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Crisis of Conscience


Well, I am NOT in the mood to be subtle, so I guess I just better hope this is not read by any detectives.

You know that story about the wisdom of King Solomon? The two women were fighting over who had the rights to the baby, so King Solomon said, “How ’bout we just slice the baby in half ?” So the person that really loves the baby says, “Don’t cut the baby in half.  She can have it.”  And King Solomon says, “Well, you love the baby more so you can have it.”

So this is like a moral dilemma. Suppose a group of people are banding together to slice up your heart and your soul.  Would you play dirty pool just cuz they choose to?  Should you drag out the big guns?  If you knew the name of the grade school teacher that writes erotica on the side, would you reveal that?  Would you threaten to?  Would that be blackmail?  Even if you felt it was totally justified to survive their onslaught, to save yourself?  To save all that was important to you?  Stuff that is meaningless to them.  They are just doing it for spite.  Would you threaten to tell the guy that hides his marijuana stash in your garage to keep his wife from knowing that she will learn about it if he doesn’t back down, if he doesn’t take a different tack?  Would you talk it up in all the right social circles about the engaged couple that are seeing a urologist to get the husband-to-be wired up with a penis pump?  If you heard all these things with no warnings or stipulations, is it fair game?  If they go ahead and continue to attack you, when you know and they know you are undeserving of it, should you just reveal all?  Should you warn them of what may be in store?  Should you sit like a little mouse with your Christian conscience and let them ride rough shod over you?  My Christian conscience tells me to be a swell guy and keep all the dirty little secrets and hope Karma sorts it out.  (Yeah.  I know the Karma thing doesn’t meld with the Christian conscience, but it is my mind, so get over that.)  But the subject of my quandary is far too precious to gamble with.

These are real issues that the midwestern grandmother faces daily.  Someone made a remark about one of my novels.  “Enjoyable read, but I don’t know if it would play out in real life.”  Wanna bet?  Does each and every Mr. or Mrs. Tom, Dick and Harry America have this shit raining down on them all the time?  Or is it just me?  Maybe it is my own misperception.  But I do have court documents bearing out this tale of woe and disconsternation.

Weigh in.  I am actually thinking of taking steps to erase the problem completely.  I discussed with someone just today what would be the outcome of my court ordered mental eval.  Would I live out the few short days left to me in a prison or in a mental ward?  Would it matter?  Actually, not at all to me if it served to preserve some of the things  that I find the most precious meaning in after all other considerations. 

Strange how looking down the barrel of a gun can distract you from all the other weapons aimed at you.

Image Attribution:   asitoughttobe.com



I write stuff that can be seen by the public.  This has its risks and rewards.  I don’t care too much about either of those things.  But I am noticing a trend.  Maybe I am just waking up from a long sleep or finally surrendering my ancient cloak of denial.  But I am noticing things about love.  

First of all, I am tired of people using the word carelessly.  “I love that new shade of orchid paint.”  “I love men with beards.”  “I love you”.  This word is so necessary.  But so over used.  Maybe that is a good thing. And what are my choices?   “The way you look tonight gives me an abundance of positive feelings.”  “I feel so many different positive emotions about my new grand child, I cannot begin to put it into words.”  To the rescue:  “I love her.”

I frequent a popular website that deals with Romance Novels.  There are several very popular ones.  Romance novels, I believe, account for about 65% of all books sold.  Any –tech, fiction, whatever.  They tell you on this site about conventions to go to.  They have interviews, do reviews, do guest posts, have a very dynamic comment section. (Used to be way more dynamic and fun, but they messed with the format and it is not so much fun anymore.) They talk about who is having a special sale and even get into the on going war between trad and e publishing. Kind of.  Anyway. . .

Today I read a review about a “romance” novel that is considered an “erotic” romance novel.  There are guidelines.  A “Romance” must have the HEA, the Happily Ever After. It is required. Any story can have lots of sex.  My understanding is that a novel uses sex as a plot device  to drive the story. With pure Erotica, the point is titillation and not story telling.  So right away, I am confused.  Well, one person stated that in an erotic romance it starts out with “instalust” and then they fall in real love and it becomes a romance novel complete with the required Happily Ever After. So this book they discussed today, they had instalust and the guy knew right away she wanted to be dominated.  (A big tee hee goes out to all you males out there.  Any of you that thinks your initial impression of a female is the correct one is just clueless or six.)  So during the course of this initial meeting they are teasing about this huge sexual dynamic they are aware of and he says  (I did not read the book, just the review, and the author of the review did not want to put this in the review. You could tell she finally has to to make her point)   “You’re gonna blow me.” 

Basically, a guy she just met is telling her he is going to put his dick in her mouth. Seriously?  Maybe they had a chuckle over that, but, to me, that is not romantic or seductive.  It’s not even polite. And they get around to that, add in a few surprise orgasms, sexual intensity that causes blackouts, falling in love and living happily ever after.  I’ll give them six months.

There is a YA book that is very popular right now and it is being recommended on school reading lists. Some schools are in a real tizzy over whether it should be on a recommended list.  It’s a about a girl who kind of doesn’t fit in but has this guy pal who is popular, sexually experienced, etc.  So for some reason, (I did not read the book)  they are in a situation together and he gets aroused by her but they don’t have time to have actual sexual intercourse, so he says, (I am apologizing for this. Call me a wimp.)  “Suck me off.”  Apparently, and this is NOT where I got the first clue about this, oral sex has less meaning than a smoochie nowadays. 

Then, the story I have told before, the researcher in the Bayous finding subjects for some sexual thesis of  his design, talking to an older woman, and she says, “I don’t know what is the big deal about sex.  It’s just a squirt in the dark.”

Then we go over to Cafe’ Mom where someone confesses she had sex with a married man and thirty people get all over her, calling her a whore amongst other things.  Have they never watched Jerry Springer? 

What is the deal that “getting off” is this inconsequential thing that takes no advance thought or planning, mono-, homo- hetero, whatever, but then it is the thing that brings down kingdoms?  Where is the context for that?  Why is the morality of who you exchange intimacy and fluids with so undefined and actually nebulous sometimes and then becomes so powerful a tool that rulers of countries gladly surrender all their power for that next squirt?

Man, you got me here.  I’ve been around the block, seen both sides of the coin, walked the walk, talked the talk, taken the A train, gone through it, caused it, felt it, done it, used it, hated it, faked it, needed it, whatever.  I am completely unable, even couching it in the most vague terms possible to put any of this into any sort of context.  It is just fuel, the words, the acts, the thoughts, fuel to keep the train of life running.  Yeah, birds, amoebae, caterpillars, kings, walruses, gas, diesel, hydrogen, kerosene, coal, steam, whatever.  Just keep that thing called “life” chugging along.   ‘Til it stops.

Let’s Talk About Covers

One of the things some people insist on is that, if you are self-published, you must at least spend some money on a good cover.  I won’t.  I bought a Getty Image early on and it pixelated.  I spend a lot of time talking to customer service about it and discussing it with various other humans.  Everyone had a reason, but then I see that very picture I used in some blog or Pin or something I wrote and there it is HUGE.  Huge and unpixelated.  So now, I do screen shots, copy image, mess around with that photo manipulation program that I bought (which is not PhotoShop but has a smudging tool, which is really all you need), incorporate, and yeah, steal.  I DO, honestly, make every attempt possible to attribute.  That is just the way I am.  And the one picture I out and outright snitched is not in use by me any more.  So you can unknot your skivvies.  There are two covers on Barnes and Noble for my work that SUCK.  This is because of size requirements and impatience.  I shall, when I am in the right mood, put beautiful corrected covers up, but it apparently doesn’t make much difference since I sell more on Barnes and Noble than anywhere else.  (Which really doesn’t say much.)

So, first of all, the size requirement thing is so much baloney since I have seen with my own eyes that anything can be manipulated into any other thing.  How many times have you looked at a pin on Pinterest that was all blurry, and you wait a few seconds for it to resolve, and it doesn’t?  Me — more than once.  And another time there will be a long list of tiny photos that someone pinned, like the cats at war, and you enlarge one of those tiny thumbnail photos and you can read the number on the cat’s rabies tag. 

And secondly, there is a thing about originality.  Despite the fact that some big selling authors leave all the cover design and stuff like that to the publisher, probably thinking  the publisher should do that since he gets $7.00 for every book sold and the author gets $1.17, still, you will find an amusing and well-written piece on that delightful site Smart Bitches, showing that several different, very big selling romance novels have exactly the same cover illustration only it is reversed on one or the dress is a different color on another, or a desert is placed in the background where another has an ocean, or a forest, or a frozen expanse of tundra.  This goes on ALL the time.  And nobody does anything about it, and the huge selling author says, “Sigh.” 

This got me going tonight because I noticed the cover on Steven King’s Joylandand I was pretty sure it is a copy of a vintage pulp fiction work with a title concerning something about red heads being sinners.  I thought I had it posted on my beautiful, extensive, entertaining Redheads board on Pinterest, but I could not find it, so I am not able to provide evidence that the picture was cribbed.  Besides, if Mr. King wanted to use someone else’s photo, he sure would pony up whatever it cost cuz that is just the way he is.  And he was going for that Noir effect and he captured it perfectly.  So, that was just a blip on my horizon, a horizon filled with blips I must explore in order to keep my self from actually typing out the last two chapters of my sensational new novel that is bouncing around, fully developed inside my head.

Thirdly, but not finally there is this:

And this:


The final point I was going to make was about people who paint their own covers or have Auntie Elsie paint an appropriate one for them, but I want them to keep on doing that cuz I am very familiar with self-delusion and am not about to call anyone else out on it.
So when you want to talk about covers, I don’t listen.  If you don’t like my cover and don’t pick up my book to read, well, that’s okay.  They were fun to write.  
Thanks for stopping by.  Yeah.  I am still here. 

The Big Hack



First, I offer you my sincerest apologies.   If whatever hijacked my accounts affected you, I am very sorry.  I see today that many people, including my bank, received a big red warning sign when they got the affected email.  Mine was from my cousin and did not bear a warning so I had no way of knowing it was infected.
I have changed all my passwords and stuff, but today I see that it has even affected some of my twitter contacts.  If you still have trouble, I can only suggest changing your passwords.  My bank suggested opening new email accounts, but that would be a disaster for me.  Not that this hasn’t been so far. 
Please forgive me.  I was naive and careless.  I hope those are forgivable offenses.  

Image attribution:

Everything Makes Me Cry



Just now I feel like I must be doing something right.  At least about one thing.  I think it would be better if I KNEW I was doing something right, but I take a lot of convincing.  But this is good enough to actually outweigh my worries for the moment.
It doesn’t matter it seems.  I think I cry more tears over the good stuff.  



I feel like a fool.  I have always been good at rationalization.  Twice,  in the recent past, I have posted stuff in my feeble attempts at irony or jest and been taken seriously.  In another case, a person misread a facebook quote of mine and went into a well-meaning and correct explanation of the thing I was trying to be sarcastic about.

I do not have a sincere voice.  My real life voice is a joke.  I went to see a doctor about five years after my last appointment.  I said, “Hi, I’m Virginia.”  He said, “Oh, I remember you.   The voice. . .”

My writing voice is intended to be facetious,  but evidence points to the fact that I am a complete failure at that.  Actually, I have heard from three readers that they got the joke in three cases.  Not a good percentage.

So, how am I going to steer this conversation back to rationalization or idealism?  Well,I just clicked on a book title in a blog.  Actually, it was a “website”.  I think.  I am not too sure of the difference, and, no, Jonathan, you don’t need to explain it to me.  The site was The Rumpus.  It is pretty liberal but kind of fun for writers.  It has infuriated me enough that I  have cancelled my subscription to it for years.  I have had wonderful discussions on it.  I found out, much later unfortunately, that one of the people I was arguing with was an author, unknown to me, of some repute. ( I admit I travel in the wrong circles.)  So apparently I read something on or about the Rumpus that caught my attention.  I am not subscribed to it, but am apparently subscribed to comments.  Really, that is all you need anyway, frankly.  It is even a bit too much info.

I linked to this book title which sounded interesting and that led me to two hours of linking trough various connected, in sometimes vague ways, to the book title or author.  And I just stopped it by closing some of the many tabs I had thusly opened.  (I am relishing the fact that I have always wanted to use that word and have never before had the opportunity.  I hope it is a real word.)  (Aren’t my asides annoying?)  And, for a reason God intended, but that has never worked too well on me, a light bulb just went off in my head.

I have gone on and on arguing in favor of certain principles.  I am calling them that because, although they may be philosophies or dogmas or truths or precepts or commandments or ideas, I feel, at the base of their structure, they must be principles.  (I flunked philosophy twice.  I have a former classmate who is a Professor Emeritus in Philosophy at a major University.  I am able to communicate with him.)  (I’ll stop it now.) And, just now, when the light bulb went off, I realized that some of the things I argue the most fervently for, that shall for the most part go unnamed, for which I have published material with tedious documentation, I do not practice, have not practiced, and have no intention of practicing. And I seriously do not think I am a hypocrite. I think I earnestly believe in those principles and, in my own concept of idealism, those principles would be followed to the letter by all of humanity — which, of course, they are not and never will be.  And, in my dotage, I will gladly own up to the fact that a lot of the stuff I have done would not have been any fun if I had not felt like I was defying some moral precept or principle.  And that makes me a sinner and that makes me a Catholic.  And this is not a confession.  This is just a light bulb moment that I have really enjoyed.  And that two hours of linking from a book title has given me a lot more insight to my self than probably the whole rest of my life — a life that has had its share of ups and downs, mostly downs, but has been a great deal of fun and very interesting so far.

Yeah.  My meds have been adjusted.

Photo Attribution:  Google Image


I do not know if I was taught this, or if I realized it through life experience, but it is my belief that you do not hurt people you love.  I know this is simplistic.  We all know very well that we do hurt the ones we love.  (The ones we shouldn’t hurt at all. . .)  And sometimes it is with acute deliberation.  We either need to prove something to ourselves or to another.  It is actually amazing how often, in retrospect, I have consciously done this, and the variety of reasons or rationalizations that I have used.  And then there is the big general question that haunts my every waking and sleeping moment.  “Is this love?”  Followed closely by its red-headed step-child, “What is love?”

A very well-known person who is respected for her advice column and recently had a best selling book got into an on-line controversy about a statement that she made.  Actually, she tried to stay out of the fray and the disagreement was largely among her commentors. A year later it cropped up again.  She is so much younger than I that I blame my general disagreement with her philosophy on the fact that my life experience has been extremely various, and I KNOW better.  I also seldom, if ever, had to do a brief hiatus with heroin to clear my mind in order to come to a decision. She is read by so many that turn to her for help in their moments of confusion, and her advice is always so unilateral.  I feel it is dangerous, and, in fact, when the subject was re-introduced this year, it was someone who started out by saying why they thought her advice was dangerous.

I think we never stop learning and it is not a good idea to think our viewpoint is right for everyone.  I had a conversation with my daughter today and we were both growing increasingly uncomfortable.  Finally I said I thought this was the type of conversation we should have over martinis. It was SO not mother-daughter, but SO chick to chick.  I kind of felt like I should not have said many of the things I said, but, on the other hand, I am glad she knows my viewpoint, and she already knows I am anything but coy.

Nevertheless, when I made the remark about the martinis, she said she wondered if the baby would wake up when we shifted her from one car to another.  We neither of us said, “Ahem.” but it was an “ahem” moment if ever there was one.  Yeah, you DON’T want to know what we were discussing.  Not that the subject has not come up previously in my blogs and fiction, cuz it has.  But a blog, whether it is true or not, I like to believe is anonymous. The thing that we agreed on was that what ever may seem to be the right thing to do at one moment in your life, may in fact later be the wrong choice.  And you can never be sure.  How can you even think you are sure if you are over the age of twenty?  (Under that age, saying you are sure is utterly meaningless, even to yourself.) And you are never going to know until experience shows you whether it is right or wrong.  So, if it is going to hurt someone, for whatever reason, the one thing that I know about love, or even consideration or empathy, is don’t hastily make a decision that will hurt someone.  Circumstances may change for any number of reasons and you may wish you had a do over.  I am betting many of you already know this.  I bet many of you wish you had a do-over for lots of events in your life.  I know I do.  It may be for a marriage, or a break up, or just for picking out what color coat you wanted.  Whatever.  You may not get the do-over, so stop and think.  And, take a freakin’ long time to do it.  If it feels right is NOT a good reason to do something.  Not if love, whatever the heck that is, is involved.  Anywhere.

I do not fear pain.  I have learned a lot from it.  I know it goes away.  But still, there are times when I have a choice about whether or not to inflict pain.  And even though I know it will go away, they will get over it, be better for it, I hope I will choose not to inflict that pain.

But what the heck.  I do.  Don’t I?

Photo Attribution:  Oh, fuck.  That’s my grandma.


I fear criticism. I take even the mildest criticisms very personally and let them hurt and fester way out of proportion to the actual purpose, meaning, or intent.  For instance:  people post book reviews when it is clear they did not read the book.  I don’t understand it.  No matter if it is just stars or the reader of the review sees it for what it is, still it takes down my average.  And why do they do that out of a clear blue sky?  Well, I might as well ask why a random stranger drags his car keys through the paint on a random car.  Some thing is just wrong in the head.  And since there are now more people on the world, we see more of these strange people wreaking their hurt because of the way it makes the inside of their head feel.
I mentioned to someone that I am not a good reviewer.  I don’t like to hurt feelings.  That is all I remember hearing in my childhood.  “Her feelings are hurt.”  I guess it is good they acknowledged I had them even as they blithely rode roughshod over them. If I promised it, I will pick out a good thing about the book and emphasize it and give four rather than five stars.  (There should be about ten stars.  I can never make  a choice.)But on a forum where a person asked for a critique of a preliminary excerpt, I remarked how good they were at telling a story even though I was not the intended audience.  I commented that there were a few minor syntax problems, but I wasn’t there for an edit.  The asker went all postal about how they were an English teacher and how I could shove my syntax errors.  Well, the person did not put it exactly that way.  I put a negative review on Amazon for a book about Jesus that was some preposterous metaphysical theory and was a grammar disaster.  I felt so bad about it I went back and took it down.  The person got to say what they wanted to say, and anyone should get a pat on the back for that, much less having the courage to display it to the whole world.
Then there are the times I have asked specific people about specific matters in relation to one of my books.  When they said something was wrong and I objectively pointed to my research backing up my statements they got all hostile and said a couple of insulting things. This was a person who said nothing about imbalances or inconsistencies in my writing or story or method.  Just facts the person homed in on.  I thanked that person for their brilliant ideas and support and quietly rolled up my rug and folded my tent.  The very best thing anyone said about anything I wrote was “crazy good read” and I cannot get over it.  I always feel like I feel a certain way about something but someone doesn’t get it.  When I am surprised at the way someone reacts to something —  for example, in the face of disaster a person commented to the person experiencing the disaster that God didn’t give you more than you could handle and the person took it negatively and construed that the person was trying to explain to her that God wanted her to have the disaster because otherwise she would not have been able to cope with the outcome.  Like the disasteree had the mind set that the commiseration offerer was saying, “Better the plane crashes carrying the guy you might meet and marry in twenty years cuz you might get a divorce if the plane doesn’t crash.  So here, God says, have a plane crash on me.” So it is like a very brilliant light in the wilderness that I feel someone read my words and got what I was saying.
I write what a learned person said was “third person omniscient”.  Yet I get remarks about my POV changing.  I can just see the person shaking their head over something I wrote and I feel like I wish I could have been there to hold their hand so they could fully enjoy the mastery of my story telling.  Seriously.  Don’t think I am kidding.
I get sad.  A person is blogging on all the steps to publication.  The person put up an excerpt of the finished product.  POV changes?  Yeow.  Run on sentences.  Wrong word used for meaning.  Awful. Commas joining two sentences together when the first part needed a question mark.  I couldn’t stand it.  And the person will get an editor and publish on Harlequin and buy their daughter an Arabian thoroughbred.  I made sixty dollars last month.Have you read any of my excerpts?  Not asking you too.  If you were going to, you would have done so by now.  I put “Sex in the Shower”, a part of one chapter in one book, a true excerpt.  One person said it was beautiful erotica.  Not.  Nice to hear, but it is just kind of a sexy, light hearted event.  One person said they couldn’t enjoy it as anything but a how-to list since I didn’t paint my characters deeply enough for her.  (Excerpt)  Another person said they felt sorry for me if I thought that was racy.  (Well, I talked about him elsewhere.)  Sex in the Shower has had more hits than anything I ever posted and that was it for written remarks  I won’t tell you the site I posted it to cuz I love it and they are cracker jack with commenting and always asking for more.

I just don’t get it.  And I feel very sad that I know I will never get it, never understand the different ways people see things, because I feel like I should.  But I accept my own argument that it is all about me, and let the twisted little suckers go find their own way. That, as far as I am concerned, the way I see things is right, and I accept that is so, even knowing it may be right ONLY for me and as far as the general population is concerned, I am the twisted little sucker wandering in the wilderness.

I know I am doing something right because one of my older books has a spot in an algorithm somewhere and her activities have huge repercussions.  The other books, tiny repercussions.  So I hold on to the hope that this next one will do it.  I am hopeful about this Smashwords series highlighting thing they just invented, and this entire book, which is EXACTLY like all the others, has been written because I have a great title.  Well, we will see.  I am not on the ropes yet.So fie on thee that has read not a single Elizabethan historical romance and dares criticize my little sweeties for hopping in the sack with more than one person in her lifetime. I had my day in the sun, and I intend to blind you with that reflection before I die.Actually, this whole post started out because I had another huge spike in my blog stats and I do not know why.  I so want to know so I can follow through on it, but whatever.  I feel like I am through for the night.
I will generously repost for the day shift, although, I guess for my readers across the sea this is the day shift.Y’all know how much I love you, right?  Cuz I do.  Thanks for stopping by.  Y’all come on back now, real soon.

Illustration attribution: emoticon from colourbox considered by its use on the web as public access.

Story: My Learning Curve


I used to walk my dog every day until he got a little crippled. There was a ferocious Rottweiler around the corner that scared me. He was huge and could clear the fence if he tried. He barked and snarled like he hated us. So I started to carry a knife. Not a handy folding penknife or a lethal looking switch blade. No. Too reasonable. I selected a non-folding small fruit knife with quite an extreme taper. I put it in my pocket. I felt quite safe for several days. Then one day, I leaned down to tie my shoelace and stabbed myself in the thigh. It didn’t bleed very much but did drip a little. It hurt like a son of a bitch. I hobbled home clenching my thigh. Lesson to be learned? None apparently. I had no knife when the fucking blue pit bull tried to swallow Henry.

And further proof that my learning curve is in fact a straight line:  my husband has a food broker pal and Louie, who is sort of retired, helps him at food shows. Lou is a glad hander and Chuck, the broker doesn’t like to speak up. So Lou brings stuff home. This amazing chocolate BRIX is formulated to go with wine. Fuck that. It is damn good chocolate. I am huge on the raunchily named “mouth feel” and this stuff is incredible. It comes in a solid brick. (Get where they are going with that?) and you have to break off a chunk with something like a cheese knife. I usually put it on a saucer. I was feeling lazy and reclining. I had a super sharp paring knife. I didn’t bother with the saucer. I left the chocolate in the cardboard box which was resting on my reclining body at about diaphragm level. I inserted the knife into the chocolate and met resistance. So I poked harder. Yeah. I stabbed myself again. Only a bruise this time. Excess avoirdupois.


Photo Attribution:  www.colourbox.com