Category Archives: Reading

What I Miss — And Don’t Miss — About Facebook

November 30, 2015 was my official last day of spending time on Facebook.

After over two months of freedom from that site, I found there are both advantages and disadvantages to doing so.

First the disadvantages (because I want to end this entry on a positive note):

  • Daily happenings. I have little to no idea what my friends and family who don’t live nearby are up to. I’m way out of the loop, and feel a bit left out when people talk about the latest happening, or viral meme or video on Facebook.
  • No more writing ideas. At least as far as non-fiction is concerned. Facebook provided a lot of fodder for me to comment on, and inspired many a blog entry. It’s part of the reason I’ve posted fewer entries here since then. But only partly. The other reason is a big positive that outweighs this negative.
  • People miss me. More than one person has expressed how much they miss my updates — some of whom I see fairly often. I guess they like my stuff.

 

The advantages:

  • Writing and more writing. While I’m empty of ideas for inspirational blog entries, I have completed two novels, and am now working on completing a third. Since December 1, I have written over 110,000 words.
  • Reading. I have more books in the last two-and-a-half months than I’ve read the previous year, which further inspires me to keep writing. Which reminds me. I need to start posting reviews of said books . . .
  • No more — at least way less — anger and frustration with the constant flow of memes and angry proselytizing with regard to politics and religion.
  • No more pissing people off with my own opinionated opinions with regard to politics and religion.

 

At the end of the day, while I miss out on a lot, what I’ve gained is far more important. I may actually get a book published out of it. That’s the hope anyway.

Once I finish this third novel, I will have time to write and send query letters to agents (I’m not looking forward to it, but it’s got to be done. Maybe that’ll be the subject of my next entry . . .).

Since this blog is supposed to be about my writing journey, I will keep you apprised.

Swallowed Up

EmpireIt’s rare that I read a book in only two days. I managed to do just that when I read “Empire (In Her Name: Redemption, Book 1)” by Michael R. Hicks. Even though I spent hours reading it on my Nook, and gave myself a headache doing so, I didn’t care. It was that good.

What made it so good wasn’t the premise alone. He managed a perfect combination of exposition, detail and action that swallowed me up as a reader, and made it near impossible to put down. I even teared up at the sad parts, and for a book to do that to me, that’s saying something. Fair warning if you’re curious about the book. There’s a bit of profanity and explicit sex scenes (although thankfully few and short, and fit the plot instead of being — for the most part — gratuitous).

What I liked most about it is that the words disappeared in favor of the story. That’s something all writers should seek to achieve. Writers have to pay attention to every word they use and how they’re structured, so the reader doesn’t even notice them. It seems impossible, and even counter-intuitive, but every reader almost instinctively understands this, especially when it comes to science fiction, fantasy, and other “action” type genres. The last thing a reader wants is to be jarred out of a story because of a poorly written sentence or odd word.

Poetry is an exception, I think. In poetry, the words are supposed to shine. In other writing, whether it be fiction or even non-fiction, the words are the stage hands, not the actors. Mr. Hicks’ words were definitely the stage hands, the story and plot the actors, and he utilized both better than most. I’m a bit envious, but at the same time motivated. It can be done! With a bit more practice and study, perhaps I can achieve that balance myself.

Part of me wants to get the next book in the series right now, but I hesitate. There are other books on my list to read, and I don’t want to keep giving myself a headache because I can’t put down an eBook. If/when I do purchase the next in Hicks’ series, it’ll have to be paper methinks.

EDIT: If/when nothing! I just purchased the other two books in the trilogy (paperback!) and should receive them on December 30.

The main reason is because reading “Empire” inspired me to dive into my own unfinished novel that I haven’t touched in about a year. Gotta keep up that momentum!

Words Mean Things

How a person speaks, including the words he/she uses says a lot about that person’s thoughts and feelings toward a subject.

For example, I saw this in a local news item today:

“Approximately 192,000 North Dakota residents are renters. They are our construction workers and our nurses. Renters are our young families and they are our college students who are faced with increasing tuition costs. As the cost of living goes up and the price of rent goes up, they are the individuals who have been left out of the tax relief.”

One word in that paragraph (said four times) stood out at me. Can you spot it? I’ll give you a few spaces before I reveal the word below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When a person adds “our” to another person or group, what exactly is he/she inferring?

“Our” implies possession or ownership, right? So by that reasoning, the person who said the above thinks and believes (even though he would vociferously deny it should someone ask him outright), construction workers, nurses, young families and college students are owned by the State.

Now one could argue that the politician is implying “our” in the context of family, such as when a parent describes “our” children. Considering the bill being discussed, however, I doubt he’s thinking in familial terms. I won’t get into the politics of the bill, because that’s not the point of this entry.

Construction workers, nurses, families and college students don’t belong to the politician or the State, whether in familial terms or ownership. They belong to themselves. If he had left out “our”, the meaning of his statement would not have changed. So why add “our” in the first place?

A Microcosm of Human Nature – And It Ain’t Pretty

I often peruse a photography forum, and there are times when people post subjects that show me just how depraved people can be. Not by them posting pornographic or other exploitative pictures and calling it art, but — for example — discussing when it’s appropriate or inappropriate to take a picture. One person brought up a scenario:

If you’re daughter is being raped, do you take a picture, or do you drop your camera to save your daughter?

The answer seems obvious, doesn’t it? To me it did, but not to others. I was both disgusted and frustrated that people responded with such comments such as, “It only takes a second to take a picture. Afterwards, then you can help your daughter.”

Their reasoning? The photographer who took a picture of the man who jumped off the Twin Towers on 9/11/01. In doing so, the photographer captured a poignant and now historical moment of the horror of that day. By taking a picture of the horror of rape, the photographer can then share it with others so they, too, can see what a horrific crime it is.

Another comment went something like this: “You don’t know if the perpetrator has a knife. By interfering, you could put your own life at risk.”

So better to take a picture and walk away.

Human beings are selfish and self-absorbed by nature, which is why when someone does risk their own life to save another, we notice and call them heroes.

This particular thread showed that selfishness more succinctly than others I’ve read. No amount of appealing to their sense of empathy worked. They simply refused to put themselves in the shoes of the victim, proclaiming themselves victims when people “told” them not to take a picture and help, thereby violating their right to freedom of expression.

If you can stomach it, here’s the thread in question: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/55009360

This is the world we live in, and I am ever more grateful to those who help others without a second thought to their own well-being (or their “right” to take a picture), whether they be first-responders, family members, or complete strangers who happen to be in the right place at the right time.

Deep as a puddle in my driveway after a spring rain

I’ve been pondering what to write for the last few months here, and as is obvious my ponderances have lead to zilch.

My browser tells me that ponderances isn’t a word, but you know what? I don’t care! After all, all words are made up, and I am claiming that one as my own. If you want to use it for yourself, you’ll have to ask permission first. Be aware I may charge royalties.

Now where was I?

Oh, yeah. Not having anything to write about.

Not knowing what to write about is frustrating at best. But then it occurred to me. Not all writings have to be deep and thought-provoking. They can be fun, even nonsensical – like this entry for instance.

Consider this word doodling. No great thoughts; just a bunch of little ones. Hopefully not too much, because I don’t want to waste too much of your time.

I love watching my son play, mostly to see how much he’s learning while he plays. For instance, when he’s building things with his wooden marble-run, he’s learning about geometry, gravity, spacial relationships and reasoning. He also likes to write. What’s fun about that is he knows a lot of words, but the ones he doesn’t know how to spell, he spells phonetically. For instance, he spells picture, picher. In all caps. The only real trouble he has when stringing together words is he has no concept of spaces. It ends up looking like, “MYNAMEISTOMANDIAMNICE.” To watch a child learn and grow, though, tain’t nothing better.

Well, shoot. That’s all I got for today. Maybe all I need is a little more practice. Actually what I need is to read more. I’ve done scant too little of it lately. It’s difficult when my son wants my constant attention. I don’t begrudge the time, though, because in a few too short years, he won’t have anything to do with me. Then I will have plenty of time to read.

I’m always inspired to write after I read, so it only stands to reason I’m not inspired to write when I don’t read.

Back to my book, then. Thank you for taking to time to read my doodles. If I don’t return before the new year rolls around, have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

Part Two

I know I promised to talk about faith in my next entry, but right now I have no motivation to do much of anything but sit in front of the air conditioner.

However, I did want to point you to the second interview with Ashford Radio I did on Saturday. You can find it at www.ashfordradio.com. Click on the second microphone (Studio B) and scroll down to the On Demand Episodes.

This time I talked about my books, why I wrote them and writing in general. I tell you, those 30 minutes really flew by. I did stumble a bit at the beginning, but I again think I did well.

I’ll be doing three others, each on Saturday morning at 9am Central. I will continue to point you to the archives when they’re out if you miss the live feed.

Later and Happy Sunday. Stay cool.

Because I can’t help myself!

I recently offered my services as Technical Editor for the CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) magazine entitled AUGIWorld (AUGI stands for Autodesk User Group International). I’ve written two articles for them so far. With no article ideas when the Editor In Chief asked for them as of late, I jumped at the opportunity when he asked for help with technical editing.

Basically my job is to go through the articles and make sure they make sense from a technical standpoint such as software command structure.

Grammar and such I don’t need to worry about, because that’s another person’s job. But I can’t help myself! Of the three I looked at so far, I found minimal grammatical errors on the first two (I still corrected them). The third article tended to not only be wordy, but extremely long sentences. And I thought I wrote long sentences. Oy.

To not tighten up the entire article is like asking me to ignore a chocolate cake sitting in front of me. Again: Oy.

I managed to restrain myself except for the more glaring errors such as using the incorrect word.

Some words of advice:

  1. Do not depend on your software’s spell check. It will not find words used incorrectly such as to, two and too.
  2. Read your work out loud. Some people balk at this, but if you tend toward long sentences this is important. As you read, you will naturally take a breath at the appropriate spot. If there isn’t a period there, add one.
  3. Read a hard copy. A lot of times what is missed on the screen will be found on paper. Don’t ask me why that is. It just is.

Since most of you write, those tidbits are more “Well, duh!” than anything else. Nevertheless, I needed to vent.

Let’s hope the other five articles don’t tempt the Grammar Nazi in me as much.