Saturday, September 26, 2015

All Critters Go To Heaven

Recently, my good friend Gayle lost a beloved family member--her Scottie, Dr. Watson. Those of you who follow her blog, Two Little Square Black Dogs, know Watson and his fellow Scottie, Hamish and have seen Gayle's photos of them. I have a pretty good idea of what Gayle's going through right now, having lost a large number of non-human family members. Most recently, I said goodbye to my bird, Sam, after almost twenty-one years together.

I've spent a lot of time praying for my deceased loved ones and wondering if they're in Heaven. Yesterday, I found this....

Thursday, September 24, 2015

This Just In From the Getting Old Sucks Department....

Years ago, when I sold my first novel, I bought my parents a new car, a 1985 Ford Escort. That was Dad's idea; Mom wanted the white Mustang the dealer loaned her while the Escort was being serviced. After Dad passed away, Mom decided to sell the car. She took it to a used car dealer, and it looked like she might get a decent price for it...until the dealer took it for a short test drive.

Halfway around the block, the fuel pump gave out.

That's what I've felt like in the past couple of years--like a car with a lot of miles on the odometer. The warranty has expired and now everything seems to be going wrong. After I passed fifty, this old heap was junkyard bound. First, there was the high blood pressure. Then, my cholesterol was too high. Then my thyroid stopped working. I discovered I have cataracts and glaucoma. And after so many misdiagnoses, I found myself on seizure meds (I now take two different drugs for the seizures, and seven more for everything else).

If I were a car, I'd be patched together with wire and duct tape.

To be fair, I've been epileptic since I was sixteen, but didn't think I was, because, to my knowledge, I had never had a seizure. I stopped taking the prescribed Dilantin while I was in college. Bad move on my part. Turns out there are non-convulsive seizures. They're the kind that cause hallucinations of a wide variety and really mess with concentration. Over the years, under extreme stress and without proper treatment, the seizures worsened.

But the worst sign of aging has been, for me, arthritis. There are days I can barely navigate our apartment. We don't take meals at our dining room table anymore because I can't sit in the hard chairs. Both of my knees are messed up-- sometimes I can't even bend the left leg.

I used to walk every day. I walked so often, the manager at our apartment complex remarked that I should be skinny because I was always walking.

The trouble was, those walks always ended at a restaurant. A recent study determined that if you live within walking distance of a fast food restaurant, you're forty percent more likely to end up with heart disease. We live within walking distance of 30-40 of them.

As Collin put it, "We're screwed."

Anyway, when I was told I could no longer go out alone because of the seizures (and Collin works 5-6 days each week), my daily walks came to an end and arthritis began. Now, I can't even make plans in advance for those days Collin is here because I never know how bad it's going to be on any given day. The problem has migrated to my left shoulder and elbow, and just a few days ago, the pain was such that my doctor ordered a prescription for painkillers. Just what I need. One more prescription.

Like Mom's Escort, it's become a day by day thing. At least my fuel pump still works. Sort of.

I should probably be counting my blessings. I could be comparing myself to our other old car--the one that looked like its only previous owner was a little old lady who only drove it once a week. Through downtown Baghdad.

That car lost its engine. Literally. The motor mounts rusted through and the motor fell out while we were stopped at an intersection.

I suppose it could have been worse, but I'm not sure how.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sometimes, You Just Can't Ignore the Idiots....

I've said repeatedly that as authors, we can't please everyone. Bad reviews are part of the deal. Engaging someone who's given us a bad review is bad form. Best to ignore them, except when a bad review offers constructive criticism. But once in a while, we get reviews by people who have clearly not read the book, or they give it a bad review for reasons that are beyond the author's control (it didn't download properly, doesn't work on their device, etc.)...or they just didn't read enough to give an honest review. Or they have a personal ax to grind (been there, too).

This one is, as you can see, a very positive review. Too bad it has nothing to do with my book, Final Hours....

Final Hours is not part of a series, nor does it have any gay characters in it. I wonder if this gentleman posted the review on the wrong book. Mine isn't the only Final Hours available on Amazon....

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
love the series, and the story line, the characters are deeply thoughtout and well rounded, it's definately something i would like to see more of, if i had one complaint is that gay romances, have very short story lines, i would definately like to see thicker books.

And then there's this one, posted recently for Chasing the Wind.....

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2015
I only read the first few chapters. I do not like the Christian fiction genre, and this began to veer that way. If you are going to put a graphic of DNA on your book cover, and purport to be a scientific thriller type novel, you probably shouldn't attempt to fool your readers that way. We're not stupid people.

The reviewer admits he/she (I'm not sure which) didn't read the whole book. Apparently, he/she didn't read the synopsis or other customers' reviews, either, or he/she would have known that this book, while not a Christian fiction novel, does have Christian elements (I was told by Christian publishers that I was too mainstream for that market, and mainstream publishers said I was too Christian--talk about being stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place!). It's a thriller. It deals with themes of science versus faith.

I checked this person's other reviews. Looks like he/she might have an agenda....

Sigh -- Another mislabeled, albeit well-written, Christian fiction genre novel. I gave it two stars when one would have sufficed, because the writing, characters, and plot are okay.

Dear reader: If you like the genre, then by all means enjoy this book. It is well-written and interesting.

Dear writer: If your faith is that wonderful, you do not need to trick people into buying your book by pretending that it is not Xtian fiction. Thanks.

I make no apologies for writing books with Christian themes. I spent a lot of years in conventional publishing, writing books that had a lot of sex and violence and now I want to write something that just might have a positive impact on even one person, the way the Left Behind series affected me. (I'm not a fan of Tim LaHaye's--especially after his comments about the wealth he's accumulated from the sale of the books--but I still enjoy the books.)

To my fellow authors: What are your experiences, if any, with idiot reviews?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Looking for a Hero...I Mean a Villain....

In the Despicable Me prequel, Minions, the cute, lovable little Minions' origins were revealed, along with a number of their pre-Gru masters of evil. Now, the Minions aren't really evil, but they spent thousands of years believing their purpose was to served the worst of the worst. That got them into a lot of trouble--until they met Gru and he realized he wasn't so bad, either. But the movie got me thinking...what other despicable masters might the Minions have served over the years? Here are a few possibilities....

Cactus Jack Slade, the title character of The Villain. Cactus Jack was the human equivalent of Wile E. Coyote. None of his schemes ever really worked....

Yep,'re probably right about that--about Cactus Jack, not each other!

Or how about Loki from Thor and The Avengers? He certainly could have used some help after that beatdown he got from the Hulk.... 

Yeah, guys...Loki could be a fun boss....

But what about Thanos? He's been one busy villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he never seems to leave his seat. He must need a few thousand Minions to do his bidding....

 Yeah, he is pretty scary, for a dude who never seems to get off his butt....

How about Ultron? He can probably use somebody to carry his oil cans.

Didn't anybody tell you not to use matches? 

Ah...maybe, then, you could work for the ultimate baddie?

Uh, Donald...wrong finger. I think it's supposed to be the middle one.... 

Guys...maybe you should just work for yourselves....

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blame It On William...No, Really, Blame It On William (It Was His Idea)!

When I started playing around with Photo Lab and Sketch Photo, I gave the treatment to a couple of photos from William's photoblog. He suggested I include them in a post here, so, here they are, along with a few more of my own pics....

Here's his sunflower pic (above)...and my versions!

Here's Bob the Minion and my Photo Lab version....

My favorite baby picture of Collin and a few Photo Lab versions....

If I don't stop, I'll never get any writing done!


Friday, September 11, 2015

Presenting...Sam and Friends (Some of Them, Anyway)!

Three posts in one week...I can't remember the last time I did this!

But as I mentioned in previous posts, I've been toying with the idea of illustrating Sam's Story. My publisher tells me they can do it, so the next step was to come up with the illustrations. There was a time I would have simply done everything the traditional way, but a combination of too many prescription meds and arthritis have made my hands a bit too shaky--so I turned to technology for a solution. As it happens, over the years, Collin and I have taken a lot of photographs of the cast of characters in Sam's Story, so I simply converted those photos using two apps on my Kindle, Photo Lab Pro and Sketch Photo. Here are some samplers of what developed. Tell me what you think!

 Sam Too (1)

Sam Too (2)

 Sam Too (3)

 Sam Too (4)

Sam One (1)

Sam One (2)

 Sam One (3)

 Sam One (4)

Sam One (5)

 Bugsy (1)

Babs (1)

Babs (2)

 Babs (3)

 Iggy (1)

 Iggy (2)

Iggy (3)

Iggy (4)

Bugsy and Babs (1)

Collin and Sam Too (1)

 Sandy (1)

 Sandy (2)

 Sandy (3)