Author Archives: shirleymclain930

About shirleymclain930

I am a retired RN, I am currently promoting book, Dobyns Chronicles. My first one published in November 2010, called "The Tower", which has been revised. I'm enjoying my retirement to the fullest. I like the graphic adventure and travel and make friends. I have 5 dogs and 3 cats. They are like having a house full of three years olds. They are a large part of my life and I can't imagine not having them.

President Kennedy Assassination (graphic picture)

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I found this video from a former FBI man who investigated President John F. Kennedy’s assination very interesting. For me there has always been to many questions left unanswered. Maybe now the truth is beginning to be told.  Take a look and let me know what you think about it.  Shirley

 

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Get Digi With It

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digital2Literacy used to look like a child sitting with a book in his or her hands.  Recently, however, literacy has acquired a new look.

More young children are learning to read not from a printed book but rather on a table, electronic reader or even a smartphone. This phenomenon presents an opportunity for authors because these flourishing platforms have a growing need for children’s e-books.

These trends have been analyzed in the recent report “What a Difference a Year Makes: Kids and E-Reading Trends  2012-2013. The report focuses on parental attitudes regarding the benefits of e-books. The report was compiled by family centered consumer product company PlayScience (the research arm of Play-Collective) and Digital Book World, a consumer publish resource.  An online survey was conducted in October, 2013, of 603 U.S. adults who have children ages 2-13 who read digital books in their households.

The most important finding: Children’s e-reading continues to grow sharply, with two-thirds of children 13 and under now reading digital books; 92 percent of those kids do so at least once a week. That translates into a potential consumer base of 36 million U.S. children.  In addition, nearly half of those children read digitally every day.  Does this mean children are reading more because of e-books, or are they simply switching from print to electronic forms? digital

J. Alison Bryant, president and founder of PlayCollective, thinks the answer is the former.  ” There is certainly some move to electronic forms, but overall it seems to be addictive,” she says.  Cindy Loh, publishing director for Bloomsbury Children’s USA, explains the versatility of ebooks: “There are more of them available since the rise of e-books.  In digital, books can really be tailored to the readership without print production and inventory costs, so the reader who loves dystopian can keep reading dystopian stories long after the bulk of the print industry has moved on to another genre.  Publications schedules are much more flexible for digital, too.  Production timelines for digital are shorter, and publishers now have the possibility to release all  books in a series within a year.  E-books have also opened up the market for novellas and prequel stories that would have been more challenging to publish in print.”

The report also reveals that children want both print and e-book versions of the same title.  The study offers two reasons for this: It could be that children view each as separate and unique reading experiences, or it may be that they enjoy a book so much that they want to be able to access it at all times and in multiple formats.

The other major finding of the report is that parents who grew up with print books are learning to embrace digital books for their children. The study shows that a majority of parents surveyed feel that e-books can motivate their children to read more or to become better readers, improve their children’s reading abilities and reduce the amount of time their children spend with other media.

Digital children’s books, now in increasing demand, provide a new pathway to publication for aspiring writers.  But any enhancements must be constructed upon the never-antiquated foundation of a strong narrative.

Original by Dale McGarrigle

Three Comma Rules to Rule Them All

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Three Comma Rules to Rule Them All

shirleymclain930:

I am reblogging this post on comma’s because I found the writers simple rules of comma use make them easier to understand. Enjoy

Originally posted on PDXX Collective:

As a writing professor, I receive a lot of free grammar handbooks. Most of these, enumerate the rules of comma usage to a degree that even I find daunting. Most list at least eight rules. Several list over ten. One contains twenty-four rules for proper comma usage.

Today, I will set the record straight for the weary student. In my opinion, one needs only three rules to rule [almost] all commas.

Rule One: Lists

It is no secret that commas separate items in a list.

I eat raw oysters, blanched squid, and seared salmon.

The only challenge comes from that final comma, known to experts as the Oxford comma and made famous by Vampire Weekend’s song by that name.  The song begins, “who gives a fuck about the Oxford comma?” The answer is: I do. And although it is not required, I believe that omitting the Oxford comma shows a lack…

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Writing: Profanity and Obscenties

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Although it is often used to denote any objectionable word, profanity literally means words that are considered profane—that is, words proscribed by religious doctrine. (Proscribed generally means forbidden by written order.) In the Judeo-Christian tradition, this primarily means taking the Lord’s name in vain (that is, not in prayer).

For the love of God, stop complaining.

Jesus Christ, look at the size of that thing!

In writing as in life, profanity can seem gratuitous or, worse, a thinly veiled shock tactic. And it can offend.  All of which might jolt the reader out of the unfolding action.  As a result, it’s important to use profanity only when it’s adding something essential.

I have to admit that when a book has so much profanity and obscenity that it’s the only thing that I keep seeing instead of the story, I quit reading the book or watching the movie. I was raised in a time when four letter words and obscenity were insulting and crude. They were used, but not in mixed company. People used clichés as, “cussed like a sailor.”

Obscene means something disgusting or morally abhorrent, often connoting sex. The f-word is considered the most objectionable of these. (Adding “mother” as a prefix ups the ante.)

Non-objectionable variants of the present participle form of the word—besides “fugging”—include “fecking,” “freaking,” “flipping” and “fricking.” (To be honest, I really don’t know why that “u” is so important.)

“Screw” is a milder word. Notice that both the f-word and “screw” are used not just too literally describe the act of intercourse, but to connote “taking advantage of”:

Don’t go to that repair shop—they screwed me out of $500 for a brake job I didn’t need.

Words referring to the pelvic area, male and female, are also considered obscenities.

To help you understand why I think like I do let me tell you a personal story that I remember as if it were yesterday instead of the 1950’s.  I was a small child maybe five at the most.  My father and my uncle were sitting at the kitchen table, drinking. I can’t say they were drunk because I was not old enough to really be aware, but I do remember a bottle setting on the table.  I was sitting in the kitchen floor by our refrigerator watching and listening to what was going on.

My dad was talking and gesturing with his hands.  I heard my father say that four letter word and the next thing I knew my uncle knocked my father out of the chair to the floor.  My uncle then told my father not to say that another time in front of me.

I asked my mom about what happened and she told me that daddy had used a word that he shouldn’t have. That one event impressed my five year old mind so strongly that anytime I hear it, I see my dad hitting the floor.

It seems to me that today’s language is filled with four letter and curse words, and is accepted as norm by mostly young people. Truth be told, I still find it offensive no matter how much I hear it.

In writing language choices should stay true to the character; however, the narrative isn’t riddled with profanity.  Using restraint allows one to achieve voice effectively and maintain authenticity while avoiding the likelihood of profanity’s potential pitfalls.  Such language can seem be a departure for a character, and that contrast can also be revealing.

When profanity influences characters or becomes pertinent to the unfolding action, it can be necessary.  In the autobiography Black Boy, Richard Wright uses strong profanity and racial epithets to show the ways in which white characters try to intimidate and terrorize him.

When used incorrectly, profanity can be a shortcut to emotion and the reader is bound to remain unconvinced.  Try to convey emotion through action, gesture or different dialogue for a more nuanced effect.

 

Creating Your Protagonist

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Writer2From story to story, from novel to novel, protagonists vary widely in psychological make-up, goals and dreams, in the types of conflicts they face and in the way they resolve these conflicts.  Among all these differences, compelling characters may have some common qualities as well.

Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward and 24 other novels, believes compelling protagonists share two chief traits.  “I think he or she needs to be someone with a strong will to move through adversity, and someone readers can relate to,” she says, adding that relatable characters also require vulnerability. “We’re all vulnerable on the inside, so our hearts go out to anyone enduring struggles we understand.”

Authors are often told that readers must be able to root for their characters, yet Hyde believes that protagonists don’t necessarily have to be likable or sympathetic.  They do need to be human, or readers won’t be able to relate to them.  To accomplish that, says Hyde, you have to get inside your character’s head, and thats when the “humanity will begin to shine through.”

Here’s how Ishmael Reed gets inside of Paul Blessings, a character in his 10th novel, Juice!

I’m a survivor all right.  After generations of ancestors working in the fields, factories, cleaning homes and offices, my generation had a chance to go to school, read books, attend plays, and do desk work just like W.E. B. wanted it.  Like an old time Talented Tenther, I even had a season ticket to the opera. Only falling asleep once.  During Wagners’s Die Meistersinger, I think it was the droning, lumbering trombone score that did it.  Besides, like millions of my contemporaries, I’m fond of gazing and staring.  This “sedentary” lifestyle got me in trouble with glucose, which one geneticist has said we should avoid more than the snakes we were originally programmed to fear.  A bakery display of cake, muffins, and cookies is like a nest of cobras to me.  They should invent a candy bar for diabetics called the Grim Reaper.  How did I know that sugar had a dark side.

Blessings comes fully alive for readers with his open, frank self-revelation: regarding his roots, his generation’s opportunities, his drifting off during the Wagner opera, his sedentary style and his health crisis.  Wryly, Reed situates diabetes in a framework that surprises us by an utterly bizarre comparison: snakes and sugar.  We want to learn more about this intriguing character.

Of course, it’s one thing to know what a compelling protagonist and still another to create one.  Should you begin with notes for a fully fleshed out character, or should you discover your protagonist as you write.  Virgil Suarez, author of several novels and short story collection, plans out his protagonist in advance of writing.  “I love to create an entire biography and history for a character,” he says, even though only 10 percent of what I imagine about a character actually makes it into the story or chapter.”

While Suarez does a lot of initial planning, much of his characterization happens as he writes.  Intutive discovery of character may be key to solid character development. Instead of engineering or controlling characters, let their own voices take action. “I’m on the lookout for a fictinal person with a good story to tell me,” says Hyde.  “After I make that connection, it feels more like a process of sitting back and listening.”  This act of listening worked well fro Grissom, who says her two first-person narrators spoke clearly to her. “I wrote down what they were saying.” She had to edit later, but through attentive listening, she came to know her characters well.

Excerpt from Returning To The Elements by Jack Smith

Revenge

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After 37 years of marriage, Jake dumped his wife for his young secretary. 

His new girlfriend demanded that they live in Jake and Edith’s multi-million dollar home. Since Jake had better lawyers, he prevailed. He gave Edith, his now ex-wife, just 3 days to move out.
She spent the 1st day packing her belongings into boxes and crates.
On the 2nd day, she had two movers come and collect her things.
On the 3rd day, she sat down for the last time at their beautiful dining room table by candlelight, put on some soft background music, and feasted on a pound of shrimp, a jar of caviar and a bottle of Chardonnay.
When she had finished, she went into each and every room and stuffed half-eared shrimp shells dipped in caviar into the hollow of all the curtain rods. She then cleaned up the kitchen and left.
When Jake returned with his new girlfriend, all was bliss for the first few days.
Then slowly, the house began to smell. They tried everything- cleaning, mopping, and airing the place out. Vents were checked for dead rodents and carpets were cleaned. Air fresheners were hung everywhere. Exterminators were brought in to set off gas canisters during which they had to move out for a few days and in the end they even replaced the expensive wool carpeting. Nothing worked.
People stopped coming over to visit. Repairmen refused to work in the house. The maid quit.
Finally, they could not take the stench any longer and decided to move.
A month later, even though they had cut their price in half, they could not find a buyer for their stinky house. Word got out and eventually even the local realtors refused to return their calls. Finally they had to borrow a huge sum of money from the bank to purchase a new place.
Edith called Jake and asked how things were going. He told her the saga of the rotting house. She listened politely and said that she missed her old home terribly and would be willing to reduce her divorce settlement in exchange for getting the house back.
Knowing his ex-wife had no idea how bad the smell was, he agreed on a price that was about 1/10th of what the house had been worth, but only if she were the sign the papers that very day. She agreed and within the hour, his lawyers delivered the paperwork.
A week later, Jake and his girlfriend stood smiling as they watched the moving company pack everything to take to their new home…
Including the curtain rods.

The Ugly Truth About Book Sales

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shirleymclain930:

Very interesting read. Now I understand why so many writers sell books after they are dead. We have to keep on keeping on. :)

Originally posted on Leona's Blog of Shadows:

Today I am going to share some eye-opening truths, which might shatter the illusions regarding the book publishing business and crush the dreams of some folk out there. I have recently come across a rather interesting blog post link in the comments section under a post at Suffolk Scribblings blog.

It was a rather grim post by author Kameron Hurley. For those who are not familiar with her, she is an established author who has been a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Locus Award and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her short fiction has appeared in prestigious SFF magazines such as Lightspeed, EscapePod, and Strange Horizons. Her fiction has been translated into Romanian, Swedish, Spanish, and Russian. She is also a graduate of Clarion West. Impressive credentials many of us dream about accomplishing some day, if ever.

According to her…

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Leaving The Joy Out of Writing

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dog coutureWriting is not always fun.  There are times when it’s downright taxing.  Various authors have compared the process to cutting veins and bleeding onto the page.  Certainly everyone has had the feeling of being discouraged, of thinking that the words are flappy, the sentiments trite, the whole thing a complete waste of time.  Many writers get so stuck in the morass that they can’t get our, and so they write word after every begrudging word with any joy at all.

Often this happens when a writer gets stuck on one particular story.  I have often seen it happen that a writer will carry around a story for a decade.  He will work on nothing else.  He is going to finish it if it kills him.  He submits the same story over and over and over again to be critiqued.  Although I suggest politely that he move on and write something else he can’t.  He has to tell this story. But now he hates it, and quite honestly, I hate it.  I’ve critiqued the character, the plot, and the dialogue.

I suspect this is even more likely to happen to novelists than to short-story writers, because we’re more likely to put big chunks of time into a novel.  Certainly it’s harder to walk away from something you’ve spent four years working on.  That was how long I worked on my novel, Courting Disaster.  It was the story of a woman who gets engaged 17 times and then falls in love with a man named Chuck Jones.  My novel was a finalist for a number of prestigious literary awards, got a lot of agent and editorial attention, but after four years of writing, rewriting and submitting, no one wanted it.  I was depressed, to put it mildly I was also discouraged at the prospect of having to write a whole new book.

But I did.  I wrote a book about a woman who teaches a fiction class, and I began to feel something I hadn’t felt n a while: excitement.  At one point, as I was trying to figure out who the students were in the writing class, I realized that my old friend Chuck Jones, would be perfect.  I had been obsessed by this character, and I was delighted to move him over to my new novel.  The Fiction Class was, in fact, published by Plume, a division of Penguin.  Often when I’m at book clubs, people will come up to me and tell me how much they like Chuck jones, and I always feel like that’s a tribute to the beleaguered part of me that struggled so hard to get a foothold in this business.

Don’t be afraid to start something new, if this is what you need to keep going.  Start a new story.  Take what you’ve learned and apply it somewhere else. But don’t give up the joy that brought you into this insane profession in the first place.

<div style=”font-size: 8px;”>Original by Susan Breen</div>

My Book Review

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This is the last day of the year and I’m doing what I’ve done every day since May. I’m talking to people about my book, Dobyns Chronicles. I never realized how hard it is to get people to read a book you know they will enjoy.

My blog today is a review of my book by Motorwriter.com. I thought it was great and wanted to share it with everyone. It is a wonderful feeling when people like what you have put on paper.  Ok, I’ll have my arm casted tomorrow from patting myself on the back but today, since it’s the last day of the year I’m going to keep patting.

I also want to everyone to know how much I appreciate the support that has been given to me. I’ve made some new friends, and connected again with some old ones. Life is full of struggles and heartbreak but it is also full of love and kindness and I have been blessed with a abundance of the love and kindness.

As this year ends I want everyone to know how much they are appreciated and lets continue to make this world a better place to live for as long as we are here.  Blessings to all and Happy New Year.

******

The Finest Generation – A review of the novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’

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“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams” – Don DeLillo

Author Shirley McLain’s latest novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’ is a historical fiction loosely based on the life and times of her grandfather Charles Kenly Dobyns. Charles orCharley to those close to him was the eldest son of Kennerly, an American cowboy and Eliza, a Cherokee Indian and was raised in a farm in Red River in Bonham near Northeast Texas. The book chronicles his life story from the late 1800’s when he was a young boy in a Texan farm to mid 1950’s when he became a great grandfather in McAlester, Oklahoma. The book paints a moving real life story about a young man’s resolve dealing with the various tragedies life threw at him while also caring for his two siblings, younger brother David and sister Viola. This novel presents a fascinating look at vintage Americana and will fill your mind with nostalgia about a simpler life led in much simpler times.

Right off the bat, the first thing that you are going to notice and that too barely a couple of pages into the book is the wonderful use of the English language. It has become almost a rarity in mainstream literature to come across such beautiful phrases and prose that make you stop and read a line twice just for the sheer literary pleasure it gives you. The next best thing about this book is the pitch perfect way in which the author has been able to portray the laid back and lazy times with the back breaking, difficult and adventure filled day in an old western town. It is so descriptive that the character’s spirituality, the numerous odd jobs done around the house, cattle drive and horse breaking somehow become second nature to you by the time you are done with the book. And for people of this century where everything is available to them at the touch of a button, this book will be a throwback to our older and harsher times when day to day living meant a constant battle with the various elements of the nature.

Blending the fiction seamlessly with the many historical and factual events of the late 18th century and early 19th century, Shirley has made good use of various events like the yellow fever epidemic, the great depression and the absurd tax laws to good effect and has used them strategically at various points in the novel to underline the emotions of her characters in that setting beautifully. The changes happening over time and the various developments too have been captured nicely; case in point isCharley staying at a hotel for the very first time. Shirley also seems to have a knack in getting children’s behaviour and their conversations right, the change in tone and content when the conversation moves from a child to an adult is always bang on target.

The entire book will tug at your heart strings and make you think about your own family, it will also make you reminisce about your childhood as you read about the childhood of the Dobyn kids. And even though your childhood may have been vastly different from theirs, you will still feel a connection to the various commonalities that affect us humans across time and different nationalities. The epilogue and the photographs at the end really get to you and even though a life that you have been witness to from a young age has come to an end, you are in a strange way left with so many memories of this man. And this is because of the way the author has captured these scenes and emotions, by taking you right into the lives and homes of these people instead of merely narrating a story.

Great authors have often talked about the secrets that make a book appeal to audiences everywhere. They stress upon having a standout first chapter to make the readers commit to the book, a good first page that will blow them away and a great first line that will stay etched in their memory forever. If they are right then Shirley’s book has scored a definite ace on all three fronts and has emerged a clear winner.

Product Details

Print Length: 260 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1499024096

Publisher: Xlibris US (May 23, 2014)

ASIN: B00KNMM46S

Buy Fromhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNMM46S/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb