Ein weiteres großartiges Tool von Google*!

Do you speak GermanI received an interesting comment on my last post Euphemism, Anyone? I said to myself, hmm, this is not an English comment. Why, I believe this is in German! This is a German comment! Someone in Germany likes this post well enough to leave a comment. How swell is that?

Wonder what it says? was my next reaction. Of course, here I probably should have stopped to consider that perhaps someone offering a comment in German just possibly might not understand the nuance of English euphemisms anyway. Or wouldn’t they have written the comment in English?

But no, I didn’t think that. My first reaction was to figure out what it said. I found Google Translate. I did not know about this before. This would be a handy tool to use if you want to include foreign text in your writing. Once again, I am amazed at the WWWWW (Wunderbar, Wunderbar World Wide Web).

The German comment:

Denn auf unserem Geschenke und Geschenkideen Blog präsentieren wir schöne Dinge und Wohnkamine. Wir ziehen umher und sehen kontinuierlich mal was uns besonders gefällt und das präsentieren wir hier. Freilich können Sie die meisten Produkte auch sofort kaufen, jedoch ausschließlich via amazon, damit der Einkauf sicher ist natürlich!

The translation:

Because of our gifts and gift ideas blog we present beautiful Living things and fireplaces. We move around and continuously see something we really like, and present the [what?] we are here. Of course you can also buy most products immediately, but only via amazon so the shopping is safe of course!

So while I was initially intrigued by a German visitor, it appears they are really pushing their own agenda here and not offering to contribute to any thought process dealing with euphemisms or why they are so popular.

Thanks, anyway, Moodlights! I appreciate your stopping by to leave an advertisement! Vielen Dank for that! Here’s my reply:

Danke für den Kommentar. Allerdings wäre es besser gewesen, wenn Sie hatte in den Inhalt und nicht als ein Mittel, um Ihr eigenes Geschäft zu fördern interessiert worden. Und es würde helfen, wenn ich Deutsch verstanden, was ich nicht tun. Aber es machte mich neugierig genug, zu wollen, es zu übersetzen, und ich fand diese große neue Google Translate-Tool. Also für das, ich danke Ihnen sehr.

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this makes any sense.

Anyway,Google Translate could be another great tool for writers. Or anyone who needs a translation. As you type text into one box, it is translated into the chosen language in another. There are 72 languages available. It’s doubtful you’d need anything else.

I’m bookmarking this site for future reference. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to vouch for the actual translation. That may be an issue.

But at least it looks authentic.

Blog Update: You may be happy to hear that the popularity of euphemisms is not slowing down. A full 46% of the hits against this blog last week were for 20 Examples of Great Euphemisms. Gah!

* Another Great Tool From Google!

Euphemism, Anyone?

Wordpress

For 2 1/2 blissful years, I’ve been blogging via WordPress. I have nothing but fine, kind words to say about the WordPress blogging tool. It is easy to use, and my posts look how I want them to, and I have now figured out just about how to do everything, and the staff is supportive (writing those informative posts about how to improve the appearance and content of your blog) and last, and most important, they provide a vast amount of helpful statistics which can help in the analysis of what appeals to readers; i.e. which posts are the most popular.

My most popular post was about euphemisms, called 20 Examples of Great Euphemisms. Every day when I go to my stats, there that sucker is, in first place. Every damn day! I’m glad the world is interested in euphemisms but I doubt this is an indication of how well my blog is doing. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it’s doing all that well so when I see there have been 50 views and 30 of them are for that post, I’m not thrilled by the news.

WordPress supplies the search terms used which caused the reader to end up clicking on the link to the blog post, and the term “euphemism” as of today had 456 searches. There were other combinations of search words used, I counted 84 of them which contained the word “euphemism”. What’s with this, I ask myself. First of all, how are so many people getting to this post? When I Googled “euphemism” I went through 50 pages without seeing my post come up. When I Yahoo-ed it, the same thing. Never found it. I finally gave up up this rather fruitless endeavor. Let’s change that. Worthless endeavor.

There could be a few reasons for it but this is all I could think up: People are supremely bored at work and have the patience to mindlessly click on links to articles about subjects only marginally interesting to them, for more than fifty pages of search results. I have no other explanation.

When one is at work, one’s time may be less precious than when one is anywhere else.

Or it could more simply be that there is an inordinate amount of interest in euphemisms and some are willing to go to the “end of the internet” to read every single byte of information collected about these benign expressions which represent something more dire.

Somehow, I doubt that.

Oh, and one more thing. There is one comment on this post. One! If so many people are reading it, you’d think at least a few would say something about it.

It makes me wonder about these statistics.

It also makes me wonder about the future of this blog.

Sometimes You CAN Tell a Book By Its Cover

Emails pop up every day in my inbox, offering eBooks at reduced prices, sometimes free, and I always look at them but seldom take advantage of any of the offers.

But one day a book popped up that immediately caught my interest. I was captivated by the book cover. It’s the picture of a shack amongst trees and a full moon overhead.

Asleep Without Dreaming by Barbara Forte Abate.

Asleep Without DreamingPerhaps It’s because I am partial to moons these days but I thought wow, that’s one hell of a cool book cover. And I liked the sound of the story too, so I went for it.

I’m glad I did. It was beautifully written. Long complex sentences that I often had to read more than once.  It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl, Willa, who is pretty much alone. Her father left her with the woman who was her mother, but with whom he could not live.

Some people should never have children. Willa’s mother, Stella, is one of those. Willa lives her life, one day at a time, struggling to survive. She and Stella leave town one night to start a new life, after one of Stella’s probably shady dealings has blown up in her face. The car breaks down, they end up in a town as dismal as the one they just left.

It’s the story of that summer, spent in a neglected, seen-better-days motel. The prose is dark, it is often depressing, and the reader wants so much for something good to happen to Willa, who asks herself the question “Why is it so easy for everyone to leave me?” Stella begins to disappear for days at a time, until finally she never comes back at all.

There’s a boy, whom Willa comes to know, and their love is so deep that they don’t even need to speak about it. It just is. But all the while, the reader is beginning to speculate, that something is very much amiss, yet hopes please, don’t let it be true.

Many readers don’t like books like this. They want fairytales, and happily ever after, and devoted parents, especially moms with their daughters. This novel has none of that. Instead there are beautiful descriptions, haunting images and profound thoughts.

This book affected me very deeply, as an example of true literary fiction, of not writing to a formula, but writing from the heart.

The book cover captures the essence of the story. In this case, you can tell a book by its cover.

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of boomer lit novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the ”should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.

The following is another section from Perigee Moon. Kate is trying to break up Luke and Abby. She has accosted Abby in the grocery store and convinced Abby to have lunch with her, where she proceeds to lie to Abby about a dire diagnosis she has just received, and appeal to Abby’s compassion and selflessness to break it off with Luke so Luke and she (Kate) can be together again. She has taken Abby’s cell phone and texted him with it. Luke thinks it’s Abby texting and breaking it off with him, which is why he didn’t go to Abby’s house after work, as he has been doing every day for several months.

Here’s Abby at home. Luke hasn’t come and there is no word from him, which is making her assume a lot of things.

When she wakes it’s seven o’clock. She’s been alternately crying and sleeping for hours. Her head aches, her eyes are swollen, and she feels heavy as if she can’t move her legs over the side of the bed to stand up. But she does and goes to the bathroom and starts the water running in the big tub, adds some bubble bath and lights candles.

It’s dark already. She hears rain on the window. The wind gusts and rattles the screens. She’ll have to put the storms down soon. It’s a hard job and one she dreads, and she had been planning to ask Luke to help her with it. Thinking of him brings fresh tears to her eyes, which are already scratchy. They’ll be swollen for a day or two. She remembers how it had always been. Go on a good crying jag and it’s cathartic while it’s happening but you’ll pay for it the next day.

She decides to get a glass of wine, goes downstairs and there is a half bottle of Cabernet on the counter, opened last night. She takes a glass and the bottle. This could be a long night. A long, cold November night.

She’d thought it possible he might come out like always, and they’d discuss it and then she’d tell him about the lunch with Kate and she wouldn’t assume everything was over between them. If he wanted, or needed, for things to be over between them then she’d let him tell her that. He didn’t come. It’s past seven, he should have been there over an hour before so she knows. He won’t be coming.

He’s with Kate. Kate’s got to him and he’s succumbed. Otherwise, he would have been here as he said he would. He’d never before said he’d be there and then not showed up or at least called to say he’d be late. Something is wrong and Abby knows what it is. He doesn’t have the guts to face her. That’s why he hasn’t come. So much for the vows of honesty between them. Maybe it was too much to hope for, that there could be honesty when it comes to leaving a girlfriend and returning to a wife.

She’s never thought of herself as his girlfriend. She had never been anyone’s girlfriend really, and it would have been nice to contemplate the status of girlfriend back, oh eight hours or so ago, before things had changed so much. Now she is no one’s girlfriend and no one’s wife and no one’s significant other. She is back the way she’d been before June. Alone. Alone with Milly and Buzzer, her only companions in the evenings. The crazy lady who talks to dogs.

Kate had said Luke belongs with her. He will never belong with Abby. No, he belongs with, and to, Kate. And she wonders, now that Kate has said she wants him back, does he realize that was what he’d wanted all along?

Kate is the mother of his children. A big draw for any man, she knows that. It’s why John could never completely commit to her. And Luke won’t be able to either because of that shared experience that she can never give him. The gift of a child, with the melding of chromosomes, half his, half Kate’s. And Kate might be sick, really sick, and she wants him back. How can she, Abby, stand in the way of that?

Got Daffodils?

Granville Garden ClubIt must be spring! The 68th Annual Daffodil Show happened last weekend in Granville, Ohio. Granville is where Abby (from Perigee Moon) lived in the old farmhouse. Now Luke is there with her, and I guess they must be living happily ever after out in the country and about to begin their new growing season.

The Daffodil Show, you say? There are more varieties of daffodils than I would have thought possible, and they aren’t just yellow either! Take a look at this beauty.

Daffodill2You may have noticed the springy new look for my blog, and the header picture was taken at the Daffodil Show. I used my Canon Digital Rebel XT SLR camera, because as much as cell phone cameras have improved, they still don’t compare to this baby. The drawback, of course, is that it’s heavy around the neck, and it’s more complicated to use but the results are usually worth it.

I snapped up the pictures of the lovely Daffodils and then edited them using The GIMP. It was a simple matter of cropping, removing the irksome blue cards with the name of the species on it that appeared next to the flowers and which are impossible to not include in the photos, and adjusting the color here and there (hue, saturation, contrast, brightness, stuff like that) to get a better look, one that I considered to be quite nice, although a more seasoned photographer would probably smirk and point while whispering “Amateur”.

So be it. I am an amateur. I discovered by adjusting the hue and saturation you can effect an image that doesn’t resemble the original, but is a blurred, kind of impressionistic version. I liked it. This technique was applied to the header picture, to make it look cartoonish, rather than realistic.

Note this example, the original and edited version:

DaffodilBeforeAfterThe Daffodil Show was held in an old mansion, which is interesting in itself, and of course the visitors in attendance had their special brand of Garden-y quirkiness.

There are the seasoned Daffodillers, who know everyone and glide about expressing their gratitude for the hard work of Mrs. Xtreme-Daffodil who has coordinated the arrangements, the shifts of workers and the refreshments, not to mention the flautists engaged to lend a refined aura to the whole event.

Not too many men were in attendance, and the few that were, were accompanied by their significant others who had specimens on display. Most of the men not with women wore hats with ear flaps.

Always on the lookout for a bit of person-watching, I spied a woman behind the refreshment stand, (which contained assortments of cookies on three-tiered stands and bowls of malted milk balls in Easter pastel colors). Her body language indicated that she was uncomfortable and the smile she had plastered on her face told me that this was her first stint serving up sweets, and in fact, may be the first time she had participated in the Daffodil Show.

I immediately came up with a story for her. She is new in town and wants to become involved, wants to meet people and make friends. She is introverted by nature, which is why she has trouble finding anything to do with her hands, so she crosses her arms across her chest, uncrosses them, puts them at her sides, before moving them to clasp behind her back, at which point she crosses her arms across her chest again. Repeat. She stands beside the seasoned candy-pusher who’s been doing duty for 67 Daffodil shows before this one, and smiles as she’s introduced to this town person and that town person, but her grin is a little forced and her eyes tell me, Just Get Me The Hell Out of Here and I Will Never Do This Again.

I could be wrong. That’s just what I came up with.

My friend was “working the show” and accepting credit cards from anyone who wished to purchase daffodil bulbs, when uh-oh, the computer crashed. Dang old computer program was written by “one of the Garden Club women’s husband”. One would think the Garden Club might install some generic software, but no they had custom stuff. My friend said, “you know, the type where the backspace key means erase the hard drive”.

After several minutes of chin-pulling over what to do, the decision was made to reboot the computer and then all was well, my friend’s shift was over, and we adjourned to accomplish other activities,  involving cards and wine.

I snapped, snapped away — while I wasn’t busy spying on other people — and then, because I am relatively inexperienced as a photographer, I did a little touch-up with The GIMP.

Enjoy the show!

Daffodill10 Daffodill9 Daffodill8 Daffodill7 Daffodill6 Daffodill4 Daffodill3

Guest Post: Patricia Sands, Author of “The Promise of Provence”

Today, I have the honor of welcoming Patricia Sands, a Boomer Lit author, to my blog. Patricia is the author of the newly-released The Promise of Provence.

I just finished reading The Promise of Provence today, and I found it to be terrific, full of surprises and a richly character-driven novel with beautiful descriptions of France. If you’ve ever entertained the idea of visiting the south of France, I highly recommend this book. It will certainly lure you into making the decision to do so. It’s a wonderful story of love and loss and finding happiness in unpredictable ways, and throughout the message is “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

Here’s Patricia!

Music

Music and writing: what works for you?

There is an ongoing discussion on this topic. Some writers prefer silence to concentrate, while others crank up the decibels to find inspiration. Then, of course, there are the in-betweeners, happiest when soft background sounds bring calm to their creativity.

Whether the writer is a plotter or pantser, did not seem to factor into the equation, when I queried some other authors.

I seem to make my decision based on what I am writing at the moment and how easily it is coming to me. There are days when I turn on the music first and let it guide me to where I want to go. At other times, I am so focused on what I want to say, that I forget to put any music on. Those are generally the days when I find myself still in my nightgown at noon!

When I was writing The Bridge Club, the time frame of the story spanned from the 1960’s through to 2010. What a trip down memory lane! There’s no question that the tunes playing as I wrote each section contributed greatly to bringing back the reminiscences I needed in order to write the story.

I began with Bob Dylan, Gord Lightfoot, and their cronies and worked through the Beatles, Stones, and Woodstock era, Motown, the Eagles, Leonard Cohen, the Tragically Hip, Elton John, the Eurythmics, U2, Coldplay, Diana Krall, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson.

The songs from such different times and places had the power to evoke the same emotions as then and bring memories flooding back.

As the characters aged in that story, there were definitely days when my choices leaned more to classical and jazz. Somehow though, our Boomer generation has never abandoned the musical history we experienced in our younger years. The proliferation of ‘oldies’ radio stations bears testament to that and this was definitely the music that most inspired my words. At times the music relaxed me and at other times it was invigorating.

When I began writing The Promise of Provence, we were living in France for five months and I listened to a great deal of French music. My greatest discovery was Zaz, a young woman with an eclectic Gypsy jazz style that I found energizing. You can find her at http://www.zazofficial.com/.

Since I was also writing about the pain and joy of romance, Adele was another constant companion.  When I typed “The End” I almost felt I should list her as a contributor!

There are most certainly times when music is my muse. What would you say?

the promise of provenceSurprise, shock, and a shift in life as she knows it tumble into Katherine Price’s world when least expected. The future she envisioned suddenly vanishes, leaving little to focus on beyond her career and the caregiving her elderly widowed mother might require.

Fate has other plans for Katherine.

June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves. Ancient hilltop villages beckon. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

As Katherine explores the romantic cobblestone lanes of medieval towns, the beautiful boulevards of Paris and the sun-kissed Mediterranean coast of the Côte d’Azur, unimagined possibilities present themselves.

An enduring story of hope and change in life’s later years is woven through the author’s love-letter to France. Like a well-travelled friend, Patricia Sands invites readers into a world she loves and entices them to linger.

“Be prepared to fall in love with Provence! This is a story that will draw you in with its vibrancy in setting and characters. A must read for any woman with a desire for romance and travel.” Steena Holmes, author of Amazon bestseller Finding Emma

Buy The Promise of Provence on Amazon:
USA / UK / FR / CAN

Visit Patricia Sands online:

http://www.patriciasandsauthor.com

http://www/patriciasands.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax Day Will Never Be The Same

alzheimerribbonIt was one year ago today, April 15, 2012, that I lost my father to Alzheimer’s disease. Without the drugs and procedures which kept him alive, I might have lost him earlier than that, but thanks to pacemakers and blood-thinning pills and blood pressure medicine and a myriad of other things, we were able to have him until just last year, when he’d forgotten so much that I think he simply forgot how to live.

I was not with him when he passed away. If only I could have known when it would be, of course, I would have been there but I thought he’d be around for quite a while longer. The ironic —  no not ironic, more like tragic — thing was, I had considered going to visit him that weekend but didn’t. No excuses, I just didn’t go. It’s a six-hour, two-night hotel stay, so I opted not to go. I probably had something else going on.

What could I have had going on that was more important? Well, funny, I can’t remember. I had been hearing things, he’s losing weight, he’s having difficulty swallowing, but still, I didn’t go, because I thought there would be other weekends.

But then the call came, and it was too late. He died alone.

My Dad was a big man, 6′ 3″, over 200 pounds for most of his life. When he died, he was tall, but not big. He’d fallen to 155. He didn’t know anyone, he pretended he did, but if I’d asked him what my name was he wouldn’t have been able to tell me. So I didn’t ask.

The last time he recognized me was in January of 2012. He had me, and his son-in-law, and his two granddaughters with him that weekend, and he was so glad to see all of us. But visiting stressed him, because I think he knew he was failing in some way and didn’t want any of us to see that. He always seemed to cut the individual visits short, but was happy to make plans for the next one.  So we visited him for short periods, three or four times a day. He seemed to like it that way.

The last ten months of his life went like this. In June of 2011, he was living in an Independent Living Facility with his wife. My stepmother wanted us to come. Something was wrong. The doctor came and his heart rate was so low she said, get to the cardiologist, immediately.

The pacemaker had malfunctioned. So he had to have a procedure, and then rehab, and in his confused state he declined and the recommendation was that he needed to be in an Alzheimer’s care facility. So off he went. He still didn’t know what was happening and never knew he had the disease. While he was living there, we’d visit him and there were other patients with differing levels of dementia. One woman liked to go barefoot and she couldn’t talk and she was constantly fluttering around and she’d pull up a chair and sit within any circle of family members visiting their loved ones.

“She’s got Alzheimer’s,” my father whispered.

Everyone does here, Dad, I wanted to say. But I didn’t of course. We’d never told him and it was too late to do it at that point because he’d never understand.

Shortly after the January visit, he fell, went to the hospital, and they decided he needed even more care so he went to a skilled nursing facility with a lock-down unit.

The changes within that 10-month period were too much for him. People with dementia don’t tolerate change well. I believe too much happened too soon. He no longer knew who we were. On one visit, he babbled about his home town to a guy sitting next to him while we sat there, not knowing what to do. Pretty horrible.

I got the idea to write this post from Stevil who wrote a post about his father and how his father always seemed old to him. It was just a couple of days ago, and he included an old family photo. It gave me the idea to do the same thing. Here’s a picture of the Happy Family before the Usurper (brother) came along.

Tax DayAs Baby Boomers, many of us early ones have already lost both parents. Some are lucky enough to have one or both of their parents still, but not too many do. And the younger BBers will soon be, or already are, dealing with aging parents issues.

Alzheimer’s is especially heinous, I think. It scares me because now I have that hereditary proclivity for it too. None of my grandparents had it, and all four lived long lives so maybe I’ll luck out. Or maybe not.

We are more aware of dementia because we’re living longer, kept alive by drugs and surgeries. My personal choice is not to take prescription drugs just because they’re prescribed. I will take what I need to prevent certain things (like stroke) that could cause me to be a burden to my family.

This will not make me to popular with some, but I wonder if it might not be better to let nature take its course a little more often. The pacemaker and a myriad of drugs kept my father alive. But he had Alzheimer’s. I wished there was just one drug that could cure that.

I worried that he’d be scared, as you hear all Alzheimer’s patients go through that period when they know something is seriously wrong and are agitated and confused and afraid. Then they settle in to the final stage, and the fear goes away, but so does all remaining cognition.

Alzheimer’s is the worst. It’s horrible for the person going through it, and it’s horrible for family and friends.

Now, I don’t think of the last year of his life anymore. I choose to remember him the way he was before that.

Goodbye, Dad.

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of boomer lit novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the ”should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.

This excerpt occurs after Luke has initially contacted Abby. It is the second time they’ve seen each other since the reunion. He finally made the call, and Abby invited him out to her house for a simple dinner. As he left, Luke asked Abby to go to a movie and dinner the following Saturday night.

They’ve just left the movie, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, chosen for its PG rating. (Abby had told him she wasn’t ready to see an R-rated movie with him for which she made no apology.)

They decide on seafood for dinner. While they wait for a table, they sit at a wrought iron table outside with a glass of wine. Luke tells Abby he would like to help out in the garden, become her apprentice. She smiles at him when he says this, and tells him he can come as often as he likes.

“I used to have a garden,” he says. “But it was nothing like yours. Just a few things, some lettuce, tomatoes, summer squash. Easy to grow herbs.  But since it’s just me now, I haven’t had one.”

“It’s become a big part of my life, growing, picking, canning, freezing,” she says. “By fall, I’m relieved to go indoors and relax for the winter, but in spring, I’m ready for the next season. The break is good. I feel renewed, ready to go again.”

“I’d like you to teach me,” he says.

“I’d be delighted.”

Author’s note: Of course. She’d be delighted. That’s what she’s thinking. The more she sees of him, the better she likes it.

At a Crossroads: Contrived Plots vs Quiet Stories

IntersectionDuring our lives, we occasionally have periods of lethargy, of standing still, as if on a four-way street corner wondering whether to cross the street, turn left or right, or go back home. And it’s fine when we come to these places, if we stop and ponder what to do next. If we really think about it, rather than just plod on doing what we’ve been doing because that’s what we do.

I’ve been writing for several years now, and I love to write, although I haven’t been commercially successful with it. In fact, the ink is red when looking at income versus expenditures. I’ve thought about quitting, about reentering the work force, about volunteering.

I am confused about all of it. I haven’t worked on a novel in nearly a year now, because I made the decision that I’d market what I have first. It makes it harder to get going in the morning, when faced with marketing. I’d much rather sit down and reread what I wrote the day before, and tweak it, which is how I work.

Marketing is just a swirling mass of stuff. It’s easy to get a book out there, in either print or electronic form, or both, and there are so many good writers and so many good books, that it must be like Halloween to a five-year-old. Where should I go first? Which should I choose? Which is better, best? Which is funnier or more haunting or has the best characters or the best plot or the best action?

With so much competition, and much of it so good, and dare I say, better than my own,  it’s no wonder it’s hard to get books in front of readers.

Sad 3D Man FreeDigital Photos Dot NetFor several months,  I’ve been waking up in the morning with a bad feeling. I’m not moving towards a goal. I’m like a fly at a picnic, I don’t know where to go next. What’s the best way to spend my time?

I think it’s because I’m not working on a novel. I’ve been thinking about another book, but the ideas have been coming slower than usual. I can’t seem to get it going.

The new one will be different from my other novels.

This might be the one. If I can pull this off, and can say to myself that this is the best I have ever written, then I can be satisfied I will have accomplished what I have set out to do.

Okay. So that’s decided.

Meanwhile, I saw a tweet (Twitter must work) from a woman from whom I have taken several classes. And they were mostly good classes — I learned a lot. This class is in story structure, which I thought I could benefit from. My novels are so character-oriented that this time, I want more.

After reading the description of the course, I decided to do it. It lasts for one month, the month of April. Online, very convenient, work at your own pace, and at your preferred level of involvement. Perfect.

Three published authors were mentioned in the synopsis who will contribute to the lectures.  These authors must have great story structures, right? Since they are offering up their expertise?

A good thing to do, thought I, in preparation for this course would be read a book by all of these authors, and dissect the stories and see how each story fits into the structure.

Doesn’t that make perfect sense?

By not mentioning the name of the course or the authors or titles of the books, I can protect their anonymity since I don’t intend to write reviews of either the course or the novels.

Book #1 was the best written of the three. It was funny, sarcastic, cleverly written. Wow, I thought to myself, I am really going to enjoy this book because I love the writing. Even though this is not my usual genre, I am going to really like this a lot. And I will learn so much from it because it will have great writing and I like the main character and the plot will be, like, totally cew-ell. About half way through things started to get confusing. Everyone double-crossed everyone else. There was so much double-crossing going on I was bleary eyed and found myself shaking my head and saying “wha-att?” In the end, there were five murders, IRS agents who were really assassins, an ex-girlfriend who was really a murderer,  murderers murdering other murderers, and the grand finale, the final double-cross by the hero. There was one character who turned out to be a double-crosser and ultimately a murder victim, which still makes no sense to me. It seemed to serve no purpose other than to get the hero (who was a nearly good guy) off the guilt hook.

Book #2 wasn’t so well-written. It started with one murder and one disappearance.  The alleged perpetrator was a character who was written as hugely malign. There wasn’t one shred of decency in this horrible man. Bad to the bone. Nasty, mean, vicious. Accused of the crimes, shipped off to jail. Years later, it was determined that Mr. Bad Guy didn’t really do it. Even though he was 100% evil, he did not commit the murders. So who did? Two murders later, we find out. What a contrived story that was. And the son of the wrongly-accused-yet-horrible-man alleged murderer and the daughter of the wonderful father never-did-no-wrong-to-anybody murdered guy, end up together in the end. Okay! Whatever.

Book #3 was worst of all. Interesting, that I read them in the sequence I did. What starts out as an accidental death on a park trail, (woman pushes man, man falls over cliff and dies) ends up with woman covering up the death because they were arguing at the time about whether to keep a sack of diamonds  which was found on another dead body they happened to encounter along the trail. The evil woman wants to keep the diamonds, the good husband (who recently found Jesus) says no way. This book contained no profanity (“he called me a name you would call a mean woman”) and interspersed throughout were Bible verses and references to being saved. Gulp. Okay, last chapter. The body of the husband was deliberately switched at the morgue with a John Doe. But wait! He wasn’t really dead! He was in a coma. Thankfully, he came out of it on the last page but that’s where the story ended. Oh, and the coma guy’s sister and the coma guy’s best friend got together. Ah.

It’s clear I can’t compete with this kind of stuff. Nor would I want to. I will continue with the class, but comparing my plot with some of the other students’ plots? No way. Let’s just say  — No puedo hacer eso.

I can’t do it. I’m sticking to my Quiet Stories.

3D Man photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.

Boomer Lit Friday

Perigee Moon Cover jpgI’m participating in a Boomer Blogging Extravaganza which will take place every Friday. It’s a way to bring attention to the new genre of books called Boomer Lit. Click here, Boomer Lit Friday  to go to your one-stop shopping boomer lit blog which will feature snippets from a variety of boomer lit novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

Perigee Moon is the story of a man who has a life crisis, who comes to realize that he must be true to himself and makes the changes necessary to remove himself from a ruined marriage and the ”should do” world in order to have the lifestyle he craves.

This excerpt is some internalization by Abby, a few days after meeting up with Luke again, after 45 years. They had seen each other on Friday night at the Reunion, and gone out together on Saturday night and he’d asked if they could see each other when they got back to their respective cities. Abby thinks if he were serious, he’d have called by now. She was sure serious about getting together with him, and she is very disappointed that she hasn’t heard from him.

Abby is a left-winger, an earthy gardener type, who believes in doing the right thing. I liked the character of Abby, she was fun to write, but it was easy to stray into that goody-goody land which might make her character less appealing.

Abby wishes she’d have asked Luke for his numbers too. Women are now allowed to call men. It has long been an acceptable practice. She works outside in the garden for an hour or two each day, then goes inside. Maybe he’s called. She checks voicemail and caller id for a number which could be his. Sunday, after she’d got back home, Monday, Tuesday, then Wednesday. How long did he intend to wait? Maybe he’s had second thoughts. That was always the problem, people had second thoughts, decided no, that hadn’t really been such a good idea after all.

By Wednesday, she decides, figures out, that he probably won’t call. If he had been serious, surely he’d have done it by now. When the phone rings after dinner and caller id says “Private” she feels hopeless but answers it, just in case. It’s possible, people could be “Private” too, isn’t it? But it’s not a person, it’s the Democrats asking for donations, time or money. No, she wants to yell at them. Leave me alone, don’t ask me about this stuff now, I can’t think about it. She feels like crying, she’s that disappointed.

She pours a glass of Pinot Noir and lights several candles in the bathroom and soaks in the big tub until the water goes cold, so she lets some out and adds more hot, something she would never have done under normal circumstances. Usually she is conservative, about everything except politics. Conserving water and heat and gas, so she doesn’t consume more than necessary. Recycle, recycle. Recycling is the way of her life, preserve the earth, leave it in as good shape as possible, don’t be conspicuous in your consumption of anything.