Change. Aaaauuuuggghhhh!

Especially email addresses. Double Aaaauuuugggghhh.

That vague sense of impending shifts started a few months back. Both Long Suffering Husband and I poked at the idea of changing email addresses. Twenty some years is long ago and far away in tech universe but all our stuff was connected to the old address. I could send attachments, locate contacts, use group mailing lists, do all my business stuff at a keystroke.

But we both ‘felt a disturbance in the force’ kinda. How long would that old address actually work? What if the platform, gasp, updated? And really, what does that mean anyway? I still think of a platform as a wooden structure with support beams, nails assembled for someone or something to stand above eye level. A place to speak from. Now, it’s a mythological abstract you can’t physically touch. But it shifts and business as usual, doesn’t.

Ewww.

Embarking on the trek into getting contact lists reset, contacting each and everyone in our world to let them know Our Email Address Has Changed.

When it’s done and I relearn how to do all the stuff I knew how to do with the old system, in the new way, I will celebrate and stop rolling my eyes. Okay, I won’t really stop rolling my eyes but the comfort levels of how to do anything will be better.

Notice all that future tense stuff? ‘Cause right now, I’m TENSE.

Change? What Change?

Oh, yeah, that change.

Ewww.

Next blog post, I promise, no whining. Well, not as much or on the same topic or maybe even in the same universe. But don’t hold your breath. It requires change, you know. And we all know how that works.

 

Setting Goals

Setting goals is a learning process for me. I’m pretty good at the outset, not so hot at the follow-up. For all my whining about artificial constructs, cultural expectations and the tyranny of the urgent, turns out I need a form to follow, a deadline to meet and consequences faced.

Bored yet?

Me too.

Gonna blame the weather for it. Winter—not my favorite season. Still, turns out I need down time, confined and confirmed to finish some projects. Not a cold wind aficionado nor a wet, cloudy day person. Those days drive me inside, huddled into fleecy blankets with the space heater full blast. Accompanied by a hot cup of tea, coffee, apple cider. Fingerless gloves of course and wool socks.

Ahhh. Even writing this makes me feel warmer.

Let’s see, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Goal setting.

Ahem.

The need for goals. And how to set them.  That sends a chill down my spine. And up my nose. But I do it because if I don’t, chaos ensues. Left to my own inclination, those ideas in my head would be only in my head, books unwritten, dreams drifting away on spring breezes. Today, I am fulfilling the goal of a blog post written every week. And a new section of a concept laid out daily.

Sounds crazy, huh?

Except the blog post gives me space to open the trunk in my head, delight in one of the old cardboard file boxes, get lost in there for a bit, playing find-the-point-before-I-lose-it. And the section thing? Attempting something I’ve never done before. New territory not on my map at all. Much like trying figure out how to spell words the internal dictionary can’t decipher.

The really fun part? A sense of accomplishment sneaks around the corner of my brain, twinkling at me, then running off to the deeper parts of my character, giggling. Silly writer, tricking me into Getting Things Done.

Crazy. The things you learn when you do housework.

Crazy.

The things you learn when you do housework. And the things you wished you learned before you started. Two very different things.

The thing I learned? That dish liquid must be very strong. I cleaned my oven for the first time in a while. It’s self cleaning but last time I did that cycle, we burned out one of the heating elements. That’s part of one of those things I wished I knew before I started cleaning.

So, still have the oven and it still works, just not as efficiently. And until last Saturday, still grimy. Got an idea off Pinterest to use dish liquid. Turns out if I pour dish liquid on burned on stuff, leave it to soak for about 30 minutes, a lot of the baked on yuck comes off. With a good bit of help of course, but it does work. So, not a total Pinterest fail.

Now the oven is mostly clean and next time I will pour dish liquid on the burned parts, soak and then clean.

The other thing I wished I knew before I started? That my hips, shoulders and thighs are not 35 anymore. Sore in lots of places that I didn’t know I had. Today much better.

And tomorrow will be even better, ‘cause I don’t have to clean the oven again for awhile. I promise, no house hold hints from me. Merely a few house hold rants from time to time.

Oh, and I did get the second book out on  Amazon. Now have MotherLove and Kiss’N’Kill on Kindle and paper. Currently working on a writer’s prayer journal, to be followed by a collection of short stories.

Not really sure what to call the shorts but I do know what the cover will look like. It will have a big bowl of popcorn, a bottle of wine and two pink fuzzy house shoes. As if I’m reading, eating popcorn and drinking wine. Sounds like a lovely evening of fun.

There are lots of good/bad things to be discussed. Like if YouTube is a curse or a blessing. I think both cause I’ve been able to catch up on Nero Wolfe, lots of British mysteries and loads of yarn things. Not really sure if my LSH is as happy with YouTube as I am but he tolerates it.

All this does go under the Things You Learn when you do stuff and the Things You Wished You knew before you Began it. most of my life goes that way. The next project to be tackles will be getting my website corrected on the content stuff. And I’m not much into how to Promote ThySelf so to Sell Thy Books.  Oh, boy. As in, not yah but must do.

I sort of rank that stuff as less fun than scrubbing floors. At least with floors, my intelligence will not be insulted by electronic stuff that is supposed to be ‘intuitive’ whatever that means. Ah, me. Enough whining for now.

Words, Words, Words

Long ago and far away, the BeeGees did a song called Words. The line It’s only words, and words are all I have” illustrates a sliver of where this post is going.

Words make all sorts of pictures, emotions and constructs jump around, bumping into each other, falling over, vanishing and morphing inside me, prompting new lines of thought, old mental anchors, these lovely toys of life.

It meshes together most of the time, not always.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

That proverb talks about being careful who you hang around with, because the other guy always has plans. And who you hang with, you begin to think like.

…for out of the abundance of the heart, his heart speaks. Matthew 6:45

The first part of that verse contrasts a good person’s words and an evil person’s words, ending with what’s in the heart comes out in the words. Again, who you run with, runs inside you to emerge from your mouth.

Don’t usually quote but today, because I’m still rummaging inside the huge boxes in that attic of my imagination, quotes feel appropriate. Plus, this idea of words being tools to move, adjust or direct that vague construct we call culture suggests I examine every tool I make use of.

I work in American English but the threads come from all over. Robert Frost to Robert Heinlein, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Rex Stout, boxes labeled or not, I use ‘em all. The goal is to use ‘em well.

It’s a beginning. For now.

Ventures

Here I am working on a new venture. Okay, so not really a venture, and not really new. I mean, the blog is on-going, with an entry every week on Mondays. At least it better be ‘cause I set it up that way.

Technology and I often have these deep philosophical arguments so what I intended may not have occurred. Crazy part is, I’ve used passive voice in so much of this entry, it will have to rewritten. New goal for the year, recognize and squash passive voice as much as possible. Or in this case, leave it in as a slap at technology.

Take that! You mindless machine. As I hear a sniggling chuckle in key clacks.

The new venture I meant is I’m writing a writer’s prayer journal. Didn’t want to kill myself so I opted for a 90 day length. And if I keep to a schedule of three entrys a day, will complete it in a month or so. Heavy on the “or so”. I set goals and schedules. They do not always agree. With me or each other.

A couple of other projects are chugging along. The newest book Kiss’N’Kill is now out on Amazon, kindle and paper versions. That means two book available. And I dipped into the realm of Author Page and Look Inside.

Sounds like something in a fantasy novel. Kinda is, for me at least. For all my moaning about technology, when it works, it is a wonder. To be able to have a print book out there within days or weeks is amazing.

Since I have four other completed manuscripts and a couple of dozen short stories, I can begin final edits and unleash the hounds into the world. Should be interesting. Have also found a new beta reader. A couple actually. That means I get to show the almost ready stuff, get feedback and keep going.

The Nora Holmes series will be completed when the last two books get out of my head and into the computer. Got another book lurking on the horizon but I’m putting it off so I can concentrate. And people wonder where writers get their ideas.

Mostly we try beating them back into order until we get a few hours sleep. I am not the only one. I know. Don’t ask how I know. I just do.

Speaking of, I must go and do some beating back right now. Before the horde escape into that back closet I call a notebook. Last time they managed to get into government files and we who follow the news…well, best left unsaid.

 

Tenses, Senses, Voice

Had a delightful conversation the other day with a fellow writer. We got into the fun stuff of past/present/future tense and that thing about first, second or third person point of view. You know, voice stuff on paper.

When I mention these topics to Long Suffering Husband, he smiles gently, sips his by now cold coffee and heads for the microwave to zap the coffee into life.

‘Cause that topic is as exciting to him as day old oatmeal. Cold, dry and kind of sticky.

Which is okay with me. I married him for lots of other reasons, not his none existent literary bend. He reads tax info, technical journals and diagrams. His baby blues (which are stunningly blue by the way) twinkle about other stuff.

Happy sigh.

Another writer buddy Angela Gutwein, recently finished her book, done in first person, present tense. Which has got to be the hardest thing in the world. And she did it magnificently. All emotional filters, gone. Immediate visceral impact? Enormous.

The book, Flying Lessons, will be out in a few weeks and I can hardly wait. The story, amazing and uplifting. Even in the gut-punches.

I learned so much reading and critiquing her manuscript, my own stuff is better for it. That’s the mark of a good read. It impacts your life in ways you never imagined.

Which is why I was talking to another writer about it. And her terrific way of holding to the right way to tell her story.

Forty years ago, stories were usually told in third person passive, past tense. “She began to touch the knife. She felt her fingers trembling.

Today, more like “She touched the knife, fingers jittering.”

She did the action, now. Wasn’t done to her or around her.

Today, sentence structure crisps or softens to carry the flavor intended for impact. Sometimes, in fiction, grammar is sacrificed for impact.

‘Cause I needed it. In that sentence.

Words are tools, always have been. Rules help communication stay clear, appropriate and focused. As writers we must know when to hold to the rule and when to ignore it. If ya want the focus to shift, ya gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

Didn’t steal that line from Kenny Rogers, but from my dad who made a wild attempt to teach me how to play poker. Cards, smards. Would rather tell stories about the Joker and the Ten of Clubs.

Dialogue, my fav.

Everyone of you knew what I meant, even when it wasn’t English literature level. English is a funny language, with American racing into the wild.

Another book on the shelf.

Boy oh boy. Another book on the shelf.

And that is only half the story. Faithful Reader, by the time you read this, my second book will be on Amazon. Even though it’s all submitted, processed and ready for reading, the proof copy is not yet in my hand. After that, I can hit the final button and it’s out there in the world.

Kiss’N’Kill. Ah, sweetness.

Turns out, this process of having a document available for public perusal is almost if not more work than writing and editing the thing. Who knew?

Me, now.

With the patient, noble help of the writers group (Heart & Soul), my knowledgeable, kind editor Lisa Bell, lots of prayer and the delicate maneuvers of God Almighty, the second book grew from a lovely little germ to a delightful stalker novel. For others to read

Contented smile.

Human frailty is a glorious mine with thick veins of dark/light riches. People are such fun and such messes and their stories call out to be told. In a thousand voices.

The business of getting that story out to other eyes is much rougher than it looks like. Sort of like the sun-kissed mountain top, beckoning the hero onward. Past the dry, windswept desert, with no oasis in sight.

Distant mountain birds call out, and the faint aroma of sweet spice trees, with a delicate hint of water trilling through mossy stone channels call to the hero. They are there, on the horizon, just out of reach, waiting to be experienced.

Sand-laden grimaces bar the way. Desert promises of despairing pain, must be traversed. There are guides, stalwart individuals with hidden knowledge. They can help but first, they must be found. Some appear to be guides, false images, thin paper shredding in the night howls of desert jackals.

And I have crossed the Desert of Dis-publishing. Next is the Wandering Paths of Gathering Readers. Beyond this there be dragons….

No, no, no. Wrong direction.

Beyond this is a new test. The Gathering of readers start in small ways, sometimes including exploding balloons. Or that unknown animal, the Book Launch. I will be scouting out the track of this one. Later.

For now, enjoying the moment.

Now that I am almost conscious…

Well, not necessarily conscious, more like today that sticky feeling inside my brain subsided enough so that when someone talks to me, I can formulate a response in less than 5 minutes. Yesterday, more like a 10 minute delay.

And to that end, I profusely apologize to everyone. Even though the fingers were able to work in the previous post, it does not mean the brain had anything to do with what emerged on the screen. Whatever it was.

Now to second apology. Got a new phone and somehow I lost the ability to open or receive emails to my Noble Obligations email account. Heavy sigh. Technology and I are not always friends. Or on speaking terms. So the job today is to contact my tech guy to have him show me (one more time. And the last time, I promise. Or rather hope.) how to fix the issue.

Okay. I have officially done all I had to do in the way of making EveryThing Clear. As if that’s really ever finished. But I do intend it to be so.

In my head, it’s the Jean Luc Picard line from Star Trek: Make it so!

In reality, it more like: Sorry, Oops. Sorry. Let me try again. Duct tape, anyone? Or a nail file?

 

Ahhhgggghhhh.

I hate being sick, under the weather, not up to par, dragging lower than a snake’s belly, whatever you call it. Especially that nasty space of time when you first wake up, feeling pretty good. You’re not dead, no real aches in bones or muscles, temp is good. Then you stand up.

Oh no.

The nice ‘I’m good’ feeling skitters away like a wad of disturbed cockroaches, leaving an out-to-sea-foggy mind, the head dips a bit, then a twinge of ache, nose starts clogging and the day begins again. So, no, I’m not good, yet.

Of course the next stage isn’t much better. Which is today. I feel good enough to enjoy being sick. Which means I’m whiny, crabby and no fun to be around. Especially for me.

But I’m stuck with this semi-sick person in my own body. Even Netflix doesn’t help, ‘cause I’m not functioning enough to figure out the remote. Need a clearer head for that on a good day. And this isn’t one of them.

What can I do? Ah, well, type. And by now, keyboarding is close enough to natural that I can power up the machine and start writing. Long Suffering Husband also had a bout with whatever this particular wog is and brilliant man that he is, he sat in his recliner and did nothing. No interacting outside of the necessary. Sleeping as often as he could. So he’s on the mend all the way to helping the daughter with a door bell issue today.

Ah, that I should be so wise.

So, today, I am following his example. Doing as little as possible, drinking lots of water, fruit juices, a bit of soup, whatever actually sounds good to consume. Which is a short list.

Had great plans to prepare a thoughtful, deep-digging post on developing scenes. Oh, wait, no. That was for me to sequence the next scenes in the murder mystery I’m working on. For the blog, it was something else, which at the moment is lost in the mental ether disrupting coherent thought.

So, y’all, this will have to do.

Next week, I promise. Rational thought. Or at least the closest I come to it.

Memories

Been thinking. Again. Yes, I know, it can lead to strange places, but a few of them I know. And if you read this blog much, you’ll know some of them as well.

Took a weekend trip to Oklahoma, getting back last night. It was fun to see what’s new, what’s not, and what was never there in the first place. Memories are funny things, and when I snagged on something I thought but was never, it jolted me. Like the building downtown that I remember as much bigger and grander, but in reality, a small sandstone block façade that had only one window in the front.

In my head, that building was a grand corner structure, with tall arches and a huge front window. It housed a bank, and the building next door, also hewn sandstone, was a law office, with glittering letters revealing the name of the partners, to be marveled at. The narrow street door guarded the entrance to the law office, and in my mind’s eye, it would reveal a gracious lobby, genteel office staff working to provide quiet, stately meeting rooms.

Across the street, the big TG&Y store boasted wide glass window, emblazoned with prices and promises of the goods inside. This weekend, I couldn’t actually find it. The window? Replaced with gentrified fake old fashioned glass openings. With three different boutique store names.

My favorite store, Katz Department store, now a trending eatery.

So no more round upholstered couch inside by the jewelry counter, the smell of chocolate and popcorn drifting in from across the store at the fine candies department. I loved sitting on that couch, waiting for my mom to finish her shopping from the fabric department. I could watch people through the front windows or as they moved around the store.

A gracious murmur of service, business and awareness.

All in a child’s mind.

Because it’s mixed up with images from books about New York city. Because I was the oldest girl of six kids (two older brothers) and as the usual baby sitter, I didn’t have the luxury of sitting on a nice seat in the store. Mom wouldn’t allow it.

“That furniture is for grownups. You keep the little ones quiet while I pay the lay-away.”

In truth, we sat in the car, parked in front of the store. Because that what kids did when I grew up. Winter, summer, warm or cold, we waited in the car. Contained and restrained by the knowledge that when Mom came back, she’d know who hit who, why the baby was awake or asleep, and how if anyone got out and then back in the car.

She’d know. Moms do that. We didn’t know how but she did.

Memories.