#UpbeatAuthors: Saying Good Morning

My husband has a pet peeve. If someone can’t be bothered to say, “Good morning,” or otherwise acknowledge you–even a “Hi!” will do–he thinks poorly of that person. If someone always greeted him, he maintains a good impression of that person.

I always try to say good morning to the people with whom I work. I also try to say, “Have a nice night,” when I’m leaving.

Being friendly doesn’t take a lot of effort.

My Stupidest Injury

A few months ago, someone on Facebook asked, “What was your stupidest self-inflicted injury?”

I didn’t even need to think about it.

When I was three or four, I had my three pet toads (1 big one, 2 little ones) in one of those big, barrel-shaped pickle jars. My dad had helped me poke holes in the lid with a hammer and nail.

It was a Sunday. After church. We were getting ready to sit down for dinner, when my mother very unreasonably declared my toads could not be at the kitchen table with us. In fact, they didn’t belong in the kitchen. I was to take them to the back porch.

The cinderblock chimney was right there. I thrust down the jar of toads. The glass shattered. My toads were getting away! I started crying. I wanted my toads. My mother started yelling. I looked down. Oops. There was a huge bleeding gap on my left knee. I don’t remember pain. I remember my toads escaping.

My dad drove me back to town. Someone must have called Dr. Opalot, because he was in his office, waiting for us, on a Sunday afternoon. He must have numbed my knee before he started stitching, but I don’t remember. What I remember about that is it tickled. Turns out I have ridiculously ticklish knee caps. I kept twitching my leg, and the doctor would tell me to be still. “But it tickles!” I said. He laughed. He told me that was the first time anyone had ever told him getting sewn up tickled.

It took five stitches in my 3 or 4 year old knee to close the gash. I carry the scar to this day.

If only my mom hadn’t been so unreasonable about toads at the dinner table.

#UpbeatAuthors: Friendliness

This month’s #UpbeatAuthors theme is FRIENDLINESS.

When I think of friendliness, I think about the first time I walked into a CNYRW meeting. I “knew” one person, the president, because we’d been on an Internet group together. This was before email groups and the massive use of the Internet by RWA and its chapters. The president and I had spoken on the phone when I reached out to the chapter. Beyond that . . . I was a stranger in a strange land.

You have to understand. For an introvert, walking into a room full of the unknown is a huge step.

That was 20 years ago. Twenty years since I found my tribe. Twenty years since I made the friends who have seen me through the ups and downs of not only my writing life, but also some personal situations.

The chapter welcomed me.  Without that initial friendliness, I might not have stayed. The friendliness kept me there.


What’s in a Name?

I have all kinds of baby name books. I’ve always been fascinated by names. Even in elementary school, I would take name books out of the school library. There were a few pages of names in the back of my parents dictionary. They were in tatters because I studied the names so often. Even now, with the Internet and the great Social Security website for names, I still like to peruse books.

I just finished writing a book in which the heroine had two different names before I decided on a third.  Once I  had that name, the rest of the story flowed. I know several authors who have experienced the same phenomenon: until the character’s name is right, the writing goes poorly.

I knew I’d always have a difficult time naming my children, especially when my husband and I have such different tastes in names. If our second child had been a boy, I doubt very much he would have a name even now. Fortunately, she wasn’t.

When I was bearing children, we didn’t know the sex of the baby until it was born. ( I knew them, because of my dreams, but that’s another blog post.) We settled on a girl’s name almost immediately (and used it a couple of years later when our daughter was born–except we did give her a different  middle name). Agreeing on a boy’s name was challenge.  We had a list of criteria: the naming traditions of my husband’s culture; no names with multiple spellings (something that has haunted both my husband and me throughout our lives); Biblical names, but not one of the weird ones; not too popular, but not unique; names our children could use in the boardroom or on stage or on the spine of a book; something traditional.

My husband and I leafed through baby name books in stores. There was one that said the name Woody was the past tense of the name Willy. I cried. I also cried when I realized that if we had a son, no one would call him by is first name because our surname was  so easily converted to a guy nickname. My husband assured me only once did someone do that to him.

At the time I was pregnant, big corporations were purchasing naming rights to everything from massive sports complexes to Little League fields. My husband and I decided to name our baby, if it was a boy, after a college in exchange for an education. How would we approach these institutions of higher learning with our generous offer? My tears turned to giggles as we contemplated the names Canisius,  Cornell, and Colgate.

We finally settled on a good name: his grandfather’s name. We used my great-grandfather’s name for the middle name. Strong names. Manly names. Everything we wanted for our son.




#UpbeatAuthors: A Movie About Perseverance

One of my favorite movies of all time is Galaxy QuestI loved the original Star Trek series, so a movie spoofing the show is a sheer delight.

Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and the incomparable Alan Rickman head an amazing cast. In a nutshell, the movie is about an TV program that has been off the air for a while, but which has a huge, obsessed fanbase. Tim Allen plays Jason Nesmith, who played Commander Taggart on the TV show, a Captain Kirk knock-off. The problem is the TV show is bouncing around in outer space (along with every other TV show) and one alien culture believes they are “historical documents.” And so the fun begins.

The script is filled with delightfully quotable quips.

Nothing is sacred: the actors, the scripts, the fans who attend conventions.

Why am I writing about a 19-year-old movie? Because the motto of the character played by Tim Allen’s character is “Never give up! Never surrender!”

It’s all about perseverance.