Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Go-To Apps

“App” is a brand-new word in my fully-formed-in-the-fifties vocabulary. I find, in questioning Google, that an “app” is “an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device”.

Okay, I have three mobile devices:  Penelope the lappy, a Kindle Fire, and an iPhone. They all work--but “apps” seem to make them work better---I think.
So an “app” needs to actually do something. Right off the bat, I can think of two which work pretty hard for me:
·        Buffer
·        Canva
·        Fotolia
·        FB Author Page
·        Email
I have the unpaid version of Buffer, but I schedule three blogs a week and nine additional links for Twitter--a total of 12, which is more than allowed in the free version, but I can always add more once a few of them have posted.
The unpaid version of Canva also works well. If I want something besides a free background for my image, I don’t mind forking over a dollar.
Most of the images I acquire to use with Canva are from Fotlia. There’s an automatic refill feature which gives you credits as you need them, but I prefer to order on my own.
The FB Author Page is a good way to connect with other writers (and readers) on a more professional than personal basis. Certain posts can be “boosted” for a fee, and sometimes I take advantage of that.
A personalized email came with a website I used to have--dumped the website for another and kept the email for which I pay yearly. But we can’t live without email these days, can we?
There are more apps out there than fleas on a dog, and a person can become overextended in a hurry. I don’t “do” social media via my iPhone, but I do check email and have other “apps” which I find handy:
·        Local weather
·        Fox News
·        Messenger
·        A daily prayer app which comes with a handy-dandy reminder
·        Alarm for reminders throughout the day
As with all things, one has to find what works and stick with it. That’s not to say you can’t broaden your horizons. Maybe someday I’ll work on widening my range, but for now, I’m good to go.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

And my favorite fictional character of all time is...

Hands down, it’s Jane Eyre 
from Charlotte Bronte’s novel by the same name.

Why? That’s easy!

She’s a survivor, and I’ve always looked at myself that way. So she’s not only a role model but a kindred spirit as well.

Read the book

I hope it’s still on the shelves of your local library despite the move to purge our school English classes and libraries of everything “classical” and the least bit “moral”.

If Jane Eyre were written today she would

·        be out for revenge against her aunt Mrs. Reed and the abusive head of the orphanage where she ends up.
·        take one look at Thornfield Hall and say, “This isn’t for me; I’m outta here.”
·        set her cap for Mr. Rochester because doesn’t every girl want a rich husband?
·        ignore his situation and become his mistress
·        steal some of Thornfield’s treasures to finance her escape
·        go to the city and perhaps become a “working girl” to feather her nest and find a more suitable rich husband

If you don’t want to read the book, watch the movie

No telling how many versions of Jane Eyre have been filmed. You can find a comprehensive list here, beginning with the first silent film in 1910, and going through the made-for-television productions.

My recommendations:

·        The 1943 feature film starring Orson Welles, Joan Fontaine, Agnes Morehead, Margaret O’Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, and a very young Elizabeth Taylor.
·        The 1970 made-for-television film starring George C. Scott and Susanna York.

Put Jane Eyre on your summer reading/viewing list!

You’ll wonder why you never discovered it before.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

(My) 5 deadly sins of a writing "career"

Where this idea came from, I’m not sure. There are, of course seven deadly sins, but I’m opting for five so far as writing/writing career.

Not knowing your end goal

For me, it wasn’t a “writing career” (emphasis career). Though I’d written as a hobby all my life, when I retired I decided to see if I could actually get published. So publication was my end goal. I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination in both traditional and indie publishing. I had no dreams of being sent on book launch tours with the wining and dining and public attention. A shy sort, I don’t much like local book events, although I do participate on a limited basis.

Not being satisfied with your accomplishments

There are thousands (millions?) of writers out there. Some of them are definitely better than I am--and I’m not talking about those whose names you hear all the time and which I won’t mention. But I’ve achieved my own version of “success”, and I’m content.

Writing what you think will sell and not what you feel  should be written

Face it--we all know what flies off the shelves in many quarters. But it’s not me. I’ve written one book where I felt I crossed the line  (in some respects) of what I should’ve written. It wasn’t “dirty” nor “obscene”, but I let an editor tell me not to rewrite what I knew should’ve been done. It was a good story with a moral theme, but I’m not really proud of it.
I’m working on a novel right now which deals with (as I always do) real people and real life, but I already know I can go back and make it more acceptable. Acceptable to whom? To me. I’m the one whose name is on it. And I never want my grandchildren to grow up and read something I’ve written and think, “Ooooo, Mimi!” You know, “to thine own self be true” and all that stuff.

Not trying to make the next book better than the last

There’s always room for improvement in any area of life. For a writer, whether it’s plot, character, dialogue, or just grammar and syntax, he/she can always do better. You’ve got to work at it, but challenge is the spice of life.

Not writing

Okay, so your last book didn’t sell up to your expectations. Maybe it got some nasty reviews. Maybe you keep getting rejection slips!!  Maybe you don’t feel you’ve attained the attention you wanted. A whining writer is non-productive. If you really want to be a best-seller and honestly believe it’s not going to happen, then quit and do something else. But don’t bite off the end of your nose to spite your face. Either write for the love of writing and earn your living doing something else, or don’t do it at all.

The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and may/may not be relevant to the reader--who is free to ignore everything!

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

If these eyes could see...

Great topic--difficult choice! And I can’t make it, not trying to choose a single event from all of recorded history. So, I’m tweaking the topic make a list of TEN events I’d have liked to be a fly on the wall to see.

I remember as a child watching on black-and-white TV the historical drama series hosted/narrated by Walter Cronkite: You Are There. From 1953 to 1957, 147 episodes were produced. Unfortunately, there’s no comprehensive list of titles available, but some are posted on YouTube. (Apparently, the idea has been revived, so not all the linked episodes are hosted by Mr. Cronkite.)

So--here’s my list, and those events posted on YouTube are starred. * These are in no particular order as far as priority, by the way.

2.      The Siege of the Alamo *
4.      The D-Day Invasion at Normandy
5.      The Signing of the Declaration of Independence
6.      Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox
7.      Any of George M. Cohan’s musical productions on Broadway--preferably opening night!
8.      The beginning of a wagon train journey from St. Louis MO
9.      The discovery of life-saving penicillin
10.   The Resurrection of Jesus

What event would you most like to have witnessed?

Friday, June 16, 2017

The three people I'd most like to have dinner with...

Born into slavery, kidnapped as an infant with his mother by slave traders, ransomed and returned to the childless Carvers who raised him, he struggled to educate himself and succeeded. Booker T. Washington hired him to teach agriculture at the fledging Tuskeegee Institute (now Tuskeegee University). A brilliant, talented man, he also possessed a quiet humility and a sense of himself which stood him in good stead against those who disparaged him because of his race. His deep faith in God melded with his scientific mind to the benefit of all. This man has always been a particular hero of mine since I first read his story.

Daughter of a socialite mother and an alcoholic father, orphaned by the age of ten, the “ugly duckling” struggled to find her own identity. She married Franklin Delano Roosevelt and bore him 6 children (5 survived). When she discovered his infidelity, she offered him a divorce which never took place. Standing by him through the bout of polio which left him crippled, and his political career as governor of New York and four-time President of the United States, she became his eyes and ears in places his disabled body could not go. After his death she became a delegate to the United Nations and a human rights activist. She was not only a “survivor” but also someone who contributed to the world around her.

Born into a missionary family which later settled in the United States, she became a missionary herself and later married Jim Elliot, a missionary in Ecuador. When their daughter Valerie was less than a year old, Jim was speared along with four other missionaries attempting to make contact with the Auca Indians. When Valerie was about three, Elisabeth and the sister of Nate Saint, one of the martyred missionaries, went to live with the tribe responsible for the deaths of the men. She returned to the United States and became a prolific author and speaker. Widowed a second time, she married again and continued her ministry in America. She was the personification of a strong woman who also embraced her role as a wife and mother. The words she wrote and spoke touched more lives than all the marching, shouting feminist protestors ever did and ever will.

 Who are the three people with whom you'd most like to sit down to dinner?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What so proudly we hailed...once upon a time

June 14 has been Flag Day for over one hundred years, but it wasn’t until 1949 that then President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress making June 14 National Flag Day.

Alternately known as “Old Glory”, “The Stars and Stripes”, “Red, White, and Blue”, and “The Star Spangled Banner”, The American Flag has flown above government buildings, been carried into battle, draped coffins, adorned graves, been displayed in schools and churches, waved during patriotic celebrations, saluted, pledged to, worn as lapel pins and uniform patches, and, once tattered beyond respectability, properly disposed of by veterans’ and scout groups.

If I’d written that one hundred years ago, I could stop. Sadly, in more recent years the symbol of the United States of America has been set aflame, ripped, spat on, stomped on, defecated on, and removed/banned from public places for fear of “offending” someone.

One hears, “Well, if they (those who show contempt and disrespect for the flag as a symbol of America) don’t like this country, let them leave. They won’t be missed.” The last statement is probably true--how can one miss what one abhors (the action, not the actor). But is that really the answer? It’s like raking leaves in the fall--you never get them all, and the next year they’re back.

I fly my flag proudly. Because I have solar lighting trained on it, it’s spotlighted at night and can thus remain 24/7. So far, the powers that be in this subdivision haven’t written it out of acceptability, but if they ever do, I won’t take it down without a fight.

Ignorance and intolerance of patriotism, religion, and other cultural beliefs, like death and taxes, is inevitable. It’s incumbent on individuals who, after all, make up communities, towns, states, and ultimately this country, to take a stand for decency and respect. Those concepts are taught first at home and then in the institutions tasked with educating children to become productive adults--i.e. our schools.

Growing up, my generation pledged allegiance to the flag every morning before school. We stood, hands on hearts, when the band played the national anthem at athletic events. Our parents and teachers were quick to call us out for any disrespect--even unintentional.

This generation goes with the flow, whatever feels good at the moment, and no one says a word about it. Sometimes, if someone speaks out, they become the “bad guys”--thanks in part to the news media. I wonder if, like Pandora’s Box, once the lid is lifted and the ugliness allowed to escape, it can ever be put back again and contained.

We can only hope.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

You just have it to do...

This expression doesn’t seem to have an origin, so I’m assuming it was coined by the person I heard it from--or by someone she heard it from.

She was an older friend, an adult while I was still in high school. In summers I would spend a week in her home where her disabled husband doted on me and spoiled me beyond reason. She balanced things out with her strict requirements for chores. (I wasn’t a guest but rather part of the family for that week.)

I can’t remember the first time I heard the words, but over time she shared her difficult younger years as a child of the Great Depression when she “boarded out”--tended children, washed, ironed, cleaned houses, and did whatever she had to do to survive. Once her principal said to her, “If you don’t come to school more, you’re not going to graduate.” To which she replied, “Then I guess I won’t graduate because I have to eat.” Perhaps that was the first time I watched her eyes look into those past years and say, “I just had it to do.”

As I grew up and later as an adult myself, I often heard those words directed at me when I’d complain (whine) about something I didn’t want to do but couldn’t find any way to get around the inevitable. She never dished out sympathy of any sort. Rather, “You just have it to do,” assaulted my ears--not so much advice as a statement of fact.

I hear them now. Having always considered myself a “survivor” of (more than) my share of life’s traumas, perhaps the memory of her experiences tended to make me understand life isn’t perfect--nor is it always fair. She dealt with desertion, divorce, the determination to pay off debts she didn’t own (always working two jobs toward that end), the care of the second husband until his death, betrayal by some she considered friends and financial worries more on than off. But she survived.

And so, it seems, have I, though I still find it necessary to tell myself regularly, You just have it to do.

What’s inspired you to keep on keeping on?