The Silver Falchion (Again) & #ROW80

Good news on both personal and professional fronts:

silver falchion emblemMURDER ON WHEELS, Austin Mystery Writers‘ crime fiction anthology, has been awarded the Silver Falchion Award for Best Fiction Short Story Anthology. Member Laura Oles accepted the award from author Anne Perry Saturday night at the Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference 2016.

 

The eleven stories in MURDER ON WHEELS were written by six Austin Mystery Writers–Gale Albright, V. P. Chandler, Kaye George, Scott Montgomery, Laura Oles, and me– and two guest authors who graciously contributed stories–Earl Staggs and Reavis Wortham. Ramona DeFelice Long edited the manuscript. Kaye George handled the business end of the project, no small task. Wildside Press published the anthology in 2015.

Laura Oles accepts Silver Falchion Award from Anne Perry. Photograph by Manning Wolfe.
Laura Oles accepts Silver Falchion Award from Anne Perry. Photograph by Manning Wolfe.

If you’ve already heard about the award, my apologies. I’ve spread it all over Facebook. That’s called BSP–Blatant Self-Promotion–but self, in this case, refers to everyone involved in the anthology’s production. We’re surprised–we didn’t know we’d been nominated until three days before the awards ceremony–and honored and excited, so we’ve announced it at every opportunity.

I like to think that someday I’ll develop the air of dignified detachment that is the hallmark of the professional writer. Maybe I will. Maybe.

(In case the word falchion isn’t familiar–Wikipedia says it’s a “one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the Persian shamshir, the Chinese dadao, and modern machete.” The Silver Falchion seal, above, displays crossed falchions.)

The second item of good news isn’t mine–it’s my husband’s. His video “Invisible Men Invade Mars,” starring cats William and Ernest, will be screened at the Walker Museum Internet Cat Video Festival on Wednesday, August 24, at the Texas Theater in Dallas. David is pleased, but he isn’t bouncing off the walls, as I am over the AMW’s Silver Falchion. He’s taken videos to film festivals, and his Alien Resort Christmas card won John Kelso’s contest. And he’s always been dignified and professional.

Third on the list: I’ve completed five days of radiation treatments. That’s five of a projected twenty–25%. I learned today that I’m doing in twenty days what is normally done in thirty. I don’t know why, and I didn’t ask. This is another area requiring detachment, and I’ve found that detachment and too much information don’t play well together. The doctor kept using the word if –“If you do well with this, then we’ll…”–and upset the balance between optimism and uncertainty I try to maintain. If is too much information. So I pronounce the situation good and move on.

(Before I move on, and I really shouldn’t publicize this, but while I’m being unprofessional–since the first of June, I’ve lost twenty-nine pounds. Disclaimer: twenty-nine pounds equals the nineteen I had gained from taking steroids during chemo, and the ten I lost from having no appetite during chemo. The doctor doesn’t like it, and I understand why. It’s a hell of a way to lose weight, but with a net loss of ten pounds, I’m happy, and I’m taking credit for every one of them. I like being able to take my jeans off without unbuttoning and unzipping them.)

From August 7th List: I dood it.*

  1. Boycotted refined sugar and starches, including starchy vegetables, longer than necessary before the PET scan. Blood sugar was normal. There was no reason to think it wouldn’t be, but still…
  2. Critiqued and returned AMW stories I had at the time.
  3. Wrote and posted on AMW blog, but not exactly on time. I traded post dates with another member, then realized I hadn’t traded. It’s complicated. I posted on the 20th instead of the 15th, but got it in before the Silver Falchion winner was announced.
  4. Wrote and posted on the Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog on the 16th. This one I got right.
  5. Continued reading Mark Pryor’s The Paris Librarian. Good book.
  6. (12.) Cooked chicken and rice, intended to be one decent meal for David. It was horrid. We ate it anyway. I didn’t cook anything else.

#ROW 80 Watermelon Buffet for August 22

  1. Eat no refined sugar. Period.
  2. Critique and return one last AMW story.
  3. Work on draft of “Texas Boss.”
  4. Finish reading The Paris Librarian.
  5. Post #ROW80 report on Wednesday. If I feel like it. Otherwise, post next Sunday.
  6. Visit three #ROW80 blogs a day and comment.
  7. Comment every day on Writing Wranglers and Warriors post.
  8. Visit Malvern Books.
  9. Have a blast visiting with Kaye George at this week’s Austin Mystery Writers meeting.

Might as well face facts. I’ll dust the piano if I dust it, organize books if I organize books, and shred if I shred. They’re more likely to get done if I don’t write them down.

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English: Red Skelton
English: Red Skelton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I dood it was “one of Red Skelton’s radio catchphrases” of the 1930s and ’40s. It was also the title of a song written by Jack Owens for Skelton in 1942, titled “I Dood It! (If I Do, I Get a Whippin’),” and the title of a movie released the next year.

Skelton originated the line for a character, The Mean Widdle Kid,

a young boy full of mischief, who typically did things he was told not to do. “Junior” would say things like, “If I dood it, I gets a whipping.”, followed moments later by the statement, “I dood it!”

My mother told me about Skelton’s I dood it line when I was a child.  She thought it was funny; I thought it was funny; I still think it’s funny. I never heard him say it–until today, when I watched the movie trailer. The first part is devoted to introducing the cast, so it takes a little time to get to Skelton.

Wikipedia refers to the movie’s rather ungrammatical title. I agree: it is, rather.

By Movie-Radio Guide/Triangle PublicationsUploaded by We hope at en.wikipedia – Page 2-copyright information-Page 3-photo (PDF)Transferred from en.wikipedia by SreeBot, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17013189

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Visit other #ROW80 bloggers by clicking here.

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Murder on Wheels Nominated for 2016 Silver Falchion Award

They like us! They really like us!

Austin Mystery Writers

Posted by Kathy Waller

MURDER ON WHEELS, Austin Mystery Writers’ first crime fiction anthology, has been named a finalist for Killer Nashville’s 2016 Silver Falchion Award.

Best Fiction Short Story Anthology
Ramona DeFelice Long, Fish or Cut Bait
Kaye George, Murder on Wheels
Joe McKinney, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine
Josh Pachter, The Tree of Life

71QiKRIkj+LThe Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award™ honors “the best books published for the first time that are readily available to a North American audience in any format from the past year.”

The idea for MURDER ON WHEELS came from a late-night group e-mail session.  As Kaye George explains in her Introduction, she and her husband had taken a ride on a large commercial double-decker bus, the Megabus, that runs between major cities.

“I started thinking that the bus would make a good setting for a murder,” Kaye writes. “There was only one problem–where to hide the…

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Of J. C. Penney, Robert Redford, and a Return to Civilized Dining

I’m at Writing Wranglers and Warriors today. Do click on over. It’s not about the cat.

Writing Wranglers and Warriors

MOW BOOK LAUNCH 003 (3)

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Posted by Kathy Waller

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Writing this post won’t be easy.

ernestandkathy9 (2) Ernest pinning down left arm

Sixteen pounds of Ernest lies across my right forearm, pinning it to the arm of the recliner. He’s on his side, positioned so he can turn his head and, with a moonstruck expression, gaze upside-down  into my eyes and/or reach across to pat my chest. At present, he’s making biscuits on my upper arm and, head thrown back, pushing with his chin at the mouse, which will soon fall to the floor. It doesn’t matter. With my arm weighed down, my fingers are the only movable part of that appendage, and they’re typing as fast as my brain can make up words. The mouse is purely decorative. I’m surprised to have gotten a whole paragraph down.

Well, no, not really surprised. We do this all the time. I say, “We’ve talked about this. You…

View original post 815 more words

Objection & the #ROW80 Report

We begin with a question:

Before airing tonight’s Inspector Lewis mystery, PBS issued the usual disclaimer, something like, This program contains material that some viewers might consider objectionable. Viewer discretion is advised.

Now. Every program contains something potentially objectionable. Objection is a matter of choice. (Why doesn’t the same disclaimer run before afternoon soap operas and tacky prime time reality shows? I choose to object to their content.)

It’s reasonable to warn parents about content they might not want their children to see, I suppose. Some PBS programming does fall into the PG range. Some people might not want their children to see as many murder victims as Robbie Lewis does. At times, I wish a firm hand had turned off the television before I saw the bisected woman in the first episode of The Tunnel.

Portrait of Jane Austen
Portrait of Jane Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the same disclaimer ran when Masterpiece Theatre presented a series of adaptations of Jane Austen novels. What could be considered objectionable about Jane Austen novels? 

Well, anyway, that’s one of the questions bouncing around my brain, taking up space that would be better occupied by more pressing concerns. Anyone who has an answer is welcome to leave a comment.

But first take note: They’re boring is not an answer. It’s not even accurate. Jane Austen is not boring. Attempts to change my mind are futile.

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Now for #ROW80. The past couple of weeks haven’t been conducive to doing anything, productive or not. I didn’t dust, organize, or shred. But the most important item is behind me.

The July 27 Buffet

  1. ♫♫♫ Complete the edit the AMW story for its (I hope) last major critique
    I reversed the tampering, re-edited the story. When Kaye George sent her critique, excellent as usual, she added, “OK, stop fiddling with it, OK?” OK. After the other critiques are in. Next stop, the independent editor. 
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
    Brahman Baby.
    “Brahman Baby” by Lea Maimone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    I wrote several hundred words in a doctor’s waiting room, then two days later realized that I’ve left no place for the incident that gave me the idea for the story in the first place. I can insert it–I hope. But if I can’t make it work, I’ll have to leave it out, which comes under the heading of Kill Your Darlings. I would prefer not to.
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe”
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. (The list appears at Writing Wranglers and Warriors.)
    I finished Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover and began Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing
  5. ‼Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
    I’ve already dropped Sundays. This is the Wednesday report, late. The upside: If I’d reported on Wednesday, I’d have had nothing to say about #2.
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day
  7. ?Take three naps a week
    I napped. Don’t know when or how often, but I napped. The question: Is it acceptable to count naps I took because I couldn’t stay awake?
  8. Go to bed at by 11:00 p.m. /  9. Cook at least one decent meal for David / 10. Dust the piano. / 11. Get rid of ten things a day / 12. Collect and organize books / 13. Shred

 

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Carrying on:

August 7 Buffet

  1. Eat no refined sugar. Eat a minimum of carbohydrates, including starchy vegetables and fruit. (I ate an ungodly amount of sugar over the weekend; had a reason but let things get out of hand; in other words, went crazy). A PET scan is scheduled for Wednesday, and, for the most accurate results, I need to be as sugar-free as possible. Bottom line, I hope I didn’t run up my blood sugar. Shouldn’t have but you never know. Cancer cells like sugar.
  2. Finish critiques of remaining AMW stories and return to writers
  3. Write post for August 15 AMW blog
  4. Write post for August 16 Writing Wranglers and Warriors blog
  5.  Continue drafting the second half of the story “Texas Boss.” Revise enough to submit to AMW for critique
  6. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe”
  7. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. (The list appears below.)
  8. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  9. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day
  10. Take three naps a week
  11. Go to bed at by 11:00 p.m. /  12. Cook at least one decent meal for David / 13. Dust the piano. / 14. Get rid of ten things a day / 15. Collect and organize books / 16. Shred

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20 Books of Summer Buffet

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
My thoughts on Anne Tyler appear here.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Saw it, liked the cover, bought it. Serendipity.

√The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
Loved it. Allende tells more than shows and makes it work.

Homegoing - Gyasi - Amazon 51s13capmsL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Homegoing by Yaa Gyassi

Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning by Sol Steinmetz

White Heat: The Friendship Between Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson by Brenda Wineapple

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith

Dr. Wortle’s School by Anthony Trollope

Time of Fog and Fire by Rhys Bowen

The Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

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A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80) is the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

To see what other #ROW80 participants are up to, click here. Or begin with the list below.

A.E. Browne

writing what i can when i

Weaver of Words

Lila Leigh Hunter

Harpwriter’s Blog

A Book a Day

shanjeniah’s Lovely Chaos

ReGi McClain

The Writerly Reader

Sammy PJ Writes

Denise D. Young

 

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Related articles

Tampering with perfection & #ROW80 Report

Tired
Tired

I am so tired I ever could.

Because last night I waltzed up to the watermelon buffet and chose

  1. Complete the edit the AMW story for its (I hope) final major critique

If I’d been taking naps, #1 would be only a memory. But there’s more to do.

Weeks ago, I edited out a couple of sentences but later realized I’d removed a bit of necessary information and created a contradiction. The error would be so difficult to resolve, and the lapse in logic was so subtle and so trivial, and the remaining text flowed so smoothly that I thought about saying, with Walt Whitman,

Walt Whitman's use of free verse became apprec...
Walt Whitman’s use of free verse became appreciated by composers seeking a more fluid approach to setting text. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;”

and leave it alone and hope no one would notice.

But someone always notices. Sometime, somewhere, some reader would say, But the character says this is going to happen, and this doesn’t happen, or maybe it does, but whatever happened, she never says another word about it, so it sounds like maybe both things happened, and she should have told us… 

So I tried a number of fixes, none of which pleased me, settled on one, and moved on. In a few days, I’ll go back and try again.

Just wo-ahn out
Just wo-ahn out

In moving on, I went from editing/revising to tampering. The official word is polishing, but I tampered: with words–thank goodness for thesaurus.com running in the background; with phrases; with sentence structure… Tampered with things better left untouched.

Tampering–especially when you think you’re polishing–is doomed to fail. It usually takes place near the end of a project, when you think everything is perfect, but not quite. So you make one little change, and then another, and another, and soon, part of your brain–the part where judgment lives–shuts off and you go on automatic pilot. You keep on clicking that mouse, cutting, pasting, copying, deleting, inserting…

Do this long enough and you can drain the life out of a story.

I’m most likely to tamper when I’m tired. I was tired last night. I should have watched Acorn TV or read or, better yet, given in and gone to bed at a reasonable hour. But I didn’t. Hyperfocused on the manuscript, I lost track of time and stayed up long after midnight. Then, in a perverse turn of events, I woke today up at 7:00 a.m.

So, as I said at the top of the page, I am tired.

A deadline approaches. I need to finish that story.  First, though, I’ll let it rest. Several days. A week. Until I’m sufficiently rested. Until I don’t hate it with every fiber of my being. Until I’m detached enough to distinguish the good from the bad from the ugly.

#ROW80 Update

The July 20 Buffet

The original Buffet was meant to cover 80 days beginning with July 4, not just a few days or a week. Some haven’t been completed. Number 5 is on-going. So nothing changes.

  1. Complete the edit the AMW story for its (I hope) final major critique
    Tried but didn’t finish, might have created a monster instead. See above, if you haven’t already.
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique–Nope.
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe”–Nope.
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. (The list appears at Writing Wranglers and Warriors.)
    Still reading Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover, 68 pages to

    Español: Isabel Allende escritora chilena en l...
    Español: Isabel Allende escritora chilena en la presentación de su libro “La suma de los días” en Barcelona. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    go. I used the calculator to figure that out. I didn’t have to. I can still subtract in my head. But I don’t want to think that hard. Sad.

  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
    It’s Wednesday and I’m posting.
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day.–Nope. I don’t know why, but nope.
  7. Take three naps a week.–Nope. And I’m so sorry I didn’t.

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The July 27 Buffet

They don’t change much. The point of the buffet, per shanjeniah, is to have choices and plenty of them. So I’ll add more watermelon.

  1. Complete the edit the AMW story for its (I hope) final major critique
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe”
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. (The list appears at Writing Wranglers and Warriors.)
  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day
  7. Take three naps a week
  8. Go to bed at by 11:00 p.m.
  9. Cook at least one decent meal for David
  10. Spend an afternoon at the Blanton Museum of Art
  11. Play the piano
  12. Dust the piano
  13. Get rid of ten things a day
  14. Collect and organize books
  15. Shred

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A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80) is The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life.

To read what other #ROW80 writers are doing, click here.

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Fort Worth Indie Film Festival & # ROW80 Report

Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016
Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016 – Family Shorts Block – “The Places You’ll Go”

It appears to be Wednesday–the scheduler from my doctor’s office had to tell me it wasn’t Thursday, but since her call woke me up, I take no responsibility for mixing up the days–and thus time for the #ROW80 report.

If I were playing by the rules, I would have reported last Sunday, but we’d been out of town all weekend and there was little to say. And since #ROW80 knows I have a life, I play by my rules.

I probably shouldn’t post today. I’m not in the best state of mind. I feel the way many of us do when we did the right thing, and because we did, life went all to you-know-where. But that’s another story. For anyone wanting more information, check the end of the post.

Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016 - Family Shorts Block - "The Interview"
Fort Worth Indie Film Festival, 2016 – Family Shorts Block – “The Interview”

On a brighter note, which I’m sure will be welcome, David’s “Alike and Different” was screened at the Fort Worth Indie Film Festival on Saturday. There was a good turnout, and the audience laughed in all the right places. The one drawback was that two of the other films starred very cute children and thus received an inordinate amount of attention. I’ve advised David to include William and Ernest the Cats in all future videos. Children, no matter how cute, are not as cute as our cats.

 

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The #ROW80 report:

The Buffet set on July 13 with updates:

(The Buffet is explained in “Writing, Reading, and the Watermelon Buffet,” on Writing Wranglers and Warriors.)

  1. Edit the AMW story for its (I hope) last major critique
    On the way home from Fort Worth, I scribbled on the manuscript. No major changes, the kind that will make a difference, just little changes in wording that will make no difference at all, but that will keep me doing the Should I? Shouldn’t I? dance. Just north of Waco, I put the ms. away to look at when I don’t care.
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
    Nope.
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe,” the story I started last week
    Nope again.
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list.
    I’ve read about half of Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover. I’m glad I made the effort to see Allende when she was at BookPeople several months ago. I’m glad I bought the book. At the time, I felt guilty for buying a hardback I don’t have room for when I could have spent less for a Kindle “copy.” But after I read the first few pages, guilt atomized. It’s a delightful book, one that, for maximum enjoyment, must be read from paper. I  still don’t know where I will put the book after reading it.
  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
    I skipped Sunday. See paragraph #2, above.
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day.
    Started this but fell along the wayside. 
  7. Take three naps a week.*
    Not too bad. Napped Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (on the way to Fort Worth; I think that counts), Saturday (practically passed out, so maybe I can’t claim credit), and Sunday (on the way home). Sad but true, I can’t remember what I did Monday or yesterday. But that’s five naps, two more than I set for myself, and four more than I expected to take.

*Start as soon as this has been posted.
I did, with a nap.

*****

The July 20 Buffet:

The original Buffet was meant to cover 80 days beginning with July 4, not just a few days or a week. Some haven’t been completed. Number 5 is on-going. So nothing changes.

  1. Complete the edit the AMW story for its (I hope) final major critique
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe”
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. (The list appears at Writing Wranglers and Warriors.)
  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day.
  7. Take three naps a week.

*****

A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80) is The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life.

To read what other #ROW80 writers are doing, click here.

*****

"Alike and Different"
“Alike and Different”

 *****

For the curious: The reason for my nasty state of mind: I flossed out a crown. And had to get it put back in. As I said, you do the right thing, and still…

What Have I Done?: The #ROW80 Wednesday Report

“watermelon” by Harsha K R is licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0
“watermelon” by Harsha K R is licensed under CC-BY-SA-2.0

My #ROW80 goals posted on July 10, plus progress:

  • Edit the AMW story for its last (I hope) critique;
    Not yet, but tomorrow I’ll get a critique from another partner. It’s better to have everything in before making changes.
  • Write and schedule the WWW post at least two days before the July 19 deadline;
    It’s finished, and SIX days before the deadline. I’m going to the doctor to see what’s wrong–I never finish a piece SIX days before the deadline. I’ll continue to change little things, but it’s polished enough to be posted today. So I’m putting this one in the Watermelon Met* column.
  • Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and turn in to AMW for critique;
  • Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe,” the story I started last week;
  • Complete the piece for the AMW blog and schedule it to post before midnight tonight.
    I posted it. Not before midnight. At 3:00 a.m. But I met the AMW deadline, and that’s close enough. Watermelon Met.

Summary: I set out to meet two deadlines and met them. The three remaining tasks aren’t time-sensitive. They carry over. The first, polishing the story for the proposed AMW anthology, must be finished by August 1, so it’s priority.

I’m adding three new goals to the list. Then I’m going to take a nap.

  1. Edit the AMW story for its (I hope) final major critique
  2. Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and submit to AMW for critique
  3. Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe,” the story I started last week
  4. By September 5th, read at least ten of the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2016 list. 
  5. Post #ROW80 reports on Sundays and Wednesdays. 
  6. Visit three new #ROW80 blogs a day.
  7. Take three naps a week.* 

*Start as soon as this has been posted.

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Read about A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80)

Read posts by other #ROW80 bloggers–check the list on today’s #ROW80 Linky.

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Watermelon Met will be explained in my Tuesday, July 19 post for Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

ROW80: The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life

Today I’m posting on the Austin Mystery Writers blog about A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80): The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have a Life. I hope you’ll want to read the entire post. To do so, click the link at the bottom of this excerpt.

(If you read the whole thing, you’ll find out what I mean when I say I have the fantods.)

Austin Mystery Writers

Posted by Kathy Waller

It is a truth universally acknowledged that to accomplish anything of worth, one must first set goals.

English: 85. Functions and Use Scenarios Mappi... English: 85. Functions and Use Scenarios Mapping to Requirements and Goals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But goals drive me crazy, and that’s no secret either. Periodically, fellow Austin Mystery Writer Gale Albright pulls out her notebook and says, “All right. Let’s write down our goals.” Her goals, my goals, goals for us as a team. She’s serious about goals.

As soon as she says the magic word, I start a major case of the fantods. I can come up with goals, but when I see them on paper, claustrophobia sets in. I dig in my heels and think, “I will not do [whatever I’ve written that I will do]. And you can’t make me.” Sometimes I don’t just think it–I say it.

I’ve said it to Gale so often that now when she pulls out…

View original post 702 more words

The serial joiner, a rerun; and ROW80 goals

The following post appeared on my blog Whiskertips in 2011. I thought about it a few minutes ago when I began Step 2* of Blessing My Sink and decided that on such a momentous occasion, it deserved a rerun. Those who think I never do housework, please take note: I’m doing it now, even as I write.

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English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (Novemb...
English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888), American novelist, at age 20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Housekeeping ain’t no joke. ~ Louisa May Alcott

I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch. ~ Gilda Radner

English: Publicity photo of Raquel Welch and G...
English: Publicity photo of Raquel Welch and Gilda Radner from Saturday Night Live rehearsal, April 24, 1976. Radner is shown as dressed as Emily Litella. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In a previous post, I confessed to breaking a pledge by joining four new groups. While the topic is fresh in my mind—that is, before the next ROW80 report comes along and I have to confess to a new failing—I must clarify:

These groups aren’t so much groups—well, one of them is—but are more like entities that send e-mail for me to a) benefit from, b) ignore, or c) feel guilty about. (When I detect an excess of c), I click Unsubscribe.)

As a serial joiner, I’ve had experience with c). Case in point: FlyLady.

img_0540-sink-blessedFor the uninitiated, FlyLady.net is a website dedicated to helping people keep their homes clean and uncluttered. I discovered it a couple of years ago and, as is my wont, joined up.

I don’t know why it took me so long to find Flylady. I’m surprised a family member didn’t sign me up years ago.

But anyway, FlyLady is wonderful. She taught me to dress and to lace up my shoes as soon as I get out of bed, to shine my sink every night, to clean in 15-minute segments, to Swish and Swipe, to do the 27-Fling Boogie,  to start a Control Journal, and on and on and on.

She’s also psychic. She said not to buy a new 3-ring binder for my Control Journal, because I already have a bunch lying around the house. She knows about the twenty-three categories of paper clutter I’ve collected. (Actually, I have only twenty-two, because David tosses yesterday’s newspaper every afternoon. Religiously.) She also knows I’m addicted to office supplies.

She even knows about the 3 x 5 cards.img_0541-sink-big-trouble

(I refuse to take responsibility for the cards. Robert Olen Butler said if I’m writing a novel, I have to use them.** At last count, I’d bought 3,000 cards, a mix of lined and unlined, in a variety of colors. And I’m still on Chapter 2. For the seventeenth time.)

I got so wrapped up in FlyLady’s helpful hints that I blogged about Blessing My Sink.

Then the trouble began. At breakfast with friends, I explained the twelve steps of the Blessing process. In excruciating detail. David’s eyes glazed over—he’d heard it before. During the next week, the others called me several times to make sure I was okay.

img_0543-sink-uhohMore trouble followed: E-mail. Following FlyLady’s instructions, I signed up for it. There were a lot. Every morning, and all day long. There were so many e-mails, I didn’t have time to Swish and Swipe.

(Years ago, I read that some people “fall into print.” I’m one of them. I spy a string of words and cannot look away.)

But more serious than the time element was the guilt those e-mails caused. The writers seemed so happy. They wrote about the pleasure they got from Rescuing Rooms and putting out Hot Spots and writing things on calendars.

I was driving myself crazy just trying to keep the sink dry.

So I had to click Unsubscribe.

img_0546-sink-barredI still Bless My Sink occasionally. That part I enjoy. It’s mostly waiting for the sink to finish soaking. When it’s done, and the house smells like Clorox, I feel not just pleased, but virtuous. At my suggestion, a friend tried it, and now she feels virtuous, too.

I still visit the FlyLady site. She offers a line of high-quality products. I bought a beautiful feather duster, and when I remember where I put it, I’m going to use it. Someday I’m going to order the Rubba Package. I’m particularly interested in the Rubba Swisha. (This paragraph wasn’t composed with tongue-in-cheek folks. I’m serious. The cleaning products are excellent. I was going through a bad patch when the feather duster arrived, and I set it aside. Somewhere. It’s probably Under Something.)

Well. It’s after midnight, and I’m violating another of FlyLady’s cardinal rules by staying up late.

I’ll just add that one of my new groups is Missus Smarty Pants. Every Tuesday, she’s going to send me a newsletter filled with fashion tips and instructions for purging my closet and accessorizing what’s left.

There’s a chance I’ll find MSP challenging, because attempts to accessorize might necessitate rejoining FlyLady so I can locate the accessories.

But I think I’ll be okay. Because I’ve already purged my closet, and there isn’t much left to accessorize.

I think FlyLady would be pleased.

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Update:

  1. The closet purge I referred to happened five years ago. It has since come unglued.
  2. Closet purges are problematic because some things are just keepers: The tee-shirt I was given in 2004, when I worked as library consultant at the high school from which I’d graduated. (I don’t wear it because it’s bright yellow and makes me look sick).
  3. I no longer perform all the steps when I Bless My Sink because I’m afraid that no matter how well I rinse, Windex and Comet will combine to create a dangerous gas, one whiff of which will knock me unconscious to the floor.
  4. I unsubscribed from Missus Smarty Pants. Post-purge tee-shirts, the majority of my post-purge wardrobe, don’t require accessorizing.

And

5. Because my story for the next Austin Mystery Writers anthology must be edited; and because I have a post due for Writing Wranglers and Warriors on July 19; and because I have a post due for the Austin Mystery Writers blog tomorrow; and because I have two more short stories in the works; I’m jumping into Round 3 of ROW80, which started July 4. My goals for the round are to

  • Edit the AMW story for its final (I hope) critique;
  • Write and schedule the WWW post at least two days before the July 19 deadline;
  • Draft the second half of the story “Texas Boss” and turn in to AMW for critique;
  • Finish a very rough draft of “Thank You, Mr. Poe,” the story I started last week;
  • Complete the piece for the AMW blog and schedule it to post before midnight tonight.

And because tempus fugit, I’ll end this and get busy on that AMW post. Right after I Bless the other side of My Sink.

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*There were no dishes in the sink, so Step 1 didn’t apply.

**Mr. Butler is a plotter, so he likes cards. I’m a pantser, so I don’t.

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To see what other ROW80 participants have to say, click here.

 

Dedicated to the kindness of strangers

Alike and Different
Alike and Different

In June, David’s “Alike and Different,” a video “dedicated to the kindness of strangers,” won the Out of This World Award at the Lionshead Film Festival in Dallas.

The emcee who introduced the video said–and I wrote this down so I would get it right–“Not much I can say. Four minutes.” And then, to the audience, “We’ll see what you say.”

But he was half grinning/half giggling, which said a lot. And the audience laughed in all the right places.

When people you don’t know, and who don’t know you, laugh in all the right places–well, it makes you feel darned good.

Afterward, the emcee said David’s video shows what can be done using just a few household objects. I assume the household object to which he referred was my vegetable steamer. It does make a stunning spacecraft.

David @ Lionshead Film Festival, 2016
David @ Lionshead Film Festival, June 2016

When David told me the festival would be held at Valley View Center, an old mall on Preston Road, I said, “I know Preston Road.” And that is true. Sort of. I know approximately two blocks of Preston Road. Or, I knew two blocks of it. My knowledge peaked sometime between, oh, 1957 and 1965.

Consequently, as a navigator, I was hopeless. I read the big green exit signs and said things like, “There’s Walnut Hill Lane. I know that.” And, “There’s Belt Line. I know that.” I’m just a bit hazy on how all the streets I know fit together, like on a map.

  • [Typical on-the-road conversation:
  • David: The mall is in the Galleria area. Do you know where the Galleria is?
  • Me: Yes. It’s in Houston.]

Fortunately, David had performed due diligence and we reached our destination without having to depend on the kindness of strangers.

The Lionshead festival was smaller than others we’ve attended: all fifty-two films were screened in one small room. But I was impressed by the quality. “Call for a Good Time,” was one of my favorites. It was named Best Student Comedy Micro Short. The director, a student at Baylor University, said it was inspired by Baylor’s Moody Memorial Library, which serves as an unofficial social center. He said you have to get pretty deep into the library to study, which is what his characters do. Sort of.

My other favorite was a comedy titled “Hard Broads.” I can’t explain. You have to see it for yourself. It was named Best Female Directed Short. I didn’t see a Best Male Directed Short on the list.

Two days before the festival, the Dallas City Council voted to tear down Valley View Center to make way for the Dallas Midtown development. It seems it’s “a dead mall on life support.” Dead, maybe, but I liked what I saw of it–art galleries and studios and kiddie rides and a train. I’m a sucker for trains. And stuffed animals, and a store displaying the most well-endowed mannequin I’ve ever seen. I snapped a few of the highlights.

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For more out-of-this-world experiences, check out Alien Resort.