Shrugging and Sighing and Smiling, Oh My!

I’ve only been at this writing thing for a short time. The mistakes I continue to make are still quite amateurish in nature. My first draft is peppered with way too many shrugs and sighs, smiles and frowns, laughs and nods, and it’s agony reading the manuscript aloud and crafting new ways to move the story along.

Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort is in the final stretch of editing and revising, but I still have to ferret out all the overused words. It’s too bad there’s not a random word generator that would automatically substitute a more unique or seldom used word into a work in progress. (Note to self: use ferret occasionally.”)

Action beats, such as “Paula folded a dishrag and slung it over her shoulder,“ work well in place of shrugging and sighing and smiling, etc., but the caveat there is in not crossing over into stage direction and/or telling vs. showing. I have to confess, I’m a teller. Showing is so hard.

I seem to take two steps backward for every step forward. I blame my background in teaching and training. So why do I keep writing? For the joy of screwing up, I guess.

I’m on my second read aloud pass through. The number of smiles is declining; however, I’ve noticed that grins are on the uptick. Coincidence? I really doubt it.

Peace, people!

Maybe I need a dog…the cat’s useless.

Deep Thoughts About Toes and Marbles

I wrote this piece a while back. Since then, I’ve lost my marble(s) and forgot all about this exercise. Is it possible for this 65-year-old woman to regain her marbles? It’s worth a try for the sake of my toes.

Peace, people!

A Treetop Martini

Last night Studly Doright and I had dinner at The Garlic, a popular Italian restaurant in New Smyrna Beach. The ambiance was fun, and old world funky. The food was excellent. Truth is, I was so wrapped up in the dining experience that I neglected to take any pictures. Thank goodness for Pinterest.

We had it on good advice to arrive early. Since the weather was cold, most everyone wanted indoor dining. Studly Doright and I were fortunate to get the last remaining indoor table, and we were there at 4:30.

After dinner we drove a block or so to Norwood’s, a seafood place that boasts a treehouse bar.

We climbed the stairs from The Roots Bar on the lower level into this wonderful treehouse atmosphere.

The table at the end of the walkway was reserved for a special occasion.
Had it not been so cold we might have sat around this table that circled the trunk of a gnarly tree.
My beautiful martini and the back of the man who made it for me.

We topped off our sumptuous meal from The Garlic with drinks and desserts at Norwood’s. I had some insanely delicious pumpkin spice cheesecake along with the specially crafted martini above. I asked what the martini was called and the bartender shrugged. “I made it just for you and the dessert you chose.” One word: Perfection.

Studly enjoyed a brownie and water. Good thing, too. I couldn’t have driven back to our accommodations after that drink.

I’d love to visit both restaurants again on a warmer evening. The outdoor seating at both places looked inviting, but not on such a cold day. Now we’re home and I heated up a can of Gardein Chick’n Noodle soup for dinner. I wonder what martini might’ve been perfect with it?

Peace, people.

Making Waves

Studly Doright and I are hanging out in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, this weekend. I’d packed all my beachy stuff: swimsuits, beach towels, beach chairs, straw hats, etc. But a storm has blown through the area bringing epic, awe-inspiring waves, so there won’t be any lounging on the beach.

You can see the waves behind the dune.
Turn up the sound for this video.

It’s just wonderful. Even the locals are impressed

Peace, people!


Can a computer be haunted? Malevolent or maybe only a bit mischievous? Or have I lost my mind? At this point I’m not sure which would be preferable.

Yesterday, my editor, the wonderful Rachel Carrera, sent me the computer files containing the edits for the last twenty or so chapters of Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort. Immediately upon receiving the files I added them to the “read aloud” document I’d started the night before. (Reading the manuscript aloud is a good way to find clunkiness and other stuff—it also gives me a headache and a sore throat, but that’s another story.)

Knowing that Rachel was sending me the final chapters, I’d painstakingly saved all my previously revised chapters into a new document. In this new document I deleted the editing notes in order to do my read aloud more fluidly. I never deleted the original file with Rachel’s notes. Thank goodness.

As soon as I’d added the newly arrived chapters I settled into my chair with my laptop and a cup of hot tea and began reading the prologue. About halfway down the first page I stumbled onto the word reverberated—a great word, except I’d already incorporated it three paragraphs before.

Rachel had called it to my attention when we first began edits on the book. Of course I didn’t want the word used twice in such close proximity and I’d revised immediately. So, what was it doing in this read aloud version?

I scanned ahead. None of my revisions based on Rachel’s notes were in these pages. Not a single one. I panicked a little. But, hey. This was fixable. I put the read aloud document on a flash drive and took it to Staples for printing figuring it would be easiest to mark it up as I compared it to the editing notes.

Now here’s where it gets weird. I returned home with the printed copies and fired up the computer, opening the files I’d copied from the night before. The file that clearly reads EDITED AND REVISED WEDDING WITH NOTES.

I began marking my printed copy with changes based on the notes. The prologue was fairly easy and I scrolled down the page to substitute a different word for reverberated. But guess what? It had already been revised. The same document I’d copied and pasted the night before clearly had been revised, even though my printed out pages from the read aloud version more closely resembled my first rough draft.

I have wracked my brain for answers. And I know what everyone’s thinking: “Clearly she copied from an unrevised document.” But the thing is, the unrevised document didn’t have notes attached. Notes that I spent a good chunk of time deleting so I could have a clean read aloud copy.

Yes, I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for what happened, for what I did wrong. but I’ll be darned if I know what it is. I hoped that by writing it down I’d have an epiphany. Unless epiphany is spelled H-E-A-D-A-C-H-E, it didn’t work.

I think maybe William had a haunted laptop, too.

Peace, people.

Out of the Blue

Grief doesn’t always give fair warning before picking you by the scruff of the neck and shaking you until both eyes leak copious amounts of tears. No, sometimes grief slides in without even a whisper, wraps its arms around you and squeezes so gently you don’t even realize it’s to blame for your distress until you’re writhing on the floor in agony.

Today, grief was triggered by a song I’d never heard before. It was an Emmylou Harris cover of the John Prine song, Hello In There.

The damned song grabbed me by the throat and choked tears out of me. I’d already been thinking of old friends who’d died way too young, and the song added to my melancholy.

Today would’ve been the 65th birthday of my first real friend, the first bond formed on my own, without my parents’ intervention. Johnnimae Bachus, my polar opposite.

We first met in Sunday school at Calvary Baptist Church, gravitating to one another in that mysterious way children do. Johnnimae was petite and ladylike while I was a gangly weirdo. Her mother created all of Johnniemae’s wardrobe—each dress was perfect. She could twirl a full circle with her skirt floating elegantly around her, suspended in beauty above her perfect little knees. When I tried to emulate her, my sturdy shirtwaist clung to my skinny legs and I looked like a dork,

We attended the same kindergarten—she cried for her mama until she saw that I was there. I felt quite emboldened by her confidence in me. Still I tried to copy her in everything she did. She’d color a page in blues and greens, so would I. She’d express a song preference and it would become mine. One day she became fed up with my copycat mentality and ruined her picture by coloring it in bold black marks. She did me a favor that day and I developed my own style.

Johnnimae moved away in our eighth or ninth grade year, and due to some silly school girl politics, I wasn’t invited to her going away party. I lost track of her, but we reunited at a mutual friend’s wedding several years later. I was the matron of honor and she was maid of honor. She was still perfect, while I was still a dork.

Not long after, that same mutual friend called me out of the blue one sunny day to tell me Johnnimae had died. She was maybe 24 or 25 and poised to graduate from pharmacy school. She was engaged to be married. Her life was filled with joy and accomplishments and a world of possibilities. Then, on one ordinary day she went for a swim with friends and somehow ingested or inhaled an amoeba and died soon after. The shock at her loss was immense. This golden girl was no longer in this world. How could that be?

So today I cried for her. Big old tears that wouldn’t stop and left my nose red and my eyes bloodshot. I cried while listening to Emmylou Harris sing about growing old—a privilege Johnnimae never had.

Out of the blue

Peace, people.

Wilder Days

I’ve been listening to a lot of country music on The Highway channel on SiriusXM lately, and it struck me that a whole lot of country sounds like the rock music of my 70’s youth.

One artist in particular, Morgan Wade, has pulled me in. Her song, Wilder Days, is my current ear worm, and I can’t come close to doing it justice. I butcher the melody time after time, and I stumble over 80% of the lyrics, but that doesn’t keep me from singing.

Be glad I posted a video of Morgan singing and not one of me.

Peace, people!

DisneyWorld in October

Last week my grandson, Garrett, and I spent two days at DisneyWorld in Orlando. We’d planned to take this trip back in July, but Garrett had an emergency appendectomy and was subsequently diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor.

We put the Disney trip on hold while he had surgery and went through the recovery period. Being 18, he bounced back pretty quickly, and we thought that late October would be a perfect time to reschedule. We were right!

On our first day we explored Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the express purpose of doing all the Star Wars stuff, and we were successful. Garrett and I share a love of that far, far away galaxy, and I’d worried that we wouldn’t be able to ride the number one ride, The Rise of the Resistance, but we did. It was as awesome as we’d hoped. No spoilers because you just have to experience it to believe it.

Rey, Chewbacca, and me. I’m the one in the Mickey Mouse t-shirt.
Garrett and a Storm Trooper.
A glimpse of the Millennium Falcon on the Smugglers’ Run ride.
Before our interrogation on Rise of the Resistance.

After our long day at the park we took a few pictures at the Pop Century Resort where we were staying.

Everything is HUGE here!
Gives new meaning to “be the ball”.

On day two we headed to Epcot, my second favorite park at DisneyWorld.

In front of Spaceship Earth. Still one of the best experiences in the park.
Garrett had a lot of help with his lunch.

I can honestly say that late October is THE perfect time to visit DisneyWorld. The temperatures were lower. Crowd sizes were much smaller. The food and wine festival was in full swing at Epcot and we enjoyed some tasty dishes. I believe I need to make an annual autumn pilgrimage. I might not ever get a better travel buddy though.

Peace, people!


I’m not sure how long it had been since I sat in a dark theater to watch a movie. Maybe we’d gone early in 2020, but I don’t remember. And I know we hadn’t been in 2021—that is until Thursday evening when Studly Doright, our grandson, Garrett, and I ventured out to see Dune.

We bought popcorn and pretzel bites and horrendously overpriced soft drinks and enjoyed every minute of our evening. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed the whole experience of going to a movie until the lights went down and the first of several trailers lit up the screen. I love trailers—what we called “previews” back in the day.

And the movie itself was great. I haven’t read Dune, and wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, now it’s on my “to be read list.” Since the film only covers about half of the story I need to see what happens next. Right now. I am not a patient person.

Peace, and popcorn, people!