Self-editing mambo

I like to dance so I label some aspects of writing as if they were dances. Silly, but it brings a certain humor to often arduous tasks. Right now, I'm doing the self-editing mambo which means I'm reading the first draft of the book I've been working on. I don't know if enough time has passed yet to allow me to see the book with all its boo boos. I will probably read it then put it to rest again while I work on something else.

If you're just beginning as a writer, you may not know what I'm talking about. Allow me to explain because self-editing isn't something that is often presented by published authors. I’ve heard many speeches about characterization, plotting, scene and sequel, and all the other elements of dramatic structure, but only a couple come to mind about self-editing. The first was given at a conference by Joe Blades, then an “ordinary” editor at Ballantine who became a “power” and has since retired I believe. The other was by my friend, popular romance author Barbara Dawson Smith.

These two workshops singularly helped me hone my ability to spot common errors such as misspelled words, wrongly-used words, and other frequent typos, as well as inconsistencies, awkward phrasing, stilted dialog, misplaced modifiers, and so on - in my own writing. Spotting these problems in other writers’ work is easy. Seeing them in your own, well, to illustrate my answer - that’s a hoarse of a diffrent choler.

Why don't I see that I wrote: hoarse instead of horse, misspelled different, and wrote choler instead of color? Why do sentences like this appear in manuscripts: John and Mary, using there whipps, raced toward each othr;, jumping on hirdles and weeping stoned fences. A gremlin sneaks into your office at night and edits your file then prints another copy and destroys your perfect one! Sorry. I wish I could say the gremlin theory is correct, but....

In the white heat of creativity, all we are concerned with is putting words on paper as fast as our flying fingers allow us. Because we know what the correct words are supposed to be, we are blind to anything that doesn't match the finished script in our brains. Then, we go back and revise. Then we polish. Still, we overlook typos and other errors because our brain knows what is supposed to be on the page and that’s all it sees - not what’s actually there.

Remember in Jurassic Park where the computer is programmed to verify that (I forget the actual number, let's say 100 animals) all the animals are in the park? Well, when the animals start reproducing, the computer does not register that there are more animals. It has been told to verify that 100 are there so that is what it does even though there are now 120.

Our brains are like that. Our mental computer knows our beautiful, moving story in all its glory with reams of conflict, unforgettable characters, scintillating dialogue. When we read our copy, our brain verifies that the printed page matches what's in our head even when it doesn’t!

Of course, you can show what you wrote to a writing friend who will immediately circle, in red, all the errors and then proceed to bleed all over your deathless prose, writing such phrases as: "You misspelled forty-seven words, including your own name; you have dangling participles, misplaced metaphors, and are totally lacking in scene logic. And you don’t even want to know what I think about your heroine who starts out brunette and ends up a blonde without the benefit Clairol®.”

So what’s the answer? You can’t depend upon the kindnesses of friends all the time. You must develop the ability to see your own mistakes. You do this by putting time distance between you and your finished copy. A week after writing a scene, you can read it and easily see you wrote about stoned fences (were they on heroin or crack?) rather than fences made of stone.

Always allow yourself time to rest your manuscript after you complete it. You’ll be amazed how the mistakes leap from the page. Yes, you're impatient to get it on some agent or editor's desk, but, trust me on this, you'll just be shooting yourself in the foot if you mail it before its time.

Many years ago there was a commercial for wine with the tag line: "We'll sell no wine before its time."

As a writer, a similar policy is good: We'll submit no manuscript before its time."

Rejection reveals strength

A friend of mine has been collecting rejections for quite a while now. I greatly admire her perseverance. I believe the general population could learn a lot from writers about the art of persistence which helps in working toward any goal.

Here are a few of my favorite quotations about rejection. At the least, they'll put a smile on your face. At most, they may serve as an affirmation to keep you moving toward your goal.

"Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself!" Katherine Mansfield

"Manuscript - something submitted in haste and returned at leisure." Oliver Herford

"Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good." Samuel Johnson

"It takes the publishing industry so long to produce books - it's no wonder so many are posthumous." Teresa Skelton

"An editor is a person who knows precisely what he wants but isn't quite sure." Walter Davenport

"Writers must not be tyrannized by their esteem for publishers or literary agents that they assume a rejection of their work is an irrevocable, dooming judgment." Leonard Bishop

"I was turned down more often than the sheets of a cheap motel." George Higgins, commenting on the first 14 books he had written which he couldn't get published.

A final couple from Dear Old Anonymous: "The most unfortunate thing that happens to a person who fears failure is that he limits himself by becoming afraid to try anything new."

"Patience is the writer's ultimate virtue. Checks are always a month late, contracts take forever, and overnight success takes at least ten years."

Here's wishing you overnight success that doesn't take ten years!

Trivial Thursday - 204 years ago

On this day, 204 years ago something of great importance to Americans occurred. I'll give you a hint. It involved reading materials. Give up?

In 1802, Congress passed an act calling for a library to be established within the U.S. Capitol. The Library of Congress is our library, the oldest federal cultural institution in our nation, and it serves as the research arm of Congress.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 29 million books and other printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, and 58 million manuscripts.

The current Librarian of Congress is Dr. James Billington. He says the Library's mission is: "to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations." He is charged with the task of setting policy and directing and supporting programs and activities to accomplish this mission.

Houston soccer fans, we have a name

Today Sling Words isn't slinging words about the art, craft, or business of writing. Today, we're singing: "O-layyyyy, o-lay, o-lay, o-lay. O-layyyyy, o-lay." I think that's a reasonable facsimile of the cheer song heard at soccer games. (Fortunately for you, dear readers, I don't have an audio file of my singing it.)

Houston 1836. Huh? Hey, that's our professional soccer team.

At first hearing Houston 1836, most people will probably scratch their heads and say, "What a dumb name." Hopefully, after reading the reason behind the name, they'll have the same reaction I did and nod admiringly.

The people who are bringing professional soccer to Houston wanted a European sounding name. You know, like Germany's Hanover 96 which is named for 1896, the inaugural year for that soccer team. Same thinking I suppose undertaken by American car manufacturers who are changing from a model "name" to a number, emulating, of course, Mercedes, BMW, etc.

So with a naming style in mind, the powers that (PTB)be had to pick a year. What better year than 1836 when Houston was founded by the Allen brothers on the banks of Buffalo Bayou. This was also the same year Texans declared independence from Mexico, died at the Alamo, and later took vengeance at the Battle of San Jacinto where they soundly defeated Santa Anna's army and became an independent nation.

Welcome, Houston 1836, do us proud.

Life: One Damn Thing

This bit of wisdom from Edna St. Vincent Millay illustrates my last few months.

It is not true that life is one damn thing after another - it is the same damn thing over and over.

First sentences, & other anxieties

What makes a book capture a reader?

If you're a writer, you've heard the answer a million times from nearly as many professionals in the publishing industry. An intoxicating first sentence, first paragraph, first page - followed by equally addicting pages two through four hundred. Oh, and a compelling cover, back cover blurb, author quotes, etc. - all things most authors have little control over. What writers can control though are their words.

Since I'm getting ready to start the submission process in hopes of finding the right agent for me (I've had two. Don't ask.), I'm questioning everything about my story. I think I've got the perfect opening sentence for the story and the character, but I can't help but compare my opening to some of my favorites.

To me, these sentences intrigued me and piqued my curiosity when I first read them. I remember them because they sing. They have a sense of music and rhythm. If reading were the new song debut on the old American Bandstand, I'd have to give them a 10 - good melody, easy to dance to. I think they evoke an emotional response in the reader.

"Last night I dreamt I went to Mandeley again." (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York." (The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath)

"I never knew her in life." (The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy)

"Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow." (Carrie by Stephen King)

"Death drove a green Lexus." (Dean Koontz)

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." (A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens)

This last one is one of mine, a novella I wrote for AMI when they started a Romance Library publishing program. "Haley Gant wished she could celebrate her thirtieth birthday the way her sister had planned it - with friends, a dozen sexy male strippers and enough champagne to float a boat, an aircraft carrier if Courtney’s usual parties were any indication." (Montana By Moonlight by Joan Reeves)

The best thing about reading someone else's sparkling prose is that you can improve your own skills. The worst thing is that you despair of ever being as good.

But you have to keep trying.

What it takes to get published

At the beginning of the year, a lot of authors blogged about what you have to do to get published. Joe Konrath wrote an excellent Mantra For Writers that should be read by all who strive to build a writing career.

So here's my take on what writers must do.

You must write - not talk about it, think about it, dream about it. Do it.

You must write consistently - not when The Muse inspires you, not when your house is clean, not when everything in Life is running smoothly. Just do it regardless of what is going on around you.

You must strive to improve - practice indeed makes perfect, or at least better.

You must put your work out there in the marketplace - nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You must persist when rejected - because you will be rejected. Everyone is.

You must believe in yourself - even when no one else does - especially when no one else does.

You must remember why you began writing in the first place - because you love putting words together.

You must accept that you may never get that lucky break - because this is a business where luck plays a part. Your path to success may be the long road of hard work and persistence, not the short cut paved with luck. You write anyway.

Do you see the commonality in my little essay? Action. Doing it. It's not enough to have a goal. You have to put action with the goal on a regular basis if you're to have a chance at the brass ring.

You write because it is what you do. You write because you are a story teller, an ancient and honored profession. You write because translating the vision inside your head into words on paper is of paramouont importance to you. God knows why, and sometimes He is the only one who knows. But you do it anyway.

Writing and the left brain

The devil is in the details, and it lives in the left brain of writers.

Many aspiring writers agonize over what I call Left Brain Worries. You know the Left Brain. That nit-picky voice inside us that scolds us and often keeps the Right Brain, the creative lobe, from, well, creating.

One of the primary Left Brain Worries for those who want to write but can't seem to start is not knowing how long their novel, novella, or short story should be. So, for those who can't seem to start because you don't know how far you need to go, here are my answers.

Q: How long is a page of writing?

A: One manuscript page is considered to be 250 words:

1.when margins are at least one inch top, bottom, left, and right

2.when the right margin is ragged. Never use Right or Full Justify.

3.when a 12 point fixed font such as Courier New is used. This font looks like
the Pica type formerly produced by typewriters. If Courier New looks too faint
then go to the Hewlett Packard web site for a free download of Dark Courier.

4.when there are at least 25 lines of type on the page with about 10 words/line.

Q: How long is a short short story?

A: 500-2,000 words with the formatting set up as described above but with the word count achieved by actually counting each word. By the way, the article adjective A counts as a word.

Q: How long is a short story?

A: 2,500-5,000 words with standard manuscript format but again with words actually counted as in the short short.

Q: How long is a novella?

A: 7,000-15,000 words with standard manuscript format but word count now is usually computed by multiplying the number of pages by 250. Partial pages count as a full 250.

Q: How long is a novel?

A: Word count for novels by traditional publishers (electronic publishers usually use a computer count) is computed by multiplying the number of pages by 250. Therefore, a single title romance novel would be approximately 100,000 words or 400 manuscript pages. Category publishers like Silhouette and Harlequin have stringent word length requirements for their different lines. Submitted manuscripts should be very close to that stated in the respective guidelines. These guidelines can be found at the Harlequin/Silhouette website.

A caveat: How long any literary work really is depends upon how many words or pages it takes to tell the story. Get the story written then worry about the word count in the revision process. The main thing is: FIRST GET THE STORY TOLD.

Sling Words out. Need to get some of my story told today by meeting my page quota. I'm a bit behind due to my annual bout of bronchitis.

Too fond of books

Sometimes, I think my DH believes Louisa May Alcott was talking about me when she said: “She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” Don't bother pointing out that Louisa May lived in a different era. You wouldn't change my husband's mind at all.

Books - hardback, paperback, even a few leather-bound - overflow shelves in nearly every room of my house. Indeed, one wall of my office--a room I lovingly refer to as The Library - is floor to ceiling books. I can't think of a better place in which to work than my library.

If you are a reader or a writer, books are a part of your home or should be, though I have known one man who had aspirations of being a published author who freely admitted that he hated to read. I still don't understand that.

Books, books everywhere yet I wonder how many of us know the proper way to care for these treasures. So here's a few tips on how to care for books.

1. Prevent warping by storing books upright. It's best to completely fill the book shelf. If you don't have enough books to do this, be sure to use strong bookends.

2. Insects, heat, and humidity are a book's worst enemies. Keep food and beverages away from books. Insects such as cockroaches, silverfish, and carpet beetle larvae, better known as the bookworm (yes, there really is a bookworm), are attracted to the smallest residues of nutrients. So keep books clean, cool, dry, and nutrient-free.

3. Use bookmarks to hold your place in a book. Don't “dog ear” the page or lay the book down, open-faced. This damages the spine of the book.

4. Books aren't double-jointed. Never force one open past its own natural angle.

5. The purpose of the dust jacket, the paper cover that comes on hardbacks, is to keep the book from becoming soiled and to protect it from wear and tear. So use it.

According to publishers' statistics, more books than ever are being sold. The number of hardcover books published and sold each year has risen dramatically. Our personal book collections are more valuable than we realize. In fact, if you add up the amount you have invested in your personal library, you might be stunned by the tally.

The staff here at Sling Words is guilty of all of the bad habits the above rules address. This is a new year so the new office policy dictates better care of our printed assets. Perhaps you will resolve to form better habits as well and teach them to your kids.

Not so long ago, in a galaxy not so far away...

... a beautiful baby girl was born. All parents think their child is special, and I'm no exception. Today, I'm bragging about our daughter.

The picture here is one of my favorites because it shows her zest for life with her joyful smile. When she smiles, her lovely face lights up. The phrase infectious laughter had to have been created to describe the sound of hers. When she laughs, you can't help but laugh with her.

She's been beautiful from the moment she was born and has grown more beautiful with each year. More importantly, her personality has developed apace. If beauty is within, then that which she possesses matches the exterior. Add to that, a creative, brilliant brain, and she's what all parents want their daughters to be.

Happy birthday, sweetie!

Jack Bauer lives

I find most of television and movies pure crapola, but there are shows that are pure platinum in quality - usually for the same reasons which are quality writing and superb acting.

I missed the Golden Globes last night because there's no way I would have watched anything other than 24. If a writer wants to know how to create conflict and tighten the tension, minute by minute, then tune in to the exploits of Jack Bauer. My whole family is hooked on this action adventure, but not just because it's non-stop action. It's the only show I know that creates characters with a minimum of words, using facial expression and body language to indicate relationships between people and showing that "actions speak louder than words."

Television is a visual medium. We're told this often yet rarely does a show really use the visual element. Rather, most of television (and movies) is just talking heads. 24 is the exception. I did see on entertainment news this morning that Keifer Sutherland did not win the Golden Globe for his acting in last year's Day 4. Unbelievable. His was not just a bang, bang, shoot 'em dead performance. In so many scenes, the play of emotion on his face, as he did what he knew was right rather than what was easy and the resulting aftermath with which he had to live, was worthy of the highest awards.

24 will never be one of those "take it or leave it" shows. It will probably never win many awards, but its fan base will continue to grow. We here at Sling Words thank you, actors, writers, directors, and all the people behind the cameras who make me wait anxiously for next week's episode. Day 5? You've done it again.

Trivial Thursday

I’m a trivia collector and loved the odd fact long before there was a game for the pursuit of the esoteric tidbit of knowledge. Since I'm an author, I, of course, adore amusing items about authors, writing, and books. Of course, this means I occasionally (hopefully, every January) must clean out the clutter. This process takes longer than it should because I stop to read instead of tossing in the circular file.

Here are a few goodies I found today.

In the last seven years of his life, Thomas Hardy took no baths. I imagine everyone hoped he'd stay FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Jonathan Swift went a full year without speaking to anyone.

Lord Byron set his hair in curlers at night. (True, he probably wasn't the only man of his day to do so, but the mental picture is still funny.)

Charles Dickens detested being called Grandpa.

Frank is the real first name of Mickey Spillane.

L. M. Olenhewitz was Jules Verne.

Some authors have SUCH admiration for their peers that they simply can't repress it but must express it publicly. And often. Of course, if you've been online longer than a nano second, you're accustomed to name-calling far worse than these comments.

Harold Robbins on Ernest Hemingway: “Hemingway is a jerk.”

Tolstoy on Nietzsche: “Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal.”

Truman Capote had something to say about everyone it seems. He was infamous and prolific in his biting remarks so it's kind of pointless to single out any individual for his caustic comments.

Let’s finish up with the very modest Kurt Vonnegut who said about himself: “I’d rather have written Cheers than anything I’ve written.”

Ah, Kurt, the world would have been poorer if that had happened though the thought of you bringing your own inimitable prose to Cheers does make me sigh.

Lies and fakes and scams - oh, my!

I read an article the other day that touted mid-life and beyond as The Age of Mastery. That may well be, but after reading about the latest scams, one right after the other, I'm beginning to think we're all living in The Age of Scammery.

Just yesterday over on The Smoking Gun I read about James Frey and his book, A Million Little Pieces which was heavily promoted on Oprah last year and currently in a rerun of the episode. Apparently, research has been done, and the end result suggests that A Million Little Pieces should add Of Fiction to its title.

Geez! If they gave an award for scam, fraud, and flim-flam, the nominee list would be exhaustive and cover every strata of life from the bozo who created the Nigerian letter fraud twenty-five years ago to James Frey today. Literary fraud is nothing new. The one that comes to my mind immediately is the Howard Hughes - Clifford Irving scam back in the seventies.

Want a sampling? You've got Carty, the former airline muckety-muck who paid huge bonuses to management at the same time he negotiated with the unions to reduce pay and benefits for workers because the airline could not afford it. You've got the whole Enron rogues gallery along with a half dozen other corporate bozos of the last few years; Martha Stewart who acted on insider information and then lied under oath; priests; Scientologists in France charged with fraud; pharmaceutical companies that covered up negative medical trials information; tobacco companies that hid research; scientists who faked data; schools that faked test results, etc. There's even a whole group of people who swear the moon landing was faked, but that's a blog for another day.

The list is endless which is probably why presenting a trophy for the biggest, fattest liar is an impossible task. Still, if an award is ever created, I think all nominees should gather in a central location, walk the red carpet in their expensive suits and evening gowns - while all of those who've suffered because of their fakery lob rotten tomatoes at them.

Unless these people would like to give up their millions, personally making restitution to everyone who lost income, sleep, and optimism because of them.

They'd still get bombarded by tomatoes, just not rotten ones.

Professionalism: 10 basics for writers

A beginning writer asked me what professionalism means. After a bit of thought, I came up with this list of 10 basics, not necessarily in any particular order.

1. Do learn to write professional, concise, and interesting query letters as first contact with an unknown editor or agent.

2. Do refrain from emailing or calling an editor or agent unless (a) personally invited to do so or (b) you read in a current market directory that phone calls and/or emails are welcomed.

3. Do address a query letter to a specific person with the correct title next to their name. Employees of publishing houses work hard to earn their titles. Use them. Never ever send a letter to Dear Editor. If you don't know the name of an editor, call the publishing house and ask the receptionist for the name and title of a person who handles the specific kind of book you are writing.

4. Do refrain from taking out your hurt feelings because of rejections on editors and agents. Always be courteous in any dealings with editors and agents. Professionals in publishing move around a lot. The editor at XYZ Publishers (whom you called a sub-literate bozo on the phone yesterday) may be at ABC Publishers next week, the house where you sent your new manuscript. Just as you remember rudeness, so do they. Never burn bridges.

5. Do mail letter-perfect, clean, typewritten letters printed on good quality, standard color (white, ivory, gray, pale blue) paper. Never send handwritten letters, or letters on pink, purple, fluorescent, or other obtrusively colored paper. Professionalism should be your watchword. Avoid anything that smacks of the amateur. If in doubt, ask other authors for an opinion.

6. Do remember that editors and agents want to deal with professionals so learn that being a professional means never begging, pleading, threatening, or bribing. Publishing is a business. Editors and agents don't care if you are about to be evicted for not paying your rent. They do care if you can write a great book or article. They care if you can take editorial direction.

7. Do take classes if you need to perfect your command of the language and/or grammar. Never think that your brilliantly creative writing will make an editor overlook misplaced modifiers, subjects and verbs that do not agree, incorrect word usage, misspellings, etc. This is a tough, competitive business. You don't want the editor to toss your submission away because of a misspelled word in the first paragraph.

8. Do realize that thinking your writing is "good enough" is an invitation for rejection. Write and revise, always trying to improve your skill level. Master fiction techniques.

9. Do remember that it is not the easiest thing in the world to get a book published, but it is not the most difficult either. Never make excuses for why you haven't sold; no one really believes the rationalizations - not even you. Just write and rewrite and improve and keep writing.

10. Do remember why you write - not to make a gazillion bucks or to get famous - but because you love putting words together, telling stories.

Find the joy in the simple act of putting words together and getting them on paper. Hold that joy close because it is what drives you and keeps you writing when doors are slammed in your face. If you are writing for any reason other than the sheer love of translating your vision so that others can see it and feel it by reading your words, then you are in the wrong business.

Sling Words looking for corporate motto

The Consumer Electronics Show has been going on in Las Vegas this week. This is the event where they decide which new products will most tantalize the public and make them reach for their plastic because they can't live without whatever it is.

I was reading about the CES and learned that Intel is changing their corporate image, logo, and motto. Oh my gosh! Sling Words doesn't have a motto. So we decided to get one, (That's much easier than purchasing the new must-have whatever it is.) We put our brightest minds to work on this task and came up with this.

Here at Sling Words, we put the k in kwality.

Now, some purists in the reading audience may be sputtering: "But that's not how you spell quality."

Well, duh! Don't you purists know that spelling isn't important anymore? I mean, haven't you read a newspaper lately? Spelling and grammar have gone the way of the Betamax. They're extinct.

I must admit, I once was so offended by all the grammatical errors appearing in my local newspaper, that I thought I'd start blogging about it with specific examples culled from the morning pages spread across my breakfast table. I soon realized I'd spend all my time writing up these absurdities.

What's with these people who write for the dailies? How did they ever pass journalism class? For that matter, how did they pass fourth grade spelling class?

{Grinding teeth} Don't get me started! I will tell you, absurdities also abound with television journalism (that's got to be an oxymoron). A newscaster on one of our local channels was describing a crime committed on a street named Butte Springs which she pronounced as BUTT Springs, as in short for buttocks. Even if these so-called journalists are little more than pretty faces, can't they at least rehearse or ask someone on the crew how to pronounce a word obviously unfamiliar to them?

Let's hope she's never offered the six o'clock anchor position in Butte, Montana.

Sling Words offers public service

Here at Sling Words, in an effort to offer value to readers as well as a desire to contribute to society, we will help build readers' vocabulary by offering a new, heretofore little known word, each week.

Today that word is spokesweasel.

Spokesweasel, noun, used by a British magazine to describe a celebrity's public relations spokesperson, i.e., "Tom Cruise's spokesweasel had no comment regarding the introduction of jump the couch into American slang."

Sadly, Sling Words doesn't yet have a spokesweasel. To apply for this position, contact Sling Words Human Relations. Please enclose a cover letter stating why you want this position. (Letter should, of course, demonstrate your ability to use a multitude of words without saying anything meaningful.)

Don't call us. We'll call you.

Mariah, what happened to you?

Did you see Mariah on the New Year's Eve show? Wow, what happened to her? She was on Oprah a few months ago, pushing her new album (and her image as a humanitarian), and she looked well-rounded, but good.

Well-rounded seems to have morphed into "possible replacement for Kirstie Alley once Kirstie loses all her weight."

Remember what Mariah is quoted as having said? "Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that but not with all those flies and death and stuff."

Howl among yourselves.

Dogs are the best people I know

Yesterday, a friend sent me a Net floater, you know, one of those things that floats around in cyberspace, repeatedly washing up in electronic Inboxes like dead seaweed on a beach after a storm. Because it was quotes from famous people about dogs, I paused to read before hitting the delete key. I was struck by how many writers had profound things to say about the animal that's lived with humans since prehistoric man hunted brontosaurus steaks.

We here at Sling Words - meaning me of course - decided to share this wisdom with you (including my DH who may read this and whom I am trying to convince we need a dog to replace our Wonder Dog who's chasing squeaky toys in heaven).

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
-Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
-Will Rogers

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.
-Andy Rooney

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
-Robert Benchley

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
-James Thurber

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!
-Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
-Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'
- Dave Barry

New year = 365 chances

Did you achieve your goals in 2005? If not, you have 365 chances as of today to make your dreams come true.

Yes, I'm a proponent of having written goals. If life is a journey, doesn't it make sense to have some kind of destination in mind along with a road map to guide you to where you want to be?

So where do you want to be when 2006 is over? Write it down and make a map of how to get there.

Happy New Year.