Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day

That's my Dad. Yep, coming out of the outhouse that my uncle used to own in Tionesta, PA.
Many of you know that this has been a traumatic year for me and my family. With the death of my mother in February, there isn't a day that goes by that we don't think of her. With Father's Day approaching, it makes me appreciate my Dad that much more.
I have a lot of fond memories of my Dad spending time with my sister and me, but the one which stands out is our annual trip to my uncle's camp in Tionesta. Believe me, this was truly a camp, a hunter's lodge. No running water which meant no shower, no toilet, no TV, no phone, no comforts of home. If we needed water, my sister and I carried a huge jug down to the spring well and carried it back. If we needed to wash our hair, we walked down to the spring. If we had to go to the bathroom, we went to the outhouse. Ick!
The camp's musty smell grew on you like a second skin. We had to pack our clothes in garbage bags because luggage would be ruined. Note: One time my Dad actually packed the garbage from home instead of his clothes, but that's another story! The kitchen and living room were connected with only a center island between them. Eerie magazines (horror comics) rested in the corner basket. Over the couch was a huge picture-puzzle that took up the entire wall. One bedroom with two queen beds shot off from the kitchen. Yep, that was it! In fact, when you pulled into the camp, there was a sign nailed into a tree that said, "Camp. This is it!"
We sat for countless hours at the center island playing cards, normally UNO. My Dad would crack jokes, poke us and make us laugh. He taught us how to fish and even though I never wanted to bait my own hook, he was forever patient and never complained about doing it. He ensured that my sister and I had a great time. And we always did!
Down the road was a very small animal habitat with deer, raccoon, rabbits and Rosie and Jiggs. Rosie and Jiggs were two black bears that we never failed to stop and visit.
My uncle's camp was the last camp at the bottom of the hill and sat next to a heavily wooded area. Bears have been known to visit. Sometimes at night, my Dad would light a bonfire and we would cook hot dogs or roast marshmallows. If I close my eyes, I can still hear the fire making popping noises into the night and smell the smoky wood and crackling leaves. I can still see the glowing embers floating up into the tall, dark pine trees. 
I'll never forget the fun times we had there. And even though it didn't have any amenities, my Dad made it a place for a wonderful family gathering.
What was the best memory you have of doing something with your father?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You're a What?

I've lost count of how many times I've seen this look upon the faces of many. What causes such a judgemental, horrified expression?

I would like to think I'm a nice person, easy going, and I do genuinely care about my friends and family. I want to know how the people in my life are doing. And I enjoy meeting new people. But what I don't like is a one-sided conversation. Particularly this kind.   

It irks me when someone pretends to play nice in the sandbox. You know the feeling. You had a nice time, chatted, got to know one another. And like a bucket of cold water was thrown over the conversation, it changes, becomes cold. 

For the umpteenth time. I'm a romance writer! I write Scottish historical romances! No, I am NOT ashamed or embarrassed. Why would I be? My family supports me. My CHILDREN support me. YOU. KNOW. NOTHING about me. 

No matter how many times I prepare myself for these type of people and conversations, it's completely annoying. If that's not bad enough, some of them choose to continue their rant. 

"So... you're published. How did you manage to accomplish that?" Snicker.

Straightening my spine, I hold my head high and say, "I won a writing contest and was asked for a full submission." I pick up my glass and take another drink before other words escape me. 


"Yep. Imagine my surprise when the publisher not only loved it, but she asked me to pitch three, a series."

Smirks. "So... do you have an agent then?"

"Of course."

"Well, I suppose you don't make enough money to quit your day job."

Is life not too short?

God, if they only knew of the blood, sweat and tears, edits and re-edits, writing goals, countless hours, 2:30a.m. revisions to make a deadline, the dreaded synopsis, copy/edits, galleys, hooks, marketing, sales, reviews...

I want to scream at the top of my lungs, "I hate stupid people!"

My writing friends know this feeling all too well. Tell me. What is the best line you ever used on these type of people?