A Modern Fairy Tale

we-never-look-up

Once upon a time in a land far and gone, there was a story teller. Oh, not just any story teller. No, this story teller could weave an emotional net with her words, capturing any and all who heard her thus causing them to fall under her spell. She could make people laugh; she could make people cry; she could evoke sighs; and she could appear wise.

Yes, her stories were wondrous things to behold, and all within the land would gather around to hear her tales of daring, romance, and comedy sublime. But then one day, the story teller saw that no longer was everyone enthralled by her stories. Alas, instead of heeding her marvelous stories, they walked by, ignoring her and her magical words.

“It must be a trick of the web wizards,” she thought. How else could such an occurrence be explained? Always, were her stories binding to those who heard; always, were her words bewitching enough to entangle even the most reluctant listener. But now…now, did no one stop; in fact, no one even slowed down as she let her words weave their magic stories.

Instead, with heads down, faces blank, and fingers twitching over strange glowing screens, her audiences scurried past without even noticing her. The story teller, bewildered by this, vowed to venture away from her cottage at the edge of the village, and strike out toward the village square. She had to see for herself whether this affliction was a random thing or some horrible epidemic. So, as the sun arose the next morning, she cast her feet upon the path toward town. She followed the road as it wandered through farms and neighborhoods, around the shops, until it came to the village square.

With each step she took, her heart sank lower and lower. While one or two travelers were drawn to her, and greeted her with requests for stories, most continued past without noticing her at all. Instead, they traveled with their eyes focused downward while their fingers danced across the glowing screen they held in their hands.

“This cannot be,” she exclaimed. “How is it that these glowing screens have entranced them all?”

Sick of heart, she cast her web of words once more. But this time she sought only to ensnare one of those with the magic screens. Once captured, she compelled the boy to speak; to explain to her what sorcery held him so enslaved. With barely a glance her way, his voice explained, yet his fingers never stilled. They twitched and fumbled across the screen, flicking here and tapping there. The story teller’s eyes grew hard, and her mouth did frown as she learned the secrets of the magic devices.

She released the boy and watched while he continued his flicking, twitching, and tapping, while he scurried down the street. That’s when the idea came to her. Her lips slid upward and a scheming glint lit up her eyes. She nodded to herself as she brewed her spell. Yes, she knew what to do now.

Returning to her home, she worked far into the night. Come the dawning of the day, her spell complete, she smiled. Now, they would hear her words, she thought. Now, they would once again be enmeshed in her web of words. Once more, would she be the supreme story teller.

She cast her spell and it crept through the crevices and back corners of every web site ever devised by the clever web wizards. And soon her stories were everywhere on the Internet. The siren song of her magic words would no longer be ignored, but instead would they appear on the glowing screens that each person held. And for those few who shied away from the web wizards’ tool, she magicked her stories into books of paper. These, too, were easily procured and she made sure they were available to any and all. And soon, she saw the changes she had wrought appear across the lands.

While still the people scurried past her, their eyes glued to their magic screens; no longer were their fingers twitching and their faces dull like death. Instead, they were smiling, laughing, crying, and frowning as her words flashed from the screen into their minds, and then into their hearts. No longer were they immune to her magic, but rather had her magic net of stories captured them all by traveling via the Internet and into their own shiny devices where her words once more bewitched and bespelled them.

And the story teller, using her own magic glowing screen, watched her rankings climb and climb as each of her stories ensnared another reader. And she thought herself clever and wise to have used the web wizards’ own tools to once again show the people how wonderful were her stories.

Technologies

Where is Love?

wave washed heart and pink shovel_4500Where has the romantic gone?

How did she become lost?

Where is the lonely little girl who constantly poured her soul

Into a few choice words—laying bare her life, her heart, and her mind?

I have searched everywhere, yet she remains lost.

I see a form; it could be her.

Instead I am confronted with some glowering old woman

Whose sour disposition seeps forth from every seam of her face,

and every pore of her skin.

Like the odor of spoiled meat, it surrounds her in a miasma,

full of despair and dislike.

When she sees me, she grabs my sleeve

and demands querulously, “Where is love? Where has it gone?”

“I was a young woman once—in love with life and filled with joy.

Now, here I am dressed in these rags. My hair is coarse and my

face is wrinkled. I do not understand. How did I come to be this way?”

Her tears follow the runnels of her face

until they tumble free and splash against her shawl.

Her claw-like fingers still grip my sleeve

and I find myself patting her age-speckled hand.

Love is so fleeting, so swiftly fading.

With its departure do we lose our youth,

our beauty and our way.

Feeling her pain, I turn her toward the light.

Wiping away her tears, I softly explain

that love is there, in front of her.

For within the light all is joy,

and within the light all is music,

and within the light everything is love.

With a look of awe, she releases me

and reaches toward the light.

As she shuffles forward, her countenance changes.

Her face grows smoother, and her back straighter,

and as the glow surrounds her, somewhere deep

within myself I feel the tones of love resound.

Writer by Day, Author by Night…

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I’ve taken webinars, attended seminars, read books, and listened to podcasts. I’ve read blogs and news posts, attended conferences, and bought and received numerous books on how to market my own renderings.

I’ve created websites, blog sites, a brand, and a following. I’ve created Twitter and Facebook accounts, and I’ve learned how to tweet, post, and create YouTube information. I’ve given talks and presentations, handed out “free samples,” and given away promotion items.

However, the biggest lesson I’ve learned regarding the marketing of my books is: I’m an author and a novelist. I’m not a social media adept; in fact, I’m not a social person at all. I’m an extreme introvert, who would rather continue writing stories and books, than go through the ordeals of trying to market what I create.

I, like many a “starving artist,” simply do not have the constitution nor the personality for marketing. On top of that, I do not have the time. I have a full-time job that pays the bills for both me and my spouse, another full-time job of creating the books, and a part-time job of editing and publishing materials for other writers. All of this barely leaves me any time to eat and sleep.

So, when faced with a choice of whether to catch four or five hours of sleep or to attend a conference or speaking engagement and face a multitude of strangers, I choose to catch up on my sleep.

It’s a choice that I made long ago when I first entered this marvelous world of creative writing. As much as I would love to be able to make a living writing books, I have learned to content myself with an abbreviated form of that: I make a living writing.

Granted, it’s not the type of writing that wins awards or wows audiences. And I doubt anyone would option any of the writing I do at my day job for a movie or a play, but it is writing, and it does pay the bills. I consider my day job a warm-up to my real purpose—telling stories. So, once my day job is over, I can let my imagination run rampant and start putting all those wild and crazy ideas I’ve had stewing on the back burner down in print.

I may never become a Louisa May Alcott or a JK Rowling, but I can still say that I am a full-time author. After all, I do put out at least one book per year (or try to), people do like my fiction and non-fiction stories, and I get to enjoy and indulge myself during the weekends and evenings when I put my stories together.

I’m sure there are people out there who would say I’m copping out and not living up to my full potential. And that’s probably true. I suppose, I could quit my day job, leave my bills unpaid, and just write stories all day long forever. But quitting my day job is not going to help me become something I’m not—an advertising and marketing guru. So, rather than thinking of myself as a failure, I tend to think that I’ve made a decent compromise. I write to live, and I live to write. What a wonderful life to have.

 

Tran’zr series…coming soon

I’m currently working on the first book in a paranormal romance series. I’m finding it fun, and definitely different from any of the other books I’ve written.

Here’s a draft of the blurb that will go on the back of the book:

Changing dance partners can be dangerous. When a young lawyer waltzes into Terra’s life, she decides to give him a whirl. But when she tangoes with Death, someone she never expected dips into her life and steals her heart.

I’ve already gotten some book cover ideas from my pal at DL Design and Digital Art, which I’ve posted here. (If you like any of the designs, let me know. I always enjoy learning what appeals to folks.)

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The short synopsis is:

I’m Terra McGinley…Tran’zr and technical writer, and I’m dating-impaired. I’m okay at getting first dates (though my mom would say otherwise—she’s always trying to fix me up; if it’s male, single, and over the age of consent, she’ll drag it home for me to meet.) However, when it comes to follow-up dates…well, let’s just say that my mother shouldn’t expect to hear wedding bells any time soon.

Being a tran’zr is a part-time gig—which is a good thing, because the pay is non-existent and the hours are horrible; otherwise, it’s a great job. Tran’zrs help transition people from the physical world to the spiritual and vice versa. Some people call us Grim Reapers, while others refer to us as Death Escorts, but we prefer Transitioner, or Tran’zr for short.

A review of “The City of God: Transgressions”

cityofgod_bookcover“The City of God: Transgressions” by R.S. Ingermanson

Summary: Can history be changed? Three people are about to find out.

It’s A.D. 57 when Rivka Meyers walks out of the wormhole into a world she’s only studied in books. Ancient Jerusalem is awesome! Rivka can’t believe her friend Ari Kazan’s theory actually worked. But when she runs into Ari’s whacko colleague, Damien West, in the Temple, Rivka starts to smell a rat.

When Ari discovers that Damien and Rivka have gone through a wormhole that’s on the edge of collapse, he has to make a horrible choice: Follow them and risk never coming back — or lose the woman of his dreams forever

Recommendation: Yes

Review:

I love stories about history and time travel and this book covered both points quite well. While the science portion of the book wasn’t integrated as smoothly as I would have liked, it was expressed well enough to convince me that the premise of the story was possible.

I also wasn’t enamored with Ari, who was rather narrow in his outlook and beliefs. However, I realized that if I was wondering why Ari couldn’t be a bit more liberal, then the author had done a good job of creating this character. After all, we don’t get aggravated with characters that don’t seem real to us, do we?

Overall, I was quite pleased with this story. It had a strong female lead, which I found rather refreshing. She was, in many ways, very self-sufficient, yet her surroundings were so different from what she was used to that it led her to have to rely on others. However, her reliance wasn’t as a damsel in distress, but more of someone seeking directions in a strange, new land. And it was strange and new, even though it was also part of her past.

The small moment in history that the author chose to explore was one I had never given much thought to, and I was intrigued by his examination of it. I found his projection of the possibilities that could be spawned based on how this moment played out, compelling and interesting. It was a juxtaposition of Judaism and Christianity; the point at which Christianity could become unrealized or it could become what it has…one of the leading religions in the world. Given the backgrounds and biases of his main characters, it was the perfect backdrop. Would they help or hurt the outcome of history? Would their interference (unintentional or deliberate) skew our world into one totally different from what we know, or would they only be fulfilling what history had already said had happened?

Find out for yourself. Read the book…it’s really a great way to spend a weekend.

 

 

Lighting the World…1 Book at a Time

old-books-candleAs an author do you ever wonder why you even bother? Do you sometimes think that no one in the world is ever going to notice your endeavors? Sometimes it’s easy to lose the light of our dreams and end up in the darkness of our own thoughts.

Sometime it’s easy to convince ourselves that because our sales are low (or non-existent) that it must be because no one reads anymore or because no one cares about the written word. But that is simply not true. In fact, some of the most successful, richest, and smartest people in the world today claim that reading is what helped them get to where there are.

In several interviews over the years, Warren Buffett has stated that he spends five to six hours per day reading five newspapers and at least 500 pages of corporate reports.

Bill Gates says he reads 50 books per year. He also blogs about them. He says he enjoys making recommendations about those books he feels can help change view points or bring about insights. And while he says he doesn’t read much fiction, he will if the book is recommended to him by someone he respects. In fact, the last piece of fiction he read (and blogged about) was one that his wife really enjoyed, so he wanted to see what it was all about.

Another avid reader is Mark Zuckerberg. He says he reads at least one book every two weeks. Some are books that others recommend to him, and others are titles that he comes across himself.

Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother, and still tries to find time to read whenever he can. Mr. Musk claims that reading gives him peace of mind and helps him find the answers to stubborn problems by taking his mind off of the issue for a while.

Oprah Winfrey credits books with a great deal of her success. She says, “Books were my pass to personal freedom.” In fact, both Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey have a section on their websites where they recommend books or authors that they like.

Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads two hours day. He’s not particular as to whether he reads fiction or non-fiction as long as what he reads helps him open his mind to new ideas.

Dan Gilbert, self-made billionaire and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, also reads one to two hours a day.

Therefore, while it may seem easier to claim that reading is dead or to believe that no one takes the time to read books anymore, the fact is, books and the printed word are still important and impactful. And who’s to say that the young adult or teenager who reads our books today won’t turn out to be the next Elon Musk, Ellen DeGeneres, or Mark Zuckerberg?

Every book is a little bit of light in the darkness of illiteracy, ignorance, and bias. Books bring different perspectives and insights to others. Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, it can help others view the world from a different angle. So, take heart and remember: that every reader who finds your books extends that light a little further, and a little further…until soon the whole world will be lit up.

Anyone for Pie?

turtlepie

The pie that is chocolate is missing a piece.
The pie, which is chocolate, is missing a piece.

Besides making you hungry, the two sentences have a lot in common; however, they also have some important but subtle differences. It’s learning the subtle differences that can help you use the words that and which correctly. For example, the first sentence about the chocolate pie implies there is more than one flavor of pie, but only the chocolate pie is missing a piece. The second sentence states that there is only one pie and it has a piece missing. It also offers a side note to let you know that the pie is chocolate, but that fact is not considered as important as the fact that a piece is missing. (Obviously the second sentence wasn’t written by a chocoholic.)

The word that introduces restrictive clauses, or clauses that supply essential information to the intended meaning of the sentence. This is information that the reader needs to know to understand all that the sentence states and implies. However, the word which introduces non-restrictive clauses, or clauses that supply non-essential, supplemental information to the sentence, and if left out won’t change the sentence’s meaning (stated or implied). When trying to decide whether to use that or which, ask yourself these questions:

If I take out the clause, does my sentence’s meaning remain the same? If it does, you should use which; if it doesn’t, then use the word that.

Does the sentence feel as if it needs a comma? If so, this might indicate that you need to use the word which, because the clause it introduces is preceded by a comma. (The pie, which is chocolate, is missing a piece.)

So, when you’re putting together your sentence and wondering if you need to put in a that or a which, you need to think about what the point of the sentence is. What is it that you want the readers to know—do they need to know that a piece of pie is missing, or that a piece of chocolate pie is missing. Now, before you run out and get yourself a piece of chocolate pie, try the short quiz I’ve included below.

Quiz
The four sentences below need either the word that or which. Determine the word needed based on whether the adjoining information is necessary for the reader to understand the message or whether the information is just nice to know.
Note: Remember to place a comma before any clause introduced by which.

  • The user guide should only contain instructions [that/which] were verified.
  • The application requires a logon and password [that/which] prevents unauthorized access.
  • The report shows every account [that/which] has been closed in the past 30 days.
  • They canceled yesterday’s ABC project meeting [that/which] was already rescheduled twice.

The answers and explanations are below:

Answers:

  • The user guide should only contain instructions [that/which] were verified. The information “…that were verified” tells us exactly what type of instructions. You need the additional information to clarify the sentence; therefore, you need to use that.
  • The application requires a logon and password, [that/which] prevents unauthorized access. The information that the logon and password prevent unauthorized access is interesting, but it isn’t essential; therefore, you need to use a comma and the word which.
  • The report shows every account [that/which] has been closed in the past 30 days. Because the report is only showing accounts that were closed in the past 30 days, you need to use that; otherwise it would read as if the report were showing every account.
  • They canceled yesterday’s ABC project meeting, [that/which] was already rescheduled twice. The information about the meeting being rescheduled twice is not essential to understanding that the ABC project meeting was canceled; therefore, you need to put in a comma and use which.

So, now go ahead and get that piece of pie.