Friday, November 11, 2005

Off to New Orleans in 3 Weeks

In just three weeks, I'll be heading to New Orleans. Honestly, I don't know what to expect. I have this image of NOLA in my mind from my previous visits, and then I have the images from the news on TV and in papers and magazines. Then I read articles and blogs online where people are saying it is so much worse than anyone can even imagine. At this point, I don't know how far into the city beyond the French Quarter I will be able to go. I'm flying in and am not getting a rental car. And I don't know if any of the city's areas are closed off at this point.

Admittedly, I am curious to see what this area looks like now. But that is not the reason I'm really going to New Orleans. I'm going to support the city and all the wonderful people I met there. I'm going to help clean up a cemetery. I'm going to meet new people and conduct interviews so that they can have their stories heard. I'm going because I feel the pull to be there. This is the next step.

My husband and I aren't millionaires, far from it. Neither one of us came from families with money. So while growing up I learned how to make a difference in ways that didn't cost a lot of money. Throughout my youth, I felt my best way of making a difference was with my writing. I wrote about important issues for school papers and also wrote a lot of things that I kept to myself or shared only with friends. While I wasn't making a difference to the world, I was making a huge difference to myself. As I grew as a writer, I was able to eventually come out of the shyness I was seemingly born with.

Eventually all my thoughts and ideas grew into Girls Make a Difference, a program I held for girls age 9-14 for five years. I kept the program free because I wanted all interested girls to be able to join. It was wonderful while it lasted, but it was year-round time consuming and was taxing on my bank account. It was time to move on. And writing was calling me.

I decided to write a book. Would it be fiction? Non-fiction? What would it be about? I tried to write a novel. It seemed good at the time, but then I lost interest in the story. It's still rattling around in my head, but I know my true calling is non-fiction. I love doing research. Always have. I love learning new things and figuring out how the new things fit in with the old things I've known. In two years, "Cemetery Walk" was born. And in the middle of that, "Epitaphs Magazine" was born.

I write for a living. I work for Palmer College of Chiropractic in the marketing and communications department. I'm a writer and editor. I edit a monthly newsletter, I write scripts for various video projects, and I do anything else that falls in the category a marketing specialist would take care of. Chiropractic plays an important role in my life. It's primary health care for me and my husband, and the results are excellent.

But while chiropractic is great and I enjoy working to promote it, it is not my calling. I know people who are supposed to be chiropractors, and they are great. I know, though, that for me there is more to my writing than newsletters and brochure copy. There's another book in me, and right now it's waiting to be found in New Orleans.

So if you are in New Orleans and want to say hi, let me know. I'll meet you at Cafe du Monde. It's open, you know!

All the best,

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

If you want to self-publish with a POD ...

If any of you are interested in self-publishing your own book (whether fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art, photography, children's, etc.) and you are looking for a print-on-demand company, you might consider AuthorHouse. That's who I went through for my book "Cemetery Walk."

If you have any questions about the process or what the experience of working with a print-on-demand (POD) company is like, feel free to e-mail me at I'll be honest with you about my experience. There are definite positives and negatives to PODs, but for me at the time, it was the right way to go. If it is for you, check them out. One thing that is very cool is the ability to check your sales online. It's pretty cool.

If you do decide to go with, please mention that I referred you. They have a referral program.

Good luck!

Minda Powers-Douglas

Friday, October 28, 2005

Looting and Pillaging

It has been a while since I've blogged. I have excuses, of course. I will share them with you now.

I've been working nearly 70 hours per week between my two jobs as well as planning my book launch event, etc. The book launch took place last Sunday. It was fabulous. More later.

Last night I worked at the Halloween store. It is the second day I've worked this week. While I have been used to the store getting cluttery and downright messy, nothing had prepared me for what I was going to step into Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. (when my shift started). The store is quite large for a temporary business. It is located in a strip mall, and the space it occupies was once an appliance store many moons ago, I'm told. We have nearly every costume imaginable (except some obvious ones, but we only get what we get from corporate), a bunch of props, fake blood, lifesize and ridiculously large rats, fog machines, things that light up, things that talk (waaaay too much), zillions of latex masks ranging in price from $9.99 to $59.99, Halloween make-up, oodles of false eyelashes, vampire teeth, slutty costumes (also known as Legs Avenue), fart machines, dozens of children's Spider-man costumes in one size only (7-10), obscene costumes (including "Tricky Dick" the inflatable penis costume, which we apparently have sold out of), hundreds of wigs, flying bats, styrofoam tombstones, and many other items many people feel they need to have or at least pick up and put down somewhere else in the store.

I am a temporary employee. I make not a whole lot an hour. I have not complained about this because overall I have enjoyed working at the store and helping people shop for the holiday I love. In fact, I've been priding myself on my customer service, keeping the store in good order, sweeping up feathers and such with the little push-roller non-electric Hoover, etc. What a fun job, I had said to myself many a time.

Then the disillusionment began to set in. A few weeks ago I realized that one of my co-workers was really good at telling people what to do, yet not doing a damn thing except sitting on his ass and occasionally checking people out at the register. There is more to life in the Halloween store than attending the register. There is much clean-up and restocking to do. It is not a difficult job. In reality, a trained monkey could probably do it. Pick things up and put them in their appropriate sections in the appropriate spaces. We don't have to price anything, as the items come priced and ready to be put up.

We wear orange shirts. After all, it is a Halloween store, and orange is a seasonal color. It's also easy to pick us out of the crowd. Yet not all of my coworkers wear their shirts. I do not believe it is because they have a disdain for orange as much as they do not want to be recognized as staff. I wear my shirt every time I work, because we are supposed to. For me, this is not a hard concept. I'm also one of those wacky people that tends to follow the rules.

I also do not steal. This is another concept that some of my co-workers allegedly do not understand. Supposedly, a strip mall neighbor saw one of our workers (in this case I use that term loosely as he is not real keen on actually working) waiting out back by our dumpster for his friend's van to pull up. Then he opened the dumpster and pulled out bags of merchandise and put it in the van. As we do not have a register behind the store by the dumpster, I can only assume these goods were, as kids these days say, "hot."

On top of this, I still do not steal. But it seems that others do. I just found out that one of my favorite co-workers was accused of stealing money from the cash registers one night while closing. The money was accidentally left in the cash register by this young woman, so she left a note for the morning people to explain (after closing down the registers, you can't get back into them--a manager has to open them again). The person who opened the next morning reported that the money was missing. He, who is also among the losers who do not do a damn thing in the store, accused my young female co-worker of stealing the cash. I wish I had known about this sooner, as I was the other person closing that night. I saw the money in the drawers and saw her shut them. I was there when she wrote the note and say she hoped she wouldn't get in trouble for leaving the money in the registers (this was a policy that changed recently, so she shut the drawers out of habit).

When the female manager, who is way cool and on top of things, told the owner what happened, he did not believe her. Why? Because the loser who does not work told the owner that the girl did it. The manager told him that it was most likely the loser who did it, because he's been getting away with murder for months. The owner dismissed everything she told him. My young co-worker turned her key in. I had been wondering why I hadn't seen her for a while. This girl is a very hard worker and is dedicated to doing a good job. The manager says that since she (the manager) has no penis that the owner won't listen to her. I told her to wear the big inflatable penis costume the next time she talked to the owner. Perhaps he'd listen then.

Now to the looting and pillaging.

People are animals. That is a generalization, but if you stepped foot into the Halloween store this week, you'd agree.

to be continued

Monday, October 17, 2005

The local star, that's me.

For all you Quad Citians, I'm somebody! Reporter and arts and entertainment editor David Burke did a story on me for the Quad-City Times on Sunday, Oct. 16. It was the cover of the Arts & Entertainment section. I mean it was the cover! A HUGE photo of me peering through a mausoleum gate. Ironically, it was the same mausoleum I had my picture taken in front of for the Argus/Dispatch a few weeks ago for the Oakdale Memorial Gardens cemetery walk. But it looks totally different to those not as familiar with Oakdale as me (and Dustin, who even drove by while I was being interviewed--such a hard-core taphophile).

The long of the short of it (or something like that):

- The "Cemetery Walk" book launch event is this coming Sunday (hooray!!!). I have no idea how many people will show up. A good number have RSVP'd, and then there's the newspaper article announcing it. It could mean millions. Okay, maybe hundreds. Okay, maybe 100. I'm game.

- Mom is on food and decoration shopping detail. She and Grandma were working on some table decorations tonight. My friend Katie and I also shopped online for wonderful things. It's a Mardi Gras theme.

- One of the food items is called Plantation Curried Fruit. I am so excited about that! Plus, I'm making my famous (at least I think so) Minda's Huck Finn Sweet Potatoes, which were formerly known as Minda's Sweet Potatoes. I added the Huck Finn in homage to my buddy Mark Twain ... and because I was inspired to make them because of a dinner theater performance of "Big River" at Circa '21.

- I dropped off one more coffin press kit today. This one went to Barnes & Noble at NorthPark Mall in Davenport, Iowa. Bill and I also dropped by Borders in Davenport last night, and I talked to Terry. He apologized for not ordering my book sooner. He's already gotten requests for my book! Wow!!! How cool is that? Hopefully that book signing there will come soon. And, of course, I want to do one at Barnes & Noble.

- As my job with the Spirit Halloween store will be ending in a few weeks, I've decided to apply for another part-time job. I decided on Barnes & Noble, as I love books, I've worked at a bookstore before, and it's pretty close to Palmer (my day job). A few years ago I worked at Borders and really like my old co-workers there (Troy, Terry, Brandon ... and Jen is she's still working there). But they had me in the cafe, and while I love making espresso drinks, I do not like making food food. As a mostly vegetarian person, handling meat and such is totally gross to me. So if I did get hired back there, odds are they'd put me back in the cafe. No thank you. If Barnes & Noble offers me cafe work, I'm going to say no thank you. I've got to do something I know I will enjoy or it won't be worth the extra time away from my husband and the time taken away from my book and magazine stuff.

Why am I looking for an extra job, you may be asking? Because I want to finally pay off some medical bills that have been hanging around, and because I want to start saving for my next trip to New Orleans. I really want to go down for Mardi Gras 2006. They're going to have it, and I want to be there to celebrate the rebirth of the most beautiful city on earth.

- My cat Shakespeare misses me and is having separation anxiety issues. Our other girl India is pretty much upset because two nights a week she has to wait a few extra hours for her dinner. She weighs 20 pounds and is only 3 years old. She's a big baby.

- I'm waiting to hear back from a local music store about jazz funeral musicians for my book event. Cross your fingers that Jason finds some people for it!

- It seems some magazine subscribers mags have either gotten lost in the mail or were accidentally overlooked. Unfortunately, since I'm the only one running and working the show, this has happened. Fortunately, my subscribers are the nicest people on the planet and understand. You guys rule.

- I wish everyone from out of town could make it to the party this weekend. You guys are always with me in spirit, though.

- Say a prayer for my grandma, please. She's going in for a test tomorrow. Send some good energy her way.

- To read the QC Times article from yesterday, click here =

- has surpassed the 6,000 mark. Hooray!!!

Well, that's it for me tonight if I want to go to bed kind of on time. First I need to do laundry, which I forgot again until just now. Got to wash my Spirit Halloween shirt for tomorrow night! Work work work! If you're in the area, stop in and say hi.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Spirit Halloween Superstore, how may I help you?

If you call the Davenport Spirit Halloween store, you will hear that on the other end of the line--and you might just be talking to me! Yep, I got a part-time job at the local Halloween shop. And it's not just any run of the mill spooky store--it is the area's craziest and biggest Halloween store! For a part-time job, it's pretty sweet. I mean, I am the cemetery grrrl after all.

It all started when I was kicking around the idea of getting a part-time job for the holiday season. With the ridiculous gas prices (which are completely uncalled for and unnecessary, thank you, Mr. Bush and evil corporate cronies), a new car and the holidays coming up, times are tight. On top of that, I've got a book and magazine to promote! That takes time and money, my friends. I've got to save money up for the book tour, you know. A self publisher is far from rich! (at least for now ;-)

So I happen upon the listing for the Spirit store. How perfect! It's only through Nov. 1, and it's HALLOWEEN! Perfect. This way I can decide if part-time on top of full-time on top of book and magazine will work for me, and it's only for a month. And it's HALLOWEEN! And I love it. What a sweet job! I get to be in a huge store chock full of Halloween craziness. It's perfect! I get to help people, who are mostly very nice. And I also get to fully appreciate the proper upbringing I got from my parents. Because, let me tell you, there are some kids who are obnoxious. But worse than that is the fact that THEIR PARENTS are worse than they are! First of all, the kids act like they were raised by psychotic wolves (because I honestly think wolves could have done a much better job of raising decent kids). Tossing things around. Putting mask after mask on. Tossing them aside. Licking them.

Important aside: I highly recommend to my intelligent readers that you DO NOT ever buy a mask at a store unless you have the intent of Lysoling the hell out of it once you get that sucker home. You can't imagine how many people try those things on EVERY DAY. Cootie central. Better yet, go to and order one off of the site. A brand new one. It will be worth it.

Back to the losers that come into the store. While I don't mind straightening up--because things just get messy--there is a big difference between normal messiness and people who are just a**holes. You know what I'm talking about. And don't get me started about the people lifting costumes or other items. Yes, the costumes and such can be pretty pricey. But that's life. And if you are stealing items, you're making the prices shoot up that much higher. It's like our gas prices ... thieves are in charge of the oil, and it is the thieves that price the gas ridiculously high. Long story short: don't steal, freaks!

But aside from the random idiots of the area, work at the Halloween store is sweet. And they pay me to do it! I get to help people find wacky items. People are usually in a good mood, as they're looking for costumes and props and stuff for an upcoming good time.

Another word to the wise. No matter where you go, it's pretty much the given rule that if it's a Halloween item, there are no returns. That's just the way of the holiday world. People are all about returning something they wore to a party "but didn't get dirty." Not everyone, mind you, but enough to make this rule a rule. We're not the only store that does this by a long shot.

Anyway, though my feet are tired (three day in a row of long shifts on my feet, and I'm a sore footed wuss! Desk jobs will kill ya!), it was a fun day. Right as we were closing, I got a call from a woman who wanted a costume in a plus size. I went over and found a couple for her and described them. What do they come with? How big are they? I tell her and tell her the size suggestions, etc. Can you take them out and see how big they really are? Will they fill a person of such and such size? I was on the phone a good 10 minutes with her. I thought she was going to have me try it on to see if it would fit HER! Geez, lady, I don't know what you even look like! She was very nice, though, and appreciated the help I gave her. No problem. I'm here to help.

Well, I'm also here to see my beloved husband, who is dozing on the couch. His band played for a kids Halloween program today. With my new evening and weekend schedule at Spirit and his evening and day hours and Saturday hours at the museum, we don't see each other nearly as much as we're used to. We miss each other! So I'm going to snuggle up with him and watch a scary movie and drink some hot cocoa. Sounds like a perfect night to me.


Check out the new book! It's on the site!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The magazine and the book are done!!!

At long last the wait is over. "Epitaphs Magazine" was available for the first time this past Saturday (during the Oakdale Memorial Gardens' Forget-Me-Not event), and my book "Cemetery Walk" is now for sale online! What a week!

And now, in order to supplement the selling and buying of books and such, I have taken on a new thing--a part-time job! I am now the newest employee of the Spirit Halloween Store! I'll be working there through the end of October. I'm looking forward to it. Me and Halloween? What a match!

So much to share, but Bill just got home from work (he had to work at the museum until 9 p.m.). Need to spend time with my hubby!


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Links About Our Current Times

In Exile - NOLA
by Abram Himelstein, who ran The Neighborhood Story Project in New Orleans until forced to flee by Hurricane Katrina. He's staying with family in Houston, trying to piece his life together and find the children he once taught to write. He'll blog his experiences here. (Incredibly well-written and thought-provoking. Start reading from the bottom up to go in order.)

"Katrina's Real Name: Global Warming:
Knowing what it means to miss New Orleans

My husband and I never lived in New Orleans, but we have discussed the possibility many times. If it weren't for the heat much of the year, we just might have made the move to NOLA. There is something about the city that gets inside your skin. Its beauty, its complex history, its mix of people. When we visited in the summer for our first wedding anniversary, you couldn't walk down to a new street corner without hearing "Summertime."

Before Katrina, I missed New Orleans every day. I have postcards of her in my cubicle at work. I decorated our bedroom with Mardi Gras masks, framed vintage postcards and a vintage decorative plate. There's an old map of the Quarter framed in our kitchen as well as a collage frame of pictures of Bill and I from that anniversary trip. Before Katrina, there were already reminders of the city that stole my heart. Now I wonder, as we all do, when that city will return.

As of late last night, I heard from the last acquaintance of mine from the area. Rob and his family are okay. The Priestess and her partner are okay. Deb and her family are okay, Ericka and Ryan are okay. I am so very relieved. My heart still aches for those who have been lost, though. How can it not? How can any of us not feel the loss of so many?

Last December, when Bill and my parents and I visited NOLA, I met Priestess Miriam. As a tour group shuffled through the store and back room of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, she said, "Come on in, everyone. After the tsunami and all the lives we have lost, let's see how many we have left. Come on in." I was touched by what she said then. I had no idea how fitting her words would become.

As you may know, for those of you on my e-mail list, I am dedicating the second issue of "Epitaphs Magazine" to the cemeteries of New Orleans. I would also like to open this up to the all the cemeteries of the South that were affected by Katrina. There is already talk of how people are concerned about the fate of these historic cemeteries. The concern is always prefaced by the expression of wanting to help the living first, though the cemetery concern is always underlying. Of course, it is. It is nothing to be ashamed of. We have all come together because of our love for cemeteries and the history inside them. It is a given that the living come first. Not a one of you has to worry about anyone thinking you are only thinking of the dead. I have seen more heart in these groups than I have time to share right now before I head to work. We may be cemetery lovers, but first and foremost, we love them because we celebrate life.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by the hurricane, and I wish you the best. If there is anything your fellow Americans and cemetery lovers can do, all you need to do is ask.

All the best,

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and dear New Orleans

Working on "Cemetery Walk" led me to meet many wonderful people. Some of these people are from New Orleans and the surrounding area. I am so worried about all of them and their family and other loved ones.

I did look up author Deborah LeBlanc's Web site ( and checked her blog. She is okay. She was in New York when it happened. Her family, though, was in Lafayette. They are all fine, and she has been driving and driving endless hours to get to them before continuing her book tour. Thank goodness you are all right, Deb.

Ericka and Ryan, who I know through the Grave-L Yahoo group also checked in with the list. They are in Baton Rouge and are okay. They finally got power back. Ryan's parents are with them. They live in New Orleans. Ericka says they will be allowed in NOLA Monday to gather their belongings and see what is left of their home. Then they won't be allowed back in for a month. I can't imagine. I just can't imagine.

I am still praying that Rob Florence and his family are safe as well as Priestess Miriam and her family.

To all of you in the South who have been affected by this devastation, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I wish I could make this better.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

From "Endeca"

Dr. Avery wasn't able to come see me again today. That is just fine by me. It's quite wonderful really. Because Dr. Hamilton came in his stead. Dr. Hamilton is quite lovely, as I belive I've told you before, Diary. While he is much older than me, there is nothing wrong in that. After all, Mother married Father, and he is twenty years her senior! Dr. Hamilton is so young compared to Dr. Avery, who is quite ancient, that I can't imagine he is more than ten years older than me. Regardless, he is handsome and kind and gentle. He is everything I can imagine in a husband.

What am I going on about? How foolish of me to think that this man could ever be interested in a cripple such as me. Mother tells me not to refer to myself as a cripple, but I know that it is only because people in fine society do not have cripples as relations. But what else can I be called? Thadius (that is my handsome doctor's name!) never treats me like I am crippled or defective. To be honest, he treats me as a friend. He is the only one of my regular visitors who does. He talks to me about how he enjoys riding, even though Mary is not so fond of it (I can only assume Mary is his sister). He also shows me pictures he's drawn. He told me today, "You know, Miss Emily, you are the only one I've ever shown my drawing book to. Mary thinks such things are frivolous and that I should only concentrate my energies on my doctoring, as she calls it. So you and I have a secret."

I told him it is a secret I appreciate very much and that I didn't think it was frivolous at all. In fact, I think it is imperative that he keep drawing. His sketches of landscapes I've never seen and probably will never bring the world to me. That's just what he told me once. "If Miss Emily can't come to the world, the world shall come to Miss Emily." He has even given me some of his drawings. I treasure them so! Oh, Diary, I do so love him!

Friday, August 19, 2005

I have my paper topic!!!

I have figured out my paper topic for the Museum of Funeral Customs symposium. Hooray! While sitting in a meeting going over things we have gone over many many times, I took notes for other work stuff as well as thoughts I was having about what I would be interested in writing about. I had been stuck on post-mortem photography since I first learned about the proposal submission. It's a fascinating topic, but I wasn't sure which angle would be the best. And all resulted in "ack!"

Then it struck me. Like a little brick! What have I been obsessed with for the many years of my life? What did I focus much of my studies on in college (and as much as I could get away on in high school in the land of HIS-story)? Women's studies! So, when I started jotting down ideas and "Women's Roles in Mourning" came out, it was a big TA-DA! As my mother often says, "Oompriaco!" How that is really spelled, I do not know. But as my paper is not about "Oompriaco," I dont' care.

So "Women's Roles in Mourning" it is. I am so excited! It's so me! And I am on it, to quote my good friend Katie.

Now for other plans ...

Halloween. Friends, it is only a couple of months away. Do you know what you're going to be for the big day? Katie is planning on being Carrie, of Stephen King fame. What a great costume! But what about me? I have two main choices at this point: a murderous socialite (ish) or a suicidal writer. No, I'm not going to be any Sharon Stone character or Sylvia Plath. I may get a little down sometimes, but I'm not that depressed! My choices are currently: Lizzie Borden or Dorothy Parker. So post-Victorian with axe accesory or roaring 20s flapper writer with poisonous pen. Either way, I just can't lose!


Considering that I have the decision made on the paper topic, that's one major project goal decided. Now to go forth and figure out the book conundrum. Loving that word this week. Conundrum, hooray! Fiction novel? Non-fiction cemetery part deux/dos/etc.? Some other non-fiction? Children's book called "Abracadaver: Embalming is Fun!" Now that's just silly. I don't really know enough about embalming to write a book on it. Good times, nonetheless!

Goddess gracious, thank Goddess it's Friday! I am so excited that the weekend is just about here (50 minutes away and counting). It's been a long one. I'm tired, I've got a lot going on, my brain is jumbled, my house is a mess (and no elves have come in to straighten it up) and I just want to go see a movie! My husband's schedule this weekend is crazy (and has been crazy and will continue to be crazy), so it's often just a kiss and run, hi/bye/see ya time with him. Bill! I miss you! The cats miss their dad! :-) Once things calm down, it will all be good. Sunday we're planning to take a road trip. It will be lovely.

For anyone who is in the area, remember that the Forget-Me-Not: Victorian Day at Oakdale Memorial Gardens event will take place Saturday, Sept. 24, from 1-5 p.m. Be there or be in a toe-pincher.

Enjoy the weekend, me hardies! Arrrrhhhh!!!!!!


Thursday, August 18, 2005

Happiness is a co-dependent cat.

At least she thinks it is. Shakespeare, my 6 1/2-year-old calico/tortoise shell girl loves me very much. She also owns me and wants to be on my lap at all times when I am home. I love that about her but also wish she didn't feel so adamant about being on my lap every time I get on this computer. It's not even so bad when I'm using my laptop because I can manuever her better. But on our iMac online, it's a lot more difficult to balance her and type easily. And typing is supposed to be easy! The cat is a brat.

The reason for the posting is not really about the cat, though. It's about crossroads. I feel I'm at a crossroads. Again. Any time I'm between projects I feel this way. Now those of you who know me (TC, Todd, Kristin, Kelly, Timmo, etc.) know that my version of "between projects" is different than other people's idea of it. I have tons of stuff going on, but nothing that is soul-consuming. I like soul-consuming. It keeps my mind off of other issues.

I'm wondering what to do next regarding my next book. Fiction or non-fiction? What should I write for my symposium proposal? All this stuff.

More later...
From "Endeca"

She dreams of him behind violet eyelids. He pulse quickens inside blue veins. Everything is in color. The well is red. The swing she is on is white. On her feet are black shoes. She feels his hands pushing at her lower back each time her pendulum of motion takes her to him. She comes to him, he pushes her away with the knowledge that she will always come back.

In her dream, she closes her eyes, enhancing the sensation of falling and flying as the swing carries her up up up then back back back. Will she dream inside her dream? Will she fly as she falls?

Wake up next morning, she tells herself. No, wake up a hundred mornings from now. Tomorrow is too soon. The spell is cast; don't break it. Fill the sleeping mind with dreams and leave the days of being propped up like a ragdoll behind. There must be more in store for her than a lifeless childhood. There must be love, there must be meaning. I know he loves me, she think. I know he must. He must.

Sunlight cracks in through the same eyelids that closed it out. Fight it. Don't let it win! Wake up and you'll be nothing again. A burden.

"I believe in ghosts. I believe in ghosts. I believe in the dead. I believe in the dead."

Her mantra repeat as the clank of dishes from the kitchen below pulls her even further out of her sleep.

Monday, August 15, 2005

We have surpassed 5,000 visitors!

Woooo hoooo! has had more than 5,000 visitors! Finally! The site is somebody!!!!

So cool. So awesome. Now if only it would hit that number daily when my book comes out ... and at least half of them buy the book at that time.

I haven't posted for a while. My day job just celebrated homecoming. Major big deal. Wacky time. Crazy hours. My husband was on the team that opened the new museum in town the weekend before. Craaa-zy times for him. But super cool museum.

I do have a topic for tonight before I go to bed. I am dag tired, for sure. Friendship. Friendship is a strange thing. It seems like it would be easy, but it's really not. I guess all things worth having are worth working for. For instance, I've been a slacker girl when it comes to a number of my friends. If I don't get regular e-mail from them, it's as if my brain forgets they are around. Suddenly months have passed and I'm super lame-o friend! Gosh, today I didn't even get home to see my lovely husband until nearly 10 p.m. Why? Because I was hanging out in the American Legion with my new friend (and many of my own family members). This new friend knew my grandpa many moons ago when Grandpa was in Buddies of the Airlanes. It was a fun night, but then I get home and my husband is already in bed. I feel a bit like a schmuck.

Ah, friendship. Friendship and the meaning of it change as we get older. Even as kids the boy/girl dichotomy can get in the way. Girls play with this, boys with that. As we get older and marriage starts setting in, a whole bunch of other issues can kick in. Jealousy. Misunderstandings. Best of intentions. Men/women issues. That stinks. I really do not like the whole idea that "men and women can't be friends without the sex part getting in the way" ("When Harry Met Sally ..."). That is one of my favorite movies ever, but I just don't agree with that line. Even if two friends are attracted to each other (which they are at least mentally), the "sex thing" isn't necessarily even a "sex thing." It can merely be, "Hey, there's my friend Keanu Reeves. He's my best friend and he's really hot." Doesn't have to mean there is a physical relationship going on or building or even a potential. Just because Keanu is a beautiful human doesn't mean he's going to sleep with everyone. And if he were to do such a thing, that wouldn't mean that male/female friendship is bad; it would just mean he's a bit of a 'ho. (Sorry, Keanu! I mean nothing by it! Just an example!)

So here's the deal. I've had some interesting friendships with men. Let's start with gradeschool and the boys. A couple of my recess friends were boys. One, who I'll call Jack, was a sweet kid and kind of cute in a bit of a dorky way. He had horned-rimmed glasses, freckles, wasn't too tall. But he was funny and nice. I used to play with him and his other friend at recess. I had a little crush on him, but it never got in the way of our recess time.

Fast forward to high school (as junior high sucked). I was really good friends with a guy I will call Sam. Sam and I did everything together. Total buds. We both eventually seemed to like each other as more than friends after a long while. I thought, wow! I'm going to finally have a boyfriend! Weird, but cool! No. Right after this near-revelation, he started dating MY BEST FRIEND. This was just wonderful. Then, when they started having troubles, each of them started calling me to cry on my shoulder. I was way over that before it began. I learned later that he may have liked me, but this "friend" "put out." Lovely.

Second major high school crush. We'll call him Aubry (because we can). Thought he was the bee's knees. Again, glasses, freckles (hmm, a trend?), kinda pale, slightly tall but not really. Incredibly dry sense of humor. I thought he was awesome. Very smart and witty. My friend (the same #)$(#(@## that dated my old best friend, told that best friend that I had a crush on Aubry, who he was friends with. I walked into English class the next day, Aubry said hi to me--and the way he said "hi" (that one little word) told me that he knew. I said hi back really quickly and sat down without another word. I totally missed my window. We were still friends but it was weird. Especially when he started dating this other chick from out of nowhere and sported remarkably large hickeys on his neck. Very proud of them. Ick. Totally gross. Another friendship made lame.

Still in high school, I had a very good friend who adored me. We did everything together. I know he cared about me very much. But he eventually got too mixed up in a number of things to vast to go into here. Plus, I think he's at least a little big gay.

And speaking of gay friends! A number of years ago I had a friend who did lots with me. We were good buddies. He was gay as gay can be. I was not. I was single at the time and getting teased by yet another guy (who I'm pretty sure is gay and deep in the closet). This friend started saying things like, "I could get you to do anything I want. I bet you I could." What he meant was, like the "addition" to fortune cookies "... in bed." Whatever! Hello! Gay! Me woman! You man!" Lordy.

So you see, friendship can be like walking on egg shells ... or burning coals. It can also be very great. Ah, we humans can make things so very difficult.

Anyway, frienship is wonderful. I treasure my friends like, well, treasure! But there can be outside factors that change the perception of two friends. Some good, so bad. But as Wes our workstudy says, "It is what it is. It will be what it will be." Thanks, Wes. You are a man smarter then you know.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Query letter ready to go

Okay, everyone. I just finished a query letter to a literary agent in Wisconsin that I met during the Writers' Institute conference I attended a week and a half ago. I'm putting it in the mail tomorrow. She was very interested in the idea for a second cemetery-themed book I pitched to her. If she continues to like it, I just may end up with an agent and that much closer to a book published by a full-fledged publisher! Not that self-publishing isn't dandy, but I'd be getting paid a lot easier then having to peddle the book all on my own like I have to do now.

Hope of hopes!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Beading for a Book Tour

For about the last month or so I've retaken up my jewelry habit in order to help fund my upcoming book tour. As some of you may know, I sell sterling silver charm bracelets, necklaces and such through Well, I also hand-craft other beaded jewelry, and my friend Tracey is encouraging me to do so by joining her at farmers' markets and other crafty events.

Today was my second day out with her. I followed Tracey and her sister-in-law, Janet, to Sherrard, Illinois. Sherrard is a village of 700 (that's what the population sign says). Nice little town (VERY little) with nice people. But not many were in the mood to buy jewelry. Tracey sells gorgeous beaded bracelets (which you can see and buy at Both of us (and sis Janet) make lovely things, but we ended up selling less than $100 total (together) after SEVEN hours. Yikes. Fortunately, unlike the day we did the farmers' market in Moline a couple Saturdays ago, it was a nice day. Two weeks ago it was about 100 degrees and humid with a heat index of 4,000. I only made a whopping $33 that day.

The kooky thing is that even though I've spent many evenings beading and creating, the things that I have sold the most of have been the sterling silver rings. Which I only buy wholesale and do nothing else with. I don't bead them or make them extra pretty. I just take them out of their bag and put them on the table. I sold all but two of my stock today. SO WHAT THE HECK AM I WASTING MY TIME BEADING LIKE A CRAZY WOMAN FOR? Well, at least something sold. I like what I make. I have a lot of Halloween-themed items because I like spooky stuff (big surprise) so I imagine that come fall, those things will sell like hot cakes.

If anyone has any tips on how to do better at these crafty shows, please let me know. Tracey and Janet and I will be at the Moline farmers' market next Saturday if any of you want to check out our stuff.

The good thing about today was that I spent it in good company outside in the shade (very important) and was able to make more jewelry for the next time. So I'm set until next week, when I'm sure people will be clamoring to buy my stuff!

For those of you wondering why this woman--who is writing books, publishing magazines, updating a Web site, helping organize a cemetery event and who knows what else--is spending time making and selling jewelry, the answer is simple. Money. In order to go on my book tour this month, I need to have some money on stand-by. Since I am self-publishing, it's up to ME to make this book sell. So while I was selling a ring here and there today, I was marketing my book. I had bookmarks out for people and encouraged them to visit my site. "Look for me in local bookstores! I'll be doing signings!" You gotta work it when you can. I was also recruiting volunteers for the cemetery event at Oakdale. If there's one thing I've found about doing my own thing (regarding writing, giving classes, etc.) it's that you have to always be marketing yourself. And you must do it in an honest and down-to-earth way. Reach out to people. Connect with them. That's what my book is about really. People connecting with other people--whether those people are dead or alive.

Well, I've got to check into some gravestone rubbing kits I want to sell during the cemetery event at Oakdale.

Keep on keepin' on,

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Epitaphs Magazine has gone global!

Yes, friends, we have hit the big time. Within the past few months, the little magazine that is about to be published went international. Not only do we have subscribers from all over the U.S., we also have subscribers in England, Canada and now France! How exciting!

Spreading the good word about cemeteries,


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Writers' Institute Rocks!

Today I have returned from my trip to Madison,Wisconsin and the Writers' Institute refreshed, renewed and excited. Anything seems possible now! Actually, anything IS possible. And it was before my trip. This conference and the people I met proved to me for certain that I am on the right track. I felt it already, but it is so nice to have such positive reinforcement.

I met some fabulous people at the conference. If Linda, Paul, Carleen or Pam happen upon this blog, it was such a pleasure to meet all of you! You'll be hearing from me!

For anyone, especially those in the Midwest, who are looking for a writing conference to attend and have no idea how to go about it, I highly recommend the Writers' Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It's a great town, a great facility and phenomenal speakers and instructors. The participants are also wonderful. Everyone is incredibly supportive and friendly. There's no snobbery, which is something I was worried about before I attended last year. I admit it, artists are weird. Writers can be quite weird. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and to take yourself away from your cocoon of writing and then wander into the world outside that cocoon can be daunting. I've known some people who think they're the bee's knees and won't give a fellow writer the time of day ... unless they feel there's something for them to gain by it. But that's not why most writers write. We write to connect with people. Being snobby and thinking you're the awesomest of the awesomest awesome is lame. To those people I say, "Come back to this planet and don't be so uptight." There is plenty of room for more awesome people. Besides, some of the folks who think they are better than chocolate can really be sucky writers. We're all learning endlessly. It's a beautiful thing.

So in a nut shell, this is a fab conference. This was the first time I've ever talked to agents. And it was not even scary!

I have so much I could talk about from this weekend, but I have to unpack and also get ready for the Avril Lavigne concert tonight. I'm going with my friends Leita and Deanna (Leita is 10, and Deanna is her mom and wife of one of my bestest friends). I just talked to Tim, and he said Leita is all excited and has her eye makeup on. It's going to be a blast.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


Monday, July 18, 2005

Ahoy! The galley has arrived!

It's Monday, July 18, 2005, and I finally received the first galley for my book. It's exciting and daunting. This is one of the last times I'll look at the book before it goes to the printer. That means it's sooooo close to its final form. But it also means close scrutiny over the pages. Lots of things to check over and verify. Fine-tooth comb time.

Being a published author is NOT for sissies.

Back to the proofing ...


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Makin' Jewelry

It's Sunday on a hot, steamy, ack weekend. It is an "ack" weekend because it IS so hot. I'm not a heat person. I prefer fall with its lovely falling leaves smell and cool breezes. I like jeans and sweaters. Even on the hottest days I prefer my capri jeans to a pair of shorts. Shorts tend to ride up, and that is not cool at all. Give me a nice crisp fall day, and I'm happy.

So, needless to say, this ridiculous 95-degree plus weather (complete with dangerous draught) is not my cup of tea. And I like tea! I enjoy heating up a kettle full of water to make myself some darjeeling with honey and cream. I've noticed that extreme heart makes people cranky. Can't blame them. Who wants to sweat in places they don't normally sweat?

Speaking of sweat, during 95-degree weather with blazing sun, I went to the local Farmer's Market and set up shop with my pal Tracey. She had told me I could share a booth with her to sell my jewelry. She sells jewelry, too. But her's is different. She's all about colorful beads and such, and I'm all about the sterling silver charms. More people showed up than I thought would, but we didn't sell a ton of stuff. But a few bucks is a few bucks--especially since this money is going toward my upcoming book tour.

So I spent this morning taking photos of the jewely I didn't sell so I can post it on eBay. I've got some cool stuff, if I do say so myself. An adorable Harry Potter-themed charm bracelet, gardener's bracelets, memories of grandmother, and more. The are in sterling silver. I also have sterling silver necklaces (22 inches, also in sterling silver), including a pirate ("Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Goonies"), Grandmother, a little ghost, a ribbon (like the popular ribbons seen on cars), a slot machine (for Las Vegas and riverboat gambling fans!), and much more.

I hope to have things posted soon. Right now I have a "Pirates of the Caribbean" themed pin posted. Look up user name "elfaba1" if you are interested.

Well, while I should be posting eBay items or editing the magazine, I think I need a nap more so thatn the other two things. Long weekend so far, and I really want to see "Charlie and the Chocolte Factory" and "Dark Water."

But now, since I've put in hours of work on my projects already this weekend, I need a little cat nap.

Hope all is well around the world with you!


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mom and the Book

I am happy to say that my mother is doing much better now. The doctor's office is still on my bad list, though. One of my biggest pet peeves is lack of information or communication. Mom was on the wrong end of both regarding her poor heart and blood pressure. I won't get into it, but I have to say that a certain nurse practitioner needs to start treating the patients she sees with care and consideration. Enough said about that. For now.


Wonderful news! I had a three-way call meeting with my publishing company rep and book designer, and all is going swimmingly! I should have my first galley in two weeks. I'm so excited! The book is still on schedule for the fall release. I can't wait to see it all put together.


I just made some edits and updates to The PayPal links finally work (hurray!) and can be used to pay for Epitaphs magazine subscriptions, single issues and ads.

I've also recently added a genealogy page with the start of a link section I will be continuing to build.

The writing tips section now how photography tips. I intend to make the is a good resource page for prospective contributors to the magazine ... and also people who just want to learn how to improve their writing and photography skills. If you're like me, you never want to stop learning.

Well, that's the news for now. Stop by the site soon. We've had more than 4,000 visitors, which is major for us. I can't wait for the day when we get 4,000 hits a day! Here's to the future!


Thursday, June 23, 2005

I find myself talking or e-mailing about my mom as if I'm writing about someone I vaguely know. It's not because I feel like I don't know her or am not close to her. I am very close to my mother. But when I tell someone that my mother almost had a heart attack this week, it's like I'm talking about a stranger. I think my mind is trying to protect me from breaking down; I am saying "my mother" as if it was coming out "some person I don't know." The emotion is not there.

Perhaps my mind is telling me not to grieve for what isn't gone. Maybe I'm growing up and am being responsible and "strong." Maybe I'm denying it's happening. I feel helpless. What can I do? Can I take her heart in my hand and soothe it? Can I trade it with mine and give hers a rest? I know I cannot. But I want to. I want to do whatever will make her better. She means too much to too many people for this to be happening.

A friend of mine asked me to look after her younger sister in a way the other day. That isn't how she put it, but I know what she means. Her sister is my friend, too, I just haven't known her as long. She's a very cool person. The thing is that while my whole agenda in the world is to make everything in the world better, I know I can't do it all on my own. When a co-worker's parent is sick, I'm the first to run out and buy a card or little trinket to cheer her up. I guess I'm what you could call an "empath." I feel how a person would feel. I get a tinge of the pain, confusion and grief. I want to help. I want to put a bandaid on the world. But since my husband had a serious health scare and now that my mom is in the middle of one, I see clearly how I can only focus myself on them. I understand it now.

World, I love you. I know you are in dire need of being saved. Big bad horrible people are trying to smother you with greed, self-righteousness and my-god-is-better/bigger/awesomer-than-your-god attitudes. You know I will help you as much as I can. Right now my family needs me. I know you understand.

-Minda blog is now available for RSS!

It's Thursday, June 22, the second day of summer of 2005.

I just attended an awesome Writing for the Web seminar in Chicago led by Shel Holtz. Very awesome indeed. I also learned about RSS, which allows people to get updates on my blog automatically. I don't know enough to explain it myself yet, so go to and punch in RSS to learn more. It's a great concept, though. You should also go to or the like and sign up for a free account. It's way cool once you get into it.

I've been sick for the past few days. Not fun when you are in a seminar--especially when the seminar is actually good (some suck) and you don't want to miss anything. I'm feeling better now. But I did find out that my mother was very close to having a heart attack this weekend. She is still not in the clear yet but is doing better. It's really hard to get my mind around it. For the first time I actually had this thought run through my mind: what if something happened to my mother while I was gone/not near/not in the same room? What if my mother had a heart attack and died? How could something like that happen? How could it be allowed?

It, of course, didn't. But yesterday was the first time I ever thought of my mother as anything but eternal. I came to the realization that when your parent dies, you are no longer a kid anymore. If something had happened to my mother, I would have had to grow up really fast. And I'm 32. I am grown up. But no matter how old you are, you are always somebody's baby. My grandmother is sick with worry about her 54-year-old baby. When her mother died (at the age of 98), Grandma was Granny's baby. Her oldest baby, and she was in her seventies.

Oh, the irony of the one who writes about cemeteries and death being afraid of death and losing the ones she loves.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Apologies to all those I haven't talked to in ages ...

It's 6-6-05

It's June. It's Monday. It's two weeks after I thought the book would be done. I have been working nearly non-stop on it during my spare time (what's that?). I did get in two whole bike rides with my husband since he bought us new bikes. With the recent health scares, he is very serious about getting healthy. I'm very proud of him. And he's getting me to get my butt in gear.

Dare I say the book will go to the publisher tomorrow? I've had some setbacks. I'm over them now. One setback is actually a blessing. It has taken some of the stress away and has made me simplify things. I am limited on photos. This is actually not a bad thing. And I could go crazy with pics if I wanted to. For $2.50 a pop! No thank you. Keep in mind, I am self-publishing. I'm not concerned, though. I've got it figured out. Plus, I've got a magazine coming out, and I'm sure I've got plenty more books in me. No worries here.

Before I finish (maybe) the book tonight (maybe), I need to tend to ShangChi the betta fish. His tank ammonia levels are quite high. Just say NO to fin rot!!!! We will not have another death in the family! I'll post pics of him soon ... and also of Sheila, the African dwarf frog. She is spotted green and very tiny. She is not huge like Ghost the African albino clawed frog who is taking over the world. He is going to be upgraded to a 5-gallon tank soon. He's huge! I'd like to get a goldfish to be his tankmate, but unless I get a fish the size of Toledo, Ghost would most likely eat him. Again, no more deaths in the family.

Before I sign off, sorry to all I've been ignoring. I'm really not ignoring you in my mind. I'm thinking of all of you (including Toni, Kelly, Linn, TC, Kristin, Mom and Dad, Grandma, cousins, aunts, uncles ...). I've promised myself to get the book done straight away. It's time. I know all of you understand. At least the ones who know about my timeline as of late. To the rest of you, sorry!!! I will call, e-mail, etc., soon!

Love to you all and good night.


We're starting to get more and more "Epitaphs" subscriptions coming in. How exciting!

Friday, May 20, 2005


Originally uploaded by cemeterychick.
Faster than a speeding albino frog!


Originally uploaded by cemeterychick.
Blurry Ghost.


Originally uploaded by cemeterychick.
Here's Ghost hanging out.
The Life Aquatic

It's Friday, May 20 ...

About two weeks ago I purchased a new member of the family ... from Walmart. He is an albino clawed foot frog--his name is Ghost. He's pretty cool, though my colleague next to me at the office thinks he's a protozoa. Every time Keith comes over, Ghost seems to be "shut down." While he can be quite the active frog, most of the time he's just floating or just "there" at the bottom of the gallon tank.

To tell the truth, Ghost can be a bit of a spaz. But, as Keith points out, he's a delayed reaction spaz. It might take him a moment or five before he realizes he should be freaking out if I move my hand too close to the tank to turn on or off his light. Regardless, Ghost has brought an element of enjoyment and scientific interest to members of my department.

We wonder many things about him, such as:

How big will he get? (He's currently 1/2" wide, 2" tall/1.2" butt to nose. But Kristy says he will probably get huge.)

Since he has weird red eyes, does that mean he's blind? (We don't know if he's blind or just kinda stupid.)

Will he escape? (Peeps on the internet say that these frogs are escape artists and must not have any form of escape hatch or hole.)

All in all, Ghost is a pretty entertaining guy. Here are a couple of pics of the frogmeister. My favorite is the one where I caught him in full swimming action ... and he looks like a flash of peach color! Super cool!


Monday, May 16, 2005

The new promo postcard for "Cemetery Walk"!

Image hosted by
Hangin' in the ER

It's Monday, May 16, 2005 ...

2005 is turning out to be a banner year for the Powers-Douglas clan of two (plus 2 cats, a fish and a frog). Last week my husband started getting a weird pressure/pain sensation in his chest and tingling in his left arm, and it was off to the ER we went. Fortunately he was not having a heart attack or anything like that. What is going on, we don't know yet. They did a bunch of tests that day, and the next day he had to go in for a stress test. Then the weekend hit, and there we were. Waiting for something to happen and hoping it wouldn't. But since we'd just had a scare of major yikes, we didn't travel out of town for our friend's graduation as planned (sorry, Toni). We actually didn't do too much. We didn't even go to the movies as I had wanted to do. It was sit back and try to relax time. But then Monday came (today), and our family doctor hasn't even received anything from the hospital yet. We still know nothing. Accept that we're getting stressed because we don't know anything.

So the weekend was an odd one. The one thing I had really wanted to do was go to the movies. I used to go to the movies at least once a week. When I was in high school there were even times when I saw three movies in the theater in one day. I'm not joking! THREE! I was a rabid movie fiend. Now I'm lucky if I see three movies in 6 months. It stinks! And there were at least three movies I really want to see out. "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," "Unleashed" and "Crash." I'm holding out for a weeknight this week. We'll see how that works. I need some time to get absorbed into something on a really large screen that can dwarf everything else running through my mind. Time to decompress.

Now for the good news ...


The end of the writing process for "Cemetery Walk" is almost completely done! The book is with my editor/proofers. I'm finishing the last details as well as the photo selection and cutlines. Ahh, it's such a good thing. It will go to the publisher at the end of this month. To quote young Anakin Skywalk in "Phantom Menace," I say, "Yippeeee!"


All is well on the "Epitaphs" front. I'm doing stuff here and there, and will hit it full steam when the book is out of my hands. Ad space is selling well. Submissions are great. Keep them both coming! The magazine is going to rock!!!


I put in extra hours on book promotion stuff tonight and didn't end up seeing my husband until 7:30 p.m., which he was not thrilled about. I thought he was just hungry. But he did tell me later during dinner (delicious garlic shrimp at China Wok II) that he's worried that I'm working too much. It took me by surprise. I didn't think he really noticed. Not that he's not a devoted husband; he is. But he works on stuff all the time. I figured that if I wasn't working on projects all the time that he would think I was lazy! Well, I guess I know differently now.

But I did get my first promotion postcards designed tonight. I'm currently trying to load the artwork into this blog post but am failing miserably.

I also started a "new line" of stuff for store called "Death Becomes You." It features death- and cemetery-related quotes. Fun stuff. The funny thing is that while I knew it was not a really original name for deathly things (most obviously the movie "Death Becomes Her" beat me to it by a number of years), I got an e-mail from the woman who owns yesterday (the day I set up the new items). Her Web site used to be called--you guessed it--Death Becomes You. So it's a matter of "stealing" from someone without even being aware of stealing from someone. Please don't think me a total dork, Toni! (Everyone, be sure to check out, it's a great site.)

Well, while I'm trying to pour out my soul and upload a photo here, Shakespeare won't leave me alone. No, the playwrite is not jumping in my lap ... my cat is. She is totally co-dependent. I created a monster 5 years ago, and now we are practically conjoined twins whenever I am home. She is quite jealous of the computer and hates when I type for long periods of time or surf. She also doesn't like it when I spend too much time in front of the bathroom mirror washing my face or something. She thinks that the time I spend doing these things would be much better spent holding her. She is also jealous of our fish tank. It's out of her viewing range for the most part, and she doesn't really know what it is. What she does know is that I will stand in front of it (it's on top of the hutch of our desk) and talk to it occasionally. If she actually knew there was a living being inside the tank (that would be my betta fish Simon LeBon, who is awesome, incidentally), she would probably figure out a way to get into the tank and eat him. Not gonna happen, Shakespeare, you brat.

Hmmm. If I could figure out how to get the photos to upload, I'd put a pic of Shakespeare and Simon LeBon on here. And India, our other cat. And Ghost, my little albino clawed frog I have in a small tank at work. It's the life aquatic with Minda Zissou.

Well, I'm going to post this and then look into the pic issue again.

Good night, all!


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Web site updates!

It's Tuesday, May 3, 2005.

I made some Web updates during my lunch break today.

- Subscription information is now available online for "Epitaphs" the magazine!!!

- A new calendar of cemetery events has been posted. Hurray!

So much fun. How can we stand it?

Good news on the book front. I finished two more chapters. It's more than half done now. Actually more than that, as I'm just putting finishing touches on all the chapters at this point. This is great news! This means I can get it to the publisher by the end of this month!



Sunday, May 01, 2005

Accidents Will Happen

It's May Day, 2005

Normally I put the date in first, but I just realized that the first things you type come up as the title of the post. So I thought this made more sense. Nice to know my brain works sometimes.

So why the title this time? Because on Thursday I was in my second car accident in less than one month. The first was on April Fool's Day (fitting) and was merely a fender bender. Thursday's "bump" was a full on rear end job caused by yours truly. It was a freak thing but stupid nonetheless.

Here's how it went. I was actually leaving on time for work that morning. There was hardly any traffic when I pulled out of our alley. Six blocks later there is a stop light. All of us start going through the light, and we are just through it when the accident happens. I am probably only 20 feet past the intersection when I hit the nice lady in the Lexus. What had happened was that there is a scrap metal place with its entrance within the a block of the intersection. Though I noticed the four cars in front of me, I did not notice the huge scrap truck ahead of them who was turning slooooowly into this place's entrance. In the length of time it took me to get through the intersection and then glance down for a brief moment (was I checking the time? I don't remember) and then look up again, I had just enough time to slam the brakes at about the same time I hit the lady's car in front of me.

Very fortunately, she is okay. And her car is built like a tank. It only got a scuff mark. Not even a dent. My car, on the other hand, is not doing so hot. The fender bender put a big ol' dent in the front corner of my car, and this bump bent the hood a bit (needs to be replaced) and messed up the front of the car. The lights didn't break, but they will need to be replaced. If anyone knows of any Olds Alero hoods that are available, let me know! My repair guy is looking for one. At least the car is drivable right now. But my lights are cock-eyed, so I won't be traveling at night! I'm sure you're thinking, "Damn, good thing! Stay off the road, you crazy driver!" Well, I don't blame you. I hadn't been in a car accident since 1990. Now two in one month. I'm SO glad April is over.

Oh, I didn't mention that I didn't really get too hurt in the accident. I had my seatbelt on, of course. I don't drive without it on. It's the law, and it's also--hello!--super smart. I do have a pretty sucky case of whiplash, though. Good thing my chiropractic team is on the case. I'd be in a lot worse shape by now if were not for Dr. B and my student extern Jason. They are life savers.

The funny thing is that even thought I feel like my brains have been rattled (and beleive me, they have), I finished two more chapters for my book yesterday! I am so close! Chapters are still out with my editors, but I also have at least three more to pass on to them. I want to get this thing to the publisher right away. It's time.

Once I pass it along, the magazine will be my focus. We have had tons of great submissions so far. Our first issue is going to be awesome. We're still shooting for July. I guess it just all depends on any further adventures ... NO MORE CAR ACCIDENTS, THANK YOU!

Well, I'm off to post some stuff on eBay and update my store. On eBay, my username is elfaba1 (that's "elfaba" with a #1, not an "L"). You know how to get to my CafePress store--through site store link.

Visit often and buy lots! :-)

Seacrest out,

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Today is Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hello, everyone!

I just got an e-mail from The Writer's Institute in Madison, Wis., and I'm so excited! I went to this two-day conference last year, and it was great. The sessions are very good, and there are plenty of opportunities to network with people.

If anyone is going to be in the area July 21-22 and is interested in signing up, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be there. It would be a great opportunity to network with any taphophiles interested in Epitaphs Magazine and more.

The cost if you sign up by June 27 is only $205. After that, I think it's $225. This is super-cheap for seminars like this one. Hotel rooms are extra.

The Writer's Institute brings all sorts of agents, publishers and authors together in one conference center. I'm including the link to their site below. They offer great programs throughout the year, and some are even online.

If any of you decide to attend, please e-mail me and let me know!


Saturday, April 23, 2005

It is Saturday, April 23, 2005


To all the people I have told throughout my life that I don't like taking naps, today I am a liar. Not only did I sleep in until the ridiculous hour of 11:30 a.m., I also took two incredibly long naps. The truth still is that I do not like naps. I wake up like a lobotomy patient from them. Plus, it's 6 p.m. (CST). My day is shot. Ack.

But it all goes with today's post theme. Procrastination. I have been seeming slacker girl lately. So I'd like to redeem myself with a bit of info regarding what's been going on to make me such a procrastinator.

Work stuff. That's self-explanatory enough. We all have it, and it gets in the way of things. I'm talking my day job stuff. I love my job, though it can be taxing and rather a pain in the butt. We've been dealing with many changes during the past year, and it's been just weird. End of that story.

Health stuff. I was attacked by the plague within the past few months, and it ran me ragged. You probably know what I'm talking about ... the respiratory/flu/cold/nastiness that had taken over for a while. It was the type of being sick where you couldn't do a damn thing to really get over it and could hardly manage to get your daily tasks done, either. So book, Web site and magazine production stuff came to a near stand-still. On top of that, there were some family health scares. All is now well, but it was a little scary for a while. Also not conducive to book writing. Especially when you are writing a book about cemeteries and death. It was a little much for me at the time.

So those were the major things. Then I think I had a "third -of-life crisis" for a few days (I'm only 32). My husband and I and some friends went to see the Duran Duran concert on March 23 (whoa! a month ago today!). It was awesome. LOVED IT! They were just as amazing as I had always hoped they'd be. You see, though they were my all-time favorite band, this was the first time I'd seen them live. I was only 11 or 12 or so when they were huge, and we had no local concert venue of their caliber at the time. I never even thought about being able to see them live. My first concert wan't until years later.

Anyway, we went to see them. They sounded great, looked great. It was GREAT. I loved their new stuff ("Astronaut" is a killer album). I was reliving my music glory days and obsession with my favorite band. I bought a bunch of their CDs and DVDs that I never had growing up. It brought back the glory of the 80s and my best memories of the time for me. It was a blast! Then it started to hit me--this all happened 20 years ago. Twenty!!! Children have been born and raised into adults in that amount of time! My youth has become RETRO!!! I went in to a Hot Topic store at the mall to pick up a few things and saw a couple pairs of earrings for sale that I used to own in the 80s!

Now all of this is not really a big deal. I don't mind getting older. I really don't. Age is just a number and a symbol of pride--it means we've made it. We've made it through another year of change and growth. So this feeling was very different for me. It was probably due to being sick so long with the cold/flu from hell, having a health scare of my own and worrying about the health of my loved ones that got to me. And earlier this year I had knee surgery, so that was making me feel a bit decrepit. Knee surgery at 32, and it's not like I'm a decathalon athlete. My main physical activities include taking morning walks, photographing cemeteries and typing on my computer. What a wild life!

So it was bugging me. I would sit down to work, and have no motivation. I'd force myself, but that's not the way to write. Fortunately, I've gotten over it and have gotten my mojo back. Thank goodness! And then yesterday I realized that this year is my 15th high school reunion ... but I don't mind. I told you I'm over it. And I can hear all of you. "Ooh, 15th. Big deal! I've got my 25th/30th/35th coming up!" Don't worry. I'll get there.

Anyway, here are some updates regarding the book, magazine, etc.

- The book will most likely be out in the fall now. I'm wrapping up each of the chapters right now. Then I will pass it on to my two editors. I was freaking out over it not being "on time," but then I realized that it's no big deal. I'm SELF-publishing, for crying out loud! It's my timeline! In that case, there is no such thing as late. Plus, all my fans will be supportive and wait. ;-)

- The magazine is still plugging along. I'm still receiving submissions and advertisements. Editing will begin very soon. Production is just about ready. We are still shooting for July. Stay tuned! And keep sending us things! We've received great stuff so far!

- The site needs some updates. I plan to add more photos, but this will come once the final photos are selected for "Cemetery Walk." Please be patient. Other updates have been only posted once in a while. Things will pick up soon. Thank you for your support. More is coming soon.

That's what has been going on. Thank you for being so supportive and excited. Even on the tough days, all of you taphophiles keep me going!

All the best to all of you,

Thursday, April 14, 2005

It's 4-14-05

It's getting to be a good time of year for taphophiles. The weather is getting warmer, the sun is shining ... and we can now "dig in" at our favorite cemeteries! Warm up those digital cameras and start taking photos, friends! And then submit them to "Epitaphs"! ;-)

Submissions keep coming in. Thank you to everyone who has been enthusiastic about the magazine. It's really keeping me going and inspiring me. Keep it up, everyone!

Since I'm off work for the long weekend, I'll be working on (finishing???) "Cemetery Walk." And doing some spring cleaning. And hopefully some spring unloading. Time to get rid of stuff we don't need. There is a group called Project Renewal that offers after-school programs for disadvantaged children. My plan is to donate a bunch of things to them. Every cent they get donated to them goes to the kids. How great is that?

Time to get to work! Enjoy the day!


Tuesday, April 12, 2005


As you can see, I'm trying to figure out how to post photos on here. I'll get it figured out one day. :-)

For now, here is an upcoming event in New England:

Connecticut Gravestone Network Symposium 2005

Saturday – April 23 - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Middlefield Senior Center
405 Main St.
Middlefield, CT

Hosted by The Middlefield Historical Society

Displays & exhibits from various historic groups,and
with books and cemetery novelties items.

Lecture Topics include:

“Mourning Quilts - Women’s Work: Making Burial,
Coffin, and
Casket Quilts”

“The Portland Quarry in Middletown”

“One of our Colonial Carvers”

“An Introduction to Middlefield History and Their Old
Burying Ground”

Lunch-snacks & beverages will be available
Admission: $10 to public $5 for CGN members
Payable at the door

Directions: Middlefield Senior Center, Middlefield, CT
Located off of Rt. 66 between Middletown and Meriden
at the
junction of Rt. 157 & Jackson Hill Rd. - behind the
Entrance is across from The Congregational Church &

Contact: Ruth Shapleigh-Brown -
Please address subject line as SYMP INFO

135 Wells St.
Manchester, CT. 06040-6127
ph: 860-643-5652

For more details go to:


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.
It's April 12, 2005, and I am breathing new life into my old blog.

This originally was the blog for the first incarnation of the Cemetery Club, which was a fledgling ghost hunting/enthusiast group. We met a couple of times, but it didn't get very far due to schedules being so wack-a-do. So I'm turning it into the official blog for

If you have found this page, you have found, no doubt. And you just may know about all the recent fun that has been taking place. Here's a brief recap:

- site has been expanded and improved and all the rest of that fun stuff.

- My book "Cemetery Walk" is coming along swimmingly. Projected publication date is September.

- The new magazine "Epitaphs" has been announced. It's "for cemetery lovers by cemetery lovers." The first issue is expected to be released this July. Submissions can be sent to me, the editor, at To learn more about submitting, buying ads, etc., go to

- Our interview_taphophile Yahoo list has grown. It is now the official info and chat list of the Web site. If you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for?

Those are the latest on what's been going on. Now if I can only figure out what this URL is so I can put the link on my site ....