Perseverance

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Quote for the Week

Walter Elliott said in The Spiritual Life: "Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another."

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes, perseverance is just doing what comes next.

Special Occasion Gifts

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There are special occasions in a person's life that call for special gifts. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and so many more opportunities to show your love for the people in your life. In fact, Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching. If you're looking for just the right gift for your Valentine, you can't go wrong with one of the Bulova chronograph watches .

These watches come in a variety of metals, watch faces, and bands, but they all are superb time pieces with stopwatch and timekeeping functions. You can get a Digital Chronograph or an Analog Chronograph if you like the more traditional style.

BlueDial.com

With Blue Dial, you have these assurances: free 2nd day shipping to the lower 48, free sizing, watches that are brand new, authentic and genuine. No replicas or imitations!

Contact them using their toll free phone number or by email. Purchase from their secure website online or by placing your order over the phone.

Takeaway Truth

Life is short. Never miss an opportunity to show your love.

Home and Exhausted

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Hello. I'm still alive. So is my Mom, I'm happy to report. I've spent the last few days living at the ICU in a Shreveport, Louisiana, hospital, along with my brothers and their families and assorted cousins.

My Mom knocked on Heaven's door, but they said: "Go away and come back later."

The doctors officially said she turned the corner, but she remains in ICU. My older brother, my cousins, and I will be alternating hospital duty until further notice. I'm just having to work mine around the medical appointments for my daughter. So today I'm scheduling who will be at the hospital when. Tomorrow, I pack. Monday, I drive 4 1/2 hours back to Shreveport for my turn.

I'll be taking my laptop with me since I discovered the ICU has free WiFi. I can work, email, etc. So feel free to comment or email.

Takeaway Truth

Life throws a mean curve ball sometimes.

(Cross posted on my other blog.)

Endure

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Quote for the Week

"He conquers who endures." So said Persius, as in Aulus Persius Flaccus of Volterra, a town in the Tuscany region of Italy. Persius, a Roman poet and satirist whose work is generally best remembered for its interpretation of Roman Stoicism.

Stoicism, a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno in the early 3rd century BC, was based on the belief that destructive emotions were the result of errors in judgment. Stoics thought that a wise person, a sage, was not subject to negative emotions and was therefore free of misfortune. If only.

Born Stoic

Personally, I think Persius may have developed a stoic wisdom at a young age as a result of losing his father when he was 6, and then his stepfather a few years later. By the age of 12, he'd been sent to Rome to study. Perhaps his written work and his fascination with Stoicism were a result of those early losses. After all, writers write what they know. One loses, and one either rises above the devastation or sinks beneath its weight.

"He conquers who endures."

This past week has been difficult. That's why both my blogs lie fallow. This is just the beginning of a medical odyssey that, more than likely, won't be completed until next year. However, we are in endurance mode.

My daughter, my husband, and I are trying to do. We're trying to endure my daughter's medical problems and complications and just hang on, giving time to heal and restore health. Of course, more surgery and expert doctors figure into the equation along with a huge quantity of God's grace.

Takeaway Truth

We can get bitter at what life throws our way, or we can get better at dealing with it. The choice is always ours.

Buying A New Car

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Quote for the Week

"No other man-made device since the shields and lances of the ancient knights fulfills a man's ego like an automobile." This quotation is attributed to Sir William.

My efforts to ascertain which Sir William were fruitless. However, what this unidentified Sir William said was astute and profound - and completely reflective of male human nature.

Men And Their Toys

I say this with great certainty. Men just adore cars, especially my man. I've been accompanying him to car dealerships several times during the past few months. We've looked at the current crop of new cars, SUVs, and trucks. My husband would buy one of each, but the reason I go with him is that I'm the brakes on his car lust.

One of his heartfelt desires is to have a 12 car garage that he could then fill with sweet rides. Never going to happen, but that doesn't stop him from wishing he had one. Or maybe an aircraft hanger because he could get more cars in it. So, his idea of fun is to drive whatever hot set of wheels premieres each year.

Each Year's Sweet Ride

I guess 2009 was the year of the Camaro. We looked over a dozen of them and drove a few this past week. V6 Rally Sport or V8 Super Sport, they're all hot, or cool, whichever adjective you prefer. We both loved the Cyber Gray, a kind of metallic gray with an iridescent blue/green fleck.

The Camaro is a car built for a single or a couple, not people with kids and things to haul. We already have a car in that category. Our T-Bird stays parked in the garage most of the time. I'm quite certain we don't need a Camaro parked next to it.

Reality Intrudes

In actuality, we needed something to replace our 11 year old 4-wheel drive Tahoe, Big Jack, that gets about 15 mpg or less. So, yesterday we took Big Jack to the GM dealership in North Houston, played Taps, and left old, dependable Big Jack there as we drove home in a new Cyber Gray vehicle.

Was it that Chevy Camaro I described?

No, it was the 2010 hot set of wheels, a GMC Terrain. Nice, comfortable vehicle with plenty of bells and whistles, including an iPod sync. Cool. Best of all, it's supposed to get 32 mpg on the highway.

My husband picked it out after two weeks of intensive Internet shopping a dozen dealerships. It has everything he wanted. Yet, I know there's a part of him that wishes that Camaro was parked out in the garage instead.

Takeaway Truth

I'll close these musings by stating the ultimate truth about buying a new car. Quoting Grey Livingston, another person to whom quotations are attributed on the web but who cannot be easily researched using Internet resources: "Driving a brand new car feels like driving around in an open billfold with the dollars flapping by your ears as they fly out the window."

Writers Insurance

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I've been writing long enough that I know some rather popular authors who have been sued over various issues.

In my rather uninformed legal opinion, most of the issues seemed to revolve around people who thought writers were rich, and some cold hard cash could be had by suing them.

Myth, Myth

First, let me dispel the myth that authors are rich. Very few are wealthy unless you're talking about the 10-20 names that hit the big lists all the time.

In every lawsuit I personally know about, the writer came out with their reputation untarnished, but with their bank accounts significantly lowered because of forking over hard-earned money to an attorney to defend them.

Axis Pro & WriteInsure

Last year, the Authors Guild entered into an arrangement with Axis Pro, the leading media liability insurance underwriter to offer Guild members affordable insurance for their published work.

Whether your writing is freelance, blogging, or book, you can get insurance under WriteInsure for claims of libel, invasion of privacy, copyright or trademark infringement, plagiarism, errors and omissions, etc.

Liability limits begin at 100K/each loss with a 300K limit. You can get higher limits if you need them.

WriteInsure will cover legal expenses for defense and any monetary damages if you lose. Of course, what you want is for legal defense expenses to be covered until the court dismisses the case with a motion for summary judgment.

Interested? Visit The Authors Guild to find out more. You can also see if you qualify for membership in the Guild if you're currently not a member. I highly endorse them.

Takeaway Truth

A professional writer needs a professional advocate, and the Authors Guild provides that.

Where's The Craft

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I received an email comment yesterday regarding a post I'd written a few months ago on my other blog about Demand Studios.

Subsequently, I've been engaged in a conversation with the sender about the state of writing today as it has been altered by the Internet. This subject is a potential minefield, littered with the corpses of well-meaning writers, aspiring writers, and never-will-be writers (no matter how many words are pounded from those keyboards).

The email sender is highly educated in the writing field and is considerably surprised and dismayed by the content mills and by those who supply the content and who say they can produce a couple of well-crafted articles in an hour or less. The question was posed by my correspondent: is it really possible to create quality, well thought content in that time? The conclusion this person had reached was: ". . . I just don't think so."

Other questions posed in the original email were: "When did writing become synonymous with volume? Where is the craft, tell me?"

Where's The Craft

That question, for some inexplicable reason, calls to mind the old "Where's The Beef" ad campaign from Wendy's many years ago. In the commercial, the old lady is looking inside all these burgers trying to find the beef, which always is minuscule. Maybe it made me think about that because I've seen SO much writing on the Internet. Where's the craft indeed? Excellent question.

How Many Blogs

In 2005, there were supposedly 70 million blogs. I don't know if anyone is still counting, but I do know you won't find quality, crafted writing on most of them. Then again, that's okay because the software that made blogging platforms accessible wasn't created for professional writers. It was created for anyone and everyone who had something to say and felt a need to say it - apparently to anyone who might cruise by their electronic home.

How Many Websites

Is the craft in any of the 108 million distinct websites listed in 2007? Now, I don't know if that number includes blog URLs. I'm guessing it does because there's really no difference between a blog and a website. Blogs are websites.

X Marks The Spot

Maybe we should have an X Marks The Spot Award to a website with good writing. Those sites do exist. I like to think all my sites fit this description. Do the content mills offer good writing? Some of the articles are good; some are hideous. It's a mixed bag. Good writing can be found on blogs or other websites. Usually, the writing is created by professional writers though there are some sites that may be written by "civilians" with a solid grasp of the language and grammar.

The commercial websites, if entertaining and educational, can usually be ascribed to a team of pro writers along with the website coders and designers. When they're mundane or, worse, boring, the content probably was written by the techs who coded and/or designed the site.

Different Standards

I have a set of cocktail napkins emblazoned with these words: "If at first you don't succeed, lower your standards." That's my mantra for analyzing websites. You can't judge them by the same criteria you judge a good book or an in-depth article. There are many websites written by those for whom English is not their first language. Does this mean the site is dreck?

Judge By What's Given

Many websites, though written in non-standard English, and rife with errors, sometimes offer content so good that it allows you to overlook the errors. It's kind of like a good book makes you suspend disbelief. Good web content makes you blind to the language and writing errors.

I find these blogs are usually technological in nature. Want a writing hack that allows you to get rid of those icons Microsoft makes standard on a desktop? I found the step by step instructions on a blog from someone in the Philippines. Excellent content but not excellently written in the English language.

I cut a writer lots of slack if he's writing in a language not his own. Heck, I have to admire anyone who can speak, much less write, in more than one language. I'm sure if I tried to write a blog in Tagalog, it would be riddled with errors.

Native English Speakers

Now, by the same token, if I come across a blog by someone who should know how to speak and write English, as we speak it here or in other English language countries, then I'm less generous. If you don't know to capitalize proper nouns, or you're too lazy to write in anything but all lower case or, God forbid, all upper case, you don't get a break from me or other workers in words. Why? Because we take the time to do it right, and we expect the same from others who call themselves writers. That's part of craftsmanship.

Edgar Allen Poe

Craftsmanship is not indicated by the volume of articles you can submit in a certain period of time. I tend to think that the number of articles you can submit to a content mill would be what Poe called: Potboilers, a form of writing which has a long and rich history among writers.

Perhaps because of my awareness for Poe's Potboilers, I don't condemn those who resort to that method of producing income. However, Poe's Potboilers were well-written, grammatically and narratively. If you write potboilers, then make sure you write them as well as your skills allow.

Takeaway Truth

Take what is good, and leave the rest behind.

Paradigm Shift Or Rift

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Ah, the first Monday in January when the holidays are over, hubby is back at work, and daughter is sleeping late before her first day back at school tomorrow. Ah, the silence, the peace, the solitude, and the joy of sitting in bed, warm and cozy but awake, and having a quiet hour to read and reflect.

I wish all of you could read the excellent essays I've just finished which were published in the Winter Edition of Authors Guild Bulletin. The first is by Roy Blount Jr., President of the Authors Guild, and the latter is The Internet vs. Books by Beau Friedlander, founder of Context Books who is currently Editor in Chief of AirAmerica.com, are the kind of writing that speaks to writers, for different reasons.

From the President

Blount's quarterly remarks were an amusing statement about the writer's condition: we'll never be rich but we're smart enough to make some bucks doing what we love. In his inimitable style, he espouses the joy of taking care of his money investments the old-fashioned way: living in his real estate and banking any excess bucks.

The Internet vs. Books

Friedlander's essay which originally was published in 2008 by the Los Angeles Times, mirrors my own thoughts about this subject. Yes, the Internet and search engines have made research much easier, but in doing so, people rely more and more on Google, et al, exclusively rather than doing independent research to verify or dispute what they find online.

Yes, it's great to easily find maps of migratory patterns of birds, but users should be suspect when a subject they research turn up the same blog entries as source material. Information is only as accurate as the person who inputs it into a blog or other application.

Yes, books can be published in less than two months from concept to publication using any of the instant publishing vehicles available, but does that mean the book is an accurate source of information or, in some cases, is the book even edited well and free of common grammatical errors?

I was forced to agree with every point Friedlander made as well as the counterpoints made by people he quoted as well as the popular opinion of steadfast printed material defenders.

Paradigm Shift or Rift

Sometimes, I do fear that our culture is collapsing. Everything we have is built on thousands of years of knowledge. Suddenly, we're in a world where young people don't know how to spell common names. My first name is usually written JONE any time I give it to a kid in a fast food establishment. Last week when this happened, and when, at the same time, the kid waiting on us was so confused by my giving her a $20.00 bill and a quarter for the $14.75 tab, I was convinced that our society was doomed.

Of course, once I'd eaten, my gloomy outlook vanished, but there's a lot of truth in the fear that our thousands of years of learning will vanish too in this paradigm shift. I've discovered it's easy to fascinate young people with my breadth of knowledge because they no longer are taught history, geography, and grammar as I was in school, and I don't mean in college.

Takeaway Truth

Like Friedlander, I want to believe that there can be a ceasefire with printed matter and the Internet symbiotically coexisting.

January

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Quote for the Week

The Lakota Sioux called January The Hardship Moon. This first month of the new year seems to bring out the gloom in people. A quick glance at poetry draws a bleak picture of this cold, winter month.

Shelley in Dirge for the Year, wrote: "January gray is here...."

Christina Rossetti penned in The Months: ""January cold and desolate...." She also wrote: "In the bleak midwinter / Frosty wind made moan / Earth stood hard as iron / Water like a stone:" Brrrr.

Sylvia Plath, no one's idea of an optimism buffet, wrote in Waking In Winter: "Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves."

We get it. We get it. January is bleak. However, I like the stance espoused by American cartoonist Bill Watterson, the author of popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.

He said: "I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood."

Takeaway Truth

If it's cold, and you're not at your optimistic best, then wallow a bit. Sometimes that just makes you feel better.

Who Reads Joan Reeves

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Like many writers, I have Google Alerts in place to monitor how my name and my writing gets bandied about the Internet world. I'm always pleased when I see comments regarding my writing.

Just yesterday I read an email alert about a thread on a Pakistani forum discussing novels where my first online novel Moonlight On Snow: A Love Story was recommended.

Isn't that nice? Sure it is, but what's really nice is knowing that a story pulled from my imagination about a brilliant woman botanist and her workaholic new boss, trapped together in a Montana snow storm, thrilled and entertained a reader in a country on the other side of the planet.

If my fans there are reading my blog, then you may be happy to know that my second online novel The Trouble With Love is also a free read.

While I'm at it, let me thank all of you who email me regarding these books published by Romantic4Ever.com. Keep reading, and keep telling your friends about this website that publishes my novels. Maybe there will be another book published after The Trouble With Love, Book 1 of the series Deep In The Heart Of Texas.

Takeaway Truth

Good stories know no boundaries. What appeals to an American in Montana or Texas may well appeal to a Pakistani or an Estonian reader as well.

Sharing The New Year

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Happy New Year!

I wish you all blessings of the New Year. This year I have only two goals: to be healthy and to be happy. With everything I do, I'm going to ask: Will this make me healthy? Will this make me happy?

Asking those two questions should take care of dieting, exercising, chasing success, and all the other myriad goals I usually write in detail.

Takeaway Truth

This year I'm going to follow Thoreau: "Simplify, simplify, simplify."