Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Valentine for Wounded Warriors

The last time I did a drive for Wounded Warriors quite honestly it was more about my father than the organization. (See Honoring Wounded Warriors) I’ve realized a lot since then and now, although I still send my donations in my father’s name, it’s as much about the men and women who serve their country – our country – and pay a terrible price.

The latest book I’ve written, The Great Twitter Adventure or How 5 Tweeps Saved the World, is about people who’ve met on Twitter sticking together to come to the aid of one of their own. That’s what’s at its core. Giving away the proceeds from this book seems a perfect fit.

So, from today through Valentine’s Day, every purchase at $.99 will turn into $.35 for Wounded Warriors. Now, that isn’t much – one book at a time – but for every 100 books that’s $35.00. I recently did a free book promotion for Red Mojo Mama that resulted in over 2,000 downloads. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if 2,000 people got this new book for $.99 and the Wounded Warriors Project got $700!?

So, I know it’s a crazy goal – but you’ve got to dream big, right? Please consider purchasing this novella, having fun and helping in a small way. If you’d pass the word, that would be even better.

Click here if you’d like to contribute directly - The Wounded Warrior Project - a wonderful organization.


Friday, January 27, 2012

You Can't Win for Losing

Reviews can sometimes be a little difficult to deal with, especially if you’re the object of them. Red took a couple pretty personally recently. Here’s how it went down:

Red: So what’s new on the review front? Do the people still love me?

Kathy: (hesitating before answering) Well, yeah – we’ve had a couple really enthusiastic ones…

Red: And? What are you trying not to tell me?

Kathy: Well, remember when a friend of mine said that you were having way too much sex and it was too erotic?

Red: Yeah! But I thought we got over that one…

Kathy: We did. But last week we got a review that said all that sex you were having was “odd” and not erotic at all.

Red: Well! Let me tell you, she (was it a she?) (I nodded yes) wasn’t there! It was hot. I can vouch for that. And again, Joe and I were not going crazy or anything. Geez. Is that all?

Kathy: Well, no…

Red: What else?

Kathy: This week a guy said you were too strong and not complicated enough. He didn’t seem to understand that you were in a chick lit novel.

Red: Too strong? What’s that about? Men!

Kathy: Well, what are you going do?

Red: (starts laughing) (keeps laughing - she’s almost hysterical now) OMG – I think I’m about to fall down! (She does – she falls over on the Veranda and is literally rolling on her a$$ laughing)

Kathy: I’ve never actually seen anyone do that – ROFLMAO (I started laughing, too)

We came up for breath after a couple of minutes and sat there trying to contain ourselves. I turned to Red and asked –

Kathy: Do we know why we were laughing?

Red: (still chuckling a little) I do…it’s because…you can’t win for losing.

And she was off on another giggle fest. I joined her. Then we made ourselves a couple of Bloody Marys and chatted for the rest of the evening, occasionally stopping to giggle, yet again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'd Rather Go Blind...

Etta James passed away on Friday. I felt sorrow when I heard, a very deep sadness for the loss of a great talent. I’m sitting here listening to her 20th Century Masters album.

I discovered Etta about 14 years ago. Oh, she’d been around much longer, but I stumbled across her on Oprah’s marathon training DVD, which I can’t remember the name of and apparently has dropped off of Google. Etta was singing I Got the Power in the background and I had to have that song. So I bought a CD of hers.

I was a goner. I bought 4 more in rapid succession. I didn’t know she’d sung the immensely successful At Last, for which most of the world knows her. I was deeply attracted to her sexy but mournful blues style (Almost Persuaded, All I Could Do Was Cry) and the feisty R&B stuff (Tell Mama, Pushover) she had produced.

The thing about Etta was and still is that every song she sang dug into my soul as a woman. I felt she was singing for me because I couldn’t. When I listened to Trust in Me I knew that this is what I had always wanted to say to my husband who had recently passed away. When she sang about some guy thinking she was going to be easy in Pushover, I remembered the days when that was a battle we women were up against – not so much nowadays.

But the song that broke my heart and always will is I’d Rather Go Blind, in which she literally wails that she would rather lose her sight than see her man with somebody else. Now that’s the heartbreak of love if ever it was expressed.

Etta had a great voice but her talent was so much more than that. She imbued every song with feeling as real as feeling it yourself.

I’m going to miss knowing Etta’s in the world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Minute 37 Seconds

I was visiting my folks last weekend when the 49ers played The Saints for a slot in the 2012 NFC Championship football game tomorrow and a chance at the Super Bowl title. I only saw the second half but that was the best part.

It’s been years since I’ve really followed football, so it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced the uplift that can come from viewing a struggle on that modern day field of battle.

Any thinking person knows that professional sports have their share of silliness, corruption and irrelevance. On the other hand, anyone with a heart has to be able to embrace that glory humans can exhibit in pursuit of a physical and mental victory, sometimes over an adversary and just as often over themselves. We saw both last Saturday.

This was a nail-biter game with both the Saints and the 49ers making stunning touchdowns and taking turns in the lead. The moment of glory came after the Saints swiped a lead from the 49ers putting the score in their favor 32-29, with only 1:37 left in the game.

My mother deflated immediately and threw her hands in the air, resigned to her team losing. I firmly stated, “It’s not over yet. They can still do it.” I’d seen it done before. This team seemed determined enough.

And they were. Quarterback Alex Smith quickly worked his team downfield with help from tightend Vernon Davis, a bad boy from previous seasons whom former 49ers Coach Mike Singletary had thrown off the field for not being a team player. Smith managed two pass completions in that 1:37 to Davis, the final one a 14-yard which won the game and had Mom and I screaming on the couch.

So, besides a thrilling game of football, what did I get from that hour in front of the television?

Number one – the reminder to never, ever give up. “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” It isn’t poetry, but it’s one of the truest things in this old world. We may struggle for years, droop with exhaustion, watch as another seems to snatch away our victory. It is in those moments that human potential comes to the fore and pushes us to be more; to reach inside and pull it out of the bag. We do it over and over again. So, we must remember, as individuals, to never give up.

Number Two – people do change. Vernon Davis’ career had been hampered by a self-centeredness and this game showed he could indeed be a team player and rise above himself. He cried at the end of the game, seemingly from relief and humility as much as joy. He had done it. He had taken the ball over the line to win for everyone. He had changed.

It’s never over until it’s over. We all have that that 1:37 in our back pocket every day to push through; to make it happen. We just have to keep going and believe.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Keeping It Real With an Old Friend

Okay, so I wrote and published a new book that doesn’t have Red in it. I love all my new characters and I’ve probably been talking about this wonderful writing experience a little too much because I’m sensing a streak of jealous in the green-eyed redhead. See what you think.

Kathy: So, then Franks says…

Red: Now which one’s Frank? Is he the one you have a crush on?

Kathy: What? I don’t have a crush on any of them.

Red: Oh, really? Well, what’s her name – Maggie, right? – she does. No, it’s on that Tex guy. Anyway, we all know that you put a lot of yourself into these books. So, if Maggie’s got a crush on Tex, it’s the same thing as you having a crush on Tex.

Kathy: Whoa there, Nelly! It’s not the same thing…Anyway; I can see you don’t really want to talk about the new book.

Red: Seeing as how you stopped writing my sequel to write this book…

Kathy: Okay, okay…

Red: It’s just that old friends are the best friends. Isn’t that right?

Kathy: (shaking my head vigorously) No, I don’t think that’s true, necessarily. Sometimes people come along who are new in your life and it’s a wondrous thing and sometimes your old friends float away into new lives of their own. That’s just how it is.

Red: Yeah, well…

Kathy: I’m not talking about you, Red. You were my first experience in first person. You taught what it was like to lose myself in a character so completely – to laugh and have fun with writing. I will always consider you my best “character” friend.

Red: (finally smiling) Really?

Kathy: Yep, really.

Putting my arm around my imaginary friend, we both gazed out at the duck pond just beyond the veranda.

Kathy: Want some more hot chocolate?

Red: Sure. That would be great. Hey, Kathy?

Kathy: Yeah?

Red: That’s so great…that you feel that way…because I do, too. I would have really missed these times by ourselves. But maybe you can invite Frank, Maggie, Edie, Dwayne and Ted over to the Veranda sometime.

Kathy: (smiling to myself because Red really is a generous soul) That sounds like a plan!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Gift Bags Held So Much More

Before Christmas, I wrote a post titled What to Do When the Spirit Grabs You, about just wanting to do something nice for someone because of the season. One of the ideas I had was to buy thermal socks, wrap them and give them out as I saw street people in need. That ultimately morphed into four gift bags that my daughter and I put together for me to give to homeless people on Christmas Day.

Vanessa, my daughter, and I went shopping for the thermal socks, some gift bags and a bunch of stuff to put in them while she was here visiting me the weekend before Christmas. The last thing we did together before I had to take to the airport was to put the four bags together.

We stuffed them to nearly overflowing with socks, Christmas candy, peanut butter crackers, Vienna sausages, deviled ham, soda crackers, plastic utensils, wet wipes, razors, cookies, warm scarves and the one extravagance – scented soaps. She and I shared a truly special few moments. I only wish she could have been there to help me give them out.

I chose to spend Christmas Day alone so after opening presents with Vanessa via Skype, I went in search of people who could use a little cheer on a cold holiday morning. It took me a while to spot the first three men huddled near the street; one with a very neatly arranged shopping cart and two with nothing but themselves. All three were rubbing their bare hands together in an attempt to keep warm. I pulled up in my little red Yaris and they eyed me suspiciously.

When I got out with three brightly colored bags in my hands, their faces lit up. I was suddenly embarrassed and wasn’t able to be as open and loving as I’d planned. I mumbled Merry Christmas and nearly shoved the bags at them. They thanked me profusely, which embarrassed me even more. I do think I managed to smile and when I drove off I honked my horn and waved at them. It was excruciating for me and I don’t really know why.

So, I had one bag left. This time it took a bit longer, but finally I came upon a fellow standing in the median with a sign asking for money. I pulled into a parking lot and walked ½ way across the crosswalk to give him the last bag. He was a mess; dirty, rumpled and reeking of alcohol. But he was so happy to be given the bag. I spoke to him longer than I had the other three. He was alone and he needed a kind word or two as much as he needed what was in the bag.

I wished him Merry Christmas and crossed back to my car, where I cried for a few minutes. I’m so lucky in my life.

So, these gift bags that were filled with “stuff” for the homeless and were also filled with lessons for me. The first was to appreciate all that I have – every day.

The second was centered on the idea of giving what’s needed instead of the easy answer – a buck or two. I often see people I would like to help out, but I do what many people do – struggle with whether or not the money I give someone on the street will be used to support an addiction. The internal arguments I go through each time are painful for me. Now, I have an answer. I will always carry gift bags in my car so I can hand them out instead of money.

Today I bought two turquoise bags at the Dollar Store and enough goodies to fill them. I like this plan.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Story Behind the Story

If you’ve visited this blog before you may have read one of my most popular posts True Friendships on Twitter? Over the months since Aug, when I wrote it, there have been several comments that, indeed, true friendships are possible and many, many tweets stating the same thing. These folks had found new and true friends on Twitter.

Recently, I revisited this post, read the comments and was happily digesting how wonderful it was that so many people felt this way when a bolt of lightning hit me. Okay, it wasn't exactly lightning, but it may as well have been.

I realized that people had true affection for each other in this medium – Twitter – and would come to each other’s aid if given a chance. As clearly as if someone was speaking inside my head (and you regular readers already know that Red does that often) I heard this - “the great Twitter adventure.” Hand to God, it’s the truth.

Within minutes a plot began to form and I thought I was on my way to a short story, but that quickly grew and grew until I realized I had a novella on my hands. For about three weeks, I was stuck for an ending, then one day I took myself out to lunch at my favorite place, which has incubated more than one idea in the past. As I was eating my beef stroganoff, I was again hit by lightning (apparently I can’t find another phrase for epiphany – oh, wait…). Anyway, I had an ending.

That was last Wednesday, the idea began to gel and harden until I knew I could write the whole thing over the 3-day New Year's holiday weekend. I set that as my goal. I was determined to complete the story and I did it!

But here’s the really cool part of this whole thing. As I wrote about four tweeps who rescue their fellow tweep, I began to realize that this was the beginning of a series about the Fearless Five, who could now have all kinds of adventures together.

So, this weekend I will publish “The Great Twitter Adventure – How 5 Tweeps Saved the World.” As one of my readers said, “It’s a rollicking good time.” As I wrote I kept thinking about the tongue-in-cheek quality of the film Romancing the Stone and how a reclusive writer steps outside herself to save her sister. That’s what these five do, too. They are just ordinary people who make an extra-ordinary connection via Twitter and it leads them into the adventure of their lives.

It doesn’t get any better than that, does it?