Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tell Me Your Thoughts On This

Lucky for you, I still feel like something found on the bottom of a hiker's shoe, because that means this post will likely be very Short.

First, I promised to tell you (briefly) about my left shoulder. I wrenched it dancing a bit over two months ago and then proceeded to rinse and repeat that horrible motion in a variety of creative ways. Two months later I finally saw an orthopedic doctor who assures me this pain is not all in my head and that I have very likely torn (to some degree) my rotator cuff and ripped away the tendon from the socket in the ball joint of the shoulder. Because of the pain of this, I pretty well stopped my using my left hand for *most everything* and that has resulted in a frozen shoulder. Yeah, turns out that not moving it didn't work out so well. Now I am going to have my first therapy appointment tomorrow and will continue with that for a month to see if it will solve the problem. If not, then I can look forward to an MRI with a probable side of surgery.

Second, I wanted to ask you some questions about Religion. More precisely Organized Religion. Our pastor put out three different white boards during the message last Sunday. One was asking us to list the qualities of Jesus. The second was to list the characteristics of our church - specifically. The third was to list the characteristics of the church universal. She encouraged us to talk to people who were and were not Christians for the last one in order to get a broader view. Since you don't go to my church, you can't help with the second one. But, I am interested in your ideas of the characteristics of Jesus and the church universal. So, please tell me what you think in the comments.

I challenge you (if you are a Christian) to do what you can to make the characteristics of your life - and ergo your church, if you attend - to shift to look more like those in the Jesus column. I think that disparity is the reason that people tend to not like organized religion. Organized religion is nothing more than the sum of its parts (the people) and so that means You. And Me. I remember saying once, as a teenager, "The thing working hardest against Christianity is the people out there preaching the message." I still believe that is true. I feel sorrowful that Christ relies so much upon us to spread the message and we are so fallible, and sometimes miserable, in our translation of the Word.

So, back to the original point: Describe the characteristics of Jesus and the characteristics of the Church Universal. (And think about the characteristics of your church.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I don't know if it is the heat or my miserable shoulder (more on that at another time) but I have been feeling Blah. Just Blah. Yucky. Honestly, getting out of bed the last week seems like more work than I can possibly tolerate. And, yet, I get out of bed and then slog around the house like some nearly dead thing. I can't even say I am Sick. I can say that my shoulder hurts fiercely (again, more on that later) and that I have been migrainey. Also not fun. Now, I am going to enjoy some cheese to go with that whine!

Battle of the Bands. Snow Patrol and The Baseballs duked it out over the song Chasing Cars. Honestly, this was a much closer contest than I anticipated and it is a bright spot in an otherwise tongue-depressing week. Snow Patrol did win it but it was actually neck and neck there for a while. Snow Patrol ultimately reined victorious with 13 votes and The Baseballs finished the final inning with 7. My vote is completely unnecessary, but I will still tell you that I would have voted for Snow Patrol, though I REALLY like both versions. I think that 50s sound of The Baseballs is just phenomenal and it makes me want to dance. The thing is that Chasing Cars isn't about dancing (which makes The Baseballs cover a delicious bit of irony to me). It actually expresses a lot of what I am feeling right now. The dude just wants to lie down and forget the world. Yep, he is that darn tired that he "needs your grace to remind me to find my own." I don't know if you have ever been that exhausted, but I know just what he means.

And that brings me to the next bit of business. I have actually made rather tremendous strides on my revision and editing (on the much talked about WiP), but I have fallen terribly behind in my blog reading. And I think I have used all of my intuitive prowess during the writing part of my day -
because I read your posts and struggle to come up with a decent comment. That said, the fiery part of my brain that would normally read something and think of an awesome bit of YouTube footage... it has shorted out. Shut down. Hung out the Closed Sign. You get what I am saying, right? It has been THREE WEEKS since the last HERE'S TO YOU post and my list of collected clips is still pitifully short. I mean, I can do the post... but it really is shameful. ::sigh::

If you don't know what this HERE'S TO YOU stuff is about, let me explain.  This used to be a weekly event landing typically on Thursdays.  When I read your blogs or you say something in the comments that sparks my imagination (or I hear something and I think of you), chances are good I will click over to YouTube to find footage for you. In the old days you wouldn't have to reach back in your memory bank farther than one week. Now... all bets are off. It could be several weeks ago.

The best (or worst) part is that I am not going to explain why I chose "whatever" footage for each of you. If, you watch your footage and are scratching your head at the end, well that means I didn't do a very good job. However, all is not lost. You can email me at and ask me what I was thinking when I chose that particular piece of footage off of YouTube and connected it to you. And then I will tell you. Then I will start sending up prayers that I haven't offended the crap out of whoever is on the receiving end of that Because, honestly, I will tell you right now... I admire all of you enormously so I really hope that doesn't happen.

Also, this is not an exclusive venture by any means. I hope that you will take the time to watch ALL of the footage because I don't pick bad footage:-) I also hope that you might check out the blog of the person I dedicated the footage to because they are pretty darn awesome. If you haven't figured this out yet... I pick the footage based on something that you've written or something that I've gleaned from your personality. Think on that for a while... If you are having trouble watching the entire video (meaning it is being cut off on one side), click on it a couple of times and it will take you straight over to youtube. If you click on the four squares at the bottom corner of the video, it will enlarge it to fill your screen. The escape key will bring it back to normal size. The back arrow will bring you back to my page.

Now, let's get this PARTY STARTED!!!!

This one is for everyone:

This one is for Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out:

This one is for LC at BACK IN THE USSR:

This one is for Sherry Ellis at The Mama Diaries:

This one is for Arlee Bird at Wrote By Rote:

This one is for Stephen T. McCarthy at FERRET-FACED FASCIST FRIENDS:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Battle of the Bands ~ Chasing Cars

Funny story.

Check that.

This has elements of a funny story... and then we'll get down to business. So... on Monday I was out watering the yard when I was attacked by fire ants. Of course, I was wearing slip-on sandals so my feet and ankles looked very much like dinner. I am happily watering and then I am screaming and jumping around. I kept swiping them with my hand but they kept coming. (I still didn't even see an anthill... It was like an ant apocalypse happened right there in my yard. Nothing and then Bam!) So I have about 20 bites on my feet and they itch like... ::insert inappropriate language and simile here:: And they are 100 times worse than that at night... you know, when I want to sleep.

So, back on Tuesday night I am lying in bed and decide to check my email on my phone, rather than scratch the skin off of my toes. There was a message from Stephen T. McCarthy and he finished it off with something like "I can't believe Battle of the Bands is only a few days away." Yikes. So, I close down mail and open up YouTube. Two hours later I have two song possibilities. I email him this titillating information and the fact that my eyes now burn from staring at a tiny screen for two hours. The next day, I decide on the second song until he sends an email saying I should go with the first. Nah, he has no idea which songs I had in mind, but he made me RETHINK it (again).

And I am going with the first. Stephen, thank you. Everyone else, you're welcome. Rereading this story, not as funny as I first thought.... much like the script of so many movies located in the Comedy genre at the movie store.

And now.. finally... Battle of the Bands!

The song for this battle is Chasing Cars. It was originally sung by Snow Patrol, and remains to-date their best-selling song. It was nominated for Best Rock Song at the 2007 Grammy Awards and Best British Single at the 2007 Brit Awards.

Way back when Umbrella was the song doing battle, Brianne Pagel suggested the cover by a group called The Baseballs. I enjoyed that so much that I have listened to several of their other covers, including Chasing Cars. So, here is The Baseballs with their original take on Chasing Cars.

For more Battle of the Bands fun, check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:

Now, is the critical moment. It is time to vote for your favorite version of this song. I even encourage you to leave me long comment explaining all the ins and outs of why you voted as you did! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Are Ya'll Ready For This? Part Two.

I feel like I have been in therapy for half my life.

Actually, I have been in therapy - off an on - since my my early 20s.... so I guess that means I have!

And there were times that therapy kept me sane. Or maybe it was just a place to vent so that my friends didn't have to listen to all of this garbage, so I paid someone to do it. Which was also good. But, it is only since I found THIS therapist here in Jacksonville that therapy has WORKED for me.

Step One: Just let go of all the crap. Sounds easy. It isn't. Using tapping therapy, we released that junk. I am talking about a lifetime of junk. Every person who hurt my feelings, starting with a traumatizing experience with a second grade teacher, all the way up and through my marriage and divorce. Some of you read about a lot of that here (I apologize). It was just so darn freeing to release it... for good.

Step Two: Recognize the patterns. Understand that Every Bad Relationship Choice I've made stems from Co-dependence. I know that is one of those words that is thrown around and people don't really know what it means. In short: If you grew up around emotionally stunted people who didn't know how to have a relationship (parents, grandparents, etc.) they taught you things that are really unhelpful in navigating life. Some of us (like me) subconsciously sought out people like them for relationships to "fix" that other relationship that was broken. Yeah, that didn't work. My choosing an emotionally distant guy so that I could mend my parents' relationship didn't work. My choosing an abusive guy didn't make my grandpa any nicer to my grandma.

Step Three: Boundaries. Yeah, I didn't have any. Let that sink in for just a moment. Healthy people have boundaries. You do something to them that they don't like... and they might just blast you into next week. Unhealthy people think, "I didn't like that very much, but I sure don't want to hurt their feelings." When you Truly Understand that boundaries are good, Boundaries protect you, Boundaries are the filter that allows you to bring into your life that which you want and keep out that which you don't... wow. Deciding on boundaries, drawing that line in the sand, and then doing the Hard Thing of maintaining them become Super Important. Understanding my lack of boundaries makes that dating story I told you about a month ago even more impressive. That was hard for me. And I felt like Wonder Woman when it was over.

Step Four: Moving from the theoretical world into this one. Yeah, here is the thing... Once you understand about co-dependency and boundaries that is all fantastic. I spent a lot of time deciding that I had value, my voice was important, I wanted this and didn't want that. Blah blah blah. But none of that mattered until I encountered someone who intended to cross my boundary. As many of you pointed out, I really should have recognized some of the signs with that yo-yo earlier. I really shouldn't have gone into his house. (If you missed that blog, you can find it HERE.) BUT, in the end I got there. To that place where I drew my line in the sand and then stood my ground.

Yesterday, I told my therapist about my newest experience. There was this guy from karaoke. Mom and I have been going to this same place most Friday nights for about five months. Yeah, we know a few people. But this is a bar. And most of the people in it take their drinking seriously. Mom and I drink sweet tea and I think that some of these guys find it charming. Did I mention this was a redneck biker bar? Well, now you have a better picture. Super nice people go there, but not anyone I'd want to Date.

I suppose it was inevitable that one of them asked me out. Except he did it in such a way that it felt more like friends getting together and less like a date. (And this is where my therapist says that the learning part of this equation is coming to play. If a guy asks you to do something, it is a date.) Since I wanted to do it, I said yes. I met him the next morning at the shooting range (yeah, it was that kind of "date"). Shot for a while and left. And then he texted me saying we should have dinner sometime. And this was when my boundaries got slippery. He is/was a nice guy. I just didn't like the fact that he drank every day and drank a lot on the weekends. So, I thought I would let him know at dinner that this just wasn't going to work out in terms of coupledom. And then having that conversation face to face seemed Just Too Hard. So the next day I told him on the phone. And he agreed. Verbosely agreed. We are too different. But he continued to call or text me Every Day. For no reason. Just to chat.

On Monday I lost it. I texted him back saying that I didn't text or talk with my friends daily. This felt like pressure. This felt like he wanted to be a couple. He blew up and got really angry.

Well, I knew that was a possibility. The problem was that he was saying One Thing but actually wanted another. I think maybe he was hoping that I would just toss out my boundary about (his) drinking and it would all work out. I really don't know.

What I do know was that I was A Ball of Anxiety and Nerves until I told him how I felt. I was disappointed that he responded like he did. And then I was okay with it all.

I tell you this because when you begin to make changes in your life, when you do things like set boundaries, it cannot all just be theoretical. Life will come along and test you. Do you mean it? Are you strong enough to stick with what you've decided. My therapist said to me, "You can't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor. You have gotten two situations, each one more difficult than the last, for you to prove that you are becoming who you want to be. And you didn't respond to either of them perfectly, but you got there pretty fast considering. And you know how you can do it better next time."

The other thing that she pointed out was that I felt Horrible preceding that exchange when I challenged him on what he was doing and told him I didn't like it. In fact, I felt pretty bad when he started texting me daily. Each time a text came in my migraine notched up. This isn't what I signed up for. This isn't what I want. I just want to be friends. And still, it took nearly a week to Say Something.

But now I understand how my migraines started and why they stuck for 10+ years. I never said anything. I just kept my mouth shut and tried to motor through. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I didn't want to make THEM feel bad. I didn't want to say, "This hurts me. This isn't working for me. You have now done so many reprehensible things that not only do I no longer love you, I don't even like you." I did not want to say that. And my head exploded. Kinda literally.

As my therapist so kindly pointed out, "Isn't it easier just being honest about what you do and don't want right away? Yeah, there is anxiety for a few days (or a day, if you just hurry up already) but isn't that better than a migraine that lasts years?"

And I have to say LOUDLY, "Yes!"

Life is better when you are living true to yourself. And that will mean you hurt some feelings along the way. People will want things for you that you don't want. Speak up, friends. I promise that you will FEEL BETTER for having done it. You are worth it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What Song Goes With Your Character?

I have a special guest here today. Tara Tyler dropped by the house and shared some of her Writing Process with me. (Hint: It's musical!) I loved it so much that I asked her to put it in a blog so that I could post it for YOU. Prepare your toe for some tapping and get HAPPY!

I love Robin's blog. She is, sorry, but I have to say it, Rockin Robin! She dedicates videos and songs to other bloggers. She gives us Battles of Bands. She is real and honest and supportive. I'm very excited to be guest posting here today! And to keep with a Rockin theme, I'm talking about...

Songs and Soundtracks for Books

Music is a big part of me. I love to sing! Music boosts my mood, whether good or bad. I like upbeat songs when I'm feeling good, familiar songs I can belt out when I'm pumped up or need to get energized, hard rock when I'm feeling rebellious or angry, and HAPPY makes me smile no matter what mood I'm in! I always have music playing in the background.

Except when I'm writing. Some of you listen to music when you write. But, that's where I need peace and quiet or my mind will wander... I guess I have to focus on one creative task at a time. In case you missed it, M.J. Fifield revealed some awesome soundtracks that inspire her while she works when she posted at Alex's (or as she calls him, the Blog-father - love that!).

I also read that Alex's latest MS was inspired by a song. Has that ever happened to you? Music inspires me all the time. My short story, The Comeback, a zombie love story (soon to be in CQ's anthology!) was inspired by the song Comeback which was part of the Avengers movie soundtrack, unbeknownst to me at the time.

Some of us have participated in blogfests that ask to pick a book soundtrack or what theme song would go with our books. I was lucky enough to have my oldest son read POP TRAVEL and do a Soundtrack Project on it for school!

Here are my book theme songs:
POP TRAVEL - New Low by Middle Class Rut (edgy, futuristic, down on your luck)

BROKEN BRANCH FALLS - Move Along by The All-American Rejects (rockin' youthful song, friends can help you overcome life's problems!)

Do you have theme songs or soundtracks for your writing?
Rockin Robin, thank you for all your inspirations!
And thank you again for having me! It was melodious!

Try this BEASTLY QUIZ and find out which beast you are!
(It's part of the August giveaway below.)

by Tara Tyler
Release Date: June 24, 2014 (NOW!)
Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Gabe is an average fifteen-year-old goblin. He’s in the marching band, breezes through calculus, and gets picked on daily by the other kids at school, especially the ogres. But Gabe wants to break out of his nerdy stereotype and try other things. He has his eye on the new ogress at school. Though it’s against all beastly rules, there’s just something about her.

Gabe starts a fad of mingling with other species, forcing the High Council to step in and ruin things by threatening to destroy the school and split up Broken Branch Falls. With help from other outcast friends, Gabe sets out on a quest to save his town. They'll show 'em what different friends can do together!

Available at
B&N ~~~ Amazon
Add it to your GOODREADS list!

Tara Tyler has had a hand at everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After living up and down the Eastern US, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently, she has two series, The Cooper Chronicles (techno-thriller detective capers) and Beast World (MG fantasy) She's an adventure writer who believes every good story should have action, a moral, and a few laughs!

Also by Tara Tyler, techno-thriller detective series,
The Cooper Chronicles, Book One: POP TRAVEL

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

IWSG: Casting Call and DSCP

Today is Wednesday and the monthly installment of sharing our fears with you. It is the day when we expose our ruffled feathers and all of you kind, supportive folks come by and remind us that it "really is okay" and even offer suggestions to bring us back to earth. How awesome is that???? So, thank you, Alex, for bringing us the IWSG. You can follow the link to sign up to participate or simply read blogs from other participants.

I believe that I mentioned James Scott Bell's book on revising and editing in my last IWSG post. He makes many suggestions in order for you to know your characters better. One is casting them with real people. Want to make your character come alive? Give them a face and a voice. If you really want to have fun cast them with someone of the opposite sex. Today we are going with same sex casting. What a fun experiment this was. I encourage you to do it!

Real Name: Georgina Haig
Hello. My name is Gigi. I am the main character in this story. When I was six years old I discovered that touching anything with an emotional fingerprint attached would launch me into a vision of the inciting incident. It was horrifying and scary and I avoid touching anything whenever possible. And still, visions are ruining my life.

Real Name: Michelle Pfeiffer

This is my my mother, Eileen. Yeah, I call her that and have since my father died. She didn't want me to call her "Mom" anymore. She is not the warmest person I have ever met.

Real Name: Emma Stone

This is my best friend, Franny. She was also my neighbor for most of my life and was there the first time I had a vision. She is one of the only people who even knows I get visions. She is spunky and fun and I wish I could be more like her.

Real Name: Susan Sarandon

This is Franny's mom. I call her Mimi, just like her grand kids do. She is the only other person who knows about my visions. Sometimes I pretend she is REALLY my mom. I would be lost without her.

Real Name: Ellen Burstyn

This is Grandma. She is a force of nature. She is my paternal grandmother and the strongest woman I know. Sometimes she scares me with her determination. She wants a lot of things for me. How can I ever measure up?

Real Name: Ian Somerhalder

This is my ex-boyfriend, Leo. He broke my heart back when I was in college. He has now come back into my life and wants another shot. I don't know how I feel about that. Has he changed at all or will he just break my heart again?

Real Name: Cam Gigandet

This is Alex. He works for Grandma and being around him scrambles my brain. He is all questions and no answers.  The thing is that I really want to know those answers. He makes it difficult for me to even concentrate on Leo and what we might or might not have...

Real Name: Emma Watson

This is Megan. She also works for Grandma and is way more than what she seems. Would you be surprised to know that she started working for Grandma after picking the lock on her store and disabling the alarm when she was only twelve? Grandma admires a person will skills. She hired Megan immediately.

Real Name: Logan Lerman

This is Chance. He stole Grandma's car. Turns out he is a computer hacking genius and he might be the one person who can provide the key to saving us all. He also talks non-stop and can't keep his mind off of Megan, who doesn't seem aware that he is breathing, let alone interested.

Now for the DSCP part of this post. Desperately Seeking Critique Partners. If you are interested, please email me: rarichards68 at gmail dot com.

One quick note before I end this post. Mary Chapin Carpenter stomped all over Lucinda Williams in Battle of the Bands. Your votes left it 19-5. I really like both versions but have to go with the majority on this one. I simply cannot vote against MCC.  So, make it 20-5 and we will see you again on the 15th for Battle of the Bands!

Thank you for visiting this episode of the IWSG. Do these people seem more real to you with a face? Have you considered casting your novel? Looking for a CP? Did you vote in Battle of the Bands? If you want to come back on the 15th of this month!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Battle of the Bands ~ Passionate Kisses

 Hello everyone! I am back. If you didn't at least glance over yesterday's HERE'S TO YOU post (there might be something for YOU!), I suggest that you take a moment after this post and do just that!!!

Today is Battle of the Bands!

Okay, stop that hootin' and hollerin' and sit back down. This isn't a high school football game.

Up for today is a song called Passionate Kisses. It was written and first recorded, without much fanfare, by Lucinda Williams. Not saying I don't like her version, because I do (very much). In the early 90s (I am relying on memory here instead of consulting wacky wiki for the answers), Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded the song. It was HUGE for her and won MCC an award (Grammy maybe?) and Lucinda Williams an award as the songwriter that same year. In other words, they both won on this one.

I discovered Lucinda Williams and her music about a decade after all of this went down. Lucinda Williams is one of those grassroots artists that has a tremendous fan base but I have never heard her on the radio. There simply isn't an easy niche that she she fits into. Her version of Passionate Kisses remains true to her overall style. Ironically, after MCC achieved rather a lot of success she, too, stopped recording songs that the radio wanted to play BUT she still puts out albums enjoyed by her loyal fans. I think Passionate Kisses is also very representative of her sound - at least at that time.

First up, the songwriter and the first to record it... Lucinda Williams


Mary Chapin Carpenter (if your vote will be swayed by the images, just listen and do not watch!)

For more Battle of the Bands fun, check out the other BOTB bloggers to vote on their battles:

Now, is the critical moment. It is time to vote for your favorite version of this song. I even encourage you to leave me long comment explaining all the ins and outs of why you voted as you did!