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Friday 56

Dust Tracks on a Road

Zora Neale Hurston

Page 55-56

“Having finished that and scanned the Doctor Book, which my mother thought she had hidden securely from my eyes, I read all the things which children write on privy-house walls. Therefore, I lost my taste for pornographic literature. I think that the people who love it got cheated in the matter of privy houses when they were children.”

This is a meme from “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” blog.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

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Forget Match.com or eHarmony.com. It’s time to create a new website to connect with a compatible mate. Forget those “walks on the beach.” Tell us what magazines you have in your bathroom (or by the bed). This could tell us more than your answers to a personality quiz.

This thought came about at the lunch table with my son and his employee. I mentioned that I tried to cut back on magazine subscriptions, but my mail box is still choked with them: Wired, Writers Digest, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Prevention, First Line, The Florida Writer and NRA magazine, to name a few.

My son says, “Well, I have Playboy, Maxim and several biking magazines.” His employee named ESPN, some hockey magazine and another cycle magazine. I happen to know my other son reads Wired and NRA magazine because he takes mine. My daughter has her nose buried in one book after the other and I don’t think reads a lot of magazines. Her books run the gamut from action thrillers (her favorite) to literary books.

Reading choices don’t tell you everything. You still can’t know what wonderful fathers my sons are from their reading material, or what a strong, lovable person my daughter is, but you can certainly get an idea of interests they invest their time in.

Perhaps my view is skewered by the past. When I met my husband he worked as a librarian at the Navy base in our town. He read every history book he could get his hands on. In later years he added action thrillers, reading at least two novels a month. OK I do still have a stack of Playboys he saved over the years along with general aviation magazines–all telling something about his personality and experiences.

So, go to your online dating sites, if you must, but when you meet, ask him/her what they read. Of course, if they look twenty years older than their picture and four inches shorter or taller, ask to see the subscriptions.

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Are you the kind of friend who will talk me off a window ledge, or are you the one who yells, “Jump!”?  (Oh yeah, YOU try to punctuate that last sentence.) Anyway, as I was saying, here I am on the ledge, down below is an unproven, first edition of iPad, and I want you to help me make up my mind.

A few weeks ago few had seen the iPad, though rumors abounded. Even then I was snatching those trial balloons by the string and pulling them to examine. Well, now the newest tech creature is out there. I’ve held one in my hand, though it was wisely tethered to a strong desk in an Apple store. To my credit I didn’t hug it to my chest and suck my thumb right there, but almost.

So now you are thinking, well what’s her problem? She wants it badly; it might poke holes in her budget, but she wouldn’t eat cat food, so what’s the problem? The problem is I’m a practical girl. Objects should fill a need or at least beautify me or the house (extra points if it beautifies me). I’m not sure the iPad qualifies. This is my assessment.

First, why NOT?

  • I have a laptop.
  • I have a desktop.
  • I have books.
  • I have magazines
  • That pesky budget thing
  • iPad doesn’t have a phone
  • I don’t travel all that much

Second, WHY NOT?

  • So much easier to travel with than laptop
  • So much cooler than laptop (Think of modern cell & old mobile phone.)
  • So much lighter than laptop
  • Touch screen—Whoa Doggies!
  • Easy note pad & quick research at writers’ conferences
  • Cats won’t get in front of screen
  • Can read online magazines instead of germy ones at doctor’s office
  • Can update blog, twitter and Facebook anywhere (Why? I don’t know)
  • Can easily download and send pictures on the fly
  • I talk less than 10 minutes a month on my cell phone
  • I can watch movies, TV or listen to music while on treadmill

Probably the strongest argument for WHY NOT? Is the whole treadmill thingy. OK I don’t have a treadmill, but I’ve thought of getting one. The problem is without something to keep me from getting bored, we both know I won’t be using it. There is no room to keep a treadmill anywhere in the two rooms with TV’s. The guest room, though would be perfect, but it has no TV, no cable connection. You see where I’m going, don’t you.? Buy iPad, buy treadmill, work out regularly, lose weight, gain bone mass, strengthen heart, become hot babe with hot new tech device.

You can see I might not be objective. That’s why I need your help. What do you say? Jump or Don’t Jump? I’d like your comments as well as votes.

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Let’s put two myths to bed right off.

  • Writers are loners. Sure we work alone because writing is a one-person job unless you are part of a writing team for TV, but “loners” does not describe us. At the Florida Writers Association (www.floridawriters.net)annual conference in Lake Mary, Florida last weekend most attendees did indeed come alone it seemed, but there was a reason, if we can trust my limited “survey.” Those I spoke with did so for the same reason I did. Okay, we don’t have any friends, but besides that, the purpose was to meet as many other writers as possible in a short time. The best way to do that was not to pair up with someone you knew. And it worked. I met so many kindred souls my head is spinning. I’ll touch on a few in a minute.
  • Conference or banquet food is old TV dinners from the days of Sid Caesar and Howdy Doody, scraped from the tin trays and plopped before you, probably cold. You people have obviously never attended a conference at the Marriott in Lake Mary. I heard a perfect description of the creative breakfasts, lunches, breaks and dinners served us: “I feel like I’m on a cruise ship.” That sums it up. Of course, we will all need to work off the extra pounds as we do after a cruise, too. If you need further convincing, how about this? During the conference there was only one standing ovation—it was for the chef.

This was my first time attending a major conference, so I paid for one day (the second) in case it was not beneficial. I came back for the final day and wished I had attended the first, too. (Note to self for next year.)

The first workshop attended was for those farther along and ready to publish and promote, but things picked up when I heard young fantasy writer M.B. Weston, author of Elysian Chronicles . Her presentation on plot and structure was spirited and aimed right at my sore spot, conflict avoidance. She has a hard time doing bad things to her protagonist, too, but had tricks to help. Thank you. Thank you.

The first workshop after lunch was Crafting Commercial Memoir and presented by Brandi Bowles, an agent with Morhaim Literary Agency (www.morhaimliterary.com) whose job it is to buy memoirs. You can’t get advice more straight from the mouth than that. We left there seeing we had to target our audience and basically begin promotion of our book before we even write it. It’s a commercial world out there, kids. Techniques for stringing individual stories together with a narrative thread are the most challenging for me. Ms Bowles gave us several ways to accomplish that goal. Now the work begins.

After a hearty lunch, my next workshop was with Margie Lawson, psychologist, writer, international presenter (http://margielawson.com/, who spoke on Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist. I have no doubt everyone in that workshop will soon be pouring over every work they have written to measure effectiveness against Margie Lawson’s criteria.

In the final workshop Sunday, James O. Born, author of five police thrillers, the latest “Escape Clause” (http://jamesoborn.com/titled his workshop Realism & What Drives Readers Crazy. He also writes science fiction under the pseudonym James O’Neal. Born, a DEA agent in “real life,” pulled one weapon after another from his duffle bag and kept us laughing while learning. Think: Carrot Top’s trunk with lethal weapons. No one got handcuffed (luckily) because he forgot the keys, but he turned my weapon against me when I asked advice on the police style (Surefire) defensive flashlight I carry.

This post has gone on long enough. I’ll be back to introduce you to some of the amazing writers I met and the visual treat we all had from the party next door, an Indian engagement party.

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Three very disparate authors came together tonight at Lake Mary Historical Museum for Authors’ Roundtable. Their only connection was geography. All live in this area, or come from here.

Judge Fredric Hitt’s account of how he came to write a historical fiction trilogy about Florida’s Timucua Indians was fascinating in itself. He seemed destined to research and write about the vanished tribe. Just enough titillation that I must start the first novel was the replica carved owl statue he brought. Others, much larger have been found in the St. John’s River. No one could tell him why the tribes would take such pains to carve the beauties only to throw them away. Judge Hitt promises me that I might just have an idea after reading his book. Now that’s a hook. All you writers out there, take note.

The second author, Robin Lippincott, read from his short novel, “In the Meantime.” Three characters, best friends, let the reader know them through brief glimpses of the lives over a long period of time. Later when I asked for his website, the writer told me he doesn’t have one, is not good at self-promotion. How many writers have I heard this from? But how many teach in the MFA program at Harvard University? Robin Lippincott has published three novels and a collection of short stories. I’ll be cruising Amazon shortly.

When you hear a book described as a romantic thriller with a historical backdrop, you think romance genre. When you see the adorable, perky author with her fantastic, large brimmed hat, you are sure. Ah, but you would be wrong. Dorothy Dubel has chronicled her mother, grandmother and great grandmother’s lives beginning in a Polish death camp during WWII. If you got the impression the novel would be dreary, my guess is you would be wrong. Dorothy Dubel seems far too upbeat not to see the joy, and dare I say it, romance in such lives. From a writer’s prospective, a most amazing point was that she “self published” because after having cancer three times, she didn’t want to wait for a publisher. Her confidence in her ability is apparently well placed. Dorothy Dubel has sold over 50,000 copies of “Escaping Danger.”

If anyone is interested in finding any of these books, just ask and I’ll relay more information. I know, I know, you are all reading Dan Brown’s latest right now, but when you are finished . . .

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P1060292

Roxie Wall

Do I have good news for book lovers in the Central Florida area, especially Seminole County. We have all felt the loss of Legible Leftovers, which had been the place to go for used books for many years. This blog has probably received more hits from readers searching for information on that store than any other subject. I promised those who found their way here that would I get the word out if another super used book store came along in this area. Well, it certainly has. P1060296 I visited Best Used Books (880 S. Hwy. 17/92, Longwood, FL) today. It is about a mile or less from the last location of Legible Leftovers. It is in area of the Albertsons on 17/92 a little south of SR 434, near Dan’s Restaurant and Cheap Guys Computers on the west side of 17/92. This is not a dinky little bookstore, although there’s nothing wrong with that.P1060305 It is expansive with soft and hardcover of any genre you are looking for. There are books and comic books for the kiddies and movies and audio books. Think of Barnes & Nobles. Just about everything you find there, you’ll find here, but with your 50% off credit you’ll manage to take home more. Owners Roxie and John Wall are the kind of people you want to run into while nosing around for your favorite read. They have been in business for twelve years. Best Used Books was first in Maitland for three or four years, then Fern Park at the K-Mart Plaza for years, part of that time running a branch store on I-Drive simultaneously. They have been at the present location for about seven months. Can’t believe I’m only now hearing about it. (Thanks, Abbe.) Roxie said they will honor credits from prior stores, so if you’ve lost them, here they are. I understand their daughter Crystal Buchanan is popular with the reading crowd and helps out there, too. Sorry I didn’t get to meet her. P1060308 The phone number is 407-339-8200. Hours are:

  • Mon. – Sat. 10:00 – 7:00 and
  • Sun. – 12:00 – 6:00.

So those of you searching for Best Used Books new location or a replacement for Legible Leftovers, I think you will be pleased. I know I am. Now to start on that pile of books I brought home . . .

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You know what they say happens when you are over the hill? You pick up speed, of course. Darned if it isn’t true and I think I may know why, at least in my case. Older people tend to cast off things that are no longer useful (my mother almost stripped her house) and eliminate activities and associations that no longer give them pleasure. Perhaps the feeling is that life’s fuse is burning shorter and we don’t have a minute to squander on non-rewarding things. I’ll leave that to psychologists. I just held a microscope over my own changes and found them interesting. Here are some of the things I now do.

  • Choose microwave over crock pot (all that planning, you know)
  • No longer compare purchases strolling store to store, but on Internet
  • Encourage e-mails instead of time wasting phone calls (anti-social, I know)
  • During commercials, play show recorded earlier on TV and get two in very little more time
  • Skim newspaper articles instead of reading every little thing. I’ve seen most on Internet anyway.
  • Crave news instantly from Twitter, treating “refresh” like a one-armed bandit in the casino when things are really breaking.
  • Revel in flash fiction and haiku (reading and creating)
  • Love challenge of squeezing my thoughts into 140 characters on Twitter, making every word count.

For what do I squirrel away all this time, you might be thinking. Family, friends, good books (or slutty books, if I like), working on my house and first garden, exercising, keeping an eye on government, doing photography, matching wits with my cats, any darn thing I enjoy – and nothing I don’t.

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