Wednesday, April 27, 2016


     It's been a long long time but I'm beginning to dream of being a writer again. I guess it is in the blood, like it or not. Sickness in the home robs one of the time and inspiration that is so very necessary for the creative process but after nearly four years of doing nothing more creative than playing video games on the computer, it's high time I forced myself to do something that doesn't rot my brain. True, few may find this to read but perhaps I'll get a sense of satisfaction from having written a few words anyway... .
     When I began writing I was still an acting children's librarian and wanted to write for that age group. It became quickly obvious that I didn't know beans from apple butter about the subject. I knew little children but the area I thought would be so easy to tackle very soon was revealed to be the most difficult and demanding of all I could possibly have chosen. Subsequently, I took workshops, studied, took college courses, attended writers clubs, joined organizations and, most importantly, wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. For years I wrote...seemed to me (at the time) anything and everything.  Now I know there were millions of subjects I could have covered that I did not. I've had a very successful writing career, publishing articles, newspaper columns, short stories and books but it all came to a screeching halt several years ago when the unexpected, uninvited and unwanted happened.
     My husband became ill. Very ill. Not dying ill...thank goodness. However since he is in his late seventies we certainly must keep that as a very real possibility as the illness is worsening gradually. So naturally I am staying at home and taking care of things here. Fortunately he is not totally incapaciated at this time so we continue to have certain activities. But he is home daily now and is unable to sleep.
     In order to write I need concentration time and it is really impossible to find it now. And I'm certainly unable to travel to conferences and meetings anymore so I find myself without my circle of friends and fellow writers that I had for so many years.
     So I play games on the computer. And at night I dream. I dream of going to conferences far far away. I dream of driving across the beautiful country as I did for so many Jackson Hole, to Cheyenne, to Colorado Springs, to Saint Louis and on and on and on. I dream of my friends...Jory, Charlotte, Ellen, Lou, Candy, Loren and Debbie and on and on. I dream of the children's books that I have yet to write.
     Do I still have time? Do I have enough drive? Can I find enough energy?
     Maybe this alone will satisfy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There But For the Grace of God

     In the midst of all my grumping and groaning and feeling sorry for myself concerning this current medical crisis, I try and remember there are others who are lots and lots worse off than we are. We have all sorts of resources to deal with medical problems and besides, we don't even know for sure what we're looking at yet, so why should I fuss?
     Here's an interesting story that helped to bring me up short in the midst of all these problems: a couple of nights ago, the teen-age grandson who, with his mom, lives in the same house with us, was in it up to his neck. He had got home without the book which had his assigned reading in it. Uh-oh. Big Trouble!
     So I rushed in and downloaded the book onto my I-Pad so he could get his evening assignment done.
     Okay . . . next day I decided to get my money's worth by reading the book myself. After all, it was fairly short. Turns out, I'm really really glad I did. And I highly recommend the book to any of my readers (those of you who aren't already familiar with it.)
     The name of the author is Jean-Dominique Bauby and the book is entitled The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and it is an absolutely fabulous story.
     Bauby suffered a stroke at the age of 43, just at the height of a successful career, that immediately launched him into a world totally opposite of the one with which he was familiar. When he came to his senses the only method of communication he had left was the deliberate movement of his left eyelid. Nothing else in his body functioned without some kind of artificial aid or human manipulation. In addition he was to experience constant pain for the rest of his life.
     He was diagnosed with what is known as "Closed-In Syndrome" or, as he describes it in the book, what felt as if he was enclosed inside a diving bell in a vast sea where there is no movement, no control, no communication. All remaining were the butterflies of his mind.
     The syndrome is at least well enough known that there was an established method of communication that could, over a long period of time and with a lot of pain, be taught. This method uses the alphabet and Bauby learned to indicate each letter with the movement of his left eyelid as an interpreter took down dictation.
     The end result (and I haven't found out just how long the whole episode took, from stroke to his death) was the 'writing' of this book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', which was published in France two days before his death.
     So, (1) I'm going to quit my belly-aching about a treatable situation and (2) I'm going to try and improve my writing. If a man in this condition can produce a book of this quality I'll be derned if I quit!
     Read the book. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Fine Mess

     Hey, everyone. Nice and cool today. After the heat of the summer I'm really enjoying this. Wish I had time to be out in it though.
     Just a short update to keep everyone in the loop. My better half, as everyone knows, has had a rough time of it lately with this bout with the shingles. Well, wouldn't you know? We go to the doctor last week, complaining that there is something else going on lately and sure enough . . . there is! Something that has been hiding its ugly head beneath all of the other, evidently.
     After a series of blood tests, we are told that his kidneys are failing! Well, five minutes of sheer panic. Then, thank goodness, we both have sense enough to stop and take a breath and look at what we're dealing with. I hit the computer, reading (out loud) as fast and furiously as I can and, after about a half hour, we have our socks on the right feet again and have calmed down considerably. I recall my Uncle Clover who lived for quite a number of years on dialysis . . . and this was before they knew much about what they could do otherwise.
     Anyway, we booked some preliminary tests and the poor guy (who was in a bad state as it was) had a couple of terrible days preparing for a colonoscopy . . .those of you who have experienced one know how awful it is and those of you who have not have really got something to look forward to...and an upper G.I.. Neither of these produced anything that was contributing to the situation so now we go the next step. As soon as all the wheels finish turning we will be referred to a nephrologist who will no doubt make his life miserable in unknown ways (particularly through diet . . . and boy! do I look forward to forcing that little way of life onto him).
     At least, from the research we've done up to now we're fairly optimistic.
     My writing is at a standstill but, by golly, I'll catch up again one of these days.
     Damn, getting old is fun, ain't it?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight

     What a strange summer this has turned out to be! With a husband suffering from shingles for the past six months, my day-to-day routines have been altered in ways too numerous to list. I find myself stopping whatever I'm doing in order to do something else right now . . . not because he demands it but because I try and simplify his life as much as possible. He lives in so much pain at present that it's only fair that I keep things going as smoothly as possible. Complicating matters is the fact that both of my in-laws are (literally) suffering from the ravages of old age and their son is constantly worried about them and their care. This is not helping him recover his own health any faster.
     If I could be quite objective I would admit all of this is more or less a universal problem, but things have a way of becoming so personal one feels as if it is unique to the immediate situation.
     At least I  feel justified in only now and then posting on this blog. One would think it could be (and it actually is) a place to relieve some of the stress. However, considering my lack of organization, it is a wonder I even think of the blooming site.
     Funny, though. When I really get started, it is fun. Sort of like having a conversation with an old friend!
     So, now . . . I have the preliminaries out of the way . . . let's have a go at other subjects.
     I have tried to do a few other things this summer. A few days now and then doing professional stuff keeps my head screwed on straight and that helps a lot. True, I've not done too many creative things or put too much thought into what I have undertaken up to recently but it's coming . . . it's coming.
    At the Missouri Writers Guild conference in the spring, From Trash to Treasure took honorable mention in the best book category and I began negotiating with the publisher of High Hill Press concerning a position with the house.
    Later in the summer I attended the Heartland Writer's Conference in Sikeston, MO, where my Trash to Treasure  memoir won first place in their book contest. I caught up with some good friends and solidified the plans concerning a new juvenile division for High Hill Press to be called Sky High Tales with me as acquisitions editor.
     During this time I was also attempting to polish up my latest book, a juvenile mystery to be entitled Junkyard Bones and I contributed a short story to the latest of OWInc.'s anthologies, Mysteries of the Ozarks, Vol III and a second story to what will eventually be Mysteries of the Ozarks, Vol IV.
     During the past month or two I've been working at editing several manuscripts for the publisher so we should have several good possibilities coming up during the next year and I'll be on the outlook for more as time goes by.
     Just last weekend I attended a brand-new conference in Hollister, MO. It was held at Ye Old Country Inn, recently restored by Janet Dailey, and she was nice enough to make herself available to the participants. In addition Dusty Richards, the well-known (and much decorated) western writer, Fred Pfister, the editor of the Ozarks Mountaineer magazine and Radine Trees Nehring, a writer of cozy mysteries, were featured speakers. It was well attended by both new and experienced writers and had lots of good information for all. To top it off, the regular quarterly Ozark Writer's League meeting was held at the tail end of the conference and I got to go for a change. Lucky, too, as a good friend, Pat Smith, was one of the two main speakers. She talked about social networking. The other, Deborah LeBlanc, was an extremely dynamic speaker who talked about working outside the box.
     It was a good meeting and I got a lot out of it  . . . not to mention the possibility of finding a couple of possible new authors for Sky High Tales . . . if it works out.
     So in spite of illness and business I still find time to do the two things I most enjoy . . . reading and writing.
     And the third thing for that matter . . . networking with friends and fellow writers.
     So even though I'm dealing with a lot of 'stuff' here at home with sickly husband, grown children and grandchildren, I'm finding time to still stay with my writing business.
     Just have a bit of trouble making time for blogging!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chasing My Tail

     Mea Culpa. My apologies. This has been an unusual summer to say the least. However, I'm not going into detail because I would bore the reader to tears. I will just try and get into the swing of things once again.
     Since I wasn't busy enough I took on an additional job recently for a good friend. You are now reading a contribution from the recently named Acquisitions Editor for Sky High Tales, the juvenile division of High Hills Press. Since I have so much luck publishing all of my own materials (tongue in cheek, here, you understand) it behooves me to help others who might be in need of some sound advice when it comes to writing for young people. So now, in my spare time, I am looking at manuscripts from aspiring authors, deciding whether something  has merit enough to offer advice or to reject it outright, and then spending hours trying to determine the delicate words to say in order to explain that the arms have to be chopped off the baby in order for it to be born. We won't even go into the birth itself. For one thing the gestation period is much much longer than most beginning writers have any notion of it being. One does not learn to be a writer in six weeks.
     This new position does not allow much time for creativity of my own. I have at least one short story that I know is going to be due soon and I've not even come up with an idea yet. I'm supposed to be planning a workshop and I've not started. A conference is planned for the middle of August and I keep forgetting to send off the registration (well, I made the hotel reservation at least).
     I've ordered additional copies of the From Trash to Treasure: the Evolution of an Ozarks Junkyard. I've actually sold out most of the copies I had! I'm so pleased. And my editior tells me that I'm getting a royalty check. Wow! I've made the big time! ( Of course, I've not seen the size of the check yet. Please don't corner me and ask . . . it might embarrass me later.)
     And the new juvenile mystery Junkyard Bones is coming out this fall. So I can't really gripe I suppose. However, it seems as if I've not really created anything for a long time.
     Folks . . . something's gotta give. I've already given up on housework and cooking. What's it gonna be next? Reading?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Getting Back Up On That Horse

     How many of you have trouble starting all over again after falling down on some responsibility? I sure do. Case in point . . . this blog.
     Now, I really enjoy writing it. Honestly I do. But for some reason, when I have something that gets in my way and causes me to lose the necessary momentum I just seem to fall to pieces.
     Every time there is a crisis in my household I seem to stop writing and then I can't get underway again for love nor money. (Well, since money never has made much appearance when it comes to my writing anyway, perhaps I should just leave it at love.)
     I'm not sure if I've mentioned that my Dear Heart has been suffering from the Shingles for the past two and a half months. In March, when he first became sick, he was mis-diagnosed and treated by a substitute doctor for the wrong thing and then ended up in the hospital where he was mis-diagnosed again for something entirely different. Therefore it was a couple of weeks before his regular doctor discovered what his condition really was and it was a little late.
     I have never seen anyone suffer anymore than the poor man has done. Now, you and I have heard all sorts of horror stories concerning the Shingles and I believe every one of them at this point but until one actually observes or experiences it there is simply no real way to describe it fully. My husband has always been able to throw pain out the window and never gives in to anything. One summer he broke a tendon (!) in his right calf. There was nothing that could be given to him to help the pain so he simply strapped his boot tight and worked all summer until it healed. Once he drove a chisel through his forehead, just missing his right eye, but returned to work as soon as we returned home from the surgery in Kansas City.
     Should I sprain my ankle, heaven forbid, I will be in bed for a week and someone has to carry me to the bathroom.
     But the Shingles has brought him to his knees. He has spent most of the past two and a half months in bed, living on Percocet, if you can believe it. This is a man who is suspicious of multi-vitamins and refuses to take cough medicine. And even that doesn't do more than take the edge off. He does not break out . . . he merely has terrific pain through his body, as if, he says, someone is using large butcher knives on him and later crawling up and down on his back and shoulders. And as if that isn't enough, I'm watching like a hawk in case he gets too despondent. Being in this much pain just invites depression.
     His doctor tells us he is using my husband as a poster boy to promote the shot that will help prevent getting the Shingles. Fortunately I had received it about six months before and we had intended for him to do the same and simply hadn't gotten around to it.
     He has lived to regret it . . . hourly.
     My message to my readers is to head to your doctor's office pronto and get that shot. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


     This is a short (sweet?) post, so be prepared.
     All I've heard for two days is hate, hate, hate. I can't bear much more of it. I realize the man must be held (more or less) ultimately responsible for world-wide death and devastation (as was Hitler in his day) but he does not bear the shame on his shoulders alone.
     And we do not solve the problems that were created by him and his followers by bearing the same attitudes.
     When hatred takes the place of love, mankind becomes as unfeeling as the jackal that tears apart the hare. You may say the man acted as the jackal and needs no sympathy but he was born as innocent and clean as any other child who enters this world. We all become what we allow ourselves to become.
    Is mankind going to allow hatred to shape itself into the very thing it despises so heartily?
    My family taught me that love was the answer, that a hand offered in friendship should be extended again and again, even if it is rejected, and that hate is never, never, never the answer.
     I do not know how much more of this national shame I can bear to watch.
     Can we not show compassion as the example for mankind to follow? Must we continue in the same vein that we already insist we despise? If we step over the line from love to hate may we find ourselves playing on the opposite team?
     I refuse to celebrate the death of a soul, no matter how black it may be painted by time. It was once a minuscule newborn babe and I will remember the momentary joy the mother felt at its birth and send my prayers with it.
     I will play on the team of love . . . not hate.