No Trick: Book Club Closes

Halloween brings the end of the Writer's Digest Book Club. I can hardly believe they are shutting down. I've been a member of the book club since before I was published. I'm going to miss their monthly bulletins. Browsing the offerings each month was a fun ritual for me. I'm really going to miss getting a free book for every 4 books I bought, not to mention the free shipping if you paid for the book when you ordered it.

I guess the profit margin was a little too thin to keep doing that. On November 1, they'll reopen under the name Writer's Digest Book Shop. I guess we'll have to add them to our list of online book sellers.

If you too are a member of their soon to be defunct book club, they're offering you a free one year subscription to Writers Just go there to register.

Takeaway Truth

Things change even though we sometimes wish they wouldn't.

Big Guys Want Great Toys

Actually, big girls want great toys too, and these Nikon All Terrain Binoculars (ATB) are just the thing for guys and gals. Sure, they're touted as gear a serious hunter needs, meaning my darling husband and all the other hunters in the family will love them. But, they're also just the thing for serious bird watchers like my mom.

My mom lives in the country and has bird feeders stationed around her house. She loves to sit on the porch and watch the birds as they dine on the various feeders. These binoculars would be perfect to help her see her feathered friends even better.

Guess what, if you order them from Nikon ATB Promotion, they sweeten the deal by giving you a Gift card based on what gear you buy. All the details are on the site, and the promotion runs through December 31, 2008. Just click on the Details Page.

Who says writers can't come up with gifts other than books?

Takeaway Truth

Getting a gift in return for buying a product is always an excellent marketing tool.

Candy Warning

I'm beginning to wonder about this melamine stuff. How many products have they found it in so far? This one is really scary. The gold coin chocolate candies have been tested. Yep. Melamine in the chocolate.

You can read the detailed press release at Snopes which was updated October 26, 2008.

Here are the highlights.

Halloween Candy Recalled

There is a new warning put out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Sherwood brand Pirate's Gold Milk Chocolate coins are being recalled due to the fact that they contain Melamine, the ingredient in milk products that has caused infant deaths in China. These candies are sold at Costco, as well as many bulk and Dollar Stores.

Please make sure to check the candy you pass out and the candy your children get and DO NOT LET THEM EAT THE PIRATE COINS (you know the ones wrapped in the shiny gold foil) and let other parents know about this!

Takeaway Truth

Protect your children. Read labels. Perhaps be suspicious of foodstuffs from China along with all the other products that have been recalled.

Accountants Know Things About Numbers

Most of you probably don't know that I was an accountant in a past life. When my husband, whose major was accounting, and I were first married, he was an accountant for an oil refiner while I was in-house accountant for an independent oil producer. I had two bosses, a father and a son.

Petroleum Pioneer

The father was one of the original oil producer pioneers in the 1920s. He came west with a portable typewriter and wrote his way across Texas and New Mexico in oil leases. What an amazing experience that was for me to know him and hear his stories. I not only practiced accounting but also practiced writing. I ended up writing his life story for him. That was the first book I ever wrote.

Fallback Option

Every now and then, when I get kind of disgusted with the writing business, I think maybe I should go back to accounting. In today's world, it pays to have a fallback career. One may never know when it might be needed. I sometimes cruise the Internet looking for accounting jobs.

Now, I'll probably never return to the world of debits and credits because I like working with words too much. But, just in case I'm ever tempted, I found a really great site that lists accounting jobs in my Lone Star State. I could probably find exactly the position I wanted on Accounting Jobs In Texas.

Accounting Jobs in Texas

I always like spreading good news around, so I thought I'd tell you about the site. If you might be interested in doing a job search for accounting positions in Texas, do yourself a favor and check them out.

To my utter amazement, they have 12,897 accounting jobs listed. That's enough accountants to fill a good-sized small Texas town. When you search, you can do so by Title, City, or Company. You can even use keyword tags or follow the most recent searches or the most popular searches.

Puzzled? Ask An Accountant

When I think of accountants, I think of what David Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1981, said: "None of us really understands what's going on with these numbers."

He must not have been talking to enough accountants because just about every one I've ever known could dissect a balance sheet faster than a bowl of ice cream can melt on a July day in Texas.

Takeaway Truth

Technology and the Internet are changing the way many traditional tasks were done. Try the Net for job search research.

Big News for Writers

This is huge! Roy Blount, President of Authors Guild Inc., emailed the news of this settlement to members on Tuesday. This legal action undertaken by Author Guild is one of the many reasons all eligible authors should join the Guild, America's oldest author advocacy group.

$125 Million Settlement in Authors Guild v. Google

A message from Roy Blount Jr.:

A couple months after I became Authors Guild president in 2006, we met with Google to propose a settlement to our class-action lawsuit. The Guild had sued Google in September 2005, after Google struck deals with major university libraries to scan and copy millions of books in their collections. Many of these were older books in the public domain, but millions of others were still under copyright protection. Nick Taylor, then the president of the Guild, saw Google’s scanning as “a plain and brazen violation of copyright law.” Google countered that its digitizing of these books represented a “fair use” of the material. Our position was: The hell you say. Of such disagreements, lawsuits are made.

Our proposal to Google back in May 2006 was simple: while we don’t approve of your unauthorized scanning of our books and displaying snippets for profit, if you’re willing to do something far more ambitious and useful, and you’re willing to cut authors in for their fair share, then it would be our pleasure to work with you.

We’re happy to report that our proposal found a receptive audience at Google and at Association of American Publishers and the several publishing houses that had filed a separate lawsuit in October 2005 against Google. Reaching final agreement turned out to be not so simple, but today, after nearly two and a half years of negotiations, we’re joining with Google and the AAP and those publishers to announce the settlement of Authors Guild v. Google.

The settlement, which must be approved by a federal judge before it takes effect, includes money for now and the prospect of money for later. There’ll be at least $45 million for authors and publishers whose in-copyright books and other copyrighted texts have been scanned without permission. If your book was scanned and you own all the rights, you’ll get a small share of this, at least $60, depending on how many rightsholders file claims.

Far more interesting for most of us –- and the ambitious part of our proposal -- is the prospect for future revenues. Rightsholders will receive a share of revenues from institutional subscriptions to the collection of books made available through Google Book Search under the settlement, as well as from sales of online consumer access to the books. They will also be paid for printouts at public libraries, as well as for other uses.

The payments will flow through the Book Rights Registry, a new independent entity that can be thought of as the writers’ equivalent of ASCAP. Much as ASCAP tracks the uses of songs and collects royalties for songwriters and musicians, the Registry will serve the interests of authors and others who own the rights to books appearing online as a result of this settlement. The Registry will be controlled by a board of authors and publishers; as part of the settlement, Google will pay $34.5 million to get the Registry up and running, notify rightsholders of the settlement, and process claims.

Readers are also big winners under the settlement of Authors Guild v. Google. Readers will be able to browse from their own computers an enormous collection of books. We hope this will encourage some readers to buy full online access to some of the books. Readers wanting to view books online in their entirety for free need only reacquaint themselves with their participating local public library: every public library building is entitled to a free, view-only license to the collection. College students working on term papers will be able to point their computers to resources other than Wikipedia, if they’re so inclined: students at subscribing institutions will be able to read and print out any books in the collection.

We expect that millions of out-of-print books (and many in-print books) will be available through Google Book Search to readers, but we don’t know how many, since that depends partly on you. Participating rightsholders can choose to pull their books from this service with reasonable notice at any time and will retain substantial control over Google’s presentation and pricing of their books.

As with any class action, individual class members remain free to opt out of the settlement.

There are many, many more details, but I’ll leave those to the official notice. There’s also an official press release, edited to within an inch of its life and the settlement agreement itself. They’re linked below; be my guest.

Roy Blount Jr.
Authors Guild

October 28, 2008

Press Release

Class Notice

Settlement Agreement

Copyright 2008 Roy Blount Jr. Mr. Blount authorizes any recipient to forward and post this message in its entirety.

The Authors Guild | 31 E 32nd St | Fl 7 | New York, NY, 10016 | US

Takeaway Truth

Authors need to support those who support them. Join the Authors Guild. By all means, use my name as referral. I love referring writers to a group that does such meaningful work on our behalf.

Simulated Moon Landing

Recently, I bought two beautiful new hardwood lateral files, but the contents of my old beat up metal file cabinets won't fit. So I'm cleaning out files again. I came across an article I'd clipped from some writers' club newsletter. No date. No banner so I don't know to whom to attribute it, but it's so intriguing I had to share. It made me think of my grandfather's comment about the moon landing: It's not real. They just painted it on celluloid. My grandfather, born in 1882, referred to the film used for movies and television as celluloid. Maybe he was right.

If you know who originally wrote and/or published this, contact me and I'll publish the information.

So you think we or the Russians actually went to the moon? The people at Meteor Crater, Arizona, say probably not.

You see in 1969 they saw NASA make a movie in that same crater of a simulated moon landing starring none other than Neil "the first man on the moon" Armstrong himself. A 60-year-old man described to me how they brought the moon landing craft out on a tractor trailer, offloaded it, and ran it around the crater that was created by a meteor crash when his father was a little boy. They even bagged so-called moon rocks and took them away, according to him.

They were really surprised to see a similar event portrayed on TV, on July 20, 1969, the same year. Did the U.S. government allow a hoax to take place because they wanted to plant the US flag on the moon first? We probably will never know, but there are a lot of people who believe it was only make-believe.

Takeaway Truth

Not everyone believes the truths held by the majority.

What Is A Writer?

A few days ago I blogged abut a survey I read about in the Authors Guild Bulletin. The focus of the NEA survey was how much writers earn. I've recently completed a survey from the Authors Guild about this very subject.

More Statistics About Writers

I remember reading the statistics compiled by another survey, I think it was one of the Pew Internet projects, about people who identify themselves as a writer. Apparently, many of those have never published with a credible byline or earned anything from their writing. I suspect many of these people who label themselves writer aren't just aspiring writers who haven't yet been published. I think many are people who would LIKE to be writers but haven't done the work required to legitimately wear the label.

Periodically on various blogs maintained by working writers, i.e., those who get paid for their writing, the hot topic of amateur writers, defined as those who work for pennies or, worse, nothing, is wildly debated. Since I like to Sling Words around, I thought I'd sling a few about this topic.

Hot Topic

I'll probably get some rotten tomatoes tossed at me for this blog, but writers who write with no expectation of recompense do a disservice to all writers. In today's world, there are too many people who label themselves writer without knowing what the occupation demands. They wouldn't dare label themselves neurosurgeons, but because we live in a culture that doesn't value those who work with words - just ask any Hollywood writer - everyone with access to a computer thinks he or she is a writer.

Too many think the only requirement for successful writing is the ability to tap a keyboard. After all, isn't that the implied logic behind blogs? You don't have to know how to write to publish a blog ...blah, blah, blah. While this is true, it doesn't mean that a blog will attract an audience unless it offers compelling content. While many overlook grammatical errors in blogs, no one overlooks boring content.

Professional writers know there's more required to write than the ability to peck out words on a keyboard. Let's place a few adjectives in front of the word writer in order to clarify the occupation. I freely admit these are my definitions.

Professional Writer

Those that know the business, write with skill and narrative excellence and are paid commensurate with their ability, experience, and knowledge.

Amateur Writer

The vast majority of all writers on the Internet who write with no expectation of payment. No disrespect intended.

Aspiring Writers

These are the folks who study and practice by writing - a lot - with the expectation that they'll become professional. I offer my best wishes for you to meet your goal.

The waters get muddied by amateurs who want to be considered professionals yet they don't adhere to professional standards. Sometimes they may get paid a little, but usually they work for free. These amateurs - and professionals who are so desperate for work that they'll take peanuts - lower the pay standards so that clients who need content written think it's perfectly acceptable to offer a job of writing 100 articles for $50.00. Or publishers think it's okay to offer the lowest possible advances for a novel.

Now, amateurs can become professionals just as, presumably, professionals can become hacks.

Learn The Business

It's not so much that someone should have to earn the right to be called a writer as it is that those who call themselves writer should live up to that label in terms of ability, salary requirement, and work ethic. They should learn the craft along with learning the business practices that enable a writer to earn a living wage.

Refrain from work-for-free jobs and working for peanuts unless there is a valid advantage in doing so. Yes, sometimes there is a good reason for taking less than standard compensation. For example, the initial job for a new client earns a minimum, but after that, you have a guaranteed second project that results in proper payment. Avoid working with those who believe a chimp with a keyboard could do as well so why should they pay a writer more than a buck or less per article. These people do not respect your ability, and they never will.

Takeaway Truth

Adopt professional business standards and advance your career as a writer by creating excellence in all you do.

Unfounded Fear

Quote of the Week

Great self-destruction follows upon unfounded fear. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven, 1971.

This is the month for all things scary and fearful. Fear is of itself an interesting topic and something completely subjective for the most part. Millions of people are afraid of spiders, but they don't bother me at all.

Professionals trained to deal with the effects of fear say only fear of the dark and fear of falling are genetically encoded in humans. All the other fears, we personally and individually create.

This photograph is of a sculpture created by my daughter Adina when she was a senior in high school and in advanced art. Adina, formerly a commercial artist who now teaches art in high school, selected fear as her focus that year. All art she created interpreted fear in some media. This sculpture won First in State of Texas.

I've often thought this sculpture is particularly illustrative of the destructive power of fear with its cruel, twisted spikes. If you bow to the power of Fear rather than fight it, fear will bore into your soul and eventually destroy you. Writers and other creative souls seem especially prone to fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of success, whatever you want to call your personal nemesis.

When fear rules, you lose all that you might otherwise gain.

Takeaway Truth

If you suffer from fear, no matter what that fear may be, act in the face of your fear, and you gain power over it instead of letting it rule over you.

Seriously, Online Degrees?

One of my nephews was talking about going back to college to complete his degree work. He asked me if I knew anything about getting a degree this way. Of course, I didn't. However, I did a little research and found a website that discusses Online Degrees. They offer a search and directory of online degree programs.

Apparently there are many more students taking online classes than there are in traditional college classroom settings. I'm sure the cost of online versus traditional has much to do with this.

Of course, I always look for some kind of credentials for any website. has the Better Business Bureau Reliability logo so I felt comfortable directing my nephew to their site in beginning his own research.

Takeaway Truth

When considering Internet sites, always look for some evidence of credibility so you can better ascertain whether to trust the information they impart.

Surprise! Writers Make a Living

In the last issue of my Authors Guild Bulletin, there was an interesting article I'd like to tell you about.

Writing for a Living

The opening of "Writing for a Living" had a great hook sentence. More women do it than men. After you finish chuckling, I'll tell you more. The article was based on statistics from Artists in the Workforce, a report released June of this year by the National Endowment for the Arts. The figures were based on the 2000 census as well as more recent economic data.


More women than men claim their primary job is artist of some sort.

More who claim this as their primary job live in the states of Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts.

More live in the cities of Boulder-Longmont, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and San Francisco, California.

185,000 writers in the U.S. claimed writing as their primary job.

Writers and authors ranked 3rd in the 11 art categories listed. First and second were architects and producers.

83% have bachelor's or postgrad degrees.

More than 50% do it full-time, earning a median income slightly over $50,000.00.

Takeaway Truth

Authors Guild Inc. is the oldest author-advocacy group in the U. S. If you qualify for membership, I highly recommend joining. Authors need powerful advocates in high places.

Act Against Annoying Phone Calls

At last! Here's something you can do about those irritating phone calls. You know the kind I mean where the number is revealed but no name appears? I get them multiple times a day. Normally, I let voice mail deal with it.

It's my Mom and her friends I worry about. They are of the generation that thinks they have to answer the phone when it rings. I worry about them getting hooked by a scam artist. So I was thrilled to tell my Mom about Report Phone Numbers.

This is a free service where you can register and then file a report on a phone number. You can also look up a phone number to see the experience other people have had with that number.

Please tell your family and friends, especially those older Americans, not to answer an unknown number. Report it instead, and you might find out who it really is.

Takeaway Truth

It's a good thing to register all your land line phone numbers and cell numbers with the Do Not Call Registry which will greatly reduce the nuisance calls - at least from legitimate sources.

Visiting Forbidden Gardens

Tucked away in Katy, Texas, the biggest little town you'll ever see, is a Chinese history marvel known as Forbidden Gardens.

Wear comfortable walking shoes because the museum is an outdoor venue with scale model replicas of some of China's major historic scenes. Guided tours are mandatory and are scheduled for 11:00 am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 2:00pm & 3:00pm.

When you tour Forbidden Gardens, you'll be amazed at the exhibits. They have a 1/3 scale of the 3rd century BC terracotta army which was composed of 6,000 clay soldiers. Another of the many replicas is the Forbidden City.

There are benches if you need a rest break, and the park is wheelchair accessible. They also have a limited number of wheelchairs available. (First come; first serve.) Cameras are allowed, but, please, no pets with the exception of service animals.

Essential Information

Forbidden Gardens
23500 Franz Rd
Katy, TX 77493-2703
Phone: (281) 347-8000 (Closed in bad weather so call ahead if in doubt.)

$3.00 for Children age 5 and under.
$5.00 for Seniors 60+, Students (6-18), Teachers with proper I.D., Groups of 25+.
$10.00 for Adults (19-59).
One child 5 and under allowed in free with each adult or senior admission.

Cash (none over $50.), Visa, MasterCard & American Express. No checks.

Hours: year round Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Arrive 30 minutes prior to selected tour time to view the informational video which runs for 22 minutes continuously throughout the day.

Museum hours are 10:00am -5:00pm. Admission gates close at 3:30pm.

Takeaway Truth

Take advantage of museums that depict faraway lands. They're an exotic treat and a great writer's resource.

Visiting Texas Ranger Museum

I was excited to again visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco. We'd last been a decade ago. The museum is a treasure trove for those who love Texas history.

Hall of Fame

The part of the museum that is the Hall of Fame memorializes 30 Texas Rangers who gave their lives in the line of duty or who served with great distinction. In the Hall of Fame, you'll find displays set up for Rangers like Manuel T. Gonzaullas who was born in 1891 in Cádiz, Spain. He was called El Lobo Solo - Lone Wolf.

El Lobo Solo

Born to a Spanish father and Canadian mother who were naturalized U.S. citizens, Gonzaullas served as a Mexican army major when he was 20. Then he worked for the U.S. Treasury Department for 5 years. He joined the Texas Rangers in 1920 and for the next two decades, he enforced the law in the oil fields and on the border, pursuing bootleggers, gamblers and drug runners alone. After all, he was El Lobo Solo. (Must have been the inspiration for the Lone Wolf McQuade movie starring Chuck Norris as a Ranger.)

After he retired in 1951, Ranger Gonzaullas became a technical consultant for radio, motion pictures, and television shows such as Tales of the Texas Rangers. He helped found the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in 1968.

This is just one fascinating story from the Texas Ranger Museum. I came away with copious notes and photographs. (Yes, they let you photograph inside.)

You owe it to yourself to visit the Ranger museum, especially if you have kids. These men were real heroes who gave birth to the mythic Texas Ranger. They worked this wild and untamed land when the philosophy of one riot; one Ranger was a statement of truth about the ability of a Ranger to handle any situation.

Contact Info

I-35 and University Parks Drive
P. O. Box 2570, Waco, TX 76702-2570

Admission: Adults: $6.00; Children (6-12): $3.00; Under 6, free.

Monday - Sunday; 9 - 5 with Last Guest Admitted at 4:30pm.

Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's.

Takeaway Truth

Celebrate real heroes. Let your children hear about the achievements of men and women who honored their commitments and sometimes gave their lives in the line of duty.

Eating at Nicky D's

If you're ever in the Burleson, Texas, area, you should stop by Nicky D's. That is, if you want one of the best hamburgers you'll ever sink your teeth into.

Nick and Tammy

My husband's brother Allen and his wife Bertha introduced us to their good friends Nick and Tammy, owners of the best little cafe in town. There's nothing fancy or high falutin' at Nicky D's, formerly a convenience store and gas station.

A while back, Tammy convinced her husband that it would be a good idea to buy the busy corner, remove the gas pumps, and start serving his special burgers and fries to the public. The rest is, as they say, history.

Each day, Nick and his boisterous staff cook between 300 and 500 pounds of ground chuck shaped into half pound burgers. They wash and fry, with the skins on, hundreds of pounds of potatoes too. Nick grills the hamburger buns too, producing a golden, hot, buttery bun for those monster burgers.

Success Is Hard Work

If you grill it, they will come. Again and again. The parking lot is always packed. The inside of the cafe, decorated with hundreds of photographs stapled to the wall and a little bit of everything nailed to the ceiling, is crowded with tables and chairs. Picnic tables have been set up outside to handle the overflow crowd. With a reputation for great food, there's always a crowd at Nicky D's, and the crowd doesn't mind waiting whether it's an hour or longer.

For dessert, there's ice cream. The day we dined there the menu showed an ice cream dessert called Green Frog Snake. I was so full I couldn't satisfy my curiosity about the dessert so if you go, save room for dessert and tell me about it.

Contact Info

Nicky D's is located at 1605 Highway 1187. Crowley, TX 76036.

Takeaway Truth

Always pass on info about a good restaurant. Everyone likes good food, and when you get great and inexpensive food, it's a win-win situation.

Who Do You Want To Be?

Halloween brings out the adventurous spirit in all of us. Once again we can let our imaginations soar and, for one night, be someone else. All it takes is donning a costume to change us from mild-mannered Clark Kents, Suzy Homemakers, and Carol Career Girl into a favorite TV show character, a super hero, or even a mythic creature of the night.

The Internet makes finding perfect Halloween Costumes so easy - regardless of what you want to be for the upcoming fright night. With numerous categories - each with dozens of styles, costumes for pets, a wide range of sizes, and every kind of accessory imaginable to make the transformation from your everyday persona to your favorite character, Halloween should be your first stop for all your costume needs for the whole family.

Guess what? They have costumes for every holiday occasion, not just for Halloween. Need a Cinco de Mayo costume for a party? They've got it. Want something special for a Christmas party, Mardi Gras, or even Purim? Halloween Adventure has it.

As for me, I always try to find something my husband and I can coordinate. I remember one year, we went as Joan Wilder and Jack Colton, the characters from the movie Romancing the Stone. If you remember the avalanche scene in the movie, you'll know why we wore ripped, muddied clothing. We also had a big fake emerald glued to the toe of the boot my husband wore. In reference to the scene where Jack kicks a gigantic emerald into the air and tells the villain: Choke on it.

This year, I'm thinking the Sonny and Cher costumes from their I Got You Babe era might be what we choose.

Takeaway Truth

Never lose your sense of fun because that's one of the things that keeps you young.

Visiting Lone Oak Winery

I know it may sound as if we're drinking our way across Texas, but that's not really the case. We're visiting museums as well as wineries and breweries. Having said that, let me tell you about our visit to Lone Oak Winery in Burleson.

Lone Oak is a small winery that opens to the public from noon to 7PM, Thursday - Sunday, for tastings. You can arrange for a guided tour by calling in advance, but we just strolled in, had great fun with tasting all their wines, including two ports, and then we did a self-guided tour.

Wine Dog

Actually, the self-guided tour had a guide - Sadie, the wine dog. Sadie trotted ahead when we set upon the path through the vineyard. At every fork in the path, Sadie stopped and waited. As we approached, she turned and faced a particular direction and remained motionless, as if frozen in place. When we reached her, she set off down her chosen direction, and we followed like good tourists. We laughed as we followed Sadie from one grape planting to the next, making a big circuit through the vineyard and then back to the hospitality room.


We had participated in a tasting before we left on the Sadie-guided tour. If you go, plan on a tasting which is only $5.00 for 5 wines. Of course, if you buy a wine, it's free.

Lone Oak has an exceptional blush wine. Normally, I favor the reds and disdain the blush wines, but in this case, the blush has a beguiling bouquet and a taste that's light and fruity without being commonplace and sweet.

Linda Gilliam is the very knowledgeable Tasting Room Specialist. She was a delight who poured sample after sample, describing each wine in eloquent terms. She also answered questions that my writer's curiosity wanted answered in case I decide to include a vineyard scene in a future book or article.

When it comes to wine, I'm so plebeian that I actually swallow the samples presented to me. No gargling and spitting for me. I thoroughly enjoyed all their wines, but the one I really wanted to buy was their blush table wine, Rosa Blanca. As is our custom, my husband picked a bottle that he liked, I got the Rosa Blanca I wanted, and we purchased a couple of wine glasses, etched with the winery name.

If you'd like to visit Lone Oak Winery, Inc., they're located at 2116 FM 731,
Burleson, Texas 76028. Call (817) 426-6625 if you want to arrange a tour.

When we get home, we'll chill the wine, then some evening, we'll fill the Lone Oak glasses with one of the delightful crisp wines. As we drink the wine, my husband and I will discuss the fun we had at Lone Oak with his brother Allen and Allen's wife Bertha who had joined us at the vineyard that day.

Takeaway Truth

Good times should be not only remembered but also celebrated.

Mob of Scribblers

Quote for the Week

One can take inspiration from the negatives uttered by someone as easily as the positive statements that support and encourage.Nathaniel Hawthorne said: America is now given over to a damned mob of scribbling women.

Ah, yes, scribbling women once crouched low over sheets of vellum with an ink-dipped quill in hand and wrote their hearts out. They expected little in recompense; they often had to take men's names in order to see their work published. If they were brave enough and fortunate enough to see their hard work published under their own names, they often received more disdain than praise for their efforts. Yet, they kept going and penned some of our most memorable books like Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre just to name a few.

Takeaway Truth

Whether you're part of the mob of scribbling women or scribbling men, be as stalwart as those writers. Never let your detractors sway your confidence in your writing.

Shiner Bock by Spoetzl Brewery

I'm still out rambling through Texas, taking pictures and making notes. Who knows when my travel experiences will find their way into a book or articles? Certainly, they are appearing in my blogs.

The house sitter is taking good care of the hacienda so I'm delaying my return. In addition to liking small town museums, I also like touring businesses that make a product. I have a couple of wineries on my itinerary, but today I thought I'd tell you about the Spoetzl Brewery which is the oldest brewery in the Lone Star State. The small brewery in Shiner, Texas, produces Shiner Bock, Blonde, Winter Ale, Hefeweizen, and Summer Stock.

Czech and German immigrants arrived in 1887 and settled the area eighty miles southeast of what is now Austin. The town became Shiner, and in 1909, the Shiner Brewing Association was founded.

In 1915, Kosmos Spoetzl, who was born in Germany and earned his Brewmasters degree there, bought the little Shiner brewery. He’d worked for several years at different European and Canadian breweries before moving to the United States. According to information at the brewery’s web site, they still use Kosmos Spoetzl’s original recipes. Their reputation for producing handcrafted brew also calls for the beer to be naturally aged before it goes to market.

Though the brewery has remained small with less than fifty employees, times have changed where distribution is concerned. Once upon a time, Shiner Beer was available only in Texas, but now it can be found in twenty other states thanks to the present owner of the brewery, Carlos Alvarez who expanded into other markets.

All beer contains the same ingredients of water, malt, hops, and yeast. The beer at the Spoetzl Brewery comes from an Artesian spring. Malt is simply the grain barley which has undergone a three-step process of malting - steeping, drying and roasting. Barley is steeped in water usually 2-3 days until it germinates. Then it’s spread into large, flat pans and heated which stops the barley’s sprouting and dries it. Then it’s roasted. The type of beer being brewed determines how long the barley is roasted. Light roast malt creates a lighter beer, and a burned malt (black) creates a dark beer like Shiner Bock.

The next ingredient is hops which are grown in a cluster of flowers at the end of a vine. These tiny clusters look like miniature pine cones, and the extract derived from them is the hops. This extract, the hops, give beer its individuality. Back before refrigeration, brewers made beer that was highly hopped because the hops were a natural preservative so beer would last longer.

Most people - like my darling husband - likes Shiner Bock because it's light, but not too light, and it's dark, but not too dark. It's just right. More flavor than a light beer, but not so flavorful that it's overwhelming or bitter. The mellow taste of Shiner Bock can be consumed very cold or at room temperature, and it pleases the palette both ways. He likes to kick back with a cold Shiner Bock while he's tending the grill.

This Texas beer from the little brewery in Shiner is a beautiful amber color that tells you it's situated perfectly between lagers and dark beers, and it goes exceptionally well with Mexican food or steak. Or by itself. Most Texans’ favorite time to indulge is when slaving over a hot grill. That's when a cold Shiner Bock is a little bit of heaven.

If you can't get to Shiner in person, you can take a virtual tour and see the brewhouse, lab, fermentation room, and storage tanks where the beer rests for twenty days. Each batch of beer is naturally aged for at least thirty days. The bottling process is shown on the web site where at least 5,600 cases are bottled each day. And this doesn’t even include the kegs. Each day from the warehouse, they ship about 8,000 cases and 500 kegs.

Takeaway Truth

Manufacturing tours are great entertainment that's educational and easy on the budget too.

Editor's Job Description

There’s an old cliché that goes: a man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done. Let me paraphrase that: an editor may work from sun to sun, but an editor’s work is never done.

Every writer I know, published and unpublished, gripes about the slow editorial response time. It does seem as if editors get slower all the time. Not just certain editors at certain publishers are indicted. In fact, when a writer gets a timely response, and a rejection comes too swiftly, she is suspicious her submission didn’t get read. Most of us who’ve been in the trenches a while know editors do more than just read submissions and edit contracted manuscripts. But for those who are new to this business, or for those who never learned, here’s an eye opener. Even authors with requested manuscripts suffer slow response times. So why don’t editors respond in the length of time listed in those market guides?

Editorial Process

If you’ve had a manuscript requested, the process begins this way. When the manuscript arrives at the publisher, someone, usually a receptionist or some low-level assistant logs it into the computer. Then it is sent along with many others to a first reader for evaluation. (If the editor has read you before, she will sometimes eliminate this first reader and read it herself.)

First Reader

If the first reader, who may be an employee of the publishing company or may be a freelance contract worker (best case scenario is someone who is knowledgeable about the genre; worst case is, well, we won’t talk about that) likes your manuscript, he/she will return it to the publishing office to a junior editor. It doesn’t matter if you addressed it to the Editorial Director, unless you have a prior relationship with that person.

Junior Editor

A junior editor usually has the title Editorial Assistant or Assistant Editor. Junior Editor places it in a big stack where it waits its turn. It’s supposed to be first in, first read, but a manuscript can go out of order based on other considerations - who the agent is that reps it; who the author is if she has a relationship with the editor; a contest win that might cause the editor, upon learning of it, to pull it from the stack, etc.

Line Breakers

Now, all that is assuming the manuscript is just a requested work. If, however, a manuscript comes in that is already contracted or an option manuscript from one of the editor’s published authors arrives, those take precedence and will be read before a “requested manuscript that had a good first reading.” This may sound unfair, but there are reasons. Contracts specify time limits for reviewing option books. Deadlines for contracted books must be kept so if a completed manuscript for a contracted book comes in, it must be read asap in case there are revisions which must be made. (It will have to go back to the author expeditiously in order to maintain the publishing date scheduled.)

If the editor is working from a synopsis from her published author, she may have to persuade others at an editorial meeting that offering a contract is a good decision. Yes, weekly editorial meetings, most of them running long, are another of the editor’s many tasks.

Senior Editor

If your manuscript makes it successfully through the junior editor, it then goes to the senior editor who has responsibility for the entire line or imprint. There, it waits again, in another stack. When Senior Editor gets around to reading it, she may want revisions. She sends it back to Junior Editor with a note to reject it or a note for revisions she might want or with a note saying to offer a contract. It may wait in a stack again on Junior’s desk. When Junior Editor gets to your manuscript again, you will receive it back with a rejection and revisions letter, just a rejection, or a letter and a contract.

Previous Obligations

While this whole process is going on with requested manuscripts (from authors and from agents) AND over the transom submissions - the infamous Slush Pile - editors are doing other things, such as, contracting books. Usually an editor has to acquire a certain number of books based on the line/imprint/publishing house. They negotiate contracts, edit manuscripts, write revision letters, and sometimes personal encouraging rejection letters. They also have to follow their contracted manuscripts through the production process and make sure everything is done in a timely fashion - a title selected, cover copy written (sometimes by a Cover Copy Editor but sometimes by your editor), cover art designed, copy edited manuscript generated, page proofs generated, inventory slot assigned, title selected, etc. - and if the editor is good and the house is author-friendly, all that in-house detail must be sent to the author as well for review.

Many Authors; One Editor

The editor is the author’s liaison to the publishing house and thus deals with questions from the author and/or author’s agent. So that interaction is multiplied by the number of contracted authors the editor deals with plus the aspiring authors the editor works with plus the random wannabes who have no finished manuscript but call the editor with, and I quote an unnamed editor: Ridiculous questions about how much of an advance the editor will give.


An editor deals with many phone calls, emails, meetings, problems that come up with authors or book scheduling. You know what happens - an author misses a deadline or falls ill. Cover art may have a heroine with black hair when she’s blond in the story or the author’s name is spelled wrong or the blurb on the back is for a different book or the galleys got lost in the mail. On and on - the list of problems is mind-boggling.

Then there are the career-related demands on an editor’s time - judging contests, attending conferences, reading the stacks of manuscripts in hopes of discovering authors the editor can “grow.” An editor’s advancement is related to the authors she publishes. They usually take home manuscripts, queries, proposals to read. I’ve been told they read dozens and dozens of queries for every one manuscript they request.

I'm convinced most editors are seriously overworked and drastically underpaid. I don’t even know how they manage to live in New York on the salaries they are paid. As I wrote this today, I even found myself wondering how they managed to have a life! So have a little patience when you get antsy about your submission.

Takeaway Truth

Chances are the editor is at the publishing house because she or he loves books. So writers and editors have that in common. Try to remember that.

How To Take Care of Books

Just about all the writers and readers I know have a considerable financial investment in the books that comprise their home library. Yet many don't know how to properly take care of these printed treasures, be they paperbacks or hardbacks.

Valuable Collections

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.

5 Tips

1. Store books upright to prevent warping. It's always best to completely fill the book shelf so they are supported on each end. If you don't have enough books to do this, be sure to use strong bookends.

2. Keep food and beverages away from books because insects, along with heat and humidity, are a book's worst enemies. Cockroaches, silverfish, and carpet beetle larvae, better known as - you guessed it - the bookworm are attracted to the smallest residue of nutrients. Keep your books clean, cool, dry, and nutrient-free.

3. Use bookmarks to hold your place in a book. Do not dog ear the page (I am so guilty of this!) or lay the book down, open-faced (Sigh. I do this too.) which will damage the spine of the book.

4. Books aren't double-jointed. Never crack one open (forcing 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. Never discard it because if you think you may hang on to it as a collectible, the lack of a dust cover lowers its value.

Takeaway Truth

It's never too late to learn the proper way to do something. Make new book handling habits today and teach them to your children.

Bonnie & Clyde Ambush Museum

Last week while I was rambling around out of the way places, I visited the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum at Gibsland, Louisiana. On a quiet Thursday afternoon, my mother and I joined a couple from Georgia, a family from the local area, and four other adults who'd found their way to the museum when they'd seen the sign on nearby I-20.

I like small town, independent museums because they're usually kind of quirky. If done well, they offer as much entertaining education as museums in large cities. This one was done well.

The museum is operated by L. J. "Boots" Hinton, son of Deputy Sheriff
Ted Hinton, who was one of the lawmen who brought down Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

The story of the ambush of these two ruthless killers is not pretty as you'll see if you take the museum tour. A four-part DVD which includes the actual film shot on the scene by Dallas County Sheriff's Deputy Ted Hinton who'd been given a movie camera by a Dallas newsman, shows the brutal truth.

The museum is housed in the building that was once Ma Canfield's Cafe. My mother said she and my father had eaten there several times when they happened to travel past Arcadia and Gibsland back in the 1940s and 1950s. There's an extensive exhibit of rare photos, taped eyewitness interviews, film footage, and documents from the 1930s when Bonnie and Clyde reigned supreme in the public's imagination. They also have some of the weapons recovered from the death car. And, folks, that's really what it was - a death car, riddled with bullet holes from high-powered rifles and handguns.

Grizzled Texan

The real draw for me was Boots Hinton, Ted Hinton's son. While others watched the DVD, I went outside to the park bench where Boots was enjoying the warm afternoon. I asked him immediately if I could photograph him. Boots said, "Sure, let me get my other hat."

While he went inside and swapped his gimme cap for a nice straw Stetson, I quickly wrote a release for him to sign, granting me permission to use his name and image on my websites and in my mom's memoirs to be published next month. (I thought I might work in a bit about him and his father since my mom wrote about her childhood memories of the infamous couple in an essay to be published in her memoir Memory Lane.

After Boots signed, I snapped several pictures. Then we sat and talked. I had some pressing questions to ask. My mom joined us and told Boots about her father who was acquainted with the Methvin family whose son was part of the gang. Most adults in the Depression South considered Bonnie and Clyde as mythic folk heroes.

Boots was knowledgeable about the event and about his dad's part in the historic showdown. None of the lawmen involved ever planned to try to get them to give up. They went into it knowing it was shoot to kill because Clyde Barrow had publicly announced that he would never surrender. Since he'd already killed at least 12 men, they had no illusions about what he'd do if they cornered him and tried to take him into custody.

Bonnie supposedly never killed anyone herself, but she was a vital part of the Barrow gang. The other members made up for her lack of kills.

Of course, I bought a copy of Ambush by Ted Hinton from the museum gift shop. My mom got a tee shirt that looked as if it were riddled with bullet holes. She thought it was super cool. Boots said his dad's book was the true record of the four versions of the event. He was kind enough to autograph my copy. His dad was the last of the ambush lawmen to die. I'm looking forward to reading the book. After I've done so, I'll review it.

Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum, 318-843-1934
2419 Main Street, Gibsland, LA 71028, daily from 10am to 6pm

If you stop by and it's closed, Boots may be over at the town cafe which serves really good scratch cooking. The aromas floating around the cafe are mouthwatering.

span style="font-weight:bold;">Takeaway Truth

There are some really good museums in unexpected places. Be willing to explore.

Dan Calvisi Newsletter

Successful screenwriter Dan Calvisi of Act Four Screenplays just sent his latest newsletter. It's chock full of news for those interested in TRYING to break down the doors in Follywood. (Hint: that's even tougher than getting a publishing contract.)

While cruising around his Act Four site, sign up for his newsletter. It's free.

I thought I'd share some of his news. The RWA Interview he did last summer is now posted online. Interesting reading.

Takeaway Truth

Broaden your writing horizons by studying other narrative forms.

Quick Tip: Historical Research

Since I'd previously blogged about genealogy research, I started thinking about what an amazing job my mother did when she compiled our family history several years ago. It was time consuming and arduous and took her years of painstaking research, much of which included scouring historical documents using Microfiche in libraries. Winding those film reels and scrolling slowly through the film was time consuming and hard on the eyes.

She could certainly have made use of the Internet and sites like genealogy search to make her research easier.

Takeaway Truth

If you have a need to comb through records and documents like historical passenger registries, census records, death certificates, turn of the century newspapers, and such, let your fingers do the clicking on the Internet.

Removing Musty Book Smell

I buy a lot of old books. Sometimes, the stale musty odor is just too nasty to overcome. That's why I was glad to read a hint from Heloise on how to get that smell out. And it's as simple as sprinkling baking soda through the pages.

You can use baking soda or cornstarch. Sprinkle it on the pages, place the book in a Ziplok bag and let it set, sealed, for a week. Then just remove it from the bag, shake the powder out, and the book should smell normal.

However, do NOT use baking soda on antique or damp books because it might harm old paper.

Takeaway Truth

A bargain book is only a bargain if it pleases all the senses.

Comparison Shop Website Hosting

Last month I told you about, an innovative website that makes it easy for you to comparison shop when trying to choose a website host.

The website helps you find the best website hosting for your specific needs. I can't tell you how important it is to use your consumer shopping skills in selecting a website host.

Their rating system is based on not just price but also on customer satisfaction, reliability, and technical support among other criteria. On the home page, you'll find their top 10 list, but if you want to explore other options, there's a tab that's labeled Directory. Click that and you'll find a list of 25 website hosting companies. You can look at the details of each and be satisfied that you'll find what's best for your site.

What's really important is that you can read unedited reviews of the prospective web hosting sites by real customers.

Recently, I advised a friend who's an artist trying to start a website to sell his work to check out He did and found a host site that meets his budget so he's now in the process of designing his site. It's that easy.

Takeaway Truth

Always comparison shop your web services because they can vary greatly in cost and in what you get for your money.

Large Print Edition Arrived

I came home for a couple of days and was excited to find a package of author copies for one of the books I contracted for large print rights with Ulverscroft. The publisher did a great job I thought with the edition. Nice cover, good acid-free paper stock, nice blurb on back, etc.

Large Print Books

Ulverscroft is one of the largest publishers of large print editions. They bring the books out under F. A. Thorpe Publishing, Linford Romance Library. These books are usually sold to libraries.

If you want to purchase a copy for a reader who finds large print novels easier on the eyes, I assume you can. Ulverscroft has a website and F. A. Thorpe listings go to it. The ISBN is 978-1-84782-415-8. Of course, you can try your favorite book seller first.

Takeaway Truth

When author copies arrive, whether the book is brand, spanking new or a reprint, the heart swells with emotion, not the least of which is joy and pride.

Travel and Money

Quote for the Week

Ilka Chase, Elephants Arrive at Half-Past Five, 1963, said: Like building a house, travel always costs more than you estimate.

That pretty much sums up today's blog post. You travel; you spend money. Sometimes, you spend more than you thought you would. And you eat more than you do at home.

Takeaway Truth

Make sure you have something other than inches around the waistline to show for your travel dollars. Buy something for your home that you can look at and remember the fun you had when you were traveling and came across that particular oddity.

Climb Your Family Tree

My mother Lucille Dickinson Ainsworth has compiled several books on our family genealogy and on Franklin Parish, Louisiana history. Her books are in the New York Public Library, Mormon Library, and most of the other big libraries that house genealogy collections. The unstinting work she has put in over several decades is unbelievable.

Often, other people ask her how she did it. In fact, she's thinking of starting a Genealogy Club to help others. She did it the hard way, before there were computer data bases set up. I know she'll be interested in family tree maker as a tool to perhaps shortcut some of the arduous research work in genealogy.

The database at contains a vast number of records needed by those searching for their roots. They've got documents from historical passenger lists to census records and everything in between and they try to make your search quick, easy, and as inexpensive as possible.

Oh, by the way, my mom's memoirs Memory Lane: My Sentimental Journey about life from the Roaring Twenties to the New Millennium should be available for purchase next month. Just in time for Christmas gift giving. More later on this.

Takeaway Truth

The Internet has made many research tasks easier to accomplish, and genealogy is one of those.

Still Importing Autumn

We're about six weeks beyond the first day of autumn, but I'm still importing my fall foliage since we, here on the Gulf coast of Texas, have none of our own.

Today's autumn picture is again courtesy of my brother Johnny. This is another part of the Willow Creek Trail in the Wet Mountains above Hardscrabble Pass. Rugged but the slash of yellow of the aspens on the mountain is lovely.

Takeaway Truth

Autumn doesn't reach south Texas until after Thanksgiving, but our lovely mild winters make up for that deficit.

Fall Fashion in Frames

A few weeks ago I told you about the fabulously low - and fashionable - eyeglass frames available online at Zenni As an eyeglass wearer of long-standing, I was blown away by the stylish, yet inexpensive, frames. I can't believe I'd never heard of Zenni before. Apparently, they're very well known. Sometimes I think I must be the last person to know about things.

The frames from Zenni Optical have been discussed on radio and television. You can hear what the syndicated consumer advocate program The Clark Howard Show had to say if you want further proof.

Now, Zenni Optical is back on my radar because they just got in some new frame styles. New frames to a woman who wears glasses is like new high heels to a shoe addict. We want what's new, what's in fashion now, and we want it at a bargain price whether we're talking stilettos or

How they can sell stylish prescription glasses online from $8 is a mystery to me. In the local optical shops, frames start at ten times that much. And those frames are about as stylish as a 1970s midi skirt. If you don't know what a midi was, trust me on this: it wasn't a pretty sight. Fortunately, it died swiftly and sanity returned to women's hemlines.

Our summer here on the Texas Gulf coast is finally yielding to fall, and I need some new glasses to reflect the richer, earthier colors of autumn. Since I don't want to pay a small fortune for frames, I'm clicking over to Zenni as soon as I post this.

Takeaway Truth

Smart chicks, whether shopping for themselves or the men and kids in their lives, know how to stretch a buck and still look fabulous, darling.

Golf Lingo

Welcome to Random Friday. Even though I'm writing and scheduling these blog posts to publish while I'm gone, I'm trying to keep in mind some of the things I'll be doing while I have my nose off the grind stone.

So today's randomness is about golf since my husband and I are probably going to hit a few golf balls while traveling. In case you think I'm a good golfer, you are sooooo wrong. Still, my husband loves the game so I find things about it to tickle my fancy. The lingo is very amusing.

Here's some colorful phrases about the game in case you'd like to have a golfing character in your next book or you write an article about golf.

airmailing the green - hitting the ball over the green

the big dog - the driver, a special golf club for hitting long distances, you hope

dawn patrol - golfers who try to be first on the golf course in the morning

fried egg
- a ball that lands in a sandtrap, making a round depression in the sand with the ball right in the middle

military golf
- a style of play when the player can't control his shots so the ball goes left, then right, then left, etc.

on the dance floor but not close enough to hear the music
- when a ball is on the green but far from the hole

Takeaway Truth

You can find something appealing about every activity if you're motivated to look for it.

Quick Tip: Check Site Status

If you're working on increasing your visibility on the Internet, you need to know if your website or blog is being indexed by Google.

Here's a Google Link to help you discover this. Simply fill in your site URL, click, and then follow the instructions if you want more information.

Takeaway Truth

Google's PageRank
determines where your URL appears in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). You want, at least, to be on the first page for your identity if not the very first listing.

Guest Blogging At Rock The Tower

Starting last week, I'm a guest blogger at Rock The Tower published by Tom Barnes, actor, writer, and hurricane hunter.

Tom and I exchanged emails about Hurricane Ike, and he asked if I'd share some thoughts with him. Of course, when I sling words, I sling far too many. He writes on hurricanes on Wednesday so he's publishing my thoughts in a 3-parter I believe. Part 1 was last week; part 2 is today; part 3 next week.

Takeaway Truth

You meet the most interesting people in the blog world. Visit Tom's Rock The Tower for an interesting perspective on the movie business and the world of hurricane hunting.

Writing World Headlines

Try guessing which 10 authors showed up on a list of the richest authors. Then see if you're correct by reading the Forbes article.

Did you see the HBO debut of the Sookie Stackhouse series? I don't have HBO (One has to draw the line somewhere with the cost of television, doesn't one?) so I haven't had the pleasure. I've read Sookie, and now her creator Charlaine Harris is reaping the rewards of a lot of hard work.

The NY Times Paperback Mass-Market Fiction list has 7 spots occupied by Sookie books, all published by Ace.

Dead Until Dark
Living Dead in Dallas
Club Dead
Dead as a Doornail
Dead to the World
All Together Dead
Definitely Dead

Way to go, Charlaine!

A book I always recommend when I teach writing or speak at workshops/conferences is The Career Novelist by Donald Maass. Guess what? It's available free from his website now. (Thanks to Colleen Thompson for the heads up on this.

Takeaway Truth

Keep up with writing news. Who knows when you may read or hear something that will directly benefit you.

6 Book Tag

Hey, doesn't that sound like a great book title? Or maybe a funky dance? Maryann Miller tagged me. I'm actually away from regular email for a few weeks so I'm late in playing.

6 Things About Me and Books

1. The first book I ever received as a gift from a friend for my birthday was: A Cap for Kathy, a novel about a young nurse. By the way, it did not make me want to be a nurse. Oh, I still own it. It's in my children's bookcase.

2. The first book I can remember weeping over was Rusty, A Cocker Spaniel. I was in the 3rd grade I think.

3. Favorite movie about a book writer: Romancing The Stone.

4. My favorite book manuscript that I wrote: In the Garden of Memory. So far unpublished.

5. I reread books because as you grow and change, what you get from books changes. Six books that I've read several times: Watchers, also Lightning, by Dean Koontz; Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier; Artifact by Gregory Benford; The Forever King by Molly Cochran and Warren Murphy; The Career Novelist by Donald Maass.

6. Only in the last few years have I been able to read a book, place a bookmark, close the book, and set it aside until I again have free time to read. Prior to that, I simply could not put a book down until I'd finished it even if it meant staying up all night to read. I'm either growing as a person, or I'm not finding as many compelling page turners as I did in previous decades. Or maybe I just need my sleep more now than before.

I tag:

Michael Haskins

Sweet But Sassy Adina

Bill Crider

Cait London

L. C. Hayden

Tell 6 book things about yourself.

Takeaway Truth

Memes are fun but I won't hold it against you if you don't join in because some people view these as annoying as chain letters. (On the subject, don't send me one because I absolutely will NOT participate whether it's by snail or email.)

Travel Is Change

Quote for the Week

Miriam Beard said: Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

Writing is a record of change - change in character and change in situation for example. Often, reading creates changes in the reader when concepts are embraced and assimilated.

So I consider traveling as another useful tool in the writer's tool kit. Writers use travel to add to their inventory of images of places and people; sounds of voices - languages, dialects, pronunciations - and music; smells of exotic foods; and so much more.

I'm traveling for the next few weeks. Arrangements have been made. The house sitter has reported for duty. Blank notebooks and pens have been packed along with the digital camera and my Alpha Smart.

Fear not that you'll miss my thoughtfully slung words while I'm gone. I've scheduled posts to magically appear each day on Sling Words. I may not reply instantly to any comments, but be patient. As soon as I have ready access to the Internet, I'll get back to you.

In the meantime, like I say on my website: Live fully...laugh deeply. I'm off to ramble wherever my fancy, and my darling husband, takes me. See you in a couple of weeks.

Takeaway Truth

Getting away from the office is good for the body, the soul, and the writing muse.