Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pondering Marketing

Every so often I get stymied by the marketing aspect of being a writer.  In the 'olde' days, authors spent their time in front of a Royal typewriter pecking away at the keys, conjuring up those perfect phrases and combinations of words before putting them to paper. When they finished, off to the publisher, a check came back, the author celebrated and then began the process all over with perhaps a couple of trips here and there to promote the book by presenting oneself at a bookstore.

Today?  The author does it all electronically and for some strange reason, the publishers now feel the author must be part of the marketing program.  Yes, authors must hustle their books.

And we've all done it.  But I wonder, are there some marketing strategies that are better than others? Is there some simple trick to get the book to the targeted audience?

There is the proverbial book signings but book stores have fallen to the wayside and there are only a few of them left today.  Libraries are even falling into non-use with the arrival of the Internet.

Ah, the Internet.  The electronic bane... uh, boon to everyone.  An author can hustle themselves on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Blogspot and several other sites of social interaction.  The only drawback I've discovered is...

Invite your friends to join [..insert website name here..]

Uh, I have replicated many of my friends on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc etc etc.  Oh, yes, I definitely have 'some' different friends on each of the lists but I'm discovering everyone on these lists are there for the same reason I am -- to hustle my book(s).  We're only friends because we hope the other person will purchase a copy of your book.

But wait, there are other marketing ploys out there.  I listened to a speaker at a writing group I belonged to -- she had a book out with a title similar to "Tea and Murder With Mrs. Tuttle" or something like that.  Each of her business cards she handed out had an image of her current book and a tasty bag of tea stapled to it.  Another speaker came, spoke, and handed out colorful freezer magnets with his book cover, name and where to purchase a copy of the book.  Yet another author was handing out book markers with her name, book title and where to purchase.

I saw those as viable marketing strategies.  Freebies.

My question is a simple one and I hope you'll share your insights.

What marketing gimmicks do you use or have you seen that seem to work?
There has to be more to marketing than just "friending" every soul you meet online.  At least dating services attempt to match you with another.  To me, it seems the electronic marketing of Facebook, Twitter ad nauseum is very generic and hit and miss logic.  I'm connecting with other authors -- I really want to be connecting with readers.  Is my logic flawed on this one?
Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Ghost Story

I've already introduced you to Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of several novels including Dinosaur Lake which is available at Amazon.com/dp/B00943P0JK/. This post is moving us toward the month end and Halloween.

Kathryn is going to tell you a little about ghosts.

A Ghost Story

by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Because most of us are terrified of dying and death, of losing all we know so well in this mortal plane, we want to know: is there life after death? Do ghosts walk the earth? Vengeful or benevolent spirits? Immortals such as vampires and werewolves? Does good always win against evil? As human beings we’d love the answers to these questions and if we can’t find them, prove them, well, then we’ll invent, create, worlds where we can.

Now I must say that I can’t be considered a true skeptic when it comes to the supernatural because at the tender age of sixteen I saw a ghost, or what I believed was a ghost. My great Aunt Mary had died two days before. Not unexpectedly. She was old, had been in a nursing home for months, and we knew it was coming. Before the nursing home, though, she’d lived ten years with my maternal grandmother, whose name was also Mary, and had been happy there. The night before the funeral I’d been sleeping in my bed and something – to this day I don’t know what it was – woke me and I wandered down the dim hallway to use the bathroom.

And there was my dead Great Aunt Mary standing at the end of the hall in an eerie pulsating ball of light. She looked so real, as if I could reach out and touch her and my fingers would feel flesh. She was gesturing excitedly to me and rattling off a string of words that had to be German because I couldn’t understand a word of it. The old woman had been an immigrant who’d never learned our language, which is one of the reasons she’d been so content living with my grandmother; they’d both spoken German. The only word I could understand was Mary as she kept repeating the word over and over. I assumed my aunt was calling for my grandmother, as if my aunt were lost, and looking for her favorite niece. It’s the only explanation I have for the visitation.

Why she appeared to me, I’ll never know, but she did. I remember thinking: It’s Aunt Mary. Oh my God! But she’s dead. Dead. When it finally hit me, I was so frightened I turned and scurried back to my bedroom and dived beneath my bed covers. To this day, my mind swears I didn’t see what I thought I saw…Aunt Mary’s spirit…but my heart and my senses chide me and say, yes, you did. You saw a ghost. A real ghost. So there.

Since that day I’ve never been able to laugh at the possibility of the paranormal existing. The thing is, because I consider myself a down-to-earth realistic person (even though I’m considered basically a horror writer even with the other genres I write) , if someone asks me if I believe in ghosts and such I often as not hesitate before I admit that I might have seen one. Might. No one wants to be thought of as unbalanced. Seeing spirits is only one step above seeing little green men or pink elephants.

I want to be taken seriously. I mean, I’m a writer, not a nutcase.

All toll I’ve been a writer of paranormal fiction for forty years and proud of it. I’ve written about spirits, benevolent and malevolent; ghosts; angels; demons and all manner of vampires and unexplained creatures; and even, once, a possessed gun, and a woods haunted by an entity that was an eternal killer. Can’t get more spooky than that, can you?

Happy Halloween!

* * * * *

Be sure to check out all of Kathryn's works at Amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith#

Until next I ramble on...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dinosaur Lake

Today I'd like to introduce Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of several novels including Dinosaur Lake which is available at Amazon.com/dp/B00943P0JK/.

Many times we will read a book and wonder what caused the author to write it or why it happened the way it did.  This is your lucky day since Kathryn is going to fill you in with the backstory about her novel - Dinosaur Lake.  Sit back and enjoy.

First, a little about Kathryn in her own words...

About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (eleven romantic horror, one historical romance, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

* * * * *
And now the backstory...

Dinosaur Lake’s Backstory Essay
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Of all my 16 novels Dinosaur Lake has the strangest story attached to its creation, death and rebirth…20 years later…of any of them.

Not so much because, as a few of my books, it took so long to write or publish, but because in 1993 it was contracted, edited and the final galleys had been proofed by me for a 5th  paperback book release from Zebra (Kensington Publishing) after 3 earlier novels with Leisure Books. I even had a stack of the full-color, printed and embossed covers; it was only weeks before it was to go to the bookshelves (in those days the brick & mortar stores were still king, no Internet or ebooks). I strongly believed it’d be my breakout book. You know, the book that’d make my career and launch me into the stratosphere with Stephen King and Anne Rice? How wrong I’d be. But, hey, I thought who wouldn’t love a tale of a cunning but malevolent rampaging prehistoric dinosaur living in Crater Lake, Oregon, and the Park Ranger who, along with a ragtag gang of heroes who’d try to stop it? I mean, I’d always loved anything about dinosaurs…dinosaur books, playing with those little plastic figurines and watching old stop-action dinosaur movies of the 1950’s and 60’s…who hadn’t?

Apparently someone. My new editor at Zebra.

By 1994, after four novels with them, I’d lost my sweet editor there and a new one took her place...and over the next year he didn’t like anything I wrote for him and later that year Zebra unceremoniously dropped me and my book (Predator…which never came out but still lingers to this very day like some weird ghost book in every computer on the global Internet) only six weeks away from going to the bookstore shelves. When we were editing the book and deciding on the title and the cover, I’d begged the new editor not to call it Predator (his choice as they hadn’t liked my American Loch Ness Monster title), bad title since there was a popular movie out of that name and the movie, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, was nothing about a dinosaur, and the cover was awful, an empty boat on a lake…what!!! Having that book–my first ever–dumped like that was a crushing experience, let me tell you. I had a stack of finished, printed covers and my final edits were done! But nothing my agent or I could say or do would change their minds. They said they were cutting their horror lines and setting adrift a lot of their mid-list horror authors because horror (in 1994) was on the decline. The new editor-that-didn’t-like-my-writing explained: “And no one wants to read a book about a dinosaur.” Yeah, sure.

And six months later Jurassic Park the book came out! We all know how that story ended, don’t we? People loved the book, the movies; they loved dinosaurs.

I’ll never know the real reason they cut the book but that male editor never bought another book from me…which was another weird thing because when I’d met him in New York (I went for a Horror Convention) in the summer of 1993 he’d taken my husband and I out to lunch and gushed over me and said how much he’d loved my last release WITCHES. Hmmm.

Anyway, I got to keep my advance but the book was officially dead. It never came out. I grieved.

I was so disgusted I stashed it in a drawer somewhere and tried to forget it.

Until now. After I’d finished revising and rereleasing all my new/old 15 books (and besides paperbacks they’re in ebooks for the first time ever) from Eternal Press/Damnation Books in June of 2012 I remembered my American Loch Ness Monster novel, took it out and reread it.

Whoa, like a lot of my older novels now years later I could see what was wrong with it and how to fix it. Back then I hadn’t seen the head-hopping I did or the awkward phrasing, stiff or overly dramatic dialogue, repetitive words and other things I’ve learned since to recognize and stay away from. Of course, computers help make the editing so much easier. I think I’d done the original book on my electric typewriter.

Anyway, telling myself the dumping of that book had been a turning point in my writing life–sending me in the wrong direction for a long time apparently…I couldn’t sell a book for eight long years after that–I decided to rewrite and finally release it. In fact, I was going to do something that twenty years ago would have been unheard of and frowned upon…self-publish the book myself. With Kindle Direct. For the first time in forty years I was walking away from the traditional publishers and going on my own. Thank you J.A. Konrath’s blog! I figured I could sell the Kindle ebook a lot cheaper and, thus, use it to introduce (as enticement) more readers to my writing and perhaps, if they liked it, they’d buy more of my other fifteen novels, novellas and various short stories.

It could work, right?

So here it is, retitled, rewritten, updated and with an amazing new cover I love by Dawne Dominque… Dinosaur Lake. I hope my readers will like it.

* * * * *

I hope you enjoyed learning the history about a book now available to purchase and read.  Even if you still think those books just magically appear on bookshelves and internet pages, trust me, they don't.  There is an immense amount of work involved. 

So be sure to check out all of Kathryn's works at Amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith#

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Writing Issues

As a writer sometimes the process throws a wrench into the works and you wonder how you will handle the situation.

Let me give you an instance...

I'm working on a novel right now that takes place in 1961.  It was the time of a lot of unrest on many different fronts. 

Issue one: Vietnam war
Issue two: Civil Rights
Issue three: Religion

Let's review each of my problems.  With issue one I want to make sure I put in the correct information about the war.  I don't want to glorify nor do I want to skirt it.  The war doesn't have a lot of play in my novel but it does play a minor role for a character.  The governmental processes change by the minute and what is done today regarding a situation, say death, is handled similarly but also differently than say back in 1961 or even back in 1944 or in 1919.  I don't want to set off a flag to anyone who is familiar with protocol of that period.

Issue two involves Civil Rights which was also happening. It was a time with major historical actions and again, to wishy-washy my way through the story would be an insult. But, I also have another problem. In the North, we spoke differently than down in the South.  We used terms to describe those of another race.  Yes, they were slurs and very derogatory but nonetheless, they were spoken; sometimes in anger, sometimes from a bigot.  Back in the 50s it was very common for a white person to slur those of another nationality -- I could list them, but there is no reason to; we all know them to represent those who are Black, Jewish, Italian, Hispanic, etc.  For my story I want to be true to the period and the talk.  I've used LinkedIn to discuss this with other writers and the general rule seems to be "don't sanitize the ugly" and if somebody gets offended, so be it.  Reality is truth.

With issue three I have a couple of religious issues working. One is more a 'way of life' than religious but for the Amish, religion and life are very intertwined with rules.  My research into that lifestyle was very enjoyable and enlightening.  The Amish people I spoke with were very open and most were willing to discuss their ways.  I have those non-Amish (English) characters interacting with Amish characters and vice-versa.  Again, I want reality, not some trumped up concoction to make my story more fantasy than reality.  Yet, I don't want it to be boring because it will be a piece of fiction based on some truths.

Obviously since the story is based on 'some facts' I will be relocating the tale to a fictitious locale with different names.

As a writer I feel I need to be true to myself, the period of time and to my characters.  As one of the respondents on LinkedIn relayed: I'm wrote a Civil War story taking place in the South. Trust me, the plantation owners didn't say 'Get all them African Americans out to picking the cotton.'  I sort of have to agree with him.  Sanitizing the slurs will actually cheapen my novel and relegate it to obscurity since it won't connect with readers.

It was mentioned that some are attempting to re-write Mark Twain's tale to remove all slurs.  Next we'll be re-writing Shakespeare to reflect today's slang... OMG!

What light through yonder window breaks?
What the hell is that light in the window?
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Romeo, where the f*** are you?
Oh, yes, you can still offend with other words that are not slurs but in today's society, it seems quite acceptable to cuss in front of a lady and not blink an eye. (Heaven forbid you did that at the turn of century... uh, 1900.)
Writing has its issues and as a writer, you need to address those issues and be honest with yourself. And even more, be honest with your readers. History is filled with ugly facts but we can't whitewash the truth to erase it.
Until next I ramble...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interview with Jack Franklin

Today I decided to give you a special treat -- I would interview my writing partner, the 'other half' of the writing team for our latest horror offering: Ancient Blood: The Amazon.  The two of us have been working together on this project for almost two years.  So, moving along, hereeee's Jack.

 To start, give us the title, genre and a 40 word or less tagline about your bookAncient Blood: The Amazon. Vampire fantasy (or maybe not…). An evil so wicked has grown deep in the rainforest until the mighty Amazon flows deep with blood.

Which came first, the title or the idea?  The original title in my head was River of Blood but the idea was always primary and powerful: could the deep still of the rainforest hide an evil even more powerful than the bosom of the earth.

 Was there much research for the novel?  As with everything I do, yes. Every detail was researched, either in person or through the wonder of the Internet. I lived in Brazil and spent many weeks in Manaus, the capital of the region, and have tried to let my love for the area spill into my part of the writing.

Who is your favorite and least favorite character? Why?  Itotia’s my favorite. Strong, independent and dedicated to her mate. Paulo is my least favorite: the scumbag abandoned his charge in the grasp of danger.

Who do you consider your audience for this novel?  Folks who loved Dracula, but never had the palate for twilight tales. Age is unimportant, though I suspect the link with history will not be as interesting for the youngest readers.

What is the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?  They should hate Ejup and be scared spitless by him at the same time.

What drives the story?  The polar opposites of evil and good and how any one of us might be drawn toward the darkness.

What do you have planned – book related - for the future?  Ancient Blood: The Amazon was planned as the introduction to a series. Bob and I have finished the next volume, where the ancient evil returns to its origins. The third is keeping me awake at night, now and then.

Are you married or single and how do you blend home life with writing?  I am very married and had hoped that writing could let me work from home forever. Gotta sell a screenplay…

When you're not writing, what do you do to pay the utility bills?  I am an international business executive and consultant, currently working in China. (Editorial Note: Did you catch that? China. Can you imagine the difficulties of time differences? It was much easier when he lived in Brazil.)

Tell us an interesting tidbit about you on a personal note.  My grandfather was a personal friend of Joe DiMaggio. Or so my mother always told us…

Can you give us a snippet from your book to tease us?
Paulo’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t move,” he snapped moving in the direction of the two young men. From beneath the mess crawled a spider twice the size of the earlier tarantula. It reared up on its two back legs as Wayne reached in its direction.
“Hey, I’ll take this one home as a pet,” he said.
Paulo flung his straw hat, Frisbee-style, and caught the creature just as it jumped toward the student. “I said don’t move, idiot.” He ran over and clamped his hand on top of the hat. “Bring me a specimen jar,” he ordered. Slowly, he eased the spider into the plastic container. /div>
“What’s your problem, man?” Wayne whined. “You said they were harmless.”
Paulo held up the creature for all to see. “Does this look like the other one, genius?” The sarcasm wasn’t lost on the group. There was little similarity. The second spider appeared to wear armor instead of a hairy sweater.
“This is an armadeira. You call it a Brazilian Wandering Spider. He pointed to a burrow underneath a cluster of small broken branches near Wayne’s boots. “You stepped on its home. This is the deadliest spider in the world.” The short Brazilian stared at the spider. “One of the biggest I’ve ever seen. Without anti-venom…” Paulo momentarily gazed into the distance as he calculated. “You would have been dead by tomorrow afternoon. Maybe earlier.” The spider struggled against the sides of the jar, looking out at them looking in. It was clear who was more frightened.
“Let it out,” Wayne said and grabbed a rock. “I’ll smash it.”
“Americans,” Paulo said and shook his head. “Everyone, head up the path.”
They walked as a group a few yards further toward the forest as Paulo released the creature. It jumped to the ground, reared on two legs and scanned for threats. Finding none, the armadeira walked back to its home and disappeared into the earth.
Paulo collected the group, eyes narrowed and serious. “You are the strangers here,” he chastised. “You stepped on its home. You will be squashed by the rain forest if you do not respect her.” He looked directly at Ana. “When you go places you don’t belong, you have no right to expect to return breathing.”
* * * * *
Until next I ramble...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interview with Gretchen Elhassani

Today I'd like to introduce Gretchen Elhassani whose novel "Volunteers for Literacy" has just been released this month.  If you're looking for something new to read; this is the story you want.  First, let me show you the book cover... just so you know what you're looking for. Going to the library will have a whole new meaning for in the future.


Now for some details about both the author and the book.

What is the title and genre and give us a 30 word or less tagline about your book: Volunteers for Literacy, thriller. A learned edifice. A hostage crisis. The heroes: a librarian, a homeless man and an illiterate woman.  Sometimes learning to read can be a killer.
What makes your book different from others on the market? This book tackles social issues such as illiteracy and homelessness in the course of the narrative. It shines a light on the hidden epidemic of adult illiteracy, but in such a way that the reader should relate to the character and her struggles.  At its heart, it is a fast-paced action/adventure novel set in a library.  Sure to engage those bibliophiles among us!
Why do you write this particular genre? I dropped out of college because I was sick of academia.  This means that the jobs I am able to secure are not necessarily thought-provoking endeavors.  I have time to ruminate as I slave over my data entry, and my mind naturally inclines toward thrillers.  I always imagine myself a warrior defeating criminals, though in reality, I am just an ordinary person.
Why did you pick this particular title? Volunteers for Literacy is the organization within the library that brings the heroine into her situation.  I also wanted to highlight the uniqueness of the main character, her inability to read.
Which came first, the title or the idea? The idea.  I worked for a volunteer literacy organization for ten years in the basement of the public library.  The book is loosely based on my experiences.
Your experiences? Are you telling us you were illiterate? No, I am not illiterate. I worked with adults who were illiterate.
Okay, my bad. Was there much research for the novel? I did some research for the novel specifically, but most of it came from my own personal experiences within the library.  The details about adult literacy are a by-product of my work environment.
Who are your influences for writing? James Ellroy is super cool, I think.  I went through a long period where the only thing I read was true crime.  Then I creeped myself out on that, and went through a phase of not reading.  Recently I have been devouring books by other indie authors.  A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow got me energized to write again recently.
Do you have a writing regime? I like to push myself, but when I really don’t feel the mood, I have learned to let it go.  When I’m kicking it into high gear, I wake up early to write, and I stay up late.  I write while the kids are watching television, and on my breaks at work.
You tell us you have children. I raised four children -- writing and raising is an interesting combination. Would you care to expound on that? If not, I understand some don't want their personal lives splattered all over the internet, but, if you wish...  I do have children, and they come first. I am often unable to work on a project due to homework or dinner or potty time. It's the nature of the beast. I just keep plugging away every chance I get.
How long did it take to create this manuscript? Variations? How many? It took about a year to write this novel, but I took some time off in the middle of that year.  The manuscript is largely the same (with massive edits), but the ending is completely different.  I had a lovely woman read the first copy and was terrified to read her comments.  I then changed the ending, adding a bit more of a secondary character and changing the location.  I think the enhancements worked well.  (The first draft was a bit weird)
Who is your favorite and least favorite character? Why?  Amanda is my favorite character, she is the protagonist and the woman who cannot read.  My least favorite character is the lead bad guy, Johnson.  I wrote him almost one dimensional.  There are other characters who participate in the murders but are more sympathetic.  Johnson is just a cold blooded killer. 
Who do you consider your audience for this novel? I hope this novel will appeal to those who enjoy frequenting libraries.  There are nuggets of library gossip hidden within the narrative, and the entire plot revolves around literacy. 
Why do you write? What inspired you? And how long have you been writing? I’ve been writing ever since I was a child.  My first work was a book of poems about Winnie the Pooh.  I’m my biggest critic, however, and I am always striving to do better.  This book was edited by Kim Coghlan, and she did a wonderful job, teaching me nuances even as she polished the book.  If I live to be 100, I’m sure I will still be learning!  Even if I couldn’t publish, I would still be writing.  It’s what I do; it’s in my bones; I’m addicted to it.
So, where can we find you on the web? I have a blog called Creative Writing Addict at http://publottery.blogspot.comI do author interviews, book reviews and my own random musings.
Where can we get our hands on this very interesting novel, Volunteers for Literacy? It’s out in ebook on Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/Volunteers-for-Literacy-ebook/dp/B0095JNMPW/ and also at Damnationbooks.com: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615727605
Thank you Gretchen for spending a few moments with us and sharing this great insight of your novel. We look forward to this exciting read.
Until next I ramble...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Butterfly Life

Sorry I've gone amiss these few weeks.  My mother had a double stroke and was in intensive care and then after two weeks, released back to the nursing home. She relapsed a week later, had a minor stroke and passed away.  I've been dealing with all the issues of finalizing things for the remaining parent.  This weekend is like the final goodbye as we sell off the last of the few things she had.

I'm not one for a lot of momentos and such.  I have my memories and a simple scent in the wind or glint of twinkle is all I need to remind myself of a moment with my mom or dad.  I don't need to keep my dad's pipes or my mom's jewelry.  A scent of cherry tobacco or a pretty glistening earring and I can see my dad with his pipe when I was a kid or visualize my mom putting on her jewelry and makeup.  My mom was the original Mrs. Cleaver; always dressed nice, full makeup and the appropriate amount of bling.

It is amazing how an incident such as a funeral can stop one in the footsteps right then and there.  I had to finish the edits of book for a publisher -- and I did.  But all my other writing suffered.  I couldn't even attempt to write; it just wasn't in me.  Here it is; well over a month later and I'm just realizing that I haven't blogged or done any of my typical weekly writing things.

I feel like a butterfly.  Yes, that is strange for a man to say but think of it this way.  I was a caterpillar moving along, eating and enjoying life ... all the while knowing I was prepping for something bigger.  Then, like in the cocoon stage, I've sort of snuggled away and let everything go.

Now I am coming out of that cocoon.  I am like a butterfly.  I have come to realize that I am now the senior level of my family tree.  I have one surviving aunt; my father's sister.  But, for all practical purposes, I am now the head honcho, the person in charge, the elder.

Now that is a scary thought.  Being the family elder.  I don't expect everyone to come to seek my advice.  It is no longer that way but still, my mindset is from the 50s and 60s where the eldest person in the family was the most respected person and the one who usually had all the answers.  God knows I don't have the answers.  I can give suggestions.  In no way would I ever feel comfortable telling somebody they had to do this or that.

So with that acknowledgement to my life, I hope to be more understanding of others as I move toward the sunset of my butterfly's life.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Falling Asleep

We've all had those moments -- we doze off, fall asleep ... okay, let's call it what it really is.

When we drop the ball.

Today I dropped it.  I was suppose to have a blog about something, anything.  I didn't blog. 

No, instead, last night at the closing hour of 11pm I was picked up by my wife's brother and his wife and whisked away to Toledo, OH for some late night gambling at the newly opened casino.


I'll make it short and sweet.  I lost my buns.  I got home at 4:15am, crawled into bed and by the time you could count 1, 2.... I was dead out.

Needless to say, when I awoke, my day was screwed up and has been that way ever since.  I figure I'll make it an early bed call tonight.  I almost forgot to go visit my mom today.  I remembered my writing meeting about 15 mins before it started and I still had to drive into town for it.  Whew! Got there just in time.

With a little luck, I will remember this ... well, what would you call it?  Moment?  Memory?  Event?

I don't know but I will attempt to store it away for a future writing tidbit.  I am sure that at some point in time I will be writing about somebody who wasted a day.  This will be excellent fodder for that story.

While not running out of the house to do things, I have spent the remainder of my time working on a project for my publisher.  Seems they have an immense form they want filled out on the book of mine they will be releasing.  There is SO much stuff they want; I'm overwhelmed.  But the bottom line still remains; they want it, they get it.  Therefore I will finish it off and get it out to them in a timely fashion.

I guess that old adage -- write what you know -- does apply.  So use your experience, even the bad along with the good to your advantage and get the emotions and feelings logged down for future reference.  Just writing it out will help to store it into your brain memory.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I was at a website - which I won't reveal - where many of today's young authors - or wannabe writers - hang out and share their story telling talents.  And so there is no misunderstanding when I say 'young' -- I mean those who are under the age of 20.  There are some amazing tales and fabulous writing but unfortunately, there is also excruciating spelling.

Today's electronic world has abbreviated much of our writing skills; our youth are especially embracing the shortened words ... "ur" for "your" or "you are" or "you're" and "bl8" which is "be late."  You get the picture.

But I'm not really going there.  What I want to touch on is mis-use of words by their spelling.

Their are wheys fore witch hour spelling is weigh rong  -- but phonetically correct.

Those horrible homonyms.  They sound alike but are spelled differently and give a totally different perspective to the sentence when mis-used.  Have you ever attempted to make a list?  It is almost impossible but let's give it a try... and feel free to add to the list but please check it to verify we don't re-list the same one repeatedly.

to, too, two
one, won
for, four, fore
there, their, they're
way, whey, weigh
our, hour
wrung, rung
done, dun
which, witch, wich (like sandwich)
but, butt
red, read
so, sew, sow (as to plant seeds)
no, know
see, sea
row, roe
tow, toe
creek, creak OR crick (depending on pronounciation of creek)
wine, whine
tail, tale
peace, piece
vane, vain, vein
your, you're, yore
rain, rein
find, fined
whose, who's
blue, blew
awl, all

And the list can go on and on.  Please, add your favorites.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Some People Never Learn

Over the years I have attempted to grow plants (flowers) from seed to save money with the final results being of me going to the store and buying flats of flowers to plant.  Why?  Because my flowers die while trying to sprout.  This year I had a min-indoor greenhouse and I grew flowers and some garden veggies from seed into plantable products.  They weren't the perfect specimens but still, I hope they will grow to full production size.  I realized my mistake and next year I will attempt it one last time - if it fails, I will never attempt to grow from seeds again.  I truly do believe I've mastered the art.

Still, there are some things about gardening that I'm in the dark about.  I had a fantastic crop of sweet corn growing.  I watered it and could smell the head smell and knew the raccoons would attack.  I took the precaution and plastered a concoction of tabasco, cayenne and hot chili sauce onto the corn.  The coons attacked and had a hot corn salsa fiesta that night and my full sweet corn patch was destroyed during the dark.

To say I was livid would be an understatement.  I promised myself I would put up an electric fence and not waste the time hooking up to a battery or house outlet but directly to the electric pole of 220.  The raccoons would hit that wire and be blasted into space, landing a mere 60 miles away in Toledo.  My sons convinced me I didn't need to be quite that drastic.

My wife convinced me over the winter months to give up the idea of growing sweet corn since we are so close to the wilderness, living out in the country.  I really wanted my sweet corn but agreed... well, until about 12 hours ago.  I came home from church, had a lovely dinner and then in the extreme heat of the day, decided to till up the in-ground garden.  I also have a raised bed garden.  Anyway, I blended in some topsoil and compost and went to town. 

Then, like a moth drawn to a lamp, I pulled out the remainder of last year's sweet corn seed and planted 5 rows, about 20 ft long... thus creating a new sweet corn patch.

Is there electric fence?  No.
Is there any fence?  No.

Will there be fence, electric fence.  YES!  If all goes well, I hope to have the standard electric fence, 36 inches high, placed around the gardens to enclose them.  The raised bed is fenced in but I will still put the electric fence around to include it.  Then, just inside the electric fence which will keep out the raccoons, ground hogs, and rabbits, I will place deer fencing to keep them from jumping over the electric fence.

IF the above scheme doesn't work -- my gardening days will be over at the end of this production year.  Any tomato and peppers from the raised bed will be made into salsa, stuffed peppers and stewed tomatoes.  The ground garden also has watermelon, cantelope, cucumbers and squash growing. 

IF I don't get any sweet corn this year -- the following Spring will see the area leveled and a very large, above ground pool will be installed; either 16x32 or a 24 or 27 ft circular.

IF I can't garden, then by cracky I will enjoy the area by swimming during the heat of summer.  I already know how to heat the pool for earlier usage by April and extend it into late October, early November.

Yes, I know.  I probably should have put the pool in this year but ... well, Hope springs eternal.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Finding the Fertilizer

I enjoy writing and it is a great way for me to while away my retirement days.  But, for some reason, there are days when I just don't feel like writing. No, I can't call it writer's block because my mind is a veritable turbine of chaotic thoughts; if this story is causing problems, I can move on to another. No, this is something totally different.

It is just like in the garden.  I planted peas waaaay back in mid-April and figured they'd be up and going strong by the end of April.  They didn't break ground until last week -- for a hint of my disgust, look at today's date.  I had anticipated them starting to bloom by now, not just starting to creep out of the ground.  At the current pace, the summer's heat is going to cook them peas (if I get any) right on the vines.  In other words, I probably won't get many.

What happened? Simple. I didn't water them, waiting for Mother Nature to unleash her magical storms since the weatherman kept threatening with rain.  It did rain, to the west, to the north, to the east and to the west of me... but not in my backyard.  You think I'm kidding -- I'm not.  We have rough, heavy duty storms roll into the area and I get all excited about it ... only to watch it scurry north, south as they race from west to east or dissipate completely before getting here.  Last summer my son and I could feel the weather changing as we sat on the porch; the wind picked up, it darkened and we ambled out onto the road to see what was coming from the west.  It was pitch black and he figured his house (about 8 mi away in the general direction of the storm) was being pummeled. They (the weather service) were telling us to take shelter; the alarm went off which is a mere 1/2 mile away.

Then it was over.  Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. etc etc etc

The storm had eased around us, taking a northern route of only about 2 miles away.  My nephew's house had rain so torrential he thought the swimming pool was going to overfill.  Uh, we didn't even feel the moisture in the air ... but we could smell it.  Now, by my son's house, the community had approximately 24 trees brought down, part of a building collapsed and several electric lines were in dire need of repair.  He was without electricity for almost six hours.

Anyway, if I wait for Nature to do its thing, my plants die.  They struggle to find the fertilizer and the water they need to grow.

It is the same with my writing.  There are times I feel I am writing in a vacuum very similar to my house's locale.  The ideas, the thoughts, the sparks are all there, swirling around me but just outside my reach.  Yes, my writing is like that quaint little black-and-white farm house in the Wizard of Oz, but I just can't seem to grasp that fertilizer and really make it stand out.

I want that tornado to grab my story and twirl it around in the air and shake everything loose and when it is done, drop it right smack dab in the middle of a wonderful, colorful world where the heart leaps at the turn of every page.

People will tell you not to write a lot of fluff into your story, but you know what?  If you discover the fertilizer as you stretch your writing skills, fluff isn't what you'll get -- a wondrous story filled with amazing things for your reader will come into existence.

Now it is time for me to go weed the peas, water them again and then come back and weave some wondrous words into a glorious tale.

Until next I ramble...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Writing Quiz

I had the opportunity to take a 'quick' quick of 100 questions to see if fiction writing was for me. I had to be able to answer 'yes' to every question.


I couldn't answer every one of the questions positively.  I'm not a voracious reader. I'm in and out of writing groups; currently in one. I wasn't sure about the meaning of writing tools -- a word processor? Yes. Writing software? No. Can I collaborate? I have but not always. Can I write on bad days or when I get writer's block?

Yes, you have to read tales, novels, stories in the genre you want to write but that is to keep up with the genre.  If I was voracious... would I have time to write?  Being voracious indicates going through a lot of books.  For me, reading is a pleasurable time, a relaxing time. I want to savor the writing the author has worked so hard to create. You don't gulp down a vintage wine, neither do you scarf down a filet mignon.  Think.  Do you want some stranger to flash read your story or novel?  They'll miss all those great nuances you stressed over to create the mood.

Moving on to writing groups.  I was in a writing group, my first one and it was the most self-destructive collection of writers I'd ever met.  My third meeting which my first critique almost destroyed me. They ripped up my writing, tore apart my opening, massacred my story line and I wasn't allowed to defend myself.  On my way home (almost an hour drive) I was near tears ... yes, I'm a man and trust me, this was a very abusive moment which made me question if my years of wanting to be a writer was all for naught... and when I arrived home, I informed my wife I was no longer going to write. She'd read my work and told me to sleep on it before making any final decisions. A friend of mine from the group called me the following day and consoled me, informing me I had to 'thicken' my skin for criticism. The following month they ripped her a new one and I consoled her the next day. As she said, sitting next to the frying pan is one thing, sitting in that pan is a whole different experience.  We left the group and created our own small critique group which wasn't a 'praise and pat-on-the-back' type but we also didn't destroy the author.  I moved and was without a group for several years. Joined another group, moved on; and now am with a very small group, more as a mentor and enjoying the opportunity of sharing what I have learned about writing and getting published.

Can I use writing tools?  Does that mean a typewriter? A computer's word processing program? Or does it mean something like "Storybook," "Scrivner," or "WriteItNow" to name a few.  I use word processors -- WordPerfect and Word. I did use a typewriter way back in the dark ages.  As to the writer's software; I just haven't seen a reason for it although I'm quite sure others find it very useful.

Collaboration.  There is an interesting item.  When I write I am constantly checking with my friends to see if the tale is interesting them, keeping them wanting more. But I've never considered it a collaboration of effort -- I'm still writing the story.  Now I have co-authored a novel which is the first book in a series with another author.  THAT is collaboration.  I have co-edited an anthology with another person; again, collaboration.  And I have offered my tales to anthologies which means that it will be edited and tweaked to fit the needs of the anthology per the editor's guidance.

And the worst question.  Can you write on a bad day or when you have writer's block?  Really?  When I worked prior to retirement, I had bad days. Sure, I went into the office but trust me, I wasn't what I would call "fully productive" in any way; I was there to keep my job.  As a writer I will have days that just don't work for me; so I don't attempt to ruin a bad day by forcing myself to write.  As a writer I have the luxury of controlling my time.  It might be an 'off' day but come 9pm, it might be that I have been overwhelmed by Miss Muse and can type out a blazing 5k of words before going to bed.  A writer's day is not some 9 to 5 routine.  A writer writes when it hits -- be it 8am, 5pm, or midnight.  The object is to be at the keyboard when it happens.  Some people say a writer has to produce copy each and every day.  Bullcrap.  They can but most people do take time off, have a weekend or free time for relaxation.  Writers are not the anguished group forever crammed into a little corner finding solace in a bottle and striking pen to paper.  We are professionals and some actually do write on a 9 to 5 schedule.

BTW, when I have a bad day or have writer's block, I read... but not voraciously.

So, in closing, when you take those quizzes asking if you're writing material, just remember, if you enjoy writing stories, you're a writer.  You may not be a published author, but you're a writer.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John didn't write the scriptures to be published; only to share the tale.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Author's Trinity

With a flip slip of the tongue I made a horrible discovery today.  I am a writer, somebody who puts to paper the words others will read and pray they enjoy even to the point of sharing that tale with another.

I've been writing for years but only really starting submitting the last fifteen to twenty.

But what did I realize?

There is a triangle.  There are three sides to the writing process.  Yes, there are a lot of aspects to the writing but I see three (3) distinct processes for the writer.

Writing.  Publishing.  Marketing.

Each of the above processes includes a myriad of things to do within the scope of the job.

A writer back in the 40s and 50s would sit in a room and bang away at the keys of the typewriter and create the next Great American Novel which would get edited, processed and if lucky, published.  But, the bottomline was simple.  The author created the work and then handed it off to the agent or publisher and took a few days of relaxation before starting on the next story.

Today it is totally different.  Writers are involved with what happens beyond passing it off to an agent. The writer must have a marketing plan in mind, something to give the publisher an idea of how the writer sees getting this book to the public and increasing sales.

In the 'olden' days the publisher was responsible for publishing and marketing the novel.

I am in the process of signing contracts with a publisher to print one of my novels.  In their submission rules, one of the questions I had to answer was 'how to you intend to help market this book' which took me off-guard and by surprise.  I really hadn't considered it but yes, it is part of the author's responsibility to help market the book.  No longer does the author sit quietly up in the sacred study and work secluded on the next book.  They are involved with the publishing and marketing aspects moreso today than ever before.

Hence my triangle analogy.  Authors are not only writers but also marketers and publishers; especially if you decide to self-publish.  Doing so will find yourself in a whirlwind of the other two sides beyond just writing the story.

Remember, in the olden days, the hard part was writing the story.  Today it is marketing and publishing that will exhaust the author.

No matter how you place the triangle, pointy end up or pointy end down; the flat side is 'Writing' and the two remaining sides are of equal length to create the point. They are 'Marketing' and 'Publishing' and they are pointing to the word 'PROFIT' at the pinnacle.

So, if you're a newbie just starting out and think you'll be some mysterious person sitting in that sacred study, secluded and illusive.  Wrong!  If you don't push and hustle yourself, nobody else is going to, at least, not as well as you can.

Until next time I decide to ramble on...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Garden of Writing

We all have one -- yes, we do.  A garden. 

You can deny it all you want but everyone has a garden, even if it is nothing more than just a single plant.  Of course, for some, it could be that questionable science project in the refrigerator with the strange hairy growth -- but it is a garden.

My wife, at one time, had a lovely collection of African Violets and they were beautiful with all their blooms and then, one day, it all started to die and nothing she did mattered.  Suddenly her plants were gone.  She even attempted to save some by new leave growth, but to no avail.  The truly strange part of this story is -- the leaves she gave to friends to start new plants; they survived.  So when the plants were healthy and large, my wife attempted to take a leaf and start her violet garden again.  It failed.

Over the years I've attempted to start seeds... only to see my efforts fail a few weeks later as the plants spring forward and grow about 6 inches tall with their little seedling leaves.  That is about 5.5 inches too tall.  They fall over; they die.  Better luck next year.

This year, as I stated on an earlier post; it has been good using the miniature indoor greenhouse.  Well, it stands about 5 foot tall and is about 4 foot wide.  I have more plants than I know what to do with.


I will probably be planting outdoors next week if all goes well.  The evening temps are a little cool but not freezing.  I have the ability to cover the plants in the garden IF it does frost.

And, like my indoor garden, my mind has been sprouting new ideas and thoughts for my writing world, too.  I spent about an hour today doing something I haven't done in quite some time -- I made writing notes.  Yes.  I typed in outlines, notes, tidbits, whatever struck my fancy on things to write.  And my mind traveled some roads I wasn't too sure I wanted to travel, still, I wrote the notes down and now I have a file of seedlings to write future stories.

Fortunately, these seedlings don't need water or light to survive and since I have them written down, to some extent, they have an existence and I should be able to keep them in a 'dormant' mode until I need something to write or I find the free time to write on them.

As I worked on the notes I was reminded of an old movie ... way back to a movie about the Grimm Brothers -- not the dark one of a few years back, but back to the 1960s.  If I remember correctly, there is a scene where the Grimm brother is fighting an illness and the stories yet to be born come forth and rally him on.

That was how I felt today -- these little tidbits, odd thoughts, whatever -- they wanted to be put to paper and stored away for future use.  They are now electronically saved.

Has anyone else ever had a situation similar to this?  How did you handle it?  Did you save your ideas or have they gone like my prior years of starting seeds -- struggled to grow only to die?  I hope not.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Conquer All Obstacles

Jo-Anne Vandermuelen has a novel out entitled "Conquer All Obstacles" and that title alone says it all.  Although her story is of love and passion, the title is valid on many levels which includes writing.

As a writer you are faced with many different types of ruts on your road to being published.  It really doesn't matter if your style is non-ficitonal article writing or fictional novels, those little road bumps hold true to all genres.

There are seven (7) obstacles to overcome in your writing project.  They are:
1) Concept
2) Capture
3) Character
4) Conflict
5) Climax
6) Conclusion
7) Collection

Let's examine these. 

CONCEPT.  We all know what that means.  A thought; an idea.  It is the spark of your imagination to begin the article or story.  Yes, imagination does play a part in a non-fictional work.  Perhaps you've read an article about something in your particular field of work and it ignites your mind to realize you could write an article expanding on this or that.  Or, if you want to go the other way, perhaps an illusionary trip with a short story.  I read a comment about a clown and a baby at a circus -- it burst forth in my imagination and will soon be going out in search of publication.

CAPTURE.  You need to ensnare both your publisher and your audience.  I'm sure when you read clown and circus above, you were ho-hum, but when I added the baby aspect... your mind questioned exactly what I could be doing.  That is the capture aspect.  Also, the title can be part of the capture.  Would you be reading this blarticle (blog-article) if the title had been Seven Points of Writing?

CHARACTER.  Short stories, novellas and novels thrive on characters.  If the created hero is your stock standard, more than likely your reader will be dozing off.  Big, buff heros need reality and that means a weakness, a fraility.  Give them one.  In non-fiction writing, your character is going to be less than stellar.  You will be writing about a real person more than likely.  Then again, maybe your lead characters is a bacterium in an article.  Whatever light you cast your hero (lead) into, they must shine.

CONFLICT.  As Bill Alexander explained many times on his PBS oil painting shows -- to have darkness, you must have light; to have light, you must have darkness.  This holds true in writing.  You must have conflict to have happiness.  This conflict can be as simple as your hero overcoming an inhibition such as a fear of snakes.  Your hero must grow.  I can hear you scream that this is not ture in non-fiction article writing.  Wrong.  Even if you were writing about a new form bacterium, there would be some detail to show conflict.  Perhaps a difficulty in growing it, containing it, using it; all of them are forms of conflict.

CLIMAX.  A short story or novel always has a big thunderous scene where everything comes together.  Even non-fiction has this moment.  Using the bacterium again, the moment of discovery or the realization of the uses of the bacterium; those are climactic aspects.

CONCLUSION.  This is where you, the writer, bring it all together.  Your hero lounges in the sun or the biologists explain how the bacterium will aid mankind.

COLLECTION.  Sending it out to publishers, printers, agents, whoever to get your work seen and to receive the money due you for your long, anguishing hours of torment to complete the piece.

Ah-ha!  The obstacle.  You, as a writer, a typer of words, have fearlessly fought the battle through the first six issues to complete your work.  Now you need to send it out, to finally receive what is rightfully due you.  Hence, the title.  Conquer All Obstacles.  This is one aspect where many writers tend to back down, to hedge into the shadows to disappear.  It is a fear of rejection.  It is only through rejection you learn to grow, to aspire, to become a writer.  If you never submit, you will never have the chance at publication.  If you never get published, then really, are you a writer?  No, you're a person who typed a lot of words aka a word typer.

There truly is a difference between 'a typer of words' and 'a word typer' -- which one are you?
Remove the obstacle, submit and get published.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Writer Do / Don't

We've all seen them -- 10 Things Writers Shouldn't Do; A Dozen Writer Tips; FIVE Way to Better Writing -- etc etc etc ad nauseam.

So today I'm going to give you some tips from the two sides struggling within me.

     Now I'm sure you had a frown cross your brow with that one. A good writer can't have any distractions and a window is just asking for trouble. Something moves and just that quick your mind has been hijacked to gaze out and see what it was. Don't ever put your work area by the window. 
     What crap! Sit that desk right beside the window and you will have a marvelous Muse to start-kick your writing. When unsure of what to do, gaze out the window and let your mind wander. Ms. Muse works wonders with a blank canvas.

     If your mind is working on a piece, the last thing it needs is some idiot singing in your head, especially via headphones. The quiet solace of a private area allows the freedom of thought and gives you the ability to create.
     More bull. Music relaxes whether it be symphonic classics, soft, melodic New Age stuff, head-banging, nerve jangling rock, country or just plain rock and roll.  Music soothes the soul and allows the creative juices to flow.  Give me something to allow my body to move to while I think of the next group of words to type. Absolute silence kills.

Desktop vs Laptop
     A writer is a professional and as a professional, they should have an office with a full computer set up as a place to work. Secretaries don't bounce around from place to place as they do their stenography work; they work at a desk as a professional.  A desktop computer forces the writer to realize he is a professional and put him or her in the proper mindset since it is located where he or she will work.
    Get a laptop, don't waste your time with that big clunky-ass computer that gives you a triple hernia each time you have to move it. A laptop allows you, the professional writer to write wherever and whenever Ms. Muse slaps you up the back of the head. Do you really want to sit in a doctor's office waiting room for twenty minutes while your mind wanders down a fabulous story line? Trust me, by the time you get back to the 'professional writer's desktop computer' the train of thought and all those wonderful words will be a lame and fading memory.

Work Medium - I originally had this labeled as 'Medium' and decided it sounded like a size or spiritualistic type meeting.  Changed it.
     As a writer you need to establish a location where you write and have your quiet time and can be left alone.  Consider placing your desk in a spare bedroom made into an office.  This lends itself to you knowing you are a professional and also tells others in the family you are working when in there.  This also allows you place working notes on the walls and to enhance the experience you can shelve books of writers you enjoy, place encouraging quotes on the walls and paint the walls a cheery color to help calm you.
     This is a pile, a very big pile of you know what! Your office is where you work. If you work on the kitchen table, the kitchen is your office. My desk is in the master bedroom, not far from the bed. Much to my wife's chagrin, when the mood strikes, I can bounce out of bed and work.  I did have a spare bedroom made into an office and the family knew when I was in there I was to be left alone. It alienated me to some extent but my granddaughters didn't understand why grandpa was in there and they couldn't be; so they'd join me.  My wife would yell at me to help her with this or that. The idea of going into a separate room and being left alone by the family is a dream only a single person can truly enjoy with only the front door and telephone to be ignored.  Family can not and will not be ignored.  Life is as life is and family is a part of your life, even for the writer.

     This must be kept away from the work area at all times. When a writer needs something, if it is filed properly away, it will be easy to retrieve. Everything has a place and there is a place for everything. Neatness yada yada yada.
     Yeah, right. A neat desk is the signature of an organized person. NOT!!  A clean desk means the person is spending too much time making sure everything is just so when they should be writing. I am of the cluttered-desk-persuasion and know where close to 90% of my notes are when I look at the stacks of papers, etc.  I'm a crappy filer.  Years ago I had four HUGE piles of paper on a small table in the corner, we are talking about piles of documents stacked about 18 to 24 inches high. My boss came in and wanted a copy of a certain document. I looked at the stack and thought for a minute. She realized it was somewhere in the stacks and started to walk out with a 'Nevermind.'  I told her to wait a minute and I had the document she wanted in less than 2 minutes of searching. My co-worker, the organized one, couldn't find his copy of the document. My wife cleaned my desk at home and it took me 3 days to locate everything, AND I didn't let her throw away the 'trash' as she saw it.  Yes, I scribble notes on sheets of scrap paper which appear to the untrained eye to be nothing more than trash.

In closing I can only state the obvious.  Writers are a mixed lot; do what you feel is necessary to achieve the goal - writing the story.  I would have said 'getting published' but some writers don't want that, they only want to write.  If you are a neat-nik and enjoy head banger music while gazing out the window in your office, so be it. Or if you're the harried mom with a laptop on the kitchen table; the bottom line is -- you're a writer.  Enjoy.

Until next I ramble on...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

APRIL - Poetry Month

'Tis true, my love. April, the month of love, of poetry, of talking funny with strange words and in metered rhyme.

All kidding aside, poetry is to be commended. Just think, in the days of 'yore' the ballads were told as memorized verses.  Balladeers strolled from village to village, strumming their lutes or some other stringed instrument of the period.  A good balladeer was one with long songs with many verses filled with love, adventure, good and evil; in other words, something for everyone from the very young to the extremely old.

Storytelling was also available but it was much more enjoyable to listen to a lightly strummed lute as the voice warbled verse after verse.  Many a father had to watch their daughters when a balladeer came to town and voiced his wares for all to hear. What young damsel could defend herself against a soft verse of love coupled with a wink, a smile and strum of the lute.

But I digress.  The Greeks and Romans told their tales in verse. Who has never heard of Ovid, Virgil, Sophocles, or even of Euripedes? They were spouting rhymes before Christ was born.  In fact, a 3,000 year old Egyptian papyrus was discovered with poem on it. (See Note 1)

I write novels, stories, and articles plus a little poetry from time to time.  What I find so amazing about poetry is the fact a story, even a vingette, is told with the least amount of words.  Even the simplest of poems...(See Note 2)
Roses are red, Violets are blue;
Honey is sweet, And so are you.

That poem reveals that the author is in love, and that his true love is perfection, for honey is now considered one of the finest foods and naturally sweet.

All the nursery rhymes we learned as children are basically covert tales and some are dastardly sinister in their meanings.  'Ring around the rosie' and 'A pocketful of posey' is somber in that it mocks and tells the misfortune of the plague when it took its toll in Europe.  The rosey ring was a mark of the plague and due to the number of dying, it became quite common to place flowers in the pockets of loved ones to help cover the stench.  'Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.'  The bodies were burned, and death was so widespread, people were literally dropping as they walked. NOT!! (See Note 3) As good as the above description sounds, it is not true and probably hold true for many of the nursery rhymes that were supposed attacks at the upper crust of society.  Then again???

Still, the fact remains, a poet can tell a tale, a snippet of a story, or the angst of an emotion in a few mere words and in doing so, jerk from us an emotion of response. {insert a couple of finger snaps here with 'yeah, yeah' and 'cool'}

So, with April being the month of poetry, I ask all my readers to find a poem somewhere and embrace it, understand it, and let it flow through you. 

Share your favorite poem with me.

Until next I ramble on...

(1) http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~ancient/love.htm
(2) http://askville.amazon.com/original-author-roses-red-violets-blue/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=39729359
(3) http://www.snopes.com/language/literary/rosie.asp