Friday, December 29, 2006

Mastectomy Hospital Bill in Congress

The below was sent to me a few minutes ago and I wanted to pass it on.

If you know anyone who has had a mastectomy, you may know that there is a lot of discomfort and pain afterwards. Insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an outpatient procedure. Let's give women the chance to recover properly in the hospital for 2 days after surgery. It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very important...please take the time and do it really quick!

Breast Cancer Hospitalization Bill - Important legislation for all women. Please send this to everyone in your address book. If there was ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of those times. If you're receiving this, it's because I think you will take the 30 seconds to go to vote on this issue and send it on to others you know who will do the same. There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating the "drive-through mastectomy" where women are forced to go home just a few hours after surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page with a petition drive to show your support. Last year over half the House signed on. PLEASE!! Sign the petition by clicking on the web site below. You need not give more than your name and zip code number. This takes about 2 seconds.

PLEASE PASS THIS ON to your friends and family, and on behalf of all women.

A Case of Nerves

I guess it never gets any better. Every time I send something out to a publisher, I get nervous. I double check and triple check, then I'm still sure I missed something or forgot something or did something wrong. I entered the Harlequin Great American Romance Contest. You only had to send in the first chapter and a short synopsis, but I still got my normal case of nerves. (Smile)

The judges are HQ editors and the rules say that the potential winners will be picked by Feb. 8th and then notified by mail. Maybe even if I don't win or place, the story I sent will be strong enough to earn a request for a complete. That would be good enough for me. (Smile)

To anyone else who entered, best of luck! Even if we get no where, it was a free contest, the postage wasn't bad, and we at least gave it a try.

Happy Holidays and a Great New Years!

I didn't get a chance to post a holiday wish before Christmas, but better late than never. (Smile) And since I'm here, and it's almost the last day of the year, here's wishing you all a wonderful 2007! May all your dreams come true and you find no need for tears for the whole of the year!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Enter My Latest Contest

Time's almost up. The drawing is on November 30th...that's only two days away.

The prize is a fifteen dollar gift certificate. Just in time for X-mas shopping. (Smile)

All you have to do to be entered in the random drawing is to sign up for my free newsletter. You can find info about the newsletter and contest here... You can also join by simply sending a blank e-mail message to

Once you subscribe to the newsletter, you are automatically entered in all other contests' drawings as long as you stay a member.

Best of luck to everyone!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to take a moment to wish y'all a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope you get to spend the day with those you love around you, with a warm roof over your head, and plenty of good food and fun.

I know all of you aren't in the US, but the same wish can go for you as well, just leave the happy Thanksgiving part out. (Smile)


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Agent Kristin Nelson Workshop

Agent Kristin Nelson is doing a free workshop hosted at my RWC group. So, if you are a romance writer and want to take part, hurry up. (Smile)

To join, send a blank message to

There will be other workshops and Q&As coming up over the next year, all free for RWC members. By the by, RWC is free too. (Smile)

If you are a romance reader, I haven't forgotten about you. That's why there's the RRC group for readers. There will be some really good romance authors doing short Q&As there over the next year too. RRC is also a free group, and the guest authors will often be giving away prizes. To join RRC send a blank message to Oh, and yes, authors are as welcome at RRC as they are over on RWC. (Smile)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

E-Mail Trouble again

Hi everyone,

This time the trouble isn't mine. It's Yahoo. If you use Yahoo for mail -- not Yahoo Group mail but Yahoo personal mail -- and you sent me a message and you are still waiting to hear from me, it's not me. I can't reach any Yahoo e-mail address. It seems Yahoo mail is blocking my ISP, BellSouth. I don't know why, but every time I try to send mail to any Yahoo address, BellSouth tries for three days, and then finally has to bounce it back to me. So, if you have sent me a message from a Yahoo address and are now wondering why I never sent you a reply, please send me another message and include a different e-mail address where I can reach you and I'll be happy to reply right away.

By the way, if you are using a Yahoo address and you are waiting for other messages that should have come but haven't, other servers might be blocked too, so you might want to contact anyone you were expecting to hear from who uses not only a BellSouth address, but others also, and just let them know you haven't heard from them and give them a second e-mail address that isn't a Yahoo one where they can reach you at.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My Desk is Under There

At least I think my desk is under there. The computer is sitting on something. But there are so many papers and odds and ends on my desk, maybe they are just what's holding the computer up.

I don't know how the top of my desk gets so messed up. I swear I just keep the things near to hand that I need the most often. Okay, maybe there are a few things that I don't need that often, but I do intend to get to them soon, so might as well keep them close.

Even notice there are a number of places in your home that seem to be the perfect catch all? I think every home has at least one, either the kitchen table, a coffee table, a counter top, and end table, ect... I guess my desk is just the catch all in my office.

Since I've had to shuffle and dig to find three things already today, maybe it's time to take a computer break and see if I can clear things out some.

Now let's see...where can I move things to? I hear the second catch all spot calling to me, and since I did just clear it off yesterday, no need to let all of that room go to waste. (Smile)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reading Glasses

I finally gave in and admitted I needed glasses. A few months back I went to the eye doctor, and a couple of days later, I had my glasses. He said I only needed them for reading. I will admit I spend lots of hours a day either writing or reading, so I guess my eyes deserve a break since I am mumblemumble years old.

I thought reading glasses wouldn't be bad at all. I wouldn't have to wear them all the time. Reading glasses were surely better than the kind you have to wear from the moment you wake up until you go to bed.


They are awful!

I'm one of those people who usually has five things in the fire at the same time, so I'm almost never just sitting here writing or doing e-mail. I keep the TV in the room going and glance up to watch what ever, especially if I'm doing e-mail or working on my website. I have my desk in kind of a center spot in the house, so from where I sit I can see into the kitchen, into the living room, and even into my daughter's bedroom a little. Family members pop through and ask me this or tell me that, dogs come up wanting in and out, I lean forward a little and glance into the kitchen to see if I really did cook the flame out from under supper, ect... The same thing happens if I'm reading a book or doing paperwork or paying bills.

Well, with reading glasses, it turns out doing other things at the same time isn't as easy as it used to be. As long as I'm looking right at what I'm writing or reading, all is great with the world and my eyes hurt so much less. But...if I have to look up to see who is coming in the door, or to talk to someone, or even to see what one of the dogs is doing, or what's happening on TV, it's a whole other story. While the words look fine, looking any further away that a foot, means every thing just blurs out of focus, so every single time I look away from my papers, computer, or book, I have to lower my glasses. In my situation, that can be every couple of minutes sometimes. That means instead of typing on or trying to read on, I have to completely stop, lower or remove my glasses to see who or what I want to see, then when done, put the glasses back in place. Talk about slowing me down. I think it will be better when I just move up to the kind you have to wear all day. At least I'll be able to put them on and leave 'em there until I'm done with my eyes for the day. (Smile)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Update on My Book

I heard from my agent yesterday. The pitch worked. (Smile) My non-fiction book is with the editors at Random House Reference. Now it's time for more waiting. Keep those body parts crossed a little longer. (Smile)

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I can hear that old song playing in my mind. The one where you spell out the word vacation. (Smile) That's because I'm on vacation this week. That means I'm doing only a little e-mail and leaving most things until next week. So....if you sent me a message and haven't gotten a reply, just hang on. I'm going to jump into my in box starting Monday morning and catch up with everyone. (Smile)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Race

That's hubby finishing the 5K run this morning. He came in 4th in his age division, 11th over all. Not bad. He finished in 25 minutes and 30 seconds. It was only his second race, so he was really happy with his time and his placement.

He missed getting 3rd by only about 40 seconds. He actually had a bus thing pull in front of him on the road and had to stop and go around it, and then just before he made it back to the fair grounds he had to go around some people, or he might have cut off some if not all of that extra 40 seconds. We were still proud of him. (Smile)

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's fair time.

This time of year, every year, there's a big country fair near where I live. We start going to it when we are babies, and when we grow up, we take our babies. I don't have any babies to take this year, but I'm going. (Smile)

My husband, our daughter, our son and our daughter-in-law will be going with us. The first thing we are going to do there tomorrow is support hubby. He has signed up to the 5K. This will only be his second race--don't have them often around here. He's trained so hard though, so we are really hoping the best for him.

After the race, and hubby has some time to catch his breath, we are going to jump right into the fun. I like to go through the section where they have old log cabins and other log buildings, make soap and cracklings and cornmeal and fresh sugarcane syrup.

Then we are going to go see all the farm animals, then go through and see which quilts and cakes and jams got the blue ribbons. There are a few other things to look at and do, including the rodeo and all of the rides, and all of the food booths. They have normal things like ice cream, funnel cakes and burgers, but they also have alligator gumbo and hot pigskins and lots of other fun stuff that taste great but is oh so bad for you. (Smile)

Don't worry, I'm going to be good. I've lost nine pounds so far, and my blood sugar is doing better, so I'm not going to ruin all of that hard work with a funnel cake, no matter how badly I'd love to have one.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thanks & No Mail For Me

First, I want to thank everyone for all the good luck wishes I got, and all of those crossed body parts. It was so nice to open my e-mail program yesterday and see all of those wonderful messages. That goes for those you posted here or sent through the contact form on my site as well.

Which brings me to today's problem. (Smile) My e-mail has been down since last night. I can actually get on line, and get to my on line e-mail program, but that's not the normal e-mail address I use. It's a big outage here, so my normal e-mail address might not work for a couple of days or so. That means if you sent me anything after yesterday evening, I haven't gotten it. That goes for my normal BellSouth address, the contact form on my website, and even all of the group owner addresses for RWC. I'm hoping I'll get all of those messages when things get back up and working. Hope! Hope! For now though, if you need or want to reach me, please use this address You can find it on my site,, on the contact page, but don't use the form. Look below that contact form and you will see a link you can use by clicking on it. That's for the other address, the

Thanks again for all of the congrats and the so sweet wishes! It's amazing to me how many of you seem to be cheering for me and wishing me only good things.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good News!

I have good news to share! (Smile)

Not only have I signed with an agent but she will be pitching my non-fction book for romance writers to some editors in New York next week.

Please cross those fingers and toes and send prayers and white light and what ever you got, that one of those editors just falls in love with my book. (Smile)

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Big Change

Other than the website, I've made another huge change in my life in the last couple of weeks. For the last nearly six years I've spent most of every day running the RWC groups for other romance writers. That means approving messages and members, moderating each messages, sending out reminders, sending out talk prompts, writing prompts, writing challenges, and so on, seven days a week from usually before five in the morning until at least nine at night.

At first it wasn't that big of a deal, but the little group I started and hoped to see maybe have fifty or even a hundred members one day, now has almost 1,600, and that's on the main RWC group alone. There are ten RWC groups in all, and since people can belong to any they wish and not any they don’t wish, there's no way of knowing how many RWC members there are in total.

With ten groups and so many members, it has become a draining job over the last three years or so. I finally had no choice but to either close down the groups, are yell for help, and lots of it. There are now about sixteen of us doing what I had been handling all along. I've removed myself from a lot of duties, or at least will as soon as everyone has their sea legs---moderator legs that is. (Smile.)

I've really enjoyed helping so many people with their writing, but I've been short-changing my own writing for too long now. I realized I'm not getting any younger and I've been pushing my own dreams to the back burner and then to the back of that burner even. I either have little time to write, or will to write by the time I take care of every thing and maybe get my head bit off a few times for sending someone a reminder when they broke a rule. In the end, most days I just never make it to my own writing.

I've been through this before because of a sick parent or major health issues of my own, and even because of a hurricane, but those things we have no control over. This is something I do have control over, so it's just silly for me to let more time slip away when others are willing to help me with the groups so it's not too much on any one person. The groups can only become better from the extra time and energy these members bring with them, and time to take care of myself and work toward my own dream can only make me a better person. I think this is a win/win situation for everyone involved.

After I get all of the moderators and helpers doing their thing, I'm going to take a couple of weeks off to get myself together, and then we'll see if I'm willing to put as much effort into my writing as I've poured into RWC. It's easy to talk the talk, but hard to apply butt to chair, fingers to keyboard, and actually keep writing even when you don't feel good, you've gotten a rejection, or the story is just giving you a hard time.

By the way, did you notice my new site is now centered around my author page instead of my writing info pages for other writers? Don't worry, all the same info is still there, it's just that now the home page is my author site and to get to the writing info there is a link on that site to click on. It's my way of saying to the world that my writing is going to come first for a change.

Stayed tuned. (Smile.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Hate Needles

Okay, I know this sounds like a big baby complaint...but diabetic or and needles don't mix. At all. (Smile) I don't have a normal fear of them. I have a full blown phobia. I was in labor for a couple of days and wouldn't take a pain shot. Had surgery and wouldn't take a pain shot afterwards, so I had nothing for pain for hours because the doctor didn't have pain pills in my paper work. I thought I was honestly having a heart attack one day, and didn't go to the ER for hours because I was more afraid of a needle than of the heart attack. See, not just normal dislike of shots. (Smile)

I have to test my blood sugar levels at home, but I was so upset when I first started, for months. It doesn't even hurt really, since I can do it in my arm instead of my finger tips, but it's still a needle. My saving grace with that I think is that it's that little pin like thing. You just put it against your skin, push the button, and the sticks done. So you don't actually see the needle or have to see the stick...and like I said, it doesn't even really hurt. Most times I don't even know I've done it. I'm trying really hard to eat right and work out so I don't need daily shots. That would not be a good thing for me. (Smile)

All of the above explains why I'm doing every thing I can for my Trigger Finger to avoid a shot.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A New Look

Notice something different? (Smile) I've updated my website, and the blog's background now matches it. I think it looks pretty good. It did mess up the text of old posts some how. Guess I'll have to try and go in and edit each one over time.

I'm not finished with my website yet. Still have some pages left to do, and some of the links aren't working yet. But when you get a chance check it out and let me know what you think of the new look. I like it so much better. I kind of already miss the opening Charlotte's Web page, but so many people told me I should use my author page as my home page, and then let people go to the writing side or reading side from there. I finally had to agree with them. (Smile)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Health Warning for Writers...

...Or for anyone who spends a lot of time on the computer.

I've spent years on the computer, and years before that with pen and paper or on my old Brother Word Processor. In between I drew and painted.

Needless to say, my wrists and hands have paid the price. I've had CT, corporal tunnel, for years and now I have a new little problem that's turning out to be a bigger one than the CT. It's known by most of us non-doctor types as something simply called Trigger Finger. It is in my ring finger on my right hand.

At first it started as just a little catch, a little ache at times. Then it got where I could reach and grab something small and the middle knuckle on that ring finger would lock up, kind of feel like it slipped out of joint when the hand closed into a tight fist. I could stretch the hand back open and I would feel the finger snap free, --where the name Trigger Finger comes from-- like the knuckle popped back into place or something, and the finger would open and be fine. It did hurt when it did it, but not bad. I was sure I must have just jammed my finger or hurt it in some other way. I was spending a whole lot of time on the computer then, even more time than normal. I have my RWC groups to deal with daily, my website, other e-mail, I was finishing up that non-fiction manuscript to send in and went right from it to trying to rewrite one of my romance novels. I was spending more times scrolling with the mouse sometimes than typing.

Then it got worse. The finger would lock up even when I wasn't making a tight fist. Instead of happening a couple of times a day, it began to happen four or five, then seven or eight. Then I started waking up at night with my finger hurting and realized it was locked and I'd have to make it open. It was starting to get where I couldn’t stretch the hand open and free up the finger sometimes. I was having to actually straighten the finger out with my other hand. Most of my hand was beginning to hurt more often now, kind of even felt sore. I wondered if maybe this was some new part of my CT from all the extra long hours on the computer. I finally asked on line. I got a few very quick replies from people with the same problem. Within minutes I had the name Trigger Finger. I did a little research on line...which hurt like H E double L since my right hand is my mouse hand and using the mouse had gotten almost too painful to even do by that point.

I learned from my searching that Trigger Finger had to be caught quickly and treated early, before the finger started staying locked. If not, it can lock in a closed position and stay that way. Surgery is often needed, especially if it isn't caught soon. I also found out that diabetics, which I am one of, are at a greater risk of getting both Trigger Finger and Corporal Tunnel, and both are harder to treat in a diabetic. A cortisone shot in the hand can help, but often doesn't.

If you catch it soon, take it easy on the hand, use ice, stretch the fingers, get help early, you might never really have a problem at all. Of course I let mine go way too long because I had never even heard of something called Trigger Finger. I'm hoping the right people will see this post and if it starts happening to them, they will know what it is right away and be able to take care of things before they get in the shape I'm in.

I'm still trying to use ice often, I have a splint for the finger, I've switched to one of the keyboards that's supposed to be better for people with CT, and I'm now using a touch pad instead of a mouse, but so far nothing is helping much. I'm really limiting my computer time and other things that hurt a lot, like pealing and cutting up stuff, or even stirring thing--limiting as much as I can anyway. I'm hoping something will help, but I guess only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Picture of New Pup

I told y'all the other day about our newest dog. We've named him Kane and this is a picture of him. Getting one wasn't easy. He is never still. (Smile) By the time I would get ready to snap the picture, and actually have him looking my way, or being still, he was off and gone again. My husband finally got him part-way into his lap and I snapped this one quick. I think it was the best of the ones I got.

I'm not sure how old he is, but he's still a puppy and as you can tell by the size of that front paw, he's going to be a BIG dog one day. Right now he jumps on everyone and bites and chews everything, but he is a baby. (Smile)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Waiting and Waiting...

It has been almost eight weeks since I mailed off my completed non-fiction manuscript, along with what I hope was a detailed and well-done proposal. The agent's site says to allow six to eight weeks, along with mailing time, to get a response.

I hope that means I will be hearing something one way or another soon. I've never been really good at waiting. (Smile)

Good news or bad news, I'll be posting the news here the day I get it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A New Dog

When I lost my dog Red a few months ago, I swore I wasn't going to get another dog. After all, we have seven--SEVEN--so we didn't need eight. I've seen strays, had people try to give me dogs, and even saw one stray that looked like Red that really pulled my heart strings. Through it all, I stood strong. No more dogs!

Until a couple of days ago. (Smile)

My husband and I had gone to Wal-Mart to get some things, including dog chews and dog food. We had two bags of dog food so one was in the buggy and the other was under it. A stray dog, a puppy really, came up to us just outside the store and began to follow us. I fastened my eyes straight ahead and refused to even look at the puppy.

Before we reached the truck he had got ahead of the buggy and was smelling the bag of dog food under it. A few more steps and he was biting at the corner of the bag, trying to tear it open to get at the food. We kept going.

When we reached the truck he stopped too, then went to work whole-heartenedly on the paper bag of kibble. I had those chews in the buggy, so I tore the bag open and tossed the poor pup one. He grabbed it up happily while my husband--who could no doubt see the danger of where this could go--rushed to get our stuff into the truck.

The puppy only gave the chew a few seconds before he decided correctly that it was a hide chew and not real food. With determination he turned his attention back to the bag of dog food under the buggy.

With my heart breaking, I told my husband to open the bad and pour the puppy some food out. Of course then I was afraid someone might hit him with a car if he were standing there in the parking lot eating and maybe not moving because he didn’t want to leave the food, so we decided against pouring out some food for the pup.

My husband tried to put that last bag of food into the truck and the puppy tried to follow it into the truck. I just couldn't stand it.

To make a long story short. We left with our stuff and one puppy in the truck. He's keeping Clover, Red's friend, company in the big back and side yard. He's eating a lot, loves to play, and I think is going to be a huge dog in a very short time. Clover is so happy to have a playmate again, since the other dogs are all inside dogs and he only spends time with them when they go out or I let him in for a little while. The new pup's name is Kane. He looks like he has a number of breeds in him, including maybe some pit bull and boxer. I'm not so happy about having a puppy again. They chew on everything. (Smile) And yet he already feels like part of the family.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Limbs are Down

I know it looks like a whole tree, but that's the limb that was holding on by a splinter to the big oak you see a glimpse of standing beside it. In this picture the smaller limb is still up. You can see it leaning against the backside of the oak. Hubby decided if we waited for the city to come take care of it, the thing would either end up on one of our pets, one of us, the truck, the house, or something else that wouldn't be good, depending on which way it headed when it came down.

I'll admit I wasn't happy about him trying to get it down. A man he worked with was killed after Katrina, trying to get down a leaning tree. That limb my husband got down this evening was about as big as a tree. I sat inside, my stomach in knots, through the hour or more it took him and our son to get that biggest one on the ground. Even inside the house with the doors shut and the AC on, I heard the thud when it finally gave way and landed in the drive with a crash. The sad thing is, there are other huge badly damaged limbs up in that tree. I know it's only a matter of time before they too snap and come down.

My husband and son are still out there in the dark, as I write this, trying to cut the limbs up and get them out of the way so they can put the fence back up. Both have to leave for work before daylight in the morning.

But what are you going to do with men?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Excuse the Fit, but I'm Throwing One!

This was taken in my back yard. Not in August of 2005 after Katrina, but today, August 6, 2006.

Under that huge broken oak limb that’s hanging by a splitter from the trunk of that even bigger oak tree, is my husband's gas grill, charcoal grill, a patio chair, and a number of my plants and flower pots. The biggest part of the limb is still stuck against the trunk, but when it comes down, and it will, it's crashing through my chain link fence. (It would probably get the truck too, buy my husband parked it across the street and is leaving it there until the limb is gone.)

If I hadn't been so angry, I think I would have just sat right down in the middle of the new mess and cried. I tried to get that tree with its spilt limbs taken down. Or even just the limbs taken out. It’s a big, big oak tree, and I never wanted to see it go, but Katrina just got the best of it. The limbs, like the two that came down today, have spilt-off hunks missing from them.

After I signed papers, FEMA came out and looked, took down two small pieces of limbs, had their tree expert agree the tree needed to come down, and then they refused to do it. Said it was really on city property and a city (Bogalusa, Louisiana) problem. I told the FEMA tree expert that those splintered limbs couldn't hold their weight up there, and they were going to come down on my property no matter who the tree belonged to. He said they would come down, some year. (He said that only weeks ago.) They were supposed to be taking down any trees or limbs that were leaning or a danger to homes.

Well, that the tree is on city property, I know that, and it is all fine and good I guess, but the corner of my house, my truck, my yard, my fence, and other things like my plants, don’t belong to the city of Bogalusa, and those things, my family’s things, are what’s going to get crushed when those big limbs come down. Like today. (It would cost hundreds for me to pay someone to come take it down for me. It's a city tree and they should pay to have it removed if FEMA says it's their problem.)

The city of course isn't going to touch the tree--I'll bet you. The tree on the other side of my driveway is a hollow oak and has a big dead limb that sticks out over the driveway, over my car. (My new car that I had to buy because I couldn’t leave my other car parked in my own driveway because I thought during Katrina that hollow tree would come down on it. I had to move it to protect it. Well, the tree actually stood, but the lower land spot beside my house where I moved the car to, flooded so badly that my car was totaled.)

That tree has been sick and hollow for many years. The city of Bogalusa marked it after I complained, and said they would take it down. That was some where around fifteen years ago. My mother's been gone for eleven, and it was years before she died. They've marked it a couple of other times over the years, after I've fussed again, and all that's happened is the paint mark has worn off with time. That tree and the one that lost the limb today, were both marked to be cut after Katrina. But that didn't happen then either. Seems FEMA was ticked at the city for having to take down trees on city property that the city should have handled, and I guess the city was ticked at FEMA for leaving a lot of those trees for the city to take care of later.

And guess who is paying the price for their battle?

Sorry for the little fit, but sometimes you just gotta scream or you'll just blow up.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sometimes all it Takes is...

...a Big Fat Zero.

No, really. I started doing this for my workouts. I hate to workout, but know I need to. So, in an effort to get myself to do it more often, I took a notebook and drew out three columns on the page. In the first I put the date, in the next I put my weight, and in the last I put how many minutes I work out for the day. I soon found that having to draw a big 'ol round zero in that column was something I didn't like to do. I also don't like looking back at the page and seeing too many zeros in a row or even scattered about. I'm still not working out as much as I should, but I'm working out more often, just to keep from having to add another zero. (Smile)

So, why can't the same idea work for your writing? No reason that I can think of. If you have been having a hard time writing and just skipping too many days, grab a notebook—doesn't have to be fancy, just what ever's around—and draw lines down the page to make three columns. Put the date in the first, what kind of writing in the second, and the amount in the last.

Date, I don't need to explain. What kind of writing, well, you can just put the word Type, and then when you fill in that column use words like rewriting, editing, new writing, ect... Make that middle column the biggest so you have a little room if you like. You can even add things like promo, research, or such, depending on what you did that day. The last column is for the amount. You can put hours if it was research or promo or even a workshop you did on writing for income or promo, and for the actual writing you can put a word count, the hours, or the pages. Since it's your record, you can set it up to cover what and how you want.

The hope is though, if you start noticing days in a row where there is only a line of zeros, you'll try to make them appear less often, which means your writing will increase. (Smile)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wish Me Luck

And cross your fingers too. (Smile) I've been working on a non-fiction book for writers to help them, what else, but write. An agent who handles such non-fiction books looked over some of it and asked for the complete. I mailed it out today after spending the last few days getting it polished and ready to go. Now all I can do is wait.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Found Missing Gril

The missing gril I wrote about in my last post has been found. :-) She isn't home yet, but an aunt and uncle who weren't too far from where she was found, picked her up and in a couple of days she will be back home.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Help Find Missing Girl!

One of the ladies on my e-mail group has a daughter who has been missing for over 12 hours as I write this. This lady has her daughter's picture up and information about her on a website. I have added the link to it below. Please take a moment to look and to pass the link on.

I know this lady. She has been a member of the RWC group a very long time, so this is no joke.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rewrite Without Fear

I've put the manuscript aside that I've been working on, or trying to work on. The short story starter helped me accomplish a lot, but I think I'm still caught up in that sagging, dragging middle blues. In other words, I just felt like I needed a break from it, and maybe another long story would move along better for me right now. Instead of allowing myself to start something new, I decided the best use of my time would be to work on a finished story I have that I really like, but that could use some touch ups--some kind of big ones.

Each time I opened the file and started to make those deep changes I had in mind, I froze up. I finally realized I was fixating on all of the hard work I had already put in on that manuscript, and how it would be lost if I deleted big sections of it, reworked the story, and found it had worked better the way it was to start with.

I don't know why I hadn’t thought of this before, but suddenly I thought of a way to set myself free from that fear. It was so easy that it was just a duh moment. (Smile)

I simply copied and pasted the whole manuscript into a new Word file, renamed it so I knew which copy was which, and pulled out the word hatchet. I could delete, add, move around, or what ever else I wanted to do with the story with complete freedom without any worry of what was lost or messed up.

With that freedom I've made some big changes to the plot, to one of the main characters, and even added a few other characters. I’ve only reworked the first few chapters so far, but I don't think I'm going to need to go back to the old copy. I have a feeling the story is coming out much stronger in its new reincarnation.

So the next time you aren't happy with a story and you think it needs some deep cutting and some major reworking, free yourself to play around with it without fear. Make another copy and just let yourself go. You might come up with almost a totally new story, and one that is so much more interesting than the original. You don’t have anything to lose if you give it a try.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Win Four Free Books

Hi everyone,

One of the e-mail groups I own and run is RRC. All the other groups are for writers, but this one is for romance readers....though writers are also welcome.

RRC is holding its first RRC Summer Read contest. I've lined up four wonderful authors who are willing to put up prizes--each author is offering one of her books. In fact, I had more than four authors offer books, so I did a kind of random pick to line up the first four for this first contest. There will be another contest later, maybe even more than one. :-)

The first four books are....

Dance of Desire
by Catherine Kean

The Prey
by Allison Brennan

Rawhide Surrender
by Elysa Hendricks

Virtually Yours
by Crystal Inman

It's really easy to enter the RRC Summer Read contest. All you have to do is belong to RRC. To join, send a blank message to or visit the group page here

The winner of the above listed books will be drawn randomly on July first. I will announce the winner on the RRC group. She will then contact me off list and give me her snail mail address. I will pass that address on to each author listed above, and each will send the prize they offered to the winner.

Best of luck!
Charlotte Dillon ~

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Avon Editors Have A Blog

If you are a fellow romance writer and hope to send a manuscript to Avon, there's good news if you'd like to know a little more about the editors there. Right now the Avon editors are working together, posting info to the Avon blog--taking turns as it was. May Chen has a post up about herself today.

You can check it out here....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Two Graduated at the Same Time

I just have to share like any proud mom. (Smile) I had not one, but two children graduate this month. My son graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. He just landed a job working at the zoo in New Orleans. He'll be working with primates, which was his hope. My daughter graduated from our local high school, fourteenth in her class no less. She will be attending the same college my son did his four years at.

One part of my life is over now. (My daughter was the baby.)

That's okay. The next part might be even more fun. My son will be married a year next week, so maybe in a couple of years it'll be time for grandbabies. (Smile)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Recipe for Mailing a Complete Manuscript

Almost all big publishers and agents ask that completes not be sent in a box or bound. That means for a newer writer figuring out a good way to send a complete, printed manuscript that’s often three hundred plus pages, is enough to bring on nightmares and a case of the cold sweats.

It’s not that hard to do though, and still end up with a nice, crisp manuscript when it reaches New York—or where ever it’s heading.

Needed Ingredients:
Printed complete manuscript (include query, synopsis, ect…)
Two large Tyvek priority envelopes
Two large rubber bands
One page-size piece of cardboard
One medium point permanent marker and/or labels of your choice
One post office

Even a thick manuscript fits nicely in one of those large priority envelopes that you can get free from the post office. A great support for that thick stack of printed pages is a simple piece of cardboard. When you order more than one book or move at a time from Amazon, they come with the perfect size piece of loose cardboard enclosed in the box. I save mine every time I get anything with that cardboard page-size piece precut in it. If you don’t have any, you can cut a page-size piece of cardboard off of any kind-of-thick brown cardboard box you happened to have around.

Before you put your finished baby inside that big priority envelope, stack the pages nice and neat on your piece of cardboard. Next, place one big rubber band length ways around your stack, and one more width ways around it—make sure they fit well, but not tight. (Don’t forget to add your cover page, query, synopsis, and anything else you were asked to include, on top of the manuscript pages before you put the rubber bands around them.) Slip an SASP (Self addressed stamped postcard) under one of the rubber bands on the top page, so it stays in place and won’t be over looked. This can be used to let your know the agent or publisher has received your manuscript.

* (I like to skip adding that SASP and just pay an extra fifty cents to the postal clerk to have a Delivery Conformation slip attached to the outside of the package instead. No one has to sign for it, so it's not a problem for the agent or editor. It's not really any extra money if you think about what you'd pay for a postcard and the stamp for it. You can use the tracking number from the Delivery Conformation slip to see that the package made it.)

Address one priority envelope to the agent or publisher, and the other one to yourself—after you pay for and attach the postage, this will become your SASE. Put your prepared manuscript into the correct envelope, but don’t seal it. (If this work is requested, make sure you write the word requested on the outside of the envelope and enclose a copy of the request letter on top of the manuscript. If the request came over the phone, through e-mail, or after a meeting, make sure you mention how, when, and where in the query.) Fold your large SASE and place it inside the first one.

Now head to the post office. Once there, ask them what it will cost to mail your envelope. After they weight it, take your SASE out and tell them you need the same postage on both envelopes so the pages inside can be returned to you if needed. Place the SASE in with your complete manuscript, seal up the envelope addressed to the agent or publisher, don't forget Delivery Conformation slip if you are using it instead of a SASP, pay the postal worker and hand that baby over.

*(Some publishers are willing to destroy the MS if you don't want it returned. If you are okay with that, and the publisher or agent is too, just add a note giving them the okay and a business size SASE for them to send you a letter about the MS. I have gotten a rejected complete back with edits from the editor written on it to help me, but that isn't the norm. The choice is up to you if you want the pages back or just the letter.)*

The hard part comes at this point. You have to trust that manuscript with these strangers and turn around and leave it. Worse of all, you have to go home, go on with your life, and wait and wait and WAIT.

By the way, the best thing you can do while you wait—which could be for months and months—is to get to work on that next story.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother’s Day Reminder

Nope, I’m not reminding you that tomorrow is Mother’s Day -- though it is if anyone reading this hasn’t got their mom a gift yet, or given them a hug and an I love you —maybe cleaned the house or cooked a meal. Yes, those do really mean just as much to a mom as a gift. (Smile)

I got a special gift today, a great big one. I went to my son’s college and watched him take that long walk to the stage to get his BA in Biology, after four years of hard work. I was so proud to be sitting there watching him, but I didn’t really think about how lucky, how blessed I was to watch him take that walk. There was one name called, and instead of the young lady walking up on the stage, her mother went in her place. The daughter had recently died so her mother accepted her diploma. When they placed it in the mother’s hand, she paused and held it up toward the sky, as if saying, see baby, you got it. She cried all the way back to her seat, and left a short time later.

My heart broke for her. I can only guess at how hard it was for her to sit there for the long while waiting for her daughter’s turn, watching all of those young people take that walk that her daughter never had the chance to take.

I was, am, so proud of my son, but more than that, I was blessed that he was there, and that I was there, and that we got to share that moment together. It felt so wonderful when he received his diploma and in those fleeting seconds as he walked from the stage, his gaze tuned to the section where he knew I was sitting, and searched me out. The way he smiled, the way he waved that green diploma holder at me, time just stood still for a moment, and I saw him as a baby, saw him taking his first steps, saw him dressed for his first day of school, heading out for his first date, driving away for his first day of college, and finally, today, watching the result of all of those years. I was there with him and got to watch those steps, and he’s still here to take more.

In a few days I’ll be sharing another milestone, this one with my daughter as she does the walk at our local high school to get a diploma of her own. (Smile) I’ll be double blessed during one short week.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Keeping Up With Characters

I have a number of important characters in a couple of stories that are going to cross back and forth -- some not so important ones who will too. It can get really hard to keep up with all of the names, not to mention the hair colors, eye colors, cars they drive, jobs, and all of the rest. I’ve used a storyboard for a long time, but it was across the room and hard to put every thing on.

So…I decided to try something new, and it’s working out great.

I save pictures from sale papers and magazines, or even sometimes print some up from a website. I use those pictures to find my characters. When a picture yells out a character’s name to me, I glue it to a sheet of paper, write the character’s name on the top of the page, and then other needed details at the bottom or down the side, like eye color, height, weight, hair color, character traits, ect… on another sheet I can do a whole character chart if I like, on another I can write a little of the history or such of this character. On another sheet I can glue a picture of his home, his car, his pet, something that is special to him, ect…

I slip each page into a thin plastic sheet protector, then put them in a notebook. I can flip through at will, move order as I like, add anything new, and never have to worry about keeping up with all of those characters’ information again. If in chapter one of my story Uncle Charles has a bald spot, clear blue eyes, drops g’s on the end of words, walks with a limp, and has a brown and white dog named Puddles, I know Uncle Charles will still be the same in chapter twenty or book number two, and so will Puddles.

Sure saves me a lot of back tracking and trying to remember. (Smile)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

One Way NOT to Do Promotion

I’ve seen lots of good tips on doing promotion for your book. Or for anything else you want to do promo for, like a newsletter, a site, ect…

But let me give you one tip on how NOT to do promotion.

Don’t spam!

No, seriously, don’t do it!

It really doesn’t work. It just makes people angry…or either they don’t notice at all and just hit delete. Never subscribe someone to your mailing list or newsletter unless they ask to be subscribed. Better yet, set things up where they can subscribe themselves.

Always make sure there’s a link in what ever you send to those subscribers where they can easily unsubscribe if they wish. Include a link for them to resubscribe if they wish too. People do change e-mail addresses sometimes and want to rejoin, or sometimes they just want to share the link with a friend so they can join.

If you pay others to do promotion for you, it’s your job to check and make sure they are doing so on the up and up. You don’t want to get a backlash of anger because they are running your information and sending it to people who don’t want it, didn’t ask for it, and just want it to stop.

This is a sore spot for me right now because a few days ago I suddenly started getting this announcement list that is filled with info about which author is going where, which book is out, how great this e-publisher is doing, and well…you get the idea. (It really all seems to be about this one e-publisher and their authors.)

There’s one big problem though, I’ve never heard of this listing. I didn’t sign up for it, I don’t want it, and they’ve made it hard for me to leave it. I get too much spam as it is, I don’t need or want more.

I went to their site and tried to unsubscribe, but quickly found out that I had to have a password to do so. That’s a little hard to have since I never signed up for anything. The site said if I didn’t have one, I had to fill out information and get one to unsubscribe. I really don’t think so! Why would I want these people to have more info about me?

I tried blocking the address, but it’s coming from more than one sender’s address. It hasn’t been fun trying to get away from it. I did at last though. I finally got a message a few minutes ago saying I had been unsubscribed. I hope that’s the end of it. Since the messages were coming from more than one sender though, I’m not so sure. Time will tell.

If the authors who were having their books or book signings placed in this listing -- even if it’s their own publisher -- did so without knowing that this place subscribed people without their permission and then made it hard for them to leave, then those authors might get a hostile response they didn’t even see coming. That’s why I said that the person who’s paying for the promotion has to check into things and find out how that promotion is being done. You don’t want people thinking you are spamming them when you had no idea about it. Heck, you don’t want people thinking you are spamming them at any time. (Smile)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

What Kind of Reader are You?

Do you savor or do you devour?

I’m sure about every one of you has been on a diet at least once. Do you remember how good it felt when you ate something sinfully bad-for-you the first time after a long spell of lean meats and salads? Did you take your time and savor every single bite, placing the smallest amount in your mouth and letting the flavors swirl around for as long as possible before you swallowed? Or did you just dig in and devour bite after bite until suddenly it was all gone and you were wondering how it disappeared so quickly?

I’ve found that devoted readers can be the same way. One of the above; they savor or they devour.

When I’ve been waiting for a new release from a favorite author, and I finally get my hands on the book, maybe after waiting a year, I savor. (Smile) I don’t sit down and read the whole thing. After all, I probably have months to wait for that next treat. I read slowly, a few pages or a couple of scenes at a time, trying to make it last, conscious that the end is coming and I want it to last. The better the story, the more I savor.

If I finish a book really quickly, like the first day or two or three, that’s usually not a good sign--unless it as a very short book. (Smile)

If I like a book a lot, but don’t love it, I don’t mind just reading it and letting the story flow, but even that takes me a while since I prefer to read a good book when I have time to relax and enjoy it. But….if I don’t like a book, I skim and try to finish it as soon as I can. (After I spend money for a book, it’s hard for me to just toss it. It feels like a waste. Some have been just so awful that’s happened, and it makes me really mad. Thankfully books that bad are very few and very far between. Not only is that a waste of my money when they are that bad, but think of all of the poor trees that died for nothing.) (Smile)

I would much rather have a book to savor. Then again, if the greatest books came around often, I guess I’d forget to savor them. It’s probably best the way it is. Good books most of the time, great books once in a while, and only a really bad one here or there to make me appreciate the good ones, and the great ones, even more.

Friday, March 31, 2006

New E-mail Address

I’ve had the same i-55 e-mail address for almost ten years. That’s a long time. That’s almost as long as I’ve had internet service. (Smile) Now, i-55 has become part of a bigger company that I know nothing about, so I’ve decided it’s time to move on at last.

I know many people use my i-55 address and have it saved in their address books, but it ain’t gonna work any more. (Smile) Well, I guess it probably will, but I won’t get anything sent to it. Instead, please use the link here on my blog.

Where? There. Over that way >.

It’s under the title Links, the last listing, Contact Me. If you click on that it will take you to a page on my site where you can send me a message through a form, or through one of the addresses listed there.

If you are a member of one of my RWC groups, you can also reach me with the group owner address. That address can be found on each group’s Yahoo home page.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to spring forward….you know, move your clock up an hour Saturday night before you go to bed. Yes, it’s already that time of year again.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Those Short Stories

After my last post about trying short stories, I’m happy to report shorter is better, at least when you are trying to find your way back to writing. Yesterday I was working on a short story and I actually completed fifteen full, brand new pages of writing, all in one day!

I can’t even remember the last time I ever managed that many fresh pages in one day. Even better, I enjoyed every minute of it. (Smile) The short stories I write are for me only. I’m using them as a way to get to know the characters a little better in my novel. Since these stories are for my eyes alone, I don’t have to worry about rules, about length, about style, about anything at all. The only person I have to please with these stories is myself.

That’s a wonderfully freeing thing at this point in my life.

All I have to do when I write a short story is go with the flow, have fun, add what ever plot twist or non-twist I want. It’s all about me and what my muse is telling me. I think I had forgotten how much fun creating a story could be. For years now I’ve worried so much about the writing, that the fun part, the creating, the story telling, took a back seat to the self-doubt and the picky little editor sitting on my shoulder.

I think maybe that’s why when any extra stress came into my life, I couldn’t write. The second guessing every word I wrote was enough stress, so any thing else just toppled it all. Writing became only something that I hoped I would get paid for. It was work. There wasn’t anything fun about it. And since I'm not gettnig paid rigth now... well... how many of us would go to work at something we didn't like every day with only the hope that just maybe, one day, some day, we might get paid something for it, just maybe?

I had fun yesterday. (Smile) I was stressed about other things; I’m sick as a dog right now with the worst cold, I’ve been writing letters trying to raise money for a program at my daughter’s school, I have two children graduating in a little over a month and there are a hundred little things I still need to do, sick or not, and yet yesterday I just pushed it all aside, didn’t even worry about cleaning house or cooking, and just let my writing take me away from all of it. I remember when that was always what my writing did. It was a release, a safe place, somewhere to run to where there were no worries.

I think if I really keep trying, my short stories will help me get back to the novel I need to be working on. I’m going to find my way back on my own terms though. Some how I’m going to figure out a way to bring the joy of writing with me. I think that’s going to take awhile, since someone else will be looking at the novel, but I’m going to get there. I don’t ever want to force another story again, long or short.

I think I feel like writing a whole novel is too much work to be fun now, so I can't just push everything aside and write it how ever I want, like with the short stuff, but who knows how I'll feel in a few weeks, or maybe even sooner. (Smile)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Could Short Stories Be the Way Back to Novel Writing?

My last post was about my fiction writing, well, about my not writing. About how when anything really bad happened it threw me off and I had such a time finding my way back. It felt like I was alone, the only person who was that way. I felt like maybe that meant I wasn’t willing to try hard enough, or I didn’t have enough love for writing to stick it out through the hard times.

Today I was reading some articles in my latest copy of Writer’s Digest Magazine and found an interview in there done with author Alice Hoffman. (I loved her book Practical Magic. The movie was great too.)

Anyway, in this interview she mentions going through some bad times in her life, when it seemed a lot of things were going wrong, and how during that time she found she didn’t have the energy to work on a novel. Instead of trying to tackle a novel, she took what energy and time she did have and worked on short stories. When she wrote, she didn’t allow herself to go back and second-guess the words, she just put down what came and kept going.

When I read this it was like someone opened a door for me. Right now I feel like there’s no way I can even work on my novel. It seems like trying to climb a mountain when someone has tied my legs together and hooked on a hundred pound boulder just for good measure. The thought of writing a short story at this point, still feels a little like standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up, squinting into the sun, knowing I have a long way to climb. But…at least it doesn’t feel like my legs are tied or that I’m dragging a boulder with me. It just seems much more doable at this point and place in my life.

Alice Hoffman used short stories to find her way back, to build a bridge to her longer novels. I don’t see why I can’t do the same thing.

An idea popped into my head right away. That’s a good sign. (Smile) I think I’m going to write short stories with main characters that are minor characters in my novels. That way I’ll get twice the bang for the same work. Writing these short stories will help flex my writing muscles, help me find my way back into the comfort those novels once offered. At the same time, using minor, but important, characters from my novels, especially the main one I was working on before the hurricane, will help me stay in contact with that novel, help me flesh out some of the characters even more, and maybe add some extra pull toward that bigger story for me.

Maybe it would work for any of you who find yourself in the same writing blocked mode. It’s at least worth a try.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I Wish I Could Write Through Anything!

Long ago I found I couldn’t. Well, mostly I couldn’t. I did fine with my daily writing schedule for a number of years, but I couldn’t write a word after I found out my mother had cancer. After she died, it took me over a year to even glance at one of my manuscripts again.

A year or so later, I landed my first full-time freelance writing job. It was non-fiction, short biographies of singers and musicians. I did the research, the interviews, and then wrote up the bios, including adding HTML tags in the text as required. My weekly payday depended on my output and my meeting each week’s deadline. The more I produced, the more I got paid. It wasn’t really creative writing like my fiction, and I knew there was an editor waiting for it each week and waving a paycheck. As long as I did the correct research and wrote good bios, I got paid for them. (There’s no such guarantee with fiction, not even after a good bit of success.)

I went from that first job to writing greeting cards, then on to another bigger company doing bios again, and then reviews. During the years I did all of that non-fiction writing, I never seemed to have any energy or time or writing left in me to work on my fiction. It made me sad, but as a wife and mother with more bills than money, I did what I had to do. Through it all, no matter what was going on in my life, I never missed a deadline. I remember losing two dear friends during that time, and one Christmas week deadline pulling all the holiday stuff together for my family, completing all my bios, and doing it all with the flu and a double eye infection. There was no joy to my writing. It was a job. So I did it when I was supposed to do it. Even if that meant being up until two AM before a morning deadline.

A few years later, I was upset when the company I was working for cut back and tightened its belt to the point of getting rid of about 80% of their writers, including me. I tried to find another writing job at first, but when I didn’t find one soon, I was actually relieved. After years of non-fiction I finally decided to put it aside and turn to my fiction full-time. It was something I had been dreaming of.

I did fine at first, finished a couple of long manuscripts in pretty good time, then my father got worse and I spent more and more of my time caring for him, along with of course having to care for my children and be a housewife. I found it hard to be a full-time caregiver for my father, a full-time mother for my children, a full-time wife for my husband, along with handling all of the housework, shopping, bills, ect… Still, I found time almost daily to work on one of my stories—though not as many hours as I would have liked. Sometimes it was only minutes.

In June of 2004 my father became even more seriously ill. When he was put in the hospital, I spent hours with him daily. When he died. I fell back into not being able to write at all. I managed to pull myself out of the grief in less than a year this time. I turned back to my fiction writing and found comfort in it.

Then, this time, I got sick. I was thirsty all of the time, sleepy all of the time. I couldn’t sit still long enough to write because I would almost fall asleep. I just felt awful. I soon found out why, I was a diabetic.

Just about the time I began to feel well enough and awake enough to face the computer for longer than the time it took to do a few e-mail messages, I found out my blood sugar counts were getting worse instead of better. Learning I would need to start doing daily blood tests at home, as well as go on daily meds to try to control the disease, knocked me for a whole new loop. I’m terrified of needles, so just the thought of what I was facing, along with what I knew about being a diabetic because my father had been one, was enough to send me in a brand new downward spiral.

I caught hold of the cave sides on the way down, and climbed right back up this time. At first every word was a fight, but I slowly started to get back into the rhythm. And then…

Yes, you knew something else was coming. This time it was hurricane Katrina. Talk about turning my world upside down. She even turned it inside out. It’s been six months today since she hit my home, and I’ve yet to write more than a few words. I have even shied away from e-mail messages, mainly only doing the ones I have to for my groups, and answering friends after long lags. Many days I have a great idea for something to write here for my blog, and I let those thoughts slip away too.

I’ve tried hard, but I just can’t seem to get anywhere at all. I think I’m actually afraid that if I start writing again, and get back into a normal writing routine, or anything near it…something else will happen. Maybe even something worse than the other times. It feels like fate doesn’t want me to write my romance novels, and slaps me down with glee anytime I start doing too well at it.

I’ve felt this way, or close to it, before, and thought maybe just not ever writing again would be the best thing for me. I’ve tried that. But even now, when I can’t write, I can’t leave it completely alone either. The story I have started calls to me. The characters walk through my mind at the oddest times and whisper secrets to me. Plot points pop into my thoughts, ideas for a new story, a better way to end a scene, those kinds of things that only other writers know the power of.

Always before, the story and the characters kept on pulling at me until I could no longer resist the comfort of their world, until I willingly slipped back into its brightness with them.

I know that will happen again, I just can’t leave it for good. Part of me wishes that I could though, unless there was some way for me to turn into one of those writers who can write through any thing. I know some of them in person, and nothing, nothing short of their own deaths, would stop the flow of words for them. I wish they knew some little secret that they could share with me. What ever it is they have found that makes them able to write on no matter what. But I guess even if they could, the secret that works for one probably wouldn’t work for another.

I guess there’s nothing I can do but sit here and wait, try to reach out when the pull comes, and hope that sooner instead of later, I’m able to slip back in.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Are You From Bogalusa? Did You Leave After Hurricane Katrina?

If so, and you left, it's time to come home. :-)

I get at least a couple of messages a week from people who have found my blog or site and want to know if it's okay to come home yet, if things are still as bad as they were when they left, ect....

If you are one of those who left here before or after Hurricane Katrina, like I said above, it's time to come home to Bogalusa, Louisiana. It's safe to come home. It's been months since Katrina, and since then, lots of people have been hard at work.

I’ve posted updates here on my blog, but I think many people aren’t used to reading blogs and get here from a search that takes them to an older post and that’s the only one they read, so they miss the updates. I made sure to put both Bogalusa and Katrina in the title of this post, so search engines would pick up on it and maybe direct people here instead of to an older post.

I want people from here who left to be assured that it is okay to come back now. Has been okay to come back for a while. The roads are clear…mostly. They are still trimming trees and taking damaged ones down, but it’s no big deal and they are only working in a section or two at a time. So you might find one or two roads blocked for part of the day, but you just go a street over and go on your way. The newspaper comes three days a week -- I don’t know if or when it will go back to six. The mail runs six days a week…and yes it seems to take two weeks or longer for mail to get through sometimes, just a few things, and some of my magazines don’t show up every month like they should, but most mail, at least 97%, is coming right on time. It seems all bills are, so that’s not a problem. (You knew those bills were going to get through.) (Smile)

The grocery stores, dollar stores, and even Wal-Mart, are all back open and now seem well stocked. The same for gas stations and drug stores, and all of the odds and ends. Some do close a little earlier or open a little later than they used to, but not by much. Some few things aren’t open and probably won’t be. But like I said, it’s few things. Even the fast food places are open. They close a little earlier too, and sometimes they don’t have enough workers to run both the drive through and lobby, so they close one or the other, but even that problem is getting less often. You can go to your doctor, your vet, and the hospital. The phone, lights, cable, and even the cell phones work fine. (Okay, the cell phones still break up or drop calls more than normal, but not much more.)

So, again, it really is fine to come home to Bogalusa. And hurry! We are even going to have our normal Mardi Gras parade -- it’s this Saturday, the 25th in the evening. You don’t want to miss that, do you? (Smile.) We are also having the 5K run a few hours before the parade. My husband’s gonna be runnin' in it. So wish him luck.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Update on My Sister’s Grandbaby

Thanks so much for all of the e-mails y’all sent filled with prayers and good thoughts for this darling little baby boy. His name is Travis. It breaks my heart to report that things haven’t gotten any better for little Travis. In fact, the doctors have taken away all hope. It’s doubtful he will live to see his first birthday. They do know what’s wrong with him now. He was born with something called Autosomal Recessive Cutis Laxa Type One. There are only a couple of hundred people in the whole world with Cutis Laxa, and his is the very worse kind. There is no cure and no treatment for it. It simply keeps on until the last of the fight is gone from the body it’s destroying. All the doctors can do is try to treat the symptoms and the damage and buy Travis, and his mother, more time.

I wrote in my blog a short while ago about how sad I was over losing one of my dogs. I can’t even guess at the amount of pain my niece is dealing with! Comparing the pain of losing a dog, even as much as I loved Red, to the loss of a child, seems like comparing a drop of water to the ocean. I know my brother died when I was ten. My mother died twenty years later, and she hadn’t gotten over his loss even then.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Protect Your Family Pictures By Sharing Them

We’ve gotten so much fixed on the house now, I’ve kind of moved on from what was lost, accepted it as is--all but for my family pictures and keepsakes. There’s nothing I can do to bring them back, and that hurts most of all. I have the first few years of my children’s life, and then nothing until now. I’m a picture nut….have always taken tons of them of my children, of family, friends, pets, places, ect…. Now years’ worth of them are just gone, completely gone, forever gone.

The “if onlys” are enough to drive a person crazy, so I just fight the thoughts and sadness as best I can. You can’t go back in time, not to take more pictures or to make sure the ones you had are safe.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there were other copies, even of part of them, but there aren’t. I almost always got double prints of my pictures, and for years I gave copies to family and friends, mostly to my mother and my sister. But in ’95 my mother died, my father had already been sick for years, my sister moved far away, and other family members moved off or drifted out of touch without Mom to pull us together. In ’96 I got my first computer and the Internet. I had lots of pen pals back then, and often shared pictures with them and family members when I sent letters. But pretty soon letters became a thing of the past and we were all doing e-mail.

After Mom died, Dad was in really bad health and I had to take care of him, I also had two kids to raise, a husband, and I started working, doing full-time freelance writing. Suddenly those double-prints just stayed in those packs, both sets of them. I didn’t even put them in albums any more. It just seemed there was never enough time.

(Thank goodness my older pictures weren’t with them. Most of the older ones are safe and sound, though there were black & white pictures and family keepsakes in the same big box, but thankfully those didn’t include my wedding pictures some family pictures of my parents, and the first few years from my children.)

I just wish so badly that at least some pictures from all of those missing years could have been saved. I learned a really hard lesson from all of this and I hope it’s one I don’t need a second teaching of, and that it’s one that I can save some other people from having to face.

We all know there are hurricanes, tornados, floods, house fires, and yet some how most of us always think the worst won’t happen to us. Then it does. Losing your home and clothes and everything else might hurt, BADLY, but things are things. Pictures of your loved ones are so much more to you and to those who come after you, than simple things. Those pictures and keepsakes are your family history, the faces of those long dead, of your children when they were learning to skate, or leaving for a first date, the letters your mother wrote your father or a clipping of your grandmother’s hair when it was red instead of white. There is no way to replace those if there isn’t another copy of clipping of it.

There is at least something you can do to protect your precious family pictures, and it’s not that hard and it doesn’t cost that much.

Get double prints. It’s only a little more, and most of us get them anyway. If you can’t get them every time, get them at least every other time or two. Then put them somewhere else, with someone else. Share some with your mom, your dad, your grandmother, your brother, your sister, your aunt, or close friends. If nothing else, find a friend who is willing to trade and share with you. When she gets double prints she can send you the ones that are really important to her and you will safe keep them, in return, you send your important copies to her, and she will safe keep them. If any thing happens to one of your homes, the other person will at least be able to replace those important family pictures that were shared.

You can do the same thing with old family letters or really old family pictures. Copy them, share them, even scan the most important ones in to your computer and e-mail them to yourself and others.

Some things you can’t do that with, like a memory book, baby books, and such. At least, as my mom would say, don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket. Keep them in a safe place, but maybe in different places. If you can afford it, keep the most important keepsakes in a safety box at the bank, or maybe in the top drawer of a fireproof file cabinet. Get creative if you have to.

Think about things you don’t want to think of. I’ve lived in this house for over twenty years and never had an inch of water in it during that whole time until the day two feet came rushing through with Katrina. If your house caught on fire and you couldn’t get anything out, is there some place things would be safe or stand a better chance. Even if you don’t flood, a tree could crash into your home and allow the rain to pour in. You just never know.

No matter what. When it’s said and done, you can go to Wal-Marts and pick out another TV, more clothes, pots and pans. You can go to Sears and replace your stove or washer. Yes, it all takes money, but it’s just things and money. You can have all of the money in the world, but there are things you won’t be able to replace no matter what. Life being first, and your important family pictures and keepsakes being second.

Those things, once lost, are the things you never forget or forgive yourself for.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My Own Room!

It's taken five very long months, but last night I got to sleep in my own bedroom for the first time since hurricane Katrina!

Getting the use of that room back has made such a big difference in the rest of my home. We have so much more room now and things look so much more like they used to. Even better in some my bedroom is all fresh and new now. I even completely changed the color. I had a Coral Rose paint on the walls…but everyone who saw it said it was pink. (Smile) Now the room is a color called Sugar Blossom. In other words, it’s white. (Smile)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Prayers, good thoughts, white light, ect...

Hi everyone,

My sister's two-month old grandson is in Little Rock's Children Hospital in NICU. He is one very sick little boy. The doctors aren't offering a lot of long-term hope for him. If you could send any prayers, good thoughts, white light, or what ever you use to send love and healing, please do.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Katrina Update from Bogalusa, Louisiana

I’ve gotten a number of messages from people wondering how things are going around here now. I know my posts are sometimes, if not often, few and far between.

So here goes…. (Smile)

Life is much more normal in Bogalusa than it was even a month ago. Hurricane Katrina left her mark but we are rubbing her out--one blotch at a time. There's much, much less debris around on the sides of the roads, many of the damaged trees that remained standing are being trimmed back or marked for removal, homeowners are putting in lots of elbow grease and cash to get things back to how they were before the storm and in some cases even better than they were, slowly the blue tarps on homes are being replaced with new shingles, most businesses that are going to open back up have and they are keeping more normal-type hours even though many are still begging for employees and offering good pay and even bonuses to get them.

It's also a lot easier to find the common things you need now, or things you still need to replace. Cable is back for those who didn't switch to satellite. As far as I know, it seems everyone has phone and electric services if their homes are livable, and even the cell phones are working like they should again--most of the time. Mail is still a little slow, and the newspaper still only comes out three times a week. It might be months before those things return to their old ways.

Personally: My husband's truck has been repaired and my car has been replaced. I miss my older car, mostly because it was all paid for, but I really like the new one even if I don’t like the monthly notes. (Smile)

Work on the house finally seems to be moving forward. There was a point where we just wanted to throw our hands up and give up, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. We have some more sheetrock to take out and replace, more painting, then we need to replace the floors, and this spring we'll redo the roof, but it feels like there is an end date and I can see the progress of all of our hard work.

We should be able to move back into our master bedroom maybe even by this weekend. It’s twice the size of the tiny little room we have been staying in. The extra room that we use as a workout room, now only needs the flooring put down and the doorway finished, then it’s ready to move my bike, treadmill, and my husband’s weight bench into. I need to get back to working out better and more often. I’ve kind of let that slide and my blood pressure and my blood sugar, as well as my weight, are all telling the tale on me. Having those two rooms completed and usable will make this whole house so much less crowded and jammed. Maybe I’ll have places to put things again, and actually be able to find them once I put them somewhere. It will certainly feel more like the home it used to be.

In a kind of backward twist, we finished rebuilding my husband’s little workshop in the backyard first. With so many of his tools and equipment inside, we were climbing over stuff with almost every step. There really wasn’t room to even work inside the house and there was no where else to put the tools and such, so we did the workshop and all of his stuff is out there now. That was a big help.

I’m not sure what we are going to do next. Almost all of the floors will have to be replaced, but we only have the sheetrock left to redo in the living room, wash room, and the second bathroom--which we can’t even get into right now. And the whole roof to put new shingles on of course. I think when we can get back into our bedroom and get things in the workout room so I can use them again, we might just take a break before we start the next step. If the money doesn’t run out before we wear out. (Smile)

The kids are also doing better. Acting more like they used to. (They are 22 and 17 and hate me calling them kids, but they will always be kids to me.) Their school schedules are back to normal and everything is going fine for them. My daughter will graduate from high school in May and my son will graduate from college with a BA the same month after four long hard years. I’m so proud and happy for them both.

My smaller kids…my dogs…are doing well too. They’ve taken it all as just a little bump in the road. Well, they are all doing well but one. A little over a week ago I lost Red. I spent the last few days of his life with him, petting all of his favorite spots, feeding him chicken and other things he loved that I cooked just for him, and telling him what a great dog he was and how lucky I was to have had him as mine. I sure hope he’s in a special place now. I sure do miss him.

Well, I guess that’s about the end of my update for this time. There’s probably more that I’ll only think of after I send this, but that’s just normal for me and I’ve decided I really like normal just fine. (Smile)

Monday, January 16, 2006

E-Mail H E Double L

I hooked up my first computer ten years ago this year. A few months later I got Juno free e-mail. It was a long distance call for me, so I received and sent mail only once a day. (Talk about seeming like a lifetime ago.) hehehe

If you take the e-mail trouble of each of the nine of those years and add them all together, you wouldn't come up with half the e-mail trouble I've had in the last year alone. In that last year I've lost e-mail from two computer crashes, from an e-mail program failure twice, a virus, from a bad motherboard, and ect....

It’s like some how I offended some god of e-mail and I’ve paid for it over and over. Everything seems fine now—knock on wood! The last few weeks my computer has worked fine, my e-mail program fine, and all seems right with my little e-mail world. (Smile) Knock on wood again!


There’s just one little, tiny, bitty problem. My e-mail.

Talk about a mess! I really don’t even know how or where to start. During all of the trouble, I’ve used different addresses, different e-mail programs, and even different computers. Now that every thing is fixed and I’m trying to catch up, it seems an impossible task. I have messages that I need to reply to scattered between no less than three computers, six e-mail programs, and I’ve lost count of the number of folders. Even worse, some of them are duplicate messages from where I was sending things around trying to save things, especially messages I needed to reply to.

On top of that, I’m a diabetic and my blood sugar counts have been crazy lately. So I’ve been trying my best to spend less time at the computer sitting, and much more time up moving around.

It’s gotten to the point where when I do open some of those e-mail folders, I don’t even know where to begin to try to catch up. Just keeping up with the day-to-day messages from the groups I manage can be an overwhelming job at times.

I am trying though. I know I did lose a lot of messages, so a number of people already think I was too stuck up to reply to them, so I don’t want to miss any that I can answer. I guess all I can do is take my time, answer those that aren’t lost, and hope everyone understands.

So, if you are waiting for a reply from me and it doesn’t come, feel free to resend. If the e-mail god is all through taking revenge on me now for whatever I did wrong, maybe the next nine years of e-mail will work out as well as the first nine. (Smile) I don’t think I could take another one like the last!