Thursday, December 29, 2011

Books and eBooks


Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing


Kindle
I wonder how many Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers were given and received at Christmas. I would guess a lot more people will be looking for books to read on their e-reader.

Nook
Did you balk the past few years about the success or failure of eBooks? Before Christmas online bookstores were selling more eBooks than paper books and probably the number of eBooks selling has grown since many folks gifted e-readers. So we probably should give some serious thought to eBooks. Whether or not we think eBooks are here to stay, they are going to change the reading habits of many readers.

Another change we’re seeing is regarding self-publishing. Self-publishing used to be a nasty word that established authors declared they would never do. Most self-publishing and eBooks are now both accepted and respected.

Have you read a self-published book? Did you know it was self-published before you started reading it? I recently read a book self published by the author with Amazon Digital Services. I didn’t see any errors, the cover was beautiful, and the book was bound well.

I keep up with best sellers in USA Today. Lately I’m seeing a scattering of eBooks on their list of the 50 top sellers. Until this year I’d never seen this. Most of the eBooks I see in the USA Today list are published by Amazon Digital Services.

Many published authors are now putting their out-of-print books back on the market via eBooks and also paper books through POD (publish on demand) companies. This probably is a good thing for the author and the reader, introducing new readers to the author’s work.


℮?So, did you get an e-reader for Christmas? Think it will change your reading habits?

Monday, December 26, 2011

'Twas the Day After...

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Christmas Day has come and gone. I hope everyone got the present they wished for. Did you?

When I don’t get THE gift I want, I usually buy it for myself during the after-Christmas sales. It’s always something inexpensive, but I wait to see if it’s under the tree before I purchase it.

Many things I wish for cannot be wrapped and placed under the tree: I wish the game of politics wasn’t so ruthless as is our daily dose of politicking. On a more serious note, I wish violence would be replaced by kindness; paying health care premiums guaranteed good health; words could adequately express the feeling of love; hearts couldn’t break; it didn’t get dark.

I wish responsibility wasn’t so heavy; the world was a kinder, gentler place; TV programming was more wholesome; good outweighed bad; children didn’t have to be sick; grandparents lived longer. I wish all good dreams came true.

I hope you could spend time with extended family during the holidays. Christmas, birthdays, weddings, and even funerals (in the South) are almost like family reunions. Times with extended family never lack for conversation and catching up on everybody.

We’re not told in the Bible Jesus’ exact birth date but I do hope your family did remember Him, if even silently, and said “Happy Birthday, Jesus.” He is the reason for the season.

 The magic message of Christmas is that God gives us so much more than we can possibly give back! He gave the world the greatest gift of all time. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6, NIV)’”
                             –Dr. Norman Vincent Peale


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Learning to be a Bird and a Writer

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

The winner of You Can Have a Happy Family by Amanda Beth is Pat.

We have several baby birds around our house. The first time I saw them they were pecking at surfaces on the deck outside my kitchen window. I wondered how they learned at their early age to forage for food by pecking. Does the mother bird instruct them in bird talk? Does she teach them by imitation of what she does? How do they learn to be a bird?

Since elementary school when we learned that a sentence must contain a noun and a verb, we’ve been able to write. I wrote stories with this short and choppy sentence structure. And I’ve written ever since about one thing or another, never thinking of publication.

Making our writing ready for publication takes a bit more than putting nouns with verbs. How do we learn to become writers? Where do we find instruction?

In this digital age many opportunities are out there about learning the craft of writing. On my website I have a Writer’s Page, which has a list of “Writing Help Sites.” You can find nuggets of writing wisdom on a daily basis from my list and from others.

But before we immersed ourselves into the internet for information, there were books. Some of these books are as valuable to the writer today as they were years ago. Examples: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King; Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; and Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull. Newer books have come along that help writers; books by Randy Ingermanson and Donald Maas, for example.

Reading about learning to write is a must, but other things are required of the writer who wishes for their writing to be published. Writers’ conferences are invaluable. You can attend workshops at these conferences on just about any writing topic you want.  Writers can subscribe to magazines that have a total focus on writing: The Writer and Writer’s Digest. Joining a critique group, having interaction with other writers is a great step.

But while learning about how to write, leave yourself time to write. Write something every day, if only an email or an entry in your journal. Writers, God has given you the talent to write; and He may call you to write for the Christian marketplace. If you feel sure of that it will help you to stay the course, never lose your focus, and never quit.

You will get discouraged at times, but never give up. If God has called you to write for Him, that alone is enough to encourage you through the tough times.


Write it before them in a table, and note it in a book.” (Isaiah 30:8, KJV)


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gone With the Wind

Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Near the end of each year I try to determine which are my five favorite novels. My list of five always contains Gone With the Wind.  Other titles may change from year to year, but Gone With the Wind never gets bumped from the list.

I’ve of course read the novel but I am so glad they made a movie of it. Many parts of the novel/movie are unforgettable: Rhett carrying Scarlett up the broad staircase; Bonnie riding her pony and her resulting death; Atlanta burning; and of course the last words of the movie—frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a ****.

One other scene in the movie is indelibly stamped on my mind. It’s when Scarlett has returned to Tara, her dad having passed away. She reaches down and takes a fist full of red Georgia dirt and stands with a beginning sunset outlining her, fist full of dirt raised skyward. It’s here her bone-deep determination exposes itself as never before. Even though the Civil War has stripped her and Tara  of all their majestic splendor, her resolve doesn’t waver. She will rebuild Tara.

As we might say today, Scarlett was at the end of her rope. At our graduation  practice my high school principal gave us seniors one piece of advice; I’ll never forget his words or his serious demeanor when he spoke. He said when we got out of school and into life and ever felt like we were at the end our rope, just tie a knot and hang on. We thought his advice was amusing then, but, oh so appropriate as we've grown older.

Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope? What did you do? Did you somehow pull your determination up from your inner self  as Scarlett did? Or did you shrink back and hope for things to get better?

It’s easy to have a positive attitude in a positive environment. I’d like to encourage  you to keep positive thoughts even when you face “the end of your rope.” I want you to reach your potential and be the greatest you that you can be. Think on all the good in your life instead of  always thinking on your past mistakes. The only use of thinking on past mistakes is to help us not to repeat them. Our past is gone; let it stay there.

This Bible verse always helps me to get up and out of the dumps:

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
(Philippians 4:8, NIV)


Till next time ... keep on smiling.
  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Win This Book!

­Thursday Thoughts on Writing and Reading

When you leave a comment on THIS post by midnight Sunday, December 18, you'll be entered in a drawing for a copy of the book I review below.

You Can Have a Happy Family by Amanda Beth

Amanda Beth passionately desires to see individuals and families transformed through the power of God. Her teachings on marriage and spiritual growth can be found on her website (www.amandabeth.net) and her blog (http://www.amandabeth.net/family-blog.html). Amanda and her husband, Jason, live in Michigan with their four children.

From the back cover of the book
"YOU can’t perfect your family. Amanda Beth can’t perfect your family. NO ONE can perfect your family. But there is hope…GOD CAN!

Join Amanda on her journey to find contentment. She takes you through her personal testimony and reveals the steps God taught her that freed her from insecurity, strife, distrust, resentment, and chaos in her marriage.

She shares with you how to enjoy your family while waiting on God to restore, transform, and perfect you, your marriage, and your children. This book is a guide to a total FAMILY makeover.

As a mom of four children ages one to ten, Amanda understands the struggles of raising a family today. She shares her own struggles along with testimonies and needs of real families. And she helps you apply true Biblical solutions to the problems that marriages and families face today.

God only needs ONE willing heart to change a whole family. Let that heart by yours!"


From Jo:

This powerful faith-based book is a must read for every family. It grabbed me on the first page and didn’t let go till I had turned the last page. I wish it were required reading for every couple about to be married. As the back cover says, GOD CAN…a thought to carry with you every day.


I thank Amanda for giving me a copy of You Can Have a Happy Family, which one of you could win. Remember to leave a comment on THIS blog by midnight Sunday, December 18 to be eligible for a drawing of a copy of this book. You must be 18 years old and a resident of the U.S. to be eligible for this drawing. Neither I nor my family members are eligible to enter. Winner will be announced on my next Monday blog.


Till next time...keep on smiling.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Are We in the Future?

Monday Musings on This 'N That


Kaye Dacus is a favorite blogger of mine. She posted an article from Ladies' Home Journal, "What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years" by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. Mr. Watkins made his twenty-nine predictions in 1900. Some of them are almost bizarre, some have come true, but some have not.

Before I read thoroughly enough to realize that these predictions were made in 1900, I got excited about a few of them. I wouldn’t be here is a  hundred years but just the thought of some of the things that might happen caused me to share these predictions.

But, you know, let’s look at some of the twenty-nine things I really wish would have happened.

Exciting Prediction #1: “No Mosquitoes nor Flies” Mr.Watkins backed up this prediction by saying that Boards of Health would destroy all mosquito breeding grounds and the extinction of horses and their stables would reduce the flies.

Exciting Prediction #2: “There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated.” That’s good news to my ears. You know I’m afraid of snakes. So, no wild animals, no snakes. Now if the roach bug could become extinct!!! I read once where a Southern gentleman kills the bugs (not the ladies). In the South we rarely have winters cold enough to kill off the bugs. That’s the biggest thing that bugs (pun intended) me about living in the South.

Exciting Prediction #3: “Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself.” Double wow! I do not swallow pills easily. When I was in elementary school and needed to take a pill, Daddy would take me into the furnace room (why that room I don’t know), tell me to open my mouth wide, and he would throw the pill into my throat. It’s a wonder one of the pills didn’t go into my lungs and I might not be here today.

These predictions were right on: “Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance.”/ “Man will see around the world.”/“Telephones around the world.” All done now by internet and wireless phones.

Take a look at all these predictions made in 1900 and see how far off and how close to the truth the items were. You can read them here  I'd love your comments on these predictions.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thick or Thin?

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

Recently I propped up my bed pillows to read some before sleep. The book I planned to read was by a best-selling author and I’d read all his previous books. When I lifted his new book to read I realized it was quite heavy. I thumbed through the pages then I realized the book was well over 400 pages.

I couldn’t picture myself spending the time it would take me to read this thick book. I’m a slow but thorough reader and I could imagine that reading this book would probably take me weeks. The last book of this size that I read was Gone With the Wind. I was in my twenties then with fewer responsibilities than now and thus more time for reading.

So what did I do? I put the book aside without reading even the first page. Reading the first page I knew would cause me to read page two..then page three…. I didn’t want to make a commitment to reading the total book.

On the other hand when I read a skinny book that has many fewer pages than 400 I sometimes wonder if I spent my money wisely. Skinny books can draw me into them just as a 400-page one does. Around 200-250 pages is ideal for me. I do make exceptions, but not to 400 pages.

My lesson here for me is not to bring home a book simply because I know and have read the author before. I learned that I should look to the last page and see if that number pleases me. I must consider my slow and thorough reading ability and do the best I can when reading any book.

"Do what you can with what you have where you are.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Does it make any difference to you how many pages in a book?


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stuff or Truth?

Stuff or Truth?

Monday Musings on This ‘N That
(a day late...sorry)

Yesterday’s newspaper contained more retail flyers than it did news sections. Side by side, the stack of flyers was more than twice as thick as the actual newspaper. All the stores have extended their shopping hours, opening earlier and closing later than before Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, did you shop on “black Friday”? Or on cyber Monday? I read about and realize that on the day after Thanksgiving some stores had super bargains—but super enough to pitch a tent on Monday to be the first in the store on Friday? But, you know what, yesterday’s flyers showed the same stores still have most of those black Friday super bargains.

In this economy when we’re all supposed to be in a bind financially or not employed, people sure are spending money. Or, rather they are spending plastic—credit cards. It wouldn’t surprise me if it may take some shoppers all  next year to pay for what they buy between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We’ve been buying things this way for a while but it seems this year folks are behaving more materialistic than before. So, shoppers are frantic and racking up staggering debt on stuff.

Well and good if that’s what floats your boat. But it’s so, so obvious that the true meaning of Christmas is again pushed to the end of the line by those who love things more. They behave as if they don’t remember, or maybe never knew, the real meaning of Christmas. That saddens my heart.

Instead of buying Christmas presents for everybody, each of the adults in our little family draws a name of one person to purchase a gift for and we also set a maximum cost to spend. Of course, we all give the children presents. But once they’re out of high school and have a job, their name goes into the hat for Christmas giving. This way we don’t over emphasize buying and giving so much as on the real history of Christmas. We each make a list of several things we’d like to receive so the person who selected our name with have a choice of what to buy as long as they don’t overspend our set maximum cost.

As we compile our wish lists for Christmas, may we remember the words of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: “The magic message of Christmas is that God gives us so much more than we can possibly give back! He gave the world the greatest gift of all time. ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6).’”

I hope all of you will have an enjoyable Christmas season of parties, shopping, opening presents, and decorating the tree. And I also hope you receive a gift that will bring a smile to your face and you’ll think of the truth of the season.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hang in There

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

I’ve been told that from Thanksgiving through February publishing houses are not a busy place. No hurrying and waiting,  not many phones ringing, and just plain unproductive. I can understand this happening during the holidays and until January 2. I’ve been told that January and February are good times to submit to publishers and agents. I guess so, since publishing all but shuts down during that time (so I’ve been told).

If the lull between Thanksgiving and February truly happens then the equation I come up with is that it takes three-four more months writers have to wait. If I were asked by an unpublished author for one bit of advice for their writing career I would answer flat out: you have to be patient and not get discouraged.

A writer spends months, maybe years, to complete and polish a novel, submit it to an agent or publisher, and then wait to receive a response. Any response, good or bad, just please let me hear from  you.

This situation in publishing is akin to going to the doctor. You sign in at the front desk, giving your name and your appointment time. You take a seat expecting to be called back shortly because you came in at your appointment time. But then you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Sometimes your’re told the doctor had an emergency at the hospital and will return soon. And, hey, you know what? If it were me having an emergency at the hospital I’d sure appreciate the doctor checking on me instead of coming by after his office hours. I honestly would.

So, as a writer waiting to hear from a publisher, try to keep positive thoughts. I agree that’s difficult. But the publisher may be just finishing all the work required for another manuscript and ours is next in the pile. And when the publisher opens our manuscript we should be grateful if he gives it as much attention as he did the previous one.

While we’re waiting, and even if you receive a rejection, a good step would be to start your next book and continue learning the craft of writing. I hope you’re patient and positive. Neither can hurt you and might help you in the long run.

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes
                             off your goal.”—Henry Ford

Till next time … keep on smiling.