-->

Saturday, July 22, 2017

FINISHED, BUT FAR FROM DONE


My first ghostwriting assignment has been completed. After I turned the manuscript over to my client, I felt like a surrogate turning my baby over to its other mother. And I don't know what, if any changes my client will make. This was her concept from the start.

We had more than a few creative differences along the way. I gave the plot a sinister twist and took it darker places than she wanted to go. I watered down my writing in several places to suit her tastes. No creative person likes doing this. I had to keep reminding myself that I was performing a service. I was being paid to write and step away. She owned the cake, I was merely the oven.

Among her complaints was that her characters were no longer likable. I find people with flaws more interesting to write about. Also she wanted to keep the betrayed wife a victim. I chose to empower her and bring out the strength I saw in this character along with her dark side.

I assured my client that many of these characters would become more likable in the end. The survivors all learn their lesson becoming better people for it.

My client is an excellent writer herself, but not of fiction. She admitted that she could never have come up with all the twists and turns I threw into this story.

But one mistake I kept making was that I automatically wrote everything in the present tense because it was live to me. In my mind I saw the story unfolding in the moment as I typed. Of course I corrected this during editing, but I overlooked it in some places. I'm not a perfect writer. That's why another pair of eyes is always necessary! The more pairs of eyes the better!

The novel is paperback length. I don't write anything that doesn't advance the plot. This was also easier on my client's wallet. I could have added lots of filler and kept this thing going for another 6 months. Many authors who don't ghost write do this with their own novels. But these are books I don't enjoy reading. I want to see the story unfold at a brisk pace.

My client plans to self-publish.

Next, I will be given several chapters of a children's novel to finish. This time, my client insists that I keep the initial chapters intact and continue on from there. I'm not thrilled about this restriction, it's going to tie my hands more than a bit. I could do a better job if given carte blanche from the start as with the previous job. But I'm up for the challenge!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

SHUT IN, BUT NOT OUT


This summer I'm pretty much cocooning. Between the oppressive heat outside and the scattered storms, staying indoors feels downright nice. Besides, I've got my ghostwriting job to keep me busy.
Once again, grocery shopping has become the highlight of my week. I find it a fun activity rather than a chore, although one fraught with many temptations.

Of course I can also be lured out of my lair by an exciting, action-packed 3-D movie or even an interesting 1-D film. And I still meet friends for lunch in town from time-to-time. Otherwise, I'm pretty much a shut-in again. However, this time it's on my terms and that makes all the difference.

Between my last 2 exotic trips, numerous house repairs, plus all those unexpected expenses; my savings are down to where they were a decade ago! So I'm back on a serious spending diet.

Also 2 friends are planning great trips and have invited me along. I want to go! Before long I may be too old, sick, or poor to travel. I want to make memories now! And I'm cutting back on everything else to afford it.

Recently, I've decided to let my short gray hair grow long. I'm tired of paying an obscene price just to have it trimmed every couple months! When long, I was able to cut it myself in 15 minutes or less! A close friend is quite upset with me over this. She claims I'm going to ruin my looks because short hair is more becoming on me. I disagree! During most of my 50's my hair was long and red which I colored myself, I constantly received complements. And I don't see the gray as being unflattering.

My air-conditioner remains set on 80 degrees to keep my bills down. Hey, it's better than the 90 plus outside! Inside, I walk around in the buff with my blinds drawn. I keep a caftan nearby to slip over my head in case a neighbor comes to the door or I need to go outside for mail or retrieve my garbage bin.

Thankfully my home is quiet, private, and serene again. During the repairs and inspections with the noise and all those strangers around, my comfort zone was not that comfortable!

Time passes quickly; the days go by fast, too much so. I just wish I could grab the minutes in my hands and savor each second. But they stream thru my fingers flowing in one direction. I know where that path leads or rather dead ends. Plus it's fraught with booby traps, quick sand, and snake pits along the way.  I've witnessed it thru the eyes of those who've passed before me. It's not a pleasant thought.

I am relishing the here and now, grateful for every moment of it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

ROTTING FLESH & SWEAT


Well summer has officially arrived! And I can feel the flesh melting off my bones just walking across the grocery store parking lot. Actually it's my sunscreen that's melting. I am a walking fountain of sweat! It's streaming from every pore of my body, except under my arms, thanks to anti-perspirants.

My father used to say that anti-perspirants surely must be unsafe because they block a natural body function. Well, I don't believe they block, just redirect.

I recall the miserable years before this product was invented, back when most of us Floridians didn't have air-conditioning in our homes. OMG! How wretched life must have been during centuries past! The human body is a gamey thing. Just the thought of those fumes and the humidity almost has me hallucinating. 

This brings to mind my two favorite TV shows: Vikings and The Walking Dead. The Vikings and the zombies have two things in common. ONE: Both look as if they stink to high heaven! It's beyond me how they could sneak up on anyone! TWO: Both are bloodthirsty and would kill'ya soon as look at you!

Over the past season both programs have undergone significant changes. Unless you are a fan, you will not understand anything beyond this point. Which begs the question, why don't you watch these shows??? If not, START WATCHING!!! That's an order; both are entertaining and worth your time.

Below is a brief update of each:

In Vikings, the main character (I can't say hero) Raghair became serpent chow, an end he richly deserved! Now in Valhalla he and his scheming second wife are reunited. She is the statuesque Asslug. However, it's a safe bet the crawling psycho who sprung from their loins will murder Raghair's beautiful, but smelly-looking first wife before long.

Wife # 1 is about the only half-way likable character in this show with the exception of that English Monk who suffered from Stockholm syndrome. What was his name again?...Oh yes, Applestand! Poor guy got it together only to be slaughtered by Flunky, the scrawny guy in the hideous eye make-up that wears him. Or is his name Flakey? Either one applies! Anyway I'm looking forward to next season!

As to the Walking Dead, PEW! It should be renamed The Walking Reeking Dead! As with Vikings, I can almost smell them right thru my TV screen! But even the breathers appear stinky on that show! ICK! Isn't there any soap or shampoo on the shelves of all those deserted stores?

All last summer we were left in suspense wondering who was going to boogie with that spiky Lucille. Yes, she's more than a bit wooden, but Lucille really knows how to swing and hit her marks.

Later, we learned she chose the ginger guy and the Korean kid. Frankly, I was sick of both these characters and glad to see them gone. Personally, I thought they added nothing but annoyance. At least Andrea was nice to look at! Sadly, she's been long gone.

However, from a strategic point, Lucille and Sheriff Rick should have gotten together for a big date! You always whack the leader first! That's just basic 101 knowledge! Not to mention, the show would have been taken in a more intriguing direction. But I'm guessing that Andrew Lincoln's contract wasn't up yet. Probably, it was too costly to off him just yet.

The most malodorous scene in memory was when Sheriff Rick and a handful of his survivors discover that putrid-looking clan of garbage people. EEEEWWW! Just the appearance of them had me gasping and pinching my nostrils. I was overcome with a strong urge to pause my DVR, grab a can Lysol and douse my living room!

Well, I have to give much credit to the make-up and costume folks behind these shows. They certainly are talented and do a convincing job!

As for me, at least there's no bat infestation in my house, now! That was a summer ordeal I will never forget!( Also a previous blog) Thankfully, the bats with their overpowering stench never returned!

But scattered summer storms are back. At this moment the sky is sunny and bright, but it's a tease. One way or another, it seems I'm all wet this time of year!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

LIFE AS FICTION


This novel I'm ghostwriting has completely taken over my life and I wouldn't have it any other way! Recently, my client asked me to cut back on my hours in order to make it more affordable to her. I understand well and I'm doing this. However, it doesn't diminish the time or space these characters take up in my head.

Every meal, these fictional human beings are seated at the table with me, each in turn pleading their case, justifying their behavior, often interrupting one another. When I'm watching TV at night I find myself frequently rewinding to catch something I missed because a character was whispering an important detail in my ear. And when I'm trying to fall asleep, they keep me awake as I try to anticipate one's next move and the ripple effect it will have on the others. Plus it's not just every waking hour; they also invade my dreams during deep sleep. It's almost as if I'm being haunted!

Until this book is completed, there is no escaping! And people actually think I get lonely living by myself! I don't feel alone because the voices in my head never shut up!

You would never guess that I dislike reading fiction, I prefer sticking to reality. But I love to WRITE fiction because I'm in control, despite the fact my characters quickly take on lives of their own, lives rife with terrible judgment with all its ramifications; in other words, much like real life.

I felt proud when a reader told me the character Abby Colter, from my novel The Valley of Shadows and Shame seemed real to her. Abby was actually a composite of 2 girls I knew in school set in a different time period. So in a sense, she was an actual person, or rather two.

But even when I create characters out of the air, they become real to me. However, fictional characters written by other writers tend to remain just that, FICTIONAL! I love and prefer history books! But I realize that what been accepted as historical fact may actually be fiction.

For example, as a child I loved reading about Pocahontas. She was a genuine American princess and a true heroine, so what's not to love? I recall all of those childhood stories being along the same lines as the animated Disney musical. Recently, I was horrified to learn the reality! Her true story is nothing short of tragic.

The mythical romance between her and John Smith was a fantasy that diminishes her. Also it is questionable whether or not she saved his life! Smith was a braggart and bully notorious for entering tribes unannounced with guns demanding food and supplies.

Her true story is greater; her strength and endurance comes forth.

Pocahontas wasn't even her name, just an affectionate nickname given by her father, it means "mischievous one."  Matoaka was her actual name!

Around age 14, she wed a Potowomac warrior and soon gave birth to a child. Shorty afterward, she was kidnapped by the Jamestown colonists and her spouse murdered. While in captivity she was raped!

As a captive of Jamestown, her conversion to Christianity and renaming herself Rebecca was likely the result of Stockholm syndrome. However, the exploitation of her people was never forgotten.

Reunited with John Smith years later in England, she verbally attacked and reviled him in public for his reprehensible treatment of her tribe. Not long after, she died suddenly under mysterious circumstances before setting sail for home.

I attended the live musical Evita and I also watched the badly acted movie version starring Madonna. Afterward, I marveled at how Evita made such a mark in this world before she died at age 32. Then I recalled that Pocahontas died before her 22nd birthday. Matoaka made a greater impact despite her whole story being widely unknown.

Everything I had previously read about her was either revisionist history or pure sugary fiction! That's sad, because the truth is far more gripping and compelling; never mind that history must never be denied.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

DEAD MOMMIES IN HELL


Way back in the 1990's I wrote a punk rock song. -- Taylor Swift (whoever she is) isn't the only one who creates songs inspired from life. Recently, I said I'd post this for Mother's Day unless someone bribed me not to. Well none of you cheapskates coughed up any dough so here goes! But first, I need to give you some background info.

In my mind, this is being vocalized by the imaginary punk duo of Puke Puss & Piss Plenty as a chorus of background singer-dancers twirl flaming skull batons. 

I don't read or write music, but I came up with an original tune. You are just going to have to use your imagination while reading the lyrics.

On this note, I want to say that I once purchased a book of obscure English folk songs and as I read, tunes popped into my head. Later, when I heard them played, I was stunned! They were the exact melodies I'd heard in my head! And these were all unknown songs to me! So this is not as impossible as it sounds. So give it a shot!

  

 

                                DEAD MOMMIES IN HELL

  

Yeooow! My mom tried to shove me out a window!

But I stepped aside and tripped her.  Oh no!

Eeeewww, she's a splattered flyer!

Eeeewww, she's a splattered flyer!

Dead Mommy's in Hell!

Dead Mommy's in Hell!

Woe! She's skinny dipping in those notorious lakes of fire!

Woe! She's skinny dipping in those notorious lakes of fire!

Dead Mommy's in Hell!

My dad wed his girlfriend another floozy

The tramp tried to waste me with her Uzi!

The SWAT team sent her cursing up the river.

The attempted escape makes me quiver!

Ooooh she was a boogying on electric barbed wire!

Ooooh she was a boogying on electric barbed wire!

Dead Mommy's in Hell!

Dead Mommy's in Hell!

Woe! She's skinny dipping in those notorious lakes of fire!

Woe! She's skinny dipping in those notorious lakes of fire!

Dead Mommies in Hell!!!!

 

Not long ago, I sang this over the phone to my 77 year old brother in the nursing home. He was impressed and thought I should have it recorded by someone who can actually carry a tune. He also thinks my dark jokes are funny. (Not everyone does!) But then we share a similar history. His spirit animal is Big Foot and mine is the chupacabra.

Monday, May 1, 2017

HOME $WEET DOMICILE


Sure, I’d save a lot of money if I expatriated to South America, but I have doubts about my quality of life there after visiting. I don’t want to stand in long lines every month to pay my bills, nor do I want to wait weeks on end for a non-English speaking repairman to come and fix my refrigerator or cable.

I’ve been told by Expats that you just have to roll with those things, except that I’m NOT a roll-with-it type personality. And speaking of rolls, in many developing countries you are not allowed to flush toilet paper. There’s a closed garbage bin next to the commode. – This is what grossed me out the most about Ecuador! I was calling it ICK!-uador!

However, if my health should take a serious downturn (I had a recent scare) expatriation could become a necessity! I don't qualify for Obamacare and I doubt I'd ever be able to afford Trumpcare. I remember when insurance was unnecessary for a doctor visit or even a hospital stay. This is what our government should be working toward, but that will never happen. There's too many greedy people in power (now even more) to prevent it.

The big appeal of living in the Third World was the affordable health care!

Stay or sell, my house still needs plenty of repairs. Now that my exploratory trips are over, I've been cutting back on everything else to afford it!

A few years ago, the $10,000 neighbors moved in next door. I call them this because that was my cost to keep the peace between us, along with my privacy. Had the previous person not sold, it would have been unnecessary! Life is full of big, unexpected expenses, but I don't need to tell you that!

Now, I'm tackling all those major projects I've put off! Among other things, my badly cracked driveway has finally been replaced along with the walkway.

I asked the man in charge to install the new 10 year batteries I'd purchased for my garage remotes. These old, obsolete models required a special screwdriver to do it. Well, he really messed them up! Afterward, rubber bands were required to keep them closed, plus one door would open only from the inside, and the other would fly up and down like a nervous elevator.

The remotes had to be replaced and I was assured the cost would be a minimal. They were, however the old motor-boards refused to work with the updated models! And this was crazy expensive!

Next, my house needed pressure cleaning, before rotting wood could be replaced and everything repainted.

The latter two, had to wait until the gigantic beehive was removed from under the peak of my 2-story roof. I wanted the hive relocated, rather than destroyed. But the beekeeper said that was impossible and the hive was coming to the end of its cycle anyway. This cost me $350 with my senior discount!

When I told the pressure cleaner this, he shook his head and said if he had known, he would have just given it a good shot with the hose and ran! -- He was the one who first spotted the hive! Why the heck didn't he just do it then?

The pressure cleaner became my house painter. He complained that my 2-story home was actually a 3-story because of my attic. I made certain he had insurance and safety equipment before I hired him.

Also he wanted to change the color of my front door to make it pop. The door & trim are white and I think that pops nicely on my brown wood frame home. A friend suggested a yellow door. I told her that I didn't want a pee-yellow door on my poopy-brown house! So the white stays!

During the work, my smoke detector started beeping. Unable to locate where to remove the battery, even with my strongest pair of Dollar Store glasses, I asked the painter for help. Well, he couldn't figure it out either! So I asked him to get me another at Home Depot since he was going anyway. Also I'd pay him to install it.

The man informed me he did NOT know how to install one. -- I guess he doesn't have a smoke detector in his home! AND he brought back the old beeping one that was driving me nuts!!! (Geez, why didn't he throw it in the store dumpster!) I smashed it repeatedly against the concrete until I could get at the battery to remove it.

Next, I discover a big gob of paint on my bedroom window and screen. The painter removed my screen and took it home to clean it. When he brought it back it was all bent to hell with wide openings on each side as well as beneath where chameleons, bugs, snakes, and lord knows what else could get thru. Plus my window was now difficult to open.

The painter told me not to worry because it looked fine from the outside. "But that's not the issue!" I replied.

I've noticed that if you speak to a worker beyond 10 minutes they tune you out, or outright dismiss you. This irks the heck out of me, it's disrespectful! Of course during the estimate most (but not all) are friendly, polite, even a bit obsequious. However, I did have one carpenter tell me in a condescending tone that he wasn't sure he wanted the job. My jaw dropped. I was thinking, "I'm the decider here, not you, buster!"

Anyway, my painter arrived early one morning to announce that his father had died and he planned to finish up that day. He needed to leave the state and wanted his check, now. Feeling badly for him, I wrote it. He said he'd phone me after he returned. I had hired this person before and was pleased with his work, so I was inclined to trust him.

He worked an hour outside and just left! I thought for sure he would alert me first! Plenty of little touch-up jobs were left undone such as dripped paint on many of my windows, plus a giant paint puddle under my front door, not to mention my bent screen! Later, I discovered places where rotting wood had been painted over rather than removed.

Perhaps I'm getting cynical in my old age, but I'm wondering if his father actually died or was this the adult equivalent of, "I didn't do my homework cause my grandmother died!"  -- I once made up a dark joke based on this concept.  See bottom of page for this joke.

A month passed and he didn't return my call! My financial advisor, Bob phoned and tricked him. The man claimed he had lost my number! -- It's listed in the phone book, or he could have gotten it from the operator, also it's available online.

The work is now completed, but the repairs look patchy to me. However, I'm just glad he came back and finished!

Friends and others are constantly telling me that this big house is just too much for me and I should sell and scale down. But I love this space and the fact it's all mine! Plus I can't abide the thought of strangers parading thru here and touching my stuff! This is where I prefer to spend my last days on earth.

My previous home had a steep hill in the back and it featured a Florida room with sliding glass doors on 3 sides overlooking the St. Lucie River. The river was a mile wide behind the house and one could see for endless miles to the right and left. Visitors used to oooh and ahhh at the sight of it. But I was never happy there!

In this house; I have a 30 ft cathedral ceiling, a big stone fireplace and a loft, all of these evoke the same reaction from guests. And this place still takes my breath away when I walk thru the door even after all these years. Unlike the previous one, this house is 100% mine. Despite hurricanes and difficult people my life here has been one of tremendous happiness.

  

MY JOKE:  
 
A teacher stands sternly before her classroom. "During the 3 days of testing," she says, "no student is allowed absent except for an emergency, such as an illness or death in the family."

In the back of the room, a little boy wildly waves his arm.

"Yes Billy, what is it?" the teacher asks.

"Miss Sourglass, I must be absent, my grandmother is liable to die!"

"Oh poor Billy, you mean your grandmother is ill?"

"No! I mean unless you let me stay out, I'm going to kill her!"

Saturday, April 22, 2017

LUSCIOUS LEMON-FLAVORED MEMORIES


According to the Calypso song: "Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat."  -- Wait a minute! Lemons are NOT impossible to eat! In fact lemon on seafood, chicken, & potatoes tastes like a little bit of Heaven! And lemon meringue pie, mousse & lemon butter on sweet crepes tastes as though I am already there! On a salad, lemon juice tastes better than any dressing out there, plus it makes soggy lettuce crisp!

Sure lemons are sour, but just add sweetening and it becomes extraordinary! I used to make the best lemon bars around. I'd put a layer of shredded coconut between the crust and the lemon mixture, also I was generous with the powdered sugar!

Lemonade was the most refreshing beverage on the planet when I was a child, and if it was pink that made it taste even better.

Anything referred to as "being a lemon" denotes a negative. I've never understood this! That term has always made me salivate. Lemon is a favorite flavor of mine.

To my taste buds, calamondins are sourer. But I used to love snacking on those when we had a calamondin tree at the previous house. Plus our neighbors had a tree that grew lemons the size of grapefruit. We were welcome to help ourselves!  I'm a citrus loving woman! One of the perks of being a Florida girl was having lots of free citrus around.

Lemons are luscious to me, plus they are healthy! Lemon water aids in high blood pressure, respiratory problems, diphtheria, asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, dandruff, throat infections, and they are even said to prevent kidney stones. Also I've read they purge the blood of toxins, fight aging, and depression.

Plus lemons are miraculous when it comes to knocking out migraines! As a former sufferer who spent 3 days of dire pain in bed and could not even keep water on her stomach without throwing up, I found that at the first sign of pain to drink strong black tea with industrial strength lemon. That always reduced the migraine to a temporary mild headache.

Lemons can also be used to soothe poison ivy rash, plus disinfect minor cuts and stop the bleeding.

Not to mention, the numerous practical uses such as bleaching delicate fabrics and polishing tarnished brass and chrome. And I've read that lemons prevent moths and ants. -- However the latter failed to work for me.

During my teens, I'd squeeze lemon juice into my hair trying to make it blonder in the summer sun. Of course this caused more freckles! So after washing I'd apply lemon juice to my skin attempting to fade them. Later, I discovered that Miss Clairol and avoiding the sun worked better in both cases.

I still love lemons in my old age. Unfortunately, they've turned hostile toward me! Thanks to my love of lemons, my acid reflux has returned with a vengeance! Citrus has become a major trigger. (I've also been forced to give up orange juice which I love and calamondins are now a distant memory.)  Any health benefits I might derive from lemons are nixed if my esophagus is destroyed. It's comparable to those who claim alcoholic beverages are healthy despite the damage to your liver and skin, not to mention that it makes you fat and impairs judgment. There's other far better ways to attain good health.

Oh well, I can still use lemons as a cleanser and polish. (Sigh!)