The Questionnaire

Sinister – one of the main character answers  to the Vanity Fair edition of The Proust Questionnaire1.  

  1. Idea of perfect happiness – any time before my parents death, or the people I thought were my parents.
  2. greatest fear – now.
  3. trait most deplore in me – ignorance, insecurity, anger
  4. trait most deplore in others – secrets
  5. living person I most admire – my mother, or who I thought was my mother, well, the woman that raise me
  6. greatest extravagance – my life before
  7. current state of mind- grief, anger, curiostiy
  8. most overrated virture – kindness
  9. when I lie – only when I am forced to
  10. what dislike about appearance – that what I thought were family traits aren’t
  11. living person most despise – adoptive grandfather
  12. quality most like in a man –  honesty
  13. quality most like in a woman – honesty
  14. words or phrase most overused – not fair
  15. greatest love of life –  haven’t found it yet
  16. when where most happiest – a year ago
  17. talent most like to have  –  charisma
  18. change one thing what would it be – to not be adopted
  19. greatest achievement – getting Grafat’s blessing
  20. die come back as what – a cat
  21. where most want to live – in knowledge
  22. most treasured possession – Nonnie’s rosary
  23. lowest depth of misery – after Mom and Dad died and I found the letter
  24. favorite occupation – daughter
  25. most marked characteristic –  stubbornness
  26. most valued in friends – empathy
  27. favorite writers – Ann Rice, J. K. Rowling, R. A. Salvatore
  28. hero of fiction- Drizzt
  29. historical figure identify with – Eleanor Roosevelt
  30. heroes of in life – parents, biological and adoptive
  31. favorite names –
  32. most dislike- deception, lies
  33. greatest regret- that I didn’t thank my parents before they passed
  34. how to die – in a blaze of glory
  35. personal motto – I don’t know but I will find out

That was kind of fun. Trying to imagine the answers.


Epiphany Moment

A comment heard more than once.

I call bullshit.


Because ego and heart can become wrapped up in the opinion of others.  So, fear of judgement can silence an otherwise exceptional writer. Ego goes both ways, the ego that is doused in fear, and those whose ego is bigger than their britches.  Snoots who decide based on their own agendas what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’.

There have been plenty of beloved writers that, in my opinion, stunk.  Didn’t enjoy their work at all, that doesn’t mean they weren’t good writers.  I am beginning to think that all this judgement has way more to do with the ego of the person reading, than the ability of the writer.

My own unique style of writer’s block,  I like to call ‘WRITER’S PARANOIA’.  Judgement on my writing ability has a connection to a whole bunch of history and probably something to do with vomiting on my shoes at a public event as a child. So, this is a familiar obstacle in my own writing.

‘People have great story ideas, but can’t write them.’  In no way are there idea people and writer people.  That is a self serving idea, to make ourselves feel better about having a strength that is one or the other and lack of confidence in the other.


See, that right there? That is an opinion that I normally wouldn’t publicly admit to, out of writer’s paranoia.  Because that opinion can be judged.  Very likely even ‘proved’ wrong. (I still say it is hokey.)

Everyone can be a writer.  The accurate statement would be that not everyone wants to be a writer. Therefore the practice of writing isn’t their priority.  They have no desire to write, so they don’t.

There are people who think their writing is just fine.  Those may actually be so, or not, depending on the reader.  They have no desire to work on their writing. AND – they really don’t care what you or I think.

Then there is me.  There are some stories that start off so strong and before I can get too far into it, I lose my voice. Or I just start off writing flat, even and B-O-R-I-N-G!  And it frustrates the ba-jee-bus out of me.  I don’t know want to write like that.

People whose writing I find inspiring, they also intimidate the hell out of me.  It is the moment standing on a stage on a summer’s heat-sweltering evening in an unconditioned gymnasium with only the hot breeze from open doors blowing across the top of the massive room. The stage, wooden basketball court and locker rooms are one floor is below ground level where no breeze reaches.  About to step up on a shop class built ramp to take me in an itchy taffeta dress from the locker room to the stage and out on a cat walk in the middle of melting mothers and grandmothers stuck to warm metal folding chairs in rows covering the court. Sweat between my shoulder blades, nausea rising, and before that first shiny black Mary Jane steps on the plywood, soured bitter bile rises between my tongue and roof of my mouth.  The taste so nasty I can’t swallow it back down.  In tears I look down as that shiny toe hovers over the grain of wood, and a splatter of the liquid drops, followed by the entire contents of my stomach.  Yep.  it is that scarey.

So you tell me. Some people can’t write. I don’t buy it.  You can’t sell me.  There are reasons from fear, desire, and ego that stand between a writer and good work.  Everyone can write.

Editing and Final Copies

Here is what I learned from publishing the two children’s books.

  •  Copyrights are cheaper without a supplemental.  So make sure you are done with major additions!
    • I added the illustrations to the picture book after I filed for the story itself. Because I dragged my feet and didn’t submit the drawings in a timely manner, I had to add them as a supplemental.
    • $35-55 for an electronic filing, paper forms $85, Recording fees are $105 and the services and fees go up from there
    • where to file for
  • ISBN numbers if you buy them yourself or let another company or corporation own them
    • Very personal decision to make, but think it through.
    • Regardless of your decision –
      • remember that editing is key and costly
      • reprints are one thing change is a different edition, you can research the pros/cons and percentages but know that new editions generally call for another ISBN number
      • These cost anywhere from $29 – $129 depending on what and how you plan on selling
      • where to buy 
  • Marketing?
    • (maniacal laughter) No, seriously, I do not have this figured out. And to be honest I believe with all my being that this is a very personal issue. What works tends to work, until something brand new becomes the new thing. I think the odds are not in your favor if you go against the grain (from my experience, as I have gone by my gut and moved far slower than I should have in some parts and too fast in others)

Let me bottomline it for you— the cost of editing is worth it — if you use someone reputable and that works within the genre you are writing and even experienced in the reader age you are targeting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sure there are errors and mistakes in both my children books, but the costs involved aren’t ones that at this point I will see the benefit of incurring again.

But, I have no regrets. I did it. However good or bad they were received. I did it. My mistakes and failures are being put to good use with this next story.

So take what knowledge you can glean from my words and works and best wishes!


Character Development

I have taken a step back from my rough draft, and the completed first edit of my WIP. There is a blandness in spots that makes it boring. Maybe my secondary characters are too “cookie cutter.” I am working on some development of those supporting characters, give them depth.

Reading how writers of stories I love write gave me varied ways and means of doing it. One that stood out was fully develop all the characters as if the story was about them. Not sure I will go to that extreme, but maybe some key characters will get more time and detail that what makes it into the final draft.

Is it easier to cut what is there back than it is to fill in holes?

There are scenes that might not make that last cut but in my mind are missing. The whole scene might not make it, but details might make it into conversations that help fill those gaps. Of course what they are I won’t know until they are written used as reference.

In my mind, this detour in the process isn’t a waste of time. Adding more time to the rewrite stage, but that is what I have learned is what happens when you work to become a better storyteller. Rewrite, practice, trying different approaches, all valid useful tools in any one’s tool box, no matter what their project is.

How to get to know characters.

How do you do it?

Myself, I have used the Proust, though really the daughter of his friend initiated the questionnaire according to the Vanity Fair’s book by a similar name Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire. I found a copy at a second hand bookstore. This particular tome shares famous people like David Bowie, Julie Andrews, Carrie Fisher, and Little Richard to name a few.

There are a few other questionnaires – those one might use in an interview for a job. Pretty much any questionnaire that one could imagine asking of a real live person. I have also pulled some psychological personality spread sheets as well. You know the ones, whether a person is outgoing or reclusive, those kind.

Who are these characters? What is their background?

How do you write secondary characters?

Trippy Trip edit!

*Another Draft pile post that has finally been published.

Just Incase my mind goes blank or life gets in the way of my daily blogging in March, here a prewritten posted that I am saving to drafts.  (I typed that to start this, will it make it through any edits between now and the time you read this? We will both find out at some point in the future.)

So we went to watch The Eldest’s national televised debut of being on a show. once we knew the date of the airing, my mommy instincts kicked right in with thoughts about how and why we couldn’t make the taping of the finale. The Old Man was having surgery and I needed to be with him. The only thing standing between the watch party and us was time and distance.

I slept fitful the night between The Eldest’s message and coffee the next morning. Old Man and I discussed the importance of being there for our grown adult. Unfortunately O.M. didn’t feel that he could take time off but he felt as strong as I did that one of us should go was all I needed to book my tickets. My hinting that this should be both of us, didn’t really sink in for a couple hours after Old Man got to work. So a second set of travel plans were made.

Here is where the story really begins. We made it to our gate and everything was set on ready, but as our boarding time approached I noticed that bad sign of people suddenly on their phones and fellow passengers around us arising to form a line at the gate counter. Ah-Oh!

We found our first flight out of the gate was delayed nearly three hours. The next flight was fifteen minutes before, but it was fast filling up. Did I forget to mention that our second leg of the trip was to leave our first arrival at the same time we now would be starting off the days travel?

Oh, well, yes, there was no way we could get from where we were starting out to where we need to catch the second flight. We went from flying and layovers consisting of 12 hours to 20 including time zone changes during winter storm Matteo. No real surprise, it is to be expected during winter travel and why the travel was scheduled for the day before we needed to be there.

At one of our layovers, we were sitting down to have a beer during a long layover near us we hear shouting, after seeking the source and turning to Old Man, I notice everyone around us was looking in the same direction. The yelling came nearer and within minutes the source was right in front of me, followed closely by TSA. I can’t recall the exact words, but I can tell you that hearing them and their delivery inspired me to pray then and now. Not sure the reason why this person was distraught walking the terminal throwing hands up in the air, but obviously they were struggling to deal for whatever the reason.

My sympathies for the person and the security that was staying close. After circling our end of the terminal the person continued back the way they came with security staying close. How the incident ended was out of my eyesight and earshot.

We finally made it.

It was fantastic. We stayed close to our son and the venue of the show party. It was a blast. I can’t remember everyone we met by name, but they were all super nice. The show aired and we got to spend some time with the eldest before we flew back the next day.

So worth the trippy trip to be there to support you.

Proud of you, our Eldest, love you, Mom

Getting It Together – So To Speak

Yesterday was the pits. There were a lot of little annoyances that gathered together and just sat like a dark cloud over the day. Sounds awful, but not really. The day trudged along and so did I, until. (Deep sigh.)


The. Next. Item. On. My. List. Of. To-dos. Was. Shopping. My. Closet.


“Shopping my closet,” by my definition and many others is when you have to prepare for an event, travel, or whatever the reason for one or more outfits ahead of time. For me it was a weekend trip coming up. Very specific because of weather differences between where I am and were I was going, as well as the anticipated activities.

Checking first the weather and temperatures, consider the room available for transporting me and the clothing, and how the various shirts and pants look on me in the mirror. Then consider how those same would handle being smashed into a bag, looking for fabrics that could take smushing and not need an iron was important. Also a big factor in choice was not needing special undergarments – you know – comfort level. No girdle or particular containment device necessary outfits were chosen over those with a better traveling fabric.

I think I went through those outfits that met my criteria several times trying to get down to the fewest items to cover the time and activity. Having clung all morning to an optimistic approach started wavering the moment the closet shopping began. There were some well loved shirts that just were not making the first cut. Then the pant issue really burdened my efforts of trying to enjoy the process.

Relief came when I settled on traveling in comfort and packing the main pants (rolling a pair of jeans to create a firm roll for a beloved top that tends to hold creases helped a bit to be wrapped around, any crease will be vertical and not horizontal. (Thinking hanging in the bathroom during steamy showers might make them less noticeable.) What was in my mind only going to take a few minutes took me two hours. (My eyes are rolling again just writing that.)

My mood plummeted after that. There was only one thing to do. A soaking bath and a glass of wine. Thank goodness there was plenty of good leftovers from earlier in the week for supper. A bright moment from planning ahead on cooking extra pork chops and a scrumptious pork tenderloin cooked in the Italian Beef style, there was enough for individual choices. A fend for yourself night that wasn’t going to leave anyone with junk food as their first choice.


*This was written before my trip to LA to be at my son’s watch party. I found it stuck back in the draft file. Do you ever think to clean out yours?

Reality Check

What is the purpose of this blog?

You wonder?

Yeah, me, too.

I had this grandiose idea that this blog would lead me down the road to a successful authorship of stuff. Yeah, you read that, stuff. Wait. That is wrong.

First I needed to get beyond grief. Blogging was a way to move past grief, anger, and disappointment and into being a writer of stories. Then it became about writing stories.

Brainstorming, sure a definite place to do some of that – in fact, that is how the story I am working on and want to publish this year got started.

Motivation? As in, showing up to write? – like this is a job. – DEFINITELY. I show up, in writing, you show up to read.

It has stumbled and stalled as I have struggled to gain skills, or at least somethings that look like skills. This year, it is also being used to get my rear-end in the chair and write to finish that story so I can publish it in a more timely manner than I have the last book I wrote for children.

I hope that it looks more professional than what I have done up to now.

Also inspire someone who really has talent but not enough guts to follow their dream see what I am doing here and think— WOW! She’s an idiot, but at least she is doing something to make her dreams come true. What can I do?

Last but not least, I hope that some readers stumble upon these posts and check out the whole Sinister Project and decide that there is something there they enjoy or connect with and stick around to find out when the finished story is published.

I am also working on some other projects like

  •  learning how to use social media
  • learning how to be a videographer
  • becoming a better photographer
  • practicing sketching
  • watching tv and movies
  • reading books
  • trying new recipes

And napping, definitely napping.

Distracted Brackets

So, I am a little behind with today’s post.

I nearly missed most of the basketball season. Life got busy, and I chose living each day to the fullest. Sometimes that happens, catching the scores if you catch the news or reading friends feed on social media keeps you up on favorite teams. I read tweets and signed up for teams to send me messages on final scores. Of course, Kentucky sends me during game tweets and have for years. It helped when my children were in school and had games the same nights.

Let me be honest here, I was not the only parent keeping track. There were a few parents and grandparents that during timeouts and half time would ask me the score. Now, whether this was merely to amuse them selves with the “Transplanted I BLEED BLUE Kentucky Girl at heart” or as I prefer to call them, real fans, I don’t know.

What I can tell you is that, I am not ALL about writing.

This year’s brackets were tough not only because of my lack of viewing many of the teams in other games, but also because some of these teams are new to my bracket choice. How have they performed this year? Haven’t got a clue. How have they placed in years past in their respective divisions? Don’t know. How ardent are their sixth man? How far will they travel to see their team play?

Many questions unanswered for me and the required research time, I don’t have. So this is a guess bracket. If I had the time, I would look at the scores of every game each team played. I would look at who they played, where they played in comparison. I would look at their fans and the determination of their support. All, and don’t mistake me, ALL of that goes into how I normally chose my choices.

This year, It was strictly made from the sheet. I looked at records, where is the team from, where are they playing and comparing that straightforward information for each game.

So, best of luck to all.


Whatcha Doing?

Me? I am sitting here in a comfy spot, listening to some jazz, sipping a cup of tea and contemplating the rest of my Sunday. Doesn’t sound bad does it? (Ok, so if you don’t like jazz, substitute whatever type of music you find re-spiring* relaxing and inspiring at the same time.)

Sometime today, we will go for a walk and possibly make a loaf of bread. One of those productive physical therapy things that I do weekly for the arm of metal, knead bread dough.  I am toying with the idea of making a comic with an elderly couple. The hubs with various joints of titanium and the old hag of a wife with limbs of same.  I am not sure their purpose or how they would weld their super powers but it is something, as aging has become a serious influence in my life, to consider.

Last month’s brainstorming made me aware of holes and given me more character development to do. There is a nice twist that my dude and I have been discussing. *Why is it always a bad thing when family and friends like your stuff especially when yours isn’t bashful about voicing critical opinions? But then we all think that about our own families, don’t we?

One more week towards the warmer temperatures here, thought knowing in a few months sweat will be pooling and the air conditioning will be my favorite friend. Maybe we need to consider retiring in a temperate climate. But then I would miss a few days of winter snow and not appreciate how good the spring and fall scents and breezes.

Which reminds me that right now is a really good moment. I should stop thinking of anything else and just revel in it. So, I think this little writing session is done for the day and time to do just some existing. Have a good one-



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