Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way~ What's Age Got to Do with Writing?

No, this isn't me!
I've used a lot of derogatory terms on this blog about my age...old fart, old lady, not even a fall hen, and a few more. I've spent my youth and younger years, working, raising my children, and everything else to able to do what I want to do in my "waning" years. Each year is my best year yet.

While it would be nice to time travel and go back and correct past mistakes, it would only work if I could go back having my current knowledge.

My favorite saying is, "I ain't dead yet" and it's true. Every day I learn, or relearn new stuff and it's all grist for the writing mill.  The more opinions, experiences, and research I do to write makes me a better writer. So why have I been taking hits of late because I'm older? See yesterday's blog for one.

Bertrice Small
Somehow, I couldn't possibly relate to a younger generation. In life the more things that change; the more they stay the same. Bertrice Small has got me beat by a decade or more. She still writes and gardens, and she's not the only one. This is not to say that much younger writers can't write. They can and very well.
Shameless plug

But with age comes a maturity level in writing. Did that stop me from writing as a child as in my novel, The Sacrificial Lamb, nope. I can do that. I can remember what it was like or look at my granddaughters. To get perspective on that age. I can mentally transport myself into that period of time in my own life to make it real. An eleven-year old would be hard pressured to write this novel.

In writing I can be whatever age I want to be because I've lived it. Many younger authors would be hard pressed to write as a sixty-year old unless they were retelling a story from that aged person. They just have no experience or knowledge to work from. But they will given time. See there are advantages of being an older writer.

Yeah, this is me
Age is an annual thing for accounting purposes. Some days I feel 110 years old but others more like 10 years old tops. That's what is important in writing.

So how old do you feel today?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Uh Oh! Medical Woes

Well my DH (darling hubby) has done again, but this time it's a double whammy. Just got home from the doctor's office. So far we've battled pneumonia for months twice and him trying to go into congestive heart failure twice this year alone.

The past few days I've noticed more swelling in his ankles and a cough that is yucky. So of course I should call one of his doctors, but which one? See we have ologistitis in this household...more specialists than you can shake a stick at.

I called all of them. The only one who could see us fast was his pulmonologist. His pulmonologist is great. Big burly, Jewish man with a great sense of humor. I first met him while working in post surgical nursing a couple of decades ago.  My husband had actually dated his ex-wife before she became Mrs. Dr. Pulmonologist and I knew her from college. I did try to warn him before the leap but he didn't listen.  Now years later he is my husband's doctor. The world rotates full circles.

Anyhow getting back to the doctor's appointment. I had grabbed my stethoscope and listened to my husband's heart and lungs this morning and heard bubbly sounds. Not good. Really not good. The doctor heard it too. Diagnosis= pneumonia again. Then he checked my husband out further and noticed his swelling legs. Congestive heart failure. Now my husband has a DNR in place. Everyone is on the same page and knows this.

The doctor said three words, "hospital admission stat."
Of course my hubby had his head turned away from him and asked me, What?"
I told him and he started to shake his head violently.

I sighed and looked at the doctor who pulled out his prescription pad. The pulmonologist had had this battle before with my husband on several occasions this year alone. He handed the prescriptions to my husband and gave me the instructions. Even if I hadn't been a nurse, I knew how serious my husband's condition was. Good thing he married a nurse, huh?

As we were getting to leave the office he asked for the prescriptions back and tore them up. I thought he was going to admit him anyways. No, he picked up the phone and called my pharmacy. He had overheard my husband complain about the two hour wait or tomorrow morning before we could get the prescriptions. He identified himself and asked if the pharmacist could have the prescriptions ready in ( he looked at me for a time) and told the pharmacist 20 minutes. The pharmacy closest to my house is a very busy place even with 2 pharmacists and 2 pharmacy techs working.

The pulmonologist smiled and hung up the phone. "It's in the works. It'll be ready just go through the drive-thru window. If it's not, call me back."
I thanked him and headed for the check-out desk, but he called me back. "How much oxygen does he have?"
I told him the concentrator, the 1lb cylinder, and half of a "D" cylinder.
He picked up the phone again and called our oxygen supply company. He uses the same one and they make deliveries 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. "Mike'll meet you at your house in an hour. Wouldn't want your hubby to do without if the power fails. If you need anything else just call." With that he smiled and turned towards his next patient's room.

The next visit is to his cardiologist. I've already warned my husband that he needs to think long and hard about a pacemaker. That the next step. He has skirted the issue for far too long.

Is it any wonder that I hand pick doctors and suppliers? In my mind choosing doctors should be done with care and thorough investigation. Doctors are like lawyers. A good one is hard to find, but when you do...hold onto them tight.

Meanwhile I'll be spending a few days away from here until he improves. Blogs are written for the week, but I won't be answering comments in a timely fashion like I usually do.

Take care and talk to you next week.

Monday Mailbox ~ Older NOT Ancient

It's Monday. Time to visit Tilda and answer your questions. Today's email is one of the type I really dislike answering, but here goes so it's out in the open. It has to do with my age and it's a negative letter.

Are you insane! You are talking about living off grid, continuing to write, and a host of other things after a stroke. Don't you realize that all these are warning signs of your advancing age and you just can't do it anymore? Get a grip woman! JT

My response...

Well JT, you have a right to your opinion and I'm thrilled to say that I don't agree with yours.  Insanity and age are just a state of mind. :oP

All my decisions are based on long hours of research, dreams, and logically thought out weighing both pros and cons. Ultimately, they are in the best interests for everyone involved.

On the other hand I'm the Queen of Abby Normal. All hail the Queen. Granted it's a self proclaimed title. I tend to have dreams which are doable in time. Some are far fetched but with a little ingenuity can be altered a bit with hard work but ultimately doable. I think outside the box whenever possible when faced with a wall and always have with whatever I have to work with.

Too old? Advancing years? Getting older? Can't do it anymore? Who says? I don't.
My favorite quotes are-

"If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds."
From the movie Galaxy Quest.
  Words to live by. I know I do.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~The Three Ps: Pee, Pads,and Pubic Hair

Being a lady, only lately, has incontinence been openly talked about. To me, nothing is totally sacred and taboo so I talk about it openly. Today there are a million commercials on television about urinary incontinence. Bladder control or uncontrolled is no longer a hush-hush subject. Although going out in public with urine soaked panties is still embarrassing. It's a dignity issue.

After a stroke, everyone sees the paralyzed limbs or hears the monotone or hesitant speech. But not many give thought to the unseen muscles that are paralyzed also within the body. The conscious effort a stroke survivor does to exercise these muscles to restore them or work around them like the throat, bowels, peritoneal, and the diaphragm. Those are are hidden inside. We strive for control and sometimes fail.

I make no secret about my urinary control issues over the past year and before. It's a natural process of the body and an integral functioning part. In computer lingo it's GIGO (garbage in garbage out). If you put food and liquids into the body it has to process the waste somehow.

I loss feeling or sensory deficits in very few places with my stroke and I am lucky. I didn't feel this way a year ago when I had my stroke, but now I'm grateful. Sure I walk around with the right side of my face full of Novocaine slightly wearing off. You know the sensation when it isn't the big lip but can't quite feel anything either. Yep that's the one. It make chewing an adventure. My coughing has changed. My husband who is 90% deaf can't hear me yell for help but comes running when I cough now from another room. I'll end up with bruises on my outer right leg and have no idea how I got them. But the most irritating loss is the sensation of having to pee without having to shift my body weight. Being unable to distinguish whether I have to urinate or defaecate is only a mild irritation since I'm on the commode already.

I transitioned from catheter to diapers to pads in a few short weeks. For this I'm forever thankful! Diane over at the Pink House blog still deals with these issues. While I may deal with these issues with my own DH (darling hubby), it's not a continuous issue like with her yet. She now blogs about clogged and catheter explosions.

I even save money buying menstrual pads now because of greater control. But have yet to transition to panties liners. Another huge step to work on. I still have the occasional accident but I am doing better. Now that I'm out and about more causes me to look where the bathrooms are anyplace I am to judge the distance, and the time needed to get there just in case.

With pads there are drawbacks because they really aren't meant to be worn day in and day out for a years. I've had diaper rashes because of the waterproof liners. While my children were in diapers they occasionally experienced this problem. I would coo and commiserate with their pain as I treated it. I was too young to remember my own bouts.

Until recently that is. Is anything more uncomfortable than a burning, itching, painful rash between the legs? Do you run to the doctor for it? Would you have someone else apply diaper rash medicine? It hurts to sit. It hurts to stand. It hurts when taking a step. It even hurts when you are lying down. Yeah some of you know what I'm talking about. The rest of you are just lucky. I recently saw a commercial for Balmex for adults. What a relief! It's not only me! If they are advertising it there must be millions.

The last thing in the title I wanted to address is pubic hair. (No, I wouldn't think about adding a picture) Yes, this is a risque subject sort of, but hey, I have very few taboos. Over at Amy Shissler's stroke blog earlier this month there was an interesting discussion on gray hair that took a turn to hilarious thanks to Barb Polan, Dean and I. The discussion turned from Amy finding her first gray hair, she's only 32, to balding, to finding your first gray pubic hair. I mentioned that the adhesive strips on my pads have made bald patches on my pubis. Why pay out huge amounts of money for bikini waxes...just get pads. The adhesive strips on those things will pull out hair follicles! So save money and use pads!

Yes, I'm starting a new trend... the polka dotted pub.

Nothing is impossible with determination

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Fun ~ At the Movies

Well not actually at the movies, but in my family room. But hey the seats are a lot more comfortable and with my external speakers, it's almost like the theater. I can microwave popcorn with the best of them plus it doesn't cost me two bucks.

Recently viewed was Skyfall. Yep, a good old James Bond flick.

I've been wanting to see this for a while so I bought it to go into our 007 collection. I don't particularly like Daniel Craig in his portrayal of the "license to kill agent." I'm a die hard Sean Connery or Pierce Bronson fan. But as always, I reserve the right to change my mind. I totally despised Timothy Dalton in the role.

For 50 years this franchise has gone through some growing pains, but has survived. That says a lot. Ian Fleming who wrote a novelized James Bond only had four of his sixteen books turned into movies, but the character has been immortalized in twenty-three flicks.

In Craig's two earlier recreation of Bond movies left a bad taste in my mouth, but this one was different. The old James Bond is back. This film is as fast paced as any other with sfx elements that defy belief until you see it.

The downside is "M," Dame Judi Dench, dies. A very gifted actress who makes every part her own. But not before some breath taking scenes like her reciting Tennyson to a crowded courtroom. She was actually the first "M" characterization I truly liked. She could stand toe-to-toe with Bond and take it as well as dish it out. A far cry from previous characterizations who only proved a foil for Bond's witty comebacks.

Javier Bardem portrays an excellent villain. Just crazy enough to be believable.  As for other characters, we break in a new "Q," which I didn't know stood for quartermaster, and a new Miss Moneypenny, Bond's long sidestepped flirt partner. What was noticeably missing was the "it girl," the Bond girl" present all the previous movies. While Raoul's mistress, Bérénice Marlohe, does a fairly good fill in, but I missed the Bond girl in this film.

Besides all that mentioned above, this was a good film and I'd recommend it to anyone. Overall, I'd give this an A+. It will only continue drawing a new audience with the this addition.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way ~ The Slumps

Today, I'm talking about the slumps that every writer faces at one  time or other in their writing career. Yes, it happens to all of us so don't feel like it's only you.

By the author blogs I've been reading lately, it's becoming an epidemic! About every third blog I've read in the past month has one author or another in it. That averages out to 75 authors.

It may be to summer heat, depression, not having a schedule, the busyness of life, or a host of a thousand other things. We all have things we have to do. Things like a job, a house, children, loved ones, uninspired, financial woes, and even deaths to deal with.

My current slump has lasted five months! I haven't written a new word in my manuscript for that long. Yes, I have filled in some words that my aphasia stole from my mind. Yes, I've corrected a few sentences. But not the 600 new words a week or month I promised myself when I first took on this project. Count, nada, zilch, the big goose egg of forward progress.

Is it frustration? Oh yes it is to the rafters.

BUT (this is a a three-letter words that grows ten feet tall)

I learned a long time ago...

Frustration leads to further frustration. It's hard to be creative when you are frustrated. It's a dog chasing its tail around and around. Don't fight it.

Stop kicking the dead dog trying to get it to move. You are your own worst enemy. Now if not writing is due to laziness on your part, this doesn't apply. But we all have limits and how far and fast we can push ourselves.

Deadlines are made to be broken especially self imposed deadlines. As indie authors we set our own deadlines. As traditionally published authors, yes we have deadlines but there is wiggle room built in.

Goals are flexible. They are based on what you can actually accomplish. Goals like shooting for 110,000 word manuscript is daunting at best especially with the schedules of have-to-dos piled a mile high.Shrink the goals into manageable pieces.  Set goals in 25K word increments and then go on to the next 25K. The first 25K and the middle 25K are the hardest to get through. When writing is tough how about 200 words?

Realize this all of this and move on. It's like the Serenity Prayer. I've quoted it often these past few months. There are things in my life which I cannot change and I have the wisdom to know it.

I am currently riding the waves until things calm down to a squall instead of a hurricane. No, this is not writer's block. I've stopped writing for a time. There is a big difference in the two. I know this because I've been through this before. Not for this long, but I know it will pass.

I have the courage to say this will pass and I will once again write again. I know this. I believe this. And, I look forward to this in the near future. There's not much a writer can go through that I haven't walked in their shoes. I've been at this for a every long time.

Along the path of writing there are stones in the road. You may have stubbed your toes on a few, or even tripped and fallen. Yes, there is pain involved, but in the grand scheme of are a writer. That's what you do. That is in essence of who you are as you sit there pounding away at a keyboard. Nobody ever promised that anything you wanted to do would not be without some sacrifices.

Again I say, realize this and move on.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Mailbox ~

It's time once again to answer your questions. Welcome to all you new readers and old readers alike. Today's mail comes all the way from Ceylon/Sri Lanka.

For those of you newer to this blog, you may not remember my novel, Escape from Second Eden, was based primarily on my time in that country. I'm constantly surprised by how many sales come from Ceylon and India in the past couple years. This one particularly touched my heart and I'd like to share it with you. Now to the email...

I loved the book and waiting on more along this line. What you described although fictionalized in your book brings back many memories for me also as a child during those times. I remembered your mother and the bicycle she bought me all those years ago. I know that part of the story was true.

Why did you choose that particular time in your life to write about? Vijaya R.

While we had visited many other countries prior to that assignment and since. Ceylon was special and stands out in my sister's and my mind. It haunted us for decades due to some of the occurrences. When I first started penning the novel, my little sister was scared. We never knew how much we could openly or privately talk about what went down during that time.

When I started writing and going through my old journals, I remembered so much more. After I wrote half of the novel I let my sister read it.
"Joey, what did you learn in Ceylon?" she asked me.
I thought about it and she could see me shuffling through the folders of memories in my mind.
"You know what I learned?"
"Tell me," I said.
"I learned Algebra, Geometry, French and fear!" she said.
I nodded then she broke down and cried.

This was thirty years afterwards and her response was just as strong as if it were yesterday. All I could do was hold her making little shushing sounds. While our parents always did their best to shelter us from the cruel, hard world, this time there was no shelter nor comfort. We were immersed to the drowning point. Every time we struggled to the surface for a breath of air, we were hit by waves driving us under again.

After forty years, I still feel that sensation when remembering some parts of it. But why fiction rather than nonfiction? Because I was told too by the powers that be plus I could heighten the background events behind the action and raise the stakes. I pieced many things together as an adult in hindsight of which I had no knowledge of at the time. It also allowed me to blow up the characters to larger than life and still be grounded in reality from a reader's perspective. That's the key to writing fiction. The reader must have a vested interest in the characters and be able to relate to the action from their point of view.

When I think of all the stories I'd written in nonfiction over the years, this one was the only one that was powerful enough for me to write about as fiction. Everything else paled in comparison. Even the five other novels I'd written couldn't hold a candle to this one.

So when I chose self-publishing, I chose my hardest hitting novel that I'd written to spearhead my break from traditional publishing. My novel writing, as in all of my nonfiction books, is all a piece of me that makes me me. As do all choices in life. I picked Smashwords because I'd heard great things about it in my writer circles. CreateSpace for paperback format rather than Lulu or some others for the same reasons.

Why did I choose to write about a nightmare period in my life... to exorcise the demons in my adversity closet, of course. We all have demons and skeletons in our closets that need to see the light of day, don't we? I yield a sword of light in writing them out into the open. Stab at the skeletons with the light until they evaporate into dust with my pen.

Vijaya, I remember you well and happy you survived when so many didn't. And the tsunami too. Glad to know you are still alright. Thanks for the memories and the smiles. Write again soon. I will keep writing the skeletons out of my over filled closet.

As for the rest of you, you never know who is touched by your writing.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ What Can a Limited Mobility Person Do?

As I sit here in front of my computer I ponder what a difference a little over a year makes once again. On my calendar the date is circled in red with blue stars and no, not for the belated 4th of July weekend. I had written in "Moving Day."

No this isn't mine but close
(Hitting the rewind button on my tape player)Today was the date we'd set to move our tiny house on wheel onto our property to begin homesteading our compound. Even though it would only be part-time for the next six months. We had planned to start constructing the out buildings like the chicken house and pens.

Now this house plan sits idle with just the stack of recycled lumber and the 8x12 trailer frame sitting in my side yard still waiting to be completed. Where did I get recycled lumber from? Two places. My 12 x 22 foot playhouse was torn down because of flood water damage and was replaced, and my son in law is a contractor. There are all sorts of goodies he found for the project like doors and windows, and a host of electrical equipment which would have gone to a landfill somewhere because someone was upgrading or there just wasn't enough for another large building job.

I had some shingles leftover from the original playhouse which was slated for my roof. I searched high and low for apartment sized electric appliances because most RV equipment runs off propane and I didn't want to go that route. My tiny house was to be solar and wind powered. There was to be a gutter rain water catch system similar to the one installed in my home. The master bed would be a futon with a thick, cushy mattress on the ground floor instead of in the loft and the loft area would be storage. That's the plan anyhow.

(My tape player makes a funny sound as I quickly punch the stop button and fast forward to the present.) All of that changed with my stroke. As I said all of it is sitting under cover waiting for me to get my arm back enough to do the work involved. Maneuvering around the tiny space will not be a problem. In fact, it would be easier than my home. I just have to build it. Yes, I could get my son in law and grandsons build it for me, but I want to build it myself with their's a goal to work towards.

In the meantime work continues on the property. Three wells have been dug to various levels depending on the use. Livestock, laundry, and gardens don't need to thirty-foot wells for pure water like humans prefer. The shallow wells all have hand pumps. Our "little" family did that by hand a weekend at a time. Three more deep wells are planned.

The pond is finished and complete with a solar powered aeration pump. Duck weed is growing by leaps and bounds uneaten by fish and livestock yet, and the snails are healthy so my organic fish/swimming pond is ready to go. The baby bass and brim are on order for stocking it. The stumps have been cleared for six home sites. Although only one is needed right now for one daughter and her family. My husband and I plan on staying in our tiny house. It's just moving at a much slower pace than I want it to.

Yes, God is working on my impatience issues. I just wish He'd hurry up. Still I'm still working on researching various aspects of homesteading. Currently it is hydroponics for the greenhouse, another out building on hold. Obtaining knowledge, and the trial and error period is done before we move onto the compound. Once we go off grid, that's it. The only concession is the need for modern medicine, but in a pinch I've got substitutes for almost anything.

Yes, that's free pallets and a tarp
I really don't want large animals like cows and horses. They are just too expensive to maintain and I really don't like the idea of a large animal knocking me off my feet. Ducks and chickens for eggs, and meat. With the added benefit of free organic fertilizer. They even partially till the soil with their scratching and keep the bug population down. Two of my daughters have already started raising their flocks of layers and meat.

Rabbits for meat and fur for sweaters. Ooh! Angora sweaters!  Angoras and other breeds are in the hutches waiting for the move. I haven't figured out a way to knit one-handed but then I haven't tried either. The ultimate in luxurious warmth. Hey, just because I'm homesteading doesn't mean I can't have creature comforts and be stylish too.

Goats for milk, cheese and meat. With the goats you get the added benefit that they will clean out the undergrowth and keep the grassy areas clipped. Everything has dual or triple purposes. I haven't gotten the goats yet because of my stroke and a limit on how much I can do in an urban setting.

So what can a person with limitations, like me, do? Anything I darn well please to do with adjustments.
  • How about home schooling the rugrats? I do hold a degree in education up to middle school. But a degree isn't necessary.
  • Teaching other adults how to prepare food for long term storage or homesteading.
  •  How about all those free range, organically fed eggs? We can only eat so many at a time. Someone has to negotiate with stores and set delivery schedules.
  • Being a chef once upon a time, I did a lot of butchering. Deer meat, chickens, ducks, and goats all need to be processed. Notice I don't mention daughter and I are allergic to pork. 
  • I can fish with some assistance with baiting and unhooking the fish. That's what I have grandchildren for. <big, fat grin> 
  • While I may be limited in motion, I guarantee I can still supervise and teach. 
  • I can feed and care for my chickens and rabbits. Although I need assistance with the slaughter. That's a two-handed job.
  • Think of creative recycling projects. Nothing goes to waste.
  • I still can harvest eggs and cook.  
  • I am a survivalist at heart.

I really don't like being limited. Who does? But there is still plenty I can and will do. I'm just spreading my wings this year. I might take flight next year or the year after.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Fun ~ Searching to Allievate Boredom

Since my stroke, I've been severely limited in things I can do for personal enjoyment. I can read. Watch T.V. or movies, or putter around in my garden. I garden before 10AM and after 7PM. The heat just saps too much of my strength.  For most that would be enough, but not for me. So I'm searching for ways to alleviate my boredom.

I cannot knit, crochet, or quilt yet until I get some semblance of fine motor skills in my left arm.  I tried drawing and painting last week and it was taxing at best with no joy in it. I'm not giving up just lowering my expectations quite a bit. So meanwhile I'm playing with silly putty with my left hand to build more finer movements. My left hand is not paralyzed. I can only do that so much before I get bored, usually after an hour.

Sure I've got my computer games but I find myself nodding off after an hour or my brain gets tired. Before I wasn't lacking in things to do and try. Yes, I'm cooking more which I love to do, but we can only eat so much and my neighbors are stocked up with goodies too. I'm BORED! I've never been bored in my life so this is an alien feeling for me.

I even had a go of making my own laundry detergent and dish soap a couple of weeks ago. As a result, I have enough laundry and dish soap to last us a year doing laundry three times a week and dishes twice a day. (ten gallons of liquid laundry soap and three gallons of dish soap) I've already got enough liquid body and bar soap to bathe us and our grandchildren for a year.  When it costs pennies to make versus buying it for a buck, I'll take the pennies.

The chickens and rabbits only take minimal care now. I've held off breeding them for the time being. I'll wait until September when the temperature drops slightly below 90 degrees. Although I do miss my chicks hatching and bunnies being born. But I also realize that the butchering will take more energy than I have in this heat.

I guess I could felt my bag of dryer lint into flat sheets or potholder batting. Or spin the Angora hair I've collected over the past year into yarn, but since I can't do needlework right now that's a mute point. Neither option holds my interest at this time. I need the challenge of doing something new. For me that's what's fun.

Have any ideas? What do y'all do for fun?

Enough poor, pitiful mes. Time for a chuckle...

If you've read my blog you know I had a handi-capable demolition and reconstruction project going on for the past two months. My youngest daughter, Jenn, and my oldest granddaughter, Sabrina (12) were packing up my old office to turn it into a family room. My granddaughter ran across our collection of record albums.

 Sabrina said, "Aunt Jenn, what do we do with these books?"
Jenn chuckle and told her they were music albums.
Sabrina pulled out one of the records and her jaw dropped. "That must be a mighty big CD player."
Jenn almost was rolling on the floor with laughter and then showed Sabrina to the turntable.
"You mean they drove around with one of these in their car?"

What a difference a couple of decades make. The same conversation ensues with my cassette tapes and 8-tracks. After that Sabrina just called it "this stuff" and showed Jenn.

Have a great fun Friday. If you have a suggestion for me, let me have it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way ~ There's a Difference in Dialogue

Should proper grammar be used throughout your book? NO.

I recently proofed a novel that had been previously edited by an English teacher for an adult audience. Now I have nothing against English teachers, I was a ESL (English as Second Language) teacher for a dozen years or more because of my ability to speak several languages fluently. Not that speaking several languages is a prerequisite.

Every sentence was perfectly correct in grammar and spelling even the dialogue. One of the characters in the book was a tween. Another was from the south, and yet another was from New York. Now all have distinct speech patterns, agreed? I asked the author if she knew anyone who spoke in perfectly correct English. Kids and adults are possibly going to cuss and they are going to use slang. Just like a child is not going to make adult like decisions or have the same thought processes, it jerks the reader out of the story when they cannot suspend disbelief.

As a result of this teacher's editing, her characters came off like paper dolls and two dimensional. With constant reminders like, "in a southern drawl, XXXXXX said." Now as a reader, I want to see the character as a southerner dropping his "g's," and using words like "fixin' to" and "ain't" not read repeatedly that this kid had a southern drawl or dropped his "g's." I don't want to be told every time they open their mouth.  I find this plain irritating even if it's grammatically correct.

In the end I asked the author if she wrote these characters this way. She answered, no those were editing suggestions for corrections. I asked to see the unedited version. I was right, she originally wrote those characters in full fledged dialect, and they came alive for me and jumped off the page as I read through the original copy of the book. Granted there were tons of grammatical errors too. But the author had the right idea of how her characters should be presented but not strong grammar skills. Just imagine Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, without slang and dialect.

Now I can understand the teacher's stand point if she was told to correct the grammar errors, she did that. I didn't find one grammatical error in the edited copy. But the teacher was not a novelist. A novelist has license to kill the English language in dialogue and a few other places. You have to know grammatical rules to break them and where. One word can be a sentence. Heck, for Stephen King one word was a whole chapter. Anyone remember what that one word was or which book besides me?

So the caveat to this blog...
Be cautious on who edits your novel. A teacher is okay if the teacher is also an novelist. There are insights a novelist can use that has nothing to do with grammar which brings your story alive. When choosing an editor for your book look at what they have edited before.

Keep writing and loving the Lord. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Mailbox ~ Spotlighting- Alex J. Cavanaugh

Instead of answering e-mails today, I am choosing to spotlight an author/blogger today. I'll answer your emails next Monday. Today I'm shining the spotlight on none other than the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh. You may recall that I've mentioned him several times on this blog.

Back in 2011, I took a chance on an unknown author who wrote a sci-fi book called CassaStaR. I didn't know he was an online blogger guru and all-star at the time.

The Blurb (which caught my attention)
Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

In watching the video book trailer before my purchase only enhanced my curiosity and made me chance the $2.51 asking price for my Kindle. Watch it here. I never regretted my purchase.

Then in 2012, Alex published a second book, CassaFirE. Being how I loved the first book, there was no hesitation in purchasing the second. By this time, I found his blog via a writer's forum friend I follow. I read through his blogs and have ever since then. They are entertaining. He pays it forward by promoting other authors and bloggers.

The Blurb
From the Amazon best-selling author - CassaStar was just the beginning… The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather. The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities. To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Catch the book trailer here.

On his blog he states that his next one, CassaStorM, will be the last book that he'll write. I read this with sadness while I eagerly await the third installment of the Cassa series in September.  I've thoroughly enjoyed Alex's books. I even signed up for a free copy on Goodreads. Not that I'll have any chances of winning one of the six copies, but hey, it's a shot. To sign up click here. I hope September 17th gets here fast.

Check out his newly released book trailer for CassaStorM here.

No, I'm not part of his Ninja army. Just a ninja in real life. <g>I'm just one of his many fans. He writes an impressive blog too. If you are not following him you should be. He believes in paying it forward. Movie and book reviews, trivia, blog referrals, and something for just about everyone even insecure writers.

How to stalk Alex J. Cavanaugh

Blogspot from there you can follow him with Bloglovin', Linky
AMAZON Author Page
Or you can sign up for his blog to be emailed to you.

Happy Reading and waiting in anticipation with me for CassaStorM.

Just a nod to my favorite Ninja Captain and darn good author.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ "Please Sir, I Want Some More."

I have come to the realization that stroke survivors are a glutton for punishment in regards to physical and occupational therapy. We are like Oliver in Charles Dicken's play Oliver Twist...'Please, sir, I want some more.'

I find myself back in physical therapy after my latest round on Botox injections. I laid or sat on the mat for the initial evaluation and I'm talking to the therapist. "A little more, pain level about a 5, that's it." Because the spasticity kicks in and my pain level shoots to about a 7. I feel like Oliver being the only voice speaking up in a large group.

Granted other aphasic stroke patients can't verbalize as well as I can. Many others just do not speak up. I tend to be very vocal. I'll talk you through my therapy routine. If you don't communicate with your therapists, you are only hurting yourself.

I call my therapist a terrorist to her face and she laughs. She knows I don't really mean it. I asked for this, almost demanded it. It's the only way for me to regain the use of my affected side. I know if my limits are not pushed there is no improvement.

I use pain as an indicator. I'll push until I reach 7 out of 10 because even my heart attack was only a 7 out of 10. Then have been a few occasions when I've hit a 10. When I was shot. When I was in a helicopter crash. When I fell down a flight of stairs in an apartment complex and broke several bones. It is not an enjoyable feeling. At 7, I may have tears rolling down my face and my words will catch. At 10, there will be tears, my mouth will open and close but no sound will come out. So if I'm talking to you, I'm fine.

Even if I can't speak like the early days of my stroke, the nurses and I worked out a set of signals. At 7, my hand will be slapping the bed. At 10, my eyes are shut tight and my functioning hand is in a fist. Again, if I'm making noise, I'm okay.

In some ways, I think my therapists appreciate my candor. I have worked with many of them over the years on various assorted parts of my body. I know they don't intentionally want to do me harm. Their job is to help me get better. In my mind, if I don't tell them; they don't know. I am very opinionated and vocal so you can image how my aphasia affects me.

I'm always fair. I give them the benefit of doubt. I weigh
everything in pros and cons. Nothing is all terrible or all fantastic. I'll try anything until I can prove it doesn't work. There have been plenty of times I've been skeptical and been proven wrong.

Like the OT's use of the fluidotherapy machine on my paralyzed hand and wrist. I couldn't see how grit and warm circulating air would enable me to move my hand. I thought it was a useless, waste of time for about a month. Then I noticed how relaxed my hand and wrist were after spending a few minutes in the machine. I'm not totally sold on it yet, but I'm starting to see some benefits. Now, I'll ask for it or paraffin before stretching.

While I will work my paralyzed extremities at home. I'll wearing the braces and supports until pain causes me to take them off. I'm proactive in my therapy or as much as I can be. So haven't the therapists taught me how to do everything by now? Probably. Possibly enough for me to do most at home, so why do I go? They can get better angles working on and with me than I can do by myself. I've used headboards, footboards, shower curtain rods, and assorted other things to mimic what they do at home, but still it takes two hands and sometimes a knee to pull and stretch muscles out to the fullest and keep everything aligned. That I can't do by myself.

So I'll continue to be a glutton for punishment and ask, "Please sir, I want some more."

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Fun ~ Shopping, Not!

I am a strange female. I hate shopping. I hate it with a passion. When all my teenage friends went malling, as it is known now, I preferred to stay home with a book. When my new in laws made their yearly shopping trip...I only did it once, to my peril. I made excuses of why I couldn't go later so as not to hurt their feelings.

When I go shopping I have a plan and a list. It entails at most three shops per day. Don't get me wrong, I may stop and browse a thing or two in between what I'm looking for. That's it. Otherwise, I'm just wasting time and energy. My only exception is the grocery store.

I hate clothes shopping. Since my stroke, I hate it even more!  I know hate is a strong word, but I can't think of another word to describe my feelings on the subject. Shopping is never fun when shopping for clothes. Either I like it and can't find my size, or can't find what I'm looking for in the color I want.

So this Friday I'm doing what I most dread...clothes shopping and finding a purse to carry what I need. Last summer I wore t-shirts and boxer short, mens. I was spending most of my time in therapy or at home. This year I'm looking for some feminine shorts that pull on and are fairly loose fitting like the boxers without the slit in the front.

It's harder to find than you think. I'm short and kind of rounded in body shape. Yeah, yeah I need to loose some weight but until that time I have to have something to wear. It gets 100+ degrees here in the summer and it lasts until October or November. I have a short inseam with my short legs so standard mid calf shorts end under my knees. Now for all of my added weight, I have nice legs barring the AFO. They are one of my better features and I don't have thunder thighs just big hips. Maybe some running shorts that come to mid-thigh on me, but it has to have pockets. I don't want to fool with zippers and buttons one-handed.

I'm also looking for one of those sling purses that drape across the body so I can carry things like my Kindle with me. It won't fit in my pockets. I don't want things to get lost in the bottom like keys or my wallet. There again my body proves the snag. I have some rather well endowed twins but am short waisted. What hangs around the hip for most women hits about my knees. It can't hang lower than my hips because I walk with a cane. It will trip me up and throw off my balance.

Believe it or not I had a shoe and purse fetish at on time. Not as bad as Emelda Marcos but a lot. I have 25 pairs of high heels with about half that number in purses. Add to that my flats I bought after I tore my Achilles tendon so the number rises to 50. None of the purses suit my needs because they are small and at most shoulder length straps. A lot of clutch bags all from the days when I wore suits for business and formal wear. I really need to clean out my closet, but who wears a size 4 1/2 to 5 1/2, narrow width shoe these days?

The clincher is no matter what I buy it has to be cheap and by cheap I mean under $10 each. I'm on a very limited income these days. While these things are a necessity, I hate to spend the money on me when my husband, grandchildren, or children need it more.

So that's what I'm after on this fun Friday. Wish me luck. May I find all in the first store I hit.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way ~ Why I Write Suspense Fiction

As a writer and author you write what you read. The same is true for me. As a writer, never underestimate the power of what you read and how it shapes you as a writer.  You may read in trends for the short term but you always return to a favorite. This process starts from early childhood and follows you to present day if you like of it.

So in this blog today we examine me and why I write suspense.

I've always loved a good mystery and suspense filled adventurous books even as a child. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, was the first book I can remember that fits the bill. Yes, good, old Dr. Seuss. Followed quickly by The Cat in the Hat. My mother bought the series of Dr. Seuss books for us girls as children and at night taught herself how to read English with them.

Having a grandmother, who was a librarian in a tiny Nebraska town, put the final nail in the coffin as my love for reading grew and was nurtured. No matter where we were in the world, birthdays were celebrated with books usually one of the Nancy Drew series.

As life if our life style of danger, suspense, and mortal fear in real life wasn't enough, I craved the action/adventure/suspense genre. To me it was normal life with a twist while other readers read them to get action/adventure/danger in their lives. So when I started writing poetry, my early attempts at writing, it was geared not at images of fluffy clouds and teddy bears, but evil things in life. Although I did tone it down when I wrote pieces for school.

I even won an award for my school poetry judged by none other than Arthur C. Clarke. He became a fast friend and mentor to a wide eyed teenager. Although I must admit it, was more on my side than his. He probably thought me a nuisance and a pesky kid but graciously let me carry on with my intrusion into his life. I've read everything he's ever written and even collected some of his signed first editions.

He was a favored guest at many dinner parties and luncheons in Ceylon when I was there so I talked to him in moon eyed awe. I dreamed of writing science fiction one day. But I knew I could never write as well as him and it seemed an insult to try although he encouraged me to.

During my teenage years I continued to write teenage poetry of teenager angst and short stories. I continued to read but added Shakespeare and nonfiction to my reading repertoire. I loved the classics although I shied away from romances. If I read a romance it had to have a wicked twist to it like Romeo and Juliet.

To this day I'll read only a smattering of romance novels.

They have to have a twist like Anya Seton's Green Darkness or paranormal romance. It can't all be about girl finds boy, girl loses boy or overcome tremendous obstacles, and boy and girl live happily ever after. There has to be that twist. Historical significance or strange. I think that's why I read Nicholas Sparks. It's not all happy endings because real life isn't. I'm grounded that way.

In my young adult life there were other authors that influential in my writing career. There are many authors that live in the Golden Isles. I rub elbows with most of them. We bounce ideas off each other all the time. Most notably was Eugenia Price when she was writing her Lighthouse series and I was helping her with research. She was a neighbor of a great aunt in law. But even with her encouragement, I chose to write nonfiction to help others. Branching out into fiction was my choice for me. I chose suspense because that's what I loved best reading.
So why do I write suspense? It's the twists and turns within the novel. It's leading the reader down the primrose path and jerking them every which way but loose. I love putting the reader on a roller coaster blind folded. Just as I like to read. It's my own, personal, long lasting love affair in reading so isn't it natural for me to write it?

Now for the plugs and examples of my roller coaster ride blindfolded in writing.

In Escape from Second Eden, it's the roller coaster ride of international intrigue of embassy life. It's where a insignificant embassy guard's wife is drawn into the world of international power plays for control on the world stage. When this pawn on the cheese board's family is threatened, she pulls out all the stops to protect her family and escape the madness. How far will she go and will she succeed?

In The Sacrificial Lamb, you are told who the murderer is right up front, but the roller coaster comes ride takes off from there in proving his guilt. This was told through the eyes of a child and the only witness. Another nice twist. What's a child to do when the killer want her silenced permanently?

In the Zombie Apocalypse series, or it will be when I finish writing them, it's about survival against the zombie horde.  If it didn't have zombies it would be in the medical or eco-friendly suspense genre because it it is almost totally about self-sufficiency. What's a small group to do when the odds are stacked against them?

This book is my best seller so far out stripping my others by hundreds of copies sold ensuring a royalty check each month or quarter in the self-publishing arena. All of my novels contain the unexpected twists and turns just like my real life. The reader gains seconds to gain their breath before I put them in a loop-de-loop on the roller coaster. Although my real life is not so dangerous anymore, I have plenty of skeletons in my closet to write about for the next hundred books, if I live that long.

Even my nonfiction has elements of suspense if not suspenseful humor. While my current WIP takes a serious switch from my norm and it is strictly the humorous look at stroke recovery, it's not without some suspense. I can't help it...I'm a suspense fiction writer in all forms.

So as you can see my past echoes my present. While many writers write what they know and love, I bring an element of truth to my fiction works my life experiences. That's what separates me from other suspense writers.

Did it really happen? Could it really happen? Muhahah! Only I know for sure. I am the suspense with a soul writer!

Keep writing and loving the Lord.