New Book, New computer, New Year

I’m looking out my window at a sparkling lake beyond a few trees, native greenery, and my husband pulling weeds down at the beach. Typical sweater weather in Florida, a bright day in the upper 60s.
My latest book, Bubbles of Time, is out, though I haven’t received my copies yet.

It is available on Amazon as hard copy and ebook. I have to pinch myself, have I actually written five novels? Created these stories out of my own mind?

Amendment; I received my books but they were printed from a previous draft, not the one with my last corrections. And I thought the year was off to a good start. Anyway, I emailed my publisher, and he will correct it. 2021 was a weird year, yet we did manage to do some some travelling.

After two shots an a booster, we managed to get on a cruise to the eastern Caribbean before the virus spiked on cruise ships. Cruising is my favorite way to travel, even though we had to wait an hour in line to go through all the boarding hoops. Unpack once, great food we couldn’t afford in a restaurant with a chance to try new foods, and when I feel the movement of the ship, I feel connected to the Earth that is all of us.

Our train ride to D.C. rocked more than the cruise ship. All we can do is live day to day and always wear a mask out. Every day I’m thankful I made it through the previous one. My new book is coming along. Ping, furred humanoid alien, is trying to warn her fellow citizens about the disrepair their underwater habitat is in, but the ruling chiefs refuse to recognize the evidence. First, they were on Peace, the world of my previous characters, now they have been moved to a parallel world.

I have learned much about writing, including this. You must learn the rules, but once you are familiar with them, you can bend them. They are not all set in stone, as some would have you think. My writers group will meet Thursday evening for the first time in three weeks. The library where we meet was closed the day before Christmas and New Year’s. It will be good to see them again. I wish everyone a better year this year.

I apologize for being so late in posting this, but life keeps happening. Will be updating my site soon. Stay tuned.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall — no that was me. Slipped on rain-slick driveway. Don’t do this, not fun. I was lucky, no broken bones or teeth.
Three reasons to not fall on your face.
1. It hurts. A lot. For days and days.
2. It messes up your mouth so you can’t eat. Which may be a good thing, if you’re overweight. I could afford to lose a few pounds. Went to my dentist, no major damage.
3. It keeps you home. Who wants to go out with a raccoon face with a beard and mustache? Of bruises.

Fortunately, my retired PT husband picked me up, bandaged me, and gave me lots of TLC. Several days later, I can bite soft stuff, like bread, and chew. I ate a lot of ice cream the first few days. Another tiny plus.

Still waiting to hear from my publisher. Still writing. MY husband finished his, so no more typing for a while. Now comes editing and rewriting.

Hurricane season is here in Florida. Elsa will be here tomorrow. We’ll be ready. Surprising, how many aren’t.

Does Your Computer Hate You?

Does your computer balk when you’re trying to get something important done, or have a deadline? Does it just sit there and ignore your taps, ever though you shut it down and rebooted it? Do you want to throw it out the window but you can’t because you NEED it? Yes, I’m considering getting a new computer.

Welcome to the world of computers. I’m just ranting. Why do they keep making them more difficult to use? The improvements don’t make it easier, either. I want the
old editor back. This one sucks big time.

Enough of that. As the year oozes on… Working on the new book and on Greg’s book Spending too much time puzzling. Yard is growing, mostly all by itself. This happens here in Florida. Going to our writers’ group again. Nice, except we have to wear masks in the library, where we meet.

Have you been vaccinated?

We have, and it’s taken a weight off our minds. My husband no longer gets paranoid when he goes shopping, and I actually went into a store myself. The more people who get their shots, the safer all of us will be, in spite of all the misinformation floating around. Listen to the scientists, not gossip.

I feel much safer, though still have to be careful, enough that we went for a weekend at the beach, to just relax. I’m a beach gal at heart, grew up in Sothern California, and missed the beach enormously. I’d got to the point I could hardly do anything, but now I’m back.

I’ve signed and returned my contract for my next book and have started actually writing another. Always one more. Can’t write just one. Although Margaret Mitchell did. Gone with the Wind.

I’m actually spending more time on my husband’s book, typing and editing, printing and matching it to the computer version, making a list of chapters, always useful for a novel. Give you an easy list too look at, when printed out, to see if you have them in the right order, not duplicated or something missing. For that, he cooks dinner four times a week.

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What’s the Difference Between Writing a Novel and a Short Story?

The length, obviously. Not so obvious is how you think about them. A short story is about a single, or short series of events, usually taking place in a short period of time involving one or two characters, On the other hand, a novel can cover anywhere from a day to a century or more, and involve many characters.

In the two short stories I’ve just finished writing, one has just one main character and two others, and the other has two main characters and three other named characters. My latest novel has two main characters, a dozen secondary characters, and many more lesser ones.

So when you think about a story you’re going to write, you think of of what happens to a single person in a single basic situation, which may have several offshoots.

A novel is much more complicated. There’s the basic, underlying situation, For instance: Harry Potter has to go through school to learn what he needs to know to take down the archvillain. In order to do that, he has to deal with a whole bunch of smaller problems.

For a novel you start with the basic need, (Dorothy wants to get home, in murder mysteries the detective has to find the culprit, in War of The worlds, they have to get rid of the Martians.).

But there’s going to be many smaller problems along the way that the protagonist must overcome. You have a path from where your hero is to where he needs to be, and you need to put up a whole bunch of road blocks. This takes a lot of planning. How do other people/beings hinder him? How do his mistakes hinder him? How does the environment hinder him?

Remember, no hero is perfect. Coming up with a background for two or three people is easier than for a whole bunch. And you do need to know all about your main characters and lot about secondary ones.

One of my stories, the longer one, I’d originally written back in the dark ages, so it was a matter of rewriting and fleshing out my characters. It doesn’t hurt to go over your old stuff; you just might find a gem.

So think about your characters. Ask them what they would do in this situation. Yes, you can talk to them. Pretend you’re sitting down with them in your living room, ask questions, and see what answers come up. You’ll be surprised.

Setting: a story can be set in a single room or a whole world. A novel can be set in one town or the whole universe. Know what your settings look like and let the reader see it.

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Do you Know these odd names

Names are important for writers. Would Voltemort have sounded as evil if he’d been named Bob Jones? What if Darth Vader had been called Joe Vader? Or Scarlett O’hara Molly Jane? Sometimes it’s hard to find the right name for your characters.

On the other hand, some sports teams’ nicknames can be really wild. Such as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the baseball Southern League? Or the Florence Y’alls in the baseball Frontier League. Do you really want to root for a team called the Nuts? The Modesto Nuts in the California League. More to come.

In speculative fiction, we have to come up with name that are different, yet pronounceable, so we can’t just string a series of consonants together. You don’t want to stumble over names when you’re doing a reading. With alien characters, you want the name to sound alien; don’t use ordinary human names.

One of my fellow writers in my critique group, which has been shut down for a year, insisted on using the name ‘Gore’ for his humanoid alien. We didn’t realize until three pages in that he actually was an alien. I kept thinking of the Vice President.

Sometimes you can find a name by happenstance. My character, Roroy, happened that way. I was planning to call him Rory, but accidently typed in an ‘o’. Oh, I said, that’s even better.

Letters
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Who Invented The Alphabet?

Would you believe turquoise miners in the Sinai desert, a part of Egypt, 6000 years ago?

In an article in the January-February 2020 Smithsonian magazine, by Lydia Wilson, she tells of a find by a pair of Egyptologists over a hundred years ago that proposed this. In the mine and a nearby temple they found strange signs, some similar to hieroglyphs, grouped like words.

The couple recognized the signs as an alphabet, but it would take ten years to decipher them and locate their origin. The key was a small, redstone sphynx with an inscription written on it. Finally deciphered, it turned out to read ‘Beloved of Ba’alat’, a Caananite goddess.

The creators took the first letter of the name of the glyph. For example, they saw a picture of an ox, which they called ‘alpha’ and so the letter ‘a’. Also ‘bet’ for house became ‘b’. And so we have ‘alphabet’. As the Caananites’ communities grew and spread around around the Mediterranean Sea, the language spread with them.

According to current day Egyptologist Orly Goldwasser, the temple complex contained detailed lists of the people who worked there on various expeditions. According to her theory (people are still studying this), about 1200 B.C., when the Egyptian, Hittite, and Mycenaean Empires collapsed, due to droughts, invasions, and internal upheavals, the use of the Caananites’ alphabet spread.

Variations of this alphabet, known as Phoenician, the Greek word for the Caananite region, spread from Turkey to Spain, and evolved into our present day alphabet.

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Goodbye, Adios, Adieu 2020

What a year! But it wasn’t all bad. Surely you can find one good moment.

First of all, all of you reading this are still here.

Second, the country and the world are still ticking along, although with hiccups.

Third, we have vaccines, so the end is in sight, although distantly.

Fourth, we have a new president who will work to heal our country.

Fifth, we have optimizm.

Although I still have my best friend/husband and our house, we did lose our 40th anniversary trip on the Danube. My book sales were down because most of my book sales were cancelled. But I won’t complain, because so many more lost so much more.

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Merry Christmas to You

Happy holidays is so blah. Also Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Whatever else you celebrate.

Did you know the Christmas tree originated in Germany in the late 600s? It is said that a British monk was preaching to a group of German druids. To show them the oak tree was not sacred, he chopped it down. It fell on other trees, leaving only a small fir standing. The monk called it a miracle, to convince the druids, and said, “Let us call it Christ’s tree.”

In the fifteen hundreds, the protestant Martin Luther first added candles to a tree, after homemade decorations appeared earlier. In the 1700s, the Christmas trees spread to the rest of Europe and beyond, brought to America by the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Santa Claus is descended from Saint Nicholas. a real person born in Turkey in the early 300s. He became a bishop, was quite generous, and loved children. He became the patron saint of children. He created a tradition of bringing gifts to children on Christmas feast day. He rode on a donkey.

When the Dutch came to America, they called Saint Nicholas ‘Sint Nikolass’ which became ‘Sinterklass’, which soon became Americanized to Santa Claus. They also brought the custom of putting out a wooden shoe filled with straw for the donkey, which was replaced with little gifts from Saint Nicholas. Americanized again, they became stockings hung by the chimney. Stockings held more.

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Where Did Mistletoe Come From?

Ever wonder abut where the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe came from? According to “Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things” by Charles Panati, the custom originated around the second century B.C. in ancient Britain. The Druids celebrated the beginning of winter by burning mistletoe as a sacrifice to their gods.

Mistletoe was also considered a good luck charm and hung in doorways. As a parasite on evergreen trees, if enemies met under such trees, they were obliged to lay down their weapons and forget their differences for a day. It was also used for female infertility and an antidote for poison.

The kissing custom came from Scandinavia, where it belonged to Friggs, goddess of love. Upon the recognition of the official date of December 25, the Church banned the used of mistletoe and substituted holly, the sharp pointed leaves symbolizing Christ’s crown of thorns. The ban lasted throughout the Middle Ages.

The poinsettia originated in Mexico, where it was considered the ‘flower of the blessed night’ because of its resemblence to the Star of Bethlehem. In 1828, Dr. Joel Poinsett brought the plant into the United States, where it was named after him. I have a poinsettia growing outside my bedroom window, where I can see its red leaves.

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