Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sit or Squat

For some time I've been tempted to blog about public restrooms. Is there an app for that? Actually there is. It's called Sit or Squat, and it's put out by Charmin. Kinda appropriate wouldn't you say?

You just never know about public restrooms. You can't judge them by the outside. I know this because I have no standards when I've been drinking iced tea. I'll go inside any of them. The worst one I've ever been in is inside a supermarket near where I currently live. You'd never guess it would rank lower than any truck stop (they're usually pretty nice) or run down gas station by the way side (again, not normally too bad). I've actually seen small children leave that supermarket bathroom crying in terror. I don't shop there anymore.

The best thing about Charmin's app is you can rate restrooms as you go - so to speak. This is a terrific public service! You can check out reviews because you really can't judge a potty just because it's in a dodgy neighborhood or because it doesn't have modern plumbing. I've been in an Amish outhouse where there was a bank of toilets and it was very nice! Seriously. I almost dropped my phone down a portal too. It would have been gone forever despite the cleanliness. (Note to self: Stop putting phone in back pocket.)

Wish I'd discovered Charmin's app sooner. There's a restroom between Roswell and Carlsbad I'd have enjoyed trying to rate. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was about 130 degrees inside, that can't be helped in the desert. Neither can the "Warning: Rattlesnakes!" sign in the parking lot be blamed. What I'd like to know is, what's up with the three foot tall doors on the stalls?

Somewhere in Pennsylvania I discovered a McDonalds with a Ladies Room made of granite tile, with real flowers, and expensive antibacterial soaps. It does a hopping business too. The only reason I stop in a McDonalds - unless there is a whining child in my vehicle - is to use the restroom. Am I the only one? Who else has taken to using McDonalds as the new rest stop? There's coffee!

But the most amazing bathrooms I've ever been in are in Las Vegas. Vegas is the only city I've ever been in where the hotel rooms actually look like they do in the movies. They're big and beautiful and clean - and the bathrooms are huge, themed, and luxurious! At least the ones on the strip are. As a matter of fact, those bathrooms were about as nice as the rooms.

Somewhere in the Paris Casino

Eiffel Tower Restaurant

Maybe you know? I forget.

House of Blues - metal doors - nice touch!

I remember it was Vegas.

You cannot fathom how many of these potty pictures I now have on my phone. Suffice to say any of the big hotels/casinos have ridiculously posh Ladies Rooms. Though they all use fairly generic toilet paper, points off for that from a functional perspective, don't you think? I mean some of them had television monitors at each sink, but yucky potty paper. The Amish toilets have better paper, and theirs has to be biodegradable. Just saying.

Though I suppose any toilet paper is better than none. I've crossed the border before and there was no toilet paper on the other side. It's easy to forget when you're cruising luxury bathrooms, that paper is a commodity and not affordable or available everywhere. 

I resisted adding Bellagio's spa to my pictures here. Their ladies room had everything from blow dryers to hair pins, deodorant, and juice. I was there for hours. Oh, like you wouldn't have? There was a Jacuzzi and a Eucalyptus steam room too. Sheesh, I don't even gamble and I like to go to Vegas. I think it's like wandering into Ancient Rome from the Serengeti. You look around and say, "Now that's cool, but I'll be going back to the real world now." 

Just Because

Once you're back in the real world you realize you don't need a designer bathroom, and a clean one is all the luxury you really need. As you go about doing your own business, will you join me in my investigative potty reporting on the Charmin App? Whoever is in charge of cleaning the bathrooms in this house better get to work, because if I rated you tonight it would NOT be good. Whose job is that anyway? 

Dang it. I need a robot. Luckily the app is for public restrooms. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014


If you've read Warrior of the Ages, this little interview of the main character might be of interest to you. When I write, I write much more than goes into the book. Every time I think of a question, I write scenes out so that I know the where, why, and how of the book.

This is a scene I wrote as though someone Kahtar trusted and could speak to had asked him what it was like to die. In my mind he was speaking to Beth, a melancholy late night conversation where he opened up and said exactly the truth. Which, of course, you have to do when speaking to Beth.

Your comments would be much appreciated!

Kahtar’s Comments on Dying

There’s an emptiness between times. I mean after I die, and before I repeat again. I don’t ever remember being a baby, and I remember who I am about the age of consciousness, maybe four or five years old, but I’m sure about that emptiness between repeats, and that it has nothing to do with the time I don’t remember who I am yet. I sense something happens during the in-between, but I have nothing more than a vague sense that something did happen.

That’s not what you wanted to know though. You are curious about death.

It doesn’t define your life. Death is usually just one bad day. I would have a hard time pining what deaths went with which life most of the time. The lives stick out more, though some of the timeframe of deaths are easier to remember. I died from the plague three times – twice as a child – so I remember when and where. My entire clan died when a meteor hit that bay in what you now call Canada, I remember that.

Don’t misunderstand. I remember plenty of deaths. It is why I collect those weapons Beth insisted I put down in the basement. I just can’t usually remember which one went with which life. This will not be a pleasant topic. Are you certain you want to know?

Of course it hurts, don’t be ridiculous. I’m always a warrior though, so I’ve never had the pleasure of dying of old age, or in my sleep. I’ve often wished I’d someday know those deaths. I used to think that if I could choose one death, it would be to go while making love to a woman. Now that I have one - a woman that is - I wouldn’t want to waste a moment of lovemaking by dying during it.

The worse way? Dying with regret and failure, dying with no honor or purpose. Alone? We all die alone, that doesn’t matter.

I know what you meant by what’s the worse way. It’s hard to say what is the worst physical death. Torture is bad, there are many ways to hurt a man, but death is welcome then, a gift. I would not say death itself hurts at all, just the path there.

No, normally I don’t welcome it at all. I’m a warrior; I have my duty to live for. I fight death. I’ve particularly hated drowning – for example – when a ship goes down in a storm. Being able to scan makes it worse; you know there is no hope of rescue or land. You know you’ll die of thirst in the middle of all that water, but it would be dishonorable to give up and accept. So you fight it. You get so waterlogged your skin peels off, so sunburned you blister and bleed. If you’re lucky sharks find you. It doesn’t feel lucky when you sense them coming, or when they take a bite and drag you under. It is worse, though, when the sharks don’t come. You battle yourself then, so tempted to sink beneath the waves, but unable to allow it. It is not easy to be Covenant Keeper. It is not easy to be Warrior of ilu.

Both freezing to death and burning are horribly similar in some ways, but fire is worse. You actually burn eventually, like wood I mean. I know that I’ve been unable to fight it to the end with fire. That I breathed in smoke on purpose to end it. There comes a point with pain, when the man vanishes, and the animal takes control. It is horrible to witness…freezing hurts, but then you grow tired, unable to fight it and you sleep.
War? Battle? We do not have the adjectives. It is chaos and insanity, both in ancient wars and modern battlefields. As a Covenant Keeper I do not believe killing should ever be easy. You should look a man in the eye, and kill him with mercy when it must be done. There is an evil in killing by pushing a button. A detachment that is dangerous. Your soul knows though, perhaps the most dangerous part is you can’t heal after it. You must know and suffer what you inflict on others.

Poison is particularly gruesome. I breathed mustard gas in the Great War, separated from my clan I went the same way as the other men I fought beside. You cannot heal yourself. No, I don’t lament that fact, only state it. ilu thought of everything, we need each other to live, it is as it should be. The worst poison I ever ingested has blessedly been eradicated. It was not a Seeker poison, but a Covenant Keeper poison. I died for three years, it was indeed hell.

Copyright 2013
All rights reserved
by S. R. Karfelt

A bit melancholy isn't it? Kahtar is quite good at living with his part-time immortality, but he is only human despite it. I've always thought immortality would be horrific, obviously by this story. What do you think immortality would be like?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why Does it Take so FREAKIN’ Long?

Photo Credit: Pennywise

Book two was written before my first book was published. As a matter of fact the entire WOA (Warriors of the Ages) series was.

So what gives? Either it’s finished or it’s not, right? Thing is, I didn’t say it was FINISHED, nor did I say it was DONE. I said it was written. Big difference. Huge.

The writing process varies for everyone. Here is how it works for me.

  • I write a story.
  • That can take from two weeks to about six.
  • It’s not ready then. Think of it as a skeleton. A skeleton is not a complete being. It’s a skeleton.
  • My book skeletons must be set away for awhile because I fall in love with them when I write them. THE POTENTIAL of those skeletons is huge. It is hard for me to see through that potential and realize there are femurs missing and possibly it has two heads.
  • When I’m ready to take off my rose colored glasses and look at that skeleton critically, only then can it come out of the closet.

  • At this point I check the bones, and hopefully doctor up any extra or missing parts.
  • By this time I’ve once again fallen in love with it, and I’m ready to work on it.
  • Here comes the tricky part. Adding insides, muscle, and flesh to the story skeleton.
  • After that I have a BABY! Yay!
  • My baby goes off to about five of what I call beta readers. I’m the alpha writer, they’re my beta readers. They get a first look at my baby.
  • Sometimes they say, “Man, yore baby ugly!”
  • Sometimes they say, “Didn’t you notice this baby has a tail?”
  • Sometimes they say, “There are seven toes on every foot and there are three feet.”
  • What they say can be pretty much endless.

  • Obviously my baby comes back pretty bruised and crying for its Mama.
  • Don’t tell, but I cry with it when that happens, and I hate my beta readers for a good minute.
  • Through my tears I notice that most of the beta readers said my baby has a tail, and a pointy head. I look closely. By George, it’s true.
  • So I fix it.
  • That takes as long as it takes. Surgery is like that. You know that if you’ve ever waited for someone to get out of the operating room.
  • After that my baby is PERFECT. So I send it off to meet five new beta readers. Not the other ones this time, they’ve been contaminated. They will stare so hard at the spot where the tail used to be that they’ll imagine it is there. The new beta readers won’t think anything at all about that little nub where I snipped it off.

  • Of course once again my baby comes back with problems.  His hair sticks up. He talks weird. He walks funny.
  • And of course once again I hate my beta readers for just a minute. Why can’t they just see the beauty in my baby? Why are they looking for flaws?! Oh wait – that’s their job. Oh yeah.
  • So once again I consider what the bulk of the betas’ said, and I look at my baby from every angle and make the necessary adjustments.
  • What I didn’t mention in this endless writer’s to do list, is that I reread my story countless times between each of these steps. I try to fix most problems BEFORE my betas can point them out. I never get them all.
  • After my baby has had plastic surgery, I may or may not send it to one or two people for a read, just to be sure. At any rate this is the point where my baby goes off to a professional editor.

  • Professional Editors are the Eye of Sauron. Very, very scary. You never know what they’ll say. They might say your baby will never walk right, or that it needs surgery. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll just get your baby back all covered in red, like something the Russian Mafia would leave behind in a cheap motel room.
  • The hating time for editors is a tad longer than a minute.
  • You will rant and rage. Your dog might run away – or your spouse. This all adds to your writing time while you go find them and apologize.

  • Eventually you’ll suck it up, Cupcake, and put on your big girl pants and start cleaning up what your editor did to your baby. It’s a hard job because you’re likely still blinded by a bit of that hate, and you’re not ServPro for pity’s sake.

After you’ve miraculously made your baby look alive again, you will gasp in wonder and amazement. An artist will give your baby something beautiful to wear (called a book cover). Your baby is now ready for its debut, and you will take all the credit for its loveliness, not your betas and editor. Yet all the hate you had for your editor has now turned to undying love, and you’ll spend $40 to send a box of goldfish crackers to your beta in UK.

Your book is now ready. Done. Fin. Well, except for a few little touchups required by the publisher.

S. R. Karfelt
Mostly I’m a takes no prisoners, no excuses kind of gal, but I want my lovely readers to understand the process. It takes awhile to get from:

            “Everyone likes to think rich guys want to marry them.”


            “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

That’s my theory anyway. Do you have one?