Saturday, November 27, 2010

Am I Normal? Or is it Just Me?

     Thanksgiving is over. Missouri Folklore Society conference is finished. The drawer where the mouse was trying to build a nest is emptied and filled with metal pan lids (try chewing those up, little feller . . . gotcha!).
     Two big important events coming up: Christmas and the surprise in February (NO, I'm still not ready to tell. But I will later.)
     Preparations are underway. Not enough preparations, but at least I've started. Hey! Don't rush me! There may be lots to do but I've still got time. God knows I produce best under deadlines.
     Anyway, I've started shopping and I've got little lists all over the house and I'm working on it. The thing I'm avoiding, though, is (one of ) the deadline that is looming closer and closer and closer.  And that is the current (new) book.
     Junkyard Bones is a kid's mystery and it is basically finished. In fact it has been finished for the past year but I've not had too much time for marketing lately so it set on the shelf (figuratively speaking) through my surgeries, conferences and numerous family crises.
     Now, though, I've got a publisher who is willing to take a risk with it and I'm supposed to be sending it off.
     That was lovely until I began messing around with the finished product.
     I had written the whole ms in WordPerfect, which was the medium I worked in for years and years. Now, I know most editors really prefer Word, so I would convert things when I got ready to send them off and it worked out pretty well, but just about the time I finished writing Junkyard Bones, my old old OLD Word program crashed and I couldn't do anything more with it.
     So . . . I ordered the newest version of Word to be downloaded into the computer.
     And off I went to have the second of the two surgeries, never dreaming that it was to be a whole new ball game when I resumed working on the ms.
     During the past few months I've messed around with the new program by writing some short things and trying to familiarize myself with all of the new stuff. And let me tell you . . . it ain't been easy! (I hate computers.) Anyway, I thought I'd pretty well mastered the basics.
     So a couple of nights ago, I merrily converted Junkyard Bones from my WordPerfect program into my new Microsoft Word and opened it up to have a look.
     At first glance, everything was fine.
     At second glance (or glare) is was not.
     First of all, I had to figure out how to remove the headings, which wasn't too bad. That turned out to be fairly simple and I was feeling really puffed up about myself.
     BUT . . . and this was the BIG BUT . . . the blooming program replaced every blessed quotation mark in there with something else.
     Now, I can use Search and Replace. That's fairly straightforward. But in this case, the quotation mark at the beginning of the sentence is replaced with a bold-faced capital A and the quotation mark at the end of the sentence is replaced with a @ sign. And, since each sentence is of different length there is no way you can put in a string, not to mention that you certainly don't want each capital A in the manuscript replaced with a quotation mark.
     So I am going over the blasted ms word by word and replacing each and every one of those capital bold-faced As and @ signs.
     I'm going to have my own manuscript memorized by the time I get it ready to send it on to the publisher.
     Talk about line editing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Turkey Time...and More Important...Family!

     My feet hurt. I've been up and running around away too much today and I'm still trying to get over this bout with the flu or whatever it is I've got.
    First a week or so of just being sick, then I thought I was all over it and had that great weekend. Okay, Saturday night and Sunday I could deal with...I just got a little too tired, right? Wrong. I've still got this THING! Only yesterday it turned into a really sick stomach too. I spent most of yesterday in bed because I was afraid to move and today has been up and down and trying to get things done anyway because TOMORROW IS THANKSGIVING! And when you are Super Grandma you always have a bunch of family who are coming.       
     Well, yeah, they would stay home if I said to do so but what fun would that be? So instead two of the three and part of their families will be here and one brother and one other granddaughter who showed up out of the blue (she is sick too). Actually, husband isn't feeling too good either.
     All this sounds like fun, doesn't it?
     At least the kids are kicking in and one is bringing roasted turkey breast and broccoli casserole and mac and cheese (for the youngsters) and one is bringing the peeled and cut up potatoes ready to cook. So it makes it much easier for me. I spent the evening putting together deviled eggs and jello and mixing the filling for the pumpkin pies (I like to cook them early on the morning we are going to eat.) So all I really need to do in the morning is to bake the pies and mix up my hot rolls and cinnamon rolls and put them on to raise.
     Oh, yeah, I guess I'd better do something with some salad and vegetables too, right? But will anyone really eat them except me? And after all, I am one sick cookie, aren't I? Maybe I'll just concentrate on turkey and cinnamon rolls.
     Wow. Even with a stomach rolling around all over the place my mouth waters. When it comes to holiday time I turn into one big pig.
     But the best thing is having family here together. It is hard to gather all of us at the same time anymore and Thanksgiving doesn't even really take care of it. (Christmas is another matter. NO ONE misses Christmas.) But I'll get to have the 13 year old granddaughter for a couple of extra days and that will be nice. She doesn't get to come and stay too often now because of the school stuff. The teenage boys don't really care to be here that much and we see them all of the time but I miss Allison coming like she did when she was small and staying. And the fact that sometimes one of the older ones finds he or she can't bear to stay put while the rest of the family wines and dines and visits (even though sickness is raging on campus and in particular in a certain bedroom) is just an added surprise and pleasure. Hot herb tea and grandma and grandpa go a long way toward making you feel better when you are no longer eight hours away.
      So even if my poor tummy rebels from too much turkey it won't matter. I have special people here and that's the most important thing of all.
     I give thanks every day for what I have...and who I have.
     And lets hope this stomach settles down by tomorrow! Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Busy is Good (Right?)

     Wow! Great weekend . . . with only one little drawback. A sick stomach that will NOT quit. It seems to be leftover from the flu stuff we all had last week. But I refuse to let it put me under again. I do not have the TIME!
     Report on Saturday's meeting: good, good, good. Only thing that went wrong was no book sales but that was because there were about thirty other authors with tables all set up and selling. I was late getting there and spent all my time catching up with people I hadn't seen for months and didn't devote myself to my business. Gets me in trouble every time. Anyway . . .
     Sometimes I'm a little cynical when it comes to workshops, etc. I've done this so many years it can get old. But not so Saturday. Things were fresh and new. Malena Lott, from over around Norman, OK, had an absolutely mesmerizing program and I came away with lots of new thoughts and perspectives. Great presentation and a wonderful person. Didn't get a whole lot of time to get acquainted but perhaps later. I'll look forward to running into her again. She has lots and lots to offer. If you write, better check her out.
     Then I stayed for the panel discussion on self-publishing. While this is not an avenue I've pursued in the past I know plenty of authors who have. There have been good results and bad and it seems to be like a lot of things. It has to be thought out thoroughly and carefully done. The panelists know their business and had much to suggest. It seems to be a very valid approach.
     The last presentation was by Mary Nida Smith and I was really looking forward to it because it was about blogging exclusively. But I simply couldn't stay that long as we had the music program at McDowell Saturday night and I had to drive fast to get home for that. I know Mary and it was too bad I had to miss her but she has a great web presence. We'll connect more there and I can milk her for all its worth. Ho.
    Then the music was great, I did a (!) fantastic (!) job of belting out a couple of songs, did my 'dooty' as hostess, visited like mad, sold a copy or two of Trash to Treasure, took out my I-Pad and worked for awhile on a short story and, finally, couldn't put off running down any longer. So I bid 'farewell' early to all my friends and came home where I crashed about midnight.
     Sunday morning we got up early and headed out for Miami where we spent unnecessary amounts of pennies in some slot machines. Later we ate a little lunch, came home, took a nap and called it a day.
     What a weekend.
     And all I really have to show for it is the upset stomach.
     Well, yeah. Two paragraphs of a short story.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Feast or Famine?

     You go for a long time with no demands being made on your time and what happens? Three things on the same day that you really should take part in!
     With a new book out (I DID mention it, didn't I?) I have to find a way to sell it and what better way than book signings and conferences? So...the quarterly Ozark Writers League is this Friday night and Saturday in Hollister (near Branson if you don't know the Ozarks) and since I'm a charter member it is where I'll head early early tomorrow morning. I can't go tonight for various reasons  . . . also it is awards night and I don't have anything entered. Ergo: nothing won! But tomorrow's program sounds intriguing and my editor from High Hill Press will be there and I've not seen her for a month. Also my dearest friend(s) and mentors, Jory and Charlotte Sherman, will be up from Texas and I can't wait to get my hugs and kisses. Jory was kind enough to do one of the blurbs on the jacket of From Trash to Treasure: the Evolution of an Ozarks Junkyard. Bless the two of them. I could never have turned into the writer I am were it not for their love and encouragement. If you've never read his work, for God's sake, get something quick quick quick. It's pure gold. I love the things he does on the Ozarks. The poet shines through in everything he writes.
    For heaven's sake. I can get ten miles off the subject while I'm looking at the map!
     Let's try this again.
     I belong to a small group of local writers who made arrangements with a place in Mt. Vernon called the Keen Bean (coffee shop, lovely place and smells like heaven) to have our books on individual shelves. We call ourselves Home Grown Books.So what happens? The others decide to have a book signing tomorrow . . .just when I have to be gone to Hollister for OWLs. Natch.
     On top of everything else (and this is a very pleasant thing indeed) another happening is taking place in Buffalo tomorrow  that (again) I can't go to.
     A number of years ago, five other authors and myself founded a small group called Ozark Writers, Inc. (OWI). This was a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization formed to promote writers from the Ozarks (and stories about the Ozarks). We did workshops, talks, book-signings and various projects and culminated in publishing two anthologies, Mysteries of the Ozarks, Vol(s)I and II. Because of various responsibilities and lifestyle changes, we put the group on hiatus for some time. Now I'm happy to announce that it is being brought back into existence (without my being on the board this time around but with my full support).
     Anyway, naturally a workshop is planned for tomorrow at Buffalo MO. And I can't go. Dern. But maybe there will be a good turnout even without me.
     Please go to Facebook and look up Ozark Writers, Inc. We would be pleased for the attention and if you have any questions you can check with me or some of the ones you will become acquainted with there.
     My better half just came in and demanded some attention so I'll leave you all for now. Have a great weekend and if I don't get back before Sunday or thereabouts I'll be thinking of all my new friends . . . I double-dog garrenteeee it!
     Told you . . . either I have nothing to do or I have too much! Hooo . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Online Shopping Out, Tramping Through Stores In . . . Ugh!

     Okay, I'll admit it. I made a big mistake. Never never again will I take part in an online auction. I was glued to this derned computer for two and a half days and then lost the item for an unreasonable amount of money. At least I had sense enough to give up when the bid was still very low. But I stayed tuned it and, by golly, I could have practically manufactured it myself for the amount it finally went for.
     But I've learned my lesson.
     Back to traditional shopping. Which isn't any better, for that matter.
     I've been having so much trouble with bursitis in my shoulder I gave up and called my rheumatologist this morning for an appointment. Turned out my choice was next year or this afternoon so naturally I picked up and flew to Springfield as fast as I could get there.
     Now one to waste a perfectly good day on something so mundane as a doctor's visit, I decided to see what I could find for Christmas gifts.
     I have no soles left on my feet as of this writing. They are worn off and will have to recover before I can do any more shopping. I didn't get in until 8:30 and I have precious little to show for it all. (Well, I did manage to get home with a couple of extra clothing items for my own dear self. AND...note this, it is important for later reference...I was absolutely forced into going to the book store. After all I did have a 15% off coupon. And I NEEDED a few books about a certain place I'm planning to go in February . . . I know, I know . . . but you will hear more about this later, I promise. It is worth waiting for.)
     Anyway, to make a long story short, I still have the major part of my Christmas stuff to do. It gets harder and harder each year and I HATE to give money, which is what the teenagers really want anyway, I know.
     It would be simpler I'll admit. We have a thirteen year old granddaughter, an "almost" fourteen year old grandson, a fifteen and one/half year old grandson and a sixteen and one/half grandson.
     You try and figure out something for them they'd really like (that wouldn't cost $500 and up).
     Oh yeah. Don't forget the girl in college, the young and single career woman and the grandson and his wife with two little great-granddaughters.
     And a husband who "doesn't want anything for Christmas, it is a waste of money".
    For this, I walk my legs off.
     I'm going to bed. Maybe I'll dream about the new outfit I bought. Tomorrow I think I'll go to town and look for a necklace to wear with it.
     Merry Christmas to me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sucker That Is Born Every Minute

     How many of you have ever been caught up in a bidding war? Raise your hand, sucker!
     I swore off going to auctions years ago after standing next to a sister-in-law who was insisting on paying twice the amount for a set of table glasses that I'd just seen (brand new) a few days before at the original price. Raising bids is addictive, pal!
     Problem is not that I can't stop bidding. Problem is if I finally find something I really want then I REALLY WANT IT! And usually it isn't available anywhere else.
     Anyway, because of this and various other reasons (namely a lack of ready cash) I've pretty well given up auctions as a lost cause.
     Until a couple of days ago . . .
     We all know Christmas is coming up pretty soon, right? Well, how many of you have four teen-age grandkids to find gifts for? I do! (Not to mention a college student, two grown ones, a grand-daughter-in-law and two small greats.)
     What to get? What to get? What to get?
     To make a long story short,, I happened across an online auction that offered a very desirable electronic object that one of the grandsons would like to have. Well, the object costs a small fortune so I hung around (in my innocence) and got HOOKED!
     For the past three days I've been tied to the darn computer, checking my bids every ten minutes and trying to gauge the competition. I missed the first one by a millisecond, gave up on the second one and found out the next morning that by giving up too early I had missed a real bargain. So here I am again, glued to the screen.
     Darn kid. If I spent this much time just looking for a gift for him in the stores I'd need a new pair of shoes. Besides, I'd still have a bunch of grandkids to go.
     What's a loving grandma to do, anyway?
     Got to go . . . time to check my bids. Maybe I'll win this one!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dogs, Cats and Other Monsters

     I scooted over to Becky's site to read over what she had to say so early in the morning and I was inspired to come back home and tell a little about the animals in our life.
     For some reason, no matter how much I scream and protest, we always end up having at least one or more for me to have to look after. Down through the years there have been countless animals around this forty acres and the two domestic (more or less) ones we have presently are only the latest of those forced upon me while I was kicking and screaming.
     I didn't mind when I was younger. In fact, little kittens and puppies were no more trouble than babies. We had them in the house on a regular basis . . . house and barn and garage . . . wherever there was a hole Mama Cat (we hand-picked the puppies) could find to use as a birthing spot. Kits, cats, sacks and wives. Ha. Sometimes I felt sort of like the old nursery rhyme.
     Anyway . . . back to the present.
     We are (at the moment) home to one beagle, a female. Millie lost her companion to the wheels of a truck several months ago on the highway not far from here so she prefers to stay at home now.
     I am owned by ONE CAT. I no longer even remember how Bagheera managed to wriggle herself into our lives. I do know that I swore I would never have ANY MORE ANIMALS. And suddenly I had two more puppies and a kitten.
     Don't ask me how it happened. When you have, in addition to a husband on the property, a daughter and two grandchildren, anything goes . . . or comes, as the case may be.
     In this case, (and it has been a number of years now) once again it was animals.
     Now, the very first thing I want in the morning is COFFEE (please note the capitals).
     I stagger into the kitchen, where the floor-to-ceiling windows and door, un-curtained, are open to the wonderful world outdoors. This was arranged so that I could watch nature in a leisurely  manner while waking slowly, happy.
     And the first thing I see? A yowling cat on her hind legs. Her whole black body, in a frontal position with belly bulging, resembling some kind of enormous black bug, is plastered to the glass door. You would think from the noise that she hadn't been fed in a year.
     It is so strange. I feel guilty if I cross the room in front of her and put my coffee on BEFORE I feed her. Sometimes, if I'm late rising, she will be looking in a different direction and I will creep across the floor and try to avoid being seen as I reach the sink.  Then, AHA! I'm out of her sight path. I did it! I tricked her.
     How foolish can you be? But that's the way it is when a household has pets.
     Who owns whom? Who knows?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Did It!

     Wow! We pulled it off. The Missouri Folklore Society 2010 Conference is over and done and was a roaring success.
     I have to apologize to my readers for taking so long to get back to you and I will do my level best to keep up with this blog now.
      After being in charge of the Missouri Writers Guild Annual Conference in 2000 I swore I'd never do another such thing again. However, here was the situation: I've belonged to MFS for many many years and I felt as if I'd never done anything much in return for the benefits I'd received. The group had never met in the southwest corner of the state and it sounded like a great place for a variety of reasons. Since those in charge must necessarily live close by it was only logical that I could do a lot of the arrangements so I volunteered to act as a co-chair.
     As anyone knows who has been in charge of such as this, it becomes all-consuming. Over the month of October it felt as if things took on a life all their own and I had no time for family, writing, breathing or much of anything but MFS.
     But things went off without a hitch and all that is left to do is to sand off the edges and file the paperwork.
     Perhaps I can do a little writing . . . in between getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . and another upcoming activity that I'll address later in another post.
     One thing right now: the new book is out! From Trash to Treasure: The Evolution of An Ozarks Junkyard is available now from or High Hill Or of course, you can get in touch with me. It is going well but it would sell even better if I could find some time to get out and push it!
     Now, I need to stop writing and catch up on my reading. I've missed my friend's blogs! It has been ages and I'm far far behind. I'd probably better head for Becky Povich first of all. She has all sorts of good advice and she is always giving something away. (Go to and see what she has to say.) I have to ask questions of her all the time. I think of her as sort of a computer guru because she seems to know all sorts of things I don't understand at all. I'm going to have to ask her how to leave a comment now on her site. I think they've changed things and you're supposed to send them to facebook or something. Urk. I'm so computer ill-literate. It's dreadful.
     Anyway, I'm going to go and read for awhile. Tomorrow I'll try and post again. And maybe I'll find time to write on the article I'm supposed to have done before now (Lou, if you're reading this, I've not forgotten! I'll do it! I'll do it! Just give me a little more time. Pullleeeezzzze???)