Monday, March 23, 2015

A Fond Rememberance

For those who actually saw "Mary Poppins" when it opened in September, 1964, the movie "Saving Mr. Banks" is highly enjoyable, but for a writer, it is an amazing exploration of what it's like to hand over your beloved characters to someone like Walt Disney, who believed in entertainment above all else. I liked the way the movie shows another side of him without getting maudlin. I also understand P.L. Traverse feelings when she sees her characters portrayed in a way she finds irreverent. We all know our characters better than anyone else and she guards hers tenaciously. If Walt hadn't been such a salesman, this movie never would have seen the light of day. 

Kudos to Mr. Disney, although I will never get over not being able to see this movie the first time I went to the theater. It was sold out and I couldn't understand why they didn't just make more tickets! That's what I thought at ten. I didn't know they had run out of seats! I remember the lights on the marquee, "Mary Poppins" in huge letters, and the pictures of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. I had the album and listened to the music like kids listen to the "Frozen" soundtrack today. My mother probably hated "Just a Spoonful of Sugar." 

(Spoiler Alert) I cried with P.L. Travers when she watched her story unfold and recalled the real man she had based Mr. Banks on slowly succumb to TB. My father was kind of boring in comparison to P.L. Travers' dad so I've never based any of my characters on him, sorry William H., but I have used family members in my book, "But the Children Survived." They all know who they are. 

"Saving Mr. Banks" is playing on Starz right now. It's also available on DVD. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Releasing the Muse

I finally gave in and did my floors and this is what came to me while I ran the vacuum over my living room rug. 

"He was there again, staring up at my window."

I saw the guy holding an umbrella, gazing upward, and then I saw the woman standing at the window holding the curtain to one side. She was illuminated by a lamp on the table next to the window. I know who she is. She's a character I've been struggling with for three years. I've been wanting to start this series forever, but it's epic and I wasn't up to it, really, but I keep thinking about it so maybe I'm ready to put everything else aside and do it.

I become inspired when I am cleaning. The mindless tasks seem to free my muse from a shackled place in my mind. This is when my muse begins to speak in perfect prose that I can’t ignore. A line, a weird, whispered string of words that ignites another and another until I have to leave my vacuum and write. 

At one point, I walked away while the vacuum was still running; knowing the elusive thought would vanish if I waited another moment. The words flow easily and I manage to capture the lines I have been searching for for months. They say exactly what I’ve been seeing in my mind and it feels good.

This is what it feels like to be a writer. I take a walk with the dog and imagine someone following me. Why are they after me? Does it have something to do with the dog? This is a case for Libby the psychic dog! Or, I think of Nick Dandino wrestling the guy to the ground and forcing him to talk. I'm pissed off because I don't have a notepad with me, or a voice recorder. All Nick's dialogs fly away on the wind. 

I get very inspired when I walk her at night. The stars, the moon's glow, all work on me. It makes me feel romantic and dreamy. While I pick up Trixie's poop, I am thinking about how it feels to have the wind whipping through my hair as I stand on the deck of a cruise ship headed for some tropical isle. It makes the mundane tasks of life doable. I am grateful for my imagination. It's helped me through some very difficult times.

I bought a waterproof notepad for the shower. It works well. Well, it will if I ever install it. But this shows how desperate I am to capture these thoughts when they come. They flow so fast that there is no way I will remember them just as they are, but when I clean, I'm close to the computer. If I'm struggling with something I feel I have to write, but just can't start, I pull out the vacuum cleaner. It's a sure cure for writer's block.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Over the Rainbow Bridge

When fashioning a story, we take things from our lives. Today I learned that my neighbor’s dog has passed away and I knew that her passing would inspire me. I wanted to remember her in some way because she was a very good dog, and she will be in my next Libby the Psychic Dog story.

Her name was Sally and she was a black lab. When I first met Sally, she was a rambunctious toddler who would “walk” her owner, who at 81, would struggle to hold her back. She liked to jump on you and say hello with big kisses and wags of her tail. She was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met.

As she grew older, she slowed down a bit, easing my neighbors’ walks with her. They went out a few times a day and I could count on seeing her when I came home from work. She would make a beeline for my car to greet me. When I walked my dog, Trixie, she would be at her window to say hello. We always responded with a wave and a hearty, “Hi, Sally!” When I didn’t see her in the window this past month, I knew something was wrong.

Sally was suffering from back trouble and couldn’t get into the family car anymore. One day, her back gave out, and she lost the use of her back legs. She was eleven and was gently put to sleep. I will miss her and I wish I’d had a cell phone camera when she was younger. I have no pictures of her. She was a beauty and I will miss her as if she were my own.

As I said in my Facebook post, she will probably be my neighbor’s last dog. He’s almost ninety. It’s possible that my dog is the last I will own, too, and as I head into my sixties, I realize that this may be the last home I ever live in, of my own choosing that is, and the car I’m driving may be my last car. I understand my mother better now, that she was living a life of “lasts,” and I hope this realization makes me more aware of the present, loving the people in my life mindful of their being alive, and giving my husband the attention he deserves.

Peace, Sally. Say hello to Sweet Pea, Benny, Butch, Worm, Shotzi, Susie Q, Heidi, Middie, and Chester for me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mandatory Deposit Revisited

I have caught up on my paperback book submissions for mandatory deposit and decided to re-publish my blog from September, 2013 about mandatory deposit and the Copyright office. I've updated some of the information.

I have to do what!!??
Disclaimer - I am not a legal representative or an expert on Copyright law.

One thing about self-publishing that I rarely hear about in my other groups or on forums is Mandatory Deposit.  I was researching the benefits of having a Createspace ISBN as opposed to buying my own ISBNs, and I read on someone's blog that Createspace does the Mandatory Deposit for you.  This sent me on a quest.  I wanted to find out if this was true.  It isn't, but it would be nice.  

Mandatory Deposit is required for published works.  It is a law that was enacted to keep the Library of Congress filled with books for minimal cost.  Authors, publishers, etc., are required to deposit two copies of the best edition (hard cover, or if you don't have hard cover, soft cover) with the Library of Congress within three months of publication.  If you register for a copyright, you are required to deposit two copies at that time. You can deposit PDF versions with your copyright registration, but it will not satisfy the Mandatory Deposit requirement of the best edition. 

There are exemptions such as electronic or online only publications.  Page 2 of the this Copyright Government PDF states that "A physical copy is not required for works that are published or distributed only electronically."

I don't know how many self-published authors are publishing away without making these deposits, but if the government doesn't default, they will get notice of the requirement.  Not making this deposit can lead to fines, some as high as $2500 if you refuse to comply.  

Registration isn't expensive.  It's $35 right now, and sending in those two copies with your registration with a Notice of Mandatory Deposit will satisfy your obligation.  I've attached some info at the bottom of this post if you want more information or the links to the Copyright Office.

I tried to state the facts as I found them, but if you see something here that is incorrect, please leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by!

U.S. Copyright Office 

U.S. Copyright Registration

§ 407 . Deposit of copies or phonorecords for Library of Congress8

Monday, January 19, 2015


I made a big decision this weekend. The holidays had thrown me into a funk that lasted for seven weeks and fortunately, at my age, I realized it would pass and didn’t fight it. I let it run its course. Now, with the clarity of hindsight, I realized that the funk stemmed from the desire to be something other than what I am – the optimized me, the better me. I would read all the posts on writing that Facebook had to offer and feel less than, until the dark specter of depression would envelope me and lull me into a non-resistant state. No, I didn’t take to my bed, but I stopped writing.

I was tired of pushing myself. Finish three chapters, five chapters, etc. a day. Don’t worry that it is no fun, or that it may not even be that good, just produce. And marketing, well, we won’t even go into that. I had come to an impasse, the place in the road where one must make a decision about what it is they truly want. If I had started writing when I was thirty, I would have gone one way, but I started in my late fifties. Now, after four years, I understand something I’d never understood before – I can’t do it. I can’t do business. I have tried so many times to do something that would give me an income, or prove I wasn’t the less than a human being I’d always believed myself to be, but nothing worked. It wasn’t because I lacked passion, focus, or direction, it just wasn’t meant to be. If I had only accepted myself for who I am, I would have spent more time doing things I regret not doing now, such as getting on the floor and playing with my kids.

I have fought against calling my writing a hobby as somehow that made it seem trivial. At my age, however, hobbies become useful. It keeps us involved with the world and brings us new friends. When we are home alone, or even with a spouse who doesn’t share our passion, it helps to be in touch with someone who does understand it. A significant other can be supportive, but they can’t experience the flight of fancy you feel when you’re feeding your passion. I have fought the fact that I am not, nor will I ever be, a businesswoman. Encouraged by others I saw on Facebook, I pushed myself beyond my limits, forcing myself to read boring articles about SEO, and missing opportunities to take my grandchildren to the movies because I had to finish one more chapter. Why? Because of an unmovable deadline I had set for myself as per some article or blog post I’d read.

No more. I have a wonderful hobby that feeds my soul and brings me joy, but I’m too old to make it a business. First of all, it costs too much. I don’t make enough selling books to pay for the advertising, etc. that goes along with a business. Secondly, I just don’t like business and never have. It’s too much work and I’m retired. Also, I was born this way. I have fought my biology most of my life. I hated going to school because I had to get up in the morning. If I had been able to go in at noon, I think my years in school would have been more productive. I might even have gone to college. I might have started writing when I was in my twenties. Like most weird people, I have struggled to fit into this world. Fortunately, I met a man who didn’t care what I did. He just loved me. How many of us can say that they found unconditional love in the person they married?

Writing is a necessity for me. I can’t give it up, nor would I want to. I just can’t go on believing it can be anything other than a hobby for me. I want to share my stories because I want to entertain. I have no lofty goals other than to make people happy. I understand those who want writing to be their career and I applaud them for their desire to work hard and establish a profitable business. I wish them all the success in the world, and hope that they will support me in my decision as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Latest Release - Circumstantial Evidence - is Here!

My latest book is finally here! Circumstantial Evidence is available on Amazon as a paperback or a Kindle ebook. 

Circumstantial Evidence is a dark story of the living victims of a serial killer. An abused woman who can't leave her home, the man who has spent over fifty years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit, and the people of the small town of Gold Crest, Alaska who know there is something sinister about the bar at the edge of their dying little town. And what about the people who have gone missing? Or the ghost who haunts the mountain? Were they all victims of the same man?

Circumstantial Evidence is a taut mystery that will stay with you long after you've read the last page. Get it now on

Monday, December 8, 2014

What Happened to Mrs. Claus?

I posted this question on Facebook and no one was able to answer it. 

"I'm watching Santa Claus 2 and it suddenly occurred to me - what happened to Mrs. Claus from the first Santa that Scott Calvin took over for? Did she just disappear? I mean, if Santa has to be married, it stands to reason there had to be a Mrs. Claus with the other Santa. What happened to her?"

I must be honest and say that I've watched these movies for years and this hadn't occured to me before. I put them on Saturday night and as I'm watching Santa Claus 2, all of a sudden I think about the first movie. Now, let's break this down. It is of the utmost importance, don't you agree?

In the first movie, Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) dons the Santa suit when the real Santa falls to his death and delivers the gifts to all the good boys and girls. He ends up at the North Pole, spends the night there in a bed big enough for two, and then goes home. Unbeknown to Scott when he put on the suit, he became Santa and was given one year to get his affairs in order before he must move to the North Pole and assume his new position. Nowhere is there a mention of Mrs. Claus, nor is she seen. 

In the second movie, the premise is that if Scott wants to remain Santa, he has to get married. It's a clause in the Santa contract. Okay, so if it is a clause, didn't the first Santa have to adhere to it as well? And if so, he would been required to have a Mrs. Claus, too. 

My Facebook friends were as perplexed as I. This was an obvious plot contrivance and it sort of pisses me off, even though I hadn't noticed it for 12 years. It was a damn good contrivance. Despite this, I like the movie - not the plastic Santa, I found him obnoxious, but I liked the love story and it lured me into seeing Santa Claus 3, which was a terrible movie and gets worse every time I see it.  So I came to the conclusion that since I've been writing, my mind works differently. I think it always did, but having this jump out at me means that my writer mind has developed to such a point that I can't watch mindless entertainment anymore without things like this happening and ruining my heretofore ignorance of the way these movies manipulate us.

It also annoys me that the writers of this movie got away with this for so long. I have a series called The Divine Detective Agency. In order to investigate crimes on Earth, Nick Dandino must put on a suit that allows him to be seen while on Earth. He is dead, you see, and is a spirit, so to speak. There are rules for the suit such as Nick can't leave it while on Earth for longer than an hour or he will evaporate into nothingness. If the suit is damaged, he has to hightail it back to heaven or else. I have to keep to these rules or those of you that have read the two books in the series will let me know about it, as you should. 

So, should I write a scathing letter to the writers of Santa Claus 2? My guess is they really won't care since it made a mint at the box office and no one asked this question before. Still, there are rules, and this has been driving me crazy for the last two days! Where is the firs Mrs. Claus?!!! The first person to answer it to my satisfaction will win a digital copy of The Body in the Bungalow.