Monthly Archives: September 2013

Happy Birthday From Florida Pamela Beckford!!!

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Hallmark has a lot to say and though they say it well

I think that maybe you’ll agree there’s still a lot to tell

So bring on the cabana boys and all the margaritas

We want to share in all the joy and dine on hot fajitas

We’re going to dance the night away and party until dawn

So save your cares for another day and put your glad rags on

Hot water is in the Jacuzzi and the cold is in the pool

RUM!? I’ll have mine in a smoothie, ‘cause I’m a healthy fool!

Steel drums sound by the poolside, palm trees are bending low

There’s a lot that we that could tell, but just a few you need to know

There’s an age when nothing matters but the fun that’s found in friendship

It’s a sort of fun not found easy when you’re hanging with your kinship

We don’t judge on bad behavior, reveal the secrets that we know

We just jump right in there with you making memories to show

So when you look back on your life and wonder where it went

Recall the parties that we had and all the good time spent

I could bring up all the times you really made my day

Or how you calmed my fears and wiped my tears away

But that would get all soppy and maybe make you cry

So I’ll make my final statement, and let your face stay dry

Happy Birthday Pam!!!  We Love You!!!

Childhood Innocence and Ovid’s Myth

I found this picture over the weekend.  It was from when I was innocent enough to believe that black people were black because they had been struck by lightning.  You will have to read the book to get the rest of that story, or at least this old post.  There is such a purity in not knowing.  I don’t have but a couple of pictures of me as a child because foster care wasn’t conducive to keeping up with those and most of my siblings and cousins got what few my grandparents had in their possession.

Susan at six 007

This one is from 1966.  It was before the first real tragedy in my life, when innocence was the essence in the eyes that had cried few real tears.

I was babysitting this weekend and it occurred to me that children are so very innocent.  They only know what they learn as they grow, and each is influenced by their own little world that expands as they mature.  Though not a perfect love, I am reminded of Ovid’s Myth…parental artists, we are, that we could mold them and shape them into perfection, but that doesn’t happen, and it shouldn’t.…reality is that they are formed by their own uniqueness and their own experiences.  They are a gift to us that we give back to the world one day.tumblr_lxpnwvgxVY1rn9t9qo1_r1_500

There are so many avenues for advice these days with access to the internet, other media, and all of the Mommy Blogs.  All we can truly do is to try to teach them sound values and morals, give them something to believe in, and trust that they will find their way.

Writer’s Cough

I know I said I was done posting for the weekend but I ran across this on Kate Sparkes’ blog, Disregard the Prologue, and I could not resist sharing. It is from Kelsey Macke’s vlog, and too funny. With all of you writers out there and the flu season just around the corner, I want to remind you to wash your hands and no coughing on the screen. Oh yeah! Don’t forget to cover your mouth when you cough!

Now I am off to bed so I can get plenty of rest and not get sick.

The Grandmother Journal: Part One

summer crossstitch

Cross Stitch by Renee

I will not have much of an online presence this weekend.  I would like to get my first project imported to Scrivener.  Tomorrow I will be babysitting the six month old grandson while Mama and Daddy take the three your old granddaughter to see The Ice Princesses Show for a few hours.  Sunday, I am traversing southward to Melbourne, FL with a girlfriend to visit some seaside parks.   The husband is off this weekend to West Palm Beach with his son and a friend to attend a car parts swap meet of some sort (that involves camping) concerning his son’s “72” Mustang.  I won’t pretend to know what that is all about.

Knowing that I will be home with the grandson by myself, without an extra pair of hands to help out, I am reminded of raising my own kids.  I had no physical help with that. Their Dad was at work and their grandparent’s involvement was limited. There were no aunts or uncles close by.  Most of my cousins were involved in their own lives.  There were five years differences in my children’s ages.  There were three of them and it was like a three ring circus.  I know you people with four to nine are laughing and saying, “Man, could I tell her a thing or two!”  I believe you, too.

My oldest son stuffed nasturtium seeds up his nostrils when he was two, and I didn’t notice until they had germinated in his head.  He started having trouble breathing. Several days later I watched in the ER as the Doc pulled them out roots and all.  My daughter, who was always spraining something, fell off of the trampoline and hurt her arm.  Not wanting to bother with another trip in for x-rays only to be told, “Just a sprain.”  I packed her in ice and put her to bed. The next day, the arm was swollen.  Took her in for x-rays…it was broken.  The youngest son, fell from his swing to rip his leg open on a protruding screw.  Never cried.  Happened to see him, and the blood.  Put a pressure dressing on it and took him to the ER…16 stitches behind the knee.

At fifty plus years, I know now why God gives children to the young.  My eyesight and hearing are not as acute as they once were.  My reflexes are a bit slower.  It takes time for me to respond to things that I was once quick to react to.  I want to be mothering but not smothering. That worries me sometimes as a grandmother. But should it?

My mother’s mother, we’ll call her Grandma, was a worrier.  She fed us from cans and TV dinners served in little tin trays.  She lived in a small town and watched us like a hawk.  She never let us out of her sight.  Whether we were in the den or on the porch, there she was, hovering.  If we went out, she had us by the hand.  She would never take more than two of us (there were six granddaughters) on at a time by herself.  She was divorced and there was no Grandpa to lend a helping hand.  She stayed on the telephone or watched television with one eye while the other eye watched us.  She was a nervous person. She chained smoked. If we were within 20 feet of the street, she called us back.  If we got dirty, she made a fuss over cleaning us up.  We followed rigid rules in her house.  She never spanked us, but had a way with words that could make you feel guilty whether you were or not.

My father’s mother, we’ll call her Grandmother, never gave us much of a thought, other than to see to it that we were well fed.  She was the best cook in the county and always had sweets on the table, homemade cupcakes and cookies in the jar.  We snacked when we wanted.  There were sodas and sweet tea in the fridge and ice cream sandwiches in the freezer. She lived on a large farm with my grandfather out in the country.  She opened the door and we went wherever, to ride the horses, through the woods, down to the pond, across the pasture to the creek to swing on the muscadine vines. There were eleven of us, and it didn’t matter if there was one or eleven, she seemed to get on with her farm life with hardly a notice to us.  She ran a landscaping nursery with greenhouses and we would pull weeds for a quarter per row.  Grandfather would take us to the little country store to spend it. Getting dirty was expected, and meant that she would be pulling out the #3 washtub for cleanup at sunset.  Television was the midday siesta time when the soaps were on and the heat outside was too hot to work in, with her hands busy snapping beans or shelling peas, or evenings with Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw.  She was up before dawn and usually still awake after midnight writing letters to family.  There were no real rules, but there were expectations.  If expectations weren’t met, you could plan on the hickory switch coming off of the mantel.

I raised my children on a farm.  They hated it when they were younger because all of their friends from their private school in the nearby city lived in suburbia.  They watched shows like “Wonder Years” with resentment.  Once they matured, they were most grateful for having had the experience of farm life.  They recall with fondness their liberties and responsibilities.

I live in a big city now, and my grandchildren are right here just a few city blocks away.  My daughter’s home is behind an office complex that sits on a busy five lane city street, and I worry…like Grandma that the toddler is going to find her way out there.  I also try…like Grandmother to make certain I have special treats and activities on hand.  We don’t have the luxury of farm life anymore, and it was a luxury, though we did not realize it at the time.  We have less than a half-acre with a pool and a shop, and while the pool and shop warrant attention, I am trying to be less like Grandma and more like Grandmother.

We do fun stuff like go to the city parks, theme parks, and beaches whenever we can, but I like to have Mama with me.  The six month old is easy.  Play with him, carry him around, feed him, diaper him, rock him, put him to sleep, and hope I hear him when he wakes up before he is roaring angry or frightened to tears.  The toddler is a different story.  While she does well to engage herself with the iPad and TV, she also demands a lot of 1:1 interaction.  We make cookies, read books, paint pictures, play games; do sand art and other crafts.  We don’t have a hickory switch (or even a mantel), but we have popped her butt a couple of times. Once, when she deliberately stomped my dog’s foot, and again, when she threw a rock at Grandpa’s hard top convertible Mercedes.  Mama did not like that we did.  She has rules in my house but they are not so very rigid.  All I have to do is ask her if she wants her butt popped and she immediately apologizes for whatever she was about to do or did.  Her responsibilities at Grandmother’s house include particular little chores that she is praised or rewarded for, and she is eager to commence with them whenever she visits.

As many of you know, my mother died young and I was raised, in part, by my grandparents.  I consider my time with my grandchildren a gift.  I can only hope and pray that they will look back on their time spent with me fondly.  I loved both my grandma and grandmother, and I am sure that they both loved me in their own ways.  I know that I love my grandchildren.  I want to be a Grandmother to be respected and admired.  I am going to stop worrying about it, and just be who I am.

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Friday Feature: An Interview with John W. Howell

Great interview of John W. Howell by Marie at 1 WriteWay. Eagerly anticipating the publication of his new novel!

1WriteWay

Welcome to an interview with John W. Howell, author of a new novel (working title:  My GRL) soon to be published by Martin Sisters Publishing.  John is also an editor at The Community Storyboard, a student of the haiku, a short story writer when he is not writing haikus or working on his next novel, and is my “partner in crime” in producing a weekly Top Ten List of Things Not To Do at both his blog, Fiction Favorites, and my own, 1WriteWay.  John worked for 40-plus years in the private sector world before taking up writing full-time and is currently undergoing “margarita therapy” in an effort to overcome the unpleasant memories he has from that long, painful experience.

M:  John, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed.  Of course, I wanted to return the favor since you had interviewed me not too long ago. …

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So You’re Going to Give Your Character a Pet

Some things to think about if you are adding pets/animals to your stories.

Legends of Windemere

So, you want to use a pet in your story.  Good idea.  There’s a long tradition of helpful animal companions of both natural and magical varieties.  It all comes down to what you want you’re looking for.  Here are some tips to get you started and know what to do with them:

  1. You can’t go wrong with a dog.  Even Riddick has a dog now.  The thing about dogs are that they’re loyal and come in a variety of shapes.  You can do a lot with a dog because of how they act in real life.
  2. You can go wrong with a cat.  Wild cats like tigers and panthers seem to work for primal characters like barbarians.  They can come in magical varieties too.  Sadly, a house cat might not work out too well for all characters.  Something to consider is that many villains have cats like Skeletor and Blofeld. …

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Scrivener: An Initial Overview and Impression

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I don’t sell Scrivener.  I am a newbie.  I said that I would keep you posted about my experience with Scrivener, so here I am.  First, I want to thank everyone for the fantastic and very helpful feedback that I received on Sunday night’s post.  My WordPress friends and family really rock!   Yeah! I mean you!  A special thanks to Ionia Martin for the reblog, which brought on board many that I might not have had contact with.

I was able to get links for more info, connections to other savvier Scrivener users and users of other writing tools, a host of helpful tips, and more support than I could have imagined.  You can access all of these in the post comments.

Also, am using Scrivener with Microsoft Windows on a PC, but a Mac version was its original version and is available.

That said, let’s get on with this: Scrivener is a new to me writing tool.  It is software that enables you to work with your manuscript to organize, edit, research the web and upload content, create outlines, characters, locations and scenes, create parts and chapters, save all of your writing and data in one place or “project” in binder folders that are easily accessed and neatly arranged.

Thanks to a related article link, I was able to connect to Vicki Thompson in Kent England who had included in a post that she was about to embark on a Scrivener online course.  The course was to be offered by WizIQ.com, and was being taught by Gwen Hernandez, the author of “Scrivener for Dummies”.  I jumped at the opportunity to get into this course, knowing my need to be motivated and to have an instructor for guidance, even though the classes started the next morning at 9am. I was signed up before midnight Sunday night.

For starters, Scrivener is inexpensive in consideration of its usefulness.  It is $40.00, and with my husband’s Lockheed Martin discount, he was able to purchase for $20.00.  There are other discount coupons available out there if you take the time to look for them.  Also, you can take the thirty day “Trial Version” (with a few less bells and whistles) and know that the thirty day trial is good for thirty days of actual usage, not simply thirty continuous days.  The online course was $40.00.

Two methods are available for me to get familiar with Scrivener and what it has to offer 1) The Tutorial that comes with the purchase, and 2) The Online Course with Gwen.

First Impressions:

Tutorial:

  • Long – It is supposed to be a 1-2 hour tutorial, and I am still on section 2 of 8, and it is Wednesday.  I have had this thing since last Thursday. Okay, I don’t claim to be all that tech savvy and I am trying to go through this thing slowly so I can absorb and digest, but it seems like a lot to cover.
  • Much detail that I will probably never use, (such as how to make graphs, tables, and spreadsheets) unless I start writing articles for a magazine.  For fiction writing, the purpose that I have this for, the tutorial is probably a tad impractical and wasting a lot of my time.  Seems overwhelming to start with.
  • Sells Pitchy– While a good overview of its many fine features, it seems to be showing them, rather than demonstrating how to put them to practical use.
  • Value– Useful for an overview of the binder (folders panel), editor (where the bulk of text is written, imported or copied, which can be easily spit vertically or horizontially), and inspector (where the index cards brief synopses [scenes, characters, locations, image cards] are created). Also gives a broad overview on the functional capacity of the software.

Online Course:

  • Brief Lessons– So far, in the past three days the lesson have been from 5-10 pages long and include many helpful screenshots so you can rest assured that you are progressing as expected.  The lessons and homework take me less than an hour or two to compete, although they are getting a little more in-depth now.  I am also starting to trash and redo lessons a second time just to make sure I have a clear understanding on how to easily do the work without guidance.
  • There is much practical application explained by Gwen as you go through the lesson plan and the plan is geared toward writing and researching for fiction.  I can really see where this tool would be most useful for someone writing a fantasy novel with many creative characters that have their own unique personalities, associated poems, and illustrations.  All of your character profiles, images, and sketches can be index carded and pinned to a corkboard for reference.  Also, for fiction writers, the Binder is categorized with headings and subheadings as your manuscript develops or requires editing and these are directly related to your editor and inspector where you do the work.  I know that may sound confusing, but trust me, with Gwen’s practical lessons, it is really quite a simple process.  As well as fiction writing, I can also see how this could be extremely useful to the non-fiction writer, maybe even more so.
  • Selling the learning process not the product- Gwen knows that you already have the product and want to know how to get the best use from it.  She is not trying to entice you to go from trial version to licensed ownership because her goal is to help you learn HOW to use it well.
  • Value- Worth every penny!  Gwen’s advice, her humor, her attention to detail and step by step guidance and screenshots are indispensable.  I don’t think I could have respected the software as a very useful tool without the education she has provided.  She is also a good motivator, always available, through email and online chat 9 am -9 pm (not always instantly, she can’t sit by the computer for 12 hours, but she responds to everybody).  The lessons are put up on the site at 9am every morning, and go five days a week for a month. Then there will be two more weeks of questions/answers. The WizIQ program is user friendly, you can download and file all lessons, and other tutorials like “How to take screenshots”, etc… easily.  I printed mine as well, for easy reference.  It is interactive and I never feel like I am alone.  If the instructor is not immediately available, there is always an individual with more experience willing to assist.

In summary, I think this writing tool is going to effectively serve the purpose for which I acquired it and that was to get and keep organized while I write my novels.  The novel (my project) can have parts and chapters arranged in folders, with subfolders of text which can be compiled in the end back into one long manuscript.  The research, whether web pages, images, maps, articles, audio files, notes and comments, other pieces of pertinent data has a nice way of staying organized and easily accessible. I can finally clean off my desk, and not be afraid that I am going to lose or misplace something important.  I will still keep a notebook handy, but most of this crap can go!  I only wish that I had something like this 25 years ago when I was in college!!!

Sex: Is it sexier in the light or in the dark? Seriously folks?

image obtained from photobucket.com
image obtained from photobucket.com

I have come upon a place that might warrant a sex scene.  I am not even certain if I want a sex scene in this novel.  Then again, I am thinking maybe there has to be, needs to be a sex scene.

I am a very visually oriented person.  My writing reflects that.  I love the sense of sight and the visuals of motion, but writing a sex scene is most often dominated by other senses, touch, smell, sounds, hearing.

So what do you think?  Can we have a romantic, sexy sex scene in the light, or do we need to find a more intimate, more discrete manner in the dark or with candles lit…somewhere, somehow?

The personality of the characters in this scene probably wouldn’t mind either way, but as a reader, what do you think?

And, do we really HAVE to HAVE a sex scene?