A Positive Attitude

September 30, 2017

10696440_10205112197867331_3579012955155885221_nIn reading some of the “positive attitude” books out there today, it seems they suggest doing a little mental exercise every morning and evening.  They suggest you visualize your life the way you intend for it to be.  In other words, see yourself as the successful person you want to become.  With that in mind, I set out to see myself as a New York Times Bestselling Author making my acceptance speech at the Romance Writers of America not only for one of the highest honors RWA bestows – the Lifetime Achievement Award (presented to a living author to recognize their significant contributions to the romance genre) – but for the RITA award also (the highest award of distinction which recognizes excellence in published romance books).

standing_ovationSo, I see myself walking out onto the stage to stand in front of the podium.  The conference attendees give a standing ovation complete with whistles, catcalls, hoots, hollers and a whole lot of yelling for five minutes and just as everyone begins to quiet down, it starts again.  Finally, though, I’m able to start my speech.

“First, let me say thank you for making me feel so special.  This is a moment I will never forget because I get to share it with all of you – my friends, my family and my fans.  Without you, I would not be here.  And that brings me to the second thing I want to talk about and that’s the “without you.”  Without each and every one of you, my lifelong dream of being a writer would never have come true.  My earliest memories consist of me lying on my parent’s front porch, making squiggles on brown paper bags and reading those squiggles to my dolls for those were the stories I created.

2013-03-25 06.09.26I was determined to be a writer and you helped me stay determined.  You were behind me all the way.  You cheered me on.  You bought my books and wrote reviews which helped me climb the success ladder.  That’s why I feel every single one of you should be up here on this stage with me.  We did this together.  WE DID THIS!  Not me.  WE.  I want to see each one of you reach your dream – whatever that dream is – I want to see you reach it.

So, right this very minute, decide your course in life.  Decide for yourself what your dream is.  I don’t care if you want to be a ditch digger.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as you’re the best darn ditch digger you can be.  I don’t care if you want to be a doctor.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as you’re the best darn doctor you can be.  Whatever it is, whatever that thing down deep inside of you, that thing that keeps whispering to you, whatever it is, bring it out into the light and go for it.  Keep your eye on that dream.  Right now, this minute, you can be.  Let that sink in.  You. Can. Be.

Walk as though you have already achieved your goal.  If it’s a million dollars you want, walk like you have a million dollars in your pocket.  Pull those slouchy pants up and walk like a proud person.  Pull yourself out of the gutter.  Stand up tall, hold your head up high and walk like a millionaire!  Conceive it!  Believe it!  Achieve it!  That’s what it takes.  And I’ll be right there in your pep squad cheering you on every step of the way.  I want you right here on this stage with me accepting your award for your dream.

13062118_1008227479212751_7052244287307933122_nYes, you were behind me all the way.  You cheered me on.  You bought my books and wrote reviews which helped me climb this success ladder.

WE DID THIS!  Not me.  WE.  I want to see each one of you reach your dream – whatever that dream is – I want to see you reach it and I’ll be right behind you pushing you forward, lifting you up, cheering you onward.

I want to be sitting where you are right now while you stand here in my place and say: WE DID THIS!  Not me.  WE.

So, wherever you are in life, make that decision and keep your eye on your goal.  You and I will succeed.  And don’t worry, we’ll build a bigger stage here to hold us all!”

12308766_1621742584756531_706295591390506370_nThere you have it.  After making my speech, I hold up my awards so all can see before walking off the stage to another standing ovation.

That’s my dream.  That’s my goal and I’m keeping my eyes on that goal.  And I know all of you are helping me as best you can and I do so appreciate that.

What’s your goal?  What’s that dream that maybe you haven’t told anyone about?  Tell us about it and let us be your cheering squad.  Thanks to all of you for being mine!

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Where’s My “Do”?

September 27, 2017

Old Lady croppedHave you ever wondered why some people accomplish so much in their lifetime while other people are still sitting on the couch with their bag of potato chips? I have. I’d like to know “Where’s my ‘do’?”

By “do” I mean, where’s my drive, my ambition, my get-up-and-go – my “do”. Where’s my motivation to get up off the couch? What motivates you each and every morning of each and every day to crawl out of your soft warm bed, where you feel safe and secure wrapped in your little cocoon and head out to work or wherever it is you go?

Diaper BabyTake, for example, Bill Gates. What does Bill Gates have inside that made him want to get up and accomplish what he’s accomplished? Or, how about Oprah Winfrey? I could list hundreds of people who have found their “do”. So, how did they find it? What led them down the path to their “do”? When these guys or gals were babies, were they lying in their cribs one day, wetting their diapers, when all of a sudden they had an epiphany and thought “I’m going to get out of this mess and just “do”? And so, they did.

Where was my epiphany? I’m sure I wet my diapers. I don’t actually remember doing so but I asked my mom and she said I did – plenty (she would know). So where was my “do” epiphany? Have you had your “do”?

Couch PotatoWell, I’ve come to the conclusion that some of us are just born with “do” and some of us are born as “couch potatoes”. I’m a couch potato. I’d rather be sitting on the couch doing nothing – out in the zone somewhere. I’m basically a lazy person. I procrastinate a lot. I even procrastinate at procrastinating. I would rather not have to “do” anything.

But I know that I have to be my own “do” if I’m to become the person I want to become. When I’m sitting on the couch, out in that zone I was talking about, I see the “me” I want to be. Not the “me” I am. I know that if I want to become that “me” I have to “do”. I read in a book I was reading the other day, you need to make lists. So I sat down and made a list of the things I needed to “do” each and every day to get me on my way to becoming the “me” I wanted to be.

First thing on my list was “get up.” No kidding. I had to get up out of bed first thing every day so I put that on my list. I continued making my list with as many steps as I could think of. I do three morning pages each and every day, so I had to list those. (See Julie Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” for how to do morning pages). After my morning pages, I have an appointment with myself. I’m the most important person in my life, so why not have an appointment with me. And, yeah, I know, your next question is so what do I do at this appointment – talk with myself! In a way I suppose I do. But I’ll save that for another day.

For now, I’m curious. Where’s your “do”? Let me know.

#where’smydo?

The Story of How My Toy Car Came to Be

September 9, 2017

Side View-3A lot of people have asked me about my “Toy Car.”  Her name is “Baby.”  She’s a 1976 MG Midget, Bicentennial model (thus the red/white/blue).  She’s from Alabama.

Back in 2001, my son and I were traveling on our way home to Alabama to visit our family.  When we got close, within a few miles of my mom and dad’s, I spotted Baby sitting in a yard with a “For Sale” sign.  She was a beauty, but I put the thought of buying her out of my mind.  But, seeing her there did start up the memories.  Ever since the first one rolled off the show room floor, I had always dreamed of owning one.

I have the keys with Daddy- 2001.05.20I know, most car enthusiasts wanted Chevys or some other such car, but not me.  I wanted an MG Midget.  Through the years, every time I saw one, those thoughts of owning one returned and this day was no different.  I really wanted that little car.  However, my pocketbook, as usual, just laughed.

So, continuing on our journey, my son and I arrived at my mom and dad’s.  The next day we were sitting out on the front porch enjoying the beautiful weather and watching the world go by, when, as usual, the talk turned to cars.  If I remember correctly, it was Joe, my dad and myself sitting there.  My mom had gone back inside to do something or other.  We chatted about the different cars passing by and I mentioned the car I had seen on the side of the road a few miles away.

After a little bit, my dad went into the house and when he came back out, he sat back down in his chair and said, “Let’s go look at that car.”  I said, “No use looking.  I can’t afford to buy it and even if I could, how the heck would I get it back to Iowa?”  Well, a lot of conversation ensued about the little “Toy Car” before my dad told me he and my mom wanted to buy the car for me.  They felt since they had helped my brother over the years, they felt it only right that they do something for me and if I wanted the car, it was mine.  Needless to say, I wanted the car so off we went to take a look at it.

DSCN2750We arrived and my little Toy Car was such a thing of beauty sitting there.  A convertible complete with a roll bar.  She looked to be in good shape and had had only one previous owner before the gentleman who now had her.  I knew I would be owner number three and she’d rest with me until I left this world and then she’d belong to my son.

My dad and I took her out for a test drive.  She purred like a kitten.  I was ecstatic!  We drove back to the gentleman’s house, signed all the paperwork and I left with “Baby.”

Now came the puzzle of just how we were going to get her back to Iowa.  It was May and college kids had rented every U-Haul thing in town to get their belongings home from college.  Eventually, we did find one U-Haul trailer.  It was the kind that has two runners for hauling cars which normally would have been perfect.  The only problem we had was Baby’s tires didn’t reach the flat portion of those runners.  She sat right on the raised edges.  One big jolt along the way would dislodge her and we’d be in a mess to say the least.

Mama and Daddy with Toy Car - 2001.05.20So, we tied her down the trailer so she, hopefully, wouldn’t move on the more than 800 miles we had to go.  My mom had given me a doll she had, to take home with me so we put her in the driver’s seat with her hands on the steering wheel and away we went.

Normally, we would have made the trip home in 14 hours but this time, we drove slow and found a motel to spend the night.  We had a room right next to a group of bikers.  Harleys were parked on both sides of Baby so I knew she’d be safe.

Next morning, we brought her the rest of the way home.

Joe standingNow, she has her spot in my garage.  She has a dust cover to keep her clean.  I take her out during the summer months and we drive through the parks.  We don’t travel on the freeways or interstates, because she’s too small and in case of an accident, all that would be left of us would be a greasy spot in the road.  To show you her size, my son is 6’4″.

Baby has been in the Iowa State Fair parade numerous times, and she always has fun wherever she goes.  So, if you happen to see her out and about, be sure to toot your horn and she’ll toot back.

Joe grinning

Yep, he fits!

Another Writer’s Dream Destroyed

August 29, 2017

What do you do when someone deliberately destroys your dream?  Or tries to.  Here’s what happened.

Old Lady croppedI hadn’t heard from a friend of mine in over a month so I contacted her to see what was up.  She was in a state of depression over something said to her about her latest book and she had simply given up her writing. With a few questions, I found out why.

It seems another person had told her they were unable to read more than a few pages of the new book.  This person said the book was riddled with so many errors it was pathetic and it had so many spelling errors, punctuation errors and typos that she couldn’t force herself to read it and that she had put it in her give-away pile and wouldn’t be reading the rest of it because it was so bad and that my friend was obviously not a real writer.

Now my friend took it all to heart and stopped writing.  It simply destroyed her fragile writer’s self-confidence.  She gave up on her dream because of someone’s hateful words.

There are a lot of writers out there who, because of their own ego feel they must destroy every other writer they possibly can out of sheer jealousy.  They can’t stand to see someone else achieving any degree of success since they themselves aren’t.  So, when another author succeeds where they haven’t then they feel it appropriate to, if you will, put them in their place as this person proceeded to do with their hurtful words.

If you want to say something about another person’s writing efforts, do it with grace, manners, and be helpful – not hurtful.  By that I mean, pick one or two things and offer a suggestion, not a criticism.  If there’s a passage that’s hard to understand maybe a simply “I didn’t understand this part.  You might want to read it and see if it can be reworded somehow.”  Simple things.  Unharmful things.

You can be helpful without being hurtful.  Keep in mind Karma is a bitch!  And Karma makes a point to come back and bite you in the long run.

Have you ever run into this type of person?  If so, how did you handle it?  Maybe it’ll help my friend find her dream again.  I hope so.

Alabama Bound

August 2, 2017

So, here’s the info you’ve all been waiting for. I know.  Yes, Biker Dude rode up to my house around 2:30 a.m. last Saturday.  As usual, he walked into my house and immediately hit the floor so Mouse, the little Diva of Doggies, could check him out.  He came complete with chicken stick in fingers.

Mouse was, of course, a little suspicious but it didn’t take her but a moment to decide the chicken stick was not something out to get her mommie.  But just in case it was, she ate it.  Once that was accomplished, she started her trip of sniffing all the way around Biker Dude.

Biker Dude, of course, lay there patiently until Mouse made her way all the way around him and back to the beginning where she began playing in his hair.  Once again, she recognized her old friend and he won her little Diva of Doggies heart.  She was satisfied and I could leave.

I arrived in Alabama about 6 p.m. Saturday evening and have been having fun ever since.  We’ve eaten, shopped, and went target practicing.

Thanks to all of you who showed up at Mr. Bill’s to see me.  It was a wonderful time and I so enjoyed seeing all of you again!  Always wish I could stay longer for another chance to see those who couldn’t join us.  Maybe next time I’m down.

Today we celebrated my dad’s 93rd birthday and he enjoyed himself with frog legs and fried green tomatoes along with some banana pudding and a peanut butter birthday cake.  Life is good.

Sometimes I Just Have to Laugh at Myself

July 6, 2017
Well, sometimes I just have to laugh at myself and the situations I get myself into.
 
DSCN3770I was doing some housework and was in the process of dusting. Doesn’t take too much brain power to dust, unless you have one bad knee. So, I have this coffee table that has a glass top to it. The glass top sits on top of a black panther. Now, in order to dust the panther (which really needed some dusting), I have to sit down on the floor because of my one bad knee.
 
Mouse-7So, I sit down on the couch and slide my butt onto the floor. Mouse, the little Diva of Doggies, of course, thinks oh boy, it’s time to play. So she’s nipping and biting around on the tail of my t-shirt while I’m trying to dust this thing. I’m schooching along on the floor, going around the coffee table dusting as I go (dusting the floor with the seat of my pants in the process – that’s multi-tasking).
It takes me awhile to get all the way around it, but finally I’m done.  And then, the problem starts.  I’m sitting there on my butt and I can’t pull my bad knee up to kneel on it (which I wouldn’t be able to do anyway) and I’m having a heck of a time trying to get the other knee to cooperate and fold up in the small space I have to work with.  So I try one way, and then another and I’m beginning to see the humor in my situation.
I can’t get up.  It’s the middle of the day.  I could call my son or daughter-in-law, but they’re both working.  As far as I know, all my neighbors are working.  Don’t have their phone numbers programmed into my cell phone anyway so wouldn’t be able to call them (may have to remedy that).  So, I’m running through numbers on my cell phone to see who might be able to come rescue me.
I could call the Fire Department or the Police but I figure they have better things to do and besides, Mouse would not let them through the door.  She’d definitely try ripping off their little toe if they even got close to her mommie.
So, I’m thinking okay, writer friend Darrel Day from Ackley or writer friend Birdie Hawks from Winterset.  They’re both in my phone and usually home during the day.  But, before I break down and call them to drive into Des Moines, I’ll give it another try.
So, I wiggle and squiggle until I finally get up on the one good knee, and then I’m stuck again.  Bad knee isn’t going to push me up off the floor without complaining a whole lot!  But, it’s that or look like a total idiot when someone comes to break in my door to get inside to get me up off the floor.  Wait a minute!  Some of those firemen are quite nice looking hunks.  I may have to rethink this!  Hmmmmmmmm, this could be fun!
I’ll let you know what happens.

An Open Letter to Author Sharon Sala

June 26, 2017

Dear Sharon,

WhippoorwillAs you know, we have never met but I feel as though I have known you for many years.  The reason I feel that way is because many years ago I stopped by my local bookstore one evening on my way home from work looking for something new to read.  I happened to pick up a copy of a book that seemed interesting to me, although I had never heard of the author.  That book was one you had written entitled “Whippoorwill.”

I bought the book, took it home and sat down to read a chapter or two before going to bed.  I read the first sentence and everything around me disappeared.  The town of Lizard Flats sprung to life along with the town’s whore, Leticia Murphy.  I felt her sense of hopelessness and longing in the first paragraph and I immediately hoped, by the end of the book, she would get her “second chance.”  The next thing I knew it was morning and I had just turned the last page of the book.  I had laughed.  I had cried.  Needless to say, the book did not disappoint.

I went to work that day with no sleep.  I cursed your name and told everyone in the office about this most wonderful book I had just read.  Several of the ladies went out on their lunch break and bought their own copies.  They, too, came in to work the next day with no sleep.

The Amen TrailSince the book had already been out a few years when I first stumbled upon it, I knew there had to be more books out there by this same wonderful author so it was back to the bookstore for me and I was delighted to find there were two more books in the series of the life of Leticia Murphy.  I bought them both.  I was like a kid in a candy store!  Or a heroin addict with his next fix in hand.  I couldn’t wait to get home to begin the next book, “The Amen Trail.”  Same scenario happened.  Thank goodness it was a weekend.  I was again up all night lost in the world of Leticia Murphy, the town’s whore, and Eulis Potter, the town’s drunk.  I laughed.  I cried.  I sighed.  I cringed.  These characters were alive on the page.  I could hear their words and feel every emotion.

The Hen HouseBut, it didn’t stop there.  As soon as I finished that one, there was one more to go and I couldn’t stop now so I spent the day reading “The Hen House.”  It was an emotional roller coaster ride to the very end.  I just didn’t cry, I bawled.  This woman had been through so much, yet she was strong and withstood the storm.

As I have done on so many occasions now, I picked up a book to read last night.  It was one I’d read countless times before.  Yes, I’ve been up again all night with my friends, Leticia and Eulis as they start their adventure in a town called Lizard Flats.  Today, I’ll travel with them on “The Amen Trail” and tonight, once again I’ll bawl as “The Hen House” comes to a close.

All I can say is thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Masterfully written, full of emotions, characters worth rooting for and beautifully written prose.  Everything a book should be.  I long for the day when I can say my own writing is half as good as Sharon Sala’s.  That will be an accomplishment I can be proud of.

May your imagination never end and your writing never cease.  Always, Maggie

The Story of Biker Dude

June 12, 2017

18921085_10210586450032071_4460538601526270055_oOnce again, I will be heading south in a few weeks to spend time with my dad.  He turns 93 this year and is still going strong.  I’ll pack my car, leave out before the sun comes up and drive for 14-16 hours.

While I’m gone, I need someone to house sit and someone to take care of Mouse, the little Diva of Doggies.  That someone has been Biker Dude for many years.

In the beginning, I had a dog sitting service watch Mouse.  They would come to my house twice daily to be sure she had plenty of food and water.  One year, I accidentally found out the service wasn’t doing what I hired them to do.

Lucky for me, my friend suggested I give Biker Dude a call.  I had met Biker Dude many years ago through this friend.  He rides a big honkin’ Harley and I swear it looks small beside him.  Biker Dude is well over 6’.  Not sure of his weight but it has to be around 275-300 pounds of pure steel muscle; broad shoulders, long hair kept in a ponytail; complete facial hair (beard, mustache, side burns).  I do believe a grizzly bear would take one look at him and run in the opposite direction from pure fear.  He lives out of town but my friend thought he might like to hang out at my house for a few days.  So I called and he came.

IMG_3646Over the years, Biker Dude has “doggie sat” for me every time I need to be gone for an extended period of time.  You might wonder why on earth this behemoth of a man would doggie sit a 5-pound chihuahua?  Simple.  Because she wants him to.

Mouse took to him the first time she saw him.  That’s because he came bearing treats – Gerber Junior Baby Sticks (her favorite).  He ducked through the door as he came into my house and had to be mindful of the ceiling fans.  First thing he did, when he got inside was to lie down on my kitchen floor and let Mouse sniff him until she was content he was no threat.  Animals seem to know who can be trusted and who can’t.

Next, still lying on the floor, he opened the jar of chicken sticks and took one out.  Slowly she made her way up to it. Grabbed it from his fingers and ran to her house and went inside with it.  Still, Biker Dude never moved.  Mouse ate the chicken stick in just about two seconds flat.  Then went back to see if she could get another one for this thing on the floor.  He obliged her.  This time she just ate it right where she was and looked at him again as if to say, “Well, can’t you see my mouth is empty.”

He put the lid back on the jar and sat it down on the floor.  Mouse sniffed the jar, then began her sniffing journey around him again.  He even reached up and pulled the holder from his ponytail and let the hair fall.  She liked that.  She buried her nose in it as he talked soft baby talk to her.  She was in love.  Eventually, she’d let him pet her and soon enough he was allowed to pick her up and give her kisses on her little pink nose.

He stays with her the entire time I’m gone.  Moves right in and they do everything together.  He sits on the couch with her and watches television.  When it’s time for bed, he takes her upstairs and they crawl into my guest bed together.  She used to love to ride on his Harley with him (in her old age now, she doesn’t ride anywhere with anyone, including me).  He’d stick her inside his jacket and off they’d go.  She was the hit at the biker gatherings.  Little dog and big biker dude.  No one could touch either of them.

Now, after a few years of him doggie sitting, she knows that roaring sound she hears means her buddy is coming.  She remembers and he remembers.  He remembers to lie down on the floor, so he’s closer to her height, and he remembers to lie still until she’s had her fun scratching and sniffing in his hair.  He remembers to bring her favorite treat and feed them to her.  And she remembers she’s in love with a monstrosity of a man who treats her with gentle hands and a warm heart.  To everyone else, he’s Biker Dude.  To a little dog named “Mouse,” he’s just her big old teddy bear.  And she loves him.

Best Seller or Not – That is the Question

June 9, 2017

Old Lady croppedI’m sure this blog will probably stir up some trouble for me.  But then, what is life without trouble?  So here goes.

I’ve been told during numbers of writers’ workshops/ conferences, and read in numbers of books, it’s the algorithms of Amazon which contribute to placing your book on the best seller lists.  It seems how well a book is actually written doesn’t necessarily count.

Let me explain.  Supposedly what happens is this:  your book gets to a certain number of reviews on Amazon.  Not just any review will do, however.  It’s the verified book purchase reviews that count.  In other words, the reviewer must have purchased the book from Amazon.  Once your book hits a certain number of reviews, the Amazon algorithms begin to notice it and your book begins to be listed at the bottom of the page in the “Customers who bought this book also bought” section.  People begin to notice your book and some actually purchase it, which moves it up in the rankings a little bit more.  Thus, the system feeds upon itself.  Once Amazon begins to do the selling work for you, you can sit back and watch that book’s numbers go up.

This is all well and good except for one little flaw.  It seems to me, some of those books on the best seller list are poorly written.  The rules of writing are not followed.  Heck, for some of those books, the rules of writing have never even been seen!  I know, some of you are saying rules are made to be broken.  Sure.  Go right ahead.  Break the rules.  As long as you break them for a purpose and you do it well, then more power to you.  It’s that little pesky problem of doing it well.

15976961_1202997673129163_84120985317127045_nI’m reading a top selling author’s newest book at the moment.  I can barely make myself read it.  Why?  Because it reads like a first draft.  Every rule of writing I’ve ever been taught is broken in the first chapter.

For instance, the heroine is talking.  When she finishes, the next sentence in the same paragraph, is the hero’s thoughts.  Reading it stopped me cold.  I had to go back and re-read to figure out who was doing the thinking.  The next sentence is in the omniscient view point.  In other words, at the end of the sentence which gives me the hero’s thoughts, the writer pipes in with, “and little did she know that in a few more days” such and such was going to happen.  Well, if our heroine didn’t know it, why was it on the page?  Everything in that paragraph should have been from the heroine’s viewpoint and she certainly cannot see what is inside the hero’s head or what is going to happen to her in two or three days, unless she’s psychic but there was no mention of that.

This particular book has absolutely no discernible conflict whatsoever.  People, there should be conflict on every page, or at least every few pages!  There should be something IMG_4722that makes me turn the page to find out what happens next.  Burn the freakin’ house down!  Throw some conflict at those characters to make them grow from the people they were at the beginning of the story to the better people they become at the end of the story.

I’d venture to say none of those poorly written books on the best seller list actually saw an editor and if they did, the editor should have been fired for not doing his or her job in the first place.

My “keeper” bookshelves are filled with excellent, well written books from a variety of authors (John Grisham, Sharon Sala, J.A. Konrath, Stephen King, Jennifer Crusie).  They learned their craft and learned it well.  They honed their craft and made it something to be proud of.  There are goals, motivation and conflict for every character.  You feel each character’s emotions right along with him or her.  You laugh, you cry, you tremble in fear.

Now, I may not be the best author out there.  In fact, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I’m not.  But, I do my best to follow the rules I know about and if I break one, it’s because I haven’t been taught that particular one yet.  I have my work critiqued by a number of people.  Not by my mother or friends, or family, but by other writers who give me their honest, sometimes brutal, opinion.  And I want that brutal opinion because it makes my writing better.  Once that’s done and I think I have written my manuscript to the best of my ability, I pay hard earned money to have it edited by someone trained in the business before I ever send it off for possible publication.

No, I’m not on any of the best seller lists, but you know what?  I don’t want to be there just because of Amazon’s algorithms.  I don’t want to be there if my work is shoddy and poorly written.  It used to be an author earned that position by how well his or her work was crafted.  It appears that’s not necessary anymore.  It seems no matter how poorly it is written any book can make it to the best seller lists now.  All it takes is the right number of reviews to increase your book’s ranking and send it skyrocketing to the top.

I wonder what Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Hemingway, Harper Lee, Agatha Christie, Louis L’Amour and the other greats who’ve gone before us would think of some of the books on those lists today.

Now before you get your panties in a bunch or your tightie whities in a wad, there are some excellent writers on those lists and kudos to them.  They’ve earned the right to be there.  Those are the books I love to read and those are the books I don’t mind plunking down my hard-earned cash to buy.  It just happened that I picked three from the lists and found them all lacking in just plain writing ability.  Those books should never have been on the best seller lists to begin with.

And that, my friends, makes me very disappointed and very sad.

Along Came A Spider

April 2, 2017

burning_car_by_nomyurfaceoff-d3cncioThose of you who know me, undoubtedly know I have a fear of those little creepy, crawly things with all those beady little eyes and all those long legs known as “spiders.”  No, I do not kill them but it’s only because I can’t get close enough to them to do so.  I mean, even using a flyswatter would put me within too close a distance for comfort.  Nope.  Can’t even suck them up in a vacuum cleaner – heaven forbid they could find their way out and seek revenge!  People who live within screaming distance of me, know why I’m screaming and they come to my rescue.  I was once caught in a ladies’ room because one of those creatures was crawling across the floor between me and the exit door.  It’s a wonder I didn’t have a heart attack and die right there!

I suppose if you dig down to the root of the problem, my fear probably stems from my childhood days of using an “outhouse.”  A two-holer.  It was located about halfway down a hill behind our house.  Mr. and Mrs. Spider and family resided in, around, and on the way to the outhouse.  In the early morning hours, while the dew was still on the weeds along the pathway, there would be spider webs glistening in the early morning rays of sunshine.  Once you got to the outhouse, I do believe there were spiders guarding the door to keep anyone from going inside – especially me!

3709c8948b6d2485adb8c849eb7fe798Once you got inside, well, you needed to watch where you sat.  And, just when you thought it was all clear, the ugliest, biggest, meanest looking thing, with at least a thousand of those beady little eyes would crawl out of some crevice and just dare you to sit down.

Now, in my eyes, these were not tiny little creatures.  They were humongous!  They could pick me up and swallow me whole!  They could bite off an arm or leg.  Humongous, I tell you, just humongous!  On top of that, their bodies were all different shapes, sizes, colors, some with long legs, and some with short ones.  But any way you looked at them, they were ugly critters.  I probably came by my fear of spiders easy enough.

Let’s get back to yesterday.  I’m innocently driving along the interstate minding my own business, staying between my lanes, doing the speed limit, not bothering anyone UNTIL!  “Along came a spider and sat down” on my dashboard.  That was not a good thing.  I mean, I was on a trip a few years back and I saw something “black” in my shower at the motel.  Ran out and started banging on the door of the room next to me and had the very nice gentleman go in and kill it before I could go back into the room.

So, having a spider plop itself down on my dashboard when I’m doing 65 mph in a moving vehicle was not a good thing.  I’m sure to the people behind me it must have looked as though I was trying to shampoo a porcupine inside my vehicle!  Lucky for me there was no one beside me because I slammed on the brakes as I pulled over to the side of the road in front of a semi who happened to be broke down and had those orange cone thingys out and all that.

I whip in, in front of that semi, and I think I was outside of my vehicle before I even got the door open.  Now, you have to realize I’m Southern.  I was born and raised in the South, the Deep South.  Alabama to be exact.  So, I’m outside my vehicle and I’m having one more “hissy” fit.  A real Southern hissy fit!  I’m screaming like a banshee, jumping up and down, slinging my hands and arms and yelling for somebody to set the thing on fire!

11140079_10153291981419594_8950620987583217017_nThe poor semi driver, who must have already been upset over the rocks and dust I threw all over the place when my vehicle slid to a stop in front of him – 65 mph to zero in about two seconds flat tends to do that.  Anyway, he must have thought I was having an epileptic fit of some sort, plus, he heard the word “fire.”  Well, that did it.  He grabbed his fire extinguisher and came running.  I managed, in all the screaming and yelling going on (mine), to explain he needed to kill the humongous spider sitting on the dash of my vehicle.

It took a minute for the whole episode to sink into his brain, I think.  Then very calmly, he reached inside my vehicle and with his thumb squished the spider right where it sat.  Well, that sent chills all through me and I shivered for about five minutes afterwards.  He was kind enough to grab a Kleenex and wipe off the dash and he even took the Kleenex with him so the spider couldn’t miraculously come back to life and get even with me for having it squished.  I made him check out the rest of my vehicle just be sure the rest of the family wasn’t lurking somewhere inside waiting and watching for their opportunity to get even.  Once that was done, I thanked him profusely.  You know what, he said it was okay.  His wife was the same way and he just hoped there was somebody out there who’d do the same for her if she ever found herself in my situation.

So, next time you see a woman throwing a conniption fit alongside the highway, stop and kill the spider would ya?   I wonder if all those people passing by me yesterday knew just how close they were to a humongous spider!