The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, September 19, 2014

Worth Waiting For

      Last week, the final season of Sons of Anarchy began. It was 117 minutes I had been waiting for for a while.

  During the past six seasons there have been twists and turns, unflinching looks at various issues--an exciting roller coaster ride, in my opinion.

    It seems that the main character (Jax) is going to get undone...and his drive for revenge is what is going to undo him.

     On the first episode, Marilyn Manson did a guest spot as a prisoner. I now know why he wears such strange make-up. 

    What TV show episode did you look forward to with great anticipation? What television series were you the most saddened to see end?

      And if you don't watch Sons of Anarchy, why not...?

And Lisa, I was all ready to post this on Thursday to keep to my Monday and Thursday schedule. I had written it on Wednesday night in preparation, combatting my normal procrastinating style. Thursday morning, no "network." No wireless connectivity. The things I unplugged and then replugged (all I really know how to do) did nothing. Thursday night--I spent the evening with my granddaughter. So I was well-intentioned and ready...and technology conspired against me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Taking Advice

A trainer who evaluated my 8-week old puppy (she checked out the rest of the litter as well) suggested we hold him like a baby--with his back against our stomach, while we watch TV. She said we should do this as often as possible. This was not a time to rub his belly or ruffle his fur or pet him. This was a time to help him feel secure. If he wiggled to get down, we were instructed to firmly tell him, "No," and not let him down until he had stopped struggling. This was to cement it into Radar's head who is boss. (Duh! Obviously, Radar is the boss.)  

This is Radar and me at a fine arts festival. (He wore a donation vest for our rescue group.)

Now Radar is 45 pounds. His legs are as long as a teenaged (human) boy. I am developing a hernia each time I hoist him up onto my lap. Perhaps he's no longer a lapdog. Maybe once they get Shetland Pony-size, they shouldn't be snuggling in my lap.

The trainer gave wonderful advice. Radar is quite secure.

Here is some other advice I've gotten recently from a variety of friends:

  • Don't downplay your successes--no matter how small or how temporary. If an editor wants to see something, don't start wailing to everyone that the editor certainly is not going to like what you send them. You have something to celebrate, even if it's just for a moment. You never know...
  • Use a tea bag to help extend your hair color. Are you overdue with Clairol? Is L'Oreal late? Dab that tea bag (after it's been dipped into hot water) on the "skunky" parts...and pray that no one sniffs your head and is then tempted to ask if you want cream and sugar with it. 
  • Take a chance. (TakeaChanceTakeaChanceTakeaChanceTakeaChance. Can't you hear Abba in the background?) Try something new. Think outside the box. Again, you never know what the results might be. There was a call out for "potty training" stories a while back. I dug into the recesses of my memory, and gave the editors the scoop on my poopy story about my son. It's being published in an anthology put out by Monkey Star Press. You never do know...
  • Stop chewing sticks. If I have to reach into your mouth one more time so I can pull out chewed-up pieces of slobbery sticks, I'm gonna throttle you. (Oops. That is not meant for you. I apologize.)
            What has a friend (or specifically a writer friend) given you that has proven to be good (or bad) advice? Inquiring minds are dying to know...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Keeping a Sense of Humor

      In my day-to-day activities, I am forced to keep my sense of humor up close and personal. Yesterday one of my students said, "Mrs. R---I love your toes." I replied, "I'm assuming you're talking about the turquoise nail polish, and that you're not talking about my old-lady toes."

     On the first day of school, I spoke of having my students' backs. I'd look out for them, and if they saw me with one brown shoe and one black shoe on (it happened once last year, and it was not "tacky" or "mismatched" day at our school), if they saw me with my hair looking all wild, they'd say something. One of my super-helpful girls is--on a regular basis--whispering to me that a hunk of hair has escaped, that some of my hair is standing up (at attention)... so much, that I have to say, "I know. My hair is always wild."

     With our puppy Radar, I have to keep my sense of humor gripped tightly... otherwise, I might throttle him. Or, I might dampen my underwear as I laugh too heartily. He has a toy that resembles an octopus--it has a Kong (an odd-shaped hard rubber ball-like thing) at its core, and five or so long furry "legs." The rubber core is large enough that when he wrestles with it, it hits him in the head. (Thank goodness he has a hard head!) Radar is fascinated by the tree dogs (the squirrels) and tries to climb up the tree after them. A couple of days ago, he saw (for the first time) his reflection in a mirror. It was hilarious.

Doesn't he look angelic? Looks can definitely be deceiving...

      Recently, I submitted something to New Haven Review. I suspect that what I sent will not be their cup of tea. However, I did laugh a few times as I read their submission guidelines...and that doesn't happen often. Most of the time, guidelines are businesslike...dull...dry. When I sent an initial email, I noted that I chuckled over their guidelines, and along the way, I tossed in a bit of my snarkiness. Apparently, it's sometimes a good idea to lead with your humorous foot, because they asked me to send my story.

      I did. And even though in all probability they won't accept it, an editor sparked my interest and--if only for a microsecond--I sparked theirs.

      And if you've missed my comments on your blog in the last couple of days, I've been swamped at school. Last night I got eight more students (we're going down from three 3rd grade classrooms to two) and tonight is Open House. I'll have to catch up tomorrow... as I'm nibbling on chocolate or hydrating myself in some manner.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Second Chances

       Two days ago, Queenie found a home. Another dog rescue friend and I drove close to an hour to do the home visit and--if it was love at first sight--leave Queenie with her new family.

         Normally, Love a Golden does a home visit and THEN arrangements are made to transfer the dog to their new home, once the family has been approved. However, Queenie is a special case. She's a former puppy mill dog. She's traumatized by riding in the car. She takes a while to get acclimated. And since this family has had puppy mill girls before, we figured if they fell for her, making ANOTHER trip with her (and thus making her even more nervous) was not necessary.

     The family did fall in love with Queenie--who is now Lady--and it's obvious that she will soon be Lady of the House. Her new mom and dad have a Serta dog bed for her. (Their daughter--a vet--joked that when Sleep Number dog beds come out, her parents will buy one of those.) They have a better-than-perfect backyard. We're hoping they have enough patience.

This was Queenie. Now, she's Lady.

      And Queenie is not a typical gorgeous golden. She's shorter than most golden retrievers. She has a different (but definitely cute) face. Her front legs are terribly bowed--she resembles an old, out-of-shape wrestler. And don't forget the baggage--she has loads of baggage.

      If a couple of people are believing in Queenie enough to give her a second chance, perhaps I need to believe in my WIP enough to get back to it--I mean really get back to it.

      I've been in a rut lately. Working on shorter pieces. Vegging out. Even reorganizing my nightmare-of-an-office/spare bedroom. Doing anything except working on my NaNoGoneWrongo. Will I get back to it?

      Only time will tell...

      And hey!  If you want to find out how diamonds are Sioux's best friends, go here. You can also get a message about new postings from me (or even get my post via email? I'm not sure how it works) by clicking on a little box-thingy that Cathy C. Hall insisted I install. (Cathy, it took 13 hours and 9 minutes, but I did it! Really, it took less than 13 seconds. I feel bad I didn't do it sooner.) 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Well-Told Tale

       Okay, I admit it. I judge books by their covers. And sometimes by their subjects. And sometimes by the subject and the author's appearance.

         Of course, when I do that, I sometimes miss out on reading a real gem...

       I first met Verna Simms at a book signing. A story of hers and a story of mine--along with over a dozen other St. Louis writers--was in the same anthology. Verna was being pushed in a wheelchair by Kim, another writing friend.

       Verna was in her nineties. And she had written a novel. She even had a copy of it, and was eager for someone to offer to look at it.

       Because Verna knew what every writer knows. If you can get someone to hold your book in their hands, they're more likely to buy it.

       I did look at the back blurb. And I was turned off. There was a religious component to the novel, making me think it was one long sermon. Even though Kim said simply, "It's a good book," and I trusted Kim's opinion, I also knew they were friends. What else would someone say with their friend-author inches away? So I read the blurb, and handed the book back to Verna. 

       A book easy to resist, I figured. A preachy novel penned by a little old lady. A snoozefest, I figured.

       However, I was drawn to Verna's story as an author. I barely have enough drive as a writer to submit occasional pieces, and I'm four decades younger than Verna. What kind of woman has the kind of determination to write a novel and get it published? I was curious, so I set up an afternoon to interview her.

        And as I drove the hour or so to Verna's house, I was still smug in my resistance to not buy her book. 

       Soon, however, my resolve dissolved. Verna was so full of spunk and confidence, I eagerly dug into my purse and pulled out cash to buy her novel. Still, I was sure it was going to be a dud.

       Little did I know that Water Under the Bridge would make me want to stay up late at night. I read it during commercials as I watched television in the evenings. I read it every night before--too soon--I got too tired to keep my eyes open. I even took it into the bathroom with me. (Like George Constanza, I now had a book that was red-flagged.)

        On Tuesday I finished Verna Simms' novel. When I got to the last page, there was a character I had truly learned to hate (I really wished this character had gotten killed during the story) but I had learned something else way before I read the final words.

        And that is this: Verna Simms is a true story teller.  
        At the end of September I will be giving away a copy of Verna's book. It's a tale of survival and determination. It's the story of a spunky feminist in a little girl's body. It's a real pageturner and it's spectacular.

       Leave a comment, and you'll be entered into the drawing. On September 29 I'll root into the (literal) hat and pick a name.


Monday, September 1, 2014

A Winner and Hopefully a Loser

        I am a few days late announcing the winner of Paige Adams Strickland's book Akin to the Truth, but I am trying to keep to a Monday and Thursday posting schedule. (I'm really trying, Lisa. ;)

       It's an ebook version, I believe. I will be sending the winner's email address to Crystal Otto over at WOW.

       And the winner is----Bookie. Congratulations!

       As for a loser, we're hoping that our 43-pound miniature pony named Radar (sometimes  Radar disguises himself as a six-month old golden retriever puppy) loses the piece of plastic he ate yesterday. It was one of those vegetable labels/signs--about 2 or 3 inches long. The plastic is flexible, but is it flexible enough to twist around his intestinal tract as it heads to his poop chute? We'll see.

       Either I will have dug that bit of treasure out of one of his piles today, or we'll be talking to the vet.