Monday, October 31, 2011

Who Schedules?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter. Which is your favorite season of the year?

Let’s talk a bit about the seasons. Here in the South we just about skipped any spring weather and just jumped into hot, hot summer. There was hardly any nice spring days to sit outside. It just turned hot.

Now it looks we’ve jumped into winter without a fall to watch the beautiful colors of the leaves. We had a 30 degree drop from one day at 80+ degrees to the next day at 50+ degrees.

I’ll  never understand who schedules college football games. We start our football season in August. The first few games are in mid-day when it’s 85-90 degrees. Then when the cool weather comes, the games are at night and that’s a chilly three hours to sit watching a game. But then it’s been suggested the reason for the football  games' starting times is for following the TV scheduling. Schools will play when they get the chance to be on TV where they will receive more money, whenever the time. So I guess it is true that you can “follow the money” and find most answers to your questions.

I  know, I know, I’m as big a football fan as anyone. But, really. Do they think of the fans or the money when scheduling game times? It’s just another thing I can’t do anything about. They never ask me when making all these decisions. Wonder why?


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where’s You Place?

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing
  
How do you mark the place you stopped reading before you put the book aside?

Some may use:

the receipt  from where they bought the book.
a finger nail file (yes, I did that once when it was the closest thing to grab).
a tissue (yes, I’ve seen that done).
bookmarks they’ve picked up at the library or bookstore.
bookmarks that authors have at book signings.
a business card (done that too).

And (boo, hiss!) some may turn down the top corner of the page where they want to start when they can get back to read the book again. I can’t imagine someone doing that to a book they own; but I’ve seen plenty turned-down corners on library books. That’s not being respectful to the book or the author.

And (boo, hiss!) another thing some do is lay the opened book with print down. I worked in the library in junior high and the librarian would really give a sermon to those who did that. It breaks the spine of the book—that part of the book you see when they’re all lined up on a bookshelf.

I’m on Debbie Macomber’s mailing list. Yearly she sends a long letter and includes a bookmark—shiny on both sides with plenty of information about her books. A friend cross stitched my initials on a bookmark. So I do have a nice supply of beautiful bookmarks. It's difficult to even think about throwing any of then away.

How do you mark your place when you must close a book and return later? Don’t tell me you turn down the corner of the page—please, just don’t tell me.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Before and After


Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Many years ago we built a two-leveled deck on the back of our house. The wood used for the project was “treated” wood. However, we didn’t waterproof the finished deck. Years of Southern sun, rain, and even a little snow have taken their toll on the deck.

Our son is using a pressure washer to blast the ugliness off our deck. It appears it will be at least a two-week project. But I wanted to share some pictures with you as the project has progressed. He moved everything (of which some were also pretty ugly; maybe time for new outdoor furniture?) off the upper level down to the lower level before he started on the upper level. Below are “before” and “after” photos. I hope you can see the stark difference of improvement of the wood.

BEFORE

AFTER - SEE DIFFERENCE OF THE FLOOR (washed) AND THIS SIDE OF POSTS (not)
AFTER - NOTE DIFFERENCE IN TOP RAILING (not washed) AND LOWER STRIP OF WOOD (washed)

 Many places, not only did the pressure washer remove the discolored surface of the wood, but raised splinters from beneath the outside layer of the wood, which will require sanding for our comfortable use. After all that I hope we will waterproof this time.

This reminds me of how we may look to God. But when we turn our lives over to Him He will remove all the goop and splinters and show how we really look on the inside. If we leave our religion  in the church house on Sunday and don’t live it the rest of the week, we need to let God do some pressure washing on us. Didn’t  mean to do a sermon when I started this blog post but the analogy was so apparent, I couldn’t resist. So, happy pressure washing.


“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
 - Laura Ingalls Wilder


Till next time …keep on smiling.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who's You?

Thursday Thought on Reading and Writing

I love to read blog posts by Kaye Dacus. She makes me smile, laugh, think, and wonder. She sometimes shares pictures of celebrities she chooses to be characters in her books. On her blog post of October 13, Kaye Dacus asked this question: What actor/actress would you choose to portray you in a movie based on the story of your life?

Rene Russo


Diane Keaton

My answer to that question was:
Rene Russo because she’s who I want to look like—that gorgeous copper-red hair she had in The Thomas Crown Affair. But then Diane Keaton because I love the personality she portrays on screen. Sorry that’s more than one, but put them together and that’s my pick.

So how would you answer that question? Please leave you answer in the comment section.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Pallet?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That
  
What do you think of when you hear the word pallet? Do you think of those portable platforms for handling, storing, or moving materials and packages? They’re flat,wooden, and you see them sometimes in grocery stores when items are being placed on the store’s shelves. Behind WalMart you can always see stacks of empty ones. They’re really unattractive but useful to warehouses and stores.

When I hear the word pallet I think of beautiful quilts. My grandmother raised eleven children and as adults when even a few of them would visit her at the same time, beds were usually for grown-ups and the pallets were for her grandchildren. But these pallets were made by layering beautiful quilts on the floor to make it as comfortable as possible for those who slept there. And then you got another quilt for cover.
Ladies in the family or community would gather to hand-stitch quilts. Most of my grandmother’s quilts were made of pieces from outgrown clothes. And when finished, the patterns of the quilts were breathtaking. I have one an aunt made that has butterflies patterned all over it. Another one was made for my son and brown ponies cover it.

Some hand sewn quilts have very intricate patterns. Some are hung on walls as decorative art. When I remember my youth I never forget the times I’ve slept on a pallet on the floor. More fun to a kid than a bed anytime.

You ever slept on a  pallet?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

eBook Frenzy

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

I've jumped on the band wagon of eBooks and e-readers! I’ve published two of my out-of-print books into eBooks: Amen and Good Morning, God and Amen and Good Night, God. Both books are now listed for sale at $0.99 (the lowest price they allow) at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I am not a techie and don’t have much ability with technical procedures. But the talk was that it was easy to put out an eBook. A Kindle (an Amazon product) was the big kid on the block so I thought I’d start this adventure with them. After reading all the instructions to convert by books into Kindle books, I had second thoughts. Several places recommended starting with eBooks at an online company called Smashwords (at that time Smashwords was publishing in all eBook format except Kindle).Their instructions were less technical but still I couldn’t see myself doing this.


But Mark Coker, the boss man at Smashwords has a list of people who will do the formatting and book covers for you. All I had to do was send my book manuscripts in a Word document and they would convert them into the correct format that I could submit to Smashwords. Yay! I could do that. So I chose Bryan Coker (email him here) to do my formatting and Miss Mae (email her here) to do my books’ covers. They were so patient with me and we got everything ready for me to submit to Smashwords.

Next, I wanted to try to get my books into Kindle format. I wanted help again and I found Ellen Maze (email her here) who formatted my books’ Word documents into Kindle and Nook (Barnes & Noble) specifications. Ellen does covers but I already had covers. I would highly recommend Bryan Coker, Miss Mae, and Ellen Maze if you want help making an eBook. If you contact them, you may use my name if you’d like.That won't get you a nickel but they will know where you heard of them. Each of them had reasonable rates for their services.

In the book publishing business everyone is talking about eBooks. More and more people are purchasing e-readers. The “experts” are predicting and speculating how the future of book publishing will be affected by all this; but most of them agree that eBooks will bring a change. According to Amazon, et al it’s already changed. This eBook thing has really caught on.

Converting an out-of-print book into an eBook and converting a novel you have written that’s never been published are on two different ends in this eBook spectrum. This is a great opportunity for authors who have out-of-print books, which have already had a thorough edit at the publishing house that originally released the books. If I wanted to convert a book manuscript that I had written but it hadn’t been published and therefore had not been professionally edited, I would hire a professional editor to give it an edit before I started any formatting for an eBook.

If you read either of my two eBooks and like them, I’d appreciate it if you’d write a review of the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or on both. Thanks in advance.

Have you ventured into the eBook waters? Is so, how was your experience in doing that? Think you would do it again?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Your Greatest Victory and Mine

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

What was your greatest personal victory? Did it happen in high school, in college, in a relationship at any age? Is it something that might not seem huge, but was very important and meaningful to you? If you think your personal victory would seem silly and trivial to others it may be a highlight in your life and therefore not at all trivial or silly to you.

I’ll tell you about something I considered a personal victory to me if you’ll tell me yours. After reading this, do you promise to comment and let us in on your big moment? Promise?

Okay, here it is for me. In high school I was on the girls’ basketball team. Getting selected for the team was of itself a fete. Got issued a uniform—shiny gold in color with big numbers on the back of the shirt. My own number twenty-four!

I had transferred into this high school in the middle of my sophomore year—yes, yet another move of 8 from K-12—in the middle of basketball season. I started playing with the team in my junior year. On the court my specialty was the two-handed jump shot from where the 3-point shots are made today. But then it was only a 2-point shot and I sometimes shot beyond where the 3-point circle is today. And my shots touched nothing but net; I never banked any off the backboard. (No, that's not me in the photo.)

I’m trying to stay humble here, really. But I rarely missed those shots when the other teams’ defense was such that I could get clear. I made them from the top of the key and beyond; from the corners; well, from just about anywhere. BUT I sat on the bench more than I stayed on the court. See, this shot was all I had going for me. I was not aggressive enough to go in and shoot from under the goal.

Anyway, one night I sat on the bench watching the game and trying to learn. Our cheerleaders and fans sat on the opposite side of the gym. Then I heard it. They were chanting my name: “We want Stoney! We want Stoney!” (My maiden name was Stone.) They kept the chanting going till coach put me in.

That night people wanted ME to get into the game! Me, who sat on the bench. Me, who had hardly any self-confidence at that time in my life! I made more shots that night than ever before. My teammates set up screens for me so I could shoot without an opponent in my face. I can still hear the chanting; me going to the scorer’s table and checking in; and then me running onto the court. My shots were flawless.

See, all that may sound silly and unimportant to you, but to me, a high school girl, it was like being crowned Miss America.

So, now it’s you turn to share a little about your greatest personal victory. You promised, didn't you?


Till next time … keep on smiling. 
If you have trouble leaving a comment please let me know by sending me an email from here

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Writers Write for Readers

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

Most readers have their favorite authors. When a new book comes out that one of my favorite authors has written, I don’t even read a review of the book or read the book’s back cover print. Only one time have I been disappointed by doing so. Recently I started reading a book by a writer whose other books had been political thrillers; by the time I got to Chapter Two I honestly thought I was reading a Nicholas Sparks (whom I also like) book. The author had radically changed genres and I was disappointed. I wanted to read a political thriller and got a romance.

Readers don’t want their authors to change genres on them. Writers who write in more than one genre will usually use a pseudonym/pen name for each category in which they write. Romance author Nora Roberts also writes under three other names. You’re probably familiar with her thriller/mystery novels that she writes under the name of J.D. Robb (I’m not giving away any secrets—it’s on Wikipedia.) By doing this, her readers know which kind of book they’re getting when they select Nora Roberts or J.D. Robb.

Not many writers are as prolific in publishing novels as is Nora Roberts. But she has done a wise thing in separating her writing categories by using a different name for each.

Writers, have you ever tried to shift categories in your writing and still use the same name? If so, have you received letters from readers saying you had confused them by doing this? As writers we must have our audience in mind at all times. If we skip around in all areas of writing using the same name, we will confuse and perhaps even lose readers. Reader loyalty is a precious commodity to a writer and we should do nothing to jeopardize that connection. So if you feel compelled to write in different areas, remember your readers and use a different name for each category in which you write.

If not for readers, authors would languish and fade away not to be read again, at least not much. Readers (and I am one) want consistency from their favorite authors. It is compelling for writers to remember that.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Color is Your Butterfly?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Most of us know that birds migrate, moving from one location to another. Do you know that butterflies also migrate? Some butterflies can travel up to 2000 miles, from Canada to the coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and northern Caribbean spots. Butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains usually migrate to Texas and Central America and California. Those east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to the Gulf Coast and then to Mexico.

We all can probably recognize the Monarch butterfly with its patterned colors. But the butterfly I enjoy seeing is a small yellow one. There is a scientific name for them; I believe they are in the family of sulfur butterfly. Sometimes you see them in color from yellow to white and to almost clear.

If you live in the South U.S., October is a good month to see many of these yellow specimens. This year I began seeing them in September where I live. They don’t travel in great bunches or waves as do the Monarchs. They seem to move alone, slowly without purpose or direction.

But they do have direction; they are migrating southward, usually to Mexico. As they reach the Gulf of Mexico coast they appear in larger numbers. They are good at following a course of travel as long as the coast is in sight, but still they go across the gulf waters toward Mexico. I’ve been told they rest along the journey on boats, ships, or even briefly on large fish that swim close to the water’s surface. They spend the winter in the moderate climate in Mexico and begin their trek back northward in early spring, somehow knowing that the temperatures will be favorable to them.

At Callaway Gardens, Georgia is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center where more than 1000 butterflies from 50 different species fly freely. Tropical plants preferred by each of the butterflies grow in one of North America's largest glass-enclosed tropical butterfly conservatories.They will fly close to you and even light upon you. There is also a small glassed area inside where you can watch as caterpillars laboriously change into butterflies.

The butterfly is another one of God’s precious little creations. He watches over them even as they migrate with the aid of their own GPS gift from God. Just as merry-go-rounds can be enjoyed by adults, I never tire of watching butterflies, especially the little yellow ones.


Till next time … keep on smiling.