Thursday, October 25, 2018

What Would You Do if You Won Over a Billion Dollars?

Collin and I each got tickets for this one and Powerball, not really expecting to win (which is why we don't waste too much money on lottery tickets). We started out to have fun plotting what we'd do if we had actually won. Funny thing was that the plan we came up with wasn't really funny at all.
 
 
 
1.  Tell no one. That kind of attention never has a good end.  
 
2.  Plan before collecting the lump sum payment. Get legal/financial advice. Set up a trust so the winnings could be collected anonymously (our state is one of those that allows it). Living trusts are great. They pay the bills and take care of investments, property, payment of inheritances to heirs, etc.
 
3.  Share. Nobody needs that much money. Our church would be at the top of that list, followed by a number of charities, our closest friends and those individuals and organizations that helped us when we really, really needed it. 
 
4. Go home. My dad designed a house for me, but never got to build it. I still have the plans.  But instead of building, Collin and I agreed that we would try to buy back the last house Dad built for our family. Collin never lived there--Dad, Mom and I lived there for about six years. I was almost ten when we moved in and we moved out just before my sixteenth birthday. I loved that house. Collin got to see it once, a few years after Dad died. We almost bought it back then. I told him if we offered enough, it just might happen.

But we didn't win, and who knows when we'll get adventurous and play again? I suspect that one day, Collin will get the house, though.
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pick a Path and Stick to It, Already!

Eventually, I'm going to get back into a blogging routine. Eventually, I'm going to choose a direction and stick with it.

Or so I keep telling myself.
 
Photo: Proactive Coaching
 
 
First, Collin and I decided to part ways with our publisher. We were going to self-publishing again. We were going to (finally) do the series. I was going to write a memoir.

Then, we decided An Army of Angels should be the series title. I thought Riding out the Storm should be the new title of the second book in the series. Chasing the Wind, Riding out the Storm--no, all of the books will not have weather-related titles. This just worked for this particular book. The memoir, if I ever finish it, will need a new title.

So far, so good. But yesterday, during church services, I started thinking that maybe we shouldn't republish the old books at all. I only did it to start with because I wanted ebook copies for myself. They're still available in the original paperback format from third-party sellers. Crazy, huh?

I've changed as a person and as a writer in the years since those books were published. A friend, a fellow author, someone I've known for most of my career, commented that Chasing the Wind is very different from my old books. That made me wonder if reissuing my backlist was such a good idea. Would it confuse readers? Would anyone who might like my new books not give them a chance if they didn't like my past novels?

I told Collin what I was thinking. He agreed that it might be best to just move forward. So maybe I'm not nuts after all.

Now to actually write some new stuff! (Yeah, I know....)
 
 
Postscript: It's been one of those weekends.  There's dog poop on our patio--but we don't own a dog. I scratched an itch on my leg the other day and our living room ended up looking like a crime scene.It was just a little scratch, for crying out loud! Where did all that blood come from, anyway? (Photos of the bloodbath are on my Facebook page.)



 
 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

I Heart Murphy Brown

Collin describes himself as "center left" and me as "center right." That was a pretty accurate description of us until the last election. Now, we're both firmly anti-Trump. 

And we both love Murphy Brown.



 
I've been a fan since the original series (1988-1998). We both watch the reruns on Antenna TV. And now, there's the reboot, which premiered last week. Loved the first episode. Can't wait to see what else she has to say about the Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.

I have a lot in common with Murphy (Candice Bergen), career choice and Betty Ford Clinic aside. We both have short fuses. Our censors have been asleep at the wheel since we could talk (okay, maybe not that far back). We love good pranks and have been known to stage more than a few. We're both single mothers of sons whose fathers...well, maybe it's best not to go there. We've both had issues with certain politicians. We both suck at relationships (it took me a long time to realize I didn't even want to be married--or anything remotely like marriage).

Murphy and I both stand up for what we believe, even when everybody else thinks we're wrong...or nuts. Our censors are almost always asleep at the wheel. We don't play well with idiots. 

 
Recently, the episode aired in which Murphy discovered she was pregnant and struggled with the decision as to whether or not she would have the baby. She doubted she was cut out for motherhood. I never considered not having Collin, but I did doubt my mothering skills. So did my parents. Mom said women are hit with the maternal instinct at the birth of their baby.

"You must have ducked," she told me. 

I remember once, being out with Mom, running into someone she knew. The woman took one look at my bump and said, "I didn't know you got married."

I feigned dismay. "Crap! I knew I forgot something!"

A friend from high school was also surprised to see me pregnant. "How did that happen?" she wanted to know.

"I know you slept through most of high school, but I thought you at least got through sex ed," I said.

Murphy was nervous when she brought her baby home from the hospital. I can relate. She asked Eldin (Robert Pastorelli) if he thought she'd be a good mother. "No," he said, "but I will."

Murphy had Eldin. I had Mom and Dad.

 
I recall once, early in the original series' run, being on the phone with a fellow author when she made note of the time, reminding me that Murphy Brown would soon be on. "I love Murphy Brown," I told her.

There was laughter on the other end of the line. "Why am I not surprised?" she asked. 

 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Shall We Try This Again...and Again...and Again?

I keep telling myself I'm going to buckle down and make posts on a regular basis, but as you can see, so far that plan has been a dismal failure. In my own defense, however, the last couple of weeks have been exceptionally busy.

Okay, it was busy for Collin. I slept through most of it. I'm training for the nonexistent Olympic Power Napping team. I think I'm a shoo-in for the gold medal!

A few months ago, Collin and I made the decision to leave our publisher, Creativia, and go back to self-publishing. Collin has been getting his degree in business administration, and he's done exceptionally well in marketing courses, so he's really into doing all the business stuff this time around--from packaging to marketing. he handles all the non-writing stuff in addition to collaborating on the research and brainstorming ideas. He did the new cover for Alexander's Empire:


The novel, for those of you who haven't read it, was set in the 1980s, and the World Trade Center was one of the most important settings.
 
He also created new headers for my Facebook page, like this one (it'll have to be altered for Twitter): 

 
Over the next several weeks, we'll be re-releasing The Unicorn's Daughter, Alexander's Empire and Angels at Midnight. I chose to not reissue the rest of my backlist--the old series romances just aren't selling well enough to make the work involved worthwhile. The other two single titles, well, now that I look at them twenty-five years after publication, I just don't think they were all that good. I see how much I've changed as a writer, and it makes me think that my characters, were they real people, would have changed, too--so we'll find out, if I can get off my butt and write the series!

We're not only back at Amazon, we're also now publishing with Smashwords. Once the books are approved for their premium catalog, they'll also be available through Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other outlets. They'll be available through public libraries. And Smashwords offers the audiobook option, which I've always wanted.

And I still don't have to do the grunt work! Yay! 

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

I Hope You Choke on the Tacos, Jerkface!

Okay, I confess. I'm lazy. I can fall asleep upright.  I sleep 20 out of 24 hours a day (yes, I've morphed into a cat!). I love not having to go out to eat, since we have DoorDash, Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Postmates to bring the food to us. Collin has trouble getting me to use public transportation,  now that I've experienced the joys of Lyft.



Unfortunately, however, these luxuries are not without issues. We once had a grocery order delivered that was not only missing our bananas, but included a package of frozen beef patties we didn't order. What am I supposed to do with frozen beef patties?

Don't dare use the C word--you know the word. *shudder* Cook!
 
Once, Collin ordered six bananas. They delivered six pounds of bananas. It's a good thing we love bananas! 

Grocery delivery has improved greatly since then, with Walmart taking the Most Accurate award, if you don't count the employee who filled our order not seeming to know the difference between Great Grains Banana Nut Crunch cereal and Honey Bunches of Nuts cereal with bananas (twice!), or swapping turkey with cheese sandwiches for the chicken salad sandwiches I ordered (I don't like turkey). 
 

 
If only the same could be said for restaurant delivery. Case in point: we ordered Denny's On Demand for dinner on Sunday afternoon, after coming home from our church's Lunch Bunch at  Fuzzy's Tacos after services. (Okay, so we do eat out sometimes!) It would seem they really don't take the On Demand part literally. The order arrived  minus my dessert. Collin contacted them, asking that they send the apple crisp we had already paid for. No, they said,  they couldn't do that. We could either have a credit or we could pick it up at the restaurant. I guess they missed the fact that we ordered delivery to avoid having to go out.

If we wanted to go to the restaurant, we would have eaten there to start with. It was their error, so they should have delivered the missing apple crisp at no additional charge.

This is not an isolated incident. Our orders have arrived with at least one item missing enough times to make us wonder if it's not simply a mistake but delivery drivers taking an item or two from their customers' orders. Once, we placed an order for Jack in the Box. Collin received notification that the driver was at the restaurant. The next notice he received said that the driver was off the radar, so to speak, and they would have to send another one to take care of our order. 


I have this mental image of a DoorDash driver headed south on I-55, eating our tacos. I hope they got pulled over for some traffic violation or other.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Nope, I'm Not Dead...Yet!

I just watched TV coverage of Sen. John McCain's funeral--the beginning of it, anyway. The hearse just arrived at the state capitol building in Phoenix. It's a sad day, for his family, for the state of Arizona, and for all of us. There aren't many good guys left in our government. We need more good guys, especially now. Some of them are retired now, some have passed away.


We just lost another one.

I hate funerals. I've decided to skip my own, actually.

My dad planned ahead for everything. Except his own funeral. He knew it was coming--and not just in the general sense. He had a premonition, dreams of his own death. He had money saved for Mom. He just didn't make any plans for his burial. He didn't buy a cemetery plot or make any funeral arrangements.

Not that it was never discussed. He had been in the Army and therefore was entitled to be buried at Jefferson Barracks. He was fine with that. Mom wasn't. She wanted them both to be buried at the same cemetery where her parents, my grandparents, were buried. Cremation was discussed. I brought it up. Dad liked the idea. Mom didn't.

So when Dad passed away, unexpected by everyone but Dad himself, we had to make last-minute arrangements. Mom was a basket case, popping sedatives like they were Pez. I bought four plots at the cemetery she'd chosen and a family friend helped make the funeral arrangements. It was a small, dignified service on a cold, February afternoon. Collin was only eleven at the time, so I didn't take him to the cemetery. Still, I knew it was difficult for him. Collin adored Dad. He didn't know his own father; Dad was the only male role model he had in his life.

Mom's funeral, by contrast, was a freak show. The twins she and Dad raised, who couldn't be bothered to visit her in the two years before, while she was struggling after a series of strokes, showed up. The girl put on a show, supposedly overcome by grief. The boy took one of Mom's sisters aside to ask if Mom had any insurance, if he was a beneficiary. There was a couple in attendance, the family suck-ups who were not there out of any respect or love for Mom, but for her eldest sister.

I found myself wishing I wasn't there. I'm fairly certain Mom would have felt the same way.

I decided then that I don't want Collin to have to deal with the stress of a funeral when my time comes. I asked our pastor if there's anything in the Bible that prohibits either cremation or donating organs for transplants or medical research. He assured me there isn't, if it's done for the right reasons.

It would seem the Gnostics did some weird stuff that raised questions about cremation.

Pastor Brandon reminded me that the Bible says we get new bodies at the Resurrection. He said if we kept these old ones, we'd all be walking around looking like zombies.

Ick!

I wonder if the new bodies look like the ones we have now? I'm hoping for an upgrade....

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Who Knew the Mouse Was Actually a Rat?


Bear with each other and forgive one 
another if any of you has a grievance 
against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

- Colossians 3:13

If God can forgive, why can't Disney?


  Oh, Mickey, how could you?

Recently, Disney Studios fired Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn after some offensive Twitter posts he'd done almost a decade earlier were unearthed by right-wingers upset about his very vocal opposition to the guy currently living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Almost immediately, the fans rallied to Gunn's defense, posting their protests on Twitter and Facebook.

Predictably, there were also posts applauding the termination and attacking anyone who defended Gunn. Were they disappointed Marvel fans, or were they just trolls? Nobody knows, yet.

The Guardians cast--Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Pom Klementieff, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn (yes, James Gunn's brother) and Karen Gillan--issued a joint statement in support of Gunn and asking for his reinstatement. I'm one of over 300,000 who signed a petition demanding he be rehired and voicing my support on social media.

One nitwit who believed Gunn's (old) inappropriate tweets mean he's a pedophile responded to me with a suggestion that I have James Gunn babysit my son. My response: "Well, James Gunn would be way out of my pay range and my son is 39 and bigger than Dave Bautista, so...."

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Aside from being a fan, I know too well what it's like to do something really stupid (and to some, offensive) and still be judged for it decades later. As actress Selma Blair put it, if we go on persecuting someone for mistakes they've owned up to years later, even though they've changed and are no longer the person they were then,  what incentive do we have to change, to grow?

As for the content of Gunn's tweets, I can relate there as well. When my contract with one of my publishers ended, I was determined to break away from the glamorous romance writer image that had been created for me. It was an exhausting role to do. I was by no means glamorous and knew almost nothing about romance. I delivered my option proposal, about a bush pilot living in Africa, a story as un-glamorous and un-romantic as I could think up. They rejected it, of course.

Then my dad died.

I was in a really dark place for a long time. I tried psychotherapy, but had a therapist who did more harm than good. I had to find my way back to healthy with a different guide. I kept writing, but the proposals I sent to my agent were so dark and disturbing, she wisely refused to send any of them out.

I'm fortunate, it would seem, that Twitter didn't exist in the early 1990s.

Some of you who know me well have heard this story before. My agent urged me to take some time off, to heal. She likened me to Picasso.  "He had his Red Period and his Blue Period," she told me. "This is your Ugly Period."

I struggled to get the creative spark back, but it took a long time. First, I had to find faith. I had to find God. When I did finally emerge from the darkness, my first published work was Chasing the Wind, a novel about faith and redemption, the struggle between good and evil, focused on a scientist involved in illegal experiments who discovers he's been chosen to be a prophet.

Yes, we can and do change. Some for the better, some, sadly, not for the better.

If every time the alt-right targets someone with trash from their pasts and manages to ruin their careers, their lives, who's next?  Where does it end?

Think about that. 

Postscript: Just read this from ComicBook.com. Looks like good news could be forthcoming!
http://comicbook.com/2018/07/31/james-gunn-guardians-of-the-galaxy-reinstated-possible/