At Least The Wine Is Good

Upon opening my email I saw the reply I’d been waiting for. These folks were good enough to tell me why they weren’t going to publish the short story I sent in. It’s always good to know the why. If you know that it can only help you become a better writer. That’s not to say I wasn’t disappointed. I am, of course.

You don’t get to be my age without running into more than a few people telling you no. Being an overall optimist, I bounced back in record time. And I’ll tell you why.

Rachelle Gardner. I subscribe to her newsletter and it was also in my inbox. Among other things, the advice was to not go out on the ledge. It’s not time to jump because the publishing industry is going through immense changes. Just like the postal service. With new ways to publish your work (and there are many), an author is just as likely to decide to do it on their own.

Everybody, and their dog, too, seems to have a book out. How have they done it? I don’t know. I suspect the “how” but when I know for sure I’ll let you in on it. Are they good writers? Maybe. In her article Ms. Gardner speaks of how even established authors are feeling the crunch. A big storm may be on the horizon and when it’s over I bet there will still be room for the new writer looking for avid readers.

So don’t give up. I’m not. What I’m going to do is finish the final draft of my homemade pomegranate-cranberry wine. If I had enough I could send you all a free sample and I’d have my very own home business take off, albeit an illicit one. My neighbor told me he’d distilled a batch of wine and the stuff is flammable.

Mmm. Sounds good to me.

#RachelleGardner,, #homemadewine, #publishingadvice, #writingadvice, #letsdrinkinsteadok?

P.S. Don’t forget your hashtags, dear friends. #followme, and I’ll #followyou

Once more, dear friends

I’ve just sent another submission, this time to Bewildering Stories. They don’t pay but at this point who cares? What is important is getting published. 

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook is nice. So is Instagram. Anyone with a pc or android phone can get their work seen in social media. If you’ve been submitting, and getting turned down, you already know just how different a book or magazine editor is. I’ve sent in short stories to Asimov, Gigantosaurus, Sunlight Press, and Orson Scott Card, among others. I think I might know what will make the difference this time.

An editor. Aha! you say, but doesn’t that cost money? Not necessarily. It can if you want to pay for one. There are nice people out there willing to help and Linda is one of them. I met this nice woman on Facebook. Join  some writer’s groups if you haven’t already. I can’t guarantee that she’ll want to help me any further but she did a terrific job editing my short story Wipires. She also gave me some fantastic advice about poetry. Thank you, Linda.

So, join groups. Get good advice and find a good editor. If they can spell and you get your manuscript emailed back to you full of corrections and mild recriminations you’ve found a good one. Don’t get upset about it. That’s what they’re for, to tighten up your story.  Just send back a humble ‘thank you’  and rewrite it. 


Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit you would stay out and your dog would go in—Mark Twain

One reason a dog is such comfort when  you’re downcast is that he doesn’t ask to know why—Anonymous

When some men go to the dogs it’s pretty rough on the dogs—Anonymous

No man can be condemned for owning a dog. As long as he has a dog he has a friend; and the poorer he gets, the better friend he has—Will Rogers

Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job—Franklin Jones

Say something idiotic and no one but your dog politely wags his tail—Virginia Graham

It is a terrible thing for an old lady to outlive her dogs—Tennessee Williams

When a dog runs at you, whistle for him—Henry David Thoreau

You own a dog; you feed a cat—Jim Fiebig

A lawyer is just like an attack dog, only without a conscience—Tom Clancy

On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog—P. Steiner

This Is Tougher Than It Seems

Still striking out with the publishers. Had an offer from Writer’s Review to take my work in hand, proofread and edit then hopefully find a publication willing to print it. Voila! Author-ized at last. Only catch is it costs around $300 and there’s no guarantee they’ll get me in print.

If you create a pin on Pinterest you can pay a flat fee and each hit you get they deduct from your “account”. Well, dammit.

All of this sounds fine except I don’t seem to have the cash on hand. Everything financial has bitten me on the patootie. Oh, well, it costs nothing to continue submitting online directly to magazines. So, submit. Reject. Submit again.



 I’ve never had a dream like it before or since. Longer than normal, it had connected scenes with seamless transitions. Even after all these years I remember it as clearly as the morning I awoke. It was a prophetic dream, of course. Others don’t stay with you like this.

Drones peppered the afternoon sky, moving north. I was filled with dread but didn’t let it immobilize me. On the contrary, my sister and brother in law and I had been making plans. We had been watching the news, reading the signs of the times. A collapse of the economy, foreign invasion. All the worst parts of the bible. Something. Everything.

Scene two.

I only had a few miles to drive. Just two days before I’d been there but today the whole thing had changed drastically.

They didn’t keep birds but now several cages of wood and chicken wire had been erected. Inside them were exotic birds, some with wild, varied plumage. In each cage was a bag of fruit.

Weirdest of all was the profusion of people lying in the yard. Some lay on the grass, others on blankets. I didn’t inspect this strange development immediately but went in the house. What I expected to find was my brother in law boiling water and my sister ripping sheets for bandages. Instead, I found no one. Nothing seemed to be missing or out of place.

Muttering,“No,no,no”, I ran to the storage building. The door was ajar and all the supplies we’d stockpiled were gone. To say I was dismayed is a vast understatement. I was shocked, horrified and felt a lonely displacement. “They left me,” I whispered and fell on my face in the grass to cry.

No time for that. Could not take even a minute more to feel sorry for myself. There were people here who couldn’t even stand up while I was the picture of good health.

Walking among them, I studied but didn’t touch. Most appeared to be sleeping with no visible mark on their exposed skin. There was no smell of putrefaction. A few opened their eyes when I blocked the sun out but they didn’t speak. One man kept his eyes open longer than the rest. I asked him, “What has happened to all of you?” He only closed his eyes again, remaining silent.

I went to the porch swing and sat down, wondering what to do next. Where to go. An audible pop sounded and a feeling like standing before the bass speakers at a rock concert hit my chest. From my upper peripheral vision I saw two figures descending from the sky. Unaided by bubble or machine, they dropped effortlessly to the ground.

If you watched much of the ‘70s Saturday morning show Land of the Lost you no doubt saw the Zarn. That’s what these beings looked like. A full body suit covered their humanoid bodies, spangled with flashing colored lights. No eyes, nose or mouth were visible.

Mind to mind they communicated to me. “You cannot remain here. Go anywhere but home.”

Okay. Gotcha. I stopped at a bird cage and opened it. A large cockatoo eyed me but didn’t peck. I peeled him an orange and told him, “Sorry. I’m going to need this.” Taking the bag of fruit, I fled.

Scene three.

I’m in the car driving. In dreams you go places without knowing where you’re traveling but you get to the right place anyway. My destination turned out to be a flea market. I went inside.

All manner of goods were for sale. There was camo clothing and farming implements. One whole row was made of bins of tools. Gas masks and survival knives, tents and fire starters. I traded my car for a backpack, hunting knife, bottles of water and dried food, a carton of cigarettes and two Bic lighters.

A rough-cut man checked me out and pointed to the back door. “Leave that way.”

Scene four.

The sky outside the flea market was brighter than when I’d gone in. Behind the structure was a huge pasture but no cows or horses. A profusion of wooden walkways cut a maze across the grass, leading to stiles and covered bridges. Covered bridges? But there was no water. Odd.

I climbed through the barbed wire and watched other folks moving down their chosen walkway. It didn’t escape my notice that I was alone on mine. I crossed over a stile and abruptly my walkway ended.

Walking east, I drank only when thirst demanded,and sparingly at that. For hours I walked and as the sky darkened I heard what sounded like pounding horse hooves.

It was a horse. On its back was a bearded man dressed in a combination of animal fur and cloth. Incredible. On his back was a cloak of living grass. I could see roots hanging down. His beard was wild as was his hair. The look on his face was somehow friendly but impassive at the same time. Now I could hear the beat of helicopter rotors in the distance.

He was riding bareback. Leaping from the horse, he swung the cloak over his back and disappeared beneath it. The horse moved several feet away and munched on dandelion greens. I gawked at the man’s peering face and he made a gesture to convey I should do as he’d done. I got out my knife and hacked out a pocket and slid into its tightness. The man nodded and grinned.

Overhead the copter droned like a big, fat bee. It moved slowly and I put my head down and prayed. Not knowing if it was an enemy, my own people or my own people become my enemy, I shook with dread. Not until we could no longer hear it did we emerge.

I finished cutting out my own cloak. It had a few small nodding flowers and a grasshopper on it. The man swung onto the back of his horse and gave me a salute. I hurried after him and he slowed to allow me to follow.

There was no thought in me of where he might lead. I didn’t care. I knew who I was going with. As the sky grew dark I followed him into the harsh, new land that had been America.

What Do You Think This Means?

Dan Fogelberg’s song The Innocent Age is one of my all-time favorites. That’s also the name of the album. On the cover is a doll propped against a gravestone, symbolizing this bittersweet journey from childhood to old age.

In my opinion, it’s musical poetry at its very best. The line that continues to haunt me since I heard it is “Yearnings unanswered reckon the wage we pay to recapture the innocent age.”

How do you interpret this? How costly is it to exhume the child we once were?

If I’ve done this right you can leave your comment below in the Leave A Reply box. Seriously, I want your interpretation of this line.

  1. Hey, K, how do I bookmark the pages on Order and Entropy? Lol. I’ve been going back to the start…

  2. And I do know where Puget Sound is. We never got to the far west coast, just to the desert.

  3. “…to the writing of books there is no end.” The Preacher was a wise man and very far seeing, wasn’t…

  4. Thank you, K. I’ve been clean now since May and I feel really good about it. Thank God I’ve seen…

  5. For all the ways I have been unfortunate in my life, I have oft the need to admit how I…

  1. Hey, K, how do I bookmark the pages on Order and Entropy? Lol. I’ve been going back to the start…

  2. And I do know where Puget Sound is. We never got to the far west coast, just to the desert.

  3. “…to the writing of books there is no end.” The Preacher was a wise man and very far seeing, wasn’t…

  4. Thank you, K. I’ve been clean now since May and I feel really good about it. Thank God I’ve seen…

  5. For all the ways I have been unfortunate in my life, I have oft the need to admit how I…

  1. Hey, K, how do I bookmark the pages on Order and Entropy? Lol. I’ve been going back to the start…

  2. And I do know where Puget Sound is. We never got to the far west coast, just to the desert.

  3. “…to the writing of books there is no end.” The Preacher was a wise man and very far seeing, wasn’t…

  4. Thank you, K. I’ve been clean now since May and I feel really good about it. Thank God I’ve seen…

  5. For all the ways I have been unfortunate in my life, I have oft the need to admit how I…

  1. Hey, K, how do I bookmark the pages on Order and Entropy? Lol. I’ve been going back to the start…

  2. And I do know where Puget Sound is. We never got to the far west coast, just to the desert.

  3. “…to the writing of books there is no end.” The Preacher was a wise man and very far seeing, wasn’t…

  4. Thank you, K. I’ve been clean now since May and I feel really good about it. Thank God I’ve seen…

  5. For all the ways I have been unfortunate in my life, I have oft the need to admit how I…

  1. Hey, K, how do I bookmark the pages on Order and Entropy? Lol. I’ve been going back to the start…

  2. And I do know where Puget Sound is. We never got to the far west coast, just to the desert.

  3. “…to the writing of books there is no end.” The Preacher was a wise man and very far seeing, wasn’t…

  4. Thank you, K. I’ve been clean now since May and I feel really good about it. Thank God I’ve seen…

  5. For all the ways I have been unfortunate in my life, I have oft the need to admit how I…

  1. Hey, K, how do I bookmark the pages on Order and Entropy? Lol. I’ve been going back to the start…

  2. And I do know where Puget Sound is. We never got to the far west coast, just to the desert.

  3. “…to the writing of books there is no end.” The Preacher was a wise man and very far seeing, wasn’t…

  4. Thank you, K. I’ve been clean now since May and I feel really good about it. Thank God I’ve seen…

  5. For all the ways I have been unfortunate in my life, I have oft the need to admit how I…

  1. Hey, K, how do I bookmark the pages on Order and Entropy? Lol. I’ve been going back to the start…

  2. And I do know where Puget Sound is. We never got to the far west coast, just to the desert.

  3. “…to the writing of books there is no end.” The Preacher was a wise man and very far seeing, wasn’t…

  4. Thank you, K. I’ve been clean now since May and I feel really good about it. Thank God I’ve seen…

  5. For all the ways I have been unfortunate in my life, I have oft the need to admit how I…


Lila woke up and wondered where she was. This wasn’t home but it kind of was but certainly not the home she lived in most of the time. Her bed had been…no, not an Ace. Not a king. Oh, well.

Whatever kind it was, this wasn’t supposed to happen. She’d have to tell Arthur to call someone. The roof was leaking. Had it rained last night? Must have and now her gown was wet. “Arthur?” she called out. He didn’t answer. Where was that man? She padded into the hall and then the den. Her daughter, Jean, rose from the breakfast table, just visible past the half wall. Having coffee with her was…was…

She couldn’t remember. The man Jean had married. What’s his name. “Mother?” Jean asked.

“Where’s your father? The roof is leaking. It got me and my bed all wet.”

Jean came to her and put an arm around her shoulders, turning her back the way she’d come. “You’ve wet the bed again, that’s all.”

“I did not!”

“It’s ok, Mother. Let me help you get cleaned up and dressed.”

Lila went into the bath next to the room she’d come out of. Jean turned the water on to warm it and fetched a washrag and that stuff that smelled so good. It was kind of vanilla-y. “You don’t have to baby me,” she groused. “I can do it.”

“Okay. I’ll strip the bed and start the washer. Take off your gown and put it outside the door. I’ll throw that in, too. And your underwear.”

Jean gathered up the wash and went to the laundry room, smiling at Joe as she passed the table. “Maybe it’s time for the adult pull ups,” he suggested.

“I guess so,” Jean sighed, a little piece of her heart breaking off. She knocked on the bathroom door. “Mom? Have you washed up?”


From behind the door came a scared voice. “Come in here, Jeannie.”

She entered the bathroom and stood behind her mother, looking at their reflections. Mother smelled a little fresher but it was definitely shower day. Pointing at the mirror, Lila asked, “Is that me or someone else?”

“It’s you, Mother. It’s just time for a dye job and a perm.”

“I’ll say.”

Jean held out the robe. “Put this on and come pick out what you want to wear.”

Lila moved the hangers around, looking for…”Here it is! I just love this dress!”

Jean crossed her arms. “It’s too cold for that. How about that pretty peach sweater and the white slacks?”

“Oh, I guess so,” she grumbled. “It doesn’t feel that cold to me.”

“That’s because we’re inside where it’s warm. This afternoon we can go for a walk if you want.”


She followed Jean to the table. Carefully, she examined the flatware for spots and made an appreciative noise when a cup of coffee was put in front of her. The husband stood up and kissed Jean, folding the paper and putting it under his arm. He bent and planted a kiss on top of Lila’s head. “Behave yourself,” he told her.

Lila smiled. “Have a good day, Gerald.” She caught the look that passed between them. “What?”

Gerald shook his head and walked to the door. Jean sat and looked at her with thin lips. “His name is Joe. Gerald was the boy I dated in high school.”


“How about some eggs and toast?”

“That’ll be fine.” She’d really wanted pancakes but decided to not make a fuss. Maybe she’d make pancakes for everyone for supper tonight. “Where’s your father?”

Jean’s mouth made an O as she brought the plate to her. “Don’t you remember? Daddy’s gone.”

“Yes, but where?” Lila frowned and picked up the pepper shaker. “I suppose he’s off with that little tramp of his.”

Jean patted her hand. “No, Mother. I mean Daddy passed on. He’s been dead for six years now.”

“He has not!” Lila exclaimed indignantly.

Jean clamped her lips shut. Perhaps it helped her to cope, thinking he was catting around instead of in the ground. “Do you know what today is?”

Lila bit off a corner of her toast. “Veterans Day?”

“No. It’s Leta’s birthday.”

Smiling warmly, she chuckled. “My sweet little Leta. She’s ten this year, isn’t she?” Jean looked so crestfallen Lila got embarrassed. Maybe she was eleven. Or was it nine?

“Sweetie, Leta’s a sophmore in college.”

“Is she?” Lila forked up some eggs to cover her blunder. “How time flies.”

“Do you know what day of the week it is?”

“It’s not Sunday or Gerald—I mean Joe, wouldn’t be leaving for work. Is it Friday?”

“No. It’s Wednesday. Can you look at the clock and tell me what time it is?”


Lila dropped the fork on the plate and threw her napkin across the table. “What is it with all these questions? Why do you want me to tell you what time it is? You have a perfectly good watch on your wrist.”

Jean leaned over and retrieved the napkin. She wouldn’t look Lila in the face. Small wonder. She was acting funny. “I’m just checking something.”


“Never mind. I’m sorry if I upset you.” She got up and cleared the plates while Lila finished her food. Once the dishes were in the dishwasher and the skillet had been washed she looked to see if her mother was done. To her dismay Lila was pouring coffee over her toast. “Mother, what are you doing?”

Lila looked down at the plate then into her coffee cup. “I could’ve sworn this was syrup. Guess it’s because I woke up with a taste for pancakes.” Her bottom lip quivered and she looked up at Jean like a confused child. “I made a mess, didn’t I?”

She barely heard Jean’s soothing and recoiled just a little when she hugged her. It had seemed all right at the time but now that she’d done it Lila was surprised. And scared. She’d never had coffee on toast before. Why had she thought she’d like it this morning? “I’m full, Jeannie.”

Jean opened the sliding glass door to the patio and handed her the leftover piece of toast. Lila remembered what to do with it. Crumbles for the birds. She scattered the little balls she made of the bread then took an out of the way seat to watch. “Hey, Mr. Bluebird,” she sang softly. And to the robin red-breast, “When the red, red robin comes nob, nob, nobbing along.” She couldn’t remember what the smaller birds were called but a gospel song went with them.

She poked around the rose bushes and made spluttering noises over what a shame it was that someone hadn’t watered them. Not a bloom one! She uncoiled the water hose and proceeded to give them a good drink. Just as she was getting something done Jean came out and made her jump when she cried out. “Mother! You’ve gotten your feet wet. Come in and change your shoes or you’ll catch cold.”

Lila dropped the hose, couldn’t remember what to do with it now. Jean stalked past her and now it came back to her. You had to turn the water off. Chastised, she followed her daughter inside after pulling the muddy shoes and socks off. She’d done it again.

But she hadn’t meant to do anything bad. “Don’t be mad at me, Jeannie.”

That got her a nice hug and smile. “What were you doing with the water hose?”

Lila blinked back her tears. “The roses are dying. No one’s watered them.”

Now it looked like Jean might cry, too. “It’s winter, Mother. They’re supposed to look like that.”

“Are they?” Lila ruminated on it for a minute. “Are the lilies dead, too?”

“They’ll all be back in the springtime.”

“Oh, that’s good.” She took the socks from Jean and pulled them on. “Just like that?”

“Just like that. We won’t have to do anything. It’s like magic.”

“Awww.” She put on her lace up booties and bent to tie them but must not have done it right because Jean shooed her hands away and did it slowly, explaining each step. At one time she knew how to tie them, hadn’t she?

Jean turned on the t.v. to a cooking channel and after a minute Lila got tired of it and went to the cabinets beneath the bookshelves. It was like finding old friends, all that junk in there. She pulled out a red handbag and found her missing bobby pins and


a wadded up handkercheif. Way in the back was a pair of dress shoes with those skinny heels. Lila hadn’t seen them in ages.

Sitting on the couch, she removed her booties and slipped the heels on. When she stood and walked around to get the feel of them she began to teeter. Her legs wobbled and her ankles bowed then she fell right on her rump. It scared her more than it hurt. When Jean came running in that scared Lila more. “What on earth! Are you all right?” She knelt down and took the shoes off her and wiggled her feet. “Does that hurt? Did you twist your ankle?”

“No. I’m not hurt. I landed on my pillow.”

Jean laughed with relief. “Sweetie, we talked about not trying to wear heels, don’t you remember? No? Never mind. Let’s get you off the floor.”

Lila did as she was told and put her arms around Jean’s neck. Jean grabbed her by the waistband of her pants and lifted her, setting her into the rocker. It made her mad at herself. She didn’t know she was doing something stupid until it fell apart. And if she couldn’t quit doing crazy things Jean might put her in a home. “I’m so much trouble, Jeannie. Maybe it’s time I went home so you don’t have to be bothered.”

“That’s not a good idea, Mother. If you’d fallen at home who’d have gotten you up?”

“Your father, of course.”

Jean clamped her lips shut and put the booties back on her feet. “Do you remember catching the stove on fire?”

“I did that?”

“Yep. You, Joe and me sat down and discussed why you shouldn’t live alone.”

“But I’m so much trouble,” she pointed out.

Jean took her face in her hands and looked deep in Lila’s eyes. “No, you’re not. I want you here and so does Joe. It’s my turn to take care of you, okay? Just as you took care of me when I was little.”

“But mothers are supposed to take care of their kids.”

“Yes. And it’s perfectly fine for daughters to take care of their mothers when they can’t do it anymore.”

Lila’s heart melted. She had raised a wonderful girl. “I love you so much, Jeannie.”

“I love you, too, Mother.”


“And forever.”

Lila felt agitation rising and she clutched Jean’s arms. “Please don’t put me in a home. I’ll stop wearing high shoes. Tell me what not to do and I won’t do it.”

Jean swallowed the lump in her throat and sniffed. “I’m not going to put you in a home. Cross my heart and hope to die.” She stood up and took her mother’s hand. “How about we get out for a while?”

“Can we go to the flea market? Maybe get ice cream?”

“Why not?”

After the first five minutes of browsing through the stalls Jean knew she’d have to keep an eye on Lila. So many things about her behavior had reverted to the age of five. More than once she had to tell her mother not to put things in her pocket without paying first.

Lila was having the time of her life. It was good to get out of the house once in a while and if you could see old friends at the same time, all the better. Judging from


the way many of her acquaintances didn’t seem to remember her, a trip to the salon needed to happen this week. She argued with the vendors and talked them down a little on the price and was, on the whole, pleased with her purchases. And Jean didn’t need to know about the little ceramic dog in her pocket. She’d worried her daughter enough for one day.

After ice cream they headed over to a neighborhood she thought looked familiar. When Jean pointed out the church she and Arthur had attended all through Jean’s childhood she was excited. “Oh, I want to go this Sunday! Do you think they’d let me play the organ again?”

“They might.” Jean went into the cemetery and they got out. She led the way to her father’s grave. “Look, Mother. Who’s name is that on the headstone?”

“Arthur McLellan.” Her head popped up, eyes wide with surprise. “What do you know? Just like your daddy.”

Jean hid her smile. “No, this is Daddy’s grave. And on the other side of the stone is your name and birth date. When you’re laid to rest beside him we’ll add the date of your death.”

“Are you sure it’s not some other Arthur?”

“Yes. Positive. There couldn’t possibly be two Arthur McLellans with the same date of birth with a wife that has your name and birth date.”

“I suppose not.”

“So do you see now that daddy’s not running around on you with another woman? He didn’t leave you, he died.”

Lila burst into tears. “Why did you show me this? It was easier thinking he was out there being naughty but would come home when he got tired of it. Now he’s dead and he won’t ever come back.”

Jean hugged her mother and let her cry. “I’m so sorry. It worried me that you couldn’t remember he was gone. That’s something I didn’t think you could ever forget. And I didn’t want Daddy’s good name besmirched, even by you.”

Lila took the tissue Jean offered and blew her nose. “I guess it’s better that he’s dead than fooling around on me. Thinking that just about killed me.”

They drove home and had lunch. Jean got out the calender her mother marked on and gave her a pen and her address book. Lila stared at the squares and tried to recall what they meant. This was her handwriting but what had she written? Jean glanced over her shoulder now and then. It cut to the bone to see it so clearly how much her mother’s dementia had progressed in just a year. The notations for birthdays and hair appointments and small daily plans had become a string of letters and numbers or untidy scrawls.

“What did you say today is?”

Jean answered, “Wednesday. December the second.”

“All right. Next Tuesday is when the girls come over to play cards.”

“Yes. Tuesday is rummy day.”

Lila wrote it down. “I think I’ll serve…those things. You know, those things. The serving dish looks like a parfait glass and you put shrimp in them and that red stuff.” She stopped and stared at the wall for a moment. “I forget what else.”

“You mean shrimp cocktail.”

“Well, it’s not something you drink, you know.”

“I know. That’s just what they call it. The only thing you forgot is the lemon slice.”

“Do we have those kind of bowl glasses?”

“If we don’t I think we can make do. The girls won’t care.” She set a tuna salad sandwich and a glass of tea in front of her mother. Getting her own sandwich she sat across from Lila and watched somberly as she planned a card game that wasn’t going to happen. One of the foursome was in worse shape than Lila. Two had died and the other was in an assisted living facility.

Well, now, hold on a minute, Jean thought. Why not have a rummy game on Tuesday night? She and Joe and Mother. It would be good for her and she could serve shrimp cocktail. The game would in no way resemble gin rummy but what did that matter? The important thing was to let her do what she could for as long as she could. Keeping the brain active is a must the doctor had said.

Lila flipped through the address and phone book and wrote down her friends’ numbers because she couldn’t keep them straight anymore. What fun, what fun! Lots of gossip and reminiscing.

Jean said a prayer of thanks for each day her mother held on to the woman she was and brushed back tears for the woman she had been and would be no more. It hadn’t been easy moving her into their home and giving up the job she loved to care for Lila full time. Would she regret it later? No. The only regrets she could imagine were those if she didn’t take this fragile, broken time and cherish every sweet, exasperating moment.

She pushed her sandwich plate away and leaned over toward her mother. “Hey, Lila Belle.”

The face that still held traces of the young bride she’d once been lifted when she heard her name. Soft blue eyes looked at her with the web of smile lines around them. Lila knew those wrinkled cheeks were as soft as a little girl’s. Her sweet mama. She hoped this second childhood was as happy as the first. “I love you,” she said, reaching for Lila’s hand.

A beautiful smile lit up the young-old face. “I love you, too, baby.” Lila squeezed her hand then let it go and picked her pen back up. “When you’re not being a bitch.”

Jean burst out laughing and it wouldn’t stop until tears were rolling down her cheeks and her belly hurt.


                           How Can I Help?

That’s a viable question since I’m unpublished. I can tell you what to avoid, what didn’t work and where you might want to go.

If you’ve created a page you blog on regularly, had a poem or article accepted on Facebook or have a website, you’ve been published! You’re not a New York Times bestseller, yet, but you’re on your way. When I submit a bio now, I mention that I’m from Texas, give my web address and say I’ve been published on Facebook and Pinterest. It’s not much but it’s better than no creds at all.

This is where you start, though! Launching your boat in social media is a way to show editors, agents and publishers you know what it takes to get readers and you’re prepared to work for your book.

Unless you’re a trust fund baby you probably don’t have much cash to get that boat. It’s okay. Pinterest is free. Subscribe and they’ll ask you what your interests are. What you choose creates your “boards.” Hundreds of contributions will be shown and each has a stickpin on it. Click the pin and it’s saved to your board. What you’re reading now is the first article I’ve created for Pinterest. If I do it right you can pin it. If not my “say something about this pin” description will lead nowhere and I’ll have to save face by removing it.

This isn’t easy. At least for me. I’m 60 and new things aren’t as quickly grasped. Sometimes what I thought would work, didn’t. I did quite well on Facebook. The Disenchanted Poet’s Society accepted my membership and those dear people have said nice things about my postings. My page about elder care for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia, Their Own Little World, is read by others but I have had only one person contribute. Thank you, Joyce Prejza.

See? By bringing up the names of the sites that I’ve written for, I’ve pointed to my writing. is the link to my website. You must be seen. That’s what it’s all about, how to do the hokey pokey.

Proper English is usually required. Save the incomplete sentences for your second book. Bad punctuation and spelling will get you tossed in the trash. I like WPS Writer as my word processor. Libre Office is also a good one. Both are free and both will point to grammar mistakes. I downloaded Grammarly and when I ran it they corrected things like “comma needed here” or “remove blank space” but I noticed many more hadn’t been. Ah, you need the premium version to correct those. Ginger is another program that will pull the black rabbit out of the hat. Just because you ask to download a free program doesn’t mean it is. It might be partially free or just free to download with an investment required to make it work.

I’m attending a free creative writing class at Purdue University online. Also a smart idea is getting your hands on English textbooks and refreshing your communication skills.

Don’t forget hashtags. Read more about them here:

Finally, when you do submit something be sure you’ve done your research on how to get accepted. Pinterest has loads of advice from those who know. What makes an interesting cover letter, query and bio are covered. I got a ‘regrets email’ telling me to pay attention next time because I used a font other than Times New Roman or Courier New. Always use 12 point. Don’t double space between sentences. That was hard for me to do because that’s now how I was taught in high school typing class.

Be sure to read back copies of the journal or magazine you’re submitting to. They’re usually available online at their website. If you don’t you’ll likely get an email, as I have, that they appreciated the chance to read my work but “it’s not a good fit for our publication at this time.” I was going to send some poems to a British nonprofit magazine of modern poetry before I checked a few of those they’d printed. I thought to myself, ‘What the heck are they talking about?’.  I’m sure they’d have sent them back with a big red C at the top, judging them trite and sappy. Modern poetry doesn’t hold pretty rhymes in high esteem.

Subscribe to Pinterest, get on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Don’t get so involved in marketing yourself you have no time to write. Download a good word processor and brush up on your grammar. I built my website at for $39 per year and that’s the only money I’ve invested so far. Naturally, you get what you pay for and I’ve found it less frustrating to type on my word processor, copy and paste the blog.

Last thing: don’t use profanity on your public pages. It’s unprofessional and could cost you the chance to hook

an agent or editor. Save it for your second book.

#dcaples, #uneasywriter, #writingadvice, #grammarcorrection, # dcaples7195     



I’ll never see Paris or Rome

Or have a mansion for my home

But the longer I live it matters less

I go nowhere requiring a designer dress

I can’t end poverty or give the masses what

they need

But I believe in the magnitude of small deeds

You don’t have to be rich or shine like a star

Take care of yourself, love who you are

You may not have legs, you may be old and sick

It’s never too late to make things tick

Don’t ask why God allows hunger or hatred on our streets

Child, you are God’s hands, you are His feet.

We don’t have to reach thousands to make our mark

Push until light cracks the dark

You are precious, worth more than you see

For this is the only one of you there will ever be

People create life but kill with words best left unsaid

That’s why we walk where angels fear to tread

There’s A Jerk Everywhere You Go

A good friend signed me up for Instagram. Almost immediately I had followers. Wow, me! Followers! Click on the little kite-looking icon at the top right and you can instant message other people on the site.

Now. A word of caution. Most of the folks on there are nice people. They’re just posting pictures and information. Having a good time, getting to know each other. If you’re into online dating then it could lead to the love of your life. I’m afraid I might link up with my first ex-husband, so, no thanks.

Beware of those who start complimenting you very quickly or telling you how lonely they are. If they sound foreign while passing themselves off as one of your countrymen, beware. Biggest tip-off of all…hitting you up for money. “Can you do me a little favor? I need an I-Tunes card, baby.” Actual quote from petersmith55556. I replied, “No, I’m not sending you anything. Scam someone else. Better yet, piss off.” He come back with, “Baby why you saying that? It’s ok am gonna ask someone else. I trusted you baby. You hurting my feelings. I never expected this from you.”

He doesn’t know me.

Another just won’t let it go. I have a man and, God knows, I don’t need another. This guy also asked for money until I made it clear he wasn’t getting a dime from me: ericrankin115. He’s supposedly in Syria and wants to get a plane out. When I wouldn’t jump at the chance to send him money for a ticket he now says he just wants love. Sure. And when I love him he’ll likely ask for money again.

Watch out, ya’ll. There’s a con man on every corner these days. And every internet site. They can take in people who consider themselves to be pretty savvy. Listen to your gut feeling. And look for someone closer to home.