Experimenting with the New Editor

COMPUTER WITH TONGUE OUT

Readers, you can totally ignore this post if you like. I am just experimenting with the brand new editor — and as a result of my experiment, I am venting profusely. As usual, over the last 6 years, WordPress will not leave well enough alone. They do not understand the meaning of the advice: “If it isn’t broken, DON’T FIX IT!”

What don’t I like?  Well, to begin with, I asked where in the heck are the tools to make text bold, to underline, to insert special characters? Not only are they not visible, but WP does not even give me a note in this editor to tell me where I can find them.  I will stop here and say that as I wrote this paragraph, I searched in the block search window for a “bold text” button. The editor told me there was none.  But then all of a sudden I got a row of tools with a bold button showing up along the top of my post. Now, where did that come from? I have no clue how I got it, or how I will get it again if I need it?

And I still can’t find an “underline” symbol or a button to click to let me insert special characters. I did finally find a section called “Keyboard shortcuts.”  That will let me use my keyboard to get something underlined or switched to italics. Then, after about half and hour, I finally saw a button that let me add the “classic editor tools,” but they come in on the bottom of the post instead of the top, and you have to tell it to “hide the block settings” before the tools will work in the text. But all of these features are twice the work that the old editor required to accomplish those jobs. Why on earth would any writer want that??? 

And I still can’t find a way to insert special characters — like the copyright symbol — which we all need from time to time. What is it that makes WordPress believe that we will appreciate having to learn how to do almost everything from scratch again? And what’s with the paragraph symbol all over the place?  It pops up right and left when there should be no need for it. Previously, all we had to do was space down an extra line, and we had an automatic new paragraph. Not anymore. Also, I tried to right click and choose “select all” so I could copy the text, but the editor will not select all. It selects only the paragraph that I’m close to when I right click. I finally hunted around for an option that said “copy all content,” but when I did and pasted it into a document, it pasted all the HTML codes into the text as well.

I went to my admin page to see what I had available for help there, and there’s a link that says I can “try a live demo which will highlight some of the key features of the new editor.”  But when I clicked on that link, it took me to a page with 4 black boxes with a label for each feature, but did absolutely nothing to show me what they actually are or how they work. Supposedly, this new editor is great for what they call “media-rich” posts and for people who worry about whether their content looks good on all sizes and kinds of devices. WordPress has claimed for years that they have themes that can be relied on for those features. If there are a some bloggers out there who really need a new kind of editor, then WP needs to develop a couple separate themes that will allow those bloggers the extra technology. But for those of us who are actually writers — who want to use our sites to “say” something in a simple, easy, quickly-posted manner — they need to just leave us alone, for pity’s sake, and let us get on with blogging.

This whole editor looks like a lot of mumbo-jumbo junk to me. I have to laugh when I see that they are naming the new editor ‘Gutenberg.’ Holy cow, the man would roll over in his grave if he had to deal with an editing program like this one!  But then why should WordPress care what I think? I’m just the creator and administrator of 5 blogs/websites on WP (all under different names and e-mail accounts to avoid confusion.) And since I  have only 5 sites, why should my concerns make any difference, right?

Not only does the problem affect me personally, but since I teach blogging classes —  and, by the way, have been responsible for getting several new bloggers to do business with WordPress over the past 4 years — this change drastically affects my students as well. I can tell already that this new concept editor is going to be much more difficult for brand new bloggers to get a handle on, and, frankly, I’m concerned that they will give up and just quit — which would be a shame for them, for me, and for WordPress.

Anyway, they are not going to allow us to stick with the old editor window — which is actually the new editor window from just about 3  years ago — and which caused a lot of confusion for multiple bloggers, particularly those new to the blogging world. Now that everyone is finally pretty comfortable using that editor, Word Press feels they MUST get rid of it and force something else new on us.

Oh well, they are still a better platform than Blogger — barely —  so I guess I’ll stick with them for a while yet and see how things go. Since I have 5 blogs to deal with, that would be a whole lot of work if I decided to change them to another platform. Staying put sounds like the easier choice, but I’m not sure how long that will be true. Maybe — just maybe — I’ll be able to make friends with this new editor at some point — if I don’t give up first. After an hour of frustration, I finally switched back to the old editor to get my post to look normal before I hit “publish,” but how long will I be able to make that choice???????

 

 


 

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Irresistible Invitation

I was watching an art tutorial the other day, and the artist shared about something she had learned from a life coach that had changed her life for the good. It was the concept of determining what you give your time and energy to by always “focusing on what sparks joy.” The concept found a home in my heart as well. It’s very good advice, and I intend to follow it more in the future. In light of that fact, I offer this bit of Haiku for two reasons: Writing it sparks joy in me, and I hope reading it sparks the same joy in you.

 

WEIMARANER PUPPY -- Romek -- PX

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If you need some love,

I know where you can find it:
I’ll be here all day.

 

 

 


 

Once Upon A Time: A Story In Any Language

More than three years ago, I did a post discussing how so many of our stories have characteristics and qualities that are both generic and universal. That fact is so true that we’ve even cultivated phrasing and syntax patterns that fit specific themes and plots.  The whole concept is fascinating to me. (Naturally it would be, considering that I’m not only a writer, but also a creative writing teacher.) 

So I decided to experiment a little with writing a story using nonsense terms instead of normal nouns and verbs. — to demonstrate the fact that any avid reader would be able to understand the story with very little trouble. The reason readers will understand is that the pattern, plot, and emotional tone all fit a specific type of fiction. The experiment was fun, and I often use it in my writing classes as an example to my students that many times it isn’t just choosing the right word that matters. It’s also how we put those words together that makes the whole piece a good story.

I decided to share the experiment again on this site. Hope you enjoy it.


DRAGON - PUB DOM TOTALLY -- Friedrich-Johann-Justin-Bertuch_Mythical-Creature-Dragon - TALL
Public Domain — Artist: Friedrich-Johann-Justin-Bertuch 

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THE BONDO DELAFOR

The young delafor wandered through the cogem, wishing he could find a delafora to be his rhuba. He’d heard the fonders tell of bondo delafors who had won the hands of delaforas by zonering the terrible goganbulls. He knew the goganbulls were threatening the cogem, and many delafors were terrizon of them. He didn’t know if he were bondo enough to zoner a goganbull or not, but he hoped he’d have a chance.

One day the great kinba of the cogem announced that a goganbull had been spotted just outside the cogem. The great kinba porsayed that he would give the most beautiful delafora to the delafor who zonered that goganbull.

So the young delafor raced to his stetsa, hopped on, and took off to find the goganbull and zoner it. When he found the goganbull, it was maxma!  It was so maxma that the young delafor’s stetsa reared up, threw the delafor off, and ran away. Now the only thing the delafor had was his pontier. So he looked the goganbull in the eye, stood up straight and tall and shumed toward him. Keeping eye contact, he shumed all the way to within two feet of him. The goganbull gloamed and hot smeltz came from his buzzle.

But the young delafor rememberd the beautiful delafora who was porsayed by the great kinba. The delafor wanted that delafora for his rhuba very badly. So he aimed his pontier and shumed the last two feet toward the goganbull; then he flumed his pontier right into the goganbulls corva. With one horrible gloam, the goganbull fell over, and black smoke roold from his buzzle. Then all was quiet.

The young delafor took his pontier and whapped off the goganbull’s henda and carried it back to the great kinba. That day the young delafor won the most beautiful delafora in the cogem to be his very own rhuba. And they both lived schnookumy ever after.

TE  FUND

 

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‘Tell Me A Story’ Writing Challenge 9/19/18

Anybody got a story about this lonely gate to . . . somewhere? . . . anywhere? . . . nowhere? . . . Wherever your imagination takes you.

GATE WITH WEEDSIf you’re in the mood for a writing challenge, create a new story from this photo by Terry Valley. Try to keep it around 500-800 words, and when you’ve posted it on your blog, hop over here and leave the link to the story in the “Comments” section below.

I’m not sure if I’ll have time this week to write a story for this picture or not, but whether I do or don’t, I hope several of you will. I’ll enjoy reading them, and I know others will too. Let’s say you can post your story anytime between today and next Wednesday, September 26.

And if you do write a story, be sure to put the link to this post on your site with your story so that your own followers will know about the challenge and can participate too.

Happy Writing.

 

 


 

We Have Another New Neighbor

HOUSE AND CAT -- croppedI’m excited to tell you that another writing friend of mine has decided to take up residence at WordPress. His name is Ken Hill, and he writes some pretty neat stories.

He’s also a grandpa, and I think he gets a lot of his inspiration from making up so many stories for his grandchildren, but he writes for all ages and about a lot of different subjects. I’m sure my followers will like Ken and what he has to share.

The name of his site is “Stray Cat Alley.” Now, you’ll have to ask him yourself what that title’s all about. But I hope you’ll stop by his site for a visit and get to know him. Just follow the link in the blog title.

 

 


 

Share Your World 8/20/18

If you’d like to take part in the “Share Your World” weekly get-together, just hop over to Cee’s Photography and get the details.
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GLOBE - PIECE OF THE WORLD w. text.

Question # 1:  Which tastes better: black or green olives?

I love both, so I can’t choose between them. However, since I do try to watch how much extra sodium I take in, I tend to eat more black olives than green.

Question # 2: What’s your favorite room in your house? 

Well, again, I can’t really choose. Depends on what I’m doing. I love my kitchen because I love the blue and white color scheme and the light, friendly atmosphere. But I enjoy my living room for a lot more hours of any given day. I have my computers, most of my books, and my watercolor materials in that room, so whether I’m writing, reading, researching, or painting, I’m enjoying the living room. The only things not in that room that I need periodically are my musical keyboard and my bed, and they both reside in the bedroom just off the living room. The only room I don’t actually enjoy is my second bedroom, which has been converted to a laundry room/storage room, and it’s a reminder of how very unorganized I am.

Question # 3: What fictional family would you be a member of?

Oh, definitely the family of characters I created in my Smoky Mountain Series novels. Of course that ‘family’ is made up of about 4 different families who are tightly intertwined. They are the kind of people I want to be and the kind of people I want for family and friends. Plus — they all live where I want to live: right smack-dab in the middle of the Smoky Mountains.

Questions # 4: What did you appreciate or what made you smile this week?

Ahhh!  There’s no need to even think about this one: I paid off the mortgage on my house this week!!!!!!!!!   Yes!!!!!!!!  And I am smiling reeeeeeeaaaaallllly big.  Thank you, God!

 

 


 

Weekend Coffee Share 8/18/18

If we were having coffee together today, I’d tell you that I need about 3 more cups, along with a huge piece of chocolate cake and a handful of potato chips — you know — for that ‘sweet & salty’ touch. It could be that I’m just hungry because I’m writing this at suppertime. But I’m not fixing supper right now because I’m waiting for my nephew to come and move a very heavy appliance for me. So I’m probably just really, really hungry period. But boy, the coffee and chocolate cake would make a great supper, if you ask me.

I’ve had a very busy week, but it’s not the kind of stuff I really want to spend time going back over, so instead of telling you about my week, I’m going to do something different this time around. I’m going to give you one of my stories from what will soon be an anthology of short stories from the Elixir of Life Coffeehouse. So put your feet up and have another cup on me while you read.

 

COFFEE & LAPTOP -- Gilliw 1864 -- PX

AS THE PLOT UNRAVELS

“I don’t know what to do,” Neville groaned, rubbing his hands roughly over his face. Then he pushed his laptop out of the way and leaned both elbows onto the coffeehouse table, propping his chin in his hands.

“What’s wrong?” Clarence, the waiter bussing the table next to Neville’s, turned to question him.

Neville looked up, startled. “Oh … blast … I didn’t realize I had said that out loud. Sorry,” he added looking sheepishly around the room to see if other customers had heard. He was relieved to see that Elixir of Life Coffeehouse was having one of its quieter days.

“No problem,” Clarence answered and walked over to Neville’s table. “Can I get you a refill?”

“Yeah, that would be great,” Neville answered, handing the boy his cup. “It’s been a rough writing day.”

The young man returned in record time with Neville’s refill and stayed to talk a moment. “Do you have what they call writer’s block?”

“No.” Neville shook his head and continued. “No, Clarence. This isn’t writer’s block. In fact, I almost wish I did have that dreaded condition. My problem isn’t that I can’t get the story to move along. This story is moving along at an incredible pace. The problem is that it’s writing itself, and my original plot is unraveling as fast as I can put my fingers to the keys.”

“You mean you’re not in control of your own story?” Clarence looked at Neville as if he had lost his mind — just a little. And that made Neville laugh.

“Don’t worry, my boy,” he said. “I’ve not gone bonkers yet. And … thanks for making me laugh. It helps. But to answer your question, no, I’m not in control of my own story.”

“Wow … how does that happen?” Clarence asked, really into this new information he was being exposed to.

“Well it’s not too unusual for a writer to get into a novel and find that one of his characters seems to gravitate in a direction other than what he had originally planned — or that the story seems to be flowing toward an ending that’s different from what he jotted down in his outline. But what’s happening in my story is different.”

“How?”

Neville shook his head and sighed. “I’m not sure how it’s happened, but every character seems to be taking on a brand new identity and making his own decisions. The guy I had pegged as the hero has suddenly become the villain, and the woman he loves is rapidly developing feelings for his best friend — which means he will probably end up killing his best friend — he’s already entertained the idea — and maybe even offing the woman as well.”

“But does it matter who ends up being the villain and the hero — I mean — as long as you have one of each, it’ll come out even, right?”

Neville chuckled. “Well, it’s not quite that easy. My publisher assigned me a contract to do a specific kind of story. One that will be a believable sequel to my last three novels. They were moneymakers, and I’d hate to mess up a record like that. I spent the money I made on them, and now I need more.” He rubbed his face agitatedly again. “Besides that, I’d be breaking my contract if I didn’t give them what I guaranteed.”

“MmMmm, you do have a problem,” Clarence said, so engulfed in the conversation now that he just sat right down at the table beside Neville.  They both sat in silence for a moment, Neville stirring his coffee and staring at it as if he could somehow find an answer in the dark liquid. Finally Clarence asked, “Why don’t you just delete all that part that changed and go back to your first chapter and start over on the story you intended to write. That would take care of it wouldn’t it?”

“Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that.”

“Why not?” Clarence asked, his face showing his obvious confusion.

“Well, Clarence … as strange as I’m sure it sounds to you … the truth is that I’ve totally lost track of the story I intended to write … and besides ….” He paused and glanced off to the side, lost in thought for a long moment. Clarence waited, figuring Neville was trying to work out a plan.

Suddenly Neville looked back at Clarence with a smile on his face. He looked serene  now, rather than agitated, and Clarence leaned toward him across the table to ask, “You figure something out? How to stop this runaway story?”

“Nope,” Neville said, grinning wider. “I’m not going to stop this story, Clarence.”

“Huh?”

Neville reached over and rested his hand on Clarence’s shoulder. “Clarence, my boy, I’ve made a decision. I’m going to give this story my whole heart and soul and let it lead me wherever it wants to go.”

“But what about your contract and all?”

“Blast the contract,” Neville said, beginning to close up his laptop and slip his notes into his briefcase. “If that publisher can’t see the truth about the value of this story, then he can sue me.”

“But –”

“No more ‘but’s‘ my boy,” Neville answered, rising from his chair, laptop under his arm. “This is the best damn story I’ve ever written in my life, and I’ve just decided I’m free enough to give my creativity its own head and let it take me to my destiny.”

He slapped down his last five dollar bill as a tip for Clarence and headed out the door, whistling.

 


If you’d like to take part in the “Weekend Coffee Share” posts, hop over to Eclectic Ali’s site and get the details about how to join the group.

 

 

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Weekend Coffee Share 8/5/18

COFFEE METAL POT POURING - Coyot - PX

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If we were having coffee together today, I’d tell you that I had the funniest thing happen concerning my writing this week. One of the students in my creative writing class stopped to talk with me after our recent class and told me that he had just finished reading one of my novels. He said he had enjoyed it, but he had discovered a discrepancy that he thought I’d want to know about.

He referred me to the scenes in question and explained that in an early scene I had mentioned a bathroom not having a window at all (something important to the plot), and then in a much later scene I had referred to the size of the “bathroom window.” My mouth fell open as I listened to him, and my response was what you might expect: “You’re kidding!!!”  And then, of course, I thanked him for telling me and told him I’d check it out immediately.

Well, sure enough, folks. He was right. Not only did I say there was no bathroom window in one scene, but later, in two different scenes, I mentioned there being a bathroom window. So … unless I want to bring in a construction company and allow them to remodel the house as part of the plot, I need to rewrite my description of that bathroom.

Now, the funny part is this: I had written the first four chapters of that book a few years ago and had gotten bogged down with it and just put it on a shelf. Last year I decided I really wanted to finish it, so I promised my website readers that I would post the story one chapter a day on my site in order to force myself to finish the story in a timely fashion. So people from all over the world read that story, one chapter at a time, and commented on it. A few got very involved with it. And of course, the book had two different editing sessions before it went into publication as a complete work. Yet not one person noticed that a bathroom window had suddenly appeared in a bathroom that had no window.

I told my student that he is the only living human being who caught that mistake. I also suggested that maybe he should get a job as a proofreader.  🙂  But I’m so glad he didn’t hold back, afraid to tell me about the mistake — particularly since I was his writing teacher. There are some people who probably would have been hesitant to say anything. And I’m glad that I no longer publish that book with the original publisher, but I currently have it published through a self-publishing platform with Amazon. So that means I can get into the system, correct my mistake, and make sure only the corrected text gets published from now on.

The whole episode was a tad embarrassing, but it was also a great teaching tool, in that it serves to re-emphasize the truth that editing and re-writing are, without question, the most important part of writing any book.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our coffee time. Would anyone like a refill? I think I could use another cup. I have some rewriting to do …


Thanks to Eclectic Ali for hosting our coffee share.

 

 

 


 

Red

RED SWATCH

I was talking recently with a good friend, a very talented artist, who also has a love for unique literature and for writing. Having spent a lot of time in Japan, he has an immense appreciation for that country’s culture and it’s literature. He’s currently working on a book of poetry in Japanese — poems with unique subject matter and perspectives on elements of the world and life. One of the things he’s experimenting with is being able to express color in words only — so that someone who’s never seen the color can get a true sense of what it is. He asked me if I had any ideas or concepts concerning the color red that might be worked into such a piece.

I shared with him that I had actually written a short piece like that a few years ago about the color green. And the idea of doing the same thing for other colors was intriguing. So I left the conversation with his asking me to think about the color and pass on any concepts that came to me in case they provided something more he might incorporate into his work.

Well, a challenge like that is just too much to withstand, so I found my mind delving into the subject repeatedly over the next 12 hours. And, sure enough, I came up with my personal version of describing the color red in words only. I shared it with him, of course, with permission to use any of the ideas or concepts he thought would be helpful. But then I decided that my followers here and on my poetry site might enjoy it as well.

And, no worries: my sharing it here won’t step on his toes where his own work is concerned. Because the only thing he’s considering using are some of the concepts I’ve shared,  not the poem itself. And, of course, since his book of poems is being written in Japanese, my English poem won’t interfere with the effect of his finished work in the least. So here’s my interpretation of that wonderful, unique color.

RED

Red is fire and passion.
It lives; it shouts; it takes possession
Of every scene in which it plays a part.
It is the exclamation mark of life.

It speaks of blood that flows throughout our veins.
It speaks of hate that steals away that blood.
It speaks of love that overcomes all hate.

It’s energy unleashed:
Invigorating, stimulating, titillating, aggravating.

Bold, emphatic, quite dramatic;
Life-inspiring, soul-empowering:
Red!

 

 


 

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

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BILL LEWIS PIC - LIGHTENED - CLOSE CROP - 355Bill’s his name. Talking ’bout Jesus is his game.

Hey, everyone, I’d like to introduce you to a blogging student and good friend of mine: Bill Lewis.  He moved into the WordPress neighborhood a short time ago, and he’s about to get the hang of blogging. He is a minister of the Gospel, and he likes to post about Jesus and His love for people. He talks about a few other things on his site as well, but his focus will be on sharing things from God’s Word that will, hopefully, help people in their everyday lives.

I hope you’ll hop over and see him when you get time. He’s still learning some of the ropes, so if you comment on his posts, please don’t feel bad if it takes him a while to answer, since he’s just now getting into that part of the process. But he will appreciate your visits and the chance to get to know you and to visit your site in the near future.

He’s also recently published his first book, which he’ll be talking about on his blog soon.

I’ve told him about how friendly the WordPress bloggers are, and how it’s easy to become sort of a family with a lot of people from all over the world when you blog. So I hope you’ll help me welcome him into our community.

Here’s a link to his site: Sharing Jesus With The World.

 

 


 

New Poetic Form???

QUILL & BOOK - SEPIAI’ve been experimenting with some unusual, new (I think) poetic forms. The following form is one of my experiments, and I haven’t found any indication that the form has been used previously by any other poets. If readers are aware of this exact form already in use somewhere — anywhere in the world — I’d appreciate your letting me know. This particular form is difficult for me, but I’m working with it as a way of stretching myself and forcing myself out of a too-comfortable rut.

Here are the details of the form:
The poem must consist of 5 lines with the following syllable count:
Line 1 — 3 syllables
Line 2 — 6 syllables
Line 3 — 12 syllables
Line 4 — 6 syllables
Line 5 — 3 syllables

Meter in lines 1 and 5 is dactyl. But meter in lines 2-4 is iambic.
Rhyme scheme:  Lines 1, 3, and 5 must rhyme.

Following is one example of a poem using this pattern.

TAKING A SNOOZE

Lullabies
Encourage babies’ sleep.
But often as I sing I also close my eyes,
And sleep myself until
Baby cries.

_________________________________________________

If you’ve come across this pattern previously, let me know.  Or if you’d like to try it yourself, leave your own poem in the “Comments” section below — or leave a link to your own site with your poem in a post.

 


Also posted this on my ‘Ahyoka’ site.

 

 

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A Little Bit More of My Shameless Marketing

PROFESSOR'S EDUCATION FOR AMAZON FRONT ONLY - 2Just wanted to let readers know that the inspirational novel The Professor’s Education is now selling on Amazon in paperback and digital. Many of you read the novel free right here on this site a few months ago. And many of you expressed your enjoyment of it as well. Thank you again.

Now, here’s my pitch. If you did read it for free here and enjoyed it, how about purchasing a copy for a friend or loved one who enjoys inspirational romance?

Paperback: $7.99
Digital: $2.99

And, by the way, did you know that a lot of men enjoy inspirational romance novels? It isn’t just us gals. I’ve had a number of gentlemen tell me how much they appreciate reading a good Christian love story.  Sooooo, girls, why not buy one for your boyfriend or hubby?

And thanks in advance.

 

 


 

Still In Love with Maddison Holt after All These Years

SET FREE AMAZON FRONT COVERIt all started the evening of Thanksgiving Day, 2002. I’d been toying with the idea for months, but hadn’t done anything about it. I’d written non-fiction books and articles for years – and for all sorts of venues – but the idea of sitting down and writing an entire novel was still just that: an idea. I knew I was ready to get started, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted the story to go. Thoughts popped in and out of my head, sometimes melding, but sometimes bouncing off each other, and I didn’t really have an entire plot settled in my mind yet. I did know the setting. I had just returned two months prior from my favorite place on the planet – The Great Smoky Mountains – and I knew for sure that I was going back there in the first novel I wrote.

I had spent most of Thanksgiving Day with my family – feasting, fellowshipping, celebrating. But I excused myself earlier than usual because I was anxious to get home and open up my Canon electric typewriter. I’d made up my mind that procrastination had come to an end, and the time had come to dive into my first novel.

And, yes, it’s true. I was still using a typewriter. I hadn’t moved into the computer age at all, and, quite frankly, had no intention of doing so at that time. I was perfectly happy pounding my little typewriter keyboard and hearing its quiet hum and the gentle, but efficient sound of its carriage return. The only desk in the house was so loaded with various kinds of office equipment that I didn’t even consider trying to clean it off enough to use it for the writing project. Besides, I didn’t have a chair that was comfortable to sit in for long periods of time if I used the desk. So after a little deliberation, I placed a rather large round footstool in the middle of my living room floor, sat my Canon on top of it, pulled up a chair that was just the right height, and sat down to write chapter one.

I didn’t have a title, of course, not being completely sure where I was going with this story. I had the beginning, and I wanted to get it down while it was fresh. Then after that, there would be time to do some more thinking and try to set down some sort of outline for the rest of the project. As a creative writing teacher, I always tell my students to follow their creativity, and when an idea is hot, get it into print right then. You don’t have to wait until you have the entire story in your head and have a clear outline printed out before you start. But once you have the material that was throbbing through your brain safely under wraps, then it’s a good idea to lay out some form of outline (although it can be very informal) to help keep yourself on track as you move through all the succeeding chapters.

I knew my main character, Maddison Holt. He was a private detective from the moment he came to life in my thoughts. I’d had plenty of experience with P. I’s. My husband, after years in regular law enforcement positions, had opened his own detective agency and managed it for many years. He hired others to work with him, and, believe me, after several years of hanging around with those detectives – and serving as secretary for some of those years and writing up their reports for my husband’s agency – I knew what a detective’s life was like. So I had that part pretty well covered. And, of course, I had planned a romance as part of the story all along. And, thankfully, I knew about romance as well – the good side and the bad side.

But as I wrote chapter one, I didn’t know Maddison nearly as well as I was going to before the novel was finished. He grew from chapter one and became a much more interesting and lovable person as he walked through his life-changing experiences.

Now, just in case a few of my readers are concerned that the name Maddison seems strange for a man, perhaps I’d better set the record straight. I’ve had one or two people mention that concern to me when they read the book. But, you see, the name Madison (or Maddison) was, for multiple decades, primarily a name given to boys – not girls.

That habit of naming children incurred a significant change in 1984, when the movie Splash came to the big screen. In that movie, the main female character – a mermaid who turns into a woman — discovers that, in order to function successfully with other people, she needs a name. As she’s walking down the street with the male lead, trying to decide on a name, she looks up and discovers a street sign for “Madison Avenue.” She decides that she likes the name Madison and adopts it for her own.

From that point on, and for at least the next decade, hundreds of baby girls found themselves christened “Madison,” and the tide was turned. Now the name is used for many more girls than boys, but, the truth is still the same. Madison is a good strong name for a man. I’m not sure why I gave my Maddison two d’s in his name. I did so without conscious thought, and once when I considered changing it, I just couldn’t seem to make myself do so. I knew him by that name, and he just wasn’t the same person if I changed his spelling. Call me peculiar if you’d like, but I’m the author, and I got to make that call.

Maddison was hurting when he first stepped onto the pages of Set Free To Love, and he had good reason. He was tormented by problems caused partly by the results of evil at work in this world, and partly by his own faulty thinking. But as he struggled to hold onto his faith in God – and as he learned to let God take control and work through His holy Word to change Maddison – the tide of battle turned, and Maddison came into the victory he so grievously needed. Other characters faced their own crises as well – which also affected Maddison – and they, too, learned to find their solutions in the Word of God. Readers of the book were drawn into the characters’ lives and their victories through God’s Word in ways that, hopefully, encouraged and inspired them as they proceeded through the book.

Well, Set Free To Love came out in the market place about twelve years ago, and since then, many readers have come to know and love Maddison Holt. And they’ve been inspired to trust God every day for His love and mercy in their own lives in the same way they experienced the characters in the book trusting God and receiving deliverance and victory in their lives.

The book has been my best-selling novel by far, and although I truly love all of the other eleven novels I’ve written – and I have to say I have no actual favorites – I can say without hesitation that SET FREE TO LOVE will always have the same special place in my heart that a firstborn child has in the heart of most mothers. And as for Maddison himself – well, let’s just say I’m as much in love with him as I was on Thanksgiving Day, 2002 – maybe more so. And why not? He’s been one of the best things to happen to me in my entire life.

This month is a special celebration month for me. Although I’ve had my books on the market for over twelve years, this month marks my third year of publishing with Amazon. So I’m celebration with a special sale on SET FREE TO LOVE. I’m also posting excerpts of the first three chapters. Just below this paragraph, you’ll find Chapter One, and in the next two posts coming up, you’ll find Chapter Two and Chapter Three respectively. Now, enjoy first excerpt below. And if you feel that you – just maybe – could fall in love with him too, hop on over to Amazon and order a copy of SET FREE TO LOVE for yourself.


SET FREE TO LOVE  –  EXCERPT

CHAPTER ONE

As his vision suddenly blurred, Maddison realized he’d let it happen again. He swiped at his eyes with a thumb and forefinger, trying at the same time to pinch back more tears. He’d have to pull off the highway, if he didn’t get better control of himself. The next moment, he could feel the anger boiling up from deep inside, needing an outlet. He’d swung back and forth like this relentlessly, between the tears and the anger for … how many weeks had it been now … way too many … but then not really enough … not enough to dull the pain or answer any of the questions.

He had cleared his vision in time to see the turn into the rest area he’d been anticipating for several miles. He parked in a space right in front of the two well lit buildings and managed to drag his body from the car, feeling as if every part of him were too heavy to move of its own volition.

Mmm-Mmm!” It felt so good to stretch arms and legs … and back and neck … and … everything, for that matter. His last stop had been almost six hours ago, and after driving that long without a break, just standing up and breathing the crisp night air felt like a blessing.

Maddison Holt was used to driving, though. It was part and parcel of his work. Ten years as a police officer had naturally included extended hours behind the wheel of a squad car, but since he had established his own detective agency eight years ago, he had really laid on the miles. Even the brand new Avalon he’d bought only a couple of months ago already registered past three thousand on the odometer.

He leaned against the side of that car now, breathing in the fall night, thinking that during those eight years, he must have made close to a hundred stops like this at public rest areas along the interstates he’d traveled. It was late enough that there was no one else around except a couple of truckers over on their side of the park, obviously getting in their required quota of sleep. That was good. He needed the stillness … the aloneness.

He was a tall man … six foot, two, and strongly built … all muscle. There hadn’t been time for any of it to turn to fat, and at forty, he knew it had been a blessing that he’d had to push himself hard enough to stay in shape. But his strength wasn’t all physical. Anyone who met him instantly recognized a power and authority that emanated from him without any conscious effort on his part.

His dark brown hair was streaked with gray, but that didn’t detract from his looks. He wasn’t exactly handsome; most of his features were unremarkable. But thick, curling, black lashes always drew attention immediately to his eyes … gray eyes that seemed to change their shade with every emotion. They lit up, flashing shades of silver and blue when he laughed, which rarely happened these days. But when his feelings became intense, they turned to charcoal. Tonight, though, they were just tired, red-streaked, and burning, from the strain of driving so long … and … he had to admit to himself … probably from all the hours of crying that had gone on intermittently over the past several weeks.

He wasn’t ashamed to cry, but … He shook his head now at his own thoughts. “Man!” His voice was gruff in the still night air. “I can’t even keep from crying any more! How does a tough cop get to be so weak that he just gives in to whatever feelings overpower him at the moment?”

But he finally pushed all these thoughts from his mind as he pushed himself away from the car and headed for the lighted building that housed the vending machines. Coffee, hot and strong, that’s what he needed right now. At least two cups, he thought, as he dug his wallet from his back pocket. “I hope these machines have plenty of change,” he muttered out loud. “I need a load of sugar too.”

He had thrown a couple of sandwiches and some soft drinks into a cooler on the floor of the car, but he had finished those off at the last rest stop, not stopping again until now even to go to the bathroom … a fact that he suddenly now realized needed to be remedied before he slipped this dollar bill into the machine.

Having taken care of that most pressing need, he sat down at one of the isolated tables and polished off a chocolate-coated ice cream bar and a twin-pack of chocolate cupcakes covered with icing, along with the already pre-determined two cups of coffee. Disposing of his trash and heading for the car, he spoke out loud in a surprised tone: “I do feel better!” He couldn’t hold back a chuckle. “I guess maybe it isn’t just the female gender who benefit from all that chocolate.”

Back on the interstate, he was glad traffic was light because his mind kept wandering. In about another three hours, he’d be turning gratefully into the long driveway at the farm. Uncle Matt’s farm … nestled in close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park … just close enough to Gatlinburg to benefit from any entertainment it offered, but just far enough out to miss the relentless press of the tourists.

How many times the two Holt brothers had made this journey together, pushing eagerly to get to the one place on earth they could always totally relax. … The Holt brothers … five years apart in age, but so close in spirit and soul. Maddison had been named for Grandfather Holt, and five years later, baby brother had come along and been christened after their only uncle, Matthew Vickers.

There it was again: the moisture in his eyes … the constriction in his throat… . Maybe he’d made a mistake deciding to come to the farm after all. There’d be so many memories. But he had to go somewhere where he couldn’t keep trying to work himself to death. His mother had certainly insisted that this was the right move. He smiled now at the thought.

What a mother he had! Refused to be dependent on any of her family, but wanted them all close enough to love on. He chuckled softly now as he remembered his last visit with her before leaving for Tennessee. She had speared him with those sharp, still bright, green eyes of hers, pointed her finger in his nose, and said, “Son, you get yourself down to your Uncle Matt’s, and don’t you come back until you and the Lord have got this all worked out, and you have peace and joy in your heart again.”

As he let out a deep sigh, he spoke out loud now, “Lord, when You chose a mother for Matt and me, You sure did a number one job. I know she was devastated by all that happened, and she didn’t need me leaving town so soon. But she could see that her big, strong, hunk-of-lawman son couldn’t handle the pain as well as she could and showed me the door. … Love doesn’t get any more unselfish than that.” He let his thoughts dwell on that truth for a moment or two. “Just take good care of her, Lord, and make her know that I love and appreciate her more than I can ever put into words …”

The big, slow yawn that sneaked up on him made him realize that he had actually started to relax while he’d been praying. “Thanks, Lord,” he spoke again softly. “Even when I don’t know if I can really believe or trust anymore, You’re still there.”

Maddison realized he was only about five miles from his uncle’s place when he passed a familiar convenience store. Seeing the gas pumps triggered an automatic glance at his gas gauge, and he almost choked. It was sitting on empty. As quickly as possible, he made a turn and headed back to the convenience store, chiding himself the whole time. “For crying out loud, Holt, you’ve been in police work for eighteen years! You know you keep your car filled up all the time!”

Just as Maddison slid his car even with the gas pump, the door of the convenience store burst open and a male figure wearing a blue ski mask ran through it and headed across the parking lot. He had ducked his head low. One arm was hidden beneath his jacket, and with the other, he jerked the mask off of his head as he ran, revealing enough of his face to make it obvious that he was only a youth. Just a few feet behind him came an elderly man shouting, “Stop! You can’t get away with robbery!”

Instinct and adrenaline kicked in at the same time, and before he could have a conscious thought, Maddison was out of the car and tackling the boy, bringing him to the ground. A gun flew from one of the kid’s hands and a brown paper bag fell from his jacket as he sprawled across the concrete drive.

From long habit, Maddison pinned the boy’s arms behind his back and hoisted him to his feet, just barely stopping himself before he recited the Miranda rights to him. By this time, the elderly store manager was beside them, and Maddison, straining to keep the resisting boy under control, spoke roughly: “I’ll stick around and help hold on to him until the police get here.”

“Oh, no … no, that won’t be necessary,” the manager said to Maddison, and then immediately addressed the boy. “Lex! It is you! I thought I recognized your voice. … Why Lex? … Why me? … Why at all?” … When he got no response, he turned back to Maddison. “There’s no need for the police,” he said. “We’ll have the money back, and nobody else needs to be involved … except his sister, of course. I’ll have to call Beth.

Wait a minute,” Maddison almost shouted, “what do you mean no need for the police? This is armed robbery! And I gather you know this stupid punk,” he added, as he jerked the boy into a position where he could force him to precede him back into the store. Then he pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and thrust it at the manager with the order, “Pick up that gun with this, and be sure you take hold of it by the barrel! Get the bag too. I assume that’s where the money is,” he added, continuing to push the boy to the store. Maddison could see that the kid’s face was scraped and bleeding on the side where he had come into contact with the concrete, but the boy wasn’t saying a word, nor was he resisting quite as strongly as at first.

The store manager did as he had been ordered, retrieving the gun and the bag, and hurriedly followed them into the store, thankful there were no other customers. “Let’s go to the room at the back where we can talk,” he said.

All right by me,” Maddison replied, “but you get on that phone to the police, or I will. I can’t hang around here all night to see he doesn’t do you any worse harm!”

NO! PLEASE!” the manager urged, seemingly more agitated at the thought of the police than he had been by the robbery itself. “Please, let me explain,” he said as he ushered them into a small room accommodating two scarred wooden chairs and an old desk half buried beneath cardboard boxes and stacks of papers.

Maddison shoved the boy into the nearest chair with the threat, “Don’t even look like you want to move!” The boy’s only response was to pull his jacket back up onto his shoulders and hang his head.

“My name is Abel Walker,” the elderly man said as he extended his right hand to Maddison, “and I want to thank you … and … to explain. You see, I know this boy … Alex Hanover. He used to work for me, and he was a good worker. … He was a good kid … until he started running with a couple of local gang members. They need to be in jail, but not Lex. Jail would only do him more harm. He just needs enough time away from them to get his thinking straight again. I’m going to call his sister. It’ll break her heart, but she has to know. Will you just keep an eye on him until I can talk to her?”

Why not,” Maddison sighed. “I’m into it this far. I guess you might have a point … if you’re really sure this is his first offense.” He pulled the second chair in front of the door and sat down on it wearily. This was about the last thing he needed tonight. Some vacation. … Well, all the years on the force had drilled into him the fact that a law enforcement officer is never really off duty, but … man! … could he use some sleep! He could hear Abel Walker on the phone now in the other room, so he tried to follow the conversation.

“Beth, dear, this is Abel Walker. I’m down at the store. … Yes, it is late for me, but my night clerk couldn’t get his car started. But listen, Beth, Lex is down here … and … he’s in a little trouble. … He tried to rob the store … with a gun, I’m afraid. … Oh NO! NO! He didn’t shoot anybody! Nobody’s been hurt … except for a few scratches on Lex himself. But I thought you’d want to come down, and we’ll decide what to do. … No, I haven’t called the police. I don’t think that’s the solution, do you?”


SET FREE TO LOVE – On Sale This Week Only

Paperback: $7.75

Digital: $1.99

~~~

Hey, Jake, Wanna Buy a Book?

EVERYTHING'S JAKE COVER FOR FBBOOK SALE — ONE WEEK ONLY — STARTS TODAY

EVERYTHING’S JAKE

E-Book: $0.99

Paperback:  $4.00

It’s just a little love story. But, then again, it’s a whole lot more than a love story. It’s about finding out who you really are and learning to like that person – and discovering that liking who you are opens the door for the best relationships with other people. It’s about family – and friends who are just like family. It’s about letting God’s way of loving take control of your heart.

Meet Mariah Jacoby. She’s happiest working under the hood of a car, but she’s convinced that grimy hands and greasy smudges on her face aren’t exactly what guys are looking for in a girlfriend. Unfortunately, though, she’s having trouble holding down a job in any other field, despite college degrees and an upbeat personality. Desperate to change her unemployed status, she finally admits it’s time to face the fact that she’s really a “grease monkey” at heart, but dare she hope there’s a guy in her future who’s dreaming of a girl who smells like engine oil?

 

 


 

Calling Trash By It’s Real Name

In this video, Robert Florczak, artist and illustrator, shares a succinct and lucid exposition on how we have allowed creativity to be taken over by man’s lowest and most base qualities of character. He’s referring specifically to painting and sculpture, but it’s just as true in the field of literature.

I see it most predominantly in poetry — with the modern attitude toward poetry being one that snubs its nose at any work that is based in the strict disciplines of meter and rhyme. These two characteristics of poetry have literally been the major components of judging a poem’s quality and excellence for generations. Now, everybody and his brother claims he’s a poet because he writes a few prose lines of symbolic jargon, breaking those lines in a helter-skelter pattern (which translates to NO pattern), and which says absolutely nothing that makes sense to most reasonably intelligent minds. (Let me hasten to add that everyone who writes free verse is not guilty of this sin, but a huge number of them are guilty.)

And the publishers of poetry overwhelmingly cater to these works, turning up their noses at the skilled poets who have expressed beautiful thoughts in forms that required them to actually discipline themselves and apply real mental and psychological effort at creating their work.

I recently read a piece of free verse by a poet (whose name I will not give) who was being praised and promoted in a publication that is available world-wide. I read the piece. Then I read it again. I could not understand it at all. Now I admit I’m not “the smartest person on the planet,” but I have a substantially high IQ, I have a college degree, and I have spent years teaching English, composition, and literary interpretation to high school and college students. With that kind of experience under my belt, if I literally COULD NOT even understand that piece, then it was trash. It’s good for nothing. Why was this publication promoting that particular man and that particular poem when thousands of other poets had written perfectly understandable and exceptionally beautiful works in the same year? I’ll tell you why.  Because the public has bought into the lie that art is now supposed to be something that insults our intelligence and our highest moral instincts.

We see the problem, not just in poetry, but in all literary art. To me poetry stands out, but in truth, the dedication to ‘trash’ in literature is most easily seen on the movie screen. Where do those scripts come from? Well, to be sure, some of them are written specifically for the big screen or for TV, but a great number of them are taken from the novels currently on the market. So what does that say about those written works? You’re right. They fall into the category of trash as well.

So am I saying all modern literature and art are trash? Absolutely not. But we as a society have stopped discriminating between what is real art and what is trash. We’ve let the trash mongers take the lead and take over. As Robert Florczak says on this video, we need to get back to taking the time to judge the works put out there in the marketplace and refuse to purchase, visit, celebrate, advertise, or support the counterfeits that offer us no genuine excellence or beauty.

Let’s get back to truly appreciating genuine art — the works that actually inspire and enrich us because of their profound and life-elevating qualities. The works that required all-out commitment to excellence and tireless work and discipline on the part of their creators, so that they would be worthy of being accepted as true art.  When we get back to judging art as we should — and responding appropriately with our money and our time — we’ll start seeing the trash tossed into the garbage heap where it belongs. And we’ll start seeing more real artists stepping up to the plate to create pieces that will make our lives richer.