IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT!

I had a different blog planned for today. I usually¬†post my blog from my iPad, but because my app doesn’t let me insert pictures, I logged on through my PC. Holy Moley! Word Press changed their programing again. Despite several attempts, I just couldn’t get my picture to show and since the picture was crucial, I can’t post what I want to today. Hopefully, I’ll be able to figure out the “new” Word Press and post the blog next week.

Meanwhile, why did they do that? Are you as tired of software engineers changing stuff all the time like I am. Oh, there is a history in America of “New and Improved” from Wall Street. But that usually meant a change in packaging and hype. You know, like marking pasta as “Now low-fat” when pasta has ALWAYS been low-fat. Occasionally, there might be an actual change in the product, especially when the old one was dangerous and it was made safer.

But , it seems from Day One, software from operating systems to games are changed at least yearly. Okay, I understand why for stuff you buy. How is the company supposed to make money if the program lasts forever. But puh-leese! Why would you mess with something that millions of people are using daily and doing just fine?

Maybe they get a complaint or two and decide to change it. Or the engineers have WAY too much time on their hands. Whatever! The rule should be until there is a massive protest (like MS Vista) against something or usage in the program decreases drastically…

DON’T FIX IT IF IT AIN’T BROKE!

Now back to this new Word Press to see if I can figure out what I need.

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A WEEKEND OF FRIENDSHIP

This has been a very busy weekend for me…what I call my “writers’ weekend”. On Friday night, I meet with the Oklahoma Science Fiction Writers group. About half of these people are/or were old friends I knew back in the days when I was very active in SF conventions. Lately, I’ve re-gained my love for SF and met the rest of the group. No doubt among this group is our generation’s next Robert Heinlein. After about an half hour of gossiping about general happenings in the SF/Fantasy world and noshing, we critiqued one of our writers.

Then on Saturday, I met with my romance writing friends. I’ve known most them for more years than any of us want to admit. We shared a potluck lunch and gossiped about general things in the romance world. One of the things we discussed is doing an anthology for charity with me as the editor. And this one thing connected both of my groups since I once edited a ST/SF fanzine. Then we helped one of our members restructure her first chapter.

Sunday, I met with my “soul” group. We’ve been friends over 30 years, and though they aren’t actively writing now, they were the people who read my first efforts and supported my dreams. We shared brunch and figured out how to fix the world. They also connect with my other two groups because my earliest writings were ST short stories and, while none of them really reads romance, they believe in me.

When I got home,I had a text session with my oldest friend. We used to play four deck Canasta, drink ice tea in the original 32 ounce glasses, and cheated on Latin homework. When I admitted I still wasn’t writing as much as I should be, she reminded me of my FIRST short story, written back in high school English. OMG! That old chestnut!? We couldn’t share food, but I was nibbling on chips. And she gave me some possible story ideas (like I need more!).

Didn’t I have great weekend? Friends, food, and writing. So what do you think of a story about a bunny becoming friends with a baby dinosaur?

MEA CULPA

I apologize for missing my past few times blogging. At this time of year, I tend to get depressed with the continuing winter season. There is some little primal instinct that goes off when the “real” spring has arrived. I’ve been doing little more than watching re-runs of Law& Order, SVU. And you know when I”m not reading, I’m really “blahhed.”

Fortunately, my spring instinct went off this week. I’m getting up at a reasonable time. I’m all excited about doing stuff, especially writing. I’ve dug out an unfinished short story and finished up stuff I have put off for two months.

What better time to be “reborn” than spring? Oh, there will be days when there is more stumbling than running, but spring has always a good time for me. When I worked at the hospital, I was so exhausted from the heavy winter census that I didn’t always get a lot done. But this first spring of retirement, I think things are going to be great.

I see more robins. The spring breezes feel softer. I love the way sunbeams dance into my newly cleaned front window. Yep, spring is officially here.

ON MY SOAPBOX AGAIN

Here’s Jackie again, off topic and on her soapbox. This time it’s about right-of-way for emergency vehicles. You know, those noisy, flashing-lights, weaving around cars machines that speed down the road you’re trying drive on? Yeah, those vehicles.They consist of police cars, fire engines, ambulances, and Mark Harmon’s car if he’s on his way to my house.

The law says if you see/hear an emergency vehicle, you are to pull over to the side of the road and STOP. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle is behind you or in front, the law says what it says. It doesn’t mean to pull over and slow down. It doesn’t mean business as usual if the vehicle is going in the opposite direction. And straight from the horse’s mouth (ambulance drivers, but it’s also true of the police and firemen),it is vital that everyone obey this particular law.

Why? Because it means lives.

When there’s an emergency, time is important. When an emergency driver is running “hot”, they need to know that you as a driver really see them. Even more important, You don’t have to guess if they’re going to turn in front of you or not. And if you can’t move over, then just stop. That tells the emergency driver you are aware of him; he’ll signal you if he needs you to move.

Doing this simple thing can save lives…yours or your family member’s or even some stranger’s who’s important to his/her family.

And I was just kidding about Mark Harmon…almost.

SALUTE TO MRS. HARRIS

The other day, one of the morning news programs ran a segment on favorite teachers. Mine was Mrs.Harris. In those days, there was no PC honorific of “Ms.” and grade school students weren’t allowed to EVEN know a teacher’s first name. Mrs. Harris was the librarian at Celia Clinton Elementary.

When I started school, I was already reading. I’m not sure at what level, but I knew, for sure, it wasn’t DICK AND JANE. In fact, while the rest of my class struggled with their first reader, I used to smuggle in a book from home and stick it behind the D&J. When I got caught, my teacher (whose name I DON’T remember) asked my mom to keep me from reading at home so I wouldn’t get too far ahead of my class in reading. Of course, my mom said no; she just promised I wouldn’t bring older books to school, but I would be allowed to read what I wanted to at home.

I don’t remember when students first got to go to the library daily. I do remember thinking I had entered Heaven. I’d been in the Tulsa City-County Libraries (another piece of heaven), but irregularly. At school, I got to go EVERY DAY! What joy! 30 minutes every day to just sit and read. And, if I hadn’t finished the book,I got to take it home. I also got to meet my personal angel, Mrs. Harris, the library teacher.

By the time I hit fourth grade, I had read almost every book in my school library. (Except the “baby” books). Nancy Drew, the Black Stallion series, Robert Heinlein, those wonderful biographies in the orange hardcovers. I read my first SF, romance, and historical fiction…all genres I’m still in love with. Mrs. Harris who had been instrumental in introducing me to genres and authors of all kinds decided have me tutor other students who had weak reading skills.

She more than any other person (except my folks) gave me the magical world of books. She and I would talk books for hours. Mrs. Harris, I never go to tell you how much you enriched my world or even to thank you. But wherever you are, know there is at least one person who will never forget you. Thank you!

MY PERSONAL RANTS

Everyone knows I’m the worst blogger in the world. There are days when discovering a blog topic is worse than a root canal job…one that goes wrong. So today I was cruising the Internet, looking for a topic when I saw a recommendation for getting on a soap box about an issue close to your heart. And since I have several, you’re getting a bargain today.

Would someone tell me what the big deal is about cleaning your furniture every week? In the first place, you have to convert all your notes in the dust to paper. And all that wiping wears out the surfaces. Before you know it, you know it, you’re replacing your furniture every ten years or so.

Recently, I saw a video from the Audi company. They’ve invented a car that will let you off, find its own parking space, park and, then reverse the procedure when you’re ready to leave. Big deal! When you have a car that will do all those pesky chores I have to do every week, then come talk to me.

And another gripe… In 1967, I had a paper dress. I’m not kidding! It only cost about $20, was washable, and was a great looking A-line.I loved that dress, but after several washings,it gave up the ghost. The point is at that the time, the manfacturers were predicting that their technology would some day provide disposable clothing that would cost less and be recyable. Those of you who have ever done laundry or ironing see where I’m going with this rant. What’s taking so long with our freedom from the laundry room?

So, what are a few of your rants?

THE NEW REVIEWS

Just like there is a new world of publishing books, there is a whole new world of reviewing them. While the old way wasn’t always kind, you could be fairly certain the reviews were objective. But with the advent of the Internet, getting a good book review has become a crapshoot.

In the past, publishers and/or authors would send Advanced Reading Copies to the reviewers. These might be anywhere from magazines, newspapers, to television. They would also be sent to book clubs for pre-sales. Some reviewers had their own columns or shows while other reviews were done by readers who were supervised by “book editors” for the publication, not to be confused with the book editors who actually purchased the manuscripts.

Nowadays, ANYONE can be a reviewer and, trust me, a lot of people think they are. Wrong! Oh, so wrong!

Part of the problem is the anonymity of the Internet. It ain’t hard to be cruel when no one knows who you are. And some people must think the job of the reviewer is to be as nasty as they can. My advice? Get back on your meds. Others see it as their job to use the review as a soapbox; they give low ranks because the price of the book is too high (hurting the author instead of the publisher who sets the price) or to rave against the book because the sensual romance that is clearly labeled as having sex in it. Well, duh! What did you think “sensual” meant?

Some of my other favorite “misses” when it comes to bad reviews.
1. “I didn’t read this book,but…” If you didn’t read it, you can’t review it.
2. “My (sister, son, best friend, critique partner) wrote this book and it’s wonderful! Right! Totally objective.
3. “I got cheated! This short story is short!” Again, duh!
4. Giving away too much of the plot, especially the twists.
5. Few words reviews. You know, the “I loved/hated this book!” Okay, why?

Here are some of the things I look for in a helpful review is:
1. A concise synopsis without spoilers.
2. Fairness. If good/bad, why. If there are technical issues, are they enough to hurt the story or can they be ignored because the story is so good?
3. Is your writing good enough to make me think you know what you’re talking about?
4. How many people agree with your review? I’m more likely to accept ten 3 star reviews than two 5 star reviews.
5. Write with your heart. If you’re doing it for real, you’re far more believable.

Until next time!