Tips on digital photography

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If you got a digital camera for Christmas and want some tips on making superb pictures, visit one of my favorite sites, Digital Traveler. Not only will you find some great photographs - check out those of France - but also you'll learn the elements of a good photograph.

Security system writers can afford

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Who creates these things that float around cyber space? Unfortunately, at what we writers earn, this is the only security system we can afford.

How to install a wireless security system:

Go to a second-hand store and buy a pair of men's used work boots, a really big pair. Put them outside your front door on top of a copy of Guns and Ammo magazine. Put a really big dog dish beside it. Leave a note on your front door that says: Bubba, Big Mike, and I have gone to get more ammunition - back in 30 minutes. Don't disturb the pit bulls. They've just been wormed, and they're a little edgy.

Unique jewelry from typewriter keys

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Got any money left? I wish I'd seen this before Christmas. I would have if I'd read my Writer's Digest online newsletter. What's Your Type creates jewelry from old manual typewriter keys. Too cute!

Stunning Christmas decorations

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Since this is floating around the Net, I decided to post it here. I received it as Christmas in Texas. Yep, it takes Paw and me a while to hoist the old VW up ever year but the decorations jest woulden be the same with out it.

Sling Words (laughing so hard I almost spilled my coffee) out.

Spying on Americans

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The controversy continues about whether the government has the need and/or the right to spy on Americans who may be involved in terrorist activities.

I'm sure they're waiting for my two cents so here it is: NSA guys, you can listen in or follow me or monitor my emails any time you want as far as I'm concerned. Yeah, yeah, I know it opens a can of worms, but if it keeps another 9/11 from happening then I'm okay with it--within reason.

Just don't tell Aunt Millie what I really thought about her fruitcake, and don't tell Joe and Molly what I said about their decision to move to Alaska. And don't reveal the contents of the email I sent my best writing friend about my thoughts about a certain editor who rejected my friend. While your at it, keep it under your hat about that stock that's such a good buy - we don't want everyone buying it or the price per share will skyrocket and we might not get filled. Oh, and if you divulge my real weight that I told my doctor last week then I definitely will change my position on this issue.

See, that's the problem with spying. Even if you have nothing to hide, intimate information about yourself and your activities can be used, misused, and misconstrued. How do we ascertain the gatherers and keepers of the information will use it solely for our country's protection? I'm all for protecting my country and my fellow citizens, but there must be safeguards somewhere. Our government was formed as a system of checks and balances. Yes, times are far different now than they were a couple of centuries ago, but there still must be watchdogs to protect our freedom.

So, Mr. Government and Ms. Watchdog, if you're reading this, just keep quiet about Aunt Millie's fruitcake.

Looking for a car, see my brother

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Okay, I've just got to brag a bit. My younger brother Johnny Ainsworth finally got his car sales business in the Dallas/Fort Worth area up and running. My dh and I visited over the weekend, and I have to admit I'm really impressed and very proud of him.

He's trying to incorporate his values, his integrity, in the operation of a business usually not known for those qualities--selling used vehicles. He wants to make the buyer a customer for life, someone who will return again and again.

He's been guided through life by a moral compass that makes him go the extra mile to help people and to treat them as he would wish to be treated. BesTex Motorplex, his car dealership in Keller, is his attempt to run a business the same way. Visit the web site, you'll be impressed. If you're in the market for a car, stop by his dealership, and you'll be even more impressed. He'll treat you with respect and give you a good deal. Oh, and he's got motorcycles, scooters, and all-terrain vehicles too.

Bestex Motorplex
9705 Denton Highway
Keller, TX 76248
817-562-4888

New market for writers of paranormal romance

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Sadly, another market for novels is closing. Harlequin has announced the Signature imprint which debuted in January of this year and offered special projects, anthologies, continuities and reprints of popular authors' works will end June 2006. This program mostly featured their established authors, but it was unique for the bonus features offered with the books so readers will miss it.

However, just as the cliche goes about doors closing but windows opening, the huge publisher also announced they're starting a dark paranormal romance line with Executive Editor Leslie Wainger at the helm. She wants all kinds of dark paranormal, not just vampires and werewolves.

This sounds like a great opportunity for those who love alternative reality stories so, writers, start your engines, uh, that is, turn on the PCs and pound those keyboards.

By the way, I received this information from Cindi Myers who writes a great marketing newsletter. If you'd like to subscribe, just send a blank email to

cynthiasterling-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

and she'll add your name to her list. It's a great resource for those interested in writing romance fiction.

Christmas and writing

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Once upon a time, I tried to maintain a writing schedule during December. In fact, I pretty much drove myself crazy trying to keep up the page production and do all the other Christmas things that wives and moms do which pretty much means I did it all.

I still do it all, but I've changed my expectations of what "it" means and in what time frame "it" gets done. I gave myself permission to not be perfect. Yes, I write less from Thanksgiving to New Year's, but I enjoy life more.

This reminds me of some cocktail napkins I bought a few years ago. They were emblazoned with this motto: If at first you don't succeed, lower your expectations.

I couldn't succeed at being Super Mom - mild-mannered suburban wife and mom by day, successful author by night. No one can. So don't make the mistake of looking at some successful woman author and marveling at how she does it all. She doesn't. You're just seeing the public face, not the frazzled behind the scenes struggle to find a clean pair of socks for her son while trying to remember whether she "told" the reader why her hero hates his father, while her daughter is telling her she volunteered old Super Mom to bake two dozen cupcakes for the class Christmas party.

No woman who is married and has kids and succeeds at writing should be called Super Mom.

Super Juggler is much more accurate.

Decorating for Christmas

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I've been decking the halls with a couple of my friends pictured here. They don't talk much, but they always have a smile on their faces.

Sling Words out - to Wally World to replenish the cupboards and load up on Christmas chocolates. Umm ummm good.

Things I don't understand

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The list of things I don't understand grows daily. Every morning when I make the mistake of reading my local newspaper The Houston Chronicle, I find myself echoing that great philosopher Cher who said: "Nothing surprises me any more, and everything surprises me." If you think about it, that statement really makes sense.

Social Security cards are available for $30.00 at a flea market on X Street
(name changed to prevent everyone who already doesn't know about this from rushing over there and buying one). If this is common knowledge, why hasn't that guy been shut down?

Dr. Phil is lambasted for asking what was in it for him when he was asked to speak at the annual management meetings for Sam's Club and WalMart. Why are people upset to learn he is a businessman first and foremost? It seems his spate of bestselling books, television shows, and such would have made that apparent.

Houston's smog solution might be to plant more trees.
Duh. One of the first things I learned in elementary science classes was that trees store carbon dioxide and release oxygen in their transpiration process.

Trouble came fast for lottery winners.
A man and his estranged second wife won $34 million in the lottery and proceeded to "move on up" from trailer parks to individual mansions. Apparently, their drinking and drugging escalated because what they could afford increased from weekly paychecks to nearly unlimited funds. He died of alcoholism, and she died apparently of a drug overdose.

Patients are upset at doctor who reveals ingredients in $285.00 lice treatment is Cetaphil.
Costs about nine bucks at the store. That's it. Spread it through the hair, use a hair dryer to dry it, comb it out. Another doctor who's a businessman who knows how to make a buck, huh?

Sling Words out.

Christmas with the chipmunks

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a geeky kid with my nose always stuck in a book. I had no clue about what was popular or in and had yet to reach the maniacal teenage phase of yearning for popularity. In other words, life was pleasant with me lost in the world of words. Then Christmas came, and I awoke to find a record player under the Christmas tree along with a half dozen 45s.

Though I wasn't exactly tuned in to pop culture via radio and television, the only links to a world outside my small town, I knew the records appealed more to my parents' generation than mine. With one exception. A little gem of a song sung by Alvin and his chipmunk buddies Simon and Theodore with some ineffectual blustering by an adult named David Seville according to the record label.

Wow. I loved that song from the minute the round black vinyl made its first few revolutions on the turntable. I literally wore the record out. Thinking back on the months that followed Christmas and realizing how many times I must have played The Chipmunk Song, I now see how extremely tolerant my parents, especially my mother, were. They never yelled, "Cut that damned thing off." (I confess, I wasn't as tolerant with some of my daughter's alternative or rap or hip hop.) Nor did they try to sneak it off the turntable and consign it to the trash.

Alvin and The Chipmunks was produced by Liberty Records and first appeared in 1958. The whole thing was created by Ross Bagdasarian aka David Seville. He was a pioneer with the multi-speed record player and became a millionaire by fiddling with those speeds. You may have heard of his first hit, a little ditty called Witch Doctor which sold over a million copies.

A million copies might sound like a huge hit, but it pales in comparison to The Chipmunk Song, actually titled Christmas, Don't Be Late. He wanted to use a gimmick to represent animal voices, and his children suggested chipmunks. In the end, Bagdasarian did all four voices including the David Seville character. He named his chipmunks after Liberty Records executives. Si Waronker became Simon, the good chipmunk; Ted Keep was Theodore who was kind of silly, and Al Bennett was the memorable Alvin.

You can get a copy of the original Chipmunk Song as well as videos of the subsequent television show or books, but the song remains the best of the lot.

Flash forward many years. Yesterday, my daughter gave dh and me an early Christmas gift - two CDs containing a Christmas mix she burned for us. Track 1 of the first CD is, you guessed it, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

It's really silly to cry over a dumb little song, isn't it?