Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Puppy talk





Last week I introduced the newest member of the family, er, whatshisname? No, I haven't made the decision. I've called him Max, and Dusty, and Too Cute, and MiniBear, Meekins, Cujo, Simba, Smokey, and Dusty (which is CFMs choice). Then at Cadence's dress shop a lady bent down to get puppy love and said he looks like Sebastien to me. Hmm, I'd wanted a literary name of some kind and he has turned around when I called him Sebastien, but it's a lot of name for 1 lb dog. Speaking of a lot of name, while we were at the vets they reminded me that since he's registered he will need three names. So here's the latest attempt
Prince Sebastien Maximillian von Boggy Bayou, And we'd call him Dusty?
Then the girl at the pizza shop mentioned Oliver. I really like Oliver for him, but as soon as I mentioned calling him Oliver, CFM started bringing up those stupid names - Bob, Tony, Coty. The finalists are Sebastien, Bear, Oliver, Dusty, Smoky, Mac, Wolfy, and Prince.





Hey, kid, you're not supposed to lift your leg for months!












GOT MILK?

I've been following him around this morning with a camera to see what it's like at his level. At one point I caught him in his Daddy's shoe and when I started taking his picture he backup at warp speed dragging his shoe and his Christmas toy into his lair beneath the coffee table.




I was telling Leah about his temper tantrums. If I pick him up outside and try to bring him inside before he's ready, he throws a fit, knashing his teeth like the little werewolf lookalike he is. I've started carrying him to his box and ignoring him when he does that, but he's so pitiful and looks so hurt that I can't leave him for long.

He has his own brand of perfect communication, besides the tantrums, which every mother understands. "I want my way, now!" CFM says if he's whining he wants one of four things, to pee, to poop, to eat, to sleep. Sound like any little humans you know?

And after only a week of being weened he's using the newspaper 80% of the time, at 6 1/2 weeks old! I'm so impressed.

Unfortunately, after working next week and my trip to D.C. next month when he's in CFM's hands he'll probably have to be retrained. I doubt that he is going to be chasing him around and catching him in the act to redefine his habits.

Hey I'll settle for just making sure he doesn't eat a rock or catch some dread disease.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Name the new baby



On my way home from the mail route yesterday I had an idea for a character - Sidney. I liked the name and thought, if I get lucky enough to get another Pom, I'm going to name her Sidney. We've had three Pomeranians, Brandy, Sunshine, and Spider. Brandy had a beautiful red coat, Sunny looked like a fox, and our little loveball Spider was black with tan markings.



Our babies suffered either abuse, neglect or disinterest before they came to live with us. All of them nearly a year old.

Well, fifteen minutes after that thought, my husband called and said, "There's a lady over in Natchez that has some Poms. She has one left but someone is supposed to be coming to get it. She's going to call us one way or another." I'm thinking to myself, when did he decide we were in the market for a dog? Last time we talked about it, he didn't want to be tied down.

Tied down to what - everyday life on the bayou? He never goes anywhere anyway. We've just been waiting to get over the loss of Spider and to find the right Pom.

So this morning we left the house at 5:30 to pick up some puppy supplies at Walmart and go get our new baby. This time we get to raise him from a puppy.


But does Sidney fit him? I thought we were going to get a girl. Now CFM is saying Trooper, and I've thought maybe Woofy, though not seriously.




Can you think of a distinctive name that fits him? Wish I could award a prize for the best puppy name for our Pom. A personally guided fishing trip on the bayou? No Problem. A favorite read you're having trouble finding?

Help. I'm tired of calling him puppy and smooch,smooch.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Favorite Navy Guy

Elvis has left the building. Gone to Europe.

My 'son', step grandson, whatever others call him, Navy Guy is one of the most important people in my life.

When he left town last week for his 6 month tour in Europe, I could feel the energy move away from me. I love our 2 hr conversations so I'm tempted to get international dialing added to my phone but I probably couldn't afford it.

He's so knowledgeable about so many things. I remember when he was younger, he used to study the dictionary. His book on fresh water fishing from a kayak should be out by Christmas. If anyone in your life likes fresh water fishing and is concerned about living green or the high costs of gas, you should give this book as a gift. As soon as it's available I'll put a link here.

Be safe, NG. I love you.

The Savannah Contest


The finalists were announced for the Nola Stars Contest this week. And though I'm disappointed that I didn't final, duh, I was impressed by how well the contest was run, the quality of judging in general and the way the coordinator, Keri Ford, and others managed the contest.

An all electronic contest is a challenge in itself. This contest, once it was announced was run like a well oiled machine at least from where I stood. Behind the scenes contest forms and entries were distributed to judges who had clear guidelines as to what to include, and not to, in their assessments.

In the end, contest results were delivered ALMOST on time, something very difficult to deliver when you're dealing with so many judges and entries. And a bonus - an overview of each entrant's standing compared to finalists' scores.

The scoresheets seemed as if they worked as well for judges as for the entrants, allowing for the scoring and insertion of the actual manuscript for comments to be added.

No contest is perfect of course and I had a couple of obervations in general from the contests I entered this year.

First, judges who have personal agendas which conflict with an author's work, such as religious or political, should recuse themselves from that particular manuscript. Otherwise their scores should be thrown out.

Second, it is bad business for the leadership of a contest not to make sure the results get posted in the RWR or on the web in a timely manner. We're talking long months...

Third. Some of the scoresheets I saw were missing scores altogether. Maybe there should be a second verification process just for that issue. (this was the only thing I noticed in Nola Stars.)

Great job, guys! You should be proud.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pavlov's dog for writers


Wow! For my writer friends. Ever wish you could focus and just write? Have you used a timer? This little program will help, challenge and/or drive you insane!

Write or Die. 'Putting the PROD in productivity.' Sound intimidating? You have no idea!!!! I can't wait to hear about your experiences.

Click here to try Write or Die.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Vertigo

Things can turn on a dime. Friday morning I got up and went to the kitchen to get coffee and I heard a crash in the living room. "Did you drop something?" i asked CFM.

"No, I fell down," he yelled.

Turns out he lost his balance, actually didn't have any. I managed to get him to his recliner - he was so dizzy he couldn't even sit it in unless he was absolutely still.

For a man who's never been sick I'm sure this was terrifying or, knowing him, just terribly inconvenient to have to rely on someone else and not be able to go hunting. (Thank God he wasn't up a tree when the dizziness hit.) Anyway, by the time I got him loaded into the car for the trip to the ER he'd selfdiagnosed his malady as an eye nerve problem affecting his brain, brain cancer, or worse. He said, "I'm not going to handle being an invalid well."

My brain is of course spinning on all this. What will I do if there's something seriously wrong? How could I afford to work and take care of him? How can I pay the bills if I can't work?

For the last ten years or so, CFM has had to take motion sickness pills before getting up under one of our vehicles to change the oil. Otherwise he gets a severe headache and nausea. So when he got dizzy I gave him a couple of of those pills. By the time we got to the hospital he could at least walk with assistance.

Long story short, they did a CT scan and blood work and found out that other than the vertigo, he's still healthy as a horse. The doctor said many people get vertigo this time of year. They come in because they are unable to drive or walk down a hallway without holding onto the wall. "It just wears off eventually," she said. In the meantime, she put him on anti-vert and antibiotics incase it was an ear infection.

While we were waiting on the doctor, they took his blood pressure. It was high. Not surprising, he said, given the situation and his anxiety. I said, "Mine's probably up as well."

CFM says, "Why would yours be up? You're not sick."

IS THAT A TYPICAL MALE OUTLOOK OR WHAT!

Beware! Windows Virus

Leah was blogging the other day about Mac's needing virus protection. I've arranged to protect my Macs but have never had a problem. However, when I was at my friend's computer store the other day he mentioned the multitude of pcs coming in with the Antivirus 2009, or as it's also known - XP Anitvirus 2008, Vista Antivirus 2008, Altimate Antivirus 2008 and System Antivirus 2008.

Computer Guy said Antivirus 2009 is usually promoted via a ZLOB/MediaAccess Codec installer found on adult websites."ZLOB has been thr trojan of choice to infect users with pop ups disguised as system notification that lead to websites with the rogue programs.


What makes it so difficult is that there is no one way this virus is contracted. It has been picked up on websites, through email, through downloads. The virus imitates an actual virus program, sends the user to the web to input their credit card info, ostensibly to purchase the fix, and Voila, they are sunk.
Here are a few ways that you could become infected.

1. The most common reason is you're not protected well enough with virus protection though some of these people were.

2. You might have downloaded a freeware or shareware program (or you're kids did, unbeknownst you! Their bad.)

3. You installed a shared network app. Some peer to peer file sharing programs may come bundled with Antivirus 2009 or other forms of spyware as an add-on software.

4. You visited a questionable website. Clicking on a link could automatically install unwanted software.

5. Someone forwards and email to you or attaches a file.

CG said many people wait too long and the only way to get rid of it is to wipe the PC clean and reinstall everything. So stay protected, these criminals are getting slicker and slicker.

CG said the best thing you can do if you suspect you're infected is unplug, yes, unplug as fast as you can and carry it to your local specialist, or your husband, lol, if he's GG, right Leah?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's been one month exactly since I posted. I been bad.

Did you see this video of a special canine who risked his own life to save one of his compadres? Amazing!



How many humans would have attempted that on a crowded highway? Does anyone know what happened to the victim?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day after Inauguration

It took over forty years but the Dream that Martin Luther King had for this country has come to be.

Last night was a special life changing moment for all Americans whether they believe it, whether they wanted it, whether they voted for it or not.

Last night, years of joy, of hope, of relief, of gratitude filled the eyes of many who felt the sigificance of Barack Obama's election in their hearts and shared it with their fellow Americans regardlessof color, creed and social status. You could feel the change today.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Dream Postponed


It took over forty years but the Dream that Martin Luther King had for this country has come to be.

Thirty years ago, I moved to the South from my hometown of D.C. In my first week I saw a shack which was not fit for firewood with 12 people 'living' in it. It didn't even appear to have utilities and in a field nearby an aged black man was leading a heavy plow pulled by a mule.

I thought to myself what world have I stepped into? How archaic that a group of human being have been treated so outrageously. I hated it. And that feeling did not change until last night.

Last night was a special life changing moment for all Americans whether they believe it, whether they wanted it, whether they voted for it or not.

Last night, years of joy, of hope, of relief, of gratitude filled the eyes of many who felt the sigificance of Barack Obama's election in their hearts and shared it with their fellow Americans regardlessof color, creed and social status. I felt the change today.

Today the African American who put my groceries in my car has a spring in his step and a wide smile on his fac. He carried himself differently, with pride.

The black women who came into my friend's store were confident and happy and seemed to have taken a leap in self esteem. My friend said, "It was good to see. You know 63% of the white vote went for Obama. That tells me that people are realizing we're all in this together, that it's time we pull together as one."

But it wasn't just the attitudes of our black brothers and sisters that I noticed. I saw joy on the faces of many many caucasian citizens, satisfaction in the result which showed we have not succumbed to the dark attitudes of the few, the exclusivists, stooped to the acceptance and promotion of continued prejudice.

I saw relief, felt relief and joy that finally there had been some recompense for what we have done to and failed to do for our fellow Americans, for what our brothers, parents and grandparents and even strangers may have been guilty of. We feel we've taken a step toward heaing - toward a national expression of reconciliation. And it feels so good, we smile. And cry.

Our people of color, this country's Black Americans came of age today and it's long overdue.

Now we really begin to stand together. Black Americans can feel that they have a stake, they've paid their own price. And they've received a reward they never should have had to earn.

I'm humbled. I'm awed. I'm happy. For all of us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Place of His Own

I sat down next to CFM today to eat my lunch. He has a table on either side of him and it seems I never have a place to put my drink. Today there were two books, one he'd finished, two pairs of glasses, two - TWO - nail files, assorted papers, a wooden monkey pen holder, and two extra remote controls.

I said, how about it you maintain this area a little better. Aren't you finished with this book? So he scoops everything off and puts it on the floor next to his chair (where it will probably remain until I mention that it's on the floor). He says, "With all these tables, I should have one I could keep like I want without you complaining.." and he walked outside.

Hmmm. I thought about that. When he came back in I said, "So you're saying you should have a spot you can leave just like it is forever and never have to straighten it or clean it. Is that what you're saying?"

He said, "If I want."

I said, "Not gonna happen. Just wash that thought right out of your head."

Cave men. I'm telling you they'd be perfectly happy living in a dusty old cave.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Redskins vs Saints



Well! I didn't know WHO to root for yesterday. I finally just decided to root for the good plays and boo on the bad ones.

In case you missed it, thee Redskins won. Yeah!!!

Ike

Sunshine at last! Ike came through west of us so we didn't get anymore rain. Thank God.

Beautiful low 70's today. It would be a gorgeous day to sit outside if it didn't stink so badly from the dead fish. When the water comes up like this sometimes you get a low oxygen situation and the fish die, what they call a fish kill. Doesn't help that there isn't enough sunshine to make more oxygen. And with the water going down the bank is all fawnky with dead fish and smelly slime. Just lovely.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

All riiiight! Football!



One of my favorite days of the year, the first day of the new football season and our Saints have just scored a touchdown. My heart was in my throat when Brees stepped back anc threw to the end zone when all they needed was three yards.

And my other team - the Redskins - lost Thursday night. Next Sunday will be good and bad, both teams on the same field but I'll have to root for both.

Go Saints! Go away Ike!

ADDENDUM:: I'm sitting in front of the bad TV watching the Colts on Sunday night football because CFM insisted on watching a movie. Heard of football widows? I'm a football widower. During hunting season I'll have to watch football by myself! Sheesh. We women from the Washington, D.C. area take our football seriously...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hurricane Ike - no, no

Nope, I don't wanna talk about it.

On my first website I had a picture of the bayou at its normal level in Fall.













This is now after Gustav.



Water has dropped a couple of inches today so if we don't get any rain, we may gain a few steps before we get another hurricane. I thought I saw a beaver a while ago. That would be okay but I'm keeping my eyes closely peeled for alligators and snakes. Usually there's about 30 feet and a hill between me and an alligator. Now the water is just a few feet away.

Yesterday, it was cloudy and rainy. The sound of chain saws was everywhere. It's so beautiful out today though. Low humidity, 77 degrees, a light breeze. The only disturbance in the fresh air is the occasional smell of smoke from burning limbs and debris. Seems like all of nature is relaxing, breathing a sigh of relief.

I truly hope and pray that this isn't the calm before the next storm. I wouldn't wish this on anyone but I'd like to see Ike go to Mexico..

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gustav - fourth day

4 Steps out

September 4, 2008



I can't remember when sunshine looked this good! As you can see the water is high, looks eye level with the bottom of the umbrella. (Putting my umbrella up at my little writing space made things seem back to normal.) Ironically, during a year when the river was the highest ever, flooding was caused by a hurricane dumping so much rain that the tributaries filled flooding areas for the first time since 1973.



Finally, we have lights and phone! I'm telling you one job I wouldn't have for the world is that of an electric or utilities service person. There is no way to appropriately express our thanks for their tireless efforts and perseverance in the worst of circumstances. They have done a tremendous job.




We are so thankful that all we lost was a couple big trees, a couple thousand limbs, lol, and, unfortunately, a $1000 deductible on the truck. CFM keeps going over and over the wreck. Somebody said hey, that hindsight is a great thing. You can fix anything but going over and over something really doesn't make it turn out any different.

We play that 'what if' game everyday as writers but in real life you just have to take things day by day. I don't know about you but I have a hard time doing that sometimes.

Looking back though, except for all the inconveniences we're healthy and the house is whole so it wasn't so bad.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gustav 3rd day

7 steps out
Wednesday, September 3
We got up early to go to town to get gas. Joe was driving the Tundra. It was very dark, raining. We came around a curve and a tree was laying in the road. A large truck was approaching in the other lane so he couldn't avoid it and we struck it. I had just put my seat belt on about a minute before that. Then I looked at the insurance and we have $1000 deductible! Sheesh.

No lights yet and the TV Dish may be under water by tomorrow or the next day. They do have lights on the main highway but the gas stations are just starting to open. No one has any ice. The few drive thrus like Sonic and Burger King that were open were packed and lines at the gas stations.

More weather coming through tonight. Hopefully the last round. Water is really rising and all the water around us ends up in this water system. I'd thought we couldn't flood here with exception of a levee break but we're thinking of going and getting sandbags.

I'll update again if I can tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav afterward

Tuesday, September 2, 2008
18 steps out
5:00 am

A long, hot, humid and uneasy night. Might as well get up and call to see if we need to go run the mail. Of course we have no phone service now.

QNZ has been on 24 hrs for days and they are saying power is out in 100% of the area. But the postal service number still says things are 'normal' in our area and we should report to work. So as soon as daylight, such as it is, comes, we'll take the big truck and head toward Natchez. I'm not crazy about crossing the Ms River bridge with the high winds that are coming through.

The good news about WQNZ is they are keeping us up to date, instructing people not to get on the roads – which they are ignoring – about toll free numbers to call for early claims submission – if you have a phone – numbers to call if you have trees over the lines.

Our little bayou block has several trees on lines. Of course, some of our smart neighbors have generators. Yeah, I'll have one within a month, whether CFM says yes to it or not. He's been putting it off every time we have an emergency for more than a decade.

The bad news is – I'm sick to death of country music. Sorry. But it's the truth.

We headed out and a large tree was across the road. Had to call a friend who has a big chain saw but he was out of town so had to hunt down his son to get it for us. Finally, we got to Vidalia – way too many non essential cars on the road, including us, but it wasn't my choice.

Homeland Security is telling everyone to stay home, do NOT get on the road. Called the postmaster and he said they had people everywhere but no lights. Plenty of mail – heaviest day for my route is today – but no light to put it up. Jackson is sending a generator but it would be this afternoon before any mail could be delivered. He said he didn't think they'd be going today. I said well, do I need to cross the bridge and come over there? He told me not to worry about it.

So we came back home to try to assess the damage to our property – another tree down since last night, that makes two – and countless, countless big limbs, branches, water filling the ditches, culverts, and bayou. CFM is a little concerned that the bayou could fill up enough to actually flood us. That should actually be impossible in my opinion unless a levee broke since we're on a ridge. But we definitely might be surrounded by water right up to the slab and not able to get out. The bayou would have to come up 18 more steps to be at the top where everyone here would be flooded. I'll check this this evening to see how much it's risen today.

The water comes from runoff from the lakes around here. When the water is high in the rivers around us they have to shut the pumps down at the end of the bayou and ours starts backing up. On our way back from Natchez we saw all the ditches were slam full where the water comes out of the fields and crawfish ponds.

Two of our friends called us to get their stuff out of their freezer and fridge here so we ate deer sausage and eggs and grilled toast for breakfast since that's the only thing working – the gas stove.
10:00 am
I found my old car adapter inverter and finally made it work so I could recharge my laptop. My macbook will run for five hours so I can get a lot of writing or editing done. This should be a good time to start writing forward on something, huh, since I can't work, can't get on the phone and can't watch tv.

11:00 am
YIPPEE
Our neighbor has an extra generator and is going to let us borrow it so we might even get some internet or tv or lights or how about a fan so we can sleep tonight. Right now I have what few windows I have open with towels to catch the rain coming in. Too hot with them closed.

Amazing how your priorities change when they have to.

Gustav arrives

Labor Day, Gustav arrives

21 steps out

Monday, September 1, 2008
This morning Gustav came across at Cocodrie, Louisiana – our favorite speckled trout fishing spot – not to be confused with the Cocodrie Bayou that runs in front of our house. We have 26 brick steps that go down to the bayou. We have 21 out at the start of the storm because of a lot of rain in August.

You can ask my critique partners, I've been sure this was coming directly at us since before the hurricane got to Cuba. I'm just glad the thing started getting smaller. The reason we're looking for the worst now is that the northeast quadrant and the area next to the eye wall has the worst wind and threat of tornados. We were in that zone as it passed to the southwest of us.

9:30 am
We lost our lights for the first time, too soon for a storm of this anticipated length. They've said we should be prepared for a long week of torrential tropical rain. The lights did flicker back on.

Ironically, I was working on revising my WIP – FIMB for the request from months ago AND the contest I plan to enter by Friday, Sept 5. With the new job I haven't had time to work on it and create the synopsis.

2:00 pm
I'd just sent my print jobs – four copies of each WIP and synopsis for the contest – to the printer. Four pages printed and the lights went out again, this time for good. *#>!

Well, what better task wth a hurricane approaching and no lights than to prop my feet up with a notebook and write my synopsis for FIMB.

6:00pm
50% of our area is without power. Really getting bad, limbs blowing out of trees. A really big oak twisted off and fell within a foot of the garden tiller but, fortunately, none near the house have come down. They are saying on the radio that the reason so many trees are coming down, oaks in particular, is that they have shallow roots and the ground was already wet around here from unseasonable August rains. I've made great progress on the FIMB synopsis.

8:00pm
The Natchez country station WQNZ 95.1 has done a fabulous job of informing the public from the bluffs of Natchez, Ms to Alexandria, La. The little battery powered radio I dug out of a drawer was our only contact with authorities, for weather updates and closings.

9:30pm
Gustav is still a hurricane and is midway through the state. That's amazing. The wind gusts are upwards of 60-70mph. The airports little wind measuring thingie is broken so we don’t actually know how high the gusts got. Power is out to 95% of the listening area.

Almost everything in the area from Natchez in Missisippi to Alexandria, La is closed. But the postal service still says on their 800 number that everything is normal and you should report to work in the morning. I'll call again in the morning..

The worst of the winds and tornado threat is supposed to be over by 2am so we're going to bed. Can't bury under the covers because it's too hot.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Monster on the Move


There is a monster headed this way and its name is Gustav. We're located right to the left and west of the crook in the boot that is Louisiana. Zip 71354. When Katrina came through it was actually east of New Orleans. And Rita came in West of Cameron Parish. So we lucked up both times. In addtion, Katrina slowed down and was just a 3 when it came on shore.

Gustav on the other hand is already a 5 and just entering the warm waters of the gulf. And it's traveling fast so it may be a huge 5 by the time it hits. AND they're expecting it to just sit and dump wind and rain for days. If it comes ashore where they are predicting we will be in the northeast quadrant, the heaviest wind and rain.

To top it off, I'm supposed to run the mail on Tuesday. I was already dreading it because it's the heaviest day of the year for my route, lots of catalogs. Maybe the people in Jackson will decide it's too bad for us to get on the road.

Traffic is heavy, cars with luggage strapped to the roof, caravans of travel trailers, ambulances, so many evacuees. The hotels have been sold out to the Arkansas border and beyond for two days. We're not messing around this time.

On other fronts, the insurance job is going okay. My plan for it to give me a decent income so I can have time to write may work out. It'll be another couple months before I know if things are going to work out long term. Hopefully by Thanksgiving.

I'm entering a couple contests this week with OTHR and one with FIMB. Might as well send them out and get my name out there, while I'm not writing, lol.

Hope everybody is staying safe. Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

TOOoooo Busy

Wow. I don't know how anybody works, raises kids AND writes. I know there are women out there that do it but since I started my new job three weeks ago, I've only had time to critique some for a fellow author and revise 'forward' on OTHR.

Monday through Friday I've been working, training, traveling to our office 80 miles away, and doing online courses (when my internet wasn't down - that turned out to a $95 problem.)

I'm still running the mail on Saturday. Yesterday, we had to run it twice because of a power outage in Jackson. That didn't really make sense, but the postal service has to abide by its contract which says the first class will be delivered if it makes it to the local facility.

Tomorrow I'm headed to Tennessee for a three day school - a crash course so that's another disruption of my writing schedule. I seem to be in revise and critique mode so I'll read Leah's Sam sequel while I'm in this waiting game to get back to my own writing.

Been thinking about what Cori asked me when I met with her about FIMB. She asked why I was doing it as a novella. Ever since, I don't feel that it's finished because in the back of my mind I was wondering the same thing. I've been trying to get the first 5 chapters of it together to send her as I promised but I no longer think of it as finished.

I just have to take everything a day at a time. It will all work out.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Congratulations, Leah!



A Published Author! You go, girl!

Who knew those fireworks last month were for you? (We did.) This is just the beginning. I sure hope I'm right behind you.

For more information on Leah's new book, and the sequel, see her blog!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Oh, let me rant

Two weeks ago, we bought a new flat screen TV. Serendipitously I had received an email from my cousin and a friend both touting the value of the Samsung. One had read that it was rated number one in PC World in the 46 inch size and the other said after two Sony's went out on them they settled on a Samsung. CFM and I sat between three identical 46 inchers and analyzed in minute detail the differences in the blacks, greens and blues. Finally we agreed the Samsung was the best.



In order to use the new flat screen to its full potential, of course, you must have HD so I started looking into our options. We were on Dish Network but they weren't offering anything special to upgrade, pay $125 for the receiver and add $10 to your bill. DirectTV on the other hand was offering the 'free' four months of the premium channels with Football ticket through December - this was very attractive sine we are big football fans - also free Showtime for a year and free equipment and installation, including a free HD DVR. What a deal.

The catch was that we wouldn't get local channels. Well, our local channels stink. The sound quality is terrible and they preempt national programs and special sports "broadcasts at the drop of a hat for local affairs. So I said, that's okay as long as we'll get the national networks. The representative said, absolutely, we could get both east and west, New York and Los Angeles channels which was what we'd had when we'd been with Direct TV before. This was the first of two reps who told me the same thing.

In addition, I asked her, so this is all we'll be charged. Just the $54.99 a month or whatever. She said yes. So I took off from work early to make sure I was here when they put the service in. The technician, a fantastic guy named Mark, completed the installation around 8:00 in the evening and we had all the channels including the networks. The next day, they took the network channels back, no subscription.

I called Directtv about 8 the next evening. After troublesshooting it the tech support guy said, I don't have the 'authority' to fix it. Uh, oh. That was a harbinger of bad fortune to come. He said someone would call me back within two hours. They didn't.

I called back after ten and asked what was going on. As usual with Directv, it's like talking to one of those programmable Roarke drones from the In Death books by Robb.

Drone: I'm sorry ma'am, we will have to send a waiver in so it will be 45 days before we know if you'll be able to get the network channels.

Me: I said, what do you mean it'll be 45 days! I was told I would be able to get them. And we had them last night. I wouldn't have switched otherwise.

Drone: I'm sorry you were misinformed. We have no control over the waivers. We are obligated to submit them before giving you the network channels.

Me: You have control over what your sales people promise.

Drone: We are not allowed to promise the networks until we have the results of the waiver which takes up to 45 days.

Me: And then we might not get them at all, is that correct.

Drone: That is correct.

Me: I wouldn't have switched if I'd known this. We don't want to do without the networks for even 45 days.

Drone: I'm sorry you were misinformed. If you wish to cancel you need to do so immediately - there is only a 24 hour window.

Me: So even though I was promised this, if the waivers don't come through I won't be able to cancel later.

Drone: You must cancel within the 24 hours which has already passed, but I see that they have not put you into the 24 month commitment yet. So if you want to cancel you need to call back and be sure. The commitment would go into effect at midnight.

I was 11:15.

So, I call Dish back (I'd cancelled earlier in the day) and in order to be reinstated, they'd offered to reactivate for free I needed to go ahead and commit) Sheesh. I told them I would call right back - each time you have mention briefly the reason for your call. But in general Dish keeps the records up to date so each support person knows what's going on.

Not so for Directv, I had to call back, go through the entire explanation listen to why I shouldn't cancel, that one of these years they would have local channels, that she's sorry again that I'd been misinformed. And then I listened to a long drawn out version of their cancellation agreement. With their history of ignoring and playing down the actions of their employees and not being responsible for their actions, I fully expect to see charges on my credit card regardless of the situation. THE OTHER THING? It wasn't the only charge. On my account billing online I saw an initial charge for $80 the salesperson conveniently refused to explain when I asked about charges.

So just before midnight I got Directv cancelled and reordered Dish. Then I was told the first appointment for installation was a week from now and we would not have TV for a week!

Do you know what a man without a TV is like? Without that remote in his hand, he's little more than a vegetable. Well, hell, he's a vegetable with it but a happier vegetable.

CFM wasn't handling it too badly, though. Then I thought of trying to take apart the wires and reconnect them. He was jubous as he puts it but after several tries we managed to get the tv in the kitchen working last night. Now, he's as happy as the finest French veggies. After all, in 100 degree heat what else is there to do when you're not working.

Never, never never never again. I thought about telling Dish to put it in my record. No matter what Directv offers I will NOT switch back. (Once they owed me $60 and they told me 'they don't do refunds!' Can you believe it. These people are from Mars.

I've never had bad service or even unfriendly service from the Dish employees at every level.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Feel the Fear

I guess I mentioned that I started a new job a couple weeks ago and yesterday I was hit with the reality of my fear. Of succeeding. Of excitement, change, joy.

Talk about an eye opener. I didn't realize I'd retreated into my turtle shell of comfortability. When had I stopped stepping out for what I wanted? Where had I gotten the idea that all good things have to come to an end? That too much joy is a bad thing?

Now, before you start thinking I've flipped out, I have to say, I've had a long successful history of working with the public in sales, computer training, management and in my own business. But after taking some pretty hard hits in my personal and professional life, I backed up. Lost my faith. Like a character in our novels, I'd been hurt time after time and I guess I disengaged.

Realizing that is the biggest part of the solution. Affirming that I am going to take hold of the joy. Like Maverick in Top Gun, my favorite movie, I'm going to 'engage', get back in the fight, and see where I land.

Click here for one of the coolest Top Gun compilation YouTubes I've ever seen.

One thing I'm sure of. I'll be in a better place than I would be simply vegetating and waiting for life to come to me.

Just gotta believe. There can't be too much joy, can there?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thunder

Haven't been online for over a week because my satellite was down. It's fixed and I have to catch up on bills, blogging and stuff.

I guess the conference is over and everyone is exhausted and headed home. Can't wait to get a listen to the cd.

Last night we had a horrendous storm. A couple people said it seemed worse than Katrina and Rita to them, at least remeniscent of it. Terrible lightning, wind, trees down.

My friend, Elaine, said she got up at midnight and looked out at the moon and stars which were very visible but the wind was blowing about 60 miles an hour, bending the trees almost double. Two trees went down in her yard across her driveway. She told me this story while I was sitting outside this morning under blue skies. I'd called to wish her a Happy Birthday, my life is filled with Leos and Aquarians, lol.

Just then I thought I heard, "Thunder." I said, "No, it couldn't be, the sky is blue and there's hardly a cloud." She'd heard it, too, just a couple seconds later. Is that strange or what? Cool.

Have you ever heard thunder at the same time as someone at least 60 miles away? It takes two hours to get to her place from here, across the Ms. River and through National Forest and yet, we were hearing the same storm. Is that awesome or what? I always thought thunder could only be heard a few miles. You know, even on the weather channel they say, count the seconds between the lightning and thunder, divide by four and that's the approxiate number of miles the storm is from you.

So what were we hearing - some kind of thunder tunnel?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Technology update

That hard drive I was having trouble with last week the very first time I used it - failed. I too it back today and the guy at Circuit City hooked it up, refreshed it, tilted it, trying to get it to appear on their computer so he could get my files off it. No luck. I can't believe I deleted some of my files after I did the backup! At least it wasn't stuff I really cared about.

Technology Rage! That's what I've had this week. First the external hard drive, then my satellite internet - which isn't fast on the best of days - has slowed down to a sludgy crawl. I have to contact my congressman. We should be able to get real broadband like the rest of the country.

When there's rain in the midwest the internet slows down in Louisiana. Really, is there any way to make that right? Today the download speed was 336 and upload was so low it didn't even register. No WONDER I can't get any internet work done! Aaargh!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Revising strategy

Okay, started a new job this week and since training is taking up so much of my time, I've decided to take a chapter of OTHR with me everyday. I can revise it on my lunch hour. I'll be further along than if I let it sit at the house.

I seem to get more done when I have more to do. I'm sure you know what I mean. The adrenaline is pumping, organization mode stays in play, rather than relaxation mode.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Weekly Quote

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.

Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Murphy's Law of Computers




Everyone has experienced those periods of PCR (PC Rage) even the most experienced. I think there should be a separate category for computer laws of Murph.

I finally set up my new external hard drive today and for the first time since I've had my Imac - 2 1/2 years - I set about creating a recurring backup. The weather was lovely (which - anyone who knows Louisiana weather knows that you don't do anything with bad weather approaching) so I said, why not now?

When I was in Jackson on my last postal training, I purchased the 750G My Book with the intention of creating automatic backups for both computers. So, at 4:00 this afternoon I hit the DO IT button.

At 5:20PM the lights went out. Not for long, but you know how that is. The backup was 35% complete. AAARRRGH! I mean, WHAT ARE THE ODDS that my very first time to use the damn thing...

Our electricity is about 5 times more likely to go out when it's sunny than in bad weather. So maybe next time I'll wait for a storm.

I'm sure you have a Murphy's law of computer tale to tell. Share.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I won!! Clap, clap.

Cool! I won one of the prizes on Angela James' blog

Better than I did at the GRW meeting. I bought six raffle tickets and didn't win a thing. That's my standard.

Thanks, Angie.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Day 4 S.C.




Yesterday, we visited our cousin, Carol, at her new home in Fancy Gap, Virginia. Carol does medical transcription and while awaiting the construction of their new home, they lived and worked out of their motor home. She used a Verizon internet card on her laptop which only worked because of the proximity of their property near the top of a ridge.



Carol is the sister of my heart. We spent so many good times together when my mother lived in Florida and I was visiting freguently. We took Word Perfect classes, explored used book stores, met often at Olive Garden, and, of course, went shopping together.





Carol just returned from Italy where she took an intense cooking class. Her new kitchen allows her to explore her culinary proficiency and serve meals like she served us - her famous chicken casserole, a corn and bacon dish, salad with raspberry vinagrette dressing and devils food cake with homemade chocolate gelato, an Italian ice cream. Scrumptious!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 2 Hartwell


I arrived in Hartwell around 10 AM yesterday morning prepared to explore the lake, to find out if the research I'd done on the internet was accurate.

I was disappointed to find that I wasn't able to get to the shoreline because of paid access to park roads and gated communities and marinas. So this picture is typical of what I was able to see, mostly from the highway.

I will visit another lake Friday on my way back to Atlanta in hopes of viewing examples of the foliage, housing, geographical environment and community to finish the world building for my series.

Today I drove around a local waterfront community gathering pictures and ideas for future books. Then I did a little shopping at the Home Goods store and Bed Bath and Beyond where I found some beautiful square dishes with a wine and cheese theme.

My cousin, Pete, for whom I named one of my characters, is visiting from Vietnam. The last time I saw him, he took me on a real insiders tour of D.C. I saw places I'd never known about growing up there. Tomorrow we will see our cousin, Carol, in Va who hasn't seen Pete in 40 years! It's a mini cousin reunion!

Last night he gave me the Google earth tour of the buildings he's built in Vietnam, commenting that the greatest thing that's happened in his lifetime is the internet. He used to have his sister order construction manuals and ship them to Vietnam. Now, everything he needs is online.

Gotta, go. I'm off my diet for this trip and we're fixing to go to an ice cream place for dessert. Later, gator.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day1 Lavonia

I left at 3am Saturday morning to miss the Atlanta rush hour and breezed through Atlanta at 11:30 Saturday morning. A most pleasant drive listening to about 5 hours worth of recorded messages to myself from the past year.


Found a couple of my scenes I'd planned to use in one of the sequels and a taped speech by an insurance exec on being a 'ray of sunshine'.

I ate at Lone Star in Commerce. I just couldn't pass it up - the filet goes perfectly with my Six Week Body Makeover regime that I've been doing although I still ate twice as much as I should. I guess the good news is I didn't eat half what I used to eat. I ordered the small filet. And I didn't order dessert. Baby steps, lol.



I drove to Lavonia, GA To spend the night where I'd have wireless internet (faster speed than my home connection) so I could research my lake locations for the series and catch up on some other stuff. There was a baseball team so I had to lug my heavy suitcase up 25 steps to the second floor. My phone didn't work so I couldn't call down and complain that she'd forgotten to give me my wireless password and my TV remote wasn't working. Oh well.

Luckily once the boys settled in around 11pm the night was fairly quiet.

Today, I'll head out to the lakes and get some pictures, get some of my questions answered.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Heading out on research trip

Well, tomorrow morning at 3am I'm headed to South Carolina to research my series. I'm dragging my feet since I already submitted the partial on book one but it's still being revised so I have time to make some changes and I need to get the other books a little clearer in my head.

Do I include one book that was set in northern GA or set them all in Georgia rather than South Carolina? Decisions, decisions.

I have to opportunity to catch a Georgia Romance Writers meeting next Saturday on my way home and I'll get to see three of my cousins I haven't seen in at least eleven years. They are the brother and sisters of my heart since I was an only child. I even named characters after them in the series.

So watch the posts for pictures and reports.
Have a good week.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Justice for Spider




Every now and then somebody 'gets his'. I mentioned my sweet baby Spider in an earlier post and maybe the fact that her first owner abused her. Stuck her in a drawer for barking (most likely because she was hungry or needed to go out). I don't know if it contributed to her short life but I do know it was a crime to mistreat such a sweet little loveball.

Yesterday, I heard that the woman who mistreated my baby was seen in chains at the local jail.

YES!!!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The nature of the beast

You have to remember - originally they lived in caves and had us fetching stuff and cooking. Procreating and hunting for food was pretty much all they were interested in.

WAIT A MINUTE! Has anything changed?

CFM: Hey, where are you going?
Me: To the bathroom
CFM: Get me a cookie. (in the kitchen not the bathroom)
Me: Allright. So I go the extra mile to get him some cookies and when I get back to the living room -
CFM: Those are just those sugar cookies.
(I point out that they are the ONLY cookies.)
CFM: I wanted a Twinkie or a candy bar or something.
Me: Well, you should have said so. These are cookies and you asked for cookies.
(He's sitting in his recliner (his stone throne) with the 'gizmo' watching a western I taped for him.)

I believe underneath the sophisticated (wrong choice of words) veneer, he's still a caveman at heart. Me, caveman, you my woman. Retrieve.

It will be interesting to see how much is swept under the rug when I return from my trip to SC.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quote

If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.

Lillian Hellman

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Two class acts


What did I do today? I watched the Wimbledon championship. Normally, that wouldn't be an all day experience but these two guys, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal went at it until I thought they were just going to turn the lights out and finish tomorrow.

Here's a daylight pic of Rafa who said the difference for him was staying positive and not giving up.


Rafa's blog show what a down to earth young man he is and gives an intimate look at his thoughts during Wimbledon.


Federer began the match unlike any he'd ever played by losing the first two sets. And Nadal had a chance to close it out in the Fourth set but got a little hurried and didn't take advantage. A rain delay gave Federer new life and he fought his way back into the match in the fifth when they had another rain delay. Then with less than an hour of daylight left they passed the longest championship match ever mark and were with in a game of having to take it up Monday when Nadal broke Federer's serve.

Unbelievable, awesome, enthralling, heart-wrenching and nerve-wracking. It was all of that as Rafa proved that his improvement on grass wasn't a fluke.

When they were interviewed these two humble, steady champions complimented each other rather than take credit themselves. I felt like one of Rafa's parents afraid to watch for fear that he'd lose, but he prevailed. If it had been a boxing match it would have been a draw. It was that close. At one point in the fifth set they had 178 winning strokes each!!


Surely Nadal will be number one tomorrow. And it doesn't hurt that he's such a cute hunk! Has anyone seen a picture of him without his shirt? Bet he looks dynamite in a speedo.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Upping the stakes

Recently my CP, Leah, and I got into a discussion about great contemporaries, specifically, what makes a great one.

I just finished listening - again - to It Had to Be You, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the first book in her 'Stars Football Team series'.

She is an incredible architect of plot and emotion but her books don't come out often enough. When I need an SEP fix, I re-read one or listen to an old one. I joined Audible and all of her books are now on unabridged audio, absolutely the best way to enjoy them.

So for the last two days I've been appreciating her incredible talent. What makes her books so special? What makes me hang, enthralled, from scene to scene to the very end?

If you've read anything about writing you've heard the advice from authors to up the stakes. SEP is a master, um, Mistress of upping the stakes. There isn't just one reason why Pheobe and Dan can't be involved there are three. That's the case with every situation and relationship. And the stakes just keep getting upped straight to the end.

Shirley Jump did a workshop for Killer Instincts called the Rule of Six, where the author carries the options for the scene or the plot point or character arc down six levels. Some carry it twenty.

Imagine the work that goes into designing your scenes with so many facets. Man, would I like to be sitting on her shoulder like a little leprechaun watching her plot her books.

Whatever she does, it's wrenchingly, beautifully done. And another one is finally on the way in February of 2009 - What I Did For Love. Hallelujah!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July


Wish I was watching the fireworks in D.C. with friends and family.
Happy Birthday, America

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Daily Habits

I can get so distracted, probably ADD or ADHD or whatever they call it. And it plays havoc with focusing on my writing.

For instance, I can't cook french bread in the broiler. I place it on the rack, stand there for maybe 10 seconds, then I see a spider web in the corner of the room. Must get that spider web. I grab the broom, swipe it down, put the broom up. Hmm, what's this cap doing here by the broom? Must put it where it belongs, and on and on. Until I smell smoke.

I could probably cook bread if I got CFM to tape one hand to the stove. [grin] I used to try to dry the iron skillets on the stove until one morning he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Do not dry the iron skillets. I'll dry them for you." That was years ago. It runs in Mom's side of the family. Not anything to do with Alzheimers (I hope). I have almost a photographic memory for things I see and hear but don't ask me where I put something. Out of sight - out of mind.

I believe I was the originator of the Day Runner type organizer. I took an address book. Fitted it with notebook paper and an alphabetical index and voila. I used one for years to set my tasks for the day, to keep track of everything about my life. I had a page under B for budget, S for songs I wanted to learn, C for Computer issues, P for (I know) passwords. But when I got out of sales, I set it aside.

Now, I'm going back to a daily goal system to stay on track with one addition - my whiteboard.

I've created two columns the one on the left for the task categories that I need to complete each and every day. Column two for the variables, my optional choices.

So this week it looks something like this:

Daily
Exercise
Write 2000w or 2hrs
Revise, submit, critique
Other - pick one
Blog/ email
Read instruction/inspiration

Mind Jog - pick from list
Writing
OTHR more revisions
FIMB revisions
FIMB synopsis, query
Write forward RC, LMA, Rory, FF

Other Options
Refrigerator
Straighten office
Haircolor
Computer backups
CDs
WORK - blaah

Sunday
Blogs scheduled ahed
Groups
Wash, cleanup
Sports on TV


So far I've been able to stay on track except for writing forward because I can't seem to decide which story I'm going to pursue.

Is that a good excuse or what!

You probably already have good habits? Anything you can share?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Challenging the Mind

Yesterday my favorite Navy Guy called to tell me about his newest idea for a book but it's classifed so I can't tell you or... you know the drill.




I'd been revising FIMB trying to get the partial done to submit next week. I'd been searching my online thesaurus for just the right word when he called. So I asked NG about it.

He's always been a walking dictionary, even got into a discussion with a police officer about the word 'parking'. Got the guy so confused he didn't write the ticket.

So when I asked him for a positive word like ruthless, he said, "Okay, let me think."

Across the fiber optic lines I could hear his mental wheels. Then not only did he suggest a word but a better way to get the point across, "Let it come from their reactions to him," he said. I'm not surprised at his ability to come up with the appropriate phrase. He's a born writer who's only recently discovered that gift with a WIP on Kayak Fishing due out by Christmas.

When we got off the phone, he said, "Thanks for allowing me to challenge my mind." This from the ultimate self challenger. I thought, as if he needs additional challenges for his mind. But that's what he thrives on. It reminds me of the logo I used on my business card, "Challenge - as necessary as the air we breathe."

It's too bad it's becoming less and less common for people to want to 'think', to challenge themselves, to solve puzzles. As writers we must learn to explore our world at the deepest level so our stories will be rich and unique. So the work will prove itself in timeless popularity.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Neither Rain nor Snow - Carrying the mail 101

Writing for most of us is not the most dependable way to make a living, or even spare change it seems until you get some sales and get going. So most of us have at least one other job or work at home caring for their children.

I work as a Rural Carrier for the United States Postal Service.

Sometimes people think, like I used to, that mail carriers have it easy. They just show up at the post office. Someone loads their mail for their route in order into their vehicle. They then proceed to just amble along and poke the mail into the mail boxes. This couldn't be further from the truth!


Rural Carrier delivering from the passenger seat. Many of us drive and deliver from the middle of the front seat or straddled on the console.


The truck arrives in our small town from the distribution center around 6 am. The mail handlers and clerks unload racks of mail - presorted letters, letters that weren't able to be presorted, tubs of presorted flats and huge bins of flats (magazines, oversize envelopes, newspapers, advertisements) that must be sorted within the next two hours so that the arriving carriers can 'case' them for delivery and leave the PO by around 9:30 or 10:00.

All of this activity has time, volume and accuracy factors. The carriers arrive an hour or so after the delivery truck and begin casing the presorted letters. Though the letters are presorted, each piece must be verified to make sure it isn't out of sequence and delivered to the wrong box.




Mail Carrier casing mail.

Then each carrier must collect the 35lb totes of flats that must also be cased around the letters in order of the route. Once the mail is cased and packages sorted by customer and marked, it must be 'pulled down' into smaller bundles and transferred to large tubs which can hold several hundred pounds of mail and packages.


The tub is rolled out to the carrier's truck or SUV or car. Each carrier loads the contents of the tub into their vehicle making provisions for bad weather. Most routes require the carrier to be finished by mid afternoon.

In the case of Rural Carriers these are their personal vehicles and at today's gas prices most carriers don't make enough off their gas and maintenance allowance to cover anything but gas.

Add to that wasps, snakes, birds in mailboxes, dogs, irate customers and highway hazards and you wonder why mail carriers don't get hazardous duty pay.






A recent web article reported that during National Dog Bite Awareness week a customer sicked their pitt bull on the carrier for trying to deliver a certified letter! Recent statistics pegged the number of dog bites nationally at 4.7 million, with letter carriers comprising the third-highest number of victims.

That's why when someone says to me - Oh, it's okay, he won't bite - I stay in my truck.

Mail carriers really don't want recognition though it's nice to receive appreciative comments from customers who realize how tough the job is. But next time you see a mail carrier driving along the shoulder, maybe you could move over and allow them onto the highway. Or maybe you could clean the wasps and birds nests out of your mailbox.

Next time you hear about national security, think about the mail carriers who keep your mail safe.

But even if you don't, we'll still keep doing what we do, because we believe we provide an invaluable service, especially in these days of high gas prices.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lions for Lambs

CFM and I were watching the movie Wednesday night and I made the comment to my CP, Leah, that I loved his movies and tought he should have won a best actor award by now.

She said she thought no matter what movie he was in, he's still Tom Cruise.

OKAY, I have to admit. She's right. I sat through the rest of the movie thinking Tom Cruise just doesn't seem like a senator. He just seems like Tom Cruise.

I DID LOVE HIM in Top Gun though. I've watched that movie 50 times - everybody at my house used to run when it came on.

Who are your favorite actors?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weekly Quote

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

High Speed Access

Welcome to my world. For the last six years or so the phone company has been giving us the same old line. "I'm sorry. DSL is not yet available in your area but it may be in six months. Which leaves us with only two options, dialup (one dialup server handles all the small ISPs in the area - the standard connection is 19,000bps) or satellite.

Satellite is like fast dialup only with interruptions for storms in our area (Central Louisiana) and our gateway (Duluth - you got it, Minnesota)

Imagine you sit down to your browser and click a bookmark from your list, then you count. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleve.. okay it's up. Instead of nearly immediate access to pages like real high speed internet, satellite users wait for 8-25 seconds for pages to load.

There are a few issues with that: First, I don't have the time to wait on page after page to load, to follow other links, to input, to update. True high speed would save me a couple of hours a day.

The service is only 'good' in perfect weather. If a thick white cloud shows up to the south, the speed slows down to a crawl.

And the cost of satellite, the medium plan is $70 a month! This is a prime source of irritation to me when the bulk of satellite users are in rural areas without other options and yet the government has yet to do what they've promised for years - make fast access to internet available for everyone.

The problem is not technology or distance from the local station because in Mississippi my friend who lives 30 miles from the closest station has received high speed access a year ago through fiber-optics.

So, give me a little feedback. I know I'll just be even more irritated but I'd like to know what's the average length of time it takes for your pages to load.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Patting myself on the back

Okay, a couple days ago I mentioned my being 120 lbs. Ha! You should not take that to mean my current weight.

ALTHOOOOOUGH, the change of eating habits I started with the Six Week Body Makeover two? months ago is still going very well. I'm going to actually admit to how much I weighed when I started. And then I'll include - gasp, I can't believe I'm going to do this - a picture of then and now. Hey, the picture I saw a couple weeks ago of me just before I started that diet convinced me that I do NOT want to look like that again. I don't want to eat like that. I don't want to FEEL like that.

I'm not trim and in shape by any means but I fit into a reasonable size, and don't look like my mother. I'm also eating MUCH healthier and considerably smaller portions. Basically this diet, after you determine the types of foods for your body type, is eating 5-6 very small portions of food at regular intervals.

I used to be proud of keeping up with the men at the all you can eat buffet. Typical American glutton. And that mentality got me into a lifestyle of bulimia from my teens. Once I quit, my weight gradually began increasing because I couldn't control my calorie intake.

My aunt sat next to me one time and said, "Ok, now put your fork down and chew. I couldn't. I felt like I was imprisoned. I literally couldn't take my hand away from the fork.

Something has to change for you to be ready. Some catalyst - a bad doctor's visit, needing a new wardrobe, feeling awful - something. In my case, I had always said I wouldn't allow myself to get as out of shape and overweight as my mother. Now, I'm five-two and wear a size 3!!! wedding ring so I figured FAT for me would be 150.

Three months ago I stepped on the scale and I weighed 155! I must have made an unconscious decision because two days later, the Six Week Body Makeover DVD arrived. And I haven't looked back. It's very inconvenient when you're away from home, or even at home, to have small meals prepared so that you can eat breakfast, midmorning, lunch, mid afternoon, dinner and then late evening. It's even harder to find the foods you need on the run unless you live in a big city where the grocery stores have healthy salad bars. So I broil my chicken and beef and vegetables for the week on Sunday. I make up a batch of rice noodles, get a can of seasoned mustard greens and snack through the day on my little pre-portioned meals.

I thought about Nutrisystem. But frankly, I didn't want to spend that much and once the Nutrisystem meals stop coming you have to learn to do it on your own. This plan appealed to me because of the educational aspect. I understand more about the incorrect foods I was eating. For instance, rice is complex, natural carb which sustains energy when you're exercising even. But pasta is pounds of flour, worked and compressed into a form that is not as good for you. An orange is better than orange juice because - duh - how many oranges does it take to make a glass of orange juice? So much common sense but also some good information.

WELL, here it is - OMG - I can't believe it's only been seven weeks! And I'm down to 135. It feels so good not to be quite so overweight. But I'm going to keep eating like this and get down to what they used to call a 'set point', a natural place for your weight to rest. And I must get back to that treadmill at my target heart rate.

Yeh, me! For once I didn't do it for anyone BUT me. That's probably why I was successful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Honey, Hold That Tree

This week I read a couple blog posts, one by Robin Rotham from April 27 and Danielle Baer's that reminded me about the differences in the way men and women think. I thought of an experience that gets a new life everytime my husband wants help doing some task that's a little out of his league. His adventures would have made a great TV series like the one with Tim Allen.

He was cutting down some small pine trees near the house. He...misjudged the direction it would fall. Hint: NOT away from the house. So his solution was to put a rope around the tree and hand it to me, all 5'2" 120 lbs of me, and say, "Here, hold that tree!"

It doesn't take a very astute person to know what would happen next. And he has returned to this methodology many times. The reason?

Ever tried to interrupt a man while he's working on a household project? I get, "I can't talk to you right now" or "What! I'm busy." Guys are TOTALLY in the moment.

Next time you hear a meditation guru say something like 'be present' or 'be in the moment' just think like your man. They have it down pat.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Anniversary


Today was my parents' wedding anniversary. The Washington Post had a huge picture of my mother and her twin and their double wedding at a large church in D.C.

Here's one of my favorite pictures of them.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Word Meter

I spent some time doing maintenance yesterday since I had gotten my manuscript off. I've been avoiding cleaning and everything else for weeks. Well, months. I also had some blog and website stuff that needed to be done.

Leahposted about the new blog list on Monday. It's such a cool feature! I love it.

I was tired of my word meters so I changed them out. Take a look. This was a different Zokutou word meter than I'd seen before.

I used red, bronze and blue in the classic style.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Another one bites the dust

Another goal, that is. I mailed my partial manuscript of OTHR yesterday and what a chore that was! It was much much easier and quicker to email my submission the day before to the agent.

My goal was to submit OTHR, formerly MOL, by June 17th to beat the RWA rush into the agents and publishers in August. I should have considered that mailing it to Canada was going to be a bit different than mailing within the US. I had read the guidelines on HQ's website but once I started thinking about the details I had all sorts of questions:

1. They don't use the same stamps do they, so how am I going to send a SASE?
2. It's going to be more expensive to mail internationally - MUCH!
3. Tracking wasn't going to be easy since the postal clerks were telling me that I couldn't track it past the border of the US unless I sent it Global International Guaranteed 1-3 days for get this - $43.75.
4. What were my options on getting the manuscript or a response returned?

My CP, Leah, found something in the FAQ on HQ's site which said you could simply mail a check for the return postage. Thank God for Leah. She's so patient when I'm obsessing over the details (but it was my first child to leave the nest). Thanks, Leah, for not sending the Canuck Incredible Hulk after me.

Well, I thought that was the simple solution, I had the return postage taken care of. But once I decided to spring for the $43.75 to get it there in three days or less, i.e., by the end of the week, they couldn't find any Global Express envelopes! Our clerk at the PO couldn't remember ever sending anything that way. (Remember we're not in the BIG CITY.)

Finally, I settled on Express Mail International which ended up costing $23.75 and 'should' get there in five days which would put it at HQ in Ontario by Tuesday! That was acceptable.

But next time I set goals depending on the destination, I'll allow for more transit time. Though I'd still probably send it via some tracking enabled method.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Solitary occupation

Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking.

Jessica West

Can you relate?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Revising and looking back

I was reading in Maisel's, A Writer's Paris, where a woman had been writing for a long time and finally she got a major advance of $15,000. Her husband said to her - "Let's see. If my calculations are correct, that means you made about 22 cents an hour." (Sounds like CFMan.)

When I pitched MOL in Shreveport it was at 82k. FIMB was a nearly complete novella at 14k. I returned from Nola Stars with a request from an editor and an agent for a partial on MOL and FIMB, and finished them. Then, I started slashing some indepth sub plots and a couple love scenes out of MOL to see if it would work as a 65k novel. That put me into early April.

It is now the second week in June, and I'm just completing revisions on the partial manuscript to submit next week. Amazing how much I've accomplished since the close of crawfish season. The good news is that I set June 15th as an achievable goal a couple months ago and it looks like I'm on target.

Now, I know that getting a first novel ready for submission takes longer because of the learning curve, applying the craft you've learned in the process, working out critiquing relationships and conventions with writing partners. I also had to work around the job and Joe's seasonal crawfish business.

But it's daunting when you look back at three months work and you didn't start anything new. My CP's been busy, submitting two and starting two. Of course one of mine was full length and you might as well say that now I have two versions, 65k and 90k. I also have partial wips of some connected stories that can be developed fairly quickly and I've been collecting characters and situations for RCM.

The thing is I'm happy with the product that's been produced and I'm doing it for a lot less than 22 cents an hour right now. And I know now that if I never sell - great racking shiver...

I'd do it anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Here's your sign

I purchased one of those gag signs with CFMan in mind. It said:

Please observe the following rules:
1. If you open it, shut it.
2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
3. If it's trash, throw it out.
4. If you take it out, put it back.
5. If you make a mess, clean it up.
...that's the gist of it.

CFman took one look at it and said, "That's a great sign. I need one of those to put up at the CF trailer. It says it all in a nutshell." (This from the man who leaves used paper towels lying on the counter, the air conditioner running, the refrigerator door open, and on...)

I just laughed and said, "Happy Father's Day!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Age of Inspiration

A friend of mine told me yesterday that her son who is 8 is writing a series of books. When they are complete he wants them to be sold together like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc. He killed the main character off in the second book and his son took over.

His mom said, "Honey, that might be kind of violent for a children's book." He said, "Then I'll sell it to teens." Whew. Smart kid. No doubt an author in the making.

It made me wonder when I first began writing fictional stories. I was so steeped in reality and mom rules when I was growing up that I didn't allow myself to write fiction. I read facts about the human body and astronomy. I journaled from the time I could read. I observed, kept track, but didn't comment - that wasn't allowed.

My first time was ten years ago at a creative writing class at the local college when I wrote about our alcoholic home during my teenage years.

When did you start writing fictional stories or to achieve a goal?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Out til Friday

I have training in Jackson this week so I won't be posting til Friday. Please come back! and have an awesome week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

For Feliz and Spider

I was touched to read Jordan Dane's tribute to Feliz, her 16yr old pet who passed away recently on the Avon blog.

I, too, lost a very special baby.



Ironically, I found my tribute to Spider the same day I read Jordan's blog so I'll share it because the wound is as fresh today as it was then, nearly three years ago.

'I awoke early this morning crying.

I have accepted that our precious little loveball, Spider, may not be with us long.

She came to us after much abuse - her previous owner once put her in a drawer to keep her quiet. And she suffers from congestive heart failure and liver complications. We are walking a fine line with her medications between keeping her well and happy and doing her in!

She has given me such tremendous joy. I don't believe anyone has ever loved me as she has. Oh, I know my husband loves me, but he doesn't greet me with a waddling spider walk, funny grins and entreat me to love on him til I just can't do it anymore.

When I find him outside he doesn't flip over and raise his arms and legs to me, kicking like an excited newborn until I reach for him.

And there's something precious about a companion that races across the bed and buries her nose in his neck to cuddle aggressively - I don't do that for him either!

Maybe that's why God allowed this little love angel into our lives - so that we could experience that special all-out love that we should show each other.

Thank you, my little love, we will never forget you. Now Cleo can enjoy your special companionship in Heaven's garden.'

Even with the pain and grief, we would not have traded a second with Spider for a different healthier pup.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Noisy Mind

Do you get so twisted up with life's vagaries, family problems, insecurities that you have trouble writing?

Eric Maisel gives 7 principles in his book Deep Writing that we should learn in order to make our writing MORE. He is a therapist and creative coach who will be at the RWA conference in San Francisco this year.

'Human beings are psychological creatures. This may seem self-evident, yet the writer who does not write, or who writes but does not write deeply, rarely turns to herself to ask, "What's my nature, and what in my nature is the problem?

A writer is much more inclined to take a hundred workshops than to stop and say, "My parents did a terrific job of controlling me and maybe I've turned into a control freak myself. That's a real problem? If I'm spending all my energy trying to control things, there's no chance I can write deeply."

...we can get twisted up early on and never get untwisted.'

WHOA! Did that hit you like it hit me? I could quit there. He's hooked me.

The seven principles:
1. Hush the mind.
2. Holding the intention
2. Making choices
4. Honoring the process
5. Befriending the work
6. Evaluating the work
7. Doing what's required

NUMBER ONE - My mind stays noisy. I figure if he can help me 'hush' it so that I can focus on the creative process, his advice will be priceless.

The point is to write deeply - actually , I gather the point is to delve deeply (is that a sign!) into our experiences, our brain, loves, losses, trace memories, to a 'quiet state of readiness, empty your mind, activate your mind', your being and your heart empty fully into the process.

He ends the intro with this profound statement.

'Our psychological issues really do prevent us from holding ideas, starting projects, maintaining momentum, and respecting ourselves and our efforts. We need to get well, or at least better, because we deserve relief from the pain and we need emotional freedom.

That sense of (healthy) wholeness and well-being must be a wonderful place to make art from.'

I'm sure you can relate. I wish I was going to be a RWA to meet this guy!

Important stuff!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

MOL update

FINALLY!!! I got my revisions done on MOL to a point where I'm satisfied with it enough to send to my CP for final look. Of course she might disagree once she sees the changes I made.

I was only going to go in and fix the love scene but I started at the beginning and saw many sentences that needed restructuring, a few punctuation changes for better flow, just a lot of little things. But I felt good about most of the changes.

I know, it's late to be re-re-re-vising, but I felt it added to the MS. We'll see what Leah thinks.

Anyway, now I get to move on to the synopsis and I'm actually looking forward to it. But have to clean out my office, hang clothes, straighten the house and do wash before I can think clearly about it. Kind of clear the canvas.

My June 17th deadline should still be achievable for submission.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Believe

For Leah -

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also - believe.

Anatole France

Friday, May 30, 2008

Staying positive

It's tough to do, stay positive in an environment where other authors you know are completing books, selling, making the NYT list, making money and it's what you really want to do. But there's such a thing as paying your dues, learning as you write, growing in the craft and in the business. None of the other careers I had happened overnight. They all took hard work, challenge, and education. All uncomfortable stuff.

On the mail route yesterday, I was listening to Carla Neggers' and Brenda Novak's workshops on the RWA cds. What an inspiration Brenda is, but how daunting to see what she accomplishes in a short period of time with 5 children and a busy life.

Carla's advice not to compare yourself to other writers, to understand that we all have our own style and pace reminded me of something Wayne Dyer said:

"Everything is as it should be. Just because dreams aren't manifesting now doesn't mean they never will. We are exactly where we are supposed to be, everything is happening exactly as it was meant to, I am who I am supposed to be at this time."

And the ancient advice which has been proven to work over and over:

ACT AS IF. (I used to have that on my phone, and it's going back on it.)

Act as if what I want is already here, it just needs to be attracted to me - the alignment of my intention with divine purpose.

I believe I've discovered this passion for writing for a reason. As good as my singing voice is I never had that passion to accomplish anything with it, just enjoyed listening to it. So I have to believe I will succeed.