Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tuesday Chatter-What's in a Name?

I'll be taking the rest of this week and most of next off, so my grand plan to post to my blogs at least twice a week is already stumbling. But I'll pick up it again. This Tuesday Chatter is a rumination on names. My own journey to the proper name for my writing endeavors is ongoing. Currently, I'm searching for just the right name for the third in my Cameron Locke, PI series. The search for names for the first two pales in comparison to this one. But I'm not ready to publish it quite yet, so I still have a little time.
 What's In a Name?

Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
What shall we name the baby? Or in the case of a writer, what shall I name this essay, story, poem, novel? Sometimes we start with a name. Myself, not usually. Almost always the title grows out of the piece of writing.
Most of the stories and books, finished and partials, that are on my computer right now have names. But I'm thinking of putting a group of these Life Slices columns into book form. What to call it? Of course, Life Slices will be part of it, but I need a sub-title. Perhaps Life Slices: Ramblings of a Southern Writer. Nah, don't want it that long. Life Slices: Through Thick and Thin. Maybe. Or not. And it can't be too personal as many deal with other subjects than my own life though most impinge in some form. Comments or suggestions welcome.
The two novels I've finished have gone through numerous title changes. When I find a title I think fits, I know it. But getting there is often a lengthy process. I'll have sheets of paper with scribbled titles all around my workplace. Scraps of files on my computer hard drive with possible names,. first one moving to the top as first choice then another.
When my daughter was born a name was already decided on, if it was a girl. Can't remember if we had chosen a boy name. I suppose it was a given he would have been named for his father. That was before ultra sound pictures informed prospective parents of the gender of their baby almost before they knew a child was in their future. It was also the time when mothers were routinely knocked out with drugs before the birth. So as I was waking up in the recovery room a nurse asked me what we would name our daughter. I reeled off a name we had never even discussed, knowing as I did that it was not correct! Reason enough to avoid being drugged when having a baby!
Since I've hardly begun choosing the columns to include, I have time to choose just the right title. I hope.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday Ramble - Free Stuff

The telephone rang before I was ready to get up this morning. Unknown caller. I rolled over and in a few minutes it rang again. Another unknown caller. I didn't answer either one, but I did get up. I don't answer calls from numbers I don't know. Sure, I might miss out on something good, but at least I've saved some aggravation. This may partly explain the popularity of texting. Even telemarkets have learned that the person who owns my number is just not answering. I know this because yesterday I was engrossed in working on a webpage and accidentally answered a call on my landline. It's a corded phone so I don't have to press a button. The guy must have been one who'd been calling, because the first thing he said was, "You're a hard person to get hold of." I laughed, thinking it must be someone I knew, tho I didn't recognize the voice. But no, he was a caller for a fundraiser.
When I do by chance answer a telemarker, I try to be nice. Life is too short to be gratuitously unkind. And the Good Book does say "Be kind to strangers, they could be angels unaware." Why not on the phone, too? This tidbit neatly segues into my ramble into the past on this Friday, a column I wrote about four years ago. Understand this was a hypothetical situation!

Completely (Risk) Free 
Riiiight! How many times are we taken in by that phrase? I know I have been too many times to count. And its cousin, ‘If dissatisfied, cancel anytime.’ Uh huh. Just try calling the number you’re supposed to call to cancel your Clutter-Free Living subscription after six unread issues clutter your coffee table. If you persevere through half a dozen pass-the-buck call transfers, or manage not to be disconnected, you might get to talk to a live person. You very calmly explain that you wish to cancel your subscription and receive a refund on unused issues. The person oh-so-sweetly wants you to tell them why you could possibly be dissatisfied with such a stellar periodical. When you remind them you were told you could cancel for any or no reason, you get more circular talk. And to please hold while the representative confers with the ‘circulation manager.’ 
‘Circulation manager’ comes on the line to persuade you how much you need the magazine. You yell and scream and finally are told that yes, of course, your subscription will be cancelled. Relieved, gullible you hang up. Only to have to go through the same thing for the next two months when the magazines keep piling up. By the time the next-to-last issue is due to ship, your subscription might be cancelled. Three months pass and eventually a check for five dollars arrives in your mailbox.
Once upon a time we only got into these predicaments if we unwisely allowed a door-to-door salesman – or an earnest student ‘working his or her way through college’ - inside our front door. Now telephone solicitors calling from huge boiler room operations, and online offers too good to pass up, lie in wait for us multiple times daily. Online websites which charge for information are masters of this sleight-of-hand scam. Sign up and browse for free. Only once an account is created a credit card number is required before any useful information can be accessed. Humans are so constructed that once they’ve invested time in a project, they are more willing to invest money. Thereby are cyber millionaires created, from ‘free’ stuff. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tuesday Chatter-Notions

Long ago, maybe twenty-five years, maybe even thirty-five years ago, the writing bug bit me. Probably around February's Valentine Day, a print magazine, I think it was Redbook, ran a love story contest. I called mine Romantic Notions and with high hopes mailed it in. I don't remember what the prize was, maybe publication, maybe a few dollars and as I recall there was no entry fee. I do remember my struggle to type a clean copy with a carbon copy for myself. I told you it was a long time ago!
Since it was my first or second effort to write a story, predictably I didn't win. Through the years I hung on to that story, the premise always appealed to me. I kept writing others and finally one, not a romance, was printed in a magazine. Other things like continuing to work a job to make a living, different life events, caused writing to be a kind of spasmodic affair.
Then the modern marvel of personal computers burst on the scene. No more struggle with sheets of paper and carbons that smeared. Clean, relatively speaking, since in the beginning it was ink jet printers which can smear, printed matter! But who can really fathom the wide-reaching effect of the mushroom growth of the internet. Online magazine, ezines, sprang up. And several accepted some of my stories!
I kept copies of all the stories I wrote on five and a half inch floppy disks, then the smaller three inch ones. And occasionally tinkered with that first romance story. I also kept submitting stuff to agents and publishers, but only a couple of stories made it into print. But again, through the marvel called 'the internet,' I was eventually able to publish real books! With my name on them! And finally traditional independent publishers accepted some of them, too.
Fast forward to this year. I'm about to release the book that has germinated for all these years from that first love story. It's still a love story, but also became what is now my favorite genre, mystery, and named Sweetwater Deception.

Monday, July 16, 2018

New Design

Thought I'd put time to some use while waiting for approvals on new book and new editions of two earlier books. In between making corrections! Both blogs, this one and Post Oak Chronicles, had become stale, not just in content but layout also. Even I was getting tired of it! I'd just not bestirred myself to do anything about it. Then about a month ago maybe, I suddenly became eager to get back to work on the books and other writing related activities.

Funny how that coincides with canceling my Facebook page! FB is such a time-consuming activity. Any of my own generation will know what I mean when I say it is sort of reminiscent of that iconic description of television, lo, many years ago, 'a vast wasteland.' I doubt Mr. Z would appreciate the comparison. And not altogether true. FB did and does provide a means of keeping in touch with far-flung family members. The trouble comes when we try to keep abreast of everything else in the whole, wide world, interesting though it might be.

I suppose I should get back to some book editing. Before the siren of the wasteland calls me back to one of the better examples of the period, a classic Western series on an air channel. Yep, I cut the cord to cable and subscription tv some time ago. I finally wised up to the fact the time I have left on this 'third rock from the sun' is too valuable to just vegetate on the couch.