Monday, January 30, 2006

Are there places you won't go?

Okay, I realize that's a loaded question, given that we're all writers of "sensual" romance. Get your minds out of the gutter, ladies! For once, I'm not talking about sex. I want to know, are there subjects you won't touch, whether it's in your own work, while reading for pleasure, or even in a movie? I'll give you an example: my husband will not watch movies about serial killers (and he wouldn't read books about them either, if he ever read any fiction other than the James Bond books). He gets creeped out by the whole thing. As for myself, I love Silence of the Lambs, and I just finished The Prey by Allison Brennan and can hardly wait to buy the next installment tomorrow. I, personally, have a big problem with stories that involve adultery. Now I'm not talking the "my husband beat me and I'm on the run and didn't have a chance to get a divorce but now I'm in love" kind of adultery, or even stories where couples are formally separated. I'm talking about the movies that depict a spouse who is simply bored with the status quo and decides to go bone someone just to shake things up a bit. I don't care how good the movie "Unfaithful" is, I'm not going to watch it.

ooh, but I did catch myself in my own hypocrisy there - I'm an avid fan of desperate housewives... Will have to go ponder that.

Are there subjects you won't touch? Are there elements that will ruin a book/movie/tv show, regardless of how entertaining or well written?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

What a week!

Good Lord, what a week! I left home on Thursday morning—drove from Geyserville to San Francisco with stops in San Rafael and SF at Borders stores to sign my books, (which is so absolutely fun to do!) Went first to Mountain View where I met up with author Mardi Ballou and we drove to a book signing in Santa Clara (went to the wrong store first...so dorky, but ran into one of my readers who was just as lost as we were, trying to find the signing!) then we finally found the right store and signed books to a great crowd with other authors Karin Tabke, Rae Monet, and Cricket Star until after eight. My thanks to a terrific Borders manager, Ellen Higuchi, for arranging such a fun evening. Got dinner with the others, back to Mardi’s at eleven or so and sat up until after midnight drinking "two buck chuck" and gabbing. (Thank you, Mardi...I slept wonderfully!) I woke up at seven, out the door by seven thirty, drove through rain to Stockton (two hours) and spent the day with my 84 year old mother-- took her to lunch, went to the Borders store and signed more books, took a cold shower because the hot water wasn't working, got up Sunday morning at seven, drove south to Turlock to visit my 90 year old aunt and then attend my 90 year old mother in law’s birthday party, then followed husband in his truck (with daughter and granddaughter keeping him company) back to Geyserville, through pouring rain and dark. Took three and a half hours for what usually takes 2 hours and 45 minutes...a totally white knuckle trip and one I don't care to repeat. Stopped for Mexican take out with daughter and her husband (son in law graciously bought the dinner and had it for us at their house) and then drove the 12 miles on to our house where I met up with dh and crawled into bed...I’m still toast, but damn, I signed a lot of books and had a ball at the signing! Went over 500 miles and I'm not through yet...leaving in a bit for San Francisco to go see the very last performance of the Ann Rice/Elton John musical Lestat before it heads for Broadway. Then I think I need to get my butt back in front the computer and write...

Now, if this looks like an "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" weekend, you're right. It was. But I got to spend time with Karin Tabke, Rae Monet, Cricket Star, Mardi Ballou and Jasmine Haynes (who wasn't signing but showed up to offer lots of support!) met readers who have actually READ my books and enjoyed them, and talked to a lot of romance fans. I went to half a dozen bookstores and found terrific employees willing to hunt for all the copies of my books they could find so that I could sign them, and that was a hoot! Writing is such a solitary life--just us and our imaginary characters, that getting out to interact with real people is often like a constant shot of adrenaline. This was definitely a worthwhile trip!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I love the publishing industry

No, really. I do. Stop laughing. I'm serious.

See, I stepped into writing after ten years in the music industry. Now that's some depressing stuff. My husband and I have never watched American Idol until this year, but even the people with the great voices....well, I know for a fact that 99.9% of them will never make any money with their talent. And ask anyone, I'm a *very* positive person. It's just the honest truth.

Whereas I know lots of talented writers. Who are making money and in many, many cases, making a good living via novels. How fantastic is that?

Plus, I ADORE everyone I meet in publishing. Me and my CPs have been meeting with a group of established writers for lunch once a month (check them out at www.fogcitydivas.com) and we have the best time together. The best. No one ever wants to leave the table. And it's always like this--at every RWA meeting, etc.

Off to write!
;-) Bella Andre
http://www.BellaAndre.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Grown men

Grown men are so darn cute when they get a new toy. My husband's latest toy is a Mazda Miata. He had BMW 740, but that thing was draining the cash like it was used oil. So, he traded it in for the Mazda. The best thing we ever did! Now, he's out there changing the oil and rotating the tires. Yes, there's only 3000 miles on it, and he's already rotating the tires. It's going to rain, too, but he washed that little car and now he's vacuuming it out. One spot of dirt gets on it and he washes the whole thing. He bought an outside temperature cage and a small gas can just in case he runs out (mind you, he's NEVER run out of gas in his life, I'm the one who does that). He even gave the car a name. Junior. Oh my God, he makes me smile. He's like a little boy with a new red tricycle with all the bells and whistles on it. I am getting so much amusement out of watching him.

Now, if he'll just vacuum my car at the same time...
Jasmine Haynes
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A brand new man...and dayum, he's GOOD!

Okay, so I'm working away on Wolf Tales III, my series about shapeshifting wolves, and the story is moving along the way it's supposed to, and I get to a point where my hero and heroine, who are being stalked by government agents hoping to trap shapeshifters for a clandestine breeding farm, suddenly turn the tables and the bad guys end up dead...one, two, three...only there are four of them, and before the hero can kill the fourth bad guy, my heroine stops him and says NO...he's one of us. He's Chanku! And I'm like, now wait a GD minute, folks...where the hell did that come from? And that, my friends, is why I love to write. I never know. Each book is like one surprise after another. I turn my characters loose and they tell me things I never would have figured out on my own. The secret is to give them the freedom to spin the tale their way...and Lord knows they do! From a secondary character w/o a name, I've now got Baylor Quinn, a secret government agent with an even bigger secret--he has always believed he was a shapeshifter. Has always wondered if the dreams he's had since childhood actually meant something...and now he's faced by a really pissed off male wolf and an equally frightening she-wolf, and it all comes together, and yes, he is one of them and they are willing to accept him into the pack. That's where I left off today, and I have no idea where the story will go from here, but I can't wait to get back to it, to let my fingers fly as my characters lead me into the next chapter. It's fantasy, it's fiction, it's so real it gives me chills...and I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. Damn, I love my job! And yeah, Baylor will definitely have his own book. Dayum, the man is hot!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not exactly love at first bite

A couple weekends ago I went to see a new musical, Lestat, based on Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles. Let me first go on record as saying that I had a good time that night. The music was interesting/fun/acceptable, the scenery and special effects were...um...effective. The costuming in particular was quite good.(To paraphrase one of the more telling moments in the show, "when your friends praise the costuming you know you've got a problem").

I laughed quite a bit, sometimes even because it was honestly funny. But a lot of the time I was imagining some of the snarky comments I would make to my hubby as soon as I got out of the theatre. And that was the most fun of all.

My comments weren't anywhere near as snarky as what was in the papers two days later after opening night. Both the Cron and the Mercury News had a field day with Lestat, using the phrases "Fetch the garlic and a wooden stake!", "a toothless act", and "Is simply not quite undead". On the other hand, the reviews also pointed out what was at least in my opinion the biggest problem...the script tries to do too much and as such does almost nothing right.

They have three hours to tell the story of essentially two books. By comparison the far superior Brokeback Mountain was based on a short story...just enough plot to fill a movie with a little room to expand. The result is wonderful.

But Lestat has no room to grow, or to even make room for its musical numbers. In addition to simply being a lot of material, the books are the story of Lestat, Louis, and wicked little Claudia told from two rather different perspectives, both Louis in the first book, and Lestat in the second.

In trying to be true to both books, they have to consolidate the main character's goals into as few words as possible...but he's given too many goals to work with. He is either looking for permanent companions (apparently living with him for thirty years is just too temporary for him) or a meaning to his existence, or the answer to the question "what are vampires anyway?" In trying to resolve all this, the plot grows bogged down by songs that lead no where and scenes that vary between confusing to more confusing. It is just too much information to get across.

Something for all of us to remember when doing our own books.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Titles

I know that titles are important for catching a reader's eye amongst ALL the books out there that are available. A title also tells the reader a bit about the book. Historical titles are different from contemporary titles which are different from suspense titles which are different from erotica titles. Yeah, a lot is said with a title. But more than that, for me, a title drives the book.

When I first came up with the title for my first Jennifer Skully book, Sex and the Serial Killer (which by the way, came to me as I was driving home from an RWA meeting), I had a description of my hero and why he was called a "serial killer." In the small town in which he lived, everyone thought he was a serial killer because he always had dead animals in his yard, he painted like John Wayne Gacy, he'd once starred in a porn film, and he bought rubbermaid containers like the ones Jeffrey Dahmer used to store body parts in. Of course, there were stories behind all of these things, but for me the book was about how incorrect impressions drive people to take action or jump to wrong conclusions. But with a title that had "serial killer" in it, eventually I realized that there MUST be a murder somewhere in the book. See, for me, the title DROVE the action of the book. If I'd called it something like...Wrong Impressions (bad, I know, but I had to come up with something), then I don't know if a murder would have occurred. Much of the book was driven simply by the title and that one long sentence about the hero. Both amused me immensely as I was on my way home.

So, the reason I bring this up is that my Berkley editor wants a new title for my Jasmine Haynes January 2007 release (yes, I have a release date now, yippee!). The first novella in the book was called The Sex Club and was put out by my liquidsilverbooks.com publisher. It fit the concept of the first story. But my editor didn't want to use that title for the new book with two other stories added. The working title for the contract was The Passion Club, but that never really sat well with me. So now, we need something new and provocative. I haven't a clue. Because for me, the title has to tell ME something about the book. So I'm thinking, thinking...

And that brings me to my question for all of you. How do titles work for you? Does the title drive the book, as it does for me? Do you have to have a title first before you even begin writing? Do you decide on the title at the end after the book is written?
Jasmine
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Monday, January 16, 2006

the romance of a romance writer's life

Here I sit in my velvet robe, my long, slim cigarette hanging from my lucious, red lips, my newly manicured, blood-red finger tips typing my latest masterpiece, not a lustrous strand of hair out of place.

Not.

I fed my son breakfast--most of which he flung onto my pants--and then I took him for a walk--during which he fussed loudly and said, "Night Night,"--but then when I put him to bed he only slept a 1/2 hour--at which point I got him to end his screaming from the crib and wiped the poop from his butt--buckled him in the minivan and drove to the post office to mail off the bookmarks I'd promised reader's since late December (sorry!! i love you all!!)--finished writing twelve pages today--(hooray!!!)--and now I'm paying bills.

It's all good, of course, albeit the polar opposite of glamour. ;-) Tell me, how do you spend your oh-so-glamorous day?

;-) Bella Andre
http://www.BellaAndre.com

Sunday, January 15, 2006

My amazing critique partners...or, it takes a village.

I've just finished a novella that needs to go in the mail on Tuesday, but first I sent it to my critique partners. I'm lucky enough to have some amazing talent at my disposal--people who don't automatically hit the delete key when I send an email with an attachement, a subject line that generally reads "HELP" in all caps and a priority tag on the message. I sent my novella to seven people and got six critiques back within twenty-four hours. (The seventh person was in the hospital, only I didn't know it at the time.) Did I say my CPs were goddesses? :-) What is so cool is that every one of them found something different that needed work, and every single comment will make my story better. I remember hearing Hilary Clinton's speech where she said it takes a village to raise a child, and I immediately thought how I could apply that to my own life. It's so easy: It takes a village to write a book, from the online friends we go to for information, to the amazing writers willing to take time from their busy schedules to read and fix mistakes and share ideas. I've written before about the powerful community of authors. It's definitely something powerful and awe-inspiring, and I'm proud to be among such a terrific group of people.

I could smack George Eliot

Spoiler alert: Is there anyone else out there besides me who never before read The Mill on the Floss? If you haven't and you intend to, you might want to stop here.

For everybody else, did you want to throttle George Eliot when you came to the end of the book? I've actually been a George Eliot fan since the ninth grade (a long time ago), when I read Silas Marner. Over the years, I've, with pleasure, dipped into her oeuvre, but somehow had never experienced Mill. As I was going through the book recently, I once again appreciated Eliot's skill in writing. Yeah, the book is overlong, fine for nineteenth-century standards, more of a challenge to stick with in our ADD era. But underneath the excess, I could see Eliot working her craft. Raise the stakes. Torture your characters. Man, she kept doing that.

But, for some reason (maybe denial), I anticipated the HEA (happily ever after) ending that I've come to regard as normal (even though I've just sold a story where it's hard to view the ending as an HEA in the traditional sense). Heck, I craved for Mill to have an HEA because the characters I'd come to care about deserved it. I wasn't exactly sure how Eliot was going to pull that rabbit out of the hat she'd created, but that's part of what kept me reading.

Eliot's ending hit me in the face with the force of a slap, and I howled. It was definitely not an HEA for the characters I was rooting for. George Eliot, or rather Mary Ann Evans, or whatever the heck you want to be called, come back and explain yourself! Why'd you end the story the way you did (sniffle, whine)?

It's a good day when

I have a day job. Greeting customers with an "Hello, how are you" is a daily activity. Often elderly gentlemen will jokingly reply, "If my name isn’t in the obituaries, it’s a good day."
I’ve always responded with a chuckle at their joke until one day a few years ago.
Secrets had made a deal with Doubleday Book Club. Two volumes of the Secrets anthologies would be printed in hardback. Since I was in Volume 3 and in Volume 5 that meant two hardback Doubleday printings.
Wow. I wasn’t just in paperback, now I was in hardback along with Angela Knight and Mary Janice Davidson. Cool!
I ordered the books. When I received the hardback with Volumes 5 & 6 I was as thrilled as when I’d received Volumes 3 & 4. Eagerly, I tore open the cardboard mailing box and plucked out the book. When you’re in hardback, you're allowed a yahoo.
Secrets prints a section before the story called To My Reader giving the author the opportunity to address the reader. At the end of the story, Secrets prints a short paragraph about the author.
And there it was in print.

About the author:
B.J. McCall lived in Southern California, but recently passed away.

Holy crap! Not a good day!
My publisher had written my obituary and we all know if it’s in print or on the internet, it’s true!!!
Thankfully, this misprint is limited to the Doubleday printing and not the paperback edition. So periodically I pick up the book, flip through the pages to my obit and grin. I've beaten the grim reaper once again.
BJ

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Second Chance Romance

See, all I have to do is go down to the coffee shop with my husband for that first strong cup of the day, and I figure out what to blog about!

My newest HQN I'm working on (proposal due at the end of the month) is a second chance at love tale. Second chance meaning doing it all over again with your ex-spouse. I mentioned this setup to a friend of mine who said she didn't like second chance tales involving divorced couples. Once you've blown it, you've blown it and there are no second chances. But I happen to love these kind of stories. People with a painful history who made big mistakes the first time around, but learned something in the ensuing years, figuring out where they went wrong and somehow finding a way to get past it. For me, that's the stuff of fantasy. It's like remembering your first love (assuming you didn't stay with your first love) and seeing how you could have changed the outcome. What would your life be like if you'd done "this" instead of "that." Okay, maybe you're extremely glad you did "that" instead of "this," because you wouldn't want that dweeb in your life for anything. Personally, that's me. I know it was a good thing I ditched him (or was it the other way around?). But what if you still think about him sometimes...and wonder.

Anyway, that's my question for all of you. What do you think of second chance romance tales? And if you're very brave, you can share a personal experience.
Jasmine
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Love Good Train Wreck

Every season, I say I won't watch it. That I can't stand another 12 weeks of watching overly made up, starved to the point of angry psychosis women frolic in a hot tub with a single, unworthy suitor. And yet, on my tivo this morning, there it was.

The Bachelor.

And after last season's debacle with that buffoon Charlie O'Connell, I think ABC has picked a winner. Why?

a) the bachelor is totally hot, in a burly, brawny, cornfed all American kind of way. Like if poetry spewing nancy boy Ryan Sutter (who that midget-handed, baby talking, annoying as all hell Trista picked on The Bachelorette) actually had a pair. And he’s a doctor who graduated from Duke, so he may actually have a brain.

b) the chicks are already going psycho, like the 33 year old doctor who told him she was ready to “reproduce,” and then flipped out when he didn’t pick her. Then she proceeded to grill a hapless production assistant on why he thought the bachelor didn't pick her.

SWEET!

But every time I watch, I get a little nauseated, watching these women regress back to junior high, channeling the most evil incarnation of their inner 13 year olds. But I can’t stop. Instead I sit on the couch in smug superiority at their antics, amused and horrified that these (for the most part) attractive, successful, otherwise normal women would embarrass themselves on national television and convince themselves they’re madly in love with some joker after only a handful of dates.

And yet I write in a genre where couples fall in love at madly accelerated rates, are engaged to one another within weeks, and sometimes days of meeting each other. Maybe it’s our fault, perpetuating the romantic myth for these women to buy into, causing them to abandon all dignity and sense of self for a chance to land the so-called perfect man as defined by ABC television. Maybe…

Nah.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

High School Reunion from Hell

High school was an especially painful part of my agonizingly protracted awkward age. For the first three years I was overweight and got great grades. Senior year I went to a diet doctor who gave me pills he couldn’t legally dispense today. Lost lots of weight, did finally get a social life, and got such awful grades that I was booted out of Honor Society (fortunately my college didn’t look at senior year grades…). Broke up with my boyfriend the afternoon of the senior prom. Convinced a gay buddy to be my escort.

Fast forward twenty years and my foray to a high school reunion I wasn’t going to go to until the last minute: My sixteen-year marriage had blown to hell, I had a crummy job selling shoes at Macy’s, but I looked great. Against my better judgment I went to (crashed) my reunion, in part to connect with an old friend who hated high school as much as I did. Connected instead with a very wrong guy, left the reunion with him, had the worst night of my life (too nasty to talk about) and pretty much lost my friend (deserved).

Fast forward many more years: Sour attitude to high school and reunions has fossilized into solid bedrock. I turned my feelings into a fantasy—Réunions Dangereuses, my Ellora’s Cave Quickie coming out Weds. (1/11).

Do you want to share your high school reunion experiences or fantasies here? Nasty ones very welcome. Okay, so if you have a nice cheery one, you can post it, too. Hey, I’m broadminded.

Curmudgeonly yours,
Mardi

http://MardiBallou.com

The wonderful community of authors...

This last week has been absolutely wild. I started watching the rankings at Barnes and Noble online (the rankings at Amazon for Wolf Tales are so-so, not nearly as captivating!) and my book just kept getting better and better. About mid week I happened to check under Erotica bestsellers, and damned if Wolf Tales wasn't #1! I have no idea how long it's been there, but you can probably guess I spent a lot of time going into to check and see if it was still in position. Then last night before going to bed I checked at Amazon. To my utter dismay, someone had posted a really nasty and mean spirited review about Wolf Tales. Now, I don't mind the one star review and imagine I'll get more of them--what bothered me was the fact this reviewer took the facets of my book that make the romance work and wrote about them as if they were filth. It made me sick to read what she'd said, and I'm usually pretty tough about that sort of thing. My first thought was, how do I get this off the front page of my "site" at Amazon.com? I went to a couple of authors lists and explained that I'd gotten a really nasty review and asked if anyone who had read Wolf Tales could please go in and review it. I didn' t care if they loved or hated the book--I only wanted to see that horrible review pushed off the page! What happened last night and this morning has made all the negatives about the review fade away. From the wonderful, supportive comments on the various lists to some of the most spectacular reviews I've ever received, my fellow authors came through and supported me in a way that was absolutely overwhelming. It's left me with a serious case of the "warm and fuzzies," and a sense of the community of writers that is absolutely powerful. Sometimes this business can be truly cutthroat, but other times, times like these, I'm reminded what terrific people there are in the writing community and what strong allies they can be when we really need a friend. It's been a wonderful, humbling experience and I'm feeling extremely lucky to do what I do--write. It allows me to be part of a most amazing group of people.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

And the Time Suck Website of the day is...

I just spent 20 minutes of valuable nap time here: myheritage.com.
It's a website for facial recognition software, and you can upload a photo of yourself, have it scanned, and it will tell you what celebrity you most resemble, with both flattering and horrifying results. For example, I either look like Katie Holmes (ew!), Isabella Rosselini (maybe a better fit), or Julia Roberts (not even close!). My husband, on the other hand, allegedly looks like Jeff Bridges (not bad if you think of him in the Star Man days), Tom Cruise (oh my god, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little), or.... drum roll please.... Chelsea Clinton!

Oh my God, I could have fun with this for hours....

For all we do...

...I think women deserving pampering. I mean, we cook (ordering take-out is considered cooking because we do the providing, doesn't mean I have to slave over the hot stove). We clean (hiring someone to do it for me counts, because the house is, after all, clean). We do laundry (yes, yes, I do, with my own two hands, and I even fold the underwear military style, though I refuse to match socks since they're all alike anyway). We walk the dog and doo poop patrol (we call Star Sir Poops-alot even if she is female). We do the dishes (which means I throw out the take-out containers, but that takes time, you know!). We wash the car (the line at the car wash takes forever to get through!). We empty the trash (actually, I nag at my husband until he empties the trash, but nagging is very hard work). We type up our husbands' term papers (he claims I'm such a good typist that he doesn't want to steal the pleasure from me). We pay the bills (it took an extraordinary amount of time to set everything up on autopay) and we balance the check book (okay, I admit that's an outright lie, I haven't balanced my checkbook in five years. Doing bank recs as an accountant soured me on the whole process). And then, on top of all that, I write seven days a week (well, I do spend an awful lot of time on email as well, but that's promotion! Isn't it?)

So today, for all I do, I'm going to have my nails done. And enjoy a good gossipfest. And I'll pick up the pizza on the way home.
http://www.skullybuzz.com

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hi ho, it's back to work I go

The holidays are over for another year. (insert whimper here)

For the first time in several years I had enough vacation left over at the end of the year to actually take the entire time off between Christmas and New Years and so was actually off for eleven days straight. So, what did I do?

I wrote. My WIP, a sequel to All Night Inn, is now nearly 30K words, which makes me pretty happy. But now I'm back at the day job, which isn't so bad, but does tie up quite a bit of my day. Good thing I've got nights and weekends or the rest of the book would never get finished.

Cheers,
Janet/Cricket

Bella goes to Church

Well, not quite...

I can't believe I almost forgot to blog about my brush with the church last month....You see, my Chiropractor is Mormon. Really mormom. Like takes a day a week to counsel the congregation, had the Book of M on both coffee tables in the waiting room (so annoying...but whatever). When I told him about my books, he was surprisingly cool about it all. Said something to the effect of, "Wow, those sound steamy. I'll have to make sure my wife picks up a copy."

So then, I did an interview with our small town paper about my book. Like usual, the writer asked about people's responses to erotic romance. I told him, honestly, that every single person I've told has been supportive. Even, and I quote, my Mormon Chiro.

Well, can you blame him, the writer loved that and it went into the article. I had a good laugh when I read it, Jami had a good laugh when I read it to her, and then I went in for an appt a week later.

Mr. Chiro opens with, "You got me into a little hot water last week," and me being me, I'm all like (see I am a born and bred Cali girl--I say "all like" in regular conversation!), "Huh?"

Turns out The Mormon Church called him. (Had to put it in italics because I'm not really sure what that means. But I'm thinking it's not good.) Hunted him down, actually. Went through every Mormon chiro in our town (how many are there you might ask? evidently lots...) and asked if I was their patient until they narrowed it down to him.

He fessed up. Hadn't read the article. Had it read to him in firey tones from the pulpit. Trouble ensued. Backpedaling on his part. Burning at the stake, or something like that...

Still, I think he should have come to my booksigning like he'd promised, don't you think?

;-) Bella Andre
http://www.BellaAndre.com

It's the little things...

There was an interesting column in our local paper this week about dealing with the little things, how we let them bug us and drive us nuts and stop us from doing what we want to do. My first thought, of course, was "how true!" I can't write now because the laundry isn't done, I can't write now because I need to go to the store, I can 't write now because...you get my drift. Of course, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the little things keep us from worrying about the big things--the fact our country is at war, that the global economy scares me because I don't understand it, crime is rampant and uncontrollable and, for those of us in California, the "Big One" could hit any moment. That's when I realized I need the little things. I like having lots of little worries to keep my mind off the big stuff. I can take those little worries and keep them under control, deal with them or ignore them as I see fit and complain about them, but they're within my scope of understanding...essentially under my control. I've got a sign on my office wall: Don't sweat the small stuff. Maybe I need to rethink that one. Enjoy the small stuff...it's a lot easier to deal with than the things we can't control.

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