Being Professional

Being Professional

My husband called me a professional last night, and no, we weren’t having the smexy times, lol.

EDITED: Okay, I decided after much stomach churning to delete most of the post because it wasn’t – ahem – professional. It was me, whining. And no one likes to listen to someone whine, do they?

Whee, I’m still learning!

But I do want to hear about what you consider being a professional means. Is it how you act? Is it what you do, how you dress? Does it make a difference WHAT you do as to how “professional” you are? Do you equate a college degree with a certain amount of professionalism?

For me, being a professional as a writer means more than just how many plays/books I’ve published or how much money I’ve made. It also means I need to be willing to listen to opinions on my work and to take what is helpful, and think hard about the rest before discarding anything. It means being open to learning.

This is also a philosophy I try my hardest to use in my Day Job, too. Because no one is perfect. (Which is why I finally edited the heck out of this post.)

What is your definition of a professional? I’d love to know, so please share, would you?


Until next time, be good to each other!

When Ya Gotta Go…

When Ya Gotta Go…

I’m driving along, after spending a lovely time dreaming up mischief and talking writing with my good friend Tameri Etherton (stopped by for 20 minutes, ended up staying 2 & 1/2 hours…). I’m heading home after a fabulous weekend in San Diego with the hubs.

And I’m getting sleepy. Oh man. This isn’t good. So I change up the radio stations. First the news, then National Public Radio, then Country Music (don’t judge), back and forth, back and forth. It doesn’t work, though. So I dig through my cds and find a vocal warmup one that I had borrowed from my hubby.

That worked. Kind of. I mean, when you sing in the car, really vocalize, it’s tiring. You’re also bringing in a lot of oxygen into your system, so you wake up. Weird, but usually it works for me.

This time, I became aware of another pressing need. A bathroom, to be precise. But I’m on the 5 North. Not the friendliest freeway. Besides, I went through Werner Erhardt’s est program. I could hold it. I’d been trained. (Okay, it was 33 years ago, but still…) I cursed the black cherry Steaz that Tameri had kindly given me from her stash. I could do this. I’m famous for not stopping while making the LA/San Diego drive. I could so make it all the way home without stopping.

The 5 Freeway needs more Rest Stops! Just saying.

I decided to sing some more. Except that put pressure on my bladder. So I concentrated on the radio, and there was something about coral reefs, how the rise in acids in the ocean is killing them, and there was the sound of rushing water over the reefs. I changed the channel. A song came on about every storm having an end. Rain. Sheesh.

On the news channel, they talked about how this is the fourth dry year in a row, and how we need rain. The fire danger is higher, and fire companies are bringing in the big belly helicopters early in preparation. More water. Okay, seriously?

By this time, I had the lap part of my seat belt gripped in my hand just under my breasts, so it wouldn’t press on my bladder. I survived the 101-5 split, and made my way through the zoo area (Zoo parking lot full! Zoo entrance backed up!) – where the traffic slowed to a crawl. I believe I started to whimper.

Not only is my bladder in pain, but so are my kidneys. My liver is chuckling (because usually it’s the one feeling the pain) and my kidneys are threatening to go on strike and my bladder says it has a bomb and is going to explode my entire body if I don’t get to a bathroom like NOW. I deal with thoughts of just letting go, but replacing the front seat isn’t in the budget and I didn’t want to even think of how long it would take to get the urine smell out of my car.

Burbank. Speeds picked up, but I don’t know Burbank at all. I don’t know where the fast bathrooms are, or where I can find the easiest off/on to the freeway. So I kept going, but by now I’m desperately looking for a likely place to pull over.

The 5 Freeway splits Burbank in two. This causes me much confusion every time I go there. I’m sure it’s something genetic. Or maybe it’s just me? Nah…

Traffic slows to a crawl again, and I saw a sign – Lankershim, 2 miles. Okay, I know Lankershim. I can get off at Lankershim, and surely – even though I’m a couple miles north of the area of Lankershim that I know – SURELY there will be some place for me to go.

I’m getting threatening texts from my bladder which I have to ignore because I don’t want a $159 ticket. My kidneys are complaining about a back-up in the system. My spleen is looking on in amusement, while my gall bladder is considering joining up with my bladder in the “blow up the body” game.

I hang on grimly to the lap belt and finally reach the Lankershim off ramp. I come to the stop sign, and my heart falls down to cozy up against my stomach which doesn’t have room because my bladder is so fracking big by now. I land in an industrial area. Oh, help.

I look left, toward North Hollywood. Nothing. The road curved around and I couldn’t see much. At this point, I would take a dense thicket of bushes to pee behind, but I didn’t see any of those, either. Just a lot of concrete and asphalt and, thank goodness, a 5 North onramp on the other side of the street.

I look to my right – and there, shining and pure white and looking absolutely gorgeous in all its glory, is a privately-owned gas station (no tall sign visible from the freeway). Surely there is a bathroom. I turn right, pull in, park, lock the car, and waddle in (feeling about twenty years’ pregnant by this point). I ask for the bathroom and I’m given a token.

At first, the token didn’t work – panic threatened – but then it did. I got inside, locked the door, set my purse down, and finally got some sweet relief. As the minutes tick by and my bladder empties itself, I note my sunglasses, sitting on the counter. And I think, that was stupid, I should have put them on my head. But all in all, if I end up leaving them behind, it would be a trade well worth it.

Twenty minutes later my bladder finally sighs in happy relief. My kidneys still aren’t talking to me, but they aren’t screaming for my imminent death anymore, either. My gall bladder is sulking but quiet, and all is back to normal in my body.

I wash my hands and duck out of the bathroom, wave sheepishly at the guy behind the counter. As I go to my car I think, I should really gas up while I’m here – until I note the price – higher by 25 cents than anywhere I’d seen. I still had half a tank and was only about forty minutes from home. So, a pass.

As I drove out I realized the gas station was dingy and dirty. I’ve got grease on the bottom of my boot and my clothes smell faintly of cigarettes and cheap beer.

But I can handle the traffic now. I get back onto the freeway, smile at the other people in cars as we chug along at five miles per hour. It’s not until I move into the lanes for the 118 Freeway that I realize I’m not wearing my sunglasses.

(The above sunglasses are Ray Bans. My sunglasses were not Ray Bans. But they were cute.)

I laugh. Did me thinking about leaving them behind help make my mind release all thought of taking them with me? It doesn’t matter, I decide.

All in all, it’s the best trade I’ve ever made in my life.


Thanks for stopping by! Have you ever made a trade you liked? Regretted? Let’s chat!

Green and Growing Things…

Green and Growing Things…

I am in full-on ostrich mode.

This week, though I am clear on the other side of the country from Boston and have never been a fan of Texas politics (hey, I’m a California girl!), has been very hard on my spirit – and I would *never* wish such hell as those two places and the people who live there have gone through this week. It’s been hard on the spirit of everyone I know, for that matter. The news (such as it is) has been unrelenting.

So without further ado, let me share what I harvested from my garden yesterday with you.

Artichokes, a small green pepper, strawberries, green onions, and spinach, all fresh from the garden.

This made an excellent salad, and leftover spinach went into my morning green machine drink (which helps keep my spirits up). The onion smelled sharp and the spinach was so thick, deep green, and crisp. Packaged spinach pales in comparison.

The garden in March, 2013

This picture leaves out five or six of the new beds that Tom and the boys put in this year, off to the left. Most of those beds have tomatoes and zucchini in them. And the firepit (a repurposed dryer drum) is where we sit and drink wine and Tom plays guitar as the sun sets.

In the garden, there are birds and bugs, bees and butterflies and beauty everywhere I look. It is a place where I can take out frustrations as I weed, where I can sink my hands into soil that we’ve amended with our own mulch pile, where I can feel the sun on my back and the wind in my face. Where I can plant, to add a bit of beauty to the world that seems in desperate need of beauty.

I’m supposed to go to work, I’m supposed to go see a friend in her play tonight, I’m supposed to…so many things. All I want to do is be an ostrich for a day and stay in my garden (with my booted foot and all) and think on simple things. Beautiful things.

Shaun Rosenberg says that watching the news is bad for you, and he’s not the only one. Here’s another post  at Disrupting the Rabblement on why watching the news is bad. James DelCamp Junior ALSO has a post on the news = bad. Google it yourself – you won’t run out of sites, trust me. It’s all over the place.

So I shall load  up my car with music, and I shall ignore newsfeeds about the outside world. If I need to get caught up, it won’t take long. In the meantime, my bloodpressure and my anxiety level will go down about a million points or whatever by not focusing on all the bad.

You shall find me, metaphorically at any rate, in my garden, looking at the flowers that wintered over just beautifully.

My “hit of happy”.

And if I’m not in my garden, I’m cuddling the biggest cat I’ve ever seen. Zaphod is a polydactyl and he prefers to sleep draped across my chest. If the husband is home, he likes sleeping across Tom’s throat. But he purrs and he licks and he head butts me, and I love him to bits.

Zaphod, weighing in on our receipt filing system.

Here’s hoping your weekend is better than your week has been; here’s hoping next week will be a better one for our country.


Be good to one another. Spend your love rashly instead of hoarding it, for by spreading it around, more will come back to you. Till the next time, hugs!

Of Theater Widows and Broken Legs

Of Theater Widows and Broken Legs

Sorry for my lack of posting. It’s been a bit of hell around here this week. Both good and bad, and don’t they always seem to go hand in hand?

Me and the Boot on vacation in Mammoth Lakes, California. August, 2011.

First off, I’m back in The Boot. Yes, that lovely fashion statement is once again a staple of my wardrobe. On Monday, I managed to step wrong and cause a hairline fracture just slightly off from the place I broke my fibula 18 months ago. When the pain didn’t go away immediately, I made an appointment with my bone doc – and back in the boot am I. For a minimum of two weeks, then we take another x-ray to see what’s what.

At least it’s not the four months like the last time.

Theater Widow

And in other good/bad news, my hubby has been hired in a theater production down in San Diego, starting early next week and running until the beginning of June. He’s excited (when I have more detail, I’ll share) and I’m so happy for him. But right now, past midnight, I’m miserable. I mean, I’m used to being the kind of Theater Widow where the hubby is gone for hours, not days. The type where I go to sleep by myself, but wake up next to him in the morning. So this is different.

Plus, right now, he’s off auditioning for other jobs that don’t even start until this one is

From L to R, Tim, Tom and Chet Ashworth. Mammoth, 2011

over; and they aren’t here in the L.A. area. Which means more being apart. Which totally sucks. Since I turned fifty – since my warranty broke, lol – we’ve grown so much closer. He’s been there with me through all the worry and adversity and we’ve come out the other side a lot stronger, together.

I’m not good at being alone, I find. I don’t eat well. I drink a little too much. I don’t write, which is a damned shame and something that I must fix. I feel very alone, which is silly since my two grown sons are just down the hall. But a part of me is missing, and I’m not at all happy about that. And he’s only been gone since Tuesday!

In the grand scheme of things, I’m slightly ashamed at my weakness. I mean, my husband isn’t serving in the military, half way around the world. He’s not in mortal danger every day. I know a lot of military wives, and I am in awe of how resilient they are. I suppose, if my husband had traveled a lot throughout our marriage, I too would be much more resilient and self-reliant and stiff-upper-lippy about it. But I’m not. Inside, I’m whiny and mopey and feeling very sorry for myself.

I probably need to make a plan for these long nights. First off, eat extremely healthy and have only one glass of wine. Second, write. Third, figure out Face Time. (I have skype but the hubby’s iPad has Face Time.) Otherwise, I will waste my time in front of the TV set, watching Project Runway or NCIS reruns or something like that, when I should be doing something much more productive, like getting this book finished. And the next one. (Because I can’t sell them if they’re not finished!)

So, deep breath. I will survive. (Not too sure about the garden, though – hubby was my main garden hand. Will need to press the boys into servitude.) I’ve got RWA Chapter meetings to go to this weekend, and I’ll actually see the hubs for a few hours. Plus writing will get done. I swear it.

How’s your week been? What’s been Good? What’s been Bad?

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~


Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?


Speak of the Devil by Shawna Romkey

Speak of the Devil by Shawna Romkey

Writer Wednesday

Today we’re welcoming in author Shawny Romkey with her YA paranormal romance novel, Speak of the Devil. I, for one, can’t WAIT to read this book!

The lovely Shawna Romkey

Let’s find out a little about Shawna before we check out her book, shall we?


Shawna grew up in around farms in the heart of Missouri but went to the University of Kansas, was raised in the US but now lives on the ocean in Nova Scotia with her husband, two sons, two rescue dogs and one overgrown puppy from hell. She’s a non-conformist who follows her heart.

 She has her BA in creative writing from the University of Kansas where one of her plays was chosen by her creative writing professor to be produced locally, and two of her short stories were published in a university creative arts handbook.  She earned her MA in English from Central Missouri State University where she wrote a novel as her thesis.

She’s taught English at the university and secondary levels for close to twenty years and can’t quite fathom how all of her students have grown up, yet she’s managed to stay the same.  She’s a huge geek and fan of Xena, Buffy and all kick ass women, and loves to write stories that have strong female characters.

Now for the Cover, the Blurb, and the Excerpt!

What happens when falling in love and falling from grace collide?

After dying in a car accident with her two best friends, Lily miraculously awakens to grief and guilt. She escapes to her dad’s to come to terms with the event and meets some people at her new school who seem all too eager to help her heal. Sliding deeper into sorrow and trying to fight her feelings for two of them, she finds out who…what they really are and that they are falling too.

 Can she find the strength to move on from the past, reconcile her feelings for Luc, find a way to stop a divine war with fallen angels, and still pass the eleventh grade?

Rain fell, not uncommon for late spring in Missouri. “If you don’t like the weather here,” my grandfather would say, “wait five minutes.” Of course, I’d visited distant relatives in Maine once before, and they said the same thing.

Julie fumbled with the wipers while I pulled the sun visor down to check my face in its little rectangular mirror, even though I’d only left my vanity like five minutes ago. The lights on either side lit up the interior of the car. I reached into my tiny party purse to find my lip gloss, which was easy to locate since I’d only packed the essentials in my bag: phone, some cash, and make-up. As I glanced at myself, I saw Mike in the reflection, smiling at me from the back seat. I stuck my tongue out at him, making him laugh, and put on the lip-gloss, fully aware of how flirty I acted.

The windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the sudden downpour. The pitter-patter turned to thumping. Hail came down in gumball-sized pellets. “Damn.” Julie jerked the steering wheel to keep The Whale off the curb.

“Slow down, Jules.” Mike gripped Julie’s headrest. “We can pull over until it passes.”

“Yeah.” She squinted to see the road before her.

I pressed my lips together to smooth out the gloss. “Damn is right. I didn’t bring a jacket.”

The Whale swerved to the right crunching along the gravel on the side of the road. I braced myself in my seat. Julie leaned up to the steering wheel and peered over it as my grandmother sometimes did when she drove. I squinted because of the stupid light up visor mirror. I slammed it shut, but Julie panicked and over corrected, pulling The Whale to the left and careening over the yellow dotted line in the middle of the street.

“Julie!” Mike shouted.

Time slowed and ticked out in heartbeats.

Ba bum.

Julie cringed, her hands moving up to shield her face. Her head turned away from the highway.

Ba bum.

Mike reached protectively from the back seat.

Ba bum.

The headlights illuminated the rail of the overpass.

Ba bum.

The car hit the rail on the opposite side of the road with a hard thud.

Ba bum.

Crap. We’re going over the bridge.

Ba bum.

The Whale’s nose pointed down toward the water.

Ba bum.

A jolt forward and my forehead slammed into the dashboard.

Ba bum.

The Whale flipped in the air. I’m upside down.

Ba bum.


Ba bum.

Did my mom say good-bye when I left?

Ba bum.

Cold water rushed into the car.

Ba bum.

Is this it?

Ba bum.

I can’t breathe. Oh my God, I can’t breathe. I can’t see or breathe!

My heart quickened. It pounded. The Whale leaned on its side under the surface of the water which rushed in fast, and I couldn’t see a damn thing.

Calm, stay calm. Don’t panic. They say when you’re drowning not to panic because you use up your air faster.
Dammit, am I drowning?

I tried to get myself upright and jerked out of my seatbelt. Luckily, it gave way. I fought the latch to open the door facing up, but the pressure of the water from Black Water River held it closed, trapping me inside.

Jesus. I know this river. It’s more of a creek. It can’t be more than fifteen feet across and ten feet deep. I pushed at the door. Opening my mouth to scream, I swallowed water.

I couldn’t see or hear Julie or Mike. My watch ticked. Or was it my heart beating?

Ba bum. Ba bum. Ba bum.





Defying gravity.


The dreams came. Like a good sleep you don’t want to wake up from. I felt heavy and floaty. I wore this long white gauzy gown and the wind blew my dress and my hair like in some feminine hygiene commercial. I could breathe slowly and deeply. Completely relaxed and at peace, but I was alone.

I floated along in a white space for a while. Drifting. Breathing. Relaxing. Had I gone to a spa? After an immeasurable amount of time, others appeared. They wore white clothing, too, and they floated like me, reaching out. They opened their arms as if to welcome me to them.

I stopped and frowned. I heard no sound, and I didn’t know who these white floaty people were or why they welcomed me. They smiled, genuinely happy, and held their arms out to me. I panicked.

Where’s my mom? My family? Wait, Mike and Julie were just with me, where are they? Are those wings?

I noticed the others floating with me had white feathery wings.

“Lily,” one of them called out.

Holy hell. I’m dead.

 WOW! What an excerpt – I know Shawna’s going to be around today, so if you have any questions, let her have ’em in the comments!


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