Monday, May 12, 2014

7 Age Milestones

This morning I turned 50. The big five-oh. It's no great accomplishment, really. Lots of people did it before me. Lots will do it after me. But I'll never do it again.

There are seven age milestones we all know well.

1) Turning thirteen is a biggie. We all remember becoming a teenager, innocently thinking it would be a completely positive experience, then learning it is anything but.

2) For girls there's the Sweet 16 milestone. No such thing for boys ... or maybe there is. By that age we've started to appreciate our Sweet 16 counterparts.

3) Then there's the biggest-until-now milestone -- Eighteen. Back in my day that meant we were adults. Today it's more like adult-on-probation, with limited benefits until you get used to the real world.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

4 Words That Make Me Cringe

I'm a writer. I love words ... most of the time. There are some words that grate on my ears, like fingernails on a chalkboard. I'm not sure why. Here are four, in no particular order:

1) Cobbler -- but only when used to describe a pie (i.e., I have a peach cobbler in the oven). Cobblers mend shoes. People eat pies. The depth of the pie dish should not be a factor.

2) Pie -- when used to describe a pizza. Don't ask me why.

3) Novelist -- I write novels, so yes, I am one, but that word makes me cringe. Why? I don't know exactly, maybe because it sounds snobbish to me. Call me a writer, or an author, or an SOB, but please don't call me a novelist.

4) Hate-Speech -- Okay, that's two words, but when used together they make a dangerous phrase. How do you define "hate speech"? More importantly, WHO gets to define it? Let's agree to disagree without assuming we hate each other, okay?

This post was originally titled "5 Words That Make Me Cringe" but I could only think of four. I'm a writer. I love words.

What words make you cringe?


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Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Comma

Regardless what you may think, I DO know when and where to place commas in a properly formatted sentence. Problem is, when I put on my author hat, I don't always properly format my sentences. Sometimes my sentences are not sentences at all.

Few people use properly formatted sentences when they carry on casual conversations. Reading a novel should be like being on the receiving end of a casual conversation. Sort of. Creative use of words is an art. Alternating long and short sentences helps keep a paragraph flowing, assuming the paragraph is delivering something useful or entertaining. Entertainment is useful, right?

Don't you hate it when you watch a commercial where all the "real people" talk like they are reading a paper for English class? Do you sit there and shake your head and say, "real people don't talk to each other like that"? I do.

Sometimes my fiction omits commas because I don't want the reader to pause just yet. Sometimes I use a period instead of a comma. Commas say slow down. Periods say stop. Exclamations say stop dammit! Art.

Until a few weeks ago, I thought the practice of omitting commas in fiction was a fairly new trend, but I picked up an old copy of The Grapes of Wrath for a third (fourth?) read. John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath in 1939, and he didn't use a lot of commas. Perhaps there was a shortage of commas in 1939. Maybe, just maybe, William Faulkner used them all up.


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Friday, May 2, 2014

New Release -- BLINDERS

A while back I decided to blog only when I have something to say. Part of the problem with blogs, in my opinion, is that there is too much rehashing of the same information (or lack thereof).

The internet is full of advice for writers (insert almost any other category here and the statement still holds true). Most of that advice is probably well-intentioned, though often misguided, and almost always a repetition of a repetition.

But I digress. I have something to say.

In March, I released my third novel, Blinders. Don't let the title fool you, it's not about horses wearing blinders. It's the story of two men -- Dale Criss, an ex-con who comes home to a small town that hasn't forgotten his crime, and Trap Malone, a no-nonsense sheriff who believes the line between right and wrong is clearly drawn. Dale Criss is innocent of the crime that cost him twenty-five years in prison. He wants revenge more than justice. Sheriff Malone is fair but firm. Unrelenting. Both men have a lot to learn about life, but first they must take off their blinders.

As with my two previous novels, The Night Train and Norton Road, Blinders is crafted around strong characters. By the time you finish reading, I hope the characters I've created will stick with you, like friends you've known, or enemies you can't forget.

All three of my novels are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple's iBooks store, Smashwords, and various other outlets. Visit my website for more information, including how to get your signed paperback copy.

And don't forget to join me on my Facebook Fan Page.

If you like my books, please don't forget to leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And please, don't forget to tell your friends. Heck, tell your enemies, too.