Tuesday

Dear People With The Ill-Tuned Diesel Who Live On My Court:

It's not that cold out. Really. When it's in the mid fifties you really don't need to run your truck for twenty minutes to let it warm up. Your kidlets will not freeze if they get in it while it's cold. I, however, might become freakishly manical if woken up one more time by the sound of your engine chugging away at the crack of It's Still Dark Outside Dammit in the morning. You should know that I'm already halfway there, and I'm pretty sure I can train the pigeons that congregate on our street to poop where I ask them to...

Signed,
Awake and Annoyed

Sunday

My DDAVP punked out on me at 1:15 this afternoon; I realized, as I walked from the nether regions of the WalMart parking lot, in the rain, that I not only needed to pee like the proverbial racehorse (TMI?) but if I didn’t get massive amounts of liquid within 3 minutes, I was liable to sprint through the store, back to the pets area, and start sucking nasty fishy-scum water out of the aquariums.

That, my friends, is DI thirst. Almost anything wet is so appealing it’s just about irresistible. Lucky for me, this WalMart has a McDonald’s, where I can buy a small soda, sit there and watch people, and refill it until my stomach feels like it’s going to pop. And luckily for me, since my doc changed my DDAVP prescription from a nasal spray to pills, I always have some on me. So I headed straight for McD’s bought a drink, popped a pill, and sat down to watch the people pushing carts and strollers and wheelchairs through the store.

I was once asked why I watch people so much. Don’t I worry they’ll feel violated? Doesn’t it feel creepy?

I watch, because it’s difficult to write without having observed. I can’t create realistic characters unless I pay attention to real people, and people are at their most real when they’re doing everyday things and when they don’t feel like they’re being watched. No, I don’t worry they’ll feel violated; it’s not like I sit there and stare, and it’s not as if I were intruding into their home life. If you’re out in public, someone or something is watching you. If not me, then someone else. Or some camera is recording you. You have no Reasonable Expectations to privacy when you’re pushing your cart through WalMart. And it doesn’t feel creepy; creepy would be if I sat there and stared at some little kid, thinking things that no sane person should think. Creepy is the old guy at the YMCA who stares nonstop at the woman in the next lane.

I’m just watching. Soaking it in. Paying attention to how people move, how they talk, how they get frustrated with little things but can be very patient for big things.

A year or so ago I was in the same WalMart, shopping instead of watching. I kept winding up in the same aisle with this woman and her little boy; he kept asking for things and she kept saying no, until he finally asked one time too many and she lost it, and yelled at him over a packet of stickers. It was one of those parental melt down moments that anyone who has ever shopped with a child on a regular basis has had: you’ve told your kid ahead of time he’s not to ask for anything, but being a kid he does anyway, and repeatedly, and you finally explode with a “Do I need to yank your little butt out of here? Because if we have to go to the car, you KNOW what’s going to happen!”

She was super-pissed, and that just made him cry. But he put the stickers down.

Fifteen, twenty minutes later I went into the restroom and there’s Mom with her distraught kid; he’s had an accident, and it’s oozing down his pants legs, through the material, over his shoes. It’s a giant, stinky, horrendous thing to have to clean up. And he’s crying, embarrassed, and Mom is on her knees telling him “It’s okay, sweetie. We’ll get you cleaned up and then we can go home and take a bath, okay?”

Yeah, she lost it over the stickers, but when it counted, she was gentle and understanding with her kid. People are like that. People might cut you off in the parking lot, rush to get a parking space before you, but if slip and fall in the store, they’ll rush to try to help. Get your shirt caught on something and rip it wide open, and they’ll offer you the one off their own backs.

I like to sit there and see what people are really like. Most of the time it’s a good thing to see. Most of the time people try to be kind to each other. In the parking lot, in the anonymity of a car, maybe not so much, but when confronted with need, most people rise to occasion.

I sat in McD’s today, sucking my way through 4 refills, and watched. I heard Bill, the greeter, welcoming people with his loud, friendly voice. Teenager boys filtered in, walking with legs wide to keep their pants from falling down. A young girl practically danced past, as she squealed to her father “I can’t believe we’re really getting a kitty!”

And then there was the little guy who stopped almost directly in front of me; he reached out and grabbed a box of brownies off the sale rack and announced “I yikes dis!”

Mom said, no, we’re not buying that today, we’re here for a mop.

“I yikes dis!”

Not today. Put it down.

“BUT I YIKES DIS! I yikes dis, I yikes dis, I yikes dis!”

Mom gives him The Look. Everyone else in a twenty foot radius is trying not to laugh.

“I yikes dis! I want dis for Kissmas!”

“Christmas is a long time away, kiddo.” She took the box from him and put it back, and then reached for his hand. As she lead him away I heard his distraught little voice, “I yikes dis, I yikes dis!”

I’d finally had enough to drink, my DDAVP finally taking effect, and I as I got up, I head someone behind me mutter, “Well, dammit, now *I* want brownies.”

So do I, mister.
Brownies and snickerdoodles.
Maybe for Kissmas.

Friday

I sat in the library this afternoon—again—trying to dig down into the meat of a story I’ve had brewing in my head for almost a year. It’s fought hard against letting me pull it out and put it onto paper, but I think I’m winning. At the very least I got a good start on it and I know where I want it to go, and where I want it to end. That doesn’t mean it will go where I will it to or end the way I hope, but it’s a start. And stories all have to start somewhere.

As I sat there, wondering if what I had just written was on the spot or a bit too wooden, I spotted a little boy standing next to his father, who was looking something up on the computer. He had his finger in his nose, and when he pulled it out, he seemed genuinely surprised at what came out when he finally unplugged his left nostril.

He held his hand up towards his father, finger pointed almost accusingly. “Daddy!”

Daddy peered down, and with a smirk that said I dare you, he snickered, “Eat it!”

The little guy looked at his father, then at his finger, then back at his father as he said brightly “You eat it!”

Dad was saved from having to respond by an older lady at the table next to me, who interrupted the exchange with a horrified “Oh, I have a tissue!” as she dug into her purse.

I kind of wanted to see what Dad was going to do.

But dang, I love the library…

Tuesday

Picking Through The Cobwebs In My Brain…
click to biggify
Yeah.

My entire floor looks like that…No it’s not dirt, it’s catnip. Lots and lots of catnip. Buddah has discovered that if he rips a toy apart, they have plenty of fun to roll in and snack on. Max isn’t complaining about the nip, he’s complaining about being too big to fit inside their new toy.

And yes, I do feel sorry for him. It’s not his girth keeping him out, it’s his length. He could get through the hole, but he’s just too long to get in far enough to curl up and lie down.

I totally scored on an eBay auction last week. I thought I was bidding on cables for my spiffy little PDA/portable word processor thingy; what I got was not just the cables, but another PDA/word processor thingy. For a dirt cheap price. Really cheap. Better than eating expensive chocolate cheap. So now I have two. I just might put my other one up on eBay and make a nice little profit.

I want Snickerdoodles.
If I had a huge batch of Snickerdoodles, I would eat them for breakfast.
Hence, I will not be making any Snickerdoodles.

He fits inside the new toy.
He was too cute to not share.
Even though him being in there ticks Max off to no end.

Sunday

I know, rationally, that it’s a good thing that smoke detectors make an obnoxious chirping sound when the battery is almost dead. Whoever came up with the idea was very smart and deserves a cookie or two for deep thinking. It forces those of us who have cheap batteries into replacing them more than once a year, and potentially saves our sorry butts.

However.

Whoever designed them so that the battery would always die in the middle of the night (and for me 4:45 a.m. is the middle of the night) needs to be taken out somewhere and beaten about the head and shoulders with a size 15 never-before-washed gym shoe of the skankiest teenager ever to grace a locker room.

And whoever then designed the smoke detector itself to be so difficult to open that it would take over an hour just to get to the dying battery…well, they should not only get whacked with the dirty gym shoe, but kicked in the shin as well.

And both should be locked in a room with Max, who decided that because I was awake, it MUST be time to for breakfast. And when Max decides it’s time for breakfast, Max does not shut up until he gets it. He will meow repeatedly, every 2.4 seconds, until he gets what he wants.

That’s annoying enough in the afternoon; at 6 a.m. it’s enough to make a person want to let the kitty go for a ride in the clothes dryer. Or at the very least, bonk him over the head with my Mighty Holy Pepsi…

Friday

I Bonk You On The Head With My Mighty Holy Pepsi

This morning, sometime between 7:40 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., I was ordained as a priest. I’m not exactly sure what type of priest, but I was running around hither and yon, anointing everyone I encountered, absolving them of their sins. Dressed all in black, I carried with me a Diet Pepsi can with the top ripped off, and apparently my beverage of choice was blessed by the unseen Bishop; I dipped my fingers into it just before popping people on the forehead with a “I anoint you and forgive your heathen ways!”

Then Buddah jumped on me, and I woke up. No, I have no idea what that dream was about, other than my subconscious telling me that I must feel superior to everyone else. But we all know how big my ego is, so it’s not like that should be a big surprise.

And no, I don’t normally sleep that late. Because the Spouse Thingy needed to sleep in today (makes working the night shift a tad easier) I dragged myself up at the crack of Way Too Early to function as a can opener for the cats, and once they were stuffed and happy and ignoring me, I crawled back into bed, thinking I would just curl up under the blankets and watch Good Morning America.

I saw something about Charlie Gibson’s brain, and was off to the seminary.

I wonder how high in the class I graduated…

Thursday

This Post Brought To You By Work Avoidance

If you’re stuck someplace where it’s freaking cold, you probably hate me right now.

It’s February, it’s sunny, and it’s 54 degrees here.

You may throw snowballs if it’ll make you feel better. I was going to complain about how I feel cold and how I’m sitting here shivering, but I don’t think I’m going to get much sympathy. I mean, a couple days ago it was 20 degrees warmer and we were driving around with the top down on the car. Somehow I don’t think my current discomfort matters a whole lot to anyone other than me.

But I do have some goose bumps. I could get up and change from a my thing thermal shirt to a sweatshirt, but that would involve actually moving. I just survived the commissary; I don’t feel like moving.

(Ok, the commissary was not crowded at all and there were only 10 retiree couples blocking aisles with their sideways carts, but I think complaining about having to go to the commissary is, like, the law…)

While I sit here and shiver and not get up to put on a sweatshirt, I am going to start laying out a new manuscript. By my cat. Yep, Max has been at it again and instead of a furball he coughed up a new book.

Um, he did too write it himself.

Sheesh, such doubters out there.

All right…enough procrastinating. Since it’s not warm enough to run around town topless, I might as well be productive. Max will write the dang book, he just won’t sit here and format the manuscript.

Lazy kitty.

This Has Been Festering, So Of Course I Have To Pick At It…

Okay.

Pretend you’re someone fairly well known—enough that you have some fans, and even some fans bordering on the edge of scary. You’ve worked in your field for a Very Long Time, but you haven’t done so well in it lately, but that’s all right because your interests have taken a different turn.

Deep down, you’re a writer. And you’re not half bad; certainly a good chunk of those fans keep telling you so. They want to read more of your work and encourage you to take a step into the Big Bad World of Publishing.

So you do.

You self-publish and it’s fairly well received. A mainstream publisher takes notice and offers you a several-book deal based pretty much on that alone. They invest in your work—publishing your previously self-published title under their imprint—and then the book you’ve been working on for quite a while.

Everyone is thrilled for you. Your fans are excited. You’re bubbling over with OHMYGODTHISISHAPPENINGTOME!!!! Heck yeah, it’s a Very Special Thing.

And then reality sets in.

The publisher does not promote the book in the way you would like. It’s not selling as much as you think it should. They don’t understand that they’re giving it the kiss of death by marketing it the way they are. They’re ruining your work. It’s not selling anymore.

So you complain.
To everyone on the Internet who will listen, you complain.
They dropped the ball. They screwed up. They killed my book. I can’t get over the crushing disappointment.

Shut. Up.
Really.
Stop it. Be quiet. Quit whining and be grateful.

Here are a few of the harsh realities of publishing: writers rarely get to say how a book is marketed. Writers rarely gets to claim the genre in which it is published, or where it will be placed in a bookstore. Writers do not dictate the terms of publication once that contract is signed. Nor do they get free reign over editing. Nor over cover art. Nor over much of anything else.

Well, unless you’re Stephen King. I imagine he has quite a bit of clout.

There are more harsh realities. Most books have a 30-60 day shelf life. That’s it. If your book was out there longer, you’ve done better than most. Most writers don’t get much in the way of an advance, and often don’t seen a royalty statement with anything more than a big fat ZERO on it.

But, oh, you just got a negative royalty statement.

So? At least you got a royalty statement. Sitting out there, tapping away at computer keyboards all across the world, are hundreds of thousands of writers who would give up a few royalty checks simply to have the opportunity you’ve been handed by virtue of having A Name.

Don’t kid yourself. That is why you were offered the contract. You have A Name and come with built in sales. You write well but not that well.

So.

A publisher took a chance and poured thousands of dollars into getting your book out there, and you’re paying them back by trash-talking them all over the Internet. They opened the door and allowed you to get your foot in, and you’re scraping the doogy doo that was stuck on your shoe all over their welcome mat. You never had to pay your dues as a writer, never suffered the volume of rejection slips that, if saved, would insulate your home, but by God, you deserve more.

You’ve made a mark online by trashing your previous employers, and now you’re doing it to the company that gave you a huge chance without you having to do much more than mention you’ve been working on a new book. They invested in you and you’re paying them back by telling everyone who will listen how they obviously don’t understand how to do the very thing that’s made them a huge success in a harsh industry.

Honestly…I respect your body of work. I enjoy your writing. But if I ever manage to take my company several levels higher, I will never work with you. I won’t pour my money into your talent, even though I know you could pull in real numbers. I will take the brand new writer with the passable idea over your Name with an idea that will sell for sure.

Why?

Because I’ve seen what you do when things don’t go the way you want them to. I’ve seen the writing, so to speak; you’ll bash my name and my company’s name to whomever will pay attention. Even though I have a couple of decades more in this game than you do, you’ll always think you know more and think you know best. You won’t honestly appreciate the opportunities afforded you.

When I think of how many truly talented writers out there would practically kill for what you had handed to you…

Try being grateful for it. Try being kind about it. Try deserving it.

Monday

:::taps foot impatiently:::

Why is it every place we live, it's last on the UPS guy's route?

:::stares at door:::


Sunday

Neither Here Nor There…

I’m cheating on my Priloesec.

Oh, I still take it every night as prescribed, but I’m sneaking the Maalox on the side.

Yes, I am a gastronomical slut. I will do just about anything to quell the ever-increasing dull ache in my gut, including chugging mint flavored milky-like wonder. I still like my Prilosec, yes I do, but I need more, and baby, Maalox delivers. I am in love with Maalox. It soothes me and makes my breath so kissable-fresh.


From the virtual mailbag:

Q: Why do you tell the whole world that you live in Vacaville CA? Don’t you worry about people knowing where you are?
A: I tell them that because I really live in Provo, Utah.

Q: Why not just stick a Paypal DONATE button up?
A: I’m a pimp, not a whore…

Q: My cat emailed your cat because she wants to be his special friend, so why hasn’t he answered?
A: Your cat frightens my cat, to be honest. He was interested until she mentioned something about ‘doing it’ and ‘dogs,’ and, well, hating all things canine, he just ran from the computer screaming something about rabies and fleas and catnip laced whipped cream…

Q: When is Max’s next book coming out?
A: Oh sure, ask for his book… Look for the new one early next month. Don’t worry, I’ll pimp for him, too. Yeah, I have no shame.

Q: I’ll pay money to see a naked Thumper!
A: Thumper lounging on the hood of the car with no clothes:



PAY UP!


Oh and what happened to Stuff On My Cat???? I need my fix of put-upon kitties!



Saturday

I’m at the library again, trying to work (surprise! I really am WORKING for once!) and there’s a little kid, maybe 3, following his mother, whispering very loudly, “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?” and she’s doing her best to ignore him. I watched as she went up one aisle and down another, keeping one eye on him as she tried hard to not throttle him (face it, we’ve all had those days with our kids; this appeared to be one of them.) Just as she was about to lose it—she took that deep sigh with her eyes closed, the one that says “Be quiet or I am going to sit on the floor and start crying because I cannot take another moment of your nonstop chatter and incessant demands even though I love you more than life itself please please please SHUT UP!”—he clasped his little hands to his chest and blurted out “if I don’t get to get a book today I AM GOING TO DIE!”

Well now, we can’t have a child just up and croaking in the Vacaville library now, can we?

And no, I did not help the situation any by laughing. But I think he got his book...

Friday

Thumper Goes To The Library

Dear Guy In The Blue Honda:
Get off your freaking cell phone and SLOW DOWN. You’re doing at least 30mph in a PARKING LOT. If the conversation is that important, pull into one of those nifty places bordered by the little white lines. Guess what! They’re meant for people to park their cars in! You can sit there and talk and not be terrorizing the people trying to get into and out of the library. Oh, and I’m also laughing at you, because when I pulled in there was a cop at the other end of the parking lot, and you, Mister I-Must-Get-To-The-Exit-In-1.2-Seconds, are headed right for him. I love the sound of a cop car going “whoop-whoop” after seeing an idiot headed its way.


Dear Lady With The 1 Year Old:
He’s not bothering me. Really, he’s not. Your kid is at the age where he loves the sound of his own voice and he’s just so freaking happy to be ALIVE. He’s not screaming, he’s not shouting, he’s not running around and knocking things over. He’s simply talking to the books and the tables and the carpet and he doesn’t really understand “library voice.” Sure, keep reminding him (using your own library voice) that he needs to quiet down, because over time he will learn to speak softly in the library, but don’t stress over it. The place is nearly empty, and there’s only one person in the Quiet Study Area, and that’s me. Everyone else is on the computers, surfing for porn and looking at Ebay. Kudos to you for bringing him here; hopefully he’ll learn to love this place and will think it’s the Best Treat Ever, and will devour book after book after book.


Dear Guy In The Library On The Cell Phone:
Now you, you are bothering me. You’re not only old enough to know what a library voice is, you should be old enough to realize that the whole world doesn’t want to listen in on your side of the conversation. Answer your phone; I don’t mind that anymore than I would mind if you were talking softly to a companion. But stop shouting, for cripes’s sake. Really, what is it about a cell phone that makes people talk 5 times louder than normal? I don’t want to know how much your brake job is going to cost and I’m not impressed that you bought your girlfriend a personalized license tag frame for Valentine’s Day. Hang up and go surf for porn.


Dear People Who Run The Library:
I freaking love this place. In spite of the guy on the cell phone and his many, many clones. This is seriously one of the best libraries I’ve ever been in, and I am going to write an entire book here. Now if you only sold Diet Coke, or would let people bring in Diet Coke, I’d be in writer heaven...

Sincerely,
Thumper

Wednesday

Yes, I’m still pimping.
But I had a request, so it’s worth annoying you yet again to post the pretty picture of my all 3 books in one, um, book.

A couple people wanted to be able to get autographed copies (because nothing says I’M SO COOL! like a signed book from a relatively unknown writer) but it seemed to be a bit of a hassle and an expense to expect people to buy a book, get it shipped to them, mail it to me, and then mailed back.

So I placed an order for 15 copies and should have them next week.

So here’s your chance for a little Wabbity Goodness. You know you want it. All three of my STELLAR novels wrapped into one pretty, shiny cover.

Oh and you, you sitting there at the 3rd computer from the left. I see you rolling your eyes and mumbling has she no shame? No, no I don’t. I have no shame. I must pimp myself in a manner befitting a shameless, furry, afraid-of-Uncle-Sam pimp.

The signed edition doesn’t cost any more than the unsigned edition. Because I’m nice that way. And realistic. Nice and realistic.

Thumper’s Autographed 3-books-in-1-Edition Extravaganza

Tuesday

coughcoughcough
=sneeze=
sniiiiiifffff

Don'tcha just love these winter's end/start of spring head colds?

Me either.

Sunday

Every once in a while you meet someone who just fits. You can carry on a conversation with them right from the start and not feel uncomfortable, and you can’t help but smile a little every time you see them, even if you’re just waving at them from across the street as they go from their car into their house.

It’s a slice of good fortune to have people like that come into your life, even if it’s just for a short time.

Ann was one of those people; we met at a neighbor’s house a little over three years ago. She introduced herself and plopped down into the chair next to me, and began to talk. And as a total surprise to me—because I tend to be more than a little shy with people for a long time after I meet them—I was able to jump into the conversation and go with the flow. She made me feel worth talking to, that what I said mattered; she capture and offered attention, something of a rarity in people these days, I think.

Her health was always a bit on the frail side, but she was just spunky enough to rise above it. She joined in on the neighborhood barbeques; she was out there watching the kids play; she took classes at the University. She did more that I was doing at the time, for sure.

Ann passed away this past week. The things she leaves behind are good and wonderful, and for a legacy that’s not half bad. Her family is filled with kind and generous people, and her daughter is a testament to the kind of person Ann was. You just can’t raise someone that well if you don’t pour a whole lot of yourself into it.

Her family is going to miss her like crazy. I think the Evil People of the street and I will, too. Just knowing she’s not there any more puts a hole on the fabric of our lives.

There will be no pimping today.

Thursday

Here’s the thing.

While I found the woman at Costco to be incredibly rude (but more than anything I still wish I had coughed up a good line while she was still in earshot, and that’s because I’m selfishly snarky. Kind of like my cat) I don’t take offense at the assumption. So she looked and thought that there stood one very gay woman. :::shrugs::: Doesn’t matter. I am so not the girly-girl that if I saw me standing somewhere I might think the same thing, but surely not in the same ill manner.

If I’d been standing there in a skin tight tank top with tattoos running from my shoulders to my wrists, I’m sure she would have had another assumption. Of if I’d stood there dressed in black, my face painted ghostly white, and thick black mascara lining my eyes, she might had assumed something entirely different. If I’d been there in a jogging suit, had long hair tied back into a pony tail, she probably would have thought “Soccer Mom.”

Yeah, that might have offended me…

We all make assumptions about people that we see. Most of the time it’s a random thought that zips through our head in less time than it takes to blink, and it’s gone before we can give it much thought. That’s just the way the human brain works. It’s not a crime.

But when those random assumptions are offered as judgment or if they devalue someone else, or they’re a sneer…I have a problem with that. I don’t care that the woman in Costco assumed something about my orientation; I do care that she made it sound creepy or dirty, I care that to her who someone is deep down is fodder for her contempt and ill humor.

You’re not going to hurt me by calling me a dyke, but if you say it like you were looking at dog crap stuck to the bottom of your shoe, you’re certainly going to make me wonder about your upbringing.

Think about it. You see a kid hanging on the corner, baseball cap turned sideways, jeans slung down around his ass, what do you think? Moron? Idiot? Gang-banger? Or just “Damn, son, pull your pants up!

You’re surely going to think something. But what that something is…like it or not it can define you.

Call me a dyke, fine. Even if you’re mistaken, having the thought is perfectly human. But how you twist that thought, well…