Archive for September, 2006

The Emphasis is On…

A random pretty picture that came on my new computer… and made me homesick. As much as I love Ohio, I started life in California, Richmond, right across this bridge from San Francisco. It’s been a very long time, and many states, in between that childhood of beaches, swimming pools, water ski’s and sunshine…

If I learned only one thing (and I actually learned many) by moving many, many times when I was growing up, it is that people are the same everywhere. They just put emphasis on different things. Even in the 60’s when I was growing up, California emphasis was on appearance. Kids were still hassled about grades, sunday school and the condition of their room, but foremost was instruction in grooming, fashion and fitness. Our first move was to Maryland, culture shock, their emphasis was on education and work, then all the other things. Pennsylvania – the state of your spirit, Indiana – how athletic are you?, North Carolina – manners, manners, manners. In every state, we adapted, changed our family dynamic and blended in. It was especially easy for me, I believe I’m one part magpie (my love of shiny things), one part chameleon.

I wonder, though, if someone trained in psychiatry would look differently at this lack of seperation anxiety? It would have been excellent early training for a con man.


September 30, 2006 at 9:37 am 11 comments

Nibbling Away at Our Rights

There is a company who has decided not to hire smokers. They claim that health insurance is higher for smokers. They’ve also said they’ll fire any employee that doesn’t try to quit smoking … that’s the palatable spin. Since they followed up that news with the fact that they’ll be doing random drug testing for nicotine, they should just say they’re going to fire anybody who smokes.

This policy isn’t really about smoking. While it may sound like a conspiracy theory, it’s really a test to see just how much power big business has to control their employees. Today they’ve chosen smoking, tomorrow they will fire all the red haired, fair skinned people. They have delicate skin and it’s more expensive to treat their sunburns. This policy is testing the ability to strip citizens of their rights.

Today it’s smoking, if they get away with it, tomorrow it could be our right to practice whatever religion we choose, or our right to own property. Unchecked, we are destined to repeat our most hideous pages of history. An employer has the right to control the environment in his workplace, they don’t have the right to control what I do at home.

September 29, 2006 at 6:34 am 19 comments


I walked to the day job today. Unusual for me, but my reason was compelling.

1) As a conscientious citizen I felt the need to save a days gas and oil, and decrease the ozone depleting exhaust from my car.
2) Ever health conscious, I decided I needed to work some junk off my trunk.
3) Always a social creature, I wanted an opportunity to say good morning to my neighbors and shop keepers along the way.
4) It’s pouring down rain and my convertible is leaking, therefore I had to leave it parked and under cover.

Isn’t it amazing how we can rationalize our way to reaching whatever conclusion we want?

September 28, 2006 at 12:08 pm 9 comments

When I’m 64….

I can distinctly remember thinking 40 year old people were ancient (then I turned 40 and got smart). The Beatles considered anyone 64 on deaths door. What do you think you’ll be doing at age 88?

I interviewed this lovely 88 year old lady today who is the driving force behind the Zane Trace Players, a community theater group. They are currently in rehearsal for the musical version of Cindrella, which means the cast is mostly kids. She produces and directs the show, makes all the sets, helps with costumes, lights, advertising, ticket sales… where in the world does she find the stamina? If someone wouldn’t have told me she was 88, I’d have placed her easily in her 60’s.

Because people in my family seem to pass away young (60’s and 70’s), I like meeting people older than that. I’m one of those concrete people who’s rarely sick, my kids tell me regularly that I’ ll live forever. A daunting thought, so I seek out really old people to see what they do with their time. The secret seems to be staying busy. The oldest guy I ever knew died at 100. At 96 he was still recording clerk for the county. Still driving at 98, but he probably shouldn’t have been, we all knew when we saw his cadillac coming down the street to leap out of the way and take cover!

September 27, 2006 at 5:46 pm 3 comments

Fighting Fall

My goodness, what’s up with blogger today? Slow…. This pretty picture from my friend Waldo, could be last year, could be the year before.

It’s fall, that strange time in Ohio, and other places I’m sure, in which you dress for the day in multiple layers. Tank top, sweater, jacket, parka for the morning. By lunch you’re down to the tank top and then you start putting it back on a piece at a time until you’re eating dinner in your down filled coat. Not being a native Ohioian, I refuse to dress in layers. My twisted brain truly believes that if I just keep wearing my flip flops and sandals, summer will not leave. I’m not the only one like that in my town. Two of our three postal workers have a competition to see who wimps out and switches from shorts to pants first. I’ve seen one of them delivering the Christmas Cards in shorts before. But then, a day like today…

It was so cold this morning I couldn’t even get the dog or cats to get up with me. They stayed curled up in the quilt against Pap’s back no matter how much I poked and teased them. I had to defrost the windshield on the car before I left, dodging the kids in coats racing for the bus stop that’s across from the house. It was cold enough on the day job that we turned on the furnace, first time since May, so we’ve had that burnt lint smell floating around. It wasn’t until mid-morning, when I was huddled against the back door in a sunbeam (smoking, shhh… you didn’t see me write that) that I gave up trying to hang on to summer. I heard the honking first, and then the V-of geese flying south.

September 26, 2006 at 1:29 pm 12 comments

Some Funny Things for Monday

Dr. John posted today on the value of laughter. Since he’s a wise man, and I agree totally, I found some funny stuff to share today. This joke was sent to me by my friend Waldo Schmidlapt, and then again by Library Lo, so it’s GOT to be funny.

A woman was sitting at a bar enjoying an after work cocktail with her girlfriends when an exceptionally tall, handsome, extremely sexy middle-aged man entered. He was so striking that the woman could not take her eyes off him. The young-at-heart man noticed her overly attentive stare and walked directly toward her (as all men will). Before she could offer her apologies for so rudely staring, he leaned over and whispered to her, “I’ll do anything, absolutely anything, that you want me to do, no matter how kinky, for $20.00……on one condition.”

Flabbergasted, the woman asked what the condition was. Then he replied,”You have to tell me what you want me to do in just three words.”

The woman considered his proposition for a moment,then slowly removed a $20 bill from her purse, which she pressed into the man’s hand along with her address. She looked deeply into his eyes, and slowly, and meaningfully said….

“Clean my house.”
While I was surfing around yesterday, killing time while a book was printing, I found this new blog that just cracked me up:

September 25, 2006 at 5:18 pm 9 comments

A Diamond in the Rough

Every publisher’s dream is to stumble upon a book with bestselling potential. To pick a manuscript from the submissions list, start reading and see a Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or Ian Rankin like story unfolding.

With unsolicited manuscripts flowing into the big publishing houses like flood water, they have no choice but to find reasons to reject books in order to narrow their search. Bad formatting, bad grammar and sentence structure… these kinds of problems in a manuscript make it easy to reject it.

But if you’re a small house like ours, a shack really, a lean-to against the garage… you dream of the diamond in the rough. A writer like Zane Grey, pictured here. From 1910 until after his death in 1939, Zane Grey was the bestselling western author of all time. He wrote over 90 books, about the west, about fishing, for kids, adults. The man was a writing machine. There is a reason they say behind every great man there’s a woman, and Zane’s was called Dolly. Here is (as Paul Harvey would say) the rest of the story:
Zane’s great success permitted him to have homes in Ohio, California and other places. He travelled frequently and on a trip to California he came up with an idea for a new book. In his usual prolific way he whipped it up and mailed it off to his agent. Sometime later the manuscript was returned to him with a scathing letter from the agent chastising “the imposter” trying to imitate the great Zane Grey. That is when Zane found out that the rest of his manuscripts had been retyped and corrected by his wife Dolly.

What nobody can take away is the fact that Zane Grey was a great storyteller. That he was not always so into proper format, punctuation and spelling can be forgiven, that’s what editors are for. These diamonds in the rough are the author’s my publishing house is hoping to find. Not that we aren’t doing cartwheels when a manuscript like Sandra Ruttan’s “Suspicious Circumstances”, or Theresa Leighton’s “Last” come our way – good stories backed up by professional presentation, but we read everything just in case that next brilliant storyteller isn’t so worried about the rules of the game.

September 24, 2006 at 3:39 pm 11 comments

A Wicked Business

Isn’t that just a stunning sky? A picture from my niece in Texas. Wow, looks like a sky painted by a kid, beautiful.

Our little publishing company has been under attack for the last few days. Very distressing to my partner and I as well as our authors. We went into the publishing business to help new authors that just can’t seem to get a break anywhere but have real talent. After getting a number of submissions that lacked even the most rudimentary structure (400 pages without a single paragraph sometimes!), we thought it might be a good idea to offer an editing service at a very affordable price ($35). Well, apparently that labels you as a scam artist if you charge writers ANYTHING for ANYTHING. The fact that we did was giving our authors piles of grief, it was way too much work anyway, and we really do care about not just being a reputable company, but looking like one too – so we discontinued the service. My partner has written personally to everyone that was questioning our integrity, and while I’ve been proud of him before, he was amazing in this circumstance and has managed to change the minds of many.

When things like this happen, I think always of the penalties for judging others. I don’t think you get slammed for it so much in this world, but I won’t risk being judgemental because of the consequences from the next world. It also makes me sad that some people are so quick to tear down anything that’s not the “norm”. Luckily, I have way too much to do to worry about this for long! Sometimes my many spinning plates come in real handy!

September 23, 2006 at 5:23 pm 9 comments

21 Gun Salute for People Making a Difference

There’s nothing better than a fantasy that becomes a reality, and the news was just filled with encouraging stories this morning. My 21 gun salute this week goes to:

Sir Richard Branson, airline mogul, who has given a 3 billion dollar gift toward development of alternative fuels. Great news on many levels, from the price of gas to global warming. Way to go Sir Richard! I hope his jet setting friends follow his example.

Stephon Marbury, NBA Star for the New York Nicks. He could have been like the rest of the prima dona basketball stars that lend their name to everything from sneakers to sweatshirts for endorsement fees in the millions, but he isn’t. He hooked up with Steve and Barry’s and his shoes, the same ones he wears on the court, are under $15! He wants kids to invest in themselves, not their shoes. Four stars for Stephon!

Walmart and their new drug plan. $4 prescriptions for generic versions of the medicines people need to treat high blood pressure, diabetes and allergies. This salute is maybe only two guns. It may be just a ploy to make us forget that Walmart has a pitiful health plan for their employees, and import almost all of their products instead of buying American. But I do applaud this small effort.

What a great day in the world wide neighborhood!

September 22, 2006 at 8:53 am 9 comments

Worry From the Land Down Under

My body is in Ohio today, but my head is in Australia with my girl down under. If she had a blog or I knew she wouldn’t be mad at me, I would ask everyone, all you nice, funny, compassionate people, to send her a note. She’s had just one tragedy after another over the last week and I’ve never heard her so down.

She and I met over the internet. A pen pal site I think, it’s been awhile ago. We wrote back and forth for a little over a year and then she came here and stayed with us for a month last summer. Like twins from different mothers, Barb and I yakked practically non-stop from her arrival to her departure. Everyone liked her, and I made sure she had a real midwestern summer experience- She was forced to judge the Queen’s contest at the pottery festival, we took her to a baseball game when the weather was so hot even our sweat was sweating, and even tried hooking her up with a date while she was here. Barb is one of those people that is so thoroughly good she glows with it. Smart, wise and funny. Think good thoughts for my girl Barbara.

September 21, 2006 at 5:14 pm 8 comments

Older Posts

The free-lance writer is the person who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. (Robert Benchley)

Welcome to My Neighborhood!

Shortly after I learned to use a spoon, I learned to use a pencil. Crippled by shyness as a child, I found that the things I couldn't say out loud, I could say with a pen, and then a typewriter. The shyness was overcome with education and age...but the need to write has never left me.

Books That Have Toured Here

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You’re Not The Only One

Compiled and edited by Peach, this book includes a story by Kat Campbell, as well as 105 other great writers from across the internet. Proceeds from the sale of this book benefit the War Child Fund. Great reading for you, help for some deserving kids. Order by clicking on LuLu in my links.

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September 2006