Writer Anxiety

I have a thorny writing problem in my current manuscript. Don't ask me to tell you what the problem is because I don't really know. I just know that there is this uneasiness in the back of my mind when I think about the story as I've put it down thus far. I've found that this vague worry usually means something is wrong with the character or the motivation or the pacing or some other aspect of characterization or plotting.

Gee, that really narrows it down, doesn't it? But I bet that most of you writers out there know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm in the first stage of that infectious disease I call Writer Anxiety.

It's a common disease though little known to the general public. If the symptoms aren't treated immediately, the progression of the disease is slow but inexorable. Eventually, the writer becomes paralyzed and is unable to write the rest of the story. Sometimes, even if a new story is started, the paralysis continues until the writer becomes afflicted with the worst disease known to literary kind, Writer's Block.

Fortunately, I have my tried and true remedies to prevent the escalation of Writer Anxiety. I took the first medication this morning by pulling my dog-eared, broken spin copy of Leonard Bishop's book Dare To Be A Great Writer: 329 Keys to Powerful Fiction from my bookshelf.

That book is now difficult to page through because so many of those pages are broken from the spine and fall out if I'm not careful. I still manage to skim through the different topics - 329 in all - searching for something that my unconscious will recognize.

Ah! It worked. Page 109 talks about Spoken Flashback. In reading the short section, I realize I've got this scene that I've written as a flashback. The scene is important, but the flashback takes away from the pacing in that section. What happens in the flashback is inherently dramatic but doesn't appear so as I have it written. I think what I need to do is make the flashback a scene happening "in front of the reader" not merely a "telling" of the scene from the character's memory. If I didn't already know how to do that, the book shows how.

This book is one of my brainstorming tools. I have many in my writer's toolkit. Do you?

Advice from George Carlin & me

I wanted to share one of my favorite pieces by the incomperable George Carlin. Though I'm not anywhere near the yippy dippy weather man's age, I've always enjoyed his wit. More importantly, I enjoy his wisdom. I've tacked on my wisdom, what there is of it. Enjoy.
by George Carlin

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height.
Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.

Yep. I honor this resolution. Life is too fragile and short (If you've lost a loved one way before their time then you know what I mean.) to worry about jumping on the scale every morning or regretting that you're not tall and built like a Victoria's Secret model.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

I found my attitude reflects those I hang with so I try to stay away from people who bring me down. You know, those black holes of the universe who just suck the life right out of you.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening,
whatever. Never let the brain idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop."
And the devil's name is Alzheimer.

I listened to my grandfather who said, "Learn something new every day."

4. Enjoy the simple things.

Long ago when I was young and poor, I learned the pleasures of conversation, good books, laughter, and relationships. There's little that can beat those things for enjoyment.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

Laughter isn't just the best medicine; it makes medicine uncalled for. Give me a funny movie or book any day. I don't pay hard-earned money for angst, moving, and dramatic with unhappy endings.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is
with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

Life is an unending series of changes. Some are good. Savor them. Some are bad. Suck it up and get through them. Learn how to be the person who can live through the successes and joy without being smug and survive the bad without falling apart. I learned a few years ago that I am far stronger than I ever knew.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets,
keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

I made a sign for the first home I, alone, bought and hung it on the gate. Sanctuary. That's what it was for me. Every home I've lived in since has been the same. Sanctuary.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable,
improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

After years of physical fragility, I finally am improving. I learned that sometimes you have to keep moving through the pain no matter how bad it hurts. Your cells either decay and die or they live strong. It was hard, but like I said, I'm stronger and have greater will power than I ever thought. I made the conscious decision to not accept an unhealthy future. Then I proceeded to fake it while I tried to make it true.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a
foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

Guilt in very small doses serves to make us behave better, act better, perhaps try harder. The problem is that most people don't have small doses. They have huge, honking burdens of guilt that they carry around or worse that they try to dump on other people whom they are supposed to love. Down with guilt. Up with reasoned thought and behavior that make you do the right thing at the right time.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

There's an old country music song my dad used to listen to. "For Tomorrow Will Never Come." Probably sung by the original Hank Williams or Jimmy Rodgers. Life is short and has never offered a promise to anyone that tomorrow will arrive on schedule. Each day, people get killed in too many ways to recount. Never assume that you can make up tomorrow after a fight today or that you can say you're sorry for hurting someone. Live as if each day is your last because it could be. Or the last day of someone you love.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments
that take our breath away.

Keep track of those moments. Write them down so when you're old and can't dance with your party pants on, you can read about those breathtaking moments. Your kids will really get a kick out of realizing what you were like as a PERSON not as a frazzled mother or a stern father. One of these days you might have grandkids who just might be able to see you as the daring guy who bought an airplane and learned to fly or as the cool chick who signed up for karate when she turned forty instead of as the gray, stooped elders in their lives.

If you don't send this to at least 8 people, WHO CARES?

Indeed, why should you waste time doing useless, insignificant things. Cut out the time-wasters from your world. Streamline your lives. Remember what Thoreau said? "The world is too much with us. Simplify."

So, Happy Birthday to me and everyone lucky enough to add another year to their resume.

Ralph Waldo Trine, not Emerson

I read a quote once that I thought was extremely powerful so I made a note of the man to whom it was attributed, Ralph Waldo Trine. I wasn't familiar with Mr. Trine and intended to look him up.

That was a few years ago. I found the note I'd made about him in a book last night so this morning I belatedly followed through. As always, I'm amazed at what one can discover by a little research online.

First, here's the quote that "spoke" to me:

There are many who are living far below their possibilities because they are continually handing over their individualities to others. Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself. Be true to the highest within your soul and then allow yourself to be governed by no customs or conventionalities or arbitrary man-made rules that are not founded on principle.

Sounds like something one of our latter-day, self-help-motivation gurus might have said, doesn't it?

In truth, this was written decades ago, for Mr. Ralph Waldo Trine was born in 1866 and died in 1958. The Secret people have nothing on Mr. Trine.

He was one of the most popular of the New Thought writers. He was a philosopher, mystic, teacher, and author of many books and one of the early mentors of the New Thought Movement. His writings influenced his contemporaries including Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science.

Mr. Trine was a practitioner and innovator in the area of life-transforming thought, and he sold more books than any other New Thought author. His influence and his writings spread far beyond New Thought circles to the general public.

Ralph Waldo - guess his parents admired Emerson - was born on September 6, 1866, in Mount Morris, Illinois. His university educational background was in history and political science and even won a $100 prize for his essay on "The Effects of Human Education on the Prevention of Crime."

As a graduate student at Johns Hopkins, he became a special correspondent for The Boston Daily Evening Transcript. He married Grace Hyde, a graduate of the School of Expression, later Curry College. Grace Hyde Trine was an author and poet. They had one son Robert. They lived at Mt. Airy, New York, where he was deeply involved in the metaphysical seminars at Oscawana.

Trine started writing career in his early 30s. His influences were Fitche, Emerson (of course), and Henry Drummond, the Scottish scientist and evangelist. Trine expanded on many of the themes in Drummond's inspirational classic, "The Greatest Thing in the World."

Trine's remarkable book, "In Tune with the Infinite" was published in 1897 and sold over 2 million copies and was read by everyone from Queen Victoria and Henry Ford to the general public. Henry Ford always said his success was directly related to having read Trine's book. In fact, Ford ordered the book in quantity and gave copies to other high profile industrialists.

The truths found with the book's pages have been rewritten and restated by many, especially during the last twenty years. Some think the restatements aren't as clear as the original.

By recognizing the power of our thoughts and by harmonizing our own with the Divine will, we will attract perfect peace, health, love, prosperity and success.

Trine wrote more than a dozen books. He continued writing well into his 70s. In his old age, he lived in an elder care facility for religious professionals in Claremont, California, where he gardened and tended fruit trees. He died there at the age of 91.

Today, few know who he was or what he left as a legacy to the world. Chances are if you've read any of the popular motivation teachers, then you're being influenced in part by his philosophy and inspiration. His work is worth being discovered for itself.

You can purchase in eBook form some of his books including In Tune With The Infinite: Fullness of Peace, Power and Plenty. Just follow the link.

Just knowing about him and all he accomplished makes that quotation I saved even more special.

Cowboy poets

Wish I could have been at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Alpine last weekend. The Houston Chronicle did a feature last Sunday on the genre and some of its poets.

I'm a sucker for Cowboy Poetry. I guess because I grew up reading old Zane Grey western novels. By the time I was fourteen, I think I'd read about fifty of them. Some, like West of the Pecos and Riders of the Purple Sage, I remember distinctly, but most have kind of blurred together.

If you don't know much about Cowboy Poetry, let me clue you in. There are about 200 gatherings in the U. S. each year, and they're well attended. As noted in the Chronicle's article, Cowboy Poetry includes traditional elements like rhyme, meter and narrative, that aren't seen much any more. Most of the long-time practitioners of the genre have actually worked as cowboys, or they have strong links to that culture, for instance, wives of ranchers.

No rhinestone cowboys need apply. Yes, there are some poets who've never had to deal with throwing a saddle over Old Paint, but somewhere along the line they had ancestors who knew how to cinch a saddle and ride the line.

Johnny Carson used to have cowboy poets on The Tonight Show. That's where I saw the first one. It was as if I were listening to one of the heroes from a Zane Grey novel lyrically tell about facing the bitter cold and loneliness often much a part of the job of being a cowboy.

Cowboy Poetry has been around a long time and doesn't seem to be fading. Maybe in this frantic rat race we call life, listening to someone recite simple yet powerful words about living with honor and integrity has greater appeal now than ever.

The Chronicle article quoted from Forgotten (about an old abandoned horse that nobody wants to put down) by one of the greatest of the Cowboy Poets Bruce Kiskaddon:

He stands still. He ain't none worried,
fer he knows he[s played the game.

He's got nothin' to back up from.
He's been square and ain't ashamed.

Fer no matter where they put him
he was game to do his share.

Well, I think more of the pony
than of those that left him there.

Google Cowboy Poetry or Kiskaddon's name, and you'll find plenty of sites such as Cowboy Poetry if you want to discover more about it. Amazon, of course, has several books from reasonably priced to expensive dealing with the subject.

Happy trails, pardner!

Microcosm of our world

My DH sent me this thought-provoking perspective on our world. I guess it's making the rounds. Since the Sling Words staff, meaning me, thought it worth reading, here it is.

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 would be Africans

52 would be female
48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States [and not one of them would be ME!!!]

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death

1 would be near birth

1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education

1 would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

Therefore, if you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer healing touch.

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

France has UFOs?

Did you read the Washington Post story about France's secret UFO archives posted on the web for the whole world to see?

Apparently France's National Center for Space Studies decided to dump more than 100,000 pages of testimony, photographs, film footage, etc. onto the web. That makes them unique among most countries including the U.S. who keeps that kind of stuff classified.

Anyone out there know about Project Blue Book? My parents had a friend who was assigned to Project Blue Book. After investigating thousands of reports from the late 1960s on, Project Blue Book was officially closed because the conclusion was reached that there was no evidence to sustain the theory of extra-terrestrial visitors.

Then what is Area 51 all about?

By the way, within three hours of posting the data, their server crashed. It simply couldn't keep up with the number of visitors who wanted a peek at the official evidence. So be patient. It may be a while before you can look over the French evidence.

Shredders, start your engines

Remember my blog a few days ago about Data Destruction being a booming business? Well, the local government is getting into the act to help citizens.

If you live in Harris County, Texas, you can haul all the stuff you want to shread to the Sheriff's Department Saturday, March 24, between 9:00 and 12:00 in the morning and dump it in an industrial-size shredder.

Three hours for everyone likely to take advantage of this? Geez! I have a feeling this will be like the first time the county offered toxic substance disposal except it was from 9-5 on a Saturday. You could take all that junk from your garage - old paint, chemicals, whatever - and turn it in for disposal. You know, you can't put that stuff in the trash pickup.

Anyway, we loaded up our car with dozens of cans of old paint, most of which had been left in our garage by the inconsiderate previous owner, and headed for the dropoff point. Except the line stretched down the street, around the corner, and went for blocks. We got there at 3:00 and decided not to wait. Back to the garage to store all that dried up and ugly paint again.

So three hours to shred stuff for everyone who shows up? Hmmm.

Paying market for writers

Writers struggling to make a living at writing look for every legitimate opportunity to get paid for their words. Each week Cindi Myers aka Cynthia Sterling (new release is The Man Tamer from Harlequin Blaze for May 2007) publishes a newsletter that is worth subscribing to, and it's free. She offers market news for fiction writers and freelancers. Anyone can sign up by sending a blank email to: cynthiasterling-subscribe @ yahoogroups.com (take out those spaces).

Today's edition offers a paying market for anyone who can write those poignant slice of life stories as published in the Cup of Comfort series as posted below.

"The bestselling Cup of Comfort book series is looking for stories for five new volumes. Stories should be between 1000 and 2000 words, uplifting and original. Preference is given to narrative nonfiction that reads like fiction. Payment is $100 plus a copy of the book in which the story appears. One story from each volume receives a $500 grand prize.

Editors are looking for stories with the following themes:

A Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers - stories that portray horses as companions, helpers, messengers, healers, teachers, heroes, and inspirational forces in people’s lives as well as stories about the incredible things that people do out of love for a horse or horses. Submission Deadline: 5/15/07

A Cup of Comfort for Cat Lovers - original and compelling testaments to the deep connection between cats and the people who love them as well as heartwarming and humorous tales about truly amazing felines. Most of the stories in the book will be about domestic cats (pets), but the editors are also interested in stories about feral and exotic cats. Submission Deadline: 7/01/07

A Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors - uplifting stories about the experiences and emotions involved in battling and surviving breast cancer. Possible story themes include but are not limited to: diagnosis, treatment, emotional impact, support systems, healing practices, coping mechanisms, effect on loved ones, effect on personal and/or professional life, life after recover, prognosis, positive post-cancer outcomes. Submission Deadline: 8/15/07

A Cup of Comfort for Spouses & Children of People with Alzheimer’s - The inspiring stories in this collection will will show how love prevails and how lives thrive when a spouse or parent has Alzheimer’s. Submission Deadline: 10/15/07

A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women - uplifting, contemporary stories on a wide range of topics of importance to divorced women—including but not limited to: dating, children, relationship with ex, in-laws, finances, friends, solitude, personal transformation, healing, revenge, mending fences, the ex’s new wife or lover, empowerment, rediscovery of self. The majority of stories will be written by women who are or have been divorced. Stories can be poignant, irreverent, humorous, witty, or wise. Submission Deadline: 12/31/2007

Submit stories by email to wordsinger @ aol.com (take out spaces of course). Paste the story into the body of the email - no attachments, please. Detailed writer’s guidelines available."

Contest for writers

Writers Digest is having their big contest with the prize a trip for the winner and a guest to New York. The winner will spend three days and two nights in the Big Apple, and a Writer’s Digest editor will escort the lucky writer to interviews with four editors or agents. The winner also gets a free Diamond Publishing Package from Outskirts Press (for self-publishing I assume).

There's 10 Categories so go check it out.

Deadline to enter is May 15, 2007.

Fake blog

This is one of those frantic days when I have little time to blog so I'm doing a fake blog. That's when you give a pithy, wise quotation as a blog.

Here's today's from the erudite wit Stephen Wright: "Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."

Whatever happened to Stephen Wright? I think he's so smart and funny. I haven't seen him on television in many a moon.

Sling Words out.

Who would have thought...

...that there would actually be a demand for a company that does Document Destruction?

I followed a truck on Grand Parkway today that proclaimed their business in huge letters. It was a huge truck. On site or off site, they promise to shred every piece of paper you give it.

Amazing that we live in a world where someone makes a very good living destroying other people's documents.

San Antone

I'm on good old I-10 as you read this, heading to the Alamo City. I like the drive from Houston to San Antone whether we take the interstate or old Highway 90A. Each has its attractions. The interstate crosses over dozens of creeks with imaginative names like my favorite Woman Hollering Creek. The old highway cruises through small, quaint towns and past ranches with longhorns grazing in the pastures.

It's a bit too early to see bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, Mexican sombreros, and all the other wildflowers that bloom in Texas starting later this month, but the drive is nice nonetheless. Got my digital cam charged and ready to go.

See you next week.

Sling Words out.

Write hard

You must write - not just talk about it, not just think about it, not just dream about it.

You must write consistently - not just when The Muse inspires you, not when your house is clean, not when everything in Life is running smoothly.

You must strive to improve - practice indeed makes perfect, or at least better.

You must put your work out there in the marketplace - nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You must persist when rejected - because you will be; everyone is.

You must believe in yourself - even when no one else does - especially when no one else does.

You must remember why you began writing in the first place - because you love putting words together.

You must accept that luck is a part of this business and that you may never get that lucky break, but that you can succeed anyway.

You must remember why you write - because it is what you do; it characterizes who you are; it is a reward in itself.

Warning about Lightning

I was talking to a friend about my tech problems of late. She told me about her experience with Lightning, a free download on the Corel website. I thought what she said was worth repeating. This was only her experience, but you might want to be careful.

Lightning is an internet word processor. When my friend downloaded the software, it highjacked all her Word Perfect files and converted them to Lightning files. All her WP12 files became Lightning files including the icons.

After analyzing the program, she decided it really didn't fit any needs she had. She removed the program but found she then couldn't open her WP files without creating an association EVERY time. A little of that had her sending "a less than friendly email to Corel" about the matter.

She finally managed, even though she's no programming wiz, to fix everything back the way it was before the download, but it cost her a morning of precious writing time. In uninstalling, of course, it left a folder and some "trash" that had to be cleaned up manually.

Even with all that, her files did not automatically revert to WP. She had to re-associate them. Fortunately, fixing one file fixed them all.

She admits that she perhaps didn't stick with the program long enough to see what it could do. What she saw didn't impress her, and, in her words, "I was mad that it highjacked my files. Don't be messing with my books!"

So unless you're the type to take the time to really work with a program, don't download this. If you want to try it, then I recommend you create a Restore Point before downloading.

Dark side of spring

Yesterday, I rhapsodized about spring. Sorry for those who haven't had any of those lovely days yet. Today, I'll look at the flip side - the dark side of spring. The scary, thunderstorm-spawning tornado side of spring. We've been experiencing that each night since Sunday. Today though, the warnings have continued into the daytime.

This is the part I hate about spring. The screeching alarms on the television and radio. The Doppler reports that set you to wondering if it's better to take cover in the bathtub in the guest bath or the one in the master bath. Or maybe my big master bedroom closet is better? All those shoeboxes on the shelves might serve as protection should the ceiling fall in on me. Except one of the water heaters is right overhead in the attic.

Daytime for these alarms is much better than at night though. I hate to turn the television off at ten when a tornado watch/warning has been announced for the next two hours. How can you go to sleep when you might get sucked up into a funnel cloud?

Ah, yes. The joys of Texas in the springtime. We have those wonderful robin's egg blue skies and golden, sunny days; bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush blooming along the roadsides, but we also have torrential downpours and tornado fears.

Guess you just have to take the good with the bad. Kind of like Gibran said about not being able to really appreciate joy unless you also have sorrow.

Spring break causes spring fever

Ahh! Spring break. Smell that sweet aroma of polinating flowers and trees? Ahchoo! Where's my Fluonase?

Warning: Spring Break is followed closely by Spring Fever.

Did you ever wonder how the phrase spring fever originated? Of course, I did. I wonder about all kinds of stuff, most of it inconsequential.

The dictionary defines spring fever as a noun meaning a feeling of languor or yearning brought on by the coming of spring.

Spring fever has become the namesake for many things including college festivals, triathlons, a mixed drink, a perfume, several movies, poems, and books. The spring equinox has figured in human history for thousands of years from pagan rituals to college spring break. When days grow longer and warmer, primitive people obviously felt a need to celebrate surviving another winter. Just as obviously, human instinct doesn't change. Even today, we look forward to shedding winter wools and slipping on tee shirts, shorts, and sandals.

So break out the iced tea and listen for the sound that heralds spring time: "Play ball!"

(This first appeared on my website newsletter Wordplay a couple of years ago.)

Vision vs. reality

Recently I re-read a motivational book. In it, Isaac Bashevis Singer is quoted: Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression.

One of the hardest things a beginning writer must overcome is the despair produced by this chasm.

All of us who write have this vision inside our head of the story we want to tell. We can see it. We can feel it. So why is it so hard to interpret that vision in words on paper so that others can read it and then see the same story that lives inside our heads?

I don't know the answer to this. I just know that turning your vision into something everyone can recognize is the hardest thing in the world. So often, we become discouraged when we read the pedestrian pages we've written. They're nothing like the bright shining story we want to tell.

If this has happened to you, then you must hang tough. You can't give up even after trying time and again. You have to suck it up and stay with it. You must write and write and write, always striving to convert that vision into a word picture others can embrace.

Yes, it's hard to keep writing when you think you'll never get good enough to tell your story properly. Yes, it's hard to hang in there and pay your dues. There's a word for those who don't want to do this - unpublished.

There's also a word for those who write thousands of words without validation, without reward, and, suddenly, one day, they realize they've taken something from their brains and turned it into prose that allows others to see their vision. We call them published.

Follow up: Bart Whitaker sentenced

For those of you not in Texas, Bart Whitaker, found guilty in the murder of his mother and brother, has now been sentenced to death. The conspirator who cut a deal for testimony was the getaway driver, not the trigger man, as I believe I said previously. The shooter goes on trial at a later date.

My prayers go out to the families of all those involved that they may find closure at least, if not peace. So many families destroyed. The Whitakers, the families of the co-conspirators, even the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and the members of the jury who wept over their decision. I'm glad I wasn't called for jury duty in this. It's an onerous responsibility.

I have enough knowledge of history that I know crimes like this have taken place as long as humans have walked upright. Hundreds of years ago, knowledge of these crimes was generally limited to the regional area where they took place. Now, in our world of instant knowledge, everyone knows when something like Columbine or Lacey Peterson or the Whitaker murders happens. Maybe this instant access to news is why we all think: what's wrong with society? It's crumbling like a sand castle in an ebb tide.

Intellectually, I realize that murder in all its manifestations and for all the usual reasons have been with us since Cain and Abel. Yet, emotionally, it makes me wonder what kind of world we are leaving our children.

I guess anthropologists could answer this: the world hasn't changed because people haven't changed. How many millennia must pass before humans evolve? Or will they ever?

Stranger than fiction: Bart Whitaker

There's something I just can't wrap my brain around. Here in my county there's a murder trial going on. Bart Whitaker has been convicted of hiring a buddy to murder his family.

This happened two years ago. Bart and his family had gone to dinner to celebrate Bart's college graduation. They went home; a gunman appeared and shot and killed Bart's mother and his teenage brother. Bart was injured slightly and survived.

I'm sure the police immediately thought Bart had something to do with it because I did. You read enough crime fiction and nonfiction and books about how cops thing, and you get a feel for it.

It came out that Bart had not graduated from college, along with other facts. I didn't follow the investigation because it took about two years for them to officially close the case. The triggerman cut a deal and got 15 years in prison. Bart went to trial last week. He took the stand yesterday and basically said that he hated his family because he FELT that the love they gave him was conditional.


That's a reason for killing the woman who gave you life? The brother who was just a kid?

I'll never understand stuff like this. There's got to be something wrong with the brains of people who commit these heinous crimes. Not that, in my opinion, that should excuse it or let the murderer off the hook.

Conditional love? The boy's father testified, pleading with the jury not to kill his son. The man wept and said he forgave his son and begged the jury to sentence him to life instead of the death penalty.

Conditional love?

I'm shaking my head in bewilderment.

The tech war

Anyone else out there suddenly have any kind of conflict between Word Perfect and your printer?

About three weeks ago, my Word Perfect suddenly developed a problem where it locked up after printing a file. I couldn't get it to print two files in a row.

Since I've been trying to print out a manuscript, this is driving me crazy. Instead of writing, I spend all my time visiting websites in hopes of finding something to resolve this problem. So far, I've downloaded new drivers. No help. Uninstalled Adobe that could have been the problem according to one site. No help. Uninstalled Word Perfect and reinstalled. No help. Uninstalled all the printers and reinstalled with most up to date drivers. No help.

AGGGHHHHHH!!! Sometimes I really hate computers.

If you've had any kind of similar problems, please let me know. Buy me a vowel.

Comfort zone

People live in their own individual comfort zone. What exactly is a comfort zone?

It's everything you've done often enough to feel comfortable doing them again and again.

Whenever you do something different, something new, that's territory outside your comfort zone. Often, just thinking about doing something new or different or doing it a new way can make you feel afraid or guilty. Sometimes, if the thought of doing something is so totally different and new, you'll not only be afraid but also you might feel guilty or unworthy or hurt or even angry. Or a combination of all those unpleasant, uncomfortable emotions.

Then why not stay in your comfort zone? Do what you've always done?

Because you'll get what you've always got before. Now if that's good and you're perfectly fulfilled and content, then fine. Your comfort zone is a mighty fine place to be.


if your comfort zone doesn't give you what you want. If you aren't living your dreams. If you're in a rut, then you've got to move outside your comfortable rut to the uncomfortable zone where growth can take place.

After all, as I heard someone say once, the only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.

Natural and unnatural disasters

Seems as if the first two days in March have been disaster laden. The tornado in Alabama and the bus crash in Georgia. My mother was worried yesterday because in her part of Louisiana, they were under tornado watch. I figure that's the same storm system that spawned the twister that hit Alabama, where we also have family.

I hear about tragedies like these, and I think how unpredictable life really is. I guess I'm a bit of a fatalist. If it's your time to go, it's your time. Of course, my husband says it may not be your time but you're hanging out with someone whose number is up so then you're just screwed.

Maybe we should all party like it's 1999 because you just never know when it may be your time.

After all, it's like the quotation by Sydney J. Harris that I included in my website update (almost finished with that!): Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."

I don't want to be cowering in a hallway while a tornado roars overhead and think: "If only I'd had the courage to do _________."

Fill in your own seemingly impossible dream.

Back in the saddle

Wow! I last posted February 17 to report that I had come down with the virus that inundated the family. What a nasty little virus indeed. It knocked me to my knees, and I ended up with double ear infections. What a fun way to spend February.


Anyway, I'm back. Spending the day updating the various web sites I maintain including my own so I'd best get back to work.

Sling Words out.