shalanna: (Default)
Here’s what I thought when I saw self-publishing become affordably possible (first through houses like XLibris, which started out free and then went to $99 per book, but now is insanely overpriced–and then through Amazon with the KDP program and CreateSpace): I was elated.

I was happy because I believed that the only people who would do this would be committed authors who had been writing for at least ten years (me, twenty-plus!) and had been published traditionally (and therefore understood that there were cycles of editing, peer review, beta reader input, and proofreading that went into ANY novel before it went out). I never IMAGINED that EVERYONE would decide to become a writer and start cranking out novels of varying quality.

At first, this was all good because what I saw coming out were the great books I had seen in workshops, critted in writers’ circles, and so forth, books that richly deserved to get published but were not considered marketable by the New York houses. Cross-genre books and literary novels often were praised by agents and editors, but the final answer was, “We can’t see how we could market this, and it wouldn’t sell like James Patterson, so go home.” I’m talking about books that had won contests and been around the horn collecting letters of regretful rejection and often lots of praise–they just weren’t seen as profitable, although they were deemed of good to great quality. These books DID find their way into print and e-print at first, and it was grand.

But then we began to see books from people who just sat down one day and decided to “write a book”–how hard could it BE, anyhow, as they had read a book once and they could type to some extent–and then push it through and promote it. We at first took all books seriously, believing that everyone would make the books the best things they could before revealing it to the discerning reading public. After all, we didn’t post our stuff “for free” until after it had been at agent one for a year, at Tor for two years, at DAW for a year, at agent two for a year, etc., with concomitant revisions and praise and ultimate rejection on the basis of it being too long for the genre, cross-genre, or what-have-you. So we expected excellence and offbeat-ness.

Perhaps it’s just ME thinking that some of the FREEFREEFREE stuff is clogging the channels, though, as the reading public’s taste truly runs towards books that I consider not ready for prime time. I’m not talking about TWILIGHT/HUNGER GAMES and so forth; the subject matter of those books appeals so strongly to readers, as did the DA VINCI CODE, that the prose isn’t so important, yet the prose IS serviceable. I am talking about books filled with typos and howlers and plot holes. Despite these easily correctable flaws, these books rocket up to Amazon’s prime lists and get great reviews. This is, I think, because the authors have posses of friends and neighbors who are willing to go out and promote and retweet and praise the novels. (This is in part a function of being younger, as well, and accustomed to going to a website to vote for your favorite whatevers just about every day. If you are old like I am, this is tougher, as your friends may not be ‘net savvy.)

I used to say that I thought readers just didn’t know that there were better books out there–but now I have finally been convinced that readers PREFER the sorts of books that make these lists. It’s a matter of taste, and that’s all there is to it. I don’t know if the current situation (in which anyone can publish strings of text and call that a good novel) will continue, but I do know that we can’t return to any paradigm in which there are “gatekeepers” or any persons who screen for “quality,” because our definitions of quality have diverged. Much as Phaedrus observed in ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE, I once believed that “you know quality when you see it.” I no longer agree with that. Everyone now has his or her own definition of quality meaning “what I currently like,” and no teacher, Western canon list, or expert can tell anyone that something is of lasting quality, because now everyone votes on everything and the most popular flavor of the month wins, no matter what. So it goes. I’m the fossil here. This is the wave of the future–no, of the present.

Will books cease to be? Not for those of us raised on reading, those of us who have a need for story to help us make sense of the world and our destiny through vicarious experience. But for the new reader, novels may become something seen on the e-reader or computer, and will probably have embedded music, video, and personalization (for example, readers will insert the names they want for characters, and get to “Choose Your Own Adventure” in books rather than reading the author’s vision, and so on.) The old-school novel may be on its way out.

So it goes. As long as I’m around, the old-school novel has a place on my shelf. But I can’t guess what will happen in the years to come.
shalanna: (Default)
(The book Ruined by Reading is great, BTW. But I'm going to talk about how I, personally, have been ruined by reading during the sixties and seventies when books were different . . . not like they are now, for the most part, because they had much more detail and lots of introspection, generally, weren't bereft of flashbacks, and relied on character development more than on raw action. In other words, they were not at all like the books the marketplace devours now, and thus I am even more of a fossil. Authors then were lions. Most of the new sensations are but cubs.)

Where am I when I'm reading? Who am I when I read?

This is part of the vicarious experience I read for, the "vivid, continuous dream" that the author and I are co-creating. The bizzy-buzzy of consciousness yields to the cooperatively imagined world, and the writer takes possession of the screen with his or her words alone. (Even if there are illustrations in the book!) I hear with my mind's ear and see with my mind's eye as though We Are There, and I sympathize with or identify with or at least feel for whoever is telling the story at any given time. Or I'm fascinated despite my loathing for or dislike of the antihero, and I read on to find out what happens.

If I'm immersed in a good story, I am not sitting in the easy chair or stretched out on the sofa. Well, my overmind is aware of sitting in the chair, sure: I know if it starts getting cold, or if it's raining, and whether I need a bathroom break, and if I smell someone cooking dinner. There's also a part of my mind keeping track of the little delights of reading, which for me are things like a clever turn of phrase, a beautiful sentence, an insightful description that places me at the scene, a literary or pop-cultural allusion, and so forth. This part also tracks typos, howlers, grammatical errors, plot holes, poor motivation, implausibilities and impossibilites that I am not convinced I must accept by the power of the story. I am never "pulled out of the story" by any of these things. I know others say that they are, even by proper punctuation with which they are not familiar (such as the semicolon or colon, believe it or not.) I am SO lucky to have a multi-track reading consciousness. It is FAR more desirable to have this than to have the weak condition of "this word pulled me out of the story because I didn't know it" or "semicolons always tear me out of the story and make me aware I'm reading." That's really strange, to me, probably because of the way I was originally taught (or self-taught) to read, but that's a different rant, for another post.

You constantly hear, "Show, don't tell!" But ALL stories are told, ultimately. What is meant is "Dramatize, don't narrate." But even then you can't dramatize everything down to every detail. You have to use some narrative summary, telling, or telling by omission so that the book won't be endless and boring.

When someone is telling you a story through written words, your sensory memory is activated. You remember how coffee smells (wonderful, but it's a bitter brew and too hot to swallow), how dirt feels as you scrape through it with your nails, how whipped cream tastes and feels on your tongue, how the cold wind of a Chicago Christmas rips right through your scarf and coat, how the sun warms your head as you bend over a gardening task, what the color name "tangerine" or "turquoise" means for you, and so forth. You begin to hear the character's thoughts and understand her viewpoint. You worry about story events and what is about to happen. You feel the hot-air balloon rising and panic as the elevator grinds to a halt between floors. You are co-creator of this story. And that's partly why the movie version seldom really fits with your idea of the book. It's like a parallel story when you watch the film adaptation and see the characters portrayed differently from the way you pictured them in your mind. (Sometimes a better story, sometimes parallel but different, sometimes worse and you can't stand to look at it.)

The sense of Being Elsewhere while reading is the reason you "can't put that book down." Your mind has entered a flowstate of creativity as you create the book's world. It's a happy state for the mind, and it's part of what you recall when you think of the book. Do you remember the plot all that clearly? Maybe you remember the really shocking plot twist or the curious way that the story was laid out. But stronger than this should be your recollection of the characters and your liking for them. What are they doing now? What would they be doing if they were still on the storyline? You'd like another peek behind that curtain.

I don't like to be plunged into a battle scene or car chase or gory thing as I enter the world of a novel. I want to be enticed inside. I want to be hooked. By "hooking" here I mean I need to be intrigued. I need to be teased by the idea of what's about to happen, and I need to either like or be interested in the viewpoint character to whom it is about to happen. When the book opens, the most important character in the scene should be doing something interesting that poses a dilemma (or soon will), but is not something mundane that everyone is bored by like waking up in the morning. The first line or two should raise a story question. "Will Leonard get Penny back? She looks sad and as if she's wistful about what happened between them, and he is winsome and earnest and full of puppy-dog yearning." "Will they actually get this car started again? Will the boat start sinking?"

If the author begins the book with a battle in the first sentence, I don't even know who these people are or who to root for. I've got to be grounded in the Ordinary World (from the Hero/Heroine's Journey paradigm) for at least a couple of paragraphs before I can see what it is that Just Changed Today. We need to start on the Day Something Changed, but just *before* everything blows up. That way the concussion really hits us. If it starts out with a cacophony of disasters, how can you escalate it? How will you keep the book at a fever pitch?

You're not supposed to. You're supposed to have a rhythm to the text. We escalate the tension, then step back for a moment's rest and recuperation and consideration of what all this has meant and how things have changed. This is why even Shakespeare has comic relief and why there is a clown or slapstick character in even the most serious of stories. The reader needs a chance to regroup and catch her breath--although not for TOO long. And don't pack this with tons of backstory and explanation of what has just happened. It's tempting, but don't do it, novelists. Maybe a hint or a pinch of telling, but don't lose your readers.

If I am plunged into the middle of a dismemberment scene or some hideous thing (especially happening to a child or a cat or dog or an old person) as the book opens, I will close the book. I don't need that. We get sufficient black reality watching the news. I don't want or need to relive that sort of thing vicariously. That's me.

I think many readers feel that way.

In the olden days, readers settled in to be entertained, but also to be informed and educated and to give the author a chance to persuade them that something larger is worthy of their attention, something other than the everyday mundane cares. To show readers that love is stronger than hate, or that good conquers evil in the end, or that justice is often done, even if it's done in a manner we didn't expect. We wanted to come away from a book with a better understanding of the eternal human condition and a feeling that all is going to turn out as it should. Or we wanted to have a catharsis and a good cry over what's unfair and a need to understand why bad things happen when good is ultimately in control. We wanted the story to be about something larger, something important. We didn't want to say, at the end of the book, "Is that all there is?" We didn't want to feel that we'd wasted several hours waiting for something meaningful to come clear to us. Some books today aren't really about anything (and this has always been true, but seems even truer in the free books you can get everywhere now). Some books are not fulfilling. They aren't even just fun popcorn that leaves you at least A LITTLE not hungry . . . they're vapid and devoid of serious meaning. (Serious meaning can come out of comedy. Trust me on this, or go read the ancient Greeks and the current greats. They both know this.)

I write books that are like the books I would like to find and read. They tend to be more like books written in the seventies and before--maybe the early eighties, up until after the Brat Pack got finished changing the paradigm and before vampires began to rule the daylight. My books have introspection. Not a MESS of it, but they have it. I think it's something that readers want. A little philosophy, then some seltzer down your pants--it creates balance and brings understanding of the oneness of all (or at least of the way that what goes around, comes around.)

I don't have just PAGES AND PAGES of DESCRIPTION, although it may seem that way to readers accustomed to defaulting to "an average room" all the time. I can't stand books that don't set the scene. I tire of books with the setting always inside someone's office, in the car, on the phone, in a restaurant. Why not set some scenes in interesting locations that readers haven't been to, but would like to visit? In the eighties there was a huge boom in the glitz and glamour genre, the "Lifestyles of the Filthy Rich and Undeservedly Famous" stuff that Joan and Jackie Collins (no relation, alas) wrote. People were tired of seeing the inside of the trailer, the factory, the pickup truck; they wanted a peek inside the skyscraper, the villa on the Italian coast, the Mercedes. This genre is mostly over now, but those books had description, and it brought readers into the scene. I like books that set a scene deftly with a couple of lines. You can describe a character who walks in with a couple of lines if you have the telling details, too. (But no looking into the mirror! No fair having them see their own reflection in the plate!)

I want some of the author's sensibility and some of the author's mind in the book. I want to feel as if we are simpatico in some way, kindred spirits who saw beneath the surface and dealt with issues and dreams that are not superficial and not just the "look good, meet hottie at bar, have sex, drink, pass out" stuff that today's society seems to glorify. I'd like to think that I now understand some of the author's (as well as the characters') philosophy of life. (Of course the author and the character(s) are not the same, and what the character believes is usually NOT what the author believes! Still, in the author's voice and approach are clues to what he or she truly feels deep down and holds as most cherished.) Even if I disagree or am repelled by that philosophy, I *understand* it.

I have walked a mile or more in someone else's shoes.

I know why he or she feels as s/he does. I know that he or she has a reason for every action, even if I don't believe that reason is logical or moral. I know that this character is an authentic person/composite who could exist and who illuminates some aspect of life as well as bringing us a story we savored.

Don't make the people who write and sell the shallow stories ALWAYS dominate the charts. Try someone who does it a little differently. Why have the works of the Dead White European Males lasted? Not because "teachers wanted them to," I assure you. If you were properly introduced to a play written in ancient times complete with Greek chorus, you would find in it all the stuff you are looking for when you read a vampire-zombie mashup today. If you read a Victorian novelist, you would find the same human feelings and dilemmas we face, albeit filtered through that worldview and society's limitations placed on people of that time. Remember that any work is of its time, and you can't place OUR sensibilities and our ideas of right action on THEM. (Slavery, oppression of women and underclasses, wars over stupid stuff--yes, that's the way it was back then. But you can SEE the humanity despite these differences, find the parallels in the situations we face today, and ultimately comprehend why "there but for the grace of God go I" is so resonant.)

People still read LITTLE WOMEN, GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, SHOGUN, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN. They love Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Dickens, Proust, Vonnegut, Twain, and Kerouac (et alia) today. Do you think they stink because you had to sit in a classroom and have these works shoved at you in a totally messed-up way? Well . . . it wasn't the fault of the great books.

Give a deeper book, an "old" book, a classic or a book that was a HUGE best-seller in the past, a chance. It might teach you something--maybe even that you enjoy reading things that are not done at a breakneck pace, texts that have subtext and allusion and clarity as well as GO GO GO action and humping. Words with multiple meanings and cadenced prose. Try it. You just might like it. And if you don't--what have you lost? You've learned something about yourself. If you DO like it--congratulations! You have grown. You have stretched. And you are in good company with the many, many generations of readers over the years who cherished those stories.

(Obligatory Plug: There are new books with depth, too. If you feel so moved, you could even download the NEW KINDLE EDITION of one of my mysteries. Cheap! $3.99 and $1.99! What's not to like?)

NICE WORK

http://www.amazon.com/Nice-Jacquidon-Carroll-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00AAGLW4W/ref=la_B008EFBD1I_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353488196&sr=1-3

MURDER BY THE MARFA LIGHTS

http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Lights-Ariadne-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B002WN2XGC/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1353839685&sr=1-1

LITTLE RITUALS

http://www.amazon.com/Little-Rituals-ebook/dp/B002VLZ1OG/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1353839741&sr=1-4

CAMILLE'S TRAVELS

http://www.amazon.com/Camilles-Travels-Without-Charley-ebook/dp/B002WN2XVW/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353839711&sr=1-3&keywords=shalanna+collins

(SORRY FOR THE CONSTANT PLUGGING. I JUST CAN'T *NOT* PROMOTE--I ALWAYS HOPE THAT SOMEONE WILL READ ONE OF THE BOOKS!)
shalanna: (flowercat)
I entered one of those "Find America's Next Writer!" contests. What this means to you is . . . free story!

If you click on the link I provide below, it'll take you to my author page on this contest site. Then you can click on "Read Online" or on "Download This" (or whatever the buttons say) in order to see my Splatterfairies story in its current form. Some of you might remember my writing that one for the old Pulphouse Publishing anthology, and recall that they went out of business and closed down the anthology before it ever got published. I still think it's a cute story, even if it is a bit fey, twee, arch, and affected. LOL

I already have one review from someone I don't know. I thought her review was pretty good!

You don't have to review it or vote on it, but if you want to see the story in final form, here's a chance to read it online! (If you do feel moved to vote for me, thank you in advance. I think they'll probably make you register on their site and all that rot.)

http://www.ebookmall.com/author/shalanna-collins

(Page down to the story title, THE SPLATTERFAIRIES' HALLOWEEN)
shalanna: (Default)
Enter a drawing to win one of three free copies of NICE WORK by Denise Weeks! These aren't ARCs, but sturdy trade paperbacks in final form, and they can be autographed if you'd like. All you have to do is post a comment over at the author's blog.

http://deniseweeks.blogspot.com/2012/09/free-book-book-giveaway-etc.html

NICE WORK is the winner of the Dark Oak mystery novel contest and is just out from Oak Tree Press. A traditional mystery with an edge, NICE WORK is the first book in the Jacquidon Carroll "Snoop Sisters" series.

Jacquidon Carroll could've killed her boss when he downsized her--or so the police think. Can she and her sister find the real killer in the maze of BDSM clubs and secret societies that her (ex-)boss turns out to have been involved in before it's too late? No explicit stuff--everything's played for laughs. It's a "Sleuth Sisters" romp like Anne George's Southern Sisters books (but these sisters are in their twenties and have spunk. Which is terrible if you hate spunk like Lou Grant. But if you like it, you're in luck.)

This is the more gentle, humorous series. The Ariadne French (and Zoe French) series is much darker and more personal. Some people favor one series over the other, just the way I like one of Joan Hess's series better than the other. To each her own. Just a heads-up.
shalanna: (Default)
I've come up with other pros/cons of the Kindle.

First off, what am I doing with the Kindle? I keep it on the nightstand. Currently, the first page of books (sorted by "most recently opened/read") lists these tomes:
The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
(I recommend this highly to those fans who have read most or all of Phil's output. It is more of a metanovel than a collection of novels. I don't mean you've seen the films based on his work, because for the most part they leave way too much out and they are mostly not much like his work. Blade Runner is the most faithful to the book, yet it leaves out the entire empathy religion and makes you think that the bounty hunter might be a Nexus-6, but that's wrong in canonical novel terms. Anyway, you've got to be prepared to think Phil was either crazy or a super-spiritual mystic. Or both. I like reading him on Kindle in bits and pieces because I can highlight lots of stuff for MY CLIPPINGS.)
The Rosy Crucifixion (all three volumes)--Henry Miller
(If you think my books have too much thinkin' in them, or you say I am too detailed a writer, or you want me to leave out a lot--DON'T try to read Henry Miller! I mean it! Everything is lush and everything is detailed, but you WANT it to be, if you are in the audience for his books. They're not all dirty as one might have been led to believe, although he certainly doesn't shy away from passages of sexual content. It's astounding to me how he can segue from an insightful philosophical passage of cadenced, lyrical prose into one of his "and then I walked into this bar and this woman threw herself on me and we went into the back room and" orgy bits. I mean, these women would have had no reason to jump him--if you've SEEN him, you'd know that, ha--and so it has to be mostly in his imagination. Still, he's fascinating to read, if you can take those passages. I like reading him on Kindle in bits and pieces because I can highlight lots of stuff for MY CLIPPINGS.)
Memories, Dreams, Reflections--Carl Jung (AND a long study guide on the book)
(This is fascinating, again, although you need to have some idea WHY you are interested in Jung's past and his work. I always have felt that my characters and ideas/plots proceeded from the Muses and the collective unconscious as well as from my Girls in the Attic, so I enjoy reading this stuff. He talks about his childhood and education and teaching and all sorts of stuff. I also am a firm believer in the MBTI because it helps my people skills to know how others think (I am a prisoner of my own point of view oftentimes). It's a long book. Again with the MY CLIPPINGS file.)
Search-by-Verse King James Bible/Halley's Bible Handbook
(This is a convenience for looking things up. I find it a lot more instructive and interesting to read Scripture and helps in the old-fashioned dead tree editions. I have an interlinear New Testament that has the Greek, the KJV, and the NIV side-by-side. It's really a trip. But I do have this on the Kindle and refer to it from time to time when I'm contemplating things or doing research.)
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
(Happened to go back to this last night. It's still a masterpiece and one of my favorite novels.)
The Stand--The Expanded Edition by Stephen King
(I got this so as to disprove some of the claims made about King and his writing. I also had heard that this is his best novel. I find that he does do lots of great little vignettes of the various people, but I do a LOT of skimming past this guy croaking, the other guy getting gorily shot, and so forth. I'm only a small percentage into the book and we STILL have not nearly reached the get-together that is supposedly going to happen--it's just all about these side characters. For the record, he DOES use semicolons and he DOES do a lot of infodump/backstory. This book is just so LONG that I don't know how anyone could read through the entire thing, heh.)
A number of samples of books I might or might not buy in full

So the Kindle is good for books that you will want to highlight. It's good when you want to see what others have highlighted out of a book. It's good if you will be doing a lot of searching. If you want to jump around in a complicated and long book, it's probably pretty good--although I feel claustrophobic to only see one page at a time. I like to flip back and forth, even peeking at the ending or the beginning again sometimes. Can't do that easily on this device--you only get to see ONE THING at a time.

It's great if you think of some books as "popcorn" that you won't be rereading or keeping, because you can read 'em and then take 'em off the device or delete them. You can also get samples of books to see if you want to buy the whole book. You can pick up things free during promotions. This is all good.

You can't beat it for travel. I tried to make Hubby take it on his three-week trip because then he wouldn't have had to pack books or buy new stuff in Denver, but he WANTED to read what was available there only--tourist info and guidebooks and local color (this is all very commendable). He took copies of my books and left them around so that they might join the Free Library and spark people to investigate other stuff I've written. This is all good.

But some things aren't Kindle-friendly.

I find that I can't read mathematical books with any success. I need to have pencil/pad in hand and be working through whatever it is that the math book is saying. So that's not a big Kindle thing for me.

Art books and coffee-table books work best in dead-tree editions. They're for browsing through when your eyes are tired from staring at screens and text. They're for admiring. The resolution of the pictures is better on paper. You could look at art books on a big screen for a desktop, but you really can't appreciate them on a Kindle or Nook, IMHO.

Some things I just need to see on paper. If the Kindle allowed you to mark passages to be printed (for example, out of those math texts!), and then to print them wirelessly, that would be cool. It'll never happen, but is what I want. I like to make notes on paper, too, next to passages--but I may not want to make it a Kindle "note" and take up lots of space or let others see it.

I kind of have a privacy issue. When it's on the Kindle, they know you are reading it. They can see your notes and highlights, as can others. They might even pull the edition from your device. It's just a privacy thing, a quirk of mine.

I still have a better experience reading the Bible and commentaries or helps on paper. Your mileage will differ.

My eyes also tire earlier than yours probably do. It's a result of my past medical history plus my age. Thus I don't try to read EVERYTHING online.

I haven't forgotten what I wrote about before: that I know the Kindle format will eventually disappear, and the Kindle itself will become obsolete, and many if not most of the editions people have purchased for the Kindle will either be unconvertible or lost through entropy. The dead-tree format, if kept dry and not stained with spaghetti sauce to attract buggies, will last many more years and give service without becoming an obsolete format. I keep paper books of the books that are really important to me. This means I have two versions of some books. Others are ephemeral, popcorn reads, and I don't care if they are lost with the Kindle format.

So it goes. So be it.

Enjoy it for what it is. But I would still caution you against making it your ONLY library.
shalanna: (flowercat)
This is for people who write. If you write professionally, aspire to write professionally, write as a fan, write for your circle of friends/readers, write for therapy, or whatever, these qusetions may help you progress. Don't feel that you have to use ALL of them--you can cherry-pick. Or don't use any of them. It's up to you, because this is meant to help you write (or not).

Complete one or both of the following sentences, using your current top reason for not writing more or finishing your novel:
I can't finish my current novel because ...
I can't write more because ...

Would it make more sense to replace "can't" in the above sentence(s) with "don't," "won't," or "I'm afraid to"? Sometimes at the root of a writing reluctance/difficulty is some underlying fear. Are you allowing fear to prevent you from attempting/achieving? Does this make it easier, because you "aren't really trying" and therefore will never discover that "you're not worthy" or "I'm not good enough"?

You've got to identify and acknowledge fear (ur internal stressors, or blocks, or whatever) before you can remove it. In fact, you must be READY to remove it before you can begin to deal with it.

How many relationships or outside activities have you spent time on this month/week?

______ spouse or significant other ______ job
______ children ______ shopping
______ other family members ______ relaxing
______ friends ______ sleeping
______ community activities ______ reading
______ cleaning/housework ______ writing
______ driving/commuting ______ studying/school
______ other activities (List below)

Put a plus sign (+) next to the relationships and activities on which you spent less time than you desired in the previous week.

Put a minus sign (-) by the relationships and activities on which you spent more time than you desired in the previous week.

What are your most time-consuming daily activities?

Which daily activities do you want to be the most time-consuming? Which ones do you feel deliver more reward per moment spent?

Will you have to make changes in your schedule and/or your commitments in order to accomplish more (or more of what you want/need to do)? Do you need more time or more free time or just more time to dream, or for YOU?

Perhaps you need to reduce or give up any volunteer activities (church committees, community groups or committees, school committees, etc.) wherever you can. If you can't give up a volunteer activity, perhaps you can reduce
the time you devote to the activity or organization each week. Can you hire help for the housework, laundry, cooking, or other duties? Can family members take on a few of the chores? Can you spend Sunday afternoons making casseroles (for example) that you can reheat on weeknights, freeing up evening time? There must be some places you can reclaim time for your writing or for yourself.

Which family members and friends emotionally and verbally (and perhaps financially) support your writing aspirations? Who doesn't (list only the people who really matter and whose support you wish you had)?

If you feel you need additional support, name two people whose friendship and support you would like to cultivate in the next year (preferably fellow writers).

List activities that help you relax/unwind. (Bubble baths, lying in beanbag chair listening to music, staring out window at birds building nests, cooking, etc.) If you don't have any specific activities now, list some that you would like to try.

Note the time of day when you have the most energy: morning, afternoon, evening, midnight hours.

What time of day do you write? In one of your high-energy periods?
It is sometimes useful to write during a high-energy period. Other people prefer to write during a meditative time. You could rest or engage in relaxing activities before your writing time so that you are refreshed mentally and physically when you do sit down to write.

Name one writing goal you have achieved in the past year (starting or finishing a chapter of your book, researching, writing a synopsis, getting an agent, attending a conference, etc.).

Name one writing goal you have achieved in the last month.

Name one writing goal you have achieved in the last week.

List five long-term goals you have for your writing career.

List five short-term goals for your writing career, i. e., immediate steps you can take to begin creating the future you envision for yourself as a writer.

If you are one of those people who does mission statements, do one. Talk about your writing work area, your work hours, the types of story you hope to tell, or whatever you believe belongs in such a statement.

I hope any or all of these suggestions sparks you to achieve! Or at least to believe. That is, of course, always the first step.
shalanna: (Default)
Okay, crew! Today A WILL OF ITS OWN, a Kindle Short by Shalanna Collins, is FREE for the Kindle!

A Will of Its Own

If you have a Kindle or a Kindle app on one of your computers or pad-tablet type devices, you can get A WILL OF ITS OWN (about a magical dagger that dogs a poor little worker bee girl in medieval times) by Shalanna Collins from the Kindle Store absolutely free!

It will be FREE from Sunday, July 08, 2012, to Tuesday, July 10, 2012!

Of course I'm hoping that if you enjoy it, you'll feel inclined to check out my other work, including the Shalanna Collins YA fantasy novels available on Amazon in print or Kindle formats, and especially NICE WORK by Denise Weeks, my traditional mystery novel that won the Dark Oak Novel Contest and is coming out from Oak Tree Press at the end of this month. The voice/style will be different in the contemporary mysteries, of course, but people tell me they can pick out which pieces I've written out of a stack pretty easily, so you might get the general drift. But I also just wanted the story to get some airtime. It was intended for the Marion Zimmer Bradley "Sword and Sorceress" anthologies, but never found a home there, so it's a "virgin." And now you can be the first to read (and possibly review) it!
shalanna: (Default)
I'm about to give up on ever being able to post on LJ again. The DDoS attacks seem to be coming from inside Russia. It's too bad that LJ sold to the Russian company. It was great once upon a time. Will we retain the same sense of community over here? That remains to be seen.

Blessings today! First, I took my mother to the ER so they could test her hemoglobin, potassium, and other blood levels to explain why she has been so weak for the past five days. Her hemoglobin is up to 10 (which is good, FOR HER) and her potassium has stabilized. They recommended she have her pacemaker interrogated (checked by the cardiology office) to see why she's having some irregular beats and extra "hits" from it. They also thought she might need a stress test if she stays weak, but I think she doesn't exercise enough (because of this HEAT WAVE, among other things). She needs to push herself, I think. We'll see. But there is nothing immediately wrong to panic over, so that was blessing #1.

Blessing #2 is that Hubby doesn't have to go on that ridiculous trip! The bigger boss heard of this fiasco they were planning (basically sending all five coders from the group on a pleasure ride across the USA to Denver where they would demonstrate a product and then have a couple of meetings and a picnic--losing 10 workdays in the process!) and said NO!! They have a deadline to deliver a software release (an update to the product) by September first, and they simply cannot DO that if they are gone the first ten days of August. I have been saying that all along: DUH! I would like to offer my services to them as a planner! Actually, they have finally hired a planner/scheduler guy who will keep up with stuff like this. Anyhow, we are ALL so relieved. Thank God!! It is a miracle! The co-worker who was supposed to drive the second Hummer has a broken foot and is days out of surgery; his surgeon just removed his stitches and has not released him even to come back to work, yet they were insisting that he drive a Hummer on this route and go do the demo. The guy is so intimidated that he was going to do it, even though his foot is swollen like a melon and one of his pins is already bent. Good grief! This saves him, as well. Sheesh. But it's a major relief and a major blessing.

Blessing #3 is that we woke up alive today and could see, walk, and hear. Yay!! And that the dog's medicine is helping, of course. He had bronchitis and possible sinus infection, so the vet gave him a shot of antibiotic that should peak today and lasts two weeks, and a shot of steroids to help the inflammation immediately. It did that. But he has 'roid rage, a little. If you can imagine a Pomeranian growling and fighting you over a crust of bread he found under the table (and that you don't want him to have), that's 'roid rage. Funny! But he has already been coughing lots less and breathing MUCH better. Strange that Mama and dog both have asthma/bronchitis issues. We need to move to the Carmel/Pacific Grove coast to get away from the allergens and heat here, hint hint!

So this is supposed to cross-post. We'll see. If LJ ever comes back up, I mean. (sigh)
shalanna: (teddy face)
This morning at the vet, the doctor said that Teddy's little bump is a benign thing--calling it a basal cell something, but not a "c" word, that has developed a fluid-filled cyst above it. But she said it's nothing, to not touch it and ignore it. It's not big enough to drain, but if it needs to be drained, she'll do that if the time comes. "Don't pinch it!" she said. *sheepish look* (I was trying to check it.)

But she was upset by his coughing. You see, he got scared by the smell of the place . . . a new clinic that she has just purchased and remodeled. And the scale! It was like nothing you've seen at a vet's, I'll bet: it was a sort of large shelf that lifted itself up to our level. Not describing very well here, but it was like something you would use to weigh livestock! It was really large and made a noise when it was moving up to our chest level. He didn't like that. And then we went to the exam room where he got an anal probe (thermometer), and THAT just set him off. Last time, around Thanksgiving of last year, when he came to a vet's (different office because this one was being remodeled), they took him into the Inner Sanctum and did upside-down X-rays and blood work and all sorts of scary stuff, so he panicked. And when a Pom with collapsing trachea panics, he starts to cough and "honk."

So by the time the vet came in, he was into a pretty good coughfest. She was concerned about THAT rather than what I had come in for. "Does he always do this?" He has white-coat syndrome, so he couldn't calm down for her until he was sure she wouldn't take blood or give injections or some other ouchie. I told her that the other clinic had done blood work and X-rays and had been worried about a heart murmur, but I didn't think anyone else had ever heard one. She thought it was sensible to check for one, in case it was contributing to the cough (which I don't think it is, at least not now.)

She listened. "He does have a soft murmur. They're classed in dogs from 1 to 4, and his is only about a 2. We do need to watch to see if he is retaining water. If he does start that, it's like your mom's congestive heart failure--mitral valve prolapse--and we put them on three medications and they get along fine. But right now I can't really say that there is a problem." She gave us a list of symptoms to watch for.

By the time all this had been discussed, Teddy was calmer and just panting. "This is more like the way he normally is," I said.

But we'll keep an eye on him. It also explains why he can't eat things with lots of salt on them--they make him cough more and make him pant. Duh! Dogs aren't supposed to have table scraps, but Grandma (ahem) tends to slip him things, as does Hubby. They'll have to quit doing that.

So anyhow, the Thing we were so worried about got a cursory "oh, it's nothing," which is what we wanted. We'll keep watch for any changes in the other stuff. Right now it's running really warm for spring, and all the pollen is out in force, so we're all having sneezes and allergies--the dog included. We may have to stay in from our walk for a couple of days until whatever-it-is quits pollinating.

shalanna: (Easter)
If this is a good definition (from paul_m_jessup) of urban fantasy (and I think it IS):

Urban Fantasy currently has a template, and currently holds the big blockbusters. This time it's young women (strong) fighting monsters, and romantic/sexual subplots. The young woman is Urban Fantasy’s Chosen One.

Then why doesn't CAMILLE'S TRAVELS ring a bell with any other agents? It fits the mold exactly, even with the romantic subplot. Sigh.

I am also thinking of pulling the demon-conjuring scene in MIRANDA'S RIGHTS (the one in which Miranda's nemesis makes the fatal mistake of not bidding peace between them so mote it be, and thus the demon plans to zap her next time) out of the middle and making it a prologue. Hate to do it, because so many people advise against prologues that are out of chronological order and not from the POV of the heroine and are SO TANTALIZING. But maybe it would give people the idea that THIS IS FANTASY and WILL HAVE FANTASTICAL TROPES somewhat earlier. Hmm.

What, you have never seen such a scene? )
shalanna: (Black Kitty in Window)
The (American) Civil War began on April 12, 1861.

Today has been somewhat quieter.

But I did make a veterinarian appointment for the Pom, who has a skin bump under his front leg that I want her to look at, just to be sure. I know it's nothing, but it's scary. I also deposited a small check for e-book sales through Amazon. From there, we went to Macy's for a bathroom scale . . . but when I got it unpacked, I found a sticker on the glass. "Persons with implanted electrical devices such as pacemakers should not use this." Since it was primarily for Mama to weigh on every morning to see if she is retaining water weight (if her P. pill does not take it out, she has to go to the doctor immediately), we'll be returning it tomorrow.

We went to the doctor earlier this week, and he read me the riot act. He didn't like my numbers (diabetes and cholesterol), and he wanted me to see the lap-band surgeon. Finally he agreed that I should go on Medifast instead. It has worked well for me in the past.

Everyone knows that society is currently campaigning against fat, and we also all know that calories in doesn't necessarily equal calories out; other factors come into it, including genetic predisposition. Some people are programmed not to be mesomorphs, but to be plump. I don't want to argue or discuss that. I'm just ready to stop looking "fat" and stop shopping plus sizes and have my diabetes type II "go into remission," which is what the doctor keeps saying will happen at a certain weight. The stress of the last few months has really done a number on me. Maybe now that it has eased just a bit, I can do the diet/exercise thing seriously.

All those poop tests they ran turned out fine--no parasites (!) or unusual results. He no longer suspects Celiac sprue. But he says I should eat nothing but Medifast until I'm a size 8. He really scared the heck out of my mother with all that. I'm tougher than he knows, but still, I might as well do this while hubby is dieting as well and doesn't expect a dinner meal for himself.

Short version: I'm going back on Medifast. I really don't mind it--the dilemma of choice and the possibility of "oh, just try one bite of this--it won't hurt you and I'll be offended if you don't" is eliminated. You just eat five Medifast packets and one small salad with 6 oz of meat every day. And that's all.

So we packed up all the food I got the other day at Whole Paycheck Market (non-gluten bread, pasta, and crackers--when we were testing for celiac reaction after my LAST appointment) to take to the Food Bank (overdrawn--they were glad to see it all, including several cans of chili and boxes of biscuit mix), and then we ran over to the Medifast store to get boxes of sludge. Menu for foreseeable future: sludge. In chocolate, mocha, strawberry, and Crunchy Frog. (They were out of Anthrax Ripple.)

Now they make pancakes and soft-serve ice cream versions of the "supplement" (which is what they call your foodstuffs). I've got to dig out the blender so we can try them.

He also put Mama on Medifast, but after three days of it (all the while with her sneaking crackers and an orange because she simply does not understand the chemistry behind going into near-ketosis, meaning you can't cheat with minor consequences as you can on a regular diet) she's munching Cheez-Its and eating chicken salad from Cafe Max. She says she can't do that diet while on insulin (and I agree) and that she has too much wrong with her to do it (I agree). She says he just put her on it for meanness, which MIGHT be true . . . he can be that way. But he didn't prescribe it for her and insist, the way he does for me.

I looked into the lap band online again and noticed that there are stories on the 'net about people who have had a lot of trouble, the way my cousins have. Really, you could do the same thing if you didn't eat any more than they do . . . we'll try it the sensible way first.

But if I actually got to be a size 8, I would run away to Disneyland.

shalanna: (Charlie Brown football)
Actually . . . I didn't even know the denial of service attacks were going on, because I hadn't tried to post or read while they were happening. Real life intervened. However, I kept reading that people were flouncing out and leaving because of the inconvenience.

I did get a DreamWidth account (thanks, Green Knight, for the code!) and have been meaning to set that up. But it will be as a backup to LJ. I dunno . . . despite the ads that my non-member readers have to put up with, and the spam that we occasionally get, I still like the place. Go figure.

However, I have now learned that in Russia, the entire fight is over freedom of speech. There's the reason to support LJ right there, eh? So here's what I heard.

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] clari_clyde at :post:

I’ve been wondering what’s up with all the DDoS attacks LJ has been receiving lately. Signal boosting [info]ingridmatthews:



Just in case anyone thinks LJ's downtime is just TPTB being incompetant, read this:


LiveJournal, Russia's blogging platform of choice, is sustaining biggest cyberattack attack in its history. Bloggers say the Kremlin wants to crack down on political discussion.


"LiveJournal, Russia’s most popular blogging platform, has been under a massive DDoS attack for the past few days. The attack has effectively wiped out Russia’s main refuge for unbridled political discussion, a hugely lively and extensive domain frequented by politicians, opposition activists and social commentators alike...


“The reason for attack is more than clear in this case — someone wants LiveJournal to disappear as a platform,” Ilya Dronov, development director at SUP, wrote in a post on his LiveJournal blog earlier this week. He said the hackers were hoping to push bloggers from LJ to social networks where “it's easier to fight individual users.”"


http://globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/bric-yard/russian-blog-site-under-attack


http://putinwatcher.blogspot.com/2011/04/cyber-war-on-russian-activist-bloggers.html


ETA, One more link, ganked from [info]norwich36 about the importance of LJ to russian bloggers:


LiveJournal's DDoS and Russian Politics





Bikini, circa summer 1965!
shalanna: (abandonhope)
Hubby wanted to test the amateur radio set that he got me for my birthday (ahem). So he went into the sunroom and opened the window to the covered patio and hooked up the 2-meter quarter-wave antenna.



Yes! Why, yes, there IS a metal bucket on the roof of my $25,000 addition to my $360,000* house! See the sprinkler system's rain sensor? And the back of the Kia hatchback? And the BUCKET. With an ANTENNA on it.

We have a crime watch patrol that drives up and down the alleyways of this pristine country club subdivision. If I ever leave my garage door open and they happen by, they CALL me on the PHONE to tell me to close the dang door--BAD PEOPLE might STEAL some of the worthless junk I carefully store in there! Well, I haven't been able to entice a stealing truck** to come on down and get all of these piles of priceless junque YET, even when I leave the door open for hours because we're in the back yard or we're about to pack or whatever. Still, the crime watch people are very conscientious. They called me just the other day to verify that my door was only open because I was getting Mama's stuff together to take out to the car (we went on a drive, and she needed her walker, her nebulizer just in case, a bag of approved food such as crackers and diet RC cola, and a backup pair of shoes).

Wait until the next time they drive by!

"Yes, um, Shalanna . . . did you know that there's a bucket on your roof?"

"Oh, right . . . here, you can talk to the buckethead himself." Let HIM explain it.

They fine you just for leaving your trash out on the wrong morning, kids! Just wait until they see this lovely addition to my garden statuary. Maybe they'll think it's a UFO and it'll scare them away.

* {Tax assessment for this year. Neighbors have actually sold their casas for anywhere between $250K and $800K. But then they have new flooring and kitchen appliances. At least my stuff is almond and Berber carpet if it isn't granite and hardwood . . . and not avocado green appliances and orange shag carpet that has to be RAKED, as was here when my parents first bought the house in 1967.}
** {We get lots of burglaries now that our neighborhood has been Discovered. Used to, we were invisibubble. Now that two highways have gone through north of us and west of us, they've discovered us and are buying up the houses to renovate. We can't really afford to live here now, but then my parents really couldn't, either . . . we do love the old manse, but it's a LOT of work and upkeep, even when you don't have to tune an antenna on the roof.}
shalanna: (8ball)
Heh. What would the world do without me to stumble along and suddenly post something provocative that occurs to me? *grin* Probably have far lower blood pressure and be happier, come to think of it.

But I stirred up some protest that led to an interesting discussion about the teaching of language arts/English grammar and usage. Didn't really know I was going to, but then I never seem to anticipate these things, do I? *duh*

At Ann Leckie's journal, when an offhand comment I made on a prior entry led to some consternation, there's now a discussion of students and what helps them (or doesn't). At Rachel Swirsky's journal, I actually get quoted! I'm famous. (GRIN) Don't take me too seriously, as I'm usually just musing and I do expect to hear other points of view (which may become mine if I let things percolate for a while). Generally I don't stir up people that much with just a few lines. Oh, do I? Surely there's some GOOD use for that talent. I might even find it sometime.

At the time, I wasn't thinking so much of students in general (when I typed all that jumble) as I was of students who know they're going to become writers. Students who aim for other careers won't be So Serious about the semicolon and colon, naturally. But I always knew I would write (whether or not you can pretend I am a "real" writer or just think I'm a scribbler is moot), so I tried to master usage and grammar and punctuation. When I was young, my teachers and parents said I didn't have any interesting stories to tell, so I should prepare for the time when I would have some cool story (if only that time would hurry up and arrive) by becoming a master of the tools of the craft. I suppose people who are natural storytellers or who have ideas that are more in line with what sells today don't have to worry so much. Or they find editors.

I concede that the "average" (everyday, normal) student through the ages didn't study grammar and punctuation and so forth very thoroughly, and people in general are probably as literate now as they have ever been. (Consider that many jobs in the past didn't require literacy so much as a strong back. Now we have far more office professions.) But shouldn't someone who is a professional novelist know his or her tools? A carpenter knows his/her tools before building a house, and has practiced until he/she can use them properly. I don't see why we can't expect a professional writer (one who publishes a novel, no less) to be one of those people who studied grammar and usage and punctuation for himself or herself, whether or not it was taught in school.

As always, what I said was what I was thinking at the time. Didn't really mean to imply that "the kids are baaaad," if I did. Because really, I like the young adults of today! They're nice people. They are bright. They are changing the world. But they are not, IMHO, maintaining the emphasis on punctuation and grammar in written language that we used to have in publishing (at least). Is this a good or bad thing? Well, to my mind, anything that does not serve clarity is doubleplus-ungood. So when we omit punctuation or use nonstandard grammar that doesn't make a sentence easily understandable, I think we're going downhill.

The author whose work was under discussion in that thread had written sentences that confused everyone, and was defending her book as having "nothing wrong." A reviewer had written that her self-pubbed novel (in e-format) is riddled with errors, although the story itself (said the reviewer) isn't bad. I extrapolated to say that nowadays, it seems that good grammar and punctuation don't even matter. Not even to mainstream publishing (IMHO, judging by the many errors I see in published novels). I see contest entries (in RWA chapter contests and writers' convention contests) that simply have not been cleaned up--and the judges' sheets seem to completely give them a pass on that. It's as if they are saying that editors and agents don't care at all or will not notice. That it's all about the story. I do not believe that (maybe I should), but it certainly seems that way from this vantage point. I think writers need to wake up and start caring about the mechanics of their work.

Or perhaps it will matter less and less as self-publishing becomes the norm.

That poor li'l author who was clueless now has a bunch of one-star Amazon reviews. I guess she had her fifteen minutes of fame, at the bottom of the pile-on, that is. Oh, well. More people looked at her work than I could ever hope to have look at mine, which is saying something. Not sure WHAT. She could go on to do the talk-show circuit, though. Parlay this into a mini-flash of fame. Make it her platform!

As far as my little drama burst about the kids and their resistance to learning . . . go read _Generation X Goes to College_ by Peter Sacks or _The Dumbest Generation_ by Mark Bauerlein (or any number of books about students' lack of interest in general knowledge and gaining traditional academic expertise). It's true that students today get inflated grades and often expect to get great grades despite not turning in the work. In the past, students would get bad grades for poor work; now, parents often intervene to get the students' grades ratcheted up a notch. People were wondering why I said that, and thinking all my evidence was anecdotal. Well, there's research that will tell you we do have a problem there. But it probably doesn't matter anyhow, as the world is changing. (Ya THINK?)

The bit about the cool kids taking over publishing . . . well, that's just me. I feel as if the cheerleaders and the jocks decided it's cool to have a book in print, and the rules therefore changed accordingly. No longer must you be a grammar wonk or a stickler for correct usage to write books. My magical talent becomes unimportant just as I start waving the wand. Frustration city.

I understand that the next generation is going to take over and do things any way they like. But I don't have to like it when I see a decline in the quality of books on the shelves. Who knows whether the young crowd is to blame--or perhaps people of all ages who didn't learn how to self-edit? It seems that the shift is taking place just as a new crop of writers matures . . . but of course correlation doesn't guarantee causation. The culprits could be a bunch of old fossils like me who were too busy smoking pot to bother learning how to punctuate. Whatever and whoever is causing it . . . I think it's leading us down a less positive path.

On the other hand, just about anyone can go self-publish and then say he or she has published a book now . . . which is nice. It's up to readers whether they actually want to READ the books, as ever.

I'm sure one of the reasons I feel such angst over crappy writing vs readable writing is that I can't find much on the shelves now that I like. Nothing speaks to me. So many books start out clunky and don't speak to me. I did get some good recommendations from a couple of people, though, and that gives me something to look for at the bookstore. It could just be a phase I'm going through as I enter my second childhood.

Or it could be a hardcore midlife crisis. *flip a coin*

Think this guy has anything to hide??

shalanna: (Default)
Hubby just got finished lecturing me about why I mustn't bid on any of the critiques offered by editors and agents at this ebay store because "they'll just think you are a sucker who can't get the work to them through other channels, and they won't take it seriously and won't request the full--it'll just be a waste of the $500 that I need to spend on more ham radio equipment!"

"But I *am* a sucker who can't get an agent and therefore can't get to Kate Seaver, a senior editor at Berkley--Berkley!--who edits paranormal romance like LOVE IS THE BRIDGE!"

(I'm not going to let him buy any more ham radio equipment for a while, either. So that imaginary $525 can stay in the imaginary bank.)

"Well, you are not to bid on those at ANY price. It would show that you have no confidence in your work. You have to go in through established channels or you won't be taken seriously."

It's a moot point, as Kate Seaver's offer has now gone over $525.

[EDIT: It went for over $700.00. SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. That is more than our first house's house payment. That is more than my car payment. Who has that kind of cash sitting around to donate to charity, even for a critique? And the crit will probably be discouraging to the recipient . . . we'll pray that it is not, because when that kept happening to me, I got really depressed. Let's hope that the recipient gets more out of her/his critique.]

But others of interest are still going on. If you are single, independently wealthy, or more of a gambler than I evidently am (grin), here's the auction store. All profits go to help people in Japan. And who knows . . . maybe your chapter will be the one that charms the editor or agent into asking for a full! Or you'll get some useful stuff out of the critique. That would be good, too.

Click here to see the editors!

P. S. They also have lots of signed books and other author-donated goodies! Search for "critique" or "editor" or "agent" in the search box to see the specific stuff.


Be calm and visualize the ocean
(You can smell the salt air . . . feel the sand between your toes . . . hear the roar of the sea lions. Arrrr!)
shalanna: (Default)
It takes eight minutes for light from our sun to reach Earth.

(Distance between Earth and sun is nearly 150,000,000 km. Speed of light is 300,000 km/s. So, it takes nearly 500 sec, i.e., nearly 8 min and 20 sec. Formula is d=st or t=d/s. Change seconds to hours and hours to minutes after you get the time in hours.)

(And the contestant was *sort of* on the ball: she said that light travels 186,000 miles an HOUR [ahem], whereas it's actually miles per SECOND, in a vacuum. No wonder my vacuum doesn't pick up the dog hair.)

The League of Nations was formed during Woodrow Wilson's administration, as was the Federal Reserve. The League of Nations yielded in 1946 to the United Nations, during the Harry Truman administration.

Jade is generally nephrite (although there's also jadeite). I Did Not Know This.

Theodore ("Teddy") Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States (1901– 1909), following William McKinley to become the first 20th-century leader. Abraham Lincoln (16th, 1861-1865, which is incidentally the date span of the Civil War) used to keep notes and papers in his hat (they say). Benjamin Harrison (grandson of William Henry) is generally considered the worst-ever president (even taking into consideration all the others that you think were stinkers). {EDIT: This was one of those tossed-off remarks that the contestant makes--not actually a trivia "fact." It's something they've been told by an opinionated historian, I'll bet.)

The only hit the Strawberry Alarm Clock ever had was "Incense and Peppermints."

*Seven*:
Liberal Arts: (of antiquity) Grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music
Deadly Sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony
Cardinal Virtues: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility
Wonders of the Ancient World: Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse at Alexandria (alternatively, the Ishtar Gate)
Wonders of the Modern World: Stonehenge, the Colosseum, the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, the Great Wall of China, the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, the Hagia Sophia, the Leaning Tower of Pisa
Tones of the musical scale: Do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti (returning to octave do)
Dwarves: Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful, Doc

Aren't these just ESSENTIAL little orts of knowledge?
shalanna: (creepy_cats)
I spent the ENTIRE DAY today trying to . . . um . . . well, you know those five lab tests that the doctor ordered that weren't blood tests but were . . . um . . . [TMI]

POOP TESTS

I am not making this up. They gave me three white "margarine containers" like the "I can't believe it's not butter" (ahem) containers and four vials. Then I was supposed to . . . well, you fill in the blanks. WITHOUT placing the prize elsewhere, but directly there. Impossible! Impossible!

Well, just barely possible. Problem was, I started on Nexium to reduce stomach acid when I went to the doctor on Tuesday morning, and that corrected the "too much too often" trouble. So today . . . it wasn't as simple as one might imagine. Please DON'T imagine it.

*sigh*

Finally, just before the lab closed at five, I got there with all but one vial "done." At home we couldn't get the top off this vial (it had reagent already in it, stuff that said it was poisonous and carcinogenic and DON'T GET IT ON YOU), so I finally just went there and asked them to open it. The techs couldn't get it open, either. They decided the machine that makes the things had stuck the top on too tightly. So they found another of those vials (they're apparently a SET) and let me deal with that test separately. The other tests went in today.

But I'm pretty much well, except I do have some soreness and pain around my belly button. It's like a pinching, or a stabbing pain now and then. That is a lot better than it was.

The doctor actually kept saying, "It's stress. The job situation, the conflict between your husband and your mom, and all that . . . it's stress. Or maybe it's the five Metformin--reduce that back to three and see if it helps. And here's Nexium." He didn't seem worried. I'm still concerned, of course, but I'm better.

As far as stress, though--hubby has been pulled back off of his "new" assignment to do a last-ditch effort for this other project. There's a possible government contract in it, they say. I have stopped listening to them. I think the guys in charge of that are on a manic phase and need to get some Lithium or something. Aren't government contracts getting pulled back? *sigh*

But I'm not going to think about it. If he has to work for the [insert hated political party here] as a bootlicker, I won't say a word. Not a single word!
shalanna: (Default)
I've been having some major/minor digestive issues for almost a month now. I suppose it's time to tell the doctor. May I ask for your prayers and positive thoughts that it's "nothing"? (And by that I mean not a BAD thing . . . if I have celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome or something treatable by changes in diet and drugs, that would be not so bad.)

I know stress can cause a lot of problems, and I certainly have a lot of stress with Mama and Hubster bickering at each other all the time (and when his job was a problem, it was even worse). Still, I seem to have a terrific sensitivity to acid--tomatoes, citrus, etc.--that has accompanied this problem. I forgot about the acid in the little packets of Crystal Light powder that you put into bottles of water (*facepalm*), and felt all virtuous that I wasn't drinking a cola or soda . . . but I suspect that caused some of my problems this morning. I've heard that stuff isn't so great for you, anyway.

But anyhow. All positive energies appreciated.
shalanna: (birthday)
Thank you to everyone who sent an e-mail or left a Facebook birthday message! That was uplifting.

What is the phase of the moon tonight? In 2011? The full, 14.1 day old moon, 99.5% lighted.

My quiz result:
You were born during a First Quarter moon.
This phase occurs in the middle of the moon's waxing phases, after the new moon and before the full moon.
You test everything. You're sometimes unhappy with what others think is "good enough". You pointing out things you see wrong with the world, even if others are afraid it may cause some unrest. When something isn't right, you're the one who's not afraid to make dramatic changes. You're good at keeping your head in a crisis and reminding people that it takes a shakeup to fix things.

Quiz

OH, well. At least I got hubby to come out of the cave and drive around for a while with me. I got two birthday cards and two calls. Nothing that I need, at least nothing that you can buy without millions. I really need a house with a guest house that I could put my mother in so that she and Hubby would not spend most of their time raving how it's unbearable to live around THAT WOMAN/ THAT MAN and how I should spend ALL my time waiting on THEM instead of the other. But that would indeed take a lot of money. So I'll settle for a couple of pairs of shoes that should come in the mail by next week.

No cake for the fat diabetic, alas. (Sugar substitutes seem to irritate one's digestive tract . . . especially when used in baking.)

But not dead. So still ahead of game.
shalanna: (birthday)
My hero Jerry Lewis turns 85 today. Wow! That's an accomplishment in itself.

Happy birthday, Jerry. Hope you have a great day!

(Countdown to MY birthday . . . 2 days!)
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