H-Town Reprise: Funny Videos

Okay, I'm still in Houston. More doctor appointments this week for daughter. Too tired today to write a word so I'm entertaining myself with funny videos.

Laughter helps.

Check out Taylor Swift and her backup singing goat in Trouble -- Goat Remix. It's frankly hysterical.

Next up is Bromance. Enough said.

For you Jane Austen fans, here's Jane Austen is My Homegirl, the Downton Abbey Rap.

Takeaway Truth

Gee, what did people do to entertain themselves before there was YouTube?

Rough Week So Far

So far the week has been a disaster. No, I didn't spill coffee on my keyboard, but I might as well have.

I'm in Houston with my daughter. I'll probably be here several days while we make the rounds of doctors.

I'll be back online when I have some time and some sanity.

Takeaway Truth

Life is unpredictable. Don't waste time because you never know when life will throw a curve ball or a chainsaw at you.

Celebrate Reading

I spent the afternoon reading, and enjoyed doing so immensely.

I always feel sorry for someone who says, "I don't like to read." I cannot even understand that statement. Reading is wonderful. You can travel the world in a book. You can learn many things that would be beyond your reach were it not for books.

A Half Dozen Bits of Wisdom

"A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it." ~ William Styron

"Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book." ~ Anonymous

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." ~ Groucho Marx

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." ~ Mark Twain

"Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled This could change your life." ~ Helen Exley

Takeaway Truth

Grab a book and read.

Review: A Baby for Christmas by Susan R. Hughes

Yesterday was rainy and unseasonably cool, considering we've had triple digit temperatures for much of the summer. The cooler day was perfect for reading a Christmas romance. I chose A Baby for Christmas by Susan R. Hughes. This sweet romance was my first by Ms. Hughes, and it did not disappoint.

Blurb It

Paige thought she had her Prince Charming and a happily ever after, but her Prince just wouldn't commit. As time passed, she began to realize that he probably wasn't the man for her. She could see the handwriting on the wall and knew she had to make a change in her life. She took action and weeks later suddenly finds herself single, homeless, and pregnant.

Handsome, kind Ryan, a guy who embodies the best traits of a hero, rescues Paige, opens his home to her -- and finds himself falling head over heels for her. The last thing he wants is to get involved when his plan call for life in another city.

The last thing Paige needs is another man in her life when she can’t seem to untangle herself from the ex-Prince Charming. Yet, Ryan's feelings are definitely reciprocated.

What will it take for Paige to seize control of her own destiny? With a baby on the way, will it take a Christmas miracle to make Paige and Ryan realize that they belong together?

My Take

Paige's insecurities and lack of confidence, stemming from a childhood of benign neglect, have left her with a hunger for stability and a determination to do better by her child and to make sure her child knows it's loved.

Ryan is the perfect hero, and just what Paige needs to be strong enough to confront her shortcomings and be the woman she sees reflected in his eyes.

Both must overcome their respective emotional baggage and learn to trust themselves -- before they can trust each other with the sweet love that grows between them.

Takeaway Truth

If you like sweet romance with appealing characters who have made mistakes and have learned from those mistakes -- with characters who conquer their doubts and move into the future together -- this heartwarming romance is for you.

Is It Raining Men?

I love a rainy day. When I see the rain fall all day long, I start humming some of my favorite songs. There's just something about rainy day music.

The last few weeks here in the Texas Hill Country have been as dry as an overcooked Thanksgiving turkey with triple digit temperatures that make you loathe to leave air conditioning.

Drizzle To Downpour

The rain started during the night and continued until mid-morning. It was lovely so I sat on the porch and had my morning coffee. The rain smells so much better in the country, I guess because there's no pollution to taint it. Softly, the drizzle pattered on the steps leading from the porch, and the trees and coastal bermuda grass seemed to visibly perk up.

Rainy Day Mix

When I came inside, I put on the songs I'd put together a couple of years ago on a CD.

It's Raining Men by The Weather Girls

Want to see the video? I could put The Weather Girls up, but, hey, ladies, how about this one with the "Magic Mike" crew instead.

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 by Bob Dylan

Gosh, I still love this song. Here's a YouTube video that is only audio -- go figure. I guess it had original photography from Dylan's stoned days.

Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan

There's a long version and a short version. This YouTube video with Stevie Ray, one of the greatest guitarists of all time, is the long version.

Who'll Stop The Rain by CCR

Here's the YouTube video of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, Creedence Clearwater Revival. It's mostly the song with stills of CCR.

Have You Ever Seen The Rain? by CCR

Another great song about rain from Creedence Clearwater Revival and YouTube video of CCR. Again, the song with stills of CCR.

Guess I'll finish this post off with Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain by Willie Nelson.

This is the kind of song you play with your iPod set on repeat -- and a big glass of forget-liquor in your hand. Tears are optional. Here's the video. Again, the song with stills of Willie.

Takeaway Truth

Gosh! I love music, and I love YouTube too!

Review: Laura Cardinal Series by J. Carson Black

I previously reviewed Darkness on the Edge of Town (Laura Cardinal Series, Book 1) by J. Carson Black back in April.

This past month, I binged on mysteries. After reading several, I found the second Laura Cardinal mystery that I'd bought back in the spring after reading the first book. (In my review of the first book, I had a quibble with the paranormal element because it was so ambiguous, almost as if the author was testing a paranormal edge but wasn't really committed to it. However, that didn't keep me from wholeheartedly recommending the book.

If you're looking for a sexy, kickass female cop, Laura Cardinal is not your girl. She seems to have no female ego. You'll never catch her primping in front of a mirror or going out of her way to please Tom, the man in her life. She's difficult, reserved, and doesn't seem to have many close friends. Indeed, intimacy is something she avoids, and she doesn't seem to realize that she makes herself isolated. Partly, this is because of her past, and partly it's because she's a criminal investigator with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. She's the one sent to small towns when there's a homicide.

Book 2: Dark Side of the Moon

When Dark Side of the Moon opens, Laura's world is undergoing change -- change she doesn't want, doesn't understand, and doesn't know how to stop. Laura and her insecurities are balanced by her aptitude for her job. In a "ripped from the headlines" story, Laura faces what everyone fears since 9/11.

By book's end, you'll be surprised and saddened, for the other characters and for Laura. You'll also be thoroughly hooked into buying the other books in the series.

Book 3: The Devil's Hour

In The Devil's Hour, Laura has been assigned to the cold case unit. With her usual astute ability to put the pieces of a puzzle together, she's perfect for this new job. In fact, by the end of the book, you'll probably wish she wasn't that good. The inexorable forward motion of the plot made me wish that it wasn't going to end the way it did. Yet the ending was perfect for the story even though it was wrenching for Laura.

Book 4: Cry Wolf

When I finished Book 3, I immediately purchased Book 4 by pre-order. The book published a couple of days later, and I was eager to read it. With this fourth book, it was like visiting a friend and finding her in better circumstances, optimistic even. Laura has another chance for the intimacy she's missed before, but that doesn't stop her from bringing down the bad guys. Cry Wolf may be her best book yet in this series.

All of the Laura Cardinal books are expertly plotted and peopled with believable characters from the creepy to the evil and from the sad to the tragic. Laura with her back problems, her impatience with stupidity, and her dogged determination is someone you can identify with. I won't say much more about the characters because that would reveal too much about the workings of the respective plots.

Takeaway Truth

For an excellent mystery series, choose the Laura Cardinal Series by J. Carson Black.

Country Critters vs. Joan

Living in the country, as I'm doing this summer, has been quite an experience. I love the peace and quiet and the big sky which seems bigger here than in the city. At night, the stars are brilliant with no light pollution to dim them.

But I'm not so crazy about the country critters. If you've been keeping score, here's an update: Critters 4; Joan 2.

That's 2 snakes, 1 scorpion, and 1 armadillo versus little old me. (Of course, I'm not counting the million gophers that inhabit our land nor the quadrillion ants.)


First it was the streaker snake -- about 3 feet long of fast ugliness. It chased a mouse into the garage. Darling hubs was standing in the driveway and saw it unfold. He grabbed a hoe because he couldn't see immediately what kind of snake it was. I happened to open the back door and come out to find him trying to chase the snake out from behind a storage shelf.

The incident was like a cartoon where a hapless character chases another hapless character back and forth. Fortunately, my husband had now identified the snake as a native constrictor that goes after small animals like mice and, I wish, gophers. I grabbed a broom and assisted. Fortunately, the snake found its way out of the garage and into the yard. It hit the grass and was only a black blur as it raced through the coastal bermuda and into the field of wildflowers. In less than 30 seconds, it was gone.  

Snake number 2 was a baby rattler that got caught in a glue trap in the garage that we keep as a last line of defense for the field mice. That was one angry snake -- right by the back door. With my trusty broom, I pushed the trap with the snake in it out of the garage and to the end of the driveway where I left it to other critters to deal with it.


Next up was the scorpion that crawled onto my husband while he was asleep. He awoke, grabbed it and flung it at the wall. Hubby has reflexes like that. Result? One dead scorpion. A big one too.


That brings us to my current problem: an armadillo that is trying to dig to China, beginning at the southwest corner of my house's foundation. This started last week. At first it was some holes in the yard that made us think maybe the deer had been grazing. The next day, there were 2 feet deep holes at various locations around the foundation of our house. It dug so deep that you could see the bottom of the foundation.

In case you don't know, armadillos undermine the foundations of buildings. They can destroy houses if they're allowed to continue digging at will. They kill grass and shrubbery. Scariest of all, they carry leprosy and Chagas' Disease (which can be transmitted to dogs also) to name two. Texas Parks and Wildlife advises you not to even touch an armadillo if you encounter one.

Scientists validated their theory that armadillos could be possible for the spread of leprosy in the south, and they finally found a genetic link to armadillos. In fact, a recent study said that one in six armadillos in Texas and Louisiana coastal marshes harbor leprosy.

Armadillo Deterrent

Once an armadillo starts feeding in your yard, there's virtually no way to deter it. Death is the only deterrent it seems. So hubby filled the holes in, packed them down, and loaded his .22 pistol. That night, he patrolled periodically, looking for the creature. He found it, shot it twice, and it just looked at him and toddled away into the dark.

Hubby left for Canada, leaving me here to deal with it. Next night, the armadillo attacked that corner, digging down about 2 1/2 feet. Then it moved to the other side of the yard and dug a similar hole under the concrete pad where the air conditioning unit sets. Then another hole under the propane tank.

Long Story Short

Too late to make this long story short. I visited with my neighbors who had returned from vacation. Their yard has been dug beneath the foundation too. Of the few houses here, every yard has been attacked.

So I got the big flashlight, set it next to the .22 pistol, and assumed the role of guardian. If there are any animal rights people reading this, don't bother telling me that I shouldn't kill the animal. There's no other way.

No, I'm not going to try to catch it and take it away to be released elsewhere. I won't risk getting any of the diseases it carries even if I were foolhardy enough to try to catch the critter that has formidable claws.

I'll stick with the subsonic .22 bullets until I can talk to the Sheriff and see if it's all right to discharge a .380 or a 9mm. A shotgun kicks too much for me.

Takeaway Truth

So that's my exciting report from the country for this week. Anyone feel like singing the theme song to Green Acres? (There must be a book or at least a scene in this country adventure. Right?)

Suspension of Disbelief

I was reading a book the other day and grumbling as I read because the characters kept doing such stupid things. I don't like stupidity, and I really don't like when there's no good motivation for being stupid. I just couldn't buy into the story, and this was a big name author!

That started me analyzing what made the story and characters inaccessible to me -- what kept me from that all-important state of suspension of disbelief.

Remember Samuel Taylor Coleridge from high school English Lit class? He wrote the poem Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Of course, I learned in college English Lit that he would probably be diagnosed bipolar in today's world, not to mention that he had a lifelong opium habit. The opium probably explains some of his writing.

I'm digressing. Back to the willing suspension of disbelief, a phrase coined in 1817 by Coleridge. He thought that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a story, no matter how fanciful, that the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the story. In Coleridge's opinion, that suspension of disbelief was something created by the writer with the emotional truth he injected into the story.

Opinions Abound

Do you agree with Coleridge? Or do you agree with the popular opinion that developed in the latter part of the 20th century which shoved responsibility for achieving suspension of disbelief onto the reader, rather than the writer to create it by his skill. Did that happen because readers were more open to embracing fantastic premises?

Writer's Viewpoint

I think as writers we always look at situations from a writer's viewpoint. I don't think readers look at things the same way. For instance, if a writer is trying to create a situation in which the protagonist does something most people wouldn't do, the writer agonizes over how to make it believable to the reader. The writer jumps through all kinds of mental hoops to create a situation in which readers will suspend their disbelief and get involved in the story.

Reader's Viewpoint

Actually, I don't think most readers (who are non-writers) ever really think about that. They don't shop for books, picking up one after the other, with the thought, "No, I won't read that because it's too unbelievable." Or, "yes, I can suspend my disbelief and read this."

Otherwise, there would be no paranormal sales whatsoever or paranormal TV shows -- just look at the long list of TV shows with fantastical premises. Probably all book sales would suffer if readers were that analytical. Fewer romance, mystery, horror, everything in fact. When a reader wants a mystery, the reader probably doesn't pick up a book, read the blurb, and think: I don't believe the reason this sleuth is involved in the story.

Bottom Line

Regardless of the genre, readers follow the thought process of: "ah, this sounds intriguing." Or it doesn't sound interesting and they don't buy. Readers don't buy books based on whether the reason that the sleuth becomes involved suspends their disbelief. They buy based on the way the story or the character resonates with them.

I think this is true for every genre and may explain why writers are often shocked by huge sales on books they find, well, inferior. Those stories found an audience because some aspect resonated with readers. I think, as writers, we lose sight of the fact that storytelling ability often trumps writing skill. We get caught up in the mechanics of building a better mousetrap in hopes that the world of readers will beat a path to our door when maybe we should invest more in emotional truth -- in the human interest part of the equation.

Takeaway Truth

What do you think? What puts you in that state of being carried away by the story and its characters?

From Hollywood With Love

What's America's most popular export? Probably movies. Right?

My online friend Maddie -- Madison Smith -- operates a great website for Hollywood Memorabilia. Actually, Hollywood Memorabilia is the name of the site, and it's the number one destination for authentic Hollywood entertainment memorabilia and collectibles.

I confess an affection for movie posters. In my kitchen here at the rancho, I have a large framed black and white poster of Clint Eastwood as Josey Wales from the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales. Actually this was a gift to my husband from our youngest daughter, the artist, who inherited my weakness for movie posters. (Sidebar: Every woman who has seen this poster always says: "If you decide you want to get rid of this, I'll buy it from you." No way.)

One of artist daughter's projects in college was to create a movie poster. She chose to create a poster for her favorite book Dune. The resulting poster is stark and evocative -- and a keeper. I currently have it, but I may let her have it back for the media room in her new house.

Great Resource

Most of us aren't artists so we have to buy our movie posters. Luckily, Maddie makes it easy with her website which has a great selection of signed and unsigned movie posters as well as autographs and posterprint and masterprint versions of domestic and international cinema posters and a whole lot more.

She's also got engraved and framed film and celebrity collectibles and a bunch of signed items like albums and music posters, drumheads, drum sticks, instruments, photographs, and, gosh, too much to list here.

Takeaway Truth

When I watched the movie Argo, I realized again how movies affect every country in the world and cross all cultural lines. A movie poster isn't just an advertisement; it's a piece of our collective culture.

(At least that's what I'm going to tell my husband when I buy the Tombstone poster, "Justice is Coming.")


Darling Hubby is off to Canada today. He'll be on a special project there for a while. I'm trying to make room in my calendar to visit our friendly neighbor to the north since he'll be spending so much time there.

Unfortunately, that's proving difficult because, in a couple of weeks, I'll be monitoring the remodeling project on the townhouse we bought. When that's finished, I'll be moving back to Houston.

I'd like to visit Canada, land of Kobobooks through which I sell quite a few of my contemporary romance novels. Seriously, Canada has stunning vistas and beautiful cities that should make it a tourist destination for everyone.

Unfortunately, most people can't tell most Canadians from Americans. I looked for a wonderful quotation about Canada, but I found few. Most quotes are of a joking nature or, worse, with a negative edginess relating to Canada's shortcomings.

In fact, Helen Gordon McPherson said something that is illustrative of most quotations: "Canadians have been so busy explaining to the Americans that we aren't British, and to the British that we aren't Americans that we haven't had time to become Canadians."

Still, I prefer to shine a positive light on my Sunday subjects for Written Wisdom so I'll leave you with what Churchill said about Canada: "There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people."

Takeaway Truth

Right now, it's 95 degrees F. outside -- in the shade. Today would be a great time to visit Canada where, I understand, the temperature is 67. That sounds wonderful!

Women Who Lead

Where would the world be without women and men who have a greater vision of what the world can be and who then set out to bring that vision into reality?

I'm proud to know a woman like that. Holly Adams is an actor who was the talent behind two of my audiobooks. Holly produced and was the voice actor for: Old Enough To Know Better and The Trouble With Love (available on Audible and iTunes). She did an amazing job in bringing the characters and books to life.

However, I'm not hear to talk about my audiobooks. I'm here to tell you what my amazing friend Holly is doing now. She's going to Afghanistan. No, she's not a soldier. No, she doesn't have to go to such a dangerous place. She's going because through her talent, she can make a difference in the lives of women and children there. This will be Holly's second trip to war-torn Afghanistan. Her previous experience is what motivates her to return.

In Holly's Own Words

"... bring arts-based community outreach & education to empower teachers and improve lives of women and children with the Afghan Friends Network.

This year, I have the honor of returning to Afghanistan with one of the board members of Afghan Friends Network (http://afghanfriends.net), a nonprofit delivering sustainable programs in education and cultural exchange that nurture potential, promote dignity, and support bold steps in Afghanistan. We will also meet with key stakeholders to learn what's needed next, and what we can do from North America as well."

Please Help

Yes, Holly is going with the Afghan Friends Network, an all-volunteer grassroots effort working "to improve the lives of women and children in Afghanistan and empower educators in a country that has been ravaged for nearly 30 years by war and political strife."

That means that she must bear all the expenses so she has mounted an indiegogo campaign. She needs donations, but she also needs as many people as possible to "like" and share because if the news is passed around enough, it will find enough small donors to make the trip happen.

Holly's indiegogo campaign link:


As of today, she's raised $1,461.00, but she needs $5,500.00. There are 13 days left in the campaign.

Won't you donate to Holly's travel fund? Any amount is welcome. By donating, you'll help her reach out to people who desperately need some inspiration and the belief that life can be better.

Takeaway Truth

Please Tweet and Facebook the link to this post. Pass it on in its entirety via your own blog. Help Holly get to Afghanistan.

Review: Shelter by Harlan Coben

I was anxious to read Shelter (Book One): A Mickey Bolitar Novel by Harlan Coben because I've read all of the Myron Bolitar novels by Coben and adore the characters in those novels. I feel as if Myron, his best friend Win, Esperanza, and the other characters are people I know.

So when Coben decided to branch off into Young Adult Fiction, I was eager to follow -- especially when his YA is a series starring Myron Bolitar's nephew Mickey. Of course, I hoped that Myron and the gang would make appearances in this new series.

Book Details

Shelter is available in: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, and Kindle Editions with the Kindle Edition priced lowest at $7.49.

Publisher: Penguin
320 pages
Copyright 2011
Lending Not Enabled

Blurb It

If you're a Myron Bolitar fan, you already know that his brother was mentioned belatedly in the series, surprising readers who thought Myron was an only child. When Coben decided to go YA, he brought Myron's brother on to the scene, only to kill him off almost immediately. That was the setup that resulted in Myron's nephew Mickey coming to live with him.

Mickey witnessed his father's death and watched his mom come apart at the seams. With his Uncle Myron's help, he gets his mom into rehab. Mickey has all the usual resentment toward the uncle who was never part of his life. Combine that with the usual teen angst, and you have a mixed up kid who's convinced life sucks. Throw in being the new kid at school, and Mickey is thoroughly miserable.

Meeting Ashley makes him think life is improving, but she disappears. Determined to find out what happened to her, Mickey follows the clues. With the help of two new friends who practically wear the loser label,  Mickey finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that makes him question everything, including the death of his father.

I enjoyed the book and its plot and characters. My only quibble with Shelter is that Coben uses descriptions originally used by Myron and friends. For instance, Myron is known for describing beautiful women as knee-knockers. Mickey uses this label too, but it's anachronistic for Mickey's generation. Because of the way the characterization is constructed, it's also not a phrase he'd pick up from his uncle whom he barely knows. Other than a few things like this, the book was a delight.

Takeaway Truth

If you're looking for a solid mystery, don't pass up Shelter (Book One): A Mickey Bolitar Novel.

Abandon Facebook Or Not

Should you be on Facebook? This is a tough question, and each of us must answer it so gather as much intel about the situation as possible in order to make a smart decision.

The latest updated Facebook Terms of Service prompt some questions from me today. I hope you'll leave your opinion about Facebook and its changes in Comments to help others as they confront the issue of using Facebook.

Facebook Questions

1. Do you use Facebook?

2. If so, do you analyze what's happening when you get notices about Terms of Service changes?

3. If you do read the changes, do you then make changes to your FB account?

4. If you once used Facebook and abandoned it, why?

5. If you have declined to use Facebook, why?

The most recent round of changes has created a furor. In fact, there are some Facebook users who have asked the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to stop the policy changes.

If you want to learn more about the complications of staying on Facebook, visit Facecrooks, a cautionary website with many articles that address the constant Policy changes. If you want to stay on Facebook, the website will teach you how to do it with as much security as possible.

Takeaway Truth

Social Media is big business. If you sign on, your social media account not only contributes to their revenue but also invades your privacy.

Unplug & Embrace Leisure

George Eastman, who developed the handheld camera and who founded the Eastman Kodak Company, said: "What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are."

What You Have

Work puts a roof over our heads, food on the table, and provides for the necessities, and, hopefully, some of the luxuries of life.

What You Are

Leisure puts fun, love, and friendship into our lives and helps us grow as individuals and as part of society. We learn more; we expand our horizons. In the end, we contribute more to our worlds, and, in the end, that benefits the world at large.

The unfortunate thing for most people today is that leisure time is vanishing. Weekends once were spent on home and yard maintenance, family activities, reading and hobbies—in other words, mostly on fun and personal growth.

Work Never Ends

Now weekends find people catching up on email, updating blogs and websites, and other activities designed to get a jump on the work week. For those who are self-employed, weekends have become the time to work on marketing and promotion, correspondence, filing, and other clerical work.

For entrepreneurs, work never ends. There's always something to be done so the self-employed person is always torn between family and business—between fun and work. As a self-employed person, I know that it's hard to unplug on the weekends, but this year I've tried very hard to do that.

Sometimes I succeed at ignoring email and blogging and reading that next marketing book and implementing its ideas. Sometimes, I look at slumping sales and mentally castigate myself for not working harder.

Life Balance

There just aren't any easy answers, but I try to remember this. If I'm lying on my death bed, am I going to regret that I didn't work more... work harder? Or will I regret that I didn't spend more time with those I love... that I didn't have more fun?

Takeaway Truth

How do you answer that question?

Deciphering Prescriptions

Deciphering the meaning of the doctor's squiggles on a prescription need not be difficult with the handy-dandy chart below. Once you get past the notoriously bad handwriting, the rest is easy.

Every week I'm going through a box of clutter from the dozen boxes I carted up here to store. I came across an article I'd torn our of a newspaper years ago that explains all those Latin words abbreviated on the prescriptions doctors write. No need to be puzzled by the esoteric words any longer. Just check the chart below.

Latin Prescription Vocabulary

Rx (prescription) = recipe

a.c. = ante cibum = before meals

p.c. = post cibum = after meals

č = cum = with

s (s with a line over it -- can't find the proper HTML mark) = sine = without

d = dies = day

b.i.d. = bis in die = 2 times a day

t.i.d. = ter in die - 3 times a day

q.i.d. = qauter in die = 4 times a day

p.r.n. = pro re nata = as needed

h.s. = hora somni = bedtime

O.D. = oculo dextro = right eye

O.S. = oculo sinistro = left eye

O.U. = oculo utro = in each eye

p.o. = per os = by mouth

git = gutta = drop

Takeaway Truth

There you have it. Latin medical jargon demystified.

Let's Mambo! The Art of Editing

I'm doing the self-editing mambo today. Trust me, it's not nearly as much fun as the horizontal mambo!

Let's Mambo

When I have a tedious task to perform, like editing, I try to put a funny face on the task. Right about now, you may be wondering what the self-editing mambo. That's where you dance through your manuscript, page by page, trying 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. The problem is that it's easy to spot these problems in other writers’ work but not so easy in your own writing. Seeing a mistake is, to illustrate my answer, is a hoarse of a different choler. (Get it?)

Blind Spots

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 other;, 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. Because our brains 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.

Brain Is Programed

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!

Others Aren't Blinded

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. 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 Solution

What’s the answer? You can’t depend upon the kindnesses of friends all the time.

1. 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.

2. Make use of a software that checks your manuscript. There are many available.

3. Hire a freelance editor.

Correct Answer

Of course, the correct answer is: all of the above.

Always allow yourself time to rest your manuscript after you complete it. After that period of rest, begin your proofing process. You’ll be amazed how the mistakes leap from the page. Complete the process with the services of a freelance editor.

Yes, you're impatient to get it on some agent or editor's desk or in the queue for self-publishing, but, trust me on this, you'll just be shooting yourself in the foot if you send it out or publish it before it's gone through the proofing process.

Takeaway Truth

Many years ago there was a commercial for wine with the tag line: "We will sell no wine before its time." (I think the sense of the vow means its time as in the state of completion when it's ready to go out into the world.)

As a writer, a similar policy is good: "We will send no manuscript before its time."


We are driving today. We went to Corpus Christi, the beautiful city  south of us, down on the Gulf Coast, for the weekend.

We decided to drive back to the Rancho today and spend Monday recuperating from too much fun. To most Texans a 5 hour drive isn't considered much of a trip. I mean this is a state of vast distances.

You can start the morning at the Texas-Louisiana border, drive west all day and still be in Texas when night falls.

Sometimes when we're in a hurry to get home, we travel the interstates. That's when I think of what Charles Kuralt said: "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything."

Takeaway Truth

That's why we take the less-traveled road as often as possible.