Writing is a journey, not a destination.

Search This Blog

Monday, December 31, 2012

Good-bye, 2012. You sucked

I can't remember ever being so glad to see the back-end of a year. I really hoped the Apocalypse would come, but even that was a bust for 2012 (unless the die-hards are right, and it did start small and intends to build, but, hey, that sounds like normal life to me, so how would we know?).

Let's recap:
A backyard destroyed first by arborists, then drought, then Bermuda grass (the only thing to survive the drought)

Mom's highly traumatic and nearly fatal neck surgery

My highly traumatic and nearly fatal publication of my first novel (I sure thought it was going to kill me, anyway)

The 25th anniversary of my father's death

Two close friends experiencing on-going, major life traumas that almost completely destroyed my emotional support system (didn't do them much good, either)

The first anniversary of Grandma Turtle's death

Complete and utter writer's block encompassing even my blogs

Lavender Squeak and the accompanying vehicular homicidal urges (I more than once considered wrapping that POC around a light pole. The only thing that stopped me was the fear I'd hurt myself worse than I hurt the van)

2012 election results (hardly surprising, though, were they?)

Diagnosis of clinical depression

Switching from a job I love and do well to a job where that remains to be seen

Sounds fun, don't it? 

On the up side:
We've already gotten more snow this winter than last winter, which should help with the drought and the backyard.

Mom came through the surgery, and the neck works. Everything else is falling apart, but the neck works.

Star of Justice is out and well-received by the 10 strangers who've read it.

My friends are getting their lives together.

I met my publisher in person, and, more importantly, liked her in person.

Lavender Squeak has been replaced with Dodge Caravan, who can't help but be a better van 'cause the bar's pretty low.

The 2012 election results just mean Jesus is coming sooner.

I got a clean bill of health from my doctor.

God and I finally had it out, and we both won.

I'm treating the clinical depression.

My new job includes a new salary, which should come in handy when the results of the 2012 election start hitting my bank account next paycheck.

My writer's block is slowly dissolving. 

I met my goal of reading the entire Bible chronologically in a year.

Of course, all the "bright side" events have happened in the last two months or so, which means the majority of 2012 sucked. Like a novel. All garbage and hardship until the end. I guess that's an optimistic way to think about it.

So, good-bye, 2012. You will not be missed any more than Lavender Squeak.

Happy end-of-the-year, dear readers. Best good-bye ever. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Struggling with Words

My Christmas present to myself - other than St. John's Wort - was a new laptop. I probably spent way too much, but I wanted a touch screen. I regret nothing.

I am puzzled, however, by the manufacturer's admonition not to block the vent fans despite their placement on the bottom of the laptop exactly where it rests on my thigh/table. I assume there's some kind of special stand I'm supposed to buy. Since I spent plenty on the device already, I will attempt to get Big Brother to make me a stand both sturdy and lightweight. He's a mechanical genius. Should be easy.

The whole purpose of the laptop is writing. I bought it to write on, away from the distractions of the Internet and the cold of the front room. A laptop can sit on top of my electric blanket in any chair emptied of cats in my house, or at World Cup, if the cats look too comfy. So, here's to new writing and finished first drafts.

Last night's venture into uncharted territory was a study in conflict.

First, my conflict in trying to write while keeping the laptop vents unblocked. I'll allow you to imagine what that looked like.

Second, my conflict in writing what should be a simple fight scene yet refuses to be so.

Perhaps it's the lack of weapons. This is a surprise, close quarters, two-on-one skirmish. I'm gonna have to interview Big Brother on some down-and-dirty fight techniques 'cause I'm coming up blank. Perhaps it's the terrain. An excellent use of my non-writing, TV time would be mapping some of these places my characters populate. Perhaps it's my unfamiliarity with the attackers. Their personalities and motivations play into this fight. It's probably all of these things.

Anyway, it's taken three nights of writing and rewriting to get this scene on paper, and I'm pretty sure it continues to suck. I won't know for a while, though. Tonight I move to the next scene because I ended last night's work with a definitive blow to the head.

It's only fair. They hurt me. I hurt them.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Know Your Place

I started reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin. Right off the bat, I'm immersed in Small Lumber Town Mississippi climate and culture. Excellent stuff. Muggy, buggy heat. Afternoon storms. Chicken coops and the smells that go with them. All the meat I crave from my books.

All the meat my current WIP lacks.

The trick, of course, is to know your place. The author obviously knows Mississippi. He couldn't put that much detail into describing a place he's never been. Half the fun of this story for me is the description. The sensory details as I experience a place I've never been. 

Once again, I must admit I don't know the places I'm writing about. Or the people. I'm working on a scene where three strangers make an entrance and join the storyline. I have to name them, describe them, give them personalities - you know, bring them to life. I don't know if they'll stick around for one chapter or become integral to the plot, but, either way, they're here now and they should bring something interesting to the mix.

I don't remember having trouble with this in my first two books. Now, though, I resist the idea of bringing in anybody new. What if I get angry comments if I kill one of them?

TT: I am never going to live Gowan down, btw. He was a red shirt, people! Get over it!

That's the problem. I've gotten too serious. Too much is riding on this being a great book. I'd settle for it being a finished book.

Descriptive words about places I've never been and people I've never met. Sensory details that make a made-up world live and breathe and sweat and bleed. That's the impossible goal. That's the windmill I've chosen to fight.

Yee haw.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Teacher Wanted

I started a new job in October. It actually started in September, but I moved into the new office in October.

It's a really new job, as in, other people have done parts of it before, but most of the legislation that defines what I'm doing got passed January 2012, and I'm the first person trying to make practical sense of the new legislation, so no one has really done any of it yet.

It's scary. I'm very good at presenting a calm, knowledgeable exterior, but I'm not very good at figuring things out by myself. I've always - always - had a teacher, until now.

TT: You might think this is an opportunity for me to "grow up" and "act like an adult." I would argue that's an "American" way to think and rather silly. There is nothing wrong with wanting a teacher. Jesus Himself said no student is above his master. If I'm my own teacher, I cannot do better than I'm doing now.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not completely alone. I have a deputy and two part-time support folk who are doing their best to get me where I need to be. It's just not as...structured...as I would like. The most irritating part so far - other than how often I forget things I do know in the scramble to learn other things - is how my support people seem to think my freaking out is a normal part of the process. They all did it; therefore, it's completely normal.

No one should have to freak out as part of their job. I know it happens. I was a foster care case manager, after all. Had I freaked out a little earlier and more publicly, I wouldn't have had a nervous breakdown. However, it is my nature to limit the trauma of change, mostly because I find change so traumatizing.

It may be a difference in learning styles. I would never throw a child into a pool with the admonition "sink or swim." I would never drop someone off at the DMV for the first time and say "go pay your taxes." I wouldn't hand someone the phone and say "order a pizza" without showing them how. You know why? Because my student nature learns the wrong lessons. I don't learn "Hey, I can swim" or "Hey, I can survive the Portal to Hell" or "Hey, I can feed myself as long as I have cash or a credit card."

I learn "Hey, I can't ever trust that person again. They will frighten and abandon me because they don't care enough about me to show me what to do."

TT: If you followed the Lavender Squeak fiasco (still on-going, btw), you know this is the major issue I had with God. We've gotten past it, by His grace, but my nature hasn't changed.

I believe I will enjoy this job. I see a future where I'm competent and caught up and able to teach a successor how to do what I do with competence and efficiency.

I just wish that future didn't look so far away.

Friday, December 21, 2012

No Comparison

Been hearing some disturbing things in my writers' groups. Things like "it takes 10 books to get noticed and 30 books to get famous." Or something close. Shock shut me down for a little bit when I heard it.

That is one statistic I hadn't heard yet. 

I guess it's a good thing I don't want to be noticed or famous. Even assuming America exists long enough (which I don't believe it will), it would take me 60 years to produce 30 books at my current rate.

Did you hear the one about the grandfather clock? The little alarm clock asked how old it was and the grandfather clock began to explain just how many ticks it had ticked and the alarm clock blew a gasket just thinking about it. "How do you do it?" the alarm clock asks. "One tick at a time."

I can't afford to think about "30 books from now" or "10 books from now" or even "the next book." Well, maybe the next book. That gives me hope there will be a next book.

It really gets annoying when folks start rattling off all their "next book" ideas. Good on them, yes, for being all energetic, but I'm old and tired and my brain turns more toward spreadsheets than RPG maps these days.

Praise God the depression has loosed its hold, or I'd be eyeing the toaster oven and considering how the laptop might fit inside.

On a slightly brighter note, taking my recovered, non-lazy writing goals to heart led to a spurt of rewriting that has turned out pretty good. Instead of a polite "oh, how do you do, why, yes, we know the same people" boring scene, I now have a "whoa, sorry about kneeing you in the back, I guess that's a bit unfriendly since we're actually on the same side, huh?" scene. It was easier to write, too. If I really want to get excited, I should throw in some blood and head-lopping, but it might be a bit early in the relationship.

Happy Friday, everybody. Be safe. It's icy out there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The End of Lavender Squeak?

Not quite yet, it seems.

For you who don't know, I bought a van. It went horribly, horribly wrong. I went briefly insane. I got better. Go back to Oct 4 and you can catch up if you really want to, but I wouldn't recommend it.

I found a used car dealer willing to trade in two vehicles for one. He found a used vehicle in my price and interest range. December 8 I traded in my trusty but dying Chuga (that's the Suzuki's name) and the bitterly disappointing Lavender Squeak and drove home a 2000 white Dodge Caravan that doesn't have an alarm system to screw me over.

TT: I haven't named it. I'll wait a month. I'm also not going to talk about it. I've gotten a little superstitious.

I didn't have the title for Squeak yet, which struck me as a bit odd, but they said it could be 45 days and we hadn't quite reached that limit. The salesman assured me they had done this before and it wouldn't be a problem.

The salesman called me last Friday to ask if I'd gotten the title yet. No. They hadn't, either, and they sold Squeak at a dealer auction that weekend (Dear God, let it please be for parts!).

He said I could go to Titles & Registration (one block from where I work) and pick up my title. Figuring this was one more way the Chrysler gods wanted to screw me over that van, I took some vacation time and walked the block to sit for an hour with butterflies eating their way through my stomach in anticipation of what would go wrong at this State agency only to find out my title hadn't been released at the county level yet and they couldn't help me. I would have to return to The Mouth of Hell, excuse me, the DMV Annex, and get them to push it through. Yes, I had to return to the same people who refused to help me twice previously and ask them to not help me again.

TT: Some of you are thinking, "Why didn't you call before you went? Wouldn't that be easier?" It would be easier, if the DMV ever answered their phone OR returned their messages OR even had a phone at The Annex, which as far I could see, they don't.

So I took more vacation time and drove to The Annex, where I met a lovely lady who had no idea who I was (or that I was barred from receiving any help at that location for whatever reason they arbitrarily assigned to me and me alone of the 100 other people there the two times and five and a half hours I was there). She took my paperwork and 15 minutes of my life and pushed the registration through.

Turns out I hadn't signed something. Really. Wonder when they were going to tell me that?

By the time that was done, I was out of time to return to Titles & Registration, so I went early Monday morning, only to find out it was mailed. Deep sigh. So, here I wait for the title to arrive so I can drive it over to the dealership. I'll probably get in an accident on the way.

I predict in six months' time, I will be sideswiped by the new owner of Lavender Squeak, destroying my newest vehicle completely, yet leaving Squeak mostly unharmed. Some paperwork flummox will list me as owner of both vehicles, and I will be fined for driving without insurance.

So be it. I'll turn it into a Japanese horror movie script. I wonder what Lavender Squeak sounds like in Japanese? 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Flickering Furby Fascination

Tuesday night I glance over at the TV and see a child hugging a Furby. My attention focuses. Furbies. Good. I'm curious about Furbies, so I'm glad I'm seeing a toy commercial featuring them. Except it isn't a toy commercial. It's a battery commercial.

Duracell batteries.

Furbies run on Duracell batteries? I knew they took batteries, but I thought they were like calculator batteries. Or cordless phone batteries, the ones with the little wire prongs on them. Or cell phone batteries you plug into your computer at night where they recharge and download software upgrades.

What kind of Artificial Intelligence runs on Duracell?

The toy kind, I guess.

This was the first moment I realized the Furby may not be everything I hope. If it runs on Duracell batteries, it isn't meant to last forever. It isn't meant to be an evolving friend and companion. It's just a bit of fake fur over plastic with a voice chip and plasma screen eyes possibly intended to keep Duracell in business.

Yes, you're thinking that's all it ever was, but I say it could be so much more. Hasbro is totally missing the boat on the adult Furby market.

Furby could keep my schedule for me, like the iPhone's new SIRI (is that how it's spelled?). Furby could be my alarm clock and contact address book. Furby could help me practice Spanish or harvest my Farmville farms when I can't get home on time. Furby could be a smoke/carbon monoxide detector. Furby could go to nursing homes and visit residents frightened of cats and dogs. Furby could come equipped with a camera and be able to answer my question, "Furby, what did the cats do today?" with video.

TT: No screen in the stomach, though. That's too close to Teletubby Land and those things creep me out way more than Furbies. Not sure why. They're very, very similar when I think about it.

Yes, all those things would take time and training of the Furby, but that's part of the fun. Taking a little alien owl-thing and making it a useful and beloved member of the family. 

The Duracell information really knocked the wind out of me but I'm pretty stubborn, so I decided to do more research.

I got hands-on with Furbies at Walmart (not too hands-on. They were in boxes). But I could feel the fur (very nice - no problem there) and look over the advertising text. Nothing too distressing other than the mildly threatening "you never know who your Furby will be." Does that mean it could turn out badly even if I'm nice, or good even if I'm mean to it? Is its personality set from Day One At Factory, or will nurture win out?

All the questions I had at the start.

So I'm conflicted. I want to test my mettle against this reportedly most irritating toy of all time and see who wins, but I'm afraid I will ultimately be disappointed, either because the win was too easy or just impossible. There's no point spending money on disappointment.

Thus, the Furby fascination flickers, attracting layers that say more about my obsessive nature than about Hasbro or Duracell.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blog Meme: The Next Big Thing

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I didn't know what a "meme" (pronounced meem) is. I looked it up. Second definition according to Dictionary.com is "an idea or element of social behavior passed on through generations in a culture, esp. by imitation."

I can live with that.

Kat Heckenbach tagged me as part of a string of authors promoting their Next Big Thing, so I get to return the favor. I'm linking back to Kat's original post so you can check out her Next Big Thing and I am to tag 5 other authors to continue the madness.

1) What is the title of your next book/work?

Price of Justice. It started as Justice for All, but as the story grew darker, this title took over.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work?

My head? I wrote Star of Justice to stand alone, but it contains a lot of consequences with no clear reasons. Price of Justice offers some explanations for otherwise random occurrences in Caissa's life.

3) What genre does your book/work fall under?

Adult fantasy. The sword and sorcery kind, not the bow-chicka-bow-bow kind. Yes, I say that to people.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Merritt was easy. Rufus Sewell. He's got that rumpled sexy thing going on. I don't even mind his age. Although, thanks to some FB questioning, I have to admit, there's a little Mandy Patinkin/ Inigo Montoya in there. Of course, Kevin Kline totally nailed the character in French Kiss. Why don't I know any young actors?

Caissa was harder, but Ellen Page could do it. She can present that innocent but determined air Caissa exudes. Have you seen Inception

While Kate Beckinsale and Scarlett Johansson seem to have cornered the market on kick-ass females (and Kate has the advantage of an English accent), I choose Milla Jovovich for Raven. She can pull off grace, elegance, height and a 1000 yard stare just fine. The transformed parts would be CGI anyway, but she could do the stunts in a pinch. Yes, she's impressed me with her Resident Evil franchise and her apparent agelessness.

Gamaliel has always been Terence Stamp. Always. When you read his dialogue, hear William Harcourt from Alien Nation. I would do a cartwheel on Youtube if he agreed to read the audio version of Star of Justice. Whoa, I just got sweaty palms thinking about that.

Price of Justice has a newbie joining the group, Keirbannan Rossamathalid, who could be admirably played by Ali Larter. OK, Resident Evil may be influencing me too much, but I know she would work with Milla.

Rhami Harvarkoset remains uncast at the moment. Benedict Cumberbatch could do it if he were two feet shorter. Maybe trick camera angles if Peter Jackson directed? My other thought is Simon Helberg, aka Howard Wolowitz, looking especially Jewish in that head shot. He's got the size, nose and sex drive, but I don't know if he could overcome, you know, being Howard Wolowitz. Little Sister suggested Eric Stoltz, and while he doesn't physically fit the image, he has the acting chops to pull it off and he may need the work.

Dear Galena. Grace Jones set the standard for bald black barbarians in Conan the Destroyer, and I haven't seen anyone do it better. I could cop out and choose Gina Torres, who has the screen presence, but, frankly, I need a berserker. I saw a photo of a supermodel on FB earlier this year that had the look but bless my soul if I can find it now. I guess a casting call is in order.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

No good deed goes unpunished.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have an indie publisher who seems interested.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Two years and counting.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This is pretty standard epic fantasy fare.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The characters. Their lives go on after Star of Justice. My readers might want to know about that.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest? 

That isn't enough? Sheesh. What do you people want from me? Oooh! Somebody kisses Raven. You'll never guess who. Never. And I won't tell you you're right even if you do. 
Mwahahahahahaa! ehem.

I'll tag Keven Newsome, Katherine Coble, Fred Warren (not because he hasn't done it, but because he has and won't have to do it again), Cindy Koepp, and Kristen Stieffel. Get at it, boy and girls. I'll link to your actual posts once they're up. You have a week. Except for Fred, 'cause he's done it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Furby Fascination

Is it just me or are eggs getting harder to crack? I swear, I've lost the ability to judge how hard I need to tap those little buggers against the counter. I'm either smashing them to pieces or ending up with eggshell in my food because I have to peel it like a boiled egg. Yes, I buy cage free brown eggs, but does that make that much difference in the shells?

This post is about Furbies, but I had to get that off my chest since I just washed egg off my hands and counter.

I've become fascinated with Furbies. I vaguely remember hearing about them when I was younger, mostly that college students were teaching them to swear, but I didn't want one.

Now that I'm older and, apparently stupider, I'm fighting the urge to get one.

It's the AI thing. Can I train a computer program? I've trained cats and dogs, so the answer is probably "yes," but I wouldn't know that until I tried. What if I get a bad one? What if it doesn't like me? What if they don't offer upgrades? What is the life expectancy of a Furby, barring accident or injury?

Do the ones made in 1998 still work? My computers from that time don't. Do they eat? Will it learn to sleep through the night? How do I discipline a Furby? Do timeouts work? Will it get along with my cats? Does it get jealous?

The Flash knew someone who had one and has since given it away. Apparently, she removed the batteries and it kept talking to her. That makes sense if you don't want to lose all the programming during a battery change, right? Hmm.

I don't need a Furby. I'm really hoping as is the way with all my severe interests this will fade if I resist for two weeks. But I kinda wish I knew someone who had one who would let me Furbysit. Except sitting with someone else's isn't the same as having my own. Then I think about starting a Furby rescue and rehabilitation, where I take abused and mistreated Furbies and retrain them into more productive members of households and find them new homes. Would that be possible?

Oh, the things that bother me.

Happy Monday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Random Post as Proof of Life

Yes, I'm alive. Things got a little hectic 'round here, and I remembered I'm supposed to be blogging sometime late last night.

The Irish Kiwi with a German Twist has come and gone. She really gets around for a flightless bird.

I've discovered Orange Leaf frozen yogurt. Not sure this is a good thing.

Rented my first car yesterday (job related). Now terrified of driving it into a retaining wall. I have that history, you know. It's a 2012 Ford Taurus, and I feel like I'm driving a coffin.

Got Lavender Squeak back from yet another mechanic who told me to cut my losses and run away. I am negotiating a double trade-in with a local used car dealer for a 2000 Dodge Caravan with 117K miles. CarComplaints reports no trouble with anti-theft devices on these vehicles; just a lot of transmission problems and engine rebuilds. I can live with that.

Learned all salads are not created equal. Who knew something green and fresh could so wrong so quickly? I ate it anyway, but the last few bites were all about willpower.

I can walk a mile in about 16 minutes. Pretty sure this is pathetic. However, my doctor says most of his patients don't even bother to try, so I get points for that. He also gave me a clean bill of health.

If you can avoid it, never be the next patient of a phlebotomist who just got a call from her son's school/social worker/principal. I'm thinking she left some needle in there because my arm still hurts from a week ago.

My To Be Read pile has reached staggering proportions. I need to stop picking up Kindle books on sale and start reading them. Here's hoping I grabbed good ones. My next read should be The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It cost 8.99, which is officially the most I've paid for an ebook. Hope you're right, Kat.

Enjoying the Christmas music this year, although the Michael W. Smith one where's he got that choir is a little like the guys from Hee Haw joining the Boston Philharmonic. Love Michael W. Just sayin'.

That's enough. Happy Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Pleasant Surprise

Turns out the new commenter on my blog last week has a blog of her own and wasn't kidding about enjoying Star of Justice.

Remember how I said I wouldn't read my reviews? I meant it, not that I've been able to stick to that intention because people - coughGracecough- keep telling me about them.

So here's another review of Star of Justice that amazingly doesn't mention the off-color comments, extreme violence and slow opening. That's why I mention them now.

My favorite quote?

"It takes you to a world, shows you interesting questions and then gives you mind-blowing answers. And then gives you more answers that take your already-blown mind, throws the pieces up in the air and blows them again."

 Mwahahahahaha! ehem.

Anyway, Star of Justice as experienced by Katherine Coble.

Here's me reading her review.

Thanks, Katherine. You are my official favorite person of the week.

Now I have to go read her post about Twinkies and Magic Unicorn Sex 'cause who wouldn't? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Hawk and the Sparrow

The promised blog post.

Last week, I'm walking the stairwell in the parking garage, talking to God about the van.

"You're gonna have to show me what to do there, Lord. I continue in my cluelessness."

I look up and spy a dead male sparrow on the landing. I pause.

"You know, Lord, in some Native American cultures, that's a sign. Finding a dead animal is a negative response to whatever I was just thinking about. If I didn't know better, I'd say the universe is out to get me where that van is concerned."

I picked up the sparrow - yes, with my bare hands - and kept walking. I'm not leaving a corpse in the stairwell to pass four times a day until someone callously kicks it over the side and it ends up rotting in the basement level. Call me crazy, but I can't live with that.

Three more steps up and I hear rustling. Another bird is trapped between the stair rail and the giant windows that form two walls of the stairwell. This is a common occurrence. I've rescued four trapped sparrows and one bat since I started walking this parking garage.

"That's a pigeon. A brown pigeon. A brown pigeon with a sharp beak. Holy cow, that's a hawk!"

Now I know what happened to the sparrow.

The hawk is not happy to see me and its fluttering efforts redouble as it seeks a way out of its confinement.

Leaving the dead sparrow and my purse on the step, I pull on my winter gloves - yes, I put on gloves. Hawks have beaks that rip through flesh - and approached. I've grabbed a few birds in my time and this wasn't any different, other than the size (try to grab around the widest part of the breast with the wings folded to avoid injury to either of you). I had to turn him sideways to get him out of his tight spot.

Unlike the sparrows I've rescued, this hawk never took his eyes off me. He didn't blink. He didn't cry or snap his beak. He just glared, with a look remarkably similar to my cat Skuttle.

You look delicious, mama.

A few steps to open air allowed the hawk to fly away almost as soon as I opened my hands. I went back for my purse and the dead sparrow, who is now resting in peace in my front yard.

Does it mean anything? A hawk chases a sparrow into a parking garage stairwell window, killing its meal and trapping itself.

Have I been the hawk and the sparrow my issues with the van? Am I the sparrow who escaped the hawk of my problems by dying to self and letting God take me out of there? Is the sparrow the van and I should just bury it? So many possibilities.

I'm just grateful I was there to offer aid to both. A hawk shouldn't be trapped in a stairwell, and a sparrow shouldn't be left to mummify. That's as much meaning as I'm willing to ascribe for the moment.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Unorthodox Orthodoxy?

I was going to title this "Unorthodox Solution" but even as I typed, I thought, "No, this is pure orthodoxy. I'm just applying it oddly." So I changed my mind. You can decide if I was right to do so.

This weekend was good in some ways and bad in others. The same cycle of anger, depression, irritability and apathy caught up with me eventually and lasted into the work week. That was unacceptable. Something had to change.

I've listened to Christian radio through all of this (American Family Radio, if you're curious), and whenever a sermon came on, I listened. David Jeremiah is preaching on forgiveness and "leading into temptation" as taught in The Lord's Prayer. The late Adrian Rogers spoke about how the mature Christian needs to suck it up and endure all hardship as God's best for us. I listened resentfully to that one. Michael Yousef had some things to say about forgiveness, too. Sensing a theme?

The bones are there. I have a problem with someone. I feel betrayed. I'm not getting anywhere with being upset about it. It's time to forgive.

I have Biblical backing for this decision, as all those pastors will attest. Jesus told Peter to forgive seventy times seven times the brother who sins against him and repents. Jesus said when you're bringing your gift to the alter and remember you have something against your brother (or he has something against you), go and be reconciled and then return to make your offering. Jesus prayed, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."

Can you tell I'm at the gospel portion of my chronological Bible reading?

OK. Forgiveness. That's not about feeling. It's about will. I must make up my mind to forgive and then do it.

So I did. I sat down with God and told Him I forgive Him and I want to move on. We went back quite a ways, too. All the slights I've held onto for the past 10 years or so. I forgave Him for all of them.

Now, how can I forgive the source of all forgiveness when He's the reason I'm upset? (I'm going to set aside for this moment the question of whether I should be upset with God. The fact is I was and it was getting me nowhere.) Good question. Here's my thinking. By forgiving Him, I remove the barrier that has prevented me from leaning on Him for the grace I've been missing. By practicing His teaching, I'm putting myself back into His will. A stretch? Maybe. Blasphemous? I hope not.

All I can say is a difference appears to have been made. My mantra when those old recriminations surface is "I forgave that" and we move on. My mood is lighter. The change was so noticeable my Best Friend who saw me before and after asked, "Are you really happy or are you faking?" Trust me, I don't "fake" that well.

Unorthodox? Only in the subject matter. The process is absolutely what's He's told me to do.

I have made an appointment to see a doctor and be sure I don't have something chemical happening, too, but the mind leads the body and my mind has been in a very dark place. I'm finally seeing a light. Its Jesus-shaped. 

Oh, and while I was going to keep this to myself because of the oddness of the application, Mom heard a sermon this week about how God breaks us so that we can "share" with others. So I'm sharing. My apologies if it offends. Please forgive me.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Long Weekend

I've had a love/hate relationship with weekends for a while. On the one hand, I deal with people constantly at work and my introvert nature needs some time alone to recoup (as if I could be alone in a house with six cats and a dog). On the other hand, being alone and scheduleless when you're depressed isn't always the best thing. Douglas Adams' Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul starts early on Saturday instead of mid-afternoon Sunday in the Turtle household of late.

TT: Wow, has Douglas Adams been on my mind or what? Must be the depression. 

However, last weekend had the potential to go very badly and instead went rather well. I have similar hopes for this weekend as some bathroom fixing-up takes place. I have a toilet kit in my car to prove it. Oooh, need to buy "thank you" steak. Remind me, will you?

Mom has a car guy friend who has a friend who's willing to tinker on the van a bit. I'm willing to let anyone tinker on the van a bit, and I'm not drawing the line at a two-year old with a hammer. It's not like they can make it worse, and better would mean I keep it and start saving for the next vehicle that will break my sanity. So that transfer should happen this weekend, too.

Starting last night, I have a house guest, Simon the Fox Terrier, who is settling in nicely. He's an 8 year old rescue whose momma for the last four months is away this weekend offering respite for another friend with a husband dying of cancer (once again, what am I depressed about? my life is perfect!). Three cats have been brave enough to face him so far. The rest may spend the weekend in the basement. Shouldn't hurt them a bit.

TT: Even as I write this, Skamper has ventured upstairs and watches from his perch atop the microwave. That makes four. Or three and a half. 

Funny thing. Simon the Fox Terrier was running around the house all nervous, so I decided to keep him on his leash this morning until he gets used to things. He's calmed way down and is currently lying down next to me. Good idea, I guess.

One more happy thing happened yesterday. I had an idea for Price of Justice. A direction. Something that would/should happen next and the inclination to write it down. I've been waiting for that to come for a while, as you know, and I'm as thrilled as my herbally smoothed out self can be. Here's hoping I'll have a little time this weekend to try it out.

Happy Friday, dear readers.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Old Van, New Worldview and Douglas Adams

The answer to Life, the Universe and Everything may be 42, but, as Arthur Dent learned, that doesn't help if you don't know the question.

Read more about my search for answers over at

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Tuesday

Aside from it being Election Day in America, it's also the day after that miserable rainy Monday that I survived without emotional mishap. I was even pleasant to people on the phone, something that hasn't been as common as I would like lately. The St. John's Wort isn't so much pumping me up as smoothing out the wrinkles. Maybe filling the deeper potholes. Something like that. Anyway, one pill in the morning is doing the trick at the moment.

On the recommendation of a friend who's been there, I'm taking "5-HTP" in the evening to see if that helps, too. Got it from the Health Food Store, along with a B-complex vitamin. I don't eat a lot of wheat generally, but I've backed off completely for now and pulled my Blood Type Diet grocery list out of my purse when I'm at the store. Last night's dinner was gluten-free pretzels and Portuguese Green Soup (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach in chicken broth). I even made the soup. 

I'm also trying to keep moving when I'm up. No naps (if what I've been doing could count as napping) until I can sleep through the night again. I've shredded leaves and weeded. Big Brother and Little Sister are coming this weekend to remodel my bathroom in anticipation of Grace's visit. (No worries, Grace. I've wanted to do this stuff for a long time.)

Still looking into a solution on the van issue. Since the Suzuki runs, I'm driving it until my chemicals are balanced, and I can talk about it without crying. I get closer every day.

Haven't yet managed to get back to my WIP, but it may be I can't write trauma while I'm living it. It's OK. That will return, too.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. I encourage you all to practice responsible citizenship and vote your values. God will sort out the rest. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Diluting the Drama

Last night I dreamed I sat in the passenger side of a driverless car speeding through traffic during a supercell thunderstorm and couldn't free my feet to reach the brake pedal.

My brain is telling me something.

I don't want to finish Day Three of the van drama. I come off looking all rational and whatnot, but the fact remains, I'm a mess. Part of it, I think, is a depression that's been building for some time and has chosen this stress moment to truly erupt.

I am in the one place I strive never to be: at the mess-end of a big-assed mistake with no idea how to correct it.

What do I do? Do I spend another $60 to try the "fix" my boss found for the van? That seems rational, until it doesn't work and I'm stranded somewhere worse than my driveway. It also doesn't take into account the PTSD reaction that worsens every time I get into the van. I don't know what has to happen for me to overcome that white-gripped adrenaline rush that has me creeping through the parking garage at 2 mph or parking in the back 40 at the store so the tow truck will have access. I guess if it is fixed and I can't "get over it," I can then sell it with a clear conscience. If it isn't fixed, I'm only $60 poorer.

Do I spend $5K to rebuild the Suzuki engine? This is stupid, I've been told by six men, except I've already been $5K worth of stupid trying something else that six men recommended. I don't have that many $5K mistake cards to play. At least I know the Suzuki. It also leaves me with the unreliable van that my conscience says I should sell to a scrap yard so it doesn't crush the hopes and dreams of the next idiot who doesn't understand what it means to buy a used car.

Do I trade in both vehicles and spend X amount of dollars on a completely different car with a completely different set of problems? I don't mind this solution, except I'm back at square one with "what am I looking for" with the only answer now being "something that runs." I don't even have the option "whatever God wants me to have," because it still appears crystal clear that God wanted me to have Lavender Squeak and that's the thought that has tipped me over the edge so I don't think about it anymore.

Whatever option I choose will be wrong. This should take the pressure off, but if you understand how concerned as I am about doing the "right" thing all the time, it just makes me want to lie down and let the Matmos drown me. 

I'm willing to hear opinions on this. I am completely out of my depth and so far what I've gotten for advice are terse "act like a grown-up and deal with it" pronouncements or pitying "wow, that's a problem" condolences. Please stop assuming I can see whatever path is so brilliantly lit to your eyes. I've never been here before. I don't know what "act like a grown-up" means in this context, or I would be doing it. 

And, frankly, the next person who tells me "it's Satan" is gonna get bitch-slapped. Satan can't do anything God doesn't allow, so let's put the power where it belongs, shall we? It's the only way I'm going to find a real answer to why this is happening to me, even if it's as stupid as "it was time."

Huh. Maybe that's the reason. I think I could live with that.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day Three

I don't intend to continue numbering the days, but there's an appealing ease to those titles. Here's your promised van drama update.

The van didn't start yesterday. Again. Here's why: Chrysler Town & Country Difficulty Starting. You'll have to scroll down a little for the comments. They become more alarming the farther you go.

Yes, Lavender Squeak did exactly that. I tried alarming and unalarming it with the keyfob in between the shut offs, but that made no difference. I sat in a van anti-thefting me, its owner, and stared at the back of my other car that does work but isn't licensed and was blocked into the driveway by the not-working van.

Summation: I have paid to date $4909 on an unreliable, unrepairable vehicle that does not, as far as I can tell, fall under Kansas' Lemon Law. I am not getting that money back. I may as well have set it on fire and roasted marshmallows over it, except I don't like marshmallows.

Four days ago that realization would have sent me screaming down Kansas Avenue to join the homeless, because not-working vans are the least of their problems, but the St. John's Wort kicked in.

I have to sell this van. The last 32 days have taught me I don't have the emotional stamina to do it myself, so I'll have to buy another vehicle from a dealer and trade it in for whatever I can get for it. I wonder if dealers will take two vehicles on trade-in?

I made some phone calls: to my second dad for advice, to a used car dealer that has recently come to my attention, and to the office to explain that I didn't know when I would be back to work because I had to go - for the third time - to the DMV and have my heart ripped out and handed back to me as I tried to license my Suzuki, something I'd tried unsuccessfully to do twice before. During all of these calls, I heard the faint sobbing of a little girl, but I have my own problems so I ignored it as best I could with all my St. John's Wort-induced rationality.

The little girl almost broke free twice at the DMV and twice after those honest-to-God wonderful ladies at the courthouse, Bobbie and Nikki, took me by the hand and made everything OK with the Suzuki. I honestly want God to bless them both with a million dollars for their kindness.

I was able to go back to work, not that much work got done. My boss, upon hearing my van woes and being the kind of person who doesn't take "unfixable" for an answer, found some Internet folk who had success solving this problem by "re-soldering the joints in the circuit board for $60." Of course, an equal number of people on the same site had no success with that same fix.

I took a second St. John's Wort when I got home because the Bad Thoughts and the Sobbing Girl showed up around 7 PM. They remain with me this morning, not as loud as they have been, but louder than I would like.

The tale isn't over, but this post is over-long and I have to get ready for work. For those who are interested, I'll continue the tale tomorrow. For those who aren't, why on Earth have you read this far?

Happy Friday, dear readers.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day Two

While a bunch of crazy writer folk are diving into the insanity of NaNoWriMo, I focus on getting my emotions back in sync.

Yesterday was a success. Not saying I'm cured, not saying the St. John's Wort worked, just saying I had a good attitude and kept moving from sunrise to bedtime and slept through the night for the most part.

I also strained my left wrist using my Leaf Hog, so today I have a muscle tremor that makes it imperative I not hold anything breakable in that hand. It's making typing a little difficult, truth be told.

Today begins the journey of selling the Suzuki. I thought I had a buyer, but he backed out so it's back to Craig's List for me. It may also be a trip back to the DMV, but I am willing to hire someone to do that. I can't face "Angie" again.

Today is also the last bit of homemade German's Chocolate birthday cake for breakfast. I'm sad to see it go but I need to lay off the wheat, so it's a good thing.

I have some litter boxes to clean before work, so have a good day and don't eat too much candy. Your children will notice.

Happy Thursday.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day One

I made good on my threat and bought St. John's Wort last night. It wasn't easy. As I turned down the main street toward Health Food Mart, I spotted an accident between me and that intersection. Figuring God wouldn't cause an accident to prevent me from procuring over-the-counter drugs, I went out of my way and got to the store by another route.

TT: The part about me knowing what God would do is pure sarcasm. I've recently discovered I have no idea what God will or won't do, and I'm determined not to comment on His actions anymore.

When I last took St. John's Wort, it acted like a euphoric and I traded attention to detail for ability to get up in the morning and not cry all day. At the time, it was a fair trade. This time around I expect a less dramatic effect (mostly because I'm not treating a nervous breakdown). I'm hoping it will be more of a mood enhancer that provides energy to do the things I love until whatever potential chemical issue is happening rights itself.

The bottle contains 60 pills. We'll see what happens over the next 30.

On another bright note, my kick scooter arrived yesterday. It's a Lux A5 Razor for adults ('cause I needed the extra weight limit, ehem) and it's totally awesome. It weighs about 10 lbs and collapses into a skateboard-sized bundle for easy storage in Lavender Squeak. Last night's test run shows I'll need some practice but not as much as I feared. It also showed my right leg is stronger than my left, so I have a goal if I want to be an ambidextrous kick scooterer.

Here's a fact: I've always wanted a kick scooter but I never knew they made them for adults. I'm actually really excited to have one.

My last Wednesday started great, too, and turned to a steaming pile of compost, but this is a whole new week with no sign of the DMV on the horizon, so I'm going to think positive until something knocks me unconscious.

Happy Halloween, dear readers. Be safe. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A New Thought

I may be depressed.

Shocking, yes, that I might think this now, considering most of my posts for the last year could be tagged "depression," but when you're in the water, it's hard to see the waves.

I don't have anything to be depressed about. I love my job (haven't starting doing the new job yet, so I can't speak to that). Everybody in the turtle household is healthy. My life has no real problems in it, especially when compared to other people (something I did a lot of while sitting at the DMV). I have no reason to be depressed.

I told My Dear Friend I was considering buying St. John's Wort, something I haven't taken in 15 years, because weekends seem increasingly difficult. "But I don't think it's that bad. Nowhere near what my nervous breakdown was like."

"How bad does it have to be to be depression?" was her innocent question.


I'm always tired. Tears are waiting and ready for any opportunity. I'm snapping at people like an arthritic dog. The smallest problem becomes a huge mountain of horror and incapacitating trauma. Things I used to love doing - working outside, writing, rearranging furniture - are all too "hard" to do anymore. Even if I do them, what's the point? Entropy is Master of the Earth and she will not be conquered.

I may pull out my DSM-IIIR (Diagnositc and Statistical Manual III, Revised) to confirm, but, Doc, I think I'm depressed with depressed and irritable mood.

Guess I'll be stopping by the Health Food Mart.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dirty, Little Secret, part 2

Only 3 days left to buy Star of Justice ebook for the bargain price of $2.99. Tell your friends.
Let's see. When last we left our heroine, I was a broke college grad with friends. Obviously, things could have been worse. Years later, when I started picking up books again, I discovered something important had changed.

I'd grown critical.

Hard to imagine, I know, that unassuming little me would be critical, but there it is. I blame college. I should blame Mr. Freidline, my seventh grade teacher, who laid the groundwork for critical thinking by requiring book reviews instead of book reports, but college built on that foundation. I learned to give my opinion on other people's work and, boy, howdy, did I.

Where once upon a time I would read an awful book all the way to the end because the writer took the time to write it, I learned I can put a book down. I can even throw a book away. Why would I give tripe to the library to contaminate some other innocent?

Spend enough money on enough tripe and my solution was to stop buying books unless I was absolutely, positively certain I would like them. That rarely happened and the reading mostly stopped.

What about books I loved so much they made me want to stop writing because the author did all the possible cool stuff already and I couldn't compete? Had that opinion of Robert Jordan for a while. Praise the Lord he came out with some of those boring Seanchan and Children of Light books somewhere around Seven or Eight or I would never have started Star of Justice.

The worst is when I like the person and not the writing. Has that happened to you yet? Maybe it doesn't happen to non-writers. I've had the unfortunate experience of liking the author a great deal yet finding no interest whatsoever in the writing produced.

(No, I'm not talking about any of you. OK, maybe one. *snort-chuckle*)

That's the moment to put on my big-girl shell and act like a grown-up, whatever that means.

The final nail in my coffin is the work aspect of reading. It's harder to turn on a light and settle my brain into turning script into images than it is to turn on the TV and let images flow into it, especially if I'm not convinced the effort is worth the reward.

So there's my list of excuses, erm, reasons I stopped reading. Anyway, I've got about 5 pages of Kindle books To Be Read and I'm making some steady progress. Lowering expectations and turning off the TV have helped considerably. Robert Jordan being dead hasn't hurt but I'd rather he were still alive.

Last plug: Star of Justice, Amazon Kindle version, $2.99 until Nov 1. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm Kinda Done

Seems writing it all down has helped with the perspective. I continue to believe God is crazy, but I'm also willing to allow He's good.

I sold my Suzuki yesterday, which allowed me to transfer my personalized plate to Lavender Squeak today, something that would not have happened had I not grabbed the wrong insurance paperwork on Wednesday which caused the meltdown I wrote about. Meaning: God worked that out for good.

I waited three hours today and I got the same woman at the DMV (who really didn't like me; I have a witness) but still got the transfer completed. Meaning: God worked that out for good, too.

I cannot say God doesn't care. He has proved to me in two recent, specific instances that He does. I cannot say I understand in the slightest what "God caring" means, but He does. So be it.

I don't understand what I am supposed to have learned from any of this. I don't think I've learned anything useful. I'm almost able to laugh about it, but I haven't been stranded by Lavender Squeak again yet, so we'll see. I'll vent in writing a little sooner, maybe. Spare myself the crying headache.

Anyway, I'm back to normal for now. I'll be finishing my post about reading next time, and in the meantime I'll say, "I'm sorry for being such a brat, God, but you made me this way, so it's really Your fault."

OK, I haven't learned anything. Sigh. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm Still Not Done

After learning that Lavender Squeak would be repaired (minus my $500 deductible), I found some semblance of balance. God would restore my broken gift and take care of me like He always does.

I took it in for its first oil change. When I went to pick it up, I discovered my beautiful van has the design flaw I read about as the one possible caution for this otherwise four and a half star reviewed vehicle.

Apparently, for no discernible or repairable reason, the van's anti-theft system will shut it down at random for four hours to two days at a time. Meaning, without warning or hope of repair, I will be stranded somewhere, at some point in time, for as long as I own this van.

The alarm is part of the van's electrical system. It cannot be removed. No one who reported this problem in the reviews reported a fix. All of those vans had a higher mileage than mine, though, so I hoped that I would have several years and time to rebuild my cash reserves before I had to deal with it, if I ever had to deal with it at all. Surely if it were a common problem, they would have issued a recall. Surely God wouldn't allow me to buy a vehicle with this particular problem. Why would He want me to be stranded somewhere?

Yet this is the vehicle I now own. A vehicle I have no hope of selling. Who would want an unreliable 14 year old van? That's what it is. My only hope is to trade it in to dealer, which is how I got it in the first place, or to really, truly total it, perhaps by driving it off a cliff.

Currently, though, I own two vehicles. A dying Suzuki and an unreliable Chrysler. Both of which I must now tag, insure and pay taxes on. A Suzuki that will give out and a Chrysler that I fear, as I would fear a big dog that bit me badly enough to require stitches and rabies shots.

The final kicker in the story so far? According to the woman at the DMV (where I failed to notice I grabbed the wrong proof of insurance so I couldn't finish what I waited two and a half hours to do), I can't switch my personalized plate (which I've had since I was 15) to the van until I sell the Suzuki. My identity must sit in a field until the dying car is sold. How's that for a metaphor? 

My love story has become a horror story, and it isn't over. I have to go back to the DMV and pay that enormous amount of money during my vacation. I have to try to sell the Suzuki. I have to learn to drive the van without hitting walls, and I have to plan what to do for the day when it doesn't work when I need it to.

What am I learning? That God is a bully, who could give good gifts but would rather teach me a lesson I don't understand. I feel like He gave me an ice cream cone and then knocked it into the litter box.

You know how people always say "I didn't want it when it happened, but I wouldn't change a thing?" Yeah, I don't see me saying that. I don't need a 2x4. I was doing it right, and I got smacked. You know what that teaches me? It doesn't matter how I do it; I'll still get smacked. Here's the thing, though: I won't play if I don't have chance to win. I'm not a fighter. If there isn't a way to do this right, I won't do it. I'll learn to ride the bus. Or walk. Or ride a kick scooter. I won't pound my head into hamburger for anybody, not even me.

I'm angry. I'm trying not to be, and that makes me depressed. Depression is the flip side of anger, you know. Why am I angry? I don't know. I have no right to be, yet I can't stop it. Every time I think I've got a handle, another thing happens because of that van and the anger returns.

I don't want anyone thinking that God is like this to everybody, 'cause I'm pretty sure He's not. I continue to believe in Him; I just don't want to talk to Him right now. And if I'm being completely honest, which I may as well be because I've already told God this while I'm not talking to Him, I'd like Him to apologize. Nothing fancy. Just 40-story letters of fire spelling out "We apologize for the inconvenience."

It wouldn't make me less angry, but it would be something.

This is why I've been a little quiet. It's not a good reason, but it's the reason. I'm not looking for sympathy or lectures. I don't need help or advice. I'm not looking for any kind of response at all, from anybody, even God. Mostly, I'm looking for a way to make sense of it. I hoped writing it down would provide that. Maybe it will.

Not tonight, though. Tonight, I'm upset, and I'm going to bed.

I'm Not Done (or, Time to Vent)

I was going to bed, but I'm waiting for the nighttime cold medicine to kick in, so I may as well finish what I started.

I loved my first car. It was a 1983 Subaru GL-10, and it belonged first to my grandfather and then to my dad. He used to drive me to school in it. We'd listen to Larry Burkette, and I tell him I loved him, and he'd go off to work.

I had to sell that car because it was 13 years old and the engine was going out. If I knew then what I know now, I would have rebuilt the engine. Instead, I bought a red Pontiac I hated. I paid it off and drove it until it almost died, and I bought a white Suzuki I hated. I paid it off and drove it until the engine seals starting leaking.

Three years before that happened, I started praying for a new car. "Lord, I'm gonna need a car eventually. I'm gonna pay cash for it, so I know it won't be great, but I'd like as nice a one as I can get, please."

I've prayed that for 6 years. All I wanted was a dependable car I didn't hate. I wouldn't go over my budget. I would take my time. I would listen hard for God's leading. I'd listen to the counsel of God-fearing people who knew more about cars than I did.

Twenty-four days ago, I thought God answered my prayers. I found a mini-van. I even liked the color. I wasn't pushy. I didn't demand that God give me that van. I was willing to drive away and keep looking because I knew God would answer my prayer for the right car for me. If that wasn't it, I didn't want it.

Circumstances unfolded in such a way as to convince me this was the vehicle God meant for me to have. The price came down further. The two men who went with me (one a mechanic) gave the green light. There was a cd of a sermon from a guy with my brother's name stuck in the visor, for heaven's sake. And I liked it. I really liked it. I handed over the cash, and I drove home happy. I had plans to vacuum it and pay for car washes and drive it for years and years. I didn't care that it had a little rust on the bumper. I was my Lavender Squeak, and she was beautiful.

Four days later, I ran the van into a retaining wall in the parking garage at work.

God gave me a beautiful gift, and I broke it. I didn't mean to, but it was broken, and it was broken badly enough the insurance adjuster gave me the choice to total it.

What does that mean? Does that mean this wasn't the van I was supposed to have? Does this mean I can't have a nice vehicle that I love the way I loved my Subaru? Does it mean nothing at all? And what would that mean? That God would give me the car I wanted and not care that I would break it? Why would He do that? Yes, it was an accident, but He could have prevented it. I would rather He'd given me a POC car if He knew I was going to break it. What am I supposed to learn from this? That God is too stupid to grant the request I don't know I should make, like "Lord, please don't let me run my new van into a retaining wall"? He's the creator of the universe. Shouldn't He know I don't want to do that?

Do you think it sad that smashing my 14 year old van would rock my world view? It took me by surprise, I can tell you.

But how do I run to the same Guy who could have prevented all of this and ask Him to fix it when He knew it was going to happen and did nothing? That says to me it was supposed to happen. My beautiful gift was supposed to be smashed. Why? To teach me some lesson? To provide an opportunity for growth? To reinforce that life sucks? I'm pretty sure I don't need that reinforced. Besides, the God who knows me knows how thoroughly I learn a lesson and how rarely it is the lesson the teacher intended.

My only conclusion at this point is God hit me with a 2x4 for no particular reason at all other than He can. I won't say He doesn't care about me. He made it quite clear that He does. But He doesn't seem to care about this, and I can't quite forgive Him for that.

I keep trying. I keep trying to humble myself and look on the bright side and be the happy little disciple and all I can manage is the fatalism of "none of it matters, so I'll decide not to care." I keep thinking I've made it, too, until something else comes up.

Such as...

6 Things To Know When Buying a Vehicle

1. No matter how careful you are when choosing a vehicle to buy, you will get screwed.

2. No matter whether you buy it outright or with a loan, you will get screwed.

3. When you try to do the right and legal thing when registering your new vehicle, you will get screwed.

4. When you ask God to help you navigate the ins and outs of dealing with your new vehicle, you will get screwed because either He isn't answering or you can't interpret His answers, which amounts to the same thing.

5. Even if you had the ability to sell the lemon you just bought to another sucker or the money to buy a vehicle to replace it, you would still get screwed, so you may as well learn to live with the vehicle you just bought.

6. When you are unable to cope with the reality of getting screwed at every turn, you really have no options except to tough it out and stay away from other living things until your soul dies and you become a hard, empty shell that honestly doesn't care anymore.

Therefore, you won't be hearing from me for a while.

Yes, I'm upset. I don't want to talk about it and I only wrote this down hoping it would help to see it in black and white. I see that it's pretty much how I feel and now I'm going to bed in the slim hope that tomorrow will better, but the likelihood that it will be exactly the same. I do not expect to sleep.

Good night, readers. Happy Hump Day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dirty, Little Secret

I don't read much.

That's like a cardinal sin for a writer. We're told to read, read, read all the time.

I read pre-college. A lot. Not library books, usually, but my brothers' books and my mom's books and books from my grandparents' library in The Big Room and books I bought with my allowance. I read books I like over and over, so I want them close.

I stopped reading when I hit college. I'd like to say I stopped reading anything but textbooks, but that would be a lie. I read just enough of most of my textbooks to make A's, not to master the material.

I really didn't have a clue what college was for. I should post about that.

I learned two unexpected things in college: some people are more interesting than books, and college students can't afford to buy books.

Those truths have followed me around for the last 20 years. Only since the quest for publication began have I once again budgeted money for books. It helps that most ebooks cost about the same as a full-sized paperback from my pre-college days. $2.99 appears to be the magic price point for me.

Ooooo! Reminder: Star of Justice on sale at Amazon for another 9 days. If you haven't bought the ebook yet, go do it!

I've been reading a bit more this year, easing in, as it were, but that leads to other problems. Problems I'll have to discuss tomorrow, 'cause I am out of time today.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Go buy my book.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not So Bad

When I started this road to publication three years ago, I started hanging out with writers.

I knew a bit about writing before that. Most of it was untrained talent from birth, apparently. One of my classmates from elementary school commented at my launch party that I tended to set the class bar too high. "Didn't matter what we wrote, Robynn was gonna do something prettier and better." Or something like that.

Frankly I was so startled by the observation, I didn't pay much attention to the actual words. Bad Turtle.

Elementary school? Did it really go that far back?

During high school, mom and I studied writing. Went to conferences, hung out with local published authors, bought books on writing, that sort of thing. Didn't go anywhere at the time for either of us, but it did provide a nice, realistic base for what the publishing industry was like twenty years ago.

Hasn't changed all that much, folks, FYI. 

As I've said before, though, I was a big turtle in a small pond. When none of your associates care about writing as a skill past the grade on the next test, it's easy to think you're big stuff. You find out how small you are when you seek out other writers.

It's good to have a healthy appreciation of your skill level. Somebody will always be better than you at writing and somebody will always be worse and many will be about the same. Sometimes, though, it's disheartening to see how many are the same or better.

For the last few weeks, I've been helping a normal person with a paper for class. Not a huge paper and way outside my genre, but I've done what I can. Don't know the grade yet. Curious about that.

It reminded me that, small turtle in an ocean of writers that I am, I do know more than the average schooling fish. Considering how severely my current WIP is kicking my tail, I needed that.

Friday, October 19, 2012

23 Adult Truths

Got this in an email. Had to share.

23 Adult Truths
1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind-of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay.
17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.
18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Which Way Do You Want To Go

Remember that scene from Labyrinth when Sarah is suspended in the shaft of the oubliette by all those Helping Hands and they ask her to choose up or down?

I'm kinda there.

With Star of Justice, the second half of the book was easy. I'd been writing toward it for two months. My favorite scene was clear in my mind's eye, and after that happened, "what happened next" was obvious.

Elementals was harder, but, again, the ending was clear. For that story, I just had to figure out how to get everybody at that crucial end point. Yes, I nearly went bald working that out, but I did it.

I don't have a favorite scene in Price of Justice. Not one I'm writing toward anyway. This time around, I find out I like a scene after I write it. That's nice for me, but no good when it comes to deciding "what happens next."

I'm at that point when the roller coaster officially starts to climb. I have to have some great climax, but I can't see what it is, mostly because I can't see a happy ending. I hate that.

This is why I haven't been writing. I don't know what happens next. I'm not sure how to get that vision. I guess I just write on and hope I like what comes out.

I'm starting to think I'm the one paying the price of justice, not my characters. Yes, Elder Brother, that's whining. I'm not sorry, either. :P

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Focus, Turtle-san

Been having trouble putting my shell in the chair and my claws on the keyboard. Maybe I need a plan.

Find out what it is over at

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Excerpt from Devil's Hit List by Frank Creed

On the first floor, Vanderleer picked up Bernard, threw him over a shoulder, and hurried through the lower level bars. Bernard still grasped the briefcase.
I rushed into the holding cell area and jumped over the handrail. The bars began sliding shut.
With a burst of speed, and a slide on my knees on the slick cement floor I got my body into the electric eye that kept the steel barred gate from crushing anyone.
As I squeezed through the re-opening gate, pain exploded in my leg and I was nearly deafened by gunshots—only my reformed hearing kept my ears from ringing. Bullets from above hit my coat, and one struck me in the shin—it did not hit bone, and I thanked the Boss for a clean through-and-through shot. Apex Predator stood in the doorway holding a big ugly automatic pistol.
I limped around the corner and found the switch in the lower control office to close the bars. I pushed it in hopes it would slow those who followed. They had another switch upstairs so I knew it wouldn’t stop them. I also left a trail of blood, making finding me easy for them as a paint-by-numbers set.
After my prey I jogged, pain in every step as my reformed healing knit tissue, too slowly for my taste, but dozens of times faster than a normal person heals.
The open double doors to this control office led into an L-shaped hallway. I could go straight or right. I stood silent a moment, listening over my thumping heart. I picked up footfalls—rushing down steps—straight ahead. But I also heard breathing less than a meter around the corner.
Moving like running water, I leaned into the hall and reached out.
A sec-man waited there holding a revolver in a two handed grip.
I touched the pistol and discharged my shock glove.
I left him to his impression of spilled jelly on the floor, and ran straight. The left side of the hallway opened in an atrium to showcase a large wide stair of shallow steps that descended in a large square. Tall green plants grew upward in the square’s center from the basement level, and vines hung from flowerboxes around the ground floor.
I’d have hopped a railing here, but landing on my injured leg would hurt so bad that only my mindware would keep me from blacking out, and coming down on the granite steps could further damage me. So I limped down the square stairs, falling further and further behind my quarry, hoping nobody would appear from behind me and that nobody would pop up from below. This course put me in the basement level; considering the skills of those who chased me, a scary thought. I put off thoughts about being trapped and anxiety slipped out of its cage in my soul’s dungeon.
At the bottom of the stairs I passed through a locker room with benches and sinks. Though the room had seen use, it still smelled like new construction.
At the room’s far end, double doors swung slightly. Staccato automatic gunfire sounded from their far side. I still had my pistols out.
I cracked one of the doors open. From here I could see the elevator, again. Boot steps rushed toward me and I backed around the corner. A six-man squad burst through the double doors like the Devil was behind them.
Wherever I saw skin—the backs of hands, foreheads, necks—my targeting system went to work. Pop, pop, pop, I gunned them down before they even realized I was there.
I reloaded fresh clips into my pistols and eased the door open, scanning for more targets. There were none.
In front of the elevator lay Bernard’s briefcase. Thrill also escaped its cage and I scooped up the treasure. The CV Frankenstein might get away from me, but this was a nice score.
The station’s underground parking area was mostly filled with new security vans. An overhead door trundled open, and my prey, in a van, sped toward it… escaping.
Full automatic machine-gun fire, roared a long burst.
A tiny tank shot at the vehicle’s tires, but the bullets had no effect. The bulletproof sec-vans must run solid rubber on their wheels.
Then the thirty-caliber Browning turret turned slowly toward me. I stepped slightly to the side of its aim. Howdy partner, I said, not really able to guess if it was Legacy or Barren inside.
Hey, CK, need a set of wheels? asked Barren.

What are your contact links: web sites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter links, your book's page, etc.?

Hang out with Frank:

Devil's Hit List Amazon link (print):
Devil's Hit List Amazon link (kindle): http://tinyurl.com/92j7amx 
My publisher has other great Christian spec-fic: http://www.splashdownbooks.com/

Blog Tour Links:

Caprice Hokstad         
Travis Perry    
Paul Baines     
Kat Heckenbach