It Only Takes a Kiss
Happy book release day to me!
It Only Takes a Kiss (Once Upon a Bride Book 2) is now available. If you pre-ordered it from Amazon, it should have landed on your Kindle this morning.
THE PARKLAND SHOOTING AND BEYOND
Laura Ingraham surely stepped into when she attacked that young man for his college admission standings, didn’t she?
I would argue that she has every right to take issue with his stand on gun rights. I do not agree with her, but so what? However, his acceptance to this or that institution of higher learning has absolutely NOTHING to do with that discussion.
Those who belittle her for picking on a “child” are wrong, too. Actually, just as wrong are those who belittle David Hogg and his fellow student activists for being “mere children” and thus unworthy of our attention. Mr. Hogg is NOT a child. He is a young adult. So are they all—all young adults. They are as capable of making intelligent decisions—and perhaps being wrong and perhaps changing their minds (or not)—as any other rational being. Indeed, as perhaps Laura Ingraham is.
I find it distressing that so many so-called mature adults—particularly adults in positions of authority, and having power to make decisions—consistently underestimate the intellect and passion and empathy of young people (I beginning to think –hope—their underestimation will have consequences, though).
OKLAHOMA EDUCATION NOT OK
And it is not just Oklahoma by any means!
Oklahoma’s education issues are, sadly, replicated all over the nation.
Yes, miserable salaries (in relation to the years of training and education teachers must have and the actual time spent doing the job) are a serious issue. In America we seem always to measure people’s worth by their pay stubs, so we don’t lift an eyebrow at the lawyer’s $150+billable hour, or the doctor’s thousands+ bill for the gallstone operation that took all of three hours, or the CEO’s salary being over 900 times the average worker’s. These are all positions held by people whose education and actual job experience are often comparable to those of classroom teachers. But neither do we cringe overmuch at shelling out big bucks for mechanics and plumbers. But just put teacher salaries on an education bill and watch it get shot down!
Bless their hearts, the OK teachers are highlighting another serious problem—one that OUGHT to enrage anyone who cares about the state of public education in America (That lets Betsy Devos out). Have you SEEN the condition of some of the equipment and textbook those students are using? Now, I grant you that a literature text might be a bit dated—a Shakespearean sonnet is not likely to change from year to year. But a science book??? Or a history book that has no mention of 9-11 or the events following?? Copy machines. Classroom computers. Paper. Ink. SUPPLIES, people. Just ordinary supplies with which to do the job.
I know: it has been eons.
Most of you (probably happily) forgot I existed. Or that I did so in this format. Well, I’m back. And I am sorry to return with rather a case of the dismals (I heard that “So what’s new?!”).
I just got a check for the last quarter’s returns on my ebooks. The gargantuan sum of $334.01. Good job I’m not trying to live on that, eh? No wonder Uncle Sam wants to dismiss me as a dilettante. . . .
I keep kicking myself for passing up the opportunity to write a vampire book way back when. I did read Dracula when I was in high school and enjoyed those delicious shivers of horror—then—but just could not see myself reveling in such gore when my editor suggested such several years ago. Just think: I might have been lunching with that Meyer woman on some movie set! Every twice in a while I think “I should have come up with something like Fifty Shades of Grey.” Anyway, I might have done something like thirty shades of green or red or purple or whatever. . . . I mean, I can write sex. Really—I can. It’s just that I get bored after two or three pages of insert tab A into slot B. . . .
Yes. I’m feeling envious—not to mention drowning in self-pity. And I need to get back at chapter 6 of Book 3 of the Once Upon a Bride series. . . . Sorry I’m not more encouraging to any wannabe writers out there.
On a positive note: I’m getting $119 back on my income tax.
Goodreads Giveaway! 7/30-8/16
MY FAIR LORD will be released in Kindle format on October 17, 2017.
Caught you thinking naughty thoughts, didn’t I?! No, I am not talking about hot sex scenes in some of the soft porn that passes as romantic fiction these days. (Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters must be fairly spinning in their graves!)
I mean the writer’s use of sensory allusions to add dimension to any passage in a work of fiction—and in non-fiction, too, as a matter of fact. My writing group—bless them! bless them!—often catch me up on my “talking heads.” A timely appeal to any of the senses can add hugely, albeit subtly, to a scene and help ground the characters and the reader.
Basically, those sensory touches add mood. Weather is almost a cliché in setting mood—think Snoopy’s “It was a dark and stormy night . . .” which Schultz borrowed from someone else (Edward Bulwer-Lytton?) Colors alone can do it—that fiery red dress on the heroine is meant to communicate passion as opposed to the melancholy of her mother’s mourning gray.
Moviemakers spend jillions on background music for everything from scary horror scenes to sunny sailing excursions. Writers do not have such audio tools, but we can be aware of things like a falling ember in a fireplace, the sounds of cars or carriages from outside, the sounds of footsteps—shuffling? determined? skipping? approaching? receding?—even the clearing of a throat may lend dimension to the message being delivered.
Tactile details help too. Is the seat on that chair smooth leather or cool horsehair or plush velvet? What shade of green is that grass? Has it the softness of spring or is it the straw of late summer? How does such a detail contribute to the overall impression of a room or an environment? How does it contribute to the broader purpose of the passage? Touch is obviously the key element of sensuality in love scenes, but it can be tremendously important in any scene.
Don’t forget the olfactory sense. The reader’s nose is sensitive to more than just the perfume or shaving soap of a character. Describing a kitchen? Mention the smells that might emanate from that place—in real time or not. A stable or a barn? ‘Twould take a real novice to ignore the nose in that description. Sea air just smells different. The forest after or during a storm smells different from when it is dry and the sun is drifting through tree limbs and making shifting patterns on the ground.
Taste? Incorporated with other senses, this one, too, must not be ignored. Want a reminder of the effects of the essential tastes of sweet, salty, bitter? Watch a baby experiencing these sensations and try to describe his or her reactions!
Finally, pay attention to shapes. Take a cue from theatre stagers when creating backgrounds for your characters to act in. Stage directors know, for instance, that harsh, jagged lines will reinforce highly dramatic clashes, while circles and swirls subliminally suggest a smooth, unthreatening mood for another kind of scene.
Do keep reminding me, Lone Mountain Writers!!
THE PLOT THICKENS—OR NOT . . .
Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Oh, dear . . .
Those are the cries of a writer caught in a dilemma of her own making. Plotting is always difficult for me. So the problem is: I’ve got this character—my heroine—a “lady” in Regency England who must spend a good deal of time alone with a man—the hero—without compromising them to the point they have to marry (yet). So far I’ve fiddled with the timing, added and deleted characters, but nothing quite works. And this is the first book of a three-book series and I’ve already signed a contract, and it just ain’t working and if I could just get it firmly started and—and—and—
And life is a bitch.
I know: this, too, will pass; screw your courage to the sticking place—and I’m sure there are dozens of other clichés I could incorporate here, but none comes to mind. Can you imagine that? I am usually the queen of clichés!
I’ve never written a series before. I have to get this first book right! Mind you, it is the plotting, not characters that is frustrating me. So far, I really LIKE my people.
Many of my writer friends write “from the seat of their pants”—that is with little in the way of an outline. That ain’t me, babe, that ain’t me. I must have a detailed outline—I need to know precisely where I am going and how I am going to get there. That is probably the essential problem here. I usually have a 20- to 25-page outline for a full-length novel. This time I tried it with about half that. Back to the drawing board! (I know: yet another cliché.)
MODEL UNITED NATIONS (continued)
In 1991 the mother of two of my students twisted my arm to talk me into sponsoring a student exchange with a secondary school in Ivanovo, Russia, a former textile center about 300 kilometers NE of Moscow that had fallen on hard times. (Think Detroit in recent years.)
My Russian counterpart was Marina Belova who, among other duties, taught English. I suggested that if the Russian students were interested in a foreign exchange, they might also be interested in the Model United Nations program in a year or so. They were interested—NOW! (This was occurring only a couple of years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ordinary Russians were hungry for outside contacts.)
The problem was that THIMUN (The Hague International Model United Nations) assigns countries to participating schools a year in advance. There was no way this Russian school could have a delegation NOW. But these kids were so eager to become involved, it broke my heart to see them turned way. There had to be a way . . .
Turned out there was.
There were at that time over fifteen American high schools in Germany; most of them were involved in THIMUN. My school, Ramstein American High School, already had two full delegations of 14 students each, but I knew that some other schools did not have the full complement.
However, there was another problem: money. The registration fee for THIMUN was $135 per student. Our American students did fund-raisers all year for these fees plus hotel accommodations and train fares. Remember: the Russian students came from very ordinary families in an area suffering economically. They could get to The Hague and stay with families of Russian Embassy personnel, but that was it.
I called MUN directors at other American schools. My first question was could you add a Russian student to your delegation? Oh, yes. Sure. And could your club pay the registration fee? Yes, they could do that. In the end, one school added two Russians and another took three! Those teachers and their students saw this as a great people-to-people opportunity. And it was! Just a few years after Ronald Reagan’s famous line— “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”—American teenagers were tearing down walls of a different sort.
The Ivanovo school had its own delegation the following year. After that, they promoted Model United Nations in other schools in their area and held their own conferences. Today MUN is a thriving concern in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as Ivanovo. And several Russian schools send their own delegations to THIMUN.
Sadly, when I returned to the States, I was unable to interest any local high school principals in this truly remarkable educational program. (See my previous blog.)
But, boy! does it ever work in Russia!
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