Freedom of Expression:
A colleague has suggested that if I want to be a success as a Christian author, I'd better make some changes. Specifically, I should refrain from being so colorful and casual; I should stop using bad language; I should dress more appropriately etc. etc. I should study the established pros in the genre and how they promote themselves and their work by speaking at churches, rallies and so forth and emulate their example. Show respect for the genre at all times. Oh, and my bad habit of hanging out with atheists, pagans, Buddhists, Jews and other people outside the faith should also come to a complete halt.
The really eerie thing is, I got an almost identical speech when my first SF novel got published: "Don't do this, don't do that, go to the cons, kiss up to the sacred cows, and stop telling people you're a romance writer."
I'm starting to wonder if there's some kind of indoctrination manual involved. Or maybe I'm just not programmable.
Not to worry. The SF people couldn't hammer me into their little square slot, and the Christians won't, either. I'm colorful, I will use casual and bad language as much as I please, and I like my X-Files and Star Wars t-shirts. What and who I respect always earns it. As for my friends, my writing clan and all the wonderfully diverse people in my life, I think it's pretty cool that they accept me for what I am -- why wouldn't I do the same?
Psst -- Hey buddy, want to buy some Chardonnay Sink Spray?:
Scientists are just getting around to what I discovered
back in April -- that wine is great for cleaning purposes.
Only problem I see now is, we'll have to wade through all the alcoholics in the cleaning aisle as well as the wine aisle at the grocery store.
More Rhetoric: Magniloquence:
now there's a fifty dollar word for you. It's sort of the uber form of grandiloquence.
I'm trying to imagine how that one would be used in casual conversation. Okay, you try -- you're at a party, and you hear someone say: "You know, I'd date Josh, if it wasn't for that nasty magniloquence of his." Raise your hand if your first instinct would be to call Josh the next day to suggest he get a penicillin shot, quick.
100% LEGAL MEXICAN STEROIDS! - BUILD HUGE MUSCLES! - BURN FAT! - GET STRONG! - LOOK GREAT!
Yeah, then die of cancer. Don't even think about it, guys.
There's a lot of buzz about this story,
which claims that a recovered 2K old burial box may provide the first "scientific proof" that Jesus was a real person. The relic may also prove that the apostle James was the son of Joseph and Mary, which would make him Jesus's little half-brother. I think it's cool that these scientists are going to so much trouble to prove the existence of Christ, but for the faithful, it isn't necessary. We already knew. :)
Update on the Beltway Sniper:
Police have arrested two suspects
in connection with the Beltway Sniper killings. For the sake of all the people in the region, I'm praying that these are the men responsible and that there will be no more murders. A few people (you know who you are) e-mailed to ask how I knew it would be someone from the military. I didn't; it was just an educated guess.
Ouch, this test came out only too true. And now I understand this strange attraction I've always felt toward Ari
. . .
Take the Purrsonality Quiz!
Thanks to Kane
for making me wonder what kind of feline I'd be.
The Last Box:
Have you ever made spaghetti in a tea kettle? I have. It's a little tricky -- you can't make much, and you have to drain it slowly, or the spaghetti starts funneling out through the spout, but it can be done. You'd be surprised what you can do when you're desperate enough.
Twenty-two years ago I was young, broke, and alone. I had no car, and I'd had to move off base into my own apartment because I was pregnant. The rent was $450 a month. As a senior airman I made $507 a month (paid once a month), so I couldn't afford to furnish the place. I slept on an inflatable air mattress (the cheap kind that kids take in the pool) and covered up with my field jacket. That was my furniture. After paying either the electricity or the water bill (never both in the same month,) I had less than $20 a month left for food. Occasionally I was able to eat one meal on base if one of my friends pulled KP, but otherwise, I ate a lot of unadorned rice and pasta. I had no pots, and only two plates and a couple of utensils (borrowed from base). My aunt had sent me a copper tea kettle for my birthday, so I cooked everything in that.
At the time I'd separated from my husband, and I was too proud to ask him or my parents for help. Not even my friends knew how bad my situation was. I used to torture myself by going to the base concession after my shift and walking up and down the food aisles, pretending I could buy whatever I wanted. The cake and brownie aisle was the worst -- do you know how good a bar of baking chocolate smells? How delicious the pictures on those boxes of mix look? I admit, I thought about stealing some food now and then -- being pregnant, I was always hungry -- but pride always sent me on my way, empty-handed.
The worst time came when the AF deducted $75 from my check in error, and told me I wouldn't get the money back for thirty days. I asked my landlady if I could have an extra month, but she refused and threatened to evict me. In military towns that's the way it is -- either pay your bills, or get out. I handed over literally every cent I had to her, which left me with nothing for food. This would have been the time most people called someone for help, but not me. I had some rice and grits, and a box of spaghetti. I'd make it last.
And I did. I became very inventive about how to get extra food, too -- on weekends, I would put on my nicest dress and walk down to the main road, where there was a row of car dealerships. They had free donuts and coffee in their waiting rooms, and sometimes they would have a big promotion and hand out free hot dogs and sodas in the parking lot. I think I test drove about twenty cars that month. I also started dropping in on friends who lived within walking distance, and sometimes they'd invite me to stay for lunch or dinner. It still dented my pride, but at least I wasn't begging.
Finally it came down to the last week before my check would arrive, and I'd gotten to the Mother Hubbard stage. All I had left to eat for a week was a regular size box of spaghetti, and water. My friends were starting to get a little suspicious -- as were the car salesmen -- so I had to knock off the visiting and the test drives. I'd just drink a lot of water and hold on, one more week.
Until the day I die, I will remember how it felt when I opened that last box of spaghetti and divided it into seven little piles.
Each night, I broke that day's portion of spaghetti in half, so it would look like more, and dropped it in the kettle. After it was cooked, I ate it strand by strand. I did that for three nights. I started getting pretty light-headed at work, but when someone noticed, I blamed my pregnancy. I missed the bus one morning, and had to call my boss Deb to get a ride into work. On the way, she made a comment about how pregnant women were supposed to gain
weight, and I almost started crying. I didn't say anything, though. Four more days, and I'd never have to tell anyone what I'd been through.
That night, Deb and her husband showed up at my apartment, and demanded to come in. She took one look at the empty rooms and my bare cabinets, and told me I was an idiot. I finally broke down and told her what had happened. As she talked to me, her husband left and came back with four huge bags of groceries. They made me dinner, and made me promise never to do that to myself again. That weekend, they came back with more groceries, a sofa, a kitchen table, and two chairs for me. They found a roommate for me, too, who paid half the rent and helped me furnish the apartment.
I've never forgotten that experience, and I've tried to learn from it. I try not to waste food, and I regularly donate to area shelters and through my church to families in need. And when I need help, I've made myself ask for it. It's still a tough thing for me to do, but I'll never let myself get down to the last box again.
To play delivery girl/Santa and pick up my kiddies. JamiJo,
if you're reading this, watch your snail mail -- you've got incoming. I love weblogs, AOL never bounces my messages....:)
So it's about money, after all:
It seems the Beltway Sniper wants ten million
or he'll shoot more children. This shifts him in the ranks of serial killers from flat-out crazy to petty, greedy and flat-out crazy. If I had the money, I'd offer ten million dollars to whoever turns him in to police. Sick, sick man.
I hope the authorities are running military records and checking out disabled or retired marksmen in the area, and ask the shooting ranges who has been bringing in a .223 rifle lately. This guy would definitely practice, twice a week minimum, and he would have spent a lot of time on the range as rehearsal before he started shooting live targets.
I'm sending a package out to Mysterious Galaxy
today. In it are some samples of my latest promo: bookmarks, chapbooks, and something I wasn't sure I'd ever get right -- bookplates.
Anyone who collects books and is older than Christina Aguilera knows what bookplates are: a kind of name tag for your books, about 3" X 4" with a pretty picture and (usually) Ex Libris on it, and a place to write your name. You can buy some pre-made ones at Barnes & Noble or Borders (who says they are phasing them out, so you'd better hurry). I think most authors have their own printed by someone, although to be honest I've never seen any other author's bookplates. They are an acceptable replacement for you showing up to do a booksigning, however, and when the manager at MG asked if I would send some bookplates out to them, I said no problem.
Problem: I didn't actually have
any bookplates to send, but I figured, how hard could it be to make some? Finding the right material for the bookplates was the hardest part; it took me a week of scouting around the internet and the local bookstores and office supply places before I found the right size self-adhesive blank shipping labels (Avery #5264, if you're interested) and came up with this:
The little red lines on the bookplate are courtesy of Drefan, btw, telling me the words are spelled wrong -- they don't show up on the final product. Buying premade bookplates can be as expensive as $5.95 for twenty, so if you go this route, you can make 150 bookplates for around nine cents each. If you have a color printer, you can also get a lot fancier.
Technology, Go Away:
This morning I tried to use an HTML program online to accomplish a necessary task. The program happens to be fancy and cool and extremely dangerous in the hands of someone like me.  Think "grenade" and "three-year-old" and that's about how appropriate it is to expect me to deal with this kind of programming safely.
I did try to follow the instructions provided for using this program, and they were actually very clearly written and easy to understand. And I didn't understand them, but I don't understand computers or HTML programming, and I really, really hate both right now. Example: "view source" -- you guys all probably know that you can only do that from a right click little screen thing, right? So tell me, how do you know that? Who told you? No, seriously, I want to know -- when you bought your computer, did you slip the salesman a twenty? Did he lean over and whisper, "Okay, so here's the deal -- view source
is a right click little screen thing" and then you both smirked at each other? It took me two browsers and half an hour to figure that out. No, I should be entirely honest -- I didn't figure it out. I got mad, banged the mouse and the right click screen appeared. I never right click. Right clicking scares
Also, there was a right column involved. I was supposed to find this right column. I never did. Now I want the right column dead. Really -- I want to hunt it down, pin it to the floor under my boots, and blow it to smithereens. Tommy Lee Jones chasing Harrison Ford in "The Fugitive" did not have the level of enthusiasm I feel for the demise of this elusive, snotty little right column.
I am never going to get this, am I? Sigh.
The expected e-mails arrived, but some of them were nice. Personally I've never thumped a bible, but I'll be sure not to acquire the habit -- I'm too busy selling my peanuts anyway. The comments here were beautiful and inspiring, and I sincerely thank you for them.
I'm reading "Pride and Prejudice" again for the literature discussion group over at FM, and the Bingley sisters are resonating a little differently this time. I hear their voices in these e-mails, the obsession with acceptance, the deliberately narrow views, the fear of crossing lines. Some things haven't changed since Jane Austen's day, and I really wouldn't be surprised if Lady Catherine shows up in a chaise and four to demand a retraction (and I know just who my Lady Catherine will be.) Like Eliza, I am resolved. To paraphrase Jane, I will act in that manner which will constitute my happiness, without reference to any person so wholly unconnected with me.