Saturday, April 16, 2016

Life Being Lifish

Life is very good. BUT it can be very "lifish".  By that I mean, weird, annoying and often frustrating things will happen, and usually in bunches.

The car window motor will go out with the window in the down position.
Then it will rain for the first time in weeks before you can get to the mechanic.
Then, after you have slapped together some covering with duct tape, cardboard and plastic a stray cat who is afraid of the thunderstorm will break through it, sleep in your vehicle, and mark the front passenger seat quite thoroughly.  (And won't it be FUN trying to get him out in the morning when you're late for work!)

That sort of thing.

Life, my friends, has been lifish.  I am very glad to say that I seem to have recovered from the pneumonia.  I am behind on absolutely everything.  But I am, at least mostly, well.

I am grateful.

Being very sick sucketh.

But life continues to be lifish.  Ergo, I have no idea when I'll get caught up on everything.

But I will continue to try.  Because that's what you do.  And I will laugh when I can, in an effort to keep sane.

And I will write.  Because I love it, and because (gratefully) the publisher seems to think that it's worth paying me for, and the readers continue to buy (THANK YOU GUYS!).

But I will be behind for a while yet.  And I am sorry.  But I lost a lot of time being sick.


Thursday, March 03, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

It has been too long!

Life has been lifish.  But you know it has been too long when you wind up having to change passwords to everything because you have been out of the loop so long you can't even remember them.

Also, I do not like sites that require me to list all of the people I know on them and send them contact emails etc.  Damn it, if they want to join, they know how.  Don't nag.  But one particular site won't even let me check my account unless I reveal all of that info, or uncheck everybody, and now it doesn't even let me uncheck easily.  UGH!

SO, despite the fact that it would be a useful site for job hunting in Denver, I won't use it.

I take privacy seriously.

I am happy, excited, and think things in my life are starting to move in the right direction again.

I am also seriously tired of all the dental problems that come from my clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth until they break.

But I'll get them fixed.  It's happening slowly, but it is happening.

And in the meantime, everybody be happy, be good.  I'll try to do better, but I'm in the midst of working the day job and on three or four different writing projects:

A)  Copyedits of next Celia Graves novel
B)  Second book in the Fae series
C)  Short story collection (currently in with the editor -- but I've got some more editing of my own to do also)
D)  Project novel for the writing class I was taking online to upgrade my skills.

Which leads to the direction I've decided I want this post to go.  Growth.

Writing, and life, requires growth and learning.  Change is a part of life.  If you accept it, and use your personal drive and free will to choose a direction, and take action, you will feel more in control (no one is ever in total control.  That is an illusion that will make you absolutely nuts.  Life will always throw you curve balls.  But like an ace batter, you have to be able to adjust and hit them out of the park).

If you keep working, learning, it keeps the mind limber.  It also makes your writing better.

And the good thing -- it's almost inevitable.  The more you write, the better you get.  And, if you're doing the job right, you have to do research for every book as well, so you're learning that stuff too.  Psychology, travel, what have you.  I think my favorite odd combination of things I had to study for a book was when I had to study royal weddings, wedding planning, and the drug tunnels between Mexico and the US for the same book.

This Celia novel I had to look up corporate jets--prices, flight ranges, air speed, and calculate the travel times between various destinations.  For novels with vampires you always have to be aware of sunrise and sunset times; for werewolves, lunar cycles are a biggie.  Mysteries (including the paranormal ones in said vampire or werewolf books) require knowledge of various weapons, police procedure, CSI techniques, and so much more.

Faking it is a recipe for disaster, too.  Much better to invest the time.

I am a better writer than I was when I started out.  I will be a better writer a year from now than I am now.  (Assuming I'm still alive.)  It's important.  But the good news is -- even while you're honing your craft, the STORY is still so important that, barring disastrous mistakes that make you want to throw a book across the room, it's going to carry you if you've reached the level of professionalism where you have a professional editor to help you keep said errors from occurring.  THANK GOD FOR EDITORS.  Really.  And I don't care how far you've come in your career, and how good you've become as a writer, you need them.  Because there's always time pressure.  And also, because, duh, you're HUMAN.  And it is really hard to remember stuff.  Particularly when there gets to be a lot of it.

Like for example, say um, wow, five books ago we visited Freddie the Vampire Slayer at his house in Middlesex England (We did do that, right?)  No, wait, didn't we change his name to Eddie and move him to London?  And what color was the couch?  The carpet?  How tall was he?  Wasn't he a chain smoker?  I seem to remember he was--he figured he'd die from his job way before cancer had a chance to do him in.  Do I want him to quit?  Be grumpy about it?

The use of a series "bible" is awesome at helping with some of this (the name, the location), but you're not going to have all of those details.  And it matters.  And while it is lovely and good to occasionally to go back and read your old stuff, ("Wow, this wasn't half bad." or "Oh shit, I DID that?" are either encouraging or instructive.) it is impossible when you get to the level of having written twenty books to re-read everything regularly and still have time to write.  Oh, I still keep one of each very handy and refer back--and I'm blessed with a good enough memory to know approximately where in which book to find what I need.  But it's HARD WORK.

And that is one of the big things about growth.  It's hard.  It is way more comfortable to sit around binge watching your favorite show of the moment (for me at the moment it is PERSON OF INTEREST) eating Cheetos than it is to actually get the work done.  But it doesn't GET THE WORK DONE.  You get rewards.  You HAVE to occasionally rest and refill the well.  But ultimately, the only thing that gets the work done is WORK.  Which I am now off to do.

Comments are welcome.  Spam isn't.  Lord only knows when I'll get back to the blog though.  It could be right away, or it could be months.  Write your comment and take your chances.  Like roulette.

My suggestion -- Rouge.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Loss, Acceptance (and the Lack Thereof)

My aunt Camilla died.

She was one of my favorite people on the planet, unfailingly kind and supportive, always cheerful, and just an all-around great human being.

She was ninety-one.

And by the end, she was failing, and it was hard.

But I already miss her so much.

She was such an amazing human being.

And her husband is devastated, as is my mother, her sister.  But being very private people, they are dealing with it privately, and quietly, which is how they want it.

It is sad for me to realize that my parent's entire generation is rapidly passing on, leaving me and mine as the elders who are supposed to have the wisdom.  I'm NOT READY.  Wisdom?  You have got to be kidding me!  What wisdom?

I remember my mother telling me a long time ago that it's weird how you don't feel like you're getting older--you just notice how old the "kids" are getting.  She was SO RIGHT. My body keeps telling me that "Yoo hoo, remember me?  I've been around a while now.  You might not want to try some of that stupid shit you used to do any more.  I'm not willing to put up with it."  I don't really regret having done the stupid shit--but every morning the arthritis in the various joints I've injured pokes and prods me.

And I'm sad.  A lot of the time now is being spent on goodbyes.  And while I truly believe in an afterlife that is better, and in an Almighty who is kinder and considerably more forgiving than most of us (a) believe and (b) deserve, I also miss the friends and family who are gone.

There is a very old joke that a man goes to heaven, gets through the gates, looks around and is STUNNED by who he sees there.  He's speechless.  And St. Pete turns to him and goes, "Yeah, I know.  They didn't expect to see you here either."

I spend much of my life being very driven.  I have so much I want to accomplish.  I have goals, and I strive very hard to meet them.  Some I reach quickly.  Some will take me a lifetime.  But in all the rush and push to go, go, go--I sometimes forget to rest, and enjoy the moment, and treasure the fact that I have wonderful people and animals in my life, people who have taught me about laughter, loyalty, and courage in the face of adversity.

I've had a great life thus far.  People like my Aunt, and my Father can take a lot of the credit for that.  I never once doubted that I am loved.  (Although sometimes I admit I've not been all that lovable).  And knowing that is a bedrock foundation that allows me to be who and what I am.

I have experienced many things (still no wisdom though--but I'm working on it).  And those experiences, good and bad, and the people who took part in them, taught me things about life that make it possible for me to be a writer--to show others shaded, nuanced realities and tell stories about people who aren't just cardboard cutout figures.

I could go on, but, being driven (and looking at the clock), I realize that I only have a few minutes before the day job starts.  So I move on, diving into yet another day, that blurs into weeks, months, and even years.  Seriously, I don't remember the past three years.  They went by that fast.  It's terrifying.  Because if I don't experience the now why am I here?  I need the now.  Yes, the future is important too--but it isn't promised.  The past is gone.  It can only serve as a source of experience if I'm willing to learn the lessons.  Now is it.  I need to remember not to waste it on BS.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

I'm Not Sure

There are so very many things I am not sure about.
But I am sure I love my son, and my family, and friends, and pets.
I'm sure that I do my best, even if it often doesn't seem that the best I've got is enough to get the job done.
I'm sure that I've never been sorry to have done something kind--and am constantly beating myelf up about the unkind things I did that I didn't need to.
I am sure that being kind and good are seriously unfashionable.  But they are very important.
I have noticed that people equate goodness with weakness, but I've found it's MUCH harder and takes more strength to be good in the face of a world that is often harsh and cruel.
I don't know where this post is going.  I'm not sure.
But I will keep going, and doing.
Because that's the point of life.
Until it is over.
And then . . .
Well, we'll see.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

So much stuff . . . .

I am going to have a long weekend this weekend.  This is a VERY good thing.  THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF that needs doing.  Edits.  Writing on the next book.  Finish the class I am taking.  Household painting and repairs that DESPERATELY need doing.  Cleaning.  Paperwork.  I am so incredibly overbooked that it's crazymaking.

But I'm happy.


A.  Because I've got this crazy career that is keeping me so busy, and which I love.  Seriously, they pay me to tell stories and pay with my imaginary friends.  How can that be ANYTHING other than a spectacular win?

B.  I have a home that I can tend to.  So many people don't.  And I love my little house.  I wish it were in Denver.  But the house itself is awesome.  And I actually enjoy painting and doing some of that sort of thing.  I LOVE having a product where you can actually see the difference when you finish.  There's a sense of accomplishment with even the little things like WOOT -- I FIXED THE TOILET.  I SO ROCK.

I know.  A little over the top.  But still, it makes me happy.  And I'm big into doing things that make me happy right now.

Okay, gotta run.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Lifetime learning is important.  Reading is important.
Okay, I am about to preach to the choir.  I KNOW that the people who are likely to read this blog post are readers, otherwise they wouldn’t be interested in anything I have to say.  But I am going to say this anyway.

FIRST – Reading teaches empathy. It gives us practice getting into someone else’s head and POV, making us think about things that we might not have considered in our normal life, helping us view situations that we would never have otherwise experienced.

I have never been a black man.  But by reading mysteries with EZ Rawlins and other characters, I’ve had the opportunity to be shown inside the thinking of a black man and to experience the prejudice that was a part of his everyday life.  It gave me understanding that, I hope, made me more considerate than I might otherwise have been.

That’s just one example. 

SECOND – Reading teaches us things.  Okay, that sounds stupid.  But bear with me.

When my son was very little (and I mean VERY, since he was reading before he ever got to kindergarten), we were talking in the car and he said he wanted to know everything.  So I told him.  “READ.  If you learn to read, and read well, you can learn anything.  Because everything we know is written down somewhere.   And even if it is written in another language—someone’s written down how to learn that language.  You want to know everything?  The way to do it is to learn to read.”  He hasn’t stopped since.

I believed it then. I believe it now. 

THIRD – READING IS ENTERTAINMENT, cheap, accessible entertainment that doesn’t even require electricity.  People were reading LONG before we had electric lights.  And I sincerely hope we’ll be reading far, far into the future when the light bulb is just a quaint memory.

Can’t afford cable (or dish, or internet?).  Find your way to the library.  There, at your fingertips, is entertainment on the grand scale, available FREE FOR THE ASKING.

But I worry.

Because reading is becoming tres unfashionable.

Seriously, people are given shit for reading.  Even with the turn of the culture and the rise of the geek, reading hasn’t “caught on.”  I was told by a woman at my job that she was “stunned” people would pay me to write books because “she doesn’t have time to waste reading.”

Seriously?  She has time to shop and cruise the internet.  But reading, feeding the brain, is a waste of time?  WOW.  Just WOW.

We are supposed to take in our information in bits and bytes.  We’re supposed to be VISUAL, soaking in flickering images from a screen.  If we read, we’re to do it electronically.

There are studies that show how many people don’t crack a single book after they graduate high school; or college; or whatever.

It makes me sad.

It also scares the crap out of me.

People need empathy.  Look at any of the news feeds and you can see that.  People also need to get their information from multiple sources.  (Including, my friend, Wikipedia).  They shouldn’t trust a single news source as being unbiased.  They should ask questions and keep learning. 

Because the world doesn’t stop moving forward.  Things change daily.  You need to keep up.  And reading, whether on the page, or on a flickering data screen, is the best and easiest way to do that.

People need to ask questions—not just be led blindly by the most charismatic, handsome guy or gal on the screen. 

Hitler was charismatic.  So was Stalin.

I may not love every bestseller that hits the top of the list.  But it brings me joy that they do.  Because it means that SOMEBODY is reading.  And when something like the Harry Potter phenomenon hits, I crow with absolute delight.  Because an entire generation of people remembered that reading is also, at it’s core FUN, EXCITING, and ENJOYABLE.

End of sermon.  Stop reading this.  Go, pick up a book.