Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We've Moved

Visit Me At My New Site

For some time I have wanted a website that was all inclusive, so my son took up the challenge of creating one for me using Wordpress. The new site, that also includes a blog, just went live over the weekend, and all the posts from here are now living over there. New posts will be done from there, too, so there will be no more posts here.

Here is the link to the new blog site where you can find today's Wednesday's Guest, as well as all the older posts. I've enjoyed all the connections I've made via this blog, and I do hope you will all come to the new place.

And I will leave you now with a picture of my cats. They are my companions as I write every day, and they love to look out the window at all the birds that flit around in the side yard. I'm sure they all wish they could go out and get a snack.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Morning Musings

How was your weekend? Mine was busy, but a lot of fun. Yesterday I met with my writer's group and received some good feedback on my new book. Saturday, I was at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts, keeping the doors open, and met some folks who were interested in the current exhibit and art classes.

Friday night I had the pleasure of hearing two of my favorite singer/songwriters, Lynn Adler and Lindy Hearne, known as Adler & Hearne, live on the Bowery Stage at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts. They were joined by Michael McNevin another terrific singer/songwriter for an interesting concert - Songwriters in the Round - taking turns sharing original songs. Some were older songs, but there were a few new ones, and all the songs told wonderful musical stories. That's one of the things I love about Americana and Folk music, the story.

I also love the cover of the new Adler& Hearne CD. It was taken at their Organic Song Farm here in East Texas and the body of water is Goolsby's Pool. 


What I'm Reading: Actually finished this short story the other day and am back to reading Rollercoaster for next Sunday's review. The short story is The Pit Stop by Carmen DeSousa. This is a 10,000 word story that introduces Detective Mark Waters, a recurring character is other stories by Ms. DeSousa. It was a good, quick read, and I liked this new detective - at least new to me.

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Celebrating Strong Women: In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I want to feature his wife, Coretta  Scott King. That horrible day in 1968 when MLKwas shot in Memphis, most of the nation cried because we lost a great leader, but very little of the media coverage focused on her loss. I couldn't help but think how much more tragic that day was for her than for us.

Despite the inherent dangers of the Civil Rights era, and they both were very aware of those dangers, she worked along with her husband throughout the 1950s and '60s. She took part in the  Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 and worked to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

While her husband was primarily in the limelight during those years, Coretta had a notable career as an activist, working as a public mediator and as a liaison to peace and justice organizations. Following the death of her husband, Coretta continued his work along with hers. She founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, based in Atlanta, Georgia, serving as the center's president and chief executive officer from its inception. In 1980, a 23-acre site around Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace was designated for use by the King Center. The following year, a museum complex was dedicated on the site.


On April 27, 2010, Journalist Shannon Firth wrote on the website Finding Dulcinea about Coretta on the occasion of her birthday. This is what Shannon wrote, "Coretta Scott King was more than just the wife of a legend, she was a singer, an organizer and an activist in her own right, pledging her support to nonviolence, tolerance and equality for all races, genders and classes. Though criticized for both whitewashing her husband’s image and for not rigidly following his beliefs, she did what was in her nature—she persevered."

Yes she did!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Writing Tips From Elmore Leonard.

This post originally appeared in Feb 2012, but the book is still available, and the writing tips are still relevant, so I thought I would share it again. I was so busy with work for the art center, as well as working on my newest book, I didn't finish reading a book this week for review.

I thought I would try something different this week. Thanks to a tip from Kristen Lamb, an awesome lady who gives advice to writers on her blog, I found out about a different approach to blog sharing. I have had writer friends, Slim Randles, Tracy Farr and Carl Brookins who have either sent me a review, as in the case of Carl, or given me permission to use one of their blog posts or essays. But what Kristen suggested recently is that we give a teaser on our blog with a link to the site where the original was posted.

Since Sunday is my usual day for a book review, I decided I would link to one of the premier review places, The New York Times. Here is the opening of a recent review of Elmore Leonard's latest book, Raylan. The review was written by Olen Steinhauer.
 In an essay that appeared in The New York Times in 2001, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle,” Elmore Leonard listed his 10 rules of writing. The final one — No. 11, actually — the “most important rule . . . that sums up the 10,” is “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”
 It’s a terrific rule. In fact, I liked it so much that I passed it on to a creative-writing class I once taught. However, there’s more to Leonard's rule that I didn’t pass on: “Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the ­narrative.”

I thought this was a bit serendipitous, as Leonard is one of my favorite authors, and I love his rules of writing, especially his point about not letting proper usage disrupt the rhythm of the writing. The rhythm of our writing is what distinguishes our voice, and we need to let that have some freedom from the constraints of proper usage.

I hope you can go read the rest of the review of the new book in which U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, now the star of the TV show “Justified,” returns to confront gambling, mining and organ trafficking in Elmore Leonard’s latest.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday's Odds and Ends

Another week has whizzed by. I was busy all week preparing for the big garage sale at the Winnsboro Center For the Arts, which didn't leave much time for writing, but I did get a few thousand words done on my current work in progress. How was your week? I hope it was productive and, most of all, fun.
 
This is Sammy. He likes to take over my office chair.
 I was dismayed to read about a bridal shop in Akron Ohio that closed because of the fear of Ebola. Apparently, Amber Benson, the Dallas nurse who had Ebola, had been a customer at that store and when news of that was revealed, customer stopped going to the store. The owner, Anna Younker, was quoted as saying, "It's like our store had cooties."

How sad.

The attack on the newspaper in Paris, Charlie Hebdo, was still big news for another week, raising a continuous flurry of news reports and commentary on the Muslim religion and its penchant for violence. Too often the reporting insinuated that all Muslims are terrorists, and it is only the Islam religion that promotes violence. That is simply not true. Throughout history other religions including Christianity have been twisted to support the right to kill in the name of that religion. Just think about the Holocaust. Just think about the battles between Protestants and Catholics that went on for so many years in Ireland. The truth is that none of these religions promote violence. They all teach about love and peace and tolerance. It is people who take those religious beliefs and tenets and twist them to serve their own purposes.

Friday's Funnies starts with this from Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis. In the first panel Goat is talking on cell phone and says, "Hey dad, did you get the Ken Burns Civil War D.V.D. I sent you for your birthday?"

"Yeah what do I do with it?"

"You put it in the D.V.D. player I got you."

"Where?"

"In the little tray."

"What tray?"

"The little tray in the D.V.D. player."

"Which one is the D.V.D. player?"

"On top of the TV set."

Dad says, "Okay okay gimme a minute will ya.....? There okay I got it in and now I'm watching an explosion."

"Good. You're watching the Civil War?"

"No. No. The TV exploded."

Goat walks over to Pig and says, "Never by your parents anything invented in the last 30 years."

(I think my kids say that about me, too.)

This one is from Dustin by Steve Kelly and Jeff Parker. Dustin and his friend, Fitch, are in a convenience store. Fitch is holding a lottery ticket and says, "This is it Dustin. This is the one."

Dustin says, "Seriously Fitch? A lottery ticket?"

"Absolutely, Dude. I've got a feeling about this one."

"Fitch, why do you keep throwing away money on those things?"

"You can't win if you don't play, man."  Then Fitch scratches off the ticket, looks up and says, "Lost again. Man, I wish I had a dollar for every time that happened."
  
Today's Writing Wisdom comes from Xander Bennet from his blog post, How Not to Write a Screenplay that was first posted last spring. Xander is a a screenwriter and author and his blog is all about writing and film. In this post he has an extensive list of things not to do, and amidst the humor are some points we all could take to heart as we write, no matter what form our writing takes. Here are just a few of the things we should not do:

Agonize over your script’s title.
Start a pointless argument on Twitter.
Decide you need to do more research. Fall down a Wikipedia hole and forget what you were doing.
Change your screenwriting software.
Wait for your manager/agent/friend/reader to email you back.
Make more coffee; you need it.
Eat more snacks; you earned them.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review - #Burnt Edges by Dana Leipold

"What on earth?" you might be saying. Has Maryann lost all her marbles? This is Thursday, and it isn't even one of her regular blogging days. So what gives? What gives is that I am participating in a book tour for Dana Leipold and this is the only day that was available to me to do a review. Besides I do like surprises, as long as they are good surprises. So, without further ado...


Burnt Edges
Dana Leipold
File Size: 554 KB
Print Length: 243 pages
Publisher: Random Chick Publishing (October 21, 2014)
ASIN: B00OI2A9VG

SYNOPSIS
Abuse or an uncertain future. This is Laurel Lee Page’s choice when she is faced with an unplanned pregnancy at 18. Born into a broken family, all she has ever known is guilt and shame. No matter what she does or who she meets, Laurel appears to be living a condemned life but she is determined to find independence and freedom in spite of her family’s legacy of hatred and self-contempt. Can Laurel see that she is in a powerful position, poised to break the cycle of abuse? Set in Southern California during the tumultuous 1960s era, Burnt Edges is based on true events and proves that strength can be found even in the most horrific situations.
REVIEW

There is much to applaud about this book, and I did enjoy the vivid descriptions that set the reader firmly in a scene and introduced the characters. One Amazon reviewer commented that there was a detachment about the writing style, as if the narrator, Laurel, was looking at events from afar. That helped establish a character who had been emotionally battered by the abuse she had experienced she was afraid to step out of that detachment lest she drown in her emotions.
Writers who base a story on true events have to carefully consider what of the truth needs to be in a book and what doesn't. Not everything needs to happen in the story just because they happened in real life, and there were a couple of scenes that to me didn't seem to fit. The timeline also jumped a lot and for the most part that worked effectively. However, there were a couple of places where we left a traumatic moment and I wanted to stay a little longer to experience Laurel's emotional reaction. I also found a number of editing mistakes, especially in the second half of the book, and I wonder if it was not as carefully edited as the first half.
Despite those issues, this was a compelling read, and I did get so engrossed in the story that I was eager to see what came next. The author did a great job depicting the experiences of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and readers will connect with Laurel and hope to see something good come to her to help her heal from the bad.

Buy Links

There is a giveaway for this tour. Visitors to the various stops on the tour will have a chance to win one of ten $10 Amazon gift cards, courtesy of the author. The contest ends 1/23.
Enter by clicking the RAFFLECOPTER LINK

Author Bio
Dana Leipold is a freelance writer, author, and member of the Association of Independent Authors and Creativity Coaching Association. Her debut novel, Burnt Edges, depicts the unwavering resilience of a young woman in the face of family violence and abuse. She has self-published two other books: a collection of limericks in Dr. Seuss-style for adults entitled, Stupid Poetry: The Ultimate Collection of Sublime and Ridiculous Poems, and a non-fiction book entitled, The Power of Writing Well: Write Well. Change the World. In addition, she coaches other writers on story structure, messaging, and writing skills so they can achieve their dreams to become published authors. Leipold lives with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Daybreak. Coffee. The Big Two.

I'm happy to have Slim Randles here again as today's Wednesday's Guest. I thought this was a nice piece that invites us to stop and appreciate our days, especially those early morning hours when the world is waking up. I do love those daybreak times when I go outside and the sun is rising over the treeline in the meadow across the road. This is a picture I took a couple of weeks ago when I could actually see a sunrise before the clouds took over the sky 24/7. Now and then I look at it to remind myself the sun does exist.

If you'd like, you can have a donut to go with your coffee and then enjoy Slim's story. And when you finish here, hop over to The Blood-Red Pencil, where Slim has another guest post.

There’s something so satisfying about getting out of bed when the world is still dark and quiet and resting. Making the coffee gives us time to scratch and think. Well, scratch, anyway. Most of that thinking will start after about the third cup.

But it’s a quiet time. A private time. When the world is dark, and there isn’t yet a hint of pink over the eastern mountains, it’s very good. We can relax. No one is expecting anything from us right now. Our guilt can take some time off, and we can listen to music or work a crossword puzzle or turn on the TV and watch the weather guy discuss millibars and troughs.

Soon enough, we’ll have to be out there living for others: our bosses, our customers, our animals, our fields. But right now no one needs us except the dog, and she does well on kibbles and an occasional drive-by ear rumple.

We can look out the window at the eastern glow and wonder what will happen in the hours until our world turns dark again. People will be born and people will die. People will win honors and people will go to jail. People will create things today that live past them and people will disappear forever. People will write about these things and other people will read about these things.

And then the world will go dark and dormant on us again and we’ll think about what happened in our tiny portion of this huge moving amalgam and hopefully we’ll sleep easily tonight. Then, when we arise tomorrow and head for the coffee pot, we can think about what happened today, and how it has made us slightly different for taking on the next tomorrow.

Come to us, daylight. Bring us the new day. But do it gently, please, and slowly enough for one more cup.
___________________________________________________________________________

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, Home Country, and is the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Morning Musings


Here in my little corner of East Texas we dodged a weather bullet this weekend. There was the possibility of ice and maybe snow, and while I wouldn't have minded the snow, I was not eager to go slipping and sliding down the path to the barn. Luckily, the really nasty stuff stayed north and west of us. Saturday night I was able to get to town to see Rhett Butler in concert. If you have never seen him or heard his music, you are missing out. He plays guitar - sometimes two at one time - and the music is magical.

So how was your weekend? Before you read on, how about a glass of hot cider to keep warm this chilly morning?

What I'm reading: I just finished Prayer for the Dying by Pete Brassett. It's an intriguing short mystery set in Ireland and I enjoyed it very much. Now I'm reading No Telling by Parris Afton Bonds. Many moons ago I was in a writing group with her in the Dallas area, and it has been a long time since I read one of her books. This story line that has a mystery element appealed to me, and so far it is a pretty good read.

PHOTO: Rachel CarsonCelebrating Strong Women: It is especially significant to me to showcase Rachel Louise Carson today. She is noted for her dedication to environmental issues, which is something I greatly admire. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1907 and died in 1964.

Carson graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1929, studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.
She was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to write radio scripts during the Depression and supplemented her income writing feature articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. She began a fifteen-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor in 1936 and rose to become Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

She wrote extensively about environmental issues, and in 1952 her prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us, was published. That book, along with The Edge of the Sea that came out in 1955, made Carson famous as a naturalist and science writer. Carson resigned from government service in 1952 to devote herself to her writing. A later book, Silent Spring, documented the devastating effects of pesticides like DDT on birds and the environment, and the revelations helped in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1952  she was given the  National Book Award for Non-fiction for The Sea Around Us. That year she also received the John Burroughs Medal, the Henry Grier Bryant Gold Medal, Geographical Society New York Zoological Society Gold Medal, and she was awarded a Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for research on tidal life.

Carson died in 1964 after a long battle against breast cancer.

What a great role model she is for all of us to work harder to protect our world and all its living creatures.