Monday, 29 November 2010

The Stinky Toilet and the Family of Hats


So yesterday I blogged about companies who lie, and I mentioned, at the end, having purchased some bubble bath. One that is supposed to relax you, the other that’s meant to make you sleep easy. Well, I had low hopes for these two bottles of purple and turquoise fluid, but dumped a shitload in my bath just the same. Yeah, a bit of each. I mean, why not? I wanted to relax my muscles and sleep well.

Shit, I’ve found something that actually does what it says on the bottle. Man, I was so relaxed, when I flopped down on the sofa in my jammies, book in hand (Flu by Wayne Simmons), I bloody well zonked out. It wasn’t due to the book content either, because I was enjoying the book a lot. No, it must have been the bubble bath. Two hours later, I woke, only to stumble to bed, muscles so relaxed I was like an elasticised freakazoid, and slept the night away. This happened every time I used the bubble bath. So, well done Radox, for creating something that actually works. Whether it only works when the two are combined, I don’t know…

Well, I’m writing this Monday night, having told myself I needed one of those bubble baths again because today…well, let’s just say Christmas gift shopping so isn’t my bag, you digging me? I was okay at first. We arrived in Banbury—yes, the place famed for the ditty Ride a Cock Horse—and went into the main town. Oh, I was in Heaven in Poundland, as usual, and forced myself NOT to buy any scented bloody candles, and I was all right until we got to Tescos.

Tescos is a supermarket, but the one in Banbury is like Wal Mart, where you can buy all manner of things not food related. Both Hubby and myself needed a wee when we arrived—the cold weather’s started playing havoc with our bladders, God bless us—and off we went to the toilets. I entered to the stench of…shit.

Well, that’s not something I like enduring, is it? Could have done with a scented candle that worked right then, I can tell you. Or even a doused match. All three cubicle doors were locked, and I wondered which door hid the shitter from view. I mean, someone in there was doing a number two, that much was very clear, and it wasn’t pleasant. Not that shit ever is, but you know what I mean.

Have you ever noticed in public toilets, when someone’s doing the stinky in them, the air is so close and thick it isn’t funny? So I’m standing there, trying not to breathe, and another lady walked in and gave me a funny look. I was almost tempted to tell her that no, I hadn’t farted, that it was someone in one of those cubicles who had made the offending stench, but instead I gagged and left the toilet. Hubby was outside. He hadn’t stayed to go to the toilet either. Yep, someone had shit in there too. Either that or the place had serious drain problems.

What was it this morning with the good people of Banbury? Had they all had a raging hot curry the previous night and, unable to hold it, saved their bodily emissions for the Tescos toilets?

So, walking around Tescos, braiding my damn legs because, yeah, I needed to pee badly, I started to get naffed off. It wasn’t that busy either. I noticed my hip started playing up like it did in Ikea last week, and I’m finally coming to accept I’m going to have a hip problem when I’m older. Joy upon sodding joy. Once home, I dashed to the loo then quickly wrapped the presents, did a few things online, then poured myself some cheap drink I’d bought earlier today. I don’t usually drink but felt I needed some alcohol. Deaden the old nerves. Now, I also bought it because I remembered it was the first drink I got drunk on when I was, uh, thirteen. It comes in these small bottles, and it’s this cherry wine stuff. Now I know why red wine makes me gag just by smelling it. I poured the cherry wine, sniffed it and…wanted to barf. I took a sip then handed it to Hubby. He’s a red wine fan, so he’s drinking it now, but hell, keep it away from me.

That’s my relaxation method out the window, so I need one of those bubble baths…

It’s Tuesday now. We woke to SNOW! I didn’t get the bubble bath. I had things to do online, bits and bobs in the house to tidy, so by the time I got tired I just wanted to flake out. And we have to go out and do all that gift shopping business again because we didn’t get it all yesterday. Great. Just bloody great. Mind you, it will give me the chance to wear my new hat.

Now, I’ve always been one of those people who just don’t wear hats. I feel a complete prick in them. I’ve always braved the cold and suffered. However, yesterday I gave in and bought a hat in Poundland. One that is all the rage in my small part of the world and looks something like this:




Okay, when wearing it I feel like a descendant from a Swedish skiing family or something, but it’s warm, and yesterday I didn’t care what I looked like because we were nowhere near anyone we knew (hahah!) You heard that, right? Near no one we knew… Until we spotted my oldest daughter in Tescos car park—she works in Banbury. She looked at me in horror and said, “I can’t believe you’re wearing that hat! Are you that cold?”

(Oh, I forgot to mention, Hubby has one too. His is brown, mine is baby pink. And my youngest daughter's is red, and my younger boys have one too, black and grey. So we’re a family of the freak hat. If we all go out together we’re going to look damn weird, but hey, it warmed my ears, all right?)

Anyway, Oldest Daughter is a fashion freak, but these hats are trendy, damn it! Or are they only trendy on anyone under 20? Am I finally going to have to give in and not wear trendy stuff? I mean, she made it clear I looked a dork…but she wears EAR MUFFS! Maybe I ought to buy a pair of those too and waltz around in gear too young for my age, just cos…

So! Questions from today’s post (you don’t have to answer all of them. I won’t hold it against you…much. Joking!):

1. Do you wear something considered “too young” for you? Yeah? What is it?

2. Do you care what others think if you do wear an item some people think you shouldn’t?

3. Ever had a product, like my bubble bath, that actually does what it says?

4. Ever had a stinky toilet scenario?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Argh!


The first rant of my week is about companies claiming their products do something when they quite clearly...DON’T! I dislike this immensely, to the point that I’m almost tempted, after writing this post, to send this to all the companies I am going to talk about.

How did the idea for this post come about, you might ask? A scented candle set me off. Yes, I bought a scented candle in a glass pot. One that claimed to “calm” me with its “beautiful woodland aroma”. Lovely, I muttered to myself in the supermarket. Just what I need. In the basket you go, you darling candle, you.

The candle found a home on my coffee table, and I lit it with high hopes. Quite excited, I might add. I love candles but haven't had any in the home for years because of having smaller kids around. Also, I was excited because I would be calm within five minutes, oh yes I would, and I'd been into town where people pissed me the hell off, so I needed calming. I left the room to put some meat into the crockpot and returned…to smell NO SMELL. I said to the candle, “What aroma, you lousy, non-smelling piece of shite!”

Why did the company claim the candle’s scent would calm me, when a) there was no effing scent, and b) I got myself into a fit of angst because their WAS no scent, so therefore, I was decidedly UN-BLOODY-CALM AND IN A WORSE STATE THAN BEFORE I LIT THE STUPID THING!

Take last week as another example of this consumer angst. The week before I’d purchased a snazzy breakfast cereal. Cheerios with “clusters”. The kids loved them, so of course, seeing as they were on special offer for £1 a box, I bought some more. Only to find THIS box had…NO BLOODY CLUSTERS! How rude? So I explained to my youngest that they are all made at the Cheerio factory and some poor worker may have been stressed that day and put the wrong bag in the wrong box.

Thinking in my head: You may have been stressed, love, but look what your stress has given me. STRESS! You...you...mofo.

By the end of the box, a few clusters appeared. About 10. Lovely. You know what? Cheerio, Cheerios, because I’m buggered if I’ll buy any of you again.

Now let’s discuss cleaning products. We’ve all seen the advertisements: Get your whites whiter than white! See those filthy socks? Wash them in THIS and they’ll be like new! See this crusty ketchup stain? See how the mess is ground in? Fear not! This solution will get it clean.

I have purposely placed ketchup on an old top, left it to dry and become GROUND in, then washed it. Nope, stain still there, almost yelling, "You fell for it! You believed the hype!" I have purposely slapped mud onto socks, left them to go dry, washed them in this miracle stuff and…nope, still dirty. What also gets me, is store products claiming to wash ALMOST better "than the leading brand". Well, if the leading brand doesn't get my shit clean, d'you think I'm going to be buying anything that gives a poorer performance?

Cillit Bang is another one. LIARS! I followed the instructions. It did NOT clean my hob as it claimed it would. My elbow grease, a scourer, and good old-fashioned washing-up liquid got it clean. Arseholes!

Oh, and speaking of ketchup… I bought some “hot” ketchup dipping sauce. Hmm, I thought, I fancy that. Something with a bit of hot bite will do me nicely. So I poured it onto my chicken burger, hoping to have a tasty accompaniment to my otherwise drab meal. Nope! Not even a whisper of heat. It’s ketchup with a slight “tang”. Vastly different to the tongue-burning, lip-swelling, lip-numbed experience I was expecting. When it says something is hot, I WANT HOT! I don’t go into the butcher’s, ask for a cut of beef, and expect to get pork, now do I? No, I wanted beef! I don’t enter the hairdressers, ask for a trim, and come out with half my hair gone!

Oh, wait. I have. That’s a given with the hairdressers I’ve visited. “Just a trim!” Whoopsie, she appears to have thought I said, “I like the bald look. Cut it all off and make me look one angry bitch for fun! Cut it all off and see if I get that look on my face where you know I want to punch your damn lights out!”

Today I also bought some bubble bath. “Stress Relax” and “Sleep Easy”. I tell you, they’d better bloody work, because after that candle fiasco, I’m well pissed off.

What companies naff you off with their claims? And have you ever written and complained? If so, what response did you get?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Are We There Yet?

As today is almost an American holiday (Black Friday--although you won't find me at the stores, even if we weren't traveling) and I am unlikely to whip up a blog post (although I might "whip up" something else--g), I thought I'd post something I wrote a number of years for Wild Child Publishing when it was a magazine. This was part of a column I wrote titled "Bitch 3x Diaries." While I am no longer visiting my mother once a month (I'd love to, but things change once you have kids), this still applies.

I'll be in and out during the day to check on this and respond, but writing much I'm not going to be doing. :)

~ ~ ~

Almost once every month I find myself on the road. When I talk about "on the road," I don't mean my usual jaunts to meetings, work or the grocery store. Any of those trips can easily take from 15 minutes to over an hour, depending on the time of day and how traffic is at that particular moment in time. What I refer to here are road trips that put at least 220 miles on my car one way. These trips are most often made for the dual purpose of visiting my parents in central California and getting away from Los Angeles.

Although one would think this would be relaxing, strangely enough, I find myself getting more uptight during these road trips than I do when I am dealing with traffic to go to work, etc. The traffic hasn't changed any. It is almost always guaranteed to be nightmarish conditions during the times I am able to embark on my trips (rush hour Friday evening). I think what gets me going the most is the fact that once I battle my way through the jungle of cars, I have at least another two to three hours left of the drive. Yes, I am getting away, but I won't arrive until 10 p.m. or later. I'm bound to be tired and ready to go to bed. And, it is even worse when someone is in the car with me. The result is bickering with whoever happens to be in the car with me at the moment, usually my boyfriend. He's understanding, but certainly doesn't deserve to feel the brunt of my annoyance.

Finally, on a return trip about two months ago, I got fed up with being grouchy all the time. We were returning from a weekend of relaxation and fun. Why end it in a bitchy mood?

That's when I asked myself, "What could I do that would keep me happy and is safe to do in the car?" (Updated note: I have done other things in the car that are not safe while driving. Those were fun. Alas, that too has gone out the window since having a child. (g))

As this question entered my mind, I suddenly remembered the games my father used to play with us when we were kids during long road trips to keep us occupied. They were successful, for at least the first couple of hours. But, considering the length of this current trip, that would be long enough. The application of these games resulted in one of the more enjoyable return trips I've had in a long time. Charlie and I were laughing, engaged in good-natured bickering, and flirted the entire trip home. When we stepped out of the car, we were grinning from ear to ear.

What are these games? Well, the typical childish games designed to keep your mind off the fact that you are trapped in a car and, of course, to while away the time. There are various versions of these games, but the ones that I learned go something like this:

Game 1

Using freeway signs, billboards, and business signs starting with "a", you must get through the alphabet. You cannot use license plates or any advertising or signs on trucks, cars, or vans. You must call each letter out as you see them. The letters can only be used once. So if your sister calls the letter before you and there is only one letter "a" on that sign, you are out of luck. She gets the "a". However, if there is more than one "a" on the sign, you can use that one, provided no one else gets it before you. Nor can you "hold" a letter that you have seen but didn't need yet. For example, if you see a "j" but are still on the letter "d", you cannot save this letter until you need the "j". The person who gets through the alphabet first wins. Oh, yes, the most important rule: NO WHINING!

Charlie had never played this game before so I invariably won even though I was driving. (Of course, it didn't help him that I know which letters are most likely to be found on what signs and I watch for them if I need one of those letters. Unfair and evil, but I never said I wasn't. (g))

There are other versions of this game. My roommate told me that when they used to play it, you could only use letters that were at the beginning of a word or license plate. They could also use the advertising on trucks, cars, etc.

Most of the time, the length of the game is determined by how populated the area you are driving through is. This is not always the case because on some freeways, there now are large eating, shopping and gas station complexes that offer an abundance of signs from which to get your letters. The average length of a game runs about an hour if there are just two of you.

Game 2

This one I favored over the first one because of the hilarious results that could be produced. Once again the alphabet is in use. One person starts with the letter "a" and you progress through the alphabet, taking turns. If they are a woman, they will say "Hi. My name is (a name that starts with whatever letter you are on). My husband's name is (male name of whatever letter you are on). We come from (some town starting with the same letter). And we eat (some food starting with that letter)." To make it more difficult and teach us the cities of California, my father would tell us that we were limited to the cities in California. Sometimes the places had to be cities in a foreign countries, cities in the US, or just foreign countries. Let me tell you, when we got the letters "k", "q", "x", and "z", we were getting pretty silly. Soon everyone in the car would be laughing. The kids will want to do it more than once. However, the parents might find it too repetitive after the second time.

A typical game would go something like this:

  • Person 1: "Hi. My name is Anna. My husband's name is Albert. We come from Atwater (this is a California city). And we eat artichokes."
  • Person 2: "Hi. My name is Betty. My husband's name is Barney. We come from Bedrock. And we eat Brontosaurus burgers." (Okay, these are Flintstone characters, but I couldn't resist.)
  • Person 3: "Hi. My name is Corwin. My wife's name is Cathy. We come from Carson. And we eat cabbage." (I feel sorry them. Cabbage! Yuk!)

And so on...

Since I started playing these games, I find that I am no longer as bitchy as before my "game" days. Nor do I have to play these games to enjoy my trip.

I have finally rid myself of that childhood question: "Are we there yet?"

Update: My 6 year-old daughter loves the second game. We are soon eating some really imaginative foods (something I would never touch) and living in unlike places (Mars.)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Are we lemmings?


A comment by Faith sparked this blog post. I was going to post an old article I'd written some years ago as the blog today, but my response to that comment struck a match. (I don't do light bulbs. They are too tame, especially the energy saving ones. grin)

The airways, and Internet, are littered with Black Friday ads. Stores are opening earlier and earlier Friday morning to try and tempt shoppers to come and spend their hard-earned cash on things. Lots and lots of things that we most likely do not need, but heck, our garage isn't quite full of enough sh** yet, right?

But I digress.

Lemmings. Back to lemmings.

One of the ads for a major department store is advertising a $99 Kindle. I had told Charlie, my husband, that I wanted a Kindle. I have a Target gift certificate with $70 left on it. I was contemplating on using the remainder to buy a Kindle. Why? This all stemmed from my latest foray into Target. And that all started with the gift card given to me by Charlie's aunt (whose intent was for me to buy something nice for myself. True to being a mother, I spent nearly $30 of it on my daughter.) The reason for that is another story best told at another time, but you'll follow my reasoning better if I tell the Target story. Okay, you won't, but I am in a verbose mood, so you will have to suffer the tale. (g)

This past weekend, my mother-in-law offered to have a sleepover with the daughter. Her intention was to pick up our daughter around a quarter to ten, take her to church, and we'd pick her up sometime the next day. (Life is rough.) However, our daughter didn't want to go to church (a child after my own heart--grin), so Grandma picked her up after church. Regardless, part of our downtime included a foray to Target with the intent of purchasing a toaster oven. They had several, but we hadn't done our homework and decided against purchasing a toaster oven, especially after seeing more than one review on an oven that several purchasers reported as a fire hazard. :-O

As is typical, we didn't buy what we'd originally went out for. Instead, I picked up three pairs of really cute tights for the daughter, a book for me (not the kind I was looking for either), and something else, which eludes me now. (It's been all of a few days. Obviously, it wasn't that memorable.)

So, what does this have to do with lemmings? I'm getting there. Taking my sweet time, but I'll get there...eventually. (g)

I was browsing the books when I realized that the books all lacked...something. Oh, yeah, they were all NYC published. And most of the books I want to read are published by independents in eBook format. It's not often I have time to read anymore (beyond editing), and holding a solid book in my hand has its appeal, but I looked at the book in my hand and thought, "What am I doing? I don't see Faith's, Sarah's, or Tess's books here. Why am I buying this book that I don't really want?" The answer: I had a gift card to Target, and I was desperate. Desperate for a little R&R reading, but I didn't want to read on my iPhone or my laptop. I can do both, but, you know, I don't care to lug my laptop around all of the time, and my iPhone is convenient, but I want something a little bigger to read on. So, I looked at the Kindle. The Kindle is okay. I've seen one operating before and that e-ink technology bothers my eyes. LOL Yeah, I know. I'm weird. Maybe it's all of my years staring at computer screens. Still, I can justify buying a Kindle for my business. How? I can check out how our eBooks look on the Kindle and demonstrate how eBooks work on it.

But you know what I really want? An iPad. Charlie has one. It's the bomb. Will I play games on it? Probably. (The games for the iPhone are too addictive and suck me in when my brain is too tired to do anything else, although the ability to read and respond easily to email is a wonderful thing. I am sure it will be the same with the iPad.) However, I can use it to see how our ePub eBooks look on Apple's format. (g) Also, I can "check out the competition." You know, you have to read other indy pubbed books to see what they are doing, right? (g) So, yeah, I've been slowly talking myself into one of those too. The only challenge? The price.

And I have to say that as I read the book I bought from Target, it seemed so passé, as if I lived, say, in the 1900's. (g) I told Charlie this, and he rolled his eyes at me. When I told my mother this, she'd thought I'd lost my mind. HAHAHAHA Perhaps I have. (g)

So, fast forward to yesterday, we are sitting in the living room watching TV. A Black Friday TV commercial comes on. Charlie turned to me and said, "You know, I feel like I should be going out there too. If I don't, I might miss something."

"Like what?" I asked him. Most of these Black Friday deals aren't really deals. We discovered that last year.

"I don't know," he said.

So, he doesn't know what he wants or why he should go, but he thinks he should go. Hm...

We did this last year. We were looking for another flat screen TV and talked about the Black Friday deals. Another big chain store had a 40" advertised for $250-300. Two days before, we drove down to the store to take a look at the TV as we were seriously considering going on Friday to buy it. Boy, am I glad we did that! Charlie is a bit of a techno geek (It's one of the many reasons I love him, even as it drives me crazy at times. (g)), and that TV was crap. Well, what do you expect from a 40" flat screen TV priced at $250-300? Grainy, poor picture, poor construction, and more than likely to die on us within a year. A waste of $250-300, but someone will buy it. Just not us. We would have had serious buyer's remorse.

After that, he did a search online for TVs and discovered that there were better deals on the Internet even with the shipping than a number of these Black Friday deals.

Yet, despite last year's experience, he's still thinking about braving the subzero temps to check out these deals. Truly, it boggles my mind. But then it makes me think about the whole lemming effect of social pressure. Do these commercials create social pressure to shop on Black Friday? How many people go because they are afraid they'll miss the best deals? Will they bond and become a lemming clan before rushing into the stores and risking death by stampede? (g)

Yeah, I don't know and probably will never know as I am not usually a lemming. If he wants to throw himself off that Black Friday shopping cliff, he can do it alone. (g) I'm going to stay in my nice warm bed and sleep through it. (g)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Guest Blog with Teresa D'Amario


Hey everyone! I invited Teresa D'Amario to blog. She has two books published with Freya's Bower (one of which releases in print on November 30), a story to come out in our charity anthology Dreams & Desires, vol. 4, in February, and one that's she's working on, which I am champing at the bit to see. (g) Her specialty is shifter stories. Hot shifters stories. You can see why I am so, well, hot for her latest manuscript. (g)

Ms. D'Amario, the floor is yours. :)

~ ~ ~

I'm VERY Thankful right now.

Not too long ago I read a blog (and I wish I remembered who wrote it) which talked about whether people really want the different and unexpected. The author compared the number of similar television shows on these days, such as the variety of CSI and the NCIS and the Second NCIS.

Today I was sitting here with Hallmark channel on, just veging, trying to wrap my brain around the fact it's Thanksgiving week and that I need to go shopping. Hallmark channel is always a great channel to get into the mood, right?

Wrong.

Seriously! Hallmark is playing it's 33 days of Christmas, and there's not

a Thanksgiving show to be had. All are Christmas. Then, as I paid minimal attention to the shows over the last few days, I realize most of them are a take off of Dickens A Christmas Carole, and the traditional "meet the real santa" shows (I can't say they are miracle on 34th street, because even that one is different).

Now I know the holidays are a time for tradition. We all decorate the same ways each year, half of us make the same Turkey dinners each year (admit it - come on - tell me!) Even so, I like a little variety in my holiday spirit. Now me, I'm not a holiday type writer (unless you count Halloween). But if I could, I'd write a fantastical Christmas tail (no that's not a typo) that would be fun and exciting. Or maybe a Thanksgiving story which incorporates a little more non-traditional story telling.

So be honest - what would you like to see that's a wee bit different? The little people from Ireland? Or maybe a fuzzy tail or two? And what about plot? Is it a traditional tale of ghosts of Christmas past?

~ ~ ~

SheWolf

A small town veterinarian has a big time problem. She's not human.

Plagued as a child with an extra-sensitive sense of smell, strength, and eyesight, Anna Callaway always thought she was special. But she didn't understand how special until she met Kieran Hunter.

He insists they are True Mates, but he's not human either. He's wolven.

Kieran is a protector of his race. No longer the Alpha of his pack, he spends his time searching out and punishing any who may reveal their race to humans. While patrolling, he finds two wolven about to kidnap Anna. He battles to protect her, but is surprised to find himself drawn to her in a way he neer expected.

The couple must learn to deal with their differences before they can address their similarities. But when three men kidnap Anna, she must decide if she is to embrace the wolven way of life, or return to her quiet existence. And whether to abandon the man who claims her as his True Mate.

Purchase page.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Keeping the Packing Process Moving Along

Please help me welcome Ruth G. Zavitsanos, the author of two Wild Child children's books, The Villa Dog and The Old Fortress Dog. When you read her blog, you will understand why she can write about dogs so realistically. (g) To call Ruth a dog lover is like saying Cesar Romano is the average dog trainer. (g) While I haven't had the good fortune to meet Ruth in person...yet (I plan to at EPICon in Williamsburg, VA, this March), if you are near Nora Roberts' bookstore on December 4th between 12 and 2 pm, stop by and you can. (Jealous. Jealous. I would be sooo jealous. (g)) She will be signing her books, along with Nora and two other authors.

~ ~ ~

Moving day is fast approaching. In order to lock in a "great" mortgage rate, the closing was scheduled two months in advance. Yet, it seems my family is clueless that the MOVE is two weeks away and in the midst of a HOLIDAY! I say this because I am the only one, thus far, to pack an entire box, meaning a box that is filled, taped closed and labeled. (It tempts me to threaten them with "whatever isn't packed won't make it to the next house," but I know just what type of retribution that would produce. sigh--I can dream.) However, I do have a daily reminder of why I am NOT alone in this arduous task.

Following me into the room I plan to tackle that day and sitting at my side, encouraging me throughout with sighs, raised eyebrows, and wet kisses, are what I lovingly and accurately refer to as my "Canine Kids."

They remind me of the days when, as a youngster, my family would al

l pack up for a week at the beach. My mother would laugh as our dog, Dallas (named for the city my brother attended college in not the TV show), would jump in the back of the station wagon with us and say, "Dallas, you don't even have to pack a toothbrush."

Now, as I pack another box, Pebbles and Rocky watch me, sometimes looking amused and others longing for another walk, or seeking my attention for them rather than the cardboard box between us. The other day I packed up a few of the "must have" stuffed animals. Pebbles and Rocky, unpacked the box running around with a variety of zoo animals throughout the house. I left that box for the kids to pack and took the dogs for a walk.

While walking them through our familiar neighborhood route, it occurred to me that my canine kids might find it hard to adjust to the move. I asked the puppy trainer what I should do to prepare or help Rocky and Pebbles. She said, "Routine. You have to get them into a routine in the new house, too." I know this will be easy for our puppy, Rocky. But, I think Pebbles will miss our neighborhood. She often stops along her walks to say "hi" to her human and canine pals.

I thought about my walks in the new neighborhood. It will be good to socialize Rocky and Pebbles with the people and dogs in our new neighborhood. And, I realized that no matter where we go (in this case 1.2 miles away) as long as Rocky and Pebbles go with us, our new residence will fast become a familiar and loving home. I just need to put some holes in the top of a box and carefully mark it Rocky and Pebbles! Kidding! In truth, like Dallas once did, they will jump in the back of the car without having to pack a toothbrush. However, they will be bringing with them all the joy and comforts of home!

~ ~ ~

Excerpt from The Old Fortress Dog

by

Ruth G. Zavitsanos


We arrived at the Old Fortress and I jumped out of the truck. I ran to the front gate, ready to work. Each day offered something new at the Old Fortress. The way Nikolaus leaped out of the truck and ran after me I knew he felt the same. People stood in line when my master took his seat behind the ticket booth. An Australian family joked while purchasing their tickets. "It's not the outback, but we still need to stay together. Harold, that especially means you. Sarah, keep an eye on your little brother."

I raised my ears and followed close behind the young boy. Nikolaus greeted the family before taking them on the tour. "The cannons are replicas of the original ones that stood precisely in this place to protect Corfu and keep enemies from invading the island," Nikos said pointing to the two black cannons facing out to sea.

After leaving the sight of the cannons, Harold climbed on top of one, and his older sister took pictures.

"Come on, Sarah, we have to keep up with our guide," her father hollered.

"Just a minute. I'm getting some fun shots of Harold playing soldier." His older sister snapped a few more shots and took off.

Harold did not follow her. I stood in the distance watching as he climbed on the shiny black cannons. When my master gave the tour, he warned the visitors not to climb on the cannons because not only could they get hurt, but the cannons were to be preserved to keep the Old Fortress as it once appeared during the days of battle.

When the boy slipped and fell, I barked. He did not get hurt. I continued to bark because he climbed another cannon. This one was close to the edge. I feared the boy would fall off the cliff. My bark grew deeper and louder. The boy ignored me, amused by his proximity to the dangerous rocky-lined sea.

I stopped barking and thought hard about what my master told Nikos to do throughout the tour. "You must always count the heads. This will make certain everyone in the tour is with you and that no one has strayed off." With that thought, I heard voices approaching. I barked and Nikos hollered my name. Harold stood at the edge of the cannon, lost his footing, and I leaped clutching his leather belt with my teeth as the boy dangled near the edge, crying for help.

Purchase page.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

I'm Thankful for the Little Things

Thanksgiving is fast approaching in the States, and I wanted to write a blog that was season appropriate. And I wanted to blog about being grateful while I am in the mood. I can't tell you the number of times I'm in a pissy mood, and some well meaning, but irritating, person, will tell me that I have so much to be grateful for and all that crap. When I'm in that frame of mind, grateful is not the first thing I think of. Matter of fact, what I really want to say to them is, "Go stick your gratefulness where the sun don't shine and leave me alone." I don't, but I want to. LOL

However, today, I am in a mood where I can honestly blog about being grateful. Not about the typical stuff that usually comes to mind when we start listing our blessings. No, I'm not going to list all of that. That's too easy. Instead, I want to look at the little things to be grateful for in my life because, after all, it's the little things that either drive us batty or make us happy. So, I am going to list ten "little" things that make my life easier, and that I am very grateful for. I encourage you to add your own.

  1. Wax: "Wax?" you ask. "Why wax?" Well, if you have facial hair that you don't consider womanly, wax is your friend. (It helps to have a sister who's an expert with it. Just keep her away from your bikini line and armpits!) I can thank my maternal grandmother for this. As I inherited other good qualities from her, I can almost forgive her. (g)
  2. Tweezers: For the weeks you don't see your cosmetologist, or sister in this case, they are very handy for removing the aforementioned facial hair.
  3. Toenail clippers: Because Frankenstein toenails just aren't very attractive in flip-flops and can cause some serious damage when you are, um, getting "busy."
  4. Speaking of flip-flops, I love mine and would be very unhappy without them. When the weather is warm, they are the best footwear...next to bare feet, that is.
  5. Size 13 shoes: That's my husband's shoe size. And while that is not a small thing, it's certainly something to be grateful for. (g)
  6. Toilet paper: Imagine life without toilet paper. (shudder) Okay, let's not do that. I'm very happy to live where I have unlimited amount of toilet paper to use. (Not that I use all of it, mind you, but I know I have it there...just in case.)
  7. The toilet: How can you be grateful for toilet paper and forget the toilet? Again, this is not such a little thing, but how often do we list this in our "to be grateful for" roll call? I've camped and backpacked where you had to find a quiet place in the wilderness to do your business. I've also been to a few countries where the toilet was a hole in the ground with some place to position your feet on either side. During all of those times, I pined for a toilet, but not a skanky toilet. I'd rather dig my own hole than use a skanky toilet! Once on a train through what was then Yugoslavia, the toilet was so disgusting that I held it until we reached the next station...three hours later. Hanging my butt out the window was starting to look like a very viable option. While I didn't worship that hole in the ground they called a toilet, I came very close.
  8. Stupid people: They remind me how lucky I am to be from my gene pool and not theirs. And then I get the hell away from them because stupid people do stupid sh** that frequently turns bad.
  9. Running water: This is another one that harkens back to my backpacking days. Running water is the bomb. Yes, it is. One backpacking trip, none of us had water filters (or showers, of course. We stank!) We had to boil water over a fire for three minutes to sterilize it. To this day, I can't stand anything that has a smoky flavor. That was the same trip where it was too cold to bath for three or four days. I came down the mountain with my hair plastered to my head. Ripe would be too tame of a term for what I was.
  10. Silence: If you live in the city, or a house full of kids, and came from the country, you appreciate silence. Or really, the absence of manmade sounds. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's a beautiful thing. The past few days, it's been really noisy. I'd like a little more birdsong and a lot less cars, airplanes, and noisy people.

That's my list of little things. What are some of your little loves?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Falling on my rubbery behind or laugh, baby, laugh

Today, I'd like to welcome Cassie Exline, a fabulous author of many genres and overall entertaining woman. Her newest release, Ruby's Deadly Secret, is the second in her Sheryl Locke Holmes mystery short story series available at Wild Child Publishing. Think "Murder She Wrote," but with a younger, hot woman, a hot--fanning self--boyfriend, and a splash of humor.

~ ~ ~

Ever laugh at the wrong moment? I'm warning you now, don't ever trip and fall in front of me. It's a sickness. I have to laugh and I'll continue until the tears roll and my sides hurt. Oh, I'll help you up, but I'll laugh even if I slip and fall on my butt beside you.

A few years ago, back in the dark ages when we still rented VHS movies. Well, my husband pulled up to the video store, I hopped out of the truck and down under the truck, I went. True story! I'm stretched out on my back, my head even with the passenger door, still open by the way, when I hear my husband ask our daughter, "Where did your mother go?"

To which she said, "She was here a minute ago."

I'm staring up at the sky, praying to God that DH doesn't move the truck and a new customer doesn't pull into the lot. The next thing I see are two faces peering down at me. Now you know what they said, "What are you doing down there?"

Okay, that wasn't funny to me, but they thought it was hilarious. Damn slippy shoes.

But it wasn't long after that the tables were turned. DH loves his cowboy boots. Don't ask me why he'd ever wear them in the wintertime, but he did. His legs shot in all directions and I laughed my ass off. Down he went and shot me a dirty look. I couldn't stop laughing. It's a sickness I have. He got up and went right back down. By this time, I was doubled over and could hardly breathe. More dirty looks darted my direction. He decided to walk in the snow and every third step he would slip. I couldn't move from the car for twenty minutes and I peed my pants.

When I started the job I have now, I discovered that my behind is made of rubber or else I'm magical. I can fall on it and I'm instantly on my feet. Amazing. Seriously. It was winter, I had good winter shoes on this time, no slippy ones, and strutted out of the police station. No, I wasn't arrested, but getting the police report for the newspaper. Out I went and twenty feet later, down I went. Like magic, I was on my feet. One of the Borough employees watched the whole horrible incident and asked if I was alright, in between snickering. Jackass. Oh, I assured him I was fine. No big deal. Did I mention this occurred on Main Street? Down the sidewalk I pranced like a pony, waving at people, chatting to this person and that, up the steps into the building where I work, on to my office. I closed the door and dropped like a rock on my chair. My God, I hurt. Everything hurt. If someone had yelled fire, I'd really had to think what I wanted to do.

My next "trip" was in the spring. I was off to the Library for a photo op, across the street and not far from the office, so I walked. No big deal (notice the pattern?). Let me tell you, don't ever get drunk in my town and walk down the sidewalk on those freaking bricks. Stupid lopsided pieces of crap. It was pitiful. I'm a country child, I know to watch where I put my feet, except I didn't and I did--fall that is. Down I went and up I popped. Like magic. I'm a good employee or just lucky, I didn't break the camera, but I thought I'd broke something else. On I went to the library, smiling, ever the trouper. This time I could feel the blood sticking to my pants and the palm of my hand burned like fire, but I pasted that blasted smile on my face, took the photo, asked the questions, and sauntered back to my office. I had bruises for weeks.

Don't get me wrong, bricks are beautiful as sidewalks, but also dangerous, even if straight and even. The area where I work in is part of the historic district. So, we also have a brick sidewalk. My hand to God, I have stood on those damn bricks and slid downward to the square. There's a slope. It was a slow go and I had time to think about how to escape with dignity. Don't forget, I work on Main Street. When I got close enough to grab on to a porch railing, I latched on like it was a life preserver. For a while I thought I was going to have to crawl on my hands and knees back to the office. A good Samaritan came along and put down salt so I could hobble back.

Golly gee, what wonders I have to look forward to with winter just around the corner. Rubber unite! Never mind, just pass me the Ben Gay and put on the coffee.

~ ~ ~

Excerpt from Ruby's Deadly Secret

by C.L. Exline


Sheryl gazed into Jake's eyes and caressed his cheek. "I'm sorry for overreacting. For a brief moment, I thought I had lost you. I know better, but I'd just been with Mrs. Wallace and listened to how much her husband's betrayal had hurt her. I wasn't thinking, not with my head. Forgive me."

"Take your hands off of me!" yelled a voice in the distance.

Sheryl and Jake looked over to see Dot being physically escorted out of the restaurant.

"Madam!"

"Look, you little toad, take your hands off of me."

"I better intercede before Dot gets physical." Jake hurried to smooth things over. "Lawrence, it'll be okay. I'll take over."

Lawrence let go of Dot, but glared at her before facing Jake. "She and that blonde friend of hers are not welcome in our establishment. Both are troublemakers. We run a reputable business and cannot have altercations disrupting our patrons."

"Like I care to go back in! I wouldn't go in that rat hole if my life depended on it," Dot said and rubbed her arm. "You better hope I don't get bruises from your manhandling me."

The man snorted before stomping back into the restaurant.

"You didn't hit Lisa, did you?" Jake asked.

"Lawrence wouldn't let me."

Purchase page

Thursday, 18 November 2010

There IS a Cyber Hell!

CARTOON Pictures, Images and Photos





I am in a mood, so pardon me while I bitch for a few moments.

I had something happen to me this week that was just plain, unadulterated rudeness. And since it made my biscuits steam, it urged me to get up on my cyber soapbox about it—and honey, there isn't any Tide or Gain in my soapbox, only fire and brimstone!

I've said it once, I'll say it a hundred times, I stay off of most of the Yahoo loops because the crap that I see happening on them disgusts me to no end. I'll post blog announcements on the promo loops, but discussions (if it's not a chat, which I seldom do anymore either) are kept to the two loops I own and one nice li'l group I've been hanging out on the past few weeks. The petty crap that I see happening amongst authors is mind boggling. Note, however, I'm not saying all authors do mean and rude things. For the most part all the authors I encounter are nice. It's the people who walk all over everyone else who make me shake my head and think, "Oh, yeah, that behavior is really endearing h/her to everyone in Loop World."

So, what rudeness happened to me this week, you ask?

Well, it was a simple matter, really, but it still pissed me off. Never hijack someone's thread because A) you're too damn lazy to write your own thread header, or B) you see an opportunity to steal someone's thunder to promote yourself.

Why do people stoop so low? Do they truly believe that by undercutting someone that it will benefit them in some manner? Make them more sales (if an author)? Present them in a golden light with a li'l halo?

All that unprofessional behavior does is make the offender look like donkey's butt with devil horns.

Look, blatant promos aside, in e-Bookville people take time to compose posts that will grab attention. They want readers to come to their blogs, visit their websites, and check out the contest page they might be posting about. Matter of fact, I visit author sites all the time (and used to do it a lot when I was a managing editor and scouting for talent). I love to look at the various site designs, glance over book covers, read blurbs, and investigate blogs that are unusual, entertaining, thought provoking and humorous. When I see posts put together nicely and they're attention grabbing, I often visit the links within those posts.

It's no different than being at the park showing a crowd the new pair of Jimmy Choos you were given by someone special. Suddenly a bully stomps past, throwing mud and slush all over your nice shoes. Then she turns with an evil glint in her eyes, grins, holds up a pair of stilettos and says, "Look at my sparkly new Gucci heels. Now these are special shoes."

{Yeah, special shoes that will look really pretty stuff up your...! Ahem!}

I can't count the times another author has commandeered one of my posts to put themselves in the limelight. I've had it happen on blog posts too. One thing that will piss me off in a nanosecond—and I'm not speaking of it just my posts/blogs but anyone's site I'm visiting—is someone who comes into a blog to leave a thinly veiled promo post or go off on a spiel about their book and then leave a flippin' buy link.

There is a cyber hell for such people. Oh yes, indeedie! One with flaming pitchforks tipped with the poison of bad reviews, and a big fat, sweaty dude covered in the world's worst e-book covers who eats pickled eggs and farts constantly as the offenders are charbroiled in the flames of his ass.

And don't even get me started on cyber cliques. For God's sake, I left high school twenty years ago.

Readers will buy what they want to buy. No amount of hijacking threads or stealing someone else's thunder is going to change that. And when readers see authors backstabbing, undercutting, and badmouthing other authors, it makes an impression on the reader and it's not a good one.

Writers should support one another, not stab each other in the back with sharp, spiny apostrophes and exclamation marks. And never hijack someone's loop post because it's too much effort to start a new thread with your subject. After all, don't do to others what you don't want done to you. In other words, if a person has committed this crime, then don't cry and bitch when your post or blog is hijacked one day. Karma is a bitch (and so is my muse, but that's a post for another time).

I'm getting down off my soapbox. The brimstone oozing out of it is melting my sneakers.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Righteous much?


We’ve all run into those righteous people. You know the ones who are so unpleasant, insist they are right, and believe that unless you agree with them you are going to Hell, or at the very least purgatory, and you can’t wait to escape them as soon as possible. Or the ones who act as if you are stupid because you disagree with them.

Well, the other day, while volunteering at my daughter’s school, I was one of them. I didn’t mean to be. I’d like to blame it on the insomnia that’s hounded me lately, but honestly, I can’t. Just as I won’t allow my daughter to blame poor behavior on being tired (even if it’s true in her case, but no excuses please), I won’t let myself do that either. Yup, yesterday, I turned into one of those nasty people because someone dared to disagree with my assessment of how they teach math in schools these days. With my wet hair pulled tightly back in a pseudo bun, I am sure I resembled that graphic, except my hair isn’t gray, I’m not as old, nor do my boobs sag. (They might if I had more, but I don’t, so they don’t.) Perhaps as unpleasant, but certainly not as old or saggy.

The scene went something like this:

Me: “My daughter brought home a math test the other day. This whole time change has been a rough transition on her. She’s been so tired. She usually gets 20/20, but this one was 13/20.” (This whole time change is another rant, but I doubt I’ll be able to change that.)

The mom nods in sympathy. She doesn’t see it yet, but soon I’ll turn into a raging righteous person. Poor woman!

Me: “Her teacher sent home a blank version of the test so we could go over it together. There was one problem that didn’t belong on there. It was something like this:

“There are 10 bowling balls. Jerry knocks down three with his ball. His friend Peter knocks down more. How many total do Jerry and Peter knock down?

________ + ___________ = ____________


“Now, there are four possible solutions to this problem. How the hell can you expect a 6 year old to get that when they are just learning math? My daughter asked me, ‘Mommy, am I supposed to guess?’”

The mom murmurs an agreement, but then makes a fatal mistake by saying, “Well, as an adult, I would assume that you’d take the 10 and delete the 3, and there’s your answer. Perhaps that is what they were wanting the kids to do.”

Perhaps that is what they were wanting the kids to do? Perhaps? Where the hell does “perhaps” factor into math? And the unpleasant righteous person rose in my breast, breathing fire to get out. It overcame all common sense, and I couldn’t help myself. I pounced. How dare she disagree with me? I am right! I am always right. No one should be allowed to live who doesn’t agree with me on this subject! To hell with you, stupid woman! (No, I didn’t say any of this, but I am sure my face spoke volumes.)

Me: “Except you don’t make assumptions in math. And teaching kids to make assumptions in math will only lead to problems.” I tried to say this in a pleasant voice. I don’t think I succeeded.

The other mother: “I don’t really think it’s that big of deal, and I am sure they don’t mean it that way.”

Me: “Well, I don’t know. I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable if my brother or sister-in-law who are aerospace engineers made an assumption when designing a missile.”

The other mother, disdain dripping from her voice: “There is a big difference between a six year old and an aerospace engineer.”

In my head, I’m thinking, but someday she could become one and this is what they are teaching? Me: “Well, I grew up in a family of engineers. My grandfather was an engineer, my father was an engineer, my uncle was an engineer, as is my brother. I almost became an engineer, so I was taught in no uncertain terms that assumptions in math are not acceptable.”

The look on her face finally registered in my frenzied brain. (sigh) I had alienated a mother, and rightly so.

I tried to back pedal, but it was too late. Do I still disagree with her? Yes. I firmly believe you begin with teaching children how you intend for them to go on. It’s much harder to unteach something that is wrong than to just start them with the right way from the beginning. I mean, seriously, think about it. (And away we go. I will do my best not to preach, but I have a feeling I’m going to do it anyway. People who know me know to just nod and agree with me when I get like this. grin Advice: Just nod and agree. ;) ) Do you wait until your children are teenagers to teach them manners? Because that’s what some idiot expert advised parents to do a few years back. Since a small child doesn’t understand what saying, “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” mean, it’s best to wait until they can. The same goes with “sorry.” (snort) And how successful is that strategy?

(Breathe, Marci! Breathe! I will not turn into righteous lady. I will not turn into righteous lady. I will not turn into righteous lady…)

Sigh. I don’t think it’s working. I can’t help myself. I’m sorry. Perhaps I just need to go sit in a corner until I can mellow out. It may take a while. Excuse me.

Do you have a topic that turns you into a righteous bitch/asshole? Please share. I don’t want to be the only one. And know this is a safe place to do it. I won’t judge you unless you are wrong because I disagree with you and I am the only person who can be right....ever. (g)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Alert! Alert! My Brain's Fried!

Yesterday I posted a blog on another shared site about suffering burnout only to realize later that I'd posted on the wrong day. I checked my planner and realized my error. Even my eyes are tired! The day I was to blog was up against the calendar's header and I hadn't seen it. So, after I'd gone through the effort of posting the blog link in various places, and the date of the post was corrected, I now had a URL that was leading to an error page. Gah! (you can read it HERE).

I sat here at my desk and shook my head as I wished for a fresh cup of coffee. I am so damn tired today it's pathetic.

Between juggling upcoming writing deadlines, blog obligations, a very sick li'l boy, and dealing with family matters, I've pared off some things on my usual to-do list so I can focus on meeting my deadlines and be able to think more coherently.

Obviously it isn't working. ::snort::

This got me to thinking about some of the crazy things people do when they're exhausted or burnt-out.

Lately I'll be telling one of my kids or my hubby something only to have the thought fizzle. I'll stand there and try to grasp the last bits of the thought train only to sigh and watch that li'l thought caboose fade into the sunset.

"Mom, what's the matter with you?"

"I'm tired. My brain misfires when I'm tired."

"Then take a break from stuff."

"I would," I often reply, "if people around here would pitch in and help me with things."

And that reply causes mass hysteria because what follows is a stampede for the nearest exits.

Lovely.

As for my earlier coffee comment...let's be honest. Drinking more coffee doesn't aid in helping you be more alert. It just makes you clueless AND hyper.

Ever have those days where you're frazzled and you're looking for your misplaced spectacles only to realize after two hours of searching for them that they're on top of your head?

Oh! Oh! Here's a good one that I still tease my hubby about. He'd been working overtime, going in earlier and working later, and one day when he'd gotten home from work, the phone rang and he answered it. He talked to the person for about fifteen minutes, said goodbye, got up out of his chair, walked to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and placed the cordless on the top shelf, slamming the door shut.

Watching this with amazed amusement, I said, "Honey, why'd you hang the phone up in the fridge?"

He blinked stupidly. "What?"

"You hung the cordless up in the fridge."

"No, I didn't."

"Yes, you did."

Irritated with me, he yanked open the door. "No, goddammit I—"

I burst out laughing. He grabbed the phone and put it back on the charger. "Shut up," he said gently. "Not one word. I'm tired."

Exhaustion does wild things to a person's mind, body and attitude. It makes me worry about air traffic controllers who were out partying all night. {Glances around guiltily} Yeah, I have some bizarre thoughts that cross my mind.

My youngest daughter fell asleep on the loveseat after school on Friday. I woke her, told her to go upstairs and take a nap. The following morning she finally woke from that nap. She asked who sent her upstairs, and I replied that I had. She remembers nothing about it.

Man, I'd love to be twelve and a half again with juggling several boyfriends and keeping my grades up as my only stress factors!

Ever walk into a closet thinking it's the bathroom or have one of your children pull a crazy stunt in their sleep? One of my cousin-in-laws, who was about eight at the time, wandered into a kitchen full of adults. It was around 11 PM, and he sauntered through in his PJs, opened the door to the sink cabinet, and whizzed underneath the sink. OMG, I thought his grandmother was going to come unglued. He remembered nothing about it the next morning, which sort of took the fire out of Grandmother's ire, lol.

Heck, I've gotten so bad of late with my exhaustion that my kids insist they've told me something, yet I have no recollection of it. Mind you, with the youngest girl, I sometimes wonder if she watches for moments when I'm drained to ask me things I would normally say no to. She'll swear I've agreed to something that I have no memory of even discussing with her! I know I'm not the only one who suffers this sort of weariness because the hubby has done the same thing to me. I'll tell him I have an appointment somewhere, and he'll ask why I never told him, and then the argument is in full swing.

Ever sent an email you have no memory of writing let alone hitting SEND? I have! Thank God my brain kicked on to autopilot and knew what it was doing because I sure as hell didn't! I'll sit at my desk frowning and scratching my head as I wonder when I'd sent that email and then marvel over the fact that I'd had intentions of doing so but got sidetracked, and then marvel further over the fact that the email is spelled correctly and makes sense! HAHAHA!

Oh, here's another one: if you're a harried writer with a deadline, have you ever opened your manuscript file the next day to find several hundred words you don't remember writing? {slowly raises hand}

How I manage to do this could only have two possible answers. A) I have a split personality and no one's bothered to tell me about it yet, or B) My brain is a wired in such a manner that it has an emergency override mechanism that I'm just now discovering.

The strange things we do when tired, such as driving fifty miles and not remembering any of it, makes one wonder about the mysterious powers of the mind, doesn't it? And we do some hilarious things when we're on overload mode like saying words backward. That's another one I'm notorious for.

"I'm bed going to go."

My oldest daughter will crack up. "WHAT???"

I pause, consider what I just said and then start laughing too. "I'm going to go to bed, now shut the hell up and leave me alone."

She walks away giggling her head off.

How about being slaphappy or what some call punch drunk? Again, it's another of my exhaustion traits, but my oldest dau suffers it too. When we get together and are both slaphappy, my hubby just shakes his head and walks into the kitchen where he watches TV. Within seconds the volume goes up to drown us out.

I'm hoping to get caught up on deadlines AND rest soon, but so far I'm a cat chasing its tail.

On a side note, I want to share a nice interview HERE and also tell you about the li'l ticker(s) on the side bar. If you look under my section you'll see a green one with a jockey and a horse. What we're doing is posting tickers about our latest WIP or a personal goal. Mine is for my latest agented novel that I'll start any time now. When we decide to mention our goal, you can peek at the tickers under our names to see how we're doing.

To Be You or Not To Be You, That is the Question...


Authors behaving badly. I’ve often wondered if I’m one of them just by being “me”. I mean, it’s a choice between being yourself so your readers know exactly who you are, or putting on such a polished veneer that you come across as glossy but hard as wood. Zero personality. A good girl who always does as she’s told. I feel, when on my personal blogs or here at Four Strong Women, I can be myself. I curse. I say things I maybe shouldn’t. I probably sound crass, uneducated, common, or whatever else some people might want to call me. But hell, I’m a human being first and foremost, a person who has tried acting the mega professional and found it a miserable, crummy existence. It was boring. Confining. Being myself is infinitely better. I’m comfortable blogging here, knowing I can say whatever I like, and the pals I share this blog with, and hopefully our dear readers, know to take me as they find me.

Okay, I’ve blogged about a couple of things that some may feel had me walking very close to that fine line that no one seems to be able to see—but we all know it exists. The ones that spring to mind are either not getting paid royalties or getting low royalties. Is there some unspoken rule I’m unaware of here? I don’t recall ever signing anything that made me promise never to say I didn’t get paid much last quarter. Am I meant to keep quiet about low sales or a publisher who hasn’t paid me in months, despite me knowing damn well I’ve made them money in one form or another? These subjects are a big part of my life, so talking about them comes naturally. I’m not in any way saying my publishers are to blame for low sales. Shit, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m awful at promotion.

I had many responses on my Sarah Masters blog regarding the topic of people thinking you’re raking in the cash as soon as you’re published. It’s a bloody myth for most of us, and not a subject to sweep under the carpet and pretend isn’t happening either. There are many things I could talk about but I don’t. Some things ARE best left unsaid, and I keep those to myself or chat about it with my husband. But I do get a little tired of talk about this invisible line we’re not meant to cross, even though I totally understand it at the same time. Going out there in public moaning about certain things doesn’t do you a jot of good (shit, I’m so fucked!). As the saying goes in Romanceland: You’re being watched.

Yes, we’re all aware we may be being watched, but to be honest, the thought of that is downright creepy sometimes. People lurking online reading your posts and forming an opinion of you that may not necessarily be who you really are, then possibly penalising you for it without you even knowing. As an example, let’s say I wrote a post complaining that I’d had a kerfuffle with a cover artist. (I most certainly haven’t, by the way.) Let’s pretend I’m unhappy with my cover, detest it, in fact, and asked if I could have a few changes made. Publisher said no. Their word is final. Fine, except...what if I want to talk about my feelings on the subject? I have a choice here. To blog about it, mentioning no names, and express how I felt, or to keep quiet so that the lurkers won’t see what I’ve written, and then decide that I’m a diva who must be avoided at all costs. No contract for YOU, missus. You’re on our blacklist. (And is there even one of those, hmmm? Do all publishers REALLY talk to one another? I’ve worked for a few, and I’d say this isn’t the case.)

I’m not a diva, though, but it could be construed that I am if I blogged about the cover scenario, yet all I wanted to do was write down a few thoughts and have feedback from others in my situation.

It’s an interesting subject for sure. How much personal information/emotion is too much? How much of “you” should you put in your posts? We all know that very personal information isn’t the done thing—and whoops, I’ve crossed the line there too. Ran the hell over it, very deep into “I mustn’t blog about this” territory with my post about dyeing pubic hairs. That post may well have sealed my coffin. If I submit to a publisher and they find that post, read it, and deem it distasteful, which it is to some, I may get a rejection based on that. Sod whether my writing was all right. I blogged about a taboo subject, so therefore I mustn’t be offered a contract.

ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZ…

It was my decision whether to blog about it. I had to decide whether our readers could handle such a subject, and to be quite honest, I think you all can. You realise us Four Strong Women need a place to be open and talk about whatever the frick we like. And hey, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that with the amount of comments we get, others feel the same way we do about the subjects we cover.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this place here, this blog, is my version of the water cooler in an office. We shoot the shit here, discuss things we wouldn’t while sitting at our desks where our employers can see us—and yeeeeees, I know my "employers" can see me here too, but I feel my employers, or, let’s just get it right out there, my publishers, realise this is my place to waffle about crap. I haven’t named them in anything negative I’ve said, and there is only one publisher I’m unhappy with anyway, and that involves something crimson that grows in a garden.

See, even by me saying that I’ve either come close to the line or crossed over it. When I’m writing my posts, I’m constantly aware of being watched. So that leads me to the crux of what’s bugging the fuck out of me.

I’m sick and tired of being someone I’m not. Always editing my posts so What’sherface isn’t unhappy, or Thingamibob isn’t made to frown and decides to “keep a close eye” on me, or Jane bloody Doe is shaking her head wondering how someone with such good manners in private emails can be so…yuk on a public blog.

I do know how to behave in a professional manner. I just don’t always do that here, as is my right.

How do you feel about always having to watch what you say/write? Do you feel restricted, surrounded by rules—invisible rules at that? Do you ever want to just break out and type what was on your mind and fuck what anyone thinks? Have you? What were the consequences, if any?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Guest Blogger - Ann Nonymous




Hi folks! Today we have one hilarious woman joining us for the weekend. I discovered her blog by accident, browsing, as you do, and got hooked right away because of the humour. Since then, she’s on my “go to” list of blogs for when I’m in need of a damn good laugh. Her name is Ann Nonymous, and she’s been writing a diary of sorts about the dates she’s been on in her quest to find a partner. I was just rude enough to email her and ask if she’d like to join us, and thankfully, she said yes! Her blog title alone cracked me up—Shit My Date Does—so right there she’s onto a winner with me. Ann gives her dates names, and they are tied in with the weird shit these blokes do. Honestly, it's too funny.

Please put your loving hands together several times in a clapping motion and welcome Ann Nonymous!

Sarah: Whoo! Hi, Ann. I’m stupidly excited that you agreed to an interview. In fact, I have that giddy feeling in my belly. How insane is that? So let’s get on with the quezzies, you groovy gal, you.

What was the worst date you've been on?



Ann: Oh, it has to be with Toes. I nicknamed him that because he embarrassed me at dinner by acting like a 12-year-old boy (including cramming chopsticks in his mouth and doing his very sexy impression of a walrus, as well as screaming "Yarrrrr!" when ordering a huge beer). And after that, he stuck his bare foot in my face and proclaimed that I couldn't smell his feet because they didn't stink, even though he wore his shoes all day. Boy, I'm thrilled to know that--my life is all the better now!

Sarah: TOES! AAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA! WHAT A FRIKKING FREAK! I have no idea how you didn't puke or punch his weirdo face in.

Talking of weirdoes... Who was the weirdest man?

Ann: The weirdest? Even though Toes was weird, probably the most odd was the freakshow who was talking about how hot it would be for me to put him in a headlock with my thighs. I didn't know how to respond to that, honestly, except to flat-out go invisible on him.

Sarah: OMG. Umm, I don't quite know what to say about that. I'd have had visions of him being a murderer or something.

Which guy gave you the serious willies? I'm not talking about slipping you any passion either...

Ann: Ohhhhhh serious willies. Let me see. I don't remember any guys who were seriously creepy. The closest was the guy who wouldn't stop talking about his ex. And by talking, I mean RANTING--to the point of saying he'd gotten to the point where he wanted to kill her. Yeah, that disturbed me.

Sarah: Oh Lord. Kind of makes you think: So if we got together and I became the ex...

Which date had the most what-the-fuckery?

Ann: Oh, DEFINITELY the golf course douchebag. That jerkface ignored me the entire time, instead spending his time talking to his sluttily dressed coworker. Also making sure to point out to me how verrrrrry super-hot she was, and that she was his trophy female. Gosh, buddy--thanks. I made it through around a half-hour of misery before jumping ship.

Sarah: Oh, I read that post. I'll paste it below for our readers because one part of it had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

Would you recommend joining a date site?

Ann: Overall? Yes I would. Just realize that someone may seem awesome in profile, in email, on the phone...but turn out to be a total turd in person. Be prepared to date a lot of frogs before finding your prince; patience is the name of the game. Or maybe you'll be the lucky person who finds Prince or Princess Charming early on...in which case, I'll seriously hate you for life. haha

Sarah: Ahahaha! Well, thank you for joining us today, Ann. I'm just glad I don't have to do any of this dating business. Please don't hate me!


Ann Nonymous and the Golf Guy


Okay, so there are free dating websites out there, in case you didn't know. One is called Plentyoffish, which is filled with precious gems. And by precious gems, I totally mean unbelievably stupid men. Here's one such guy I'm going to call Douchenozzle. For a douche by any other name would still stink like hell.

So, Douchenozzle connected with me on PoF and seemed really sweet at first! We had a lot of fun IMing each other, and he made me laugh. We set up a date, and he seemed super excited about meeting me.

He let me know a few days before he completely forgot, but he'd already made plans to grill out for a group's annual golf outing that day. But if I was interested, maybe I could come hang out, have a beer or two and walk around the golf course with him, and then when his shift was over, we could go out.

The day before, I text him to confirm. He doesn't reply. So I call him, and he's all distracted and weird on the phone. Whatever--I figured he's busy. The morning of, I send Douchenozzle a text confirming that we're meeting at 11:30. I get a brisque reply of, "Make it noon. I'm grilling."

Well, this kind of pissed me off. I replied that if he was busy, we could just reschedule. He writes back some blathering kind of "no, no, let's still meet" bullshit. Against my better judgment, I go.

I arrive at the golf course and introduce myself to him. He's standing there with a woman in a tiny tank top and even tinier shorts, whom he introduces to me as his "trophy girl." Uh, ok--whatever. Maybe they have some kind of quirky relationship.

I then proceed to spend the next 10 minutes being COMPLETELY IGNORED while he talks to trophy girl. I can't emphasize to you enough how it was like I was invisible. I could have stripped down to my underpants and smacked my ass on top of the table, and he wouldn't have noticed me. What the crap?

Eventually, Douchenozzle finally deigns to spend some "alone" time with me. We walk along the cart trail on the golf course, spending 5 minutes of agonizingly painful conversation. And by conversation, I mean I talk a lot, and he gives gruff answers.

Then he gets a call from a buddy and says, "Okay, I'll head back then." Apparently, he's waiting on a dude to show up, which trumps talking to me. Oh, goody!! I just love feeling not-at-all special!

We wait another few awkward minutes, during which time he and trophy girl reconnect, and they spend the entire time wondering where that dude is. Douchenozzle decides he wants to find someplace for us to sit down--me, him...and trophy girl.

At this point, I'm fed up and say I need to go, that I have errands to run. Douchenozzle has the effing nerve to look completely surprised, saying he's disappointed tht I'm going to leave. I bluntly inform him I'm disappointed too.

Ugh. Okay, I ignored my gut instinct and went on this horrible date anyway. Why did I do that? I had a feeling it was going to suck ass. Assity ass ass. During one point in the "date", I actually went to the bathroom and debated sneaking out a window. But I felt like I owed it to whatever the crap it was we "had" to give him a chance.

Douchenozzle, you taught me an important lesson: if a guy isn't showing enthusiasm about being with me before our date, he sure as hell ain't gonna muster it up when we're actually together. Frankly, it wasn't worth the 45 minutes of agony--I hadn't realized anything could be worse than having a guy cling desperately to me.

But being completely ignored in favor of some hot-piece-of-ass coworker illuminated a whoooole new level of suck.

Sigh.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Blue Light Special



Blue Light Pictures, Images and Photos


Trust me. I'm not talking about K-Mart and that mobile light thingy that they roll around the store with a blue strobe light alerting shoppers to a fast sale on some odd little item. Hell, does K-Mart even do that anymore? I haven't been inside a K-Mart in years. But when we had one locally years ago, I'd see that blue strobe start flashing and watch people run toward the light. Guess they didn't equate it with a near-death experience. But to me it was nothing more than several mini Black Fridays. Dangerous.

But what I'm talking about here is something far more dangerous AND COSTLY!

Yep, I'm pissed off. I've been trying really hard not to be, though. I've let this issue simmer since late August--August 25th actually. And then two weeks ago it hit just way too close to home. And STILL, I tried to wait out the pissed off feeling. But every morning and then afternoon, it gets stirred up again. I'm constantly reminded of just how pissed off I am and that makes me even more pissed off. It's like a wound that won't heal--just sits there festering. Oh, it's pussy all right. And no, I don't mean female genitalia--I mean pussy as in Pus-E. Having a pus-like appearance.

Now I have respect for the law in general. Although, I do think there are good laws and bad laws. I especially have issues with laws that try to dictate morality. But morality isn't at stake in this particular situation.

A new charter school was built last year about a half a mile from my house. Wonderful, no problem. Love it. Thought about sending my kid there but the NO SPORTS, little socialization thing turns me off so he remains where he's been. It's a good school and this is not the school's fault. But with that school came a school zone. You have to reduce your speed limit--and you should. I don't even have a problem with that.

My problem is this:

I live out in the country on a main highway. A very busy highway in which my house is set back from the road a pretty good ways in the middle of fifteen acres. People driving on this road are heading to work each morning and home in the afternoon just like everywhere else. But these people are going sixty miles an hour and have been making this trek daily for years and years--coming from other towns going to other towns. This road is also well-traveled by those going to other states even. So not everyone is familiar with the new speed zone, plus it's kind of hard to get used to a new speed limit when you've been traveling this road forever. LIKE ME. No. I didn't get a ticket--yet.

So they have the signs up. Check. They have part of the signs in bright neon green too. Check. And the zone is very very short--like maybe four or five hundred feet only--hardly seems worth it. And this charter school doesn't have a buttload of students so not a lot of in and out there to start with. But there's a golf course across the street and the addition of the school makes for a lot of slow downs. And I really don't mind slowing down. I don't want to hit a parent going in and out of the school with their kids for sure.

So what pisses me off? Every damn day since August 25th, every morning and every afternoon as I am taking my kid to school then coming home, then trudging back up the road that afternoon to pick up and back home again, I see two patrol cars on the side of the road with their blue lights flashing as they are giving someone a ticket. Now this occurs FIVE, count 'em, FIVE days a damn week. I guess we'll get a little relief over Thanksgiving and Christmas break. HA!

The fine for this ticket is $100. The court costs which you have to pay whether you go to court or not are a $150. So that's $250. And I only see two in the morning and two in the afternoon, but more people are pulled over than that. So let's do the math. A minimum of four people are pulled over daily (just what I see). That's $400 a day in fines that goes to the little dip shit town that is getting the money from these tickets. Not to mention the court costs--and what all that is for is beyond me.
So $400 a day times five days a week is $2,000 a week. And this has been going on for ten weeks. So that means those fines are now up to $20,000.00. That's twenty thousand dollars. A whole boatload of money if you ask me.

The officers in the patrol cars hide in this old lady's driveway. She is now a resident in a care facility--she's ninety--so she's not there to protest. And they also hide next to the golf course's entrance. Now if it were MY driveway, they would NOT be there. Nothing the old lady can do and it's obvious her family doesn't know or doesn't care--no skin off their teeth, of course. The golf course? Well, they can't say too much since the town piped water all the way out there to them for free so they could sell homes between half a million and a million bucks each.

What I want to know is this: HAVEN'T THEY MADE ENOUGH EFFING MONEY YET TO INSTALL SOME DAMN FLASHING LIGHTS TO WARN PEOPLE THE FREAKING SCHOOL ZONE IS THERE YET????? OTHER SCHOOL ZONES HAVE FLASHING LIGHTS--WHY NOT THIS ONE?????

IT'S A FREAKING SPEED TRAP. A HONEY POT FOR THAT LITTLE DIP SHIT TOWN. Everyone talks about it--we all know it. So WTF can we do about it? Not much it seems. You argue with the town about it and they'll come down harder. I thought about calling the newspaper and telling them to just go out there and sit and watch and take pics, but I haven't done it. YET.

In the meantime, you can see me slamming on brakes just as I remember that sign each morning and afternoon. I pray a lot when I do that because I'm terrified some unsuspecting motorist is tailgating me and I'm about to get rear-ended. I DID see something a week ago that made me laugh like hell. Seven big rigs--eighteen-wheelers--slowed down like a mile or so before the zone and crawled all the say through it---I KNOW that was their little message to those boys in blue laying in wait--"HEY, WE KNOW YOU'RE HERE MR. BEARS!" (I think bear is trucker jargon for cop.)

So why am I so ultra pissed off all of sudden and feel the need to blog about this? My oldest got a ticket. Yep, she did. Between fines and getting her an attorney? I'm about to be out $700 smackers. I honestly believe that was all the nudge I'll need to call the newspaper. God I need a bubble bath. Whiskey would be nice too.