First Cousin, Second Cousin, or Once or Twice Removed

It seems cousins used to frequent literature a lot more than they do today. My guess is authors used the cousin relationship to explain why characters were present in their stories, especially as houseguests. Today, authors don’t seem to feel the need to explain visitors in our much more casual society.

I have some first cousins once removed on both my mom and my dad’s sides of the family to whom I’m close. I find I’m frequently asked to explain exactly what that relationship is as most would label us second cousins. Actually, most probably wouldn’t care, but I’m going to explain it anyway.

First cousins are the chlldren of my aunts and uncles, my parents siblings–easy peasy.

The children of my first cousins are my first cousins once removed. The children of my first cousins would be my children’s second cousins.

When my first cousins once removed have children, they are my first cousins twice removed. They would be my children’s second cousins once removed.

It is complicated and I’ll admit I spend way too much time trying to figure it out.

My dad had eight siblings who lived to adulthood, and by my best count, there were twenty-eight first cousins on that side of the family. My mom had six siblings live to adulthood who parented seventeen children. By my math, I have about forty-five first cousins.

I actually (at one time) knew all of my first cousins and am still in touch with most of them. After I became an adult, I got to know the children of some of my first cousins (on both sides) i.e. first cousins, once removed, and they’re some of my favorite relatives.

My dad’s side of the family has a family reunion every summer. It started when I was a little girl so it’s been going on for over fifty years. In the beginning, it was just a bring-a-dish luncheon. There were lots of people there who I had no idea who they were. I was convinced they drove by, saw the commotion, stopped, hugged a few people, and ate a fabulous lunch. Now, however, it’s a weekend affair. I’ve been a few times in recent years and I still have no idea who many of the people attending are. But these people are paying for accommodations and meals so I doubt they’re drifters. This is when it’s handy to know this whole cousin relationship bit.

Where am I going with this? I have no idea, except my next post is about a visit to our godchild, my first cousin twice removed. So that’s where I’m going, I guess…


Divorce — Writing style

Divorce is tough. I know. I had a surprise one after 21 years of marriage when I was 42 years old. Yikes! What was I going to do? First, I had to get a job and support myself. After I got settled into that and a few years later remarried, I realized (with some help from my hubby) it was time to do something for myself. Like pursue my passion…writing

Did you know only 2% of writers have an agent? And I was lucky enough to get one.

Last week my agent and I parted ways. It was no fault of anyone…it was just time. But it’s still hard…and scary…and this divorce was my idea. Now I have to find a new agent. What was I thinking?

Of course, one can self publish (please, please, please get an editor if you go this route!), and many publishers accept unagented manuscripts. But, I’m from the old school. I want an agent to guide me through the process, explain things as we go along, negotiate contracts, be my advocate. I want someone in my corner.

Now, I start the search over again, but I feel I know much more about the industry. It isn’t (quite) as intimidating as it was the first time around. If I don’t find a new agent by the first of the year, I may submit to publishers myself, though I’d really rather not. I actually have a publisher I met at a conference who is waiting for my agent to send my m/s to her (they don’t take direct submissions), so that might be a plus in my quest. I do not intend to self-publish.

While it is scary being out here without someone to watch my back, it’s a little exciting to look for someone new. I know what questions to ask. I’m not afraid to say no if it isn’t a good match. No match is better than a bad match.

So, keep your fingers crossed I’ll find just the right person to represent me in my road to publication. I know (s)he is out there. I’ve just got to find her.



May your Thanksgiving be blessed with love and good fortune.




~ Kay

In Memory of Daddy





January 1 – 1933 – Nov 20, 2013

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MAC Collision

I love lemonade…especially Chick-fil-a diel lemonaid. We buy a gallon of it a week and I’m pretty much the only one who drinks it. Since I don’t drink soda or coffee, lemonade, water and an occasional glass of wine are my drinks of choice.

I have a bottle of water or a glass (with a top on it) with me at all times. I couldn’t sleep a few nights ago, some characters had some things they wanted to say, so I got up to write.

I snagged a bottle of water and proceeded to my office. When I got sleepy enough I thought I could sleep again (about 1:30 a.m.) I decided to head back to bed.

For work, I sit on a loveseat pulled next to the back of my desk where I have a large monitor so I can edit from it while working on my laptop and snuggling with my pillow and blankee in the loveseat. On the other side of the loveseat books are stacked, usually some unopened mail and, at any given time, other things I need to look at or handle. I have a long pillow I keep across the back of the loveseat and it conveniently hids the clutter.

Same thing with my desk, my monitor is pulled to the edge. I usually have 2 or 3 half drank bottles of water and a glass of lemonade–always with a lid on it. I have a corner lamp, paper clips, stapler, sizzers and TV remote (all of which I try to keep within easy reach so it’s pretty tight.

Anyway, back to my story…when I finished writing last week, I sat my laptop down (open) on the loveseat. I reached over it to get the bottles of water (caps on) to return to the frige to cool and a styrophome cup of the remnents of a cup of lemonaid I’d gotten from Chick-fil-la the last time I’d gone in to buy a gallen and couldn’t wait to get home for my fix.

As I was gathering the liquid…you guessed it…the lemonaid spilled. I’m not sure what happened. Either the top came off, I dropped it…I don’t know. I just know it was a direct hit on my laptop. I grabbed the cup and threw it in the garbage, turned the laptop upside down over the garbage until I could get a towel and dry it the best I could. I left it upside down on a towel overnight.

The next morning, the laptop wouldn’t boot up on its own screen but “tried” to boot on the other monitor then quit. I took it to a guy who has worked on it before. He kept it all day before telling me I’d better take it to the Apple store.

Here’s where my horror story really began. At this point I’d had a cold about 2 1/2 weeks and felt like $%^&! The closest Apple store opened at 10 on Friday. I got there at 11:15. I walked in. No one approached me, so I walked to the back counter to wait my turn. They were busy, but still no one even acknowledged me. After about 20 minutes, I stopped one of the employees and asked what he expected the wait time to be. He asked if I had an appointment. I told him I did not, so he told me to sign in.

I still couldn’t find the person with whom I needed to sign in. When I finally did he told me it would be 2 1/2 HOURS before I could be seen. I asked if I could drop it off and they could call me when they got to it and he said that wasn’t allowed, but I would sit on one of their steel backless stool and wait and maybe he could work me in earlier. I suggested I wait outside the store in more comfortable chairs and he could text me. It was obvious I was sick.

After two hours of waiting I went inside to check the status of the list and they said “Oh, we’ve been looking for you.” I told them I’d been right outside the store in the chairs where I said I’d be. “They said they didn’t see me.” I asked why they hadn’t texted me.” No answer, but they could get to me then. I went to the counter and waited 30 minutees.

To fix my MAC (which they don’t make anymore — 18″ screen) would have cost $1300. No, it would have cost that whether they fixed it or not. I said I could buy a new computer for that. He said yes, easily. But, I explained there were things on this hard drive that weren’t on my last back up I needed. He was able to somehow hook up the hard drive to another computer and let me e-mail myself through some emergency reboot or something. I sent what was essential. At this point I’d been there 5 hours.

It was obvious I’d have to buy another computer, but which one did I want? He said his first available appointment was 6:15 Sat. Hubby said that was crazy. We went about 1, he told the greeter, who was (of course) standing right at the door that we were there to buy a computer, and the greeter said it’d be about 5 minutes. WTF? We were out of the store within 30 minutes.

Since I know the hard drive is good in my old one, I want to get someone to take it out so I can use it as an external drive and access everything on it. There are some programs in partiular I want to transfer over.

I finally got my e-mail working (with all of my old folders) on the new laptops after a couple of calls to Apple care and one to Comcast doesn’t care. Next, I’ve got to get the back-ups from my Apple time capsule or time machine (runs separate network and backs up) to restore back ups. Apple store said it’d do it automatically. Not. Apple care–well, I’ve been too busy trying to find recent particular things I’ve written that after one call to them which didn’t work, I haven’t taken time to try again. So frustrating.

Oh, I got a smaller Macbook Pro which is only about 2 1/2 pounds about 1/2 the weight of my other one. It’s a little heavier than Hubby’s Mac Air, but I needed the ports and memory.

Keep your fingers crossed I can make this work. Now back to work on my manuscript of which I finally found the latest version.

Lesson to me…All beverages are in hard sided cups with tops screwed on. No more stryophome near my computer!

~ Kay


Happy Veteran’s Day

Beautiful Happy Veterans Day Flags Clip Art


We are especially proud of our family members who are currently serving active duty:

Stepson — Warrant Officer Andrew G Elam, USMC  

My cousin (mom’s side): Captain Sean Heritage, US Navy  

My cousin (dad’s side): MM1 David Goolsby, US Navy


Thanks, guys!



Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

I know that’s not exactly how Shakespeare said it, but for my purposes…

My friends who arrived at the beach after a couple of the kids had left are two sorority sisters who have been my partners in “crime” on numerous occasions. When I was single, we got together about once a quarter, alternating homes, to do a “project” of the host’s choosing. We’ve hung drapes, wallpapered, put up Christmas decorations, hosted several milestone parties, etc. We’ve also gone to spas, psychics, done lots of shopping, watched many movies both at home and in theaters, and shared secrets. We’ve been doing this for close to twenty years.

One of the two is the first person who reads my novels when I finish them. She is not a writer, but she reads all the time. I know I can depend on her complete candor. She’s gotten so good at beta reading my work she can not only tell me when she doesn’t like something she can often tell me why it doesn’t work and what to do to fix it. She knows me well enough to make “me” suggestions occasionally. For example, in one of my books one of my characters said something about the difference between a hotel and a motel. It wasn’t a big thing. When she read it, she reminded me that I (supposedly) told two of my goddaughters long ago not to stay in “motels” with numbers in the name. Now I don’t remember this. It kind of sort of might sound like me so it’s possible (I guess), but she suggested I add that. I did, and it worked well in the scene.

What, you might be wondering, does this have to do with the beach? Well…in the series I’m writing now, the protagonist (a hair stylist) develops a line of hair and skin care products which she uses throughout the book. The recipes for the products are in the back of the book. You know, like those cookie books, right? The catch here is I had to actually develop the products and make sure they worked in case someone actually tried them.

I wrote the first two books and as I saw an opportunity to use a product, I’d note it. When the books were done (more or less) and I was sure this was the direction I was going to take them, I had to start researching recipes. Since I’d pulled products like lavender honeysuckle hand cream out of thin air, I researched how to make organic hand cream (lots of choices, by the way), decided on a method I thought would be easy and developed a recipe. Repeat with each product. The first book had eleven products. I knew better than to press my luck and try to experiment with more than that at one time. My friends do have boundaries.

I sent both of my friends a new draft of the book with the product line in it. I ordered all of the ingredients and containers.

On a quiet, rainy morning (we weren’t going to do this when it was sunny–duh!), we laid everything out on the large kitchen island. We made three different facial masques. Two worked well. One did not. Add more oatmeal. We made hairspray and scratched it from the product line replacing it with perfumed body spray. We made a hand cream that we decided would be better as a foot cream and another hand cream that worked great. We all loved the spearmint lip balm. More things worked than didn’t and those things that didn’t we came up with a workaround. By this time a little wine might have been involved…I don’t remember.

All of the products are organic and edible. Several were fruit based so we were fighting over who got the papaya and pineapple masque verses the honey, yogurt and oatmeal one. When we were through our faces glistened (in a good way) and I could move forward in getting the book to my agent. Another mission accomplished.

Here are a few pictures of me with my two sorority sisters.

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~ Kay

Fun at the beach

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know I took a multi-month break this year and have played catch up on some of the significant events that happened during that time.

One of the best things we did this year was rent a “cottage” at the beach for the week starting Labor Day weekend in September. It an easy drive for Hubby’s middle son, our only one with little ones, and we knew it would be most difficult to plan around their schedule.

As it turned out, all three sons, our two daughters-in-law and our grandchildren were there through Monday when oldest son had to fly out. Middle son and family moved home on Tuesday for him to go back to work, but came back to the beach house every day. Youngest and his wife stayed until the end of the week.

It was the first time all of us had been together since our youngest grandson was born in January. We had lots of cooks so we ate all of our meals in which was lots of fun.

I’d found a stand-alone house with five bedrooms 5 1/2 baths and a private pool. We were right on the beach. Hubby and the big boys rented kayaks or something that left them all beat up. Hubby claims it was a shark attack, but I was watching from the deck and didn’t see any fins. I did, however, see him get out of the water when he ripped his leg open on the bottom of the craft creating lots of blood. We thought for a few minutes we might have to find an ER for stitches, but he cleaned it out, bandaged it and was good as new.

On Tuesday when a couple of the bedrooms had been vacated, a couple of my sorority sisters came in to spend the rest of the week. More on that in my next post.

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November — Can you believe it?

I flipped my calendar this morning (yes, I know I’m three days late) and it hit me right between the eyes. It’s November. That’s the month before December. Christmas. My goodness where did this year go?

For one thing the Killer Nashville writers’ conference that’s normally held in August was moved to this past weekend so normally when KN is over I have all of Fall to get ready for the holidays. Not this year.

The conference was great, as always. Usually, I commute, but I was participating on three panels this year and Hubby was doing a session on drugs and alcohol so I decided to bite the bullet and spring for (a very expensive) hotel room. I’m so glad we did! I caught a cold early last week so I still didn’t feel well. This gave me the opportunity to slip away and take short power naps without having to curl up in a chair out of sight somewhere.

Though my cough had died down for the most part, my voice was still touch and go. Thank goodness for microphones on panels, and I have to admit my fellow panelists carried the weight because a) I couldn’t talk, b) I felt like crap and c) I couldn’t think. At one point I really felt like I was saying “blah blah blah blah blah.” Who knows? Maybe I was.

It was a perfect time to launch the anthology where my short story (The Trolls) appears, Horrors: Real, Imagined and Deadly. I got to sell it in the Killer Nashville bookstore and even sign some copies. What fun!

Hubby and I picked up the keynote speaker, Bob Tanenbaum and his wife from the airport. He was involved in the investigation of JFK and Dr. Martin Luther King. His son and his fiancee’ also attended, but came a day early. Bob has published thirty books, and he still has plenty of stories to tell!

Just in time for Hubby’s slide show came some Halloween pictures from his middle son (the marine). Our daughter-in-law made the costumes, and of course we think our grandchildren are the cutest in Oz or anywhere else for that matter.


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Happy November!

~ Kay