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The Kennedys

January 25th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

This is a three disk col­lec­tion con­tain­ing a total of eight episodes, each about 45 min­utes in length. Over all the series is very well done. I give it five stars. There might be a quib­ble here or there with a few his­tor­i­cal details, but noth­ing too dra­matic. I was, how­ever, dis­ap­pointed by how many things were not included. The last two episodes in par­tic­u­lar rush through some of the most impor­tant his­tor­i­cal events dur­ing JFK’s pres­i­dency. I would liked to have seen this as a ten episode series, but I guess it’s bet­ter to be left want­ing more, rather than less.

Below is a syn­op­sis of each episode, which may con­tain spoilers.

Episode One: Joe’s Revenge Hour I: This first disk is where we meet the fam­ily. We quickly learn that Joe Kennedy had early aspi­ra­tions for the pres­i­dency, but loses the oppor­tu­nity through mis­takes he made as ambas­sador. In his stead, Joe Junior plans to ful­fill his father’s dream. Obvi­ously that doesn’t hap­pen and the oblig­a­tion falls to Jack.

Episode Two: Joe’s Revenge Hour II: Jack has just been elected pres­i­dent, but is still liv­ing under his father’s thumb. In flash­backs we learn that Jack had no ini­tial aspi­ra­tion to become pres­i­dent. He cam­paigns with­out heart to please his father until he finally finds his voice. It’s a beau­ti­ful moment, and I found myself wish­ing I had been there. The flaws of the Kennedy fam­ily are por­trayed in var­i­ous roles, par­tic­u­larly that of unfaith­ful husbands.

Episode Three: Us Against Them: This is the episode where Jack makes his famous big blun­der, the Bay of Pigs. It opens just before the inau­gu­ra­tion. Rose Kennedy asks her daughter-in-law, Jackie, who has recently had a baby, what she will wear to the inau­gu­ra­tion. Jackie men­tions that she has eight weeks to get her fig­ure back, and Rose snubs her by say­ing that it only took her four. (Oh, to be a woman.) We also see Joe Senior’s influ­ence con­tinue. Joe insists that Bobby become Attor­ney Gen­eral.  Jack tells his father that Bobby doesn’t want to be Attor­ney Gen­eral, and Joe responds, “Well, I want it for him.” And that’s that.

Episode Four: Who’s In Charge Here: Joe dab­bles in the mob with both feet out of the pond. As Attor­ney Gen­eral, clean-cut Bobby attacks the mob head-on. Sound like trou­ble? It is. Once again the pres­i­dency becomes off-limits to Joe, all the while the Berlin Wall goes up. Jack con­tin­ues to bat­tle health prob­lems, par­tic­u­larly the old injuries he sus­tained dur­ing World War II.

Episode Five: Life Sen­tences: The civil rights move­ment is in full swing, though it isn’t swing­ing smooth. Lin­don John­son seems to be the only cab­i­net mem­ber able to com­mu­ni­cate with south­ern politi­cians. As the pres­i­dency pre­pares to sup­port James Meredith’s enroll­ment at Old Miss, as ordered by the Supreme Court, Joe suf­fers a debil­i­tat­ing stroke. The fam­ily mem­bers are left reel­ing as they try to cope with their unre­solved feel­ings. Rose, in par­tic­u­lar, is bur­dened by trou­bling mem­o­ries. Simul­ta­ne­ously, law and order dis­solve in Mis­souri as a near civil war atmos­phere engulfs the uni­ver­sity and threat­ens the state.

Episode Six: The Brink: Jack’s indis­cre­tions cause Jackie deep pain. She takes a trip to Vir­ginia with the chil­dren just before the Cuban Mis­sel cri­sis begins. Ten­sions run high as the entire cab­i­net works together to pre­vent dis­as­ter. This is truly JFK’s finest moment, and true to form, Bobby is con­tin­u­ously at his side. Ethel and Jackie have a can­did con­ver­sa­tion, and Jackie returns to the White House as Jack brings the coun­try safely through what could have eas­ily become a nuclear war.

Episode Seven: Lancer and Lace: The episode opens with Wal­ter Cronkite telling the world that the pres­i­dent is dead. The rest of the episode leads up to that point. Jack’s affair with Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe is ref­er­enced, and as usual, Bobby is stuck clean­ing up the mess. Jack com­mits more defin­i­tively to Jackie prior to the assas­si­na­tion, which is left to the imag­i­na­tion, or mem­ory, and the fam­i­lies reac­tion to Jack’s death is explored.

Episode Eight: Bobby picks up where Jack left off, pro­tect­ing Jackie as if she were a blood rel­a­tive. Jackie even­tu­ally remar­ries, stat­ing the need to keep her chil­dren safe. Bobby is deter­mined to carry on in pol­i­tics, and becomes a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. When the polls show him out of favor he turns to his mother for polit­i­cal back­ing. He begins to rise in the polls only to be assas­si­nated a short time later. As he is dying he asks Ethel, “Was any­one else hurt?” And that’s the end of Bobby. With such a grue­some end to the tale, the episode closes by going through some enthu­si­as­tic scenes that leave the viewer feel­ing like every­thing is fine.


The Glass Cas­tle, by Jean­nette Walls is a com­pelling read. Nor­mally when I become so engrossed in a book I give it an instant five stars. Not so with The Glass Cas­tle. I’m giv­ing it four stars. The writ­ing itself is fan­tas­tic. Jean­nette Walls is a top-notch writer who uses the first per­son flaw­lessly. Usu­ally I get sick of all the, “I did this,” and, “I did that.” “I, I, I …” It’s enough to make me crazy! But I didn’t feel that way while read­ing The Glass Cas­tle. The sen­tence struc­ture is full of vari­a­tion, and greatly refresh­ing. Jean­nette Walls writes bril­liantly. Period. She helps the reader under­stand the feel­ings of all her char­ac­ters, not just the one. I’m an instant fan.

The main rea­son I didn’t give this book five stars is because it is true. That said, had it been a work of fic­tion I would have tossed it by chap­ter two, telling my self, this junk just isn’t plau­si­ble. And yet, it hap­pened. The more I read, the more that fact both­ered me. Jean­nette and her sib­lings han­dled the sit­u­a­tion amaz­ingly well, but the par­ents … I couldn’t get past them. It seems so wrong to reward that kind of thing with praise, even if it is a mem­oir. Had it not been for their kooky approach to life, there would not have been a rea­son to write the book. It’s a cir­cle I couldn’t escape: I hate that it’s true, yet it’s so well writ­ten that I couldn’t put it down. This tight knit fam­ily strug­gled des­per­ately, but it didn’t have to be that way. While it was obvi­ous the par­ents loved their chil­dren, they were so absorbed in self­ish­ness that their love was never real­ized. It never amounted to any­thing. The chil­dren were starv­ing while the mother ate secret choco­late bars. The chil­dren had no clothes, no toi­let, no warmth, no decent shel­ter, or food, while their father drank away every cent they had. When the kids earned money, the father stole it. When the kids found a dia­mond ring in the woods, and were going to sell it to buy food, the mother took it. After all, she deserved to wear nice things. The father even put his daugh­ter in phys­i­cal dan­ger so that he could win a bet. These kids were eat­ing out of the school garbage can. Jeannette’s brother had to sleep with a raft over him because of the mas­sive leak in the roof. When the chil­dren were in dan­ger, the par­ents shrugged their shoul­ders. When the chil­dren were being sex­u­ally abused, the par­ents ratio­nal­ized it away. After all, the abuser was only lonely, and chil­dren need to learn to han­dle those kinds of sit­u­a­tions any­way. It made for shock­ing, riv­et­ing read­ing, but it also left me feel­ing warped.

So five stars to Jean­nette for her amaz­ing abil­ity to write such a fluid nar­ra­tive. Zero stars to the par­ents who made the story pos­si­ble. Four stars to the book, with the ratio­nal­iza­tion that it prob­a­bly should be five, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.


The Stoning of the Organist

January 10th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Music | Perspectives - (0 Comments)

I have often laughed at this poem, and thought oth­ers might enjoy it too. I think only an organ­ist can truly appre­ci­ate just how funny this really is. We’re told by var­i­ous con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers, who are all talk­ing about the same song, “That was too loud. It was too soft, too slow, too fast.”  Hahaha. Just makes me laugh. Espe­cially the part about the vari­a­tions. Just let me say this now … I’d love to throw in a lot more of that, but as writ­ten below, it just “con­fuseth” everyone.

 

Acts chap­ter 29 By Gar­ri­son Keillor.

1. And it came to pass, when Paul was in Corinth, he and cer­tain dis­ci­ples came upon a mob that was ston­ing an organist.

2. And Paul said unto them, “What then hath he done unto thee that his head should be bruised?”

3. And the peo­ple cried with one voice, “He hath played too loud!

4. Yea, in the singing of the psalms, he maketh our heads to ring as if they were beaten with hammers.

5. Behold, he sit­teth up high in the loft, and mighty are the pipes and mighty is the noise thereof, and though there be few of us below, he none the less playeth with all the stops, the Assyr­ian trum­pet stop and the stop of the ram’s horn and the stop that soundeth like the saw­ing of stone, and we can­not hear the words that cometh out of our own mouths.

6. He always tos­seth in vari­a­tions that con­fuse us might­ily and he playeth loud and dis­cor­dant and always in a mil­i­tant tempo, so that we have not time to breathe as we sing.

7. Lo, he is a plague upon the faith and should be chas­tised.” Paul, hear­ing this, had him­self picked up a small stone, and was about to cast it, but he set it down, and bade the organ­ist come forward.

8. He was a nar­row man, sal­low of com­plex­ion, with dry skin, flak­ing and thin of hair.

9. And Paul said unto him, “Why hath thou so abused thy brethren?”

10. And the organ­ist replied, “I could not hear them singing from where I sat, and there­fore played the louder so as to encour­age them.”

11. And Paul turned round to the mob and said loudly, “Let him who has never played an organ cast the first stone.”

12. And they cast stones for a while until their arms were tired and Paul bade the organ­ist repent and he did.

13. And Paul said unto him, “Thou shalt take up the flute and play it for thirty days, to cleanse thy spirit,” and after­ward they returned to Corinth and sang psalms unac­com­pa­nied and then had cof­fee and were refreshed in the faith.

Volde­mort.  That is all it takes.  Chances are, by read­ing that sin­gle name, the entire Harry Pot­ter series comes to mind.  Now think of Eliz­a­beth and Mr. Darcy.  Assum­ing you’ve read Pride and Prej­u­dice, a whole new feel­ing reg­is­ters.  Char­ac­ters and sto­ries are so closely related that they are almost one and the same.  This is why great char­ac­ters are not only impor­tant; they are absolutely essen­tial.  Most writ­ers under­stand this con­cept.  The dif­fi­culty comes in imple­ment­ing it.  Let’s start by look­ing at a few cap­ti­vat­ing characters.

 

Harry Pot­ter: When we first meet Harry, we find that he is pretty aver­age.  There has never been any­thing spe­cial about him.  Then, out of the blue,voila, we dis­cover he is unique.  He’s the reg­u­lar Joe turned super­hero, and audi­ences love him.

 

Meet Skeeter from The Help, by Kathryn Stock­ett.  Sup­pos­edly she is not pretty, though the movie char­ac­ter was gor­geous.  She cares more about get­ting an edu­ca­tion than find­ing a hus­band.  To her mother’s dis­may, she does not care about her hair and would rather speak her mind than fol­low social cues.  Though she is strong, she has had to move back home until she is able to land a seri­ous job.

 

Scrooge, from Charles Dick­ens’ The Christ­mas Carol, is the man we love to hate, until we start to feel sorry for him.  He’s stingy, mean, and some­times down­right cruel.  As the tale pro­gresses, we learn that he wasn’t always like this, and by the end of the story every­one wants Scrooge to make good.  We want him to take that leap of faith.  Do a good turn.  Buy the turkey in the window!

 

Cap­tain Ahab, from Moby Dick, by Her­man Melville: talk about trou­ble.  Ahab has become engulfed in revenge.  While he may seem ordi­nary at times, occa­sion­ally even kid, the vengeance in his heart is para­mount.  Every­thing else becomes sec­ondary, even life.  He is one of the most flawed char­ac­ters ever hatched, and yet he has lasted one hun­dred and sixty years and counting.

 

So what do these char­ac­ters have in com­mon?  Why do we love them?

 

  1. They are relat­able.  Read­ers under­stand them because, to some degree or another, we have felt what they feel.
  2. Great char­ac­ters are always flawed.  This is one of the most cru­cial areas of char­ac­ter devel­op­ment.  With­out flaws, char­ac­ters do not seem real.  They become hol­low imi­ta­tions of life, not tan­gi­ble beings.  Even Super­man has weak­nesses, and I’m not talk­ing about Kryp­tonite.  Sup­pos­edly he does not lie, yet his entire Clark Kent per­sona is a lie. He believes in being kind and cour­te­ous, while time after time leav­ing Lois Lane hang­ing.  Talk about rude.
  3. Great char­ac­ters are dif­fer­ent.  They have qual­i­ties that make them unique within the sto­ries they inhabit.  Harry finds out he is a wiz­ard.  Eliz­a­beth (Pride and Prej­u­dice) is high-spirited, edu­cated, smart, and yet blind as a bat.  Cin­derella loses her iden­tity when her father dies, and regains it by tak­ing on a secret iden­tity.  Edward (The Count of Monte Cristo) is loved by every­one except his best friend who throws him into prison for crimes he did not com­mit.  THese are unusual sce­nar­ios with unique, strong char­ac­ters who react in a time­less manner.
  4. Most great char­ac­ters have quirks: unique attrib­utes or tics that either tickle or dis­gust us.  Edward (The Count of Monte Cristo) twirls his hair.  Skeeter (The Help) takes secret phone mes­sages in the pantry so as to hide them from her mother.  Bella (Twi­light) is con­stantly trip­ping, falling, crash­ing, etc.
  5. Great char­ac­ters are strong.  Throw out the flimsy peo­ple.  Weak char­ac­ters will not do except in sup­port­ing roles.  Jimmy couldnever be Super­man.  It just wouldn’t work.  The main char­ac­ter must be able to carry the story, drive the plot, and grip the reader.
  6. Great char­ac­ters are lik­able.  When char­ac­ter­iz­ing a vil­lain, remem­ber that we want to love hat­ing him/her.  We want to enjoy how hor­ri­ble the char­ac­ter is.  We want to read the dirt and rel­ish it!  When char­ac­ter­iz­ing a hero, read­ers want to see him/her rise above the con­flict so that in the end, we can cheer our­selves silly.
  7. Great char­ac­ters grow.  They must change, morph, and become more than they were.  This is espe­cially true when writ­ing a series.  Char­ac­ters that stay the same do not seem real, and they are boring.
  8. In a series, the back­bone of a great char­ac­ter remains intact. Even though char­ac­ter devel­op­ment is cru­cial, the character’s traits should remain solid.  For exam­ple, Edward (Twi­light) is a vam­pire.  No amount of char­ac­ter devel­op­ment can or should change that.  It is who he is.  And beau­ti­fully enough, it is a flaw.  The same prin­ci­ple should apply to char­ac­ter traits.
  9. Great char­ac­ters are writ­ten by authors who know them well; they know what he/she will do given any cir­cum­stance or condition.
  10. Great char­ac­ters are cre­ated from the heart.  There is noth­ing more intrigu­ing than an orig­i­nal char­ac­ter fresh from the ink, molded to life on the wings of imagination.

 

Happy Holidays

December 24th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

From my house to yours

Merry Christmas!

 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Down­load the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I love writ­ing music as much as I love writ­ing books, and so it’s no sur­prise that I would want to put the two together. The fol­low­ing is the love theme I wrote for my Class Col­li­sion series, and was arranged for inter­me­di­ate pianists. I’ve included both an audio file and sheet music.

Audio file: Love Theme From “Class Col­li­sion,” by Annette Mackey To down­load this audio file, right click and click “save link as.”

Sheet music: Love Theme From Class Col­li­sion PDF Arranged for inter­me­di­ate piano.

 

All music on this web­site was writ­ten by Annette Mackey, and may be down­loaded or shared for non­com­mer­cial use. Copy­right 2011 by Annette Mackey.

 

Poppyseed Spinach Salad

November 21st, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

MmMm. This is prob­a­bly my favorite salad, and it is soooooooooo easy. If you ask me, that’s the way cook­ing should be: deli­cious with­out tremen­dous effort.

Pop­py­seed Spinach Salad

Col­lect ingre­di­ents and set them aside until you are ready to serve. Be sure to keep dress­ing refridgerated.

1–2 bags spinach, depend­ing on the size of bag. You need enough to fill a medium size salad bowl.

1 large can man­drin oranges (or 2 smaller cans)

1 cup frozen/thawed or fresh ras­ber­ries (Although I must admit that I always add extra. They’re just so stink­ing good!)

1 cup glazed walnuts/pecans– or glaze your own. See the sim­ple recipe at the bot­tom of this post.

Lite­house brand FRESH Pop­py­seed Dress­ing. This can be found near the let­tuce in the pro­duce sec­tion of most gro­cery stores.

Just before serv­ing, pre­pare salad as fol­lows: Set­tle spinach in bowl. Coat with desired amount of Lite­house Pop­py­seed Dress­ing. I don’t like it too thick so I use about 1/3 of a 12fl oz bot­tle. Drain man­drin oranges. Sprin­kle oranges between lay­ers of spinach, sav­ing small amount to top as gar­nish. Do not toss salad or the oranges will end up on the bot­tom. Care­fully sprin­kle ras­ber­ries between lay­ers of spinach, sav­ing enough to top as gar­nish. Care­fully sprin­kle glazed wal­nuts between lay­ers, sav­ing enough to top as gar­nish. Gar­nish top with remain­ing oranges, ras­ber­ries and wal­nuts. If you used frozen/thawed ras­ber­ries, they will imme­di­ately start to mix with the dress­ing turn­ing it a beau­ti­ful red-ish color. Love that! Serve imme­di­ately. Makes four large serv­ings or six medium servings.

To glaze nuts

Pre­heat oven to 350. Cover cookie sheet with tin­foil, grease or spray foil so that nuts will not stick. (You don’t really need the foil. It just makes clean-up faster) Place 2 cups wal­nuts or pecans in quart-size microwave safe dish. Add 1/4 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar. (May add up to 1/2 cup sugar for extra coat­ing, which will make the nuts extra crunchy.) Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Heat again 1 minute. Stir. Heat again 1 minute. Stir. Repeat until 6 — 8 min­utes of cook­ing has occurred, or sugar caramelizes. Empty nuts onto cook­ing sheet and spread them evenly. Bake 10 min­utes or until nuts are crunchy.

I love this salad so much that I buy large quan­ti­ties of ras­ber­ries when they are in sea­son and freeze them. That way I can enjoy it all year long. By the way, I’m mak­ing this for my Thanks­giv­ing Salad. It’s so pretty too!

If you want to write …

November 15th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Books | Perspectives | Writing Tips - (0 Comments)

If ever I had a book to share, it would be If You Want To Write, by Brenda Ueland. I read this book at a time when I was feel­ing self-conscious about let­ting peo­ple read my work, and I must say, it totally changed my per­spec­tive. From begin­ning to end you won’t find a sin­gle page detail­ing gra­mar, punc­tu­a­tion, etc. For this isn’t a book about edit­ing. Instead, the focus is on the actual writ­ing process: how to get your words flow­ing, keep it real, and make your story honest. Her advice is so real that it res­onates deep down where your imag­i­na­tion lingers. Here are a few quotes that really got me going.

Every­body is orig­i­nal, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from him­self. But it must be from his true self and not from the self he thinks he should be.” If You Want To Write, Chap­ter 1, p. 4

Well, Van Gogh was one of the great painters. Dur­ing his life he made only 109 dol­lars in all on his paint­ing. They are now worth about two mil­lion dolars. He had a ter­ri­bly hard life-loneliness, poverty and star­va­tion that led to insan­ity. And yet it was one of the great­est lives
that was ever lived-the hap­pi­est, the most burn­ingly incan­des­cent.” If You Want To Write, Chap­ter 3, p. 23. — I par­tic­u­larly enjoyed this chap­ter since Van Gogh is my all-time favorite artist. I some­times won­der how sad it would be had the world missed out on his genius. Then I think of all the amaz­ing com­posers I met while I was study­ing music com­po­si­tion in col­lege. I know they prob­a­bly won’t ever make it big, but that doesn’t mean their art isn’t worth the effort.

 

Chap­ter 4 is enti­tled, “The Imag­i­na­tion Works Slowly and Qui­etly.” This reminds me of the famous line, “you can’t rush art.” And, you can’t. Some­times you just need time to think it over. And over, and over again. There’s noth­ing wrong with let­ting your mind play with an idea, try it on for size, then chuck or keep it depend­ing upon what you finally decide. The point is, let it fes­ter a while. This in no way negates the prac­tice that some­times you should just spill those words upon the page as fast as you can. Brain­storm in every way shape and form to find out what works best for you.

In Chap­ter 5 she talks about tak­ing a walk. Can you see me smil­ing? Walk­ing allowed her imag­i­na­tion to loosen, and once that hap­pened free thought took place. It was dur­ing these walks that she came up with some of her best ideas. I can’t tell you how much I related to this chap­ter, since I think brain­storm­ing is absolutely cru­cial. Although I enjoy walk­ing, I pre­fer to brain­storm in the dark with absolute silence, and I do it every sin­gle night before I go to bed. Such sim­ple tech­nics can bring about so much pro­duc­tiv­ity. Then she adds this thought so as to explain that pure imag­i­na­tion isn’t some­thing that requires painful work. “I tell you this so that you will stop think­ing of the cre­ative power as ner­vous and effort­ful; in fact, it can be fright­ened away by ner­vous strain­ing.” p. 47. Boy, isn’t that the truth! In my opin­ion, allow­ing the mind to flow is the sin­gle best tech­nic for cre­ative writing.

Chap­ter 7 was prob­a­bly my favorite: “Be Care­less! Be a Lion! Be a Pirate! When You Write.” She con­tin­ues, “Peo­ple are too scared, too self-conscious, too proud, too shy. They have been taught too many things about con­struc­tion, plot, unity, mass and coher­ence. (They write) to impress peo­ple.” I couldn’t agree more. That was my prob­lem for years. I was way too self-conscious. It didn’t really hin­der my writ­ing, because I chucked all those old nov­els in the trash, some­thing that has me kick­ing myself now. “I just don’t know if I can take that kind of rejec­tion,” said McFly in Back to the Future. Ah, who cares, is my tune now. I write because I want to write. You have to learn to say, this is my art. And as long as you are true to what you write, the beauty, or the hor­ror as it may be, will shine through.

Chap­ter 10, enti­tled “Why Women Who Do Too Much House­work Should Neglect It for Their Writ­ing,” reminds me that Brenda Ueland lived in a dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tion than my own. And still, one of my biggest hangups to writ­ing are the house­hold chores. Being a mother is huge, and I would never want to neglect any part of that awe­some job. But the tedious work that goes with it can be so com­pletely over­whelm­ing. I would never get any writ­ing done if I had to be the per­fect house­keeper. That said, I took all day yes­ter­day away from my com­puter so that I could scrub and clean every­thing. It’s such a bal­anc­ing act to work, be mom, and have a writ­ing career on the side. Yikes! There’s no way I can get it all done. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try! I’d be crazy to say, it’s just too much, and throw up my hands in despair. Never. Keep going. Remem­ber the Lit­tle Engine Who Could. (Another book. Thank you beau­ti­ful writers!)

Chap­ter 13, “The Third Dimen­sion.” Yes! This is where the meat is. “You must never be an advo­cate of you char­ac­ters.” p. 122. In other words, just tell the story. Tell it true to life, espe­cially if you’re writ­ing fic­tion. Then in a foot­note on p. 123, she adds, “That is why you must not try too hard to be hon­est, sin­cere, in your writ­ing, for that too is a kind of false­ness. Why you are hon­est there is no try­ing about it. You are just qui­etly hon­est, and that is all there is to it.” Wow. What advice. So beau­ti­fully put, though some­times very hard to imple­ment, but absolutely vital in craft­ing a novel.

Chap­ter 15, p. 137, “Don’t be afraid of writ­ing bad, mawk­ish sto­ries for that will show you many things about your­self .… If you write a bad story, the way to make it bet­ter is to write three more. Then look at the first one. You will have grown in under­stand­ing, in hon­esty. You will know what to do to it. And to yourself.”

New to Twit­ter and hash­tags have you scratch­ing your head? Don’t worry. It’s really very sim­ple. Hash­tags begin with #. That’s all there is to it. On Twit­ter any hash­tag can be searched mak­ing this a won­der­ful resource when you are look­ing for infor­ma­tion or want­ing to share some­thing. Here are a few basic examples.

#SO — Mean­ing Shout Out. In other words, peo­ple use this hash­tag to bring atten­tion to some­one or something.

#WW — Won­der­ful Writer or Wednes­day Writer.

#amwrit­ing — Help­ing writ­ers connect.

#amread­ing — A way for read­ers to connect.

#FF — Fri­day Fol­low, which is a way to share your favorite tweeters.

Obvi­ously, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. You can even make them up. For more infor­ma­tion, or to clar­ify a spe­cific hash­tag go to the offi­cial hash­tag site.

It’s been a lit­tle over a year since my first book was pub­lished, and I find myself reflect­ing. Prior to pub­li­ca­tion, I spent about a year and a half try­ing to learn how the book busi­ness worked. And let me tell you, it turned out to be a lot dif­fer­ent than I thought. I guess I was stuck in 1985, think­ing in pre-internet terms. I had in my mind this glo­ri­ous com­pany … the pub­lisher. After all, it had been pub­lish­ers who had sup­plied my con­stant need to read over the course of my entire life. I had some­how asso­ci­ated every great story with these pub­lish­ers rather than the authors who wrote them. And I did not real­ize how dra­mat­i­cally times had changed. Drat, you may say. For that’s exactly how I reacted. But soon I came to see the changes in this topsy-turvy busi­ness work to my advan­tage. In the past three years I’ve seen ebook read­ers and inter­net pub­lish­ing change from trends into busi­ness as usual. While it is my sin­cere hope that big pub­lish­ers are not totally lost, I can’t help but join the ranks of authors who feel like they’ve been tram­pled by those com­pa­nies. But that’s a post for another time. In the past decade there has been an entire indus­try grow from the ashes of those who have been burned. John LockeAmanda Hock­ing, and about a gazil­lion more authors on twit­terface­book, and the inter­ent are in the process of chang­ing the world. Even pub­lish­ing stan­dards like Richard Paul Evans are reserv­ing their ebook rights. And they aren’t alone. Exec­u­tives too see what’s hap­pen­ing; such as Ruth Har­ris who left the pub­lish­ing houses behind to go out on her own. I could go on and on, and I haven’t even men­tioned big pub­lisher suc­cesses, such as Claire Cook who walked the red car­pet when her book Must Love Dogs was set on the sil­ver screen, and still do most of their own mar­ket­ing work, some­thing the pub­lish­ers are sup­posed to do. And yet, even with the writ­ing on the wall, there are still a few deter­mined peo­ple claim­ing that inde­pen­dent authors are more like rejects than the real thing. At the thought I almost start laugh­ing. Sim­ply put, all it takes to find out the truth is to join the indus­try. It’s a whole new world out there. And to tell you the truth, I kinda like it.