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Thursday, January 07, 2016

It's Time to Bring Your Son Home

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I will tell you something that happened and you can decide for yourself whether you believe it or not. First, let me say, that my family has always leaned toward believing in reincarnation and psychic phenomena of certain kinds (while agreeing that there are lots of charlatans claiming to be seers out there). My father had psychic abilities. You could not live with him without believing that some people have brains that can hear more and see farther into the spiritual realm than others.

I myself have never had a spiritual experience. I went to a psychic once who told my friends many true things about themselves but she gave me my money back saying she could not read me because I was too "earthbound". She gave me a postcard before I left that showed a girl behind a tree trying to get the attention of another girl who remained oblivious to her presence. She told me I was the unseeing girl while the girl behind the tree was my guardian angel.

I have my own rather quirky belief system but mostly I call myself an agnostic. I don't know the answers and I don't think anyone else does either. I'm open to most possibilities but I cannot say: "this is it, this is what I believe for sure."

I went to Sedona, Arizona recently to visit my cousin who has a house there. Sedona, he told me, is a healing place. People come there to find spiritual peace. He thought because of my especially heartbreaking last couple of years, losing my mother and son, I could use a little spiritual healing. I certainly couldn't deny that.

He paid for my friend, Brenda, and I to go get a reading from a psychic he and his wife trusted. I had told her about John's death and my plan to plant wildflowers this spring in what I call my Six-Tree Woods and spread his and Mom's ashes there.

I had not told her that he was currently in a box in my friend, Jan's, back bedroom because I simply didn't think I could face a small container that held all that remained of my son. (When Indiana University finished with Mom's body and cremated her, I had them send her to Jan's also so she and John would be together.

Toward the end of my reading, the psychic said, "you know, it is really time for you to bring your son home. All you are doing is denying your grief but it has to be released. If you don't bring him home, his flowers won't be beautiful."

Well, I came back to Indiana and had Jan bring Mom and John to me. I thought, seeing those two boxes, that I would cry and never be able to stop but I didn't. I put them on a shelf on a bookcase in John's room that he'd made. Instead of being negative, it was comforting to have them home with me.

So, there it is, make of it what you will.

I will let you know if my flowers are beautiful in the spring.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

When Names Don't Match Personalities

This looks a little like my new kitten, threatening expression and all. I named her without really knowing her, oh-so-inappropriately, Filigree or FiFi, for short. Filigree - it sounds like such a dainty, gracious, sweet name, doesn't it. My FiFi is none of those things. I should have named her Jezebel instead.

I didn't even want another cat. I have two of my own plus a little dog. I felt like my happy family was complete. All my animals are mellow and laid back. They all get along. They aren't noisy; they aren't destructive.

Then FiFi came to my friend's house. Jan had three indoor cats, one indoor/outdoor cat and two wild cats that she feeds, so she didn't think she could take on another. She keeps a heat lamp burning for the wild ones in the winter. Fifi found the food and the lamp and began hanging out.

Jan felt sorry her. She was so tiny and scruffy and thin. Jan (who, if she isn't quite a crazy cat lady yet, is getting closer and closer) thought she should be saved from the harsh outdoors. She asked if I would take her. I kept saying no, until she caught me at a weak moment and I gave in.

Jan caught her in a live trap. During the course of getting her out to put her in a carry crate, FiFi practically tore off her thumb. Jan took her to the vet, something I insisted on before she came in with my pets. I paid $84 for shots and flea treatment and worm medicine and antibiotics for an infected bite on her back. She came to my house snapping and snarling.

I kept her in a cage for a couple of days and then I let her out. She instantly took off and I never saw her again. But I knew she was still around, oh, yes, because she hadn't a clue about a litter box. She peed and pooped wherever the mood struck her. Every morning and every night, I did potty patrol. One night, as I climbed into bed my knee hit a wet spot. She had urinated right in the middle of my bed! Furiously, I pulled off the covers to bring them downstairs to wash. I cleaned the spot with Resolve and trained the fan on it to dry. I slept in the downstairs bedroom.

That was the last straw. I told Jan we absolutely had to catch her. We each took a flashlight and searched room by room, closing the doors behind us. We got to the last room, the laundry room, when Jan spotted her behind the freezer. Jan poked her with a broom handle while I stood at the ready with a towel to grab her. She came flying out from under the freezer and I got the towel around her but she was halfway behind the shelving so I couldn't get a good grip. She turned and latched on to my wrist with her teeth. It hurt like hell. I had no idea a five-pound cat could have so much power in its jaws.

"Don't let her go! Don't let her go!" Jan yelled.

"Let her go?" I cried back, "the question is whether she'll let me go!"

By that night, my hand had swelled up like a cantaloupe. I was fiery hot and bright red. I couldn't move my fingers. I went to the doctor the next day. Turned out, I had Cat Scratch Fever, something I'd only ever heard of in Ted Nugent's song. The doctor put me on mega-doses of antibiotics. (My cost: $25 for my co-pay). I was deathly sick for three days. The pain in my hand receded a little each day. The antibiotics gave me a yeast infection. I bought more medicine. (My cost: $15).

We had put FiFi in a large crate on my dining room table with food, water and a litter box. She was close by the computer where we hoped she'd become familiar with seeing me and hearing my voice. Familiarity only bred contempt. She stared at me balefully the whole time. She hissed when I cleaned her cage and gave her fresh food. (Her presence didn't seem to bother my animals and they didn't seem to upset her).

Google said she would probably always be wild. A feral cat, I read, that has no contact with humans in its first 2 months (the veterinarian thought she was about 3 months) will never be become tame.
 Brenda and Phil said they'd take her out to their barn but not until she'd been spayed. They have two elderly male cats and they were afraid if she came in heat, she'd draw feral toms and they'd fight the old ones.

FiFi stayed in her crate for two weeks and then I couldn't stand it anymore. She looked so miserable crouched into her corner or hiding behind a towel.

I told Jan I was going to leave the door open so she could get out. I said I didn't care whether she ever got friendly. The only factor would be whether she had learned to use the litter box (she used it faithfully in her cage). Other than that, she could be a ghost cat if that's what suited her.

She left the cage in the night. She comes out sometimes in the day time (which she never did before). Once she was laying on the rug in front of the door with Channie. She eats and drinks from the big cats' bowls in front of me. And yes, she uses the litter box! Are we making progress? I can't really say for sure. She still runs and hides under the bed if I try to approach her.

We'll give her time. I hope she'll eventually decide to trust me. I think she'll always be more of a Jezebel than a Filigree though.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Scrambled Semantics

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We Americans are like a reverse Tower of Babel. The words we say are the same but the meanings are entirely different. We talk past each other with neither side understanding what the other is trying to say, almost as if we are speaking two different languages. If this keeps up, good old Webster is going to have to start printing a conservative dictionary and a liberal dictionary.

For instance, the Paris bombings. At the Democratic debate the moderator questioned the candidates about their reluctance to use the term "radical Islam". This, of course, is something that incenses the right who accuse Democrats of being soft on terrorism because they prefer to say radical jihadism instead. They criticize President Obama because to them, he pussyfoots around and won't call a spade a spade.

Democrats don't like the radical Islam characterization because they believe it paints with far too broad a brush, in effect, putting an entire religion under suspicion. There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. They make up 22 percent of the world's population. They are .8 percent of America.

The vast majority of Muslims are not radical jihadists or radical Islamists, however you want to phrase it. In fact, as reported by Think Progress, "Muslims around the world condemn Paris bombings." So to imply, as the Republicans seem to, that we are at war with Islam itself is not helpful. Muslim countries are our partners in fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda. Muslim Americans are soldiers in our military. The Republicans make a mistake to try to turn this into a Christian versus Muslim holy war. We need the moderate Muslims in our battle against terrorism. Let's not allow our own fear and intolerance turn them away.

Three other simple words that get people passionately aroused are Black Lives Matter. Did the people who coined the phrase mean to say that only black lives matter or that black lives matter also. As a liberal, it seems clear those words should be defined as - "we want to be treated like everyone else."

We want our sons to walk down the street or play in the park and not be killed because, to whites, they look like thugs. We want to be sentenced to the same punishment as whites who commit the same offenses. We want to be treated with the same respect by police and other authorities, not shot because we're having a heart attack or tasered to death in jail because we're having a seizure. We want to be hired or not based on our qualifications and not our skin color.

But the American right has taken Black Lives Matter as a call to arms by African-Americans who want special rights. They deny that blacks are treated in a lesser manner. They pooh-pooh the idea of White Privilege. Although they've most likely benefited from it their entire lives, they simply can't see it for what it is because it feels so natural to them. Black Lives Matter protesters are simply violent criminals as far as they are concerned.

Gun control is another code phrase. Ask a liberal what gun control means to them and they'll probably first say, background checks and closing gun show loopholes and stricter penalties for straw sales. Indeed, some of them might very well say a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. But I don't know a single liberal who wants to rescind the Second Amendment. Many who support stricter gun regulations are gun owners themselves.

Ask a conservative what gun control means to them and nine times out of ten, they'll say gun confiscation. All the rest is simply trying to get the camel's nose under the tent, prior to banning all of the over 270 million guns in the United States. You can't talk them out of it no matter how hard you try.

Political correctness is another idea that puts us in a muddle. I'm not even sure exactly what it means in 2015. It began as an effort to be aware of the feelings of people not like us. How hard was it to quit calling African-Americans the "n" word if they found it offensive? Or Mexicans wet-backs? Or gays queers?

As time went on, it became a little more difficult to color between the lines of political correctness. Was it wrong to name our sports teams after Indians? A tribe name like Seminoles doesn't sound so bad but Redskins, which used to be a pejorative term for Native Americans, maybe so. Is the Confederate flag offensive to black people. Yeah, I expect it probably is.

Is it offensive to conservatives to be told Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I guess it must be. I used to send out Christmas cards without giving it a thought. I just took the next one in the box for whoever was on my list. It might be a cute little mouse or Santa or a manger scene or silver bells. It was the thought that counted, right? Then I discovered that I might have been unknowingly upsetting people so I quit sending cards.

Both sides are constantly horrified by what they consider the other's political correctness. And truthfully, both carry PCness to idiotic extremes. Little boys should not be expelled from school for eating their sandwich into the shape of a gun. Little girls should not be expelled from school for wearing a sleeveless blouse.

How did we reach the point of being convinced that we have a "right" not to be offended anyway?  We all need to toughen up. None of us get through life without experiencing hurt feelings but let's save our indignation for serious injustices.

I often listen to political talk radio on my commute. I constantly hear conservative talk show host pontificate about me - "liberals say...." or "liberals believe...."  My silent response is "hey, wait a minute, I never say that," or "That's not at all what I believe."

Presumably, conservatives believe liberals make the same wrong assertions about them.

Maybe we should try to get together and talk about it.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

And You Call Yourself a Wordsmith!


I'm a writer. I think of myself as something of a wordsmith. Who would have thought I'd have been mortified by a word?

My birthstone - August - is a peridot. My birthstone has been a peridot for 69 years.

Two weeks ago, my friend, Brenda, and I went to Decatur, Indiana. There is a store there that buys estate jewelry all year long, then during the month of October, they have a huge sale. I thought it would be a fun trip although I wasn't in the market for any jewelry.

Then I saw a peridot ring I simply had to have - a rather large peridot with diamond chips pave set into the band on each side. It wasn't simply that I thought the ring was beautiful, though I did. Rather it recalled a sweet memory. My first husband bought me a peridot ring for my 18th birthday - a 19-year-old who bought a ring he couldn't comfortably afford for his girlfriend. I remember how happy he was when he gave it to me and how happy I was to receive it.

When the son born from that marriage was a teenager, he went through a rebellious, delinquent stage. He stole the ring to sell for, I don't know, cigarettes or gas or weed. He never owned up to the theft until several years later when he apologized. I just thought I'd lost it.

So this ring made me think of that ring and of a time in my life when I was young and loved and in love.

When I took it up to the clerk (who was also the store owner), I told her that story. She looked at me rather pityingly and said, "oh, my dear, it isn't a periDOT, it is a periDOUGH."

I had been mispronouncing the name of my birthstone for almost 70 years. Did no one not want to embarrass me by correcting me? Or do most people, like me, not realize the a word spelled P.E.R.I.D.O.T.  doesn't end with a .DOT but a .DOUGH?

How can you call yourself a wordsmith when you can't correctly pronounce the name of your birthstone and continue to make the same mistake for 69 years?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

House of the Rising Son - by Trevann Rogers

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I just read a new book that was recommended to me by a friend. I almost read it simply as a favor because it didn't really sound like my normal fare at all. Except for the occasional vampire, I'm not much into paranormal, preferring gritty reality instead. So I opened my Kindle with a "okay, let's get this over with" sigh....and fell in love. I bonded with all the characters - they are witty and quirky and lovable, each in his or her own strange way. But Cheyenne is definitely my favorite as he tries to reconcile who he wants to be with who he is. He doesn't want to be an Incubus; he doesn't want to have supernatural Power, he prefers that it is his music that draws people to him.

But he discovers that it isn't easy to give up your birthright. Along the way to trying to do so, he falls in love, finds a core group of friends, saves his children from being stolen from him and manages to meld both halves of his life into happy whole. But, here, I'll let Trevann Rogers speak for herself:


Vicki, thank you for allowing me to post on your blog.  Posting here is special because even though Cheyenne and Rafe are not really alike, they occupy the same space in our hearts. 

I started writing about Cheyenne at a difficult time in my life. Getting lost in his world was an escape.  In those days I wrote short stories, many of which were inspired by music. Music is still an integral part of the world but the stories are longer.

In Vicki’s work with the police she saw many of the same situations that I saw as a social worker.  It doesn’t take much thought to see why I preferred to write about paranormal creatures living out their dreams.  And an Incubus rock star?  There is no better combination.

I still go to concerts but have broadened my obsessions to include a few actors and WWE superstars.  There are things to enjoy are all around us, but sometimes we have to go looking for them.

House of the Rising Son, my debut novel, was released on September 22, 2015 through Samhain Publishing. 


Blurb: Sex. Rebellion. Rock and roll.

Living After Midnight, Book 1

Cheyenne is a half-human incubus whose star is on the rise in the Unakite City rock scene. His father, the leader of the supernatural races, would prefer he keep a “low profile”, but screw that. Cheyenne has as much music in his veins as royal incubi blood.

Alexander’s future is all set—finish law school, join the family firm, and marry someone who’d be good for business. Not that he has a say in any of it. He’s barely met the woman his father expects him to marry.

As Cheyenne’s musical career takes off, his carefully constructed life begins to unravel, exacerbated by an ex-lover who can’t let go, a crotchety barkeeper with a dirty mind and a pure heart, a drag queen who moonlights as a nanny, and Alexander—who’s not sure if he’s falling for the incubus or the rocker.

Cheyenne denies who he is, while Alexander hides what he wants. Together, they learn that getting what they truly want means being who they truly are.

Warning: Contains hot were-tiger sex, a Thanksgiving celebration that makes the Inquisition look like a tea party, and an incubus who’ll rock your world.



"While waiting for their drinks, Alexander studied the deep grooves carved into the table, trying to ignore the friction of Cheyenne’s thigh rubbing against his as the musician tapped a heel to the thump of the DJ’s music. Once the drinks arrived, Alexander downed half the bottle before he realized Cheyenne’s large green eyes were staring at him.
“So where’s your girl, Prudhomme? I mean, Prune Danish. No, wait...”
“Prudish. Shit, Prudence,” Alexander sputtered.
Cheyenne’s eyes sparkled. “No, you got it right the first time. Where is she?”
He shrugged. “Home, I guess.”
Cheyenne cocked his head. “Oh, really?” He put his hand on Alexander’s leg. “What’s up? You can tell me.”
“It’s not working out.” Alexander dragged his teeth over his lower lip. “It’s my fault.” He couldn’t keep his attraction to Cheyenne out of his voice. “I don’t know what’s happening to me.”
Cheyenne put his thumb to his lip and paused. “It’s like the drink.”

Alexander tilted his head, not sure he heard correctly. “The drink?”

“Yeah, that nasty ass bourbon. I bet your father drinks it. Your uncles. All your friends. Everybody, right?”

He didn’t answer, but waited for Cheyenne to continue.

“It was just expected that you’d drink it too. So you did.” His hand moved up Alexander’s thigh. “But now, maybe it’s okay to drink what you like. A different brand, a better vintage. Because you want it. Because it tastes better.” Cheyenne licked his lips. “Because it feels right.”
Alexander cleared his throat and brushed his lap, pushing Cheyenne’s hand away. “I can’t.”
“If you change your mind, let me know.”

“You don’t understand. It’s not that easy. My whole life will change.”

“It already has.”

Buy House of the Rising Son here:

Barnes and Noble

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Changing Reading Habits

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My book reading and buying habits have changed a lot in the last couple of decades.

For one thing, I used to have a rule about always finishing a book once I started it. I don't do that anymore. Maybe its because I'm getting old but I no longer feel that I have the time to waste on a book that doesn't capture me pretty quickly. I'll give it a chapter, then toss it aside without a second thought if it doesn't live up to expectations.

I also had a rule about keeping a book once I bought it, especially if I enjoyed it even, if I thought I probably wouldn't read it the second time. But again, age and reality set it. My son once made a comment about me dying and leaving him with a ton (literally) of books to dispose of. After that, I started giving them away. It hurt to see some of them go, it really did, but its not like I don't have nine bookcases-ful of my very favorites left.

Of course, technology has changed book-buying and reading habits as well. When I was young and poor, I rarely bought a book, except for the occasional paperback. They all came from the library. I waited patiently for my turn for a new book by a favorite author. Beyond that, I read anything and everything they offered whether it was exactly my cup of tea or not. I discovered a lot of wonderful books that way.

Now, I buy almost all my books from Amazon and I don't have the patience to wait. I pre-order books so that I get them at the earliest possible moment.

And, more of them now come in the form of Kindle downloads than actual books. I resisted Kindle for a long while but now I'm sold on its convenience - taking one small device containing a whole library of books on vacation instead of carrying a sack of heavy hardbacks - being able to start reading a looked-forward-to book instantly - lower prices (with most classics for free) - reading by Kindle light if the electricity goes off or while waiting in a dark car.

I notice I've gotten rather quirky about my book choices. I hardly even look at titles any more. I simply go by authors. Only if I can find nothing by writers I know and trust, do I begin looking at the books themselves. (I think this is a form of stick-in-the-mud-ism.)

Similarly, I'm  almost never attracted to books by female authors. (Diana Gabaldon being a huge exception). Generally, I seem to relate much more to the male point of view. And also I pass on books in which the main protagonist is a female. I want my hero to be a man and while he can have his soft moments, I want him to be as much anti-hero as hero.

My taste for books in my older age is for grittier and more graphic fare. (My number one favorite author is Andrew Vachss.) I like Noir. For this reason, many of the books I buy are from Scotland and Ireland. They seem to have the edge on edginess there.

That's one reason I don't go to my library as often as I used to (although I do still go) - whoever the buyer is for new books is Mrs. Obvious. She buys all the mysteries that also contain recipes. She's partial to all the most popular female authors. While I'm more into blood and sex, she appears to be more into tea and crumpets. She purchases everything that appears on the Best Seller list but rarely ventures into unfamiliar territory.

Reading seems as if it would be an unchanging preoccupation but it turns out, it's not.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rafe Rides Again...

Vicki Williams Amazon Page

I continued to write my column and update my blogs after my son died but I found that fiction was simply beyond me. I could write about real things - politics and NASCAR and writing - as I do on my blogs but the creativity necessary for creating fictional characters and places and events just wasn't there.

I'd try but I'd end up staring at a blank computer screen, grasping for an idea, any idea but my mind simply balked. I wrote not a word of fiction for 4 1/2 months.

When I did decide to force myself to focus once again on a book-length piece of writing, I knew I had to start with Rafe Vincennes. Rafe is my comfort zone and my familiar. Eight of my books have been about him. I know how he thinks and how he'll react in any situation.

He isn't always a comfortable character though. He's been called a sociopath and a autistic savant. Even his own son isn't sure he has a conscience. None of this concerns him. He lives life by his own individual credo.

As a child, his father said raising him was more like raising a wild wolf cub than his other normal children and even as an adult, he's still the alpha male, guardian of his pack, always alert for danger and willing to do whatever needs to be done to protect them.

He's a champion race car driver and an actor, married to an actress who has been voted The Most Beautiful Woman in the World. She is his north star to whom he'll always return but he is chronically unfaithful. Sexual adventure is a completely different part of his life and, to him, has nothing to do with family.

Once I sat down after my long respite from fiction, I sought him out...and there he was, waiting to take me along on his adventures.

"Come on," he said, "I'll pull you out of this funk you're in."

I'm 30,000 words into my next book, thanks to my faithful sidekick. Well, really, I think it's the other way around. He's the primary who determines the action and I'm the sidekick who records it.