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My Top 10 Favorite Books and More

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By: Shirley McLain

My top 10 favorite books to read you are going to cause you to think that I am taking the easy way out when I tell you what they are. I’m a very eclectic reader as well as a writer. One book may be a mystery and the next a fantasy. It’s just whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

My most favorite books are the series by Diane Gabaldon “Outlander.” I could list every book and tell you about each one, but I won’t. The main reason is there are eight of them, so I’ll list the titles. I fell in love over and over with every one of them.  If you haven’t read the books I highly recommend them.

Outlander (1991)

Dragonfly in Amber (1992)

Voyager (1993)

Drums of Autumn (1996)

The Fiery Cross (2001)

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)

An Echo in the Bone (2009)

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (2014)

Right now there is a series on TV based on the book series. The books are better, but I continue to watch the series because it brings back those books so vividly to my mind.

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My next favorites are the “Harry Potter” series. This series contains seven books by J.K. Rowling. This is a series of fantasy books that shows you how good overcomes evil (very simplistic view). I liked the fact I was able to watch Harry grow from a baby to a young man with children of his own in the movies, but it was more fun letting my imagination run wild while I was reading the books.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S) (UK release: 26/06/97; US release 9/01/98)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (UK release: 2/07/98; US release 6/02/99)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (UK release: 8/07/99; US release 9/08/99)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (UK & US releases: 8/07/00)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (UK & US releases: 21/06/03)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (UK & US releases: 16/07/05)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (UK & US releases: 21/07/07)

Since I’m so into gothic times I loved the architecture of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It would be a great place to live and explore all its hidden rooms.

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My next favorite is the “Thorn birds.” Some may think it’s an oldie (1977) by Colleen McCullough. Set primarily on Drogheda—a fictional sheep station in the Australian Outback named after Drogheda, Ireland—the story focuses on the Cleary family and spans the years 1915 to 1969.

There was a TV Series made from this book that I enjoyed also but as with Outlander the book was much better.  I loved the depth of the characters especially, Maggie Cleary and Father Ralph de Bricassart. If you ever get the chance to read this book, I believe you will enjoy it as much as I did.

I have read many books over the years, some more than others. To be honest most of them I can’t remember their names. These I’ve mentioned above are recent memories. If you’re not enjoying the book you are reading, stop reading it. There are too many for anyone not to find something they enjoy reading.

I have published an eBook on Amazon called Princess Adele’s Dragon which is a young adult, fantasy. Check it out at this link: http://amzn.to/25lUOYM  If you like what you see, it’s free if you belong to Kindle Unlimited.

My latest book is out but only in hard and soft cover at this time. It’s called “Thomas Gomel Learns about Bullying.” I am waiting for the eBook to come out. I was told it would be five of six weeks after the hard copy books were published. This book was written to appeal to both the parent and child in dealing with abuse.  Check this out.    amzn.to/2PcneDv

Pandemic, 2019-20

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Pandemic, 2019-20

This blog is from a friend of mine on FanStory. She is living in Canada and wrote this piece about the Pandemic that has reached our shores. There is valuable information and I encourage all to read it. Everything she says about Canada, just think the USA. It is still very applicable.

My views on the Covid19 outbreak.

Venice Carnival

Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can. John Wesley

Mark Twain: The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

By D Dawn Munro

Copyright 2020

C/net: “SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the disease COVID-19, which has claimed over 1,300 lives and sickened tens of thousands of people, primarily in the Hubei province of China where it originated. We are well aware of the frightening toll it is taking. Now we also have a better look at the virus itself.”

That was as of little more than a week ago. Now the death toll exceeds 2,600 and the confirmed cases top 80,000.

Complacency is strongly discouraged. While panic is anything but helpful, ignoring the warnings is equally dangerous.

We need to err on the side of caution. For once, Canadians need to take a more active role in caring for Canada’s interests rather than downplaying the risks… Proper hand washing — great. But hardly enough protection…

The window of opportunity may already have closed for containing the spread of this virus. Self-quarantine, for example, by those found to have been exposed, is a little too optimistic a view, in my opinion — are we willing to gamble the lives of our loved ones, ourselves?

I say that a two-week compulsory quarantine is little enough to ask.

It’s going to be a year and a half before there’s a vaccine. How many lives will be lost by then?

How many countries do not even have the capability to test for Covid19 exposure? Yet there is nothing to stop anyone from boarding a plane and heading to Canada from anywhere in the world.

Prime Minister Trudeau, don’t let this be one more case of “I should have when I could have.” There are too many on record as it is. Not on your watch, necessarily, but we MUST be proactive in 2020. With an incubation period quite possibly in excess of 14 days, what good is checking for symptoms at airports?

Please. Consider closing our borders. Make quarantine compulsory. It’s only for two weeks and a small enough sacrifice to make if it is going to save Canadian lives.

Just my thoughts… WHO agrees.

“We must focus on containment, while doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic”-@DrTedros #COVID19

Proper hand washing:

I wish I had been able to download the most current news reports here, in Toronto. The next best thing is to advise friends and family to stay current with local news because the changes in numbers are unprecedented day-to-day.

Here is one from South Korea just two days ago–if what is happening in other countries is any example, it is undoubtedly worse today:

Thank you for reading.

Paradise Found

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Paradise Found

This is my memory that I put down on paper (computer) for a FanStory contest that turned out not to happen. I decided I would share this with you. Shirley

………..

This is a memory from way back in the 1900s. Well, how about 1990. I was living in Hawaii and enjoying my life. This memory happened when my sister, Sharon, came over for a visit.

I planned for us to go to the big island and spend a few days playing tourist. I was so excited to get there because I would finally go deep sea fishing. I had fished nowhere except the creeks, and lakes around home.

We checked into our room that overlooked the ocean and she couldn’t believe how green everything was.  Eastern Oklahoma remained brown in color by the time she arrived in September. We spent the first night looking around the resort and just enjoying our time together.

The next morning I was to meet Captain Chris Fischer to take Sharon and I fishing.  There was one other person going with us besides Chris’s crew and that was Mr. Farnsworth.

Six boats set out from the pier the same time we did. We traveled out to sea ,but I  have no idea how far. The waves were slapping us around. The crew helped Sharon and I get our poles set . We could see the other boats from where we set. I know I couldn’t see the shore. My sister got  seasick almost immediately. She was even wearing a patch behind her ear for seasickness I felt so bad for her. She lay up on the side of the boat, feeding the fish.

It didn’t take long for Mr. Farnsworth, to hook a small Mahi-mahi. That was all that was caught for several hours. I was watching both the poles for Sharon and me. She was still feeling quite green. Suddenly my pole zinged. Chris told me to see in the chair and she strapped me in and handed me a pair of gloves. I reeled the line in. It felt as if I was trying to drag a whale in. 

I fought that fish for an hour and then brought him in.  Well if I’m honest, it might have been Sharon’s pole I caught the Ahi on, and Chris’s crew pulled the line while I reeled.

We gave that Ahi to the Captain and I had my picture made with that big Yellow Fin Tuna. We thought about having it mounted for our dad. When we were faced with the cost and shipping we quickly changed our minds.  What a memory.

Healthcare in America

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Healthcare in America

Healthcare In America Is Already ‘The Best In The World’

This was posted in 2014 and it still applies today. Please let me know what you think of universal healthcare and why. Shirley

One of the more positive sounding admonitions from health care reform opponents was that the United States had “the best health care in the world,” so why would you mess with it? Well, it’s true that if you want the experience the pinnacle of medical care, you come to the United States. And if you want the pinnacle of haute cuisine, you go to Per Se. If you want the pinnacle of commercial air travel, you get a first-class seat on British Airways. Now, naturally, you wouldn’t let just anyone mess with someone’s tasting menu or state-of-the-art air-beds. But like anything that’s “the best,” the best health care in the world isn’t for everybody. The costs are prohibitively high, the access is prohibitively exclusive, and the resources are prohibitively scarce.

What do the people in America who “fly coach” in the health care system get? Well, at the time of the health care reform debate, they were participating in a system that was, by all objective measurements, overpriced and underperforming — if you were lucky enough to be participating in it. As anyone who’s fortunate enough to have employer based health care or unfortunate enough to have a pre-existing condition can tell you, health care for ordinary people already involved all of those things that we were told would be a feature of the Affordable Care Act — long waits, limited choice, and rationing.

When the Commonwealth Fund rated health care systems by nation, the top marks in the surveyed categories went to the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Ezra Klein examined the study, and observed:

“The issue isn’t just that we don’t have universal health care. Our delivery system underperforms, too. ‘Even when access and equity measures are not considered, the U.S. ranks behind most of the other countries on most measures. With the inclusion of primary care physician survey data in the analysis, it is apparent that the U.S. is lagging in adoption of national policies that promote primary care, quality improvement, and information technology.'”

Death Panels

The only thing that perhaps matched the vastness of the spread or the depth of the traction of the “death panel” lie was the predictability that such a lie would come to be told in the first place. After all, this was a Democratic president trying to sell a new health care reform plan with the intention of opening access and reducing cost to millions of Americans who had gone without for so long. What’s the best way to counter it? Tell everyone that millions of Americans would have increased access … to Death!

The best account of how the “death panel” myth was born into this world and spread like garbage across the landscape has been penned by Brendan Nyhan, who in 2010 wrote “Why the “Death Panel” Myth Wouldn’t Die: Misinformation in the Health Care Reform Debate.” You should go read the whole thing.

But to summarize, the lie began where many lies about health care reform begin — with serial liar Betsy McCaughey, who in 1994 polluted the pages of the New Republic with a staggering pile of deception in an effort to scuttle President Bill Clinton’s health care reform. As Nyhan documents, she re-emerged in 2009 when “she invented the false claim that the health care legislation

in Congress would result in seniors being directed to ‘end their life sooner.'”

Nyhan: “McCaughey’s statement was a reference to a provision in the Democratic health care bill that would have provided funding for an advanced care planning for Medicare recipients once every five years or more frequently if they become seriously ill. As independent fact-checkers showed (PolitiFact.com 2009b; FactCheck.org 2009a), her statement that these consultations would be mandatory was simply false–they would be entirely voluntary. Similarly, there is no evidence that Medicare patients would be pressured during these consultations to “do what’s in society’s best interest…and cut your life short.”

But the match that lit the death panel flame was not McCaughey, it was Sarah Palin, who repeated McCaughey’s claims in a Facebook posting and invented the term “death panel.” As Nyhan reports, Palin’s claims were met with condemnation from independent observers and factcheckers, but the virality of the term “death panel” far outstripped its own debunking. To this day, the shorthand for this outrageous falsehood remains more firmly planted in the discourse than the truth.

One thing worth pointing out is that Palin, in creating the term “death panel,” intended to deceive people with it. In an interview with the National Review, Palin admitted: “The term I used to describe the panel making these decisions should not be taken literally.” Rather, it was “a lot like when President Reagan used to refer to the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire.’ He got his point across.” Of course, while Reagan was exaggerating for effect, he wasn’t trying to prey on the goodwill of those who were listening to him.

he Affordable Care Act Is A “Jobs-Killer”

Naturally, the GOP greeted anything that the Obama White House did — from regulating pollution to flossing after meals — as something that would “kill jobs.” The Affordable Care Act was no different. As you might recall, Republicans’ first attempt at repeal came in the form of an inartfully named law called the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” But did the health reform plan threaten jobs? Not by any honest measure. Per McClatchy Newspapers:

“The claim has no justification,” said Micah Weinberg, a senior research fellow at the centrist New America Foundation’s Health Policy Program.

Since the law contains dual mandates that most individuals must obtain health insurance coverage and most employers must offer it by 2014, “the effect on employment is probably zero or close to it,” said Amitabh Chandra, a professor of public policy at Harvard University.

As McClatchy reported, the “job-killing” claim creatively used the “lie of omission” — relying on “out of date” data or omitting “offsetting information that would weaken the argument.” The Congressional Budget Office, playing it straight, deemed it essentially too premature to measure what the effect the bill would have on the labor market. At the time, Speaker John Boehner dismissed the CBO, saying, “CBO is entitled to their opinion.”

Perhaps, but lately, job growth in the health care industry has bucked the economic downturn and health care has remained a robust sector of employment. And it stands to reason that enrolling another 30 million Americans into health insurance will increase the demand for health care services and products, which in turn should trigger the creation of more jobs.

Is there a downside? Sure. More demand, and greater labor costs, could push health care prices upward even as other effects of health reform push them down. But it’s more likely that repealing the bill will have a negative impact on jobs than retaining it.

7 Story Structures

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I took a writing class under Dean Koontz and this writing was for the class. I may have shared it sometime ago but it’s always worth rereading. Have a blessed day. Shirley

1. Dean Koontz’s Classic Story Structure

This is the structure that changed the path of my career as a writer.

It catapulted me from a mid-list genre novelist to a 21-Time New York Times bestselling author.

I’m a Pantser, not an Outliner, but even I need some basic structure to know where I’m going, I love that Koontz’s structure is so simple. It consists only of these four steps:

1. Plunge your main character into terrible trouble as soon as possible. Naturally that trouble depends on your genre, but in short, it’s the worst possible dilemma you can think of for your main character. For a thriller, it might be a life or death situation. In a romance novel, it could mean a young woman must decide between two equally qualified suitors—and then her choice is revealed a disaster.

And again, this trouble must bear stakes dire high enough to carry the entire novel.

One caveat: whatever the dilemma, it will mean little to readers if they don’t first find reasons to care about your character.

2. Everything your character does to get out of the terrible trouble makes things only worse.  Avoid the temptation to make life easy for your protagonist. Every complication must proceed logically from the one before it, and things must grow progressively worse until….

3. The situation appears hopeless. Novelist Angela Hunt refers to this as The Bleakest Moment. Even you should wonder how you’re ever going to write your character out of this.

Your predicament is so hopeless that your lead must use every new muscle and technique gained from facing a book full of obstacles to become heroic and prove that things only appeared beyond repair.

4. Finally, your hero succeeds (or fails*) against all odds. Reward readers with the payoff they expected by keeping your hero on stage, taking action.

*Occasionally sad endings resonate with readers.

2. In Medias Res

This is Latin for “in the midst of things,” in other words, start with something happening. It doesn’t have to be slam-bang action, unless that fits your genre. The important thing is that the reader gets the sense he’s in the middle of something.

That means not wasting two or three pages on backstory or setting or description. These can all be layered in as the story progresses. Beginning a novel In Medias Res means cutting the fluff and jumping straight into the story.

Toni Morrison’s 1997 novel Paradise begins “They shoot the white girl first.”—the epitome of starting in medias res.

What makes In Medias Res work?

It’s all in the hook.

In Medias Res should invest your reader in your story from the get-go, virtually forcing him to keep reading.

The rest of the In Media Res structure consists of:

Rising Action

Explanation (backstory)

Climax

Falling Action

Resolution

3. The Hero’s Journey

Made famous by educator and widely published author Joseph Campbell, it’s often used to structure fantasy, science fiction, and horror novels.

J.R.R. Tolkien used The Hero’s Journey structure for The Hobbit.

Step 1: Bilbo Baggins leaves his ordinary world

Baggins is happy with his life in the Shire and initially refuses a call to adventure, preferring to stay home.

The wizard Gandalf (soon to be his mentor) pushes him to accept the call.

Baggins leaves the comfort of his Hobbit life and embarks on a perilous quest across Middle Earth, getting into all kinds of trouble along the way.

Step 2: Baggins experiences various trials and challenges

Bilbo builds a team, pairing with dwarves and elves to defeat enemies like dragons and orcs.

Along the way he faces a series of tests that push his courage and abilities beyond what he thought possible.

Eventually, against all odds, Bilbo reaches the inmost cave, the lair of the fearsome dragon, Smaug where the ultimate goal of his quest is located. Bilbo needs to steal the dwarves’ treasure back from Smaug.

Bilbo soon finds he needs to push past his greatest fear to survive.

Step 3: Bilbo tries to returns to his life in The Shire

Smaug may have been defeated, but the dwarves face another battle against others and an orc army.

Near the end of the novel, Bilbo is hit on the head during the final battle and presumed dead.

But he lives and gets to return to the Shire, no longer the same Hobbit who hated adventure.

4. The 7-Point Story Structure

Advocates of this approach advise starting with your resolution and working backwards.

This ensures a dramatic character arc for your hero.

J.K. Rowling used the 7-Point Structure for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

The Seven Points

Hook: your protagonist’s starting point

In Philosopher’s Stone, this is when we meet Harry living under the stairs.

Plot turn 1: introduces the conflict that moves the story to its midpoint.

Harry finds out he is a wizard.

Pinch point 1: applies pressure to your protagonist in the process of achieving his goal, usually facing an antagonist.

When the troll’s attacks, Harry and his friends realize they are the only ones who can save the day.

Midpoint: your character responds to conflict with action.

Harry and his friends learn of the Philosopher’s Stone and determine to find it before Voldemort does.

Pinch point 2: More pressure makes it harder for your character to achieve his goal.

Harry has to face the villain alone after losing Ron and Hermione during their quest to find the stone.

Plot turn 2: Moves the story from the midpoint to the resolution. Your protagonist has everything he needs to achieve the goal.

When the mirror reveals Harry Potter’s intentions are pure, he is given the Philosopher’s Stone.

Resolution: The climax. Everything in your story leads to this moment, a direct contrast to how your character began his journey.

Harry defeats Voldemort.

5. Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method

If you like outlining your story, you’ll love The Snowflake Method.

But if you’re a Panster like me (someone who prefers to write by process of discovery), a story structure like Dean Koontz’s Classic Story Structure or In Medias Res might feel more natural.

The 10-step Snowflake Method

Start with one central idea and systematically add more ideas to create your plot.

Write a one-sentence summary of your novel (1 hour)

Expand this into a full paragraph summary, detailing major events (1 hour)

Write a one-page summary for each character (1 hour each)

Expand each sentence in #2 into a paragraph summary (several hours)

Write a one-page account of the story from the perspective of each major character (1-2 days)

Expand each paragraph you wrote for #4 into a full-page synopsis (1 week)

Expand your character descriptions into full character charts (1 week)

Using the summary from #6, list every scene you’ll need to finish the novel

Write a multi-paragraph description for each scene

Write your first draft

6. The Three-Act Structure

This formula was used by ancient Greeks, and it’s one of Hollywood’s favorite ways to tell a story.

It’s about as simple as you can get.

Act I: The Set-Up

Introduce your main characters and establish the setting.

Brandon Sanderson, a popular fantasy writer, calls this the “inciting incident”—  a problem that yanks the protagonist out of his comfort zone and establishes the direction of the story.

Act II: The Confrontation

Create a problem that appears small on the surface but becomes more complex. The more your protagonist tries to get what he wants, the more impossible it seems to solve the problem.

Act III: The Resolution

A good ending has:

High stakes: your reader must feel that one more mistake will result in disaster for the protagonist.

Challenges and growth: By the end, the protagonist needs to have grown as a person by overcoming myriad obstacles.

A solution: All the trials and lessons your character has endured help him solve the problem.

Suzanne Collins’s bestselling young adult trilogy, The Hunger Games, uses the three-act structure.

7. James Scott Bell’s A Disturbance and Two Doorways

In his popular book Plot and Structure, Bell introduces this concept.

A Disturbance early in the story upsets the status quo—anything that threatens the protagonist’s ordinary life.

Doorway 1 propels your character to the middle of the story. Once he goes through this door, there’s no turning back.

Doorway 2 leads to the final battle. It’s another door of no return but usually leads to disaster.

The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way uses this story structure.

Upon hearing that their adoptive father has passed away (the disturbance), six siblings return to their childhood home.

Here they learn the world will end in a few days (Doorway 1). While the siblings try everything in their power to stop the potential global apocalypse, they unwittingly create another threat amongst themselves.

This leads to a final battle (Doorway 2).

Exploring the Dark Side of Diet Soda

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Good Morning, today I’m switching gears. As some of you know and now everyone will know that I’m having Bariatric surgery when I get through jumping all the insurance hoops. The end result is I’m now receiving lots of information.

This morning I received a copy of Herbaly Tea’s blog which I thought I would share with you. I know a lot of people who are drinking diet soda and do not know the risk they are taking.

Diet soda is specifically advertised to people who want to lose weight.

Obesity is widespread all around the world, and research says that it just keeps getting worse. Losing weight is an important goal for many of us, which is why there’s a huge market for the sugar-free versions of popular drinks or snacks.

The way these products are marketed makes them sound like the solution to weight issues. Many people looking to lose weight start with switching to diet products. And what’s not to love about diet soda? It tastes almost right, and you know for sure that it’s sugar-free.

But in reality, diet soda is a danger to your health. It’s important to take a moment and look at what the research says about it. It’s not pleasant.

The Problem with Diet Soda

What exactly makes diet soda a risk to your health?

To get the taste right, diet soda manufacturers use a variety of artificial sweeteners. While sweeteners aren’t all dangerous, many of them pose a risk to your health. Diet sodas mainly contain aspartame, a widespread sweetener which has many negative side effects.

Aspartame has been linked with a number of conditions, which include:

  • Cancer
  • Dementia
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Depression

For now, researchers are still working on proving or disproving the connection between aspartame and these conditions. But there are a few things we know for certain.

The Aspartame in Diet Soda Leads to Weight Gain

Instead of helping you lose weight, diet soda causes weight gain. For people already struggling with obesity, this can mean a major backslide. An increased body weight puts you at risk of many diseases and it also decreases your life expectancy.

So how does this artificial sweetener cause you to gain weight?

Consuming sweetened drinks may change your eating habits without you noticing. These sweeteners cause you to consume more calories. Even if you’re trying to be mindful about what you eat, they may cause cravings which will ruin your diet plan.

There’s a Link Between Diet Soda and Heart Issues

Columbia University and the University of Miami conducted a ten-year study on 2,500 people from New York. At the end of the study, they found that people who drink diet soda are likelier to suffer a stroke or a heart attack.

After analyzing data from nearly 60,000 women, the University of Iowa found that the difference is really significant. Women who drink two or more diet sodas a day are 30% likelier to have heart problems. Their chances of dying of heart-related issues are 50% higher than average.

So, What Can You Do?

Even if science fails to find more links between diseases and aspartame, it’s clear that the best thing to do is avoid diet sodas.

But it can be difficult to give up on a habit. In general, we drink soda to feel awake and energized. The taste is another reason why soda is so well-loved across the world.

If you want to stop consuming both soda and diet soda, the best thing to do is to find a good replacement. In other words, choose a refreshing and delicious drink that will power you through the day.

5 Facts About Princess Adele’s Dragon You Don’t Know!

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The imaginary country in which Princess Adele lived in was called Valdoria. I came up with that name watching “Dancing with The Stars.” There is a professional dancer (very cute) who just happens to have the name of Val. He and his partner were dancing when Valdoria popped into my head. So that is where I came up with the name.

As you see from the title I’m writing five interesting things about my book, “Princess Adele’s Dragon.” What creates interest for one may not for the next one, but I will do the best I can.

1. My book is a Young Adult Fantasy eBook based in Medieval times when Dragons, Knights, Witches and Christianity and war were prevalent. I enjoyed doing the research about this time period. I created a blog earlier on the History of Dragons. You know those big scaly things that legends are made of. The big, green dragon in my book has been given the name, Draiocht (DREE-oct). This name means Magic, enchantment, from lore and arts of the Druids of pre-Christian Ireland and Celtic society. This character will surprise you.

2. The second fact is I have two protagonists and two antagonists. Princess Adele and Prince Anthony are the protagonists and Lord Ashmore, and Mickael are the Protagonist. I didn’t plan the story that way, but my muse decided it needed to play out with the four interacting in their particular roles.

3. Christianity has a small role in my story. During the medieval period the church began the change from the Druid way to one of Christianity. I got the name of one of the primary countries mentioned in my book.. It must have been a very intense and interesting time.

4. I’ve always heard you write what you like to read, and I guess it was true for me. The book was fun to write, and I like to read fantasy. do anything with your imagination. This book has everything from mild violence to love. To read it, follow the link. http://amzn.to/25lUOYM  It is free for the reader who is a member of Amazon Direct.

5. It’s easy reading, even with Draiocht having his secrets.

I mentioned I had written a blog earlier about the history of dragons. If you would like to check that out it is at this link.  http://bit.ly/1V1F0HM

As I close, I want to thank  you readers who stopped by to visit. You are what makes this blog fun for me.  Have a blessed day.  

Do You Enjoy Revision?

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It’s now the new year and this is the first blog I’ve written. Shame on me, but I am full of very good excuses. Happy New Year, my friends. I have just the cliche also, “Better Late than Never,” The nice thing is my well wishes comes straight from the heart.

Now on to the main point of this blog. You were asked if you enjoyed the revision of the books that you wrote or are writing. I can’t say I enjoy it much. I would never make a good editor in my mind. When I’m writing I depend heavily on my writing group at FanStory.com. I can read over a page and I do not see any of the mistakes they find for me. My mind put it down on the paper and it doesn’t let me see everything it should.

There is a article in this months The Writer magazine on Revision. The author, Bernard Malamud believes “Revision is one of the exquisite pleasures of writing”. He also pointed out specific steps to take to help you get through the revision process. Here are his tips, but if you get the chance do read the entire article. It gives you lots of information.

  1. Wait until the first draft is complete before you edit. If you try to edit as you go it could cause problems with your imagination, momentum or maybe your creativity. This is controversial as other writers feel you aren’t writing if you don’t edit as you go. I split it I guess. I revise my chapters as I finish them. It seems to me there are always changes that can be made at anytime. You have to be careful not to get in a long long editing cycle. For some it is hard to be satisfied with their work.
  2. Revise all at once or element by element. That is a decision the writer must make. The way I revise I tend to do element by element. I have to admit that sometimes it can feel as if the job is to big to handle. At those times I get me a cup of tea and sit back from the computer. I have to admit I talk to myself in my head, (Isn’t it called thinking?) about anything other than my book. I might even get up and play with my dogs for a few minutes. Anything to get my mind away from the book.
  3. Revise the whole novel, or section by section. I know this sounds a lot like #2 but in this one he is considering sections as chapter by chapter or dividing the novel into sections. If you edit by this method you have a big opportunity to make a mistake in my view. What if you change an outcome in Chapter 2 that affects the character throughout the book. If the changes aren’t make in every section then confusion can rule.
  4. Fine-tuning versus revising. “Revision is generally distinguished from fine tuning with revision dealing with fiction elements such as character, plot and structure, and even style, and fine tuning dealing with rather minor mechanical issues.
  5. Each of us have our little rules to follow that sometimes can cause problems. When I went to school over 50 years ago we were taught very specific rules on how to write, sentence structure, correct word placement, and on and on. That can lead to rounds and rounds of revision. This is where you need that writing group or a brutally honest friend who can read your work and tell you what you need to do to make it better.

I think Bernard wrapped it up very nicely. “Put simply you write with your heart, and you edit with your head.” Happy editing. Shirley

The Reason for the Season. You Choose!

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Hello, can you believe Christmas is upon us once again? I can finally say I finished everything gift wise yesterday, including the wrapping. My family’s new members came out with the most presents.  Who doesn’t want to buy for three precious baby children, Olivia and Elizabeth and James? James didn’t do badly, and he’s only been around a couple of years. He has the process down of getting gifts pretty well.

My fervent hope for my family is that they all remember the “reason for the season.” I feel it is up to each family to teach their beliefs around Christmas. The Christmas Season has no choice but to turn commercial because it is pushed upon us by the stores and the potential money to be made. Another reason the reason is forgotten is because of non-believers of the Christian Faith. It’s Holiday and party time, and gift-giving does not have the same meaning. Christmas gifts are supposed to represent the gifts of the Magi. Their gifts represented the best of the three Kings countries. Given out of respect for the baby that God said was his son.

This is a Bible passage taken from a 60 Daybook of Prayer that I thought I would share with you.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. I John 4:9 (NIV)

Today as we get ready to celebrate Christmas Eve, think of God’s amazing gift to the world.  Bask in his Holy Light and remember that among all the presents and joys, mistletoe with toys and food abound. Now is the time to center your heart on the rebirth of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Dear God, my thoughts are on the humble birth of Your Son, Jesus, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen

For a total subject change, let me tell you about my new book Thomas Gomel learns about Bullying.  It went to the printer over a month ago.  I was hoping to have it on the market by now, but the publisher is slower than molasses on a cold day. I have to admit I am a little impatient and frustrated even though it does me no good. I’m sure the publishing date will be marked in 2019, but I won’t get to see it until 2020.  It would be nice if the Author copies would be in today’s mail. That would be a nice Christmas present. Oh, well, all in good time.

I want to wish each of you that celebrate to have a wonderful, Merry Christmas and New Year.  Blessings to all.    Shirley

Dobyns Chronicles Review

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I wrote and published Dobyns Chronicles a few years ago but it is always nice to receive good reviews.  I thought today I would share one of those reviews for me. Nothing like feeling good about work you did when it is expressed by someone else in comparison to those reviews that always seem to break your heart a little bit.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving and now Christmas season is upon us. All of you who celebrate the birth of our Savior, have a blessed Christmas.

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

“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 or Charley 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 1800s when he was a young boy in a Texan farm to the mid-1950s 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 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 is Charley staying at a hotel for the very first time. Shirley also seems to have a knack in getting children’s behavior 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 heartstrings 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