Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why Blog?

My niece is visiting for a few days. She's a funny child, if you can call a twenty-four year old a child. She's been going to college since she graduated from high school but hasn't managed to get her degree in pharmacy yet.

Now, that's not her fault. It's almost like everyone and everything is against her. She's her parents youngest child, so they didn't want her to "leave home yet" after graduation. So, she enrolled and spent three and a half years at a junior college. The college "made" this child take all the low level courses they have that pertained to her major - pre-pharmacy. Sabrina is what you would term extremely bright, especially in math and science. She had no business being in pre-algebra, or even algebra. She could have tested out and gone on to higher level math. But the college refused to allow that. So, she marked time.

A year and half ago, she finally managed to transfer to a university in another state and start her junior year classes there. Of course they had requirements, but she tested out of all the higher level math classes and all of the science classes they would allow her to test out of. She took her required courses and then the extra courses they added to the pre-pharmacy list.

This semester she was supposed to actually be in pharamcy school - but life happens. When she was twelve she had open-heart surgery for a congenital heart defect. When she transferred to the university, she climbed three flights of stairs early in the semester and passed out as soon as she sat down at her desk. The diagnosis, her heart condition (a clogged aorta) had reoccurred and one of her heart valves had begun leaking more. The recommendation, surgery to open the aorta again and replace the valve would be needed within one to two years.

So she got a handicap permit to use the elevator and continued school. She planned to have the surgery this past summer. What with one thing and another, you know doctors and their tests, the surgery didn't happen as my niece planned. Now she is getting to take this fall semester off from school to undergo surgery and recover.

She's very frustrated and is wondering what to do while she waits. The doctor doesn't want her to work until after the surgery and she has recovered. But she can't stand to sit around doing nothing. I suggested that she take up blogging.

She looked at me like I was crazy. Her "weak" areas are in writing down words. I couldn't say it was a language problem, the child speaks, reads, and writes three languages fluently - English, Arabic, and Hebrew. She's half Arab-Israeli and half American. She was born in Israel and lived there until she was seventeen. She only thinks she can't write.

She was telling us tonight about her brother's oldest daughter, another bright child. My great-niece does have a gift for writing and loves to put words down on paper. I got to thinking that maybe she should have a blog, but she's a little young - I think. But Sabrina isn't and I think it would do her good. Since blogging is simply writing about topics that come to mind. I think it would be fun for her.

She tells a good story, verbally. She's just concerned about punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Those are weak areas for her, but with the spell check and the freedom to talk about whatever she wants I think it would do her good. So, I'm going to make her start a blog before she leaves to go back to her home. By the time the semester is over and the surgery has past, I may be able to get her to "like" writing a little more or at least not be frightened of it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pen Names

The jury is still out on whether or not to use a pen name for your writing. The main question is: Do you want to lose the right to privacy?

If you choose to use your own name you risk becoming so well known that you might have to change your phone number so you won't get calls in the middle of the night, or you might be recognized and mobbed for autographs wherever you roam. Letters might arrive by the thousands, flooding your mailbox and requiring that you hire a secretary just to handle all your correspondence.

So you decide you might want a pen name. That way you can keep your privacy. But what happens when you're at a book signing and someone starts calling your assumed name and you ignore them? They'll think you're stuck up and start bad-mouthing you to all their friends. Then your best seller hits bottom and all the stock is returned from all the bookstores. No sales = no royalties = no more paydays. Then that fantastic seven-book deal with your publisher is cancelled and you have to return all the advance monies - that equals instant bankruptcy. All because you wanted to be a private, common person.

So, plan carefully as you work your way to being a published author. Of course you could turn out to be like me - published under part of my name and still unknown. So much for fame and fortune.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tag Game

My friend Peg tagged me today. I thought the game sounded pretty neat and decided to play along, too.

This is the 'What's in a name" game and here are the rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, use the one you would like to have had.
3. When you're tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
4. At the end of your blog-post you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don't forget to send/leave them a comment telling them they'e tagged and to read your blog for the rules.

Well my middle name is not short, but it is shorter than my legal first name.

M - Merry because I'm usually happy about life.

A - Artistic because I have an eye for art in several forms including watercolor painting, chalks, photography, quilting, as well as writing.

R - Realistic because I temper my dreams with realism.

L - Logical thinking is part of my analytical makeup.

E - Enthusiastic because I get gung-ho about projects I really believe in.

N - Nurturing because I try to help all the people I know realize their own potential and work toward being the best they can be.

E - Even-tempered because it takes a lot to get me to let go of my temper and explode.

What about playing along with me: Jay and Tiff? I can't ask anyone else because I don't have any other friends besides Peg who blog!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Preparation and Presentation

In a couple of weeks, I'll be presenting the program for ETWA. Last night I pulled together the samples of One Sheets that I've been collecting. There are some good ones and some that are okay and a couple that don't fit the criteria I've put together for a good One Sheet. But that's okay.

In fact, it's a fallback to my teaching days. When you teach a lesson, according to one primary teaching authority's opinion, you should have good examples of the concept you are teaching and non-examples of the concept. In other words, this one is right and this one is wrong. That way your students can compare them for themselves.

I'm putting together a packet for the attendees to take home. I'm going to make my presentation as short as the crowd will allow because One Sheets are really self-explanatory when you see them. I'm anxious to get to the homework portion of our September program. I want to know what everyone thinks of my short stories.

All I have left to do on my presentation is to revamp my own One Sheet (because when I went over the criteria list I realized I'd done my wrong!), make copies of it to include in the packet, go to Kinko's with the One Sheets that I didn't want to copy on my own printer (files are way too big with background graphics and color- so I printed out one b&w copy of each and will use the copy machines to make them faster and cheaper), and then collate the copies and staple. And then I'll be done.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Weddings & So Forth

This past Saturday I attended the wedding of the daughter of one of my critique partners. It was beautiful. The bridesmaid and maid of honor wore rose-colored dresses, the groomsman and best man were dressed in tuxes along with the father of the bride. The bride's mother wore a flower-print in various shades of pink and blended in so well with the bride's color-scheme.

Now, all of that is basically normal. Weddings should stand out and be unique. So what made this wedding unique? I walked in and realized there was a string quartet playing. I had never attended any wedding with a string quartet, and I've been to a lot of weddings.

The ceremony wasn't overly long, but it was memorable. Nothing is ever perfect, and neither was this one. A bride can either go with the flow and enjoy the whole thing or she can become a bridezilla. This bride was a joy. When the mothers of the bride and groom stepped up to light the separate candles representing the individuals, both candles lit on the first try. Good, so far.

Then the bride and groom walked over to take those individual candles and join their flames to light the unity candle representing their change from separate individuals into the one unit of a married couple. As the young lady took her candle from the holder, her flame went out. A small gasp rippled through the crowd - what kind of reaction would she display? With only a slight hesitation the bride smiled, leaned her candle over to her groom's, re-lit her candle, and then together they finished the task. A discreet, soft chuckle ran through the audience. Then the couple moved back to the ministers so they could finish the ceremony.

My attention remained on the unity candle as they shifted. The unity flame flickered and almost died out. Then it took hold and flared brightly, continuing to burn throughout the remainder of the wedding.

The image was so movingly symbolic I had to make note of it. I jotted the brief notes and put away my notebook. I'll use that incident one day in one of my novels, somehow, somewhere. My point? Always be prepared - to notice things around you and to make note of them so you can use them later. You never know where or when an idea will strike you. If you don't have a small notepad and something to write with, you'll miss an opportunity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tools We Use To Write With

We writers employ many tools in order to create our private fictional worlds. One of my critique group members has a map of the fantasy world she has created. We all use our physical tools - minds, eyes, hands, etc. Included in our tool chest are writing tools; paper, pencils, pens, typewriters, computers.

Add to our tool chest our lists, character description charts, character development charts, character motivation charts, scene development charts, plot outlines and on, and on, and on.

How many of these novel development tools a writer uses depends on the individual writer. "Plotters" make use of many or most of them plus more. The "SOTPers" may use only some rough notes written on scraps of paper. Contrary to the opinions of plotters, seat-of-the-pants writers do plot, just not three-inch binders full. SOTP writers plot mainly in their heads.

Even so, sooner or later, a SOTPer will realize he needs at least some sort of character list with brief descriptions of the physical characteristics of the main characters and secondary characters which appear often in the story. Otherwise you end up in the same predicament that I did with my current wip - I named my villain nothing at the beginning, then Damon, and later Dalton. But I found, after I sent in a contest entry, that I didn't do a find task before I printed the entry chapters off. Damon showed up in at least two places when I read the passage over again. But I found it too late to do anything about it - the entry had been out of my hands over a month! I fully recommend making a character/description list or chart for all writers to save time and trouble all the way around.

The other night I found myself writing a scene inside a cabin. Now, this cabin is very important to the story. A lot of action will take place inside the cabin. For the sake of my sanity, I drew a floor plan of the cabin, of every room including the bathroom. Was that necessary? Yes, for me. I go overboard sometimes, but I might need that bathroom floor plan later. After all, I'm a SOTPer, and you never know.

My cabin is detailed right down through all three bedrooms, the bathroom, kitchen, and the great room which has an area for living and dining as well as a sewing station and office. There are window and door placements, and even two fireplaces in the great room. I haven't done color chips or fabric swatches, but I could. Now that would probably be going too far.

A writer uses the tools he needs in order to create the story. The only question remaining in my mind is; Did I need to create and print the floor plan to move my wip along, or was it a delaying tactic (procrastination) to keep from having to actually write? Hmmm.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who's Been Messin' with My Whoppers?

Take a trip back in time with me. Actually, to the recent past. Saturday at the movies. An enticing sci-fi feature or western or whatever your taste in movies is, a large Coke, a giant bag of fresh-popped movie popcorn, and a large box of Whoppers. Can you see it? Are you there?

Let's focus in on that box of Whoppers. Chocolate-covered malted milk candy pieces that melt in your mouth if you can resist the urge to crunch them. When eaten in combination with the salty taste of popcorn, they give the muncher a distinct pleasure of sweet and salty. Do men enjoy the mixed tastes? Note to self: maybe another great subject to secure a healthy government grant - check into it.

Now, back to the Whoppers. The original malted milk ball candy was introduced in 1939 by the Overland Candy Company and called "Giants". After a merge in 1947 Leaf Brands reintroduced the candy in 1949 as Whoppers. Currently, Whoppers are manufactured by the Hershey Corporation. From 1949 until 2006 Whoppers were balls of malted milk covered in milk chocolate. What happened in 2006 to change Whoppers? A new version of the malted milk ball was introduced - strawberry flavored. Not just the malted milk ball itself, but the outer coating is strawberry-flavored as well. Another icon has fallen.

It took me over a year to decide to try the new flavor. My thoughts? It's okay, though I probably won't buy them again. Just not the same. What's that ... you think I'm stuck in a rut? Probably. But my tongue didn't love the new taste. I don't think strawberry Whoppers will have the same reaction in my mouth in combo with the popcorn and Coke.

I don't like changes. No, I'll restate that. There are a lot of things that should not be changed, just for the sake of changing. Give me a concrete reason, logical and well-thought out, and I sometimes agree a change is needed. But, don't go around changing things willy-nilly.

My sister walked into the room and asked to try the new Whoppers. Her reaction? They're okay, but hey wouldn't it be great if the company produced a Root Beer flavor? Yuck. Double Yuck.

My final word on the subject - quit messin' around with my Whoppers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Contest Results

Entering contests is dicey. You never know what will happen. You set yourself up for a fall and potential depression. Contests are great chances to beat yourself up and lower your self-esteem. So why enter them? Why waste the time, effort and money? Because ....

There is always the chance that you'll win. Right? Well, ... yes ... there is a chance you'll win, but the odds are you won't. It depends on so many factors that you aren't in control over - the judges and their preferences, if you entered the right contest for your book at the right time, the number of entries you are up against, etc. I could probably list reasons for hours. But the real reason should be to get the critique. I only enter contests that promise a least a short critique.

Why? So I can get someone else's opinion of what I'm writing. Is it good enough? What stumbling points did the judge find? Am I getting the story told so that it is interesting and makes the reader/judge want to read more?

I entered my wip, Wyoming Wind, in the Red River Romance Writers 2007 annual contest a couple of months ago, in the inspirational division. The coordinator of this division announced the finalists last week - my name wasn't on the list. Was I disappointed? Yes, I had hopes, but ... I hadn't placed my whole writing career on this one contest.

Contests, like grading creative writing papers in elementary school, are subjective. In the judge's opinions, did my entry satisfy the requirements and the judges' needs? Apparently not. I allowed myself about 5 seconds to mourn and then got on with life. I didn't cry myself to sleep, I didn't wail against the unfairness of it - my story is the best thing ever written you know, I didn't thrown things against the wall, and above all I didn't declare my life as a writer over.

Today I got my entry back in the mail, complete with critique and scoring sheets. Interesting. Validation. My writing is good, according to these judges. I scored 89 and 90 out of 100. Not quite good enough to make the top three or five that went on to the final judging, but still my scores were respectable. The critique gave some valuable pointers for me to ponder.

The deductions in points were in an area I hadn't expected - my writing wasn't considered inspirational enough. In fact I was told I hadn't written inspirational, my writing was romantic suspense. I know it was romantic suspense. But I entered the inspirational division because I write Christian fiction, Christian romantic suspense.

I guess I misunderstood the category. I thought because my hero and heroine were Christians that I should entry the inspirational division. I didn't want my romantic suspense to be judged against secular romantic suspense - major difference in the way the romance is handled. I received a phone call asking me if I wanted my entry moved to a different category. Maybe I should have.... Nah.

What's funny about this contest is this version of Wyoming Wind is a revised entry of my wip. Last year I attended the ACFW Early Bird session of the 2006 Annual Conference. I was required to send a three-sentence hook, a one-paragraph blurb, a one-page synopsis, and no more than twenty-five pages of my wip. Two heavily-published writers critiqued each participant's submission and conducted the day-long workshop. One of the comments each of the women had was that I had too much inspirational element in the opening chapter especially. So I adjusted it, took it out, or toned it down. Back to what I said earlier - judging is soooo subjective.

The few errors the judges noted were absolutely on target. I thought I had a clean entry, but with new eyes, the errors popped out for me to see as well. Thank you judges. I appreciate your time and efforts. I've judged contests. I know how hard I slaved over them, and I know the effort you put into my entry.

This contest also required a synopsis to be sent along with up to twenty-five pages of the book. The judges were dead-on right about a flaw in my synopsis - it didn't indicate the inspirational/Christian elements in Wyoming Wind. I'll correct that. They're in my head; they just didn't make it to the paper.

Now, on to the next step - keep on creating and writing and finish this book.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer Time

Summer time and the living ain't easy. Three-digit temperatures and no rain. Steam baths in outdoor East Texas due to rain almost every day during the month of June and into July. A news story this evening on Channel 7 about a child's playground catching on fire because of spontaneous combustion.

My goodness, children are no longer safe on playgrounds because of mulch spread around as a safety device possibly catching fire. What next?

But, if you start thinking about the mulch situation as a writer, it could lead to potential conflict in a story, a new plot line. News stories are great sources of fiction ideas. I'm not a news hound. I've been accused of keeping my head in the sand. I find a lot of news on TV horrifying and disgusting. So much of it is slanted by the news directors, anchors, producers, etc., I don't want to hear their opinions. But occasionally there is a nugget buried in the yellow journalism we're subjected to in the media that a fiction writer can use. I found one a few weeks back and made a note of it. I'll contemplate it in the future after I finish my current wip.

So check out the news - just don't buy what the broadcasters are selling hook, line and sinker as the pure truth. Look for your own nuggets.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Writing Discipline

Is it hard for you to assign a time to write and then actually do it? It is for me. I turn on the computer, all gung ho to write on my current wip (work in progress), only to find myself in the middle of my email account, checking out blogs, or playing Solitaire.

Yesterday I got busy writing on next month's ETWA assignment. I wrote two more stories, a little over 1,800 words. It took me about three hours, but at that rate I could have a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. That's NaNoWriMo rate. Hmmm. Now why doesn't my wip go that easily and quickly? If you know the answer, please let me in on the secret.

These three short stories I've written since Friday night popped onto the computer screen without much effort. Why? I have an inkling. They don't count. Well, they do, but they were just for fun, to meet a challenge. Half the people who were at Friday night's meeting produced the assignment. I didn't get around to it, as I said before. So I couldn't let the challenge die. I had to participate even if late.

The last story I wrote yesterday actually came up to the level of August's challenge, over 1,100 words. I have one more idea in mind. I may try to keep it to the 500 word level and use the longer one for the past challenge. We'll see.

I think working on the novel I want to complete by myself may be the problem. Most everything I've written I've had Elaine as a back up. I knew she would be there to work on it, if I dropped the ball. Wyoming Wind is my baby alone. I may be sabotaging myself. It's probably one of those psychological things, just like losing weight. I do great for a while and then give up. Is it because it's too hard, or do I fear what might happen if I get to a normal weight? I might have to deal with things I haven't had to deal with before. What if I finish Wyoming Wind and get rejected? Could I handle that? I've been rejected lots of times, but Elaine got to share in the rejection. It's not all my fault.

Hmmm. Dr. Phil, are you available for consult? Never mind, I know what he would say. Make up your mind and just do it. So guess I'd better get busy.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Writing Activities & Assignments

I belong to four writing groups and two critique groups. Meeting with each takes up a lot of time, especially when you add driving time to the meeting times. But, even though it takes time away from actual writing, meetings can be beneficial.

Last night, at the August ETWA meeting, members read what they had written in response to the president's and last month's presenter's writing assignment - take a topic and write a 1 - 2 K short story. Any type of fiction was acceptable.

Sigh, I didn't do the assignment myself - I missed the meeting last month because I was in Wyoming - but what a variety of responses there were. I left the meeting determined to make up the assignment, so I can read mine next month during our share time. The president gave us another assignment for September. I've already written the rough draft for the first third of the assignment; I just couldn't wait.

My brain was stimulated from hearing what the other members present had done. Our assignment this time is to take a topic and write it in three different genres. These are shorter, between 250 - 500 words. I went a little over; well, alright over 150 words beyond the limit on my first version - a romance.

I've already plotted the next genre, a teen story. I'm planning on a science fiction for the third and final genre. The plot hasn't quite come to me yet, and I still have time to work on a different genre if I can't come up with one to fit the sci-fi idea.

Some writers don't like participating in writing in a different genre from the one in which they feel most comfortable. But in my humble opinion, I think it stretches me as a writer. I noticed that last night's assignments were in the same genre that each person normally writes. So this next project will force all of those who take the challenge to work outside of their normal box. It will be interesting to see what develops.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Exciting News

Today has been a day full of exciting news. One friend of mine, Jayna, received a critique of a chapter she is entering into a contest sponsored by Harlequin. Now critiques can be hard to take, and this one went to a well-published author (many of her books have been published over a period of years by Harlequin). The author agreed to do a critique and returned the chapter to Jayna in a timely manner.

Jayna was so excited. When I saw the critique, I was excited for her. The author had only a few minor adjustments to suggest and had good things to say about the chapter overall. It gave Jayna a real boost to have such a successful author give her a positive review.

Then I went to the East Texas Writers Guild August meeting. During the meeting, I received a phone call from one of my best friends, Elaine. She's also my writing partner on some projects. Elaine had sent off one of her unpublished novels to an editor a couple of months ago. She called to tell me they want her novel and are sending her a contract. It just so happens that last Friday I sent off a recently revised novel that Elaine and I wrote together to the same company. The last time we did this with books to the same company, Elaine received a contract and we received a contract and had books published a couple of months apart.

Now I need to get to thinking about writing a guest blog for Delyn Fisher. My blog will be appearing on Delyn's blog (see the link to the left) on Thursday of this week. Delyn did an interview with me which will appear on her blog on Wednesday of this week. Hope to see you there.

It's been a good day.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Printing Problems

I'm back to my Grrrr stage. I printed off a copy of my novel to send to the editor. Got it done finally, after some initial problems. Made it to the Post Office and got it sent off. Fine. Done.

Now on to the next printing - a copy for myself so I can simply go to Kinko's and copy it for the next editor request. And then ... there it was, page 30 had a skip in it that was over three-fourths of the page long. It appeared to be a page break until I looked at page 31. Page 31 wasn't a new chapter just a new scene. What happened? Why did I have such a break?

Who knows. All I know is the copy went off to the editor with the error in it. And the copy I made for myself now has the pages mis-numbered because I found the error too late - most of the 367 pages had been printed. So I'll have to print off another copy at some point if I have to send out the MS to another editor because this one rejected First I'm Nobody.

Do the problems working with computers ever end? I think not. Just as you learn how to prevent or deal with a problem a new one crops up. So be prepared. Oh, if you've asked for God to give you patience. He will, but first you'll have to go through a bunch of situations where you'll need to use patience. So as the old adage says, be careful what you pray for (slight re-wording on my part - poetic license you know.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cats, Cats, Cats

I feel like I'm living in Rene Gutteridge's Skary Indiana - there are cats everywhere around my house. It started innocently enough. A cute pair of young cats showed up on our doorstep. My mother, being the kind-hearted soul that she is, asked us to put some food out for the pair. One was solid black and the other a black and white mix.

Now these are ferrel cats, wild and uncatchable. At first they ran for the woods as soon as the door was opened, but after a time they would sit in the yard and wait for food to be placed in their bowl. Then we began to notice that the black and white one was putting on weight. The solid black one didn't - uh, oh.

Yep, several weeks later a litter appeared. My sister caught them and brought them into the house after they had time to have been weaned. We managed to give them away. But we couldn't catch Little Mama to take her to the vet. Little Mama and Panther were still too wild. They had become accustomed to us enough to come to the door and beg, though, when their food bowl was empty.

Then along this journey an opossum showed up and decided she liked cat food as well. One night my mother went outside to sit for a while. The bag of cat food for Panther and Little Mama was sitting on the table next to her. It began to move. There wasn't any wind. It moved again, so my mother came back into the house. It turned out that Ms. Opossum had become a mother and one of the babies decided cat food was tasty as well.

The night Little Mama delivered her second litter involved the cat food bag as well - she used it as a nursery. She had six kittens that night. We found two in the yard and four in the food bag. She didn't like where we put them because too many humans came visiting. So she moved them into the woods beside our house. That same night Panther disappeared.

My sister brought in a stray dog. That dog got out and chased after Panther and Little Mama. We figured the dog got hold of Panther while Little Mama ran and hid. After Little Mama moved her litter we didn't see them for several weeks. We thought maybe something had gotten them as well. Wrong.

As they got to weaning stage, Little Mama brought them up to the house and introduced them to cat food. They're all growing and will soon be to reproducible stages of their own. Little Mama is expecting again, by the way. Now a yellow tabby, very large and mature comes to the feeding trough. A couple of weeks ago a big, gray tabby joined the ever-growing cat population.

Our indoor cat, Shrimp, who hated being outside and would only venture into the fresh air about four weeks during the spring at night when the weather was just right, has abandoned the house to join the cat crowd outside. We almost can't force her into the house. It's been a complete turnaround for her after sixteen years. Of course that makes my life simpler - I don't have to clean a cat box!

I don't know what animals to expect next, but I've decided that my mother, my sister and I have formed a new not-for-profit society. I've named it The Society for Feeding the Neighborhood Cats & Other Animals. Membership will only cost $20 per year. We are open for donations and would willingly accept them, if I could figure out how to become incorporated without having to fill out all the government paperwork. Although, it might be worth the hassle. I'll bet we would qualify for some dandy government grants.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Submitting Proposals

Grrrr! Sometimes computers are the pits! I know I'm not supposed to be using exclamation points - that's not the "acceptable" thing nowdays.

I have been trying to print a hard copy of a novel to send to an editor who wants to read the whole manuscript and wants it on paper.

It's not that I mind sending it to her that way, in fact, I prefer to read "stuff" on paper myself. I'm a visual learner, and it makes more sense that way. But when you send a proposal out you want it to be in the most current format with absolutely no errors. I thought I had this one ready to go, but when it started printing, right off the bat, I noticed that I need to delete the title page because my header appeared on it with the page numbering beginning with the title page.

Shucks, I thought, it'll just have to go that way because I don't want to waste paper and ink. The printer had already made it nearly through the prologue at that point. Then chapter one started to print and the chapter started at the top of the page instead of in the middle of the page! I had thought I'd fixed all that type of thing!

So, I cancelled the print job and went through my document one more time. I found an empty page at the end of chapter two that threw the whole page count off even more. I finished checking and everything looks right, now. I've deleted the title page and given it a file of its own, I've saved the document on my hard drive and on CD.

Now I'm going to try printing once more. This proposal had better be worth all the work I've put in on it this summer - a major rewrite and then another read through to catch mechanics problems.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Supporting Our Troops

"We support our troops. We support our troops."

That's what Oprah Winfrey opened the second portion of her show with this afternoon. It was a repeat of an earlier program, and I had seen it before, but it made an impression this afternoon. What a difference forty years makes.

When the United States sent troops to Viet Nam in the late '60's the cries were completely different. Troops leaving and returning were yelled at, had things thrown at them, and were considered war mongers. They were made to feel unwanted and uncared for by most Americans. Their families felt differently, of course, and a few of us honored their service in the interests of our freedom. But we were by far in the minority.

When 9/11 happened, here on American soil, well ... that was different. Oh, I'm not unhappy about the change and acceptance of the troops doing their jobs. Quite the opposite. I'm delighted. Our troops deserve the recognition and the cheers. But they always have. That's the point, and that's what saddens me. It's popular now; it's acceptable. But it's not always been that way.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Wyoming on vacation. One of the first stops on our trip was in Jackson. A group of entertainers lives there and runs a summer chuckwagon dinner show - the Bar J Wranglers. Wonderful family entertainment, and the steak dinner is fantastic. Even if you don't care too much for old style western singing, the comedy threaded through the show will hold you captive.

During my most recent visit to the Bar J, the group honored some young men and women in pre-enlistment training. Some of the members of the pre-military group would be leaving within days to start their careers in the service. When introduced, the future members of our armed forces were given a spontaneous standing ovation that lasted at least two minutes. A long time, if you think about it, for people with no special status. They weren't presidents, entertainers, royalty, or anyone else with a "name".

But, they are all special. They all have status. They are just anonymous to most of us. They are leaving to put their lives on the line for me, you, and all those of us who live in this country. God willing, they will each return home after deployment alive and whole. The reality of it is some of them may not come home alive or whole. We owe our thanks and our daily prayers to people such as these - now and forever. It is their willingness, to at least put their personal lives on hold, to defend our country that gives us the liberty to speak our minds in public and not be shot down for it.

It is my prayer that the current trend of acceptance of our military forces will continue for as long as the United States of America continues to exist. May God bless each of you who have, are, or will at a time in the future be one of my defenders. I thank you for all that you give.