Wednesday, May 28, 2008

As The Jaw Clenches


A New Soap Opera for Authors

Between belonging to two critique groups, being edited by different publishing houses and reading information on blogs, I feel more confused than ever. It seems that rules change from house-to-house and while the lines blur, I am very clear on the following traps we authors fall into while writing. I just wonder why some people refuse to crawl out after they’ve tripped up. I keep reading the same mistakes over and over so I’m offering a few helpful hints that I’ve garnered from such places as Michelle Styles' awesome blog, http://michellestyles@blogspot.com, and from the owner of Enspiren Press, Suzanne James. These people seem to have an awesome grasp on what NOT to do when writing that winning novel. I’m going to address a few areas in no particular order:

1. ACTION/REACTION Sequence
The sequence makes sense. Before someone can react, something has to happen first. What may seem simple can be demonstrated with the following examples:
John jumped up and screamed when the ghost appeared from the closet. Or A ghost appeared from the closet, and John jumped up and screamed.
Sally bumped her head when the car hit a curb. OR The car hit a curb and Sally bumped her head. Both make sense, but the rule is: Action first, Reaction second.
The ghost appearing is the ACTION, and I believe John’s REACTION is apparent.
Sally probably wouldn’t bump her head unless the car hit a curb. Make sense?

2. ‘THAT’ bad habit
When I write, and I notice others do the same, I tend to stick in ‘that’ where not necessary. I almost did it when I wrote the first sentence. Out of habit, I wanted to put “I notice THAT others do the same. A recent rejection I received noted I used ‘that’ far too frequently, so now I’ve become accustomed to thinking before I type it. I normally would have typed the preceding sentence thusly: A recent rejection THAT I received noted THAT I used ‘that” far too frequently, so now THAT I’ve become accustomed to thinking… I think THAT you get the picture…oops. I think you get the picture.

3. BACK STORY
Almost every story we write requires some back story (facts leading up to current), but the secret is peppering it throughout so that we don’t bury the reader with it. Novels are supposed to unfold as they’re read—happen in the moment and drawing the reader into the action. If you spend paragraph upon paragraph to TELLING what happened before rather than SHOWING what is happening now, you’ve most likely lost the reader’s interest. Give enough detail to bring the reader up to speed but don’t drown them in facts that may not impact the story at all. It’s an acquired talent and one I’m working hard on.

The same goes for describing the scene. The reader doesn’t need to know the location of every tree on the property and how many birds nest in them. Better yet, paint a mental image of the tree shading the heroine’s window and the light filtering through the leaves. I recently read a drafted story in which the author fully-described everything in the heroine’s kitchen, down to the knives in the drawer. I tried to explain that you might mention the counter as the heroine moved past and picked up a knife from the drawer, but three paragraphs describing everything in the room soon grew tedious and overdone.

4. RUE
Resist the Urge to Explain = RUE. A good writer enables the reader to determine emotions from the text. Michelle Styles gave a wonderful example on her blog. Rather than TELL the reader that your heroine is sad, use descriptive sentences to reflect it. Let the reader assign the emotion. I’m going to use Michelle’s lead. Which would you prefer?

It was Cindy’s birthday and she felt sad.
Or
The date on the calendar mocked Cindy—her birthday, but it seemed like any other day. As she sifted the mail, rifling through unwanted catalogs and advertisements, she hoped for one single personally-addressed envelope holding a card. There were none.

Since I read Michelle’s piece, I'm so much more aware of unnecessary information we add to our stories when our dialogue should show the feeling and eliminate the need to explain what the reader should feel or see.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE:
Excited, Sarah entered the room. She felt tense and nervous at the same time. She needed water to soothe her thirst.
Could be: Sarah burst into the room. (Entered versus burst – using an action verb to show her excitement). Her heart raced, yet her jaw tensed. (showing her tenseness and nervousness). She smacked her lips, hoping for saliva to combat the cottony feel in her mouth. (showing her thirst).

Okay...so I'm not Nora Roberts...I wrote this on the spur of the moment. :) I think you get the message.

5. NAMES
If you have an exchange going on between two people and it is clear to reader, there is no need to continually use the characters name in the dialogue. One must assume the reader is intelligent enough to determine who is speaking to whom with a minimal of hints and tags. Wouldn’t you find this a tad tedious? The concept is taken from something I recently proofread for one publisher:

Jane and Fred sat next to the fire, enjoying their wine. Fred turned to her, with the flames reflecting in his eyes. "Jane, I'm having a wonderful time. Thank you for inviting me."
"Me too, Fred. I'm so glad you came."
"Jane, would you like me to refill your glass?"
"No thank you, Fred. I'm fine. I get giddy if I drink too much."

The same applies for starting every sentence with ‘she/he’. She heard the bell chime can be The bell chimed. She saw the sunset become an artist’s pallet of colors can be The sunset became an artist’s pallet of colors. He or she doesn’t have to identify with everything. Words are better spent describing action to your readers.

I notice this is a trap into which most new writers fall. (See, I didn’t end with a preposition)

6. TENSES (Past, Present, Past imperfect…blah, blah, blah.)

I'm still trying to acclimate to reading things written with 'could see', 'could hear' 'could speak', 'had been missing'. Although I realize it's a style, I've had it beaten into me that 'saw', 'heard', 'spoke', and 'missed' make the story unfold in the moment, and for me are preferred.

Consider, 'she could see his face, even in the dim light. The only sound she could hear was crickets outside the window. If only he could speak the words she longed for. She had been missing him far more than she expected.'

Now consider...She saw his face, even in the dim light. The only sound she heard was the crickets outside the window. If only he spoke those words she longed for. She'd missed him far more than she expected.

Okay...CORNY! Still, I prefer this style when at all possible. I realize that dialogue can be in past tense, but I want to feel my stories happening NOW.

We all write so differently. Each of us have a style or flair that is innately our own. I’m willing to make some changes and concessions during editing, but one thing I will fight for…keeping my own voice. Everyone should. It’s what makes us unique and helps us stand apart from the crowd. The hard thing is trying to convince your editor of that. *lol*

What things have you learned during your editing process, and was this at all helpful? I hope so.

Ginger

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Why Can't Things Be Easy


Aren't computers supposed to simplify our lives? I swear I'm about to chuck mine out the window. First Yahoo sends random messages from people in my address book to either Spam or Trash. I pay $19.99 to Yahoo so I can use my Outlook program, so now I have to actually log into yahoo several times a week so I can check that I'm not overlooking something important. I get to skim all the 'enlarge your penis and clean your colon' ads for actual emails. What a bargain, and all for less than $20 bucks.

I didn't have enough to do, what with watching my grandson, doing laundry, mopping, dusting, and eating myself into oblivion, so I decided to take on paying my Son and DIL'S bills. I absolutely hated their old online bank, and even more, their bill paying system...they didn't pay. *lol* So, they switched banks and brought home the literature. I set up the account with the required pins, answered the security questions, picked my 'safety logo' and settled down to send out some payments.

What do I get? A message that says, "you aren't signed up for billpay." Who in the heck wants online banking without that option? So, of course it's a holiday weekend, so we have to wait to contact someone. Today I get a response to my email in which they tell me that they've now added that convenience to our account. "Well hell, if you'd done it in the first place you'd have saved us both time and bother," I mumble as I log in again. Of course, I'm not on the account, but they don't know I'm the money manager. *lol* So, I settle down again to pay bills.

Can you hear me screaming? This is the error message I get:

The Payee Name entered is invalid.
Please reenter a Payee Name and ensure that the first character is not a * or just a ´ ´.

Now mind you, I only typing in names like Capital One, Citi Financial, etc. And each time I get this message despite making sure the block is free of all characters, alpha or not. You know...search/destroy/start again. Still I get the $@@**ing message. So, I fire off another email and sit and wait. I won't mention the Bank's name, but it's the same color as money and now I know why. They're drowning in it because you can't send it anywhere via your online banking. It's these little annoyances that drive me up the wall.

While I wait, I'm going to send an email to yahoo, once again, and ask them why people I've listed as friends are being trashed while everyone in England, Africa, and the nether regions of the world can notify me that I've won millions in their bogus lottery drawings. There's just no justice.

Have a great day. Mine started out with hair pulling, and I'm sure it's going to end on the same note. They usually do. What happens first usually sets the tone. And gee, it's summer break and now I have Spencer all day, too. Woo Hoo!

Hugs,
Ginger

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Minimize or Maximize

Ladies,
There comes a time in our lives when we need to decide to minimize. We all want to maintain our youthful appearance, but some of the things we do only draws attention of our eligibility for the senior discount at Dennys. I'll give you a few hints:


Minimize the blush. There's nothing attractive about looking like a clown, unless of course you're dating Ronald McDonald.






Minimize the lip liner. You aren't kidding anyone when you try to draw on bigger lips than you actually have. God gave you what you've got. Go with it. Stay away from Botox injections, too. Even less enticing are lips that look like you've been stung by a swarm of angry bees.






Minimize the blue eye shadow. C'mon gal's, it's never been the in thing, and certainly not when smeared on up to your eyebrows. A little bit goes a long way.






Minimize the spandex in your wardrobe. It is not your friend. It shows every flaw in your body. If you have cellulite, spandex screams it out to the world.






Minimize blouses that spotlight your midriff. Unless of course you have a midriff that warrants spotlighting. If you have 'six pack' abs, then that's a different story, but if you have a pony keg, then cover it up. No one wants to see it. Trust me.







Minimize the times you wear Daisy Dukes. Everyone knows that as you age, gravity moves things down. Maybe when you bought those shorts, you butt cheeks were where they were supposed to be, but chances are you're sporting two half moons and the sun is still shining.






Minimize your boobs. There are several brand name brassieres available to help restrain those sagging bosoms. You might have worn a 38DD at one time, but if you're like me, you've graduated to a 40 Long. A minimizing bra can make an amazing difference. Just warn people standing nearby when you prepare to remove it.






If you MUST wear a thong, please wear it wisely. :)






Just a few helpful hints. I've finally decided that Popeye the sailor had the right idea when he said, "I am what I am, and that's all that I am."

If you really want to maximize something...how about making it the times you download or order a book by Ginger Simpson. (Shameless promotion at it's best.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Writing Sarah's Journey


I write western historicals because I love that time period. The old west was raw, hard, and character building. To survive, the people had to have exemplary strength and determination. But, my fascination doesn’t end with the pioneers; I’ve always had an unexplained interest in the history of American Indians, so much so that I wonder if I lived a previous life as one. By writing about them, I can help alter the perception that TV westerns have fostered—that the red man was always the bad guy. In two previous novels, I focused on the customs and traditions of the Lakota Sioux. I tried to portray them as the proud people they were.

I often wonder if readers realize that writing an historical is much more time consuming than say writing a contemporary or suspense. Although the story is fictional, the facts to support history have to be accurate and true. The language has to fit the period as does the dress, and the gadgets available at the time. Back in the 1800s, which is the era of my choice, kids were goats, mothers were Ma, not Mom, and fathers were Pa, not Dad. The idea is not to overwhelm the reader with a history lesson, but pepper the story with facts that relate to the scenes and characters.

In writing my first novel, I had my hero delivering his bride to in a shack in the middle of the prairie. I described her reaction to a rundown house, grass growing through the wooden shutters, a few pieces of splintered furniture. When I described the rooms, I also described a heavy iron stove. My editor was quick to point out that a deserted shack was more likely to have a fireplace and hearth where cooking was performed, and that the abode wasn’t likely to be more than one big room. Thank God, for editors who help us learn our craft. Now, when I write about a room, I put myself back in the time period and see through the hero or heroines eyes what should be there. If there is a question in my mind, I research the object and see exactly when it was invented.

There’s no faster way to lose your credibility as an historical author than to yank your reader out of the story by having written about something that doesn’t fit the time. Imagine my Sarah, dressed in gingham, with her bonnet securely tied under her chin, coming in from the barn, carrying a pail of fresh milk. She sets the heavy container on the floor, and deciding to have some more coffee, pops a cup in the microwave to heat it. WAIT a minute. Something is wrong with this picture, and although I’ve used a very obvious discrepancy in time, you’d be surprised how quickly some historical readers are to pick up on even the slightest faux pas.

Still, despite the extra time and effort required, historical writing is my preference. My heroine in Sarah’s Journey is the kind of person I strive to be. I want her survival strength, determination, and her ability to stand up to people when others are mistreated. I want to right the wrongs of humanity, and if only through becoming Sarah for a brief time, I can show my readers how badly people of half blood were treated and how hard life was in the old west. I can hold up my head, trudge along the Oregon Trail and wonder what looms over the next horizon. Sarah’s Journey is a historical fiction but more so a story about a woman’s struggle to find a new life, deal with disappointment, and handle the realization that she loves a man that no one in the world but she is ready to accept. I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it. It doesn’t have a “traditional ending” but that’s all I’m going to say. *Big Grin*

Spencer Graduated


Spencer's school held a pre-school and kindergarten graduation last night. While I was upstairs planning his wardrobe, he elected to change into a Spider man shirt and short set that I bought at Dollar General. He pitched such a fit when I tried to change him, his Mom said, "Let him wear it. He looks fine."

He might have looked fine, but he paled in comparison to his classmate who wore a white tuxedo. Here's Charles looking like he just climbed out a limousine, and I'm not entirely sure he didn't, and Spencer sitting next to him with a blinking red Spider man insignia on his shoulder. At least he was easy to spot in the crowd.

My son, DIL and I went early, but the gym was already full. We had to sit in the back row, and it wasn't long before it was standing room only. It was cold when we first arrived, but after all the body heat started circulating, it became stifling. Boy, I'd forgotten how uncomfortable those metal seats are after an hour. The woman standing behind me held a baby in her arms, who continually kicked me in the back of the head. I finally turned around and stared at her until she stepped back.

I thought it was adorable when my grandson's class marched by. He was so intent on following the person in front of him, he didn't notice us, but his friends all saw me and yelled, "Hi Nee Nee." I'm everyone's Nee Nee. I only wish people in Tennessee would learn to pronounce it. It's NOT Ninny!

I needn't have worried about Spencer's appearance. The audience was quite an interesting bunch. I saw everything from Daisy Dukes with butt cheeks hanging out, to a formal gown. Since I couldn't hear or see a thing during the entire ceremony, it was nice to have something to entertain me. I came away feeling quite fetching, myself.

When did we start graduating from preschool and kindergarten? Are we taking this achievement thing a little too seriously? Every child received a personalized diploma, then returned to the classroom for various awards there. Although I may not totally agree with the concept at such a young age, I have to tell you that it was heart-warming to see that my developmentally delayed grandson has made such strides toward normalcy. A year ago, he couldn't say more than a handful of unintelligible words, and now he's a chatter box. I only fear that with time passing so quickly, tomorrow he'll be graduating from High School. It seems like just yesterday his dad was in Kindergarten. Time does fly, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

The Age Old Question....Why Did The Chicken...?

DR. PHIL:
The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems before adding 'NEW' problems.


OPRAH:
Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.


GEORGE W. BUSH:
We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know
if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either
against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.


COLIN POWELL:
Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of
the chicken crossing the road...


JOHN KERRY:
Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

PAT BUCHANAN:
To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.




DR SEUSS:
Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.


ERNEST HEMINGWAY:
To die in the rain. Alone.




JERRY FALWELL:
Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth?' That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media white washes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side' . That chicken should not be crossing the road It's as plain and as simple as that.

BARBARA WALTERS:
Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.


JOHN LENNON:
Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.





BILL GATES:
I have just released eChicken2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken. This new platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^(C% ....... reboot.



ALBERT EINSTEIN:
Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the
chicken?




BILL CLINTON:
I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?


AL GORE:
I invented the chicken!





COLONEL SANDERS:
Did I miss one?




DICK CHENEY :
Where's my gun?




AL SHARPTON:
Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Ant and The Grasshopper


Two Different Versions! Two Different Morals!


OLD VERSION: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

-------------------------------------------

MODERN VERSION:


The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, 'It's Not Easy Being Green.'

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, 'We shall overcome.' Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.

Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to! the beginning o f the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients.

The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Chili-Gas Incident

At this moment, I don't know the author of this hilarious piece. I wish I could claim I wrote it, but I didn't. I do know that it provided the best laugh for me that I've had in months. I'm still wiping my eyes and giggling after having read it. If I found out the source, I'll be sure to post the author's name. Have a good chuckle!

I went grocery shopping this weekend, which in hindsight may not have been very wise. You see, the previous evening I had prepared and consumed a massive quantity of my patented 'You're definitely going to $h!t yourself chili. Tasty stuff, albeit hot to the point of being painful, which comes with a written guarantee from me that if you eat it the next day both of your a$$ cheeks WILL fall off.

Here's the thing. I had awakened that morning, and even after two cups of coffee (and all of you know what I mean) nothing happened. No 'Watson's Movement 2'. Despite habanera peppers swimming their way through my intestinal tract, I appeared to be unable to create the usual morning symphony referred to by my next door neighbors as thunder and lightning.

Knowing that a time of reckoning had to come, yet not sure of just when, I bravely set off for the Wal-Mart grocery store for some tasty breakfast and lunch tidbits.

Upon entering the store at first all seemed normal. I selected a cart and began pushing it about dropping items in for purchase. It wasn't until I was at the opposite end of the store from the restrooms that the pain hit me. Oh, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm referring to that 'Uh oh, gotta go' pain that always seems to hit us at the wrong time. The thing is, this pain was different.

The habaneras in the chili from the night before were staging a revolt. In a mad rush for freedom they bullied their way through the small intestines, forcing their way into the large intestines, and before I could take one step in the direction of the restrooms which would bring sweet relief, it happened. The peppers fired a warning shot.

There I stood, alone in the spice and baking aisle, suddenly enveloped in a noxious cloud the likes of which has never before been recorded. I was afraid to move for fear that more of this vile odor might escape me.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the pressure seemed to leave the lower part of my body, and I began to move up the aisle and out of it, just as an elderly woman turned into it.

I don't know what made me do it, but I stopped to see what her reaction would be to the invisible but odorous cloud that refused to dissipate, as she walked into it unsuspecting. Have you ever been torn in two different directions emotionally? Here's what I mean, and I'm sure some of you at least will be able to relate.

I could've warned that poor woman but didn't. I simply watched as she walked into an invisible, and apparently indestructible, wall of odor so terrible that all she could do before gathering her senses and running, was to stand there blinking and waving her arms about her head as though trying to ward off angry bees. This, of course, made me feel terrible, but then made me laugh. Mistake.

Here's the thing. When you laugh, it's hard to keep things 'clamped down', if you know what I mean. With each new guffaw an explosive issue burst forth from my nether region. Some were so loud and echoing that I was later told a few folks in other aisles had ducked, fearing that someone was robbing the store and firing off a shotgun.

Suddenly things were no longer funny. IT was coming, and I raced off through the store towards the restrooms, laying down a cloud the whole way, praying that I'd make it before the grand mal assplosion took place.

Luck was on my side. Just in the nick of time I got to the john, began the inevitable 'Oh my God', floating above the toilet seat because my ass is burning SO BAD, purging. One poor fellow walked in while I was in the middle of what is the true meaning of 'Shock and Awe'. He made a gagging sound, and disgustedly said, 'Sonofabitch!', then quickly left.

Once finished I left the restroom, reacquired my partially filled cart intending to carry on with my shopping when a store employee approached me and said, 'Sir, you might want to step outside for a few minutes. It appears some prankster set off a stink bomb in the store. The manager is going to run the vent fans on high for a minute or two which ought to take care of the problem.

That of course set me off again, causing residual gases to escape me.

The employee took one sniff, jumped back pulling his shirt up to cover his nose and, pointing at me in an accusing manner shouted, 'IT'S YOU!', then ran off returning moments later with the manager. I was unceremoniously escorted from the premises and asked none too kindly not to return.

Home again without having shopped, I realized that there was nothing to eat but leftover chili, so I consumed two more bowls. The next day I went to shop at Kroger's. I can't say anymore about that because we are in court over the whole matter. Bastards claim they're going to have to repaint the store.


Note: Kudos to whoever wrote this. Hilarious!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Importance of Book Covers

The poll is closed and twenty-nine people answered the question: How important is a book cover in helping you decide your book purchases?

Five said it's EXCEPTIONALLY important.
Thirteen say the cover is SOMEWHAT important.
Two state a cover is NOT AT ALL important to them.
Seven are more interest in the BACK BLURB.
and two are more impressed by the FAMILIARITY OF THE AUTHOR.

So, although the votes don't compare to the millions who call in for American Idol, it gives you a little insight into how readers decide what's important when they select a book.

So, for those of you who believe the cover is somewhat or exceptionally important...here's my latest. I like it. It would make me pick it up. *lol*

Friday, May 16, 2008

To Lift or Not to Lift - That is the Question

Quite Often I've pondered what I would do if I had excess money. Would I invest it in a face lift and try to get rid of the wrinkles that have crept around my eyes, or the pleats that have invaded the space between my lips and nose. Would I try to have a surgeon move some of the fat from my hips back into my neck to tighten up that sagging skin that makes me look like one of those wrinkly Shar-Pei dogs?

I've been looking at celebrities who've had them, and I've definitely decided against doing anything to interfere with nature. After seeing Joan Rivers recently, who is looking more and more like an oriental Michael Jackson, I've decided to let time takes it course. I offer the following pictures to support my decision:



Can you recognize Joan Van Ark?


Whew! What is with the puffy lips that seem to be all the rage these days?

























































I REST MY CASE!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Erotica Craze

Are historicals really dead as comments on the internet would have me believe? I truly wonder since most of the excerpt postings on various promotional loops involve heavy sexual content. I imagine I might find some degree of success if I wrote an erotica historical that included a pioneer woman having sex with an alien from Planet Jackoff. But that's not me. I'm just not into BDSM, alien/human, male/male, or female/female romance, and I can't pretend I am.

I tried my hand at writing Erotica. Searchers, offered by Whiskey Creek Press' Torrid line, was my debut/swan song because I'm not comfortable writing in that genre. It took me the longest time to finish that one book because of having to come up with new and inventive ways to describe genitalia, what to do with it, and where to put it. Honestly, I'm just not that creative when it comes to sex. I envy those who are because that seems to be where the money is. But even if I could triple my royalties (and that's not saying a lot), I would probably still write what I know and feel comfortable with--good old romance that leaves something to the imagination.

I guess the easiest way to sum up why I'll never be a successful erotica writer is because of my outlook. Here's an excerpt from Life is a Bowl of Toilets and I Feel Flush that sort of sums it up:


I tried to be a sexual being, but it just doesn't work for me. I think sexuality was the main reason for my first divorce. My sex drive just wasn't compatible with my then husband. If you compared us to automobiles, he was a Ferrari and I was a Volkswagen beetle.

In the beginning of my second marriage, I couldn't keep my hands off my new husband, but that was short-lived. He reminds me of it often, and I, in turn, remind him I provided him with some great memories.

Part of my problem is finding it hard to be sexy when I don't feel good about my body, and I can't recall a time when I ever did. I discovered Victoria's Secret early on, but remember, I don't fit into anything she sells. Some secret! Besides, thongs aren't my thing. I can't even stand when I get a 'wedgie." There are some pieces of clothing that overweight women shouldn't even consider, if for no other reason than common courtesy to your spouse.

(Note: This is not verbatim as the editing on this book sucked.)

Here's a little joke to brighten your day:

Ethel and Mabel, two elderly widows, were watching folks pass by their park bench. Ethel said, “You know Mabel, I have been reading this ‘sex and marriage’ book and all they talk about is mutual orgasm. Mutual orgasm here, mutual orgasm there.—that’s all they talk about. Tell me, Mabel, when your husband was alive, did you two ever have
mutual orgasm?”
Mabel thought for a long while. Finally, she shook her head and said, “No…I'm pretty sure we had State Farm.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ghost Writers

As someone who sits down daily and tries to plunk out a least a few paragraphs of a work-in-progress, I'm highly annoyed at the publicity and fame many have enjoyed because of the talents of their ghost writer. I'm not sure I understand how there can be any feeling of accomplishment on the part of the so-called author, when the closest they came to creating the novel was verbally relaying information to someone else. But let's face it, you can't live on pride alone.

From the monetary perspective, I think I chose the wrong profession. I should have tried my hand at ghost-writing. According to Wikipedia, although some ghost writers are hired to polish a completed manuscript, most are hired to write the entire novel. Information garnered as I read made me nauseous. It's reported that ghost writers for 'big name authors' contracted by NY publishers receive anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 from the 'author's' advance. At the time the information was compiled, Hilary Clinton's memoirs had not yet been completed, but it was estimated that her ghost writer would receive $500,000 from Hilary's eight million dollar advance. Cough, gasp, vomit! What about her life is memorable enough to warrant eight million dollars when people are starving to death in America???

Barak Obama used a ghost writer to pen his novel, too. It makes me wonder if either he or Hilary become president, will they be able to sign necessary documents in the oval office, or will they have someone do it for them? *lol*

I had no idea how many people are taking bows for someone else's writing. Did you know that the pseudonym used on the Nancy Drew Mysteries represents a slew of different ghost-writers who, following a similar format or template, penned the various books? I didn't, and in my opinion, that's just depressing. I pictured one person pumping out the series that has enthralled young people around the world. I guess you never know who really wrote the books you've read unless someone in small print they receive recognition. I guess I'll have to pay more attention.

Make sure you note I gave Wikipedia full credit for this information. Cassie Edwards suffered terribly for utilizing 'research' statements in her books. I sure don't want to be accused of plagiarizing anything. Seems silly doesn't it. You use one person's sentence verbatim and you stole it, but someone else can write a person's entire book and the so-called author can take credit. Duh uh!

How do you feel about ghost writers? Does knowing that a book was written by someone other than the person claiming to be the author affect your desire to purchase and read said book? I wonder how these 'authors' can sit on talk shows and discuss "their" books. I guess I'm missing the point. The biggest joy of being an author for me is knowing that I DID the work, but it seems in order to reap BIG rewards or appear on Oprah, you have to let someone else do thejob for you. How sad is that?

The older I get, the less things make sense to me. Now I hear people have ghost-bloggers. Oh, give me a break.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

MY SON'S MOTHER'S DAY TRIBUTE ON HIS BLOG

Mother’s Day...
I would like to take a minute to give thanks to my mom on Mother's Day.

My mom is fantastic. She's probably better than your mom. As a matter of fact, unless she royally f**s up between now and the time one of us dies, I'm pretty sure she's going to win the "Best Mom Ever" award.

A lot of people would take this opportunity to brag about all of the great things that their moms have done, but my mom taught me the art of taking something negative and making it a positive. So, I will now brag about a few things that my mom DIDN'T do…and I am pretty sure it will make the case for her awesomeness.

1. When she was frustrated with me as a baby, she didn't shake me so hard that my brain stem or spinal cord was damaged in a permanent fashion. She shook me just the right amount. And you need to understand something…this was the sixties, man. They didn't have those fancy doctorin' machines like they do today…the ones that prove that you shook your baby to death. She totally could have killed me and got away with it. But she didn't…two thumbs up for not killing me, mom!

2. If she ever touched my butt**** or my weiner, there was a damn good reason. You think that's not important? Well, check it out…I know a guy whose mom touched his business in a "bad" way and that dude is real screwed up now.

3. Once, when I was about seven, some lady cut my mom off and took her parking space. My mom pulled that b***h out of her window by the hair and proceeded to beat the ever-loving **** out of her…but dig this – When my mom returned to our car, she didn't lie and tell me that violence never solves anything.

4. My mom knew that my attention span was short. She didn't waste both of our time by trying to teach long, drawn out lessons…she slapped me and screamed, "No!"

5. My mom never lied and told me that I was special and that I could do anything I wanted. She was calling me an idiot and a jerk way before it became so popular.

6. Ever worried about the economy, she didn't stop smoking and drinking while pregnant with me.

7. When I threatened to run away at the age of four, she didn't make me feel guilty by crying and begging me to stay. She packed my suitcase.

8. She never made me look like a mama's boy by driving me the five miles to school in the rain.

9. When the teacher inquired about my bruises, my mom never told me to lie and say, "I fell down." She told me to tell the truth. Adding, "Maybe they will give you to some family who likes you."

And most importantly, she would never read something like this and not laugh.

My mom is my pal. I got this sense of humor from her.

I love you, mom!

NOTE FROM GINGER: He always makes me laugh, even when he involves me in his weird memories. I can't fault him for his creative ability, and just to prove I'm as warped as he is, here is the response I posted on his blog entry:

Son,
I have to make this quick. Thanks for honoring me on your blog, but I have to go now. Evidently more people read your ramblings than you know. The people from Child Protective Services are here and trying to cuff me while I type. Seems there is no statute of limitations on child abuse and they just don't get your weird sense of humor. Guess I'll be having dinner in some lowly Tennessee jail tonight. How can I thank you?

Love,
Mom

I copied this from my son's blog, but cleaned it up a bit with *s. If you'd like to read more from him, I warn you, he can sometimes be graphic, but always creative and entertaining. Click here to see more Skid's Blog

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ending Comment Contest for Sparta Rose

ESTELLA KISSELL!

Congratulations, Estella, you've won a free download of my new release, Sarah's Journey, plus an autographed postcard to go along with it. Please email me at mizging2003@yahoo.com to claim your prizes.

I'd like to thank everyone who played and left comments. You are so appreciated. I hope the rest of you will be so intrigued about the ending to Sarah's story that you'll purchase your own copy from Eternal Press .

I'll be holding another contest soon for a free download of Sparta Rose. It should be out next month. In July, I'm anticipating that Embezzled Love will be available as a prize.

Again, thanks for dropping by, and keep coming back. :)

Ging

Stimulus Checks???

Everyone is excited about the check coming from the government...the ones that are supposed to stimulate the economy and make things 'okey dokey'. Well, I'm a little perturbed and here's why:

Years ago, my son had a romantic encounter with a girl he'd previously broken up with, yet she continued to show up at all hours of the night to offer up her wares. What seventeen-year-old male can say no? Despite my warning that she might be trying to trap him, he evidently considered himself exempt... at least until she and her mother appeared on our doorstep announcing impending motherhood.

To make a long painful story short, he became a father because she told him he was, and put his name on the birth certificate. We didn't have money for an attorney at the time so we didn't challenge her claim, in fact welcomed the baby into our family and tried to place nice. My son had turned eighteen when the baby was born, and recently out of high school, couldn't support himself, let alone another person. I stepped in and did my best, even when her own parents insisted she move out, live in government subsidized housing and collect food stamps. I spent countless dollars on food, clothing and diapers, but it was never appreciated. I felt welcome as a grandparent only at Christmas and birthdays, and then, not really.

Everything she collected went on my son's tab, and despite paying a small sum monthly, he soon owed in the thousands--eighteen to be exact. His present wife accepted him with excess baggage and tried to welcome the daughter into her home, but ex-girlfriend, bitter and jealous, refused to let my son play a part in the child's But, every income tax time, despite paying monthly support for a daughter he doesn't even know, he gets no return from the government as the State of California claims it all.

He and his wife just received their stimulus check. Guess what? I guess the State of California needed to stimulate their own economy, because they took over half of it. How is that helping a hard-working parent to recover in these stressful times? I'm all for people taking responsibility and I feel my son has done more than his share for a child that he'll never be allowed to know or see. Or sure, you can get fight for your rights, but that takes an attorney and lots of money. We couldn't afford one then and we can't now. He'll never be out of debt unless he takes out a personal loan and pays the state because the interest accumulates faster than he can pay it.

I'm like a mother bear when you mess with one of my cubs. I think the reason this whole thing pisses me off is that there are deadbeat dads out there who don't pay a cent and get off easy. I wish things had turned out different, but it's hard to be a grandmother when the child doesn't even acknowledge my son as her father. I gave up when I was invited to her birthday party and he was purposely left out. It saddens me to think that my blood may well run through the veins of a little girl that I really wanted to cherish. I can't believe she's already fourteen.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What a Hoot!

Today in the mail, I received a flimsy envelope from Reader's Digest... you know, one of those that you tear off the edges and unfold. I almost threw it away, but I decided to open it. Inside was a note, "Thank you for your contribution, which will appear in an upcoming issue..." Also included, a check for $100.00! *Woot*

I can't even remember when I submitted a joke to them, although I do recall doing it. I have no idea what the joke was, so you'll have to wait until it appears to see if it was worth the money. Anyhow, I'm planning a relaxing pedicure because I deserve it.

I may have found a new pastime, submitting jokes. This amount surpassed by last royalty check by a mile... no make that ten miles. How sad is that? Did I mention that I have three new releases coming out???? *lol*

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sharing Opinions on Ebooks

A few days ago, I talked a little about ebooks and the effect of the economy on that industry. I solicited a few friends on various loops, asking for their opinions on the topic, and also asked them to share any information they wished on hand-held readers. There are a wide variety available, and hopefully they'll grow in popularity. If only their sales would increase to match the popularity of IPOD and MPG players, on which people download music, I think more and more people would see the advantage of downloading books. Remember the song, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy?" Think, "Save a tree, read an ebook." *VBG*

Here are some of the comments I receive. If I get more, I will share them on another blogging day:

1. As a concerned citizen of Mother Earth, I appreciate the fact that eBooks are a more eco-friendly solution to my voracious appetite for books than the traditional mass market offers. I highly recommend that anyone interested in reducing their impact on the environment consider trying eBooks as one of many alternatives.
--Lisa Logan, multi-published author, editor, and founder of the Green Writing Challenge
Squiddoo.com/greenwriter
Lisa Logan

2. I believe E-books are the future in the publishing world.There's something to be said about not having to fight crowds to shop, but instead, you remain in the comfort of your own home and download the books to read. Plus, if your eyesight is getting weak, it's so much easier to see the words. Most of all, I love the idea of saving trees. Wouldn't it be nice if Earth was known as the 'Happy Green Planet?'
Tabitha Shay

3. I agree that more people will be going to ebooks, but until I can afford an ebook reader I will stick to the print books. I am an avid reader and spends a lot on books. This comment was left on my blog by Joan. Thank you, for your input. I love people who leave comments. :)

4. I'm a huge fan of ebooks and ereaders/ereading. What I like about ebooks:

Instant gratification downloading. You want it now, you get it now. Even beats next day shipping and...I don't have to find room for it on my already crowded ookshelves.
Price of ebook is usually cheaper and there are a lot of legal, free downloads out there (at Baen books and Project Gutenberg). Even the heaviest reader is lighter than most print books (or equal in weight to a single paperback). I'm a fast reader, so love having choice and volume when I'm stuck somewhere.

I own two readers (possibly three when Apple gets the iPhone in line with ereading software). I own a Sony Reader and an Ebookwise. I also had a Palm Treo that just died.

The Sony Reader is amazing. The screen is so crisp, I forget I'm not reading a paper book and reach up to turn the page. It's light weight and sassy. I have 84 books loaded onto it right now. I can organize the books into collections, and it keeps track of my place in multiple books. When I turn it on, reminds me which book I was reading when I shut down. It is possible to jump around in a book with the SR, but I haven't got that function figured out that well. Downloading is easy and done through a computer. My son has used it for in tub reading by tucking it in a zip lock bag.

The Ebookwise is also dear to me. The screen isn't as crisp, more like reading on a computer screen, but the text sizes quickly and easily and I can jump around in the book very easily. No learning curve. Downloading is quick and easy--can be done on the computer or through a phone line.

I've also been known to read on my desktop and laptop, using Mobipocket Reader and Adobe Digital Editions (not my favorite because I can't upload them to my SR, even though it will read pdfs.).

Basically, I check FIRST for a digital edition of a book, then decide whether I want to mess with a print book.
Pauline Baird Jones

5. I love ebooks. I read them on my Dell PDA at night in bed or during blackouts. LOL. In the day time, I read paperbacks in my hot tub. If I have an appointment I take my PDA with me and read it in the waiting room.

I think I like reading ebooks best. I'm not into clutter and shelves or stacks books gathering dust.
Ashlyn Chase

6. I have a love hate relationship with ebooks!!! I own a Palm PDA and do not love reading ebooks on it although I do when I travel if I don't have my laptop with me... I read ebooks on either my PS or laptop and am fine with that. Hehehe I find I can multi task while I'm reading on the computer...you should see how many windows I
have opened at one time on my system...

For me, ebooks will never completely replace the printed book...there is still something to be said for holding the "real" book in your hands...the feel, the smell...whatever it is. BUT ebooks are convenient and do require a WHOLE lot less space to store. I generally trade away most paper books because I don't have the room to keep them. An ebook I can keep forever (as long as I back up my harddrive...).

And this brings me to my next point...this one an author may not like but for a reader I think you will understand. A print book holds more value as I can trade it for another book when I am through, so if I pay $6.99 for a new book I can get most of it's value back by trading it with someone for another book. If I pay the same $6.99 for the book in an ebook format, that is it... I can't trade it, loan it to someone or do anything with it but store it. The majority of books I read I will
never read again (there are just too many new books coming out constantly to have time to reread one). I am more likely to try a new author or different genre by getting a used book then I am to pay full price for a book I'm not certain of.
This comment was supplied by Stevi.

NOTE FROM ME: Stevi, I appreciate your candid opinion. I used to be a frequent flyer at the local used book store. My mother uses one weekly and is not open to the idea of reading anything but good old paperbacks. She's that 'old dog' you keep hearing about who doesn't want to learn any new tricks. It's nice to have options. :)

7. I don't have a website, blog or myspace, but I thought I'd put my 2 cents in.I love the convenience of ebooks. buying an ebook means I can read it immediately even if it's 2 am.I live 25 miles from the nearest Walden books and with gas prices the way they are, it's easier and cheaper to read ebooks. Also I get a much larger variety of books that way. I love paranormal romances, and there is much more to choose from on the internet. The only problem I see is the chance of losing all your ebooks if your computer crashes, but I have an external hard drive that I save all my books, music and important documents to.

I have an ebook reader that I use all the time. It's an Ebookwise. I love it. The Sony and Kindle ebook readers are great, but the Ebookwise is much more affordable. You can get one from ebay for $124.00. It doesn't take long to charge and it has a backlight. You can also buy larger memory cards. The ebookwise website has a page where you can add personal content to your bookshelf. It won't read PDF files, but I save my pdf files to text and then use the personal content page to add the books. There are alot of public domain books available for free.I've includes a link to the ebay site. I've bought 2 from him and would recommend
him to anyone.also Here is a link to the Ebookwise info page. - Submitted by Charlene Coyle. (Thank you for your input, Char.)
Ebay Link

8. First let me tell you that my friends and I love ebook and our readers. I have not only the older Sony Reader but also the eReader that I purchased from eBookwise.com. I love them both. Two of my ex co-workers both have the Sony Reader and love it. (I decided to take an early retirement)

I have over 100 ebooks AND the most recent one that I purchased was The Countess Takes A Lover by Bonnie Dee. I find myself buying ebooks from blurbs that authors post on a couple of yahoo groups that I belong to.

I go in spurts using my readers.....I usually take one of my two readers when I go on vacation or for long rides. I love it when going on vacation I don't have to worry about did I pack enough books and I have more space in my luggage to bring home souvenirs.

My only problem is --- I wish both readers would take PDF formats....I have to convert PDF books to Rich Text format in order to read them on either reader.

I think with Amazon coming out with the Kindle that it has increase the interest in the this market. I received an email the other day and it looks like the next iPhone that comes out you will be able to download books on them. I'm so excited.
Danielle

9. I’ve always been a believer, if you can save paper (a tree) then do it! An interesting thing I will share; I went to the health food store here in Helena, Montana, and asked the clerk if she liked reading ‘suspense’ or ‘Indian historicals.’ Since she said yes, I handed her a postcard and a couple business cards (with my book cover on one side … to share with her friends). I told her they were ‘e-book’s, therefore, saving a tree or two! She was delighted! Asked if she could have postcards to post on the bulleting board.
Rita Karnopp

10. I get very frustrated with people when they insist on saying, "I hate reading on my computer." But what are they doing while answering their emails or writing letters etc? I haven't read a paper book in so long I've forgotten the last time I did. I still buy my own books in print because I have relatives who refuse to own a computer (Strange people!) and some friends who belong to the group mentioned above. How much simpler can it be than to log on any time day or night, go to your favorite ebook seller, be it the publisher or fictionwise etc, and choose a book that can be on your computer in just the format you need within minutes?
I have an ebookwise reader and after my computer, it is my most treasured possession. I buy my ebooks in text format so I can enlarge the print as much as I like before I transfer it to my reader, have a back light so there's no need to have a bright light overhead, can carry as many books around with me as I please when I travel. All this for a very reasonable cost.
Love ebooks and my only concern and complaint is that here in Australia I can't seem to find an ebook reader distributor and had to rely on an American friend to buy my ebookwise reader for me and ship it over.
Tricia McGill

11. In my opinion, the great achievement of Ebooks is that they've opened up opportunity for both readers and authors. I have been accepted and published within 6 months, an achievement I'd never have made with traditional print routes.

I read many more ebooks than print now, too. The advantages to me are that they are quick and easy and flexible. I don't have a PDA but read on computer screen. This suits me at work in lunch hours, and at my laptop when I want to be distracted! I can dip in and out at whim. They're cheap, immediately available and don't take up half my lounge in shelf space.

The other huge advantage I see is that it's opened up the erotica markets in which I personally write. I doubt that readers' tastes have changed over the years, but their ability to access more edgy/controversial/niche material has. So has the opportunity for authors in these markets. You can download an erotica book in seconds, in complete privacy and without being embarrassed in the middle of a bookstore by a cover that's often very explicit!

To me, the DISadvantage is the other side of the Advantages coin: the range of fiction is still relatively limited, many people don't want to or can't spend long periods of time reading from a screen, and the quantity of new authors quickly and readily available isn't always a measure of quality.

In conclusion, I see ebooks still as another option rather than an alternative. Maybe they always will be. But anything that brings more books into the market and encourages more reading has to be a good thing!
Clare London


Whew! That was quite a great response. Don't discredit responses because the person happens to be an author. Like me, I'm sure they were readers long before they started to write. Please check out each link and meet a new friend. If I receive more responses, I'll certainly share them in another blog. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Oh, by the way, I have a Franklin ebook reader, and I love it. I take whenever I know I'm going to be sitting with nothing to do. Besides reading, I can also jot down ideas for new stories that might pop into my mind. I love showing it to people who haven't a clue all the things it can do. It doesn't just read ebooks, it's my calendar, address book, my 'to do' list, and I can also download the daily news if I feel the need to be more depressed. *lol*

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