Slightly Higher in the West

State pot signOne year has passed since Colorado legalized marijuana sales. After a tidal wave of celebration and protest, gloomy predictions and giddy smoke-ins, the Rocky Mountain region has not become the most progressive state in the union or morphed into the back streets  of Amsterdam. The projected $70 million in tax revenue has not yet appeared. At this moment it’s more like $53 million plus or minus. Rest assured the first $40 million will still go to school construction, but I still want to know where the balance, what ever it turns out to be, will end up. Don’t Bogart those excess taxes, Colorado lawmakers…give us new roads or at least fill the Volkswagen-sized pot holes in Northern Colorado.Pot sunglasses

For those of you who care to indulge, know the rules.

1.You must be twenty-one.

2. No pot smoking in public or in vehicles, moving or otherwise. Violation of rule number two can result in stays in our friendly local jails or prisons.

3. Sales to tourists are limited to 1/4 oz. and 1 oz. for locals.

4. You can’t buy pot in every county or city in Colorado.

5. Any attempts to transport pot over state lines by car, rail, bike, plane or levitation can result in a legal search. K9 units and their accompanying peace officers have been spotted on the CO/WYO border.

To me, the most interesting part of all of this is the huge flurry in different counties over sales, profits, and taxes. This is a tremendous untapped resource, folks, and many entrepreneurs want to get in on it. Pot is taxed at 25% or 28% depending on who you ask. Broken down that is 15% excise (sin-tax) and 10% state tax. Wow.pot and bucks To stay competitive with unlicensed sellers, some pot stores are eating the excise tax – to keep the legal businesses in business. It’s complicated. The statistics change daily so don’t hold me to these numbers.

Just for comparison these are excise taxes on other legal items in Colorado:

$2.28 per gallon of liquor or wine

84 cents per pack of cigarettes

8 cents per gallon of beer (still the best value around!)

Right or wrong, we need all the tax revenue we can get because we are experiencing a huge boom in our population.  That’s as close to a pro or con opinion as you’re likely to get from me.

I’m just shaking my head over the irony. Who would have guessed that the Marlboro clutched in my hand as I rolled down highway 34 into Boulder all those years ago would be so reviled and pot would be legal. Life continues to amaze, doesn’t it?


What cool, awful, or amazing things has your home state done lately?


Statistics and art from: Huffington Post, KUNC, CNN, and others known and unknown


Closer to the Edge

Happy first Wednesday, everyone…

After a lengthy absence, I’m back to IWSG, Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for his wonderful forum and outlet for writers from the timid to the confident. You’ve provided us a safe place to vent, to question and to celebrate. Click on the badge to the right to join us.

Be forewarned, this blog is not about a happy subject. danger

If you write mystery, romance, or adventure you may have reached the point where a specific scene is hard to write because of its unpleasant nature. As a no-gratuitous-violence writer, I avoid scenes like the one looming ahead of me but, the simple fact is, this is a pivotal scene. The POV’s feelings of guilt and self-doubt flood from this terrible mistake. Her actions at this moment change everything, providing tension and conflict. Without it she is two-dimensional. Through the novel she searches for redemption and when she finally finds it she’s faced with more questions than answers.

But, unfortunately, her creator was not brave:) Bumping up against the fictional rough stuff made me uneasy. It felt personal. As writers we sometimes set limits for ourselves, lines we hesitate to cross. Other writers are fearless and over the top, but I found myself dancing around this scene as if it was a cornered rat in my kitchen.

However, that said, I’ve had time to think about this since first draft. Now, in revision, I’ve decided to forge on ahead, fine-tuning the action and honoring its importance in the story.

Are you willing to get closer to the edge? If so, any advice for me?


Linear Plotting into Infinity

2014-08-06 17.58.08Update: I’m still here, blogging friends. Life washed me up on its shores, battered but happy and alive. One tremendous hurdle is receding in the distance; yet another one looms. But…it’s all extremely good and, since I feel like writing for the first time in weeks, I’m blogging instead of creating my revision outline:)

Linear thinking is my thing. Point A to Point Z, straight ahead, no wandering around, no getting lost. TripAdvisor, Google Earth, or a good old map are my guideposts. When I’m plotting, I draw lines. Straight lines. Rigid as it seems, I don’t vary much once I get my ideas down on paper. But, tonight, I have to admit, I’m stalling a bit. Right now, drawing seems more fun. I just may have to buy a real whiteboard!11970909911651569759jcartier_Pencil_svg_thumb

Do you create your plot in 2D or 3D? Tell me how you do it – maybe I’ll try something new.

Three Letter Word

OK. It’s official. I am in hell.

While playing with advanced find in MS Word 7 (yes, I do have better things to do but what can I say?)  I stumbled over an alarming trend in my latest chapter. The. That unassuming article – everywhere. So, of course, unable to leave well enough alone, I investigated my entire 45,078 first draft and was horrified by the vast amount of thes therein. Grand total of 2052 so far.5573590854_d7d2298ddb

I researched around and found a great resource in According to this post, the is a definite article. Like an adjective, it modifies nouns. In this case, specific or particular nouns. OK.  I checked a couple of my favorite fiction authors, calculated their use of the. They hardly use the three letter word at all.

Repeat words plague every writer, I’m sure, but this onslaught is horrible. My writing is suffering, that’s obvious. Am I trying too hard? Probably. But if I’m repeating a word why couldn’t it be a cool multi-syllable word like, say, minesweeper or necromancer? I mean, this is embarrassing.


So, what’s your repeat monster word and how do you control it?

Photo by Foter


Should a Love Scene make you cry?

Thanks to Kirsten at for demonstrating the Add Poll feature in Word Press. Check out her WP tips!Lies-and-Legends-Time-for-w

I just finished a  steamy love scene between my POV character and the completely unsuitable, dangerous man she falls for. Honestly, I almost shed a tear. Maybe all the emotion the two characters endure during their adventure finally got to me, or maybe it was  just the questionable quality of the writing:)

So, what’s your opinion on love scenes?

Wild Horses of Life

Signs-and-Wonders-gradient-I spoke too soon. The wild horses of life have thundered into my world. As Juan said in my last blog, sometimes humans have to work the cards they’re dealt.

So, I’m going to have to bow out of my A to Z Challenge posts –  Signs and Wonders, Colorado road signs as metaphors for writing. What have I learned here? Pay more attention to what’s on your plate, give yourself a break and get your work done. My creative work has to be completing my first draft. With that in mind, here’s my letter A entry, my first and last for this year’s challenge.







A – First draft is an avalanche. One moment you’re sliding down the slope of inspiration, the next moment you’re up to your neck in letters and words, phrases and ideas. The first blast of creativity is euphoric, alluring, fantastic, but the second blast is long range weaponry. Somewhere out there indecision and procrastination lurk, waiting to knock out the unprepared writer – like me. Problem? My plot is not well planned. Upside? I have fantastic characters.  So, for now, my mission is completing my first draft. In one month. OK. Maybe five weeks. But, I’ll be checking out everyone else’s A to Z, and I’ll blog short updates once a week.

What have you learned from the combination of life’s ups and downs combined with failure to plan?

Have fun with A to Z. I’m with you in spirit.



A-Z Blog Challenge Reveal

It’s almost A-Z to time again and, better late than never, I stumbled over the A-Z Challenge Reveal. Watch out, my beloved followers. Starting April first I’ll be peppering cyber-land with a blog a night. Short ones, I promise.themebadge

My theme this year is Colorado Road Signs as metaphors for the excitement and terrors of fiction writing. OMG, you say?  Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from road signs that has nothing to do with caution, law, or even addresses. And, if you don’t learn anything else, they can make you laugh!

Join us all as we thunder forward, writing two-hundred and fifty words nightly for the month of April, speeding toward our goal and breaking the literary speed limit.

tropical storm 1






Make Yourself Smile

It’s almost the first Wednesday of the month again.

Welcome to Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Check us out at

This is a safe and wonderful place to air your fears and triumphs as you write your way through life.

I’m making a real effort not to sniffle and whine about the fact that my first-draft has rolled to an abrupt halt at 30,000 words. So, with that in mind, I searched for things to make me smile.

I stumbled across on my Facebook page and it reminded me of my old cartooning days. (Long ago, in a life far, far away.) Plus, it’s a great commentary on creativity – or lack thereof.

Incidental ComicsThe artist, Grant Snider, pencils creativity in a humorous and light-hearted comic art format. His most recent is The Three Rays wherein the frustrated writer laments his lame attempts at writing, asks the muse for a ray of hope and, voila, Raymond Carver, Raymond Chandler, and Ray Bradbury appear!

Check out Grant’s take on the Muse.

 How do you get a laugh out of writing?

(Now, if I could only take my own advice!)

Howdy, Ma’am

I was listening to country music at dinner the other night, a xfinity streaming station called True Country. My husband put it on, and it sure brought back a flood of memories from my brain aquifer. Long ago in a cultural detour far away, my girlfriends and I went through what we in Colorado call a cowboy phase. howdy-3_l(It’s the hats and boots, you know.) Honestly, I knew practically nothing about country music except my Dad sang with the Sons of the Pioneers in Oklahoma. Dad also saw Bonnie and Clyde pass through his dusty hometown so you have an idea of how old the music was.

Fast forward to the late twentieth century. There was a black-hat cowboy working at our drafting company.  He busted himself (his words) rodeoing, so he was stuck in the civilian world making a living.  This mysterious man recognized my curiosity about country music. He brought in personally recorded tapes (anyone remember those?) for my listening pleasure. It was wonderful discovering such unique music. I fell in love with George Straight. OMG. For weeks I listened to new tunes, stories of romance and heartbreak, everyday life and love of USA, pickup trucks and bar room brawls. The emotional voices of country and the natural feel of the lyrics enthralled me.

My music tastes moved on through a variety of styles, finally landing on ambient space music, rowdy Latin Jazz, and a few old timers – George Thoroughgood, Bob Marley, and ZZ Top. But, the other day at work, early in the morning before the boss came in, someone tuned into a country station and I found myself instinctively two stepping across the office. Drifting up from the past, the embedded dance made me smile and my co-workers laugh. Some things you never forget, no matter how far they fly away.

What music makes you dance across the office?stars-th

Photo credit: Shine20 / / CC BY-NC-ND


Reaching the zenith of this challenge has been a great experience! Thanks to all who read my posts!

zenith-2_lI’ve learned so much about the wide, wide blog universe. It amazed me with its vast content, its unique variety, and its articulate members. It is the combined intelligence of our species, no doubt about it.

So, now what? I started this challenge wondering if I was going to continue writing. I had finished my novel, and I was sending out query letters but, during all the uproar, my faithless muse wandered away. Good news, though.  I’m still writing. And, while that bad muse of mine remains illusive, I have seen him peeking out at me during the last twenty-six posts.

Thanks for the inspiration, everyone! Will I see you next April 1st? stars-th

Photo credit: aldoaldoz / / CC BY-NC-SA

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