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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 spent a great deal of time this past weekend on MySpace, updating my seriously outdated page.  Through sheer determination and a lot of uh-ohs,  I learned a bunch of things–how to change my background, how to add a fancy cursor, how to upload–download?–images and post them on my homepage–but the thing that stuck with me the most after all my time on there is how popular surveys seem to be on MySpace.

I don’t get that.  I mean sure, I read them, but I never fill them out  Besides, if I was going to take the time to fill out a survey, I’d probably choose one of those that promises something in return.  You know, like those that pop up on the Internet at times, offering free laptops or a gift certificate to some restaurant or even money if you’ll just take a small survey–yeah, right!

So, I’m a survey voyeur.  I read them, even think about how I would answer some of the questions, but you won’t ever see me filling one out.  It’s not that I don’t have the time…well, maybe that is the reason.  You see, I know how my brain works, and one suvey might take me hours to fill out.  I’d agonize over every question and once I posted it, the chances are very good that I’d read back over what I wrote, cringe at some of the answers and think what a boring person I really am.

I don’t need a survey to point that out to me.  I know I’m boring and I’m actually okay with that.  I’m a homebody, one who’s uncomfortable being in the spotlight–unless it’s in front of a bunch of elementary students, that never bothered me at all–and one who could very easily become a hermit.  Yes, that’s right, if I had my druthers, as my grandpa used to say, I’d cut myself off from the rest of the world without blinking an eye.

The thing is…if you’re an author, you just can’t do that.  You have to put yourself out there, you have to promote yourself and your books, and you have to be a participating member of society, even if it is just in cyberspace.

And thank God for cyberspace.  I don’t mind promoting myself or my books on the Internet, but I have a feeling next year when the two print anthologies which will include a story from me are released, I’m going to be wishing I’d stuck with ebooks.  I know I’m already dreading it, but I’m going to have to suck it up and do what needs to be done…

…I’m going to have to put on something besides jeans and a sweatshirt, go out in public and talk to real, live people–and I’m going to have to be nice to them.

Oh, horror of horrors!

I’m not sure why that title popped into my head this morning, but it did so I’m going to go with it–and hopefully continue with it in the Fridays to come.  I’m feeling…um, melancholy this morning.  Or maybe a better way to put it would be pensive, because I’m not feeling sad, which is the first definition listed for melancholy in the dictionary.  The second is pensive, contemplative.  That describes my feelings better.

Also, I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers are following certain themes for their blogs as a way of coming up with ideas about what to write on certain days, i.e. Thursday Thirteen.  The themes don’t appeal to me, but I like the alliterativeness of the titles–hence Friday Folly.

From Websters Dictionary; folly–1) a lack of good sense, understanding or foresight, 2) an act or instance of foolishness.

Like most people, I’ve had a few of those in my life and they fall under several categories; a) some which I regret, b) some which I learned from, c) some which, though stupid at the time, turned out all right in the end,  and d) some which I can now look back on and say, “What the heck was I thinking?”  My Friday Folly for today is one which falls under a) right now, but I hope will some day be included under c).

Back when I was a kid, I was on a softball team that sucked–and I mean, it really sucked.  We were the youngest team in the league and we didn’t win a single game that year…think “Bad News Bears” without the happy ending.  One fateful night, our game was rained out.  I wasn’t in the mood to read, so I turned on the TV and as I flipped through the channels, I happened to catch a baseball game.  I was a highly competitve kid and I played softball, so watching a baseball game seemed like a good idea at the time.  I don’t remember who the opposing team was, but I do remember the winning team was the Boston Red Sox.  And by the time the game was over, I was mesmerized.

The reason for my fascination?  Tony Conigliaro, a hot-shot rookie, who before he was beaned in the eye several years later, showed promises of becoming one of those outstanding players who go down in the sports annals as one of the greatest who ever played the game.

As the kids today say, I was crushing on Tony C, and he returned the favor by infecting me with an incurable disease, a passion for the Red Sox.  If you’re a Sox fan, you know what I’m talking about.  If you’re not, all you have to do is watch the movie “Fever Pitch,” it’ll give you a pretty good idea of what it means to be a Red Sox fan.  So, since the disease is incurable, I still root for them, and there are times when I curse the name of Tony Congliaro and times when I think he was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Unfortunately, right now, I’m cursing his name.  The Sox have given up a 14 1/2 game lead in the AL East, which is bad enough in itself, but what’s worse is they’ve given it up to the Yankees.  I know, I know, you’ve heard it all before, maybe even caught me talking about it on this blog–dare I hope?–but it seemed a good way to start this theme because it’s one of those things that happen in your life which will keep you guessing until the end.

The thing is, was it a gift or a curse?  Well, thank goodness, the jury’s still out on that one and I can still hope that it’ll turn out all right in the end…

…but probably not this year.    

For me, this past weekend was one of extreme highs and lows, and in my mind, can only be compared to a roller coaster ride.  It had the heart-pounding thrill of climbing that unbelievably high slope, the breath-stealing anticipation of reaching the top then teetering there for a few spine-chilling moments, and finally, the mind-blowing descent down the other side.  By Sunday, I didn’t know whether to give in and enjoy the sensations or shut my eyes and scream, “Stop the ride, I want to get off!”

I climbed into the car on Friday night while it was hovering at the ride’s lowest point, held there by the Yankees defeating the Red Sox–a game we should have won and would have if our stellar and much-revered bullpen had performed the way they were expected to.

On Saturday morning, the car started its rickety climb up the slope when I received word from a publisher saying they wanted to include my short story “The Secret Life of Alice Smitty” in their PMS: Poison, Murder, Satisfaction anthology–see Saturday’s post “Happy Dances.”

Shortly after that, we reached the pinnacle when Josh Beckett led Boston to a 10-1 trouncing of the Yankees.  It was a beautiful thing, especially since I actually got to see it!  Of course, I had to watch it on Fox–do those people have any idea how incredibly dull and insipid their sports coverage is?–but even that wasn’t enough to dull my excitement.

Sunday morning the car was teetering on the summit when I received word from the publisher of my first book, “Death by Indifference,” that they were closing at the end of this month.  This one was its own little roller coaster ride in and of itself.  I was in turn, crestfallen, ecstatic, pissed off, and hopeful.  Crestfallen because that meant my book would only be available till September 30th.  Ecstatic because they’d had the good sense to close before being forced into bankruptcy as so many others in the epublishing industry have been in the last few months–thereby tying up the rights to countless books for months on end and causing unfair and unbearable distress to their authors.  Pissed off because I knew for months this was coming, I saw all the red flags and ignored them.  I’d signed a contract with them back in February for my paranormal romance, “Snow Shadows.”  They more or less sat on the manuscript for seven long months, and I can’t tell you how many times I thought of writing them and pulling the book–patience is not a strong point of mine!–but I let it slide.  How stupid is that?  Hopeful because it means the days of wondering and worrying are over.  As of September 30th, I can submit both books to other publishers and with any luck, they’ll see the light of day sometime in the future.   

Sunday afternoon and we’re still teetering on the brink.  My husband and I have been looking for a house for the past six months or so.  We finally found not one, but two we like enough to make an offer on and now we have to decide which one we like more.  They have a fairly equal amount of pros and cons, so the only thing to do now is weigh each pro/con individually and see where that leads us.

Sunday night, we plunged into the abyss when the Red Sox blew another game to the Yankees–I don’t want to talk about it!–then it was back up again when the Patriots won their game against the Chargers, hopefully silencing at least a few of their critics regarding the accusations of cheating which came to the forefront this past week.  One of the other bloggers on WordPress, http://firedannyainge.wordpress.com, made a very valid point about this and I quote,

The Patriots have lost quite a few players in recent years that weren’t too happy about not getting paid. Ty Law, Lawyer Milloy, Willie McGinnest, Adam Vinatieri etc… to name a few. Wouldn’t you think if this had been going on for a long time that one of these players would have blown the whistle if they knew?”

Well, duh, of course.  Why didn’t I think of that?  So, thanks firedannyainge for pointing this out and giving me ammunition to use against my husband who is a Colts fan.

So now, the hair-raising ride is over at last, I can climb with wobbly knees out of the car, and get on with my normally dull and staid life.  The thing is, I have a sneaky suspicion I’m going to be feeling the repercussions from this particular roller coaster ride for a long time to come.

Whistling Woman by CC Tillery

Winds of Fate

Storm Shadows

Snow Shadows

PMS Anthology

Romance of My Dreams

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