Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Almost Didn't Post This

 


Actually had another post ready, but decided that this needed to go up. My first wife, Cynthia, passed away 21 years ago yesterday, after 14 days in the ICU where we prayed for the best and tried to prepare ourselves for the worst. Since then, God has granted me yet again the love of a wonderful woman, so although some people never achieve what I've been given, I am doubly blessed. Nevertheless, the influence of Cynthia on so many lives, including mine, will never be forgotten.

I started not to mark this anniversary (it happened 21 years ago), harkening to the advice of a dear friend: "Some anniversaries need not be observed in perpetuity."  I may follow that advice next year. Just not today.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Writing: When God Is Silent


In going through my computer, I found this information, written some time back. I thought that perhaps there was a writer somewhere for whom it would have meaning. I hope that's true. In my own case, I subsequently chose to "go indie" and haven't turned back. Maybe you're considering your own course of action. Whether you're still waiting for a contract, can't make up your mind about publishing your work yourself, or there's another reason you're stuck, I hope this helps.

 God made a promise to an old and childless Abraham that someday he would be the father of many nations. Fourteen years after that, Isaac was born to Abraham and his wife, Sarah. Did you ever wonder what happened during the prolonged period of waiting the patriarch endured? Did Abraham worry because he was getting older by the day without the son God promised? Did he agonize, wondering if perhaps God had forgotten His covenant? Did he consider trying other gods, hoping they’d do better a better job for him? We may not know what Abraham did during this period, but whatever it was, it’s evident he never lost faith in God.

What would a writer do if subjected to such a prolonged silence? Would the unpublished writer keep trying despite rejection after rejection? Would the previously published writer persevere when there were no more contracts? We’ve all felt it—the urge to throw up our hands and quit. Should we do it, or, like Abraham, keep the faith?

Like other writers, I have endured some of those silent periods, and I have to confess that during those times I worried...a lot. I wrote for four years before finally getting my first contract. I was ready to give up many times before then, and once I actually quit, although God had other plans. After that contract, though, I thought things would go more smoothly. Wrong. Despite four published novels, I endured a silent period again, waiting for a publisher to want my work. When there were no phone calls, no email messages, I wondered if God had forgotten me. Perhaps the call to writing I imagined feeling wasn’t real.

Finally, when I received another contract, because of publishing schedules I learned there was to be a hiatus of a year and a half between the publication of my last book and the appearance of the next one.  Although I worried that no one would remember me after such a prolonged absence, the void period turned out to be just what I needed. When you encounter periods of silence like these, remember that they may represent an example of God’s perfect timing. If you are overcome with worry during such a period, remember Abraham. He never lost faith. We shouldn’t either.

Does this speak to you? It did to me...both then and now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Silent Majority


 I can't recall the exact figures (and I'm too lazy to look them up), but a survey recently showed that a majority of conservative voters are afraid to let their true feelings be known. I'm not sure why this should occur, but it certainly is true--even in our suburban area. We have displayed our candidate's name on a garden flag placed in our front yard, and have already replaced both the flag and the metal holder once. And we'll do it again, and anticipate continuing to do so as long as necessary.


One of the things that marks our country is the freedom its citizens have to free expression. But it seems to me that expression has been progressively dampened over the years. Now, one group feels free to be more vocal--both verbally and physically--while the other fears retribution if they let their true feelings out. Maybe that's a false feeling, and if so, I apologize. But it sure seems that way to me.

It seems to me that the best way to express our desires and allegiance is with our ballot. There's some question about that process, but we plan to vote--a secret ballot cast in person--and hope that the result coincides with our desires. But even if it doesn't, we plan to continue our opposition--in public, if need be. How about you? Will you be part of the silent majority, or will you exercise your Constitutional right to speak out? 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Writing: Hook 'Em Fast


 I'm re-reading (as is my practice) some of what I consider the best fiction in my libraries, and seeking what I can glean from these masters. One of the people who influenced me early in what I laughingly call my writing "career," and who still exerts a great deal of influence on me, is James Scott Bell. He describes himself as a "recovering lawyer," living (despite everything) in LA, and full of advice that I often take.

One of the things I've learned from what I've been taught about writing is that it's best to get the agent, editor, and/or reader engrossed in the story early. Noah Lukeman says that this should be done in the first five pages. Bell tends to get this done even more quickly. For example, here are his opening lines from his book, Try Fear:

"The cops nabbed Santa Claus at the corner of Hollywood and Gower. He was driving a silver Camaro and wearing a purple G-string and a red Santa had. And nothing else on that warm December night."

Now, if that won't get your attention, nothing will. I doubt that any of my openings are as successful at grabbing the reader as this one, but you get the picture. Look on your shelves and see how the first page or five of your favorites stack up. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Scattershooting


 The late sportswriter, Blackie Sherrod, used to periodically do a feature entitled Scattershooting While Wondering (you fill in the blank--he chose a different one for each column). Well, that's how I feel today. I don't really have one coherent thought to tie it together. So, I 'll just scattershoot.

One of the problems of being retired is that sometimes I have too much time--to much to watch cable TV, too much to think about what's going on around us. I know--most of the time I post about not having enough time, despite what others might say, but today I've had time to think. And it can be dangerous.

It's fifty days or so until the election, and our NoMoRobo app is getting a workout as our phone rings several times a day with political calls. We've already had one metal stand and the garden flag that goes with it removed sometime in the dead of night, apparently because the flag indicated our choice of candidate for president. We've replaced it, but it's a shame that it's come to that. Our neighborhood was formerly quiet, but now I'm not sure.

Sports have resumed, but they're by no means what we were formerly used to. Not only has the Covid-19 all around us caused some significant changes, but all major sports are being politicized to the point of being more statement than athletic contest. And that's a shame, as well. I wish I could enjoy NFL football, but I keep thinking about the sentiments emblazoned in the end zone, and how the players react to what used to be a moment of patriotism--the national anthem and presentation of our flag. 

Too much thinking. How about you?




Saturday, September 12, 2020

Contrast

 As we watched a retrospective about 9/11, my wife said, "What a contrast with the football players." I thought about the kneeling football players, all drawing significant salaries (much greater than what I've built up through many years of hard work), and those who--without thought of themselves--ran toward the danger. And I asked myself if we're not celebrating the wrong group.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Lest We Forget


 In case you've forgotten what day this is--let us never forget its significance.


Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Fashion Advice


 I'm writing these lines on the day before Labor Day, and growling about the new interface put into place by Blogger. (Yes, despite others' fascination with Word Press, I continue to publish this blog in the same format I started it in--old dog, new tricks, and all that).

Getting back to the question that sent me here to begin with, I'd always heard that you didn't wear white shoes, white belt, or anything else white after Labor Day. To do so would be gauche. 

Then came the pandemic, and we were all stuck at home for a bit (some still are, unfortunately), and what we were used to wearing deteriorated to yoga pants. tee shirts, and pajama bottoms for some. My summertime outfit was and still is a knit shirt, cargo shorts, white socks and athletic shoes. As for a belt, although I sometimes match the color of the cargo shorts, there are other times when nothing will do but a white belt.

Although Labor Day may be looked upon my many as the official end to summer, it's usually still hot here in Texas, and I'm in my usual outfit--including white shoes and socks, and (gasp) a white belt. Fashion advice advice is apparently desperately needed. Meanwhile, I'll keep on wearing my usual outfit until it becomes fall (really) in Texas--that may be sometime around Thanksgiving.

Hope your Labor Day holiday was good. 

Friday, September 04, 2020

Labor Day, 2020

This has been a year like no other. This weekend, we will recognize those who work throughout the year to keep the wheels of commerce turning. As we enjoy our time off, let us not forget both  those affected by the Coronavirus and the natural disasters that have come our way recently.

The flooding in Louisiana and environs is one of the worst natural disasters our nation has experienced. Of course, it could have been worse. But there are still many it has robbed of homes and property. If you haven't donated (time, things, money, whatever) to relief efforts, please do so...and remember that after the water recedes, there's still lots to be done. I won't presume to mention specific relief sites--you can choose your own--but please give.

I'll be back on Tuesday. Enjoy your time off. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

She Ain't What She Used To Be

Remember the "old" phones? I do. Actually, I remember the ones on a stand, that required you to hold the earpiece in one hand and talk into a microphone of sorts on a stand. I even remember the number we were assigned. You'd pick up the phone and tell the operator what number you were calling--ours was 246--or, failing that, who you were calling. We were fortunate enough to have our own line, not a party line (where you had to make sure someone else wasn't making a call before you could make yours).

Those days are gone, like Frank Green's store where he had a soda fountain, sold newspapers, and had the phone number of "one naughty naught." Gone are the days when you hung your washing on lines in the back yard or even in one of the "new-fangled" contraptions that had lines strung on metal poles and rotated allowing access to all four sides. All gone.

Facebook was supposed to allow people to connect with friends and neighbors. I guess it worked, at least for the first few years, but in going through Facebook this weekend, my impression was that it had devolved into a medium for party (and partisan) political material, intermixed with adventures in cooking, some cartoons and memes, and some other posts. The comments were no longer benign, but in most instances gave rise to full-fledged arguments (despite my observations that few if any of the opinions expressed there were changed by arguing).

Anyway, even though authors are advised to maintain a social media presence, I find it more and more difficult. I'm not always able to keep up with the latest fads in social media--Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Parler, and on, and on, and on. And when I dare post something that reflects my opinion, all-knowing "fact-checkers" might take it down. So I'll plan to post my conservative viewpoints here on my blog, where (so far) they've been able to stand. We'll see what the future holds. What does it hold for you?