Monday, August 31, 2009

Top Ten Reasons why I won’t read Vampire Books

10. You think last year's shoes are out of date – this guy’s clothes are 200 year old!

9.   Men over fifty are male chauvinists – this guy was born when?

8.   Blood breath! Are you really going to kiss me with that stinky mouth?

7.   French kissing a corpse – with that breath? A carload of Tic Tacs won’t be enough.

6.   Tell me what is sexy about spending all day in a coffin, buried in a graveyard.

5.   Men with pale skin and burning red eyes – sexy? No, that’s the reason I stopped dating musicians and drug addicts.

4.   I can barely stand to shake a cold clammy living hand – I’m supposed find a cold, clammy embrace sexy?

3.   Road kill smells bad after 24 hours, HOW long has this guy been dead? And you can’t SMELL
that?

2.   Necrophilia (wanting to have sex with a corpse) is a mental illness – I don’t have it.

1.   Live men have erectile dysfunction – you expect me to believe that a corpse can get it up?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Baby Ducks on the Move

Fuzzy and ever so cute – the baby ducks twitter as they spread out in the grass. Hard to believe they are insect assassins, snapping up every last bug in their paths. Forty of them, spread out at six-inch intervals, combing the grass, picking out every fly, grasshopper and beetle.

I come out to the barn and they twitter louder, excited because my appearance means they get their fill of grain. They follow me, little feet patting, twittering, into the barn. They avoid the hens, watch the cats warily. The cats affect dignity and ignore the stream of fluff.

I toss some grain to the hens, keeping them away while the ducklings come right to my feet. Brownit spars with the chickens until Sony the rooster comes to his harem's defense. I swat him with a bamboo cane to put him in his place. This is duckling time.

Brownie stole the hatchlings of two other females to get this huge brood. I wonder if the ducklings aren't imprinted more on each other. They move about in fits and starts, more like a school of fish than birds.

They're a restless, twittering stream of hungry brown and gold fluff; eating from my hand, shoving and scarfing as much grain as they can hold. I can trail my fingers over their backs; they're so absorbed in eating. Once full they plop in the dirt, little bodies top-heavy.

Forty hungry little ducklings make short work of a pound of grain. They stream over to the water, drink, twitter some more as if discussing the weather then patter outside. A couple who are left behind chirp the signal that says: "where are you?" Soon they are all back for another meal of grain.

The hens chase the ducklings off eventually. The duckling flow outside, to nap in the grass. The rooster Sony, sulking from the swat, calls his hens back to the manure pile they are diligently turning into compost.

He's still king of the compost heap.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

PT Cruiser - It's Really Love

I love my car, from the sleek round front end, the push-button doors that never snap off my fingernails, to the hatch back rear with it's shelf. It looks retro - but is completely modern inside. So comfortable that we can drive it to Albany, New York or Miami, Florida without hurting our old backs.

Heavy enough to never skid on icy roads, high enough to be easy to get in and out of for my senior citizen parents - my little four-door buzz buggy suits my family to the proverbial "T."

I hear that Chrysler is discontinuing the PT Cruiser. I think that's a crying shame. There aren't many cute SUV's out there. There aren't many that get 22 miles per gallon in the city.

I was in the market for a Cobalt when I first saw my car. (I secretly wanted a Mustang, not a good idea when I've got a serious lead foot.) The Cobalt was too low to the ground. It hurt my back to get in it and the seats weren't comfortable.

I wanted to drive a PT Cruiser, just out of curiosity. It was so cute outside - and SO comfortable inside. Once I felt the smooth ride and sports-car handling I was hooked. No Mustang for me - I've got a cute little silver bullet.

This summer my husband bought the ultimate accessory - a hitch so we can tow his motorcycle, or my little Snowbear trailer.

I just got back from Madrid - where I picked up to fence panels, one of them 16 feet long. We strapped them to my 8 foot trailer and I brought the rattling caravan home without a problem.

Try that with a Cobalt.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Motorcycle Ride

It is a cool day - feels more like autumn than late summer.

We set out on Rt. 920 a twisting back road that leads generally south. My husband's Suzuki purrs like a contented cat at 60 M.P.H. as we twist and turn.

The sky is cloudy - the breeze is cool. I suppose we can thank the Alaskan volcano for this cool, sweet summer.

We had a biker's picnic planned - but it fell through. Maybe one weekend yet we can get the guys together - get their families down to North Fork and let the kids romp while the adults relax.

Until then I'm looking forward to the return trip home.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Throwing in the Towel – Part II

I'm going throw something, and it's not a towel.

Why the hell would you spend months chasing after a review from HC – then shrug off said review as being from a 'junior editor' when it comes?

They pointed out the flaws from an HC editor's point of view and you run off whining because...It didn't come from Disney?

I have not one, but two, five page reviews ripping my writing style apart. I printed them, discussed them with my F2F group. I've poured over these documents, not because they are brimming with hearts, flowers, singing mice and fairy dust, but because there is something useful in there.

I took my "bait and switch" opening to 'Flogging the Quill' knowing it sucked, but I wanted help figuring out a good opening. Ray gave me his honest assessment of my overall style. (Bless him! He said my 'voice' was 'seductive.') He pointed out some things that I eventually turned into the current opening. (I have yet to thank him personally. Better get on that.)

Weeks later - The Editors said "We loved the opening pages and…" They also finished with "…cut 1/3 of the first 3 chapters and resubmit."

Of course I sniveled a bit – then ran a word count to figure out how many words needed to go. Then – guess what? – I started cutting.

It is abso-lutely (ehem) useless to compete for something – then dismiss it when you finally get it. I mean really, did you expect them to say? "Loved it! Shelved it! Here's your contract."

I really need to get away from Authonomy. If it wasn't writer's crack I would. "Let's Do Lunch" is 90 on the general chart, after two weeks. I'm going to leave it for another week – while I finished editing "Lunch."

PS - If Leo doesn't leave me alone – I'm going to feed him to Van Man Go. I've got a dozen pages of "Tempest in a Teapot" which I was saving for NaNoWritMo. Shut up, Leo! Take a cold shower, get a shave and a hair cut!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Invisa-Dog

As it gets hotter outside, the AC starts feeling colder. The dogs play outside for a few hours every day - then come back to the cool air.

Well, it's getting harder and harder to do a 'nose check' without poking the cushions or the lumps under the blankets.

I've got an invisible dog.

I can't see him most of the time. He's usually under a blanket or behind the couch cushions. Lately it's been under the blankets on the bed, or the quilts on the back of the couch. He often slides between the back of the couch and the cushions there, too.

Last night I was snacking, I thought I had a pillow under my head. Turns out that pillow wanted a bite of chicken finger. I ended up with a little black nose on my shoulder.

Captain Jack Sparrow may have a parrot on his shoulder - but I've got Trouble the Invisible Dog.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tempest in a Tea Pot

A hot August afternoon – on the porch drowsy from the heat after a long morning in the barn, I'm stretched out in my chair with Mocha in my lap. A copper Harley Screaming Eagle pulls up to my driveway.

Ah crap, there goes the day.

He walks up to the porch, and let's himself in. The dogs cluster around – sniffing but not barking.

Predictably he doesn't sit, but paces the porch like a caged lion. He lights a cigarette by striking a barnburner on his pant leg. Men should not wear pants that tight. It just isn't right.

He's wearing his cut – a tattered denim vest – it has patches all over it. Some are "In Memory of" patches. The rocker under a golden eagle says "Jesus hates pussies."

He's got a copper tan, sun-bleached hair and needs a shave. His eyes are blue, and he's got that mature strength that comes from long years of hard living. The view is worth the hassle he's about to give me.

"What's on you mind, Leo?"

"You need to get a move on." The level gaze he gives me would be threatening, if I didn't know him.

"I'm in the middle of a re-write. Then there's 'Swallow the Moon' to finish."

"Forget them, Van's a freak and Eric's a puss."

I didn't need Van or Eric showing up, taking exception for the insult. I'd have to explain this to the neighbors. How do you do that when they are all figments of your imagination? I'd never get any writing done if I end up in a 'love-me' jacket.

Leo takes a drag off his smoke and leans on the porch rail. Did I mention that he's wearing nothing under his cut? Or the tattoos? "Besides, you hate paranormal."

"Just vampires." I grin at him. "The plot isn't finished. I've got half a plot. Can't go on with just that."

"Sure you can. You've written a bunch of books, never outlined jack before."

"They all sucked." I reminded him. He thinks he has the upper hand does he? "You want to be trapped on the hard drive forever?"

"No," Leo the lazy tomcat, with his red beard and his aquamarine eyes, gave me a come-and-get-girl grin. "I want to thrill a hundred thousand honeys."

I laughed, he's a charming cad – he might just do it.

"Look, Leo. There are only so many hours in a day. You are going to have to wait your turn. I'm planning a big push for NanoWritMo."

He swore. The dogs started barking, my husband was home. When I turned back Leo was gone.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Letter from the White House

I'm posting this because I'm tired of the 'wing nut' propaganda that I've been getting from the people who oppose health insurance reform. This is the other side of the story.

Dear Friend,

This is probably one of the longest emails I’ve ever sent, but it could be the most important.

Across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.

As President Obama said at the town hall in New Hampshire, “where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed.”

So let’s start a chain email of our own. At the end of my email, you’ll find a lot of information about health insurance reform, distilled into 8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage, 8 common myths about reform and 8 reasons we need health insurance reform now.

Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this email.

Thanks,
David

David Axelrod
Senior Adviser to the President


P.S. We launched www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck this week to knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the internet. You can find the information below, and much more, there. For example, we've just added a video of Nancy-Ann DeParle from our Health
Reform Office tackling a viral email head on. Check it out:

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage

Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.

Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.

Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.

Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.

Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.

Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
Learn more and get details: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/health-insurance-consumer-protections/

8 common myths about health insurance reform

Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.

We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the
President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.

Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.

Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.

Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.

You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.

No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Learn more and get details:
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck
http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/realitycheck/faq

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now

Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html

Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html

Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/women/index.html

Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes

Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline

The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction

Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html

The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform.

Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf

Myspace vs Facebook vs Blogspot

I'm on both Myspace and Facebook, just to get the old 'web-presence' started, in case I sell a book one day.

BTW - yes, I'm sweating every minute until I hear from the editors. I'm also considering my options in case "Let's Do Lunch" should crash and burn. There is always "Swallow the Moon" to fall back on.

So far, I'm liking Myspace better as a place to hang out. Though Facebook's wall is a fun place to check on others - I haven't been able to blog there. It's more like a twitter page.

Find me here: http://www.myspace.com/katjordan-ky

From now on I'll be posting 'Croft' news there, with the rest of my writing commentary here. (Including the updates on Authonomy.com - I'm wondering if it has been sold to Amazon?)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Authonomy - has Harper Collins thrown in the towel?

Last night Authonomy went down - when it came back up the ads read "Autonomy Sponsored by Create Space." The site is also extremely ssss---llll---ooo---www!!!!

CreateSpace is Amazon.com's Print on Demand company - read 'self-publish' and 'vanity publishing' the 'lowest of the low' as far as publishing goes.

Aha! I think I smell a dead rat.

What has happened? Has the great Harper Collins (UK) finally given up on getting anything publishable on the Editor's Desk?

I wonder.

I venture to guess that Harper Collins has already cherry picked what they want. They troll the site - taking what they can use and leaving the rest -- for CreateSpace to pick up?

At least the critiques on Createspace are genuine - not the "loved it, shelved it" stuff that most people give on Authonomy.

Okay, I've played cynic long enough on this. It is true, there are gems and horse-turds on any writer's site. Personal opinion isn't enough to tell me what's good or bad.

Standing, as I am, on the cusp of publication - waiting to see what my fate will be. I've been concerned many times that "Lunch" was too slow building to sell. I still am for that matter. Though this re-write has been exciting, it's not a contract. I have wondered if Createspace or the like, will be my only option.

Too many people on Authonomy aren't willing to edit -rewrite or take any kind of suggestions for improvement. For them Createspace will only showcase their weaknesses.

Time will tell if Harper Collins has given up on Authonomy, or if this is just their next phase.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Health Care Propaganda – Blackest of the Black Lies

Bullshit by any other name would sound like this: "The government can't run a healthcare program." So what is Medicare? Medicaid? What does Congress have? What do the military and their families have for healthcare?

Notice what "they" aren’t saying: "Everybody has good medical insurance – HMO's are just fine."

We know the HMO horror stories. They all start about the same.

"I had cancer now I can't get insurance because it is an 'existing condition.'"

"I need (tests, surgery, medication, treatment, physical therapy, etc.) But my HMO insurance won't pay for it. I can't afford it. Now I can't work."

"I need open heart surgery…" People are going to India for surgery that would cost tens of thousands of dollars – here. They pay cash if they have it. If they don't – well it sucks to be them.

That's a death sentence, isn't it?

The Reactionary Id10ts of the Right are leading the attack. They must be on the payroll in the Insurance Industry. (Traitors – all of them!) Wing Nuts are bussed in to disrupt and attack politicians at Town Hall meetings. Just as the union busters were bussed into towns during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Big Business operates on the other Golden Rule – 'We have the gold, we make the rules.' Or the short form: "frak you!"

Big Business doesn't give a damn about human beings. Big Business is a collection of non-breathing entities like the corporate dragons of 'Shadow Run' – inhuman – cold-hearted – immortal and greedy to the 100th power. We know that the most intelligent psychopaths are CEO's and CFO's. (Read 'Sharks in Suits' that will give you nightmares.) The greediest of the greedy, they work for yearly 'bonus' money – amounts that the average worker will not make in a lifetime.

Insurance companies murder by denial of service – every day – on such a staggering scale that no one – no one! – has the balls to call it what it is: Mass Murder.

"Never, ever cut a deal with a dragon." (Shadow Run saying.)

The medical insurance dragon is set up to take down the economy in a few dozen years – just as the financial insurance dragon (named AGI) took down the financial markets.

Whose side are we on? The side of the Corporate Dragons – immortal, cold-blooded and heartless coiled around their hoards of gold?

Are we going to let these lizard-hearted murders take down our seniors? They are leaving Medicaid staggering under the burden of a vanishing insurance base. (If you have no insurance and can't work – you have to go on disability (SSI) to get Medicaid. If you can get anything at all.) How long can that single healthcare provider take the burden? (Oh – wait that's government run healthcare. We have it anyway.)

We need a public option! Something where an affordable premium will enable people to keep working. Spread the cost over the largest base – and everything gets easier to afford for everyone.

Don't believe me?

Remember when computers cost millions of dollars and had – maybe - 4k of memory? Now you can get a brand new Dell laptop for $499. It has more computing power and more memory than every computer on the planet in 1979.

I rest my case.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Completed and Sent

Yes, it was a battle, but I got the 3 chapters of "Let's Do Lunch" revised and sent to the editors who requested the re-write.

First I had problems with my laptop. Then Windows crashed like a brick through a window. It took four days for me to get the laptop fixed. Then I was able to get working - in between events that required my attention.

Two days ago I found that my network had been hacked. The lousy performance of the wireless was the big sign that something was wrong. That and flashing application windows on my desktop that I couldn't read.

The clean up was extensive. I lost my address books. I lost all my email. Lost all my software too. My data files are intact. So I still have "Lunch" and "Moon" and my notes for all the other novels.

I was able to get some work done - once I fixed the printers. So this afternoon the rewrite was finished and I sent out the chapters. I did cut 4k words. It did help the pace.

I have to get the Croft whipped back into shape. And take care of that to-do list that has gotten backed up.

Now we wait.

Book Vending machines

Now that is an idea who's time has come!

Think about it. A vending machine that holds books. A row of romance, a rack of westerns, a mass of mysteries!

http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/2009/08/book-o-mat.html

Check this out! I want to start my own!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Little Kitty Love Gifts

Okay, that was sarcastic.

It was a feline love gift.

If you have cats, you know that they have a strange way of saying "I love you." Sometimes it's with little dead mice, or a bird.

But I don't have 'normal' cats. I've got Cookie and Lucky.

Lucky takes swats at the rooster and the hens, then downs full grown doves to feed her kittens. She's a tiny little cat, only about 5 pounds.

This particular 'gift' appeared to be from Cookie.

It was a full grown rat, about a pound and a half. There wasn't a mark on it. I don't know how they do it. A rat that size has to put up a fight like a small dog.

Fortunately my husband picked it up and disposed of it.

I don't want those horrible things in my house.

It's time to buy poison.

Alice Cooper at Horseshoe Casino

Rumors fly about Rock Star's and their antics. You name the band, there is a rumor about them out there somewhere. I've heard some wild ones about Alice Cooper over the years.

Friday was no exception.

The first thing we found out was that this was the kick off concert. Our friendly informant explained that they had been practicing all week.

"It's loud.," he said. "Really loud." He told us that Alice's kids (daughter Calico, not sure if they others were) were in the show. He also said that he'd seen the guillotine at work several times.

It was loud - and it was a really good concert. Of course, being the first concert of a series, there was a hitch. The opening curtain fell on Alice's head, but that was a little thing. Alice should introduce the band at the end, they all did a good job.

I thought that it was a darn good show. Alice brought out the guillotine, the gallows, the eight foot syringe and the cabinet of swords. All in all I think they killed him four times. There were no animals, bats, snakes or chickens in the show, which was fine with me.

In a world where Rock Star histrionics are legendary - Alice Cooper has a dirty little secret. Mind you this is a man who boasts he'd "poison a blind man's dog and steal his cane."

This is major.

"He's a great guy," our informant told us. "Signs autographs, shakes peoples hands and seems really nice."

Keep that under your hat. No one will believe it.