Scribbles and thoughts ...

These are ramblings from J L Wilson, published author of romantic suspense, mystery, and paranormal -time travel fiction....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The loss of Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman died this week. I read his obituary and was struck by what a full life he led (here's what I read).

Not only were his mysteries intriguing, but they were also enlightening. They told about a part of the world I seldom thought about (the 4-corners region of the Southwest) and about people I thought I knew about (Native Americans). Through his writing, he brought another world alive. As he said:

“It’s always troubled me that the American people are so ignorant of these rich Indian cultures,” Mr. Hillerman once told Publishers Weekly. “I think it’s important to show that aspects of ancient Indian ways are still very much alive and are highly germane even to our ways.”

I remember watching one of his books brought to live on PBS ("Mystery Theater" or some such show). I was struck by how little dialog there was, but how rich the characterizations were. When I started to write, I went back and looked at his writing (and some of my other favorites) to figure out how he did it.

More than anything, though, he was a storyteller, and heavens, we need storytellers in the world today, don't we?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Once again, health ....

I had a tooth pulled on Wednesday -- didn't plan on it, I thought I was going in for a consultation and an hour later, I left with a bunch of gauze packing my mouth. Yeah, it had to be pulled but I just wasn't quite ready for the event.

Funny how we can handle just about anything if we're prepared for it. I knew this tooth had to come out some time -- it's been bothering me for years. But Wednesday it sort of ached so I thought, 'ah, call the surgeon and see if she can look at it.'

I got there, she looked, she said, 'let's pull.' They took my blood pressure before and after the event and I'll tell you, it's never been so high. I just wasn't ready.

This made me think of writing, of course (it seems like everything leads me back to my 'other' career). I've been chugging along, publishing with small publishers, and I'm pretty happy overall. Now and again I'm plagued by 'should I strive for more' thoughts.

Am I ready for More? Good question. Do I want to be wedged into deadlines, deal with other kinds of publicity, open new doors, learn new things?

Things to consider as I recover from dentistry (and prepare for more dentistry: bridgework, here I come).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A mole encounter leads to political thoughts

I found a mole today, trapped in the stairwell as I came in to the office. This is a recessed stairwell and the poor guy probably lost his bearings in the bright lights of the garage, tumbled over the wall, and was trapped.

As anyone who knows me will know -- I can't let him die. Animals do not die on my watch, whether they're annoying or pests or cute. It doesn't matter. If I can help, I do.

So I got a mail bin and managed to trap the poor guy into it. Then I hefted it up over the wall and dumped him out. Unfortunately, it's a landscaped area and I dumped him into the rocks, but he was scrabbling for the sides of the bins and I was worried he'd drop. He burrowed under the rocks for a long time then I finally saw dirt flying upward. He'd found the ground.

I came back later and found a nice molehill, indicating he'd gone deep. I HOPE he managed to find his way out to the Real Mole World (he'll have to dig under some concrete to get there, but I hope he finds his way).

This made me think: why the hell was I worried about a mole at 5:00 in the morning? And worry I did, until I went back at 5:40 and found that molehill.

It's really simple. You have to do the right thing in life.

Sometimes it ain't the simple thing, sometimes it's a pain, sometimes it's inconvenient (like finding a plastic mail bin at 5:00 in the morning in an empty office building). But you do what you think is the right thing.

If only Wall Street, Washington, and the State Capitol did that. I'm not saying they're all shamelessly opportunistic, but if only a few people in power had paused and said, "What's the right thing?" maybe ...

This leads me to the elections coming up. I don't love either candidate, but I don't think I have to love them. I have to respect the person I vote for, I have to believe he'll do the right thing. All I have to go on is his track record during the election campaign. I can't look at his voting record in the Senate (because that was predicated on past events). I have to look at what I feel is his character, right now. How did he run his campaign? How did he act in the current crisis? Will he do unpleasant or unpopular things in the future because they're the Right Thing? Or will he bow to lobbyists and his party to do something else that's more convenient?

Our country faces really, really tough choices in the future. We're going to have to change to survive. We can't be the America we used to be -- we have to remake ourselves to face a world that's changing so quickly ... I have to vote for the person who can help us make that change.

I have to read about them, consider the points and not vote for a party or a personality. I've got to do what I think is the Right Thing. I wish more people made election choices based on that instead of party affliation or because of fear (fear of the other guy or fear of the future). But that's the other people. For me, I've got to do what I think is the Right Thing, right now, and pray it's not too late.

That mole made me realize it. I can't dig a hole and go inside and hope it all gets better. Maybe somebody will come along and bail us out with a big mail bin. It's going to take something as drastic as that to upend our world and get us going again, just like I did for that mole. It scared the poop out of him while I was corralling him (and chasing him around that stairwell), but it's going to be okay.

Let's hope we can say the same in a year or so.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"Free" time

This is the first weekend I don't have anything scheduled since Labor Day.

Pause for thought -- Labor Day. Long time ago, eh? I've had either a book signing, a trip, a conference, a panel discussion .... something since Labor Day.

I didn't realize how much I prized free time until I didn't have much of it. My husband asked what I'm going to do with it. "Write, I suppose?"

Yes, but I'm also going to take time -- maybe have a nap, go buy some apples and stop for antiques along the way, do some cooking, do some shopping. I've done all of those things wedged into my weekends in between other events, but this weekend I'm just going to do those things. I'm not going to fit them in, they'll be the main event.

I think that's what I miss most in my hectic schedule. I end up slotting activites into a schedule and don't have time to relax and just enjoy them. So that's what free time gives me. I don't have to begrudge the activity that takes me away from the thing I love to do in my free time -- write.

And that's enough deep thoughts for a beautiful autumn Saturday! I'm going to go out, enjoy the leaves, eat some pie, and poke around a few antique stores. I hope your Saturday is as pleasant!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fodder for fiction

The current election is providing me with great fodder for my fiction, to the point that I'm going to have to store some of it up and use later!

My current WIP is about another planet and the government is undergoing some major upheavals. Wow. Sound familiar? Isn't it great when I can take news headlines, tweak them a bit, and make them work in my books?

As I sit and write this, I'm watching the fall foliage outside my window. The colors are amazing this year, mainly because all the weather conditions came together at the right time. The yellows, oranges, and reds are surprising in their intensity. Now if we can just store up these memories in the snowy days ahead just like I'm storing up political nonsense for future books!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Horn tooting!

Just want to share -- my time travel/paranormal/reincarnation love story, "Forgiveness", got third place in the PRISM contest run by RWA's FF&P group. I was beat out by 2 mainstream paranormal books, one of which won "Best of the Best" in the contest.

See all the results here:

Not bad for a book that has never seen the light of print (and oh, I wish it would -- I have a ready-made audience for that book in a college town nearby!)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Things to be thankful for ...

Every now and then, I look around and realize that I am truly lucky. This is one of those days.

My spouse is ill -- he's got a cold, and when he gets a cold, it's always a doozy. He's been bed-bound for days, and is wobbly on his feet. I used to think this was the old 'a man gets a cold and the world stops spinning' syndrome, but I think it really does wallop him. I seldom get ill and when I do, it's usually here then gone. So Point 1 to be thankful for.

Point 2: a friend of mine has been left a widow with 7 children and no life insurance policy from her spouse. Their house is mortgaged to the hilt and she has to re-enter the high tech workforce after a 10 year absence. I don't see a good solution to her problems anywhere -- 10 years is too long to be out of the high tech loop. There were a lot of red flags along the way, but no one expected her husband to die (he was only 52 and died after a very brief illness). So Point 2: I know where the life insurance policy is, and even if my spouse died, I could survive on one income.

Point 3: well, look at 1 and 2 -- if you've got your health, and you've got some financial stability, just about everything else falls into place, doesn't it? I don't have any impending crises, I have deadlines that are somewhat reasonable at work and at home, and I have a roof over my head.

Yep. Things to be thankful for .... Now if we can get this #*(@!)! election out of the way, I'll be truly thankful!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Ah, the best laid plans ...

I planned this week to work on another book -- edits this time.

Alas, high technology got in the way. The resort we frequent at this time of year finally went high-tech, so I had WiFi access to the Internet. I didn't get done as much as I wanted, writing-wise. The good thing, though, is I didn't come home to 900 email messages, either.

I did get one book edited and have started on another. And I relaxed, did some hiking (ouch), hit some golf balls at a fantastic resort (ouch again), and had a good time, so the vacation was a success. Monday it's back to work, but this weekend I'm going to pretend I'm still on vacation and do some more relaxing. I figure I need to store up the stress-free moments since I'm heading into a stress-full time at work this fall.

The colors were beautiful, the weather was iffy except for the last 2 days, and the loons were as plantative as I remember. Viva vacation!