Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Before This is Over: A book review

On occasion our electricity has gone out on a seemingly calm night. No thunderstorm or snowstorm. Just out. For whatever reason. It happens, right?

And when it does, the first thing I think to myself is, “I wonder how long the power will be out.” And the second thing I think to myself is, “Is this the beginning of the end? Is this how it all starts?”

You know what I mean, don’t you?  We live in an unstable world. And we live in a very small world. It gets smaller everyday through the advancements of technology, transportation, and communication.

I used to take a “little house on the prairie/simple life” approach to the loss of electricity and just enjoy playing games by candlelight with my family. Not anymore. Now my brain goes into a sort of survival check list mode.

Since Y2K and 9/11 I think more people have become Preppers at some level-  if you don’t know what that is, it’s people who prepare to take care of themselves in the case of a natural, political, or chemical disaster, where the infrastructure of our modern daily lives becomes disabled. Stockpiling non-perishable foods, or weapons and ammunition, or maybe money or fuel are ways to prep for disaster.

Prepping is a casual conversation we sometimes have with friends and family. Half in jest and half in truth. We say things like, “I’m going to hunker down at so and so’s house because they have all the wine, haha!”

One conversation was about hunkering down and digging in. A much trusted military/law enforcement/man-in-the-know said, “You wouldn’t want to do that. To stay alive, you’d have to be on the move all the time.” Crap. That just wrecked my whole little roughing it, living off the land scenario.

The reason for this post is because I just finished a book called Before This is Over by Amanda Hickie. Stephen King and Dean Koontz can give me the heebie-jeebies like no other, but this book scared the shit out of me.

I need to give a *spoiler alert* before I go on. I’m going to try to not say too much about the story, but I do have to say some things that might be considered spoilers. So if you want to read a scary-ass book about contagion, this one is it. ‘Nuff said. Stop reading now.

If you’re still reading, I HAVE to tell you about this book!

A woman/wife/mom, follows the news of a highly contagious virus spreading across Europe. She takes the info seriously and starts stock-piling food. Her husband thinks she’s overreacting. 

When she pulls her young son out of school and then forbids her husband from going into work they have heated arguments about it.

She stock-piles two-weeks-worth of non-perishable food for her family of four. (That's not enough- anywhere near enough food.)

Her teen son returns home from camp, with a friend, who can’t go home because his mom is sick. 

The old lady next door begs them to take her in. They won’t because there is no way of knowing if she’s contaminated. They tell her to go home but promise to provide her with meals three times a day.

So, from the very beginning of the crisis, she’s responsible for feeding six people instead of as planned her family of four. Eventually the friend’s dad picks him up, because the boy’s mom is getting better. 

Also, at the beginning of the crisis, the family turns their pet house-cat, Mr. Moon, out to fend for himself. (Before that point in the story I actually thought they might end up eating him.)

There’s a heart-breaking part in the story where the other neighbor’s three-year-old daughter ends up in their yard. They have to decide what to do about her. 

They watch looters come through the neighborhood and clean out neighbor’s houses. They have no idea if the neighbors have left or are dead in the house.

Electricity and water are turned off.  

Funny moments take place from the five-year-old's point of view on the necessity of new toilet habits and the lack of toilet paper.

The story is so realistic. Everything that happens in this story could easily happen in any industrialized nation.

I won’t tell the end of the story, but as always, I have lingering questions. (I believe good stories do that.) Like, what ever happened to Mr. Moon, the cat? Did the teen friend’s mom get better, or was it her dying wish to see her son? If so, did the friend and his whole family end up dying?

Any mom could relate to this story because moms will go to almost any length to protect their children. Read this book. Now excuse me while I go prep…

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


* All images courtesy of Google

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dreams are weird.

Not the kind of dreams that you build goals from.

The kind of dreams I’m talking about are the ones you have when sleeping.

This is my sis. She's the one driving
in my dream.

Just the other night I had a dream that I was riding in a car, with my sister at the wheel. It was night-time and she was going up the long driveway toward well-lit large, white mansion. There was a curve in the drive and she was going too fast. She put on the brakes and was able to almost stop just before hitting an ornate cement railing. 
The car bumper barely tapped the railing, yet a big section broke off and tipped over.

That was it. What in the world? Weird.

So, like any normal, sane person I decide to look up what things in dreams symbolize. And here goes…

Sisters in a dream are generally considered a positive vibe, unless something bad is happening to her/because of her. I don’t consider driving too fast as necessarly a bad thing, so I’m taking my sis in the dream as a positive.

Courtesy of Google Images
A mansion in a dream can mean that you’re opening yourself to “greater levels of abundance.” What?  Um, well, maybe it’s that a few months ago I started volunteering at a woman’s health center and I’m learning a lot about serving others in need. 

Or maybe it’s a symbol of my abundance in taking a vacation to Florida soon…

Riding in a car that’s being driven too fast could be about – and get this- “an illness or injury has or will occur.” 
Did I mention that I have a bum knee? An MRI is scheduled. My Florida trip is coming up fast and I have a knee injury that may throw a big nasty kink in the trip….

If you dream about driving at night it might be that you feel something is not a good as it used to be.

Yeah, my knee. It’s not what it used to be.

If you’re a passenger in a dream it may mean that you’re following the crowd. Again, my volunteer opportunity has changed how I look at things… how I serve God and others… and it makes me think about my relationships.

GAA! I think my head might explode! According to the dream symbolism websites, my dream says I’m worried about my knee and my vacation being on a collision course (pun intended.) And that my ideals are evolving. Oh, and of course, that I love my sister (or she gets us into trouble...)

Yeah. That.

Or maybe it’s just that I saw a friend the other day who is steadily healing from a bad car accident.

Or maybe I just ate too late. Or think too much.

Any who, this has to be my weirdest blog post to date.

(I blame my bum knee.)

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


P.S. I prefer goal-building dreams.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nashville Predators: Dream the Dream

Bridgestone Arena. Photo by me.
It was Saturday, May 6th. We were in Nashville, Tennessee enjoying great music in the atmosphere of Hopes and Dreams.  We heard that the hockey team was to play a home game on Sunday night at the huge Bridgestone Arena right next to “Honky-Tonk Row” on Broadway. No problem. No big deal. Nashville’s not a hockey town; Nashville is a music town. The downtown won’t be any more busy or crowed than usual. Nobody cares about sports here.


Sunday, May 7th and we head downtown for another entertaining day of watching great musicians do what they do best. The streets of Nashville were hopping with people and we’re part of the crowd. Except, as the day grew so did the number of hockey jerseys. Yellow Nashville Predator’s jerseys popped up like dandelions in a field on a hot summer day.

Everyone was a Predators fan and we suddenly found ourselves swept up in the excitement of the Nashville fans. They were so close we found out, only 2 games stood between them and the possibility of playing for the Stanley Cup!

When we got back home from Nashville, we continued to watch the Predators. And they made it! They made it to the Big Show- the Stanley Cup series! For a month we watched the Preds. We got a chuckle out of big country stars jockey for a chance to sing the national anthem and grab a piece of the spotlight and we got to know the team’s players a bit too. We felt like the Predators were our Home Team.

Fast forward to June 11th. Stanley Cup Series game number six was about to happen at Bridgestone Arena. We turn on the TV and what do we see? Country super-star Luke Bryan giving a concert in THE EXACT SPOT WE STOOD only a month earlier!- The third floor of balcony of Tootsies Orchid Lounge. 

Courtesy of Google. Broadway screening of Game 6
The Preds are playing at the arena in the back center of photo.

It’s surreal to see a place on TV and know you were just there! Only this time Broadway was a sea of yellow jerseys that rolled on for several blocks.

I think Tim and I have adopted Nashville and the Predators as our home-away-from-home home town and home team.

The Predators did not win the Stanley Cup this year. But that’s o.k. They gave the Penguins a run for their money. The Stanley Cup is in the Pred’s future. They’re closer to it today than they have ever been in all their 18 years prior.

Nashville is a town of dreams. That’s what I love about the place. Follow your dreams. Dreams can come true.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

That AHA Moment

I’ve always had this niggling problem with my novel, THE INK OF TIME. Otto, who clearly is the main character of this story, does not confront his issues, but instead helps Hazel get her life together.  

I’ve struggled with this problem for quite a while, thinking that maybe I have two main characters – and that Otto can be a helper to someone else but not him self- but that doesn’t work for me, either. Otto is definitely the main character and as that, I’ve come to realize, this story should focus on and resolve his problems first.


My beta readers have commented to me in the past about not knowing much about Otto’s life and background. I intentionally wrote him that way- I was going for “mysterious, untouchable, guarded, aloof" in his persona. And that was all wrong.

I’ve been reading, studying, and applying all the information I have learned from Story Genius, by Lisa Cron, to THE INK OF TIME. 

If this story is gonna work, I’ve got to lay everything Otto feels and everything that’s happened to him in his life, on the line. Otherwise, who cares what happens to this guy? Who cares if he gets the girl or pathetically wanders the earth for the rest of his life? Nobody. That’s who.

I love my beta readers for sticking with my half-baked story, but now it’s time for me to get back at that manuscript and make everyone love and empathize with Otto as much as I do.

Through the exercises in Story Genius I am learning that novels do not start at the beginning. It’s true. They do not start at the beginning. Every novel we read starts when something is about to happen. And every character has a life before the story begins. Learning about the characters’ lives and how they handle situations makes us love a good story.

Think about it: What makes The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, such a great story? It’s not because the story started when the boys were babies and told of their lives growing up to their teen years, no. The Outsiders were tough boys who didn’t have many (if any) opportunities to improve their lives. They had no adult/parental support. They were on their own and lived life the way they thought was correct. Lots of shit happened to those boys before the story even started on page one with a fight between a Soc and a Greaser.

And in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, Claire fell through a circle of ancient stones and was transported back over two hundred years in time, landing in 1743 Scotland. Had she not been a child raised by her uncle who traveled the world, and a World War II combat nurse before the story ever started, her chances of living through the events that took place would have been dramatically different.

So, I’m learning more and more about what makes my main man Otto tick. And you, dear reader, will learn it too.

It was a big struggle, but I believe I’ve figured out a way to change the story for the better so that Otto gets all the angst and triumph a main character deserves.(While helping Hazel, too.) I hope it all pans out realistically!

But now it’s time to get back to work. I’m on page 225 of 270. When I’m done with Story Genius I’ll be finding where and how to fit in all of my new information into my existing manuscript (aka story.)  

So I’ll be sitting here until next week when I take a break to write another blog post. I’ll keep you informed on my progress!

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself!


*All images Courtesy of Google