Friday, February 24, 2012

The Next Step

I was nursing a Bloody Mary on the veranda, sitting in my red sling-back chair with the built-in footrest, feeling pretty good about life. Suddenly, Red (as in Lydia Talbot – star of my first novel – she made me say that) appeared at my side plopped into her matching red chair and asked:

Red: Whatcha’ feeling so good about?

Kathy: Well, let’s see…big lifestyle change coming up and I think I’m pretty excited about that.

Red: You mean… not going into work every day - at least, for awhile?

Kathy: Well, yeah. But suddenly a million possibilities seem to be crowding in. I love possibilities.

Red: Yes, you are all about possibilities. I can see that you’re feeling really happy lately. By the way, where’s my Bloody Mary?

Kathy: (chuckling) First things first, of course. I poured you one – it’s in the kitchen.

Red popped up and went back into Wanda – my 23 ft RV, which has a “kitchen” the size of a kindergarten cubbyhole – while I waited patiently for her, sipping my own icy red concoction. Ah…life is so good sometimes. Red popped back out and settled into her chair again, took a drink of her Bloody Mary and muttered, very daintily, “Hot damn, that’s good!” We laughed together and then resumed our conversation.

Red: You know what’s exciting for me?

Kathy: I think I can guess…

Red: Yes! You’ll have more time for writing, which means I’ll be having more adventures, which means your readers are going to be happier with you, which means you’ll sell more books…

Kathy: And then I’ll become a gallizionaire…

Red: Well, maybe just a millionaire, but I can live with that!

Kathy: Me, too. So, basically, no matter what else happens, there will be more time and space for writing. That has to be good.

Red: And the rest of it will all work out, one way or another.

Kathy: It always does, my friend, it always does.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Dangers of Being the Fun Girl

WARNING: Serious content follows.

I’m a cut-up. I’ll admit it. To me, life is something to be enjoyed, not trudged through. I want my headstone to read “She had a hell of good time.”

All of this makes me the go-to gal for fun and humor, especially in workplace. That wouldn’t seem to be a problem, would it?

Most of the time,it’s really not, but here’s the rub. When it’s time to get down to business, the others often can’t see beyond the fun girl. We are typecast, just like the pretty girls and the nerdy guys.

There are people in the world who live inside boxes; not literally, of course, but almost. Going with the box analogy here, they feel compelled to put everyone else inside boxes as well. And all the cartons are labeled: analyst, salesperson, people person, etc. – one everlasting label per box. Once they’ve stuffed you inside, good luck getting out.

It doesn’t matter if it’s someone without any powers, I suppose, but when they have ruling status, this box thinking becomes paralyzing for the organization, for the workers and certainly, for the box-maker. Creativity dies on the vine because it has to have light and air to survive. Growth is stunted, because there must be room to grow, but the box is limited in its space.

If you’re pretty and smart, it’s difficult to get someone to see beyond your looks. If you’re considered a bit of a geek, you may not get invited to the parties with the “cool” people; yes, even in adulthood – in spite of the fact that you’ve had a bottle of each of 100 beers the neighborhood bar carries and can beat anyone at darts. If you’re the fun girl, you may not ever be able to get the powers that be to listen to any of your ideas, because they’re afraid a whoopee cushion is involved.

So, young women and men, choose carefully your work persona, because there are those who will slap a label on you, stuff you into a box and call it a day. On the other hand, you may want to be who you are, even at work, and deal with the consequences.

A little dark and dreary for the fun girl, huh? I’m done. Off, I go to trip happily through life, nary a thought in my crazy little head. The box keeper will be much happier now that the fun girl is back in her box.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What Love is

It’s so easy sometimes to buy a Valentine’s Day card or a bunch of flowers and feel as though our love has been expressed. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for Valentine’s Day – as a topping to what we do the rest of the year to show the ones we love that we do, indeed, know what love is.

Here are just a few of the ways I can remember receiving tokens of love or giving them:

The best Valentine’s surprise I ever received from my late husband, Pete, was actually a bouquet of flowers – which he ordered from a hospital bed, recovering from a surgery - to be delivered to me at work.

Pete worked a graveyard shift for many years. One year, my daughter and I waited until he left for work and then covered the garage door with butcher paper and made him a giant Happy Birthday card. His grin the next morning could have lit up all of San Diego!

Another year, I blew up 100 red balloons and wrote love notes on all of them, then stuffed them into my hubby’s car for Valentine’s Day. He drove to work with all the balloons still in his car and showed his work buddies what his crazy wife did.

I will always treasure one gift from Pete. During a time when we only had one car, I rode the bus to work. On a bright San Diego day, the rain clouds came and I had no umbrella. Pete realized this, bought me one and drove 38 miles round trip to bring me an umbrella before he went to work, so I wouldn’t get wet later in the day when I stood waiting for the bus.

I have a collection of all the wonderful handmade Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Mother’s Day gifts that my children have given me over the years. I surprised my daughter one year but pulling out a string of clay beads she’d made when she was five and wearing them to work. My now-grown daughter still loves to go to the pottery shop and make me cups and vases. I treasure every one of them.

My son had a habit of buying me Christmas presents for several years that made me cry. They would be books about strong women he knew I admired – Katherine Hepburn, Amelia Earhart, etc. The year he bought me Women Who Dared, he wrote an inscription inside telling me I was proud of me. Is there really a better gift than one of praise?

I rarely give gift cards, except as extras. Every gift I give, no matter how small, I try to find something special that reflects who the person receiving it is. I’m sure I don’t always hit the nail on the head, but I try, because I can see no other reason to give a gift except to say “I care.” I’m also a huge fan of love coupons – you know those written promises to do something for someone you love. I love getting and giving those!

Luckily for me, this is just a tiny sample of the love tokens that have been exchanged between my family over the years. My Valentine’s Day wish for all my online friends is this – may you get that little something that makes you smile!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Red Invites Stephanie to the Veranda

If you guessed that Stephanie is Stephanie Plum, you’re brilliant! (In case there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Stephanie Plum, she’s the main character in a series of hilarious novels about a female bounty hunter, written by Janet Evanovich). Red was feeling pretty good about readers and reviewers saying she reminded them of an older Stephanie Plum (well, she wasn’t thrilled about the older part, but still) so, she flew off into that other world where fictional characters hang out, found The Berg – where Stephanie lives – and dropped by to invite her over to The Veranda.

Stephanie, being totally cool, didn’t diss Red, but instead she said she would have to talk with Janet and see if she could fit us in her calendar. Obviously, it wouldn’t work for Stephanie to stop by without Janet, right? I mean, I wouldn’t be able to get a word in edgewise without Janet there to discuss the finer points of character creation.

Anyway, Red and I were sitting on the Veranda, imagining the whole thing. It went like this:

Red: (very excited) So, if Stephanie and Janet do come over I think we should introduce them to your killer Bloody Marys.

Kathy: Well, I think Janet would probably dig them, but Stephanie strikes me as more of a beer kind of girl to me.

Red: Hey, beer sheemer. Nobody can resist your Bloody Marys.

Kathy: Okay, okay – happy to oblige!

Red: Can’t you just imagine it? Stephanie and me. It’s like having a kick-ass little sister. Of course, when I stopped by her apartment, Joe Morelli was there on the couch eating pizza and I kind of got distracted when Stephanie was talking to me.

Kathy: I can imagine! Was Ranger there, too?

Red: Not right away, but when I was pulling out of the driveway in Lucy (Red’s 1963 cherry red VW bug) he was pulling in. He was driving a black Porsche Carrera. I motioned for him to roll down the window, because he had that black film stuff on it. He did it! And then he looked at me over these smoking sunglasses with those midnight eyes. I managed to squeak out something goofy and he smiled and said, "Babe" and drove away. Oooh, baby – if it wasn’t for my Joe, I would have invited him back to Veranda!

Kathy: Cool down girl. Sounds like you had a great trip to New Jersey. How do you characters do that? I mean, it’s a long way to New Jersey from Northern California in real life.

Red: (shrugging off-handedly) Oh, we just think ourselves there.

Kathy: (to herself) Wow! That saves a lot on gas.

Red: Anyway – I really like that girl! We are going to have so much fun when they visit.

Kathy: I think Janet and I would have a good talk, too. But you do realize they might never show up at the Veranda. I mean, Janet’s kind of busy.

Red: Well, once you’ve published the sequel, she may be more inclined to come over – hint, hint!

Kathy: Yes, yes, I know - the sequel, the sequel. If I want to be friends with Janet Evanovich, I’m going to have to start pumping out sequels a heck of a lot faster.

Red: Right! (I threw her a snarky look)

Red again: (Shrugging) I’m just saying.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blog & Tweet

I’ll make this short and sweet. I’m no expert on blogging or tweeting, but I have had some success in building a following in a short period of time. Many of my Twitter pals have asked about how I did it. I sat down a couple of months ago and wrote a few notes about that and then it sat on my computer…

Last weekend, I revisited those notes and thought, “Hmmm, I think this might be a handbook.” And sure enough, it was.

So, I sat down and wrote out what I’ve been doing. I’m absolutely sure the result is only my way of doing it and that there are many others, but I’m also sure there are some pretty good ideas in the resulting booklet “Blog & Tweet – How to Make a Splash Online.”

If you know anyone who is struggling to get their follower numbers up there, you might suggest it to them. I’m really hoping this will level the playing field for newbies and others who could use a few tips.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Just a Snippet

Okay, folks - this is Red. My friend Kathy can be a bit shy at times, so I've taken the controls on this one.

I'll admit, at first I was a little put out that Kathy seemed to love these new characters - the ones in The Great Twitter Adventure - as much as me. But then I realized I'm still the one she has Bloody Marys with on the Veranda regularly. I guess you could say I'm her invisible BFF (Best Friend Forever - for those of you over the age of 12, who might not know.)

Anyway, I like the new people too - a lot. I mean, Maggie's a crack-up and the whole story is told from her point of view. Then there's Frank, the mystery man who wears a fedora all the time and has the nerve to disappear on these guys. I love Dwayne, with that smart mouth and devilish Samuel L. Jackson smile. Edie's a pip - sharp and fearless (actually they're all fearless) and then there's Tex, a urban cowboy if there ever was one.

So, I told her - we needed to give you all a preview - a little snippet - of the action. Now, don't make me a fool here. Don't forget to comment! Bye all. See you round the Veranda!

Chapter 6

When we walked out of the restaurant, Dwayne’s voice dropped to a whisper as he asked me, “Don’t look now, but glance to the left when we get to the Jeep. Does that look like the car? There’s two dudes just sitting in a black car. I think it’s a Mercedes, but it’s in the far row. I can’t see all of it.” I took this information in. The others had heard whispering but were smart enough not to call attention to it.

We got to the Grand Cherokee and I beeped the doors open. Before I slid into the front seat, I threw a quick glance towards the black car and saw two heads quickly look away.

Once inside, I turned back to Dwayne. “They turned their heads when I looked their way. I’d have to guess those are our guys. What should I do?”

Edie answered first, “Act natural.”

“Should I try to lose them before we go to the apartment?” I queried worriedly.

“What’s the point?” Tex asked. “They apparently know about the apartment. I say we head on over and hope they try to bother us.” I saw a flash of metal in the mirror and looked back over my shoulder to find Tex brandishing the biggest handgun I’d ever seen.

“Yeah, me too.” Dwayne answered and I twisted in my seat, pulling a shoulder muscle.

“What’s that?” I asked numbly staring at a black, snub-nosed revolver.

“Her little sister,” he answered jerking his head towards Tex’s shiny friend. “The black one,” he finished with a chuckle.

“Gotcha covered,” Edie answered, with a wild look in her eye to match the spiky red hair on her roof. And there in her lap rested a cute little derringer. The fellas leaned forward and peeked over the seat. Both laughed loudly.

“Hey, don’t under-estimate baby sister. She can do a lot of damage at close-range.”

Dwayne threw up his hands. “She gets no disrespect from me. I still carry a slug from one of those babies in my shoulder.”

We all turned to look at him with that one. He shrugged and answered, “Crazy girlfriend.”

Shocked at my friends, I looked numbly at the threesome.

“So, I’m the only one of us that isn’t a gun-carrying bad ass?”

It was Edie’s turn to shrug. “Hey, that can be fixed.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thank you, Miss Mari!

I pictured myself at an award ceremony, not unlike the the Academy Awards, accepting my golden statute when Mari Stroud gave me the Versatile Blogger Award a few weeks ago. I patted myself on the back, read Mari's very funny list of truths about herself and promptly forgot about the whole thing.

I can be a number one ditz that way. But I'm here today to tell you that I did appreciate it and will spill my guts below to prove it. Then I'm going to tell you who I nominate for this very prestigious award.

The Truths as I know them:

1 - One of the jobs I'm proudest of having had is as a cab driver. I had a blast pretending to be Marilu Henner (Elaine on Taxi) and met my future husband there.
2 - Red is not actually my favorite color. My eye is always drawn to green, but I have the misfortune of not looking good in green, unless I'm a redhead, which leads me to truth #3
3 - I'm not really a redhead - not a natural one anyway. I used to be a dirty blonde. Only God knows what color I am naturally today.
4 - I have every intention of coming back as a blue singer next time around. I sing now, in spite of the people, who really do love me, begging me not to.
5 - I raised chickens, pigs and rabbits back in the day - and wore overalls as my standard of dress. I owned three pairs of overalls and one dress.
6 - The inability to wear beautiful, tall sexy shoes is the biggest regret about aging I have. I sometimes put on the spike heels I can't wear anymore and admire them as I sit in my RV for long periods of time.
7 - I believe in pedicures. I'm pretty sure they are as important as any vitamins or minerals, perhaps more so. And yes, I think men should have them, too.

Here are my nominations:

My favorite blogger is Dannie C. Hill - Dannie writes these amazing posts about Thailand. It's like having your own personal National Geographic reporter out there. And the posts are always very personal and meaningful

I love Miss Kelley Lane - Call Me Bookish - She's a terrific blogger who shares her worldview on tweeting and other social media stuff. She's funny and terribly bright.

If you're looking for a good book to read - try Kate's Reads - she's a positive reviewer who gives you a reason to read the books she suggests.

Nicole Pyles - gives everyone an upbeat look at the world with her blog - The World of My Imagination

For a taste of life that is always colored by honor - this is the guy - Bert Carson

I just discovered Emma Calin - a Brit with a great sense of humor! She also very kind.

Jo VonBargen is a prolific poet/blogger. I'm affected by each one I read.

Rob(R.S.)Guthrie - His blog is truly about all things writing - Rob on Writing

So, I want to thank Mari Stroud, once again. She's very kind, very supportive and she has a funny, wonderful blog of her own Make Pretty Words Hard.