Looking for something to read?

Christmas is coming! If you have readers on your shopping list, here’s the best place in the world place where readers and authors connect. No need to run all over town if you can make just one stop and find what you want. If you’re a writer, you need One Stop Fiction, and if you’re a reader, it needs you.

onestopfiction.com

After the shopping is done and the gifts wrapped, you’ll probably want to kick off your shoes, grab a cup of spiced hot cider — or hard cider? — while you let yourself go and melt into your easy chair. 

Everyone have a great Christmas — or whichever holiday you celebrate.

Namaste!

 

 

My Interview with Smashwords

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Independence, Missouri, USA, but I don’t know if the town itself influenced my writing or if my family did. More likely, I got some writing talent from certain family members. I was born during the Great Depression, but I don’t think being poor had any great influence.

However, I learned to read in First Grade from the famed Dick and Jane readers, and those made a big impression on me. I think it dawned on me there were people besides myself on this planet, and some of them even wrote down their stories. I loved those books. And from there, I read everything else I could get my hands on, mostly adult books. 

Oh yes, I had a Big Big Storybook with such classics as Black Beauty, Heidi, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, and others. But the grownup books gave me a larger introduction to life, even the sordid side (Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road and God’s Little Acre), Gone With the Wind, and even a 12-volume set of Zane Grey’s westerns. When I got to high school, I read books I’d been forbidden to read earlier.

Perhaps it took all my life to get my act together and write my historical novel, Face the Winter Naked, which is set in Missouri (Independence, Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis).

When did you first start writing?
I first started writing as a young teen, beginning with poetry that was really terrible. I call those my “therapeutic poetry days,” because I was mostly an unhappy loner.

The real writing–which included teaching myself nearly everything–didn’t begin until after my second marriage. I think I needed something to keep me from going crazy raising five kids. This time, I didn’t write much poetry, but instead wrote some one-act plays. Novels came later.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy of writing is finding a story inside of me that I never knew existed. I’m always amazed when I read back a finished first draft and realize I did something spectacular. Well, spectacular for me, at least. The act of creation is a powerful thing.

What is your writing process?
I’m a firm believer in right-brain writing and that all stories come from my subconscious storehouse of memories. The right portion of the brain is the creative side, the left side, the analytical. Many professional writers use their creative right brain, some without realizing they’re doing so, and others do it deliberately. It’s fairly easy to switch from one mode to the other. 

I never talk my stories out with another person. My stories are inside of ME, and my creative right mind is searching for plot details. Only my subconscious knows what information I need to write a particular story. If I talk a story out, I no longer have a need to write it. My subconscious will become confused with the input of other people’s ideas, and may go on vacation. Discussing a story with someone else is often the reason people stop writing and stash the manuscript in the back of a closet; they’ve talked the story out, so there’s no longer a burning desire to write it. Wait for a finished draft before sharing it.

I also use music to help me write. For example, while writing a canoe scene in my Arctic novel Drum Dance, I played drum beats from Enya’s “Watermark” repeatedly. Each time I wanted to work on that scene, I put the music on and was immediately in the scene again. I used the same technique for my novel Face the Winter Naked. My main character is a hobo who plays a banjo, so I played banjo music throughout the story. If I play those pieces now, the scenes flash into my mind.

When working on the first draft of a novel, I set a word quota for the day and try to stick to it. I shut myself in my office with coffee and music and let ‘er rip till I’ve reached the quota, usually about noon.

A good way to break a writer’s block is to leave a sentence or paragraph unfinished. When I sit down to write again, it’s usually very easy to pick up the thread and continue writing. Once I begin, I don’t stop writing until I run out of ideas for that day.

Describe your desk
Describe my desk? Egads! 

Well, the first thing I see is a HUGE mess, and the next thing is my Tortoiseshell cat, Jazzbaby, who creates the mess. Beneath all the papers, calculators, CDs, pens, pencils, cracker crumbs, and stuff to clean my computer with, etc., is a large wooden desk with a hutch. I’m a little bitty thing, just 4′ 11″, so imagine me putting that sucker together all by myself! 

I’m not going to describe the rest and will just blame it all on the cat. Jazzy changes her bed every few months (no, she doesn’t change the sheets and pillow cases), and she’s currently sleeping in a ream-size manuscript mailer on one corner of my desk. But come midnight, she chases me off my chair so she can sleep there. When she shows her teeth, I flee to the bedroom.

What motivated you to become an indie author?
My first children’s novel was published traditionally in a time when having an agent wasn’t as important as it is today. I sent my manuscript out to three publishers, over the transom, and it was picked up by the third one. 

Today’s traditional publishing climate has changed so much that it’s almost impossible to find an agent, let alone a publisher who’ll take direct submissions. It’s all about money now, and they keep publishing their big money makers. 

I finally got tired of submitting and submitting and getting rejected repeatedly, so I published a few older books with Lulu while still trying to find an agent for two newer titles. Need I say I was overjoyed when digital publishing came along? Especially Smashwords. I love being my own publisher, editor, proofreader, cover designer, promotional and marketing director–all without middlemen and agents saying, “Thank you for submitting your book, but it’s not quite right for us.” (Or in the case of email submissions, not replying at all.)

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I love Smashwords! This company provides me with all the tools needed to publish and promote my books, plus finding the retailers to sell them. Once I get my books listed in the Premium Catalog, I can just sit back and wait for the royalties to come in. Of course, I also make use of social media to promote my books. If there’s one thing that doesn’t work for me, it’s that few of my readers come directly to Smashwords to buy–so all my sales have been from the other distributors. I haven’t found an easy way to make people come to Smashwords, and some say the site isn’t very user friendly. But I expect that will change some day.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
My e-reading device of choice is currently Kindle PC. I have a Kindle; however, since I’m almost always at my computer, it’s easier for me to read from my monitor. If I should start traveling a lot, then I’d want the Kindle along with me. In the meantime, my poor Kindle’s battery is probably so dead that even mouth-to-mouth resuscitation won’t bring it back to life.

Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors? There are way too many to recall offhand, but here are a few: Mark Twain, James A. Michener, poets Robert Service and Edgar A. Guest, O.E. Rolvaag, Jack London, Frances Parkinson Keyes, and Thomas Tryon.

What are your five favorite books, and why?

My five favorite books are: 

* Giants in the Earth (O.E. Rolväag). I had to read the classic many years ago in high school and was probably the only student in my class who loved it. This book, I believe, is one of the most important pioneer stories ever written. I’ve read it four times.

* Steamboat Gothic (Keyes). I love novels set in the deep south.

* Chesapeake (Michener). His novels are so rich with detail that I get educated while also being entertained.

* The Odyssey of Homer. I think the epic poem just pulled me in, because I love and understand poetry.

* Harvest Home (Tom Tryon). The story was intriguing and very mysterious. I couldn’t put the book down. Tryon was an excellent writer.

My favorite genres are historical, literary, and young-adult fiction, humor, Americana, mainstream, commercial–almost anything except crime thrillers and violent, gory tales. Those turn my stomach–there’s enough violence in the world.

What do you read for pleasure?
I’m stuck on stories set in the Arctic.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
My current work in progress is “The Ghost of Calico Acres,” women’s fiction set in southwestern Wisconsin. Born thirty years ago, this novel (which I call a psychological romantic ghost story) had been collecting dust in a closet until a few months ago, at which time I re-read the manuscript and decided that, with a few minor changes, it would work as an e-book. Little did I realize how much time–and research!–it would take to make my plot behave, and how much more I’d learned about writing during those thirty years. For one thing, I’ve become more detail oriented and I’m a much better editor and proofreader, which makes myself a pain in the butt to work with. So far, those “few minor changes” have taken about six months and four or five revisions. If I didn’t love my characters and their problems so much, the story would probably stay buried in a box somewhere.

Summary of The Ghost of Calico Acres:

Young Dr. Marc St. Clair’s great-aunt Miriam has left him her old Victorian house at Calico Acres, in SW Wisconsin, but her will says he can’t claim ownership until he and his paraplegic wife, Summer, have lived there for one year. Marc loves the house and is determined to own it, but Summer hates “the ugly gingerbread house” on sight, with good reason–the house is claimed to be haunted.

What are you working on next?
Someday I hope to finish a nonfiction book about my psychic experiences and experiments. I wrote that one a good number of years ago and even found a publisher. However, the small publisher and I didn’t see eye-to-eye, so we called it quits. I still think there’s an interest in that type of book.

And–if it’s the last thing I ever do–I want to write my Flapper-era YA novel, Jazzbaby. I’ve kept that title in my mind for about twenty years, and even bestowed the name upon my current feline pest. I’m aware there will be a great deal of research involved, but I look forward to researching because I love doing that.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not writing, I’m either reading or marketing or researching. I work a daily crossword puzzle with my morning coffee, without fail. Boring as hell these days, because I’ve probably memorized all the three- and four-letter words by now. I’m OCD about doing those darned puzzles, but I also know they keep my mind sharp and help prevent Alzheimer’s.

Since I began publishing e-books, my time is pretty much filled with promoting my other works and I can’t seem to find the time I need for writing something new.

There are also my young grandchildren to consider, and I don’t spend nearly enough time with them. If I’m very lucky, I might find time to take a walk (through a nearby cemetery!) and have to use a walker for that now due to balance problems.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Nothing inspires me to get out of bed each day. I love my bed.

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Most ebooks I read are given to me by writer friends in return for reviews. I don’t get to read as much as I’d like these days.

How do you approach cover design?
Except for two professionally contracted covers, I enjoy making my own.

What do your fans mean to you?
After my first children’s novel, The Haunted Igloo, was published traditionally, I visited local grade schools with a life-sized, handmade Inuit doll and a bunch of stuffed polar bears (toys, not real ones!), encouraging middle-grade students to keep reading and writing, and offering *polar bear hugs* along with my autograph. All the kids were very generous with their praise of my book and my writing. I loved being with them, and always received packets of thank-you notes and great drawings from them later. Those experiences meant the world to me.

Among my favorite fan letters are these gems: 

“Mrs. Turner: I’ll give you a million dollars for this book!” 🙂

“Dear Mrs. Turner: Thank you for getting me out of sixth hour!!!” 🙂 )

“Dear Mrs. Turner: Thank you from all the lead in my pencil!” 🙂 ))))

I haven’t interacted much with fans of my adult stories, except online and at book signings. But those middle-grade kids were simply priceless. In my opinion, this is the best age group to visit in schools, with some coming of age emotionally and physically, but a great many more still quite innocent.

Tell us something about yourself.
I’m a Scorpio witch born in Independence, Missouri, on a dreary Halloween night at the height of the Great Depression (1932) and currently live in De Pere, Wisconsin. I’m a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother, and also a Green Bay Packers football fan. Self-educated beyond high school, my interests are many and varied: astronomy, astrology, geography, geology, science, history, yoga, philosophy, psychology, metaphysics and parapsychology. I am a jack-of-all-trades, a Mensa *almost*, a classical music and jazz fusion aficionado. My favorite guitarist/composer is Al Di Meola. I’m interested in spiritual healing and practice transcendental meditation when I have time.

Published at Smashwords 2013-11-18.

SPOOK: The Little Stray Ghost

 

gray cat

My name is Spook. I am looking for a loving home. I don’t remember ever having a home and don’t much recall my mother cat or my siblings. I have been wandering the streets for a few months in a cold Wisconsin winter, looking for food and a place to sleep.
One day, a man and woman noticed me hanging around their house, and they kindly set out a dish of food. They talked to me, but I stayed far away until they went back inside. Then I cautiously went over and ate the food really fast.  I was starving! It was very cold that night, but I was afraid to get into the box of warm blankets the woman placed on the front porch for me. I’m sure those kind people had no idea where I went for the night, but they seemed to expect me each day at dinnertime. Every day, I found food and water, and I made it a point to remember where to go when hungry.
Then came the brutal cold. I went to the house and waited on the porch for food, keeping my feet underneath my body to keep them from freezing. This went on for about three weeks. I watched the window for signs of movement inside, and when someone looked out, I began meowing loudly until they brought food. I still would not come close to them, although I loved being talked to. The man and woman fed me daily through the harshest February days, and they put a pillow out so I could sit and warm my feet for a while.
I was a traveler, but people had no idea how far I came to get food. Some days I went hungry, usually after a big snow or rain storm. Those days, I wouldn’t venture out, even for food. But when the weather cooperated, I braved wind, snow drifts, and low temperatures to go back where I knew there would be food waiting for me. I especially felt attracted to the man, because he was the one who mostly brought the food. Sometimes I wanted to come closer to him, and when he left the door open, hoping I might come inside, I was tempted, but timid.
One day I was so happy to find a patio in the back of the house. There, the sun was warm. I sat there in the sun warming myself. I stretched and rolled around on the concrete porch, feeling the glorious warmth. I even took time to groom myself, and I knew the people inside were watching. Even the family cat watched, but I didn’t know if I could trust that cat or not as she sat growling and switching her tail! I wanted so much to go inside, but I felt she didn’t want me there.
But the man and woman wanted me. I began coming closer to them when I came to the front porch to eat. Then, one day, the man left the door open and I ventured into the warm house. I was so happy to be warm again that I treaded with my paws and rolled around. I found the petting and scratching behind my ears a delightful feeling. The couple watched me and talked softly to me, but they kept the big cat in another room. After all, I was not much more than a kitten, and I had no idea if she would accept me on her territory. So we were kept in separate rooms until we could adjust to each other.
Then, the landlord said, “No more cats! Just one is all you can have. The new cat has to go. You can find it a good home.”
Oh no! That’s easier said than done. And it’s why I’m at the Humane Society. I need a family who understands cats and who will love me. I am a gentle kitty. I have heard that I have a sweet face and sweet disposition. I need a place to stay, a home where someone needs a companion. Someone to entice me out of my shyness and teach me to play. I have not had time to play–I was too busy just trying to stay alive.
The people who fed me all through the frigid winter named me Spook, because I came and went like a little gray ghost. I had felt like a lost soul for so long, then found a home that I couldn’t claim as my own. That’s my story and that’s why I’m here, hoping with my paws crossed that some kind person wants to adopt a nice kitty like me. I’m sure those kind people who opened their hearts to me would be happy to know their little Spook has found a good home.
GURU’S NOTE:
I called the Humane Society after a couple of years to see if they had found a home for Spook. I was told he had stayed with them for a few months before he found a “forever home.” I felt guilty, because I should’ve phoned sooner. But my heart grieved for that little lost cat, and I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up the phone and call. When I finally did, I felt a great relief. But even now, when the weather gets cold and nasty, I almost expect to see our little gray ghost coming across the yard to the porch. (The cat in the picture is not Spook, but resembles him a lot. We never got a chance to take a good picture of him.)
Be happy, Spook! We loved you.
Namaste & Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Thoughts from the past

My high school grades weren’t the best. I did all right in reading, writing, music, and art. But while almost failing in science, math, civics, history, in 1949 I still managed to graduate from Northeast High School at the tender age of sixteen. For some reason I don’t recall, I’d been allowed to skip eighth grade and become a Northeast “Viking.”

northeast_1

Northeast High School
Kansas City, Missouri

I wanted to go to the proms and Teen Town, our chaperoned Friday night hangout, but was never allowed to. I had a new dad who insisted boys come to the house and ask HIS permission before asking me out. As a result I never dated until I was out of school and on my own.

Dorothy (my new mom) made me a satin graduation gown in one of the school colors: purple. (My school colors were purple and white.) But alas, I was driven to the graduation in Kansas City in the back of a pickup truck, sitting on a milk carton with the wind blowing my hair. The gray graduation gown covered my beautiful purple dress, and I never got to show it off. After the ceremony, it was right back home again in the bed of the pickup, while carloads of kids drove by honking and yelling wisecracks.

I still can’t believe it, a wasted graduation dress, and except for my diploma, a wasted trip downtown.

Namaste!

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Screaming past the graveyard

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I slithered into this world one chilly Halloween night, an eight-pound blob of wet flesh and blood with a scream shrill enough to scare the knickers off my parents, my brothers, and the doctor. Indeed, my family had no idea what they were getting into by ordering a girl baby.
 
This howling human specimen didn’t know what it was getting into, either: a female in a family of mostly males. Arriving directly from the spirit world, this mini-witch had no previous experience with mortals and had yet to discover if this strange condition was a trick or a treat. If I’d been an outhouse, my brothers would’ve had no problem tipping me over as a Halloween prank; I was not an outhouse, but was instead a stranger in their house. When the neighbor kids were out banging on doors and collecting treats, my brothers were surprised with a loud, stinky little witch of a sister.
 
I survived their various childish nicknames (birdbrain and boney) and taunts, and by the time I was old enough to keep up with them, I followed my siblings everywhere they went, often to the golf course to look for balls they might sell back to the golfers who’d been careless enough to sand-trap them or lose in a pond. But mostly the boys cut the dimpled shells off the golf balls and released the rubber innards that made the balls bounce, careful not to cut the center core—which they’d heard was hollow and would explode if punctured. To my knowledge, no golf ball had ever blown up, so I don’t know if that story was true.
 
Hot summer days found me running barefoot through the grass with my brothers and cousins  (who lived across the street), unmindful of stones, thistles, slivers of  metal, or shards of glass that might cut our feet. Hot weather gave us the freedom to shed our shoes and socks, so we could save our shoes for “good,” the good being church or a doctor’s office. Come time for school again, though, our shoes no longer fit and we got new ones anyway.
 
One bad thing about going barefoot was stepping in hot oil the county had just poured on the newly graded dirt road out front. If we wanted to cross the road to play with our cousins, we had to bear the pain of burning soles—and getting a bawling out from our mother for tracking oil into the house. No doubt a witch’s broom to sail over the oil would’ve come in handy then.
 
There were times when I walked barefoot through a creek to God knows where. (It’s probably dried up or polluted now.) Sometimes I didn’t know where we were going, and didn’t really care. It was enough to follow my brothers and let them suffer later for whatever mischief they got us into, or for not telling someone where they were going with their sister and little brother (who had arrived three years after I did). We just went. Period.  It seemed we kids were always on the go, and nobody thought a thing about it.
 
Recalling those days, I believe we mostly raised ourselves, with a little help from our Aunt Pearlie, whose door was always open to her dead brother’s children. We could usually expect to be fed a thick slice of homemade bread fresh from the oven, slathered with real creamery butter.
 
Today, someone would surely have called Children’s Services to report our mother’s  negligence. But it was the Great Depression, and Dad had died when I was three.  Mom was usually out working at whatever job a widow with four kids and only a fifth-grade education could find. If we needed anything, we turned to our aunt for help. We had no cell phones back then—and no 9-1-1 for emergencies—but somehow we managed.
 
My brothers teased the daylights out of their only sister. They knew I was afraid of the dark and the boogeyman. Warm evenings often found us alone in the house with the front door open and only a screen between us and whatever dangers lurked outside in the dark.
 
On some of those evenings I felt sad and lonely, as though I were the only human left on Earth. To deepen my melancholy, from somewhere in the distance—or perhaps the distance of my own mind—there came the  mournful whistle of a train. We did not live near a train depot or railroad tracks, to my knowledge, so I don’t know where that far-off  sound came from. But it was spooky.
 
It didn’t help that my brothers loved to scare me. They thought it was fun to make me cry and scream. One evening, they had me hysterical, saying, “See those big green eyes looking through the screen door, birdbrain? The boogeyman’s going to get you!”
 
When Mom came home and found me cowering under her bed, shaking and crying my eyes out, my brothers were in deep trouble. But Mom looked me in the eye and said, “Stop that crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” Showing real sympathy to her scared little girl, right?
 
Another time when she was gone, my oldest brother—having a part-time job and a few dollars in his pocket—decided the four of us would go to a movie in downtown Kansas City—twelve miles away, plus a mile or more walk to catch the bus.
 
It was dark by the time we came back home. I don’t remember what movie we saw, but I sure remember running and screaming past the graveyard on our way home from the bus stop.
 
We tried to sneak into the house, hoping Mom wasn’t home yet. But there she was, sitting in the dark waiting for us with a long switch in her hands. The oldest boy got most of the lashes, but I still remember how that thing felt on my bare legs. It didn’t matter whose fault it was; we all got whipped.
 
Mom said that the first thing she did when she got home was to check on my little brother. But there was no boy under the covers, just his pillow scrunched up to look like a sleeping kid. She then checked the rest of our beds and found them empty, too. When she realized what we’d done, she was furious … and worried out of her mind because her kids were gone, it was late at night, and she had no idea where we were.
 
I survived the switching, the teasing, the name-calling, and the eerie whistle of a distant  train, but somewhere inside of me, that terrified little girl is still screaming past the graveyard. Sometimes I want to return to that time and tell “mini me” that everything’s going to be all right.
 
Stay tuned for more from the deep well of my subconscious.
 
Happy haunting! 

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Bonnie

In a nutshell

Walnut

“In a nutshell,” as I’m sure you know, means “in a few words,” or “very briefly explained.” Nutshells, being the “hard exterior within which the kernel of a nut is enclosed” (to quote the Oxford English Dictionary) don’t get very big, since nuts themselves are generally fairly small. There probably was a Jurassic Walnut or something way back when that could easily squish Des Moines, but that screenplay is yet to be written. Nutshells themselves were first used as metaphors for something very small back in 1602, when Shakespeare had Hamlet declare, “O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count my selfe a King of infinite space.” Anything that could fit “in a nutshell” would have to be pretty darn small, and by the 18th century all the major writers were cramming things into nutshells.

With a metaphor being as popular as “in a nutshell” has been, can a verb “to nutshell” (meaning to briefly summarize) be far behind? Well, before we all start groaning about “rampant verbification” and the decline of our language, some news: “to nutshell” has been around since 1883, first found in Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi.”

Thus, with that explanation out of the way, I will attempt to “nutshell” myself for the benefit of my faithful (and unfaithful) readers. The short answer to the question “Who am I?” is: I am a nut in a shell. I am the original square peg in the round hole, whose middle brother once said, “Bonnie, you’re my sister and I love you. But I will never understand you.”

Not since I slipped into this world one cold, rainy Halloween night have I felt truly at home on this planet. My birth town is Independence, Missouri. I’ve also lived in Arkansas, California, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, and I currently reside in Wisconsin. I’m a peanut-size (4’ 11”) free spirit with an oddball mind that seems to operate on two levels at once: spiritual and physical; right brain and left (or at times, no functioning brain). It certainly makes interesting story fodder for my poor old muse.

I’ve always been a reader, a writer, a thinker, a what-have-you from early childhood. My dad’s family were poets and painters, and I inherited some of that talent. A great-great-grandfather in Wales was known as the “Bard of Horeb,” and by some stretch of my imagination, I can picture myself actually sitting down with him to discuss life’s oddities, one of which is myself. My writing activity began in elementary school and continued through high school. I wrote what I now know was therapeutic poetry, and probably should christen myself the “Bard of Horrid.”

Like many children seeking to understand themselves, I spewed out this dreadful verse on a daily basis. Looking back, I see how ugly most of it was. But it was a start. If my ancestors could use their creative minds, so could I. In fact, I also had a bit of talent for drawing pictures.

It was difficult to choose which course to pursue—art or writing. Feeling that I should choose one or the other, in order to become halfway proficient, I decided to write. That way I would enjoy the best of both, because “a writer is an artist who paints pictures with words.” Finally, I discarded the paintbrushes and took up my pen in pursuit of profound words to share with humanity.

Writers write. Their muses are on call at all times of the day or night (and sometimes those lazy muses don’t even come when called, but that’s another story). Even while inside a nutshell, writers attempt to write. For imaginative people, writing is the easy part; finding a publishing professional who digs the work is a crazy circus.

In a nutshell, I am a writer. I’ve always been one. Someday I’ll write “The End” and go join my ancestor, the “Bard of Horeb,” to discuss what each of us has written before the nutshell cracked open and spewed our inflated egos into the ether.

In the meantime, my interests are many and varied: yoga, meditation, metaphysics, astronomy, astrology (Scorpio—what did you expect?), graphology, geology, all the other “ologies,” history, science, the environment, global warming, and any other subject that hits me on the spur of the moment. I am a Jill-of-all-Trades, a Mensa-almost, a Green-Bay Packers football fan.

I also love carpentry (my dad was a carpenter), and have a knack for working with machines (but not cars). I love sculpturing, and someday hope to sit down and whittle some useless artifact my kids can fight over when I’m no longer around to tape their mouths shut. My dad was a whittler, so I’ll be “Whittler’s Daughter.”

I’m the mother of five grown children, a handful of grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. I am a young-looking, young-thinking senior who refuses to act her age—I prefer not to reveal that age, nor the wrinkles I’ve accumulated. I have hazel-eyes and medium ash-blonde hair with a few streaks of silver—highlights some women pay their stylist good money to fake. I’m not your typical rocking-chair senior of previous generations, and I am also an incurable romantic.

I love music with a passion, especially classical, opera, and jazz. My favorite jazz musician is Al Di Meola, guitarist & composer of some of the best music this side of heaven, whose expertise spans more than thirty years as of this writing. I believe I am his #1 fan, and if I am not, I should be—hey Al, I hope you are reading this!

My favorite authors include: Mark Twain, James A. Michener, poets Robert Service and Edgar A. Guest, and many more too numerous to recall offhand. Some of my favorite books: Giants in the Earth (O.E. Rolvaag), Steamboat Gothic (Frances Parkinson Keyes), Chesapeake (Michener), the epic poem, The Odyssey of Homer, and Harvest Home (Thomas Tryon). Favorite genres: historical, young-adult, literary, humor, Americana, mainstream/commercial—almost anything except violent, gory tales. No vampires, please! No monkey-brain-eating ghouls!

Stay tuned for more stories from nut inside the shell, and if you should ever need an honest, highly qualified, and affordable copyeditor or proofreader, check out my link here at WordPress.

walnuts inside-outside

Namaste!

Bonnie

Calling Brilliant Internet Technicians

. . . . especially those familiar with MS Word 2003. 

A weird thing happens when I use my mouse wheel to scroll. This is something I’ve noticed before, but never thought much about it. 

You know how when you click the middle mouse wheel and hold it down, it will allow you to scroll either up, down, or sideways? Mine’s acting stupid. I don’t know if there’s a virus or other bug in my mouse, my keyboard, or in Word itself.

When I click the middle wheel, I get the normal little up/down arrow cursors (in this instance, they’re “cursers”), but I also get tiny squares of about 1/4″ and sometimes there are images inside them! 

I’m seeing fonts, numerals, the temperature (not my local temperature), partial words (even these: Twit & Trum). I don’t know where they’re coming from. I’ve tried to get a screen capture, but the moment I move my mouse, they disappear.

What really freaks me out is that some of these little squares are colored and consist of various face parts. The thing that bugs me the most is an EYE – a blue eye – looking at me! WHAT THE HELL!? I thought I was seeing things, until I checked with a magnifying glass.

Since then, these body parts have been ears, an eyebrow with half an eye under it, half a face with just an eye, nose, and mouth. There was even a face with the bottom half gone, just thick eyebrows, a brow, and the whole top part of a man’s head (which appeared to be bald or gray).

My son thought I was imagining these things, so he also checked with the magnifying glass, and we spent an hour or so googling MS Word & mouse problems. But we couldn’t figure it out. It’s unnerving to start a scroll and these things pop up occasionally. Only the face images are flesh colored; the letters and numbers are white on a black or dark blue background.

I feel like I’m being spied on, but how is it possible? I’ve even been able to get more than one of these things to stay a few moments so I could take a picture with my cell camera, but the images are too small and I’m unable to see what’s in them. I know a couple are just the one eye, and it appears to be the same eye each time.

For what it’s worth, here are the pictures, but they don’t tell much because they’re very small. You can see the mouse cursor arrows along with the little square thingees. 

0801171400 0801171404 0801171414 0801171413

Any ideas? I’m going nuts trying to figure this out. It’s like I have a ghost. Every one of these pictures had either letters, numerals, or face parts. Too bad they’re hard to see.

Namaste!

WordPress-yin-yang