Monday, November 28, 2011

Mouse Trap Monday and Other Mundane Things

I was not pleased to come home from a wonderful week-end with family to find that the mice have returned. You'd think they'd get the rent, money for utilities, no home. Yet here they are again. So, today I was out buying mouse traps. Why don't they ever go on sale?

I also did a little bit of Christmas shopping. One gift out of the way and materials to finish a gift. So, that part wasn't too bad. Just a couple more things on my list and I can start wrapping. Oh, yes and don't forget the Christmas cards. I'll be starting those as soon as I finish this blog.

Speaking of finishing things. My publisher has edited my entire novel. I think that means we are to the final edits and possibly a cover? Woo Hoo. She is also working on chopping some excess out of my latest short story.

Thus I must start the next one. Which will take us out of the US for the setting. I'm excited about that. I'm starting to like the short stories as much as the novels. The two I've written so far are set so that they can have sequels. Maybe books of short stories are coming. Hmmmm.

Splurged at Bath & Body Works on-line today. They have discontinued my favorite scent so I had to stock up. Besides I could buy 3 and get 2 free plus get 25% off my order and a discount on shipping. Will be banned from buying there soon. They see me coming and say 'How much can we get out of her today?'

I have trouble buying for myself. I love buying for others. I think because I spent so many years not buying for myself, I've forgotten that it's okay. So when I do buy I tend to go to the extreme. Me, extreme who would have thought.

Well, laundry is done, time to think about dinner, do the dishes, and start the Christmas cards. Yep that would be the mundane.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


I am dumbfounded by the blogs that get re-Tweeted. When I do a book review or write on writing I hope those will get tweeted. Doesn't usually happen though. Guess I'm not getting to the right audience.

However when I write something silly, about my family, or the farmhouse I live in, people seem to love them. How does that work? Is it because they are off the cuff and heartfelt? Is it because people can relate?

Makes me wonder just what people see in what I write. Yesterday's post on the aftermath of Thanksgiving was re-Tweeted twice. I had to go back and reread it. Must have been the flying dinner rolls that had everybody laughing. Who knows.

I just know my son-in-law puts in hours on Thanksgiving dinner and then he prays that nothing will be amiss. He has excellent cooking skills. He just needs to put it on the table and not worry about whether we like it or not. Last time I heard it was 'beggars cannot be choosers.' Then we have my father the instigator. He loves to get the great grandkids going. He's just a big kid himself. My grandkids think spending time with their Granny and great grandparents is a treat. They usually get one or the other. The two exceptions to that are Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, they get a little crazy.

Then there is my daughter, who claims she hates people and would like to live in a little cocoon forever. She really loves people. Especially the people who reside closest to her heart. This year was extra special for her. Her sister gave birth to a little girl on Saturday. Although Madison Leigh Turner came into this world three weeks early, she was the hit of the week-end.

When you wake up one morning to discover that although you are an only child, you have nine half-siblings and a slew of nieces and nephews. Life has a major curve thrown in and you just have to run with it. My daughter runs with it, then takes a break from it. She loves her half-siblings and they make life interesting. But I am sure there are days when it is overwhelming.

So, somebody let me know why it is that some blogs are worth re-Tweeting and some go totally unnoticed? I'd really like to know when I'm doing something right.


Saturday, November 26, 2011


Thanksgiving is behind us for another year. There was plenty to eat. Family time is always interesting. This year it was flying dinner rolls...don't ask. Time spent with three generations is always good. Hoping that Mom will be able to get some rest and get well soon.

Black Friday has come and gone. It was a trip to Great Lakes Crossing. A screwed up breakfast order...go figure. My granddaughter doing antics in the back seat. Riding the merry-go-round...all three of us. stores not over crowded. Would not wait in line to get into stores. Seriously??? Some good finds, some okay finds. Some shopping done. Lunch at Toby Keith's Bar and Grill...I love that place. Good food, good times, good fun. More shopping.

Heading home with a stop for dessert. More fun and silliness. Love my girls. Packing my car and heading to Mom and Dad's. Spending time with my on-line shopping too.

Shopping with Dad for a big ticket item. Time well spent. Found it in the first store but went to do comparison shopping at a second. Back to the first. YEAH!!!! Heading home. It's always good to be home.

Miss those that were far away and unable to come home. Maybe next year. Time to relax and pack for my winter trip.

Much to be thankful for.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Writing What It's All About

Feeling pretty accomplished today. I've finished my second short story. Dixie's Dilemma now needs to be printed so I can edit. Make wording changes, cut about 300 words, and just make it a better story.

When writing this as with my first short story, I left the door open for other stories with these characters. I think that's how a short story should work. Mini series. They make for good serializing on my blog when I actually do run out of things to say.

The next short story I'm going to work on takes an entirely different turn. It will still be a mystery, but I will not use a location in the US when I write it. I'll let you wonder about that for a while.

Should be putting things together for my week-end away. As usual, I will put it off until morning and be running late for dinner. Good thing my family loves me. Also a good thing that I'm not in charge of bringing anything.

So, with my sense of accomplishment running high. I bid you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Big Things are in the Works

In addition to my next book being edited, I have many irons in the fire. I am looking at submitting Out of the Flames to a book contest. I am writing three short stories for a contest. One is done. One is almost done and I have an idea for the last one. I'm also working on the second book in the series. And you all wonder why my mind is in constant motion.

I have reserved my rooms in Cleveland for Bouchercon, the big mystery writers conference that is coming up in October, 2012. Yes, you have to book that far in advance. I am just about to send out my registration. I am really excited about this.

I am also looking into doing Seminars@Sea. That would be hosting a writing workshop on board a cruise ship. There is a lot to go into it and it takes a year of planning. I am starting now in the hopes of having at least one lined up for next year. You know I hate the cold. So, think exotic vacation, speak about something I love, possibly inspire someone to begin writing, and get paid for it. I'm so there. If you are interested in something like this please leave me a comment and a way to contact you so that I can keep you up-to-date on the progress. Also share this with your friends in case they might be interested.

Yes, I have big plans and I am working harder now than I did in all my years of teaching. I knew nothing about book marketing when I started writing. I believed that writers just wrote and publishers made all the magic happen. It's not like that at all. I have to work just as hard at marketing as I do writing. It's been a learning experience and I made mistakes starting out. I am getting to the point where I need roller skates to keep up with myself. NO don't buy me any. I like to keep myself a bit more grounded than that. My tennis shoes work just fine.

So, while you are curled up with a good book, I'm busy writing and marketing mine.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Friends are More Like Family

I spent yesterday morning with my friend, Amy. She was busy baking. When I say baking she had at least three or four things she was working on. Then she got an e-mail from her son saying he had to see her and tell her about his job offer face-to-face. I told her to let him know we were on the way. He's only a couple of miles from home. Her husband and youngest daughter were off down the street with the mower and weed whacker. Nothing was due to come out of the oven and Abby was there and would have taken it out if need be. We were off. Zac has the possibility of a computer repair job. That's right up his alley. I am hoping it works out for him.

We got back to the house. Nothing was due out of the oven yet. So we had time to talk some more. I love talking to her. It's been like that since we first met in 2002. Wow just 10 years ago....seems like much longer. We talked about how I love baking, but don't because it's just me. I love to cook period. I just need to learn how to scale down. But the point is, it was a great morning and I know if something comes up I can count on her and she knows she can call me.

From there I went to the school...that'd be the place I'm retired from. It is always good to see my former colleagues. I was too late for lunch when I arrived. I got to hang with Lois in the office. Then I went down to take some Holocaust books to Sally. She'll be teaching that in February. No sense the books sitting at my house collecting dust. So I gave them to her. Some are duplicates of what she has, some were new to her. I don't care if she gives them away if they get used. She was on her way to a meeting so I walked with her.

That meant being hugged and greeted by former students. I only know the 7th and 8th graders any more. That is odd for me. I joined Lois once again in the office where she was signing in a new student. They needed the counselor who was teaching a class. I went to get her and took over her class. I believe they were 5th grade students and were in a class on bullying. They were pretty pleased to learn I'd had some of their older brothers and sisters when I was teaching. I read them a book called 'Just Kidding' and we had just started working on a worksheet that went with it when the counselor returned. It's fun to be in the classroom and know that it's only for a minute or two. It's not an every day thing.

I promised Sally to come back in next week for lunch with the staff. That will be fun. They were my family for a long time. The middle school group for about 7 years. The elementary group even longer. Sometimes you can go home.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review

It's been a while since I've done a book review. This book needs to be out there.

The Interpreter
By Shah Wali Fazli
Published by Night Publishing
ISBN #978-1466293-120
Reviewed by Rebecka Vigus
November 12, 2011

Shah Wali Fazli takes you to Afghanistan. Where his main character is an Afghani Interpreter for the NATO forces stationed there. This book gives you much insight into the turmoil in Afghanistan and the reasons for being there in the first place. It is a fictionalized account of Shah Wali Fazli's own experiences as an interpreter for our forces there.

Shabir Khan, the interpreter, is torn between missing his family and a desire to help his people to prosper. His family has escaped from Afghanistan while he is there helping the soldiers and the villagers communicate. As an interpreter, Shabir is considered by the Taliban as the worst kind of traitor.

The Mullah Aslam or Mullah Dozakhi meaning from Hell, is the main Taliban chieftan in the Helmand area where Shabir works. He has been known to behead the interpreters that he captures after torturing them. He taunts Shabir that his turn is coming.

Shabir lives in fear for his life on every patrol he goes out on. He dwells on Mullah Dozakhi to the point of becoming depressed. He believes that this is the same mullah who imprisoned him in Kabal and tortured him for months. Finally his fellow interpreters and the American named Ralph who is a commander break him from this train of thought.

The book goes quickly and there is no lag in the story line. The reader becomes enmeshed in the life of Shabir and the other interpreters. The book not only tells the life of the interpreters, but also the lives of the local Afghanistan citizens. Those farmers and villagers who are threatened in the night by Mullah Dozakhi and his band of thugs that if they don’t provide food, money, and their sons they will be killed.

Mullah Dozakhi and his gang of thieves do not believe in education or anything that speaks of a modern world. They are truly the left over nineteenth century warlords. Their power is in striking fear in the farmers and villagers. They plunder and take what they want. They care not who they kill and use propaganda to blame the Americans.

For me the book was more than just a story. It was an education into why we have men and women risking their lives in Afghanistan. I had believed Afghanistan was a mountainous region. I missed that it is also desert and that farmers have irrigated the valleys to make them lush with crops. While they are not wealthy farmers they work to provide for their families. They wish their children to attend school and get medical care. All of these are things the Taliban would deny them.

If you are looking for a powerful book, this is one I would highly recommend you read. It has many messages. It also helps create understanding.

Friday, November 11, 2011

I Keep on Learning

Today I learned that I could pick up more followers on my blog if I syndicated it. It was an easy process. I still need three people to confirm I am who I am, but I'm getting followers I didn't have before. Anything that gets me name recognition is a good thing.

I'm learning that sometimes I write too much. I have also learned how to pick and choose what to leave out. In some cases, what to leave in and add to. I'm getting better at showing and not telling. All of these seem like basic things, but when you are meeting word limits or need to make minimums they seem like challenges.

I'm learning that I need taglines for some things and not for others. Every day brings me something new.

I am awaiting some CD's that will help me to prepare for the possibility of giving seminars on cruise ships. What could be better than that? Having a wonderful cruise and talking about writing? The best part is being paid for it. Who would have guessed?

I am learning what others look for when they are critiquing a new book. I've had some eye opening conversations with writers in an on-line group I belong to. There is an author who is unable to understand why his book is not selling. He thought it might be because he wrote it in English, not his native tongue. I am reading the book and will post a review when I am done. English is not the problem. Being an unknown author is.

I am working on edits with my publisher. She is changing some things that were taken out in my critique group. Funny it is now back to the way I originally wrote it. At least part of it is anyway. Any corrections or suggestions she has made have only enhanced it. She has not by any means undone what was done in my critique group. Now six sets of eyes have looked at it and made suggestions. That does not include me. I am still a work in progress, just like my writing.

So, if you are doing what you love, don't stop. Get assistance from others who know what you are trying to accomplish. Don't take the criticism personally, it is meant to make you better at what you do. And NEVER stop learning.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Every Day Is an Adventure

Some days like today it didn't even require that I leave the house. I did go out. I picked up my mail, where my copy of The Interpreter by Shah Wali Fazli had arrived. I ventured into the grocery store to pick up a few odd items. No excitement there, just a few rain drops.

The adventure came when one of my groups on LinkedIn had a post asking if anyone wanted to do a speaking seminar on a cruise ship. Okay, you have my interest. I have ordered the materials to learn what it is all about. I'm game. There is nothing tying me to the house.

I read some Facebook posts that let me know just how lucky I am. Life has not been all I had hoped it would be when I was younger, however, I am very happy with the way it has turned out. I have wonderful family support. Not just my immediate family but cousins, too on both sides. I have terrific friends, some old, some not so old, some I learn from all the time. I am comfortable with who I am. I am a harsher critique than anyone else could be. I know what my standards are and I hold myself to them.

So, life is an adventure. You just have to look for it. I'm going to curl up with some crochet work, watch some TV, then read before turning in. Have a lovely evening all.


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Living Proof

Today's blog is by a former student of mine with a big message. Please read through what Jen Evans has to say.

I have learned so much these last few months. Some of it I wish it never happened but some things you cant change. But I’ve come to realize that its ok to trust people. Yes, some of them will steer you in the wrong path.. But so many are there to help you.. Even if its a kick in the butt. Some one told me a blog would help me so I decided I would give it a try to get some of what’s been going through my head so I could unscramble some of it.. So here it goes..

Living with a disability is hard. I know I tried my hardest not to let it define me but I know it has.. I continue to struggle with accepting it. I’ve been compare to my brothers even if its myself doing it. But watching my brothers when I was a little girl and right now is hard. They are the athletic type and got the good grades in school.. All I really wanted was to hear my parents say "I’m proud of you" for something that was important to me. I did girl scouts and other things but I honestly didn’t feel like I fit in. I even felt like I didnt belong in my own family.. They always look at me like I was a disease freak.. It never felt right to be.. I always was the spectator. Id go to Wrestling meets, football games, and other things. I would just sit there and watch. I grew accustom to that.

School to me was hard. I would look around Kids would run and jump.. People always stare. I honestly want to shout out.. Yes I walk funny and I hate it.. But I don’t.. I’ve always ask why? Why me? So many teachers/friends tried to help me through school but I just thought they have no clue what I needed or what to do. There are so many that honestly I love to pieces and I understand now that they were only trying to help. I can remember one year (3rd grade) having a puppet show that was about disabilities. I remember bringing in my doll a doctor made for me and sharing it.. That was the first time I felt like I mattered. But that feeling faded I guess.. My mom was there but I pushed her away most times. I didn’t know how to deal with me and I believed she didn’t either.. I would sit alone in my room.. I didn’t have to wear my braces, I could be "normal".. Same goes with sleeping.. I could sleep and dream of me not having a care in the world. I turned to country music to be a comfort.. I would listen to the saddest songs and cry my eyes out. I escaped the madness of the world with some songs. No one realized that is why I love listening to music. Reba is my hero because a lot of those lonely nights when I thought I didn’t have a road to turn her music was there. She gives me hope in the darkest hours. When my mom with help from a friend got me the backstage passes to meet her, I wanted to tell Reba how much she has helped me but I froze. I promise myself one day i will tell her all about it.

I did tell some of my secrets but it seemed like that when I did that person passed away or left. I have so many family and friends that are gone. Living with the guilt because when i was a little girl, I thought if i told my secrets to someone that person would leave so I began to keep them inside. I think my point where I started shutting down completely was 2000. My grandma struggled with cancer. I was unaware of exactly was happening. I can remember stopping by her house and not being able to go in because she didn’t look like my grandma and being nine years old I guess I didn’t know better. The cancer took so much out of her. I regret so many things but not going in that day basically kills me. When she died my world ended. From that point forward I hid my emotions. I went day to day making it seem like nothing was wrong. I would tell everyone that I was fine but on the inside I was dieing.. The pain slowly eats away at you till you have nothing left.. I would curl up in bed and never want to come out.. There were so many days that I just wanted to end it.. To be true I thought if I ended it who would care.. My parents got more and more frustrated with me. But I know they were trying I just didn’t realize how much.. I buried myself in a hole (I’m still in but working on it). Then my Physical Therapist from Pat died too. She helped me so much. She made me feel special. My grandpa dieing in 2006 was another place in my life that made me realize a lot. I sank farther in my hole.. Everything around me seemed like it was disappearing. I shut down.. My parents tried to help but again I pushed away. I have a long way to go.. These things don’t just correct themselves in a day or so.. I have to learn how to deal with things..

Friends are special to me. For one reason if you can accept people being different then you have a marvelous quality. I never understood what a true friend was. When I was little I wouldn’t go to friends houses because I didn’t want them to know my bathroom problems.. Honestly it still bugs me but I’m learning how to deal.. I thought if someone said hi to you. They were your friend. I realize that I don’t need a lot of people to like me. I just need the ones that support me even if i screw up in so many ways. Many people come in and out of your life. I’m a person that really doesn’t want them to leave.. I believe that friendship stays there even if you don’t talk much..

Well that’s all I can say for now. I need to get some sleep. For now I am hanging in there. I’m going to work on so many things. May take a while but I believe I need to work on me. I appreciate every person that has help me in some form. Even if its just a comment or a hug! Thank you for reading this. God Bless!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How Do You Explain Perfect?

My speaking engagement this morning was a smashing success. I know this because of the number of people who came up to me afterward and told me how much they enjoyed listening to me. It was probably the hardest speaking engagement I've had. I not only wanted to be successful, I didn't want to embarrass the wonderful people who thought enough of my writing and me to ask me to come.

In some cases I will always be the student. This is one of those. When someone who knew me as a flighty teen can say they are very proud of me and proud to know that I can write so well, I am honored. That happened today. Especially since I most likely gave the man grey hair, or at least contributed to it.

The other way I know it was a success is the number of books that were sold after I spoke. I am used to selling one or two books after a speaking engagement. I emptied half the box I came with. That is success.

Lunch with a former teacher added to my day. I enjoyed him as a kid. I appreciated him when I first went into teaching. I hold him dear to my heart now. There are teachers who come along in your life time that touch you because they see beneath the veneer to the person you are or will someday be. This is one of those people. I will be forever grateful as he made my two awful years in junior high tolerable.

So today has been perfect, the sun was shining and I had a wonderful time. Thank you Bill and Chris Schipper.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Settling In and Picking Up the Pace

The title is misleading. I've been settled in my house for years. It's settling back into the writing routine after being away. I've got that on track somewhat. Since I've never been a you must write at this time every day kind of writer.

The short story I'm working on is coming together. It needs to be typed. Yeah, I occasionally hand write my stuff. Depends on what is available when I am working. I'm working with my publisher on edits to my current novel. I need to get busy on the second one. It got held up in Chapter 13.

As to picking up the pace, well that has to do with speaking engagements. I am speaking tomorrow morning at some point on writing to the Michigan Lionesses at their annual conference. I'm waiting to hear what time I need to be there. I also have a writing engagement coming up in honor of National Writing Month. Details on that have not been worked out yet. I will be at my former school working with a former colleague. I love that idea.

If you know someone who needs a writer workshop or a speaker for their group, let me know. I'm available for a few days the rest of this year. I've not booked for 2012 yet.



My laptop has been at full capacity for the past two weeks. It's nice to be consistently writing again. It's been hit or miss for...