Help Me Choose a Title for My NaNoWriMo 2015 Novel

Marsha & Kalev
This is me, not ten-year old Jenny, but I love dogs, especially rescued ones. None of Kalev’s toys provide incentive for trying on a new raincoat and hat.

Ten year-old Jenny Hatfield resents her dad for moving her family to the Southern end of the Willamette Valley to take a new job. She hasn’t lived in Pine Forest, Oregon three days before she detests it. Her friends and family live in Portland, Oregon. The kids in the rural logging town are mean. The dreary November weather overshadows her sunny spirit.

Ongoing family problems crescendo after the move. The love she craves the most, from her father, continues to elude her. Born with a double cleft lip, (yeah, that part is me – only.1% of the U.S. population would know what it’s like.) Jenny confirms her unspoken sense that her father’s disappointment in her imperfection drives his constant criticism of her. After spending her life trying to win his approval, she runs out of ideas.

Riding her bike home from school on windy Millwood Drive, Jenny saves an Airedale/Poodle puppy from certain death. She hopes her life in Pine Forest will take a turn for the better. Her neighbor, son of a logger, Todd Paul, happens along to help her. He seems like a promising friend until the class debate begins and Sandy Lassiter moves into their trailer park.

Always fighting for what seems right, Jenny finds herself scrambling to find someone in her class who wants to join her team in the class debate. When choosing sides, she never considered that anyone in the enlightened era of the 1970s would choose not to protect the environment. In the rural logging town of Pine Forest livelihoods hung in the balance over the national debate between protecting the endangered white spotted owl and the local economics of the logging industry. Emotions sparked flames she had not anticipated.

 

Not you , Kalev.
Not you , Kalev.

She finds love and acceptance where it is, and stops struggling to produce it where it is not.

So now the title problem remains. Catchy titles help sell books. Will the title A New Home For Wynn work? I brainstormed another, but what you think?

You can always reach me at tchistorygal@gmail.com, or like me on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn. I’m always listening for good vignettes and ideas to use in my  books. Write me your stories. 🙂

Three Easy Tips To Spice Up Dialogue Elementary Students Can Learn

writing with students

What we don’t teach students – and I did not know to teach – surprised me as I’ve studied how to improve my writing to publish my work.  As a teaching consultant, I wrote constantly.  As a teacher I thought I did a good job teaching students how to extend their thinking into writing.  I taught them general principles that worked for both non-fiction and fiction writing.  But I missed these EASY steps to make dialogue more interesting.

1.  Add body language.  

Body language, facial expressions, and unspoken communication constitute an estimated 70% of what people understand.   But readers can’t see the characters.

Ask students to describe angry, sad, happy or worried.  Include this description before or after the quotation.

Notice how the body language helps make the dialogue more interesting in this scene.  Tani invited her friend Vanessa to move in with her after fire burnt down her house.

“You have problems, Vanessa, but at least you have Jesus.”

“True enough, even if I am not great about going to church.” Vanessa looked down and started picking at her split ends.

Tani changed the subject.  Why don’t you come stay with me for a while, Ness?” She looked around living room, with lace curtains, and colorful couch. Everything was in its place. Tani pursed her lips together in a tight confident smile and tilted her head as she glanced from one side of the room to another.

Vanessa backed away from her a couple of steps.   It’s sweet of you to open your home, but Babe, you would  kill me after one or two nights! I’m not easy to live with. I would mess up your routines!”

“My routines are helpful!” Tani put her hands on her hips. “You’re just jealous because I can find things like my glasses and robe!”

“You got me on that one Tani.”

Twisting her hair, Tani broached the subject Vanessa shied away from.  “We could go to that new senior singles group at church together if you stayed here for a while. You know I hate to go alone, and you are so friendly.”

In addition to the website, I google images and try describing them to get the right emotional effect.

What do these movements mean?

Websites like this help students (LIKE ME) describe body language for various emotions, and remind me what certain movements mean.

silence

  1. Silence speaks louder than dialogue. In counseling, as in the written word, silence carries the heaviest loads. Tension is palpable, and I would bet if you have not read Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, you will go check it out now.

“Does Eliza mean nothing to you?” Miss Rose rebuked him.

“That’s not the point. Eliza committed an unpardonable offense against society, and she must pay the piper.”

“As I have paid for nearly twenty years?”

A frozen silence fell over the dining room. The family had never spoken openly about Rose’s past, and Jeremy was not even certain that John knew what had happened between his sister and the Viennese tenor…

  1. Add interruptions to dialogue. Barriers and interruptions also add tension to already tense situations. The conversation in the dining room continued. As readers we are still reeling from Miss Rose’s secret revelation when Isabel plays the next dialogue card.

“Paid what, Rose? You were forgiven, and protected. You have no reason to reproach me.”

“Why were you so generous with me but cannot be with Eliza?”

“Because you are my sister and it is my duty to protect you.”

“Eliza is like my own daughter, Jeremy!”

“But she is not. We have no obligation to her; she does not belong to this family.”

“Oh, but she does!” Miss Rose cried.

“Enough!” the captain interrupted, banging on the table with his fists as plates and cups danced.

Interruptions might also be people coming in at the wrong time.  No one was more skillful at interrupting than Kramer.  Dialogue with Kramer around never got boring.

Distractions make keep a long conversation from being boring.
Distractions make keep a long conversation from being boring.

Have students write dialogue as they normally would leaving plenty of room between each speech.  Then have them go back and add one of these three techniques.  They might do the same to another writer’s dialogue.

** History Teachers – try this to spice up a history lesson after reading a piece of non-fiction text.  Have the students create a dialogue between important players in the event they are studying.  Then have them go back and add in these techniques.

If you liked these tips James Scott Bell has many more in his book How to Write Dazzling Dialogue:  The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript. 

The 7 Tools of Dialogue by James Scott Bell, found in Writers’ Digest

Images from Google.

Easy Changes to Spice Up Dialogue that You Can’t Teach Elementary Students

Elementary teacher

After retiring from over twenty years in education, I discovered that I’ve been writing dialogue incorrectly. Not only have I been writing it wrong, I taught it wrong. In my defense, I would not WANT elementary students to know some of these secrets.

Woman and two young children outdoors holding volleyball and smi

  1. To write great dialogue EVERYBODY fights – Yikes! As a teacher, I mediated fights all day. I hate fighting, but as an author, if characters don’t fight or at least disagree, it’s hard to tell them apart. Intensity can vary from teasing to screaming.  I tried it.

no pictures

Tani enjoys arts and crafts, home decorating, and shopping. Vanessa suffers from depression over losing  her home to a fire, and starting over again.

“You need pictures.” Tani declared.

“I had pictures.”

They’re gone, Ness. Your place has no personality. Let’s go shopping.”

This wasn’t a huge fight, but it helped to set the scene, and made it a little more interesting than just saying.  Vanessa had no pictures on her wall, and needed to go shopping.

Hazel

From The Fault in our Stars by John Green, sixteen year old Green Hazel has terminal cancer, and her mother is trying to help her through depression.

“I refuse to attend Support Group.

“One of the symptoms of depression is disinterest in activities.”

“Please just let me watch America’s Next Top Model. It’s an activity.”

“Television is a passivity.”

“Ugh, Mom, please.”

“Hazel, you’re a teenager. You’re not a little kid anymore. You need to make friends, get out of the house, and live your life.”

“If you want me to be a teenager, don’t send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot.

“You don’t take pot, for starters… You’re going to Support Group.”

“UGGGGGGGGGG.”

elementary writing

  1. Cut out words especially off the beginning of dialogue. Teachers have to pull words out of elementary students to get efforts like. “I have a cat. My cat is gray.” We struggle to teach them to add adjectives, adverbs and connecting words to make their writing more interesting. Then teacher becomes a writer, and the word on the street is, “Less is more.” I tried this with my character, Sarah, who is always in a hurry. Even Vanessa improved with a few cuts to her tendency to wordiness.

So, I thought it was just a gimmick at first,” she had told Sarah during their daily phone call the next day.

Well, did you even check up on their credentials?” Vanessa had visualized Sarah with one hand on her hip and her eyes rolling.

Of course, I looked them up online. I think they’re legitimate.” Vanessa played Spider Sol while they talked.

“Never mind, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it tomorrow. I’ve got a call. I’ll talk to you later.”

According to James Scott Bell, shorter sentences speeds up action.  What do you think?

fire
“The fire is raging out of control,” shouted 4’s chief. “Don’t go in there.”  (DUH!)
  1. Use dialogue to reveal the unknown not the known.  Dialogue is not an excuse to be redundant. Eliminate repetitive information. On the other hand, elementary teachers spend all day diverting disaster by repeating known information. I changed from teaching fourth to first grade. I was not ready for all the repetition I needed in my dialogue.

giving directions

“Put your pencils at the top of your paper so I will know when you’re done.” Without this reminder, pencils might work as a drumstick, baton, or a sword.

“Put your pencils, down.” You think they learned it the first time, but looking around, you see papers with extra drawings, drawings on someone else’s paper, and in worst cases, drawings on the desk.

This is not the case for authors. They must not show something that either the readers or the characters already know.  I crossed out “duh” words in my next attempt at dialogue.

Fred, four years Trixie’s junior, could move quickly when necessary, but not fast enough to avoid eight ounces of water that sprayed him from the waist down, when Trixie got mad during her birthday party.

The party’s chatter died suddenly to see how Fred would handle his soaking trousers. He stood up and undid his belt and unbuttoned his top button.

“Trixie, you got Fred’s pants all wet,” Fred’s girlfriend Edith said.

“Guess I’d better take these wet pants off!”

The crowd gasped in unison.

?????????????????????????????????????????

These seem like minor adjustments, but as I read over my manuscript, I found almost every conversation sounded better when I followed these spicy tips: provoke characters into fighting, cut their words short, and don’t use dialogue to repeat information everyone already knows.

Thank you Google for all these pictures.

If you liked these tips, you’ll love the book by James Scott Bell, How to Write Dazzling Dialogue:  The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript.

Dazzling Dialogue

Thanks to my new friends, Catherine and Irene who “liked” me on TC History Gal Productions.  Hope others will join me as well even though there are no prizes that I know of besides getting better acquainted.  🙂

Book Reviews: Peter Abrahams Collection

After I read Steven King’s, On Writing, I thumbed through his suggested reading list at the end of the book.  Granted he published his book ten years ago, so these are not the most up-to-date books.  Probably  voracious readers have already heard of Peter Abrahams, but I started at the top of the alphabetized list, so I started reading his books.  He does what I haven’t even come close to mastering.  He writes descriptions, metaphors newer and fresher than clean socks, similes as puzzling as a Sudoku, which I never work out correctly no matter how much scratching I do along the sides.  If I had to categorize Abrahams’ books, my guess is that they fit best as drama or mysteries.

Lights Out

In Lights Out Abrahams chose a wrongfully imprisoned, vengeful murderer as the hero.  This poor man’s mother neglected him.  His older brother set him up, lied to him and abandoned him, leaving “Nails” to serve his entire sentence in prison for something he never did.   Of course, he killed a few bad guys in prison that picked on him, which kept him locked up.  When he eventually emerged, looking younger and more fit than his outside colleagues, he looked for his errant brother.   Nails seemed dumb, but you had a feeling he would solve the mystery of why he went to prison, and get the good-looking woman in the end.  You wondered if his brother would get caught, and by whom. He did, but not in any way I would have expected, or chosen to read, for that matter, but it kept me reading.  No matter what he did, Nails’ brother got an appropriate comeuppance, but not one you’d wish on your worst enemy.

Revolution #9

Revolution #9, published in 1992, told the classic story of a smart woman marrying a man she thought she knew, and finding out on her wedding night that she didn’t even know his name, nor the people who came and took him away. The government thought they could close the twenty year old murder case when a counterfeiter blew Charlie’s cover in return for favors he would soon need again. No one had reacted with more surprise than Charlie when the bomb he had built and set under the building exploded, killing the eleven-year-old son of a professor at his college.

Running for his life, abandoned by the real terrorists, Charlie changed his identity, and took cover as a lobster fisherman.  He laid low until he accidentally fell in love.   When he married, news of Charlie’s reappearance twenty years later triggered many levels of events reaching into the depths of the government before the reader discovers the true perpetrators.  But did they get away with it, and let Charlie live?  Only those who read the book know for sure.

Oblivion

I also read Oblivion.  Such a title that might have clued me in to the surprise, but it didn’t.  It’s unclear by the end of the book if it actually has a resolved, happy ending.  It’s sort of happy, but because of the oblivious, I’m not sure.

Petrov is an investigator who wins court cases for his clients.  He’s dramatic and thorough, attacking each case with the tenacity of the locked door on my front loading washer. (That’s another story.)  Somehow along the way, he loses his way, and ends up in the hospital, falls in love with the nurse, and ends up head to head against his past and another love.  Abrahams packs more surprises into each chapter than I have had in my life.  If you read it long ago, you may have forgotten all the turns and twists, but I doubt it.

summer reading

If you haven’t read this trio of mysteries, treat yourself a few days of good reading this summer.  🙂  What are you reading?

 

For the Love of Valentine’s Day

Day 44 My Five Hundred Words Challenge.

Prompt:

It’s Valentine’s Day.
Maybe you think this is a manufactured Hallmark holiday, or you might really believe in the magic of love.
Romantic love is the big cliché for today. So let’s talk about a different kind of love, instead. A love that isn’t all Cupid and conversation hearts.
 Write about a time when love meant stepping out of your comfort zone, making a hard choice, or offering up a sacrifice.

As my blogging friends know, I’ve been writing my first romance/comedy novel since November.   Rewrite number five brings me to this episode that my friend Tonia Hurst suggested that I share with you today for Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day knows no gender in love.  In kindergarten you learn that valentines are for everyone in the room.

Three friends, Trixie, Ann, and Sarah, went to Sarah’s condo for the weekend, where a series of misadventures struck. One disaster landed Sarah in the hospital, and brought Trixie’s new love, Nick, to visit from Southern California.   Today Trixie arises at 6:30 am, leaves the love of her life sleeping in HIS room, and drives 15 miles to the hospital to see her friend.

I don’t know that I would have picked this as a romantic moment, but you can decide for yourself.

Characters:

Trixie:  unmarried friend in love with Nick

Sarah:  widowed friend always on the go, collapsed and had to go to the emergency room

Howdy Doody:  The nickname given to the nephrologist (kidney doctor) called in by the emergency room physician to run tests on Sarah.

Howdy Doody 3
Dr. Howdy Doody

Chapter Thirty-four

After Howdy Doody left, Sarah leaned back in the bed and adjusted the pillows.  Trixie walked up to Sarah’s bed, and sat down.

“Can you believe Howdy Doody getting in my face like that?  I’m bushed after that encounter.   He sure thinks he can push his weight around.”

“You sure gave us a scare, Sarah.  No wonder you were tired!  Sounds as though he’s targeting the sodas.  What a cutie.  I wonder if he is married.”

Howdy Doody 2

“Trixie, you enjoy playing Cupid now that he’s shot you in the heart.  Yeah, Sandstrom’s definitely my type.  He’s at least six feet five inches tall, and I’m only five feet tall when I stand perfectly straight.”

Sun streamed in the hospital room window making patterns on the bed.  Sarah traced them unconsciously as she talked.

“I recognize sarcasm when I hear it.  I think he’s perfect.”

“I need to research.  Can you find me a computer to use?”

“Sure, I’ll send my computer with the twins if they stop by.  You can call me and let me know when they are coming, or better yet, I’ll just leave it on the table.  Where are they?  Did they go out for some breakfast?”

“No, they went back to the condo to sleep.   How was your night?  Did you and Ann have dinner after you left?”

Sarah didn’t know that Ann had left.  Sarah wanted to discuss many things with Trixie, but her breakfast arrived, and she hadn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday.

“It is Sunday, right?” Sarah asked.

“Yes, at least you don’t have Alzheimer’s.”

Trixie was glad she had made it to the room in time to talk to the nephrologist.  Now she wasn’t as concerned that Sarah was not going to make it.  Sarah controlled her life. If Trixie had to bet on any of them living forever, it would be Sarah.

“This breakfast is awful, Trix.  Buy me a cinnamon roll and a decent cup of coffee.”

Old West Cinnamon Rolls, Pismo Beach
Old West Cinnamon Rolls, Pismo Beach

“Is there a better way to say that?  Have you ever heard of the word please, or better yet, would you please?  But the long answer is no.  Don’t draw me into your schemes for bringing you contraband.  I need to shove off.  Remember Nick is at the condo.  He’s not expecting the girls.  No telling what’s happened there.”

“Good idea, Trixie.  Hurry back, though.  I understand now when I hear nursing home residents yelling to get out.  I can’t believe I have to be camped out here when it’s seventy-five degrees and sunny outside.”

“Ok, I’ll touch bases with you later today, Sarah.”  Trixie told her.

“You know, don’t come back today.  Enjoy your time with Nick.  I’ll be fine.  Send the girls back as soon as they wake up.”

Sarah waved to her friend then settled back against the pillows and closed her eyes.  She was still pretty tired, and right this minute rest seemed to be the perfect prescription.

Sarah 1

Girls on Fire visits the editor this weekend, and expects to come home with a few band aids, but hopes to avoid major surgery.  Depending on the damages I’ll need to rebuild, this romantic comedy should be ready soon.

So do you agree with Tonia, that this has some merit for Valentine’s Day to fit this prompt?

How to Conquer the Mountain of Manuscript Editing

You think you’ve done a great thing when your screen is filled with words and maybe some pictures.  As you read each chapter and smile, your accomplishment amazes you.  Pity the poor NSA person who has to read every keystroke because you’ve already made many changes before you completed the chapter.

Manny in prison

You finish.  It’s 50,000 words, and there’s a plot, characters, a setting, all the things it needs to turn it in to NaNoWriMo.  So you cut, paste, send, and they send back a verification.  You are done.  Take it to the publisher.  Right?  Not so fast.  There could be an error or two.  Oops, that was almost a month ago, and what happened?  Maddie sent me a great article she wrote on editing, so I’m working through it, but here are some additional tips I’ve found as I’m climbing the editing  mountain RANGE.

Manny's Big Boy pants

  1. Put on your big girl/boy pants.  Be prepared that some people won’t like things, or that the mistakes will overwhelm them, or they will be bored.  I’ve done a lot of writing, so I know to expect this, but it is always difficult at first because you have been smiling at your cleverness for a whole month, and you think everyone else is going to be blown away by what a magnificent writer you have become.  You need some of that self-confidence, or you’d never write in the first place.  If your writing is really horrible, probably you’ll never hear from the reader again, so accept the criticisms as a good sign.
  2. Enlist the help of close friends and family.  My husband didn’t read every word. In fact, he got stuck on Chapter One, and hasn’t finished it yet.  Nonetheless, he has been a great help.  I’ve gotten ideas from lots of other readers, and we talk them over.  For example, one reader said, “Take Trixie where you’d never go, and let her respond.”  Do you know how difficult that is to do?  My thought was where in the world could I take her?  My husband suggested a male strip tease club.  Sorry, I’ve been there – only once when I was in my 20s, BTW.  I begged my date to take me when we were in the big city of San Francisco.  It was a shock to see how ugly those girls were.  We stayed a few minutes, and left. After shocking my husband with this information, we got down to business and brainstormed where I might “take Trixie” that I’ve never been, and he came up with a great idea that ended up not being a place at all.  It means some research and adjusting, but it is very doable, and I’m pleased with the results.  I’m still smiling, so far at my little creation.
  3.  Get readers from outside your family and local area to read and help you see what is unclear.  One reader told me to explain what made my setting unique.   MORE research comes into play at this level of revision.  I used several books about my target city.  I looked up controversies on the internet.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at what others said about where I set my story.  I am very familiar with the place.  The investigations gave me new perspective.   So once I had the feelings are on the paper, I needed to go back and add those things that are unimportant to me.  It might be different to you.  You might notice the way things look, and have to go back and add the emotions.  Everyone is unique.  I had to cut back on my dialogue, and give the readers a little background information.
  4. Don’t worry about people liking or disliking certain characters.  One reader told me she didn’t like the character that I based mostly on my personality.   Oh well, my favorite character ISN’T me.  I can go back and change things about her/him.  Give him/her different interests, reactions, looks, setting, family.  I can even change “me” into a man or my male model into a woman. You name it, with the flick of a finger, you and your friends (who are your other model characters) are no longer in the book.  So don’t get hung up on whether someone likes your favorite character or not. It’s nothing personal. Different people appeal to different folks. That’s good.
Manny and Justina
Manny and Justina, with just a few easy changes! 🙂

So now it’s all good, (for now).  Darla says I’ll be done when I’m 64.  But YOU are ready to follow Maddie’s plan of attack.   http://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/editing-your-own-work/

Many thanks to Carol, The Eternal Traveler, for the many pictures she sent of Manny traveling the world over.  The photoshopping is mine.  You can catch Justin at theadventuresofjustinbeaver.wordpress.com.

Any guesses about where Manny is in these pictures?  Setting IS important, yes?

 

 

Project Finished: Girls On Fire by Marsha Lee

I want to thank you for your support and encouragement as I have been writing this fun book.  There’s even a little bit of steam left in these gals yet!

Girls on Fire3sm

Synopsis

Over the years these friends have been church friends, traveled together, and shared their family problems together. All three women, now unattached and in their sixties, approach single life differently. Each of them is lonely, but needs to work out their own solution to their man problem no matter where that takes them. One has always been single, and seems to be comfortable with that. One uses every means possible to enjoy an active dating life. The third woman battles shyness again for the first time since second grade now that her childhood sweetheart, who became her husband, is gone. Different family problems become part of the difficulties of starting over with new love and companionship. Moral dilemmas seem more difficult now than they did when they were in their 20s. In addition to everything else, their 60-year-old bodies need a bit more oil and loving care than they did during their last dating episodes. None of the women have any idea that finding the men they seek might endanger their 30-year-old friendship.

What do you think?

I Always Prided Myself on Dialogue Until Today

Today I read a post which was an entire chapter of mostly dialogue.  I realized suddenly that I couldn’t follow it because there was not enough description to let me know where the characters were, and what they were talking about.

Here is a current, unedited clip from early into the first chapter of my new book, now completed drafted up to Chapter 5.  Trixie and Nick have JUST met in a hotel lobby.  So which picture pictures best show where they are, and what they look like?  These are stock photos from the internet.  One of them somewhat captures the feeling I am seeking.

“Of course, sit down.  I’m waiting for a friend, but I’d love the company.”  He didn’t look like he worked out regularly, but he still had the careless jock look.  Intimidated by extremely good-looking men, Trixie mused to herself, “I think he likes to eat as much as I do.”

“You must not be teaching today,” she guessed flashing him a teasing grin.

“No,” he smiled again.  “I’m off after my requisite cup of coffee.  I have a date with my daughters this afternoon for a couple of hours . I don’t get to see them very often.  Then I’ll be back later to catch a few sessions before the end of the conference.  My name’s Nick Boyd, by the way.”  His tanned hand felt comfortable as she took it.

“Trixie Carlton,” she smiled.  “You’re not a victim of the breakfast pastries here?” she pointed to her own half-eaten cranberry-orange scone.

“I do if it’s chocolate, but, yes, my eating habits are pretty boring.  I’m trying to lose this gut.  That means I eat chicken, chicken, and more chicken, protein shakes, vegetables, and more chicken.”

“I suppose you run marathons, for the blind, too?”  Her thin, frosted strawberry-blond hair picked that moment to flip into her eye when someone entered the hotel lobby and a bit of Monterey gusted into the coffee shop tossing her hair in several directions before it finally settled into her eyes.

“If they were as pretty as you are right now, and I know you can’t see, I’d be running double marathons every week, but no, I have a bad knee.”  He leaned toward her slightly as he sat down opposite her, “And what about you, what do you enjoy doing when you’re not attending conferences or with patients?”

What do you think?  Too much dialogue?  Is there enough description, or do you get a glimpse of who these two people are?  Which picture is your choice for the couple?

Comment Competition Ends Midnight Dec. 31, 2012 PST

Autty Jade has taken up the challenge.  For months she has led the pack for numbers of comments – and numbers of words, too.  Today, her record was broken by Ralph with a total of 55 comments to Autty’s 50.  Autty has vowed that Ralph is not going to beat her, so watch out Ralph!  This girl’s keyboarding fingers move faster than Superman’s when he has a pressing deadline at the Daily Planet, AND Lois Lane is in trouble..  Poor, unsuspecting Ralph; he didn’t even know there was a contest.

Ralph 55
Ralph 55 comments on Marsha Lee’s Vanity Blog
Briney Lass
Autty Jade 51 comments on Marsha Lee’s Vanity Blog

Close behind the two leading commenters, with 45 comments on Blog Marsha Lee, is my new-found sister in Australia, Eternal Traveler.  Her daughter has decided that we are two of a kind, and therefore I am her aunt.  So it’s official I have a niece.

The Eternal Traveler - 45
The Eternal Traveler – 45

Lagging behind the three top expressionists are Dianne Gray and ADinparadise, tied at 28, and Sharechair, at 17 all time comments on Marsha Lee’s Vanity Blog.  If Ralph takes off on vacation, and Autty’s computer goes on the blink again, we may have an unexpected winner.  It could be YOU!!!  There are plenty of days left to comment.

Prizes will be announced at a later date, but whether champagne is in order remains to be seen.  Autty Jade KNEW she had to get her computer fixed when she read that Ralph and I were cavorting around with online champagne bottles.  Ralph popped them, I poured them, and Kalev imbibed them.  Rumors were that Kalev drank all 10 bottles of champagne.   Kalev had a great night’s sleep, and kept quiet all day today.  I’ve not heard a peep out of her since the trip to find snow.

I discovered today that Ralph may have had cameras installed in our cupboards to make sure that V and I are not harboring any unaccounted for bottles of champagne.  We have been searching for the cameras since we saw the insides of our cabinets live on Ralph’s site.  We were hoping that the cameras had vacuum cleaners attached to them to get rid of any unsightly dust bunnies that might appear on the internet.   Unfortunately he wasted his time and money because there are NO champagne bottles, full or otherwise, ensconced in our cabinets!

Lurking dust bunnies
Lurking dust bunnies

I’ll keep you posted as the contest heats up.  Presently not all competitors know there IS a contest.  In fact no one does.  So it remains to be seen if top contender, Ralph will even pick up the comment gauntlet.

So Ralph, The Eternal Traveler, Dianne, AD, Sharechair, and any others of you that think you can race against Autty, The Commenter Extraordinaire.

GERMAN GAUNTLET 01

I’ll post the results daily except for Christmas and Christmas Eve during Renee’s 16th party.  I made a mistake telling all of you it was going to be her 17th birthday.  Renee has been fudging on her age for the past few months telling us that she is already 16, when in fact, she is JUST turning 16.  Don’t forget her amazing party starting Dec. 24th right here on Marsha Lee’s Vanity Blog.  🙂

* Note  The editor of Marsha Lee’s Vanity Blog denies any responsibility for rumors that may have started here.

Mama Kitty, do you really believe that I could have drunk all that champagne?    I don't remember a thing about it.
Mama Kitty, do you really believe that I drank all that online champagne? I don’t remember a thing about it.  I think Ralph drank it, and tried to blame me for it!!!

I was going to wait until 12:00, but I just CAN’T do it!!!  Let the games begin!  And may the best commenter win!  Win lose or draw, I love you all!!!

Book Review: The Everything Theory

Dianne Gray became my blogger friend four months and three weeks ago now, and we have rallied blogger chit-chat back and forth between our blogs.  As I read her blog the other day, I learned about her book, The Everything Theory,  Browsing the comments on the post, I decided that I definitely wanted to buy the book.  So I headed over to Amazon, made a few clicks, and started reading, and finally put it down because I had to sleep at about one in the morning.

by Diane Gray
by Diane Gray

I am excited to review Dianne Gray’s new book, The Everything Theory, which I just finished in less than a day, but certainly not because it was flat, or simplistic.  Though not to be confused with the Theory of Everything (ToE), which Wikipedia defines as “The “system building” style of metaphysics attempts to answer all the important questions in a coherent way, providing a complete picture of the world. Plato and Aristotle could be said to have created early examples of comprehensive systems,” the reader does get a flavor of those intertwining systems in this book.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_everything

Gray, in her own logical way, unfolded ancient theories, and outlined plausible outcomes to those ancient predictions.  She postulated a plausible answer to the question of the age:  How did the ancients get the knowledge to build the pyramids?  Readers will learn about the way scientists use numbers, referring often to the mathematics of the pyramids, and the books of the Nine Unknown Men.  Recorded on the History of India website, the Nine Unknown Men, according to occult lore, “were a two millennia-old secret society founded by the Indian Emperor Asoka 273 BC. …  Each of the Nine is supposedly responsible for guarding and improving a single book. These books each deal with a different branch of potentially hazardous knowledge.”  http://www.indohistory.com/nine_unknown_men.html From another civilization at another time the ancient Mayans predicted that the end of the our world nears daily.  Were they right?  Is this even a possibility?

Scientific facts dotted the story, and at the time I assumed that these stated facts might be purely fictitious, but they seemed plausible.  Last night I checked with Diane, and she said that she spent a lot of time researching and that her facts were all cross checked.  Even though I haven’t researched the many details in the novel, the fact that she didn’t fabricate the scientific references made this book an even better read than if it was science fiction.

The prologue and epilogue book-ended The Everything Theory with men, dressed in animal skins, looking at pictures in a cave.  Curiously, the main characters in the prologue and epilogue had very similar names to the protagonist in the body of the tale, yet clearly the Lukes were not from the same time.  Thus, the Everything Theory mystery began and ended.

Besides the ordinary human bad guys, the primary culprit in this story was a wayward planet named Eris.  As it turned out, Eris is a real planet larger and farther out than Pluto, and Google has hundreds of pictures of it.  Here is one of them.

eris_and_dysnomia_485

The mystery intertwined the lives of archaeologists studying past ancient writings, with amateur astronomers who discovered the rogue planet, Eris.  A couple of murders launched the story, and alerted the reader to the extreme urgency and seriousness of the obstacles facing the heroes.  The lives of these two groups of scientists collided early in the book as they attempted to evade the inevitable outcome of their actions thus becoming the next murder victims.  In the process of survival, the group began to cohere and collaborate to try to deal with the havoc that Eris would bring into Earth’s universe.

Connecting to the Common Core English Language Arts Standards

Most of my book reviews bring up the Common Core English Language Arts Standards.   For the California sixth grade teacher teaching  ancient world history, the Nine Unknown Men would be the perfect place to insert a research project.  Student-generated questions about the end of the world, dangerous knowledge, and an ancient secret society would capture their interest and motivate research.

Without question this book contains academic language making it an effective novel for the language arts teacher to use to support the teaching of science as well.  It corresponds directly with eighth grade Earth in the Solar System (Earth Sciences) .

4. e states “Students know the appearance, general composition, relative position and size, and motion of objects in the solar system, including planets, planetary satellites, comets, and asteroids.”

Are you thinking of a Christmas gift for the reader in your family?  Do they believe that aliens influenced the ancients?  Do they look for answers in astrology?  Do they watch the History Channel or the Discovery Channel?  Do they like Bones, Lie to Me or Fringe?  The Everything Theory appeals to anyone who loves a mystery.

By the way, Dianne did not ask me to buy the book or write a review.  I don’t make money writing reviews either – maybe now you know why!  I just learned yesterday that my website is a “vanity” site because I am not using it for making a profit.  That being said, this review strictly reflects my opinions.

Blog Tip of the Week

When I make a comment, and it doesn’t post and displays a 403 error, I have found that if I close my browser, then open it again, then I can send to that person.  I do lose the reply, though unless I save it somewhere else.

Featured Blog

It only makes sense to feature Dianne’s website.  In it she offers sound advice.

run-from-stag

She shares her philosophy of life, how she writes, and thinks.  She tells you what’s happening in her real life.  Best of all she reads her friends’ blogs and makes comments.  If you don’t already know Dianne Gray, this is your chance.

Just Finish It

Such the Like motivated her with her blog post about what books she is reading.  I, too, love to read, at least I think I do.  If it’s not fiction I love to start reading.

That’s why I read so little fiction.  I can’t stop reading fiction until the end of the book – even if I keep my scratchy eyes open until 2:00 a.m.  Unfortunately, there is so much else on my list to read, so I feel guilty reading heart-stopping, bone-chilling fiction.  I did take time to read all of Cristian’s book, Remember,  because it was short, and I wanted to see what kind of writer he is since he is writing about how to write.

I like reading on Kindle because it keeps track of what you are reading, and how much of you read.  Kindle would tell me if I read 100% of Cristain’s book because all the dots should be blackened to the end, but since I read it on my iPhone while I was waiting for an appointment, the dots won’t be filled in until I sync my Kindle.

When it comes right down to it, I’ve been ignoring one of my favorite hobbies, reading books, and substituting it for reading on the internet.  It almost seems like I’m not reading when I read the internet because I’m just scratching the surface.  I read for information.  My friend has an ailment, I look it up.  I read a post on Facebook about a movie I’ve don’t know, so I stop and look it up.   I have friends who are way over my experiential head, and I can’t stand that, so I check things they write about out – on the internet.  I’m at a lecture, and the speaker says he has a web page – I visit it.  He makes a comment about the newest thing that the Igeneration is using.  I google it.  It’s five years old, and out of production.  Good thing he’s entertaining!

http://media.zeromotorcycles.com/press-2012/small/ds/location/2012_zero-ds_action-02_1680x1200_press.jpg

My step-son wants me to buy a Zero.  We check it out together.  I can’t even read the specs without his expert help.  I don’t think I’m ready to own a Zero, but I’m intrigued.

http://www.hgtv.com/decks-patios-porches-and-pools/creating-privacy-on-decks-and-patios/pictures/page-4.html

My husband wants to put up an awning.  We check out the newest things on HGTV’s blog.

But I can’t finish my books.  Here they are, and I like them all.

Now that I’ve confessed to you I promise that I will finish one of them today.