Grammarly

Personally, I think that much of my angst over writing comes from not knowing what tools are out there to help me, or being to cheap to purchase them. I found the Grammarly app in late June but really didn’t use it till the week of the 4th of July (My favorite Brit’s birthday! I usually celebrate with a big parade. I get so carried away with the fireworks I somtimes forget to tell her I remembered her birthday in a GRAND style. Happy belated Birthday CATY!)

 

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Happy Birthday!

 

This morning I got this cool report from Grammarly! I didn’t know they did this, but it’s kind of like having a little cheerleader. She compared me to Tolstoy! Yes, really.

I’m on a 7 week writing streak.

I’ve written 15,805 words. (Don’t get too excited they’re 97% old words and 805 new words)

I was more productive than 96% of Grammarly users.

I was more accurate than 57% of Grammarly users.

I used more unique words than 93% of Grammarly users.

My top three mistakes….missing comma in compound sentence 94 times. Missing comma after an introduction 52 times. Comma splice 49 times. (Did I call it last post or what!?!)

My spelling adversaries were Vehichle vs vehicle,  first month vs first-month, and minuscule vs miniscule.

I enjoyed the update, and since I’m sitting at the computer I think I’ll put on my headphones and see how Charley is breaking in the new guy in the Harem err, on the farm. I just call him the Cowboy. I need a good cowboy name for a kid (well, we’ll say he’s 28-ish) from Texas.

 

 

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The Three Hardest Parts of Self-Publishing

According to me.

All of last week, I spent editing an older book of mine, getting it ready to put back on Amazon. I corrected spelling errors, things like bid instead of bird, and your instead of you’re. There were an embarrassing number of mistakes like that. I capitalized, italicized, and did lots of work with commas. I struggle with commas, a lot. The number one hardest part of self-publishing, editing.

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I was re-reading as I worked. I’d forgotten how much I like this story. So why isn’t it available online? That’s the second hardest part of self-publishing, Haters. Over a year ago, I lent this story to a person who was looking for a good story to read. Yes, I’ll never do that again. She sent me back an email that quite simply, shredded me. I took the book off Amazon and that was that.

Here I am, a year later. A little wiser, skin a bit thicker. I love my story. If you don’t, keep it to yourself. If you have something constructive to say, bring it, I can handle it. Just don’t be an asshole. You’d think that would be simple. It isn’t.

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So I’ve sewed up the torn places and decided to put it online again. I’ve edited to the very best of my ability. Now for the third hardest part of Self-publishing. The layout. I’ve spent four days working on the layout. I’ve sucked a friend in to help me with the layout and with her most excellent help, I still haven’t got it right. There are still four pages whose quotation marks fall inside the gutter and Amazon won’t budge. I have to fix it. I have to remember who made the cover, ask them to enlarge it by a minuscule measurement that I don’t have. And I have to ask myself why? Why are you going through all of this for a second time with this book?

I’m doing it all again because some idiot bully out there in the internet-verse called my book fat.

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Father’s Day

You’re thinking I missed it. It was last month.

A couple of things happened this year around Father’s Day.

The week before Father’s Day, we came to the end of the probate process for my Adopted Father’s estate.

My family moved for the second time in eight months. This time including the stress of a closing.

On Father’s day, I was cleaning the empty apartment. I also read the first message from my oldest sister. She sent never before seen pictures of our dad, as she called him. It took my breath away. I sat on the toilet seat in my empty apartment and cried. Happy, heartbroken tears.

In the week after Father’s Day, I celebrated a milestone birthday. I also had my gas service turned off because of a leak. I got it fixed and was told my AC unit was freezing over, that was also the day the clothes washer started leaking.

The Friday after Father’s Day my almost youngest adopted sister and her kids came to visit. It was wonderful to have her here. I think North Dakota left a very favorable impression on her what with our fat raindrops, big beautiful sky, and bazillion shades of green. Also, the cousins adore each other and get along –  99% of the time, see this video in my previous post.

Father’s Day hasn’t been out of my thoughts this whole time. The joy of learning about my birth father from the kids that grew up with him battles constantly with the angst willed to me and my adopted siblings by the man who fostered us.

 

I posted this on my private Facebook Page for Mother’s Day.

This Mother’s Day is a little bittersweet. I finally know them both, but don’t have either.
For Vicky Sue, the beautiful girl who gave up so much, thank you for choosing life for me and hoping for brighter days. Thank you for not leaving me alone; he is a beautiful miracle in my life. You might smile if you knew it was your eldest granddaughter who was the final piece of the puzzle. She will only ever be a joy to me. I think you’d love the other three as well.
******, you were right about so many things (not everything 😜) thank you for doing the dirty work. Thank you for not giving up until you got what you wanted, all seven and then some. I love you, I miss you.
Happy Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

I could have posted on Father’s Day, I had the evening but not the words.

My two dads were born only six months apart. One in Chicago and one in Idaho. One was an only child, the other was raised like one, his next older sibling more than 12 years older than he. Basically, two very spoiled boys. They both had hazel green eyes and dark hair. They even used the same aftershave, Aqua Velva or Old Spice.  The more I learn, the more similar they become. That said, there are a few glaring differences.

John never knew about me.

Dad was on a field trip when he heard about my birth.

John was married four times.

My dad and mom were married to each other for almost sixty years.

Though he didn’t live with his kids, the pictures, stories, and memories of John are littered with laughter and love, camping trips, boating, swimming and bike rides.

When my siblings and I reminisce it’s always about the work. My dad was not a fan of leisure in any form,  at home. We worked together; potting trees, digging trees, weeding the garden, trimming trees, waiting on customers, potting in the greenhouses, watering the greenhouses, watering the potted trees, moving pipe, mowing, harvesting, canning food, gathering eggs, feeding pigs, feeding chickens, feeding lambs, feeding geese, feeding turkeys. When we did play, it was outside. The boys chased us with grasshoppers, threw gravel filled mud balls at us. When we screamed loud enough mom sent the boys to work with dad. I say, at home, because at his work as a geology teacher at a junior college he built himself quite a leisure schedule. He was known for his epic field trips into the surrounding National Parks and Forests. His classes frequently had waiting lists. At home, his wife and children also had waiting lists, of chores.

Though John divorced the mother of his children, he made himself a fixture in their lives and the lives of his grandchildren.

Two Christmases ago, after my mom had died, we got a huge box from my dad and his newly minted second wife. When we opened it on Christmas, there was a princess themed fleece blanket. The note sitting atop it said, For one of the girls. The youngest (10) claimed it and pulled it out of the box. Next was a Princess Sophia fleece blanket with the note, For the other one. The twelve-year-old was stuck with it. Under it was an Indian motif fleece blanket labeled, For Jacob. Well, one out of three isn’t too bad, right?

John’s third wife is still in friendly contact with his children, and their mom.

Dad’s second wife is busily stripping and selling off his and mom’s things from their retirement home because “He told me everything is mine to do with what I want.

John died in his sleep at his daughter’s house. Many tears were shed.

Dad died on the toilet of his retirement home. No one knows for sure when he died, he was found after midnight when his second wife’s son-in-law was sent to find him. I wonder if anyone cried? I imagine so, their meal ticket had just been punched for the last time. Now they were going to have to start paying for everything except the house out of their own pockets. It was probably buckets of tears when they realized.

So what do I say on Father’s Day? My Facebook post.

I didn’t post on Father’s Day this year, it felt too complicated. However, before June ends, I want to recognize and honor my birth father.
John was born in Chicago and grew up in Downey, California. He was a beloved father, a charming husband a few times over, and a playful grandfather. He died far too young but securely held in the love of his children.
He loved the ocean, boating, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving. His favorite day trip was out to Catalina Island. He was charismatic, funny, handsome and a dynamite salesman. I’ve been told he could sell you the pants you were already wearing. He had wit and a way with the spoken word. He got himself out of many a rough patch with that silver tongue. He could make you feel you were the smartest, funniest, most important, most loved person in the world.
It is believed that he knew nothing about me. Didn’t know I was born or adopted or that I existed. Even so, he has blessed me. Happy Father’s Day, John.
 John

That Darn Cat!

I have two cats. We adopted them from a home they couldn’t stay in any longer about three years ago. Santa Claus brought them over. They are sweet cats, pretty young still and both fixed.

Jenni looks like part Siamese part Blue Russian. She is very shy and quite anxious around any man except my son whom she adores. She likes quiet dark places and we sometimes have trouble with her sitting in the litter box. UGH! She’s loving the new place though and most days can be found here.

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A good sign! I think she likes it.

 

My other cat is a beautiful girl, also a Siamese mix. These two are sisters, we were told. So, where Jenni is a homebody to its introverted max, Luna thinks she is a wild kitty.

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I just adore my girl, with her slightly crossed eyes and mellow personality. But this darn cat keeps sneaking out of the house! I don’t realize it until she’s been gone a day. Then I start calling and asking the family if anyone’s seen her. We’ve had some huge thunderstorms coming through at night and fireworks every night since June 27th. The weekend before last she got out and I would periodically step out and call her, it was raining and I was worried. As soon as I called her she peeked out from under my car and meowed for me to come get her. I had to coax her out to take her into the house. It happened again last saturday, but I called and called for two days and nothing!

This morning I called and called again before I ran errands. Nothing. Fast forward a couple of hours later, I get out of my car, look around, call for Luna. Nothing. I’m halfway into the house and I see her lying in the shade under the neighbor’s car looking like the Sphinx, all cool and collected.

“Luna! Where have you been?”

“MEOW MEOW.”

“I know! Come in and eat.”

“Meow (stretches, stands up and trots across the lawn meowing the whole way) meow, meow, meooooooow.”

“Well, quit sneaking out then!”

“Meoww!”

“No, you are not a wild kitty!”

“MEOWWWEROWW!”

“I’m opening the door as fast as I can, stinker!”

“Meow.”

“Yes, your highness, I’ll get your dish right away.”

She tries to trip me the entire time I’m fixing her dinner, meowing the whole story of her adventure. I set her bowl down and Jenni comes running to give her sister a sniff or two. After gorging herself, Luna heads to her favorite spot to stretch out and sleep her day away. Home safe again, and dreaming of her next wild adventure while the human in the house affixes a bell to her collar.

Getting Started Writing Sex

I’m tired of boxes, tired of mechanical things not doing their jobs, and tired of having lots of reasons not to write.

On the upside, I found a treasure trove of notebooks I scribbled in about three years ago! Lots of notes on my first writings. Lots of notes to myself. Now I need many uninterrupted hours to work my way through them. Oh well, at least I know where they are now!

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I spent the last couple of hours writing. No, not the reverse harem. Why? Because I’m not alone in my house and I can’t write sex with my kids peering over my shoulder. I write in the living room. Yes, you read that right. Normally, in the summer, I write from about eleven at night to about three in the morning. In previous years the kids have been young enough that I’ve had them well and gone to bed by ten. Not this year.

When anyone in my real life finds out I write a type of romance novel they immediately want to know if there are dirty parts. This is an interesting question for me. Because of where I work, I’m cautious with what I share. Currently, there are two women there that know about my blog. Neither of them has read anything I’ve written except an odd email. Also, I don’t talk about sex nearly as much in real life as I do here. I want to laugh at that, but it kinda bums me out too. I’m depressingly age appropriate in real life.

But I digress, what people want to know is how, how do I sit down and write a sex scene. So, for fun, here is my recipe.

First, find a deserted room. Preferably a whole house, but a single empty room is acceptable. Not to be creepy, but it helps if there’s a nice comfy bed in there.

Second, good earphones that will block all the noise except whatever you’ve plugged in to listen to. I like my son’s big, black Skull Candy headphones. I love the puffy ear covers. I can’t hear a thing once my music is going. I just have to trust someone will come to get me if the fire alarm goes off.

 

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Thirdly, a door that locks. I know, I see the problems. It is what it is.

Fourthly, my laptop.

Once I have my stage set, I like to go to YouTube and watch some of my favorite comedians. Sometimes I’ll queue up Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, just let it run in the background. Then I’ll open my page and type the girl’s name. The girl comes first, possibly a couple of times. My first rule for writing sex. I’m equally passionate about it in real life. Wink.

This is where my real life and my writing part ways. Once, when I lived in Pittsburgh, I asked a therapist if something was wrong with me because I spent so much time in my own head. He said it’s a fine coping skill. I wondered if I should admit how much time I spent in my head. He said I had a family, a house, a life; I was doing fine. I left it alone.

So, I get comfortable, lay down, stare up at the ceiling, and think about my girl.

How to get the ball rolling? Let’s experiment a bit with my new girl, Charley.

Charley lives on an island in the southeastern United States. She lives in a modern-rustic home with three other men. None are related to her, we discover in the prologue. Here’s what happens in my head….

Three men, that’s exhausting just thinking about it. Let’s assume it’s not every night. Let’s give her a room they can’t bug her in. Okay, that’s good, she has her own space where she is off-limits. The guys are, what did I name them? (grab my notebook) Okay, there’s Rob, the Texas Oilman. Sam, a very big man. Mike, we don’t know a lot about yet. There’s also Nick, a former ATF, gruff, bearded, older. Also, there is a Cowboy up and coming. So she lives with three, soon to be four, possibly five. I might need a bigger house. Rob had his turn in the Prologue, Sam was there so next we take a trip to the hot springs. What do we know about Mike? What do we know about Mike? What was he doing last night when everyone else at the house was screwing around in a bedroom with the door open. No TV, no phones, what else. Cooking, he must have had an iron in the fire. Grilling? possibly. Something he couldn’t leave, brewing? That’s a very good possibility. Ok, he was brewing. (scribble note about how to brew) Ok, Charley, how do we make people believe that you like Mike just as much as you like Rob and Sam? Back to the laptop.

The rough straight from my head to the page.

Charley watched Mike hobble his horse. She’d staked out her usual spot in the river. Scalding water bubbled a few feet away from her its steaming water warming the rocks in the cold river. She leaned her cheek on her knees, her long hair tickling her calves in the current. He straightened, a little stiffly, and glanced over, pulling off his grey North Face beanie. He was 6’5″, heavy shoulders sprinkled liberally with freckles. Long muscled arms, long, long legs, he managed a crew for Nick, spent his days keeping the town running. A jack of all trades, he could fix anything. He kept his crew hopping keeping water pipes, electrical wiring, refrigeration and sewer up and running. At home, he was quiet, loved his vegetable garden and brought water grilling to an unbelievable level. People brought their beef from miles away to have him prepare it. Charley had tasked Nick with finding a Husky puppy for Mike, so convinced it would be love at first sight.

“You’re taking your sweet time.”

He tucked his beanie in his back pocket. “Is there something you need, Mistress?”

Charley’s toes curled in the pebbles. “How do you do that, with that ridiculous title?”

Mike grins, he’d shaved today. No more scraggly goatee. A smile teased Charley’s lips, she wondered what else he’d shaved as he grabbed the hem of his t-shirt.

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And that’s how it starts.

 

 

Summertime

I’m completely moved. My sister’s visit is coming to an end. Summer is in full swing.

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They finally got the hang of paddling together. It’s been a great three days with cousins. Days filled with board games, playing in the rain, swinging, swimming, running, museums, dinosaur movies, and reservoirs. Fueled with lots of Dr. Pepper and Little Caesar’s Pizza. Never enough time.

It can be downright idyllic. North Dakota.

Stuff

NOTE- This is the last tirade about my dad and his will and his second wife. I thought about not writing it, but it has to be purged and I want other people to be outraged as well. I hate it when I’m alone in that. So, there is lots of swearing by me. If I can figure out how, I’m going to close comments. I know you all love me and support me and I love you all for it!! I won’t make you say it this time. You’re welcome, da da da dadum……I love The Rock singing.

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I had just tucked myself in to bed last night, adjusted the curtain so I could feel the breeze and an errant raindrop or two when my phone silently flashed my younger sister’s name at me.

Now, I’ve been taken to task twice in the last five years for silencing my phone at night. First when my niece passed away and then when my adopted dad died. So, I answered. The thunderstorm would have to wait.

We all received an email from my brother who is taking care of probate matters for dad that basically said, we can see the finish line, if there’s anything you want out of the house you need to contact the bitch and see if she’ll give it to you. Sooner is better. The b-word is my addition. My brother doesn’t swear. This is what my sister was calling me about.

The weekend of dad’s funeral, when we realized he’d fucked us all one last time, well and truly, we made a list of 20-30 things we wanted out of the house. Stuff that belonged to mom and dad. Stuff we never thought about having to ask for, much of which has already been sold off on FaceBook and other community selling forums. Gleefully, I might add, by the bitch’s blood sucking daughter. Last night my sister asked me if I really still wanted anything from the house.

“Yes! I fucking want what should be mine!”

So, I’ve learned that I am sentimental. Heavy on the MENTAL. It is a hard, grinding ache inside me that the bitch sits in my parent’s house sorting through their things, selling off what she doesn’t care about and what will bring her quick cash.

Grandfather Clock

Janome sewing machines

Mom’s hand-made quilts and quilt tops

artwork purchased in Korea and the Philippines

Book collections

Rock Collections

Mom’s Piano

Indoor Plants that my parents have grown longer than their children

Just a partial list of what they have/have tried to sell.

In the past 6-8 weeks I’ve been busy. I’ve managed to put my dad and his bitch of a second wife, out of my mind. I’ve focused elsewhere. It all came barreling back last night and the homicidal anger, the injustice, the sadness were severe and overwhelming. It was a long and restless night.

I was caught by something my sister said. Originally she had wanted my dad’s collection of slide photographs. There must be six big boxes filled with tray after tray after tray of pictures taken from when mom and dad were in college on until he died last november. Last night as I read her the list all of us had contributed to the weekend of the funeral, she said she no longer wanted anything. Nothing. She just wanted this all to be over. I asked about the pictures, saying I’d take them if she didn’t and she asked me “why?”. What do we get from remembering? He was never a father to any of us, never had time for us, could only express our value to him in terms of how hard we worked for him. We were worth nothing to him, orphans that he put to work on his tree farm. Kids no one else wanted and he had a use for. Why do we want to remember that?

Her words hacked their way through me, leaving me feeling weak and tired. After we disconnected, I lay in bed listening to the thunder, seeing the flashes of lightning. In my head I had this picture of myself, standing in front of a wrecked house, its insides strewn about me. I was muddy and tired, my arms full of things from our home, I couldn’t carry anything else but there was so much still there, all these things that mom and dad had loved. I looked up to see if anyone else could help carry I realized that all of my siblings were walking away. They weren’t even looking back.

 

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An actual photograph of the aftermath of a flood in the town I grew up in. This isn’t my house, we weren’t hit by the water. We lived too far out in the boondocks. This is what I see when I thin of my parent’s home now.

 

They looked so relaxed, happy even. I opened my mouth to yell at them and heard my mom’s voice.

“It’s just stuff.”

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When I woke up this morning it was the first thought in my brain. It’s just stuff.

I have enough stuff. I have an apartment and a storage unit full of stuff. I don’t need more stuff.

I have an inkling why I struggle to let go of familiar stuff.

I’ve decided to make a trade, for my own peace of heart and mind.  She can keep all that stuff and I can walk away. No longer weighed down by a legacy of sadness and anger, but looking forward to times spent with the only people who understand what my life really was. Looking forward to meeting Michael and learning about a woman who probably really hated the 60’s, in retrospect. Looking forward to meeting Jeff and the girls, hearing all about the man they dearly love and miss, in spite of his weaknesses.