Friday, February 29, 2008

I love email.

Have I mentioned that I'm not the best when I it comes to staying in touch with folks who are worth staying in touch with?
Why, yes, I think I have.
Well, here's another perfect example...
I got an email this week from someone I hadn't heard from in 2 years. (Have I mentioned that I love the internet? Why, yes, I think I have.)
Jim provided much needed encouragement, comic relief, a gathering spot for our writer's group (SPAM was it's official moniker, but that's another story...) and he was in large part responsible for keeping the last few threads of my sanity from fraying (it would probably be more accurate to say he was in large part responsible for keeping me from going totally wing-nut, but I'm trying to play down my nut-hatch eligibility, even in the past tense) when I went through a particularly rough patch a few years back (and I'll bet he doesn't know this).
He contacted me to congratulate me for getting into the semi-finals of the ABNA Contest.
That made me feel pretty darn good: A writing mentor from my past shows up out of the blue and gives me a pat on the back. I needed that. And coming from Jim it means a lot (Thanks, Jim).
As it turns out, I should be the one congratulating him.
And here's why:
He has a new book out!
Jim Lambert recently published The Winds of Life.
I haven't got my mitts on a copy of this book yet, but I know I have to read it. And not just because this is what he has to say about it:
"The poems in the book cover the entire gamut of emotions from the death of my sister to my reaction to being named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”"
The main reason I'll be adding it to my bookshelf is because I've had the pleasure of reading some of his unpublished writings, so I know the book has got to be good.

You can order the book at his website or over at Amazon.

I'll tell you more about it after my copy gets here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Amazon Novel Contest

I did not make the next cut.

I wanted to let you guys know, but more importantly, I want to thank all of you who showed your support. Writing is lonely and your support really means a lot to me.
THANK YOU for the great show of encouragement! I needed that :).

I don't feel too bad about not advancing. There were quite a few really good excerpts that did not advance, so I feel as if I'm in good company. Just making it into the semi-finals really felt good. It was the first time that I've put a large project out for public review. Mostly, especially at first, it was scary, but also, it made me realize that my writing IS interesting. Odd perhaps, sometimes, but interesting and worthwhile.
Getting an outside opinion was exactly what I needed. So, I'm still writing and plan to continue, though not exclusively as I have several other worthwhile and interesting things going on, too.

So, what about Vultures?
I'm putting it back on the shelf.
Yes, really. I'm working on another book project, though I anticipate it taking two-three years to complete. At that time, I'll probably take another look.
In the meantime, I'm still writing some magazine articles, blogs, of course, and a couple of short stories.

Tonight PC and I are kayaking.
Only it's not all that adventurous: it's in the YMCA pool.
Hey, I've gotta start somewhere, right?

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Why is Congress holding hearings on drug use in baseball?
Don't they have something better to do?

Iraq? Warrantless wiretapping? Re-examining the crappy economic stimulus package?

If they really want to talk about drugs, maybe they should take a look at pharmaceutical companies.

Oh, wait, they can't do that. It would jeopardize their campaign funds.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Quick Check

What have I been doing?

  1. Research for what will probably be my next book. I've had two false starts this past year and, even with all the other stuff going on, I hope to make this idea stick. A 75,000 word novel...? Anyway, I spent several hours today looking through wills from as early as 1844 through 1950. Much more to say, but moving on.... (I said this was a quick check, remember?)
  2. Floor planning for The 123. Using my own brain (including common sense and construction know-how), multiple books, & our consultants, I've come up with a floor plan. That I will alter. Again. And again.... I'm getting closer, though.
  3. Getting outside as much as possible even though the weather is crappy in an attempt to stave off (is that a real usage for 'stave' or am I making it up?) the winter blues.
  4. Looking for a giant coffee cup. Really.
  5. Building The 123's new website and trying to organize it so that it makes sense. I want to pack in tons of info, but it's bare bones right now; I'm building and leaving room without making it seem too skimpy right now. Or at least I'm trying.
  6. Drawing pictures of what the outside main entrance will look like.
  7. Trying to keep the laundry pile from taking over the basement.
  8. Trying to keep the dirty dishes from taking over the kitchen.
  9. Trying to keep the kids from taking over my sanity.
  10. Trying to keep the dog's foot from getting infected.
  11. Trying....

So, lots of 123 stuff. Lots of normal stuff. Lots of stuff.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bruises, Book-Moving Spree, & Publications

I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I'm just a wee bit nuts.
Okay, sometimes more than a wee bit, but I'm not going to discuss that here (Oops, wait a minute; keep reading.)

Anyway, I know I cannot be the only one who does this:

I have a very dark, painful, BIG bruise on the inside of my leg right above my knee (no, I'm not taking a picture - it's as big around as an average orange), and I have no idea how it got there. I don't remember whacking it, but I am very aware of it everytime I cross my legs when I'm seated or when I'm lying down on either side and my knees are touching.

I have tried to figure it out, but no recollection.

I have been doing this my whole life, even when I was a kid. Come to think of it, my kids do it, too. I don't disbelieve them when they say, "I don't know" to a horrible looking bruise on their (usually) shins, even though it HAD to be painful when it happened.

For me, I think it must happen when I'm concentrating on something else. For this particular bruise, it must have been sometime during the recent book-moving spree, but I cannot remember when.

Book-moving spree:
Two doors down from The 123, there's a fellow who's vacating the 4th floor. He doesn't live there -never has- but he has been storing things there for years. For the past two weeks he has had a crew of men sorting through and moving everything. He offered all the old books to me (okay, he offered after I asked, because I am a bibliophile) and I couldn't turn them down. I didn't even look first, I just said, "I'll take them!"
Thankfully, the guys helped me move them down the stairs (Thank you!). All three LONG flights of stairs. They had a dolly cart and were able to haul 5-6 boxes each trip. I ran up and down the stairs and hauled one box each trip (I counted it as my workout for the day). We stacked them randomly just inside the door of The 123, which means we were in the way of construction. So, I had to move them UP the stairs (all 22 of them) to my office (without exaggerating, there are 30-40 boxes of books, so I counted hauling them up to my office as a workout, too.)
The past couple of days, I've been unpacking them from their boxes and stacking them randomly on the floor, just to get an idea of what's there.
A large percentage of the books (20-30%) were published before the turn of the century. The LAST century (publicaton dates between 1850-ish and 1899!). A smaller percentage are related to West Virginia, so I'm excited to go through those more closely. There are magazines (in wonderful shape) from the 1920s, 30s, & 40s. There's Girls Life and Cosmopolitan, among others. The oldest (in good shape) that I've found is a Cosmopolitan from 1894!

The one thing that has struck me as significant in the cursory inspection is how similiar the ads are to today's "Buy Me!" freak show. Even in the 30s magazines, there is no hint of the Depression; they intend to sell their products, Depression be damned. I guess I always had this idea that we are living in an increasingly materialistic society - and it was a relatively new state of being. If I can extend my idea of relative, I may be right, but from what I've seen of the 100 year old magazines, not much has changed in the world of materialism and advertising in that amount of time.
As I go through all these books and mags in detail, I'll share some of the more interesting things I find.

My deadline last week was for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Mother's Day article for the Wonderful West Virginia Magazine. This is the first time I was asked to write an article (normally, I write the article -or have an idea for an article- and approach the editor of the publication I would like to publish it in) and I did not hesitate before shouting, "Yes! Absolutely! No Problem! When do you need it?" If I hadn't been so excited, I probably would have tried to sound less desperate, but being asked, instead of having to ask, made a HUGE difference to my ego. Desperate or not, I wasn't turning it down (I also don't care if I was asked because I'm the only contributor who lives in or near Grafton - I am still happy).

For those of you who don't know, the observance of Mother's Day as we celebrate it today (and as it was signed into law in the United States) originated here in Grafton, Taylor County, WV. The International Mother's Day Shrine, on the National Register of Historic Places, is located on Main St. If you're looking for something to do with your mother, this is a great place to visit. Mother's Day would be a good time, but our small town will be packed. However, you don't have to wait on Mother's Day, you can plan to come at any time; take at look at the schedule of events for the year. I'm pretty excited about the (black-tie) Ball at the B&O Railroad Heritage Museum; it'll be like stepping back in time to the boom days of Grafton as a major railroad hub.

Anyway, this particular article will be coming out in May.

I have another one (actually, a two-part story) that's scheduled to come out in the March issue (continued in the April issue) of the Wonderful West Virginia magazine. It's about, wait, I'm not telling you right now. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but I'm getting kind of long-winded today, so I'll save it to share with you when I'm doing my usual wildly excited "I'm a published author!" publication dance (that my family laughs at me for). Maybe the novelty of publication will wear off and I'll quit dancing everytime something I write gets printed.
But I doubt it.