. I think about the restaurants I loved that have closed. The mall that was once a favorite haunt is now being torn down.










As we get older, many of us look back, only to see the images in our rearview mirror fading away. Sometimes, we wish we could turn back the clock. We wish things could be the way they used to be...but nothing ever stays the same. We aren't the same. Not much we can do about that.

But as much as I miss the loved ones who are no longer with us, as much as I miss the places that no longer exist and the things I can no longer do, lessons have been learned. Important ones. The people and places I've lost have made me see what really matters. In the autumn of my life, I've found a contentment I never knew before. Loss has taught me what really matters.





None of us is promised tomorrow. Sometimes, we don't see that until we lose what's most precious to us. I have a deep appreciation for the life I have now. I no longer feel a need for achievement, for seeing the world. Being home, watching a movie with Collin, or going out for lunch...these are the things that make me happy.

My only regret is that it took me so long to realize it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Time to Move On...Forward...Ahead? Or Is It?

Have any of you ever seen the movie Bruce Almighty

 
In it, a frustrated Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), a TV reporter dealing with career setbacks--as he sees them--and being passed over for an anchor desk position in favor of a pompous co-worker (Steve Carrel), takes a swipe at God for "smiting" him. In one scene, he asks for a sign from God and gets this:


I read somewhere, a long time ago, that God communicates with us in the manner in which we're most likely to notice--whether it's nature, another person, a song, a story--once, years ago, I was talking to a man I didn't really know while waiting at a bus stop. He told me a story, ending with, "How would you feel if you had traveled that far and turned back just as everything was about to turn around?" That conversation led me to take a chance I'd been resisting for some time--and indeed, everything did turn around.

Recently, I've been thinking about taking another risk--a big one, I think. In one week, I got two very similar messages from two completely different sources:







Am I nuts to act on this? Maybe. But if I don't, I'll never know if it was meant to be.

For years, I've wanted to be a screenwriter. At first, I resisted because it's an even harder career to break into than novel writing. And even if you sell a script, odds are by the time the film gets made--if it gets made--you won't recognize your own work. But I've mellowed in my old age, and the market for screenplays, like novels, has many more options available than writers had twenty years ago.

And I don't read much anymore, but I watch a lot of movies. When I write, I write as if it's a movie. When I was initially pitching Chasing the Wind to agents and publishers, I was told, "This isn't a novel, it's a movie."

So maybe I am a screenwriter. It's worth a try. And if it doesn't pan out, I can always go back to novels, right?

Right?

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Rise and Fall of An Empire?

Another ebook promo is going on until September 13th--my first novel, Alexander's Empire (originally published in 1988 as Dance of the Gods) is just $.99!




 From Amazon:

Alexander Kiriakis is a modern conqueror, accustomed to wealth and power.

When the nightmares plaguing him from childhood grow more disturbing, he begins to fear his life may be a lie. Ever the ruthless businessman, Alexander is determined to protect his carefully crafted empire - no matter the cost.

Meredith Courtney is an ambitious on-air reporter - and the only woman Alexander has ever really loved. Bent on carving out a reputation away from the spotlight of her family, she doggedly pursues an interview with the notoriously reclusive Alexander. Although Meredith would prefer to keep him at arm’s length, what she doesn’t know is that she holds the key to the truth about Alexander’s past - one his enemies are determined to uncover.

A psychological romance story of tragedy and deep-kept family secrets, Alexander's Empire is a compelling romantic thriller from Norma Beishir, former Berkley Books & Silhouette bestselling author of sixteen novels. 


An excerpt of Alexander's Empire is available at my author blog....

 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Don't Ask, "What Else Can Possibly Go Wrong?"

As of August 31st, I've published my first new book in...how many years? I've lost track. That's how long it's been. Even I can't remember!

maxwell


Special delivery! 
 
Jack Spangler was a night owl and, snowstorm or no snowstorm, he didn't appreciate being interrupted in the middle of his work to take his pregnant-and-alone neighbor Katie Maxwell to the hospital. But off he went, since the alternative was to deliver her baby right in his living room. 

 
Things only got worse from there. Somehow he found himself mistaken for the nonexistent Mr. Maxwell and whisked into the delivery room to help young Jeremy into the world. He even found himself caring about the baby - not to mention Katie herself. 

 
Living next door to a crying newborn was enough to make Jack crazy, but craziest of all, it looked as if making marriage - and instant fatherhood - a priority was the only way to stay sane.


MS MAXWELL AND SON cover


Actually, it's not really new. Creativia has now reissued my 1988 Silhouette Romance, Ms. Maxwell and Son, in ebook format, with an updated paperback to follow soon. It has a new cover, which I love. I wrote this novel on a bet. Seriously. The covers--the new one and the original--have an odd backstory. Both covers feature a couple holding a baby, but neither quite fit the descriptions I gave of the characters. The female protagonist, Katie, is a redhead. The male protagonist, Jack, is a rather scruffy-looking fellow inspired by Michael Douglas' character in Romancing the Stone.

RomancingtheStone


When the book was originally published over twenty-five years ago, Silhouette's art department sent me a form to complete, giving them all sorts of details about the character and the story. I was asked to describe the baby. Smartass that I am, I wrote, "a Cabbage Patch Kid." My editor was quick to request (demand?) a correction. "Don't tell them that," she warned. "That's what they'll give you!"

CBK


Yeah, I guess I can see how that might not have turned out very well....

PS There's an excerpt of Ms. Maxwell and Son at my WordPress blog. The book could use some reviews, so if anybody's interested, give me a holler and I'll send along the digital file. Good reviews--four or five stars--are preferred, but I've been in the crazy business too long to expect them all to be good, so guys, it's open season on the author!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

If You Like "The Blacklist"

...you might like my 1990 novel, The Unicorn's Daughter, originally published by Berkley Books as A Time for Legends, reissued last year by Creativia. The ebook is only $.99 now through August 31st!

The Unicorns Daughter eCover

From Publishers Weekly
Beishir ( Angels at Midnight ) pens a winner with this gripping thriller. Jaime Lynde's father has been missing for 19 years, and when she learns of his covert career in the OSS and the CIA, she becomes convinced that he is alive and his whereabouts concealed for sinister reasons. The plot elements are familiar: obfuscating CIA operatives; an agent who vanishes into deep cover; an elaborate official cover story; and people who begin to die under mysterious circumstances. But Beishir's galloping pace revitalizes these standbys, and she confidently builds to a revelatory and spellbinding finale. And in the midst of all the intrigue, a romance develops for Jaime--but the sex is more slow burn than Beishir's trademark high sizzle, as if Beishir herself was too involved in the moves and countermoves of espionage to concentrate on bedroom dramas.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Of Trolls, Bores and Other Internet Nuisances

If you're reading this blog, more likely than not, you're also active on social media. If you are, nothing I'm going to write about here will surprise you at all. If you're not, you'll be grateful you're not.

Most of you also follow my partner in crime, William Kendall--and know that he's been suspended from Facebook, well, a few times. Somewhere along the line in the almost seven years we've known each other, we went through a personality reversal of sorts. I used to be the one with the temper, who would attack if someone looked at me the wrong way. These days, he's always getting in trouble for sounding off and I've never been suspended. I'd like to think that in my case, it's a matter of wisdom coming with age, but if I'm to be honest here, I'm just too old and tired to waste precious time on idiots.


 
I have two personal rules for social media: if I disagree with someone, I don't get offensive or insulting. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether they agree with me or not. And I never debate anyone on their personal pages. That would be like insulting someone in their own home. Disagreements are for groups or product pages. I refuse to lower myself to troll level.

I have two Facebook pages--my author page, open to everyone. What good is an author page if no one can see it? The other is my personal page, only open to friends. Some of those friends are local friends, others people I've known in my twenty-plus years as a published author. Some of them I've only known online, but are as close to me as the friends I've known most of my life. It didn't start that way. When I first set up my personal page, I was, like just about everyone else, eager to accumulate as many "friends" as possible.

Big mistake.

I'm open to friends interacting on my pages, but at times, responses have gone from silly to insulting. Example of silly: Collin and I are big fans of the Minions. We're always sharing Minion images and links with each other on Facebook. My Facebook page header is a Minion banner Collin created for me. One friend made a point of letting me know she doesn't like the Minions. I've never been quite sure why she felt she had to tell me. I wasn't offended. It doesn't bother me if she doesn't like them; that's her choice. 

Go figure.

As for the other end of the social media extreme, I used to frequent the IMDb message boards. That's where William and I met--in a group dedicated to the movie Angels & Demons. I remember once, encountering a particularly nasty troll in a discussion of a young actress who'd recently passed away. The troll had gone to the trouble to check me out--Facebook, Twitter, the whole bag--and made some very insulting remarks, ending with the statement that I probably didn't care what he/she thought. My response was something like this:

"You're right about one thing--I really don't care what you think. But since we're sizing each other up here, this is my take on you: no friends, no job or a crappy job, living in parents' basement or garage, no prospects for the future. At least I have a life. What have you got?"

I only checked that thread once or twice after that. I'm not sure if the troll ever responded.



Getting back to the present. This election has brought out the worst in people, even some otherwise very nice people. Last Saturday, coming home from the monthly writers group meeting at the church, I told a friend about a story I'd seen on Facebook about Donald Trump delivering Play-Doh to the flood victims in Louisiana. When I got home, I shared the story on her Facebook page so she could see it for herself. There was soon a response from a mutual friend, who is clearly not a Trump supporter. It was the commenter who followed him that made me think an online brawl was a distinct possibility. Also a mutual friend, he had posted on his page early on that he refused to get mixed up in political issues at all, so I was surprised that he was not only commenting on this, but came off a little angry, accusing us of having an agenda. Words were exchanged between the two men, neither of whom I'd ever seen even raise their voices in person.

And then there's the incident on my own page that same weekend. Also political in subject matter. Collin and I are fond of taking some of the quizzes offered on Facebook. We took one that was supposed to tell us which candidate we're most like on viewpoints. We both got Hillary Clinton, though we'd been Bernie Sanders supporters. I commented, then a friend from the aforementioned writers group commented with a suggestion that it wasn't Hillary's positions that were the problem with her. I responded with the admission that I do agree with most of her positions on issues. That was followed by an insulting remark posted by one of my so-called Facebook "friends," a guy I've never actually met who was only on my friend list because he's a writer.

He'd been getting on my nerves for a while, always posting links in the comments section to stories I shared instead of just commenting. I never clicked on any of the links, choosing to ignore them. I haven't the time or interest in getting into lengthy debates, friendly or otherwise. I share stories, some I haven't actually read, simply because I see something that's funny or absurd or interesting. I'm not doing it to start an argument. I let it all pass until he insulted me. I'd had enough. I didn't respond to his comment. I just promptly unfriended him.

Got any social media horror stories to share?


Friday, August 19, 2016

Looking at Sanity in the Rearview Mirror

It's been a nutty week. Collin had a follow up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, and was discharged (thankfully), barring any future issues with his arthritis. He finished physical therapy with flying colors. As for me, I'm embarrassed to admit that I flunked PT.

Now, Collin is preparing for a new job--one he can do at home while finishing his degree online and setting up an audiobook business. The new job is with a call center, but given everything he's had to do to get it, one would think he's being cleared for the CIA! The twenty-four hour deadline for the drug test is something I can understand. They want to be sure the applicants don't clear drugs from their bodies just long enough to get the job. I also get the background check. They're shipping their employees CPUs on the company's dime. That can't be cheap. But he also has to have someone who's not a blood relative examine documents like his ID, birth certificate, etc. and fill out a form, also to be returned to them within twenty-four hours. Really?

Our friend Carolyn is serving as the unrelated examiner. Collin's meeting her this morning so that can be taken care of--his birth certificate, like all of our important documents, is in our safe deposit box. I have to wait here at home because the new computer monitor is being delivered today--we have two all-in-one computers, but they, it seems, are incompatible with the company's CPUs. We also have to get a landline phone (we've been a strictly mobile phone household for over seven years).

Fun. Not.

But I do still have a few laughs to share this week. Anybody seen the latest Pokemon creation, Gumshoos? He does look strangely familiar....








And then there's Britain's new airship hybrid...whatever this thing is....

 
I'll close with a nod to Collin's former employer.... 


Have a good weekend, everyone!