Daisy Update — New Edits Are In

My “real” work has been crazy busy lately.  I’ve taken on some new responsibilities and am talking to my client’s Microsoft Dynamics NAV partners–people who help companies with enterprise resource planning software (to me, a fancy way of saying “accounting and all that jazz”).  This means a lot of time invested in my work that seems to be transitioning into more of a channel management/sales role.

Anyway, I have been telephoning and talking enough to invest in a cough drop company, my fingers have become sore with so many emails typed, and the wall behind my desk is turning into a bulletin board of procedures, pricing and schedules. Whew!  It is all very exciting and fun, but has me running.

Then yesterday, among the cazillion or so emails stuffing my inbox, I caught a glimpse of an unfamiliar name, Tracey Matthews.  No, this isn’t the singer from the U.K., and there was no SPAM note before the subject.  Total stranger writing to me. Hmm…

The subject said “Copy Edited Manuscript for Faith on the R…”

Whoo Hoo!  The copy editing is back to me.  I clicked open the email and saw a message in what looks like 4 point text.  Darn my email!  Doesn’t it know I’m old and want messages to come in at 72 point or larger?

The phone rang.  Another partner.  I glanced up.  Oh my goodness! I had an appointment and needed to leave the office five minutes ago. Darn, darn, double-darn!  I fired off a quick thank you to Tracey, and had to go back to work.

Finally, this morning, right before starting our blog post, I had the chance to look at the e-mail again.  There are about 40 pages with questions on them.  I opened the document and expected red marks all over, but as with Alice Duncan’s work in June, Tracey seems to have been gentle, thoughtful and complete.  I am in awe of editors.

Now I have until the 13th of September to review the comments and changes, then get back to Five Star.  Two weeks.  Yes, I know they said that right from the start.  But I have RMFW’s Colorado Gold Writers’ Conference next weekend and work during the week has no extra minutes here and there right now.  What’s a writer to do?

In a panic, I ran to my special guy.  “How can I create my art with all this work to do?  Why do I have to make a living?  Why can’t I win the lottery and focus on writing my books in peace?”

Ever the pragmatist, he said, “Hit the ‘accept all changes’ button and send the thing back.”

Well, that’s one way to get the job done.

Have a good weekend, my friend.  You know what I’ll be doing.  Just send in those oatmeal raisin cookies and lottery tickets.  We’re getting closer to a “real publication” date.

Gabriel Caerphilly Taken By Surprise

Gabriel Caerphilly stared through the windshield of the police cruiser, hardly able to focus. Damn that confounded woman!  She’d knocked the wind right out of him with her confession.  He needed time to concentrate.

Gabe pulled into a parking space on West Main.  Wouldn’t do to have an accident, and heading the few blocks back to the police station in his condition might end up in a fender bender. That Daisy had fouled up his ability to think straight again.

He slammed the car door shut and walked toward Merle’s.  A good, stiff drink was just the thing he needed. No, couldn’t do that and get back in his car again.  Gabe wandered down the sidewalk instead.  Antique stores, a yoga center and a small art gallery drifted by as he walked.

It had been another of her “adventures” as Daisy liked to call her missteps with the law.  She’d been caught shoplifting–shoplifting!–and had called for him to rescue her from Southwest Plaza’s mall security.  True, the offense could have been a misunderstanding, and knowing Daisy, that was just what happened. But still, Gabe had to use up some of his good-will points to get the shopkeeper from pressing charges.

He’d been furious.  Ever since this retired school teacher stumbled back into his life, she’d caused nothing but trouble.  Well,  that wasn’t entirely true, but she was more trouble than any sane police officer would want.  She was involved with those wacky romance writers, one of whom probably killed another “writer,” the Catholic priest. She was at the crime scene of a second murder–with her finger prints all over the place.  And now this.

How had the woman survived on her own without him?

Then they’d had that stupid fight when she fell and bumped her head.  He could have handled all that and walked away–right after he made sure the wound wasn’t serious. But Daisy started crying–crying!–and Gabe was caught. Couldn’t let her be upset because of him.

“And to think I was attracted to you!” she’d gurgled out from the safety of his arms as he checked her head wound. When she said that, it was as if the whole world stopped spinning.  He hadn’t felt this winded since Sam Brown knocked him on his ass playing football for the Cañon City Tigers.

At that point, all logic flew out of his head. Daisy Arthur was attracted to him?  For God’s sake he was turning fifty soon. What woman would want an old geezer like him?

Thoughts of Linda Taylor, Gabe’s partner in murder investigations, popped into his head.  She was almost twenty years his junior and show-stoppingly beautiful.  She’d said on more than one occasion that a woman would be stupid to push him out of bed.  Gabe thought she was just teasing.  And now Daisy, that comfortable companion for Gabe’s special needs daughter, was confessing to being attracted to him. Seriously.

The police lieutenant grinned and looked down at a stomach that had remained in control, thanks to an over-abundance of work-outs at the gym. Attractive, eh? He picked up the pace to his walk.  Daisy Arthur, that lovable, and come-to-think-of-it, quite cuddly, soft, sweet, and sweet smelling woman was attracted to him. Not bad. Not bad at all, old man.  He thought of Daisy’s still soft-looking mouth and breasts that made his palms tingle.  Her skirt had flown up over her bottom when she tripped and he’d taken advantage of the momentary nice view.

Sugar Rush, Littleton’s premier candy shop was just a door or two down.  Maybe he’d investigate a nice box of chocolate for the woman who found him attractive. Today was a good day after all.

Competing With Movies – Why Books Still Matter

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had the chance to see some popular films, The Hunger Games and Sherlock Holmes, A Game Of Shadows.  Fun stuff! In a couple of hours I was taken to different places than I would have ever imagined and saw some incredible movie effects that just can’t be replicated in a book.

Wait!

Am I making an argument that the movie is better than the book? Eh gad!  Wash my mouth out with soap!  I am a writer, and I am supposed to think of books as the pinnacle of entertainment, personal development and the next best thing to sliced bread. How can I speak such blasphemy?

I can speak this way because movies can and do provide wonderful entertainment.  The film making skills of Hollywood’s entertainment industry gets stronger all the time.  Remember when the bullets from The Matrix and the arrow from Robin Hood were enough to have people talking about those special effects for weeks?

And there’s the key.  If you read “novelty” where I put “special effects” in the last sentence,  you can see that there’s nothing wrong in admiring the skills of movie-makers.  I didn’t challenge the story lines, the character development or the personal growth brought on by subtle, moral investigations within the movies. I didn’t talk about the lasting value of having seen the latest entertaining film.

But books have to compete with movies, theatre, music and the ubiquitous television for my time. Even personal computers provide hours of “entertainment.”  So are books so old-fashioned one should ignore them and go for the shiny, new technologies popping up with the frequency of tea party bumper stickers?

No!

I say this emphatically because I believe in the long-lasting value of books and reading. When I typed in “benefits of reading” to my search engine this morning, there were 855 million responses.  Page after page extolling the benefits – improved memory, reduced stress, better thinking skills, professional development.  The list goes on and on.  It doesn’t matter if you read fiction or non-fiction, light or heavy topics.  The key is to read, read, read.

My question: is reading becoming the vegetable of your entertainment plate?

You know it’s good for you, but is it as much fun as having someone else do all the imagination work for you?  Disney’s Imagineers would probably like that. I said at the beginning of this post that the movies I watched recently took me to places I could never have imagined.  Hmm…

I read the first Hunger Games book.  I didn’t care for the writing and had to keep telling myself that I was reading YA–young adult–and the simple plot was because adult fiction is where you find the intrigue of multiple plot lines and character development.  In my mind’s eye I had pictured Catness differently, didn’t see the cornucopia the same way.  No, I couldn’t have imagined those things the way the movie showed them.  But I saw them in my own way, in my minds’s eye, and that is where my brain was engaged.  I was actively participating in the book, while the movie assaulted my other senses.

I read (on the internet-guilt, guilt) that one in four adults in the U.S. read zero books a year. None! Zippo! Twenty-five percent of our adult population admits to this!

And of those who do read, the average amount of books they read a year is four. One book a quarter.  And we trust this illiterate population to select our leaders, our senators, congressmen, and presidents?  And we still want to claim a world leader position?

Perhaps we could get more people to vote, if we made exciting movies about going to the ballot box. But then we’d probably get into telling them who to vote for.  Then elections would be forgone conclusions, based on how entertaining the candidates are, and how much money and film-making skills go into our political persuasions.

Remember Hitler’s Germany?  He was a special orator who entertained and engaged the emotions of his listeners.  He prepared the population to hate based on his speeches, and he eliminated his competition with book burnings.

I hope books always exist, so that thinkers will always be a great part of our society.  And I hope writers will always aspire to engage not only our emotions, but our vision and thoughts with good words:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far,  far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” –Charles Dickens.

Keep reading.  Keep writing, my friend.