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A Chicago area girl born and bred, I've lived in Mississippi, Montana, Michigan, and...ten years in the wilds of northeastern Indiana, where I fought the noble fight as a book editor. Now, I'm back in Illinois once more...for good. (At least I intend to make it that way!)

Monday, September 19, 2022

For Musical Monday...A Surprise!

 Yes, it was for ME, too.
Check it out!


Monday, September 12, 2022

A Miracle Musical Monday!

I think this is probably one of the best ways you could start any week. But, then, again, I think it's pretty much impossible to listen to Haydn and not smile...

So enjoy the rest of your week with this as accompaniment!


Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Story So Far...

I admit, I stole the title for this entry from a Battlefield Band album. But it's an apt way to describe how we're all doing, don't you think?

And I had an interesting perspective on how I'm "doing," almost five and a half years after Patrick's death, during a message I wrote to a man with whom I'm chatting on Catholic Chemistry.  Yes, I've done some dating services. No, you don't want to know how many...or that I was 7-for-7 on scammers with at least one of them...or what some of the men out there seem to be focused on when they talk about a new relationship. (It's a three-letter word. Use your imagination.) But this particular entry was an answer to his musings about whether he may have been too picky all his life, looking for a woman to settle down with--he'd never married--and the makings of "chemistry." He asked me if I believed in it, and if it was something that happened fast, or something that "grew" on you...what I thought.  And I looked at that, and just laughed.

How I answered him, I think, shows a great deal about how far I've come, where I've come to, and what I'm looking at in this new reality of mine. See what you think:

Brace yourself, because you asked the wrong girl about "chemistry." LOL! Yes, I believe in it...boy, do I! It could be said that I kind of NEED to, as a romance writer...but I'm lucky/fortunate/blessed enough to have also had terrific chemistry on my "second time around," and I miss him every single day.
I say "second time around" because technically, I had a first marriage--but I was never married in the eyes of the Church, and I've come to refer to that relationship as my "fake first husband." Oh, we were legal and all--but we married at age 20, and we frankly didn't have a clue what we were doing. The young man was a charmer who proposed to me on the second date. (!) Coming from a father who was verbally abusive, emotionally crippled, and not the kind of "daddy" any little girl should have, I ate up the affection, laughter, and compliments of this guy, and I thought that was all it'd take. I did my best to be a good little Baptist wife, kowtowed to his preacher father, and all the rest. Seven years later, when I discovered my husband was a chronic liar, couldn't hold a job, and had a disturbing affinity to violent and/or pornographic literature...I bailed. I got a legal separation, moved out into my own apartment, and pursued full-time music study...
...and then, I encountered the love of my life.
I don't say I "met" him because, in fact, I had already MET Patrick. He was in the same music classes I was, we performed in several ensembles together (as well as performing in separate ensembles at the same concerts!), and I knew OF him. But he was a very quiet, reserved, and shy drummer, and so I never knew him, per se...until one night, (purely "by chance") I sat next to him at a choir pizza party, we started talking--and the bond was immediate. We "clicked" so well that, that night going home in the car, my hands were shaking on the steering wheel. I knew SOMETHING had happened to me--what, I wasn't sure yet!
From there, we became fast friends, then best friends....and eventually, he decided he wanted to date me. Truth to tell, I was head-over-heels for him probably about from "hello," and he claimed he'd had a "sign" early on that I was the one. But he was a very, very cautious soul, and he wanted to take his time pursuing a relationship with a divorced woman, especially since she was 7 years older. (Yeah. Just call me "cougar"! LOL)
But the chemistry? Happened like lightning. Everyone who knew both of us told me repeatedly that we had "something special." And we did. It was more than just our shared faith, our shared music, our shared weird sense of humor, or--let's face it--a whole lot of just plain physical attraction. Fundamentally, we looked at the world the same way, which is kind of my informal definition of "compatibility." And yes, we went through all kinds of trials...but we laughed almost every single day, never lacked for conversation, and came through some very rough times even more in love than we started.
Does that mean he was perfect? Heck, no. Neither am I. And there are a lot of things about the relationship, and his personality and habits, that I DON'T miss. But in balance? I believe we were absolutely meant for each other, and had been from before either of us was born. That kind of "soulmate" truly IS rare, and I know a lot of people who settle for less; I feel sorry for them. But if you may have been a bit picky about what you were looking for in terms of a wife, imagine how picky I am NOW! (LOL) Yes, I know the bar is set incredibly high, and I may never find another partner that good. As Tom Hanks' character says in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, "It doesn't happen twice." It does, of course, in that romantic movie. It may not for me, but if it doesn't, I have to say....I'm okay anyway. Yes, it's lonely. But it's lonely for a particular brand of person, a particular brand of relationship...not just for "having someone" in my life. And that difference is important.
That's why I also believe that the best thing someone who's looking for a "partner" can do is to learn how to be happy alone. I did that as a single girl in college, and I'm doing it now. Put your imprint on your space. Surround yourself with things you love. Do things, as a single person, that treat YOU well. So many times in my grief-support group, people will talk about not wanting to cook a nice meal "just for one person," because it seems like it's "not worth it." To which I want to say, "Of course, it's worth it. That one person is YOU, and you deserve good food." The same applies to the rest of one's life--you deserve a place you can snuggle up and "nest" in, something far more than just a place to eat, sleep, or wash up. You want a haven for yourself, and you want to treat yourself well. Because Jesus says. "Love your neighbor as yourself..." but all too often, people forget the "as yourself" part. It has to be part of the mix, or you won't know how to love someone else well!
So, yeah. This very long answer to your long post boils down to a couple of answers. I most definitely DO believe in "chemistry," and I believe you don't know if it's there or not until you're face to face with the person. You can think it's there through such things as these messages, or even over the phone...but there's another component to it that only happens when you're physically present with the other person. That's when you know for sure. It can happen very fast, or it can build nice and slow...but for me, it has to be there, or I have to say, "Thanks, but no, thanks," to pursuing anything further.
Hope this gives you some insights!


Monday, September 05, 2022

Some Fun and Frolic for Musical Monday!

 This.  Just way too much fun, IMHO. Although it could also be said there IS no such thing as too much fun...
(as the old country tune said so well!)


Monday, August 29, 2022

"Russian" Into Musical Monday!

Yeah, I know. I couldn't resist.

But this is worth the trip.
As I say in my Facebook post, I'm "T-H-I-S close" to getting this under control. And when I do, the chills that will run through my system could air-condition this house for the rest of summer.

Good chills. Trust me.

In the meantime, enjoy this version. I certainly do!


Saturday, August 27, 2022

What's the Good Word?

Probably many of you are too young to remember what the question above was a common greeting...but that's neither here nor there. 😉

I've had to stop reading two books this week.
One promised to be a neat, paranormal suspense book, with ghosts and hauntings and danger and all. I was really looking forward to it.
Until I got into the book, and discovered that everybody in it had potty mouths.
Yes. Including the seven-year-old son.

But what wore on me even more was the casual gutter speech from the parents.
Specifically, Mom.

Now, it's a British book. So, I had to tell myself over and over again, "Brits are cruder in their everyday speech than you're used to."
So when she teases her husband by calling him a "cheeky bastard," I could laugh along. He was being one, as a matter of fact. 
But when she greeted her kids, first thing in the morning, by saying, "You're up early. Did you shit the bed or something?"

I stopped.

And, while I did read a little further into the book, at that point, I lost interest.

The book had many "tripping points" for those of us used to an opening that moves fast, anyhow; it delved into great and meticulous detail about the layout of this fantastic estate where that the woman was going to be live-in manager. Describing in fine specifics the lengths, and breadths, and numbers of doors, and the whole shot. Even that, I could adapt a book where, clearly, the setting is as much a character as the people. I get that. I've even done it. Although not, it must be said, in such exhaustive geographic detail.

But not a mother thinking it's in any way remotely affectionate to tease her children about being up early by asking if someone's defecated in a bed.
I wonder, to this moment, what she would have responded if they'd said, "Yes."
Part of me, I confess, wanted them to. Just to see her jaw drop.

But they took that in good spirit, as if that was the kind of thing their mother said to them all the time. And the notion of that turned my stomach.
When the language of the kids didn't improve any over the next few pages...I stopped. I just had had enough of their smart-ass mouths. 

I no longer cared if the ghost got any of them. In fact, I was rooting for it.

The same has happened with a second book I started, and was quite absorbed in, because a lot out of it is funny. It's another paranormal thriller, with a black-humor bent in it that I appreciate. 
I even was heartened when, in the first several pages, the language was actually cleaner than I expected.

Unfortunately, that didn't last.
But the kicker for me? One particular scene, upon which a major incident in the story gets built. A scene in which our "hero"'s wife is being, shall we say, sexually indulged by one of her fellow workers. 
Mind you, they're only separated, she and the hero. Not divorced yet. And he doesn't really want to divorce her.
Until that moment, when he doesn't catch them directly in the act...but right afterward.
And he spares us no description of what that looks like. Body parts, reactions, smells, the whole thing.

This is piled on top of an increasingly foul text anyway, in which our hero is dealing with mobsters and semi-mobsters and people who once did business with the mob, and petty crooks, and the whole shot...and none of them, apparently, know any creative words and terms beyond "a**hole," *d***head," and, of course, the ever-popular "f**k" (and all its forms).  

A little of that, I put up with. 
When we then start to wallow, deeper and deeper, into language--be it conversation or description--that makes me want to take a shower when I'm done reading it?
I'm outta there.

Which brings up my ever-present question.
There are over 600,000 words in the English language.
Why can't people learn to use some more of them?
And why don't publishers demand better?

One time, someone posted on Twitter that he couldn't understand why people had a problem with the word "f**k." 
I said, because it's vulgar, obscene, and repetitive.
To which another respondent agreed with the first poster and said, "Oh, but there are situations in which it's the perfect word."
To which I responded, "Only if you're too lazy to find any others."

I stand by that.
I stand by that as pertains to "a**hole," as pertains to *d***head," and a host of other terms that are so peppered throughout most contemporary prose that, were they actual pepper, you couldn't consume the dish they were used on.
Which, when you think about it, is a very good metaphor.

People will say, over and over, "But this is the way people talk."
To which I can only answer, "It's not the way I talk. And it's not the way people with a grain of decency talk. Or write. Or narrate things."
Above all, it's not the way people who actually want to convey real English talk...or write. 
And before you scream protests? It can be done.
It has been. Countless times. 

You can write about the seamiest, grittiest, most down-and-dirty plot points in the world in your prose without a single one of these lazy words.
And, no, it won't sound like a Sunday school teacher wrote it.
Because there are some really wonderful words in the lexicon that can be used as substitutes for these words. And they're not just substitutes, in that you're doing some knee-jerk "cleaning up" of your writing--they're actually better words.
More descriptive.
More vivid.

One or two, or half a dozen of these other "gems," in speech? If you want to have your characters portrayed as lazy speakers, go ahead.

But peppering them throughout narrative, throughout thoughts, throughout conversation as if they're anything but the nauseating insensitivities they are?
You do that, I'm going to get tired of digging through the excrement to get to the pony. But worse than that, for your author's that I'm going to doubt that there even is a pony in there to begin with.

And I will set your book aside.
And I will delete it from my Kindle.
And I promise, I will never recommend it to anybody. 
Do you really want that reaction from a reader? Any reader?

You all can do better. I know you can.
Give it a try.
Go ahead.
I dare you.


Monday, August 22, 2022