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All those Memories

I remembered them, those television stars of the sixties and seventies. They all three died this last week: Tim Conway, Doris Day and Peggy Lipton.  I was much too young to appreciate Lipton’s career as an undercover detective in Mod Squad, but did see her a couple times on Twin Peaks when I was channel surfing and didn’t have anything better to watch, ( I was never a big ABC or Twin Peaks fan).

Tim Conway, on the other hand killed me on The Carol Burnett Show. His antics and improvisation was intense and insane. The characters he created are timeless. I can’t remember their names, but did remember the hijinks, the slapstick and his whimsical expressions that left me in stitches.

Doris Day had her own TV show and it was more like what Lucille Ball did at that same time, though I doubt they were competing. I also remember seeing her on a couple of non-musical movies that were funny. I heard her sing a pair of oldies songs she did back in the forties and fifties. Later on, I guess she was into the animal rights cause. She lived a long life, as did the other two.

I was struck by something a news commentator said about Doris Day. That she wasn’t into self-grandising and somehow felt guilty by her celebrity. The reason that struck me as odd was that no one that I know forced her to be a singer and later an actress. The roles she played were not thrust upon her with a gun to her head. She sought those roles and went out of her way to sing those songs in a recording studio. Her final wishes were that she didn’t want the trappings of her stardom; a monument, or even a grave marker to show where she’s buried, if that was what she wanted.

I would imagine, my generation is the last that even remembers Doris Day because this new generation could care less. She is a historic asterisk from a time way before them.

Those people are a part of my collective memory now and will be there when I breathe my last breath. They made me appreciate their talent, laugh at their wit, and was spellbound by their abilities. I will miss them.

New Story

As I struggled with getting my printed version of  Edge of Darkness printed, I was also working on another story called “Road Rage” to add to the next book of short stories, Lost Highway. This whole book is an attempt to get the reader caught up what happened since the Four Seasons series with the characters and the events that occurred.

In Road Rage, Chrystal is on her first assignment as a FBI agent and is partnered with Anne Murphy, formally Sister Anne. They are assigned to an apparent road rage incident in Greensboro, North Carolina. The DA there, thinks it is racially motivated and wants to cover his butt. Both agents’ mission is to treat this as a civil rights violation and are given a list of persons of interest who have ties to white supremacist groups. Obviously, that list is missing the actual murderer.

I decided to do this project as I was finishing up with organizing the Clockmaker and the Red Widow series, and realized it was lacking a third book that would stand out as a way of getting the reader caught up on everything. This book would be wedged in between Clockmaker and Red Widow. I also reorganized those books to make it fit with the linear plot scheme of both characters.

Hopefully, this will leave the reader feeling satisfied with what I wanted to achieve. I hope, you, my loyal readers will feel the same.

My Problems with Kindle Direct Publishing Continued…

As many of you remembered from my efforts last year, I had serious formatting issues that prevented me from publishing my first book. I eventually stopped the project and reinvented it so it would be a better seller than what I first proposed.

My partner allowed me to continue on this path and we came up with three novella-type short stories in a pocket-book package and he is almost completed with the first one, Edge of Darkness.

The other day he had me go over the preview and once I checked it off, I could set the pricing and it would be ready. But, once again there are issues. There aren’t as many, mind you, but those two problems are frustrating me and my partner. I’m convinced it has to do with KDP, not with us, though I’m certain the people there would disagree.

If the one area of concern wasn’t an integral part of the plot, I wouldn’t worry about it, but it is. The other part isn’t so much, though it kind of sets the stage for what happens in the second story.

Next week, we’re going to try to upload the book again to see if the bleeding over the margins continues. If it does, then I guess we try and get hold of KDP and see if they have a solution.

What a Character

Last Wednesday I had my fiction writers club meeting and we had our lecture of the month, a topic I absolutely love, characters.

Where I’m concerned, character trumps plot every time. It is the main character who you either fall in love with or hate with a passion. He or she is the antithesis of how the writer thinks, or wants to move the story to its logical conclusion.

Character, in other words, make the story possible. The writer can create a world that is fanciful, magical or practical. He has to sell the character as being believable and a living breathing part of that setting.

The characters drive the plot, devises plans and strategies, gets his revenge on the antagonist and is either a hero like Huck Finn, or a villain like Dracula.  The character falls in love, develops relationships with other characters and defines who he or she is through their actions, dialogue or reaction.

The plot rarely drives the character because it becomes a boring text if done wrong. I never cared for Moby Dick or the later Michener novels because they lacked a solid and dynamic character I could relate to.

That is why when I developed the Mark Marteau character, I used several high school friends plus my best childhood friend to pull both positive and negative qualities from. The other characters, I hatched from my imagination for the most part, but always with an emphasis of believability and teaching Mark valuable life lessons.

This last book with Mark Marteau will be his swan song; his raison d’être (reason for being) before bidding him farewell.

I will then create a whole new series of books with new characters to create stories around. I have a science fiction book that I haven’t finished yet. Maybe I’ll start work on that.

 

Mueller Report Exposes much about nothing

Unlike many of my fellow Democrats, I’m not seeing this Mueller investigation as more than what was that concerned the Starr investigation twenty years ago under Clinton. All this was, after it is said and done was that maybe there is something for the Congress to investigate further.

Frankly, it’s another example of allowing our Congress to not do the people’s business and further sowing the seeds of discontent among voters. We are so divided, politically that any little spark could potentially throw this entire country into civil war.

I knew there was not going to be much in the way of the Mueller Report. His conclusions where there was a conspiracy to influence the presidential election between the Trump campaign and Russia, was if anything proof Trump hired stupid people to be around him. But, no wrong-doing was ever in the mix.

As far as obstruction goes, it was more about Trump being stupid by trying to get the Justice Department to end this “witch hunt” as he liked to call it. Fortunately for him, those people said no, let the investigation continue.

The Mueller Report made it very clear there was no “collusion” because, collusion is not a crime, conspiracy is, and Mueller didn’t find that to be the case, though the players involved were very unscrupulous, with dubious pasts.

Mueller found instances where there might have been obstruction or offenses considered to have obstruction, but refused to conclude that crime was actually committed; leaving that for the Congress to decide. Just as they did with the Starr investigation when they attempted to impeach Bill Clinton and his involvement with Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater.

So what now? The Republicans think Trump is vindicated, while the Democrats are looking at impeachment for any number of alleged crimes Trump may have committed these past two plus years.

Like Starr, though, it’s much ado about nothing and nothing will get done these next two years. Let the bickering, backstabbing and investigations begin!

Shattered Dreams

“Come on honey, come fetch the ball!” I heard her calling me. I felt my tail wag with eagerness, and I ran to the blue rubber ball, soft and pliable, with bite marks and her scent. “Good girl! That’s my girl,” I run back to her and I see her pretty face smiling down to me…

It was just a dream and I slowly awaken and realized I’m still in my penpen. It’s a hard-plastic structure with a wire gate that is secured, and I am unable to open it with my paws. The human animal that put me here and left me out in this field surrounded by trees and other animal sounds, like birds, chipmunks and squirrels. They chatter and tweet and caw.

“Arf, arf, arf,” I replied. I whimpered and tried digging myself out from this box, but all I’ve succeeded in doing is marring the plastic. I’m so hungry and thirsty. How long ago did he abandoned me here? Days? Weeks? I just don’t know anymore. Why didn’t he just kill me and not let me suffer like this?

I’m so cold.

It started last month. My mistress picked me from my litter of brothers and sisters. I was the runt, but my mother loved me regardless. I played and wrestled, and I saw her. She smelled nice and her smile was so pretty. I ran up to her. Pick me! Pick me!

She did and I went home with her. She let me play with her. We played fetch the ball, wrestled as I playfully bit her with my baby teeth and pulled on her long, wavy hair. Then, he came home. His scent warned me he was no good. Why is she with him? He smells evil. I immediately saw his jealously; his hate toward me.

“I told you I didn’t want no damn dog!” I heard him yell at her.

“But, honey, he’s so cute and adorable! Can’t you just give her a chance? I’m gonna name her Dancer. Look how she dances about. Can’t we keep her?”

“Oh, alright. But the moment that mongrel pisses me off, she’s out of here.”

“She’ll be good, I promise.”

I didn’t understand their talk. I just used my smell to figure out this man and what his true intentions were. I sensed he was evil and there was no changing him. I made it a point to steer a wide path around him.

At first my strategy worked. I stayed near her and avoided him at all costs. He left every morning and at night he arrived here where he sat on his chair and watched human figures inside a box interacting in curious ways. I watched it and barked at it.

“Shut up! I’m trying to watch TV.” He yelled down at me. I ran away to the blanket on the foot of the bed where I laid and curled up, whimpering. She came to my side and said soothing things to me.

“It’s okay dear. He’s a tired man when he gets home from work. You want to go for a walk?”

I immediately got up and wagged my tail vigorously at her, licking her face. She giggled. She placed a leash upon my collar, and we went outside. I led the way, sniffing the ground in front of me. We found our way to a park where human children played. They all came up to me wanting to hold me and play with me. At first, I felt frightened, but then I relished the attention and didn’t want to leave this place.

I had wonderful dreams after that experience. But then my master; why did I call him that? Nemesis is a better word. Because he harbored nothing but ill-will toward me. That day he tried to feed me. I wouldn’t have anything to do with him. He teased me by offering a morsel of food, but then pulling it back, making me angry. I barked at him in frustration. Finally put it out to me again. Rather than attack the food, I attacked his retreating hand. I drew blood.

“The little shit bit me!” I ran from him, scare of what he would do next. He caught up to me at my blanket that smelled so much like her. He pulled me up by the scruff and something hit me that hurt so much, I blacked out.

I don’t know when I woke up next, but I realized it was dark and I was alone inside this box. I tried digging myself out, but the plastic this thing is made of, doesn’t permit it. It’s almost like that human monster designed and made that box just for me. I had to go so badly. I finally had to relieve myself, messing my fur and It smelled so bad.

It stung my skin The box is too cramped for me. I wimpered for both my mommies.

Where was she at? Why hadn’t she come and gotten me? I smell her as if she’s right there with me. Only then did I realized the blanket was placed on the top of my cage. It was then that I realized I was not going to be rescued.

“Arf, arf, arf.” I cried out over and over again. I continued trying to dig my way out. I even tried undoing that blasted latch with my bloodied paws. Only other animals bothered to come by and investigate. Once their curiosity was sated, they walked away.

The other night a cougar came by, pawing at my cage. I whimpered and cried. He lost interest and went away.

I am so hungry now, so thirsty and so tired. I’m so cold, I shivering. I think I’ll sleep now and dream of happier times with her and the park and the human children who loved me…

END

Old Man Lifting

As many of my loyal readers know, I’m over sixty and because I had a stroke some time ago, I am very limited in my physical abilities. Recently, my workplace reminded us of using proper lifting techniques.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with lifting with the knees and not the back. I’m being a devil’s advocate here by stating us older people just don’t have the strength in our knees anymore. More and more of us have a hard enough time just bending our knees to sit in a chair.

So, what is one to do? I have found my ability to lift anything over ten pounds is a struggle. I’ve had to set personal limits as to how much I can lift. My knees won’t work like they used to, and I fear popping a knee-joint more than straining my back muscles. I think most people my age feel the same way. I have found lifting less and using both back and knees have been more beneficial.

OSHA came up with recommendations on proper lifting techniques, not least of which is thinking about what you are doing prior to even doing it.

How much can I lift?

How safe is the area I moving the object to?

Are there safer ways to move this item without lifting?”

My advice is to seriously consider every possible scenario and use proper lifting techniques only when there are no other options at your disposal. Why lift something when it can be moved on a dolly or cart? And above all else know your limitations.

I’m sixty-years-old and can’t possibly lift what used to ten years ago. It’s not just because of the stroke I had, but the very nature of my own physiology. I’m not as strong as I used to be, and my joints aren’t as pliable as when I was younger. I certainly can’t bend down anymore. It’s nearly impossible to get down on my hands and knees, and then try to get up. My back has stooped a bit, though I constantly fight that. My knees, shoulders and hips are achy.

It’s called our golden years. I think they’re lying.