Sunday, December 18, 2011
The story gets worse. "An additional 30 million — 14 percent of the country’s adult population — can only read at a fifth grade level or lower," it states.
I've loved reading ever since I was a child. I attribute it to my mother, who read to the four of us every day. The Joliet (Illinois) Herald was delivered daily, and The Spectator was delivered weekly. When the Chicago Tribune came to our area, my parents immediately subscribed to it. My mother received it until she died Jan. 8, 2011 at the age of 90.
How can "readers" help? First off, parents can read to their children. That's the start. If they aren't readers, there's hope. Siblings can reach to each other. Teachers can read to their students. Teens can form study circles and help each other. Those who have the inclination can volunteer at their local literacy councils and teach people to read.
I was a member of Literacy Volunteers of America before it merged with Laubach Literacy International and formed Proliteracy. I taught a woman from Thailand to read English. Her eyes lit up when she recognized a couple featured in the newspaper who happened to be her next door neighbors. She was able to read that they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. She was the success story. Others were defeated because it is difficult to learn to read as an adult. Reading, however, is the key to success on many levels.
I've taken the training at Brunswick County Literacy Council and have volunteered for that organization. I'm waiting to be assigned a student so I can help someone else experience that wonderful feeling of knowing what the names of streets are, what's on a menu and what teachers say in the notes they send home.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The mourning process takes time and understanding.
I volunteer several hours a week, but it's a choice I've made. I love writing and had five assignments due this week. I met my deadlines. How can I finish the other writing assignments I've given myself?
It's a matter of designating time for them.
1) Make a schedule each day and keep to it.
2) Give yourself enough time to finish what you want to write.
3) Allow for delays and emergencies, e.g., an interview that goes past the allotted time; a call from a neighbor
who needs help; a need to sit and rest.
I look forward to seeing my family over the Holidays. I'll make my writing schedule in January!
Monday, October 31, 2011
I read about my own sign first and disagree with much of what is written in the book. Then I read my husband's sign and knew he didn't fit the mold in the least. In a novel, though, we set real life aside and create our own worlds and people, so this book is a start to helping choose traits for our characters.
My heroine in my work-in-progress, "Red Diamonds,"s is a libra. What a coincidence! Many of Tessa's characteristics fit her sign! I will not change what doesn't fit because no one fits a mold in its entirety, even fictional characters.
If nothing else, the book is a start to helping develop believable characters.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Nearly everyone I know wants to write a book, whether it be a novel, memoir, autobiography or family history. The publishing market today does not allow for every book to be published; thus, well-meaning individuals turn to self-publishing.
Writing requires an enormous number of skills, among which are:
* well-defined topic
* clarity of thought
* sentence structure
* syntax; that is, the proper use of the English language
* accuracy of facts
* I have a copy of a self-published book that has no author's name in sight.
* I have a copy of a self-published book that has factual contradictions in it.
The original event either took place in 1959 or 1961, It did not take place both times.
* I have a copy of two self-published books that make no sense. I cannot follow the topic.
The sentence structure is horrible. The sentences are convoluted and/or fragments.
* I have a copy of a self-published book that is a diatribe about the government.
The author is bitter about his lot in life.
These aren't books. They are personal journals. I understand people wanting to give family
members a remembrance, but they shouldn't impose their personal histories and inaccuracies
on the general population.
If you have a good story, write a good story. Get help. Join a writers' group. Join a professional
organization. These people will be as honest about your writing as their consciences allow.
Paying for professional editing services is a last resort. Often the cost does not warrant the
Follow your dream of writing a book, but when you reveal it to the general public, make it
something they can be proud to have read so they can tell you with sincerity, "Job well done."
Thursday, September 8, 2011
1) Serious life change--Everyone knows someone who has had a serious life change. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and died in 2010. His death affected my life and my husband's in numerous ways, especially in putting our own mortality in perspective. I know there's a limited amount of time I have to write--so I'd better get the stories written.
2) Vision--I see the stories in print. I picture how I'm going to write them.
3) Hope--I'm investigating pubs that will accept them.
I don't want to look back and say I wasted time.
I'm on these projects today!
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Instead, I'm compiling a list of what impressed me and why, such as the boulevard that makes Vienna just like home, St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg and its spectacular interior, the unique upper town and lower town of Tallinn.
Other ideas I have are the humor of some situations: how I wanted a picture of myself for our family calendar, but a breeze blew up just as a kind lady snapped the picture and my hair is standing straight in the air; how I had a seat directly behind a large pillar during the ethnic dance in St. Petersburg and not only missed many moves but couldn't take pictures; how I carefully calculated the number of minutes I was spending online so I wouldn't go over my allotted amount when I realized I had an additional 150 minutes free.
The whole point of this entry is to tell writers that traveling doesn't necessary mean you have to write a "traveling" piece. Put a twist on your travels, and write something that doesn't involve train schedules, attractions and costs.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Sarra spoke at the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers meeting June 10 at the Southwest Regional Library in Durham, N.C. and urged those attending to consider self-publishing and e-publishing. She provided a step-by-step outline of how to accomplish the task and has the information on her Web site at http://www.sarracannon.com./
What is admirable about Sarra is her enthusiasm to help other writers. She understands the downside of writing and how discouraging the process of getting published can be. She offered an alternative to the traditional path to publishing. Based on the proliferation of tablets and e-readers, e-publishing will eventually take over the market. Now is the time to step in and form a readership with the e-crowd.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
In the interest of public disclosure, I write for the magazines, but I have never met Williams. He has not asked me to write in favor of the magazines either. I live at the south end of the county in Ocean Isle Beach and enjoy writing about what's happening here, and I enjoy reading about the area as well.
Why two magazines? Brunswick County is massive with 1,050 square miles, almost as large as Cook County, IL where I used to live, which has 1,635 square miles. The north end often doesn't know what the south end is doing.
The format draws readers in: slick cover and pages, pictures with blurbs, creative layout and fascinating photography. Some of the recent articles in SBM include:
* The legendary Sunset Beach bridge
* The charisma of Calabash
* Jon David, the county's newly elected district attorney
* Kathryn Parker, Seaside United Methodist Church director of music ministries
* The new flight school at the airport in Oak Island
* The Sandman Adventure Race at Brunswick Nature Park near Town Creek
* Eulis A. Willis, mayor of Navassa
* Youth Art Day in Leland
* George and Laura Patterson of Leland, didn't retire, opened their own business, Mulch & More
* Jane and Liz Tageson, mother-daughter team, teach together at Leland Christian Academy
The magazines are available at various businesses and by direct mail.
Information about the magazines are at northbrunswickmagazine.com and southbrunswickmagazine.com
Monday, May 16, 2011
The historical detail Ashe weaves into the story brings readers to the scene. They don't have to be familiar with the transportation, vocabulary or clothing of the early 1800s. They are immersed in it and understand the times because of Ashe's superb style.
When pirates board the ship carrying Valerie and Etienne from America to England, readers experience the cruelty of the pirates and the determination of the hero and heroine. When Etienne, now Steven, is in a "playful" fencing match, readers know what's happening in the scene even if they never heard the fencing terms.
The book has it all: memorable characters, heightened conflict and satisfying conclusion. Readers will be pleased to have this title on their book shelves.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
1) Read books
2) Practice your craft
3) Be in contact with other writers
I posted the review on www.amazon.com, but I'm posting it here as well.
Stacey Cochran reaches new heights with his novella “In Love with Eleanor Rigby.” Joe Smith, a carpenter and recovering alcoholic who believes he must hide his past, falls in love with independent, pragmatic Tabitha Merriweather, a milliner who owns a gift shop. Joe notices every detail about Tabitha, the clothes she wears, the tone of her voice, every facial expression. He says her eyes are “as blue as the center of the ocean.” Her voice is “pleasant but not without spine.”
He breaks through the denial of his past at an A.A. meeting when a fellow member explains that people choose to live or die. Joe realizes then “how much it helps to talk.” He decides to break his silence and tell Tabitha about himself. Tabitha accepts Joe’s revelations but keeps her distance until she decides to be part of his life.
The reader can’t ignore the comparison between the Beatles’ hit, “Eleanor Rigby,” and Cochran’s Tabitha Merriweather and Joe Smith; however, Tabitha and Joe conquer their inner demons.
Cochran’s imagery, metaphors and subtle humor unveil a story that contains universal truths that readers recognize. They picture the scenes and the people in the novella. They hear the words as if Joe is speaking directly to them. Cochran achieves what the greatest writers accomplish: layering. The story covers many levels, and his economy of language dazzles.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I enjoy writing, no matter the topic, but it got me thinking about the entertainment programs I have written stories about. I've covered:
* Sea Notes Choral Society in Southport, N.C.
* Senior Follies fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity in Oak Island, N.C.
* Concerts on the Coast, the outdoor summer fare that's free to all and paid for by local
groups in Brunswick County, N.C.
* Dancing with the Brunswick County Stars
I wrote all of these stories for The Sun News, the Myrtle Beach daily. The stories were human interest and promos for the groups rather than revues.
For those interested in getting published, contact your local publisher and ask if you can cover the concert, play or other production in your area. Often the designated staff entertainment writer isn't able to attend a program, so the editor may be willing to hire a freelancer for the job. Be familiar with the group you will revue, do your research and tell the editor what you know.
Another possibility is to interview the headliner. It's easier than most people think.
* The-late Frank Capra Jr.: I had no trouble getting an interview with him just by telling him I wanted the interview because he was the guest speaker for Brunswick County Volunteer Center.
*Michael Gurian: I agreed to call this Washington state author of "The Wonder of Boys" and 24 other books, after 8 p.m. his time. I live in the Eastern time zone, three hours later than Pacific time.
*Wives of sports figures: At the beginning of my career, I wrote about wives of Chicago Bears football players. I interviewed the wife of golfer D.A. Weibring, who won the Western Open in 1987.
Look around for authors, speakers, singers and other headliners, and most will be happy to talk to a writer.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
When she was 20, she decided she wanted to go to college. She boarded a bus to take her to Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas. She gathered together her two dresses, a sack of her mother's fried chicken and $25. She said she didn't know she'd have to pay to go to college. She didn't know she'd have to choose a major.
Dr. Guy Newman, the president of the university at the time, was her guardian angel. He invited her to live at his house with him and his wife. He enlisted his wife's help in getting a wardrobe for Mamie, teaching her etiquette and helping her acclimate to a world apart from Dixie, Ga.
Mamie's is a stupendous success story. Not only did she earn her degree, she worked with Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker. She was vice president of several corporations. She taught school. She was a high school principal. She has written five books. Payne University named a building after her.
I have her book, "I Can. You Can Too!" I plan to pass along some of its tidbits when I get into the book.
No one I've ever known has overcome such monumental adversity and achieved so much. Give her Web site a visit: www.mamie.com.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Jan moved on to other publications and continues her humor writing as a columnist for South Carolina Living magazine. The current issue carries "Lazy until proven active," a prime example of how Jan gets to the heart of the situation. She cites Bloomberg Businessweek's 2010 ranking that states South Carolina is the eighth laziest state in the Union. Speaking as a South Carolina resident, Jan agrees and tells why!
How can a writer project the humor that people appreciate?
1) By making themselves the object of the humor
2) By seeing the humor in an otherwise undesirable situation
3) By using specific examples
Check out the article in South Carolina Living magazine on Facebook or go to www.ecsc.org.
If you're interested in humor writing, see if you can take a rather ridiculous accusation, situation or circumstance and write a piece that makes people laugh.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
1) Consider your goals. If the desire to write something--anything--dominates your thoughts, this is the year to start. On the other hand, if the passion to write an article, novel or poem isn't primary in your mind, store the idea away until Jan. 15 or Feb. 1. Revisit the idea then.
2) Choose a project. Do you want to write your autobiography? a novel? an article for a specific magazine? a poem? Focus on the project. If you don't know how to start, do a Google search and get some help. Dozens of books, magazines and college and online classes are available.
3) Put time aside to write. Take a minimum of an hour, more if possible. Determine to write 500 words in that time. You can always increase the amount.
4) Write at the same time every day. Be faithful to the time. Don't take any minutes or days off. Be persistent.
5) Believe in yourself and your goal. You can reach it.