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Wednesday
Mar302016

To Err is Human

Typos. Gosh, how I hate them! Don't you? They plague us in emails, on social media, in text messages, in blog posts... and in novels. Inevitably, something you write that someone else can see and judge will fall victim to the rogue punctuation mark, homophone, transposed pair of letters, etc. What's the old adage? "I do my best proofreading after I hit 'send'"? Yep. That's about right.

Some people can shrug off their mistakes as a product of human nature and life. Others of us internalize every error as if each boo-boo serves to prove we're mud-sucking, incompetent hacks. (Or is that just me?) Maybe because I'm so self-critical, I've also been known to be critical of typos in others' writing. Heck, catch me on a bad day, and I'll go off on a poorly-edited social medial post. Let's face it: pointing out typos makes us feel superior. "Ah-ha! I saw something the professionals didn't! Ergo, that means I'm a better writer than this person." But does it really work that way? Of course not. And it definitely doesn't mean that person was too cheap, lazy, smug, and/or apathetic (or all of the above) to have someone else look at her book before she published it. You know, like some kind of no-talent INDIE.

What does it mean to be an Indie? To me, it's simply someone who publishes her books independently of an agent or publishing company. The book still goes through all of the quality assurance steps (which I'm not going to go into here, because BORING!) before launching to the public, but I am in control of that process (i.e., I have to make sure it gets done). To the elitist establishment, it means an unvetted writer pens a book (or article or whatever), sort of edits it, sort of proofreads it, sloppily formats it, slaps a homemade cover on it, and publishes it. Nobody else reads the work before it goes public (except, maybe, the author's mom). Nobody examines it to make sure it's "good enough." The Indie author doesn't consult anyone else about what she's written, because FREE SPEECH! Or whatever.

[Excuse me for a second while I go into the other room and scream into a pillow.]

Okay, I'm back. 

Time for a list of home truths, y'all!

  1. I've found errors in every one of my books after they've been published (embarrassing, but true).
  2. I've found errors in every single published book I've ever read. Ever. Regardless of author or publishing method.
  3. Just because something was independently published doesn't mean it wasn't painstakingly edited and proofread.
  4. People edit and proofread books, and people are fallible.

I read an award-winning book recently that I absolutely adored and will be gushing about until my dying day, probably (I'm sorry if you know me personally). It was published by a mid-sized publisher. It contained typos and grammatical errors. Not a lot, but a few. A couple of weeks before that, I read a book by no less than one of the godmothers of chick lit, published by a HUGE house. It had typos and grammatical errors in it. Again, not a lot, but a few. In neither case did I look at the copyright page of the books, tut and say, "That's a [insert name of publishing company here] author for ya!" Nor did I count the boo-boos, because I have a life, and I was too busy enjoying the stories to be a pedantic poophead about it. But they were there. They jumped right out at me, too, because it was my first time reading the books. I hadn't pored over them seventy bazillion times, like the authors surely had. I wasn't on a deadline to get it to publication, like the editors surely were. And if I were to write a formal review of either of those books, I wouldn't even mention the mistakes in the review. Why? Because they didn't matter (although the use of "I" in what should have been the phrase "...between you and me..." did kill a little part of the ridiculous grammar troll inside of me). It was still an excellent book by a talented writer with a voice and a story that deserve to be heard. Period. End of. I only mention them here to prove a point: that no one is perfect, regardless of how he or she publishes her books.

I'm sick of the Indie[endently Published Author] vs. Trad[itionally Published Author] Debate. Almost as sick as I am of American politics at the moment. Yes, I'm that sick of it. But here we are again, talking about it. Not because readers care how a book gets to them (they don't; when was the last time a reader said, "I only read books from Random House"?), but because some consumers of books (readers and writers and publishers alike) immediately assume the worst of an author or book when they find a mistake in an Indie offering. This never-ending, inane argument of Indie vs. Trad fosters the idea that not only are certain types of authors (Indies) the only ones guilty of publishing books that contain errors, but those errors are the hallmark of independently-published books, because big (and small and medium-sized) publishers release only error-free books. Not only is that misconception ludicrous, but it's easily disproved.

You want to call an author a hack because the story's cliché or the characters are flat or the plot is predictable? Fine. But don't presume that any and all failings in a piece can be chalked up to that person being an Indie. Don't insult an entire group of talented writers because their books contain what every single book out there contains... a few rogue errors. Don't judge one book based on another book you read by someone who independently published something and didn't perform his or her due diligence. How a book arrived in front of its audience shouldn't matter at all! Why cut Author McBigshot, with her team of editors, more slack than little old Indie? Conversely, why cut the Indie more slack, with her shoestring budget, than Author McBigshot? How about we all remember #4 in the list above and cut everyone the same amount of slack?

Do the errors distract from the story? If so, bitch away. You're a paying customer; you have a right to quality. But are you just pointing out things as a way of saying, "You don't belong here, and your voice doesn't deserve to be heard, because someone in a suit behind a desk didn't put their stamp of approval on you as a person"? Then you're a jerk.

I make no bones about being an Indie. I don't try to hide it. And I don't want to lead anyone to believe otherwise. Regardless of certain snobbish beliefs held by a few threatened, small people, I don't believe there's any shame in being Indie when you're good at what you do and work hard to serve your readers and produce quality work on a consistent basis. It's simply a choice I've made for myself. Does it work for everyone? Of course not. Some would argue it doesn't even work for me, but I'm not here to defend my choices or debate the pros and cons of every possible publishing method. That's exhausting, not to mention dull as arse. Plus, I would never presume to tell someone else what's right for them. Only self-important a-holes do that. Their blog posts go viral, but... at what cost?

Mistakes in manuscripts have nothing to do with Indie- versus Traditionally-published. I own the few mistakes in my books (go ahead... count them... they're there) because I'm imperfect. And the people on my team are imperfect. We screw up. We miss things.

Don't pin that on being "Indie," though. Pin that on being human.

And please... for the love of Jane Austen... stop using the word "Indie" like some kind of NSFW literary slur.

 

Thanks for reading! This post is part of the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website. To return there, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-mar-2016

Wednesday
Mar162016

Hypocrite

People say I’m a good listener. People say I give good advice (even when they choose not to follow it). I’ve had more than one person remark that I seem wise beyond my years, that I’m an old soul. That’s what happens when you have to grow up too soon, so it’s not like I can take any credit for it. Well, I guess I can take credit for those really stupid decisions I made when I was young…er that had life-long consequences, but still. You know what I mean. You either wise up and make the best of those decisions or you continue to make bad choices and suffer through a frustrating life. But anyway. That’s another post, I guess.

What I wanted to talk about today, what I want to confess, is that I don’t practice what I preach. I mean, I try to. And it’s not like I’m dispensing advice left and right, expecting reality to be one way for everyone else and something completely different for myself. For the most part, when I say something, it’s because I truly believe it to be right. At the time. Objectively. And I strive to live those attitudes.

But… sometimes in the heat of the moment… striving falls woefully short.


Which leads me to feel like a major fraud, naturally. Because that’s part of who I am, too: a raging imposter.

But this isn’t about how I’m often a hypocrite, in general. This is about something specific. Something I wrote fairly recently and received a lot of praise—and some flak—for writing. Something I wrote and truly believed recently enough that I immediately knew I was being the proverbial pot pointing and laughing at the color of the kettle. That doesn’t mean I had any control over how I was feeling, though. It just meant that I had the added shame of knowing what a spoiled brat I was being heaped on top of the emotion causing me to think like that spoiled brat.

Remember when I said to newly published authors that nobody owes us anything, and we need to accept that? Yeah, I had to tell it to myself pretty hard the other day. And I wanted to punch the wiser half of myself in the ovaries for being right. I won’t go further into the details (I have some pride and plenty of shame regarding this), but I will say that I realized how amazingly entitled I sounded when I vented my complaint to a fellow writer friend. And I wanted to take back all the words. And I wanted to hide.

And for what? For being human? For expressing what so many people have expressed to me in the past, in similar situations? Yep. For that. And also for thinking I was beyond that, perhaps even above it. And mostly for judging other people when I’ve seen them struggling with the “Oh, poor me”s, something I have so little patience for.

Why am I telling you this? Well… Because… it seems only fair. It’s not right, somehow, to act like I have it all figured out. I don’t necessarily think I’m claiming I do when I share insight on here, but I guess it could be implied, so I want to provide this proof right now that I don’t feel that way. I have nothing figured out for me. I may have slightly more figured out for others. Isn’t that how it always goes?

I also wanted to let you know that I reread my post to newly published writers, and I still stand by everything I said in that post, even when—especially when—applying it to myself. Only I have a fresher appreciation for how hard it is to keep those things in mind while feeling a bit miffed or wronged or frustrated, or whatever one happens to feel when one pours that glass of water into the lake, and it barely causes a ripple, even in the waters closest to us.

I had some newer, harsher advice for myself recently: grow up and buck up… and speak up, if it’s really that important to you. If it’s not worth saying something, then it’s not worth sulking about. Because really…? Honestly…? Nobody has time to even notice that you’re sulking about anything. And it’s not affecting their lives a single bit. It’s just turning you into a sour, resentful poo-face that nobody wants to be around. And if they’re not around, they can’t tell you’re upset about something. And if they are around, do you want to waste your time together whining or arguing or dwelling on unpleasantness? Not really.

So again…

Grow up. Buck up. Lighten up.

I’m sure I’ll be rereading this post to myself sometime in the future, too. Growing up is a never-ending process, apparently.

Wednesday
Mar092016

Dumb Braggin'

We are a ridiculous society. All you have to do is spend five minutes on social media to know I’m right. And I say “we,” because I am guilty of being ridiculous, too. The best thing about the dumb things we say for the world to see is that we can scoff at one person saying something stupid, then turn around and pretty much do the same thing while giving ourselves immunity.

Usually, it takes the form of bragging. We have perfected the art of the humble-brag, because it’s a form of passive-aggression, which is also something we’re so good at nowadays (uh… see this blog post). Here’s a list of the ludicrous things we brag about to our “friends.” (All in good fun, folks! Don't ruin it by being overly sensitive.)

  1. Staying away from social media and/or electronic devices for a whole day, sometimes an entire weekend. How do we do it? “Did you miss me? No? Cool. I was just sooo busy sitting on my twitching phone hand and wishing I was posting pictures of all the cool stuff I was not doing.”
  2. Eating well. “Check out this salad! I’m totally eating an entire pizza after this. Photos to follow!”
  3. Eating unwell. The nastier the plate, the better. “Looks like vomit. Tastes like a heart attack. I have life insurance.”
  4. Eating. (Take that picture, or it doesn’t count!)
  5. Having friends. “Real” ones. “Hey, all! I do leave my house sometimes and interact with people sans screens. Look how fun and zany I am with ‘the girls.’”
  6. Being angry. It’s best to be as vague as possible in this case, though, especially when we’re angry at a specific person. We wouldn’t want to risk being direct and mature.
  7. Getting rid of Facebook friends. “Culled that list. Whew! My clicky finger is tired!”
  8. Working out. And working out the next day. And working out the next day. Because… you know… we work out.
  9. Risking our lives. “I don’t consider it a proper weekend unless I wind up in the ER with a sprain or break. But fat people sure are driving up insurance costs. AmIright?”
  10. Enabling our lazy, entitled kids… then complaining about how lazy and entitled they are. Because that’s a sign of good parenting. It’s a luxury to be lazy and entitled, and we provide that luxury to our children. Aren’t we great? “Sigh… Unloading and reloading the dishwasher… again… I guess I’m the only one who knows how.”
  11. Denying our children things because we didn’t have them when we were kids. After all, our childhoods were so much better, when our parents locked us out of the house for nine hours during the sweltering summer (it was hot in the house, anyway).* So no, our kids are not going to play video games in the a/c all summer, thank you very much. “I don’t care that times have changed. My kids are going to live like it’s 1985, complete with third degree sunburn and heat stroke. I’ll be inside on the couch posting selfies while binge-watching Netflix. I earned this with my fabulous childhood. Just email me that parenting trophy. I’m not moving until I have to unlock the door to let the kids back in.”
  12. Binge-watching shows. Yep. There’s now some weird pride in how deep we can make that dent in the couch with our ever-widening buttocks. “Got through the entire new season of House of Cards this weekend. Thirteen hours and seven blood clots. Can’t wait for the next season… in eighteen months. Actually, I’ll just wait here on the couch. I can’t move now, anyway. But if they have to amputate, it’s all good. I don’t need my legs to click ‘next episode.’”
  13. Pissing people off. But being really honest about it (and proud). “I know this is going to make some people mad. Feel free to unfriend me.” Face it, we’re just too lazy to unfriend all those people… again… ourselves, but we want them out of our timelines voluntarily and permanently.
  14. Being apolitically political. This one is super-popular right now, for obvious reasons. “I normally don’t post political stuff, but…” Except for the political thing we posted just the other day, because, “I don’t care who you are; this is funny. But I’m not political.” Let’s just face it that most of us are political, and we think what we think, and nobody is going to change our minds. One side thinks the other is full of ignorant, gun-toting, homophobic racists; the other side thinks its counterparts are immoral, baby-killing, freeloading demons. We’re both going to ruin the country somehow, some way, so post your Donald Trump memes, even though we all know you’re a closet Trump supporter, because, “We need a change, and when I eat a piece of food I don’t like, my favorite thing is to chase it with a turd sandwich,” and oh my gosh, I’m unfriending you. Click.
  15. Being too lazy to Google things. “Anyone out there know how to change a spark plug? If I just Google it, nobody knows I’m changing my spark plugs all by myself. On my Corvettte. Here’s a picture.” *sunglasses emoji* *sportscar emoji* *douchebag emoji* (Don’t you wish there was one? Would come in handy so often!)
  16. The ability to post entire status updates or replies in emoji form. Great new communication style that nobody understands. Because what this world needs is less effective communication.

See? Ridiculous. The buffoonery knows no bounds. And yet, we do it all day, every day (except those days we so bravely unplug… because our devices are all charging). Do you think when future generations look back on us, they’ll shake their heads and laugh, or will they be too busy doing the next stupid things? Or will these behaviors be so ingrained they won’t even seem dumb? Already, they’re frighteningly mainstream unless exaggerated for the sake of comedy. (Although, unfortunately, I didn’t have to exaggerate much.)

I don’t know.

Honestly, once you stop laughing, doesn’t it make you a little sick to your stomach? Kind of like when you remember something moronic or embarrassing you said or did as a teenager, and it makes you blush just thinking about it? Only… there’s permanent (debatable) evidence of this online stupidity, and a lot more people—sometimes strangers—are seeing it, not just a few of your classmates in your mid-sized American high school.

I’m not saying we go back to a time before this—we’ve already gone too far, I’m afraid, to turn back—but is being aware of idiocy the first step to curtailing it, or is that awareness just another avenue for shaming ourselves or feeling superior to others when we catch them doing the same things we do?

Again, I don’t know.

“Man, I’m dumb. Anyway, pass me that bowl of Doritos. I need to take a picture of it for Instagram. No filter!”

 

*Important note: my parents never made us play out in the sweltering heat for nine hours. We were allowed to come inside for lunch. Love ya, Mom!

Monday
Feb292016

LET'S BE FRIENDS Release

"Release" is right. Whew. It was a race to the finish. I told readers they'd have the new (and final) installment of the Nurse Nate Trilogy in February 2016, and I delivered. Barely. By the skin of my teeth.

See, here's the thing: being an indie author/publisher is awesome for a control freak like me. I control everything. Nearly. Except for the things I don't control. Which are still surprisingly numerous, when you think about it, especially when it comes to the timing of book releases.

For example, since I'm still apparently new at this thing called "being an adult," emergencies are always cropping up. Some of those emergencies are of my own making. Failure to plan ahead is my biggest improvement area. (Notes to self: get started on Easter preps right now. Car needs oil change. Schedule family summer vacation.)

My kids' schools are really great about communicating upcoming events and important dates. I'm really great about saying, "Cool. That's weeks from now," and losing that information until the reminder the day before. Thank goodness for e-mail, or I'd be in even more trouble. Can't blame that this time around though, because I--knock on wood--uncharacteristically have my poop in a group this school year. It probably helps that I have one fewer child to hand-hold, considering my oldest is a college student.

Also, about the only thing you can count on in life when you absolutely can't afford to be sick or take the time out to care for a sick loved one is that illness will strike. Especially in the middle of winter. That's just a given. So I've learned to (usually) pad that downtime into any project. Go me. *Cough, cough, hack*

Another thing typically beyond my control is technological difficulties. This project was relatively free of such snafus, but it seems like every time I publish a book, the process changes just enough to make my notes from the previous publication not-quite-current, resulting in at least an hour of "What the &^%$# am I doing wrong, and why won't this work?!" at the upload stage. Or a section of special formatting won't translate from my manuscript to the e-book or paperback files, so I have to monkey with that. You know, boring technical stuff that I've gone on way too long about here.

This time around, something new happened. Someone I care about very deeply and who is an integral part of my publication team ran into some issues, so an important part of the book was delayed. At that point, what can one do? Nothing. One must be unnaturally (for me) patient and come to the somewhat obvious--but surprisingly difficult--realization that there are more important things in life than self-made deadlines and book launches. It's kind of easy to say that now, too, since we made the deadline, in spite of it all.

Life's too short to panic about such things, though. Plus, there's no time for panicking when you're celebrating that you survived the gauntlet once again, and you've made another contribution to readers' joy (hopefully). So here's to Nurse Nate, perseverance, teamwork, and launch days/weeks! *Raises champagne glass* *Throws confetti* *Fishes confetti out of champagne*

Onto the next project!

Let's Be Friends

Nate and Betty’s long-distance relocation has shrunk their pesky problems like specks in a rearview mirror… or so they think. But small-town life in sultry South Carolina includes its own challenges, and the Binghams soon discover their northern hometown doesn’t have the monopoly on frustrating co-workers and dysfunctional families. Add in a bit of culture shock, and the result is a thick, hilarious pot of outsider gumbo. Plus, some people—and decisions—can follow you anywhere you go, for the rest of your life.

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes

Nook (Coming soon!)

Scribd

Thursday
Feb042016

Sneak Peek of LET'S BE FRIENDS

Wow. I am so out of it lately and working so close to my deadline that I almost forgot to post a sneak peek to Let's Be Friends. (I also almost titled this post "Sneak Peak..." like it's a cheeky mountain, or something, which is one of my pet peeves. Did I mention I'm out of it?)

We're still hard at work developing a cover, so I don't have that to share yet, but you'll be the first to know when I do. I'm super-excited about that!

One thing I do have is words. Soon, you'll have all 95,000+ of them. But for now, I give you a measly 1,300, or so. Yeah, I know. I suck. Also, I realize that makes for a long blog post, so I'm going to shut up now and get right to it. Happy reading! (Back to making those crazy edits!)

(First things first, a blurb for some background:)

Nate and Betty’s long-distance relocation has shrunk their pesky problems like specks in a rearview mirror… or so they think. But small-town life in sultry South Carolina includes its own challenges, and the Binghams soon discover their northern hometown doesn’t have the monopoly on frustrating co-workers and dysfunctional families. Add in a bit of culture shock, and the result is a thick, hilarious pot of outsider gumbo. Plus, some people—and decisions—can follow you anywhere you go, for the rest of your life.

Let's Be Friends

Chapter Three

   On the floor, I pull Georgia into my lap and focus on the animated performance of the librarian at the front of the room. I’ve never heard Where the Wild Things Are recited quite like this (“Lyeet the wahld rumpus stahrt!”), but it’s entertaining. And Georgia doesn’t care. She loves it. In fact, she’ll probably learn to talk with a drawl befitting of her name.
   Oh, geez.
   No, that’s okay. My brother will have a field day with that, but screw him. I’d much rather my daughter have a bit of a twang to her speech patterns than have her eat, sleep, and breathe football.  That is, if I had to choose.
   I look down at her, settled in the nest made by my crossed legs as we sit on the shaggy rug with a dozen other kids and their parents. She’s enthralled, her jaw slack as she listens to the hypnotic cadence of the storyteller. Taking her cues from the older kids around us, she occasionally claps her hands or kicks her feet when the other children react to a particularly exciting part of the story.
   At the end of the book, she joins the chant of “More, more!” and “Again, again!” but the librarian, whose name tag declares her to be Gwendolyn, simply laughs and says, “Now, y’all! It’s time to pick your own books to take home and read!”
   This launches the junior attendees into motion. They tug impatiently on the hands of parents who don’t have the agility to hop from the floor to their feet in one easy motion, and they implore, “Hurry up! We gotta find the good books before they’re all gone!” They spout the characters’ strange names like they’re best friends. “Let’s find Caillou!”
   Betty lifts Georgia from my lap, then kindly averts her eyes as I less-than-gracefully stand after sitting in the same position for too long. I tap the circulation into my sleeping right foot and say, “Well, George, what’s it gonna be?”
   “Cord’roy!” she immediately replies with a toothy grin up at me.
   “We have Corduroy at home, though. Let’s find something new.”
   “Cord’roy!”
   Betty tilts her head and smiles. “This oughta be fun.”
   Not ready to give up yet, I grab a display book from one of the low shelves nearby. “How about this one? It’s about a bear, too. But we’ve never read it.”
   “Cord’roy!”
   Her volume is decidedly louder than the typical “library” range, so I kneel down and say quietly, close to her face, “Okay, okay. Shhh. We’ll find Corduroy. And some new friends, too.”
   “Hi, there!” comes from above us.
   “Hello,” Betty replies with an embarrassed smile.
   I stand at my full height, coming face-to-face with the perky Gwendolyn. “Oh, hey.”
   “Did I hear that someone wants to take home a copy of Corduroy?”
   “Pretty sure they heard that a hundred miles away in Charleston,” I mumble, rubbing the back of my neck.
   Betty laughs. “Yeah. Sorry about the noise.”
   “What? Oh, heavens no!” the librarian says with a gentle swat to Betty’s arm. “We’re not bothered by happy voices, especially in this part of the building. We love ’em! Means someone’s excited about readin’!” She lowers herself to Georgia’s level. “Hi, I’m Gwen. What’s your name?”
   Georgia buries her face in my knees.
   “Georgia,” Betty and I supply at the same time, then chuckle nervously. To give myself something to do, I lift our daughter into my arms and hold her against my side. She transfers her face to my neck.
   Gwen rises. “Well, Georgia, that’s a pretty name. And I have some great news for you. I saw Corduroy this morning, when I was puttin’ him back on the shelf. Let’s go grab him for you.”
   This prompts Georgia to look up and kick her feet, almost tagging me in my bean bag. “Down, pwease!”
   I gladly set her on her feet and watch her run to keep up with her literary guide. Betty and I follow closely behind, linking hands and smiling proudly at our budding bibliophile.
   Could we be any cuter? We’re like the perfect family in a literacy ad.
   When we catch up to the two G’s, the librarian is peering at the spines on the shelf and rubbing her lower lip, her forehead crinkled. “Hmm… It was right here. I shelved it myself.”
   “Cord’roy!”
   Distracted, Gwen smiles. “That’s right, Sugar. Your buddy is…” She trails off and frowns. “Oh, dear. It looks like…” Turning to us, she winces and mouths, “It’s checked out again.”
   Dread spreads through my abdomen and climbs my ribcage to my breastbone. Foreseeing an ugly scene, I pick up Georgia, who wriggles in my arms and yells, “Cord’roy!”
   My tone remains light. “He’s playing hide and seek today, but I have an idea where he might be.” Close to her ear, I whisper, “He’s at home, waiting for you.”
   She pulls her head away from my lips and gives me the clearest, Bitch, please, look I’ve ever seen from a kid her age—but one that I’ve received from her mother more times than I care to count. And always before some major unpleasantness. This time is no different.
   “I. Yaunt. Cord’roy!”
   “Yep. I get it, baby girl, but—”
   “Not baby guhl! Cord’roy!”
   Gwen edges away from us. “I’ll, uh… leave you guys to…” Obviously at a loss for how to finish that, she points to the circulation desk. “I’ll be right over there if you need anything else.”
   I need flippin’ Corduroy, lady. What kind of library only has one copy of that classic? Huh? HUH?!
   Instead of yelling that, I smile tightly and blink against the baby blows falling on my shoulders. Betty takes charge, pulling Georgia away from me and saying, “Georgia Lou, that’s enough. Now, let’s pick some other books, or we’ll leave now, and you’ll go straight down for a nap when we get home.”
   “Cord’roy!” she wails.
   I blow a sigh through my lips and try to pretend I don’t care that everyone is staring at us. Like their kids have never had public meltdowns over a book about a teddy bear. I chance a peek at another dad openly gaping at us and shoot him a sheepish half-smile. He turns away from me to say something to his perfectly-behaved sundress-clad princess. Probably telling her, “If you evuh act like that, Little Miss, I’ll cut you out of the will. With God as my witness.” (Or something. For some reason, he talks like Scarlett O’Hara in my head. So much for abandoning those stereotypes.)
   “Okay, let’s go,” I say to Betty.
   “We can’t carry her through the whole library like this,” she hisses back at me. “She’s hysterical.”
   “Well, take her into the bathroom, then.”
   “They’re by the doors. We might as well leave, at that point.”
   “Let’s do it, then.”
   “This is humiliating.”
   “She’ll calm down in a second.”
   “I YAUNT CORD’ROY! I YAUNT CORD’ROY!”
   Desperate to end this whole thing, I snatch Georgia from her mother, toss her over my shoulder like a sack of fertilizer, and, red-faced and sweating, haul ass for the exit.
   Just as I think we’re home free, pushing through the doors to the parking lot, Georgia bellows a parting “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!” behind us.
   There goes the neighborhood.

 Fan art by Lynda G.

Let's Be Friends releases this month (don't try to pin me down on a date; I'll crumble under the pressure). More news to follow.