Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Used Book Sales

I love used book sales held at libraries. I live in a metro area that has about a dozen public and college libraries within a twenty-mile radius of my house. I went to a sale this past weekend and will go to another next weekend. Fall seems to be book fair season around  here. Yay for me!

I want to share with you some of my (old) new books, but before I do that, let’s take a look at some that I didn’t buy.

How Not To Read: Harnessing the Power of a Literature-free Life, by Dan Wilbur. The blurb boasts of techniques on how to fake your literature knowledge. Additionally, it states that if you must read something, tips on how to read fast and cut corners are within the books pages. That’s one hundred-seventy-six pages a non-reader has to slog through to learn how to fake having read. I love it. It’s so ridiculous!

Next up: How To Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading, by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. This book, dubbed “a living classic,” was first published in 1940. It’s a guide for comprehension techniques for a variety of reading materials, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and so on. It’s a hefty book, four-hundred-twenty-six pages of information.

And, while I’m sharing “opposites,” how about this one?  The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as If He Doesn’t Exist by Craig Groeschel. This title’s a toughie. I think we all can relate to this kind of behavior. I know I can. Groeschel, a minister, reflects on his life when it does not match up with scripture. The word atheist turned me off to this book. It caught my attention because of the oxymoron in the title. Now that I’ve done a little on-line research, I kind of wished I would have picked it up.

Oh, and one of my all-time NOT favorites: Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson, M.D. I hate this book so much because I once had a principal who made it ‘required reading’ for the staff. The worst of it was that she was a lunatic and expected us to follow her lead. Every time I see this book, I cringe. And I always seem to find several copies at library book sales.But then I found Who Cut the Cheese? By Stilton Jarlsberg, M.D. It made me happy to see a parody on my most hated book ever! (It too, is a self-help book, but with a sense of humor.)

Now, on to my great buys: I found three first edition books this time! That doesn’t happen very often. 

I’ve done some research; these first two are only worth a few bucks in the book market. All The President's Men by Bernstein and Woodward and First On The Moon, by Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin. I’ll hang on to them because of the subject matter. I’m sure at some time the asking price will rise. (Who knows if I'd sell, anyway...)

The third book was a flash-back to grade school. I remember studying the Kon-Tiki way back in the day. I looked this book up on-line and it seems to be selling in the $300.00 on up range. I hit the jackpot on a seventy-five cent investment. (But I’m not selling just yet.)

I purchased four other books of interest, for a total of $6.75. A very good investment I think.

Visit your local libraries’ book sales. They’re great fund raisers for your public library’s programming and you’ll get all the really good stuff in return! Now excuse me while I read a new (old) book.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Las Vegas Strong

Courtesy of Google Images
Ten days ago. It’s already been ten days since shit hit the fan in Vegas on October first. It wears a person down. Depression and anxiety rear their ugly heads. It’s all part of the radiating evil of the whole thing-to make us feel afraid and vulnerable.

Evil will not win. We can’t let it. Even though we might be afraid, might feel vulnerable, we will keep on keeping on. It’s the American way. It’s what we do. I love that about us.

On Tuesday, October 3rd, my sister,Nanette, her husband, and some of their family members were heading to Vegas for a family wedding and vacation. I talked to my sister before she left. She said she would stay aware of her surroundings, but she would not let some bastard dictate how she lives her life. Hear! Hear! little sister! I agree whole-heartedly.

Courtesy of Google Images
On Thursday, October 5th, Tim and I and our daughter and son-in-law went to a Chris Stapleton concert. The arena opened the doors and hour earlier than they typically do. Every person was wanded. Every purse was looked in, and every hat, too. Every single person was patted-down as well. We knew this would be happening, and yet we were determined to live our lives and keep on keeping on.

During the concert Mr. Stapleton talked a bit about the tragedy in Las Vegas. He stated that by them (his group and him) being here at the concert, (Taxslayer Center in Moline, IL) and us (the audience) being here meant that we denounced evil and all of its potential ramifications.

Then, for the victims, survivors, and families of the shooting,(and really, all of us, I think,) he sang his song, Broken Halos (Click the title to listen to his song.)

I just talked with my sister, and asked her about the mood in Vegas this week. She said everything seemed to be “business as usual.” Other Vegas visitors, like her, mentioned it to each other on elevators and in waiting lines, but that was it. “No one seemed to be thriving on it,” she said.

Oct 8, 2017. Courtesy of ABC News
One thing she did tell me was that on Sunday night, all the lights on the strip and in the casinos dimmed for eleven minutes. (That’s about how long the rampage lasted.)

Peace my friends.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Empowering Girls through Princess Stories

Even the male illustrator is listed before
the female author. That's just not right!
Usborne is a well-known children’s book publisher. They create beautifully illustrated books for children of all ages. People who purchase Usborne books expect a quality story for their children. Unfortunately, all is not well in the Usborne Kingdom.

A few days ago, my three-year–old granddaughter chose a nap-time story for me to read to her. It was a beautiful pink color with a cute little girl princess on the cover.

The Unsborne Book of Princess Stories. Looks good, right? Wrong. And let me tell you why. There are four short stories in this book. Two of them are fine, but the other two are ridiculously anti-girl power. Here’s the gist and my take on each story.

The first story is entitled The Princess and the Pig. In this story Prince Max and his sister, Princess Alice, are playing outside. Alice finds a little pig stuck in a big mud puddle. She pulls the little pig out of the mud, while her brother, Prince Max, reminds her that she’s not supposed to get her dress dirty. “Don’t let Queen Mama see you. She told you not to get your dress dirty.” (Seriously????? What year is this? 1960?)
Alice ignores her brother and washes the piggy...and she gets in trouble for getting her dress dirty. Alice is undeterred.  She kisses the pig and it turns into a little boy prince. (Sure, why the hell not? Makes perfect story sense…) Queen Mama says, “We can’t have a strange prince in the castle, change him back.” So Alice kisses him again and he turns back into a pig. (What kind of a queen mom would refuse a little boy who’d been turned into a pig? If I was a kid hearing this story, I’d be so stressed about having the boy turned back into a pig!)

The next story, thankfully, is better. In The Dragon, Alice and Max find a hungry little dragon. They bring him home and feed him. And because he’s a fire-breathing dragon, he becomes the royal fireplace starter. (He gets to live in the castle but a pig-turned-little prince-turned-pig-again is sent away? I’m still bitter over that one.)

The third story is a real piece of work. It’s called The Tournament. The castle is excitedly preparing for a jousting tournament.  Max gets to practice jousting but Alice can’t, because no girls are allowed. Alice, bless her little rebel heart, won’t have it. She dresses in her brother’s clothes and calls herself “Alex.” While jousting, “Alex” knocks a boy off his horse. Alice is found out when she trips and falls off her horse. (She didn’t even get the respect of being jousted off. Just another clumsy girl, I guess…) Queen Mama says to her, “You’re a very naughty girl.” (I thought this story was so bad, I talked with my granddaughter about how girls can do all kinds of stuff that boys can do, too. Then I re-read it two times, changing it to: “The boys and girls all practiced jousting together. Sometimes they fell off and got hurt, but they got back on their horses and kept practicing.”)

I didn’t even want to read the final story, The Royal Broomstick, but I did because my granddaughter had to put off nap-time as long as possible. Luckily, this book ends on a stronger note. The children go to visit their grandmother in her tower. Grandma is not there so the kids decide to wait for her and end up playing with her magic broom.They get on it and fly out the window. They have great fun and even find grandma’s pet cat stuck in a tree. They bring the cat home and grandma is happy her kitty has been found.

Fifty percent of the stories in this book are stupid. The marketing department at Usborne did a great job on the cover and back blurb. They made it sound so inviting, without telling a lie about the contents of the book. No mention of the Princess Alice being naughty or dirty or trying to do ‘boy things.’

This post is getting long, but hang with me for a minute more. I can’t close without telling you about an awesome, strong princess book. The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch is the kind of princess story children should be reading. 

In this story, a nasty fire-breathing dragon burns up the castle and everything in it. The dragon carries off the prince and leaves the princess behind. Since everything is gone, destroyed by the dragon, including her clothes, she finds a paper bag to wear as a dress and heads out to save the prince. She goes through hell and high water to get to the dragon’s lair and rescues the prince. BUT, he’s an asshole, so she tells him off and leaves. It’s a great story of courage, perseverance and self-respect.
"Elizabeth, you are a mess!
You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess."

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I've Been Ghosted

I’ve been GHOSTED. Not the kind where you knock on your neighbor’s door and leave a paper ghost with a treat, either. 

If you’re under thirty you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Since most of my readers don’t fit that particular demographic, I’ll explain. 

Everything I know about this particular GHOSTING I learned in passing while listening to talk radio. When it happened to me, I confirmed the definition by checking Urban Dictionary. (Cuz that’s the kind of researcher I am!)

So, here it is, according to Urban Dictionary.

The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just "get the hint" and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills. Many attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but it in fact proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels.

Yep. I happened to me. Only not with a date, but with my so-called editor. Here’s how it went down (in brief.)

Sept. 5th through 11th.
Email # 1 from me: “Are you available?”
Email # 2 from her: “Yes! You’re timings perfect, I just finished a project.”
Email # 3 from me: “Fantastic. I’d like you to evaluate my manuscript with an option to edit at a later date.”
Email # 4 from her: “I can do that. It will cost $120.00 through Paypal or credit card.”
Email  # 5 from her: “I have your payment and file.
Email # 6 from her: “I’ve finished my evaluation. Thanks for letting me read. What specific questions can I address?”
Email # 7 from me: [A list of three questions about my manuscript.]

Sept. 12th
Email # 8 from me: “I don’t believe I’ve received your evaluation. Did you send or still working on it?”

Sept. 13th
Email # 9 from me: “On pins and needles over here…” (Trying to be cool…)

Sept. 19th
Email # 10 from me: “I want my money back. You failed to fulfill your end of the deal.” (Not in so many words, but close.)

So here I am. It’s September 21st and I’ve been GHOSTED bad. I have no idea what went wrong. Maybe my three questions were too hard to answer. I don’t know. I have no idea.

So I did a little internet creeping. (“Research”) And I found that her editor’s twitter account has been very quiet. Not much activity since August. But her personal twitter account is very active. Like she posts ten times a day. What’s up with that? I thought maybe she’d been hit by a bus and couldn’t get to a computer to communicate with her clients.

And since I’m somewhat passive aggressive, I actually replied to one of her twitter posts. (Hello. I’m out here in the world. Waiting for you to finish the work I paid you for.)

And she LIKED it. What’s up with that? Either she has an auto-like setting or she’s got no integrity at all. What really frosts me is that she’s got a copy of my book. Legally she can’t do anything with it because it’s my Intellectual Property, but still. Urg!

Any who, I’ll be moving on to the next starred name on my list.  This time I’m digging even deeper into that prospective editor's shit.

Wish me luck. AGAIN!

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ask a Compelling Question

I went to a party last weekend. It took place in a garage on a warm September night. Everything was very casual and relaxed. Including the napkins.

Yep. The napkins.  

They caught my attention right away. I started rifling through the pile  so that I could read all of them. There were about eight different designs. 

These were my favorite.

The first one is a drawing of a Weiner dog on a skateboard. Above it says: WHAT’S THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS THING YOU SAW TODAY?

Courtesy Google Images
Next to that one is a drawing of a guy holding a smelly sock in each hand. You can tell the socks are smelly because the wavy lines radiating from each sock is the universal drawing signal of stink. Just ask Pepe Le Pew. 

The question asks: WHAT DID YOU DO TO CHANGE THE WORLD TODAY?  (The guy says “I changed my socks. That counts.”)

The third napkin shows a drawing of a dog in a suit and tie carrying a brief case. The title says: SWAP DAY! WHO WOULD YOU SWITCH WITH AND WHY?

The final napkin has two drawings. One of a guy surfing a huge wave and the next of (I presume) his legs and feet upside down sticking out of the water. It says” WHAT PART OF YOUR DAY WAS MAD WAVES. AND WHAT PART WAS A TOTAL WIPEOUT?

Google Images.

These napkins remind me of when my kids were in school. If I asked them, “How was your day?” or “What did you do/learn at school today?” the answers were as vague as the questions. 

So I got smarter. I asked more direct questions such as, “What was the coolest thing that happened today?” and “What was the grossest thing that happened today?”  

Now those questions produced some very interesting answers! (Like the time a student got his finger stuck in a hole in his desk and the school had to call 911 because his finger was so swollen he couldn’t get in out.)

You know the drill. Google Images.
It’s good to reflect on your day. It’s good to ask yourself pointed questions. That’s how we grow and learn about ourselves. That’s how we become aware of how we affect others.

I’ll play the napkin game, but you have to also, okay?
The most outrageous thing I saw today was two wasps fighting or copulating, I’m not sure which, on the porch floor. I’ve never seen that before!

What did I do to change the world today? Well, I walked from Target to Best Buy instead of driving. They’re next to each other with only a small ravine between each store’s parking lots. I saved some gas and made a little less pollution.

If I had a Swap Day, I’d want Tim to go with me. BUT, I’d swap with JK Rowling or Dan Brown or SE Hinton for a day. See what it’s like to have the literary mind and chops of these folks.

Mad Waves today? I spent at least six hours (not all at once) writing today. And I ate at Steak & Shake (a treat!)
Wipe Out today? As of this moment, I haven’t received an email correspondence I’ve been waiting for. Frustrating!

Now it’s your turn.  Go ahead. It’s fun!

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hiring An Editor

I’ve talked about my novel, THE INK OF TIME, a lot on this blog. I’ve been working on it for a long time. And as you may know, I’ve been kicked in the pants by my baby sister to get this project to its next stage. See “My Sister Says Tick-Tock,” posted this past April.

I’m happy to say, after much research, I have hired an editor! 

Image courtesy of Google
I typed “Editors for Hire” into Google and started by just clicking on everything that came up. And I looked a lot of web sites.  I came up with a list of about seven editors that felt right to me. I wanted someone unassuming and reasonably priced.  (You’d be surprised at how many editors’ web sites were just the opposite of these two things!)

Also, I really needed an editor who likes science fiction. THE INK OF TIME is not hard-core Sci-fi, it doesn’t take place in a strange new world, but it does have time travel, which is considered a subcategory of science fiction.

Image courtesy of Google
As I've said, I made a list of seven names, out of a million. That seemed like a good start, so I went back though those seven and starred my top three picks. A few days later, I looked up the first starred name on the list and thoroughly went over her web site. I really liked what I saw.

Like all the other editors, she offered a variety of serves in a range of intensity. Such as ‘light edit’ or ‘heavy edit,’ etc. All services were described and suggestions  given as to which service one might need most/first.

Image courtesy of Google
However, this editor went a step further. She provided samples of a light and heavy edit of the same document. An apples-to-apples comparison. That really got me interested.

So I emailed her. And she emailed back!

I’ve asked her to do a Manuscript Evaluation of THE INK OF TIME. She will read my novel two times and then write a detailed critic letter about the work. She told me it would take her (only) three business days to get back with me.

I’m on pins and needles! I’m not scared. I’m excited.  I think I’ve grown emotionally as a writer. I’m becoming more confident in my work. Oh, I know I’ll have to make revisions and changes and who-knows-what, but I say “Bring it on!”

Image courtesy of Google
I’m not there yet, friends. But I’m closer than I was yesterday.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


P.S. If this partnership works out, I’ll share my editor with ya’ll!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Don't Talk to Strangers

It was early September. The temperature and humidity levels were perfect. I was driving down a busy four-lane thoroughfare with my driver’s side window down, listening to the radio. The street light ahead was red and a truck next to me slowed for it at the same rate as me.

The passenger rolled down his window as we both drew to a stop.
“Hi,” the passenger said. I stared straight ahead, pretending I didn’t hear him.

“Hi,” he said again. I continued to stare straight ahead, but contemplated rolling up my window. And-get this-I thought that would be rude. Even at the same time I was thinking this situation could turn dangerous, I thought to roll up my window would be rude.

All sorts of horrible scenarios flashed through my head, beginning with being flipped off to having a gun pointed at me.


A third time!

Human nature is crazy. I didn’t want to look his way. I didn’t. I wanted to ignore him. He was only five or six feet away from me. Just ignore him I said to myself.

And I looked over.

“Hi.” It was young kid. Probably in high school. I gave a feeble wave. He turned toward the passenger in the middle seat as he rolled up his window. That was it.

The light was now green and off they sped. I saw that it was two young men/boys and a girl with a brown ponytail who rode in the middle between them.

I watched them, as I drove thorough traffic, for as long as I could. I wanted to see if they “Hi’ed” anyone else, but there were no more red light opportunities.  They turned off into a local park.

I’m sure those kids were just goofing off. Maybe playing an ‘ I dare ya’ game. And that’s fine. I did that kind of thing back in the day, too.

The thing is, in this world things can spin out of control at any given moment.  I still can’t believe I looked over. I did exactly what he wanted me to do. Geesh!

Also, I hope that they specifically picked me for their little game because I looked so benign. But what if I wasn’t what I appeared to be? I, too, could have been something scary for them. I don’t want to be the kind of person that expects the worst out of my fellow human beings. And I don’t want to be naive and think that all people are good. I know they’re not.

So where’s the happy-medium?

I’m hoping that my intuition would let me know what to do. I hope that I looked at the guy because I somehow knew it was a simple situation of kids goofing around.

Another side of me says that I faced my possible danger instead of ignoring it.

How many times in our lives have we done something that Could Have Gone Badly? For me, probably too many to count. Being aware of those times, well, I don’t know if that’s helpful or not.

Both images courtesy of Google

One of my favorite saying is “Be the good you wish to see in the world.” That’s what I try to do each and every day. Facing possible scary situations shouldn’t change that daily goal.

There’s another saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Thanks for that one, Teddy R. 

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself,