Sunday, January 21, 2007

Catching Up

Rochelle Weber--Author, Editor, Professional Grandmother

I realize I’ve been neglecting my blogs terribly. It’s been an eventful few months personally, but not professionally. I have started editing for a company in Champaign called Publication Services. I’m editing books published by I-Universe, Barnes & Noble’s vanity press. The writing so far has been pretty bad. These books were not selected from a slush pile or screened by an agent. It’s more a case of “If you have the money, we have the ink.” And, these “authors” do, indeed, have the money or their books wouldn’t reach my desk. I haven’t made a whole lot of money with them yet, but they like my work and projects do come in.

The holidays are an extended time for me. They basically started in October with Halloween. I drove up to Chicago and attended the Mensa HalloweeM gathering the last weekend of October. I had a blast. It’s been three years since I attended ’WeeM, but I’ve been on the Hell’s Ms list most of that time connecting with other Mensans who love to party and many of them were at ’WeeM, so we were able to put faces to names. I finally played “Double Deck War Killer Hearts” and found out why the word “kumquats” is used on the list to warn people that there may be sexual content in the e-mail they’re about to open in case they’re at work or the kids are around. It seems one of our members (who was sitting next to me at the card game as it happens) blushes when any word is used that has a sexual connotation. One day, during a discussion of her physical reaction, someone said “Well, does the word kumquats make you blush?” Not quite. It made her laugh so hard she squeaked. And it still does.

From the hotel in Arlington Heights, I drove up to my daughter’s in McHenry. There was a family wedding on my ex’s side in Arkansas the following week and the kids were leaving on Wednesday and returning Monday, so I babysat my granddaughter. It was nice having that weekend with her. I see her much less frequently than her cousins and it was good to have some bonding time together. For one kid, she about ran me ragged! We went out to dinner and shopping on Friday, shopping and to Borders to browse on Saturday, and to dinner and a movie on Sunday. With trips to the library so I could check my e-mail in between. The kids are in temporary quarters. Their house is being built and their rental of the last two years was sold before their house was ready so they had to scramble for a temporary rental. They didn’t bother setting up their computer or hooking up to the internet.

The second weekend in November, I attended a sci-fi convention in Chicago. I had planned to come home after that, but the kids hosted Thanksgiving/Christmas over the Thanksgiving weekend, so I stayed in McHenry for two more weeks. On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the kids drove down to Will County and met my son-in-law’s sister and nieces at a truck stop so my daughter could drive them through the Chicago traffic. My other daughter, her fiancé and all four of their kids arrived around 5 a.m. on Thursday. It was a fun weekend with eight adults and nine kids in the house. We had turkey on Thursday, then on Friday we had ham. We each opened one gift Friday night—pj’s all around—and then on Saturday morning we opened the rest of our gifts. I didn’t have gifts for the kids, as I hadn’t planned on doing my shopping that early. We had brunch and then we all left for our respective homes to give the kids a day to rest and clean house before they had to go back to work. I had been gone a full month and my cats were not happy. They didn’t speak to me all day.

Oh, and while I was up there, I managed to visit my sister. We went out to lunch and had a nice chat. She is in her seventies and had a stroke two years ago. Still, she and my brother-in-law live in a senior community in Grayslake and are active in their community center. She plays “Mexican Train Dominoes” and for awhile was playing Mah Jong [sp?], but she found the rules frustrating.

My youngest planned to have Christmas the weekend before the holiday, as her exes had the kids on the holiday, but I was sick that weekend and the kids weren’t finished shopping. They held Christmas the weekend of New Years, but I stayed home as my neighbor, his girlfriend and I hosted a karaoke party New Years Eve. Most of the guests had small children and left before midnight, but there were about eight of us still around to drink Asti Spumante and toast the New Year. A friend came down from Chicago and crashed at my place, then took me out for brunch and left for home. I came home and had a nice, quiet day with no football. I watched movies and the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel and wrote a bit and read a bit.

The following weekend I went to Terre Haute to celebrate Christmas and my birthday. I gave my grandkids board games and karaoke discs to go with the karaoke machine the kids bought. So we sang and played games all weekend. I played Chutes & Ladders with the “babies” Presley is now four and Abby is three and soon they won’t appreciate being called “the babies.” I played “The Game of Life” with Beth and Alex, and the kids played “Twister.” We had steak dinner and birthday cake and the kids gave me a set of real cultured pearls. They’re beautiful and when I chided them on spending so much, my daughter reminded me they aren’t married yet. Those pearls will make a wonderful “something borrowed!”

So, for me, “the holidays” spanned Halloween to my birthday and were full of family and friends and fun. My New Year’s resolution was to try to write everyday and to read everyday. Well, I’ve kept up with the writing, but not so much with the reading. I’m up to Chapter 14 in my re-write of Rock Bound. I attended a writers’ workshop at ConClave in Detroit in October and the critique caused me to go back to the first chapter and change some things so I went through the book making more changes. I’ve dropped my self-imposed deadlines and will finish it when I finish it. I don’t know whether I have any more books in me. I read newsletters from writer friends who each have four or five projects going at once and it makes me think maybe I’m a better editor than writer. I don’t meet many writers who go over a chapter and cut something every time they read it. Usually they guard every word as though it was gold. I’ve probably cut enough out of this book to fill two or three novels and yet all I have that’s worth publishing is a novella. But words flow out of my fingertips if I know what I’m writing about. Maybe I should make my living as a ghost writer.

Finally, I was able to go out singing on my birthday, was able to close the bar without losing my voice or popping nitro, and came home not reeking of cigarette smoke! Urbana is smoke-free, Champaign will be in less than two weeks, and we’re now working on the State of Illinois!

I have a good rant in me but will save it for next week. For now—I hope you will have a warm, loving, and prosperous 2007.


  1. Anonymous5:06 PM

    Can i buy the books you edit near my hotel in Palermo?

  2. I don't know whether any of those books are still in print. You can buy my book, Rock Bound, at Amazon later this month.