How Olga Screwed My Happiness

I received the following email from Olga. The subject line was “your profile to produce on me greater impression”. Naturally, I was curious.

hello lynn!

how are you today? What is your name?
my name is Olga, You frequently are on this site ?
I today wanted to talk to you in a chat
You have yahoo or hotmail ID? if you write to me, ok?
I shall wait from you the letter with impatience


Of course, I didn’t want to be rude. I answer all emails that are sent to me. Which is why I have no time for anything else. I get a lot of emails! And the more I respond, it seems the more I get. Funny how that works.

When you learn, teach. When you get, give. (Maya Angelou)

I responded to Olga as follows:

Hello there Olga!

I am fine today! Although yesterday I was lesser fine, today more so am I fine.

My name is Lynn, but you already must are knowing it since you say nice hello lynn!

In a chat today I am so liking to do!

I have ID for yahoo, hotmail no ID for me is having. Writing to you now, I will do it!

Not to wait with impatience as now I am sending the letter. With impatience I am also waiting for your nice reply. Hope soon it will come!


I waited (with impatience) for Olga’s reply. Olga must have a few email addresses because the second one was a little different. Yet, I am sure it is the same Olga, my new-found friend! This time the subject line was “Watsup bro”.

You have drawn my attention to a site of acquaintances. I hope, as I shall like you. How I to you in a photo? See here The truth – pretty? 🙂 But in a life I more nice!!!
And as I cheerful, kind, sociable and fluffy! I like to go in for sports, read books, to listen to music. I love winter and summer. I do not love spring and slush.
If I have interested you, with pleasure I shall tell about myself more in the following letter.
I wait for the answer on


Ah, Olga. I can’t click links, much as I’d like to. I just can’t do it.

Dear Olga,

I am drawn with much pleasure to the acquaintances site, as already I know I very much like you.

Of course you are cheerful, kind, sociable but fluffy I am not sure I am liking, but will try harder! I at sports cannot do, I am sorry to say, as bones are aged and break easily, yet I watch with happiness. I like read books also and music also. When spring and slush I take you to South France for weeks in luxury hotel. I have much to give you!

Very deeply you have interested me, but please send picture personally as I am old and not trusting of links in emails. Sorry! My staff of servants tell me “Do not click on links” and believe them I must since they are well-paid by me and in my employ for twenty years more.

You have not address to me an endearment, of which I am feel very sorry when last time you said dear lynn.

With great fondness, Lynn

Olga returned my email that very day! I was so happy to get it, after we had struck up this nice friendship. Yet again, she had a different email address. This time is was

Dear lynn,

When hearing from you last time, I cannot believe my luck to have found such a friend.
Fluffy is meaning happy-to-lucky and filled with funny. No more than that!
In spring we go to South france? Can you send me for a ticket? I like to fly first class, do you?
See my picture here. Not sending links as you say you will not click.
Do you know Western Union? They are convenient, and are friends there. You can send money for ticket to me there?

Love to you, Olga

Wow! That happened fast. Olga wants to visit the South of France with me! This is the picture Olga attached.


Lost no time responding to Olga.


Western Union is not close with me. Please can you explain it? You to me in the photo will be as an angel who I see before sleeping and as soon on wake. Olga, I am very much liking your picture, and will we be together soon in France? I hope so.

Here is my picture and I am waiting for you to tell me what you think of it!! Please write soon as I wait with your impatience to receive hello from you!

With great love and affection, Lynn

 Here’s the picture I sent Olga:


The very next day I got another email from Olga:

You have very much interested me.
It will be pleasant for me if you want with me will get acquainted.
It will be very pleasant for me to find the friend or second half through the Internet.
We can exchange photos.
You can write to me the letter on this electronic address
I wait for your answer.

My name is Olga.

I do not think Olga and I to South France will go. I am not liking, and I must say to Olga: “Olga, if you are out there you are screwing my happiness!”

Olga image  courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Man on crutches image courtesy of stockimages at

Eight Words That Empowered Me to Become a Writer

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce guest blogger Carol Fragale Brill. Carol has just released her novel, Peace by Piece. I am excited to read it, as it sounds like a storyline I will enjoy, and isn’t it a clever title?

Front Cover.4075736 Final UTO BookBabySix years after fleeing college and Thomas’s betrayal, Maggie has nearly given up on love. Enter Izzie, a motherless eight year old, and every maternal instinct kicks-in. There is not the first love thrill with Izzie’s dad, but Maggie lets herself believe loving Izzie will be enough to finally lock Thomas out of her heart.

Dealing with unshakable first love, family, relationships, the difficulties of being a step-parent–all overshadowed by the curse of anorexia and bulimia–Peace by Piece is ultimately about hope and second chances.

Lynn, thank you for the opportunity to visit and talk a little about my writing journey and the support of other writers–like you!

About 15 years ago, when I started writing my novel, Peace by Piece, I had no creative writing experience, had never attempted to compose even a short story, or taken a single creative writing course.

I was such a newbie, I didn’t know what I didn’t know—or that what I didn’t know could fill a bookcase. What I did know is that there was a book inside me that longed to be written—a not-yet-imagined story burning to get out.

By the time I finally joined a writing critique group, I had fantasied about writing a book for 20 something years. Empty-handed at my first meeting, the other writers urged me to draft something to read at the next meeting. Two weeks later, I timidly read the three handwritten pages it had taken me hours to write. Our meeting host, a kindly writer named Herb asked, “Where do you want to go with that?” Eight simple words, yet somewhere from the depths of my uncertainty those eight words empowered me to blurt out, “I want to write a book!”

Now mind you, I had just read three dreadfully over-written, scribbly pages—if they had been typed, they would barely have filled one double-spaced page.  Yet, Herb didn’t laugh, or say you must be kidding, or (and this would have been warranted) your writing stinks. He smiled reassuringly and said, “Good, you’ve got a start. Now, one page at a time, write your book.”

That night, if Herb or any of the other writers had been truthful about the sorry state of my writing, they could have shattered my writer’s ego. It might have taken me years to find the courage to try again. But, those writers knew I was a newbie and it wasn’t their job to tell me whether I did or did not have talent, or how much my writing needed to improve. (Later in my writing journey, as I gained some self-confidence and thickened my writer’s- skin, there would be plenty of opportunities for feedback like that!)

Instead, Herb and the others simply encouraged me to keep writing.

Developing as a writer, completing a novel, and facing down the publishing process has been daunting at times.  More than once, I have asked myself, “If I knew then what I know now, would I have even tried?”

I will always be grateful for Herb’s simple words of encouragement, inspiring me to page by page write Peace by Piece—and nudging me, word by word, to become the best writer I can be.

How about you—any shout-outs to other writers whose feedback has impacted you?

Carol Fragale Brill’s novel, Peace by Piece is available at:


Amazon: Paperback:

Amazon e-book:






Carol-001 - 188 x 250 72 ppiCarol earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Poets and Writers named her fiction the 2010 Maureen Egen Writer’s Exchange first runner-up, A novel excerpt turned short story was selected as a favorite for the Philadelphia Stories Anthology. She writes book reviews for New York Journal of Books. Her work has also been published in Wide Array, Philadelphia Stories, and The Press of Atlantic City. Find her blog at



My Smashwords Adventure!

Distressed Woman FreeDigital Photos Dot NetNote the familiar lady pulling her hair out.

No really, it wasn’t that bad.

I went to the Smashwords site and downloaded Mark Coker’s Smashword Style Guide and read it through once completely and several chapters twice and three times. I won’t repeat everything in the guide. It is very complete and informative, yet still I had a couple of unanswered questions. I did further research and thought I’d share what I learned and what worked and what didn’t.

They strongly suggest you use something called The Nuclear Method. This method insists that you will save yourself a whole lot of trouble if you copy your entire manuscript into a text editor. At which point, you do the opposite, copy your text document back into Word. Removes all formatting! Yippee, we can start with a completely virgin document.

I so did not want to do this.

I use italics to denote emphasis, (which maybe I should not be doing quite so much of but that is a subject for another day) and all my italics were going to be wiped out if I did it. Gone Italics.

I needed to figure out a way around this and discovered something interesting. In Word’s Find functionality, not only can you search on a text string, but you can search on formatting! I didn’t know that before. Here’s how it’s done:


Click More

Then click Format, then font, and you’ll see the familiar font screen come up where you can select the format you are looking for. Note the search for “Font: Italic” in the red circle. Now I could use the Find Next functionality for each occurrence of italics in my document! Unfortunately I could not replace the italicized text with anything, but this was better than the alternative. For each instance found, I put the text string “qqq” behind it.


There were 145 instances of italics in my manuscript and I knew where they were when the original document was back in Word because I searched on “qqq”.

I copied the document to Wordpad (my choice but you can use any text editor), opened a brand new Word document and pasted that sucker in. I turned off all Autocorrect and Autoformat options. This is spelled out in the Style Guide.

Next I created eight styles. I only used seven of them and Normal.  Here is a very good article about how to create styles in Word. No need to repeat that here.


I didn’t end up using SWTitle. I had wanted 16pt bolded text, but for some reason the bold didn’t take. It did, however, work for SWTitle, defined as 14pt bolded so I used that instead. This is an example of stuff that can happen, for which you can find no explanation.

I could have fooled around trying to get Smashwords to recognize it the way I intended but decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. Ebook formatting is evolving and maybe the Smashwords “Meatgrinder” just needs to be tweaked a little more. It will get better and better with time. It didn’t seem something for which I should tear out any more hair. I have precious little left at this point.

Depressed 3D Man FreeDigital Photos Dot Net

Modify the Normal style however you want it and use it for all your internal chapter text. Don’t use it for the front matter, the table of contents, and chapter headings. Use specific styles for all that.

This is my Normal. I used Times New Roman for everything. It is good practice not to use too many fonts, one is ideal, maybe two at most.

Format then Font


Format then Paragraph

Normal2I defined other styles as I needed them, all based on Normal except SWChapter which was based on Heading 1.

I couldn’t figure out from the Style Guide how page breaks worked. I don’t care how the front matter looks, even if it all flows together, just so there is some space between the sections, I am good with that. It is an ebook and everyone formats their reader a different way. It isn’t important to me that any of that starts on a separate page.

But I wanted the chapters to all start on a separate page. I don’t like it when I see new chapters directly following the previous one on the same page. I researched and found that the page break before is the way to go. The style SWChapter has a page break incorporated into it, which you set up when you define that style. And it works! I recommend it.

Everything in my manuscript is a style. I never once used the little Word buttons in the menu to change the font, or bold, or italics or alignment. Maybe you can do this and it will work but I didn’t.

My next novel will be written with this in mind. That’s if there is a next novel.

I went through my manuscript, applied the appropriate styles, and added “*****” between sections. I did this (reluctantly) because I could not discern enough space between the sections and I wanted to make sure they were noted by the reader.

Last step. I searched for “qqq”, applied the italics, and of course removed the “qqq”. Tedious.

One hair-tearing experience I will note. I spent way too much time on it but it seemed worth looking into, and then I got stubborn about it.

I had lines of mixed styles. I used SWNoIndent followed by a partial line where I applied SWItalics. This was followed by a line return, followed by a Normal paragraph. This sequence occurred in three places.  In two places I got no line return between the multi-styled line and the normal paragraph, which was wrong, yet in one instance it was correct.

I figured if one was okay, it could be done. I turned on View Formatting Marks and juggled it around, experimented with the SWNoIndent and SWItalics styles at the ends of the formatted line and the line return, until I managed to eliminate one of the no-spacers. So now two are right, and one is wrong, yet they are formatted exactly the same way. One error remains. I give up. Smashwords has beat me. Much as I hate to say it, sometimes there just ain’t no explainin’ it.

It just is.

I would recommend simplicity and I would think twice before doing the multi-format-on-a-single-line-thing again. Less is better when it comes to ebooks. No need to get fancy.

My book went through the Meatgrinder, though, with no errors, first time.

Here are two great articles I read while preparing this post.

Smashwords Formatting Tutorial

Smashwords Formatting for the Lazy

Update: Forgot to mention, if anyone would like a sample of my file to use for reference, just contact me and include your email address and I’ll sent it out!

Frustrated Woman and 3D Man photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.

Seven Questions About a Very Important Subject

One thing that has always interested me, is people who do things to the extreme. Who take a good thing, or an okay thing, and do it to the extent that it becomes bizarre, unwholesome, and endangers health and happiness.

I was drawn to people who tan too much, who tattoo too much, who pierce too much, who work out too much. Those who stretch their ears so they dangle down around chin-level. People who augment their lips, breasts and butts and once they do it a little, they think “just a little more” until they lose sight of how gross it has all become.

Here are a couple of examples.

Tenk you to my family fodda gym membership! It's been a great six weeks.

Tenk you to my family fodda gym membership! It’s been a great six weeks.

That was some party last night! Hope I didn't do anything I'll regret...

That was some party last night! Hope I didn’t do anything I’ll regret…

But what can you say about that, really? We know people exist who do this, and if you’re like me, you’re kind of morbidly fascinated by what people are willing to do to their bodies.

I googled “extreme” and followed that by every letter of the alphabet, trying to find extremes that one might not necessarily think of. I did find one, “extreme eyelashes” that was pretty cool.

Ack! I hate clumpy lashes.

Ack! I hate clumpy lashes.

But when I got to the letter “i”, I found something veddddy innnteresting!

Extreme Ironing!


Extreme Ironing is for real. I am not making it up. People take ironing boards to remote locations and iron items of clothing. According to The EI folks, Extreme Ironing is the “latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”

Here are just a few (there are many more) locations of where Extreme Ironing has taken place:


Extreme Ironing3extreme Ironing2Extreme IroningI have seven questions for our Extreme Ironers.

  1. I note that all the pictures of Extreme Ironers are men. Why is this, when we all know it’s women who do most of the ironing?
  2. Has the shirt been correctly laundered, i.e. stains removed, fabric softened, color-safe bleached when necessary?
  3. Is the ironing board cover clean and in good repair, i.e. no rips, tears or spray starch stains?
  4. What about your iron? Do you use steam? Have you flushed it recently with distilled water?
  5. What if my shirt is permanent press? Doesn’t ironing become moot?
  6. How does it work, when you iron a shirt underwater exactly? Can you do this without getting an electrical shock?
  7. Where do you plug in the iron?

Just curious, you understand. I do think it is a very, um, unusual, concept.

The Body Builder by Slim45hady
Body Art by Frederic Poirot
eyelashes by arsenic

Entertainment Pie

Like UnlikeA couple of pieces of Entertainment Pie. From opposite sides of the world, and opposite sides of the enjoyment-meter, experienced on the same day.

First, Life of Pi, which was a beautiful movie. The story of a young boy and Richard Parker, the full-grown Bengal tiger, who was first his adversary, then his friend. Pi said, if it hadn’t been for Richard Parker, he would have died on that little boat, but the conflict between them kept him alive. It was a movie that I wasn’t excited about seeing, yet I knew I would be wrong about it and end up loving it. Other movies hold more “curb appeal”, that is they look good from the outside, but this one was great all through. I usually think 3D is cheesy, but it worked for me this time.

Then back home for Super Bowl XMVII. Ah, yes. Glitzy entertainment at its very best. First of all, I care not one iota about either of the teams, except that I dislike the Ravens because of Ray Lewis and because of what Art Model did to the Browns fans. Not that I’m a Browns fan either, but I know lots of them, and what he did was further proof that it’s all about the money. Sure, I know, it’s a business like any other, but there a few million Brownie fans who don’t agree.

A few things I noticed:

First of all, before the game, there is clear evidence among the players of TMT (Too Much Testosterone). Yet, when Alicia Keyes does her (and it wasn’t too bad, notwithstanding the little warbly thing at the end) rendition of the National Anthem, the tears fall through their under-eye black smudgy things.

The Ravens looked like they were wearing skinny jeans and the 49ers looked like a high school football team clad in red and gold.

The commercials have gotten so out-there-somewhere you don’t even know what they are selling.

A huge percentage of players have those cheesy, blotchy blue tatts. Yesterday, before the movie, I sat next to a tattoo “perfess’nal” and he had tattoo sleeves of lovely hues of red, green, blue outlined with black. Is there some unwritten rule that colored tatts are somehow wussy and unless you get them done by your best friend who got his equipment mail order and gets you all liquored up so he can shoot some meaningless blue ink into your pigments, y’all aren’t a real manly man? I don’t get that. Those football players are well-paid enough that they can afford the very best in body-defacement, so why don’t they ever have it?

If I had heard “Jim Harbaugh can’t believe it” once more, I’d not be here today. I was about to hurl myself off a six-story balcony.

On to Beyonce. I guess she felt she needed to prove herself after the Inauguration lip-sinking scandal. I personally am not terribly into her, but also know that I am probably in the minority. I was sure impressed with her flexibility and the fact that she can gracefully rise to her feet after settling into a sitting position with her legs wrapped around each other Yoga-style. She is quite, uh, lively, clad in relatively little, very windblown, and the flaming guitars were a nice touch.

Made me nostalgic for Tom Petty.

The gross lip-smacking kissing commercial between The Beauty and The Nerd was disgusting. Again, what was that selling?

The two Chrysler ads, designed to put a tear in your eye as solidly as a Hallmark commercial, felt a bit contrived to me. Especially So God Made a Farmer, a tribute by Paul Harvey to the American farmer. Who knows if he’d have wanted his words used this way?

The eTrade baby was just so-so, not the best. The cute baby thing may have outrun itself.

The blackout brought back memories of the Ben Affleck movie, the Sum of All Fears where the bad guys rig the coke machine with a nuclear bomb. Maybe N’Awlins isn’t quite ready to host this thing? The announcers were sweating, trying to keep up a lively patter during thirty-some minutes of darkness. They were continually “bringing us up to speed” with reruns and pictures of Evil Ray — his last game ever, you know. “The power is slowly returning” they’d say. Slowly returning? It’s either there or it’s not, I’d have thought.  “The power continues to ramp up.” Oh. Good. “More and more banks of lights!” and, heh, heh, “Beyonce must have knocked out the lights!” and “The stadium seems to be getting brighter and brighter!”

Speaking of announcers. Oh the pearls that fall from their lips. Love football-speak.

If they’d have played man-to-man coverage, this’d never have happened.

You need to be super conservative with the football.

Stop the butter coming up the middle.

San Francisco is going to have to come up with some turnovers. (This said at a time SF was down 28 to 6 – ya think?)

Someone didn’t send a check in the mail.

They are professional athletes.

They know how to stop and restart.

When you’re down 28 to 6, you have to go force the issue a little bit.

The 49ers need to stay patient. (It’s still 28 to 6.)

They need the big class play down the field.

You take away that interception, he’s really throwing the football.

Since the power outage, things have changed.

The fair-catch, free-kick rule. (Say what?)

Image courtesy of basketman at