Recently I began Tweeting. Against my will. Okay, not exactly against my will, but reluctantly.

So while up to this point maintaining three blogs has been fairly easy, I fear that adding Twitter and eventually Facebook to the mix may be pushing things. After all, I still need to write novels and my family expects cooking, cleaning and other maid services to continue uninterrupted.

So I've decided to experiment with maintaining just two blogs for a while. Ergo the essays you usually find here will now be over at  http://www.reginarichards.net/ for at least the next few weeks.

Why reginarichards.net rather than one-little-elephant.com for this experiment in media simplification? I love the design of One Little Elephant, but the things I post here are buried deep in the search engines. On the other hand, reginarichards.net is usually on page one.

Please, please, please follow me over to http://www.reginarichards.net/. I don't want to lose you!

Something that's helping me write today: the courage to take a chance on change.


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But please check out my post this week at http://www.4badmommies.com/ and please leave a comment. I'd appreciate it!

Something that's helping me write today: a quiet house.


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Once in there is no escape from the queue, short of vaulting over a barrier of display tables. My heart sinks as the fan line goes sluggish just as I come abreast Author One.

She's a lovely person: bright, vivacious, generous. But I'm on a budget. I've promised myself I'll only spend $20 at this signing. To ensure it I've only brought $20. That means two books tops. There are four authors signing.

Author One and I make awkward chit-chat while I politely eye her offerings and she arranges and rearranges her erotic romances. It quickly becomes embarrassingly clear I'm not going to buy. She glances past me to the next person in line - repeatedly. We are thinking in stereo: Please let the line move on. Now.

I wonder if she thinks I disapprove of erotic romance and that is my reason for not buying. It isn't. It's about only having come to the store with $20. But that said, I do share my home with voracious teenage readers.

I'd been scolded not long ago by a friend who noticed a handful of way hot romances mixed in with the year's other big-sellers on the bookshelf in my office. It didn't matter, she warned, if I was reading them as market research; having them in the house guaranteed my teens would read them. Did I allow my teens to go to sexually explicit movies?

Er, no.

Then why, my friend demanded, would I expose them to sexually explicit books?

Point taken. I'm against censoring adults' reading materials, but my personal tastes run more in the PG category. So protecting my teens was a real and handy excuse that let me off the 'market research' hook for reading the steamies. I'd driven away from the donation center without a backward glance and gone home - content - to my newly roomy bookshelf.

Finally the queue moved forward. I smiled at Author Two. Her new release , comfortably PG-13, was the reason I'd come to the bookstore today. I snagged a copy and she signed it for me. We chatted. The line moved forward again.

I had enough money remaining to buy one more book and though the signing table had been set up for four authors, I noted with relief that the last chair was empty. My money would take me to end of the table without any additional akwardness.

Author Three was offering both blazing hot and milder fare. I chose a mild one. As she signed it a chorus of scolding jubilation rippled through the crowd.  Young, beautiful, genuinely kind-hearted, and terrifically talented, Author Four was a crowd favorite. She slid into the last seat at the signing table while her entourage set up a snacks table at the end of the line and the crowd sweetly scolded her. She'd just had major surgery. She shouldn't be there. But the crowd was glad she was.

They flocked around the food, laughing and talking, blocking the queue from moving. I stood trapped in front of Author Four with no money left to spend.

We made awkward conversation about her health and her work. I felt a nightmare-ish sense of deja vu as she arranged and rearranged her display of ultra-steamy books, glancing past me repeatedly to the next person in line. People around me began to frown. I could almost hear them thinking: Who's the complete casserole who won't buy from this beloved author who has valiantly risen from her sick bed to be here?

Mercifully, the huddle at the refreshment table finally cleared enough for me to squeeze past the barrier of display tables. I shot out of the queue and past the refreshment table, paid for my books and slunk out of the store.

Note to self: never leave your credit card at home.

Something that's helping me write today: an unusual bout of insomnia.


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Elana Johnson, author of POSSESSION, has done an interview at http://www.authorsadvisory.blogspot.com/  that is really worth listening to.

Something that's helping me write today:  Recharged energy from a relaxing weekend spent at my cousin's lakehouse with people who, by their example, remind me of what an adventure life can be when we use our gifts and talents to the fullest.


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I'm having tea with a girlfriend in a public place. A man we both know stops to talk. Though I've known him for years he is a nodding acquaintance only. Someone you know without really knowing, probably met at a long ago PTA meeting or soccer game.

Today he seems agitated. He sits, then stands, then sits again. He begins to ask pointed questions about my religious upbringing. It reminds me of the street preachers that used to hang about campus when I was in college, the ones who often confused my relaxed disposition for a malleable mind.

He stands again and begins to pace. There is a quality of controlled franticness to his movements. He launches into a monologue about his responsibility to correct his brothers and sisters. He describes the methods he has for doing this. Most depend upon inducing guilt and feelings of worthlessness in his target, in his mind a necessary condition before they can realize the error of their ways.

He stops pacing abruptly and looks first at my girlfriend and then at me, as if choosing. We sip our tea. We are sisters at some deep level, but with personalities as different as Kung Fu and Tai Chi. He decides on Tai Chi.

He pulls a chair over, sits too close, and stares into my eyes with an intensity designed to intimidate. Then in a chastising tone he lists what he sees as my failings. These are surprisingly minor - but then he barely knows me. His face is hard, authoritarian, as if demanding I break down and weep my repentance. I smile politely into his eyes as if I am pleasantly deaf.

Nearly half a minute passes. Our eyes are locked, his demanding my submission, mine happily clueless. Across the table Kung Fu is silent with interest. His neck muscles bunch beneath the strength of his emotion as he wills me, wills me, to respond. What does he want, I wonder. Shame, humiliation, subjugation? Does he expect me to defend myself against his accusations of trifling sins like too much soda, too much mother-pride, too spoiled an existence, serenity he claims is rooted in arrogance rather than humility. I continue to smile into his eyes, wordless. His face reddens. Veins bulge. I begin to think he will have a stroke. I take pity.

"How is your family?" I ask sweetly. Like a lion tamer who's swaggered into a cage whip in hand only to find that his adversary is a kitten, he seizes the opportunity to exit with some dignity.

"You're too kind, playing dumb," Kung Fu says. "I would have punched him in the gut, verbally of course."

Part of me wanted to. But not long after that I hear through the grapevine that that day was one of the worst of his life. Things had happened to him, big things, before he crossed my path, that had left him angry and humiliated and heartbroken. In pain, he wanted to inflict pain on another, and for whatever reason he chose me.

God bless him.

Something that's helping me write today: the reminder that it's easier to write about life if you get out there and live it.


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