Friday, February 29, 2008

Pops-a Love/Hate Relationship

This is a totally off the wall relationship that I have. Many have said they're beginning to worry about me. :) Don't. Call it creativity, call it what you want...but my characters from Rock Kingdom have a mind of their own. If you don't believe me, then visit their Rock Kingdom's Citizen's blog.

It's such a thrilling moment in a writer when a character or characters they've created take a life of their own. Readers have been leaving these guys comments left and right, some good and some bad, but all in all it's such a joy from a writer's point of view to see them communicating with 'real' people.

So for those posting on their block, don't call me insane. You're leaving them posts. hehehe

Monday, February 25, 2008

Your Call

I’ve done something I’ve never done before. Let me first explain, I've studied media and marketing, and that I know just by talking about it, I am promoting this product, that marketers no longer seem to care about negativity, only that their product is mentioned. I'm doing it anyway.

After seeing a commercial twice on TV, I called the Frito-Lay company and complained about their commercial made by Goodby, Silverston and Partners. The commercial in question takes place in a laundromat with two women. In a snotty voice the older woman tells the younger, who just picked up a piece of the woman's clothing from the floor, ‘that other people are trying to do their laundry, too.’ The girl sees an imaginary Chester Cheetah who tells her, ‘Felicia, those are her whites in the dryer.’ Where upon Felicia sneaks over and puts a handful of Cheetos in the dryer. You can see this on You Tube.

Most of the comments about the commercial on You Tube seemed positive (probably from the 18 to 23 crowd who have never done six or more loads of family laundry in a laundramat – do you suppose this applies to those who dreamed this up at advertising company, too?), but I think most of the kudos were for the young actress, Felicia Day, who has at least five comedic episodes about a group of computer gamers she wrote and acted called ‘the Guild’ on You Tube. The commercial has the same insouciance as the You Tube episodes. Since I haven't seen this commercial lately on national TV, I'm assuming they placed it on You Tube to reach their target market.

The woman from Frito-Lay (I had to go to their website to find a number – and guess what? The website is aimed at children) was very polite and said Frito-Lay was always interested in their customers' views, both good and bad. I explained I love Fritos, I love Cheetos, too (just have to contain my love for these fat laden products), but told her what I thought about the commercial. She offered me some coupons and I accepted and hung up. A few days later I received an envelope in the mail with three coupons for any Frito-Lay product up to $3.49 and a letter. I guess I wasn’t the only one who was appalled. The letter stated the commercial was ‘intended to be a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted way for us to talk about Cheetos’ … and … ‘In the adult-focused advertising, Chester Cheetah has gone from a larger than life character to an inner, mischievous voice for adults.’

Speech fails me. My mind reels and spirals downward on so many levels over this whole episode. If interested, go view the commercial and form your own opinion. If you like the light-hearted mischievousness, well hell, I’ve just passed into the old fogy part of my existence and my steps have slowed too much to keep pace with today’s society. If you are impressed or unimpressed, call Frito-Lay at 1-800-352-4477. They answer the phone Monday – Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., Central Standard Time. At least the coupons pay for your time. I wonder if Frito-Lay is going to pay for all the re-dos of white laundry? Because you know some young 'adult' is going to think its just too funny to pass up an opportunity.

O, BTW put a ® next to all those brand names.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Perfectly Suited Couple

I owe my marriage to a toothache. Yes, if it weren't for my wisdom teeth, I would never have met Bill, to whom I have been happily married for almost 28 years.

It was my first semester at college and his last, and I was miserable. I wasn't homesick- although I did miss my dog- nor was I having problems with my classes. I was making friends, liked my roommate and my apartment. My homework was manageable; my professors were okay and life was generally pretty good. Except...

My wisdom teeth were coming in. All 4 of them. Two were impacted. Two were infected, and I was in pain. My throat hurt; my ears hurt. I could barely talk, could barely do much of anything. I had an appointment scheduled with my dentist but that was a week away, so I was miserable.

After class one Monday, I stopped by the Sweet Stop to get some ice cream to sooth my throat. With my chocolate shake in hand, I looked for a place to sit. Hmm, I didn't have many options. In 1978 there were a lot of Iranian students at my university, and that liked to hang out at the Sweet Stop. I had often sat and spoken with them before and found them to generally be fun to talk with. They liked talking with Americans because they were always eager to improve their English. One guy even carried around a little notepad and when he came across words that he didn't understand, he wrote them down and then showed them to the next American he came across to find out what the word meant.

But anyway, on this day my throat was sore, and I didn't want to talk to anybody. I knew that if I sat with one of the Iranians, I would have to talk to him, but I didn't have many options. All the tables were full- but wait! There was an American guy sitting at a table reading a book! If I sat down with him, maybe he would just keep on reading his book and I could sip my shake in peace. So I asked him if I could sit at his table, slid into my seat, started to open my own book, and I'll be darned if he didn't put down his book and start talking!

Unbeknownst to me, he had been sitting there wishing a beautiful girl would come and sit down across from him. Instead he got me. Oh well.
I eventually agreed to go out with him to get him to shut up. Two weeks later, after my wisdom teeth had been removed and I was feeling more romantic, he proposed to propose. ("If things keep up like this I'll be asking you to marry me.") Eighteen months later we were married.
So I owe my husband to my wisdom teeth. That and the fact that he didn't call me a "Trekkie" when he saw my Star Trek shirt when I sat down at that table. But that's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Talk is Cheap

I was reading the romance posts on this blog and it got me to thinking about my 34 year marriage (in April) and how we've managed to stay married through the ups and downs, the kids, male pattern blindness (see my personal blog for an explanation), and that catch-all "life."

My Jonesie doesn't say a lot, but what he does is what matters, something I tried to teach our kids. Talk is cheap. People will say anything, but the only thing that really matters is what they do. What someone does tells you everything about who that person is, what they believe in, and how much they care about you and others.

Case in point, years ago my dad was working on the roof of one of his gas stations. My brothers were helping, as were several other people. Some women across the fence came out to sunbath and "accidentally" let their tops fall off. My brothers were both impressed that my dad didn't bother to look. He's been a faithful husband for sixty years. He's paid his debts, forgave others their debts and been a loving father. When he gives advice, I not only listen, I follow it.

Jonesie, while different in many ways from my dad, is also very like him. He's been a good father, a good provider, a wonderful lover and a faithful friend. Kids and animals love him, well, our cat isn't a fan, but that's just because Jonesie wouldn't let the cat sleep on his face.

He's shown me he loves me, that he loves our life together, that we matter. It's nice that he's also said the words, but they wouldn't have meant much if he hadn't lived it for thirty-four years.

Romance, the true and lasting kind, takes more than sighs and words. It takes consistent action. It takes turning aside from anything that will take you away from each other. It's giving up the many great and enticing things that life throw at you, to make sure that you don't lose that person through neglect or indifference.

Anne Morrow Lindberg, in her Gifts from the Sea, points out that love is like the tide. Sometimes it goes out, but if you have faith that the tide will come in, you can wait it out. Faith is aided by the knowledge that the love you have between you is worth waiting for, that the time, the actions you've invested in the relationship are too important to throw away for short term pleasure.

I'm glad that after 34 years Jonesie can still make a thrill run down my back and my toes curl in my shoes--but I'm also glad he was there for me when I was too tired to feel my feet, let alone have them curl.

Thirty-four years ago he pledged to love me forever and for 34 years he's shown me he keeps his word.

Love isn't about proof or passing tests. Those are for schools and driver's licenses. Love is about living your feelings. It's about making mistakes and not just saying you're sorry, but showing it by mending the wrong. Love is forgiving, even when they don't deserve it.

Love isn't about letting someone hurt you over and over again.

If you want a love that lasts, let sweet words curl your toes but make sure their actions fit the words. If their actions don't match, they aren't a keeper and no amount of hope and wishing will make that frog into a prince.

Pauline, a stay at home mom, spouse and romantic, she is the author of eight novels of romantic suspense, humor and adventure. On her website she posts writing and life tips.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Break-Up Diet

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. And what a neat way to celebrate than a Break-Up Diet book. But before we go there I'd like to say something...

This year I'll be celebrating my 31st wedding anniversary to my high school sweetheart.Married with five children, we've had our ups and downs but one thing I can honestly say is that if given the chance to change anything in my past I would definetely wish to have not wasted energy arguing over petty things.

I suppose that's what growing up is all about- understanding past mistakes and making amends. It's funny, but I love that man more today than when I first cast eyes on him in high school. And this sentiment has nothing to do with Velentine's Day as much as realizing and appreciating that your Prince Charming, your happily-ever-after life is stronger today because you've both held on and worked at things as a couple. I love you, Jimmy.

This brings me to the Break-up Diet:

The Break-Up Diet: a memoir by Annette Fix goes on sale today! You can order it on or from your local bookseller.

The Break-Up Diet is the true story of a 30-something single mother/aspiring writer who is working as an exotic dancer, searching for Prince Charming, and trying to find a perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

Please visit The Break-Up Story Forum (
A place where women can go to read and share their break-up and dating stories. Check it out and join the fun!

Annette Fix is the Senior Editor for WOW! Women On Writing, an author, and spoken-word storyteller, living in Laguna Niguel, California with her Danish Prince Charming, her aspiring photographer son, and two rescued dogs.

Book Website:
The Break-Up Story Forum:

I, for one, can relate to supermom. Make sure to check out Annette's new book. Sounds like a winner.

Lea Schizas

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Laptop, a Good Idea and Thou: The Romance of Collaboration

People laugh sometimes when I tell them that my idea of a romantic evening with my husband is collaborating on a story. However, when we are working together on a story, I see again all the things that made me fall in love with Rob.

Rob is an attractive man, but that isn't what drew me to him. From the beginning, it's been his humor, his analytical skills and his ability to apply his encyclopedic knowledge that I've found admirable and, yes, sexy.

As we married and our lives joined not only spiritually but in the mundane realm of shared experiences and common goals, there was still a lot to talk about and share, but rehashing what went on at work and what the babies had done that day can get old. We've always been great communicators--a result of spending our first two years of marriage with an ocean dividing us--so when we did go on dinner dates, we needed something new to talk about.

So we started making up stories.

Our first venture, nearly 10 years ago, happened while I was writing a series on different orders of nuns and Rob was involved in Artemis Society, a group trying to establish a commercial presence on the moon. Those common experiences got us thinking that someday, humans were going to have a viable commercial presence in the solar system, and the Catholic Church would want to follow--but how? We decided on an order of intrepid nuns who did dangerous search and rescue work in outer space. By working for "air, supplies and the Love of God," they undercut the commercial competition in the S&R field and forced a path for religious in space.

"Leap of Faith" was our first story. That story has led to others--indeed to a whole universe!--and to three anthologies: Leaps of Faith (coming Summer 2008 from The Writers' Café Press), Infinite Space, Infinite God (Twilight Times), and Infinite Space, Infinite God II (accepting submissions now!)

The creative process is exciting for us. As we bat ideas back and forth and hammer out problems, I get to see Rob's mind in action in something that isn't just work related (which gets familiar and old). I can toss the most unlikely things out at him--how do you have a fistfight in microgravity? In fact, much of our collaborating is the two of us hammering out the plot, me writing, and him providing "tech support".

We laugh a lot, too, but we do that, anyway. Still, it's nice to do something with our unique (well, okay, odd) humor beside banter puns.

The key, though, and maybe it's selfish, but when we collaborate, he's focused on something that is just ours--not his and work, not ours and kids'--just his and mine together. And my focus is there, too--not on the house, the obligations of my other writing--just on what we're doing for fun. He challenges my mind to keep up with his, finding new angles, posing new situations. I feel smarter and stronger when we collaborate--and that's romantic (even sexy), too.

The past few years, Rob's work has taken away from our collaboration time, and I find I have to fight to get "storytime" with him. But he's always there when I have a question or a conundrum--and always with an answer that blows me away. We steal what time we can, and dream of the days when kids are in college and Rob's retired and we can really write together.
It's going to be amazing.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

February: Month of Romance

For some February is the longest month of the year. For me, March is the longest month because you know spring is right around the corner yet the snow keeps coming down.

But February for many is the time for romance.

My husband is my high school sweetheart. I was entering first year high school and he was in his last year. I remember entering the corner restaurant hang out and spotted him talking with a few of his friends. My heart went PING and I knew right then and there I had to meet my future husband before we got married. :)

Never happened right away. But two years later, he came back for a visit, asked me to the local school trip, and we hooked up. Funny thing is, he had a crush on me, too. Took him long enough to make his move.

We've been married since 1977, have five gorgeous kids we're proud of, ups and downs like in any marriage, but I made good on my promise to meet my future husband so long ago.

You need to love the person you're with now and not wait until something happens to open your eyes. I remember being in the car one day stopped at a red light and I happened to glance up to a building. There was a little old lady sweeping her balcony, then sat down and looked out at the traffic below. My heart fell to the floor because at that moment I realized that one day I will be that lady, alone in an apartment without my better half and since then I cherish each day I am with him.

Lea Schizas

Saturday, February 2, 2008

January's Blog!

Aaaaaaa! The blog changed January topics on me! Originally the topic for January was given to me as "Sidewalk Sales: are you a habitual 'sales' buyer?" I was planning a nice, short, succinct blog that said, simply, "No. I hate crowds and hate shopping. Next topic please."

However, I delayed too long and in mid-January, the bloggers were asking each other what the topic for the month is, and somehow in the course of the discussion, the topic switched to: NEW BEGINNINGS. It's nice to know that other people have memories as bad as mine. Since I am becoming accustomed to the vagaries of growing older, one of which is that I forget absolutely EVERYTHING, I've gotten in the habit of keeping almost every email I receive. Then I just have to remind myself to look at those emails when I want to remember something. Unfortunately, due to a really bad case of the flu that sidelined me for three weeks and then an auto accident that sidelined me for another week, I completely missed out on the discussion among my fellow bloggers about the January topic. By the time I got around to reading that particular set of emails, the topic had already changed.

So NEW BEGINNINGS it is. And I gotta tell you, I'm ready for a new beginning because quite frankly, the beginning of this year has pretty much sucked. In the previous paragraph I mentioned my bad case of flu. First, let me say that I am seldom sick. I will admit to being accident prone and to constantly being sidelined by really weird things (a brown recluse spider bite, receiving a concussion from my cat, receiving a concussion by falling in an elevator, having three pairs of broken glasses within a few days courtesy of my sharpei), but I almost am never actually sick. I may run a fever and be miserable for a day or two, but I can usually function, and certainly am never affected for more than a couple of days.

However, the Sunday before Christmas, I woke up with the worst case of flu I've ever had. My throat hurt like the dickens; I couldn't stop coughing; my head ached; my eyes hurt; I couldn't sit up without getting dizzy; I lost my voice; my temperature was spiking, and I couldn't concentrate on anything. I slept all day Sunday and woke up on Christmas Eve feeling even worse, which I'd have been willing to bet wasn't possible. So I slept all day Christmas Eve and woke up on Christmas Day feeling worse still.

[***Extremely long, boring passage about my illness moved to the bottom of this post in case someone REALLY wants to read about my three weeks of misery. I would delete it entirely, but it does have a few gems in it, such as the bit about the cats. Besides, I need to get some kind of play out of being sick for three whole weeks!]

What was I supposed to be writing about? Oh yeah, NEW BEGINNINGS. So now that I've mostly recovered from the flu (I still have a lot of congestion and a cough) and I've survived wrecking my [new] car in Austin, I am going to pretend that January just didn't happen. My 2008 is going to start in February (which is why I am writing January's blog in February!) This month I am going to write a Nobel winning novel, lose 150 pounds, earn one million dollars and achieve world peace. And next month I'm going to come back and tell you all about how I did it.

***[Here is the passage I removed in case any of you are gluttons of punishment enough to actually want to read it.]
The day after Christmas my daughter drove me to a doctor (not my regular one) who stuck a stick up my nose and then comfortingly told me, "Yep, you've got the flu. If you'd gotten here in the first 48 hours, we could have given you a shot and taken care of it, but since you waited, you'll just have to let it run its course." Like I purposely planned to get the flu on the Sunday before Christmas when the doctor's office was closed.

He assured me that I should be on the downward slope and would be feeling better in a few days, so I went home and crawled back in bed… where I stayed for the next seven days. I had no choice; if I tried to get out of bed I couldn't remain upright for more than a split second or so. I actually had to sleep sitting propped up on pillows because my lungs were so congested I couldn't breathe any other way. One time I woke up and I had four of our six cats curled up on top of me, enjoying the radiant warmth from my body (humans running temps of more than 100 make great heated mattresses!)

On New Year's Day I was still sick and was worried because I was supposed to resume my day job the next day. By this point I had been bedridden (and voiceless) for 10 days, most of which passed in a sleep-induced haze. When I woke up the day after New Year's, I immediately realized that there was no way I was going to make it back to work, so again I went to the doctor, this time seeing my regular doctor who was absolutely thrilled that I had an officially verified case of the flu. I was his first
official case this year he announced happily. I guess doctors run a pool on things like that.

However he agreed with the previous doctor that it was too late for me to receive any anti-flu wonder drugs, although he did give me a vitamin shot and a steroid shot to help dry up my congestion so I could at least get my voice back and bolster my immune system. He also said that I would not be able to return to my day job until Monday at the earliest, if then.

So back home I went and crawled back into bed, where I pretty much stayed until Sunday night, which was the 15th day of my illness. The next day I got up and dragged myself to work to attend a majorly important meeting. After the meeting I came home and went back to bed. The next day I tried again. I lasted two hours, then started vomiting and decided I'd better come back home. Wednesday I managed to make it through the morning, barely, although I don't think I actually accomplished much. I mostly sat at my computer with my head reeling, wondering if I should go home or not.

Thursday morning things finally shifted. I stood without dizziness for the first time in 19 days. My voice, although weak, was back, and I noticed a weird, strange feeling. After a few minutes of introspection, I realized what it was-- I actually felt kind of good. My body didn't ache; my throat wasn't sore, and my head was actually sort of clear. Although weak and somewhat wobbly, I was able to get through the final days of the work week without coming home early.

At first when people asked me what was wrong and I replied that I had the flu, I would get kind of an incredulous, "Oh, just the flu?" sort of response. However, I have started hearing of other people who, like me, missed the 48 hour threshold and ended up being knocked out of commission for two weeks or more by the flu.

In our society we are used to the miracles of modern medicine. Got the flu? Get a shot and get cured. Got pneumonia? Take antibiotics and get cured. Got gallstones? Have band-aid surgery and get cured.

We forget that the flu used to kill millions of people, that it used to be considered a very serious disease. I won't say I was ever afraid for my life during my three week battle, but I was concerned that I would develop a secondary infection of some type that would lengthen the duration of my illness.

We take a lot of things for granted in our world today, and I am certainly not going to make a resolution to stop doing so. I LIKE the knowledge that… (This is where I interrupted myself and got back to the topic of NEW BEGINNINGS).