Friday, December 29, 2017

Being a Mensch

This morning I received email from a friend in Israel. I’ve mentioned her before, this bright, warm spirit hoping for a Steinbeck Foundation fellowship. And I dubbed her fittingly as a mensch, a Yiddish term labeling a person as one of integrity and honor.

She replied in the most delightful way, saying it felt like being knighted. In addition, Grace wrote, “I dub you, Darla of the Writingtales a mensch of the first order.”

I Feel Like I've Been Awarded a Gold Star!

How’s that for a great way to start the day?


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Single Digit Temperatures – and – How I Feel Exonerated

Thanks to my partner, I no longer feel quite so silly for having inserted a CD upside down in the player. Yesterday afternoon we shared a brief exchange about the weather and resulting plight of city workers forced to pick up garbage in near zero degree temperatures.

“I don’t know how the garbage men will do it tomorrow.”

“I wonder how they’re handling it today,” I retorted.

“But our garbage pickup is tomorrow.”


In the Spirit, Here's a Delightful View of Our Neighor's Foreclosed House
At Least the Dumpster is Gone
What do you think? Should sanitation workers only have to work one day a week? Perhaps in their own neighborhood?


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Technical Difficulties – or – How Not to Play a CD

I like some of our local radio stations, two of which play some good alternative rock music. The commercials, however, get on my nerves. So I’ve taken to playing my own stuff while tooling about town, whether hooking up my iPod or actually sticking in a compact disk.

The other day I opted for a favorite Marilyn Manson album, The Pale Emperor. Volt fired up, seatbelt buckled, I inserted the disk backing out of the garage. Nothing happened sound wise, then the CD player spit the disk back out.

I tried again. Same thing.

The Outer Cover Has the Coolest Rough Texture
Too Bad it Doesn't Show in the Photo
And No, the Blur Isn't Accidental
Rather than tap it back in I picked up the disk with a ginger grasp, using its center hole and outer edge so as not to smudge the flat surfaces. With a suspicious look at both sides, I flipped the disk over for reinsertion.

Success! I guess the design is too cool for its own good.

Proper Side Up - The Silver Edge Should Have Clued Me In
My question is, how in the world did I put it away upside down?


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Photo Fun with Felines, Take Two

After showing how difficult Jezebel makes photography, I discovered a rare moment with Tilly. And I couldn’t resist sharing.

A Distracted Tilly
That's My Girl, at Her Favorite Water Bowl
Meanwhile, Jezebel Hanging Out...
... and Trying to Blend in to Her Favorite Blanket, Whichever Side is Up

Should I dole out some catnip and encourage a clean, holiday high?


Monday, December 25, 2017

Positive Sparks Monday - The Meaning of Love

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

Merry Christmas! And Best Wishes, Much Joy, and Peace to All the World Over!


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Single Use Tool (Again; Oops) - Kitchen Quiz for the Day

Looking around our kitchen, it seems we have quite a few gadgets good for only one thing. Then again, this one could have more potential like its near cousin. What do you think this is?

Have you ever bought what seemed a clever tool and then failed to use it?


Monday, December 18, 2017

Positive Sparks Monday - Musical Inspiration

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

Despite his fierce, antisocial seeming stance, Brian Warner (aka Marilyn Manson) actually stands for independence. He inspires me to be myself, not try to fit into some mold, and I knew Brainy Quote would have some good stuff. Thanks to that website, I found this:

May you have a magical Monday.


Sunday, December 17, 2017


My mother’s tombstone was installed this month. Dad asked the monument company to please try to have it done before Christmas. They were married fifty-seven years. When I saw the center inscription I bawled like a baby.

Have you ever seen a wedding date inscribed on a headstone? What would you like yours to read?


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Single Use Tool - A Quiz for the Day

Years ago we used to have a lot of fun watching Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats”. One memorable piece of advice is to avoid single use tools.

"Other than fire extinguishers!" he was always careful to add. Though of course you could also fight off zombies with those, I suppose, at least long enough to make an exit. All this brings me to a single use tool my partner bought.

Arrow at Bottom Shows Lock has Been Selected
Any idea what it is? The colors/shape are a big clue.

Strayer made a good suggestion, to share a video! This one is SAMIMCofficial off of Youtube.



Friday, December 15, 2017

Garbage Day

When I want a domestic chore done in this household, I’m on my own. Usually I feel grateful my partner is so lackadaisical about housekeeping as I’d rather write than have gleaming floors. Both siblings are so finicky that those brothers will each clean his respective house instead of spending relaxed time when we visit. Their wives, meanwhile, will sit back with a cup of coffee and chat, the opposite of my childhood experiences.

Yesterday started with a less than thankful heart. The previous night, sick of clutter, I spent the better part of an hour straightening our kitchen. Loading the dishwasher, putting away gadgets, wiping away crumbs and stubborn spills until the counters truly did gleam, I found it felt nice to have nothing on the island counter except the cookie jar from my mother’s childhood home.

The 'Animals' Tag on This Post Isn't Due to These Kittens
Rising around six o’clock the morning following my clean-up, I looked forward to walking out to a pristine kitchen. No doubt you’ve guessed what I found.

Not only were there bread crumbs and sesame seeds around the toaster, there was actual trash upon the opposite countertops (note the plural). I’m talking about an empty cat food can, its lid, the dirty knife used to portion out servings, plus a tea bag wrapper nearer the sink. And for a change my partner picked up the paper plates from the cats’ last meal but, instead of reusing or tossing them, left them next to the cookie jar.

Let me reiterate, they had been on the floor. Now they were strewn over my once clean surfaces. ~sigh~ At least I got things back in order in under a minute. For now…

I can promise you that cookie jar is empty and will stay that way. I’m not rewarding sloth and carelessness with treats.

Update: I did get the requested fast food breakfast and got to stay home from the latest grocery shopping trip. So, we're good.

Are you a neat freak or more laid back like us?


Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Zen Master

After sharing the difficulty of photographing Jezebel, I took a few images of Tilly for comparison. Once she has a lap presented, this cat is the embodiment of Zen, though she honestly doesn’t care one way or the other about being photographed any time or place.

Maybe Santa Should Bring Her a New Blanket for Christmas!
I think this girl is just happy to be alive. You can see evidence of how unflappable she is because I used a flash in the next image.

Sorry This is So Washed Out - I'm Unskilled with Camera Technique
How would you feel having a camera shoved in your face like this?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Seven Days

I’m a huge fan of horror movies, and “The Ring” remains a favorite. The fact an evil spirit will come to get you seven days after you watch her video is too cool. And visual evidence appears in the form of blurry photos, which brings me to Jezebel.

She is notorious for moving whenever the shutter opens. Otherwise, she will lie motionless for hours near my writing chair. Enjoy some prime examples.

Finally, Gotcha!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Lucky Gal’s Whiny Post

I have to go clothes shopping today for better fitting, less ratty pants if nothing else. Maybe some shirts.

The hand-me-down oversized Carhart shirts and ancient pair of shorts I wear to the gym are literally rotting off my body. And my cycling/weight lifting slip-on shoes have a hole above the toes. Even my sleepwear is giving out. At least I’m good on undergarments for now! That’s one less necessity to drain my bank account.

I despise clothes shopping and hate crowds. Wouldn’t normally go to the mall at all but plan to today so I can stop at Hot Topic and check for Palaye Royale merch! Doubt they’ll have clothes in my size, but you never know. And another store I like is right next door.

Anyway, wish me luck. What do you have planned for today?

Where Palaye Royale Writes Their Music
Great Place, No?


Monday, December 11, 2017

Positive Sparks Monday – A New Take on an Old Phrase

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

On Friday I thanked a man for holding a door open as I entered the lobby of a local YMCA, finished with my swim. As I reached the main entrance he gave me what sounded like a standard friendly greeting – “Have a great day” – to which I replied, “You, too!” Then it dawned on me what words he actually spoke and knew I had found my spark for today.

Make a great day!” – Anonymous

Inspired twist on an old phrase, don’t you think?


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fear and Fervor

For someone reticent about publishing, especially amid the industry’s current craziness, I sure woke at 4am obsessed about the topic. Not surprisingly, I focused on artistic elements like writing a logo for my series and the thankful aspect, writing a dedication.

Even less of a shock, I found choosing the correct font the most enjoyable. At first I wanted something that looked like cursive, but the flowery results didn’t fit in with my angst laden erotic tales of treachery and torment. By 6:15am I came up with the following (not sure if the words are unique, but this is just for fun, after all):

It Isn’t for
the Faint of

Despite my having failed to work in the series title (~shakes head~), what do you think?

Cover Created for NaNoWriMo


Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Huge Honor, High Hopes, and a Simple Solution

Never having had a biological sister, several women around the world make me feel as close to that as possible. One of them writes under the name Grace Kahlo, and she emailed me an exciting request a few weeks ago.

Hoping to come to the United States under the Steinbeck Fellows Program of San José State University, she asked me to write a recommendation letter! That honored me so much, almost as much as her response to the results.

Now I can only hope she gets this opportunity. As my letter states through its 387 words Grace is generous, compassionate, intelligent, grateful, and creative. The university would benefit from her presence, I have no doubt.

Reading the web page about the fellowship, I realized that they may well contact me for the recommendation letter. So I figure it’s time I check my email accounts every day. Sometimes I lapse for the better part of a week before checking my Gmail address.

That will not do. Then an idea came to mind. All it requires is to set my browser home page as that account. Done!

Won’t you join me in wishing Grace the best of luck?


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Donald Pleasance – Actor, War Veteran, and… Public Service Announcer?

My partner knows I like actor Donald Pleasance. And I’m especially partial to those brave folks who sacrifice for their nation in times of war. So yesterday I learned how Mr. Pleasance altered his stance as conscientious objector in 1940 after attacks upon London. Also a huge horror fan, I then got to watch this 1970’s era public service announcement.

It is almost poetic while being creepy at the same time. I love it!

Do you sometimes wonder how you survived childhood or were you one of the cautious ones?


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dress for Success

One thing dear friends and co-authors A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder (website is NSFW) taught me about publishing is that you want to have a ‘brand’. And that includes having a certain style for meeting your book fans at conventions.

I remember seeing these ladies get ready for a holiday party with their publisher in my part of the Midwestern United States, how they both regaled me. You see, we usually hang out for a few days out of the year in casual, comfy clothes.

So far I’ve only sold a short story and haven’t had the will to try for more. But my recent online purchase of a butterfly wing patterned dress got me to thinking that it might be the sort of thing I would wear to book signing conventions.

Liz of Laws of Gravity was kind in asking for a photo of me in the dress but I’m still camera shy. So here’s a photograph of the dress after it arrived in the post. It’s hanging over the bathtub because, for some reason, the garment showed up at my house soaking wet.

Garnered Several Compliments
Some From Strangers
Needless to say, I washed the dress before wearing. The fit and length (about mid shin) turned out to be perfect, I’m happy to say.

What do you think of a butterfly themed style for a romance/erotica writer?


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pictures of Health

Today my partner and I hauled our two elderly cats to the veterinary clinic for their yearly check-ups. Both gained a little weight due to someone handing out wet food several times a day but, as my title indicates, are otherwise in great health. I’m ecstatic.

They were very happy to get back in their carriers afterward. Tilly goes right back to normal once home.

Face Plant in the Cat Bed
Jezebel takes a little more time to chill out. At home I immediately dumped my jacket on the bed so I could check the claw marks on my back and shoulder courtesy of pre-exam jitters. Jezzy was on it before I had the antibiotic ointment put away.

Who do you dread seeing more, physicians or dentists?


Monday, December 4, 2017

Positive Sparks Monday - A Smile for the Day

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

Today I’m departing from the idea of an uplifting quote, having decided to share a joke. I hope anyone reading forgives my artistic license and enjoys a laugh to brighten the day.

“Everybody looks cool under a black light. Except for me... because I was under the impression that the mustard stain came out.” – Mitch Hedberg

Rest in peace, Mr. Hedberg. I still miss you. And heroin, I hate you.

Photo Credit - Twitter
Are you familiar with the unique cadence and dry humor of Mitch Hedberg?


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Early Bird Gets to Blog

So an hour ago I wake to what sounds like latex balloons being filled with helium – at precisely 5am. Then I recognize the sound of stripped packing tape and realize my partner decided it was time to open a replacement computer monitor. I stumble across the hall to... um... remark upon the occasion.

Partner: What do you expect me to do at 5am?

Me: Something quieter?

What I Must Have Looked Like
Courtesy of Remington Leith
of Palaye Royale
And yet, still half asleep, I managed to represent my favorite rock band.


Friday, December 1, 2017

OCD, a Little Insane, or Just in Love with My Characters?

I believe I have the most minor, pleasant case of obsessive compulsive disorder possible (though friends tired of hearing about the same music groups during each phase may disagree; Palaye Royale, anyone?).

I'm polishing my short story series for like the thirteenth time and having as much if not more fun as I did writing them. Or maybe I'm just mildly deranged.

Go Ahead, Roll Your Eyes


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Characterization – Or How to Beat Lazy Afternoon Fatigue

The other morning I fulfilled a promise to go grocery shopping with my partner. I even made myself slow down instead of racing through the aisles. That was tough, though it helped listening through headphones to Black Veil Brides.

(stupid food, don’t you know I don’t have time for you during NaNo?)

Andy Beirsack of BVB
At least we left with lots of meals planned. That’s good. But then I drove us home where it took more precious time hauling and stowing all our finds. By one o’clock in the afternoon I had not written a single word toward my National Novel Writing Month project.

That decided me to go back out to a favorite writing location. There’s another market (pricier than where we shopped) with a public use area up on a mezzanine. I have a great time sitting up there above the produce department, spying on shoppers when my eyes and mind need to wander a moment.

It was really fun the day before Thanksgiving. The holiday brought out shoppers I don’t normally see, like the young couple who could not keep their hands off one another. ~leer~ For a moment I thought she might shove him against the strawberry display for a thorough grope.

(but that’s just my vivid imagination, which brings me to the real point)

On the way to the market I felt a creeping fatigue, probably due to the big fat deli sandwich I crammed down my throat while putting away groceries. Oh, and don’t try the blood orange flavored yogurt. Nothing like the fruit, this stuff was a sickly sweet glob of goo.

Anyway, driving through one neighborhood not far from our own I felt half tempted to turn around. However, I was not dangerous behind the wheel and figured writing would wake me up. How delightfully true that turned out to be!

I ended up creating a new character, secondary but with close ties to a main protagonist. As my word count reached the daily goal toward the coveted 50,000 due on November 30th I had lined up my next day’s story arc.
Meet Kyros 'Andy' Andropoulos, Renounced Greek Heir
Thanks to Mr. Christian for Posting his Image
On that note, I’d better get going on that. The hour surpasses my magical 11am starting period. And those words don't write themselves.

What have you been up to today?


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Behind the Times

I have a tendency to hang onto technology way past the point others move on. Take my Kindle Fire, for instance. It still serves me well as an e-reader, web browser, and gaming device. And since I don’t want the ever-connectedness others endure with their smart phones, that Kindle is not going away anytime soon.

However, it almost did. Out and about the other day I left my Kindle behind at a bar. Going right back to the place after a quick confirming phone call, I decided to get it right away instead of waiting until the next day.

The bartender who waited on my partner and me fetched my device from the manager’s office. She had to tease upon handing it over.

“We all wondered how anyone could lose something so big.”

Oh, well. In some circles that would be a compliment. ~wink~ At least I have my toy back. And I moved on from the sixties, unlike some people.

Like the Owner of This Mug, Rob Zombie
Love Your Movies and Music, Man!
Do you hold onto old technology or are you more the sort to shell out for the leading (aka cash ‘bleeding’) edge?


Monday, November 27, 2017

Positive Sparks Monday - Chief Tecumseh

To quote Annie of McGuffy’s Reader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

Thank you to Kyros Christian for sharing this on social media.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Too Many Talented People

It need not be said that the best humor requires no explanation. But when it comes to the talented boys of rock band Palaye Royale I’m willing to break rules. And this gal needs a shout out for her gift with pen and ink.

So, here’s the explanation. The lead singer of Palaye Royale is Remington Leith. His brother, the drummer, goes by Emerson Barrett. You can imagine the cropped nicknames used by fans. And thus we have ‘Rem and Ems’.
Excellent Job, Candy!
Do you like the candy that melts in your mouth, not in your hand? If so, with nuts or without?

Great Likenesses, No?