the Unending Journey of the Wandering Author

A chronicle of the unending journey of the Wandering Author through life, with notes and observations made along the way. My readers should be aware I will not censor comments that disagree with me, but I do refuse to display comment spam or pointless, obscene rants. Humans may contact me at thewanderingauthor at yahoo dot com - I'll reply as I am able.

Location: New England, United States

I have always known I was meant to write, even when I was too young to know the word 'author'. When I learned that books were printed, I developed an interest in that as well. And I have always been a wanderer, at least in my mind. It's not the worst trait in an author. For more, read my writing; every author illuminates their heart and soul on the pages they write upon.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is Amazon Seeking to Dominate Small Presses?

Thanks to Fiction Scribe, I discovered an article which details the attempts by to use their dominant position in book sales to force independent publishers to contract with a POD provider Amazon owns, one which seems to generate a lot of customer complaint.

The expansion of opportunity provided by the Internet and POD (Print-on-Demand) technology aids small presses, offers more alternative titles to readers, and expands publishing opportunities for writers. Competition is the only way this expanded opportunity can continue to thrive, benefiting everyone. Now, all this opportunity appears to be threatened by Amazon.

Should a huge corporation be allowed to squeeze larger profits out of the crushed hopes and dreams of small press owners, authors, and readers everywhere? I don't think so. I have already contacted both of my US Senators, asking them to pass on this information to the United States Department of Justice for investigation as a possible violation of anti-trust laws. I have also asked them to pass this information on to the appropriate committee members who may be able to initiate hearings into the matter.

I encourage all of my readers who agree that a free press is a healthy press to contact their own elected representatives to express their concerns. Amazon is a multi-national company, and should be investigated in any country in which it does business. In the meantime, remember, there are other places to obtain books than

In fact, thanks to Amazon's own efforts, Amazon is no longer the best place to find any book - only books published by those who will concede to Amazon's unjust demands. So, please, forgo convenience, forget free shipping (although Barnes & Noble often offers this as well), and get your books anywhere except! You can also sign this petition to protest Amazon's tactics.

And spread the word! If you have a blog, write a post about this yourself. Tell your friends. Amazon is seeking to do this in secret; they seem to have an aversion to putting this policy in writing. Let's do it for them; get the whole story on record, across the Internet, so everyone knows the truth about Amazon and what they're trying to do. Don't let this happen quietly, unless you want a single corporation to dominate publishing and control what you can and cannot read.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Wake Up, Little Susie

This story is my entry for the "This Post Blows My Dress Up Contest". For the curious, I also posted a few notes on the story's origin (spoiler alert!) below.

Ralph groaned, trying to stretch his legs out. He was barely awake, and nothing was making sense. It was dark, but he was awfully cramped. He vaguely remembered taking Susie to the drive-in, but the date had been a disaster. They were both awkward, not sure what to say. And the movie! It was awful, a Western as dull and aimless as the dust the horses kicked up. With no distraction, the silence between them grew heavy and thick.

Then, during the break, when they’d gone for candy, Cokes, and popcorn, a bunch of creeps standing by the counter had scared Susie.

Their voices were loud, showing off. “...a steel hook. The killer was some guy missing a hand!”

“Then he got a couple of dumb kids parked under the trees right over there.” A tall boy with dark, slicked back hair jerked his thumb in the direction Ralph and Susie had just come from.

“Yeah? What happened?”

“Nobody knows for sure. The sheriff found their car the next day. It had blood all over the inside, and scrapes on the roof and door handles from the killer’s hook. But they never caught him.”

Susie was tugging at his hand. “Ralph, I don’t really feel like anything. Can we go back, please?”

He really wanted a Coke, but he just nodded and walked her to his car. She locked her door and hugged herself, shivering. “Do you think...”

Ralph didn’t let her finish. “Susie, if your folks thought it was dangerous, do you think they’d have let you come out here with me?” He tried to make his voice reassuring.

Still, while talking, he quietly locked his own door. He’d heard a few whispers. Something happened out here a few years ago, something no one ever talked about. The sheriff seemed to spend a lot of time out this way. Some guys said they’d seen a big man with a loose sleeve, on the fringes of town at twilight. And there were other stories about a killer with only one hand who roamed these woods. So he wasn’t sure what to think.

He didn’t tell Susie any of that, of course. He just leaned back in his seat and talked, calming her. She answered once or twice, a few words. They’d rolled up the windows, and the air grew heavy and warm. His eyelids felt heavy, too. Then what? He must have driven Susie home. Hadn’t he?

A sharp scrape, then another, sliced through his fuzzy thoughts, shocking him awake. Icy tingles raced down his spine. He was still in his car. Susie was slumped at the far end of the seat. There was that noise again! He set his hand on her shoulder and shook her as he whispered hoarsely, “Susie, wake up!”

Her head flopped to one side. Was that a shadow on her throat, or bruises? He shook her again, harder. “Susie! Susie! Wake up!”

She didn’t move or even groan. Was she breathing? His own pulse thundering in his ears, he couldn’t be sure. Slowly, he reached for the front of her sweater, face hot. He felt a wet, slightly sticky patch under his finger, and jerked his hand back. Without thinking, he flung open his door and raced out into the dark, arm up to ward off the branches that slashed at him. He swerved to avoid the trees, feet skidding on thick layers of needles.

He nearly fell more than once. Finally, he could go no further. His breath rasped in and out, and he couldn’t hear if anyone followed. His mouth was dry, and he longed for that Coke. He bent over, trying to catch his breath. He strained to listen, but the night was full of small sounds. Any one of them could be the killer.

One corner of his mind wailed that it didn’t matter. Little Susie was dead. He’d never watch her walk down the street again, dark hair swaying. He’d never again see her clear blue eyes spark with mischief. But another, sterner part grimly reminded him if he didn’t escape, the killer would get away with what he did to Susie. That was a reason to live at least a little bit longer.

Ralph went on quietly, determined to reach town and the shelter of the sheriff’s tiny office. After a while, it occurred to him that he might just be wandering in circles under the pines. Without a view of the sky, he had nothing to steer by. Still, he ought to keep moving. That way, he had at least a chance of stumbling on the road back to town. Not long after deciding that, he heard a soft sound in the distance.

He moved toward it as silently as he could. His heart pounded, blood rushing in his ears. As he approached, the noise became clearer, a thin whimper. Ralph thought he might faint. The killer must have found someone else while he was blundering around. He wanted to rush in, but he stooped and felt around until his fingers touched a jagged rock. He pried it loose from the soil and gripped it tightly.

He crept forward until a dry stick snapped under his foot. He froze. A quavering voice broke the silence. “Please... just leave me alone. We never did anything to you.”

“Susie?!” The rock fell at his feet. All of a sudden, Ralph remembered hearing her mother complain that Susie slept like the dead. Another time, he might have laughed.

“Ralph? Is that you? I thought you were dead!” The next moment, she was in his arms, clinging to him, sobbing. He held her until his shoulder and most of the front of his shirt were soaked.

“I heard something... And I couldn’t wake you. I thought...” His voice broke.

“I was scared silly!”

“I know. So was I!” Ralph drooled sometimes when he slept sitting up. That must be what he’d felt. Face burning again at the memory of where he’d felt it, he said nothing more.

“Let’s just get out of here!”


They wrapped arms around each other as they walked, slowly, over the soft carpet of needles. Once, Ralph stopped and found a stick to probe the ground with, after Susie nearly tripped on a jutting root. They talked in hushed voices, and their laughter was shaky at first, but fear had shattered the barrier between them, and they were so caught up in each other, they noticed nothing else until they came to a small clearing.

The faint gleam of starlight permitted a glimpse of a tall house from the last century, dark and shuttered. It seemed intact but lifeless, except for an owl darting past the small cupola down towards where they stood.

“Look! That’s the old Lemmer place.”

Ralph’s older brother had made him shudder for years, spinning tales of the deserted old house and the ghosts that lurked there. No one remembered the name of the wealthy eccentric from New Orleans who built it. His whole family died of something dreadful right after they moved in. Then a rancher named Lemmer bought it, and after all the Lemmers were wiped out by the Spanish flu, nobody wanted to live there anymore.

“Yeah, I guess it is.” His mouth felt even drier than before.

“Want to look around a little?”

Ralph nearly choked. Still, he didn’t want to sound too afraid, not when Susie wasn’t. “You think we should?”

“I mean, I know this sounds silly, but after thinking a killer dragged you away, it’s hard to be afraid of a few ghosts. Besides, I’m thirsty. Maybe the pump in the kitchen still works.”

“Some water would be nice.” He meant that. In fact, the more he thought about the possibility, the less he feared ghosts.

“Good, as long as we’re careful.”

Ralph was already starting toward the house.

“Ralph, wait!” She ran to catch up with him, and snatched his hand to hold him back. “It has been sitting empty a long time. Some of the boards could have rotted.”

“Oh. Right.” He hesitated. “In fact, no one around here would dare go in, but if a tramp was passing through, he might not know about the place. He might think it was a good shelter.”

Susie nodded. “I didn’t think of tramps.”

They slipped through the clearing and up onto the rear porch. Ralph was able to ease the door open with no trouble. The area beyond seemed to be a sort of hallway or pantry. Ralph stepped inside and fumbled along the shelves near the entry. He kept his exclamation soft. “Thought so!”

“What is it?”

“A candle and matches, so we can see in here.”

“It is dark, isn’t it? Even worse than the woods.”

In reply, Ralph struck a match and held the flame to the wick of the dusty candle. It sputtered, then caught, and he curled his hand around it. Thick dust lay everywhere, but there were scuff marks leading here and there. Ralph jerked his head at them.

“See? It looks like tramps do use this place.”

“Now I’m a little afraid again. But I am thirsty.”

“We’ll just look around a bit first, be sure no one else is here.”

Susie clung tightly to his hand as he led her deeper into the house. By instinct, he followed the scuffed trails that already existed. They crossed the huge kitchen. Ralph could see the pump against the far wall, but he wasn’t willing to risk the noise he knew it would make until he was sure they were alone. They stepped into a wide hall that seemed to run all the way to the front of the house.

They stopped, at the same moment, and looked at each other, faces pale. A noise, almost too faint to be heard, troubled the air here, a deep regular sound like the beating of a vast heart. It was more a vibration than an actual sound. Ralph wondered if it was only his own heart again. Susie must have thought of the same thing, because she gave him a gentle nudge forward.

With every step, the noise grew slightly stronger, kathunk, kathunk, kathunk, kathunk....


At Susie’s strangled whisper, he looked around. The skirt of her thin dress was billowing, blowing up to offer sudden glimpses of her legs. He looked away quickly, then wondered where the wind was coming from. Glancing at her feet, he saw a grate set into the floorboards, the kind used in old houses to allow heat to rise from one floor to another. The deep thumping seemed to come from there as well.

“What is it?”

“Just a heating grate. But why is there warm air coming out of it?”

“I don’t have any idea! Let’s get out of here, Ralph!”

Before he could answer, the thumping sound suddenly grew louder. Now, it sounded like machinery. Ralph squeezed Susie’s hand while pinching out the candle with the fingers of the other hand.


Susie didn’t answer. Ralph suspected she was too frightened even to make a sound. He wished he could reassure her, but he needed to know what was going on first. He crouched down, over the grate, and tilted his head. The rhythmic noise was muffled again, but a faint glow outlined the opening. Ralph held his breath and crouched lower. Susie was crouching beside him, clinging to his hand.

The light grew brighter, and a moment later, two men came into view, one of them big and ugly, his right arm ending in a hook that gleamed in the light of the lantern swinging from it. The other man was younger, slender and handsome. Ralph thought he’d seen him around town a few times. Both men leaned against a stone wall. They were both sweating, and seemed weary.

Ralph didn’t move, and he felt Susie stiffen beside him. The shadows near the ceiling of the basement below were probably thick, but he feared any movement might draw the attention of the men standing there. He tried not to breathe, terrified he might suddenly need to sneeze. Snatches of conversation drifted up to them.

“...why you keep spreading stories about a killer with a hook for a hand.” The big man was scowling.

His companion laughed. “It keeps people from coming anywhere near this place, doesn’t it?”

“What’s the difference? Everyone believes the house is haunted. And when the sheriff’s boys did search it, a few years ago, they never even suspected another room down here, did they?”

“You never know when some kid might sneak up and maybe see one of us coming or going. If they said anything, the sheriff’s boys might decide to take a harder look at this place. And none of us want to get caught at this racket and spend years in prison.”

“Why didn’t you think of that before you got so carried away the sheriff’s boys had to go nosing around here?”

“I told you, she was just a tramp! How was I to know anyone would care what happened to her? And it worked out, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, well, be more careful next time you get carried away. Dump your leavings somewhere else, especially with those stories you keep telling about me.”

“What difference does it make? Even if they find another body, there’s no evidence to connect it to you. If they look at you, they won’t find anything except a decorated war hero trying to live on too small a pension.”

“Anybody finds a body around here, the first thing they’ll think of is look for a man’s got a hook, you idiot!”

The younger man shouted him down. “So they look for you, they find no evidence you could have done it, then what? You got an ace in the hole! They figure some kids saw you, made up a bunch of crazy stories, that’s all!”

“I still don’t like it, you understand? When we’re done here, when we’ve got enough cash, I’m going to Tahiti, someplace like that, find me a nice girl. You stay away from there, from anywhere near where I am!”

“Yeah, sure. I’m heading for Monte Carlo, anyway, so you got nothing to worry about.”

The thumping grew louder again, for a moment. A third man came out, his back to Ralph and Susie.

“This run’s nearly done, fellas.”

“If we were printing something better than ones and fives, a run wouldn’t take so long.”

“We’ve been over this before. Folks look more closely at bigger bills. Take them more seriously. This is the safest way to do it.”

“Yeah, yeah. So you need us to come back and help with the rest of it, right, Tate?”

“That would be a lot more useful than standing out here arguing with each other. Sammy will be here soon to run the new batch into the city.” The third man turned, and Ralph saw the face of the sheriff clearly. Susie squeezed his hand.

All three men walked back the way they’d come, and the rhythmic thumps grew louder, then became muffled again. Ralph was stiff from crouching, but he rose silently and drew Susie up beside him. He struck another match, lit the candle, and they crept back through the house as quickly as they dared. Ralph paused long enough to return the candle and matches to their place, and they slipped out and ran across the grass.

They ran down the middle of the road, away from that place. He only slowed when he saw she couldn’t run any further. Neither of them spoke, but Susie clung to his hand. They staggered to the trees and sank down behind the broad trunk of a pine, hugging each other. Susie wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, letting her lips linger.

“We can’t tell anyone, you know. No one would believe us, and then they’ll know that we know...”

Ralph nodded. “I thought of that, too. I hate to let them get away with it, but we’re out so late, everyone will think we just made up a silly story as an excuse. I’ll bet they could say we ran away together, and nobody’d look too hard for us.”

“It will just have to be our secret, between us.”

“At least when I thought there was a killer out there, I figured I was safe if I could just make it to the sheriff’s office. Now... I don’t know where we’re safe. Maybe we ought to run away, soon as I can get some money together.”

Susie didn’t agree but she didn’t protest, either.

They shrank back into the shadow of the tree as a long black car roared past. When it was out of sight, they got up and began walking, staying just in sight of the road, but far enough in to stay hidden. At last, they reached the drive-in. They were both exhausted, and sank into the worn leather seats of Ralph’s huge old Packard gratefully.

Before he started the engine, Ralph glanced at the big clock set into the dashboard. It read four o’clock. He glanced over at Susie.

“What are we going to tell your Ma and Pa?”


Notes On Wake Up, Little Susie

I wanted to write a story for the This Post Blows My Dress Up Contest. I dreamed up a few ideas in my head, but for some reason I don't understand, the song Wake Up, Little Susie kept coming into my head. There is nothing scary in this song, so why I got the idea this couple would be scared silly I can't say. A writer's mind is an odd thing...

Once I gave into the idea, I knew the classic "killer with a hook" tale had to be a part of the scare. But that didn't seem enough. So, in giving into a silly story, letting themselves be spooked, Ralph and Susie ended up in a situation where they received a much more real scare. Still, they gained something as well, I think, besides hard-won wisdom.

Fitting in an incident that reflects the title of the contest was a whimsy of mine, one I'd considered even before I had the final idea for this story. It just fit naturally into the second incident. All in all, it makes for an odd story, especially with the final bit of humour at the end. I did try to stay true to the spirit of the song, although no doubt most readers will note the many liberties I took with the details.

Which raises another question. Once I wrote this, I was forced to ponder the issue of whether what I had was a "derivative work", one I could not legally post without permission from the Copyright owners of the original song. I concluded that this was an original work, for several reasons. First, I did take many liberties with the details. The song suggests they'd dated before: "we goofed again". The story makes it fairly clear (I hope) that, although Ralph is in love with Susie, this is their first date.

The song includes no such adventures, and the major plot device of the song, falling asleep during a boring movie, is a very minor plot point here, used just to set up the real plot. Finally, I could change the title, remove the last line, and cut the reference to four o'clock, make no other changes, and any relation to the song would be unclear, while I'd still have much the same story. I'd lose only the humourous line at the very end, and the resonance the song lends the story.

And, yes, it's a crazy story, hardly a contest winner. Still, it was fun, and I hope a few of you reading the contest entries found it fun. If so, that's enough.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

An Interesting Contest (and A Reminder)

Over at a new blog I just read, called This Eclectic Life, there is an interesting contest for writers. It is called the "This Post Blows My Dress Up Contest". Write a post on the theme "Scared Silly" and go on over to let her know you're entering the contest. The contest announcement and complete rules are listed on the blog.

Be sure to read the complete rules, and remember, the contest closes at 12:00 noon, Texas time (which is GMT minus 5 hours, for my international readers), on Friday, the 28th of March. The prize is $30.00 added to your PayPal account, which is as much as many short fiction markets pay, so it is worth entering! If I can get something written and up here in time, I hope to enter myself.

Even if you don't win (and I won't be holding my breath, if I manage to enter), writing a scary story will be fun, and as long as someone reads it and enjoys it, your efforts won't be wasted. I don't think most of my readers know This Eclectic Life, so it is also a chance for you to check out a new and interesting blog.

In the meantime, don't forget the very multi-talented DBA Lehane's contest, over at RedBubble (you'll need to sign up), and announced on Short Short Fiction. Do note that if you join Twisted Tales at RedBubble, the announcement there has been updated, and the Like We Did Last Summer contest deadline has been extended.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

For Writers

I have two announcements of possible interest to the writers who read this blog. The first concerns an interesting contest the extremely talented DBA Lehane is holding. The details are on his blog, Short Short Fiction. His blog post provides the links to the actual site where the contest is being held. Note that the deadline has been extended; there is a notice on the site hosting the contest. I encourage anyone who can come up with a good story meeting the requirements of the competition to enter.

Also, I have a few minor resources to share with any writers who are interested. Since blogs aren't set up for downloading files directly (and I could probably set up a link to remotely download the files, but I'd be forever tweaking it) just visit my public E-Snips folder, Writers Helps. Everything there is free.

There is a sample of one of Holly Lisle's books, the Create a Plot Clinic; as I already mentioned, I have become an affiliate of her shop. In this case, you don't have to rely on my judgment (and writers are different, so even a book I found helpful might not be for you). Download the sample and look it over. If it doesn't look helpful, all you'll have wasted was a bit of time reading. If you do find it helpful, pass the sample along to a friend once you get the full copy.

There is also a character creation checklist I made up a while ago. If you use that kind of thing, it might help you. It is free, and you can make as many copies as you like for yourself; all I ask, if you want to share, is that you point your friends to the Writers Helps folder. There is also a PDF for a very experimental form of manuscript paper I designed. That probably won't be right for many of you, but if it is, enjoy it!

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Today is a day set aside to honour Saint Patrick, a man who converted Ireland to Christianity while respecting the basic values of their culture. This is perhaps one reason the Irish are so fond of Saint Patrick, because he left them happily Celtic instead of insisting they become more like the Romans. Once they were converted, this made it more difficult for would-be meddlers to interfere and ruin their culture.

It is also a day to remember Ireland, to think of those beautiful green shores, those lush fields, those magnificent coasts... Yes, a good part of my ancestry is Irish. In fact, I could qualify for Irish citizenship (and depending on how the Presidential election goes, I just may apply) handily; I have two family members who are, alone, enough to qualify me. And I love hearing Irish voices speak, seeing Irish landscapes, eating Irish soda bread (there will be some of that, nice and hot, later today), hearing Irish music...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I do also want to share a little more with my readers about my plans for this blog. Before events kept me from posting for so long, I was considering some changes, and I've thought still more about those in the meantime. I may be setting up my own site, and moving this blog to a WordPress platform on that domain. Over time, once I get the ongoing projects I'm bogged down in cleared away, I hope to set up a more regular posting schedule, and post more on topics of interest to writers.

I will still be making some fiction available, but I need time to decide how I'll do this. The sad fact is, once a writer 'publishes' a story, it is virtually unsellable. If it is a very small blog, some markets may still agree to purchase "first publication rights" - but some will not. And if it is posted on a larger blog, or any public site, it can no longer be sold except as a previously published story. And, unless the author is very well-known, there is no market for previously published stories.

There is also the issue of doing this in way that won't interfere with my pursuing a more serious writing career. I have decided, even more firmly than before, that is the direction I am headed in. That means I have many decisions to make, and I'll be revealing those to my readers as soon as I have made them. Also, in an effort to make things a little easier, I have become an affiliate of Holly Lisle's shop, selling books of interest to writers and some fiction.

While I don't criticise anyone for what they choose to do with their own blogs, I don't plan to cram my own blog with ads; that just isn't what I want for my blog. I don't expect any of my readers to buy any of Holly's books, unless they truly decide they want to. I chose this program for several reasons. First, the products are ones I have bought, or would like to buy, myself. Second, when I contacted the program, I was specifically told, by Holly Lisle herself, that I was free to write honest reviews of her books, mentioning things I disliked or disagreed with as well as things I liked.

I will be writing reviews of some of these books, and I hope to have a nice offer for anyone who is interested up soon. In the meantime, I will simply say this. The books I have bought and read all share several qualities. First, they were written by an actual, working author who makes her living by writing, and knows what it takes. Second, they are, as much as possible, written to take into account all the varied and individual ways each writer must work. They offer useful suggestions and ways of coping, not rigid rules or useless theories.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Wandering Author Returns

I truly did not plan to be away so long. On New Year's Day, when I'd hoped to post, I discovered my firewall software had auto-updated and was now fighting it out with my anti-virus software. I located and downloaded a new firewall program, only to confront the fact that something, whether the "security wars" or a long-time accumulation of junk in my system, had left my system dangerously unstable. Roughly half the time I booted up, the system froze immediately on reaching my Desktop.

After a few weeks of tweaks, fiddling, removing a few fonts, clearing out junk from the Registry, and all those other fun things that keep Windows systems above water a little longer, I had a bit more luck, but I was still not too confident. So I began trying to go through all my software (yes, you say, that is the problem) so I could restore my system to the condition it was in when I bought it, then reinstall only the programs I need.

In the middle of that, the Brisbane flu paid me a visit, despite the flu shot I got last fall. February passed in a haze of fever, while I've been frantically trying to finish going through my software (I have about 200 CD-ROMs, and much more downloaded freeware), work, catch up with everything else in my life, and fit in a little writing.

Ah, yes, writing. I can discuss it a little more now. My friend Jim, who my wife and I found dead on his kitchen floor last September, wanted to write as well. He was one of the most intelligent people I've ever known, and I always assumed he was a better writer than I was. I never dared show him anything of mine, because I was too much in awe. He always said his stuff was crap, or worse, but we all say that, and since he was embarrassed to show it to me, I didn't press the point.

After he died, we found a few creative writing courses, but not a single word Jim had written. He was so unhappy with it that he destroyed it all at some point. Between the shock of finding him, then finding out he'd destroyed all trace of his writing (and I guarantee you, far worse than anything he ever turned out since the age of ten has been published), I was unable to write at all.

I struggled with attempts to force myself to do writing exercises, or to write a story as a tribute to Jim, but no words would come; anything I got on paper was jumbled and useless. I'm not just being down on my work here; it really wasn't half as good as I know I can do. I decided to sign up for the two year novel writing course at Forward Motion, in hopes that would get me jump started.

I'm happy to say, it worked! I've got a very tiny start on a new novel, and plan to keep going until it's done. I'll be doing other writing as well, of course, now that I can again. Trying to keep up with assignments is one thing that's kept me away; that, and the residual exhaustion from the flu.

I had hoped to make a grand return, and fix all my broken links, clean up the template, and start posting regularly - all at once. That isn't going to happen. I need to start slowly, and I need to consider exactly where I'll go with this blog, and my online presence in general. Everything that has happened has just hardened my determination to be a writer. I will keep at it until I am published, or die trying.

In addition, Jim's cat, Julius, is doing well, which is a good thing - he is one of the sweetest cats I've known. Yet that means continued vet bills to keep him as healthy as possible; bags of IV fluids, medications, visits. So I do need to begin looking for a way to bring in a little more income than I am. I hope to do it in a way that will be fair to all my readers; you won't see a sudden explosion of ads for all kinds of junk.

I'll discuss those plans later, and a few ideas I have for making a bit of money by writing. I just wanted to let you know I was alive; Lehane's efforts to drag me out have had their effect, of course. (The subtle signs are all there, even if he denies it. Lehane is to blame for my return, no matter what he says.) I'd started a humourous story in which Lehane entered cyberspace in an effort to find me and drag me out, but I haven't managed to finish that.

I won't be posting all that regularly right at first. One of the things I've been trying to catch up on, which has kept me exhausted, is helping Jim's son as far as I can with the probate. He has an interest in some land, and I looked up the records on it for him to save him the lawyer's fees. It was a good thing I did! I had to sift through nearly two dozen deeds on the property to get to where I could make any sense of the tangled trades back and forth within the family.

In fact, this isn't much of a post. I simply remembered my blog (I needed the URL, and that got me thinking), missed it, and sat down here to let my thoughts flow out of my fingers in this long, rambling fashion. I do hope to do better soon. I have plans, either for this blog or a new web site, to make it a more useful resource for writers. There are a few areas I'm pretty good at, and I hope I can help some of the rest of you in those areas. I will also be catching up on previous projects that lost ground between my sickness last year and Jim's death. I hope my regular readers will gradually notice that I'm back, and put up with me until I get the hang of writing directly from the keyboard, with little or no editing, once again.

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