I don't know if there is a pathology to this, but sometimes my hubs and I get a kick out of reading personals on Craigslist in different cities: places we've never been and are never likely to go.

Being the voyeuer astute observer that I am, I noticed some common things on those ads. OK. I am IN an LTR, I am not single, I hope to never be single again, I'm well into my middle years and I know that I don't have a dog in this fight. So I'll talk to you like you were my own darling daughter, of which I have none, and tell you what an old married woman sees in some of those personal ads.

  • You describe yourself as an outdoorsy, active, tomboyish ball of fire, but you post a picture of yourself in schlumpy, holey yoga pants, sitting on a pink-flowered couch with a foo-foo doggie in your lap and pigtails in your hair. The picture is not working, dear.
  • You say you're looking for a sensitive, intelligent man with a sense of humor. Then you don't bother to proofread your own post, use punctuation, attend to your spelling or complete a sentence. This is your chance to make your very first EVER impression on someone. You're screwing it up.
  • You describe yourself as a BBW or as having great curves, but you post a picture of yourself in an oversized tee and sweatpants. If you have great curves, dress them, show them and be proud. Stand up straight and smile like you mean it. You are beautiful. Quit hiding in a football jerseys.
  • You tell us you're looking for a serious relationship and are done with one night stands. Then you post a picture of yourself with your girls hanging out (probably hanging out with your girls, too, but that's not the point), in some dive bar with a margarita the size of a fish tank in one hand, a cigar in the other and a glazed look in your eyes. WTF?
  • You describe yourself as fun, free-spririted, open-minded and lighthearted. Then you go on to say that your ideal match will be college-educated, at least 6 feet tall, no facial hair, dark hair preferred, must not have children or dogs, must be a vegan, must be a Democrat, must.... must.... must.....   Yeah, honey. You sound like a really open-minded ray of frickin' sunshine.
Maybe you could try posting a picture of you at your very best at this time in your life. In real clothes that actually fit, sober, smiling and without props. Don't let your toddler or your dog take the pix, get someone with some actual taste and discernment to help you. Leave your pet out of the picture, too. It looks like you're trying to use Fluffy as a cover. Don't wear your schlumpy frumpies and console yourself by saying you'll post a better picture when you lose ten pounds. Be your best NOW. Using your prom picture isn't fair if you're over 21; it's more like false advertising.

Tell them what you like, but leave all your dislikes for later in the conversation. It just sounds bitchy when you start a conversation with "I don't like this and I don't like that." When you describe what is important to you in a match, imagine yourself as the reader. How would you like it if a man described his perfect match by her cup size or the size of her ass? That road goes both directions, sisters. You're more than that number on the scale, and so is he.

Online dating is the wave of the future, I hear. OK. That doesn't really change the rules, though. Be nice. Smile. Mind your manners. Leave something to the imagination. Behave like the woman your momma raised you to be (or should have, anyway.) :D

And Happy Hunting!


The Dig

If Arizona were to have our own Mount Vesuvius tomorrow, what would some future archaeologist think when she dug up my house? 
I have been told that I have a redonkulous number of utensils.
Salt (in the red bowl), pepper mill, olive oil and chili-infused olive oil,
and a jar full of Bigelow teas.
I've heard some pretty far-out theories about what ancient objects did or symbolized. Once I heard a guy on PBS say that the comb they had unearthed, which was carved into a stylized bird, meant that the culture worshiped birds. Just because somebody smoothed her hair with a comb shaped like a bird? C'mon, now, really!
An Arizona Coues' Whitetail deer skull.
A favorite wine.
Just for fun, today, imagine you are that future scientist. What would you surmise about the people who lived with these artifacts? These are all pictures of my actual home, or web pictures of something that is in my home. Comments about the disorder of my pantry are not required. Believe me, I NOTICED it.

Tell me what the daily life of those people might be like, or pick one object and tell me what significance it had for the owner. For extra credit, make up some completely different use for one or more of the objects.
No pots on my pot shelf. A light that runs along behind
the (naturally shed) elk antlers makes this look really cool at night.

Bols genever (gin) bottles. They look just like my Auntie and Uncle.
Half my collection of condiments, seasonings, vinegars, dressings, etc. etc.
A memento from our honeymoon.
Tigger looks pretty good for nearly 30.
He's hardly aged a day.
No picture of my house would be complete with the object of
my burning Kitchenaid. Love my Kitchenaid.
A second crock full of utensils. I may have a problem. You might see
me on the special utensil-addict edition of Hoarders?
My shoes. I admit it: they go all the way back under the hanging
things on both sides. Girl's gotta have shoes.

My dresser. Look close: jewelry boxes, old photographs.
A basket of bracelets and one of assorted junk. Wedding photo,
photo album and a Sunday Missal. Plus a flashlight. And dust.
Where it all happens. The games, the dinners, the writing,
family "discussions". I love the triangle design of the table,
but the designers put grooves in the damn thing. I spend my
life sweeping crumbs out of those stupid grooves.
On the wall in my bedroom. The crucifix
on the left is a family heirloom, supposedly
of Civil War vintage. The one on the right
belonged my Dad. Spiders in my house
can often be found building their homes
right there with Jesus.
Don't YOU have an elephant under your potted plants?
An antique wagon with dog toys in it.
And an assortment of computer cables.
Two of the six pantry shelves. They all look as messy as this. :-(

I can't explain.
Our little coffee station.
Why does she lay like this? Oh, I know....because it cracks me up!

Have fun! I can't wait to read your comments!


Katharina Gerlach

Today I'd like to introduce you to a prolific writer and cheerful soul, Cat:
Katharina Gerlach is the author of something like ten books (more in the works), numerous short stories and poems... in other words, I want to be Cat when I grow up. Which will be tricky--she's markedly younger than I am.

Since my blog focuses mainly on getting your happy on, Cat generously offered some of her secrets to keeping a happy heart while she pounds her forehead against the keyboard in typical author's angst. Or wait, maybe that was me with the bloody forehead and the bad attitude? Maybe I better read her post twice.

Now that I've read the post twice, I think Cat has more than great advice here. She has a list of tips that apply to more than just writing. Planning, balance, purpose... they're all things that we need in the whole of our lives. She does a fantastic job of applying those key attributes to a writer's task.

In any case, you will find Cat at Please check out her work today. She's a ray of literary sunshine. She makes me want to get my hands on the home row again and enjoy the process as much as I enjoy the result.

How I stay happy while writing
It’s not easy to write thousands of words without losing the drive a
little on the way. Being an author involves long, solitary hours followed by the hustle and bustle of a new release. To survive all this, it helps to find out what works for you as a writer and what doesn’t. Only then will you be happy with what you’re doing. This is what I do:

1. Plan what you need
As we all know, writing is the first, and often hardest step to
publication. It’s so easy to stare at the empty page of a new document with countless exciting ideas, and not a single word appears on the snowy white surface. Often, this is due to an overflow of ideas. Try to line up which parts of the idea are most useful for the beginning, the middle, the end. If you’re a pantster (someone writing without a plan), at least try to get to know your characters a bit before you write. Talk to them (although people will think you’re crazy if you do it in public) and delve a little into their past. If you’re a planner, don’t plan more than you absolutely need. If you plan too much, you might lose the joy of writing.

2. Find the balance

What? You don’t know if you’re pantster or plotter? Try both and see what works best for you. It all lies in the balance. I hated plotting for the longest time, now I couldn’t do without a solid outline. Still, I never do more than write one short sentence for each scene. I list the characters, indicate the POV, and add a few words on the scene’s purpose. That way, I have a red line to keep me moving through my first draft.

3. Don’t bind yourself too tightly

An outline is just a help. If my story takes a different direction, I stop and rethink my outline. Maybe, the new direction is more interesting, gets my characters deeper into trouble, or illuminates the novel’s theme better. In that case, I revise the outline. For me, nothing is chiseled in stone when it comes to writing.

4. Slow and regular

If you write 500 words a day (and you can do that in less than an hour), 5 days a week, you will finish one novel every year and still have time to spare on revising the monster.

5. Remember why you’re doing this

Put a banner with your favorite saying or a positive thought over your PC or on your desktop, something that cheers you up. Examples: My daughter/son/husband/boyfriend/mother wants to read this by Christmas; it’s her/his favorite present.
I can change everything during revision but I can’t revise without a first draft.
Every day spent without writing is a lost day.

6. Don’t forget to live
While writing is wonderful and can suck up whole days, there is more to life than that. I’ve got a garden and a motorbike, a husband and children, and even the household needs me from time to time (I discovered it doesn’t tidy itself, how inconvenient). Meet people offline and online, and do something where your body starts moving. Sitting in front of a PC for too long can be dangerous to your health (that said, I’d better go for a walk with the dog. It’s already begging again).

These are the rules I use to keep me going, and I’m an extremely happy person. Is it despite my writing or because of it? I haven’t got the slightest idea. Why don’t you try the tips I shared and let me know how they work for you?

Thanks for reading,

And thank YOU, Cat, for being my guest today! I love your tips, and I agree with each of them. My favorite one is #2: Find the Balance. Balance is my favorite word!

Happy writing, and I'll see you in the blogsphere!




(blushing shyly)

I've been interviewed. As an author! By a bona fide professional writer and AUTHOR!! Which is somehow more flattering than being interviewed by a five-year-old. Oh, it was very cool. It ranks right up there with guacamole, bacon and white merlot. It was also very fun and occasionally serious.
My PhotoThe Sarcasm Goddess did the interview and you'll find it on her blog 4theluvofwriting. Please go over there and visit. She asked me one of the most challenging questions of my life. It's one I'll be pondering for the rest of my years, probably, and I doubt I'll ever know if I made the right choice. (And I hope I never find out!)

Go check it out!


The Visitor

It's been a long time since I had a child in my house. I had a visit from a five year old girl yesterday. My mind went tumbling back to when my own children were small.

Tiny hands
Crumbs on the floor
An endless stream of happy chatter, bouncing from one subject to another
Simple declarations: I like that because it's shiny, I don't like her (The evil queen from Snow White), That looks pretty, She's a good puppy. The world is black and white for a child; shades of gray don't appear until later.
Funny faces: can you touch your nose with your tongue? I can't, but she can.

We don't have television, which baffled her. I don't know anything about Dora or Elmo's World. Well, I didn't before. She didn't know about Nutella on a cracker, but now she does. I'm sure her Mommy will thank me for that later, right? She hadn't seen a magnifying glass before. She doesn't understand why my fingernails don't wash off when I do the dishes.

"Your children are big grown up men? But where are your children?"
"They grew up, honey. Just like I did, and just like you will."

"My brother was a fat baby."
"Were you a fat baby?"
"NO." (giggle giggle giggle)
"I was a fat baby. I was so fat my big sister could hardly reach her arms around me."
(she almost falls off the chair laughing at that) "But you're not fat now."
"I guess I grew into my fat."
(that got a belly laugh)

"Can I have an orange?"
"Of course you may." A small child eating an orange makes exactly the same sound as a cow pulling its foot out of the mud and is nearly as messy... but a whole world cuter.

"Where are your children?"
"I think they went to the gym."
"Maybe you should have more children, since yours are all grown up."
"I'll have to talk to my husband about that. You may have an idea there." And now it's my turn to almost fall off the chair, laughing.



An Indie Author

Smashwords is hosting "Read an Ebook Week" starting tomorrow. It's an opportunity for readers to get discounted or free ebooks in pretty much any genre they like. Both of my books will be there for free.

I published both of my books first with Smashwords and then added Amazon. I did a lot of research before I made that decision, and I am so pleased with the choice I made. Smashwords has been great to work with, and unless something changes, they will continue to be my first choice. I decided to go the self-published ebook route because:

  1. I have stories to tell.
  2. After long thought, I decided I don't have time or desire to try to woo a big, traditional press. I have a demanding day job and an intense dislike for cameras. The day may come when I'll feel differently, but for today the ebook is the way to go for me.
  3. I have complete control of my work. Every word, every idea, the cover, the price and the coupons are all my own. Any typos you find are also mine. 
  4. I have stories to tell. That's really it. 
As a reader of ebooks, especially self-published ones like mine, there are things you can do to make that e library a better one.
  1. Forget outdated ideas about "vanity presses". There are a large number of authors out there who were successful with mainstream publishing and are now self-publishing. They have manuscripts that were rejected because they didn't fit the needs of the publisher, not because they aren't great books. Authors get to keep complete control of their work with self-publishing, and you get to see the story THEY want to tell. 
  2. Leave reviews. Please! Give us stars and your honest opinions. If you got the book for free, please understand that the author is working on getting their book noticed. If you accept the book for free, the polite thing to do is to at least give it star rating before you move on to the next book. Your ratings push good books higher in the search ranks and let them be found easier, plus they encourage us to keep writing. Negative reviews are important, too. I have seen some ebooks that were atrocious. Dreadful spelling and horrid grammar DO need to be pointed out. Always play nice, though. Even a bad review shouldn't contain any profanity or personal attacks.
  3. Talk about the books you like. If you are a member of Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari or some other social book site, talk. Tell your friends and co-workers. The biggest encouragement you can give to an author whose work you like is positive feedback and book sales.
Happy reading, everyone, and I'll see you at "Read an Ebook Week"!

What I See--Alita

Oh, Alita! What can I say? We've known eachother for so many years! Alita and I became acquainted first because our husbands worked to...