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Friday, December 29, 2017

Accepting A Challenge

I just signed on to write a blog a day through the month of January. I hope to produce thirty-one blogs in all. I know, I know, I must be a glutton for punishment or torture, or whatever you want to call it. 

My good friend, Jean Lauzier, was spreading the word about the January 2018 Ultimate Blog Challenge set out by www.ultimateblogchallenge.com, so I joined. 


Didn't spend a lot of time considering what it would take to meet the challenge. After all, for more years than I can recall I've practiced Julia Cameron's recommendation to do Morning Pages. Never heard of it? Every morning after that first cup of coffee while catching up on social media postings, I sit at the desk in my bedroom, light a lovely scented candle - my favorite is usually some spicy fragrance - and write by hand for as much nonstop as possible to fill three pages of a lined spiral notebook.

Sometimes I find myself writing the daily weather I see out the nearby bedroom window, or even comment on the bird and squirrel activity. Recording what I'd gotten into or accomplished the previous day can help fill the lines. Sometimes I have to resort to writing "I can't think of anything to write about." Actually, what you end up writing isn't important. The whole point of this daily activity is to train your brain and hand to a automatically respond and start writing when you grasp a pen or pencil. I hope this activity will keep the juices flowing.

My granddaughter has gotten me well-supplied for the second year in a row by including a couple notebooks and some smooth-writing pens in my Christmas present.

So, instead of once a week, for the whole month of January you can look forward to reading something from me every day. Aren't you excited?

By the way, if you want to check out the instigator, my friend Jean's blog, just click on her blogsite, 
Jeanlauzier.com,

Friday, December 22, 2017

From 'five-and-dime' to 'dollar'


My brother, who recently moved here, asked if there were any Dollar Tree stores in the area.

"We have one in Longview and then there are the Family Dollar and Dollar General stores conveniently located." Seems like every community has one or another convenient for that quick dash to pick up one or two items. They remind me of the Woolworths and Ben Franklins of my growing years.

My first commercial job while still in high school was in that kind of a store. Lincoln Store in Norwich, Connecticut had just about anything you needed but it was more like a Penney's store with furniture and appliances.

Christmas that year, I got permission for my parents to take advantage of my employee discount. They waited until Christmas Eve to come to town for their shopping. Every once in a while, I caught sight of them from my workstation - list in hand, seeking out the least costly item to fill their shopping basket. When you're buying gifts for a family of ten, you have to make a little go a long way.

As my thoughts connected the Woolworths of old with the Dollar Generals of today, I couldn't ignore the irony. In my lifetime, we have gone from a 'five-and-ten', as the old stores were known, to the present-day 'dollar' stores.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Words, Words and More Words


I am fascinated by words..mostly those that have passed out of common usage. Words like flummoxed, lackadaisical, flotsam. One of my research investment was a copy of English Through The Ages. This book can tell me when a word first came into use. I also have a copy of the Oxford American Dictionary with the copyright date of 1979.

Take the word 'flummox'. It first came into use in 1840. It's a verb recognized as British slang and means to baffle. 'Lackadaisical' is an adjective that's been around since 1770 and means just what it sounds like: lacking vigor or determination; unenthusiastic.

Some of these old words seem to sing. Can you hear it? Lack - a - dai- si- cal? Of course, writing for the current reader, it's almost impossible to incorporate any of these fun words. However, I did manage to insert one - flotsam - in the first novel I wrote, 'Til Death Do Us Part.

My brother, who recently came to live with me, was reading this book and had to stop to ask me what the word meant. Oh well.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Life Changes Keep On Happening


My life took another sharp turn this weekend. My big brother has moved here from Kentucky and will be temporarily living in the vacant RV camper. The same one that was home to my son for three years until he bought and moved a house onto our piney woods property. This place is beginning to look like a family enclave.

My younger brother took advantage of the opportunity and volunteered to move Joe down here. It's been a number of years since I've seen either of them, so there's a lot of talking and catching up going on while we unload the trailer and find a place to store everything.

They pulled up around one this afternoon, a big white box mounted on a trailer contained all my brother's earthly belongings. Sadly, Joe wasn't able to bring his dog with him but they found a welcoming new home for him before they left. By evening, the RV had been moved and leveled. All my brother's tools stored in the long-unused duck house built for me years ago by my fathe  when I played at being a country girl.

Tomorrow comes the moving of household goods and personal stuff into the camper, something that will keep my brother occupied for some time.

So now comes the adjustment to sharing my life with someone again after being alone for the past eight months. Time to once again put into practice the give-and-take of compromise.

It's a win-win situation. As his Alzheimer's progresses, I'll be able to fill in the missing blanks. He's going to be a real help bringing all this neglected property back to life and restoring garden beds that haven't had attention for a few years.



Friday, December 1, 2017

How Many Is Too Many?

Scrolling Facebook posts today, I came upon an exchange where an author asks, "How many errors are too many?" The author was concerned over his publisher's cavalier attitude about allowing a manuscript to be published with errors. My immediate reaction was to advise him to take his manuscript and run. 

We Indie book producers have been fighting an uphill battle to be acknowledged by the public and book publishing industry as producing bona fida 'real books.' Those writers I'm acquainted with strive to make their manuscripts as error free as humanly possible. We go to great lengths, sometimes sending the finished work to two and three editors in our attempt to produce the best work we possibly can.

I just finished reading "The Devil Wears Pravda", a best-seller a few years back which eventually became a popular movie. No, this is not a book review. It was produced by Doubleday, a division of Random House, one of the major American publishing houses. Granted what I was reading is what's known as an Advance Reading Copy, but really?

I lost count of how many times miss-spelled words, missing words, miss-used words and even absent complete phrases jolted me out of the story. My understanding of the publishing process--and experience--is that all editing and proof-reading happens BEFORE a single word is printed on the paper. 

The ease of digital printing has opened the door for anyone to produce a book; there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone. Quantity does not always mean quality. And quality is what keeps readers waiting in anticipation of your next book.

Anyone agree with me? I'd love your reaction to errors in a book you've read.