Thursday, April 14, 2005

Shades of parody

If you enjoy parodies, even when you don't know the people being lampooned, check out 's journal. You may recognize someone you know.

In other news, tomorrow morning I split for the other side of the continental divide to look for a new place to live, visit with friends, and see how much trouble I can get into until Sunday. I will not be posting over the weekend, so consider yourselves warned. I plan to take a few clothes, a book or two, and enjoy myself for a change, especially since I won't be chained to the computer behind me right now listening to foreign doctors who can't speak English understandably (or at all), call in on their cell phones from their cars to dictate operative reports.

I'm going to wallow in electronic and computer parts at OEM, have lunch with an evil man with (I hope) evil intentions, cruise by REI to bone up on hiking and backpacking equipment, take a walk in a garden of god/desses, and spend some blissful hours talking with friends.

No deadlines. No hideous reports. No waking up in the middle of the night to work for eight solid hours of torture and a pittance of pay. And no regrets.

See ya all next week with a new attitude and a calmer frame of mind.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Funny or disloyal?

Several months ago a mutual friend of a friend and I were talking about laundry. He had just retired and was complaining about having to do the laundry. I told him I wasn't doing much better and had a pile of laundry in the basement I needed to do. He then told me he was getting really good at doing the laundry and he'd be willing to do my laundry, too. Not being a fan of laundry I asked him his price? A blow job for every load of laundry.

Not money? I asked.

Naw. A load for a load.

Thinking I was getting off cheap, I said sure and we laughed. Every time laundry was mentioned he offered his services and promised to be right over. He lives about eight hours from here.

A few weeks after that in a conversation with the friend I told her about the deal and how funny the guy I was seeing thought it was. Must be a guy thing. She was very upset and said that I was disloyal and undermining her relationship with her fella. She said she forgave me then but she keeps bringing it up. In fact, she is bringing it up again today. She says I should never have offered him a blow job to do my laundry and that if I was a true friend I wouldn't even discuss those things with her fella.

She also told me that she related the story of how I offered a blow job to her fella to her friends and they agreed that she was right and I was no true friend, to watch her back, and not to trust me. She has known me for ten years and she has complained many times that I am too honest, that I lack tact, and that I always have to be right. Let's forget that she is of course right and I am a no good, low down, boyfriend stealing bitch who goes around offering blow jobs to my friends' fellas at every possible opportunity. Let's not forget that in group chats between her fella, mine, she and I we have thrown around a lot of double entendre and sexual content with joyful abandon.

I have apologized for the incident so many times I've lost count.

My point is this, if I had any intentions of making good on the load for a load offer, I would never have mentioned it to her. I have this nasty habit of saying what I think and being completely honest. For this I have been branded aggressive, tactless, rude, and abrasive. I maintain that there is never a bad time to tell the truth and be completely honest and that it isn't something you need a spin doctor for.

If I'm wrong, I'll admit it, but was I disloyal or was it just a harmless joke between friends? You decide.


Too often I feel like my life has been out of control, that I have been buffeted by hurricane force winds and that nothing is going my way, but it is an illusion born of my own fears and insecurities. That's something I have learned so much about over the years. One thing I do know is that I will survive and I will, like a cat, land on my feet, but those in between times are really difficult. It is my fault because I have lost focus, lost sight of what's really important. No more.

This morning I took another step towards creating my own happiness. My world is turning back around and I will have what I have always wanted -- happiness. It seems like such a distant and untouchable thing -- happiness -- but it isn't. Happiness is always within our grasp, but we have to see it, know it, and decide to take hold of it. It's as simple as that.

No complication, no outside force, nothing in this world can keep us from being happy if we truly wish it.

So, this morning I am happy. What about you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


I can't sleep because I'm changing my schedule around. My mind wouldn't shut off last night and kept rolling from subject to subject.

I'm planning the ritual for Beltane, something not in the books, but something more elemental, something inside me like a race memory or just a feeling that ties me to the earth, to growing, planting, life, and the promise of life. Then my childhood and walking shadowed pathways alone, most of the time barefoot, and happy.

What I remember most is: Long stalks of bananas still hard green and ripening to softness, bright yellow speckled with black in a haze of fruit flies, cut from the trees behind our house and down into the ravine where I played out of sight. The thick milky slurry of green coconuts, a flashing machete slicing away the green fibrous husks and cracking the hard shell for the oily milky pudding inside. Climbing into the tree at the edge of the jungle to bite into the thick sharp green skin for the sweet tart red pulp inside. The orange morning sun slices that slid off my fingers into my mouth in a warm wet rush to lie tingling and tasty on my tongue. Sun-warmed limes the size of lemons that smelled of honey and bees and tasted of summer even in the winter from the tree at the bottom of the hill that led from our circle to the main base road. Long tubes of fresh buttered popcorn sitting in two inches of fine salt in the cool movie dark. Flame-colored flowers starring the bushes between the houses where we sheltered from the tropical sun, pulling golden threads from their insides and sucking their nectar before stringing them together for tiaras, bracelets, and necklaces to give and to wear. Leaping flames of red, gold and blue against a dusky sky, eating smoky bites of muscled flesh on sticks from the fire near a row of upturned shells where short feeble legs kicked against the glowing horizon just out of reach of the lapping water of a half moon bay. Thick sugared syrup over shavings of ice on a breathless day and the salty sweet-sour bite of dried plums from the dark-shelved store in town. Crashing pounding surf along a dazzling sunlit beach that whispered and beckoned in a shushing caress to follow the sparkling waves to pirate treasure and hidden reefs. Climbing stone blocks to terraces of rusting cannon to look across the closely huddled jungles out to the sparkling water where friends and foes crawled to the forted heights. The long green shadowy silence just below the lip of the hill to the mystery of the jungle where ancient hidden cities waited to be discovered by intrepid children wearing leather sheathed machetes that bumped the length of grubby tanned legs, seeking refuge and adventure and safety. Long barefoot walks where I slipped like a wraith in sun-dappled green and brown and riots of color from close-curving canopies to leaf-littered paths where silver-edged oily lengths slipped whispering along the paths that led to mirrored pools where I swam in clouds of darting, shifting fish, a mermaid of flashing suntanned legs brought back from fantasy with the growing shadows to run crashing back to clipped hedges, sharp green lawns and a world ruled by adults.


Somewhere you've come across the idea that to deny yourself joy is Godly--that not to celebrate life is heavenly. Denial, you have told yourself, is goodness.

Are you saying it is bad?

It is neither good nor bad, it is simply denial. If you feel good after denying yourself, then in your world that is goodness. If you feel bad, then it's badness. Most of the time, you can't decide. You deny yourself this or that because you tell yourself you are supposed to. Then you say that was a good thing to do--but wonder why you don't feel good.

And so the first thing to do is to stop making these judgments against yourself. Learn what is the soul's desire, and go with that. Go with the soul.

---Conversations with God

A touch of spice...

...makes everything nice.

I'm no sugar and spice kind of gal, but I do have another piece of good news today. Algebra You Can Use in Life's Spices From Seasoned Sistahs, an anthology of stories from mature women of color was in my mailbox today, along with a check for my story. It has been a very good day.

If you doubt whether I can pass the mature women of color test, look no further. I am of course Cornish, but I am also Cherokee and African, and that makes me a seasoned sistah despite my winter pale skin. Check me out again when the sun is out and I've had time to walk in it and you will find me a very different and very seasoned sistah.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Old friends

After talking to Big Red so much and since he's from Cincinnati and reminded me of an old friend, I decided to look him up last night. I found him. He's still at the same house. He's not doing the same old things though.

We talk for about an hour and he told me he's gone back to college, finished up his BA, and is on the track to finish his Master's in history of all things. He went to Paris last year with his fellow students and was accosted 4x by a Bosnian refugee who was so busy cadging change from Americans that she didn't recognize him. That in itself is funny. Jerry is well over six feet tall and is a very big guy. Hard to miss and hard to forget. She hit him up when he got off the plane at Orly, in front of the Eiffel tower, in front of the Arc de Triomphe, and again in front of his hotel when he finally said in reply to her, "Monsieur, do you speak English?" -- NYET! The group called her his little Bosnian girlfriend. Can't take him anywhere without the girls crowding around him like he was Paul McCartney or Bono.

Anyway, we got caught up -- sort of -- and he talked in a low voice, which told me his wife Jan was nearby and still does not like me. It's not that she is immune to my sparkling personality, but that Jerry and I hit it off the first time we met, as if we'd always known each other, and considering she got Jerry from her best friend (who I assume is no longer her best friend) who was married to him at the time, she still sees me as a rival. I'm sure it didn't help her like me any better when she found out I was the artist responsible for putting her head on Raquel Welch's semi-clad body either. Suffice it to say I think Jerry could do better and she just wants me to fall off the edge of the earth so I can't take him away from her, not that I'd do something like that. I enjoy Jerry's friendship and I adore him as a person, but I do not want a target painted on my back or forehead and have to look over my shoulder for the rest of my life.

It's good to renew old friendships. I'm glad Big Red reminded me about Jerry.

That is all for now. Disperse.


When I received a supplemental issue of Gila Queen's Guide to the Markets this morning with the message about Writer Beware I called the listed name to be sure it would be all right to post the warning and the info on my journal. At first it didn't dawn on me that the person I called was someone with whom I had someone in common: Andre Norton. What ensued was pure serendipity.

Ann Crispin, who writes as A. C. Crispin and co-wrote two books in Andre Norton's Witch World series, was the woman I talked to this morning. She was one of the people a certain poisoned Rose kept from Andre to keep the knowledge of what she was doing secret. I had heard much of Ann, but found her to be charming and intelligent when we spoke this morning. When I explained who I was and told her what I wanted to do, she responded by inviting me to join the Science Fiction Writers of America in order to facilitate my search for writers who had been touched and mentored by Andre Norton. It looks like I have the credits to be an affiliate member and Ann encouraged me to join.

In the course of our conversation it became apparent that I would be able to help Ann out by clearing up a misunderstanding between her and SF/F writer Anne McCaffrey, who is also a long time friend. Serendipity indeed.

Out of all this, I will get to meet and interview and write about some of the most famous writers in science fiction and fantasy and be able to spend time sharing memories of Andre with long time friends. It's not quite the same as writing a profile or doing an interview with them for a publication and we will all be sharing what we know about a truly wonderful writer. It may not seem like much to some people, but it's a lot to me. And it is indeed...


Writer Beware

Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware. But that also extends to writers. If you haven't heard about this yet, it's time you did.


Atlanta Nights, by "Travis Tea," was offered a publishing contract by PublishAmerica of Frederick MD

What in the world could induce thirty professional authors to spend hours writing the WORST prose they could produce? They did it to prove a point—that a Maryland-based company called PublishAmerica is lying when they claim to be "selective" and reject "70-80%" of the manuscripts submitted to them.

Over a holiday weekend last year, some thirty-odd science fiction writers banged out a chapter or two apiece of Atlanta Nights, an original "novel" about hot times in Atlanta high society. Their objective: to write the most awful tripe they could and submit it to PublishAmerica, a self-described "traditional publisher" located in Frederick MD. PublishAmerica claims they aren’t a vanity press, but these authors proved their point when the print-on-demand (POD) publisher accepted the book and sent a publishing contract. Vanity presses don’t read what’s submitted to them before accepting it—real, traditional publishers do.

The project began after PublishAmerica posted an attack on science fiction authors at one of its Web sites ( PublishAmerica claimed, "As a rule of thumb, the quality bar for sci-fi and fantasy is a lot lower than for all other fiction ... [Science fiction authors] have no clue about what it is to write real-life stories and how to find them a home." It described them as "writers who erroneously believe that SciFi, because it is set in a distant future, does not require believable storylines, or that Fantasy, because it is set in conditions that have never existed, does not need believable every-day characters."

The writers wanted to see where PublishAmerica puts its own "quality bar"—if the publisher really is selective, as the company claims, or if it is a vanity press that will accept almost anything, as Writer Beware, the watchdog committee of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) on writing scams, asserts. (

Atlanta Nights was completed. Any sign of literary competence was removed, even more mistakes and computer-generated nonsense were inserted, and the resulting atrocity was submitted to PublishAmerica.

They accepted the book.

From: PublishAmerica Aquisitions []

Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Subject: Atlanta Nights

As this is an important piece of E-mail regarding your book, please read it completely from start to finish.

I am happy to inform you that PublishAmerica has decided to give Atlanta Nights the chance it deserves ...

Welcome to PublishAmerica, and congratulations on what promises to be an exciting time ahead.


Meg Phillips

Acquisitions Editor


Writer Beware revealed the sting on a public writers message board on January 23, 2005, knowing that PublishAmerica was known to monitor that board.

Within hours, PublishAmerica withdrew their offer.

From: PublishAmerica Acquisitions

Sent: Monday, January 24, 2005

Subject: Your Submission to PublishAmerica

We must withdraw our offer to publish Atlanta Nights. Upon further review it appears that your work is not ready to be published. There are portions of nonsensical text in the manuscript that were caught by our editing staff as they previewed the text for editing time assessment pending your acceptance of our offer.

On the positive side, maybe you want to consider contracting the book with a vanity publisher such as iUniverse or Author House. They will certainly publish your book at a fee.

Thank you.

PublishAmerica Acquisitions Department

So that aspiring authors can see for themselves just what literary "standards" PublishAmerica maintains, the writers decided to make the novel available online at Sting Manuscript

Ironically, several authors and instructors wanted physical copies to illustrate how not to write a novel. SFWA elected to print up copies of the manuscript at a reputable POD publisher,, a company that does not misrepresent its services. All proceeds from the sale of Atlanta Nights by "Travis Tea," will be going to SFWA’s Emergency Medical Fund, a charity which helps authors who have no health insurance. To find Atlanta Nights, go to:

For more information about PublishAmerica and vanity presses, see:

Publisher's Weekly


Washington Post


Science Fiction Writers of America -- Writer Beware

Preditors & Editors

For more information about SFWA or Writer Beware, visit the SFWA Web site: or Writer Beware:, or contact Ann Crispin at or (301)274-9489.