I’m Back, B*tches!

Been dark for a time. Life happens. And I’m sick of other bloggers/writers, etc. whining about blogs being dark. Not to be mean, but, to use The Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over LP tune:  “Get Over It!”

In a nutshell: two dear friends–one an author, the other, a radio talk show host–crossed the Jordan within months of one another, and their deaths are still resonating with me. Both were expected to recover from their health concerns, but God had other ideas. This year’s been one shitastic laugh-riot after another regarding the economy, politics and the rigged system, clear evidence against regular Jos like me being held back for more sinister motives. I’m also fed up with reading books by authors who follow a checked-box mandates in their plots, and I was seeking fresh stories (thankfully, I found them, and should make forthcoming posts on the few gems I’ve discovered.) I’ve been helping my man settle his sister’s assisted-living affairs and getting her aboard the literacy train, budgeting my time/funds for JERSEY DOGS’s final release; my bed-frame and needed fixing–rockin’ the Casbah helped, thank you!–and I’ve been scouring ads for a needed new-to-us vehicle (did you know you can’t rent a car in Pennsylvania without purchasing a round-trip plane ticket for the privilege? Un-REAL!!!). And the microcosm of all this life drama included my eradicating bedbugs.The upshot: I dropped some LBs going up/down stairs and walking to and from the laundry. Gotta make that Dinesh D’Souza lemonade when life slams its best lemons at you, after all. 

So. As I’m pressed for time and stressed in other ways–I write erotica, too, so use your imaginations for that one–this blog’s will be divided into two parts. Read carefully which you’d like to follow. If you’d like to read both, awesome. If not, wait for the weekend edition for the personal, kaleidoscopic, textured, on occasion book review, and ever-shifting landscape of this writing life of mine part of the publishing landscape. But as today is the mid-week edition … let the games of “My Non-Conformist, Politically Incorrect, Everything Outside-of-My-Writing-Life” begin!

You know it’s said: “Never talk about anything religious or political?” That’s gonna stop with me. Sure, I’m about book sales and being read. But money, propriety, saving face, keeping friends, and slowly censoring myself because my views could, might, or will ruffle feathers, shouldn’t trump my principles. Authors should be the last ones to self-censor. We wouldn’t have fabulous works by Chaucer, Bradbury, Nat Hentoff, Orwell, Heinlein, Keourac, Ayn Rand, Salman Rushdie (who is still being hunted for his 1987 release, The Satanic Verses, incidentally), et al, if they stilled their voices. It’s HOW these authors expressed their concerns for society through their works that drove home a hegemony, a position, a stance, a need for a new way of life, right or wrong. And unlike today’s far Left political class (and the spineless, Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost RINOs and other weenies on the right who love them), they didn’t trash a swath of the populace in their beliefs in one breath, but didn’t mind taking their money when that demonized target purchased the author’s works. If that’s not the epitome of hypocrisy, I don’t know what is. But see, the ideological idiots who kept throwing out the  “don’t talk religion and politics” maxim used as a statement to shut down ALL discourse, in my view. They can’t effectively argue, feel uncomfortable to defend their positions on the shifting sand of their ideologies, and so will simply shut down ALL debate because their positions are baseless.

Not me. Or not mine.

So now you know all that, you’ll know also:
• I’m pro-life, and pro-death penalty on a case-per basis. We’re in 2016, and there’s no excuse for those on death-row to keep languishing there with the forensics technology available to exonerate some of these men and women. Thing is, they’re being made a political example, or they’re innocents out of money, time, resources, friends, and clemency. Sadly, they die. We’re a better society than that. Some acts deserve death (pedophilia, child sexual predators, and through-the-bone corrupt politicians, anyone?). All we need to do is take the time to make this happen–if people involved wanted to.
• I’m a sexual libertarian. Meaning whatever goes on between two or more consenting adults is none of my business, nor is it any of anyone else’s. Including the government’s. And any Polly and Patrick Pea-Hen Christians’s. If they’re into that level of hedonism, their prerogative. Leave them be, leave me be, they, and I, will do the same for you. Just don’t run your sexual perversion(s) up a flagpole and expect me to salute that, okay? Meaning, if more people lived and let live, and acted so in a wise fashion, the world would truly be a better place.
• I’m pro-gun (as in self-defense and for hunting purposes; we all need to eat and we all don’t live in Mayberry, RFD). I’m pro nationalism (yes, I’m about MY country first, and everything in it. Any sane nation is.). And I’m pro God. Yes, God. Not Allah, not Birthday Cake Creator, not an Intelligent Designer. G-O-D. The Gideon/David/Father-to-the-Son-of-God, God. That God. You’re not pro-God? Your prerogative. Just don’t tell me I don’t have to be; I don’t insist you believe if you elect not to, do I?  Extend that same courtesy, please, and UI thank you for understanding.
• I’m bisexual. I support folks like Milo Yiannapolous speaking his mind against those who claim tolerance and support the #1stA, mean it for themselves and for speech they approve of and agree with. And similar to the pro-God, pro-gun, etc. above, I don’t flaunt what I do to you, nor do I expect you to salute my choices. That’s the beauty of living and let live: you leave each other alone and agree to disagree, agreeably. How is that kind of mosaic of differences a problem, again?
• I’m a verbal straight-shooter. I shouldn’t have to, nor will I when warranted, curb what I say because a bunch of sissies in charge have a boy-in-the-bubble EQ (emotional quotient) intolerance of my views, my noting their hypocrisy, then claim I’m a bully for speaking my mind. If you’re read this far and are short of your fuse blowing up that cannonball, good. That’s NORMAL to feel angry. It’s NOT normal for you to be upset enough with me to censor my words or insist I do, however much you hate them. That’s how free speech and the free and open exchange of ideas works; some are discarded. Some are embraced. A rising tide raises all boats, from the battered dinghy to the super-sized yacht. The dinghy has no use, but the yacht does. And neither boat should tell the other its not valued in some capacity. That’s us.

There’s more, but over the course of the duration this blog is active, you’ll get the idea of my views, stances, and convictions. Especially on this last.

I remember during my childhood when I played outside and couldn’t wait for sleep-away summer camp sessions. I got dirty, ran around with kids all day, actually played in gigantic green dumpsters the NYC Sanitation lifted to dump the trash, brought home junk I thought I useful and could tinker with–including a set of chrome handlebars without a bike my mother made me throw back out. But I got my exercise, sun on my face, scraped knees, bruises all over, kicked ass when somebody picked a fight with me or picked on my sister (that was my job, haha), once beaned with a softball-sized-rock as big and I was lights out for a few minutes. I ran foot races, played hide-and-seek; tag, freeze tag, and TV tag, caught fireflies, fell out of trees; fell off walls; argued; got each other in trouble made up or sometimes didn’t, and came home when the street lights went on. I left the tub twice-bathed (the first time I was filthy and needed fresh water) and left a ring in the tub, but clean in my favorite pajamas, and ready for bed, barely able to keep m eyes open. But I discovered sunsets, the softness of twilight, a first (of many) kiss, after-dinner dance parties in the boys’ cabins during camp, and how I either played recorder or sung Taps over the camp’s PA for the close of day. And sung a tune for a girl to ease her post-break-up blues.

That was a time of wonder, promise, and adventure. When music–okay, four-on-the-floor disco, but that was on the outs and it was better than the slop out today–was the Eagles, Boz Skaggs, Gerry Rafferty, The Doobie Brothers, Supertramp, Heatwave, Crystal Gayle, and a little Michael Jackson. We knew not to take things past the point of know return, too scared of the unknown, never the serious ever too seriously, and too scared of the butt-whooping we’d get if we did go there. But none of this present nanny-state existed. None of this you-get-one-I-get-three quid pro quo was even on the horizon. Least not as kids. When people are free to do as they wish, what’s on the seamy side is exposed and rights itself, when left to be exposed. Too many cooks spoil the broth and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it are relevant for a reason. Nobody likes a helicopter parent. Don’t become that. And don’t insist authors do this because Mr. and Mrs. Molly-Coddled, Never-Told-No-Before can’t handle life outside their bubble-wrapped worlds, scared they’re too fragile for a “No,””Some other time,” or a flat out “Get the f— away from me!”

Freedom isn’t ever free, paid for in the price of lives laid down on any given battlefield. But the price of censorship is far greater, and those lives cost are in the form of creativity, beauty, inspiration. Which is worse: a lost life–or grey walls of dulled souls no longer vibrant and thrumming with the birth of song, or color, or life, of art? Of poetry, or love, of the heroes in the words that still men’s hearts, cold and quiet, unfeeling as concrete?

I’ve chosen. What say you?

Namaste.

~ Missye

Between the Pages: One Author’s Tribute to Her Influential Storytellers

In keeping this blog fresh with the #LifeBookWriting Challenge–yay, me for consistency, which should really roll over into my other blog on Publisher’s Marketplace–I was supposed to do the 6 Book Marketing Tips entry, but for several reasons I won’t: I’m not a rule-follower by nature (eat a dick, gravity and not being able to breathe underwater!); I’m still learning the finer points of marketing, most especially leaving the salesy ickyness out of it; and blogs all over cyberspace are teeming with information I’ll only repeat, since in indie publishing, a one-size-fits-most approach doesn’t work. And recent events changes this entry’s course, which was one where you DON’T see this all over the publishing angles of the Internet: Storytellers and authors who influenced my writing, fueled my imagination, and one author friend who talked this novelist down from the edge more than once kept me going when it seemed pointless.

This post is for the authors who died within the past fifteen years. Their works will live on, but having them in this plane is much more sweeter.

TOM CLANCY
Not one for military novels–his works like Rainbow Six, Patriot Games, and The Hunt For Red October were all optioned for movies and had great runsthey’re loaded with details the former servicemen-turned-author always put in his books. Clancy had found a niche, but never backed off telling thrillers that shone the United States government and its military in a scrutinizing light. But if the movie’s any indication why Red October was so widely received and popular, I can appreciate why his fan base will still readers long after his passing. (1947-2013)

MADELEINE L’ENGLE
The Newbery Medal and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award Winner for a book beginning with the love/hate line in storytelling world:–“It was a dark and stormy night …”–sure made A Wrinkle In Time a staple novel among sci-fi and fantasy fans. I haven’t read this book in a minute, but it’s not so much worth a revisit for research as it is for the sheer imagination of how L’Engle took a dreaded line, made a novel hers in a men-dominated science-fiction and fantasy genre few women authors broke ground in successfully, and set the foundation for young adult books when few then existed (mid 1960s). During a time in the industry when women authors were expected to put her initials on a book–S.E. Hinton, J.K. Rowling, H.A. Rey, et al; need I say more?–L’Engle, to put it simply, “did it her way” in a big way. She’ll always on my literary landscape. (1918-2007)

VINCE FLYNN
I first heard of him in the mid 1990s, roughly around the same time I’d heard about  Jurassic Park. After enjoying the rush of Memorial Day, Flynn hadn’t been on my TBR list in a time. Other authors crept in. Until cancer took him too young in 2013. But from how I understand it, the author’s novels were loosely parallel to the wildly popular Fox series 24, and Joel Surnow gave him several screen and script credits. I don’t know if Flynn’s books will re-appear on my TBR stacks, as I’m not a big fan of 3rd POV, but if he had some say in 24, he has some level of literary street cred. (1966-2013) 

ESTHER AVERILL
This American writer/illustrator was the one who sparked my renewed love for reading when I was eleven and hacked off nothing good was around to read. Known for her Jenny and The Cat Club stories, she also did The Fire Cat and “The School for Cats”  (I’m sensing a cat theme here, are you?). Set in New York City, the author sets up a clever way for the neighborhood cats to get together to socialize, and a perfect story for a shy child to express himself or herself in ways that begin a deep and adventurous friendship.  (1902-1992)

MICHAEL CRICHTON
When my mom first began reading The Andromeda Strain, I liked the title (c’mon, Andromeda? That name alone’s badass, but her mother was kind of a control freak bordering diva. Greek mythology, goddess of beauty whom Perseus had to save from the kraken–and how FOINE Harry Hamiln was in Clash of the Titans?  And speaking of Perseus, is Logan Lerman is a super-cute hottie from the Percy Jackson movies, or what? Ohhhh … right, Crichton. Sorry. Get me on cute guys, I’m like a squirrel on a ripe walnut :). ). But it wasn’t until hearing about this crazy scheme to build a park out of actual dinosaurs from DNA pulled from in a suspended mosquito in amber that got me curious (Jurassic Park).  A former MD, Crichton used his medical expertise to spin tales of what if in a biological sense–an unstoppable strain wiping out the planet, but it’s onboard your distant space station, too–or is it? He wove his stories with a balance of literary, ethics, imagination, theme, and wasn’t scared to go there with the antagonists–like Clancy, he saw them as the United States government–who thought they were good guys righting the world as it should be from their view. Another gone too soon.  (1942-2008)

PAULA DANZIGER
If Judy Blume put her stories on the literary landscape dealing with questions of life from a kid’s point of view, but sometimes left  more questions unanswered than resolved–and the first author to have her characters engage in sex as teens in Forever, as well as tackle a violent loss and moving on in Tiger Eyes–then Danziger was the one to put humor bordering on the ridiculous to serious topics (being overweight, popularity and peer pressure, divorce, standing up to what you believed in, managing family dynamics, dating somebody out of your circle, etc.). She, through her stories based on her niece’s experiences, made it okay to be different, her protagonists bold, truth-telling nonconformists, and struggle with it until they, and thus, the reader dealing with similar issues, had to find the courage in their own convictions–and stand on them, even if they stood alone. Just do it with gales of laughter through the sometimes tears. SCBWI definitely made a good choice in naming their Amber Brown Grants after her character of the series. (1944-2004)

SHARON CUPP PENNINGTON
And … we’re here.

I honestly thought I was fine up to this point–but then again, I didn’t personally know the aforementioned authors. All those were NYT best-sellers at one point or another, or won awards, honorary degrees, accolades to the Moon–which Has No Atmosphere, BTW :-)–and back.

I knew Sharon from a writing group I’d gotten involved with in 2008. One book rewrite, a few revisions, and hundreds of edits later, I’ve a product I’m not only fiercely proud of, but she graciously, diplomatically, and unbiasedly talked me down when other authors could take the shine off the sun with their feedback. I’m sure she felt like she was herding cats in this online group more than once over the years, and just had more heart, soul, charm, and prudence to know the difference to say what needed saying to parties involved.

But, privately, she told me how much she truly liked my Casebook characters, and, after reading the final draft in December 2013 and her final contact with me this November past, she realized how special they were and the story was. How excited she was for me the (now dead) book deal happened, and the book would see the light of day. She even liked the cover I detested. How’s that for a big-sister/writer-friend liking your refrigerator artwork when you don’t?

She died this past March after an extensive illness and complications rising from a car accident some years back. I only found out in early May. Time passed. I thought I was fine. I’m not. As with grief, some days are better than others, and each person works through it differently. But what really punched this in my throat for me: she was one of the rare, decent souls in this industry. I liken her to Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, where all she had was heart. Soul. Gentleness. A soft-spoken honestly in, like Scarlett didn’t know how much she’d need and miss Mellie until she died, I didn’t know how much I’d miss Sharon until she had gone.

Grief sucks, especially losing one of the few and far between kind authors this business could use much more of. But all I can do is somehow find the laughter in the tears, find the insanely ridiculous to grin at, and press on in my bold, truth-telling, nonconformist way. Her quiet power helped me do this. I’m forever grateful to do her this honor and the others on this #MemorialDay2016.

Much love, #BlueSkies, and tell hello to those other authors for me, Sharon!,
~ Missye

Latest Reads In My Kindle & Hard Copies

I’ve way too many books to read–like a girl with too many pairs of shoes, or handbags, or watches (guilty of this, too!)–but I’ve been a reader since I was three, and writing seriously thirteen years later. So it’s a given when writers write, they’re readers who

2016-05-20 21.03.30
From http://www.sonlight-design.com. Price: $30 + s/h. And you can buy these for families in need for lights at night to read by–or keep dangers and nightmares away.

read, too. And this post will be long, the next one, too. If you’ll indulge me, fantastic and I’m glad you’re reading. If not your cup of tea, thanks for stopping by and vaya con Dios.

On my Kindle Shelf:
• The Trials of Apollo
• Evicted
• Who Censored Roger Rabbit
• The A to Z of You and Me
• Right to Write
• Little House in the Big Woods

I’m thoroughly enjoying Riordan’s latest, called The Trials of Apollo. We’re following Apollo, twin to Artemis, the moon goddess to his sun god. Evidently, he did something pretty rotten to piss off his dad, Zeus, so he’s a four millennia-old god deemed to live out his existence as a sixteen-year-old guy. No powers. No gifts. And he’s befriended a quirky demi-god (in service, more like). Love it so far, despite its rife with pop culture and checked-box references, but I’m sad to see it end. I’m eager for Book 2 (releasing May 2nd, 2017 and ALREADY available for pre-order; YIKES!!!)–we don’t know why he irked Zeus, so there has to be a follow up. So while waiting on this–and the 8th Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, set for a July release in time for the play this story’s based on–I’ve moved onto other reads in varied stages of completion. Evicted highlights several low-income families during the author’s fourteen month, 2008-2009 study in an inner city of Wisconsin. I think this encapsulates what’s happening around the United States regarding housing, frankly.

Yep, kids, that Roger Rabbit movie was based on Gary K. Wolf’s book! But only the characters and the name are similar; the book’s VASTLY different from the movie. I’m only less than thirty pages into Who Censored Roger Rabbit, but that could be this book, written and published in the early 1980s, was done during a somewhat slower time: no computers, no cell phone, no Internet. As an author studying craft, it’s important I read things like this to let me know what NOT to do for every mystery or other story I pen. It’s a bit of a bore, I won’t lie, but I’ll get through it and report back.

Speaking of slower, but in an enthralling, nostalgic, reference-point way: Little House in the Big Woods.  Who’s NOT a fan of the Little House on the Prairie TV series Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books are based on. After having read Alison Arngrim’s Confessions of a Prairie Bitch in 2013–I highly recommend this, BTW–it was a lovely surprise to find Laura’s actual stories available on this gizmo we call an e-reader. Gadzooks! Pa’s playing his fiddle by lamplight, we’re reading about it by soft, mechanized backlight! I learned trees have blood (sap), her dad made sugar snow (you’ll have to read the story to know what that is), and I cracked up laughing at the picture of Laura and Mary playing with a blown-up pig bladder the girls had fun with as a balloon!

There’s a quietness about the stories, and how Laura managed to tell about her adventures in third person close is even more special. I think it said for the time a level of modesty about who she was and how she’d grown up with the Bible as their guide in everything they did from sun-up to sundown. I’m still on the first of the five books, and a nice visit to them from when I read these when I was a girl.

Hard Copies Shelf:
• The Book of Lost Things
• The Merchant of War (Pendragon, Book 1)
• 179 Ways to Improve Your Novel
• The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
• Writing with Quiet Hands
• Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us

See that neat lit cube? It’s called a Sonlight: a solar-powered, 10 LED-watt light source. Now I can read my hard copy books at night! And those copies, I’ll only summarize three of the six on my Hard Copies Shelf.

Thanks, But This Isn’t for Us tells writers across every aspect of their careers what not to do in their manuscripts. In many, many instances I agree with Jessica Page Morrell’s assessments in making sure my work runs like a fine watch in plot, story, characters, voice, setting, style, imagery, dialogue, no logic holes in said story, etc, etc. But I’m reading this from an editorial standpoint without having to pay for her services, as I’m indie publishing, I’m on a tight budget, and I’m just a friggin’ cheapskate. :). Her take-no-prisoners approach to the industry, be one seeking a traditional book contract, an agent, or going in the indie route like me, can benefit from this. Because at the end of the day, it’s the reader that’ll be discerning enough to share this product–which our works are–to keep reading me as an author or move onto another. Since I can edit pretty tight, I’m handling that role in my projects (a shoestring budget, indie publishing author, remember?), but when I have funds for an editor, no question she’ll rip me and work a new one. In a loving way where she “gets” my message, but puts a spit-shine on it of tidiness, naturally. When that day comes, get ready to call me Missye-San.

Like Julia Cameron’s amazing The Artist’s Way brand, in THE RIGHT TO WRITE, it’s much like WRITING WITH QUIET HANDS, but with gentle belief in the questioning reader/doubting emerging writer: “Can I really write, too? Who’s interested in my story? And, when all’s said and done, so what?”

The difference in Cameron’s book: You can write, so do it. You might not find commercial success, but don’t equate the art and the beauty of writing to that, because that’s why you shouldn’t begin/have begun writing in the first place. Focus on the JOY writing brings, the release, the catharsis. While Paula Munier’s WRITING WITH QUIET HANDS leans toward Cameron’s thesis in a pro-product, geared-to-the-business-side-of-selling-the-written-word POV–and there’s nothing wrong with that–Cameron’s arguing even if you might be a tone-deaf writer, like a tone-deaf singer won’t ever get a recording contract, that singer’s voice, and writer’s voice, though still terrible on a commercial level, isn’t any less valuable. Its sheer existence brings that value. And writing comes in a bazillion forms: topiary, ice sculptures, graffiti art, song-writing, poetry, flash fiction, plays, limericks, even meme posts, blog posts, copy-wrighting, ghost-writing, sky-writing, non-fiction, children’s books, speech-writing, haikus, travel writing, editorial cartoons. Not everyone can be a novelist, nor should they be. Not everyone can be a vocalist–but you can tune instruments, or conduct, or write sheet music. Find which way to write through the best medium in which you’re soulmates to, and do it as best you can.

My final read, I discovered in a FB book group I was sacked from (yes, again!), but I’m glad I left aware of D.J. MacHale‘s new to me Bobby Pendragon series. As a fan of series’ long reads, and still Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and The Olympians hungover, THE MERCHANT OF WAR opens promisingly for me. I’ve still got to make time to read this, but the story premise blends my love of fantasy, mystery, adventure, a male protagonist, first POV, interdimensional intrigue and possible espionage, and–my personal favorite!–ORIGINALITY! NONCONFORMIST WRITING! Writing what MacHale wanted to read, not what the market said to do, and he listened to his sister’s nephew’s feedback, too! Oooah!!!

Time to go, and thanks for reading this far. I’ll be back next time with SIX BOOK PROMOTION TIPS, according to the #LifeBooksWriting challenge. This is a good thing: keeps this blog fresh, I’m writing consistently again, and you get to know more about me without my coming across as an arrogant bitch of a windbag. #360Win.

Later, y’all. Stay awesome.

~ Missye

 

My Attic Bedroom: Where the Writing, Reading, and Dreaming Magic Happens–on a Casper®

Playing–and on repeat–on Spotify: “Dawn” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

Okay. It’s been a minute since my last post. Sorry for that. I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to write anymore and I got tired of topics to talk about that didn’t involve #DonaldTrump  or #KillaryHinton or endless talk about my book, the writing life, blah, blah :).

This week’s post–actually, since I’m behind on a challenge called #LifeBooksWriting which should keep this portal fresh for the rest of 2016–will be two for the price of one. So grab your favorite cup of green or Darjeeling or dark blend roast, sit back, and enjoy!

**~~** **~~** **~~** **~~** **~~**

My room isn’t much to marvel at, to be honest. I do love it’s an attic bedroom; I hate hiking two flights of stairs to get here from the ground floor. I workout in here, dream, sleep, read, and write in here. I watch TV in here–when I’m procrastinating on my next writing task, like updating this blog, for instance–make love with my husband in here, yell at talk radio cuts in here, yell louder during workouts, and cuss harder than that paying bills the stupid things still won’t obey and pay themselves.

And my Casper‘s got all of this. (No, this isn’t a shameless schill for a company with a fantastic product I’m not seeing a dime in profit for, but when you get some badass REM sleep from your bed, it’s definitely worth bragging about. And all the money in the world can’t pay for a great night’s rest. Did I also mention I’m almost name-orgasming over the name Casper? And Logan? Okay, that’s a shameless plug for my #Casebook suspense mysteries, but you knew I had to slip that in somewhere.)

I compose in this attic bedroom. I pray in this wee alcove in the sky with its should-be condemned status, moments I’m as close to God in here as I would be atop Mt. Everest. I dance to awesome beats from iHeart Radio’s ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, Prince tribute, AT40 tunes, or Spotify jams blasting from my harmon / kardon wireless.

I sing in here, dress and undress for a time in the shower or a bubble bath soak–downstairs, not in here!–and I plan to play clarinet and acoustic in here. But for the acoustic plans, I might not get to play that in here; I may be moving before they finish my custom build. Oh the damnation of being a southpaw!

The walls: White. Covered in my roadmap for my second Casebook mystery, a Looney Tunes poster of a pool hall scene, an LED sign advertising “Casper’s Bar” (No, I’m not making that up. Still don’t believe me? Here you go. You’re welcome.), and a framed picture of the central “Classic 39” Honeymooners cast. Floor: institution gray, wooden slats seeing better days. Space in general: Crammed with crap semi-bordering on hoarder’s status, but I didn’t want furniture here. Furniture equals groundedness. I’m a transient, and I live that way.

So, that’s my room. Again: not much to look at, but this is the place–be it sitting, writing, singing, praying, paying bills, stretching, reading, thinking, sleeping and dreaming atop my Casper–where the magic happens. Thanks for the visit. One thing I’ve yet to do in here: entertain other company. Now you reading this, are my first. Welcome, and I’ll have for you a refreshing drink shortly. You’ll definitely want to stay a while.

~ Missye

Beyond the Jacket Copy: An Interview with Author Missye K. Clarke, Part One

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Here’s a quick opportunity to get to know me as an author, a writer, and an average Jane Palooka. I hope this gives you some insight in more to me than being a mere storyteller. Like you expect a fantastic story to let you forget life for a little while, that can’t happen unless you know about the author beyond the jacket copy. So, without further ado, here’s The Interview, Part One.


Who were your favorite authors to read during your childhood?

Hmmm. So many to list, it’s almost impossible to narrow the field. When I was seven, it was Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur (An “I Can Read!” book), The Story About Ping, The Case of the Cat’s Meow, and Where the Wild Things Are. At eleven, it was Jenny and the Cat Club; at thirteen, it was Susan (S.E.) Hinton’s The Outsiders, Tex, and Jane Emily, by Patricia Clapp. Evntually, although they’re for children, The Great Brain Series is a fantastic collection of hilarious stories about a Catholic family in Mormon country, Utah, in 1898, with a clever boy named Tom Dennis who was as much a money cheat as he was in breathtaking intelligence in lessons and solving some town dilemmas. Of course, find these tales on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Strand Bookstore, and other outlets where fine books are sold.

You mentioned one of the titles, The Case of the Cat’s Meow. Did that spark your love for mysteries?

Partly. I thought it a very cool story (no spoilers here!), but it was my mom who got the mystery bug in me. I’d tried reading Nancy Drew, but found myself drawn to Joe and Frank Hardy, instead. More action, adventure, and BOLD protagonists. Nancy was a girly-girl, her mom’s girl. For the time, it was expected for a girl to “know her place” as a female, and when she was done with solving mysteries, keep her skirts clean, and go for an ice cream sundae to celebrate. YEEECH!! Totally not me. Besides, I was too much a tomboy to enjoy Nancy, oo I read The Hardy Boys mysteries. Four, I think. Might be time to pay the fellas another visit. And my mom, God rest her, read Ellery Queen magazine often. I tried to read them when I was sixteen, but torn between a quartet of loves–reading, budding writing, music, and raging hormones over boys–(**laughs**) that took a backseat, unfortunately.

In your perfect world, what’s an ideal mystery  you’d read?

Fantastic question! I think I’m crafting one now. Called The Threesome Of Magic Mysteries, I’m blurring genre lines with mystery, fantasy, and lots of–shall we say for the sake of G audiences reading this–adult face time involved with the plot (**she winks slyly**). I’m one for bending rules into pretzel forms to the point they don’t break, and if it does … then so it does. But this is more speculative fiction than anything else, as not only is the plot based on a dream I’d had, but that I’m also a character (Missye Maroon, at your service) in the story–and another of my characters from my Casebook mysteries is my  fellow amateur sleuth. No, I won’t tell you who it is, that’s cheating. And–in the voice of “Isaiah Edwards” from Little House on the Prairie–“I won’t stand for no cheatin’!”

…But seriously, I’d like to read and write a mystery with as original a plot as I can find, with characters  I’d love to have as real-life best friends, and o let adults go on these fantastic adventures as kids do when they first discover the joy of reading and the wonder the stories hold. This magic shouldn’t ever stop just because we kids have grown up and started worrying about home financing and keeping the light bill paid.

I ask this out of respect for you, but … you seem–how to put this nicely–so energetic on the page. Do you worry this might alienate your readers?

Not at all. Apart from the fact I’m born under the astrological sign Gemini (another topic for another post!) I was Netflix-binging on Ken Burns’s documentary about the Roosevelts, earlier this year, and saw, to my surprise, Teddy (known then as T.R.) was boundless with energy. In the above photo of Theodore Roosevelt, his hands are  fisted. He doesn’t do this from anger, but he’d had such energy, he had to hold his hands still for photographs. I’m much the same, as is one of my McGuinness boys. I’ve had unchecked A.D.D./A.D.H.D. for as long as I can remember, and it’s impossible for me to contain my energy some days. Others, I’ll sit quietly or work on falling asleep, but my mind’s still racing, thoughts flying, and I can’t type or write as fast as the thoughts go or drift off as I’d like. With my A.D.D., is it a job to get my ducks in a row for a novel? Brother, you’re not kidding; I’m half-shocked I can sit still long enough to finish such a project, let alone do another! (**grin**). Which is why I’m begging my husband to get me a swim membership for the Y, in addition to organics to corral this energy. Or I’m good with a trampoline, that works, too. And more adult face-time. And like Teddy R., he read everything, got into exercise, and just never stopped going, going, going. You could say without a hitched eyebrow Theodore Roosevelt could’ve been the Original Energizer Bunny.

What’re your thoughts on the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia

Oooo, another good question! Wow, you can’t get more pelican brief, can ya? A high U.S. official, dead in his bed, unrumpled bedclothes and pajamas with a pillow over his face, no investigation, no detectives, no DNA, no autopsy, bodily fluids extracted before toxicology panels could be run, secluded ranch, the “official story” kept changing over the course of a few days, and the cause of death is declared by a federal official, (huh?!?), landmark cases to soon be decided on and he’d be one of the swing votes, maybe … Come on (she says in her heavy New York City accent), this is the stuff supreme mystery novels are built on, only it’s real. And scary as hell, especially since the family members, when asked about Scalia, were zipped tighter than a body bag on the topic of how their family member, just checked by his doctor a week before, suddenly died on a remote Texas ranch. That ranch, by the way, two hours outside of cell or Internet service and in one of the more corrupt counties in the Lone Star State.

This reeks of a full-out cover up of a murder. And it’s taken a supermarket gossip rag to bring out the truth the once-proud mainstream journalism would’ve been falling all over itself to investigate and compete for prizes for. An even deeper mystery: why is the mainstream press so silent on this? Do they know something we don’t–or shouldn’t? What are they hiding to keep Scalia’s death as a “Nothing to see here, move along, please!” attitude about it.

Yes, it’s a mystery, every aspect of it. Yes, I suspect Justice Scalia had been assassinated. No, I don’t believe the “official story,” anymore than I believe OJ didn’t kill Nicole and Ron. Yes, something shady went on and why we’ve not read anything more about it, especially under suspicious circumstances, is fully confounding as the reasons behind the SCOTUS’s death in the first place.

So find it no surprise why more authors than ever before are writing mysteries. Truth is stranger than fiction, of course. But as long as truth like this keeps coming at society, the fiction will continue.

~ Missye

Part Two of this Interview will be posted on Thursday.serveimage

#TrumpOrBust: Why This Author Is All In for The Donald

10626596_10154535515590725_8406776879092171790_nI’m a novelist. And it’s been said, often, writers shouldn’t express their feelings on politics, religion, and other hot-button topics some could deem third rail in book or story sales.
But that depends on how said topics are handled–and probably another good blog post for a later time. Still, writers and other creatives must have a say in their country’s political processes, as those decisions in their country’s or state’s capitals affect them greatly. Personally, I think the one who crafted the Never argue religion or politics line was probably one who lost the argument too many times to admit, and issued said statement to keep his head held high. But I digress.
Let’s press on!

I understand why some of you prefer certain candidates. Here’s the breakdown, brilliantly told by KSFO talk show host and retired meteorologist, Brian Sussman, during his stand on for natioanally syndicated talk giant, Michael Savage of The Savage Nation on 4 March 2016:

Carson (@RealBenCarson–and announced the end of his campaign at the 2016 CPAC conference, sadly): soft-spoken, Christian, never engaged in the playground name-calling others did, gracious, diplomatic–but his platform was lost in the media-ratings game shuffle, and he never gained traction in the polls from his late fall polling surge;
Cruz (@tedcruz): A “true conservative Constitutionalist” who appeals to those under that dome, those on the right (debatable he is as more details emerge, but for now, we’ll leave this so);
Rubio (@marcorubio): for those who want Establishment politicians running things, and prefer this apple cart to stay where it is at the expense of everyone and everything in America;
Kasich (@JohnKasich): appeals to the “Casper Milquetoasts”–erm, middle-of-the-road moderates–in the GOP;
Hillary (@HillaryClinton): because she’s a woman; she has no other record to run on BUT this. Unless they wish to ignore her numerous scandals, Benghazi and Deletegate, to name two of many;
Sanders: (@BernieSanders): make college free and the rich “pay their fair share,” but he, nor his supporters, never explained what happens when said rich move their money elsewhere;
Trump: (@realDonaldTrump) representing why/how/where/when and how deep the aforementioned have failed the PlainJoes and PlainJanes across the country, and how We the People are fed up as hell with the status quo and aren’t taking it anymore.
I see the logic in those reading this why so-and-so is your guy or gal. Or you prefer no one at all. While I disagree with you, I respect your rational and reasons why you hold yours. But here’s why I’m putting my support behind Trump.

In 1980, I was fourteen when Reagan campaigned and was elected; in 1984 when I was eighteen and voted for the first time, Reagan won his second landslide as President. But before his election, the GOP during the Carter admin didn’t do SQUAT for double-digit inflation in food and energy costs, there were double-digit interest rates, his foreign policy attempts were disastrous–and why we’re in a bog as big as Jupiter with Middle East relations today–and the Elephant Party pretty much gave us Ford after Nixon acted the fool. They also did next to nothing to free Americans from Iran for 444 days. I remember this as if it this were yesterday.

Was Reagan perfect? Hell no! Is Trump perfect? Well, as none of us are, I’ll guess you can reach that conclusion on your own. But like Reagan then and Trump today, both men were as close to perfect as we got in tackling the chance to gut an over-bloated gov’t as able in eight years, keep the Constitution intact, trade taxed accordingly, laws being enacted and enforced, and people left alone for the most part. The economy boomed for a good dozen years during and after Reagan’s Presidency, the fed debt was low, and people had money to spend. But most of all, they were left alone without Big Nanny Gov’t in every aspect of their lives to tell them what to do and not do.

Reagan also changed his positions when he learned the other side of the story in certain issues he’d supported (being pro-choice to pro-life, for instance). And how the private sector is far better in creating jobs than any government welfare or federal program can empower anyone. (Case in point: where are those “Summer of Recovery ” jobs Joe Biden said would materialize in 2011? Yeah, I don’t see them, either. And imagine being dictated when to buy food via a food-stamp card? I think not. Mind, I’m not saying all welfare programs are bad; they’re best for those down-and-out and fallen on hard times. But it’s not meant or intended to be generational, ongoing, or used in lieu of actual employment.).

I’m for Trump, not because he’s a business guy, will get the southern border wall built and make Mexico pay for it, will help create much-needed jobs and income, can keep a budget. I’m not for him because he’s a Gemini like me, from NYC like me, speaks in a street-fighter way like I’ve done all my life–living in that town, it’s almost a pre-req to do that! :)–and gut aspects of this leviathan gov’t sinking the nation (though all those things help). I’m for Donald J. Trump because for years, both parties played games with We the People long enough. He’s not a politician–and that’s what many in America want! He’s a verbal Mohammed Ali, a verbal street-fighter the world needs to see and lead through upcoming tumultuous times the previous leaders–the metrosexuals, the Ivy League’d professors, the soft-spoken gentlemen–instigated this mess in the first place. He’s a father figure, a manly man, a person who sees winning as a good thing.  How many people since the 1980s grew up without a strong male role model? How many women see Trump as a strong, heroic leader they never had an example to look to? Why do you think ladies like me like a rough, tough-talking, rugged guy? It embodies strength, power, FIGHT! And heaven knows this country is begging for that. Sure he’s got an ego; you need one to be in business for as long as Trump has. Since when is having a level of ego wrong? From the ruling class who has this in spades, yet sees themselves lording our lives over us? Do I care he’s not spouting the Constitution or his relationship with God on his sleeve? No. We’ve so many bigger fires to fight on the front; Trump’s faith in God is between him and the Creator–and I’m going on face value he and the Man Upstairs are tight. Did Moses not have some in his tribe hold his arms up when he grew weary? So, too, will we the people hold Trump up and accountable when that time comes. It’s our duty to do so, be you Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, or whichever.
I’m for Trump because average people like you and me–rule-abiding, raising families, not looking to game the system, work every day, paying your bills, feeding your kids, without connections, etc.–are SICK AND DAMN TIRED of the empty promises and BS rhetoric coming from both sides of the aisle. We the People are tossing the Establishment Elites out on their collective asses for this monster they created–and they hate those for personifying in Trump in their resentment toward them. There’s an uprising like never before. The Day of Political Reckoning is here. Yet the ruling elite will do anything to curtail this tideswell.
But did you ever consider: maybe this is what God wants? I think so. Because seriuously: if you don’t have Borders! Language! Culture! . . . the Constitution won’t matter much a damn. This isn’t to put down Ted Cruz’s stances on the nation’s document. But he hasn’t said much on the borders-language-culture issues, and for that, to me, makes the Constitution unimportant now. Close the borders. Then worry about the laws and the messes within them.
Trump embodies the anger I’ve had for the Establishment since 1980. They kept my wages low. They helped keep my taxes high. They gamed the system he didn’t do, we didn’t do, played by the rules set up IN that system–and they’re trying to take him down for exposing the flaws the Establishment elite created. #TrumpOrBust. But not if I help hold The Doanld’s arms up, politically speaking and in earnest prayer, like Aaron did for Moses.
Thanks much for reading. A more light-hearded post will be up shortly.
~ Missye

I Enter the Indie Pub Universe, Part 2 & Conclusion

Where we last left our intrepid author, she was relishing the glow of her decision, three weeks old tomorrow, to end her relationship with a house seeking her McGuinness / Pedregon Casebook suspense mysteries. Has our daring cougar heroine kept her courage? Is she second-guessing her decision? Is she deciding to call it quits on this writing life and deciding to take up quilting, instead?

**cue in organ music.**

No, I’m not taking on quilting; I’m lucky if I can handle a simple base stitch and darn clothing with holes in them. But–and I’m being honestly serious about this–either I’m due for another vacation (the one I took in December, one long month from writing, editing, or anything craft-related–did me a world of good . . .)

Or it really is time to pull the plug on this business and find something else to do?

I mean, I’m feeling crowded out. Not so much shoved aside for something better, but with many people writing nowadays, there’s more books out than anyone could possibly read. I’m shelling out dough to recoup a fraction of said spendings. I know I’m good, but so are thousands of others jockeying for the Amazon Kindle top, middle, hell, even bottom, lists these days.

And the deeper rot-gut of this writing life: pardon my language, but why the fuck must other writers be so damn nasty to another of their fellow scribes? I don’t give a rat’s ass how lousy your day’s been; someone else’s has been worse. And put your lousy day in perspective: you’re still breathing. You have your health someone else might not. You have what others might not; you might not have what others do.

You’re alive. That’s reason enough to take a step back, rather than be into your feelings like you’re a tantrum-throwing child in a store making as epic a scene as the kid possibly can do. When a kid does it, it’s admittedly annoyingly amusing, but definitely worth a laugh. When somebody full grown does it, it’s just ass-rot pathetic. Or a meds adjustment, and in which case: Cue in the cute doctors in clean white coats!

One of my biggest passions in life, apart from writing, is music. And customer service. And animals, acting in plays, singing–anything creative, pretty much. But I really get a kick out of being in public: helping people, giving them information, teaching (in my old life, I’d been an Explainer with the New York Hall of Science from 1988-1994). And lemme tell ya, I had a blast. I also worked as a concession girl for a movie theater in a small Arizona town, as a Hardware Associate for Home Depot, and went for a job as concession for Harry M. Davis for the New York Mets when Shea Stadium was not yet Citi Field.

So what’s this leading to? I freaking love interacting with the public–be it acting or transacting sales–and feed off that energy. I’m as nice as pie with them, too. Provided I’m not provoked. But of course, there’s always one or two jackasses in some capacity to see if they can needle me. Almost always never works, but then . . .

It does. Writers do, too.

I was sacked last week from an FB group called Indie Authors Group. Why? Because one writer got snippy I showed too much cheek in my “legal expertise”–that’s knowhow and insight to those of you in #RioLinda 😉–and without as so much as a how-do-you-do, I was out.

I only mentioned knowing something about copyright laws, libel suits hard to prove to win, and what writers were allowed to use and not use, and that, since I’m part of two writing orgs with legal eagles in their newsletter “Ask A Lawyer” columns–and one who happened to be a former Queensboruogh Community College prof of mine–I said as much.

Guess people don’t like cheek. Or my brand of it, anyway.

I’m not complaining (much), mind you. But writers, if you want people to be nice to you, for fuck’s sake, it won’t kill you to BE NICE BACK! We’re all damn grown folks here, so ACT LIKE IT!!!

Or suffer the consequences.

Be mean to a flight attendant, a server, a bartender, she will spit in your drink or take a lick of your food before you get it; I’ve seen it and once or twice, admit to committing my share of it as a health bar barista a decade ago. Keep being mean to a cat, a dog, a bird, you’ll never be trusted again. Rotten teacher? You’ll be out of a job more often than taking attendance. Jerk neighbor? Kids will turn your house into a condemned site come Halloween. Ever heard the expression, “Don’t piss off the chef?” That, kids. Be nice to the cook because you don’t know if that delicious New York strip done to order was on the floor a half hour before.

We’re not just consumers, we’re fellow writers. Be an asshole to one of us,or another reader, that’s the surest way to not get a book sold, as BAD word of mouth will break you as GOOD word of mouth will make you.

Have you heard the horror tales of how editors, when liquor’s loosened their ties, belts, and tongues considerably, dish the dirt on hopeful authors who were great or made themselves the east end of a westbound horse after the hopefuls have gone to bed? Oh, my daffodils, they do. And they will decide to give a contract or not based on your conduct, professionalism, tact, you having your shit together, not just acting like one who does on TV or boasting about it on paper in theory. Show a modicum of restraint to those reps of the publishing industry–agents, editors, publishers, etc.–do the same with your peers. If you can’t behave with some level of professionalism, please make space for somebody who can. Because we don’t need people like you.

Yet when did it get OK for other writers to be pills to their fellow scribes? From that single FB experience–always only takes one, doesn’t it?–I not only will never read a book of hers, but one of her fellow admins who tossed me without so much as a heads-up won’t be in my library, either. Character counts more than you being able to weave a damn good tale. There’s too many of us out here that can do that, and be as gracious as a long-awaited perfect spring day than to you nursing a perpetually nasty-ass disposition.

In case you might’ve noticed, I’m hard-hitting. Liken my candor to being in a verbal cage match. Like Donald J. Trump. We’re from the same city and we’re both Geminis. We’re embarrassingly honest. And we like it that way.

But, Missye, weren’t you gonna mention that part 2 of your sacked contract?

Yeah, I’m getting to that. Thanks for indulging me.

Even after I felt it coming, I honestly felt like a loser with a branded L in my tuckus when the reality of being cut loose from the house set in. Any relationship that ends, good or bad, is a death. And I had to properly mourn that loss. But this loss was particularly hard. Like losing a first job you didn’t much care for, or breaking up with a rotten sweetheart, in or out of the sack. Least you had that to complain about. Better to have a rotten hell than no hell at all. Right?

Wrong.

So said the boys in my life–my husband, Peter; my son, Jordan; my “little book brother” Jay Vincent; and my book beaux, Casper and Logan–all told me I’d done the right thing, that I can tell the stories not only how I want them to, but craft them how I want them to look. And the readers will come–for the voice, for the imagination, for the ______. Oh, and all five of the fellas told me,”Don’t settle!”  emphatically and unanimously.

“You’re better than that, Mom.” (from my son Jordan, a.k.a. “Jay”).

“You got this, Starshine!” (a pep-talk from Logan).

“Keep going, Snowflake. The world needs your voice as only you can play that music you do. And I need yours, too.” (from Logan’s cousin, Casper.)

“Honey, you’re too good to quit. Don’t let that house’s mediocrity hold you down; they knew they had better than what they’re used to.” (said input my husband, Peter.)

“I can’t sleuth without you, Big Sister. Who’s gonna help me referee those McGuinness assclowns I call best friends?” (my “little book brother,” Jay Vincent Pedregon.)

And the coup’ de’ ta:

“No matter where you go, I will be there with you. And yes, child, I changed my mind having you in that place. I have better for you. Trust in Me.”–God.

Well, now. I guess I’ll keep writing.

Thank you for reading. Come on by often and keep me company.

~ Missye

 

 

 

 

 

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