Workspace or Potential Hoarding Episode?

It is the last day of my vacation. Sigh. I’m perusing my to-do list, and have completely accomplished close to two of the ten items I had written down. Yup. I have to confess that the internet is an evil, evil curse that has me in its vice-like grip on a daily basis. Lest you think I’ve just been shopping at Amazon (ok, maybe a little) and reading about Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrests, most of it has been productive work on my alter-ego’s blog, research, sales promos, putting together and ordering some SWAG, and other social media concerns.

But seriously – I just don’t have time for a job. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for homelessness either, so off to work I shall go tomorrow.

(Random side note: As I am in the process of writing an historical erotic manuscript, I find that the cadence of my prose has taken on a decidedly 19th century lilt. Stuff of nonsense!)

Okay, I’m back. On the plus side, each day as I have forced myself to “close tabs” on internet explorer, I have managed to squeeze out  approximately 16K words on said historical work. 4K more, and I will have reached my vacation goal. It could happen. Remember – sleep is for wimps. The other plus side is that I had a BLAST with my family last weekend when we actually left the confines of our little coastal world and went somewhere. Shocking, I know. We had two eating and shopping and eating, and more eating packed days, first at the Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood –

Reason # 1 for the visit: they filmed the exteriors of The Shining here.

Now we’ve been on the Pacific Crest Trail in California & Oregon. Okay, not for more than a few hours – but it still counts!

There were chipmunks running around the dining room where we ate at their amazing lunch buffet. Gordon Ramsey would be scandalized. I thought they were cute. What’s a little rodent hair amongst friends? And then we continued our frivolity in Portland at the Pittock Mansion

Kashmere with John – Lord of the Manor

 

Living Room/Slash Music Room

And the Washington Square Mall and Cheesecake Factory where much money was spent on doo-dads and smelly stuff from Hot Topic, Spencer’s and Bath & Body Works, culminating with a birthday feast at the Cheesecake Factory. At one point, I was certain I would never be hungry again (as if) – we ate so much.

 

(2nd random side note: I was so inspired by the Lodge & the Mansion, that they are now being featured as locales in my sci-fi romance epic, which, God help me, shall be finished one day. After the other myriad projects. And stuff.)

Which brings us all back to my last day of vacation. On the sad little list is an entry that says “Clean-up and organize workspace”. If I’d had an ounce of intelligence, that would have been the very first thing I tackled. How I get anything accomplished is beyond me. But I realize I’ve always battled the whole ‘paper’ thing. I can remember complaining to someone years ago – prior to the advent of PC’s for every man, woman & child on the planet – that I was drowning in paper. Once the PC came along, I thought all my worries would be solved. Yet – all that has seemed to accomplish is to produce more and more paper. I should write a horror film about the Revenge of the Killer Document.

Alright, prepare to be frightened:

I know its in here somewhere…

You should have seen the office back when I had the record label – now that was epic. Band photos, post cards, lists of distributors, flyers, radio charting, festival lists, record store lists (back when those still existed) and Lord only knows what else. A great deal of it tends to be my frenzied scribbles on scraps of paper whenever anything leaps into my frazzled little mind.

So even though the rest of the house is a well-oiled, meticulously kept clean machine (courtesy of the hubby, who has kindly decided not to divorce me over my little corner of paper hell), this one area needs some serious help. In the interest of heel-dragging and not cleaning it up, I have elected to write this post. But by doing so, I have also crossed one more thing off of my list.

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Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard

How long has it been – twelve years or something? Note to person who left me a message on Facebook six months ago – I never remember to check “other” messages, and now it won’t let me reply.

Anyway. The last two months have been…lame. So I’m going to pretend they didn’t happen, and we can just move on from there, ‘kay?

My alter-ego has completely taken over my life (the part that isn’t being taken over by my day gig – oops, I forgot – I wasn’t supposed to go there), so it’s very difficult to remember that there’s this other person named Wren Andre. Sort of like the premise for the Stephanie Meyer book “The Host“, soon to be a major motion picture. Hopefully, the first half of that film won’t be as excruciatingly boring as the book was. It got better after the first four hundred pages. Good thing I don’t give up easy.

I am feeling the need however, to hang on to a tiny part of me, and to not just completely let my Host envelop me. Especially since she spends way too much time contemplating naughty situations and positions for her characters to get in. For those who are wondering my opinion: Yes, I think Fifty Shades is going to help the genre and garner new readers. And despite the level of writing, you have to give credit: she created two characters that transcended horrible copy-editing and rampant overuse of the term “Oh my”. Isn’t that what readers want – to be engaged and lost in the lives of these fictional creatures? Most people don’t read fiction to critique it for an English Lit. class, they read it to enjoy it. Get over your jealousy people. I have. Almost.

With that said, let’s see if I can get back into some nostalgic writing here soon. That’s the plan, as I’m happy to say that my one year-anniversary happened somewhere around now, I’m pretty sure. For those of you following my pod-person’s journey, she has just completed the final line edits to her second release coming out in September, and is wrapping up the submission draft for part one in her three book series. That has been gruesome – I estimated each book would be 30 – 40, 000 words – and the first one comes in at almost 50 K. It’s not even the writing that’s the epic part – it’s the re-writes for something that long. Seriously – one of the characters somehow stole the other character’s Ford Bronco halfway in ( I accidentally switched their cars around – duh), and things like time of day (was it morning or evening?), name of a restaurant, have three or four days gone by – all of it becomes monumental the longer the thing is. No pun intended.

I’d might as well throw this in as well – my publisher has opened up a new line called “Clandestine Classics”. Remember Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Well, take out the zombies and add in smutty scenes instead. They announced it to the world a couple of weeks ago, and the press has been crazy. Yes – my alter-ego made a proposal since they sent out the submission call only to their authors, so we’ll see. Sorry – I can’t tell you which one! Here’s a you tube video with a segment that Jimmy Kimmel live did on CC when the press broke (pretty hilarious):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5ZIlC5vZ48

Finally, the most exciting news of all: I pick up Lord Chumsley, my bearded dragon, tomorrow morning. He’s a big fella’ and will keep me company here by my computer. I shall post lizard photos soon.

Exercising My Right to Freely BBQ

I am so off schedule, it’s up there with completely ridiculous. Obviously, my posting at this blog has suffered greatly, and most of you who follow along on my writing journey know that it’s due to the recent publication of my alter-ego’s first book.

Quick update: Going great – seems like a good response so far. No reviews or royalty statement, so I am currently in Wonderland as to how many units have sold and whether or not people love or hate this thing. For my impatient demeanor, that has been frustrating, yet to be expected. I am moving to phase 2 of promo; after the virtual blog tour for the anthology, I am now setting up – or supposed to be setting up, sigh – the next blog tour for the standalone release on June 11th. More on that later.

That actually brings me to the present, and why I’m even more off-schedule. It’s been a non-stop drama-fest at work for the last week or so with more ch-ch-ch-changes. Some of you will remember that my position was eliminated in a corporate re-structuring (paste my name and face on thousands upon thousands of Americans around the country) blablabla three months ago. Due to my friend and co-worker’s enormously wise decision to escape from Hellhouse, my job has just become available again. Which would mean going back to salary exempt, staying up all hours to write, being exhausted, and not getting to make homemade potato salad and Sopapilla cheesecake pie (thanks for that recipe, very wise co-worker) on a holiday Monday that I get to spend with my family. The financial reward? A few hundred bucks. Not that I don’t need that few hundred bucks (I do), but I still haven’t seen that royalty statement yet. Will it replace that money? And haven’t we survived these last few months without it? And if I don’t make up the money now, won’t a few months down the road (and more completed writing) replace it then?

Enter my boss who swooped down on our little beach hamlet last Monday to grill us all like day-old grilled cheese sandwiches ( I have no idea what that means) on what our workplace intentions were. And to ask if I’d like my old job back. Uh…….hmmmmmmm…well….NO. I need to stay true to my writing path, and my sanity. And, okay, I confess; I did have a little bit of a “HA! NOW you want me! Forget it…” moment. But hey, I’m human, and I have been taking it in a part of my anatomy that shall remain unmentioned, quite a lot lately at this job.

I am now officially the trouble-maker. Or, the worse than ever before trouble-maker. But I need to stay true to my path here, and to my family that is also along for the ride. However, it’s been stressful because since I didn’t make it easy by neatly filling in the gap at work just as we go into our busy season, the boss is not thrilled. I did leave the position available for others – one in particular – who would do great and really benefit from it – but not according to the corporate rules and regulations. In other words, the expected and proper line of ascension up the corporate ladder. Such nonsense. So I say – they are bringing it on themselves, which is why all of this happened in the first place. Had well enough been left alone, my wise co-worker and I might have just stuck it out. But once she got my job – in addition to the essentially two jobs she was already doing – dumped on her, well, there’s only so much one person can take in the name of corporate down-sizing.

But here we are, it’s a nice day, and we’re all celebrating (those who don’t work retail anyway) the freedoms we have because others sacrificed and fought for us. I haven’t had a holiday day off like this in the four years since I took this job, so I’m going to exercise my right to BBQ – and to be with my family for a change. Happy Memorial Day to my American friends out there!

 

It’s Here! And it Needs to be Promoted…

I thought I would check in with y’all since I am so overloaded currently, that even pretending to write about my far-distant freak show past would be a useless exercise, so instead, I shall bring everyone up to date.

My alter-ego’s first book was released yesterday! Yee-ha! I have been a very well-behaved modern author, and have been booking and following through on a virtual blog tour promo schedule. There are giveaways, excerpts, thought-provoking (one can only hope) posts, interviews and such to deal with on a daily basis over the next few weeks. Once that concludes, than the stand alone comes out a little earlier than I originally thought: June 11th. This means another round of promo events. Then in August, the print version of the anthology comes out – more promos. September? Why that’s when the second book comes out. Hopefully, as suggested recently by the publisher, I will have turned in the first of my three-book series, so that an excerpt can be included in the back. Hmmmm…I sense a pattern here.

Many writers have lamented the fact that they have to be their own marketing gurus. It’s not that you don’t get support from your publisher, but that support can vary massively, depending on the publisher’s muscle. Translated: cash flow. I feel very fortunate with my marketing person and the publisher.  They take their business very seriously, and have been successful at it, when many others in the relatively new erotica genre have failed. My direct contact is communicative, creative and very involved. They have offered me multiple opportunities to get my name out there: writing articles, peer reviews, chat groups and so on. They’ve provided me with free review copies, in addition to the lists they already send out to. But they also have anywhere from 4 -8 new releases EVERY week, some are anthologies, so to think they are spending all of their energy on one book from an untried author is – as my boss at work would say – crack-smoking madness.

It’s here, and it needs to be promoted. It’s also my baby, my responsibility. Which means that every day I’m not taking advantage of the opportunity presented to me currently, is another day I’m slapping another writer trying to get their work out there in the face. In the interest of not slapping any of my wonderful writer compatriots in the face, I want to assure you that I have been staying on top of it. Of course, that means other things suffer. Like my writing.

The time and energy to keep up with writing my memoir pieces at this blog – which are for my soul, no less – has been greatly compromised. So has the writing time I need to put in to the first book in the series my new editor said she was very interested in, and would recommend to the publisher. That cannot be neglected. So now, even at this small level, all of this gives me a glimpse into a full-time writer’s future. It’s not unexpected. I figured it would be like this. Figuring and living are two very different things though.

Other little realizations: I still want to do this. I’m absolutely okay with climbing on to the writer hamster wheel. Also – writing guest blog posts and answering interview questions is helping me to think on my feet more. Writing under pressure and deadline is helping me to keep the writing flowing better. I am becoming –  I feel anyway – a well-oiled machine. Is this good? I think so. It beats sitting around wondering what to write about, and maybe getting a page or two down, or a couple random ideas, and then deciding I hate it later on. The other day I scheduled seven hours of writing on the new book, and gave myself a 5,000 word goal. I felt I was over-reaching a little, but I am feeling the pressure to get these guys out there – they are all going to be between 30-40,000 words each – so I need to quit screwing around. Once I set my mind to it – I hit 5,200 words in the allotted time. I even liked most of the words afterwards.

Speaking of which, I have another 5,000 word goal today. And of course, another promo blog post to do for the new baby…

But It’ll Learn Ya’…

…way, way better than school. ( Heart – “Cook With Fire” from Dog & Butterfly.)

Yes – I am still on a tangent. Billie and her evil spirit buddies will have to wait a few more days – so I will understand if you fast forward to the future. And if you are capable of that skill – please let me know how you do it. Anyway, here’s a little story from when I was a young pup back in the eighth grade. It was not a more innocent time; frankly I don’t believe such an animal exists. The times have all been varying degrees of anti-innocence. The differences have primarily been the era – and the degree to whether or not fast food was available – in which the lack of innocence occurred.

A few of you had the rare privilege of attending the same crappy private religious school with me. For those few I say: sorry to remind you it existed. For the rest of you, I offer some background. Crappy private religious school in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley: check. Typical awkward middle schoolers fighting for their spot on the ladder of eighth grade society: check. Teachers and administrators kissing up to the parents with the most cash to keep said school from sinking into oblivion: check. Come on everybody, here we go! (Peter Pan)

I’ve always had a not-so-healthy dose of drama bred into me, and even though I was finally coming out of the weird anti-social cloud I had previously inhabited when I was in grade school, I was hardly the epitome of awesomeness. Especially acceptable eighth grade awesomeness. I was a nerd, and it wasn’t until a couple of grades later that I learned how to work my nerdette into some sort of grand – albeit limited – social status. In the eighth grade I was merely one of the faceless masses that slogged through each day.

I longed for more. Like everyone else, I wanted to better my space in the universe. I just never considered accomplishing it by squashing others around me. I had already been infected by the acting bug earlier, and I saw hiding behind another persona a good ticket to escaping from whatever loathsome creature I perceived that I was. The eighth grade teacher – lets call him Mr. Roberts – was a young, blond cutie that most of the girls and one angry, rotund fellow teacher swooned over. We weren’t allowed to lust, it was against the rules. He was somehow put in charge of putting together some colonial play of some sort to support what we had supposedly learned in American history that year. Since I have no recollection of what this play was actually about, it’s rather apparent how compelling it was.

Several of us, including my eighth grade best friend – lets call her Joanie – excitedly got ready for the auditions. I don’t know if I blocked a lot of this play out like a bad Vietnam experience, but I seriously can’t remember the auditions, or much else about the specific play. The events surrounding it however have that memory imprint in my brain the way that some things do from the past. Finally the results were announced – I was in! Joanie, however, wasn’t. She was not at all gracious about her loss and my win. She was actually quite angry and hurt. I felt really bad.

I became determined that I would find a way for her to be involved. There were a lot of ensemble groups – I have a vague memory of a courtroom and jury – couldn’t she just be on stage during one? I mean, what would it hurt? I brought it up to Mr. Roberts.

“I’m sorry Wren. We’ve already announced the cast, and it would be unfair to others who didn’t make it, they would want to be included too. Plus, we are already having trouble coming up with enough costumes for this thing, I couldn’t possibly add another person.”

“Well,” I said, suddenly coming up with one of my bright ideas that have a tendency to kick me in the ass rather than help me, “Her mom is a seamstress. She could make Joanie’s costume for her, and maybe, if her daughter was in the play, she might be more likely to help with the other costumes!”

Mr. Roberts pondered this interesting piece of information. “Let me think about it. I’ll talk to Joanie and see if she thinks her mom would really do that.”

I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to tell my friend that I had gone out on a limb for her, and everything would work out. And it did. For Joanie anyway. One day before rehearsal, Mr. Roberts took me aside. Maybe I was going to get an even bigger part, or maybe he just wanted to thank me for helping out. Joanie’s mom had really stepped in and taken over the whole costume thing.

“Wren, I need to talk to you about something. It turns out that the play is a little too long, and we need to cut a couple of the scenes. Unfortunately, your scene was one of the ones we had to cut. I’m really sorry.”

I was stunned, and yes, my stomach did drop. I’m sure many of you know exactly how that feels. “But, I can still be in the play, right?”

“Uh…I guess you don’t quite understand. I’m really sorry, but we have nowhere else for you to be. And we’re actually going to be needing your costume back so that we can give it to one of the other cast members. It will save us some time and money.”

Since rehearsals took place after school, and everyone – except me – was still in rehearsal, the halls were pretty much empty when I dazedly made my way back to my locker. Somehow the act of turning the combination dial on my locker unleashed a fit of sobs. Cristal, an acquaintance who shared a class with me and Joanie, noticed me and came over to see what was wrong. I told her my whole wretched story. Apparently, Joanie had already filled her in. Mr. Roberts had told her and asked her to be really nice to me – oh, and to make sure she got the costume back from me. Joanie was intimating to the other kids that she was much better than me in the play, and that was why they were using her instead of me.

As you can imagine, I had some pretty hurt feelings, and confused ones as well. Would my best friend, Joanie, really say such a thing? It seemed unlikely. I was thirteen folks, I didn’t fully get yet that we were all in a life rehearsal on how to treat one another. That this kind of crap would continue. And continue. And continue. The one thing I should have been paying attention to, as if I were the protagonist in a horror novel, is how to recognize the cues of bad human behavior, and then how to run screaming away from said human. In novels, it’s a device called “foreshadowing”. In my story, this was the foreshadowing, but I was thirteen and clueless. Unfortunately, I continued to be clueless many a time after that. Thankfully, I’m in clueless relationship recovery, and am a little better these days.

But we’re talking about the eight grade, right? Once I had regained a modicum of composure, I decided I needed to talk to Joanie about it. She was obviously more advanced than me in the intricacies of game-playing and manipulation, and she thwarted my efforts with excuses and such, until finally, it was sort of swept aside. I did notice a change in our relationship. She was often times too busy to hang out after school as we once did, and I found myself spending a little more time with Cristal, who was stuck everyday at the school until her mom could get her after work.

But Joanie was still my best friend, and I was loyal, dammit. I didn’t want her to think I was cheating on her with Cristal, so I made every effort to always choose her first. This held true for the big year-end Six Flags Magic Mountain field trip coming up. We all had to pick a field trip partner, and obviously, Joanie and I would be amusement park buddies. I verified, and re-verified. She seemed irritated that I kept bringing it up.

The wonderful day arrived; we would all get to go to Magic Mountain instead of school. I had been waiting for this trip for months. I arrived at school, and saw the two big buses ready to take us to this Magical – albeit, roastingly hot – roller coaster paradise. I looked for my park buddy, and finally spotted her standing next to Miss-More-Popular-Than-God. Let’s call her Buffy. Buffy noticed me approaching, and elbowed Joanie. We locked eyes, and I saw something I couldn’t describe. She most definitely had an odd expression on her face, one that said she was less than thrilled to see me. I had that stomach-dropping thing going on again.

She walked up to me, away from the other girls. “Hey. Uh, I’m going to hang out with Buffy today. You’ll have to find someone else to go with.”

WHAT?!?!? Someone else to go with?!?! Everyone else already had their buddies! I tried to keep it together. “But…you…we…” I’m not so great at forming sentences when under emotional pressure.

She shrugged her shoulders. “Sorry.” And walked away.

Everyone was looking at me. Would she cry? Would she scream? Would she punch Joanie in the face? I wish I could say I gave them a good show, but instead, I started walking home. Fairly easy to do, as I lived across the street from this portal to the inner sanctums of hell. Fighting back the inevitable tears, I tried to walk as fast as would appear dignified away from there. Shit – there was my mom. How would I explain this to her? She would be lurking at home, ready to grill me and then make it worse by pitching a fit at the school.

Cristal saved me. She ran up to me, and as soon as I saw her face that clearly portrayed how sorry she felt for me, I burst into tears. She already had a park buddy, but that was okay, the three of us could hang out – it would be fun. I was shaking my head, I didn’t want to go, I was too embarrassed. She kept insisting, and being the amazingly funny and goofy person she still is to this day, she got me to laugh, and I went. And we had a good time.

I was held prisoner at that CPRS (crappy private religious school) until I graduated, and even after Cristal transferred out (in a fit of great wisdom), we remained friends. I watched Joanie meticulously work on reinventing her persona to match the expectations of the most holy crowd of popularity, and it worked. To a degree. After she cut and colored her hair, got the braces off, got model head shots, took up cheer leading, etc., etc. she was “in”. As I had moved on with my life, I wasn’t stalking her enough to find out what actually happened, but she and Buffy had some sort of falling out. When I got my agent, and started going out on acting calls, she started sniffing around.

Nope. I had about five minutes in my junior and senior year where I had a lot of confidence and clarity, and knew better than to hook up with a manipulative climber who only wanted what I could offer them at that given moment. I back slid for quite awhile after that, but I saved myself from any further humiliation and hurt from Joanie. The protagonist triumphs!

And as David Byrne would say: Same as it ever was…   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKlrkBJozuc

Publication: The Never-Ending Rollercoaster Ride

So many things keep jumping up and chomping my behind, that then keep me from adhering to any type of decent schedule at this blog. Oh wait a minute – not my behind – my pseudonymous self who is leading a much more thrilling and adventurous life than I am.

So, here is where things stand: when last we met, I had just gotten the final edits turned in for my first release coming out May 7th. Yay! I had a wonderful experience with my editor, she had glowing things to say about me – I was feeling pretty damn-spankin’ good about life in publication land. I began to feel the mounting pressure of scheduling guest blog spots, arranging giveaways, lamenting that I’m too poor to attend the Romance Times convention in Chicago (where my publisher and fellow smut peddlers will be) and twittering like a raging maniac.

Then I opened my alter-ego’s email that contained a message from the art department. The subject line claimed it was the cover art for my book. Odd. I already received the cover art for the anthology my story will appear in about a month ago. I opened it up and actually cried. This wasn’t a “the world is crashing about my ears” crying. This was “OMFG – I can’t believe how GORGEOUS this is!” You see – this was the cover art for my story alone, that will be released as a stand-alone 90 days after the anthology comes out. I just stared at it and was wept. It was not only incredible artwork, but it epitomized the look and feel of my story. If the artist wasn’t in England, I would have run over and hugged her.

It’s really happening. It’s real. Somehow the anthology cover – while exciting to see my girl’s name on there – wasn’t the same as seeing my own title in all its glory. Okay, I realize we’re not talking the next Hemingway here, but seriously, for as long as I’ve waited to get frickin’ published – it was epic. Then came the really fun part, The Booty Box. Yes folks – the Booty Box. They have a merchandise page at the publisher website that includes things like thong underwear, tote bags, mugs and iPad cases with my book cover on it! There was also a T-shirt that said “Such & such publisher author (my name) ROCKS!”

Too funny. But very cool.

But wait, you ask. How is that like a rollercoaster? These all seem like “ups”. Yup. But then there was the email that arrived – I swear less than 10 minutes later. You know how on some emails you can see the first few words of the actual message? So, I see one from the actual publisher who has only contacted me one time to welcome me to the fold. Surely she must be writing to tell me how massively awesome I am, right? Yeah, right. The first few words in this case were “I’m sorry to inform you…”

Gasp. Choke. That seemed like a rather precipitous beginning. I’ve never really experienced a positive outcome from anything that began with those words.

I literally froze. Did I really want to descend from my heights of self-imagined grandeur and crash, burning in flames, to the dirt of this earth? Not especially. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. So I decided to live on the edge and open the email. Turns out my editor – who must be even more awesome than I originally realized – just received a full scholarship to get her Master’s in English at Oxford. She’s writing her thesis on Mid-Renaissance poetry. Damn. I guess that was a pretty good reason for her to put in her notice.

Sigh. So how self-involved could I be about this? I couldn’t help it. Pretty self-involved. She was the first one that said “I would like to publish your book”, and then sent me a contract. She’s not only the first professional editor I ever worked with, but it was a great experience. She’s also the one that I just submitted a new story to not a week earlier. The one who said she would like to see a synopsis on my 3 book series.

The publisher was very gracious, and let me know that I had been assigned a new editor who would contact me shortly. This new editor might not like my “voice” or story ideas. She may have other writers she’s more interested in working with – where’s the antacid! Also – those vague time references always make me nutty – I am waaaay too impatient. So I was going to have to wait. I thanked the publisher for taking the time to tell me personally what was going on, and that I would look forward to hearing from the new editor. Since the publisher also left it open at the end of her message to be sure and let her know if I had any questions or concerns – I tread lightly into that territory. I decided to save the series question for the new editor, but I did politely inquire about the submission I had just sent in for a Halloween anthology.

Five days went by with no communication. So now I was sweating bullets. Stomach twisting – all the angsty cliches you can possibly think of – I was living them.

The publisher answered me on the 5th day and apologized for not getting back to me sooner, but said that she had forwarded my submission to my new editor who would look it over the next day; but could I please send her the synopsis as well? That would be fine I thought – if I had her email! Since there was a time element involved, and I knew the publisher was busy, I contacted my current editor who is there until the end of the month. I was able to congratulate her and thank her for the experience of working with her, and then ask for the new editor’s email.

She got back to me right away, and I sent off the synopsis. Phew! Then I figured I had done all that I could, and probably wouldn’t hear anything for at least a few weeks. Apparently the rollercoaster had another plan in mind. Five minutes later, my new editor replied with a “speak of the devil”, saying she was just about to email me. Apparently, the anthology was already filled, but she loved my story ( she said something really glowing about it that I’m too embarrassed to put here – but I think I am going to make a poster out of it and hang it above my computer for the next time I get discouraged) and wondered if I would mind if they published it as a stand alone book. Mind? MIND?!?!?!?! Holy 2nd contract Batman – no I don’t mind!

There you have it. And I get that this is how it is. Been there done that in music. But in some ways, I feel that I have more to lose now with the writing. I think it has to do with the resilience we have when we’re young. When we think there’s forever and maybe even an extra day to achieve what we desire. When I got the “I’m sorry to inform you…” email, it felt like a cruel trick the universe was playing on me right after the heady feeling from my cover art on men’s boxer shorts.

Which reminds me, I wonder how much 11 GPB is in US dollars?

The Saga of Crazy Billie Pt. 3 & More Publishing Updates

Here I am again, trying to sort out the confused madness of the last few weeks. I have been glued to my computer, and have figured out how to use my Word 2010 software so that my alter-ego can properly communicate with my publisher and editor, turned in the third – and final – edits of the story coming out May 7th, finished and turned in one of the new story ideas, and began research on the 3 book series that my editor requested a synopsis on. Plus, I have been preparing promo spots for my alter-ego, because yes, writers have to be promoters too.

 

My final comment on my first experience with a professional editor is that it ROCKED. I have learned so much that will make me a better writer. I’ve heard so many horror stories about writer/editor relationships, that I was going into the whole process with a lot of jacked up nerves. My editor was the most amazing, respectful, fun and professional person I could have dreamed up for the job.  Especially as I’m a newbie and we were both working with a slight language barrier. My publisher is in Britain, and even though I did a pretty good job of turning in a British English manuscript, I did miss a few. Then there were also slang and terminology differences, so that part was pretty interesting. In addition to her, the two final line editors were great, and their marketing and promotions person is fantastic. I feel very blessed.

I also feel overwhelmed, and more grateful than ever that I was demoted at my day job. I’m pretty sure my family appreciates it too. This way, they can occasionally interact with me on a personal level. Fortunately, my hubby and I have discovered that the “poke” feature on facebook can be utilized repeatedly in a matter of seconds; we tested that out earlier while he was in the bedroom and I was in the living room.

But on to other things! Billie was such a not-so-hot mess, that I could probably carry on about her ceaselessly. I’ve been going over various episodes with her in my mind since my last post, and it’s going to be tough to just hit the highlights. For now, I’ll pick up where we left off.

The sounds of something charging towards us was getting louder and louder, yet, we couldn’t see it. In reality, all of this happened in seconds. I didn’t even have a chance to say anything, when I felt something brush roughly against my right ear and right leg, as if it had flown past me, and right into the Suburban I was leaning against.

“Something just flew over my head!” yelled out Billie, who was standing to my left.

None of it made sense, we could hear something loudly crashing through the bushes, charging towards us, and running into us from all sides. However, we had seen nothing. I had pretty much reached my tolerance for other-worldly beings, smells and sounds at that point. Valuable garbage or not, I was out of there.

“I’m going home,” I calmly announced.

“Wait! What was that?”

“How should I know? You’re the one with the weird creepy house. I’m not sticking around in case it comes back.”

“Do you think it will?” She was looking at me as if I’d suddenly become the freaky occurrences expert.

“Well, I can assure you that if it does, I will not be here to welcome it. See ya’.”

I left, and fully intended not to go back. I tried doing garbage runs with some other people, feeling that it wasn’t the safest thing to do alone late at night, but no one was really into it like me or Billie. I was putting more time into the yard and estate sales again to stock the store, but people wanted you to give them money for stuff at those places, so it just wasn’t the same as helping yourself to free things. Free has always been my favorite price.

Billie started calling me late at night because she couldn’t sleep. Duh. I wouldn’t be sleeping either. I’d be curled up in the corner with the shivering whippet jumping at every little sound that house made, and apparently, it had now taken to humming. Yes, Billie told me her walls were singing. You’d think after all of the wacky stuff I’d personally experienced, I’d be accepting of it. But I was being Agent Scully to her Agent Mulder. No matter how many times I’d been probed by aliens and seen ghosts and other weird creatures, I couldn’t accept that this stuff was really happening. At least I didn’t behave that way for 8 seasons – I caught on a little quicker.

 

So, I eventually drifted back. After all, it had been late, I was tired. The farther away from the actual event I was, the less dramatic and scary it seemed. It all happened so fast, right? It could’ve been anything. It was highly unlikely that is was some demonic creature that had manifested from beyond. I should just get over it and move on.

Oops.

Still skeptical regarding the whole singing walls situation, I was at her house one evening, and we were just hanging out in her living room. It was pretty late, and one of the things she had said to me was that the later it got, the louder the singing would get. So far, nothing odd had happened – wow – and I was sort of lazily rocking in an old rocking chair she had, while she was sitting across from me in a big easy chair. While she was talking to me in her breathless Marilyn Monroe voice, I heard something to my left, where the living room tunneled into the rest of the the house. To the right of me, was a big front picture window. Since the house had about 3 or 4 steps leading up to the front door, the bottom of the picture window was actually about four to five feet off of the ground. Many Valley homes have that same building design – they’re stucco with wood trim, and are set up on a foundation.

“Did you hear that?” I said.

Billie stopped talking, and listened. We both could distinctly hear a humming noise from the wall on my left. It’s difficult to describe. The way she described it opposed to the way I experienced it was very different from my viewpoint. But it was very much as if someone, a person, were humming a little tune, except that it was coming from the wall. It didn’t seem to move around, it would be in one spot on that particular wall. But then another wall might start to hum as well, but that tone and tune would be slightly different. And she was right. It was getting louder as it got later. There was no doubt in my mind that I needed to leave.

I stood up to put my jacket on, and I was turned so that I was facing the picture window. I froze in absolute terror. It was one of those moments where all you can do is stare. Anyone remember the Amityville Horror movie where the red glowing eyes are staring in the window? Yeah. That was what was happening. I don’t remember any demon pig attached to the eyes – just the eyes. They were in the the middle of the picture window on the outside, so they must have been six to seven feet off the ground. Really tall pig or whatever. With glowing red eyes. And it was outside where I had to walk past to get to my car. Not good.

“What is it?” said Billie in a worried voice.

The red eyes blinked once, and then they were gone. Instantly gone.

I’m not sure how to spell all of the stammering and blubbering that came from my mouth, but at some point I was able to explain to Billie what I had seen. So far through all of the psycho goings-on at her place she had really come across as rather blasé about it all. This might have been the one though, because she was acting very concerned.

It took me at least another half hour to leave because I didn’t want to run into the evil pig from beyond when I went to my car, and she had to promise to stand on the porch and watch me when I left. And leave I did, this time, to never return. But the saga of crazy Billie wasn’t over. Because even though I refused to go back to her house, I was to learn that sometimes the house is not the problem. Sometimes it’s the person in the house.

More on that next time…

 

 

The Crazy Saga of Billie Part Two & Latest Publishing Updates

Okay – I know – it’s been two weeks. So before I dive in with the Billie freak-fest, this is what’s been going on. I finally received my alter-ego’s manuscript with the edits from my editor. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Or am supposed to be doing.  I have never worked with a publishing house before. I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I am just terrified to look like a complete idiot – no easy task at times.

After agonizing for the first few days over this 47 page long document with all of these blue highlights and little boxes with suggestions in the margins, I have figured out that I don’t have current enough software to “track changes” in the document. That dilemma solved, I shall now buy Word 2010. For some odd reason, many people have moved past Word 2002 by now. Silly me. Seems like I just took that class and paid $125 for the textbook. Dammit.

Anyway – this was all just the technical nonsense – never mind any creative considerations. So I have also been trying to figure out the most efficient way for me to go through the editing process, and have it all make sense at the other end. I have been tempted a couple of times to just send it back with her own suggestions and a note that says “looks good to me”. Somehow, I don’t think that’s exactly the partnering process she was looking for.

Just minutes before I received my edits from her, I dropped her a line to tell her about a couple new story ideas I had, one that would involve a 3 book series. She responded positively, woo-hoo! But now she would like to receive synopses for all of them. One has to be in prior to an anthology deadline of April 1st. Have I gone insane? My hubby warns me not to bite off more than I can chew all the time, but I became overly excited when I stepped down at my job and was given more time to write. Plus – I’d better start writing my ass off now that I’ve seen my first post-demotion paycheck. Yikes.

Enough of that. Here is a little more in the crazy saga of Billie:

My life had settled into a routine with Billie. We had the regular Wednesday night trashing, and occasionally we would add on other nights. Thursday was Encino, Tuesday was Northridge, but I liked Sherman Oaks trash the best. One night, we were bringing in such an awesome haul – including big pieces of furniture – that we needed to go unload for round two. After getting the stuff out of the truck, Billie said she had to go in and let out the cats, let in the cats, let out the dogs, let in the dogs – the usual.

I opted for the truck. Her house had been creeping me out lately, and sometimes when we’d talk on the phone late at night, she would tell me about some of the strange things that were supposedly going on there. I sort of believed her, based alone on my first night at her house with the weird light, but then again, there was also the Clint Eastwood and dead husband story to consider. She had reiterated many times since the first telling about how she was waiting for Clint Eastwood, and he was waiting for her. It was that one look while she was standing in line at the movie theatre. No words were spoken, but they both knew. Even though he was with Sondra Locke, and her husband was still alive, someday they would be together.

Wow.

So one didn’t want to take everything Billie said as the absolute incontrovertible truth.

It was pretty late, getting close to midnight, and it was quite dark on the quiet street where she lived. Only one street lamp could be seen across from her corner home, and it was at the very corner of the street. Something caught my eye. In the darkened driveway of the second house from the corner across the street were shadowy figures, maybe three to four feet tall at most, and they were dancing around. I kid you not. I sat bolt upright in the truck and leaned forward. It was absolutely pitch black on her side of the street; her automatic porch light had already gone off shortly after she went inside. The only light at all was the glow from that one street lamp two houses over from the figures.

I squinted my eyes, trying to process what I was seeing. I must be really tired. I needed new glasses. I’d finally lost my mind. All of these seemed much better explanations than actual dancing shadow figures. If I could give a shape or form to them, the best I could come up with is what my perception of a little wood nymph would be. Yep – pretty crazy. I could see pointy, thin limbs and edges, but absolutely no detailed features. They were like dancing silhouettes. Did I mention they were dancing in a circle too? Yeah – super crazy.

That was it. I would face the stench of Billie’s home any day over dancing wood nymphs at midnight in the driveway of suburban San Fernando Valley.

“Billie – I think you should come out here and see this!”

“SHUT THE  DOOR – ARE YOU CRAZY?!”

Why, yes I am, I wanted to say. But I realized that she was mid-cat corralling, and I had almost given those poor creatures their only opportunity of escape.

“Sorry, sorry, but there’s something really weird going on out here.”

“IN!”

The blurred stampede of cat flesh flew by me into the guest bathroom, and she slammed the door.

“Oh my God, what is it?” She ran excitedly over, and threw open the door. I wanted to stop her so that I could give her a head’s up, but she was always up for anything strange and other-worldly, so there would be no holding her back. I followed her reluctantly out to her front yard. It was a cool night; we weren’t into spring yet. I was trying to readjust my eyes to the darkness, and squinting in the direction of where I had seen the figures.

“What did you see?” she whispered at me.

I was still trying to ascertain if they were still there, but I was getting distracted by the fireflies buzzing around. Fireflies?! In California at the end of winter?

“Did you see that?” I asked excitedly, pointing in a couple of directions all around me. Those little buggers were flitting around, there one second, gone the next. It was almost more surreal than the figures had been.

“I know,” she said, “I see them on occasion, but only in my yard. Sometimes I smell oranges too, but the orchards are long gone, and I’ll smell it all winter as well.”

As it turned out, I would experience that with her on a couple of other occasions. I told her about the figures I’d seen, and we stood in the yard, waiting for them to reappear. Obviously, based on what she was always dealing with, she had no problem believing me. After awhile, it was also obvious that we weren’t going back out. Our paranormal hunt had become much more interesting than the local garbage. But I was getting tired, so I was just about to call it a night when we both heard a loud crashing noise. It reminded me of stabby guy. Not again.

As we had been standing there staring intently at her neighbor’s dark driveway across the street, we had gradually moved over to the Suburban, and were leaning against it. The crashing noise was coming from bushes at the opposite end of her yard. Then the automatic porch light came on – but there was nothing there. Yet, the noise was advancing closer to us, and seemed to be coming towards us at a high rate of speed. It sounded almost like horses hooves – without the horse.

That’s it for this week – I will be sure to get the next part of this creepy tale to you next Sunday. Until then – buy something legal that Paypal has deemed objectionable.

Trashing & The Saga of Crazy Billie

“Have you ever gone trashing?” Billie looked at me as we sat in lawn chairs in her toasty front yard one summer, with an expression that indicated she had just asked me the most normal question in the world.

You’d think I’d be used to Billie’s little surprises at this point, but I was still trying to pretend that I had a regular life. Completely giving myself over to the expectation of the weird was something I wasn’t ready for. Yet.

“I don’t know what that is.” The Old Country Store had been plugging along nicely. The only real problem I still had was how to keep consistently restocking a 3,000 square foot building on very little capital. The gay landlords filled it with furniture, but I only received a ten percent commission off of that, and sales on big pieces were few and far between.

“Well,” explained Billie, “I go trashing two or three nights a week. Basically, you go around on trash night, and look for good stuff that people are throwing away. You’d be amazed what you can find.”

Oh God. First I’m placing fake personal for sale ads in the Recycler Classifieds so that I don’t have to pay the dealer fee. Now I’m thinking about scrounging around stranger’s garbage to stock my antique store? No way.

“Uh, I don’t know. That seems kind of…” what was the word I was searching for? The one that wouldn’t insinuate that I thought she was a freak?

“Look,” she said, “I know you’re thinking that it’s kind of embarrassing to do something like that, but really think about it. After all, it’s just going to be thrown away, right? Shouldn’t it be saved and put to good use? Isn’t it a waste to just leave it for the garbage?”

She was very good. Especially when it came to the word “saving”. She was saving the animals. She was saving the garbage. Of course it made perfect sense. Now to explain to my husband what I would be doing between ten and two a.m. that night.

“You’re kidding, right?” He looked at me as though I had finally given up on reality altogether. He fancied himself the philosophical intellectual, and despite our rather meager existence and his tendency towards the slovenly, he maintained an above-it-all stance.

“Look, it’s just for tonight. She swears that she gets great stuff all the time, and I’ll confess I’m curious.”

He gave me the look. That one that always said to me that we were the last two people on earth that ever should have been together. But I would deal with that later. I had trash to attend to.

We set out that night at ten p.m. It was Tuesday night, and the good people of Sherman Oaks were dragging their trash containers to the curb. We waited until then because most people would have taken their trash out, and gone to bed. Less complications, and more pickings.

As we slowly drove down the street in her old-school, bashed up, solid steel behemoth of a Suburban, I felt like the biggest idiot ever known to man. My humiliation barometer was peaking, but I was trapped in the launching pad: the passenger side where I could easily leap out and grab someone’s discarded treasure and hurl it in the truck before I was discovered. This was lame. Why didn’t I have the truck so that I could do the driving, and she could do the leaping? I now understood why she had let me in on the location of her gold mine. She needed someone to do the dirty work.

We spotted out first target. There were the requisite cans, but next to them in the darkness of the quiet neighborhood were larger items of an indeterminate nature. Billie slowed down to a stop. It was so damn dark.

“Go see what it is.”

Shit. That meant me. I sighed and jumped out of the truck. My legs were literally shaking. It was silly really. I wasn’t stealing anything, and even if someone saw me, it’s not as if I’d ever see them again. But at that time I was still so filled with the toxicity of my early years as to not be able to get past certain situations. Anything involving being seen as something less than perfect and respectable was hell for me to deal with. Since I was the farthest thing from perfect on a daily basis, you can imagine the stress without adding digging through other people’s trash into the equation.

As I got closer to the items, an outdoor light flew on. Almost peeing myself in terror, I blindly grabbed an object at my feet and dove into the truck.

“GO,GO,GO!” I screamed at her, and she did the best impression of peeling out that she could in the tank-like vehicle. She drove down several side streets before she slowed down to a stop. We were both breathless with the adrenaline of the moment.

“What happened? What did you see?”

I looked down at the item in my hands. I couldn’t believe it. “Hey,” I said, “Turn on the interior light.”

The light went on and we both stared at the thing I had grabbed. It was beautiful. It was a small wooden, hand embroidered foot stool. It was definitely antique, probably Victorian, and in really good shape. Only one of the legs was a little wobbly and needed to be glued. But it was ours. For free.

“Let’s go back.” I said.

I was hooked. I even got one of my best buddies from high school, who was making piles of cash as the head of a cruise ship company, to go trashing with me in Beverly Hills one night in his convertible. It was better than yard sales. We found jewelry, boxes of old Christmas ornaments, a wagon wheel hanging lamp, more old furniture that could be restored, a box of antique dishes, old books, toys, and tons of little knick-knacks. I might never have to buy another thing for my shop.

There was one tiny glitch that I overlooked however. I was doing this intoxicating new pastime with Billie. The crazy lady. With the weird haunted house. Things couldn’t be awesome forever. The first night something went south on one of our expeditions was when her Suburban wouldn’t start. I was actually surprised every time it did start, but Billie took it very bad. We had my two door Bonneville Pontiac – seventies style – but it wouldn’t hold nearly the loot the Suburban did. Plus – we wouldn’t be able to haul any furniture. It put Billie into one of her dark moods.

She was nasty and snippy when those moods hit, so I would typically leave when she got to that point. They wouldn’t usually happen until she was into her second beer six-pack, but the car not starting thing set her off this particular evening. I needed my trash fix, so I was willing to put up with her.

“Come on Billie, let’s fill up the car, and then we can drop it off and go back out again.”

“Fucking waste if you ask me!” Apparently she had perfected her growling technique from the dogs.

“Okay… well, I could go out alone and…”

“Steal everything for yourself! Oh no. I’m going with you. Let’s get this over with.”

It was destined to be a jolly time. We drove in silence, Billie in the hot seat now with me in the luxurious driver seat. This didn’t help her disposition at all. After we had stuffed an unusually large amount of useless crap in my car – again I was partnering with someone whose perception of “sell-able” greatly differed from mine – we headed back to her place to add to what was now becoming a complete hoarding experience at her home.

My two door all steel Pontiac had these enormously long, heavy doors on it. Due to the supposedly sleek seventies design, when the door was fully open, the bottom corner came to a sharp point, like the tip of a pair of metal wings. Billie was stomping around, yanking stuff from the car, and shoving it into increasingly tight crevices in her garage. I stood by the car door, helping her dig everything out. We finished the first load, and for whatever reason, she slammed the door shut. It turned out I was standing a little too close to the car, and the tip of that metal wing sliced across my shin.

I screamed. I looked down, and blood was gushing out of an inch long cut. The worst thing in my mind about the whole experience, was I didn’t have medical insurance. She was immediately contrite, and flittering around in a nervous, breathless panic.

“Oh no, oh dear, you have to go to emergency. Oh no, oh dear.”

I looked at my leg in dismay. “Do you have a band-aid or something?”

I couldn’t go to emergency. That would suck away all my trash profits!

“Band-aid? You need stitches!”

Stitches. That sounded expensive.

We eventually did go to emergency, and the intern who was there on his first night, didn’t seem too keen on giving me stitches either. We both agreed a butterfly bandage would be in everyone’s best interest. Except for the scar that I have to this day. It’s a nice back line on the front of my leg, a reminder of a night out trashing with Billie.

 

Next week, I’ll go further into my journey with Billie. It continues in the realm of the bizarre, with some of the creepiest paranormal encounters I’ve ever had. Or ever thought would be possible to have.

Promote or Die Part 3

It was a light. But not just any light. This light was hovering approximately eight feet off of the ground to account for the fact that the house was set about three porch steps up from the ground. It was traveling at a very slow pace, slower than a person would walk. About the size of a baseball, it was white with a yellowish glowing cast, and seemed to just be floating across the yard. Oddly, the dogs were completely quiet.

“What do you see?”

Billie was staring straight at me, as I had stopped mid-sentence to stare at this anomaly, and try to get my brain to decipher what it was. She said it with an almost breathless excitement, yet she didn’t bother to turn around. Right as she spoke, the light vanished.

“Uh, I, uh, it was, hmmmm…”

I didn’t want to say something and sound like a crazy person. Little did I know there was zero chance of that ever happening around her, as she had already taken the top crazy prize at the awards show that year.

“It’s okay,” she said soothingly, “Stuff happens here all the time.”

“Stuff?” Now I was becoming concerned. Or should I say, more concerned. The incarcerated animal display had already been rather concerning. “What kind of stuff?”

She had a sly smile on her face, as if she perhaps held the secrets to the lost treasures of Atlantis. Come to think of it, perhaps she did.

“This house is haunted. Bizarre things happen here all the time. So – what did you see?”

“It was a light floating across the yard, but it was high up…”

Suddenly we were interrupted by the dogs going completely berserk. Billie leaped up and flung the door open, racing outside to begin shrieking at them. I heard a wild crashing noise, as if someone were tearing through some bushes, a scream, and then mere seconds later, Billie ran back in, shut the kitchen lights off and yelled “HIDE!”

The Legendary Michigan Dogman - follow his movements here: http://michigan-dogman.com/wordpress/

She raced out of the kitchen, leaving me sitting in the dark with the back door wide open. I dove under the kitchen table – really, the refrigerator didn’t seem to be a good option – and huddled close to the wall listening to the utter melee going on outside. I expected some wild beast, man or dog, or possibly even mandog, to come in at any moment and rip me to pieces. I couldn’t believe this was even happening. I just wanted to make fifty bucks off some old jewelry for chrissakes.

Then I could hear voices. Someone – a man – was yelling for someone to get the dogs. Then there was a banging on the door from the front part of the house. Oh God. What the hell was going on? The kitchen light flew back on.

“Wren, are you in here?”

 

Suddenly feeling like a raging idiot, I crawled out from under the kitchen table. In my terror, I hadn’t even considered the consequences of the grimy animal-christened floor.

Billie looked at me, two uniformed police officers standing next to her.

“What on earth were you doing down there?”

As usual, I had an expert answer. “I, uh, well uh, you said…”

“Oh, never mind. The officers want to get your statement.”

My WHAT?!

“Statement?” I said, starting to get a little miffed. “About what? I have no idea what even just happened!”

“Calm down Miss,” replied one of the officers. “We just want to know what you saw.”

I sighed.

“Okay. There was a light floating in the backyard. It was about eight feet off the ground, if I were to guess. It was traveling at about this rate of speed…” I gestured helpfully with my hands. Billie stood behind them slowly shaking her head, eyes wide as if to indicate for me to shut up.

The officer who had questioned me turned to Billie. “Is she like the other one – the girl from another planet?”

“No officer,” said Billie, “She’s a business acquaintance, but I don’t think she saw anything, did you?”

I shook my head, giving up on this entire episode.

Finally, they all left. I sat in the kitchen in semi-shock, mulling what had just occurred over in my head and waiting for Billie to return and give me something resembling an explanation for what had just happened.

“That was close,” said Billie, plopping down on a kitchen chair. “I was terrified they were going to say something about the animals.”

“The animals? Are you kidding me? What the hell just happened back there? Why did the police show up?”

Billie looked at me, confused. “Oh! That. Well, there was this naked guy who got into a fight with another guy in the neighbor’s yard. He stabbed the guy he was fighting with, and then jumped over the wall into my yard to get away.”

“I see,” I said, trying to remain calm. “So naked stabby guy could’ve come bursting through the back door here when you left it open – would that be correct?”

“Did I leave the door open? Huh. Well, the police said another unit was close to tracking him down, so it should be fine now.”

“Right. I just remembered that I have to leave.”

I hustled out of there as quickly as I could, Billie back to wanting to haggle over rhinestone baubles, me telling her I’d call her later.

I meant to never call her again. Who needs this kind of drama? Well, maybe I didn’t need the drama, but I sure needed the cash. And in reality, she wasn’t that different from what I was used to. Like I said, I was bred on kooky, on functioning insanity and those who only dealt with reality as a last resort. The next couple years I spent with her lived up to those expectations splendidly. I even have a small one inch scar on my leg as a souvenir of those times.

More on the saga of crazy Billie next week….