Monday, November 30, 2015

THE BOOK OF ST. ZERN - CHAPTER NOW





1. Verily, verily, I say unto you that readeth this missive doeth it in the month of December in preparation for the ringing in of the end of the year of our Lord, two thousand and fifteen, both that and the celebrating of the birth of one baby Jesus, and doth read it for the knowing of both the family of Zern and she that keepeth the record, one Linda of Antioch.

2. But he that readeth doth readeth to his good humor for we did laugh much in this self-same year.

3. For verily, there were many lambs in the flock of our tribe, yeah the lambs doth number twelve and they were called: Zoe (12), Emma (10), Conner (9), Kip (7), Sadie (7), Zac (5), Reagan (5), Hero (3), Griffin (3), Scout (2), Leidy (1) and Ever (infant).

4. But we did waiteth with great expectation for yet the thirteenth lamb. He, being born in Texas to his goodly parents, Lauren of Saint Cloud and Aric of Orlando, on or near the day of birth that is my own.

5. And one mother, yeah, one Heather Baye of Geneva, did speak much to say that she is “a shell of her former self,” because of the antics of her five lambs. For they did wrestle much and cause much destruction in the land of Antioch—not by purpose but more by chance. Or as one, Conner of Saint Cloud, their brother, doth report, “My brothers be like an angry mob.”

6. And these good parents—one Heather of Geneva and Phillip of Bountiful, and Adam of Orlando and Sarah of Saint Cloud, and Maren of Geneva and Thomas of Titusville—did go forth teaching, and feeding, and clothing, and correcting, and mopping, and praying, and worrying much over their lambs. Watching forth always for wolves and the like that doth wish to harm the sheep.

7. And Zoe, in her eleventh year, did becometh like unto a young woman and did entereth into the “danger zone” of both the teenage years and the drama queen days that passeth away without understanding and she did leadeth the rest of the flock into that selfsame way. And we did both rejoice and mourn and hope to endure it well.

8. Then saith Sherwood of Winter Park unto the rising generation, Who wisheth to ride the lawnmower around the house until the gas doth give out. And the lambs did waiteth in line for their turn, some with joy and thanksgiving and some with the pitching of mighty fits. And the rest, even the fathers and mothers among us, did sitteth much about the fire pot and watch as Sherwood of Winter Park did driveth in large and mighty circles upon the mower, trying to keep those that driveth both straight and true and out of the fire pot.

9. Therefore, I did write much of their doings and did post much, yea, even now on my blog for almost the twentieth year and my family dideth ask me oft at Sunday dinner, Art thou not on Twitter?

10. And I did restrain from destroying them with my fiery wrath for not following after me both on Twitter and Facebook and Linkedin and . . .

11. But I did stay my hand.

12. For I know that should my writing become of a kind that is called viral, they would come more oft for dinner and so I do forebear.

13. And many ask if my family doth object to their stories being told far and wide at my hand and I do report that they do not object, save they recei
veth a dollar each time I uttereth their names. And so they selleth their birthright for a mess of dollar bills like unto those that dance in the marketplace.

14. And so my tribe doth both increase and prosper and laugh much, it being our way in the land. And so my days did pass away as if in a dream—of circus clowns.

15. And I make an end, even, Linda of Antioch.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

LOVING BOOKS




AUTHORS FOR AUTHORS BOOK FAIR - EAU GALLIE


THE STAFF: Sherwood, Head of IT and Zoe, Head of Sales. Author for Authors Book Fair. Had a ball, learned a lot, met great people, sold a book or two . . . not too bad . . .



ZippityZern's: A Collage
The Long-Promised Song
Beyond the Strandline
Mooncalf

Friday, November 20, 2015

JUKE JOINT

Juke! It’s a great word, meaning so many delightful things. The first definition of the word is: 1) To defeat an opponent by using subtlety, cleverness, or a trickery. 

According to this definition, my fifty-seven year old husband was juked by a five-year old boy, who happily confessed, “Mr. Sherwod, we chased your chickens, but you weren’t looking.” 

Of course, this five-year old might need to work on his subtlety a bit.

Juke is a verb. It’s what you do to someone. In this case, it’s what a bunch of kindergarteners did to my husband. Chase is what they did to our chickens.

A second meaning of the word juke is: 2) To steal from someone else. The problem with this definition of the word is that there are so many examples these days of folks juking each other’s time, energy, money, and stuff, it’s hard to narrow it down. For example: Wow, watching that last Hollywood comedy was a colossal waste of my time, and that’s two hours I’ll never get back and I want to sue someone for pain and suffering and the theft of two hours of my eighty plus or minus years on this earth, and I got juked, or the government has juked my tax money to finance studies of shrimp running on a treadmill. 

A third meaning of the word juke is: 3) To dance while grinding one's [back parts] against another dancer's pelvis. This slang is common in Chicago.

I’ll be darned. I thought this was called “dirty dancing.”

And finally: 4) To stab another person. This slang is common in South London. 4) He got juked and mugged between the tube station and his flat. Crime abhors a vacuum and since London is a gun free zone, being stabbed with a knife has gotten its own slang term. Don’t juke me, or I juke you not.

Here I was under the impression that juke meant going to hear my grandfather play his tenor sax in a speakeasy or juke joint where you might find a jukebox, which plays music for a dime, in Chicago during the depression. Apparently, things have changed a bit in Chicago since my grandparents lived there.

Juke. It’s a great word and I plan to use it more in casual conversation, starting soon. 

Because it’s good to have goals, and I’m not juking you.

Linda (The Trickster) Zern 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Monkey Chic

“You can’t wear seventeen monkeys to church.”


Zoe, my six-year old granddaughter, had come to church literally draped in monkeys. She had two to twenty monkeys Velcro-ed around her neck. There were monkey bracelets wrapped around her wrists. She had thrown a monkey backpack over her shoulders and topped the entire monkey collection off with a monkey hat. 

Zoe glowed with pride in her accessorizing acumen. 

She looked like a zoo exhibit had exploded onto her body. 

The ensuing conversation between Zoe’s father and Zoe (better known as Cheetah Girl, Queen of the Jungle) over the appropriate number of monkeys a person should wear to church lasted the major part of our church service and included tears, frustration, and gnashing of teeth. And that was just the Dad.

Arguments that do not work to de-monkey a monkey girl include:

“Zoe, no one else is wearing thirty-three monkeys to church.”

“Zoe, mommy isn’t wearing twenty-seven monkeys to church.”

“Zoe, all those monkeys are going to scare the babies.”

“Zoe, no one will be able to concentrate on the service, because they’ll be trying to count the monkeys on your body.”

“Zoe, all the other children will want your monkeys and they’ll cry.”

“Zoe, the monkeys are making your father break out in monkey pox.”

“Zoe, you’re going to cause a riot.”

“Zoe, take off the monkeys.”

“Zoe, NO MONKEYS!”

“Oh, let her wear the monkeys.” This from her Poppy, who would let the grandchildren go to church in their underwear, carrying flyswatters if they wanted to.

There are people who climb great mountains. There are people who explore active volcanoes. There are people who show up at Wal-Mart at four in the morning, on black Friday, to be the first to buy the Griddle MAX by Cuisinart for one dollar. 

These people are known as thrill seekers—also nuts.

All of these people combined cannot hope to experience the stamina and courage required to argue the taste level of monkey fashion with a six-year old. Parenting is the ultimate extreme sport, right up there with bungee jumping into a river using a chain of monkeys Velcro-ed to a bridge railing.

For one long year, my youngest son, Adam, refused to leave the house until his sisters tied his hair up in a rubber band. His hair stuck out of his head like a hair horn, but since he was my fourth child and my second son, I knew better than to care. I was numb, which is another way of saying I had cried, “Uncle!” quietly. 

When Adam could finally talk, he told us his rubber-banded hair horn was his “feather.” Who knew Adam had been embracing his Native American heritage and had been reaching out to his ancestors all that time?

Climb a great mountain if you must. Dance about the rim of a spewing volcano if you dare.

But if you really want the thrill of unpredictability, the raw terror of potential destruction, or the rush that comes from a total loss of control, then go car shopping with a four-year old boy. A boy who, at any moment, might drop his pants so that he can take a whiz on the tire of a brand new Lincoln Town Car— in public—in the showroom—in front of the entire sales force of The Central Florida Lincoln-Mercury dealership. 

(We bought the Cougar station wagon. We did not get the special discount.)

Or you can attempt to convince Zoe that wearing a mob of monkeys just “isn’t done” in polite society, which is like trying to convince cannibals that boiled meat is not fine dinner fare. 

Linda (No Fly Swatters) Zern 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

HIGHER EDUCATION

As a college dropout: Because - I refuse to go into massive debt; waste time writing crap for people who will read my essays once and then give me a score like a Russian figure skating judge; or hear one more time why Republicans suck, Mormons are bigots, and that I should donate tons of money back to the institution that spawned me should I ever graduate and get RICH . . . oops, sorry, as a college dropout I like to reflect on my years in higher education. 

NOTE: I can use semi-colons according to one of my professors for emphasis, while another of my teachers said that semi-colons are out because they’re ugly.

Anyway, I like to reflect. 

One of the moments I like to reflect on from my experience as a higher education student is of my friend. We’ll call her Morning Glory. She was wicked funny and a lesbian and a comrade and a left wing liberal down to her communist comrade hat. I loved her, and we laughed—a lot.

One day, I walked into class. Morning Glory looked at me, a quizzical expression on her face. 

She said, “What is it with you?” And then she made a circling gesture over her face. 

Puzzled at first, I touched my face and then realized she was asking me how I could come into class, smiling, a lot.

“What?” I said, “Happy?”

“Yeah, that.” And then she narrowed her eyes at me and said, “And don’t tell me that you are high on Jesus.”

“Okay,” I said and sat.

Here’s the funniest part of the story, I would never use the phrase ‘high on Jesus.’ It’s not in my lexicon.

Here’s the saddest part of the story, that my friend was so unacquainted with happiness that she did not know it when she saw it plastered across my face every morning.

Ahhhhhh, higher education! So much knowledge, so little learning . . .

I’m thinking of transferring to BYU Hawaii to finish up. I hear the weather is lovely.

Linda (4.0) Zern

Monday, November 9, 2015

REVIEWS AND YOU!

Write a book. I dare you. It’s a labor of blood, sweat, and tears, and sometimes, actual blood dribbles down into the keyboard, gumming up the works and sending authors racing to the Apple Store for new stuff like a laptop. But mostly, it’s a labor of tears and sweat. After that, there’s a book and it’s beautiful and lovely and of good report.

And then the reviews come in.

“The descriptions are amazing. I could smell, hear, taste, and touch the humidity.”

“There could have been more description of humidity.”

“The action lagged in only one spot.”

“The action was almost too much. I liked when the characters sat around and talked.”

“Too hot.”

“Too cold.”

“Too many bears.”

And so it goes . . .

Seriously, and so it goes . . .

I love feedback from readers and reviews are publishing’s lifeblood, but there’s a trick to keeping reviews in perspective. Don’t try. 

Don’t misunderstand. I am a big believer in studying and refining craft. I have about a hundred books on writing to prove it, but honestly it’s a crapshoot trying to get the number of bears right for every single person that will pick up and read your book. 

It’s important to know that the world is full of experts, critics, and people with peeves. 

Keep writing.

Keep in mind that every reader brings his or her own experiences and hang-ups to the story. 

“You’re such a nice lady. How do you write about such terrible things happening to children . . . and bears?”

“Too much cussing.”

“Not enough cussing.”

Just keep writing.

“Cliff hangers make me breathe hard and dream furry dreams.”

Keep on writing.

“Why aren’t there fifty shades of gray zombies in your story?”

Write and write and write.

Then, on a fine humid day full of expectation and lemonade, a reader will grab you by the shoulders and say, “Linda! Your book! I couldn’t put it down!” making you run not walk back to the keyboard and proving that crying blood-sweat to get your story told is a small price to pay.

Then sit down and write.

Linda (Keyed Up) Zern

DISCLAIMER: All the above quotes are fictional and represent no actual opinions from any actual readers about any actual review stuff. Mostly, it’s based on smart aleck stuff my kids have said. Sigh. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

TALKING POLITICS: THE RULES


After the last national election I had to block about a thousand people from my social network. I didn’t want to, but I had to. I don’t enjoy people dancing on other people’s graves. It hurts my heart, and aren’t hearts the most important organ of the body: full of feelings, and emotions, and irrational hurts, and liberal amounts of sentimentality.
Except the heart isn’t the most important organ of the body, and feelings aren’t centered in it. Feelings originate in our brains. Hearts beat to serve the brain.Emotions are a product of our gray matter . . . or they should be.
Anyway, after the last election when my “friends” chortled and exulted and rubbed their candidates’ wins in my face (after warning me not to chortle or exult or rub their faces in it should my candidate win) I realized that double standards have become the norm in all things politic. Therefore, I have been working on a set of rules for discussing politics for the coming contest.
Rule #1. Everyone gets to talk up why they like his or her candidate without fear of being blindsided by strangers. To be allowed to crap on your guy or gal, individuals out there in the cyber jungle have to be able to name one of the following: the title of one of my books, the title of one of my blogs, the name of my youngest child. Please state your name, party affiliation, and major hangups for the record.
Rule #2. Arguments for or against a candidate should be backed up with logical discussion of the individual’s background and philosophy. For example: “I like Hitler because he can really get a crowd going, he is super popular, and he’s Time Magazine’s Man of the Year” are not acceptable.
Rule #3. Full discloser is absolutely required. “I think this guy [or gal] will buy all my toilet paper for the rest of my life, and I’ve already worked that into my budget,” or “He’s my boss!” are acceptable declarations. “I’m still waiting for the first Clinton to pay for two years of community college for my kids like he promised,” is also acceptable.
Rule #4. Cynicism encouraged. “I’m not sure any human being can—with the force of his or her personality—fix everyone’s everything. I’d have to see the spreadsheet on that.” Candidates are just people, folks.
Rule #5. Name-calling is right out. Smart, sharp witty comments are right in. Whining prohibited. Double standards will be highlighted, targeted, and blown to cynical bits.
Rule #5-A. Using the number 19 trillion in a sentence is encouraged. For example: I have 19 trillion questions I’d like to ask American voters who think that coming to the potluck dinner without bringing any food but expecting to eat is a winning, helpful, sustainable lifestyle.
Rule #6. Understand that I believe that compromising with evil is never a win. I believe that absolutes like good and evil actually exist and that humans are capable of free will, and that wickedness will never be happiness (even if someone else pays for all the penicillin.)
Linda (Sister Suffragette) Zern

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#BEYONDtheSTRANDLINE

Sometimes the talk is serious, still fun, but serious. Check out our prepper blog about pockets (best invention known to man.)





Monday, November 2, 2015

THAT'S A SHAME

“Is that guy biting that girl’s thigh?” My son pushed a computer screen with a picture of a guy biting a girl’s thigh in front of my face. I squinted. Not only was it a picture of a young man biting a young women’s thigh, I knew the biter boy.

“Don’t you know that guy?” My son began to scroll down to other pictures of the young man in question biting other questionable girl bits.

“Yeah, I know him,” I sighed.

“Didn’t you . . .”

I cut him off. “Yeah, I wrote him a letter of recommendation for the college of his choice . . . so, apparently, he could go to that institution of higher learning and bite girl’s meaty leg parts.”

“Wow!” 

I agreed. 

“Do people on social networking sites know that we can see them?” My son looked at me with a puzzled frown.

I closed my eyes with visions of thigh biting dancing in my head. “You know; I think it’s kind of like my theory of why people pick their noses in their cars. Glass feels solid, even if it is see-through, and I always want to yell, ‘We can see you!’ But no one ever hears me. Apparently, it’s also sound proof.”

This incident just highlights why writing letters of recommendation can be so problematic, because the world has become a thigh biting, obscene gesture shooting, booby flashing extravaganza, while I still blush when I fill out the forms in the gynecologist’s waiting room. 

The blush is off the world’s rose, that’s for sure.

So I have decided that in all future letters of recommendation that I am asked to write I will include the following disclaimer:

What I know of this candidate, student, or potential employee does not include knowledge of: thigh biting photo’s winging their way across the world wide web; strange or twisted philosophies concerning Marxists mass murderers and their views on day care, first names, or the proper running of a gulag; lying to Israeli officials; or superficial tattoos displayed prominently on bits that can be chewed on by boys whose friends are sober enough to hold the camera steady.

I’m not kidding about the blushing part. My gynecologist once looked at my face and neck, his glasses slipping to the end of his nose, and poked my cheek with his finger.

“What’s that?” he asked.

I knew immediately, but I refused to admit to my old-fashioned red-faced shame.

“Are you blushing?” He looked at my fevered cheeks with squinty eyes. “That’s amazing,” he continued. “Nobody blushes anymore.” He poked me again. “Look at that.” He acted like he’d just discovered an extinct species of pigeon nesting on my head.

Sighing, I shrugged and pulled my exam gown closer to my throat, covering my embarrassed shame with a paper towel, wondering who wrote my doctor his letters of recommendation.

I’ve got nothing against public confessionals of guilt to save the taxpayer the expense of a trial, stocks in the town square where you get to throw old veggies at the town bully, and admitting to your most embarrassing self deprecating moments for their humorous uplifting quality, but don’t cry when you—finally and at long last—realize WE CAN SEE YOU and, boy, do you look silly!

Linda (Once Bitten, Twice Shy) Zern
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