Wednesday, July 31, 2013


My dad called the other day.  He’s not a big one for talking on the phone.  His is even one of those ancient flip phones that people tossed for the smart ones.  Usually it’s my mother who calls and checks in, feeding me the funny anecdotes of my sister’s kids.  So when Dad calls I get nervous.  It’s a broken pattern.
It’s the same for whenever they call any time after seven at night.  It’s past their bedtime.  When seven rolls around, they’re tucked snugly in their beds, lights out and everyone snoring contentedly.  It’s their pattern.  

So, when Mom calls that late I snatch up the phone.  “Who died?”

“No one died.  Why?”

“Because it’s 9:15.  You never call me this late.  Is Dad okay?”

“Your dad’s fine.  He’s playing Tetris on the bedroom computer.  I just wanted to call and see how everyone is doing.  You always whine that I call you too early.  Now you’re complaining that I’m calling too late.  There’s no winning with you.”

Monday, July 29, 2013

You Like Hot Dogs?

“You’re not going to eat that are you?”

I glance down at the hot dog covered with chili and onions in my hand, waiting to be devoured.  The only thing missing is coleslaw on top, but 7-11 doesn’t offer that - yet.  “Yes, I’m going to eat it.  It’s my lunch.”

“Do you know what hot dogs are made of? No, because no one knows what they’re made of.  It’s just ground up scraps pressed together in a perverted image.  Why would you want to put that in your mouth?”

“Because I’m hungry and as I said, it’s my lunch.  Besides,” I give a shrug as I lift the loaded down bun to my mouth, “I enjoy hot dogs.”

The naysayer makes a disgusted face as he shakes his head.  “Why would anyone want to put that garbage into their bodies?  Do you know what eating like that is going to do to you one day?  Only idiots would do that to their bodies.”

I lifted my chili dog to my lips as if in a toast and then took a massive bite. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Matthew Krause

Matthew Krause
This week, help me welcome Matthew Krause to the Mess That Is Me. Matthew and I met via Twitter, a great place to connect with fellow writers and other enjoyable people. He has written such screenplays as Of Radical Evil, Play Action,  and Boadicea, Warrior Queen of the Celts.  He has also written Strays: the Glaring Chronicles, a novel about a secret order of shape shifting cats that come out of hiding to save mankind.   Taken from his website, Matthew Krause is an "award-winning screenwriter, independent filmmaker, teacher, and mentor.  Although he writes in multiple genres, the common theme in all of his work is man's eternal struggle to find those pockets of nobility in a sea of human frailty."  Be sure to check out the links above to learn more about this talented writer and author.

Thank you, Matthew for joining us today, and for such a great article, a valuable life lesson, which we all should hear and take to heart. I didn't sleep through it. Promise.  Neither will our readers. Enjoy!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Midnight Visitor

Ronnie, Billy, my dad, and Tommy
With a jolt, I sat straight up in my bed, startled by the explosion of lightning and the sharp crack of thunder, which chased it, shaking my windows.  Rain pelted the glass like stones.  As I peered through the window from my top bunk, I could barely see the neighbor’s house.

I love storms, especially late at night when I’m trying to sleep.  Yet, for some reason, it gave me an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach.  For the last couple of hours I had tossed and turned with my eyes closed trying to sleep, but never achieving it.  I even tried counting sheep, but all that did was make me hungry.

Of course, no one else in my room seemed to be having trouble sleeping.  This happened during the period of my life I refer to as the Invasion.  It’s when all of my father’s brothers decided to move to Florida, but none of them thought to get a place of their own when they did.  They were thus unceremoniously dumped into my room, which happened to be the smallest room in the house.  I had wall to wall uncles snoring away as if they had no care in the world.  And they probably didn’t.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Picky Eater

Ewwww! I'm not eating that!
When Char and I were first married so many years ago, she was an eater of mundane foods.  Basically, she was what people would call a “meat and potatoes” eater.  She wanted nothing to do with any form of seafood and she avoided international dishes at all costs.  She had three vegetables - corn, peas, and green beans - and they better be in their most generic form.  Adventure, to her, was not to be found on the dinner table.

When the boys started arriving, Char couldn’t refrain from making negative reactions to the foods she disliked.  The boys quickly picked up on what their mother found distasteful and followed suit.  The first two boys had their palettes ruined, so by the time Zachariah came along, I made some new rules.  Char was not allowed to say anything about any food I put in front of him until after he had tried it.  That included facial expressions and body language, as well.  Furthermore, the older two boys were to refrain from offering their opinion.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pioneers Wanted

We need more pioneers today, more so, I believe, than we need heroes.  Pioneers break away from the masses to conquer and tame new territory.  They risk everything in order to explore places and concepts others are too timid to venture into.  We need these people to blaze new trails for us to follow because the populated ideas are becoming crowded and stifling.

There are no pioneers these days, however.  We have become, instead, a world of parrots.  The media, celebrities who think too highly of themselves and politicians with avarice in their eyes and hands in our pockets will spew forth whatever gullible doctrine they wish to spout and soon the masses have picked up their chant and rally around it.  People are parrots of the popular in an age when we need pioneers of thought.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Back Nonnie Jules

This Saturday we welcome back Nonnie Jules.  You may remember her from a few weeks back when she stopped by to discuss her book, The Good Mommies' Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Daughters:  100 Tips on Raising Daughters Everyone Can't Help But Love. Well, now Nonnie has written another book, Daydream's Daughter, Nightmare's Friend and she is back to talk to us about it as well as her writing journey.

Nonnie has been a great friend and a giant supporter on Twitter and I have enjoyed the friendship we have formed since her first time visiting The Mess.  If you haven't had a chance to meet and get to know this dear lady make sure you make the effort today after reading her post. You won't be disappointed.  Thank you, Nonnie for visiting us again here at The Mess.  We always enjoy having you with us.

And now...Here's Nonnie!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summertime Messing

Time to relax!
June 21st, according to my calendar, is the first day of summer, but it’s wrong.  Oh, it may be accurate for the seasonal calendar, separating spring and fall, but it’s almost a month late in the eyes of a child.  In our town, summer began at 1:15 on May 22nd; at least, it did to the 8-year old who really hasn’t grasped the concept of a calendar, yet.  She understands her birthday and Christmas, but not the divisions of the seasons.  To her, the year is only divided up into school and summer break.  I envy her.

At 1:15 that final bell rang, the last she would have to hear for three months.  Papers were tossed into the air, books abandoned, and school clothes packed away.  Ironically, it was the only day of the school year that I didn’t have to wait for her to meander to the car for the ride home.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Children Information Overload

They hate it when I make them pose like this now.
When my sister and I were still in elementary school, my mother believed we were too young to attend funerals.  Not because of our behavior, mind you, but rather the due to the nature of the event itself.  As such, we did not attend my grandfather’s funeral when he passed away on that sad Thanksgiving Day in the 70s.  She did not wish for that to be our final image of the man and I can’t say I disagree with her.  I held the same belief for my boys while they were that age.  There are just some things children do not need to know or see.

We can give our children too much information too fast.  With media the way it is and more parents permitting their children earlier access to the internet unsupervised, little ones are bombarded with more than their young minds are ready to process.  They can become confused and scared, leading to nightmares and emotional turmoil.  The 8-year old came home crying one afternoon because she heard the song Cannibal and had images of people eating people in her head that terrified her.  (Be careful parents what you allow your children to listen to.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Mess Welcomes Dr. Joan Claire Gordon

This week at The Mess we are pleased to welcome Dr. Joan Claire Gordon, a lady with a passion for helping bring harmony to people and their relationships.  We're not just talking marriage relationships, either. Dr. Gordon has ways of helping you in any type of relationship at work, school, home, even in your neighborhood.  As a matter of fact, her final category is simply "You name it." Not only does she have her own Blogtalk radio show, she is also a published author. Gra Im Thu! I love you! is a poignant historical love story with themes of love of God, country, family and self.  We are pleased to host Dr. Joan Claire Gordon this week and know you'll enjoy the following.

Before turning it over, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Joan for participating in our guest spots here at The Mess. It's a pleasure to have you here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Messing in Large Groups

One of our favorite cities to visit is St. Augustine.  We love the history, the small cafés and inns and the fact that it’s only a couple of hours away.  We can drive up and spend the day without having to spend the night.  My mother would make my dad drive her up just so that they could have lunch at the Monk’s Inn when they used to live here.  Sadly, the Monk’s Inn is no longer a café, but on the positive side, it is a bar, so I’m still quite pleased.

There is a wide assortment of historical tourist traps to visit from the Fountain of Youth, the Oldest Jail, the fort, Castillo de San Marcos, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  After our family trip to Gatlinburg this year, I’m beginning to think Ripley’s has something in every major tourist town across the United States.  I know they have a Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Washington D.C.  It’s called Congress.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The 30-Minute 10-Minute Trainer

How do you work this thing???
It happens, occasionally.  I’ll get out of the shower, see my Buddha belly in the mirror and decide that I really need to lose weight.  The girls remind me of this, as well, while they’re tying my shoes because they’re afraid I’ll pass out if I do it.  What they don’t understand is that it’s the most exercise I get each day.  I know, it’s a pretty sad situation.

I wasn’t always this out of shape.  I was pretty slim until about five years ago when the weight started to creep into my midsection.  I was active, as well.  We went swimming, played volleyball, and my job required quite a bit of walking and moving about.  However, last year I quit my paying job and became a writer fulltime, which meant my backside remained fixed in a chair for the majority of the day - every day.  After two months of my lack of activity, my belly began to swell like a pregnant woman in her final trimester.  The girls still aren’t convinced that I’m not carrying someone’s love child.  I tried exercising on my own, but when I did a push up, all I did was teeter-totter back and forth over my stomach.  Sit ups were impossible unless the girls each took an arm and pulled while another sat behind me, pushing my back.  Matters were only getting worse.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cover Reveal for Carnival World

This Friday at The Mess we are going to participate in a cover reveal for a good friend and his writing partner. Episode One of the series is about 40 pages long and the first of 10. As I understand it they are also looking for a few reviewers, so reach out to them and take part.  This is a series you will want to check out.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Fourth of July

The Fourth of July, Independence Day, has always been a fun celebration for me.  For the record, it’s also one of those holidays that I believe should require that everything shuts down.  I can sort of understand not agreeing on closing businesses on other holidays.  We don’t all have the same religious beliefs or really like certain presidents.  However, if we as a country cannot close our store doors to celebrate the day of our freedom, what is there really to celebrate at any other time?  It is a day to be with family and friends celebrating life and liberty.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Ending Determines the Beginning

When I transformed Reaping the Harvest from a short story into a novella, I had to go back and add quite a bit of meat to the storyline.  It went from 5,000 words to almost 70,000 and from five anorexic chapters to twenty-one 3,500 word chapters. New characters were added and existing ones given more flesh and depth.

As A Confused Life went through revision it was easier.  ACL is a collection of essays, some of which appeared in the earlier days of The Mess.  I added anecdotes and more thoughts and tossed in a few never-before-seen essays and gave it some spit polish.  There were no characters to keep satisfied or subplots to rectify.  There was only my own insanity to keep in check.