Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bo Shorts

Not so short that it would show anything off it she bent over... but there's a short story over at Mysterical-E in their Fall issue.

The story is "Family Affairs of Adult Children." It comes in just under 9k, so make sure you have time to finish.

No matter how old we get, we're still our parent's kids. For better or for worse.

Sometimes it's interesting to muse over the ways my own parents have affected me-- directly, indirectly, intentionally, or perhaps even unintentionally.

One example: being late. My folks are always late-- always have been-- to everything. Now that I am in control of my own car and schedule and such, I am always early. Always.

I live about twenty minutes from the school where I teach. I leave 40 minutes before I have to get there-- incase of traffic or other such unexpected delays. Usually, I get there with twenty minutes before class starts. Better that than being late-- at least for a quiet mouse like myself.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Town Monday: Country Mouse

The delightful Patti Abbott and I paired up again-- she's the City Mouse. She actually likes living in the city... and we paired up this week to do a little City Mouse, Country Mouse post with our respecitve hometowns.

What do I love about living in the country?

I love open fields and forests. Grass between my toes. Crickets and spring peepers. I prefer wild fields and wild flowers over manicured (often too short!) lawns and sparse, sterile flower arrangements. And I like anything growing more than I like anything man made.

I love quiet. I'm a rather solitary wampa hermit crab person. I like to not see in my neighbor's windows. I like, if possible to not hear my neighbor's beyond the occiasional slam of a door or mowing of the lawn. Similarly, I'd prefer they not hear me... especially certain times.

I love wildlife. As a tree-hugger, I like to know that there are still places where bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and even deer (stupid deer) can live and frolic in a natural-ish habitat. That they haven't completely lost their homes.

I love quiet drives down lonely two-lane highways. I love being able to safely make a left onto or off of a road without people behind me getting impatient. Especially since the rustbucket I have doesn't hardly get out of it's own way, and it's not going to do so very fast. (I need a bumper sticker that says: "If you drove this car, you wouldn't pull out either.")

I love star gazing. Even the light pollution from the little cities near me obscures too, too many stars. My trip up to Mackinaw City two years ago made that clear with the bazillions more stars that were obscured by the orange glow of my local cities.

I love that few people in the country are in a hurry. They're patient, understanding, and most of them are pretty nice. Not to mention the sense of community that comes from living together in a small area. (Not to say that it's different in the city, but it is. In the country, the community is the town, all the different people from one corner to the next who meet up in the store or the gas station. In the city, it'd be a neighborhood or a clique.)

I don't miss any of the city stuff-- like drug stores on every corner, traffic, smog, and vistas taht consist of harsh corners and man-made structures. I don't miss mile after mile of ashphalt (which also makes temperatures hotter in the summer.) I don't miss chain stores or noisy neighbors. I lived in downtown Brighton for a spell, and while it was convnient to work, that was the only advantage. Everything eles, I can do with out. I don't particularly go out much anyway. I have this thing where I get easily irritated at stupid people... it flares up a lot when I try to go to the movies or the grocery store.

Though I admit that I like being only a short drive from town. I think more than 30 minutes is too long. Luckily, in Livingston County, there's not much city, so it's possible to live in the sticks and have a job in the "city."

Sadly, my little slice of country is turning more into suburbia (which leads to city. Cities lead to suffering, to the dark side of the force. ;-) But I still think of myself as a country girl. With high speed internet of course.

Are you a Country Mouse or a City Mouse?

And don't forget to visit Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

How disappointing. My husband's car is only 3 years old, with a massive 38,000 miles. And not only did the strut mount fail, but the car is already rusting rather dreadfully on the underside.

Now, there are a couple competing factors, but the outcome is still shock (horror) and disappointment.

1. This is Michigan. One of the Rust Belt states. And Michigan has a delightful obsession with thinking that winter time means that roads should be free from snow. So, there is continally enough salt on Michigan roads to turn black ashphalt white. This salt eats cars. It is the cancer of Michigan cars that can be held at bay for only a little while before it creeps in, slowly destroying a car from the botttom (where you can't see it!) up. My own car has terminal cancer. It has months to live, if that.

2. My husband follows directions well. If you wash your car frequently in Michigan winters, it will delay the inevitable rust. So, if it's 33 degrees, my husband is washing the car. (Me, not so much... hence the death sentence on my own car ;-)

3. My husband's car is the third Cavalier we've owned. The 90 Cavalier didn't rust too bad for some 7-8 years. And was still in good shape, rust wise, when my mechanic got tired of working on it. And the repairs were worth more than the rest of the car was worth. The 94 Cavalier didn't rust too bad until I started driving it about 3 years ago. Heh. Yeah. No lesson learned. It's like they forgot to undercoat it or something.

My cars are supposed to go 200k miles or 10 years, at least. That's the minimum. At the current Rust Rate on Hubby's car, we won't get that. It looks like my rust bucket did a few years ago.

Seems like each car we got has succumbed to rust sooner than the predessor.

It would help if people could just drive in the snow. Then there wouldn't need to be so much stalt. It's not hard if you just slow down and pay attention...oh... never mind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I wish I could say that I've fallen into a nice routine now that the semester is nearly four weeks old.

But when I lie, I prefer to do it in more interesting and entertaining ways. Like fiction.

I can't seem to get a routine in place. I'm not behind on anything, but it feels like if I could just get into a routine, I'd have less wasted time. And more time to write. I feel like I'm running just to keep from falling behind. =/

In the meantime, I've made some progress on the current batch of revisions on the first Novel and done a couple rounds of revisions on a submitted and almost accepted short story.

I also read the 'Hell of a Woman' Anthology, which I highly recommend. Some of the stories made me want to reach into the pages and kneecap the women, but most of them featured dames who can keep their shit together. (My preference!) Over all, a good read.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Town Monday: A My Town Meme

Couple weeks back, Travis Erwin, the man behind My Town Monday, posted a Meme. I was doing my series on railroads, so I put it off. Until now. But here it is-- my My Town Meme

HOMETOWN (past, present, or future - your choice) -- Livingston County. Okay, it's a county, not a town. But having lived in Howell, Brighton, and Hamburg; student taught in Hartland; attended school in Pinckney, I can't really pick one of these towns and call it my town. So I call the county my home.

POPULATION -- 2000 census put the poplation about 156,000. The 2007 estimate was 183,000, but I'm not sure if the numbers have maintained the formerly-expected growth. Like the rest of Michigan, Livingston County was nailed in the back of the economic skull and knocked to it's knees. Houses are empty all over the places, and I have to think the population has been affected. Unfortunately, there are still too many people in Livingston County...

YOU SHOULD THINK OF MY TOWN WHEN ... you think of Bo Fexler, Patti Abbott, or Michigan beyond Detroit. Other than that, Livingston County is just another partly-rural area in a midwest state. But the coolest shaped state.

YOU SHOULD CUSS MY TOWN WHEN ... another suburban school is rocked by some stupid scandal that comes about from a combination of oblivious parents, too much money, and not enough responsibility. We're not the cause for such anation-wide stupidity, but we're just one more place in the U.S. where parents are too concerned with their SUV and McMansion payments who thought living in the "country" (Ha!) would solve the problems with their never-disciplined kids. Yea. At least it's job security for me as an alternative high school teacher. ;-)

ONE MUST SEE IF YOU VISIT -- Downtown Brighton-- visit the Imagination Station, the Tridge, and the Yum-Yum Tree.

ONE PLACE YOU SHOULD AVOID -- The Double Roundabout from Hell on Lee Road at US-23. There's nothing wrong with roundabouts in general, but this one is three double roundabouts damn near on top of each other. And too that the elistist jerks in Brighton who think that whatever direction they are going has the right of way... it gets interesting sometimes. Besides, the only thing on the other side is another stupid ass mall that replaced a lovely open field. =(

FAMOUS RESIDENT -- Edwin B. Winans, one time governor of Michigan, once upon a time ago.

RENOWNED ATHLETE -- Drew Henson. Brighton High School graduate who played University of Michigan football. Then went off to play with the Yankees. He's currently on the practice team with the Detroit Lions. (Snicker... practice squad for one of the worst teams. Wow.)

WITHOUT MY TOWN, THE WORLD WOULD NOT HAVE ... Hell. Hell Michigan is one of the locales in Michigan. So, if you didn't know, you can tell someone to "Go to Hell" without being profane. Or you can do like some of the sneaky kids around here will and say, "Go to Hell... Michigan."

I LIVE IN MY TOWN BECAUSE ... I always have. My folks moved here when I was about four (or so I'm told). I grew up in an old farmhouse between Hamburg and Pinckney. I got my first "real" job at a local chain retailer in Brighton. I worked there to pay for my expensive schooling at a local Teaching University. Then I met this guy... at the retailer where I worked. We worked together, then got an apartment together. So we stayed. Then I got a teaching job at a lcoal alternative high school, and we still stayed. Though we got exiled to our current home out past the edge of civilization. And here we are. My family is still around. His family is not far away. We'll be local yokels for life, I'm sure.

I MIGHT LEAVE ONE DAY BECAUSE ... well, I was going to say 'if I got enough money for a place on the island of Kuaii' but I think I'll always be a local yokel. I like being a 'troll' and living under the (Mackinac) Bridge. I like living in the mitten-shaped, and there for COOLEST shaped state ever. If I got enough money to have a place on Kuaii, it would only be a vacation home. But, man, that would be nice. =)

Any questions?

Don't forget to see Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

For Potential New Fans

Bo Fexler has a few fans that I know of-- and I love every one of you! But one of the things I've been chewing over while driving back and forth to work is how to best introduce Bo to potential new fans.

She's not the most warm, loving character. And she uses sex to get what wants. There will be some people for whom this will probably be a turn off before they get past page one. For some people, the mere mention of bedroom activities is enough to put down a book. I accept that. (Fools!)

But there are others for whom the context of such naughty activities is more important. Perhaps I can get them to overlook this trait of Bo's by showing that there's more to Bo than a sexy dame who uses her body because she can.

That also started me thinking about why, exactly, Bo uses sex and in what situations. An amusing character study, especially the part during the hour I sat on I-96 while traffic came to a dead stop.

So, now I have a better understanding of why Bo does what she does. The other problem is how to introduce snippets of that, along with introducing Bo, introducing the investigation, and not bogging down in the first couple chapters of my first, as yet-unrepresented-first-novel.

I've finally come to the conclusion that there is way too fucking much to try to do in the first couple chapters. I'm not sure what can give-- character or plot. Since Bo's such a difficult character, I'm leaning towards slowing the plot at bit at the start to introduce her and show that there's something more than a sexy, manipulative woman.

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bo Story

Bo's been spotted over at DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash in a little short story called "Sex Act." A little naughty fun with some handcuffs and Bo.

Check it out.

And clean up after yourself when you're done. ;-)

  • Novel #2 Progress: 20k ish
  • Query Status: holding with one partial while I make some revisions to the intro chapters for better characterization
  • Currently Writing: Novel #1 Revisions, short story "Hit Woman"
  • Current Song: Objection (tango) by Shakira

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My Town Monday: 8 Mile Road

8 Mile Road bears significance and importance in Detroit. 8 Mile is the dividing line between the city limits of Detroit and the suburbs. Eminem's movie was called 8 mile and refers to the distinction between living IN Detroit and in the suburbs. Patti Abbott has more on 8 Mile Road in Detroit.

Though, truthfully, out in Livingston County, I consider anything East of Wixom to be part of "Metro Detroit." And as such, I prefer to avoid it like a sleepover of giggly pre-teen girls.

Eight Mile Road extends west from Detroit out to the Livingston County area. Techinically it's part of Wasthenaw County.

Out here, the significance of 8 Mile road is that...

It ends. Otherwise, it's just another dirt road.

Here's the end of 8 Mile-- at Marshall. Eight Mile comes in from the left. The road curving away on the right side of the pic is Marshall. Here is the inauspicious end to 8 Mile Road.

And it meant so much in Detroit.

Not only is 8 Mile in these parts just another dirt road, it's actually a barely-traveled dirt road that's infrequently maintined.

It was so riddled with potholes that we couldn't even manage 10 miles per hour without jarring out fillings and stopping to pick up parts that would fall of the car. (Well, parts would have fallen off except we had Hubby's shiny new car not my monument to Michigan's Love of Winter Salting.)

Out in the sticks, it's always amusing to find a section of paved road in the middle of a dirt road. This section goes across a stream... which I can't find the name of at this time.

After Pontiac Trail, 8 Mile is paved and heads off to... well as far as I'm concerned it heads off into lands with dragons and such. It's not part of my personal map. That's East... towards Metro Detroit. Where roads have more than three lanes and there are... people.

According to Google Maps, 8 Mile heads off into Northville.

8 Mile is just south of the town of South Lyon. For many years there wasn't anything at 8 Mile. It was just a stop sign outside of town. But now it boasts a traffice light and stores and stuff.

I like the dirt part better. Much quieter.

This shot is waiting to turn left at Pontiac Trail. Hubby was driving as we went to go play with my bothers. I have three of them. What better thing to do when the remnants of Hurricane Ike stroll into town than go play cards.

Out here 8 Mile is just another road. And if you're heading into South Lyon, 9 or 10 Mile roads are better. So 8 Mile is a barely traveled road that few people even notice.

Funny how context matters.

Don't forget to visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bait and Switch Scam

After careful observation, I have determined that dating is the advertisement for a bait-and-switch scam that is marriage.

Consider the evidence:
When dating-- participants will clean up, comb hair, brush teeth, and dress nicely (if at all possible, and be embarrased if they cannot.)
When married-- participants will roll out of bed in wrinkled sweats/ tee shirt, spend only enough time in the bathroom for bodily functions, and make excuses for why they cannot/ need not tidy up.

When dating-- participants will overlook small slights, like leaving socks on the floor or stopping to check make-up
When married-- participants will cause arguments over the socks left on the floor (slob!) or stopping to check make-up (you look fine, we're going to be late!)

When dating-- participants will exclude all other activities to be with each other, especially if they are having sex
When married-- participants will exclude each other and sex for anything else, especially if it doesn't include the partner

When dating-- participants only speak in glowing, loving terms about their partner
When married-- participants only complain about what their louse of partner has not done now.

When dating-- participants take time to build a relationship with their partner, sharing interests and activities, discussing things and just being with each other
When married-- participants can go days without spending any time together or discussing anything beyond who was supposed to cook dinner or take out the trash or who did it wrong.

My solution-- don't do anything while dating that you wouldn't be willing to do for the rest of your life. No false advertising.

No one pretends that a friendship left to wither without attention and affection will last. But a couple will live in the same house with no attention and no affection and wonder how their relationship died. Um, look, you don't water the garden, it dies.

Marriage is like a garden. With WORK, it can grow into a wonderful, beautiful thing.

That's not say that somedays the work doesn't seem more like shoveling shit than building something nice...

Okay. I got that out of my system. Now I can go back to nodding and spouting socially acceptable phrases as people around me complain about how their marriage/long term relationship is suffering.

(Me? Married 7 years, dated him for 3 before the wedding. Still in love with the guy. No bait-and-switch here, thankfully.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sales Pitch

So, I use 'The Big Sleep' in my Movies vs. Books course (an English credit.) It's an old book with unusual language and a narrator who's quirky. All reasons I love it, but consider the audience-- mostly guys who read only school books 'if they have to.' So I've got to sell this book, get them interested. It's not hard really.

My sales pitch sounds like a disclaimer: "If there's anyone who doesn't want to read a book that includes references to alochol use, drug abuse, murder, and pornography, you can let me know and I'll get you an atlernative book. There's nothing explicit, but these things are part of the book." They start reading the back of the book and flipping pages to see if they can spot the first instance of pornography.

I go on to say, "I would probably never get this book approved in a traditional high school. Again, there's nothing explicit, but there are potentially objectionable things in the story." They're already reading the first page.

Now, I wish I could hook an agent that easily.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It Hasn't Quite Sunk in Yet

I quit my job. Sunday was my last day as a retail employee. After 11 years, it doesn't seem quite real that I will never again walk into that place with my red shirt and my namebadge (that I never wore anyway).

I still have three other jobs, plus writing, so it's not like I'm going to be bored or anything. But it just seems so weird to think that I no longer work at the retail supercenter that claimed my weekends, holidays, and sanity for eleven years.

Although I did get a Husband out of my retail job. Those supercenters-- if you look in the right spot, you can find not only milk, shoes, and goldfish, you can even find a spouse. Mine was in the Toy Department.

We were the "couple from Toys." We had quite the reputation for being super employees. And now the era has come to an end. Though truthfully, it came to an end sometime ago, when I left to teach and he left for another job. That was the fall of Rome, this is just the end of the Byzantine Empire.

We went out to eat to celebrate the end. And the beginning of sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

But it still feels weird. Like "phantom watch syndrome" I keep thinking I have to go back.

Monday, September 8, 2008

My Town Monday: Lakeland Trail & GTW Railroad

The third railroad to run through Livingston County was the Grand Trunk Western. In the 1980s, this train track was dismantled, leaving the rail bed through the county as a gravel trail. It ran through South Lyon into Hamburg and through the Pinckney/ Lakeland area and beyond.

Lakeland is no longer a place on the map, but it was a railroad station on the GTW and a resort destination on the shores of Zukey Lake.

Before the automobile, there were quite a few advertisements in the papers for excursions to Lakeland, even with special rates for those who worked on the Ann Arbor Railraod.

(Picture borrowed from michiganrailroad.com )

With this picture in mind, I set out the other day to find where this is. The railroad station is gone, and the Ann Arbor Rail (aka TSBY) sees only the infrequent train. Also, the area looks quite different in 2008 than it did in 1909 when the photo was taken.

But I set out to the Zukey Lake area.

Looking east the ashpalt in the bottom right corner is the now-paved Lakeland Trail which was constructed along the old Grand Trunk Western line. The rail line is the Ann Arbor.

Further east, the Lakeland Trail crosses the Ann Arbor rail. But the crossing is not the diagonal junction that the rails originall made. I suppose with good reason. The new crossing is perpendicular-- and all fenced in. The Ann Arbor is still a live rail line. Cross at your own risk.

(This photo is looking WEST)

Shortly past the junction, the lakeshore clears and there lies Zukey Lake. Looking quite refreshing on a beautiful summer day. No beach hear, or line of boats anymore, but I'm pretty sure this is the shore where the 1909 passengers disembarked in the above photo.

In the 1980s, this shot (again borrowed from michiganrailraods.com) shows the two railraods. The GTW was already abandoned, it was just a matter of time before the rails would be removed and the line left as a gravel trail.

This is that same crossing in 2008-- if you look closly at the rear of picture you can see where the metal fencing stops. That's where the the Lakeland Trail crosses the AA line.

I'm standing (to take the picture) roughly where the Lakeland Trail veers off from the original GTW railbed. The line would likely have continued straight from where I'm standing, diagonally intersecting the AA rail.

Originally, the GTW and AA rail did not have seperate lines in Lakeland (as that junction was eventually called.) The AA line actually came up to the GTW line near Lakeland and joined with that rail for several miles before breaking off to head north. Then, as rail traffic increased, a separate line was created with the crossing shown in the photos.

For most of my life the "Lakeland Trail" was really just an unofficial thing, with a handful of people who traveled the old railroad bed.

Most of it was just partially overgrown gravel. It's curious to me that in twenty years, grass has still not completely overtaken the trail.

This spot here is where the trail crossed M-36, a two-lane thorough fare that is quite hazzardous most of the day.

From what I can tell, the project came about around 2005 with the trail being paved starting at near the township offices in Hamburg and continuing across Hamburg Township and into the town of Pinckney.

At some point the trail reverts to gravel. I didn't walk/bike/ navigate the trail... I make no excuses-- I just never have.

But I do know that when you get out to the abandoned Pinckney depot, the trail is gravel again.

This shot is taken looking East along the trail. The trail continues west at least through the tiny town of Stockbridge, and perhaps on for ever.

Along the way, the GTW/ Lakeland trail cross M-36. When the Trail was made into a linear state park, some foresight actually went into dealing with the problem of crossing M-36. A tunnel was built under M-36.

Which is also important because near that tunnel is Cap'n Frosty, our local ice cream shop. Last time I went there (gosh, I think I was still just dating my hubby...) they had the biggest ice cream scoops I have ever seen. The one scoop ice cream was the equivalent of a three scoop anywhere else. Don't ask about the three scoop...

While I was out taking pictures, there was a(n all-too familiar) hoot. And a chug-chug.

A train came rolling on down the AA rail line. Some of the cars even had the letters TSBY (Tuscola Saginaw Bay) printed on the side.

That was too cool.

Even if there was no caboose... trains should have cabooses.

Hubby doesn't understand why I think trains are cool... because the rest of the time I'm bitching about how I will never, ever so-help-me live next to a railraod crossing again. I maintain that trains are cool so long as I'm not living next to them. And besides the AA railroad engineers aren't nearly as obnoxious as the CSX ones are at railraod crossings.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Need a Tourniquet

My bank account is hemorrhaging!


I keep trying to convince Hubby to prostitute himself for extra cash. He's a good looking guy. He should be able to get a few takers.

For some reason he never goes for the idea.

I could be his pimp.

He just laughs at me.

He laughs at me a lot. He says it's becuase he thinks I'm funny. Sometimes I think he might just be laughing at me.

I still think he could make good money at a prostitute.

Since he's not going for that, I guess I'd better get to work making money some other way. That bank account isn't going to heal by itself.

I wonder if he'd agree to be a male stipper...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Coffee Shops

I've heard and glimpsed those folks who truck out to coffee shops with their laptops and their lattes to work on whatever project they're working on. But you'd be more likely to find me in a convent than you would in a coffee shop working.

Now, I admit my bias-- I'm a hermit crab. I prefer to stay in my little cave. I have my computer and my internet, all my foods in the fridge (and it's all safe). I have my notebooks, my dictionaries and thesaurasi, my baby names book and my private eye reference books and a couple other wordsmithing tools. So I just don't see the benefit of heading OUT someplace where I have none of this to work.

I had a hard enough time working in the Reading Room at the University I attended for four years. With the people coming and going and the occaisional cell phone or other conversation to eavesdrop on, it was very distracting at I soaked it in and mused over the stories that might go along with these characters.

The only reason I can come up with making the foray to work at a coffee shop or some other wi-fi hot spot is for that free wireless connection. Of course, I have internet at home-- that's non-negotiable. I'd rather sit in the cold and dark than not have internet.

Though I have to wonder if my persective would change if my main job didn't get me out of the house... and working with ever-delightful adolescents who don't tend to like school, teachers, or work.

Or it could just be that I'm a quite, introverted person. The kind no one expects to be writing about a kick-ass woman who trades sexual favors for information. And that kind of writing should probably best done at home... for various reasons. ;-)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

I had every intention of making a My Town Monday Post today. I have the pictures and everything. But Labor Day left me all tired out.

Not from playing or frolicking. From working. While Labor Day is a day off to honor the working masses, there is still a large mass of people who don't get the day off. Ironically, the day to honor the little guy in the work world does is no good for the littlest guy-- those in retail, restaurants, and other service jobs. The lowest paying jobs.

At least I get paid time and a half for my toiling today. And there weren't enough managers around to notice me hiding working in the back today. Hubby got neither when he went to work today. But the end result of my hard, dirty work today is that I am too tired to much enjoy the last day of summer vacation.

Sure I'll put my feet up with a cool drink while the sun sinks into the horizon. For a couple hours. But I gotta finish getting everything printed, gathered and ready for the first day of school tomorrow.

I hope those of you who had the day off were able to enjoy it. And for those of you, like me who worked it, I hope you make sure you enjoy the days off you do have. Whether it's a national holiday or a just a regular day off, make sure to relax and take some time for yourself. The chores will still be there.

For those of you writers-- do you consider writing "work" or is it still "fun"? Can it be both? If you wrote all Labor Day, would you consider that working?