Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ice, ice baby

It's the Good News, Bad News thing: The Good News: it's not that bad. The Bad News: it still hurts.

I'm an avid walker, and I always get in my 70K a week. For about a month, I've been plagued by a painful right foot. Just one spot on the foot. I thought, "Yikes. Bunyon? Bone spur?"

Went to the podiatrist and he x-rayed it (rather a nifty machine, I must say). The Good News: "You have marvelous bones. All straight and good, no problem."

The Bad News: no problem. Probably a ligament inflammation. Maybe muscle strain. Options? Quit walking (not an option, really). Or ice. I always have an ice pack in the freezer, so no biggie. I now prop up the hoof every night, plop the ice pack on it, and so far, it's working okay. The pain is diminishing except for those moments when it's excruciating. Which are few and far between. And luckily, we're leaving the winter months, so I don't really mind a pile of ice sitting on my foot (or so I keep reminding myself).

Another good part of this: it immobilizes me. Anyone who knows me knows that I seldom sit for long periods of time (unless forced to do so by circumstance). I am always getting up, moving around, pacing, moving. But with an ice bag on one foot, a cat draped over the other one, a pile of sewing on my lap, and a glass of wine close at hand: I am immobile and often remain so for long periods. Which is all helping the healing.

And it's helping my manuscript. I keep a notepad at hand and jot ideas as I sit, often sketching out an entire chapter in one sitting.

Maybe there's something to this "sit and be still" stuff I hear about...

J L
(jayellwilson.com)


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Spring Cleaning by Sorchia DuBois


Hey Roses and Readers, please welcome Sorchia DuBois as guest blogger today.


It’s the time of year when winter’s dust hangs heavy in the air and everything in the entire house seems dirty.

Time to wash blankets and comforters and hang them in the sun.  Time to scrub the floors, dust the shelves, and then move outside to clean up the gardens.

This year, spring cleaning also means putting the finishing touches on a couple of works in progress which have been lingering through the winter.  Revision and self-editing is hard work!

Elmore Leonard (famous guy, author of Get Shorty and a boatload of crime and suspense thrillers) said, “Try to leave out the parts readers skip.”

Easy to say, Elmore, old buddy. My words are all golden and tossing any of them out is about as easy as chopping of a thumb.

Stephen King (also a famous guy and author of nightmares for over fifty years) advises writers to “kill your darlings.” Steve—bubby––have a heart! Oh, yeah. Nevermind.

But, of course, both of these guys are 100% correct. So here’s my question to you as readers, writers, citizens of the world—what parts do you habitually skip?

Here is a list—by no means exhaustive—of things I tend to skim over. And let me preface this by saying I am as guilty of any other writer of foisting elements of a similar ilk on an unsuspecting and undeserving public. I try not to. I get stuff betaed and edited, but sometimes when I look at a story I wrote in the misty past—BLAM, there it is.

Descriptions

I love Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott, Edgar Alan Poe, and various other authors considered classic literary figures. But boy could they talk. As a young reader, I did skip those pages-long descriptions of everything from characters to scenery to the lineage of minor characters. As an . . .ahem . . .more mature reader, I kind of  enjoy those parts and linger over them like a fragrant dram of a very old single malt Scotch. So I think an appreciation for descriptive prose may come with  . . .ahem again . . .maturity. That said, Sweet Mother Merryweather, sometimes enough is enough.

Meaningless Dialogue

I once started to read a book which began with a detailed conversation over breakfast. I know the author was trying to build character and achieve a sense of time and place and situation, but geez. We had things like:

“Pass the salt.”

“Here’s the salt.”

“Would you like the pepper?”

“Yes, please hand me the pepper.”

No kidding. That’s how it BEGAN. And it went on like that for six pages. She did a bit of description and included some action tags (i.e. Charles passed the salt.) But all in all, what little I learned about the characters and the situation could have been accomplished with a couple of lines of dialogue and an action tag. I skipped a bunch of it, thumbed ahead a bit to find more of the same, and put the book aside thinking maybe, when I had time and patience, I would pick it up again. Never did.

Backstory dump

Pages and pages of backstory. Things you need to know but presented in a dizzying whirl of characters, conflicts, plot twists. And it’s still an info dump if one character talks for seemingly hours about past events the other character would be well-aware of.

I’ve done it! The best advice I ever got was to include only the info the reader needs to know to understand that particular scene—no more, but no less. If you do that, you eventually get them brought up to speed and they enjoy the journey. That’s the theory, anyway. Easy to say, hard to do.

Other

I could include things like unlikeable or insipid character descriptions, stereotypical characters and plots, purple prose, problems with unity or flow, errors in historical fact—all things I admit to doing as a writer but try to fix and all things that may doom a book to banishment for me as a reader.

So tell me, dear reader/writer/citizen, how should I prioritize my literary spring cleaning? What needs to be tossed in the trash with last year’s magazines and those lids to plastic containers I no longer have? Leave a comment with something I can add to my Spring Cleaning To-Do list.

 A little note: Catch up with me at WWW.SorchiaDuBois.com for updates on these pesky works in progress, a monthly giveaway, and spooky, creepy things that say “BOO” at unexpected times. It’s always Halloween in Sorchia’s Universe.

And check out my latest release Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones before book 2 in the series hits the virtual book stands Summer 2017.

Blurb

Granny’s dying, but Zoraida can save her with a magic crystal of smoky quartz. Too bad the crystal is in Scotland––in a haunted castle––guarded by mind-reading, psychopathic sorcerers.



Getting inside Castle Logan is easy. Getting out––not so much. Before she can snatch the stone, Zoraida stumbles into a family feud, uncovers a wicked ancient curse, and finds herself ensorcelled by not one but two handsome Scottish witches. Up to their necks in family intrigue and smack-dab in the middle of a simmering clan war, Zoraida and her best friend Zhu discover Granny hasn’t told them everything.



Not by a long shot.



Buy Links

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/ZGandFSBN



Wild Rose Press:http://bit.ly/ZGandFSWR



Excerpt

“You always assume I can’t take care of myself.” I pull away and take a couple of tottering uncertain steps into the chilly, dark hallway. He catches me, hoisting me into his arms again.

“Is it so hard to admit you are frightened? The place is a labyrinth. They’ll find your frozen corpse in the cellar if you aren’t careful. You’ve had a difficult day and a lot to drink.”

“I’m not frightened and I’m not drunk and I’m not helpless.” I think about that for a minute. “Well, I’m not helpless.”

“I quite like carrying you around.” His voice rumbles against my hair. “I won’t always be here to save you from the dark.”

“I don’t need you to save me from anything.” My tone is unconvincingly weak, and the fact that my head is plastered against his shoulder does not aid my case.

The darkness is complete, but he strides down the hall with surety. Up a flight of stairs, down another hallway. He sets me on my feet outside my room. I sway, steadying myself with a hand on his chest, twining my fingers in the dark hair peeping through the front of his robe.

“You need to be careful.” He moves closer, covering my hand with his own.

“Of what?”

The draft in the hallway chills me clear through— except where he touches me. Tense and warm, inches away. His breath on my cheek tastes of whisky. I close my eyes, imagining the scratch of the stubble on his face, the soft touch of his lips, the solid strength of his arms.

“Of everything. Everyone.” With a jolt, he releases me. A blue shimmer recedes down the hallway with the sound of his steps. I lean against the door, shivering.

He doesn’t trust me. It takes a powerful wizard to wield something like the Stone of Adamantine. Michael and Ursula fit the description. So does Shea. And so, they all imagine, do I.

Bio

Sorchia Dubois writes Gothic romance and paranormal mysteries from her upstairs office overlooking a piney Ozarks woods

Her books delve into the occult—reincarnation, psychic powers, mysticism, ancient cultures, and good old fashioned “ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night.” 

A proud member of the Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at swilling Scotch at Scottish events. 


Friday, March 24, 2017

Loveable Desert by Brenda Whiteside

Apache Lake
I live in Arizona and have most of my life. I was born in Phoenix, and until I married a man in the Army, I'd barely gotten outside the state. I never liked the heat or the desert so following him to Massachusetts, Germany, and Florida was exciting. Florida was a little sticky in the summer, but the greenery and water made me happy.

After the Army, we moved around some more and returned to
Arizona several times. Now we're back for good. I've found if I stay north of Phoenix, I like Arizona. There are picturesque mountains, areas with snow, and the northern prairies are lovely. The desert is more lush too. The heat not so bad.

This year we had much needed rain. There are plants in the desert that can lie dormant for years waiting for that rain. Orange, yellow, and purple flowered bushes dot the landscape. My allergies are giving me hell, but the beauty of a high desert in bloom is easy on the eyes.

My five book Love and Murder Series is set mainly in the northern
Near Tonto Basin
mountains and prairies of Arizona. Four books are available and the fifth will be ready later in the year.

Check Out All Of My Books On Amazon

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Now It's the Hero's Turn by Margo Hoornstra


 Beautiful Niagara Falls


At the risk of boring readers silly with my attempt at promo for the box set, All In For Love: A Lucky 7 Anthology coming out in June, I have more to share. As many know by now, my contribution is titled For Money or Love. Having introduced Lindsey Carr in my last couple of posts, I figured Dan Montgomery should have at least a bit of time in the spotlight.

Please join my characters at the LaBonne Chance Casino in Victory, New York near the always beautiful Niagara Falls with more from For Money or Love.

She’s one woman he can’t afford to lose...

Mega-millionaire Daniel Winston Montgomery lives to work. Money means everything to Dan, and he’ll do whatever it takes to preserve his wealth. His brilliant top assistant, Lindsey Carr, is essential to his firm’s continued success. Though, truth be told, he needs Lindsey far more than he she needs him…

Computer Brainiac Lindsey Carr wants more out of life than being no more than boring tech support. Convinced Dan and his company will survive just fine without her, she tenders her resignation. He’s never required more from her than her superior analytical skills, except for that one time she won’t let herself think about…

Unwilling to let Lindsey go, Dan must fight to keep her in his life. In a clash of priorities, will he choose money…or love?



Here's a taste of the story from Dan's point of view:

“Don’t worry, Rory.” Dan Montgomery flattened his palms on top of the large black lacquered conference table and leaned toward who was clearly his most exasperating client. “We’ve run into this type of glitch before. It’s a relatively easy fix.”

“I sure as hell hope you’re right.” The man across from him reached into the pocket of his grey pin striped suit coat for a handkerchief he mopped across a flushed forehead. “Check that. You damn well better be right.”

 “I know I am.” Dan flexed his elbows to move in closer and wished to hell Lindsey was here to back him up.

Blunt fingers shoved the sweat dampened material into his pants pocket. “Every second that software of yours doesn’t work right is costing my employers money.”

“I get that. Your up time sucks.”

Rory’s brow creased far enough to draw down the top of his bald head. “What the hell does that mean?”

“Uptime. The amount of time your systems are functioning properly.”

“Which is not nearly enough. But, it’s the down time I’m concerned about. I got a boatload of that. I talked my people at La Bonne Chance into buying your high priced product and it’s not working right.”

Dan did his utmost to stay in control. Correction! Upware 6.8 is not being utilized right. If Lindsey were here, she’d have a tactful way to say user failure. Teeth gritted, he took time to swallow before opening his mouth. “As soon as I can remote into your system and get an in depth look, we’ll have the issues you’re having identified and repaired.”

“If you can accomplish that in the next couple of days, you’ll save me more than a few million bucks.”

“Won’t be a problem.”  As Rory talked, he’d mentally formulated a probable solution. Now all was left to do was bounce the concept off Lindsey. Get her to fine tune the process, then start implementation. With a wrist flick he checked his watch. As a tribute to his confidence in their star programmer, Dan took a chance as he went on. “With any luck, we’ll have it done yet today.”

“I got no use for luck. What I expect are results.”

A sharp retort thundered to the forefront of Dan’s tongue. He bit it back. To think I got dressed up for this. When Rory called the day before to say he’d be over for a face to face meeting, Dan figured he’d better suit and tie up for the occasion.

“Name one time we’ve not given you results.” He slammed both hands down hard on the table top. An array of empty coffee cups in its center rattled.

Eyes wide, Rory’s head jerked back as if Dan had just taken a swing at him. Then he blinked and smiled. “I guess I deserved that.”

Arms folded over his chest, he made no comment one way of the other. The fact Rory was one of his initial clients when he first started out afforded him a pass. This time.

When Dan kept silent, Rory spoke up again. “I do appreciate you not holding a grudge when we dropped your product. Temporarily.”

Dan shrugged then and uncrossed his arms. “You made a business decision. That’s all.”

Rory’s head came up. “The damned board of directors made a business decision. A bad business decision when they decided to take the cheaper bid from your competitor. I was out voted.”

Dan seriously questioned whether Rory’s version of his casino’s desertion as a client was entirely true but didn’t call him on it. “Either way, we can get you re-established with an updated download.”

“You’d come by personally to oversee that, right?”

To a casino? Oh hell no.

Dan held in the knee jerk reply then couldn’t answer right away. Not that Rory would grasp the concept, but these days most of their clients were miles away from Victory, New York. Some even in other countries. Personal, on site visits were hardly the norm at UpTech. “Depends on my schedule.”

Rory shrugged. “I was kind of looking for that assistant of yours to be here this morning. Lindsey.”

That makes two of us.

“She doesn’t generally come in until nine.” And I wasn’t about to ask her to come in early for you.

“Wish I’d known that. I missed seeing her.”

Dan’s nod was automatic. Same as always when someone mentioned Lindsey’s value to his company. “She does contribute a lot.”

The man moved his hand to graze over his belt buckle. “That too.”

“Looks like we’re done here.” Coming around the table, Dan raised his right arm to circle his client’s shoulders then maneuvered both of them toward the conference room door.



*****
My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and the stories I write, please visit my website


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Curse of the Grammar Nerd ~ Leah St. James

The first thing I do on Sunday morning (after reading the Roses of Prose blog, of course!) is open the Sunday paper. I know, I know, I'm a dinosaur. But since I work for the organization in my "day job," and I answer calls from readers who are generally ticked off about one thing or another, it behooves me to arm myself with knowledge before heading to the office on Monday morning. (Although I read the eNewspaper on my phone, so maybe not such a dinosaur?) :-) 

I start with the "centerpiece" stories on the front page (A1), move to the publisher's feedback column on A2, then work my way back to the editorial and letters to the editor, and so on. This Sunday I made it all the way to A5 before I found my first uh-oh moment.

It was a headline about a third of the way down the page. I couldn't get to the story itself because I got stuck on the headline:  "Virginia is for felons? 1980's petty theft law lingers," by two reporters from the Associated Press.




Did you catch it, the misplaced apostrophe? At least I assumed it was misplaced, because here's what I learned about how apostrophe placement/usage affects the meaning:

1980's = something "belonging to" or attributed to the year 1980
So as I read it, it would mean the law was enacted in 1980.

1980s = the general time period between 1980 and 1989
So the law was enacted in the decade of the 1980s.

1980s' = Well now I'm just confused....

I know, most of you are probably shaking your heads thinking, WHO CARES, LEAH? It's the story that counts! You've probably already read the story while I'm stuck at the headline, trying to decide the exact meaning of the stupid apostrophe! I can't help it though. That's just how I'm wired. 


As a kid I excelled in English and grammar, scoring way at the top of the standardized tests. At my first job in the FBI, I was pulled from the typing pool to work on a team writing staff commendation letters because I scored high on my grammar placement test there. (My first professional writing job!)

But what was a blessing back then has turned into a curse in these days of lackadaisical spelling and grammar rules--because errors are everywhere. I see them in television commercials, in the little news tickers running at the bottom of news programs, in the closed captioning on television shows.... Trust me, there is an endless supply of grammar goofs in the world, and each one annoys the you-know-what out of me.

None of us like finding errors, especially copy editors, and we have an especially talented group. One young woman, close to my heart, has a sign on her desk that reads:  "I'm silently correcting your grammar." (I want one!)

So I chalked the error up to the fact that it's a wire story. Our editors are so busy proofing/editing the locally produced content, they might not be able to pay much attention to the wire stories. But I must say I felt vindicated when Googled it and found that other news outlets ran the same story but with the correct (in my opinion) headline!

(This is from the Boston Herald online.)

Now I'm trying to figure out how to respond to the critics who have probably already called our feedback line with comments like:  "You morons! There's no apostrophe in that headline!! This is why no one trusts the news anymore!!"

Finally, to put it out of my mind, I read the story (which is about how Virginia has a terrifying low dollar threshold for a theft to be classified as a felony rather than misdemeanor) and decided a misplaced apostrophe in a headline is probably pretty low on my worrisome threshold.

For fun, here are a few quotes about grammar. They made me smile. Maybe they'll give you a chuckle as well!
Sometimes with 'The New Yorker,' they have grammar rules that just don't feel right in my mouth.
Author David Sedaris
Anarchy is as detestable in grammar as it is in society."
Author Maurice Druron
"Texting has reduced the number of waste words, but it has also exposed a black hole of ignorance about traditional - what a cranky guy would call correct - grammar."  
Author Richard Corliss
..............................

Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. As much as she loves the use of proper grammar, she tries really, really hard to be respectful of others' need to flout the rules! Learn more at leahstjames.com. You'll also find her posting odds and ends about her life on her Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Turtle Release on St George Island by Barbara Edwards

I love being on St George Island. 

One of the best events is when the nature center at Gulf world releases turtles back into the water. This time we had 23 Kemp's Ridley sea turtles and one Loggerhead,





The cold stunned sea turtles have been rehabilitated since December 9.


The sea turtles were closely monitored until re-acclimated to appropriate water temperatures. 


When they began eating and diving normally they were cleared for release.


This year the event attracted crowds of people interested in the turtles.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003F6ZK1A


Monday, March 20, 2017

In Honor of Women

                         March is Women's History Month


Here is a link to an excellent website listing some great women. Pick a name and get to reading. The list is certainly not all inclusive but it's a start...
https://www.thoughtco.com/biographies-of-women-3528344


Below are a few suggestions to get you started.

Portrait of Nancy Astor, about 1926Nancy Astor, First Woman to get a seat in the British House of Commons.


Harriet Tubman
     Harriet Tubman, Led over 300 slaves to freedom through the Underground Railway

Hyperpyron of Alexios I KomnenosAnna Comnena (Komnene) Byzantine Princess and reputedly the first woman to write a book on history.

Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt Egyptian relief of Akhenaten and Nefertiti holding their daughters, 14th century BCE


Emma Goldman mug shot
Mug shot of Emma Goldman, anarchist, an ardent proponent of birth control and free speech, a feminist, a lecturer and a writer.

Oprah Winfrey, 2010First Black syndicated host of a talk show and first black woman billionaire.


In the center: Dowager Empress of China, Cixi. In front of her: Empress Xiao Ding Jing.
Empress Cixi (Tz'u-hsi) Contrary to tradition and policy, she took power as Empress in China

Sonia Sotomayor Attends Formal Investiture Ceremony At U.S. Supreme CourtSonia Sotomayor, first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

Fascinating women - and there are so many more. Which historical woman is your inspiration or favorite?

REMullins author of vampire/romance novels



IT'S A WONDERFUL UNDEAD LIFE
VAMPIRE IN THE SCRYING GLASS
A VAMPIRE TO BE RECKONED WITH
and coming soon: COLD HEARTED VAMPIRE

Amazon
The Wild Rose Press

Contact me at:  Facebook or remullins.com