Words With Friends

On my new iPhone, I’ve been playing an online game called Words With Friends.  It’s kind of like Scrabble, only it takes a lot of words that Scrabble won’t take and refuses others.  Very weird.  Anyway, part of the reason I like it is that I get to play with a lot of different people.  Some I’ve beat and others have stomped the heck out of me.  But one thing I really like is that I’m learning new words.

      Yaupon:  a holly bush or small tree in southern America whose bitter leaves are sometimes brewed for tea.

Now every November, when I go to my annual “retreat”, there is a Scrabble game round the clock as long as there are players willing to play.  But I’ve played with these people for years and kind of know how their brains work.  The people I play Word with are mostly unknown since I play random opponents.   So sometimes the words they play make me head for the dictionary.

       Venery:  the satisfaction of sexual desire

It’s not that I want more words.  I already have  a “reading” vocabulary five times bigger than my “speaking” one.  But like all other authors, I’m in love with words.  Sometimes, I’ll see an unknown word that intrigues me and I’ll look it up.  I still may not use it in either of my vocabularies, but I’m driven to explore it.

     Ugsome:  horrid, loathsome

Occasionally, in my writing, I have the darndest time finding exactly the right word.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of using a thesaurus.  Other times, I just have to use one word after another until I get what I want.  Most times, I settle for the closest I can get, feeling dissatisfaction with my final choice.  If I’m very, very lucky, a CP may “suggest” exactly the right word.

     Zibet:  a civet of India, the Malay Peninsula, and other parts of Asia.

Now, excuse me while I think a good word for my turn.  Hmmm, how ’bout chirk: to make a shrill, chirping noise.  Yeah, that works!

Forgive and Forget

Yeah, right! Seriously.

Do you? Can you?

As writers we pen that moment when something unforgivable happens between the hero and the heroine. With fiction our characters get over the emotional baggage carried into the story and what occurred. That’s what is so appealing with reading a book.

Drawing from our own experiences where we’ve been wronged, or perceived a wrong against us, brings flavor to the story and a bit of healing.

Self-Published. Do You Care?

To self-publish or not to self-publish, that is the question.  Not since Gutenberg developed the printing press, leading to the first mass production of books has the publishing world been so challenged to keep up with a changing marketplace.  With the rise of the Internet and ePublishing, aspiring authors have the ability to reach global markets through their own websites and social networking.  No longer do they need to rely on traditional publishers or methods of distribution to get their book into the hands or onto the Kindles of readers.

A few days ago, I had the chance to witness a debate between two published authors about the pros and cons of self-publishing.  For the purposes of this post, these two authors will remain anonymous. I’ll simply refer to them as Isa Author and Misa Writer.  The exchange between Isa and Misa started off as lively and reasoned.  It quickly degenerated into an ugly shouting match where each writer lobbed thinly veiled insults at the other.

The gist of their “discussion” can best be summed up this way. Isa sees self-published authors as the barbarians at the gates. In his view, the only reason they’re self-published is that they’re terrible writers who wouldn’t know a colon if they scoped it. He seemed to think the writing pool gets diluted and polluted when horrible writers self-publish. Misa believes that self-publishing lowers the barriers to new, previously undiscovered and talented writers, who pursuing the traditional publishing route, might have gotten discouraged and given up. The world might never have known the richness of their talent had they not self-published.

After listening to their debate, I found myself wondering, Who cares?  If, for example, my next door neighbor writes a romance novel, then self publishes it, why should I care? If she’s good, more power to her. If her book stinks, so what? Her writing career will wither and die.  In any case, it’s her money and her time, if that’s how she chooses to spend it, what business is it of mine?   And who am I to stand in her way of pursuing her dream?

Some worry that the rise in self-publishing and ePublishing will put traditional publishers out of business. I believe it will simply force them to re-evaluate their business models.   That of course will mean change, and that is what I think people fear the most.

I have a friend who wanted to be an artist. She’s a gifted painter. She opted not go with an Artist’s Rep and not to hang her works in exclusive galleries in New York and London.  Instead, she opened her own gallery locally.  Her paintings will never hang in the Louvre but I promise you, she’s an artist. And for those folks who write a book, then self-publish, it’s doubtful they’ll ever win the Noble Prize for Literature. But they’ve accomplished what so many people say they would like to do, but never do…they wrote a book.  And I say, “Good for them.”

Being Succinct

Kathlyn, one of our non-blogging RWI sisters, sent us a funny the other day. I apologize for keeping the email so I could post it verbatin, but you’re getting the gist:  A college professor instructs his class to write a piece including the following elements: religion, romance, surprise, and mystery. And the trick was to do it in as few words as possible.

The winner certainly succeeded:

“Oh, God, I’m pregnant. Who could the father be?”

Most readers don’t want their books told in the shortest manner possible. It’s all those lovely words that attract us to books away, that allow authors to set scenes and create characters whom we love. But sometimes we word-loving authors get too wordy. I once heard a writer friend admit to calling her critique partner in a panic. “I’m trying to get my hero out of this very cluttered room,” she wailed. “There’s so much furniture; he has to walk around this and zig around that, and he’s never going to make it to the door.”

Her friend thought about it a moment, then said, “He stood up and left the room.”

Stuck author was unstuck. She’d been so close that all she’d seen was an unwieldy problem without any solution, but her friend solved it for her in seven words.

Sometimes we need long, lovely, lush passages.

Sometimes we needed short and to the point.

The trick is learning to  balance them.

New and shiny

I just got a new car.  It’s a 2010 Chevy Cobalt and every time I get into it, there is that great new car smell.  When I see it parked in a parking lot, the shiny blue finish gleams in the sun.  Unlike my old car, I’m not sitting in a “pit”, trying to see over the steering wheel.  Instead, we fly down the highway with the radio playing songs from the ’60’s.  I love this car and until I had it, I didn’t even realize how much I didn’t care that much for my old car.

Jackie's new love!

And you know when I usually feel like this?  It’s when another book in one of my favorite series or from a favorite author.  When I get that book, especially if I’ve been waiting for it to be released, my mouth waters.  I check out the cover.  I read the back blurb.  Sometimes I even read the first couple of paragraphs.  I can’t wait to get into the story.

When I first got my previous car, it had the new car smell, but it wasn’t as sweet as my new car.  I didn’t have the same thrill driving it.  When I saw it in a parking lot, all I felt was gratitude I’d found it.

Sometimes, new books do the same thing to me.  I love the series or the author, but the book I so eagerly awaited doesn’t quite live up to anticipation.  I’m right now reading the latest Anita Blake paperback and while it’s okay, it’s not worth the anticipation I had waiting for it.  Part of the problem is that Anita’s not with her guys, and I miss them.  After all, that’s why I like the series.   So this book definitely not what I would call “new and shiny’>

That ever happen to you?

Taking The Time

Thursday as I was driving back from being with my son, I decided to cancel my ‘get there syndrome.’  I stopped at Fort Reno and was disappointed that the museum wasn’t open. But that didn’t stop me exploring the buildings. I’m not big on forts but I do like history.

The thought of walking the grounds with a bum knee and it was already hot and humid was not something I wanted to do. Once I was going though, I felt more drawn to certain buildings than others. An ancient cottonwood tree drew me like a magnet. There was a row of them lining what was once the parade ground.

How many soldiers lay in the shade of this one tree? Did they share their plans, dreams, fears of what was to come?

The smell of leather and horse sweat wafted on the breeze from the old calvary barn. For the first time in quite a while, I missed riding my horse. If I could, I’d have taken Gambler–tricks and all–and ridden across the sea of green grass. There’s something not quite so romantic about the little red RAV bumping along.

Life gets so crazy, and at times I just want to step off, slow down, discover what lies just beyond the next hill.

World Cup Soccer – Eye Candy for Us Ladies

Excuse me while I drool. 

Have you tuned in yet to one of the World Cup Soccer matches?  If you haven’t, you’re missing a real treat – men from all over the world…in shorts. Physically fit men…in shorts.

I love soccer. I played the game for years, in college and later in a recreational league.  Plus I coached all ages from Kindergarten to adults for years. Part of what I liked about the game is that it’s really all about finesse. It’s been said that soccer is a “thinking man’s game.”  To play the sport well, you don’t have to bulk up or be seven feet tall. You don’t have to necessarily be fast.  But you do have to be fit, trim, and agile. And while the game may seem complicated to the uninitiated, it really is just an advanced form of ‘keep-away’. The team that puts the most balls in the net wins.  

While watching the sport I enjoy played at a world class level is great, what I really like are the guys.  You see, even if you know absolutely nothing about the game, it’s great to watch.  There are no helmets to hide handsome faces, no bulky shoulder pads or thigh pads. Just a shirt and shorts. 

Oh, yeah.

Some people complain that soccer is slow. But the pace of the game grants photographers the chance to capture and replay the action in slow motion. So when the a player lifts his shirt to wipe his brow, we get a nice peek at his abs. Watch closely the next time they show you a slo-mo shot of a slide tackle. Watch how the guy’s shorts ride up his thigh. Yum.

Yes, I know I sound like a rambling horn-dog, but I’m not the only one. My seventy-five year old mother called me today. First words out of her mouth, “That Donovan is good looking.”

To see a couple of the guys I’m talking about click on these two links:  

Robert Green, England http://soccernet.espn.go.com/player/_/id/5112?cc=5901&ver=us

Landon Donovan, USA http://soccernet.espn.go.com/player/_/id/19107?cc=5901&ver=us

Or to search out your own soccer hottie, go to http://soccernet.espn.go.com/world-cup/

Click on Teams and Groups tab. Then click on any team, such as USA or England.  This will take you to the team rosters. Click on a name and that will bring up a picture and bio.

Now, pardon me, the game’s about to start.