Sunday, September 13, 2015

My 10th Anniversary of Returning to America

It was on this date 10 years ago that Pony (then 13 months old) and I touched down on a jam-packed USAirways flight from Gatwick. Pony had a much better flight than I did -- and my seat cost a damn sight more than her place in a huge crate donated by British Airways (I kid you not. They GAVE it to us after hearing my story.) Soon after that flight, USAirways stopped allowing dogs on trans-Atlantic flights. I'm sure it was just a coincidence, but I can't help but wonder what Pony did during her time in the crate with the flight crew.

I had spent the last five years homeless in England because I'd fallen in love with what then I thought was "my soulmate" (ugh) and who turned out to be a monster. Both Pony and I got beat up by this guy. I finally left him for good on 26 December 2004 (same day as the Asian Tsunami, coincidentally) and tried to live with Pony as an illegal alien in the Bath area. I finally threw in the towel in the first week of August 2005 when my home in the woods (called a bender) was burnt down and the fire officials thought it was arson. I contacted Mom and she took me and Pony in.

So, ten years later, what have I learned?

  • I felt most at home in England when I was homeless than I do homed in the US
  • Like Barbie, I can't seem to hold down a steady job
  • Meeting Peter Gabriel never grows old
  • Writing a book is a million times easier than selling a book
  • Unless it involves money, no one really cares what you think, feel, do, or say
  • Fantasies change. Ten years ago, I used to fantasize about having a stable full of sexy guys to ride. Now I fantasize about being the last human being on earth because that's the only way I'd every get a horse.
  • Life seems empty until you have someone to take care of.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's Okay to Hate Your Job Sometimes

We've all been there -- we worked all our lives to get a particular job and after years, months or even weeks, you start to hate that long-desired-for job with every fiber of your being.

We just don't all admit that we hate our jobs and this leads to guilt which leads to more job hatred which leads to more guilt which leads to --

Well, you see where it goes.

Don't think this will ever happen to you? Think again. IT WILL. I don't care if your job is to eat too much, sleep to much and spend too much money, there will come a time when the thought of going to work will make you damn near suicidal.

And I was one of you.

I used to think that if only I could make money as a writer, I'd always love my job. And you know the old saying, if you work at what you love then it isn't work.


Work is WORK, no matter how well it's dressed or how fat it's bank account. If you HAVE to do it, you will eventually loathe it.

For example:

About ten years ago, when I was stuck working at Macy's (which eventually lead to a breakdown -- but that's another story) I read a biography of Dorothy Parker. She was one of the most original and gifted of American writers. However, her not-so-secret-secret was that she HATED writing. And I promised myself that I would NEVER hate writing in the way Dorothy Parker did.

You know what happened next.

Flash-forward ten years later and I'm staring at the ever-dwindling online content writer's market and wishing that I NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN.

For the last few months, I've had to stop writing for money due to my Mom's deteriorating health. Caring for her (and the dogs, and the fish and the laundry and etc.) left me feeling absolutely exhausted. Who can string a sentence together when you can barely keep conscious (unless you're Charles Bukowski, but only HE could pull that off.)

I felt damn near suicidal for hating my  job (well, my PAID job. My MAIN job is taking care of my Mom and the pets.) Hating my job felt sacrilegious somehow. I mean, I longed to be a writer all my life and now I managed it and now I hated what I'd pinned my hopes on for 45 years.

But now I've gotten over it and managed in the last week to find a few paid online writing gigs. And life goes on. Remember that hate is the other side of the coin of love.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pony's 11th Birthday!

Today is Pony's 11 birthday. We spent a long day doing puppy things. I had hoped to post a recent photo of Pony but I still cannot get the digital camera to work ( I bought it at Christmas.) Oh, well. This photo was taken in late 2005.

Pony's eyebrows are now pure white.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

I Can't Figure Out How to Promote Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Hi, there, Readers. I apologize once again for not having blogged in ages, but things have been going rapidly downhill here at the Sherwood household. Despite my rather boastful last post, I have not been able to find any new writing work in over a month. My Mom has gotten still worse and needs constant care (bathing, nail clipping, dressing, feeding, laundry, listening to her kvetch, making sure she doesn't fall and fracture more bones -- all that sort of good stuff.)

I did try to get into the state program for giving funds to unpaid caretakers, but the state dropped the program on January 1, 2015. They kindly did not let let me know until April 16, 2015 (after going through several interviews with no less than three state employees.) So, I'm like a kid again in that my Mom is paying all my expenses (which I am very embarrassed about but cannot seem to change.)

Which brings us to the reason why this post has the title it does -- I have not been able to afford any promotional services for my lonely little eBook Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  Sadly, it does  not matter how well-written or entertaining a book happens to be in order to make money. It has to be promoted to death in order to make any money.

In between sessions taking care of Mom and the pets, I have been trying to learn how to promote my eBook myself. It's like trying to learn Klingon. I just figure this stuff out.  So I give up. (For now.) I was hoping I could write a sequel but so far that doesn't seem like a realistic option.

Two good things happened to the eBook since I last posted:

  1. It got a 4-star review (out of five stars)!
  2. It was accepted into the Library Journal's SELF-e program. No, I'm not entirely sure what that means, either. But the word ACCEPTED sounds good, doesn't it? I thought so. And you get to download a nifty logo, too (see illustration, above left.)
Back to banging my head against a wall.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

My Blog Post Up on Florida Beach Rehab

Believe it or not, I'm still a freelance writer. No matter how little money I make, I somehow still find myself in front of the keyboard (or even--GASP!--pen and paper) and words somehow keep coming out. I'm proud to announce that not just one but TWO blogs have picked up some of my work. The first is a dog blog which has not gone online yet.

The second is 7 Ways to Relax Without Chemicals which is about

(wait for it)

7 Ways to Relax Without Chemicals.

Anyway, it's up at the blog of the fine folks from Florida Beach Rehab. Their blog has articles for everyone, really, although it is aimed at folks in recovery and folks struggling with addictions. Some interesting blog posts (not written by me, but still good reads, include Adam Barny's 10 Non-Alcoholic Dinner Party Tips (which I wish I'd read years ago) and Amy Parish's Blogging Helped Me to Stay Sober. Here's How. 

For those of you who are new to this blog (hi, there!) I have another blog called ReasonsNotToCommitSuicide. I don't make any money with THAT blog, either. Anyway, one of the reasons I write is because I have endogenous recurring depression. Blogging helps Amy Parish stay sober and blogging helps me not to try and off myself.

I also received some good news about my eBook Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes but I'll save that for another post. (See that? Cliffhanger. We professional writers use those techniques.)

I've been overusing the Peter Gabriel and Jeremy Brett photos in recent months, so I hope you enjoy this one of Mads Mikkelsen goofing around on the set of Hannibal.

Friday, March 20, 2015

For Pete's Sake -- Someone Buy My EBook, Please!

Yes, the misadventures and epic fails keep on happening over here in Rena Sherwood-land. A couple of years ago, I had this wacky idea that I'd self-publish my own book Not the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on Amazon Kindle and it would give me fame and fortune (I'd settle for fortune, anyway.)

Didn't happen.

In fact, did just the opposite.

I've lost lots and lots of money on this eBook (through dropping work from clients in order to write this damn thing) through purchasing an ISBN ($125 shot to hell) and who knows how much money in Sherlock Holmes and Jeremy Brett reference books.

That left absolutely zero money for publicity. Big mistake.

I've also lost my Muse's voice for who knows how many months. That left a honkin' huge writer's block. Mom's illnesses have worsened, so I've lost time looking for work or even trying to find a damn when I do find it. If it wasn't for Mom, I'd be back out on the streets.

Now that March is here, I'm starting to hear the Muse's voice again. Goddammit, I can't afford this!

This is all the publicity I can afford -- somebody please buy my eBook!

Friday, February 13, 2015

When is Peter Gabriel's Birthday?

(Note: I wrote this originally for Suite 101, got a fat payment and then Suite 101 went out of business, so I moved it to Yahoo Voices, got a thin payment and then Yahoo Voices out of business. Now I'm going to stick it here on PG's birthday for no money and hope against hope that Blogger won't go out of business.)

British singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel was born at 4:30 PM GMT on February 13, 1950.  This makes him an Aquarius, although his moon was in Sagittarius.  (Insert tasteless joke here.)  He was born in the little-known English town called Cobham, located in the county of Surrey.  In an interesting coincidence, Peter was born exactly day after guitarist Steve Hackett, his band mate in Genesis.

Doesn’t seem too hard to get wrong, does it?  And yet somehow in the 1980s, many books and magazines were erroneously reporting that Peter’s birthday was May 13 and not February 13.  There have been some rumors that the source of this misinformation was Peter himself (purposely telling people the wrong date as a joke), but those rumors have never been substantiated.

Publications Listing Wrong Birth Date

I’ve been a fan of Peter’s since 1986, long before the Internet (or my ability to get a driver’s license, come to think of it.)  I was one of those folks who thought that Peter’s birthday was in May.  Why?  Because that’s what it said in a comic strip illustrating the lives of pop stars that appeared only on Sundays in the late 1980s.   Sadly, my copy of the strip has not survived and I cannot remember the name of the short-lived strip. If you know, please add it to the comments section below.  Thanks in advance.

Anyway, here is a partial list of publications that printed Peter’s birthdate as May 13 (or 13 May, if you prefer):
  • ·         USAToday (Really – is anybody surprised that they got it wrong?)
  • ·         Chase’s 1997 Calendar of Events, 40th Anniversary Edition.  McGraw-Hill; 1997.  (They also got it wrong all throughout the 1990s.)
  • ·         The Great Rock Discography.  Martin Charles Strong.  Cannongate; 2004.
  • ·         The Essential Rock Discography.  Martin Charles Strong.  Cannongate; 2006.  (Yes, those two books are basically the same.)
  • ·         The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll.  Mark Clifford.  Harmony Books; 1986.
  • ·         The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll.  Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books; 1983.  (This is my guess as to how the wrong birthdate spread.  Anything with Rolling Stone’s name on it sold well to many a reference library.)


For about nine years, Peter’s birthdate was put up on his official website ( but since the site’s redesign in 2012, his birthdate and extensive biography have somehow disappeared.  Before the redesign, the website featured a Peter Gabriel FAQ page for fans, compiled by the one-time head of Peter’s fan club (who has since retired -- Come to think of it, the fan club seems to have retired, too).  The FAQ page included his correct birthday and that “somewhere down the line” the wrong birthday was reported.