Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Writer's Life

I must say that writing is exhausting work. My brain doesn't shut down except when it must. Personality tests say its due to being an INFP. If I had ever undergone psychological testing, I might have been diagnosed with some version of attention deficit disorder. The bottom line is, I can carry on a conversation, drive, eat, and watch TV while brainstorming book scenes without breaking a sweat.

This might explain why I'm trying to write 5 books at the same time. Insane, I know, but it's my reality. I have two more books each for the Daemon series and the Spiritual Gifts trilogy, plus the beginnings of another series.

Needless to say, the past few months have seen much time spent researching everything from Viking weaponry, Renaissance country dancing, the Texas Rangers (not the baseball team), and various Texas myths, legends, and murder mysteries. In my zeal for information and ideas, I've visits a few cool places and events, and collected a few souvenirs.

I mentioned previously that I attended a gun and knife expo, searching for information and inspiration on knives. While I didn't find reference material, I discovered a love of custom knives and purchased my first.

Did I need a knife? No, I don't. Do I love my knife? Yes, yes, I do. Ain't it pretty?

In May, mi espouso and I went to Scarborough Faire, one of the biggest Renaissance festivals around. While most women go there to eat turkey legs and get their hair braided, I really wanted to buy a sword, but demonstrated admirable restraint. Instead, I focused on the tour of a dungeon, various forges, maps, and anything that might help my quest.

The woman in the tapestry shop called this guy a library dragon. I called him the Book Wyrm. After she thought about it for half a second, she realized I was right. I'd like to think she will forever refer to this piece correctly.

Yes, I found a few book-related goodies and spent way too much money, but more importantly, I came away with usable ideas for sequel to Healer.

A week later found me in Waco, with mi espouso and the Mimi, headed to the Texas Ranger Museum. I came away with a buzzing head and confirmation that my new series might just work after all. I've collected a few books for research purposes (and curiosity of the absurd).

Don't judge. I'm a writer. (I saw a tshirt today: My Browser History Can Get Me Arrested. So true. Too bad they didn't have my size.)

The past 2 days have been spent at my first DFW Writer's Conference, complete with agents. I haven't tried the agent route, so being in the room while they played the Query Gong Show was an interesting experience. (Panel of agents are read an anonymous query letter. They hit a gong when they've heard enough to reject. Three gongs & you're out. At least, you hear the reasons.)

So for 2 days, I have attended lectures about screenwriting, the hero's journey, editing, marketing, book covers, challenges, writing courtroom drama, and historical research. Each topic could have had another 30 minutes tacked on. To say the speakers were excellent would be an understatement. The keynote speaker was Scott Westerfield, author of The Uglies. His topic was amazing: the evolution of the novel and teens into the current popularity of Young Adult fiction.

While I am still processing all the information and ideas from the event, I did come away with a few souvenirs.

Mi espouso can never have enough tshirts.

I think I'm done for today.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Blinking Cursor

We as humans tend to ask useless questions. Probably the most common one is "How are you?"

The recipient's knee-jerk response is usually a generic "I'm fine." This answer might or might not be followed with the same question asked back, and we repeat a circle of lies. Sometimes the conversation is left at that, which is fine, but if two friends are meeting, they might delve into the muck underlying the answer to get to the juicier bits. (Yes, this was my lunch yesterday with a friend I hadn't seen in 6 months. Had a great time catching up!)

Some questions are asked with true intent, but are equally useless in getting a response. The one which I especially abhor (yes, abhor) is "What do you want... (for your birthday/Christmas, to eat, to go/do, etc)?"

My answer to that question is a resounding blinking cursor. I don't care what is being asked, but those words in any way, shape, or form are asked of me, my little brain wipes clean. As a whistle.

I can tell you what I don't want. I don't want anything slimy on my pizza. I don't want jelly beans or anything gummy. I don't want to watch reality as entertainment (if you tell me I would love a certain movie or book, I probably won't). I don't want to be in a large crowd of people I don't know.

As a result, I typically don't answer the want question with anything serious which frustrates my family to no end. My typical answer for what kind of gift to get me includes a winning lottery ticket and a best-selling novel (mine). Two years ago, that was my answer and mi espouso presented me with a scratch-off worth $2 and The Fault in Our Stars. Yes, it was a winning lotto ticket, and yes, it was a best-selling novel (not mine). He's so funny and thoughtful.

I made him return the book (because a book/movie about two cancer patients is too close to reality for me) and use that money to win a bigger lottery prize. (He didn't win.)

I have found a better question to ask: What do you need?

It's easier to consider what is needed than what is wanted. Maybe I am simply a here-&-now type person, but a need is something I can identify. Something that is tangible in my little mind that is easy to verbalize: I need an umbrella today (too bad it's sitting in the car, prepared to do its job when I need it to get to the car), I need to finish Daemon book 3 and Spiritual Gifts book 2 (yes, they are in to works; no, I don't have a publish date yet), and I need new socks.

What a person wants, while it may be tangible like wanting red boots (ooh, maybe I need), tends to be more of a pipe dream. Mostly, I think "wants" equate to esoteric or unrealistic dreams. I want a small house, on a beach or in the mountains, with a housekeeper/cook and no bills or maintenance. I want huge royalty checks. I want everyone who has ever read my books, to write a review or share their thoughts with me.

Like I said, unrealistic.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Friends Rock!

I did something today I haven't done in my adult life: went shopping with friends. And they had no idea what a big deal that was.

Those who know me well (the Mimi, mi espouso, the Myrtles) know that shopping is torture for all involved. My mother is saintly(-ish). She usually takes me shopping for my birthday and buys anything and everything that fits. She learned a very long time ago to shove me into a dressing room and bring anything in the store that remotely resembles my size. Sometimes we make it out of the store a couple of tops and, maybe, just maybe, a pair of pants. There is usually frustration, yelling, and maybe a few tears involved. (For some reason, the sales clerks think we are hilarious.)

We are talking about a pseudo-phobia here. My shopping experiences are akin to the scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts goes into a store and the clerk says, "I don't think we have your size." (or something to that effect, don't quote me on quotes, but you get the idea) Don't even ask about online shopping. (Really? So not happening in my lifetime.)

The curious-minded might ask why? Why indeed. Why can I not walk into a store, find a pair of jeans, pay for them, and walk out? Because I only look normal.

You heard me.

I am tall. Not overly tall (IMHO), but enough for people to notice. No one believes me when I tell them my height. Arguments ensue when I say I'm anywhere between 5'10-6' (I do not claim 6', in spite of my mother's insistence). Not that it matters...except when buying pants (and shirts and anything else). The average inseam for women's pants runs up to about 30". I can get by with 33" but preferably I look for longer. Do they measure women's pant length by inseam?

Why no. No, they don't. We lucky women get to guess if we are petite, regular, or tall/long. Long usually works. (I say usually because the past few years have seen fashion designers make pants to include a heel, which I don't need.) Regular length might work if I add a ruffle.

Unfortunately, the powers that design clothing think tall/long equals toothpick. I am NOT a toothpick. 'Nuf said.

Whether it be shirts (short-waisted, narrow-shouldered, let's not discuss the girls), pants (see above), or shoes (did I mention my left foot is larger than my right)...anyway, I do not have a size. In all my years of shopping (aka torture), I have found I have many sizes for each body part. I have come to a conclusion--one size fits none.

So...back to my morning excursion. Here I am, shoe-shopping, with two friends who are smart, savvy, and more fashionably aware than me. I watch them try on some adorable, and slightly wild, shoes while wandering around, hunting for my usual fare (comfortable, multi-purpose, but with style/interest. Cheap is good, too.)

Imagine my surprise to find a pair of brown ankle boots with embroidered red flowers. They fit. They are comfortable. They were on clearance. I had a coupon. My friends said to get them.

So I did.

I'm on a roll. I might go shopping again.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Still Learning

As a writer/author/manipulator of verbiage, I consider myself an experienced newbie. Yes, I've published 3 books and 2 short stories. Yes, I've blogged for the past 4 years or so. That said, there's a lot I don't know. I've mentioned before (I am cursed) that I only look like I know what I am doing.

As with any other field, I have to keep learning. Writing is no different. This weekend was spent meeting other writers, discussing various and sundry issues related to writing, and researching. And, of course, I dragged the spouse and Myrtle the Younger along for the ride (because they need to know this stuff 'cause I said so).

Writer's Organizations 'Round Dallas (W.O.R.D.--clever) was created by all manner of writers to give each other a chance to cuss and discuss. We're talking screenwriting, play writing, novels, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and everything else are accounted for, which means they have absolutely brilliant ideas.

Take this weekend: WORDfest 2.0 was an event designed by writers, for writers. All of the member organizations got to strut their stuff and we writers had the opportunity to meet and learn together. They also host a weekend hand's on retreat for writers in which you get to handle stuff like armor, weapons, guns, pick a lock, court dancing, and wine tasting (you can guess which ones I signed up for).

Up next for a weekend of writing research included a jaunt to the Lone Star Knife Expo, which just happened to be inside a gun show. Who knew?

Why a knife show? Because there are sharp, pointy things there and I must write about sharp pointy things. You know...RESEARCH.

So, Mi Espouso and I trek to Dallas Market Hall in search of books and peoples willing to discuss daggers, swords, battle axes, and the ilk, only to find pocket knives, straight blade razors, and fishing knives.

Now one might think that these might be the run-of-the-mill Swiss Army knives and the like. One would be incorrect. These were hand-crafted knives made by people who LOVE their craft. In other words, my kind of people.

There were some gorgeous knives for sale. Most had traditional blade forms and handles made of high-quality rock (crazy lace agate--nice) or wood (you name it), but others...whoa...alligator gar skin! Cactus! Pinecone! (I bought that one, it be pretty!)

While I didn't find any reference materials about Viking era blades and practices, I came away with my very 1st handmade knife, one birthday gift, and...
TA DA! Meet Hugo: a Lego-compatible Viking figure, complete with a period battle axe and shield. (This is his happy face. I can turn his head around to have a grumpy Hugo.)

I guess you could say that I have found my writing inspiration and partner. Yea me!


Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Curious Mind

Apparently, author-hood means being the proud owner of an insatiable curiosity for the oddities of life. I find I am no exception.

A fellow writer posted this on their page:
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While these are not MY searches, I'm now curious enough about Canadian police procedures regarding werewolves to do a little side research. Who knows where that yellow brick road will lead.

However, if one happened to be curious about what my searches consist of, one only has to look at my Pinterest page. In the lovely world of suggestions based on previous searches and pins, Pinterest thinks I'm in desperate need of Wiccan spells, materials, and clothing. Just because I research a lot of mythology,astrology, cemeteries, history, art, weaponry, and medicinal herbs and oils (to name a few) does in NO way mean I want to cast a few spells (although the one for invisibility is intriguing, I've always wanted that to be my superpower).

A certain big name (who shall remain unnamed) bookstore puts suggestions for future purchases on their receipts. Today I left said big name bookstore with reference books about angels, ancient healing practices, and an illustrated history of pistols. My receipt suggested I might have missed out on the excitement of  tarot cards, a book about angel therapy, and oracle cards (I have no idea what oracle cards are, but I will be looking them up as soon as I'm finished here).

Now, if you will excuse me, I must resume my study of demonology.


Friday, February 2, 2018


Hello, again. It's only been a month since I last posted, but it's been busy. Obviously I survived Grinchmas. (I heard that sigh of relief. Thanks!)

So other than New Year's (I think I went to bed around 10ish. Another year? Yawn!), I've tried to stick to my guns and write. Hah! The universe has other plans.

Unfortunately, right after the new year, mi espouso's uncle passed away and we had to trek to the great city of Orange, Texas, for his funeral. If you know mi espouso, you know he wields puns mercilessly on Facebook. This uncle was one of those to blame. Uncle James was a joy to be around and will be greatly missed.

Our seven hour, overnight excursion to Orange gave us a few free hours to explore before the funeral. As you can imagine, Orange doesn't have much to offer for Sunday morning visitors. So what did we do? Drove 15 minutes into Louisiana, then turned around and drove back. Woo hoo! (PawPaw sat in the backseat, thinking his eldest son and daughter-in-law had lost their minds.)

Now with two and a half hours left to kill, we decided to explore the nearby city of Bridge City. Does Bridge City have a bridge, one might ask? Why, yes. Ye, it does. Two big-ass bridges that go over the Neches River. The new(er) bridge,  Veteran's Memorial, stands 143 feet above the water while the old bridge, the Rainbow bridge stands a paltry 176 feet over any form of terra firma.

Have I ever mentioned heights and I don't mix? Or that I have a recurring dream of driving up a tall bridge, only to find that it has a huge hole on top and I drive OFF said bridge? Uh huh. (Go ahead and psychoanalyze.)

On the other hand, I believe I HAVE mentioned at some point in time that I enjoy driving and (above phobias aside) I enjoy driving over water (which means driving over a bridge). Go figure. I don't have to make sense to anyone but me. So there.

Since I was the one driving (as usual, because otherwise I go insane faster than you can blink), I point the car toward the bridges and hope there are no holes at the top. I might have screamed a little as I drove up the steep incline and over the crest. Just a little.

One bridge down. Turn around. Bridge two awaited.

Mi espouso and PawPaw are still shaking their heads. If only they had known how easy I was to please....just find me a bridge over water and follow it up with a brick oven pizza and a cemetery. (That was the best calzone I had ever eaten!)

Mi espouso offered to drive me over the bridges again so I could experience the fun as a passenger. (Un)Fortunately, it started to rain and I decided going over two tall bridges a second time in the rain might be pushing my luck. Besides, we had a funeral to go to.

Uncle James would have approved.


Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Grinchmas and Shenanigans!

Yes, I know. I'm a lousy blogger. I've been busy.

Christmas is upon me, yet again, and thanks to a new job (full-time, yea!), I can do some of the things I've wanted to do for the past four years.

That doesn't mean I won't have a little fun, Grinch style.

Like most families, we have a tradition. We don't simply wrap gifts; we make the recipient work for it.

The tradition began in the early '80s when my baby brudder announced to all that he no longer believed in Santa. Taking him at his word, Mimi wrapped all gifts without anything from the white-haired one and packed us off to Big Grandmother's house (I had a boatload of grandparents, all named Grandmother and Grandaddy. I was a confused child.)

Picture the scene: children's bedtime, Christmas Eve. All is good until my baby brudder announces to the adults that he's going to sleep by the damn tree so Santa will step on him and wake him up. You can imagine the words out of my mother's mouth, and in front of her grandmother to boot.

Yeah, it wasn't a pretty picture.

Long story short: Santa arrived as scheduled and the baby brudder will never live it down. Since then, many gift-giving occasions have been opportunities for mayhem.

There was my 16th birthday when I returned from my grandparents house to be handed cleaning supplies, necessary to remove all the toilet paper from the huge bois d'arc tree and the painting mess left behind.  Apparently many insults were painted onto my walls as they redid my room, complete with redwood furniture.

There was a dismantled oboe for Mimi, used to make a Christmas tree. Poor oboe. They don't reassemble well. Fortunately the real oboe was in another room.

There was a humongous box on my baby brudder's 16th, filled with car keys to the Thunderbird, a pilot's log, pilot lesson books, and covered in mountains of trash which he had to sort through to find every last stinking gift.

Another large box, filled with weights, hid Mimi's 1st VCR.

Oh, the memories! What fun!

This year, I haven't done that much evil. Just one gift wrapped in plastic wrap for the Mimi and another wrapped in zip ties for mi espouso. 

Been nice knowing y'all!