Happy Earth Day!!

Earth Day Flag

 

I haven’t seen much coverage for Earth day this year, since Prince passed away yesterday, but today is the 46th Earth Day. The first one was held in 1970.

The Baby Boomers and my generation, which I guess I am part of X, will be remembered as the generations who did very little about global warming and pollution. Frankly, when we were younger we always said it would be better when our generation came to power, but I’m 46 and I haven’t seen a lot of change.

But, instead of focusing on the whole environment, I want to talk about recycling. I pay an extra $5 a month to have a recycling contained along with my garbage. Why doesn’t the state, city, or county give incentives to waste management companies so I don’t have to pay the extra fee? Because that would require taxes. My recycling company recently sent me a letter saying they would no longer accept glass because the one glass recycling facility in our area has closed because it wasn’t profitable. What? How can we let this happen? It’s happening everywhere apparently.

The United States sets a poor example. We create lots and lots of trash, yet we are in the lower middle quadrant in terms of the percentage of trash recycled.

Do you recycle? Is it even offered in your area? I wish I could do more.

A Universal Disclaimer

I’m married to a lawyer, and we often joke about the warning labels, or the warnings that they include at the end of commercials for a new drug treatment.

For one of her school projects, my 12-year old daughter wrote I now believe is the universal a disclaimer.

Stop_sign_us

 

The product above does not reflect the opinions of me, my friends, my parents, or my cat. Safety goggles may be required for use. Keep in a cool dry place. If ear irritation occurs call your local doctor. If ear irritation persists call your mom. Slippery when wet. Not responsible for a refund if the following happens: Fire, water, volcanic eruptions, gas leaks, sunburn, stickiness, pain everywhere, pimples, zits, skin discoloration, comas, seizures, breaking of bones, loss of mental awareness, loss of physical awareness, wetness, explosion, inability to turn off, inability to come off, inability to breathe, inability to move, inability to change facial expression, inability to talk, inability to write, inability to read, or death.

There you have it, folks. If you need a disclaimer, feel free to grab this one.

I’m getting ready for a big announcement, so if you want to be one of the first ones to hear, sign up for my newsletter here.

 

Stop sign us” by DoriOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day – I think

Trashed Roses

Broken Heart, or Dead Flowers?

I am really not sure who today’s holiday is for.

Girls/women over the age of 16 who are otherwise well adjusted get upset if they aren’t part of a couple.

Boys/men over the age of 16 who aren’t dating rejoice that they don’t have to participate in this “commercial holiday.”

Couples who have been married a while don’t want to deal with the hassle of going out on the most crowded night of the year. My husband and I fit that category.

Women in relationships over a certain length of time have hope there will be a proposal today, but invariably they are disappointed because that’s just too overdone.

Guys trying to impress that new girlfriend spend way too much money or rack their brains to do something different or non-cliche.

So, to sum up, best I can tell, the only people that enjoy the holiday are little kids before puberty (because the candy) and women who have been dating less than a year who don’t expect a ring but whose boyfriend still wants to impress. So, for that subset of the population, enjoy your day. (Another exception is couples celebrating their anniversary on Valentine’s Day — they have a different excuse, right?)

For the rest of us, celebrate love in your own way, whether you are single or married or divorced or widowed or whatever. My husband says he is cooking dinner, which works for me as long as he cleans up after. :)

Remember that romantic love isn’t the only kind of love, and the legend is that St. Valentine sent handwritten cards. Not diamonds or rubies or flowers. The big consumer machine got you good on this one.

Art Imitating Life

Every writer gets asked this question from time to time, and it comes in different forms. How do you come up with all those stories? Where do you get your ideas?

For my embezzlement plot arc, I studied different cases online, looking at some of the techniques and Ponzi schemes that have been prosecuted lately. I’ve worked in offices for most of my adult life, and some of that is drawn from events I’ve seen.

Some of book three is taking place in Venezuela, and there were actually some big international crime rings busted from Venezuela, so I’m looking at some of that for inspiration.

There is one scene in No Strings Attached that was ripped from the headlines of my life, and that’s when an employee is let go near the end of the book. This particular employee is eating a muffin while she is being terminated, and its’ sticky, and she doesn’t know what to do with her hands. Awkward. I thought so.

Chocolate.jpg

“Chocolate” by André Karwath aka Aka – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Because it happened to me. I was in a terrible job, looking for another one, but nothing was panning out yet. I went to work every day telling my husband that I might quit soon. The kids were young, 3 and 4, and if I pulled them out of their preschool they would lose their slots. If I wasn’t working I couldn’t pay the preschool tuition. It was a Catch-22, so I had held on, looking but not ready to let go of the job that I had.

Right before Christmas, my boss’s boss called me into his office.  I had been there almost three months, and it was a bad fit. I knew it. They knew it. No one had made a move.

We had been working on a document all morning, and I thought he had more changes. I walked in his office carrying a gourmet chocolate bar imported from Greece that one of the drivers had given everyone in the office. The bar was a milk chocolate bar that was firm enough to eat, but still left chocolate all over everything. He proceeded to let me go – gently – right before Christmas. I had the presence of mind to ask for severance and got paid through the end of February. I had a new job by then, and all was right in the world. Seven years later, I’m still in the same job, and still love it, but I will never forget that moment of shock. My husband had tried to warn me, but I thought they didn’t have the guts to do it.

So, there you have it. I don’t usually use things that happen to me in my fiction, but in this case, I couldn’t pass it up.

Sometimes things happen in real life that are way too strange for fiction.

Have you joined my mailing list yet?  Emails no more than monthly and a chance for giveaways. Join here.

Talking About Birthdays Today

2013-08-15 21.29.24This picture is from last year, about this time.

I was thinking about birthdays this morning, and how often where you are in life is a feature of how you feel about birthdays.

Generally, I’ve not been one of those people upset about growing older. In fact, half the time, because my birthday is in August, when I do the math throughout the year to determine my age, I think I’m older than I am anyway. In my mind, I’ve been 46 for half the year already, so what’s another day?

But, having said that, the year I turned 29 was a miserable year. At 29, not only was I not dating, I had no immediate prospects of dating. That all changed a few short months later when I started dating the man that I would eventually marry. In 1997, turning 29, I couldn’t see that on the horizon. By 1998, mid-year, I was engaged, and, by April 1999, I got married. (Somewhere along the way I left Athens, GA and moved to Greenville, SC, but that’s another journey for another day)

If I could talk to my 29-year old self, I would tell her to be patient. I still remember her frustration and disappointment, but I would tell her that love will come, and when it does, it will leave her breathless.

 

My First “Word Processor” – A Father’s Gift

A Father’s Gift

Remington Rand KMC typewriter

Picture By Georg Sommeregger (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I have written stories for as long as I can remember. In elementary school I wrote my own version of a soap opera starring the kids in my school.  It was in script format. I was always scribbling in notebooks until my fingers cramped.

I don’t remember the year, but it was some time in middle school, maybe seventh grade, for Christmas Santa Claus brought me a Remington Typewriter, an old model not much different from the one pictured above.  I already knew that Santa Claus was my dad then, but everyone at my house continued with the lie. To this day, it remains one of the best gifts I have ever received.  (I think my son just heard me reading this out loud to my husband. We think he doesn’t believe in Santa any more, but if he does I just let the cat out of the bag. Wonderful.)

Today I give tribute to my dad because he saw who I was (a crazy geeky girl who wanted to write) and he found something he knew I would love. It wasn’t the latest girl fad at the time, which was probably something like platform shoes or Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans, but it was exactly what I wanted and needed.

I taught myself to type on that old machine. I found an abandoned typewriter book and did all the drills, and by the end I was self-taught 65 plus words per minute. On a typewriter. I loved the thing.

I wrote my first novel on that old typewriter. In high school I wrote a book called At Cross Purposes.  I haven’t looked at the manuscript for years, but the gist was that a married woman went on a business trip, had a one-night fling, and it turns out her husband died in a plane crash the same night, very macabre for a 16/17 year old. I was a child of divorce, and I was intrigued by the idea of one spouse dying at the moment the other was having an affair. Now of course I’m horrified by that thought. I’m sure if I looked at it now, the writing would be atrocious and very juvenile, but I still remember the book.

By my second novel I was in college and I wrote Beads of Glass, about a girl growing up in the sixties who was the girl in a set of triplets with two boys, and how she was treated differently from her brothers. This book was my honors thesis for my undergraduate degree. The last time I looked at it I noticed that the narrator was obsessed with marking the passage of time in the book.  (Thirty minutes later, At 12:30 p.m., etc. )

These books are as much a fabric of my own personal coming of age as high school and college. I wrote a third book just after I married my husband, about a woman who was torn between her career and wanting to stay home with her new baby. Amazingly enough, it mirrored the issues I was facing at the time. It may see the light of day in the next few years.

Lastly, No Strings Attached is out there, finding readers, slowly but surely. My husband is on his way to Las Vegas in a few weeks on a business trip, and the running joke around our house is that he’d better not be trying to live out portions of the book. Of course, my character isn’t married when she finds her romance in Vegas.

The typewriter is gone, lost in a house fire, but that doesn’t change the fact that it kicked off a dream.

So, to my dad with love — Thank you for buying a little girl a typewriter whether it seemed like a good gift at the time or not.

About “Don’t Call Me Sugar!” or Why GWTW Wouldn’t be Published Today

I was looking around for quotes that might provide some insight into my background and goals in starting this blog, and I returned to an old favorite of mine, Gone With the Wind. I know that the book has faded from the public eye, because of the painful issue of slavery and the famous “rape” scene where Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs. Frankly, my dear, I don’t care.  The book remains one of my favorite of all times. (And for those not aware of the differences between the book and the movie, there are many, one being that the word Frankly is not in the book.  The line is “My dear, I don’t give a damn.”)

“Don’t Call Me Sugar” is directly from Scarlett herself.  She made it through the Civil War and started a lumber business in a time when there were few women of business.  While sexism has decreased in the workplace, after twenty years of working I still find myself on the receiving end of that condescending tone. My goal as a writer is to create heroines who are strong and independent women, and to help them find their match–someone strong enough to not be intimidated by her intelligence or ambition.

From Wikipedia:

Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone with the Wind in 1926 to pass the time while recovering from an auto-crash injury that refused to heal.[1] In April 1935, Harold Latham of Macmillan, an editor who was looking for new fiction, read what she had written and saw that it could be a best-seller. After Latham agreed to publish the book, Mitchell worked for another six months checking the historical references, and rewrote the opening chapter several times.[2] Mitchell and her husband John Marsh, a copy editor by trade, edited the final version of the novel. Mitchell wrote the book’s final moments first, and then wrote the events that lead up to it.[3] As to what became of her star-crossed lovers, Rhett and Scarlett, after the novel ended, Mitchell did not know, and said, “For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less difficult.”[1]Gone with the Wind is the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.[4]

In one article I read a long time ago, the story is that Margaret Mitchell gave her book to Harold Latham in eleven battered boxes, with scraps of paper everywhere.  If she were searching for a publisher today, this is what she would hear:

  • It’s too long. Cut it in half.
  • No one wants to read about history.
  • You can’t kill Bonnie Blue.  It’s too much of a downer.
  • Why isn’t there a happy ending? You have to end with them together.
  • Last but not least, lose those other husbands. The book should focus on the hero and heroine only.

You know I’m right.

The purpose of this blog is to share ideas and thoughts about writing, publishing, and everything in between.  Please feel free to leave comments.

Happy reading!