Back off, I’m a professional

I’m a full time writer, which means that I eat a lot of beans and rice, but that’s a subject for Wednesday’s blog. It also gives me the freedom to stumble around in the morning like I’m blind and drunk. That kind of thing is frowned upon in the workplace.

I spend a lot of time doing social networking, which amounts to farting around and talking to my friends online. I also take a lot of breaks, by which I mean I spend a lot of time organizing my thoughts. I ought to be the most organized person in the free world, but my thoughts beg to differ.

Lately I’ve been gearing up for publishing my first book. That involves stuff like cleaning my desk, buying a cute little baby rolodex, and dieting. That’s what professionals do. Writing? I’m sure I’ll find time for that sooner or later.

Promoting, promoting, promoting. That’s uppermost on my mind lately. How do I get the rest of America, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, … to recognize what a brilliant book they could be buying? OK, what to put in the baby rolodex is also occupying a few brain cells.

Ideally, I’ll find some famous mystery writers to read my book and write glowing reviews. This is what I have so far:

It kept me on the edge of my seat. It had pathos, angst, and excellent laundry tips.

Karla’s mother

Very few spelling errors.

Karla’s best friend

I highly recommend this for people who are bedridden or doing time in prison.

Karla’s sister

Next I need a trailer. A video on you tube is becoming increasingly popular among writers. I’m thinking something like Alfred Hitchock’s The Birds, but with Chihuahuas. I can use the theme from Jaws for the orchestration.

Wow! I should write that in my rolodex before I forget. I’ll file it under U for You Tube. And they say I’m disorganized.

There’s a day for that

One of the things that makes America great is our collective ability to think of excuses for drinking beer and calling out sick from work. There’s always some whackadoodle out there who can come up with a national observance to honor rattlesnakes, marble tournaments, and taxidermists, or taxidermists who stuff rattlesnakes with marbles. Either way.

You have many opportunities for debauchery in June. If you’re feeling kind of cocky, the 19th is sauntering day. If you’ve never sauntered, swaggered, or sashayed, you might want to practice in a mirror first. If done poorly, it just looks like you need a bowel movement. I recommend that you avoid funerals and biker bars on saunter day, unless you want to be the object of scorn or are fond of having your skull dented by pool cues.

The 24th is take your pet to work day. If you have a pet cobra, alligator, or wolverine, your coworkers will not thank you for observing this holiday. For that boss that you don’t like, decorate his office with flank steak before arriving with your grizzly bear. Be sure to bring your dart gun. Your boss may need a tranquilizer when he sees the mess.

If you can’t boil water, mark your calendar for Kitchen Klutzes of America Day on June 13th. When you try your hand at fried chicken, remember that the fire department will not buy your story of creative cooking with Crisco. The emergency room personnel see a lot of fingers no longer attached to their bodies on this day. You may have to wait in line.

Finally, we have a holiday that I can get onboard with. June 18th is International Panic Day, when we invite all our brother and sisters overseas to join us in paranoia and anxiety. For women, this is marked by the beginning of bathing suit season. In the morning, we wake up to view ourselves sideways in the mirror, and realize that we made a fatal error on National Donut Day. While others are worrying about the war on terrorism, we run for the oatmeal, only to find that the cereal aisle is stocked with honey nut pork rinds and sugar frosted cookie dough. This is our special day to worry about carcinogens in our food, and the Northern Snakehead taking over our lakes and streams. Personally, I worry more about stepping in dog poop, or finding that I’ve had a booger hanging out of my nose for the last half hour. But that’s just me.

Be sure to save yourself for workaholics day in July, unless you are planning on calling in sick.

Four days and four nights

I was reminded this weekend of Junior High. I was selected as part of an elite group of students who were invited to try out this new thing called a personal computer. We were whisked off to a neighboring High School’s cafeteria, where we were introduced to a Hewlitt Packard the size of a mini-van.

Under the careful supervision of the Florida voting commission, we punched chads out of a stack of cards large enough to denude several acres of rain forest. The object was to create a loop program that would continually add two to the previous number in a sequence until such time as they either pulled the plug, or came out with the Commodore PC. This program was not designed for any useful purpose other than training for future Florida elections.

This weekend, while the good people of Adobe tech support were enjoying three days of unbridled debauchery (playing Dungeons and Dragons in their mom’s basement), I was struggling to install the latest and greatest version of Adobe Acrobat. Unfortunately, it didn’t want to talk to the earliest and barely adequate version of Word.

The saga continues.

With computers, the more I learn, the less I know. There’s always at least one mystery cable under my desk. Sometimes it’s not even hooked up to anything, but I’m afraid that if I move it, my computer will spontaneously combust.

As a writer, I jealously guard my laptop from damage, theft, or space invaders (Atari – too long ago to remember). I don’t feel any need to understand how it works. As long as the little blue light comes on when I push the button, I can sleep well at night (or at my desk, as the case may be.)

News flash: since starting to write this, my authorization code for a lower version of Acrobat came through! I can finally leave my computer to take a shower, change my underwear, and go to the bathroom. Film at 11:00.

Memorial Day mystery mammal

My daughter’s dog has “issues”. If you don’t get him around people, bikes, dogs, children, … he’s a great dog. She got him at a shelter, so she drove him off the lot as-is. She’s not fussy about the strays she takes in. So when she found Peanut, lying half-dead on the sidewalk, it was on.


The problem is, he doesn’t fit the mold for any rodent at this developmental stage. When she found him only a week ago, his toes were fused together, his eyes were still closed, and his ears were pinned back to his head. After one week of being nursed back to health, he has doubled in weight, and developed rapidly.

So why am I writing about my new grandchild on Memorial Day? Because he’s darn cute. I told him we need to honor our troops, and he peed on me. Apparently he has issues too. I didn’t expect him to be an anti-war mouse-rat-squirrel-weasel.

In a blinding change of subject, I’m going to go out on a limb here. I wasn’t keen on the invasion of Iraq, in search of WMDs, but I fully support the war on terrorism. Those assholes want to bring their fight to American soil—don’t be surprised when we fight back. I deeply appreciate the men and women who put their lives on the line each day for our country, and I can’t describe the respect I have for those who have given their lives in the service of the Nation.

During Desert Storm, we lived on a Naval base in Spain that served as a major staging area for troops going to Kuwait. As such, we were a target. We had armed guards patrolling the school playground, which abutted the perimeter fence. That really brings it home.

I lived through Vietnam, when our troops came home to ridicule and scorn. I don’t want to ever see that again. I hope you’ll join me today in honoring the men and women in our Armed Forces. At a time when Hollywood is throwing every superhero in the books at us, our troops are true heroes.

Mind your own business, honey

Unless we’re talking millennia, I’ve been around for awhile. I know how to do stuff, so it seriously annoys me when people get up in my business. My husband was so cute when we were first married. “Are you sure you want to paint the baseboards first?” he would lovingly ask. “Piss off!” I would lovingly answer.

So why do I get so prickly about taking direction from my husband? Let’s see, are you telling me how to split an atom, or how to boil water? Are you grading me on my performance? Do you really want to fly solo in the bedroom for the next month?

There is one area where he’s eager to let me take the lead—pest control. In particular, he’s afraid of toads. If one of the little critters gets on the back porch, my sweetie is sure that the toad is baring his fangs and marshalling his buddies for a sneak attack.

I have a problem when he asks, “Are you tired? Would you like me to take over?” after the first five minutes of me driving on a road trip. I only scraped the paint a little while shooting the gap between a semi and a guard rail in a blinding rain (true story). That could happen to anybody.

Oddly, I have no problem taking constructive criticism about my writing. It’s not like anyone has said, “Get a real job, loser.” I’m grateful when people take the time to tell me where I can improve. If I get bad reviews, I may cry a little, maybe kick some puppies, but I’ll probably get over it.

When you put yourself out there, you’ll probably run into people who will not like your work. Nothing keeps you humble like receiving the charred ashes of your book in a Mason jar. Not that I’ve done that myself or anything. I don’t own a Mason jar.

As long as you’re not my husband, please feel free to offer constructive criticism. If you absolutely feel the need to be mean about, just be sure to hide your puppies.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

How many times have you looked at a book and the cover has left you cold? Are you more likely to read it, or use it as a doorstop? While big publishing companies have the final say in cover art, Indie authors (those who self publish) have the daunting task of finding just the right cover art themselves. Here are a few guidelines for choosing your cover.

Unless your kid is the Gerber baby, don’t use his picture. Nobody wants to see him dressed as a tomato for the school play.

If you want to use a picture of a sunset, I have 6,402 of them that my grandfather forced us to watch every time he gave a slide show. Don’t put your reader through the same torture.

People will have a hard time believing that your head belongs on Cindy Crawford’s body. Photoshop wisely.

Well-built shirtless men should not go on picture books.

Colors should not match body excretions of any kind.

Gold embossed lettering looks great on Bibles – not so much for erotica.

I’d like to give a shameless plug here for a great cover artist, who charges very reasonable prices. Collin Beishir, of Beishir Graphics had been doing cover art as a favor for family and friends. He recently opened his own business, so if you’re looking for a cover, check out his website. You can contact Collin at

My advice to writers is, pay special attention to your cover art. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and you don’t want people using your book as a doorstop.

Seismic snoozer

The opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my own. Take them for what they’re worth.

I was hoping to be sipping mimosas with the Almighty about now, but apparently, He didn’t want to take my sorry ass to heaven just yet. Bummer! As far as I can tell from CNN, nobody got raptured yesterday. We also had no earthquakes, no frogs raining from the sky, and no mass of rejection letters from agents. OK, that last one applies only to me, but it would feel kind of cataclysmic.

My cat hocked on the carpet, my dog ate two miniature American flags that we got at the race, and I walked into a spider web this morning. Since my husband’s not up yet, he hasn’t had a chance to add to the general madness.

I’ve read the complete Left Behind series, by Tim LaHaye. It describes the great tribulation and the rise of the Antichrist after the rapture. I’m what I’d call a marginal Christian—just Christian enough to get by. In short, I’m not sure if I would make the cut for the rapture.

In college I had every intention of becoming a nun. I took pre-nursing and French classes so I could work at a hospital in Haiti. Unfortunately, I also took a belly dancing class, and drank rather heavily. Since I couldn’t find any orders of belly dancing, bar-hopping nuns, I sucked at French, and I got turned down for nursing school, I scrapped the nun idea. I figured it was a sign from God.

I don’t know what brand of spirituality “works,” mainly because I refuse to put God in a box. I’m not going to tell him his business, or limit him by my imagination and my rules. Jesus said, we don’t know at what hour the Master will return, so be ready. To me, that means that crackpots who predict that the world will end on May 21, at 6:00 pm EST, can’t be taken seriously.

If we start getting widespread earthquakes, I may have to rethink my options.

Check the expiration date

My couch smells like floral pickled urine with a side of mouthwash. It’s not really conducive to inviting company over for drinks. We’ve tried every cleaner known to man, we’ve had the windows open for days, and you still get dizzy just walking in the door. Bad kitty! That’s why we can’t have nice things.

Actually, my couch passed “nice” a couple years ago. It was closely followed by my comforter, my stove, and my big screen TV. My jeep just hit 50,000 miles. I’m expecting to wake up one morning to find it looking wistfully through repair shops in the yellow pages. Older cars like to get regularly pampered at the dealership day spa.

It kind of took me by surprise that my house, my appliances, and furniture are no longer new. I miss the new house smell, but I can live with that. More ominous is the fact that my term life insurance policy ran out last year. It can’t be good when your personal warranty expires.

All the signs were there. The shoebox full of pills, the post-menopausal panty liners from Depends, and a shiny new handlebar in the tub. My insurance agent assured me that for pennies a day, I could switch to their whole life policy. I had visions of Alex Trebec telling me that my loved ones would be able to afford a funeral that didn’t involve an old pickup truck, a cliff, and a gallon of lighter fluid.

I hate buying an appliance and the store wants to sell me their special warranty plan. Just build it right in the first place and I won’t need your stinkin’ peace of mind. Nevertheless, I decided to go with the new policy. It can’t be canceled and the rates won’t go up. Now if they would throw in a repair or replacement provision, I’d be golden.

I may not be shiny and new anymore, but I figure I’m more like a favorite pair of jeans – well worn and comfortable. I won’t worry about being put out on the curb until I start to smell like my couch.