Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gatlinburg, TN

First: This is the last week to enter the SFRStation April contest! Details at the bottom.

Time for the first big vacation of the year! I wanted to check in to see how my mom is doing in the nursing home, and as long as I was there on the western side of Tennessee, visit with my sister and her family.

Mom, awake.

She's lost weight. She's chipper when she's awake, easy to chat with and still joking. But she sleeps almost all the time and it's difficult for her to get warm. The first day, we visited her and she said hello but wanted to sleep. We came back that afternoon, but she was REALLY asleep and we didn't want to wake her.

As it happened, there was a talk with the staff scheduled, and I attended. (Sometimes I get in on these via conference call; sometimes I miss them.) Mom's doc doesn't like to over-medicate; he doesn't want his patients in a daze, but we asked if the staff could convince him to up Mom's meds a tad more because she often reports pain.

I went in the next day and talked for an hour with Mom. My sister was shocked that we had that lengthy a conversation.

Before I left, Mom had me hold hands with her. We NEVER hold hands. Never. I got the impression that she thought this was the last time she'd see me. I sort of had the same impression. But being someone who believes in the data we have about consciousness surviving death quite nicely, I'm not worried about her, per se. I just don't want her in pain in the time she has left. Glad she has such a great staff looking over her, and glad that my sister et al visit her so often.

Brighter things: I visited with my sister and her family. Met the New Dog, Oscar. Discussed the problems they're having selling their house. It's not a great-looking house (it's definitely a fixer-upper and reminds me of their very first rental house back in Fayette-Nam), and apparently it's in a lousy neighborhood on the wrong side of town. Sis said that ten years ago they could have sold it for $95K. Then the Arsenal closed, everyone in town either moved away or are now out of work, and they have lowered the asking price to  $68K. A couple came by with their mother, and Mother disapproved of both the pool and the neighborhood, so no deal. bil says that they'll try once more to sell by themselves, and if that falls through he's going to put an addition on, fancy new fencing, etc, etc.

The entire time, my sister's cell kept ringing. Apparently the entire town knew that she had a carload of black market aluminum foil, and were looking to buy some. After making sure I wasn't taking the plane back, Sis gave me a roll. It weighs in at just a hair under 5 lbs. Whoa!

Allie's waiting for someone to throw to home.
Watched my middle grand-niece play a softball game. She's about 8. Everyone in town has those newfangled lawn chairs that roll into tubes, and they all brought them. Allie was catcher that night, and had twenty "coaches" in the stands shouting at her to move up closer, cover home plate, don't hit the batter with the ball, etc. She survived the experience and even triumphed; her team won!

There was one TINY girl on the team, looked to be about 30 pounds and could very well have been an elvish changeling, as her legs and arms were the size of thick toothpicks. Every time she got to bat, she'd take a powerful stance, feet apart, knees bent, leaning into the pitch, bat high in the air. She'd snarl and growl at the pitcher. Then WHAMMO! she hit the ball with good force. I want a piece of the action on the pro career of that kid!

Maddeningly, my camera decided it didn't want to focus about halfway through, so all these great action shots turned into blurs. I tried everything I could think of to get the focus to work (including turning the camera off and on, hitting "reset," etc.), but nothing. Luckily, the next time I used it it was functioning normally.

Sis and bil were supposed to come with me to visit Gatlinburg, so I took the final afternoon and stayed in my hotel room to get some things done, take a nap, etc. I figured we had another 2-3 days of gabbing to do. Then late in the day my sister told me that she'd decided they weren't going. She'd rather take the grandkids, whom she only sees once or twice every day, to a fun museum about an hour away.

Oh well.

So I took off to Gatlinburg and thank goodness had packed some Pepto. Thought I'd never get out of that one rest stop that thankfully (!!!!) appeared out of nowhere. It had a plaque that said that Al Gore, SENIOR was responsible for the US highway system, not Eisenhower. Gore was the senator who introduced the bill; Eisenhower signed it into law. Oh, the things one learns!

Tennessee is COVERED with churches. I think NC is pretty bad, but TN has it licked. In my sister's town, there were three churches to a block. Out in the country someone will have a huge cross (or three) standing every here and there. Many rest stops had religious literature next to the tourist flyers. When I got to Gatlinburg I discovered there was even an all-church network on the cable system.

My g-nieces had been singing a song (on their way home from a church dinner for kiddies) about the Ten Commandments. They got to "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife," and I commented, "or husband," and the older niece (11) said, "Yeah, I thought about that, too." Hooray! But otherwise I kept my mouth shut about women being property and other Biblical stuff around them. At one point, no kids in the car, I happened to mention the fascinating book on Jesus I was reading. I mean, I had just started to mention it, halfway through the first sentence. Then bil raises his fist in the air (he's driving) and begins to shout about how the Bible is all there is and he's tired of people who question a word of it and etc. Yeek! I thought he was smarter than that. Guess his Bible is too weak to stand up to anyone actually sitting down to think about what it says.


So I turned right at exit 407 and drove through Dolly Parton country: Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and then Gatlinburg. It was a Saturday evening (darn Mapquest, that said that the 10-hour trip was only 6 hours!) and traffic was bumper-to-bumper.


Picture Orlando/Kissimmee and Times Square rolled into one flashing neon tourist trap. Then add a mountain of country cheesiness on top. That's this area. I passed a Mt. Rushmore that was composed of Elvis, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, and Charlie Chaplin. I passed the Titanic. I passed the Hatfield & McCoys dinner show.

Finally got to Gatlinburg, still bumper to bumper. The street lights all had big numbers next to them instead of street names. Huh? Turned out that tourist maps use the numbers as reference. "Go to light 1 and turn left, then right at light 2A."

I had a letter about where to report. FINALLY (thanks, cute Hilton guy) found the right address. THEN I had to search to find the lobby (a block away from the "lobby" sign) and I reported in. The hotel was right downtown and didn't look like a resort to me, but it was next to a picturesque stream. The lady at the desk couldn't find my name in the system. I showed her the letter.

"I don't know why they always send these people here," she complained, and then told me the right place was the other side of town. These guys were a "sister resort" to the one I was scheduled for. After two more stops asking for directions, I finally found the correct road. There was a gaudy water park to my right, and the road continued to my left, so I took the left. And went up, up, up the mountain. My rental car almost conked out. It certainly gave three large hiccups. It was all regular housing as far as I could see, so I turned around, trying not to fall off the side of the mountain to do so, and went back down.

This time I turned toward the waterpark. There was a large building next to it, so I pulled into it and parked. Ah ha! The resort. A "Welcome Center."

No one there.

Oh, there were a few lights and I could hear people stomping about upstairs. I called the number on my letter and was assured that I was at the right place, and people were waiting at the desk for me. Finally we figured out that the Welcome Center was not the lobby. It was a block over.

Whew. Checked in.
This is the welcome/we will have your souls and your wallet center. The entire place is pretty much unlit at night. The actual lobby is behind and up the hill from here, invisible from this angle. There is no signage, other than the resort sign that sits there in the lower center of this picture (unlit at night). The waterpark is to the right, and the street leading up to it is done in Christmas-style (with animals) light arches, which drown out any other lights in the neighborhood. High on the top of the hill there are the "penthouses," 5-story building$$$. There'll be an infinity pool up there soon. Shuttles run through the resort, but not past the cabin I was in, which was high up on the right, because the resort didn't want the shuttle to have to back up, and the road was very narrow up there. (Non-existent by the time it got to about six cabins down from me. Still, two nice drivers took me to the end of the road at times when they didn't have any other riders.)

This was one of those time-share deals where you get a fabulous price for three days somewhere nice, but have to sit through a long "buy from us" spiel. My spiel wasn't until Monday, so I explored Gatlinburg.

They have a trolley system. (Slickest seats in the US! Every time we hit a bump or turned a corner, people sliiiiid across their seats.) Luckily, the resort was on their route, as the Gat. Welcome Center was just across the highway for them to stop at as well. All trolleys end at the Ripley's Aquarium, which is a very nice one, and has one of those tunnels you go through so you can look up and see shark bellies above as they swim past.

I wish aquariums didn't cram so very many fish into such tiny tanks. I always feel sorry for them.

Outside, the Pigeon Forge river, or maybe it was just a large creek leading into the river (which goes into the French Broad, btw) rushes through town, sparkling as it hits rocks in the stream bed. Very picturesque. You can take a ski lift up the mountain or do as I did and use the aerial tram. I figured (judging from tourist brochures) that Ober Gatlinburg, the big tourist place up the mountain, had a nice restaurant to have lunch at.

Wrong. Nice service, nice tea, crappy food. And it began to sprinkle so that was my excuse for not going on the "choose your own speed" faux-bobsled ride they had up there. I got some nice pics of the valley where you could see bands of sunlight and of rain. Then I went back down the mountain, bought some nice rocks to add to my crystal cabinet, got some free buns from Texas Roadhouse (I'll have to eat there when/if I return to thank them) because Gatlinburg doesn't seem to have any bakeries and the grocery stores all seem to be far away from downtown. I had leftover salad waiting at my room, and I just wanted some buns to go with it.



The next day was Monday, so I went to the sales pitch. Really, they have a nice resort and it's going to grow about 4x as large, with lots of pools and such. The waterpark is free to owners, and though it isn't gigantic, it does have enough size to amuse one for a day or so, plus it had morning aqua-robics. There was a nice fitness center (empty), a spa that even I kind of drooled over, and the model rooms were gorgeous, unlike the rather run-down studio I'd been put in.

Like most of these things, they had a network of resorts you could trade off with, but unlike the plan I'm currently on, these guys not only seemed to know what they were doing, but they would furnish you with complete how-to explanations once you bought in.

The Honduran saleswoman utilized the entire gamut of hard-sales that I've come to know so well. The first price she gave me was $58K, for a 3-bedroom plan available, I think, twice a year? Maybe once, but you could split the bedrooms up to use as many as you needed, so that could be 1 bedroom six times a year. She brought in her supervisor, who showed me more modest plans. Finally she came down to $8K for a studio (meh) and a very interesting share program.

Like I said, it sounded better than the plan I'm on now. People sell their plans all the time, right? I could sell mine. I told them that in two years, after I get all the work done on my house, I'd be interested in buying in. Otherwise: no. Sorry. The supervisor took off for some reason, and I was left with the original saleswoman.

She leaned closer to me and accused me of lying to her. What? Again, she said I'd lied. Then I laid into her, told her in no vague terms what I thought of her tactics and her accusations. She was SHOCKED at my response, though I don't know why. She left to find someone to check me out of the sales pitch (so I'd receive credit for my stay; otherwise I'd have to pay full price for the weekend), and a guy came by.

I told him about the accusations. He left for a moment, came back, and gave me a packet of some perk to make up for it. I haven't looked at it yet, but it's a good perk. Then he offered me a 2-year freeze on the final price I'd been given. To go with the deposit for that, he offered me a perk package to use in the meantime.

It was a REALLY good perk package.

"Sold," I said, and I have a 2-year freeze on the price I was offered, with vacations to be used in the meantime. There's a cruise offer in there that I'll go to Alaska with. I can sell my Festiva membership in that time. Idiot Festiva people. These Westgate people are MUCH bigger than Festiva, AND they seem to be on the ball.

So I hope to be taking great vacations in the coming years!

I had enough time left in the day to get a late lunch and do a picturesque drive just outside of town. Luckily, I confirmed the directions to the road at the tourist info desk in town, and the lady told me it was closed until the next week.

The next day I asked at the resort info desk about this "backdoor" route to Asheville I'd heard about. They confirmed what Mapquest had said, and we traced the route on the cute little cartoon tourist map that all tourist towns seem to have these days. These maps are ridiculously out of scale, so the tiny little bump of a connector road from one point to I-40, was actually 20 miles. (Thanks, Subway person out in the middle of nowhere, who assured me that I was on the correct road!) But still I think I saved a few miles.

In all, Gatlinburg is about 6 hours from my house. I will likely visit again… not to see the touristy stuff, but to take my plein air kit and do some drawing of the bouncy mountain streams, fabulous forests, and magnificent mountains of the area.
----



Friday's the last day for the big contest! SFR Station is offering three prizes: Grand Prize: $75 gift card (your choice of iBooks, Nook, Kindle, or All Romance) PLUS 16 ebooks. 2nd prize: $25 gift card and 12 ebooks! 3rd prize: $25 and 8 ebooks! Let's see… Oh, the Internet and all the codes… Here's where you enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway They say you only have to enter on one blog to be entered in the big contest.

Did I say "all"? Lots of people are giving little April Fools excerpts. You can sample from a wide variety, and I think this will give you a listing of links for everyone: 

If that didn't work, try going here instead, a simple little link. THE CONTEST RUNS ALL MONTH, so there's plenty of time to try out everyone's sites.

AND WHAT THE HECK…
I'll give away a free ebook of your choice of my titles to TWO lucky people! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog. If nothing else, tell me how many times I used the word "nice."

--Carol Strick

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Time to get focused!


It's spring! I haven't finished my major yard projects that were supposed to have been done by January 1st! The house is a wreck! ARRRGGGGHHHHHHH! I'm working as hard as I can to fix it all.

Then I woke up this morning and my first thought was: Am I doing what I'm supposed to?

Answer: No.

What I should be doing:

Writing. Painting.

My latest book should be at the editor right now. Instead, it'll be another month before it's ready.

I'd told myself I'd enter some art contests this year, which means coming up with new work. I'd told myself I was going to start plein air painting again. I told myself I'd be doing a lot of one-hour paintings.

Nope. Hasn't happened.

And like I said, the house is a wreck. I can't find anything. I don't have room to move. I have CHAOS: "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome."

So.

It's time to dip into savings. (ARRRGGGHHH) Time to hire some people to help out in the yard. Time to finally get those home improvements that I've been putting off DONE. I'll take the next 2 years to do that.

And all along, I have GOT to pay off those credit cards!

(After all, everyone says the economy is going to crash at the end of next year. It'd be nice to be on solid financial feet if that happens.)

If I close my eyes, perhaps I won't notice my safety savings net decreasing all that much, right? Perhaps the universe will reward me when I begin painting/writing in earnest again.

After all, we have to do what's important and let the rest get done as it can.

Are YOU attending to the important aspects of your own life?

----



Just one week left in the big contest! SFR Station is offering three prizes: Grand Prize: $75 gift card (your choice of iBooks, Nook, Kindle, or All Romance) PLUS 16 ebooks. 2nd prize: $25 gift card and 12 ebooks! 3rd prize: $25 and 8 ebooks! Let's see… Oh, the Internet and all the codes… Here's where you enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway They say you only have to enter on one blog to be entered in the big contest.

Did I say "all"? Lots of people are giving little April Fools excerpts. You can sample from a wide variety, and I think this will give you a listing of links for everyone: 

If that didn't work, try going here instead, a simple little link. THE CONTEST RUNS ALL MONTH, so there's plenty of time to try out everyone's sites.

AND WHAT THE HECK…
I'll give away a free ebook of your choice of my titles to TWO lucky people! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog. Give me veggie suggestions!

--Carol Strick

Monday, April 13, 2015

I need your suggestions!

That's right, I'm behind in my gardening. I'm behind in pretty much everything, but have allowed myself to angst over this for only the next 6 weeks, and then I'll throw up my hands.

But at least I've gotten to this stage on putting in the new square-foot garden:
Actually, it's a little better than that, as I have the landscape fabric down now and will be bringing in some brown rubber mulch between the (evenly-spaced) beds. Hope to have the dirt mix in by next Monday.

My question to you is:

What should I plant?

What are your favorite veggies to grow, and why? Do you have one favorite recipe for which you might grow an entire bed of one thing? Do you have a favorite veggie you could eat every day?

What veggies should I AVOID?

I await your suggestions. And they'll count on the contest. Hey, did someone say "contest"?



Here's the info! SFR Station is offering three prizes: Grand Prize: $75 gift card (your choice of iBooks, Nook, Kindle, or All Romance) PLUS 16 ebooks. 2nd prize: $25 gift card and 12 ebooks! 3rd prize: $25 and 8 ebooks! Let's see… Oh, the Internet and all the codes… Here's where you enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway They say you only have to enter on one blog to be entered in the big contest.

Did I say "all"? Lots of people are giving little April Fools excerpts. You can sample from a wide variety, and I think this will give you a listing of links for everyone: 

If that didn't work, try going here instead, a simple little link. THE CONTEST RUNS ALL MONTH, so there's plenty of time to try out everyone's sites.

AND WHAT THE HECK…
I'll give away a free ebook of your choice of my titles to TWO lucky people! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog. Give me veggie suggestions!

--Carol Strick

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why do fools...


It's no April Fool! Science Fiction Romance Station is having a blog hop starting today and lasting all month, to highlight our authors' characters'  goofiest moments when it comes to love. And you know what?

We're giving out prizes! Good ones!

But I'm not telling you about them until the end.

I fretted over which scene to use for this installment, and decided on one from Applesauce and Moonbeams, because it was the only one I could think of that didn't contain many spoilers. What you need to know before reading this: Our hero, David, is a telepathic psychiatrist from Las Vegas who specializes in teaching people to fit into the uncomfortable niches their futuristic society requires of them. Now his mind has been blasted into the head of one very pampered kitty cat, Jonathan, who lives on the moon. So David is now a moon cat. His owner's niece, Pippin, is an avant-garde artist who has been celibate for far longer than she has wanted. No, there's no bestiality. Sheesh! Pip invites a fellow artist, Sevan, to her studio one day. David's been subconsciously trying to communicate his situation to Pippin, enough so the name "David" comes to her mind. Oh, and the "snake bites" are decorative cosmetic patches that prevent skin wrinkles. The Nineties, Teens, etc. numbers indicate different body types. Let's join the action:

It was all too chummy for David. He’d trotted in after them, weaving his way between Sevan’s feet until the man had to stop to let Jonathan lead the way. Instead, David stopped as well, even sat to lick his shoulder, until Sevan forged ahead. Then it was back to the weaving.

“Davi— I mean, Jonathan, stop that.”

“Nice cat. And this is a great space,” Sevan said after an awkward pause. “Do you mind—?” He gestured at a table next to the modeling stage and she began to clear her equipment off it.

“Part of it was a farewell gift from the folks on Earth,” she told him.

That got them talking about their families back home. Sevan pulled materials out of his bag: a lazy susan with two blocks of gray Insta-Klay, a pack of armature wire, and sculpture tools whose edges looked part kindergarten and part lethal.

David didn’t like this guy. He didn’t like the way he moved: like a clumsy, well, human. And he smelled funny. David half-listened to Pip’s story, though it should have fascinated him through enlightenment gained. Why, when Pip’s family had insisted she study marketing at university, she had maneuvered them into a deal guaranteeing her a double major that included fine art. If that didn’t reveal the soul of a true businesswoman, what did?

But Sevan didn’t understand. He was interested in other things besides saving Pip’s soul and forming her into a useful and content member of society. At the least he should reiterate what she said and restate it so that she knew he was hearing what she had to say. He needed to establish emotional feedback if he was here for what David thought he was here for.

And yet Pip seemed like she was responding to him. Worse, she smelled like a huntress.

David hated Sevan’s holographic snake bites. They were too flashy and bespoke a huge ego. Well, Nineties as a rule had ego problems, didn’t they? The opposite of Teens, Nineties were completely sure of themselves because of their dominating size and often adopted flashy accouterments to finalize the business of attracting mates.

Snake bites should be muted so you could focus on someone’s features. Pip, of course, went all the way with hers. They were skin-colored. When she smiled, you saw the smile and not the flash of silver or magenta attached to the flesh.

David blinked at her. On her it worked. Rather endearing, actually. The snakebites on that low-make face were a way of telling the world that she was not a woman to fake her way through life.

The two humans wrestled a tapestried chaise from one of the front rooms up onto the low stage. It was purple with bright daisies woven into the fabric. As Sevan rotated the stage, Pip took a seat. David jumped up onto Pip’s lap and nudged her so she’d scratch his chin. He leaned into the caress. Sevan set up lights whose brightness Pip directed by vocal control.

“Good enough,” they decided together. Sevan took a position by his Klay.

Pip set David down on the main floor and stood up. Then she slowly dropped her robe. Underneath it she was naked.

“How do you want me?” she asked.

“No, no, no!” David yowled.

Sevan took a step back from David. “Does he bite?”

Pippin frowned at David and then turned a warm smile to Sevan. “He’s just angry because I stopped petting him.”

David stormed to himself as he paced back and forth. This was not going right!

Pip settled upon the chaise like the Queen of Sheba, all temptation and womanliness and control.
Sevan made some suggestions as to pose and gesture and Pip complied, snuggling back into the cushions to get comfortable. Sevan moved his primary light and stepped back, then—

Don’t TOUCH her! David wanted to scream. He trembled where he stood as Sevan arranged Pip’s arm so it haloed her head, thrown back against the line of the couch.

No! Pip was David’s to use. She was going to learn from him when he got his body back.

He was going to shape her, not this man.

She shifted slightly and Sevan said, “That’s great. Right there.” He walked around her, shooting photos from different angles. Sevan returned to his worktable and quickly began to construct an armature from his wire. When he applied bits of clay to it and the form grew to that of a human woman, David seethed.

Through the blackness of his rage he wondered if he could force Sevan out of his body and jump into it himself.

“Shall I talk to myself to keep awake, then?” Pip asked.

“Sorry.”

David didn’t like the play in her voice. She was a lonely woman. A woman who should be well-kept. This man was not a good match for her; anyone could see that.

David growled low.

After a long while of fiddling with the clay, Sevan announced, “Break.”

“Thank God.” Pippin reached for her robe and wrapped it around herself to check the work in progress. Sevan stood back from it, scowling at the figure.

“Ah, so sculptors feel it too,” she murmured to him with a sly smile. She moved near him and stroked his arm. When she spoke, her breath must tickle his ear. “It’s a very strong start. You have real talent. Can I get you a drink? Or would you like a... longer break?”

At that he turned to her. His head cocked slightly to the left as he regarded her now robed, as if he hadn’t been studying every inch of her naked. His gaze darkened from angst to arousal.

“I wouldn’t mind a chance to stretch,” he said.

Pip wrapped her arms around his so-talented Seventy arm. “I know a great place to do that,” she whispered in his ear.

David sank his claws right into Sevan’s Seventies calf.

Sevan let out a very feminine shriek. Pippin jumped back until she saw what had happened.
“Da— Jonathan! Sevan, are you hurt? Jonathan—bad cat! No! Bad cat!”

David stood up on his hind feet and used Sevan’s leg as a scratching post.

“Get it off me! OFF ME!!”

“Jonathan! No! No, get down! Sevan, he’s not doing it in spite. It’s just a cat thing. He thinks you’re a tree or something. Jonathan!”

David easily avoided Pippin’s swipes as she simultaneously attempted to soothe her would-be lover and capture David. He had to release, but he circled around, looking for another opening.

Sevan sank to the chaise and held his lower leg, howling at the ceiling.

Pip swung David up to her chest. She reached for Sevan’s shoulder as he bent to cup his wound. Blood dripped from several deep scratches.

“Is it bad?” Pippin asked. “He’s never done anything like this before. Nothing at all.” She hovered over him. “Should I call 911? Can I get you a pain patch? Bad cat!”

Sevan glared at David. “That cat is insane!”

David hissed at him, making sure his spittle found Sevan’s eyes.

Pip fought the growling, spitting animal in her arms. “Bad Jonathan!” She ran to the french doors and tossed the cat through them, snapping them shut before he could get back inside. David threw himself against the doors, hard enough so they rattled.
----

Oh dear, David was a baaad cat. If you like that, you can click on the book cover at the upper right to find a page that gives more info and places/formats you can buy it.

And right above that is a place to sign up for my very infrequent newsletter. If you do, you'll get a confirmation letter that has a secret code for you to get a FREE e-version of Touch of Danger, vol. 1 of the superhero romance series "Three Worlds."




Did someone say "Contest"? Okay, here's the info! SFR Station is offering three prizes: Grand Prize: $75 gift card (your choice of iBooks, Nook, Kindle, or All Romance) PLUS 16 ebooks. 2nd prize: $25 gift card and 12 ebooks! 3rd prize: $25 and 8 ebooks! Let's see… Oh, the Internet and all the codes… Here's where you enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway They say you only have to enter on one blog to be entered in the big contest.

Did I say "all"? Lots of people are giving little April Fools excerpts. You can sample from a wide variety, and I think this will give you a listing of links for everyone: 

If that didn't work, try going here instead, a simple little link. THE CONTEST RUNS ALL MONTH, so there's plenty of time to try out everyone's sites.

I think clicking on the button and picture at the top of this blog will also send you in the right direction, at least if I'm reading the HTML correctly.

AND WHAT THE HECK…
I'll give away a free ebook of your choice of my titles to TWO lucky people! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog.

Hope you have a very funny and entertaining April Fool's Day! Me, I'll go back to my rocking chair and think lovely luddite thoughts.

--Carol Strick

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's a Mod, Mod, Mod Wondie!

In the past two months I’ve seen numerous articles (even a film!) about Wonder Woman that disparaged her Mod Era either in passing or at length.

Obviously, the authors didn’t know what they were talking about.

Wonder Woman’s “Mod Era” in which she gave up her powers and functioned as an extremely skilled and human being, began in issue #178 (first volume), Sept-Oct. 1968, and ended in issue #204, Jan-Feb. 1973. According to primary editor/writer/artist Mike Sekowsky, "We are not kicking a winner... -- the Old Wonder Woman was a loser -- she was a loser for so long the book was going to be dropped as a matter of fact. The sales figures on the new Wonder Woman now make her a winner…."

Wondie had been hit hard not only by the death in 1947 of her creator, William Moulton Marston, but by Frederick Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, in which Wondie was accused not only of being a lesbian but being into BDSM—and attempting to preach those ideas to the kids who read her books.

Well, yeah, but she also had a boyfriend who was often by her side in her adventures and a significant proportion of that bondage was there so she could break free of it not only physically but metaphorically. Still, National Periodical Pubs./DC Comics had to make some tweaks on the Wonder mythos so that parents could be assured their children could read the books without “harm.” (Cue the “Spartacus” auditorium scene of In and Out.)

So Wondie became kind of obsessed with Steve, who in turn became rather controlling and scary. Wondie couldn’t go after villains directly anymore—that would be unfeminine—so she dared them that she couldn’t accomplish incredible feats. Invariably she did, so the villains then dutifully trotted off to jail to fulfill their half of the bargain.

To fill out the books, then-writer Robert Kanigher concocted the “Impossible Tales,” stories in which different-aged versions of Wondie teamed up for “family” adventures. As that series went on, the “Impossible Tales” label was often left off introductions, or the introductions made no sense at all, so that the Wonder Family: Wonder Woman, her mother (“Wonder Queen;” how regal she was!), her sister Wonder Girl (I adored her!), and toddler little sister Wonder Tot (squee!), were all a real family. (Some of us readers came from dysfunctional families and loved when we were exposed to stories of families that actually loved each other.) When DC decided to cash in on the teenaged craze, Wonder Girl signed up for the very first adventure of  the Teen Titans.

But even if WG’s popularity was such that she took over the cover for two issues (with her logo being the prominent one), that era too ran out of steam, and Kanigher introduced the “Return to the Golden Age.” He subsequently APOLOGIZED (!!!) in a lettercol for subjecting his readers to this ghastly era.




After that DC suddenly realized that Wonder Woman was an actual superhero, and gave her superhero-type stories of a Silver Age kind of feel. She teamed up with Supergirl twice and both times had to suffer through a romance-driven plot because you know: they’re chicks. Chicks are only good for romance stories. (How I wish the Supergirl writers could have read a few issues of the new Ms. Marvel to see just what a female teen superhero can do! Let’s throw in PAD’s run of Supergirl as well.)

So this is where we were when sales bottomed out on the book.

And this is what Mike Sekowsky (and some others) gave us:









After the Mod Era, we got a handful of issues with the intriguing Nubia (who was never seen again [save one issue of Super Friends] for decades), and then Kanigher once more gave us a kinda-sorta Return to the Golden Age, this time with incredibly sloppy art featuring lots of buxom women and stories teaching kids that men were evil, while women (especially women who didn't admit men to their ranks) were good. The stories may have had slightly modern settings, but they were the same old dreck he’d shoveled at us before.


Then by some miracle (Kanigher was gone!), Wondie rejoined the Bronze Age with the Twelve Labors storyline, a semi-solid set of superheroic tales. After that, it was all standard super-stuff for her. But if it hadn’t been for the Mod Era, she wouldn’t have been still a DC character. Her series would have been cancelled, and rights would have reverted to the Marston family.

And I would never have fallen in love with the concept of Wonder Woman. It was this panel that cemented it all for me:

Not just one character, but WOMEN, plural, women with few if any powers, standing up to Ares and his army! They were all strong-willed; they were all beyond competent. They trusted and followed Diana. I’d never seen ANYTHING like this in my life!

So tell me again how the Mod Era sucked. Let’s step outside, shall we?

Want to know more about the Mod Era? Of course I have an index! It’s here. You can waste a lot of time reading it.


CONTEST!!! Yay, it’s another contest, with $200 gift cards available to be won. Go here to enter. The contest runs until April 5th. Good luck!