Tag Archives: kimberly

Yay! Here’s #800!!!

Greetings, readers. We’ve made it to 800. As I ponder what to write about in this blog entry, I’ve been considering my life’s accomplishments and failures so far. In 53 1/2 years, I’ve written three books, co-authored one novel based on a play I wrote, and to this point have written 799 blog entries.

The last few weeks I’ve gotten religiously nostalgic. This past Sunday I attended a church my parents and I went to when I was a youth. It felt strange but good. It was like going home again. I also found a Bible on the internet which can either be read or listened to, and it is free. What an amazing concept. As I mentioned in blog #799 I am having dinner with a friend, who is quite religious and I am looking forward to having an in-depth discussion on the Lord and prayer.

I feel blessed to have so many good friends around me. A very nice lady down the hall, Smith, sometimes cooks for me. There are very generous people in town, such as businesses and churches. The businesses sometimes offer fantastic deals, and at least two churches I know of have weekly dinners for no cost, but they’ll, “Gladly accept a donation.” Rebecca has been a marvelous friend, helping me with my writing for eight years. She has been invaluable, helping with editing, writing, keeping appointments straight, and the like.

I have always been a nostalgic person. When I left my childhood home for the final time, after the sale of it had been finalized, I took paintings with me that are hung proudly in this apartment. Other people can have my beat up organ, my old stereo, my 1980s Zenith color TV after everything go cleared out, but they were not going to get their paws on five certain paintings. Call me sentimental if you want to, but that is just me.

Painting that was in my parent’s home

 

A very important memory from my parent’s home

 

Where do we go from here, from #800? Well, I hope to blog for a very long time. I would love to reach #1,000. Rebecca and I have figured out that is about two years’ worth of work at two entries a week. I think we can do it. Sure I would love to see the views per day go up, but I take pleasure in writing, getting my thoughts down, and giving you nice folks something to enjoy.

As I close #800, and I’ve said this in the past on these milestone blog entries, thank you so much for sticking with us. If you like what you read, tell your friends. Here is the direct url to the blog’s home page. Here’s to many, many more blog entries. If any of you have some ideas you would like me to blog about, please leave a comment in the comment section, on my Facebook, or on my Twitter page.

Until next Wednesday, have a wonderful weekend, please stay warm, enjoy, and happy reading. Yay for #800! 🙂

A little taste of Four’s a Crowd

Greetings, readers. For today’s blog entry, I decided to give my regular readers, and the folks who read me when I link the blog entry to the Bear Spring Camps Facebook page, a one chapter taste of the novel Four’s a Crowd. Darren Taylor did a remarkable job on this novel, adapting it from my play Kimberly. We collaborated on this work, touching base on his progress and plot points as he wrote it. I think you will be pleased by this sample of the first chapter. There is a small chance that it is not quite the final version that was published, but if it isn’t, it is extremely close to the final. If you would like to read the entire book, it is available for sale at Amazon.com for $14.99, a decent price for a 300 page novel. We do not yet have it as an ebook, so for now it is in print form only. It is also available locally at Webster’s Bookstore Café in downtown State College, PA.

 

Four’s a Crowd

CHAPTER ONE

            “Well, that was a waste of my time,” Alice thought to herself as she got dressed.

After going through the embarrassment of disrobing and donning the paper-thin gown that allowed nothing in the way of modesty, she waited for a solid twenty minutes for the doctor to grace her with his presence.  And when Doctor Keeting finally did breeze in, he spent a total of fifteen minutes with her, if even that.  He did a rudimentary physical examination, asked her a few asinine questions, and was gone again before she could say, “uncaring, incompetent moron.”

She never would have agreed to come here in the first place if it hadn’t been for the fire.  It wasn’t a big fire, but it was her fault.  She’d simply gotten distracted and left a pan of bacon unattended on top of the stove when she went to answer the phone.  It had been Mrs. Donohue, from next door, calling with wonderful news regarding the total profits from last week’s church pie sale.

If it hadn’t been for Henry, and his quick thinking with the flour jar, the whole place might have gone up.

Taking one last look in the mirror to see that her blouse was straight, she pulled her jacket on and buttoned it up, making sure the collar lay properly.  Next, she produced a small comb from out of her bag and smoothed over any visible imperfections in her steel-grey curls.  Satisfied with the results of her efforts, she shouldered her purse, opened the door, and stepped into the chilly hallway.

The stench of industrial strength carpet shampoo and antibacterial cleansers made her want to sneeze and the clamor of voices and ringing telephones, emanating from the nurse’s station, assaulted her ears.  A toddler being pulled down the hall by one tiny hand as she screamed at the top of her lungs, only added to the din.

Turning to the right, she walked to the first junction, took a left, walked to the next, and paused.  Suddenly, all the hallways and doors looked the same, becoming a never-ending labyrinth of hideous grey carpeting, taupe walls, and severe fluorescent lighting.  The posted signs, meant to act as a guide, only succeeded in confusing her further.  To her horror, it was then that she realized, she had no idea where she was.

“Mrs. Detmore?” a soft, feminine voice asked from behind her.  Alice turned toward it.

A petite red-head, an obvious bottle-job to Alice’s experienced eye, smiled at her with way too many teeth.  The bright pink scrubs the girl wore, adorned with dancing teddy bears, offended Alice’s every sense of good taste.

The girl’s mouth moved but her words were lost in the ambient noise that filled the hallway.

“Excuse me?” Alice replied indignantly.

“I asked if you were alright,” the girl said.  “You look a little lost.”

“One is never lost if one maintains her sense of self,” Alice pronounced with false confidence.  She turned back around and took several steps, not wanting to make her fear and confusion readily apparent.

“Mrs. Detmore?” the nurse said.

“Yes?  What is it, child?” Alice asked, her back still to the girl.

“Your husband is in waiting room three and…”

“I know where he is.  I don’t need some little miss know-it-all to tell me where I left my own husband.”

The young woman closed the distance between them and put a gentle hand on Alice’s shoulder, “But Mrs. Detmore,” she said with soft patience, “waiting room three is back this way.”

*          *          *

With her escort leading the way, Alice found her husband of almost fifty years asleep in one of the poorly padded wooden chairs.  His legs were stretched out in front of him with his feet crossed at the ankles and his nose was buried in the lapels of his heavy brown jacket.  His chest rose and fell with each deep breath and a low, growly snore rumbled through his hairy nostrils.  A copy of last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue lay open, face-down, on his considerable belly.

The girl bid her a good day and departed.  Alice just shook her head and rolled her eyes in exasperation before she approached the sleeping man and loudly cleared her throat.

He snorted, blinked awake, and looked up at her with a sleepy smile.

“Good old Henry Detmore, always on point,” Alice grumbled.  “I’m ready to go.”

“I was just resting my eyes,” Henry proclaimed.

“And dreaming of swimsuit models I see.”

Henry sat the rest of the way up.  The magazine took a dive for the floor, but he caught it and tossed it onto the jumbled pile of other periodicals; the newest of which was an issue of Time from May of that year.

“No, I was reading an article in there about Ben Roethlisburger’s car collection,” Henry retorted but Alice had already turned away and made for the elevators.  She was practically half-way there by the time he was on his feet and out the door.  Leaning heavily on his cane, he picked up the pace and caught up to her.  Ignoring the mild case of pins and needles in his left foot, he took her by the arm.

“You move pretty fast for an old gal,” he said, nestling against her.  “What say I buy you breakfast?  But only if you’re willing to fool around on the first date.”

“Who are you calling old?” Alice asked.  “And don’t be vulgar, Henry.”  She frowned at her watch.  “It’s half past ten.  Breakfast is over.”

“Lunch then,” Henry countered and pushed the button for the elevator.

“It’s too early for…look, can we just go home?” Alice barked, her blue eyes flashing angrily.

“Sure thing, babe,” Henry admonished, looking a little down-trodden.

The elevator arrived, the doors opened, they stepped in, and Alice pushed the button for the ground floor.

*          *          *

On an oddly warm Friday in mid-September, Alice and Henry Detmore pulled out of the labyrinthine parking structure that serviced St. Claire Memorial Hospital, a large medical facility that served the residents of Mount Lebanon, a medium-sized suburb about thirty minutes south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Detmore’s home town.

They turned off Bower Hill Road and onto Route 19, heading south.  Henry, growing weary of the mind-numbing silence, reached over, and clicked on the car radio.  He ran through the pre-sets until he came across W.Z.O.O. and the morning sports talk show; The Morning Zoo with Hal and Al.  The two throaty hosts, Hal Nelson and Al Kelly, were ranting about the up and coming Sunday afternoon match-up between the Steelers and the Bengals.  This decision earned him a look of disapproval from his wife, so he turned it back off.  Alice simply turned back toward the window and they continued the trip in silence.

About ten minutes of angry quiet later, Shari’s Dairy, a small ice cream stand, came into view as they topped a small hill.  A red, white, and blue OPEN flag rippled in the warmish autumn breeze.

Henry’s face lit up.

“Hey!  Shari’s is still open.  She usually closes after Labor Day.  It’s been forever since we’ve been in there.”  He snickered and smiled to himself.  “You remember the time we accidentally left Lyle there?  We were so busy arguing, that we got about halfway home before we realized that he wasn’t in the car.”

Alice didn’t respond.

“And when we finally made it back, we found him where we’d left him, sitting at our usual table just as calm as could be.  We expected to find a hysterical, crying child, but he was so engrossed in his electronic football gadget, he never even realized we were gone.  You want to stop for a cone?” Henry asked, letting up on the gas in anticipation of pulling into the small, gravel parking lot.  “They might still have your favorite; butter crunch.  I think I’ll get black raspberry.”  Secretly, Henry wasn’t in that much of a mood for ice cream.  He would just be glad to see his wife smile again and ice cream always used to cheer her up.  He activated the turn signal.

“No,” Alice finally said.  “We really don’t have time to stop for memories.  There’s just too much to do.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Henry agreed, and his heart sank.  “We still have a lot of packing to get done before the movers get here.”  He disengaged the turn signal, put his foot back on the gas, and they hummed past the small ice cream parlor, headed for home.  He looked over at his wife, who had gone back to staring quietly out the window.

Maybe it was the fire.  Maybe it was something the doctor had told her.  She would talk about that in her own good time.  Maybe it was the move.  And maybe it was the realization of everything that awaited them over the next few days and weeks.  Either way, something had caused her to go quiet in a way he’d never seen before.  And he couldn’t say that he blamed her one bit.  Neither one of them responded well to change and neither one of them was looking forward to leaving the home they had both grown to know and love.

*     *     *

At about half past eleven Henry turned the Buick into the narrow gravel driveway and pulled in under the car port; nothing more than a simple tin roof nailed onto a wooden frame, just something to keep the worst of the rain and snow at bay.   A large, dark stain and deep tire grooves in the gravel marked the place where they’d parked many vehicles, in the same spot, over many years.

He put the car in park and shut it off.

We’re home, Mother,” he said.  When she didn’t respond to being called mother, something he hadn’t done in the years since their son, Lyle, still lived at home, he reached over and touched his wife’s arm.

She jumped a little, as if being jolted out of sleep.

“What?” she asked grumpily

“We’re home,” Henry repeated.  “You know, that place where we keep our stuff while we go out and get more stuff.”

“I can see that,” she huffed.  Collecting her purse from its place on the floor between her feet, she opened the car door and started to get out before she realized that she was still belted in.  With a grunt of frustration, she hit the release button for the seatbelt, and climbed out, slamming the door shut hard enough to rattle it in its frame.  Henry couldn’t hear what she was saying.  He could only see her lips move as she muttered to herself and walked around the front of the car, digging into her purse for the house key.

Henry didn’t get out right away.  After his wife disappeared inside, he sat for a moment, staring up at the 19th Century Colonial that he, Alice, and Lyle had called home for the better part of four decades.  The two coats of sunlight yellow paint he’d paid Greg Farmer a small fortune to put on the old place, not one year ago, were already beginning to show signs of sun-fade and cracking along the foundation and around the windows.  And that really toasted Henry’s ass.  People say it over and over because it’s an undeniable truth, “You just can’t find good help these days,” and, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

And before his health had begun to fail him, he had lived by that very policy.  He had done the painting and all the other maintenance himself.  Sure, most of the time, he would get Lyle to assist on things like cutting and maintaining a yard that spanned almost an entire acre around all sides of the house.  And maybe he would even hire one of the neighbor-kids to pitch in on the bigger jobs; like painting the house or changing out the storm windows in preparation for another hard Pennsylvania winter.  But, for the most part, he had done it all himself.  And, like any other man, he took a lot of pride in that fact.

However, as he got on into his later years, and Lyle grew into his late teens, he found that his legs would no longer take him up a steep ladder or that he couldn’t chop fire wood without becoming winded.  More and more Lyle had to take over.

After Lyle graduated high school and went off to college at The University of Pittsburgh, he took to hiring local kids to do things like raking the leaves.  Eventually, even that pool of employees dried up as some of those kids followed his son’s path and went off in search of higher education.

Like Lyle, they left Mount Lebanon for the excitement of dorm life; parties, girls, booze, and all the other things that the college experience had to offer.  Others joined the military and went off to serve their country.  And others simply threw caution to the wind, packed up, hit the road, and lit out for parts unknown.  A few made some very bad decisions and went nowhere.  Like little Eddie Gilbert, who ended up in Pittsburgh’s Correctional Institute for armed robbery.

With no cheaper labor to bring in, Henry was forced to hire professionals and contractors to do the difficult work.  People like Greg Farmer who possessed the unreasonable expectation that, just because they owned a business and a truck with their name decaled on the door, they had the God-given right to charge the moon and stars to perform simple tasks; such as putting a coat of paint on a house, changing out storm windows, or drying out a flooded basement.

Again, this brought him back to the paint job on the house.  The five-hundred dollars he’d given Mr. Farmer should have bought him a much longer lasting result.  A good quality outdoor paint should not fade or crack in the span of ten months.

Then again, ultimately, it didn’t matter anymore.  Because, as of a week ago, the place had gone on the market.  A reflective aluminum sign from Franklin Reality Inc. stood planted in the grass on the edge of the front lawn with a FOR SALE plate hanging from the bottom.  He and Alice finally had to face a hard truth and admit to themselves that they were no longer able to take care of the house or the property.  It was just too much work.  And too much worry.

Especially after the fire.  While it had only charred part of the wall behind the stove, melted two of the control knobs, and ruined the curtains above the sink, the damage had not been that extensive.  The insurance had paid for all repairs, a replacement stove, and new curtains, but the one thing insurance could not bring back was their piece of mind.  Alice would never admit it, but Henry knew that the fire had put the fear of God into her.  For at least two weeks afterwards, she didn’t want to go into the kitchen to make so much as toast.  What other mistakes was she going to make?  Maybe next time no one would be there and something worse would happen.

Finally, despite all her initial objections, the call to Dr. Keating’s office was made and an appointment was set up.

Their realtor, Janet Franklin, called the day after the papers were signed and the house was posted on the company’s website thing.  She informed him that she already had not one, but three, potential buyers on the hook.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that he and Alice were going to have to take a bit of a beating on the price to facilitate a quick sale.  Also, the kitchen fire would have to be disclosed even though it had caused no structural damage.  She’d list it as a fixer-upper with a ton of potential and a starting price of eighty-thousand.  After some debate, he and Alice decided to vacate the property and leave the sale and other final doings in Mrs. Franklin’s capable hands.

Regardless, he sure was going to miss the old place.

*          *          *

No sooner had Alice stepped back into the house, surrounded by their lives packed into dozens of cardboard boxes, six suitcases, and four trunks, when she decided that now was not the time to dawdle.  After a brief restroom stop and a glass of water to wash down her medication, she set to work in the small parlor where dozens of small, ceramic figurines stood, row upon row, within the confines of a locked, glass and wood curio cabinet.

She had been very clear about the fact that she was to be the only one to take them down, wrap them, or box them up.  No one else, including her husband, was to touch them.  She unlocked the cabinet, gathered her supplies, and set to work, taking them out one by one, brushing each with a yellow feather duster, rolling it into a layer of plastic bubble-wrap, and placing it, ever so carefully, into its own compartment within the moving box; a box that would come with her in the car and would not be loaded into the moving truck or the tow trailer.

Each figurine contained its own memories:

The grinning clown, holding a colorful swarm of balloons in one white-gloved fist, purchased on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, where she and Henry had taken their honeymoon.

The whistling boy with a fishing rod on one shoulder and a bundle of school books over the other, a 25th birthday present from Henry’s mother, Grace.

The slobbering, diaper-clad baby, holding a rattle and grinning a one-toothed grin, a gift from The Connors to commemorate Lyle’s birth.

The winged angel with a golden halo, a house-warming present from her Cousin Martha to celebrate the acquisition of this very house.

As she dusted the angel, wrapped it, and placed it in the box with the others, she found herself struggling to hold back tears.  The thought of leaving this place and leaving everything and everyone she knew behind suddenly became too much.  She looked around to make sure Henry wasn’t lurking anywhere about and then she let the tears come, allowing herself to weep for a good minute before she drew out a clean, white handkerchief and expertly removed her tears without so much as smearing her make-up. No sooner had she started back on task, when she heard the front door open and close.  Followed by Henry’s familiar footsteps on the hard-wood floor.

“Alice?” he called, his voice echoing eerily through the mostly empty house.

“In here, Henry,” she called back.

*     *     *

The next day, Saturday, Teddy Sheldon and his Merry Movers pulled into the Detmore’s driveway at 8 A.M. on the dot.  One solid business policy that Teddy stood by was, “If we’re late, we’ll move you for free.”  And Teddy made sure his Merry Movers were never, ever late.

Henry and Alice were already up, packed, and ready well before the truck ever pulled in.  As a matter of fact, neither one had slept much at all that night as the laundry list of things that needed done, and details that needed to be remembered, seemed to grow longer and more daunting with each passing hour.

The throaty whisper of the box truck’s diesel engine and the steady pulse of the backup alarm cut through the chilly, early morning, autumn air.  Henry watched from inside as the large vehicle drifted to a stop with a hiss of air brakes, not ten feet from the bottom of the porch steps.  The cab doors swung open and six burly men bubbled out, their breath forming clouds of white mist in the air around their heads.

Teddy Sheldon, at an impressive six feet, four inches, climbed down from behind the steering wheel and came to the front door with a clipboard in his hand.  Henry opened the door just as he was reaching for the doorbell.

“Hey, Ted,” Henry greeted.  “Come on in.”

“Morning, Henry,” The big man replied.  Wiping his boots on the doormat, he stepped in, and Henry offered his right hand.  Ted removed one work glove and accepted it, shaking with a firm grip.  “Are you and Mrs. Detmore all set?”

“You bet,” Henry said, closing the door.  Ted flipped the clipboard around and handed it to Henry.  It held several sheets of paper with the Merry Movers’ letterhead printed at the top.  Each sheet contained a numbered list of Henry and Alice’s belongings,

“This is an invoice of everything we’re packing into the truck and bringing with us,” Teddy said, running one wide, calloused finger down the edge of the first page.  “If you could look it over, make sure everything’s on there, and sign at the bottom of the last page, I’ll put the guys to work.”

Henry quickly skimmed each page.

“I saw a tow trailer parked out front,” Ted added.  “You need help loading anything into that?”

“If you could,” Henry replied.  “We have four trunks and some luggage.  Alice travels like the Queen of Sheba.”

“I heard you there,” Teddy agreed, and the two men shared a laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Alice asked briskly from the top of the stairs.  She was dressed in her gray pantsuit, cut so that it hugged her figure quite nicely and the blouse buttoned all the way to the collar.  A stylish lavender hat, pinned in place no doubt, sat askew atop her head.

“Nothing, dear,” Henry replied sheepishly.

“Mrs. Detmore,” Teddy greeted with a slight nod.

“Mr. Sheldon, see that nothing gets a scratch.  There’s still a curio cabinet that needs prepared for the move in the small parlor.” Alice ordered.

Satisfied with what he read, Henry took the attached pen, noted the items to be loaded onto the tow trailer, and signed the bottom of the last page with a flourish.

“Not a scratch.  Yes, ma’am.  I guarantee it.  We’ll crate and wrap the curio before it goes on the truck.” Teddy assured before he reclaimed the clipboard, signed his own name under the customer’s, tore off the pink copy and handed it to Henry.  Then, stepping back outside, Ted signaled his guys with a piercing whistle.  And the men of the Merry Movers went to work like a well-oiled machine, making the trunks and luggage a priority.

No sooner had Henry backed the Buick onto the trailer hitch, then the men had the items in and set to go.  They even double-checked the trailer’s connection to make sure it was secure. By the time the box containing Alice’s ceramic figurines was secured onto the Buick’s back seat under her specific supervision and she was in the car with her seatbelt fastened, Henry was already behind the wheel with the engine warmed up, the heater on full, the interior nice and toasty, and the windows clear of autumn frost.

Ted knocked gently on the driver’s side window and Henry hit the button to lower it.

“Okay, Henry,” the man said, leaning down to the open window.  “Just to confirm, we are taking these items to 2141 Revere Lane in Danbury, Connecticut.”

“Right,” Henry agreed.  “The best way to get there is to take…”

“I already have it programmed into the GPS.  We’ll find you easily enough.”

“GPS,” Alice scoffed quietly from the passenger seat.

“Alright,” Henry said.  “We’ll see you this afternoon then.”

“Count on it,” Teddy replied confidently.

Henry closed the window and took one last, long look at the old homestead.  He looked over at Alice, who was busy pretending to adjust the knot on her scarf.  He reached over and touched her shoulder.

Let’s go, Henry,” She growled without looking at him.  “Let’s go before I change my mind.”

Henry drove to the end of the driveway, pulled out into the street, and pointed the car toward Connecticut.

end of chapter one

 

Well, there it is. We all hope you enjoy it thoroughly and it entices you to want to read more.

I bid everyone a wonderful weekend, prayers to all who need it, and happy reading.

A major decision has been made

Greetings, readers. I have thought about my writing career long and hard, and have asked myself what are my options. Money to continue paying Rebecca is dwindling, though she earns every penny of what she gets, and the blog itself is not set up to make money for me. The book, Greetings, Readers, sold a hand-full of copies since 2013, so a book 2 of blog entries is not even an option. Between low funds, battling depression, and years upon years of seizure medication (and seizures) I’m coming to the conclusion that I don’t have the right stuff to be a writer any more. Maybe I never did and getting those first two camp books out were just because of my passion for Bear Spring Camps and all my friends who go there.

I’m seriously considering shutting down writing operations at the end of the year. Unfortunately, this would also include the blog. I am leaning towards keeping it open for everyone to enjoy with the occasional new entry. I might reconsider my plan, but that is how it looks now.

Rebecca and I were discussing earlier this morning an idea I had for a GoFundMe page. I need $$$ to find and pay a publicist who can push Four’s a Crowd. I worked too hard on Kimberly, the play on which it is based, and Darren Taylor worked too hard on the novel for it to just wither and die. Rebecca also put in extensive hours on both projects, and it would be a crime for her work to be for naught. If we could find a publicist and get Four’s a Crowd off the ground, that would re-energize my desire to be a writer.

***

Well, here it is a half hour later and we’ve had our weekly meeting with my accountant. I don’t like being interrupted when we are writing the blog, because it gets me out of rhythm, but sometimes it can’t be helped. The meeting went extremely well and the idea I had to help promote Four’s a Crowd has been approved. The next step is for Rebecca and I to research publicists and take notes. That will be done next Wednesday. I will probably dictate a blog entry and have it ready for us to edit and post early so we have extra time to do our research.

Continued prayers go out to the flood victims and their families in the Carolinas and wherever flooding hit. I’ve heard that Wilmington, North Carolina is now an island. There is not one road that is passable by car as of late yesterday.

Like last Thursday, I have something to do tomorrow, so I’ll dictate a blog in the morning and Rebecca will edit and put it up no later than tomorrow evening.

Please do take care, have a wonderful day, take care of one another, and as always, happy reading.

Brand new business cards were just ordered and other topics

Greetings, readers. I’m very happy to announce that for a really reasonable price I have designed and ordered brand new business cards exclusively for the novel Four’s a Crowd. I think they look really sharp and will be here by the 24th. I will be able to do some scouting around to see who wants one. We have the pertinent information on the front and a little blurb about the book on the back. I think it is just enough to get people interested. The book is for sale right now at Amazon.com for $14.99.

This is one of my first attempts to try to stir the pot for this new book. I’m sure I’ll come up with other ideas as well. Darren is doing his part in spreading the word as he can when he and Rebecca are shopping or doing other errands. My motto is, every person you tell, could tell another person and the ball could get rolling that way. It is said that word of mouth is the best way to advertise.

There is a book fair at our local arts festival this weekend. Depending on hot it is outside, I might get to the book fair. I’m not one to stand out in the heat too long. I do plan on offering the library a copy or two for their collection. I forget whether they have a local author’s section, but if so that is where it would go. I cannot say enough about this book and how pleased I am on how it turned out. Darren’s work enhanced my story and made the novel complete, while retaining the true essence of my play, Kimberly.

On to something different, I found out yesterday, after the blog entry was posted, that the TV show LA to Vegas has been cancelled. Boo-hoo. Granted it was not the best show in the world, but if you wanted 22 minutes of a good laugh, it did nicely. I guess I’m going to have to find another show to watch, for I don’t think that On Demand keeps cancelled shows on for very long.

Speaking of TV shows, I’ve also been watching Gotham and the reincarnation of the The X-Files. Until the end of September, all seasons are On Demand. I used to watch The X-Files re-runs years ago and was really into it, and then as usual other shows came along. I ended my viewing evening with a couple of episodes of 9-1-1. I found out something extremely interesting during one of the episodes. A dumb-butt guy pilot dude thought it would be romantic to propose to his girl-friend by faking an on-plane emergency while having her read the handbook. Half-way through she got to the proposal part and went into what looked like a heart attack. When they got on the ground and paramedics arrived, it just so happened that said character was taking a medication that I am on, that causes heart palpitations, which I had. How cool is that? I am going to re-watch that episode, write down the name of that drug, and if I am still on it, get off it if at all possible.

Okay, there is my all over the place blog entry today. I enjoy writing these multi-topic blog entries now and then. I’m still trying to come up with a good idea for a top ten list, which I promise will be before I go to camp. Until next Wednesday, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Getting Four’s a Crowd ready for publication

As Joe wrote yesterday, he is using a personal day today, and I am doing the blog post. Regular readers know that my husband Darren adapted Joe’s play Kimberly into a novel, Four’s a Crowd. They have been working on it for over four years now, and it is finally close to being published.

Darren and Joe are going through the second proof now, making the final changes. When they are done, probably in the next week or two, we will submit the updated file to CreateSpace and then the book will be available to the public. It is so exciting to be this close.

We have all three put so much work into this book. Joe created four unique characters in his play, and with his feedback Darren expanded them and their world in a novel. I gave advice and edited as best I could, and, plugged everything into CreateSpace’s formatted template. My main correction for the second proof has been to fix indent markers on two chapters that didn’t get done the first time I tackled that problem. Technology grrr. It looks like I got that problem fixed now.

CreateSpace will automatically put the published book on Amazon for us, and we have high hopes for selling it, but we aren’t sure yet how to reach people other than our friends and family to see and buy the novel. Joe and Darren have worked so hard on it, and written a great story of a family overcoming personality conflicts and challenges from aging to find unity. It would be so disappointing if it didn’t sell. I guess the only way to find out is to go forward, do our best, and hope.

Watch this space for updates, and our big announcement once we do publish Four’s a Crowd. I can hardly wait.

My summer off is busier than expected so far

Greetings, readers. So far, in this early summer off, about the only thing that has kept to plan is me resting my feet. I wanted to have about 100 pages written by now. Lol, there’s a chuckle for ya. Between appointments and daily errands, my first two weeks off have flown right by with not much getting done.

It’s making me angry. I so wanted to have a schedule in place to write, write, write. It seems though that every time I get ready, I either receive a phone call, text, or am reminded of an upcoming appointment that day. There is a small part of me that wants to hang a sign on the apartment door reading Don’t Bother Me Until September. Of course, I can’t do that; I can’t be that anti-social.

This morning as I was trying to wake up, I checked my Facebook, email, and Twitter and then discovered the computer was running slowly. A page popped up in big red letters claiming I had a virus. It was probably a scam, but I stopped what I was doing and ran my virus checker anyway. There went 20 minutes. Luckily, all seems to be fine.

Today is kind of an odd day. After work hours with Rebecca, my accountant and I have a meeting to go to, which could take the better part of the afternoon. Do you see my problem with productivity, readers?

On to other news, I heard that the Hawaii volcano is erupting again. I don’t know how serious it is but hopefully everyone will be alright. I saw pictures last week of the devastation with homes and cars ablaze. Let’s face it, when you live on an island, you really don’t have anywhere to run. Also this morning I saw a blurb about a minor earthquake during a major league baseball game. It didn’t mention anything about deaths, so it was probably a minor quake. Again, hopefully everyone is okay.

An R.I.P. goes out to a great actress, Margot Kidder, who passed away at age 69. She was far too young, if you ask me. She played Lois Lane in the movies with Christopher Reeve as Superman.

Lastly, Rebecca’s husband Darren’s book, Four’s a Crowd, which is based on my play Kimberly, is almost ready to publish. We will go live for sale in a week or two on CreateSpace.com, and then it will be available on Amazon. Darren has worked hard on it, and I worked hard on the play. We are both very proud of the final outcome and we think it is going to be a winner. Hopefully it puts us on the writing map. Keep your fingers crossed.

There is our entry for today. Rebecca and I will be back tomorrow with a new blog entry, possibly another short story. I won’t say for certain. I’m trying to get out of the habit of promising things I don’t deliver. So until then, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Hi, having a quiet day

Greetings, Joe’s readers. I am having a low-key day, hanging around with my husband Darren, doing some apartment cleaning later, some book work, an hour or so of playing a board game later with Darren, and waiting to hear an update from Joe. He has a doctor’s appointment this afternoon about his heart, and hopefully he will find out what is going on with it soon, without needing more tests first. If I may speak on his behalf, knowing Joe, he will probably let you know any definite news the week after he gets it. Good luck, Joe.

Darren, Joe, and I have been working on Darren’s novel Four’s a Crowd based on Joe’s play Kimberly for the last half decade. We’ll make progress on it for a while, then it will stall, then we will pick it up again, and so on. Right now I am doing work on it before we send it for the second proof. We all wanted the book to be ready to publish by now, but it stalled on my watch. I picked it up again, then ran into problems that took a bit to figure out. The other day, I was sitting here frustrated because the formatted software I was working with did something that I needed to undo and didn’t know how yet. UGH! Darren listened to me groan and moan for a while and then said it wasn’t worth it, maybe bag the whole thing. No, I can get this, don’t give up on it when we are so close. I think I have everything figured out for the moment. I need to change a bunch of tabs by moving the margin line, update the chapter page number index, and add the front cover attribution, then it should be ready for the second and hopefully last proof. So close to publishing it!

In other news, I need a new coffee maker. My late mother gave me the one I have now, almost fourteen years ago when Darren and I moved into our apartment. I use it once a day, don’t let it stay on past half an hour, and vinegar is regularly, so it has held up a long time. But it needs to be cleaned with vinegar every month now instead of every six months, steams a lot more when brewing, and it takes twenty minutes to make four cups. I don’t like change and I don’t want to lose something my mother gave me, but every time it makes a series of loud hissing sounds like it is demonic or a giant angry cat, I know the coffee maker is on its last legs and I need to replace it. I’m bummed, but I know that I will get used to the new coffee maker. I usually come around in the end when things change.

Not much else to say today. I had a few topics I thought about writing about, but I couldn’t get any to gel and develop enough for a blog entry. I will say I was really impressed by last Saturday’s (3/24/18) March for Our Lives, the rally in Washington D.C. for gun reform laws, and the other rallies across the country that joined in. There is a lot to despair in the world these days, but seeing the youngest generation be so strong, focused, and vocal about a shared goal gave me a lot of hope for the future.

Joe will be back next Wednesday, and probably Thursday as well. Until then, as he would say, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Getting into someone else’s head is difficult

Greetings, readers. The last couple of mornings I have been working on my writing projects and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be writing again. One of my projects is based on a TV series from the 1970s. Those characters I know quite well; what they would say, what they wouldn’t say, how they would act, etc.

My main project, however, has characters that are pretty much blank slates. The female lead character is based on someone I met in a chat room many many years ago. She sent me her picture but that is literally all I have to go on, the rest of her character will be constructed by me. I’ve never tried to get into a female character’s head before. You might say I wrote my play Kimberly, and this is true. But I knew the person I based her on. The whole first draft was basically a carbon copy of a friend from high school. This new project’s female lead has a name and a face. That’s it. I get to decide how tall she is, whether or not she smokes, what her habits are, and how provocative she is. In a way, I have to become this character during writing hours. I was working with this project this morning and I could feel myself begin to think like her and thought to myself, now we are in business. I know I am going to have fun with it.

It’s been years since I have put signs on my front door saying Do not disturb, I’m writing, and I even get angry if I am writing and it is time to go to work. To me those are good signs. If I can go to some cabin near a lake … magically with internet included for research … I would do it and I could probably pump out a great play or film script. I just need to be left alone for a few months. Unfortunately I am not independently wealthy, and besides that is not how the real world works. Moreover, I like my real world job.

I got a sobering dash of reality a few moments ago. Rebecca and I were on the CreateSpace website trying to send an email to get a question answered. As we were going through the automated set-up system, a huge list dropped down with not only my three books for sale but all the stalled, dead, abandoned projects I’ve tried to do since latching on to CreateSpace. Seeing that list made me feel like a failure for a moment. Don’t worry, I’ll bounce back soon. As a matter of fact, now that I know where that list is, I might even go back, choose one of those dead projects, and resurrect it. You never know.

The idea I had for tomorrow’s blog has been put on the back burner, for it requires research and development. It deals with this past Super Bowl. I think you will find it most interesting. I just found out moments ago that I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. So yet again, Rebecca will get the day off and post the entry from home. We will see you right here next Wednesday. Keep those comments coming, enjoy, take care, and as always, happy reading.

I am sick and tired of life

Greetings, readers. I have felt very strange over the last couple of months and until recently I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was bothering me. Well, the picture is becoming a little bit clearer now that the fog has lifted, and I don’t like what I see.

My desire to write is at its highest point in two years. When I say to write, I obviously mean work other than the blog. My problem now is that I have no time or energy from working at the fast food job to do said writing. I am 52 years old and I feel like my life is a waste.

On the positive side of the job,  I am an extremely outgoing person at my cash register, and my regulars love me. I do get a lot of enjoyment and self-esteem from this work. I feel, however, that I must give serious contemplation to either quitting or, at the very least, taking a few months off.

This winter has been brutally cold and walking to and from busses to go to work has already become a hated chore.  I get up at 4:00 in the morning to check Facebook, have some coffee, and listen to music before I have to get ready to go. I blink twice, and it’s 8:10. There goes that morning. I come home from work, dreadfully tired, with feet aching, I put a little food in me, watch an episode or two of something, and usually have lights out by 9:30.

On my three days off from my fast food job, I write with Rebecca for roughly three hours, and I must also do all the chores that need to get done and I had no other time to do, such as appointments, laundry, shopping, etc. When in the hell do I have time to sit down and write? Some might say at 4:00 in the morning. Ah, no, my functioning brain is barely active at that time. In the evening? I’ve actually caught myself falling asleep during my TV shows. Again, the brain is not in creative mode. You can see why I’m depressed.

Do my therapy sessions help? Yes they do, for a short time, but then I begin to look at my life in general and I come to the conclusion that I have wasted most of it. Three quarters gone and only a quarter to go. I have three books to my name, which if you put all three together, don’t equal the pages of Darren’s novel adapted from my play. I would have to say, Dear Readers, that my biggest accomplishment has been this blog, and that is primarily thanks to the help of Rebecca’s typing and editing skills.

Now, don’t worry folks, even though this entry is full of red flags, I am a fighter and a survivor and will do whatever I need to do to get this situation under control. Tomorrow, I’ve cleared the docket to read and edit Four’s a Crowd, either in the morning or, if I have Rebecca come in, after she leaves. I always try to leave each entry on a bright note, and here it is. I ordered speech recognition software for the computer. Once it comes in and I master that, I won’t have to type anymore. That could solve many problems quickly. Cross thy fingers.

Until next time, stay warm, have a great day, have a cup of coffee or hot cocoa for me, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Editing Four’s a Crowd from proofs

Greetings, Joe’s readers. Joe, my husband Darren, and I are doing the unusual practice of doing heavy edits in the proof copies of Four’s a Crowd. Usually this would be done before the proofreading work, but we got blocked and needed a way to push forward. As regular readers know, Joe wrote a play, Kimberly, which four years ago Darren began adapting into the novel Four’s a Crowd. Darren and Joe would get together every few months and touch base with what Darren was doing with Joe’s characters and plotlines to expand them, and make notes on moving forward.

Darren finished writing the first couple of drafts, then we printed off copies so that the three of us could do edits. We did a couple of rounds of that, in starts and stops, and then sometime in the last year the progress just got stuck. As the three of us worked at different stages, we would think that one of us was doing something with the book, only to find out that the person thought that someone else was doing something, so all three of us would be in waiting patterns. And then nothing moved forward on the project for many months and Darren gave up.

Someone, I think it was me, suggested we just jump to the next step, which was getting proofs, and edit from there. Which we did, and the project is moving rapidly now. We are using the print-on-demand publisher CreateSpace for the novel. Joe had a good experience with them when he published his three books, Picking Up Where We Left Off: My Bear Spring Camps Stories, Beyond North Bay & Beyond: More Bear Spring Camps Stories, and Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger. I downloaded the CreateSpace formatted templet, and started plugging in the content. We had to wait a couple of days for the review, but then we were ready to order proof copies.

For Darren, this was the first time he held a bound book with his name on it as author, and he was pleased. The book is thicker than we imagined, and has a heft to it. We are all really proud of it. We will be changing the front cover photo, we still need to put in author photos, and make a few more cosmetic changes, but it is already an impressive achievement.

We got four of copies for editing, one for Darren, one for Joe, one for me, and one for Darren’s mother who agreed to read it and give us feedback. Darren’s mom read the book in two days and loved it. She pointed out a few things to change that helped a lot. I was going to say that Darren finished his editing yesterday, except he is sitting on the sofa right now with a pencil in his teeth and the book in his hands making more changes. Joe plans to do some editing with his copy today, while he also rests from a very busy week. I am on page number 232 out of 300 in my copy, so I don’t have much left.

Except for Joe who is using a sheet of paper, we are making our changes and suggestions right in the book with pencils. I am not sure why, but it is so satisfying to write directly in the book. The novel feels so much different in bound form than in loose sheets of typing paper, and editing in that form feels different too. Darren has already put his mother’s changes in his copy, then when I am done he will put my edits in his book too. In early January, Darren and Joe will have a meeting to go over Joe’s changes and put those in Darren’s copy too.

Then we put the edits in the manuscript computer file, upload the book to CreateSpace again, get another proof (which should read a lot smoother and faster), edit and change and upload again, and when we are ready, we will hit the publish button. And then Darren and Joe’s book will be out in the world ready to buy, hopefully by the end of March 2018. We will keep you posted.

Joe will be back next week with a new blog entry. Until then, as he would write, take care, have a great week, and happy reading