Monday, January 31, 2005


      A couple of people told me that yesterday's entry gave the impression that my back is hurting now. It isn't. It's better now. I hurt it in May. I was doing my back exercises yesterday and thought about posting about it. I do still carry my cane in my car, but it's just in case I need to park in the handicapped parking spaces. No, it's in case my back goes out. (The only car I've ever keyed in my life was one driven by a college student who I watched get out of his sports car and run into the post office. I've always felt bad about doing that ... mostly.)
      Not much went on today. Work and then writing (500 more words). I tell you that it's hard sometimes to come up with something to post. Well, not hard to find something, but finding something interesting, there's the rub. Truthfully a writer doesn't have much time to have adventures. I do the best I can, but I need some mysterious, beautiful wealthy woman to sweep me away on some exotic adventure that leads to true love -- or lots of money. I'm not particular. But instead I have to make do with my various small adventures. Tonight I'm tired for some reason so I'm going to close now. Night!
      Oh, thank you for all the nice comments on yesterday's entry. It makes me feel good to know my strange way of looking at the world is appreciated and even enjoyed. And hey, Susan2, good to see you!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Baby got back trouble

      Everyone has back troubles. If you don’t believe me, just quietly say, "My back is hurting me." Immediately a crowd will gather and fight among themselves to be the first to say, "Oh, that happened to me, but I was really in pain. I was totally incapable of movement, and a team of nurses had to feed me for four months using a block and tackle hoist, and a specialist was going to operate, but I went to a chiropractor who popped my back, and then I was as good as new, other than spells of blinding pain."
      Occasionally you will hear a variation in which the back troubles happened to their aunt or uncle who had a spinal operation and is now either in a vegetable state or died horribly on the table because the doctor got a phone call on his cell phone and didn't clamp off a major artery, and then of course they lost the body and had to bury an empty coffin, but that is another story.
      Don’t you just hate people like that who complain about their petty problems? I mean, you have a real back problem and they're basically talking about just a twinge, more like a hangnail, really nothing to complain about compared to, for instance, my back problems. 'Cause I had real back troubles. I'm talking about flat on my back, agony shooting throughout my whole body, arms and legs flailing like some sort of huge, whiny turtle.
      I hurt my back the first of May while rushing into the street to save an elderly lady who was about to be hit by a bus. When I picked her up, I felt something give in my spine. Luckily I made it to the curb just before my back gave out. The lady suffered a heart attack, but fortunately landed near me so that I was able to give her CPR until the ambulance arrived which was driven by a brand new EMT so I had to give him directions on how to get the hospital by the fastest route and thus saved her life twice. I am in her will now.
      Oh, all right, I hurt my back just by bending over to pick up my shoe. That's right. I bent over and heard something in my back go crack. Are you satisfied? Nothing exciting; just years of back neglect and lack of exercise. A joint in my back decided that it was tired of being overworked and went on strike.
      It wasn't much fun. That is an understatement along the lines of "Jerry Springer is a bit annoying."
      First was a week and half of bed rest, popping powerful pain pills like candy, and then some physical therapy (torture) and then some exercises (more torture but at least at home so that I could weep freely instead of pretending to be brave). Then a wheelchair, walker for a couple of weeks and finally a cane. Whee!
      I rushed past one of the hardest aspects of this: that week and half of bed rest. I take enforced rest somewhat badly. Of course, I am known for my cheerful, long-suffering disposition -- shut up -- and thus I endure pain stoically, particularly if you define stoic as loud complaining mixed with spats of irrational anger.
      People told me that a week of bed rest sounded wonderful, but they stopped saying that after I strangled a couple of them. Bed rest is good if you choose it instead of having it chosen for you. I was bored, bored, bored. I couldn't watch TV since I couldn't raise my head and had never had the foresight to install a television on my ceiling which, by the way, has 123,084 bumps on it.
      I read 10 books and twice that many magazines. I stopped when my eyes began to burn. I repeatedly called everyone I could think of until they began to avoid my calls. I had one wrong number beg me to hang up. I even talked to telemarketers just to have someone to talk to, and let me tell you, after you've talked to them for an hour and half and still don't buy anything, they get surly.
      Anyway, I got better. It was a big deal when I was able to tie my shoes and not faint. I'm continuing to lose weight, and I'm doing the stretching exercises for my back regularly. The next time back problems come up as a topic of conversation, it is my firm intention to have nothing to say.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Clouds again

Clouds again.
© 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Waking Up On Another Planet

I woke up on another planet today
and found myself believing strange new things:
Broken hearts can heal stronger than before,
We don't have to purchase wisdom with pain,
An open hand holds more than a closed fist,
We all bleed red whatever our color,
Only fools think violence will cause peace,
And we can learn to love ourselves at last.
Perhaps you think I do not understand
the gravity of our situation.
I know the list of disasters stretches
longer than Orion's arm. Nonetheless,
I woke on another planet today
and planted a bright flag and called it hope.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


      I've tried to live my life without jealousy. Another person's success doesn't diminish me. The only person I'm really in competition with is me. I strive to be genuinely happy when one of my friends makes it good.
      This is part of my moral code. And I do okay with it. It took practice, but now I don't see another person's success and immediately think That should have been me. This is harder for an aspiring writer than you might think. Oh, I'm okay with those excellent writers like Tad Williams, Sara Paretsky, Lois McMaster Bujold, Holly Lisle, Mercedes Lackey, Carolyn Hart, Stephen R. Donaldson, just to name a few. I read their books, and I think Okay, this is good writing. They deserve every bit of success they can get. No, I'm okay with them. It's those bad ones. It's the ones that I read that make me cringe at their ridiculous plots, terrible dialogue and endings so implausible that deux ex machina doesn't begin to cover it, and I see them on the bookshelves or even on the best-seller lists, and I wonder How did they do it? Who did they have blackmail information on? Those are hard to swallow.
      And I'm okay with people making more money than me. I have several friends who have great jobs. No, they actually have careers. And sometimes I feel a twinge when they talk about their new cars, their large homes, their fantastic vacations, but for the most part, I do okay. I love them, and I want them to be happy. If I could go back twenty years, I would choose something different than my useless degree and make some money. But I can't, and looking backward is not productive. I can only go on from here.
      I'm sharing all this because I'm struggling with a particular incident. As most of you know, I've had some financial difficulties over the past few years. My fault for the most part. I've only in the past year finally started to understand how to handle money. And you also know that recently I took out a loan to pay off some high interest credit card debt. The loan didn't help my monthly money crunch as basically I replaced four payments with one large payment, but it does mean that in five years, I should have that debt paid off, God willing. I'm okay with that. I put myself in this hole, and now I'm going to get myself out.
      So ... I have this friend. He's a good friend, but he's had money his whole life. And I mean significant money. His parents were well-off, and now he and his wife are well-off. He has a fantastic paying job as does his wife. He swims in stocks and bonds. Beautiful house, new cars, new boat, etc. And I'm okay with that. He has a different life than me. But the other day -- and I'm ashamed to admit this -- he started talking about going on an island vacation. This vacation will cost roughly $10,000, what with the plane trip, the rental car, the resort rooms, the fishing trip, the jet skis, the meals, the overnight winery side trip, the souvenirs, the photos, the clothes, etc. Oh, he didn't brag about the money, but I could add it up. And during the conversation, he mentioned that I and a girlfriend of mine should come along. Told me that it would only cost three or four thousand if we watched our budget.
      He was excited about the idea of us going along, and I know I should feel pleased that I have a friend that enjoys my company that much. But ... it also made me realize that he truly didn't understand my budget problems. He has had money so long and in such amounts that three or four thousand didn't seem like a lot of money to him. Well, it's a lot of money to me. A lot. Five thousand dollars would significantly reduce the time I'm going to spend paying off my debt. It's not hyperbole to say that an extra five thousand dollars would come close to changing my life. I swallowed my resentment, told him that maybe someday I'd do that and changed the subject.
      May I rant? I know it's wrong, okay. I know I should just be happy for the blessings in his life. He's my friend. But. BUT. When someone is walking in the desert, don't be telling him about your swimming pool. It's small of me to even think it, but give me a break. I can endure my reduced situation, I can survive, I can even flourish. And I do have so many blessings that many people in this world do not have: a warm house, food on my table, clothing and so on.
      So I know better, but I couldn't stop from myself from feeling angry, from feeling resentment, from wanting to cut him down to size. I'm ashamed to admit it, but there I was. It took me a few hours to get over it, but later that afternoon I called him and told him that I would print out some maps from the Internet where they were going so they'd know how to get around. He's computer illiterate and acted like I was doing something amazing. I also told him about a really good buy on a video camera I'd seen. I'm going to go Saturday and help him pick one out as he and his wife have wanted one for a while.
      I don't know what this makes me. A better person wouldn't have felt envy in the first place. Or maybe someone else would have taken it as a personal challenge and redid his or her life. I don't know. I'm just rowing my boat as fast as I can, bailing out the water as much as I can and looking to the misty horizon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

This and that and a few other things

      Other than getting my 500 words (actually 1,000 this evening) and working on my family newsletter, I spent the rest of the time updating the web page for the local community theater. I added a photo, cleaned up some links, fixed the scrollie, added a counter, and then played with various color schemes. I've decided that I will update the page only once a week, usually on Wednesday. That way I can train people to get their material to me -- always supposing they will ever submit any.
      On this blog, I added a few more blogs on my Blogs of Interest, including Event Horizon, Narcissusworks, Rantings and Ravings for Twilight (Hi, Jean!) and Smith & Stephenson. I particularly like Rantings and Ravings for Twilight and Narcissusworks. Check them out! (I used the linkdomain: command to discover who was linking to me. I didn't know these were. Imagine my delight to find them and also to find that they all featured good writing. Cool.)
      I finished one of my meds tonight and have just a few more days on the others. I'm feeling much better. My IBD doesn't like the meds, but I can deal with that.
      I appreciated the nice comments on my little poems of yesterday's entry. When I teach one of my poetry classes, I always assign three haiku. Students find them easy, and it makes poetry less intimidating. I love poetry, completely and foolishly, even though I know it will never make me much money. With one article to OKMagazine, I made more money than I've ever made in my poetry.
      This lack of financial rewards turns a lot of writers off poetry. In fact, I had once thought about teaching a poetry class at Forward Motion. Some people seemed interested until we started talking about the no pay part. A couple members gently explained that writers at FM wanted to make money. I certainly understand that, but I think poetry is a way of playing with language, of learning how to make every word count. It benefits everyone from novelists to journalists, even if it doesn't directly bring in the coins. I know I'm preaching to the choir. Most of my readers write and/or read poetry. Y'all are simply top notch, but some of you need to blog more. You know who you are ...
      And on that nagging note, I'll say good night.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cleaning house

      Been cleaning house. I guess you know what that means in terms of the book. Sigh. I got my 500 words, but I don't like them. They're okay, but they don't have the thrust that they need to have. And I had to drop the well scene for now. I haven't remembered what I intended. Yet.
      I hope everyone is doing okay. I'd like everyone to blog more, but I think I might have to just endure. That or find more blogs to read. No, y'all just blog more.
      A few changes to this blog that I haven't had a chance to mention. I added Holly's Silent Bounce to my blogs of interest, and below that, I added a new section of links that feature various cartoons I enjoy. I hope you will, too.
      My foot is doing much better. The week of bed rest -- however uncomfortable the illness made it -- helped it a lot. And I'm mostly over my illness, still taking my meds, but doing okay. Not quite healthy, but near enough to see daylight. And I appreciate feeling better. It's something you take for granted until you lose it. Something to remember in all sorts of things.
      And now for something different.

Haiku Us

Bare skin in moonlight
moves in patches of shadows
leaving me breathless.

One day I will sit
bold at your table of love;
crumbs won't be enough.

When we said I do,
you really meant you didn't
so I don't either

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 24, 2005


      I don't have my 500 words yet so I can't write much here. I haven't written since Sunday last week, and the words refuse to flow. I have my characters staring into a well. Yes, a well. I don't know why. I had an idea back before I got sick, and now it's gone. My characters found this old mossy well in the Wilderness near an abandoned farmhouse. The water is clear and cold. But they don't need water. What was the point of this sidetrip? What? My characters think I've lost my mind. My characters might be right. They're staring at me. I think they'd snicker at me, but the last time they did that, I had them attacked by Haunts. Don't mess with the author. But I sure wish I could remember what I intended to do with that well. Gotta get back to it.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fever dreams

      It's been a strange week. It's been years since I've been as ill as I have been these past few days. I'm doing better now. Not right, but much better. I won't have to go to the hospital unless I take a downward turn, but I haven't had a temperature since noon yesterday. Well, I obviously have a temp, but a normal one, I mean.
      Those days of fever induced a weird state in me. I just huddled in bed and thought of nothing, staring at the books in my shelves, their titles carrying no meaning, their stories no attractions. Sometimes I can get sick, and it's a time to read books, watch old movies, and generally pamper myself like a French king. This wasn't one of those times. Instead, I watched the ceiling until I'd fall into fever dreams.
      Dreams are important to most writers I know. An amazing number of them seem to suffer from night terrors or they sleepwalk or they have incredibly vivid dreams, ones that have plots and invoke emotions. Many times I've woke up feeling hurt by something a loved one said in my dreams. Or angry or sad at events that only happened in nighttime fantasies. And sometimes I've awakened terrified by darknesses made tangible.
      Fever dreams affect me differently, though. They last longer, but they have no plot, no story. I drifted through images of my past and different presents and maybe a few dark futures. Dead people appeared and talked to me, including my grandfather on my mother's side, a man I never met in this life. Not zombies, but as if they were alive, somehow all jumbled together in an old country house that I've never been at but know down in my bones. There was sunlight that was too bright and deep cool shadows and an endless summer. A table and Southern singing and kids that shot through the rooms like blurs. Like a family reunion except it went on all the time. I drifted through this, untouched, an unresponsive observer, burning with heat. Sometimes people spoke to me. Sometimes they hugged me or touched me. Most of them I didn't know.
      Whatever wisdom they might have told me didn't stick; unlike my regular dreams, these faded, leaving only snapshots, like old black and white photos. I was there and yet not there, watching me and being me at the same time. Eventually I'd wake up and be sick or take my medicine or stare at the ceiling some more until the dreams took me again.
      I don't read much into dreams at the best of times, certainly not when I'm sick. Dreams, for all their energy and life, are not indications of the future. Most of the time, they don't mean anything. A few times, they can indicate fears or an overflow of stress. I use images from them in my novels, plays and poems, but I don't expect them to be more than a source of creativity.
      Last night, I had regular dreams. The usual jumble of images and actions, the nonsensical plots that only make sense while your eyes are closed. It's a sign I'm getting healthier, helped by your prayers and well-wishes ... and those Victoria Secret models that Joel sent.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


      I'm sorry I've been gone so long. I have been and continue to be terribly sick. The doctor thought it was the flu at first, but today he told me that he thinks it is something else, although he's not sure what as my lab tests are coming back inconclusive. I got new medicine and am hopeful that it will make a difference. If I'm not better by Monday, the doctor said he would have to put me in the hospital. I appreciate your well-wishes and thoughts. Please continue to keep me in your prayers.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


      Miserable sums up my day. Looks like this illness is going to linger a bit, but I do think I felt a little better today. I didn't get much sleep last night due to coughing, but I've got some new drugs so I hope to get decent sleep tonight. I think that would go a long way to making me feel better. Thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes and gave me medical advice. I've taken most of it, particularly the chicken soup with garlic (tasty, too) and the vitamins. I barely got my 500 words, but I got them. So good night all!

Saturday, January 15, 2005


      My cold has stripped me of my voice, and my swollen throat hurts like blazes. I staggered to the computer, got my 500 words and then staggered back to bed. That's pretty much my whole day except for a bit of email and instant messages this afternoon. I'm popping Vitamin C like it's candy. I'm going to do a shot of NyQuil and call it a day. Night!

Friday, January 14, 2005

A bridge to cross

      I spent the evening working on the new web page for the drama group only to discover that the server wouldn't let me upload any of the changes. Sigh. I saved everything on my hard disk and will work on it tomorrow afternoon.
      I have developed a sore throat and lost my voice almost completely. I've gargled with warm, salt water and wrapped my throat with a scarf. Do you know of any other home remedies that work? Please share.
      A friend of mine brought up an interesting question the other day. He wanted to know how I would react when I lost my anonymity on this blog after my book was published. Hmm. Of course, a lot of people who comment on this blog already know me. Crystal and I have known each other since the fifth grade, ER and I almost as long. I went to college with Randall, Powersleeper and Amberclear. I met CJ and Texan Susan when I moved to my town, although Susan has since moved to the Gulf of Oklahoma. Thus a fair number of people already know my secret identity of Bruce Wayne ... I hadn't thought much about it before he mentioned, and I told him that I would worry about it after I sold the book.
      But his point is well taken. Authors have to promote their work. It puts their names and their lives out there. Most fans are cool, but you always have those trolls and weirdos. Authors have to put up with a lot, including folks asking for their publishing help. I figure authors have enough on their plates as it is. I don't attempt to contact published authors. I've gone to book signings to get their books signed, but I don't attempt any conversation more than that. I think it's rude and pushy.
      Some authors do help others to get published. It's major cool when they do so, but it should be their choice. They shouldn't be hounded into it. Just because they write a book we like, doesn't mean we own them. I've read horror stories on many authors' sites, including one Oklahoma author who had to contact the FBI for her safety. Some people are just plain weird.
      But how will I react when that time comes? Well, according to my nature, I guess, and to the best of my ability. But that's a bridge I'll cross when I get to it and not before. Night!

Time don't mean a thing if you got that swing

      As most of my regular readers know, I chose to cut back on many of my other activities to concentrate on my writing. That meant saying no to the various groups that asked me to be on the boards or be a member. There are only so many hours in the day and night. To reach my dream, I need to write now, right now.
      But no man is an island, no matter how big our thighs might get, so I kept my memberships active in a few groups, once of which is a theater group. I serve on the board, not much of a hardship as we only meet once a month. And the group has performed two of my full-length plays, giving both much needed shakedown performances. I hope they will perform my new play Figments this summer or next fall.
      The board has been talking about creating a web site for a few months, and finally I volunteered to do it. This is where you shake your head and think, He's just not very bright, is he?
      Working with a committee or with any group of people is harder in many ways than doing it on your own. In this case, I mostly had free rein, but getting an account for the group seemed to take forever as we negotiated back and forth with local providers to get our access donated for us.
      Finally this Monday, we received our web space, although it took until yesterday to get our space registered with the service. Last night I put the page online. Whew. Truthfully it's a fairly simple page, mostly because I'm a fairly simple person, almost a simpleton even (just wanted to beat you to the punchline). But I can already tell that it's going to take some work.
      Oh, not the page itself, but getting the content from the various people to put on the page might be a bit rough. Fortunately the president of the theater group is a no-nonsense, let's get it done person. So I have an ally.
      The curious thing about this is that my writing has improved while I've worked on that page. I mean, I'm getting way over my 500 keepable words. Somehow working on the web page woke my creativity back up. The works have flowed. I've been able to meet my goals and go beyond them. When that jazz touches you, writing is like swing dancing. For me, nothing touches that feeling when words come out gold and you feel like you can go on for hours. It's rare enough in my life that when it happens, I try to write non-stop, giving up sleep if necessary.
      All of this is just to tell you why I didn't blog last night. But I will twice today to make up for it! Gotta to get ready for work now. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Paper chase

      One of the reasons I'd like to have a larger house is so that I could have an office. Currently I occupy a small corner of my small living room. But I'd like a space where I could spread my book out in nice neat piles. Even though my current book is a fantasy, it's amazing the amount of research and notes that it requires. I lose a lot of time as I shuffle papers, look for things and generally drive myself batty as I chase paper around my living room.
      I try to keep research on the computer as much as possible, but that leads to ten or 11 or more documents open at one time. Yikes. I sometimes get lost.
      Which is where my characters are -- lost in the Wilderness. Notice the capital letter on Wilderness. I want it to be wild, to deserve that capital, to deserve the fear it creates in most people. So far, I have ghosts, tribes of wild wandering elves, deserted farmhouses and lots of bodies. But it needs more. I thought of wolves but rejected that as a lot of fantasy books have wolves, and I can't think of a new wrinkle for them. So we'll see what happens next. Sadly enough, I'm confident in my subconscious's ability to produce a few more nightmares.
      Gloria asked yesterday how I know what words are "keepable" of my writing. I thought about that a lot today, and I don't think I really have a definite answer. I guess I'm guided by instinct and logic. Logic tells me if it makes sense, and instinct tells me if it's interesting. The second part is most important. As a reader, I will forgive a bit of illogic, but if you bore me, I'll put the book aside and move on. There are too many good books in the world for me to waste my time on a boring one. I figure my readers will be same. They don't want to be bored. Of course, I'm hoping my writing will be both logical and interesting, but my readers will make that determination.
      Speaking of readers, I will be looking for a few first readers when the whole blamed mess is finished. Crystal has already volunteered herself, and I hope to find a few others (hint, hint, hint) who will read the book and catch those inevitable errors before I send it off to another agent and/or publisher. Now, don't worry; you have at least until July to decide if you can do it. And this reminds of one of the nicest compliments that I have received on the book. Crystal was reading an early version to help me during my mad scramble to get it to the interested agent. She told that she kept getting caught up in the story and forgetting to look for errors. That was major cool to hear. Thank you, Crystal. Night!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A few things that actually work for me

      IBS/IBD has been around for a while. Long enough that they've collected their share of dubious home remedies. They range from pinching your left earlobe with a spring clamp to having mineral water enemas daily to smoking marijuana. All of these apparently work on the idea of giving you something else to think about: pain, bathroom proximity and the new terribly close friends you'll make in jail.
      Over the years, I've found a few things that actually work for me. As far as I know, none of my regular commenters or visitors have either illness, but I thought I would share what I found since they might work with any upset stomach.
      Chamomile tea: That's right. The darling of herbalists and old ladies everywhere really does calm my stomach. I'm sipping a hot cup of it now. One teabag per cup with a teaspoon of honey or sugar. Just call me Emily and hand me a finger sandwich.
      Peppermint oil: You can find this at your local health food store in expensive tiny capsules, but I prefer to buy cheap candy canes, break off a small piece and drop it into my chamomile tea. Peppermint has been given to people for centuries to calm their nerves and stomachs. You can also find peppermint tea, but it hasn't worked for me. (A friend of mine once tried shots of Peppermint Schnappes to settle his stomach. He woke up three days later in Mexico. Married. But he and Rosa Maria Isabel Lucita Pilar are very happy together. True story.)
      Environment CDs: Stress influences IBS and to a lesser extent IBD. I've found that ten or 15 minutes a day of what I call drifting helps cut down on the frequency and duration of my IBD flares. To aid in this, I listen to compact discs of recorded nature sounds. One of my favorites is a tape named Bayou, but I also enjoy Echoes of Nature, which features ocean waves, morning songbirds, tropical rainforest, wilderness rivers and so on. (I've also used these to simulate the enviroments that the characters in my books adventure in. Sound is often neglected in books as is smell. Adding both makes descriptions more vivid.) The point of this drifting is to think of nothing but the sounds. Let your mind be unfocused and empty. Just imagine you're a Congressman and it will be easier.
      I hope these are helpful for you. They have been for me. Night!

Handsome little Mikey in his church clothes.
© 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The real enemy

       It might seem that the enemy of my writing is other books. Tad Williams, one of my favorite fantasy writers (I like him so much that I have all his books in hardcover), just released a new book. Shadowmarch comes in at 656 pages. They will be exciting, good pages, but it takes a time to read a book of that size. Also waiting on my shelves is Jack McDevitt's Polaris. McDevitt writes the best space opera out there. Of course, it's only 370 pages, but that takes a few hours, too. And let's not forget Stephen R. Donaldson's The Runes of the Earth. Sigh. So many good books, so little time.
      Writing takes time. This is only a surprise to those people who watch Jessica Fletcher cross the nation, solving murders right and left, and who believe she still manages to write a bestseller every two months. (Most people don't realize that Jessica is actually a serial killer. No, seriously think about it. Isn't it suspicious that at least one person dies everywhere she goes? I sure wouldn't invite her to my house for the holidays.) In real life, what with all the trials and traveling, she'd have no time to write.
      I have a goal of 500 keepable words a day. That takes me on a good day about an hour or so. On a hard day like today, two or three hours. Oh, the words aren't hard, but getting them right is. I realize that 500 words doesn't sound like much, but try it sometime. It's harder than you think. But 500 words a day will add up to 182,500 words a year. That's two books or about seven plays.
      Naturally if I didn't have my day job, I could write more. For a while. Until I starved.
      So the real enemy of writing is anything that takes time away from it. Oh, I'm not saying you shouldn't read good books (because you need to if you're going to learn) or that you should write and ignore everything else in your life (because you end up lonely and sad) or that writing should be the most important thing in your life (because it shouldn't be if you're going to make it through this world with love and some sort of grace), but it should be high on your list of priorities. If it's not, you're not going to write. Because we all have a limited amount of time to spend. And how we spend it will determine what we accomplish. Nothing else will.
      That's daunting, but also encouraging. Daunting in the realization that time is all we have, but encouraging in that we get to decide how we want to spend it. I want to spend as much as I can of mine writing. What about you?


      Have I mentioned Holly Lisle before? She's the author of several fantasy books that I like a lot. (The World Gates series is my favorite, and I'm hoping more will be written soon. It has an interesting and intelligent approach to magic and lots of excellent plot surprises.) Her website is in my Authors links. She also founded the writing community Forward Motion (in the Writing links), although she has retired from that to concentrate on her own writing.
      Holly Lisle has a blog called Silent Bounce that you can reach from her website. I stop by there every couple of days. Her blog (which doesn't allow comments for good reasons) shares the thoughts and trials of a working author. It's worth stopping by if you're interested in the creative process, and I think all writers are. We want to understand why we do the things we do and how to do them better.
      Anyway, somehow -- and this is what has excited me -- I missed that she added 51313 Harbor Street to her links! I noticed it a few minutes ago. A link to 51313 Harbor Street on her page! My little blog got listed by a real published author. Listen, I'm going to have the big head about this for days. I'll have to walk sideways through doors. I'll have to buy hats from a blimp company. I feel faint; I might swoon ... Okay, maybe not, but it's major cool, and it gave me a much needed boost today.
      And now I should take this time to plug Forward Motion, an incredible free resource for authors, particularly if you like discussing writing and its many aspects. It offers writing articles, discussion boards, writing challenges, critique groups, chat and lots more. (A word of caution: While I'm a member and read the boards two or three times a week, I'm not active in it because I found that chatting there took more time from my writing than I was willing to give up. If you're more disciplined than me [and who isn't?] you might not have a problem with that.) The people there work at being supportive for the most part, and FM polices trolls and other no-do-goodniks. You can spend days reading all the boards and good advice contained therein. Stop by and take a look.
      More later! But woohoo!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A ten-minute post

      I have ten minutes before I need to go to bed so that's how long I'm going to type. Let's see how much I can tell you in that amount of time.
      I spent most of the weekend taking care of Mikey. We had a great time. He's a funny, sweet child. It's such fun to watch him learning things and figuring out the world. There's also something bittersweet in it as I hate for him to grow up. He wore his first tie to church today just like his Papa's. I told him that he looked handsome. He smiled and said, "I do."
      My roommate took him home to his mother this evening, and then I spend the rest of the time putting away his toys, doing dishes, doing laundry and getting ready to go to work tomorrow.
      My computer is functioning. Some programs need to be reinstalled still, and the system is still having problems. But Word, Publisher, AOL and Internet Explorer are working, and they're the ones I need for my writing projects. I'll start saving, and maybe by summer, I'll have enough saved to buy me a new one. That's the plan.
      I had an ugly confrontation with a credit card company that I had paid off with my loan. They send me a $79 bill for finance charges. I called them up and asked, "I paid my balance and paid long before it was due. Why am I being charged this?"
      Their answer was that the balance didn't take into account finance charges that were added after they sent the bill to me and before I paid it off. And here's the kicker: If I paid the balance on the new bill, I'd get another bill because once again, the finance charges would be added.
      So how do you pay them off? I quote the account rep: "You send us more money than the balance and then we send you a refund if there hasn't been any charges on the card for three months."
      I hit the roof and went through two account reps and finally got a supervisor. He told me, "I'll remove the charges, but you shouldn't expect us to do this in the future. Your account has no grace period." I thought to myself, don't worry, buddy boy, I won't be using that card ever again. As soon as they remove the charges, I'll be canceling that card, something I had intended to do all along.
      I've been doing quite a bit of editing on Dragons Gather. I've fixed a lot of the plot problems and have a better idea on how to proceed. The basic problem was that I hadn't made it tough enough on characters. They need more perils, more dangers, more arguments, more tension in their wild race to escape their foe. I think I know how to provide that.
      Time's up. Good night all.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Of halibut and other things

      Been sick, been having computer problems, been baby sitting, haven't been blogging. But I got told tonight that when I don't blog, it worries people. So I'm blogging so you won't worry. I'm only thinking of you. What a considerate guy I am. Just a saint or something like a saint but with none of that inconvenient goodness and morality.
      Recently someone asked me how I consistently came up with these hilarious, intelligent, wise, heart-warming, inspiring, cheery and witty posts. (I'm just quoting.) I will tell you right now that I am simply gifted. If you buy that, then I will also sell you some expired lottery tickets.
      Truthfully I suspect my output -- such as it is -- is connected to the warped way I look at the world. My mind is given to literal fantasies, if you can follow that, but if not, don't give up. An example follows so just calm down.
      For instance, suppose someone tells me that his or her heart raced like mad. For most people, that would simply mean that the person speaking was excited. But my mind instantly imagines a heart riding on a horse, the reins held by its little veins and arteries as it spurs its horse to the finish line. Then I have to wonder what it's wearing its spurs on. And what weirdo would make the spurs for a heart, anyway? And spurs need boots ...
      I can while away hours doing this, hours that I should be spending losing weight, cleaning my car, stalking Lucy Lawless, cataloguing my ear wax collection, etc., all the fairly normal activities of someone who was dropped on his head just a few too many times when he was a baby by his jealous siblings, but that is another story and is neither here nor there, but somewhere around Albuquerque.
      Another factor is that I like language, particularly funny words. Like halibut. Now, that is a funny word. Just say it over and over to yourself. Halibut, halibut, ha-li-but. Come on. You're not doing it. Halibut, halibut ... We're not going to continue until you do. Okay, that's better. Isn't that a great word? Next week at work, just say, "Good halibut," instead of "Good morning," and when people ask you how you are, just answer, "Perfectly halibut." Your whole day will be filled with humor, topped off by getting a nice, white coat that will button in an odd way.
      It also helps that we live in a funny world. Well, peculiar is probably the word I should use there, but funny works, too. You can find humor in most things non-Republican, and even Republicans have been known to crack a smile when an endangered species finally croaks. I find that you have to laugh at some things or you will spend all your time weeping and wailing. Frankly, sackcloth itches, and ashes only get in your eyes, and you can quote me if you are so inclined and wish to send me money since this post is copyrighted 2005.
      As for the number of ideas, those come because I read a lot and am interested in almost everything that you can legally be interested in. Right now, I am reading a book on hyperspace, a Southern Sisters murder mystery, a computer book, a book on Biblical archeology and a book on how to have a second date when the police got called on the first one. This gives me a lot of fodder for humor cannons.
      I am also somewhat a klutz in the way that President Clinton was somewhat a liar. I can trip over lint in the carpet and have even stumbled due to the pressure of air molecules. This leads to those wonderful experiences that make great stories afterwards -- Remember the time I fell on the large nun who has holding her pet cat and she threw it in the midst of all those pre-schoolers who were eating chocolate ice cream? -- but are painful when they happen.
      I also have the rare talent of being able to insert both of my feet in my mouth and occasionally have needed to borrow the feet of passing strangers just to fill up that cavernous space that persists in embarrassing me. And no, I will not print any examples. There are enough stories wandering around about me as is.
      And finally it helps that my family is made up of such strongly individualistic people. Not only do we march to a different drummer, but we have often marched to an entirely different band than the rest of the world, a band made up of flutes, kazoos, tubas and perhaps a halibut or two.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I can't even coordinate my clothes ...

      Recently I took a trip ... a short one which ended with me flat on my back in front of the post office, listening to people ask, "What is he doing?" as if I might not have had an accident but just chose a strange place to rest.
      The story: I was at the post office, walking down the steps, looked to the side at something that caught my attention, stepped wrong and fell on the ground and then rolled over to lie on the concrete and look up at the immense sky and wonder why I was not blessed with better coordination and sharper reflexes. (This is when I fractured my foot.)
      I also wondered how long would it be before the numbness wore off and I began to feel the results of my fall. I was hoping for unconsciousness before that happened or maybe even a trip to the emergency room where they would give me pain pills and I would meet a cute unmarried nurse who would see my pitiful but brave face and fall instantly in love with my stunning blue eyes, but no such luck.
      I'm a big boy, and my falling should have happened in slow motion, like the felling of an ancient redwood that still has its leaves although it has fewer than when it was younger and now must go to a leaf stylist to get rid of that unattractive gray. Instead, I fell quick, hit hard and got up after a moment, more embarrassed by the fall than worried about the damage I might have taken. (Later of course, my foot would demand my attention, and the doctor would take my money.)
      I can walk and chew gum at the same time, but it takes concentration …chew, step, chew, step, chew, step ... and heaven forbid I encounter steps or I simply have to spit, climb and then get a new piece of gum. Depending on the terrain, a pack of gum will last about 15 minutes. When I have a real hankering for Big Red, I sit down, pull out a pack and have a nice long chew. It’s peaceful and will doubtless prepare me for my nursing home days.
      But it's not age that is sapping my coordination. I remember as a young child taking music lessons and having my teacher cover my hands with hers as she attempted to get my fingers to press the right keys at approximately the right time. After one particularly harrowing 30 minutes, my piano teacher -- sweat running down her face, hair in disarray, eyes squinting from strain -- asked my mother if my cord had got tangled while I was being born and my brain hadn't received enough oxygen.
      Not having that eye-hand link, I was dismal at sports. I could only dribble down my chin and thus was no use to the NBA. I did make a brief foray into football in the sixth grade when I suited up on a dare. The coach watched me throw, hike and kick, and then placed me on the line in front of the largest opponent out there, apparently deciding to use me as cannon fodder. This backfired on him as I have always been polite and would step aside to allow huge homicidal players past me. My team never appreciated this fine point of etiquette.
      My sports career might have ended there, except in the seventh grade, it was discovered I could run long distances and only have a small heart attack afterwards. My arms would flail, elbows would circle in strange orbits, feet were all over the place, chin would bob -- a strange uncoordinated mess that reminded onlookers of a headless chicken receiving electroshocks. But somehow speed would result. I wasn't good in short distances -- by the time I got wound up, the race was over -- but I could actually run a mile in a decent time. (This amazes me as I look back because I can't imagine running a mile now unless I was chasing an ice cream truck.)
      My school, though, didn't have much use for track since it was only used to get ready for football. Now it has track, tennis and probably space equestrian events, but back then, I was out of luck. Or perhaps not. I remember running across the pasture, from one end of our land to the other, wind whipping across my face, my body a rushing mass of motion. I felt like I was flying. Since I had enough coordination for that, I guess I should be content with the memory now.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Oh well

      Ouch. USC played great. We didn't. That's that. Well, there's always next year. That's the life lesson from football. You might lose this time, but there's always next season. Boomer Sooner!


      It's half-time, and things are looking bad for the Sooners. USC is playing great football, and we're not. Gotta hope our boys play better the second half. Even if we lose, I want it to be a good, tight game.
      It's amazing the number of commercials in this game. The advertisers are getting their money's worth. The commercials just keep coming. I wonder what the cost of a spot was in the game. I'm sure it didn't get close to the Superbowl's price per spot, but I bet it's up there. I Googled the question, but couldn't find any info on it.
      Game is about to come back on. Go Sooners!

Monday, January 03, 2005


      Bah to stinking Microsoft Windows and their terrible customer support! May a thousand poxes descend upon their wretched forms and torment them mercilessly day and night until madness reigns free in their tiny, unhelpful, rude minds!
      Ahem. I am a bit upset. My computer problems continue. It does not seem to be a hardware problem, rather one brought on by those endless updates that Microsoft sends out. Or maybe not. It's impossible to tell. I'm beginning to think that my computer has been possessed by an evil spirit. I'd sacrifice a Microsoft Customer Service Rep to it if I thought it would help. (It would help my feelings!)
      I've been pricing new computer systems. Sigh. To get what I need, I'm going to have to spend $600 or so. I know that's an amazing price considering how expensive computers were a few years ago, but when you don't have money, $600 is as impossible as $1,500. And then two major software programs that I use will have to be upgraded (Another $200) as the versions I have won't work with XP. (I still use Windows ME. Yes, I know, I know, I should upgrade. Got an extra $100 you'd like to send me? No, wait, I need $300 to upgrade Publisher, Elements and XP. Arggghhhh! And there's no guarantee that XP would even fix the problems I'm experiencing.)
      Okay, enough whining. It's still continuing to limp along. It's going to last a few more months if I'm careful with it. I'll start saving now, and maybe by July, I'll have enough to buy a new computer. Or upgrade. Or maybe just run away.
      Moving on. Since the movie's been mentioned in various blogging buddies' blogs (Say "blogging buddies' blogs" fast three times. Do you do everything I tell you to do?), let me also say that Love Actually is great. Crystal told me about it first and then Three&Eight. Both raved about it. I watched it a few weeks back. A great movie. Smart, funny, well-acted and filmed. I could have done with a bit less cussing, but hey, it's the Brits, and they talk that way. Especially the Queen. She's a potty mouth.
      Speaking of my foot -- I know we weren't but we are now so keep up -- it's doing okay, I guess. It lets me know frequently that I'm not following the doctor's orders (keep it elevated and don't walk on it for a few weeks, but hey, I have a job, and they frown on me not being here) but I'm being as careful with it as I can be, and it's doing better. I have some stretching exercises and use hot and cold packs for it, and I think it's going to work out. Or fall off.
      OU will be playing for the National Football Championship tomorrow night. Naturally I will root for OU. I support OU vigorously except when they play OSU and then I want them dead. We OSU fans are loyal to our school in all cases, even when our team plays a Bowl game so bad that it makes us weep -- not that I wept the other night as OSU went down in terrible defeat. I just wandered around the neighborhood wailing and tearing my hair and clothes.
      And on that note, good night.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

      I ate my black-eyed peas and my greens for good luck, but my stupid computer still crashed hard Saturday night. Sigh. At least if I have to buy a new one, they're fairly cheap right now. The nice thing is that I already have all the accessories so I don't have pay for a printer, monitor, USB hub, scanner, etc. I'm still hoping that I can keep this one going a while longer. I'm just now beginning to see some daylight in the gloom of my debts. I'd hate to have to add to it now.
      A non-computer friend doesn't understand my urgency about the computer. For her, it's just a box that she does a bit of email on. But for me, it's a major part of my life. I use it for writing, producing my monthly newsletter, for music, for my digital camera, etc. Without it, I can hardly function. I don't want to borrow trouble, though. Maybe the system reinstall will fix the crazy thing. (Does anyone out there have an AMD processor on their computer? I can find an AMD-based machine for about half what the Intel systems are, so I'm interested on how well they work. Let me know your thoughts on them.)
      In other news, there's not much. I made a few resolutions, the usual: lose weight, write more, get out of debt, etc. We'll check back with me on them in February. Tomorrow I return to work, in some ways a bit depressing because the holidays are over and I dread the piled-up work and the irate customers, but it will be nice to get back to a routine. (This feeling will only last until I'm yelled at by a customer. An important thing that I've learned: Not only is the customer NOT always right, many times they're completely crazy.)
      Speaking of resolutions, one of them is to focus more on my writing. Thus I need to close this and get to typing. Adios!