Monday, December 26, 2016

Pork Chop and Cabbage Dinner

Happy Day After Christmas! This I prepared my first Christmas dinner and as a result, probably won't do any cooking for a week. The holiday season with the New Year approaching is still busy, so if you have to cook, here's something quick from Fix It and Forget It. Enjoy!

Pork Chop and Cabbage Dinner

2lbs pork chops
3/4 cup chopped onions
2 T dried parsley
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/2 t caraway seeds
1/8 t allspice
1/2 cup beef broth
2 apples cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Place pork in slow cooker. layer onions, parsley and cabbage over pork. Combine salt, pepper, caraway seeds, and allspice. Sprinkle over cabbage. Pour broth over cabbage. Cook on LOW 5-6 hours. Add apple slices 30 minutes before serving.

My mom fixed a pork dish she served with baked apples on Christmas Eve. It was wonderful! I love pork and apples. How about you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Break

I'm taking a break from blogging, but I'll be back December 26. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips

Not great, but it's only the first draft...

Here are ten hard-hitting writing tips from Cody Delistraty's article 21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors.  

1. The first draft of everything is sh**. -Ernest Hemingway

2. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious a**. -David Ogilvy

3. If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker

4. Notice how many of the Olympic athletes effusively thanked their mothers for their success? “She drove me to my practice at four in the morning,” etc. Writing is not figure skating or skiing. Your mother will not make you a writer. My advice to any young person who wants to write is: leave home. -Paul Theroux

5. I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. — Harper Lee

6. You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. ― Jack London

7. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell

8. There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. ― W. Somerset Maugham

9. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

10. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman

For all 21 tips, click here.

Do you have a harsh but eye-opening tip to share?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Life on the Color Line

Dr. Gregory Williams is a former president of the University of Cincinnati, one of the nation's top 25 public research universities. He is also a noted scholar with a vast background in academic leadership. Prior to his post as UC's President, he was the President of the City College of New York.

Dr. Williams has worked in University Administration for over 30 years, holding positions at George Washington University and the University of Iowa.  In addition, he was Dean of Law School and Carter C. Kissell Professor of Law at The Ohio State University.

After I read Dr. Williams's memoir, Life on the Color Line I was amazed that he was able to achieve as much as he has.  It's hard to believe that an individual with such an outstanding resume faced extraordinary challenges that would have destroyed most of us.

So, what made Dr. Williams's life so challenging? It wasn't a physical disability, nor was it the fact that he was a black youth in America during the '40s and 50's, although that was a large part of it.  If you're looking at his picture, you're probably surprised by his ethnicity!

His series of challenges began at age 10, when his parents divorced. Divorce is difficult for any child to endure. But imagine on top of that, learning your true identity.  Picture living a comfortable life as a white child, at the top of the food chain, so to speak, but then finding out that you're really, what in those days was referred to as a "Negro."  "I don't want to be a Negro," Dr. William's little brother Mike cried, "we can't go to the swimming pool and we can't go skating!" And that was just the beginning of their emotional readjustment to the dregs of society.

Dr. Willams and his brother left Virginia with their father, after their father divorced their white mother. From a decent life in Virginia (albeit with some issues), the elder Williams took his sons back to his home state of Indiana.  As a bi-racial man, Dr. Williams's father had passed as white.  He was known as Tony and claimed to be of Italian descent.  But back home, everyone knew Tony, now referred to as Buster, was black.  And being "Negro" inhibited employment opportunities.

The alcoholism of Dr. Williams's father caused a large amount of dysfunction, and his father's chronic unemployment prevented him from caring of his two boys.  Living from hand to mouth, they endured poverty and beatings.

In school, once Dr. Williams was singled out as black (even though he looked white), he faced rejection and ridicule from former friends, as well as hostility from teachers. And among some black students, he was shunned because of his fair complexion.

But despite the odds, Dr. Williams persevered because of an inner strength and desire to achieve.  He always wanted to be a lawyer and was never deterred from that goal.  What pushed him to achieve he said, is that every time he got discouraged, he would recall the first few months of living as an outsider among relatives in Indiana.  "I reminded myself that if I could make it through those days, all other obstacles could be overcome."

When I read Dr. Williams's memoir, I cried, then cried some more.  Now I'm tearing up as I write about it.  I'm a big believer in racial reconciliation, and I'm thankful that our country is on the mend.  But in reality, the racial divide cuts so deep, it may take another century for the wound to heal completely.

Anyone who doesn't understand the extent and complexity of racism in our nation needs to read Dr. Williams's book.  He had the unique opportunity to live as white, but then experienced the extreme culture shock of  black "reassignment."

"In spite of all the pain and grief of my early years," Dr. Williams says, "I am grateful to have been able to view the world from a place few men or women have stood...I am bound to live out my life in the middle of our society and hope that I can be a bridge between races, shouldering the heavy burden that almost destroyed my youth."

Dr. Williams succeeded in pursuing a master's degree, law degree and a doctorate.  He is a true testament to the power of perseverance!

I write stories of forbidden love from the past in which my characters persevere against the odds.  It amazes me that race is such a volatile issue, even today, where love is concerned.  But if two people love each other, they should be together, no matter what the cost.

When Dr. Williams became engaged to a white girl, let's just say...her family had some issues with that.  Read his memoir to find out what happened.

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Originally posted October 11, 2011.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Remembering Sultana

Do you remember Sultana?  If you're like me, you've probably never even heard of it.  I know you've heard of the Titanic, but the Sultana tragedy was the greatest maritime disaster in US history.

My friend Dan recently told me about this disaster and its ties to my hometown of Cincinnati, so I thought I'd share it today.

Here are some excerpts from a fascinating article featured in by Stephen Ambrose:

On April 27, 1865, the steamboat Sultana, some seven miles north of Memphis, Tennessee, carrying 2,300 just-released Union prisoners of war, plus crew and civilian passengers, exploded and sank.

Some 1,700 people died. It was the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history, more costly than even the April 14, 1912 sinking of the Titanic, when 1,517 people were lost. But because the Sultana went down when it did, the disaster was not well covered in the newspapers or magazines, and was soon forgotten. It is scarcely remembered today.

 April 1865 was a busy month; On April 9, at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Five days later President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. On April 26 his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was caught and killed. That same day General Joseph Johnson surrendered the last large Confederate army. Shortly thereafter Union troops captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The Civil War was over. Northern newspapers rejoiced. News of a terrible steamboat tragedy was relegated to the newspaper's back pages. In a nation desensitized to death, 1,700 more did not seem such an enormous tragedy that it does today.

 The accident happened at 2 a.m., when three of the steamship's four boilers exploded. The reason the death toll was almost exactly equal to the number of Union troops killed at the battle of Shiloh (1,758) was gross government incompetence.

The Sultana was legally registered to carry 376 people. She had six times more than that on board, due to the bribery of army officers and the extreme desire of the former POWs to get home. In 1863, the Sultana was built in Cincinnati and began sailing the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, mainly from St. Louis to New Orleans.

She was state of the art, including the most modern safety equipment--safety gauges that fused open when the internal boiler pressure reached 150 pounds per square inch, three fire-fighting pumps, a metallic lifeboat and a wooden yawl, 300 feet of fire hose, thirty buckets, five fire-fighting axes and 76 life belts. In April, 1865, Union POWs were gathered at Vicksburg. They were loaded on steamboats for the trip to Cairo, Illinois, with the government paying $5 per man. That was big money, which led to corruption--steamboat captains kicked back $1.15 to the army officers in charge if they filled the boats with men.

 The Sultana was the last to leave. One of her boilers had sprung a leak and needed repair, but instead of doing the job right--removing and replacing the bulge in the boiler that was the cause--the Sultana captain ordered a patch of metal put over the bulge. That could be done in one day, while a proper repair would consume three or four days. Before that was done, other steamboats would come to Vicksburg from New Orleans and pick up the POWs, leaving the Sultana without these lucrative passengers—thus the hurry-up. 

At 9 p.m., on April 24, the Sultana left Vicksburg to head up river. The captain, J. Cass Mason, told an Army officer his ship had carried so many men before. He said the Sultana was a good vessel and the men were in capable hands. "Take good care of them, the officer replied. "They are deserving of it." The Sultana was badly overcrowded, Mason knew, but not overloaded. On April 26, the ship docked at Memphis to pick up coal. At midnight she headed upriver.

At 2 a.m., April 27, the repaired boiler exploded. Two of the three other boilers exploded. Fire spread through mid-ship. The two smokestacks fell on the boat, crushing the Hurricane deck and killing many men. Those who survived panicked and rather than fighting the fire began to jump into the river. The flames started sweeping toward the stern, causing more panic and jumping. The river was high, flowing fast, crowded with dead, drowning and barely floating men. The Sultana was in flames.

When the sun began to come up, more than 1,700 were dead. The survivors began singing marching tunes. Holding onto their driftwood rafts, they looked like frogs--some men noticed this and began croaking. Almost 800 of the 2,500 passengers survived (although 200 later died). On the Titanic, 882 feet long, 1,517 died. On the Sultana, 260 feet long, the toll was 1,700. The steamship, what was left of it, drifted downriver and sank opposite Memphis. She lies today, covered with mud, at the bottom of the Mississippi River.

To read the complete article, click here.

Had you ever heard about the Sultana? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Take time to be thankful for all of your blessings, love on your family and friends, and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner! I'm off from blogging this week but will be back next Monday.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cranberry Chicken

The election is over--finally! Now the holiday season is upon us. It's a busy time, so here's an easy recipe for the crock pot, from the cookbook Fix-It and Forget-It, to save time during the holiday rush. Enjoy!

Cranberry Chicken

3-4 lbs. chicken pieces
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup BBQ sauce

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and bake on HIGH for 4 hours, or LOW for 6-8 hours.

Cooking can't get much easier than that. Sound good to you?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Manchurian Candidate

Laurence Harvey
The count down is on! Tomorrow is the big day--election day, so be sure to vote! I don't know about you, but I'll be happy when the big day has come and gone! 

However, if you're caught up in the season and really enjoy all things politics, you'll probably like the movie The Manchurian Candidate. I'm referring to the 1962 version. I rented it years ago and found it absorbing and quite fascinating. Like Citizen Kane, it's one you have to watch from the beginning and pay close attention. Filmsite Movie Review says: 

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) is director-producer John Frankenheimer's prophetically tragic, chilling, brilliant, blackish (film-noirish) Cold War thriller about brain-washing, conspiracy, the dangers of international Communism, McCarthyism, assassination, and political intrigue. Laurence Harvey is brilliant as a brainwashed Korean war hero who has been programmed as a Soviet sleeper/mole agent to assassinate a Presidential candidate. It can be categorized within many film genres - it functions as a horror film, a war film, a science fiction film, a black comedy, a suspense-thriller, and a political melodrama (with additional segments of romance and action).
Janet Leigh

The mood of this pseudo-documentary, satirical film masterpiece (from prolific veteran television director Frankenheimer) is paranoic, surrealistic, dark, macabre, cynical, and foreboding - these elements are combined in a traditional, top-notch suspenseful thriller framework with a nail-biting, Alfred Hitchcock-like climax. The movie displays the emerging role and importance of television in broadcasting public affairs and shaping opinion, and the circus atmosphere that surrounds American politics.

Read the complete review here. This film is considered by many critics to be one of the best movies ever made. Have you ever seen it?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Six Ways to Hook Your Reader!

I visited Write it Sideways and found a great article by Suzannah Windsor Freedman on how to hook your reader from the very first line. Hope this comes in handy for any writers out there!
Although I consider myself an avid reader, I must admit I have a short attention span when it comes to getting into books. If you fail to grab my attention in the first few lines, I start spacing out.
Most readers are like me. Most people don’t want to spend the first 50 pages trying to get into a book.
Here are a few things I find annoying in the first lines of a story:
  • Dialogue. Nice somewhere on the first or second page, but not in the first line. We won’t know who’s speaking or why we should care.
  • Excessive description. Some description is good, but not when it’s long winded. Skip the purple prose and opt for something more powerful.
  • Irrelevant information. The first few lines of your story are crucial, so give your reader only important information.
  • Introducing too many characters. I don’t like to be bombarded with the names of too many characters at once. How are we supposed to keep them straight when we don’t know who’s who?
The last thing you want to do as a writer is annoy or bore people. Instead, try one of these 6 ways to hook your readers right off the bat:
(N.B. One of the easiest ways to check out the opening pages of nearly any book you want is with the ‘Look Inside!‘ feature on

1. Make your readers wonder

Put a question in your readers’ minds. What do those first lines mean? What’s going to happen? Make them wonder, and you’ll keep them reading.

2. Begin at a pivotal moment

By starting at an important moment in the story, your reader is more likely to want to continue so he or she can discover what will happen next.
  • “It was dark where she was crouched but the little girl did as she’d been told.” ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden
  • “I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.” ~Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
3. Create an Interesting picture

Description is good when it encourages people to paint a picture in their minds. Often, simple is best so it’s the reader who imagines a scene, instead of simply being told by the author.
  • “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” ~Daphne DuMaurier, Rebecca
  • “She stands up in the garden where she has been working and looks into the distance.” ~Michael Ontaatje, The English Patient

4. Introduce an intriguing character

The promise of reading more about a character you find intriguing will, no doubt, draw you into a story’s narrative. Most often, this is one of the main characters in the book.
  • “I was born twice: first as a baby girl on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” ~Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

5. Start with an unusual situation

Show us characters in unusual circumstances, and we’ll definitely be sticking around to see what it’s all about.
  • “They had flown from England to Minneapolis to look at a toilet.” ~Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked
  • Last night, I dreamt that I chopped Andrew up into a hundred little pieces, like a Benihana chef, and ate them, one by one.” ~Julie Buxbaum, The Opposite of Love

6. Begin with a compelling narrative voice

Open your story with the voice of a narrator we can instantly identify with, or one that relates things in a fresh way.
  • “As I begin to tell this, it is the golden month of September in southwestern Ontario.” ~Alistair MacLeod, No Great Mischief
  • “I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” ~Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
No matter how you start your book, keep your readers in mind. What will make them want to continue reading? What will potentially make them put down your book?
How does your favourite book open, and what makes it so compelling?
 Thanks for visiting and have a great week, and thank you, Suzannah Windsor Freeman, for a great article! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Citizen Kane

Last week I listed some of my favorite political movies. This week I thought I'd focus on one in particular, Citizen Kane, considered  to be one of the greatest, if not THE greatest movie ever made! I love the story, the acting and the cinematography.

William Bayer, in his book The Great Movies, says, "Citizen Kane is a version of Faust, the story of a man who gains the world and loses his soul... Orson Welles has said that Citizen Kane is a 'portrait of a public man's private life,' and that may be the best summary of all."

Bayer explains that Citizen Kane is about William Randolph Hearst, not literally, of course, but in the form of a fictionalized fantasy produced with the intention of exploiting public interest in a controversial man... One of the most delightful things about Citizen Kane is the way it uses Hearst against himself. Citizen Kane exploits him the way his papers exploited everyone else. Citizen Kane is yellow journalism. It sacrifices the truth about Hearst for the sensational aspects of his story."  

Never seen the movie? Here's some information from Wikipedia:

Citizen Kane is a 1941 American mystery drama film by Orson Welles, its producer, co-author, director and star. The picture was Welles's first feature film. Nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories, it won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles. Considered by many critics, filmmakers, and fans to be the greatest film of all time... It topped the American Film Institute's 100 Years ... 100 Movies list in 1998, as well as its 2007 updateCitizen Kane is particularly praised for its cinematography, music, and narrative structure, which were innovative for its time.

The quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character based in part upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Chicago tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick, and aspects of Welles's own life. Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers. Kane's career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is told through the research of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud."

Here's the synopsis, courtesy of Wikipedia:

In a mansion in Xanadu, a vast palatial estate in Florida, the elderly Charles Foster Kane is on his deathbed. Holding a snow globe, he utters a word, "Rosebud", and dies; the globe slips from his hand and smashes on the floor. A newsreel obituary tells the life story of Kane, an enormously wealthy newspaper publisher. Kane's death becomes sensational news around the world, and the newsreel's producer tasks reporter Jerry Thompson with discovering the meaning of "Rosebud".
Thompson sets out to interview Kane's friends and associates. He approaches Kane's second wife, Susan Alexander Kane, now an alcoholic who runs her own nightclub, but she refuses to talk to him. Thompson goes to the private archive of the late banker Walter Parks Thatcher. Through Thatcher's written memoirs, Thompson learns that Kane's childhood began in poverty in Colorado.
In 1871, after a gold mine was discovered on her property, Kane's mother Mary Kane sends Charles away to live with Thatcher so that he would be properly educated. While Thatcher and Charles' parents discuss arrangements inside, the young Kane plays happily with a sled in the snow outside his parents' boarding-house and protests being sent to live with Thatcher.
Years later, after gaining full control over his trust fund at the age of 25, Kane enters the newspaper business and embarks on a career of yellow journalism. He takes control of the New York Inquirer and starts publishing scandalous articles that attack Thatcher's business interests. After the stock market crash in 1929, Kane is forced to sell controlling interest of his newspaper empire to Thatcher.
Back in the present, Thompson interviews Kane's personal business manager, Mr. Bernstein. Bernstein recalls how Kane hired the best journalists available to build the Inquirer's circulation. Kane rose to power by successfully manipulating public opinion regarding the Spanish–American War and marrying Emily Norton, the niece of a President of the United States.
Thompson interviews Kane's estranged best friend, Jedediah Leland, in a retirement home. Leland recalls how Kane's marriage to Emily disintegrates more and more over the years, and he begins an affair with amateur singer Susan Alexander while he is running for Governor of New York. Both his wife and his political opponent discover the affair and the public scandal ends his political career. Kane marries Susan and forces her into a humiliating operatic career for which she has neither the talent nor the ambition.
Back in the present, Susan now consents to an interview with Thompson, and recalls her failed opera career. Kane finally allows her to abandon her singing career after she attempts suicide. After years spent dominated by Kane and living in isolation at Xanadu, Susan leaves Kane. Kane's butler Raymond recounts that, after Susan leaves him, Kane begins violently destroying the contents of her bedroom. He suddenly calms down when he sees a snow globe and says, "Rosebud."
Back at Xanadu, Kane's belongings are being cataloged or discarded. Thompson concludes that he is unable to solve the mystery and that the meaning of Kane's last word will forever remain an enigma. As the film ends, the camera reveals that "Rosebud" is the trade name of the sled on which the eight-year-old Kane was playing on the day that he was taken from his home in Colorado. Thought to be junk by Xanadu's staff, the sled is burned in a furnace.
Citizen Kane is a masterpiece and a great movie to watch any time, but especially during the political season! However, don't multi-task while watching! Pay close attention so you don't miss any of the details significant to the story, as well as the brilliant cinematography.
Have you ever seen Citizen Kane? If so, what are your thoughts?
Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Great Political Movies

November 8th is right around the corner so be sure to get out and vote! In honor of election day, I'm listing some of my favorite political movies:

Citizen Kane
The Manchurian Candidate
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Meet John Doe
The Ides of March
All the President's Men
His Girl Friday
Seven Days in May
All the King's Men

I don't know about you, but I've had enough of radio and television ads for all the candidates, but I never tire of a good movie!  What are some of your favorite political movies?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Scrumptious Beef

A few years ago I found the cookbook Fix It and Forget It at Half Price Books. I think I paid less than five dollars for it, and what a great investment! It's filled with lots of great recipes for crock pot, including this one, Scrumptious Beef. It sounds fabulous and EASY, which I love! I'm not a fan of cutting and chopping, so for the one chopped onion, I'd use 1 cup of pre-chopped frozen ones. They're a real time saver. Hope you enjoy this!

Scrumptious Beef

2 lbs beef, cubed
1/2 lb mushrooms sliced
10 1/2 oz. can beef broth
1 onion chopped
10 3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
3 T dry onion soup mix

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 3-4 hours. or LOW 7-8 hours. Serve over hot cooked rice.

If you're looking for comfort food, I think this would hit the spot. Speaking of which, do you have a favorite comfort food? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, October 3, 2016

20 Writing Tips From Fiction Authors

For all the writers out there--published, aspiring and everything in between--here's a great article from iUniverse that I thought would be worth sharing!

Writing success boils down to hard work, imagination and passion—and then some more hard work. iUniverse Publishing fires up your creative spirit with 20 writing tips from 12 bestselling fiction authors.

Use these tips as an inspirational guide—or better yet, print a copy to put on your desk, home office, refrigerator door, or somewhere else noticeable so you can be constantly reminded not to let your story ideas wither away by putting off your writing.

Tip1: "My first rule was given to me by TH White, author of The Sword in the Stone and other Arthurian fantasies and was: Read. Read everything you can lay hands on. I always advise people who want to write a fantasy or science fiction or romance to stop reading everything in those genres and start reading everything else from Bunyan to Byatt." — Michael Moorcock

Tip 2: "Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you." — Zadie Smith

Tip 3: "Introduce your main characters and themes in the first third of your novel. If you are writing a plot-driven genre novel make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction. Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development. Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution." — Michael Moorcock

Tip 4: "In the planning stage of a book, don't plan the ending. It has to be earned by all that will go before it." — Rose Tremain

Tip 5: "Always carry a note-book. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever." — Will Self

Tip 6: "It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction." — Jonathan Franzen
"Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet." — Zadie Smith

Tip 7: "Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 8: "Read it aloud to yourself because that's the only way to be sure the rhythms of the sentences are OK (prose rhythms are too complex and subtle to be thought out—they can be got right only by ear)." — Diana Athill

Tip 9: "Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." – Anton Chekhov

Tip 10: "Listen to the criticisms and preferences of your trusted 'first readers.'" — Rose Tremain

Tip 11: "Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 12: "Don't panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends' embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there's prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too." — Sarah Waters

Tip 13: "The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement – if you can't deal with this you needn't apply." — Will Self

Tip 14: "Be your own editor/critic. Sympathetic but merciless!" — Joyce Carol Oates

Tip 15: "The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator." — Jonathan Franzen

Tip 16: "Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful." —Elmore Leonard

Tip 17: "Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." — Neil Gaiman

Tip 18: "You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished." — Will Self

Tip 19: "The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it's definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." — Neil Gaiman

Tip 20: "The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying ‘Faire et se taire’ (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’" — Helen Simpson

Even famous authors sometimes have a tough time with writing; they also go through periods of self-doubt. Despite this, they always manage to come up with the goods. So take a lesson from them and stop putting off your writing plans and get started on your publishing journey today.

There has never been a better time than now to realize your dream of becoming a published author. Let your voice be heard and let your story be told. Never let your passion for writing wane. 

I think all of these tips are wonderful, but 4, 5 and 9 are my favorites. Which of these do you like best? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Body Language: Louder Than Words

Last week I posted about Olivia de Havilland and her onscreen relationship with dashing Errol Flynn in the eight swashbuckling films they made together during the late 1930's and early '40's.
Flynn and wife Lili Damita
Although they portrayed romantic couples onscreen, a real-life love story never blossomed between them.
Flynn with wife Lili Damita
Flynn was married to French actress Lili Damita while he and Miss de Havilland were making pictures together. However, if he hadn't been, things probably would have turned out differently between them.
Flynn and wife Lily Damita
Both actors admit that they did have feelings for each other and that the chemistry was there. In doing a little research last week, I found pictures of Flynn with his wife, and others with him and Miss de Havilland in candid shots.
Flynn and de Havilland (not acting)

Take a look at the body language and tell me who he looks happier with.
Flynn and de Havilland (not acting)
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!
Flynn and de Havilland (not acting)

Monday, September 19, 2016

No Wicked Ways With Her

I just realized that Olivia de Havilland, the only surviving cast member of the 1939 classic movie Gone With the Wind (she played Melanie), recently turned 100. I looked her up on Wikipedia and learned an interesting tidbit. She made eight films with Australian heart-throb Errol Flynn, but despite their many pairings, fireworks between them never ignited. Here's why:

Although known as one of Hollywood's most exciting on-screen couples, de Havilland and Errol Flynn were never involved in a romantic relationship.Upon first meeting her at Warner Bros. in August 1935, Flynn was drawn to the 19-year-old actress with "warm brown eyes" and "extraordinary charm." In turn, de Havilland fell in love with him,but kept her feelings inside, later recalling, "He never guessed I had a crush on him ... it never occurred to me that he was smitten with me, too."

Flynn later wrote, "By the time we made The Charge of the Light Brigade, I was sure that I was in love with her." Flynn finally professed his love on March 12, 1937, at the Coronation Ball for King George VI at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where they slow danced together to "Sweet Leilani" at the hotel's Cocoanut Grove nightclub. "I was deeply affected by him," she later remembered, "It was impossible for me not to be." The evening ended on a sobering note, however, with de Havilland insisting that despite his separation from his wife Lili Damita, he needed to divorce her before their relationship could proceed. Flynn reunited with his wife later that year, and de Havilland never acted on her feelings for Flynn. 

I thought I'd read somewhere that she couldn't stand him. Guess I was wrong!

These are the films they appeared in together: 
Captain Blood (1935) 
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) 
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) 
Four's a Crowd (1938) 
Dodge City (1939) 
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) 
Santa Fe Trail (1940) 
They Died with Their Boots On (1941)

I haven't viewed all of them, but of the ones I have, I think I enjoyed Robin Hood best! Have you seen any of them?  If so, which are your favorites?  

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!