Sunday, August 28, 2005

I’m Not Gone Yet

Surprise, it’s a few hours later and we haven’t left yet. I’m waiting and watching and praying that the eye will move over just enough so we can stay. We are still getting things ready. Managed to find some plywood at the last moment so hubby and son are outside putting up the plywood on the windows.

I figure we have another two hours and then if we are going, we're gonna have to go. End of discussion time. There will be a point where it’s too late to run. It seems here in Bogalusa half the people I talk to are going and half are staying.

So which half is making the right choice?

Time To Go!

I didn’t want to do this, but we are running. I went to sleep last night praying so hard we wouldn’t have to, but hurricane Katrina got stronger during the time and didn’t turn from her path. She is now a category five, which is the strongest they record, and her eye wall that as of right now has winds sustained at over 160 miles per hour and gusts well over 200 mph, is heading right for us. They are calling her the perfect storm and say she might even get stronger. Of course, they have said to get…to run…that houses anywhere near the eye aren’t going to be standing when Katrina goes through.

Some how I’m loading eight dogs into a car and a truck and what else I can, and we are going. We are taking both vehicles because our house and driveway have huge old oak trees around them. My son got married three months ago and now lives next door. They will be running with us with their pets. My home is brick, so I figure I have a better chance of coming home to it than he does to his, but they might both be gone with everything in them.

I trying to remember that things are things and our lives are the only thing that is important, but the though of losing everything to this monster is just… I don’t even know how to explain it.

I better hush and finish getting ready to go. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to fit in all dogs yet, two of which can’t stand the rest and are kept in another yard. I need to figure out what I can take with me and where we are going to go. I don’t think there’s any where we can go stay, so we’ll probably drive as many hours away as we can, and then turn around drive back and hope they allow us back in.

Please send prayers our way!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Okay, So Now I Really Hate Hurricanes!

Well, all the best wishes for a death over water didn’t work on hurricane Katrina. She’s coming and it looks like nothing is going to stop her. We’ve taken small hits over the years, been through a couple that were more than bad enough, but they said today that this is the one they have been warning us about. The big one. The last time one this bad hit us dead on was forty years ago. Her name was Betsy and people still remember her wrath. Not to give away my age, but I was only a few months old then.

I’m a couple of hours away from New Orleans, so since we aren’t below sea level like them, I think they will leave it up to us if we leave or not. I’m not sure what is the right thing to do. I don’t want to leave if we can be safe here. With eight dogs it would be a nightmare. But there are worse nightmares than traveling with that many dogs, like the roof coming off or a huge oak tree coming through our home, with us in it. I guess all we can do is keep watching each update as they come and then make up our minds what’s the best thing to do. We are already under a hurricane watch, Louisiana’s governor has declared a state of emergency, but our weather isn’t supposed to start getting bad until tomorrow.

If we go, it will be only until the hurricane is gone, but oh what she’ll leave behind for us. Days, probably weeks even, without power in this heat….our heat index is about 105 today. That kind of heat without even a fan is an awful thing to deal with. Then there is no lights, no TV, no microwave, no refrigerator, not even a washer or dryer…not to mention a computer. I have a laptop but without power, I could use it for maybe a couple of hours and then that would be that.

We are prepared. We did all of the running this morning. The stores were packed and crazy. We bought bread, water, lunchmeat, canned goods, chips, charcoal, and all of that needed stuff. Already have our lanterns and batteries and all put up in a big hurricane kit. We had to go back to the store a little bit ago for another ice chest and some more ice. Things had gotten even worse. It took stops at a number of places to find ice, and since I was worried about not having enough bread, more bread. The lines at every store and every gas station were huge. At least my running around is done.

Feel free to send prayers, light, good thoughts or what ever you’ve got, our way. (Smile)

Friday, August 26, 2005

I Hate Hurricanes!

Here we go again. I guess I shouldn’t complain. I really have no right at all. But you know how us humans are. (Smile) I’m in Louisiana, minutes away from the Mississippi state line, and not that far up from the Gulf. So every time a hurricane gets out there it seems to at least threaten to come this way and we have to spend days watching the news and waiting and preparing. Most of them lately have been turning and hitting Florida. (Which is why I mention above that I have no right to complain. The poor people in Florida are the ones who own the rights to that.)

And yet, here I am complaining.

The hurricane in the Gulf right now is Katrina. She crossed the lower tip of Florida to get into the Gulf and was then supposed to turn north and head up and hit the top of Florida. It seems she decided one snack of Florida might be enough for now. She’s not taking that north turn the weathermen had promised us. Nope. Not her. She’s still heading mostly west. Now they are saying the longer it takes her to take that north turn, the worse it looks for us here.

That means if she hasn’t turned by in the morning it’ll be time to head out for extra water, bread, lunchmeat, can goods, all of that kind of stuff. The getting prepared, the watching and the waiting, even when we luck up, it is just so hard on the nerves. Didn’t used to be. I remember as a teenager thinking it was all fun. It doesn’t feel fun now. It just feels scary, and it’s expensive and it’s upsetting.

I also have a home surrounded by pine and big oaks now, that could fall and crush said home. I also have way too many dogs now, and if we have to leave, the shelters won’t take them. I have eight of the monstors for goodness sakes—three of them pretty darn big dogs. So no hotel is going to take us either. I couldn’t leave them here for the trees to fall on, so I guess we’ll just have to load up some how, and all run if it comes down to a really bad hurricane heading this way. Not that there’s a good hurricane. With the price of gas right now, driving for about twelve hours and then turning around and driving right back will be even more of a nightmare than it would normally be. And that would be a pretty bad nightmare with eight dogs.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not wishing Katrina on anyone else. Especially poor Florida! I just wish she could sit out there in the Gulf and die right there without hitting any of us.

Are you listening, Katrina? Be a good girl and go to sleep out there in the nice warm water.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Senior Pictures

Yesterday I took my daughter to the photographer to have senior pictures made. It was a great mother/daughter day. It started with digging through her closet and picking out the outfits for the pictures—we only disagreed a few times. (Smile) We ended up with everything from shorts and a t-shirt to a formal dress. Then we did her hair and makeup. Of course we ended up rushing in the end. Always works out that way on big days, no matter how earlier I try to get started.

My daughter is shy and never likes being the center of attention, so she was nervous about the session, but soon loosened up and had a great time. The photographer did a wonderful job at making her feel comfortable and of arranging her, the backgrounds and the props.

In fact, he did so well that I’m almost fearful of the trip back today to pick out which shots we want. There were poses done in chairs, by chairs, on the floor, on props, all inside at first. The studio is in a huge white two-story southern home with big wrap around front porch with white columns. So after the inside shots we moved outside for pictures on the porch, on the grass, against a lovely old shed in the back that was covered with ivy, even against a big oak tree and then on a bale of hay.

Just watching as the photos were taken, I could tell how good they were going to look. I also realized that I have a very lovely daughter who as bad as I hate to admit, is a lovely young woman now, not near a child anymore.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Spammers, Spammers Every Where!

I guess I've been really lucky so far. Until today, I hadn't been hit once with spam on my blog. I should have known that luck couldn't hold out. Suddenly today the storm blew in. (Frown) I was getting hit as many as five times in less than thirty minutes. At first I tried to just keep coming back in and deleting the spam, but there's only one of me a lot of them, so for now I've had to change the settings on my blog so those posting a comment have to type in a code word that is shown to them when they go to post.

I'm sorry, I know it's a pain, but I just didn't know what else to do for now. That little code word can't stop all spam of course, but it will stop all the auto spam. Maybe this is just a wave and in a couple of days I'll be able to set things back as they were. I hope!

Does Research Sweep You Away?

I was working away on my MS today, and then I ran into a little snag. I needed a few more details and info for a scene to make sure it seemed real to the reader. I got on line and did some searches, then some more, finally began to find some bits of the info I was looking for, but it's never good enough for me.

So much searching, more info, more links to follow. I finally had to just yell, “Enough!” to myself.

Does research pull you in? It sure gets me unless I put a tight hold on my curiosity. (Smile) I guess we just have to remember that too many details in a scene can be as bad, or maybe even worse, than not enough of them.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Should You Enter a Writing Contest?

I see this question asked a lot on e-mail groups. There is no complete right or wrong answer, since it depends on the person, the type of writing, the contest, and much more. If it’s a contest that a publisher is running, the first thing to ask yourself is if that publisher is one you’d like to publish your book with.

If the answer is no, you need ask nothing else. Don't enter.

If the answer is yes, then see if the publisher is charging an entry fee. Big publishers usually don’t. If it’s a small or new publisher and they are charging an entry fee, then give it a second thought, since they might be holding the contest only to raise money, or even to bring in writers and then charge them for publishing. There are sharks in them there waters, people, so be careful. (Smile)

RWA contests. These always charge fees, but there are good reasons to enter one. Many have published judges or experienced judges. That means for a small fee you can get some feedback from strangers about your writing. Even if the judges aren’t that experienced, they are still romance readers and they know what they like and what they don’t. They might not be able to explain as well why chapter three works for them when chapter two put them to sleep, but they can let you know there is a problem. And since they don’t know who you are, and you don’t know who they are, there’s much more freedom for them to tell it like it is. Family and friends often won’t.

The biggest reason I think there is to enter an RWA contest, or any contest, would be for the hopes of reaching the final judge. Of course that judge should be a top agent or top editor that you really want to reach. Winning or finaling in a contest is also good fuel to add to any query letter. It tells an agent or editor that your writing was good enough to get you that far.

And that ain’t chicken scratch. (Smile)

Do note that just because a manuscript doesn’t do well in a contest doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. There are bad judges out there, and there are great stories that just aren’t formatted to do well in a romance writing contest. Like say, if your hero and heroine don’t even meet in those judged pages. Or the story is more single title than romance. Or maybe it’s not romance at all. Or maybe your hero is a jerk for the first fifty pages -- which could be dangerous even if you are sending to agents and publishers. We do like to like the characters we read about in a romance, at least the ones that we are supposed to cheer for.

See, told you there was no complete right or wrong. You’ll have to look at where you are in your writing, how quick does your story hook the reader -- which really should always be quick if you ask me -- is your story romance, can you afford to enter the contest, do you want to reach that publisher, editor or agent that will be doing the final round of judging, and many other questions.

In the end, you are the only one who will be able to decide if entering a certain contest, a number of them, or none at all, is in your best interest as a writer.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fear of Needles and Being a New Diabetic

I’ve had a fear of needles… No, not a fear. A fear is reasonable, and what I feel about needles, even the smallest ones, isn’t reasonable. What I have is a phobia of needles. Webster lists a phobia as “an irrational, excessive, and persistent fear of some thing or some situation.” Yes, that’s how I feel about needles. The simple mention of the chance of a shot can send me over the edge. My blood pressure spikes, my skin becomes flushed and then pale, I feel cold to the touch but I’m burning up and sweating at the same time. I feel light headed and sick to my stomach. Not a pleasant thing.

It’s so bad in fact that years ago I had two major surgeries and refused pain medicines afterwards both times because at first the doctor would only order pain shots. When I wouldn’t give in, he finally ordered me pills, which on an empty stomach made me throw up. Of course since I was cut from can’t to can, the nurse came running with a shot to stop the throwing up. You can guess that she left with it.

Now, would any adult put themselves through such pain over a little fear?


That’s a phobia for you.

Well a few months ago my doctor…after getting the results back from some blood work she had ordered…with a needle…said rather causally that my blood sugar was too high. It had been a couple of times and that I was a diabetic and should watch what I ate and work out and lose some weight. She said it so matter of fact and then moved on that I don’t think it even landed in my mind. I was sure I had misunderstood probably, that she just meant my blood sugar was a little high and so I should watch what I ate, ect….

When I came back to see her three months later for a fasting finger poke, my blood sugar was high enough that I was put on a daily pill for it. She also suggested that I get a blood tester for home and keep an eye on my sugar level at least a few times a week. I smiled and nodded but left there in shock I think. I was so upset that I don’t even see how I made it home. I remember thinking that I would rather die than face a needle every day. That there was just no way I could do that. I just couldn't. I just wouldn't!

Three months later, after working out more and eating right even better, I went back to her again for another fasting finger poke. The results weren’t good.

I left there with orders to double up on my daily blood sugar meds and to start checking my sugar levels often at home. It took me a month to accept it and to finally talk myself into the machine. It turns out that although I still can’t stand the thought of a needle, I wasn’t ready to die over it after all. And I sure didn’t want to let things get worse and have to add daily injections to the blood sugar tests.

It’s been over a week now. And I doubt I’m testing as often as some do, but I am testing daily and many days a number of times throughout the day. I’m learning when my sugar levels are the most stable during the day, and when they are the most unstable. Morning is a bad time for me. I have to really watch my carbohydrates at breakfast to the point of having little or no carbs then. Lunch is my best time and I can get away with more. I’m learning what things seem to trigger a spike in my sugar levels and what doesn’t. It’s not easy, but I’m dealing and I’m doing what has to be done so I can be here for my family even if not for myself. So I’m feeling pretty proud about those awful sticks. And who knows, after a few hundred, maybe I want even begin to shake and turn cold just from the thought of it. (Smile)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

RWA Controversy

I first joined RWA over a decade ago. Since that time I’ve seen one battle after another. It’s pretty sad and disheartening to me. RWA should be all about support and encouragement and promoting a decent wage and a positive imagine for romance writers and our novels, but way too often it’s just a place for some members who have issues, old hurts, or old anger, to vent and cause whatever trouble they can. They wait and watch for any slip, mistake, or the slightest hint of discord, and then they grab a big long stick with both hands, jab it into the pot of you know what, and stir with glee until they smell up everything they can reach. (And with the internet, that’s a far reach.)

If you think I’m being mean or unjust, just sit back and watch the next time any little thing comes up that can cause trouble. In fact, you’ll probably notice the same people are there first and handing out the sticks every time. They toss in conspiracy theories and how board members all have their own agenda, they try to make it seem that the published members are against the unpublished and the print authors think they are better than the e-published authors and…well….if you have been a member of RWA for a while, you’ve heard it all.

It is not us against them. RWA is one group of romance writers.

Let’s face it, RWA is a huge organization. There is no way you can please everyone even in a small group. So of course not every member of RWA is going to find that the group fills all of their needs or even supports all of them. A large organization’s goal is for the good and betterment of the majority.

RWA isn’t there to support other genres of writing. The group is called Romance Writers of America. There are other organizations out that for other genres though.

RWA isn’t there to support every publisher. That means there are standards set for publishers. If a publisher can’t meet those standards then that’s not RWA’s fault. The idea is to help writers earn the best pay they can for their work. That’s the same goal every big writing organization should have.

RWA is run by a president and board that are elected by members. They serve without pay and often while putting up with constant criticism and very few thanks. They are writers like the rest of us, and human like the rest of us, which means they aren’t perfect. So that means there will be mistakes and missteps and maybe even things just done down right wrong once in a great while.

No matter what though, making a public spectacle of the situation, going on every e-mail group and board, fighting with each other, repeating things that may and may not be true, bringing up again every wrong they feel RWA has ever made, keeping on until it spills out to the general public and writing groups that have nothing to do with romance, only makes RWA and all of her members look bad.

I sure haven’t seen the same thing happen with other major genre organization. RWA is hugely made up and run by women, we all write and read romance, so what kind of impression does this give of us to others?

I really feel that the people we elect to run RWA try to do the best they can and to please the majority of members as much as they can. I know I wouldn’t want to stand in the shoes of any one of them for even a week. Just writing this one note is enough stress for me. I’ve seen what happens when someone disagrees with those stick stirrers. If you think they can turn on RWA quickly, you should see what they do when someone dares to not agree with them, or hand them back a little of their own medicine.

That works in their favor though, since pretty soon few people will argue with them on an e-mail list--I know I stopped even trying years ago--so only the people who agree with them post and keep things going. They stir things up so much that you begin to feel that everyone must agree with them, since that’s all you see. It’s not true though. The votes by RWA members prove that time after time. It’s just that a lot of us don’t care to fight with them anymore. In fact, it’s for all of those who don’t like the fights, that I’m daring to write this for so you’ll know you aren’t the only ones left who don’t agree or who don’t enjoy the tension.

I’d like to think that most RWA members are part of the organization for the positive things I mentioned above and that the negative things bother them as much as they do me. That when they have a problem they would send an e-mail or a letter to RWA and calmly explain the issue they have, what they feel is unjust or wrong about it, and then give some things that they feel would be more satisfactory. After all of that is said and done, remember that things still might not be the way you wish they were because maybe the majority of members didn’t agree or didn’t have the same wants or needs. As adults though, we know that just because we look in a box of apples and find a couple going bad, that doesn’t mean we have to throw out all of the apples and the box along with them, and then go cut down the tree.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not on the RWA board or do I have any agenda other than telling it like I see it. (Smile) I really don’t care if you belong to RWA or not, if you are published or not, are print or e-published, or anything else. If you write romance novels and you want to be the best writer you can be and help others learn what great things romance novels are, and help solve problems instead of making them worse or making more of them, then you’re all right by me. (Smile)