Category Archives: Dear Universe

Mark My Words…

Here’s me, showing my panties to a moist cabbage.

Have you ever considered that there are some words you dislike, that irritate you, but you don’t know why?

I never did.

In fact, I found it amusing to know that some people can’t bear to hear the words “moist” or “panties”… even when they aren’t used in the same sentence as “grab ’em by the pussy”. But lately it’s occurred to me that there are some very useful words that I’ve come to hate.

And I know why.

Here are just a few of them:

bellicose, braggart, bully, liar, delusional, two-faced, greedy, slanderer

Think about it. Are there any words YOU hate, that you’d like to share?

You don’t have to say why.

 

Words with Enemies

words-with-friends-tileEverything I learned about life, I learned playing Scrabble with my Mom.

Not only was she determined and brilliant and patient and desperately kind, she was sometimes quite funny. If I was stumped, she’d say, “Just give it some time.” If my letters sucked, she’d shake the bag. “Drowning in vowels? Jump in here and swim for some consonants!” Sometimes she’d say, “Let’s see what you’ve got; let’s do it together. I’ll help you. Then you can help me.”

Every game with her and my three sisters was a lesson in friendly competition, in loving cooperation. I learned from her — and My little sister — that the only real way to lose was to give up in frustration, was kicking the table and sending the letters flying, was ruining it for everyone. But this was no “everyone gets a trophy just for participating” sort of game. There was always a winner, and it was never me, not for years. Still, I kept playing, and when I finally won all on my own, she couldn’t have been more proud. And then we played again. And I lost.

I told someone just the other day how we used to play: how, although there was always a winner, we thought the real competition was getting the highest overall score — that the Total of All Our Efforts mattered the most. That Someone thought I was crazy; she truly believed that the only point of a game — every game — was to crush the competition and emerge victorious and alone.

How sad for her, and for all who live like her. For all who think like her. For all who vote like her. For people who never knew my mom.

A couple of days ago, America held an election. Less than half of the country voted. Then, thanks to the unfair nature of the Electoral College, less than half of the voters — let’s call them People Who Never Knew My Mom — kicked our national card table from below and chose a new president. It was a low blow, a hard kick; it sent the pieces of our lives flying. Some of these People Who Never Knew My Mom had recently been kicked out of the game for deplorable behavior. (Racism, Misogyny, Homophobia, Religious intolerance…) Others were hard-working folks who quite rightly felt left behind for years, felt like the Rest of us always won and they didn’t have a chance, because the game was rigged against them and no one seemed to care. And they weren’t wrong, but they were conned into voting for the very worst of the riggers. (Just sayin’.) They wanted to “drain the swamp”; they wanted change, and they voted for it. They voted anti-establishment in the primary, and anti-establishment in the general election. Except, not so much. The facts are that they voted Godzilla in to drain the swamp, but left the same old GOP gators guarding the plug. Still others — mostly white, financially secure, educated voters, let’s call them GOP Gators Who Never Met My Mom — voted for their interests and their interests alone; they clearly saw what Trump would do for them: maintain uncontrolled gun rights, lower their personal and business taxes (if they were rich enough), install Christian right-wingers in the court, gut social programs that THEY don’t need, and try to bleach our multi-hued nation just that much whiter by keeping the immigrants out.

We don’t yet know where all our letters will land, but it isn’t looking good. These people, my countrymen and women, think they have emerged victorious. But everybody lost.

They’ve had their tantrum, and Folks, it was a doozy. The world was watching, aghast and in disbelief, and we’re embarrassed for them and for ourselves. And we’re scared. And some of us are having tantrums of our own. Both sides are capable of bad things — deplorable things — for the sake of their idea of good. But we’ll pick up the pieces and play again. And this time let’s Remember it isn’t just a game, the world is watching, and millions — billions — of real lives hang in the balance. No one really stands alone and victorious, unless they stand on a pile of ruins.

As for the worst of us, we won’t let them ruin it for everyone.

If they think Deplorable Behavior will be fun for long, they’ve got some new words to learn. We all need to learn them. “Empathy” would be a good start: seven letters, you can spell it on your own. “Tolerance” and “Cooperation” would be good, too. Both are words that take more than one turn to accomplish, that take building on another’s word.

Seven years ago today, my mother died. I wish I could have played Words With Friends with her on Facebook. Fact is, I’ve had a few Words With Enemies on facebook lately and while I’m up to the challenge, I’d rather play Words With FRIENDS. There are millions of folks like me, and we’ll keep playing until all Americans, especially those hard-working folks who’ve been left out, are winning.

Well, almost all. All you Deplorables — you racists, misogynists, homophobes and religious extremists? Let me spell it out for you, metaphorically of course:

Go stand in what was once your nice, safe corner of the world with your blinders and your Deplorable Dunce Caps on, and think about what you’ve done. Because it isn’t Safe anymore. Beyond this place, there be dragons…

It’s too bad you never knew my Mom. Metaphorically.

daenerys-targaryen-and-her-dragon-movie-hd-wallpaper-1920x1080-6058

A Letter to Neil Gaiman, reprise

It’s been nearly a year since my sister Gretchen died, and I still don’t know quite what to do with myself and this blog. It may go the way of the dodo. In the meantime, I’m writing and illustrating again, and the antrollogy will soon be republished with two new stories and a couple of fine new Easter Eggs. But now, in honor of a year’s passing since her passing, here is a reprise of my post about Gretchen, A Letter to Neil Gaiman:

Dear Neil,

The odds that you are reading this are slim. Very slim. I probably won’t finish writing it, but if I do, I almost surely won’t be brave enough to send it to you. If I am uncharacteristically brave, what then? I send it, and it never reaches you; it slips between the cracks of your magically real life and goes to Neverwhere — or wherever unread emails go to die.

So why am I writing it at all? I’m writing it for me, because I have to. But please be patient with me. It’s hard to type through the tears.

Gretchen at the 50th

Two days ago, my brave, compassionate, quietly kick-ass sister Gretchen died. One minute she was Alive… and then she was Dead. My beautiful inside-and-out sister was beautiful no longer.

Death is not beautiful.

I think — how can I know? — that she didn’t tell us there was no hope for her surviving the cancer because she didn’t believe in no-hope scenarios. Or maybe she didn’t tell us so she could spare us weeks of pretending we weren’t already writing her eulogy, while she was still sitting there. Maybe she agreed to start the chemo just to gain a few precious weeks to get her affairs in order.

No maybe about it that she didn’t get that chance.

Let me tell you a few things about Gretchen, Neil. She couldn’t stand pity, or being pitiable. (She also couldn’t stand spelling mistakes or grammar gaffes, so if her spirit exists anywhere, in any spacey-wacey way, it’s sitting on my shoulder, clucking its timey-wimey tongue.) Because she couldn’t stand pity, Gretchen kept secrets. Sad, sad secrets. She shared a few with me. I will not be sharing them with you.

But some things she couldn’t keep secret, like the time she leapt out of her car, wielding pepper spray, to confront a man stabbing a pregnant woman on a San Francisco sidewalk.

The man turned to her, dropped the knife… and pulled out a handgun.

“Thank you,” he said to Gretchen, “you saved me.” Then he blew his own brains out, all over her. But mother and child were saved.

Another time, again in her car: A man approached the vehicle stopped ahead of her, shot the driver multiple times and ran off, but not before Gretchen burned his face into her long-term memory. Sadly, the woman at the wheel passed away while Gretchen comforted her, drenched in blood, waiting for help to arrive. But her murderer is in prison now, thanks to Gretchen’s testimony.

Gretchen has been:

  • bitten by a rattlesnake (“It was just a baby,” she said!)
  • hit by cars (twice. No, wait, three times!)
  • “shocked” (toxic shock twice, and then there was that supermarket sample shrimp, eaten just to be polite…)
  • nearly done in by countless other, unbelievable things

In fact, over the years, so many things, circumstances, and people have failed to kill Gretchen that I’d started to think of her as an immortal among us. Like she was secretly Captain Jack Harkness, or the (finally!) female Doctor Who. Like we were just her Companions. She couldn’t really be my sister, this tall, brown-eyed beauty in a family of blue-eyed children, could she? Genetics said she could, since our mom had brown-hazel eyes, but I’ve always had my suspicions that she was not of this world.

Since timing is everything, or everything is time (or time doesn’t exist, at least not right now), the first thing I saw on TV after Gretchen died — when I could bear to turn it on — was my favorite episode of Doctor Who. It was my favorite for all sorts of reasons, long before I knew that you’d written it.

Though I didn’t know it, it was just what I needed to watch in this space and time.

Neil, you are starting to understand why I’m writing this letter to you. In case anyone else ever reads it, though, I should probably elaborate:

Gretchen, large in life — “and getting larger all the time”, as she would so wryly have put it — was like your version of the TARDIS brought to life: beautiful, mathematically inclined, and much, much bigger on the inside.

Thank you, thank you for that, Neil. I will now always think of Gretchen as a sort of immortal TARDIS, moving through time and space, saving people and taking them where they need to go more often than where they want to go. I will always think of the magically real time I spent with her as “the time that we talked”.

How right you were, Neil. “Alive” is the saddest word “…when it ends.”

–Lindy Moone

“Alive” (a letter to Neil Gaiman)

Dear Neil,

The odds that you are reading this are slim. Very slim. I probably won’t finish writing it, but if I do, I almost surely won’t be brave enough to send it to you. If I am uncharacteristically brave, what then? I send it, and it never reaches you; it slips between the cracks of your magically real life and goes to Neverwhere — or wherever unread emails go to die.

So why am I writing it at all? I’m writing it for me, because I have to. But please be patient with me. It’s hard to type through the tears.

Gretchen at the 50th

Two days ago, my brave, compassionate, quietly kick-ass sister Gretchen died. One minute she was Alive… and then she was Dead. My beautiful inside-and-out sister was beautiful no longer.

Death is not beautiful.

I think — how can I know? — that she didn’t tell us there was no hope for her surviving the cancer because she didn’t believe in no-hope scenarios. Or maybe she didn’t tell us so she could spare us weeks of pretending we weren’t already writing her eulogy, while she was still sitting there. Maybe she agreed to start the chemo just to gain a few precious weeks to get her affairs in order.

No maybe about it that she didn’t get that chance.

Let me tell you a few things about Gretchen, Neil. She couldn’t stand pity, or being pitiable. (She also couldn’t stand spelling mistakes or grammar gaffes, so if her spirit exists anywhere, in any spacey-wacey way, it’s sitting on my shoulder, clucking its timey-wimey tongue.) Because she couldn’t stand pity, Gretchen kept secrets. Sad, sad secrets. She shared a few with me. I will not be sharing them with you.

But some things she couldn’t keep secret, like the time she leapt out of her car, wielding pepper spray, to confront a man stabbing a pregnant woman on a San Francisco sidewalk.

The man turned to her, dropped the knife… and pulled out a handgun.

“Thank you,” he said to Gretchen, “you saved me.” Then he blew his own brains out, all over her. But mother and child were saved.

Another time, again in her car: A man approached the vehicle stopped ahead of her, shot the driver multiple times and ran off, but not before Gretchen burned his face into her long-term memory. Sadly, the woman at the wheel passed away while Gretchen comforted her, drenched in blood, waiting for help to arrive. But her murderer is in prison now, thanks to Gretchen’s testimony.

Gretchen has been:

  • bitten by a rattlesnake (“It was just a baby,” she said!)
  • hit by cars (twice. No, wait, three times!)
  • “shocked” (toxic shock twice, and then there was that supermarket sample shrimp, eaten just to be polite…)
  • nearly done in by countless other, unbelievable things

In fact, over the years, so many things, circumstances, and people have failed to kill Gretchen that I’d started to think of her as an immortal among us. Like she was secretly Captain Jack Harkness, or the (finally!) female Doctor Who. Like we were just her Companions. She couldn’t really be my sister, this tall, brown-eyed beauty in a family of blue-eyed children, could she? Genetics said she could, since our mom had brown-hazel eyes, but I’ve always had my suspicions that she was not of this world.

Since timing is everything, or everything is time (or time doesn’t exist, at least not right now), the first thing I saw on TV after Gretchen died — when I could bear to turn it on — was my favorite episode of Doctor Who. It was my favorite for all sorts of reasons, long before I knew that you’d written it.

Though I didn’t know it, it was just what I needed to watch in this space and time.

Neil, you are starting to understand why I’m writing this letter to you. In case anyone else ever reads it, though, I should probably elaborate:

Gretchen, large in life — “and getting larger all the time”, as she would so wryly have put it — was like your version of the TARDIS brought to life: beautiful, mathematically inclined, and much, much bigger on the inside.

Thank you, thank you for that, Neil. I will now always think of Gretchen as a sort of immortal TARDIS, moving through time and space, saving people and taking them where they need to go more often than where they want to go. I will always think of the magically real time I spent with her as “the time that we talked”.

How right you were, Neil. “Alive” is the saddest word “…when it ends.”

–Lindy Moone

 

When Pigs Fly…

Yesterday would have been my mother’s birthday. I thought and thought about how I wanted to commemorate it, but didn’t quite find the right thing. Then, today, I found this video:

These marvelous pigs, drawn by the amazing Sandra Boynton, look so much like the first thing my mom taught me to draw — little pigs made of circles and triangles, with wry little smiles and snuffly, naughty noses…

I’m glad that she read part of my first novel, that she saw that I was finally on my way to being a published author. That she said, “I’m proud of you.” That I said, “You are the best mom, ever.” And I’m sorry she’s missed the rest of my flight. But Mama’s little piggy took wing and she’s defying the laws of gravity every day.

Wish she could have seen my website. (I did it all myself, Mom.)

Gotta go blow my snuffly nose, now…

“STATE YOUR OCCUPATION!”

Just signed the tax forms. Where it said “occupation,” I put “writer,” but only because THIS wouldn’t fit:

“I take those stupid fb tests, you know, the ones where you’re supposed to find out which ’80s action hero you are (John McClane), or which Harry Potter character you are (Hermione, duh!), or which famous writer is your soulmate, even though she’s dead and you’re not a lesbian (Virginia Woolf) or which kick-ass character you are from a TV series (RIVER SONG, alias Melody Pond.  I get to marry The Doctor, who, by the way, has also kissed me mum).”

You know what else wouldn’t fit under “Occupation”? This:

“I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on my sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning.” (Phillip Roth)

Or this: “I do the hokey pokey and I turn the words around…”
Or this. “Yes, I AM a writer! I didn’t say it pays…”
Or this: “Stop laughing, IRS guy! I said, Stop laughing!”

You know what would fit, though? “Hello, Sweetie!”

 

The Masses need Glasses

Dear Universe,

This post was meant to be about author J.A. Konrath.

Well, not about J.A. Konrath, himself, more about this blog post of his, called “Zen and the Art of Bitching“, which reminded me of this part in Hyperlink from Hell where God starts bitching about all the lazy, ungrateful humans who sit on their asses and blame Him for their troubles. That is: they want Him to do everything; they won’t take responsibility for their lives. You know, like people who won’t wear seatbelts and blame Him for not deploying the airbag, as they sail through the windshield and into Intensive Care. If they’re lucky.

So, naturally, I ended up on YouTube watching this apologetic book trailer for Blinders Keepers, a book I’d never heard of by an author I’d never heard of, either. (I may be the last in the universe. I usually am. Damn You, Universe!)

I checked out the book’s blurb, on Amazon:

Collapse, chaos, confusion, rioting, looting. And that’s the good news!

America is coming apart and the President can do nothing to stop it. But 23-year-old Noah Tass has his own problems. Stuck his entire life in the hayseed capital of the Bible Belt after his father abandoned him 18 years ago, he has no future, all his friends are losers, his job is a dead end, his mother is stark raving mad, and his sister is a meth head stripper.

It was time to bail! Time to strike out a new path, to discover America, and kick start his life. Noah leaves Missouri and for a year truly experiences the adventure of a lifetime. But the country is one big loony bin and he ends up in the sock puppet theater of contemporary American life, inhabited by a deranged blundering president, brutal agents of the ATF, FBI and NSA — men who kill first and ask questions later — and an underground of wild and wacky but endearing freaks who are trying to overthrow the existing order.

Blinders Keepers is social-political satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift, Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller, but revved up and spit-shined to take on the historic new levels of absurdity and dysfunction of the 21st Century. It is one young man’s laugh-out-loud struggle to survive the epic disintegration of the American Dream.

Next,  I downloaded the sample to My Precious (Kindle), because I can’t afford to buy any new books until, like, 2045, and I started reading it. And that’s when I realized the title (Blinders Keepers) had special meaning to me. Because when I read this sentence:

“As I stand before this great body and look at the faces of those who have dedicated themselves…”

I saw this, instead:

“As I stand before this great body and look at the feces of those who have defecated themselves…”

So this post is about needing glasses.

Now… who can I blame for that?

Doctor Pooh

Dear Universe:

Someone wrote a post, somewhere,

Where it was, I do not care.

I wasn’t in my underwear,

(Because I do not wear it)

The post was asking everyone

The favorite line they’d writ, bar none,

But I was lazy; I said “Screw it.” 

(“I’d much rather talk ’bout Pooh lit.)

There. Now that it’s perfectly obvious that a poet I shall never be… How about that Winnie the Pooh? Huh? Am I right? After all these years, I’m still lovin’ the Pooh, which rhymes with Who, which reminds me that Doctor Who just turned 50 (the special’s tonight!) — but like The Doctor himself, that’s neither here nor there.

So, here’s the thing I‘m gonna ask in a post somewhere:

“What’s your comfort book?”

Makes sense, right? Books for every occasion…

Feeling happy? (Any book for you)

Feeling grievous? (Harry Potter, read two)

Feeling angry? (Catch-22)

Feeling anxious? (Only Pooh will do)

Need convincing? Read this, from The House at Pooh Corner, wherein Piglet asks:

“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.

Anyone out there unfamiliar with the real Pooh? If your experience is limited to Disney, or indeed any cartoon version, I pity you. (Take one Pooh, and call me in the morning.)

I, myself, have two tattered volumes from my childhood: The House at Pooh Corner and When We Were Very Young. I borrowed them from my folks’ house and never took them back. Like Pooh with a honey pot, I was greedy and couldn’t bear to share. Not sure why I didn’t grab the lot. Maybe I couldn’t find the others. Maybe my greed would only take me so far down the path of petty criminality. Maybe I just got stuck in the door on the way out.

Oh, bother! Why did I tell you that? (I’ll chalk it up to Pooh Confessions.)

Well, if we’re talking Pooh confessions:

If you’re feeling fretful, too,

Cuz you can’t go to the loo,

Do what I do, read some Pooh,

(Yup, just grin and bear it.)

Book Giveaway! Ta-da!

Come with me, on a journey through time and space…

In a hurry and don’t want to read today’s blathering? Scroll down for the giveaway info! But if you’ve got a minute…

Last week marked my childhood hero’s birthday. (Carl Sagan, groovy astro-science dude, would have been 79 years old November 9th.) This week will mark my birthday. (I’m not tellin’.)

platform shoes

I wouldn’t be caught dead in these shoes!

One of the things on my “Ta-da”* list for this year was: “Market my book. Market it long and hard.” That didn’t happen. Instead, I skipped right to “Give up marketing. It takes too long and it’s hard.”

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I put on my author “platform” shoes and got to work — started this blog, built my own groovy website, formatted Hyperlink for paperback and published it. I’ve met lots of funny, generous writers and readers through the blog and website, through Kindleboards and Newsbiscuit and countless other online hangouts. I’ve even started reviewing books for Amazon and Goodreads. My latest project is bringing an international group of writers together to write stories for charity, and I’m working on the cover.

Still, I’ve resisted self-promotion. Why? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Both, in equal measure, plus simple bewilderment at the enormity of the task of marketing. Because I may not have been doing any marketing, but I have been reading about it.

Naked. Sweating. Trembling in my platform shoes.

Marketing has always belonged in the horror genre, to me. So I’ve been hiding out with the monster under my bed. But it’s getting chilly under here. The dust bunnies are growing fangs. And I realize I’ve been seeing marketing all wrong — as an unnecessary evil, something dirty and disgusting that shouldn’t even be thought of in polite company, much less talked about or — shudder! — actually done. Sure, I read about it and crawl out from under the bed to wash my hands from time to time, but that won’t sell billions and billions of books — not for me, and not for charity.

Time to put on some clothes, to do away with the dust bunnies, to change the old attitude — which was: “Marketing is scammy, sucky and awful and I’m not the type who can do it (so I’m going to stamp my foot and moan about it!)”*

The new attitude? Marketing is necessary; it’s not evil. It’s not scammy unless I let it be. I’m trying to see it this way: “Marketing is sharing what you love with people who will appreciate hearing about it.”* That’s skin-crawlingly sweet, but so be it.

What pushed me over the edge, off the cliff, into the waiting maw of self-promotion? The charity book. It will be published before next Halloween, and I need to develop some marketing strategies well before then, if it’s to be a success.

So here’s the first step: getting more Amazon reviews for the book I’ve already published: Hyperlink from Hell: A Couch Potato’s Guide to the Afterlife. Here’s the blurb:

Murder haunts The Haven, celebrity James Canning’s home since he lost touch with Reality TV. What’s his “shrink” to do? Assign writing therapy, of course. But when the good doc reads Canning’s memoire, Hyperlink from Hell, he checks into his own padded suite and Canning disappears.
 To save the doc from madness, The Haven’s new director must analyze the hell out of Hyperlink from Hell. Is Canning’s tale of kidnapping, time travel and wardrobe malfunction fact or fiction, deceit or delusion? Can she solve the murders, save her boss and find Canning? Or will she need a padded suite of her own?

(Takes deep breath! Steps forward off cliff.)

Giveaway Info:

If you’ve already read Hyperlink from Hell and you aren’t my close friend or relative, please consider writing a short review for Amazon. 

Here’s the link. Just click where it says “Create your own review.” It’s pretty painless — even fun.

Haven’t read the book, yet? I’ll send a free paperback to the first three people who respond using the contact form, below. The next 20 people? I’ll send you a free PDF copy of the paperback, or a MOBI file for Kindle — your choice.

In return for the free book, I hope to get a few unbiased reviews on Amazon. One star, four stars, whatever it deserves, love it or loathe it! Just a few words can make all the difference… If you feel like it.

(If you do choose to write a review, remember to note that you received a promotional copy of the book.)

Whew! Thank you for listening to my appeal. Now, I do feel a bit dirty, and under the bed is looking mighty comfy…

But no. Not gonna go there.

*****************************************************

  1. A Ta-da list is a “To Do” list with delusions of grandeur.
  2. From “How to Market a Book” by Joanna Penn
  3.  Ditto, baby.

Oh, Myyyy… What a Night Mare!

I had a dream.

In my dream, George Takei reviewed my book for Amazon. The review got a gazillion hits, and Hyperlink from Hell was now a bestseller.

And I was famous.

Famous, famous, famous, famous, famous.

George and I were at some famous restaurant or another, his treat. Paparazzi and fans were kept at bay outside, behind red ropes with gold tassels. I hate red and gold together. Tassels are OK.

“But George,” I said (I called him George in the dream, because he and I were besties, now), “I didn’t want to be famous. I just wanted people to love my book, preferably after buying it.”

“Shut up and eat,” said George, tucking in a bib, then tucking into a giant slab of horse meat.

I really wasn’t hungry. The crowd outside swelled and swelled, until it burst through the ropes and started pressing up against the window glass, like the people on the overpopulated planet on that episode of Star Trek.

“Look!” George said, and when I looked, he was showing me a mouthful of meat. “Ha, ha, made you look!”

And the moral of this story is?

Don’t look gift horse meat in the mouth.

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