28 July 2012

On Being an Emotional Sap

By Flicka Catherine (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
via Wikimedia Commons
When did being moved to tears become a bad thing? Society pokes fun at those who cry at movies, as though having empathy for what characters experience is silly or stupid. We've all done both: cried and ridiculed someone else for their sentimentality. It seems to be an American notion to suppress the expression of emotion, from the tight-lipped New England to the stoic cowboy out on the range. We're supposed to be a tough, no-nonsense, suck-it-up-and- keep-going people.

Oh we talk a good game about accepting men who cry in public (see current Speaker of the House John Boehner) but in reality, we think less of them. After all, if you can't control your own emotions, how can you expect to control anything else?

It's a contradictory condition for me. One one hand, I absolutely hate to cry. I don't do it prettily like Demi Moore does in "Ghost." My eyes puff up as red as a baboon's butt, snot runs from my nose, and my face skews into eight different directions like a melted plastic Scream mask. Then there are the noises: snork, sob, keen, wail, hiccup...never that quiet, dignified tears simply running down the cheeks thing. I refuse to allow myself to do it most of the time--especially if anyone could possibly see (or hear) me. While I can take a bit of teasing, it's quite another thing to be the subject of ridicule. 

But I have to admit to getting choked up, quite often. I'm actually an emotional sap. A giant dumpling fills my throat and tears start to well. I'll blink rapidly, breathe deeply, and force it down. Perhaps I'm fooling myself to think no one notices, but to date no one has mentioned a thing. Thankfully.

What brings this on for me? Parades, for some reason. Loss in movies: the end of childhood as in "Toy Story 3", the impeding demise of the Native American culture in "Dances With Wolves", and of course, the classic scene of What The Hell Happened To Bambi's Mother. Certain songs  bear emotional ties to people and places I've been.  "Adios, Mariquita Linda" holds my mother's memory in every note.  The children's choir singing "Cwm Rhondda / Bread of Heaven" on the beach in Rhossili Bay during the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics nearly did me in with hiraeth--homesickness for Wales. (And as I've said before, I'm not even Welsh.)

Eliciting emotional reaction is the goal of every author. Empathy with our characters, caring about what happens to them, feeling their pain or happiness, is vital. I know I'm on the right tract with a manuscript if I choke up or have tears drip on the keyboard whilst typing away. Another reason to do  my writing  when everyone else is in bed.

Just don't make fun of me for it. I'd have to kick butt to save face.

16 July 2012

Nature Be Scary!

Rain. Living in the Sonoran Desert, we are always thirsty for rain. Especially since we are in the twelfth year of drought. Normal rainfall average is supposed to be eleven inches per year; we've been lucky to get nine the past few.

Well, I think we got an entire year's worth last evening in a storm so intense it snapped power poles, flooded cars in parking lots, and generated nearly 100 calls to the city fire department in an hour--and that doesn't count the outlying fire departments.

Rain in the desert is a spotty chance. Some areas get doused, others may barely get a sprinkle. I've seen it rain in the front yard and not the back. Last night was our turn for the torrent, and I am sorry to say we were unprepared at my house.


Usually that black mucky area is grass in the winter. This summer it fried to a crackly crunch so early, we decided to not waste water trying to save it. Unfortunately, dead grass doesn't hold the soil; quite a bit washed up against the wall where the grate empties into the desert--and of course, clogged the grate. Hence the river and lake in the back yard.

On the side of the house, water backed up when debris washed up against the back gate, forming a damn dam. Where was that water to go but into my house? This has happened before, you see. When the storm is especially intense the pvc pipes under the gate can't let water through fast enough. I had just cleaned those out the other day, but that wasn't enough.

Our guest bath flooded about three inches deep and tried to flow into the carpeted hallway. We threw every towel we had at it, even sarapes, extra blankets, and old comforters. My husband wondered about the back gate as he bailed water into the bathtub with a sand bucket from my son's childhood days. Out I ran into the deluge.

When I opened the back gate, I nearly fell over from the power of freed water rushing into the yard. It was at least a foot deep. I propped the gate open, grabbed the nearest tool (which happened to be a hoe) and started digging a canal away from the house to channel the water more quickly.

It was still pouring rain. I was soaked. All I could think was, "Don't get into the room with the boxes of my books. Don't get my books."

I had already texted my son at the gym, telling him to stay put until the storm ended. What I didn't know was that the place had immediately lost electricity when the power poles snapped a mere two blocks west of there. Lightning struck the nearby JC Penneys store and water collapsed the roof.

My son told me how he ran out to the car. Sirens of ambulances, fire trucks, and police wailed non-stop. My 1995 Lexus sat between a Jag and a Corvette in a lake that had formerly been the parking lot. Luckily, the engine started and he was able to drive to higher ground, unlike the unfortunate lower-sitting cars to either side. The only damage was to the speaker system. He had to wait for the river that filled the street to recede before he attempted to drive home. He was rather upset we hadn't answered any of his phone calls, but then he saw we'd been a bt busy ourselves. He came outside and helped me dredge more mud away from the house.

I am so grateful we are all okay, that the car still runs, that the damage is just some soppy carpet. It could've been so much worse.

As my son says, "Damn, Nature! You be scary!"

02 July 2012

The Launch Par-Tay!

It's out and available today! So let's Par-TAY!

Dragon's Legacy is the third book of my Dragon & Hawk series (which stands as a trilogy at the moment). Picking up the action in 1904 Tucson where Evan and Reyna's eldest child, Jamie Jones, isn't sure where he fits in. His looks favor his Mexican heritage, but the town is changing from a sleepy Spanish culture to an increasingly Anglo influence. When a gorgeous beauty arrives from the East, Jamie determines to win her attentions. But what he doesn't know may cost him...dearly. 

So on to the Par-TAY part!
 Let's have some fun! Start at the Facebook Launch Event and check out what we have going on. I'll be posting questions/polls and we will send all contest participation back here so Facrbook doesn't get angry. 

If you win a prize, you MUST email me: authorjude@comcast.net
Don't put your email address here on the blog or it could get picked up by spammers. 

#1 One FREE PDF copy of Dragon's Legacy

#2  Three Red Dragon tattoos (temporary)

#3  An Arizona Goodie Bag of treats, info, and keepsakes from The Grand Canyon State,  specifically the locales mentioned in the series. (US residents only, sorry. Damn postage fee.) BUT for those outside the US, YOU could win a $10 Gift Certificate for Champagne Books.

#4  An autographed 4"x 6" photo candid photo of Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd  
(Taken on the set of Hornblower by a crew member, so quite rare)

#5  One FREE PDF of Dragon's Legacy

So let's have some fun!