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 “baby boomer” novels. It’a a good place to get a taste of what boomer authors are writing about.

This is a section from Perigee Moon that I especially like. Abby has been upset all day, about Kate’s following her around, confronting her in the grocery store, calling her. As usual, it looks like Kate might win out. Luke has just returned to Abby, from telling Kate to back off and leave them alone.

“There is such a thing as being too unselfish,” he says. “Why can’t you acknowledge your right to a good life? Don’t they say that before you can love someone you have to love yourself?”

“It’s funny you should mention it because that is exactly what I thought about while you were gone.”

She tips her glass toward his. “To us,” she says. “I decided that when you came back, if you said what I’d hoped you would and you did, that I would put this episode of Kate behind me. That I would do something selfish for a change. Because I love you and you love me and that makes two people happy. If you went back to Kate and were happy that would also make two people happy, so it would be even. But if you aren’t happy and only one person is happy, that being Kate, then it wouldn’t be beneficial to you or me. And I have also decided that I have as much right to be happy as she does.”

“I’m glad the math works in my favor,” he says and laughs. Another example of Abby’s odd logic.

“It’s funny,” she says. “Not funny. Strange. I didn’t see you for all those years and I was fine with my life. Then we ran into each other again and I knew right away that I loved you. And now, after the last few months, I know I couldn’t go back to not being with you and be fine with my life again. I would miss you every day and my life would be less rewarding. Does that make any sense? That I couldn’t go back to the way I was?”

“Yes,” Luke says. “It makes sense. Because it’s the same for me. Let’s get married.”

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:

Createspacehttps://www.createspace.com/4075736

Amazon: Paperback:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615741010

Amazon e-book:  http://www.amazon.com/Peace-by-Piece-ebook/dp/B00B9H5IC8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361361695&sr=1-1&keywords=carol+brill

Blog/Website: http://4broadminds.blogspot.com/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Carol-Fragale-Brill/112297472164769

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6924892.Carol_Fragale_Brill

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17339184-peace-by-piece

Other:  http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/reviewer/carol-brill

Email:  carolfragalebrill@comcast.net

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 www.4broadminds.blogspot.com/

 

 

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Makes a Stop Here

3D Man Holding Perigee MoonThanks to Carol Fragale Brill of 4 Broad Minds for tagging me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Carol’s new novel, Piece by Peace is coming out very soon and I am excited to read it. I have read all of Carol’s thoughtful reviews of other books, and I have a feeling her novel is going to be a good reading experience.

As part of this exercise, I am to answer 10 questions about my latest work:

  1. What is the working title of your book? Perigee Moon (Just typed “perogee”, isn’t that some sort of Polish potato treat?) But a definite maybe for the title of an oncoming new novel. Perogees at Noon.
  2. Where did the idea for the book come from? One night, in Clearwater FL, I was awakened by the full moon shining in the window. I got up to go outside and look, and take pictures of it. It was so bright that the sky appeared burnished, more brown than black, and the moon glowed a bright gold and little wispy clouds floated past it. Later, I learned the reason it seemed so ethereal (fancy-schmancy word which means “real purty”) was because it was one month before the Perigee Moon, when the moon appears much larger to us earthlings. It was a nature phenomenon when one thinks about how we are all pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of the solar systems. I got the idea of a character feeling that same way. Later it evolved into him having an “oh I get it now” moment when he views the Perigee Moon. Then the idea of the controlling woman, the bad marriage, the change in lifestyle the character wants to make and finally, the reconnection with a woman from his past.
  3. What is the genre of the book? It is women’s fiction, and as a sub-genre it is baby boomer lit, since the character grew up in the fifties/sixties. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Big boom in boomer lit these days!
  4. Which actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition? For the main character, Bradley Cooper. Demi Moore for Kate,  since she did such a good job of sexually harassing Michael Douglas in Disclosure. Perhaps Diane Keaton for Abby. Think these actors are up for this challenge?
  5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 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.
  6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher? Self-published. I have neither the time nor the patience to do otherwise.
  7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? About one year.
  8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My other two, Second Stories and Whatever Happened to Lily? No really, I’d like to say works by Elizabeth Berg and Anne Tyler but that is a privileged society of which I am merely one of the unwashed who elbows her way to the front of the line in order to get a closer look at the limo.
  9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was inspired to try humor. I tried to inject it in certain places, although to say it’s a real thigh-slapper would be frugal with the truth. Whether the attempts at humor worked or not, I am not sure. Like everything else, humor is personal. What’s funny to one is inane or misunderstood by another. There are a lot of my own reflections in it, especially the “workspeak” where Luke has his second epiphany about where he should direct the rest of his career. Things that became intolerable to me, found their way into this novel. Sometimes we need to step back, take a look at what we’re doing, decide if it is providing the satisfaction we crave, or whether we’re like the proverbial hamsters, doing what we do because it’s what we do and what we’ve always done.
  10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s a nice story. It’s a character-driven novel, and those characters are, I think, believable. And everyone can relate to what happens to Luke. We make choices when we’re young and sometimes they aren’t the correct ones. We turn left, but a right turn would have been better. (No pun intended. Ah. The English language, so ripe for punnery.) We can watch a character become true to himself, and instead of doing what others want, he learns to do what he wants.

Now it’s my turn to tag three great authors. I’d like to pass this opportunity on to Jenny Gill, Johanna Van Zanten and June Collins. These women have become good cyber-friends of mine and I have read an reviewed all their books.

 

 

Baby Boomer Literature – A New Genre?

Last week, I read an article on Boomer Cafe called “Author Claude Nougat Knows the Next Trend in Publishing”.

Boomer Cafe.. it’s your place is a site that explores issues which affect people of the BB generation. You can find informative articles about financial management, health issues, trends, retirement topics and lots of other interesting subject matter, and they welcome contributions from readers too.

boomercafe_02

The article header says:

“Almost since we reached middle age, advertisers and marketers have sold us short. They said we no longer represented the demographic they were looking for. Well, we’ve got news for them: baby boomers are the biggest, richest demographic in the world today. Author Claude Nougat already knew that, and has begun to promote books written specifically for, and about, baby boomers. She says, it’s the next phenomenon in publishing.”

Coincidental. I had been thinking about pitching Boomer Cafe to do a guest post of my own. But I didn’t have to do that, because Ms. Nougat did it first. I have been talking about this for a long time myself, so I was very glad to read it and discover others were thinking the same way.

In the article, there is a link to a Goodreads Group specifically for BB authors which promotes nothing but BB Lit. YEAH! It took me eleven seconds to sign up for the group and comment. All you readers who are BB authors, you need to check this out! You are not alone. Help is on the way.

Here is the Goodreads group and this link is also in Claude’s article.

Since that article was published, it was picked up by the Passive Voice. It attracted some, shall we say, negative attention. Here are a sampling of some of those not-so-nice remarks:

”As for many baby boomer novels being published, last time I pitched one I can’t remember if the agent guffawed or gagged.”

“There are, Lord knows, some Baby Boomers out there who are so self-absorbed that they think the sole function of popular culture is to chronicle their every whim and eructation.”

“To come to such a conclusion does indeed require the assumption that whatever stage of life the Baby Boomers are going through at a given moment, the paramount purpose of popular culture is to record it.”

“The bottom line is: Old people just aren’t very interesting (I know, I am 65).”

And later, the article was picked up by Kindle Nation Daily. This site didn’t generate much negativity. Most of the commenters felt it was a great idea and many listed books they have written. Some interesting titles: “Bastard Husband: A Love Story”, “Sex, Lies & Hot Tubs” and “The Old Guy Rules”.

Naturally there are going to be a huge cross-section of people who don’t want to see this, especially those who have it in for our generation, that we are all a bunch of selfish, it’s-all-about-me, self-centered crybabies. If you don’t believe me, google “baby boomers suck” and see what you get. We are blamed for everything from the financial crisis to the current political situation to the high medical costs. We are responsible for taking younger people’s jobs because we won’t die off soon enough. We are aiding in the demise of the world and causing the earth to warm by our conspicuous consumerism.

This is disconcerting, that as a generation we are viewed that way. Personally, I have always been rather pleased to be part of a world-changing group of people. We were sought after, and marketed to when we were younger, but now, not so much. A while back I bitched about NBC taking Harry’s Law off the air. Their reasoning was, we’re old, we’re stuck in the past, we don’t switch brands, we don’t buy enough stuff. All crap, of course, but it appears we, as a generation, have outlived our appeal to advertisers.

Still, there is strength in our sheer numbers, 79 million being one of the more popular counts. It’s decreasing daily, of course, as we die off (although not fast enough for some). If only a portion of this group is interested in reading novels about people their own age, that is still a sizeable market.

The oldest of us are beginning to retire. I did. Gave up the Corporate Hell Life in order to do what I wanted to do. In the coming years, people will retire in great numbers, and with retirement comes leisure, and with leisure comes more time to read.

Baby Boomers Do Not Suck. We are still cool and we will rock our nursing homes. And we’ll still be reading.

It’s about time we had an official Baby Boomer Literature genre.

Rock 'n Read

Rock ‘n Read

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Clipart

 

 

The Baby Boomer Reviewer?

I’ll drink to that!

This post started out as a whiney, complainy, bogged down piece of crap-writing that I started weeks ago and then decided never to publish. And I keep whittling it down, taking out the Poor Me stuff until this is what remains.

I’ve been on this marketing project for several months now, and not getting anywhere with it. As a matter of fact, it’s downright discouraging. Many of the new writers I have come to know are having a lot more success than I am. I am beginning to suspect that there are a lot of folks out there who have no interest in what I write, which is fine. Not everyone likes the same thing.

However! It might be time to ask, “Hold up a minute here! What’s the problem?”

So far I can’t figure out what the problem is. Whether I am not reaching my target audience or whether my target audience really would rather read the Twilight series or Fifty Shades of Grey.  

Photo by saratogajean

Where did everyone go?

Recently, I did a free giveaway of the Kindle version of Perigee Moon and got less than 200 downloads and no reviews out of it, the reviews being the main point of the giveaway. So what good did the whole exercise do? I went to all the book free day sites and made the announcement. I don’t see any positive results in doing any of it, although maybe it will take time for reviews to come in. The more good reviews a book has, the better it does. 

On a more positive note, I believe I have learned a lot about the writing craft in the last decade or so. I know what I perceive is good writing. I know whose voice I love and whose I don’t. I can recognize good writing, believable characters, and excellent stories. So I am thinking very seriously of becoming an “official” book reviewer.

I wrote a post recently about trying to find sites to get my own book reviewed, about the criteria I used to determine if a site would be a good fit. I wrote about the overabundance of people willing to review books about vampires and monsters and other foul creatures, but there were very few, make that none, that I could be absolutely positive would be a site that would want to review books about baby boomers finding their way at last, determining who they want to be later on in life, finding love.

One thing I have always believed, and still do, is that our generation is one of readers. We didn’t have video games and computers and other electronics to distract us when we were growing up, we had television and books. And while many of us have embraced the technology that makes our lives more connected and more interesting, we still basically love to read. As we start to retire, we have more time to read, and what better subject to read about than our own generation?

What if I become the Baby Boomer Reviewer? Books by and/or about that generation? They wouldn’t all have to be in my exact genre, but if they are written by baby boomer authors who just want to get reviewed then I’d be willing to do it. Hell, you don’t even have to be a baby boomer. Just a new author trying to get a start. And, of course, these reviews will be given with no currency exchanging hands.

If I can help to spread the word, help a new author, then why not?

Here’s the catch. I’d have a very hard time telling an author that I didn’t like his work. I’d have to be really honest and that will be hard for me, but a review isn’t worth anything unless it’s genuine. And who’s to say, I might not like it but someone else might love it? I’ve sure noticed that all people don’t like the same thing myself.

I’d be reluctant to give 5 star reviews. I have given them in the past, but really, I think 5 star reviews are reserved for truly great pieces of literature. Prose where I marvel at the beautiful sentences, and the exquisite phrasing. You all probably know by now how I feel about Scott Spencer and Jonathan Franzen. These men have both written books I would consider 5 star quality. But for the rest of us, well, we can’t all be authors of that caliber. We just can’t. It isn’t possible.

I’ve written quite a few reviews lately. Few of them were 5 star, but some of them were really, really good books. I’m including a link here to my Amazon reviews.

I’d post each review on a new My Reviews page as I do them, with a link to Amazon (or wherever the author would like the review directed). Here are some of the genres of books I would review:

  • General Fiction
  • Historical Fiction
  • Literary Fiction
  • Baby Boomer Fiction
  • Memoir
  • Mystery/Thrillers
  • Short Story Collections
  • Non-fiction (as long as I have some knowledge of the topic)

No genre romance, no inspiration, no erotica. No urban fantasy, no vampires, werewolves or drudges. No steampunk — and if anyone can explain to me exactly what this is, would you please comment? None of these interest me and I wouldn’t be able to give a satisfactory review of that material.

I’d love to hear if there are any new authors who would be interested in having me review their work.

Should a Newbie Author Pay For a Review?

Speaking of reviews, Perigee Moon had a nice one here. Thanks to Carrie (AKA Connie) Rubin for including me in her list of books by fellow bloggers. I read her new book too and posted a review here. And no, it wasn’t a case of “you give me five stars and I’ll return the favor”, it was a genuinely fast-paced, exciting, well-written first novel. I recommend it, especially if you like medical thrillers with a little Sci Fi thrown in. Really, I recommend it to anyone.

Another blogger, Peggy Strack, in her post about Credible Reviews and the Debut Author, talked about how she decided to spring for a Kirkus review. Kirkus will review pre-released novels, which can be a great marketing tool, supposing that you get a good review, especially if you are self-publishing.

They (Kirkus) don’t make any promises, send them a crappy novel and you’ll get a crappy review.  If it happens that way, that the review is bad, the author has the option of not accepting it and it will never be seen by anyone. So, hmmm. Doesn’t that mean that all Kirkus reviews will be good ones? On the other hand, why not? If it’s good, it’s good, and if it’s bad, no one will be the wiser, except the author who can cry about it in private.

Kirkus charges between $400 and $500 for a review, which is pricey, and probably another example of an outlay of cash for my rather expensive hobby. My books aren’t selling well, and I am struggling with marketing them. So I’m considering it.

There is another more inexpensive option that I could try, $149 for a Publisher’s Weekly review. Authors submitting to them may or may not have their books accepted for a review. 25% are accepted, and the review still is not guaranteed to be good, which of course it shouldn’t be. These reviews get published on their website, bad or good. I’m considering that too.

I also consulted the Book Blogger Directory, which is a list of blogs/sites of book reviewers who will review for nothing. Normally they specify a genre that they prefer, but sometimes they’ll say “I’ll Review Anything!!” yet when you look at what they have reviewed you see (yet again) books about vampires and drudges and werewolves. So I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be into character-driven novels about people who came of age in the sixties.

I delved into this huge list alphabetically, and went to each site and looked to see if it could be a fit. I got through the B’s which took days of endless searching. And it has to be on a Good Internet Day, which is another story, but the short version is I have a Verizon Mifi Hotspot which tends to suck, on and off, and provide me with less than optimum opportunities to surf.

Literally, I went through hundreds of sites, and found 3 which may be applicable but learned a lot about who I might approach for a review and who I would not. The following is a list of reasons I would bypass a particular review site:

  1. Your blog says “Grand Opening June 30th, 2012” and it’s already August.
  2. The dreaded “Error 404 No Page Found” comes up. This one is self-explanatory.
  3. Your blog is not in English. This wouldn’t be a problem for an author who speaks your language, but you know, it’s probably going to be a bit of a communication barrier for us.
  4. Your last post was one year ago. Got a problem with commitment?
  5. You say you are “not currently reviewing books”. Then what are you doing on this list of book review blogs?
  6. I see reviews for books about “faeries”. Or any of the above-mentioned stuff, for the above-mentioned reason.
  7. You deign not to review self-published books. Aren’t we fussy?
  8. You say you are “currently without internet access”. Well, I know all about that. It can be a real problem, but still, better get on that if you want to be a book reviewer.
  9. You apologize profusely for your absence and give an explanation of “where you have been”. I wonder how often that happens with you, Ms. Book Reviewer. Not sure I want to take the chance that you will go away again and I’ll think it’s because you can’t bear to give me bad news.
  10. Your site offers the possibility to “embrace my decadent desires” and there is a warning that it is a “Mature Site”. Pretty sure this isn’t a good fit.
  11. Your review policy is “Coming Soon”. Shouldn’t you have this figured out before you created your site and appeared on the list?
  12. Your website/blog color combo is such that it makes it impossible for my older eyes to read the text. An example: yellow lettering against a red background. This is obviously an age discrepancy, which probably makes us incompatible as reviewer/reviewee anyway.
  13. Your reviews are so chock full of bad English and misspellings that I don’t think you’d recognize good writing if it fell at your feet. (How do you spell misspelling? Is that right?)
  14. There’s a picture of a guy with a six-pack on your latest review, and it’s not the kind that comes in cans, it’s the abdominal thing.
  15. Your site is too pink. This is irrational, I know. Just  got a feeling about it.
  16. You review The Hunger Games and the latest Nora Roberts romance novel. These books don’t need your reviews, they have the New York Times, among others.
  17. Your latest post wishes me Happy New Year (2012). See #4 above for a question about commitment.

This brings me to question if I might do reviews myself. I already have my Review Policy worked out. I’d review books in my own genre, by new authors, of my particular age group. Is there a market for it? Would anyone be interested? Would I be able to give bad news to aspiring writers? Does anyone care what I have to say anyway?

Is there a future for baby boomer literature? Or matron-lit as it’s sometimes called, although I do hate that term. Don’t you think there must be a lot of retiring boomers out there with more time on their hands now? Wouldn’t they like to read stories about their own age group?

Or are they all living in Fifty Shades of Fantasy Land?

 

12 Things Not To “Like” About Facebook

This post might offend some Facebook users so, true to my wimpy, introverted nature, I won’t post a link to this post from my personal Facebook page. After all, I don’t really harbor any latent death wishes. I will only post it on my Books page since most likely the people who have “liked” that page will forgive my rants, given that you’ve more or less volunteered for it.

Facebook was a good idea in the beginning. Now it’s pretty much tripe. I still look at it, but I rarely comment on anything, and I am not guilty of posting any of the types of things exampled below. I wouldn’t do it, because I very much believe that NOTHING any of my “friends” post about their personal religious beliefs or political sentiments will ever affect how I feel about those same subjects, so I wouldn’t think the reverse would be true.

Speaking of “friends”, that’s kind of a bump-up in the amount of affection I feel for upwards of 75% of the Facebook personalities I am currently connected to. If I were able to recognize even 10% (a generous percentage) of my Facebook friends if I met them head-on in the frozen food aisle, that would be happily surprising.  

That’s not to say I don’t have genuine friends on Facebook and I have marked them as such. But I’ve been gathering info from all the statuses and links so I can blast away at Facebook in this post.

Not all of the 12 are friend-related grievances. Some are just Facebook being what it is, a big colossal waste of time. Not to mention, every Facebook user is in mortal danger of having his or her equilibrium thrown into a spin cycle with flashing blue to pink ads or things that move.

Is that picture of the woman with beet juice on her face moving or am I having a seizure here? Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have combined that goat’s milk with the Happy Hour Sake at Ed’s Sushi Shack last night.

Here’s the list of twelve (and there are probably fifty more):

The “You’re a Winner” flashing banner. This is the blue/pink thing I was talking about. I have won a free Walmart gift card? Somehow I doubt that. And besides, I avoid Walmark like I would a mosquito wearing a West Nile Virus Alert ID bracelet.

This is not a joke! The fact that you have to say that this is “not a joke”, is a joke. What is it about this that is NOT a joke?  I am the 100,000th visitor of the day so I can claim my “prize”? Funny, I have seen that same thing before. How can I be the 100,000th visitor on one day and then again a day later? I don’t get the math here.

Girls online. Well, look at these tarty little Eastern European girls. Warning! They are VERY attracted to westernized men. I am pretty sure I listed my gender as female. I am also pretty sure these fluties would not appeal to lesbians. So assuming these two things, that NO female is interested in flirting with or dating these Eastern European girls, why would you show me this ad? Get with the program, Facebook. It’s not rocket science.

Games. Now, I’m sure there is probably a way to prevent this type of post from appearing. Some setting somewhere. But the real problem is I don’t care enough to investigate it in order to figure out where that is. Do we really have to see this stuff? No, I don’t have any space helmets! And when did we start playing Cityville? I thought we were playing Farmville! Oh wait, the Industrial Revolution must have happened.

Horoscopes. Ah. If only I cared about your Virgo horoscope. Not being a Virgo, and not even giving the teeniest of sh*ts about my own horoscope, I certainly don’t care about yours. But wait. It says “Everything you’ve been working towards is likely to be positively received… “ If only I’d been a Virgo! I hold my parents directly responsible for the misalignment of my astrological future endeavors. However, I believe the key word in the horoscope here is “likely”.

“This person supports” with the arrow pointing at the supporter’s Facebook profile pic. I think some PhotoShopping is in order. How about a little text change here. “This person supports The Ritualistic Sacrifice and Blood-letting of Small Animals.”

Challenges. The above is a nice sentiment. But I refuse to do this just because you Double Dog Dare me to. Sure, Mattel should make the Hope doll. But will they? No. Because it probably wouldn’t make economic sense. So maybe your time could be better spent by writing directly to Mattel if you feel strongly about this subject? I’m just playin’ devil’s advocate here.

Really annoying posters. Speakig of the devil. Oh my. This is offensive on so many levels. First of all, how do you know this kid feels that way? Did you ask him? Did you get his permission to use his image on this poster? Aren’t you kinda playing with fire here? What if this lovely urchin turns out to be an agnostic? He might sue you when he grows up, and you know? That would, like totally serve you right.

Requests to get you to copy and post as a status.  Another nice sentiment. And love the little heart things. The more the better! But no, I’m afraid I can’t do this. Why? Because it is phony and disingenuous? Well, that’s a start. It’s kind of like those billboards you see with the lone Bible verse on it. I always wonder who put that there, who paid for it, and what do they hope to accomplish? I feel the same about this. Of course everyone feels this way about cancer. No need to cheese it up.

Horrific political sentiments. This is further proof that some people are plain mean-spirited, nasty and will say and post anything. This is just vile. It’s stupid and insulting. Want to find a good way to get about half of your “friends” to un-friend you? Post this. The woman who did it got the old hover, unfriend, click from me. Not that she probably cares. And she was after all, not in the 10% that I would recognize in the frozen food aisle.

Unrecognizable pictures of nasty people. Who is this kindly looking gentleman? He looks like a nice man. WAIT! That’s Rush Limbaugh. No fair posting pictures that make him look like a regular guy so that nobody even recognize him. I bet someone just told him his prescription for Oxycontin is ready at Walgreen’s.

Religion-R-Us. Ta-da! The most irritating, disgusting of all — requests that you “friend” Jesus. I made this lovely collage because I couldn’t decide which image was worse. You know how Evangelicals always scoff and titter when someone spots the image of the Virgin Mary in a tortilla shell? This is right down that same religious-nuttery street. To me, this borders on sacrilege. Get your priorities straight. Don’t mix Facebook with your version of religion, whatever that is.

Well, there you have it! Twelve reasons. Do you need any more? Do you have any more?

My apologies that this post went well beyond the 800 word limit. Sometimes I just can’t shut up. 

Photo of 3D Man (sans sign text) courtesy of freedigitalprints.net

All other photos are screen shots from my personal Facebook page.

Will I Ever Be Freshly Pressed?

Will it ever happen? Will I ever be Freshly Pressed?

Alas. So far, it has not been so.

Being Freshly Pressed is a big deal to WordPress bloggers. And we all know that WordPress is the best blogging platform ever (!) with the best blogging tools ever (!!) and WordPress is, well, pretty awesome. (Will this help my chances, WordPress?)

If a blogger’s post ends up on the WordPress home page, he or she can expect high stats, lots of readers, lots of likes, lots of comments, lots of followers. In turn, if the blogger is a writer of books (like me), those readers will see my books, click on the images, buy from Amazon, and write five-star reviews. And I will live happily ever after.

I have never been, nor am I likely ever to be, Freshly Pressed. It just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t the WordPress gurus find me? Why do some bloggers become freshly pressed on their very first post?

And another thing. Occasionally (and I mean this literally – occasionally) I get a notification that a new reader is following my blog. These are so scarce that I nearly always look them up, see what they are up to. I see bloggers who have been at it for four months and have hundreds of followers already. How are they doing that? I have some piddling percentage of that number! Bah!

Enough whining.

I decided to look at each blog post that was Freshly Pressed as of Friday, July 20, to see if I could figure out what was good about it. What was it that caught the eyes of the choosers?

Here are a few of the FPd posts, and links, in case you are interested.

Can a Film Ever Truly Beat a Good Book? Basically no, says the post. If it is a really good book, one where you are drawn in by the characters and the story, a movie will usually come up a lot or a little short. Exception: The Help was almost as good in its film version as the book, but not quite. A very well-written post. 

Hey Rubiks Cube, EFF You! Okay. This is not good, not funny, filled with slight profanities which supposedly gets you bumped from the Freshly Pressed list. The formatting was strange. It had a nice picture of a Rubiks cube. I thought the original had a couple of typos but those have been corrected, if there were any. It was not long, thankfully.

Why Blogging Scares Me. OMG. This was good, the blogger is young (19) and that was apparent, which is fine. I like it a little better if you can’t discern the age or sex of the writer immediately. At least until they give away details so the reader can then figure it out. That’s just me though. The really pissable-off part is that this is the first post this individual has ever written! What?! How does it work that a first post such as this gets noticed and makes the list? I don’t get it. Not that it wasn’t good but… Really? Does this blogger know someone who is calling the Freshly Pressed shots?  It was well-written, despite a plethora of italics, bolded text and caps.

Shirley the Sheepish Feminist. This is pretty good, a post about feminism and why Jerry Seinfeld, in his new show Comedians Driving Around Getting Coffee, found  no women comics to drive around and chat with, only men. 

DIY Scratch Off Cards. Okay, who in their right mind wants to waste time making scratch-off cards?  I’m sure these cards work fine, and there were detailed instructions complete with pictures on how to make them. But why would anyone do this? In the event that I am completely missing the irony intended and also duly noting its originality (i.e. that anyone would have investigated this topic enough to write about it) I’d have to say this was very good.

Why I Watch The Newsroom. I have been told this is a very good series. I intend to watch it, so I was interested to read the review, which was good. From the comments, most think the show is excellent or were encouraged to watch by virtue of reading this post. It was a good review.

Follow the White Rabbit. I didn’t get much of this. It’s about artificial intelligence or something. I started yawning as soon as I realized this. Not into science fiction or fantasy or AI. Nice photos of billboards. Some would probably think this interesting. Alas, not me. But there’s nothing wrong with the post.

Dogs Married In $158,187.25 Wedding! Why Are You Still Single? Apparently a couple of dogs were wed and this pricey event took place in order to raise money for the Humane Society. It was just okay, not great. A picture of the bride and groom would have been funnier but this was not provided. The over-the-top craziness didn’t really work for me.

To My Son…..Finally The Phone Call. Wow. Poetry? I guess it is, short packed phrases which depict this mother’s trouble with her adult son. It was moving, yet I felt voyeuristic reading it, as if perhaps something so personal might be better left to a more private venue than the internet. And then it went FPd so even more people saw it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

My 15 Minutes. I suspect most of the calamities suffered during the 15 minutes before the film crew arrived might be a bit of an exaggeration in order to make this post funny. It didn’t work too well for me. Interesting concept: The writer of this blog is giving herself 1000 single days (no relationships, no dates, no sex) in order to “find herself”. That might work, but I guess if I told my husband I was going off for three years, he’d have some trouble with that.

DIY: Swimsuit Wrap. (Apparently “DIY” is big now.) Made with 1½ yards of fabric, four grommets and two chains. For some, I think this would be fine. Myself, I’m into “cover-ups” that are a little less revealing. My current cover-up is a burka. Nice post.

10 Non-fiction Books For the Novel Lover. I’ve read three, and this is a reminder that I always wanted to read Fast Food Nation. A good list.

None of these blogs rate an A+ in my opinion, although there have been FPd posts that I thought did merit that high grade. I have started following several blogs based on the post that was Freshly Pressed, and continue to enjoy every post from these fine writers. Here are three: The Write Transition, Life in the Boomer Lane, and The Byronic Man.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalprints.net

The Man on The Plane

Yesterday I had to fly. Flying used to be fun, sort of exciting, but as we now know, everything has changed about the experience. Now it’s just, well, tedious. So many things to accomplish before I lay my head down. Or, in other words: Miles to go before I sleep. (I always liked that.)

There’s all the preparation to go. Don’t forget anything. Make sure there’s enough time. Count backwards. Let’s see. Flight leaves at 10:40 so let’s call that 10:30. Need an hour and a half at Tampa International Airport. (Actually, that’s a stretch, you really only need an hour, so I’m probably overcompensating by forty minutes at this point.) Allow thirty minutes for the shuttle to the airport from the rental car place. And thirty minutes to get to the rental car place.

Okay, we’re at the airport. Stand in line at the ticket counter to check two bags. Here, a slight diversion. These are bags designed to be carryons but of COURSE we can’t do that anymore because of silly rules about liquids in 4 ounce containers (thank you Mr. Shoe Bomber!) and other forbidden items which may become weapons, like nail files and miniature socket sets. Check the bags, reprint the boarding passes, show ID.

Next, stand in line to (again) show ID and boarding pass in order to get on shuttle for a one-minute whisk to the terminal. Once deposited safely terminalside, prepare for the TSA IPP (Invasion of Privacy and Patdown). Show ID and boarding pass (yet AGAIN), where a uniformed Security Specialist shines a light on your driver’s license and makes his secret little mark on your boarding pass. Take laptop out of case, disrobe and try to remember whether you need ID and boarding pass again. Try to keep track of belongings, get x-rayed, retrieve belongings, get dressed.

We are now ready to board the plane but, as usual, we’re about two hours early, having grossly over-estimated the amount of time everything will take. Play the waiting game and listen to lame pages. Will Ruth Quackenbush please pick up the nearest white courtesy telephone? Every ten minutes we are instructed that we are in an indoor clean-air facility and no smoking is permitted. And also a reminder that any unattended bags will be im-pound-ed.

Line up, get on plane. We usually board first, since I’m one of those anal people who has my right mouseclick finger poised at exactly 24 hours before boarding time so we can be part of the esteemed A Group.  The seats are three across, so if it’s a full flight, someone will be joining our cozy little party of two. It was a full flight. Okay, I’m in the middle seat, so let’s make eye contact with someone who is relatively slender and looks like he or she won’t want to make much conversation.

Woman and her husband approach, and she sits across the aisle and he sits next to me. He is a small, wiry sort of fellow with a thick crop of untended black hair. He looks a bit like he is continually on an adrenaline rush. He carries a book which is a good sign.

“Good place to sit!” he says. “More leg room here!”

“Yeah, I guess so,” say I, while I don’t believe there is any more leg room at this particular location than anywhere else.

His wife requests her “reading material” so he stands up in the aisle and proceeds to fumble in a suitcase in the overhead compartment holding up approximately forty passengers waiting to proceed to the rear of the plane where there are still empty seats remaining.

He gets to the material his wife has demanded and hands it to her and settles into his seat. He eats (rather noisily) a peach and half of an overripe banana before the plane takes off.

As we take off and are climbing to 10,000 feet where we can turn on electronic devices, he and his wife pass a small turquoise bottle filled with something that produces a pungent aroma back and forth. It smells a bit like smelling salts. What the…? It’s a bit stinky actually, and they reverently pass it back and forth and inhale deeply the fumes. Does anyone know what this is? I didn’t ask. Something for ear pressure problems? Air sickness? Maybe just good karma?

The flight attendant asks him if he’d like a complimentary juice, soft drink, tea or coffee. He orders a mixture of half cranberry juice, half diet sprite. It seemed a bit demanding to me, that he be served some sort of special refreshments. Let’s just keep it simple, shall we?

Snack? Peanuts and Ritz Mini Snack Thins (only 100 calories!) are offered.

“I’ll have four peanuts,” he says.

Four peanuts! Who says you can have four? You’re supposed to get one! What if everybody on this plane asked for four? He got his four, and later he accepted his Ritz Mini Snack Thins too. Then he proceeded to ask for two refills of his special concoction of cranberry juice and diet sprite. Clearly, here is a man who likes to take advantage of free stuff.

He read, did a crossword puzzle, and then fashioned himself a bookmark. He carefully ripped the back cover of the Southwest Spirit Magazine down about one inch, and bent the page down, flipping the magazine back and forth as he did this, elbows flailing and invading my personal space. Fold, press, run thumbnail firmly over the fold, flip, repeat. Finally he tore it off. Voila! Bookmark!

What?

When we stood up to get off the plane, waiting in perhaps the last line of the day, he said to his wife, “I did some verrrrry deep thinking during this flight.”

I think this guy might make his way into a novel somewhere down the line.

Perigee Moon – Beta Reader Results Are In

An abbreviated post this week. I had a wonderful response to Remembering the Pankcake Man. Thanks to all who read and commented. My father was remembered at his memorial service on April 20, 2012. Many people came to honor him, to tell us what he had meant to them, and there were quite a few tears and even some laughs as we remembered the good days. I will always be grateful for everyone who came and shared their memories.

My husband reminded me of something funny that my father had said to him. We asked him, will you be buried here, next to Mom? And he said yes, he would be. And he had purchased additional plots for my brother and me, to be buried there too, but he guessed that probably wouldn’t happen. Those plots wouldn’t be used, so he was considering “turning them into a family room”. That was so typical of his sense of humor.

At my father’s funeral, the pastor read two poems my father had written. I had no idea. He wrote one poem about golf and another about retiring. They were funny, and witty, and everyone enjoyed hearing them. I never knew he wrote poetry.

The reviews are in from my Beta Readers. I got lots of thumbs up of Perigee Moon (between one and twenty per person). Even though these are my good friends from high school, still they all said they thought Perigee Moon is my best work yet. Every single one of them said it, and it is very gratifying to hear it.

They asked me if these characters are based on anyone, and I had to say no, these characters are truly made up. Maybe some of the characters in my first two books were based (loosely) on people I had known. In this case, that isn’t true. I thought a lot about the characters and how they would interact and what they would think and say. They are fictional, yet I suppose there are people who are just like Luke. Kate and Abby.

I will be fixing up the remaing typos and releasing it for publication in early May.