Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ranting on a Thursday

Do you ever wonder if everyone else writes faster than you? I was reading my Blogs of Interest last night and early this morning and discovered that certain bloggers are posting and commenting a flood of words. How do they find the time? I know they have busy lives. I know they're as busy as I am. How can they devote so much time to posts and arguments?
      Yeah. Arguments. I've been reading those on ER's blog and his links to arguments on other blogs, and I'm amazed at the sheer wordage that's produced. Their fingers must blur as all those bloggers and comments respond to their opponents' latest salvos. How do they do it?
      More importantly, where do they get the emotional energy? I'm not a debate person. The few times that debates have happened on this blog -- while the number of comments was sort of cool -- the debates themselves were more distressing than interesting to me. I recognize that there are people who love to debate. Sometimes they pretend that's witnessing or "raising important issues" or "taking a stance," but mostly they just love showing off their intelligence and/or the sound of their own voices. It's a way to draw attention to their lives. And since they enjoy it and aren't making me participate or read, why shouldn't they argue, cuss, discuss, debate, and so on until they're blue in their respective faces? It's a free country and more power to them.
      However, I get cranky when someone says -- as a nameless, gutless, half-witted person did yesterday -- that I don't care about an issue just because I'm not willing to bind my wrist with my opponent's and take to the ring with rhetoric knives. I hold strong views. I hold very strong ones. But once I've stated my position and the other side has stated theirs, I'm done. Particularly if I feel the gulf between the two views can never be bridged. I won't waste my time, and I don’t expect the other guy to waste his. That is perhaps bloody-minded, but I'm busy, I've got things to do, and time is too precious to squander.
      All of this relates to the war in Iraq. I've never made a secret of my opposition to the war, but I don’t go around proclaiming it, either. Furthermore, our troops are there, and there is no quick way to pull them out without losing all the advances we've made. If we had a time machine and could go back and I were president, I'd not send our troops over there in the first place. Instead, I'd put a price on Saddam's head -- say, 50 million because he was a murderous madman and the world is better and safer without him -- and spend the rest of those billions on putting alternative fuel cars on the marketplace. (Not research, which the government seems to fund endlessly, but actual development. Put hybrids, electrics, air-engines, etc. vehicles out there, and let the marketplace sort them out. America has mainlined oil too long and allowed other nations to control us. We need to kick the habit once and for all.) But we have no time machine so we can't redo it. We have to work with what we have. This is the real world.

Our ability to rise above the muck, to strive to be better humans, to believe in justice and liberty when all reason says we shouldn't ... That's the essence of America.
      This is the lesson Cindy Sheehan doesn't understand that the majority of the Democratic senators and representatives do. We're there. We can't undo what has been done. We have to deal with what is. Oh, the Democrats like to snipe at Bush and Cheney and the rest of the Republicans -- that's politics as usual, and if you think either party doesn't play stinkin' dirty when they can, you're deluded -- but most of them realize the predicament we're in. Everyone who has a brain does. Iraq is a snake pit of hate and anger and suffering. Pulling out immediately would plunge that country into further chaos. We walk a tightrope there. And the only hope we have is that enough Iraq people finally decide that they're tired of killing each other. It's not a vain hope. People get tired of losing their children and family. But they're having to overcome centuries of hatred, prejudice and loss. It's going to take time. Our courageous and precious troops are giving those people the time to learn a new way. What they do is noble. Never forget that.
      We Americans have always been hopelessly na├»ve. We generally behave well, we try to do right, we see ourselves as the guys in the white hats. We're always surprised when other countries break treaties, lie to us, etc. We expect them to be as good as we are. We expect them to long for freedom and peace. This is our greatest weakness and our greatest strength. Our ability to rise above the muck, to strive to be better humans, to believe in justice and liberty when all reason says we shouldn't ... That's the essence of America. We are simply the best and brightest that the world has ever seen. We have problems -- we're not perfect -- but we're the closest we're going to get down here. And we're only going to get better.
      Those are my beliefs. I hold them hard. I hold them strong. If you think I don't, you're either willfully ignorant or hopelessly blind. And I won't waste any time with you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Terrible Tuesday

      It's been a bad day here. Terrible stress at work, out-of-whack blood sugar, upset stomach, not much progress on MBDD, and on down the bad day list. Probably this was all caused by the work stress. I hope tomorrow is better.
      I've been working hard on the formatting and covers for Murder by Dewey Decimal the past several days. It's a lot of work, more than I expected, but I'm mostly enjoying it. I'm still on track to have it to Lulu.com by the middle of June. Which means I should have a book in my hands by the end of June. I'm eager to see it, but I don't want to produce a shoddy product. I want it to be the best I'm capable of. After all, I'm hoping a few people will actually pay for it. I want them to get their money's worth.
      Otherwise, I don't have much to tell you. No plays are in production so I'm not at the theater. I haven't had time to read a book or watch a movie for a while. I haven't even had time to blog! But you are in my thoughts. I've been dropping by your blogs -- if you have them and you're posting, and you should be -- and reading faithfully even if I haven't been commenting. No, really. I'm not fibbing. Why are you so suspicious? You need to work on being more trusting. Really you do.
      I'm going to update my quote and scrollies, then I'm going to call it a night. Take care. I hope to see you tomorrow. But if not, remember you're in my thoughts. Doesn't that make you feel warm and loved? Night!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

If you've wondered

      If you've been wondering where I've been, I spent the last several days working on the book formatting for Murder by Dewey Decimal. It has taken all my time and most of my energy, but today I finished it. Well, I finished the manuscript formatting. I still have to create a front and back cover for the book. Sigh.
      I am going to publish it with Lulu.com. I don't quite understand their cover format yet, but I thought I'd get the contents ready to go. I'd like to have it published by the end of June, and I don't see why that won't be possible. I sent the file to Crystal tonight for proofreading. She has a particularly good eye for that.
      I'm going to end the excerpts of it here after Chapter Five. Then I'll start posting excerpts of Darkness, Oklahoma, which is going to be my summer project. I intend to have Darkness finished by the end of August. Once again, I don’t don't see why that won't be possible as long as life doesn't throw me many curves.
      After that, I'd like to finish Figments (a play I've been jotting down scenes for) and Dragons Gather. The latter is a difficult project. I have a lot written on it, but I've never been able to complete a couple of chapters in the middle to my satisfaction. The story sort of flails around there. I like both the beginning and the ending of the book -- yes, I write out of order -- and several chapters in the middle so I think there's a story there if I could just dig it out.
      I had another doctor's appointment Thursday afternoon. A follow-up on the diabetes. I guess I'm doing all right. It's been somewhat depressing to see how my high my blood sugar is, but I'm running consistently below what I had been when I started so I think I'm winning the war slowly. There was some liver damage, which is what we discussed Thursday, but I should be okay as long as I get my blood sugar down. At least that's that my doctor thinks. My blood pressure is good, and most everything else is checking out okay.
      I sure have been looking forward to these three days off. It's so nice to not go to work for a few days. I look forward to the day when I'm out of debt and can seek a less stressful and more rewarding occupation. That appears to be several years in the future at the moment, but it does seem possible someday.
      I was asked by Randall and TL why I'm self-publishing Murder by Dewey Decimal. Several reasons. First, I don't expect it to ever be published by a commercial publisher. As must as I like the book, I recognize that it would never be a blockbuster. It would strictly be what they call a 'mid-list' book. In years past, publishers worked on developing a strong mid-list, but the blockbuster mentality has swallowed up publishing, and mid-list inventories are smaller than ever, especially for mysteries. I know a writer who wrote good mysteries back in the 80s, but she was dumped when her publisher cut back on its midlists. She eventually found another publisher, this one in the romance field, and she's making a living at writing, although not as good a one as previously. The rights have revered to her on several of her out-of-print mysteries, and she's thinking of publishing them herself to put them back in print.
      Second, self-publishing isn't the black mark it used to be. There have been many successful books that were originally self-published. Admittedly most of them have been non-fiction, but many fiction self-published successes also exist, Eragon and The Christmas Box to name a couple. I don't expect that type of success, but I'm not going to be ashamed that it's self-published, either.
      Third, as I've gone through this process, I've learned a lot and will continue to learn as I figure out how to produce the proper covers for it. I've always wanted to know about how a book becomes a book. Now, I'm learning.
      Fourth, if by some wild chance, it does sell okay, the sales figures supposedly will help me land an agent for other works. I don't know about that. Seems an agent might be suspicious of a self-published book, even one that sells well, but the writer mags say that sales are sales.
      But fifth and most important, I'm going to like having it in book form. And if it only ends up as Christmas gifts for my friends and family, I'm okay with that. The journey is worthwhile.
      Enough justifying. Other than working on MBDD, I don't have any big plans for the weekend. I might hit some sales on Monday, but I mostly intend on taking it easy and wasting time on the computer. What are you doing this holiday weekend? If you're traveling, drive carefully and watch out for the drivers who don't.
      And now I think I'll close and watch a movie. Y'all take care, and I'll see you tomorrow. Night.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

5.2

      Not much happened today. I went to work and to my diabetes class. I go to the doctor again tomorrow afternoon. I'm struggling with the diet and meds, but I think I can do it. Anyway, without further ado, here's another excerpt.

Excerpt 5.2 from Murder by Dewey Decimal
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.


Chapter 5.2

Lisa drove into the city hall parking lot. Bernard's car was still parked in it. She frowned and looked at her watch. Nine-thirty. The board meeting should have been over an hour ago. Belatedly, she remembered Bernard was to be hired as Head Librarian. I didn't mean to miss that, she thought. I know what I'll do. I'll take him out for coffee and a burger to celebrate. Besides, that will give us time to talk. And she felt they should talk although she didn't know what to say. She hoped he would. She had gone by his house earlier, intending to speak with him, but he was out. She found herself driving past the Wyatts' home, almost afraid to look and see if his car was parked there. She had never realized how good an empty driveway could look until then.
      She had considered calling him a couple of times today but put it off, reluctant to face the emotional problems he raised. He, however, remained on her mind most of the day as she went about her various tasks: faxing her story to Veit, typing her resume, calling newspapers in the area and getting addresses, picking up another ribbon for her typewriter, and so on. She had also set up an appointment with the United Fellowship minister, Lewis Morgan. Talking with someone would help her, she believed, and he seemed nice and knowledgeable over the phone.
      John Towers, her former editor, had taken her to dinner and told her that a group of local businessmen were trying to raise enough money to buy the defunct Ryton Journal and News and pay off its debts. He asked her if she would come back to work for him when and if the paper resumed publication. Barely a week ago, she would have jumped at the chance, but a lot had happened since then. She was beginning to feel if she didn't make something happen for her now, she would never have another chance. Let's face it: I'm not getting any younger, she thought ruefully. I just can't see me staying in Ryton all my life. She had told John she'd think about it. He assumed she had been hired as a full-time reporter with the Dispatch. He didn't know she hadn't gathered together enough courage to ask Veit for a job.
      Tomorrow, I'll ask him, she promised herself as she walked up the sidewalk. Entering city hall, she immediately noticed Bernard talking with the mayor and one of the councilmen. Not wanting to interrupt, she glanced around and saw Merriman Smith at the drinking fountain.
      "Merriman, how are you doing?" she asked, moving over to him but keeping an eye on Bernard.
      "Lisa, my girl, how are you?" Merriman asked, a rare smile flowing across his face like desert rain. He had known her for more years than she could remember, and Obsidian was one of the offspring from his cat.
      "Doing okay." She said, frowning as she watched Bernard who seemed upset.
      "Good, I was wondering how you would make out when the paper closed, and then I hear you're working for the Dispatch. I knew you had it in you."
      "Thanks," she said, smiling at him. "But, I'm just stringing for them right now, and that's a ways from a job yet."
      "You'll do it."
      "What's going on over there?" she asked, indicating Bernard and the mayor.
      "Oh, boy, you sure missed a good meeting tonight--at least, the library board meeting was. In our meeting, that fool Rivers proposed the stupidest fiscal plan I've ever heard in my life, which is saying a lot when you consider that I vote Republican."
      Lisa couldn't care less about Rivers, but during the years, she had learned not to push Smith. He would get to the library board meeting in his own sweet time so she listened patiently as he compared Rivers to bathroom bacteria and told her what he would have told the City Council had he been given a chance.
      Finally he got to the board meeting. Lisa listened in amazement as he detailed Evelyn's entry and how it had completely thrown the entire board.
      "You should have been here," he said. "I felt sorry for your boyfriend, but you should have seen the look on Brunson's face. I just about split a gut."
      "What happened after that?" she asked, shifting so she could get a better view of Bernard's face. No wonder Bernard is upset, she thought. First, he suffered through Agatha, and now there's Evelyn to carry on and take what should be his job.
      “Well, they all got into a big debate about what they should do, and they decided to ask the city attorney for an opinion on her request. It was so late that they adjourned without covering another thing on the agenda. Basically they put her off until the next meeting so your boyfriend is in charge until then." Merriman leaned close. "I think they're going to have to give the job to her, but they're afraid since they offered it to Bernard, he might sue."
      "Bernard wouldn't do that," she said, shaking her head. "He's not that type of person."
      The mayor patted Bernard on the back and moved off.
      "Thanks for the information. I'll see you later." She quickly hugged Merriman and headed for Bernard.
      Before she reached him, Sherry Wyatt stepped out of the ladies' restroom. Lisa stopped. Sherry glanced her direction and then casually took Bernard's hand and said something to him. Bernard looked at Lisa and dropped Sherry's hand like it had burned him. Lisa quelled a sudden impulse to jerk Sherry Wyatt bald-headed.
      He came over to her, Sherry trailing in his wake.
      "I heard," Lisa said flatly before Bernard could speak. "What do you think they're going to do?"
      "Probably give the job to her," Bernard said. "Brunson told me that I could continue on as assistant, but he thinks they'll have to honor the terms of old man Ryton's will if they want to keep the building."
      "Can't they reduce her authority or something?" Lisa ignored Sherry who was standing way too close to Bernard as far as Lisa was concerned.
      “Ryton's will outlined the job duties," Bernard said. "He was a cagey old coot, I'll give him that."
      "What are you going to do?" Lisa asked.
      "I don't know," Bernard said.
      "Surely you don't plan to stay here now," Lisa said. "What about your other job offers?"
      "I haven't followed up on them," he said. "I was waiting to see what happened."
      "Now you know. Ryton doesn't have much for you any more," Lisa said. She realized she was pushing, but she was angry--not particularly at him but at the whole situation.
      "He might have more here than he thinks," Sherry cut in, smiling even though her voice had an edge in it that could cut bone.
      Lisa glanced at her and then looked back at Bernard. "I was going to take you out for coffee to celebrate your promotion. We could still go ... and talk."
      Bernard looked uncomfortable, glancing at Sherry.
      "How nice," Sherry said, still displaying those white teeth that Lisa was thinking about making into a necklace. "But Bernard and I already have plans."
      "Some of the people from the church are getting together tonight at the Pizza Shack," he said. "It’s late, though--"
      “I'm sure they'll still be there," Sherry said. "Joan told me that they weren't going to get there until nine."
      "You're welcome to come," Bernard said.
      Sherry's smile became strained.
      Lisa looked at him, marveling at the stupidity of men. "No, thank you." She walked away.
      "What about tomorrow?" he asked.
      "Thank you, but I'm busy," she flung back over her shoulder.
      "I'll call you," he said.
      She went out the door without answering. She stalked to her car, talking angrily to herself. You blew it, Bernard M. Worthington. That was the last time I humiliate myself for you. You can go to--
      "Lisa, wait," Bernard said from behind her. "I want to talk to you."
      Lisa whirled around. "I thought you were going with Sherry," she bit out.
      "I told her that I needed to talk to you," he said. "I thought it was more important."
      She took a deep breath. "Okay, let's talk."
      "Don't you want to go somewhere else?"
      In way of a reply, she walked over to a stone bench off from the sidewalk and sat down.
      He followed her.
      They sat in silence and watched the parking lot empty.
      Sherry looked over at them and hesitated and then drove off in a flurry of gravel. They listened to the night sounds for a while.
      When he spoke, his voice was quiet. "I don't know why you're so mad at me. I thought we had become friends. I need to know what you're thinking."
      "That's exactly what I was going to say to you," Lisa said. "What are you thinking?"
      "About what?"
      "About the situation in the Middle East, of course," she snapped.
      Silence.
      "I need to know what we're talking about," he said tightly. "I don't think I deserved that."
      Lisa sighed. "No, you didn't. Sorry."
      He considered her for a moment and then said, "It's okay. I think we've both had too many shocks this week."
      "I'd like to talk about us," Lisa said.
      "I'm all ears. Although I think I ought go to a plastic surgeon about that."
      "Be serious."
      "Sorry," he said. "What do you want to talk about?"
      "Well, for one thing, is there an 'us' to talk about?"
      Bernard was silent for a moment. "I don't know. I think there is, but I don't know. Do you think there is?"
      "Haven't we had this conversation before?" she asked wryly.
      He smiled. "I believe so. And it was so much fun the first time, too." He became serious again. "I don't mean to be putting you off. I honestly don't know." He looked up at the sky. "This is all very different for me."
      "In what way?"
      "I guess it's different because I keep feeling like I need to make a decision about it." He looked at her. "It's like this: All my life, it seems things have just always worked out for me. I mean, I didn't so much choose to be a librarian as it chose me."
      "You're not about to tell me about a bright light coming from the sky and the voice of Dewey speaking to you, are you?" She cocked an eyebrow at him.
      "Now, who was telling who to be serious a few moments ago?"
      "Sorry."
      "Actually, I like your idea, but that's not how it happened." He looked down at the ground. "After my father ... died, I started finding it hard to make decisions. Everything seemed pointless. Why decide to do anything when you could end up in a drainage ditch? I drifted along, and it seemed like all my decisions just happened." He shrugged. "My mother was a librarian; I guess libraries may have seemed safe. I certainly knew a lot about them. When I went to college, I drifted through it. Don't get me wrong; it is difficult work and I had to work hard for my degree, but I don't know if I really chose it."
      "What about Sherry?" Lisa asked, watching his face intently.
      "Almost the same thing." He slapped at a gnat. "You know, this is kind of sick, but in a way, I was glad when all this happened because it meant I didn't have to make any decisions about a new job."
      "Well, that explains why you worked six months with Agatha," Lisa said.
      "Yeah, I guess most people wouldn't have lasted that long. Of course, for the first few months, I was staying for Sherry."
      Lisa shook her head. "You know, it's funny in a weird way. You and I have exactly the opposite problems. You have trouble making decisions, and I make them too fast."
      He raised an eyebrow.
      "I rush around a lot, changing things, readjusting my life to suit my mood, and never considering all of the consequences. I've ... wrecked some things that way. I push too hard. I guess it's because I feel like I've never had anything so I want everything. And I want it right now."
      "What do you want?" Bernard asked, turning to face her. “What do you want right now?"
      Lisa paused, then the answer came clawing out. "I want to catch the bastard that attacked me!" She burst into tears. Bernard placed his arms around her and pulled her against him.
      "Okay," he said, softly. "We will."

End excerpt. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. No copying or downloading without express written permission.
 

Monday, May 21, 2007

May 2007 Giveaway Winner & excerpt

The May 2007 Giveaway Winner is Gloria Williams! Gloria wins the script for Del Shores' "Daddy's Dyin' Who's Got The Will?"; Passion, a small book of poems by me; and a CD containing over 250 humor columns by me that were published in various newspapers and newsletters. Gloria, email me the address you'd like your loot mailed to. Thanks to everyone who participated, and be sure to watch for the June 2007 Giveway.
      And now another excerpt from Murder by Dewey Decimal.

Excerpt 5.1 from Murder by Dewey Decimal
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.


Chapter 5.1

      Bernard watched Benjamin Rivers intently, hoping that the councilman would say nothing. The Ryton City Council had already set through two of River's mind-numbing speeches, and Bernard wasn't sure if he could endure another one. Or actually if his butt could. Bernard decided that if he was ever a councilman, the first thing he would do was get padded chairs in the city hall auditorium.
      "Any other business?" Mayor Otis Brunson asked.
      Bernard sent a silent plea upward, promising to teach Sunday School or feed the poor or do some other selfless service, but his bribe was apparently ignored.
      "Yes, I have something I think we should discuss," Rivers said, his jowls shaking as he nodded his head vigorously, looking like those toy nodding dogs Bernard occasionally saw in the back windows of cars. "For some time, we have needed a new system to allow us to maintain better control of the city's finances." He held up some papers. "I believe I have formulated a plan that will do just that and also correct some problems that our treasurer seems unable to do anything about."
      The other councilmen sighed, exchanged glances, and resignedly listened as Rivers expounded in numbing detail his plan for a new accounting system for the city. City Treasurer Merriman Smith glowered at Rivers.
      Bernard shook his head in exasperation and leaned back in his seat, stretching his legs under the seat in front of him. He was waiting for the library board meeting, which would follow the City Council. The board meeting was scheduled to begin at seven-thirty, but Rivers had apparently decided to launch another offensive in his ongoing war with Merriman Smith.
      When Bernard first moved to Ryton, he had started attending the City Council meetings, fascinated first by the interplay and workings of city government and then by the rivalry between Rivers and Smith. Even now he might have enjoyed watching the fight except he was eager to discuss Agatha's will with the board. Bernard was certain the board would accept the name change--in fact, he had decided to recommend it because, whatever his personal feelings about Agatha, she had served the library for thirty years--and he wanted to discuss a couple of ways the money could be spent, the chief of which was computerizing the Ryton library.
      But, first on the agenda was a recommendation to appoint Bernard the new Head Librarian. Bernard checked his shirt pocket to make sure his short acceptance speech was there. The mayor had called him this afternoon to tell him to prepare one.
      "I don't think you'll have any trouble getting the job," Brunson had told Bernard. "The council recognizes your ability and skills. And several people have called to express their support. Why, Michael Wyatt's even called twice."
      Thinking about the call, Bernard found it bothered him that Sherry's father had called Brunson. Although he had always liked Michael, Bernard had never been close to him. He felt like he was supposed to be grateful for the support. I don't want to owe anything to him, Bernard thought. Sherry's and mine relationship is already too complicated. He probably meant well.
      Bernard looked around the auditorium. It was empty other than him and a couple of elderly men who always attended the meetings to give their opinions on any and all issues. Occasionally the auditorium would fill up when a controversial subject was on the agenda, but for the most part, the Ryton City Council operated without citizen input. Which seemed to be the way the council liked it and might explain why the chairs were so uncomfortable.
      A movement at the back of the room caught Bernard's eye. He could see a woman standing outside in the hall, but she was too far back for him to identify. He hoped it was Lisa. He tried to call her twice today and received no answer either time. He felt they needed to talk, although he didn't know what to say which would mend the rift that had developed in their relationship last night. He hoped she would.
      Rivers finished his speech, and Bernard's attention was drawn back to the meeting. Smith was obviously intending to respond but didn't get a chance as Mayor Brunson hastily said, "We should certainly look into the matter. Do I have a motion to adjourn?"
      Almost as one, the councilmen said, "Aye."
      Smith subsided with an angry look at Rivers who pointedly looked everywhere except at Smith.
      After shuffling papers, Brunson finally called the library board meeting to order. The last month's minutes were read and approved as Bernard waited impatiently, unconsciously tapping his fingers on the arm of his seat. The mayor favored him with a smile.
      "Bernard, come up here and sit down," Brunson said, pulling back a chair.
      The various councilmen nodded their greetings to Bernard as he seated himself at the table. A woman walked into the auditorium, but it wasn't Lisa. A camera hanging at her neck, Sherry waved at Bernard. Disappointed, Bernard still smiled back and thought it was nice of her to come to see him become Head Librarian. She sat down in the front row and adjusted her camera.
      Brunson reached over to turn on a cassette recorder. It was an election year, and Bernard was certain the tape of this would find its way to the local radio station where its one-person news staff would accept it gratefully and give the mayor some free publicity in the form of a news story.
      Reading from a paper, Brunson began, "As you know gentlemen, we have a position to fill at the Ryton Library, that of Head Librarian left vacant by the tragic death of Mrs. Agatha Ryton-Storer. We are fortunate, however, that we have a trained person that I believe will be able to handle the job with the professionalism and efficiency that Ryton residents have come to expect during my administration. I'm talking about Bernard Worthington, of course. I would like to go on record now as recommending him for the position based on his experience, education, and knowledge--three attributes that I place above all else."
      Smith rolled his eyes at that statement. Bernard tried not to smile. He glanced away for a moment and realized someone was still standing in the hall. He couldn't see who. He focused his attention back on the mayor who, after asking if there was any need for discussion and finding that there wasn't, was now calling his recommendation to a vote.
      "All in favor of Bernard Worthington being hired for the position of Head Librarian of the Ryton Memorial Library say 'Aye' and be counted," Brunson said, being unnecessarily formal and long-winded for Bernard's taste.
      A chorus of aye’s.
      “All opposed, say 'Nay' and be counted." The mayor barely paused. "The 'ayes' have--"
      "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I think I should really save some of your time--just in case, it is valuable in some form," a woman's voice cut in, startling the entire council.
      The woman that Bernard had glimpsed in the hall now stood in the back of the auditorium. With a sinking feeling, Bernard recognized her.
      Evelyn Ryton smiled and firmly said, "As a direct descendent of Eliah Ryton, I claim the job of Head Librarian of the Ryton Memorial Library. I believe I should join you now."
      The mayor shut the recorder off.

End excerpt. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. No copying or downloading without express written permission.
 

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Play photos, review

      Here are some photos of the play's set and one of my lovely cast. Then you can read the review from the local newspaper. The play closed today after a good run.









(From the Ada Evening News, May 20, 2007)

By Pru Simmons
Guest writer

The opening night crowd at ACT II’s production of "Daddy’s Dyin' Who's Got The Will?" was treated to a funny and moving experience. The play is another jewel in this unusually strong theater season.

There were several standout performances in this uniformly good cast.

Nancy Cheper, who plays the feisty and funny Mama Wheelis, was a joy all the way through the play. While Mama Wheelis isn't as nuanced as the character she played in "The Vigil," she still manages to let us feel the soul of this woman who has out-lived her daughter and now must contend with her headstrong grandchildren.

Kyra Childers, who plays the big-haired and big-hearted Sara Lee, steals the show with her sharp retorts and facial expressions. Childers has a scene with her on-stage father that illustrates her impressive acting skills. If you have any empathy at all, it will bring tears to your eyes.

Mama Wheelis and Sara Lee have their hands full with wild child Evalita Turnover, portrayed by Melissa Wall. This is Wall's second role with ACT II, and I hope it's the beginning of a long career on the Norris Center's stage. Wall deftly shows us Evalita's zest for life, her pitiful vulnerability and her selfish immaturity.

Both Marlene (Penny Johnson) and Lurlene (Abbey Black) do excellent jobs, rounding out the female members of this Texan dysfunctional family. The audience will root for Marlene as she tries to find a way out of her unhappy situation. I greatly admire Johnson's ability to handle a difficult role. And Black shows us a religious woman who is both strong and capable, using her faith as a pillar of her life.

The men in the cast mostly circle in the orbits of the women, but Chuck Perry's "Buford" was charming and touching. You could see the man he was before the stroke and sense his struggle to maintain his dignity. TL Cox as Harmony Rhodes and Sterling Jacobs as Orville Turnover complete this talented cast. Cox and Jacobs give solid performances, but the play is carried by those crazy, unbridled Turnover girls.

The stage is superbly decorated, and the technical aspects of the play are competently handled. Director Stephen Bagley has done an excellent job with this play and should add it to his list of first-rate productions.

I strongly urge you to make time to enjoy this production. It runs through Sunday at the Norris Center.


      And that concludes that production. Talk to you tomorrow.

Sunday closing

      This is your last day to enter the May 2007 Giveaway! Enter here to win. This is also the last day of the play I've been directing. By seven tonight, I will be home, and the play will be closed.
      It's been a good run. Audiences weren't as large as I had hoped, but they were still good for a spring production in this town. The cast did very well with only a few mishaps and dropped lines, all unknown to the audience because they covered so well.
      So what's up next for me?
      I will be working on Darkness, Oklahoma, doing two family newsletters, preparing Murder by Dewey Decimal for publishing, working on a photo calendar and working on getting my diabetes under control.
      I've not done so well on the diabetes this past couple of days. I've been getting readings of 142-146. Of course, I've eaten things I shouldn't, like at the cast party last night, but I thought I was being careful and eating sparingly. A bit discouraging. I'll be walking the straight and narrow this week. I hope that will bring it down. My goal is to have it below 100, a good normal reading.
      It's sort of weird to think that I will be home tomorrow night. Not running down to the theater or having to work on something related to it. I'm sad that I'll not be working with these people or seeing them daily, but it will be cool to have time to myself again.
      I've got some things to do here, but I'll be back this evening with photos of the set and the cast and a couple excerpts from Murder by Dewey Decimal. Talk to you then.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another opening of another show

      The play was great. The audience was small, but they were treated to a fine performance and they laughed, cried and applauded in all the right places. I'm very proud of the cast.
      I started testing my blood sugar two times a day yesterday. So far, so good. Yesterday, my fasting result was 101, and my result two hours after a meal was 102. Today, my fasting result was 115, a bit high, but we had a cast feast last night and I ate several things I shouldn't have. Today I'm back on the straight and narrow.
      Here's a photo of my lovely cast on the set. I'll try to take a photo of the complete set tonight so you can see how it turned out. Four more performances, and if they do the rest of them like they did last night's performance, it's going to be a great run.



      And now I'm running late and have to get to work so I'll close. Y'all have a great day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

That's entertertainment!

      Here I am again at the theater. It's Tuesday night. The last night of rehearsal. The cast is performing like clockwork. I feel both proud and sad. My little actors are all grown up ... sigh. No, seriously, they're kickin’ tonight. Go actors go!
      I had my first diabetes class today. The instructor was good, I didn't fall asleep, I learned useful information, and I received free diabetes material and supplies. Woohoo! That's a great blessing for someone like me who doesn't have insurance. I realize such gifts probably won't continue, but they sure help now.
      I tried to get this computer down here to recognize my flashdrive so I could work on Murder by Dewey Decimal, but no go. It may be too old. What a bummer. I like to use "idle" time productively. What I really like to do is take a nap, but it's unlikely I'd wake up in time to cue the lights and sounds.
      I’m still adapting to this diabetes stuff. I forgot my snack tonight. It won't hurt much, but forgetting shows I have a way to go in adopting healthy habits.
      I used Cafepress.com to make t-shirts for this play. They arrived and look good. I was pleased at their quality and will use them again. I think I'm going to use Cafepress to publish Murder by Dewey Decimal. Their procedure seems simpler and less expensive than Lulu.com, particularly since I'm not attempting a huge printing run of the book. People who want to purchase it will be able to do, and I'll still have control of the rights should I want to do anything with it in the future. For that matter, I could always publish with Lulu.com later if the book warrants it. I'm going to make a calendar of some of my best photos and offer it for sale on my Cafepress store. At least that's my plan. We'll see how it goes.
      I've already made one calendar with Cafepress. (It's being used onstage in this play's set, by the way.) The quality was good, but the photos weren't my best. I'm going to remake it and see what I can come up with. Then I'll offer it for sale to the general public. Maybe it would make a good Christmas gift.
      And naturally I'm ready to work on Darkness, Oklahoma. I've been jotting down various ideas for scenes over the past few weeks. I think I'll be able to put some significant wordage on it. I'm looking forward to diving back into it. It seems like forever since I've got to spend an uninterrupted hour on my creative projects. But come Sunday, I have my life back.
      It's not that I regret the time I've spent on this play. I've greatly enjoyed the cast and interacting with them. My friendships with most of them have deepened. But I'm ready to be lost in a few of my personal worlds for a while.
      Have I mentioned it's kind of creepy to be in this booth by myself? This building is old and has a lot of strange sounds in it. Sometimes it sounds like there's someone walking behind me. Several people claim that the theater is haunted. I've not seen any proof of that, not that I expect any. I don't believe in ghosts or haunts or leftover psychic energy or anything else that people use to justify their over-active imaginations. However ... this is one creepy building. If any place could be haunted, this place would be perfect.
      I'm not as tired tonight so I hope to post this when I get home. If I'm lucky and the rehearsal goes as expected, I should be home about ten or so. I'll be off tomorrow afternoon working on things for the opening and trying to catch up on a few things. Like paying bills, folding laundry, picking up the program from the printer, preparing the food for the cast opening night feast, etc. I need to make a list and figure out what absolutely has to be done before opening night and do those things first. Then I'll do what I can of what remains. Sigh. I need to be twins. Of course, then I'd just take on twice as much and still be as rushed.
      Trixie and ER are both moving. I think both of their relocations are exciting. Scary, too. It’s always hard to start somewhere new, but I’ve got faith in both of them.
      Michelle needs our prayers. She finally received a diagnosis. She has a serious disease and is approaching it with her usual courage and humor. Keep her in your thoughts, and nag the Big Guy about it.
      Joel bought a new car. I’m jealous. We won’t talk about that.
      Lynn Viehl has a new book (Dark Need) that has climbed onto the New York Times best selling list. How's that for cool? Purchase it here.
      Holly Lisle has several great writing books out. If you’re thinking about getting serious in your writing, buy them here. They all available as e-books and some of them are available as print books. Well worth your time and money.
      Frenzied Feline is walking and talking. Her son needs our thoughts and prayers, too.
      Nightrider shares some Holiday Snapshots. I particularly like the one about the "tiny fireball." Reminds me of Mikey.
      A blog that I enjoy reading is Okiedoke. I stop by there often. OD always has something interesting to say about events in Oklahoma.
      Jean can't talk because she's buried in paperwork!
      And Rain is ... ah ... well ... celebrating something this month. I'm blushing myself.
      Just wanted ya to know that I'm still reading you even when I don't have time to comment.
      Time for Act 2. They're doing very well. Only a handful of dropped lines. It's going to be a good show.
      Did you enter the May 2007 Giveaway yet? I’ll announce the winner May 21. The winner will receive: Passion, a small book of my poems; the script for Del Shores' "Daddy's Dyin' Who's Got The Will?"; and a CD containing over 250 (but not much over) of my humor columns published in various newspapers and newsletters over the years.
      Wow. This post is long. Ordinarily only the excerpt posts reach this length. Of course, they're usually longer. Are you still with me?
      Well, I'm going to close now. They're on Act 2, Scene 2. They only have one scene to go. I think me getting home before ten looks good. You have a great night and a great day tomorrow, and I'll talk to you later.

Give my regards to Monday night

      It’s another night at the theater. Once again, I'm in the tech booth of the theater, watching my actors from up high. They look like ants from here ... Well, not really, although some of the cast members are dressed up like my Aunt Dorlena. At least the men are.
      Let's see. What's the week been like so far? Sunday was nice if a little depressing. I got some housework and some filing. I also finished the program for the play and got it ready to go to the printer.
      Today was busy at work to the point I thought my head was going to blow off. Not much fun. A lot of customers. None were particularly bad, but a lot of them had requests and wanted things done. Made for hectic day. I had to work overtime, and I don't get paid for that.
      Tomorrow afternoon I go to my first diabetes education class. I’m hoping it won't be a waste of time. I have a low boredom threshold, which has been well documented here. I'd like to receive good, useful information that will help me control this diabetes completely. Or as completely as I can.
      So far, the cast is doing real well. I hope it continues. A good practice will increase their confidence, and that will go a long way to smooth out the rough spots.
      I thought I could work on the edit of Murder by Dewey Decimal down here, but this computer won't read my flashdrive. Sorry, Frenzied, but there will be another excerpt/snippet Friday if not sooner. I hope. (Chapters 1 and 4 can be found in their entirety here. I hope to get Chapters 2 & 3 up there next week.)
      I'm very tired tonight. I could easily go asleep in this chair. I haven't slept well the past couple of nights. Too much activity during the day. Hard to shut my brain off when I lie down at night.
*
      It's Tuesday morning. I'm still tired. Wish I could crawl back into bed and sleep for another hour or two. But I have to go to work. That's my life. Sigh. Oh well. Could easily be worse. So no whining. Have a great day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

There's no business like show business ...

      I’m actually down at the theater at the moment. We’re in our first dress rehearsal. I’m running the lights and the sound, but for most of the play, I’m just up here watching and willing positive energy to the actors. Yes, it probably doesn’t help, but it’s no different from cheering for a football team on TV. They can’t hear you, but it makes you feel like your part of their accomplishment. A friend of mine likened a director’s job to that of a coach, and they are similar. Except when the play starts, I can’t make changes or give directions. It’s strictly in the actors’ hands.
      Anyway, they’re in Act 1, Scene 1. I have nothing to do until the end of the scene when I’ll blackout the lights. Then at the start of Scene 2, I’ll bring up the lights and set off the telephone sound effect. A couple of minutes and then a car horn, then nothing else until the end of the scene. I wish I could have found someone else to run the lights and sound. It would be nice to be in the audience and “cue” them with laughter and applause. It often helps to have someone do that. Helps break the ice during performances.
      They’re doing very well tonight. Making me proud.
      I’m not online down here. We have an old computer that we use to run the sound effects. It has an old version of Word on it, and I’m saving the file on a floppy to take home and post later.
      It was long day today. I’m tired. We met down at the theater and cleaned it this morning. Only a few people showed up, but we did a good job. Afterwards, my roomie and I hit Wal-Mart. Then I came home and attempted to impose some sort of order on my house. It doesn’t look like I worked on it, but I did. Another couple of hours and I think I’d have it licked. I hope I can find another couple of hours tomorrow. We’re not practicing then due to Mother’s Day.
      I hope you’re going to call your mom or spend some time with her tomorrow. I wish I could spend some time with mine. My mother was a wonderful person, and I still miss her. I got my humor, my love of the theater and my zest for life from her. I was blessed beyond words.
      Of course, I realize some people don’t have a good relationship with their mom. Some women aren’t good mothers, and that’s sad for all concerned. It leaves a hole in a child’s life that nothing else can fill. God keep you if that’s what’s happened to you.
      The actors hit a rough patch, but they’re making their way through it. They have to think on their feet if another actor drops a line. The audience doesn’t know the difference as long as the actors don’t let the audience know.
      We had to stop and restart the scene from the beginning. But that’s what rehearsal is for. To work out problems. I wish we had another week of rehearsal before we open. The actors would feel more confidence. They have the play down, but another week would let them know that they did. We open Wednesday and close Sunday.
      I was reading on the Net about other community theaters and discovered quite a few larger ones actually run two or three weeks in their productions. I can’t imagine ever doing that with a cast here, but it would be cool to do sometime.
      Still, it will be nice to get my life back. I’m feeling stretched these days. I’d like to get caught up on my projects, finish a few of them -– particularly Murder by Dewey Decimal so that Frenzied Feline can relax -– and hey, go on a few dates. I used to have a personal life, you know.
***
      I'm home now. It's late, nearly midnight. Some of us went to Chili's to eat and talk. I'm tired so I'll close. Take care and have a good tomorrow.
      

Friday, May 11, 2007

Oh what a beautiful morning ... & Snippet

      And it truly is. The world is green, the sun is shining (briefly -- the prediction is for more rain this afternoon) and I woke up feeling somewhat more normal. It probably won't last, but it's nice while it's here.
      Before I forget, did you enter the May 2007 Giveaway yet? Win free stuff by entering the drawing by answering one question about Murder by Dewey Decimal, the novel I'm excerpting here. Read the complete rules on the Giveaway post and enter, why don't ya.
      Now, Holly Lisle started a Friday Snippet For Everyone group in which participants post an excerpt (snippet) of a work in progress. Thus far I have been unable to get the code to work. I need to find some participant who has Blogger with a Classic Template and see how they implement the code. Anyway, here is my Friday Snippet. Naturally it's from Murder by Dewey Decimal. Stop gritting your teeth, Randall; it's not a long one. EDITED TO ADD: I have to code working now, I think. Be sure to visit the other snippets. They're quite good.

Excerpt 4.4 from Murder by Dewey Decimal
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.


Chapter 4.4

      "I do not think I can help you, Chief Donaldson," Evelyn Ryton said as she glanced around the lobby of the Eagle Inn. "My sister and I haven't spoken in years. I have no idea who could hate her enough to kill her, but, knowing Agatha, I imagine your list of suspects is rather large -- quite possibly the entire city of Ryton." The morning sun, beaming through the tall windows, glared off her red pantsuit and red shoes. Her hair was pulled back by a red barrette.
      The chief had always believed that environment played the largest factor in determining the personality of a human being. Now, having spent a few minutes questioning Evelyn and comparing her with Agatha, he was beginning to think there really could be a genetic factor for meanness. Of course, they did come from the same environment, he thought.
      "Do you have any idea what could have been in that safe?" he asked, squinting somewhat and wondering if she always dressed in one color.
      "As I've already mentioned--repeatedly if you paid attention--Agatha and I were not in communication. So I have no way of knowing what she kept in there." She settled back. "When we were children, it contained our great, great uncle's Civil War journal and a few other war souvenirs that Grandfather considered priceless. I wonder whatever became of them."
      "I think they're in a display in the library," the chief said. "On the second floor."
      Evelyn seemed amused. "Grandfather would have liked that. I imagine that's why Agatha put them there. She spent a lot of time attempting to win his favor. Even after he was dead, she couldn't break the habit."
      "If you don't mind me asking--"
      "Would it matter if I did?" she cut in.
      "No." The chief was developing a real dislike for the woman. "As I was saying, why didn't you and Agatha get along?"
      "Surely you're heard the story," Evelyn said with a sly twist to her voice. "About how the evil sister Evelyn stole the shining, pure husband from the good sister Agatha and about how the husband went off a cliff in a fast car." Suddenly she looked tired. "It was a long time ago."
      The chief waited.
      "It was a long time ago," she repeated. "Is it important now?"
      "Could be."
      She looked at his face and then down at her hands. "There's not much to tell. Agatha married Kenneth Storer. They were both too young. He fell in love with me, and we decided to run away together. On his way to pick me up, he lost control of his car, and it went off Watts Ridge. Agatha never forgave me." She paused. "I left Ryton soon after."
      The chief nodded. "Sometimes it's best to leave places that have painful memories."
      "Oh, that wasn't why I left," she said. "Grandfather gave me no choice, thanks to dear Agatha. His house--the library now--was broken into the day after Kenneth died, and Mother's jewelry was taken. Agatha convinced Grandfather that I was the thief. He told me to leave town, or he would have me arrested. I went to stay with an aunt. I never saw him again." She paused and then made an impatient gesture. "How could this possibly be important?"
      "Maybe it isn't. I have to check everything I can." The chief shifted in his chair so that he could see without the sun in his eyes. "Can you tell me where you were the night Agatha was killed?"
      "I believe I was home. Alone. Watching TV." She smiled. "I don't know if I could prove it, however. Will I have to?"
      "I'm not accusing you of anything," the chief said. "I'm trying to solve her murder."
      "She'd like it if I went to jail for her murder," Evelyn mused. "You know, she always blamed me for everything, her bad marriage, the theft. I believe she always thought that if she could blacken me enough, Grandfather would love her. What she couldn't understand--what took me years to understand--was that the old man couldn't love anyone. I think our mother's death killed it in him." She shook her head. "I have always wondered why he didn't send us to the orphanage."
      "Perhaps he actually cared about you," the chief suggested. "Some people have a hard time in showing their feelings."
      "If you had known him, you would realize what a completely asinine statement that was," she said. "I think he simply couldn't bear to see anything that belonged to him escape. Agatha was a lot like him. It about killed her when he left the house to the city. Even worse was losing all that money. I wasn't surprised she became librarian; it was the closest she could get to the fortune."
      "She seemed to have quite a bit of money herself," the chief said. "A millionaire several times over."
      "Yes, that surprised me when Hastings told me this morning," she said. "I think he's hoping that I'll contest the will so that he can prove what a very good attorney he is. He and I grew up together. Do you know he never married? I don't think he will ever find anyone who loves him as much he does."
      The chief couldn't keep from smiling. "You know him all right. Are you going to contest the will?"
      "No, I'm sure it would be a waste of time and money; narcissistic as he may be, Hastings knows what he's doing." She shrugged. "Let her buy her memorial. It's the only way she'll ever get one." She paused, the hard lines of her face softening. "I shouldn't say that. She's dead now, and she was my sister. I wish I had known about all this sooner. I only learned of her death because a friend of mine in Oklahoma City read about it in the paper and called me. I would have liked to have attended her funeral. Did you go?"
      The chief nodded.
      "Was it a nice service?" Evelyn asked, looking old. "I did take some flowers out to the grave. She's buried next to Mother."
      "It was a nice service," the chief said, gently.
      "Well, good. I'm glad for that." Evelyn checked her watch. "Will you need me much longer? I have an appointment with Hastings at eleven. He's going to give me the brooch. I've decided to keep it."
      The chief rose to go. "One more question and then I won't take up any more of your time: Do you have any idea where her money came from?"
      "I have no idea. She certainly didn't inherit it. Grandfather left us nothing. You might ask Rich. He told me that he had kept in touch with her somewhat over the years." She sighed. "Good old Richard. If he had been a little more exciting, perhaps none of this would have happened."
      Looking at the chief's puzzled face, she barked a short laugh. "I thought you knew. Admittedly, it is ancient history, but I expected you to be familiar with the whole sordid story. I thought the police dug into all sorts of things."
      The chief gave her a hard questioning look.
      "If Richard had been a little more exciting," she said, over-emphasizing each word, "I might have never left him."
      "You were..." The chief was taken aback.
      "Yes, I was married to Richard." She smiled bitterly. "Are you surprised? It was practically a farce. While Kenneth was cheating on my sister Agatha with me, I was cheating on his brother--my husband, good old Richard Storer--with him. You should have seen it. Everyone sneaking around and trying to hide from everyone else. It must have been very funny."
      The chief thought about what it had cost the people involved and said, "No, I think it must have been very sad."
      The smile faded from her face. The chief rose and excused himself.

End excerpt. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. No copying or downloading without express written permission.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm just a mood swingin'

      Last night I wanted to run on stage, grab an actor and slap him/her silly. I was in the light booth upstairs at the theater, and I was shaking with anger. In case you haven't guessed by now, that's not me.
      Five minutes later, I was horribly depressed, convinced that the play was a terrible failure caused mostly by my inept direction and general all-around yuckiness.
      And then I realized I was a fantastic human being with great talent, and the only reason that the play wouldn't be a success was that one actor that I needed to slap ...
      Whoa, roller coaster of emotions. And that's not me. I pretty much operate at a level plane. I'm not fantastically happy, but I'm not horribly depressed. Moderation, you know, as Paul said. It's how I'm made and what I'm used to. I spend my emotional energy on my writing and plays, not on drama in my life.
      This has been going on since the doctor started me on the diabetes meds and diet, and naturally it concerns me. I called him this morning, and after talking my way through the receptionist, a nurse and his physician's assistant, finally got to speak to him. I said, "I've become a very, very moody person. We're talking mood swings that span continents. One moment I'm flying and the next I'm diving. Happy, sad, lonely, angry, all in five minutes."
      And he said, "I'm sorry to have to tell you that you're becoming a woman." Then he laughed until he realized I wasn't laughing. (I was trying to figure out how to reach through the phone and choke him until his neck bones cracked.)
      "Just a little joke," he said. In his best doctor voice, he explained that almost all diabetes go through an "adjustment" period as their body "adapts" to the meds. And almost all diabetes experience mood swings and emotional distrubances. "It's nothing to worry about," he said. "After two or three months, you'll settle down. If not, we'll need to look at it, but right now, I don't think it's anything to worry about."
      "Ooookay, if you think it's normal," I said. "Well, thanks for talking to me." I hung up and turned to the hostages. "The doctor says it's just an adjustment period I'm going through." They looked at me with their fearful eyes. They were so cute as they huddled on the floor. Like little bunnies.
      I hate bunnies.
*
      Okay, yeah, I'm experiencing mood swings. And yeah, my doctor says it's normal during this adjustment period. But man, it's weird. I'm not used this. I find it exhausting. And irritating. And kind of funny, too. Yeah, I'm a mess. But I figure if I hang on, things will level out.
      If not, pray for the people around me. They're going to need it. Every last stinkin' one of them.
*
      Did you enter the May 2007 Giveaway yet? We have eight entries as of this writing. I'm hoping for more. The point of the Giveaways -- besides giving stuff to my wonderful, loyal readers -- is to attract new readers to the blog, to build up a base of readers to purchase my books and plays (when they get published). I've decided to hold the Giveaways through July, and then I'll evaluate how they're working.
*
      I have to go to work now. Have a good day. Or else ...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May 2007 Giveaway

      Rain, rain, rain. We haven't had a day without rain for over a week now. That's okay. We need the moisture, but frankly, I could do with a couple of days of sunshine in here. Just as long as the rain come back, of course. We're suffered through a drought the last few years so the rain is welcome. It would just be nice if it was spread out a bit.
      Enough of the weather report! It's time for the May 2007 Giveaway! What are our prizes this month, Johnny? Our lucky winner will receive: a copy of the play "Daddy's Dyin' Who's Got The Will?" (the play I'm directing now) and "Passion," a small chapbook of some of my poems. But WAIT, there's more! I will also send you a CD containing over 250 of my humor columns published by various newspapers and newsletters!
      How do you win this amazing giveaway?
      In comments, answer one of the following questions about Murder by Dewey Decimal, the novel I'm excerpting on this blog. You cannot answer a question that someone else already has, and you can only enter once. I'll draw one winner from the corrent entries. If we get close to twenty entries, I'll add more questions. This Giveaway is open to everyone even if you've won a Giveaway before.

1. What is the name of the father of Bernard's former girlfriend?
2. Who wrote the book that Bernard went to the library to check out?
3. What is the full name of the person found murdered in the library?
4. Who was Agatha's brother-in-law?
5. What did Agatha's will leave her sister?
6. What newspaper does Lisa want to work for?
7. What is the name of the chief?
8. What is the name of the chief's assistant?
9. What is the name of the wife of the chief?
10. Who built the library?
11. What was in Lisa's purse that she wanted back?
12. What was the word processing program that I originally used to write the book?
13. What is the name of the library aide?
14. Leonard Brewer was killed where?
15. What was Bernard's hometown?
16. Where did Lisa's mother work?
17. Lisa's cat is named what?
18. What did the county coroner think was the weapon used to kill Agatha?
19. What color is Lisa's cat?
20. What unexplained letter is on the spine of the library books?

      Now, remember, you can only answer one question and you can't answer a question that another commenter already has. The contest will run through May 20, 2007. I'll announce the winner May 21.
      Have fun!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Worn out & an excerpt!

      I'm beat. Tired to the bone, but I got a lot done this weekend. I'm not back to my old energy level, but at least I didn't spend the whole weekend asleep. I did laundry, housework (even dusted!), lawn work, two play rehearsals, one community theater board meeting, filing, wrote and printed patron letters for the ticket mail-out, printed labels for patron drive, etc. I didn't get done all that I wanted, but I'm not sure if I could have completed my list even if I wasn't dealing with all these health issues. So I feel tired, but pleased.
      The play is going well. The actors are growing into their parts. This week I will try to help them polish their characters as well as add some bits of physical action. I wish we had two more weeks of rehearsal, but we open May 16, and that's that.
      I used CafePress.com to make a T-shirt for the play. Most of the cast ordered one. I hope they get here before the play. Every bit of advertising helps. Although I really thought they would make good souvenirs more than anything else. Next up, I need to write the publicity story for the local paper and take a publicity photo of the cast. And send out a newsbrief to the radio stations and the cable local access channel. And design and get printed the program. And collect the sound effects and get them onto the computer. All of this has to take place this week.
      Next Tuesday (May 15) I attend my first diabetes management class at the local hospital. I'm hoping to learn a lot there. I'm still groping in the dark on this. I'd like to feel more confident in my food choices and my diet. I'm determined to get this under control.
      I'm going to go to bed now. Have a great day tomorrow. And although I said I wouldn't, it's my blog and I'm going to post an excerpt here anyway! Try to endure it gracefully. In this excerpt, Bernard drops by the library at night; he soon discovers it's not one of his better survival decisions. Pleasant dreams.

Excerpt 4.3 from Murder by Dewey Decimal
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.


      "You don't have to rush off so early," Dolores Wyatt said.
      "I'm really tired, and I have a lot to do at the library," Bernard said, rising from a chair in the Wyatt's living room.
      "I guess being the Head Librarian is keeping you busy, especially since Agatha hadn't been doing her job very well," Michael Wyatt said as he put his arm around his wife.
      Sherry was sitting on the floor near her mother and father and smiled up at Bernard. "Mom would probably let you have more of that cake if you asked her nicely."
      "Tempting offer, but I've got to go," Bernard said. "Thank you for the meal. It was delicious."
      "You're always welcome, Bernard," Dolores said. She rose and headed for the kitchen. "Mike, if you would help me, I think we could get most of the clean-up done tonight, and I wouldn't have to worry about it tomorrow."
      Michael rose with alacrity. "Be right with you, dear." He shook Bernard's hand. "It's been good seeing you again, Bernard. Don't be a stranger." He promptly followed his wife into the kitchen and closed the door behind him.
      "Obvious exit, if I've ever see one," Sherry said, smiling.
      Bernard laughed. Slowly the smile left her face. "You know, Daddy was very upset with me when we broke up. Of all my boyfriends, he liked you the best. He thinks I made a mistake."
      Taken aback, Bernard couldn't think anything to say.
      She looked up at him. "Why don't you stay and talk for a while?"
      Bernard sat back down, and they talked for a hour or so more. Or actually he listened as she told him in exhaustive detail about a clerk in some store who had attempted to convince her that burnt orange was really her color. While she talked, Bernard watched the lights glisten off her auburn hair. He studied the shape of her face as if he was seeing her for the first time. Her perfect blue eyes, the expressions she made as she imitated the clerk, her quick gestures, once he had been content with simply being with her. To his surprise, he found himself stifling a yawn.
      Finally, he stood. "I've simply got to go and get some sleep. I can barely keep my eyes open."
      "I had no idea I was that boring," Sherry said with mock dismay.
      "You know that's not it," he said, wondering if it was. "I've not been getting enough sleep lately with all this stuff going on."
      "You shouldn't worry so much," she said as she walked him to the door and then paused at the threshold.
      "You're right. Thank your parents again for me, and thank you for inviting me," he said. He was outside and at his car before he realized she had been waiting for him to kiss her good night. The door was already closed. Stupid, I missed a chance, he thought, but for some reason, he couldn't really get worked up about it. Too tired, he decided.
      Bernard drove home, his mind drawn back to Lisa's and his conversation early in the day. What did she expect me to say? he wondered. I don't know how I feel about her. I like her, but I don't want her making decisions about her life based on our relationship -- whatever it might be. Things go wrong all the time. Look at Sherry and me. And after what Sherry had done to him, he didn't think he would be ready for a deep relationship for some time -- supposing, of course, he and Sherry were finished.
      A few days ago, he had no doubts that their relationship was over; now, he wasn't sure. Since that day in the library, he had eaten dinner with her family twice counting tonight, and she had called at least once every day. He couldn't decide if Sherry was attempting to start over or was just trying to be friendly. After all, she might have hesitated at the door because she was trying to avoid kissing him, not because she wanted him to. He wasn't sure how to interpret her actions anymore.
      And he didn't understand his either. Barely a week ago he would have given anything to have Sherry back, and now he wasn't sure how he felt about her. Can a person change that much in a week? he wondered. And where does Lisa fit into my life? Is she a friend or something more?
      It occurred to him that he had not mentioned the meals or the calls to Lisa. And why should I? he asked himself. It's not like I'm two-timing anyone. But it still bothered him that he hadn't.
      As he passed the library, he turned in on an impulse. I've been wanting to read that new Carolyn Hart book, and maybe it will get my mind off all this.
      He walked to the doors, unlocked them and entered, still wrestling with Lisa and what she represented. He flipped on the lights and walked back to the shelves. He found the book quickly and noticed a small 'a' adorned its spine. Millie and the other library aides had no idea what the 'a' meant. He would have dismissed it as simply an outdated classification except it appeared on the most recent books also, apparently inked in by Agatha herself.
      He checked the book out and flipped the lights off. He stopped dead. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a thin strip of light from beneath the door to Agatha's office. He caught his breath. Was someone -- the murderer -- in there? Could the police have left the light on? Yesterday morning, Sims had told him that the office could be cleaned and used again, but Bernard hadn't got around to telling the new janitor yet. The yellow police banner still hung across the door, not that it would keep people from simply going underneath it if they wanted in the office.
      Bernard listened intently. Suddenly the air conditioner clicked on, its humming sounding like a tornado to Bernard's over-sensitive hearing. He started, nearly dropping his book. He swallowed. Should he call the police? He'd feel ridiculous if no one was in the office. Still, wouldn't it be better to be ridiculous than dead? He gave himself a mental shake. He was letting the events of the past few days make him paranoid. He flipped the library lights back on and walked over to the office door. He pulled the police banner down and turned the doorknob. The light in the office went out!
      Bernard stumbled back, panicked. Someone was in the office!
      Backing into the circulation desk, Bernard suddenly realized he was a perfect target. He scrambled over the counter, his feet knocking pencils and papers everywhere. The phone crashed to the floor. He grabbed it and dialed 911.
      "Emergency services."
      "Get the police over to the library now!" Bernard said, whispering.
      "Sir, you'll have to speak up; I can barely --"
      "Get the police to the library now," Bernard said. "This is an emergency. Someone has broke in. I think it may be the murderer!"
      "Sir, just stay calm. Your call is being relayed. Who is this?"
      "Bernard Worthington. Please send the police."
      "Help is on the way. Are you in any danger now?"
      "I don't know."
      "Can you leave the building safely?"
      "I don't know. I'd have to go past whoever is in there," Bernard said.
      "Don't chance it. Stay put. Help is on the way. Do you know if the intruder is armed?"
      "No."
      The dispatcher continued to talk to him, but Bernard was no longer listening. He thought he heard someone move in the office. Cautiously, he peered around the corner of the counter.
      He couldn't see anyone, but the office door was slowly opening!
      He pulled back.
      "Sir, are you there? Sir --"
      "I'm here," he whispered. "Where are the police?"
      "They're on their way. Where are you at in the library?"
      "I'm behind the circulation desk. In the lobby." And he was still there when Sims and another officer, guns in their hands, entered the library.
      "Bernard," Sims called softly.
      "I'm here," Bernard said.
      "Has he left the office?" Sims asked.
      "No." Bernard said.
      "Okay, you stay there and keep your head down."
      I think he's enjoying this, Bernard thought. He carefully glanced around the corner of the desk and watched as Sims and the officer slid along the wall to Agatha's office.
      "This is the police," Sims said. "Come out with your hands up."
      Silence.
      Two more officers came in and took up positions around the lobby.
      Sims slowly reached around the doorway and turned on the lights in the office. He jerked his hand back. Nothing happened.
      "I'm going in," Sims told the officer. He crept around the doorway, crouched over. Absurdly Bernard thought about the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He waited for a shot or a shout or some noise, feeling the tension in his shoulders.
      Sims came out of the office. He looked both disgusted and relieved. "There's no one here. Bernard, are you sure no one came out?"
      "Yes, he would have had to come right past me." Bernard got up, went over to the office and looked inside. It looked the same as when he last saw it: trashed. "Did you check behind the desk?"
      "Yes," Sims said curtly and turned to the other officers. "Why don't you guys look around outside and then go call in."
      The officers holstered their guns and left.
      "The windows?" Bernard asked with a sinking feeling.
      "Both locked."
      "Someone had to be in here because the lights went out when I touched the door," Bernard said.
      "Maybe it has a short." Sims flipped the light switch up, the lights went out, flipped it down, the lights came on. He repeated the action a few times. "Doesn't seem to be anything wrong."
      “But the door opened,” Bernard said.
      “You must have turned the knob,” Sims said. He looked at Bernard's stricken face and sighed. "Hey, don't take it so hard. You've been through a lot this week. It's no surprise you're a little edgy. Why don't you go home and get some sleep. You'll feel better in the morning."
      "I guess you're right. I'm sorry about this. It's just when the light went out, I thought ... well, never mind." The worst thing, Bernard thought, is that I won't die of shame.
      Sims helped him pick up the scattered papers and other items Bernard had knocked into the floor earlier.
      "I've got to get back on patrol," Sims said.
      "Why are you working tonight?" Bernard asked as he turned the library lights out. "I thought you were on day shift."
      "I am, but I'm covering for Philip Owens this week. He's on vacation. Nice guy but really crazy about deer hunting."
      Bernard locked the doors and walked to his car, only half-listening to Sims. He felt like a fool. And he knew that the story would be all over town tomorrow. With my luck, Lisa will sell it to the Dispatch. At least I won't be here much longer. He remembered the Carolyn Hart book. He had left it on the circulation desk. It's just as well, he thought. I don't think I feel like reading a thriller right now.
      Sims waved and drove off. Bernard paused at his car door and looked back at the Ryton Memorial Library. In the darkness, its turrets, tower and Gothic trimmings gave it an evil air that a haunted house would envy. Bernard couldn't suppress a shiver.
      He drove home, thinking of unsolved murders, undefined relationships and unexplained lights.
      In the dark and quiet library, the office door closed firmly.

End excerpt. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. No copying or downloading without express written permission.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A busy life

       I have so much to do and no time to do it and, what's worse, no inclination to do any of it. I'd like to sit in my backyard with a book and a large iced tea and read or watch the clouds or nap. How's that for ambition?
      What do I need to do? Well, clean my house. I need to fold and put away laundry. I need to dust. I need to vacuum. I need to sweep and mop my kitchen floor. I need to take a flamethrower to the stuff in my fridge where the cottage cheese not only shows signs of life but has enrolled in several summer courses at the local college. I also need to pay bills and catch up on my filing.
      Writing? Is that what you asked about? Well, I need to work on Darkness, Oklahoma. I need to finish editing Murder by Dewey Decimal and prepare it to be published. I need to do two family newsletters. I need to collect and edit all my humor pieces and prepare them to be published. Somewhere in there, I'd like to finish Dragons Gather and Red Hot Sinner Man. And write enough on Figments and Queen of the Summerset Ballroom to see if they're good plays or not.
      For the play I'm currently directing, I need to: prepare the program, write the publicity story, take the cast photo, print the patron labels and return labels, write the patron letter, get the air conditioner installed on the set, get the piano cleaned up and finish decorating the set. The theater lobby and auditorium need to be cleaned, too, but that's going to have to be a problem for someone else.
      What else? Well, I'd like to get some flowers planted and my lawn needs to be mowed and my car needs to be vacuumed and take a nap and walk in the park and learn to cook diabetic-approved meals and and and and ... Life sure is busy, isn't it?
      By the way, my friend Crystal is absolutely awesome! I've known this for years, but yesterday it was confirmed yet again. She mailed me two books to help me with diabetes, the first being a diabetic cookbook filled with easy and what look to be delicious recipes and the second a collection of tips for dealing with diabetes. Thank you, Crystal! I appreciate your support.
      I received my calendar today. Did I mention I used Lulu.com to create a calendar using my photos? I ordered one to see what it looked like. It's not bad, but I need to change a couple of photos that didn't reproduce as well as I had hoped. So it's still not ready to be sold to the public. I'll let you know when it is.
      Play rehearsal again tonight. We've got a couple of trouble spots in the second act that we're going to work on tonight. Overall, it's coming along nicely.
      Speaking of the theater, I need to get down there. Have a great evening!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My little hero

      Mikey in front of his papa's "big red truck."


 

Mikey and his papa

      Mikey and his papa returning home from church.


 

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Good Wednesday morn to ya!

      Well, it's official. The excerpts drive away most of this blog's audience. I guess I won't be able to post them here anymore. I will post them on the Murder by Dewey Decimal blog and announce it here, but no more excerpts on Harbor Street. Or at least I will rarely post them here.
      My site meter shows that when excerpts are posted, I have fewer visits and those that do visit stay for less time. Frankly, I'm surprised. I didn't think my life was that interesting compared to my fiction. Even my good friend Randall admitted that he wasn't interested in MBDD, and he usually reads everything I write.
      Oh well. That's what the MBDD blog is for. I have a special affection for Bernard, Lisa and the chief, and I'm sorry my readers don't share it. I think they're interesting people, and Ryton has at least as many dark secrets as Darkness does.
      Last night, I was actually not at play rehearsal. I had too many cast members who had other obligations so I canceled practice. Yes, I know they're only 14 days away from their opening, but when you only have three cast members out of eight, you really can't rehearse. I came home, did laundry, posted several times on the play blog and printed the tickets for the play. It was nice to watch TV and putter around the house.
      I talked to my sister last night. She had her first round of chemo Friday, and it made her really sick. She was doing a little better when we spoke and hoped that she'd be able to return to work today. Please continue to remember her in your prayers. She still has nearly 17 weeks of chemo left.
      I'm adapting slowly to the diabetes meds and diet. It's a huge change in my life, but I'm hoping that I will feel better and be healthier when this adaptation period is over. That's the plan, anyway. I'd sure like to have more energy. There are a thousand and one projects I'd like to spend some time and energy on.
      We're having a rainy April here. It's rained almost every day for the past week, and it looks like it's going to rain again today. We need the rain after the years of drought. The lakes and ponds are still not filled up. Everything is green and lovely. This weekend I hope I can get out with my camera and take some photos.
      Time to go to work. Talk to you later!