Thursday, August 10, 2017

Pizza Party Was a Real Gas

It’s been almost a month now, and I still haven’t figured out why we’re not dead.

My daughter’s a licensed vet tech, so when she was asked to stay after hours for a surgery, she said yes. This was the first time they’d ever asked, and frankly, I don’t know how often it happens. But it happened that night. Darice works four 10-hour days per week, so she’s gone from the house from about 7:15 AM (or earlier) to round 7:30 PM on those four days. On this evening, she arrived home about 10:00 PM. Her friends at the clinic invited her to join them for a bite of food and a beer (craft beer is big up here in Alaska), but she was tired, and knew she’d been gone far longer from home than she normally is. She missed Molly.

While Darice was in surgery, Molly and I prepared our pizza party. We put my gluten-free pizza in the oven after loading it down with extra pepperoni, and after about twenty minutes it was done. I pulled it out of the oven, switched the oven to off (I’m ultra-careful about things like that, particularly since this is a gas stove), and we sat down to a movie (Clifford the Big Red Dog) and ate. Not once did Molly enter the kitchen. That’s important to remember.

Since Molly had slept in that day, and because it was a Friday night, Molly and I were both awake when Darice walked in the front door. The first thing she said was, “How come I smell gas?” I answered, “What gas?” and it was on.

She couldn’t believe I couldn’t smell it, and I couldn’t believe she could. I walked out on the front porch, took a breath of fresh air, and walked in. She was right. The house was full of the smell of natural gas. What’s the matter with my nose? Why weren’t Molly and I complaining of headaches and nausea? Why were we still conscious?

Now this is where we got crazy. In our attempts to figure out what was wrong, I took Darice to the stove and turned on all four burners to show her the pilot was lit. That shows how smart I am. I showed her that the knob for the oven was turned to “off,” just as it had been the last time I was in the kitchen. She called Codie, a friend who lives nearby, who urged her to call the fire department. She did. Darice ran to the landlord’s house, which is connected to ours, to tell them their tenants were in the middle of trying to blow up the entire duplex so they might want to evacuate. They did. Codie arrived, and before the fire department got there, Darice and Codie tried lighting the oven pilot. That shows how smart they are. They heard it “whoosh!” and knew they had it relit—or assumed so.

It was time to evacuate. Molly needed shoes and a jacket, so I ran to her room, switched on the closet light (another no-no), found what I needed, and we headed out the front door. We stood around for a couple of minutes until we heard the sirens. They pulled up—two huge trucks, the EMT truck, and the chief’s car. Firefighters in full battle gear spilled everywhere. And there I was: chic as ever in my jammies, robe, and slippers, while Darice looked at least presentable in her scrubs. Not surprisingly, the chief chose to communicate with Darice. I think my jammies were too distracting for him to do his job correctly.

Somebody checked the gas levels with a device of some sort (I need to get me one of those things), and then one at a time the firefighters entered the house, gas mask and all, for five minutes each. One came out and another one went in. Finally, the chief went over to Darice, explained that the gas levels were off the charts, and that we needed to get away from the house. We couldn’t sit in our car in the driveway for fear of an explosion, but down the road to the corner and across the highway was deemed safe enough. We traipsed down to the corner and across the road.

It started to rain.

So, there we stood at the side of the road, getting wetter by the minute, when a kind neighbor from farther down the road and up a steep hill came to check on us. She trudged back to her house (a good quarter mile away) and brought back coats. Then she walked back and returned with folding chairs and bug spray. She offered refreshments. She did everything but go over and help the firefighters. Just as she was returning from yet another trip up and down that hill she lives on, the paramedic invited us into the EMT truck. Poor lady did all that for nothing. (We thanked her profusely the next day.)

When the fire chief felt it was safe enough for us to return to the general vicinity of the house, he came to the EMT truck and explained to Darice that the levels of natural gas in the house were lethal. They’d opened every window in the house and used fans outdoors to blow the gas out. Darice asked what would have happened if we’d gone to bed and she’d stayed out late. He said she would’ve more than likely found us dead. Yikes.

And then he did what Darice, Codie, and I had been dreading. He looked at us and said, “I want to know who lit the match.” He’d seen it on the counter beside the stove with the box of matches all waiting their individual turns at blowing us to kingdom come. The look on his face when Darice told him what she and Codie had done was priceless. He said the simple act of flicking a light switch (gulp) could have triggered an explosion. I’m sure our pictures are somewhere on that firehouse wall with a “Stupidest Dummies in Alaska” caption beneath them.

The fire chief requested that a representative from Enstar, our gas company, pay us an emergency visit. He arrived and checked every inch of the house and every gas appliance we had. Nothing was wrong, he said. We told him about Darice and Codie’s ill-advised relighting of the oven pilot, and although he was nice, he didn’t seem to think the reason for the gas was a blown-out pilot light. What was the reason then? I know the oven was turned off, Molly didn’t go into the kitchen and accidentally nudge it to “on,” and I know that for certain because I was afraid she’d burn herself on the pizza pan and forbade her entrance. She sat on the couch like a good little kid about to blow sky-high. Darice and Codie both heard the pilot relight, but despite their best attempts to convince him, they couldn’t. It’s our non-provable opinion that somehow the oven pilot blew out when I turned the oven off. How and why that would happen is unknown; besides the professionals disagree.

So here we are, stuck with a mystery. We won’t use the oven because we’re afraid of the same thing happening, and since I can’t smell the darned stuff I’m afraid I’ll start the whole debacle over again. I miss baking things. I miss not being worried about exploding when I light a candle. I miss going to bed and not worrying about not waking up the next morning. Darice does the same.

What we are grateful for, though, is the fact that Darice was asked to work late because she arrived home later than usual after the gas had had enough time to fill the house and arouse her suspicions. If she’d been home at the normal time and we’d gone to bed at our usual time, perhaps all three of us would’ve succumbed to it. Darice reminds me she’d have smelled it, but the fire chief said I probably grew accustomed to the smell gradually as it filled the house, so perhaps she would have too. Don’t know what to think about that. I’d like to think old age hasn’t taken my sense of smell, but who knows? Also, had she gone out with her friends, she’d have arrived home too late.

We’re also grateful that my clicking on the closet light switch didn’t detonate the gas, that my lighting the four burners didn’t set it off, and that Darice and Codie didn’t do the same when they lit the match. In asking a firefighter friend in the Air Force about that, he said that there probably wasn’t enough oxygen in the house to detonate the gas. Makes sense, except two cats, a hermit crab, Molly and I all survived in a house so full of gas it left no room for oxygen? And in looking for the cats after the firefighters left and allowed us re-entry to the house, we found one of them hiding above the kitchen cupboards in that little valley created by the wall and the cornice. Why didn’t he die? He was right above the leak and should’ve been knocked out first thing and dead a little while later.

Perhaps we’ll never know the answers. I wouldn’t believe it was as bad as it was if it weren’t for having a professional firefighter (and his handy-dandy device) tell us it was. Despite our curiosity and all those unanswered questions, we are grateful beyond belief to be alive. (I imagine our landlords are too.) We will take our stroke of luck (or divine intervention) and be happy for it. We have a new appreciation for the brevity and uncertainty of life.

And a whole new dread of our gas stove. 

Until the next time ...

Friday, March 3, 2017

Old Friends, Good Times, and Belly Laughs

A dear friend of mine left my house this morning to return to her home in Michigan. After spending a couple of months in Gulf Shores, Alabama, she asked if she could stop by on her way back north. I jumped at the chance to see her again.

Karen and I met when we both worked at a Social Services office in Michigan. She was a raving beauty (still is, for that matter), with a raucous sense of humor and irresistible smile. We bonded for life during the little time I worked there before moving to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after my husband returned from Vietnam. After that our lives took weird, yet similar paths over the years. We both were divorced from our first husbands when they left us for women eleven years older than they were and raised our children (two for her, three for me) as poverty-stricken, hardworking, frazzled, single moms. I spent a lifetime working for a school district as the superintendent's secretary (five superintendents over the years), and she joined the school board somewhere in there and is still serving on the board despite my telling her she's nuts. We faced many problems, some serious, some idiotic, during those overlapping years, and she still keeps me abreast of what's happening up there.  Now we're both retired from our "day jobs," while she continues to serve on the board, and I spend my time taking care of my granddaughter, traveling to see my other children and grandchildren, and writing.

Karen is a skilled writer in her own right, and has authored a column for many years. Our political and religious views are about as dissimilar as possible, but we've always found a way to listen to the other's viewpoint and express our own without going for one another's throats. That's probably due to a couple of things: we both respect one another (and opinions, even though they don't mesh with our own), and our combined, wild and wooly sense of humor. I can always look forward to a belly-laughing, deep cleansing renewal of my spirit when I spend time with Karen. Our conversations are intriguing, spirited, enlightening, and inevitably expose me to views and causes I've never known about or considered. She seldom changes my mind, but she presents her points with passion, and I respect her devotion to what she feels is the correct way of dealing with topics as varied as family, school districts, bosses, leaders, and the nation. She's an intelligent, intuitive, educated woman who has helped innumerable people throughout her life.

I'm honored to have Karen in my life, and I look forward to many more in-person and long distance conversations in our futures. The world needs more women like her, women who are passionate about what they've learned from their life experiences, who love people enough to respect them even if she disagrees with their viewpoints, and who give of their time, money, and laughter to keep their friends on the straight and narrow and the world on its axis.

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. My someone is Karen. Love you, K.K. Wibesep.

Until the next time...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Lifetime of Time

I doubt if this butterfly worries about the life already lived.
He/She lives for the moment and that next taste of the sweet
nectar God gives to His littlest creatures.
I had two sobering occasions occur recently--my oldest child turned 44, and my oldest grandchild turned 15. That makes me at least 50 years old. Sigh.

Okay, okay, I'm older than 50 years old. How much older isn't important. My point is that despite my best efforts, neither my children nor my grandchildren have remained babies. In the case of my son and grandson, they grew up just as they were supposed to and evolved from adorable infants to fine men. Derek is middle-aged (oh, my gosh, I can't believe I just typed that), and Dustin is on the verge of adulthood. From all indications, he too will turn into a fine young man.

I also have two beautiful daughters (both over 40), and in addition to Dustin, I have four other grandsons (13, 9, 9, and 5) and a 5-year-old granddaughter. All of them share the same compassionate, intelligent, and hard-working characteristics as Derek and Dustin. I'm surrounded by incredible people--and they're all younger than me.

How on earth did that happen? Wasn't it just last month that I was the youngest in the office, the baby of the restaurant where I waited tables? Wasn't it last week that I was the youngest office manager in the state's social services system? What happened to those 40 or so years? How did I go from the youngest in just about every situation in which I found myself to being the oldest person in the room?

Well, if I stopped blathering long enough I'd realize that time is what happened. The passage of time--that slow, but inexorable ticking of the clock, second by minute by hour by day until the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months and the months to years. The years? Well, they turned to decades, and eventually, they'll turn into a lifetime.

A lifetime of time. Sounds odd, doesn't it? But that's what life is. Time. God has given us the time to live our lives, and coupled with the gifts He imbues us with, the opportunity to live those lives, to spend all that time in His service. He desires that we become the men and women He intends us to be and to live out our time on earth glorifying our Heavenly Father.

The older I become, the more clearly I see not only His Hand in my life, but the ways in which He wants me to behave, the paths He wants me to take and those He wants me to avoid. Of course, decades of experience helped make my vision clearer, but looking backward at more years already lived than I have before me can have the same sobering effect as a slap across the face with a large, wet fish. I've already lived many more years than I will live during my entire future on this planet. Not everyone can say that, so I'm careful to remember that I'm fortunate to be growing older. Some people never have that chance. Their lives are sometimes over before they really begin--or at least before they gain traction. The fact that God has allowed me to live this many years means He still has something for me to accomplish in His Name.

Now I can either bemoan the years that have passed as if their passing were a bad thing, or I can rejoice that those years happened in the first place--that my children and grandchildren were born and grew into fine human beings. They have their paths to take; I have mine. Just because I started out on my path before theirs began isn't a bad thing. Mine will end before theirs, as well, but that will be because I've accomplished all I was supposed to. They still have things to do, places to go, people to meet and influence, spouses to marry, children to raise, jobs to work at. Lives  are staggered that way for purposes that only God knows fully, but I know one thing. If we were all born at the same time, lived our lives and died at the same time, life would be one big train wreck.

God knows what He's doing. Allowing me to celebrate the birthdays, anniversaries, births, joys, and triumphs of my children and grandchildren is a privilege only He can bestow. How dare I diminish that great blessing by bemoaning the fact they're growing older along with me?

I am blessed beyond comprehension and have joys that defy explanation all because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord.

Until the next time ...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dropping the Devil's Bonds

It's been ages since I posted, and you'll never guess why! Ready? Here goes: No good reason. None. None at all. I just didn't know what to post and had that "deer in the headlights" look in my brain whenever I realized I hadn't posted in forever. So I just didn't do anything.

Not a very good reason, huh?

I know it's not, so I finally decided to simply blog about why I haven't blogged. I think this is a problem many of us face whether we're writers, moms, dads, employees, bosses, whatever. We don't know what to do next (because Heaven forbid we make a mistake), so we make the worst mistake of all and don't do anything. We're paralyzed by uncertainty, and instead of doing something--anything--we choose to do nothing.

And yes, it's a choice. I chose not writing because I was afraid I'd write something dumb (like this post, perhaps?) and make a fool of myself. How's that for dumb? In my not-so-gallant effort to avoid looking like a dolt, I spent months doing nothing and looking more doltish (doltisher?) by the minute.

But that's all behind me now. I've spent a lot of time lately evaluating why I do or don't do certain things. Most of it boils down to being afraid of looking bad/amateurish/dumb/ignorant/unkind and on and on. This applies to the rest of my life, by the way, not just my writing.

Uncertainty is a tool the devil uses to bind us so we don't do what God created us to do. And he's been binding his evil heart out around me.

That stops now.

Just because I'm not sure what to do about something doesn't mean that what I do choose to do will be wrong. Maybe it'll take me on a journey to what is right. Maybe it'll bomb. But in any event, I'll be actively seeking an answer rather than twiddling my thumbs and giving the devil something to grin about. Confusion, indecision, uncertainty, fear, prudence, whatever you choose to call it or whatever situation you find yourself in that causes any of the above will probably require some action on your part. Yes, some things resolve themselves without our assistance. There's nothing wrong with a "wait and see" attitude unless it's a "wait and see forever because I'm so darned afraid of doing something wrong that I'm tied in knots and basically useless." But if it's clear that action is needed, do your homework, make your best guess, and then take your best shot.

My most recent conundrum has been how to best market my latest novel. Because I couldn't come up with a sure-fire way to become an instant bestselling author, I came up with absolutely nothing. Oh, I tried lots of stuff all right, so much in fact that it all became useless. You can take all the shots you want, but if you don't have a clear target you're shooting blindly. Rather like using a water pistol to put out as forest fire. It doesn't do any harm, but it doesn't do any good either. My mind was filled with ideas and although none of them seemed perfect, some were not so bad. I immediately eliminated what I couldn't afford, which was a good start. But after that, I had no idea what idea was the best idea for me, so I did the worst possible thing. Nothing. If I'd tried some of them back when I first thought of them, I'd have a good idea by now which ones worked and which didn't. As it is, though, I'm left with a brain full of ideas and still no idea which ones will work. The only way to rectify that is to try them out--one at a time, two at a time, it doesn't matter. What matters is that I try. 

I can feel the devil grinding his ugly teeth. His hold on me is lessening; his ropes of indecision and insecurity are loosening. I am almost free of his grimy, slimy bonds, and it feels so good.

So very good.

Until the next time ...

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cynthia T. Toney and her "Bird Face" series!

Today I have Cynthia T. Toney, author of the "Bird Face" series with us today to discuss how she started writing, as well as the first two releases of her series, 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status.

Cynthia, welcome to Deborah Deetales. It's great to have you here. To start things off, please tell us why and how you started writing. 

Thanks for inviting me, Deborah. I tried different types of writing as an adult—advertising and marketing copy, greeting cards, and nonfiction articles. The writing bug latched onto me with its teeth and wouldn’t let go until it convinced me that I should tell a story.

Did you make a conscious decision to write for teen readers or did it just happen gradually? Tell us something about that.

When I decided to write fiction, it had to be a novel for young people. There was so much I wanted to show pre-teens and teens about how wonderful and powerful God made them. They have the ability to overcome adversity and help shape their own lives. But I knew I couldn’t lecture them. I had use story to entertain while I demonstrated through the characters’ actions how they could react to, work through, and possibly overcome life’s problems.

You have two books out now in the Bird Face series, 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. Can you tell us something about each?

In 8 Notes to a Nobody, originally titled Bird Face, shy Wendy discovers that most of her peers have problems, some of them hiding serious ones. The reader sees different characters react differently to similar problems, with very different results. I hope it helps young people understand to think carefully before they make some of the choices they make and to seek help for their problems. The mystery element in this story involves anonymous sticky-note messages and leads to a special relationship for Wendy.  

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status may sound like a teen romance, but there’s much more to it than that. Wendy is now in high school. Two boys are interested in her: David, from the first story, and Sam, the hearing-impaired grandson of Wendy’s surrogate grandmother, Mrs. Villaturo. Her friendships with both boys and the start of an innocent romance show girls that it’s best to get to know boys as people and friends first. At the same time, Wendy discovers that Mrs. Villaturo suffers from Alzheimer’s, and she fights Mrs. V’s son to try to keep him from moving Mrs. V to Alaska. The mystery in the story has to do with a relative of Wendy’s who disappeared in the early ’60s, and the mystery winds up involving two people in Wendy’s life in an unexpected way.

You must have a special place in your heart for teens. Are your books based on personal experience as a teen yourself, or perhaps the experiences of a daughter, niece, or neighbor, or are you just empathetic toward teens in general?

I drew on my own memories of youth, my daughter’s life experiences, and some of the insecurities and struggles I witnessed in the lives of many young people she or I knew. We both were devastated by suicides among her peers, and because of that, I chose to delicately address a teen suicide in book one, 8 Notes to a Nobody.

You have a third one in the series, too, right? Can you tell us a little about that one? Are all three books so far about the same characters?

Wendy remains a constant character because these are her stories now. David, Alice, Jennifer, Gayle, and Sam appear, recede at times, and come back in force. In book three, Wendy gets into some serious trouble at school. Jennifer, who was Wendy’s best friend in book one but receded into the background in book two, becomes a major character again in book three. And of course, there is another mystery.

How many books are planned for the series?

Write Integrity Press has three under contract for now, but I would like to keep writing about Wendy and have her advance in years until she graduates from high school.

Are you available for speaking engagements?

Yes, thank you for asking. There are so many variables regarding that, anyone interested should contact me through my website, (Be sure to include the middle initial T.)

You’re being published by Write Integrity Press. Where can we buy your books?

The first two titles are available on and I’d love for to carry them. The more people ask for them, the more likely they will carry them, so I’m counting on the public’s demand to assist me. Of course, I’d love for readers to ask their local bookstores, too.

And finally, is there anything you’d like to tell your readers? Any advice? Please tell them why you consider them so valuable and why you devote so much of your life to writing about and for them.

Never give up on your dreams. Believe in yourself even if no other human being seems to. God loves you. And authors like me who write for teens wouldn’t do it if we didn’t care.

Thanks so much for being with us today, Cynthia. Can your readers contact you for answers to questions or information about your books? I’m sure they’d love to visit your website and your other social media sites. Can you give us those addresses?

I love to hear from readers, young and old. I can be reached at any of these:

Follow me on Twitter:  @CynthiaTToney

Cynthia is a former advertising designer, marketing director, and interior decorator who holds a BA in art education with a minor in history. While employed by a large daily newspaper, she rewrote some ad copy without permission and got into trouble for it. At that point, she knew she was destined to become an author.

When she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia writes historical and contemporary teen fiction containing elements of mystery and romance. Cynthia loves animal-shelter dogs and the friendly South from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ever Had One of Those Days? (PLUS a big announcement!)

This is joyous little Molly chasing bubbles.
This is what I looked like that day--well,
not exactly, since I'm older, taller, a tad,
well ... not so ... uh, slim, and I seldom run
around the yard chasing bubbles anymore.
Other than that, you're looking at ME!
Some days are just better than others. Most days start out normally enough--I get up, get myself ready, drink my coffee, feed Molly (my 3-year-old granddaughter) her breakfast as her mom and dad leave for school and work, dress her in fresh clothes, etc. If it happens to be a day when my son-in-law or daughter are home, the Molly chores are relegated to them and I'm free to write, tweet, blog, email, edit, Facebook, and perform all the other myriad duties of a writer.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Once at my desk, I found myself once more wending my way through the mine-littered jungle of social media marketing that's taken its toll on me recently. I've been reduced to a whimpering, quivering, complaining ball of self-pity. Just when I think I've mastered one form of media, another pops up, and I'm forced to learn its particular ins and outs. My publisher and writing cohorts have witnessed my slow, but gradual introduction to Twitter, and if not for them, I'd have given up and crawled into a corner. I haven't been shy, either, about confessing my frustrations, but some days I find I learn a little more about "stuff" and a lot more about myself.

Yesterday was one of those days.

It occurred to me, fresh from yet another rant, that I was belittling something writers would've given their comfy computer chair for just a few years ago. In the 80s, I think email was the closest most writers could come to marketing their books without spending money, other than what they paid to have internet service. Once in a while, a writer would create a newsletter but for the most part those were read mostly by family and close friends. With the onset of the internet for both home and business use (gasp!), our reach expanded world-wide, but unless you had a website (and believe me, I didn't), there was little you could do but buy an ad on the internet or use your trusty email list. In the 50s, not that I remember them in any detail, mind you, computers were the stuff of science fiction and a computer or two in most homes (in countries where circumstances allowed it) was off-the-charts crazy. No way, no how. If you had a book published and your publisher didn't do all the marketing, you had to buy ads for newspapers or magazines. Some days I think about things a little more deeply.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I realized that as frustrating as learning (and in some cases, relearning) Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, websites and other media forms with which I'm not familiar can be, they are all free. Can you imagine how thrilled we'd be if after paying for these wonderful tools for marketing, advertising, creating relationships, making contacts, keeping in touch with friends, colleges, and family members, they were suddenly declared free? If after spending money on marketing--money that most of us don't have to throw around--the powers-that-be declared that from now on we could garner world-wide attention to our work at no cost. Some days I come to my senses.

Yesterday was one of those days.

To top off my victory against my fear of social media and the resulting pity parties, I was invited to appear on Atlanta's WATC, Channel 57, for an interview about my upcoming Christian novel, Misstep. Talk about one of those days! When I'd whooped and hollered and danced around long enough (please see above picture), my publisher, Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press, and I talked about this God-granted opportunity. Fortunately, the edits for Misstep were nearly complete, so she was able to send them to me immediately. At long last, my book will be published! And following Misstep, will come the 2nd and 3rd books of the Road's End series--Faux Pas and Misjudge. Yes, some days are better than others.

And yesterday was one of those days.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is... Getting It All Wrong

I know many of you long for the freedom (uh... nope), ease (yeah, right), and wealth (hahahaha) of all writers everywhere, and think the life of said writer is one long session of retiring to our garrets, drinking copious amounts of coffee and other caffeine-laden drinks, staring out the window at the scenery beyond, and making things up. Let me set you straight.

Aside from that freedom, ease, and wealth baloney, you're... absolutely right! That's exactly what we do. It's not so cut and dry for the non-fiction writers among us, of course, but for those of us writing fiction, it's just that simple.

Or is it? Let me explain.

This is not, I repeat not what the window looks
like in my garret. It is pretty, though, isn't it?
It's actually the window in a church
in Maine near Acadia National Park. 
Yes, we retire to our "garret," which in most cases is not up a long, winding, stone stairway to a tiny room at the top of a tall tower with a window that faces the east when we want to see a sunrise and the west when we want to watch a sunset (it's a magic window), but rather anyplace we can find to plunk down our computer. It might be one of those fancy "office garrets,' or a simpler "couch garret." It might be a comfortable "bed garret," or an uncomfortable "bathroom garret." Of course, there are the ever-popular "Starbucks" and "Barnes and Noble" garrets where you'll find several writers using the same garret you are. (Have I used the word "garret" enough, or would you like me to expound on that topic a bit longer? No? Okay.)

Moving on. Yes, we often drink coffee. Or tea. Or wine. That's why Starbucks and Barnes and Noble are so popular for writing. However, taking your computer to a wine-tasting event is often frowned upon, and you have to keep moving around to different wine stores because they won't let you come in a second time, but at least the drinks are free.

And we do stare out the window, unless we're in the bathroom and have to stand on the edge of the bathtub to look out one of those skinny, rectangular, frosted windows and find out we can't see anything anyway, so we might as well not try because sure as shootin', we'll break a leg trying.

Lastly, we do make things up. To a point. Our imaginations are our best friends during our writing sessions, but even making things up requires diligence and hard work lest we screw things up. I once attributed the quote, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," to Winston Churchill, and was chastised (none too gently, I might add) and told it was actually Franklin Delano Roosevelt who used those stirring words. Using the wrong colloquialisms for the period is another problem historical book writers have to worry about. For instance, having your knight from the Crusades saying, "Hot dang, that was close!" isn't going to cut it. Even readers with little or no knowledge of ancient languages know that knights would more likely have said, "Hot dangeth, that was nearbyeth!"

In short, writers of any genre--with the exception of speculative or science fiction--have to stay true to the period, geography, language, dress, and historical events that were/are indicative of the location and period we're writing about. We don't want to jar our readers with a glaring inaccuracy... like a wrongly-attributed famous quote, for instance (not that I would know anything about that). We strive to make our job of making things up a pleasure for our readers no matter what or where we've placed our characters.

We just don't plunk them into the bathroom at a wine-tasting event.

Until the next time...