Saturday, October 21, 2006

Working weekend

I just finished two reviews for Author Link and am editing my article for Byline magazine and that takes care of the rest of my writing obligations this week. If all goes well, by the end of next week I should have two sizable checks in hand and that ain't bad, especially with the way things have been going with work--or rather the lack of work. Doctors are lazy and don't keep up with their dictations until the hospital threatens their income. Once I fill my writing obligations I will take a shower, throw in a load of clothes and strap myself to my desk chair and type dictations all weekend long, only occasionally coming up for air, water, food and trips up and down the stairs doing laundry. Good thing I went to the store earlier this week. Bad thing is that I forgot to get comfort food--popcorn to pop. I don't know why but making popcorn on the stove and eating it fresh and hot with the fruity taste of good olive oil makes just about anything bearable--even transcribing medical dictations. I'll have to forego the Godiva chocolate raspberry truffle lest I lapse into a pleasure coma and am unable (and unwilling because of the endorphin rush) to get back into harness.

Next weekend will be similarly filled with writing since I have a book to finish, galleys to edit and a newsletter to put together so it's ready to send to the printer Sunday night. I would rather crawl into bed with Stephen King or 50 great short stories but I need to work and fill the pipe line so I can keep the money coming.

Since I was unable to get through to my parents on Thursday night I called again yesterday. Dad was at work and Mom was heaving up her intestines. I cannot stand the sight or sound of vomiting without going into dry heaves that threaten to bring up my intestines. I told Mom I'd talk to her later. I did find out (between retching bouts) that Dad's surgery is scheduled for November 1st. I don't know how he is doing, other than working, but that's pretty much a given since Mom didn't shoot him in the leg or hide his keys good enough. Parents! Can't live near them or shoot them from this distance.

The weather this week couldn't make up its mind, one day snowy and cold and the next Indian summer warm. The leaves are almost all down on the ground and the mountain is clearly visible without its leafy frame. a few bushes and trees are still green and hanging onto their leaves but they are gold and brown at the edges and the wind is yanking hard at them. They won't long decorate the snoozing branches and twigs as the trees go dormant for the winter. I'm not certain I want to venture out to be buffeted by the wild winds. It's warmer and less breezy inside so work doesn't seem like such a bad idea. I do need to fit a little tidying up in somewhere, probably when I'm so antsy I can't sit in my seat and listen to another mumbling or foreign doctor fumble his way through an operation at light speed.

I got fed up with clicking the program every 10 seconds to find out there was no work available so I came into the living room and watched Saw. At first I thought it was Saw II because of the flashbacks but after talking with Beanie I found out it was the first one. What an intricate and fascinating movie. In some ways it was very much like The Cube but it was so much more. I thought it was going to be the usual bloody slasher fare but I was wrong. I'm going to have to watch it again because I wasn't paying close attention to everything and I missed a few bits here and there. Like Seven in some ways with the serial killer's unique methods of justice, Saw was much more unique. The movie is definitely a keeper. Beanie told me Ants has both movies on DVD and he didn't know that Saw III came out yesterday. He was at the Circleville Pumpkin Show when I talked to Beanie but I'm sure he and his girlfriend will catch the movie tonight or maybe the matinée today. I definitely would rather see it here in the comfort of my well lighted home or at a matinée so it won't be dark when I leave the theater. The movie is at once frightening and fascinating and not at all derivative.

Well, the microwave beeped to tell me my lunch is ready to eat and I hate cold mushroom chicken, so for now...

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, October 20, 2006

All in the outcome?

I talked with a friend yesterday who is incredibly knowledgeable about astrology and all things divinatory. He amazes me with his insight and clarity of thought. He said that the road ahead is rocky but the outcome will be positive. "You're an outcome person," he said. "It's all in the outcome." I'm still figuring out if that is good or bad or if it really matters. Aren't we all outcome people? Don't we all want to know how things will ultimately be?

Some people can't focus on the story until they read the last page and see how it comes out. That's not always a good thing. With books it's the story and the journey not just the ending that makes a difference. The story should be so good it makes you forget everything except the words and where they take you. If you're looking for the ending before you've barely begun then either the story isn't that good or you're afraid you won't live to see the end or you can't settle into the story without knowing how it all ends.

There have been times I was tempted to look at the last couple pages to see how the story ended. The story didn't engage me but when I review a book I read the whole thing whether or not I'm interested. It's my job and integrity won't allow me to cheat. I find it difficult to write the review. I can't just come out and say it was a lousy book, although I have been tempted once or twice. Instead I need to analyze what didn't work and why I couldn't stick with the story. Most of the time I keep a tablet handy so I can jot down things that bug me about a story or places where the writing was especially good. Sometimes the story is so good and the characters so engaging I don't write down anything. Everything is there in my mind like a bright light in the darkness. Those are the books I relish, the ones I cannot stand to put down and sleep or work or attend to the demanding functions of nature. Writing is like that sometimes...

...and sometimes writing is a chore that I avoid with chores and movies and picking up the living room or cleaning the toilet or brushing my hair. Still, I can't get away from the writing because I carry it in my head, sleeping, waking, working. The words pop in there and write themselves. I do a lot of sleep writing when I'm avoiding really writing. The past few nights have been like that, writing articles and reviews and working on books in my sleep, even to the point of editing and rewriting. I have gotten used to the process and I know when it happens that I need to sit down and write something other than a journal post, that I need to put my nose to the grindstone and chip away at the work. I know the outcome but I can't just write the last page like O. Henry. Some editor is bound to want to read the blank pages between the beginning and the ending. At least my brain is working on the blank pages while I focus on everything but the outcome.

No, I don't think I'm an outcome person any more than anyone else. We all want to know there is an ending to pain, to grief and even to the same old passage of days and hours we fill with nonsense and everything but what we truly want. We want to know the story turns out all right and we get to the end of the journey but we still have to travel the blank space in between. It helps to know we will get to the end of the road in one piece but what do we gain by knowing that when it was the plan all along?

I know my parents are going to die and probably sooner than I want. I would rather enjoy what time is left to us than focus on the outcome. On the other hand, focusing on publication and the checks that will come is a worthy goal but it's not the reason I write. I write because that is a part of who I am and for the first time in my life I have no doubts about my abilities. I do have a whole lot of anxiety in finding the time to do what I want to do and what I know I will always do. There is still some part of me that hates seeing crumbs on the floor or dishes in the sink or laundry piling up in the basket but the alternative is taking the time to do the chores from the time I have to write. Each outcome is different and I know both have to be done. I don't think giving up sleep is a good idea. I had a hard enough time with that earlier this week when I couldn't sleep because of fever and being unable to breathe. In that state I couldn't do the chores or write since my mind was fogged and the only thing I could think about was the sleep that wouldn't come as I tossed and turned while my body fought off the bugs my sisters left me.

There are times when each day is like an alien landscape that is almost recognizable, a blank canvas of Colorado blue where the occasional mare's tale swishes beneath a fading con trail and where golden aspens are tucked in between the green and brown.

I am lucky in so many ways. I have more now than I have had in years and I live in a comfortable home, cluttered though it gets from time to time when I'm working (all the time). I see mountains outside my windows and the ever changing panorama of the seasons. I live in the beautiful shadow of grandeur and I have more than enough to make the journey interesting and fruitful. In between now and the outcome of my journey there will be time to sleep but I won't court dreams. I live them every day.

I am interested in the outcome but I wouldn't miss a single step of this journey. Would you?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Movie days

I was up early this morning writing, editing and submitting an essay for a contest in Elle magazine. I thought it was interesting. The prize is a Cole Haan large convertible tote that is very expensive but for me it's the thrill of writing something to be published. I'll probably sell the tote or see if they will swap the tote for cash. I would never spend $425 for a purse. The one I'm carrying now was a free gift with books. That's more my style.

Anyway, I was thinking back three years when I had just moved into the cabin. Some friends from Arvada asked to come up and film some of their movie on the property and I said yes without hesitation. It was a group of scenes centered around a dream sequence that included a crucifixion. They even brought their own cross. Many, many centuries ago (or so it sometimes seems) I designed costumes for the Columbus Light Opera, Columbus Metropolitan Opera and several local theater groups. In that former life I spent a lot of time designing and sewing costumes, as well as bridal and prom gowns, among other things, for a select group of clients. The costumer on my friend's movie couldn't seem to figure out how to make robes that actually looked like something people would have worn in the first century B.C.E. so I offered to help. I also created a quick costume that looked like Jesus's garments when he was nailed to the cross for the girl in the dream sequence and touched up some of the actors' makeup. I made some new friends that day, people that still call, email and visit from time to time now that I'm closer to Denver. When my friend and his troupe of actors finished they left me with a 10-12-foot cross that sparked quite a few conversations, especially from my parents who visited shortly thereafter. Dad even helped me chop it up for the fire.

As I look back on my life and visit some of those times it seems as though I've lived many different lives. I've had two full careers, one of which I still practice, in addition to the writing I began professionally after decades of silence. I have met interesting people and been involved with and part of some historical events. I have known the famous and the infamous, worked with and trained athletes, done more than a few stints in the political arena and brushed shoulders with actors in a few movies, seemingly always on the fringes where I could see and not be seen. I have engraved invitations to presidential inaugural balls and boxes of carefully preserved letters from people whose names are household words in many households, letters I treasure because their authors are now gone. Some of those letters contain priceless advice and all of the letters are glittering jewels of wisdom and pearls of shared memories and lives.

I once said that when I lie on my death bed I want to look back and remember all the things I've done and seen and not regret what I have missed. I have lived a continuous adventure, although the adventures are somewhat quieter at the moment. With my parents' illnesses so much in my thoughts, I wonder what they see as they look backward down the halls of their lives. Do they wish they had done things differently or regret not taking a few chances here and there? Do they see a full and satisfying life? Are they happy with what they have achieved? I don't know. Their lives are not mine. They traveled a much different path, a path I consider safe, but somehow, despite all the trouble and turmoil that has crept in here and there, I believe they are satisfied with their journey.

Not everyone is born to be an adventurer. The world needs people to dig the ditches as much as it needs people to design the pipes or whatever that goes into the ditches. Everyone, no matter what their jobs or beliefs, is part of the vast and intricate machinery of life. No one's value is less than anyone else's. Without each and every cog and tooth and drop of oil watched carefully by maintenance that makes the machine the designer imagined, the machinist to mill and tool, and the builder put together nothing works. Everyone is important.

My friend wrote the screenplay and his partner filmed the scenes the actors carefully learned while the costumer and makeup artist prepared them for the camera. Their job began with a concept and grew into words on a page and in the actors' mouths and finally on the film. Their job finished with the audience who watched and absorbed their vision, growing with each person's reaction. However, nothing was possible without the people who grew and picked the cotton and linen, created the materials that became their equipment and clothes and transportation, color, paper, ink, design, and film. From the smallest raw materials and elements to the finished product everything in that complex and symbiotic machine of creation is important. The loss or lack of one single element stalls the machinery of creation.

We are all interdependent even though we don't see how we all fit together. Worn out parts are replaced, sometimes with newer parts, but always with something that keeps the machinery of life and creation running. We forget that sometimes. We shouldn't.

No, my life is not my parents' lives and their lives are not mine, but without sharing some part of our lives we don't exist. I exist because two other people gave me the gift of life. I live because my parents, whatever their faults and mistakes, shared their lives and their home with me. I have traveled a long way from them and from their home, but even when they are gone a part of them lives on in me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yes, I remember her

I was watching The Exorcism of Emily Rose again and thought I recognized the actor who played Emily Rose. I did. She is Dexter's sister, Debra. Looks like she has found a niche in mainstream horror. She's quite the versatile actor.

Lots of memories are bobbing up to the surface with everything that has happened in the past few days so I decided to check back a year or so and found what I had suspected--revision of history. Comments have been deleted as well as my membership in . Considering who made the comments, not to mention the content of said comments, and who created the LJ community for writers, I am not surprised. Par for the course. Funny thing is that with everything going on with my parents things like this assume their natural level--lining the garbage can.

That is all. Disperse.

Storm aftermath

Calm and silent and white though it is outside, there is no calm here inside.

It snowed yesterday, heavy wet flakes that plumped down over everything. It snowed for hours, weighing down branches sparsely covered with yellow and brown leaves. Naked limbs sag with the weight barely able to move in the winds howling past the windows. Inside it's warm, too warm, and dry, sucking the moisture from everything. I have to leave my shoes off so I don't shock myself or short out the laptop or computer. Warm oatmeal flavored with organic raw maple syrup lays like a plug in my stomach, slowly, ever so slowly making its way down. Even the cars rushing by on the slick streets are hushed in the cold snow-heavy air. The mountains are layered with it. Everything is covered and silent, heavy and slowed. For the first time in weeks I slept for a solid seven hours, waking with the heaviness, my mind numbed.

I talked to Beanie and my mother yesterday during the storm. My father has given up. He was ill but went to work anyway. He got off work a little early because he was vomiting and ill. He sat in the car in Wal-Mart's parking lot in the rain and cold for over an hour until he felt well enough to drive. When he got home he couldn't get out of the car. Mom, already frail and dry as a leaf at the tail end of autumn, had to help him out of the car. She swears he is not going to work today. I told her to hide all the keys. "He'll walk if he has to," she said.

"Get out the rifle and shoot him in the leg if you have to," I said.

Beanie had already told me what happened. "He's given up," Beanie told me her voice at once angry and anguished. I told Mom. She agreed.

"We have a deal," I told Mom. "He can't leave unless he takes you with him." I said the words with my usual mischievous tone but I didn't feel them. "If he's given up and he's going, you'd better give him the rifle to take you out first."

The doctor has no time to take my father's testicles. He won't be able to remove them for two weeks. The cancer that has progressed to my father's spine and pelvis is slow moving. That's what they say. I keep remembering what George told me a few months ago. "I wish I hadn't let them talk me into the radiation. It made the cancer worse." He had the same primary cancer my father had seven years ago: prostate cancer. George was dead a year after his prostate cancer moved in his lower spine and pelvis. I could call George's wife or his best friend Doc and find out if they removed George's testicles and how long afterward he died but I don't want to upset them to find out something I already know. My father has given up. The weight of news and cancer are too heavy for him to bear.

Cold winds barely moved the branches and leaves weighed down with heavy, moisture laden snow. I see them twisting and shifting under the weight but in spite of the owling wind they do little more than fight a useless fight against the smothering white. Shot cracks echo through the cold, silent morning as branches and twigs bow and crack beneath their covering. Dried out yellow and brown leaves droop and thump to the ground piled high with frozen clots of white unable to stay up and attached to the drowsing tree. There are no more cars. Even the birds have fled. The streets are isolated and silent as death.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Think you know me?

I have a chakra cleansing and balancing box I bought at the metaphysical fair a year ago September. I had loaned it to Nel because she needed it for help with her headaches and none of the tests she had undergone (MRI, CT scan, etc.) had shown any physical problem causing her pain. The box helped. Nel gave the box back to me the day before my mother and sisters came over to have me fix the salmon patties Mom had been talking about for weeks. I had showed it to Beanie earlier and explained how it worked. Beanie couldn't get the pendulum to move so I checked the state of her chakras and then did the balancing and cleansing while she inhaled the special oils made for each of the seven major chakras.

When Mom and Carol came over the next day the box was still out on the coffee table. Mom wanted to know what it was and Beanie opened it up and showed her, explaining what she remembered and asking me to fill in the blanks. I was a little apprehensive because Mom is such a hard line Freewill Baptist and the whole idea of chakras, etc., is pagan. Mom couldn't make the pendulum move either, so I showed her how it worked. She was fascinated. I was surprised, more surprised than when she commented on how much she liked my pentacle necklace with the amethyst in the center, a necklace I don't take off. I thought I knew her, but I realized that you cannot ever really know anyone completely.

People change. Ideas about religion and politics and even life change as we experience more, learn more, are exposed to more. Narrow views get narrower out of fear of losing touch with the realities that keep people anchored to a world they know, one that makes sense, and sometimes narrow views are widened and allowed to change and grow as we change and grow. By being open about my beliefs and my life, despite some reticence on my part to tread softly on dangerous ground, my mother has opened her mind just a little bit.

There was a time when I was afraid to acknowledge my beliefs or my lifestyle because of the punishment and censure that would certainly follow. I gave that up a while ago. Like Peter who denied Christ three times before the cock crowed (yes, I know about stuff like that) I denied my beliefs, beliefs that are a big part of who I am and what I believe. My denial wasn't verbal but silent. I wouldn't say anything that would give me away to my family or people who might judge me and call down the wrath of heaven, denial by omission. I talked about my faith with like-minded people and those who recognized me but not with people in my life who mattered to me, and the people who mattered to me didn't know me. I didn't allow them to know me. I hid behind silence. I don't hide anything about myself any more. I want people to know who I am and to have no illusions, and I have found that the people who matter to me still accept me despite my differences.

It is doubtful anyone will ever truly know me inside and out or that I will know anyone else that way. At least people will get pretty close to knowing me well because I no longer hide behind silence or in groups of like-minded people. I am an open book to anyone who takes the time to read.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cockroaches and light

A few days ago I posted the review an author questioned and a link to the LJ post she made about the review (although very little about the review) with a laundry list of garbage she needed to air out. The next day the post was locked and made friends only so her admittedly public post that she refused to lock down in her own LJ could be read by me. She hoped that someone would send me the link or a piece of the post (which someone did) so that I could read what she thought about me. I was not surprised by her action before or after I responded simply by allowing her words to stand next to the review. I did take the precaution of copying the entire post and saving it so that it would still be available when she found out people were reading her public post and comparing it to the review that she failed to link or quote, either of which would have been fine with me. I have a copyright on my reviews, as does Author Link for whom I also do book reviews, but I am not ashamed of my words or my reviews and have been proud to have authors quote me in press releases, on their web sites and even on jacket copy. I am not afraid of the truth or the light.

Earlier today I received an email from the author who commented on the blog where I posted the entire copy of her post with the appropriate citations. She accused me of infringing on her copyright of the material and demanded I take the post down. I commented in return, not even a little surprised that she chose to comment on that particular blog rather than here on LJ where people on her list who also share me as a friend could read what she wrote. It is apparent that unlike me she is not willing to let her words stand the cold harsh light of truth.

I made the post private so it is no longer available to be read publicly and I await an answer from a legal consultant as to what constitutes copyright infringement in this case. However, anyone who has not read the post and still wishes to compare it to the review, which is public and will remain public, I will email a copy of her post in its entirety.

A short while ago this same author, who had sent me emails from time to time commenting on public posts here on LJ, wrote this to me:

"Yes, I still read your journal on LJ because I find it's one of the most honest and erudite around. Just had to say today's post was a memorable one -- and so true!"

The email was long and I will also email a copy of it to anyone who wishes the read the whole text. As it was sent to me, there are no copyright infringement issues.

I do find it interesting that someone who praises my honesty privately will take the time to defame me privately where no one except for her followers can see what is really going on without providing proof of her claims. I let the truth stand side by side because I have nothing to fear from anyone for my actions or my opinions. However, once the light is on she scurries for cover unwilling to stand by what she says, choosing rather to hide behind questions of copyright infringement.

Since we parted company more than a year ago I have not found the need or the desire to venture over to her journal to read what she says, although I heard that immediately after the break she made her journal friends only. After being sent a piece of the now infamous post about my review, I did go look for the rest of the post, and you have seen the results.

I lock very few posts and then only when it will spoil a gift or a surprise for a friend who reads my journal. Instead I prefer to write publicly and stand unashamed in the harsh, cold light of truth.

You have seen her words. She continues to read my LJ every day. This is not something she wants universally known and no doubt was pure flattery for the single minded purpose of gaining a glowing review for her book. Had the breach between us been mended or had I allowed myself to trust her, I would still have written the same review, which is not what the author wants to hear. Since she has failed in her task to woo me to her side and get a glowing review she seeks to hide the truth and her motives.
I have one question for her? If my opinion doesn't matter, why are you "fixated" on my one review?

In case you're wondering, the author is none other than LJ's own otherwise known as nocturnalmuse on DeadJournal aka Bev Walton-Porter.

If you're interested in the original post before she hunts it down and demands it be deleted, check it out.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gifts that keep on giving

Mom was sick the entire time she was here, but she said it wasn't the altitude, despite the fact the same thing happened the last time she was here. Beanie sneezed and snotted the whole time. She thought it was because of Kittysocks next door. I don't have an allergy to cats but the last few days Beanie was here I sneezed and snotted. I seldom get sick. I've been sick all weekend with fever and insomnia and alternating bloody and snotty nose. Between the fever and going to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes (happens when I have a fever) I didn't get any sleep. I dozed from time to time sitting upright because I couldn't breathe otherwise. All in all, a wonderful gift from my family and one I can't return.

I did get some more good news this weekend. The new editor at Byline Magazine bought one of my articles. Two more anthologies have picked up stories I submitted and I got a tentative yes on another anthology. I need to do a little pruning, but otherwise it looks like I have another sale. Not too bad for working in a little writing during the week.

With the way is going I am going to have to pay off on my offer to cover a contest entry fee. I am happy about that. I haven't seen the stories but I know she's working hard and coming up with a lot of writing. That's good enough for me. I have thought about putting together a fund to help writers pay contest entry fees. Writers sometimes need one less excuse to keep writing and submitting.

I enter the odd contest here and there but I mostly submit my work to paying markets. With the raise I got from Author Link last month for reviews I write for them I am slowly but surely increasing my writing income. I still can't believe I've been a staff reviewer for Author Link for over three years now. Times goes by so quickly. So quickly in fact that it's nearly time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month to all you nonwriter types). I plan to finish one book and maybe even get another one at least halfway finished before the end of November. Two more books for me to send out and make the rounds. I did promise one editor that I would give them first look since they're publishing my book on Andre Norton in 2008. I may even see if I can buy back my biobibliography on Charlton Heston from the publisher who originally bought it to see if I can update it and sell it elsewhere. The publisher who bought the book was bought out by another publisher who shelved the series. It wouldn't take much work to do the update. They might not allow me to buy the rights but it's worth a shot.

I foresee a very busy winter if I can just get rid of this sinus problem and get some rest. Lots of work to keep me busy. Photographs to take, cemeteries to visit, books to write and edit and books to read and review. No matter how many times I tell authors how long it will take before I can review their books they tell me they're willing to wait, however long it takes. I have a lot of books to get through already and I certainly don't lack for reading material.

On that note, it's time for me to get back to it.

That is all. Disperse.