Monday, April 28, 2014

My Annoying Muse

My muse wouldn't let me sleep last night.

On Monday, at four in the morning, she woke me to share how she thought the opening of McShane's book three, Homicide by Hurricane should read. I told her that I’d only written the outline for book three, and that I still had to finish the edits on book two, Four Files for A Life in order to upload it to Kindle by Thursday. She didn't care. I, and my need for sleep, fought her for all we were worth. Now, at 6 a.m., I’m typing this tantrum on my laptop rather than writing what she is still demanding I write.

Stupid Muse.

Fine! Fine! I’m writing!

(grumble, grumble, grumble)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coffee in One Hand, a Doob in the Other

Coffee in One Hand, a Doob in the Other

Sunday morning and I’m up at sunrise, with my sister Sue heavy on my mind. How she loved our road trips, which found us driving as the sun peeked over the horizon. Coffee in one hand and a doob in the other. I should tell you by the time we reached our 50's I didn't partake. I'll let you figure out if I mean the coffee or the pot.

Suzy had one helluva smile. I sometimes thought the sun must be jealous because it couldn’t compete with the beautiful light shining in her eyes. No matter how hard life beat her down, and it did so often, she came back with the same joy-filled smile, and a twinkle of mirth in her eye. She passed away a little more than a month ago. Suzy's smile won't be coming back this time.

The day I received the news of her passing is a permanent scar on my memory...


I answered the phone, even though I didn’t recognize the number. It was Sue’s friend McGee. She’s the sweetie that comes up to Orlando every so often with my sister Sue to visit.

From the tone of voice at her greeting, I knew something was wrong. Mimi McGee sounded as if she’d been crying. Fearful, I asked, “What’s up?”

“Suzy died.”


“Suzy died.”

She could have been speaking Mandarin. The sounds she was making made no sense.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“Suzy Died!”

My brain finally allowed me to comprehend the language. Yes, she spoke English. She said two words. But they couldn’t be right. My sister under the skin, friends since the age of four, was dead? She must be speaking about another Suzy.

“Are you there? Honey, talk to me.”

This had to be one of Suzy’s stupid jokes. We had a falling out the last time we’d seen each other, but we had spoken on the phone since then. She must be behind this absurdity.

“Honey, sweetie, talk to me. Are you okay?”

I realized I wasn’t breathing. I sucked in air as if I’d been punched in the gut. My voice came out much louder than I’d intended. “Is this some kind of sick, fucking joke?”

“No, baby, it’s not. Suzy’s dead.”

I pictured Suzy standing behind McGee, with a triumphant grin on her face. She got me this time, although this was sadistic, even by her standards. My cheeks were wet with tears as my anger flared.

“Tell me this is a sick joke!” I shouted.

McGee’s voice cracked as she said, “I wish I could. It’s not a joke.”

“No, no, no." I began to pace, touching every solid object I passed to confirm this wasn't a nightmare and I might still be in bed sleeping. "Tell me this ISN’T a prank because this would be one fucking sick joke.”

“It’s not a JOKE. Jesus Christ! I wish I was there. I’m so sorry to have to tell you this on the phone.”

I lived three hours away from Sue and McGee. Had she driven all the way to my house with this news it would have been an exercise in futility, because, I wasn’t home. My family was not with me. Alone at the moment, I didn’t have anyone to fall against.

Mom passed in a hospital bed with me standing beside her. Dad later passed the same way. The reality of beeping monitors, nurses and doctors bustling around, family and friends crying, that was death, as I understood it. This phone call could not be real.

I had to get hold of myself. McGee was crying, too. My insane denials helped no one.

“I’ll call you back,” I said while trying not to sob in her ear.

“Please, talk to me. Tell me you’re okay.”

“I’m good! I’ll call you back.”


“Yes, McGee, I’ll call you back.” I ended the call and dropped the phone.

Nothing made sense. I gripped a chair as the world spun dizzily. My knees grew weak, and I collapsed to the ground. Even then, I had to hold on to that chair, for fear of slipping into the black chasm that threatened to swallow me. Breath came in sobs that I had no control over. I curled into a fetal position, allowing the tears to pool onto the floor.

Suzy was dead? We will never again have sunrise road trips, coffee chats, hour and a half phone conversations about nothing and everything. Oh my God! I didn’t even ask how. She’s gone, what difference does it make HOW? My sister Suzy was dead? Why?


I found out later she fell asleep and simply didn't wake. I'm still a little perturbed about that. She got a "Get Out Of Life Easy" card. That's how I want to go. Well, in another twenty-five years or so.

I'm Fifty-three and lost my dearest, closest, best friend. The Sister-Friend that told me someday we would share a rest-home room together. Years of laughter-filled memories give me comfort, and offer me peace in the quiet solitude of grief.

Have you been blessed with a friend like that? Call them now. Get together and shoot the shit. Have some coffee. Toke a number. Whatever. Cuz, I hate to use an old cliché, but...You never know.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Hate Snakes

If you’re ever feeling brave, and you want to really test your mettle, you should come down to the Florida Everglades. Somehow, the Great Swamp has become home to far too many Burmese Pythons. Well, ‘somehow’ isn’t fair. Hurricane Andrew must accept partial responsibility for blowing away an exotic pet dealer's warehouse in Homestead, Florida. Along with that consideration, up until 2012 it was legal to ship these creatures as exotic pets to the US from their native Southeast Asia. Then, the proud new owners who were unprepared for the creatures to grow up to nineteen feet (yes, 19 Feet) in length, weigh up to two hundred pounds (yessss, 200 Pounds), and can consume an alligator for dinner, got rid of them by illegally releasing them into the swamp. Brilliant.


Here, in surroundings that the behemoths could thrive in, they proliferated. It is estimated up to two thousand of the invasive species live in the Everglades today. Some of the small wildlife which was once so populace in the ‘glades is down by almost 95% because of those carnivorous demons spawned in hell. We Floridians used to host an annual python hunt down in those parts, but the state canceled the hunt this year. Seems they decided you need pros to catch those buggers. To the amateur hunter’s credit, those pythons are a slippery lot.

I’ve no idea what we’re going to do about the problem. Although, we can hope that snake skin boots come back in high style with a quickness.

As the famous fedora-wearing professor would say, I hate snakes. The exception being garden snakes. Or coach whips. Label them what you like, I call them rat deterrents.

Because I hate rats even more than I hate snakes.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Surprise Easter Blessing

A Surprise Easter Blessing

While walking the dog on a beach in Florida one Saturday night, I pulled the phone out of my pocket to take a picture of the regal pose she struck while watching the waves.

The picture turned out lovely. Unfortunately...

The next morning I realized the small case containing my driver’s license and debit card was missing. We turned the house inside out searching for the blasted thing. We scoured the back and front yards, the street on which we walked to the beach the night before, and the area we walked of the shoreline. The case being a slim and small item, we agreed the thing must have slipped out of my pocket when I pulled out my phone. The cards were gone with the high tide.

At least, that’s what we hoped and prayed.

Identity theft was no small concern. The awful stories of what people suffered through due to thieves of the ilk weighed heavy on my mind. But, instead of posting a fraud alert on my credit accounts, I decided to only report the debit card lost, paying five dollars for its replacement, and paid twenty-five dollars to have my driver’s license replaced. Should any fraudulent activity occur, I could at least provide proof of the replacements.

Hope springs eternal.

We went back to Orlando that Sunday, hoping against hope that nothing more would come of my loss. On Good Friday, I picked up the mail. A letter size envelope with a young person’s handwriting, which I did not recognize, was in amongst the sale flyers and bills. The return address showed Grand Rapids, Michigan. Opening the letter, my small case with the lost license and debit card tumbled out. The letter read,


I found this in the ocean while visiting my Grandpa in Satellite Beach on 4/14/14. I hope that it finds its’ way back to you!


I wrote back a short thank you note and included a reward for K. The note still fell short of what I really wanted to say. To let K know just how wonderful she made me feel. About the faith in the next generation she instilled in me. About how when you believe things are truly lost, they just may find their way home again.

Thanks again, K. You are my surprise Easter blessing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Marketing Marvels

In case you haven’t tried, it’s hard to write a book. It’s even harder to write a good book. That is to say, something others want to read that isn’t riddled with punctuation, spelling, and/or grammatical errors. But then, it’s damn near impossible to get people to buy your book. Therefore, marketing consumes most writers’ time that should be spent writing.

Book trailers are the latest, greatest way to promote one’s writing. A fellow author in my workshop, Bonnie Milani, has written a book entitled "Home World". She has the added benefit of being in the business of theater. (Yes, you read a tinge of jealousy in that last line.) Anyway, she is talented, and the following video is her 30-second version of the full-length book trailer. The full version is 2 1/2 minutes. It is pretty cool.

While watching it, you may think, ‘When is this movie coming out?’ Well, if sales go well enough, maybe soon? In the meantime, this fabulous piece of film is strictly a promotion for her novel, Home World.

 Home World (30 second trailer) by Bonnie Milani

 Check it out…and then check out her book.

Someday I might have the means to create a book trailer for my  McShane Mini-Mystery Series.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Facebook Strikes Again

Facebook Strikes Again

I'm a realist. One life lesson I've imparted to my children is "Privacy is a thing of the past. Deal with it." I still take the precautions I can, but the entities have their way around our paltry, pitiful defenses. I still try to make it a little difficult for them. So, when I get those messages about how the corporations and/or government is monitoring us, all I can do is shrug.

This morning I read an article in USA Today advising five things to do on your facebook page for your privacy's sake. The first was clearing all your searches, and that made perfect sense to me. So I decided to check it out. The first item became the first problem. The article explains how to go to the activity log and clear all the searches so fb won't have this info to sell to their advertisers. The problem? The referenced "Clear All Searches" under "Activity Log" doesn't exist on my page. Instead, I can only access one item at a time and unlike, thereby removing it from my timeline.

I wonder, was the author wrong, or has the machination of facebook already covered their loss of information by simply removing one option? Do you have any idea how many posts you've liked? Check it out under Activity Log. I bet it's a bunch. I'd be sitting here all day doing that. I pretty sure fb was counting on that.

Here's a link for you to try your hand at thwarting the monster. 5 Facebook Tweaks to Make Right Now -