Friday, September 30, 2011

A Degree...Really? Or What Are They Teaching in Schools These Days?

Belonging to several writing communities along with networking among other aspiring and published writers, I am left with one question. Does anyone teach proper English any longer? I am the first to admit the advent of the calculator saved me a multitude of mathematical errors in my day. Although math has never been second nature to me; through the years I have mastered 'it'. Also, I do not proclaim to make a living as a mathematician.

 Technology also allows us to use grammar and spell check on our handy dandy laptops. I still believe a common sense, basic language skills approach works. No one asks for twenty-four/seven perfection. I confess, while on IM, banging out a rough draft or in a chat room I pound out words at record speed that may contain an error or two. However if I am blogging, writing an article, etc, I use a word program as a backup.

I am floored to hear the same person who cannot distinguish between "there, their and they're" profess to have spent four years in college. Do they buy a degree? I assure you it was not earned. I am left wondering exactly how uneducated the people we send out into the work force are. This is basic elementary education, not rocket science.

Numerous articles have sprung forth in recent months regarding the mass production of romance books and the lack of editing. Not only is this evident in self-publishing but among well respected publishers. A few How To books are now suggesting we re-edit our own books. Perhaps it is a prerequisite for those who want to avoid blaringly obvious blunders in the finished product. Might I suggest as well, if you intend to write professionally, invest in a word program or...Lern ta spel.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Versatility in Writing or How to Uncover Five Unknown Facts

I wish to offer a big "Thank You" to S.L. Bartlett of awarding me one of the five "Versatility in Writing" Awards. It is greatly appreciated and hopefully somewhat deserved.
The policy is that you also give this award to five deserving bloggers along with disclosing five things no one knows about you. The first I have to forego as I shamefully must admit to not reading five blogs with enough consistency to recommend more than three. (I am a newbie to blogging, though not writing.)
Joanna Bourne offers invaluable advice to aspiring authors. As she writes Historical Romance, I find her blog useful and humorous.
I have long been a fan of S.L. Bartlett's writing. I would happily set aside a purchased book to read her latest Romantic Adventures or Blog.
She inherited my love of writing.  

My List:

1) As attested to in my only choosing three blogs, I break rules. (Yes, I could have lied; easily found two more blogs.) I find rules a nuisance. They are an unnecessary restriction that blocks creativity. I love to push the envelope, break the rules and above all question authority. Yes, I was a rebellious teen who drove my parents to madness. No worries, my payback come in the form of my oldest child. There is a glitch in my thinking that makes me believe a slight twist will make anything a little better.

2) I still have my dad's favorite shirt. The one I bought him for Christmas one year.  The color enhanced his blue eyes. The ones that shone with brightness before cancer and chemo sucked the life out of him. RIP Dad.

3) My nails have not been polish-free since I was seventeen.  There is no reason for a lady not to have nice hands.

4) For five years I was the president of a Father's Right's group. (They asked; I accepted the position.) I helped create laws, wrote a column in our monthly news letter, spoke at legislative hall and went on television several times.

5) I possibly have the world's worst singing voice.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Animal Rights Activist or Black Penis Envy?

I gave thought to the prudency of broaching what could possibly be an offensive topic. After all, a writer aspiring to be a published author in the near future could make enemies. Any controversy in the romance genre, which I write and network, rarely extends beyond subjects that sell books. What will the reader accept and purchase, etc. It occurred to me, am I really a writer if there are topics I avoid in my personal blog? Is a blog no more than a means of networking or is it a vehicle by which I can get my ideas out there; make people think? There are times when a writer should not merely rock the boat. We must tip the boat over and watch as everyone scrambles to safety. This is one of those times.

After watching a disappointing (to Eagles fans) Sunday afternoon Eagles vs. Giants game, the hubs and I went to the local grocery store. The deli, looking like it had been through a war with all of the pre-game orders, was now void of any activity. Monty (hubs) asked the clerk, a nice looking young black man, if we needed a number. He politely replied, no, he would be happy to take our order. In a laughing voice he added, "You're not Giants fans, are you?"
After assuring him we were not, a spirited discussion regarding the 'damned Giants" and Michael Vick's hand injury ensued, as he filled our order. Just as my husband explained that it was Vick's right hand (he throws with his left) that was injured, the customer behind us rudely announced it was Vick's comeuppance. "He is finally feeling a little of the pain he put the dogs through", he ranted.
I turned to the uninvited participant of our Eagles cheering section. "Vick's has paid his debt to society." Turning my attention back to the discussion, we were once more interrupted by the opinionated middle aged pasty skinned man behind us.
"He has not yet begun to pay down his debt!" (There was more but I will spare you.)
Sighing loudly, I turned back to see he was averting his eyes from my husband and I to glare at the clerk. In that moment it became clear the discussion was not so much about animal rights and Vick's prior conviction as it was his skin color.  Never being one to let an opportunity for a little rubbing of salt in what was clearly an open wound with this intruder; I proceeded to count off the numerous accolades of Michael Vick, topping it off with, "President Obama praised The Eagles for giving him a second chance."
After wiping the froth from his mouth, he (still avoiding eye contact with me) told the clerk he would see Vick's fall. "You just wait!" He rampaged.

The clerk looked over the counter. In a voice that had not an iota of sarcasm he asked, "Sir, are you a Republican?" He then looked over at my husband and me adding, "Republicans always seem to fly off the handle over these things."
We burst out laughing and left him to deal with the irate customer behind us. We were fortunate in that we could walk away. The clerk couldn't. He has to listen to the rage of a man who I am convinced didn't give a fiddler's damn about Vick's conviction. He has been emboldened by the racism that has reared its ugly head in this country.

In conclusion, I am neither an animal rights activist nor someone who would harm animals. I am a citizen who believes once a debt to society is paid, we move on. Furthermore, I am not someone who believes in bulling someone because I am in the position to do so. Above all I am a person who can enjoy a conversation with various people from different backgrounds. How much more enriching my life is; than those who limit themselves with their own anger.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Internet Pioneers or How to Co-Author a Romance Novel

It was the mid nineties. I was pushing the BIG 40. Over one third of all American homes had computers with internet access. There was nothing beyond the United States...was there? I was about to get a lesson in that. A lesson that tumbled into my home along with the tower, monitor and dial up internet access my husband insisted we have. Correction. My darling daughter, then in the 4th grade, decided her studies would greatly suffer without the ever growing in popularity, home computer. She went to her father. Just as she went to him when she wanted a dog...and a huge bash for her 13th birthday. The former brought an un-trainable but lovable black lab trampling through our house. The latter ended in a limo drive for daughter and her friends. Really. I did not always say 'no'. Only to un-trainable labs, limo rides and what I perceived as an unnecessary home computer.
My husband came home from work one evening, computer in tow. I sat down at his encouragement and guardedly touched the 'mouse'.
"What does this mousey thing do?"
It was probably the last question I asked before taking off on 'my' computer.  No one in the family, children with computer classes included, has been able to match my tech skills.  We (the late thirties/early forties crowd) were catapulted into a world our parents barely dreamed of and our children with their young, sponge-like minds, were being taught. Our minds, older and not so absorbent, let alone open to new ideas, were sent swirling into cyber-space at the speed of dial up.
This generation I belong to are the true pioneers of the internet. The World Wide Web was at our fingertips and we weren't letting it pass us by! That was well over a decade ago. The world that opened up to me has been an experience so amazing that words fail me. People from all over the world were marching across my monitor and into my life.
 My biggest surprise? Not everyone loved Americans. Not everyone even liked Americans. Who knew? Biggest disappointment? Not everyone online is honest. Greatest thrill? Four of the most awesome people I could possibly imagine having in my life, I met online. Mike in NZ was the first. No, he does not always like Americans but it's okay and he adores me so that is all that matters. We only talk a couple of times a year, always on New Years as it is the anniversary of his son's passing. Tom, a liberal living in Texas. That alone should clue you in to his great sense of humor and quick wit. How else could a democrat survive in Texas? Fran, a postal worker, who is as sane as anyone working in that field. Last but I assure you never least is Sheree. A Canadian woman who is as different from me as night is from day. Except, we both...write. It is the one common denominator that brought us from "Hello how are you?" to "Let's write a book!" It is she whom I would name if asked my greatest joy and most rewarding accomplishment online.
A good decade ago, on a hot summer afternoon, and after a nice swim I came home and checked in to what was then the booming MSN Communities. In one such community I frequented there was a 'tag' that caught my eye. An inter-active writing group set in a medieval island. It was "Sheree" who created and moderated the group. After I applied and a short talk later, I was accepted.
 My first 'accomplishment" was to spend a week wreaking havoc on the story boards where I asked so many questions, Sheree created a 'general board' to side track me from interrupting story lines. Then I delved in! My writing, as rudimentary as it was, had potential. It was possibly that budding talent that allowed her to see past my many flaws. (We will not mention how many years it took her to teach me the necessity of conflict in a story line.)
I would tell you there have been no bumps in the road, but just as in life off line, such unfettered bliss is not possible. What I will say is that every wondrous, tumultuous moment has been worth it. A decade later, having raised six children between us, I pestered her to practice writing with me. She relented, with some trepidation, I'm sure. In six months we realized we had written enough to fill several books. It was then we decided to simply "just do it". Write the books we knew had the substance to sell.
106,000 words into the first book, we are well on our way! Not bad for a couple of Internet Pioneers.