Welcome to Dee's Pad

My life as a writer, and as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Chapter of Home Sweet Home

Chapter I
Deland, FL
“Myrtle Sue? Come here. Now!”
I jumped out of a sound sleep. My mother-in-law from hell, her voice as piercing as a jackhammer, yelled my name from down the hallway. I glanced around the small room with the cheerful yellow walls, and wished I could stay in bed just a bit longer. I glanced at the clock. Six a.m. Figures. Last time I got to sleep in was…never, come to think of it.
“Myrtle Sue!”
What was it now? Her toenails needed clipped? She wanted me to dial 1-800-psychic? Her TV fell off the dresser?
“Better see what she wants.” I eyed my white schnauzer with the bad haircut that made him look like a dirty old mop lying at the bottom of my king-sized waterbed. That’s what you get when you take your dog to a discount hair joint.
“Myrtle Sue!”
If I didn’t get going she was going to scare all the dogs in the neighborhood, or have a coronary. She’d been threatening to have one for the past 15 years. I should only live in hope.
“I’m coming!”
I walked into the room to see my mother-in-law sitting on the edge of the bed. A pretty woman, slim and white-haired, Hazel had a flawless complexion with very few wrinkles. “What’s wrong?”
“Look at these walls. I hate lavender. I want this room painted something else, like a light blue.”
“You woke me up to tell me that?”
“Well, no, I had a dream,” she said softly. “I needed you to come in here and sit with me.”
“What? Did you dream the devil came to take you off?” This woman had weird dreams at least five days out of seven. Some were funny, others made her sound like a lunatic. Well, actually she is sort of loony.
“Myrtle Sue! That isn’t funny. You know I’m sixty years old and who knows how long I have.”
“Got news for you, Hazel, you’re eighty-years old.” Then I recalled my mama preaching to me that I had to respect my elders. But when she was alive, even she lost patience with my dead husband’s mother. “So, what did you dream?”
She smiled. “My father was here, you know. I saw him walking around. He said his sisters are coming to visit us. You must get the house straightened out and do some baking. We can’t have guests and not be prepared. So that’s why I wanted you to get up early. Get your shower and get busy.”
“You got me up to tell me that? What? You think I’m your servant or something?”
Then she lay down on her bed and promptly went back to sleep, pulling her flowered quilt over her. She looked so sweet lying there. But sweetness she wasn’t. More like an old cactus waiting to rip into your new pair of pantyhose.
I looked at the older woman and wondered why she still had so much affection for her father. She often said that he made her childhood a living hell. From what I’d been told, Hazel’s father had been an alcoholic who often beat her siblings, her mother and her when he tied one on. Yet, she spoke of his kindness when he was sober. Sam, my deceased husband, always said the old man was as mean as a snake. It seems the prickles of the cactus ran through both father and daughter’s veins.
Zeus and I walked into the hallway and I glanced down at him. “So what should I make that dead people will want to eat? How about some invisible food.”
The dog whined and jumped around doing his doggie talk. “Shhh. Nana is sleeping,” I said. “Come on, I’ll put you out.”
On my way through the family room, I glanced at the unpacked boxes stacked against the wall. Hazel insisted I should unpack her collection of one-hundred-and-sixty-two ceramic elephants and find a place to put them in my already overcrowded living and family rooms. But hey, if she was headed to an assisted living facility, why should I bother?
Come along Monday, I was calling DCF again and telling them they had to finish Hazel’s paperwork so I could get her out of my house. Twice I filled them out. Both times they said they didn’t get them.
One more week of living with this woman and I’d be in the loony bin. The more I thought about it, I realized at least that would be a vacation from Hazel.
I glanced at Sam’s photo sporting a new layer of dust, his trust-me grin hiding the fact that the man never did anything that could be put off until the next year or two. Like arranging for his mother’s care. Nope, Sam figured some other schmuck would take care of the messy details. And he was right. I picked up the picture and slammed it down—a bit hard. Glass tinkled. Another frame to buy. Another errand to run between work and running Hazel to her doctor visits. Another day to spend picking up the pieces. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have to dust Sam until I replaced yet another frame.
My gaze drifted to the fireplace where our family photo, taken two years ago, sat. Staring at me with that big grin on his face was my prankster husband with the warped sense of humor. Did he make those papers disappear thinking it funny to stick me with yet one more problem to handle?
During the week, I work at the high school cafeteria as a cook. When Sam died, I discovered I needed extra money to pay for his hospital and doctor bills since he opted to take the cheaper insurance policy that had limited coverage.
Cooking is about all I know how to do—that and be a maid to my husband and children. Before Hazel moved in, I had planned on saving part of my money to take that vacation my husband of twenty-seven years had promised to take me on. What a joke. Now I’d probably never get to Croatia to see the land of my ancestors. I’d even settle for a short cruise, or any type of vacation. Sam and I never took a vacation in our entire married life.
Two hours later, I had my mother-in-law fed and watching TV. I showered, knowing she’d have forgotten all about our dead company. But I decided to bake some chocolate cupcakes and banana nut muffins in case one of the kids stopped by. I got the house all straightened out and was about to sit down and pay the bills when the phone rang.
“Mother! Can’t you ever say Hello?”
My second child, Michelle, hated the way I answered the phone. “Hi, Florence Nightingale. What’s up?”
“I thought I’d stop by today and check on Nana if that’s okay.”
“Sure thing, Sugar. You can stop by and check on her anytime you want. In fact, have you ever considered having her come live with you? That would be one way of getting rid of your latest boyfriend, you know.” I grinned, knowing that Michelle actually wanted to keep this one. After four engagements and no wedding, she thought the fifth engagement just may be the one. For her sake, I hoped she was right.
There was dead silence on the phone. “Michelle? Are you there?”
“Yes.” I heard a whimper.
“What’s wrong, Honey? I was only teasing about Nana.”
“Matt left me for my friend, Lori,” she said. “I thought for sure he was Mr. Perfect.”
“Oh, Honey! I’m so sorry. I know how much you wanted this to work out for you two.”
“I really love him, Mommy.”
At that moment, I wanted to wring Matt’s neck. How could he hurt my baby girl after all she did for him? She cooked, cleaned, loaned him money and even washed his truck for him. And I never thought he was good enough for her.
Like a flash of lightning had just struck me, I had an ah-ha moment. I had set a terrible example for my girls. I had waited on their father in the same way they waited on the men in their lives. And just like their father, their men didn’t appreciate them anymore than he had me.
I thought about Michelle’s roommate, Justin. Maybe they could get together. I really liked him—more than I liked Matt. He had a sensitive side to him and often told Michelle that Matt wasn’t good enough for her. That boy knew what he was talking about.
“What about Justin? Actually, I like him,” I said. “Maybe you two could get together. I mean, he’s awfully kind and you two seem to have a lot of fun together.”
“Justin is a wonderful friend, but he’s moving out this week. It’s bad enough Matt is out of my life, but now I have to find a new roommate, too.”
“Oh? I’m sorry to hear that. Will he still help out with your grandmother?” Justin sat with my mother-in-law four hours a day while I worked my six-hour shift at the high school.
“I don’t know. He’s moving in with one of the guys from work. I don’t know what his plans are beyond that.”
“Well, I’m sure you can find a new roommate at the hospital. Someone’s always needing a place to live,” I said. “So what about Mr. Perfect? What happened?”
“Well, he is Mr. Perfect for Lori.” She sniffed and I heard her blow her nose.
“Oh my. Nothing like a traitor boyfriend and friend, is there?”
Then she wailed like she did when she was a little girl and her brother would take her dolls from her.
“Michelle, take a deep breath. And don’t drive until you calm down. Then I’ll have some nice comfort food waiting for you.” I looked at my body. Yeah, comfort food is what got me in this condition. If I didn’t watch it, I’d be as big as Sam had been.
“Okay, Sammy and I will be there in an hour or so.” Her voice shook and I knew she tried holding back her sobs.
“Please tell me he doesn’t hike his leg on furniture anymore?” But the phone disconnected before she answered.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Myrtle Sue's family

Today I'd like to talk about my novel Home Sweet Home. I really want to change the title, maybe to something like Gammy's teapot, or White lights and Gammy's teapot--maybe too long.

My story is a woman's fiction. It is about Myrtle Sue Henderson who is widowed. Her mother-in-law gets kicked out of the senior's home. Her daughter, Presley, is in an abusive relationship with her alcoholic husband. Daughter Michelle isn't married and learns she's pregnant. Son Sammy still owes Myrtle Sue for his well, but is having too much fun partying to pay her back.

Myrtle Sue realizes she's to blame for her children't behavior. She allowed her husband to rule her just like her daughters allow the men in their life to rule them.

When Myrtle Sue meets Michael, she realizes she's ready to have a relationship with a man. But she can't expect any man to put up with her crazy family.

Daughter Presley and two children move in with Myrtle Sue. MIL from hell also lives with her. Daughter Michelle thinks her mother should quit work and babysit for her unborn baby.

Myrtle Sue inherited teapots from her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother. They always used two teapots that were given to them. They put the names of folks they thought needed a good dose of comeuppance in one pot. The other pot is for those who need help--or good vibes sent their way.

I'd like to post a few pages here maybe tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a good day.


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Family Time

Our family keeps growing--and growing. We are about to have baby #11. How did folks keep up with all those kids in the old days? No wonder my grandmother Hendershot--at child #10-didn't name him for a year. She must've been so hassled by keeping up with those kids she simply couldn't think of adding another name. They called him Baby the first year. Then they finally settled on Lester. He was called Casey.

Back to our family. We had a get-together on Friday night. Michelle and her son were here from Sarasota. Diana and two of her kids arrived. Chris and Sandra and their four, along with Chris' oldest daughter, Ashley, and her daugher and fiance were here, too. The kids enjoyed the pool. There was plenty of food and good to chat with everyone.

Autumn saw the picture on the wall from her birthday party and wanted to know how I got it. I said I took the picture. She said, "Were you there?" Then she said to her Pappaw, "You didn't come to my birthday party." He told her yes, in fact, he was at both of her parties.

The Hurricane and Holden went home with their Aunt Michelle for a week, giving their mom almost a break. She still has the Clinger and the Bakery.

Don't ask!

Another Day in Paradise

Here is it, Sunday already. Before I know it I'll be back at work.

I did get my first three chapters from Home Sweet Home to the agent, and I've worked on the first five chapters of Home at Last (Yep, I need new titles) to send to the editor. But first, I have to work on the synopsis.

I attended  Romance Writers of America National Conference last week It was held at the Dolphin at Disney this year. Only problem--the place is so huge and I walked until I thought my legs would fall off!

The PRO retreat was great. Donald Maas was one of the speakers, and he is really good and keeps you entertained, along with giving good advice about writing. He says to write good women's fiction you need to be pissed off about something--anything--but let it out. Hmm. I think I can do that.

The agent I met was nice and easy to talk to. I worried about the editor, but I liked her. She, too, was easy to speak with.

My one regret is I didn't attend more workshops. Why? Because I had to walk and walk and by the time I found it I missed it!

Happy Writing everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

More on Obitch Queen

While working on my manuscript, I've had to do some research--and am still researching  of Obitch Queen. I talked to a man in the sheriff's department about human trafficking in selling babies. My friend called him first--she's in law enforcement--to make sure he didn't think I was some weirdo.

So when he called me in a week I told him we thought perhaps he was investigating me to see if I really was a weirdo. He laughed and answered my questions.

I kept a journal while working at the newspaper. It's funny, I forgot a lot of things that happened when I worked there. Like when our editor quit and we had this obnoxious man who wrote headlines like Downtown Libia bombed. Our publisher gushed about how good this guy was, then called the editorial staff into his small smoked-filled office to tell us we should watch for things like that.

We told him how Mr. Hotshot refused to listen to us when we told him something was wrong.

BTW--Mr. Hotshot advertised in another paper for women. OK so the rest of us had a good laugh. This man wore a dalmatian tie with lots of food stains on it, smelled like vomit most days and had hair that looked like he'd just stuck his finger into a light socket.

 Mr. Hotshot wanted one of the reporters to spy on the firemen. "How else can we find out what they're doing?"

And then I read how we ate at Red's, a local bar with good food--and drinks.

I happily forgot about the guy at the place where I got my weather reports asking me several times to go to his cabin with him, yeah, right. And then wanting me to write a story about how he worked with abused women. So what would I write? That he probably took advantage of those said women?

But there were many fun times. I had three morticians show up one day to bring me gifts. Okay, so they really wanted to check me out. I just hoped they hadn't come with a tape measure to check me out for a coffin. They brought me a wad of pencils because I had to write so much (Yep, in those days we still did some things by hand), a candle holder like they put on top of coffins and a picture frame for my granddaughter's picture. They were nice guys and fun to talk to.

Since I also did the farm news, the other reporters would say okay, what do I really want to know about pigs now?

More later. It's time to go to bed.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm back!

I am a sorry blogger, but I'm going to try to get better.

Since I last was on here, I became a grandmother--again! Sterling makes grandbaby number 10. Pretty soon I'll be yelling, Hurricane, Angel, Noah, whoever you are, come here!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get back into the grove of writing on a regular basis. My latest work in progress is titled, Obitch Queen. Where did that come from? At one time I worked at a small newspaper in Ohio. One of my jobs was to take the obituaries. When you work at a small paper you do everything, from writing the news to layout. Okay, so things today are probably different, but back in the old days...

I learned morticians are funny. I thought they were serious. I learned more than I wanted to know at times. Well, okay, that's not true. I used to ask a lot of questions. They liked talking to me because when they called other newspapers they would hear the reporters say, "You take it! I don't want to talk to them."

They don't know what they missed. One guy would make up stories about the deceased when we talked. Or he would tell me funny things that happened to him on the job. Like what? Like people who called the funeral homes and asked for teeth. No kidding. They really did. They said the dead folks didn't need the teeth and would be upset to learn they couldn't have them. Now tell me how gross that is?

My novel has a lot of things in it from my reporter days--I kept journals.

Till next time--CU!
Obitch Queen

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I'm a finalist for another Chicken Soup Story. It's about my cousins and me having to wear clothing from chicken feed bags. I hope it sells--won't know until September.

If I can figure out how to attach this book trailer I juat received I'll post it. I've never done this before.

We have another grandson, Sterling Connor. He's the brother of Hurricane Emma and Noah and Holden.

We had the Hurricane for three days. She got ticked at her Pappaw because he told her she was spoiled. And she got ticked because she was told to apologize to Maggie, our dog, for doing something to make her yelp. Of course, she said she didn't do anything. I caught her taking Icarus's mouth and make it open and close like a puppet's, she got on the floor face to face and growled at Zeus and he snapped at her.

Noah got his first haircut here the other day. It's still longish. I'll try to post picks here.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

My story in Chicken Soup for the Soul, All in the family

The local newspaper interviewed me about the story I wrote. Here's a link to read it.