Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Not Available for Purchase at ANY price!

Okay, this is starting to really get to me.

As most of you know, I lost my husband of 43 years to cancer in April. He was the love of life, my dearest friend, my partner, and the dearest thing in my life. Losing him cut to the quick and I still cry every night when I go to bed. The wound is still fresh and I ache like you wouldn't believe.

I don't know if some well-meaning person did this or someone who is just plain mean as hell but I have been getting things like this:

Charlee Compo! Did you know it takes less than 30 seconds to join True and start meeting singles in your area? Are you ready to meet that Special Someone? Press Here!

I have also gotten emails from Match.com, eHarmony, Catholic Match, Catholic Singles, and several other dating sites like Singles.net, Date Hookup, Chemistry, and the most offensive of all plentyoffish.com .

To say this is cruel would be to put it mildly. I've already had two proposals of marriage just from the single men in my CHURCH! These are men who were Tom's friends. If I hear one more, "Tom wouldn't want you to be alone" I'm gonna hit somebody. I also had a proposal from a complete stranger via the web. I have had old classmates who are widowed or divorced writing to let me know they are available. My answer to those men was I had the best and won't settle for the rest. I make it very clear I will never marry again. I may date but marriage is out of the question and yes, I am sure there will be no second marriage.

As a cartoon my friend sent me this morning when I vented this to her says: Some mornings it just doesn't pay to chew through the straps.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans!

I would like to thank and bless the servicemen and women who are serving our country. I pray for the souls of those who gave their lives so we might be free. I pray for those who will come after them. I mourn the loss of the innocent children who I know will one day give their lives so rich old men can get richer still.

I lost a very dear friend in 1969. He threw himself over a grenade to save his two roommates. He died in Vietnam and is buried in Albany, GA where he grew up. When I go home, I always visit his grave. I was able to touch his name on the Wall in D.C. I have the pencil rubbing I took from the Wall tucked safely away in my junior year high school annual where a picture of him and me at a pep rally is there to remind me.

My husband, Tom, served in Vietnam; his brother, Dick, served in the Korean conflict Our son, Pete, served in Desert Storm. Our youngest, Mike, was in both the Army and the Navy though, thankfully, he was not required to go to war. Pete was a medic with the 101st Airborne and was among the first soldiers into Iraq. He saw brutal death for the first time there and came back home to us a much wiser...if sad...young man.

For those of you who had loved ones who went to the Vietnam War or know a soldier who did, please do them a favor and ask them to get a lung x-ray as soon as possible. My wonderful husband had not had one taken in six years and I wish to God he had for it was lung cancer than took his life.

Not from smoking. He stopped smoking when he came back from 'Nam because 'cigarettes were just too expensive'. Smoking was never allowed in our home. He did not go to bowling allies or bars or gambling halls where smoke saturated the air. There was no second-hand smoke to invade his lungs where he worked for it was always in a smoke-free environment.

Nor was it from exposure to asbestos or any other kind of carcinogenic materials he might have encountered after 1969.

My husband died from lung cancer due to exposure to Agent Orange. I have the papers from the Disabled American Veterans Administration to prove it. Just yesterday I received an official notice from them that they had awarded me a widow's pension for his service-related death. As much as that pension is greatly appreciated, I would prefer to have the living man here beside.

Yes, I have written proof that they investigated my claim and the oncologist's statement that Agent Orange was the direct cause of Tommy's death. My government owned up to one of the worst mistakes they ever made. So many young men went to war and never came back. More came back as ticking time bombs with ailments festering inside them that they had no idea was there. Over and above the mental stress that senseless, useless war caused, is the demon lying in wait for the next man who will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Fight for your rights. Hold them accountable for what they caused with their greed.

War is hell. War is stupid. It took from me...far too early...the love of my life.

Bring our men and women home from this other hellish, stupid, useless, pointless war. They should be home with their families where they belong.

Before it is too late.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's in a Name?

Take a look at the cover sitting over there and you'll see my author name. It's my real name and not a pseudonym. I wanted the people in the town where I grew up to know I did achieve my dream of becoming a published writer even when they said I wouldn't. I am very proud of both names...my father's and my husband's. The names mean even more to me now because those wonderful men are both gone.

One name...BOYETT...is Anglo/Saxon. Not French as some would think or as they would pronounce it. Boyt..like Hoyt... is how it is pronounced. Sharp and succinct, the precise meaning has been lost in the mists of time.It is a harder word than the effeminate pronunciation of the French version which is spelled Boyet or Boyette and pronounced Boy Yay or Boy Yet. The French meaning of the word equates to young bull.

Then there's Compo.

Originally spelled Compeaux when my husband's people came to America from France, it is pronounced Com Poe with the emphasis on the second syllable. His people changed the name because the maternal link was Italian and when they arrived in America, they moved into a predominately Italian neighborhood in New York City and the denizens of that class-conscious area of the city were not enamored of the French. His family labeled themselves Italian to keep the young boys in the group from being beaten to a bloody pulp every day after school.Thus the change in the spelling.

It isn't Camp, Campo, Campes, or Campos. Those surnames are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, but of Roman (Latin) origins from the 1st century a.d. Those names are topographical in translation and literally mean the countryside.

Nor is the second part of my surname Compton, Compote or Cornpone. It isn't Compass, Composite or Campus, either.

It is Compo. How hard is that to get right?

My first name gets misspelled quite often, too. Many people spell it Charolette for some odd reason that I can't fathom. My paternal grandmother spelled it Sharlet or Charlut depending on her mood. It is pronounced Shar Lut...not Shar Ruh Lut...and is Germanic in origin and means 'free man'. It is a derivative of Charles. The emphasis is on the first syllable, btw.

Likewise my nickname gets misspelled more often than not. It's Charlee which is pronounced Shar Lee..a soft and delicate nickname...but nearly everyone gives it the hard Char Lee as in Charlie's Angels. People spell it Charlie, Charli, or Charley. Some people even chop it off with a brutal Char which is pronounced Shar and which I hate with a bloody passion. I've reached the point that I, myself, even pronounce it Charlie because it just isn't worth correcting nearly everyone in my circle of acquaintances. It's not as important that it be corrected as my professional name is.

Just as I've gotten into the habit of calling myself Char Lee instead of Shar Lee, I've gotten into the even worse habit of pronouncing my maiden name Boy Yet. Most people pronounce it that way, anyway, so I go along to get along.That, really isn't too bad because my mom often felt compelled....as Hyacinth Bucket of Keeping Up Appearances pronounces her husband's name as Boo Kay... to give herself airs. Daddy didn't seem to mind or care although he hated that his parents called him by his middle name Carl instead of the more forceful first name Floyd.

But I digress.

Put all together, my professional name is Charlotte Boyett-Compo. There is a hyphen there but some people ignore it and leave it off when writing about me. I really wish they wouldn't. Some folks even put me in the C section instead of the B.

And oh! the combinations I've had!

Either Charlotte Boyer-Campo or Charlotte Boyette-Campo seems to be the favorite ones of many reviewers. Some even add the ubiquitous 'S' on the end of Campo to add insult to injury. Charlotte Boyer-Compote, Charlotte Bayette-Compton, Charlotte Boyd-Compos, Charlotte Boy-Comp and Charlotte Boyette-Campus are just a few of the combinations that have slaughtered the name. My personal favorite of all time though was Charolette Bayer-Cornpone. The person who came up with that bizarre combination surely has a special place in Hell reserved for her!

Yes, it rankles me when my name is misspelled. It makes me grit my teeth. It also makes me have less respect for the one who misspelled it in the first place. I feel the same way about people who make errors in their reporting or who use bad grammar in their writing. It's slipshod writing. It's lazy writing. It's just plain discourteous to misspell the name of someone you've interviewed or reviewed. It makes me think they just don't care about what they put their name to. It doesn't take all that much time out of a reviewer's or interviewer's day to make sure they have spelled the name correctly. They took the time to read the book and review it. They took the time to email you the questions for the interview. What's a quick glance to make sure the name is as it should be on the piece? I'm sure they don't appreciate having their own misspelled name put out there for the world to see.

It isn't too much to ask an interviewer or reviewer to get your name right. After all, it is your professional name and you are defined by it. It isn't too much to ask that they glance at a cover from one of your books to ascertain the correct spelling if they are unsure. Nor is it too much to ask that they correct the name in a timely manner when informed they misspelled it.

So, I'm asking reviewers and interviewers and the writers of blogs to LOOK at what you write before you hit the publish button. Make sure you get the author's name right. It's simple courtesy.

And if you're wondering about the above book, Wyndstones is my latest novel and its the first of two long-awaited sequels to my popular NightWind. It was just released this week from New Concepts Publishing. You can read all about it at http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/wyndstone.jpg


Friday, June 19, 2009

These are my latest releases. To learn more about them, please visit my website at www.windlegends.org

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rock, Paper, Scissors

When my boys were little, they couldn't wait for their father to let them push the mower across the grass. It made noise. It looked dangerous...and to some extent was...and it was MANLY. They watched their dad do the yard work and somehow got it into their little heads that it would a neato-keeno thing to do. Of course all that changed when they got old enough to have to do the yard for real.

By then we were living in Milton, Florida and our yard was more sand than grass so it wasn't a bit deal. It was the edging that was the problem and they hated that with a passion. High school boys...unless they are making money from it...aren't too keen on pushing a loud, noisy machine up and down the yard and on the diagonal every other week. Their main objective was borrowing the car. It made noise. It WAS dangerous and sitting behind the wheel with music blaring wasn't neato-keeno but cool.

When we moved to Iowa, our sons had graduated from high school. Pete, our oldest, had just come back from Desert Storm and stayed behind in Florida. Mike came to the Heartland with us. He was in transition between young man into young adult. After we moved into our new house, he was starting to get antsy; wanted to go forth and slay the dragons, himself, and promptly enlisted in the Navy to see the world.

Which returned the mowing to Buddha Belly.

Our yard is nearly an acre and it now required a riding mower...or so Tom insisted. Varoom-varoom, more POWER!!! So he bought a Cub Cadet and looked very rural tooling up and down the yard and on the diagonal every other week. He suffered through edging and using the push mower to get around the nine black walnut trees, three apple, one pear, one plum, one crab apple, one wild cherry, numerous maples, and the assorted lilac bush and forsythia.

For seventeen years, Tommy mowed the yard himself. He shoveled snow and chopped away at the occasional ice on the driveway and sidewalk. He edged with a nasty scowl on his face and in the Fall took great delight in mulching the leaves with the Cadet. He lovingly cared for that bright yellow piece of noisy machinery while secretly wishing he could buy a John Deere with a snowblade.

Now that he's gone, the yard work has been passed on to Pete, Mike, and Pete's son, Preston. It's a three-man tag team match out there and I sit on the porch hiding behind my hand as I try not to laugh out loud at their banter as they trudge into what had been their Dad's domain.

"I've got dibs on the riding mower!" Preston announced since Grandpa had taught him three summers before to tool up and down the yard and on the diagonal every other week he was here visiting us from Colorado where he lived with his mom.

"Fine," Pete agreed with a grimace. He isn't an outdoor person. He's a white collar worker, a computer geek, an IT for a government agency that goes after deadbeat dads. "I'll do the edging."

"Guess that leaves me to push Loud Bertha," Mike complained. At 6'2" he's the tallest and the lankiest and shaves his head for whatever reason. He, too, is a computer geek who speaks a language with his brother and nephew that I can't possibly understand.

The first couple of times the boys went doggedly about their self-assigned tasks until Pete and Mike began eyeing the riding mower with lust. It tooled along noisily and finished its job before the edging and push mowing had been done.

"I'm taking the Cadet this time," Pete stated with the assurance of being the MANOFTHEHOUSE now that his dad was no longer there to fill that coveted position.

"Unh, unh," Mike disagreed with an emphatic shake of the head. "It's my turn. Age before beauty only works for girls."

Girls? I silently mouthed as I listened to them begin to argue the GREAT DEBATE.

As I sat in the swing and they carried on their childish argument, I nearly choked when the way they decided to handle it was with Rock, Paper, and Scissors...the tried and true decision maker of men all over the world.

"Rock, paper, scissors!" they said in unison, their arms bouncing to the chant.

I had to slap both hands over my mouth so they wouldn't hear my laughter.

It's been that way ever since but now they are playing the Big Bang Theory's ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS-SPOCK! I've learned to control my laughter and I can't help but think Tom is sitting there in the swing with me chuckling silently, his merry gray eyes twinkling at the absurdity of it all.

This last week, they abandoned the game and went back to Preston on the riding mower...chugging along at an unbelievable speed, Pete with the weed eater swinging from his shoulder...taking out flowers with the weeds and grass, and Mike pushing Loud Bertha around the yard...mumbling about how LB is an electric mower and requires two hundred feet of bright orange cord dragging up and down the yard.

But never on the diagonal every other week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just a Rainy Day in the Heartland

I don't sleep well anymore and wake numerous times during the night. I lie awake and think of a dozen things I need to do come morning. Somewhere around 4 am the rain started. It took my mind off everything else as I listened to it pounding the roof. It was a steady rain...heavy at times...and there were two rolls of thunder before it quieted to a soft, gentle sprinkle around 6 am.

I have always loved the rain almost as much as the wind. It can be such a soothing sound and...like the wind...it is nature's car and house wash. It cleans away the soot and grime and dirt, refreshes the leaves, gives the thirsty roots a good drink. Here in the Heartland of America, the rain can be your friend or it can be your worst enemy. Flooding can be severe and when the tornadoes accompany it, the rain can be deadly. Wall clouds are no joking matter here in Tornado Alley and if you've ever driven through one, you know what white-knuckle driving is all about.

You may or may not know that my Tommy was a retired military weatherman. He was fascinated by all the phenomena that accompanies violent storms...whether rain or snow or wind. So when I would catch him watching the skies closely, I always became antsy. If his eyes held concern, my heart raced. He was always quick to reassure me that it was just a bad storm, nothing to worry about.

On May 3, 1995, he and I were driving down to Texas for a convention he was attending. It was my first time traveling through Oklahoma and we crossed the border right at dusk. For miles, we had been watching a tremendous buildup of cumulonimbus clouds forming south of us. Anvil tops, Tommy called them and when they are white and puffy, they are glorious. These weren't white and puffy. The sky was a dark, gunmetal gray and Tom's eyes began to get 'the look' in them that told me he was a bit concerned about it. By the time it was fully dark, the rain started and you could barely see a foot ahead of you.

I wasn't thinking about Wall clouds at that moment as we traveled down the interstate. Wall clouds never entered my mind. I was worried because I knew Tom...hunched over the wheel, hands fiercely gripping it...couldn't see the road all that well. He didn't dare pull off onto the shoulder he said for fear someone would hit us so he kept going. When we passed several Oklahoma state troopers parked along the shoulder, I could tell Tom was really tense. Silly me, I didn't question why they were there but Tom knew.

"Look for an exit, sweetie," he said calmly, glancing at me. "We need to get off the road."

His voice was calm, steady. I just nodded. My trust in him and his judgement knew no limit.

The Good Lord was with us that night because a mile or so farther, we found an exit and there was a bright glare of lights. We pulled off and took the very last spot under the awning of a convenience store gas island. Just as he turned off the engine, the hail started and it started with a vengeance, pinging off the metal roof and hitting the ground like buckshot.

"Wall cloud," he said softly and reached for my hand. I gripped it so hard he winced.

I don't know how long we sat there until the rain and hail stopped but when we were on the move again, I saw him wipe sweat from his brow and knew the man had been afraid. That was something I had never seen before. It shook me to my core and I realized just how dangerous things had been. I swallowed hard.

But not as hard as when we got back on the interstate.

Lightning was flashing all around us, the wind brutally pushing against the car and I turned to get something out of the backseat just as one brilliant pulse of light lit the sky. My eyes went to the flare and I saw it. My heart ceased to beat. The moisture drained from my mouth. My eyes widened.

It was a dark, ugly wedge moving swiftly across the landscape just off to the east of our car. It took up most of the sky. With every additonal flash of light, I could see the massive size of it, the deadly scope of what I knew was one helluva tornado.

"Tommy!" I remember crying out.

Very calmly he reached for my hand again. His voice was soft, without any touch of fear.

"Yeah, sweetie, I see it. Just turn around and sit down. It's moving away from us." He squeezed my hand. "Everything is gonna be all right."

We were silent all the way to OK City and once in the motel, turned on the TV. There had been a massive tornado...Oklahoma's first F5...the fastest winds ever recorded anywhere on earth, clocked at 318 mph. In it's wake, it left 44 dead, 750 injured, and over 10,000 homes were destroyed. It was a killer storm. (If you'd like to see footage of it, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pbqGsS5iB4&feature=related )

The next morning when we went to breakfast, there was a kiosk of postcards near the front door. Tom plucked one from the rack and handed it to me with a grin. I looked down at the card to see a brilliant stitch of lightning suturing a night sky. It simply said: "Welcome to Oklahoma".

"A souvenir for you, doll," he said, chuckling.

Now, when the sky gets dark and the bad rains start, I remember that evening. It's something you live with here in the Heartland but it can happen anywhere. The tornado season has just started so thank God for the weathermen, the storm spotters and chasers. I wish mine was here to comfort me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gone with the Wind

Many of you may know that I lost the love of my life, my wonderful Buddha Belly, my soul mate of 43 years on April 18, 2009. Tom was my biggest fan, my staunchest supporter, and was (without doubt) the Wind beneath my wings. With his death, my wings folded with a hard quiver and I am grounded...at least for now.

I've been asked many times why I use the word 'wind' in my titles. My usual explanation is because I was born on June 20th, a Gemini, and an Air Sign. I tell interviewers I love the way the wind moves over me, the sounds it makes, the way it clears debris from the landscape.

The truth is much harder to explain. Tom was everything to me and he gave me not only the wings to fly but flew right alongside me, clearing the way, protecting me, encouraging me when I decided to become a writer, nagging when I wanted to quit. Without a single second thought he shelled out thousands of his hard-earned money to get my first book published with a subsidy publisher. He didn't bat an eye because he had faith in me. If NY wouldn't take my work, he'd get it out there anyway he could. If it meant doing without something he wanted, he never complained. He gladly shelled out another couple of thousand on the second book without a qualm. His motto came from a quote on a card he bought me: "If you don't do it, you'll never know what would have happened if you had done it." He'd smile and add: "Go for it, sweetie."

Long before the song Wind Beneath My Wings came out, that was exactly what he was to me. He was beside me every moment of my journey from unknown, struggling writer to published author to now having a large reader base who faithfully buy whatever I write. NY may still thumb its nose at me but I'd venture to say more people on the Internet know who I am thanks to Tom than the authors who were one-hit wonders in NY and who faded into the mist, never to be read again.

I have Tom to thank for every reader I have. His encouragement and his support was beyond measure and beyond price.

Now that he is gone, the Wind has been laid to rest. It swirled among his ashes and resides in the urn that sits on my dresser. There will be no more Wind titles now out of respect for the man, the friend, the lover, the everything who has left my world.

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