Saturday, February 28, 2009

Historical Facts

Even with all the economical woes and problems we face at the moment, take a minute and think what it must have been like back in the 1800s to be a woman. I love historical fiction set in the old west, but I often pause and wonder how I would have handled the challenges women of that era tackled.

Imagine your kitchen without all the conveniences you've become used to. No stove, no refrigerator, no microwave, no garbage disposal, no running water, probably not even one quarter of the little gadgets you find so very useful.

Settlers often lived miles from the nearest town. Trips to shop often required an entire day of travel. The going was slow in a buckboard or wagon, and certainly not as comfortable as a ride to Walmart in a comfortable sedan. I prefer a Lexus myself. *lol*

Mail Order Brides were considered a legitimate way for men to meet and marry. I can't imagine traveling for weeks on a wagon train to meet and wed a man I've never laid eyes on. I can only assume many women were disappointed to see what they'd signed on for. Photographs, or tintypes as they were called, often didn't portray a clear likeness. I suppose you could equate that to meeting someone online who posted a picture taken twenty years ago. :)

Then there was childbirth. No drugs, and most often, no doctor. Just another woman who'd had children of her own or someone dubbed the area midwife. Even when a doctor was available, the profession was dominated by men, and that added to the discomfort of the prim and proper western women. The common position for delivery was back to the doctor with knees drawn up to avoid any eye contact.

I think given the challenges of being a pioneer woman and surviving past the age of forty-five due to child-bearing risks and diseases of other sorts, I elect to stay where I am. I can't imagine using a rag instead of a mini-pad, not having my hair dryer and curling iron, or even though I hate them, missing my annual screening exam. I had an emergency cesarean with my second child, and if I had given birth to him in the 1800s, we would probably both have died. So...even as much as I think things suck right now because of the economy and stupid political decisions...I'll take today anytime!

Pioneer women really had to have stamina. They cooked, cleaned, plowed, milked, gathered eggs, bore many children and if the elements and diseases didn't get them, marauding Indians often did. Yes, ladies. We have it easy these days compared to women of the old west.

To give you an idea of what one woman's experience was in the 1800s, here's an excerpt from my first historical romance, Prairie Peace, and to set the scene...Cecile has just been delivered to the 'ranch' her new husband bragged about. She's come from being an only child of the local banker and his wife to now having to become a pioneer wife:

Excerpt:

When Cecile first ventured into the house, she wanted to die right on the spot. Her first impression was that the floor was dirt, but upon further examination she found wood beneath the filth. Dust and debris sifted in through the crooked shutters and layered the plank flooring. The entire structure consisted of one big room, complete with a rustic-looking bed frame and a mattress that sagged almost to the floor. The main living area had a large stone fireplace and hearth in the corner, and the kitchen area consisted of a table holding a chipped water pitcher and bowl. Nearby, a cracked mirror hung from a rusted nail.

In contrast to the large windows in her Silver City home, directly over the table was one the size of a medium picture-frame. The grass outside had gotten so tall it crept through the crookedly cut, ill fitting shutter. She had no desire to open it for fear of the critters that might scurry inside.

It was apparent why the previous occupants had left behind the odds and ends of furniture. The table and bench were made out of wood so rough Cecile imagined picking splinters from her behind if she sat. A chair with a broken rocker rested in the corner next to the fireplace, and beside it was an old crate where a rusty lantern perched precariously, most likely to provide light for anyone brave enough to risk the broken chair.

What had she done to herself? She pictured her mother’s living room with its matching furniture and crisp pleated draperies and fought hard to hold back tears.
Her mother had never really prepared Cecile for being a wife or housekeeper, requiring she only do minimal chores around the house. She surveyed the challenge set before her. This was going to be a learning experience she‘d have to endure on her own. Her days of being spoiled and pampered had ended.

She took a deep breath and dug in, trying to wash away the accumulated dust and grime. What she hated most was dealing with the various prairie creatures that thought this was their home. “Oh dear…I hate spiders,” she proclaimed as one skittered across the floor.

Wiping a trickle of sweat from her forehead, she glanced around the room for something to shuttle the insects outside, and spied an ancient broom in the corner by the fireplace. Although it had lost most of its straw, there was still enough left to use. Looking at the dirt and grime around her, she wondered why the broom looked so worn. How long had it been since anyone used it?

The floor had dried and warped with age, and the cracks between the planks had widened to reveal the ground below. Cecile vigorously swept several times, trying to get some of the dirt and dust to fall through. When she finished, she wore most of it.

Tossing the broom across the room in disgust, she peered at herself through the cracks in the mirror, barely recognizing the reflection staring back. Her hair hung in unruly strands around her face, and her complexion was gray from the coat of dust. She emitted a loud sigh as the looking glass revealed the sagging and dirty mattress behind her. Who or what had slept there before? Clearly, the bedding needed a thorough beating and airing out, and it was her glorious job to do it.

The tears welled again. She prodded herself to stay busy, believing work would keep her from dwelling on her disappointment. With great effort, she dragged the mattress outside, and for some reason, every whack of the broom against the old tattered thing made her feel better.

She struggled to get it back into the house and onto the bed frame. She refused to call Walt for help because he was busy outside, cleaning the yard and hauling junk from within their poor excuse of a barn. Silly emotions and false pride were not about to get the best of her. She wanted Walt to be proud of her, and she was determined to make the best of this, even if it killed her. Besides, she was tired of sleeping on the hard ground with nothing but a thin blanket between her and the dirt. Even this ugly mattress had some degree of appeal. As soon as they moved into the house, she’d cover it with the blankets from the bedroll and bring in the pillows still stowed in the wagon. Using the barn as shelter left her worrying the whole thing would fall down and crush them to death in their sleep. So many boards were missing from the walls, she was amazed it remained standing at all.

At the end of the day, both she and Walt were so tired, it mattered little where they slept. Cuddled together on the barn floor, Cecile nestled in the crook of her husband’s arm, and managed only a goodnight kiss before she drifted off.

Sun streaming through the cracks in the barn and shining in her eyes woke her. Walt was already up, and Cecile smelled coffee. She hauled her aching body off the ground, stood and stretched into a growing yawn. Another day of work lay ahead, but she thought of all she had accomplished over the past days. In the eyes of some it might not amount to much, but she'd done the best she could. At least the house smelled of soap and was as dust-free as she could manage. Now it was ready for the few belongings she’d brought along. Later they would acquire material for curtains, and hopefully some better furniture, but for the time being, the few knickknacks in the wagon would make it look homier. She wrinkled her nose at the thought. Homier? Was that even possible? She followed her nose, searching for a cup of strong coffee to see her through the day. She joined her husband outside for a scant breakfast and a breath of fresh air. She had to admit that a prairie morning was much more peaceful than the bustling streets of Silver City.

“Where do you want this?” Walt asked, following her into the house, with her trunk.

“Just set it next to the bed for now.”

While he tripped in and out, carrying her settee and small bedroom table and lamp, Cecile moved them from place to place, trying to find where they fit. They looked so out of place Cecile almost wished he had left them in the wagon. Such pristine objects for a shack.

Somehow, though a mystery to her, Walt still beamed with pride over this place. Luckily, he hadn’t detected her disappointment. He walked in the door with another box, and at that moment, looking into his eyes, she forgot her surroundings and recalled the feeling of being in his arms. Tonight, they‘d sleep in the house, and christen the old bed. Suddenly she felt much better about things.

_____________________

Aren't you feeling lucky about now?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fiction - Newest Review


I'm so thrilled with the peer review I received from fellow author, Lisabet Sarai. It's very touching that someone who writes so distinctively different than I picked my book to read, and the best part of her review is that she totally GOT the story and characters. I cannot tell you what a wonderful feeling that is.


Reviewed by Lisabet Sarai

Seventeen year old Ellie Fountain hates being a girl. She is sure that her father would have preferred having a son to help him run the family ranch, Fountainhead, perched in the beautiful Cumberland Hills above the town of Sparta, Tennessee. Ellie can’t even remember her mother, who died when she was an infant. Her dad is all she has, and she wants to prove to him that she is as capable as any man.

However, Tyler Bishop, the ranch foreman, keeps interfering with her goal. Ty is her father’s favorite, monopolizing her dad’s attention and admiration. Ellie suspects that Ty is scheming to steal her birthright by ingratiating himself with her father. Even if his intentions are honest, he doesn’t take her seriously, viewing her as “just a girl” despite the fact that she has grown up in the saddle and can ride, rope and handle a shotgun as well as any of the ranch hands.

Ben Fountain needs all the help he can get. Newcomer Dude Bryant and his twin sons, Jeb and Joshua, are putting pressure on him and the other locals to sell their land. When persuasion isn’t sufficient, the Bryants appear quite willing to use intimidation and other unsavory tactics. Secretly, Ellie buys herself a pistol and teaches herself to use it, in order to assist in defending Fountainhead. When Ty and her father discover her ambitions, though, her father scolds her and Ty belittles her.

Despite his dismissive behavior, Ellie can’t stop thinking about Ty. The feelings that he evokes are puzzling, disturbing and thrilling, even though the two of them spend most of their time in each other’s presence arguing. When her father convinces Ty to invite Ellie to the annual harvest dance down in Sparta, Ellie’s excitement at the prospect of being close to Ty overwhelms her annoyance at her father’s meddling. The night of the dance begins as a romantic idyll. However, misunderstandings between Ellie and Ty make her vulnerable to the evil plans of Jeb Bryant.

I greatly enjoyed reading Sparta Rose. Ellie is a fabulous character, distinctive and believable. She’s brash and funny, sometimes silly, sometimes strong. Her conflicting emotions and volatile moods fit in well with her tender age. Ms. Simpson does an excellent job showing us her growing maturity in the face of danger and blossoming love.

I loved Tyler, too. He’s not the perfect, stereotyped romance hero. Sure, he’s handsome and capable, but he’s almost as confused and vulnerable as Ellie. He’s constantly putting his foot in his mouth and making her angry. The author doesn’t tell us how old Ty is, but he’s obviously pretty young and inexperienced himself, especially when it comes to women.

These two characters really carry the novel. Their banter comes alive on the pages. They reminded me a bit of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Their sharp words never completely hide their tender feelings for each other.

The plot of this novel somewhat predictable. Jeb Bryant is portrayed as such a thorough villain, you know right away that he’s going to do something extremely nasty. On the other hand, I didn’t completely anticipate the resolution. Ms. Simpson gives us a happy ending par excellence, with the wicked punished and the good rewarded.

Sparta Rose is a sweet romance. There are some intense kisses, and some lustful feelings, but nothing more explicit. I tend to write much more graphic romance myself, but I was not disappointed at all by the lack of sex in this novel. It fit with the main characters, both of whom were new to love.

If you like sweet romance with a western flavor, I highly recommend Sparta Rose. The cover is a perfect image of Ellie: slender and feminine, strong and proud, loving and defending her Tennessee home.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday's Tourist

Today, I'm quoting from a special website of interest with permission from Jene Aviram.

As a grandmother of a child challenged with global developmental delays with autistic tendencies, I'm always searching the Internet for information and assistance. So many children are being diagnosed, yet there is little help available at the time the diagnosis is made. It's almost like you've been given a life sentence for the child with no hope for parole. I'm so happy that people like Jene are making a difference for those of us who feel so lost.

The following was written by Ms. Aviram at Natural Learning Concepts:


FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO A PARENT WHOSE CHILD HAS AUTISM

If your child has autism then you’re a walking target for friends, relatives and even strangers to offer unsolicited advice. You realize they have good intentions but it’s still a very hurtful experience. We’ve compiled a list of common mistakes that people make. When talking to parents whose children have autism, here are five things you should never say.

1. Autism does NOT mean deaf

You’re chatting to your friend and you notice her child engaging in some strange behavior. You’re curious and you ask “What is he doing? Does he always do that?” Questions like these place a parent in a very difficult situation. They are also very damaging to the autistic child’s self esteem. The child might not look up at you but he heard what you said. A common misconception is that people with autism don’t comprehend the world around them. Nothing could be further from the truth. People with autism might not respond or react in typical ways. They might not have much speech but they do understand what’s being said. Keep in mind that many of them have acute hearing and can hear what you’re saying clear across a room.

2. Actions speak louder than words

You’re standing in line a busy store. The woman in front of you is struggling to keep her sanity intact. Her child is running off and pushing items off the sales racks to the ground. “What an insolent child” you think to yourself. “His mother should discipline him better!” Don’t jump to conclusions just yet. It’s very possible the child has autism. Even if you’re tempted, do not roll your eyes and shake your head in disdain with other customers. This mom faces judgment at every turn. You will make her day if you smile broadly at her. Then offer to keep her place in line so that she can redirect her child.

3. Discipline advice


You’re visiting a friend whose child has autism. Her child is painstakingly building a tower and he accidentally knocks it over. Devastated at his mistake, he flies into a rage and hurls the blocks through the air. Your friend quiets the situation but you don’t approve of the way she handles it. Shocked at her son’s inappropriate outburst, you offer some well meaning advice and share your discipline tactics. Children with autism often don’t respond to conventional methods of discipline. This mom deals with more than you can possibly imagine and has probably tried every discipline tactic in the book. She’s afraid you’ll be judging her actions. A warm smile and a swift change of subject will do wonders for


4. You can leave him behind
You’re planning a trip to the amusement park. You’d love to go with your friend but you’re in a dilemma. Her typical kids love the amusement park but her child with autism seems to have a difficult time. So you come up with a solution. “Come with us to the amusement park” you tell her. “Your kids will love it. Well except for Tommy, but you can find something else for him to do that day.” Inviting a family to join you, except for their child with autism is a very crushing experience to a parent. Your intentions might be good but that doesn’t make the experience less devastating. Parents that have children with autism desperately want their kids to be accepted in the community. Rise above the judgments of others and invite the whole family. If you feel that isn’t a viable option, leave your invite for another day when the whole family can be included.

5. Therapy recommendations

Your grandchild has autism. You’re distraught that your children have such a rough road ahead of them. You’re devastated that your gorgeous grandchild is autistic and you want to help. Having already raised your own children you’ve learned a thing or two. You cringe as your daughter tells you about the therapy option she’s picked and the behavior management she has for her child. You give the gift of wisdom and let her know how she should do it differently. Parenting a child with autism is totally different from raising a normal child. You have to live it to really understand. If you want to do something wonderful, be supportive to the parents. Give your love, follow through on their decisions and stand by their side. You will become a hero to parents who desperately need your acceptance and support. To all the parents whose children have special needs, we commend and praise you! Your road is rocky, filled with joy and challenges. To everyone else, we stand in gratitude. Your love and support is immeasurable for parents and their special needs kids. Thank you for standing by their side.

************************

We are truly blessed that Spencer's personality has not been lost in the deep depths of autism that generally steals away the social connections children make. Spencer is a loving child, who loves to be the center of attention, and he has no idea that his constant arm flapping when excited and the never-ending 'stimming' noise he makes while playing are red flags to others that there is something not quite right. I'm never embarrassed by him rather embarrassed for him because of the odd looks and disapproving comments made by those who have no idea he's unaware of his behavior. As much as I want to believe this is something he can grow out of, I have to face the fact that life will always hold challenges for him. Cruelty should never be one of them. I hope everyone will continue to learn more about this frustrating disorder and the effects it has on way too many children. I'll be continuing to post more information here as I learn more to share.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday's Woes

This photo displays exactly how I feel when I watch the news. What is happening to this planet?

Let's recap why...

The nation is practically bankrupt yet we have a new president who is has spent billions per day since he took the oath. We're looking to China to help bail us out so we can continue to bail out people who shouldn't be bailed out. We're also borrowing AGAIN from Saudi Arabian oil magnates. Who next, Al Queda? The private sector is silently becoming government controlled. I shudder to think what might happen to our Health Care system. I don't want Mr. Obama selecting my doctor...do you?

For the love of money, a fertility doctor inseminated a lunatic who already has six children under the age of 7 with 6 embryos and created eight more children for the tax payers to raise. The woman was stupid enough to say on national TV that she isn't receiving any public assistance. She's paying for her manicures and expenses with her STUDENT loans, and she receives food stamps. Duh Uh! The only people more pitiful are those giving her air time. Good going Dr. Phil! You've now sunk to one level above Jerry Springer in my opinion. I suspect we can look forward to a barrage of paternity tests next. Maybe Momma dearest will accept the one million she's been offered to do a porno film and actually be able to afford to care for her premature brood who are bound to have a myriad of health issues. I feel so sorry for those children...all of them. And someone explain to me how she's collecting disability for three children with autistic tendencies or ADHD? More and more children are being diagnosed with autism, and I doubt they are all declared disabled. Is this just an allowance in California? If so, no wonder they're bankrupt. I support helping the children, but clearly, Momma is using the money for other things. Moving on before I blow a blood vessel...

President Obama is having problems finding 'pure' people to fill his cabinet posts. We're on number three for the Commerce Secretary, but then you have the wonderful Attorney General who addresses us as a "Nation of Cowards." Wow, I feel complimented, don't you. Here's a letter that's recently been made public that expresses my opinion much better than I can:

LTC West Calls for Immediate Resignation of AG Holder The Democracy Project
In response to the infuriating remarks of Attorney General Eric Holder calling America a “nation of cowards” Lt. Col. (R) Allen B. West, issued the following statement calling for the immediate resignation of AG Holder:

The PC Club
Sun, 22 Feb 2009
LTC(R) Allen West

Greetings readers, I have held my peace long enough to allow Attorney General Eric Holder an opportunity to rectify his faux pas from last week. I am now compelled to offer my insights into Attorney General Holder’s epidemic of diarrhea of the mouth when he called our Country a “Nation of Cowards”.

Whenever I think of fools speaking unwisely I am drawn to the writings of one who is considered the wisest man the world has ever known, not you Bill Clinton. Rather, I speak of King Solomon and his words from the Book of Proverbs.

Solomon certainly has some advice which Eric Holder may wish to take to heart. I shall use The Soldiers New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs, Holman Christian Standard Bible

Proverbs 15:7 “The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge, but not so the heart of fools”

Proverbs 15:14 “The discerning mind seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feed on foolishness”

For Eric Holder to castigate our America as a “nation of cowards”, being someone who has capitalized on every opportunity this Country could afford, is pure foolishness. It also represents a malicious narcissism and hypocrisy from someone purported to be of great education.

I am a West Man, third of four generations of military servicemen; Dad World War II combat wounded veteran, older Brother Vietnam Marine combat wounded veteran, my serving 22 years active duty in 13 different countries and three combat zones, and my young nephew, Captain Herman Bernard West, commanding an artillery unit serving his second tour in Afghanistan. We are proud American black Men who certainly are not indicative of a “nation of cowards”. Holder’s comments are offensive to the legacy my Dad established for our family.

Perhaps also Attorney General Holder forgot about the many white Americans, and Jewish persons, who marched during the civil rights movement, some cowards huh?

Attorney General Holder, do not ever refer to my Country with such manner of disrespect. I have stood with Americans in many foreign lands, seen them everyday across this Nation, and we are not cowards!

Proverbs 17:28 “Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent, discerning when he seals his lips”

Attorney General Holder has certainly lost respect as the enforcer of our Nation’s laws. It would have bided him best to have kept his comment to himself, even though it must be in his heart. It has to be evident to the American people that this person cannot be trusted to protect a County which he holds in such disdain.

What could have persuaded Holder to make such an insidious comment and believe he would not be challenged? And anyone defending his comment or ignoring it is complicit in this terrible offense against our great Nation.

If Holder had any honor, which I doubt, he would have apologized. Since an apology seems to not be an option, Attorney General Holder MUST resign.

If Holder does not resign then President Obama MUST dismiss Eric Holder from his Cabinet, or perhaps Obama and his cabinet hold the same contempt for America?

Proverbs 18:6 “A fools lips lead to strife, and his mouth provokes a beating”

My recommendation to Holder is to stay away from places where we cowards congregate; military bases, NASCAR races, around law enforcement officers, first responders, Southeast Conference college football and basketball games, Boy Scout meetings, biker bars, VFW and American Legion Posts, youth soccer games, anywhere true Americans exist.

Remain in those places where the bravest victims in America exist; your office, the White House, Ivy League schools, Hollywood, NAACP offices, Oprah Winfrey Show, and MSNBC. Cowardice is voting for an inexperienced usurper and charlatan just because he is black, do not be confused.

Yes, I am angry and therefore Attorney General Eric Holder you have earned a lifetime membership in The Phallus Cranium Club.

Sir, you are not there alone, Speaker Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Rod Blagojevich are members, and Congressman Clyburn of South Carolina membership is being processed as well.

Steadfast and Loyal!

LTC(R) AB West


The whole issue centers on cowardice as it pertains to race. Someone on Michelle Malkin's blog said it best...Race only needs to be discussed if you are racist. It seems to me the people who keep playing 'the race card' are people like Al Sharpton, and anyone else trying to find fault when none exists. Nothing I've seen derogatory about the new president is based on his heritage, nor should it ever be.

Continuing on... The unemployment rate continues to rise, yet an on-air ad promoting the American Workforce declares that 1.5 million from other nations have been brought here to take jobs. I recall seeing Mr. Microsoft presenting a speech on how much cheaper he can employ middle eastern techies. I might not be quite so bitter if I could understand them when I call for help. If people of such wealth don't care about our country enough to hire from within, then we are really sunk. Do you think it's attitudes like this that have driven us to this point? Why are so many of our companies operating from abroad, leaving behind people who expected retirements and pensions? Can they be lured home under anything allotted in the current stimulus bill? *see me shaking my head* I hope I'm wrong.

But despite all the dismal economic news we are evidently wealthy enough to send aid to the Palestinians. Did you know we're spending money to repair Gaza? Neither did I until my sister forced me to watch the news. And...I don't watch the local channels because it's amazing what they fail to report in the one-sided slant on media coverage. Why didn't they choose to report that a Muslim man in New York, affiliated with a local TV station, thought he had the right to behead his wife in an 'honor' killing? Why haven't they reported that these types of things continue to happen right here in our country? There's something terribly wrong, and I hate to depress everyone with such a blog, but I did the unthinkable this week...something I never expected I would do in my lifetime. I bought a gun!

Wednesday's Wisdom

For those who think life begins at forty...think again. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Trivia

Before I get today's trivia, I'd like to provide the answers to last weeks and announce the winner. The following questions and answers were taken directly from Beth Reimer's email. Beth, please contact me and let me know which of my novellas you would like to receive in PDF format.

1. What do we call the conversation between two or more characters? Dialogue

2. What do we call the series of related events that make up a story? Plot

3. Suspense is known as the uncertainty or anxiety the readers feels about what will happen next in a story.

4. A story with no known author, that originally was passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth is known as a Folk Tale.

5. The overall mood or emotion of a work of literature is known as the atmosphere.

6. A brief story in prose or verse that teaches a moral or gives a practical life lesson is called a fable.

7. A character's motivation is any force that drives or moves the character to behave in a particular way.

8. The story of a real person's life, written or told by another person is called a biography.

9. A figure of speech in which a nonhuman thing or quality is talked about as if it were human is called personification.

10. The story of a person's life, written or told by that person is called an autobiography.

11. A story written to be acted in front of an audience is called a drama.

12. The time and place in which the events of a work of literature take place is called the setting.

13. The voice talking in a poem is known as the speaker.

14. The idea about life revealed in a work of literature is known as the theme

15. Prose writing that deals with real people, events, and places without changing any facts is called non fiction.

TODAY'S CHALLENGE:

This contest is called Fractured Books. It doesn't take much to figure out the right answers if you figure out how to read the titles. As usual, email your answers to Miz Ging The winner will receive a free copy of Paging Dr. Jones.

1. Knot widow might otter

2. Floors end of ad tick

3. Mummy ear wrist

4. Da Phone coal lecture

5. Chris teen

6. Watt chairs

7. Missouri

8. Duh Dave itchy cold

9. Comb Ma

10. Da drain may cure

There ya go. Have fun. As usual I give full credit to funtriva.com...and I reiterate...no fair peeking.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Mania

Thanks to the stimulus package and that whopping tax rebate we'll see in our paychecks, you can bet there will be some budget cuts to cover the savings. Don't be surprised if you find your office has been redone over the weekend.

Oh, and here in Tennessee, that remarkable amount to stimulate our personal economy equates to about $14.80 per paycheck. I can't stimulate much more than burgers for two at McDonalds. *lol* But I can rest easy knowing that 2 billion has been allocated for car battery research, 3.4 billions for carbon capture experiments, 500 million to update the computer center at the Social Security Administration (what the hell does that computer do?) and $200 million to help rural Americans buy homes. Shouldn't they have jobs first? And what about us poor slobs who rent? Wanna do something for us? There's a novel idea.

Here's some other changes being handed down...or so I'm told:

EFFECTIVE March 1, 2009

NEW OFFICE POLICY

Dress Code:
1) You are advised to come to work dressed according to
your salary.

2) If we see you wearing Prada shoes and carrying a
Gucci bag, we will assume you are doing well financially
and therefore do not need a raise.

3) If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your
money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes, and
therefore you do not need a raise.

4) If you dress just right, you are right where you need
to be and therefore you do not need a raise.

Sick Days:
We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof
of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

Personal Days:
Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year.
They are called Saturdays & Sundays.

Bathroom Breaks:
Entirely too much time is being spent in the toilet.
There is now a strict three-minute time limit in the
stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will
sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall
door will open, and a picture will be taken. After your
second offense, your picture will be posted on the
company bulletin board under the 'Chronic Offenders'
category. Anyone caught smiling in the picture will be
sectioned under the company's mental health policy.

Lunch Break:

* Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch, as they need
to eat more, so that they can look healthy.

* Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a
balanced meal to maintain their average figure.

* Chubby people get 5 minutes for lunch, because that's
all the time needed to drink a Slim-Fast.

Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here
to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore,
all questions, comments, concerns, complaints,
frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations,
allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation
and input should be directed elsewhere.

The Management

If we can't change things, I guess we can still try to find something to laugh about. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday's Sage


I can't resist sharing this. I have no idea if the credit is true or not, but some of this is soooo true.

Quoted from email...This is probably the best e-mail I've seen in a long, long time. The following has been attributed to State Representative Mitchell Kaye from GA. This guy should run for President one day...

NEW PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION

'We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights.'

ARTICLE I
:

You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II
:

You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III:

You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV:

You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

ARTICLE V:

You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI:

You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair

ARTICLE VII:


You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII:

You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

ARTICLE IX:


You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE X:


This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you came from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from!
Lastly...

ARTICLE XI:

You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fiction

Coming soon, the last in my Stages of Love Series.

Here's a little teaser from Hope Springs Eternal:

Driven to finally have her overdue yearly exam, ex-nurse, Hope Hastings finds herself terribly attracted to her new doctor. She’s a widow, and the feelings he stirs have long been dormant. Following her heart instead of her head, she finds herself involved and pregnant. Can she tell him, or will he think she trapped him? Statistics don’t lie. Women her age have a one in twelve chance of having a child with some sort of chromosomal deficiency. She can’t bear the thought of dealing with a deformed or retarded child. Hope has a difficult decision to make.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sally O is Back, to Discuss her - um - Career.


I'm posting on MY Friday morning, at eighteen minutes past midnight. Therefore, I hope it hits Ginger's blog sometime on YOUR Thursday. Since Ginger very kindly invited me to re-post after I accidentally landed on your Tuesday, here goes.

In the beginning...

I've been a writer almost all my life. I started writing stories as soon as I learned to string sentences in shaky printing, complete with fingerspaces. My parents were both musical and talented in sports. I was neither. Instead of letting me feel like a disappointment, they encouraged me in what I could do, which was tell stories. With their support, and encouragement from some of my teachers at school, I started entering writing contests. Having won a couple, and placed in another one, I began selling my stories to a magazine. I was thirteen.

Moving on...

When I was fourteen, I wrote three books, and submitted one to a publisher. It was rejected, but the editor suggested I should write something else. I did so, and my first published book hit the shops in 1977. You can see the cover here. http://sallyodgers.50megs.com/worlds.htm

And on...

In the years that followed, I gradually moved from being a "new young writer" to a "reliable midlister". These days, well into my fourth decade of publication, I suspect I'm either a fossil or a dinosaur. The longevity of what I'm pleased to call my career has led some people to assume I'm very much older than I am.

Like many midlisters, I look back on my stories in a series of epochs. In the beginning, I wrote fantasy. The editor who gave me my "start" at sixteen suggested I should write farm-and-family stories to reflect my own background. This I did until the mid 1980s, when farm-and-family went out of fashion. Gritty-city-realism came in, and I went out... and back to fantasy.

For the next few years I wrote junior fantasy, picture books and educational reading scheme texts, and sold quite a lot of poetry. The 1990s brought recession, and I started writing "odd" books that were a blend of fantasy, humour and surreal family life. I also wrote more ambitious fantasy and sf for teenagers.

In the mid 90s Australian publishing offered new lines of popular fiction. I sold a few romances/historicals and, ahem, erotic horror stories before the windows closed.

Enter Yoram Gross Film, which employed me to write storylines for the Blinky Bill and Skippy telly series. As the 90s closed, so did the market for my YA sf and fantasy, so I reinvented myself again, writing more educational texts and moving into e-books.

In the mid 2000s, my husband and I pitched a series called Jack Russell: Dog Detective. It was accepted, and has currently reached Book 11. The associated Pet Vet series stands at Book 4. ( You can see them at http://www.jackrusselldogdetective.com ) I am also writing a junior fantasy series under another name, and working now and then for a mass market company that produces pop ups and other colourful children's books. I do educational texts to order, run a micro-business that deals with manuscript assessment and workshops, and pick up occasional editing work. I have recently had some graphic novels with a NSW company and some e-novels and poetry published by Eternal Press.

And now...

That's what I am pleased to call my career. I have been fantastically lucky in many ways, with over 300 published books over 32 years. On the other hand, I have stayed largely under the radar. (You'd never heard of me, had you? Admit it...)

I have written, and had published or performed, songs (though I can't sing), plays, (though I don't act), sports stories (though I don't play sport) a tourist guide (although I get lost with terrifying regularity) and levelled texts for overseas companies concerning places I have never been and subjects about which I knew nothing and care less. (I'm a good quick study in some areas.) I am living proof that you don't necessarily HAVE to love what you write to write well. I write what is given me to write, and so we eat. We brought up two children on the fruits of writing.

One thing I have learned is that it is very difficult to get a "profile" if you happen to be an ordinary person aside from your books. If Madonna writes a book, it is News. If Sally Odgers writes a book it's a book. Another book. One of hundreds.

Another thing I've learned is that the image many hopeful writers-in-training have of life as an old pro is way, way out of kilter with the truth.

So many nervous writers say to me, or to others, "Oh, but what will my family/friends/workmates/neighbours say when they find out I've written a book?"

My answer is, "Dear, unless you tell them, they'll never, never know."

Take it from me. I have lived in the same small town for 51 years. In that time I have written hundreds of books. My friends know I write, but probably couldn't name more than two or three of my titles (if any). Acquaintances are vaguely aware that I've had a book or two published, but assume I don't do it any more, since they never see copies in the local book shop, or hear me interviewed on local radio. Most people in town know me as the weird woman who walks a lot with dogs...

It's just as well I have a sense of humour.
So, there's the life of a jobbing writer. Not very glamourous, is it?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom (there's none in Washington)


My nephew featured this on his blog, and I know he won't sue me for plagiarism if I share the same information here. He asked a very sensible question, and after going through the massive expenditures listed here, I couldn't find the answer. Can you?

How does this benefit unemployment for anyone other than those in the government sector?

The final $787 billion version signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009 includes the following:


Department of Defense facilities
$4.2 billion to repair and modernize Department of Defense facilities
$1.3 billion for medical care for service members and their families
$890 million to improve housing for service members
$240 million for new child development centers
$150 million for the construction of state extended-care facilities
$150 million for an increase of claims processing staff
$100 million to improve facilities of the National Guard

Education
$15.6 billion to increase Pell Grants by $500 to $5,350
$13 billion for low-income public schoolchildren
$12.2 billion for IDEA special education
$2.1 billion for Head Start
$2 billion for childcare services
$650 million for educational technology
$300 million for increased teacher salaries
$250 million for states to analyze student performance
$200 million to support working college students
$70 million for the education of homeless children

Energy
$11 billion funding for an electric smart grid
$6.3 billion for state and local governments to make investments in energy efficiency
$6 billion for renewable energy power generation loans
$5 billion for weatherizing modest-income homes
$4.5 billion for state and local governments to increase energy efficiency in federal buildings
$3.4 billion for carbon capture experiments
$2.5 billion for energy efficiency research
$2 billion for car battery research
$500 million for training of green-collar workers
$400 million for electric vehicle technologies
$300 million to buy energy efficient appliances
$300 million for reducing diesel fuel emissions
$300 million for state and local governments to purchase energy efficient vehicles
$250 million to increase energy efficiency in low-income housing

Environmental cleanup
$6 billion for the cleanup of radioactive waste
$600 million to cleanup hazardous waste that threaten health and the environment
$200 million to cleanup petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks
$100 million to evaluate and cleanup brownfield land

Government technology improvements
$500 million to update the computer center at the Social Security Administration
$290 million to upgrade IT platforms at the State Department
$50 million for IT improvements at the Farm Service Agency
$24 million to improve security systems at the Department of Agriculture headquarters

Healthcare
$19 billion for health information technology
$2 billion for Community Health Centers
$1.1 billion to research the effectiveness of certain healthcare treatments
$1 billion to fight preventable chronic diseases
$500 million to train healthcare personnel
$500 million for healthcare services on indian reservations

Housing
$4 billion for repairing and modernizing public housing
$2.25 billion in tax credits for financing low-income housing construction
$2 billion for Section 8 housing rental assistance
$2 billion to help communities purchase and repair foreclosed housing
$1.5 billion for rental assistance and housing relocation
$510 million for the rehabilitation of Native American housing
$200 million for helping rural Americans buy homes
$130 million for rural community facilities
$100 million to help remove lead paint from public housing

Hunger assistance
$19.9 billion for the Food Stamp Program
$150 million to help refill food banks
$100 million for meals programs for seniors, such as Meals on Wheels
$100 million for free school lunch programs

Job assistance
$3.95 billion for job training
$500 million for vocational training for the disabled
$400 million for employment services
$120 million for subsidized community service jobs for older Americans

Other infrastructure projects
$4.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers for environmental restoration, flood protection, hydropower, and navigation infrastructure projects
$4 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (wastewater treatment infrastructure improvements)
$2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (drinking water infrastructure improvements)
$1.38 billion for rural drinking water and waste disposal projects
$1 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation for drinking water projects for rural or drought-likely areas
$750 million to the National Park Service
$650 million to the Forest Service
$515 million for wildfire prevention projects
$500 million for Bureau of Indian Affairs infrastructure projects
$340 million to the Natural Resources Conservation Service for watershed infrastructure projects
$320 million to the Bureau of Land Management
$280 million for National Wildlife Refuges
$280 million for the National Fish Hatchery System
$250 million to improve Job Corps training facilities
$220 million to the International Boundary and Water Commission to repair flood control systems along the Rio Grande
$220 million for other public lands management agencies
$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to support artists

Other job programs
$4 billion for state and local law enforcement agencies
$1 billion in preparation for the 2010 census
$210 million to build and upgrade fire stations
$150 million for the security of transit systems
$150 million for the security of ports

Other worker assistance programs
$4.2 billion to provide an additional Social Security payment in 2009
$1 billion to community action agencies
$1 billion for community and economic developement projects
$500 million to help the Social Security Administration process disability and retirement claims
$200 million for AmeriCorps programs
$140 million for independent living communities
$100 million for food, shelter and support services
$80 million to the Department of Labor Worker Protection and Oversight agency to enforce worker protection laws
$50 million in grants for community "safety net" organizations

Scientific research
$8.7 billion to the National Institutes of Health
$3 billion to the National Science Foundation
$2 billion to the United States Department of Energy
$1.3 billion for university research facilities
$1 billion to NASA
$600 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
$580 million to the National Institute of Standards and Technology
$230 million for NOAA operations, research and facilities
$140 million to the United States Geological Survey

Telecommunications and Digital TV
$7.2 billion for complete broadband and wireless Internet access
$650 million for DTV conversion coupons and DTV education

Transportation projects
$27.5 billion for highway and bridge construction projects
$8 billion for high-speed rail projects
$6.9 billion for new equipment for public transportation projects
$1.5 billion for competitive grants to state and local governments for transportation investments
$1.3 billion for Amtrak
$1.1 billion for improving airport security
$750 million for the construction of new public rail transportation systems
$750 million for the maintenance of existing public transportation systems
$720 million for improving security at the border and ports of entry
$240 million for the maintenance of United States Coast Guard facilities

Veterans Affairs facilities
$1 billion for the Veterans Health Administration
$50 million for the National Cemetery Administration

And I just watched his speech for rescuing home owners. One of the stipulations is that you MUST be current on your payments. Wouldn't you suppose that most in need of rescuing aren't???? Ladies and Gentlemen...we've elected a massive bunch of idiots who don't know how to focus on the most important issues at hand. We're trying to rescue everything in the world without addressing the most important issue. People NEED jobs. Well, I don't know about you, but I feel so much better knowing we've ear-marked money for the 2010 census...then we'll really know how many people are unemployed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Up from the Ground...


in the middle of the morning... as Meat Loaf has it in that wonderful rockin' song. Well, that's me.

When I was a child, I could never wake up and get to school on time. If I was forcibly extracted from bed and driven to school, I couldn't function. On the other hand, I laid awake for hours every night.

"Insomnia," said the doctor. He suggested warm milk. And soothing music. And a teddy bear. Finally, he suggested Valium. (Yes, I know... but this was the 1960s.)

The Valium worked a treat. I went to sleep at a godly hour and slept through... until about eleven the next morning. Thus one part of the problem was solved, but not the other. I know what you're thinking. You got addicted to Valium and are still a user. Well, no. I slowly stopped taking it as I got older and never had any problem with withdrawal other than a recurrence of my "insomnia".

Time drew on, and so did I. As an adult, I chanced upon a description of body clocks. At last I had it! I do not and have never had, insomnia. There is nothing wrong with my sleeping habits a'tall. I am not lazy, or idle, or slothful. I simply have a body clock that is skewed about 25 degrees in the clockwise direction.

These days, I can force it round backwards by progressively going to bed a few minutes earlier. I do that if I have a week of school workshops to do or a plane to catch. Otherwise, I let it be. Thus I wake at about ten thirty in the morning. (Up from the ground in the middle of the morning! I potter about, run or walk over to get the mail, sort out e-mail, have lunch, then start work. I write, in between going for a walk, cooking meals, and seeing to the dogs and my elderly parents, until 2 a.m., then, still sprightly, I potter off to bed. It works for me.

But if I wasn't a self-employed writer, the lord alone knows how I'd survive in a 9 to 5 world!

Thanks, Ginger, for inviting me to "guest blog". It's the first time I ever did it, and I'm mildly surprised I didn't take the opportunity to plug my latest book. Maybe it's too early in the morning!

Tuesday Trivia

Literary Terms for Book Worms (borrowed from Fun Trivia.com) Remember....cheaters never prosper, unless of course you work for the government.

1. What do we call the conversation between two or more characters?

2. What do we call the series of related events that make up a story?

3. ____________is known as the uncertainty or anxiety the readers feels about what will happen next in a story.

4. A story with no known author, that originally was passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth is known as _________?

5. The overall mood or emotion of a work of literature is known as the______?

6. A brief story in prose or verse that teaches a moral or gives a practical life lesson is called?

7. A character's ______ is any force that drives or moves the character to behave in a particular way.

8. The story of a real person's life, written or told by another person is called a ____________?

9. A figure of speech in which a nonhuman thing or quality is talked about as if it were human is called ___________?

10. The story of a person's life, written or told by that person is called an ___________?

11. A story written to be acted in front of an audience is called a __________?

12. The time and place in which the events of a work of literature take place is called the _____________?

13. The voice talking in a poem is known as the ___________?

14. The idea about life revealed in a work of literature is known as the ________?

15. Prose writing that deals with real people, events, and places without changing any facts is called ____________?


The winner will receive a free download of one of my novellas. Winner's choice. Email your answers to Miz Ging

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Mania

Here's your chance to help me and yourself. I've long wanted to be an advice columnist or stand up comedienne to rebuild my self-esteem. For years, I swear any advice I've offered my son goes in one ear and out the other. It's gotten so bad, I can actually see the words trailing off into the ozone. I'm the human answer to medicinally-induced comas. The minute I open my mouth, my son goes into one. *smile*

I know I have great advice to share, but it's the unsolicited type that gets me into trouble. So, here I am...brimming with humor-tinged answers. Ask away.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Winner - Most Left-Handed Compliment

Amy Toohey!!

I want to thank everyone for submitting their most memorable 'left-handed' comment for me to consider in this contest. There were some awesome entries. Most, you could read in the comment section, but a few were sent to me via email (as I had requested.) Amy's entry is my winner, hand's down. I asked her permission to share it with you:

The morning he told me: "The sex is great. Our house is wonderful. I really like your cooking. You're great company - I'd go anywhere with you." Followed by: "But it's still not enough." That was the day he moved out, with 27.5 years of marriage under the belt, having had (stupendous) sex the night before. (To be fair, he had told me he was leaving. After I found out about the five-year affair I had previously NO CLUE about the day he was in a car accident - SHE was driving and totaled his car.)

Some of the other great entries you didn't see were:

My first husband said to me, 1 month after we got married: "I only married you because your family expected it."
The father of my 2 youngest said: "Hell, if I didn't love you, no one would."

You know, your eyes are the prettiest shade of gangrene.

The most common left-handed comment my husband gives me is that I'm just like his mother. Needless to say, this comment can sometimes come back to bite him in the rear. Especially if I'm not getting along with her that day. He doesn't say it too much anymore. Because, I just start acting like mother and he stops.

You have hands just like your grandmothers.

Are you ankles swollen?

Don't worry about having small boobs, at least they'll never sag.


Well, I've convinced I'm not married to the only 'sandpaper tongued' man in the world. Thanks for making my day. And Amy's bear and candy will be on their way to PA on Tuesday. Again...thanks to everyone who shared.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Little Saturday Toilet Humor

Since my Valentine's Day was pretty much in the dumper...I decided not to focus on flowers, candy and never-ending love. You know what I got today? Zero, Zip, Nada! Oh...excuse me...he drew a heart on my desk calendar with a happy face in it. Maybe I should go on Ripley's Believe it or Not. *lol* Anyhow, I've decided to share an oldie but goody with you.

DISCLAIMER: If jokes about toots, poots, and turds upset you, then please don't read any further. As someone who spent many years scurrying up stairs at work, trying to find an unoccupied bathroom, I can totally relate to this. It's a timeless classic, and moments likee these are what inspired my idea for anonymous bathroom shoes:

We've all been there but don't like to admit it. We've all kicked back in our cubicles and suddenly felt something brewing down below. As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, the WORK POOP is inevitable. For those who hate pooping at work, following is the Survival Guide for taking a dump at work.

CROP DUSTING
When farting, you walk really fast around the office so the smell is not in your area and everyone else gets a whiff but doesn't know where it came from. Be careful when you do this. Do not stop until the full fart has been expelled. Walk an extra 30 feet to make sure the smell has left your pants.

FLY BY
The act of scouting out a bathroom before pooping. Walk in and check for other poopers. If there are others in the bathroom, leave and come back> again. Be careful not to become a FREQUENT FLYER. People may become suspicious if they catch you constantly going into the bathroom.

ESCAPEE
A fart that slips out while taking a leak at the urinal or forcing a poop in a stall. This is usually accompanied by a sudden wave of embarrassment. If you release an escapee, do not acknowledge it. Pretend it did not happen. If you are standing next to the farter in the urinal, pretend you did not hear it. No one likes an escapee. It is uncomfortable for all involved. Making a joke or laughing makes both parties feel uneasy.

JAILBREAK
When forcing a poop, several farts slip out at a machine gun pace. This is usually a side effect of diarrhea or a hangover. If this should happen, do not panic. Remain in the stall until everyone has left the bathroom to spare everyone the awkwardness of what just occurred.

COURTESY FLUSH
The act of flushing the toilet the instant the poop hits the water. This
reduces the amount of air time the poop has to stink up the bathroom. This
can help you avoid being caught doing the WALK OF SHAME.

WALK OF SHAME
Walking from the stall, to the sink, to the door after you have just stunk up the bathroom. This can be a very uncomfortable moment if someone walks in and busts you. As with farts, it is best to pretend that the smell does not exist. Can be avoided with the use of the COURTESY FLUSH.

OUT OF THE CLOSET POOPER
A colleague who poops at work and is damn proud of it. You will often see an Out Of The Closet Pooper enter the bathroom with a newspaper or magazine under their arm. Always look around the office for the Out Of The Closet Pooper before entering the bathroom.

THE POOPING FRIENDS NETWORK (P.F.N)
A group of co-workers who band together to ensure emergency pooping goes off without incident. This group can help you to monitor the whereabouts of Out Of The Closet Poopers, and identify SAFE HAVENS.

SAFE HAVENS
A seldom used bathroom somewhere in the building where you can least expect visitors. Try floors that are predominantly of the opposite sex. This will reduce the odds of a pooper of your sex entering the bathroom.

TURD BURGLAR
Someone who does not realize that you are in the stall and tries to force the door open. This is one of the most shocking and vulnerable moments that can occur when taking a poop at work. If this occurs, remain in the stall until the Turd Burglar leaves. This way you will avoid all uncomfortable eye contact.

CAMO-COUGH
A phony cough that alerts all new entrants into the bathroom that you are in a stall. This can be used to cover-up a WATERMELON, or to alert potential Turd Burglars. Very effective when used in conjunction with an ASTAIRE.

ASTAIRE
A subtle toe-tap that is used to alert potential Turd Burglars that you are occupying a stall. This will remove all doubt that the stall is occupied. If you hear an Astaire, leave the bathroom immediately so the pooper can poop in peace.

WATERMELON
A poop that creates a loud splash when hitting the toilet water. This is also an embarrassing incident. If you feel a Watermelon coming on, create a diversion. See CAMO-COUGH.

HAVANA OMELET
A case of diarrhea that creates a series of loud splashes in the toilet water. Often accompanied by an Escapee. Try using a Camo-Cough with an Astaire.

UNCLE TED
A bathroom user who seems to linger around forever. Could spend extended lengths of time in front of the mirror or sitting on the pot.. An Uncle Ted makes it difficult to relax while on the crapper, as you should always wait to poop when the bathroom is empty. This benefits you as well as the other bathroom attendees.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Quick Note

There is an ongoing contest at Writers & Readers of Distinctive Fiction. The best first page. Here's your change to review and cast a vote for your favorite. Each contestant had to use one particular phrase somewhere in their entry. There are only five, and the winner moves on to a second round. Check it out by clicking here:

WRDF

Reviews - Useful or Not?



This week, I've seen lots of discussion about reviews and whether or not they really serve a useful purpose. Unfortunately, I've had two this week that contained very mixed messages. One gave me some glowing comments, but then critized stilted writing? I'm not even sure what that means, and since the book being reviewed has already passed through two critique groups and two full editings, I don't think I'll be too concerned. Although I do admit to pouting for a short time.

The second I received made no sense at all. This reviewers suggestion had to do, not with the book as written, but how she would prefer it to end. I thanked her for her time, but held back my first instinct to suggest she should perhaps write her own stories rather than trying to change mine. I'd like to say I've not affected by less than stellar reviews, but no one likes the agony of submitting a review request and then waiting, waiting, and waiting only to be disappointed. So I went back to the previous reviews that garners 4 clovers, 4 stars, and 5 hearts. Pooh on this poor confused person who didn't get my story. *lol*

Opinions vary so much from person to person. That's what makes the world such an interesting and difficult place. Someone pointed out on one of my loops how boring it would be if we only wrote the same genre, from the same point of view, following the same storyline. Even with all the 'fodder' to draw from, we are eventually going to see duplication of storys. In mainsteam, it's almost that way now. I gave up reading HQ medical romance because the stories were almost identical save the name and places. Predictable gets so boring after all while. I reviewed for that line and could almost use the same template, just fill in the blanks.

The publishers want only what is the top selling genre at the moment and focus their acceptance on that. They still want creativity and innovative ideas, but how creative can you get with werewolves and shapeshifters? *lol* One good friend received an agent rejection with a notation that although she liked her writing very much, it wasn't edgy enough. What exactly does that mean, and how edgy can you be when your writing a story set centuries ago? Whether it be rejections or reviews, say what you mean so we don't have to decrypt your message. And wouldn't it be nice to get an actual response from an agent that gave helpful guidance? Dream on, Ginger, dream on.

Back to the effectiveness of reviews... I know for a fact that anyone can be a reviewer; I was for three different sites. They advertise for them every day and the requirements are very lax. Have internet, breathing, and can read and type are pretty much it! In fairness...there are some that are trying to improve the standards. But, I've had a few reviews so poorly written, rather than link to the entire post, I paraphrased and corrected the spelling, grammar and punctuation marks. So, I guess I'm allowed to review reviewers here. *smile*

Reviewing is much like the internet publishing industry. We can't allow a few bad apples to represent them all. Unfortunately, they can impact an author's work. Reviewers take their own time, effort and energy to spend on reading our work. Their only pay is free books and seeing their names listed beneath their submissions. It's a demanding job with few benefits, and probably more gripes than glitz. I make it point to always thank my reviewers, and although I've never met them personally, there are a few out there I wish would review all my books. They seem to 'get' me and my stories, and understand that each novel is someone's baby. They don't bad mouth, they don't dissect, and they know how to sprinkle in constructive criticism with their glowing report.

The problem we face as authors, is how many people read and believe the bad reviews? Too many, I fear. The discussions also turned to Fictionwise, and the rating system there and how unfair it is to allow someone to rank your work without comment. These types of options open the door to sabotage... yes sabotage. I would never have guessed until I witnessed how reviews on Amazon can be manipulated.

Even before I became an author, I never relied on anyone's reviews to determine my preferences. I've seen so many movies that received bum reviews and came out of the theatre wondering if they watched the same thing as I did. And...I don't listen to other people bad mouth a restaurant. On any given day, I can burn a roast with the best of 'em, and I'm not going to lend a hand to dminishing their customers based on my one bad experience. If I really am dissatisfied, I write the corporate office. They can't fix what they don't know is broken. If someone tells me they hated a book, I'll read it because I want to know if it's truly a stinker. Half the time, I don't agree.

There are too many sheep in this world...sometimes following the leader off a cliff. Politics comes to mind, but I'm NOT going there today. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not. Ohhh...that's tough for me. *lolI guess what I'm trying to emphasize by this post, is don't let anyone make your decisions for you. Coke or Pepsi, 1% or 2% milk, it's all a matter of taste and opinion. Draw your own conclusions and don't be swayed by what someone else says. If you follow the leader, you just might miss out on a great movie, dinner.... or book. *grin*

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ancient Perils of Writing

Thanks for hosting me, Ginger. It's great to be here today. Wondered what to write about, then I came across some old columns I’d written for a suburban newspaper. Most of them were humorous columns about family life, but some were about writing.

Here is one that any writer over fifty may be able to relate to. Younger folks will have to do a Google search to find a picture of a typewriter and know what I wrote about oh those many years ago…..

What is it that a writer dreads more than rejection slips or writer's block? The death of a typewriter.

Without his typewriter, a writer is like a salesman without his pitch, or Tolstoy without his inkwell. Handwritten manuscripts were acceptable in his day, but modern editors frown on them. Especially such handwriting as mine that falls somewhere between chicken scratchings and hieroglyphics.

So you will imagine my dismay as my trusty old Smith Corona started her demise. (Or should that be his demise?)

It began with one or two minor problems. The key that would occasionally stick. I could live with that minor inconvenience. After all, how many times do you use the x key?

Then the shift button came loose. Again, just a minor problem. The only time it would actually come off is at the speed of 90 wpm, and at my best I can barely break 60.

Then the line spacer started going wacky. Sometimes, toward the end of a page it wouldn't give me a new line. Okay, it wants to be difficult, I can white-over the spaces I typed on twice and start a new page. But then the line spacer decided to play more tricks on me by stopping in the middle of a page, or by giving me random spacing.

This has all been going on over a period of a few months, and I've been nursing the poor thing along, hoping to eek out a few more pages before I have to mortgage one of my kids for a word processor.

But one day recently, my machine had a major attack. It whined. It groaned. It fizzled and fumed. And then 10 keys all jumped' up at once, paused, and then started slowly sliding down the page.

Obviously, the machine was in its death throes and I immediately started administering emergency treatment. A little oil here and a little oil there. Tape this wire back together, and it wouldn't hurt to clean it out a little. All I need is one more spark of life to get me through this page.

I've always believed if you treat a machine right it will come through for you in the stretch, and mine gave me one more gasping breath. But I think it may be very temporary.

When I finished my page, the machine kept going with this final plea: PROMISE ME YOU'LL GET ME A NICE PLOT IN FOREST LAWN…

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Maryann Miller is an author and freelance editor. Her latest books are One Small Victory, a romantic suspense, and Play It Again, Sam, a romance. She also has a short story in the One Touch, One Glance Sweet Romance Anthology.

Maryann Miller
http://www.maryannwrites.com
http://twitter.com/maryannwrites
http://its-not-all-gravy.blogspot.com/

Tourists & Winners and Bears, Oh My!

Pretend you hear the drumroll!

I realized I didn't post the answers to last Tuesday's Trivia, so for those who didn't know the correct responses...here they are:

1. George Washington - One dollar bill
2. Abe Lincoln - five dollar bill
3. Alexander Hamilton - ten dollar bill
4. Andrew Jackson - twenty dollar bill
5. Ulysses S. Grant - fifty dollar bill
6. Benjamin Franklin - one hundred dollar bill
7. William McKinley - five hundred dollar bill
8. Grover Cleveland - one thousand dollar bill
9. Salmon P. Chase - ten thousand dollar bill?
10. Woodrow Wilson - one hundred thousand dollar bill
Bonus question. Is there a million dollar bill? No
The winner of this contest was Shirley Dale Jones.

This week's Trivia winner is Molly Daniels who gave the most correct answers to the quiz. She'll be receiving a free PDF copy of Sparta Rose.

1. Charles Hamilton was Melanie Wilkes brother
2. Scarlett (in the book) had three children.
3. Wade was the child Scarlett had with Charles Hamilton
4. Melanie comforted Rhett after the death of his daughter.
5. Melanie donated her wedding ring.
6. Rhett got the donation back for Melanie.
7. Carreen is Scarlett's youngest sister.
8. A fall down the stairs caused Scarlett to lose her and Rhett's second child.
9. Carlett bought and ran a lumberyard.
10. Scarlett's first name was Katie.

And...the winner of my most left-handed compliment goes to... you'll have to wait. I'm still figuring this one out. *lol*

While you wait for me to announce the winner of my cute little bear and chocolates, please help me welcome my Thursday Tourist, Maryann Miller. I'm excited to host her today, and I know you'll make her feel right at home.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TUESDAY TRIVIA Moved This Week...

Tuesdays are going to be all about Book trivia. Except in this case...Tuesday's Trivia has been moved to Wednesday's Wisdom because of a prior commitment. *rofl*

I'll pick a different author each week and ask you some questions. This week the topic is Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. See how well you do, and I just might pick someone to win a free download of Amazing Grace.

1. Which husband of Scarlett's was Melanie Wilkes brother?
a. Rhett Butler
b. Ashley Wilkes
c. Charles Hamilton
d. Frank Kennedy

2. How many children did Scarlett have in the book?
a. 1
b. 3
c. 0
d. 2

3. What was the name of the child Scarlett had with Charles Hamilton?
a. Bonnie
b. Wade
c. Eva
d. Kevin

4. Who comforts Rhett after the death of his only daughter?
a. Ashley
b. Scarlett
c. Melanie
d. Mammy

5. What does Melanie give as a donation during the Charity Ball?
a. Gold piece
b. Her wedding ring
c. Her earrings
d. Her necklace

6. Who gets Melanie's donation back to her?
a. Ashley
b. India
c. Scarlett
d. Rhett

7. What is the name of Scarlett's sister?
a. Carreen
b. India
c. Suellen
d. Melanie

8. How does Scarlett lose her and rhett's second child?
a. Drank too much alcohol
b. Falls off her horse
c. Falls down the stairs
d. She never lost a child

9. What kind of company does Scarlett buy and then run?
a. She doesn't run a business
b. General Store
c. Lumberyard
d. Hotel

10. What is Scarlett's first name? (one word)

DO NOT answer in comments because then you give everyone the answers. If you want to play for the prize, then email me

I'll post the answers tomorrow along with the winner. And no peeking beneath this line until you've submitted your answers...:) Cheaters never prosper. *lol*


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"FunTrivia.com, the World's Largest Trivia Website" http://www.funtrivia.com is where I found this fun quiz.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Day To Romance February

If you've been playing along, you recall that I'm part of twenty-eight authors participating in Romancing February. Today, it's my turn to select a way to honor love. So, I've given this a lot of thought and decided...

I need to know that I didn't marry the only man who isn't a 'smooth talker.' I want proof that I didn't get the only Prince of Enraging Endearments, the King of Klutzy Compliments, the Jaw-dropping Jerk. I think you get the picture. So,please stroll through your memory bank and come up with the most 'left-handed' compliment or comment you ever received from your significant other, or even teenage boyfriend.

Just to give you an idea of the things I've heard:

When we were dating, we were having a heart to heart about our past relationship success and failures. Things were going fine until he pointed out that through a discussion with a lady friend, he determined he had been setting his sights far too high until he met me.

If that's not enough, how about this one. "I don't usually date women with thighs as big as yours."

And I married him anyhow, but I showed him. They're double the size they were when we married. *lol*

So, click here and email the best of the worst to me. I'll pick a winner and announce it here. Here's a picture of the prize.

Your next stop for Romancing February is Anne Carrole

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thank You Mr. President


I've been watching and continue to listen to President Obama's speech tonight, and I must say, he answered tons of my concerns, and made me feel some better about the state of the economy and his intent to take steps to get us headed in a more positive direction. His words were clear, his intentions seemed sincere, and I think he made his points very well. I felt compelled to share this since I've been so negative in my past posts. I guess all we can do it wait and see, but I was sincerely impressed by his comments about failed oversight, his inherited debt, and his intentions toward Iran. I'm encouraged.

Okay...I'm going back to listen to the rest of what he has to say.

Monday Mania

TEETH CLENCHING & HAIR PULLING. This is how I look every time I listen to a Fox new reports. Until I realized that most newscasters are 'in the pockets' of the politicians and switched, I was happily ill-informed. You hear about so many things at Fox that you don't hear on the channel newscasts.

I vowed to support President Obama when he took office, and hoped he would be the 'golden child' everyone prayed for. But, with each passing day, my belief that he's stepped in over his head, grows. I do so want to be proven wrong.

The major issue is unemployment, and Americans are going under for the third time. I haven't read the entire stimulus bill, nor do I want to, but I ask again...how does millions of dollars in birth control, research on sexually-transmitted diseases, and the erection of a frisbee park help the majority of those struggling? There are so many lame expenditures in this package that don't do a damn thing but line the pockets of lobbyists and special interest groups. Isn't that how we got here?

The package will provide jobs, but most will be at the government level. There aren't many of those here in Tennessee, and definitely not in Show Low, Arizona, where my brother-in-law is stuck and unemployed. Maybe there are answers I'm not aware of, but this sounds like a load of pork to me.

Today's revelation left me speechless. Luckily for you, I can still type. I had no idea that at the end of January, President Obama signed a 20 million + bill that provides relief for Palestinians refugees. I'm sorry they're having problems, but if Hamas would stop lobbing bombs into Israel, maybe they wouldn't need relief. Regardless of the reason, this opens the gates for people from the most populated area in the world to come here, seeking help.

Let's do the math, shall we? We already have millions of unemployed or under-employed, we're bailing out our banks and car companies...staring at the vacant buildings that once housed small businesses, and struggling to keep from losing more. People who owned homes lost theirs to foreclosure, and even renters aren't safe. I don't suppose there is any money or aid for those of us who can't afford homes of our own? But I digress... So now, the President has probably borrowed that aid money and invited more people to come here and suffer with us. I guess since part of the refugee act includes benefits, he can shelter them in all the houses that have been repossessed by the banks and still sit empty because no one can afford to buy. Our social security coffers are probably almost dry, and we need about a zillion more people on welfare. What is he thinking?

My sister, really, really should be in congress. She had the best idea. Send the money to the general public. Let us pay off our bills, buy new cars, save our homes or even buy one, purchase clothes, shoes, and other necessities and a few luxuries, and we'll stimulate the economy ourselves. I could do a whole lot more if they sent me a sizable amount of money to pay off my debt. I could go to movies, out to eat...do lots of things that would help cause a surge in business and economy. As it is, I sit by feeling helpless knowing that my future is in the hands of people we elected who don't even know how to balance their own checking accounts. I think we're screwed, but if there's a remote chance I may be wrong...I hope I see it.

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