Saturday, May 29, 2004

Once more with gusto

I started writing many hours ago when the lights flickered in time to the rumble of thunder and the crackle of lightning outside my window. The computer rebooted and just as it reached cruising speed I decided to shut it down and unplug it because forks of lightning split the sky closer and closer to the cabin. The sky was white with a deep dirty wool gray closing fast so I put on some shoes and brought in my plants from the deck, filled the hummingbird feeder with the syrup I cooled in the fridge and picked up my gloves and wood sling. I haven't cut up the logs in the woodpile yet, but there was some wood on the ground so I gathered it up, some of it crumbling in my hands. Beetles raced for cover and desiccated bits of wood crumbled and drifted to the ground, but I got a good load and took it into the house. The idea of a crackling fire in the stove and oil lamps glowing in the window was too much a siren call for me to resist.

The golden glow didn't lighten the room because the sky was a brilliant paper white. Then the snow and sleet and rain hit in horizontal driving sheets. Surprisingly, my littel hummingbirds continued to quarrel and dog fight, scrapping and knocking each other off the perches on the feeder, even in the teeth of the storm. Nothing seems to keep them from the feeder, especially with a full bottle of fresh syrup.

I wrote a long letter to my parents in long hand and finished House Arrakis from the Dune series. Then I picked up Elizabeth Moon's latest, a Nebula winner no less, The Speed of Dark, which has been a revelation. The story is told from an autistic man's point of view on the eve of a discovery that would make him normal. Elizabeth has an autistic son and the book is dedicated to him. But the idea that even autism is a source of someone's identity, without which they would no longer exist, is an interesting take. When you get right down to it, all our experiences, good and bad, our histories, our friendships and loyalties and disagreements, everything that has happened to this point is part of our identities.

I thought about turning my back on my history and family and becoming someone new, someone who no longer fought the demons of the past, but I realized that changing my name and wiping out my experiences would wipe out who I was, would wipe out me. I have to wonder if the forgotten men and women and children who walk away from their lives and become bums or prostitutes or just wanderers don't feel the same thing, that they are blank empty canvasses from which the paint has been scrubbed and to lay claim to anything they know or have learned is to lay claim to an identity they no longer want or care to own. Even if you change your name and deny your past, it is nearly impossible to deny your identity without eradicating every moment of your life up to that point. Maybe that's why they take drugs and drink themselves into oblivion, so they aren't able to remember anything but the moment they're living. It's like being caught in limbo.

I haven't finished the book yet, but it is fascinating and I recommend it to everyone who would like to know a difference face of normal.

I entered Bulwer Lytton's Dark and Stormy night competition with the following:

It was a dark and stormy night when Beryl Beefeater, closely swathed in hemp and linen trench coat over the sumptuous polar bear fleece Ye Old Maritime T-Shirt with matching baby seal-skin trousers, snuck into the health food restaurant and into the darkest booth at the back in order to indulge her secret vice-avocado burgers and organic salsa.

Check out their site. There is still time if you'd like to try for a prize by writing the most atrocious prose you've ever written. It pays to write purple prose once in a while.

I also tried to write my essay for the Power of Purpose contest. I know the dead hummingbird I found yesterday is part of the equation, but I think [info]chenowyn gave me the final key with her comment about giving the hummingbird new purpose. My idea has always been, since the moment I read the rules, the power of the small purpose upon which everything is built. Not the architects of Stonehenge or the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris or the Wright Brothers or even the architects who built the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, but the little purposes -- getting up every morning to go to a small job for small money and back to a small home with small dreams for the future and being completely happy. People like that are the bedrock upon which all else is built and made possible. But taking it to the hummingbird and giving him to the earth to nourish my future plants goes even further and it may be just what I needed. The essay is finally taking shape in my mind. Thank you [info]chenowyn.

The lavender sky has gone deep blue edged with a lighter blue that is seeping into the white. Night is nearly here and I am wrapped in darkness and warmth. The night is not nearly so dark and the stormy has passed, but there is peace in my sanctuary here at the top of the mountain.

Friday, May 28, 2004


I just found a dead hummingbird on the bench on the deck. It was a male, and most likely the sassy bold little male who determines who does and does not get to share the feeder.

I found a dead hummingbird on the deck, his wings out as if soaring on the wind.

I took his tiny body in my hands, marveling at the still brilliant iridescence of his ruby and gold throat and his dragon scale feathers still shimmer in the sun. His black bead bright eyes were flat and empty, his tiny claws curled as if still on the feeder perch. I stroked his wings and soft little body, marveling at the softness and perfection of each little feather. His thread-like tongue stuck thru his needle beak, hard and unyielding, not the pliant whip made to sip nectar and sugar syrup.

The other hummingbirds darted and whistled about the feeder, seemingly oblivious to their silent friend. As I picked him up, hummingbirds descended from everywhere, squabbling and buzzing around the feeder. Maybe they noticed their companion after all and out of fear or respect or animal intelligence curtailed their usually frenzied quarreling over sugar syrup.

I found a dead hummingbird on the deck.

Planning to repot some seedlings, I gathered the new clay pot, my trowel, two peat pots containing butternut squash and cayenne, a flat of 72 cells full of flowers, seedlings, and seeds, and took them outside. At the foot of the stairs to the deck, I picked up two pieces of pink marble to cover the drain hole, and began to fill the new pot with rich, loamy organic soil. Once it was halfway full, I gently placed the perfect tiny body of the hummingbird and covered him with more earth. To fling him into the woods or bury him in the yard seemed wrong, unfair. Instead, his little body will go back to the earth and nourish the seedlings and plants, giving him a new purpose.

I found a dead hummingbird on the deck. A ruby-throated male that once carried pollen and seeds from flower and tree to ensure the next generation. Bright colors and sweet nectar called him from his busy rounds to visit and take a little of their essence with him as he buzzed and darted throughout the day. He still has a purpose. He fertilizes my seedlings and plants, ensuring their growth and flourishing. And although his beauty and perfection no longer brighten my view, he will always brighten my heart and my home as he returns to his place in the cycle of life, fulfilling yet another purpose.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


I have spent most of the day working on the staff issue of The Rose & Thorn--doing a little editing and putting it all together with illustrations and a few fancy fonts to make it look really special. But one thing has been on my mind as I worked on the profile of three really great science fiction & fantasy authors (Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and Elizabeth Moon), that some people have taken my personal views on honesty in communication and politically correct language as a law for everyone.

That's just not so.

The views are my own. Like anyone who keeps a journal, even online, personal views are just that -- personal views. Whether you disagree or agree with my take or stand on an issue is up to you. It won't change my views, unless you have some pretty good evidence to back up your divergent opinion, but you are just as entitled to your views as I am to mine.

There are also some misconceptions about what I wrote. I find PC language empty and divisive because it gives polite and empty labels to things and people in an attempt to mend some imagined wrong. But calling someone vertically challenged instead of short or differently abled instead of handicapped does not take the sting out of the facts. Fancy words without the obvious truth. If you're short, you're short. If you're fat, you're fat. If you're bald or tall or skinny or stupid, live with it. You can't change being short without platform shoes or inserts or being tall without slouching or really readical surgery, but that does not make you any less a person or any less useful, viable, or special. Our differences make us special. If the world was composed of human carbon copies without any differences, there would be no need for journals or life as we know it. Perfection is stagnation. Normal is relative. Life is about change and change is constant.

If you are not comfortable saying what you feel, then say nothing at all, but be honest with yourself. You help no one, not even yourself, when you are dishonest about what you think, feel, and say. If you find it uncomfortable or difficult to say what you feel, maybe that is something for you to change . . . or not. It's your choice. But if people misunderstand you, who is at fault, the person who misunderstood or you for not being clear?

We are who and what we choose to be, and, as I have said before, not choosing is still a choice.

I have friends who are afraid to confront their fears or anyone else and they feel they cannot change that fact of their lives. That's their choice. They're still my friends. While they may not be able or willing to be forthright and open about their feelings, their thoughts, their dreams and hopes, or themselves, they have a right to their silence, just as I have a right to my open honest and sometimes confrontational manner.

I understand how they feel. I spend the biggest part of my life silent, afraid to say what I thought and felt because of being criticized, ostracized, and just plain hurt. I don't like pain, but I can and will endure it. There finally came a time when silence wasn't working for me. Being afraid someone would not love me or would hate me or walk away from me or just ignore me made my life more difficult. I finally understood that if I didn't ask for what I wanted, if I didn't speak out when someone hurt me, slighted me, or ignored me, it was my fault not theirs. It took an even longer time to break out of the prison I had built and throw caution to the winds and speak my mind.

Not everyone is built the same way. Not everyone learns a lesson at the same speed -- or sometimes at all. What I write, what I believe is what I have learned thru trial and error -- a lot of error.

I do not expect you to like me because of what I write, or even agree with me, but I hope you understand or are at least willing to ask me to explain. If not, that's your choice.

A journal, at least for me, is a place to chronicle my thoughts, conjecture, questions, and revelations--no matter how small or insignificant they may be to others. Ultimately, this is for me and for anyone who thinks they might like to take a peek into my mind without the vivisection. I have nothing to lose by being honest. I am nearly 50 years old and I have lived an interesting and, at times, difficult life. This is all part of the journey and you are welcome to walk alongside for a while or for the rest of the trip. It's your choice. My choice is to tell it as I have lived it and how I have come to understand it. Nothing more and nothing less.

At least you don't have to wait until I'm dead and someone inquisitive someone decides to make a little (very little, I'm sure) money out of my rambling thoughts. You get to see the journey unfold as it happens -- or not. Maybe you'd rather wait until one of my greedy children decides to sell my thoughts, dreams, aspirations, questions, and insights. That's fine, too.

In the meantime, thank you for jumping in and commenting when you don't agree--and even when you do. You all make life enjoyable, whatever your choices. I do not expect you to change because of me, but maybe you'll change in spite of me and allow me to come along and share your journey as well. Whatever you choose, thanks for sharing these few moments with me.

Five more days

I'm starting my work day with an entry instead of waiting until I have something to say, so just be warned.

As I was writing yet another message to the EIC of Rose & Thorn (one of the last few I shall ever have to write) that I stop when I'm about to say something iffy. I've noticed it before, but today it dawned on me that I have to do that less and less these days.

While editing some time ago I was correcting yet another author's constant use of passive voice and writing another note to the effect that passive voice slows the pace and makes ponderous what should clip along like a high speed monorail. I thought, that's what I should do with my own writing, not the fiction, but in communication with people. Too often, especially in the current all pervasive atmosphere of politically correct and viscerally absent language, we couch our phrases in terms of I think or maybe when we know exactly what we want to say but we are so fearful of stepping on someone's toes. Being blunt and honest and straight to the point has become something to fear instead of a virtue. At that moment I realized I was tired of being careful and just wanted to say what I thought, the things and feelings I hid deep inside like some fugitive from Nazi Germany.

In effect, by kowtowing to PC language we have given up the right to be forthright and honest and to let people know what we really think and feel. No wonder our world is in such a mess with everyone tiptoeing around everyone else afraid to give offense and no one really saying anything.

So I decided not to use wimpy words to soften the blow of what I have to say about anything. That doesn't mean I don't employ a little tact. What it does mean is that I say what I think even if you're not going to like it. I'm not abusive or rude, just definite and clear. I still keep some things to myself, but not because I'm afraid to say them. I just prefer to take the time to figure out the right time. In other words, I don't burn a bridge until after I cross it.

Stop and think how many times you write "maybe you should" or "I'm not quite sure, but..." in emails and letters and even when you speak to someone. Be bold. Take the world and your words by the horns and say what you really think and what you really mean. If everyone was truthful and didn't worry about spin or telling a jerk that he could win the Olympics with his vulgar mouth and crass attitude, I doubt we'd have as many problems as we do here and abroad. Granted, some people aren't going to like you for bucking the system, for using clear, concise and razor sharp words to say what you mean instead of the inflated, pompous, high sounding, but full of hot air and devoid of meaning words that pass for truth in politically correct circles, but you will have a clear conscience and everyone will know where you stand. Honesty isn't a license to be rude or hurtful. Honesty is a license to stand up and be counted.

Personally, I'd prefer bald to follicularly challenged if my hair were absent from the crown of my head and shones like a brand new billiard ball. I don't even mind being called fat. I am. But I am also voluptuous, sensuous, sensual, and, most important of all, unforgettable. So is the Venus de Milo and the Statue of Liberty. Get over it. Stop hiding behind empty words and say exactly what you mean. Don't let the politically correct faction take the beauty, strength, and power of simple, direct, honest words from you. If you do, you will end up with . . . an empty world full of prickly oversensitive people who are just looking for a chance to call you out, take you to court, or just cause trouble. If you're going to get slapped in the face at least be slapped for something you did say instead of something you almost, but not quite, really weren't sure you said.

So every time you start to write or say, or even think, possibly, maybe, might, could be or the like, stop, rewind or backspace, and say what you mean, what you're thinking. Take the IF out of your language. You either mean what you say or you don't. Life IS or it ISN'T; there is no in between.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I just realized

that as of the end of next week I am going to have lots of time on my hands, lots of time to just screw around, clean house, dig in the dirt, and cut down trees and cut up logs for the fireplace with the chainsaw. I am also going to have a lot of time to write, read, and research. I don't know what to do with myself. I'm going to be able to write.

A friend told me last year that I could write 12 books a year, or at least 6 books a year if I took my time. At the time I thought he was nuts, especially considering everything I had on my plate, but I think he could be right. I could actually have a minimum of six books making the publishing rounds in a year, and two of them I know are good. I don't know about the other four because I haven't written them or even thought about them.

I will also have time to finally put together a consumer security column for syndication and a print magazine is already interested and wants a sample column for their launch. I could actually make my writing pay. I'll have time for marketing and sending out queries and manuscripts. I will even have time to write to my heart's content. No more art work to find to illustrate someone else's stories. No more niggling, nit picky little changes to make for control freaks and PITAs. No more attitudes that need adjusting or whiny authors complaining that I trashed their stories or didn't notify them first that I changed a comma without telling them. No more long hours, hard work, draining of my talents and resources to make everyone else look good. And most of all, no more people taking credit for my thoughts, ideas, and work while they smile and say thank you to the people who think they are the creative force.

Free at last. Free at last. Thank the gods I am free at last.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all that freedom. Any ideas?

Thoughts of Grandpa

and Grandma, come to that.

A long time friend back in Ohio sent me a cute little joke about Grandpa's wisdom. Of course it had a funny ending having to do with women with small hands and the relative size of a man's pump handle, but that's not what put thoughts of Grandpa in my head.

You see, my grandfather was a big man, about 6' 4" tall, stocky, and he looked just like Lyndon Johnson's twin, except he had a big mole on the left side of his chin. He had silver hair and he always smelled of hair oil (the old fashioned kind), tobacco, and horehound candy. Grandpa smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, but he didn't die of lung cancer or even get emphysema. he died of an aneurysm and he went in his sleep, quickly.

I used to sit on my grandfather's knee and light his cigarettes for him. I'd fish the pack of cigarettes out of his starched and ironed white shirt, pull one from the pack and put it between his lips, then get his silver lighter from his pocket, flip open the top, flick the ball, and light his cigarette. He always put the lighter and his pack of Camels back in his left breast pocket, but I got to light his cigarette. Everyone in the family smoked, except my father smoked rarely--usually when he was drinking.

Mom and Dad would go to the base commissary once a month and they had a special card so they could get lots of cartons of cigarettes. Pall Malls for Aunt Joan, Camels for Grandpa, Winstons for Mom, and Kools for Grandma. I think it was Kools for Grandma. The cart was loaded with those long slender cardboard cartons, right alongside the food, most of the time heaped in the seat when we were too old to sit there. We usually got two carts and pushed them up and down the aisles in the warehouse-like commissary.

Mostly I remember Grandpa when I was a teenager. He always wore charcoal gray trousers with knife-edge creases and crisp, starched white shirts. He kept the sleeves rolled up to mid forearm and his top collar button open so you could see his bleached white T-shirt. He was a giant to me, but a gentle and loving giant. Mom told stories about Grandpa's rules, like not coming to the breakfast table in your pajamas or gowns, and his strict curfews, but to me he was a gentle giant who loved me completely and let me sit on his knee to light his cigarettes.

And he taught me about Bluegrass music. Not the crossover country rock they play nowadays, but the good old fashioned mountain Bluegrass music full of mandolins, fiddles, and guitars -- the acoustic kind. I can still see Grandpa sitting by the big bay window in the dining room on his corner sectional couch smoking Camels and listening to Flatt and Scruggs, Merle Haggard (before he got famous), and Tex Ritter, among others. The twang and almost whine of the music and voice and the feeling of sitting in the front parlor of some old shack on a cold night with the pot bellied stove warming the thin linoleum overlaying the board floor all the way to the clapboard walls, the heat fading slightly as you got close to the doors and windows where someone stuffed old newspapers to keep out the wind. Thinking of Grandpa reminds me of listening to his father, Great Grandpa May, playing the banjo so fast his fingers were a blur while he picked and sang while the kids sat on the floor, silent and entranced. I don't remember Great Grandpa May saying much, at least not in a regular conversation, but I remember his music and his flying fingers that never missed a chord or a string.

It seems strange now, but Great Grandpa May was a tall, thin reedy man and all his children were about 6' 2" tall or better in their stocking feet, even the women. I have seen pictures of Great Grandma May and she was broad in the beam and tall. The kids must have taken after her.

I remember listening to Grandpa's stories and reminiscences about his earlier days, days full of business and music and old fashioned values, but most of all I remember how he gave everyone nicknames.

Mom was Tom because she was such a tomboy when she was younger, although you couldn't tell it now because she's such a clothes horse. Grandma was Girlie, but I never knew why. I'd say it was because she was so feminine and domestic and sweet natured. Laura was Cutty or Gassy (you can figure out why). Laura begged us not to tell her brand new husband her nickname, but after having to make six eyelet pinafores with ruffles and bows the night before her wedding because the other bridesmaids didn't get them done, I told her groom. It was only fair. Bobbi Jean was Leaky or the S. S. Leakybottom, for obvious reasons. She was also nicknamed Blackie, but that was her father's doing. Mike was Pickle and Ellen was Roadhog. Aunt Lois, Uncle Bob's wife, was Hatchet Face because of a rather prominent profile. Must have been the nose. Gail was Shepherd, but I think that was Uncle Bob's name for her because her middle name was Shepherd after Aunt Lois's family name. And then there was IsinaCrab for my sister Carol, Dick Tracy for Tracy, although Uncle Bob had a much more colorful and non-PC nickname for her to go along with Bean, which is still what I call her. Jimmy was Towhead because his hair was nearly white as a child, and then there was me. Grandpa called me Pearl. He and Uncle Bob used to tease me and sing "Pearl Bailey won't you please come home" at every opportunity, sparking a little battle in which I insisted I was home.

Grandpa called me Pearl because he said my teeth were like perfect tiny pearls, but I found out that it was because he had heard the story of a Pearl of great price a man sold everything to own and Grandpa believed I was his Pearl of Great Price. Grandma called me Little One-Finger Jo, but she couldn't remember why.

Grandpa lived long enough to see and nickname two of my boys: David Scott was Buster Brown and Eddie was Little Pedro. I wish he could have given A. J. A nickname. (Btw, A. J. just turned 27 on Sunday.)

I learned so much from my grandparents: love, tolerance, charity, unselfishness, and generosity. But most of all I learned about family and music. I was adopted, but to my grandparents I was special, a gift. They were my family from the moment I drew my first breath and even though they're gone and their blood does not flow thru my veins, their memories are a part of me and we are family.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Declaration of Independence

I have decided that as of June, I will no longer work for the Editor from Hell at Rose & Thorn and I'm backing away from Another Chapter. I have spent too much of myself and my energy catering to others' demands and getting little or no respect for the work I have done. In the meantime, I have dissipated my energies and talents for people who keep demanding more. It's like pissing in the ocean.

I here and now declare my independence and offer my best wishes to the staff of Rose & Thorn and the owner of Another Chapter. I do not need their kind of attitude or their lack of respect. I need to strike out on my own and do what I was mean to do -- write. I'll still take on private editing clients, but it won't be on spec or for a promised half of royalties or advances. Cash on the barrelhead or no deal.

I have given my all to so many people, few of which have ever even noticed, let alone thanked me. I deserve better.

So, if anyone wants me, I'll be here and home writing, but I won't be at Rose & Thorn or in the trenches at Another Chapter.

I wonder what life will be like when it belongs solely to me. Should be interesting. Now all I have to do is tell the bosses they're on their own. Should I be the least bit happy if things don't work out for them? No, that would be rude and self serving.



I am feeling decidedly icky today. Must have been all the beans I ate yesterday. Oh, well, it was a choice.

Fell asleep in the chair last night (it IS a comfortable chair) and got up about 3:30 to go to bed. I read for a while, but that is when the rumbling began and the ick set in. I usually don't have problems, but I overdid it a bit with the turkey chili and pinto beans, not to mention the Parmesan popcorn I made. Maybe I should eat more meat and fewer beans, but then again...

First thing this morning, as I usually do, I checked my email, but it wouldn't download into Outlook. I had to read it online and I wasn't happy about that -- too slow and cumbersome. Another tempest is brewing at R&T and our all knowing, all seeing, all piss me off EIC is at the center stirring the pot. If I didn't know better, I'd say she was the embodiment of Scylla AND Charybdis. She just does not want to play nice with the stronger elements on the staff. But in a few days or a couple weeks she will come back with an idea that is the same idea someone else put forth and claim it as hers. Only the parties from whom she has taken said ideas, ideas she has nixed previously, know what she has done.

I was reading about Trolls yesterday, specifically people who stir the trouble pot in any situation, and I saw several of the men I've dated and both ex-husbands, as well as my ex-mother-in-law and the current R&T EIC. Surprise, surprise. NOT. I see now why I could never win with romance. I seem to attract the trolls in life and they use my explanations and good nature against me. When I finally rise up, then I end up being the bitch. Funny how that works. Oh, most everyone has a few of these traits, but a dyed in the greasy hair troll is something altogether. You should check it out whether you're Christian or pagan. Truth is truth no matter who speaks it. Go to and take a look. There is a reference to a Christian book and you can use Google -- or whatever search engine you prefer -- to find the book. Really opened my eyes.

In addition to everything else going on, I'm considering quitting the mega editing for Another Chapter. Balancing illustrations and artists and constant editing against everything else I do is becoming a huge chore and one that provides me no real fun and no money to speak of, even after I spend hundreds of hours going over and over and over someone's work and making the same changes over and over and over and having two bosses breathing down my throat. I could use the time to finish editing Whitechapel Hearts and writing Lost in Plain Sight, as well as doing a lot of other writing to boot. I have three columns to write every month, one of which is every two weeks, and other columns on the horizon that actually pay money and provide a huge circulation, but I feel like I should finish what I started with AC. Then again... I just don't know.

In my personal life, my mother was sent home from the hospital yesterday with a clean bill of health, outside of the loss of the use of her left arm. The CAT scan, MRI, carotid dopplers, and echocardiograms were negative. I am surprised. I would have thought some lesion or white matter would have shown up on the CAT scan and MRI of the brain when she has obviously had a stroke, but what do I know? Mom has to go to physical therapy for a while to regain the use of her left hand to offset the possibility of contractures, but she's still just as sassy and opinionated as ever. She's back to normal.

Now, my father is another situation entirely. He's turning into a cantakerous old coot and I told him yesterday when we talked he had used up all his cantankerous points for the rest of the year and had to be nice to people. He just growled and said he liked being a salty old dog. Thing is, I really think he does enjoy being cantankerous. Parents. What can you do with them but laugh?

Monday, May 24, 2004

Before the stampede

I have a lot on my plate today: editing, writing, more editing, more writing, and a trip to the post office. I'm a little frustrated that a transfer of money has been delayed or has not gone thru, but otherwise I am handling things.

Let's see... I have a book review to write, five books to read and review, articles and essays to write if I'm going to have any chance at all of winning (read submitting) a couple contests. You have to enter to win. I also need to pump up my enthusiasm and mindless belief that I have anything worth saying . . . or writing that might garner something other than the requisite UGH. Not really.

I went to bed early last night, 8:30. I was tired and feeling uncomfortable and I just wanted to lie down and read, which I did for about 30 minutes and then I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and I faded into the realms of sleep and rest with the lamp still on. I've done that a lot lately: went to bed to read and fell asleep with the light on. Must not have been too bad, my electric bill was only $20 last month, which is $4 less than it has been. And I'm rambling. That does not bode well for the writing day ahead.

However, I got quite a bit done on the staff issue and it is looking especially lovely. When it is out I expect everyone on my friends list to buy a copy. Everyone can afford $3.00 and it is worth the money, especially if you're a writer because it gives you what you need to know to enter our contest and win $40, or one of the other two money prizes. Besides, you get an issue of Rose & Thorn that is quite beautiful even if I do say so myself. After all, I am the designer, editor in chief, and contributor in this one. Honestly though, I was a bit scared to do the staff issue even though I suggested it. I wasn't sure I could pull it all together the way I envisioned it. I put it off and put it off, half afraid I couldn't pull it off. But when I worked on it this weekend, outside of a few coding glitches, it came together. I still have to figure out how to convert it to PDF and how to code the download, but the mechanics are already in place. PayPal buttons are functioning (finally) and I just love the cover.

Ooh, that reminds me. I have to write the editorial for the newsletter about the staff issue. I wish I could write while I sleep because words come into my mind, complete and perfect, but I lose them the moment I wake up. Still, I should be able to recreate at least most of what I dreamed. I just wish someone could invent a way to transcribe thoughts when you think them, at the moment of creation, so I wouldn't lose so much of what is in my head but stubbornly refuses to come into the light of day and spill out the ends of my fingers onto the keyboard. It's frustrating sometimes. I'll manage somehow, but what comes out of me in my dreams is so much better than what I end up writing. At least that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

In my capacity as editor, I received three possible submissions for the staff issue from [info]kaiberie this morning. She does write erotica very well. Surprisingly, she said she respects my opinion. That makes me smile, but it is also a bit strange. Even as an editor, I do not see people respecting what I say. They like or dislike my views, sometimes violently dislike my views and editing changes, but respect isn't something about which I see a lot. I'd like to think I have learned something in my 49 years, but I will always have that confused and battered little girl inside who just wants someone to like them and approve of her existence, her work, her dreams. I keep her hidden most of the time and she doesn't clamor for release, but she's still there, even if she is a ghost of her former self.

I'm rambling again, so it's time to stop before I end up being totally stupid and writing something that makes no earthly (or other worldly) sense.

I'll shut up now.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

A day of work

Today was spent with my butt planted firmly in my chair and working on the staff issue of Rose & Thorn. As I'm going thru the whole thing and deciding where to put everyone's submissions, I was struck right between the eyes that these are editors and staff members, some of which I have known (sort of) for years and their writing leaves a lot to be desired. What really amazes me is that Her Italian Highness, the editor in chief, looked over and edited some of these and a lot was left undone. I know some editors have a problem editing a published writer's work, but I don't. If it's wrong, I don't care how many publications they have to their credit, it is wrong.

On top of everything else I have to balance, now I have to go back thru and re-edit everyone's work because I will not ask anyone to pay for an issue if it is not the best it can be. One editor on the staff called me today while I was in the thick of things whining about not having anything to put in the staff issue since I shot down her essay. "But it happened just that way," she protested. I don't care. It was slow, used too much passive voice, and not as funny as she thought it was. There were moments, but they were more like nano-moments and not really laugh your butt off moments. I mean, really. "But I had two pieces in the last staff issue," she reminded me. Yes, and they were all right, but nothing to write home about. Besides, how wrong can you go when you're doing a Christmas piece and trying to tug the heart strings at a time of year when everyone's heart strings are easily pulled? She ought to try standing up in front of a hostile audience to do stand-up comedy and then come talk to me about what is and isn't funny. With that tripe, she would have been pelted with rotten tomatoes.

Oh, well, I'm sure you're all tired of seeing me complain about another R&T problem, but this is my journal and what I would write in my paper journal any way.

On another note, I popped The Last Samurai into the DVD player and finished watching it. The movie was pretty good, especially the parts in the Samurai village. The war scenes were excellent and I liked the way Tom Cruise's character compared the last battle to Thermopylae (the Spartans against the Persians if you're not up on your ancient history), but I was a bit amazed that after all of that Cruise lived. I guess someone had to take Kasimoto's sword to the emperor, especially since that sword had been in the service of the emperors of Japan for 900 years. But I shouldn't give away the rest of the ending, except to say it hurt to see all those brave and honorable men mowed down by a gatling gun simply because Omoru, the man who wanted to get rid of Katsumoto, was afraid Katsumoto would kill him with his last breath. What a wimp. He kept screaming that Katsumoto had lost and should do the honorable thing and kill himself. I don't know if I would agree with that version of events. After all, 500 Samurai killed two regiments and nearly decimated a third before they died. Somehow I see that more as a victory for the Samurai than for Western technology and guns that kill indiscriminately.

Maybe I've read too much science fiction and fantasy because I believe you should see your enemy's eyes when you kill him. Killing a man from a distance, especially from hundreds of yards away, makes the killing too impersonal, too removed from reality. When you kill someone hand to hand, your life against theirs, it has a greater impact and you cannot divorce yourself from the reality of death.

Oh, well, I'll shut up now. I could be reading something interesting.