Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hello, Las Vegas!

Okay, I admit it--I have nothing writerly to say today. My husband took me to Sin City for my birthday, and while we're not the sort to go wild and crazy, we did have a wonderful time. Actually, we had lots of fun! Just the two of us.
Here I am in an Undisclosed Location. Want to guess where I am?

The Strip was super busy. Approximately one-half of all twenty-somethings in the U.S. and Japan descended upon the casinos with much exuberance and hilarity. Where do they get the money to play Blackjack and those other games I can never remember? Oh, that was a foolish question, wasn't it?

I love to walk through the Forum Shops, but only to window shop and stay cool. No way can I buy anything in there. It's all so pretty, though.

Water is everywhere around and in the casinos, forming water falls, small streams, pools, and shooting fountains. As we walked around--in 108 degree weather (what were we thinking?), we remarked that we often got a whiff of something that smelled a little too much like a sewer. It finally occurred to me that the water is Reclaimed Water--from the sewage plants. I'm glad they're not using fresh water for showing off.
And now......
A good-looking guy followed me around, eveywhere I went! I wondered, what does he see in me, anyway? He was very attentive, kind, generous, thoughtful, and sweet. I stopped him once and said, "Look, mister, I'm a Senior Citizen, I have silver hair (like it?), and I'm not exactly voluptuous. What's the deal, here?" He answered, "Honey, you've been out in the 108 degree weather too long. Let me take you back to the hotel. You need a cold drink and a nice nap in the air conditioning." Hmmm, he was right. That nap sure was nice.

Now we're back home and I'm my old self again. I found 243 messages, even though I had changed eight loops to Special Notice Only. I had galley corrections to make quickly, because I tripped off on a vacation without a computer. Another publisher needs my information sheets--as in yesterday! I have two releases Wednesday (I hope) and I have not done one thing to tell anyone about them. "Oh, well, I'll worry about that later, for tomorrow is another day."
   Celia Yeary
August 29, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is Your Life a Circus?

If you’re like most writers with families, day jobs, or other community duties, you might think you qualify to join the circus.
First, there are three rings in a circus, and while you might prefer to think you’re the ringmaster, you might instead be a performer in one of those rings. RINGMASTERS stand in one place, don’t they? They crack the whip, announce the next event, all the while dressed to the teeth in a fabulous outfit complete with top hat and tall black boots. Nary a hair out of place, or a smudge of jelly on his red coat, or a harried look upon his face mars his perfection. No, we are definitely not the ringmaster. You might as well admit some invisible puppet master is behind the scenes directing the hours in your day.

Circuses have JUGGLERS. Yep, I bet you just said, “That’s me! I juggle so many things in the course of a day. I breathlessly stay on my toes, hoping I don’t drop the ball, or miss a cue, or confuse one thing for another and make a mess of everything. Yes, that’s me—I’m a Juggler.”

Circuses have HIGH WIRE PERFORMERS. You say, “That more closely resembles me going through my day—walking a fine line, meeting deadlines, carpooling the kids, making doctors’ appointments on time, taking my turn at the Food Bank, or making my word count for the week. That’s me—I’m a High Wire Performer.

Circuses have performers—sometimes animals, sometimes humans—who jump through hoops. Maybe you are really a PERFORMER WHO JUMPS THROUGH HOOPS. You re-write an entire chapter at the request of an editor, you try to remember your husband’s instructions on taking the car to the repair shop, or you forgot the one dozen cupcakes for your child’s school the next day, so you stay up until midnight to complete the task, or…fill in the blanks.

We are a busy people, aren’t we? Circuses are supposed to be fun. Children squeal with laughter, parents smile when they see their son or daughter clap with delight, and the entire audience applauds every feat.

Hmm, something’s missing here. Fun? Are we having fun yet? Yes, I suppose we are, although some days might make us want to shut our bedroom door, crawl under the covers, and sleep the day away.

Personally, I’ve never cared for circuses, and my children didn’t either. Somehow, it all seemed more like work, and at times, a little cruel, and too controlled.

So, I prefer to see my life, especially my writing life, as an ADVENTURE. Sure, I sometimes walk that high wire to make a deadline; or I juggle three things at once in order to get my blog written, my 1000 words for the week, and my most recent edits finished; or I jump through hoops to please my editor, my publisher, my husband, my readers, and hopefully, somewhere along the way…myself.

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print

Monday, August 16, 2010

A True HEA and Gold Wedding Bands

Before my husband and I married, our finances allowed only gold wedding bands—no engagement ring and no diamonds. Together, we shopped in the one jewelry store in town and found the perfect pair. The twin rings caught my eye, because the designer had chosen to create pieces of jewelry somewhat different from all the other choices.
The bands were thicker than normal, and somewhat wider than usual. Thin decorative edges circled the bands, and the surface of the gold displayed delicate cross-hatching. Over the years, daily use has worn the design smooth and shiny.

A few years ago on a long road trip, we wanted to arrive at our next destination before dark. Construction and delays, however, forced us to drive after sundown. To keep us alert on the busy interstate, we stopped at a convenience store to buy snacks.

As we continued our journey, we talked and laughed, and I unwrapped our ice cream bars to enjoy during the last few miles. Fifteen minutes later, after I had disposed of the wrappings in a trash bag, we settled back to watch the highway. Something felt odd about my hand, and I discovered my gold wedding band was missing.

“Stop!” I demanded.

Instantly alarmed, he said, “Here? I can’t. We’re in the middle of nowhere surrounded by eighteen-wheelers. I can’t pull off the highway. What’s wrong?”

His voice had risen over my crying and moaning. Missing the ring struck my heart as surely as though someone died.

“When’s the last time you remember having the ring?” he asked, attempting to remain calm. “Can you please settle down and let’s discuss this? Plus, I don’t want to have a wreck with all this distraction.”

Calming myself because I didn’t wish to die on the Interstate, I thought back. “It must be in the restroom trash. I washed my hands, dried them on paper towels, and threw the towels away. You remember that’s happened before, don’t you? One time when we were at a dance. I went to the restroom, and when I….”

“Okay, okay,” he interrupted. “You lost it before that, too, at the golf store when you tried on golf gloves. We had to retrace out steps thirty miles to find the ring in a glove. Remember?”

“Oh, I’d forgotten about that. How embarrassing.”

I guess he felt the need to console me a little. He said, “It’s understandable, but you really should be more careful. You shouldn’t even wear your ring when we travel.”

“Well, of course, you’re right. I’ll remember next time. But this isn’t helping me find the ring now.”

Slowing the vehicle, he told me, “I’ll exit on the next access road. We’ll have to drive back. That’s all we can do.”

“Wait!” I said.

“What now?”

Without speaking, I dug in the trash bag beside me. The ring safely lay among the ice cream wrappers. I began crying again, this time from happiness.

Many years later, we were driving on a state highway to visit relatives. Thirty miles from our destination, we stopped at a convenience store for a rest stop. When I stepped out of the women’s restroom, he stood by the men’s door.

“Hey,” he said, with a slight grin. “I lost my wedding ring down a drain.”

“What?” I cried in my usual manner of mild hysteria.

“Don’t get upset. The sink had no cover over the drain, and when I soaped and rinsed my hands, I heard a ‘clink, clink,’ and I knew the ring had gone down there.”

“Can you get it?”

“The manager has gone to find some tools. He said he’d remove the trap. That’s where it is. Won’t take a minute.”

To wait, I leaned on the wall. The manager returned, walked by me, and entered the restroom. After a few minutes, he left without his tools. My husband stuck his head out the door and said, “It wasn’t in the trap.”

“Where can it be?”

“He thinks it’s in the wall. Said the water flushed it down and up out of the trap. Well, I don’t think so. That ring’s too heavy.”

“What’s he going to do next?”

He shrugged. “Beats me. But I know that ring is somewhere in the drain.”

The manager returned with more tools and a flashlight.

For the next twenty minutes, I stood by the wall while strange men came and went from the restroom.

One stopped and asked, “Are you the little lady? They’re still working in there.”

Another one told me, “I think they’re going to tear out the wall.”

Still another said, “I think that ring’s long gone down the sewer.”

The manager emerged. I stopped him. “Sir, I know you’re working as hard as you can, but look.” I held up my left hand to show him my wedding ring. “See this ring? It’s decades old. That ring you’re looking for is, too. We need that ring.”

At last, they found the ring. Funny though, my husband retrieved it himself. While the manager left to find more tools and an ax to chop a hole in the wall, my husband peered down the drain with the flashlight. He saw it standing on its side on a small ledge made by a joint. He picked up a long screwdriver, slowly reached down the drain, snagged the ring, and carefully lifted it out. He had it on the screwdriver tip when the manager returned.

Since those episodes, I’ve thought about our rings and the many years we’ve lived together. Every marriage comes custom-built with potential failures, and if we’re lucky, subsequent victories. We lose some battles, but we win others. The goal in a partnership is overcome the losses, and move on, forgetting the upsets and fears.

No marriage enjoys perfection; no couple wants or expects it. But every young man and woman who begins a life together starts with the premise of “happily ever after.” The sad failures of many marriages are like the lost rings.

A couple might lose something valuable in a marriage, and instead of discussing the problem, they over-react. They should first determine where the problem began without bringing up past failures. Working jointly, they may find a solution that satisfies both. In order for the process to work, neither one should ever think they are always right.

True love endures, as if it’s solid gold.
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?

Stop and think—do you sabotage your own success? This can happen on many levels, most of them subconscious, but all are self-destructive. How do I know this? I’ve done so many things to make myself fail or at least feel like a failure, I can’t even count them. We can’t address all the ways we writers knock ourselves down, but we can discuss a few. You might be able to add to this list.
Is Your Attitude Positive or Negative? Ever hear the saying: “Can’t never did anything?” I do admit I often say, “Well, I just can’t do that.” Maybe the statement is in response to rewriting a story that seriously needs an overhaul; to a ten-day blog tour; to spice up a manuscript; to take a workshop that I really need. Instead, be the Little Engine That Could and tell yourself, “I think I can.” Doesn’t that sound much better than “I can’t?”
Is Your Book The Best It Can Be? Does it have reader appeal? Pretend you’re someone else reading your book. (I pretend I’m a lady I know who is rather hard to please—will she like my book?) Does it have urgency, intensity, and enough drama to capture a reader’s heart? Does your own book interest YOU? Remember these principles, and you may just write a Best Seller.
Do You Treat Yourself As Well As You Treat Other Writers? Now, this is simple. If you have a writer friend who is faltering, what do you do? Don’t you try to bolster her confidence, telling her that she is competent, that she is as good a writer as anyone else, and that you have Confidence in her? Then, why not tell yourself these things? Then act that way.
Do You Play At Writing Instead Of Taking It Seriously? By serious, I don’t mean act that way. The one thing you DON’T want to do is lose the joy of writing. Why write if it makes you miserable? Remember how excited you were when you first realized you were a storyteller, and you wanted more than anything to succeed? We need some level of obsession to take ourselves seriously and make others believe it, too. If writing is your dream, then make it happen. Write!

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chocolate Layer Cake? Must be my birthday!!

Every birthday, Mother baked a chocolate layer cake for me. In my family, no one had a party or received gifts—we got a cake with candles and had our picture taken with a Kodak Brownie box camera. I never attended a birthday party as I grew up. Did anyone during those years have parties? I don’t know. I never knew anyone who had a party.
These three photos are samples of me holding my cake. I actually have one for every year until I graduated from high school, but I didn’t want to bore you with all of them. You’ll get the idea from these three.

The first snapshot shows me on my fifth birthday, and obviously, the cake was heavy, for the plate leaned precariously to the side. You notice I’ve already had my first permanent, because my hair is naturally straight as a stick. Daddy had taken a job with an oil company, and we moved twice a year for six years in a big circle on the South Plains of Texas. So, this might have been our first location during those six years.
 The second snapshot shows me on my eighth birthday, and I held that cake listing to the side, too. There must be something wrong with my inner balance, because I can’t hold a plate perfectly horizontally. At least I’m dressed in this photo. Notice the 1940 Ford sedan? That’s ours. We kept that car for fifteen years. You can’t beat those old Fords.
 The third snapshot shows me on my eleventh birthday, and thank goodness, I’m dressed properly. But there again, the plate tilts to the side. I wonder if Mother’s cakes cooked unevenly so that one side of the layer cake was heavier than the other side. Probably not—she was an excellent cook. No, it has something to do with my equilibrium.

Some time ago, my husband and I bought a scanner. We pulled down a couple of boxes filled with old snapshots and photographs, and away we went. In going through the stacks, I re-lived those years I was a carefree, happy child. You can tell we were not well off with worldly goods, but honestly, I never remember being unhappy. We had what counted. For me, love was a chocolate layer cake on my birthday.

My teacher friends gave me my first party when I turned forty. That was, undoubtedly, one of the biggest surprises of my life. I had no idea they planned a party for me. All twelve of us sat down at a table in a restaurant, and I noticed that presents filled the middle of the table. My good friends stood, and announced—“Happy birthday, Celia!” My lands, I began to cry and laugh at the same time. They surprised me so much, I became giddy.

But you know? I looked around the table, but I did not see a chocolate layer cake. How could I have a birthday without one?

Celia Yeary