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Posts Tagged ‘Words’

I’ve learned a thing or two about choosing books in the three months I’ve owned my Kindle—or it has owned me. Very catlike is this little device. It sleeps as much as you will let it, even as it tugs your thoughts to the page (or pages) it holds for you, waiting—waiting until you give it the equivalent of a scratch behind the ears and bring it to life. One you’ve flipped that little switch Kindle has your undivided attention.  Your whole (new) library lies in your lap. If you are one who reads multiple books at a time, you find you begin to do this on steroids.

There may be good reason for switching from book to book on Kindle, especially if you’ve downloaded a lot of freebies or 99 cent books, and here’s why. You read a few reviews of a book and it sounds pretty good, Pretty good is enough to hit the “one click” button if it’s free. How bad can it be? I’ll admit I haven’t gotten books with a lot of misspellings as others have, but some have broken very basic principals in writing. You have to wonder how they got on Amazon. Yes, this is early e-book era and yes, they are free or cheap, but supposedly an editor or critique group at the very least has read them before they made it this far. The sad thing is that some have good stories and characters and I might have really enjoyed them had not POV ping ponged back and forth so freely that I didn’t know who was thinking what. Then there were fairly prominent characters flimsily developed.

Several of these experiences have been with Christian lit. Now you don’t know they are Christian lit until you get into them in most cases. I am a Christian and the characters’ actions seemed natural to me even as they stood out because I rarely see characters in mainstream literature doing or thinking as these do. “Invisible” by Lorena McCourtney falls in this category. I thoroughly enjoyed her self-appointed senior investigator Ivy Malone. She was endearing and daring, a real fun read. I will not name the book I forced myself to finish (the POV gone wild book) because I am hoping for better ones from this author. Her plot was interesting, as were most of the characters.

Even as I read the last word of my favorite blind download I was asking, “Was this Christian lit?” and perhaps that’s the best compliment of all. I suspect the title, “The Dirty Parts of the Bible” will attract a wide, curious audience: They won’t be disappointed in this humorous novel set during the Great Depression. The humor wanes a bit during the odyssey Tobias is forced to take in desperate times. He is son of a fundamentalist preacher who questions all he has been taught and gains insight from the unlikeliest of characters. Sam Torode has written an unforgettable novel I suspect will do well.

You can’t go wrong with the (free) classics. This was my chance to re-read “The Secret Garden,” last heard when my second grade teacher read it to the class. I have since learned that every child in Texas apparently had this novel read to them in school. I was just as engrossed today as I was then, and probably learned the lessons the author intended even better. There is also Poe, Twain, London and so many favorites there for the taking.

I’ve even downloaded something called “Anywhere Abs,” which gently prods me to exercise my abs on the road or anywhere. Of course, I have to open it up, get on the floor and sweat.

For reference I have a dictionary, familiar quotations, the Bible, and Kindle Users Guide and Shortcuts—so far.

Kindle is changing the way I entertain myself. When the daily TV schedule shows few or no shows I enjoy, instead of disappointment I see a chance to open that new download or continue with one I am reading. In waiting rooms I open one of several books with short pieces, like “Stupid American History.” The rest of the time my Kindle sits there in its little red cover purring like a kitten—or is that me?

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Are you like me? Do you enjoy those small moments in life where you meet an interesting person or end up in the middle of an unexpected situation that gives you a glimpse into a stranger’s life? If so, you’ll enjoy every one of these stories from Florida Writers Association authors. I hope you will like mine. Check out the recently released book on Amazon.com.

Slices of Life, FWA Collection - Volume 2

http://www.amazon.com/Slices-Life-FWA-Collection-2/dp/1936343304/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1290298893&sr=1-1

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SCAT

Apparently this connotation of “scat” is so new it is not yet in the online dictionary, so I’ll play Webster.

Scat – adj. Writing genre in which every word is a sound used to get an idea across.

I had lunch with a couple of writers from our recent conference yesterday and the subject of scat came up. One of the writers even gave a vivid demonstration of scat right there in Panera Bread, huffing and chugging like a train. Shortly after he went to the men’s room and came back laughing so hard he could barely get his story out.

An old friend of his was coming out of the men’s room as he entered. The guy was fuming. He was sure the world was going to hell in a hand basket. As he stood at the urinal talking to his wife on the cell a gentleman in the stall had the nerve to make bodily sounds that his wife could hear. “Is there no civility in our society any more?” he asked.

Yeah, we all said what you are thinking. This guy expects a public bathroom to be hallowed territory for his phone calls? So now we are all laughing, but I have an idea. Did my friend not just experience fertile ground so to speak for an entertaining (or not) foray into scat?  My guess is we won’t hear it soon, and that will be soon enough.

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At some point into the Florida Writers Association Conference last weekend in Lake Mary, FL, I began to feel like a talent scout. That young man working on his mystery would be heard from. I was sure of it. A short story writer whose first publication is in the FWA collections book would soon break through that tough publishing wall. You just know it sometimes. The beautiful young woman I pegged in the parking lot on the first day as a writer made top ten in Collections. Later her elevator pitch to me of her first novel was concise and intriguing. An agent at the conference thought so, too, and asked for the manuscript.

One of my short stories made its way to “Slices of Life,” FWA’s collection book for 2010. I got to play like a real author and sign books for people. There are things you don’t know your first time. I soon learned my signature was not always enough. Some wanted something more personal. Here’s where quick thinking and creativity comes in handy even when in shock. I wonder if published authors go to their graves feeling like a fraud or will the feeling pass?

I will let you know soon when “Slices of Live” will be available for order for just $14.95 at www.amazon.com.   If you love short stories and real life characters you will treasure this book.

My friend Joan Levy and I were finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest. We met last year when I asked to sit by her at the awards banquet and felt like old friends by the time they called her name for a second prize tie in her category. This time both our stories were up for Creative Non-fiction Unpublished awards. I realized I would feel badly if I won and Joan didn’t and she felt the same. We held cold, shaky hands at times, rung our hands at others, praying for a tie between us at any level. The presenter had announced there were more ties than usual. We saw this as a good omen. We only talked of a tie. Someone must have heard us. We did come out even. Neither of us won. Relief came before our feelings of rejection, so I guess that’s good. There is always next year. Perhaps we’ll try for different categories, though, and we do have the satisfaction of knowing we both made it to the top layer.

The workshops were first class with lots of “take aways,” but for real value, meeting other people who relish sitting at a computer rearranging 26 characters into ideas and word pictures for hours is always the high point. I’ll never forget pausing at the door as I entered my first mini-conference a few years ago. I immediately stepped outside and called my husband to say, “There’s a room full of people just like me!”

My only regret was that I chose at one point to attend a serious, well-attended workshop in the huge ball room instead of “Let’s Talk About Sex” in a smaller venue with speaker Laura Parker Castoro I learned later she had them rolling in the aisles. No, not like that. She presented with humor. All in all, I’d rather have had Sex in the Orchid Room.

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It’s a double edged sword you soon find out, helping your granddaughter set up a Facebook page. We’ve both waited for this day and like all things having to do with technology, we aren’t quite sure why. We can’t know what the experience will bring, so I haven’t thought beyond seeing her cute little avatar right there on my page of friends. And there it is this morning. I check to see how her page is going.

In a few hours she has half as many “friends” as I’ve gathered in over a year. The following day that count surpasses me. So I make a comment to her and she answers me. “kk” What the H— oh, I mean heck does that mean? Conversations between her and friends are even more cryptic. So much for my solemn promise to her mother to be a watchdog. I don’t know what the * uh, heck they are saying. I have to confess here that I even looked up one word in Google dictionary. They had never heard of it either. And they are techies, so that made me feel as little less like a nodding lady in a rocking chair.

The other thing I didn’t foresee was my own words on my Facebook page. Suddenly I begin to go over in my mind what I might have uttered that I wouldn’t in my granddaughter’s presence. Do you know how long it takes to scroll back to older and older posts? At one point I said, “Wait a minute! You talk pretty much to your grands as you do anyone else.” In fact, some of my little stories and opinions in their presence have evoked a cringe factor from adults. Not “OMG Get her out of here before she sends them down the road to ruin” cringe, just a momentary catching of the breath. That will probably be the worst that will happen with my new “friends.” At least I hope so.

There is another thing on my side. With her friends count approaching Justin Bieber audience size, I really don’t think I’ll have to worry about her reading my posts. kk?

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I think I figured it out. Sexy, I mean. My intention was to rant about how the media—and everybody else – has sexed up everything, but then I had an epiphany. Sexy in many cases doesn’t mean pole dancing, slutty trollop. No. It is really a code word for feminine. Oh, they don’t mean it to be and probably are not even aware, but in many cases, I think that’s exactly what it is. Hear me out.

Do you watch “What Not to Wear?” or “How Do I Look”? They often ‘say’ they are showing the poor tomboy she needs to be more sexy, but is that what they really mean? The poor maligned woman doesn’t end up slutty; she ends up looking feminine. But for goodness sakes, we can’t say “feminine.” That would upset the whole struggle for equal pay and the right to wield a jack hammer. So we make her “sexy.”

Once in a while those shows get a woman who actually does dress slutty. What to do, what to do? What they do is show her “curves” but less of her skin. They know better than to take her all the way on the scale to tomboy or even too close to “classic.” All meet in the middle at—ta da — sexy.

I am still perturbed by the overuse of that term—you know—but now I know how to calm myself — besides the glass of wine. Every time they say “sexy” on those shows, I just shout over them, “FEMININE!”

I feel so much better.

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I’m beginning to feel I am frittering (or twittering) my life away and missing the real parts, like this blog. Yes, real! This page is my anchor and never far from my heart, but don’t we all slight the important things and people sometimes? Recently I’ve been taking part in actual physical interaction with three-dimensional human beings, yet feeling the guilt of slighting the also-real connections here at my fingertips. You know what I mean. I know you do. You are the ones who don’t dismiss the crazy thoughts that pop into my head during the day. You have them too. You don’t blow me off as the crazy lady with the cats. We are all digging for those special thoughts and being patient with each other as we try the lesser ones on for size.

We are American Idol without Simon Cowell. We deal not in music, but words and we all hold them dear and respect each others’ forays into new arrangements that bring out our spirits. I suspect you feel this way or you wouldn’t be here. And I hope you’ll keep coming because I may not have been writing a lot here lately, but I’m filling a notebook with fragments. Some have promise, some belong in the trash, others are lost to my illegible hand. Somewhere in there, though, I hope is a thought worthy of expansion and worthy of your time. Thanks for hanging in there and sharing your thoughts with me. Even in the winter funk many of you are tickling my funny bone and touching my heart. This is a good, real place to be. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

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