Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holding On Tightly

The subject of today's post has been on my mind now for a long time, years in fact. It's one that many of you have already dealt with and if you haven't, then it's on the horizon. It's about our children growing up and leaving home.

I suppose I'm beginning to understand why some folks (I never use that word because I dislike it. A lot.) don't thrill over the idea of Christmas the way I always do. I never understood it before, but it's becoming less of mystery as my babies grow up. This will be our third Christmas without our son. It sucks moose balls. There's just no other way to say it.

Christmas is an entirely different animal when one of your children can't be home to share it.

I refuse to allow this post to become a reflection of pre-menopausal emotions. Partly because I am, in fact, not suffering from that particular affliction. My body and I agreed years ago that I am not doing menopause. I'm just not. It's not mandatory and I refuse to participate in that crap. I don't believe in it, anyway. Back to the point, I don't want this post to be a puddle of shit during what is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, so I won't drag out all my cry-baby thoughts about my children growing up and moving on.

However, I will take this opportunity to tell those of you who are still getting up in the middle of the night with crying babies or have toddlers in your bed, stealing the covers and kicking you in the bladder all night, that it goes fast. Too fast. Before you know it, they can drive and have the car on Friday night while you sit at home trying to remember where you put your social life. Then you remember that for the past sixteen years, your children were your social life. You have to adapt and change.

Its a time of change for all of us. Zak is a man. Grown and gone. Three years in the Navy and making his way in the world. Lauren is a sophomore. She drives herself where she needs to go and is already looking at colleges. I need old lady glasses to read my goddamn iphone and anything else that's not written in letters the size of walnuts. I've also discovered I snore, another sign of Father Time's shitty sense of humor. I have wrinkles that I can't see unless I take out my contacts, so I just don't bother looking in the mirror unless I'm wearing them. (If I can't see them, then they aren't there!) Then there's Doug, but he's been old since I was in high school. He can't hear shit but refuses to do anything about it. Instead of getting a hearing aid, we play the "Huh?" game after EVERY sentence that comes out of my mouth. Sometimes I just move my lips to make him think I'm talking and then refuse to repeat myself. I need entertainment, too.

In spite of these changes, I will never be old. I refuse to do that, just like menopause. I plan to live to be 120 years old. My kids know this plan very well. I will be 120, pushing Zak in his wheelchair - he will be 96. Lauren will be beside us with her walker. She will be 90. Doug probably won't be around, but we'll still make fun of him. While I'm happy to push his wheelchair, Zak will have to change his own diaper. Those days, like so many others, are over.

But we have the memories. Hold on tightly to your babies and relish this Christmas, whatever it brings.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Well that's odd....

Its an odd day no matter how I look at it.

It started with me having to drive my daughter to school; she usually gets picked up by a couple of hoodlums from the neighborhood but they were unable to get her today. When I stumbled to the bathroom to put in my contacts, I found the box empty. I tossed it in the trash and opened the bottom drawer of the cabinet to pull out a new box of contacts.

There weren't any.

The contacts are gone.

Oh my. My vision is 20/225. That means at 25 feet, objects appear to my eyes as if they were 225 feet away. That doesn't make for save driving without some sort of eye correction.

I dug out an old pair of glasses. Not only are they hideously ugly (back in my Coast Guard days, we called glasses such as these "BC glasses"....as in birth control.), they aren't the proper prescription. No matter. I managed to drive the four miles there and back without incident.

It was raining lightly when we left for school and was pouring by the time we got back. That in itself is unusual for our island. It never rains here. It can be raining at the high school but will be perfectly dry and sunny here.

I came home and let out the dogs. They refused to go in the rain. What? Don't dogs love rain? Mine took one look out the front door and went back inside to sleep.

Everything is sticky. Not just sticky, gross and sticky. The humidity level must be maxed. My feet stick to the floor, my clothes feel damp, the dogs' fur feels damp and my fingers are sticking to the keyboard. Even the furniture is damp. I hate to close up the house and turn on the A/C again, because its only 72 degrees, but everything feels so gross.

Back to the oddness...

So, it's still raining. Hours of sold rain. We don't get that. As I looked out at the canal from the porch, I saw my poor little boat filling with water. Opps. I didn't cover it.

I ran outside to begin the bailing out. As I scooped water from the bottom and poured it over the side, I heard the unmistakable sound of dolphin exhaling. If you've ever heard it, you know exactly what I mean. I looked up and not far from the boat was a single dolphin. He eyeballed me and then dove. I waited and watched, occasionally bailing. He surfaced again, closer that time. I smiled and said hello. I asked him if he was enjoying the rain and he smiled before diving again.

Mr. Dolphin and I played that game until I was well beyond soaked through. He surfaced several times near the boat, never close enough to touch, but close enough that we spent several minutes just looking at each other. I suppose he wondered just what the hell this human was doing. He seemed curious. Just about the time I considered slipping over the side to join him, he showed me his tail flukes one last time and headed for Snake Creek.

I came back inside to get dry (that's not really possible today) and then called my eye doctor to order more contacts.

'I'm sorry, but you're due for your annual exam. We can't supply you with more contacts until you have another exam."

"But I'm completely out. I can't see to drive or work. Can't I buy a few pairs to carry me over until I can have an exam?"

"We don't usually do that."

(This is exactly what they did for me last time this happened.)

"What if I bring you some homemade fudge? Then would you do it?"

There was a long pause.

"How soon can you be here?"

It's only 9:41am and I've had lots of oddness. I wonder what else this day holds in store...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Food For Thought

Last week I attended the graduation of six of my former recruits. I was a proud Momma as I watched my babies stand before the community and receive their certificates. I'd be lying if I said I was I impressed with the way it was put together.... no honor guard and no bag pipes. Hello FKCC? My kids deserved better than the bush league ceremony that the college put together. My former supervisor didn't even know the names of the police officers that he was trying to introduce. I was embarrassed for him. Oh wait, no I wasn't. He showed everyone in attendance just what a donkey he really is. I may have smiled about it. A lot.

The purpose of the event was to celebrate the accomplishments of my babies and that's exactly what I did. They've come a long way from the day they stumbled into my office to hand in an application to the police academy. Wow. It's been a long ten months for them, but they are well on their way to bright futures. Congrats to them. They each made me very proud and I've no doubt that they will continue to do so. I look forward to rolling through Homestead/Florida City/Miami Dade and seeing them speed by in a patrol car.

On a related but different subject, I have decided not to pursue a career with the local law enforcement agency. Some of you think that a most unwise decision, but there's no way I could publish book #3 if I was on their payroll. I'd also have to seriously monitor what I publish on social media and we all know how difficult that can be for me. (Think back to the late July, voodoo doll fiasco.) I am who I am. I can't change it and probably wouldn't even if I could. I'm damn near 47 years old (how the flip did that happen??) and I don't enjoy the thought of returning to an environment where I have to bite my tongue, monitor every word that comes out of my face, and refrain from expressing my opinions. It wouldn't be worth the pay, the hours, or the irritation.

Fortunately, my Island Momma business has taken off like gangbusters, affording me the freedom to decline a more "traditional" means of earning a living. (I just looked up the phrase "coming on like gangbusters" on urban dictionary to learn about its origins...does anyone under the age of 70 say that? I mean other than me, of course.) I am fortunate and thankful to those who make this profession a wonderful way to support my family.

One of the greatest things about cooking for people is the ability to pick my hours. I don't have to miss important family events and I refuse to work holidays. My family time is so important. My baby girl is a sophomore in high school and I don't want to miss one minute of the time I have left. I can read the handwriting on the wall and that girl is destined for great things...but they won't be in the Keys. Her brains and talent will take her far away from this little island. I plan to do as much as possible with her before that happens.

I am very fortunate to be able to live the life I do. Thanks to those who make it possible, especially my husband Doug, who puts up with my latest and greatest most brilliant ideas and occasional mood swings (wink, wink...they might be more than occasional, but he's smart enough not to mention them). I know how lucky I am.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Truth and Lies

My need to blog was temporarily overshadowed by my need to earn a living. I know, I know. I need to get my priorities straight.

The biggest news is that I finished the third book! Well, that's not completely accurate. I wrote the ending, but now I need to go back to edit and fill in. There are some timeline issues that need to be addressed, which will take time to work out. I'm a long way from publishing. I'd say at least three months, but still...it's pretty gosh darn exciting.

I still don't have a title for the damn thing. That could be a problem.

So, maybe you could stop sending voodoo dolls of the Prez of FKCC (although they are adorable and line the back of my desk) and start brainstorming titles. I realize that you don't know what the book is really about, but I have given a few clues. The setting is mostly Islamorada during mini season. It tells the story of several characters, some are locals who struggle to make a living and others are just passing through. Some are dangerous criminals, others are the salt of the earth. The novel is fiction, although as Stephen King once said, "fiction is the truth inside the lie".

I'll never be in the same league as King (Hello Captain Obvious!), but here's my take on what he meant. To write good fiction, you start with the truth and then build the lies around it. You know bad fiction when you read it. It's when the author doesn't do their research and things aren't believable because you recognize the inaccuracies. I've been guilty of this, especially when the characters in my books continue to insist that's how they want their stories written. I'm trying to get better at reining my characters in, rather than being a slave to their whisperings. It's not easy.

Back to the point. The third novel is fiction, which means there are snippets of truth woven through the lies to hold it all together. Maybe therein lies the title...Hmmm.

As always, your suggestions are most welcome. Until then, I have a lot of editing and cleaning up to do.

I plan to start a pool before the book is released. We'll bet on how many people will be pissed off about a fictional book that isn't about them.

About that - just this past weekend during our annual Halloween party, one of my ghoulishly-costumed guests began picking out characters from Fat Chance as they wandered through the buffet line or stood at the bar. It was so damn entertaining to watch the light bulb turn on and then she'd say, "Maude, right?" or "That's gotta be Donna!"

After all, fiction really is the truth inside the lie.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


I love when my books write themselves and that's exactly what's been happening over the past couple of days. I thought I knew where this thing was headed, but man was I wrong!

These characters have minds of their own. They do whatever they want. Apparently, I'm just along for the ride. I've lost all control and, while that may sound frightening, it's also exhilarating! Surprise!

I often wonder if some of what's unraveling in book number three is just too unrealistic to publish, but maybe that's the wrong attitude. Weird shit is happening and that's okay; it's fiction. Fortunately, there aren't hard and fast rules about what can and can't happen in a fictional story. I'm going to stick with my method of letting the book happen. I won't try to control or shape it. I'll just let the story unravel and then share it with you. Take the parts that you like and ignore the rest.

Two people died this week. (Relax. I'm referring to two fictional characters in the book.) I felt pretty bad about one of them and didn't feel like writing for about a day afterwards. Is that weird? The other one had it coming, but I may rewrite it to make that particular ending a bit more awful. Is that more weird?

Do you wonder where these stories come from? I do. What's going on in my grey matter? Honestly, I don't sit around contemplating murder, but it sure is happening frequently in my books as of late. One thing I know for sure; I always feel better after writing, whatever it is that comes out. Certainly, writing is cheaper than therapy. So is wine. Combine the two and BAM!

I've gotta get back to the madness. An idea just came to me and I want to see where it goes. The book is still without a title, but I hope that will resolve itself in the near future or it'll be published as "The Next One" and that just won't do.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Twice in One Day?

Yeah, I know I already posted to this blog today, but I'm posting again. Its mine and well, there you have it. I can do what I want with it.

I really have a bug up my butt right now. I had a conversation with another woman about menopause (something I don't believe in) and it was downright ridiculous. She blamed everything in her life on the dang thing. That's like blaming everything on aliens or unicorns. It doesn't exist!! You are tired because you go out drinking every night. You are gaining weight because, much like me, you sit on on your duff most of the day and eat whatever you feel like. You are getting wrinkles because you're in your forties! Your boobs are drooping because you're in your forties! Stop the madness.

I tried to be delicate at first, but that approach just never works well for me. I may have said something like this:

"Pull your head outta your ass for God's sake! You can't blame all that shit on menopause. It's not real. You're doing it to yourself and Father Time is lending a helping hand. For Christ's sake, shut the hell up."

I don't know if I'll be on her Christmas card list this December.

The bottom line is that I don't believe in menopause. My body and I have an agreement. We're not doing it. Period. End of story. I don't think any woman should have to do it.

Here are other things I don't believe in (We may have covered this before, but it's worth repeating):

 - PMS
 - Valentine's Day
 - Mother's Day
 - Father's Day
 - That marshmallow peeps are a food
 - That people eat candy corn
 - That red wine is bad for you

Okay. I feel better now.

Remember: Menopause is not real. Just Don't Do It!!!

Autumn Dreams

I've always been drawn to stories and movies about the medieval period and Renaissance. Long, flowing gowns with elaborate closures, castles, feasts, art, dance, and learning...Some of my favorite movies involve these images; The Man In The Iron Mask, King Arthur, Braveheart, Robin Hood, and don't forget Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

One of my favorite places on Earth is the Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, MD. It's one of the biggest I've been to, covering twenty-five wooded acres. They offer costume rentals so that visitors can shed their jeans and t-shirts for period clothing. Vendors sell tankards of beer and wine. Others sell giant smoked turkey legs. There's song and dance, jousting, and magic. Even as an adult, I've often wished that I could live there all year long.

For whatever reason (please enlighten me if you make the connection), autumn always renews this particular fascination. Even though it's hard to tell that Fall has arrived on my little island, I long for castles and gowns just a little bit more this time of year.

I woke from a dream about Minard Castle early this morning. It's on Ireland's Dingle Peninsula and I was there this past June. (I had quite the experience - but that's for another post.) I don't remember much about the dream, but in it, Minard Castle was young again. It was whole and beautiful and I lived there.

As I lay in bed trying to remember the details of the Castle, I felt kinda sad. I wished that I could have lived during the Renaissance, back when Minard Castle was a place of happiness and celebrations. I longed for the romance of that age, Isn't it odd how easy it is to miss something that you never had? I suppose that's because I don't really understand what it was like to live during that time period. I only imagine the parts that I would like.

Castles are not heated, nor do they have indoor plumbing. Ireland gets pretty damn cold and there is nothing romantic about doing one's business in the chamber pot. (And where the hell do you empty it the next morning?) There was no refrigeration during the Renaissance. I don't like warm beer...although that wouldn't be a problem in the winter. A hot shower? Please. You'd be lucky to slide a tub in front of the fire and then hope to convince someone to heat water on the fire while you try to stay warm in your luke-warm water. Food poisoning, STDs, and errant arrows were daily challenges.

Does any of that really sound romantic?

*sigh* Yes. Somehow it really does.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Well Would You?

I stumbled across a powerful thing this morning. Brace yourself.

If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?

Whoa. Powerful, right?

As tempted as I am to lambaste a couple of donkeys who purposely crapped all over my week, I will refrain. I will keep my speech beautiful in the hopes of becoming more beautiful.

Let's see how long this experiment lasts before I explode and say exactly what I think. Feel free to start a pool and place bets.

Altogether unrelated, I made interesting progress on book three this week. Shots have been fired but I don't know if anyone was killed. The character witnessing the event fled the scene to save his worthless behind. It's a waiting game for all of us. I've no idea what happened inside that concrete house on a canal in Key Largo. Your guess is as good as mine.

Tune in next time. Will I be able to keep my speech beautiful? Will we discover what transpired in that house? Will the anonymous fan who keeps sending me voodoo dolls identify themselves?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bullet Dodged

Whew! I lucked out and dodged that bullet. It could have gone the other way, but fortunately I'm dealing with people who understand the concepts of sarcasm and venting. They are unlike the donkeys at Florida Keys Community College in that respect.

There was a very good chance that my decision to exercise my freedom of speech, coupled with the whisperings of vindictive FL Keys Community College scoundrels, would put to rest my chances of being hired by a local law enforcement agency. I met with senior leaders last week and am very, very happy to say that all is well. I hope to be able to make an official announcement regarding my new adventure in the next week or two. Suffice to say, you won't be reading about them in this here blog. No sirree, Bob.

Until that new chapter begins, I have a lot of writing to do. Book #3 is at a critical point and I'm struggling to tie together a few loose ends. Some of the characters aren't acting the way I thought they would and it's wreaking havoc with my ability to manage the plot. Don't you hate it when your characters get a mind of their own and do things that you never saw coming? Sometimes it's great but other times it's a total shit storm. That's where I find myself.

There are two characters in particular that need to have their ears boxed. I can't keep either of them in check. Just when I think I know what's going on, they jump off the deep end and drag me along behind them. No warning. Just...Bang!

Put down the phone. There's no reason to involve men in white coats, at least not yet. Let me finish the damn book first.

I'm still searching for a title. I love the sound of "Tropical Illusion" but it doesn't fit. Ditto for "Tropical Depression". It'll come to me eventually, but until then, please feel free to offer your suggestions. If I use your title, I'll take full credit for the idea and you'll get nothing. Oh stop! You'll get something. A free book, a mention in the dedication...perhaps a character fashioned after you.

Thanks to the anonymous reader who sent a voodoo doll. It's lovely and sits on my desk looking at me while I write. The likeness is ... frightening.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ravioli Are Like Books

I tried my hand at ravioli today. First time ever. I don't own one of those fancy-schmancy stand mixers with a dough hook attachment. Nor did my kitchen come equipped with a pasta roller. But hey, the Mommas in the old days didn't have those and they made pasta every day. I decided to go old school. I mixed the pasta by hand and then I rolled it out.

I used my mother-in-law's wooden rolling pin. The handles fell off years and years ago, but I just can't part with the damn thing. It's a real pain in the ass to use. Picture it; a rolling pin without handles! Whenever Doug threatens to throw it away, I hide it. I don't want a new shiny one. I never met Doug's mother and using her well-used wooden roller makes me feel like maybe we'd have been friends.

I learned a lot of things today. Making ravioli is therapeutic. For those of you who don't like to cook, what that really means is that making those cheese-stuffed little babies can be frustrating as hell. The experience makes you forget all of the other things you were pissed off about before you started to mix pasta dough. When someone tells you that an activity is "therapeutic", that's what they really mean. Now you know.

I also learned that flour gets everywhere when I make pasta. I mean everywhere. Boozy and Bear's coats were sprinkled with a nice dusting and my iphone has chunks of it stuck inside the protective case. (Don't tell Doug I touched my phone with dirty hands. He'll take it away from me.) Anyway, I should probably put down a drop cloth the next time I decide to engage in another therapeutic kitchen activity.

You know what else I learned? Ravioli are a lot like books. You have to keep practicing before they get really good. What's more is that you can put different things inside them - just like books. They don't all have to be filled with the same kinds of things. Ravioli can be scary - that would be one filled with peas or carrots if you ask me. They can be romantic - doesn't rosemary lemon ricotta sound romantic? They can be mysterious. Clean out the fridge and use whatever you have.

Ravioli are like books. I like to devour both.

See what happens when I have too much time on my hands?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Say What?

I heard myself talking yesterday and I sounded so much like my mother that it scared me. I mean, she's probably a wonderful person (just kidding, Mom), but I don't want to be her. Being me is scary enough without going full-blown Joan. Come on now.

I think the word that caused me the most concern was "supper". When I was a kid, we ate supper. When I moved out and started to create my own circus, I ate dinner instead. It tasted better. It doesn't sound so "I grew up on farm". Am I right? In spite of almost thirty years of effort, I rambled on to my daughter about what I was making for supper. Thankfully, she was in teenage mode and not listening, because I know she would have questioned my mental stability. She knows that word is gauche.

That brush with doom got me thinking about other words and phrases that I've worked very hard to eliminate from my vocabulary. I think I was afraid that using those words would somehow turn me back into the Patti Anne from a small farm in Brockport.

Here are just a few that come to mind:
"Nuts to you!" - I can see Mom's face as she says this.

"fella" - do I need to say anymore?

"down cellar" - this means basement. Fortunately, these don't exist in the Keys so I never have to worry about this little doozie slipping out. (See what I did there? Doozie is another, but I've started using it again.)

"pocketbook" - Doug still says this. I can't make him stop.

"Hankie" - my Dad never left the house without at least one in his pocket. Doug doesn't either, but at least he calls it a handkerchief. I pretend I don't see it so that I don't have to call it anything.

"Tureen Supper" - this was some sort of church affair, held at the Parish Center. A bunch of old ladies who smelled like moth balls brought casseroles of jello or beans or...hell, I don't know. I'm probably the only one that harbors any memory of this phrase. It makes me nauseous to say it out loud.

"coolots" - this is what my family called shorts that looked like a skirt. That's not what wikipedia says. Big surprise. My parents made up meanings and words to fit their needs and my brothers and I learned it as if it was the right way to talk.

"Giving him the business", now that's one that I still use. Remember that football game probably ffifteen or twenty years ago...it had to be a Dolphins/Bills game. John Madden and Pat Summeral were the announcers (God, I miss them.) One player roughed up another and the ref called a penalty. I still hear Madden saying he'd been given the penalty for "giving him the business" and he pantomimed having someone in a headlock and punching him in the head. Am I the only one who remembers that fantastic moment?!? It was classic Madden and because he used that phrase, I allow myself to use it as well. I encourage you to give it try if it's not already part of your repertoire.

Funny business, this language thing. I think everyone agrees that music has the ability to transport you to another place and time. Certain songs can take you back to a particular age and you remember who you were with, how you felt, who you were in love with, etc. Words and phrases also have that ability. My accidental uttering of "supper" started a landslide of memories that just kept coming. It was unexpected and overwhelming.

Do you say tadpole or pollywog?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Deal With It

I can't hold my tongue any longer. I just can't! It's not in my nature and well, there you have it.

This little piece of virtual real estate is mine. I should be free to post whatever, whenever...but as we learned last month, there are people who get grossly offended when others voice opinions that differ from their own. Grow the hell up and move on.

Since my tangle with the prez of the local college (thanks to my back-stabbing former co-worker) (Do I sound bitter? I am.), I've removed all of the posts about "the incident" and the ensuing drama. That alone was painful to do. Since then, I've avoided posting altogether. I've written posts and then deleted them without publishing because I didn't want to hurt my chances to be hired by another agency. The self-censorship is making me crazy. I write. It's what I do to blow off steam and stay on a semi-even keel. I can't stop doing it just because my blog is being monitored.

I just reread that paragraph and it makes me sound like a full-blown nut job. The truth is that I have been asked about the comments posted here by a potential employer. Although the offending posts have been removed, I find myself having to explain/defend them. I suppose I might as well put them back up. The horse is already out of the barn, right?

Maybe being unemployed for five weeks has made me insensitive. Just kidding. Those of you who've read my books know that I've been insensitive for at least a year...maybe two.

Here's the rub: I still worry about my recruits and their well-being. They contact me on occasion to check in and to let me know that they're okay. I know that my instructors are doing everything within their power to make sure my kids get what they need so that they can graduate on time, but I still worry. The responsibility is no longer mine, but I'm having difficulty letting go. A few weeks ago, I received a letter from the college indicating that I'd been fired for insubordination and unprofessional behavior. I was accused of trying to sabotage the program. The program that I worked so hard to improve/grow! It was a bitter pill to swallow. In fact, I haven't managed to do so yet.

Then things got even crazier. After receiving the hate letter, the college called me. To ask for help.

Excuse me? You want my help? 

Are you shaking your head at the audacity of those donkeys? I listened to the voice mail twice to be sure that I'd understood it correctly. Yep. We need your help. Please call.

Um...is anyone else confused?

Phew! I feel better. Just putting these thoughts (and complaints) into electrons makes me feel better. I suppose that doesn't make sense to a lot of people, but that's how it works for me. Now that I've gotten all of this negative crap outta my skull, I can move on to more positive things.

Take, for example, my two very funny and intelligent children. They are the greatest things I've ever accomplished and I adore them. They are proof that I am not a total jackass.

Then there's Halloween. It's only 57 days away, you know. You'd better get busy.

Let's not forget book number three, which still doesn't have a title. During my days of censorship, the book suffered too. Now that I've thrown caution to the wind and am blogging again, it's happily moving forward once again.

Ahhh.... it's good to be back. Did you miss me?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I know. I said that I'd never do it, but I did. I edited "Confessions of a Catholic School Dropout" and I'm soooo glad that I did. It was crappy. Why didn't you guys tell me that? You're too nice. I cringe at the memories of what I originally wrote. Do real writers suffer from this affliction, too? How do they get anything done?

Anywho, I edited the whole dang thing and released it again. The ebook that is currently available on Amazon is the updated version. The paperback version is still being vetted by Amazon, but it should be up and ready to go tomorrow morning. Smashwords (from which you can get the Nook, iPad, Sony and PDF versions) is still working on the ebook version and I don't know when it'll be done.

I spent upwards of eight hours a day for the past four days formatting, reformatting, and screaming at my computer. I followed painfully complicated instructions to ensure that my file complied with each platform's formatting requirements. It's a conspiracy! No one uses the same format. In fact, they've worked very hard to ensure that their requirements are nothing alike. The rat bastards.

No matter. It's behind me now... until I get another bug up my butt and decide to edit again.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not on my high horse and claiming that "Confessions" is perfectly written. It's not. I'm far from a perfect writer. It's better and that's good enough for now. There are chapters that I wish I hadn't published. I don't like them anymore. (Juvenile Delinquents...the graveyard debacle is one.) There are others that I scrapped and now wished had been included. Where was Elizabeth when these decisions needed to be made?!?

I think it's best to put it away and forget it about it for now. I have other projects that are screaming for attention.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Never Say Never

Shortly after I published "Confessions of a Catholic School Dropout", I became aware of a few typos that had alluded me until then. A friend suggested that I edit and republish.

"I'll never do that.  Never," I said.

My reason wasn't laziness. I wanted to be true to myself. The book is a snapshot of who I was and what I was capable of writing two years ago. I felt like it should remain unchanged so that over time, my work would show how I've improved and changed as a writer. I didn't want to feel like I should update the manuscript every time my writing style changed.

Here we are two years later. For some reason that I don't recall, I picked up Confessions and read a couple of pages. I'd not looked at it since it was published.  Jaysus! What was I thinking?  

I cannot leave Confessions the way it is. I've spent the past week doing a serious overhaul. The story will be unchanged, but the writing will (hopefully) be much cleaner. I had some bad habits that I wasn't aware of. Geez Louise! I can't get a new edition out there fast enough, BUT I don't want to make the same mistake I made the first time. In my eagerness to publish, I didn't spend enough time editing. I suppose that's not unusual for self-published authors. I don't want to do that again.

Don't get me wrong. I'm proud of what I created. I just want to make it better. 

One of the more arduous tasks ahead is to remove all of the extra spaces between sentences. I learned yesterday that typing two spaces after a period is wrong. Plain and simple. I didn't believe it either. After reading a Facebook post by Tracy Magin, I did some research. I've been doing it wrong for more than twenty years. Don't believe me?  Check it out.


Thanks, Tracy. You magnified my workload exponentially, but at least now I know that I've been doing it wrong. Now I have to find a way to break the habit of smacking the space bar twice after every period. That habit will be most difficult to break.

You may recall from previous posts that I've been working on a third novel. I really like the plot and some of the characters are real doozies. Here's the rub:  One of the characters is a crooked cop and several others are deputies and detectives from a local law enforcement agency. I'm currently being processed by that agency for a position that I really hope to secure. If I publish the book before I'm hired, I will most certainly not be brought onboard. If I'm hired and then publish, I'd surely be fired.

Deja vu, right?

Changing the book's location is not an option.  The plot centers around mini season.  I might be able to change the agency for which the characters work, but it wouldn't be realistic.  I'm going to continue to write/perfect it and most likely save it for publication at a much later date.  

That whole freedom of speech thing sure is a slippery slope. I've fallen down it more than once.

I've learned that it's impossible to predict how people will react to the written word. I never expected that so many adults would get their panties in a bunch over fiction and personal blog posts.  Apparently, the phrase "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me" is a load of crap, because too many people take personal offense to things that don't really matter. Take a deep breath, people! 

I'm bummed about not releasing the third novel. I set a personal goal to publish one each year, but that may not be possible in 2014...unless a character like Daphne Schneider from Fat Chance starts whispering in my ear again. That book wrote itself in a few short months. If that phenomenon repeats itself, then I could have a book out by year's end.  Don't hold your breath.

Never say never!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Dont Get Too Close

What in God's name is going on?  I've experienced the craziest things lately.  Here's the latest:

I continue to try to put my books into the hands of book clubs.  I'm convinced that they are my vehicle for making this writing hobby into something a bit more.  Call me crazy.  You wouldn't be the first.  Given the events over the past couple of weeks, I'd wager that you won't be the last.

Two days ago, I sent my standard reach-out blurb/book recommendation to a book club in Austin.  (I contact every book club in one particular region and then move on to another.)  This particular club only accepts gay men. So far, so good.  I emailed the organizer and went on with my day.  Typically, one of three things happen after I send such an email; 1) no response (most common); 2) thanks, but no thanks; or 3) yes, we are interested (rare).  Not this time.

I received a scathing email from the book club's organizer. After receiving my email, he said he was intrigued. He bought "Fat Chance" and downloaded it to his Kindle.  He said it was the "most filthy book" he's ever read.  That left me scratching my head.  I think there are a couple of Judy Blume books with more filth than "Fat Chance".

He was particularly offended by the "gay scene" because "that's not how lesbians behave".  I took exception to both of those comments.  Firstly, there is not a "gay scene" in the book.  A group of Islamorada ladies head to Key West for a girl's weekend and things get a little crazy.  While it's true that two of the women do wake up naked in the same bed together, and one of them is a self-proclaimed woman lover, there is not a "scene".  The details are left to the reader's imagination.  Secondly, how would one gay man know how all gay women act?  Am I to believe that simply because he's a gay man, he's able to understand and perfectly predict the behavior of all gay women?  Please.  A man can't predict the behavior of anything that owns a vagina, regardless of her sexual preference. 

He went on to say that I can look forward to horrendous reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Facebook. In addition, he's alerted all of the people in his circle to stay away from anything I write.

Well.  Now then.  

What's next?  A plague of locusts?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Title

I sat under our tiki hut last night brainstorming about a title for the third novel.  Actually, what I was doing probably can't be called "brainstorming".  Webster's defines the word thusly:

"a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group"

I was alone, not a member of a group. Unless, perhaps I have multiple personalities and those count.  I'm sure if you were to ask some of the people that I dealt with last week, they would tell you there are at least two different Patti's living in this body.  (We all know my backside is big enough for two people.)

Whether I was brainstorming or thinking, I didn't get very far with the new title.  I better recruit some new group members or develop some more creative personalities.

The title for "Fat Chance" hit me right in the face while I sat in the Keys Shuttle on my way to the airport.  I didn't bother to google the name and it wouldn't have mattered if I did.  It was perfect for what I wanted. Turns out there are lots people who must have had the same experience, because there are a wheel barrow-full of books with that title.  It's okay.  I still love the name.

The third novel is set in the Keys during mini season.  For those of you who don't know, mini season is a two day event in late July (it was last wed/thurs) when people can harvest legal-sized lobsters before the commercial season opens.  Ghouls from the mainland flock to the Keys.  They rape our waters and leave behind their trash.  I don't know of a single local who can honestly say that they enjoy mini season.  Traffic is horrendous, the "lobster people" are notoriously bad tippers and rude boaters, and most of us stay home until it's over.

The story has a little humor (the kind I like), drugs, drinking, crime, sex, and human trafficking.  I can't say more than that without giving away too much.  Not exactly sure how things will play out.  I never know until they happen.  I think I'm about 150 pages in, but I've no idea what will happen next.  Seems to be the only way I write.  (Sounds like how I do most things.)

I kicked around "Tropical Disturbance" and "Tropical Illusion".  I canned "Dumping Grounds".

Hopefully, something will come to me.  Feel free to send your suggestions.  I know it's difficult without knowing more about the plot, but any and all suggestions will be met with sarcasm first, appreciation second.

How you guys making out with those voodoo dolls?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Life Lessons

This week has been an eye-opener.  The drama and craziness of the past few days bring several cliches and phrases to mind:

- You're never too old to learn.

- Discretion is the better part of valor.

- Be careful what you wish for.

- If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent may we be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- Never trust a fart.

That last one shouldn't be overlooked.  Its a doozie.

I continue to be amazed by the number of people who say I should have known better than to post my opinions on social media.  Some said you just can't do that.

Before I go any further, let me firmly establish that I'm speaking of true friends and people I love.  (Except for the Academy Award winning former coworker.  There is no love there.)  We don't always agree, but that doesn't change our friendship.  Please don't interpret this post as a dump on those of you who've reached out to share your thoughts.  This post is just another blabbering of my observations, so don't get your panties in a bunch.

As I was saying, some people said you just can't write stuff like that.  I am shaking my head over that notion. Why the hell not?  This isn't Russia.  (Sorry Anastasia.)  There's a difference between "you can't write that" and "if you write that, be prepared to accept the consequences".  I believe in the latter.

(Also, I believe in ladders.  They sure do come in handy.)

The idea that I can't use this space to voice my opinions, vent, and be sarcastic about life in general is a bunch of malarkey.  What in tarnation is this world coming to when average Joes like myself can't do a little public venting?  I've been censored before, do you remember?  Two crazy women tried to get "Confessions of a Catholic School Dropout" banned from the Liftbridge Bookstore in Brockport, NY.  (Turns out those two crazies were cousins.  My family tree is full of nuts.)  Their efforts backfired, of course, because nothing boosts book sales like an attempted banning!

Now that I'm unemployed, I have more time to write.  I've added several pages to my next novel since the college prez read Tuesday's blog post.  I don't want to ruin the surprise, but one or more members of the almighty administration make a brief appearance.  It wasn't planned; it just happened.  Turns out that particular chapter was fun to write.  Very cathartic.  Daphne Schneider would have approved.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I returned from an amazing adventure in Ireland - my daughter and I walked 111 miles around the Dingle Peninsula - with my batteries recharged.  I was eager to write.  I didn't know where my latest book was headed, which isn't unusual for me.  I never know where my books are going until they get there.  That's how I write.  (Did you know some people plan?  Outline, even?)

I was writing a fun chapter when BAM!  Something completely unexpected happened.  I was so shocked that I felt exhausted by it.  I couldn't write anymore for the day.  The turn of events absolutely wiped me out. It's such a weird experience when that happens.

When I was writing Fat Chance, I had a similar occurrence when the main character, Daphne, killed for the first time.  I'd no idea she was going to turn crazed serial killer, but when she did, the act of writing it was draining.

Is this how how other writers feel?  What about artists?  Do painters or sculptors or illustrators have times when their craft drains them both physically and mentally, or do I need to call a doctor?

Regardless, that's how it happens with me.  It took me two days before I could continue with the plot. Rather than deal with the surprise event again, I dove back into the middle and edited for a couple of days, hiding like a chicken shit from the thing that surprised me.  It made me so uncomfortable, I didn't want to deal with it, but after a couple of days, I did.  I had to.  I couldn't just leave that poor character alone in that horrible mess.

It's still very shocking, but I'm writing again and still I wonder where this book is headed.  It has taken several turns since it first began.  In fact, it's a completely different novel than when I began writing it.  Good thing I'm not a house builder, because I think my approach to creating would result in some pretty screwed up floor plans.

Time to get back to the task at hand.  What will happen today?

Saturday, May 3, 2014


One of the many ways I attempt to self-market is to contact book clubs, tell them a little bit about one of my books, and hope that the club will select it for one of their monthly readings.  It's a lot of work for little reward, but I'm convinced it will eventually pay big dividends.  I think book clubs are my way into the light.

I've had quite a dry spell, with no responses from book club organizers since late winter, which for those of us in the Keys was February but for those of you in NY, that was yesterday.  Sorry about that.  You probably don't want to hear that it's been in the high 80's all week, do you?

Anywhooooo, just this morning, I received a very cordial email from a book club organizer in Wisconsin, don't cha know?  She said her club would LOVE to read Fat Chance...if I would fly there to join the group's discussion of the book, answer questions and sign books.  Ahem.

Travelocity says I can fly from Miami to Milwaukee for $382.00.  I'd need a hotel room for the night and I'd have to pay for cab fares and pints, perhaps even a meal or three.  Let's be conservative and say the trip would cost $650.  We all know it would be more than that, but let's just pretend.

Do you have any idea how many books I'd have to sell just to break even?  Even if all 52 members of their book club purchase a copy, which is unusual - I've found that when a book club "selects" a book to read, less than half actually buy/read it - I'd still lose money.

I'm not looking to get rich in this line of work, although that would be something I could get used to, but I can't spend money to write.  I have to at least break even and then there's time away from family, which is worth a lot of money to me.

I don't think I'll be going to Milwaukee...unless another Wisconsin - don't cha know - book club decides to select one of my books.  A two-fer would be nice.  I might even make a profit.  Oh, there I go getting all silly again.  It's time to get to work.  That third book isn't going to write itself.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

House - I mean blog - cleaning

I combined two blogs into one this morning, which was no easy feat.  It was ridiculous to think I could maintain a separate blog for each book I write.  No one has enough interesting things to say to keep two writing blogs active.  Remember that I also maintain two travel blogs.  Enough already.

From this point forward, The Write Thing To Do will be my blog for all things book-related.  My books, your books, you get the idea.

Speaking of my books, I'm working on the third.  The working title is "Hellbent", but that will most certainly change.  I truly plucked it out of my backside with absolutely no thought.  A place holder, that's all.

Like "Fat Chance", the book's setting is the Florida Keys during mini season.  For those who aren't lucky enough to live here, mini season is a three day period in July when people are allowed to harvest legally-sized lobsters from the Florida waters before the commercial season begins.  The event attracts thousands from the mainland.  They rape and pillage our waters, leave their trash behind and infuriate the locals.

The fictional tale has mystery, murder, drugs and human trafficking...and that's just in the first eight chapters.

Stay tuned.  I've no idea where this book is heading or how it will get there.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder?

I've been absent from this blog for a few months...do you feel more fond of me because of it?  I thought not.  That particular phrase is a bunch of crap.

I think it's time to combine blogs.  I can't keep up a blog for each novel I write; it just doesn't make sense.  Let's be honest; I don't have enough interesting things to say to keep several blogs going.  In addition to this one, I maintain one for Fat Chance


and two others for my travel adventures with my daughter:

It's too much.  No one wants to hear from one person on that many fronts.

I hope you'll bear with me during the construction phase.  I've no idea what I'll do, but when I'm done there will be one blog for all of my writing efforts and it will be called....um....well, what would you suggest?  I welcome your brilliant ideas for a title for the new, combined blog.

Perhaps I should consult the Pope.