Sunday, June 28, 2015

Inspired Sunday Posting

Rural Church east of Vienna, Georgia on Highway 41. A storm had occurred shortly before these photos were taken and you can see some storm damage.

This is a link to other posts of pictures of places of worship around the world.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I met a big time New York Agent

The Southeastern Conference was an intimate affair. Unusual in that you ate with the speakers and other writers. It dispelled several illusions for me.

I knew the likelihood of making money off a book was pretty much like winning the lottery. One of the speakers made this observation. Life has taught me there will be plenty of smart and shining people who will be better than me at any given task.

So I write with no expectations. I write what I know at my personal best. That fire in my belly wakes me in the morning and gets tired with me in the evening.

Another big myth died during the conference. It was the New York agent.

Sorche Fairbanks was probably the best speaker and very genuine. She was also the New York Agent. Beautiful dark hair like a young Kirstie Alley.

I wanted to ask her how she was named Sorche, but I knew google would tell me its origin. It is Gaelic.

Sorche said she liked conferences because she got to see the human side of writers and not their incessant queries. The last part is my wording. I could not tell if she felt some guilt at having to reject queries. In my mind I thought she should not.

Stories can be like children to writers, but there is a merchandising potential which a bookseller has to contend with. It could be the greatest story ever written but if no one wants to read it, it only exists with the creator.

She had a few facts that she shared. All of this has been liberally rephrased in my words. I did not take notes.

1. It is unrealistic to think your first book will hit the New York Times best seller list. Write because you enjoy it.

2. Read books and write reviews of them. This will help you write your own synopsis and loglines.

 Sorche gave a great practice of loglines.

3. Work on your actual writing and remove excess words.

4. Those first few pages need to be exciting. The person who reads every book to the end is slowly disappearing.

She works very hard to make a living. If my personal life had not been so hectic and a dad had not walked into my classroom and told me off in front of my class, I would still be teaching school. I had learned to love my job. I believed her when she said she loved her work.

I read about 20 to 100 pages a day. I just get tired or reading after awhile. I can't imagine having that much focus to read as much as Sorche does. I asked her how long it took her to read a 250-page book. She said four hours.

Sorche also told me Goodreads is a safe site to visit. I had been told by a blog which I love and respect that it is full of trolls. However, she agreed that the Amazon reviews can be corrupt with people giving one star to books they have never read.

I'll no longer be nervous around the "New York Agent". If I ever get a book that is good enough to be published by one of the big five, I hope I will get an agent like Sorche Fairbanks. My teacher meter said she is sincere. I know an agent is a sales person, and I could see that affability in Sorche. But the genuine person was confident and open.

So my next order of  business is to finish the three books I am currently reading. Yes, I read several books at one time. Then write a book review for Goodreads, Amazon, and my blog.

One I got at the conference by Gary P. Jones which is based on his career in law enforcement titled Badge 149 - "Shots Fired". Amazon has a kindle version which is less expensive. I like to read a book written on paper.

 Infinity Publisher Bookseller


The Second one is The Marine's Queen by Susan Kelley. I discovered her book on her blog during the A to Z challenge. It is a Sci-Fi, futuristic romance.

The Marine's Queen

The Third is a mystery titled The Crows by Maris Soule. I met Maris at the Writer's Police Academy and again with the A to Z challenge. Great Writer.

The Crows

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hopping to Conclusions

The first year I taught school, one girl approached me the first day. I thought, "oh boy, this girl is
This little dude is one of the few dogs who
enjoys a bath. He has a skin condition.
 Medicine prevents his hair loss.
My sister found him scared on the
side of the highway.
 He may not weigh over 8 pound
 but now he is a fierce streetfighter

going to be trouble". She was one of the neatest students I taught in my career. There was a three or four years age gap between her and me. I don't remember her name. I doubt she remembers me. But I do know she was exceptional and has probably achieved much in her life.

Going to the conference, I sat in the back the first day and snoozed through so many good presentations due to exhaustion of a hard day getting ready to leave the day before. I let my mind wander over the people seated around me and just made a few good observations based on how they were dressed.

There was the incredibly small, crisp, cute woman with premature gray hair. She wore a ball cap, a sweatshirt, khaki shorts and tennis. She sat beside a much older man with clear, large brown eyes. I wondered if he had had some cosmetic work since his eyes looked so much younger than his body's age.

One man came with his tweenager. He was a skater screenwriter who wore wrinkled shorts, shirt and shoes with the heels crushed. We do keep wearing the outfits of when we came of age.

I wore a pair of black capris, black leather flats with a black, gray and white leopard print top. I have to admit. I would not have worn this dressy casual outfit as a teenager or young woman. I'm still dressing for the job I aspire for.

What I learned is that this was a great group of people who could not be summed up by the clothes they wore. What made this conference unique is you got a chance to meet the presenters and other attendees on a personal level.

I haven't been to many writing conferences. I went to a local conference called Crossroads. It was a good start with leads for directions I could take. Two continuing ed classes at Emory University were a big help. I've been to a workshop by Richard Krevolin who is a screenwriter expert.

I went to the Writer's Police Academy last year. So many actual writers and the focus was learning about law enforcement to write an informed book. In August, I go again because it is so cool. I have learned to google the presenters and people. It helps to hide how little you know. It doesn't stop me from being a rube.

This last conference is probably the best I've been to. I thought many of the writers knew each other and they did. So many were repeaters and I will probably be a repeater too, God willing of course.

They had so many contests and opportunities for writers which I did not take advantage. My mom was sick for most of April when I would have been getting my act together in submitting. This year, I will be getting my submissions ready early, much like the A to Z blog challenge posts. My 2016 theme will be Good Influences on My Writing. Most will be writers and their books. Some will be great presenters.

The conference had great presenters. Donald S. Vaughn described freelance writing and he was better than Great. He is also my V for A to Z. Below are links to his websites.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Macon Georgia history

Bibb Mill Community House, Macon Georgia

Old Mill House - A Boss would live in one like this

Mill houses, these are duplexes on Taylor Avenue in Macon Georgia
Walking Stick Insect on Humingbird feeder - and yes he or she is going to eat the insects or birds who happen on this feeder. I dumped him or her in the woods behind my house.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Maybe it is the stiff wide leaf grass closely mowed or the salt air, but Saint Simon's Island brings so many memories back to me.

One memory happened when I was away at college. My parents and younger siblings made a jaunt to Brunswick and Jekyll Island which required a pilgrimage to the National Park Fort Frederica. They returned to the 62 rambler station wagon to see a man running off with the sausages, eggs and other groceries they had purchased. Mom would fire up the green camp stove and cook us a feast for every meal.

I went to the park so many times, I remember there was an Ann Bennett's tavern in the early settlement. This tickled my twelve-year-old heart to discover.

On father's day, I feel a special pain. My dad would chaperone our girl scout trips and one was to Jekyll Island. He purchased a large tent and my family started going several times a year.

My parents had swimming in the ocean down to a science so we didn't get sunburned. One time the undertow whipped my grandmother off her feet and she lost her false teeth. We did plenty of diving but never found those teeth.

I'm staying at the Booth motel on the retreat Epworth by the Sea for the Southeastern Writer's Conference. I may never chug out a published story, but they are a fantastic group of people. It is small and as I suspected many of the attendees know each other. So many have come many years in a row. There are some who have come for 20 years or more.

Just a few evening views of the Frederica River beside the Epworth retreat.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Are you good at brownnosing?

A question on facebook was posted. Should you go to a high school reunion if everyone hated you in school? The graduation date was 1970, which would make the person  around 63.

My thought is why not,

None of those 17-year-olds will be there. They lost their innocence in the world just like him. They learned the house they lived in or the car their parent's drove was not theirs. They had to go to work and budget to make a similar purchase. A huge hospital bill, a speeding ticket, partying hardy could stand between them and the purchase of either.

When the Columbine High School shootings occurred, my night school class came in talking about it. One told me the boys did it because they were picked on. I said what I thought, we all get picked on.
What surprised me were the class agreed with me. I thought some of them solemnly talking about being picked on were the sort to do the teasing. Moving up and down that social ladder affects all.
I would hazard a guess that most of our classmates felt picked on or left out.

Could you have been responsible for the hatred? Like, did you say bad stuff? Like, do you think anyone would remember? Like, do you think anyone would hold your youthful mouth against you? Especially if they had teenagers. Could your transgression of being independent that defied a teenagers need to conform to the peer group expectations be a source of pride now.

Exactly who do you remember from high school? When folks friend me from high school, I would look them up in the yearbook. I still am careful who I friend, but I keep everything private for my eyes only if I can. I'm glad people use the privacy setting for their kids pictures. I just wish they would be a little more discreet with politics I don't like. I feel flattered that people remember me.

I had a parent of a student who kept talking about being on the basketball team at Northside. At the time, I was about 46 and would think, now that was a few years ago. However, I realized she thought she knew me. My younger sister recognized the name. Anyway, that long ago prestige was still with her.

I am approaching 60. I got off the social ladder a long time ago. It just wasn't that fun and not worth the effort. Sort of like "brown nosing", I wasn't good at it. It doesn't take long to know you are the lucky one. I feel some pity for those who think the clothing on their back or car they drive defines them. To not know that these are only illusions.

Anyway, I would go to the reunion to meet new people.

What do you think? Am I being too optimistic? I have never been to a reunion. My class was pretty slack, and hey I am not interested in all that work either. So am I being a little too pollyanna?

I hope everyone finds something to take their minds off the horrors of the news. I have certainly said a prayer for those folks in South Carolina. What a horrible, senseless tragedy.

Anyway enjoy the following video.

When you're having a tough day but then your jam comes on...
Posted by on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cussing and Cursing.

I grew up with a mom that did not allow cussing. She also considered racial comments cussing. While she was at it, so was putdowns.

I was close to fifty when I learned the word cussing should be cursing. My mother had talked to one of the supervisors at Happy Hour Workshop for developmentally delayed adults. She noted he called cussing cursing. Bells and whistles went off and another a piece of my dialect disappeared. No worries, I say plenty more.

Drifting through the blogosphere, I came across one blog discussing how curse words should be handled with care.

My first reaction was "how sweet" which translate into let's get a little real here. Ironic in that I don't believe in cursing. However, I let words slip. As a teacher, I thought I never cursed. My developmentally delayed brother can be a kid at heart, perennial teenager or the 62-year-old man he is. Pretty much liked all of us.

Cutting to the chase, he laughs at curse words. Well, guess what, I curse a hell of a lot more than I thought. Yeah. I let a mild one rip, on purpose for comic effect. I can't hear you laughing. Of course, that would be pretty weird in that only me and the word processor know my words at this moment.

In retirement, I have to resist the urge to not curse. Crazy, I know. The other thing I wrestle with is that filter we all use with what comes out of our mouth. You know that handy thing we all acquire from having terribly angry folks in our face because of what we slipped up and said.

My worst one was telling a woman that her niece said her boyfriend acted interested in her. She had been talking about her niece's big ego. And that is when I let this jewel or more apropos stinkbomb explode in my face. Young and dumb is overrated.

Anyway, this is my comment on her blog. My question is where does the idea that poor people are more likely to curse. I do know being impulsive, telling people that their significant other has the hots for someone else can lead to a lower income. But crassness permeates all income levels. You can be low income because of life circumstances.

I stopped cursing as a teacher. I've never been big into cursing and the adage that cursing meant you had a lack of vocabulary became more apparent as I have aged. Frankly, cursing is used as a substitute for being able to verbalize your emotions. 
As a writer, you short shrift your characters when you give curse words versus what they are feeling or doing. I don't find comedians who curse a lot in their routine as funny as the laugh track that accompanies them. 
The last point about characters is that cursing crosses all social classes. Just because someone is poor or uneducated does not mean they curse. I feel the downtrodden get enough knocks without people educated in human nature enriching the stereotype. My mother punished us in the sixties for racial comments as cursing.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

I don't want to hear that!

In the summer of 1994, my dad would answer the phone with if you are going to talk about OJ or the flood, I don't want to talk.

Do you ever get sick of topics? That is how I feel about Caitlyn Jenner and the Duggar molestation scandal. For a brief moment, I watched the two married sisters who are pregnant or recently gave birth trying to make everything better.

What caught me was one seemed to have that awareness that maybe the family was not perfect and there were other opinions in the world besides the one they thought was the only one. Maybe it was just me. But doubt and uncertainty was there.

It made me think of an 8-year-old. Developmentally, it is a magical year with what a child is able to comprehend. It is also a time, children start learning their place in the world. It truly is a bittersweet time.

I do wish the best for these newsmakers. One is making money off their newsworthiness and the other one will need to invest what they have wisely. The have lost their goose that laid a golden egg.

As a society, the United States is in places I never thought we would be. Gay marriage is a big one. It is on the verge of being legal everywhere. When I was a kid, gays stayed in the closet or moved to Atlanta. Transgender is not the big shocker the satirical novel featuring the topic by Gore Vidal called Myra Breckinridge in 1968 was.

The Duggars is another phenomenon. I grew up in a conservative Baptist church. The Duggars would have been considered fanatical and impractical. These exaggerated fundamental Christians did not exist except for perhaps the Amish or Mennonites. The fact that they entered popular culture is surprising.

TLC used to be the Learning Channel and had more educational programming. Currently, reality television has taken over its line-up. Some of it is quite good like the Little Couple. They allow people to learn about what they do to make ordinary living ordinary. However, other shows have verged on the normalization of the freak show.

Reality television I would like to see.

1. A posh Indian (Asian) wedding of Indian-Americans in full detail. Show families making plans and the wedding itself.

2. Life on an Indian Reservation. Show the good, bad and the ugly.

3. Bring back Queen for a Day program. However, shower all the contestants with gifts.

4. Have a group of families try to live a year at poverty level. Show them balancing the budget, lifestyle adaptations, etc. Word to lawmakers, moms everywhere know spaghetti is inexpensive and liked by most children. Why would you want to stop Food Stamps from purchasing spaghetti sauce?

What do you think would make a great reality show? But don't tell me Caitlyn Jenner or the Duggars.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Chewing the Fat

A to Z came to me at the right time. I was ready to take advantage of good blogrolls and activities along the way. There have been some great events that I did not participate in that I have this thing called a life I live.

But niggling me has been two books I have written in my head. All they need is to be put on a word document and saved with a date and name. All those no names, no dates are a pain in the rear. More so in that I always intend to get back with them soon. Then the electricity goes off or the computer insists on shutting down to install updates and the computer recovers all the files I had open as untitled.

My first big project is BuNoWriMo which is basically a nanowrimo with less rules but a 50,000 word goal in the month of June. That is 50,000 divided by 30 which is 1667 words a day. My goal is 2000 in that I wind up cutting half my words eventually.

If you would like to participate, here is the Facebook link.

There is a website with a word counter, but I have not been able to access it.

There are other things I learned cruising blogs. One is that you can use a free service to verify your twitter follower is real. The only problem is the follower has to watch a commercial. I know that is what I had to do before it would reveal the captcha device.

Since I don't actually use twitter, it was irritating in that I follow people in a show of support. But a good thing if a bot could use your tweet nefariously. With the state of social media, nothing surprises me.

I also came across a fun blog for newbie writers. It is funny. It is sincere. It is talking about stuff we are nowhere near worrying about - but hope to one day.

So see everyone on wordless Wednesday.


 Zephyr is a soft, peaceful breeze. And I thought it had to be an imaginary animal. For many of you, we will not meet again until the next A...