It’s been a while since I posted anything because I’m in Florida with my sister this week–something we both would normally enjoy–but right now, Tampa is a very scary place for both of us.  Too many maybe/maybe nots, hurry up and waits, and what ifs as our dad goes through tests to see if his cancer has returned.  Neither one of us wants to be here for that.  We’d much rather be lounging on the beach or just sitting around listening to him tell us stories about his life.

He grew up on a mountain in North Carolina–very close to where I live now–in a house without electricity or indoor plumbing.  He was born during the Depression, grew up during World War II, served in the Navy during Korea then settled down in Tennesse with my mom, and went to work for the local newspaper as a commercial artist.  Oh, and fathered five kids.  He’s an awesome painter who works mostly in oils, but to me his greatest talent lies in story-telling.

His stories of growing up on an isolated mountain are often funny, usually poignant, and most of them include a clue about what made him the man he is today.  There are numerous characters; most relatives, some friends or acquaintances, and some people who showed up for a brief moment in his life then walked out, leaving behind a lasting memory that inspired a story in later years.

Most of the relatives that are featured in his stories are buried in a small graveyard at Stone Mountain Baptist Church–the only building farther up the mountain than the house where my dad grew up.  When I was a child, we spent a lot of time on that mountain and it was a fascinating place filled with extraordinary people.  Today, whenever I go back  and drive that twisting road that leads up to the church, it’s like taking a walk back in time, not only through my childhood, but through the childhood of my dad.  I recognize the names on the tombstones and each name recalls at least one story, usually two or three or even more.

The thing is…as I listened to my dad talk over dinner last night, it hit me that one day he would no longer be there to entertain me with his stories.  I also realized I’ve been very lucky in my life never to have lost anyone in my immediate family.  My grandparents are all gone, as are quite a few of my aunts and uncles and a few cousins, but no one I am really close to.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were a part of my life, always there in my peripheral vision, but they weren’t as important as my parents or my brothers and sisters.

And I have to wonder, how am I going to handle it when I do lose one of the “important people” in my life?  I can’t fathom a world where my dad isn’t there to lift my spirits with a funny story, or my mom isn’t there to take charge and handle all the little mundane things when my MS flares up and I’m unable to handle them myself, or my sister isn’t there to encourage me and spur me on despite my tendency to hide away in a corner and avoid contact with the outside world.  And my husband…well, I won’t even go there.

One or any of them, it’s a devastating thought. 

They’ll live on in my memory, of course, but a light will have gone out in my world.  I don’t want that to happen and have decided one way I can keep my dad’s light burning is to write down the stories he tells and try to compile a book from them.  Since he is an artist, I would love to incorporate some of his work in the book.

If I can do that, maybe, just maybe, the light will flicker, but it won’t go out altogether.        

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I’m about as far as you can get from being a fan of Brittany Spears (don’t even know if I spelled that right), but ever since yesterday morning that song has been running through my mind.  I hate that!  Having a song I actually like lodged in my brain makes me want to scream, but when I get one I don’t like, it makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall until the pain chases it away.

So, where did it come from and why can’t I get rid of it?  You’ve heard of the tip of the iceberg, right?  Well, a post left on the author’s loop at one of my publishers yesterday morning was exactly that.  As the day wore on, the iceberg slowly revealed itself and I am now at the point where I feel there’s no hope of avoiding the impending collision.  It’s time to morph into a rat, head for the lifeboats, and desert this sinking ship.

Hence the song.  You see, I’ve been through this before and when I felt the first minor shockwaves hit again, that damned Brittany Spears song popped into my head and it won’t leave!

The thing is, I’m entirely innocent in this one as I was in the last, so maybe I should change the words from, “Oops, I did it again…” to “Oops, they did it again…”

Who are they?  All the epublishers out there who are making promises to authors that they can not or will not honor.  Speaking from experience, being with a publisher who made promises and was unable to keep them–through no fault of their own–was bad enough.  But when you’re with a publisher who chooses not to answer emails or certified mail, who ignores the concerns of their authors, and who responds only to the posts on the author’s loop that they choose to respond to, then the only thing you can do is conclude said publisher is one of those who will not keep their promises.

Will not is a thousand times worse than can not.

To give the publisher its due, they finally made an appearance last night, but their response to the many concerns voiced by the authors was far from satisfactory.  They played the sympathy card first, the disapproval card next, and finally, turned up what I’ll call the WTF card–you know, the one that comes out of nowhere and blind-sides you, not because you didn’t know they had it, but because you can’t believe they pulled it out of their sleeve and played it.

This particular WTF card:  they suggested we have a loop party on Friday where the authors could post excerpts, hold contests, and in their words, shake things up a bit.

See what I mean?  Where is this coming from and WTF is the thinking behind it?  Why would authors who aren’t getting paid for their work want to pitch in and bail out a sinking ship by putting more of their hard work out there?  Granted, we might delay the inevitable for a while, but there’s no way we can do it by ourselves–we have to have their help!

We were also given a bottom line statement:  “[the publisher] will pull out of this.” 

That’s good, I like bottom lines, but all I have to say in this case is:

Dear [publisher],

I’m sorry, but I disagree, the bottom line here is your company is sinking down to the ocean floor, and that briny taste in your mouth is called dishonesty.  Spit it out and rise to the surface before you choke on it.

Sincerely,

[Author]     

    

Finally figured out how to add images–woo-hoo!  Inserted the cover art for Unwilling Angel on the corresponding page, but I’ll add it here too–just for practice of course!

Unwiling Angel Cover 

Isn’t that fabulous?  The cover artist is C. J. England and I think she did a fantastic job!  Don’t you?

Oh, in case you’re interested, the blurb and an excerpt can be found by clicking on the Unwilling Angel page on this site.  Then, if you think you might want to read it–and I hope you do!–click on Twilight Fantasies in my blogroll and you’ll see me right there on the front page–first place winner in the Zuzu’s Petals contest! 

No post yesterday, because Unwilling Angel was released and I was busy with all the hoopla that goes with having a book released.  I tell you, it’s an aweome thing when you submit a manuscript then hear from a publisher that they would like to offer you a contract, but when it finally hits the cyber-space bookshelf–after weeks, or even months, of edits, countless hours spent working with a cover artist to find just the right cover, and days of pre-promotions, it’s a relief.  You get–or I do–a feeling of whew, at last it’s done!  Now I can move on,

The thing is, what do I do next?

I have plenty of options to choose from–five, count ’em, five works-in-progress, seven completed books which need a home, more promotions for my new release, web site to be updated, etc., etc., etc.–none of which appeal to me at the moment.  You see, after yesterday’s whirlwind, I need a break and I can feel my Procrastination Slut persona coming to the fore.

I’ve written about her before in my LJ blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned her here, so I’ll give you a bit of explanation.  I have this tendency to shut down, especially when I have a lot of things I need to do.  It’s irritating, but there it is.  I’ve learned not to fight it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream of what it would be like if I banished her for good.

Hmmm…I’d have numerous books either out on the market or awaiting release, I’d finish off those WIPs and get them out to publishers in the blink of an eye, I’d compose query letters and synopses with little or no painful frustration, I’d be a computer-savvy wiz at promotions, and I’d know how to upload a picture to this blog–

 –and that’s another thing, why is it when you click on the “insert image” icon on WordPress, you don’t get a “browse” option like you do on almost every other site in the cyber-world?  Instead, you get seven fields which have to be filled out and most days, my brain is way too tired for that.  Maybe while the Procrastination Slut is ruling, I should present this to her as a puzzle to be solved.  She doesn’t like to work, but she has no objection to sitting on her butt and playing around with the computer.  So, maybe if I don’t classify it as work, but dress it up as an…enigma (she likes fancy words), I can fool her into figuring it out, because I know there’s a way to do it, I just haven’t found it yet!

Anyway, the Procrastination Slut is back–hey, do you think that’s what’s wrong with the Red Sox, they’re putting off till tomorrow what should be done today, or more correctly, what should have been done weeks ago?  I’ve been trying not to think about this, but I have to say it, Boston is through for the season, they may as well pack up their equipment and slink off the field with their tails between their legs.  And I do mean slink.  They have no reason to hold their heads up and I have no desire to give them a standing O.  Come to think of it, they’d better keep their heads down, ’cause I’m sure there are a lot of fans in closer proximity than I am, who’d love nothing more than to toss a few balls and bats at them.  A word of advice, boys; keep your batting helmets handy this winter, it may save you from a hospital visit.  Oh, and during the post-season when you’re not playing, in between watching the New York Yankees win the AL and probably go on to win the World Series, maybe you should hit the Patriots up for some shoulder pads and a lesson or two on how to band together when times are tough–you obviously don’t have a clue.  To put it in lingo you’ll understand…you suck wicked bad!

Okay, that helped a little bit.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…the Procrastination Slut reigns supreme in my world and there’s no telling how long she’ll hang around.  So, while she’s reclining on her chaise lounge (her version of a throne), popping bite-size Heath bars in her mouth (her version of chocolate truffles), and being entertained by her sister’s latest romantic thriller (her version of a court jester), I’m going to present her with a conundrum (I think she’ll like that word):  How many cyber-space imbeciles does it take to post an image on WordPress?

Her answer (I’d bet money on this one):  Ask me later, I’m too busy wasting time right now.

For the most part, I write in the romance genre, but I also dabble in young adult and children’s stories.  In all of these, the hero/ine is one of the most, if not the most, important element of the story.  Everybody loves a good hero/ine, right?

Well, not so much anymore.

Jim Croce sang, “…you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger…”  Maybe not in your day Mr. Croce, but today we seem to delight in doing just that–unmasking our hero/ines and shoving their faces into the dirt for a little added entertainment.

Looking back on the hero/ines of my youth, I still see them as people to be looked up to, people worthy of my respect, people who will always hold a special place in my heart and mind.  That’s not to say they didn’t have flaws.  Of course they did, after all, no one’s perfect, but their imperfections are not what I remember when I think about them. 

I have to wonder if it will be the same for today’s kids.  Will they look back on the hero/ines of their youth with a smile or a scowl?  Probably the latter. 

These days, it seems everywhere you look, hero/ines are taking falls worthy of Humpty Dumpty.  Sports figures, movie stars, singers, politicians, astronauts–any and all who dare tread one step into the spotlight can expect to be scrutinized under the media’s microscope then offered up for public humiliation when they’re caught doing something wrong.

Who holds the greatest share of the blame for that?  The media?  The public?  The hero/ines themselves?

Any and all of the above.  We’re all guilty, we all share equally in the blame, but I don’t expect any of us will stand up and do a thing to stop it.  We’re fascinated (though we proclaim disinterest), thrilled (though we declare disgust), and hungry for more (though we voice our distaste loudly and often).

Which doesn’t help today’s kids in any way whatsoever.  Unless, of course, they have aspirations to be a tabloid journalist/photographer when they grow up.  

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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