Tuesday, September 30, 2014

anyone lived in a pretty how town

My Uncle John died yesterday, making me wonder if Aunt Helen can live without him. Both were/are in their mid 90s. They lived long, healthy, happy lives and were blessed with five children, and I don’t know how many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
My uncle preformed my marriage in the Seattle temple and gave me my patriarchal blessing. (Don’t know what that is? Call a Mormon missionary. He/she will be happy to talk to you.) My Aunt Helen always called me “pal”, and helped me make a quilt that I gave to my husband as a wedding present.
They had a garden, and a cow, and a house on several acres. At one time, they lived in white Victorian that backed onto a river. Sometime back in the 60s or 70s, they built a house across the street, and they have been there ever since. Until now.
I’m thinking about them today, and this poem. (It’s one of my favorites.)

anyone lived in a pretty how town

E. E. Cummings1894 - 1962
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Right One

Today I have RM Alexander on my blog!


Big dreams take strength and determination.

Cami Lockhart’s dream is on the verge of becoming a reality. Lockhart Sanctuary, a refuge for abused and confiscated cats, is what Cami has worked for her entire life. But a dream that big requires a daily commitment. Cami yearns for someone to share the dream with, and knows everyone in town thinks Alex is the perfect man for the job. There’s one problem. She wants fireworks with every kiss, not just a friendship with a hint of something more.

Sometimes what you wish for is closer than you think.

Alex Reynolds shares Cami’s passion for the sanctuary, and at her head ranchhand, spends every day helping her dream come true. He longs to tell Cami she’s held his heart since childhood, but losing a lifetime of friendship is a big risk to take. Being by Cami’s side at the sanctuary is better than letting go, but Alex knows someday he’ll want more.

Risk losing everything or fight for the dreams to come true.

The sanctuary is put in jeopardy when ignored threats take a painful turn. Cami and Alex must each chose to stand and fight, or lose everything they dream of.

Outside, Alex accompanied Cami through the outdoor enclosure, and she noticed how quiet he was. Maybe the apology wasn’t enough. But that’s not like him. She hitched a leg over a fallen tree, knowing she wouldn’t remove it. Regellius and his penmates would have a ball climbing and sharpening their claws against the wood. Natural enrichment was the best. Swinging the other leg, she glanced over a shoulder, catching him watching her, a strange sort of smile and even weirder gaze clouding his eyes. Dropping to the ground, she turned as he strode to the tree and stopped short of hurdling it. 
“Everything okay?”
He shrugged, leaning against the tree with crossed arms. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
“Don’t know. You’re acting ... off. Ever since you came back outside.”
He shook his head. “You ever wonder if there’s something to everyone’s suspicions about us?”
She nearly choked. Where’d that come from? Cami leaned against the tree. “What, Alex, I’m not ...”
“Hey, forget it. Just a question. It’s not important.”
“No, wait. It’s just, we’ve always been friends. I thought that was it for us.”
“Yeah, I know. And you’re right. But sometimes, you’ve got to wonder what everyone is seeing.”
“Do you?”
“Me?” He took his hat off, ran a hand over thick strands of hair. “I guess. Sometimes. I mean, are we missing something?”
“You think we are?”
“Maybe.” Cami backed up as he hurdled over the tree. Alex pushed a hand through her hair, traced a cheek, and her legs wobbled. “Don’t you ever wonder if we’re missing out on something with one another?”
He dropped his head against hers, Cami’s face tingling as he breathed softly against her skin. “Might be worth exploring.”
She smiled with pursed lips. “Alex, what are you doing? This is so not like you.”
“How do you know? Maybe it’s a lot like me.”
“Never with me.”
“Could be with you.”
His lips grazed a cheek, and she shied backwards. “What are you doing?” The words escaped in a hoarse whisper.
He stepped closer, not giving her an inch. “Do you want to find out? With me?”
Something cracked, loud and snapping, in the distance and the trance lifted as they turned toward the house.
“What was that?” Everything in her head felt fogged and jumbled.
Every muscle in his body tensed, and she sensed the change electrifying the space between them.
Alex took her hand. “Sounded like gunfire. Who’d be shooting?”
Her eyes grew wide, the realization hitting her like a ton of bricks. Of course gunfire. She should have recognized it, it was part of her training before the cats came, just in case of the worst. She was no marksman, but no one forgot what a shot sounded like. “The cats.”

Author Bio: 
RM Alexander is an author of Sweet / Clean Romances that are sometimes contemporary, sometimes paranormal or suspense, but are always ruled by the heart of true romance.
With characters who look for love in wrong places and are victims of the worse kind of betrayals while fighting for what they want and believe in, RM's novels promise a good read with unexpected twists and turns.
When she's not writing, RM is spending time with her husband and two small children in Michigan. She loves to travel, especially to Walt Disney World, and can often be found on Twitter or Facebook chatting with other authors and fans.
Author Links: 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Green Cat Incident (or why even moms sometimes need to be sent into time-out)

One boring afternoon, my almost three year old daughter decided to paint our cat green. I admit, I was partly to blame for this disaster. After all, I had left the cat, child and a tube of acrylic paint alone in the same room. Of course a budding artist would squeeze paint all over our cat, Bengal.

The cat did not appreciate her new look, and tried to lick it off. Within moments, Bengal had a green frothy tongue and mouth. I realized that left to herself, she would likely die of poisoning. Even though I wanted to reprimand my daughter, I had no choice but to give the cat a bath. (After I put all paints up and out of reach.)

Bengal enjoyed her bath about as much as I enjoyed giving it to her. And just so you know, it’s really hard to get green acrylic out of cat fur. It took a while.

I could hear my daughter and her baby brother in the other room. I had left Nathan, who was about six months old, strapped in a bouncer. He fussed, but since I knew he was securely caged and that there wasn’t paint in reach, I thought he would be fine.

As I washed the cat, my anger also washed away and my sense of humor returned. The baby even stopped fussing. I bundled up the wet cat in a towel, carried her outside to let her lick away her trauma, and returned to find an entire box of Cheerios dumped all over Nathan.

I really think that if I hadn’t had that moment (I won’t call it peaceful, because I wouldn’t recommend cat bathing to anyone in need of relaxation and reflection) But if I hadn’t had the break from the commotion, I know I would have responded differently, and with a lot more anger.

As it was, I was able to see that my daughter had been only trying to make her brother happy, and more importantly, she had succeeded. Nathan was delighted to be surrounded by Cheerios. The only person unhappy at that moment was me. (Although, we should consider the cat. Bengal was not happy.)

I’m not advocating leaving your children alone so you can do something as calming as bathing your cat, but I do know that sometimes when someone makes you angry, taking a few minutes to regain your sense of humor can really help when you have to clean up the dumped Cheerios.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Jerks on the Bus. How to Handle Bullies

My son attended our local elementary school. For five happy years he walked down the hill to join his teachers and friends. Because my house backs on to the school, I could watch him at recess on the playground from my upstairs bedroom window. This bliss ended when he started junior high and had to ride the bus.
Turns out, the problem started even before the bus arrived. Because we had so many kids in our area, our one stop filled the bus. Imagine fifty-or-so 12 to 14 year olds gathered at the park every morning while waiting for their ride. Bedlam was guaranteed.
One afternoon on our way to soccer practice, my son told me that some of the older boys were stealing lunch money from the younger kids.
“One kid wouldn’t give them the money,” Adam told me. “So, they held him down, took off his shoe and threw it out the window.”  
My daughter, piped in and said, “Look! There’s a shoe!”
And sure enough, there in the gutter was one shoe.

Because we live in an area of status symbol sneakers, I knew how important and expensive shoes could be. I also knew how humiliating it must have been for this child to have to attend school with only shoe.
I went home and did what I thought any parent would do. I called the school, told them of the situation, expressed my disappointment, outrage, and issued a few threats. The school thanked me and promised changes would be made. Then I called my mom friends who also had children riding the bus.
Did they share my outrage? Yes. Did they congratulate me on calling the school? No. They thought I had made a colossal mistake.
“Are they taking Adam’s money?” one friend asked.
“No, but that shouldn’t matter,” I replied.
“You just made Adam a target,” she replied.
Other mom friends agreed. I had unwittingly set my son up for retaliation.
Now, seriously concerned, I called my mother-in-law. After I explained the situation, she said, “There are jerks on the bus, and there are jerks in life. He has to learn how to deal with the jerks on the bus so he later he can deal with the jerks in the office, in the courtroom, or at the hospital.”
Fortunately, the school heard my complaints and took the situation seriously. For the remainder of the school year, a police officer not only waited at the bus stop, but he also rode the bus to and from school. I don’t think the mini-extortionists ever learned that Adam’s mom was the whistle-blower.
But I did have a conversation with Adam. I told him that if those boys were grown-ups, and if they had been caught, they would go to jail. I explained to him that he went to school not only to learn how to read and write, but also to decide what kind of person he wants to be when he grows up.
The bullies on the bus were learning how to intimidate. Because I knew the neighborhood, I knew those boys weren’t stealing because they needed money. The only kids going hungry were the kids whose lunch money was stolen. The bullies might have even believed they were stealing for the money, but I don’t think they were. I think they intimidated and bullied because it made them feel powerful, meaning that there had to be something or someone in their life that made them feel powerless.

Every day, whether we’re on a bus, in an office, courtroom, hospital or at home, we have the chance to decide what kind of person we want to be—where we find our power and joy. Some people are still, literally and figuratively, throwing other people’s shoes out the window, because, as my mother-in-law once so wisely said, “There are jerks on the bus, and jerks in the world.” And we have to learn how to live with them.

 (This is a picture of me and grown-up Adam. We're still close.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kids. If They Live in our House, Why do They Speak a Different Language?

When my son braved the brand new world of kindergarten, he learned that most words were “good” and some were “bad.” This new concept shocked him, and he wanted me to list all the “bad” words so that he would know what he could and could not say on the playground or in the classroom.
Not having a potty-mouth, I didn’t know how to respond. Finally, I came up with this solution. “If it’s a word that you’ve never heard me say, then you know it’s probably not a good word.” A few days later, my son returned home and said, “Mom, I’ve never heard you say the word oviparous, does that mean I shouldn’t use that word?”
We had hit a language barrier, and it wouldn’t be the last or only time. Fast forward four years and my son is on the swim team. One afternoon, he climbs out of the pool and tells me that he needs a G-string.
“Well, you need to talk to Dad about that,” I tell him.
He frowns. “Can you talk to him? And tell him I need a long one.”
Huh. He has a speedo, a towel, a pair of goggles, a swim cap—does he really need a G-string? An extra long G-string?
The next day on our way from swim practice, we have an almost identical conversation, except for this time, my son is bordering on panic. “I need the G-string!” he tells me, his voice quivering, and then he adds, “My concert is tomorrow.”
Then it hits me. He needs a G-string for his violin. That I can do. I’m a frequent shopper at the music store. We stop on our way home and get the G-string.
Sadly, our language barriers haven’t always been so easily bridged. I haven’t always been able to help my son with what he needs, because sometimes I didn’t understand, and sometimes he didn’t know how to tell me what he needed, because he didn’t even know for himself.
Life and love is like that. And the best we can do is to keep listening, and talking, even if sometimes we feel like we’re talking different languages.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Finding the Right Writer's Group

I wrote this blog post more than four years ago:

Almost three years ago I joined two writers groups. I had found both on the internet. The first group consisted of retired women, mostly my senior. We met in a lovely home in Newport Beach on the beach every Monday afternoon. The second group, the Orange County Fictionaires, met every other Wednesday evening in a room on the eighth floor of a hospital. I had to audition and be voted in. So, I began in January of 2007 to attend both groups. I’d been looking for a writing group for a long time. I’d taken a number of classes and I was looking for more individualized attention. I was excited about giving and receiving feedback.

I went to one meeting in Newport and came home feeling, for a number of reasons, ambivalent.

For Fictionaires, I had to send in my material for an initial screening. If approved, I had to attend three meetings, and participate in critiquing members' work. On the third meeting, I had to read aloud and be critiqued.  after which I would leave and be voted in or out. After my first meeting, I loved the Fictionaires. I found the members to be insightful, talented and witty, and I really wanted to join.

For the Newport group, I had to print out a copy of my work, but on the second week I had a printer problem and so I asked a woman, the hostess, if she’d mind printing out my work if I e-mailed it to her. She obliged, but somewhere in cyberspace, all my indentations and quotation marks were lost (through no fault of my own). She suggested that I didn’t belong in the group since I obviously didn’t know how to use my grammatical markers. I went to the meeting feeling annoyed with her and cyberspace. When I arrived, no one was there.

Now I was seriously miffed and offended. I continued to my outrage for a day or two, but after some time came an overwhelming relief which puzzled me. I sent an e-mail thanking the Newport group and suggesting that their time schedule wouldn't work with mine. A few days later I found a message on my cell phone left on the day when I’d found no one at home in Newport telling me that our hostess had gone to the hospital. I hadn’t been stood up, but still the damage was done and I was glad and a little concerned. Remember, it would be at least a month before I would know if I’d be accepted into Fictionaires, and I still really wanted to belong to a critique group.

While running with my comedian son one morning, I related the incident to him and admitted I couldn’t understand my feelings. I really wanted a writer’s group, why would I be relieved that one hadn’t worked out? I had learned from previous classes that just reading my work aloud helped tremendously, and that I had something to learn from everyone. (I still believe that every single person has something valuable to teach.) Nathan, who had to read his material before a committee each time he preformed, told me that it was always stressful to share his work and that if I didn’t value their opinions, why should I suffer the stress?

I felt somewhat better until my turn to read in Fictionaires arrived. It was a cold February night. I brought a large chocolate cake. I remember one woman told me “I’ll never tell anyone that they can’t write,” and I wondered if she wanted to tell me that I couldn’t write. I read my work and then the critique began. I felt like I’d been surrounded by a friendly group of terriers who had morphed into pit bulls. After a few minutes of their helpful and hurtful comments, I stopped taking notes. I left completely discouraged, but by the time I got home I had a telephone call welcoming me to the group.

It's been 7 years since I joined Fictionaires. They are still insightful, witty and talented, and I’m grateful to be in their number. The adventure didn't stop there. I wrote this blog post in November of 2010:

I’m lucky for many reasons. One of the reasons I’m lucky is I get to spend large junks of time doing what I love to do and I have friends who love to do the same thing. I belong to Orange County Fictionaires. I’m on the bottom of the success totem pole, although, next year I’ll be the president. You maybe wondering why. It’s a fair question, and I don’t know the answer, but here’s what happened.

Two Wednesdays ago, after a long, tiring day and an afternoon spent with piano students who hadn’t practiced, I stood in my kitchen stirring chili. “I’m thinking of not going to my writing group tonight,” I told Larry.


There were ample reasons, lack luster piano students, chili to be eaten, TV to watch, but I said, “It’s the time of year they chose next year’s officers, and I’m afraid they’ll want to make me president.”

“Why would they make you president?”

I thought about this and realized this was a very good question. After all, Jackie's published more than 80 novels, Neal has a movie deal and last year I made $50 by placing second in a contest. Why would they want me to be president? And, further more, we already had a president for next year – Ben, this year’s vice-president and president elect. 

I ate some chili, and went to my meeting, happy. I was happy until the break when Ben announced he is moving to Colorado. No president elect. James, this year’s president, looked at me and said, “There’s no one else.” This is not true. I balked, but after a few minutes of arguing, caved.

Why don’t I want to be president of Fictionaires? Another fair question. It’s a great group. I’m in noble, talented company, and I’m honored to be among them. But, frankly, I’m tired of being at the bottom. I’m tired of the unflagging writing rejection. I’m tired of trying so hard and placing second. In fact, it’s reasonable to say that if I hadn’t been asked to be president of Fictionaires, I may have stopped going. 

I wouldn’t have stopped writing, since that began when I was eight. But, there are times when I certainly want to stop trying.

And so, I took my turn serving as president. And every few weeks, I take my turn reading my stuff. They tore down the hospital where we used to meet. We now meet in an upper room of a Catholic church. Obviously, I  haven't stopped writing. Since I wrote both of these blog posts, I've published 11 books. I plan on publishing three more stories (one novella, one short story, and one novel) before the end of the year. Would I have done this without Fictionaires? I really don't know.

Writing is solitary enough. I'm glad I don't have to do it completely alone.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Miranda Goes to Montevideo

Today, my nineteen year old daughter Miranda should arrive in Uruguay. She’s been on my mind since the moment she left. And she left on Wednesday. Today is Friday. Yes, it’s taken this long. She flew to Dallas and from Dallas to Miami. And that’s where things went south—figuratively, unfortunately not literally, as they were supposed to.  Because of a delayed flight, Miranda had to spend the night in Miami—she arrived at her hotel at 4:30 a.m.  The next flight to Montevideo wasn’t until mid-night, giving her an entire day at the Miami airport.
She’s flown alone before, but never internationally.  Of course, my mother’s heart wanted to be there with her. As soon as I learned of her delay in Dallas, I wanted to join her, to walk her through all the long lines, to show her all the hoops that airports can try and make you jump through, and to make sure that her unexpected hotel room in Miami was a safe place to stay.
But I couldn’t do that. All I could do was fret from my corner of the world while she tried to navigate through hers.
Kahlil Gibran wrote:
On Children
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Everyone who enters is automatically signed up for my newsletter and gets a chance to win my YA time travel romance, Beyond the Fortuneteller's Tent (which is a 2014 I Heart Indies finalist! I'll find out if it wins in October. Can't wait!) Also, if you want a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card, leave your email address in the comments below.

Also, my mystery novel (with strong romantic elements) The Rhyme's Library is free until Sunday. It was a 2014 Kindle Book Review semi-finalist.
I hope that you enjoy both books, and that if you do, that you'll take a moment and write a review. I also hope you win a gift card! To visit the other hopping blogs, click on the blue banner at the top of this post, and it will direct you. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Rhyme's Library is Free Today

 A few months ago, I placed The Rhyme’s Library in the kindle select program. That means that every so often, I get free promotional days. September 3rd through the 7th are some of those days.
When I began The Rhyme's Library, this was the house in my head. It's the old Ellis house on Becky Avenue, just down the street from my dad's house. Lindie and Suzie Ellis, twins, were often my babysitters. I find it a little coincidental that Lindie died of an aggressive form of Alzheimer at age 57 and my character Charlotte also suffered from a mental illness. Although I didn’t know about Lindie’s illness until after the book was published.

I also like this house on Macloud Street. I like the weird shadow in the window. It was one of the many photos I considered for THE RHYME'S LIBRARY. Here are the others.

These are from the New York City Library, which is nothing like The Rhyme's Library in my head. I took these pictures while visiting. My girls had AP assignments to turn in, and so while they worked on the computers, I took picture. (The hand is photoshopped in.) Eventually, I came up with this idea.

I love it, because it’s exactly how I sometimes feel. 
It took me three years to write this book. I started it when all six of my children lived at home. I had six children in 5 schools. I had more carpools than any sane person should. I was also president of a women’s charitable organization…because I wasn’t busy enough. Nathan played the tuba, Bethany was a swim team captain, Adam ran track, Jared played football, Natalie played the trumpet, Miranda played the flute and everyone played the piano. And when Jared played the violin the dog would howl. Our house was noisy and chaotic and somehow I wrote this book…about craziness and murder.
Coincidence? Probably not.
On my birthday, a friend told me about a writers’ conference she went to, and, feeling somewhat envious, I went home and googled writers’ conferences. I picked one where you had to be accepted. You had to have a completed manuscript. It was in New York, and it was expensive. Thinking that I would never be accepted, I applied.
A few weeks later, I got a call. “We’re very excited about A Library in Harmony,” the voice said. (That was the original title of my book.) No one had ever said that to me before. When I told my husband about it, he said, "Go get 'em, tiger." And so I went to the conference.
I had an amazing time and met all sorts of nice people. I was in the mystery group with about 15 others. There were a handful of doctors, an attorney from Harvard, a professor from Vanderbilt—I was totally intimidated. When the first editor came and the director asked who wanted to go first, I raised my hand dead last. This actually was an amazing blessing, because when the next editor came, the director reversed the order, meaning that I went first, and he never changed it back. I went first for every editorial appointment after that. And because I would show up early, and the editor would be on time, we would then have to wait for the running late director. I always had ample time to chat with the editor. 
The morning I met with the editor from Penguin, Tom Clancy’s editor, I wore a brand new sweater and wool pants. The sweater shed. Pink sweater fluff covered my wool pants.
One guy in the group rolled his eyes at my panic and said, “He’s not going to turn down your book because of your sweater.” But sympathetic female writers understood my pain and helped me try and de-fuzz my pants with strips of scotch tape.
When I left, my dream editor, Tom Clancy’s editor, had a copy of my book. He actually looked me in the eye, and said, "I can see us working together." He had my book for ten months.
And now, the whole world can have my book for free.
This, of course, is not how I thought things would go when I left New York. I really thought Penguin would buy my book. I don’t remember being sad when I got the very nice rejection letter. I think I was too busy with my real life to spend a lot of time grieving. That weekend in New York City was like an excerpt from someone else’s life—someone without children and dogs and carpools and science projects.
I really don’t regret a moment of my crazy life. I adore my children, and the home my husband and I created for our family. I’m glad I never had to try and balance anyone else’s calendar, or fit my family’s schedule around literary deadlines.

And I’m really very happy to give copies of the Rhyme’s Library away. Please share it with everyone you know! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Marketing Monday--Editing

What does editing have to do with marketing? Quite a bit. Especially if you want kind reviews.

I struggled with editing for a long time. I paid A LOT for editors. I have since found an editor that I love, but I came to the conclusion that I can’t rely solely on her. That’s not really fair. So, here’s my editing process. I love it. But if others have a niftier way to edit, or a tip I’ve missed, I would love to hear it.

I take my work to my writers group and my critique group. They function differently. One is a group of 10-12, and after I read my ten pages, everyone in attendance gets 2 minutes to put in their two cents. We have three readers a night, and we meet every other week. After I read my ten pages to my critique group, we talk about them in depth. Since there’s only three of us, we each read each time. Our meetings generally last about two hours.
When the book is completed, I run it through two online programs—Editminion and Grammarly. Editminion is free, and I use it mostly to catch clich├ęs. I have a year subscription to Grammarly, and it’s great for commas, word usage and sentence structure. Then I send my work to my editor.

After I get it back from her and have made changes, I use Narrator. It’s super easy. Here’s a link that explains how to use it. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hear-text-read-aloud-narrator#1TC=windows-8

 I think David (that’s the voice I listen to) is my new best friend. I actually use two computers. I don’t think you have to, but I find it easier. As David reads, I follow along, marking up weak sentences and catching any mistakes I find.

I hope this helps anyone who also has struggled with editing.