Friday, February 29, 2008

Mega-Author Blog Fest - March 3-8

March 3-8 - Mark your calendars and don't miss a day. I've lined up some of the most exciting, new and experienced, authors to join a blog fest here. You'll get to read excerpts, share their news and ask questions. Next week, please join me in welcoming my good friends:

Anita Davison
Anne Whitfield
Brenda Weaver
Brittany Kingston
Carol Shenold
Chris Redding
Clare London
Diane Wylie
Jannine Petska
Jennifer Pittam
Kim Chatel
Kim Richards
Kim Smith
Kristin Battestella
Lea Schizas
Lindy Hudis
Lisabet Sarai
Margaret Tanner
Meagan Hatfield
Phyllis Campbell
Rayka Mennen
Rose Skinner
Shawn Oetzel
Sue Viders
Tabitha Shay
Vicki Gaia

Of course, Prissy will be here, too:







Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sharing My New Cover


The excitement never dulls. This book has been a real labor of love for reasons I can't explain. I connected with Sarah on so many levels, probably because she possesses all the traits I wish I did. She's brave, beautiful and determined not to let go of her beliefs--to stand up and argue when things aren't fair. Even when her heart aches, she's rational enough to make the most difficult decision of her life.
Sarah's Journey - Coming from Eternal Press in 2008. Stay tuned for more information. Here's an UNEDITED excerpt:


Sarah started toward her smoldering Conestoga, now barely recognizable. She’d used her last penny to buy it to make this trip, hiring a driver and packing everything she owned into the beautifully-crafted prairie schooner. This wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out. Headed for California, she wanted to leave all her bad memories in Missouri and forge new and happier ones. Maybe any minute she would wake up and discover this was all just a horrible nightmare. Her throbbing head told her it wasn’t likely.

The smaller wagon behind Sarah’s stood unscathed except for the arrows jutting from the canvas covering. In contrast to violence, delicate feathers decorating the shafts swayed in the breeze.

Her eyes smarted from drifting smoke. She called out again, but still received no response. Sarah summoned strength, gathered her wits and forced her reluctant legs to move. Unsteady at first, her determination gave her strength. She fought the urge to retch when she passed by the body of the wagon master, Mr. Simms. The top of his head had been slashed off, leaving a bloody pulp. She jerked her gaze away only to view three more male bodies, one clutching a lance stuck deep in his chest. All had been desecrated in the same savage manner.

She swallowed hard and forced herself to continue her search. Circling the camp, she found more bodies as she went from wagon-to-wagon. Next to what remained of her own, she found her driver, Fred Tanner. His eyes stared lifelessly at the sky; an arrow protruded from a dried circle of blood in the middle of his shirt. He, too, had been scalped. Sarah bent, and focusing only on his placid face, closed his eyelids. Guilt gnawed at her, and she straightened and whispered a silent prayer on his behalf. In their business arrangement, he had ended up paying far more dearly than she had.

Hope pushed her onward in a quest to find someone alive. The dead children sickened her more than the deceased adults. Barely starting their lives, they came to a bitter end far too soon. She discovered most of them huddled with their mothers in the backs of the unburned wagons, fear still etched on their tiny faces.

The smell of charred flesh hung heavy in the air and made it difficult to breathe. Sarah crinkled her nose in disgust, her shoulders sagged. Each person deserved a proper burial, but she couldn’t do it all by herself. Her head pounded in rhythm with the panic in her heart as she realized the seriousness of her predicament. The Indians had taken all the animals, and from what she could tell, most of the food. She had no idea where she was or how she would survive.

Sarah collapsed to the ground and buried her face in her hands. Sobs wracked her body as she mourned each person’s passing. She’d barely gotten to know them. Only fifteen days ago in Independence, Missouri, these twelve wagons had gathered, full of excited and happy faces, ready to journey to a new life.

She cried until her tears ran dry, then finding composure, convinced herself weeping wouldn’t help. At twenty-two-years old, she was determined to see twenty-three. But how? She could walk for help, but in which direction, and how far? Even if she filled her canteen with fresh water from the stream, how long would it last before she reached another source? What if the Indians came back? It appeared they had taken all the weapons leaving her defenseless. She couldn’t just sit and wait. Besides, in the warm spring weather it wouldn’t be long before the bodies started to decay. Leaving appeared to be her only option.

She pulled a ladle from a nearby water barrel and took a long draw. The coolness quenched her thirst and eased her parched throat, but another scan of the deserted campground stirred her fear. It was time to begin her trek and she wasn’t ready. In fact she felt scared to death. She dropped the dipper back in place and struggled against consuming hopelessness by remembering her faith. God had seen her through other troubled times, surely he wouldn’t abandon her now. He saved her for reason, but what?

Truckin with Prissy Again


Poor Prissy...she isn't having a very good time in the Peterbuilt. I empathize with her. If you've never trucked across 48 states on an air seat, you just haven't lived the good life. *lol* To say I had to hitch up my bra straps a few notches is an understatement. But luckily, that exciting part of my life is behind me.

Some of the trip was fun and I enjoyed spending time with my husband, but give me a good hot shower, clean clothes and a places to tinkle besides on a porta-potty in the back of a moving big rig on a rough road. :) Since I usually sleep with a white noise machine, the all night purring of diesel engines around us didn't bother me at all, but I did have to get use to a vibrating bed. You might think that makes for a great sex life, but I have one word for you... NOT!

People have no idea how difficult the life of a trucker really is, and let me tell you folks, I never respected them more for putting up with the antics of people in cars than I did after having witnessed stupidity for a month. It was like a wake-up call the next time I got into a car. All I can tell you is now, when I see a trucker's signal, I flash him and let him in. Or HER...the number of female drivers is on the increase. I admire you 'ladies of the highway', you've got more guts than I have.

Hubby kept suggesting that we team drive. I considered getting my license until I witnessed the parking situations. Sometimes it's like threading a needle to park that 53 foot trailer between two others, especially when you're using mirrors only. If you look in the rear view mirror, you only see the sleeper. *lol* Or me sitting on the bed, biting my nails. It made me so nervous, I had to close the curtains and hide until hubby was done...either that or get out and take a walk. It takes practice to park those puppies, and often there was an audience. I always suffer from performance anxiety, so I figured it wasn't a career I should pursue. When I saw a woman take the stack off another rig in a truck stop, I decided, yep...it ain't for me!

Hubby drives locally now and is home at night. It's a vast improvement, but strange as seems, when a big rig passes us sometimes, I get an urge to suffer again. :)

Just remember everything you use, from aluminum foil to zinc oxide salve was brought by truck to your local stores. Keep on Trucking America, but please let the cost of fuel plummet cause we all end up paying in the end.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Promo Ain't Easy


Ever wonder why most blogs and websites are a never-ending display of pleas for votes or invitations to engage in contests? Simple. Most authors are involved in self-promotion to sell books, and nothing is more effective than speaking up about oneself. If we don't, no one else will. Many of us are with small press who don't have the budget the compete with the 'big dogs' of the publishing industry. The burden of promotion falls to the author, and if you remain silent, you remain invisible.

Trust me, it isn't always easy, especially for those of us who aren't very good at selling ourselves. I feel like the graphic...like I'm always talking to people's backs and my words fall short, but If I don't tell you about my books or contests, or prizes that I'm vying for, how will you ever find out? That's why I blog.

I try to keep my posts interesting and appealing enough to reel folks back, but writing every day and coming up with the right pizazz is a chore. I like humor, so I try to infuse a little every now and then. So far, I think I've managed to retain a few of you. :)

While I realize that you might care less if I'm in a contest for a video trailer, or nominated for special recognition for one of my works, it ultimately falls on you to decide if I win or not. I've never been good at begging, so all I can tell you is that no matter whether you vote for me or one of my peers in a contest or poll, you are recognizing someone's effort and showing your appreciation. Warm Fuzzies are something that we all need from time to time.

And speaking of warm fuzzies: Here's Prissy...
Now that I've got that out of the way. Please head over to The New Covey Awards and vote for your favorite cover and trailer. I have to admit that there are two there that a favorites of mine. *lol* LIke I said, no matter for whom you cast your vote, you'll make someone smile. Pay it forward.




Monday, February 25, 2008

Tour the US with Prissy


This is Prissy and her story. For the next few weeks, I'm going to treat you to sites that Prissy saw while riding with hubby and I while he drove across 48 states. I'll share pictures and a blurb, but then go on to other exciting things. Prissy was born in Utah at a truck stop there and now resides with a granddaughter in California. Lucky you! You get to view the world through the eyes of a stuffed dog. :)

In the meantime, I'm organizing another author's day here on my blog, so make sure you stay tuned to find out about some exciting reads...and Prissy's exciting journey.

Friday, February 22, 2008

H is for Homely

This is a preview of the blogging on Synoptic Storm. It's a wonderful group effort with six of my best friends. The link is on the sidebar if you'd like to visit and read more. We're doing a letter a week and this was my 'this weeks' entry.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say. But it seems that most of society judges people solely on their external appearance. While my fellow blogger, Ciara, finds that once you get to know people, they can actually transform from homely to appealing based on their internal make-up, the secret is in getting people to look that deeply. Homely means plain, and people lacking the proverbial 'good looks' don't usually get noticed in a good way.

Television, billboards and magazine advertisements feed us mostly with 'beautiful' people representing the masses. How often do you see a 'homely' person selling wares, pitching make-up, or holding up their lackluster tresses to attest to the magnificence of a certain shampoo? Rarely, if ever. Even most romance novels, alas, portray the hero and heroine as creatures with attributes to make you swoon.

Which hero would you rather picture in your romantic mind:

Antonio leapt from the back of his majestic stallion, removed his helmet and combed his fingers through his black mane of curls. His broad shoulders heaved beneath his tunic, and his breath came in gasps from the exhilaration of the joust.

or

Fred slipped in a puddle of tomato juice and landed with a resounding plop. With exasperated gasps, he heaved his obese self to his feet and leaned on the counter until he caught his breath. He stared at the red spill on the floor, while picking at the wart on the side of his face. He didn't even have tomato juice in the house. Where had it come from?

Okay, while the mystery of the tomato juice may niggle your curiosity, let's face it...most women don't want to picture a fat man with a wart on his face no matter how pretty he is on the inside. *lol*

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rerun of Contest Information


The prize for the contest won't be along in a few days, instead the winner will actually have to wait until Sparta Rose has been released in trade paperback. The very first autographed copy is being offered as the prize for the person who enters and WINS this writing challenge. PLEASE POST YOUR ENTRY AS A COMMENT.

I absolutely love Reader's Digest, especially their "Word Power" section. So, in honor of St. Patrick's day, I'm borrowing their 'green speak' list and asking you to write a short story using each word once and correctly. For example:

Janey searched for a shamrock on which to wish. Her mother made her boycott the local shop where she could easily buy one encased in plastic, but the owner, in his thick brogue</span>, had offended her mum when she accidentally dropped a vase and broke it into smithereens.

The words are:

Shamrock
boycott
brogue
smithereens
shillelagh
banshee
colleen
donnybrook
keen
blarney
twig
shebeen
boxty
macushla
drumlin

I'm asking a few fellow authors to help me judge and the winner will be announced on St. Patrick's Day here on my blog with their story featured. So, get busy.

Ginger

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Makes Me Wonder...

Not to gross you out, but since I've been sick, I've been spending a lot of 'sitting' time in the bathroom. My husband keeps his hot rod magazines in there and I found myself becoming highly irritated at how society caters to men. Can a man not look at a car without having a scantily-clad woman stretched across it? Does he really have to have a bimbo in a bikini holding up a 'moon' hubcap to be able to focus?

Think about it. Even on The Price is Right, some slender, shapely, gal with exposed cleavage has to point to the prizes. I doubt she's doing it for my benefit, as she bats her eyelashes and assumes a haughty pose.

Vanna White, on the Wheel of Fortune, struts from letter to letter in her designer gowns and flashes her pearly whites and uplifted boobs. Why? Would a man not be able to see giant alphabet letters without her? It's actually disgusting.

Ladies, how many times can you remember seeing a studly-looking guy point something out for your benefit? The game shows don't have half-naked men lounging on a car hood or pointing to a BBQ. But we don't need it. Thank goodness, we can see what's right in front of our eyes. Egads... I shudder to think of Alex Trebek with his shirt unbuttoned to the waist, showing a mat of gray-hair, while he licks his lips and reads the Jeopardy topics.

But back to the reading material that got me on this topic. It's only gotten worse in magazines. Now there's a new generation of car people... the 'old skool' look. Now the women aren't just flaunting their wares...they're covered in tatoos and look like a throw-back to the forties. What 'old shool' was that allowed in? Not mine, I can guarantee it. I don't even think I knew a tattooed guy, let alone a gal. Nothing like a dragon covering your back, arms and shoulders to show your feminine side. I pass.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Email Etiquette



Since email is the number one preferred method of communication these days, I thought it only fitting that I share what I view as some of the most annoying practices. I would like to point out that although I find them bothersome, that doesn't mean that I'm not also an offender.

Using all caps. - From day one, it's been drilled into my head that if you type in ALL CAPITALS, you're yelling. I hate to be yelled at, don't you?

Forwarding. - Something that makes me want to type in all caps... those who haven't learned how to forward a message so that every previous email address to which the post was sent doesn't appear. How many times have you had to click ten times to get to the meat of the message? Annoying isn't it? The answer is simple...hit forward from the actual message you want to send. Don't close it up and go back to page one and forward or you're sending pages and pages of email addresses. Although I've often been tempted to send every email listed a promotional message about my books, I've refrained. Besides, most people don't want their emails forwarded from one place to another. That's why there's the bcc: line.

Subject Lines - Wouldn't it be nice if we all remembered to change the subject line and make it fit the content of the message? Ever scan through digested messages and find yourself amazed that only one topic was discussed in all the posts? I recently opened a message that said "sad news" and it contained someone's 4-star book review. Didn't seem all that sad to me.

Typing urls with spaces and words - If you're going to give someone a link to your page, why not type it as such? It's so much easier to click on a link than to have to type the whole thing out. Don't use www ginger simpson dot com. :) And if you type it as a link...check your spelling.

Signature Lines - Nothing is more annoying than receiving an email that has a signature line longer than the message. If you're multi-published, rather than listing every book in your sig line, how about using a tag line or a link to where the books can be viewed. Chances are people aren't going to read through the entire list anyhow. Your signature line shouldn't be viewed as a post of its own.

Receiving 'lucky emails' - Please don't send me emails that threaten bad luck if I don't send it on to seven people within the next ten minutes, or promises an outpouring of money if I do. I don't believe yet I'm always afraid not to comply. Spare me the angst.

Digest Users - While I also use digest and realize it's value, the thing I find most annoying about it is being drawn back to a conversation that has already been discussed and settled. As a group moderator, I've often handled someone who's acted inappropriately only to have a 'digestee' bring up the whole settled manner all over again. I'm not sure there's a solution other than reading everything before responding.

As I said, I'm probably guilty of half the things that bother me. I especially get disgruntled at clicking on resonse messages that say, "thank you," "congratulations", "good going." I wonder, wouldn't these best be sent to personal emails, but then it's so much easier to just hit 'reply'. I deplore people who clip their messages and don't give any hint about what they are responding to. These are usually digest people who just read last Sunday's message and are answering on the following Friday. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Give me a clue. :)

The biggest problem I encounter in email is the lack of tone. People can't see your face, your smile or hear the chuckle in your voice. Don't make them guess when you're kidding. Give them an emoticon clue. :) Of course, then you risk becoming addicted to them and typing them throughout everything, like I do. *lol* goes a long way to giving someone an indication of your tone. Unfortunately, email has taken the place of phone calls and face-to-face meetings, and there are just some things you can't personalize no matter how hard you try.

I'll also remind you to be careful when forwarding emails. I recently found myself in the midst of a giant mess because someone sent a personal email to an entire loop. I didn't do or say anything wrong, but my name was mentioned in the post. No one was interested in an explanation and I found myself invited to go to hell and ostracized by people that once liked me. It was a horrible experience and left me paranoid.

I wonder what would have happened if it had been a post from me in which I actually said something unkind. Misdirected emails happen more often than you realize. Although, as I said, I didn't send the post nor did I have anything to do with composing it, I now make it a common practice to watch what I say. There is no confidentiality in email and what you say might come back and bite you in the butt. I have no desire to have teeth marks in my derrière.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day


As promised, I'm listing the winner of my latest contest. I promised to enter everyone who posted a comment during the month of January into a hat for the drawing. Well, the big draw has taken place and the winner is:

Anonymous Latesha said...

LOL Ginger, that was good. It's crazy how a line can take all of the fun out of writing. I didn't see a thing that offended me. I was waiting to read more.

January 23, 2008 7:16 PM

Latesha, please email me at Ginger's Email with your snail mail address so I can mail your prize. Remember...it's something chocolate and something furry. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ON WRITING

My very good friend and critique partner, Diane, shared this with me, and I asked her permission to share it on my blog. It sort of sums up what we writers face, besides writer's block, threats of plagiarism, and covers that don't work. :) Since I'm still ailing, it came at a good time. I don't have a clear mind to be creative today. Thanks, Diane.

On Writing

Destroy those 'ings' and other things,
Banish the woulds, coulds and shoulds.

Ignore the was and were of prose,
Cull passive voice, stay 'on your toes'.
But that's a cliche and too must be gone,
Of Words that end in 'ly' never grow fond.

To be or not to be must never be used,
To have and have not is over abused.

Don't say the 'felt' - describe how they feel,
Use active verbs to 'show' its appeal.

Never let your participles dangle.
To end in preposition must be strangled.
Don't start with But, As or And,
Keep your dialog tags as simple as 'said'.

To follow these rules, there is little left,
The plight of a writer makes me bereft.

By Diane Scott Lewis

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Saint Patrick's Day Writing Challenge


The prize for the contest won't be along in a few days, instead the winner will actually have to wait until Sparta Rose has been released in trade paperback. The very first autographed copy is being offered as the prize for the person who enters and WINS this writing challenge. PLEASE POST YOUR ENTRY AS A COMMENT.

I absolutely love Reader's Digest, especially their "Word Power" section. So, in honor of St. Patrick's day, I'm borrowing their 'green speak' list and asking you to write a short story using each word once and correctly. For example:

Janey searched for a shamrock on which to wish. Her mother made her boycott the local shop where she could easily buy one encased in plastic, but the owner, in his thick brogue</span>, had offended her mum when she accidentally dropped a vase and broke it into smithereens.

The words are:

Shamrock
boycott
brogue
smithereens
shillelagh
banshee
colleen
donnybrook
keen
blarney
twig
shebeen
boxty
macushla
drumlin

I'm asking a few fellow authors to help me judge and the winner will be announced on St. Patrick's Day here on my blog with their story featured. So, get busy.

Ginger

Monday, February 11, 2008

C is for COLD and F is for FLU


We survived the tornado catastrophe only to fall victim to cold and flu season. I haven't felt so swell for the past few days, so my daily chores have gone undone. The only other person in the household who takes pride in cleanliness is also ill--hubby. We've been taking turns watching Spencer. One sleeps while the other oversees the disaster area, and I'm not talking tornado here.

Spencer has autistic tendencies, and I can only assume that his need to have EVERY toy out of his toy chest and drawers and on the floor is a side affect of his disability. My days are usually spent following him around, putting things back in the carefully labeled drawers and totes I've prepared for his ease in learning what goes where. I'm not sure he's benefited from it, but it helps me in my older senile years.

So, today, I'm still in my pajamas, holding down my appointed overseeing time at the computer because I'm addicted to this blog and my email. Papa is right behind in the bed, sleeping and snoring loudly. Spencer usually spends most of his time in our 'house' but had drifted upstairs to find yet more clutter to add to the floor. Today, I can look at it and just nod. I'm too sick to bend over because when I stand up all the congestion makes me reel with dizziness.

I heard a strange voice and thought perhaps my son had come home early to spare me. Imagine my surprise when Spencer brings a strange man downstairs, gives the "broadway handoff" and says, "Nee Nee!"

The gentlemen had FEMA displayed on his hat and shirt, and eyed the room cautiously. I had to laugh when he said, "I'm from FEMA and wanted to see if you suffered any damage from the tornado." Other than it looking like it blasted through here, I spoke up over Papa's snores and said, "No, we were very blessed." The FEMA guy stared at the bed. "Was anyone injured?" he asked.

I ushered him to the door, thanking him for checking on us and assuring him we only had the flu. I would have said 'colds', but I just came from the bathroom where I blew something besides my nose. Luckily, I had the exhaust fan on.

So, I wanted you to know that President Bush is living up to his promise of aid to those in need in Tennessee. As much I wanted to ask the FEMA guy to send in a crew to pick up the mess, I resisted. It'll still be there when I get better and as bad as the mess is, I don't think it qualified for federal assistance. I still consider myself lucky that I have a roof over my head even if I'm blowing through a box of Kleenex a day. Now I can add Charmin to my list, but I have it on hand. :) Hope you all stay well.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Muse It Up Award


I just discovered today...I won a very special category in the Muse It Up Awards. I'm displaying the award here, and you can bet you'll see it permanently and proudly showcased on my blog. I cannot express enough gratitude to those who voted for me. It proves to me that what I do matters to some of you, and that's an awesome feeling. Thank you so much to Lea Schizas for hosting this contest. Her Muse It Up Club is awesome. Check it out at: Muse It Up

Friday, February 8, 2008

Reviews are Subjective - Do you agree?


Now that I have your attention...


Reviews are a puzzling part of entertainment. I never gave them much thought until I became an author and had to forward my books to various sites for opinions on my work. I sat on pins and needles, hoping the person to whom my book was assigned liked what they read. I was fortunate… most gave me higher than expected marks for my effort.

The reason I’m mentioning reviews at all is that I can’t help but wonder how many people let one person’s review of a book, movie or restaurant color their decision to try it on their own. Today, while driving home from picking Spencer up at school, the DJ on my radio station mentioned the sad review the new movie with Matthew McConaughey had received—one star for all his effort. Do people realize this is only ONE person’s opinion? Will they stay away because of what the reviewer wrote?

Sometimes opinions are based on moods. Most women can verify that what may be good on Monday can take a hormonal swing and turn into a pile of poop by Wednesday. How many times has a friend told you about a bad meal or poor service at an eating establishment? Did you stay away because of it?

I guess it’s the rebel in me because I’m challenged by bad reviews. I want to try for myself—to read the book, see the movie or eat in the restaurant that someone else found not to their liking. I want to form my own opinion and see if I agree. So far, it’s worked well. I’ve often picked up a book that reviewed poorly and discovered it quite entertaining. I’ve laughed until my sides ached at a movie that someone found not the least bit funny. The on-the-ball service and melt-in-my-mouth steak couldn’t possibly have come from the same restaurant some critic wrote up as lackluster and blah.

Reviews are subjective, and although I value people’s rights to their opinion, I’m sometimes totally turned off by the cruel manner in which they report it. I always wonder how people become critics or movie reviewers. What qualifies someone to make or break someone else’s ego? I guess having no conscience is the first requirement.

I’m certainly glad that the majority of readers who write for the romance review sites have tact and are refined enough to pepper in the reports of problem areas with the good points that always exist in most any book. Maybe because I’m an author, it’s easy for me to remember that every book is somebody’s labor of love, and I would never suppose to annihilate one. When I reviewed and discovered what I considered a flaw in a book (passive voice, repetitive words) I put them aside and looked for the strengths. I always found them.

If I go to a restaurant and encounter a problem…I address with the establishment or the customer service relations people. If there’s a problem and you don’t let them know, how can they fix it? There are ways to do things and then there are nicer ways to do them. I prefer the kinder, warm fuzzy approach. That’s just me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Healing Begins


This picture depicts what is happening all along the path of Tuesdays tornadoes. The saying, "There but for the grace of God go I," rings in my mind.

This morning as I took my grandson back to his re-opened school, I passed an entire convoy of heavy-duty equipment and trucks headed for the devastated part of Castalian Springs. An hour earlier, I awoke, warm and safe in a house that was less than 2-3 football fields from the rubble left behind by the tornado, I gave thanks for our good fortune.

What do you do to help someone who's lost all their belongings and perhaps a loved one in such a horrific tragedy? I have no extra money to donate and I don't personally know the people who've experienced the losses. I am profoundly touched by their plight.

I saw information flash on the TV screen, announcing a number to call if you wish to help. I called it, but of course, the only recorded message was about the organizations where you could immediately go to donate cash. I guess human contact and consolation is best left to the immediate family and friends, although I'm sure there are many like me that feel saddened by that. It would have helped me to heal and feel like part of the community... that I was doing something meaningful. But short of trying to pass the police lines and go directly to those still sorting through the rubble, I'm at a loss of what else I can do but pray for the victims.

To say that Tuesday changed my perspective is an understatement. I lost nothing in the storm, rather discovered something I'd lost sight of. Respect for those men and women who volunteer to respond to emergency calls... who put their lives on hold to help others. What goes around, comes around, and those people deserve a reward for their caring and kindness. I'm sure by next week, I'll be able to put this memory behind me. I only regret it won't be that easy for the true victims of "Super Tuesday's" Tennessee tornado.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Difference A Day Can Make


This is what's left of our post office. I can't quit thinking about how many times I've climbed those stairs.

Yesterday seemed like an ordinary day. It was cloudy, drizzly and somewhat warmer than what it has been. Nothing was out of the ordinary. Around 8:00 P.M. when I considered putting my grandson to bed for school, the electricity flickered a few times and went off. Luckily, my son works for a company that provides a truck that comes generator-equipped. He backed it up to the house and ran cords in so we could continue to watch the weather reports. We all sat and watched storm-tracker on Channel 5 as the red sections grew larger and more intense. They were headed for Nashville. We live about 40 miles away so of course we were concerned when little swirly marks popped up.

We continued watching, because my son has always disliked storms and becomes our instant safety monitor. Last night I'm so happy he did. Around 8:30, he instructed me to empty out half our closet. I thought it was silly, but I did it anyway. I'm from California. Our biggest threats were earthquakes and they came without warning.
But, I cleared an area.

Around 9:30 we were gathered around the TV watching the storm come closer to Castalian Springs. The estimated time was about twenty minutes before it reached our community. We've had high winds before and tornado alerts, so I wasn't overly concerned, but at 9:55, the storm-tracker screen highlighted street names, among them Harsh Lane and Lick Creek. My heart pounded. We live on Lick Creek. The weatherman's voice added emphasis to my fear, "People who live in this area need to go to your safe place NOW."

We crammed ourselves into the closet and within seconds, the roaring we heard was deafening. I've often heard it described as a 'freight train' and that's pretty accurate. As quickly as it started it was gone. The TV cable had gone dead and there was stone silence. The sky suddenly flamed, and we worried that houses were on fire. Little did we know that a tornado had taken a large section of Castalian Springs and turned it into rubble. Sirens blared, and my son went investigating in his bare feet and pajama bottoms. The house at the end of our street was gone...at least everything except the basement. Trees and power lines were down, and although the far horizon was a huge ball of orange, it was still too dark to see much of anything else.

We finally went to bed, still without power, wondering what was on fire. All but my son...he sat up and kept vigil for the next approaching round. I don't think he went to bed until the sun was rising. We awoke to news and THP helicopters filling the sky, and learned the fire was a gas plant miles away that had been struck by the twister. On TV and through the mouths of neighbors, the story unfolded. The post office was gone, along with all the houses around it. That didn't account for the devastating swash left to get to that point. House after house leveled. Twisted trees littered with personal belongings, and cars flattened until unrecognizable.

The houses on the right hand side of Hwy 25 were now nothing more than debris on the left hand side. Mail was scattered everywhere. While trying to find survivors, someone heard a baby cry, and miracle of all miracles, an 11 month old child was found alive amidst the rubble. The mother, not so lucky. A few miles away, and eighteen month old survived having been sucked from his parents' arms. At least a touch of joy in a tragedy.

Seven people who lived within a few mile radius of me died last night. I didn't know them personally, but I share the sorrow of their loved ones. Yesterday, a mother and child probably played together and never expected it would be their last day on earth together. Life is too short, people, not to reach out and embrace the ones you love. Let them know before you can't.

I've seen devastation before on the news, but it never touches you as much as when it happens in your own backyard. I say that literally. Had the wind shifted a few hundred feet, my family would have been among those not so lucky. We truly feel blessed today. My prayers are with those who now try to recover from the disaster and heartache. We were even more saddened to learn that the man across the street suffered a heart-attack and died while trying to seek safety in his closet. It's been a long, emotional day for everyone in Castalian Springs.

So, as I reflect on the past twenty-four hours... to all you, my friends, I say, "I love you, and I'm so happy to be alive. Blessed to be able to tell you."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sharing My First Official Review




Reviewed by Kelley Hartsell -
Kwips & Kritiques

Roselle "Ellie" Fountain adores her rancher father and longs to someday help him run their ranch, Fountainhead. Unfortunately, she's not the son he's always wanted so while he loves her dearly, he still only sees her as a girl and wishes she would act more like a lady than the tomboy she's always been.

Ty Bishop is the ranch foreman and fills the desire for a son that Ben Fountain has always had. Ellie hates that Ty gets special treatment and will probably someday run Fountainhead. Ellie has plans to show her father she can take care of herself and the ranch and they include buying and learning to use a gun.

The Bryants are a greedy bunch and this father and twin sons team hopes to buy all the land on the mountain, even if it means using dishonesty to force current owners out. When they take a shot at Ellie, Ben and the ranch crew realize something needs to be done to protect her and secure the ranch. Ellie is furious, not believing she needs protecting, especially when it comes wrapped up in a package like Ty, whom she's lately taken to seeing in a whole new light.

Ginger Simpson has written a wonderful western historical romance in Sparta Rose. Ellie is a spirited lass who doesn’t like the arrogance of the men, especially Ty, thinking she isn’t capable of taking care of herself. She’s also a bit too impulsive, rushing headlong into adventures that have a tendency to get her into trouble. As events unfold throughout the story, we see Ellie grow from headstrong and careless girl into mature and responsible woman. Her confusion over her feelings for Ty just adds to the complexity of her character. Probably the growth of Ellie as a woman is represented in her attitude towards Ty, as she finds herself falling for him and worrying about whether he’ll ever see her as more than the boss’s daughter.

While it’s very apparent from the beginning who is responsible for all the trouble on the mountain, I was kept intrigued in the mystery of just how far the Bryants would go to get what they wanted. The Bryants are quite a crew, ruthless in their greed. Not all of the Bryants are necessarily bad seeds however, as evidenced by younger twin, Joshua and how he treats the townsfolk. He is more complex of a person than the rest of his family, making me feel sorry for him.

Ginger has a knack for infusing her stories with enough humor to keep them from growing too intense. Sparta Rose provided plenty of moments that got a laugh out of me. Ellis is a spitfire, with a temper to match her fiery red hair. The verbal sparring that occurs between Ellie and Ty lightens things up quite a bit, when Ellie gets too overwhelmed with her anger and frustration.

I don't read a lot of historical romance, and even fewer Westerns, being quite particular about books in this genre, but I'm glad I read Sparta Rose. I was pulled into the adventures of Ellie and company, thoroughly enjoying my visit to Sparta, TN. I am looking forward to more adventures from the mind of Ginger Simpson.

© Kelley A. Hartsell, January 2008. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 4, 2008

It Makes Me Wonder

I suppose when posting things, you're bound to offend someone. But where do you draw the line? This morning, I logged on to find that two subscribers had unsubbed citing "offensive" as their reason. I started to take down yesterdays post, but then changed my mind. If I removed everything because it offended one or two people, I'd eventually end up with blank pages. Some may consider that an improvement. *lol*

We are a diverse group on this planet, and what I might find funny, might stir horrible memories for someone else. I cannot possibly foresee what some may find unappealing. For heaven sakes, we can't even agree as a nation whether we want to have God in our pledge of allegiance or on our coins. Some don't even believe in the pledge, or God for that matter. Does that mean I offended someone because I used an angel as a graphic?

As an aside, I personally don't feel the Lord is offended by breasts since he gave them to us, and whether or not we drink and expose them publicly isn't his doing. It's our own stupidity--another fact of life. These type of things happen every day and you can't just ignore them. Maybe if the people in these pictures see themselves plastered all over, they might wise up. Probably not. It's easier to just look away.

This is the only thing I imagine was offensive, that or those who unsubscribed deal with alcoholics and the images were too close to home. I was married to someone who drank, and I prefer to look back in humor rather than be devastated by the memories. That's who am I. I find humor where and when I can. Blogs are like diaries, but the writer allows people to peek inside. I write what strikes me at the moment...spontaneous thought. It's the best I can do. I have to accept that while I entertain most of you, some can't deal with reality. It's okay to disagree, but I'm still sorry to have lost readers because of something so silly.

I purposely try to avoid religion, politics and racial topics, so I guess now I'll have to stop talking about my sagging boobs, or at best, stop posting pictures of drunken women who let it all hang out.

Favor: If you find something I post so strongly to your disliking that you plan to depart, at least drop me an email, friend-to-friend, and let me know why it bothered you. I can't read minds, and blogging for me is about entertaining. making friends, and hopefully finding fans who'll want to read my books.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Drinking Always Brings Out the Best in People


Now that's what I call flexibility.













"Dude, what was in that watermelon?"














"Now I lay me down to nap in a place where I usually crap."














At least she buckled up.
















"I always heard if you put your ear to ground you could hear a train coming."











I almost thought this had been photographically enhanced, but I don't think you can realistically collapse one like this. I don't think I'll be complaining about keeping mine in my bra anymore. :)


These photos came to me in an email, but I think you can see the credits on the pictures themselves. I'm sure the people captured in the pics are eternally grateful that they can be shared via the internet. Their mothers must be so proud. *lol*

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ah, The Good Ol' Days


Someone came up with a positive saying that I've been chanting to myself. "Life is a gift, that's why they call today the present." Well, I'm looking for the receipt, cause I'm thinking of exchanging for 'the good ol' days.

You remember? Television wasn't fixated on how we looked... if you had loose change n your purse, you could actually buy something with it? I paid $6.00 for a package of hamburger meat yesterday. Not the most expensive 'cut' of the cow...you know the one they add red dye to to make you think you're getting a bargain... but my mind flashed back to the Alamo Supermarket in Sunnymead, California, where I bought the same thing for twenty-nine cents a pound and a loaf of bread for nineteen cents. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but when I recall the ongoing gas wars and filling my car at twenty-five cents a gallon, it seems more like another world than time.

I long for the days when I got out of bed without creaking, moaning and groaning. When I came out of the shower, eager to dry and style my hair instead of worrying how many fell out when I shampooed. When a pimple was a pimple and eventually went away, instead of hardening into a clogged pore that lasts forever. There's a gift that keeps on giving. Connect the dots between the ones on my face and the age spots on my hands and you'll probably come up with a work of art. :)

Oh, for the time in my life when my breasts 'poufed' over the top of my brassiere and gave me cleavage. Now I keep tucking them back UP into my bra. I'm beginning to think they have magnets in the nipples and the attracting opposite is in my shoe.

Ah, shoes...there's another topic near and dear to my heart. I've stumbled through life with mismatching feet; one a size 9 and the other a 10 1/2, but we all know you can't buy two different sizes in the same box. The answer would have been to look for someone with the problem on the opposite feet, but I didn't have time to search. AND who'd take that 'want ad' seriously? "Looking for a woman with different-sized feet" I'd probably be arrested for being a sexual predator with a foot fetish.

I thought when we got away from the pointed toes, things would improve, because I spent years hobbling around on three inch spikes with the toes on my bigger foot overlapping. The pain was intense, but I was a trooper. Now I see some idiot has decided we haven't suffered enough and is bringing them back. I'm certain that fashion designers are mostly men who hated their mothers. Rather than be the brunt of their psychological problems, I'm thinking of sizing down and wearing the boxes. They fit better and are a whole lot more comfortable. Style just isn't important anymore. I have bigger fish to fry.

Frying... should have avoided it. When I was younger, my legs had some shape to them. I watched my husband get dressed this morning and found myself envying his ankles. I pictured switching with him. He deserves to have the calves and thighs of a linebacker, and the ankles to support them. I could shave his up and work wonders with them. It wouldn't require much effort, his socks have worn most of the hair off anyhow. He wouldn't care if he had cottage cheese thighs and those massive veins running just beneath the skin's surface and providing that lovely blue tinge. He doesn't worry what his legs look like in shorts...he's more worried about the sudden 'part' in his mustache. See, even men get cheated.

I used to worry about my bikini line, and whether I needed a trim. Don't know why, I never owned a bikini or even considered wearing one. These days, that worry is far from my mind. In fact, I'll share a secret with those of you approaching your "10% discount at Denny's" years... the hairs on your head aren't the only ones that turn gray...and men aren't the only ones to get 'male-pattern baldess', if you get my drift. It's sad. I hear about women shaving their pubic area, and laugh. Don't bother...just wait.

I guess I should actually be working on one of my many 'in progress' novels instead of griping, but I felt the need. Fortunately, no one answered the want ad I posted in my blog, seeking a live friend, the other day, so I have only my readers to torture. :)

I'm sure they have medication for what ails me... your legs can't even be restless anymore. Of course if you take the pill, you might have sudden gambling urges.

I probably have most of what's prescribed these days in my medicine chest, but there again I long for the 'good ol days' when the pharmacy actually labeled them correctly. "Take one a day for pain" or "Take two as needed for indigestion." I probably have the relief I need, but all the bottles say "Take one two times a day" or "Take as needed." FOR WHAT? I have a @hit-load of pills but no idea what they treat. God help me. I'm falling apart. Or should I say, "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up?"

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